Mudcat Café message #3886722 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3886722
Posted By: Brian Peters
04-Nov-17 - 08:21 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
Richard Mellish wrote:
"So, however many songs were genuinely made by ploughboys, milkmaids, weavers, etc, few of them ever reached Sharp, Baring-Gould and co unless at some point they found their way into print and thus got more widely disseminated."

This is a really important point. Phil Tanner sang 'Henry Martin' and Sam Larner 'The Lofty Tall Ship', both excellent variants of a single song, interestingly different melodically and textually, but strongly similar as well (Cecil would have called that 'Continuity versus Variation').

It beggars belief that the song would have been known at locations 350 miles apart simply by travelling along some rural grapevine, and indeed there are numerous 19th century printings. Though how the melody kept the same form at that degree of separation, without the help of print, is the really interesting question.