Mudcat Café message #3881282 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3881282
Posted By: Vic Smith
10-Oct-17 - 07:07 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
This morning, I finished reading the book about Sabine Baring-Gould by Martin Graebe. It is a mighty read in more senses that one. By the time that I got to page 339 of tiny print, I came to the penultimate paragraph which I reproduce below. I knew that in honesty and fairness that I had to give it here as a counterweight to my post of 03 Oct 17 - 06:01 AM where I quoted that S-B was firmly of the opinion that the majority of the songs that he has collected as a young man were derived from broadsides. In this paragraph Martin writes -
One of Baring-Gould’s characteristics was that he had some mental flexibility and could change his mind if the evidence showed that his hypothesis was wrong. In respect of folk song his mind changed on several topics over the years. Having initially neglected the words of songs in favour of tunes he came to believe that the words were also important and deserved as good treatment as the tunes. Part of the reason for not having valued the words was his initial assumption that most traditional songs were derived from broadsides and other printer sources. He came to understand that this was not always the case and that many of the songs were older than the broadsides and better in many respects than the printed versions. He also realised that some, particularly the younger singers like John Woodridge and Sam Fone, had learned their songs from broadsides and he recognised that not only could singers fit broadside words to tunes that they knew, but that some could compose tunes themselves. He also realise hat some singers were capable of creating songs from scratch – to record a local event, for example. The flexibility of understanding on Baring-Gould’s part was not a characteristic of other folk song collectors and theorists of the time demonstrated.

I think that the key words are flexibility of understanding rather than approaching this (or any) subject with a rigidity of thinking.