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New Book: Folk Song in England

Vic Smith 01 Nov 17 - 05:36 PM
Steve Gardham 01 Nov 17 - 04:55 PM
Vic Smith 01 Nov 17 - 10:24 AM
Jim Carroll 28 Oct 17 - 02:59 PM
Jim Carroll 28 Oct 17 - 09:26 AM
Brian Peters 28 Oct 17 - 08:01 AM
Jim Carroll 28 Oct 17 - 04:49 AM
RTim 27 Oct 17 - 07:16 PM
Richard Mellish 27 Oct 17 - 04:17 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 27 Oct 17 - 02:59 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Oct 17 - 02:43 PM
Jim Carroll 27 Oct 17 - 01:42 PM
GUEST 27 Oct 17 - 12:44 PM
Jim Carroll 27 Oct 17 - 11:23 AM
Steve Gardham 27 Oct 17 - 11:03 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Oct 17 - 10:35 AM
Steve Gardham 27 Oct 17 - 10:32 AM
Rozza 27 Oct 17 - 06:53 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Oct 17 - 05:15 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Oct 17 - 04:52 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Oct 17 - 04:14 AM
Richard Mellish 26 Oct 17 - 03:49 PM
Steve Gardham 25 Oct 17 - 04:33 PM
The Sandman 22 Oct 17 - 07:57 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Oct 17 - 04:40 AM
RTim 21 Oct 17 - 07:52 PM
The Sandman 21 Oct 17 - 05:38 PM
GUEST,John Robinson 21 Oct 17 - 05:15 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Oct 17 - 01:17 PM
Steve Gardham 21 Oct 17 - 12:44 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Oct 17 - 11:54 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Oct 17 - 11:49 AM
GUEST 21 Oct 17 - 11:10 AM
Steve Gardham 21 Oct 17 - 11:07 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Oct 17 - 11:02 AM
Steve Gardham 21 Oct 17 - 10:47 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Oct 17 - 04:55 AM
Richard Bridge 18 Oct 17 - 05:52 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Oct 17 - 02:31 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Oct 17 - 02:21 PM
Jack Campin 16 Oct 17 - 01:28 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Oct 17 - 01:16 PM
GUEST 16 Oct 17 - 12:12 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Oct 17 - 11:12 AM
GUEST 16 Oct 17 - 10:31 AM
GUEST 16 Oct 17 - 09:15 AM
GUEST,Christopher Thomas 16 Oct 17 - 05:34 AM
Richard Mellish 16 Oct 17 - 03:52 AM
Steve Gardham 15 Oct 17 - 11:51 AM
GUEST,Christopher Thomas 15 Oct 17 - 10:50 AM
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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 01 Nov 17 - 05:36 PM

I have never really considered much that Lucy Broadwood, Annie Gilchrist, Mary Neal, etc., were any different to the male collectors as far as collecting goes.
.... and neither have I, or at least in the years that I have heard all these names, It was many years after I heard Cecil Sharp's name that I heard that of the great achievements of Mary Neal and I am sure some earlier writers did not give her the credit she deserved - especially after she fell out with Sharp. Was Maud given all the credit she deserved at the time or has that only come later? In particular, I am thinking of Georgina Boyes' article The Lady That Is With You.... Maud Karpeles (1885 - 1976) in Step Change Ed. Boyes. (Francis Boutle (2001) and in various places in her better-known The Imagined Village. There are other examples. The neglect of the historical contributions of women is having to be reassessed in a wide range of disciplines.
You ask how relevant it is here. I was contrasting the approach of Steve Roud with those who bring a already developed socio-political agenda to their writings. I was trying to categorise them and stating that one that had gained most credence was the one that argued that the contribution of women had not been fully recognised.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Nov 17 - 04:55 PM

A neat critique, Vic.

Not sure really how relevant or significant the sexism of previous eras is here though. I have never really considered much that Lucy Broadwood, Annie Gilchrist, Mary Neal, etc., were any different to the male collectors as far as collecting goes. I've not come across this as a burning issue among all the scholars I know.

Fully agree with your last statement. I've worked with Steve for many years now and have yet to find any distracting agenda with him. He is simply a truth seeker with a burning desire to set the record straight. He is as you say cautious in his approach (unlike myself I might add.)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 01 Nov 17 - 10:24 AM

I am reading this book, but I am reading it very slowly. I break off after every chapter to read something else. It gives me time to think about the implications of everything that has been written. I find that I need to go back and re-read sections to make sure that I have considered all the implications. Already, the pages that I have read has a mass of those 'post-it' type stickers marking statements that I will need to go back to re-read and reconsider. In a way, I am very glad that I am not reviewing it (though one editor has already indicated to me that he would have preferred that the book had been sent to me by the person who allocates material to reviewers). The reason that I am glad is because I would hate to have to rush through a book that is as dense and meticulously researched as this because of a review deadline. So far, I have resisted the great temptation that Brian Peters failed to do and 'skipped ahead' to read conclusions - but this has been difficult. I want to savour and enjoy what is likely to be the most important book that I have read about the subject that has absorbed my attention all my adult life.
This morning I reached the end of Chapter 7 and we have reached the end of the 18th century in considering a multiplicity of evidence, we reach a section where he, at last, offering some preliminary findings. He has been considering the impact of written and published song and tine material - opera, theatre stage shows, broadsheets, chapbooks and other sources on what was sung by the classes of people from whom the 'folk singers' came:-
.... on what we can surmise to be the state of 'traditional song' of the period. On a superficial reading across the genre, this seems to be true of musicians' tune books in general, which, as far as songs are concerned, are often much closer to the 'art music' of the period than other sources. It may be that their compilers, being semi-professional jobbing musicians, spent time in theatre orchestras and military bands, and playing for middle-class concerts and balls, and that their repertoires reflect this. But this is a superficial impression, and needs to be checked further before it can be accepted as evidence.Page 293

He then goes on to consider the last part of evidence from that century, the manuscripts of Ralph Dunn and in particular the song Poll of Plymouth. This interests Steve because:-
It was repeated in literally dozens of songsters, chapbooks and broadsides, but doesn't seem to have been noted by any of the folk song collectors. Page 294

What Steve seems to be saying here is that there is something about this song (of which he gives the lyrics) that did not attract potential singers. It didn't have the qualities required for it to be taken up by 'The voice of the people'. Without that, the song does not alter and develop on being passed on through entering the repertoires of the common people (whoever they may be). It is when songs start to be altered in this way that they have become more interesting to Steve and other contemporary researchers than the constant haranguing about definition.
The last two paragraphs of Chapter 7 are more revealing about Steve's attitude and his modus operandi than anything else that I have read in the book so far.
As the evidence stands at present, we can reach some tentative conclusions. If the manuscripts are accepted as evidence of vernacular singing, the folk-collectors severely underestimated of higher class art/popular music of the pleasure gardens and theatres in the traditional-song repertoires of a century before their time. The influence of print on traditional song was extensive. The degree of continuity between say, 1790 and 1890 is surprisingly low, and songs did not, in the main, last for a hundred years in the popular tradition, unless the degree of continuity is disguised by the collectors' selection policy. The latter is feasible but does not bear close scrutiny. It seems to argue that all collectors would recognise an eighteenth-century art song at sight, and decline to note it. This may be true of those who had a good working knowledge of popular sing history such as Sabine Baring-Gould. Frank Kidson and Anne Gilchrist, but these collectors are precisely the ones who would have found such survivals interesting and would have noted them. The balance of probability is that these songs simply did not survive to be collected around the turn of the twentieth century.
But the evidence can be read the other way round. As we know that 33 per cent of the 'folk songs' collected later originated in the eighteenth-century of before, the fact that we can find so few of them in the sources investigated simply means that these sources are not sufficiently 'folk' and we are looking in the wrong place. Certainly, compilers of manuscripts will have been, by definition, more literate that the average working person, because they could write as well as read, but we are back to our basic problem. If the 'folk songs' of the time left no tangible trace, we can say little or nothing about them. Page 296

Consider the contributions of all the previous commentators on English folk song. There is little doubt that Sharp and Karpeles knew what they were looking for before they set out the find it. They collected what that wanted to hear and ignored anything that was outside their preconceptions. Then much later we have Lloyd and all the other Marxist commentators, Harker and other de-bunkers, Georgina Boyes and other feminists; they all bought the pre-determined socio-political agendas with them. All have given us invaluable information to help to a greater understanding of the subject but we have to approach all of them with a pre-knowledge of the author's position. The only ones who have radically changed academic opinion have been the ones who have written that the position of women in the collecting work of the first has been seriously understated; they are producing plenty of evidence to support this. The interesting talk by Lizzie Bennett that I heard at a Traditional Song Forum meeting this year produced facts that this happened in Sussex and I had not heard this information before.
The main factor in my (incomplete) interpretation of Steve's approach is that he bends over backwards to omit anything to which he cannot point to a providing evidence. It is this clarity of thought; this abhorrence of assumption that is, I believe, going to provide the way for future academic researchers and writers on the subject of folk song.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Oct 17 - 02:59 PM

"English versions" of the ballads
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Oct 17 - 09:26 AM

From a singers point of view, I always found it a problem to find English versions that met up with Scots texts, so I began to Anglicised Scots one, bearing in mind that this wasn't always desirable as the beautiful Scots vernacular language often gave you words and phrases that it might be possible to replace but would be a great loss to do so.
Work in Ireland has uncovered a ballad repertoire which was considered not to have existed - my friend, the late Tom Munnelly listed 50 Child Ballads that were still extant in Ireland among the older generation up to the mid 1980s
I would look out for two albums in particular, 'Songs of the Irish Travellers' and 'Early Ballads in Ireland - 1968-1985' - the foirmer includes an exquisitely sung version of 'Young Hunting' entitled 'Lady Margaret', by Traveller Martin McDonagh - not only a beautiful version of a rare ballad but, in my opinion, one of the finest examples of traditional singing available (to the accompaniment of the singer's son chopping wood fro the family business).
If I thought there was an audience for the longer narrative song hear in Ireland, I would have no hesitation in learning the Roscommon version of Banks of Newfoundland recorded by collector Joe Byrne back in the 1980s
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters
Date: 28 Oct 17 - 08:01 AM

This remark by John Robinson made a few days ago slipped by without comment:

I find it hard to find 'English' folk songs, but perhaps that's just me. After a bit of digging I often discover that whatever shiny new/old song I've learned was originally Scottish, collected by Francis J Child...

John, you need to remember that Child's sources were overwhelmingly Scottish, and there's far less evidence about what people in England were singing around 1800 than there is for Scotland, simply because nobody much was collecting it. Even so (and acknowledging that ballads like 'Tifty's Annie', 'The Battle of Otterburn' and 'Sir Patrick Spens' did originate in Scotland), a lot of the ballads most popular in tradition most probably originated in England. The notes to the songs in Roud and Bishop's 'New Penguin Book' make this pretty clear.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Oct 17 - 04:49 AM

"(But sorry for continuing the thread drift.)"
I think understanding such things is part and parcel of these discussions Richard
Bob, with his friend, Mike Herring, did similar work with the song, 'Drink Old England Dry', linking the verse about the Dutchman with the draining of The Fens
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 07:16 PM

I hope Steve Roud is seeing all this debate - if he has time??

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 04:17 PM

> Bob Thomson, who lived in Cambridgeshire, did a great deal of research on the song as it was particularly popular in East Anglia - he turned up the information on the settlement on convict returnees around the Oxborough Hall area

OK, thank you, that explains how the name in the song became "Oxborough", that name being familiar to people in that area, including returned convicts, and thus replacing "Hawkesbury".

(But sorry for continuing the thread drift.)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 02:59 PM

Firstly just to make clear that the guest listed at 12.44 p.m.was me.

Jim I don't know to whom you are referring to as a crook. Could you enlighten me? as being there from around 1957 to 1965 I am completely unaware of the matter of missing club takings.

You are making accusations about people's honesty. Funnily enough it reminds me of a book that I just read which includes an item relating to the acquisition of a number books from Foyles Bookshop written by someone who was there at the time. I still find it a little hard to believe and the reason for legitimising the excercise.

Re Zimmerman & Miller yes it is the same both pretending to be be someone else fortunately for both they came up with songs that became successful to the general public.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 02:43 PM

I'm out, with the others!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 01:42 PM

"St James Miller"
Would that be the same as Sir Bob Zimmermann d'you think Hoot
More necrophobic grave dancong on someone who ran rings around the lot of you, including the crook who ran away with your Club takings
SEE 'NO AGENTS NEED APPLY
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 12:44 PM

Steve,
You have made a mistake there not asking for anything more than entertainment. How dare you bring that word into this thread or the other dominated by the same person.
The Ballads and Blues meetings were very entertaining but St James (Miller not Carroll) didn't like this it wasn't taking things seriously enough so after about six years of suffering he went and formed the Singers Club. He gained a few disciples one of whom is now trying to preach to the rest of us.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 11:23 AM

"That's not name-calling."
If you don't reply with discussion - it's name calling Steve
Not the thing I am used to from a fellow researcher
It leaves me with the impression that, like your percentage theaory, you 'definitions don't hold water when put to the test
I'm enjoying myself no end, by the way
and aIa still get a great deal of pleasure listening and singing
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 11:03 AM

Jim,
That's not name-calling. It's what I believe to be the case. The other thread is certainly a good example of someone well out of touch with the rest of the folk world.

What I gave is NOT a definition, it is a list of descriptors like the 54 list.

Jim, I'm sorry you are so unhappy with all this. I'm certainly not unhappy. I do my research into traditional song, write my books, contribute in other ways, and when not doing this I go out into the folk scene and enjoy many many performances from 'folk singers' new and old. I certainly don't judge them on any 'definition'. They are entertaining. I don't ask for any more and I don't need to.

I also happen to write songs and record them, some of which are taken up by younger singers and I'm very grateful for this. Please lighten up and enjoy yourself.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 10:35 AM

You are name calling and addressing none of the points I have made
I gave my opinions on your 'definitions' (you can't make definitions without getting a consensus)
Have the courtesy to reciprocate with argument rather than name calling
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 10:32 AM

Jim,
You have missed the point of my posting entirely. I'm beginning to think that what the others on the other thread are saying is true. You are out of touch with the world as it IS, attacking things that you are out of touch with and at odds with the rest of the world. That is a great shame as you know I have deep respect for your work.

You keep saying you want to discuss these things. I posted that synopsis in response to your request for other 'definitions' in good faith. Please read them carefully. I am not saying they are good or bad, simply the status-quo in the big bad world. You can deride them as much as you like but they ARE the status quo.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Rozza
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 06:53 AM

It took a degree of dedication to read the book. I am in awe of Steve Roud's dedication and concentration in amassing and presenting all that information about popular singing in this country. I had hoped for more analysis of the textual, melodic and thematic characteristics of traditional songs. It would also have been good to read something about traditional singing style - decoration, voice quality etc. But then the book would have been twice as long and far more liable to fall apart, literally and figuratively.

Ruairidh


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 05:15 AM

"but know then that you are alone in your very narrow view of opposing what the world and his wife think is folksong!"
Sorry missed this
Don't you have any books at home?
How did they all get it so wrong when they attributd folk songs to "the folk"
Tht eejit, Frankie Child, what was he thinking of when he entitled his ballads "popular" - ie of the people
I suggest that the loneliest people on the planet are those who can't come up for a definition of their discipline and have to invent their own private one
You said you had no problems with the '54 definition - where does your pick-'n-mix selection fit in with that?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 04:52 AM

"You seem to be the only person obsessed with the need to have your terms defined to the nth degree, and also obsessed with the origins."
OI might equally say thay you are the only person obsessed with thaki the creadit of making our folk songs away from rural working people and giving it to untalented hacks - I would imagine both accusations are unfair
I don't believe in chasing origins of songs any more do I believe it possible to discover the truth about who made those songs
What I do know for a fact is that rural working people made songs (in this small area, by the hundred so probably throughout Ireland, by the many thousands)
These indicate to me that they probably made our folksongs - there is not the slightest reason to suggest that they were incapable of the task
Out folk songs are full of snippets of information such as this - we had a long conversation with Walter Pardon about this in relation to 'Butter and Cheese and All', where he associated the 'hiding up the chimney' with the 'press gang' rails found in many East Anglian rural homes - Sam Larner had a similar conversation with MacColl and Lomax at one time
When the press gangs were scouring the areas looking for 'volunteers' the eligible males would hide up the wide chimneys crouched on specially placed rails to avoid being pressed
I can't remember if MacColl and Seeger used Sam's recording on 'Now is the Time for Fishing' but I have it here somewhere
Our folksongs are made up of such bits of information, as I said earlier, they have dirt under their fingernails
I read Roud's chapter   on the Broadsides with interest, the first thing that stuck me was that they were largely urban based
We recorded very elderly singers here in Clare who lived tem miles from Ennis, our market town, yet never managed to get there until they were into their middle age, transport and roads being what they were.
Ho did these shoddy urban poets get their knowledge to make songs with such details - farm practices, work at sea - even the folklore - they would have had to have been social historians and skilled folklorists in subjects that had no even been published in order to possess such detail
I've said often enough, one of the great gaps in our knowledge has always been that researchers gathered songs the way people collected coins, with no great interest in what the singers knew about them.
Our limited researches indicate that they knew a hell of a lot and they possessed talents that had been ignored - bu we were very much latecomers to a tradition that had died off before ourt time (with the exception of the Travellers)
"Those songs that are sung in folk clubs, folk festivals and the folk scene in general; "
So 'I Don't Like Monday's' is a folk song - utter crap!
"those songs that are found in the record shops' racks under the descriptor 'folk'; "
I found a shop that listed all Hank Williams records under 'folk' one
Utter crap
"those songs that are sung by folk singers; "
You can't define a folk singer until you define a folk song - a Catch 22 definition that ends up swallowing its own tail
"those songs performed by performers who refer to themselves as folk singers."
Folk singing has long ceased to be dedicated to folk song and has now become a convenient title for those not talented enough to make it in their own preferred fields - it has become a dustbin throw anything it suits anybody to call folk song
I'm disappointed in you Steve - I disagree with you strongly on your definitive attitude to (unknowable) origins, but this is the pits and manages to rubbish an entire century of study.
It is revival folk song research (sic) based on a folksong movement that has long lost its way
You really do need to have got our more, but now it is too late, now we need to what little we have from the older singers and apply common sense to it - we owe them that
Jim Carroll (sadly)


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Oct 17 - 04:14 AM

Bob Thomson, who lived in Cambridgeshire, did a great deal of research on the song as it was particularly popular in East Anglia - he turned up the information on the settlement on convict returnees around the Oxborough Hall area
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 26 Oct 17 - 03:49 PM

Jim said
> It took someone with local knowledge to know that Oxborough Banks referred to an area settled by returning Australian transportees when 'Maid of Australia was composed - our songs are full of snippets of information like this

Where did that information come from. I've read elsewhere that the originally intended location was the banks of the Hawkesbury River in NSW.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Oct 17 - 04:33 PM

Jim,
You seem to be the only person obsessed with the need to have your terms defined to the nth degree, and also obsessed with the origins.
To the rest of us the origins are irrelevant as the people who set up the 54 descriptors soon realised. Within a few months they had dropped that particular descriptor of anonymity. The rest of us are quite happy to accept the 54 descriptors when describing traditional folksong.

You keep asking us for OUR 'definition' of folksong. Mine will be different from most other people. I won't give you a definition because I don't believe such abstract ideas should or can have definite hard and fast boundaries, but if it helps I will give you the wider descriptors as I believe to be acceptable to the many people I know on the folk scene, both academically and non-academically.

Loosely: Those songs that are sung in folk clubs, folk festivals and the folk scene in general;

those songs that are found in the record shops' racks under the descriptor 'folk';

those songs that are sung by folk singers;

those songs that are identified by being accompanied on recognised folk instruments (usually acoustic as opposed to electric);

those songs performed by performers who refer to themselves as folk singers.

If I really tried I could come up with more descriptors and I'm sure others can add to this list. Included in this description will be many songs that also come under other genres, indeed that fit better into other genres. That's the nature of all widespread types of music in the western world.

You only want to include those songs that are 54 songs and those that have been written in imitation. No problem. I'm inclined that way myself.

Your prerogative is to not like this list of descriptors, but know then that you are alone in your very narrow view of opposing what the world and his wife think is folksong!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Oct 17 - 07:57 AM

RTIM,naturally i am talking from my limited experience as is everyone else including your good self.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Oct 17 - 04:40 AM

I don't know who John Robinson is, but for me, he sums up what books like this should be about - an excellent short recommendation to an important book
Can I just reiterate why I find definitions of folk song so important
As someone who came from a working family, I was educated to believe that people like me had no cultural history and if I wished to acquire a culture I had to go to the great writers or painters or composers - in the case of the latter, the best of those were mostly foreigners.
The general thrust of my education was that culture was not for me anyway - all I needed on leaving school was to tot up my pay packet at the end of the week (one teacher actually told me that when I was late for his class because I had been delayed by a music teacher who kept me back to explain something I had failed to grasp.
My introduction to the finer points of folk song came through Lloyd's book, which suggested that working people might have a culture worth talking about.
That was magnified a thousandfold with the nights I spent in Critics Group meetings - beautiful songs and ballads created, sung and passed on by working people.
That became part of my self-identification, something to be proud of.
That has remained with me ever since , through my contact with Irish land labourers and small farmers, the Norfolk fishermen we met, the village carpenter who gave us all those songs and all that information, gathered from his farm-labouring family, and most of all, from the despised, uneducated, non-literate Travellers who have proved to be the saviours of many of our traditional ballads.
Thirty odd years with them has confirmed everything Ewan and Bert were saying all those years ago.
One of the weakest sentences in Roud's book comes on the page Steve G insited I shouldn't read
"Most songs which were later recorded as folk songs were not written by the singing and dancing throng, or by ploughboys, milkmaids, miners or weavers, but by professional or semi-professional urban song-writers or poets."
Our knowledge of our oral folk song tradition goes back only as far as the beginning of the twentieth century, beyond that, all is a mystery
Nobody has the information to quantify how many of our folk songs were created, certainly not "most" - the information does not exist.   
The term 'folk' was first assigned to the culture of the "lower" classes in the 1840s
Before that it was "popular" - of the people and that goes back even earlier, at least to the 1770s, when John Brand put together his 'Popular Antiquities"
Francis Child assigned his Ballads to the "common" people when he entitled them "Popular" - of the people.
The earlier researchers had no hesitation in recognising the creative merits of labouring people, it's taken 20 and 21st century desk jockeys to tear down that suggestion.
For me, most of our folk songs are obviously the creations of people who knew what they were singing about first hand - so many of the songs come with dirt under their fingernails and an intimate knowledge of tools and work practices.
It took someone with local knowledge to know that Oxborough Banks referred to an area settled by returning Australian transportees when 'Maid of Australia was composed - our songs are full of snippets of information like this
That's why I believe most of our folk songs were made by 'the folk' and, my love of them as beautiful songs aside, that's why I believe them to be as important as I do.
Bob Geldof - eat your heart out!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 07:52 PM

Mr Sandman (ie. Dick.......) although you have been around for many years, and know your stuff - you can't and don't know everyone involved in this music and how much "enthusiasm" they may have for it. Don't assume too much...please!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 05:38 PM

"At the Group meetings, we would embark on a night of practical work, at the end of which, Ewan would flop back in his chair, tell us he had had enough and was going to bed, then, more often than not, embark on an hour-long plus soliloquy on something that had been raised during the work we had done.
They were off the cuff and generated by sheer passion for the songs Ewan loved - they would invariably send me home walking a foot above the pavement"
to have that kind of passion for music is wonderful as it is to be able to pass enthusiasm and passion on to others.
I have been sitting down playing music for the last hour and would still do so even if i never had another gig.
I regret to say that much of the enthusiasm and passion shown by lloyd and macColl seems to be not as prevalent on the uk folk scene as it used to be, Carthy always seems to show passion ane enthusism for trad music too


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,John Robinson
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 05:15 PM

Many thanks, as I had no idea this book existed until now. I've recently started to sing and play guitar in my local pub, after being gently coerced by a local session musician, so further knowledge and source material is always more than welcome.

I bought Steve Roud and Julia Bishop's revamped Penguin Book of English Folk songs a while ago, and wish I'd got the hardback version, because my paperback copy is already extremely dogeared.

I find it hard to find 'English' folk songs, but perhaps that's just me. After a bit of digging I often discover that whatever shiny new/old song I've learned was originally Scottish, collected by Francis J Child, but I suppose that's the often cited 'folk process' for you. Still, I fancy learning Brigg Fair: that's closer to home for me.

I think the ambiguous origins of many folk songs are what lend them their appeal, and I tend to avoid overly academic approaches to a musical form which, after all, did not originate in someone's study. 'What is a folk song?' I don't know. I'm too busy singing them to care, or I have no time to ponder, but I passionately love them - and that's what I would like to pass on to anyone who cares to hear.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 01:17 PM

"Any other usage of the word you don't accept so there is no argument."
You implied that there are many - what are they?
" You appear to be saying that words can only have one meaning. "
That is what this is all about Steve - both here and on the Clubs thread
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 12:44 PM

Jim, for traditional folksong you already have your 'definition'. I prefer to use the word 'descriptors', but I'm quite happy to use it as A definition.

Any other usage of the word you don't accept so there is no argument.

The other usage of the word 'folksong' as stated above by others is much more loose and defies a definition as do many things that don't have hard and fast boundaries. Even the '54' descriptors are open to interpretation and don't all have hard and fast boundaries as stated by SteveR. You don't accept the wider more loose meaning but you're the only person I know who doesn't.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 11:54 AM

Sorry nuased up some of thaat posting - some should have beeeen sent to Folk club thread
Never got the hang of multi-tasking
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 11:49 AM

So we can talk to each other why do you have to put 'Beans' on a tin label?
Why do you people do this - if we bahave as you do you'd be the first to scream 'folk Police'
Nobody is forcing you to participate in this - why not go to another thread and tell them what they should and should not be discussing - or go and burn a few books maybe?
""I think 'Somebloke sums it up- what a lot of bollocks."
Reciprocated, I'm sure Jim
"Beoga and Gatehouse"
Who ?
I prefer the thousands of young kids who are taking it up independently and the Clancy Summer school and the Irish Traditional Music archive as my examples
You only have to turn TV or radio on any night of the week to see the results of the present influx of youngsters - maybe the media hasn't made it up as far as you!
Nowt much wrong with this for
PRIME TIME TV
"Willie McBride" (No Man's Land) with Arthur McBride
Sorry Raggy - a slip
I know what song you are talking about - I used to sing it until it got sung to death
Personally, I prefer Boggles 'Waltzing Matilda'
"You appear to be saying that words can only have one meaning"
No Steve - I'm saying they have to have A MEANING
If my definition is incomplete - what's yours?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 11:10 AM

Tell me, why is any definition needed ?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 11:07 AM

That's a silly viewpoint, Jim. Have a good think about it before you press the send button. You appear to be saying that words can only have one meaning. NO LAZINESS and definitely NO INDIFFERENCE!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 11:02 AM

"What I have always said is that 'folksong' has come to mean different things to different groups of people and denying that is burying one's head in the sand."
As has a lot of words Steve, but if you are serious about your own work and interests you have to go with the established and documented consensus - it is a nonsense to do otherwise
If you involve yourself in something as folk song publicly you take responsibility for it
If you disagree with any aspect of how it is regarded, you either go with it or fight for any changes to be included in the new understanding
We are supposed to be thinking human beings, not sheep
That fact that nobody can agree on a new definition and any confusion is down to laziness or indifference is good enough for me
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 10:47 AM

I read the chapter and all of the book thoroughly and have already returned to the salient points several times having annotated the bits that were most relevant to my own studies. I have no quibble at all with any of the '54' descriptives and never have had. What I have always said is that 'folksong' has come to mean different things to different groups of people and denying that is burying one's head in the sand. I can deal with this as most words in the dictionary have a whole list of synonyms and I can't see why 'folksong' should be any different.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Oct 17 - 04:55 AM

I thought I'd catch this before it sank entirely out of sight
I still haven't read the book right through - mainly through having to prepare a talk Im due to give in a couple of weeks, so I decided to read through the chapters that interest me most an return to the whole thing later
So far, I find it an indispensable gathering together of facts that I'll find immensely useful in future
I do find myself dipping into Lloyd's book of the same name quite often as I miss his warmth and enthusiasm for the song even when his facts are somewhat questionable
Bert was a singer who never quite made up his mind which side of the fence he was on, but he did love the songs with the passion of a performer, which was obvious to anybody who ever saw him perform live - I have to say I miss that side of things in Roud's book though I may not have come to it yet
I disagree with some of Steve's comments "a folk song is a song sung by a folk singer" being one that sticks out like a sore thumb, though it is qualified somewhat
I can see this statement being used in future as serious an argument as the old "horse" joke to justify putting anything under the "folk umbrella"
Both statements are utter nonsense when taken seriously.
One thing the book has confirmed for me is that there are no messiahs carrying the folk word - there are no conclusive answers to many of the questions and there never will be
THere is some information scattered around out there which, if we are going to fill in some of the blanks, need to be brought together - that requires co-operation, not the type of conflict and evasion that this subject has generated so far
I came to research through MacColl's suggestion that in order to become a better singer we needed to examine and understand the songs
The first suggestion made to a new member of the Critics group was to listen to as many field singers as were available and work out what they were doing - this set Pat and I off on a journey that has never really ended
At the Group meetings, we would embark on a night of practical work, at the end of which, Ewan would flop back in his chair, tell us he had had enough and was going to bed, then, more often than not, embark on an hour-long plus soliloquy on something that had been raised during the work we had done.
They were off the cuff and generated by sheer passion for the songs Ewan loved - they would invariably send me home walking a foot above the pavement
I have recordings of many of those sessions - I still get a buzz and a lump in the throat listening to them - after all this time.
It struck me that a perfect springboard to reinvigourating our music would be a combination of Roud's detail, Bet's fond love and MacColl's informed passion for the songs that have become part of our lives.
Incidentally, Steve Gardham said somewhat insultingly "Jim, avoid this page at all costs."
I read page 13 without being struck down by lightening, I disagree with some of it as it does not all conform with much we learned from our own field work (but am happy to debbate this with Steve Roud or anybody at any time (as long as I am treated as an equal).
Perhaps Steve G and others should read the end of that chapter where Roud says about the '54 definition "apart from a quibble with "oral" in the fist sentence, if I had been at the conference, I would have happily voted in favour of the resolution"
Roud seems not to have the problem of whether Bob Geldof counts as "folk" that many people seem to have
But there again, there are no messiahs
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Oct 17 - 05:52 PM

Bah. I have the book for my birthday thanks to my lovely girlfriend, and I am very grateful to Brian Peters for his comments above - and I am now going to have to read the whole book.

Based on the few bits of the above that I have read I have three comments so far.

1. Nobody seems to give credit for the input of Barry Walker on Lloyd.

2. I wish Malcolm Douglas were still here.

3. Although my blood pressure is but 130 over 80 (not bad at the age of 69) I am going to have to source relevant tablets and some worry beads before reading the whole of this thread. Have the pseuds already appeared? I see some horse definitioners (or close thereto) have.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 02:31 PM

Is there any evidence that the several strathspeys with the 'Braes' title ever had any words at all prior to Tannahill's which though rarely are found in oral tradition quite widely?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 02:21 PM

Stenhouse: 'This song, beginning "Fareweel to a' our Scottish fame," is likewise an unclaimed production of Burns.It is adapted to the old air, entitled "A Parcel of Rogues in the Nation" which appears both in M'Gibbon and Oswald's collections. Dr. Blacklock had also written a song to the same melody; for Burns, in a note subjoined to his verses, says, 'I inclose what I think the best set of the tune. Dr. B's words, inclosed may follow the same tune. Johnson, however, omitted the Dr's verses, as he had no room on the plate.

Are you claiming this as a folk song, Jack? I think Jim's definition might exclude it.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 01:28 PM

many of the songs were older than the broadsides
To pinch one of Jim's most often used arguments: How could he possibly have known that?


Two Scottish examples: "Parcel of Rogues" and "The Braes of Balquhidder". For both, a tune of that name was printed decades before any words we know of.


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

Jim, You need to reset your cookie. You're guesting at the moment.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 12:12 PM

Thanks Steve - it really is good to be back - you can tolerate beautiful nurses for so long
"Why don't you learn to split long posts into paragraphs, Jim?"
Dunno guest - put it down to my crappy Secondary Modern education
I tend to go with the flow
Will make an effort
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 11:12 AM

Welcome back, Jim!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 10:31 AM

Why don't you learn to split long posts into paragraphs, Jim?

Two or three lines, then a blank line. It makes on-screen reading so much easier.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 09:15 AM

Hi all
Good to be back
It's amazing what goes through your mind while you're lying on your back with nothing to think about, as I was once told by a female friend
We seem to have moved on somewhat since Steve and I went head-to-head all those centuries ago.
This beautiful statement by the MacColl at the end of the Song Carriers series is what started it all

"Well, there they are, the songs of our people. Some of them have been centuries in the making, 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. They are tender, harsh,, passionate, ironical, simple, profound.... as varied, indeed, as the landscape of this island.
We are indebted to the Harry Coxes and Phil Tanners, to Colm Keane and Maggie MaccDonagh, to Belle Stewart and Jessie Murray and to all the sweet and raucous unknown singers who have helped to carry our people's songs across the centuries."

The Song Carriers covered the whole gamut from the song referenced in Wedderburn's Complaynt of Scotland to the WW2 song, 'My Darling Sleeps in England so your sweeping condemnation covers the lot and not just Sharp and his gang
I posted it and Steve asked "do you believe that romantic rubbish?"
I confess - I confess - yes I did, and I still still do, and nothing that has been said since has made me doubt it - for me, it dot's all the folk i's and crosses the t's, for me at least.
Had Steve confined his percentages to what "appeared in print", rather than originated, and addressed those figures to what was collected by Sharp my response would have been "I know that, my mate, Bob Thomson told me that there were a lot back in 1970"
"Origination" is a different ball game altogether.
I believe quite firmly that rural working people not only were capable of having made our folk songs, but our own researches indicate that there is no reason whatever to doubt that they did - but I have always emphasised that we can't possibly know because our working knowledge of the oral tradition goes back no further back than the beginning of the 20th century
I have given an indication of the number of anonymous local songs made in the lifetimes of our singers - they can be heard on the Clare County Library website under 'The Carroll/Mackenzie Collection'
Clare people made songs by the hundreds and, as Peter Laban pointed out, it was almost certainly the same throughout Ireland
Our friend, Maurice Leyden up in Ulster is at present compiling a collection of songs made by textile workers
If they made songs in that number, why shouldn't our known folk songs be numbered among them
We found the same was the case with the non-literate Travellers - songmakers using their skills to express aspects of their lives
Steve offered the excuse that (to paraphrase) English workers were too busy earning a living to make songs
My old friend Harry Boardman compiled an impressive number of similarly made songs when I lived in Manchester in the sixties
AS a singer looking for songs, I walked into Manchester Central Library in 1968 and asked if they had any local songs and was handed a few books of broadsides - I found one singable song
AS I handed them back the nice lady asked me, "have you seen the newspapers we have on microfilm
I spent the next few months peering at editions of 'Black Dwarf' and other political publications, all containing song columns of material (mostly anonymous) composed by cotton workers, spinners, land labourers, teachers, political activists - not all deathless verse by any means, but often a damn signt better than the conveyor belt stuff spewed out by the hacks
Some of the Lancashire weaver poets published, most did not -
I seem to remember Roy Palmer did some similar research in the Midlands; I know people around The Grey Cock Folk Club in Birmingham did.
We know that Bothy workers made songs independent of print Maire Ruadh, or Red-headed Mary was making songs and leading protesters in defiance of those clearing out the crofters, - the BBC even has recordings of waulking songs being composed on the spot
The mining communities produced their own songs and their own stars - Joe Corrie and Tommy Armstrong spring to mind.
Many of these songs were ignored by the collectors because they did not fir the mould - but they certainly fitted the definition of "folk" I choose to work by.
Working people were once natural songmakers - it seems ludicrous to ignore that fact and put the making of our folksongs down to largely ham-fisted hacks churning out largely dross to make money - Child's "dunghill" sums that side of song making perfectly - that man was a star (did you know he actually made a song himself, but I can't imagine him ever singing it?)
It occurred to me while I was incapacitated that what is desperately needed is a forum where thase arguments can take place without acrimony or agenda-driving - a place where we can simply exchange ideas on subjects such as this.
Hugh Shields one established a paper-based 'Irish Folk Music Federation' - we have many of their cheaply produced booklets - invaluable stuff
I see no reason why an on-line site cannot bring people from all over together to thrash out these subjects
Of course, we might be forced to get our act together and come to some understanding as to what we mean by folk song (I'll go and get me tin hat!!)
By the way - the song being discussed above
"Matt, try rereading p13. Jim, avoid this page at all costs."
Insulting as ever Steve
I have now read a large section of Roud's book and so far have found little to seriously disagree with
I don't "avoid" reading anything because I might disagree with it
Try answering some of my points instead of hiding behind referees who agree with you
Hopefully, if we ever get to exchanging ideas we can lose this unpleasantnessd
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Christopher Thomas
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 05:34 AM

Going to the Blog page from the Home page should work! but thanks for your interest


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 16 Oct 17 - 03:52 AM

> That should be : www.broadsidestories.net/blog/folk song in england
But I can't seem to make the blue clicky work! <

That URL gives me a "404", though with a link to the home page http://www.broadsidestories.net/

From the home page, clicking on the "Broadside Stories" tab at the top takes me to a page which says "Click on the Broadside Stories bar above for the full index". But that's what I've already done to get that far. I can't get any further.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Oct 17 - 11:51 AM

Very fair and well-written review, Christopher. I'll have a closer look at your site later.

While searching for this review I found another very different at www.caughtbytheriver.net written by Cally ...... which comes more from the angle of a music historian.

Both reviews I think Steve would be very happy with.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Christopher Thomas
Date: 15 Oct 17 - 10:50 AM

That should be : www.broadsidestories.net/blog/folk song in england
But I can't seem to make the blue clicky work!


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