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New Book: Folk Song in England

Jim Carroll 06 Jan 18 - 09:47 AM
Vic Smith 06 Jan 18 - 10:14 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Jan 18 - 10:24 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Jan 18 - 10:26 AM
Steve Gardham 06 Jan 18 - 02:08 PM
The Sandman 06 Jan 18 - 03:12 PM
Richard Mellish 06 Jan 18 - 03:16 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Jan 18 - 03:28 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Jan 18 - 03:32 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Jan 18 - 03:47 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 18 - 04:06 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 18 - 04:41 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 18 - 05:19 AM
GUEST,Rigby 07 Jan 18 - 05:40 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 18 - 06:58 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 18 - 07:56 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 18 - 08:21 AM
GUEST,Rigby 07 Jan 18 - 08:22 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 18 - 09:00 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 18 - 09:26 AM
Howard Jones 07 Jan 18 - 09:32 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 18 - 09:32 AM
The Sandman 07 Jan 18 - 09:46 AM
Severn 07 Jan 18 - 10:17 AM
Severn 07 Jan 18 - 10:29 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 18 - 10:56 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 18 - 10:58 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 18 - 11:01 AM
Severn 07 Jan 18 - 11:04 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 18 - 11:22 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 18 - 11:54 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 18 - 11:58 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 18 - 12:07 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 18 - 12:09 PM
Vic Smith 07 Jan 18 - 12:10 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 18 - 12:23 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 18 - 12:33 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 18 - 12:35 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 18 - 12:38 PM
Vic Smith 07 Jan 18 - 12:45 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 18 - 01:05 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 18 - 01:33 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 18 - 02:01 PM
Howard Jones 07 Jan 18 - 02:34 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 18 - 05:28 PM
Richard Mellish 07 Jan 18 - 05:32 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 18 - 05:46 PM
Lighter 07 Jan 18 - 08:17 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Jan 18 - 03:54 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Jan 18 - 04:22 AM
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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jan 18 - 09:47 AM

"Roud spends some time discussing the difficulty of defining 'folk song'"
There really hasn't been any difficulty defining folk songs until relatively recently when a number of clubs decided that they wished to move away from the traditional repertoire and include music hall, Victorian parlour ballads, pop songs from earlier years (which gradually got less and less early) and eventually anything they wished to call 'folk'
THe damage done to the club scene speaks for itself - those of us who had apprenticed ourselves to a specific type of song simply walked away from the scene and sought our songs elsewhere other than the clubs.
We have a large library of folk material - I could pull down one from a hundred or so collections and say - there - that's what I mean by folk song
The last large set we added to our collection was the 8 volume 'Greig Duncan Folk Song Collection'
Before the term 'folk' became the popular form af describing this specific type of song, ther were referred to as 'popular' - of the people - as in Child's 'English and Scottish Popular Ballads'
The term is an internationally accepted one - we have numerous examples of folk songs from other countries
What on earth is difficult about that?
These difficulties' have been wished into existence by a small number of researchers for god knows what reason.
We don't need a definition to enjoy any type of music - we enjoy it for what it is, but if we are going to understand it, we need to reach a consensus of what we are referring to - no consensus has been sought here, no referenda to decide whether the existing definition is no longer valid, what scholarship has taken place has been rejected by a few people who are now declaring they have an answer that has always been available and largely rejected.
Child worked on the broadsides and described them as he did, carefully discriminating between the jewels and the dung.
Sharp held the same opinion - both lived at the time when the broadside industry was still functioning; if our songs originated on the broadside presses they were in a far better position to have judged that we are.
The way past scolarship has been regarded is little short of disgraceful in my opinion - Child becomes an "elitist" incapable of sorting Art poetry from traditional ballads, Sharp is agenda driven.
The rest are regarded similarly
Here I have become an attention seeking politico liar
The ivory tower nature of accepting this change is clearly stated when I was told that if I disagreed with it I should write my own book - very reminiscent of a revival that resented all kinds of criticism, particularly that of its superstars
This behaviour sickens me
I am appalled at the readiness of people to refuse to discuss the implications of taking the credit from the people who have always been considered the creators of folk song and giving it to doggerel writers
I'll deal with the rest of your posing later
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 06 Jan 18 - 10:14 AM

Once again, Howard Jones' post above seems to make entire sense to me. There is nothing in the post the does not seem to me to reflect entirely the methods and approach that Steve Roud adopts throughout his book. Howard pinpoints the reasons why there are so few songs reproduced in it and to that could be added the reasons why he does not deal with the folk revival - by the time that emerged (circa 1950) the tradition only survived in fragmentary form in a few parts of England. Some, not all, of the traditional performers who became involved in the folk club movement saw it as a potential source of material. Three examples of this that come to mind straight away would be Fred Jordan, George Belton and Sheila Stewart (yes, I know not English, but she learned and subsequently sang a song that she learned at our folk club).
He also asks us not to obsess on origins because that only leads to a chicken & egg situation which we cannot resolve satifactorily. Rather, we should draw conclusions on ideas and theories that we can give evidence for and not what we woukd like to be the case, whilst keeping an open mind of what future research may discover.
On pages 24 - 25 in the chapter on definition, Steve gives a list saying, "The following statements will help us to put these abstract concepts into context, and add some details". The list also gives the thrust of what the book is going to be about. -
* It is not the origin of a song that makes it folk but the transmission within the folk tradition which makes it so.
* It is not where it comes from that matters, but what the folk do with it (what some people summarise as 'folk song by destination' rather than 'folk song by origin').
* Folk song is not only defined partly by its social context; it relies on that context for its existence.
* Folk song does not exist in a cultural or musical vacuum.
* Oral/aural transmission has always been an extremely important component m folk traditions, but since the invention of printing, there has probably never been a purely 'oral' tradition, even among the lower classes.
* However learnt (even if from print or musical notation), performance is normally carried without the aid of written text or notated tune.
* The folk have always taken their material from anywhere they liked, in whatever medium they have found convenient. As soon as new media, such as recorded sound, films and broadcasting became available, these were readily adopted as sources of new songs.
* Within an active tradition, songs are passed from person to person and thereby down the generations. New or different songs can enter a local tradition at any time.
* If nobody in the community likes a song enough to learn it, it will die within that community, but this is not the only possible reason for the 'death' of a song.
* Folk songs are not necessarily very old, but they must have been around long enough to become part of this traditional transmission (two generations might be an acceptable rule of thumb).
* Like all human cultural activities, folk song is not static but is in a continual state of flux, and has always changed over time, A new song usually loses its origin and becomes anonymous and common property.
* The people themselves rarely have an 'original' of a song with which they can compare their own version.
* From the folklorist s point of view, no version of a song is 'better' than another, but singers themselves will have criteria by which they will judge songs and performances.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jan 18 - 10:24 AM

THat answers none of the points I made Vic
This, as far as I am concerned over-rides all of them
""If 'Little Boxes' and 'The Red Flag' are folk songs. we need a new term to describe 'The Outlandish Knight'. Searching for Lambs' and 'The Coal-owner and the Pitman's Wife'."
Weare talking about a specific type of song - if that is no longer applicacble it is up to all of us to agree to make the changes
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jan 18 - 10:26 AM

Should have added - that specific type of song has reveled in the description 'folk song' for well over a century
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Jan 18 - 02:08 PM

From: Steve Gardham - PM
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 12:26 PM

Just to clarify Jim's comment at 11.28.

Fact: Of published English traditional folk songs 89% had their first extant manifestation on some form of commercial production in urban areas.

My opinion, take or leave, 95% of this corpus came from the same source. Many ephemeral printed pieces did not survive. We know this from the many catalogues that do survive.

This was posted on this thread on the above date. The same 2 statements have been posted on other threads several times. I find it sad that I have to keep reproducing it because one individual keeps twisting what it says.

That individual appears to hold the opinion that a certain substantial percentage of English folk songs from the main corpus originated in places other than the urban environment. We are not told what that percentage might be, presumably because he has not done the required research that others have.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jan 18 - 03:12 PM

""If 'Little Boxes' and 'The Red Flag' are folk songs. we need a new term to describe 'The Outlandish Knight'. Searching for Lambs' and 'The Coal-owner and the Pitman's Wife'.
jim, they are folk songs under the 1954 definition if football crowds start singing them


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 06 Jan 18 - 03:16 PM

""If 'Little Boxes' and 'The Red Flag' are folk songs. we need a new term to describe 'The Outlandish Knight'. Searching for Lambs' and 'The Coal-owner and the Pitman's Wife'."

I see little in common between any two of those five songs, beyond the fact that all five have appealed to, and been sung by, lots of people.

They are of five different vintages.

'Little Boxes' and 'The Red Flag' are both political (in different ways), but so is 'The Coal-owner and the Pitman's Wife'. The latter two both concern the "class struggle".

'The Outlandish Knight' and Searching for Lambs' both concern courtship, but under drastically different circumstances.

As for the quality of the poetry: I'd put 'The Coal-owner and the Pitman's Wife' well ahead of the other four, but that's a personal opinion.

Jim, what attribute do you see as being clearly shared by your last three but neither of your first two?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jan 18 - 03:28 PM

"My opinion, take or leave, 95% of this corpus came from the same source"
"You're now changing my 95% into 100%, Jim."
We'll leave the fact that you have also claimed 100% as well for a moment
"My opinion, take or leave, 95% of this corpus came from the same source"
Over the same time period I presume ?
Anybody who has read anything with any perception know that styles alter over in time so it is impossible to compare anything over different periods
The only solid evidence you have is the original published date - no idea if any song appeared before that date
Nobody here has come up with a statement that working people were capable of having produced such songs so we have to assume from their silence that they don't wish to commit themselves - fine by me, I can take that silence to mean whatever I want it to mean.
"We are not told what that percentage might be, presumably because he has not done the required research that others have.?" hw ****** arrogant can you get - whatever I might or might not have done, there has been over a century's worth of research carried out on this particular genre of songs, locally, nationally and internationally, all having fully accepted up to now that the people who sang the songs quite likely made them
You say these people weren't Gods, yet it is you people who are challenging centuries of work
I don't know how many songs were made by the people and I wouldn't be arrogant enough to claim I did - that would be the work of gods, given how little we know about both broadside and folk composing.
I have no ambitions to sainthood, I leave that to the more ambitious.
I've laid out the facts as I know them or believe them to be true - no more
Fat - we ghave a genre of songs that have been around at least since the time of The Venerable Bede - fairly well substantiated
Since a group of enterprising pioneers came across them they have been pt under faily intense scrutiny - pretty well all those involved accepted without challenge that they were made by the lower classes - no serious challenge until Dave Harker's viciousness.
Back in the seventies Maccoll gave me a study package produced by an American research team of song experts headed by Alan Lomax who had embarked on an intense study of international folk song, attempting to identify forms, disciplines, vocal techniques, poetic forms.... and put them into aa societal context - the project was entitled 'Cantometrics' (song measurement) - a further project (Choreometrics), did the same job on dance carried out by dance experts
Ewan wanted me to get it reviewed for the Folk Music Journal and the then editor, Mike Yate agreed that I do the review - I didn't want to and I shouldn't have done it)
The team examined folk son in minute detail, linking each nations songs to their social systems, language, geography, cultural influences....
Not one researcher, after such close scrutiny, felt the need to revise their opinions on the source of folk songs
Wonder what they missed - or maybe they were all agenda driven elitists like Child and Sharp!!
Now small group of largely print bound 'experts' have decided that all the experts of the past gott it arse-uppards
Yeah - give me a pen - where do I sign up to that one!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Jan 18 - 03:32 PM

'I said I was not going into the single songs cul-de-sac and that is what I meant' JC. Jan 4, 10.14 a.m.

'I said I wasn't going to discuss individual songs' JC. Jan 4, 03.27 p.m.

'We also need to examine the contents of the songs to see if there is anything in them to suggest their origins' JC. Jan 6. 06.00 a.m.

There must be 2 JCs on this thread.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Jan 18 - 03:47 PM

largely print bound 'experts'

Wrong ,wrong, wrong again!

Both Steve Roud and I have spent our lives immersed in traditional music at least every bit as much as JC, as performers, field workers, dancers, mummers, organisers, callers, etc. etc. Neither of us has ever used the word 'experts' to describe ourselves, nor would we. And by the way we are not a 'small' group in terms of folk song research.
Which 'large' group does JC belong to I wonder.

'I doe but shoote your owne arrow back againe' (16th century).


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 04:06 AM

"There must be 2 JCs on this thread."
We all need to examine the contents of the material as a body and see if your claim floats - your aggressive and insulting responses to any form of challenge leaves me with the feeling that you are not someone I wish to do that with
We have already tried it in an earlier thread and became bogged down in unnecessary incidentals.
I have not tolerated your insulting and patronising behaviour in the hope that I might change your mind - but in the chance that someone with less of an agenda than yours (happy to say that in the light of your already having accused be of having a political one and being an attention seeker) will weigh in with other opinions

None of this can be decided by two people slugging it out on a forum that has made 'what is folksong' a no go area' and discussion on the ideas and achievements of one of the greatest contributors to our pleasure and understanding of modern folk song performance a minefield of 'name-change' and army record.
If we are going to make any sense of folk song and save it from the same fate of the club scene that burned out when its foundations were destroyed by lack of direction, there has to be some sort of meeting of minds from all with an interest - not from messiahs who appear to have stumbled across the answer.
That discussion has to take into consideration what the earlier researchers had to say and if they got is so fundamentally wrong, why they did (without the 'adenda driving' and 'elitist' garbage)
We also need to take into consideration what little we have from the singers themselves.
The positive things that came out of the revival (not the performances or the faddiness, but the writing that was done in the form of magazine articles (when the revival had such things) and sleeve notes
The Critics group did what amounted to nearly ten years research on song texts in order to sing them - mostly recorded.
Parker, MacColl, Lomax, Roy Palmer, Mike Yates.... and others interviewed some of our best sings, some of whom had participated in living traditions - all need to be got together and examined - a life's work for a future generation.
Work done by those researching traditions other than the little tiny dying corner we are talking about here, need to be looked at - Hamish Henderson, Peter Cook, Peter Hall, Hugh Shields, Tom Munnelly, John Moulden....
The last thing we need to be told is that our tradition was created for money and is no different than the output of the pop industry - which doesn't make sense anyway.

With a few notable exceptions, Folk academia seems to have shrunk into an introspective freemasonry talking to each other in "a language that the stranger does not know" and producing books that are sold at prices people don't wish to or are unable to pay.
E.F.D.S.S. should have been at the forefront of of any discussion but it is difficult to see where they stand at present
I am not able to attend T.S.F. meetings (the last one I attended several of us from Ireland spoke at) but I had hopes that they could expand and move outside of their meetings - I'm not sure now.

I don't have any answers, but I'm damn sure that lumping folk songs in with all the musical dross that was accepted for a time than forgotten, to be replaced by more musical dross, isn't one of them
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 04:41 AM

The TSF is closely affiliated to the EFDSS, in fact it should be seen as the research arm of that body. Apart from that take a look at the website, both TSF's and EFDSS, plus tthe Folk Music Journal.

Out of touch with both Folksong Research and the British Folk Scene.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 05:19 AM

Do your really
y think I haven't Steve?
My statement was made on the basis of my having looked
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 05:40 AM

It seems to me that there has always been a problem in folk song research, whereby people come to folk song and traditional music with some idea that they want it to conform to, and then they have great difficulty accepting that it doesn't.

Some wanted folk song to be an expression of class anger on behalf of the working classes.

Some wanted folk song (and folklore more generally) to be all about the supernatural, or about survivals from pre-Christian religion.

Some wanted folk song to be a sort of well-spring of uniquely English music to counter the dominance of German music.

Some wanted folk song to represent the survival of the ancient church modes in a world where art music had left them behind.

Jim seems to want folk song to represent a body of music composed by non-literate, anonymous members of the communities in which it was sung.

One of the things I love about English folk music is the way in which it stubbornly resists all of these generalisations and more. Like the English people, it's contradictory and inconsistent and wilful, and if you want to lead it somewhere, it won't follow.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 06:58 AM

"Some wanted folk song to be an expression of class anger on behalf of the working classes."
Nobody I met ever wanted it to be that
Some people used it to express their own political beliefs, notably CND and The American Civil rights movement, but that's not claiming that the songs expressed political anger - the latter were largely using spirituals
"Some wanted folk song (and folklore more generally) to be all about the supernatural, or about survivals from pre-Christian religion."
That was a very early approach that largely disappeared with Wimberly's more or less definitive work
"English music to counter the dominance of German music."
That was Sharp's original aim, similar approaches were taken by Bartok and Kodaly in Europe
In each case, the collectors and researchers came to the idea that Folk Music could stand on its own two feet as an art form in itself
Sharp's 'Some Conclusions' for all its faults, was an attempt to understand folk musc for what it meant to the folk,
Don't know enough about Church music to comment
"Jim seems to want folk song to represent a body of music composed by non-literate, anonymous members of the communities in which it was sung."
Not me Rigby - that is what the bulk of scholarship accepted as early as William Motherwell when he wrote'Minstrelsy Ancient and Modern" in 1846
Please don't make this "my" theory - it has been the long accepted belief up to comparatively recently
Watever the truth, all these 'generalisations' have a validity of one degree and another - that is why the statement by MacColl that started this shouting match is so important
"Some of them have been centuries in the making, some of them undoubtedly were born on the broadside presses. Some have the marvellous perfection of stones shaped by the sea's movement. Others are as brash as a cup-final crowd. They were made by professional bards and by unknown poets at the plough-stilts and the handloom. "
There's nothing dogmatic about that - rightly raises the possibility that our folk songs came from several sources - it was that that suggestion that elicited Steve's accusation of naivety - everything went downhill from then on
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 07:56 AM

'One of the things I love about English folk music is the way in which it stubbornly resists all of these generalisations and more. Like the English people, it's contradictory and inconsistent and wilful, and if you want to lead it somewhere, it won't follow.'

Great statement! Is it your own? Who do I come to to quote it in future publications? (Ros?)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 08:21 AM

"Great statement! "
It is indeed, but it's far from new, and it applies to those who would attempt to tie folk song (or even 95% of it) down to a single source
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 08:22 AM

Yes that was my statement, if you really think it quotable please use it as you see fit! I don't mind if you attribute it or not, but if you do, my name is Sam Inglis. I should get around to registering here under my own name some time.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 09:00 AM

Please do, Sam. Your input would be valued.

ploughlads, weavers, farm hands, broadsides, pleasure gardens, theatres, Music Hall, glee clubs, song cellars, seamen, hard-up poets, parlour songs, etc., etc., hardly a 'single source'.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 09:26 AM

'I suggest you listen to Phil Tanner sing it and come back and tell me it sounds like a broadside compostion' (JC) Jan 3rd 3.27

Magnificent performance as ever, but we can't escape from the fact that Phil's 4 verses are almost verbatim 4 of the verses from the standard seminal broadside.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 09:32 AM

"The last thing we need to be told is that our tradition was created for money and is no different than the output of the pop industry - which doesn't make sense anyway."

Why doesn't it make sense? I understand why Jim may find the idea distasteful, but unless folk culture existed in a bubble cut off from all outside influences it seems entirely plausible to me. Roud's case is that there was an extensive musical culture comprising both performance and publication, and that the 'folk' weren't isolated from this but were active participants. Perhaps the more remote rural areas were cut off from this, but even these had opportunities to hear new songs at fairs and from travelling players, or they may have got them second-hand from itinerant workers who brought songs with them. In a society where nearly everybody sang, it seems entirely probable to me that they would seize on the latest songs. Most of these would rapidly drop out of fashion, but some would last.

This does not rule out that some songs were composed within the community itself - even though a large proportion of collected songs can be traced back to printed versions, that still leaves the rest, and many printed songs weren't original but had been collected from singers. And whilst printed versions may have first disseminated the songs, from then on they would probably be passed on by oral transmission.

Roud's other point is that origin doesn't matter, it is what the folk then did with it which makes it a folk song. The issue of new songs doesn't undermine this. A brand-new song in the mouth of a folk singer nevertheless isn't a 'folk song' because for it to be adopted and taken up by the community takes time. However at any one time there will always be a number of new-ish songs in the repertoire on their way to being adopted (or being dropped) which fall into a grey area - still new enough to be distinguishable as such, and not yet fully-fledged folk songs. Had the English tradition continued uninterrupted we would probably have found by now that the music hall and minstrel songs of the 19th century had become fully integrated folk songs, just as their 18th century and earlier counterparts had been by the time the first collectors got on their bikes.

As an aside, ?17.99 is a fairly standard price for a hardback book of this size. Not cheap, admittedly, but hardly unaffordable for most people with an interest in the subject. Compared with the price of most academic publications it is an absolute bargain. My paperback copy of Lloyd's 'Folk Song in England' is priced at 12/6, which would be around ?10 today.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 09:32 AM

" hardly a 'single source'."
Up to now it's been 95 to 100% from print
"ploughlads, weavers, farm hands seamen, hard-up poets"
That is what you dismissed as romantic nonsense after the MacColl statement - do I sense a retreat ?
pleasure gardens, theatres, Music Hall, glee clubs,parlour songs, etc.,
These are pop songs and have never been counted as 'folk' until now
"As I said - you and yours would rob folk song of its unique nature by making it a commercial product"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 09:46 AM

Jim one thing that saddens me is that the uk folk revival is becoming more like the pop world as every year passes on. apologies for the thread drift


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Severn
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 10:17 AM

I have always considered something became a folk song, in some cases you might argue very briefly, If used for a "folk purpose".

When my daughter (now 35 years old) was an infant, some nights she was very resistant towards falling asleep, and it was my turn to render her sleepy while my then-wife and my stepdaughter's were in the living room watching a movie that Knight have had hopes of watching most of, myself, I'd dim down the lights and set up the armless rocking chair near the crib and start singing her whatever lullabyes I knew. Sometimes, I would run out of established lullabyes and sing something nice and slow. Whatever I sang to kill t


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Severn
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 10:29 AM

Kill time automatically became a folksing at that time along with any verses I wrote to stretch out an existing song.....

When you wish upon the earth
Makes no difference what you're worth

When you wish upon a sky,
It's no use to wonder why

When you wish upon a constellation
May you ha


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 10:56 AM

Apart from the rocking chair, similar experiences. We have a family lullaby going back several generations to the middle of the 19th century, or at least that's when the broadside was printed it was based on. However my two took a lot more than a single lullaby to get off. Marching up and down the bedroom with one of them over my shoulder singing a nice rhythmical 'Oh Adam Buckham-O' (by the High Level Ranters) usually did the trick.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 10:58 AM

do I sense a retreat ? In a word. NO!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 11:01 AM

'you and yours would rob folk song of its unique nature by making it a commercial product" ' (JC)

Absolutely not. As many of the posters have already told you on this thread, what makes a folk song is the folk process, the oral tradition. Nothing whatsoever to do with the origin.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Severn
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 11:04 AM

May you have God's cooperation



.....and so on. She wasn't talking yet, so there would be no objections to being referred to in song as a "weary hobo" or the like.It was all in being being rocked gently to sleep in familiar loving arms by someone making well intentioned, famillar reassuring noises.


If the number of times I've heard "I Can't Help Falling In Love with you" sung while babies were being rocked by their mothers, that IT should be considered a folk song, even if learned from its use in an Elvis movie.

Any song I ever sang while working in my vegetable garden years ago while picking. or weeding was for that period of time, a Folk Song.


Sorry, folks. This was written in transit on a very balky device.....


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 11:22 AM

"Jim one thing that saddens me is that the uk folk revival is becoming more like the pop world as every year passes on"
Me too Dick -I'm hoping that the research side of it doesn't go the same way
"Why doesn't it make sense? I understand why Jim may find the idea distasteful, "
I do wish people wouldn't keep attributing opinions to me that I don't hold
I have never offered an opinion on payment for singing - it is my opinion that as far as folk song makin is concerned it didn't happen to any significant extent
We recorded a singer who sang on the streets for money and sold songs on ballad sheets - the most valuable source of information we ever interviewed on this subject
We asked him if he ever knew of making songs for sale - he said, "why should they, there were plenty to choose from already"
The making of songs for payment was an urban occupation and I have no doubt whatever that the people who did it took their songs from wherever they could
If they could get songs from visiting farmers of sailors or soldiers, the very nature of their trade would make it necessary to do so - that, I believe is how so many folk songs ended up on broadsides - the suggestion that it was the other way around is totally unproven.
From what we know, at the beginning of the 19th century Margaret Laidlaw regarded the printed word as a threat to the oral tradition - we have that on record.
By the end of the century, the rural communities were changing, cottage industries were being killed off by the factories and people were moving into the towns for work - these changes were turning rural dwellers into passive recipients of their culture rather than active participants - Walter Pardon explained how, in his native North Norfolk, the Harvest Suppers disappeared and the singing was confined to family gatherings.
He also described how he parted company with his contemporaries - he stuck with "the old folk songs" while his cousins went for the 'modern' popular songs.
It is my opinion that mankind is a natural songmaker - children did it for their games, we know thousands of songs were made by people trying to get the vote, both in town and countryside - Chartist newspapers ran weekly song columns - Manchester Central Library is full of them.      
I grew up in a city with a very rich vernacular speech and a noted sense of humour
I worked on the docks, where the turning of verses of pop songs of the day into little squibs was a regular occurrence
My father was a prisoner of war in Spain - he returned home in 1939 with a repertoire of songs in Spanish and English about the Civil War - the first folk songs I ever sang (not in public) were in Spanish
When he went on the road as a navvy, he and his mates made up songs about the job.
None of this was for payment - it was a need to put into verse how you felt bout things
Severn
Making songs for children is a fascinating study in itself - the same goes for storytelling
It's interesting to note how the Opies described children who sang 'dirty' songs as "ogre children" - of course children made songs about "knickers" or "poo" or farting.... and far beyond
Another subject I am inclined to take issue with in Roud is his accusation that Ewan and Bert but bawdy songs that hadn't been there before into the folk repertoire
Go look up 'The Maid of Lowestoft or The Hole in the Wall' which is accompanied by the note "we have only included the tune as the words are not fit for decent ears"   
Gershon Legman must be laughing in his shroud!
Jim Caarroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 11:54 AM

'there has to be some sort of meeting of minds from all with an interest' (JC) What had you in mind?

The TSF exists for that very thing and there are plenty of interested minds on this very thread who you mostly dismiss as deskbound and largely printbound 'experts'.
Perhaps you could name a few names. Ah, you mention John Moulden who occasionally chips in on Mudcat. No problems there. I have utmost respect for John's work, particularly on the Irish broadsides.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 11:58 AM

'We also need to examine the content of the songs'. Totally agree, but how do we do this without bringing in individual songs. What are you afraid of? Why don't you want to look at individual songs?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 12:07 PM

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) and its partners present the world’s largest online collection of English folk manuscripts.

Freely explore 80,000 pages of traditional songs, dances, tunes and customs from the golden age of folk music collecting, within the manuscripts of nineteen of England’s most important late Victorian and Edwardian folk collectors, including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Percy Grainger, Lucy Broadwood and Cecil Sharp.

The Full English digital archive delivers the true ‘voice of the people’ through a variety of material ranging from full songs to fragments of melodies, invaluable for researchers, performers, composers and many more. It is rich in social, family and local history, and provides a snapshot of England’s cultural heritage through voices rarely published and heard before.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 12:09 PM

If it's not already there the full Carpenter Collection is due to be added to this amazing resource shortly.

What a great waste of money and resources, hey, JC?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 12:10 PM

In a long disputatious thread that has been almost totally devoid of humour, I'd like to insert this to lighten things up for one post at least.....

This appeared on page 40 of yesterday's "The Guardian":-

Corrections and clarifications


*
A review of Peggy Seeger's memoir quotes her description of her early impressions of Ewan MacColl and how they fell in love, saying he had a "hairy, fat, naked belly poking out, and was clad in ill-fitting trousers, suspenders, no shirt, a ragged jacket and a filthy lid of stovepipe hat aslant like a garbage can". The context we omitted was that MacColl was appearing in a production of The Threepenny Opera (First Time Ever, 30 December, page 5, Review).


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 12:23 PM

Sounds like a perfect description of W. G. Ross in his Sam Hall persona!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 12:33 PM

More on 'The Maid of Australia'.

Quote from a very reliable source (1961)

' Contrary to the opinion of some Australian folklorists, it is doubtful if 'The Maid of Australia' was actually composed in that country. It seems much more likely to be a broadside fantasy about a country which the writer had never visited.'

I'll give the source later.

I must thank JC for reminding me of this scarce song. The study I have now carried out has thrown up some very interesting facts about Harry Cox's version(s). Walter's and Sam Larner's versions are very close to the seminal broadside as you would expect seeing as Walter's grandfather (Walter's ultimate source) got his songs from broadsides.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 12:35 PM

"Totally agree, but how do we do this without bringing in individual songs"
I said not here and not with you Steve
My suggestion was for a friendly discussion where people could raise ideas without getting slagged off and insulted
"'there has to be some sort of meeting of minds from all with an interest' (JC) What had you in mind? "
I've long thought that it's time to reconstitute the old Folk Song Federation, incorporating singers, non-academics, and audience - those who survived the revival unscathed without having the joy of folk song destroyed.
If it is to be N.S.F., the impetus has to come from them; maybe an open discussion of Roud's book would be a good starting point.
There are several other major collections that have yet to be worked on, including Pater Hall's recordings and the Grainger tapes.
I would be more than happy to turn over The several thousands tapes-worth (now digitised) Singers Workshop archive, our collection of radio programmes and lectures and our own field recordings to such an enterprise
"What a great waste of money and resources, hey, JC?"
Spiteful as ever, I see - especially as I played a large part in acquiring the collection for the EFDSS
Grow up, for crying out loud
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 12:38 PM

Sorry
Forgot to say thanks for the attempted break hostilities
Missed that glorious piece
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 12:45 PM

02 Jan 18 - 05:09 AM - "I hope we can discuss this without the former rancour and condescension"

07 Jan 18 - 12:35 PM - "Grow up, for crying out loud."


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 01:05 PM

""Grow up, for crying out loud.""
That is a response to at least three threadsworth of condeesention and personal abuse Vic
Nothing like being neutral, is there!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 01:33 PM

It's no use, Vic. JC is totally oblivious to his own personal abuse and rancour.

'I doe but shoote your owne arrow back againe' Totally wasted on him.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 02:01 PM

"It's no use, Vic. JC is totally oblivious to his own personal abuse and rancour."
No I'm not Steve, I get it all the time from you
I have insulted no-one here - I have even been fairly subdued about your personal attacks
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 02:34 PM

"Why doesn't it make sense? I understand why Jim may find the idea distasteful, "
I do wish people wouldn't keep attributing opinions to me that I don't hold

I apologise for that, Jim, but that was what your words suggested to me. But you haven't explained why it doesn't make sense - you may disagree with the argument, but there is nevertheless logic to it. There were people writing and publishing songs for money, and it seems entirely possible, to say no more, that ordinary people sang these songs and that a few of them survived to become folk songs.

The real question is what were the proportions? I think the difficulty with all this is that so much is unproveable. There doesn't appear to be sufficient evidence to know with any certainty which songs started out as broadsides and which broadsides were already existing folk songs. It may be possible to take a guess, from the language and style of the broadside version, but even that leaves open the possibility that they had over-embellished an existing song. There is inevitably some conjecture and drawing of conclusions from limited evidence, and it is unsurprising that different people come to different conclusions.

I make no claim to be an expert, I am simply a singer and musician with in interest in the material I perform. All I can say is that Roud's case seems plausible to me. I think we would have to go back several centuries to find a situation where folk culture was not influenced by outside forms. There is a parallel situation with dance tunes, where it is now apparent that a great many traditional folk dance and morris tunes can be traced back to the stage or the military, and often to identifiable composers.

I also share Roud's view that it is not the origin of the songs which matters but what the folk did with them. It has always been my understanding that what distinguishes folk song from other forms is the evolution of a song in the mouths of successive singers.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 05:28 PM

'especially as I played a large part in acquiring the collection for the EFDSS'. (Jim). Now you have my full interest, Jim. Please tell us more. I also worked on the Full English and I don't remember your name being mentioned.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 05:32 PM

I totally agree with Howard's postings.

Apropos "distasteful": I don't think Jim has suggested that the writing of songs for money is distasteful, but what he does seem to find distasteful is the claim that that's where most of our folk songs came from.

I do wish we could all:
- agree that some songs that started life on broadsides and in other commercial situations such as the stage and the pleasure gardens were taken up by ordinary people and eventually collected,
- agree that some songs were originally made by working people such as farm labourers, sailors, coal miners, weavers, etc
- agree to disagree about the proportions,
- agree that the fact of songs being sung for the sake of it, and eventually being collected, is at least as important as where those songs started.

Jim sees evidence in some songs that they could only have been made by the people whose experiences they recount. I don't see how we can take that any further without looking at particular songs.

As for Maid of Australia, I will be interested to see Steve's "very reliable source (1961)" and what the Australian folklorists have said about it. For the time being I will continue to believe that the song could equally well be an account of a real encounter (perhaps embroidered) or a pure fantasy.

BTW I noted that the version quoted by Steve 03 Jan 18 - 05:06 PM refers to the maid's "lily-white limbs". That goes against a suggestion that I recall reading somewhere that she was black.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 05:46 PM

'very reliable source (1961)'. Peter Kennedy and/or Alan Lomax to Harry Cox's version in the Folk Songs of Britain Caedmon series. I have no idea what Australian folklorists had to say. I can only imagine.

'I do wish......' I don't have a problem with any of that, Richard.

Regarding the 'real encounter' possibility, all I can say is that I have a large collection of songs from all sorts of sources that include sexual euphemisms and I can't think of one that might be based on a real encounter.

BTW, Jim, on the same subject can you please direct me to the page in the book that claims that Bert and Ewan introduced bawdy songs into the folk repertoire? I must have missed that one.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Jan 18 - 08:17 PM

In regard to songs such as the "Coal-Owner," allow me to repeat what I posted last month, which no one has responded to:

Hmmm. I find no Roud number for "The Coal-owner and the Pitman's Wife."

If the song never entered "tradition" before it was unearthed in 1951, was it a folk song? Is it now? Do we know if, in its day, it was ever sung as a song rather than merely recited as a poem? How many singers must there be before a song can be considered "traditional"?

Doesn't tradition imply some degree of popularity?

"Searching for Lambs" and "The Outlandish Knight," however, are well and widely attested as songs, with numerous folk variations.

So, if "tradition" is a criterion, what (other than wishful thinking) places "The Coal-owner" in the same category ("folk song" or "traditional song") as the other two?

Not being contentious. Just thinking aloud....

(To "wishful thinking," I would now add "personal appeal.")


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Jan 18 - 03:54 AM

"agree that some songs that started life on broadsides "
Is there any disagreement on this - not from me?
Of course they did - but I happen to know from personal experience in Ireland that in the first twentieth century many hundreds of songs were created by 'ordinary' people (do wish we could find a better term than this - everybody is extraordinary in some way or other) on anything that caught their fancy, the songs circulated within a local tradition for a period and disappeared because of their parochial nature - some made their way into the national repertoire, but all were folk songs by definition.
The same was still happening within a living song tradition within the Travelling community
I see no reason why this should not have happened in England and why many songs made this way can't include those that have been documented as 'folk'
These songs need to be considered in any estimation we make of our folk song traditions - the percentages being bandied about here makes it virtually impossible to do so.
Country people have always made folk songs - that has been established without question in Ireland, in Scotland without challenge - it seems that there is a reluctance by a few people to accept that this was the case in England - that is the problem here
We do not know who made our folk songs, but once you accept that country people were capable of making songs and did make them these percentages do not hold water.
As Stephen Fry is fond of saying "nobody knows"
"agree to disagree about the proportions,"
WE can't do that while academics are producing tomes based on these percentages - we've already seen how quickly people are prepared to lap them up, inside and outside the folk world - sadly, including in this debate
I've seen no response to the implications of accepting these figures - that working people left no tangible record of their existence - not if we accept our folk songs as commercial products, as has been claimed.
"I also share Roud's view that it is not the origin of the songs which matters but what the folk did with them."
Surely, if it was historical and social events that produced our songs, then they become part of our social history - the way we once thought.
That's every bit as historically important than the entertainment value of our songs
Lighghter
"which no one has responded to:"
Sorry, thought I had
Bert Lloyd was employed by the National Coal Board to collect songs and lore and stories from the Miners - I think I have an article on it somewhere.
I always understood that 'Coal Owner' was one of these songs
Lloyd appears not to have kept a personal record of what he collected. and passed it on to his 'employers'
So little has been collected from the mining communities (MacColl did a little for 'The Big Hewer) that we don't know what constitutes an oral tradition among them, or whether one existed at all in the way we know rural ones did.
Presumably Roud didn't give the song a number because there is no proven record that it existed prior to Bert singing it (a little odd that he should give pop songs numbers, but there you go)
There are several songs from our from our collection that exist only in single versions that (I think) have Roud numbers
MacColl and Joan Littlewood collected songs in the North of England for a radio programme which was broadcast once and then (presumably) destroyed - Ewan kept a file of those songs, but not the recordings.
I've never checked to see whether Beckett Whitehead's obscene version of 'Seven Nights Drunk' or 'Drinking' or 'The Mowing Match' have Roud numbers - the same with 'Fourpence a Day' which was taken from lead miner Mark Anderson, the only surviving recorded version was that of MacColl singing it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Jan 18 - 04:22 AM

Steve
"Please tell us more."
Am taking this separately so it doesn't get mixed up with the real subject
Bob Thomson, through his friendship with Ken Goldstein, learned of the existence of The Carpenter Collection and how it was discovered locked away in Carpenter's garage.
Bob and I were friends and on a visit to his home he told me about it and suggested that a copy should be obtained by the V.W.M.L - Bob also introduced us to Goldstein while he was visiting London, who told us more.
I passed on the information to the then Librarian (I think it was Barbara Newlyn, but it might have been Theresa Thom) and she acquired a copy of the recordings and a microfiche set of the transcriptions
The rest is history
I have printed copies of many of the texts and of the recordings somewhere here.
As far as Bright Golden Store is Concerned, way back, while we were collecting from Travellers and in Clare and had not long started recording Walter, we approached the wonderful Lucy Duran at what I think was still the The British Institute of Recorded Sound and asked her was she interested in acquiring copies of our recordings - she jumped at the chance and took our collection as it was back then.
She decided, on the basis of our collection, that her department at BIRS should move from being a musicological department concerned mainly with African and Asian music, and expand to include British music
Since Lucy (sigh!!) took our collection it has remained largely unused due, presumably to financial restrictions
Because of this, we have basically lost interest in donating the rest o our collection to them and have now found a (very willing) home for it in the World Music Department of Limerick University, who are thinking about setting up a web-site to release our, and hopefully other similar collections.
They already have an active interest in Traveller music and have done a considerable amount of work in helping to re-introduce instrumental traditional music back into their community
Just shows you what you can do when you have no problem identifying what folk music is and realise its importance!
By the way, I have always assumed that people are aware that a full set of the Grainger recordings, including some of his Scandinavian material, are included in the NSA collection and have been since N.I.R.S. days
Jim Carroll


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