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Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5

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Richie 13 May 13 - 12:42 PM
Lighter 13 May 13 - 12:58 PM
Richie 13 May 13 - 03:47 PM
Jim Carroll 13 May 13 - 04:09 PM
Steve Gardham 13 May 13 - 04:27 PM
Lighter 13 May 13 - 04:44 PM
Steve Gardham 13 May 13 - 04:58 PM
Lighter 13 May 13 - 06:22 PM
GUEST 13 May 13 - 09:25 PM
GUEST 13 May 13 - 09:44 PM
GUEST 13 May 13 - 11:46 PM
Jim Carroll 14 May 13 - 04:05 AM
Jim Carroll 14 May 13 - 04:25 AM
GUEST 14 May 13 - 08:38 AM
Steve Gardham 14 May 13 - 10:27 AM
Jim Carroll 14 May 13 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,Richie 14 May 13 - 11:24 AM
Lighter 14 May 13 - 01:16 PM
Lighter 14 May 13 - 01:47 PM
Steve Gardham 14 May 13 - 03:16 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 14 May 13 - 03:28 PM
Steve Gardham 14 May 13 - 03:32 PM
Steve Gardham 14 May 13 - 03:39 PM
Steve Gardham 14 May 13 - 04:14 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 14 May 13 - 04:16 PM
Lighter 14 May 13 - 05:55 PM
GUEST,Richie 14 May 13 - 11:53 PM
Steve Gardham 15 May 13 - 06:09 PM
GUEST,Richie 15 May 13 - 07:26 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 15 May 13 - 08:07 PM
Steve Gardham 16 May 13 - 09:02 AM
Richie 20 May 13 - 11:14 AM
Steve Gardham 20 May 13 - 02:38 PM
Steve Gardham 20 May 13 - 03:20 PM
Steve Gardham 20 May 13 - 03:56 PM
Steve Gardham 20 May 13 - 04:06 PM
Steve Gardham 20 May 13 - 05:04 PM
Suzy Sock Puppet 20 May 13 - 05:41 PM
Richie 20 May 13 - 06:43 PM
Richie 20 May 13 - 06:50 PM
Richie 20 May 13 - 07:07 PM
Steve Gardham 21 May 13 - 09:28 AM
Richie 27 May 13 - 12:41 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 27 May 13 - 12:55 PM
Richie 27 May 13 - 01:55 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 27 May 13 - 05:06 PM
Richie 28 May 13 - 12:54 PM
Steve Gardham 28 May 13 - 04:43 PM
Steve Gardham 28 May 13 - 05:03 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 28 May 13 - 05:03 PM
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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Richie
Date: 13 May 13 - 12:42 PM

Hi,

The "origin" is important because (as Child) I am looking for "tradtional" versions of folk songs, i.e. those not learned directly from print sources or recordings. A number of "Our Goodman" version were learend from recordings- I did not included those that I was sure were based on recordings.

It's OK to arrange a ballad but it's not OK to say it came from "Charlie Montgomery, Elizabeth, Wirth County," if it didn't. It's not OK to find rare versions of ballads that you arranged and attribute them to some fictitious source.

In Artus Moser's case he said he arranged "Get Up and Bar the Door." I have no problem with that but I'm not including it in my ballads. Where as Carey Woofter, who probably "arranged" a version from Child B, has two identical versions in my collection from two different sources because I can't prove they aren't traditional- but I can let people know they might not be traditional. If Lindfors who wrote, A Fraudulent "Elfin Knight" from West Virginia had looked at the Woofter version of "Bar the Door" you would think he would have written something similar.

The temptation to fabricate "traditional" songs is great and also to include these suspect versions in collections to pad the collection.

There is also the temptation by performers who know traditional songs to extend there repertoire with more "traditional songs" that they have "arranged" from other sources.

A good example are Aunt Molly Jackson's "Robin Hood" ballads which she swore came from traditional sources. See: http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/aunt-molly-jackson-and-robin-hood.aspx There's pressure on the traditional singer to find more and more ballads. Even the great singers are susceptible. There are only so many ballads a Ewan MacColl knows that can be attributed to his father. No matter how many family versions Jean Richie knows, there are some of the versions attributed to Uncle Jason.

So what so we do when confronted by "unlikely" attribution? I'm going to go with what I believe and try and present the facts. However, there is a gut inscinct that tells me something is amiss- and I have to listen to that. John Jacob Niles collected many folk songs, he also, I believe, arranged some from print sources. So does this mean everything he's done is suspect? Yes, it may be but we just don't know. There's nothing wrong with pointing this out-- that yes this version may not be tradtional-- we just don't know,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Lighter
Date: 13 May 13 - 12:58 PM

> In a way, Child's Ballad book is like the Bible. People pore over every word as if it comes from God Himself and seem to want to ignore the fact that, historically speaking, it has been heavily tampered with.

I've never come up against a serious researcher who treats Child in this way. Why would they? Could you name some of them?

"Heavily tampered with" implies fraud or at least irresponsibility. Child had his Victorian sensitivities, but he was neither a dilettante nor a fake.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Richie
Date: 13 May 13 - 03:47 PM

Hi,

Child did print versions he knew were suspect- he ranted about Buchan's versions and used them as a last resort. He also refused to use versions he knew were extrapolations like many of Alan Cunningham's. At the end of ESPB in the later numbers, 280-305, he became wearily of dealing with ballads he could not corroborate as traditional from more than one source. Macmath's disliked Scott's arrangements but both of them tried to see through the printed ballad to the traditional ballad whenever possible.

Steve Gardham's knows more about this than I and his excellent article on Child 295 I've used excerpts from as well as quotes by Steve.

Certainly it's harder to point out possible discrepencies amoung today's performers without sullying reputations and angering family members.

So do you just refrain from making the point or do you ruffle feathers?

It's a fine line---

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 13 - 04:09 PM

"he ranted about Buchan's versions and used them as a last resort."
And as has been pointed out by Hustvedt and others, Child later had cause to reconsider his attitude.
Having just read William Walker's article on the controversy, I have become convinced that the 'Buchan controversy' was largely due to with the fact that Buchan's findings didn't suit preconceived attitudes and pet theories, and that seems to still be the case.
Still a controversy, but would highly recommend reading Ian Spring's excellent introduction to 'Secret Songs of Silence'
All the early anthologists tampered with the songs.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 May 13 - 04:27 PM

'Child later had cause to reconsider his attitude.'
That is 100% incorrect. As Richie rightly says 'At the end of ESPB in the later numbers, 280-305, he became weary of dealing with ballads he could not corroborate as traditional from more than one source.' Read Vol 5 p182, Jim. I've pointed this out to you before. Read the notes to 301, 291 and countless others. Hustvedt certainly read some of Child's correspondence but he couldn't have read Child's headnotes to have made this silly statement. If this doesn't convince you, try reading some of Mary Ellen Brown's bang up-to-date books on Child's correspondences with his contemporaries.

I have corresponded with Ian on this matter on many occasions and he won't come out strongly on either side currently.

Nobody is arguing with 'All the early anthologists tampered with the songs.' The difference of opinion is to what extent they tampered.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Lighter
Date: 13 May 13 - 04:44 PM

> All the early anthologists tampered with the songs.

All traditional informants alter their songs as well, usually unconsciously and trivially, but sometimes otherwise.

Much of the editorial "tampering" (which, as I say, is a needlessly tendentious word)came not from hidden agendas and a disposition to fraud, but from a naive belief that "improvement" brought the lyrics closer to an aesthetic ideal which, by another leap of faith, the presumably lost ur-text must have approximated.

The early editors, on the one hand, saw the ballads as flawed but precious artworks, not as contestable social artifacts.

The broadside printers saw them as a source of income, and if lengthening them ad lib might boost sales, why not do it? (I'm not accusing the usual suspects, just stating the principle.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 May 13 - 04:58 PM

I'm sorry, Jon, by the 1820s all of the collector/poets knew clearly the value of giving the texts as received from oral tradition and stated clearly that this was what they were doing when clearly they weren't. They were playing a game, trying to outdo each other, if you read Mary Ellen Brown's books, and she has done the most research on this. They were being deliberately and knowingly deceitful. Even the most acclaimed, Motherwell, was hard at it to start with. There was no 'naïve belief'. 'Percy and Scott got away with it so why shouldn't we?'

The broadside printers had more of a tendency to shorten rather than lengthen, particularly around 1780-1840.

Yes, some traditional informants alter their songs, sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously, but in my book this is a very different state of affairs to the sophisticated collectors altering them.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Lighter
Date: 13 May 13 - 06:22 PM

Thank you, Steve. I always welcome knowledgeable correction. Recall that my level of understanding of Child ballads dates from the distant past.

But what was the principal intention of the deceit? To boost the faker's own prestige as a collector? To lie about the past? To create the most artistically pleasing verses?

If they really knew the value (to us) of authentic texts, why would they turn out fakes unless it was because they thought an artsy fake was of greater value than a blah artifact? Wouldn't the presumed value at the time then be in the artistry rather than the authenticity?

I'm still smarting over Lloyd's clandestine "improvements," so I don't think that folk and learned changes are comparable.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: GUEST
Date: 13 May 13 - 09:25 PM

The principal intention was all of the above and also a response to the popular demand for ballads attributed to folk tradition. Yes, once the upper classes did all they could to erradicate true folk culture, especially rowdy festivals and all the traditional art forms that went with them, the same people were in Percy's time searching for artifacts. Where they could not find them, they manufactured them. Percy is not a credible source:

Thomas Percy 

And no, tampering is not a needlessly tendentious word. It's the word that fits.

When a people are conquered, it doesn't have to be by a foreign entity. It can be by elements within one's own culture. But once the conquering is done, the winners always want their artifacts and their museum. They want to be tourists.

In the period covering the Enlightenment through the Industrial Revolution, if you were poor, your very essence was under seige. Everything "primitive," "ignorant," and so forth became the object of contempt, its value was limited solely to how it could be used as fodder for "progress."

That's why people should be skeptical of claims of this or that originating from the folk. The people who write history tend to cover up their wrong doing and the sufferring that resulted from it. And all of this artifact business puts a positive spin on a grim situation.

That is not to say that there were no honest folklore collectors. John Francis Campbell for example, learned Gaelic and faithfully recorded the stories and songs of the people of Islay. But there are also those who faked it for personal gain. Percy's one of them.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: GUEST
Date: 13 May 13 - 09:44 PM

Hi,

Jim- I just read Ian Spring's introduction to 'Secret Songs of Silence'- TY. I've also read Brown's "Child's Unfinished Masterpiece" and asked her questions regarding Buchan and her book and she replied but didn't want to go into any controversy over authenticity of collected versions- not sure why.

David Buchan has an article (Chapter) in his book, Ballad and the Folk, title the Peter Buchan controversy. Both Brown and Buchan address the "Chil Ether" hoax where Hill Burton wrote fragments of a ballad and gave it to Buchan who promptly came up with the "whole" ballad. I'm sure Child wondered why almost all of Buchan published ballads were several stanzas longer than those offered by other collectors.

Here in the US we have the dilemma of John Jaocb Niles, who collected many "first" versions of Child ballads not found by anyone but him in the US. Perhaps his legacy is best revealed by his "I Wonder As I Wander" which he wrote after collecting a fragment from a small child. At least in this example we know his "creative arranging" was at work.

Malcolm Douglas, for one, seem to think his work to be primarily authentic- but how can you tell? Unless there are obvious changes in his manuscripts we are left in the dark. That why I'm including Niles collected works.

About his version of "Bar the Door" Niles says, "I have known since early childhood," which I've guesstimated to be circa 1898 when Niles was 6. No versions have been found in Kentucky, where Niles grew up. Since some of Niles versions have been rejected summarily by "ballad" musicologists, this one may also be deemed questionable (even though I'm sure many of his contributions are authentic and this ballad seems to be something he learned). His version was published in his 1961, The Ballad Book of John Jacob Niles.

The Old Man and the Door (Niles No. 58) (Major mode on D) Learned, I presume, from his parents c. 1898 in Louisville KY. Niles is vague about the source, citing it's from "the Niles family."

1. With a heigh-ho for the dummerie-do
The wind blew in the window.
With a heigh-ho for the dummerie-do,
The wind blew on the floor-o.

2. The goodman to the goodwife said,
"Old woman, shut the door-o."
With a heigh-ho for the dummerie-do,
"Go shut the door yourself-o."

3. They made a paction [1] good and strong,
The first to speak a word-o,
With a heigh-ho for the dummerie-do,
Would rise and shut the door-o.

4. The travelers whooped, the travelers howled,
The travelers drank his ale-o.
With a heigh-ho for the dummerie-do,
They swilled her puddins, too-o.

5. The goodman leapt from out his bed,
"Ye scald my beard with brew-o!"
With a heigh-ho for the dummerie-do,
"Ye cannot kiss my Jane-o!"

6. Our goodwife skipped upon the floor,
Our goodman he was angry-o.
With a heigh-ho for the dummerie-do,
'Twas he who closed the door-o.


1. Agreement.


As with many of his "versions" it seems like something constructed by a person knowledgeable with all the elements of the ballad. Collected versions tend to leave elements out- still there's no telling. It's just unlikely that Niles would be the only one to collect a similar version- and that- no other versions were found in the area.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: GUEST
Date: 13 May 13 - 11:46 PM

When I read through this thread and you were talking about this one song, I kept thinking, I know this song. Turns out I do:

Seven Drunken Nights 

And do you know why I didn't recognize it at first? Because...

"They were made for singing and no' for reading, but ye hae broken the charm, and they'll never be sung mair."

Naturally, this only applies to the UK, not Ireland.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 13 - 04:05 AM

"That is 100% incorrect."
Quite honestly Richie, like you, and everybody here, I simply don't know - nor does anybody else. Personally, I'm not sure I care enough to go into a matter I believe to be not provable at this stage of the game.
What does concern me is something I find increasingly distressing; the tendency to debunk what little information we do have on the flimsiest of evidence; the fact that this is often done with definitive statements by referring to past researchers as liars, charlatans and fakers leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth. I have seen this done (in somewhat derisory terms) with Sharp, Buchan, Christie.... and many others whose work has given me a lifetime of pleasure and the little knowledge I have on these subjects.
Steve wrote earlier - "There is nothing wrong with scholars having misgivings about the honesty of collectors/antiquarians"
Yes there damn well is unless you come with definitive proof that they have been lying and distorting their information.
If we discussed the work of teachers or architects or engineers in the same terms as we discuss folk song researchers we'd end up in the law courts, or at the very least, by getting (and deserving) a smack in the mouth.
I was delighted when I heard that Dave Harker was intending to re-examine the work of the early collectors - until I read 'Fakesong', which I believe to be little more than a hit-list of all those who have laid the ground for our understanding - it's a rather unpleasant technique that seems to have caught on.
For interest, I have scanned down what Hustvedt had to say about Buchan and would recommend the piece on Jamie Rankin in 'Last Leaves'
Jim Carroll

"One of the many ballad collectors with whom Sharpe came to be associated was the much-belabored Peter Buchan. In the accumulation of texts this Aberdeenshire man was something of a phenomenon; as an editor he may be counted among the most puzzling of the latter-day devotees of the science. For pure persistency in a thankless task he deserves a better memorial than contemporary and later critics have been inclined to give him.
Some account of his various manuscript collections may serve to put his published works in proper perspective. In 1827 he came up to Edinburgh with a huge folio collection for which he had been accumulating materials for more than ten years. The next year a large part of this hoard was published. He continued to collect by his own peripatetic exertions and by the aid of the blind itinerant1 who has shared obliquely in Buchan's notoriety. Still bent on getting into print, and meanwhile bedeviled with financial cares, he made up another manuscript, consisting partly of unused things from his first manuscript, partly of traditional ballads picked up by blind Rankin, and partly of stall-ballads and other miscellaneous findings. Failing to enlist a publisher for this new packet, Buchan was at length constrained to dispose of it to agents for the Percy Society, which printed much of it under the editorial eye of J. H. Dixon2 in 1845, whereupon the manuscript eventually found a permanent lodgment in the British Museum, and so in due time served the needs of Child. A third manuscript, containing "high-kilted" songs, through various hands finally came into the archives of Harvard College. There, too, by a stroke of adverse circumstance, Buchan's first manuscript arrived — too late to be used by Child.1
Now to a survey of Buchan's publications. Outside of stall-copies and chap wares struck off by Buchan as a printer, there are three published collections. The first of these, drawn from earlier printed sources, and entitled Scarce Ancient Ballads, appeared in 1819; some year's ago only a single copy of this work was reported to be in existence.2 Of greater value is the Gleanings of Scotch, English, and Irish Scarce Old, Ballads (1825). Buchan boasts that none of these texts had been included in any previous collection. The larger part are versions of traditional ballads; in addition, there are some two score poems by the editor himself, a relish for such readers as might not care for the old verses that had "smoked in some old woman's wardrobe for the last hundred years." Buchan's most important collection is the Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland, drawn from the first manuscript described above, and published, with the editorial aid of D. Laing and C. K. Sharpe, in two volumes in 1828. Here again Buchan insists that, except for a few texts supplied by him to Motherwell's Minstrelsy (1827), the contents had not previously seen the light. Although the editor states in a note3 that it has been his practice, "in general," to print his pieces as obtained from a single reciter or other source, it may be admitted that he has done at least as much "editing" as we have seen to be done by reputable editors before him. As for the wholesale manufacture with which he and James Rankin have been charged, William Walker makes a good case in showing that Rankin's materials did not enter very largely into that first manuscript from which the collection of 1828 was printed, and that collation of the manuscript and the printed texts of this work demonstrates substantial agreement. Among contemporaries, Motherwell had a good opinion of Buchan.
1 Svend Grundtvig defended him. 2 Most telling evidence in his favor has come to light through the very extensive collections of Aberdeenshire ballads and tunes made by the late Gavin Greig. Gleaning largely in Buchan's field after the lapse of a century, Greig found that his later texts tended to confirm the substantial authenticity of Buchan's earlier texts.3 Child, to whom Buchan and his works were at first highly repugnant, gradually came to take a more favorable view, and in the end accepted a large number of the originally proscribed ballads.4"


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 13 - 04:25 AM

Sorry - that should have been addressed to Steve - too early in the morning to be thinking about anything but breakfast.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: GUEST
Date: 14 May 13 - 08:38 AM

Certainly it would not apply to all song collectors, most of whom I believe were, are sincere. However much of what was collected, particularly in latter years, are likely based on counterfeit versions published earlier.

If I landed a pocketful of counterfeit money and had a lifetime of pleasure spending it, I doubt it would sway the judge.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 May 13 - 10:27 AM

Jim

'it may be admitted that he has done at least as much "editing" as we have seen to be done by reputable editors before him.'

First of all the editors before him have been proved to be anything but reputable if we mean the likes of Percy, Scott, Jamieson. Child obviously thought the 'at Least' was a gross understatement.

Jon,

'But what was the principal intention of the deceit? To boost the faker's own prestige as a collector? To lie about the past? To create the most artistically pleasing verses?'

You're not far off the mark. Their first loyalty was to their rich patrons (hence the localising and the including of their patrons' ancestors in a good light, a la Shakespeare) Secondly, yes, they were in the business of selling books and incomplete ballads don't sell very well. Thirdly they were in competition with each other, hence PB's inordinately elongated versions. The only real thing in contention is their assertions at various times that they didn't alter anything.

Once again Hustvedt did little research of his own on Child. Much of what he has to say is derived from earlier writers. If he had looked at PB's Harvard Ms as I have in great detail he'd have seen that it is simply a publishers' proof of Ancient Ballads of the North and the only things altered by Laing and Sharpe are a very few accent spellings. The same could be said for all of Buchan's Mss including those in the BL. There are NO field notes whatsoever. Only finished doctored ballads and songs.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 13 - 11:03 AM

"Once again Hustvedt did little research of his own on Child."
And once again you are choosing to debunk yet another researcher, as you have Child and Hindley, all contemporary to the subjects under discussion - not to mention poor old Isaac Walton, who was on the spot.
Hustvet cites Grundtvic as being instrumental in changing Child's mind, and he and many others have pointed out that Grieg took up the cudgels on Buchan's behalf due to the similarities of the versions he had given and those he (Greig) later collected in the same area - another pair of naive ignoramuses or what?
I really do find your readiness to dismiss out of hand the work of others in order to fit your own particular square peg into its round hole astoundingly arrogant.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
You fail to respond to the unethical bad manners of calling fellow researchers liars, charlatans and naive ignoramuses and the effect it has of making these discussions distasteful, as (in my case at least) they most certainly do - what was it you said my scholarship is 100 years out-of-date, wasn't it?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 14 May 13 - 11:24 AM

Hi,

Thanks for the imput- didn't mean to open a can of worms. I think it's best to state the facts only and keep my opinions and intuitions out of it. It's clear to me that mistakes have been made by collectors, informants and performers. I may point out discrepancies but I'll try to refrain from making judgements.

I'm moving on to Child 277: The Wife Wrapt in Wether's Skin

I have a question about Child B. 'Robin he's gane to the wude,' Harris Manuscript, fol. D. 26 b.

Child's title for B seems wrong (supplied by Jamieson?) since those lyrics are not part of the ballad. Perhaps, 'Robin he's gane to the wast' should be inserted.

Waht do you think?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Lighter
Date: 14 May 13 - 01:16 PM

> It's just unlikely that Niles would be the only one to collect a similar version.

I agree.

It's also unlikely that only *one* version of a ballad published by Child would be collected in America - particularly if it's also very rare in Britain. If a song was sufficiently well known to be in "tradition," it should have been collected more than once.

Of course, the unlikely does sometimes occur, though when it does we'd like to see it coming from a someone who's known to be reputable otherwise.

When the lone version comes from Niles, one begins to feel even more uncomfortable, especially since we can be pretty sure it's been seriously "edited" no matter what it might have been based on.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Lighter
Date: 14 May 13 - 01:47 PM

I should mention in fairness that (as I recall) Ron Pen, Niles's biographer, believes that the material Niles recorded in his collecting notebooks is authentic.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 May 13 - 03:16 PM

I'm in complete agreement, Jon.

We would need to see Niles field notes to come to any conclusion on them. But if, as you imply, he was actually manufacturing rare ballads otherwise not known in America presumably then these would not be in his notebooks.

'Hustvet(sic) cites Grundtvic(sic) as being instrumental in changing Child's mind'.

You only have to glance at the headnotes I've pointed out to you in Child to note that this is absolutely untrue. Child paid Grundtvig handsomely for supplying Child with a suggested scheme for publishing the ballads, and for some of the information on foreign variants. Child occasionally fell silent on Buchan's efforts, but this was more probably for other reasons as Grundtvig had died by then anyway.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 14 May 13 - 03:28 PM

Richie - the Harris ms is at Harvard: Guide to papers relating to the Harris ms. Their librarian may be able to confirm what, if anything, was written at the head of this.

That page also has: For a detailed description of this manuscript see: Harris, Amelia. The song repertoire of Amelia and Jane Harris, edited by Emily Lyle, Kaye McAlpine, Anne Dhu McLucas. Edinburgh: The Scottish Text Society, 2002.. There may be information there.

(The Harvard online index seem to have only the first lines: Robin he's gone to the wood: MS Eng 1444, 26v)

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 May 13 - 03:32 PM

Richie,
There are 2 versions from the Harris sisters. From what I can make out one version is simply titled 'Robin' and the other, the one Child published, is indeed titled 'Robin He's gane to the wude' but both versions start 'Robin he's gane to the Wast' probably meaning 'west'.

Why this is so is a mystery, unless perhaps the transcriber knew it as the 'wude' title and decided to use this as a master title. Whatever the problem it is not Child's mistake.

My info comes from 'The Harris Repertoire' ed. by Emily Lyle et al.

Whatever you decide to do with this ballad you should be aware it has become crossed with another ballad called 'The Slattern Wife' which has almost as long a pedigree. You can listen to and see a version called 'Willie went to Westerdale' on our Yorkshire Garland website at www.yorkshirefolksong.net . You will note that the chorus in particular is close to hybrid American versions.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 May 13 - 03:39 PM

Cross posted, Mick.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 May 13 - 04:14 PM

Looking at the Suffolk version in Child Vol 5 p 304 it seems now quite possible that parts of Child 277 have been grafted onto The Slattern Wife quite early on in their evolution, possibly as early as the 18th century before they started to be noted down. This would explain the similarity of chorus and the first few stanzas in some American versions.

Just for the record, the original Slattern Wife came from a very long and crude broadside of the 17th century. It has nothing of the wether's or Morrel skin in it and consists of just a catalogue of the slattern wife's laziness in not sweeping the house, not milking the cows, dirty habits in making the cheese, and allowing the children to befoul themselves. BTW, the original is far worse than this in graphic detail.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 14 May 13 - 04:16 PM

Mystery solved! I should have noticed that the Harvard first line index didn't give the actual first line of the ballad! Now that I know it was actually presented as such, I'd agree with Steve here that the given title was probably an already known master title.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Lighter
Date: 14 May 13 - 05:55 PM

Or a slip of the pen: "wude" being associated with "Robin" Hood?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 14 May 13 - 11:53 PM

Hi,

I hate titles that are not the same as the text and are somehow applied from another source. Maybe it was once Robin, He's Gone to the Wood but it still seems to be mis-titled.

Steve, didn't know about the Slattern Wife. I thought it was based on
A Merry Jeste of a Shrewde and Curst Wyfe c. 1580. I've put that broadside here:
http://bluegrassmessengers.com.temp.realssl.com/a-merry-jeste-of-a-shrewde-and-curst-wyfe--pre1575.aspx

What is the connection to "The Taming of the Shrew"? Isn't it A Merry Jeste of a Shrewde and Curst Wyfe?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 May 13 - 06:09 PM

It's a matter of conjecture that 277 is based on 'Wife wrapped in Morrel's Skin' As far as I know even the earliest versions have no text in common. It is even possible that 277 predates Morrel Skin. However the 2 tales are so similar as to say they both contain the same motif, regardless of different animal and some of the methods employed. I think most people would agree that either one influenced the other or that they both derive from an even earlier tale.

Slattern Wife is a completely separate piece that has been crossed with 277 at some later date, probably no earlier than the 18thc and likely not until the 19thc.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 15 May 13 - 07:26 PM

As The Dew Flies Over the Valley- is sung by Elizabeth Ford (CA) 1942 and her son Warde Ford.

Shouldn't it be: As The Doo Flies Over the Valley? Isn't it a dove that referred to here.

I've just footnoted it.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 15 May 13 - 08:07 PM

Richie - Have you heard the 1938 recording of Warde: As The Dew Flies Over The Green Valley" (LOC). He pronounces it doo

The same pronunciation is used by Reba Dearmore in the version Jenny, Fair Jen (Max Hunter).

In both cases the word is given in print as dew. And Bronson remarks on this being a characteristic 4th line of the American group C tunes. Whether it's an American rendering as dew of an original Scots doo, I wouldn't like to say; but it's not impossible. (And it makes better sense of the line!)

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 May 13 - 09:02 AM

Certain regions of England would pronounce 'dew' as 'doo' Norfolk for instance. I think a similar line occurs in several ballad refrains. Whereas in this case 'dove' seems sensible as the meaning, another possible original could have been 'the dew lies over the .....'


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Richie
Date: 20 May 13 - 11:14 AM

Hi,

I also posted this on the "Nickety" thread- sorry for the duplicity.

Steve- you mentioned the Slattern Wife, I assume that is the Bronson F types which he includes under 277 but probably should be an appendix.

An example would be "Robin-a- Thrush" and in the US the "Nickety, Nackety" songs. What's the earliest version of Slattern Wife songs?
Is there a broadside?

How about in the US? I know Chubby Parker's 1927 recording was important. Also Pound has a version "I Married a Wife" published in 1922.

Are there other early US versions?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 May 13 - 02:38 PM

Just answered on the other thread but will give more detail when I've had me bath! Use 'Robin-A-Thrush' as Master title. Roud 2792.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 May 13 - 03:20 PM

Quick response is Bronson F ,yes, is all 'Robin-A-Thrush' Roud 2792. And other than refrains I can't see any textual similarity here. The 2 songs in text are easily separable. If it was me I'd just give one full version of R-A-T in an appendix and leave it at that. Apart from a little crossover they are 2 separate songs.

More anon.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 May 13 - 03:56 PM

Here is an excerpt from 'The Oxford Drollery' being New Poems and Songs by W. Oxford, 1679. BL ref. 11621 a 19. (Inside the front cover is inscribed 'Heber, 1834'

'The first part composed by W. Hickes. Printed by B. G. and are to be sold by Dan. Major and Tho. Orrel at the Flying-horse, and Hand and Scepter against St. Dunstan's Church in Fleet Street, 1679. (I have no other records of B. G. or the other 2 mentioned)

p1 A Bull Droll, Tune-'I prethee sweetheart come tell me and do not lye now'.

I didn't have time to copy out the whole long piece and most of it was 10 times worse than what I give here:

Ile tell you a jest I never did know in my life
..........
My mother was cleanly too, I now must tell ye,
Both for the back and also for the belly.
She once did go to milk in dirty weather,
And dagl'd her coats so that they stuck together,
And there it hung from Candlemas until May,
Then she took a Hatchet and chopt it clean away.
And when she went ith' field to milk her Cow
She milkt in the paile wherein she serv'd her Sow.
She always set her foot upon a block,
And strain'd her Milk through the skirt of her Smock
And when she laid her Cheese upon the shelf,
She never would touch it till't could turn it self.
And when she went with her Butter toth' market cross
no other signe was but the print of her thumb.
She never us'd to make her Butter I'th Churm,
For she said neither would be good nor firme
Nor made it not as other women do,
But with her Bum she kneads it to and fro.
.................................
Second Part
.......................
And sent her husband for to fetch him a Cap
But before it came, he spued up all in lap.

It doesn't take much to see that some of this either gave rise to or was derived from Robin-A-Thrash. My money is on this as the original as it is part of a long description and therefore unlikely that the author would have bothered to pinch bits from an existing song. The whole is in a similar vein, much of it far more basic, such as excrement in food. More on intermediate versions shortly.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 May 13 - 04:06 PM

Another piece even earlier may have had some influence on both songs. It has no text in common with either but the ideas and sentiment are there. It is 'The Tyrannical Wife' in Merry Drollerie, 1661, which starts

It was a man and a jolly old man
       Come love me whereas I lay
And he would marry a fair young wife
       The clean contrary way.

He woo'd her for to wed, to wed
       Come...
And even she kickt him out of the bed
       The clean....

I have 4 slip copies of R-A-T from about 1800 all with significant variation, to me at least indicating that the song had been popular in oral tradition up to then. I'll email you them. Then I'll check my indexes for American versions but I doubt if I've got anything not in Roud or Bronson.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 May 13 - 05:04 PM

American
2 Texas versions in Owens 1976, Owens claims it erroneously as a version of the Child Ballad.
Creighton, S New Brunswick.
Pound gives an Omaha version.
Another Texas version in Lomax, Our Singing Country

Catskills, Cazden etc has some interesting info on the refrains p503 but the version given is 277.

There are a couple of old British versions in Crawfurd and in John Bell by Harker.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Suzy Sock Puppet
Date: 20 May 13 - 05:41 PM

Ugh! Steve, that song was disgusting! I might have to take a bath now meself :-)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Richie
Date: 20 May 13 - 06:43 PM

I like the Slattern Wife title- the only one I could find was from Gilchrist, pub. in 1937.

THE SLATTERN WIFE- Sung about 25 years ago (c. 1912) by a Scots friend. Noted by A. G. Gilchrist.

She weish her face but ance a year,
Sing dhu and dhu, Sing dhu and dhu,
She sweept her flure but ance a year,
Cloch ma clairy clinkie O.

What's important is the refrain:

Sing dhu and dhu, Sing dhu and dhu,

which could be the source of "Dandoo, Dandoo." Although I'm not sure that "Sing dhu and dhu" means anything more than "Dandoo, dandoo."

Waht do you think?

Any other versions with the "Slattern Wife" title?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Richie
Date: 20 May 13 - 06:50 PM

Steve- Any date for the broadside; The Tidy Hussey maybe c. 1817?

It begins:

I Married my Wife
In the Full of the Moon,
A tidy hussy, a tidy one,
She made me a Cuckold
Before it was noon,
And was not she a tidy One

or Thrifty housewife (seems later) which has a better opening:

I married a wife in the full of the moon,
A thrifty housewife to be,
'Twas a year too late and a month too soon,
As such was the luck for me,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Richie
Date: 20 May 13 - 07:07 PM

BTW-- Roud 117 lists the "I married A Wife" songs, the "Nickety Nackety" songs along with Child 277. They are lumped together.

Got nothing for Roud 2792.

R-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 May 13 - 09:28 AM

Which version of Roud are you using? The online one is not up-to-date yet.

The 2 you got are 'Kendrew of York' who was printing 1801-1841. By the physical properties on the slip I'd say about 1835 for that printing.

The Pitts one is before 1819 as he changed his address from 14 to 6 Gt St Andrews St then.

The other 2 which I'll try to resend are

No imprint but judging by printing style it could be anything from 1790 to about 1810.

I haven't got an up-to-date version of Roud myself at the moment, or rather I have got it but I can't bring it up as I haven't got Access 2010 which is what Steve is now using. I'll ask him what the current state of play is on this one.

The other Birt you can easily get a date off the Bodl. but he was roughly contemporary with Pitts and Catnach.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Richie
Date: 27 May 13 - 12:41 PM

Hi,

Flanders has two version of the Wee Cooper O' Fife collected in the US. Does anyone know the source of Burl Ives 1941 recording? Here's my transcription:

WEE COOPER O'FIFE

There was a wee cooper wha' lived in Fife,
Nickety nackety, noo, noo, noo
He hae gotten a gentle wife, [1]
Hey Willie Wallacky, Hey, John Dougal,
Alane quo' rushety roo, roo, roo.


She wouldna' bake, she wouldna' brew
For the spoiling o' her comely hue.


She wouldna' card, she wouldna' spin
For the shaming o' her gentle kin.


The cooper hae gane tae his wool shack,
He's laid a sheepskin across his wife's back.

I wouldna' thrash ye for your gentle kin,
But I would thrash my ain sheepskin!


Now ye wha hae gotten a gentle wife,
Just send ye for the wee cooper o' Fife.

1. Gentiel

Anyone know any other US/Canadaian versions of Wee Cooper?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 27 May 13 - 12:55 PM

Richie - Roud lists several Canadian versions (6 I think) originally from Family Herald & Weekly Star (Montreal) Old Favourites section (1934, 1941 and 1949 I think). The references are taken from: Canadian Folk Music Journal 7 (1979) pp.29-56.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Richie
Date: 27 May 13 - 01:55 PM

Hi,

TY Mick- the Family Herald & Weekly Star versions are probably one version- reprinted- and who knows the source?

I found one collected by Bayard in PA 1943 who says, it was "brought to this country in the latter nineteenth century by a Scottish coal miner."

http://bluegrassmessengers.com.temp.realssl.com/the-wee-cooper-o-fife--gordon-pa-1943-bayard.aspx

Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 27 May 13 - 05:06 PM

It's possible Richie, but there are two entries in the index for each year, so there may be two versions. Do you have access to the Canadian Folk Music Journal?

I've just had a quick look at my copy of Roud and there's an entry for Korson: Pennsylvania Songs & Legends pp41-42. I don't know why I didn't spot that in the online version this morning (EFDSS site down at the moment so I can't recheck). I've just looked at the detail entry on my copy here and realised it's the Bayard collected version you've just linked above - so ignore my ramblings!


Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Richie
Date: 28 May 13 - 12:54 PM

TY Mick you're always helpful and provide accurate information- great at ferreting out on-line sources too.

I don't have access to the Canadian Journal or Family Herald & Weekly Star (Montreal) Old Favourites section (1934, 1941 and 1949) I tried briefly to search but came up empty.

I'm including Burl Ives version- but don't know the source- Alan Lomax wrote the liner-notes for the 1941 recording but haven't found a quote about Wee Cooper. I assume it's a family source.

TY

R-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 May 13 - 04:43 PM

Richie,
I strongly suspect an older Scots recording of 'Wee Cooper' is the source. All of the versions of this title seem to vary very little if at all and must have a fairly recent common source. By fairly recent I mean early 20th century. I will check this out using my own indexes as mine contain more cheesy/popular stuff than the Roud index which has more respectable sources. It could for instance have been in the repertoire of someone like Harry Lauder or Will Fyfe.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 May 13 - 05:03 PM

The earliest version so far is in Ford's Vagabond Songs, with tune at p192. I only have the second edition of 1901 but the first edition was only 1899 and I don't know if this had it in. He doesn't actually give a source, but states 'The late David Kennedy used to sing it with rare effect, and I would recommend it unreservedly to anyone who may be on the outlook for a really entertaining, humorous Scotch song.'

I have no idea who 'David Kennedy' was but if he was a well-known entertainer of the era you might get something by Googling.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 28 May 13 - 05:03 PM

Here's a commercial release from 1929 (Fri 4th Oct, Glasgow) - starts off the same 3 verses as Ives then diverges (also slightly different refrain): Robert Watson (bar) - Wee Cooper o' Fife. He's also made an earlier recording in Dec 1926.

Mick


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