Mudcat Café message #3896851 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3896851
Posted By: Jim Carroll
02-Jan-18 - 05:09 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
The book is based on an entirely new concept of folk music and requires that we reject the whole basis of our former understanding of the genre, summed up beautifully in the 'afyetrword'
"Onve we have jettisoned the idea that it is the origin which makes it folk"
If we can't discuss that change we have to accept it without challenge - I am not prepared to do that
For me, the main impressive aspect of the book is its size; it says little about the folk songs that have been studied over the last century or so, which end up being demoted to pop songs.
In attacking what he describes misleadingly as "Maxists", he makes his own stance a political one - from the right - the approach is a political one.
There are some stunning ommissions
The fact that he has chosen to include no full songs (the lack of a discography has already been mentioned), means that it is aimed at those who are already involved in the subject - it is a polemic rather than an analysis.
The singers that were are lucky to have come into contact with over that last half century or so are so badly represented as to be written out of the subject
Sam Larner - mentioned in passing, Walter Pardon, mentioned in passing.
Harry Cox is probably given the most attention, though he is not particulary well dealt with - one of the few songs with full texts is Harry's somewhat pastische, 'Colin and Phoebe' - representative of a poorly composed piece rather than a streamilned folk song
Phil Tanner is totally ignored - I know he was Welsh, but his repertoire of English folk songs makes him an important figure in the genre (unless you happen to nbe an extreme Little Englander)
Roud lists his intentions thus
While individual song histories are noted in passing , the book is more concerned with who sang what , where, when and how, rather than the songs themselves (Introduction p. 4)
Why not WHY the songs were sung?
There is a great deal of available recorded material of Harry, Sam and Walter talking about themselves and their songs, other than how they sand them - yet once again, the singers voice is omitted from the discussion, as it always has been.
Despite claims to the contrary, it has been our experience that singers compartmentalised their songs and music in the way everybody does.
The songs in the book are discussed out of the context they raise in their subject matter
What Roud describes as an agenda by other researchers, particularly Sharp, Lloyd, and MacColl, was an attempt to put the songs into a social context - here they are dealt with as a commercial product manufactured for the entertainment of the people
Roud (along with Steve Gardham here) has politicised the subject by privatising folk songs.
I hope we can discuss this without the former rancour and condescension - let's see
Jim Carroll