Mudcat Café message #3879189 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3879189
Posted By: Richard Mellish
28-Sep-17 - 07:21 PM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
I finished it a few days ago and felt a need to start again at the beginning. There's just too much information, from so many perspectives, to take in in one go.

Unlike Sharp, who very early on published "some conclusions" that were based as much on what he wanted to believe as on actual hard evidence that he had gathered in his collecting work, Steve has gone somewhat the other way, presenting a great deal of evidence but (it seems to me) largely leaving his readers to form our own conclusions.

The main (tentative) conclusion that I have drawn so far is that, in the various more-or-less informal / non-commercial settings in which people have sung songs, those songs have typically included some very recent ones and some older ones, but at any given time not very many that were more than a century or so old. That in turn implies that many of the songs passed through a fairly small number of persons (whether aurally or in print/writing) between their original authors and the singers from whom they were collected. Yes there was continuity, variation and selection, but typically only through a limited number of steps, as least insofar as the words are concerned.

The tunes may have benefitted from more stages of transmission by the "folk", thus becoming truly reflective of some ideal folk character as Sharp and his contemporaries liked to believe, but there's not a lot of real evidence for or against that notion.

Anyone feel free to shoot me down if the above is a load of cobblers.