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New Book: Folk Song in England

GUEST 29 Jun 18 - 08:00 AM
GUEST,Tootler 29 Jun 18 - 08:01 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 29 Jun 18 - 08:46 AM
Jim Carroll 29 Jun 18 - 08:54 AM
Jack Campin 29 Jun 18 - 09:16 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 29 Jun 18 - 10:31 AM
Jim Carroll 29 Jun 18 - 10:42 AM
GUEST,Pauline Valentine 29 Jun 18 - 11:25 AM
Jim Carroll 29 Jun 18 - 12:41 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 30 Jun 18 - 06:52 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 30 Jun 18 - 07:13 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 30 Jun 18 - 07:38 AM
GUEST,Rigby 01 Jul 18 - 05:47 AM
GUEST,Derek Schofield 01 Jul 18 - 06:28 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Jul 18 - 02:55 AM
The Sandman 02 Jul 18 - 03:50 AM
GUEST,Derrick 02 Jul 18 - 04:41 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Jul 18 - 04:46 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 02 Jul 18 - 06:10 AM
Vic Smith 02 Jul 18 - 07:06 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 02 Jul 18 - 07:27 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 02 Jul 18 - 07:50 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Jul 18 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 02 Jul 18 - 08:36 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 02 Jul 18 - 08:48 AM
The Sandman 02 Jul 18 - 08:50 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Jul 18 - 09:24 AM
Dave the Gnome 02 Jul 18 - 09:46 AM
Vic Smith 02 Jul 18 - 09:54 AM
Vic Smith 02 Jul 18 - 09:58 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Jul 18 - 10:29 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Jul 18 - 10:34 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 02 Jul 18 - 01:59 PM
The Sandman 02 Jul 18 - 02:12 PM
Richard Mellish 02 Jul 18 - 02:38 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Jul 18 - 02:50 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Jul 18 - 03:45 PM
The Sandman 03 Jul 18 - 04:50 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 03 Jul 18 - 09:56 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 03 Jul 18 - 10:49 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Jul 18 - 11:07 AM
GUEST,just another guest 03 Jul 18 - 11:40 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 03 Jul 18 - 12:03 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Jul 18 - 12:10 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Jul 18 - 12:27 PM
The Sandman 03 Jul 18 - 01:25 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Jul 18 - 01:49 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Jul 18 - 02:37 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Jul 18 - 02:37 PM
Richard Mellish 03 Jul 18 - 03:26 PM
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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Jun 18 - 08:00 AM

[i]
I don't think the book purports to be anything other than popular songs that people sand rather than those they made themselves [/i]

Jim I think Vic Smiths comment was a fair one. You were arguing that the book should have been something different from what it was which I think was unfair on Steve Roud. He set out at the beginning what he was going to write about. It may not have been what you were hoping for and it's OK to say that but to dismiss the book because it focussed on the songs that people sang and where they come from and not what you wanted to see was unfair particularly when you dismissed suggestions you write such a book.

You are also far too prone to treat criticism of your stance as an attack on you personally rather than simply disagreement with your take on the book. People respect the work you have done but that doesn't mean they have to agree with everything you say on the matter. You need to learn to cope better with differing opinions.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Tootler
Date: 29 Jun 18 - 08:01 AM

Sorry Guest above was me. I hadn't noticed my cookie had expired.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 29 Jun 18 - 08:46 AM

I would have liked to discuss this book.

But, to be honest, I am reluctant to enter into a debate which so quickly becomes heated and personalised. It verges on the intimidating.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Jun 18 - 08:54 AM

"I would have liked to discuss this book. "
Please don't do so on my behalf
It's fairly obvious that those I have already attempted to discuss the book in critical terms with don't wish to do so
I think the subject is far too important to discuss in these terms so I'll leave you to it
I hope I have not put you off - sorry if I have
I'll take my arguments elsewwhere
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Jun 18 - 09:16 AM

I've just discovered the Mudcat section on 'Modes'. Off to browse it before considering new thread.

We have several threads about that. Which one in particular?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 29 Jun 18 - 10:31 AM

It isn't one person. And I would not want anybody to be leaving or any such thing.

At the risk of annoying everybody, I'm just registering a general subjective view that it's a bit like walking into the front room of a very fractious family, and one that has been fractious for a long time!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Jun 18 - 10:42 AM

"At the risk of annoying everybody,"
It's not you - it's me (as I've been told on numerous occasions!!)
I would be delighted to see a lively discussion on the book - it's a great piece of work as far as it goes
There are aspects that need discussing - but obviously not here
I've said what I have to say - your turn
Best of luck
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pauline Valentine
Date: 29 Jun 18 - 11:25 AM

I'll take my arguments elsewhere
Jim Carroll                                                   
Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go! Oliver Cromwell.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Jun 18 - 12:41 PM

In such company, how could I resist such an invitation Guest Pauline ?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 30 Jun 18 - 06:52 AM

I found a couple more reviews. Don't think these have been mentioned before. Some different pints of view.


http://www.oxonianreview.org/wp/awake-awake/

Quotation as taster

One comes away, in fact, with the impression that there is not really such a thing as folk song proper, certainly not the romanticised notions either of merry peasants and maypoles or politically radical peasants and unbounded erotic energy; nevertheless Roud comes to its defence against iconoclasts such as Dave Harker (the implicit target of the comment on class above), whose Fakesong (1985) made a lively case for the need to subject the concepts “folksong” and “ballad” to “a lengthy period of political re-education”, seeing in them little more than an attempt on the part of the bourgeoisie to “mystify workers’ culture” and prevent international solidarity.

Odd to find this in The Spectator

If Roud had written a shorter book on the decline of English folk song over the last two centuries, he could well have produced the definitive study. But when a man has written at such length on English folk song and still has the chutzpah to pronounce that ‘origins do not matter’, he is perhaps not the right person to tackle the centuries when English folk song was part of a vibrant, largely oral, British tradition.

Familiar themes for readers of this thread?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 30 Jun 18 - 07:13 AM

That Oxonian Review article is really good, lots of stuff that was new to me.

Who was the Spectator reviewer making that comment?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 30 Jun 18 - 07:38 AM

Clinton Heylin. Not a name I'm familiar with. Trust me, please, I really don't read the Spectator, it just came up via Google.

Sorry forgot link

https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/12/the-vibrant-tradition-of-english-folk-song/

At the risk of raising peoples' blood pressures, including mine, and of being accused of being 'academic', which I am not, currently meditating issues about the *methodology* for the claims about percentages. And not just the 'How do we know the broadsides/earliest printed versions are the originals?' question. I think this thread - and others - has discussed that aspect of question. And the definitional issues.

Could the book have been more explicit on the matter of methodology, or did I miss something?

I note Roud does have an example of a ballad writer who was not working class but deliberately researched a work activity to create 'realistic' songs. I am thinking this is a cat among the pigeons example. Not saying all songs with workplace details had similar origins, just noting how ***** complicated it all is.

On the criticism in one of the articles I read (or was it a post here) that he doesn't include many songs: I have his book of folk songs, so I suppose he didn't want to do songs again and felt he had something else to say.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby
Date: 01 Jul 18 - 05:47 AM

Clinton Heylin once wrote a rather good book about the New York punk rock scene called From The Velvets To The Voidoids. I had no idea he had any interest in English folk music.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield
Date: 01 Jul 18 - 06:28 PM

Clinton Heylin has just published a book on the history of Fairport Convention. One of the website comments states:
"Clinton Heylin is one of the leading rock historians in the world, with over two dozen books to his name."

Allegedly.

Derek


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 02:55 AM

Not going to get too involved here too much, in deference to Shirley Valentine, but Heylin's comments make perfect sense to me - the term 'Folk' is a reference to origins and source of the songs, so suggesting that it does not matter poses serious problems.

"but deliberately researched a work activity to create 'realistic' songs"
This subject is given a fair amount of attention in the occasionally flawed but otherwise excellent introduction to the traditional ballads 'The Ballad Tree' by Evelyn Kendrick Wells (New York 1950)
In her last chapter, 'The Literary Ballad', she discusses the practice at some length, then gives numerous examples.
For me, her summing up is a superb analysis of the difference between art or commercially produced poetry and that of 'the folk' - an essential hint as to where our songs may have originated.

"The ballad has thus shown itself, even in the few examples here commented upon, as a proving ground for poets. Its stanza and occa¬sional refrain enclose actual ballad stories reworked with new stresses, or popular legends balladed for the first time. From the more pedestrian broadsides unfortunately many early imitations arose, as can be detected by their jog-trot verse. During the Romantic period the medieval ballad, often concerned with the supernatural, held sway, and the “antique patina” was cultivated. The modern poets are hap¬pier than the older ones in the judicious use of commonplace and concrete detail, the challenging “fifth act” beginning, vagueness of time and place, effective dialogue, and approach to climax through incremental repetition. No doubt increasing acquaintance with the ballad of tradition has helped them here; certainly recent imitations approximate the traditional ballad more nearly than the early ones.
The secret powers of ellipsis and allusion are hard to acquire. Rhyme and meter are apt to be unnaturally fluid; but some compensation must be found for that aid to smoothness in traditional verse, the ballad tune, and deliberate roughness would be more regrettable. The ballad’s simplicity of language has led to some confusion be¬tween the trivial and the effective in everyday expression; and in the aping of a dialect unnatural to him the poet becomes, by an ironic turn of the tables, more instead of less literary. But in general, ballad imitation has disciplined the poet in discrimination, imagination, and economy of expression.
It is in objectivity, that veil behind which generations of folk poets have hidden themselves, that the modern imitator fails. He finds it hard to avoid interpretation; a moral, a personal reaction, or a reflection from his own experience slips out. Interest in the emotional and the pathetic lacks control, particularly when it is a motivating cause for the action; the story is not allowed to speak for itself. The supernatural becomes a source of subjective wonder and marvel, made deliberately eerie to evoke horror. The bounds of the simple ballad are thus broken down by the dual interest in action and emotion.
These tendencies are hard to suppress, even if the poet wished to do so. In many cases he does not. The ballad supplies him with an opportunity to speak symbolically in a texture of apparent simplicity. Beneath the spareness, the ellipsis, the paucity of detail, and the plain yet suggestive speech, he may imply his contrasts, comment in parables, harp us up to the throne of God or down to the hinges of Hell. From Wordsworth to Benét the study of the influence of the ballad upon conscious poetry is a chapter in the history of English verse, working in the direction of simplicity, sincerity, and art."

That works for me
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 03:50 AM

Fascinating thread creep. we now have a mention of a film called Shirley valentine. Jim ,i am intrigued, whats this about alfie


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 04:41 AM

Dick, Jim is refering to Pauline Valentine's post of 29th June 11-25am.
not the film character.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 04:46 AM

Thanks Derrick
An attempt at humour - feeble but mine own
You need to tell him that "what's it all about" is from another film!
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 06:10 AM

That quote from "The Ballad Tree" makes no allowance for a ballad being adapted in transmission - the author seems to assume that they are "composed" once and for all. It seems pretty clear from the sort of scholarship Roud and Gardham have put in that that is almost never the case - they are not the property of the original author, or of the social class that author belonged to, and radical editing is the norm.

I haven't read Roud's book yet, but maybe he covers something that I haven't seen mentioned here. Many of the very oldest songs we know seem to be lyrical fragments extracted from much longer narratives, which may have been metrical or a mixture of prose and lyric. And the editing process of oral transmission often leads to what Evelyn Wells called the "fifth act" phenomenon - the sung jumps in at the point where most of the story has already taken place, and the best songs leave a lot implicit.

Which implies that the relationship between songs and patter is not accidental. If a song is an episode in a story that everybody knows, it doesn't take much explaining. If not, explaining the background is an essential part of the performance. And which bits are included in the song and which bits left to prose explanation is going to vary over time. You don't want to look at the evolution of songs in isolation - the meaningful unit is the song together with whatever in the performance and the audience's understanding makes its narrative intelligible.

Inclusion of too much story is what makes much of Scott's output unreadable today. He was trying to emulate the sort of written mediaeval tradition where every last pernickety detail had to be left in, since the songs were often about the nobility and they wouldn't tolerate being relegated to a footnote (for an absolutely appalling example of the original practice, look at "Graysteil"). Scott went in for the same sort of aristocratic arselicking that created heraldic emblems with every ancestor included inside quarterings upon quarterings. Whereas if you didn't have a noble patron to please, you could leave Lord Muck out or muddle him up with Prince Pigshit and nobody would care. Maybe the singer would know about facts that the song omitted, but there would be a tendency for them to get lost over time.

Does Roud talk about this sort of thing? If not, who does?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 07:06 AM

Jack Campin wrote -
" Many of the very oldest songs we know seem to be lyrical fragments extracted from much longer narratives"

Undoubtedly true! I would give Child 19 King Orfeo as a prime example. The story of Orpheus and Euridice from Greek mythology turning up in manuscript forms in the 19th century in Shetland being the ones Child includes and fragments of that ballad being collected in the oral tradition there in the 1950s.

Jack Campin also wrote -
"I haven't read Roud's book yet...."

Then I would suggest that someone like himself really ought to do so quite soon.

Can I also thank Jim Carroll for his enormously thought provoking quotation from The Ballad Tree. There's another book that I will have to get down from my bookshelves to give renewed consideration.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 07:27 AM

Jack

You mention a lot of things, so not sure what you mean by 'this sort of thing' but maybe that's just me.

As Scott wasn't English, Roud doesn't cover him. But he does complain about collectors who re-write stuff, giving Percy of Reliques fame as an example, saying it his work is mostly useless as a result.

But Roud does not attempt a 'literary' analysis of the sort Evelyn Kendrick Wells appears to have provided.

I'm not sure we actually know much about written medieval songs.

Roud provides various contemporary accounts of how/what people did sing together through the centuries covered in detail in his book, but I don't recall him mentioning introductory patter. His sources are autobiographies and so on. These sources suggest that the ordinary people often sang 'commercial' materials, which for some means it cannot count as 'folk', but irrespective of definitions, I think it is an interesting aspect of popular culture and one worth noting.

Roud does acknowledge change through time. He collects and indexes different versions of songs, and their sources. I think he asserts that once print happens, you won't get a 'pure' oral tradition, another idea which is controversial. I think Jim Carroll would perhaps argue that 'folk' singers knew which songs were 'in the tradition' and which were not. Roud thinks that written and oral intertwine over time.

Hope I haven't misrepresented this.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 07:50 AM

I'll second what Vic said about Jim's contribution. Ditto about reading Roud.

I realised after reading it how my own childhood music experiences singing songs from books round the piano played (not well) by Mum were influenced by folklorists and American songs, including what I now know something about, minstrelsy. I hadn't thought of it quite that way before. And of course, minstrel troupes did come to Britain


Roud refers to 'community singing' and I have a edition of the Ernest Newton Community Song Book (1927ish), which includes Rule Britannia, Ye Banks and Braes, The Harp that Once, Shenandoah, and The Maple Leaf For Ever as well as some labelled 'traditional'.


I googled Wells, and she knew Sharp and taught children dances he taught. That's partly how they financed their trip to Appalachia.

Returning to thoughts raised by Jack: Roud (and this is another gem) explains how libel cases relating to ballads could end up in the Star Chamber, and people are studying these cases. He relates a story about three blokes caught singing something somebody didn't like being punished, including being made to ride backwards on a horse. It wasn't just what the royals thought of your songs you had to watch out for.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 08:12 AM

"the author seems to assume that they are "composed" once and for all."
The singers were unlikely to accept the stilted language the early 'pretenders" used in their compositions - many of them would not have access to them anyway because of limited literacy skills, a major part of her book
She makes the interesting point that, at a later stage, rather than the singers adapting the imitations, the poets attempted to adjust their styles to folk forms.
One of the problems of all this is that the information we have from the singers, beyond the 'name, rank and serial number' stage is incredibly limited - virtually non-existant
The 'Steves' research' is based largely on speculation, what else did they have?

If you read Maidment's notes and some of Burns', Scott's and Hogg's comments, you get a different picture, but even that is bitty and largely second-hand
Our understanding of the oral tradition, with a few notable exceptions, doesn't predate the beginning of the 20th century, when the oral tradition was terminally moribund.

As for our later singers, few were asked for anything beyond the songs (in Britain and Ireland, that is); based on our own limited experience, our singers had a very different picture of their songs than the Steves.
I anybody had asked Walter Pardon, 'When the Fields Were White With Daisies' would never have been given a Roud number

Questioning these singers was extremely difficult; yo balanced a tightrope between getting information and intruding with your own ideas
When you managed it, it was extremely rewarding and informative.

'singers knew which songs were 'in the tradition'
Not really Pseudo (hate these names - they always sound as if you are being rude)
The singers we recorded described their songs as "real" and identifed with them as individuals
They saw the characters and the surroundings visually, as they sang and they identified sympathetically with teh action
I'm sure yuou know the Dillard Chamdler story of when he sang 'Little Musgrave' and punctuated it by saying "If Id been there I'd 'uv hid behind the door and shot Lord Barnard in the back when he come in".

We once carried out an experiment with a singer we became very friendly with, Traveller, Mikeen McCarthy.
We got him to sing a couple of traditional songs and asked him what hee saw when he sang them - full descriptions of people, clothes, surroundings, he told us, "we often drove pat the door of that cottage when we was tinsmithing" (he had a verse and a half only of that song
Then we got him to sing two tear-jerkers: 'I Wish all my Chidren were Babies Again and'The Night You Gave Me Back My Ring' - no pictures, nothing whatever   

Steve R's statement about literacy is simplistic - it really isn't that easy.
English and Scots Travelers are the greatest source of our ballad repertoire; both were basically 'non literate' when the oral tradition was still functioning

Sorry - I'm banging on again
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 08:36 AM

Responding now to Heylin; he is perhaps unfair to Roud in ascribing ignorance of song histories to him. He says Roud's stuff seems only to go back to 1765, 325 years after Child #1 was first noted down.

I looked through my copy of Bishop and Roud's Penguin Book of songs, and discovered one where they noted that Child (the expert cited by Heylin) had missed something. Forget which one now!

I think it is unfair of Heylin to Roud to state out of context that he believes 'origins don't matter'.

And I imagine that some who take an 'origins' view of the 'correct' definition of 'folk' might agree that this review tends to take cheap shots and does not do Roud justice.

It would be interesting to know where Heylin thinks anybody is going to find the material to produce the book he wants about the 'centuries' when folk music was 'part of a thriving, and largely oral, British tradition', even leaving aside the rather broad brush approach suggested by the word 'British'.


I'm not certain Heylin read past the introduction, to be honest.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 08:48 AM

Jim

Thanks for the clarification of your views. Apologies for inadvertently misrepresenting. Also feeling inclined to get a copy of Wells' book.

You could call me 'pseu', and not think about the spelling. Would that do?


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 08:50 AM

jim ,i know that, my attempt at feeble humour.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 09:24 AM

"Also feeling inclined to get a copy of Wells' book."
I don't know how involved in folk song you are; can I just reiterate that the book has flaws (Aberdeenshire has moved into the Scots Borders somehow).
It is an excellent introduction to the 'feel' of the ballads (it added immensely to my love of them)   
Two other authors, Madge Elder (Ballad Country) and Willa Muir (Living With Ballads), do the same job but not in as much detail

"my attempt at feeble humour."
Just making sure Dick !!!
Everybody knows your song is from the Elizabethan tragedy; in full, it should read, "What's it all about Malfi"
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 09:46 AM

So, pseudonymous, could you be a boy named pseu?

My even feeble attempt at humour.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 09:54 AM

Jim Carroll wrote
"What's it all about Malfi"

Yes, I'm sure that Burt Bacharach had Elizabethan tragedy in mind when he wrote that great hit for both Cilla Black and Dionne Warwick; but I'm sure that not the only example of Burt taking songs from the drama of that era. Burt also wrote "Another Lear Falls" which was a great hit for the Walker Brothers.

I feel I ought to point out that neither of these songs have Roud numbers.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 09:58 AM

could you be a boy named pseu?
I never thought it likely that humour would break out on this thread!


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 10:29 AM

""Another Lear Falls""
Oh dear, what have I started?
Next stop
Volpone
oh, oh
The Changeling,
Oh, oh, oh, oh

JIm


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 10:34 AM

Beg pardon -
That last should be:
"The times they are a Changeling"
Must ne this heat!!!
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 01:59 PM

Humour much needed on this thread. It's been too much like

"The ring of ire"

Tzu


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 02:12 PM

Lear was also a very good artist. how about another pear falls, from the group isaac newton was wrong, aka the flat earth society


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 02:38 PM

Jim said (inter alia) "the term 'Folk' is a reference to origins and source of the songs, so suggesting that it does not matter poses serious problems."

Not sure whether you intend "source" to be synonymous with "origins", or to refer to the "source singer" from whom a song is collected, or what.

But anyway that's not quite what the Steves and others are saying. The person from whom a song was collected certainly matters, and the origin matters if it can be positively identified, possibly telling us something about the originator and providing a reference point for comparison with what has happened to a song in subsequent transmission (orally, through print, or some of each). But origin and source are among a variety of possible criteria by which one might try to decide which songs are "folk" and which are something else.

Consider for example Freda Palmer, who learnt much of her repertoire from her aunt and a double CD of whose songs was recently published by Musical Traditions Records. First, read the description of her on that page. Then look at the track listing.


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

"Humour much needed on this thread"
Was hoping to get in 'The Faust Time Ever'
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Jul 18 - 03:45 PM

Sorry 'bout that (and the damned doule posting)
Washed up the tea things and had my shower
Richard
"origins", or to refer to the "source singer"
I refer to origins
I don't wish to te-tread the arguments above, but for the sake of those who were not around or have forgotten

My introduction to this argument (seems a lifetime ago)was when I quoted MacColl's statement at the end of The song Carriers;

"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"

I was accused by one of the 'print origin' advocated of being 'starry eyed for believing "such romantic nonsense"
The song Carriers covered the whole known repertoire of foldk-song, from the Frog and the Mouse", the first folk song named in print in 1550 as being sung bty shepherds, to a song describing the death of an Irish labourer killed in Birmingham during the blitz
You really couldn't get more comprehensive than that.
After a while, the argument changed - my protagonist said he only meant the songs collected in the latter half of the 19th century when he claimed 90 plus percent of them had originated in print for money
Ist goal shift

I've always accepted MacColl's statement on the spread of composers
When Roud's book came out, the term had been re-defined to include everything the folk sanf (presumably everything from the National anthem and 'Hymns ancient and Modern to 'You'll Never Walk Alone'
Another major goal shif which, for me, removes the sociali uniqueness of the music I have spent my laife following

Sorry
Can't finish - duty calls
Will continue tomorrow
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 04:50 AM

@But origin and source are among a variety of possible criteria by which one might try to decide which songs are "folk" and which are something else.]
not according to the 1954 dfinition, according to that definition, football chants are folk, the origin.. often popular music ill never walk alone] the source the people who attend football matches. im sorry but i am not going to accept that such dross as the wheelbarrow song[notts county] is acceptable as a folk song i am certainly not going to pay to hear it sung in a folk club


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 09:56 AM

So what does Roud actually say on definitions.

Roud calls the chapter where he discusses definitions 'Is There Such a Thing as Folk Song Anyway'? That might be seen as a bit provocative.

Whatever your views on definitions, it seems to me that Roud's chapter is worth reading. He explains how the term 'folk song' was used between 1870 and 1900 by 'various individuals in England' to refer to the 'repertoires of song and styles of singing' which seemed different from classical (what in the USA they call 'Art') music and the commercial music of the day. For various reasons they set about 'collecting' material, and proselytising. Those collectors had specific views of what counted as 'folk', so their collections, Roud says, did not reflect the whole range of songs sung by working people, their actual musical practices. They were not interested in the context in which the singing took place. Their agenda was partly nationalistic (England had been accused of not having any 'native' music, and partly to some extent based on class sympathies).


Roud explains that a 'cultural survivals' theory underpinned much of the argument of the Victorian folklorists, an idea linked with what he calls a 'Romantic Nationalist' view that all cultures go through similar 'folk' stages. Sometimes, Roud suggests, people assume that anything 'vaguely "folky"' must be old, and is evidence of early stages, when this is unproveable.


This interest died out, though the singing did not, not entirely, until after the 2nd World War when there was a 'revival', drawing much inspiration from abroad, which is where the folk singer with guitar seems to come in (though American influences began earlier than this eg the banjo).


Starting after the 1960s there was a strong left-wing attack on the early collectors, who were seen as being bourgeois and self-interested. One David Harker is a key figures here.


Roud says all this gave rise to two things: 'folk song for use' and the 'burden of expectation'.


The label folk song for use refers to the fact/idea that people coming to folk song have often wanted to do something with it, have been involved in a 'movement', whether this was to foster national pride or to counteract the 'evil influences of pop music'. For Roud, this inevitably meant 'compromises to make the material more easily accessible, up to date and relevant to todays society'. Roud says here that both the Edwardians singing folk in evening dress and the guitars and denim (blush blush) of the post war generation were 'incongruous' but justified in terms of the need to spread the message. Maybe the adopted accents mentioned in this thread are examples of this incongruity? Maybe not.


The 'burden of expectation' problem, as described by Roud, is what gave rise to the 'bitterness' of attacks such as Harker's, when it was discovered that folk song's potential for furthering particular causes was less that had been hoped for.

Roud thinks that this 'burden' led to a) tinkering and b) people writing their own 'folk songs', thus wandering away from the ideal of 'authenticity'. I write as a person who for a short while imagined that Dirty Old Town was authentic folk music, whereas now I think it was a commercial piece and that it is about Salford. But I still like it.

You can see that there may be problems in defining 'folk' in such a way as to include Dirty Old Town and Child Ballad Number One, which Heylin's Spectator review moans has such a low Roud number.

Roud than makes some claims of his own. For him, for example, 'there was not been a pure oral tradition for at least 500 years, not least because most folk songs owe their continued existence to their regular appearance in print'. He also comments that many songs later recorded as 'folk songs' were written by professional or semi-professional song-writers and poets. He then makes what for me is the crucial remark in terms of Roud's definition of 'folk'. He says:


"But what matters is that, of all the songs available at any given time, the ploughboys, milkmaids, miners and weavers took hold of some, and liked them enough to learn them and sing them, to make them their own and pass them on, and this makes them well worthy of our notice"


This point about learning it, singing it, making it their own, and passing it on, seems to me to be crucial in Roud's 'use' definition.


It certainly is not a simple matter of Roud stating that 'pop' music is 'folk' just because one person does an open-mike version of it.

Roud explains his thinking further:

'It is not our purpose here to discuss whether any of the modern styles {by this he means eg folk=rock, singer-songwriters} are 'folk' but what we are doing, in effect, is to reclaim the word from all its additions and accretions, to get back to something approaching what the Victorians and Edwardians meant by the word, but with additions and corrections of our own based on a re-interpretation of the evidence from their time.'

Roud also emphasises the 'process' whereby folk songs are created: again, for him the passing on of a song seems crucial.


However, Roud questions whether one definition can hold for 'all time'. He questions whether the historical narrative should be the same for different countries, whether it should be the same for Wales, the Scottish Highlands, and Ireland as for North America and New Zealand. This makes sense to me. The cultural contexts look different.


He therefore refers to his own definition/s as being 'attempted' suggesting an awareness that people coming later may see things differently as a result of their own context, and also, for me, expressing a certain amount of modesty.


So, for example, he says that many of the early conclusions about the origin of a song were speculative because 'we do not know where many of the tunes came from'. He gives Child as an example of an 'origins' theorist, saying he started a fashion for believing that folk songs came from the medievalk minstrel era because 'it was this aspect that gave the material its particular character, and also gave the ballad importance in the literary world'. This makes sense because in his day job Child wrote books about Geoffrey Chaucer who was 14th century. Child was a 'philologist'.


{It's a pity, perhaps, that Roud does not delve into the racialist thinking underpinning early editions of the American Journal of Folklore (eg Vol 1 No 1 1888). Thinking went beyond 'national' folk cultures.}


Then Roud gives a statemtn about his definition(Not his definition):
'..it must be clearly stated that the key component of the definition of 'folk song' in ths book is that it is the process through which songs pass in the brains and voices of ordinary people which brands them as 'folk'. Therefore, songs which the ordinary people have adopted as their own, regardless of origin, constitute in some way or another their collective voice and are 'folk songs'.

...'It is not the origin of a song which makes it 'folk' but what the 'folk' do with it.

Roud also suggests that maybe it not any one characteristic that should be crucial, but that it might be a matter of degree.

As already discussed on this thread, this definition is controversial and will not please everybody. It may exclude some work that some people strongly believe should be counted as 'folk'.

But I think we ought at least to pay Roud, who has produced a fascinating and carefully evidenced book, the courtesy of trying to deal with his ideas about definition as they are, and not over-simplify them.

Was it on this thread that somebody quoted Wittgenstein on language games?

NB Sandman: I can see where you are coming from, but there's a lot of stuff labelled folk in some contexts that I might not listen to for free on aesthetic grounds, especially medieval ballads in a language I can barely understand in print and no doubt would not understand at all if 'oral', but I can see that football songs that emerge from the terraces might be a fruitful source of stuff I might generally be happy to label folk. Drunken group sing-song activity: seems traditional enough to me. And 'You'll never walk alone' seems a good example. Pity nobody set the offside rule to music: that would make a good folkloric textual study.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 10:49 AM

I can see that football songs that emerge from the terraces might be a fruitful source of stuff I might generally be happy to label folk. Drunken group sing-song activity: seems traditional enough to me. And 'You'll never walk alone' seems a good example.

And its tune also fits a traditional pattern, if you want to reinforce that categorization on stylistic grounds. The rising sequence and overall contour is much the same as "Hey tutti tati" aka "Scots Wha Hae".


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 11:07 AM

Pseu
Not got a lot of time now - just thought I'd comment in passing
You may well regret opening the Pandora's box of definition - 'a lorra men did and a lorra men died'
The problem with Roud's, or anybody's re-definition depends on whether you can redefine something that is no longer alive
Can you re-define 'Elizabethan Madrigals' or 'Medieval Hymns' or 'Victorian Parlour Ballads'?
You can't, in my opinion.
You can certainly fill out existing definitions with information that has been missed, but this is not what the re-definers have done

I believe 'folk song' to be a specific term which defines who made them and continued to re-make them.
When Sharp and his colleges were operating, they believed that they were 'hearse-chasing', and to a degree, to a great degree they were correct.
New songs were not being made, the places for singing had largely disappeared and the dominance of broadsides meant that the songs were still-born (we have lots of examples of old singers who wouldn't dream of altering a printed text)
Eventually, the singers changed from being active participants in their culture to passive recipients of it

We were lucky to have worked in two major traditions.
The Irish Traveller song culture was very much alive when we started, open air and pub singing sessions were common and self-made songs were still being created
Within eighteen months of our starting, the singing tradition screeched to a halt when the Travellers got portable televisions and the singing and songmaking stopped
There's been a bit of a revival since, but that's what it is - a revival
While we missed the best, we did have the opportunity of working with people who had been part of a living tradition.

In the West of Ireland, the singing tradition all but died by the beginning of the 1950s, with the exception of the Gaeltachts.
till a lot of old singers and plenty of songs but not many venues.
Where Irish settled singers were remembering songs from a rich living tradition, the English singers were remembering songs which has been learned from forebears who were remembering them - second or third hand.
I don't believe you can re-define anything from those situations.

"Dirty Old Town"
MacColl denied that any of his songs were 'folk songs' - he made a point of doing so
He did believe that making new songs might eventually lead to the recreation of a tradition, but that never happened, a couple of his Traveller songs nearly got there, but the singing tradition died before they took root.

MacColl was a strong supporter of Lloyd's statement in the last chapter of his 'Folk Song in England':
"If 'Little Boxes' and 'The Red Flag' are folk songs. we need a new term to describe 'The Outlandish Knight'. Searching for Lambs' and 'The Coal-owner and the Pitman's Wife'."
So am I
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,just another guest
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 11:40 AM

Can you re-define 'Elizabethan Madrigals' or 'Medieval Hymns' or 'Victorian Parlour Ballads'?

Are those definitions? Or are they categories?

Roud explains what he means by 'folk song' for the purpose of his book. He seems to have made a determined effort to try to find out what 'the folk' sang without being constrained by other people's pigeonhole labels.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 12:03 PM

Thanks for your contribution Jim.

I think I am coming to a view that I don't mind what definition people use so long as they accept it isn't the only one.


The MacColl example was an example of my own confused ideas on the subject. There will be many like me who are unaware that MacColl denied being a writer of folk songs.

In a general philosophical sense, might I suggest that the argument about defining something that no longer exists begs a question about what did exist, for how long, and whether it was in any meaningful sense 'the same' thing at all points during its existence. To put this another way, would the singers singing a song at all points along its theoretical long existence have said the same sorts of things about it?

As it happens, I am sure that historians do and continue to argue about the nature and significance of Medieval Hymns. That is human nature!

I will disagree with you about the places for singing disappearing, unless you qualify it. I had a great uncle who was a pub pianist (though non-musically-literate), one of those who played by ear in a pub for people to have a sing-song. This is in England, a largely Victorian pit village as it happens. Also regarding pubs:in my own local in the 80s, one front room had singers in on a Friday night: they sang World War 2 songs mostly, at least that was how I generally thought about it: I cannot list all the songs.   

I am quite happy for The Outlandish Knight and The Coal-owner and the Pitman's Wife to be named differently from eachother. They seem to reflect quite different social practices. However, the origins of both seem obscure (judging from a quick google search), and in the case of the latter, potentially unreliable. So on an 'origin' basis, I'm not sure we get much further.

And on the Red Flag: I suspect that the song 'The People's Flag is Deepest Pink (It's not so red as people think) may in fact demonstrate that whatever its origins it went some way towards becoming a 'folk song' according to Roud's definition, if not all the way, as it would need to have been passed on again to fit with it. I heard this version sung during a battle against pit closures, but cannot remember any more of it.

I don't think that Roud is claiming that anything sung by 'ordinary people' automatically and immediately becomes folk. He speaks of a 'process'. I am not saying you take a different view of Roud's definition, just trying to be clear about what it is.


Thanks for your contributions. Interesting debate.

Tzu


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 12:10 PM

They are definitions of a specific art form from a specific period in history, I would have thought
"He seems to have made a determined effort to try to find out what 'the folk'"
Yet he doesn't use the term "folk" as it has been defined since the 1830s by William Thom and how it has been identified in many thousands of works of literature ever since
If we accept this re-definition we are no longer talking about the same thing as Child or Bronson or Wimberley or Geould or Broadwood or Kidson, or Gummere or Greig or Lomax or Wilgus or Studer........
Don't you find that a serious problem?
I'm afraid I find it insurmoutable
What do we say to anybody coming to folk song for the first time - "forget all that old nonsense" ?
Glad I'm not going to be around to have to sort out that one
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 12:27 PM

I did say "largely disappeared" Pseu
I used to go to pubs in Manchester where they had a pianist and one along the Stretford Road had an amateur night where the Guvnor would pay a prize (£5 I think) for the best performance
I was a regular at that one, but I never tried my hand - you'd be shouted off the stage if you embarked on Barbara Allen or Van Dieman's Land
These were more passively received entertainments' rather than song-swapping and reminiscing with people you knew
Regading definition, if we are going to communicate one with the other we need to do so using the same language
I believe it is a failure to do that that sent the folk scene spiraling down in flames in the 1980s
Jim


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 01:25 PM

I believe it is a failure to do that that sent the folk scene spiraling down in flames in the 1980s.
a debatable remark and one that is an over simpification.
MacColl may have denied that he was a writer of songs but he did not refuse royalty cheques,however Bert Lloyd did pretend that he had not written or added to songs but was concerned only with improving the tradtional repertoire.


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 01:49 PM

"MacColl may have denied that he was a writer of songs
Who said he denied being a write of songs?
I said he didn't call the songs he wrote 'folk songs'
"but he did not refuse royalty cheques"
He was a professional singer and song writer - do you object to such people getting paid fro what they do?
You have no idea what Bert did - nobody does
Much said about is unproven speculation
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 02:37 PM

Should read
"Much said about Bert is unproven speculation
Jim Caarroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 02:37 PM

Should read
"Much said about Bert is unproven speculation
Jim Caarroll


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Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 03 Jul 18 - 03:26 PM

"Much said about Bert is unproven speculation"

On the other hand much else said about him is supported by reliable evidence.

Neither of which has much to do with either Steve's book or the argument about whether to define folk song by origin, practice or any of the other possible criteria.

Jim, you claim that Roud has departed from a previously widely accepted definition of folk song, but exactly what definition have you in mind, who used it and where did they state it? You can't mean the "1954" definition because that one is not restricted by origin.


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