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New Book: Folk Song in England

Jim Carroll 17 Jul 18 - 06:53 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Jul 18 - 06:53 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 17 Jul 18 - 06:28 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Jul 18 - 05:46 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Jul 18 - 05:46 AM
The Sandman 17 Jul 18 - 05:10 AM
The Sandman 17 Jul 18 - 04:22 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Jul 18 - 03:16 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Jul 18 - 03:14 AM
The Sandman 17 Jul 18 - 02:24 AM
Joe Offer 16 Jul 18 - 10:53 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Jul 18 - 06:28 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Jul 18 - 06:02 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 16 Jul 18 - 05:25 PM
Vic Smith 16 Jul 18 - 03:53 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Jul 18 - 03:52 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Jul 18 - 03:45 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Jul 18 - 02:39 PM
Vic Smith 16 Jul 18 - 02:33 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Jul 18 - 02:15 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Jul 18 - 01:17 PM
Brian Peters 16 Jul 18 - 01:12 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Jul 18 - 01:10 PM
Brian Peters 16 Jul 18 - 01:02 PM
Vic Smith 16 Jul 18 - 12:09 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 16 Jul 18 - 12:04 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Jul 18 - 11:46 AM
Brian Peters 16 Jul 18 - 11:35 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Jul 18 - 11:12 AM
Steve Gardham 16 Jul 18 - 10:56 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Jul 18 - 10:28 AM
Brian Peters 16 Jul 18 - 09:57 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 16 Jul 18 - 09:39 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Jul 18 - 09:37 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Jul 18 - 09:32 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 16 Jul 18 - 09:22 AM
Vic Smith 16 Jul 18 - 08:38 AM
Jack Campin 16 Jul 18 - 08:27 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 16 Jul 18 - 08:01 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Jul 18 - 07:49 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 16 Jul 18 - 06:41 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 16 Jul 18 - 06:31 AM
Jack Campin 16 Jul 18 - 06:12 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Jul 18 - 05:32 AM
The Sandman 16 Jul 18 - 04:20 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Jul 18 - 03:51 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Jul 18 - 07:32 PM
Steve Gardham 15 Jul 18 - 06:01 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 15 Jul 18 - 05:21 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 15 Jul 18 - 05:10 PM
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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 06:53 AM

'popular'
Whatever Karpeles meant by the term, she was referring to a specific type of music which is all that matters here
If the definition changes the subject referred to doesn't
Suggesting that id did has always been a misinterpretation con
Until the definition is changed it is a red-herring to these arguments - the only people to quote it are those who wish it gone and use it as a tem of abuse
These arguments will only remain "circular" while people refuse to respong to what is really being said
The solution lies in hands other than mine
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 06:53 AM

'popular'
Whatever Karpeles meant by the term, she was referring to a specific type of music which is all that matters here
If the definition changes the subject referred to doesn't
Suggesting that id did has always been a misinterpretation con
Until the definition is changed it is a red-herring to these arguments - the only people to quote it are those who wish it gone and use it as a tem of abuse
These arguments will only remain "circular" while people refuse to respong to what is really being said
The solution lies in hands other than mine
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 06:28 AM

I was looking again at the first book about folk in England that I bought, by Maud Karpeles, whom I later learned more about. I now know she was involved with an international body that came up with the 1954 definition referred to above in this thread.

The book discusses definitions, and, though I did promise myself not to get involved in dizziness-inducing circular arguments, I am going to quote some of what it says. The reason I do this is because, for me, it possibly contradicts any theory that for a hundred years people have argued that to count as folk song a song must have originated with the people.

" (i)The term folk music can be applied to music that has been evolved from rudimentary beginnings by a community uninfluenced by popular or art music and it can likewise be applied to music which has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community;

(ii) The term does not cover popular composed music that has been taken over ready-made by a community and remains unchanged, for it is the re-fashioning and re-creation of the music by the community which gives it its folk character"

One might not like the implications of this, especially as it includes the dreaded term 'popular', but for me it makes it difficult to argue that for a century folklorists have worked exclusively with a different definition.


Karpeles' discussion is more subtle than a simple 'folk-broadsheet' opposition.

She also refers to a view that folk song 'composes itself', ascribing it to early German Romantic writers, saying that many later scholars believe that 'the songs owe their origin to individual ownership'. She refers to two schools 'the production theory' and 'the reception' theory'. She says neither school gives enough importance to the question of passing on via word of mouth.

This emphasis makes it difficult, in terms of Karpeles' view, to argue that material composed in, say, 1950 would count as 'folk' music, on the basis that it has not been through the mill of re-fashioning and re-creation.

Why do the manufacturers of squidgy stuff that comes in tubes so often choose the same shade of blue? It almost leads to unfortunate misapplication of the wrong sort of stuff to one's person.:(

Somebody should write a song about it :)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 05:46 AM

Life would be very boring if everybody agreed with everybody else all the time Dick
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 05:46 AM

Life would be very boring if everybody agreed with everybody else all the time Dick
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 05:10 AM

That does not mean i always agree with you ,but i find them interesting nevertheless


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 04:22 AM

"I was just skipping to a few books I haven't opened for years - I was staggered at the amount of excellent work I have either absorbed into my own ideas or had altogether forgotten"
Jim, your own ideas continue to interest me with their depth of vision.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 03:16 AM

Just noticed
"Pat had the advantage"
Pat and I, of course
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 03:14 AM

"Really? I was using your own words verbatim!"
I'm talking about the subject as a whole Steve, and I am not just referring to you

I was just skipping to a few books I haven't opened for years - I was staggered at the amount of excellent work I have either absorbed into my own ideas or had altogether forgotten
One of the most interesting (and earliest) is Francis Gummere's 'The Popular Ballad' (1907)
It's not an easy book (the author recommends that "Gentle readers should begin their reading with the second chapter") and it is certainly dated in places, but it throbs with excellent information and opinions.
The book is based on the idea that folk balladry was a creation of 'the common people' - totally distinct from literary creations
I had forgotten that this idea originated in the 1500s in the writings of the philosopher Montaigne -1533-1592
I said earlier that the first reports of traditional singing were by 'The Venerable Bede - c673 to 735; (must get the spelling right this time), when he described cattlemen passing a harp around and improvising lewd songs
Wedderburn's 'Complaynt of Scotland describes the song of 'the frog and the mouse' being sung by unlettered shepherds in 1549
If traditional singing and song-making has been around for so long, where did it go - what happened to all that talent and creativity?
Before we throw out the idea that the folk created their own songs, that question needs to be answered

“A man must eat before he can think" Marx
There's me thinking Charlie used to take sandwiches into the British Library Dick?
Must remember your advice (belch!!)

Joe
I apologise (again) for my occasional outbursts of irritation.
I think that all here regard this subject as important and not particularly easy to deal with
These ideas are new to most of us and we're not particularly skilled debaters or writers (speaking only for me, of course)
I feel an anodyne discussion would be selling the subject short - doesn't mean we shouldn't be polite to each other and tolerant of views we don't agree with
I always avoided pubs with signs saying "no politics, no football, no religion", no matter how good the beer - Liverpool was full of them, not without good reason
I've got a tremendous amount out of this discussion so far - I hope others have
Your indulgence on the occasional lapse would be very much appreciated (by me, at least)
Thanks
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Jul 18 - 02:24 AM

Sorry Steve - in the middle of a meal so last post was hurried"
Jim, might i suggest you eat your meal before making posts
“A man must eat before he can think"Marx


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 10:53 PM

As Vic Smith says, I have "already given a yellow card to this thread." I keep looking, but the discussion is still fascinating despite occasional animosity.
Carry on, gentlemen.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 06:28 PM

>>>>Your posting refers to nothing I have said<<<< Really? I was using your own words verbatim!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 06:02 PM

Steve
Your posting refers to nothing I have said
Your work as a collector concerns taking songs from a tradition that was being remembered twice
We have agreed (I thought) that even Sharp's people were taking songs from a dying tradition a century ago and racing to do so
Where does that leave us at present
Pat had the advantage of recording songs from a tradition on its last legs and one that was still warm
Even there, it was limited because it was largely being remembered.
Your claims have not been made on the basis of what you discovered in the field bup from paperwork
I admit to not having definitive answers, you have pai
d lip service to not having answers but from the very beginning your attitude has been =one of contempt and ridicule - I'm sure you don't need me to repeat your dismissive summing up of my attitude to MacColl's 'Song Carriers summing up
Your attitude to researchers and academics who were living at the time the broadside presses were going full tilt and and the world was throbbing with living traditions I find totally unacceptable - as for those immediately following that period - unbelievable.
Your dogged determination to draw the conclusions you have from statistics leave none of us any future other than to give up and follow your lead - you leave no room for negotiation or co-operation

People have complained about our going round in circle - fine - why not face my arguments down with ones of your own?
The basic Question is a simple one
If you believe the people were capable of making our folk songs - why are you so convinced that they didn't ?
I really don't think it gets much more difficult than that
I really have shown you mane - far too much of it
Now where's yours?
All I've seen so far is shadow boxing
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 05:25 PM

Hello all,

Me, I'm getting dizzy going round this particular circle!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 03:53 PM

Anyone else feel SteveR has done this, after reading the book? Just curious!
No


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 03:52 PM

Looks like you missed it, Jim, so can I respectfully ask you to at least look at my post of 1.10 PM?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 03:45 PM

>>>>>radically move the goalposts in term of what folk song is<<<<<<<


Anyone else feel SteveR has done this, after reading the book? Just curious!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 02:39 PM

Sorry Steve - in the middle of a meal so last post was hurried
There's two things about the omission of songs in the book
I can remember where i was when I bought Bert's book as clearly as I can remember what I was doing when Bambi's mother was shot - I was at a CND fundraise in the Free Trade Hall in Manchester
The place was full of non-folkies but the book sold out within an hour because the punters could look at what they were buying
This is not the case - the authors have aimed the book at aficionados and veteran folkies - at a time when the scene desperately needs new blood and brains

Secondly, and most importantly, to my mind
If you are going to radically move the goalposts in term of what folk song is, those not in our particular Freemasons Lodge need to be able to view the repertoire covered to see if such a radical switch of direction is justified.
That isn't even true if you can call yourself 'Two Books Jackson'
I don't remember many 'New Age Folk Songs' being included in the new eition of 'Penguin Book' - I'm sure I would have noticed and been up on my soapbox before now if they had been
Washing up time
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 02:33 PM

the great Jeff Davis.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 02:15 PM

"The book contained 764 pages"
Pity the reviewers weren't sent a copy of both - maybe then they would have something to go on
You can never assume that those who are prepared to lay out for one will by the other
For me, it's the difference between bert's version and Stve's
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 01:17 PM

>>>>>I found the greatest flaw in Roud's book was it's virtual total lack of songs<<<<<<

Oh dear! Not that one again. The book contained 764 pages. It followed hotly on the heels of The New Penguin 542 pages containing 151 songs all fully annotated with a study on the tunes as well. Some people are never satisfied!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 01:12 PM

Somewhat odd for the Appalachians

If by this, Jim, you mean that it was odd he met only two black singers in an area with a large African-American population, that can be explained partly because he looked for (or was directed to) areas where people were known to sing the old ballads, which in practice meant areas with a high proportion of British Isles descendents. On one occasion that we know about, he and Maud Karpeles turned back from a particular township when they found it had a mostly black population. There was a lot of segregation in the mountains at the time, so for instance the rather isolated rural community of Madison Co., NC, where they got a lot of songs on their first trip, had only a tiny black component.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 01:10 PM

>>>>I have reservations on their work and sometimes opinions<<<< And that's all the rest of us have and comment on so can we bury that one, please?


Now, to the very demeaning 'desk jockeys'. To whom exactly are you referring? None of the people I know who have been commenting on the current topics could be solely described in this way. They are all heavily involved in the music actively, have carried out field recordings, have travelled round the country hunting out scarce versions, etc. In what way are we/they any more 'desk jockeys' than you are?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 01:02 PM

Thanks, Vic.

Gosh, was it so long ago? Unforgettable for me not least because you got Shirley Collins - who knows plenty about Appalachian song herself, of course - to introduce the show.

You missed one thing amidst all that detail (obviously an oversight because I know you're a great admirer of his music): my co-conspirator in that project, the great Jeff Davis.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 12:09 PM

Brian Peters wrote:-
Aunt Maria Tomes (or Tombs) of Nellysford, Va
That reminds me that about 7 or 8 years ago that I booked a two-man multi-media show for Lewes Folk Festival called Sharp's Appalachian Harvest as the main song presentation on the Saturday night. I was a bit worried that it may be a bit academic for as a stand-along main concert. I need not have worried; it was a sell-out. There was a reference to Aunt Maria in that show and the tune of hers from the show also turned upon the album of the show. Here is the booklet note on that song:-
Tune sung by Aunt Maria Tomes, Nellysford, VA, May 22, 1918
Sharp has been castigated for his failure to collect material from African-American singers. A fieldworker searching so specifically for material of British origin might be forgiven for ignoring them, but it seems never to have occurred to Sharp that this group might have folk songs and music of their own, and one particular comment in the diary grates on modern ears. He collected only two songs from black people but, as usual, he found it easy to strike up a cordial relationship when he met Aunt Maria Tomes, delighting the eighty-five-year-old freed slave (and suppressing his atheist beliefs) by singing her The Sinner Man. Although Sharp remarked that Aunt Maria sang "very beautifully in a wonderfully musical way and with clear and perfect intonation," he took down just one verse of her Barbara Allen - maybe the unusual tune was of greater interest, or maybe the singer knew no more. I collated verses from some of the other sixteen versions in the collection of this, the most popular of all British traditional ballads.

These notes were writteb by the man who sang it on the album and in the show; a man called Brian Peters.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 12:04 PM

A couple of snippets from Gerould, who is proving interesting. Lucy Broadwood noted similarities between a tune collected in Cumberland (much of which is now called Cumbria) and a Westphalian version, and put it down to Germans being involved in Lake District mining. These same Germans arose in a Time Team (British archaeology programme, now sadly defunct) on that mining activity. Song in question: The Maid Freed from the Gallows. This snippet is the sort of 'gem' that fascinates me.


"Nobody has been able," he says, "to work out Child's rationale for his song selection." I've read that before.

"... a surprisingly large number of those not included by Child are quite as interesting and valuable as very many which he put into his volumes." Now that's a comment for Clinton Heylin to be reading (see above, his review of Roud).


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 11:46 AM

Thanks Brian
Somewhat odd for the Appalachians - I'm grateful fro the information
I am fully aware that Sharp was a Fabian Socialist, by the way
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 11:35 AM

I think I am right in saying he didn't collect from black informants in the Appalachians, but I confess I've never checked

Just two individuals, Jim, most notably Aunt Maria Tomes (or Tombs) of Nellysford, Va who, Sharp recorded, "sang very beautifully in a wonderfully musical way and with clear and perfect intonation".


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 11:12 AM

"The problem is that some here would seem to want to worship their contribution like a religion, "
No one I know Steve
I have reservations on their work and sometimes opinions - I would have ben happier if Child had actually heard the ballads he wrote about sung
What is being done now by the New Agers is replacing their work bu undermining it
I find that distasteful and destructive
I would have the same reservations about some of the desk-jockeys as I have about Child - but at least the old lot appeared to respect the folk as creators
All good research is carried out on the basis of what has gone before, rather than replacing it like a fashion item gone out of date.
I think I have said before that I found the greatest flaw in Roud's book was it's virtual total lack of songs - our song tradition has become as paper-bound as you have us believe their creation was
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 10:56 AM

Tzu>>>>>did not Child did find what he thought was the 'same' ballad in the tradition of both countries?<<<<<

Of course, they certainly had motifs in common and often had the same plot and not just between 2 countries, some are pan-European, But translation from one language to another suggests (to me at least) a level of sophistication (dare I say it, by literate people!). IMO, IMO, IMO...…


Tzu, No-one here to the best of my knowledge has criticised the bulk of the contribution of the likes of Child, Sharp, Gerould, Lloyd et al. The problem is that some here would seem to want to worship their contribution like a religion, which IMO is ridiculous. We now have access to unprecedented knowledge and for those people to have got everything right, well they really would have been deities.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 10:28 AM

"Where is this quote from, Jim? I haven't come across it in my research"
I honestly can't remember Brian - it was a well circulated story back in the day; I suspect I first heard it from Bert but he certainly wasn't the only one to relate the story
I think I am right in saying he didn't collect from black informants in the Appalachians, but I confess I've never checked
I'm not sure of this but I don't think 'Nigger' wasn't the term of abuse it is now

Pseu
Regarding forieign influences into our cultures, Wimberley's 'Folklore in the English and Scottish Ballads' makes an interesting read.
Literature certainly played a part in 'foreign' influences, but looking at our copy of Priors translation of Danish Ballads, I can't spot a singable version in any of the three volumes
They are every bit as bad as the broadsides, which suggests tampering and invention by the translator rather than the real stuff
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 09:57 AM

Sharp talked about banjos as "nigger machines" and ignored them

Where is this quote from, Jim? I haven't come across it in my research. Sharp did occasionally use the 'N-word' in his writings, but more commonly used 'negro' and, described the two African-American singers he met as 'coloured' (which was at one time considered the politer term to use). Bear in mind also that the white mountain people he was working with routinely used the offensive term in 1916. Although Sharp certainly shared some of the racial ideas about white (and specifically English) superiority Pseudonymous was describing, he made some complimentary remarks about the few black people he actually met.

Although he was far more interested in unaccompanied ballads than banjo music, he did say after hearing a banjo / fiddle duet:

"The thing was very skilfully played, plumb in tune, and its constant repetition had a very hypnotic effect on me and apparently on the players ... the tunes look little enough when committed to paper, but the way they were played produced a very curious and not un-beautiful effect."


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 09:39 AM

Jim
The Water Babies: same experience here. Most of your points seem sensible to me. I'm not qualified to comment on the 'literature' origin of foreign influences, though I feel it must have been among the methods.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 09:37 AM

'Goo goo eyes' and May Irwin's bully song'
I assume you've heard the recording of the Kipsigi women singing a paeon of praise to the god-like "ooh Jimmy Roger, Mr Jimmy Roger"
Unforgettable - it's on Lloyd's Songs of the People' series
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 09:32 AM

You may well be right Jack - there was a nationalistic (rather than racial) approach to traditional singing in Britain as well - have Harker made his name by grossly overstated it
Idon't think that detracts in any way from the contribution these people made - as I said, they were very much of their time
You might well extend your hostility to the suggestion that Steve's suggestion that 'foreign material' was introduced into the English tradition bia literature rather than life experience
For me, is shows a disturbing lack of understanding of folk traditions
I like Gerould for what he had to say on ballads (basically on the basis of one book and article - beyond that, he remains a stranger)
What he says makes sense
If his implied racism influenced his opinions on ballads you might have a point - I can't see that it does.

I can think of many analogies of when I apply this approach - one very simple one springs to mind
One of the first book s I ever read and enjoyed was the Rev. Charles Kingsley's 'The Water Babies' among other books it inspired me to become a life-long 'chain' reader
Over the last few years I have discovered that KIngsley was a raving racist who detested the Famine-fleeing Irish and described them as 'white savages, no different than their counterparts in the Congo' - two doses of racism in one spoonful.
As much as I detest the man for that, I can't see that it detracts from his classic children's book and the reforms that it brought about in the conditions of Victorian Chimney Sweepers' slaves.
   
I'll take from these people the good things they have to offer nad reject the bad - as I ma prepared to do with Gerould and Sharp
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 09:22 AM

Ironically, in view of all that has been said here about 'pop', and the baleful influence of broadsheets on 'folk', Peabody, one of the earliest people to gather material from African Americans, as reported in the same Journal of American Folklore, moaned about the fact that they were singing popular ballads such as 'Goo goo eyes' and May Irwin's bully song. That wasn't what he wanted to 'collect'. But at least he did report it, albeit couched in commentary that is at times wince-making and drawing on adverse stereotypes.


But I'm not going down this potentially fascinating thread drift avenue any further. Sorry if I started it; did want to make the point about Gerould before reading more of him, which I shall.


It's raining! Bliss.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 08:38 AM

Pseudonymous gives interesting quotations from 'the first ever issue of the Journal of American Folklore" and the one comment that struck me hardest was:-
The second division of folk-lore indicated is that belonging to the American negroes. It is but within a few years that attention has been called to the existence among these of a great number of tales relating to animals, which have been preserved in an interesting collection.

I would really like to be able to ask the person who who wrote this if there is any aspect of human artistic expression where humans do not interact constantly with other creatures; they are a constant source of wonder and companionship for us as well as being a major source of our nutrition.

I had news on Friday of the death of a close friend, Suntou Kouyaté, the great Gambian jali who played, made and taught the balafon. I find that I have been knocked sidewards by this news and am thinking about him and many other jali friends in and around Brikama in the Gambia.
I have been deeply immersed in jaliya culture for over twenty years now and have made many recordings of it (which I must get properly catalogued soon) At the root of most jaliya stories are animals that communicate with humans and are either of great assistance or hindrance to them. I find that the different song-stories seem to have fashions of popularity than are replace by others but then re-emerge after some years. Three of the most popular on my last visit in November were:-
Mali Sajo This tells a beautiful story about the love a hippopotamus felt for a young girl. Later it was killed by European hunters.
Simbo A hunter is wondering about his dog's devotion to him and compares this to his own devotion to a superior being, usually but not always Allah.
Kado During a war between the Fulas and the Mandings the monkeys act as spies for both sides.
I have always been sceptical of those who claim to see very close connection between African and Afro-American culture with statements such as "The Blues comes from Africa" and "The banjo developed from the West African n'goni." and I always tread very carefully when comparing West African animal tales with slave tales from the American south.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 08:27 AM

I don't think Gerould dismissed them, rather, he maybe suggested that they didn't/couldn't write them down

This is what you quoted Gerould as saying:

the art of the unlettered portions of European peoples is in another case from that of Bantu tribesmen. They have always formed parts of nations in which artists more or less nourished on conscious aesthetic tradition have at the same time been working.

Which means he knew nothing whatever about the social background of African artforms, which in much of the continent were every bit as locked into monarchical and aristocratic dynastic hierarchies as anything the British gentry and royal court paid for. This was stark staring obvious to many of Gerould's contemporaries, like the European artists inspired by the sculpture of West Africa who knew damn well that they were looking at work dedicated to kings. Gerould had absolutely zero excuse for being that stupid - and perhaps he wasn't: by 1932 African-derived music had become an inescapable part of American culture, and if a scholar didn't want to know where it came from, racist hostility was the only explanation for that indifference.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 08:01 AM

Jim

"If I'd been there I'd have been on it ...'

I know that!

Tzu


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 07:49 AM

Geroulds field of knowledge was the ballads
Sharp talked about banjos as "nigger machines" and ignored them, yet we owe him big time for introducing us to our own traditional songs
THese people were very much of their time - I'll live with their ignorance and limitations
'Primitive' was a term favoured by the experts, even the most sympathetic ones - including Margaret Mead
I don't think Gerould dismissed them, rather, he maybe suggested that they didn't/couldn't write them down
Must re-read it myself
The oft dismissed and debunked Bert Lloyd probably did more than most in Britain to make us aware of International music - his 13 programme 'Songs of the People' is still one of my favourite listens

This has become more and more disturbing as it progresses
First we had the 'folk' being disenfranchised as makers of their songs and that creditrole being put in the hands of a commercial industry of poor poets
Now we appear to have the systematic book-burning of our best scholars

First we had Child who couldn't tell is literal poetry arse from his folk elbow.
Now we have the systematic dismantling of a century plus worth of scholarship in order to replace it with the work of - well, basically, paper shufflers.
I didn't notice Steve's comments on 'foreign ballads' otherwise I would have lain awake for a long time last night

Child bases a large part of his groundbreaking collection discussing the 'foreign' input into our native ballads - he discusses their implications extensively in his private correspondence
Now we have to add this to the folk song tradition he apparently knew SFA about
You can add Lowery C Wimberly's work of 'The Folklore of the English and Scottish Ballads' based to a great degree on international motifs

Another of my interests is folk tales - we have several hundred of collections of them on our shelves and we've collected around 100 of them
They are full of international folklore motifs
One tale we recorded from a Traveller 'Go For The Water', is a stort vrsion of the Scots/English song, 'Get Up and Bar the Door' and is to be found throughout the world - its earliest varients go back to Ancient Egypt and India

Our folk culture is riddled with 'foreign influences' - they never came from literary sources - not in a million years
Britan has always imported foreign influences - via its colonies, via its trade, its conquests - even the African slaves once owned here left their fingerprints all over our history
Go look at the Stith Thomson Reidar Cristiansen, Archer Taylor, Ordnuf Hodne, Sean O'Sullivan indexes for that fact (didn't have to get up out of my seat for that list - they are within arms reach and in constant use)

You want to see a possible source for our Scandinavian influences, visit Jarlshof in Shetland or any of the hundreds of sites on Orkney, where the language still bears its imprint
In England you can go to York - in Ireland we have Waterford or Dublin
The Scots culture was strongly influenced by Italy - for a material peep at history - look at that beautiful Italianate once seen never to be forgotten faccade insoide the courtyard of Caerlaverock Castle.
Literary influences my arse

Making sense of our song traditions has to be down to taking what has been done already have and adding to it - not replacing it as you would a holey pair of socks

I'm afraid the new trend is very much reminiscent of Jimmy Cagneyish "Top of the world ma" stuff

Pseu - you need to read everything you can lay your hands on - none of it has all the answers, but very little of it has nothing to offer

If you would like an excellent overview, I highly recommend D K Wilgus's 'Anglo-American Folksong Scholarship Since 1898' - a wonderful and highly readable stroll through the subject without the academic competitiveness

I don't know where your anti-racist protest was on Friday - I hope it went well
If I'd been there I'd have been on it - nice to know we're on the same wavelength of that one at least
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 06:41 AM

Jack: you put it so much more succinctly than I did! But still, I am going to read on to see what else is in it.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 06:31 AM

Steve

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

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

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

Jim

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 06:12 AM

Gerould's pig-ignorant dismissal of the entire culture of the African continent in the second of those quoted paragraphs doesn't encourage me to give his subsequent hatefest directed at broadside writers much credence.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 05:32 AM

Probably Dick - thank you
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 04:20 AM

Jim do you mean IMO


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Jul 18 - 03:51 AM

"Any similarity between foreign ballads and those in English is down to translation by quite literate people"
If you read Gerould you'll find that this most certainly is not the case (unless you are prepared to dismiss his scholarship out of hand, that seems to be very fashionable anong the 'New Agers'
Have you any firm evidence for this?
If you haven't you forgot to put in the (now very necessary) IOM
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Jul 18 - 07:32 PM

"Gerould was writing in 1957. A lot has changed since then. "
Actually Gerould was writing in 1932, and no information has been forthcoming since then to impact on what he said
Why is it necessary to destroy the work of others to make room for your own theories Steve - that is cultural vandalism ?
I'm delighted that Grould's bame came up - he had much to to say that contradicts the introduction of the 'Singing Horse' theory
I apologise for the length of this but I found it difficult not to include the two chapters - there really is much more common sense in his wonderful book
If the is wrong, you need to show is where instead of alluding to it.
Jim

From The Ballad of Tradition Gordon Hall Gerould, Oxford at teh Clarendon Press 1932

The Nature if Ballads (pp 12-14)
Ballads are very far from being primitive poetry, indeed; they are rather the flower of an art formalized and developed among people whose training has been oral instead of visual. Unlettered the makers have been, simple of mind and heart, but not without moulding traditions perpetuated through many centuries and not without some contact with their superiors in the social and educational scale. Primitive music and primitive poetry could not come from them any more than it can come from the composers and poets who practise a more sophisticated and conscious artistry. They have had an art of their own, a double art of melody and verse, distinct from that of their betters but by no means unworthy, oddly enough, to stand beside it. Indeed, to trace the connexion between the two in the same lands and periods is of more importance to an understanding of the formal qualities of ballad music and ballad stories than to search for analogies among backward races.

Art of a sort there is, even among peoples who are backward in development. Research during the past generation has shown quite clearly that the history of art is exceedingly long and its ramifications co-extensive with man; but the art of the unlettered portions of European peoples is in another case from that of Bantu tribesmen. They have always formed parts of nations in which artists more or less nourished on conscious aesthetic tradition have at the same time been working. This state of things undoubtedly makes the study of ballads, to mention only the instance with which we are immediately concerned, much more difficult than it would be if ballads were phenomena with a less complicated environment. Yet it cannot be too strongly urged that we should keep the true state of things in mind and use with discretion analogies from the verse and music of primitive races.

There is no real antithesis between folk-music and folk-poetry on the one hand, and the poetry and music of art on the other, though it has been so often stated that we are in danger of accepting it unthinkingly. A contrast exists, it is true. The phrase is useful by way of indicating differences in attitude on the part of makers and wide differences in conditions of production; but it is misleading, because it suggests that folk-song is not art. Folk-song has developed orally, without conscious¬ness of the aesthetic principles according to which it is moulded; but the principles are there. Folk-song has seemingly developed also without the kind of individual¬istic effort that goes to the production and reproduction of poetry and music among the lettered classes. The literate artist cannot wholly escape, no matter how hard he may try, from the effects of critical theory; and the history of literature and music proves, we should prob¬ably all agree, that in such bondage he has thriven. The Martha of criticism has been a most useful sister to the Mary of creation. The processes of folk-song have been different. Forces of which the makers have been almost unconscious have often shaped it to beauty, taste acquired through the long-continued practice of a traditional art has directed imagination; but there has been no effort at intellectual control, which is probably why the art of the folk, with all its vitality and vigour, has been a some-what ragged thing, amazingly lovely sometimes, almost always interesting, but curiously uneven in execution.

Into the processes of folk-song as they have operated in the particular domain of the ballad we propose to inquire in the present volume, and specifically as to ballads the words of which are English. There can be no harm in thus limiting our field of study if only we keep in mind that this oral, traditional art has been con¬fined to no one people. Certain features of English and Scottish ballads are peculiar to themselves, but the art of which they are representative has been widespread throughout Europe at least. Having defined the nature of balladry, let us try, in the next place, to see our English and Scottish specimens in their international relations.

Ballads and Broadsides (pp 242 and 243)
Thus in a third way broadsides had a marked influence on balladry. Too little has been made of this, I believe, by students of the traditional ballad, though the effect on individual specimens has been admirably investi-gated.1

Since variants that derive ultimately from printed texts are found in the most isolated parts of the United States and Canada, it is clear that broadsides affected an exceedingly widespread area; and since the oral tradi¬tion of some of the texts so derived is in itself a long one, it is evident that the influence began a great while ago. There can be no doubt whatever that a pure tradition of oral descent became an impossibility as soon as the purveyors of broadsides had established their trade in the sixteenth century. Contamination, if one choose to regard it as such, became possible in the case of any ballad whatsoever. Since the printing of traditional ballads was sporadic rather than general, the majority of them have never been subject to this artificial interruption of their proper course; but so many have been affected as to cast suspicion on any specimen that is being studied. The possibility of contamination should always be kept in mind.

As we have noted earlier, the tenacity of popular memory is as extraordinary as its fallibility. Variation appears to be incessant, yet sometimes a text survives almost unaltered the chances of oral repetition for a century and more. The evidence for this rests chiefly upon versions of songs that have in one way or another got into print.3
1 See, for example, the illuminating notes of Mr. Barry in British Ballads from Maine.
2 See the history of Lord Lovel (75) or Barbara Allan (84). Menéndez Pidal has shown traditional versions
may sometimes remain unaffected by printed ones. (See ante, p. 170.)

Ballads and Broadsides (pp 14-144)        
It seems to me clear that the effect of circulating them has been to retard variation quite markedly, as if verses one learned directly or indirectly from broad¬sides and the like made a deeper impression on memory than those learned wholly by ear. One can only won¬der whether there has been a feeling for the sanctity of the written word, or whether in some obscure way minds have registered differently verses fixed in print. At all events, it appears that the normal fluidity of alter¬ation has been disturbed whenever publication has taken place.

Apart from the effect on individual ballads of the traditional sort, the circulation of broadsides inevitably produced changes in the art of folk-song as a whole. The rapid adoption of a great number of pieces both lyrical and narrative, some set to old tunes and some to new, and for the most part completely devoid of beauty in form and substance, could not have failed to lower the standards of taste that had been developed. The wonder is that the power of musical and poetical expression among common folk was not altogether destroyed by this, the first assault of many in modern times on the integrity of the traditional art. That it was weakened, there can be no doubt, I believe. There are numerous good ballads from the north that cannot have originated before the seventeenth century, but almost none traceable to districts nearer London. One thinks of The Fire of Frendraught {196), The Bonnie House O’ Airlie (199), The Gypsy Laddie (200), and The Baron of Brackley (203), to name only a few. In a very thoughtful book, published posthumously in 1913, Bryant called attention to this state of things,1 though he under-estimated the extent to which older ballads survived in the south. It is not a question of a finer development in Scotland than in England, but of an earlier decay in regions nearer London as a result of the infiltration of songs from Grub Street. What appears to have occurred was a serious, though not mortal, injury to the traditional art, affecting verse much more profoundly than music and operating less disastrously in regions that were rela¬tively free from the influence of printed texts.

There could be no better evidence of the vitality of folk-song than the fact that it survived the cheapening and deadening effect of broadsides, which for more than two centuries were hawked about the countryside. We have to remember, in this connexion, how very few speci¬mens of traditional ballads are extant that antedate this period. Our studies must largely be confined to speci¬mens as they have been remembered and sung in this later time, and our judgements are formed upon material so gathered. The verse and music that have furnished inspiration and technical guidance to our modern poets and composers were collected, for the most part, after the ballad-monger had done his worst. We should not minimize the evil that he accomplished—certainly not ignore it, as many students of ballads have done. We should not forget that a collection like that made by Child necessarily includes a great number of pieces either originated by hirelings of the printers or deeply marked by the influence of their work. At the same time, having taken these factors into account, we are justified in saying that folk-song was neither destroyed nor irretrievably harmed by the flood of new ballads that poured over the country during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. One may fairly put it that the art suffered from a severe case of indigestion, that the glut of mediocre songs could not be properly absorbed and adapted to the gracious ways of tradition; but further than that one cannot go.

1 A History of English Balladry, p. 192.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Jul 18 - 06:01 PM

Gerould was writing in 1957. A lot has changed since then.

The Viking influence, you are talking pre-conquest, Pseu. Any similarity between foreign ballads and those in English is down to translation by quite literate people. The whole of the north of England was under Viking rule with its capital at Jorvik (York) but that was a thousand years ago. I'm pretty certain at least some of my ancestors were Scandinavian.

I have a copy of Gerould but I haven't time to reread it just now. Plenty of artefacts and names have come down to us but you're asking a lot for any literature to have come down after a thousand years.

As late as the 19th century Danish fishermen landed their catches in Hull and it was said that local farmers could hold a conversation with them due to the local dialect of the East Riding containing lots of Danish words which had survived. But to the best of my knowledge no ballads changed hands.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 15 Jul 18 - 05:21 PM

oh oh

Girould gets racist pretty quickly, distinguishing the people who made 'ballads' from primitive 'races' not capable of doing it. :(

This thread was built into a lot of American 'folklorism' from the outset.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 15 Jul 18 - 05:10 PM

Hello Steve

I found an article by Atkinson, a study guide on the Child ballad, which says that a book by Girould is still a classic on ballad genre, including origins, so I found this on the internet archive site, where you can download the pdf. So I did.

https://archive.org/details/balladoftraditio007247mbp

Interesting to see what he comes up with.


'Scandinavia': Child I know used the work of a Danish ethnographer as a model. As non-historian I think: Danish, Danelaw, Vikings. The influence of the Vikings was massive: they founded a number of Irish towns, held a massive part of England, much of Scotland. It's a real surprise how much of Scotland was held by Vikings (well it surprised me!). Skye! The Isle of Man! So maybe no surprise if there are common stories/myths. I don't know.


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