Mudcat Café message #3897956 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3897956
Posted By: Howard Jones
07-Jan-18 - 02:34 PM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
"Why doesn't it make sense? I understand why Jim may find the idea distasteful, "
I do wish people wouldn't keep attributing opinions to me that I don't hold

I apologise for that, Jim, but that was what your words suggested to me. But you haven't explained why it doesn't make sense - you may disagree with the argument, but there is nevertheless logic to it. There were people writing and publishing songs for money, and it seems entirely possible, to say no more, that ordinary people sang these songs and that a few of them survived to become folk songs.

The real question is what were the proportions? I think the difficulty with all this is that so much is unproveable. There doesn't appear to be sufficient evidence to know with any certainty which songs started out as broadsides and which broadsides were already existing folk songs. It may be possible to take a guess, from the language and style of the broadside version, but even that leaves open the possibility that they had over-embellished an existing song. There is inevitably some conjecture and drawing of conclusions from limited evidence, and it is unsurprising that different people come to different conclusions.

I make no claim to be an expert, I am simply a singer and musician with in interest in the material I perform. All I can say is that Roud's case seems plausible to me. I think we would have to go back several centuries to find a situation where folk culture was not influenced by outside forms. There is a parallel situation with dance tunes, where it is now apparent that a great many traditional folk dance and morris tunes can be traced back to the stage or the military, and often to identifiable composers.

I also share Roud's view that it is not the origin of the songs which matters but what the folk did with them. It has always been my understanding that what distinguishes folk song from other forms is the evolution of a song in the mouths of successive singers.