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If you don't like ballads......

Big Al Whittle 07 May 19 - 12:40 AM
Deckman 07 May 19 - 01:08 AM
punkfolkrocker 07 May 19 - 01:13 AM
punkfolkrocker 07 May 19 - 01:18 AM
Jim Carroll 07 May 19 - 02:48 AM
GUEST,matt milton 07 May 19 - 03:54 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 May 19 - 03:54 AM
Dave the Gnome 07 May 19 - 03:56 AM
Jim Carroll 07 May 19 - 04:09 AM
GUEST 07 May 19 - 04:12 AM
Dave the Gnome 07 May 19 - 04:13 AM
GUEST 07 May 19 - 04:23 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 May 19 - 04:32 AM
Joe Offer 07 May 19 - 04:42 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 May 19 - 05:00 AM
Jim Carroll 07 May 19 - 05:27 AM
Dave the Gnome 07 May 19 - 05:54 AM
Howard Jones 07 May 19 - 06:04 AM
Jim Carroll 07 May 19 - 06:06 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 May 19 - 06:09 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 May 19 - 06:14 AM
Dave the Gnome 07 May 19 - 06:28 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 May 19 - 06:33 AM
Jim Carroll 07 May 19 - 06:41 AM
Dave the Gnome 07 May 19 - 06:46 AM
Dave the Gnome 07 May 19 - 06:51 AM
Big Al Whittle 07 May 19 - 06:57 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 May 19 - 07:08 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 07 May 19 - 07:21 AM
Howard Jones 07 May 19 - 08:25 AM
DMcG 07 May 19 - 08:48 AM
punkfolkrocker 07 May 19 - 09:23 AM
Brian Peters 07 May 19 - 09:36 AM
Howard Jones 07 May 19 - 10:22 AM
CupOfTea 07 May 19 - 10:35 AM
Dave the Gnome 07 May 19 - 11:04 AM
GUEST,some bloke 07 May 19 - 11:15 AM
punkfolkrocker 07 May 19 - 11:23 AM
Big Al Whittle 07 May 19 - 11:30 AM
Jack Campin 07 May 19 - 11:34 AM
Dave the Gnome 07 May 19 - 11:35 AM
punkfolkrocker 07 May 19 - 11:48 AM
Dave the Gnome 07 May 19 - 11:54 AM
Joe Offer 07 May 19 - 02:32 PM
Steve Gardham 07 May 19 - 04:16 PM
EBarnacle 07 May 19 - 10:51 PM
Gurney 07 May 19 - 11:10 PM
Deckman 08 May 19 - 01:21 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 08 May 19 - 01:27 AM
Dave the Gnome 08 May 19 - 03:55 AM
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Subject: If you don't like ballads......
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 May 19 - 12:40 AM

Recently the proposition was put to me that if you didn't like ballads, you didn't like folksong.

I'm not sure I agree. I like The Nightingale (both versions) The Nutting Girl, the new Deserter, come all you fair andtender maidens, brigg fair and many others.
Are they not folksongs?
In my youth I studied English and used to like reading Sir Patrick Spens...............

I confess my heart sinks rather when Matty Groves shows his face. usually someone with the words in a ringbinder. And we all know whats going to happen   The Lord offers him his choice of swords. He never says, no way chum! Custard pies, and feather dusters...the decider being the red hot poker up the bum...you first mate. .... there's never a surprise ending.

The House carpenter never points to the hills of hell and says (Chris tarrant style)...but we don't want to take you there, we're off for two weeks in Benidorm!

Got to admit, I'm rarely on the edge of my seat with these things.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Deckman
Date: 07 May 19 - 01:08 AM

You might consider getting a better seat! These tales, ballads, stories, legends, histories are what gives us our depth of understanding of what went before and what we can expect next. bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 May 19 - 01:13 AM

I'm a music person...

Words in songs usually just wash over me..
unless they are so badly written they are just too jarringly obtrusive and distracting...
Then I get irritated..

I am very happy with songs written in languages I don't understand...

I have in my vast collection, some excellently arranged musically captivating recordings
ruined by shite lyrics...

Even worse if they are sung in a glib fashion...

British bands from the 1970s tend to be guilty of these crimes..


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 May 19 - 01:18 AM

I ususlly listen to singers as if they are another instrument in an arragement...

That really makes the best solo unaccompanied folk singers so special
when they command my attention on their terms...


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 May 19 - 02:48 AM

"Recently the proposition was put to me that if you didn't like ballads, you didn't like folksong."
A bit of an over-simplification of what was said Al -
Ballads are regarded by those who like them as the high point of English-language folk song - Hamish Henderson described them as 'The Muckle (big) Songs, and MacColl and others as "The high-watermark of the tradition" - works for me
Saying you don't like them is like saying "I like theatre, but I don't like Shakespeare" or "I like reading but I don't like Dickens"
Ballads are not for reading or studying - they're concisely and movingly constructed sung stories about every aspect of human emotion and experience - from love to murder - and they do all of these in a myriad of ways, from high tragedy to humour.
The tunes tend to be plain and repetitive - they're there to carry the story, and once you get into them, they do so as brilliantly as any great work of literature - what's not to like ?
The fact they have been around as long as they have means that they satisfied a lot of people for a very long time
The most important carriers of the Ballads in these islands are the lrgely non-literate Travellers - "because we like a good story" we were told on numerous occasions
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 07 May 19 - 03:54 AM

There are good ballads and bad ballads - or I should say ones that interest me and ones that don't. Just like there are some Dickens novels that I really enjoyed reading and others (generally the earlier ones) that seem a bit like hackwork to me.

There does seem to be one hallmark of the ballads that do it for me personally: they have a sense of the epic to them. Done well, like Martin Carthy singing 'Willie's Lady' they can seem like a magic spell or a cathartic tragedy. The repetition, the fact that they do take a long time, that's all part of it.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 May 19 - 03:54 AM

Shakespeare and Dickens, perfectly valid to make the statements held up here for ridicule.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 May 19 - 03:56 AM

I like reading but I don't like Dickens. Not fond of Shakespeare either but am I not a big theatre fan. I do like ballads but they need to be performed well and not many people can carry it off. I can't, so I don't sing them. Some people think they can but can't. Which can be very off-putting.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 May 19 - 04:09 AM

" perfectly valid to make the statements held up here for ridicule."
Didn't understand that at all, I'm afraid
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: GUEST
Date: 07 May 19 - 04:12 AM

I believe the red hot poker is in Shakespeare too, by the way. The interesting question is how Shakespeare came to be so venerated, Christopher Marlow is thought by many to have been a better writer; how to explain the Shakespeare phenomenon. Interestingly, Shakespeare's plays include allusions to popular culture, with the rude mechanicals' play in Midsummer Night being an example. Bottom says he will get his friend to write a ballad about his experiences.

It shall be called “Bottom’s Dream” because it hath no bottom. And I will sing it in the latter end of a play before the duke. Peradventure, to make it the more gracious, I shall sing it at her death.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 May 19 - 04:13 AM

Just to emphasise the point, I love Steeleye Span's version of "Tam Lin". I once heard someone sing it unaccompanied at a folk club and they absolutely murdered it. The timing was all to pot, the words were garbled and if I was asked what key they sang in I would have to say all of them and more! Yet there are those who would have us believe that the folk club one is somehow better folk music than Steeleye's. It beggars belief.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: GUEST
Date: 07 May 19 - 04:23 AM

Sorry Jim.

"Saying you don't like them (ballads) is like saying "I like theatre, but I don't like Shakespeare" or "I like reading but I don't like Dickens"

It is perfectly valid to state that, despite being a fan of theatre, one doesn't not like the works of Shakespeare. It is perfectly valid to assert a dislike of Dickens despite being a reader.

This may come as a shock to you, but these are valid positions. You appear to subscribe to some sort of orthodoxy to the effect that S and D are 'great literature' and that appreciating them is the mark of a literate, cultured person. Not liking them may be a mark of the same qualities.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 May 19 - 04:32 AM

Sorry the guest above was me.

The term 'ballad' is itself an interesting one. Students of poetry may have encountered the term 'ballade', a name in prosody for a particular form of lyric poem believed to have originated in France and popular in the 14th century.

The term appears to derive from a word for 'dance', which suggests to me that rhythm was an integral part of the original form. Interesting that it came to be used specifically for narrative poetry, as well as for some traditional song forms.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 May 19 - 04:42 AM

It's hard to dislike a ballad sung by one of the great ballad singers. I don't udually like ballads, but I love them when Frankie Armstrong is singing.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 May 19 - 05:00 AM

I am thinking that it is possible to like folk music while not especially liking ballads. But so much emphasis has been put on 'ballads' i.e. narrative songs with other stuff (eg 'lyrics' ie poems expressive of feelings/states of mind) being downplayed.

The quality of the music has to be key: downplaying music as merely a vehicle for the story won't do for me. For it would appear that if we go back far enough stories were told in poetry without music at all. Anglo Saxon alliterative verse, for example.

Why bother with a vehicle for something that can carry itself?


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 May 19 - 05:27 AM

"This may come as a shock to you, but these are valid positions. "
Of course they are - if you've tried Shakespeare and Dickens in full - few people I've met have read or watched either
I'm not suggesting for one minute that you have to like either, but I do suggest that you have to have read or watched enough of them to dismiss them all out of hand
Ballads are the same there are good and (nearly wrote bad, but I probably mean not-so-good)
Their longevity and popularity within the oral tradition puts them head and shoulders over most song forms
That society is changing in a manner that people are no longer able to appreciate ballads (or Shakespeare or Dickens) doesn't devalue them in the slightest - that is a more a comment on what's happening to us.
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but an appreciation of literature and the fine arts is an indication of a literary and cultured person
It may not resonate with you personally but an acknowledgement of its importance in the development in human society goes without saying
I don't like football and I detest rubby, but I don't hesitate to regard them as an essential part of people's culture

"Steeleye Span's" approach to ballads it the antithesis to ballad singing
Wrapping a ballad in loud, intrusive accompaniment totally gets in the way of following the stories of the ballad an the tensions and emotions they promote
Steeleye turned intricate stories into loud music
I feel the same way about intrusive instrumental accompaniment where the listener could go for a pee and a pint during the long, totally unnecessary guitar breaks
Accompaniment should accompany - not dominate

I know quite few ballads, though I don't sing them as often as I would like to
They were easy to learn and easy to remember - if you learn to make them part of yourself, they are quite easy to sing - but like all singing, that depends on how much work you are prepared to put in

If people would like to hear singing at its very best (in my opinion, of course) try Sheila Stewart's 'Tiftie's Annie' (easy enough to come by) ot Martin McDonagh's 'Lady Margaret - Young Hunting (only available of 'Songs of the Irish Travellers)
Both are examples of folk creation at it's very best
Jim Carroll
I'm not going to be able to continue this - off to enjoy the tree-lined beauty of Easy Clare for a few days - we don't have trees in West Clare, as Cromwell pointed out.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 May 19 - 05:54 AM

I disagree about Steeleye Span, Jim, but each to his or her own. In my opinion, Maddie's vocals and passion come through very clearly and the instrumentation adds to the excitement. Just opinion and musical taste of course. Thanks for putting "in my opinion, of course" in your comment about the very best of singing. As we have just seen our opinions differ and that is good thing. If we were all the same it would be a boring old world.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Howard Jones
Date: 07 May 19 - 06:04 AM

Al, I would guess that you are perhaps also a person who won't re-read a book or watch a film twice. My wife is like that - what's the point, she says, when you know how the story ends? Whereas I enjoy doing both - often during the first time through I am impatient to find how the story ends, whereas on subsequent visits I can sit back and enjoy how the story is told. Ballads are the same.

Shorter folk songs can be equally predictable. You can be confident that when a man meets a fair maid and they start discussing sporting guns, card games, agricultural activities or winding wool that by the fourth verse they will be engaged in metaphorical rumpy-pumpy. Or if she spurns his advances he will turn out to be her long-lost love, unrecognised until he produces a glove, broken ring or some other token.

Like any good story, a ballad can be spoiled by a poor storyteller. The same is true of novels, films and plays. How many good jokes are spoiled by someone who cannot tell jokes, but insists on doing so anyway? Many club singers don't know how to put across a ballad, but in the hands of someone who understands how to sing them they can be electrifying.

For me, the sparse language and dispassionate way they they can tell the most harsh stories is compelling. The grisly fate which meets Childe Owlet and the manner of his betrayal never fails to send a shiver down my back, even though I know full well what happens to him.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 May 19 - 06:06 AM

"I disagree about Steeleye Span, Jim, but each to his or her own. In my opinion, "
I have no doubt you do Dave
You need to work out what ballads do to appreciate them
They are word-based stories stripped down to the bare bone - very little description, very little commentary - just plot
If you cough and miss a word you can losee the whole ballad - if you have to climb a wall of sound to hear what is being sung, you don't stand a chance
You keep using teh term "boring" - I can't remember being bored since I wass a teenager - lucky I guess
Jim


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 May 19 - 06:09 AM

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but an appreciation of literature and the fine arts is an indication of a literary and cultured person and is perfectly consistent with not liking Shakespeare and or Dickens.

I am surprised that such a critic of England should be so uncritical of a man who was paid to write plays by a monarch of England (and Scotland) and who, for example, produced history plays which portrayed 'the spectre at the feast' in a good light precisely because the monarchs of England traced their ancestry back to him.

In my view, claiming that literary and cultured persons must as a matter of definition "appreciate" (in the sense of 'like') Shakespeare is not the mark of a literary or cultured person.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 May 19 - 06:14 AM

patronised by a moron ….. mutters darkly


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 May 19 - 06:28 AM

You keep using teh term "boring"

Do I? Can you point out where please?


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 May 19 - 06:33 AM

Jim,
Perhaps, to start your education, some early Terry Eagleton might suit you? Surprised to find you so steeped in 'peti-bourgeois' ideology in respect of 'literature and culture'! Or perhaps not.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 May 19 - 06:41 AM

"Do I? Can you point out where please?"
No time now - bt you just have
"I am surprised that such a critic of England "
I've never criticised England - just its politicians
As I an English it would be self-harm to do so
If that is your analysis of Shakespeare - you really haven't beren apying attention
Shakespeare humanised Royalty and nobility and created some of the most evil villains in literature of them - he used them as the makers of our folk tales did (also full of kings, princes and the like)
You didn't really call me a "moron" did you ?
"I believe the red hot poker is in Shakespeare too, by the way."
Can'rt remember that
Edward II gets a poker rammed up his bum for taking a male lover (used to think his name was Gaviscon, but that's for indigestion - not piles!), but that was Marlowe
See ya Friday (can't remember the D J who used to say that
Jim


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 May 19 - 06:46 AM

No time now - bt you just have

Did I? I think you just made that up but, when you have time, feel free to disprove that theory. I shall remind you tomorrow if you have not done it by then.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 May 19 - 06:51 AM

Ah - OK. I did use the word 'boring' at 05:54 AM in the phrase "If we were all the same it would be a boring old world." Is that what you were referring to? If so, why object to it? It would be a boring old world if we were all the same wouldn't it?


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 May 19 - 06:57 AM

no howard i'm a sucker for old films and i've read some books repeatedly. i suppose the difference is - i don't struggle with so called magnum opuses these days.

i struggled through Dr Faustus by Thomas Mann, the philosophical bits of War and Peace, Ulysses (even the bits where the language started eating itself and I didn't understood what was going on), The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs took me nearly an entire month.

Nowadays I regard that as a waste of my life. I wish I hadn't bothered.

I used to like Taff Thomas/Tim Laycock enterprise Magic Lantern's version of Long Lankin. I appreciated MacColl's Tam Linn, because I knew about ballads and the legend of Proteus from Stuart Gilbert's book about Ulyssses - but I found it hard going.

No one's made a special effort to get my music - so why do I owe a duty of respect to people who make no effort stylistically to communicate with me.

And i love Shakespeare, the parking attendant outside the RSC in Stratford used to keep my parking space free. Skespeare is abit like ballads only working folk clubs, it only works in the theatre with actors who can speak blank verse. On video, it usually sucks. It nneeds a guy there onstage telling you the story.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 May 19 - 07:08 AM

Patronised again by a moron.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 07 May 19 - 07:21 AM

Are you suggesting Thomas McCarthy isn't appreciate in Ireland, Jack?

He was given a Gradam Amhránaí, possibly the highest token of appreciation given to any singer in this country.

I am not sure bookings at clubs quite measure up as a token of appreciation.

I think things are done differently in Ireland and do not feel a club system like the British one is a superior way of going about things. But don't let that get in the way of a good old rant, so carry on.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Howard Jones
Date: 07 May 19 - 08:25 AM

I certainly wouldn't agree with the proposition that if you don't like ballads you don't like folksong. I do agree that they represent the pinnacle of the tradition.

Like any work of art, they do require a bit of effort, but really all that is needed is the ability to concentrate for a few minutes. Few ballads take more than 7 or 8 minutes to perform, most only 4 or 5 minutes. Of course when they are performed badly concentrating for even that length of time becomes an effort. A poor singer can ruin any song.

Taste is very personal. If you just don't "get" ballads, that's fine. We all have our blind spots.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: DMcG
Date: 07 May 19 - 08:48 AM

I don't understand the proposition that if you don't like ballads you don't like folksong. Ballads are part of folksong, but even if you generally like ballads (as I do), there are likely to be some you dislike (child 95: The Maid freed from the gallows -- an exercise in dullness to me!) or can't be bothered with (the whole child section of Robin Hood ballads, for example.)

Nor do I get the business of the expected ending: I think it pretty clear how a lot of songs not classed as ballads are going to end, and irrespective of that, most people enjoy hearing songs they have heard many times and certainly know the ending to - to reference an example above: "The Nutting Girl" for some people.

How and why we like the music and songs we do, and why we don't like others, is rather mysterious, but I am always wary when people dislike a whole category, irrespective of what it is: ballads, sci fi, white wine, classical music …   It make life simpler perhaps, but I think most people will find things they like (and dislike!) in all such categories if they are open minded.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 May 19 - 09:23 AM

"Are you coming out tonight to see that new band all the music media are raving about..
There's a party for them after, we'll get in with the sound crew.
Btw, we're thinking of driving down to the coast tomorrow.
That nudey beach the arty farty student girls sunbathe at.
Are you up for that as well..???
"

"Sorry mates, can't do any of it...
I've got to stay in all weekend reading bloody Macbeth again,
writing a 4000 word essay on it for Monday morning..
bollocks.. bollocks.. bollocks..
Don't have too much fun without me you jammy bastards...
"

Shakespeare in the 21st Century...


At worst, Folk music can be a bit like that..
Ballads as badges of middle class peer group status, elitism and superiority...
Unenjoyable but good for showing you conform to expected 'higher' standards
that set you apart from the lower masses...

Posh grub that tastes like shite,
but one must pretend to have an enthusiatic palate for...

Folk ballads, the oysters of song entertainment...

...But that's exagerating the worst function of ballads in our modern culture...

Some working class folk genuinely do enjoy the flavour of oysters...

Likewise, Jim and others do make a positive case for continuing to value and apreciate ballads as expresssions of folk art,
all can enjoy with the right positive motivation...


As I said earlier, for me the music arrangement of a song is usually more important than the words.
Especially when the words and singer are the weakest link in a good ensemble performance / recording...

However, I did study English Lit and Poetry..
So I'm not completely indifferent to expertly crafted song writing..

Ivor Biggun for instance...


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 May 19 - 09:36 AM

Personally I love ballads when engagingly performed (which isn't always the case, of course), and I do think they're the creme-de-la-creme of the traditional song repertoire.

But when I first started going to folk clubs all I wanted to do was join in chorus songs, and a ballad would have been a massive turn off - yet I would still say that, back then, I 'enjoyed folk song'.

As a ballad fan I would prefer not to hear a whole evening of them and - even in a session dedicated to ballads - I always hope that someone will have the good sense to throw in one of the lighter ones to balance out all the blood-soaked epics.

Finally I must give our OP, Big Al, due praise for a line that made me laugh:

"The House carpenter never points to the hills of hell and says (Chris tarrant style)...but we don't want to take you there, we're off for two weeks in Benidorm!"


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Howard Jones
Date: 07 May 19 - 10:22 AM

Brian, although he is too modest to say so, is a superb interpreter of ballads to which he gives sensitive musical arrangements. It was his CD of Child Ballads that I reached for to quickly check the timings I quoted above. The longest on it, Sir Aldingar, clocks in at 7.34, which is probably less than the ad breaks in most TV shows these days, and considerably more interesting.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: CupOfTea
Date: 07 May 19 - 10:35 AM

Well, I do. Yet I do not see why someone's preferences would either qualify or disqualify them as lovers of folksong. One's taste is a personal thing that is only partially informed by their education, literacy, or exposure to "classics" of literature, music, song, or art. If a short attention span is the problem, this is a limitation to their experiences that I pity.

There was an "ah ha" moment for me when someone drew a parallel of listening to ballads we know to re-reading a loved book. I've always done that, with unfortunate heavy toll should they be paperbacks! But, with ballads, hearing them performed in different styles, is much like the way Shakespeare's plays have been produced in a great variety of interpretations, periods, staging. I am fond of Steeleye Span's Tam Lin, swept away in the story as completely as possible. I was also enthralled the time a storyteller friend sang it acapella (and impressed, hugely), with the eye contact and performance feel of it. I don't class one as 'better' - or more authentic, or correct, or pure - I'm not sure being a purist is any help to being an enthusiast. I do appreciate the value of acadenmic traditionalists who can give the lineage and relatives of a ballad or song; that is part of my enjoyment, but not the whole of it.

Comparing versions of ballads is perhaps the only sport I engage in, and do enjoy that there ARE differences even if I do not like the result of those differences - it means it is a vital, living, piece of culture and musical history.

Joanne in Cleveland


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 May 19 - 11:04 AM

Well said, Joanne and if I may make so bold with your Mudcat handle, the biggest criticism I ever give anything is "it's not my cup of tea" :-) Just because I may not like something doesn't mean it is not good or in some way inferior to what I do like. It is, as you say, all a matter of taste.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: GUEST,some bloke
Date: 07 May 19 - 11:15 AM

I was quite looking forward to joining in Al's game till Jim popped up with his usual irrelevant twaddle. "Ballads are not for reading or studying.."

Gosh. There's a whole library of study at the next book burning. If it wasn't for study, we'd not know how Sir Patrick died nor whether the famous flower of serving men served men....

Still, there's one in every village. I reckon there's a British commune of them over in Ireland....


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 May 19 - 11:23 AM

If you are bored with ballads...

Don't ask why, I've somehow ended up wasting the last few minutes playing

"what's the least unamusing anagram of BALLADS..."...???


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 May 19 - 11:30 AM

Well yes Brian Peters is quite wonderful and can sing anything.
A great instrumentalist and imterpreter of folk music.

I'm not unaware of the virtues of the ballads. However they remain some of my least favourite music.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 May 19 - 11:34 AM

The oldest and most widespread kinds of folk song are not ballads.

Lullabies, incantations, children's game songs, war cries, work songs, songs to animals.

I particularly like the way the Chuvash have a genre of songs you sing to barrels of beer to make it ferment properly.

The folk-club/concert scene has never figured out a way of presenting this sort of material, except by over-arranging it to hell and back first.

Many ballads are about the internecine struggles of the landed aristocracy, and we know a lot were performed for them and were appreciated because they presented those thieving thugs in a heroic light. They're not unlike the genealogical praise songs of Malian griots - basically arty arselicking.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 May 19 - 11:35 AM

Does anyone here perform any bad salads?


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 May 19 - 11:48 AM

I've been down in the kitchen waiting for a full kettle to boil...

So I asked Alexa to play track "Tam Lin"
She immediately obliged with the Fairports from "Liege & Lief"...

Yeah.. that was good..
.. My attention was automatically drawn to the lead guitar,
though the singing was a fine supporting accompaniment.
Guitar and voice working together to make this a classic recording...
But apart from the occasional word popping out over the arrangement,
she might just as well have been singing backwards or in Russian to my ears...

The music appeals and means more to my emotions than the words...

Maybe that's just my individual relationship with folk songs,
Maybe there's also many more folks like me...?????


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 May 19 - 11:54 AM

There is a version of Fairport's "Matty Groves" where the words are changed to,

"How do you like my feather bed
And how do you like my sheets
And how do you like the nice curtains
That I bought in the sales last week"

Just shows. Nothing's sacred :-D


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 May 19 - 02:32 PM

I suppose the best-known ballad singer in California, is Lani Herrmann (now mostly in Hawaii, I think). As a graduate student, Lani did the music notation for Bronson's The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads, and she really knows how to make a ballad interesting. I once asked her why we don't hear many of the Robin Hood ballads. Her response: "Well, you know, some of them are really boring."

There's a lot of truth in that. Many of the ballads in Child's canon are just plain boring. Others tell such fascinating stories that they have been performed over and over again, in countless versions.

So, for people to enjoy ballads, they need to have:
  1. A good singer
  2. A good ballad

Keep that in mind.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 May 19 - 04:16 PM

We don't hear many RH ballads because most of them were never part of oral tradition as far as we know. IMO the best of the Child Ballads are those that have gone through a long period in oral tradition and had the edges rubbed off, one reason why American versions have been so popular even in this country.

Those with only 4 or 5 versions that have not been part of oral tradition for a couple of centuries should be left like that. Those that have endured in oral tradition have done so for good reasons. Those that are non-pc can still be sung with a few minor alterations. 'Maid Freed' is dismissed as repetitive and boring but one man's meat. It is a survival from a cantefable and as a song it remains popular for the same reasons as chorus songs do. It has endured pretty well in the revival repertoire.

I have sung the more popular ones like, Mermaid, Golden Vanity, Henry Martin in the past but those that I could sing at the drop of a hat are Elfin Knight, Cruel Mother, Cruel Sister and Maid and the Palmer.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: EBarnacle
Date: 07 May 19 - 10:51 PM

Of course, the great ballads are story songs. If the singer has taken the effort to reassemble the song it can be wonderful. Take Patrick Spens as an example--The version you caught school was probably three or four verses long and except for the intro and the drowning is pretty dumb. The story is long [about 28 verses at least] and tells the whole story of why they were thrown out of Norway in Winter. It even makes sense.

I was playing Arragon in Merchant of Venice and the director asked me why I was getting the poetic part of the role when I had so much trouble with the early part. It was all about the rhythm. Much the same can be said about the Porter's role in MacBeth. The music of the words is one of the things which makes Shakespeare great.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Gurney
Date: 07 May 19 - 11:10 PM

Joe Offer said it for me up there at 4:42.
However, the original premise was about liking folksong, and some ballads and singers will bore you to your boots, regardless of what they sing. Some will convert you to folksong. Been there, found that, about 55years ago.


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Deckman
Date: 08 May 19 - 01:21 AM

A good ballad needs a good singer, a good story, a good actor, a good storyteller, a good dramatist, a good elocutionist, and a good audience! bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 08 May 19 - 01:27 AM

Why aren't many English ballads written in dialect, which would have been spoken by most people?


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Subject: RE: If you don't like ballads......
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 08 May 19 - 03:55 AM

There is the Jone (John) o' Greenfield songs. Classed as ballads in various places but I think some here may dispute that! I am sure there must be some more.


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