Mudcat Café message #3935622 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3935622
Posted By: Jim Carroll
06-Jul-18 - 04:16 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
"Nothing has 'shrunk'. My stance has always been on that corpus on numerous threads and in my published work."
Then why did your derisive comments follow ten programmes which covered the entire corpus which dated back to our earliest folk songs?
"You are here referring to MY OPINION which is at least as equally valid as yours."
No - I am referring to the definitive and often condescending way in which your opinion was delivered - even your eventual "perhaps I should say I.M.O." was delivered in a condescending manner
"(and at one angry stage) 100% claim"
I'll dig it out if you wish (I have already done so, with references), but I really don't want to want to descend this discussion to that level - we've done that too often between us.
In an apparent fit of anger you said something like "arguing with you had raised my estimation of the figure to 100%" - I've accepted that was an angry outburst
"Child's broadsides"
Child used broadsides throughout his work - at no time did he indicate that he changed his "dunghill" contempt" for them -
That is shown without a doubt by the fact that his description of them has continued in use up the the present day - even some feller who writes for Musical Traditions even uses it as a pseudonym !!
Would he have allowed it to be included in his collection if he didn't believe it?
Even if 'the scales had fallen from his eyes' it wouldn't matter; bad poetry is bad poetry - the proof of the pudding lies in the volumes of unsingable songs that litter our shelves

I owe you no apology Steve - at no time have I "misinterpreted" your arguments, yet you have said on several occasions that I have.
I suggest we put this distasteful bickering to bed (both of us) and approach this serious subject seriously - it really is worth the effort.
Like Steve Roud's I have respect for the work you have done - I disagree strongly with some of your conclusions
I don't suppose it is of any comfort that I feel the same about Cecil Sharp :-)

"I lack the data and I'm not clear about how one could conclude that a broadsheet/print origin was a fact. "
The data to enable us to reach such a conclusion does not exist and it never will
All the earliest printing date proves is that was when the song went into print - everything else has to be common sense
The fact that working people were capable om making songs and had the will to do so is a major factor as far as I am concerned
Our observations of how the singers from living traditions regarded the songs from printed page - the limitations of, or sometimes total lack of literacy. the suspicion of, the way songs were regarded as creations of their communities - "Norfolk songs", Traveller's songs", "me daddie's songs"... and a whole host of hints to be thrown into the melting pot.
James Hogg's mother, the ballad singer, provides a view from the heart of a thriving ballad tradition

"‘there was never ane o’ my songs prentit till ye prentit them yoursel' and ye hae spoilt them a’ togither. They were made for singin’ an’ no for read in’, but ye hae broken the charm now, an’ they’ll never be sung mair’"

We are indebted to the Travelling communities of Ireland and Scotland for some of our best and rarest ballads - largely pre-literate.

What it boils down to is, once you accept that working people were capable and desirous of making songs, they have a major claim to having made our folk songs - those songs dealt with their lives and experiences and they did so displaying knowledge of the subject matter described and the passion of people who underwent the experiences described
I don't believe the hacks were capable of that and even if they were - why should they bother ?
They weren't social reformers setting out to change the world - they were hard-driven writers of verse out to make a few pennies.

One of the things that has disturbed me the most in all this is that, if we are to accept this theory we will have to re-estimate the work of centuries, often by people who were alive when the broadside presses were churning out their songs and singers were singing their folk songs
Surely someone would have noticed that these songs were town products rather than the 'country songs' everybody referred to them as?
Our own researches have to be a sum of all ideas and not donned and discarded like shoes
There has been far too much throwing the baby out with the bathwater to make room for the latest academic fad - it's about time we learned to respect the pioneers, for all their limitations, rather than using the Dave Harker-like 'hit-list' approach to scholarship   
Jim Carroll