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New Book: Folk Song in England

Steve Gardham 14 Aug 18 - 02:55 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 18 - 02:50 PM
GUEST 14 Aug 18 - 02:28 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Aug 18 - 02:16 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 18 - 01:24 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 18 - 01:08 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Aug 18 - 12:44 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 18 - 11:17 AM
GUEST 14 Aug 18 - 10:38 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Aug 18 - 10:21 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 18 - 10:13 AM
Vic Smith 14 Aug 18 - 10:07 AM
GUEST,jag 14 Aug 18 - 10:00 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Aug 18 - 09:29 AM
GUEST,jag 14 Aug 18 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,jag 14 Aug 18 - 08:54 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 18 - 08:51 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Aug 18 - 08:26 AM
GUEST,jag 14 Aug 18 - 07:24 AM
GUEST,jag 14 Aug 18 - 07:11 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 18 - 07:09 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 18 - 06:57 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Aug 18 - 06:47 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Aug 18 - 06:46 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Aug 18 - 06:16 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 18 - 06:03 AM
GUEST,jag 14 Aug 18 - 05:35 AM
Sue Allan 14 Aug 18 - 05:20 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Aug 18 - 08:18 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 12 Aug 18 - 08:04 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Aug 18 - 07:39 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 12 Aug 18 - 07:00 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Aug 18 - 09:44 AM
GUEST,jag 11 Aug 18 - 09:27 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 11 Aug 18 - 08:48 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 11 Aug 18 - 08:35 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Aug 18 - 06:24 AM
Jack Campin 11 Aug 18 - 05:44 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 11 Aug 18 - 05:44 AM
Jack Campin 11 Aug 18 - 05:36 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Aug 18 - 05:33 AM
GUEST,jag 11 Aug 18 - 05:00 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Aug 18 - 04:50 AM
GUEST 11 Aug 18 - 04:37 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Aug 18 - 02:51 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 10 Aug 18 - 08:22 PM
Jim Carroll 10 Aug 18 - 01:15 PM
GUEST,jag 10 Aug 18 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 10 Aug 18 - 12:08 PM
Jim Carroll 10 Aug 18 - 11:14 AM
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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 02:55 PM

Sorry Jim,
Cookie vanished. But you must have guest(sic) it was me!

You are absolutely right, we are talking about the making of the songs, so let's look at those 22 songs in Walter's repertoire, typical of the genre? and decide what might be 'insider knowledge' in them.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 02:50 PM

Walter dismissed music hall songs - it was difficult to get him to sing them
He went to great lengths to specify the differences between them and what he described 'the old folk songs'
His family songs came with pictures, characters and locations
However - water didn't make the songs he sang - he acquired them, first because he thought them uniquely important and later to sing them
I thought we were talking about the making of the songs - walter played no part in that - the inside knowledge came with the making, not the singing
We have Walter's opinions of tape - we recorded hem for twenty years
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 02:28 PM

Hi Jim,
On numerous occasions now you have used the phrase 'insider knowledge' to state that you don't believe the broadside writers could have had this 'insider knowledge'. I think it's time we investigated this statement in a little more detail as it seems to be a crucial standpoint of your argument. Before we look at specific songs in the English canon perhaps you would put a little more meat on the bones.

I have in front of me the MTCD set of Walter's 'Put a bit of Powder on it, Father'. CD2 is pretty much a collection of parlour songs and Music Hall, however CD1 must be those songs Walter got from his dad and his uncle who got them from their father who learnt them from broadsides (as Walter tells us). Now using this CD1 set could you perhaps tell us which of these 'folk songs' you think contain 'insider knowledge'?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 02:16 PM

Thanks for the discussion.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 01:24 PM

I suggest you read the first few pages of lloyd's booy to find why he believes folk songs existed
Jim carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 01:08 PM

Folk song began centuries before the the minstrels - lllyd describes prin=mitive honey gatherers singing to bees to calm them while they gathered he hobey
Bowra in his work on primitive song gives gives a similar description
This becomes a depressing nonsense - I don't know how long you have been at this (you give the impression of not very long) but you are flying in the face of a century of scolarship with out-of context quotes you seem not to have digested.
This really becomes tiresome - sorry
Folksong as we have it, is the result of ordinary people turning their emotions and experience into verse
THey wouldn't even have had access to the work of minstrels - go compare the songs in minstrel books and the difference if stark
Thank oyu for confirming many of the views I and thousands of others have held for decades
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 12:44 PM

Jim

Lloyd AL 'Folk Song in England' Paladin Edition, 1975. Pages 104 to 105.

Lloyd is quite clear that folk song arise from a "synthesis" of "peasant and minstrel, amateur and professional". That is precisely the point he makes on those pages.

Lloyd argues that the minstrels of the 14th century were 'sardonic, plebeian oriented, outrageously subversive' and that when manors were broken up the minstrels found themselves 'on the road', with a 'new set of patrons, the peasantry". This is when, he asserts, this synthesis resulting in folk music took place. He suggests that the influence of minstrels improved the music of the peasants.

I think that one the basis of Lloyd's arguments in this section, it is fair to comment that they put music originally made professionally at the heart of what we now know as 'folk music'.

Thank you for this interesting discussion.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 11:17 AM

" what Lloyd says is right, music made for payment is deep at the heart of what he defines as 'folk song'."
That is not Bert's point at all
Bert's origins drew largely from the writings of the musicologists who described the ritual and function making of our earliest songs
If you look at collections of minstrel songs you will find that they don't bear comarison with the stripped down, economic folk compostions.
The first reports of traditional singing wer by the Venerable Bede (672-735) who described cattlemen passing around a harp and singing ribald songs
This (I'm not getting involved...") is shadow boxing Pseau - you obviously have decided that commercialism was the motivating force, despite what our old singers said.
There is no evidence that traditional singers either sand or made songs for money - that is a very twentieth (21st even)century view of the tradition
Ji


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 10:38 AM

>>>>>>>I don't know about that ploughman but his community included people who could improvise songs, shanty style, and also sing songs borrowed from neighbouring cultures.<<<<<<



Neither of these are unusual although they are quite rare in collections in England. I am currently very happy to be involved in projects with Nick Dow:

He recently gave me some wonderful recordings of traveller families he knows and one of the songs is of the shanty type although actually from a navvying situation, no doubt composed by navvies themselves or their families.

Nick and his friends in Dorset also discovered that a good number of the songs in the Hammond Mss are obviously Scottish and they were able to put this down to the visiting Scottish regiments in the early nineteenth century.

Just as a matter of interest where were you observing this?

A good song is a good song no matter what the source!

Regarding evidence of this prior to the 20th century, the best evidence lies within the songs themselves. The bulk of the songs collected in England since the 1880s are of the narrative sort obviously written by a single author, albeit at times using stock phrases and even stock stanzas.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 10:21 AM

I looked in Lloyd again. Referring to the 14th century, when, he says, the break up of manors led to minstrels having to get a living from the peasantry, he says

'...from this synthesis of peasant and minstrel, amateur and professional, private and public entertainment grew the kind of song that remained dominant in the lower-class repertory for the next five hundred years, in short folk song as we most readily recognise it today.'

I am not going to get involved in more 'origins' discussions. This isn't why I dug out this quotation, but if (big if) what Lloyd says is right, music made for payment is deep at the heart of what he defines as 'folk song'.

Jim: I am fully aware of MacCarthyism, thank you. My parents were fans of Paul Robeson, who was one of its victims, so I learned about it as a young child.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 10:13 AM

"why a composer 'making money' is enough for them to be dismissed out of hand. "
It would be helpful if you could point out where this has happened
If we are talking about the revival making money only became a problem when it became the objective rather than an offshoot
Splitting hairs about 'by hand or brain' s a diversion - a folk songs became folk songs when the folk took ownership of them and made them their own rather than just repeating them - they underwent 'the folk process'
We know of about fifty songs made in this area during the lifetimes of the singers we recorded, nearly all distinguished by their anonymity - they were taken up and absorbed into the local oral tradition
Publishing them would have acted against that
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 10:07 AM

I wondered whether this should be the start of a new post but with so much that has been written on this one about Bert Lloyd, in particular in relation to his part in 're-writing' traditional songs that I thought that this was the place for it.....

On the Musical Traditions website there has just appeared a transcription of an interview with Bert Lloyd that dates back to February 2nd, 1974 when it was conducted by Barry Taylor. In the newly written introduction, he describes himself as being in the "Singers' Workshop, the 'beginner's group' that was closely allied to the Critics Group" though "I had been involved with folk music for around fifteen years and closely connected with the Singers' Club since the late 'sixties." He gives the reason for the interview as "We thought that it would be a good idea to have a magazine that would run parallel with the Club, featuring articles on the regular singers, as well as the guests, plus any other topics that we thought germane. After some thought, we decided that our choice for the main article in the first edition would be an interview with Bert Lloyd. You can read the interview (and people taking part in this thread really ought to) by clicking here
The interview itself, I find fascinating though not much of it came as news to me having read Bert's books and articles as well as Dave Arthur's biography and had several quite long conversations with the man when he stayed at our house after appearing at our folk club in Lewes.

For me the two biggest surprises came in Barry Taylor's introduction where he writes:-
" by 1974, Lloyd had become a rather peripheral figure for us but I believe that we still admired his work."
Really? Bert Lloyd peripheral to the Singers' Club? Surely he was one the the main reasons for the existence of that club with its distinctive approach?

and

"A hot topic at the time was 'folk-rock' or 'electric-folk' and I was really surprised with Lloyd's approval of this treatment of traditional music but I did not realise just how involved Lloyd had been with Fairport Convention."
Again, this comes as a surprise. If Barry had been involved with the folk scene for 15 years surely he would have known of Bert's strong involvement with the folk scene. I am fairly sure that we got full houses at the folk club for Bert's appearances at the folk club was because he of his reputation as the leading guru of the folk scene - the Penguin book, his own widely read Folk Song In England, the many Topic sleeve notes, the fact that every time you heard the likes of Carthy & Swarbrick, the Watersons, Dave & Toni Arthur and quite a few others, they would be singing his praises as an inspiration, an influence and a source of material. Why should it be any different that Sandy Denny and her Fairport mates should look anywhere else?
One memory comes back to me in writing this. Once when Bert stayed with us he was talking about a band that he had heard who he described as "a sort of Hungarian Fairports" and that he wanted to be able to get an English tour but he did not know how to go about it. I suggested that he contact Joe Boyd and he slapped his head and said, "Of course, Joe... why didn't I think of that?" I never heard if such a tour ever happened, I would love to think that the Hungarian band's Sandy Denny was Márta Sebestyén but she would only have been 17 in 1974. It would still be some years before I fell under Márta's magical musical spell but I still have her as one of my all-time favourite singers.

In his introduction Barry Taylor as links to another transcribed interview on the Musical Traditions website; one conducted by Mark Gregory on 20 September 1970. That's been on MT since 2009 but I am off to read it again.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 10:00 AM

Hi Pseu

In the last few days 'manual' and now 'merely manual' were terms introduced by you. Complex concept (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manual_labour ) but I don't think it helps here.

I have watched someone work an ox plough (for real) and adjust the plough and harness. I wonder how much handed-on knowledge that has served for thousands of year will vanish with the last of them. I don't know about that ploughman but his community included people who could improvise songs, shanty style, and also sing songs borrowed from neighbouring cultures.

We think it 'must have happened' but if someone didn't believe it what is the evidence from England before the 20th century?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 09:29 AM

Hello Jag

Speaking for myself, I don't know where Laycock would fit in, or even whether he would on some definitions of 'folk'. Do we have to ask what Laycock's relationship to the means of production distribution and exchange were?

I'm bouncing ideas around and learning from the discussion.

And there are questions to be asked about whether even being a 'ploughboy' (an occupation that appears to post-date the use of oxen drawn ploughs) was 'merely manual'. Presumably some sort of knowledge of what to do when and why and about animal husbandry and so on was needed.

What I do feel is that Laycock and his like are important in the social history of music. And interesting for all sorts of reasons. I'm not really about keeping people in or out, and I'm not sure whether doing this just ends up producing a distorted view of the history of music. Which is something that works like Roud's help to guard against.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 09:18 AM

Jim. It's not a 'right wing attack'. On my part it is attempt to understand why a composer 'making money' is enough for them to be dismissed out of hand.

What are the pre-20th century examples, or accounts, of working people writing songs that when into oral transmission. Everyone seems to accept that it happened but what is the evidence?

And it is not intended to be personal, it is just that you are the only person in this discussion saying things that people I have known say.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 08:54 AM

Is there also some feeling that 'work' has to be manual, not mental, to count as 'proletarian', or is this a red herring?

Way back in the discussion I asked, the first time Laycock came round, "when does someone stop being one of the 'folk'". Being paid for mental work may be crossing the threshold for some people. Where does management fit in? A 'ganger' might be OK if still getting his hands dirty, but an 'overlooker' may be debatable.

The recent phase of the discussion would seem to allow starting off working with one's hands in a low-paid job as being enough. However, and a reason why I have been probing the point, if Laycock is 'allowed in' a lot of other people would be.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 08:51 AM

"who have secure jobs or pensions rather than those getting by on short term work or 'the gig economy'.
You want to try living on a state pension
I do so out of necessity - the 'giggers' do so out of personal choice and most of them also hold down 'day jobs'
This is getting somewhat personal
The left wre the saviour of our folk songs because by and larg they recognised it as 'The Voice of the People'
Sharp was a Fabian Socialist, the current revival was launched by the Workers Music Association - later to become 'Topic Records'
MacColl was singing for pennies from a Manchester cinema queue and went on to help form a breadline agit-prop Theatre - (probably the best in British history) and became a playwright feted by Shaw, Yeats and many of the leading literary figures
He, Peggy, Bert Lloyd and others went on to launch the second folk revival which filled so many lives with pleasure and a sense of achievement
The Lomax's dredged the U.S. prisons for their material and left a treasure store of American music - I can think of no greater contributor to American (and world-wide culture
His reward was to be chased from his home country by the Right wing McCarthy witch-hunts - singers like Pete Seeger were not so lucky and fell victim to that outburst of American democracy.
I knew many of those dedicated people and find this sour-grapes right-wing attack rather distasteful - they did what they did because of tehir commitment to the music - I never knew their politics to in any way intrude on that

I have no problem with a poet being remunerated - I welcome it - most are not
In my experience, shepherd, lad workers, labourers were not paid for playing at dances, most of them did so for the sheer pleasure of doing so - money has only recently become an issue and has, in my opinion, done as much damage as 'the Folk Boom, in killing off the democracy of the music and replacing it with a need to 'make a name'
This at the time folk song in Britain is sinking out of sight and needs all the volunteer dedicated support it can get

The best example of the old attitude to playing was related to us by radio broadcaster Ciaran Mac Mathuna, who scoured Ireland looking for songs and music at a time when there was very little money for such luxuries
One night he recorded an old fiddle player farmer in Kerry and, at the end of the session said, "Well now there's the business of a small recording fee"
The old man thought for a minute and said, "Well, there's no money in the house right now, but I'm taking a bullock to the market in the morning if you don't mind waiting"
That has been our experience through our thirty odd years of collecting - payment was an anathema, raher than an objective
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 08:26 AM

Yes, Jag,

I'm thinking the 'property if theft' thought may be there.

Also I fully acknowledge deep unease about the way, say, that the Lomaxes (and, some people argue, Peter Kennedy) copyrighted material they collected.

I did read something from Mayhew by a poor chap who made a small bit on money selling verses to broadsheet printers: that sticks in my mind.

Is there also some feeling that 'work' has to be manual, not mental, to count as 'proletarian', or is this a red herring?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 07:24 AM

In that last sentence I guess I am partially agreeing with Jim. The 'making money' comments mainly come from armchair socialists.

Where I don't follow Jim is how it is OK for a shepherd make a few bob playing for a dance but not for a poet to get something for his efforts if there is market for them.

Related to that (but not directed at Jim's comments) I think when it comes to creative output there is a view amongst some (but not all) on the left that the songs are intellectual property and that 'property is theft'. It's a red herring but one that I think may be lurking in the muddy waters.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 07:11 AM

My view is that 'personal' and 'commercial' uses of music probably interacted.

I think that in the past, as now, music for local dancing (not just traditional) was often provided by people with days jobs who also played recreationally and may have done a bit of busking at the markets.

Somewhere on the web (I though it was Village Music Project but I can't find it now - can anyone point to it?) is a transcript of the diary of an early 19th century jobbing hand-loom weaver and fiddle player which includes how much he earned from different sources.

Paying a singer for performance was presumanly less common and probably more commercially promoted. But I thought we were talking about the creators of songs sung non-commercially by 'the folk'.

I my experience sour words about people 'making money' (including from some of my friends) come from left of centre people who have secure jobs or pensions rather than those getting by on short term work or 'the gig economy'.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 07:09 AM

Mist a bbit
None of this had anything to do with "anti-establishment belief"
Making folk song profit free gave people like me (an electrician) a voice I would not have otherwise had - the chance to become a creative artist
After nearly sixty years at it, it still fills my life with pleasure and recent events have guaranteed that the people we met, recorded and worked with in the form of recordings and documentation will still be listened to long after we're gone
That is the only and the best payment we could ever hope for
THere's not to many people in our position who can say that
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 06:57 AM

Wrong again
The left never had any problem with making money from performing
The problem came when people like Kennedy bagan copyrighting and selling it
MacColl (correct spelling) and Seeger earned money as performers - that could have been much richer had they sold out to the big boys
The only big money came from a love song Ewan wrote for Peggy which was taken up nearly twenty years later
Ewan and Peggy devoted their lives to working with less experienced for free
They opened their home and library to people like me weekly for nearly ten years - while the superstars were working away at their own careers
Even the hundreds of songs they made were handed out on request
Bert earned his money as a jobbing researcher, broadcaster and writer

Can't speak for Lomax but I suspect that there are as many Urban Legends and Chinese Whispers about him as there are about MacColl

Kennedy was the only shark in the bucket - he ripped of singers and the taxpayers and he attempted to copyright the material he collected - a thoroughly bad caharcter
He got away with his behaviour because he had friends in high places
   
I'm afraid your obvious lack of knowledge of the folk scene has given you all the prejudices that bedevilled and soured the folk scene for so long

There used to be a very telling joke doing the rounds - "how do you MAKE $1,000,000 from folk music - start ofF with $2,000,000"

Please don't lower this discussion to folkie backbiting
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 06:47 AM

Not attempting any 'prods' here.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 06:46 AM

Also I suppose some within the revival hoped that by singing 'folk songs' of a political nature they would advance the cause of the left, so they did it for nothing. And maybe felt that stuff not done for money was in some sense symbolic of anti-establishment beliefs?

On the other hand, it does seem clear that selling ballads for money was a strategy of trade unions and organised labour going back at least to the early 20th century. I have a book by Roy Palmer with some examples.

Complicated topic.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 06:16 AM

Sue

I think I read your piece on John Peel and so on. It was very interesting.

Jag

I think your last point may be right, and this seems odd given the general 'left-wing' thinking of those involved. Also the fact that many of these themselves made money out of their interest, ranging from the Lomaxes, who were notorious for it, through Lloyd and MacCall, to Peter Kennedy.

On the other hand, I don't think all music and song making would have been done for money, just as people today do these things just for the fun of it, or for religious purposes, say.

I think that maybe the idea of people doing it for money seems in confict with the view that 'real' folk music was passed down via an 'oral tradition'. Also maybe the idea of making money out of music is seen as difficult to reconcile with a Lloydian view that the history of 'folk music' reflects the emergence of new 'classes' within society as for example when the feudal system began to decline and so on.

The question also arises (semi-seriously) of whether a nice song collector visiting to take down whatever you sing and showing an interest in it is in some sense similar to the party lower down the cliff.

My view is that 'personal' and 'commercial' uses of music probably interacted. The fact of non-literate people pasting up ballad sheets in their houses seems to suggest that even the artefacts connected with commercial song-writing were seen as desirable, as well as the songs themselves.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 06:03 AM

"(so in the this context "second revival") concern."
I would have become very rich if I had been given a pound for every time a veteran traditional singer or musician said "the tradition was ruined when music appeared on the scene"
You want to know how much of an issue money was with traditional singers - go find out how many of the thousand or so singers the BBC recorded were paid for their time or generosity - go find out how many of the performers bothered even to ask for payment.
To me, it is incredibly cynical to claim that people made and sang songs just for money
The folk revivals in Britain and America took place to escape the commerciality of the music scene and virtually everybody who became involved did so for free.
We had our professionals, sure we did, but the best of them dedicated their lives to the music, not their careers (I was a lifelong beneficiary of one of them)
What is a new (and probably the most disturbing) aspect of the modern   scene are the far-too-many people coming in with careers in mind.
The refreshing thing about the Irish music scene is the thousands of youngsters flocking in for the love of the music
Good luck to them if they make a few bob out of it, but the ones I know couldn't give a toss whether they do or not - they love the musc and that's what counts
If you want to see the end result of moneterising music you just have to look at how the Music Industry did a runner from 'The Folk Boom' and left us in peace to do it for the love of it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 05:35 AM

As someone said yesterday in another mudcat discussion "When something becomes popular, it gets monetized".

I can imagine a skilled Neanderthal singer and bone flute player being being enticed to a party in the cave further down the cliff by the promise of a belly full of mammoth steak.

People, including poor people, "making money" out of their skills seems to be a late 20th century (so in the this context "second revival") concern.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Sue Allan
Date: 14 Aug 18 - 05:20 AM

Dialect poet/song writer I know most about is Robert Anderson (1770-1833) of Carlisle, sometimes styled 'The Cumberland Bard'. He certainly aimed to make money out of his poetry and song. His first productions were songs for London's Vauxhall pleasure gardens at end of eighteenth century, and were set by James Hook. Back in Cumberland after his London interlude he found his dialect ballads had some local popularity and was encouraged to publish them. He was keen market and promote his creations as the textile industry in which he worked (he was a pattern-drawer for a calico printer) was in a bad state in the early nineteenth century.
Some of his 'Cumberland ballads', usually with a specified 'air' like those of Burns, who Anderson admired, were published in broadside and chapbook form - for most of which Anderson would have received no remuneration - but most were collected into popular editions for local consumption, usually published by subscription.
Some of his ballads were still being sung in the twentieth century and were collected by Vaughan Williams, Annie Gilchrist and others, and recorded later in the century. The songs which persisted longest though seem to be those arranged by local composers in nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and performed at local concerts. It's a complicated picture and not one easily reduced to 'folk' and 'commercial' categories.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Aug 18 - 08:18 AM

"Insider knowledge about an elfin knight? Somebody's 'away with the fairies' t"
The Elfin Knight is a centuries old ballad, but even so, it contains elements of folklore that supercede the the study of the subject - they are part of 'folk' heritage, as are many other motifs contained in the ballads
When it comes to sea songs and songs about the effects of the enclosures, broken token songs eyc. - pure folk - as is the language
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 12 Aug 18 - 08:04 AM

Sorry Jim,

Insider knowledge about an elfin knight? Somebody's 'away with the fairies' then! Sorry, could not resist that.

Tzu


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Aug 18 - 07:39 AM

"Some early recordings are sung with a local accent but that is about it. "
Sorry - I don't understand that at all
The last major collecting project in Britain was carried out in the first half of 1950s by the BBC and it covered the entire British Isles - everything that was recorded during the five years was in local accents
The greatest indication for me that these songs were 'of the people' wa their displays of accent, vernacular and insider knowledge
This is why I believe that, rather than paper chases, it is essential to examine the songs in these terms - aurally if possible
The earliest recordings we have of English traditional singing were made by Percy Grainger in 1906, all in that gentle Lincolnshire accent
How the collectors transcribed the songs for print is a different matter altogether
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 12 Aug 18 - 07:00 AM

Going back to dialect poetry:

The subject of accents is interesting, not least because the 'folk songs' we have are so seldom in them or in the dialects of the past, in which old songs by 'the people' would have been sung. Some early recordings are sung with a local accent but that is about it.

For anyone from abroad interested in hearing English accents, here are some sites where examples have been collected:

https://sounds.bl.uk/Accents-and-dialects/BBC-Voices

https://sounds.bl.uk/Accents-and-dialects/Survey-of-English-dialects

On song in social history: Roud cites sources to show that non-literate people did own broadsides, they stuck or pinned them up on their walls, in the expectation that somebody who could read would call in and decipher them. (There is also evidence that musicians who could not read music would buy sheet music and get somebody who could read it to decipher that. But I'm not sure that this is mentioned in Roud).

The argument about ballad broadsheets being unsingable would appear to be undermined by the fact that such a high proportion of the songs collected by Victorian and Edwardian collectors appeared on ballad broadsheets.

'Localisation' appears to have been in existence for some time: nowadys we have 'glocalisation' as a term. What I have read about Lady Isabel and the Elfin Knight seems to show that. The fact that people put local contexts to songs isn't necessarily here or there in terms of their actual origins.

To say more would be to go back round a circle again.

Interesting discussion.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 09:44 AM

Our literature never questioned that the people created the folk songs
Child never dealt with folk song in general and was working from printed copies, some of which, he conceded might have been literary creations
Collectors warned against interfering with what 'the peasantry' had passed on
Folk songs contain chunks of social history, as you say - what makes them important is that much of the history they contain is not available elsewhere
You can go to military records to found out how The Battle of the Nile was fought, but you have to go to the songs to find out how it felt for a ploughman to be ripped out of his roots and sent off to fight in Africa

The difference between broadside compositions and the folksongs is not similar to that of an assembly line worker helping churn of cheap ornaments for the tourists and a whalerman carving a piece of scrimshaw - one leaves a piece of himself in his creation, the other doesn't
The pressure to produce the broadsides is, I have no doubt, the reason why so many of then were unsingable
An unsingable song is simply that - unsingable - that is certainly not and aesthetic judgement; in my case if is the view of a singer who has searched the collections searching for songs
I have no idea if you are a singer - I don't even know who you are or what your involvement is
I tend to wear my heart on my sleeve

"Using the mid twentieth-century term 'pop song' in this context is, for me, an unhelpful anachronism. "
I din't introduce it into this argument - one of the leading 'print origin' advocates did when he said these songs were made for money - somewhat gleefully, I seem to remember

If I have spent thirty years placing these songs into a social context and treating them as unique and am suddenly told that they were the products of desk-bound urban hacks producing them at a rate of knots I have been wasting my time - I can take comfort from the fact that so were the rest of my generation of folk song enthusiasts
I can also take comfort from the fact that this claim doesn't hold water

A semi- literate (if that) cottage dweller buying songs and carrying them home to his ill-lit cottage to learn, adapt and lovingly remake so he or she can then turn them into the gems they are - I don't think so really
It neither makes practical nor cultural sense
If we've found out anything in the last four decades it has been that people did make songs and they could make songs, my the many hundreds
THe singers called their songs their own, they identified with them socially, personally and geographically
They may have sung all different genres of songs but they discriminate between the different genres
The actually visualised their folk songs and placed them in familiar surroundings

All this, for me, identifies these songs as being what they have always been regarded as (up to now) - "the songs" or "the voice of the people"
It will take me a lot more than earliest printed dates to show me otherwise
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 09:27 AM

From Roud's Introduction: ""... instead of asking "What folk songs did people sing?, we are more concerned with the question "What songs did the folk sing?".

Roud stopped at about 1950. In times to come Jack's woman on the bus leading Caledonia, with a smartphone as a prompt, will be part of what the folk sang. Part of the social history of non-for-money singing by 'the folk'.

I think there is an argument that my childhood experience of people on a works outing singing (probably) Music Hall and WW1 favourites on the back of a bus is closer to the folk's music than a folk club on guest night.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 08:48 AM

I see I missed out the part after 'secondly', so

and secondly, no song has 'content' to be neatly decoded in some sort of uncontroversial right/wrong manner; all we can offer are interpretations which will always reflect our own social contexts. Vic Gammon is quite good on all this. "In that I fashion something out of these materials, I do that in terms of my own cultural and historical
perspectives. Future writers with different perspectives might find different things to write about in these same materials. We cannot escape being historically constituted subjects. " (From his book on drink, death and desire).


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 08:35 AM

Hello Jim

As usual, your post covers a range of issues.

I am afraid I do not agree with the comment in the post above and elsewhere to the effect that for over a century people believed that the working person wrote 'folk songs'. I have quoted what Child said on this a number of times. The picture is more complicated than this, something Roud helps us to understand.

Songs are not 'social history'; history is basically the study of the past. Songs may be 'historical sources'. As such, they may be reliable or unreliable, biased in various ways and so on. For example, one would be unlikely to come to a full understanding of the cotton famine's causes and effects by reading the dialect poems about it that have survived.

I also agree with those who have pointed out that writing ballads is 'work' and was therefore done by 'working people'. I see no reason, in fact, why ballad sheets should not be used by social historians, and I know that they often are. Once again, there is much of interest in Roud.

It seems to me that arguments about the literary merits or demerits or the 'singability' of broadsheet balladry, especially when contrasted with the merits of 'our' folk songs, are aesthetic judgments, not historical ones. They seem difficult to maintain and prove, especially when the earliest known versions are broadsheet ones. You'd end up saying 'The people can't have written that, it's unsingable rubbish.' or 'I don't have an early version uncontaminated by print, but I'm sure it would have been much better than this.'

You write: It also meand, of course, that working people have always been recipients of (even customers for) our oral and musical cultures and not participants in their making.

I don't think it does, though in the sense that the Christian religion, for example, which influenced working people immensely, took off because a Roman Emperor was converted to it, and then there were centuries of political influence wielded by the Christian Church across the whole of Europe, then, yes, plainly the working people of this country have to a significant extent been 'recipients' of culture rather than making it.

Using the mid twentieth-century term 'pop song' in this context is, for me, an unhelpful anachronism. I am interested in the history of what ordinary people heard and sang, and since this plainly included a lot of the commercial or popular music of the day, than that is part of social history and it is worth writing about.

I would rather read Roud's account, based on written evidence from the times in question, than vague waffle about 'shamanistic duels' of the sort one encounters in connection with Lady Isabel and the Elfin Knight (there has recently been an interesting thread on that song here). Or stuff from Lloyd trying to argue that the song has its origins in one of the communist countries whose regimes so admired.

I don't think anything I have said invalidates the collecting work done by Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie or renders their lives 'wasted'. I think it might be just a tad over-dramatic to see it this way.

I found a Henry Boardman song on Spotify. He plays that old traditional English instrument - the banjo! And not particularly well.

To Guest (4.37) The "why" is tricky. The Americans devised the term 'the intentional fallacy' to describe problems in this area; the French pronounced that the author was dead not long afterwards. There are two points here, I think. First one can never know for sure what a person 'intended' and secondly,

To Jack: I agree with a lot of what you have said.

And I have now promised myself not to go round this particular circle again.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 06:24 AM

"And if they then wanted to publish it and get paid, why not, "
No reason at all
It has never been a question of them appearing on broadsides - that has always been accepted
It is a question whether the orinateded there
Much of the argument suggests that they did and the reasons given for that (when they have been given) I find unconvincing
If it is true than i means our scolars have been barking up the wrong tree from day one and people like me who have been approaching our folk songs as social history have wasted our lives.
It also meand, of course, that working people have always been recipients of (even customers for) our oral and musical cultures and not participants in their making.
Doew 'Duncan Campbell' sound as if it was made for money - of course it doesn't
Do the Beethoven Quartets sound as if they have ?
Money or sponsorship certainly played a part in the circulation of both but that is no indication of the motive behind their creation.

What do sound as if they were created for money are the many thousands of badly written and largely unsingable broadsides which, it is claimed, share their authorship with our ballads and folk songs
"It's a much more interesting book "
"Interesting" doesn't really come into the equation - I love John Griham anc C J Sansom, but I go to them for something else
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 05:44 AM

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 02:51 AM

I think we seem to be walking up the old blind alley here once again
Instead of askin who made our folk songs we should be asking why they were made
The 'print origins' people have provided their answer - for money

Then as now, people with something they wanted to say wrote a song to say it. And if they then wanted to publish it and get paid, why not, be it now or 400 years ago? Does "Duncan Campbell" read like money was the only thing in the broadside writer's mind?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 05:44 AM

It was stated above that the hand loom weaver's lament was by Bamford.

I'm not sure this is right. a) can't find it in online collections of Bamford's work b) found a book dated 188ish online saying it was taken from someone else.

Bamford was a special constable during Chartist times, some of his work seems to reflect a dislike of the movement.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 05:36 AM

It's a much more interesting book than the one you want him to have written.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 05:33 AM

"It does what it says on the tin"
Actually it doesn't - it claims to be about folk song but it is in fact a history of but it is fact a history of pop song down the ages
The earliest reaction to it I read was "oo - look, the folk didn't make folk song"
A very damaging reaction if ever there was one
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 05:00 AM

Getting back to the book. Roud sets out clearly early in the introducion what the book is about and then goes on to do that. If people want something with song texts then they know by a few pages in that they are not going to get them and why.

It does what it says on the tin*. If you want baked beans with little sausages don't by a tin that just says 'Baked Beans'.

*OK, so it may not be specific from the label but you can read a few pages of the Introduction standing in a book shop or get the whole Introduction for free from Amazon.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 04:50 AM

My thoughts exactly guest (not sure about you valuation - all songs are "shite" to those who don't like or understand them)
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 04:37 AM

"Instead of askin who made our folk songs we should be asking why they were made"

They were made for exactly the same reasons people write songs today:

To express an emotion;
To express a grievance;
To entertain;
To make people laugh;
To make people cry;
To win the heart of a potential lover;
To make a living (either money, shelter, food, or drink).

And sometimes, for the sheer hell of it.

etc, etc, etc.

A few people would have been good at at it; the majority shite.

Those few that were lucky enough to be able to live by their art would have either been inspired or have 'borrowed' their ideas from extant sources.

Plus ça change . . . . .

It's archaeology (not history) and, in the absence of supporting documentary sources, the artifact (the song!) will sometimes help one to discover the "when", "where", "what" and "how"; but very rarely can one identify the "why".


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 02:51 AM

I think we seem to be walking up the old blind alley here once again
Instead of askin who made our folk songs we should be asking why they were made
The 'print origins' people have provided their answer - for money - after half a centuries experience in folk song, that is the very last conclusion I would have reached
I think the answers to the origins and the functions of our folk songs lie in the songs themselves, not their manifestations on paper
For me, the greatest omission in Roud's book is his failure to include song-texts leaving us unable to place his arguments next to the subject of his eponymously chosen title a work on folk songs with the subject matter removed.

I firmly believe that our songs are an important part of our social history - you can't deal with them in this manner if you believe them to be commercial commodities; you can't even do that if you believe them to me merely 'entertainments'

They were made to entertain in part and they were taken up and sold, but once you start to examine them in their social context you have to realise thay are something much more than that.

I flicked through Bamford's thumbnail autobiography last night - his only reference to his songs (pooms) was the effect one of them had on his fellow-radicals - they were part of his life as a worker and a radical, not a way of putting a crust on the table.
This made them a voice of working-people's experience and struggle.
These industrial songs are only a tiny part of the equation.

WE were privileged enough to be able to look at two major traditions - one still living (for a time), and one moribund but still warm.
Apart from the repertoires the common feature of the two was the obvious desire, even need to make songs in order to capture the experiences and feelings of the communities.
That, for me, has to be a major clue of who made our folk songs.

Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 10 Aug 18 - 08:22 PM

I know I heard a radio programme about dialect poets a short while ago, and here is a relevant link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/4xDyV5CQKLMDPcrnyWMBLj8/an-ear-for-an-aye-listening-to-englands-dialect-poetry

I also foundsomething about the cotton famine poets on the BBC web site, and here is a link:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-37836654

These people were mostly poets not song writers, though.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Aug 18 - 01:15 PM

"Do you know any more about the pirating in Cork, by any chance? "
I know little about the broadside trade in Ireland, beyond the influence that O'Loughlin's street ballads and James Healey's publications had on the oral tradition I'm afraid
I do know that most of the 'big' traditional singers and storytellers mistrusted the published songs and would only use them to supplement their own oral texts
The broadside influences appeared to be largely urban
I was once told by Hugh Shields that very little is known about the trural 'ballad' trade apart from reports of it having happened
It was fascinating to interview a ballad seller
I intend re-reding Bamford’s Passages in the Life of a Radical’ tonight to see if he mentiones songmaking – it’s decades since I read it
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 10 Aug 18 - 12:47 PM

I agree with Jim about Laycock. I have just been dipping in at random. I find it mainly descriptive and mainly in the present rather than appealing to nostalgia. Description of things with emotional interest of course.

"Bowton' Yard" is well know but not typical.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 10 Aug 18 - 12:08 PM

Hi Jim

Thanks, I knew the Irish ballad trade wasn't quite as simple as I thought you had suggested. Do you know any more about the pirating in Cork, by any chance?

Thanks again.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Aug 18 - 11:14 AM

"I think Laycock does 'romanticise'; it is one of the ways he tries to create sympathy, "
I disagree totally
My understanding of romanticising is producing a roseate pastiche picture of the characters and their backgrounds - far from what these writers were - and a thousand miles from the output of the broadside presses
In some cases, their stly may have been borrowed thus their subject matter is nearer to Engles 'Conditions of the Working Class in England' than it was to Harrison Ainsworth
Jag mentioned Harvey Kershaw - a romantic poet, even though he was writing from his own background
I remember seeing him and Harry Boardman perform on numerous occasions and comparing the 'Reet Lancashire' songs with some of Harry's traditional songs - Harry was as much as chalk and cheese as to be two different singers   
Some of these poets were political activists, Bampton being a prime example - it was their activism that inspired their writing, noth their need to put food o the table

It's interesting to compare this song making tradition with that of the Irish over the same period
Both were making songs, the difference being that the Irish had rich and thriving oral tradition to draw from whereas industrial Lancashire appeared not to have.
This is certainly reflected in the songmaking
Rather than basing these arguments on the printed word you really need to judge the songs as sung.

"but I don't think it is accurate to assert that the whole trade in Ireland went like that"
The rural trade did - the towns of course were influenced by the bad poetry of the broadsides
The rural 'ballad selling trade' has been very much neglected and lumped in with the urban one - they really were very diifferent repretoires
Ironically, the ballad trade was almost exclusively the domain of non-literate Travellers, who were also the saviours of some of our best examples of Traditional ballads and folk takes - an almost pure oral tradition
Jim


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