Mudcat Café message #3894072 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3894072
Posted By: Howard Jones
15-Dec-17 - 06:44 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
I have hesitated to enter this argument because I'm not a scholar or a collector, and neither have I yet read the book (it's on my Christmas list). Instinctively I agree with Jim that the 'folk' themselves must surely have been capable of creating their own songs - besides Jim's own experience in Ireland, it just seems to me incredible to think that they would not have included creative people in their number. We have only to look around us today to see how many creative people come from working-class backgrounds, so why should it have been any different a century or more ago? Especially when the lack of social mobility offered fewer opportunities for talented people to escape from the lives they were born into. Neither literacy nor education are needed to create songs, simply an instinctive grasp of one's own language. I don't buy the argument that life was too hard to be creative - boring, monotonous, repetitive work is an ideal opportunity for a creative mind to distract itself, and they were not short of subject matter.

Nevertheless it appears incontrovertible that a significant number of songs can be traced back to printed sources, and whilst there may be disagreement over the proportion this is something which should be capable of being quantified fairly accurately given sufficient research. However I don't think that matters much - it is the process of transformation which turns it into a folk song, not the original source. I don't think this undermines the idea of what is 'folk song' or deny the creativity of those singers who shaped it into the form in which it was eventually collected.