Mudcat Café message #3880984 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3880984
Posted By: Steve Gardham
08-Oct-17 - 04:15 PM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
Despite it's great breadth, Steve's book is only an overview of the subject. Just think how long the book would have been if at every touch and turn he had included examples. And if he had included even one example it could easily have gone to 50 pages on its own demonstrating the evolution of the song through say theatre, print, oral tradition. If you want chapter and verse on individual songs might I suggest Steve's other recent book The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, or even the Marrow Bones series edited by myself and Malcolm Douglas. Or my Dungbeetle articles on Mustrad.

Matt>>>>it rather begs the question of where they got such gifted talents and broad general knowledge from - being able to knock out so many songs with geographical and technical details about often arcane rural customs and seafaring practices<<<<<<

As Richard writes, these songs only actually form a small percentage of the corpus of material under discussion. The vast majority of the corpus is songs of a generic nature. The writers were obviously literate but generally at the bottom end of the poets scale, sometimes poets trying to turn a quick buck (bob). Writing poetry/songs has always been a precarious existence even at best. Many of the naval engagements were common knowledge and the taverns had plenty of seamen who wished to impart their knowledge of the battle. We have evidence they used newspaper reports occasionally. Of course they recycled older ballads, but as I said, as a rule even these can be traced back to what appears to be an original. Most of the songs attached to customs we have no idea how and where they originated and these form a major part of the 5%. However even some of these have their earliest extant versions in cheap print.

Here's a challenge for you, Matt. Give me a song that is part of the corpus that includes information that would be exclusive to rural dwellers. (Apart from which, we know there was a massive drift of country people into towns and cities to find work at the time when cheap broadsides were at their height. Some of these may have been literate enough to have become broadside writers.)

Tim, will find that song for you shortly.