Mudcat Café message #3894136 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3894136
Posted By: Howard Jones
15-Dec-17 - 10:57 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
Vic, I agree that instinct is a poor guide to scholarship, and perhaps I have chosen evidence to suit my arguments. There is little evidence anyway from the time we are talking about since the composers of such songs were not recorded, but it is not unreasonable to extrapolate from other more recent evidence. It appears quite extraordinary to me to suggest that the English working class in the nineteenth century were incapable of creating their own music and song. If that were truly the case they would surely be unique in the world. Even without evidence, there must surely be a strong presumption that at least some songs must have originated amongst the folk themselves. How widely they would have spread beyond their own community, and whether they were likely to survive to be collected, is a different matter.

There is obviously disagreement over what proportion of the folk song canon was created internally, so to speak, and which came from printed sources. The proportion in favour of the latter is clearly larger than some would like to admit. My question is, why should it matter? What makes them 'folk songs' is that they were meaningful to the people who valued them enough to pass them on, and in whose mouths they evolved and changed. Whether or not we know who wrote them, and whether that person was a ploughboy or a poet, seems to me to be entirely incidental, and irrelevant to the essence of a folk song.