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New Book: Folk Song in England

Vic Smith 05 Sep 17 - 12:07 PM
r.padgett 06 Sep 17 - 10:30 AM
Steve Gardham 06 Sep 17 - 03:56 PM
The Sandman 06 Sep 17 - 05:36 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Sep 17 - 06:14 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Sep 17 - 03:54 AM
nickp 07 Sep 17 - 04:09 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 07 Sep 17 - 05:55 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Sep 17 - 06:50 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Sep 17 - 06:52 AM
Vic Smith 07 Sep 17 - 09:02 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 07 Sep 17 - 09:18 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Sep 17 - 11:46 AM
Vic Smith 07 Sep 17 - 01:00 PM
GUEST,henryp 07 Sep 17 - 01:16 PM
The Sandman 07 Sep 17 - 02:01 PM
GUEST,henryp 07 Sep 17 - 02:12 PM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 25 Sep 17 - 12:26 PM
Joe Offer 25 Sep 17 - 07:10 PM
Jack Campin 25 Sep 17 - 07:21 PM
BobL 26 Sep 17 - 03:42 AM
GUEST,matt milton 28 Sep 17 - 09:41 AM
GUEST 28 Sep 17 - 10:15 AM
GUEST,cookieless Billy Weeks 28 Sep 17 - 11:17 AM
Vic Smith 28 Sep 17 - 11:54 AM
Brian Peters 28 Sep 17 - 01:28 PM
Richard Mellish 28 Sep 17 - 07:21 PM
GUEST,Mike Yates 29 Sep 17 - 03:54 AM
Brian Peters 29 Sep 17 - 08:25 AM
GUEST,matt milton 29 Sep 17 - 08:51 AM
Lighter 29 Sep 17 - 10:09 AM
Steve Gardham 29 Sep 17 - 03:00 PM
Richard Mellish 29 Sep 17 - 04:15 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Sep 17 - 06:20 PM
r.padgett 30 Sep 17 - 04:12 AM
Richard Mellish 30 Sep 17 - 05:13 AM
Brian Peters 30 Sep 17 - 06:21 AM
GUEST,matt milton 30 Sep 17 - 10:01 AM
Brian Peters 30 Sep 17 - 10:48 AM
Vic Smith 30 Sep 17 - 12:21 PM
Steve Gardham 30 Sep 17 - 01:05 PM
Jim Carroll 30 Sep 17 - 02:51 PM
Jim Carroll 30 Sep 17 - 03:06 PM
r.padgett 30 Sep 17 - 03:09 PM
Steve Gardham 30 Sep 17 - 03:12 PM
Jim Carroll 30 Sep 17 - 03:38 PM
Jim Carroll 30 Sep 17 - 03:39 PM
Steve Gardham 30 Sep 17 - 03:45 PM
Steve Gardham 30 Sep 17 - 03:59 PM
Jim Carroll 01 Oct 17 - 04:39 AM
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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 05 Sep 17 - 12:07 PM

I have just seen a reference to the first review of this book that I am aware of and it is printed in, of all places, The Economist! It is a factual account and a precis of the contents rather than any statement about the value of the book or a comparison with anything that has been published in the past.
I thought the first paragraph of the review was arresting -
ENGLAND, the Germans used to jeer, was "the land without music". They were wrong, as Steve Roud robustly demonstrates in "Folk Song in England". Surveying English musical life from the time of Henry VIII—a keen musician and composer—to the mid-20th century, when folk song lost its roots, he shows what an intensely musical land England has been.


You can read the review on-line at by clicking here.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: r.padgett
Date: 06 Sep 17 - 10:30 AM

Yes quite a heavy book all ways round and will take a while to read through ~ unless you use more as a reference book using index of course!

50 years since Bert's book the original Folk song in England and therefore has different perspective and angle ~ lot happened in the intervening years of course

Ray


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Sep 17 - 03:56 PM

As you say, Vic, a fair precis, but no critique. Part of the problem we face is there are not many people about who are truly qualified to criticise what it has to say.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Sep 17 - 05:36 PM

"Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 04:18 AM

"This is not Bert bashing time."
Then why do it Steve - whatever Bert's motives for working the way he did, I'm sure he didn't set out to write "fairy tales"
Well said, Jim.
    I wont waste my time reading this book.
I prefer to spend my time playing, singing and most importantly listening to all kinds of music, but particularly tradtional singers and musicians.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Sep 17 - 06:14 PM

No problem, Dick. Some of us have time to do all of this. Variety.....and all that.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 03:54 AM

"I was questioned about whether Bob was entitled to make and sell these and I didn't (and still don't) have the answer."
Bob had the copies all of us involved with Ewan and Charles were given way, way back - neither had any objection to their being circulated - they were delighted it was being circulated and, as far as we could make out, the BBC had totally lost interest in them (the programmes didn't even appear to have appealed the entrepreneurial efforts of Peter Kennedy), so we all passed copies on to whoever could use them
Our singers workshop ran ten meetings playing and discussing them - unlike Vic, we did so to examine Ewan's ideas to see if they held water - we could get most of the examples on LPs.
For me personally, it was like lifting the corner of folk -song to see if there was anything underneath - they were basically the reason I am still involved in folk song as actively as I am after half a century and many of the ideas propounded by MacColl stood up well when we started working with traditional singers, particularly with the Travellers who, back then, had a living tradition which was still producing songs that were becoming traditional (until the advent of portable television destroyed it, virtually overnight)
This was also true of the twenty years work we did with Walter Pardon who, in his way, could be described as a researching traditional singer rather than a source for songs (there were a few of those about once)
When they were "sold" it was for less than the cost it took to produce them - a great deal of time and thought went into their production and the work was for free - it was purely a labour of love on the part of the people who passed them on.
I have no idea what happened to the original programmes, nor any of the other wonderful productions by Bert and Deben Battacharia and Charles Parker and John Levy.... and all those other dedicated people - if the films of Phillip Donnellan are anything to go by, they were probably junked (did anybody here 'Folk Music Virtuoso', or 'Voice of the People' - life-changers all, in their way?)
The BBC project of the 1950s heralded a renaissance for British and Irish folk song - the BBC and other attitudes made it a missed bus - 'the one that got away' as far as establishing folk song as a peoples' art form - Ewan, Bert and others tried their best but the Music Industries steamroller did damage during the boom which, I believe, we never really recovered from
Nowadays we can't even discuss what we mean by folk music without shouting at one another - a no-go area strewn with regularly exploding mines.
I know MacColl spent a decade with less experienced singers, examine the songs and singing - I was lucky enough to be a recipient of his generosity for a short time
Mention his name (nearly three decades after his death) and you are treated as if you'd farted in church.
As for the exercises and techniques he devised for singers, and the methods he used for making songs your own.... forget it!
Mind you - we do have the BBC Folk Awards!!!
Sorry folks - a sore point
Back to indexing our collection in the hope that some future generation might be interested in what Walter Pardon and Mary Delaney and Mikeen McCarthy, and Tom Lenihan and Ewan and all the others we interviewed had to say about folk song
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: nickp
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 04:09 AM

My copy started at page 21 so has had to go back for replacement! I shall have to wait a little longer.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 05:55 AM

I've only just seen this thread - ordering this book now. Thanks so much to Brian for starting it, and to Jim Carroll for the heads-up about The Book Depository. Please note:

Free delivery WORLDWIDE:

https://www.bookdepository.com/Folk-Song-in-England-Steve-Roud/9780571309719?ref


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 06:50 AM

"Free delivery WORLDWIDE:"
And pretty good discount, considering the publication date
We have managed to get a few rarities from the BD, including the long-sought-after 'Peter Buchan Paprs by William Walker, and Stephen Wade's 'The Beautiful Music All Around Us' - all discounted and post free
It's well worth trying your wants list on their site (even managed to get most of the unread Nigel Tranter at good prices)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 06:52 AM

Not forgetting David Gregory's work of Victorian collectors and broadsides
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 09:02 AM

I wrote
"I was questioned about whether Bob was entitled to make and sell these and I didn't (and still don't) have the answer."
Jim replied
Bob had the copies all of us involved with Ewan and Charles were given way, way back - neither had any objection to their being circulated - they were delighted it was being circulated and, as far as we could make out, the BBC had totally lost interest in them (the programmes didn't even appear to have appealed the entrepreneurial efforts of Peter Kennedy), so we all passed copies on to whoever could use them.

*********************
So I still don't have the answer. The key word in my sentence was entitled. The fact that those involved in the production "neither had any objection to their being circulated" doesn't come into it. I have hundreds of hours of recordings of of the weekly programme that I introduced for the BBC for 27 years. That does not mean that I have the right to duplicate from from reel-to-reel tape to CDr and sell them. The question that I intended is "Where does the copyright for BBC programme lie and for that matter, how long does it last?"
I ought to give my reasons for seeking an answer to this; when Jim states that "unlike Vic, we did so to examine Ewan's ideas to see if they held water." it makes me assume (though I maybe wrong) that he thinks I am attacking the central core of his beliefs which we read so often on Mudcat. I am not. The reason that I am asking this, Jim, is because at the moment I am amassing a huge number of recordings for Sussex Traditions and much of the material is recorded off air. At the management committee meetings, we devised a "permission form" and I simply can't get a satisfactory consistent answer about the right for us to put this in our rapidly growing archive (at present over 5,400 items) I could equally have asked, for example, the question about the programmes that Peter Kennedy recorded off-air and then released as FolkTrax cassettes and CDrs. It was the thread drift to the mention of The Song Carriers that brought it to my mind.
********************
Oh! and Steve Gardham writes
As you say, Vic, a fair precis, but no critique. Part of the problem we face is there are not many people about who are truly qualified to criticise what it has to say.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 09:18 AM

Sure wish the MGM Lion was still roaring around. I'd be interested to know Michael's views.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 11:46 AM

"that he thinks I am attacking the central core of his beliefs"
I don't Vic - I just made my own position clear
I raised the point when you mentioned "selling" to dispel any idea that anybody was profiting from circulating the programmes.
We did/still do so because we feel they are worth it
They were programmes that could be improved, given hindsight, but since nobody has ever really tried, it's academic.
I have little doubt that legally they still belong to the Beeb (if they still exist) - and that goes for anything they ever produced
Morally is a different matter
The singers were paid pittances, if at all, and the minute the material was collected the sharks began to circle - copyright claims, marketed recordings paid for by the licence fee, "arrangements".... and above all, disinterest has led to the most important collection of recorded British traditional song being neglected and made virtually inaccessible until it was too late to assist in helping elevate folk music to the position it deserves.
When the Critics Group broke up a few of us continued to meet (in an already established workshop set up for raw beginners)
We threw in any material we had, including Ewan and Peggy's generously shared collection of field recordings
This also included recordings of some of the albums some of us had
This gradually formed itself into an archive of several thousand tapes
That archive has now been digitised, listed and partly annotated and is up for grabs for any club or organisation that is prepared to treat it with respect and not lock it up in a cupboard somewhere
It also includes our own field recordings - with the same stipulation
So far, it's been an uphill struggle to find a home for it other than academic institutions which will lock it up fro posterity - not what we want.
I have always though EFDSS might be a natural home, but looking at their present output - maybe not!
Our collection (as it was then), was the first to expand the interests of the then British Institute of Recorded Sound (later National Sound Archive and later still The National Sound Archive at the British Library) from an almost solely musicological group to one encompassing British Traditional music - back in the early eighties
Thirty years later Walter Pardon and his companions still stare through the bars of the prison he was locked in, inaccessible to the world at large all those years ago - somewhat disolusioning
Never mind - Ireland might make better use of it while we're still above ground - the signs are promising!
It's always seemed to me that, despite the decline, there are enough people around taking the music seriously enough to get together and make a a serious attempt to put 'The Voice of the People' back on the map without faffing around over whether Elvis was a folk singer because somebody once sang 'Red Suede Shoes'
Our music needs taking seriously if it is to survive, and nobody will do that unless we take it seriously ourselves
Bonny
I sorely miss Mike too, but he really wasn't the last word in folk-song - nobody was or is
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 01:00 PM

Jim wrote -
I have little doubt that legally they still belong to the Beeb.
.... and this would be my understanding as well. Can anyone give an indication of the length a broadcast's copyright? At the moment Sussex Traditions are following the line suggested by Steve Roud, another management committee member, of an "aggressive take-down policy" for anything on the database that anyone expresses concern about whether it be copyright ownership or anything else. There are also concerns that some material collected in Sussex is "of its time" and would be far from acceptable in these more politically correct times; one of our target audiences is local teachers preparing local studies topics.

Something else that Jim wrote allows me to bring the thread back to its title. He expresses concern about the EFDSS and his field recordings. That organisation's quarterly magazine, the autumn edition of English Dance & Song, dropped through my letterbox this morning. I did a quick scan-read of the 48 pages which suggests that this may be the best edition since the new editor took over. However, there is not one mention of this book Folk Song in England in this edition.
Brian Peters' first sentence (on 19 Aug 17) in this thread reads:-
On Thursday I attended the British Library launch for the new book 'Folk Song in England', by Steve Roud and Julia Bishop,
That there is no coverage in ED&S of this centrally important event or the book, I find very surprising.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 01:16 PM

Library Lectures Go To Manchester

These popular lectures are now venturing beyond the walls of Cecil Sharp House for the first time, taking place this autumn at the magnificent Chetham's Library in Manchester.

Street Literature and the Folk by Steve Roud
Thursday 28 September, 7–8.30pm

Folk song is often defined as being an aural tradition, with the words and tunes undergoing variation and evolution over time and place. However broadsides, chapbooks, and other ephemeral material with the printed lyrics of many folk songs were incredibly popular between the 16th and 20th centuries at all levels of society. This talk is an introduction to that material – the types, the sellers, the songs, and the singers.

Steve Roud is creator of the Roud Folk Song and Broadside Index, and has written and edited numerous books, including The New Penguin Book of English Folksongs, and the newly released, Folk Song In England.

Barbara Allen: Broadside Ballad, Theatre Song, Traditional Song by Vic Gammon
Friday 27 October, 7–8.30pm

Drink, Song and Politics in Early Modern England by Angela McShane
Thursday 30 November, 7–8.30pm


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 02:01 PM

Mike had style, to be insulted by him was almost a pleasure, generally, because of his wonderful choice and careful selection of words, I miss him too


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 07 Sep 17 - 02:12 PM

An Introduction to Folk Song in England
Sunday 19 November, 10:30am - 4:30pm
Cecil Sharp House, London

Internationally published folklorist Steve Roud presents with Laura Smyth, EFDSS' Library and Archive Director, this popular introductory level day exploring the history of English folk song.

Topics will include: the many possible definitions of 'folk', the songs themselves, the singers, the places and times for singing, the music, cheap printed broadsides and other sources from which people learned songs, the folksong collectors, the scholars and the beginnings of the post-War revival. The course is aimed at beginners and will not presume any previous experience or knowledge.

Promoted by EFDSS.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 25 Sep 17 - 12:26 PM

Like Elmore, earlier, I dithered between the Kindle and the not-so-hardback versions. Finally plumped for the Kindle and have not regretted it yet! Excellent, lucid writing and eminently readable. The portability of the Kindle version is a real incentive to dip in and out as the opportunity arises.

Regards


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Sep 17 - 07:10 PM

My copy of Folk Song in England arrived last week. Gee, it sure is a BIG book - 764 pages! The binding quality leaves something to be desired, but the contents look like they'll be very interesting. The price is now $23.73 at Amazon.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Sep 17 - 07:21 PM

You can also get it in electronic form from Rakuten Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/folk-song-in-england

They aren't such arseholes as Amazon and I think their books are supplied in formats (ePub or PDF) that they can't get back from you.

For such a thick book with such a dodgy binding, and no hard-to-display colour pictures, that has to be the way to go.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: BobL
Date: 26 Sep 17 - 03:42 AM

It occurs to me that Faber may produce a "Library Edition" which isn't advertised through the usual channels, and which won't fall apart in a hurry. If so it will cost a lot more than £25.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 28 Sep 17 - 09:41 AM

I've only got another week until I have to submit a review of the book to a magazine, and I'm only one page 170! I think it's a shame that debates in folk, about folk, and about folk scholarship went the way they did, and were so convoluted, from the Victorian age to the present... because it occurred to me that, normally in a work of non-fiction, you can get through the preliminaries in a 30-page introduction (i.e. in answering questions like: what is folk? who were the collectors? how reliable was their scholarship? etc) In this one, I'm almost 200 pages in and I still feel like I haven't got to the proper start of the book yet!

I don't dispute it's all necessary and it's not Steve Roud's fault that the combined efforts of several previous generations of folksong scholars have left us with so many methodological knots to unpick... but it is a bit exhausting. I think I need to jump ahead, it's slightly feeling like a never-ending introduction thus far.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Sep 17 - 10:15 AM

Tonight! Library Lectures Go To Manchester

These popular lectures are now venturing beyond the walls of Cecil Sharp House for the first time, taking place this autumn at the magnificent Chetham's Library in Manchester.

1/3 Street Literature and the Folk by Steve Roud
Thursday 28 September, 7–8.30pm

Folk song is often defined as being an aural tradition, with the words and tunes undergoing variation and evolution over time and place. However broadsides, chapbooks, and other ephemeral material with the printed lyrics of many folk songs were incredibly popular between the 16th and 20th centuries at all levels of society. This talk is an introduction to that material – the types, the sellers, the songs, and the singers.

Steve Roud is creator of the Roud Folk Song and Broadside Index, and has written and edited numerous books, including The New Penguin Book of English Folksongs, and the newly released, Folk Song In England.

THE BALLAD OF CHETHAM'S LIBRARY: MUSIC AND PRINTING WORKSHOP
FRIDAY 27 OCTOBER 2017, 4.30PM - 6.30PM FREE

Come and listen to ballad singer Jennifer Reid talk about her recent research trip to Bangladesh, where she explored Manchester and Lancashire song traditions, and how they relate to Bangladeshi songs of the same type. Jennifer will also perform a couple of folksongs from the Lancashire area similar to "Barbara Allen", whose long and fascinating history will be described in depth during Vic Gammon's Library Lecture later on in the day.

Again as an introduction to Vic Gammon's talk, participants will be able to get a free letterpress version of "Barbara Allen" as produced by local printer Graham Moss from Incline Press in Oldham. There will be a chance to finish these copies with your own choice of illustrations by the hand of artist Desdemona McMannon and printer Stephen Fowler, who will provide a number of specially commissioned rubberstamps for this workshop.

2/3 Barbara Allen: Broadside Ballad, Theatre Song, Traditional Song by Vic Gammon
Friday 27 October, 7–8.30pm

3/3 Drink, Song and Politics in Early Modern England by Angela McShane
Thursday 30 November, 7–8.30pm


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,cookieless Billy Weeks
Date: 28 Sep 17 - 11:17 AM

Guest Matt: I think I understand your problem reviewing this book - it is a monumental - even daunting - work of scholarship. But the idea that you might have to 'jump ahead' to get the job done is a bit troubling. Such a review may say more about the reviewer than about the book.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 28 Sep 17 - 11:54 AM

I have just this morning finished reading:-
BILLY BRAGG - "Roots, Radicals And Rockers"
Faber & Faber ISBN 978-0-571-32774-4

and now I have the review to write. The sub-title is How Skiffle Changed The World and it is an excellent piece of work in my opinion.

Next I have to read:-
AS I WALKED OUT
Martin Graebe
Signal, Oxford. ISBN 978-1-909930-53-7

That one has the sub-title SABINE-BARING-GOULD AND THE SEARCH FOR THE FOLK SONGS OF DEVON AND CORNWALL and then I have to write a review on that one (Different publication - different approach needed).

Then if nothing else with a publication deadline comes through I will settle down to Steve Roud and Folk Song In England. I am hoping to be able to interview Steve about the book on my radio programme in late October/early November and I may have to conduct that without finishing the book, but Steve does not need much prompting to get him going on radio interviews as I know from experience so I should get away with it.

After that, I should be able to comment on FSIE here - so keep the thread going!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 28 Sep 17 - 01:28 PM

I've only got another week until I have to submit a review of the book to a magazine, and I'm only one page 170!

Been there! I remember eagerly volunteering to review the first Voice of the People CD set and quickly realising that I had to find time to listen carefully to 20 CDs and then compose something comprehensive and coherent. I'm actually quite glad not to be reviewing FSE - it would take me the week you have remaining to write the thing, never mind finish reading it.

I take your point, Matt, about the long introductory section, but it's hard to see how it could have been avoided, given past controversies and subjective definitions. What's interesting to me - given that I'm about as far into it as you are - is that there seems to be far less interest (compared with Lloyd's book) in defining and describing the nature of particular song types, than in looking at 300 years' worth of historical evidence for vernacular singing in a broad sense, and how all kinds of popular music impinged on it. I wonder how the conclusions will square with the selection of songs in the same authors' New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, most of which would have been approved of by Cecil Sharp.

However, as Vic says, let's not start jumping to conclusions before actually finishing the book...


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 28 Sep 17 - 07:21 PM

I finished it a few days ago and felt a need to start again at the beginning. There's just too much information, from so many perspectives, to take in in one go.

Unlike Sharp, who very early on published "some conclusions" that were based as much on what he wanted to believe as on actual hard evidence that he had gathered in his collecting work, Steve has gone somewhat the other way, presenting a great deal of evidence but (it seems to me) largely leaving his readers to form our own conclusions.

The main (tentative) conclusion that I have drawn so far is that, in the various more-or-less informal / non-commercial settings in which people have sung songs, those songs have typically included some very recent ones and some older ones, but at any given time not very many that were more than a century or so old. That in turn implies that many of the songs passed through a fairly small number of persons (whether aurally or in print/writing) between their original authors and the singers from whom they were collected. Yes there was continuity, variation and selection, but typically only through a limited number of steps, as least insofar as the words are concerned.

The tunes may have benefitted from more stages of transmission by the "folk", thus becoming truly reflective of some ideal folk character as Sharp and his contemporaries liked to believe, but there's not a lot of real evidence for or against that notion.

Anyone feel free to shoot me down if the above is a load of cobblers.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 29 Sep 17 - 03:54 AM

I am really sad to say that I gave up somewhere around page 450.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 29 Sep 17 - 08:25 AM

Perhaps it works better as a dipping-in book than if you try to plough your way through the lot, Mike?

Richard Mellish wrote:
The main (tentative) conclusion that I have drawn so far is that, in the various more-or-less informal / non-commercial settings in which people have sung songs, those songs have typically included some very recent ones and some older ones, but at any given time not very many that were more than a century or so old.

I think your summation is pretty good, Richard. However, it looks to me as though the book is not going to give us a decisive answer to what is 'folk' and what is not. For instance, on p 23 we read: "A singer may take a song from the printed page, or in school, a church, or a theatre, but as soon as he or she starts to sing it, and others take it up, it becomes 'folk'." But that's ambiguous: is it 'folk' the moment the first singer takes it up, or only when it's passed on? Two pages later it looks like it's not just passing it on to your mate in the pub that's important, but that it needs to have been around for about two generations.

But those music hall songs and parlour songs that Sharp and others are criticised for ignoring when they went out with their notebooks in the 1900s were probably composed during the lifetimes of the singers they met (who were predominantly elderly). So had they become 'folk' by that time or not?

On p. 322 we have Flora Thompson describing village pub singing in the 1880s and telling us that the most popular songs 'would have arrived complete with tune from the outer world'. Were these less 'folk' than 'The Outlandish Knight' when it was sung in the same session?

Then on p. 390, Roud quotes farm labourer Fred Kitchen describing the music hall / parlour songs sung by his companions on their way to Martlemass Fair in Doncaster around 1905. At the time these were modern popular songs, but Roud suggests that, by the time American collectors started to note down the same songs in the 1920s / 30s, 'they had had time to bed down as 'folk'.

I know there will be people reading this who will see no point whatsoever in the debate, but since this book is probably the most complete statement we'll ever get on English folk song, it's interesting that there still seem to be quite a few loose ends.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 29 Sep 17 - 08:51 AM

"What's interesting to me - given that I'm about as far into it as you are - is that there seems to be far less interest (compared with Lloyd's book) in defining and describing the nature of particular song types, than in looking at 300 years' worth of historical evidence for vernacular singing in a broad sense, and how all kinds of popular music impinged on it."

Yes, I'm getting a similar sort of impression.

One day I'm hoping to read a book on English folk song that really gets to grips with the WORDS. (Martin Carthy and Shirley Collins could probably write brilliant ones, given the sort of things they've said when I've heard them speak of them) I say that as an English Literature graduate, and as a lover of poetry and novels and folk tales and stories and, of course, songs. One of the reasons I felt obliged to speak up for the value of Bert Lloyd's book, in posts above, is that the parts of his book where he talks about the content of specific songs (and song types) is, for me, where his writing is really valuable.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 29 Sep 17 - 10:09 AM

> it's interesting that there still seem to be quite a few loose ends.

Seriously, folks...is there a definition of "poetry" that definitively covers all the alleged examples of a poem to the exclusion of all non-poetry? And that everyone will agree on?

I don't think so.

Regardless of your definition of "folksong," you'll find a song to fit it and others that don't.

The best way out of the definition trap, as far as I can see, is to ignore the entire folk/non-folk dichotomy entirely and just discuss the song.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Sep 17 - 03:00 PM

I don't have any of these problems. The '54' descriptors are plenty to outline what folk song is. I'm completely with Jon, very few genres if any require a hard boundaries definition. Having said that I doubt very much if any of the contributors to this thread would differ on what constitutes a traditional folk song. Steve sets his stall out in the intro and does a very comprehensive job in the following chapters. He has no real agenda other than supplying genuine information, unlike Bert and Cecil who definitely did have agendas.

Matt, what WORDS do you want to get to grips with? Perhaps the rest of us here can help.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 29 Sep 17 - 04:15 PM

Steve G said "I doubt very much if any of the contributors to this thread would differ on what constitutes a traditional folk song". That's probably correct for a central core of material, but we may well differ considerably about some of the layers further out: see the examples cited by Brian Peters at 08:25 AM Mudcat time today. Steve R himself sets out on pages 24 and 25 many criteria for something being "folk" or not, with particular instances meeting more or fewer of them to varying degrees. And a bit later he suggests that no specimen will ever score 10 out of 10.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Sep 17 - 06:20 PM

Aaaaaaaargh! Lost it again! Grrrr!

The last singer I recorded about 10 years ago had songs from his farming community, songs he had learnt at school and songs he had written about his own life in farming. To me they were all folk songs.

No modern scholar has tried to put a time limit on when a song becomes folk. Obviously the longer a song remains in a folk community the more of the characteristics it picks up, but at what point a song becomes folk has not been established. IMO it doesn't need to be.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: r.padgett
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 04:12 AM

O dear ~could run a while yet

Ray


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 05:13 AM

I'm sure we're not trying to agree a definition of "folk" or "traditional". The "1954" definition isn't too far wrong, but many very long threads here have made quite clear that we'd be lucky even to agree to disagree about that. What we are doing is exploring the implications of the mass of information in Steve Roud's book, one of which is indeed that the boundaries of "folk" or "traditional" are very wooly.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 06:21 AM

The best way out of the definition trap, as far as I can see, is to ignore the entire folk/non-folk dichotomy entirely and just discuss the song.

If we react to the mass of evidence so well researched and presented by Steve Roud by closing down the debate, then his time will have been wasted. The whole point of this book is to open up the question of what is 'folk'. Roud himself describes that question in his 'Afterword' (yes, I've been dipping again) as 'the elephant in the room'.

What I (and I suspect a lot of us on this thread) have always understood as 'traditional folk song' has been based broadly on the concept as erected by Victorian / Edwardian collectors. Roud has compiled evidence that a wide range of additional songs were on the lips of the working classes of the day. If Sharp et al were justified in rejecting contemporary pop songs, then the edifice still stands. If not, then the body of material labelled 'folk song' is - not 'fake', certainly - but an unrepresentative sample. That's a bigger philosophical question than whether Steve G's farmer's original compositions should be called 'folk' or not. Without addressing it, how could one even attempt to compile a collection of 'English Folk Songs' when a publisher like, say, Penguin Books, came calling?

Roud's concluding sentence affirms his view that traditional process is of prime importance in his view of this music. With that, Cecil Sharp would agree. But don't let's all throw up our hands and cry "Oh no, another Mudcat 'what is folk?' food fight!" when this is a distinctly different debate from the one about Dylan / Mumfords etc etc.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 10:01 AM

Steve: "Matt, what WORDS do you want to get to grips with? Perhaps the rest of us here can help."

I capitalised the word WORDS simply because there seems to plenty of writing and scholarship about the definition of a folk song; who sang them; who collected them; who published them; how they were disseminated etc etc. But very little discussion about what's in the songs themselves. The stories, the themes, the imagery, the similes and metaphors, the narrative tricks, the filmic elements, the structure, the switches in perspective of the teller, the tropes ("come all ye", "as I went out..."), the repetition etc etc. I find this a little bizarre, because it's this stuff that makes me want to sing a song, and I'm sure that's the case for most singers. Yet it seems it's not what writers interested in folk song want to write about.

Of course, maybe now everyone will recommend me loads of books about precisely this that I simply didn't know exist! Any embarassment about revealing my ignorance will have been worth it, though.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 10:48 AM

One of the reasons I felt obliged to speak up for the value of Bert Lloyd's book, in posts above, is that the parts of his book where he talks about the content of specific songs (and song types) is, for me, where his writing is really valuable.

I was prompted by Matt's comment to pull down the Lloyd book from the shelves and leaf through it again. While with the benefit of hindsight it's easy to raise a sceptical eyebrow at many of the more romantic suggestions regarding the age and antecedents of the ballads (amongst other things), it did remind me how exciting I found this book when I first read it as a teenager, and how it helped to convince me that these were songs I needed to sing.

You're right that the Roud book doesn't concern itself too much with 'what's in the songs themselves' - that seems to be taken as read. Lloyd of course had plenty to say on the matter. I don't know offhand of many scholarly overviews of that kind of thing - maybe Evelyn Wells' 'The Ballad Tree'? - but things like imagery, metaphor, narrative devices and the other things you mention are always coming up in ballad workshops and have been the stuff of many a Mudcat discussion over the years.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 12:21 PM

Steve Roud once said to me - and I think that he was only partly joking -
A traditional folk song is a song sung by a folk singer.
What a folk singer sings is traditional songs.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 01:05 PM

He wasn't joking! That's certainly one valid way of looking at the question.

Brian, my own experience of Bert's FSE exactly matches yours.

In answer to Matt, many of these topics have been studied in academic works (mostly US or continental) and perhaps it would be useful to start making a comprehensive bibliography of these.

As the vast majority of the ballads we now call folk songs were shaped by those who wrote the broadsides we should look more closely at the characteristics of these.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 02:51 PM

"What a folk singer sings is traditional songs."
I'm disappointed that Steve subscribes to this superficial nonsense, particularly as it contradicts his own method of work - you don't find many 'Lily of Laguna's' with Roud numbers.
It's a little like saying that Wouldn't it be Luvvrly' becomes 'Opera' when Kiri Ti Kanawa sings it   
Those source singer we questioned all discriminated between the different types of song in their repertoire
Walter Pardon filled tape after tape explaining what was a folk song and what wasn't and then described the difference between Parlour Songs, Music Hall and early pop songs, even to the point of identifying the age of the tune by whether it finihed on the accordion with the bellow open or closed.
Blind Travelling woman, Mary Delaney knew around 150 traditional songs - she could have doubled that number with her C and W songs but she refused because she said that weren't the same as the old ones.
She referred to her traditional songs as "Me daddies songs" though her father only had around half da dozen - she was referring to a type rather than a source.
Traveller Mikeen McCarthy divides his repertoire into Street songs, Come-all ye's and fireside songs.
He saw pictures when he sang traditional songs, he didn't when he sang more modern ones
I'm convinced that much of the misinformation about how the older singers was dow to the fact that they were never, or only superficially asked what they thought of their songs
It also depended on the respective states of the oral tradition when the songs were first recorded.
I haven't had time to read Steve's book properly yet, but I hope he goes deeper into the subject than this - maybe over the next few weeks while I'm laid up acting as host to a new hip
Sorry if I've entered the forbidden territory of 'what is a folk song'., but there really is a difference between one and the other and if Walter, Mikeen, Mary, Tom Lenihan… and the old crowd know what it is, it's about time we did, or at least, were able to discuss"What a folk singer sings is traditional songs."
I'm disappointed that Steve subscribes to this superficial nonsense, particularly as it contradicts his own method of work - you don't find many 'Lily of Laguna's' with Roud numbers.
It's a little like saying that Wouldn't it be Luvvrly' becomes 'Opera' when Kiri Ti Kanawa sings it   
Those source singer we questioned all discriminated between the different types of song in their repertoire
Walter Pardon filled tape after tape explaining what was a folk song and what wasn't and then described the difference between Parlour Songs, Music Hall and early pop songs, even to the point of identifying the age of the tune by whether it finihed on the accordion with the bellow open or closed.
Blind Travelling woman, Mary Delaney knew around 150 traditional songs - she could have doubled that number with her C and W songs but she refused because she said that weren't the same as the old ones.
She referred to her traditional songs as "Me daddies songs" though her father only had around half da dozen - she was referring to a type rather than a source.
Traveller Mikeen McCarthy divides his repertoire into Street songs, Come-all ye's and fireside songs.
He saw pictures when he sang traditional songs, he didn't when he sang more modern ones
I'm convinced that much of the misinformation about how the older singers was dow to the fact that they were never, or only superficially asked what they thought of their songs
It also depended on the respective states of the oral tradition when the songs were first recorded.
I haven't had time to read Steve's book properly yet, but I hope he goes deeper into the subject than this - maybe over the next few weeks while I'm laid up acting as host to a new hip
Jim Carroll it without acrimony
"As the vast majority of the ballads we now call folk songs were shaped by those who wrote the broadsides"
Nonsense again Steve - you can't possibly know that
The ballads are finely constructed works of art relying lergely on well established vernacular and commonplaces - the broadsides were largely unsingable doggerel
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 03:06 PM

Sorry about the double cock-up of that post - in a hurry to catch Casualty!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: r.padgett
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 03:09 PM

"What a folk singer sings is traditional songs." no not exclusively


Traditional songs are/were sung by folk singers ~ some could be or are

classified as being traditional folk singers ~ I think there is or

should be a definition of "traditional folk singer" although the wording escapes me at the moment!

Folk singers who are not deemed to be "traditional singers" but who sing

traditional songs (ok define again) are often referred to be

"revivalist" folk singers ~ Martin Carthy, Nick Jones, Tony Rose for example and of course Brian Peters and many many others
Ray


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 03:12 PM

I think we're at cross purposes again, Jim.
You seem to be referring to the big ballads in your last statement. We were discussing folk song in general most of which are ballads. However, since you refer to commonplaces, these are also extremely common on broadsides.

'the broadsides were largely unsingable doggerel' I don't know about 'unsingable' but you are right, the vast majority of it most of us would consider extremely unfashionable today. But to those of us who have trawled through mountains of this stuff in order to track down earlier versions of 'folk ballads' we have managed to arrive at some reasonable conclusions about their origins and reworking. If you read your Mayhew and similar you will know that in previous centuries recycling was a massive industry unlike today's throwaway society.

Matt, if you want I can't point you at some academic works that are very useful on some of the points that you mention, but I don't have a comprehensive list as I'm not an academic.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 03:38 PM

You seem to be referring to the big ballads in your last statement.
Nope - I'm referring to our finely crafted traditional songs
As our knowledge of the oral tradition onLy dates as far as the beginning of the twentieth century - anything before that is a guess and way out of the reach of definitive statements
A "broadside hack" was a derogatory term for a bad poet – not a reference to the language of the time
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 03:39 PM


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 03:45 PM

Ne'ertheless 'broadside hacks' definitely wrote many of what we now call folk ballads. Mayhew again. He describes a conversation with the writer of The Bonny Bunch of Roses. Mayhew himself wrote Villikins as a burlesque on William and Dinah and we also know who wrote William and Dinah. What about that wonderful Child Ballad 'The Daemon Lover'? But I'll let Brian tell you who wrote that.

I think it best if we continue this discussion after you've read Steve's book. We spent many months sifting through that 'unsingable doggerel'.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Sep 17 - 03:59 PM

Matt, 3.12 for 'can't' read 'can'.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 04:39 AM

"Ne'ertheless 'broadside hacks' definitely wrote many of what we now call folk ballads. "
Again Steve, we can't be certain of anything - Mayhew may well have well met the writer of Bonny Bunch; he equally might have met somebody who claimed he wrote it - the same goes for any song
Can you say for certain there were no preceding versions of Demon Lover - there are enough traditional commonplaces and general human experiences within the song to suggest there might have been
When we began recording source singers we more or less decided from the start that our work would have no meaning unless we recorded what we could of the context in which the songs were sung in an attempt, not to find who made them, but to get some idea why they might have been made and what purpose they served in the communities in which theey circulated
Probably the most important discovery we made was that a significant number had been made within the lifetime of the singers
A 90 odd year old singer told us a couple of years ago that "In those days, if a man farted in church, somebody made a song about it"
You've written this off as what happened in this part of rural Ireland, but we know that Travellers made their own songs, English Scots and Irish
Walter Pardon talked about the Union songs his Uncles sang which were made at the time Georhe Edwards was reforming the Agricultural Workers Union
These are all later songs, but there is no reason to believe that most of our traditional songs started in the same way - or if there is, it escapes me.
It seems that working men and women were natural songmaker with a desire to record their lives and opinions in verse; there is no reason to believe that they always have been
The Travellers we recorded still had a living, functioning tradition in the first three years of the 1970s (put a sudden stop to with the advent of portable televisions) - they were still making songs
The song traditions in rural Ireland still functioned as living entities into the 1950s though they had faded somewhat thanks to the conscious destruction of music and dance by the Church, with the aid of the State a few decades earlier
Both the rural and urban Irish continued to make songs because the political and cultural situation demanded them.
Walter Pardon sang songs he had assiduously gathered from his family memories, so his repertoire and his opinions represented his two uncles' experiences rather than his own - dating back to the late 19th, early 20th centuries.
Sharp and his colleagues always claimed that the traditions they were collecting from were on the wane - the English song traditions almost certainly began to die when the Industrial Revolution smashed up the rural communities and drove the people into the towns and the demands of the new society began to change the lives of the remaining rural dwellers radically
Irish collector Tom Munnelly described his work as "a race with the undertaker"
Claiming we still have a living tradition is a revival fantasy - modern technology has made us passive recipients of our culture rather than part of it.   
Basing opinions and making definitive statements about something that stretches back centuries, possibly millennia, on something that is on its last legs is crazy
Our classic ballads have been dated to the 17th and 18th centuries, but we know they contain motifs and references that date back as far as Boccachio, Homer and maybe beyond, giving rise to the possibility that some may have been around a lot longer than we think.
You suggest we all go and read Steve' book as if it is somehow going to suddenly cause the scales to fall from our eyes and we will all be enlightened
I suggest we have enough collective knowledge between us here to slug it out whenever the fancy takes us
Personally, I'm tired of putting these serious debates "on the long finger" (a local folk saying btw)
Personally I need to put our findings and opinions together as soon as possible - I'm far too old to risk doing otherwise
Jim Carroll


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