Mudcat Café message #3888704 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3888704
Posted By: Jim Carroll
15-Nov-17 - 09:24 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
"when he finds interesting current material in rural Ireland, it's all about verbal content"
Every single singer we interviewed on the subject regarded themselves as storytellers whose tales came with tunes.
This includes Walter Pardon.
The older generation of singers confirmed that over and over again with their narrative approach to their songs
This is what Tom Lenihan said on the subject

Tom Lenihan talking about singing. 2m 31s
J C        What?s the word you used Tom, this afternoon; ?blas? * what??
T L        The blas, that?s what the old people used to use; if you didn?t put the blas in the song.
The same as that now the?..as we?ll say ?Michael Hayes?, ?The Fox Chase?:
I am a bold and undaunted fox that never was before on tramp,
My rent, rates and taxes I was willing for to pay,
I lived as happy as King Saul, and loved my neighbours great and small,
I had no animosity for either friend nor foe.
You have to draw out the words and put the blas in the song. If you had the same as the Swedish couple:
Now I am a bold and undaunted fox that never was before on tramp.
The blas isn?t in that, in any bit of it. You see now, the blas is the drawing out of the words and the music of it.
J C        What do you think you?re passing on with a song Tom; is it a good tune, is it a good story, or nice poetry or what?
T L        It is some story I?m passing on with the song all the time. In the composition that was done that time, or the poets that was in it that time, they had the real stuff to compose their songs; they had some story in it.
As I tell you about ?The Christmas Letter?, they had some story, but in today?s poets, there is no story but the one thing over and over and over again, you see. But that time they had the real story for to start off the song. And the same as the song I?m after singing there, ?The Fair Maiden In Her Father?s garden?, well, that happened sometime surely; the lover came back and she didn?t know him of course, but yet he knew her and there he was, and that happened for certain. ?Michael Hayes? happened. ?The Christmas Letter? as I say, all them old traditional stuff; that old mother that got the letter for Christmas from her family; all them things happened.
It was right tradition down along; it was a story or something that happened.

*Blas (Irish) = relish; taste; good accent.

Tom went on at great length about how you had to be careful to maintain the narrative sense of the songs and nor over-ornament
Virtually all singers, bad health excepting, pitched their singing around speaking tones, never broke up words and verbally put the punctuation where it belonged
The Irish language songs were different - a display of technique rather than storytelling, but there are far fewer narrative songs in that repertoire
Jim Carroll