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New Penguin Book of English Folk Song

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Classic English (Penguin) Folk Songs re-issued (89)
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Penguin Book of English Folk Songs (36)
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Marje 12 May 13 - 08:00 AM
Stilly River Sage 11 May 13 - 03:42 PM
Reinhard 11 May 13 - 01:55 PM
GUEST,Jack Sprocket 26 Dec 12 - 03:48 PM
MGM·Lion 26 Dec 12 - 03:29 PM
Peter the Squeezer 26 Dec 12 - 02:35 PM
Marje 26 Dec 12 - 07:04 AM
Brian Peters 26 Dec 12 - 05:55 AM
Marje 26 Dec 12 - 04:27 AM
Steve Gardham 26 Jul 12 - 05:03 PM
John Routledge 25 Jul 12 - 09:21 PM
Dennis the Elder 06 Jul 12 - 01:30 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Jul 12 - 09:07 AM
Tootler 06 Jul 12 - 07:08 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 06 Jul 12 - 05:46 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Jul 12 - 03:36 AM
MGM·Lion 06 Jul 12 - 01:15 AM
Surreysinger 05 Jul 12 - 09:01 PM
Tootler 05 Jul 12 - 07:33 PM
Dennis the Elder 05 Jul 12 - 07:00 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Jul 12 - 03:01 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 05 Jul 12 - 11:35 AM
Dennis the Elder 05 Jul 12 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 05 Jul 12 - 10:12 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Jul 12 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 05 Jul 12 - 08:15 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 05 Jul 12 - 08:09 AM
GUEST,Jon Dudley 05 Jul 12 - 08:07 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Jul 12 - 07:39 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 05 Jul 12 - 07:10 AM
MGM·Lion 05 Jul 12 - 06:30 AM
GUEST,Brian Peters 05 Jul 12 - 06:27 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Jul 12 - 06:15 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 05 Jul 12 - 05:19 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 05 Jul 12 - 05:13 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Jul 12 - 05:00 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 05 Jul 12 - 04:48 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Jul 12 - 04:00 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Jul 12 - 07:06 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Jul 12 - 04:31 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Jul 12 - 03:29 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 04 Jul 12 - 02:29 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Jul 12 - 01:06 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 04 Jul 12 - 12:16 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Jul 12 - 11:27 AM
KingBrilliant 04 Jul 12 - 11:04 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 04 Jul 12 - 10:23 AM
GUEST,Tim C 04 Jul 12 - 08:38 AM
MGM·Lion 29 Jun 12 - 04:43 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Jun 12 - 02:34 PM
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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Marje
Date: 12 May 13 - 08:00 AM

In case anyone gets confused: the New Penguin Book of Folk Song is anything but slim, it's quite a hefty, hardbacked tome, and is a completely different in content from the original and much-loved Penguin paperback. Both are well worth having.

Marje


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 11 May 13 - 03:42 PM

I have a fondness for that slim volume - I think it was the first folk song book my father brought home when he decided to get serious about folksinging in his spare time. After he retired he was finally able to spend a lot more time pursuing that interest. And when I emptied his house after his death, the last book to leave the house, missed because it was almost hidden in his bookshelves, was the Penguin Book of English Folk Song. Checked out from the library where he worked all of those years ago and never returned. :-)

SRS


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Reinhard
Date: 11 May 13 - 01:55 PM

The Fellside album that Brian Peters mentioned on December 26, The Liberty to Choose: A Selection of Songs from The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, will be released on June 10. But it can already be bought from Fellside's online store.

Dave Eyre played three tracks from the CD on yesterday's Thank Goodness It's Folk and you can listen to them on the programme's broadcast. One track was sung by Brian Peters, one by James Findlay, and one by Bella Hardy and Lucy Ward. They are really beautiful.

By the way, the CD title is a phrase from The Seeds of Love.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: GUEST,Jack Sprocket
Date: 26 Dec 12 - 03:48 PM

I read the thread subject as "RE: New Pension Book of English Folk Song"..

I'm feeling my age...


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Dec 12 - 03:29 PM

Sorry PtS ~~ we flogged that particular joke to death back on 30 May.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Peter the Squeezer
Date: 26 Dec 12 - 02:35 PM

I think I prefer Mr (Les) Barker's version -

"The English Book Of Penguin Folk Songs"


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Marje
Date: 26 Dec 12 - 07:04 AM

Great news, Brian, keep us posted!

Marje


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Brian Peters
Date: 26 Dec 12 - 05:55 AM

And I'll be going up to Fellside studios in the New Year to record a selection of songs from New Penguin, in the company of Bella Hardy, Lucy Ward and James Findlay...


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Marje
Date: 26 Dec 12 - 04:27 AM

I just got a copy of this for Christmas. Yay and thrice yay! It's a real treat and I'm quite looking forward to the departure of the family so that I can get stick into it in peace, perhaps with a glass of sloe gin to hand. Recommended for anyone with book tokens or Chrsitmas money left to spend.

Marje


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Jul 12 - 05:03 PM

John,
When I got my copy I read it almost straight away from cover to cover. Presumably I was so engrossed that I didn't notice what you describe, but now I have checked and mine's the same. The only problem that will cause for me is sometimes I like to print off pages for my own personal use to compare versions and the verso page might intrude on my copy. However I shouldn't think many people would want to use the book like I do.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: John Routledge
Date: 25 Jul 12 - 09:21 PM

I am delighted to agree with every positive comment made about this wonderful book with the following personal reservation which I have now learned to live with :0)

My copy was bought from Waterstones online and I today called into a Waterstones store to air my concerns about the intrusion of the print from two pages ahead of the page being read.
Two staff members confirmed that this was inevitable in view of the poor quality of the paper used. They confirmed that this happened in some other books in varying degrees to keep production costs down.
I was shown three other books chosen at random two of which had very slight transparency with the third being almost fully opaque. I would have been delighted with the quality any of the three. Those who have "Bert" will know where I am coming from.

Completely unprompted I was offered a full refund or another copy if I were happy with the copy in stock.
As expected the stock copy was identical mine but without the two damaged corners so I accepted the exchange.

Great to be now able to explore the delights of a wonderful book!!


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Dennis the Elder
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 01:30 PM

Hi Surreysinger, I agree some threads do wander off the subject and get a little complicated and confrontational. I do however like the brevity of the previous comment from Jim


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 09:07 AM


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Tootler
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 07:08 AM

Ebook publishers are, for the most part, existing publishers of paper books and are maybe not savvy on how to design for computer use. While creating a hyperlinked index can seem a tedious task it can be automated.

I tried it with a song book I'd created myself, using Open Office and setting up the contents page so it was hyperlinked to the individual songs. It wasn't difficult but when I tried saving as html, there was so much extraneous formatting tags that it would have taken forever to reduce it to a manageable level. Most ebook formats are based on html under the bonnet but elaborate formatting isn't needed for the most part. I convert individual songs to mobi format for my Kindle with a very limited number of tags and it works well.

With the song book I mentioned earlier which was a book of songs with notation and chords for the ukulele, it looks as if the publishers have not really thought it through. The notation is as images but they are not scaleable, even on my android phone which will happily scale pdf files so they can't be enlarged for easier reading. The contents/index page looks as if it's a single image. I suspect the publishers have done a "quick and dirty" job which does not do justice to the possibilities of ebooks.

As to the paper version of the New Penguin book of English Folk songs, the paper seems quite good quality but it's true it isn't as opaque as it might be and you can see what's on the other side faintly. Also some of the page cutting is a bit awry, but nevertheless it's worth every penny.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 05:46 AM

I'm alarmed by the reports on the ebook edition. When we're so used to linked pages from indices on websites you'd think this would be second nature to ebook publishers. Or is it too much work preparing a index with links?? What is the use of a reference book without the means to reference? Talk about being up shit creek.

Someone else reported to me recently they felt the quality of the paper of the NPBOEFS was a tad transparent. Still waiting for mine (today hopefully???) so I can't presently say, though I didn't notice anything amiss during a brief persusal of the volume under the bright lights of Waterstones in Preston the other day.

*

As for not being able to understand what the heck is being said and fought about, it goes back to a comment made by Tim C on the 4th July at 8.38 am that Oral culture is extremely powerful, cohesive, has nothing to do with idylls or romanticism. Think on't...


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 03:36 AM

"Could we please dispose of the repeated statement that the book doesn't contain any Victorian tear jerkers"
You are right of course SS, one that slipped under the wire - apologies - though it is often described as 'traditional'.
"hated that 'Victorian tear-jerker'"
Walter Pardon didn't regard it as 'folk', even though he sang it. He described it as a parlour song and said it always reminded him of aspidistras.
Walter and the Traveller Mary Delaney, both with huge repertoires of traditional songs, also had non-traditional ones they were reluctant to sing.
In Walter's case, when you asked him he would say, "What do you want thet old thing for?" but would sing it when pressed. He described how his cousins "took up the new songs" while he preferred the old ones and set out deliberately to preserve them.
Mary Delaney, on the other hand, who had a large number of Country and Western songs, refused to "waste her time singing them" for us.
She said she only sang them "because that's what the lads ask for in the pub". She went on to say, "the new songs have the old ones ruined".
Both of them had phenomonal memories; Walter could quote almost verbatim, chunks of Hardy and Dickens and reel off all the members of a national cricket team from 30 /40 years earlier.
Mary's memory seemed to have developed because of the fact that she had been blind from birth - she claimed to be able to sing a song through "after a couple of hearings".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 06 Jul 12 - 01:15 AM

Slight drift?

Bob Copper once said that he & his cousin Ron hated that 'Victorian tear-jerker' when they were children; so when one of the older family members would be singing it, they would sit in the corner together rendering the chorus as "Oh, the miserable row, Oh the miserable row!"

~M~


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Surreysinger
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 09:01 PM

Hoorah Dennis and Tootler - a part of the thread and a conversation I can actually understand without having to read certain passages five or six times before finally conceding to myself that I still don't understand what the heck is being said and fought about. And this despite a good education, being well read, and having self educated myself on the subject of folk song and related items for many years since I first took a childhood interest! May I add (if I hadn't already somewhere in this now lengthy thread) that I think the book is great.

PS Could we please dispose of the repeated statement that the book doesn't contain any Victorian tear jerkers or music hall type songs ? "The Mistletoe Bough",a parlour ballad written by Thomas Haynes Bayley and Sir Henry Bishop is certainly a Victorian tear jerker in my estimation, and features as number 126 in the book (albeit collected from a more recent singer).


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Tootler
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 07:33 PM

I bought the paper copy of the New Penguin Book but I have recently bought an eBook version of another song book and I came to the conclusion that publishers haven't really 'got it' when it comes to reference type eBooks. The book I bought had a complete song list with page numbers of the songs. There is only one problem, eBooks don't have page numbers and the location data is totally different. Contents pages and indices need to be hyperlinked to be any use and that's the problem. Publishers don't seem to be willing to do that, or have not recognised that you can't really browse eBooks in the same way you can browse paper books. A different approach is needed.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Dennis the Elder
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 07:00 PM

Thanks Steve for the information, lets hope the technology catches up!!
I wish Steve all the luck with the ePublishers, If I had realised the problem I would have bought the book, but I begrudge buying both,


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 03:01 PM

Dennis,
This point has already been presented and addressed by Steve on the Tradsong Forum. iPad technology in presenting non-fiction still has a long way to go, compared with paper copy. Some people who downloaded the eBook have already decided to buy paper copy to get the full Monty. Steve promised to contact the ePublishers to see if anything can be done but we're not holding our breath.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 11:35 AM

Oops! Make that Fakesong...


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Dennis the Elder
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 11:30 AM

I have just downloaded the book on to my iPad. Some great information and excellent folk songs. I am certainly going to enjoy reading it.
Just one criticism, its a good read, however,looking for a particular song, the name of which you know is not easy. Too many places to look, an index would be a massive improvement. There are links provided, but you have to search through a lot of places to find them.
The pros far outweigh the cons.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 10:12 AM

I find Fakelore a tad overdone in places but its heart is in the right place; even as a Marxist I find the Marxism a little heavy handed. The Imagined Village on the other hand just tells it like it is, pure and simple as a history of a movement. Then there's Folk by Bob Pegg, which I'm going to have to read again, but his Riots & Riots was a bit of an epiphany for me when I first read it.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 09:45 AM

"These songs weren't made as 'Folk Songs' - they weren't made to fit with the 1954 Definition "
Of course they weren't, and it is extremely misleading to suggest that anybody has claimed that they were (a fairly common style of argument in your case).
The term 'folk' and the definition came later with attempts to understand the phenomenon.
That doesn't mean to say that the people who gave us the songs didn't have their own ways of identifying them - 'old', 'come-all-ye', 'local', 'Clare', 'Traveller', 'my father's songs' - in Walter' Pardon's case "folk".... all used by singers we've spoken with . Nor does it mean that they didn't regard them as different from the mass-produced mass.
In our experience, it is those who refuse to recognise that as a genre, they are unique and identifiable from all other types of song who are out of step with the tradition, not those of us who feel the need to lift the corner to find out what's underneath.
As far as the '54' definition goes, as flawed as it might be it will still continue to act as a guide until someone comes up with another.
I welcomed the possibility when I heard Dave Harker was planning to take on the task, but - oh dear, talk about taking a hatchet to the dead.
Sharp and his mob might have got it wrong - pioneers and innovators tend to - but along with Brian, he still has my respect and gratitude, and when comared to the smug hindsight of Fakelore and The Imagined Village.....
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 08:15 AM

I think that Mr.Roud, his team, and all responsible for its seeing the dignity of print are to be congratulated.

Me too; I'm expecting my copy any day now.

Now you can get back to discussing the content, motives and things I can't even pretend to understand.

Whatever's under discussion here, it's certainly not the book itself which will have pride o' place on my bookshelf alongside all the other volumes of Roud, Penguin, Child, Grieg Duncan etc. etc.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 08:09 AM

Folk is born of a human need for people to re-represent in poetic form (in the case of folk song) the things that move them rather than have somebody do the job for them.

I'm talking about Folk as an extraneous concept to the pure essense of the old songs born of working-class creativity which are exactly about the things you say they are, Jim. These songs weren't made as 'Folk Songs' - they weren't made to fit with the 1954 Definition or any other concept of folk - they made as idiomatic vernacular popular songs, pure and simple and entirely 'innocent' of folk. Folk, in the 1954 sense, is so much more than idiom, or even context, it is an ideology hatched in isolation from the very thing it claims to revere. It's complicated, because it's thanks to the diligence & hard work of the collectors that we have all this stuff anyway, but it's an antiquarian specialism of little interest to anyone outside of a very select scene of enthusiasts all a long way from the people who made the songs in the first place, or those who occupy the same social strata today.

In saying such things I'm not demolishing, attacking or dismissing anyone. It's just the way it is. No malice intended.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 08:07 AM

Straying away from the learned arguments being bandied about, may I say that I think that the book itself is beautifully produced (apart from the typography of the spine), and that the use of the Tunnicliffe wood engraving is inspired. To have chosen to keep the illustration intact on the front cover by desisting from the normal practice of smothering it with type was a brave decision and one I fully support. It feels luscious, the paper's good and the layout makes it very readable. OK, not something you could slip in your pocket but just a lovely 'thing'. I think that Mr.Roud, his team, and all responsible for its seeing the dignity of print are to be congratulated. Now you can get back to discussing the content, motives and things I can't even pretend to understand.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 07:39 AM

Thanks a million Brian - far more articulate a summing up than my knee-jerk.
Mike,
Sorry a devils advocate prod with the pitchfork on my part - I know and like the illustration.
"Folk is born of social & cultural apartheid."
Folk is born of a human need for people to re-represent in poetic form (in the case of folk song) the things that move them rather than have somebody do the job for them.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 07:10 AM

It's not even Folkloristic any more, Jim - if it was then it would be seen from the sham that it is, where community is enshrined in terms of idyll and romance rather than humanity. These days we have ethnomusicology and ethnology; instead of the International Folk Music Council, we have the International Council for Traditional Music. As others have pointed out - the 1954 Definition attempts to prescribe the conditions of a pre-existing music rather than describe what that music is. That it can be applied to any community - be it village musicians in Bali, or heavy-metal musicians in Whitley Bay housing estates - tells how useless it is; as you say, an outdated shibboleth in severe need of revision.

My argument is that we don't need definitions and that the very concept of Folk Music, like Folklore, is long past its sell-by date. Folk is an anomalous construct quite seperate to the songs, musics, customs, dances that it perceives as being 'Folk'. For sure, such traditions thrived and existed long before anyone postulated the existence of a Folklore, or a Folk Music, whatever the evidences might have been pre-revival. Post-revival it's very different; Folk becomes (in part) a precious gathering of the authentic wherein everything is accounted for in terms of its likely provenance and 'meaning', rather than what it actually is i.e. disparate random happenings where the experience is different for everyone.

Folk is born of social & cultural apartheid. When we were kids I remember our Folkish Pedagogues telling us that our innocent playground rhymes were echoes of The Black Death, and our Xmas tree decorations vestiges of ritual sacrifice. All that can be shown to be palpable nonesense now, thank God, although 'The Folklore of Folk' is such that such ideas persist as myths in their own right. Even the long discredited work of Sir James Frazer et al is enjoying a modest revival in the murkier corners of the revival. Talk about idyll & romance! We still have 'professional' storytellers telling children of the Green Man and how the grisly goings on at Hallowe'en are rooted in Pagan practise and veneration; and still there persists very queer notions of the pure and the proper and the authentic in terms of hierachy rather than meritocracy - thus we have 'folk families' and pure-blood traditions & exponents thereof where all I see is a free-for-all melting pot of cultural opportunism & diversely gifted & creative individuals giving rise to some great music, just as they always have done.

My personal taste is for the old songs 'n' ballads, just I find the folkish myths a bit precious. Likewise with the Green Man and other less obvious iconography of the Medieval Christian Tradition which Folklorists are keen to tell us are Pagan, but which most demonstrably are not. These things fascinate me because I love them so much; I see them as immediate manifestations of vernacular genius, but the very term Folk is so loaded as to be next to useless - all a long way from your rather silly idea that working people are capable of artistic creation. It is that silly idea that I hold on to though my very life depends on it; indeed, it is that silly idea that Folk would serve to deny.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 06:30 AM

"the somewhat "romantic" 'son of the soil' cover illustration!!" - Jim Carroll
.,,.
I think not, Jim. It is not a 'son of the soil', a ploughman with his horse, but a gentleman's servant [a groom] exercising his master's horse ~

Identified inside back cover as 'Stallion and groom by C F Tunnicliffe' ~

which gives a different gloss and emphasis, of certain class differences, rather than the 'town & country' dichotomy which you seem to read into it. Equally to be found as topic in many of the songs, but not specifically rural.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 06:27 AM

'Jack': the reason that people like Jim Carroll (and me) get cross with your arguments is that you refuse consistently to acknowledge that anything has changed in the way of folksong scholarship since 1905. To hurl familiar slogans about 'cultural imperialism' and 'condescension' at the folksong movement in its entirety is to insult collectors like Jim, Mike Yates, or John and Katie Howson, who have operated with a very different agenda to the Edwardians whose attitudes Harker dissects (though, having read Sharp's Appalachian diaries, I've found even in that bogeyman's writings more respect and affection for the singers than condescension).

It really isn't news to anyone who's bothered to think about it, that the Revival is culturally different from the Source. We knew that, thanks. And, as for definitions, I can't imagine how the editors of 'New Penguin' could have arrived at their selections without using something along the lines of '1954' (but please don't let this turn into another thread on that tired old topic). To reject a definition, yet to "agree folk songs are different", sounds suspiciously like the position of F. J. Child and his followers (so mocked by Harker): "we can't define a ballad, but we know one when we see one."


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 06:15 AM

Your long-term sneering dismissal of everybody's work except your hard-to-find own is deeply insulting and is compounded by your persistent refusal even to challenge it with facts or even reasoned argument.
You persist in pontificating from the safety of your verbiage - I find that deeply offensive.
The 54 definition is an attempt to define a certain type of music - it is not an ethnomusicalogical one - it is a folkloristic one
It is widely recognised that it is in need of updating, or even replacing, pretentious debunking doesn't hack it for me.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 05:19 AM

Still no qualifications of your insulting dismissal of the work and opinions of others

What insults? What dismissals? I'm not insulting anyone, or dismissing anything, just questioning a few shibboleths in the interest in giving credit where credit is most surely due and in the interest of promoting the silly idea that working people are capable of artistic creation without having to put their songs out to tender...


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 05:13 AM

Oops. Missed this one:

I take it from his tone that Sweeney disapproves of the choice of the editors of 'The New Penguin Book' because the material presented fits fairly neatly into the '54' definition and, as I said, includes no "Victorian tear-jerkers, music hall material, 20th century pop songs, snigger-snogwriter compositions" - and no heavy metal.

Though I think I answered it in the first part of my last post. The trouble with the 1954 Definition is that it isn't about one particular genre; all it says, in a nutshell, is that Human beings form communities and in those communities they make music. Big deal, eh? The 1954 Definition tells us nothing about what a Folk Song is that's any different from any other sort of song. And yet we both agree folk songs are different, and we both agree with the editors of TNPBOEFS on their choice of material. I say that difference is one of cultural & social context and idiom - same goes for all the myriad musics on Planet Earth.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 05:00 AM

Still no qualifications of your insulting dismissal of the work and opinions of others - including some of the traditional singers you claim to be "more interested" in.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 04:48 AM

That may be your choice Sub - if so, why spend so much undefining the work of others without without offering anything in return.

It's not so much undefining, Jim, as pointing out the disparities between the one thing & the other. Beyond that, as I've said, it doesn't need defining, just describing - which is what ethnomusicology is. I've known ethnomusicologists turn in papers on heavy-metal bands in Whitley Bay and barbershop 4tets of Middlesbrough, and I'm sure I don't need to remind you of the remit of the ICTM, much less the litany of genres that might pass for Folk Music is our local folk club on any given night, any one of which could be described in ethnomusicological terms. Traditional Folk Song, we agree, is something very different.   

You just want to turn folk music into the pap you do - fine, but don't tell others what they should be doing

Not so. The pap I do is pretty much my own thing actually. I always try to get as close to the source as I can, and acknowledge it, and urge others to do likewise. I also acknowledge that the pap I do (like every other revivalist take on traditional folk song of the last century or so from Cecil Sharp arrangements to Benjamin Britten to Alfred Deller to John Jacob Niles to Jack Langstaff to the Watersons to Steeleye Span to Peter Bellamy to Brian Peters to Sproatly Smith) is of a very different nature to the source. But I'm not interested in duplicating say, Harry Cox - but in singing Harry Cox songs in a session I'm more interested in talking about Harry Cox than I am about me. I'm always amazed & exasperated how many people people aren't bothered about the source, or else don't regard the old singers in any sort of esteem as masters of their sacred art. To me that's second nature, but, yes, as you say, the pap that I do isn't about trying to sound like them - that would be patronising & absurd.      

I think 'folk police' is one of your favourite phrases.

No. Folk Police is one of my favourite record labels. In the past I've referred to Folk Dementors who would suck the very soul out of the music in the name of a would-be but entirely misplaced Purism, though these days such people are few & far between so I tend to cherish them. I don't mind too much what anyone does in The Name o' Folk, just as long as they acknowledge the source. Hell, I'm just happy when people bother to sing Traditional Songs without getting all burned up as to how they sing them.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jul 12 - 04:00 AM

"WE were all referring to attitudes of some singers in the revival"
Sorry if I have misunderstood Steve - YOU may have been referring to the revival, Sweeney was not, rather he was doing his old usual of dismissing all past scholarship other than that of the 'baby-out-with-the -bathwater' mob, without either evidence nor alternative.
In the past YOU have dismissed the work we have done with traditional singers with terms not a million miles away from "idyllic romanticism"; I thought you were at it again - if not, apologies.
One of the important aspects of traditional songs for me is their being (as I firmly believe they are) carriers of social information of a people who have largely been excluded from our written history.
If, as you have suggested, our folk songs are no more than commercial products no different than the outpourings of the present day popular music industry, that aspect is completely undermined - but I would need far more evidence than has been presented by you so far to even consider such an idea.
I take it from his tone that Sweeney disapproves of the choice of the editors of 'The New Penguin Book' because the material presented fits fairly neatly into the '54' definition and, as I said, includes no "Victorian tear-jerkers, music hall material, 20th century pop songs, snigger-snogwriter compositions" - and no heavy metal.
It's a little difficult to grasp what particular windmill he is tilting at with his 'smoke and mirrors' style of debate, however his sneering at the work of people who have bothered to raise their bums out of the armchair and make an effort to find out for themselves remains both obvious and unchanged.
For me, at the very least the New Penguin Book is an affirmation of what many of us understand as folk song - a great piece of work, beautifully presented (despite the somewhat "romantic" 'son of the soil' cover illustration!!)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 07:06 PM

WE were all referring to attitudes of some singers in the revival, Jim, nothing to do with the reality gritty stuff of the oral tradition. I can't really link up 'idyllic romanticism' with 'finger in the ear', but if they are both phrases that you dislike then so be it. I think I said pretty plainly I have no axe to grind with anyone in the revival who wants to look at the body of songs in this way. I also used the word 'If'.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 04:31 PM

"Other than that, it doesn't really need defining"
That may be your choice Sub - if so, why spend so much undefining the work of others without without offering anything in return.
You just want to turn folk music into the pap you do - fine, but don't tell others what they should be doing - I think 'folk police' is one of your favourite phrases.
"If some of this is based on idyllic romanticism, so what!"
Loaded phrases again Steve.
I usually find phrases like "Idyllic romanticism" - not a million miles away from 'finger-in-ear', a sort of easy fix for those with an agenda to push.
It's a little hard to summon up much romanticism when you're working with, say Travellers on a rat-infested site, or maybe an asthmatic trying to get songs from Appalachian singers in the first half of the 20th century.
Please stop copping out and put your arguments - I was beginning to think you were better than that. Perhaps you'd like to point out some "idyllic romanticism" here - the silly idea that working people are capable of artistic creation without having to put their songs out to tender maybe??
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 03:29 PM

Jack
The Revival is a pleasure-based thing with many people delighting in the ballads, the tunes and their performance. If some of this is based on idyllic romanticism, so what!

The research and study is an entirely separate thing though many of us enjoy both the performance side of things, and finding out more about the history of the songs and indeed the people who preserved them.

Again their origins are also separate from this. The oral tradition has nothing to do with origins, only the ways in which the material has been passed on.

Whilst I partially agree with you on definitions, these are and can only be general guide-lines, and for researchers they are very useful, perhaps not so much for those just enjoying the music.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 02:29 PM

The only difference is idiomatic, Jim. Otherwise music's music, be it Folk Song or Heavy Metal. Other than that, it doesn't really need defining, just observing, and describing rather than prescribing. All musics are the product of Individual Human Creative Genius operating out of a mastery of a culturally / communally defined idiom. Some individual compose as groups (we hear this of Balinese Gamelan & King Crimson) but the core of any group is the uniqueness of the individuals it's comprised of.   

Otherwise, as I say, once we start using the taxonomy (which we all do) then we're buying into the academic realm in which Folk exists as something quite distinct from The Tradition (which is a Folkish concept too really) in which things were very different.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 01:06 PM

Once again you are pretending to demolish straw men of your own construction.
We've been here before Sub - you are presenting caricatures of unidentified "literary / upper & middle-class / academics" and putting analyses that no longer exist, if they ever did.
When asked, the source singers have defined the songs we have chosen to call "folk". 54 is no more than an attempt to bring some sort of consistency to what we have learned - if you don't accept what we have come up with, offer your own.
Once again you prove the old construction trade adage that it is always easier to pull down what somebody else has built than build something of your own.
You folkies really get me!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 12:16 PM

the editors seem to have selected a collection of songs that fit pretty neatly into the "entirely useless" 1954 Definition.

These songs exist entirely independently of such prescriptive nonesense and owe their existence to the creative mastery of the working class men & women who made & sang & changed them (or not) in the fluidity of their natural habitat - these masters, as I say, of their vernacular art, like Tommy Armstrong, or James Armstrong or George Bruce Thompson, or the many others who remain, alas, nameless. The uselessness of the 1954 Definition is that it tells us nothing about Folk Song that isn't true of any other musical idiom, without very (Romantic / Idyllic) notions of just what sort of thing a Community might be, or how an 'Oral Tradition' differs from any other sort when all living traditional musical idioms are in a constant state of creative flux. Otherwise, it covers the Victorian tear-jerkers, music hall, 20th century pop songs, & snigger-snogwriter compositions (etc.) just as well as the songs included here.

Jack Blandiver

PS - My guest status is dependent on the limits of technology at this end which won't keep me signed in. It's such a palaver signing in each visit it's easier to be a guest, but if anyone wishes to PM me they can do so as long as my handle remains Suibhne O'Piobaireachd, which it will do until Joe Offer honours my email request (of 22-6-12) to change it to Jack Blandiver.


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 11:27 AM

"exploding for ever any lingering romantic notions"
"The Case of the Lingering Romantic Notions" - wasn't that one of the lost Goon Show scripts - (hope I'm not the only one old enough to remember The Goon Show)?
It would be interesting to learn exactly what "romantic notions" it does "explode" - the editors seem to have selected a collection of songs that fit pretty neatly into the "entirely useless" 1954 Definition, no Victorian tear-jerkers, no music hall material, no 20th century pop songs, so snigger-snogwriter compositions - damn - is it too late to demand my money back?
"I've been singing, researching & exploring Traditional English Speaking Folksong & Ballad now for nigh on 40 years"
I have been researching folksong and ballads for night on forty years (in my time off as a working electrician) - and can play you recordings of the likes of Walter Pardon and Traveller Mary Delaney defined their songs.... and not a "literary / upper & middle-class / academic" in sight.
"Here the Old Singers are seen simply as jolly old souls eagerly complicit in imparting their culture to their social betters "
Where would that be then? I've never met a collector, researcher, academic who holds such notions; maybe at the beginning of the last century, but Harry Cox singing Van Dieman's land and then going into a rant about the seizure of common land in East Anglia, or spitting out "that's what the buggers thought of us" after having just sung "Betsy The Serving Maid" soon laid that particular ghost.
It would be nice to get some solid references to your claims, otherwise "they're all in the mind, you know", (back to the Goon Show, I'm afraid).
The ranting remains the same Sub - only the name has been changed to protect the innocent!
"The Mudcatter Still Known as...."
The guest Mudcatter, surely?
Jiim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 11:04 AM

just bought on kindle from Amazon - on the basis that then I can do a text search. Might have to buy physical book as well though - cos cant really flick through a kindle in the same way


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 10:23 AM

Oral culture is extremely powerful, cohesive, has nothing to do with idylls or romanticism

At the very heart of folk rests the disparity between the condition of The Tradition (oral / working class / non-academic / fluid / vernacular / filthy / real) and The Revival (literary / upper & middle-class / academic / set in stone / received / romantic / idyllic). I'd say that's a truism - like saying Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull ripped off Rahsaan Roland Kirk for his flute technique. This isn't to fly off the handle and reject Jethro Tull, nor yet is it to fly off the handle and trash The Revival - though in reading such books as Fakesong and The Imagined Village one can't help but feel a wee tinge of ire in the face of the less celebratory consequences of the good old British Class System.

As ever The Devil lurks in the details, especially in the vague prescriptions of the entirely useless 1954 Definition which is still used as a Credo for the Orthodox who view Folk Song as an essentially anonymous / collective / unwitting phenomenon, the individual creative processes of which are quite unlike those of any other musical tradition or genre. There persists the notion of the Noble Pure Native Folk Singer whose authenticity is largely determined by their innocence of the taxonomical / musicological significances of the song they sing (and thus play a significant part of the shaping & survival of). Furthermore, the belief persists that such feral creative folk processes are essentially occult - like the innocent peasant girl who enjoys a frolic with her lover is ignorant of the process of conception that is taking place in her womb even as he mounts his horse and makes off into the sunset.

To all this, and more - the Idyllic and Romantic notions on which the Revival is pedicated (indeed, the entire notion of Frazerian Folklore) - I say a big HMMMMMMM. I've been singing, researching & exploring Traditional English Speaking Folksong & Ballad now for nigh on 40 years. Musically it is my first love & my every perfect joy, but I remain a working-class non-academic who believes, somewhat heretically it would seem, that the individual creativity of Folk Song is no different from that of any other musical idiom / genre or tradition, and that many of the assumptions of The Revival are born of class condescension and imperial patronage. Whilst this state of affairs is writ large enough in The Imagined Village, and given harsh critique (albeit in overlaboured Marxist terms which could be said to be something of a fly in the ointment) in Fakesong, it doesn't appear to be much of a concern in the Folk World as a whole. Here the Old Singers are seen simply as jolly old souls eagerly complicit in imparting their culture to their social betters and grateful for the attention and, in many cases, exposure which they wouldn't have enjoyed otherwise (one hears tales of Davie Stewart busking up his audience at The Cecil Sharp House who are unaware that this common raggy beggar is the man they'll be hailing as The Real McCoy once he takes the stage within). The songs are then cleaned up and subjected to all the other diverse indignities of the various Revival Stages (be it the parlour piano arragements of the early 1900s or the Macrame Beat Folk Rock of the 1970s, or indeed the Weirdlore of the early 21st Century) whilst the pure heart of the thing recedes.

Compare, say, Archie Fisher's Kielder Hunt with that of Willie Scott; compare June Tabor's Gamekeepers with that of Bob Roberts. There is a huge disparity between the two; an aesthetical gulf as vast as the cultural yearnings that underpin the very nature of The Revival born of pure romance. Even the most ill-educated of us refer to our songs by their Roud & Child numbers if only to give credence to how seriously we take this music, and in doing we drift yet further from its once feral soul as a once thriving popular music into the realms of Idyll and Romanticism born of the very disparity which kicked the whole thing off to begin with.

In saying such things I'm not being Anti-Revival, just aware of the Credos and the Religiosity of those who chose to accept the orthodox dogmas without once questioning the reality of Folk / Folklore as a construct of bourgeois patronage (at worse) and (at best) idyllic romanticism which determines the aesthetic of the revival. This, I feel, is writ large enough in the handsome edition that is New Penguin Book of English Folk Song, which, having briefly perused at copy in Waterstone's yesterday, I bought on Amazon last night, and will no doubt enjoy perusing at leisure when it arrives in the morning.

Jack Blandiver
(i.e. The Mudcatter Still Known as Suibhne O'Piobaireachd / GUEST Suibhne Astray until such time my request for an official name-change is honoured...)


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: GUEST,Tim C
Date: 04 Jul 12 - 08:38 AM

exploding for ever any lingering romantic notions that this material was purely oral, untainted by popular culture in written formats and descended to us through some mythical rural idyll of happy singing farm labourers (or miserable ones come to that!).

*I totally disagree. Oral culture is extremely powerful, cohesive, has nothing to do with idylls or romanticism, so you're putting your own issues onto a culture which, like anglo-saxon riddles, would have been passe around orally long before being written down by scribes. Here's my review fin the Independent from last weekend: It's a greta book, and beautifully done.

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-new-penguin-book-of-english-folk-songs-edited-by-steve-roud-and-julia-bishop-7899516.html


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 29 Jun 12 - 04:43 PM

Just arrived. Beautiful handsome volume. Spent morning reading Steve's excellent synoptic & informative introduction. Impressed! Well done!

~M~


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Subject: RE: New Penguin Book of English Folk Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Jun 12 - 02:34 PM

Matt, if you want this material you don't even have to put your hands in your wallet, the Take6 and Full English websites (EFDSS) have thousands of these at your disposal, all with tunes and texts, and if you wish you can mix and match to your heart's content.

Well said, Foggers. Why worry about what it isn't or might become? Let's just celebrate what it is, a bloody good book and a bargain at that!


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