Mudcat Café message #3898379 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3898379
Posted By: Richard Mellish
09-Jan-18 - 12:08 PM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
I started writing this a few hours ago but then received a visitor to talk about concertinas (and many other subjects).

The phrase "Entrenched views" appeared.

That's the nub of it. Despite all the discussion, sometimes polite and sometimes not at all polite, I see little sign of anyone changing their mind. Even where we have hard evidence of the original provenance of particular songs that still tells us nothing certain about any of the others.

But I'm becoming very unsure what the parties are actually disagreeing about.

We established some time ago that all sorts of different people (including in particular both rural workers and professional songwriters) could and did create songs, that some songs appealed to popular taste and survived to be widely sung and widely collected, that others were collected only a few times, and yet others were sung only briefly and/or locally if at all and so were never collected. Modern subjective impressions of quality won't always align with what the folk adopted or ignored, but by and large at least some of the gems should have survived and most of the dung should have been forgotten.

Given the huge range of styles, from big ballads to bucolic May morning encounters, to music hall songs, etc, it's no wonder that the early collectors were selective. It's also no wonder that when later collectors bothered to ask singers for their opinions the singers drew distinctions between the different sorts.

Apart from the figure of 95% or thereabouts, which Steve believes reflects how many of the songs in the classic collections were made by professional songwriters (whether directly for broadsides or for the stage etc), and which Jim believes to be much too high, what else is under dispute?