Mudcat Café message #3888658 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3888658
Posted By: Jim Carroll
15-Nov-17 - 05:20 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
"An Irish perspective would be rather different, methinks - but that's to be expected."
The only major difference between England and Ireland is that the Irish tradition lasted far longer as a living entity, where even in Sharp's time singing was on its last legs - a constant comment by Sharp and his contemporaries
Britain and Ireland shared a large number of traditional songs - many of the Irish versions of ballads had disappeared from the repertoires elsewhere in the English speaking world.
Mid twentieth century rural Ireland presented a picture of what life must have been like half a a century earlier in Britain
The repertoires were different because the social situation they represented were different
I think the problem with Roud is that he has arbitrarily decided to re-define folk song (apparently without consulting anybody else working in the field)
I have constantly argued on the importance of definition and have been happy to point to the Roud index as a guide to what I mean - no longer the case.
Out of interest, I looked up one of Walter Pardon's songs, 'Put a Bit of Powder on it Father', composed by Harry Castling & Fred Godfrey ? 1908.
It fits no existing definition of 'folk' I know of, yet Roud has assigned it a number, Roud No:10671, in his index attributed to Walter's singing of it
Walter was insistent that this and all songs of the same ilk were not
folk song and went to great lengths to explain why - but as always, the traditional singers' opinions carry no weight if they don't follow the academic's rule-book.
Vic Smith's quoting him as saying "A traditional folk song is a song sung by a folk singer. What a folk singer sings is traditional songs" apparently wasn't a joke.
We recorded an Irish Traveller whose repertoire included Seven Gypsies and Edward, which, I would say makes him a "folk singer"
He sang for us 'Roses of Heidelberg' and 'You Will Remember Vienna'.
Can we now expect these to be assigned Roud numbers - if not, why not?
This I believe, not only debases folk song, but it makes nonsense of the English language when people can seriously use it irrespective of its meaning - Stanley Unwin rides again!
Jim Carroll