Mudcat Café message #3935119 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3935119
Posted By: Jim Carroll
04-Jul-18 - 03:53 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
"or were transmitted by ordinary people "
That was taken for granted by virtually all the early scholars, there was no reason for it to be said
Child's 'Popular' Ballads didn't refer to how far they got up the 19th century charts - it was the old usage of the term, 'of or belonging to the people'

Motherwell, in his introduction to his 'Minstrelsy', issued dire warnings about interfering with the way the 'common people' sang their songs.
James Hogg's mother accused Scott of ruining her songs by writing them down - hardly the words of someone who had received her songs from print.

Child dismissed the broadside repertoire as inferior dross - "veritable dunghills' - the poets were noted for being poor versifiers, "hacks".

We have a large number of published broadside collections here, Ashton, Euing, Roxborough, Rollins, Ebsworth, Holloway and Black...
What distinguishes them all is, in contrast with the traditional repertoire, there's hardly a singable song in any of them.

I find it very difficult to believe that our beautiful, economically streamlined folk songs sprang from the same school as 'The Cat's Meat Man' or 'The Tragic Case of the Lady Who Plunged to her Death from The Monument' - it's not a case of individual songs; rather it's the overall style which is the greatest giveaway

WE don't know who made the songs but we need to examine all the evidence, instead of discarding it like you would an old pair of shoes to replace them with a pair 'in fashion'

One of the big problems with all this is that too many people don't seem to know the difference between tradition and repetition.
To continue to sing a song doesn't make it traditional - it's farm more complicated than that, but that seems to be what Roud's book is based on.
All our folk songs may not be 'good' but they are nearly all unique in various ways

One of biggest 'finds' over the years at collecting wasn't 'new' or 'more beautiful or important versions' of songs - it was the large number of anonymous locally made songs that were made, largely in the lifetimes of the singers on every subject you cam imagine and every aspect of the human condition - hundreds in this county, now it transpired, common throughout Ireland

Rural working people, and, to a a lesser degree, urban workers, were natural poets with a desire to set down their feelings and experiences in singable verse - for the sheer hell of it - not for money (as one of the advocates of print origin suggested
This is a serious fact to be taken into consideration when we are attempting to assess who made our folk songs

'Ordinary' people have been making songs at least since The Venerable Bede complained about drunken cattlemen passing around the harp and singing some time in the 8th century
Illiterate Shepherds were reported to have been singing 'The Frog and the Mouse' in 16th century Scotland
Some of our folk songs may only date back as far as a little over a century but the motifs in many of them are not only older than literacy but predate the invention of print, some going as far back as far as Homer and Biblical times.

The influence of print is very much 'a new kid on the block' - that is a serious point to be taken into consideration when we are assessing who made our folk song