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New Book: Folk Song in England

RTim 15 Dec 17 - 01:51 PM
Vic Smith 15 Dec 17 - 01:22 PM
Lighter 15 Dec 17 - 01:11 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Dec 17 - 12:49 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Dec 17 - 12:46 PM
Vic Smith 15 Dec 17 - 12:41 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Dec 17 - 12:26 PM
RTim 15 Dec 17 - 11:34 AM
Steve Gardham 15 Dec 17 - 11:12 AM
Steve Gardham 15 Dec 17 - 11:09 AM
Lighter 15 Dec 17 - 11:04 AM
Steve Gardham 15 Dec 17 - 10:59 AM
Howard Jones 15 Dec 17 - 10:57 AM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 15 Dec 17 - 10:43 AM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 15 Dec 17 - 10:42 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Dec 17 - 10:04 AM
Vic Smith 15 Dec 17 - 08:44 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Dec 17 - 08:43 AM
Howard Jones 15 Dec 17 - 08:07 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Dec 17 - 07:58 AM
Lighter 15 Dec 17 - 07:41 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Dec 17 - 07:38 AM
Richard Mellish 15 Dec 17 - 06:52 AM
Howard Jones 15 Dec 17 - 06:44 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Dec 17 - 06:11 AM
RTim 14 Dec 17 - 06:57 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Dec 17 - 03:14 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Dec 17 - 02:40 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Dec 17 - 02:13 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Dec 17 - 01:41 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Dec 17 - 08:48 AM
Lighter 14 Dec 17 - 08:42 AM
Vic Smith 14 Dec 17 - 06:32 AM
Vic Smith 14 Dec 17 - 06:23 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Dec 17 - 06:07 AM
GUEST,Jon Dudley 14 Dec 17 - 06:02 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 14 Dec 17 - 05:49 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Dec 17 - 04:12 AM
Steve Gardham 13 Dec 17 - 03:18 PM
GUEST,Jon Dudley 13 Dec 17 - 04:17 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Dec 17 - 04:07 AM
Steve Gardham 13 Dec 17 - 03:17 AM
Jon Dudley 13 Dec 17 - 02:50 AM
GUEST 13 Dec 17 - 02:39 AM
Steve Gardham 12 Dec 17 - 03:33 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Dec 17 - 10:29 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Dec 17 - 09:52 AM
Richard Mellish 12 Dec 17 - 09:29 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Dec 17 - 08:10 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Dec 17 - 07:04 AM
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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 01:51 PM

I am suddenly struck with the similarity of the discussions here with other folk related discussions that have happened over the years.

I refer to whether Morris Dancing should be preformed by Women, and the more recent controversy of Backing Up in Border Morris - Historical arguments abound in both cases - but really, it nearly all blew over eventually, and no one was really right or wrong - everybody carried on with what they wanted to do...........

It's the "Carrying On" that is important; Isn't that what Tradition is about?

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 01:22 PM

Steve Gardham wrote -
"As modern historians will tell you there is a lot wrong with past scholarship. It can be extremely biased and is based upon nothing like the resources we have available to us nowadays with modern technology. With less bigotry and no hidden agenda modern historians can afford to be much more honest."


I'm afraid that my thoughts on this take me off-topic but ultimately I hope this has relevance to the fact that accepted history can be challenged and ultimately previously accepted norms changed.
Throughout my secondary education, one of my two favorite subjects was history. In my first term, I was taught by a Cambridge History graduate that following the Roman withdrawal from Britain and before the arrival of Anglo-Saxons and Vikings that England reverted to a condition that was similar to conditions that existed in the Iron Age. Much later I found claims of this nature existing in academic histories written in the 1930s. I was taught this in 1953 - and yet the discoveries at Sutton Hoo were made in 1939. The war held things up yet by 1950 those discoveries were revolutionising opinion about late 6th and early 7th century England. Yes, it was true that England reverted to being an unwritten society; yes it was true that England no longer minted coins but Sutton Hoo findings tells us of a society that had the highest artisanal skills, that society was highly structured and the coins found there showed us the East Anglians traded with Algiers, Egypt and Constantinople.

My history teacher was a lazy man. He was not keeping himself up to date with recent fact-changing findings. History had changed and i was being taught a lie.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 01:11 PM

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

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

Doesn't tradition imply some degree of popularity?

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

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

Not being contentious. Just thinking aloud....


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 12:49 PM

These statements on folk songs appearing on broadsides are all a bit straw-mannish, by the way - nobody has ever suggested that they didn't -not in my presence anyway
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 12:46 PM

"Well done Derek for going back and reading what Lloyd wrote"
Did you miss the statement which was probably the truest thing anybody ever said about the definition of folk song?
"If 'Little Boxes' and 'The Red Flag' are folk songs. we need a new term to describe 'The Outlandish Knight'. Searching for Lambs' and 'The Coal-owner and the Pitman's Wife'.
Jim Caarroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 12:41 PM

Great thanks are due to Derek for doing the obvious thing and pointing us to a re-reading of the first chapter of Lloyd!
Having read in pages 26 - 36 what he says about the dominance of printed sources in English folk song, especially the paragraph on page 36 that starts:-
In Britain, print has been the normal condition for folk song texts since the sixteenth century.

It makes setting up a Lloyd v. Roud argument sound rather silly.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 12:26 PM

"the English working class in the nineteenth century were incapable of creating their own music and song"?
I said "incapable or unwilling
"As modern historians will tell you there is a lot wrong with past scholarship. "
Down to the nitty-gritty - Child et al were wrong - why didn't you say that in the first place - it would have saved so much time?
"Personally I don't put much store in MacColl's scholarship, "
Personally, I don't put much store in yours Steve, but that's beside the point
MacColl never claimed to be a scholar - he mistrusted desk-bound academics, and I'm beginning to see why
Despite this, he did more work, on his own and with others, on analysing songs than anybody else in the revival, from the point of view of a singer who wanted to sing the songs.
Carthy's programme on the Critics Group was rather spitefully called "How Folk Songs Should Be Sung" - in fact it was the opposite
The Group examined the songs minutely to see what they actually said about the subjects they handled - one of the first questions we were encouraged to ask was, "what were the possible reasons this song was made in the first place?"
Over the nearly ten years existence of the Group, it produced some interesting answers and left those with a desire to find out more in those involved - far from the feeling of anger and depression Roud's book and your claims have produced in me.
MacColl's work with the Critics was recorded and survives for examination - let's hope it outlives the necrophobia that still surround everything MacColl ever did!
The result of Child's and Sharp's (apparently flawed) work survived up to the present day, despite close examination and constant acceptance and use
From them I got reasoned arguments and logical claims which stood the test of thirty odd years of our own field work.
From you I got contradictory excuses and arrogance.
I honestly don't know where you stand on folk song
You describe one of the finest Irish broken token songs as "a bloody awful song" because you are unable to grasp the context of terms generated by the Hedge School system
You offer as an excuse for the poor versifying of broadside hacks that the oral tradition cleaned up their songs, while at the same time denigrating that same oral tradition by comparing it to the work of "the lowest apprentices in the printers at the bottom of the market".
Your explanation of a poor version of "Higher Germany:

Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Steve Gardham - PM
Date: 18 Apr 12 - 02:46 PM
Its poor construction and inconsistency might suggest having come from oral tradition, but it could also be down to the fact that such jobs were given to the lowest apprentices in the printers at the bottom of the market. It's not possible to say whether it precedes or derives from 'High Germany'

You claim that Child was beginning to change his mind about broadsides.
You say that hard pressed, production line hacks studied newspapers to educate themselves on agricultural or nautical terms and equipment
You suggest that the same hacks served at sea, worked on the land, espoused social causes because secretly they were social reformers
You claom an anonymous 'school' of hacks who were capable of producing folk songs, despite their kind being justly regarded as notoriously bad poets....
These are not the result of good research or scholarship - they are hastily grabbed excuses to explain away problems you haven't considered.
I don't even know if you like folk song - you certainly give me the impression that you don't understand it.
Your approach to discussion is not co-operation but a quesdtion of "them and us"
from your talk:
"As they rightly say I can offer little proof of my findings and most of the evidence I have is circumstantial. On the other hand they can offer even less evidence to counter my opinions."
That is neither true, nor does it encourage mutual co-operation to seek the truth.
Your approach to being challenged has been one of resentment, talking down to, and occasionally open hostility
None of us have definitive answers, some of us appear to think we have.
Discarding the century or so's opinion and actual work of the people who were responsible for giving us what we have and what we know is hardly going to help
Child didn't know what he was talking about - must write that down!!!
Unbelievable - at so many levels
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 11:34 AM

Well done Derek for going back and reading what Lloyd wrote.
I too went back and re-read parts of his book - but could not be bothered to extract quotes in the way you have - well done for that.

Although I am very interesting in the whole aspect of where songs came from, etc., and I should also add - I too have not read Steve's book (but I know the man) - However I am increasingly bored with the intransigence of certain correspondents.

No one is stopping them having their views - just don't keep telling us we are wrong, or that we don't care. Let us just agree to disagree and then keep singing the songs we love - whether or not they fit someones definition of a bloody folk song!

And support your local "Folk" song clubs.........

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 11:12 AM

Brilliant, Derek. Hero worship!!!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 11:09 AM

Howard,
Who is suggesting that "the English working class in the nineteenth century were incapable of creating their own music and song"? Please read the previous postings more carefully. I don't see anyone suggesting this, least of all Steve. Of course some of our folk songs originated in this way. I can give you plenty of examples from my own collecting. For a variety of reasons very few made it into the national corpus of folk song.

I am in complete agreement with you and probably most of the people here. Why should it matter? It is the process that makes a folk song; origins are irrelevant to that. That is not a contentious issue.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 11:04 AM

Derek, you sly fox.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 10:59 AM

****the rejection of research carried out over centuries is hardly that****

As modern historians will tell you there is a lot wrong with past scholarship. It can be extremely biased and is based upon nothing like the resources we have available to us nowadays with modern technology. With less bigotry and no hidden agenda modern historians can afford to be much more honest.

Child had limited resources, his preferences were weighted by his own elite background, and he also admitted that he was very unsure of the selections he was making. He also, despite his reservations regarding street lit., included a great deal of it.

Sharp had his own agenda which included ignoring the influence of broadsides even though he was well aware of it. Baring-Gould and Kidson were much more knowledgeable when it came to song backgrounds.

Personally I don't put much store in MacColl's scholarship, but I don't think he made many claims in this direction. He was a performer and actor primarily and only produced scholarly works near the end of his life. I certainly wouldn't go to his sleeve notes for accurate information, any more than I would Lloyd.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 10:57 AM

Vic, I agree that instinct is a poor guide to scholarship, and perhaps I have chosen evidence to suit my arguments. There is little evidence anyway from the time we are talking about since the composers of such songs were not recorded, but it is not unreasonable to extrapolate from other more recent evidence. It appears quite extraordinary to me to suggest that the English working class in the nineteenth century were incapable of creating their own music and song. If that were truly the case they would surely be unique in the world. Even without evidence, there must surely be a strong presumption that at least some songs must have originated amongst the folk themselves. How widely they would have spread beyond their own community, and whether they were likely to survive to be collected, is a different matter.

There is obviously disagreement over what proportion of the folk song canon was created internally, so to speak, and which came from printed sources. The proportion in favour of the latter is clearly larger than some would like to admit. My question is, why should it matter? What makes them 'folk songs' is that they were meaningful to the people who valued them enough to pass them on, and in whose mouths they evolved and changed. Whether or not we know who wrote them, and whether that person was a ploughboy or a poet, seems to me to be entirely incidental, and irrelevant to the essence of a folk song.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 10:43 AM

ignore the silly question marks!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 10:42 AM

I've been reading Folk Song in England. Here are some quotes – please read them carefully!

To take one example from hundreds, The dark-eyed sailor has repeatedly turned up in tradition in more or less identical shape.

Pretty surely it had a single author. If one day we find the author’s name – and it is not impossible, for all the collected versions derive ultimately from a Catnach broadside of the late 1830s – does The dark-eyed sailor at that moment cease to be a folk song?
Without question, however, the greatest influence of print on folk song comes from the broadsides.

Some specialists would try to keep the broadside ballads and songs entirely separate from the rest of folk song, and to consider them as a category apart. In fact the two kinds are as mixed as Psyche’s seeds, and probably the majority of our ‘folk songs proper’ appeared on stall leaflets at one time or another, in this version or that. The broadside-ballad maker as a rule was no artist, no poet, but a craftsman of sorts, a humble journalist in verse who, for a shilling, would turn out a ballad on a subject as readily as his cobbler cousin would sole a pair of shoes. He might provide a song based on news of actual events, small or large, local or international. Or he might invent a romantic story of love, crime, battle or trickery, and make the ballad out of that, like a present-day author of pulp magazine fiction. Or he might take a song already current in the countryside and refurbish it a little for publication.

Writers in the past have stressed so heavily that whatever folk song is or is not, it is essentially an oral affair whose intrinsic character derives from the peculiarities of mouth-to-ear-to-mouth transmission. Well that is only true in part. We see that in thousands, indeed millions, of instances the words of folk songs reached their singers by way of print.


Ah ... which copy of Folk Song in England have I been reading? All the quotes above are from Bert Lloyd's book, chapter 1.

Derek


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 10:04 AM

"He bends over backwards to give a balanced interpretation."
There's very little point in saying what Roud does unless you address what he has actually said Vic
"but instinct is no longer enough."
It never has been - common sense is what is going to produce something and the rejection of research carried out over centuries is hardly that
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 08:44 AM

It is rather incongruous that this thread should divide so clearly into pro- and anti- what Steve Roud has written in this book when the book itself is so full of the likes of "on the other hand...", "another way of interpreting this data might be...", "It could be argued that...." etc. He bends over backwards to give a balanced interpretation.
Over and over he tries to move the emphasis from the origin of folk song (which is full of pitfalls as this thread and many other discussions show) to its development and changes during transmission once it has become widely sung enough to enter the oral tradition. For one thing, that gives a much stronger basis for a evidential approach which he totally endorses.
His clarion call is for further research and for researchers to concentrate on a factual, data based approach. He disapproves strongly of assumption without proof and regrets the lack of data in key areas and calls for more detailed study.
This should appeal to everyone who is interested to bring more focus and discipline in their thinking. To my mind, that is the most radical aspect of this book. I always read Howard Jones' posts here with interest - he seems to write a lot that is balanced and sensible, but in a recent post Howard wrote, "Instinctively I agree with Jim that the 'folk' themselves must surely have been capable of creating their own songs..." and then he constructs his arguments to support this. I'm sure that I would have fully endorsed such statements in the past but after reading this book, I have a voice whispering in my ear, "...but instinct is no longer enough."


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 08:43 AM

Regarding the use of printed sources Howar, we invariably found that they were regarded rather ambivalently - few learned them fully, rather, they fortified already songs by borrowing verses.
Some treated them with mistrust, even disdain.
A typical example of this was when recorded an hour-long story from a local storyteller which we later found in a book, Patrick Kennedy's 'Fireside Romances'
When we asked the storyteller whether he knew about it, he replied- "Yes, but Kennedy has it all wrong - them fellers always do"
That reflected the attitude of several singers.
The over-riding attitude was to treat the written word as sacrosanct and unalterable
The whole question of literacy is a complicated one in itself.
When Victoria came to the throne Education was for the wealth only, it was passed on to the poor by the Ragged Schools run by volunary teachers anxious that they should be able to learn to read the bible.
A third of the population were regarded as literate, largely the Urban better off - hardly any of the labouring poor could read and none could write.
It has been suggested that people bought broadsides and had the songs read to them, so we have poor people "living in abject conditions one step above slavery" who "would not have had the inclination to make their own songs", yet were happy enough to spend what they had on these song sheets and find the time it would take to be taught them by the few who could read.
If they didn't like the versions they had bought, they would then take the time to edit out the bits they didn't like.
In Ireland, which has a large number of songs probably originating in England, they had the added problem that in many rural areas, the first language was Irish, with many hardly able to speak English, let alone read it.
Yet still, in the mid seventies, fifty Child Ballads were still extant in the repertoires of country singers
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 08:07 AM

In reply to Richard Mellish, it has to be acknowledged that the folk process can work both ways, and that in some cases we have ended up with mere fragments, whether through poor editing of the story, mishearing or misunderstanding, or simple forgetfulness. However it does strike me that in many cases the printed sources are over-long, over-elaborate, and excessively flowery in their use of language. I imagine a longer song appeared better value for money when broadsides were being sold. Tastes change, but I wonder whether they were ever regularly sung in full or whether most singers chose to edit them down for performance, even when working from the printed version. The folk versions usually seem to reduce the story and simplify the language - whether that is degeneration or refinement seems to me entirely a matter of taste.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 07:58 AM

Does it have to be an either-or? Lighter?
Popular music created commercially has long been with us - that tells us nothing about whether people chose to reflect their own thoughts and experiences for themselves in song, which is what I believe folk song to be about
If they didn't the folk has been relegated to having no traceable voice in their own existence - as serious as that
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 07:41 AM

The larger point is not that the unlettered created songs, but that they very enthusiastically adopted commercial songs that were written *for* them.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 07:38 AM

"Nevertheless it appears incontrovertible that a significant number of songs can be traced back to printed sources"
Thanks for that rational summing up Howard
The only point I disagree with is the one above
Unless you can prove without question that no oral versions existed before the printed ones, none can be confirmed to have originated on broadsides or elsewhere.
I have no problems that some probably did, it's the enormity of the claim I find impossible to accept
MacColl's Song Carriers statement started this argument between Steve and I:
"some of them undoubtedly were born on the broadside presses. Some have the marvellous perfection of stones shaped by the sea's movement. Others are as brash as a cup-final crowd. They were made by professional bards and by unknown poets at the plough-stilts and the handloom."
I have always accepted that without question, just as I have been aware of how many folk songs appeared on broadsides since my friend, Bob Thomson, first described his researches back in 1970
Steve Gardam swept MacColl's statement aside somewhat contemptuously as naivety, and here we are.
There really is not much room for discussion with an attitude that is as dismissive of the ideas of other people as that
I've always thought that the best way to understand the folksong enigma is by bringing all the information we have together along with all previous reseach and arriving at an educated guess based on the sum total.
What has happened here is a rejection of major previous research of the best of our scholars and an arbitrary redefinition
We are no longer discussing the mame music
RTim talks about "my view of Folk Music" - I have chosen to take the view argued by the shelf loads of researchers which stretch back to the 1850s to the present day.
We know that an orally composed tradition dates back as far as the 8th century when The venerable Bede described:
"cattlemen passing around a harp and singing 'vain and idle songs'."
Maybe the Rev was a 'starry-eyed romantic too!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 06:52 AM

Howard Jones gives what seems to me a very fair summary -- despite having not yet read the book. But I would add one comment. The transmission from the printed form(s) (which were surely in most cases the forms which achieved wide distribution, whether or not one of them was the original) to the collected versions was in most cases via only a few steps of transmission, in the course of which the variation went in more than one direction, but often in the direction of degeneration rather than refinement.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 06:44 AM

I have hesitated to enter this argument because I'm not a scholar or a collector, and neither have I yet read the book (it's on my Christmas list). Instinctively I agree with Jim that the 'folk' themselves must surely have been capable of creating their own songs - besides Jim's own experience in Ireland, it just seems to me incredible to think that they would not have included creative people in their number. We have only to look around us today to see how many creative people come from working-class backgrounds, so why should it have been any different a century or more ago? Especially when the lack of social mobility offered fewer opportunities for talented people to escape from the lives they were born into. Neither literacy nor education are needed to create songs, simply an instinctive grasp of one's own language. I don't buy the argument that life was too hard to be creative - boring, monotonous, repetitive work is an ideal opportunity for a creative mind to distract itself, and they were not short of subject matter.

Nevertheless it appears incontrovertible that a significant number of songs can be traced back to printed sources, and whilst there may be disagreement over the proportion this is something which should be capable of being quantified fairly accurately given sufficient research. However I don't think that matters much - it is the process of transformation which turns it into a folk song, not the original source. I don't think this undermines the idea of what is 'folk song' or deny the creativity of those singers who shaped it into the form in which it was eventually collected.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Dec 17 - 06:11 AM

"I think a Bell rings in Jim's house when anyone writes to this thread "
It's a pity the houses of more 'folk enthusiasts' aren't fitted with bells time
I continue to be appalled at the lack of response to an important (in my opinion) unilateral rethink of (in my opinion) to be an important art form
Thank you for not caring
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 14 Dec 17 - 06:57 PM

I think a Bell rings in Jim's house when anyone writes to this thread - particularly if it is not within his view of Folk Music.....

Ding Dong Bell............

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Dec 17 - 03:14 PM

"There are plenty of clues if you actually study the material, who wrote them, stylistic clues,"
There are plenty of stylish indication, particularly the use of vernacular and familiarity with subject matter (all of which you have attempted to explain away rather than give rational reasons for) to suggest that they come from the people they represent.
The overall stile of broadside writers is that of clumsyiness - doggrell.
Taking that period as representative of the tradition is like describing a footballars skills after he has retired with a leg injury - it represents nothing
"I don't remember anyone stating otherwise."
Aren't you one of those who has re-defined folk song to include everything a traditional singer sings - Roud is
The conditions of rural England were certainly no worse than those of Ireland - in the period you are talking about a million had been wiped out by famine, another million endured enforced emigration, those that stayed at home faced eviction, land wars, two major uprisings - not to metion comscription into other people's wars.... the riches period for Irish song-making - not despite the conditions but because of them
What te hell have printes got to do with it - songs were made to be sung, not to be sold - that has always been the case
That seems to be a concept you are unable to grasp
One of the great oversimplifications if the idea that these songs were mede simply as entertainment and they were works of the imagination - they most certainly were neither
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Dec 17 - 02:40 PM

There are plenty of clues if you actually study the material, who wrote them, stylistic clues, as well as the many that are based on historical events.

****Elsewhere you said they were too busy earning a living to make folk songs****Not quite what I said, but fairly close. The vast majority of the rural population in the early 19th century lived in abject conditions one step above slavery and there are multiple reasons why they would not have had the inclination to make their own songs, particularly protest songs. Those that did have the creative urge and there were probably enough very rarely came into contact with a printer, and that is obviously how the majority of the national corpus songs were spread around the country, whilst also allowing for migratory workers.

****The corpus you are talking about were covered time when the tradition was dying**** And this is relevant because? I don't remember anyone stating otherwise.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Dec 17 - 02:13 PM

"Sigh!"
And you were doing so wellPlease don't start patronising me again Steve - it really doesn't help
"I don't remember anyone denying the existence of local songs and song-makers,"
You dismissed them Steve

Subject: RE: 'Historical' Ballads
From: Steve Gardham - PM
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 05:45 PM
As for farmers writing songs, I have plenty of examples of these myself, but they very seldom get the chance to enter oral tradition. In fact none of the ones I recorded were ever sung by anyone else but the writer.

Elsewhere you said they were too busy earning a living to make folk songs - happy to dig that out as well if it helps
"To state that conditions in mid-20th century Ireland were the same as in rural Britain c1800"
I didn't say the conditions were the same - a said that regarding the culture, the sitution was the same - both had every reason to make songs reflecting their lives - in fact, the harder the conditions, the more reason to complain about them in song, as was shown by the number made following the famine
If you haven't already, I suggest you get hold to Terry Moylan's The Indignant Muse and see how many were wade during the mass emigrations, the evictions, the land wars and the fight for national independence - 700 pages worth
The English agricultural worker must have been very nesh to be silenced by hard work
The corpus you are talking about were covered time when the tradition was dying and Mrs Laidlaw's prophesy was being fulfilled.
We don't have a cle about how far they go back apart from those dealing with historical events
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Dec 17 - 01:41 PM

Sigh!
I don't remember anyone denying the existence of local songs and song-makers, some of which lasted long enough in oral tradition to be called folk songs. I gave examples from my own collecting and no doubt other field workers could come up with plenty of examples. Very few of these, for one reason or another, made it into the national corpus.

The point is, the corpus under discussion (as we have repeatedly written) was that body of material noted down in c1890 to c1920 mainly in southern England, by the likes of Sharp, Gardiner, Baring Gould, Kidson, Broadwood, the Hammond brothers, Butterworth and Vaughan Williams and a few others. It has been shown that of that corpus 89% had its earliest manifestation in some form of urban commercial enterprize. Those (unlike JC) who have studied for many years the relationship between many examples of oral tradition and commercially produced ballads are of the opinion that the likely figure to have originated in this way would be closer to 95%.

To state that conditions in mid-20th century Ireland were the same as in rural Britain c1800 is a ludicrous statement, but we've been through all of this before ad nauseam.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Dec 17 - 08:48 AM

THese poets represented a small number that managed to capture public attention - the same prevailed in Ireland when poets like Tómas Hayes published poems (referred to as "songs") which had largely been styled on local singing styles), two of which passed into the local styles (see 'Farewell to Miltown Malbay' and 'Nora Daly' on the Clare County Library, Carroll/Mackenzie website)
Along with Hayes's compositions there were hundreds of anonymous songs which passed into the local tradition and survived into the mid 20th century (see above website; The Bobbed Hair, The Leon, Mac and Shanahan (2 songs) The West Clare Railway, Dudley Lee the Blackleg, Thew Rineen Ambush..... and many others
This appears to describe what was happening all over Ireland
All these are still regarded as 'traditional' locally and archived as such by the local cultural group.
They would have been ignored by Sharp and his colleagues or maybe not even sung as the word "old" did not apply to what was being asked for.
We know that hundreds of songs were being made during the Reform and Chartist campaign; the political newspapers ran a 'Sam Henry' like column gathering them in
It is inconceivable that this wasn't also the case during the Luddite, Swing, Rebeccaite, Merthyr disturbances, but to sing them publicly would be to run the risk of imprisonment or transportation.
John Holloway's Oxford Book of Local verse indicates that song-making was common throughout England.
There is no reason to believe that our poaching songs and others involving transportation were not local responses to the most extreme examples of public land seizures that were taking place in the 19th century.
The Clearances in Scotland produced their own repertoire of songs, composers like Maire Ruadh were known, but many songs remained anonymous
The point of all is that, far from having to rely on private enterprise for songs, humanity seems to have been natural songmakers with a need to record their experiences and feelings in verse.
My favourite summing up was given to a 95 year old small-farmer a few years ago, when he told us, "in those days, if a man farted in church, somebody made a song about it" (worth repeating as often as it is needed as far as I'm concerned.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter
Date: 14 Dec 17 - 08:42 AM

> produced out of a desire to have a voice and not for money, as the broadsides were.

Undoubtedly true, but of no significance to subsequent singers of those very songs (i.e., "tradition").


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 14 Dec 17 - 06:32 AM

I had not checked the text scan properly from my previous post. It is always tempting to accept the text scan when it is usually more than 99% accurate but in the three lines in italics above -
"devise" = "device"
and
"coild" = could"


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 14 Dec 17 - 06:23 AM

Steve Gardham wrote:-
"in the Saddleworth area. Ammon Wrigley did a great job in writing songs and bringing together local dialect pieces."


In Chapter 18, "Nowt as Queer as Folk: Dialect and Local Songs", Roud makes a special case for Lancashire. On page 569, he writes, "There was certainly a strong tradition of local dialect songs in Lancashire going back to at least the eighteenth century."
Elsewhere he writes that the county was not one that was satisfactorily investigated by the Victorian and Edwardian collectors but that he finds evidence of much local pride and a sense of ownership in their dialect songs as well as poems. On that same page he writes:-
Dialect poets rarely tackled the subjects that regular poets did, but concentrated on everyday lives of the common people of their area or the commonplace sights and sounds of their home places. They were very often comic and a common devise was the invention of a local 'character' through whose eyes the scenes and situations coild be described.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Dec 17 - 06:07 AM

Folk song in England, do you mean
Aren't there any Irish people living in England then?
The two traditions are inseparably connected, socially, politically, artistically and by language.
The Irish tradition is full of songs that probably originated in Britain - there were more Child ballads extant in the latter half of the twentieth century in Ireland than there were in Britain - and in a far better condition.
I repeat from above:
I attended a talk given by Peter Cook once where he discussed the richness of the oral tradition in Aberdeenshire, particularly in relation to the Greig collection
He projected a 19th century map of the area onto a screen and then superimposed a plan of all the railways, roads and canals being worked on at the time"
THe workers on those railways, roads and canals in the mid 19th century were Irish, and Cook's conclusion was that one of the reasons for the great richness of the New Deer song tradition was the Irish influence.
Irish, English and Scots Travellers were freely moving songs about Britain without even having access to literacy.
One of the great feature's of America's Library of Congress collection is that it it totally aware of foreign influences in its native traditions - Britain maintains its Brexit -like approach towards English song
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley
Date: 14 Dec 17 - 06:02 AM

That's kind of you Steve, although we are but a single link in a very long chain.

Seems that we're no nearer getting at the truth in terms of authorship.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 14 Dec 17 - 05:49 AM

Can someone remind Jim of the title of the book under discussion.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Dec 17 - 04:12 AM

"what was happening in Ireland and it is ridiculous to make such a suggestion!!!!"
You couldn't possibly deny what has hppened in Ireland if you wanted to - in the field of collecting, Tom Munnelly's work ranks internationally
There has been a concentrated effort to exclude what has happened in Ireland to arriving at an intelligent understanding of how the singing tradition worked, claiming it to be somehow "different" - your own argument.
It most certainly was not and it provides us with the most recent picture (apart from the Travelling communities) of a living oral English-language tradition.
We are never gong to know for sure who made our songs but any reasonable assessment of what might have happened will have to be made by taking everything we have to hand otherwise 'made for profit by bad poets' re-defining crowd will have been given a free hand
I'm not prepared to let that happen
There have always been people around who have advocated that working people were not able or not willing to give voice to their experiences - folk song has been the stumbling block to this claim up to now
Now the knockers are queueing up to leap on the idea
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Dec 17 - 03:18 PM

Jon, you are as much a scholar as anyone else on this forum and we welcome your input. There is as you must know an enormous amount of respect and gratitude to you and your family for preserving and more importantly keeping alive this tradition and these songs.


JC
Nobody on any of these threads has made any attempt whatsoever to exclude (or deny or downplay) what was happening in Ireland and it is ridiculous to make such a suggestion!!!! In fact many of your adversaries have gone out of their way to praise your work and all you can do is call them names.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley
Date: 13 Dec 17 - 04:17 AM

"On a slightly different note I'm sure you are fully aware, some of the songs in your own family repertoire are glee songs from the 19th century glee clubs, the classic examples being 'Spring Glee' and 'Dame Durden', both of which I have sung in the past directly from your family repertoire."

Absolutely Steve and we normally introduce them as such.

Although it's a fascinating study to conjecture where and how the songs came about, we are equally interested in how and why the ones in our repertoire came to be chosen, cherished and loved quite so much. We feel a distinct and almost visceral connection with previous generations when singing them and by thinking about why they chose those particular songs - it certainly helps inform us about their characters more than say a photograph would....I dunno, I ain't no scholar.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Dec 17 - 04:07 AM

The fact that English worker dialect poets like Ridley, Samuel Lackock, "Joseph Skipsey, John Axon and Samuel Bamford could continue to create the masterpieces they did without caricaturing their class as the broadside products did is proof enough that working people possessed the same ability and desire to represent their lives as the Irish working people did by producing locally made songs in their thousands right up[ to the death of the tradition - certainly not the exception.
The case was the same for England.

"In the Victorian period, galvanized by the Chartist movement from the 1830s to the 1850s, working-class poets increasingly identified their literary work with working-class politics. As scholar Peter Scheckner points out, "Chartist poems were read every week by hundreds of thousands of active Chartist workers and supporters throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland; the ideas and commitment behind these works were translated month by month into political action." The Chartist movement is represented in the exhibit by the work of Gerald Massey and Ebenezer Jones, both of whom also worked for the Chartist press."

Not all these songs were good and not all of them passed into an oral tradition, but they were produced out of a desire to have a voice and not for money, as the broadsides were.
Nor were they as universally bad as the broadsides were.
It is totally artificial to exclude what was happening in Ireland
Sharp and his collegues were carrying out what amounts to 'a study in a dying culture' when working people were moving rapidly from being active participants in their culture to being passive recipients.
What was happening in Ireland represented a healthy creative folk culture right up to at least the mid 1940s
I have no argument with Roud in general, but I find the almost single-handed attempt to re-define folk song breathtakingly arrogant and to use that definition to dismiss the beliefs of those whose work we owe our undertang to out of hand, without qualifying that disimissal (unless you accept Steve Gradham's "romantic nonsense" and adequate qualification) even moreso
Jim Carrol
Ji
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Dec 17 - 03:17 AM

"But he was the exception rather than the rule."
Precisely, Jon. The exact point I keep making.

On a slightly different note I'm sure you are fully aware, some of the songs in your own family repertoire are glee songs from the 19th century glee clubs, the classic examples being 'Spring Glee' and 'Dame Durden', both of which I have sung in the past directly from your family repertoire.

Also songs like 'Warlike Seamen' were originally written by the captain involved in the battle, but Phil was a member of the landed gentry. How his song came to be in the repertoires of many people and was printed in greatly differing forms on broadsides is anyone's guess.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jon Dudley
Date: 13 Dec 17 - 02:50 AM

Sorry should have checked in as Jon Dudley for the last piece...


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Dec 17 - 02:39 AM

"Incidently, do you share my difficulty in squaring Steve Roud, the clear, challenging and original thinker that emerges in the pages of this book with Steve Roud, the genial, gentle humourist and good listener that we meet in Sussex Traditions management meetings?"

...said Vic Smith...and yes I most certainly do!

What a debate! What foxes me are the classical references, the 'Goddess Diana's' and the 'Bright Phoebe's' and how they entered the unlettered lexicon and imagery of the classes to whom we are constantly referring. Or do they only apply to the 'few' songs written/printed by professionals' and picked up and changed through the oral tradition?It is interesting that Jim should have chosen to reproduce a song of such length and factual accuracy to demonstrate the ability within the labouring class to compose material - Bob Copper collected one such from Frank (Mush) Bond in Hampshire, 'The Dummer Sheeners Song'. Amongst the many singers Bob recorded, Frank was extraordinarily well read. He wrote extensively and quoted freely from his prodigious memory and as Bob says he would draw from this store rather than plagiarise when composing erudite works hardly-ever-to-be-read. You can read about him in Bob's 'Songs and Southern Breezes'. But he was the exception rather than the rule.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Dec 17 - 03:33 PM

"from the classic late 19th and early 20th century collections". Not pieces by local writers (Jack o' Racker) that had very limited currency then, Richard?

Cracking folksong of course written in 1842, like many another 'Friezeland Ale' etc., in the Saddleworth area. Ammon Wrigley did a great job in writing songs and bringing together local dialect pieces.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE MOWING MATCH
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Dec 17 - 10:29 AM

Richard
This is one of the best examples of a rural-made folk-song using vernacular speech and trade terms I have ever come across
It was recorded by MacColl and Joan Littlewood some time in the 1940s (I think) for a radio programme they made called ?The Ballad Hunter?
Seamus Ennis recorded a 6 verse version of it from around the same area for the BBC in 1952 - in both cases it was sung to the tune 'The Nutting Girl'

From the BBC index.
"Singer: Becket Whitehead. 1.52    Delph, nr. Oldham, Yorkshire. 24.5.52 (S.E.)"
Jim Carroll

THE MOWING MATCH
1    Come all you jolly sporting men
Who love good ale to quaff,
I'll tell you of a moving match
Took place at Brindley Croft.

2    There war Kirby up at Tree-end Clough
And a lad from t' lower-end,
And what those two lads did that day,
Their fame'll never end.

3    Now, Kirkby wur a Tunstead man,
Frae t'houses up i' t' wood,
Among then top-end movers
There war not one so good.

4    And of a' these lads i' Friezeland,
And chaps that moved right weel,
There war one ca'd Tom o' Fearny Lee,
?T could make ?em come to heel.

5    They came up out of Friezeland,
Wi' scythes 'bout shoulder height,
The Lanky lad he carried t'sway,
He could all the movers fight.

6    But Kirkby he stepped up and said,
"Tha munna bother me,
For if that does, I'll tan thy hide,
This day I'll let thi see."

7    There were Bill o' Breadstrup, Cowtail,
Delph-Johnny and Singing Tom,
Small Benny and Bold Bowman,
Frae't lower-end did come.

8    There war many an owd trail-hunter,
And many a real owd un,
And t'finest lads at wrestling
For fifty miles around.

9    Free Grange and Castle-Shaw they come,
Horse-whipper lads so strong,
Wi' necks as red as fighting cocks,
And backs as broad's as long.

1O    An? all these short-head starters.
An' gamblers an' all,
And all those privily wives
They were sitting in a row.

11    Then Krkby's wife spoke up in front,
"Now Jack, my lad," said she;
"If that gets licked wi' t'lower-end,
Tha'll bide no more wi' me."

12    Then Bandy Jack o' Waterside,
Be held the starting gun,
"Come on," he said, "you bold young lads,
It?s time to start the fun."

13    T' lower-end lad was up on 'tleft,
And Kirkby down on t'right,
Their scythes were held dipped into t'grass,
A good and manly sight.

14    Then Bandy Jack o' Waterside,
He fired the starting gun,
And off these mighty mowers went,
T'battle had begun.

15    Wi' flashing scythes these two stout lads
Went chargin' up the field,
Each stroke laid low two yards o' grass,
And neither one would yield.

16    Stroke for stroke they both advanced,
Until the turning-row,
Then Kirkby made a wider sweep
An' t'crowd all shouted, "Go!"

17    T' sweat wur glistening on their backs
And running in t'lads eyes,
But neither one'd mop his face
For fear he'd lose the prize.

18    And when t'owd clocker shouted "Time!"
They both were well-nigh done,
T'crowd wur roaring fit to burst
To see which one had won.

19   Then Bandy lack o' Waterside,
And Gibby from Bleak-Hey,
They both agreed that t'Lower-end lad,
Had won the match that day.

2O    But Kirkby wur not satisfied
About his measurement,
So for Harry o' Thurston-Clough
Two willing lads were seat.

21    And Barry wi' his measuring rod,
He knelt down there i' t'field,
And soon he said t'Lower-end lad
To Kirkby'd have to yield.

22    T'Lower-end lad had cut more length,
But Kirkby'd cut more grass;
A mighty cheer rose up from
Every Friezeland lad and lass.

23    So Kirkby won the mowing-match,
And that concludes my tale,
So new we'll toast good sportsmen all.
In a glass of Friezeland ale.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Dec 17 - 09:52 AM

Will do so later Richard, but I suggest that, if you have it, work your way through the published Sharp/Karpeles collection - plenty of examples there
Harry Cox once sang Betsy the Serving Maid to Alan Lomax and spat out at the end of it, "and that's what they used to think about us" - he found the song convincing
He went into a long diatribe about the seizure of public land when he sand Van Diemen's Land.
Has anybody ever worked out why broadside hacks should take up the cudgels on behalf of criminal poachers or cases of social misalliance?
Damned if I can work it out - they would have to have been social reformers
He same with complaints about seagoing conditions.
If you read Hugill's 'Sailortown' he presents areas frequented by silors ashore as no-go areas, yet we have all these 'landlubber-made' songs    (supposedly) about sailors seducing well-heeled townswomen and getting the better of boardinghouse-keepers, publicans and tradesmen - marvelous examples of "one for our side!"
Why should townies write songs in praise of people who were generally mistrusted and feared?
The same es for the garrison towns where militaery men were regarded the same by the civvies (except in wartime, when they became expendable heroes)
A simple test Richard, just see how a traditional song 'fits the mouth' and is still easy to relate to centuries after it was composed and compare it to the general output of the broadside hacks
Chalk and cheese for me
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 12 Dec 17 - 09:29 AM

Certainly some songs were written specifically for broadsides, by a range of writers some of whom can only be called "hacks", some of whom had greater skills. And certainly some were written for the stage or the pleasure gardens and then copied for broadsides. And certainly some were made by individuals whom we might identify as "folk". I think the disagreements are only about the relative numbers.

Given that situation, a few examples that fall clearly into one or other category won't prove anything about the proportions. Nevertheless I would be interested to see Jim cite some examples of songs that he believes embody in their words evidence of having been made by the "folk", not ones such as he has already cited about events in Ireland but from the classic late 19th and early 20th century collections.

Taking as an example songs about shepherds, ploughboys or milkmaids, it does seem to me that they mostly paint an idealised version of country life, calculated to appeal to a middle-class urban audience, rather than reflecting the hard reality for most of the people engaged in rural labour.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Dec 17 - 08:10 AM

"repetition"
Damn spellcheck - should read "redefinition"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Dec 17 - 07:04 AM

Once again a positive review without a single attempt to discuss the problems that the claims of this book raises Vic
What underwhelms me about tis discussion is the total absence of any evidence to reservations I have made - an attempt to pass them through on the nod, without debate.
Apart from these, I have no major problem with the book.

Simply put, they are:
Our folk song repertoire is made up overwhelmingly of rural songs and songs concerning occupations such as seagoing and soldiering; they contain many small details of rural life, trades, rural vernacular speech.... knowledge that is not ready available to the outsider.
These songs are so universal and timeless in their makeup, that wherever they may have originally been made, as them move they were taken up and accepted as genuine representations of life and experience - a process that often took place over centuries.
The detail that went into their construction gives them the appearance of having made by the people themselves to express their own lives and emotions.

They express large chunks of our social history with a partisan eye - sailors describing life at sea, soldiers fighting wars abroad, followed by huge armies of camp followers, the effects of the land-seizing enclosures on the rural population, forced marriage in order to better the lot of social climbing families at a time when the nobility was being deposed by the rising tradespeople....

All this is represented generously in our folk songs in such a skilful way that it would take an outsider with the genius of Dickens, or Hardy or Steinbeck to create what are in fact miniature works of art from the point of view of the 'ordinary' people.
We are asked to accept that 90 to 100% of these songs were created by desk-bound, urban-based, notoriously bad poets "hacks", working in conveyor belt conditions for money.
Bring all the recommendations you like (Steve Gardham has already resorted to that one); for me, turning research history on ist head and dismissing the opinions of Child Sharp, Maidment and virtually every scholar that has laid pen to paper on the subject needs much more of a discussion than that   

The only way the claimants of the 'first in print' is by a spectacular and Unilateral exercise in repetition by moving the goalposts in order to include pop songs of the past, music hall compositions, Victorian Parlour ballads - mostly with known composers.
These bear no relation whatever to the folk songs I have been listening to for the last half century
Jim Carroll


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