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Child Ballad site

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MMario 22 Feb 02 - 01:29 PM
Kernow John 22 Feb 02 - 01:39 PM
GUEST,JJ 22 Feb 02 - 01:42 PM
masato sakurai 22 Feb 02 - 02:07 PM
DMcG 22 Feb 02 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,Russ 22 Feb 02 - 02:26 PM
MMario 22 Feb 02 - 02:33 PM
GUEST,JJ 22 Feb 02 - 03:38 PM
MMario 22 Feb 02 - 03:57 PM
Jon Bartlett 22 Feb 02 - 04:12 PM
GUEST 22 Feb 02 - 05:44 PM
GUEST,JJ 22 Feb 02 - 05:48 PM
Art Thieme 22 Feb 02 - 07:14 PM
Bill D 22 Feb 02 - 08:25 PM
MMario 22 Feb 02 - 09:04 PM
MMario 22 Feb 02 - 09:39 PM
MMario 23 Feb 02 - 12:09 AM
DMcG 23 Feb 02 - 09:42 AM
GUEST,JJ 23 Feb 02 - 09:58 AM
Malcolm Douglas 23 Feb 02 - 10:47 AM
masato sakurai 23 Feb 02 - 11:59 AM
Susan of DT 23 Feb 02 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,JJ 23 Feb 02 - 03:24 PM
Bearheart 24 Feb 02 - 01:33 AM
toadfrog 25 Feb 02 - 10:22 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 25 Feb 02 - 10:53 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 25 Feb 02 - 11:04 PM
dick greenhaus 26 Feb 02 - 10:42 AM
radriano 26 Feb 02 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Giac, not at home 26 Feb 02 - 12:13 PM
MMario 01 Mar 02 - 09:34 PM
MMario 22 May 02 - 09:23 PM
MMario 24 May 02 - 10:44 PM
MMario 24 May 02 - 10:49 PM
MMario 25 May 02 - 10:19 PM
DMcG 26 May 02 - 04:13 AM
MMario 26 May 02 - 08:10 AM
MMario 23 Jun 02 - 10:34 PM
Cap't Bob 23 Jun 02 - 11:43 PM
MMario 04 Jul 02 - 09:19 PM
MMario 25 Aug 02 - 09:53 PM
Malcolm Douglas 26 Aug 02 - 01:16 AM
Jon Bartlett 26 Aug 02 - 02:22 AM
MMario 26 Aug 02 - 08:26 AM
Malcolm Douglas 26 Aug 02 - 10:48 AM
Jon Bartlett 26 Aug 02 - 06:04 PM
MMario 26 Aug 02 - 08:24 PM
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Subject: Child Ballad site:
From: MMario
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 01:29 PM

I haven't seen this before

THE CHILD BALLADS


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: Kernow John
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 01:39 PM

Thanks for flagging this up MMario
KJ


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: GUEST,JJ
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 01:42 PM

Thanks for that Mmario.

Great resource. Shame that's all on one (very) long page though.

The page is 3.5 Mb! A big issue for those with slow connections

JJ


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: masato sakurai
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 02:07 PM

MMario, thanks a lot for the link! I downloaded at once.
~Masato


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: DMcG
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 02:09 PM

Yes, one big file is a pain for downloading - but not as much as 300-odd separate files!


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 02:26 PM

MMario,
Thanks for the tip. Great site. I have a set of the Dover reprints. I bought them so long ago they only cost $2.75 per volume.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: MMario
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 02:33 PM

Now if someone would just post Bronson....


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: GUEST,JJ
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 03:38 PM

MMario,

What exactly do you mean, when you wish that someone would just post Bronson...?

I have access, via my library to 3 volumes of Bronson.

I know how to turn notes into midi, and would be happy to start doing so, if I could see that as being part of a bigger project.

JJ


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: MMario
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 03:57 PM

uhm....do you really mean that? I have access to the condensed one volume edition. I've been working on it a little at a time, but am only up to page 59. (I think that's through # 13) I have been copying the lyrics to text files and setting one verse to the tune. Using Noteworthy Composer. (Nwc files can be read by a noteworthy reader addin for your browser - and NWC can be converted to midi or abc)

I've been toying with the idea of posting it on the web -but since I don't have any server space myself haven't done much.

I also am willing to contribute to a larger project - but don't want to coordinate it.

Any ambitious people out there with lots of time?

Meanwhile - JJ, have you seen the list of missing tunes from the DT? Some of them I am sure are in the complete Bronson.

someone stop me before I scare JJ off


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 04:12 PM

Thanks to all involved here, a real labour of love!

Jon Bartlett Vancouver Ballad Group


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 05:44 PM

MMario,

You've not put me off.

I'll go to the library next week, photocopy a few pages of Bronson and send you the results.

Say, I start at #50 so as not to replicate your work?

JJ


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: GUEST,JJ
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 05:48 PM

...I'm happy to do MIDI transcriptions, but fitting the lyrics to the tunes will have to be done by somebody else.

Sorry

JJ


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: Art Thieme
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 07:14 PM

Thank you.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 08:25 PM

if this happens, we are all gonna wish we'd bought stock in paper & CD manufacturers.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: MMario
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 09:04 PM

Sound good to me JJ.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: MMario
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 09:39 PM

This is what I have transcribed so far:

From
THE SINGING TRADITION OF CHILD'S TRADITIONAL BALLADS
Bronson - 1976

1.1 A Riddle Wisely Expounded
1.3 There was a Lady in the West
1.4 The Three Sister
1.5 The devil's Nine Questions

2.1 The Laird of Elfin
2.3 Redio-Tedio
2.6 Scarborough fair
2.15 The Tasks
2.22 Whittingham Fair
2.23 Strawberry Lane
2.31 The Sea side or The Elfin Knight
2.35 The Lover's Tasks
2.53 An Acre of Land

3.1 The False Knight
3.1a The False Knight and the Wee Boy
3.5 The False Knight upon the Road
3.7 The false Knight upon the road
3.8 The False Knight upon the Road

4.28a The Outlandish Knight
4.30 The Outlandish Knight
4.40 The Outlandish Knight
4.56 The Outlandish Knight
4.61 Pretty Polly
4.67 Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight
4.81 un-named
4.83 May Colvin
4.95 The Knight and the Chief's Daughter
4.98 Pretty Polly
4.101 Pretty Polly
4.106 Laddy Isabel and the Elf Knight
4.124 The King's Seven Daughters
4.127 Six King's Daughters
4.130 The Outlandish Knight
4.135 Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight

5.1 Chil' Brenton
5.2 Lord Bengwill or, Lord Bingwell
5.3 Aye the Birks a-bowing or Lord Dingwall

7.1b The Brave Earl Brand and the King of England's Daughter
7.3 The Douglas Tragedy
7.11 Earl Brand
7.23 Earl Brand
7.25 Lord Douglas
7.37 Sweet William and Fair Ellen

9.1 The Heiress of Northumberland
9.4 The Flower o' Northumberland
9.5 The Flower of Northumberland
9.6 The Flower of Northumberland

10.7 Binnorie or The Cruel Sister
10.13.2 The Two Sisters
10.28 The Two Sisters
10.35 The Two Sisters
10.42 The Two Sisters
10.49 There was a Squire of High Degree
10.50 The Two Sisters
10.53 The Two Sisters
10.55 The Two Sisters
10.61 The barkshire Tragedy
10.67 The Two Sisters
10.79 The Cruel Sister
10.81 There lived twa Sisters
10.83 The Swan Swims so Bonny, O

11.1 There waur three Ladies in a Ha'
11.4 The Cruel Brother
11.6 The Three Maids
11.9 Flowers of the Valley

12.1 Lord Ronald my son
12.8 Lorendo
12.14 Lord Randal
12.24 Lord Ronald
12.31 Lord Ronald
12.33 Lord Ronald, my son
12.35.1 Lord Ranald
12.35.2 Lord Randal
12.43 Lord Ronald
12.43.2 Lord Donald
12.48 Lord Randal
12.53 Lord Randal
12.60 Where were you all the day, my own pretty boy
12.72 Lord Ronald my Son
12.84 Lord Rendal
12.90 Lord Rendal
12.94 Henry, my son
12.97 King Henry, my Son
12.98 Willie Doo
12.99 The wee little crodin'doo

12.ap.2 My Boy Tommy,O
12.ap.6 Billy Boy
12.ap.15 My boy Willy
12.ap.20 Billy Boy

13.2 Edward
13.3.2 Son David

I have a few others where I've done the text but not tune


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: MMario
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 12:09 AM

plus:

13.8 Edward
13.11 Edward
13.22 Edward

14.1 The Duke of PErth;s Three Daughters
14.3 The bonny Banks of Virgie-O
14.7 The Banks of Fordie
14.7.1 The Banks of Airdrie

wow ! I'm up to page 64! only 455 pages to go in this book. Have the text and NWC files up to there- can supply midi or abc or songwright.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: DMcG
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 09:42 AM

Re the orignal Child HTML page. Has anyone figured out what the C\, \R, \r, \N \e characters should be?


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: GUEST,JJ
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 09:58 AM

I think these are just cases of the scanner not fully recognising the the text.

Both /R and /r should be "I'll" for example

JJ


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 10:47 AM

The text was extracted from Cathy Lynn Preston's  A "Working" KWIC Concordance to Francis James Child's The English and Scottish Popular Ballads,  and errors such as the above are probably due to the (apparantly inconsistent) way the original database was formatted.  Unfortunately, sources are not given, so the texts are of more limited use, as things stand, than they could be.

Meanwhile, the Loomis House reissue of E&SPB is now priced at $24.95 paper and $34.95 cloth for each volume (very much cheaper than the prices typically asked for the 1960s Dover paperback edition); vol.1 should be out soon.  Information


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: masato sakurai
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 11:59 AM

According to THIS NOTICE, Concordance to the Child Ballads by Cathy Lynn Preston will be published in April, but a local bookstore (in Japan) says the publication is cancelled. Does anyone have more info?

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: Susan of DT
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 03:10 PM

(dick greenhaus here)

Just to keep things straight. THe original Child collection is in the public domain; the Dover edition isn't (at least Dover's intro and editing aren't.) Bronson is not; it's owned by Princeton University Press.

I've been working sporadically with the idea of an electronic edition of Bronson. The problem isn't just transcribing the music---hell, that could be photocopied. Fitting the words to the music is a major problem, and is the one that's been slowing me down. Unfortunately, IMO at least, it's an essential part of the job (I have a few hundred processed so far). I'm also in touch with Princeton to investigate publishing rights.

Ideally, his project would be cross-referenced with an electronic edition of Child, but that's asking a hell of a lot.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: GUEST,JJ
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 03:24 PM

Thanks for the info Dick,

Not much point in my starting to transcribe Bronson's tunes then?

JJ


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: Bearheart
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 01:33 AM

This is amazing. Very wonderful that y'all are doing this.

Thanks!!!

Bekki


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: toadfrog
Date: 25 Feb 02 - 10:22 PM

Yes. Malcom, special thinks for the link. I'll be ordering the book when it comes out.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 25 Feb 02 - 10:53 PM

Thank you Dick!

When the "process" of words to music is mastered, will it be copyright or public domain???? And where will it be posted?

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 25 Feb 02 - 11:04 PM

To: JJ

Stick around, I believe something "BIG" may be in the offing.

When the Digital Tradition first appeared it was "at the cutting edge." Because of its "folk" base, it has survived where others have been crushed by the profiteering cartels, who, seeking to squish the last essence of profit from the "public domain" have brought suit against suit against the egalitarian masses.

In my opinion, dick and susan, were renegades, and some of the first to "homestead" the "digital frontier" continueing in the original traditions of Intellectual Freedom! which was premise of the FTP days of the internet.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 26 Feb 02 - 10:42 AM

The tunes and words are, in the main, public domain. THe editing and notes aren't. It's hard to be sure what's PD< since there are as I recall, 14 copyrights on Barbara Allen and several on Greensleeves.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: radriano
Date: 26 Feb 02 - 11:38 AM

Yes, thanks for this link, MMario!


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: GUEST,Giac, not at home
Date: 26 Feb 02 - 12:13 PM

Thanks MMario!

And, thanks, Dick, for your strenuous and dedicated efforts.

Haven't been online for a couple of weeks, and what a wonderful surprise for my brief visit.

Mary


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: MMario
Date: 01 Mar 02 - 09:34 PM

have added:

16.1 The Broom Blooms Bonie

17.2 The Beggar Man
17.4 The Old Beggar Man
17.4.1 The Old Beggarman
17.21 The Beggerman
17.22 Hind Horn
17.23 Hind Horn

18.1 Isaac-a-Bell and Hugh the Graeme
18.2 Wild Boar


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site:
From: MMario
Date: 22 May 02 - 09:23 PM

have since added:

Bronson 18.2 Wild Boar
Bronson 18.3 Sir Eglamore
Bronson 18.4 Sir Lionel
Bronson 18.5 Brangywell
Bronson 18.10 Old Bang 'em

Bronson 19.1 King Orfeo
Bronson 19.2 King Orfeo

Bronson 20.1 Fine Flowers in the Valley
Bronson 20.4 The Cruel Mother
Bronson 20.5 The Rose o' Malindie O


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: MMario
Date: 24 May 02 - 10:44 PM

Have Added:

20.6 Down by the Greewood Side

20.15 The Minister of New York's Daughter

skipped 20.19.1 (This one is waybeyond my capabilities!)

20.20 The Cruel Mother

20.22 There was a Lady lived in York

20.24 The Cruel Mother

20.31 The Cruel Mother

20.45 The Cruel Mother

20.47 The Cruel Mother (DT cruelmo4)


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: MMario
Date: 24 May 02 - 10:49 PM

For the ones I've listed (will list)I can provide ABC files, NWC files, midi files, and the text of lyrics. With a little effort could provide miditxt or songwright files.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: MMario
Date: 25 May 02 - 10:19 PM

21.1 The Well Below the Valley

21.2 The Well Below the Valley - this one was a stinker! 48 changes in 16 verses!


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: DMcG
Date: 26 May 02 - 04:13 AM

MMario: You said For the ones I've listed (will list)I can provide ABC files, NWC files, midi files, and the text of lyrics.

How do we get to these? I'm sure you don't want to email them to everyone separately.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: MMario
Date: 26 May 02 - 08:10 AM

At the moment, yes, that's what I'm doing. on request.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: MMario
Date: 23 Jun 02 - 10:34 PM

Completed recently:

Bronson 24.2 Banks of Green Willow
Bronson 24.16 Banks of Green Willow
Bronson 24.17 Banks of Green Willow

Bronson 25.2 Among the Blue flowers and the Yellow
Bronson 25.4 Willie's Lyke-wake

Bronson 26.1 The Three Ravens
Bronson 26.2 The Three Ravens
Bronson 26.3 The Three Ravens
Bronson 26.7 The Three Ravens
Bronson 26.8 The twa Corbies
Bronson 26.9 The Twa Corbies
Bronson 26.11 The Three Ravens

I'm done up to page 93 of 519 about 18%


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: Cap't Bob
Date: 23 Jun 02 - 11:43 PM

Anyone interested in Child Ballads who has not already checked out Contemplators "Child Ballad" site will find the following site interesting. Midi files are played whenever you select a tune. The site is:

http://www.contemplator.com/child/index.html

Cap't Bob


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: MMario
Date: 04 Jul 02 - 09:19 PM

Transcribed recently:

Bronson 32 – King Henry

Bronson 34 – Kempion

Bronson 37.1 - True Thomas; or, Thomas the Rhymer
Bronson 37.2 - Thomas the Rhymer

Bronson 39.2 – Tam Lin
Bronson 39.2.1 – Tam Lin
Bronson 39.3.1 – Tam Lin

Bronson 40 – The Queen of Elfan's Nourice



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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: MMario
Date: 25 Aug 02 - 09:53 PM

I was able to get some more done this weekend...

Bronson 41.1 Young Akin
Bronson 41.2 Hind Etin

Bronson 42 Clark Colven

Bronson 43.3 Lord John
Bronson 43.4 Broomfield Waqer
Bronson 43.10.1 The Squire in the North Contree
Bronson 43.13 Leatherum thee thou and a'


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Aug 02 - 01:16 AM

Be warned. 43.13 is not a version of Broomfield Hill, but of Jock Sheep. It was mis-ascribed in Keith/Duncan Last Leaves, and Bronson (not having the full text) took it on trust, though he was puzzled by it. The error is corrected in the Greig-Duncan collection, and I've mentioned it in one of the "missing tune" threads; also, I think, in another thread which Toadfrog started under the (understandable, in the circumstances) misapprehension that the strange refrain might represent some sort of magical formula. Ewan MacColl magically "recovered" a set from one of his relations, and (surprise) made exactly the same mistake initiated by Keith. Hmmm...


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 26 Aug 02 - 02:22 AM

Malcolm, may I ask you if there is any site or paper or ? which deals with the reliability/unreliability of "informants"? I know that JJ Niles is not highly regarded in this area, and I have heard an occasional mention of Ewan as fortuitously providing a tune or three. Is Anna Brown regarded as reliable? (the tunes in Bronson seem a trifle odd and she is the sole informant for several ballads). And are there others in this situation? Your guidance would be welcomed!

Jon Bartlett Vancouver Ballad Group


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: MMario
Date: 26 Aug 02 - 08:26 AM

Thanks Malcolm - I will append that to the text I have on 43.13


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Aug 02 - 10:48 AM

So far as Anna Brown is concerned, two very helpful studies are Bronson's paper Mrs. Brown and the Ballad (California Folklore Quarterly, vol.III, no.3, 1944; reprinted in The Ballad as Song, 1969) and David Buchan's The Ballad and the Folk (1972); in particular part 2, The Oral Tradition: The Ballads. Buchan sees her as primarily an example of the pre-literate oral-formulaic tradition, though living on the cusp of the transition from oral to literate tradition. In some instances the tunes were probably just written down inaccurately; her nephew Bob, who noted them, was very young and, as she said, "a mere novice in musick".

Of other older collector/editors, Peter Buchan, for example, has been pretty much trashed over the years (for an example, Holger Nygard, Heer Halewijn, 1958, pp. 297-316); though David Buchan (op.cit.) goes a good way toward rehabilitating him. As you'll know, the majority of collectors and editors of that period seem not to have been above doctoring texts and tunes, to widely-varying degrees and for a whole range of motives, and quite a lot of work has been done on them, not least by Child, of course (Scott seems to have regretted his early excesses in that respect, which evidently impressed Motherwell, for one).

The early 20th century collector/editors have in the main, thank goodness, left us their MS collections so that we can get back reasonably well to the form the material was in when they found it; Martin Graebe, for example, is working on Sabine Baring Gould's corpus. That isn't possible, yet, with some of their successors.

One problem with more recent examples like Niles, MacColl and Lloyd, is that they were all impressive characters -giants, in their way- who aroused quite strong feelings. Niles has fallen from grace pretty comprehensively, to the extent where many feel that none of his material at all can be taken on trust; probably he will be in part re-habilitated in time. MacColl and Lloyd are both probably still too near at hand for objective assessment, though I'm sure that there are studies out there that I don't know about or haven't read yet. Both were certainly less than frank about the origins of some of the material they published, while remaining scrupulously scholarly in other respects, so it's a very difficult subject that's too much for a beginner like me!

The specific reference for Bronson 43.13, (and 43.12, too) incidentally, is The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection, eds. Patrick Shuldham Shaw and Emily B. Lyle, vol.2 (1983); note on p.570:

302 JOCK SHEEP ...[Examples] A and Bb were confused with Child 43 "The Broomfield Hill" (322 "The Bonnie Broom-Fields") and have formerly been treated in print as versions of this ballad, although Duncan became aware that Bb at any rate belonged to the song called "The Maiden Outwitted" or "Jock Sheep", as his notes... make plain. A (with the first stanza only) appears under the heading of "The Broomfield Hill" in Last Leaves MS and Last Leaves and is reprinted as Bronson 13 of this ballad. Bb appears under this heading in Last Leaves and is reprinted as Bronson 12.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 26 Aug 02 - 06:04 PM

Thanks, Malcolm. I've read the two Brown papers you mention and I think I'm on David Buchan's/Grundtvig's side (as against Child) as to the reliability of Peter Buchan. Grundtvig argued that the barbarity of Peter Buchan's material was a sign of its genuineness, not of its being faked. I wonder if anyone is preparing or has prepared a paper on the general question of "reliability". It seems to me that the bad behaviour in this area ranges from singing verses "out of order" because it makes more sense that way, to wholesale (re)construction of what a ballad "must have been like originally". I haven't come across anywhere any discussion of "appropriate" versus "inappropriate" changes to an original informant's material (except for the obvious good faith question of revealing exactly what you've done to change the material).


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: MMario
Date: 26 Aug 02 - 08:24 PM

Bronson 43.17 The Merry Broomfield
Bronson 43.20 The Squire who lived in the West
Bronson 43.23 A Wager, A Wager
Bronson 43.27 (appendix) The Sea Captain; or The Miad on the Shore

Bronson 44 the Two Magicians
Bronson 44.2 (appendix) Hares on the Mountains
Bronson 44.12 (appendix) O Sally, my Dear


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: John Minear
Date: 26 Aug 02 - 08:55 PM

Jon, I'm very interested in the question that you have raised with Malcolm about changes to an original informant's material. I understand that you are primarily talking about the written record. I hope that I am not drifting here when I ask about this same issue in the context of a sung performance of a ballad as a way of handing on traditional material today.

I'm asking about a rather specific situation in which a living tradition of ballad singing has now almost come to it's end, but is still being performed on stage by someone born into that tradition. She presents the songs as she learned them from her extended family, using both oral and written sources. And she doesn't hesitate to change the order, or to delete and add verses from several different versions, because "it needs to make sense". And yet she has a profound sense of responsibility for her "heritage".

I know oral traditions are not static. In this case we have a mixture. Cecil Sharp collected Child ballads from members of this family and his books are treasured in this community and used as a resource for "preserving the tradition". But they are only one resource. Some of these songs have never been written down, but have been recorded electronically, without liner note lyrics. So we are still getting an oral presentation of the tradition. In many cases, there are recordings of other family members singing the same songs so comparisons can be made. I don't know how much more "authentic" these contemporarly performances could be. And I know they aren't the same as the early 1900s.

Granted, there aren't very many of these situations left anywhere, but it still raises questions for me about how one judges the parameters of the tradition and the nature of change within a tradition.

As I read back over what I have written, I realize that I have drifted and that there is a big difference between talking about written "scholarly" sources, and living ballad singing as tradition. And there is a big difference between somebody changing a text after he/she has received it from the singer and publishing the altered text without taking responsibility for the changes, and perhaps the singer changing a family text for performance, which then becomes a part of the handing of the tradition. I would say, that the ballad singer I have in mind often notes the changes that she has made to a particular ballad when she tells the story of how she learned the song, which is almost always a part of the presentation of the song.

I guess that a part of what I am asking is who really has a right - a poor way of stating this - to change traditional ballad materials, knowing that those materials have constantly changed over time in the process of being traditional. Is it primarily a matter of taking responsibility for those changes or simply not making them in the first place. In other contexts, one might ask "what makes a particular text sacred". Surely there is a difference between that perspective and what we are talking about here. And perhaps that difference lies in the nature of this particular tradition. I'm thinking here about ballads in general, but also about the "Child" tradition in particular.


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 27 Aug 02 - 04:44 AM

I don't think there's a "drift" here, Turtle - I think a ballad in print and a ballad in the mouth are the same thing seem from different perspectives. The tradition ossifies itself when it starts thinking along lines such as "sacred text". What for me is central to the tradition these days is a notion of respect; one can respect "tradition-bearers" (a formulation I'm not especially happy with); one can respect the "tradition"; one can respect the ballad itself; one can respect the "text". Modern-day singers and ballad lovers move in a sort of dance with these four elements, now emphasising this element, and now that. If I ask myself what moves *me* to pay attention to "the ballad", it's a notion of an efficient form for the unconscious to speak to the unconscious. Such a form is for us adventitious - one can't consciously create such a form - it's more like a flower than a poem. So in a manner of speaking I'm a naturalist, interested in the soil this flower grows (and grows best) in, interested (with David Buchan) in the intricate design and balance in each stem and leaf; interested, ultimately, in making a place for this flower to grow and in encouraging folk to see and feel its beauty. Many things can be done with this plant we call the ballad; and not all of them are nice. Some gardeners I trust, because I think, when I see what they do, they care for the plant; Almeda Riddle and Peggy Seeger come to mind. I think that the language of "rights" (to change a ballad, for example) is a dead-end, and only comes about because of this age's obsession with ownership. I connect "respect" more strongly with trusteeship.

Thank you for encouraging me to think this through!


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Subject: RE: Child Ballad site
From: John Minear
Date: 27 Aug 02 - 08:54 PM

Jon, you have said this in a very clear way. Your imagery of the "dance" and the "flower" are especially helpful. Your organic approach makes a lot of sense to me. I like the idea of being a gardener and a trustee of this heritage, and I like your examples of Almeda Riddle and Peggy Seeger. And I would agree that "ownership" seems especially inappropriate in this context. It's a question of responsibility and respect rather than rights. I appreciate your response.


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