Mudcat Café message #3879987 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3879987
Posted By: Vic Smith
03-Oct-17 - 06:24 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
(Continued from previous post sent in error)

I have no great opinion about the words of many of our Folk Songs. I find most of them (not all) are to be detected in Broadsides. Of these I have 5 thick vols. and I have gone through all the vols. in the Brit. Mus. They are coarse, vulgar things and void of poetry, but I find that the traditional versions are almost invariably better than the broadside versions.


Baring-Gould writing this 120 years ago seems to accord with modern evidence-based research findings that most of our songs started off in the broadsides but it was the ones that were taken up by the singers and entered into the oral tradition that they became shaped and rounded and became more expressive and voiced in the common tongue. Songs were altered consciously or unconsciously and most regularly improved from the printed broadside version. Additions were made to and parodies made of the original. Sets of words were sung to different melodies that suited the voice and taste of the singer. The huge creativity of the traditional singers found much more expression in the adaptation, development & improvement of existing pieces rather than the making of new pieces. Not that this did not happen as Jim has eloquently given an example above,