Mudcat Café message #3944708 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162666   Message #3944708
Posted By: Jim Carroll
17-Aug-18 - 09:31 PM
Thread Name: New Book: Folk Song in England
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
"Jim, are you really claiming that all (or nearly all) the Child ballads spent some time in oral tradition? "
I see no reason not to claim that a fair number of them did Richard, do you have any evidence to the contrary?
I have been putting together a file of Child ballads in Ireland and decided to look up ones that made it to America
I have in the past week found Hind Horn, Famous Flower of Serving Men, Queen Eleanor's Confession, Bailiff's Daughter of Islington, Young Hunting, THe Two Magicians and The Two Sisters, all of which were got from singers who went to Ameriica just after the Famine and who had learned them in Ireland from old people who had learned them before Child put together his collection.

Sam Larner learned Henry Martin from Henry Sutton 'OLd Larpin' as a young man at the end of the 19th century - Sutton was said to have had it from his youth - you work it out

Thomas Moran, who probably had the largest repertoire of Child Ballads in Ireland, sang his ballads for the BBC in the early 1950s - he told the collector he had learned them in his youth from an "old, old man who had never crossed a cow-track" (never left his village)

Martin Howley gave us the only version of 'Sweet William and Lady Margaret' collected in Ireland - he learned it at the turn of the century from a non-literate old travelling woman

Non-literate Travellers we have recorded all got their ballads from old people who like them, couldn't read, some of whom had learned them in the 1860s

The non literate Scots Travellers have been the greatest source of Child Ballads - all recorded around the 1950s and 60s and all said to having been passed no by parents and grandparents

It is true that some ballads were never found but when you consider that collecting was never embarked on seriously until the early 1900s when the otral traditions were in sharp decline, it is hardly surprising
Go look at the Greig collection and see how many where
I have yet to explore the Carpenter collection fully, but considering when it was made he would have been ballads learned long before Child put his collection together

Please don't put words in my mouth - I never said "nearly all" - some ballads disappeared anyway, but the majority of them survived in one form or another

THere is strong evidence of Ballads having a strong presence in a largely non-literate oral tradition as far back as you can go

I get tired of this
When Steve first made his statement it was contemptuous dismissal of the idea that the folk made folk songs "starry -eyed naivety" was the term used I think - this included the earliest referenced folk song 'The Frog and the Mouse'
When he was challenged, he hastily withdrew to 'the songs that Sharp et-al collected and said several times that he had always claimed this and that I was "misrepresenting what he said"
Now we have leapt back a couple of centuries with a claim that ballads hardly appeared in the oral tradition
It's becoming extremely difficult to follow exactly what Steve is claiming.

Lett's face it - none of us know who made the folk songs - the evidence simply doesn't exist
At no time has Seve ever been able to produce one of our standard folk songs that he can prove to have originated in print - he has admitted that
So we are faced with two alternatives
On the one hand we have a bunch of bad urban poets working under extreme pressure to satisfy an urban market - despite claims, there is little evidence of how they composed, where they got their information and why they chose the subjects they did and dealt with them in the sympathetic, knowledgeable way they did

On the other you have a section of the population, largely non-literate (recreational reading didn't kick in till the latter half of the 19th century in the towns and in the countryside, very few working people could read fluently until the 1880s (less than one third
They lived in poorly lit, cramped homes and worked extremely long hours, sso the opportunity of learning from the printed word was minimal
Ireland has proved beyond doubt that people not only could make songs by the hundreds but it became a necessity to do so in order to describe what was happening to them
Also, the oral tradition has shown that the singers were capable of taking a song and remaking it into version after version to suit their on backgrounds and circumstances
If people were able to do this, it is far moreJim, are you really claiming that all (or nearly all) the Child ballads spent some time in oral tradition? likely that they made folk songs than the hacks did.

Steve appears to object to me tne, yet I am saying far less than he and others have accused me of - a accuse him of having an agenda - he and others have accused me of just this

I have made a point of answering every one of your questions - you have responded to hardly any of mine (I don't count pointing out typos or obvious errors responses)

“I've long been aware of Walter's tendency to drift slightly sharp or lose pitch during the course of some songs”
Most unaccompanied singers rise in the course of a song, especially the long ones
Jim