mudcat.org: New Book: Folk Song in England
Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeawe

Post to this Thread - Printer Friendly - Home
Page: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] [26] [27] [28] [29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34] [35] [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41] [42]


New Book: Folk Song in England

Richard Mellish 01 Oct 17 - 04:50 AM
Steve Gardham 01 Oct 17 - 08:13 AM
Steve Gardham 01 Oct 17 - 08:36 AM
Steve Gardham 01 Oct 17 - 08:39 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Oct 17 - 08:46 AM
Lighter 01 Oct 17 - 08:54 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Oct 17 - 08:59 AM
Steve Gardham 01 Oct 17 - 09:26 AM
Steve Gardham 01 Oct 17 - 09:27 AM
Steve Gardham 01 Oct 17 - 09:29 AM
Brian Peters 01 Oct 17 - 10:00 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Oct 17 - 11:28 AM
Jim Carroll 01 Oct 17 - 11:30 AM
Steve Gardham 01 Oct 17 - 12:26 PM
Steve Gardham 01 Oct 17 - 12:33 PM
Jim Carroll 01 Oct 17 - 01:24 PM
Lighter 01 Oct 17 - 01:28 PM
r.padgett 01 Oct 17 - 01:44 PM
Steve Gardham 01 Oct 17 - 02:12 PM
Brian Peters 01 Oct 17 - 02:23 PM
Jim Carroll 01 Oct 17 - 02:49 PM
Steve Gardham 01 Oct 17 - 02:53 PM
Steve Gardham 01 Oct 17 - 03:06 PM
Brian Peters 01 Oct 17 - 03:21 PM
Vic Smith 01 Oct 17 - 05:04 PM
Vic Smith 01 Oct 17 - 05:59 PM
Jim Carroll 01 Oct 17 - 07:41 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Oct 17 - 03:49 AM
Brian Peters 02 Oct 17 - 05:48 AM
Brian Peters 02 Oct 17 - 05:50 AM
Steve Gardham 02 Oct 17 - 07:49 AM
Steve Gardham 02 Oct 17 - 07:51 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Oct 17 - 08:22 AM
GUEST 02 Oct 17 - 10:18 AM
GUEST 02 Oct 17 - 10:23 AM
Brian Peters 02 Oct 17 - 11:12 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Oct 17 - 12:55 PM
Steve Gardham 02 Oct 17 - 01:11 PM
Steve Gardham 02 Oct 17 - 02:08 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Oct 17 - 02:28 PM
Steve Gardham 02 Oct 17 - 02:37 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Oct 17 - 03:38 AM
Brian Peters 03 Oct 17 - 04:25 AM
Vic Smith 03 Oct 17 - 06:01 AM
Vic Smith 03 Oct 17 - 06:24 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Oct 17 - 06:38 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Oct 17 - 06:50 AM
Vic Smith 03 Oct 17 - 07:07 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Oct 17 - 08:51 AM
Vic Smith 03 Oct 17 - 09:35 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:






Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 04:50 AM

The sorts of songs that originally captured our interest and that were the main subject of Lloyd's book covered more or less the same range as those that the collectors in the late 1800s and early 1900s regarded as folk songs; but those were already not all of a single sort.

The big ballads tell stories that are often many centuries old. Many of them deal with the affairs of kings, queens, lords and ladies. Some involve magic. The earliest known versions as ballads typically date from the 1600s or 1700s.

The songs about shepherds, sailors, lovers separated by class-conscious parents, etc first appeared (as far as anyone can tell, pace Jim) in stage plays or in the pleasure gardens in the late 1700s or early 1800s and then on broadsides, or else originally on broadsides having been written specifically for that market.

Those two genres are fairly distinct, although there is some overlap. But both met the collectors' ill-defined criteria, both appeal to us nowadays, and both would presumably have qualified for Walter Pardon etc as proper folk songs.

What they have in common is that, by the time they were collected, they had knocked around for long enough to benefit from some continuity and selection, and generally from some variation. Continuity is implicit in the fact that they survived to be collected. Selection caused huge numbers of other broadside ballads to fall by the wayside. Variation is a mixed blessing. With some songs it has given us numerous delightfully different versions, but it has also caused some of them to be manifestly incomplete or not to make sense.

Nowadays we delight in singing and listening to these songs (as well as studying them); but in the same performance situations we also sing and hear songs from the music halls and songs written in modern times. The music hall songs were too new to be of interest to the early collectors but by now they have at least been subject to continuity and selection, if not to much variation. The same is already happening with some of the songs written by such people as Ewan MacColl and Cyril Tawney (and Woody Guthrie over the Pond). We are already selecting those that have sufficient appeal. And variation is happening: I have heard small changes in some of Cyril Tawney's songs as now being sung.

As I observed above, however, there have often been few steps of continuity and variation. Joe Rae's (Gutcher on here) present-day version of the Daemon Lover is almost word for word as printed by Scott, even including the four verses due to Laidlaw that Child saw fit to exclude.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 08:13 AM

Very eloquently expressed, Richard. The only thing I could add to that currently is that much of the more drastic variation is down to rewriting by the broadside ballad writers, which is what I was referring to in my recycling comment earlier, and what will be one of the main thrusts of my next paper at the Sheffield broadside day on the 25th November.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 08:36 AM

Jim,
I can find very little to disagree with in what you have written here. The fact remains that current academic and scholarly study puts the published corpus of traditional English folk song down to commercial origins of some sort. However, ultimately the origins of any creation cannot be proven and that includes Shakespeare's plays and many other works of art. Sometimes you have to simply take the word of those who have studied the material in great detail and come to these conclusions of origin.

Double standards. The agricultural union short-lived songs are folk songs but not my farm hand who wrote songs about his farming experiences?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 08:39 AM

>>>>>>You suggest we all go and read Steve's book as if it is somehow going to suddenly cause the scales to fall from our eyes and we will all be enlightened<<<<<<< Jim

Not at all, Jim. Steve asks more questions than provides answers. I suggested it simply because that is the purpose of this thread and I'm sure he would be delighted if we used it as a stimulus to discussion.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 08:46 AM

"Very eloquently expressed, "
Seconded, but I'm not sure it alters or even challenges anything I've said so far
Liking or singing music hall or MacColl songs does not make them 'folk', which is a process, not a preference or type of song
Some of MacColl's best songs teeterd on the edge of becoming traditional in the communities that still retained a living Tradition, but they will always be MacColl's songs because they bore his name and his copyright, no matter what changes take place - change isn't tradition either
Unfortunately, one of the aspects introduced by the revival is that of personal ownership - many come with the stamp "arranged by" - this includes traditional songs
Unlike the old compositions, song are coming into the world still-born - communities can no longer take ownership of them as the traditional communities did
It still irks me that one of the greatest finds of the twentieth century, The Maid and the Palmer', given by a travelling man who lived in a derelict house and died of the effects of malnutrition, can be copyrighted
If that is the case with a centuries old ballad, what chance does a newly composed song have of becoming 'ours'?
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 08:54 AM

> The "1954" definition isn't too far wrong

Actually, it isn't "wrong" at all (or "right" for that matter), because songs empirically exist that fit it to a T.

It's a definition that says, "this what we specialists who agree on this definition mean by "folksong" and what you should mean too." It *isn't* the kind that tells what the word means in general usage: as we know, there are many such meanings - sad, perhaps, but certainly true. It's also true that there's no way to enforce this definition - also sad, perhaps, but true.

The point of dispute is whether songs included in the 1954 def. are the *only* ones that "deserve" the name of "folksong."

A related, possibly more interesting question, is why certain songs are *called* folksongs - and by whom.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 08:59 AM

"Steve asks more questions than provides answers."
I hope so, but Steve is only one of many writers who have gone to great lengths to understand folk song and if we waited for all the new ideas to come forth we's be standing around like Estragon and Vladimir, forever waiting for Godot.
I don't believe one Messiah exists who is going to produce all the answers
I find myself getting more and more depressed when I read some of the academic kite-flying that takes place (I'm not suggesting for one minute that Steve is doing this - personally, I would have been totally lost in working on our own collection if it hadn't been for his groundbreaking contribution)
Understanding our song tradition has to be as fluid and ongoing as was the tradition itself - a communal pool of ideas.
Jim Carroll
Luckily, I posted this and it didn't take, so I was able to read Lighter's fascinating contribution
See what I mean about pooling ideas?
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 09:26 AM

Must remember not to post on a weekend. Just lost a whole lot of posting because the server keeps going down for maintenance.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 09:27 AM

Try again.

I'm assuming we are all 100% in agreement on what Jim says here.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 09:29 AM

Regarding academics they often get it wrong. Their agendas are restricted by their superiors and they have schedules, agendas and time limits which other scholars don't have to bow to. A noted exception for me is Vic Gammon.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 10:00 AM

much of the more drastic variation is down to rewriting by the broadside ballad writers

A few years ago I researched the history of'The Wild Rover', helped along the way by both Jim and Steve G amongst others. Like a lot of older broadside pieces it began life as a very wordy, moralistic, thirteen-verse text written in the late seventeenth century by a known author (and yes, I do think this copy is most likely the origin). From there it went through various print incarnations over two centuries, getting shorter, more concise and telling a more effective story with each new edit. However, during the later history of the song it was also changed through what I could only conclude was oral traditional processing as well (the two are not of course incompatible), and acquired at least three distinct tunes, including a particularly attractive one in Ireland (as sung by Pat Usher) that made its way to Australia - where the song must have arrived independently several times. The well-known version is definitely a 1960s concoction, though.

That's just one example of how different kinds of process can affect the evolution of one song. It doesn't have to be 'one or the other', and we don't need to take to the barricades about it.

Steve Roud's book mentions the nice example of a rather arty song, 'The Shepard Adonis' becoming the localized 'Shepherd of the Downs' in the repertoire of the Copper Family. We don't know how or when the change took place but, since it appears there isn't a broadside copy of the 'Downs' text, and oral versions are vanishingly scarce, perhaps it was indeed a Sussex countryman who amended it?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 11:28 AM

"I do think this copy is most likely the origin"
Can I just make clear that I am not denying the probable broadside origins of some of our folksongs - some of them still bear the heavy handprint of the broadside hack - it's Steve G's percentages I dispute.
One of the problems I have is the question of literacy as evidence
Many of our singers, although able to read, still had difficulty with English - it was a second language when they were growing up and it showed when they wrote something out for you.
Some learned songs from "the Ballads" - song sheets sold at the fairs, but a number said they couldn't be trusted
Travellers were in an odd position, they were largely non-literate, but greatly responsible for putting songs into print
Mien McCarthy, from Kerry, described going to the printers in Tralee and reciting his father's songs over the counter to be printed out and sold
He also described putting songs into print by request "do you have any of your daddy's songs for sale?"
Length of "Wild Rover"
One of the most popular songs we recorded from Travellers was 'The Blind Beggar'
When I researched this I traced it as far as one of the longest broadsides I have ever come across (Percy, I think)
It was over sixty verses long and in two parts
The Travellers has it in the streamlined 8 or 9 verse version
Apropos of nothing, when Mikeen first sang it for us he was camped at the back of the Mile End Road in London, within five minutes walk of The Blind Beggar Pub
He was fascinated when he found out is was the hang-out of the notorious Kray Twins and permanently displayed a "No Travellers served here" sign
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 11:30 AM

Mikeen McCarthy, of course - bleedin' keyboard
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 12:26 PM

Just to clarify Jim's comment at 11.28.

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

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


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 12:33 PM

As no-one else has yet offered the author of The Demon Lover, if you go to the current Barbara Allen thread and read the late great Bruce Olsen's posting of 19th Feb 98, 11.41 pm you'll get his say on the matter.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 01:24 PM

"had their first extant manifestation on some form of commercial production in urban areas."
Sorry Steve - can you explain that
Are you still claiming they originated in print - sure;y not?
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 01:28 PM

>The well-known version is definitely a 1960s concoction, though.

When a friend returned from a year in Cork, ca1984, he said the version that he heard a good deal had the chorus slightly revised into

"So it's no, nay, never,
(Right up yer arse!)
No, never no more...."

Otherwise, the "well-known version."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: r.padgett
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 01:44 PM

Er the living tradition then Lighter?

Ray

A folk song is a folk song ~ what else can you can them?

Ray


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 02:12 PM

Really, Jim? We know the songs came from a wide variety of sources, mostly straight from the urban ballad writers but many first appeared in the theatre, pleasure gardens, supper rooms, music cellars, glee clubs, Music Hall, sheet music, songsters, etc., all commercial, in other words somebody was getting paid for their production, albeit only a shilling a go in the case of the broadside writers. The further you go back the more actually originated in London, for obvious reasons. Your 'Blind Beggar' for instance.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 02:23 PM

As no-one else has yet offered the author of The Demon Lover

Oops, that quiz question was addressed to me and I missed my chance of glory. Laurence Price, 1657, is the answer you're looking for. I did wonder for some time whether LP might have based it on an existing ballad (erecting his verbose and moralistic scaffolding around a traditional core), but it looks as though what happened there was a similar story to 'The Wild Rover'. I hadn't seen that Bruce O post before, actually.

And yes, I've heard the 'right up yer arse' chorus as well. Saves the sore hands.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 02:49 PM

Don't believe a word of it Steve - I'm afraid you're going to have to prove it - otherwise, we are stuck with the fact that we have nog got th faintest idea where they originated
We know that Mikeen to his father's songs and gave them to a printer which at the very least, shows that printing traditional songs for sale was a two way street
I don't believe for one minute that the hacks whose doggerel fills half a dozen of our shelves were anywhere capable of producing Sam Larner's or Harry Cox's or Walter's or Phil Tanner's gems with their obvious familiarity with the vernacular, trade names, work practices, folk-lore - and the hundred and one personal experiences recounted in the songs, often in intimate detail
It would take a hundred social historians a hundred years to fe that familiar with them
So far, all you can offer is the earliest date they went into print.
Are you really this certain that working people were incapable of expressing themselves poetically?
Not my experience - but maybe the Irish are more creative than the English!!
You are returning our people back to the old image of a creatively cultureless class
Shame on you
Even Child recognised who the songs belonged to when he called his ballads "Popular" - of the people, not how far they reached in the nineteenth century charts
Pitts referred to his output as "country songs" an did Issac Walton.
THe term "folk" was devised by Thom to identify it's home-made common origins rather than stall-bought artifacts
As I said - don't believe a word of it.
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 02:53 PM

I think you need to explain that last comment for the benefit of the uninitiated, Brian.

Price and Martin Parker occasionally parodied each other's work and I have evidence that they sometimes borrowed stanzas from tradition and from earlier ballads, but the vast majority of their output appears to have been original.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 03:06 PM

Jim, we've been through all of this before and you have deliberately misunderstood my comments exactly the same way numerous times. I have plenty of evidence as you well know, some of it mentioned above, that working people were often very creative, by way of song writing. It just so happens that the vast majority of them for one reason or another didn't get their songs into print and therefore they weren't spread abroad like the urban ballads. John Clare is an excellent example. Apart from his poetry and writing down the trad songs he came across he also rewrote quite a few songs in Burns' fashion, but none of them were ever collected in oral tradition. We are sometimes lucky to find them in old manuscripts but unfortunately very few made it into oral tradition to be collected and published.

>>>>don't believe a word of it<<<< Your prerogative, Jim.

'origins' as you well know have no bearing whatsoever on the oral tradition.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 03:21 PM

I think you need to explain that last comment for the benefit of the uninitiated, Brian.

Er... yes, could be misunderstood...

No need to clap four times!

Interesting comment re Parker & Price.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 05:04 PM

Working with Steve Roud on the "Sussex Traditions" project, he makes it clear that any statements that we make on our website and database should be based on evidence that we can back up, whatever our presumptions or what we would like to believe or any statements by personal contacts or socio-political agenda that we bring with us. As I said above, I have not read this book yet but it is here waiting for a less busy time. However, I have read quite a number of his articles and know his approach pretty well.
The person who brings an evidential approach to the exchanges above is Steve Gardham. Interesting and well-argued thread, though, and 100+ posts without descending to insults is encouraging for Mudcat.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 05:59 PM

"THE LITTLE SHIRT MY MOTHER MADE FOR ME"
This song was written by Harry Wincott. It was recorded by music hall singers not long after it was written. Wincott was born in London on New Year's Day 1867. He wrote a number of songs that have had an enduring popularity including "The Old Dun Cow", "Mademoiselle from Armentières" and the one I give above. My dad (born in rural Oxfordshire in 1914) used to sing it frequently around the house and as a youngster it drove me mad, but he sang it so frequently that I learned it word for word by osmosis. When I started encouraging the old singers of Sussex to come to our folk club, I started to hear it again. George Belton might sing it next to "The Bold Fisherman". George Spicer might sing it next to "The Barley Mow" Spicer's tune was substantially the same as my dad's but he had an extra verse that Wincott did not write. Belton's tune and rhythm was noticeably different from the way my dad sang it. The words all three sang were different from the way it was written. Belton had an extra verse that Wincott did not write. Bradley Kincaid's version (recorded 1933) and Wilf Carter's (1942) brought it into circulation again but not as much as Marty Robbins' from 1983. For a while it became a Country music standard.
In sense that we know who wrote it this is not a folk song. However, it behaves like a folk song; it has entered the oral tradition; it changes and develops; in the Sussex versions it becomes localised in Brighton; the people who sing it have no idea who wrote it or where it came from.
Steve Roud has included the various changed versions of The Little Shirt Me Mother Made For Me that were collected by prominent and well-respected song collectors from highly regarded traditional singers in Sussex.
Some here will right that this is right; others will say that it is wrong. I wonder how much it matters.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 07:41 PM

"Jim, we've been through all of this before and you have deliberately misunderstood my comments exactly the same way numerous times"
We have been though this and I haven't deliberately misunderstood you Steve
After fifty off years involved with folk son I would have to be pretty stupid to deliberately misunderstand anything and I find it extremely insulting that you should suggest such a thing
You passede off the Irish songmakers as retired people scribbling down poems, broadside hacks as revolutionaries making songs for the people, seagiong and farmeroking hacks which enabled them to come to terms with the vernacular and the work practices, English workers having no time to make songs because of pressure of work...... a series of off the top of the head excuses to explain the anomalies.... not a single shred of evidence beyond earliest
I have no intention of getting into a slanging match with you, but please don't insult me by saying I deliberately did anything
Pat and I have carried out thirty years of work with English and Irish singers, some of them still part of a living tradition.
I have presented our findings as best I can - that is what our singers told us - the Clare singers, the Travellers Walter and others.
I have not attempted to link origins with the oral tradition, so why bring it up unless you wish to throw up another smokescreen?
If you make such a groundbreaking statement which contradicts all previous opinions and knowledge, you really do need to back it up with more than insults and dismissal - anybody who claims a love of the songs and those who gave them to us owe them at least that.
Where is your evidence that our songs were made by hacks " all commercial, in other words somebody was getting paid for their production,"
You once said our folksongs were no different than those put out by music industry - now that's what I call insulting
"I wonder how much it matters."
Quite a lot to those of us who wish to understand it Vic
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 03:49 AM

I don't wish to extend this - I have made my position quite clear on the idea that our folk songs originated in print for money
I'll add a couple of points and leave it there for perhaps less acrimonious discussion
Steve mentioned Burns, who was collecting songs from unlettered Scots country people which he gave to James Johnson for publication in his 'Scots Musical Museum', the title of which declares the songs to be old
I dug out Mary Ellen Brown's 'Burns and the Tradition last night - this is her quote on Burns.

In a famous biographical letter to Dr Moore written after he had received acclaim as a poet, Burns described the influences he had come under when he was a boy and specifically mentions his mother and an old woman, loosely connected with the family, who provided him with an early stock of songs, tales, legends, beliefs, proverbs, and customs:

"In my infant and boyish days too, I owed much to an old Maid of my Mother's, remarkable for her ignorance, credulity and superstition. - She had, I suppose, the largest collection in the county of tales and songs concerning devils, ghosts, fairies, brownies, witches, warlocks, spunkies, kelpies, elf-candles, dead-lights, wraiths, apparitions, cantraips, giants, inchanted towers, dragons and other trumpery."

The oral artistic creations, cumulatively built and recreated, passed on from generation to generation, stable in general form but varied in individual performance, were his birthright and a natural and universal part of the general society in which he lived - where traditional custom, belief, and practice dominated and overt creativity and innovation were not sought. This traditionally oriented way of life and the oral artistic communications it supported and sustained played a far more signifi¬cant role in shaping and determining the directions of Burns' artistry than has been recognised.
Like all writers or creative artists, Burns was not an isolate; and he cannot be realistically divorced from the milieu in which he lived. He was a product of what had gone before and what was and his artistry often lay in uniquely blending, juxtaposing, or representing this. He was a part of a long tradition.

Steve had already conceded that the Bothie worker made songs by the hundreds unaided by printed versions - if them, why not other agricultural workers
I also dug out 'I have a Yong Suster', popular song and the Middle English Lyric, (Karin Boklund Lagopoulou, which examines song-making as far back as the 1300s and discusses at length oral composition in pre-literate Early England, comparing it to that common in Eastern Europe,.
My first clash with Steve was when he asked me disparagingly "do you believe that romantic rubbish" - not a good start to a sharing of ideas and experiences.
THere are a lot of us "romantics" about.
Time to mend fences perhaps
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 05:48 AM

Jim wrote:
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

This gap in our knowledge is one that Roud's book sets out to fill, using sources like John Clare - who, in a happy coincidence as far as this thread is concerned, wrote down a full version of The Demon Lover, as sung by his mother in the first half of the 18th century.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 05:50 AM

Reposting for clarity with italics corrected:

Jim wrote:
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

This gap in our knowledge is one that Roud's book sets out to fill, using sources like John Clare - who, in a happy coincidence as far as this thread is concerned, wrote down a full version of The Demon Lover, as sung by his mother in the first half of the 18th century.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 07:49 AM

>>>>>I have not attempted to link origins with the oral tradition,<<<<
>>>>>>THe term "folk" was devised by Thom to identify it's home-made common origins rather than stall-bought artifacts<<<<<<
>>>>>>he also rewrote quite a few songs in Burns' fashion<<<<<

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 07:51 AM

Oh dear, that's nothing like what I posted. I give up!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 08:22 AM

Clare is one man talking about one song - you are talking about the entire repertoire
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 10:18 AM

I have ordered this book.am looking forward to it. I have learned a lot on this thread and have enjoyed it until it became an argument..why DOES that happen ?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 10:23 AM

Contention


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 11:12 AM

Clare is one man talking about one song - you are talking about the entire repertoire

There's more than one song in Clare's MSS if you care to sift through his poetic 'improvements'. But my point was that, although 18th / 19th C oral evidence is pretty scarce, at least Roud is trying to find it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 12:55 PM

"There's more than one song in Clare's MSS i"
I know that Brian, I was referring to Steve's 'Demon Lover'
I also know evidence is difficult to fing so we must make do with common sense and the little information we have
Burns was on the sport and described a creative oral tradition.
Karin Boklund Lagopoulou describes similar dating back as far as the 1300s - presumably she has done her research
Throughout my time in folksong, there has never been any question that "the folk" made their own sons - Steve's in a new one on me and all he offers are earliest publication dates
Child in the mis 19th century describes the songs as "popular and the broadsides as dunghills and he was on the spot at the time - I'll buy that
Even Catnach described them as country songs
The general level of broadside poeetry has always been described as 'Doggerel' - we have a large number, from Roxborough to Ashton and HollowaY AND Black, none of which hold a candle to our folk songs
If there's nothing else, the poof of the pudding will do for now
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 01:11 PM

Child assumed that most of the songs he anthologised had come directly from oral tradition and that is why he used the word 'popular'. However a large chunk of them came from broadsides either directly or indirectly. He included those he selected on stylistic grounds mainly. Of course no one disputes that the bulk of the material on street literature could be described as dunghills.

>>>The general level of broadside poetry has always been described as 'doggerel'<<< Mainly by literary people I would add. When you have studied hundreds of thousands of examples of street literature you will realise that the level of poetry , idiom and language are pretty much the same as folksong.....As I rode out...Come all ye....far more common on broadsides than in folk song. The only difference is that those that entered oral tradition were the ones of value to the people that have become shaped by the people.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 02:08 PM

And in Roxburghe, Ashton and Holloway and Black you will find versions of many folk songs, but unless you already know the folk songs they evolved into you would have great trouble picking them out from the rest.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 02:28 PM

"And in Roxburghe, Ashton and Holloway and Black you will find versions of many folk songs"
You'll find some Steve, but they all are invariably broadside-type versions as unsingable as the rest, leaving me with the conclusion (everything else being taken into consideration) that theay are as likely as not to have ben taken from source singers rather than the other way round
If thye had been capable of making good songs there would be far more than there are
Child recognieed the ballad genre as "popular" (from the people) whether they appeared on broadside or not - print was all he had.
Bronso ices a far more overall view of the repertoire because he had access to field recordings - he always said he had enough for an additional volume
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Oct 17 - 02:37 PM

>>>>> but they all are invariably broadside-type versions as unsingable as the rest, leaving me with the conclusion (everything else being taken into consideration) that they are as likely as not to have been taken from source singers rather than the other way round<<<<< Am I reading this wrong or is it a contradiction?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: GUM SHELLAC
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 03:38 AM

Sorry Steve I had that the wrong way round, not you
I thumbed through Holloway and Black last night and found there to be very few songs that have entrered the tradition - a few that could have had they not been so ham-fisted
Ironically, the few that I know to have been sung around the revival were the ones taken up by singers usually disapproved of by academics - Bert had a couple and I spotted two sung bt Critics Group members
I'm off to hospital for a hip operation of Thursday so I'm only going to be able to take tis so far, so I'm going to cover some of the important bits of our findings - ignore me or indulge me
THe Irish Travellers were the first group we recorded in 1973 - they had a living tradition, a fairly large spread repertoire of native rural Irish, political, own-made songs with English and Scottish ones thrown in
It turns out from ours and Tom Munnelly's experiences that they were major players in singing and passing on Child ballads and they were the most important group to distribute songs by selling them at the fairs - almost exclusively a Traveller occupation
The first man we recorded was "Pop's" Johnny Connors, from Wexford
He came from a singing and musical family and was related to the piper, Johnny Doran
He was a Traveller activist, fighting for sites in England alongside Gratton Puxon - he had been imprisoned in Birmingham for his activities in the late sixties and it was there he first learned to read - he wrote an autobiographical piece that was included in Jeremy Sandford's 'Gypsies'
He had leeaned his songs largely from family members - his Uncle made songs about his trade of catching and skinning rabbits and selling them for their fur
His brother-in-law, Little Bill Cassidy, was one of the most stylish singers we ever recorded (I'm pretty sure Brian has heard Bill)
One of the earliest songs he sang for us was the Traveller version of Edward - 'What Put the Blood' - he called it 'Cain and Abel'
He introduced it with this remarkable statement:
"I'd say the song, myself, goes back to.... depicts Cain and Abel in the Bible and where Our Lord said to Cain.... I think this is where the Travellers Curse come from too, because Our Lord says to Cain, "Cain", says Our Lord, "you have slain your brother, and for this", says Our Lord, says he, "and for this, be a wanderer and a fugitive on the earth".
"Not so Lord" says he, "this punishment is too severe, and whoever finds me", says he, "will slay me, "says he "or harass me".
"Not so", says Our Lord, says he, "whoever finds Cain and punishes or slains (sic) Cain, I will punish them sevenfold".
And I think this is where the Travellers curse come from.
Anyway, the song depicts this, this er....
1 call it Cain and Abel anyway; there never was a name for the song, but that what I call it, you know, the depiction of Cain and Abel."

He described Travellers singing style at length, which he referred to as 'the Yawn':

(tune sung) That's the 'yawn' in the voice, dragged away, the yawn in the voice.
The 'yawn' is in the pipes, the uilleann pipes, which is among te oldest instruments among Travelling people, or among the world, is the pipes.
The breeding generation belonging to me, the Dorans, the Cashes, its all traditional musicians, this is in history.
Denis Turner Can you give us an example?
P J C. I gave you an example a few minutes ago, but I'll give it again.


The song he refers to he called 'The Green Shades of Yann' - an English language version of the Irish language The Brown Thorn An Droighneán Donn, which has been completely 'Travellerised' and set among the caravans and ponies rather than the usual rural setting.
Johnny was typical of the singers we questioned about their songs, knowledgeable, articulate and with strong opinions about them - not the passive "song birds" who learned songs from print and parroted what they'd heard uncritically - his main difference was that, up to a few yeears earlier ha=e was totally unable to read a word.
He also made songs, as did many Travellers na put stories to sme of them, like the description of a feud between two families, 'Poor Old Man' which can be heard on our CD 'From Puck ot Appleby'
His best song was a pride-filled evocation of the Travellers, Gum Shellac - here with note

Gum Shellac
(Roud 2508) 'Pop's' Johnny Connors, Wexford Traveller


We are the travelling people
Like the Picts or Beaker Folk,
The men in Whitehall thinks we're parasites
But tinker is the word.
With our gum shellac alay ra lo,
Move us on you boyoes.

All the jobs in the world we have done,
From making Pharaoh's coffins
To building Birmingham.
With our gum shellac ala lay sha la,
Wallop it out you heroes.

We have mended pots and kettles
And buckets for Lord Cornwall,
But before we'd leave his house me lads,
We would mind his woman and all.
With our gum shellac alay ra la,
Wallop it out me hero.

Well I have a little woman
And a mother she is to be,
She gets her basket on her arm,
And mooches the hills for me.
With our gum shellac alay ra la,
Wallop it out me hero.

Dowdled verse.

We fought the Romans,
The Spanish and the Danes,
We fought against the dirty Black and Tans
And knocked Cromwell to his knees.
With our gum shellac alay ra la,
Wallop it out me heroes.

Well, we're married these twenty years,
Nineteen children we have got.
Ah sure, one is hardly walking
When there's another one in the cot.
Over our gum shellac alay ra lo,
Get out of that you boyoes.

We have made cannon guns in Hungary,
Bronze cannons in the years BC
We have fought and died for Ireland
To make sure that she was free.
With a gum shellac ala lay sha la,
Wallop it out me heroes.

We can sing a song or dance a reel
No matter where we roam,
We have learned the Emperor Nero
How to play the pipes
Way back in the days of Rome.
With our gum shellac ala lay sha la,
Whack it if you can me boyoes.

Dowdled verse.

Note
'Pop's' Johnny Connors, the singer of this song, is also the composer. He was an activist in the movement for better conditions for Travellers in the 1960s and was a partici¬pant in the Brownhills eviction, about which he made the song, The Battle of Brownhills, which tells of an unofficial eviction in the Birmingham area which led to the death of two Traveller children. An account of part of his experiences on the road is to be found in Jeremy Sandford's book Gypsies under the heading, Seven Weeks of Childhood. This was written while Johnny was serving a prison sentence in Winson Green Prison in the English Midlands. He said that further chapters of an intended biography were confiscated by the prison authorities and never returned to him on his release.
Gum shellac is a paste formed by chewing bread, a technique used by unscrupulous tinsmiths to supposedly repair leaks in pots and pans. When polished, it gives the ap¬pearance of a proper repair but, if the vessel is filled with water, the paste quickly disintegrates, giving the perpetrator of the trick just enough time to escape with his payment.

I've taken too long over this, but I think it important in the context of how I believe a living tradition worked - gathering, singing, passing on old songs and making new ones
I know this happened in Ireland, but she is our nearest neighbour and has been influenced by us for 8 centuries ? I see no reason why we can't take what happened here as a guide for what could well have happened in the English countryside
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 04:25 AM

His brother-in-law, Little Bill Cassidy, was one of the most stylish singers we ever recorded (I'm pretty sure Brian has heard Bill)

Indeed I have (recordings, anyway), and indeed he was!

Fascinating account, Jim.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 06:01 AM

I have been reading and thoroughly enjoying Martin Graebe's book on Rev, Sabine Baring-Gould, As I Roved Out [Signal, Oxford. ISBN 978-1-909930-53-7]. It is clearly the work of long meticulous research and is well written, based on evidence and devoid of speculation. If Martin has not found evidence for what aspects of what he has uncovered in his study of letters, manuscripts by and about this pivotal figure of the beginnings of the first revival then he states these clearly.
Just now, on page 165, I came across this paragraph that really stood out for me and I had to read it several times. It has direct relevance to the exchanges on this thread about the origins of folk song. Martin quotes a letter that Baring-Gould wrote to Lucy Broadwood from Lew Trenchard on 21st May 1891. He writes:-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 06:24 AM

(Continued from previous post sent in error)

I have no great opinion about the words of many of our Folk Songs. I find most of them (not all) are to be detected in Broadsides. Of these I have 5 thick vols. and I have gone through all the vols. in the Brit. Mus. They are coarse, vulgar things and void of poetry, but I find that the traditional versions are almost invariably better than the broadside versions.


Baring-Gould writing this 120 years ago seems to accord with modern evidence-based research findings that most of our songs started off in the broadsides but it was the ones that were taken up by the singers and entered into the oral tradition that they became shaped and rounded and became more expressive and voiced in the common tongue. Songs were altered consciously or unconsciously and most regularly improved from the printed broadside version. Additions were made to and parodies made of the original. Sets of words were sung to different melodies that suited the voice and taste of the singer. The huge creativity of the traditional singers found much more expression in the adaptation, development & improvement of existing pieces rather than the making of new pieces. Not that this did not happen as Jim has eloquently given an example above,


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 06:38 AM

C'mon Vic - it's like waiting for the other shoe to drop
Wail I'm waiting, perhaps I might proffer a possible scenario for traditional songs on broadsided
I Writer bases himself in a pub that is frequented by countrymen in for the markets, or Merchant seamen, or fishermen, or soldiers and either sits in on singing sessions, roughly scribbling down plots, some words, a verse to give a form - enough to make a full song - then takes what he has off and makes a song of it to suit the tastes of his customers
Only a guess, but so is everything else so far
I've always been fascinated with David Buchan's theory of their being bo set ballad texts, just plots and commonplaces - I don't think he presented his case too well, but I think it possible
I watched MacColl as he grew old and began to forget words, but I never once saw him dry up - he was so familiar with the stories of his songs as to make up the memory gaps as he went along
As a MacColl buff I was familiar enough to notce when he did this - a coupple of times either he or Peggy caught my eye and acknowledged that I'd noticed
This is what many singers did
If I get time later, I'll describe the two examples we have of how songs were made, along with the songs   
"Fascinating account, Jim"
Thank's Brian, there really plenty mor where that came from
Jim


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 06:50 AM

" adaptation, development & improvement"
I totally disagree with this Vic -at least until it is backed up with documented evidence rather than opinions
Baring Gould, Sharp, et al were working when the tradition was in sharp decline and there in so record whatever of them treating collecting songs as artifacts, the way a butterfly collector regards his trophies.
Sharp came the nearest with 'Conclusions' and there are a couple of nice quotes in Fox-Strangways to suggest that he felt a warmth for some of his informants, but one of the greatest holes in our knowledge is the lack of an input by the singers.
I'm afraid thisis beginning to feel like a return to the 'free as Bird Song era'
This is one of the most offensive statements I have ever come across from someone who really should have known better, a note to Lake of Col Fin from "the Vermont collection, New Green Mountain Songster by Phillips Barry in 1939:

"Popular tradition, however, does not mean popular origin. In the case of our ballad, the underlying folklore is Irish de facto, but not de-jure: the ballad is of Oriental and literary origin, and has sunk to the level of the folk which has the keeping of folklore. To put it in a single phrase, memory not invention is the function of the folk".   
JIm Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 07:07 AM

I totally disagree with this Vic -at least until it is backed up with documented evidence rather than opinions.

Then we will have to leave it, Jim. You are surrounded, here and in many books and articles, by massive amounts of evidence that, as you quote, "Popular tradition, however, does not mean popular origin" but you won't be moved, so further discussion would be pointless.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 08:51 AM

There is no "massive evidence" - only academic argument - we don't now how the songs were made or who made them, but personal experience has proved to me that 'the folk' - even those from the lowest regarded section of society, were well capable of making songs
These songs were made and sung as entertainment, just as Barbara Cartland and Charles Dickens wrote their books to entertain - two ends of a literary spectrum - at one end masses of social history and insight into the human condition, at the other, pink froth
One of the things that has been largely ignored about our folksongs is the social history they carry
If I want to know about the nuts and bolts of the Battle of the Nile, I go to the military records and scholarly studies of the subject
If I want to know how it felt for a ploughboy or weaver or land labourer to be conned into the army, stuck in a uniform, given a gun and thrust into the midst of a bloody battle, I go to the songs
Why on earth should a hack concern himself on such matters - it's not as if he was writing for a revolutionary anti-war rural or urban population who were lapping up such tragedies?
Same with all those social misalliance songs - what profit was there writing about some girl whining because her old man wouldn't let her marry the hired help?
These songs carry a feel of knowledge and emotion that reflects personal experience, expressed in a vernacular that rings of reality
I find it very easy to separate a genuine Irish song from an 'Oirish' one created by a hack
Harry Cox once sang 'Betsy the Serving Maid for MacColl and Lomax - when he finished he spat out "and that's how they thought of us" - that's what I call involvement in your art
When he sang Van Diemans Land he launched into a diatribe about the land seizures and Enclosures - again, identification that goes way beyond entertainment.
These songs became "ours" wherever they were sung - very few writers or poets have ever achieved that level of communication
If there is "masses amounts of evidence" - where is it - so far we have only the opinions of researchers and academics - outsiders all
Apart from everything else, these songs were circulated and being referred to centuries before we had universal literacy
People tend to forget that first performances of Hamlet and King Lear were being performed to the sweepings of the London streets - as late as the early twentieth century the 'Fit Ups and Travelling theatres were taking the same plays around to Irish villages in the areshole of nowhere for the delectation of small farmers and land labourers - the dumbing down of our society has a lot to answer for
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Oct 17 - 09:35 AM

Jim says
Harry Cox once sang 'Betsy the Serving Maid for MacColl and Lomax - when he finished he spat out "and that's how they thought of us" - that's what I call involvement in your art.

... and Vic reminds Jim that on his own admission, Harry learned nearly all of his songs from broadsides which were kept in a box on top of the wardrobe in his bedroom and that the songs were changed in his handling of them (which might be a fact that is more relevant to the discussion).

I'm afraid that I feel that Jim's long posts do not serve to clarify anything about the facts of the origins of the songs and his unwillingness to concede a single point that others have made here makes these interactions futile. I respect Jim's great knowledge and his huge contribution but cannot abide his dogmatism. It makes me feel that discussions with him are of the order of What Came First - the chicken or the egg? where looking into the faults inherent in the question are not addressed.
So, no more from me on this one.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
Next Page

  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 21 November 12:26 PM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.