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New Book: Folk Song in England

Vic Smith 12 Jul 18 - 07:49 AM
Jack Campin 12 Jul 18 - 09:59 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 12 Jul 18 - 11:11 AM
Brian Peters 12 Jul 18 - 11:13 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 12 Jul 18 - 11:35 AM
Lighter 12 Jul 18 - 11:43 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 12 Jul 18 - 11:59 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 12 Jul 18 - 12:09 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Jul 18 - 12:26 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Jul 18 - 12:40 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Jul 18 - 12:51 PM
The Sandman 12 Jul 18 - 01:17 PM
The Sandman 12 Jul 18 - 01:18 PM
GUEST,just another guest 12 Jul 18 - 01:20 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Jul 18 - 01:22 PM
The Sandman 12 Jul 18 - 01:31 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Jul 18 - 01:31 PM
The Sandman 12 Jul 18 - 01:39 PM
Brian Peters 12 Jul 18 - 01:52 PM
Vic Smith 12 Jul 18 - 02:38 PM
Vic Smith 12 Jul 18 - 03:50 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Jul 18 - 04:06 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Jul 18 - 04:08 PM
Vic Smith 12 Jul 18 - 04:55 PM
GUEST 12 Jul 18 - 04:58 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Jul 18 - 05:36 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Jul 18 - 06:09 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 12 Jul 18 - 06:37 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Jul 18 - 06:53 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 12 Jul 18 - 07:16 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Jul 18 - 03:33 AM
The Sandman 13 Jul 18 - 04:51 AM
Brian Peters 13 Jul 18 - 05:25 AM
The Sandman 13 Jul 18 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,just another guest 13 Jul 18 - 06:30 AM
Jack Campin 13 Jul 18 - 07:05 AM
Brian Peters 13 Jul 18 - 07:51 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 13 Jul 18 - 07:59 AM
GUEST,just another guest 13 Jul 18 - 08:03 AM
GUEST,just another guest 13 Jul 18 - 08:17 AM
Brian Peters 13 Jul 18 - 08:17 AM
GUEST 13 Jul 18 - 08:18 AM
GUEST,just another guest 13 Jul 18 - 08:28 AM
Brian Peters 13 Jul 18 - 08:30 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Jul 18 - 08:45 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 13 Jul 18 - 09:31 AM
Jack Campin 13 Jul 18 - 09:32 AM
Brian Peters 13 Jul 18 - 09:41 AM
GUEST,just another guest 13 Jul 18 - 10:26 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 13 Jul 18 - 10:55 AM
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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 07:49 AM

Jim wrote -
'It's been up several times Vic, but 'yer 'ttis again:
""If 'Little Boxes' and 'The Red Flag' are folk songs. we need a new term to describe 'The Outlandish Knight'. Searching for Lambs' and 'The Coal-owner and the Pitman's Wife'."

Thanks very much for that, Jim, very helpful. It comes from page 410 of Bert's Folk Songs in England. I'm glad that when I asked you this at 11 Jul 18 - 10:21 AM I also wrote asking for "the context he said it in." because if you look at page 410 the sentence that follows the one that you quote above says:-

In any case no special mystical virtue attaches to the notion of folk song, grand as some folkloric creations may be.


Now, I am paraphrasing here, but I take this to mean that Bert is saying that folk songs do not have a unique quality and yet you have written:-
at 11 Jul 18 - 08:54 AM
Sorry Vic - you (and everybody here) is ignoring the uniqueness of fok songs..... what are we going to call this bunch of unique songs - or maybe they are not unique
and at 11 Jul 18 - 02:22 PM
If you don't accept that out folk songs are unique, I don't thin we have a point of reference between us

I am starting to think that we actually do have a point of reference here an that we are getting somewhere, but it is foundering on your use of the word 'unique' to reference to folk songs. We need to know what you mean by using this word to describe folk songs.
When you were asked:-
"Can we tell anything from the style of language?"
You replied:-
Absolutely - the familiarity with vernacular usage says much about the songs as does anything else - as does folk humour
....but it cannot just be the vernacular because that abounds in Music Hall songs and you would exclude these.
Can you see that if we are to make progress (and I feel that are getting somewhere) that we need you to tell as what in your thinking is unique to folk songs - a quality that is not found elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 09:59 AM

The kind of stuff found in the Pepys and Roxburgh collections of broadsides from the late 17th century is indeed unsingable, at least by today's standards.
Maybe by period standards as well. Relatively few went into tradition (oral or otherwise), and it's likely that the vast majority were rarely (or never) sung at all - at least as printed.


And maybe were never intended to be. There is a recurring type of versified polemic which has a named tune, and where knowing the tune carries the ideas along, but which is far too long for any performance. Some of the best of these were by the Chartists in the early 19th century - I have in mind one tremendous attack on the alcohol industry from Northern England around 1840, when the temperance movement was entirely within secular social radicalism and was resisted viciously by the churches (who only picked up the issue a generation later). It's at least as good as anything the Wobblies did, but the guy who wrote it can hardly have expected all 40-odd pages of it to be sung out loud, not least because he was doing a long jail stretch for sedition when it was published.

Less attractively there is a shitload of page-long fine-print Jacobite rants from the early 18th century, which no doubt served a function as a memorable catalogue of grievances, but even the drunkest group of upper-class twats on a binge would have told you to STFU if you tried to air them in public.

It isn't an artistic failure if something like these didn't get into tradition - street directories didn't either, and you can sing them pretty well to psalm tunes.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 11:11 AM

Jack: I feel 'in my bones' that it may not be wholly right to say that 'the churches' 'viciously resisted' the temperance movement, even if the 'viciously' was omitted. Especially not when coupled with the statement that the early movement was 'entirely within secular social radicalism'.

I post as someone whose direct ancestor wrote at the end of the 19th century a lot of anti-alcohol tracts now in the British Library (not songs as far as I know), and his father was a 'chartist' to the extent of signing up to the land allotment thing they had going (but his number never seems to have come up and he didn't get his bit of land). So I sat up and paid attention when I read your post.

So the Seven Men of Preston are said to be the founders of the teetotal movement in the 1830s. I am thinking that at least some of these were in part motivated by religious considerations, even if not operating within the chuch. But if motivated by religious beliefs, then maybe not secular in the sense of 'unconnected with religious beliefs'.

So, though this is massive 'thread drift', interested in your reasoning here. Happy to accept that the long teetotal song you know of was unsingable.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 11:13 AM

I wrote: "The kind of stuff found in the Pepys and Roxburgh collections of broadsides from the late 17th century is indeed unsingable, at least by today's standards... 19th century broadsides, on the other hand, are much more concise, and often correspond very closely to texts collected in the field."

And Lighter repiled: "Maybe by period standards as well. Relatively few went into tradition (oral or otherwise), and it's likely that the vast majority were rarely (or never) sung at all - at least as printed. The same goes for the 19th century broadsides, no?"

Perhaps I should have expressed myself better. Of course I've seen scores of unsingable and generally merit-free broadsides from the 19th century. What I meant was that the C19 broadside versions of collected songs are often both singable and close to the texts as sung.

This doesn't necessarily bear on the issue of origins. However, I'll go back for a moment to my research on 'The Wild Rover', which I've already discussed far above:

Original, unsingable 13-verse C17 broadside is subject to a major edit, resulting in a much more singable 5-verse C19 broadside.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 11:35 AM

I'll go back for a moment to my research on 'The Wild Rover', which I've already discussed far above:

Original, unsingable 13-verse C17 broadside is subject to a major edit, resulting in a much more singable 5-verse C19 broadside.


The original may have been unsingable to an audience possessed of a flabby modern bum, but if you were used to six-hour sermons while seated on a hard pew, a song that kept the moralizing under ten minutes would have come as light relief.


it may not be wholly right to say that 'the churches' 'viciously resisted' the temperance movement, even if the 'viciously' was omitted. Especially not when coupled with the statement that the early movement was 'entirely within secular social radicalism'.

In many cases the churches were closely tied to the big brewers. They not only refused the temperance campaigners the use of church halls (so they had to rally outdoors like the Covenanters), they preached against temperance as an anti-Christian ideology. Maybe not everywhere, but certainly in the big industrial cities where the temperance movement first took off. Churchmen needed guts to take a stand for temperance, though of course some always did.

This continues to the present day, with the Coors family contributing to the American religious right.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 11:43 AM

> And maybe were never intended to be.

You beat me to it, Jack.

Strictly speaking, if a broadside doesn't prescribe a tune we can't be sure that the verses were intended - necessarily - to be sung.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 11:59 AM

What I had in mind is that the same might be true even when a tune IS prescribed. Reading a poem silently with a tune in mind is a different experience from reading it as pure text - and maybe an experience that conveys the meaning better.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 12:09 PM

Jack: I'm happier with 'in many cases'. For example, I found the example of Joseph Brotherton of Salford, mill owner and MP. He was in a nonconformist sect which involved renouncing alcohol.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 12:26 PM

Much of what we are discussing here seems to rest on the FACT that the great bulk of commercial songs should be considered as 'unsingable', 'doggerel', 'too long' etc. Having spent most of my life 'grubbing' through the dross to find the 'jewels' I can absolutely verify this.

However, what you MUST take into account is the obvious point that the bulk of this material was indeed discarded and not retained in oral tradition. You are comparing millions of commercial products with a few thousand that actually went into oral tradition, for a variety of reasons.

Brian makes an excellent point with 'The Wild Rover' and there are plenty of other similar examples.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 12:40 PM

Whilst we're talking about temperance songs, obviously The Wild Rover in all of its manifestations is indeed a temperance song, which gives a delicious irony to its usage as a rip-roaring drinking song even to the extent that it has been used in TV adverts to advertise drinking alcohol.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 12:51 PM

"In any case no special mystical virtue attaches to the notion of folk song, grand as some folkloric creations may be."
Bert does not deny the uniqueness of folk song, on the contrary, his quote underlines just that they are different from other forms - nobody has suggested anything "mythical" about them
On the contrary, they are creations of the "common" people rather that of music created by commerce for profit - that is what makes them unique

Vernacular as used in Music Hall and Stage songs is used for effect - often it mocks the subject rather than reinforces it - 'Oirish' or 'Cheekie-Chappie cockney' - it is usually effected or exaggerated
Music hall 'folk humour (sic) is designed to poke fun at the folk rather than represent them honestly
That happens in literature too, for instance, in the so-called 'Popular Tales' of Samuel Lover and the Black Country tales of G H Gough
Ashtons broadsides are full of such mockery - The Universal Songster is worse.
Quite often broadside caricature extends into outright 'black Sambo' racism
The characters described are caricatures, often bumkins or yokels
I am referring to the natural unexaggerated and often understated speech of our folk songs.

I go along with both Lighter and Jack about the broadsides that were never intended to be sung - I'm taking about those that obviously were

'Wild Rover unsingable 5 verse broadside'
I did a fair amount of research on the song 'The Blind Beggar' which appeared first in print, I think, in the 1600s and was included as a totally unsingable 60 plus verse, two part plus epic in Percy's Reliques
Percy's notes link the ballad to specifical historical events and Pepys writes about dining at an eating house run my the main character

A totally streamlined and cut down to six or seven verse version of this was to be found in abundance among non-litrate Irish Travellers
It has always intrigued me how this leap took place - the Travellers certainly didn't do it
I'm pretty sure later hacks cut down the song for convenience, though I'm not certain where such hard-dressed workers found the time to do so.
If they are the same song (the texts suggest they are), is it not possible that a hack took a popular traditional idea (the poor girl turning out to be not all she seemed) or was it originally a shorter song turned it into a self-indulgent epic?
JIm Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 01:17 PM

Music hall 'folk humour (sic) is designed to poke fun at the folk rather than represent them honestly"
generalising again, the following Music hall songs, in these hard times, the houses in between,theyre moving fathers grave to build a sewer,my old man, moving day. Do NOT poke fun at the folk but represent them honestly.
Jim, please stop talking poppycock. Folk songs are not unique in being not created for profit .Icould give you examples of country songs that were not produced for profit, you may find this hard to believe but it happens to be true, blackwaters, jean ritchie,dark as a dungeon merle travis.and Johnny Paycheck became one of the strongest voices for labor unions with his song “Take This Job And Shove It,” even showing up to labor protests and defiantly singing the song in support of the unionizers. Loretta Lynn’s “The Pill” and “Rated X” supported sexual freedom for women.
Jim you are over simplifying and generalisng again


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 01:18 PM

check mate, jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,just another guest
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 01:20 PM

Music hall 'folk humour (sic) is designed to poke fun at the folk rather than represent them honestly

Who went to music halls? Not the 'the folk'?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 01:22 PM

>>>>If they are the same song (the texts suggest they are), is it not possible that a hack took a popular traditional idea<<<<

There are many examples of popular traditional ideas being turned into ballads. In fact this is what most of them are.


or was it originally a shorter song turned it into a self-indulgent epic?<<<<

The evidence points to the contrary when we look closely at the evolution of individual ballads over several centuries. However, the lengthening was very much an indulgence of the ballad editors like Percy, Scott, Buchan, etc.


Example of long into short. Marrowbones common on broadsides early 19thc becomes much shorter Music Hall song 'Johnny Sands'


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 01:31 PM

For a lot of people, country music and patriotism go hand in hand. Thanks to songs like Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The U.S.A.,” country music earned a reputation as a flag-waving, blue-blooded bastion of American pride.

And they’re not wrong. But what few folks realize is that country music has always been a home to protest music and political rallying cries, too. In fact, country music champions individual liberties, equality and peace as much as it honors American troops and small-town living. Here is another political country song .
John Rich — Shuttin’ Detroit Down

John Rich co-wrote “Shuttin’ Detroit Down” after seeing repeated news stories about the decline of the auto industry in Michigan. He takes a strong anti-bank stance, aiming his pen at the banks who received federal bailouts under then-President George W. Bush. He contrasts it with all the people losing their jobs, particular auto workers and farmers. Kris Kristofferson and Mickey Rourke even starred in the video. Washington eventually bailed out the auto industry too, first with a temporary fix initiated by Bush and later with a comprehensive plan put into place by Barack Obama. Though unpopular at the time, the bailout eventually revitalized the United States auto industry.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 01:31 PM

"The evidence points to the contrary when we look closely at the evolution of individual ballads over several centuries"
So there is evidence that the song did not exist before the 17 century version
I always thing of the nonsensical 'Craigston' conceit of linking a song to an occurrence that is as old as history itself

Marrowbones 19th century
A folk joke that, again, is as old as time itself and appears in early fableu form

"Jim, please stop talking poppycock."
Dick - stop being so boorishly ill manners, especially when your contribution does not merit it
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 01:39 PM

Jim here is yet another social comment song that isnot in the folk genre, which disproves your statement about unique nature of folk song, yesJim ,for once admit you are wrong, and that your statment is not true
I am born today, the sun burns its promise in my eyes;
Mama strikes me and I draw a breath and cry.
Above me a cloud softly tumbles through the sky;
I am glad to be alive.

It is my seventh day, I taste the hunger and I cry;
my brother and sister cling to Mama's side.
She squeezes her breast, but it has nothing to provide;
someone weeps, I fall asleep.

It is twenty days today, Mama does not hold me anymore;
I open my mouth but I am too weak to cry.
Above me a bird slowly crawls across the sky;
why is there nothing now to do but die

Harry Chapin - The Shortest Story.
Jim, you have been proved wrong


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 01:52 PM

"The Wild Rover in all of its manifestations is indeed a temperance song, which gives a delicious irony to its usage as a rip-roaring drinking song"

I've always been amused by that too. Whichever anonymous editor rebranded 'The Bad Husband' of the ballad as 'The Wild Rover' bears some responsibility for that. The C19 song remained a temperance piece, but maybe later ears decided that the 'wild rover' character sounded more of a swashbuckler than a morose alcoholic.

It's also the only one of all those Alehouse Ballads in which the protagonist plays his poor man / rich man trick on the alewife, which I believe was a factor in its subsequent evolution and popularity.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 02:38 PM

Jim writes -
I am referring to the natural unexaggerated and often understated speech of our folk songs.
So is that the factor that makes them unique?
Are there no written songs that show these qualities?
Are there other factors and facts that appear in folk songs and nowhere else? I mean something quantifiable.

If you can provide a list of factors that makes folk songs identifiable from all other genres of song then you are really on to something - but we need the details.

You write
On the contrary, they are creations of the "common" people rather that of music created by commerce for profit - that is what makes them unique.
whilst also writing
If you want firm evidence there isn't a shred of it either way, so all the modern scientific methods have nothing to work on apart from tracing first printed versions unless you have any way of showing these to be the first, first printing means nothing whatever.

If you think that there isn't a shred of evidence about the origin of the songs, are you not contradicting yourself to claim that they are the creations of the "common people". I don't think that you can have it both ways.

Are the undefined "common" people who may or may not have created these songs incapable of thinking that they might make a little honest money by singing them to a broadside publisher?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 03:50 PM

On the subject of the use of vernacular in song, Jim makes a good point:-
Vernacular as used in Music Hall and Stage songs is used for effect - often it mocks the subject rather than reinforces it - 'Oirish' or 'Cheekie-Chappie cockney' - it is usually effected or exaggerated
Music hall 'folk humour (sic) is designed to poke fun at the folk rather than represent them honestly.

Other victims of this brand of humour were the rural working population who were mocked as being 'Yokels' and 'Country Bumpkins' on the early variety and music hall stages. Were these songs taken up by 'the folk'? Yes, they were, though funnily enough evidence points to the fact that it was the rural victims that revelled in singing them.
Every traditional singer that I encountered in the 1960s when I came to Sussex - and there were still quite a number of them then - were happy to sing Never no more for me! alongside The Bold Fisherman (George Belton) - to sing A Suit of Corderoy alongside Thousands of More (The Coppers).... I could give numerous examples.
Thinking outside south-east England, one of the great traveller singers, Belle Stewart, might sing The Twa Brithers and then go into Saft Country Chiel. Do you know that one? It made me laugh so I learned it directly from Belle. Here's the first verse and chorus:-
Ah'm a Saft Country Chiel an ma name's Geordie Weir
Ah suppose ye all wonder what Ah'm daeing here.
Well, it's jist on a visit tae Glesgae Ah've come
Tae see some auld friens Ah've ne'er seen fir sae lang.
(Chorus)
So Ah wish I wis back aince mair in Dalry
Ye wid ne'er see ma face 'til the day that Ah die.
If Ah only could manage the price o' ma train
Ye wid ne'er see ma face back in Glesgae again.


I went to my bookshelves to find a book that I knew that it was in and found an incomplete version printed under the title Geordie Weir but found that the book had the first line of the chorus as:-
So I wish I was back in Smarendale Rye

The book it is in is Till Doomsday In The Afternoon (MacColl & Seeger).


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 04:06 PM

"Are there no written songs that show these qualities?"
I'm sure there are Vic , but not among the broadsides I'm familiar with
"Are there other factors and facts that appear in folk songs and nowhere else? "
There are features of folk songs that appear everywhere, but there is no other genre I know of that consistently overwhelmingly represents the folk voice and was identified as genuinely their own by the people that sang them

I have yet to see Yorkshire or Lincolnshire variants of 'Bird in a Gilded Cage' or P'ut a Bit of Powder on it Father' or 'She Sits Among the Cabbages and Peas'
When we (you and I) discussed the 'you know a folk song when you hear one' issue ealier on this thread, your response was that instinct was not enough, or words of that efect
Now, it seems, there is nothing about folk songs that set them apart from other songs

If you "need tha details" we are speaking in different tongues
Bert knew the difference when he posed his question; Walter knew the difference when he went through his repertoire ticking off what were folk songs (and why) and what weren't; Mary Delaney knew the difference when she refused to sing us her Country and Western Songs
Mikeen McCarthy was pretty sure he saw pictures when he sang his folk songs and didn't when he sang his parlour songs
Topic Records knew the difference wen they largely confined their output to one type of song and called their monumental series 'The Voice of the People'
So did Gavin Greig, or Hamish Henderson..... or all those who captured, documented and categorised these songs
Even Steve Roud knew the difference one time when he numbered only folk songs and rejected those that weren't
Are you suggesting that all these people didn't know what they were talking about

This anything goes attitude was once a revival thing when the singers ran out of imagination - - now if seems to have spread to the desk jockeys

"yourself to claim that they are the creations of the "common people""
I have always said that nobody knows who made them and said that we probably never shall - that remains my position
It took a while before Steve to punctuate his claims after he had contemptuously dismissed my MacColl's statement as "starry-eyed-nonsense"
Now you are picking me up for having omitted it
Where were you when I Needed you back then?
Sorry - my point and all my unanswered questions remain
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 04:08 PM

Just like the burlesqued ballads the comic vernacular songs soon found their way into the oral tradition. William and Dinah was soon supplanted in oral tradition by Villikins, its Music Hall burlesque written by Henry Mayhew. Comic burlesques of ballads like 'Billy Taylor', 'Lord Lovel', 'George Collins' and 'Ah, my Love's Dead' quickly became serious songs again when they re-entered the oral tradition. The comic pathos imbued in the stage versions was very weak and often not obvious on the printed broadside and the rural poor accepted them as serious songs. Indeed even the middle-class collectors recorded them as serious songs. They often collected and published 1860s Music hall songs without knowing what they were. 'Country Carrier, Jim the Carter Lad, Watercresses, When Johnny Comes Marching Home, Cruise of the Calabar etc....


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 04:55 PM

One last try -
Jim wrote -
Now, it seems, there is nothing about folk songs that set them apart from other songs
Are you suggesting that I am saying that - because I am not. I am trying to get to the roots of your claim that you made about their 'uniqueness' when you wrote - "Sorry Vic - you (and everybody here) is ignoring the uniqueness of fok songs"
If there is something that is unique then that is exciting and I have been pursuing you for a statement on or list of these special qualities that are not found anywhere in other song - but it is not forthcoming. It is not enough to list the people who in your opinion - 'knew' what a folk song is (Bert, Walter, Mary Delaney, Hamish, Gavin Greig). It's the nature of the unique qualities that you claim that I am pursuing without success. I stand by my former claim that you quoted "that instinct was not enough" Neither is what I would call the insiders' mystique of "these people knew...." enough and I would still maintain that when A.L. Lloyd wrote "In any case no special mystical virtue attaches to the notion of folk song" he was expressing this in different words.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 04:58 PM

Yes, they were, though funnily enough evidence points to the fact that it was the rural victims that revelled in singing them.

Just as the saucy and 'fat ladies' seaside postcards mocked the people who bought and posted them (or at least, they mocked the people next along on the beach). And that 'regional' TV soap operas that caricature people are popular in those regions - everyone knows someone like that.

People are not alays as 'precious' as commentators from outside their group, especially those taking care not to cause offence (you could say 'politically correct'), may think

Not that care is not needed, as the some responses to Jim's friendly 'bunch of scuffs' comment indicate. Really, if someone can misinterpret that they can misinterpret a line from a song.

Why shouldn't a milkmaid or ploughboy enjoy the idea of a rural idyll painted for the pleasure gardens or have a laugh at a characature of someone like someone they know - or even themselves if done sympathetically.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 05:36 PM

"but it is not forthcoming."

Yest it is Vic and it has been from the very beginning
If we are talking about the same music we have been involved in it long enough for it not to be necessary to deman I should spell it out
Folk song is unique for what it is - folk song - the voice of the people
Bert's question is succinct enough - he indicates there are differences and wrote a book on those differences - do you really want me to summarise that book?
The opinions of those I listed most certainly do count - they based their work on the folk songs I recognise as s=uch and rejected the ones Roud has inclued in his re-definition
If you don't understand that, I af far too old to learn a new language
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 06:09 PM

We are coming full circle again. Back to the beginning.

The questions being shied away from: Is the body of folk song a finite thing? Does it have a hard and fast definition? Do we use the 54 descriptors? Are those descriptors finite? Can we say where the boundaries lie between one song and another? Can we agree on any of it?

>>>>Folk song is unique for what it is - folk song - the voice of the people<<<<
Shaped by the people perhaps, but created by the people, much more of a minefield.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 06:37 PM

I'm not sure that words arranged in verses so that they can be sung to 'strophic' music and in lines with patterns of rhyme can be described as 'natural'. 'Conventional' would appear to be a better word. Jim provided some examples of internal rhyme above which make this point, for me.

Reference has been made to Bert's question, as posed at the end of his book. Bert Lloyd asks a number of rhetorical questions at the end of his book. For example, he asks if the makers of 'The coal-owner and the pitman's wife', and other modern workers' songs might be seen as intermediaries between an old tradition and a new.

He appears to answer at least some of these questions with a quotation from American musicologist, Charles Seeger. This refers to a 'more stabilized society' that we may hope is coming into being, and to the selecton of a 'new, more universalised idiom' for this society. Seeger says instead of attempting to keep folk song alive as something 'quaint ...' we should accept that it is changing, and 'help what it is changing into'. I am assuming this sort of attitude fitted with Lloyd's left wing approach, though one is tempted to mischievously read the 'help' as a coded reference to his own tinkerings.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 06:53 PM

" left wing approach"
Why "left wing"
I met Charles Seeger several times - I got the impression that he was as left wing as Bert, even more so
"Does it have a hard and fast definition? "
It defines a long-dead phenomenon so it can only be redefined by adding fresh information
You can't re-deine the plays of shakespeare ot Elizabethan madrigals - why should you be able to re-deinne folk songs
If folk song creation should miraculously rise from the dead, that would be a different matter
You have attempted to do the equivalent of Shakespearean plays by throwing the works of Johnson, Webster, Beumonont and Fletcher et al into the mix
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 12 Jul 18 - 07:16 PM

Steve: You are right to try to ask questions being shied away from.

I am coming round to thinking that the idea of 'folk music' is what they call a 'social construct'. This is perhaps why we have problems defining it.

And from the outset, as far as I can see, people on both sides of the Atlantic have had different ideas about what this is and about how it should be interpreted, so that some early US folklorists viewed African American folk song as providing an insight into the racial difference they so firmly believed existed.

Definitional questions (how does it arise, individual or collective, Barry's 'communal re-creation' theory; how is it passed on) seem to have been into thinking about this subject from the start. I think this is perhaps why it is so tricky to discuss it.

I think Roud attempts to address this complexity when he imagines a diagram with overlapping circles, rather like a complicated Venn diagram of some sort.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 03:33 AM

"This is perhaps why we have problems defining it. "
Up to farly recently definition hasn't been a problem - this really is a new kid on the block as far as us veterans are concerned
This cultural self-imposed myopia started with a revival that had apparently become bored with the traditional repertoire and wished to encompass other genres in their 'folk club' evenings; nothing wrong with that if you had audiences who liked big ballads and Victorian tear jerkers'.

As a frequent visitor to fok clubs in the sixties and seventies I was for a time prepared to listen to all sorts, within reason, but eventually it came to the situation that you often went home from a folk club without hearing a folk song.
I stopped going to clubs and so did many thousands of other folk song lovers - the ccene took a nose dive and hundreds of clubs disappeared - as did those who had formerly attended them
The folk venues had transmogrified into something we, as individuals, could no longer put a name to.
Unfortunately, the organisers continued to (often very aggressively) continued to call their clubs 'folk' - there had been a hostile takeover of our 'Other Music'

Those of us who continued to expect to heat folk songs at folk cubs were called 'Folk Police' or 'Folk Fascists' or 'Purists' or 'Finger-in-Ear'
We have now reached the stage that, on a forum that claims to be about "Traditional Music and Folklore Collection" we cannot discuss folk song definition - it has become a no-go area

We have a workable definition; as flawed as it mat be it is a reasonable rule-of-thumb to our music - "54" has become a term of abuse and contempt
Instead of repairing the flaws, any attempt at defining it has been totally abandoned - it has become a music without a name, "unless you accept "singing horse music" (based an an apocryphally-credited old joke)

Our music is as well-researched and documented as any other, possibly better
I have many hundreds of books discussing the features and peculiarities of folk song, lore, narratives, dance music.... (all related disciplines)
Up to the eighties, folk song had its own clear identity which was reflected in clubs, records, literature, shops full of goods... (an entire cultural and at times, thriving movement)
Now it a "dog and a cane and a bell" to identify it.

I fell under the influence of Ewan MacColl's singing in the early 1960s - later, when I got to know him, I fell under the influence of his ideas on folk song
In the early days he would insist that whatever happened folk song would never die.
Pat and I carried out an extended six month interview with him in the early 1980s - by then he had adapted to "Folk song will only die if it falls into the hands of people who don't like or understand it" - I'll drink to that never happening every time

Significantly MacColl is another no go area on this "Traditional Music and Folklore Collection" forum, and if things go on as they are, so will Child and Sharp and Lloyd and Lomax...... and all those dedicated and talented visionaries who gave us this wonderful cultural phenomenon
I hope I'm not around to witness that particular book-burning

When you say there is a problem defining folk song - please spaek for yourself - some of us don't have that problem
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 04:51 AM

Jim,please define folk song


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 05:25 AM

please define folk song

Aargh, no, not that!

I think Jim's conflation of the 'print origins' theory with the practices of English folk clubs since the 1980s muddies the water. The people who preferred to hear American singer-songwriter or modern pop music in their folk cubs would not have given a FF about whether folk songs originated as broadsides, and by the same token Steve Roud doesn't give that kind of music house room.

Roud and '1954' are in broad agreement over what makes songs 'folk' and that is based on the way the songs were used in communities where singing was still actively practiced.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 05:36 AM

Can he define it


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,just another guest
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 06:30 AM

Has anyone written a social history of song in communities where singing was still actively practiced during the 20th century. That is, after the period after that covered by Roud?

What are the differences, socially, between singing on the cart coming back from market in 1755 and in the back of charabanc coming back from a works outing to Southport in 1955?

Why do people 'draw the line' where they do? There seem to be many times where one can pick point to a significant change - Jim's account of Travellers getting TV in the 1960s, recorded music in the 1920's (+/-), change in farming following the WW1, Music Hall in the towns, the gradual move of populations from country to town etc.

Where will people 'draw a line' through communal singing in 100 years time?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 07:05 AM

"Singing as effectively practiced" in the late 20th century mostly meant genres nobody would think of as folk - karaoke, football songs, hymns. Ethnomusicologists are quite happy to study those, but they don't have a lot to do with each other.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 07:51 AM

"What are the differences, socially, between singing on the cart coming back from market in 1755 and in the back of charabanc coming back from a works outing to Southport in 1955?

Why do people 'draw the line' where they do?"


Because what most people including Steve Roud, Cecil Sharp, et al, agree on is that for it to be 'folk' it has to have been passed down, not just sung. So technically it would depend not only on what your charabanc passengers were singing (hits of the day, Music Hall, WW1 favourites?), but how they had learned them.

Although it's not a hard and fast 'line', the advent of commercial recorded music and radio represents a watershed as far as this argument goes.

And singing was 'actively practised' as a community activity less and less as the 20th century wore on. Speaking as a 1970s era football fan, I'm always shocked when I go to a match now how the number of people actively taking part of singing has diminished, even though the creativity still flourishes. As to karaoke, although it might be 'folk song' by the broadest definition, the fact that singers read the lyrics from an autocue and perform to a backing track makes it something different to 20 verses of 'Lord Bateman' learned from your grandmother.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 07:59 AM

If Charles Seeger was at least as left wing as A L Lloyd, then my interpretation of Lloyd's answer to his own questions looks reasonable.

Jim asks me to 'speak for myself'. I take his point. From my perspective, there appears to be heated disagreement about which definition of folk song is correct. At the risk of over-simplification, there appear to be two main positions:

1) Some people argue that a great deal of the music to which the label has been applied (eg by the Victorian and Edwardian collectors) actually originated on printed broadsheets, but argue that since it began to be passed down orally it counts as folk music. The arguments about origins rely on analysis of the style and content, and sometimes on tracing the events recounted to real life events as set down in newspapers (eg some 'goodnight' ballads, as in the Pettitt example).

2) Other people argue that this sort of definition widens the definition to a ridiculous degree. They deny that songs written for money count as folk music. They also assert that such songs are aesthetically inferior. People in this camp often argue that it is impossible to know the actual origins, and therefore a view that any piece originated on paper is not based on fact. However, given that in the 20th century some communities in which songs were both made and passed down orally existed, and that within these communities there was a sense of which songs were 'traditional' and which were not, and a sense of ownership, they argue that it is possible that the songs collected by the Victorians and Edwardians were originally made by 'the people' and have been passed down through an oral tradition over hundreds of years, conceding that some songs may have been made into broadsheets over time. The argument appears to go that it is possible, therefore this is how it happened. This tradition survived despite the fact that 'the people' in the centuries covered in detail by Roud, are known to have also sung popular tunes, deriving from commercial sources, including broadsheets, music hall, and the USA. I think that on this view a new song counts as 'folk' if it was made by people in the tradition, but I'm not sure about this.


3) Within the camp of those who believe that 'the folk' (excluding ballad writers from 'the folk') wrote song have disagreed about the precise process, with communal creation and communal re-creation being two suggestions).

I'll now rephrase my comment.

It is difficult, as an outsider, to decide which of the hotly debated definitions of 'folk music' in current circulation is the correct one. It is particularly difficult if one accepts the 'nobody knows' argument as expressed by some adherents of definition number two.

It is even more difficult in view of factors including but not limited to:

a) the international and possibly non-song (ie myths, folk story) origins and non-song for some of these songs, as possibly claimed by Child;

b) the ideas of Lloyd that some of them derive from Anglo Saxon, pre Norman Conquest traditions, which did not have rhyming songs at all, as far as I know. It was highly alliterative, used a lot of litotes and had a figure of speech called a 'kenning';

c) some of the discussion gets heated (!) and goes round in circles (guilty myself) and

d) there are problems with some of the evidence in terms of tinkering, selectivity and other factors.

For a comparative beginner, like myself, Roud's 30-odd page introductor discussion is valuable and helpful. His history of collectors is also useful, not least as it gives some idea of how the definitional quagmire came about.

I think I stand by my point about 'folk music' being a social construct, but perhaps I would amend it to refer to this producing difficulties in agreeing a commonly acceptable definition.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,just another guest
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 08:03 AM

Two hundred years ago did the music of the pleasure gardens, broadsheets, hymns and Percy's reliques have 'a lot to do with each other'?

Other than sometimes finding way their social singing in the way that the sources for karaoke, football songs etc were in the late 20th century.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,just another guest
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 08:17 AM

That was to Jack Campin.

To Brian Peters. Probably mainly "hits of the day, Music Hall, WW1 favourites" But as a kid on the chara' how did I learn some of them?

Ten years later we thought it was a good laugh to sing "While Shepherds Attached to the tune of 'On Ilkley Moor". One of that generation of adults on the coach told us that it was 'traditional'. Since that was pre West Gallery revival I suspect that they knew it from the oral tradition.


I don't see how, as a social practice, it was that much different from comming back from market singing songs that included things that were hits of the day in the pleasure gardens or on broadsheet.

If an interest is in songs in oral tradition why not call it that?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 08:17 AM

Two hundred years ago did the music of the pleasure gardens, broadsheets, hymns and Percy's reliques have 'a lot to do with each other'?

Pleasure garden songs were printed on broadsides, so an obvious connection there. 'Reliques' was based on written sources and available only to a small section of society; setting aside Child's enthusiasm, it has only marginal relevance to folk song. Hymns were generally sung from hymn books.

I'm not sure of your point here.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 08:18 AM

Shepherds Watched of course.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,just another guest
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 08:28 AM

My point is that if one can't identify what in the repertoire originated amongst 'the folk' and that Roud and other show that a lot of what was collected from the oral tradition came from elsewhere why not, as in my last post, regard it as 'songs passed on in an oral tradition'. It doesn't stop ethnousicologists picking it apart.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 08:30 AM

"Ten years later we thought it was a good laugh to sing "While Shepherds Attached to the tune of 'On Ilkley Moor". One of that generation of adults on the coach told us that it was 'traditional'."

And, like most children, I found it highly amusing to sing the 'washed their socks' version of 'Shepherds' - I don't remember ever seeing that in a book either

"I don't see how, as a social practice, it was that much different from comming back from market singing songs that included things that were hits of the day in the pleasure gardens or on broadsheet."

Technically, it isn't. Football chants, children's playground rhymes, and back-of-the-bus choruses (does anyone still sing on the back seat of the bus?) all include elements you could probably call 'traditional'. The difference is that, where singing was once a vital part of everyday life across large swathes of the wider community, it is now limited to a few special situations.

"If an interest is in songs in oral tradition why not call it that?"

For years many of us preferred the term 'traditional' to 'folk'. Steve Roud himself said at the book launch that, having felt the same way for years, he now felt ready to reclaim 'folk'.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 08:45 AM

"Aargh, no, not that!"
Tanks for making my point so succinctly Brian
Folk song a no go area on a site dedicated to folk traditions - doncha juust love the logic of that one ?
There is basically one definition of folk song and a few refinements - everything else is based on the idea that we don't need a definition - the "Singing horse" school of thought
Folk song is a label you put on a type of song you put on your tim f you wish people to avail themselves of what you are promoting
Without that label, you remove from them the right to choose - simple as that
No wonder we are regarded as a minority group of misfits

"Sorry", can't stay.
I've just got home from a glorious worshop on traditional song which has included some of the best singing I've heard for some time and am now heading for a display of Irish and English language singing which I know will set my head ringing with song for the rest of the month - all because the organisers know what folk song is and are not afraid to say so
Have a good afternoon
JIm


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 09:31 AM

To bring the discussion back to the subject of the thread:

As I am sure most of you know, Roud has a section on Percy and his 'Reliques'.

He says it was a keystone of the Romantic movement in Europe, as well as being cited as the founding document of ballad studies in Britain.

Roud says (p43/4): 'It can be justly claimed that the Reliques, as published, is completely useless in our attempts to understand ballads or folk song in his time.'

The word 'tinkered' appears in Roud's comments on Percy, with a comment to the effect that this was a persistent thread in folk song studies. Roud says a lot more, but for me this shows what a useful text Roud's book is for a beginner.

Also as a beginner, I am aware that Child made use of Percy, which makes me wonder how 'right' Child may be. This is what Brian hints at (08.17am).


I wanted to compare what Lloyd said on the topic, but neither Percy nor Reliques are in Lloyd's index, and he has very little to say about Child.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 09:32 AM

I have heard group singing on a bus twice in the last few years. One was a bunch of young Christian women on a trip from Glasgow to Iona whose repertoire seemed to come entirely from "Singing Together" - rather sweet. The other was on a late night service from Edinburgh to the Borders where a slightly sloshed young woman led the whole bus in a singalong of Dougie Maclean's "Caledonia", prompted by a video played on her iPad.

Both made the trip more fun.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 09:41 AM

"Aargh, no, not that!"
Tanks for making my point so succinctly Brian
Folk song a no go area on a site dedicated to folk traditions...


I'm sure you realise, Jim, that my 'Aargh!' comment referred to the endless, circular and often bad-tempered discussions on the subject 'What is folk?' that you and I (and other participants on this thread) have been involved with over many years on this forum. Having initiated the present thread and been a regular contributor to it, I'm hardly trying to shut down sensible debate, but that question has me rolling my eyes.

"I've just got home from a glorious worshop on traditional song which has included some of the best singing I've heard for some time ... all because the organisers know what folk song is and are not afraid to say so"

I've been a to a few good weekends like that in England, too. At the last one, three weeks ago in Yorkshire, we had Michael McGonigle and Phil Callery over from your side of the water, amongst other distinguished singers.

In a month I'll be off to Whitby folk week where I look forward to hearing Keven and Ellen Mitchell, Will Noble, Peta Webb and Ken Hall, and other wonderful singers. The last time I was there the festival had me host an afternoon of English singing, with Will Noble, Will Duke, Di Henderson, Arthur Knevett and Ruth & Sadie Price. I think you'd have enjoyed that; I hope you have a fine time at the session you're heading for.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,just another guest
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 10:26 AM

Some feel that reaching for a dictionary makes for dull discussion, but I think usage of terms is the cause of some disagreement here,

'Traditional', in the sense of handed down seems the best term for what people here are mainly interested in. It doesn't exclude songs having started transmission in written form.

It wouldn't do for Roud's book because that includes a lot about the sources from which songs may have been inserted into he handing-on process and mentions people singing from those sources.

'Folk' isn't much use without an adjective. 'Common folk' (as opposed, maybe, to 'rich folk or 'posh folk') seems to be what people mean. Setting aside the need for another adjective I think 'Folk Song' does work for Roud's book in the sense that it is a social history of singing in communities.

However, 'Folk Song' doesn't work for Jim as a title. I think because he wants to restrict the term to music created by the 'common folk'

For me the problem with folk is not 'what is folk?' but 'who are/were folk?' So far as creative origins is concerned one aspect of that is that having a good voice or an ability with words may have allowed someone who prospects were to be an agricultural labourer or factory worker to be a paid performer or broadside seller (or writer). Doing it for money.

(by the way I agree with almost everything Pseudonymous is posting)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 13 Jul 18 - 10:55 AM

Well, at the risk of eroding my 'fan base' { :) ] I'm just off to a 'carnival', at which music is invited/welcome. I'm taking a tambourine and some shakers. It's linked to other events up and down the country. If Bert were still here, I have a feeling he would have been at one or other of them.


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