Mudcat Café message #3935243 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3935243
Posted By: GUEST,Pseudonymous
04-Jul-18 - 12:21 PM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
Sorry the quotation marks are a mess in the above. But Child definitely wrote that the upper class wrote the ballads.

Roud's reference is to an encyclopeia article reprinted in the bumper edition 1994 Journal of Folklore Research. Sorry again

I like the idea of songs from an early age being passed down through an oral tradition, and I'm firmly convinced that people who are non-literate can also be capable of producing very good songs, but I'm not sure how we could ever prove a theory of origin one way or the other.


Once a song has been written down, whatever its origin, it becomes very difficult to argue that any later manifestation of it sidestepped the B road written version and took the A road via the oral route.

Even literacy/non literacy are not as straightforward as you might think. My ancestors (due it seems to tuberculosis, widowerhood, the invention of the lathe and other stuff) went from Blacksmith to Parish Clerk/Sexton to illiterate coal miner in one generation. Evidence, cross on certificates. And some people in some eras could read a bit but not write, and some communities had 'scriveners' and so on.

I think Roud made a reasonable decision in deciding to tell us what is known via contemporary evidence about what people did actually sing. Sorry, even if his definition isn't perfect, he does at least discuss the problems of definitions, to be fair to him. I still think this book is full of gems and well worth reading.


The Perfumed Garden! Yes, excellent example. But is it 'folk?' (ducks).