Mudcat Café message #3886396 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3886396
Posted By: Vic Smith
02-Nov-17 - 11:20 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
Jim wrote:-
I don't count Victorian Parlour Ballads or Music Hall compositions among those - they were literary compositions and had no part in 'folk expression'
By chance this morning, I read this by Steve Roud in the 'New Book' -
It is because of this fundamental similarity that these 'pop songs' from the music halls could be easily absorbed into the local tradition and become 'folk songs' (Page 329 - My emphasis)

Now we know that we are as unlikely to agree a definition of folk song as we are to find a leprechaun's crock of gold at the end of a rainbow, but what this points out is that Jim places all emphasis on "origin" whereas Steve is much more concerned with "process" once a song has entered a local or national repertoire.

Another point -
Jim has written
I remain unconvinced that literary hack incapable of producing singable songs whereas Steve shows through evidence that songs of broadside origins are developed improved, localised and made more singable once they have been taken up by the people.
and on another current thread Jim writes -
I am suggesting that at one time working people actively participated in our culture and produced our songs as expressions of their lives, those songs were widely taken up, took rrot elsewhere adapted to suit different localities, ages and circumstances, during the course of which their authors were largely forgotten - thay are your folk songs - nothing to do with age, style or subject matter.
But nowhere does he offer any evidence to back this up and as Steve Gardham and I have written, Roud is an absolute stickler for evidence; if you can't show the reasons for a suggestion, then you should not make it.

One more point - another difference and here I am on dangerous ground fearing that it may be instigating a verbal firestorm such as appears in that other thread.
I wrote -
I was contrasting the approach of Steve Roud with those who bring a already developed socio-political agenda to their writings.
... and much as I agree with the majority of what I have learned of Jim's political views, I feel that he is someone who beings pre-formed views to these discussions and cannot back them up with the research findings that modern scholarship demands.