Mudcat Café message #3937671 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3937671
Posted By: GUEST,Pseudonymous
16-Jul-18 - 06:31 AM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England

You may be right about ballads from Viking days: but did not Child did find what he thought was the 'same' ballad in the tradition of both countries?

I note that Bert Lloyd imagined Anglo-Saxon origins, which is even earlier than the Vikings.

Of course, the Normans (as in Norman Conquest) were 'Vikings' a couple of generations earlier.


Thanks for the lengthy quotation. Need time to read and inwardly digest. But it starts slap bang in the middle of a racist bit, as he is explaining why in his view 'primitive' races could/did not write ballads.

That's more or less where I left off yesterday. Racial difference theory was quite popular at the time. It underpinned 'Jim Crow' in the deep south of the USA.

I have not read on, so I don't know what gems the book might hold, but, as Roud is aware, people writing about folk music reflect the historical contexts in which they wrote. I am just thinking that it is worth bearing this in mind when looking at what they have to say.

Early folklorists believed that music/song gave you an insight into "racial" characteristics. The general idea was that 'white' races were further advanced in evolutionary, biological terms, than the 'primitive races'. This was one argument against giving people from non-western European backgrounds education, the vote etc.

In the first ever issue of the Journal of American Folklore it says this:

The second division of folk-lore indicated is that belonging to the American negroes. It is but within a few years that attention has been called to the existence among these of a great number of tales relating to animals, which have been preserved in an interesting collection. The origin of these stories, many of which are common to a great part of the world, has not been determined. In the interest of comparative research, it is desirable that variants be recorded, and that the record should be rendered as complete as possible. It is also to be wished that thorough studies were made of negro music and songs. Such inquiries are becoming difficult, and in a few years will be impossible. Again, the great mass of beliefs and superstitions which exist among this people need attention, and present interesting and important psychological problems, connected with the history of a race who, for good or ill, are henceforth an indissoluble part of the body politic of the United States.

And on the 'Indian tribes': 'The habits and ideas of primitive races include much that seems to us cruel and immoral, much that it might be thought well to leave unrecorded. But this would be a superficial view. What is needed is not an anthology of customs and beliefs, but a complete representation of the savage mind in its rudeness as well as its intelligence, its licentiousness as well as its fidelity.'

All this strikes the ear as to put it mildly 'ethnocentric'.

I was at an anti-racist protest (with non-traditional music) on Friday, so this sort of thing is quite high on my agenda at the moment.