New Book: Folk Song in England To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=162666
2094 messages

New Book: Folk Song in England

19 Aug 17 - 05:02 AM (#3872511)
Subject: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

On Thursday I attended the British Library launch for the new book 'Folk Song in England', by Steve Roud and Julia Bishop, which has just been published by Faber. It runs to 764 pages, and is the nearest thing we're ever likely to get to a definitive study. I must confess I've nowhere near finished it yet, but I dipped in to several sections on the train back to Stockport, and it's certainly fascinating and well-researched, and should be of interest to a lot of people on here. In the light of some fairly familiar arguments that have just resurfaced on the current 'EFDSS' thread, I should mention that the introductory chapter, 'Is there such a thing as folk song, anyway?' includes a pretty firm endorsement of our old friend, the 1954 definition. And that comes from a scholar who has looked at all the evidence, not just taken Cecil Sharp's word for it.

I don't think the choice of title is an accident. What we have here is solid research that supersedes the romantic fantasies of Bert Lloyd - although to be fair, Bert's book does get a fair hearing. I also have to say that the 'Fakesong' school gets pretty short shrift. You should read this!


19 Aug 17 - 10:35 AM (#3872557)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

A must-read and a great companion to "The New Penguin Book of English Folksongs." Or any other!


19 Aug 17 - 04:40 PM (#3872608)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: JHW

Must have one. Faber shop


19 Aug 17 - 07:02 PM (#3872629)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Joe Offer

Oh, gee. Another book I can't do without. Good thing I just got a huge bookcase for my birthday this week. I got my copy at amazon.mudcat.org for $29.95 U.S. U.S. release date isn't until Sept 5, but they gave me a Kindle advance copy of the first chapter or so.
Thanks for the tip, Brian.
-Joe-


20 Aug 17 - 04:28 AM (#3872689)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Introductions read. Very accessible from the man who knows most what it's all about. More anon. Brilliant so far!!!!!


20 Aug 17 - 07:57 AM (#3872724)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Just ordered min from The Book Depository at a pretty good discount price - and post free (important for books of this size)
Thought I'd pass that on
Jim Carroll


20 Aug 17 - 08:25 AM (#3872727)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

That should be "mine" not "min" - who was, of course, a character in The Goon Show!
Have I missed something - are there any of the Hammond Gardner collections available yet?
Jim Carroll


20 Aug 17 - 08:38 AM (#3872732)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

Jim, all of Purslow's selections from Hammond & Gardiner are now available. 'Marrow Bones' and 'The Wanton Seed' came out some time ago, and the final two volumes have just been republished as
Southern Harvest, with a lot of additional information thanks to Steve Gardham.


20 Aug 17 - 08:57 AM (#3872736)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Thanks Brian
Damn - just too late for my birthday
Jim Carroll


21 Aug 17 - 03:39 PM (#3872993)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Elmore

Was going to order it on Kindle, but changed my mind. I may want it for reference and Kindle wouldn't be useful in that case. Thanks to Brian for making us aware of this book which sounds both interesting and useful.


22 Aug 17 - 12:04 AM (#3873045)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Anglo

Patiently waiting for the US release (pre-ordered). Maybe you'll have your copy with you at TradMad, Brian. In any event, I look forward to seeing you there - there wouldn't be time to read it, anyway !


22 Aug 17 - 01:57 AM (#3873050)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Big Al Whittle

Okay ! Spill the beans!

Bert Lloyd proved wrong! Shock horror!

Do you ever feel like your part of the Tooting Popular Front?

Composite 4 Subsection 3a! I move!


26 Aug 17 - 09:41 AM (#3873722)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

Hi Anglo: I would have brought my copy to the US for reading material on the plane, but it was too big to fit in my hand luggage. Seriously.

Al, you'll just have to read it to find out. But I can safely say that the notion folk songs were composed by disconsolate ploughboys who sang their newly-minted laments for lost love to their mates in the pub, who then proceeded to spread them through the countryside, is one casualty of Steve Roud's evidence-based approach. Perhaps when I've read it all I'll attempt a precis on here.


26 Aug 17 - 10:19 AM (#3873734)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Mike Yates

Have just started reading the book. It certainly looks impressive. One thing that I note, though, is that there is no discography. Some readers, I suspect, who read names such as Harry Cox, Sam Larner or Walter Pardon and don't know that these great artists can be heard on CDs, would have been helped with some listings. But , at 764 fact-filled pages, I suppose that there just wasn't room!


26 Aug 17 - 04:20 PM (#3873772)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Big Al Whittle

folksingers needed - only well adjusted ploughboys need apply


26 Aug 17 - 05:29 PM (#3873777)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Only just saw this thread, though I was at the launch and am now about a third of the way through the book. I wish Brian luck in trying to precis it: there's so much information of all kinds and I'm not yet perceiving a clear overview.

One point that Steve made at the launch is that the essential difference between his book and Bert's is that his is based on firm evidence. The chapters that I have read so far mostly set out the evidence rather than draw conclusions, but maybe those come later.

One point that Steve doesn't make explicitly in what I've read so far, though perhaps later, is that the songs that were being sung at any given time were of various ages but a lot of them fairly recent, at least in their current forms. Of all the songs that are being sung at date X, by a later date Y some will have fallen by the wayside and a some new ones will have entered circulation. Some have lasted for several centuries, but not really very many.


27 Aug 17 - 04:19 AM (#3873827)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

Oh wow, can I wait till Christmas? My daughters never know what to get me ....

Thanks for the heads-up, Brian.

Marje


27 Aug 17 - 08:23 AM (#3873854)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Tunesmith

I wish they wouldn't keep repeating false info in books on English folk music.
For example, William Bolton was never a shantyman ( he was in the Royal Navy not the merchant navy ).


27 Aug 17 - 09:05 AM (#3873863)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Mike, re discography
I can't imagine anyone buying FSE who hasn't already got a copy of New Penguin which has a perfectly good discography.

Despite the length of this weighty tome in almost every chapter Steve goes to great pains to stress that evidence is very thin for previous centuries as you would expect with a subject that deals with the history of the common people. However he has obviously searched diligently for what evidence does exist and personally I can't see this amount of evidence ever being greatly added to or contradicted.

The evidence is clearly stated and leaves us largely to draw our own conclusions.

Re Bert Lloyd, I'm absolutely certain Steve wasn't motivated to write his book by Bert's fairy tales. There can't be many people left on the scene who don't take anything Bert wrote with a pinch of salt. This is not Bert bashing time. He was wonderfully gifted and left us a wealth of well-crafted material.


30 Aug 17 - 03:19 AM (#3874251)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Harry

I'm about a third of the way through and, although I don't agree with everything here, you can't fault the research and scholarship.

What can be faulted is Faber giving us this paperback masquerading as a hardback. No wonder it's so cheap to buy; every corner has been cut in its production.

This is a serious contribution to knowledge and should be published as a proper hardback book: sewn sections; acid-free paper; and properly bound.

I fear it will fall apart if used frequently.

Harry


30 Aug 17 - 04:07 AM (#3874256)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,CJ

My copy was £25 and certainly feels like a hard back.

I can't imagine criticising a publisher for putting out such a well presented book on a niche subject. How many of these will actually be sold? Into four figures, perhaps, if they are lucky.

Tell you what, Harry, you should contact Faber and tell them you'd like to do a "proper hardback" edition. See how many thousands upon thousands you'll lose.

I'm Too early in the reading to comment on the writing other than to say, all good so far.


30 Aug 17 - 04:18 AM (#3874259)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"This is not Bert bashing time."
Then why do it Steve - whatever Bert's motives for working the way he did, I'm sure he didn't set out to write "fairy tales"
I only got 'Folk Song in England' when we returned home on Monday, so I haven't had time to start it yet, but I did look up some of the subjects I am familiar with - I was rather disturbed to read the inaccurate speculation on MacColl's name change and the tiresome revival gossip about his Scots 'reinvention'.
I was also disappointed to see no reference to 'The Song Carriers' surely the first and best intelligent attempt to discuss the British singing tradition intelligently - 14 half-hour programmes made in 1965 attempting to examine the singing styles of these islands seems a bit of an oversight to me - but that's me!
It seems to me that, while the serious side of the revival made a number of mistakes in how they presented the music they thought important enough to devote their lives to, their work is often severely misjudged because of the back-biting and petty rivalries that were part of the early revival.
This may be prejudging a book I have not yet read - we'll see!
Our own failure to get Walter Pardon's interviews out to a larger audience was underlined when I saw the only reference to him being his name on a list of other source singers that caught the wider attention of the folk scene.
One of the greatest holes in our knowledge of folk song is a total failure to ask our informants (in depth) what they thought about their songs
Walter had a great deal to say about what was and was not a folk song - and why - often in detail.
It's often struck me that discussing folk song without taking the view of our source singers into consideration is somewhat like putting a patient onto the operating table without asking them what's wrong with him/her
It's when I see people like Sharp and MacColl and Lloyd being pilloried for not getting it right first time around that I realise that folk song scholarship is still in its infancy as a serious art form study - pioneers make mistakes and their work needs to be regarded,font color=red>dispassionately and in full in context of their time and what they were setting out to achieve.
As it is, it is a virtual minefield to attempt to discuss MacColl (beyond the "Jimmy Miller - 'finger-in-ear stage), and as for "what is a folk song?".... !!!!
Unbelievable on a forum purporting to be devoted to folk song!
Can't wait to see how the authors have dealt with 'the broadside origin of folk song'
Jim Carroll
I wonder if anybody can throw any light on the reference to MacColl's name change to 'James Henry' as stated in F S in England?
I know his mother's name was 'Hendry' but I've never come across it and writings.


30 Aug 17 - 06:51 AM (#3874282)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

This may be prejudging a book I have not yet read - we'll see.
Do you think it possible that your prejudiced comments might carry more weight if you had waited until after you had read it before making them?
Would you consider that people reading this might be of the opinion that you come to come to the subject of English Folk Song with pre-formed, blinkered views rather than approaching it with an open mind?
Those of us who have had the opportunity of working extensively with Steve Roud are in awe of his extensive knowledge of the English tradition which he seems to have at his finger tips. He is also open minded and fair in his discussions and willing to give credence to the experience and opinions of others. He avoids speculation and bases his claiams only when he has well-researched backing for his statements.

I can think of no better qualified person to write a book on this subject. However, I will not venture an opinion on something that I have not read.


30 Aug 17 - 07:14 AM (#3874287)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Do you think it possible that your prejudiced comments might carry more weight if you had waited until after you had read it before making them?"
No - I most certainly hope not
I read in full all the subjects I mentioned and found some of them inaccurate
My doing so was prompted by a comment earlier which I responded to
Yes - Of course I do come to English Folk Song with preformed views - fifty years worth of research and collecting and involvement as a singer.
I have no argument with Steve - I am grateful for his work in numbering many of our own collection - his numbering system has simplified our own work enormously.
I have far too much respect for him to sychophantically accepting everything he has to say withoutt comment when I disagree with it - I believe him to be a far better individual than to expect that of anybody
Jim Carroll


30 Aug 17 - 09:15 AM (#3874307)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Big Al Whittle

i suppose Jim's bound to look up the bits that interest him. its a human thing , we all do that.

and i guess if we find stuff that doesn't gel with our knowledge...we're bound to state our misgivings.

the important thing is that we maintain respect for each other, and not call each other predjudiced.


30 Aug 17 - 11:48 AM (#3874325)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Big Al Whittle

quite a lot of my friends call themselves shantymen and they have never been aboard any ship - royal navy, merchant navy, isle of wight ferry, nothing....


30 Aug 17 - 11:54 AM (#3874329)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Wm

I really look forward to reading this. Going to go order my copy . . .

Our own failure to get Walter Pardon's interviews out to a larger audience was underlined when I saw the only reference to him being his name on a list of other source singers that caught the wider attention of the folk scene.

Walter had a great deal to say about what was and was not a folk song - and why - often in detail.


Jim, are these available anywhere?


30 Aug 17 - 12:51 PM (#3874339)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GeoffLawes

The cheapest that I found it on offer was via Amazon UK £13.20
+ £2.80 UK delivery from BOOKS etc https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/0571309712/ref=tmm_hrd_new_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=new&qid=&sr=


30 Aug 17 - 02:45 PM (#3874360)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Elmore

Planned to buy this book, but Jim threw cold water on my enthusiasm. I may buy it anyway.


30 Aug 17 - 03:23 PM (#3874365)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim, are these available anywhere?"
Some of it is deposited in The British Library and has been since the 1980s, but they've never got around to putting it up on line
We live in hope!
If we can find a home for our Singers Workshop archive (a lot of it) our own collection will go with it
I've quoted some of it oftwn enough on Muccat
We contributed an article on Walter entitled 'A Simple Countryman!" (note the exclamation) to a Festschrift in honour of our friend, the late Tom Munnelly
If anybody would like a copy e-mail me - I'm sure Joe Offer will pass on our address to non-members
Jim Carroll


30 Aug 17 - 04:07 PM (#3874370)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Harry

GuestCJ,

Take hold of your copy of "Folksong in England" in two hands and open the book - BUT, not too far. You should find the spine opens up and you have a hollow. Look down the hollow and you will see a thin layer of white glue. This is all that is holding the pages of your book together.

You might want to get a paperback and compare the two. There is more to a hardback book than the stiffness of the boards.

Has anyone ever bought a Victorian gutta percha- or caoutchouc-bound book?

Now, modern glues are very good and much better than their Victorian equivalents, but, before long, if you fully open your new book more than a few times, and certainly if you open it flat on a desk, the spine will break and the pages will start to fall out. This will not happen with a properly bound book.

How do I know this? I've been selling out-of-print books for 35 years and bookbinding for almost 30.

It could be argued (although I wouldn't) that this kind of cheap book production is fine for popular, ephemeral fiction when most books are read once or twice then consigned to the shelf before being donated to the local charity shop.

But a real book, a proper book, is a way of preserving knowledge not a disposable commodity. They should be made to last.

Well done to Steve Roud for getting it published; I know it isn't easy! I just wish one of the university presses had recognised its importance to the corpus.

Best wishes CJ,

Harry


30 Aug 17 - 06:08 PM (#3874377)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Big Al Whittle

you can get it for ten quid on kindle, no delivery cost and no worries about it falling to bits.


30 Aug 17 - 06:09 PM (#3874378)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Bridge

I want one.

What would be VERY valuable however would be yes - a DISCOGRAPHY.


31 Aug 17 - 02:32 AM (#3874402)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Harry

Big Al,

A few worries about being able to read it though when you wake to find Bezos has deleted it from your machine while you weren't looking; or your battery is flat.

A real book can be yours forever, until you lend it to your best friend.

Harry


31 Aug 17 - 05:14 AM (#3874417)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Big Al Whittle

if you hold the on/off switch for a minute, the kindle automatically reloads with all your stuff.


31 Aug 17 - 06:11 AM (#3874440)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Harry

Not if Amazon choose to delete your books, as they did with two of George Orwell's in 2009(?).

Amazon will always have control of your library stored on Kindle and can, essentially, delete anything they choose without notice.

At least they'd have to get a warrant to enter my library and take my books.

Anyway, thread drift . . . . my final words: the 'hardback' produced by Faber is crap; the book written by Roud is bloody marvellous. My opinion and I'm keeping it.

Harry


31 Aug 17 - 06:41 AM (#3874445)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" a DISCOGRAPHY."
One of the most useful books I have for our researches is the fairly rare ' Irish Emigration Ballads and Songs' by Robert L Wight; absolutely indispensable if you are interested in the subject, but with probably the worst index of any serious book I have ever encountered
When I inherited my copy from the late Tom Munnelly, in desperation, I set about indexing it for my own use.
It should not be beyond the realms of possibility to share the task with friends and create a usable discography.
Jim Carroll


31 Aug 17 - 06:47 AM (#3874448)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Big Al Whittle

also you can make the writing very big so you don't need reading glasses.


31 Aug 17 - 07:28 AM (#3874458)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton

"Re Bert Lloyd, I'm absolutely certain Steve wasn't motivated to write his book by Bert's fairy tales. There can't be many people left on the scene who don't take anything Bert wrote with a pinch of salt. This is not Bert bashing time. He was wonderfully gifted and left us a wealth of well-crafted material."

On that note, I do think it's a shame that it has the identical title as Bert Lloyd's book. I've no doubt that Steve wasn't motivated to write his book by Bert's book – to write a big book like that, your prime motivation will be overwhelming love for your subject – but giving it the same title will inevitably make it seem like it is 'Bert bashing'.

It's been many years since I read Bert's Folk Song in England, but I don't remember it being as naive as some as the adumbrations/caricatures described in this thread. I remember a strain of romanticism, sometimes a quite unpalatable one (when it came to dealings with women and sex, in particular). But for the most part I remember it being an inspirational, magical, poetical book. I enjoyed Bert's book for very similar reasons that I enjoyed Ciaron Carson's 'Last Night Fun'.

More importantly, I don't remember the speculative parts of it being presented as anything other than speculation. Perhaps this is a false memory: perhaps if I were to re-read it now I would indeed find that Bert Lloyd presents it all as unequivocal FACT and incontrovertible scholarship. But I doubt it; it wasn't that sort of book. I think criticisms of Bert Lloyd's writing are often unfair, because they seem to be criticising it for what is is NOT, rather than what it IS.

I'm looking forward to reading the Roud book - I've read about 20 pages – but I'm expecting it to be satisfying in a very different way.


31 Aug 17 - 07:33 AM (#3874459)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton

A part of me wants to submit a book proposal to Faber for a new book called 'Folk Song in England'


31 Aug 17 - 09:04 PM (#3874597)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin

Faber have been publishing books with wonderful content, terrific design, typesetting and printing, first-rate paper, and shitty glue holding it all together since the 1960s. The second-hand market is littered with Fabers falling apart.

The only publisher I know of who beat them at that combination was Allen and Unwin - theirs were usually splitting apart within a year, try to find a copy of Arthur Waley's "170 Chinese Poems" in one piece.


01 Sep 17 - 04:28 PM (#3874730)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

"On that note, I do think it's a shame that it has the identical title as Bert Lloyd's book. I've no doubt that Steve wasn't motivated to write his book by Bert's book – to write a big book like that, your prime motivation will be overwhelming love for your subject – but giving it the same title will inevitably make it seem like it is 'Bert bashing'."

I certainly wasn't suggesting in my previous comments that Steve Roud's prime motive was to discredit Bert Lloyd, but neither do I believe that the choice of title was an accident. Other potential titles are available.

Lloyd's book is indeed inspirational, and it inspired me for many years until I began to look a bit more closely at some of the details. It was, however, a general interest book so, although folk song specialists may have known exactly how big a pinch of salt to take with it, much of its readership would not have done. What we have now is something much more evidence-based - although I suspect it still won't put an end to the arguments.


01 Sep 17 - 04:52 PM (#3874732)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Nick Dow

Not into Bert or Ewan bashing. Bert's book is eminently readable and his rolling prose has influenced me no end. Take a look at my intro to Southern Harvest and you'll see what I mean. I have issues with Mcoll but the song carriers turned me into a much better singer. Mcoll was an exemplary teacher. I believe the Song Carriers are available on CD
Is the new Folk song in England as readable and well written as Bert's? It's on my to buy list.


01 Sep 17 - 06:28 PM (#3874751)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Readable and well written, yes, but some readers might want to skip chapters that don't fall within their interest band. I read all of it but found some of the music stuff by Julia above my head. My loss! It certainly pointed me at some other books I haven't yet read and desire to.


01 Sep 17 - 07:58 PM (#3874761)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jerome Clark

I've got it on order and can hardly wait to read it. (It comes out next week on this side of the pond.) After his New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs I put Roud on my list of interesting persons with whom I'd like to down a beer or two or three.


03 Sep 17 - 07:43 AM (#3874949)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

Message for Tunesmith, 27 August.
William Bolton was in both the Royal Navy and the merchant navy, and he certainly sang shanties to Anne Gilchrist.
Derek


03 Sep 17 - 08:10 AM (#3874953)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

It's fair to say that "Folk Song in England" was not Steve's choice of title, it was the publisher's decision.
And sorry to disappoint Jerome Clark .... Steve is teetotal!
Derek


03 Sep 17 - 11:04 AM (#3874973)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"I believe the Song Carriers are available on CD"
If they still exist, nobody seems to know where the key is - that goes for some of the best programmes on folksong from the Golden Age of Radio
I went to the showing of an un-shown ilm made by Phillip Donnellon earlier this year and was horrified to learn what had happened to his work - even while he was living
" Bert's book is eminently readable "
I agree absolutely - of-its-time as it may be.
I look on such works as introductions to something that still interests and entertains me after half a century of involvement
Jim Carroll


03 Sep 17 - 11:25 AM (#3874975)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Ed

If they still exist...

You can download mp3s of 'The Song Carriers' programmes from a link posted in an earlier Mudcat thread:

Ewan MacColl - The Song Carriers


03 Sep 17 - 02:44 PM (#3875006)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Bob Blair was selling CDr copies of the MacColl The Song Carriers radio programmes at Whitby Folk Week some years ago and I bought a complete set from him; not for what Ewan had to say but because of the opportunity to hear recordings of many of Britain's finest traditional singers. Generally these were not available at that time.
When I started to tell other people about the purchases, I was questioned about whether Bob was entitled to make and sell these and I didn't (and still don't) have the answer.


05 Sep 17 - 12:07 PM (#3875353)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

I have just seen a reference to the first review of this book that I am aware of and it is printed in, of all places, The Economist! It is a factual account and a precis of the contents rather than any statement about the value of the book or a comparison with anything that has been published in the past.
I thought the first paragraph of the review was arresting -
ENGLAND, the Germans used to jeer, was "the land without music". They were wrong, as Steve Roud robustly demonstrates in "Folk Song in England". Surveying English musical life from the time of Henry VIII—a keen musician and composer—to the mid-20th century, when folk song lost its roots, he shows what an intensely musical land England has been.


You can read the review on-line at by clicking here.


06 Sep 17 - 10:30 AM (#3875491)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: r.padgett

Yes quite a heavy book all ways round and will take a while to read through ~ unless you use more as a reference book using index of course!

50 years since Bert's book the original Folk song in England and therefore has different perspective and angle ~ lot happened in the intervening years of course

Ray


06 Sep 17 - 03:56 PM (#3875548)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

As you say, Vic, a fair precis, but no critique. Part of the problem we face is there are not many people about who are truly qualified to criticise what it has to say.


06 Sep 17 - 05:36 PM (#3875553)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

"Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 30 Aug 17 - 04:18 AM

"This is not Bert bashing time."
Then why do it Steve - whatever Bert's motives for working the way he did, I'm sure he didn't set out to write "fairy tales"
Well said, Jim.
    I wont waste my time reading this book.
I prefer to spend my time playing, singing and most importantly listening to all kinds of music, but particularly tradtional singers and musicians.


06 Sep 17 - 06:14 PM (#3875562)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

No problem, Dick. Some of us have time to do all of this. Variety.....and all that.


07 Sep 17 - 03:54 AM (#3875599)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"I was questioned about whether Bob was entitled to make and sell these and I didn't (and still don't) have the answer."
Bob had the copies all of us involved with Ewan and Charles were given way, way back - neither had any objection to their being circulated - they were delighted it was being circulated and, as far as we could make out, the BBC had totally lost interest in them (the programmes didn't even appear to have appealed the entrepreneurial efforts of Peter Kennedy), so we all passed copies on to whoever could use them
Our singers workshop ran ten meetings playing and discussing them - unlike Vic, we did so to examine Ewan's ideas to see if they held water - we could get most of the examples on LPs.
For me personally, it was like lifting the corner of folk -song to see if there was anything underneath - they were basically the reason I am still involved in folk song as actively as I am after half a century and many of the ideas propounded by MacColl stood up well when we started working with traditional singers, particularly with the Travellers who, back then, had a living tradition which was still producing songs that were becoming traditional (until the advent of portable television destroyed it, virtually overnight)
This was also true of the twenty years work we did with Walter Pardon who, in his way, could be described as a researching traditional singer rather than a source for songs (there were a few of those about once)
When they were "sold" it was for less than the cost it took to produce them - a great deal of time and thought went into their production and the work was for free - it was purely a labour of love on the part of the people who passed them on.
I have no idea what happened to the original programmes, nor any of the other wonderful productions by Bert and Deben Battacharia and Charles Parker and John Levy.... and all those other dedicated people - if the films of Phillip Donnellan are anything to go by, they were probably junked (did anybody here 'Folk Music Virtuoso', or 'Voice of the People' - life-changers all, in their way?)
The BBC project of the 1950s heralded a renaissance for British and Irish folk song - the BBC and other attitudes made it a missed bus - 'the one that got away' as far as establishing folk song as a peoples' art form - Ewan, Bert and others tried their best but the Music Industries steamroller did damage during the boom which, I believe, we never really recovered from
Nowadays we can't even discuss what we mean by folk music without shouting at one another - a no-go area strewn with regularly exploding mines.
I know MacColl spent a decade with less experienced singers, examine the songs and singing - I was lucky enough to be a recipient of his generosity for a short time
Mention his name (nearly three decades after his death) and you are treated as if you'd farted in church.
As for the exercises and techniques he devised for singers, and the methods he used for making songs your own.... forget it!
Mind you - we do have the BBC Folk Awards!!!
Sorry folks - a sore point
Back to indexing our collection in the hope that some future generation might be interested in what Walter Pardon and Mary Delaney and Mikeen McCarthy, and Tom Lenihan and Ewan and all the others we interviewed had to say about folk song
Jim Carroll


07 Sep 17 - 04:09 AM (#3875601)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: nickp

My copy started at page 21 so has had to go back for replacement! I shall have to wait a little longer.


07 Sep 17 - 05:55 AM (#3875616)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Bonnie Shaljean

I've only just seen this thread - ordering this book now. Thanks so much to Brian for starting it, and to Jim Carroll for the heads-up about The Book Depository. Please note:

Free delivery WORLDWIDE:

https://www.bookdepository.com/Folk-Song-in-England-Steve-Roud/9780571309719?ref


07 Sep 17 - 06:50 AM (#3875619)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Free delivery WORLDWIDE:"
And pretty good discount, considering the publication date
We have managed to get a few rarities from the BD, including the long-sought-after 'Peter Buchan Paprs by William Walker, and Stephen Wade's 'The Beautiful Music All Around Us' - all discounted and post free
It's well worth trying your wants list on their site (even managed to get most of the unread Nigel Tranter at good prices)
Jim Carroll


07 Sep 17 - 06:52 AM (#3875620)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Not forgetting David Gregory's work of Victorian collectors and broadsides
Jim Carroll


07 Sep 17 - 09:02 AM (#3875645)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

I wrote
"I was questioned about whether Bob was entitled to make and sell these and I didn't (and still don't) have the answer."
Jim replied
Bob had the copies all of us involved with Ewan and Charles were given way, way back - neither had any objection to their being circulated - they were delighted it was being circulated and, as far as we could make out, the BBC had totally lost interest in them (the programmes didn't even appear to have appealed the entrepreneurial efforts of Peter Kennedy), so we all passed copies on to whoever could use them.

*********************
So I still don't have the answer. The key word in my sentence was entitled. The fact that those involved in the production "neither had any objection to their being circulated" doesn't come into it. I have hundreds of hours of recordings of of the weekly programme that I introduced for the BBC for 27 years. That does not mean that I have the right to duplicate from from reel-to-reel tape to CDr and sell them. The question that I intended is "Where does the copyright for BBC programme lie and for that matter, how long does it last?"
I ought to give my reasons for seeking an answer to this; when Jim states that "unlike Vic, we did so to examine Ewan's ideas to see if they held water." it makes me assume (though I maybe wrong) that he thinks I am attacking the central core of his beliefs which we read so often on Mudcat. I am not. The reason that I am asking this, Jim, is because at the moment I am amassing a huge number of recordings for Sussex Traditions and much of the material is recorded off air. At the management committee meetings, we devised a "permission form" and I simply can't get a satisfactory consistent answer about the right for us to put this in our rapidly growing archive (at present over 5,400 items) I could equally have asked, for example, the question about the programmes that Peter Kennedy recorded off-air and then released as FolkTrax cassettes and CDrs. It was the thread drift to the mention of The Song Carriers that brought it to my mind.
********************
Oh! and Steve Gardham writes
As you say, Vic, a fair precis, but no critique. Part of the problem we face is there are not many people about who are truly qualified to criticise what it has to say.


07 Sep 17 - 09:18 AM (#3875650)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Bonnie Shaljean

Sure wish the MGM Lion was still roaring around. I'd be interested to know Michael's views.


07 Sep 17 - 11:46 AM (#3875688)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"that he thinks I am attacking the central core of his beliefs"
I don't Vic - I just made my own position clear
I raised the point when you mentioned "selling" to dispel any idea that anybody was profiting from circulating the programmes.
We did/still do so because we feel they are worth it
They were programmes that could be improved, given hindsight, but since nobody has ever really tried, it's academic.
I have little doubt that legally they still belong to the Beeb (if they still exist) - and that goes for anything they ever produced
Morally is a different matter
The singers were paid pittances, if at all, and the minute the material was collected the sharks began to circle - copyright claims, marketed recordings paid for by the licence fee, "arrangements".... and above all, disinterest has led to the most important collection of recorded British traditional song being neglected and made virtually inaccessible until it was too late to assist in helping elevate folk music to the position it deserves.
When the Critics Group broke up a few of us continued to meet (in an already established workshop set up for raw beginners)
We threw in any material we had, including Ewan and Peggy's generously shared collection of field recordings
This also included recordings of some of the albums some of us had
This gradually formed itself into an archive of several thousand tapes
That archive has now been digitised, listed and partly annotated and is up for grabs for any club or organisation that is prepared to treat it with respect and not lock it up in a cupboard somewhere
It also includes our own field recordings - with the same stipulation
So far, it's been an uphill struggle to find a home for it other than academic institutions which will lock it up fro posterity - not what we want.
I have always though EFDSS might be a natural home, but looking at their present output - maybe not!
Our collection (as it was then), was the first to expand the interests of the then British Institute of Recorded Sound (later National Sound Archive and later still The National Sound Archive at the British Library) from an almost solely musicological group to one encompassing British Traditional music - back in the early eighties
Thirty years later Walter Pardon and his companions still stare through the bars of the prison he was locked in, inaccessible to the world at large all those years ago - somewhat disolusioning
Never mind - Ireland might make better use of it while we're still above ground - the signs are promising!
It's always seemed to me that, despite the decline, there are enough people around taking the music seriously enough to get together and make a a serious attempt to put 'The Voice of the People' back on the map without faffing around over whether Elvis was a folk singer because somebody once sang 'Red Suede Shoes'
Our music needs taking seriously if it is to survive, and nobody will do that unless we take it seriously ourselves
Bonny
I sorely miss Mike too, but he really wasn't the last word in folk-song - nobody was or is
Jim Carroll


07 Sep 17 - 01:00 PM (#3875699)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Jim wrote -
I have little doubt that legally they still belong to the Beeb.
.... and this would be my understanding as well. Can anyone give an indication of the length a broadcast's copyright? At the moment Sussex Traditions are following the line suggested by Steve Roud, another management committee member, of an "aggressive take-down policy" for anything on the database that anyone expresses concern about whether it be copyright ownership or anything else. There are also concerns that some material collected in Sussex is "of its time" and would be far from acceptable in these more politically correct times; one of our target audiences is local teachers preparing local studies topics.

Something else that Jim wrote allows me to bring the thread back to its title. He expresses concern about the EFDSS and his field recordings. That organisation's quarterly magazine, the autumn edition of English Dance & Song, dropped through my letterbox this morning. I did a quick scan-read of the 48 pages which suggests that this may be the best edition since the new editor took over. However, there is not one mention of this book Folk Song in England in this edition.
Brian Peters' first sentence (on 19 Aug 17) in this thread reads:-
On Thursday I attended the British Library launch for the new book 'Folk Song in England', by Steve Roud and Julia Bishop,
That there is no coverage in ED&S of this centrally important event or the book, I find very surprising.


07 Sep 17 - 01:16 PM (#3875701)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,henryp

Library Lectures Go To Manchester

These popular lectures are now venturing beyond the walls of Cecil Sharp House for the first time, taking place this autumn at the magnificent Chetham's Library in Manchester.

Street Literature and the Folk by Steve Roud
Thursday 28 September, 7–8.30pm

Folk song is often defined as being an aural tradition, with the words and tunes undergoing variation and evolution over time and place. However broadsides, chapbooks, and other ephemeral material with the printed lyrics of many folk songs were incredibly popular between the 16th and 20th centuries at all levels of society. This talk is an introduction to that material – the types, the sellers, the songs, and the singers.

Steve Roud is creator of the Roud Folk Song and Broadside Index, and has written and edited numerous books, including The New Penguin Book of English Folksongs, and the newly released, Folk Song In England.

Barbara Allen: Broadside Ballad, Theatre Song, Traditional Song by Vic Gammon
Friday 27 October, 7–8.30pm

Drink, Song and Politics in Early Modern England by Angela McShane
Thursday 30 November, 7–8.30pm


07 Sep 17 - 02:01 PM (#3875709)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

Mike had style, to be insulted by him was almost a pleasure, generally, because of his wonderful choice and careful selection of words, I miss him too


07 Sep 17 - 02:12 PM (#3875711)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,henryp

An Introduction to Folk Song in England
Sunday 19 November, 10:30am - 4:30pm
Cecil Sharp House, London

Internationally published folklorist Steve Roud presents with Laura Smyth, EFDSS' Library and Archive Director, this popular introductory level day exploring the history of English folk song.

Topics will include: the many possible definitions of 'folk', the songs themselves, the singers, the places and times for singing, the music, cheap printed broadsides and other sources from which people learned songs, the folksong collectors, the scholars and the beginnings of the post-War revival. The course is aimed at beginners and will not presume any previous experience or knowledge.

Promoted by EFDSS.


25 Sep 17 - 12:26 PM (#3878659)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan

Like Elmore, earlier, I dithered between the Kindle and the not-so-hardback versions. Finally plumped for the Kindle and have not regretted it yet! Excellent, lucid writing and eminently readable. The portability of the Kindle version is a real incentive to dip in and out as the opportunity arises.

Regards


25 Sep 17 - 07:10 PM (#3878715)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Joe Offer

My copy of Folk Song in England arrived last week. Gee, it sure is a BIG book - 764 pages! The binding quality leaves something to be desired, but the contents look like they'll be very interesting. The price is now $23.73 at Amazon.
-Joe-


25 Sep 17 - 07:21 PM (#3878718)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin

You can also get it in electronic form from Rakuten Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/folk-song-in-england

They aren't such arseholes as Amazon and I think their books are supplied in formats (ePub or PDF) that they can't get back from you.

For such a thick book with such a dodgy binding, and no hard-to-display colour pictures, that has to be the way to go.


26 Sep 17 - 03:42 AM (#3878743)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: BobL

It occurs to me that Faber may produce a "Library Edition" which isn't advertised through the usual channels, and which won't fall apart in a hurry. If so it will cost a lot more than £25.


28 Sep 17 - 09:41 AM (#3879113)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton

I've only got another week until I have to submit a review of the book to a magazine, and I'm only one page 170! I think it's a shame that debates in folk, about folk, and about folk scholarship went the way they did, and were so convoluted, from the Victorian age to the present... because it occurred to me that, normally in a work of non-fiction, you can get through the preliminaries in a 30-page introduction (i.e. in answering questions like: what is folk? who were the collectors? how reliable was their scholarship? etc) In this one, I'm almost 200 pages in and I still feel like I haven't got to the proper start of the book yet!

I don't dispute it's all necessary and it's not Steve Roud's fault that the combined efforts of several previous generations of folksong scholars have left us with so many methodological knots to unpick... but it is a bit exhausting. I think I need to jump ahead, it's slightly feeling like a never-ending introduction thus far.


28 Sep 17 - 10:15 AM (#3879116)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

Tonight! Library Lectures Go To Manchester

These popular lectures are now venturing beyond the walls of Cecil Sharp House for the first time, taking place this autumn at the magnificent Chetham's Library in Manchester.

1/3 Street Literature and the Folk by Steve Roud
Thursday 28 September, 7–8.30pm

Folk song is often defined as being an aural tradition, with the words and tunes undergoing variation and evolution over time and place. However broadsides, chapbooks, and other ephemeral material with the printed lyrics of many folk songs were incredibly popular between the 16th and 20th centuries at all levels of society. This talk is an introduction to that material – the types, the sellers, the songs, and the singers.

Steve Roud is creator of the Roud Folk Song and Broadside Index, and has written and edited numerous books, including The New Penguin Book of English Folksongs, and the newly released, Folk Song In England.

THE BALLAD OF CHETHAM'S LIBRARY: MUSIC AND PRINTING WORKSHOP
FRIDAY 27 OCTOBER 2017, 4.30PM - 6.30PM FREE

Come and listen to ballad singer Jennifer Reid talk about her recent research trip to Bangladesh, where she explored Manchester and Lancashire song traditions, and how they relate to Bangladeshi songs of the same type. Jennifer will also perform a couple of folksongs from the Lancashire area similar to "Barbara Allen", whose long and fascinating history will be described in depth during Vic Gammon's Library Lecture later on in the day.

Again as an introduction to Vic Gammon's talk, participants will be able to get a free letterpress version of "Barbara Allen" as produced by local printer Graham Moss from Incline Press in Oldham. There will be a chance to finish these copies with your own choice of illustrations by the hand of artist Desdemona McMannon and printer Stephen Fowler, who will provide a number of specially commissioned rubberstamps for this workshop.

2/3 Barbara Allen: Broadside Ballad, Theatre Song, Traditional Song by Vic Gammon
Friday 27 October, 7–8.30pm

3/3 Drink, Song and Politics in Early Modern England by Angela McShane
Thursday 30 November, 7–8.30pm


28 Sep 17 - 11:17 AM (#3879131)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,cookieless Billy Weeks

Guest Matt: I think I understand your problem reviewing this book - it is a monumental - even daunting - work of scholarship. But the idea that you might have to 'jump ahead' to get the job done is a bit troubling. Such a review may say more about the reviewer than about the book.


28 Sep 17 - 11:54 AM (#3879135)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

I have just this morning finished reading:-
BILLY BRAGG - "Roots, Radicals And Rockers"
Faber & Faber ISBN 978-0-571-32774-4

and now I have the review to write. The sub-title is How Skiffle Changed The World and it is an excellent piece of work in my opinion.

Next I have to read:-
AS I WALKED OUT
Martin Graebe
Signal, Oxford. ISBN 978-1-909930-53-7

That one has the sub-title SABINE-BARING-GOULD AND THE SEARCH FOR THE FOLK SONGS OF DEVON AND CORNWALL and then I have to write a review on that one (Different publication - different approach needed).

Then if nothing else with a publication deadline comes through I will settle down to Steve Roud and Folk Song In England. I am hoping to be able to interview Steve about the book on my radio programme in late October/early November and I may have to conduct that without finishing the book, but Steve does not need much prompting to get him going on radio interviews as I know from experience so I should get away with it.

After that, I should be able to comment on FSIE here - so keep the thread going!


28 Sep 17 - 01:28 PM (#3879155)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

I've only got another week until I have to submit a review of the book to a magazine, and I'm only one page 170!

Been there! I remember eagerly volunteering to review the first Voice of the People CD set and quickly realising that I had to find time to listen carefully to 20 CDs and then compose something comprehensive and coherent. I'm actually quite glad not to be reviewing FSE - it would take me the week you have remaining to write the thing, never mind finish reading it.

I take your point, Matt, about the long introductory section, but it's hard to see how it could have been avoided, given past controversies and subjective definitions. What's interesting to me - given that I'm about as far into it as you are - is that there seems to be far less interest (compared with Lloyd's book) in defining and describing the nature of particular song types, than in looking at 300 years' worth of historical evidence for vernacular singing in a broad sense, and how all kinds of popular music impinged on it. I wonder how the conclusions will square with the selection of songs in the same authors' New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, most of which would have been approved of by Cecil Sharp.

However, as Vic says, let's not start jumping to conclusions before actually finishing the book...


28 Sep 17 - 07:21 PM (#3879189)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

I finished it a few days ago and felt a need to start again at the beginning. There's just too much information, from so many perspectives, to take in in one go.

Unlike Sharp, who very early on published "some conclusions" that were based as much on what he wanted to believe as on actual hard evidence that he had gathered in his collecting work, Steve has gone somewhat the other way, presenting a great deal of evidence but (it seems to me) largely leaving his readers to form our own conclusions.

The main (tentative) conclusion that I have drawn so far is that, in the various more-or-less informal / non-commercial settings in which people have sung songs, those songs have typically included some very recent ones and some older ones, but at any given time not very many that were more than a century or so old. That in turn implies that many of the songs passed through a fairly small number of persons (whether aurally or in print/writing) between their original authors and the singers from whom they were collected. Yes there was continuity, variation and selection, but typically only through a limited number of steps, as least insofar as the words are concerned.

The tunes may have benefitted from more stages of transmission by the "folk", thus becoming truly reflective of some ideal folk character as Sharp and his contemporaries liked to believe, but there's not a lot of real evidence for or against that notion.

Anyone feel free to shoot me down if the above is a load of cobblers.


29 Sep 17 - 03:54 AM (#3879236)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Mike Yates

I am really sad to say that I gave up somewhere around page 450.


29 Sep 17 - 08:25 AM (#3879264)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

Perhaps it works better as a dipping-in book than if you try to plough your way through the lot, Mike?

Richard Mellish wrote:
The main (tentative) conclusion that I have drawn so far is that, in the various more-or-less informal / non-commercial settings in which people have sung songs, those songs have typically included some very recent ones and some older ones, but at any given time not very many that were more than a century or so old.

I think your summation is pretty good, Richard. However, it looks to me as though the book is not going to give us a decisive answer to what is 'folk' and what is not. For instance, on p 23 we read: "A singer may take a song from the printed page, or in school, a church, or a theatre, but as soon as he or she starts to sing it, and others take it up, it becomes 'folk'." But that's ambiguous: is it 'folk' the moment the first singer takes it up, or only when it's passed on? Two pages later it looks like it's not just passing it on to your mate in the pub that's important, but that it needs to have been around for about two generations.

But those music hall songs and parlour songs that Sharp and others are criticised for ignoring when they went out with their notebooks in the 1900s were probably composed during the lifetimes of the singers they met (who were predominantly elderly). So had they become 'folk' by that time or not?

On p. 322 we have Flora Thompson describing village pub singing in the 1880s and telling us that the most popular songs 'would have arrived complete with tune from the outer world'. Were these less 'folk' than 'The Outlandish Knight' when it was sung in the same session?

Then on p. 390, Roud quotes farm labourer Fred Kitchen describing the music hall / parlour songs sung by his companions on their way to Martlemass Fair in Doncaster around 1905. At the time these were modern popular songs, but Roud suggests that, by the time American collectors started to note down the same songs in the 1920s / 30s, 'they had had time to bed down as 'folk'.

I know there will be people reading this who will see no point whatsoever in the debate, but since this book is probably the most complete statement we'll ever get on English folk song, it's interesting that there still seem to be quite a few loose ends.


29 Sep 17 - 08:51 AM (#3879270)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton

"What's interesting to me - given that I'm about as far into it as you are - is that there seems to be far less interest (compared with Lloyd's book) in defining and describing the nature of particular song types, than in looking at 300 years' worth of historical evidence for vernacular singing in a broad sense, and how all kinds of popular music impinged on it."

Yes, I'm getting a similar sort of impression.

One day I'm hoping to read a book on English folk song that really gets to grips with the WORDS. (Martin Carthy and Shirley Collins could probably write brilliant ones, given the sort of things they've said when I've heard them speak of them) I say that as an English Literature graduate, and as a lover of poetry and novels and folk tales and stories and, of course, songs. One of the reasons I felt obliged to speak up for the value of Bert Lloyd's book, in posts above, is that the parts of his book where he talks about the content of specific songs (and song types) is, for me, where his writing is really valuable.


29 Sep 17 - 10:09 AM (#3879289)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

> it's interesting that there still seem to be quite a few loose ends.

Seriously, folks...is there a definition of "poetry" that definitively covers all the alleged examples of a poem to the exclusion of all non-poetry? And that everyone will agree on?

I don't think so.

Regardless of your definition of "folksong," you'll find a song to fit it and others that don't.

The best way out of the definition trap, as far as I can see, is to ignore the entire folk/non-folk dichotomy entirely and just discuss the song.


29 Sep 17 - 03:00 PM (#3879334)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

I don't have any of these problems. The '54' descriptors are plenty to outline what folk song is. I'm completely with Jon, very few genres if any require a hard boundaries definition. Having said that I doubt very much if any of the contributors to this thread would differ on what constitutes a traditional folk song. Steve sets his stall out in the intro and does a very comprehensive job in the following chapters. He has no real agenda other than supplying genuine information, unlike Bert and Cecil who definitely did have agendas.

Matt, what WORDS do you want to get to grips with? Perhaps the rest of us here can help.


29 Sep 17 - 04:15 PM (#3879352)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Steve G said "I doubt very much if any of the contributors to this thread would differ on what constitutes a traditional folk song". That's probably correct for a central core of material, but we may well differ considerably about some of the layers further out: see the examples cited by Brian Peters at 08:25 AM Mudcat time today. Steve R himself sets out on pages 24 and 25 many criteria for something being "folk" or not, with particular instances meeting more or fewer of them to varying degrees. And a bit later he suggests that no specimen will ever score 10 out of 10.


29 Sep 17 - 06:20 PM (#3879370)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Aaaaaaaargh! Lost it again! Grrrr!

The last singer I recorded about 10 years ago had songs from his farming community, songs he had learnt at school and songs he had written about his own life in farming. To me they were all folk songs.

No modern scholar has tried to put a time limit on when a song becomes folk. Obviously the longer a song remains in a folk community the more of the characteristics it picks up, but at what point a song becomes folk has not been established. IMO it doesn't need to be.


30 Sep 17 - 04:12 AM (#3879412)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: r.padgett

O dear ~could run a while yet

Ray


30 Sep 17 - 05:13 AM (#3879419)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

I'm sure we're not trying to agree a definition of "folk" or "traditional". The "1954" definition isn't too far wrong, but many very long threads here have made quite clear that we'd be lucky even to agree to disagree about that. What we are doing is exploring the implications of the mass of information in Steve Roud's book, one of which is indeed that the boundaries of "folk" or "traditional" are very wooly.


30 Sep 17 - 06:21 AM (#3879425)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

The best way out of the definition trap, as far as I can see, is to ignore the entire folk/non-folk dichotomy entirely and just discuss the song.

If we react to the mass of evidence so well researched and presented by Steve Roud by closing down the debate, then his time will have been wasted. The whole point of this book is to open up the question of what is 'folk'. Roud himself describes that question in his 'Afterword' (yes, I've been dipping again) as 'the elephant in the room'.

What I (and I suspect a lot of us on this thread) have always understood as 'traditional folk song' has been based broadly on the concept as erected by Victorian / Edwardian collectors. Roud has compiled evidence that a wide range of additional songs were on the lips of the working classes of the day. If Sharp et al were justified in rejecting contemporary pop songs, then the edifice still stands. If not, then the body of material labelled 'folk song' is - not 'fake', certainly - but an unrepresentative sample. That's a bigger philosophical question than whether Steve G's farmer's original compositions should be called 'folk' or not. Without addressing it, how could one even attempt to compile a collection of 'English Folk Songs' when a publisher like, say, Penguin Books, came calling?

Roud's concluding sentence affirms his view that traditional process is of prime importance in his view of this music. With that, Cecil Sharp would agree. But don't let's all throw up our hands and cry "Oh no, another Mudcat 'what is folk?' food fight!" when this is a distinctly different debate from the one about Dylan / Mumfords etc etc.


30 Sep 17 - 10:01 AM (#3879457)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton

Steve: "Matt, what WORDS do you want to get to grips with? Perhaps the rest of us here can help."

I capitalised the word WORDS simply because there seems to plenty of writing and scholarship about the definition of a folk song; who sang them; who collected them; who published them; how they were disseminated etc etc. But very little discussion about what's in the songs themselves. The stories, the themes, the imagery, the similes and metaphors, the narrative tricks, the filmic elements, the structure, the switches in perspective of the teller, the tropes ("come all ye", "as I went out..."), the repetition etc etc. I find this a little bizarre, because it's this stuff that makes me want to sing a song, and I'm sure that's the case for most singers. Yet it seems it's not what writers interested in folk song want to write about.

Of course, maybe now everyone will recommend me loads of books about precisely this that I simply didn't know exist! Any embarassment about revealing my ignorance will have been worth it, though.


30 Sep 17 - 10:48 AM (#3879461)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

One of the reasons I felt obliged to speak up for the value of Bert Lloyd's book, in posts above, is that the parts of his book where he talks about the content of specific songs (and song types) is, for me, where his writing is really valuable.

I was prompted by Matt's comment to pull down the Lloyd book from the shelves and leaf through it again. While with the benefit of hindsight it's easy to raise a sceptical eyebrow at many of the more romantic suggestions regarding the age and antecedents of the ballads (amongst other things), it did remind me how exciting I found this book when I first read it as a teenager, and how it helped to convince me that these were songs I needed to sing.

You're right that the Roud book doesn't concern itself too much with 'what's in the songs themselves' - that seems to be taken as read. Lloyd of course had plenty to say on the matter. I don't know offhand of many scholarly overviews of that kind of thing - maybe Evelyn Wells' 'The Ballad Tree'? - but things like imagery, metaphor, narrative devices and the other things you mention are always coming up in ballad workshops and have been the stuff of many a Mudcat discussion over the years.


30 Sep 17 - 12:21 PM (#3879473)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Steve Roud once said to me - and I think that he was only partly joking -
A traditional folk song is a song sung by a folk singer.
What a folk singer sings is traditional songs.


30 Sep 17 - 01:05 PM (#3879478)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

He wasn't joking! That's certainly one valid way of looking at the question.

Brian, my own experience of Bert's FSE exactly matches yours.

In answer to Matt, many of these topics have been studied in academic works (mostly US or continental) and perhaps it would be useful to start making a comprehensive bibliography of these.

As the vast majority of the ballads we now call folk songs were shaped by those who wrote the broadsides we should look more closely at the characteristics of these.


30 Sep 17 - 02:51 PM (#3879490)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"What a folk singer sings is traditional songs."
I'm disappointed that Steve subscribes to this superficial nonsense, particularly as it contradicts his own method of work - you don't find many 'Lily of Laguna's' with Roud numbers.
It's a little like saying that Wouldn't it be Luvvrly' becomes 'Opera' when Kiri Ti Kanawa sings it   
Those source singer we questioned all discriminated between the different types of song in their repertoire
Walter Pardon filled tape after tape explaining what was a folk song and what wasn't and then described the difference between Parlour Songs, Music Hall and early pop songs, even to the point of identifying the age of the tune by whether it finihed on the accordion with the bellow open or closed.
Blind Travelling woman, Mary Delaney knew around 150 traditional songs - she could have doubled that number with her C and W songs but she refused because she said that weren't the same as the old ones.
She referred to her traditional songs as "Me daddies songs" though her father only had around half da dozen - she was referring to a type rather than a source.
Traveller Mikeen McCarthy divides his repertoire into Street songs, Come-all ye's and fireside songs.
He saw pictures when he sang traditional songs, he didn't when he sang more modern ones
I'm convinced that much of the misinformation about how the older singers was dow to the fact that they were never, or only superficially asked what they thought of their songs
It also depended on the respective states of the oral tradition when the songs were first recorded.
I haven't had time to read Steve's book properly yet, but I hope he goes deeper into the subject than this - maybe over the next few weeks while I'm laid up acting as host to a new hip
Sorry if I've entered the forbidden territory of 'what is a folk song'., but there really is a difference between one and the other and if Walter, Mikeen, Mary, Tom Lenihan… and the old crowd know what it is, it's about time we did, or at least, were able to discuss"What a folk singer sings is traditional songs."
I'm disappointed that Steve subscribes to this superficial nonsense, particularly as it contradicts his own method of work - you don't find many 'Lily of Laguna's' with Roud numbers.
It's a little like saying that Wouldn't it be Luvvrly' becomes 'Opera' when Kiri Ti Kanawa sings it   
Those source singer we questioned all discriminated between the different types of song in their repertoire
Walter Pardon filled tape after tape explaining what was a folk song and what wasn't and then described the difference between Parlour Songs, Music Hall and early pop songs, even to the point of identifying the age of the tune by whether it finihed on the accordion with the bellow open or closed.
Blind Travelling woman, Mary Delaney knew around 150 traditional songs - she could have doubled that number with her C and W songs but she refused because she said that weren't the same as the old ones.
She referred to her traditional songs as "Me daddies songs" though her father only had around half da dozen - she was referring to a type rather than a source.
Traveller Mikeen McCarthy divides his repertoire into Street songs, Come-all ye's and fireside songs.
He saw pictures when he sang traditional songs, he didn't when he sang more modern ones
I'm convinced that much of the misinformation about how the older singers was dow to the fact that they were never, or only superficially asked what they thought of their songs
It also depended on the respective states of the oral tradition when the songs were first recorded.
I haven't had time to read Steve's book properly yet, but I hope he goes deeper into the subject than this - maybe over the next few weeks while I'm laid up acting as host to a new hip
Jim Carroll it without acrimony
"As the vast majority of the ballads we now call folk songs were shaped by those who wrote the broadsides"
Nonsense again Steve - you can't possibly know that
The ballads are finely constructed works of art relying lergely on well established vernacular and commonplaces - the broadsides were largely unsingable doggerel
Jim Carroll


30 Sep 17 - 03:06 PM (#3879494)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Sorry about the double cock-up of that post - in a hurry to catch Casualty!!
Jim Carroll


30 Sep 17 - 03:09 PM (#3879496)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: r.padgett

"What a folk singer sings is traditional songs." no not exclusively


Traditional songs are/were sung by folk singers ~ some could be or are

classified as being traditional folk singers ~ I think there is or

should be a definition of "traditional folk singer" although the wording escapes me at the moment!

Folk singers who are not deemed to be "traditional singers" but who sing

traditional songs (ok define again) are often referred to be

"revivalist" folk singers ~ Martin Carthy, Nick Jones, Tony Rose for example and of course Brian Peters and many many others
Ray


30 Sep 17 - 03:12 PM (#3879497)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

I think we're at cross purposes again, Jim.
You seem to be referring to the big ballads in your last statement. We were discussing folk song in general most of which are ballads. However, since you refer to commonplaces, these are also extremely common on broadsides.

'the broadsides were largely unsingable doggerel' I don't know about 'unsingable' but you are right, the vast majority of it most of us would consider extremely unfashionable today. But to those of us who have trawled through mountains of this stuff in order to track down earlier versions of 'folk ballads' we have managed to arrive at some reasonable conclusions about their origins and reworking. If you read your Mayhew and similar you will know that in previous centuries recycling was a massive industry unlike today's throwaway society.

Matt, if you want I can't point you at some academic works that are very useful on some of the points that you mention, but I don't have a comprehensive list as I'm not an academic.


30 Sep 17 - 03:38 PM (#3879503)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

You seem to be referring to the big ballads in your last statement.
Nope - I'm referring to our finely crafted traditional songs
As our knowledge of the oral tradition onLy dates as far as the beginning of the twentieth century - anything before that is a guess and way out of the reach of definitive statements
A "broadside hack" was a derogatory term for a bad poet – not a reference to the language of the time
Jim Carroll


30 Sep 17 - 03:39 PM (#3879504)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll


30 Sep 17 - 03:45 PM (#3879506)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Ne'ertheless 'broadside hacks' definitely wrote many of what we now call folk ballads. Mayhew again. He describes a conversation with the writer of The Bonny Bunch of Roses. Mayhew himself wrote Villikins as a burlesque on William and Dinah and we also know who wrote William and Dinah. What about that wonderful Child Ballad 'The Daemon Lover'? But I'll let Brian tell you who wrote that.

I think it best if we continue this discussion after you've read Steve's book. We spent many months sifting through that 'unsingable doggerel'.


30 Sep 17 - 03:59 PM (#3879511)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Matt, 3.12 for 'can't' read 'can'.


01 Oct 17 - 04:39 AM (#3879562)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Ne'ertheless 'broadside hacks' definitely wrote many of what we now call folk ballads. "
Again Steve, we can't be certain of anything - Mayhew may well have well met the writer of Bonny Bunch; he equally might have met somebody who claimed he wrote it - the same goes for any song
Can you say for certain there were no preceding versions of Demon Lover - there are enough traditional commonplaces and general human experiences within the song to suggest there might have been
When we began recording source singers we more or less decided from the start that our work would have no meaning unless we recorded what we could of the context in which the songs were sung in an attempt, not to find who made them, but to get some idea why they might have been made and what purpose they served in the communities in which theey circulated
Probably the most important discovery we made was that a significant number had been made within the lifetime of the singers
A 90 odd year old singer told us a couple of years ago that "In those days, if a man farted in church, somebody made a song about it"
You've written this off as what happened in this part of rural Ireland, but we know that Travellers made their own songs, English Scots and Irish
Walter Pardon talked about the Union songs his Uncles sang which were made at the time Georhe Edwards was reforming the Agricultural Workers Union
These are all later songs, but there is no reason to believe that most of our traditional songs started in the same way - or if there is, it escapes me.
It seems that working men and women were natural songmaker with a desire to record their lives and opinions in verse; there is no reason to believe that they always have been
The Travellers we recorded still had a living, functioning tradition in the first three years of the 1970s (put a sudden stop to with the advent of portable televisions) - they were still making songs
The song traditions in rural Ireland still functioned as living entities into the 1950s though they had faded somewhat thanks to the conscious destruction of music and dance by the Church, with the aid of the State a few decades earlier
Both the rural and urban Irish continued to make songs because the political and cultural situation demanded them.
Walter Pardon sang songs he had assiduously gathered from his family memories, so his repertoire and his opinions represented his two uncles' experiences rather than his own - dating back to the late 19th, early 20th centuries.
Sharp and his colleagues always claimed that the traditions they were collecting from were on the wane - the English song traditions almost certainly began to die when the Industrial Revolution smashed up the rural communities and drove the people into the towns and the demands of the new society began to change the lives of the remaining rural dwellers radically
Irish collector Tom Munnelly described his work as "a race with the undertaker"
Claiming we still have a living tradition is a revival fantasy - modern technology has made us passive recipients of our culture rather than part of it.   
Basing opinions and making definitive statements about something that stretches back centuries, possibly millennia, on something that is on its last legs is crazy
Our classic ballads have been dated to the 17th and 18th centuries, but we know they contain motifs and references that date back as far as Boccachio, Homer and maybe beyond, giving rise to the possibility that some may have been around a lot longer than we think.
You suggest we all go and read Steve' book as if it is somehow going to suddenly cause the scales to fall from our eyes and we will all be enlightened
I suggest we have enough collective knowledge between us here to slug it out whenever the fancy takes us
Personally, I'm tired of putting these serious debates "on the long finger" (a local folk saying btw)
Personally I need to put our findings and opinions together as soon as possible - I'm far too old to risk doing otherwise
Jim Carroll


01 Oct 17 - 04:50 AM (#3879564)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

The sorts of songs that originally captured our interest and that were the main subject of Lloyd's book covered more or less the same range as those that the collectors in the late 1800s and early 1900s regarded as folk songs; but those were already not all of a single sort.

The big ballads tell stories that are often many centuries old. Many of them deal with the affairs of kings, queens, lords and ladies. Some involve magic. The earliest known versions as ballads typically date from the 1600s or 1700s.

The songs about shepherds, sailors, lovers separated by class-conscious parents, etc first appeared (as far as anyone can tell, pace Jim) in stage plays or in the pleasure gardens in the late 1700s or early 1800s and then on broadsides, or else originally on broadsides having been written specifically for that market.

Those two genres are fairly distinct, although there is some overlap. But both met the collectors' ill-defined criteria, both appeal to us nowadays, and both would presumably have qualified for Walter Pardon etc as proper folk songs.

What they have in common is that, by the time they were collected, they had knocked around for long enough to benefit from some continuity and selection, and generally from some variation. Continuity is implicit in the fact that they survived to be collected. Selection caused huge numbers of other broadside ballads to fall by the wayside. Variation is a mixed blessing. With some songs it has given us numerous delightfully different versions, but it has also caused some of them to be manifestly incomplete or not to make sense.

Nowadays we delight in singing and listening to these songs (as well as studying them); but in the same performance situations we also sing and hear songs from the music halls and songs written in modern times. The music hall songs were too new to be of interest to the early collectors but by now they have at least been subject to continuity and selection, if not to much variation. The same is already happening with some of the songs written by such people as Ewan MacColl and Cyril Tawney (and Woody Guthrie over the Pond). We are already selecting those that have sufficient appeal. And variation is happening: I have heard small changes in some of Cyril Tawney's songs as now being sung.

As I observed above, however, there have often been few steps of continuity and variation. Joe Rae's (Gutcher on here) present-day version of the Daemon Lover is almost word for word as printed by Scott, even including the four verses due to Laidlaw that Child saw fit to exclude.


01 Oct 17 - 08:13 AM (#3879592)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Very eloquently expressed, Richard. The only thing I could add to that currently is that much of the more drastic variation is down to rewriting by the broadside ballad writers, which is what I was referring to in my recycling comment earlier, and what will be one of the main thrusts of my next paper at the Sheffield broadside day on the 25th November.


01 Oct 17 - 08:36 AM (#3879595)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Jim,
I can find very little to disagree with in what you have written here. The fact remains that current academic and scholarly study puts the published corpus of traditional English folk song down to commercial origins of some sort. However, ultimately the origins of any creation cannot be proven and that includes Shakespeare's plays and many other works of art. Sometimes you have to simply take the word of those who have studied the material in great detail and come to these conclusions of origin.

Double standards. The agricultural union short-lived songs are folk songs but not my farm hand who wrote songs about his farming experiences?


01 Oct 17 - 08:39 AM (#3879596)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>>You suggest we all go and read Steve's book as if it is somehow going to suddenly cause the scales to fall from our eyes and we will all be enlightened<<<<<<< Jim

Not at all, Jim. Steve asks more questions than provides answers. I suggested it simply because that is the purpose of this thread and I'm sure he would be delighted if we used it as a stimulus to discussion.


01 Oct 17 - 08:46 AM (#3879597)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Very eloquently expressed, "
Seconded, but I'm not sure it alters or even challenges anything I've said so far
Liking or singing music hall or MacColl songs does not make them 'folk', which is a process, not a preference or type of song
Some of MacColl's best songs teeterd on the edge of becoming traditional in the communities that still retained a living Tradition, but they will always be MacColl's songs because they bore his name and his copyright, no matter what changes take place - change isn't tradition either
Unfortunately, one of the aspects introduced by the revival is that of personal ownership - many come with the stamp "arranged by" - this includes traditional songs
Unlike the old compositions, song are coming into the world still-born - communities can no longer take ownership of them as the traditional communities did
It still irks me that one of the greatest finds of the twentieth century, The Maid and the Palmer', given by a travelling man who lived in a derelict house and died of the effects of malnutrition, can be copyrighted
If that is the case with a centuries old ballad, what chance does a newly composed song have of becoming 'ours'?
Jim Carroll


01 Oct 17 - 08:54 AM (#3879598)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

> The "1954" definition isn't too far wrong

Actually, it isn't "wrong" at all (or "right" for that matter), because songs empirically exist that fit it to a T.

It's a definition that says, "this what we specialists who agree on this definition mean by "folksong" and what you should mean too." It *isn't* the kind that tells what the word means in general usage: as we know, there are many such meanings - sad, perhaps, but certainly true. It's also true that there's no way to enforce this definition - also sad, perhaps, but true.

The point of dispute is whether songs included in the 1954 def. are the *only* ones that "deserve" the name of "folksong."

A related, possibly more interesting question, is why certain songs are *called* folksongs - and by whom.


01 Oct 17 - 08:59 AM (#3879599)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Steve asks more questions than provides answers."
I hope so, but Steve is only one of many writers who have gone to great lengths to understand folk song and if we waited for all the new ideas to come forth we's be standing around like Estragon and Vladimir, forever waiting for Godot.
I don't believe one Messiah exists who is going to produce all the answers
I find myself getting more and more depressed when I read some of the academic kite-flying that takes place (I'm not suggesting for one minute that Steve is doing this - personally, I would have been totally lost in working on our own collection if it hadn't been for his groundbreaking contribution)
Understanding our song tradition has to be as fluid and ongoing as was the tradition itself - a communal pool of ideas.
Jim Carroll
Luckily, I posted this and it didn't take, so I was able to read Lighter's fascinating contribution
See what I mean about pooling ideas?
Jim Carroll


01 Oct 17 - 09:26 AM (#3879603)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Must remember not to post on a weekend. Just lost a whole lot of posting because the server keeps going down for maintenance.


01 Oct 17 - 09:27 AM (#3879604)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Try again.

I'm assuming we are all 100% in agreement on what Jim says here.


01 Oct 17 - 09:29 AM (#3879605)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Regarding academics they often get it wrong. Their agendas are restricted by their superiors and they have schedules, agendas and time limits which other scholars don't have to bow to. A noted exception for me is Vic Gammon.


01 Oct 17 - 10:00 AM (#3879607)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

much of the more drastic variation is down to rewriting by the broadside ballad writers

A few years ago I researched the history of'The Wild Rover', helped along the way by both Jim and Steve G amongst others. Like a lot of older broadside pieces it began life as a very wordy, moralistic, thirteen-verse text written in the late seventeenth century by a known author (and yes, I do think this copy is most likely the origin). From there it went through various print incarnations over two centuries, getting shorter, more concise and telling a more effective story with each new edit. However, during the later history of the song it was also changed through what I could only conclude was oral traditional processing as well (the two are not of course incompatible), and acquired at least three distinct tunes, including a particularly attractive one in Ireland (as sung by Pat Usher) that made its way to Australia - where the song must have arrived independently several times. The well-known version is definitely a 1960s concoction, though.

That's just one example of how different kinds of process can affect the evolution of one song. It doesn't have to be 'one or the other', and we don't need to take to the barricades about it.

Steve Roud's book mentions the nice example of a rather arty song, 'The Shepard Adonis' becoming the localized 'Shepherd of the Downs' in the repertoire of the Copper Family. We don't know how or when the change took place but, since it appears there isn't a broadside copy of the 'Downs' text, and oral versions are vanishingly scarce, perhaps it was indeed a Sussex countryman who amended it?


01 Oct 17 - 11:28 AM (#3879611)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"I do think this copy is most likely the origin"
Can I just make clear that I am not denying the probable broadside origins of some of our folksongs - some of them still bear the heavy handprint of the broadside hack - it's Steve G's percentages I dispute.
One of the problems I have is the question of literacy as evidence
Many of our singers, although able to read, still had difficulty with English - it was a second language when they were growing up and it showed when they wrote something out for you.
Some learned songs from "the Ballads" - song sheets sold at the fairs, but a number said they couldn't be trusted
Travellers were in an odd position, they were largely non-literate, but greatly responsible for putting songs into print
Mien McCarthy, from Kerry, described going to the printers in Tralee and reciting his father's songs over the counter to be printed out and sold
He also described putting songs into print by request "do you have any of your daddy's songs for sale?"
Length of "Wild Rover"
One of the most popular songs we recorded from Travellers was 'The Blind Beggar'
When I researched this I traced it as far as one of the longest broadsides I have ever come across (Percy, I think)
It was over sixty verses long and in two parts
The Travellers has it in the streamlined 8 or 9 verse version
Apropos of nothing, when Mikeen first sang it for us he was camped at the back of the Mile End Road in London, within five minutes walk of The Blind Beggar Pub
He was fascinated when he found out is was the hang-out of the notorious Kray Twins and permanently displayed a "No Travellers served here" sign
Jim Carroll


01 Oct 17 - 11:30 AM (#3879612)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Mikeen McCarthy, of course - bleedin' keyboard
Jim Carroll


01 Oct 17 - 12:26 PM (#3879620)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Just to clarify Jim's comment at 11.28.

Fact: Of published English traditional folk songs 89% had their first extant manifestation on some form of commercial production in urban areas.

My opinion, take or leave, 95% of this corpus came from the same source. Many ephemeral printed pieces did not survive. We know this from the many catalogues that do survive.


01 Oct 17 - 12:33 PM (#3879622)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

As no-one else has yet offered the author of The Demon Lover, if you go to the current Barbara Allen thread and read the late great Bruce Olsen's posting of 19th Feb 98, 11.41 pm you'll get his say on the matter.


01 Oct 17 - 01:24 PM (#3879629)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"had their first extant manifestation on some form of commercial production in urban areas."
Sorry Steve - can you explain that
Are you still claiming they originated in print - sure;y not?
Jim Carroll


01 Oct 17 - 01:28 PM (#3879632)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

>The well-known version is definitely a 1960s concoction, though.

When a friend returned from a year in Cork, ca1984, he said the version that he heard a good deal had the chorus slightly revised into

"So it's no, nay, never,
(Right up yer arse!)
No, never no more...."

Otherwise, the "well-known version."


01 Oct 17 - 01:44 PM (#3879636)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: r.padgett

Er the living tradition then Lighter?

Ray

A folk song is a folk song ~ what else can you can them?

Ray


01 Oct 17 - 02:12 PM (#3879641)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Really, Jim? We know the songs came from a wide variety of sources, mostly straight from the urban ballad writers but many first appeared in the theatre, pleasure gardens, supper rooms, music cellars, glee clubs, Music Hall, sheet music, songsters, etc., all commercial, in other words somebody was getting paid for their production, albeit only a shilling a go in the case of the broadside writers. The further you go back the more actually originated in London, for obvious reasons. Your 'Blind Beggar' for instance.


01 Oct 17 - 02:23 PM (#3879646)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

As no-one else has yet offered the author of The Demon Lover

Oops, that quiz question was addressed to me and I missed my chance of glory. Laurence Price, 1657, is the answer you're looking for. I did wonder for some time whether LP might have based it on an existing ballad (erecting his verbose and moralistic scaffolding around a traditional core), but it looks as though what happened there was a similar story to 'The Wild Rover'. I hadn't seen that Bruce O post before, actually.

And yes, I've heard the 'right up yer arse' chorus as well. Saves the sore hands.


01 Oct 17 - 02:49 PM (#3879651)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Don't believe a word of it Steve - I'm afraid you're going to have to prove it - otherwise, we are stuck with the fact that we have nog got th faintest idea where they originated
We know that Mikeen to his father's songs and gave them to a printer which at the very least, shows that printing traditional songs for sale was a two way street
I don't believe for one minute that the hacks whose doggerel fills half a dozen of our shelves were anywhere capable of producing Sam Larner's or Harry Cox's or Walter's or Phil Tanner's gems with their obvious familiarity with the vernacular, trade names, work practices, folk-lore - and the hundred and one personal experiences recounted in the songs, often in intimate detail
It would take a hundred social historians a hundred years to fe that familiar with them
So far, all you can offer is the earliest date they went into print.
Are you really this certain that working people were incapable of expressing themselves poetically?
Not my experience - but maybe the Irish are more creative than the English!!
You are returning our people back to the old image of a creatively cultureless class
Shame on you
Even Child recognised who the songs belonged to when he called his ballads "Popular" - of the people, not how far they reached in the nineteenth century charts
Pitts referred to his output as "country songs" an did Issac Walton.
THe term "folk" was devised by Thom to identify it's home-made common origins rather than stall-bought artifacts
As I said - don't believe a word of it.
Jim Carroll


01 Oct 17 - 02:53 PM (#3879653)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

I think you need to explain that last comment for the benefit of the uninitiated, Brian.

Price and Martin Parker occasionally parodied each other's work and I have evidence that they sometimes borrowed stanzas from tradition and from earlier ballads, but the vast majority of their output appears to have been original.


01 Oct 17 - 03:06 PM (#3879656)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Jim, we've been through all of this before and you have deliberately misunderstood my comments exactly the same way numerous times. I have plenty of evidence as you well know, some of it mentioned above, that working people were often very creative, by way of song writing. It just so happens that the vast majority of them for one reason or another didn't get their songs into print and therefore they weren't spread abroad like the urban ballads. John Clare is an excellent example. Apart from his poetry and writing down the trad songs he came across he also rewrote quite a few songs in Burns' fashion, but none of them were ever collected in oral tradition. We are sometimes lucky to find them in old manuscripts but unfortunately very few made it into oral tradition to be collected and published.

>>>>don't believe a word of it<<<< Your prerogative, Jim.

'origins' as you well know have no bearing whatsoever on the oral tradition.


01 Oct 17 - 03:21 PM (#3879657)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

I think you need to explain that last comment for the benefit of the uninitiated, Brian.

Er... yes, could be misunderstood...

No need to clap four times!

Interesting comment re Parker & Price.


01 Oct 17 - 05:04 PM (#3879668)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Working with Steve Roud on the "Sussex Traditions" project, he makes it clear that any statements that we make on our website and database should be based on evidence that we can back up, whatever our presumptions or what we would like to believe or any statements by personal contacts or socio-political agenda that we bring with us. As I said above, I have not read this book yet but it is here waiting for a less busy time. However, I have read quite a number of his articles and know his approach pretty well.
The person who brings an evidential approach to the exchanges above is Steve Gardham. Interesting and well-argued thread, though, and 100+ posts without descending to insults is encouraging for Mudcat.


01 Oct 17 - 05:59 PM (#3879670)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

"THE LITTLE SHIRT MY MOTHER MADE FOR ME"
This song was written by Harry Wincott. It was recorded by music hall singers not long after it was written. Wincott was born in London on New Year's Day 1867. He wrote a number of songs that have had an enduring popularity including "The Old Dun Cow", "Mademoiselle from Armentières" and the one I give above. My dad (born in rural Oxfordshire in 1914) used to sing it frequently around the house and as a youngster it drove me mad, but he sang it so frequently that I learned it word for word by osmosis. When I started encouraging the old singers of Sussex to come to our folk club, I started to hear it again. George Belton might sing it next to "The Bold Fisherman". George Spicer might sing it next to "The Barley Mow" Spicer's tune was substantially the same as my dad's but he had an extra verse that Wincott did not write. Belton's tune and rhythm was noticeably different from the way my dad sang it. The words all three sang were different from the way it was written. Belton had an extra verse that Wincott did not write. Bradley Kincaid's version (recorded 1933) and Wilf Carter's (1942) brought it into circulation again but not as much as Marty Robbins' from 1983. For a while it became a Country music standard.
In sense that we know who wrote it this is not a folk song. However, it behaves like a folk song; it has entered the oral tradition; it changes and develops; in the Sussex versions it becomes localised in Brighton; the people who sing it have no idea who wrote it or where it came from.
Steve Roud has included the various changed versions of The Little Shirt Me Mother Made For Me that were collected by prominent and well-respected song collectors from highly regarded traditional singers in Sussex.
Some here will right that this is right; others will say that it is wrong. I wonder how much it matters.


01 Oct 17 - 07:41 PM (#3879678)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim, we've been through all of this before and you have deliberately misunderstood my comments exactly the same way numerous times"
We have been though this and I haven't deliberately misunderstood you Steve
After fifty off years involved with folk son I would have to be pretty stupid to deliberately misunderstand anything and I find it extremely insulting that you should suggest such a thing
You passede off the Irish songmakers as retired people scribbling down poems, broadside hacks as revolutionaries making songs for the people, seagiong and farmeroking hacks which enabled them to come to terms with the vernacular and the work practices, English workers having no time to make songs because of pressure of work...... a series of off the top of the head excuses to explain the anomalies.... not a single shred of evidence beyond earliest
I have no intention of getting into a slanging match with you, but please don't insult me by saying I deliberately did anything
Pat and I have carried out thirty years of work with English and Irish singers, some of them still part of a living tradition.
I have presented our findings as best I can - that is what our singers told us - the Clare singers, the Travellers Walter and others.
I have not attempted to link origins with the oral tradition, so why bring it up unless you wish to throw up another smokescreen?
If you make such a groundbreaking statement which contradicts all previous opinions and knowledge, you really do need to back it up with more than insults and dismissal - anybody who claims a love of the songs and those who gave them to us owe them at least that.
Where is your evidence that our songs were made by hacks " all commercial, in other words somebody was getting paid for their production,"
You once said our folksongs were no different than those put out by music industry - now that's what I call insulting
"I wonder how much it matters."
Quite a lot to those of us who wish to understand it Vic
Jim Carroll


02 Oct 17 - 03:49 AM (#3879711)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

I don't wish to extend this - I have made my position quite clear on the idea that our folk songs originated in print for money
I'll add a couple of points and leave it there for perhaps less acrimonious discussion
Steve mentioned Burns, who was collecting songs from unlettered Scots country people which he gave to James Johnson for publication in his 'Scots Musical Museum', the title of which declares the songs to be old
I dug out Mary Ellen Brown's 'Burns and the Tradition last night - this is her quote on Burns.

In a famous biographical letter to Dr Moore written after he had received acclaim as a poet, Burns described the influences he had come under when he was a boy and specifically mentions his mother and an old woman, loosely connected with the family, who provided him with an early stock of songs, tales, legends, beliefs, proverbs, and customs:

"In my infant and boyish days too, I owed much to an old Maid of my Mother's, remarkable for her ignorance, credulity and superstition. - She had, I suppose, the largest collection in the county of tales and songs concerning devils, ghosts, fairies, brownies, witches, warlocks, spunkies, kelpies, elf-candles, dead-lights, wraiths, apparitions, cantraips, giants, inchanted towers, dragons and other trumpery."

The oral artistic creations, cumulatively built and recreated, passed on from generation to generation, stable in general form but varied in individual performance, were his birthright and a natural and universal part of the general society in which he lived - where traditional custom, belief, and practice dominated and overt creativity and innovation were not sought. This traditionally oriented way of life and the oral artistic communications it supported and sustained played a far more signifi¬cant role in shaping and determining the directions of Burns' artistry than has been recognised.
Like all writers or creative artists, Burns was not an isolate; and he cannot be realistically divorced from the milieu in which he lived. He was a product of what had gone before and what was and his artistry often lay in uniquely blending, juxtaposing, or representing this. He was a part of a long tradition.

Steve had already conceded that the Bothie worker made songs by the hundreds unaided by printed versions - if them, why not other agricultural workers
I also dug out 'I have a Yong Suster', popular song and the Middle English Lyric, (Karin Boklund Lagopoulou, which examines song-making as far back as the 1300s and discusses at length oral composition in pre-literate Early England, comparing it to that common in Eastern Europe,.
My first clash with Steve was when he asked me disparagingly "do you believe that romantic rubbish" - not a good start to a sharing of ideas and experiences.
THere are a lot of us "romantics" about.
Time to mend fences perhaps
Jim Carroll


02 Oct 17 - 05:48 AM (#3879727)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

Jim wrote:
As our knowledge of the oral tradition onLy dates as far as the beginning of the twentieth century - anything before that is a guess and way out of the reach of definitive statements

This gap in our knowledge is one that Roud's book sets out to fill, using sources like John Clare - who, in a happy coincidence as far as this thread is concerned, wrote down a full version of The Demon Lover, as sung by his mother in the first half of the 18th century.


02 Oct 17 - 05:50 AM (#3879728)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

Reposting for clarity with italics corrected:

Jim wrote:
As our knowledge of the oral tradition onLy dates as far as the beginning of the twentieth century - anything before that is a guess and way out of the reach of definitive statements

This gap in our knowledge is one that Roud's book sets out to fill, using sources like John Clare - who, in a happy coincidence as far as this thread is concerned, wrote down a full version of The Demon Lover, as sung by his mother in the first half of the 18th century.


02 Oct 17 - 07:49 AM (#3879742)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>I have not attempted to link origins with the oral tradition,<<<<
>>>>>>THe term "folk" was devised by Thom to identify it's home-made common origins rather than stall-bought artifacts<<<<<<
>>>>>>he also rewrote quite a few songs in Burns' fashion<<<<<
02 Oct 17 - 07:51 AM (#3879743)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Oh dear, that's nothing like what I posted. I give up!


02 Oct 17 - 08:22 AM (#3879748)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Clare is one man talking about one song - you are talking about the entire repertoire
Jim Carroll


02 Oct 17 - 10:18 AM (#3879784)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

I have ordered this book.am looking forward to it. I have learned a lot on this thread and have enjoyed it until it became an argument..why DOES that happen ?


02 Oct 17 - 10:23 AM (#3879786)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

Contention


02 Oct 17 - 11:12 AM (#3879798)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

Clare is one man talking about one song - you are talking about the entire repertoire

There's more than one song in Clare's MSS if you care to sift through his poetic 'improvements'. But my point was that, although 18th / 19th C oral evidence is pretty scarce, at least Roud is trying to find it.


02 Oct 17 - 12:55 PM (#3879814)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"There's more than one song in Clare's MSS i"
I know that Brian, I was referring to Steve's 'Demon Lover'
I also know evidence is difficult to fing so we must make do with common sense and the little information we have
Burns was on the sport and described a creative oral tradition.
Karin Boklund Lagopoulou describes similar dating back as far as the 1300s - presumably she has done her research
Throughout my time in folksong, there has never been any question that "the folk" made their own sons - Steve's in a new one on me and all he offers are earliest publication dates
Child in the mis 19th century describes the songs as "popular and the broadsides as dunghills and he was on the spot at the time - I'll buy that
Even Catnach described them as country songs
The general level of broadside poeetry has always been described as 'Doggerel' - we have a large number, from Roxborough to Ashton and HollowaY AND Black, none of which hold a candle to our folk songs
If there's nothing else, the poof of the pudding will do for now
Jim Carroll


02 Oct 17 - 01:11 PM (#3879816)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Child assumed that most of the songs he anthologised had come directly from oral tradition and that is why he used the word 'popular'. However a large chunk of them came from broadsides either directly or indirectly. He included those he selected on stylistic grounds mainly. Of course no one disputes that the bulk of the material on street literature could be described as dunghills.

>>>The general level of broadside poetry has always been described as 'doggerel'<<< Mainly by literary people I would add. When you have studied hundreds of thousands of examples of street literature you will realise that the level of poetry , idiom and language are pretty much the same as folksong.....As I rode out...Come all ye....far more common on broadsides than in folk song. The only difference is that those that entered oral tradition were the ones of value to the people that have become shaped by the people.


02 Oct 17 - 02:08 PM (#3879832)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

And in Roxburghe, Ashton and Holloway and Black you will find versions of many folk songs, but unless you already know the folk songs they evolved into you would have great trouble picking them out from the rest.


02 Oct 17 - 02:28 PM (#3879840)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"And in Roxburghe, Ashton and Holloway and Black you will find versions of many folk songs"
You'll find some Steve, but they all are invariably broadside-type versions as unsingable as the rest, leaving me with the conclusion (everything else being taken into consideration) that theay are as likely as not to have ben taken from source singers rather than the other way round
If thye had been capable of making good songs there would be far more than there are
Child recognieed the ballad genre as "popular" (from the people) whether they appeared on broadside or not - print was all he had.
Bronso ices a far more overall view of the repertoire because he had access to field recordings - he always said he had enough for an additional volume
Jim Carroll


02 Oct 17 - 02:37 PM (#3879842)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>> but they all are invariably broadside-type versions as unsingable as the rest, leaving me with the conclusion (everything else being taken into consideration) that they are as likely as not to have been taken from source singers rather than the other way round<<<<< Am I reading this wrong or is it a contradiction?


03 Oct 17 - 03:38 AM (#3879946)
Subject: Lyr Add: GUM SHELLAC
From: Jim Carroll

Sorry Steve I had that the wrong way round, not you
I thumbed through Holloway and Black last night and found there to be very few songs that have entrered the tradition - a few that could have had they not been so ham-fisted
Ironically, the few that I know to have been sung around the revival were the ones taken up by singers usually disapproved of by academics - Bert had a couple and I spotted two sung bt Critics Group members
I'm off to hospital for a hip operation of Thursday so I'm only going to be able to take tis so far, so I'm going to cover some of the important bits of our findings - ignore me or indulge me
THe Irish Travellers were the first group we recorded in 1973 - they had a living tradition, a fairly large spread repertoire of native rural Irish, political, own-made songs with English and Scottish ones thrown in
It turns out from ours and Tom Munnelly's experiences that they were major players in singing and passing on Child ballads and they were the most important group to distribute songs by selling them at the fairs - almost exclusively a Traveller occupation
The first man we recorded was "Pop's" Johnny Connors, from Wexford
He came from a singing and musical family and was related to the piper, Johnny Doran
He was a Traveller activist, fighting for sites in England alongside Gratton Puxon - he had been imprisoned in Birmingham for his activities in the late sixties and it was there he first learned to read - he wrote an autobiographical piece that was included in Jeremy Sandford's 'Gypsies'
He had leeaned his songs largely from family members - his Uncle made songs about his trade of catching and skinning rabbits and selling them for their fur
His brother-in-law, Little Bill Cassidy, was one of the most stylish singers we ever recorded (I'm pretty sure Brian has heard Bill)
One of the earliest songs he sang for us was the Traveller version of Edward - 'What Put the Blood' - he called it 'Cain and Abel'
He introduced it with this remarkable statement:
"I'd say the song, myself, goes back to.... depicts Cain and Abel in the Bible and where Our Lord said to Cain.... I think this is where the Travellers Curse come from too, because Our Lord says to Cain, "Cain", says Our Lord, "you have slain your brother, and for this", says Our Lord, says he, "and for this, be a wanderer and a fugitive on the earth".
"Not so Lord" says he, "this punishment is too severe, and whoever finds me", says he, "will slay me, "says he "or harass me".
"Not so", says Our Lord, says he, "whoever finds Cain and punishes or slains (sic) Cain, I will punish them sevenfold".
And I think this is where the Travellers curse come from.
Anyway, the song depicts this, this er....
1 call it Cain and Abel anyway; there never was a name for the song, but that what I call it, you know, the depiction of Cain and Abel."

He described Travellers singing style at length, which he referred to as 'the Yawn':

(tune sung) That's the 'yawn' in the voice, dragged away, the yawn in the voice.
The 'yawn' is in the pipes, the uilleann pipes, which is among te oldest instruments among Travelling people, or among the world, is the pipes.
The breeding generation belonging to me, the Dorans, the Cashes, its all traditional musicians, this is in history.
Denis Turner Can you give us an example?
P J C. I gave you an example a few minutes ago, but I'll give it again.


The song he refers to he called 'The Green Shades of Yann' - an English language version of the Irish language The Brown Thorn An Droighneán Donn, which has been completely 'Travellerised' and set among the caravans and ponies rather than the usual rural setting.
Johnny was typical of the singers we questioned about their songs, knowledgeable, articulate and with strong opinions about them - not the passive "song birds" who learned songs from print and parroted what they'd heard uncritically - his main difference was that, up to a few yeears earlier ha=e was totally unable to read a word.
He also made songs, as did many Travellers na put stories to sme of them, like the description of a feud between two families, 'Poor Old Man' which can be heard on our CD 'From Puck ot Appleby'
His best song was a pride-filled evocation of the Travellers, Gum Shellac - here with note

Gum Shellac
(Roud 2508) 'Pop's' Johnny Connors, Wexford Traveller


We are the travelling people
Like the Picts or Beaker Folk,
The men in Whitehall thinks we're parasites
But tinker is the word.
With our gum shellac alay ra lo,
Move us on you boyoes.

All the jobs in the world we have done,
From making Pharaoh's coffins
To building Birmingham.
With our gum shellac ala lay sha la,
Wallop it out you heroes.

We have mended pots and kettles
And buckets for Lord Cornwall,
But before we'd leave his house me lads,
We would mind his woman and all.
With our gum shellac alay ra la,
Wallop it out me hero.

Well I have a little woman
And a mother she is to be,
She gets her basket on her arm,
And mooches the hills for me.
With our gum shellac alay ra la,
Wallop it out me hero.

Dowdled verse.

We fought the Romans,
The Spanish and the Danes,
We fought against the dirty Black and Tans
And knocked Cromwell to his knees.
With our gum shellac alay ra la,
Wallop it out me heroes.

Well, we're married these twenty years,
Nineteen children we have got.
Ah sure, one is hardly walking
When there's another one in the cot.
Over our gum shellac alay ra lo,
Get out of that you boyoes.

We have made cannon guns in Hungary,
Bronze cannons in the years BC
We have fought and died for Ireland
To make sure that she was free.
With a gum shellac ala lay sha la,
Wallop it out me heroes.

We can sing a song or dance a reel
No matter where we roam,
We have learned the Emperor Nero
How to play the pipes
Way back in the days of Rome.
With our gum shellac ala lay sha la,
Whack it if you can me boyoes.

Dowdled verse.

Note
'Pop's' Johnny Connors, the singer of this song, is also the composer. He was an activist in the movement for better conditions for Travellers in the 1960s and was a partici¬pant in the Brownhills eviction, about which he made the song, The Battle of Brownhills, which tells of an unofficial eviction in the Birmingham area which led to the death of two Traveller children. An account of part of his experiences on the road is to be found in Jeremy Sandford's book Gypsies under the heading, Seven Weeks of Childhood. This was written while Johnny was serving a prison sentence in Winson Green Prison in the English Midlands. He said that further chapters of an intended biography were confiscated by the prison authorities and never returned to him on his release.
Gum shellac is a paste formed by chewing bread, a technique used by unscrupulous tinsmiths to supposedly repair leaks in pots and pans. When polished, it gives the ap¬pearance of a proper repair but, if the vessel is filled with water, the paste quickly disintegrates, giving the perpetrator of the trick just enough time to escape with his payment.

I've taken too long over this, but I think it important in the context of how I believe a living tradition worked - gathering, singing, passing on old songs and making new ones
I know this happened in Ireland, but she is our nearest neighbour and has been influenced by us for 8 centuries ? I see no reason why we can't take what happened here as a guide for what could well have happened in the English countryside
Jim Carroll


03 Oct 17 - 04:25 AM (#3879956)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

His brother-in-law, Little Bill Cassidy, was one of the most stylish singers we ever recorded (I'm pretty sure Brian has heard Bill)

Indeed I have (recordings, anyway), and indeed he was!

Fascinating account, Jim.


03 Oct 17 - 06:01 AM (#3879985)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

I have been reading and thoroughly enjoying Martin Graebe's book on Rev, Sabine Baring-Gould, As I Roved Out [Signal, Oxford. ISBN 978-1-909930-53-7]. It is clearly the work of long meticulous research and is well written, based on evidence and devoid of speculation. If Martin has not found evidence for what aspects of what he has uncovered in his study of letters, manuscripts by and about this pivotal figure of the beginnings of the first revival then he states these clearly.
Just now, on page 165, I came across this paragraph that really stood out for me and I had to read it several times. It has direct relevance to the exchanges on this thread about the origins of folk song. Martin quotes a letter that Baring-Gould wrote to Lucy Broadwood from Lew Trenchard on 21st May 1891. He writes:-


03 Oct 17 - 06:24 AM (#3879987)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

(Continued from previous post sent in error)

I have no great opinion about the words of many of our Folk Songs. I find most of them (not all) are to be detected in Broadsides. Of these I have 5 thick vols. and I have gone through all the vols. in the Brit. Mus. They are coarse, vulgar things and void of poetry, but I find that the traditional versions are almost invariably better than the broadside versions.


Baring-Gould writing this 120 years ago seems to accord with modern evidence-based research findings that most of our songs started off in the broadsides but it was the ones that were taken up by the singers and entered into the oral tradition that they became shaped and rounded and became more expressive and voiced in the common tongue. Songs were altered consciously or unconsciously and most regularly improved from the printed broadside version. Additions were made to and parodies made of the original. Sets of words were sung to different melodies that suited the voice and taste of the singer. The huge creativity of the traditional singers found much more expression in the adaptation, development & improvement of existing pieces rather than the making of new pieces. Not that this did not happen as Jim has eloquently given an example above,


03 Oct 17 - 06:38 AM (#3879990)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

C'mon Vic - it's like waiting for the other shoe to drop
Wail I'm waiting, perhaps I might proffer a possible scenario for traditional songs on broadsided
I Writer bases himself in a pub that is frequented by countrymen in for the markets, or Merchant seamen, or fishermen, or soldiers and either sits in on singing sessions, roughly scribbling down plots, some words, a verse to give a form - enough to make a full song - then takes what he has off and makes a song of it to suit the tastes of his customers
Only a guess, but so is everything else so far
I've always been fascinated with David Buchan's theory of their being bo set ballad texts, just plots and commonplaces - I don't think he presented his case too well, but I think it possible
I watched MacColl as he grew old and began to forget words, but I never once saw him dry up - he was so familiar with the stories of his songs as to make up the memory gaps as he went along
As a MacColl buff I was familiar enough to notce when he did this - a coupple of times either he or Peggy caught my eye and acknowledged that I'd noticed
This is what many singers did
If I get time later, I'll describe the two examples we have of how songs were made, along with the songs   
"Fascinating account, Jim"
Thank's Brian, there really plenty mor where that came from
Jim


03 Oct 17 - 06:50 AM (#3879993)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" adaptation, development & improvement"
I totally disagree with this Vic -at least until it is backed up with documented evidence rather than opinions
Baring Gould, Sharp, et al were working when the tradition was in sharp decline and there in so record whatever of them treating collecting songs as artifacts, the way a butterfly collector regards his trophies.
Sharp came the nearest with 'Conclusions' and there are a couple of nice quotes in Fox-Strangways to suggest that he felt a warmth for some of his informants, but one of the greatest holes in our knowledge is the lack of an input by the singers.
I'm afraid thisis beginning to feel like a return to the 'free as Bird Song era'
This is one of the most offensive statements I have ever come across from someone who really should have known better, a note to Lake of Col Fin from "the Vermont collection, New Green Mountain Songster by Phillips Barry in 1939:

"Popular tradition, however, does not mean popular origin. In the case of our ballad, the underlying folklore is Irish de facto, but not de-jure: the ballad is of Oriental and literary origin, and has sunk to the level of the folk which has the keeping of folklore. To put it in a single phrase, memory not invention is the function of the folk".   
JIm Carroll


03 Oct 17 - 07:07 AM (#3879997)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

I totally disagree with this Vic -at least until it is backed up with documented evidence rather than opinions.

Then we will have to leave it, Jim. You are surrounded, here and in many books and articles, by massive amounts of evidence that, as you quote, "Popular tradition, however, does not mean popular origin" but you won't be moved, so further discussion would be pointless.


03 Oct 17 - 08:51 AM (#3880014)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

There is no "massive evidence" - only academic argument - we don't now how the songs were made or who made them, but personal experience has proved to me that 'the folk' - even those from the lowest regarded section of society, were well capable of making songs
These songs were made and sung as entertainment, just as Barbara Cartland and Charles Dickens wrote their books to entertain - two ends of a literary spectrum - at one end masses of social history and insight into the human condition, at the other, pink froth
One of the things that has been largely ignored about our folksongs is the social history they carry
If I want to know about the nuts and bolts of the Battle of the Nile, I go to the military records and scholarly studies of the subject
If I want to know how it felt for a ploughboy or weaver or land labourer to be conned into the army, stuck in a uniform, given a gun and thrust into the midst of a bloody battle, I go to the songs
Why on earth should a hack concern himself on such matters - it's not as if he was writing for a revolutionary anti-war rural or urban population who were lapping up such tragedies?
Same with all those social misalliance songs - what profit was there writing about some girl whining because her old man wouldn't let her marry the hired help?
These songs carry a feel of knowledge and emotion that reflects personal experience, expressed in a vernacular that rings of reality
I find it very easy to separate a genuine Irish song from an 'Oirish' one created by a hack
Harry Cox once sang 'Betsy the Serving Maid for MacColl and Lomax - when he finished he spat out "and that's how they thought of us" - that's what I call involvement in your art
When he sang Van Diemans Land he launched into a diatribe about the land seizures and Enclosures - again, identification that goes way beyond entertainment.
These songs became "ours" wherever they were sung - very few writers or poets have ever achieved that level of communication
If there is "masses amounts of evidence" - where is it - so far we have only the opinions of researchers and academics - outsiders all
Apart from everything else, these songs were circulated and being referred to centuries before we had universal literacy
People tend to forget that first performances of Hamlet and King Lear were being performed to the sweepings of the London streets - as late as the early twentieth century the 'Fit Ups and Travelling theatres were taking the same plays around to Irish villages in the areshole of nowhere for the delectation of small farmers and land labourers - the dumbing down of our society has a lot to answer for
Jim Carroll


03 Oct 17 - 09:35 AM (#3880023)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Jim says
Harry Cox once sang 'Betsy the Serving Maid for MacColl and Lomax - when he finished he spat out "and that's how they thought of us" - that's what I call involvement in your art.

... and Vic reminds Jim that on his own admission, Harry learned nearly all of his songs from broadsides which were kept in a box on top of the wardrobe in his bedroom and that the songs were changed in his handling of them (which might be a fact that is more relevant to the discussion).

I'm afraid that I feel that Jim's long posts do not serve to clarify anything about the facts of the origins of the songs and his unwillingness to concede a single point that others have made here makes these interactions futile. I respect Jim's great knowledge and his huge contribution but cannot abide his dogmatism. It makes me feel that discussions with him are of the order of What Came First - the chicken or the egg? where looking into the faults inherent in the question are not addressed.
So, no more from me on this one.


03 Oct 17 - 10:06 AM (#3880028)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Bob THomson interviewed Harrry Cox extensively and pasted up all his broadsides in the late sixties
Harry collected them but told Bob he learned very few of his songs from them - I have no evidence of the varacity of that claim
It's not true that he learned all his songs from them anyway - Harry and his brother both learned songs locally and from family members
Even if he doid, it takes us no nearer to where the songs originated
in the end it boil;s down to one single fact Vic - if rural workers were capable of making songs they most certainly did - there is no reason to believe the traditional repertoire didn't come from that source and every reason to believe that it didn't
That is not dogmatic,0 but I'm afraid a continual insistence on something on which you have and can have no evidence is
"Bring your witness luv and I'll never deny you"
Jim Carroll


03 Oct 17 - 11:10 AM (#3880041)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to continue this - off to hospital on Thursday for a new hip and I'll be out of your hair for a week - so I'll put my important bits up now.
There is an over-riding feature of all this
Since I first came into folk-song, the full accepted idea was that 'The Folk' made their songs (some argument about the ballads, but little else)
My friend, Bob Thomson introduced me to the idea that many of them had appeared on broadsides, but he never made claims of authorship to my recollection.
My view of folk song was summed up perfectly by MacColl's extremely moving final statement in the Song Carriers series:

"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"


When I put this up in a discussion, Steve G's response was "do you believe that romantic rubbish?" - well, yes I did, and still do and will continue to until contrary evidence is produced - the songs are to me, 'The Voice of the People'
Working people have always been regarded as having no creative culture of their own part from their songs, music and tales - Steve's "broadside creations" theory is very much a new kid on the block
The consequences for his claim are socially and culturally enormous - for people like me, catastrophic.
If we are going to take away the claim of ownership of working people and leave them totally devoid of cultural creation we're are going to have to be damn sure we have got it right
Jim Carroll


03 Oct 17 - 11:31 AM (#3880048)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Jim wrote:-
Don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to continue this - off to hospital on Thursday for a new hip

I hope the operation is a great success, Jim and that you recover greater mobility and freedom for pain. Tina has had both her hips replaced in recent years and after following a subsequent rigid exercise routine, the quality of her life has been greatly improved. I hope it is the same for you.


03 Oct 17 - 12:06 PM (#3880054)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

I'm sure it will be Vic - thanks - it's my second, the other one was a new life
I'll be happier if they remember the headphones this time - I'm not sure I can handle, "hand me that nail nurse" again!!
Jim


03 Oct 17 - 12:16 PM (#3880059)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Jim,
My very best wishes for you and your new hip.

I have told you on many occasions how much great respect I have for you and your work. We are I am sure all of us united in our love for traditional music. The origins are pretty much irrelevant to this. The ownership comes from adoption and re-creation. Let us dwell on this.

BTW Johnny Doran is one of my favourite all-time pipers.


03 Oct 17 - 01:13 PM (#3880067)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Let us dwell on this."
Sory Steve - to important to avoid this
Are you seriously suggesting we should let the only creative activity attributable to working people slip away from us without a debate
You made the statement ? - back it up with facts or withdraw it
Johnny was wonderful - we once had to pull his large extremely brother (appropriately nicknamed "Thump") down into his chair in a pub to stop him weighing into a bunch of local yobs who were pissing through a pub window and giving the very young barmaid a hard time
Jim


03 Oct 17 - 01:51 PM (#3880070)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Ed

Jim,

Whilst I don't have the knowledge and experience in this field that you and other recent contributors to this thread have, I find the comment in your last post quite perplexing.

Unless I'm completely missing the point, you appear to be suggesting that: 'folk song' is the only creative activity attributable to working people. That is patently absurd. What did you mean?


03 Oct 17 - 02:16 PM (#3880071)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>- back it up with facts or withdraw it.<<<<<

That's absurd, Jim, and you must know it. Your own standpoint that the songs were created by ploughboys and dairymaids, nymphs and shepherds, can you back this up with one shred of evidence when applied to published English traditional song? The last time you attempted this one of them turned out to be an American whaling song adapted by Bert!


03 Oct 17 - 03:02 PM (#3880077)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE QUILTY BURNING
From: Jim Carroll

"can you back this up with one shred of evidence when applied to published English traditional song?"
Of course I can't, and your "ploughboys and dairymaids, nymphs and shepherds" is somewhat disingenuous - I never mantioned any of those - try, Travellers rural workers and village carpenters and you might be neareer
the mark - you've never really dropped your "romantic nonsense" insult, have you?
my point was, is, and will remain that it is highly likely that these songs were possibly made by the rural working class - I've produced evidence that backs up that likelihood - where's yours?
My mistake regarding Bert's adaptation was down to the fact that I was taken in by a skilful folkie - That's not going to happen again, certainly not here.

This is a song we recorded from aan elderly Clare man livinbg in Deptford, South East London, he came from a mile or so from here in West Clare but had lived in England singe 1946
Mikey was essentially a dancer - one of the best in the area; he as also a repository of short tales, including a 'yarn' version of The Bishop of Canterbury and a tale called 'The Merchant and the Fiddler's Wife' which appeared in Durfey' Pills as a song which I have never found another version of anywhere else - certainly not in the oral tradition - the si=ung verse is almost identical to Durfey's
I think the not gives most of the background except that the four men who made the song stood at the crossroads a few days after the incident and threw verses at one another until they came up with the full song
We've traved relaatives to everybody mentioned in the song
Jim Carroll

The Quilty Burning.

Mikey Kelleher (originally from Quilty)

Oh the burning of Quilty, you all know it well;
When the barrack took fire where the peelers did dwell.
The flames bursted out, sure it was a great sight;
There were women and children out there all night.

Michael Dwyer, sure, he got a great fright.
He called on his wife for to rescue his life.
His daughter ran out and she roaring, "ovoe,
Blessed light, blessed light, keep away from our door".

Then Micho Kenny, looked out through the glass,
And he saw Patsy Scully outside at the Cross.
"Oh Patsy, Oh Patsy, take out the poor ass,
For the whole blessed place it is all in a mass".

Michael Dwyer, he came down on the scene;
He ran down to the cross and called up Jack Cuneen.
"My house will be burned before 'twill be seen,
And my fool of a son is above in Rineen".

Then Paddy Shannon thrown out his old rags;
He stuck his poor missus into the bag.
"The burning, the burning, it started too soon;
'Twill be burning all night until next afternoon".

Then Paddy Healy came out in the flames;
He could see nobody there but the peelers he'll blame.
He went into Tom Clancy and told him the same.
"By damned", said Tom Clancy, "'tis now we want rain".

Father McGannon came down to the gate;
He says to the boys, "there's an awful disgrace;
For this old barracks is an awful state;
It's no harm to be banished and gone out the place".

Now to conclude and to finish my song;
I hope you'll all tell me my verses is wrong,
For this old barracks is no harm to be gone,
For many the poor fellow was shoved in there wrong.

(Spoken) "I suppose there was an' all".

The incident, that gave rise to this song, now apparently forgotten, took place around 1920, when the Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks at Quilty, a fishing village a few miles south of Miltown Malbay, was set alight by Republicans. Mikey appears to be the only person to remember the song and told us that he recalls it being made by a group of local men shortly after the event.
We have been able to get only very little information about either the song or the incident, apart from the fact that the 'Father McGannon' in the 7th verse was not a priest, but was the nickname of a local man.
We once played this to a friend, the late John Joe Healy, a fiddle player from Quilty, who said of the Paddy Healy in verse 6; "that's my father he's singing about".

The Quilty Burning.
Mikey Kelleher (originally from Quilty)

Oh the burning of Quilty, you all know it well;
When the barrack took fire where the peelers did dwell.
The flames bursted out, sure it was a great sight;
There were women and children out there all night.

Michael Dwyer, sure, he got a great fright.
He called on his wife for to rescue his life.
His daughter ran out and she roaring, "ovoe,
Blessed light, blessed light, keep away from our door".

Then Micho Kenny, looked out through the glass,
And he saw Patsy Scully outside at the Cross.
"Oh Patsy, Oh Patsy, take out the poor ass,
For the whole blessed place it is all in a mass".

Michael Dwyer, he came down on the scene;
He ran down to the cross and called up Jack Cuneen.
"My house will be burned before 'twill be seen,
And my fool of a son is above in Rineen".

Then Paddy Shannon thrown out his old rags;
He stuck his poor missus into the bag.
"The burning, the burning, it started too soon;
'Twill be burning all night until next afternoon".

Then Paddy Healy came out in the flames;
He could see nobody there but the peelers he'll blame.
He went into Tom Clancy and told him the same.
"By damned", said Tom Clancy, "'tis now we want rain".

Father McGannon came down to the gate;
He says to the boys, "there's an awful disgrace;
For this old barracks is an awful state;
It's no harm to be banished and gone out the place".

Now to conclude and to finish my song;
I hope you'll all tell me my verses is wrong,
For this old barracks is no harm to be gone,
For many the poor fellow was shoved in there wrong.

(Spoken) "I suppose there was an' all".

The incident, that gave rise to this song, now apparently forgotten, took place around 1920, when the Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks at Quilty, a fishing village a few miles south of Miltown Malbay, was set alight by Republicans. Mikey appears to be the only person to remember the song and told us that he recalls it being made by a group of local men shortly after the event.
We have been able to get only very little information about either the song or the incident, apart from the fact that the 'Father McGannon' in the 7th verse was not a priest, but was the nickname of a local man.
We once played this to a friend, the late John Joe Healy, a fiddle player from Quilty, who said of the Paddy Healy in verse 6; "that's my father he's singing about".


03 Oct 17 - 03:15 PM (#3880080)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

I'm sorry, Jim, but none of this has any relevance to the published corpus of English folk song, interesting though it is.


03 Oct 17 - 05:04 PM (#3880094)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Ed

Any answer to my question, Jim?


03 Oct 17 - 05:24 PM (#3880098)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" the only creative activity attributable to working people."
THat has always been the point of view of teh establishment - maybe I should have said 'artistic creative activity representing their own lives and experiences)
What did you have in mind?
Jim Carroll


03 Oct 17 - 05:27 PM (#3880099)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Sorry Ed - should have apologised - didn't see your message earlier
Jim Carroll


03 Oct 17 - 07:41 PM (#3880115)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Nick Dow

I just want to add some of my own experiences to this debate, with the greatest respect to the scholars above. To do this I am going to have to write about myself, so I'll make it quick and try not to be too dramatic.
The point I want to make is very simple. I do not know what a Folk Song is, but I certainly know what it isn't. There has been a lot of talk about evidence and the only evidence I have is the life I have lived. I left home at 17 and for the most part have been living on my wits ever since. At one time I was playing music in the street to survive, I have travelled round the West country, sleeping under hedges, busking to get enough for food for the next day. Yes of course I make money from Folk Songs but I don't think that demeans the art in any way. I fell in with the Gypsies decades ago learning their Art, songs and lifestyle first hand, and was taught how to earn a living with the streangth in my hands and what ever is between my ears, living half in a house and a trailer, and I married a Romany Gypsy lass.
When it comes to songs and singing the relevance of a song has to be measured against the life of the singers who hear it. If it passes that test, weather it be printed on a Broadsheet 250 years ago or composed last week, it will be sung as an expression of that experience. It doesn't mean it's somehow better or worse for that, but it does mean it may be viewed as relevant to that huge mass of musical excellence we call Folk Song. My best freinds wife (a Romany) sat me down and taught me 'The Tanyard side' face to face as she was taught by her Mother. My singing teacher and freind the late Bill House taught me how to sit, how to breath and how to project a song as he taught me 'One night as I lay on my bed' as his father taught him when Bill was six years old in 1906, the same year as his father sang it to the Hammond Brothers.
So yes-I know a folksong when I hear it, whatever it's background. It's a simple emotional recognition, that will capture your attention, make you smile in appreciation, or shake your head in sympathy. That, I believe is where in begins and ends, and it matters not how many arguments are raised for and against any academic point. Folk Song differs from other music as night does to day wrote Bert Lloyd, but when does day become or night become day? The answer is when ever you decide.
That said I still intend buying and reading the book.
kind regards
Nick


04 Oct 17 - 03:53 AM (#3880137)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Thanks for that contribution, Nick. I feel very honoured to have worked with you and hope our paths cross again.

I think both Jim and I and others on this forum would agree completely with your viewpoint.


04 Oct 17 - 04:18 AM (#3880141)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: r.padgett

Yes Folk song is the expression of life and life experience in all its glory and the feelings expressed by the singer in its singing

I have heard many singers who know all the words and many, some of the younger singer too who have all the musical accompaniment but simply in my mind lack the true empathy in the song

That is the essence of folk song: ~ the words sung more often than not unaccompanied ~ and I read somewhere that songs become part of the singer they are carried by the singer and performance will and can change in "how" the singer is able to carry the empathy on that occasion ~ many factors will of course influence that (beer, age of singer, state of health etc

Yes slightly off topic ~ but the original song composition and its worth in the "society" it was created (no idea when or by whom) even if it were a Broadside, Music hall song or newly created at the time has no relevance ~ if the singer understands the underlying empathy then his performance is paramount

Ray


04 Oct 17 - 04:18 AM (#3880142)
Subject: Lyr Add: PADDY MCINERNEY
From: Jim Carroll

"I'm sorry, Jim, but none of this has any relevance to the published corpus of English folk song, interesting though it is."
And the folk songs that appeared on broadsides have no relevance to the origin of our folk song in m opinion, interesting though they are

Nick Dow
Thanks for your fascinating contribution ? a couple of things you wrote should be framed and hung up on the wall of everybody with a serious interest in and love of folk song
The problem with folk song academic research is that it goes in fashions and is discarded for new models like old shoes
In 1909, American researcher Francis Gummere (The Popular Ballad) came up with the idea of 'communal composition', that some of our folk songs were made by groups rather than individuals.
That fell out of fashion and is now pooh-poohed by the in crowd
Taking definitive stances, which I think is what we are arguing about here, will guarantee our remaining ignorant about probably one of the most neglected and rejected aspects of our culture 'The songs of the People'
The song I put up above, 'The Quilty Burning' was composed by four anonymous men; the one below was made on the morning of a wedding by a group of Traveller lads sitting on a grassy bank outside the church on the day of the wedding humourously predicting how the marriage taking place would end up
We recorded about half dozen versions of this, each time we were told to be careful who we played it to, which is why we have never used it.
The couple were still living back then and the singers didn't wish to embarrass them ? blind singer, Mary Delaney told us laughing, "Paddy's my cousin and he'd murder me if he found I'd sung it to you"
The song deals with 'made matches' a marriage done through a matchmaker ? such songs are to be found throughout the oral tradition ? some about willing marriages, but most about enforced ones
The woman in the song was chosen because of her skill at one of the traditional Traveller trades, buying, cleaning and re-selling old feather matresses
We got the background of the song from our friend, Kerry Traveller, Mikeen McCarthy, who was at the wedding. And witnessed the song being made
All the singers and the couple are now dead
Tom Munnelly recorded a version sung by John Reilly (of Well Below the Valley fame); it can be heard on Topic Album, 'Bonny Green Tree' - John called the groom, Bold William Delaney', possibly to save him embarrassment

Paddy McInerney
My name is young Paddy McInerney,
And a brave County Down lad I been,
In the search of a wife I came travelling,
Till I came to old Butterfin (sic) Town.

Now the first man I met was Red Danny,
And then he start talking to me,
He invited me up to the waggon,
And 'twas brandy he ordered for me.

The first thing he drew down was the dealing
And the next was Doll Julia to me,
He was bragging and boasting what a hawker,
Round the green hills of old Cahermee

The first month I married her, 'twas lovely,
And the second, we could not agree,
And the third one she wore on the trousers
And she then came the boss over me.

Now all ye young men and fair maidens,
A warning let ye take by me,
Be never bought by a piebald or a waggon,
Just like I was in old Cahermee.

I have more to say about 'The Quilty Burning' and the significance of such songs to the folk song repertoire ? I included it in this posting at some length but lost the ******* posting
On second thoughts, perhaps it's just as well as it was far too long anyway
Im Carroll


04 Oct 17 - 06:58 AM (#3880173)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

I'm disappointed that a lot of the recent additions to this thread have been yet another re-run of the argument about origins.

Setting aside for a moment songs of more recent origin, such as in the music halls, and focussing on the songs that the early collectors accepted as being proper "folk" songs, Baring-Gould (thank you Vic 03 Oct 17 - 06:24 AM and Martin) already observed that most of them existed in broadsides. Another hundred-odd years of evidence confirm that the earliest known versions of most of them are in broadsides or other print.

Steve G and others believe that in most cases those printed version were the originals, although some may have been taken from already existing oral versions. Jim believes it's the other way round, basing his belief partly on internal evidence in the songs that the people who made them had first hand experience of their subjects, and partly on documented instances of song writing by "the folk" in recent times.

Isn't it time to agree to disagree about that (at least in this particular thread) and focus our attention on the songs' subsequent propagation and evolution?

Steve Roud maintains that what makes a song a folk song is not where it started but what people do with it. Vic's 01 Oct 17 - 05:59 PM post about "The Little Shirt My Mother Made For Me" is a beautiful illustration of that. (Opinions about the aesthetic worth of that particular song are a separate matter entirely. The same processes have been at work on all sorts of songs, from dirty doggerel to big ballads.)


04 Oct 17 - 07:12 AM (#3880174)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Isn't it time to agree to disagree about that"
Steve's claim on makes that totally impossible Richard - it would make the singers of these claims of composition totally out of the question if virtually all had originated in print
To Understand the importance of these songs to our history and culture it is essential to work out who made them and why they were made - hack made songs for money cast an entirely different light on that understanding
The common acceptance has been that they were mostly made by the people they were about - Steve still passes that off as romantic nonsense
It may not be important to a singer, but the importance of these song transcends that
I'l continue with this until it's settled one way or the other - sorry - too much of an issue for me
Jim Carroll


04 Oct 17 - 07:38 AM (#3880177)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Can I jus say here that throughout my time on Mudcat I have regarded it as ludicrous that it is virtually impossible to discuss vital subject such as folk song definitions and MacColl without them ending in acrimony and name calling
Please don't make this yet another no-go area
We are all adults and if we are not capable of behaving as such with serious, if contentious subjects we may as well settle down comfortably in our armchairs with The Readers Digest
Jim Carroll


04 Oct 17 - 08:44 AM (#3880185)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton

I've now jumped ahead, in reading the book, to 'Folk Song In Its Natural Habitat', the book's Part 3. (I promise to go back and read Part 2 later!) I'm finding part 3 a much speedier read, partly because it is more unequivocally folk-song related, rather than shading off into folk's porous boundaries with other music.

I do feel, overall, that Roud's book is (at least) two books rather than one. And that an analogous specialist writing in another discipline (say, a history of World War II, or a history of European painting, or a history of French jazz) would not have needed an equivalent to the 219 pages that make up Part 1: these can be loosely summarised as 'what is a folk song?'; and 'who collected the folk songs and how?'. Roud does have a habit of saying things like "of course, a history of folk song collection is not a history of folk song" (I'm paraphrasing from memory here), before giving us a near-book-length history of folk song collection. Or stating, that the Revival is beyond the book's remit, but then giving us a 17-page history of the Revival. I think if I'd started the book with Part 2, read onto Part 3, and then regarded Part 1 as a kind of appendix, I'd probably have finished reading it by now and found it a smoother read. Everything in the book is interesting, but I'm not sure it all needs to be in the same book.


04 Oct 17 - 10:45 AM (#3880203)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Why is folk song definition so VITAL?

If I hear a song and enjoy it I will probably want to learn it and sing it no matter what it's origin. I am interested to know where it came from if that is known yes, but if it's origins are lost in the annals of time so what. I will still enjoy it.

Songs are to be sung,waffling on incessantly about their possible origin
is time wasted.


04 Oct 17 - 11:13 AM (#3880212)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin

an analogous specialist writing in another discipline (say, a history of World War II, or a history of European painting, or a history of French jazz) would not have needed an equivalent to the 219 pages that make up Part 1: these can be loosely summarised as 'what is a folk song?'; and 'who collected the folk songs and how?'.

Sometimes they do. Books on the Crusades have a problem that they were mostly fought by people, on all sides, who had no label for what was going on - the modern idea of a "crusade" came along after it was all over. And books on the wars of the 20th century could certainly do with a recognition that both WW1 and WW2 started before they were declared and continued long after they officially finished, involving people who weren't recognized as combatants by any diplomatic protocol.


04 Oct 17 - 11:24 AM (#3880216)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Songs are to be sung,waffling on incessantly about their possible origin"
Only to those who can't see beyond their own personal interests Hoot
Go count how many books there are on Shakespeare, despite the fact that his plays were only there to be acted - take every aspect of music, literature, art... throughout our entire history and come back and tell me that this doen't apply equally - even pop music
It's good to reminded of why MacColl broke with Ballads and Blues and formed a club for the genuine lovers of The Songs of the People in all its aspects
Jim Carroll


04 Oct 17 - 11:37 AM (#3880221)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton

"books on the wars of the 20th century could certainly do with a recognition that both WW1 and WW2 started before they were declared and continued long after they officially finished, involving people who weren't recognized as combatants by any diplomatic protocol"

Yes, but that's not really the equivalent. Have you ever read a book on World War II that dedicated a chapter to asking the question "what is a war?", before going on to provide 200 pages of potted history of other historians who've written about World War II?


04 Oct 17 - 12:09 PM (#3880226)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE COLD MAN BY NIGHT + THE BOBBED HAIR
From: Jim Carroll

I've only got the rest of today before I drop out of this for a week or so, so I'll make the point I tried to this morning
'The Quilty Burning' represents an important period of Irish history, the period between the Easter rising and the signing of the Treaty, 1916 to 1922
Those six years produced thousands of Irish folk songs on the War of Independence, some made as deliberate propaganda pieces, but the majority were the reactions of 'ordinary' people to the events that were taking place
These latter sprang up in every County in Ireland, made by locals, accepted for a time and mainly disappearing when the events that inspired them faded from memory.
They are proof positive that farm workers, labourers, trades men and women, fishermen, even children, were capable of making songs on any subject that took their interest.
The only differences between Ireland and Britain was firstly, that Ireland still had a thriving singing tradition at the time providing a suitable matrix for making songs, also Irish history, especially since the Famine, provided a mass of subjects to inspire, even demand new songs.
Terry Moylan's huge book, 'The Indignant Muse', contains many of these locally made songs and his researches uncovered many more he was unable to use.
Politics wasn't the only subject of course ? I put up a Travellers song on 'made matches' that has never seen the light of day.
This is a Clare song on a similar theme made well about ten miles from the singer, Matin Long's home ? this one never made it into print either and the author is also unknown.

That Cold Man by Night.   Martin Long, Tooreen, Inagh, Recorded July 1975
I am a handsome comely maid; my age is scarce eighteen,
I am the only daughter of a farmer near Crusheen,
'Tis married I intend to be before its winning daylight,
Oh, my father wants me to get wed to a cold man by night.

This man being old, as I am told, his years are sixty-four,
I really mean to slight him, for he being wed before,
His common shoes are always loose, and his clothes don't fit him right,
Oh I don't intend the wife to be of that cold man by night.

The very next day without delay they all rode into town,
To a learned man they quickly ran the contract to pin down;
Into an inn they did call in to whet their whistles nigh,
In hope that I would live and die with that cold man by night.

My father came, I did him blame and thus to him did say,
"Oh father dear, you acted queer in what you done today,
In the Shannon deep I'll go and sleep, before the mornings light,
Before I'll agree the wife to be of that cold man by night".

"Oh daughter dear, don't say no more, or be a foolish lass,
For he has a house and four good cows, and a sporting fine black ass,
He has a handsome feather bed where ye may rest by night,
So change your life and be the wife of that cold man by night".

"Oh father dear, don't say no more, for I'll tell you the reason why,
Before I'll agree the wife to be, I'd first lay down and die,
In the Shannon deep I'll go and sleep before the mornings light,
Before I'll consent to be content with that cold man by night.

My match is broke, without a joke, I'll marry if I can,
Before (???) is over I'll have a nice young man,
That will take me in his arms in a cold and frosty night,
And some other dame might do the same with that cold man by night.

The practice of young women being pressurised or even forced into arranged marriages of convenience to older men has inspired many songs throughout these islands; sometimes depicting the tragedy or resigned bitterness of the situation the woman finds herself in, but occasionally, as with this one, open defiance, with a touch of humour.
This appears to be a locally-made song; we have been unable to find another example of it outside Clare.
Particularly interesting is the description of the visit to the matchmaker (the "learned man") and the celebratory ceremony to seal the 'made match'.

And another on the equally popular subject of changing fashions, from Tom Lenihan of Miltown Malbay, which must have been made when Tom was in his twenties
The action of the song takes place a few miles from where the 'Cold Man by Night originated

The Bobbed Hair (Roud 3077)
Tom Lenihan Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay Recorded 1976
Carroll Mackenzie Collection

I feel depressed and sad tonight, my heart is filled with woe,
Since I met my Biddy darling when we parted long ago.
I remember when we parted how the sun came shining down
On that fair and handsome creature and her lovely locks of brown.

When I met her I was horrified, I could not understand
What made her locks so ugly now that once was sweet and grand.
I gazed in silent wonder, yes, I looked and looked again;
My heart near burst asunder when I found she had bobbed her hair.

I said: 'Biddy dear, what happened you, that you looked so neat and trim
The night we kissed and parted in the road near Corofin?'
I asked why she had shorn her locks, she smiled and made a bow,
And the answer that she made was: 'Tis all the fashion now.'

Ah, to see my darling's hair, too, it was a lovely sight,
And although 'tis hard to make me cry, I shed some tears that night.
Before we left I asked her how this bobbing first began,
'Some years ago,' she said, 'you know, 'twas done by Black and Tans!'

Farewell, dear Bid, I'm clear fed up, there is no bobbed hair for me.
Our partnership we must dissolve, I'm horrified to see,
The locks that nature gave to thee, oh, just for fashion's sake
Clipped off, and now you neck is bare, like Paddy McGinty's drake.

Of course I know the times have changed, but I'll allow for that,
And shingled hair looks horrible beneath a nice new hat.
And why don't fashions doff the shawl our grannys used to wear?
Some has done it still and always will but they have not bobbed their hair.

The ass brays in a strong protest and swears he will not move
And goats upon the mountains bleat that fashions may improve
The swallows are about to leave, no more we'll see the hare
And stalks are burned with the blight since the women bobbed their hair.

Conversation between Tom Lehihan and Jim Carroll after the song:
Jim: Who do you reckon made that song?
Tom: Well, it was supposed that 'twas Paddy Jordan that composed it, but when he was asked about it, he said that he never composed it. That song is over sixty years.
Jim: Paddy Jordan was a Miltown man, was he?
Tom: He was a Miltown man.

Note
Bobbed Hair ? Tom Lenihan
Styles and fashions have long been a subject for humour in song.
Tom's song on a lover lamenting an early 20th century hairstyle is one of the best we have come across.
The locating of the song in Corofin appears to indicate that it was locally made; Tom said it was a great favourite there, and the reference to 'Black and Tans puts it some time after independence.
The latter refers to a punishment meted out by the Tans to women in households harbouring Republicans, as dramatized in the film, 'The Wind That Shakes the Barley.
It was also used by the Resistance in Europe during world War Two to those who consorted with German soldiers.
'The Bobbed Hair' is echoed by an American Ozark song of the late 1920s which pleads;

"Why do you bob your hair girls?
It is an awful shame
To rob the head God gave you,
To bear the flapper's name."

I really do believe that anybody claiming that our folk songs originated from the pens of professional song makers need to face the fact that country people from all over these islands were perfectly capable of making them themselves without help
If the were capable of it, why didn't they do it?
There are plenty more examples to choose from on every subject under the sun
Jim Carroll


04 Oct 17 - 12:12 PM (#3880230)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Jim,

I asked why folk song definition is vital.

"genuine lovers of The Songs of the People in all it's aspects" ????

I don't know who you mean by that. Presumably only those who agree with your own personal views and interests. The fact that some of us do not see the point in endlessly looking for something which cannot be defined to everyone's satisfaction does not mean that we do not enjoy some of the end product as much as you.

It seems My ignorance of Shakespeare is greater than I thought. I was under the impression that he or Bacon or whoever wrote plays to entertain an audience and earn a living. Obviously you know better.


04 Oct 17 - 01:07 PM (#3880252)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

Songs are to be sung,waffling on incessantly about their possible origin is time wasted.

I'd been waiting for that one to come up!


04 Oct 17 - 01:20 PM (#3880260)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Why on earth should the fact that people (very much like myself) enjoy Shakespeare's plays stop anybody enquiring further into his art?
I, like Nock Dow, have no problem whatever recognising or defining a folk song when I hear one - there are libraries of literature to assist if I ever have the slightest problem in doing so
Personally, I spent thirty years asking source singers what it was and had no problem with what they told me.
What makes me laugh about you people is that if I or anybody else ever suggested that you have it have the same interest as you do, yo're the first up on your chairs screaming "folk police", but you have no hesitation it screaming the odds when our interests part from yours
"Songs are to be sung,waffling on incessantly about their possible origin" is about as 'kick in the door and burn the books" as it gets
Kindly mind your own business and let me decide for myself what my interests are
"I don't know who you mean by that. "
You really have no concept that folk songs might have more to offer than to be sung - you astound me?
Long live education eh!
Jim Carroll
Your "folk police" might have I point if I behaved like you
Jim Carroll


04 Oct 17 - 01:38 PM (#3880267)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"I'd been waiting for that one to come up!"
Me too
I always wonder what these people have to hide
Jim Carroll


04 Oct 17 - 04:40 PM (#3880317)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Richard
Fully agree.
Jim has given his twopennorth. I've given mine. Others have contributed. No doubt some people will sit in the middle. If Jim is the only one I need to convince then I know that's never gonna happen! I'll still be interested to know what he has to say when he's read the book.


04 Oct 17 - 05:09 PM (#3880321)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Jim
Methinks ye hev been trolled!


04 Oct 17 - 07:37 PM (#3880344)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" If Jim is the only one I need to convince then I know that's never gonna happen! I'll still be interested to know what he has to say when he's read the book."
Sorry Steve - you have given no evidence to back your claim, which flies in the face of every scrap of scholarship I have ever come across and is totally at odds by my own experiences and conclusions
Kite flying theories without evidence and without a single rational response only convinces me that your claims have no foundation in reality
You originally attempted to dismiss all the examples I put up as 'retired people scribbling poems in their spare time' - your refusal to even acknowledge the examples, the implication that song making was commonplace within the the tradition and the possible extent of them makes you somewhat dishonest (I really don't say that lightly, nor do I say it to insult you - it upsets me deeply that I have reached that conclusion about a fellow folk song enthusiast I once respected, even though I didn't agree with him)
My idea of genuine research is to take every piece of evidence offered, examine it, accept it if it works and explain why it doesn't if it doesn't convince me
I have done my level best here to do exactly that - you have not had the courtesy to do that.
You have responded with evasion, dishonesty and at time insults "ploughboys and dairymaids, nymphs and shepherds" - not the thing I have come to expect from serious people
You started off offering me character references of people who supported you, now we have come full circle "If Jim is the only one I need to convince"
Shame on you
Are you really so arrogant as to believe everybody but me accepts your unproven theory?
I find this last posting at best patronising, but rather, hurtful and nasty towards a fellow researcher - if there was nothing else, I would accept that as an indication that you are not able to defend your theory.
Personally, I don't gve a toss how many people believe something if it doesn't hold water
You theory doesn't and your behaviour here is an indication that you are aware of that and are not prepared to talk it through.
Fine by me
I'm giving a talk on our work at Galway University in November - you've just managed to add a whole new section to it.
I can handle trolls - they are easy
I realluy can't handle this level of discussion
Yours sadly
Jim


04 Oct 17 - 07:45 PM (#3880346)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

It seems that Jim needs to read Steve's book if he really wants evidence - but somehow I doubt that he will........Sadly.

Tim Radford


04 Oct 17 - 08:03 PM (#3880347)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

For your interest, here are a list of unpublished songs local to West Clare from our collection, all with no named author and all made within the lifetimes of the singers

Around the hills_of_clare
Bad Year sung by John Lyons
Beautiful Town of Kilrush sung by Michael Falsey
Blessed Christmas Day sung by Martin Junior Crehan
Bobbed Hair sung by Tom Lenihan
Broadford Prisoners sung by John Lyons
Cahermurphy sung by Josie Baker
Cattle Drivers sung by Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan
Clare election songs
Clare To The Front sung by Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan
Devalera_election_song
Donkey sung by Paddy Flanagan
Down By Mount Callan Side
Drunken Bear
Dudley Lee The Blackleg sung by Martin Howley
East Clare Election sung by Martin Howley
Fair At Doonbeg sung by Vincie Boyle
Fair Of Sixmilebridge sung by John Lyons
Farewell To Belharbour sung by Katie Droney
Farewell to Lissycasey sung by Vincie Boyle
Farewell to Miltown Malbay
Five Pilots of Kilbaha
Fourth Battalion of Mid-Clare
Francie Hynes sung by Michael Falsey
Girl from_clahandine
Gleesons Of Coore sung by Martin Junior Crehan
Grazier's Song
Green_flag_of_erin
Hills of Shanaway sung by Winifred Walsh
Hillside of Beenavane
John From Kilkee sung by Pat MacNamara
Johnny Boland
Kilkee Drowning sung by Martin Reidy
Kilrush Josie Baker
Lament for Willie Clancy sung by Marty Malley
Leon 1.
Leon 2
(three more songs on The Leon unrecorded but handwritten)
Heroes of Quilty
Lone Shanakyle sung by Michael Straighty Flanagan
Lovely Old Miltown sung by Peggy McMahon
Mac and Shanahan sung by Tom Lenihan
Mac and Shanahan (different song on same subject)
Memories of Clare
Men of County Clare sung by Tom Lenihan
Miltown Malbay Fair
Misses Limerick Kerry and Clare sung by Tom Lenihan
Murder of Mrs O'Mara sung by Martin Howley
My Eileen
My Native County Clare sung by Nora Cleary
Nora Daly sung by Tom Lenihan
Old Grey mare 2 versions
Pride of Kilkee sung by Tom Lenihan
Pub Down in Coore sung by Martin Junior Crehan
Querrin Bay Drowning sung by Michael Falsey
Quilty Burning
Quilty Song sung by Martin Junior Crehan
Another Quilty Song sung by Martin Junior Crehan
Rineen Ambush Five songs under this title)
Shannon Scheme Shannon Scheme
St. Brigid's Well sung by Jamesie McCarthy
That Cold Man by Night
There Is A Hero sung by Pat McNamara
St. Brigid's Well sung by Jamesie McCarthy
That Cold Man by Night
The Drovers Song (cattle rustling songs from the Land Wars)
There Is A Hero sung by Pat McNamara
Tirmanagh Hill sung by Peggy McMahon
Tobins of Kilmaley Nora Cleary
Vale of Fermoyle sung by Martin Howley
Village of Quilty
West Clare Railway (three complete songs and two fragments)


Apart from these there are over one hundred songs published for the first time in 1970 under the title ‘Ballads of Clare’ – all made in the first half of the twentieth century and all from East Clare   
If that isn’t proof that rural people are not natural songmakers, I don’t know what is
Jim Carroll


04 Oct 17 - 08:14 PM (#3880348)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"It seems that Jim needs to read Steve's book if he really wants evidence - but somehow I doubt that he will........Sadly."
Perhaps you can give a summary Tim - Steve hasn't so far
I have dipped into the relevant sections of the book carefully and am half way through it page for page and have not found a shred so far
Can you please explain to me how there can possibly be evidence when even Steve has admitted that our knowledge of the oral tradition does not go back further than the beginning of the 20th century?
You join Steve G in his insults when you suggest that I won't read it - how dare you make such an assumption
Sorry folks - all this unpleasantness is proof positive that no proof either way exists and thos who believe there is substitute nastiness for honest argument
Why will none of you respond to the points I have put up honestly and decently?
THey really are there to be knocked down, but it takes more than denials, evasion and character references
Jim Carroll


04 Oct 17 - 10:32 PM (#3880361)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

Jim - you have a wonderful record of collecting songs - all in the later 20th century. Must - if not all - of Steve's theories relate to the collections made in the early 20th century, IMHO a significantly different period.
I have actually not read Steve's book - but I have been to one of his presentations of the contains - that was very specific (however I don't have notes), and I found it very appealing.
I too have been studying the same period and I too have found examples of the existence of broadside versions of songs collected by Gardiner in particular.
Personally - I am interested in singing the songs and who sang them - not their origins - but if I find a connection to a broadside, I have to assume something......

I wish you well with your op, and I am sorry if you thought my comments insulting - but I hope you do glean something from Steve's book - it is 700 pages long, and he has been working on it for a very long time and has significant knowledge - so there is probably some truth between the covers.....

Tim Radford


05 Oct 17 - 02:23 AM (#3880368)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"you have a wonderful record of collecting songs -"
Please don't patonise me Tim - if you think that all I've done is collect songs and learned nothing from them, you insult me as much as Richard and Steve does
Steve's comments may relate to the early twentieth century collections, but his definitive statement covers the entire reperoire, including the ballads - his contemptuous reference to "shepherds and swains" romanticism is at least a seventeenth century one.
To make such a definitive statement based on the condition of the song tradition in the early twentieth century is academic madness - kile trying to assess the general health of a human being by examining a corpse.
Our song traditions began to disappear when the Industrial Revolution wrought massive changes both in the town and the countryside, breaking up the communities and putting massive pressure on the workers.
Sharp and his colleagues stressed over and over again that they were dealing with the pale shadow of a song tradition - as Tommy Munnely put it "a race with the undertaker"
By the time the BBC mounted their mopping up campaign, in England they were dealing with singers who were remembering songs that had been remembered from parents who had might or might not have been part of a living oral tradition - second or third hand rather than direct from the horse's mouth - a moribund or dead tradition.
Ireland was different in that rural agriculture and the lifestyle that came with it still had a living song tradition right through to the 40s and fifties - the non-literate Travellers had one up to the 1970s
Both these latter were not only still carrying the old songs, largely untainted, but in both cases, were still producing a rich repertoire of newly made songs.
If Steve is referring to the early twentieth century state of things, when the tradition had deteriorated beyond repetition, he needs to make that clear - so far he has either poured scorn or refused to comment on the fact that working people made their songs "romantic nonsense2
I wen to bed extremely depressed last night - I am still seething, so I got up at this gaud-awful hour and dug out a several 'character references
Steve attaches such importance to - the end result is somewhat long because I have left it intact - I apologise for the length of the piece - both to those still interested and to the site administrators for taking up so much space
The first two writers lived and worked at a time when the broadside industry was thriving and both were totally familiar with its output and spent a great deal of time comparing it with the oraol repertoir
I confess I haven't read the second for around forty years, so it came as a shaft of sunlight through all this mirk.
The third seems to have concentrated primarily on broadsides and has done stirling work in dating them
Might look in before I head for Galway - thanks for your best wishes

"The immense collections of Broadside ballads, the Roxburghe and Pepys ... doubtless contain some ballads which we should at once declare to possess the popular character, and yet on the whole they are veritable dung-hills, in which, only after a great deal of sickening grubbing, one finds a very moderate jewel."
Francis James Child letter sent by Child to Svend Grundtvig in Copenhagen, August 25th 1872.

Before concluding this very incomplete summary, something must needs be said about the broadside or ballet, which has had so marked, and in many ways so detri¬mental an influence upon the- words of the folk-ballad and song. The ballad broad¬side, which sprang into life very soon after the invention of printing, consisted of a single sheet of paper, upon one side of which were printed the words only of the ballad, or song. These broadsheets were hawked about the country by packmen, who frequented fairs, village festivals, and public gatherings of all sorts, and who advertised their wares by singing them in market-places, on village greens, in the streets of the towns, and wherever they could attract an audience. In this way bal¬lads and songs were disseminated all over the land. In later days the broadside would have two or more ballads printed upon it, and sometimes several ballads were bound together and distributed in small books of three or four pages, called “ gar¬lands ”.
Many of these broadside ballads were the productions of the literary hacks of the towns, the Fleet Street scribblers of the day; occasionally they were written by ballad-mongers of literary repute, like Martin Parker. Some of them were learned by the hawkers during their country excursions, and were afterwards recited by them, for a consideration, to their employers. In this manner the traditional ballad found its way on to the broadside, but, usually, in a very garbled form, and after many editings. Consequently, the ballad-sheet, while it aided the popularization of the ballad, also tended to vulgarize it. It was only very rarely that a genuine tra¬ditional ballad found its way on to a broadside without suffering corruption. A broadside version of a ballad is usually, therefore, a very indifferent one, and vastly inferior to the genuine peasant song.
With very rare exceptions, and for obvious reasons, the broadside contained the words only of the songs, not the music to which they were sung. The music of the folk-song did not, therefore, suffer corruption through the agency of the ballad-sheet, as was the case with the words. We must remember also that the folk-singer would often learn modern and very indifferent sets of words from the broadside, and sing them to old tunes, after the manner of the “ execution songs,” already mentioned.
These, no doubt, are the chief reasons why the music of the folk-song of to-day has been more faithfully preserved than its text. For it must be confessed that the words of the folk-song often come to the collector of to-day in a very corrupt and incomplete state. The truth is that the twentieth century collector is a hundred years too late. The English ballad is moribund ; its account is well-nigh closed.
This conclusion corroborates that which was reached by 4 4 The Society of Anti¬quaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne ”, when, in 1855, they set about the collection of the Northumbrian ballads. In their first report they recorded that, so far as the words were concerned, they were “ half-a-century too late ”.
And yet, although page after page of the collector’s note-books are filled with scraps of imperfectly-remembered broadside versions, here and there will be found, sometimes a whole ballad, more often a verse or two, or, perhaps, a phrase only of genuine folk-made poetry. It is only from scraps of this kind that an estimate can be formed, and that a speculative one, of what the English ballad was in its prime. It has been pointed out that the Scottish ballad is immeasurably finer and more poetical than the English. But the comparison is scarcely a fair one. For the songs of Lowland Scotland were collected more than a hundred years ago, when ballad- singing was still a living art; whereas we in England have so neglected our oppor¬tunities that we are only now making a belated attempt to gather up the crumbs. Such ballads as “ The Unquiet Grave ” etc., which have survived in more or less in¬corrupt form, are there to remind us of the loss that we have suffered from the un¬worthy neglect of past opportunities.
Over and above this question of word-corruption, there are some folk-songs, which, for other reasons, can only be published after extensive alteration or excision. Some of these, happily only a few, are gross and coarse in sentiment and objectionable in every way. I am convinced, however, that the majority of these are individual and not communal productions, and cannot therefore be classed as genuine folk-songs. At any rate, I know that they offend against the communal sense of propriety, that the verdict of the community is expressly against them, and that those who sing them do so fully understanding that they are bad, vicious and indefensible.
But there are also a large number of folk-songs, which transgress the accepted conventions of the present age, and which would shock the susceptibilities of those who rank reticence and reserve amongst the noblest of the virtues. These are not, strictly speaking, bad songs ; they contain nothing that is really wrong or unwhole¬some. And they do not violate the communal sense of what is right and proper. They are sung freely and openly by peasant singers, in entire innocence of heart, and without the shadow of a thought that they contain anything that is objectionable, or that they themselves are committing any offence against propriety in singing them.
This is a phenomenon which opens up a large question. The key-note of folk- poetry, as we have already shown, is simplicity and directness without subtlety—as in the Bible narratives and Shakespeare. This characteristic might be mistaken for
a want of refinement by those who live in an age where subtlety and circumlocution are extensively practised, This question comes especially to the fore when the most universal and elemental of all subjects is treated, that of love and the relations of man to woman. Its very intimacy and mystery cause many minds to shrink from expressing themselves openly on the subject, as they would shrink from desecrating a shrine. The ballad-maker has no such feeling. He has none of that delicacy, which, as often as not, degenerates into pruriency. Consequently, he treats “ the way of a man with a maid ” simply and directly, just as he treats every other sub¬ject. Those, therefore, who would study ballad-literature, must realize that they will find in it none of those feelings and unuttered thoughts, which are characteristic of a more self-conscious but by no means more pure-minded age. Nevertheless, however much we may admire the simplicity and the straightforward diction of the ballad- maker, we have to realize that other times and other people are not so simple- minded and downright, and that what is deemed fit and proper for one period is not necessarily so for others. The folk-song editor, therefore, has perforce to undertake the distasteful task of modifying noble and beautiful sentiments in order that they may suit the minds and conform to the conventions of another age, where such things would not be understood in the primitive, direct and healthy sense.
These songs, however, in that they throw a searching light upon the character of the peasant, possess* great scientific value. For this reason alone, it is obviously the duty of the collector to note them down conscientiously and accurately, and to take care that his transcriptions are placed in libraries and museums, where they may be examined by students and those who will not misunderstand them.
Songs of the type that we have been discussing, as well as those whose words are incomplete or corrupt, present a knotty problem to the collector who would publish them for popular use. Only those who have tried their hands at editing a folk-song can realize the immense difficulty of the task. To be successful the editor must be in close sympathy with the aims of the folk-poet. He must divest himself of all acquired literary tricks, be alert to avoid anachronisms, and contrive to speak in the simple and direct language of the peasant. The high estimation, in which the best Scottish traditional poetry is deservedly held, is due in no small measure to the genius and sympathetic insight of those who edited it. Amongst these Burns was, of course, pre-eminent. But he was a peasant as well as a poet, and represented the peasant element in song. He was, moreover, an enthusiastic collector of the folk- tunes of his own country, of which he possessed an intimate, if not a technical knowledge. Yet, it cannot truthfully be said that even Burns was uniformly suc¬cessful in his revisions, although in such songs as “ John Anderson, my Jo ”, or “ O ! my luve’s like a red, red rose ”, he approached perfection. It must be remembered, too, that he confined his attention to the songs, and that he scarcely touched the ballads, which were left to Sir Walter Scott and others to recover and to edit. Who will do for our English ballads and songs what Scott and Burns did for the Scottish ?
Cecil J Sharp, , ‘Folk Poetry’ from English Folk Songs - Some Conclusions

At least a third of the 305 ballads canonised in his great work owe their continuance in oral tradition to having been printed as street literature, and many of those that don't are tainted by the interference of a series of literary hands, some having been totally fabricated by such. Indeed, this literary interference has been, and is, a lively and thriving tradition all of its own.
Dunghill’ (Steve Gardham)


05 Oct 17 - 05:00 AM (#3880398)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton

For what it's worth, I've now read about two thirds of Roud's book, and I don't recall having read any statements in the book suggesting that the vast majority of the English folk song repertoire of today originated in broadside ballads, written by professional or semi-professional broadside hacks. I could be wrong, but if he does say this definitively I don't remember it.

My overwhelming impression is that Roud's conclusions are overall of the "it's a bit of everything" type. I do recall Roud stating that claims of truly ancient antiquity for any given folk song are unlikely (and, more to the point, unprovable) but most of the time Roud seems to be pretty sanguine and philosophical about origins and proof. He is certainly sceptical about unequivocal claims to antiquity: for example, he challenges Bert Lloyd's unsupported claim that "we know" the Cutty Wren song to have been sung as part of a pagan winter ritual. But Roud is a very documentation-based researcher so he is just as scrupulous regarding any statements from the opposite end of the spectrum: as I said, I can't remember Roud endorsing any definitive statements regarding the polar opposite standpoint. Most of the time, it's a case of "there isn't proof of this" and, for Roud, what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander.


05 Oct 17 - 06:07 AM (#3880414)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

"What makes me laugh about you people is that if I or anybody else ever suggested that you have it have the same interest as you do, yo're the first up on your chairs screaming "folk police", but you have no hesitation it screaming the odds when our interests part from yours
"Songs are to be sung,waffling on incessantly about their possible origin" is about as 'kick in the door and burn the books" as it gets
Kindly mind your own business and let me decide for myself what my interests are"

Having read the above Jim, I have no idea what you are trying to say.

I can only guess that "you people" again means anybody that doesn't agree with your point of view.

I suggest you calm down and try not to lose any more sleep.


05 Oct 17 - 06:38 AM (#3880423)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Having read the above Jim, I have no idea what you are trying to say."
Didn't think you would for a minute - it was aimed at folk song lovers
I'VE SHOWN YOU MY CREDENTIALS - YOU SHOW ME YOURS
Back to reality
I strongly fear that what happened to the revival is now happening to sections of research
When the clubs ran out of new old songs they began to look elsewhere - Victorian parlour ballads, Music Hall, early pop songs - ending up with the 'horse music' definition - anything goes, from Dan Leno to Dylan - anything that would justify performing anything they fancied wherever it came from and whoever's culture it represented
That's why many thousands left the scene in the seventies and eighties.
Now we have a situation in research were some believe everything to be said on folk song has been said so "let's re-define it and keep ourselves busy"
That is why folk song will never be taken seriously outside the tiny number of folk-Masonic Lodges of rapidly ageing folkies - not unless we gat a grip and try to do something about it - like taking ourselves seriously so that others will
It's happened in spades among Ireland's your with instrumental music - go check
Jim Carroll


05 Oct 17 - 06:40 AM (#3880424)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Ireland's young people" - I should have said
Jim


05 Oct 17 - 12:13 PM (#3880465)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

I don't recall having read any statements in the book suggesting that the vast majority of the English folk song repertoire of today originated in broadside ballads, written by professional or semi-professional broadside hacks.

In the chapter on 'Back-street printers, ballad sellers and buskers', the '90-95%' figure for the number of folk songs appearing in street literature is on p 442, and although SR does enter the caveat that this is not in itself evidence of a direct link, other evidence suggests to him that there is. In the 'New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs', the same author states that 'some, perhaps most' of them 'started life as songs written for broadside production.... probably written by... broadside hacks'


05 Oct 17 - 12:24 PM (#3880470)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

And a good hack might have written several good songs.


05 Oct 17 - 12:53 PM (#3880474)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton

"In the chapter on 'Back-street printers, ballad sellers and buskers', the '90-95%' figure for the number of folk songs appearing in street literature is on p 442, and although SR does enter the caveat that this is not in itself evidence of a direct link, other evidence suggests to him that there is."

OK, that's the chapter I'm currently reading. I'll look out for that. But I did use the word "originated" - not "appeared". Just because a song appears in a broadside, doesn't mean it was written for that broadside. I mean, I know that 'The Streams of Lovely Nancy' was printed on a broadside, but it seems hard to imagine that a broadside writer would have consciously sat down and penned so many non-sequiturs.

So I'd be interested in the evidence behind: "probably written by ... broadside hacks" too – as I can't really imagine what that evidence would look like. (Given how, as Roud points out, broadside printers nicked each others' material.) I wonder what percentage of broadside songs have known authors?

Just to clear, by "folk songs" here, is Roud referring to songs he's given a Roud Index Number to – all the folk songs he's ever come across? Is he saying 90–95% of the folk songs he's ever encountered have appeared in street literature?


05 Oct 17 - 01:13 PM (#3880478)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

Regarding "Streams of Lovely Nancy" - Roud 688 - there is an Irish version of the song - The Strands of Magilligan - I am not 100% sure of how old it is, but it was collected in 1933 and published in Huntington, Songs of the People (1990) p.259 (according to Roud) from the singer Sam Henry.
Several years ago in heard Dave MacLurg sing it at Mystic and it made me revive my singing of Streams (as collected from William & Turp Brown in Hampshire)
This "Strands" version is NOT in the Bodleian Ballads - but may "Streams" are with dates as early as 1813.

Tim Radford


05 Oct 17 - 02:34 PM (#3880493)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

Just to clear, by "folk songs" here, is Roud referring to songs he's given a Roud Index Number to – all the folk songs he's ever come across? Is he saying 90–95% of the folk songs he's ever encountered have appeared in street literature?

He means 'folk songs' as notated by collectors in late 19th / early 20th century England.

As to the other evidence, I'll let you finish the chapter rather than try to paraphrase. However I don't think SR would dispute that broadside writers were quite capable of plagiarising traditional songs as well as other people's broadsides.

'Streams of Lovely Nancy' is an interesting one. As my old friend Roy Harris once wrote: "One of the loveliest jumbles in English folk song. Impossible (so far) to know what it's all about." But then, the song as sung in the revival didn't always include all available verses.

I had a quick look at the Bodleian site, where there are loads of SOLN broadsides, with at least two different versions of the story (such as it is). One follows the standard opening with verses about a woman parting from her sailor lover, while in another the opening is the same, but he seems to be a soldier judging by the reference to 'marching away'. The place names change as well. What that tells me is that at least one and possibly both of these are rewrites of another text, but that the writer wasn't particularly worried that the opening verses didn't make much sense or have anything to do with the tale of the parted lovers. Here are two examples:

'Streams of Lovely Nancy' (1)

'Streams of Lovely Nancy' (2)


05 Oct 17 - 02:53 PM (#3880501)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

I am afraid - Brian - neither of your "Streams" links work...But I think I know what you have in mind.

Best - Tim Radford


05 Oct 17 - 03:11 PM (#3880506)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

I suspect that these are the correct links -

http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/static/images/sheets/20000/17810.gif

http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/static/images/sheets/10000/07200.gif

I am recording an interview with Brian on Saturday morning, I now have an extra subject to talk to him about. I'm sure that Making links on Mudcat will be fascinating listening when it it broadcast.


05 Oct 17 - 03:14 PM (#3880507)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

I'm sure that Making links on Mudcat will be fascinating listening when it it broadcast.

But they work fine for me! Internet down everywhere but Glossop, it seems?


05 Oct 17 - 03:16 PM (#3880508)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

... however, Vic's second one doesn't work. I'm looking forward to that discussion, Vic.


05 Oct 17 - 03:30 PM (#3880509)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Neither of Brian's links work in Lewes
Both of my links work in Lewes.

Good. A contentious interview on radio can make interesting listening, whereas long contentious threads on folk music forums.......


05 Oct 17 - 03:37 PM (#3880511)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

Lewes is a strange place, Vic, you must admit.

I think we need some independent evidence about whose links work the best.


05 Oct 17 - 05:33 PM (#3880532)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Marje

Well, I can report that none of the four links work in Devon on a Kindle Fire tablet.
Hope this helps!
Marje


05 Oct 17 - 05:56 PM (#3880533)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

I'm sorry Marje, but your doubtlessly well meaning observation doesn't help the intriguing argument move forward at all. Sorry


05 Oct 17 - 06:46 PM (#3880540)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

For me neither link works if I just click on it. But right-click, copy link location, and paste into the address bar works for both of them. Make sense of that if you can. (As it happens, I've also today had an HTML part of an email that opens perfectly in two browsers and displays a totally blank page in two others.)

I'm glad that The Streams of Lovely Nancy has come up. That song on its own could make an interesting case study of the folk process. Wherever, whenever and however it originated, it was widely propagated both orally and through print, implying that singers liked it and broadside printers saw a market, but none of the extant versions makes much sense. More coherent than most is the version collected from Carrie Grover across the Pond, which has a castle decked (plausibly) with ivy rather than ivory, and "limestone so bright" rather than diamonds as the beacon for sailors.

I am very sorry that Jim should feel insulted by anything that I have written. Jim has good reasons for believing what he does and I am in no position to say he is wrong. And origins do indeed matter if one's purpose is to take a song as evidence of social history and what people thought and believed at some past time. But unless we can be sure who wrote a song, we can't be sure whose beliefs it reflects, if indeed it reflects anyone's. Broadside hacks could and did write pieces of total fiction.

Steve Roud's book is concerned with the phenomenon of folk song defined by various criteria but more by who sang the songs in what circumstances than by where they originated.

It's getting late at night and if I add any more to this post it will probably make less sense rather than more.


05 Oct 17 - 07:02 PM (#3880542)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: JHW

Sorry but I don't have time to read these posts and the book. I've read the Introduction up to now but it's very heavy to hold up.


05 Oct 17 - 08:57 PM (#3880557)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

> I know that 'The Streams of Lovely Nancy' was printed on a broadside, but it seems hard to imagine that a broadside writer would have consciously sat down and penned so many non-sequiturs.

Semi-seriously, what if he was drunk?

More seriously, why would a rural singer be more likely to have done so?

Someone, hack or otherwise, who was vaguely familiar with the convoluted diction of some 17th and 18th century poetry might conceivably have thought that this was how a lyric was supposed to sound.

Just my 2 cents.


06 Oct 17 - 04:38 AM (#3880585)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

I have carried out a pretty comprehensive study of Streams/Strands which is in the Dungbeetle articles on the Mustrad website. The Strands of Magilligan did indeed have its origins in northern Ireland and its progress through the hands of various printers and oral tradition can be traced in ever changing forms from Liverpool to Manchester to Birmingham and then to the southern counties by when it had become a rather garbled 'Streams of Lovely Nancy'. Eventually once scholars started studying the song they came up with a whole load of weird and wonderful theories as to what it meant.

This is one of the few where I wouldn't hazard a guess as to whether it first surfaced in print or was written by some hedge poet, perhaps both.

Matt, try rereading p13.
Jim, avoid this page at all costs.


06 Oct 17 - 04:54 AM (#3880590)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Matt, see my posting, 1st of Oct. 12.26.

These figures are mine, but Steve and I worked together on much of this angle.


06 Oct 17 - 05:03 AM (#3880594)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton

"try rereading p13"

You mean sentences such as: "Most songs which were later recorded as folk songs were not written by the singing and dancing throng, or by ploughboys, milkmaids, miners or weavers, but by professional or semi-professional urban songwriters or poets"

Well, personally I don't have any particular vested interest (ideological or otherwise) in whether this is true or false, likely or unlikely. Even from a class perspective, the professional or semi-professional urban songwriters are hardly likely to have been aristocrats; there was money to be made, but I doubt there was a huge amount of it (especially given how much broadside printers nicked each others material) – Roud describes broadside sellers as one step above beggars, so presumably the writers were essentially the urban working class (albeit perhaps more literate than most?).

But I'd point out that p.13 doesn't cite evidence, it makes statements. It sounds like there might be more back-up to such statements in the parts of the book I've not yet got to. I need to finish reading the book to see how much evidence of specific authorship there is. Evidence that moves beyond pointing out that a song appeared as street literature to evidence that that appearance was originary; evidence that the appearance on a broadside of, say, a Cutty Wren song or a pace egging song, or Six Dukes Went a Fishing means that Fred Bloggs, professional broadside writer, wrote it more or less around the same date it was printed.


06 Oct 17 - 05:26 AM (#3880597)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Congratulations Jim you are a legend in your own lunch time.


06 Oct 17 - 07:36 AM (#3880624)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

...evidence that the appearance on a broadside... means that Fred Bloggs, professional broadside writer, wrote it more or less around the same date it was printed.

It's always going to be very difficult to provide a smoking gun for a lot of these songs, since most broadsides were anonymous, and in any case there's always the possibility that another version existed before the oldest known copy.

However, in the specific case of the 'Wild Rover' I was talking about earlier, we have a known composer (Thomas Lanfiere) of the 17th century 'Good-fellow's Resolution' broadside - which is very clearly a 'Wild Rover' precursor - and we know that this author specialised in writing moralistic 'Bad Husband' ballads of this type. That suggests that his is the original copy. It is exactly the kind of turgid doggerel that people have been talking about above, but following on from Lanfiere's original over the next two centuries you can trace a number of edits, in which bits of his ballad have been cherry-picked, rearranged and eventually assembled into something resembling a folk song.

That's one well-documented example, and I daresay it won't be possible to do that for all the 90%.


06 Oct 17 - 07:51 AM (#3880625)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton

"It's always going to be very difficult to provide a smoking gun for a lot of these songs, since most broadsides were anonymous, and in any case there's always the possibility that another version existed before the oldest known copy."

Of course - that's why I'm interested in the assertion that most of them were probably written by professional urban writers or poets. If most of them are anonymous, and we don't have bookkeeping records of broadside printers and their scribes, where does this "probably..." evidence come from? Is is just simple assumption: that the earliest broadside printing of a given song "probably" means that was when it was written? That's an eminently reasonable presumption, but it's still a presumption.

I'm interested in these "probablies" and that 90–95%, not because I'm unwilling to be disabused of any romantic notions, but because I'm genuinely curious as to why there are so many odd folk songs in the canon. If, as Roud's own research suggests, broadsheets about scurillous murders were the biggest sellers, how have we ended up with so many pastoral folk songs with often quite arcane words and practices?

Sure, I can see why all those songs about lads and lasses rolling in the meadows could have come about, but what would have been the motivation/inspiration for an urban professional writer in writing a song that facilitated seasonally-based begging at the Big House with opaque lyrics about wrens and/or sprigs of May? (And not just one, of course, but whole schools of them?)


06 Oct 17 - 08:18 AM (#3880629)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

what would have been the motivation/inspiration for an urban professional writer in writing a song that facilitated seasonally-based begging at the Big House with opaque lyrics about wrens and/or sprigs of May?

A quick look at the Roud index doesn't show any broadside copies of either 'Pace-Egg' or 'Cutty Wren'. Maybe Steve G will know that such things exist somewhere. Or maybe these are part of the 5-10% that never appeared as street literature.

I don't have any agenda here either, just trying to respond as best I can.


06 Oct 17 - 10:54 AM (#3880645)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

Steve Gardham says earlier -
"I have carried out a pretty comprehensive study of Streams/Strands which is in the Dungbeetle articles on the Mustrad website."

I can see the song mentioned in No. 17 on your Dungheap list - is this what you mean? Because it is not mentioned much? Or am I missing a more complete look at the song from somewhere else???

Tim Radford


06 Oct 17 - 10:56 AM (#3880646)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Pace-egging songs indeed appeared in chapbooks along with the texts of the plays. There are as you know lots of different mumming plays and not all of them appeared in chapbooks. They vary considerably and with these oral tradition is the major factor. However the Pace Egg specifically owes much of its spread to print.

The Cutty Wren can be traced back to 1744. I haven't seen a street lit version. See the ODNR no.447. As part of an annual custom in past centuries it does indeed appear to be part of the 11%.

The seasonallly based begging included carols, Poor Old Horse, Six Jolly Miners, Deby Ram many of which were printed on broadsides.


06 Oct 17 - 12:15 PM (#3880662)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Profuse apologies, Tim.
I remember writing the article and just assumed that's where it ended up as with most of my studies. With wrist slapped I will try to find where it ended up. I know John Moulden has also studied the progress of the ballad.


06 Oct 17 - 12:29 PM (#3880664)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

I found a very long study and correspondence in my notes dating back to 2005. Having assembled as many versions as possible of 'Streams' and 2 related songs 'Come all ye little streamers' and 'The Green Mountain(US)' I started corresponding with Stephen Reynolds of Oregon and with John Moulden in which I found that Stephen was already well down the line in preparing a long article for the FM Journal, so instead of publishing myself I assisted Stephen with his work. One outcome was that the 3 songs were eventually given separate Roud numbers having all been lumped together prior to that.

I still have all the notes, maps of Magilligan and Loch Foyle where I believe it originated. John who had researched Irish broadsides more than anyone else had never seen an Irish broadside of the song. It is quite flowery and descriptive in keeping with other ballads from that part of Ireland. (IMO) If anyone wants to see versions of The Strands of Magilligan there are 2 in Hugh Shields' Shamrock, Rose & Thistle and one in the Sam Henry collection. I don't remember seeing an article. Is Stephen Reynolds still around?


06 Oct 17 - 01:15 PM (#3880672)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Matt.
The 'probably'.

Both Steve and I, sometimes together sometimes independently, have spent the last 30 years and more studying in great depth not only the broadside ballads that became folk songs but others pretty similar that may have become folk songs but didn't make it to be collected as folk songs. We have found some that have named authors but by the very nature of the beast the great majority don't have information on the author.

We found a fair amount of evidence that some of them had indeed most likely been taken from oral tradition, but when we traced them back to the earliest extant version this was overwhelmingly a printed or commercial source. I say commercial, one notable example is the theatre and pleasure gardens. These are often easily noted on stylistic grounds as being somewhat flowery in their language and subject.

The fact that printers all lived in urban areas adds to the fact that their suppliers, the ballad writers were close at hand. I have presented above plenty of evidence that rural working people sometimes wrote ballads but generally speaking they had not got ready access to printers and so those creatively inclined did not very often see their work spread to other areas like our folk songs and printed ballads did. In close-knit communities these songs no doubt will have had some currency but for one reason or another the majority didn't last or were not spread any further than that. There is a good example in Southern Harvest, a local song that survived in 3 versions in villages around Winchester, but these songs are very few and far between in published collections.

I have made it very clear on numerous occasions that our figures apply only to published traditional songs from England. Elsewhere different dynamics produced different statistics as Jim keeps telling us quite rightly. (Hence the title of this thread!)


06 Oct 17 - 06:32 PM (#3880727)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Did Stephen Reynolds's work (with Steve's input) eventually get published in the Folk Music Journal? I don't recall seeing it.

I note that "One outcome was that the 3 songs were eventually given separate Roud numbers having all been lumped together prior to that." I therefore need to correct my reference above to the Carrie Grover version, which I now see doesn't count as a version of "Streams" (Roud 688) but of "Green Mountain" (Roud 18820, index S217728).

However these songs do have a lot of shared content, and not just typical floaters.


06 Oct 17 - 07:17 PM (#3880731)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

Steve Gardham - I am also intrigued by your note -
"a local song that survived in 3 versions in villages around Winchester" - which song do you have in mind???

This is totally highjacking this thread - but while Jim is having is Hip done - what else is worth talking about (Good luck Jim....)

Tim Radford


07 Oct 17 - 05:26 AM (#3880778)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton

"We found a fair amount of evidence that some of them had indeed most likely been taken from oral tradition, but when we traced them back to the earliest extant version this was overwhelmingly a printed or commercial source."

"The fact that printers all lived in urban areas adds to the fact that their suppliers, the ballad writers were close at hand."

I apologise for being a bit of a stuck record on this, but what generally have you considered evidence for composition? ie evidence that a broadside was actually composed by a broadside writer, rather than just supplied?

It does indeed stand to reason that a supplier to a printer would have lived nearby, but, if 90% of those songs were indeed actually composed (rather than just supplied) by broadside writers, it rather begs the question of where they got such gifted talents and broad general knowledge from - being able to knock out so many songs with geographical and technical details about often arcane rural customs and seafaring practices. I don't suppose they had that many research resources, or much time on their hands.

There's also the question of audience demand; what I've read in Roud's book so far corresponds with what I'd expect about the topics popular in broadsides, and no mention has been made (so far, don't want to prejudge!) about often arcane rural customs and seafaring practices in public tastes. If they did indeed compose all those songs, then it seems strange to me that no scholar yet has remarked on what literary titans these writers were, where they acquired their knowledge, and why their subjects so often appear to be out of step with what you'd expect to be commercial. Where did their knowledge and interest in seasonal rural customs spring from? Where did the commercial demand for a song like 'Herrings Heads' spring from?

"generally speaking they had not got ready access to printers and so those creatively inclined did not very often see their work spread to other areas like our folk songs and printed ballads did."

See, it also seems to me that if we allow "ready access to printers" to be a consideration, surely we have to bear in mind that, de facto, a printed version of any given song is more likely to be the earliest extant discoverable version simply because, well, if I write a song down in my diary, that's not as likely to still be findable 100 years later than if it had been printed 300 or more times.

If the earliest printed or written iteration of a song being from a printed ballad is considered to be best evidence of a song's authorship by a professional ballad writer then, de facto, a not-especially-literate populace, with no access to print, cannot have written them – by default. There's an element of circularity to that logic.

Roud suggests himself that broadside publishers would merrily pillage all sorts of sources: it seems therefore odd to me that they would be pillaging all sources APART from oral traditions, especially considered music is ultimately an auditory one. It is surely far more likely that the existence of songs anomalous to urban tastes and experiences are evidence of pillaging from oral traditions; the alternative would be that London's broadside writers were singular literary titans, creative visionaries with a remarkable general knowledge, and that we should be using the word "genius", not "hack" to describe them.


08 Oct 17 - 04:46 AM (#3880923)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

There can hardly be any doubt that some songs were originally made by people who had been there to see the events described, some were made for the stage or pleasure gardens, some were made by known authors such as Laurence Price, and some by anonymous hacks. We're in danger of focussing on a few examples that clearly fall into one of these categories and generalising to conclude that this category covers a large proportion of the whole corpus.

For example GUEST,matt milton refers to "often arcane rural customs and seafaring practices". How many songs describe such things? Versus how many tell idealised bucolic stories of Colins and Phoebes, ploughboys, love at first sight on a May morning, etc? Or songs that reflect a landsman's ideas of life at sea rather than the experience of real sailors?


08 Oct 17 - 06:27 AM (#3880935)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,matt milton

I am perhaps in danger of projecting my own predilections outwards here I've never bothered to learn those Colin and Phoebe type songs.

But one frustrating aspect of Roud's book is that I feel he doesn't involve himself in the repercussions of some of his findings. If a wassail song or May song or a seasonal songs relating to winter mendicant traditions was probably written by an urban broadsheet writer, that to me gives rise to all sorts of questions. Did much that we take for granted about the content of those traditions never actually exist in practice? Were broadsheet writers actively intervening/shaping the content of those traditions? Given that such songs are a significant part of what many folk singers today would regard as canonical, it seems odd to me that this wouldn't be explored in a large social history of folk music.

Another omission that I find odd in the book is that, given Roud's scholarship, he's uniquely placed to provide informative demonstrations of the folk process at work: while he mentions the fact that, just because working people did not write the songs, they liked them enough to learn them and shape them, it seems bizarre that he doesn't present any examples of how transformative (or not) this was.

I say bizarre because this is pretty much the key element of folk song. I had generally adumbrated broadsides as flowery, laborious and over-written, as compared to a folk-processed poetic, streamlined economy in a folk song as I have learned it. I mentioned the Streams of Lovely Nancy earlier because it was the most dramatic example I could think of of the folk process at work: a song that common sense suggests probably wasn't first written the way it has come down to most of us. But there are much more lucid examples I can think of off the top of my head: Six Dukes Went A Fishing for example, or the version of 'Brisk Young Sailor' collected in the Vaughn Williams 'Bushes and Briars' book. Or the genuinely weird song 'The Pelican' (collected by Gardiner, I think).

It seems odd to me that someone writing such a mammoth project, entitled 'Folk Song in England' wouldn't want to discuss the folk process more, and provide examples from his considerable research showing it at work. Those conclusions might be "actually, songs don't change that much"; or they might be "it's interesting to note what the song loses in unnecessary detail from this broadside of 1860 to the version collected by Cecil Sharp in..." There's none of that (so far as I've read) in Roud's book. Which is one of many reasons I'm finding it quite a frustrating read.

Another thing that's just occurred to me is there's not much discussion of the Child ballads, which are a pretty canonical part of folk singing today. But I guess Roud would point me to the bit in his introduction where he states that the book is about what folk music was, rather than what it is. I'm increasingly feeling that Roud's own priorities about what's important to discuss, to expand on, to go into detail on, or to include or exclude, are very different from my own interests in folk music. I think I was expecting a very different book to this one.


08 Oct 17 - 11:36 AM (#3880939)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Fair comment from GUEST,matt milton Date: 08 Oct 17 - 06:27 AM! It seems there's plenty of scope for another book. But still I remain grateful for what Steve and Julia have put into this one.


08 Oct 17 - 04:15 PM (#3880984)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Despite it's great breadth, Steve's book is only an overview of the subject. Just think how long the book would have been if at every touch and turn he had included examples. And if he had included even one example it could easily have gone to 50 pages on its own demonstrating the evolution of the song through say theatre, print, oral tradition. If you want chapter and verse on individual songs might I suggest Steve's other recent book The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, or even the Marrow Bones series edited by myself and Malcolm Douglas. Or my Dungbeetle articles on Mustrad.

Matt>>>>it rather begs the question of where they got such gifted talents and broad general knowledge from - being able to knock out so many songs with geographical and technical details about often arcane rural customs and seafaring practices<<<<<<

As Richard writes, these songs only actually form a small percentage of the corpus of material under discussion. The vast majority of the corpus is songs of a generic nature. The writers were obviously literate but generally at the bottom end of the poets scale, sometimes poets trying to turn a quick buck (bob). Writing poetry/songs has always been a precarious existence even at best. Many of the naval engagements were common knowledge and the taverns had plenty of seamen who wished to impart their knowledge of the battle. We have evidence they used newspaper reports occasionally. Of course they recycled older ballads, but as I said, as a rule even these can be traced back to what appears to be an original. Most of the songs attached to customs we have no idea how and where they originated and these form a major part of the 5%. However even some of these have their earliest extant versions in cheap print.

Here's a challenge for you, Matt. Give me a song that is part of the corpus that includes information that would be exclusive to rural dwellers. (Apart from which, we know there was a massive drift of country people into towns and cities to find work at the time when cheap broadsides were at their height. Some of these may have been literate enough to have become broadside writers.)

Tim, will find that song for you shortly.


08 Oct 17 - 04:50 PM (#3880995)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Matt [Another thing that's just occurred to me is there's not much discussion of the Child ballads, which are a pretty canonical part of folk singing today]
Not that many of the Child Ballads actually were found in oral tradition in England in the late 19th/early 20th century. In fact if you look at the Child Ballads, the 305, not many of these seem to have existed in oral tradition in the British Isles for very long. There are obvious exceptions of course. Many of them were revived by the likes of MacColl, but their claim to substantial oral tradition is very slim. Quite a large portion have only been found in print, most of the Robin Hood ballads for instance.


08 Oct 17 - 05:30 PM (#3881002)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Tim, struggling. The nearest I can get at the moment is either Avington Pond (but seemingly only 1 version) and Three Hearty Young Poachers (2 versions, perhaps that's the one I was thinking of). I'll have another try. I thought I had plotted the 3 versions of the song I referred to as coming from within a 20-mile radius of Winchester but it might have been just the 2. I've just turned 70 so I'm allowed a little senility.


08 Oct 17 - 05:33 PM (#3881003)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

04.50 posting.
It would appear the forum is struggling with my use of <<>>>. I will use some other method of quoting from previous posts in future.


08 Oct 17 - 05:35 PM (#3881005)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

*** I will use some other method of quoting from previous posts in future*** Just testing.


The text was retrieved and displayed in a simple set of brackets. ---mudelf


08 Oct 17 - 05:54 PM (#3881008)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

Steve - Thanks - I thought you might be thinking of Avington Pond (obviously local) - but as you say on one version. You certainly had me searching in both Southern Harvest and the Manuscripts.
I will be looking into Young Henry the Poacher.........3 versions spread over a widish area.....

Best - Tim


08 Oct 17 - 06:07 PM (#3881010)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

Ah - I see it now - Three Hearty Young Poachers - Roud 1690 - and I see what you mean about it appearing local - and both versions from close to Winchester.

Tim Radford


09 Oct 17 - 11:08 AM (#3881120)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

Here is a link to an Interview with Steve on Grizzly Folk.......

https://www.grizzlyfolk.com/2017/08/30/what-is-folk-music-an-interview-with-steve-roud/


Tim Radford


09 Oct 17 - 03:06 PM (#3881175)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Thanks, Tim
Great interview!


10 Oct 17 - 07:07 AM (#3881282)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

This morning, I finished reading the book about Sabine Baring-Gould by Martin Graebe. It is a mighty read in more senses that one. By the time that I got to page 339 of tiny print, I came to the penultimate paragraph which I reproduce below. I knew that in honesty and fairness that I had to give it here as a counterweight to my post of 03 Oct 17 - 06:01 AM where I quoted that S-B was firmly of the opinion that the majority of the songs that he has collected as a young man were derived from broadsides. In this paragraph Martin writes -
One of Baring-Gould’s characteristics was that he had some mental flexibility and could change his mind if the evidence showed that his hypothesis was wrong. In respect of folk song his mind changed on several topics over the years. Having initially neglected the words of songs in favour of tunes he came to believe that the words were also important and deserved as good treatment as the tunes. Part of the reason for not having valued the words was his initial assumption that most traditional songs were derived from broadsides and other printer sources. He came to understand that this was not always the case and that many of the songs were older than the broadsides and better in many respects than the printed versions. He also realised that some, particularly the younger singers like John Woodridge and Sam Fone, had learned their songs from broadsides and he recognised that not only could singers fit broadside words to tunes that they knew, but that some could compose tunes themselves. He also realise hat some singers were capable of creating songs from scratch – to record a local event, for example. The flexibility of understanding on Baring-Gould’s part was not a characteristic of other folk song collectors and theorists of the time demonstrated.

I think that the key words are flexibility of understanding rather than approaching this (or any) subject with a rigidity of thinking.


10 Oct 17 - 11:47 AM (#3881361)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

***He came to understand that this was not always the case and that many of the songs were older than the broadsides***

To pinch one of Jim's most often used arguments: How could he possibly have known that? If he was referring to the late 18thc/early 19thc broadsides, yes there's plenty of evidence but mainly from older printed sources. Those in manuscripts are few and far between.

There is also the fact that although SBG spent some time in the BL and had his own collection of 19thc broadsides he did not have access to anything like the resources we have today. This also applies to Frank Kidson who was also very clued up on song origins and histories. These are not criticisms by the way, just observations.

I've just started on the new book, Vic, and looking forward to it immensely. We perhaps need a new thread. I'll start one.


10 Oct 17 - 11:54 AM (#3881363)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Peter Laban

I couldn't help thinking of a part of this discussion when watching this 1981 documentary about Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin. I know, an Irish context but the part where the Muscrai songmakers get mention underlines Jim Carroll's point made earlier. I would find it very hard to believe nothing of the sort would have happened elsewhere.

That aside, it is a lovely fillum to watch.


10 Oct 17 - 12:21 PM (#3881372)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

You are absolutely right, Peter, that it is a lovely fillum to watch and listen to and songmaking something like what occurs here undoubtedly went on in other places.

Unfortunately by the time the collectors came along to record this in England any local songs were completely swamped by the printed songs that were being spread around the whole country. I can think of something similar in the Hunt supper gatherings that can still be found in the north. For some of them the repertoire is being constantly added to in this way, but the folk scene has passed it by and is unaware of it. One area where this was very lively was the West Pennine area near Sheffield, but here the local interest has died out and the singers are now part of the folk scene. The carols in the same area is another example of a lively scene still flourishing.

If you look at the wonderful film of the singers in the Blaxhall Ship in East Anglia from the 50s there are no local songs being sung. They are all songs from the general English repertoire. I have given examples of rural songwriters in my local area but none of their songs have survived to become part of oral tradition.

It may well be that 250 years ago England had something like what is shown in Diarmuid's film but if it did precious little has survived.


10 Oct 17 - 03:39 PM (#3881402)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

When I read Martin's comment that I quoted above where he writes:-
He also realised that some singers were capable of creating songs from scratch – to record a local event, for example.

I couldn't help thinking of Jim's long list from his post on 04 Oct 17 - 08:03 PM. I don't recognise any of these songs from their titles but the content they suggest - elections, fairs, drownings etc. seem to put them in the category that Martin was describing; and well worthy of a song collector's attention.

Yes, Steve, I will contribute to the thread that you have started, but first I have somehow to give an impression of this fascinating, wide-reaching book in a 400 word review.


10 Oct 17 - 03:58 PM (#3881407)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Yes, well worthy of a song collector's attention. As far as publishing goes the likes of Sharp would have wanted the songs to have a universal appeal in order to sell books which would exclude many songs with a local flavour. Perhaps they also had something of this in the back of their minds whilst they were collecting. However songs like 'Lakes of Colephin' reached a universal audience in print and oral tradition. Only a small percentage of both printed and local songs made it into the national corpus and dispersed print certainly had a lot to do with this. Maybe simple chance accounts for a lot of what survived.


10 Oct 17 - 04:37 PM (#3881411)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Steve wrote:-
...the likes of Sharp would have wanted the songs to have a universal appeal in order to sell books which would exclude many songs with a local flavour.

Interestingly, The broadside printers seemed to have the opposite approach; they seemed to want place names to relate to their particular area to increase their local appeal.

In the various Van Diemans Land printings, how many different towns did "Poor Tom Brown" come from?


10 Oct 17 - 05:47 PM (#3881420)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Yes, localisation was one of their tricks, but it wasn't that common. The printers were generally in too much of a hurry to worry about the finer points. The type setting of the ballads was often left to an apprentice. Perhaps this was down to the writers.


15 Oct 17 - 10:44 AM (#3882369)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Christopher Thomas

There's a few interesting hares in this thread. You might like to look at the review in my blog at


15 Oct 17 - 10:50 AM (#3882372)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Christopher Thomas

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


15 Oct 17 - 11:51 AM (#3882394)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

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

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

Both reviews I think Steve would be very happy with.


16 Oct 17 - 03:52 AM (#3882491)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

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

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

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


16 Oct 17 - 05:34 AM (#3882510)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Christopher Thomas

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


16 Oct 17 - 09:15 AM (#3882542)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

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

"Well, there they are, the songs of our people. Some of them have been centuries in the making, some of them undoubtedly were born on the broadside presses. Some have the marvellous perfection of stones shaped by the sea's movement. Others are as brash as a cup-final crowd. They were made by professional bards and by unknown poets at the plough-stilts and the handloom. They are tender, harsh,, passionate, ironical, simple, profound.... as varied, indeed, as the landscape of this island.
We are indebted to the Harry Coxes and Phil Tanners, to Colm Keane and Maggie MaccDonagh, to Belle Stewart and Jessie Murray and to all the sweet and raucous unknown singers who have helped to carry our people's songs across the centuries."

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


16 Oct 17 - 10:31 AM (#3882555)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

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

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


16 Oct 17 - 11:12 AM (#3882561)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Welcome back, Jim!


16 Oct 17 - 12:12 PM (#3882574)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

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


16 Oct 17 - 01:16 PM (#3882587)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

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


16 Oct 17 - 01:28 PM (#3882589)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin

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


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


16 Oct 17 - 02:21 PM (#3882595)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

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

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


16 Oct 17 - 02:31 PM (#3882596)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

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


18 Oct 17 - 05:52 PM (#3883137)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Bridge

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

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

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

2. I wish Malcolm Douglas were still here.

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


21 Oct 17 - 04:55 AM (#3883648)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

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


21 Oct 17 - 10:47 AM (#3883708)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

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


21 Oct 17 - 11:02 AM (#3883711)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

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


21 Oct 17 - 11:07 AM (#3883713)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

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


21 Oct 17 - 11:10 AM (#3883715)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

Tell me, why is any definition needed ?


21 Oct 17 - 11:49 AM (#3883723)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

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


21 Oct 17 - 11:54 AM (#3883725)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

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


21 Oct 17 - 12:44 PM (#3883732)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

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

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

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


21 Oct 17 - 01:17 PM (#3883740)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

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


21 Oct 17 - 05:15 PM (#3883764)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,John Robinson

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

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

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

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


21 Oct 17 - 05:38 PM (#3883769)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

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


21 Oct 17 - 07:52 PM (#3883790)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

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

Tim Radford


22 Oct 17 - 04:40 AM (#3883816)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

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


22 Oct 17 - 07:57 AM (#3883835)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

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


25 Oct 17 - 04:33 PM (#3884619)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

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

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

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

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

those songs that are sung by folk singers;

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

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

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

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

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


26 Oct 17 - 03:49 PM (#3884885)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

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

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


27 Oct 17 - 04:14 AM (#3884962)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

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


27 Oct 17 - 04:52 AM (#3884975)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

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


27 Oct 17 - 05:15 AM (#3884980)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

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


27 Oct 17 - 06:53 AM (#3884996)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Rozza

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

Ruairidh


27 Oct 17 - 10:32 AM (#3885049)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

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

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


27 Oct 17 - 10:35 AM (#3885053)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

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


27 Oct 17 - 11:03 AM (#3885065)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

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

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

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

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


27 Oct 17 - 11:23 AM (#3885079)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

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


27 Oct 17 - 12:44 PM (#3885100)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

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


27 Oct 17 - 01:42 PM (#3885111)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

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


27 Oct 17 - 02:43 PM (#3885128)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

I'm out, with the others!


27 Oct 17 - 02:59 PM (#3885130)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

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

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

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

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


27 Oct 17 - 04:17 PM (#3885147)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

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

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

(But sorry for continuing the thread drift.)


27 Oct 17 - 07:16 PM (#3885183)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

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

Tim Radford


28 Oct 17 - 04:49 AM (#3885229)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

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


28 Oct 17 - 08:01 AM (#3885262)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

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

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

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


28 Oct 17 - 09:26 AM (#3885266)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

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


28 Oct 17 - 02:59 PM (#3885300)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"English versions" of the ballads
Jim Carroll


01 Nov 17 - 10:24 AM (#3886205)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

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

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

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

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


01 Nov 17 - 04:55 PM (#3886270)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

A neat critique, Vic.

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

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


01 Nov 17 - 05:36 PM (#3886278)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

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


02 Nov 17 - 04:54 AM (#3886333)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

My main problem with the book 'so far' is that folk song is treated as literary fiction rather than what I believe it is - poetic interpretations of actual experiences by those who lived them.
This appears to be the basic difference between how Lloyd and Roud approached the same body of song - Bert presents folk song as being 'of the people', Steve gives them as being 'for the people'
I remain unconvinced that literary hack incapable of producing singable songs
Our researches have found hundreds of anonymous songs in Ireland which were made during the lives of the singers but whose parochial nature and subject matter caused them to die out shortly after the events that inspired them faded from memory
If 'the folk' were capable of song making there is every reason to belive that it was they who made our folk songs
I take Vic's point about collectors being selective and I believe they missed a great deal of vital material in doing so, but I don't count Victorian Parlour Ballads or Music Hall compositions among those - they were literary compositions and had no part in 'folk expression'
If you counted them as folk songs you would have to include the operatic arias sung by Welsh miner's Operatic Societies
Jim Carroll


02 Nov 17 - 04:56 AM (#3886336)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Sorry - should read
"I remain unconvinced that literary hacks incapable of producing singable songs made our folk songs"
Jim Carroll


02 Nov 17 - 11:20 AM (#3886396)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Jim wrote:-
I don't count Victorian Parlour Ballads or Music Hall compositions among those - they were literary compositions and had no part in 'folk expression'
By chance this morning, I read this by Steve Roud in the 'New Book' -
It is because of this fundamental similarity that these 'pop songs' from the music halls could be easily absorbed into the local tradition and become 'folk songs' (Page 329 - My emphasis)

Now we know that we are as unlikely to agree a definition of folk song as we are to find a leprechaun's crock of gold at the end of a rainbow, but what this points out is that Jim places all emphasis on "origin" whereas Steve is much more concerned with "process" once a song has entered a local or national repertoire.

Another point -
Jim has written
I remain unconvinced that literary hack incapable of producing singable songs whereas Steve shows through evidence that songs of broadside origins are developed improved, localised and made more singable once they have been taken up by the people.
and on another current thread Jim writes -
I am suggesting that at one time working people actively participated in our culture and produced our songs as expressions of their lives, those songs were widely taken up, took rrot elsewhere adapted to suit different localities, ages and circumstances, during the course of which their authors were largely forgotten - thay are your folk songs - nothing to do with age, style or subject matter.
But nowhere does he offer any evidence to back this up and as Steve Gardham and I have written, Roud is an absolute stickler for evidence; if you can't show the reasons for a suggestion, then you should not make it.

One more point - another difference and here I am on dangerous ground fearing that it may be instigating a verbal firestorm such as appears in that other thread.
I wrote -
I was contrasting the approach of Steve Roud with those who bring a already developed socio-political agenda to their writings.
... and much as I agree with the majority of what I have learned of Jim's political views, I feel that he is someone who beings pre-formed views to these discussions and cannot back them up with the research findings that modern scholarship demands.


02 Nov 17 - 12:06 PM (#3886405)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

When I went to Steve Roud's presentation of his book at Sidmouth - I believe he clearly stated that his primary interest in a song is when and where is was performed in the voice of the singers.
Therefore It didn't matter what it's source was, it was the fact that is was sung over time, and possibly altered, to suit each singer, that most interested him - and that he considered these Folk Songs.
I am probably Paraphrasing very badly......but that was certainly my impression.

Tim Radford


02 Nov 17 - 12:46 PM (#3886416)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin

The only ones who have radically changed academic opinion have been the ones who have written that the position of women in the collecting work of the first has been seriously understated; they are producing plenty of evidence to support this. The interesting talk by Lizzie Bennett that I heard at a Traditional Song Forum meeting this year produced facts that this happened in Sussex and I had not heard this information before.

You could say the same about collectors much further afield. In Yiddish and Klezmer music, one of the most important collectors was Sofia Magid, who did some of the most important fieldwork ever despite being Jewish under Stalinism as well as female in patriarchal Russian academia. She was almost entirely unrecognized for it, but at least she managed to preserve her archive and not get sent to a labour camp or shot. We are only just beginning to explore what she left. Samples here:

https://yiddishsong.wordpress.com/tag/sofia-magid/


02 Nov 17 - 12:48 PM (#3886417)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"once a song has entered a local or national repertoire. "
Which can be said of any song (back to the Birdie song or the Welsh miner arias)
"Roud is an absolute stickler for evidence"
Not really - his statement that so many songs probably originated on broadsides is totally unqualified
I believe the evidence - ie - that working people did create their own songs - makes this unlikely
The broadside poets were notoriously bad songmakers so why make such a claim
If Bothy workers made their own songs and miners like Tommy Armstrong and Joe Corrie were rattling them off - not to mention the textile workers in Lancashire, the weaver poets of Scotland, Agricultural workers in Norfolk... et al, why should they not have made the folk songs?
Steve is writing in the 21st century - in the 19th century there wa no question that rural workers made the folksongs - Child dismissed the hacks as dunghills when the broadside trade was thriving.
What new evidence has emerged to prove the mid-nineteenth century writers didn't know what they were talking about?
None, as far as I can see.
WE don't know who wrote the folksongs so we are left to use our common sense based on what little information we have.
From your own words "Steve Roud once said to me a traditional folk song is a song sung by a folk singer. What a folk singer sings is traditional songs."
Joking or not, that is a circular statement - you need to define one before you can attribute anything to the other.
Maybe he was joking, but there are far too many people arguing this to ignore it.
Irish people produced songs which were sucked into local traditions immediately in their hundreds - why not English working people
An examination of the songs themselves imply far too great a familiarity with the subject matter and the use of vernacular, folklore, etc to be the work of outsiders.
Steve Gardham one suggested that English working people were far too bust earning a living to make songs - where did they get the time to adapt them and, more to the point, why bother when they were capable of making them themselves
As long as folksong scholarship has existed there have always been those ready to claim that folk songs are too good for the fool to have made - which leads us back to the old preobem - nobody ever bothered to consult them to find what they were capable of
Jim Carroll


02 Nov 17 - 01:07 PM (#3886420)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin

Maybe Roud explains this. Given that so much of the standard British song repertoire comes from known authors, why isn't their authorship better acknowledged?

In Turkish bardic song (roughly comparable in its position to the Child ballad corpus) the great majority of the repertoire was composed by known authors who are invariably recognized - ok, it helps that they usually worked their own names into the last verse, but that could been dropped or munged if singers had wanted to. So everybody knows which songs go back to Yunus Emre (contemporary with Chaucer) or Pir Sultan Abdal (contemporary with William Dunbar) - and there are many songs by both of them which are still sung regularly. In Anglo-Scottish song, Anon has staked out copyright to everything before Burns and most of what came after.


02 Nov 17 - 01:34 PM (#3886424)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

I don't think this explains much Jack
If Irish people composed their own songs, why not Brits?
If sections of the British population composed songs, why not all of them
Where did the knowledge and faamilirity come from among poor, urban-based writers (those are the ones Roud goes into)
Our knowledge dates only to the turn of the century when the traditions were very much on the wane
Jim Carroll


02 Nov 17 - 02:06 PM (#3886430)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

If - as Jim states - "Our knowledge dates only to the turn of the century when the traditions were very much on the wane"

Then - Why is he so certain that his 20th Century experiences in Ireland were reflected in 18th and 19th Century England?

At least Steve Roud has real physical evidence that Broadsides were written (by "Hacks") and printed in the earlier Centuries - but none that they were written by ordinary people.....

Tim Radford


02 Nov 17 - 02:26 PM (#3886433)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin

If Irish people composed their own songs, why not Brits?
If sections of the British population composed songs, why not all of them?


That misses the point - I wasn't talking about songs of mysterious popular origin. There are huge numbers of British and Irish songs which appeared on broadsides more than 200 years ago, and where the evolutionary evidence suggests a single source. In almost every case, where they are still sung, the singer doesn't know where they came from, despite their origin being knowable. While in other traditions that feat of collective memory is quite routine. How come the English forget so easily what the Turks almost invariably remember?


02 Nov 17 - 03:56 PM (#3886444)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Thought I'd dealt with that Jack
The broadside output runs contrary to the traditional repertoire in style and in quality - most of the published broadside collections are crammed full of unsingable songs - read Hollway and Black or Bagford or Ashton...
Literacy is peculiar anyway in terms of the country singers - certainly the ones we interviewed
Something in print is treated as fixed and sacrosanct
Singers have commented to us that songs they have bought are not to be trusted and have been rejected rather than altered
Harry Cox had a large collection of broadsides but he told Bob Thomson he never learned from them
Even the subject matter of the broadsides is iffy
If you read Hugill's Sailortown you will find that sailors as a whole were hated and feared (except maybe in wartime)
Yet here are all thise songs lamenting the hard life of a sailor or Jack coming ashore, pulling a string and having his way with the townies woman, or going into a gin-shop, smashing it up and stealing all the booze - heroes all
These ate class boasts about about 'our boys' coming out on top.
THe same with navvies - read the note to the song on the club thread I put up this morning - not much evidence of a 'Bold English Navvy' there.
Soldiers the same - the garrison towns weer no-go areas.
The folk songs throughout reflect a sympathy for and a knowledge of their subject matter that, in my opinion, is almost certainly based on an insiders view.
Even the ballads are made from the point of view of the 'lower classes' - the lame dog invariably getting the best of his better.
Some of the historical ones are downright seditious - not the stuff you peddled around the streets in the 18th century
If you have a chance, get hold of Alec Stewart telling traditional tales - the humour is the same as us much of the turn-of-phrase.
"Why is he so certain that his 20th Century experiences in Ireland were reflected in 18th and 19th Century England?"
Steve's point appears to be aimed at the 19th century repertoire - Steve Gardham is now insisting that his 90% refers to that time, though it appeared to cover everything at one time
When Sharp's gang were doing the rounds they were collecting material learned in the latter half of the 19th century and were insisting that their job was a race against the undertaker as the tradition was dying.
The Iris tradition lasted probably to the late 1940s and was still pretty active - singers we knew were remembering from a living tradition - the BBC was largely recording dead one.
The Irish Travellers tradition was very much alive to the middle of the seventies - their communities were virtually non-literate yet, as with the Scots Travellers, if you wanted the big ballads or narrative songs, that's where you went
We really don't know anything for certain, but the printed word appears not to feature in the making of traditional songs as far as I can see - borrowing from them maybe.
Jim Carroll


02 Nov 17 - 05:41 PM (#3886458)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin

By sheer fluke I read this today. In Hugh MacDiarmid's The Company I've Kept there is a conversation between him, John Ogdon and Ronald Stevenson about Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (who MacDiarmid knew very well for most of his life). Stevenson says this (thinking about the quotation of folk tunes by art music composers):
Dozens of phrases from Shakespeare have been absorbed into common parlance in Britain; the same can be said for Dante in Italy; the difference is that in Britain most people don't know it's Shakespeare they're quoting, whereas in Italy they do know it's Dante. A few years ago, on O'Connell Bridge in Dublin, an Irish tramp quoted Yeats to me. I said, 'Could you direct me to the Abbey Theatre, please?' and he replied, correcting me with kindly reproof, 'You mean Yeats's theatre'; and he proceeded to quote Yeats to me.


02 Nov 17 - 05:44 PM (#3886460)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

**the printed word appears not to feature in the making of traditional songs as far as I can see** And there we have it in a nutshell, Jim. Your opinion. Fine. I'll keep reposting this statement every 5 or 6 postings so that you don't have to. Is that okay with you?


02 Nov 17 - 06:48 PM (#3886473)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Walter Pardon learnt just about all of his songs from his Uncle Billy Gee who in turn learnt them from Walter's grandfather. Guess where Walter's grandfather got all his songs?


03 Nov 17 - 04:44 AM (#3886513)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Guess where Walter's grandfather got all his songs?"
Walter's grandfather was ain impoverished land worker who went to sea to feed his family and ended up with them in the workhouse - I doubt if he spent many pennies buying broadsides.
Walter said that there was no trace of his family ever learning songs from print - he never saw a broadside and the only evidence of a printed version of a song in his family horde was a version of 'Bonny Bunch of Roses', which Walter learned from hearing his uncle Tom sing
Walter never threw anything away - when he died, his house was full of boxes of papers going back two generations
He told us that he once saw a street singer in North Walsham, but he coudn't recall any of his songs.
Do you know something he never told us?

"Your opinion."
Which is the point I have been making all along - all this is just our opinion Steve - yours, mine, everyone else's - we have nothing to go on for it to be anything else.
It's why I don't make pronouncements and why I wish you didn't

"Dozens of phrases from Shakespeare have been absorbed into common parlance in Britain"
Which was a two-way street Jack
There are a number of books on our shelves linking the works of Shakespeare (son of a glove-maker) with the customs and practices of his time; 'Shakespeare's Puck and his Folkslore', William Bell (1852), 'Folklore of Shakespeare' T F Thiselton Dyer (1883), 'The Flora and Folk Lore of Shakespeare' F.R. Savage (1923) and 'Old Customs and Superstitions in Shakespeare Land', J Harvey Bloom (1929) ; all showing that Shakespeare constantly dipped into the peoples' culture for his inspiration.
The most comprehensive work, a large, two volume collection of essays by various authors, is 'Shakespeare's England (Oxford Union 19717), which deals with the lot, language, sports, fine arts, sciences... right through to music and broadsides.
That's why it's always struck me as irrational to attribute our culture to literary sources.

My paternal grandfather was one of the founders of the maritime section of The Working Mans' Association when he was at sea.
He bacame a Shakespeare nut and past the infection on to my father who passed it on to me.
He filled dozens on notebooks describing Shakespeare's works in down-to-earth North-of-England language
When he remarried and moved to Stoke on Trent, he was latched onto by a local college and invited on several occasions, to speak on his enthusiasm - in broad Scouse   
He also remembered a few shanties, which he had picked up from fellow seamen after they had gone out of use.
Jim Carroll


03 Nov 17 - 03:55 PM (#3886625)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

I think there must be 2 Walter Pardons from Knapton, Norfolk, Jim.

Quote from the one I'm referring to.

"Uncle Billy (Gee) was an outstanding fellow. He was born here in this house. I learned nearly all my songs off him; he was born in 1863. Most of the songs he got from my grandfather. My Uncle Tom at Bacton, he knew a lot, but they were different from what Billy's were.

Most of them come from the one man; he knew a hundred, my grandfather did.............................My grandfather got the songs from broadsheets, apparently that's how they were brought round, so they always told me."

There's a lot more detail in the interview but I think you get the flavour.


03 Nov 17 - 04:27 PM (#3886629)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

**we have nothing to go on**

I've been studying broadsides and other forms of commercial music from previous centuries for about 40 years now, Jim. How long and how intensively have you been studying them? Is there anywhere I can look at the results of your studies on them?


03 Nov 17 - 04:47 PM (#3886631)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

Steve - Where does the Walter Pardon quote about Broadsides come from?

eg - Who interviewed him and when...........I am not calling what you say into doubt - I just feel it should be referenced.

Tim Radford


03 Nov 17 - 05:09 PM (#3886634)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Sue Allan

I think you are making too much of the 'rural workers v broadside hacks' argument Jim, and so getting hot under the collar about it quite unnecessarily. It is not the straight dichotomy you are making out, but rather a fluid situation and a two-way street: songs were re-cycled in both directions, with broadside printers picking up on songs sung in the countryside by singers in pubs and so on and towns and printing them to circulate more widely, for profit, and country people learning songs from ballad singers who bought their supply of ballad sheets from the printers or stationers, and sang them at country fairs and market - and would also have picked up on other songs being sung to relay to the printers. Obviously the ballad singers and sellers tried to sell their sheets to whoever would buy, but some may just have listened. In rural Cumberland and Westmorland small printers in market towns were churning out broadsheets and chapbooks, and buying in from the larger urban printers. So it does seem to me that the situation is not black and white but very many shades of grey.


03 Nov 17 - 05:10 PM (#3886635)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jackaroodave

Tim may have a better reference, but here is one I found that you can easily check out. Apologies for butting in, but I was interested and thought I'd share.

"Quotations from Walter himself are taken mainly from transcriptions of conversations with Peter Bellamy (published in Folk Review, August 1974, pp.10-15) and Karl Dallas (published in Folk News, August 1977, pp.14-15)."

From http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/pardon2.htm


03 Nov 17 - 05:30 PM (#3886636)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

Thanks - That's pretty clear...........

Tim Radford


03 Nov 17 - 05:56 PM (#3886641)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

That is correct JD but I got them from the booklet that came with the Mustrad 2 CD set so basically the same source.

Hi, Sue.
Of course it was a two-way process and I have plenty of examples of broadside printings that obviously came from oral tradition that didn't survive to be collected from oral tradition. However, the earliest extant versions even of these are still found to have come from some literary source or from some urban commercial source. If we are talking about the English songs published as part of the general corpus I for one am convinced that the vast bulk originated in this way in urban areas, not rural. It is possible that some of the pedlars were also contributing to the corpus as 'collectors' but I've seen no evidence of this. Of course looked at from a more recent regional approach there are all sorts of songs that came from rural writers, but in my experience these songs very rarely made it into the national corpus for a variety of reasons. I'm sure you have plenty of examples of local folk songs in Cumbria but how many of these appear in the national corpus as published by the likes of Sharp, Broadwood, Baring-Gould, Kidson etc?


03 Nov 17 - 07:11 PM (#3886649)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST, Sue Allan

Hi Steve,
well I can think of just one off the top of my head - ?D?Ye Ken John Peel?, written by local person, became popular, went into print as broadside and in chapbooks (Fordyce, Newcastle) and then published in local book 1866, Stokoe &Reay 1893, National Song Book 1905 etc etc. Later collected from oral sources by eg Williams.
There are other regional songs which circulated in a similar way, which presumably you wouldn't include in ?the national corpus?, a term with which I am unfamiliar in the folk song context. I?m sure you?re right that proportionally more, possibly many more, songs originated in the pleasure gardens and theatres (not all urban: there were plenty of small companies doing ?rural touring?, albeit often advertising the latest songs from London) and the songs composed by working class & artisan class (skilled workers) singers and musicians at Harmonic Societies and Glee Clubs.
I?m puzzled by ?the national corpus? you refer too though as I?m not sure there really is such a thing: there are too many variables - eg regional songs which become national as opposed to those which do not, Scottish (more usually ?Scotch? in eighteenth century)songs which are in fact English for example, while those published by Sharp et al represent a relatively limited number of singers in a few selected locattions, eg in my area, none of the collectors who came here ever went to a hunt meets so missed out on 30% possible Cumbrian songs. Can of worms warning!!


03 Nov 17 - 08:51 PM (#3886663)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

I think there must be 2 Walter Pardons from Knapton, Norfolk, Jim.
I am not going to enter into debate about any contradictions there might be with walter only to say that we have him on tape rejecting the idea of broadsides being a part of the family reprtoire
I have the recordings Tim is referring to with Dallas.
This is what Walter told us about the situation his grandfather and family was in -

"?I think he swore at the old man. Anyone who answered back, you see, that was instant dismissal in them days then, this would be, I should think, in the early 1850s or even 1840s. He was given instant dismissal and no-one would employ him. My grandfather and his three sisters, he had to keep them and their mother. He?d got no money so he went to Yarmouth and went to sea, like Sam Larner did, you know, this trawling. My grandfather and his sisters and the mother had to go into Gimmingham Workhouse while he was away at sea, ?cause no-one would employ him. There?s a man told me that when his mother was a little girl, they all come past the house crying to think they had to go in the workhouse; she cried to see them cry. But father said my grandfather told him he liked it in the workhouse, it was warm and he was fed. Well, they?d have starved, workhouse or starve, so they went in there until he could come home with some money?.

"I've been studying broadsides and other forms of commercial music from previous centuries for about 40 years now, Jim"
And you have yet to produce one definite song they you can prove originated on a broadside
Pushing paper around a desk proves nothing Steve - as nobody ever got around to asking traditional singers about their songs, we have no information who made them
You have yet to address the fact that the output of the broadside hacks indicates that they were incapable of doing so
You seem to have abandoned your original argument that "hacks" meant something other than bad poets.
We were talking to and recording traditional singers for thirty years and we can prove categorically that from the middle of the nineteenth century, rural workers were prolific song-makers fully capable of making our folk songs - far more than the purveyors of bad verse that Cjild and his contemporaries wrote off as "dunghill" writers
"and so getting hot under the collar about it quite unnecessarily."
I'm afraid I can't agree Sue (I'm not getting hot under the collard, by the way - I was when my conclusion based on thirty years of work with traditional singers was dismissed as "romantic nonsense", but that passed when I found he was had no real evidence to back up what he said and put forward arguments like "English workers were too busy to make songs" - or that the large repertoire of locally composed songs were "the scribblings of retired people"....
Whether the people who have, up to now been credited with making folksongs, did make them is a pretty fundamental question - as far as I am concerned, such an important claim needs to be either proved or admitted to be no more than a theory without evidence
Steve has vacillated so much that it is difficult to keep up -
First it was "all folksongs" (based on centuries of repertoire covered by 'The Song Carriers - which is what prompted his "romantic nonsense" comment, then it went to only that collected at the beginning of the 20th century
I'm not quite sure where we are now
If Steve is right, we are back to the Phillips Barry dismissive comment that 'The folk' were incapable of composition and could only repeat what they hears
"Popular tradition, however, does not mean popular origin.....the ballad.... has sunk to the level of the folk which has the keeping of folklore. To put it in a single phrase, memory not invention is the function of the folk".
Taking the credit of making its songs from an entire class of people and putting it into that hands of notoriously bad writers is, as far as I am concerned, a serious business and needs to be proven beyond doubt
If working people were capable of making songs, logic tells me they probably made the folk songs - they were far to good and knowledgeable of their subject matter to be the work of shoddy Urban writers (they were the ones Roud described)
Jim Carroll


03 Nov 17 - 09:12 PM (#3886667)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE BOBBED HAIR
From: Jim Carroll

Just as an example, this is fairly typical of the songs that were being made in their several hundreds by rural workers within fifteen miles of this town in the 1930s - none ever appeared in print and the vast majority were anonymous
It appears to be the case that they were common throughout Ireland
It has been argued for some odd reason that Ireland was somehow different than England, bu the local repertoire here inluded large numbers of songs which probably originated in Britain, including a significant number of Child ballads still extant into the 1970s
Jim Carroll

The Bobbed Hair (Roud 3077) Tom Lenihan Knockbrack, Miltown Malbay
I feel depressed and sad tonight, my heart is filled with woe,
Since I met my Biddy darling when we parted long ago.
I remember when we parted how the sun came shining down
On that fair and handsome creature and her lovely locks of brown.

When I met her I was horrified, I could not understand
What made her locks so ugly now that once was sweet and grand.
I gazed in silent wonder, yes, I looked and looked again;
My heart near burst asunder when I found she had bobbed her hair.

I said: ?Biddy dear, what happened you, that you looked so neat and trim
The night we kissed and parted in the road near Corofin??
I asked why she had shorn her locks, she smiled and made a bow,
And the answer that she made was: ?Tis all the fashion now.?

Ah, to see my darling?s hair, too, it was a lovely sight,
And although ?tis hard to make me cry, I shed some tears that night.
Before we left I asked her how this bobbing first began,
?Some years ago,? she said, ?you know, ?twas done by Black and Tans!?

Farewell, dear Bid, I?m clear fed up, there is no bobbed hair for me.
Our partnership we must dissolve, I?m horrified to see,
The locks that nature gave to thee, oh, just for fashion?s sake
Clipped off, and now you neck is bare, like Paddy McGinty?s drake.

Of course I know the times have changed, but I?ll allow for that,
And shingled hair looks horrible beneath a nice new hat.
And why don?t fashions doff the shawl our grannys used to wear?
Some has done it still and always will but they have not bobbed their hair.

The ass brays in a strong protest and swears he will not move
And goats upon the mountains bleat that fashions may improve
The swallows are about to leave, no more we?ll see the hare
And stalks are burned with the blight since the women bobbed their hair.


04 Nov 17 - 04:11 AM (#3886690)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin

I don't see anything in Jim's quote from Walter Pardon that says his grandfather wouldn't have bought broadsides. They were cheap.


04 Nov 17 - 05:02 AM (#3886694)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Sue Allan

Apologies for all those question marks in my post: they were typed as inverted commas so not sure what happened there!


04 Nov 17 - 05:21 AM (#3886696)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin

You're on a machine running a recent version of Windows. They don't let you type an ASCII-standard straight quote sign (as you can on any other operating system, like the one I'm using). Instead, when you type ' on a keyboard attached to Windows, you get a curly-single-close-quote sign ’, which isn't ASCII and isn't recognized in HTML source by most browsers, so they display ? instead. Max hasn't yet got round to modifying Mudcat's text-entry code to keep track of Microsoft's incompetence.


04 Nov 17 - 05:38 AM (#3886698)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Jim wrote -
logic tells me they probably made the folk songs
You have been picked up on a similar block in your thinking by Steve G. so now it must be my turn.
You are misusing the word "logic" here. Logic requires carefully referenced structural argument. Logic is generally held to consist of the systematic study of the form of valid inference. A valid inference is one where there is a specific relation of logical support between the assumptions of the inference and its conclusion.

You haven't offered a single piece of historical reference to make the above statement. What you are talking about is what you "presume" to be the case; what you are describing is an "assumption" or even a "gut feeling". An unkind person might even call it "wishful thinking" but I wouldn't because that has pejorative overtones.

Jim wrote (03 Nov 17 - 04:44 AM)
It's why I don't make pronouncements and why I wish you didn't.
... but you do, Jim, you make them all the time and that is why you are challenged on them because they they do not have the rigour or evidence that modern academic research demands.


04 Nov 17 - 05:44 AM (#3886699)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"I don't see anything in Jim's quote from Walter Pardon that says his grandfather wouldn't have bought broadsides. THey were cheap"
To a family forced to living in a workhouse, nothing was cheap, Jack, certainly nothing as unnecessary as songsheets
I checked what Walter actually said about broadsides - can't find the reference to his saying his family never bought them, but what he did say was that none of their "folk songs" ever came from them - walter was extremely specific as to what he thought were folksongs
We went through his repertoire with him once and listed those he regardd as not being folksongs.
This is what he dismissed - some of them undoubtedly are from broadsisdes
Naughty Jemmy Brown
Old Brown?s Daughter
Marble Arch
One Cold Morning in December
Peggy Band
Ship That Never Returned
Skipper and his Boy
Suvlah Bay
The Steam Arm
Traampwoman?s Tragedy
Two Lovely Black Eyes
The Wanderer
We?ve Both Been Here Before
When The Fields Were White With Daisies
When You Get Up in the Morning
Wreck of the Lifeboat
Write Me a Letter from Home
All Among the Barley
As I Wandered by the Brookside
Balaclava
Black Eyed Susan
Bright Golden Store
British Man of War
Cock a Doodle Doo
A Country Life
Faithful Sailor Boy
Generals All
Grace Darling
Grandfather?s Clock
Help one Another Boys
The Huntsman
I Traced Her Footprints
I?ll Come Back to you Sweetheart
I?ll Hang my Harp
I?m Yorkshire, Though In London
Irish Molly
I Wish They?d Do It
Shamrock Rose and Thistle
Lads in Navy Blue
Miner?s Return
Mistletoe Bough
More Trouble in my Native Land
He was not sure about Farmer's Boy which, he said had been ?Written by someone who didn?t know the difference between wheat and barley".

Mike Yates once wrote an article pointing out, rightly, that traditional singers sang songs other than folk songs
I responded with this - A FOLKSONG - BY ANY OTHER NAME (article 41)
That remains my view
Jim Carroll


04 Nov 17 - 05:51 AM (#3886700)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jack Campin

Jack Campin: No ... I typed my post on my ipad!!


04 Nov 17 - 05:52 AM (#3886701)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"The Dandy Man" seems to have gone astray from that list
Jim Carroll


04 Nov 17 - 06:30 AM (#3886702)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Sue Allan

Even weirder ... my last post re. ipad says it's from Jack Campin! what on earth is going on here?! Definitely put Sue Allan in box so it should have said guest Sue Allan (forgotten password to reset cookie).


04 Nov 17 - 06:32 AM (#3886703)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derrick

I broadly share the views of Sue Allan in her post of 03nov 11 07pm.
I think songs and tunes were composed by all levels of society from the humblest to the higher echelons.
They moved in all directions and were picked up by performers who took a fancy to them.
Some of the material remained much as the original and others changed to the taste of the performer or his audience.
With regard to the quality of the songs,a farm worker could easily have had a better use of words than a bad broadside writer or vice versa.
The argument as to who had the most influence depends on the the opinion of the commentator,whose views will be shaped by what he or she thinks is most important.
No one today knows exactly what happened in the past,the only evidence we have is snapshots of the time,what the collectors chose to record.
What they chose to leave out of their collections and the explanatory notes.


04 Nov 17 - 07:07 AM (#3886709)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

I am with Sue in this, seeing shades of grey more than black and white.

I also feel that Jim and Steve are to some extent at cross purposes, arguing about different subsets of the thousands of songs that have existed in England. Jim has ample evidence of "the folk" in Ireland making new songs about current events up until modern times and surmises that the folk in England were surely capable of the same, at least around 200 years ago if not more recently. However a large proportion of such songs in Ireland spread only locally and were collected only if someone happened to go collecting in that locality. The same seems very likely in England. So, however many songs were genuinely made by ploughboys, milkmaids, weavers, etc, few of them ever reached Sharp, Baring-Gould and co unless at some point they found their way into print and thus got more widely disseminated. Likewise all of us would surely agree that a large proportion of broadsides were pretty poor stuff, were actually sung by the folk only briefly if at all, and were never collected.

The songs that are of interest are those that were sung for at least a few decades, in some cases centuries, from when they were first made. These include the classic corpus from the collectors a hundred-odd years ago. (Opinions differ as to whether more recent ones, for example from the music hall, deserve the label "folk", but certainly the folk have sung some of them.)

Sticking to that classic corpus, the earliest evidence of most of them is in print, and some of them were certainly written for the stage or the pleasure gardens by the likes of Dibden. Who wrote most of them will never be known for certain. Jim would like to attribute a lot of them to the folk, largely on the basis of internal evidence of expert knowledge of the subjects addressed. Others attribute the bulk of them to "hacks" largely on the basis of style.

One of the most beautiful songs is the Coppers' A Shepherd of the Downs. It can hardly be disputed that that song derived from The Shepherd Adonis (rather than the other way round), but someone changed it along the way, greatly improving it. And yet in the last verse there appears the phrase "we hear", which is quite superfluous to the story and serves only to satisfy the metre and provide a rhyme. Roud says (on page 307) that that last verse "appears nowhere else". It is very unlikely that evidence will ever emerge of who exactly wrote that verse, but whoever did so borrowed that phrase from umpteen other songs. A broadside hack or a Sussex Shepherd?


04 Nov 17 - 07:48 AM (#3886717)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

I have no problem with most of your points Richard
The evidence of workers making song in Britain throughout the 19th century; the Chartist newspapers ran weekly columns by weaverts et al which are still accessible in Manchester Central Library
I seem to remember Stave conceding that The Bothie workers made their own songs without the aid of print.
The BBC even recorded Scots women in the Hebrides making songs on the spot extolling the sexual virtues of Alan Lomax.
Song Making continued right into the twentieth century with miners like Joe Corrie, who is, I believe on par with the Irish local songmakers
What made Ireland stick out as a songwriting nation was its 'over-abundance of history' - events like The Famine, the mass evictions, the enforced emigrations and the fight for national freedom demanded that songs were made, both in print and orally - this happened in every County in Ireland, North and South
Can I just remake my point as to why I believe the question of who made our songs to be an important point
In a couple of weeks time, Pat and I are speaking to Galway Uni students on the conclusions we drew from our collecting in Ireland
We intend to finish with this on locally made songs

"To bring this a little nearer home, following the Famine, the emigrations and the mass evictions, in the 1870s, when the British government decided to break up estates owned by absentee landlords and redistribute the land into Irish hands, some areas, particularly Clare, Limerick and parts of Galway objected to the way this was done, claiming that already wealthy farmers with large farms were being given the largest portions.
The most popular form of protest adopted was the 'cattle raid'; cattle would be stolen from the wealthiest farms, stampeded through the larger towns accompanied by the rustlers, shouting and blowing on horns and then let loose on large stretches of open lands, The Burren, in North Clare being a favourite spot
The official protests were abandoned around 1911, but in some places continued to Independence and beyond and these actions gave rise to a number of songs We were given this by Clare man, Michael 'Straighty Flanagan' he called it 'The Graziers'; Patrick Galvin included it in his 'Songs of Irish Resistance' as 'The Grazier Tribe'

Eg 10 ?Michael 'Straighty' Flanagan The Graziers

This brings us to probably the most important discovery we made throughout our collecting activities, local songs.   
Apart from the general repertoire, West Clare singers had a wealth of home-made songs, largely anonymous, dealing with local events, people or aspects of daily life and quite often made during the lifetimes of the singers. Only a couple, as far as we could find, had made it into print. We?re not referring to songs from the national repertoire which has had local place-names tagged onto them; these are common enough, but the home-grown compositions which have seldom taken root elsewhere because of their specifically parochial nature, quite often disappearing when the cause of their inspiration faded from memory.
These songs included many aspects of life, from everyday experience to national events viewed locally. As one 94 year old singer told us, ?In those days, if a man farted in church somebody made a song about it.
This is a song, almost certainly made in Corofin, North Clare some time in the 1930s, commenting on a new hairstyle; the singer is Tom Lenihan of Miltown Malbay.

Eg 11 Tom Lenihan The Bobbed Hair

We have recorded a number of such local songs and have been made aware of many more ? back in the 1970s a book entitled 'Ballads of Clare' edited by Sean Killeen was published containing 147 of these songs originating in East Clare. Some casual enquiries suggest that songs such as these were once common all over Ireland and have been largely neglected or have disappeared from the repertoires because of their parochial and ephemeral nature. The implication of the existence of these songs is extremely significant
Since the early days there has been a running argument as to whether the ?ordinary? people were capable of making our Classic ballads. Now, this idea has spread to our songs, with suggestions that 90% plus of them originated on the broadside presses and this questions the entire concept of rural song making
We believe that working people were natural song makers who found it necessary to put their feeling and experiences into verse, for entertainment certainly, but the subject matter and the time in which they were made makes them essential pieces of our history
For instance, over forty years ago we got this next song from several Travellers, all of whom asked that we don?t make it public as the couple in the song were still very much alive at the time; we've respected those wishes up to now but feel that all concerned, the couple and the singers, are now long dead, so there?s no harm in playing it on occasions such as these
The singer here, blind Travelling woman, Mary Delaney, told us laughing, "Paddy's my cousin and he?d murder me if he found I'd sung it to you" The song deals with ?made matches, marriage done through a matchmaker; such songs are to be found throughout the oral tradition, some about willing marriages, but most about enforced ones. The woman in the song was chosen because of her skill at one of the traditional Traveller trades of the time, buying, cleaning and re-selling old feather mattresses. We got the background of the song from our friend, Kerry Traveller, Mikeen McCarthy, who was present when the song was made. He said it was made on the morning of the wedding by a group of Traveller lads sitting on a grassy bank outside the church humorously predicting how the marriage taking place would end up

Eg 12 Mary Delaney Paddy McInerney"

Jim Carroll


04 Nov 17 - 08:21 AM (#3886722)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

Richard Mellish wrote:
"So, however many songs were genuinely made by ploughboys, milkmaids, weavers, etc, few of them ever reached Sharp, Baring-Gould and co unless at some point they found their way into print and thus got more widely disseminated."

This is a really important point. Phil Tanner sang 'Henry Martin' and Sam Larner 'The Lofty Tall Ship', both excellent variants of a single song, interestingly different melodically and textually, but strongly similar as well (Cecil would have called that 'Continuity versus Variation').

It beggars belief that the song would have been known at locations 350 miles apart simply by travelling along some rural grapevine, and indeed there are numerous 19th century printings. Though how the melody kept the same form at that degree of separation, without the help of print, is the really interesting question.


04 Nov 17 - 09:18 AM (#3886726)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,uniformitarianist

Do those who make an academic study of these things have anything similar to the geologists concept of "uniformitarianism"?

If so the recent evidence that those at the 'humblest' levels of society do write songs allows us to ask "do we have any evidence that 'ploughboys, milkmaids, weavers, etc, ' didn't write songs?" rather than having a strict requirement for evidence that they did.


04 Nov 17 - 09:25 AM (#3886727)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"along some rural grapevine"
Not sure how much of a mystery this is Brian
Sam described stopping off at various ports as a trawlerman and taking part in singing competitions
These songs didn't necessarily have to travel by land.
Navvies also played a part in their transmission
I attended a talk given by Peter Cook once where he discussed the richness of the oral tradition in Aberdeenshire, particularly in relation to the Greig collection
He projected a 19th century map of the area onto a screen and then superimposed a plan of all the railways, roads and canals being worked on at the time
I don't know about the rest of the audience, but it impressed me
Jim Carroll


04 Nov 17 - 09:48 AM (#3886731)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

The simplest answer to your question, Brian, is that one of the ways these ballads were disseminated over large distances is that the pedlars who travelled great distances always carried a stock of broadsides and songsters with the rest of their wares. Of course we cannot discount migratory workers as well. We have much less information about how the melodies travelled for obvious reasons. The normal street/market ballad sellers of course sang the songs to their buyers but by and large these didn't travel great distances.


04 Nov 17 - 10:03 AM (#3886733)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Sue,
In answer to your comment re English national folksong corpus. This is something some of us use to describe that great body of published anthologies from about 1890 up to WWII. Whilst this has a massive southern bias, this is a useful body for us to study and comment on, and it is this body of material that I have always referred to when presenting my percentages (fact: 89% earliest manifestation in urban commercial material, opinion: 95% originated in this way.)

**the classic corpus from the collectors a hundred-odd years ago** a quote from Richard's post above, for example.

Of course much more material has come to light since those collections were published, a lot of it of a local nature. Some would argue that 'D'ye ken John Peel' nowadays fits far better into the genre of 'national song or community song' rather than 'traditional folk song' which it undoubtedly is. How many people outside the hunting fraternity would know more than the chorus for instance?

You mention the hunt suppers and the distinct repertoires involved. As you know from our recent conversations I am very aware of these and the fact that in some areas they are indeed flourishing whereas in others the locals have lost interest and their singers are now very much part of the folk scene.


04 Nov 17 - 10:16 AM (#3886738)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"The simplest answer to your question, Brian, i"
That thn an "answer", this suggests that both oral and print transission are viable options
Jim Carroll


04 Nov 17 - 10:31 AM (#3886740)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

They're not just viable options, they are the only options. Don't really understand what you are trying to say, Jim. I think you mean 'transmission' rather than 'transition', and no-one is arguing with this or indeed could.


04 Nov 17 - 10:33 AM (#3886741)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Brian Peters wrote
It beggars belief that the song would have been known at locations 350 miles apart simply by travelling along some rural grapevine

Last Saturday I sang MacDonald's Return To Glencoe in a folk club; the same twelve verses exactly the lyrics, if not the great ability to put over a song, that I had recorded from the great Davy Stewart in 1972. One of my enduring memories of that meeting with him was asking him to write his name and address for me and handing him my notebook and a pen and my acute embarrassment as the pen hovered over the paper, he said to me, "Ye'd better write it oot yersel'. laddie, I ha'nae got ma specs wi'me." (He was wearing them at the time). I still blush when I think of that 45 years later. He then chanted out his Possil Park, Glasgow address for me.
Afterwards, I thought to myself that I had found something very important, a 12 verse broken token ballad from a man who could not read and write! The oral tradition at work!
Later again I thought of two lines that Davy had sung:-
Like she whom the prize of Mount Ida had won,
There approached a fair lassie as bright as the sun....."

Something about those lines stuck out like a sore thumb. I wondered if some minor poet/broadside hack had been at those lines. They were very different from other ways the start of the story appears in other broken token ballads.

Decades later I was at the Take 6 project was being launched at Cecil Sharp House. When was that? Something like 6 years ago? This was the pilot project that EFDSS had for digitising the collections of all the great collectors. One of the speakers at the launch - Malcolm Taylor? Steve Roud? (more likely) had said that one of the first six collectors in that pilot group had collected songs in Portsmouth Workhouse. My ears pricked up. That old workhouse building was now part of St. Mary's Hospital and I had ridden past it on my bike every day in the seven years of my secondary education. As soon as I got home I did an internet search for George Gardiner + Portsmouth and it appears that this had been something of a treasure trove of old songs, but what was this? To my surprise there was MacDonald's Return To Glencoe notated in the first few years of the 20th century and give or take a few words it was identical to the version that I had recorded from the man whose by-name amongst the Scots Travellers was 'the Galoot'.
The Portsmouth version also had 12 verses and included the lines I quote above.

My interest in the song re-kindled by singing it for the first time in while in public for quite a few years, I did an internet search for it. One of the references that the search found was from The County Clare Library. Now for those of you who don't know, one of the things that this library does is to share on its website/database the material collected by a number of important song collectors in the west of Ireland. My link takes you to an article, The Long Song Singer: Martin Reidy of Tullaghaboy 1901-1985 by Tom Munnelly.
Tom writes about Martin
His spartan cottage is just off the road from Connolly to Lisroe in West Clare. In this cottage he was born and reared. He spent all his long life there, a solitary bachelor eking out a living on his mountain farm after his parents had departed this world and the other members of the family had scattered to the four winds. Not that Martin was discontented with such a life, for he had little inclination to travel beyond his immediate environs except perhaps to walk his cattle to the fairs in Ennis or maybe go for a pint and do some shopping in Connolly. His disinterest in the world beyond his mountain was such that he never even travelled the twenty-odd miles to the mating Mecca of Lisdoonvarna in all his years.

Tom goes on to quote that same song in the version he collected from this isolated informant.
Tom only got nine verses from Martin (Vic writes showing his smug side) but they again include the two lines that I quote above. This makes me share the opinion expressed by the worthy Mr. Peters that this "beggars belief" that this travelled between these three different locations in time and location without the aid of print.
I go to the Roud Broadside Index and search for this song and find quite a number of references to it.


04 Nov 17 - 11:03 AM (#3886745)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

Vic - The version song collected by Gardiner - ie. MacDonald's Return To Glencoe, was collected in Portsmouth Workhouse from Charles Bateman who was born in Ireland............

Tim Radford


04 Nov 17 - 11:14 AM (#3886749)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

A lot of old matelots from all over when they left the Royal Navy settled in Posrtsmouth after they left, especially the ones who had signed up for the maximum 27 years, they had nothing to back to their home area for.


04 Nov 17 - 11:24 AM (#3886750)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"this "beggars belief" that this travelled between these three different locations in time and location without the aid of print."
Not only did Martin not make it to Lisdoonvarna, but he only made the market town of Ennis, about five miles away, a few times in his long life.
When he was 'discovered' by the revival he was taken to sing at the Cork Folk Festival - he stepped out of the car on the main street, looked wonderingly up and down and declared it to be 'a grand bit of a village'
He sang the longest song we ever recorded - 'The True Lover's Discussion', lsting over 15 minutes
He once told us that "I wouldn't give you tuppence for a short song"
As Tom Munnelly points out, the song was widely popular throughout Scotland and Ireland among country singers - it is as likely as not that it was carried into Ireland by the Northern singers and made its way down the country.
Martin learned his version as a child but he could never remember where he got it.
His area, Tullochaboy, on the higher slopes of Mount Callan, was once a rich hunting ground for singers and storytellers.
Jim Carroll


04 Nov 17 - 11:39 AM (#3886752)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Should read:
" it is as likely as not that it was carried into Ireland by the Northern singers who travelled to Scotland regularly to pick potatoes 'The tattie howkers'
Jim Carroll


04 Nov 17 - 11:48 AM (#3886754)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" think you mean 'transmission' "
I do - I assume spell checker did that
I'm trying to say that oral transmission is as likely as print for that particular song, particularly considering the sitances
The coastal trade between Yarmouth and Swansea was a far more likely rout that the peddlers, when you consider a 'long rout' for a peddler was considered the one from Birmingham to the South East which would involve a trip lasting three and a half months for a trader plying his wares - according to the PDF covering 19th century trade
Jim Carroll


04 Nov 17 - 11:51 AM (#3886755)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jackaroodave

"Like she whom the prize of Mount Ida had won,
There approached a fair lassie as bright as the sun....."

This goes way back in oral transmission: The prize was the Apple of Discord awarded by Paris to Aphrodite, precipitating the Trojan War. According to Wikipedia, Mount Ida goes back beyond Homer, figuring in pre-Olympian Greek myth.


04 Nov 17 - 11:59 AM (#3886756)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

it is as likely as not that it was carried into Ireland by the Northern singers who travelled to Scotland regularly to pick potatoes 'The tattie howkers'

It is a well-established fact that Scots songs travelled to Ireland since the time of the Cromwell planters; there is much evidence for this. It is also very interesting the way that the songs changed during that journey - the way that The Auld Beggarman becomes The Lame Poor Poor Man for instance.
What is much more difficult to go along with is that a multiplicity of collected versions refer to the Mountain of the Goddess in Greek Mythology - Mount Ida in Crete - and the prize that was won there and that this was not changed in the mouths of the people without reference to print.


04 Nov 17 - 12:00 PM (#3886757)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

Again Vic Smith - Bateman in the 1891 Census was a Dock Labourer living in Warlington Street and again in 1901 was a Grocer's Porter, again in Warblington Street (next door to 1891 address - not far from the Dockyard) - so was possibly not a sailor - unless he served in the Navy and then took shore jobs later. He was born in Cork circa 1847.

Tim Radford


04 Nov 17 - 12:14 PM (#3886761)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Greek mythology is fairly common in Irish song Vic
Paddy Tunney, whose mother Brigid, also sings the song (as he does) with the same "Mount Ida" reference, put it down to the Hedge Schoolmasters who set up clandestine schools under the most repressive periods of English rule
They taught the classics to Irish peasant kids which fed into the songs made such references commonplace, so wherever it started out, there wwas no reason to rationalise it.
I don't know if you've had our Irish singer friend, Oliver Mulligan at your club, but his wife, Susan, a Greek Scholar, used to curl me up when she'd ask him to sing 'The Dung Beetle Song', referring to 'Sheila Nee Iyer' which mentions Sisyphus - a Greek mythological character who gave his name to the insect.
Jim Carroll


.


04 Nov 17 - 12:38 PM (#3886767)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jackaroodave

I know SFA about it, but does such convoluted syntax often appear in folk compositions? The long prefatory adjective clause, followed by the subject-verb inversion (and shouldn't it be "like her who"?) sound rather genteel to me, dare I say it, like something a hack might write?

But as I say, I have no idea. Please enlighten me. Thanks


04 Nov 17 - 12:46 PM (#3886768)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Vic,
'Donald's Return to Glencoe' was very widely printed on broadsides all over the British Isles and even in America, but none of these have more than 11 stanzas. None of these are any earlier than 1800, in fact I'd guess a date of origin of about 1825 based on the many printers and the content of the ballad.


04 Nov 17 - 12:57 PM (#3886769)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

I'll stop lurking and make a few comments:

First, I dislike the term "hacks" .. it's a disparaging term. Broadside poets is a better description I feel, and more accurately describes what they did. Yes, they got paid... so did Wordsworth. Some of them were good poets, some were not.

Second, just because a song was collected from a singer who could not read, or who was uncomplimentary about broadsides, does not mean that somewhere further back in the transmission process, a broadside had not been used - either as a source, or as an aide memoire.

Third, it is logical to me (!) that some singers wrote songs. As has been suggested, if these remained local, there was less chance that the collectors heard and noted them, even if some other members of the community learned and sang them. In a slightly more literate environment (such as industrial Lancashire) the authors might be known, the songs might be published and so the song collectors dismissed the songs (or didn't even bother going there because it was industrial not rural).

Fourth, whatever the source of the song, it is what happened to it in oral transmission that interests (most of) us. The way the words were re-crafted (or indeed stayed the same), the way the tune was added, adapted, varied ...

Fifth, no-one is disputing the existence of the songs collected by Jim and Pat in Ireland - recently written songs. Thank goodness Jim and Pat are there to record them. An equivalent in England would be the hunting songs of Cumbria and elsewhere. It's a pity that the latter context is politically incorrect!

I'll go and watch some fireworks now...

Derek


04 Nov 17 - 01:36 PM (#3886774)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

First, I dislike the term "hacks"
I'm sure they weren't happy about it either Derek, but it was a common reference to their bad poetry as far back as you care to go
Singers may well have learned them or filled in texts with them, but this is no indication that the songs originated on them

One of the problems of knowing what went on in the minds of both the collectors and the singers regarding the local songs is that they went around asking for 'the old songs' and while they my have passed into a local singing tradition (we recorded many that did, such as 'The Wreck of the Leon' - see Clare Library website), they could not be described as 'old'
Mary Delaney complicated this by refusing to sing thirty year old Country and Western songs but was happy to describe as "old" a Travellers song that had been made a year earlier - presumably she was judging them by style rather than Age

As far as I'm concerned everything about both the making and the transmission of the songs is equally important - whether working people were capable of composing hangs on the question of whether they made the songs - an incredibly important question
I and many others have always gone with the idea that, if you wanted to know the nuts and bolts of sea battles, you would go to the naval records, if you wanted to know how it felt for a land worker to be pressed into the navy and be stuck in the middle of a bloody battle, the only way you'll find that out is through the songs

There's an interesting point regarding this in the Bothy songs, a number of which refer to the farm-hand having served at sea (ie 'Scranky Black Fairmer' and 'The Lothian Hairst'.
One of the practices of humane sea captains sailing into Aberdeen or other Eastern seaports at the time of war was to allow some of the crew to land up the coast from the ports in order to avoid the Press Gangs
Many of these who had no families would look for work in the farms on the way, especially around harvest-time - insider knowledge

"But as I say, I have no idea. Please enlighten me. Thanks"
Vernacular speech Jack - the folk songs are structured around local and county accents
The problems with the broadsides is not that they are ungrammatical but they are blocky and ungainly - they lack the reality of relaxed, everyday speech and sound 'forced' and false - they don't lie on the tongue easily.
Jim Carroll


04 Nov 17 - 01:52 PM (#3886776)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jackaroodave

"The problems with the broadsides is not that they are ungrammatical but they are blocky and ungainly - they lack the reality of relaxed, everyday speech and sound 'forced' and false - they don't lie on the tongue easily."


In other words, not unlike

"Like she whom the prize of Mount Ida had won,
There approached a fair lassie as bright as the sun....."

with its hifalutin syntax and hypercorrection?


04 Nov 17 - 02:31 PM (#3886780)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

""Like she whom the prize of Mount Ida had won,
There approached a fair lassie as bright as the sun.....""
It's quite possible that that particular song is the work of either an Irish or Scots Gaelic poet that has been absorbed into the tradition
As I said, the Irish repertoire has a number of such songs Paddy Tunney specialised in them
That language is not common to folk songs
Jim Carroll


04 Nov 17 - 03:00 PM (#3886783)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

'Tom?s ? Canainn' of the group, Na Fili was the real expert on these 'hedge school' songs
What little I know of them came from a talk he once gave at Loughborough
What gives this particular song its traditional flavour is the fact that it is a 'broken token' song, where a soldier or sailor returns from the wars and chats up a former lover who does not recognise him -
He produces half ring they had bronken in two on his departure to prove his identity
I never understood how you could break a gold ring in two and always pictured a feller wandering around the countryside looking for women with a hacksaw hanging from his belt, until Pat came up with this fascinating 'insider information'. I've never seen it referenced elsewhere
Jim Carroll

"Lady in Her Father's Garden - Peggy McMahon undated
See also: 'Lady in Her Father's Garden' Tom Lenihan Recorded at singer's home, July 1980
This is probably one of the most popular of all the 'broken token' songs, in which parting lovers are said to break a ring in two, each half being kept by the man and woman. At their reunion, the man produces his half as a proof of his identity.
Robert Chambers, in his Book of Days, 1862-1864, describes a betrothal custom using a 'gimmal' or linked ring:
'Made with a double and sometimes with a triple link, which turned upon a pivot, it could shut up into one solid ring... It was customary to break these rings asunder at the betrothal which was ratified in a solemn manner over the Holy Bible, and sometimes in the presence of a witness, when the man and woman broke away the upper and lower rings from the central one, which the witness retained. When the marriage con?tract was fulfilled at the altar, the three portions of the ring were again united, and the ring used in the ceremony'.

ILLUSTRATION

The custom of exchanging rings as a promise of fidelity lasted well into the nineteenth century in Britain and was part of the plot of Thomas Hardy?s 'Far From The Madding Crowd'.
These 'Broken Token' songs often end with the woman flinging herself into the returned lover's arms and welcoming him back
Tipperary Travelling woman, Mary Delaney who also sang it for us, knew it differently and had the suitor even more firmly rejected:

"For it's seven years brings an alteration,
And seven more brings a big change to me,
Oh, go home young man, choose another sweetheart,
Your serving maid I'm not here to be."

Ref: The Book of Days, Robert Chambers, W & R Chambers, 1863-64.
Other CDs: Sarah Anne O'Neill - Topic TSCD660; Daisy Chapman - MTCD 308; Maggie Murphy - Veteran VT134CD."


04 Nov 17 - 03:28 PM (#3886789)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'blocky and ungainly' indeed and in most cases oral tradition has improved on this. However in their own time they were immensely popular judging by the numbers that were sold. I wonder why.


04 Nov 17 - 03:43 PM (#3886792)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

Can I remind everyone this thread is called "Folk Song in ENGLAND" -

I asked Steve a question at Sidmouth about the situation in Ireland - and he said - Ireland is different - This book is about ENGLAND..............

Just saying..........

Tim Radford


04 Nov 17 - 05:08 PM (#3886805)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin

Robert Chambers, in his Book of Days, 1862-1864, describes a betrothal custom using a 'gimmal' or linked ring:
'Made with a double and sometimes with a triple link, which turned upon a pivot, it could shut up into one solid ring... It was customary to break these rings asunder at the betrothal which was ratified in a solemn manner over the Holy Bible, and sometimes in the presence of a witness, when the man and woman broke away the upper and lower rings from the central one, which the witness retained. When the marriage con?tract was fulfilled at the altar, the three portions of the ring were again united, and the ring used in the ceremony'.


There is a kind of linked wedding ring from Turkey (and maybe other places) which has several links in a puzzle-like arrangement. The folklore explanation is that women are supposed to be too stupid to reassemble them if they take them off to have an affair. If the husbands really believed that, their wives would be playing the field en masse.

Chambers must have been talking about rather wealthy people.


05 Nov 17 - 03:30 AM (#3886846)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Chambers must have been talking about rather wealthy people."
Chambers's article extends the practice to the rings sold at country fairs which were crudely riveted together and the two separate pieces deliberately scratched by the lovers so that when they were compared, they corresponded as proof of the promise
It has been suggested that the 'token' given to Fanny by Sergeant Troy in 'Far From the Madding Crowd', and which was discovered by him in her coffin was such a device
It was an ol custom, the earlier rings being somewhat elaborate, but later adapted for the poor.
You used to be able to buy quite nece reproductions in shops like 'Pat Times'
I had a friend in Manchester who used to wear a three-part Arabic one.
"This book is about ENGLAND"
At the time these songs were being made Ireland was still very much a part of the British Empire Tim
Steve has used thie excuse that "Ireland was different" a number of times, but the two song traditions correspond more than they diverge and there are many examples of English and Scottish songs that have turned up from Irish field singers
Three years ago we recorded a version of 'The Girl With a Box on her Head' from a 95 year-old farmer living a few miles from here
He also gave us, Katherine Jaffery', The Keach in the Creel,v and a stunning version of Lord Bateman
Other songs we recorded from this area include The Cruel Mother, The Banks of Sweet Dundee, The Crabfish, The Blind Beggar, Young Roger (The Grey Mare), The Frog and the Mouse.....
In reference to 'The Demon Lover' Child recommended that researchers should seek further information in Ireland - a version of it turned up in Roscommon in 1983
Ireland in the first half of the 20th century presented a mirror image of English rural life must have been half a century or so earlier and the 8 centuries of colonial interference and commerce left an indelible footprint on the culture.
As Peter Cook described in his talk, that process was a two-way one
If we don't have the information required to reach a conclusion on our songs in Britain, it seems to me logical that we use what is on hand elsewhere (Britain's nearest neighbour seems a pretty fair alternative)
To ignore Ireland in a study of our songs is as illogical as ignoring Sandinavia when it comes to our ballads
Jim Carroll

This is Tom Munnelly's list of Ballads he collected, still extant in Ireland between 1969 and 1985 - we added Famous Flower of Serving Men to the list   
THE ELFIN KNIGHT
LADY ISABEL AND THE ELF-KNIGHT                                                
LORD RANDAL (Appendix: BILLY BOY)                                                EDWARD                                                                        
THE CRUEL MOTHER                                                                 THE MAID AND THE PALMER                                                         THE TWA MAGICIANS                                                                 CAPTAIN WEDDERBURN'S COURTSHIP                                         
THE TWA BROTHERS                                                                YOUNG BEICHAN                                                                
DIVES AND LAZARUS (Appendix: RYE-ROGER-UM)                                YOUNG HUNTING                                                                 
LORD THOMAS AND FAIR ANNET                                                 
FAIR MARGARET AND SWEET WILLIAM                                         
LORD LOVEL                                                                        THE LASS OF ROCH ROYAL                                                         SWEET WILLIAM'S GHOST                                                         1
BONNY BARBARA ALLAN                                                            PRINCE ROBERT                                                                 2
BONNY BEE HOM (Appendix: THE LOWLANDS OF HOLLAND)                        7
LAMKIN                                                                        4
THE MAID FREED FROM THE GALLOWS (Appendix: THE STREETS OF DERRY)
WILLIE O WINSBURY                                                                 THE BAFFLED KNIGHT                                                         THE GYPSY LADDIE                                                                         GEORDIE                                                                        THE BRAES OF YARROW                                                                 KATHRINE JAFFRAY                                                                         THE SUFFOLK MIRACLE                                                                 OUR GOODMAN                                                                GET UP AND BAR THE DOOR                                                                 THE JOLLY BEGGAR                                                                         THE KEACH I? THE CREEL                                                                 THE SWEET TRINITY                                                                        THE BROWN GIRL. (Appendix: SALLY THE QUEEN)                                 

ADDITIONAL CHILD BALLADS RECORDED BY OTHER COLLECTORS IN IRELAND.
THE FALSE KNIGHT ON THE ROAD
LORD RANDAL
BONNIE ANNIE
TAM LIN
THE CHERRY TREE CAROL
JOHNNY SCOTT
JAMES HARRIS OR THE DAEMON LOVER
THE GREY COCK
THE FARMER'S CURST WIFE
JOHN OF HAZELGREEN

Sorry about the state of the list - can't get them any straighter


05 Nov 17 - 03:51 AM (#3886850)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"blocky and ungainly' indeed and in most cases oral tradition has improved on this. "
You cannot possibly prove which way around this happened and it is ingenuous to suggest that you can
There were many broadsides sold but very few if any examples of them being sung widely - by Roud's description, it was an Urban occupation anyway.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating - look in Bagford or Roxborough or Ashton or Ensworth or Euing or Hindley.... they are overwhelmingly bad songs - that's why their authors fully earned the derogatory title of "hacks"
You may as well claim that William McGonagall wrote the Child Ballads.
Jim Carroll


05 Nov 17 - 06:36 AM (#3886867)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,ST

With regards to the inclusion of phrases such as "Like she whom the prize of Mount Ida had won, There approached a fair lassie as bright as the sun": surely one possibility (and of course not the only possibility) is that a non-literate writer of the song had heard this line elsewhere, thought it fitted a song s/he was writing and/or perhaps liked it and included it in their own. If the rest of the verses in that song don't sound "broadside" the perhaps they aren't.

I have done the same thing myself when I have occasionally found myself making up songs. I don't record or publish these, just sing them down at the pub so I'm more concerned about whether I like them (and how well, or more likely badly, they go down when I've sung them) than exactly how I come to make them up. In this way, perhaps I resemble some of those songwriters that existed in the illiterate classes of the past. (I know quite a few others who write songs like this - perhaps non-commercial "folk???" songs are still being born after all but who wants to collect them until or unless they've survived for a few generations?!) When such songs come to me I sometimes find I've inserted a phrase that's been inspired, or even lifted complete, from some other song. It never more than just a turn of phrase so I'm not concerned that I'm infringing copyright (and anyway most of my other repertoire and source of these phrases is "traditional") so there they sit in "my" song. Surely that's a possible explanation for some of the occurrences of broadside-like phrases in songs that may not have been entirely composed by broadside writers.

By now, my reading of the posts here seems to suggest that just about everybody is accepting songs arise from a variety of sources and sometimes from a mixture within one song. Agreement seems to have been reached on this but there are many who have fallen to defending their own views that no-one is really attacking as completely wrong anymore (if they ever were) simply because they have failed to notice no-one is totally disagreeing anymore.   The world isn't black and white; it's grey.


05 Nov 17 - 07:06 AM (#3886872)
Subject: Lyr Add: SHEILA NEE IYER
From: Jim Carroll

Guest
Paddy' Tunney's 'Hedge School' explanation is the one that always rings the truest to me, though your 'mixture iwing one song' addition would explain things - something thrown into an already existing song.
A couple of years ago, tutor/singer, Brian Mullen played a recording of Mrs Tunney's exquisite rendition of this song to a group of students who had never heard it before - at the end of the session they were queuing up to get a copy of it.
Those who haven't heard it I would urge you to seek out a copy (happy to oblige)
Below is an example of Hedge Poetry on overdiive
Jim Carroll   

It was on the banks of a clear, flowing stream
That first I accosted that comely young dame
And in great confusion I did ask her name
Are you Flora, Aurora, or the fame queen of Tyre?
She answered, "I'm neither, I'm Sheila Nee Iyer

Go rhyming, rogue, let my flocks roam in peace
You won't find amongst them that famed Golden Fleece
Or the tresses of Helen, that goddess of Greece
Have hanked 'round your heart like a doll of desire
Be off to your speirbhean," said Sheila Nee Iyer

May the sufferings of Sisyphus fall to my share
And may I the torments of Tantalus bear
To the dark land of Hades let my soul fall an heir
Without linnet in song or a note on the lyre
If ever I prove false to you, Sheila Nee Iyer

Oh had I the wealth of the Orient store
Or the gems of Peru or the Mexican ore
Or the hand of the Midas to mould o'er and o'er
Bright bracelets of gold or of flaming sapphire
I'd robe you in splendor, my Sheila Nee Iyer


05 Nov 17 - 07:10 AM (#3886874)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Derek wrote -
First, I dislike the term "hacks" .. it's a disparaging term. Broadside poets is a better description I feel,

You are right, Derek, it is a denigrating word, but if we are not to use the word 'hack' then we need another to distinguish broadside writers of the past and newspaper reporters of today from 'songwriters', 'poets' and 'writers'. If not 'hack' then we need some word to call those who are forced to write to a very short deadline and do not have time for reflection or time to live with and refine what they have written.
The hangman was not going to wait for the broadside writer to come up with some beautiful prose or poetry written on reflection and as a result of research. The printer needed them ready to sell to the crowd where the execution was taking place.


05 Nov 17 - 09:32 AM (#3886888)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Jim,
I'll send you an email. I don't want to respond in public as what I have to say is personal.


05 Nov 17 - 09:36 AM (#3886890)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

PLease do Steve, but I'm not sure what difference it will make
I it's any easier, you can PM me
Jim Carroll


05 Nov 17 - 11:37 AM (#3886905)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

"along some rural grapevine"
Not sure how much of a mystery this is Brian
Sam described stopping off at various ports as a trawlerman and taking part in singing competitions


Point taken about Sam's travels, Jim, but I selected those two examples of 'Henry Martin' because they're the best known from recent tradition (and rightly included in your list of favourite recordings). However, exactly the same goes for the numerous traditional versions collected all over the Southern counties and as far North as Yorkshire: very consistent texts, and tunes that are recognizably variations on a common source. I'm prepared to believe in Steve's travelling pedlars carrying broadsides but, as he says, that still leaves a mystery surrounding tune transmission. Also, the broadsides I've seen don't include the repeats of the last phrase of line 3, which are universally present in sung versions. Looks like there was a popular sense of how the song should be sung.


05 Nov 17 - 12:41 PM (#3886911)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Snuffy

Oral transmission throughout Britain would have been facilitated through the navvies and other workers who moved round the country, but stayed in one place long enough to pass on songs from afar and absorb local offerings.


05 Nov 17 - 12:47 PM (#3886912)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

**a popular sense of how the song should be sung**

Now here's one that could really do with a lot more research.

I can present only a few possibilities. Many of these songs were also sung in the big cities in the likes of coal cellars, glee clubs, supper rooms, and social gatherings. It may well be that at least some of the pedlars picked up the formats/tunes to some of the songs in this way. The scenario....pick up your pack of songsters and broadsides from the printers then drop into one of the above establishments and acquire some of the tunes.

Also don't forget there were many shared tunes and formats and often a refrain 'derry down' would suggest the tune. I use this example as by far the most widespread tune for ballads in the English-speaking world over the last 5 centuries.


05 Nov 17 - 12:59 PM (#3886914)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Absloutely, Snuffy, like seasonal harvest workers, many of them Irish as well. One of the songs quite common in Yorkshire rural areas is 'I wish they'd do it now' in quite different variants all learnt from seasonal labourers.


05 Nov 17 - 01:18 PM (#3886915)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"because they're the best known from recent tradition"
I have never had a problem with the idea that the broadsides had an increasing influence on the repertoire as the tradition deteriorated but I still reckon the options are still open that it was orally transmitted - you made the point yourself about the similarities of the tunes, which indicates oral transmission
One of those "nobody knows - QI questions again"
Steves marathon pedlar's journey from Yarmouth to Gower seems the less likely of thecchoices.
Peter Cook's Canal, railway road workers continues to attract me and, as he was talking roughly about the same period with the Greg material, increasingly so.
It seems to me that there are a lot more questions here being avoided rather than answered - not referring to you, of course
Jim Carroll


05 Nov 17 - 01:54 PM (#3886921)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Brian wrote -
Phil Tanner sang 'Henry Martin' and Sam Larner 'The Lofty Tall Ship', both excellent variants of a single song, interestingly different melodically and textually, but strongly similar as well (Cecil would have called that 'Continuity versus Variation').
It beggars belief that the song would have been known at locations 350 miles apart simply by travelling along some rural grapevine


Jim wrote -
Steves marathon pedlar's journey from Yarmouth to Gower seems the less likely of the choices

Credit where it is due to the person who suggested the song's unlikely journey, please.


05 Nov 17 - 01:57 PM (#3886922)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Sue Allan

There certainly were marathon pedlar journeys: ?Putty Joe? - Joseph Hodgson from Whitehaven in Cumberland - relates in 1850 stories from his travels not only in the north of England but also in Scotland and as far afield as the midlands, the south east, London and even Dublin.


05 Nov 17 - 02:01 PM (#3886925)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Sue Allan

Blast: I put double quotation marks instead of single and STILL they end up as question marks! What?s going on here? (am typing on iPad)


05 Nov 17 - 02:15 PM (#3886927)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Credit where it is due to the person who suggested the song's unlikely journey, please."
Why is it unlikely that the song could have been ben carried by navvies or around the coast by sailors involved in the maritime trades Vic
James M Carpenter was having no trouble picking songs up from Swansea docks between 1928 to 1937
In the latter half of the 19th century, there was a thriving coastal trade right around Britain - the maps are all there.
Jim Carroll


05 Nov 17 - 02:36 PM (#3886930)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Jim,
The point that I was making was that it was Brian's suggestion that the journey was 'unlikely' ("beggars belief" was the phrase he actually used)


05 Nov 17 - 02:46 PM (#3886932)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Sorry Vic, I was responding to this
"The simplest answer to your question, Brian, is that one of the ways these ballads were disseminated over large distances is that the pedlars who travelled great distances always carried a stock of broadsides and songsters with the rest of their wares."
I thought you were
"I put double quotation marks instead of single and STILL they end up as question marks!"
Sue,
Bit cumbersome, but I've resorted to previewing it, replacing the question marks and then posting
I usually manage to miss a few but a bit better than appearing to permanently question your own statements
Jim Carroll


06 Nov 17 - 08:49 AM (#3887065)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Jim wrote
"I put double quotation marks instead of single and STILL they end up as question marks!"
Sue,
Bit cumbersome, but I've resorted to previewing it, replacing the question marks and then posting
I usually manage to miss a few but a bit better than appearing to permanently question your own statements.


If you have "Notepad" on your PC - most computers using Microsoft Windows do - than try preparing your posts using that rather than any word processing programs where you start getting into letter and symbol coding problems. Then you can cut'n'paste what you have written into Mudcat without having nearly every symbol changed to a question mark. Am I making sense?

Of course, using 'Notepad', you lose the spell-checking facility which is helpful to most of us in using 'Word' and the other word processors, but you can still get around this! Still use your word processor to write your posts but then cut'n'paste your text into 'Notepad' and then and then cut'n'paste from 'Notepad' into Mudcat. This is a bit laborious I'll admit, but less cumbersome than "replacing the question marks and then posting".

I tried it out with this post and it seems to work.

@~@~@~@~@~@~@~@~@~@~@~@~

Right! That's it from me for this thread as I am now packing ready to fly out to The Gambia for a month - our 21st visit to that wonderful country since 1997.
One of the things that we will be doing is recording, photographing, videoing and documenting the small group of high status Manding jali families that we have been working with in Brikama and Bakau since 2000 and studying how their traditions are developing as younger jalis come in and how material comes and goes in popularity. Mandinka is an entirely oral language as are all the six ethnic languages of The Gambia so the problem of written v. oral tradition does not arise and modern songs written by creative jalis like Pa Bobo Jobarteh and Jali Sherrifo Konteh sit very happily with songs that existed alongside others that we know existed in the time of Mungo Park's exploratory West African trips and nobody gives a monkey's! Well, saying that we sometimes have the very inquisitive green vervet monkeys who are sometimes sitting in nearby trees apparently listening very carefully. Great mimics, the vervets - they will sometimes join in the clapping when they see humans clapping!
However, you do have to be very careful about what you say within the hearing of monkeys. One of my favourite pieces of jaliya is a story and song called Kedo. That tells of a time in the past when the Fulas and the Mandings were at war with one another and for the price of a meal of peanuts the monkeys would spy and report to both sides about their movements, plans etc.


06 Nov 17 - 09:48 AM (#3887079)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Sue Allan

Don?t use any Windows programmes Vic so that won?t work for me, sadly. Was typing directly into box on my iPad.


06 Nov 17 - 10:31 AM (#3887089)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

I have no knowledge of working with iPads or any Apple products - but there must be a simple text based method of entering your posts. Try reading https://support.apple.com/en-gb/guide/mail/format-text-mlhlp1219 and surely you will find the right application that will suit your purposes..... but I am not the person to ask.


06 Nov 17 - 10:53 AM (#3887099)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

I wouldn't worry, Sue. We all know what you're intending to write. Most of us have multiple technical problems anyway.


06 Nov 17 - 04:08 PM (#3887143)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Apropos England versus Ireland: one point that Steve R makes in the book is that some previous writers, lacking direct evidence in favour of some argument, adduce evidence from a different time or place. Such evidence may be valid but needs to be taken with care.

What I've always loved about Ireland, ever since my first visit there, is that it's just like England except when it isn't.


06 Nov 17 - 04:24 PM (#3887146)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

I am surprised that Steve Gardham has not made reference to his own writings on the subject of Broadsides and Folk Sings, etc.

I am also behind the times, because I have had the book "Wanton Seed" for some time - and I did not myself discover this until today - in Steve's own Introduction to the new 2015 publication - the following link...Tradsong.org : Where's that song from...

http://www.tradsong.org/Where_that_song.pdf

I think it adds to the debate.

Tim Radford


06 Nov 17 - 04:50 PM (#3887152)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Thanks for posting that, Tim.
It was 6 years ago and my short term memory is not what it was. My views haven't changed much since I gave that presentation, but I have another in a couple of weeks which looks at the recycling of previous ballads by the broadside poets which led to drastically different ballads in some cases. For people like Steve and me who regularly classify ballads this can be a minefield when ballads have obviously been rewritten using bits and pieces of other ballads. At what point are they the same ballad or a different ballad? Not an easy question to answer. Hopefully some answers will come out at the Broadside day presentations and discussions in Sheffield.


06 Nov 17 - 05:07 PM (#3887155)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Looks fascinating, Vic. have a great time. I'm sure you will.


07 Nov 17 - 03:58 AM (#3887213)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

2Thanks for posting that, Tim."
Thanks indeed Tim - interesting indeed
It calls into question Steve's claim that his percentage refers only to the material collected by Sharp et al - it goes back far beyond that to suggest that all our folk songs originated in print
Interestingly, the article does not include the claim made on a previous thread that Child was coming around to revising his view on broadside "dunghills" - a pretty essential piece of information for those wishing to prove that the folk didn't make folk songs, I would have thought!
As Steve says, Child did rely on broadsides as a source, but he had the good grace to attribute those songs as "popular" - of the people

It cannot be repeated enough that our knowledge of folk song does not precede the beginning of the twentieth century, so anything before that has to be based on speculation and common sense based on what little we do know

It seems beyond reason to attribute our folk songs to Urban based bad writers of doggerel who would have had to be skilled in folklore, social history and rural practices to create the love songs, work songs, sea and soldiers songs dealing with hardships brought about by the enclosures, the devastating effects of the Industrial Revolution on ordinary lives, the effects of transportation, impressment..... and the vast panorama covered by folk composition
Bad writers are bad writers, nothing more

I was disturbed recently to discover that "Street Ballads in Nineteenth-Century Britain, Ireland, and North America: The Interface between Print and Oral Traditions ed. by David Atkinson, Steve Roud" makes the same claims for Irish songs
This flies in the face of everything we have learned about Irish song making over the last forty years

As long as I have been involved in folksong that have been a little bang o brothers setting out to claim that the "folk" were incapable of having made the ballads
Now that disease has spread to our folk songs
Let's hope it dies as quick a death as previous such claims
Jim Carroll


07 Nov 17 - 04:06 AM (#3887216)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"that have been a little bang o brothers"
Damn
Should read "there has been a little band of brothers"
In fairness to Roud and Atkinson, I should say I have not fully read ""Street Ballads in Nineteenth-Century Britain, Ireland, and North America"
the exorbitant price of ?38 paperback, ?85 hardback asking price will preclude even our local library from purchasing a copy
For elitist eyes only - obviously!
Jim Carroll


07 Nov 17 - 02:25 PM (#3887353)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Sue Allan

That sort of price sadly typical of academic publishers across the board I?m afraid Jim.


07 Nov 17 - 02:46 PM (#3887361)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Sue Allan

Reading back through your longer post, I was somewhat puzzled by your assertion that ?our knowledge of folk so g does not precede the beginning of the twentieth century?. What then of Baring-Gould?s collecting in the West Country, before him Chappell?s work, John Broadwood, Walter Scott?s informants and collector, and in the eighteenth century the songs collected by - albeit frequently ?improved? by as well - Robert Burns. Oh, and also John Clare in Northamptonshire, John Bell in the North-East. Are you dismissing all these?!


07 Nov 17 - 02:51 PM (#3887365)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"That sort of price sadly typical of academic publishers across the board I?m afraid Jim."
For books about the music of the 'common People - Harry Cox would be spitting feathers, given his attitude to the wealthy - "THEM"
I've been collecting books for decades and have reluctantly paid that price for a nineteenth century gem - but for a modern publication!!
I think I paid ?30 per hardback volume, for the Greig Duncan collection at 500/600 pp each - at 306pp for Atkinson/Roud - at that price, that's just silly Sue
I'm not saying the authors have any control on the price - it's the philosophy behind it that gets up my nose
Think I'll wait till it's remaindered
Jim Carroll


07 Nov 17 - 02:57 PM (#3887367)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Meant to add - we have little information on the actual singers and the methodology of Baring Gould, Scott or Broadwood
Chappel didn't collect from live singers as far as I know - if he did, we have no knowledge of how or what he did with the originals
That came with the Sharp gang
Jim Carroll


07 Nov 17 - 03:15 PM (#3887371)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Jim wrote -
It cannot be repeated enough that our knowledge of folk song does not precede the beginning of the twentieth century.

Outrageous - even by Jim's standards! Suggest you read pages 221 - 406 of the book under discussion for meticulously researched evidence of the state of folk song in England from the 16th to the 19th century.
Jim has also stated recently on Mudcat that he does not make pronouncements. In that case, I wonder what the above quotation is.


07 Nov 17 - 03:54 PM (#3887375)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

What a timely point to mention another very important book hot off the press! Martin Graebe's excellent 'As I walked out: Sabine Baring-Gould and the search for the Folk Songs of Devon and Cornwall'. The bulk of his collecting was done from about 1888 to about 1900, but he had recorded a few songs in Yorkshire in the 1860s. He also went to great pains to document the lives of the people he recorded and built up a strong relationship with many of them. Like Steve's book this one won't break the bank.


07 Nov 17 - 03:59 PM (#3887376)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Sue Allan

Steve - in Facebook speak: *Like* ...sadly no button to do that on Mudcat!


07 Nov 17 - 04:06 PM (#3887377)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Steve - in Facebook speak: *Like* ...sadly no button to do that on Mudcat!


07 Nov 17 - 05:53 PM (#3887394)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim has also stated recently on Mudcat that he does not make pronouncements"
Tell me where it does Vic - not a pronouncement of mine
The clue is in the title of D K Wilgus book - 'Anglo American Folksong Scholarship since 1899
One of the few certainties from the singers we have to dat is Margaret Laidlaw's (James Hogg's mother's) admonishment of Scott for daring to put her ballads into print "'ye hae broken the charm noo, an' they'll never be sung mair'"
One lady who didn't rely on broadsides.
Even after Sharp, we knew nothing of what the singers thought
Jim Carroll


08 Nov 17 - 03:40 AM (#3887437)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"221 - 406 of the book under discussion for meticulously researched evidence of the state of folk song in England from the 16th to the 19th century."
I've read this Vic - if you re-read it. Roud treats it as an Urban phenomenon and from the point of view of a town-based commercial enterprise
The songs he discusses are largely ones that did not pass into the singing tradition we are discussing here, but were created for town and city customers, full of Phillidas and Valentines rather the the folk's "Jimmys and Marys".
Charles Dibden was typical - a British composer, musician, dramatist, novelist and actor, with over 600 songs to his name who was nioted for his sea-songs but would probably have become seasick if he drank a glass of water

The traditional repertoire being discussed here is that of sailors, soldiers, land labourers and workers in rural industries such as textile work and mining - songs made by them and not about them.
There are snippets in passings about country singing in Roud and elsewhere, but by an large the songs have been regarded out of context, rather like butterfly collecting - objects in themselves rather than a part of the singers' lives - a social phenomena.

This argument has led me to revisit, Maud Karpeles's 'Cecil Sharp's Collection of English Folk Songs', and some of the contemporary collections
The thing that strikes me is how remarkably free they are of the stiltedly ham-fisted technique associated with the broadside hacks - not completely, but the ones that aren't stick out like so few sore thumbs.

It seems to me obvious that, rather than the folk taking from print, the opposite was the case - the hacks were borrowing ideas from sailors, embarking soldiers, countrymen coming to town to sell their produce and taking songs with dirt under their fingernails and turning them into the pap they ended up as on the presses.

We know country people made songs - we know the songs reflected fairly accurately country life and conditions - no 'sons of the soil' or jolly Jack tars' but real ploughboys, sea labourers and soldiers in the ranks - the voice of the people that they have always been regarded - up to recently (and by a few desk-jockeys).

A true approach to where our folk songs came from would be to gather together what contemporary information there is, including Baring Gould's writings, Sharps' diaries - anything else available - and compare it to the spurious (in my opinion) claims of literary origin and see which holds the most water - earliest publication dates mean nothing
I've often wondered if the BBC project recorded anything more than the songs - it would have been an ideal opportunity to gather information

We know that some of the motifs and references used in traditional song making go back to Shakespeare and Boccaccio, even as far as Homer, who was liberally borrowing from folk beliefs
Jim Carroll


08 Nov 17 - 06:40 AM (#3887486)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Tracing it back -

Jim wrote (03 Nov 17 - 04:44 AM)
It's why I don't make pronouncements and why I wish you didn't.

I replied (04 Nov 17 - 05:38 AM)
. but you do, Jim, you make them all the time and that is why you are challenged on them

Jim wrote (07 Nov 17 - 03:58 AM)
It cannot be repeated enough that our knowledge of folk song does not precede the beginning of the twentieth century.

Perhaps stupidly, I rose to the bait and challenged him (07 Nov 17 - 03:15 PM)
Outrageous......Jim has also stated recently on Mudcat that he does not make pronouncements. In that case, I wonder what the above quotation is.

Jim replies (07 Nov 17 - 05:53 PM
Tell me where it does Vic - not a pronouncement of mine.

What am I supposed to reply to that? Am I expected to repeat what I said above - Jim wrote (03 Nov 17 - 04:44 AM)
It's why I don't make pronouncements and why I wish you didn't.

Finally, and it really is finally as far as any attempts on my part to hold discussions with Jim, I read in his long bluster of 08 Nov 17 - 03:40 AM he says:-
A true approach to where our folk songs came from would be to gather together what contemporary information there is, including Baring Gould's writings....

Aaargh! But Jim, you have to us "our knowledge of folk song does not precede the beginning of the twentieth century." and Baring-Gould's contact with folk singers goes back to the 1860s!

I was actually thinking that Jim stating that we should "gather together what contemporary information" to inform our studies was a good thing. Yes, we are getting somewhere - that is exactly what we should be doing....... then he writes
We know that some of the motifs and references used in traditional song making go back to Shakespeare and Boccaccio, even as far as Homer, who was liberally borrowing from folk beliefs.
Can we look forward to Jim's exposition using "contemporary information" on what were "folk beliefs" around the late 8th or early 7th century BC?

I have received two PMs advising me not to try to reason with Jim, From here on that advice will be followed.


08 Nov 17 - 07:20 AM (#3887496)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Baring-Gould's contact with folk singers goes back to the 1860s!"
Baring Gould's work has only just become available for public consideration - his published song collections prior to the current book contain only notes to the songs
As excellent as they are, they do not touch on the songs in context to the communities they come from
As I said, our knowledge of that context stretches back to the beginning of the twentieth century, which is why Wilgus entitled his book as he did
Even Steve Gardham has agreed that this is how far back our knowledge goes and we can only speculate on who made the songs
It remains to be seen how much the Baring Gould Ms or the Sharp diaries - and all the other passing references add to the question
"I have received two PMs advising me not to try to reason with Jim,"
And I have a log, arrogant and abusive PM from one of the protagonists here - wasn't it you who once told me that it was unethical to use PS in these arguments?
PMs are for those who don't have the bottle to state their beliefs openly (talking behind ones back, in other words)
Not something I puut a lot of trust in
Shame on you Vic, using something you have yourself condemned - tsk-tsk!
Perhaps you should follow your own advice
Jim Carroll


08 Nov 17 - 09:16 AM (#3887516)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"advising me not to try to reason with Jim"
Your "reasoning" appears to refer to capitulation to non-argument

My case is simple
We don't know who made the folk songs, therefore we have to work with what information we have and use our common sense
I have pointed out that the quality of the output of the broadside writers does not match up to that of our folk songs
The knowledge contained in our folk songs is hardly that you would expect from a bench bound, urban based broadside hacks.
I have proved to my own satisfaction that rural working people were more than capable of making songs, having done so throughout the 19th century - in Britain and particularly in Ireland.
I have pointed out over and over again that researchers such as Child, Burns, Sharp, Isaac Walton - even broadside producers themselves, regarded these songs as products of the countryside, not the town.
Child dismissed broadsides as products of the "dunghill" at the time the trade was at its height, Sharp wrote a long dissertation explaining his contemptuous attitude to broadsides.

The whole idea that the vast majority of our folksongs started life as broadsides is a 21st century one which overrides previous beliefs that 'the folk' created their songs
Steve's case has vacillated from 'all our songs' when he described MacColl's comments at the end of 'The Song Carriers" as "romantic nonsense", to his sometimes present situation of 'only those collected by Sharp, et al.'
The article of Steve's put up up by Tim suggests that he has not moved from "all folk songs" - The Song Carrier's' comment disparaged as "romantic nonsense' included the entire repertoire, from 'The Frog and The Mouse' - the first folk song ever mentioned in print, right through to an Irish song composed during WW2.
The article mentions 18th century 'Pleasure Gardens' and theatres, as being the source of our folk songs
What's it to be - the entire repertoire or just those collected in the 20th century - he can't have it both ways?

If I am being "unreasonable", as Vic and his supporters from the shadows, have accused me of being, what arguments have I missed, or what have I got wrong?
It seems to me that all I am guilty of is refusing to take the opinions of a handful of desk-bound academics on trust
Jim Carroll


08 Nov 17 - 11:21 AM (#3887549)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

Jim wrote:

"The broadside output runs contrary to the traditional repertoire in style and in quality - most of the published broadside collections are crammed full of unsingable songs"

This is true for a lot of them; Harry Boardman used to have me create songs out of 19th broadsides for his radio broadcasts and, if not literally unsingable, a lot of them were pretty bloody awful.

But then there's no reason that a print original should have had to be singable in the first place. Apologies for going back to 'The Wild Rover', but it's the one I know most about. The original ballad by Thomas Lanfiere, 'The Good-fellow's Resolution', is indeed wordy and moralistic - like many similar ballads of its day, composed by Lanfiere and others - although verses 1, 8 and 9 clearly belong to the song as we know it. You wouldn't look at that text and think it was the work of an unlettered toper of the lower classes. But what happened to it next - probably around 1800 - was clearly a conscious edit rather than some kind of oral processing, since in the course of cutting the song down to five verses stanzas have been deliberately cut-and-pasted, split, rejoined and boiled down. Thereafter there is a trail of 19th century broadsides each looking a bit more like the song as collected in oral tradition. So, even though the original was arguably 'unsingable', it nonetheless formed the basis for something that became highly singable.

Something similar seems to have happened with Child 243 ('The Demon Lover'), in which seven verses from the middle section of a 32 verse original 'A Warning for Married Women' - were cut out and used as the basis for a new ballad.

However, if you look at Child 286 ('The Sweet Trinity' / 'Golden Vanity' etc) The 17th century London broadside 'Sir Walter Raleigh Sailing in the Low-lands' is almost word-for-word) the same as oral versions collected in Appalachia by Cecil Sharp (apart from Sir Walter's part in the drama), and seems to have gone into oral tradition more or less unedited, then remained more or less unaltered for 200+ years.

Re Sharp's diaries:

I've spent a lot of time with his Appalachian diaries (I'm not aware that he kept one when he was collecting in England) and they don't really provide answers. Where he asked a singer about their source, the answer was usually a senior family member. He saw no printed broadsides, though he did observe one or two handwritten 'ballets'. Some of the songs he collected have texts almost identical to those in 19th century songsters, but the majority do not. The most popular ballads noted by Sharp from mountain repertoire are mostly those known to have existed in print in the 17th or early 18th century (Barbara Allen, Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender, House Carpenter etc), which fits with the notion that 18th century migrants brought them over, either on paper or in their heads. Of course the fact that most of them were in print by the 17th century does not necessarily mean that the migrants learned them directly from broadsides, but it does tell us that they were definitely around in England at the appropriate time, and suggests that they arrived with the settlers rather than being learned by later generations in America.


08 Nov 17 - 12:32 PM (#3887565)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Couple of assumptions there Brian
I question the claim that the broadside version of the Demon Lover is definitely the first - the story is quite popular as ain international tale (can't remember the Stith Thomson number, but we have it in one of your published collections)
It might well have been an original composition, but it could just as likely have been created from either a tale or existing song)
Same with the Golden Vanity - was the broadside definitely the original?
I'm not prepared to argue the case for individual songs; I fully accept that either might be the case
What disturbs me is the definitive and all- embracing nature of the claims and the implications of what they imply
Can over a century of scholarship really have been so wrong?
Jim Carroll


08 Nov 17 - 01:21 PM (#3887571)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

"I question the claim that the broadside version of the Demon Lover is definitely the first - the story is quite popular as ain international tale"

I did wonder at one point whether the seven familiar verses from 'A Warning for Married Women' might have been part of an earlier undetected version around which Laurence Price erected a massive scaffolding of unneccessary verbiage, but there's no evidence for that.

'Hind Horn' is one that did exist as a medieval romance, and harks in one respect back to the Odyssey. But that kind of reworking of an older tale suggests to me a poet's hand (just as Shakespeare rehashed older plots) more than anything.

'Golden Vanity - was the broadside definitely the original?'

I don't know - I just used it as an example of an older broadside that reads very much like the sung versions.


08 Nov 17 - 02:47 PM (#3887583)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"I don't know -"
Neither do I
"'Hind Horn' is one that did exist as a medieval romance"
And was also found in Europe
In the other hand, it also shares its motifs both with folk tales and at least one ballad, Lord Bateman - lover returning in disguise demanding the fulfilment of a promise
When we firsts recorded singers in Clare we hit a rich seam of 'big' storytellers, particularly i the Burren area of North Clare
The first story we recorded was about an hour long and started with the 'Gawain and the Green Knight' 'year and a day' motif and ended with the lover returning in disguise on her lover's wedding day claiming her promise of marriage.
The teller's nearest neighbour gave us a magnificent version of 'Lord Bateman' which ended with exactly the same motif.
You really do need a crowbar to separate songs and stories, especially in areas like this.
The area as a whole was once the stamping ground of Seamus Delargy, the founder of The Irish Folklore Society - some of the finest tales collected in Ireland were taken from there, from both singers and storytellers.
The non-literate Travellers sang the big ballads because they liked long stories - we are the beneficiaries of that good taste
Jim Carroll


08 Nov 17 - 03:11 PM (#3887586)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

Fascinating, Jim.


08 Nov 17 - 07:16 PM (#3887614)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

Fascinating histories, Brian, esp. that of "The Wild Rover."

I know a lot less than I thought.


09 Nov 17 - 03:11 AM (#3887649)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"I know a lot less than I thought."
We all do L
What pissess me off about these arguments is how far away from the dream of the early days we have drifted.
I was part of a scene that included nights of ballad evenings, themed, poetry and song performances, calls from the club platform for volunteers to take part in fishing expeditions to uncover children's songs in local schools, workshops to help aspiring singers....
We had our own magazines and record labels and a wealth of programmes on every aspect of folk song and music under the sun, freely available on the radio....
Now we're reduced to arguing whether the composer of 'The Cat's Meat Man' might also have written 'Lord Gregory'!!

Even if we want to keep up with current research we have to consider re-mortgaging the house to buy the literature!
As for magnificent productions like MacColl's, 'Song Carriers' and Lloyd's 'Songs of the People' - you can't even give 'em away to modern 'folk' enthusiasts' who appear to believe that Bob Geldof is a folk performer and composer
Did we really manage to make such a ****-up of the folk revival?

I remember Pat and I taking Kerry Traveller Mikeen McCarthy to a local children's literature festival in Deptford, South-East London, some time in the early 80s.
Mikeen was a singer, storyteller tinsmith, caravan builder, horse dealer, street singer and 'ballad seller'.... - you name it, he did it.
He sat in front of an audience of mainly pre-teen schoolchildren and sang, told stories and talked about fairy lore, pishogues, fairs and markets, tinsmithing, thatching, gladdering, life on the roads of rural Ireland..... for well over an hour and a half.
The teachers had carefully arranged the chairs in lines with Mikeen sitting formally at the front - a big gap between him and them.
Gradually they abandoned the chairs, slid across the floor on their bums and finally formed a tight circle of rapt faces around Mikeen's feet, completely engrossed in what he had to say.

Where have all those flowers gone, I wonder?
Him Carroll


10 Nov 17 - 05:33 AM (#3887824)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE MERCHANT AND THE FIDDLER'S WIFE
From: Jim Carroll

To continue this 'chicken or egg?' song/story theme
Below is a story we recorded from a retired Irish building worker we met in Deptford in the 1970s; as far as I know, the song never entered to oral tradition, if such a turgid piece was ever sung.
Mikey Kelleher was originally from Quilty, the next village from here Clare, a small coastal fishing village; he moved to England and in the 1940s and never returned home
The village was renowned for stories like these' basically jokes, often without punch lines
Mikey gave us dozens of these 'yarns' including a story version of 'The Bishop of Canterbury' (Child 45) and a convoluted tale of a young woman presenting a mouse in a matchbox to a former lover who she had promised her maidenhead to, as substitute for her sexual parts
MacColl traced this to the writings of Spanish playwright, Rojas (1465/73)
The area Mikey came from was totally devoid of literature such as this; as far as the songs are concerned, its overwhelming literary influence would be the 'ballads' sold by non-literate Travellers who would go to a printer, recite songs from their own oral repertoire and sell them at the fairs and markets; this continued right up to the 1950s, when the last 'ballad' found as 'The Bar With No Stout', a parody of one of the latest pop songs.
The point I am trying to make is that to consign our traditional repertoire to the broadsides seems to me an exercise in the facile by desk-bound researchers who simply haven't done the math
The link reall is far more complicated than that.
Jim Carroll

The Fiddler's wife
There was two old walkers and they wanted to go across to America and the hadn't enough money
So she went down to the captain and she was a lovely piece, and he said, "Oh, I'll be all right there"
She asked him to now would he take here across
"All right", he said, himself and herself and the man went in and he was playing the old fiddle, you see.
They had travelled away, of course, and she didn't like to refuse him, you know, in case he wouldn't let her off, you know.
She carries on with him and he went up to the old boy and, "I'll bet you this ship" he said, "and cargo, against your fiddle", he said, "That I'll have her before I land".
The old boy bet the fiddle with him anyway; and up they goes, he called them in.
The old boy was frettin', he knew she was inside.

"Hold tight my love", he says, "hold tight", (he was singing a song)   
For just a half an hour
Hol tight my love, hold tight
And the ship and cargo will be ours

She said:

"You're late my love, you're late my love," she said
He has me by the middle,
"I',m on my back, we're havin' a craic,
And you have lost your old fiddle"   

The Merchant and the Fidler's Wife.
From 'D'Urfey's Pills to Purge Melancholy, (Vol 5 pp77-80) (1719)
It was a Rich Merchant Man,
That had both Ship and all;
And he would cross the salt Seas,
Tho' his cunning it was but small.

The Fidler and his Wife,
They being nigh at hand ;
Would needs go sail along with him,
From Dover unto Scotland.

The Fidler's Wife look'd brisk,
Which made the Merchant smile ;
He made no doubt to bring it about,
The Fidler to beguile.

Is this thy Wife the Merchant said,
She looks like an honest Spouse;
Ay that she is, the Fidler said,
That ever trod on Shoes.

Thy Confidence is very great,
The Merchant then did say;
If thou a Wager darest to bet,
I'll tell thee what I will lay'.

I'll lay my Ship against thy Fiddle,
And all my Venture too;
So Peggy may gang along with me,
My Cabin for to View.

If she continues one Hour with me,
Thy true and constant Wife ;
Then shalt thou have my Ship and be,
A Merchant all thy Life.

The Fidler was content,
He Danc'd and Leap'd for joy ;
And twang'd his Fiddle in merriment,
For Peggy he thought was Coy.

Then Peggy she went along,
His Cabin for to View ;
And after her the Merchant-Man,
Did follow, we found it true.

When they were once together,
The Fidler was afraid ;
For he crep'd near in pitious fear,
And thus to Peggy he said.

Hold out, sweet Peggy hold out,
For the space of two half Hours;
If thou hold out, I make no doubt,
But the Ship and Goods are ours.

In troth, sweet Robin, I cannot,
He hath got me about the Middle ;
He's lusty and strong, and hath laid me along,
O Robin thou'st lost thy Fiddle.


If I have lost my Fiddle,
Then am I a Man undone ;
My Fiddle whereon I so often play'd,
Away I needs must run.

O stay the Merchant said,
And thou shalt keep thy place;
And thou shalt have thy Fiddle again,
But Peggy shall carry the Case.

Poor Robin hearing that,
He look'd with a Merry-chear;
His wife she was pleas'd, and the Merchant was eas'd,
And jolly and brisk they were.

The Fidler he was mad,
But valu'd it not a Fig;
Then Peggy unto her Husband said,
Kind Robin play us a Jigg.

Then he took up his Fiddle,
And merrily he did play ;
The Scottish Jigg and the Hornpipe,
And eke the Irish Hey.

It was but in vain to grieve,
The Deed it was done and past;
Poor Robin was bom to carry the Horn,
For Peggy could not be Chast.

Then Fidlers all beware,
Your Wives are kind you see ;
And he that's made for the Fidling Trade,
Must never a Merchant be.

For Peggy she knew right well,
Although she was but a Woman ;
That Gamesters Drink, and Fidlers Wives,
They are ever Free and Common.


10 Nov 17 - 07:49 AM (#3887850)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

If we printed all these messages in a book, it'd be as long as Steve Roud's 750 page tome!
Derek


10 Nov 17 - 08:09 AM (#3887853)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"If we printed all these messages in a book, it'd be as long as Steve Roud's 750 page tome!"
And maybe the two Steves might learn from them
Waddya think Derek?
Jim Carroll


10 Nov 17 - 08:40 AM (#3887859)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Just checked again
The only reported sighting of Mkey's story as a song is an unpublished version from Newfoundland
Memorial University Folklore Archive (MUNFLA) (St. John's, Newfoundland)"
Jim Carroll


10 Nov 17 - 11:10 AM (#3887885)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

Very interesting account of 'The Fiddler's Wife', thanks Jim.

I have to say I find it sad that this debate has got so polarised, especially since some of the harshest words here have been exchanged by people with very similar enthusiasms. I'm sure you know, Jim, that Vic Smith has spent a lot of time with traditional singers from Sheila Stewart to Bob Copper, and that Steve Gardham has himself collected many songs in the field. These are not people who wish to destroy the notion of traditional song just for the sake of iconoclasm. They, and I, and others here, would enjoy listening to Mikeen McCarthy, or Walter Pardon, just as much as you. For me, the pleasure of hearing a recording of Phil Tanner or Sam Larner sing a version of 'Henry Martin' is completely unaffected by whether the song came to them via (or originated on) a broadside - I just marvel at the artistry of the performance. And there is still a hunger for traditional song out there in the wider 'folk' world, even though some of the younger enthusiasts may have heard traditional singers only through recordings. Do not despair.

I could go on, but that'll do for now.


10 Nov 17 - 12:11 PM (#3887893)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

If I despaired I wouldn't bother arguing Brian
I too respect the work of those you mention and am tired of these discussions ending up in cat-fights, but I believe traditional songs to be important enough to get things right - it's been gotten wrong so often before.
For me, one of the most fundamental things has been whether singers were also composers, as I believe they were.
I too got enormous pleasure from listening to Sam, Harry, Walter, et al, and from singing the songs (I sill do), but taken as a whole, the tradition is far wider than that,
The overturning of an entire belief, over a century's research seems so important a step as not to be taken lightly and certainly without examining all the facts and implications
I can't see any other way other than thrash it out - sorry
Jim


11 Nov 17 - 08:13 AM (#3888004)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

There's a review of Steve's book (remember that? It's in the subject line...) in today's Guardian. Support the newspaper by buying a copy .... or alternatively read it here, with quite a number of comments.
Guardian review of Folk Song in England

Derek


11 Nov 17 - 08:44 AM (#3888011)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" This isn?t to deny that oral transmission was key in disseminating folk songs around a community in which few people could read, but the fact remains that the material was just as likely to have first slipped into the village on a piece of paper rather than on the tip of someone?s tongue."
I hope the authors and their support are happy to see the credit for making these songs gradually being eased away from working people 'the folk' and handed over to notoriously bad poets - without a shred of proof of who actually made them.
Based on the amount of evidence they have presented to back up their claims, i find it utterly irresponsible
Jim Carroll


13 Nov 17 - 03:58 AM (#3888268)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

I'm reluctant to let this slip out of sight without a final word on my position on this subject, so here goes
I have yet to read Roud's book from cover to cover, personal commitments have prevented me from doing so, but I will do in the near future
I do feel I have read enough to form an opinion on some of the subjects covered to have drawn some conclusions.

I'm not an academic, but I have always been an avid reader on folksong pretty well from the mid-sixties and have acquired a substantial library on the subject - fully read.
It seems to me based on that reading that one of the points of Roud's book turns one of my gained opinions on its head - that we can no longer believe folk song to be 'the voice of the people' it was previously believed to be, but that it was created by proven unskilled, desk bound urban hacks scribbling verse for money.
A pretty serious claim and one I'm not prepared to accept without full explanation or at least, minute examination on my part - I have no right to demand an explanation from anybody.

There has always been a tendency from some quarters to suggest that 'the folk' were not skilful enough to have written the ballads, mots clearly put in Phillips Barry's statement in 1939 that To put it in a single phrase, memory not invention is the function of the folk?.   
Now that attitude has spread to include to include virtually all our folk songs - a serious charge, and one too important to let though on the nod.

All our folk literature has, as far as I can make out, regarded that our folk songs were created by the agricultural working people - Child, Sharp, Lomax, Gummere, Wimberley....
Child dismissed the broadsides out of hand, Sharp wrote at length about their malign influence.
From the large number of broadside collections we have on our shelves here I think the quality of hack writing makes it nigh impossible that they could have been the authors of the songs found in collections like Sharp, Greig, Buchan, Child.... dry crumbly chalk compared to fine cheese.

When I have attempted to debate this with one of the main proponents of this argument I have been met with evasion, feeble excuses and often on-the-spot inventions - "English workers were too busy earning a living to make songs", ""hack" doesn't really mean bad writing", "broadside writers gained their knowledge of working practices by serving time at sea or working on the land", "Child was beginning to change his mind about broadsides"....
Examples of working people actually making songs were passed off as "the scribblings of retired people"

Our personal researches over thirty odd years, both in England and Ireland, comprised initially collecting songs, but eventually in interviewing our sources to see where they stood on their art.
In Ireland, we uncovered a large number of local songmakers making songs on any subject that caught their fancy, from local day-to-day experiences to national events viewed locally
That was swept aside by, "it was different in Ireland" - another excuse when you consider that Ireland was under English influence for eight centuries and her song repertoire is loaded with songs and particularly ballads that originated in England and Scotland.

In 1985. Dave Harket published 'Fakesong', a work largely setting our to undermine the work of early collectors by taking it out of context of the time it was carried out.
As the title makes clear, it questions the existence of folk song as a genuine workers culture.
It seems to me that setting out to show that our folk songs originated on the broadside presses is a further step along that road.
It is a serious stap and one that needs carful consideration
Jim Carroll


13 Nov 17 - 06:22 AM (#3888295)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: JHW

'I have yet to read Roud's book from cover to cover'
Thank goodness I'm not alone, I've only read half an inch, its really hard work even to hold up!


14 Nov 17 - 08:51 AM (#3888525)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin

The Guardian review mentioned by Derek Schofield also includes a cut-price offer for the book (£21.25).


15 Nov 17 - 03:34 AM (#3888634)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" a cut-price offer for the book (?21.25)."
The Book Depository have it for ?18.63 - post free, which is a considerable saving for a book this size
Jim Carroll


15 Nov 17 - 04:06 AM (#3888639)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan

I've only read half an inch, its really hard work even to hold up!

I bought the Kindle edition - and really enjoyed being able to pick it up at any stage and read a chapter or two. Got through it relatively quickly and found it both informative and enjoyable. An Irish perspective would be rather different, methinks - but that's to be expected.

Regards


15 Nov 17 - 05:20 AM (#3888658)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"An Irish perspective would be rather different, methinks - but that's to be expected."
The only major difference between England and Ireland is that the Irish tradition lasted far longer as a living entity, where even in Sharp's time singing was on its last legs - a constant comment by Sharp and his contemporaries
Britain and Ireland shared a large number of traditional songs - many of the Irish versions of ballads had disappeared from the repertoires elsewhere in the English speaking world.
Mid twentieth century rural Ireland presented a picture of what life must have been like half a a century earlier in Britain
The repertoires were different because the social situation they represented were different
I think the problem with Roud is that he has arbitrarily decided to re-define folk song (apparently without consulting anybody else working in the field)
I have constantly argued on the importance of definition and have been happy to point to the Roud index as a guide to what I mean - no longer the case.
Out of interest, I looked up one of Walter Pardon's songs, 'Put a Bit of Powder on it Father', composed by Harry Castling & Fred Godfrey ? 1908.
It fits no existing definition of 'folk' I know of, yet Roud has assigned it a number, Roud No:10671, in his index attributed to Walter's singing of it
Walter was insistent that this and all songs of the same ilk were not
folk song and went to great lengths to explain why - but as always, the traditional singers' opinions carry no weight if they don't follow the academic's rule-book.
Vic Smith's quoting him as saying "A traditional folk song is a song sung by a folk singer. What a folk singer sings is traditional songs" apparently wasn't a joke.
We recorded an Irish Traveller whose repertoire included Seven Gypsies and Edward, which, I would say makes him a "folk singer"
He sang for us 'Roses of Heidelberg' and 'You Will Remember Vienna'.
Can we now expect these to be assigned Roud numbers - if not, why not?
This I believe, not only debases folk song, but it makes nonsense of the English language when people can seriously use it irrespective of its meaning - Stanley Unwin rides again!
Jim Carroll


15 Nov 17 - 06:21 AM (#3888671)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan

The only major difference between England and Ireland is that the Irish tradition lasted far longer as a living entity

Gotta love that "only" ! ;>)>

Regards


15 Nov 17 - 06:47 AM (#3888675)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Don't kow what differences there were in the the way the two traditions were made and transmitted Martin
The repertoires were different, sure, but rhe social circumstances in which they were created were almost identical
I'm referring to the English language tradition of course - the Gaeilge was totally different, I'll give you
Jim Carroll


15 Nov 17 - 08:46 AM (#3888697)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin

Sharp and his contemporaries found an English folk song culture which was very much alive in melodic invention - the tunes they wrote down were very different from anything you could have found in print in Chappell's books. And that process continued much longer in North America.

I get the impression that the English-language Irish song culture was pretty much dead as far as melodic invention went at the same time, and hasn't shown any signs of coming back to life since. Jim never mentions tunes at all - when he finds interesting current material in rural Ireland, it's all about verbal content. So I guess they just rehash a small fixed repertoire of commonplace tunes.

What does Roud say about the evolution of melodies?


15 Nov 17 - 09:24 AM (#3888704)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"when he finds interesting current material in rural Ireland, it's all about verbal content"
Every single singer we interviewed on the subject regarded themselves as storytellers whose tales came with tunes.
This includes Walter Pardon.
The older generation of singers confirmed that over and over again with their narrative approach to their songs
This is what Tom Lenihan said on the subject

Tom Lenihan talking about singing. 2m 31s
J C        What?s the word you used Tom, this afternoon; ?blas? * what??
T L        The blas, that?s what the old people used to use; if you didn?t put the blas in the song.
The same as that now the?..as we?ll say ?Michael Hayes?, ?The Fox Chase?:
I am a bold and undaunted fox that never was before on tramp,
My rent, rates and taxes I was willing for to pay,
I lived as happy as King Saul, and loved my neighbours great and small,
I had no animosity for either friend nor foe.
You have to draw out the words and put the blas in the song. If you had the same as the Swedish couple:
Now I am a bold and undaunted fox that never was before on tramp.
The blas isn?t in that, in any bit of it. You see now, the blas is the drawing out of the words and the music of it.
J C        What do you think you?re passing on with a song Tom; is it a good tune, is it a good story, or nice poetry or what?
T L        It is some story I?m passing on with the song all the time. In the composition that was done that time, or the poets that was in it that time, they had the real stuff to compose their songs; they had some story in it.
As I tell you about ?The Christmas Letter?, they had some story, but in today?s poets, there is no story but the one thing over and over and over again, you see. But that time they had the real story for to start off the song. And the same as the song I?m after singing there, ?The Fair Maiden In Her Father?s garden?, well, that happened sometime surely; the lover came back and she didn?t know him of course, but yet he knew her and there he was, and that happened for certain. ?Michael Hayes? happened. ?The Christmas Letter? as I say, all them old traditional stuff; that old mother that got the letter for Christmas from her family; all them things happened.
It was right tradition down along; it was a story or something that happened.

*Blas (Irish) = relish; taste; good accent.

Tom went on at great length about how you had to be careful to maintain the narrative sense of the songs and nor over-ornament
Virtually all singers, bad health excepting, pitched their singing around speaking tones, never broke up words and verbally put the punctuation where it belonged
The Irish language songs were different - a display of technique rather than storytelling, but there are far fewer narrative songs in that repertoire
Jim Carroll


08 Dec 17 - 09:04 AM (#3892793)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

As long ago as 05 Sep 17 - 12:07 PM, I posted a link to the first published review which appeared in a rather unlikely place - in The Economist. I commented on the review that it was a factual account and a precis of the contents rather than any statement about the value of the book or a comparison with anything that has been published in the past.
Steve Gardham reacted to this in a rather wise way writing, As you say, Vic, a fair precis, but no critique. Part of the problem we face is there are not many people about who are truly qualified to criticise what it has to say. Where were going to find a person with such qualifications? Well, I think that this person has been found!
Here is the lengthy review published in the Folk Music Journal (Volume 11 * Number 3 * 2018 - pages 127-130).
I ought to point out that in separate conversations with both author and reviewer that both have expressed strong mutual admiration for the work that the other has completed and that they have both been members of the Editorial Board of the FMJ, Britain's foremost academic folk music journal for many years. I do not feel that this in any way invalidates the review:-

Folk Song in England

Steve Roud. London: Faber and Faber, 2017. 764 pp. Bibliog. Index. ISI5N 978-0-571-30971-9. ?25.00 hardback, ?14.99 ebook.

This is the most significant, important, and interesting book on English folk song published in my lifetime. The book is well presented, well organized, and written in a clear and accessible style. Some themes recur in the book, but I never feel this is wasteful. I like Roud's writing style, which is very down to earth, and he has a knack of throwing in pithy comments which are both arresting and get to the heart of the point he is making. Julia Bishop contributes two excellent chapters on the musical aspects of folk song, avowedly not Roud's own area of expertise. Anyone with the slightest interest in the subject should buy a copy immediately, read it at leisure, absorbing its wisdom and reflecting on its contents. Do not let the size put you off - it offers a rich and fascinating body of material that can be returned to again and again.
Let me preface the rest of the review by saying that any disagreements I have with Roud are of meagre significance when balanced against the book's virtues, for they are many. In terms of the broad thrust of the book I am totally with Roud, who has done the folk song research community a great service by pulling together a lot of the ideas and critical points that have been debated over the last few decades. Nor can even a long review compass the richness of his book, so my comments are selective.
Discussing Sharp's 1907 Some Conclusions, Roud comments, 'we must guard against easy assumptions' (p. 444). This is something Roud studiously observes. He is scrupulous in finding and considering evidence and generally coming to well-reasoned conclusions. After an introduction and an introductory chapter, the book is organized in three parts which deal with the history of scholarship and collecting, the ways in which folk song is part of a wider musical world from which it derives .and which contributes material, and a final part that considers how folk song lives in different musical contexts. The book constitutes a very good history of the folk song movement in this country, asks profound questions about the nature of folk song and contributes a whole range of interesting insights.
Unlike some writers who have tried to move away from the term 'folk song' because of its problems with definition and ideological baggage, Roud embraces but radically redefines it. Central to the book is the notion that folk song is not a particular genre but a practice. "It is not the origin of a song that makes it 'folk', but what the 'folk' do with it", he remarks (p.23). For some, wedded to older notions, Roud may seem iconoclastic; to those who have kept pace with changing approaches to the subject, he provides a timely account of where the centrality of the study of traditional song in this country is now located. For Roud, 'the social context of traditional singing is the key to understanding its nature, but is also precisely the component which has often been neglected in past discussions of the subject' (p. 4). To him, it is 'the process through which songs pass, in the brains and voices of ordinary people, which stamps them as "folk". Therefore, songs that the common people have adopted as their own, regardless of origin, constitute in some way or another their collective voice and are "folk songs" (p. 22).
Roud is not interested in condemning the collectors of the past for their shortcomings, though he is critically aware of them; rather, he assesses their strengths and weaknesses without judging them in an ahistorical way. Early in the book he writes, 'they were not interested in documenting the whole range of songs sung by working people, nor were they particularly concerned with the social context of that singing, or the lives and opinions of the singers. But we are' (p. 7). 'The early collectors set us on the wrong track by stressing origin as the main definitional characteristic of folk song, but we now have serious reservations about this approach' (p. 21). '[T]he collectors were so selective that the picture of "folk song" they left us is extremely partial' (p. 23). It is this partiality that Roud strives to correct.
His account of the history of collecting and scholarship comes up to the third quarter of the twentieth century. It is an informative and lively account and I will focus on it in this review. Generally, Roud deals fairly with significant figures in the history of the gathering of English folk song. I was amused by his description of Joseph Ritson as 'the original Mr Angry', but he gives a good appreciation of his contribution to scrupulous editing. At times Roud can get exasperated with some more recent writers: 'Unfortunately, it seems to be de rigueur to take a side-swipe at the early folk-song collectors and to castigate them for not providing what we now wish to know' (p. 530). He describes Harker's work as 'facile bourgeois bashing' (p. 177). Early on he writes, 'we do not hold with the facile notion that the men and women featured in this book operated as a group and worked to expropriate the culture of the working class for their own class purposes, and we believe that the evidence does not support this interpretation of events' (p. 45). What he most resents is the lost opportunity as such negativity 'became the new orthodoxy, and the early collectors came under fire from all sides' (p. 8). This orthodoxy 'is only now showing signs of losing its grip' (p. 177).
I have much sympathy with this assessment, having had barely digested Harker fed back to me by academic colleagues looking for a reason to write off folk song studies. Nevertheless, I think it is a shame that, perhaps so put off by Harker's style and manner, Roud cannot see the good analysis and pioneering nature of some of his work. It is true that later in the book Roud writes appreciatively of Harker's extensive work on Tyneside song. But it should be remembered that Harker was one of the first to deal critically with some of A. L. Lloyd's 'editorial tinkerings and sleights of hand' (Roud's words, p. 21), and to deliver an iconoclastic blast against the almost religious awe in which Cecil Sharp was held in many quarters. Apart from some contemporary critics of Sharp, the only people I know of to have previously attempted any significant (though not extensive) critique of Sharp were those gathered around the magazine Ethnic in the late 1950s, notably Mervyn Plunkett and Reg Hall. The circulation numbers of Ethnic were tiny, but its influence on thought on the subject among a few people was profound. I could be wrong, but I think the influence of these activists was an important element in Roud's intellectual make-up.
Compared to his treatment of Harker, Roud is much kinder to Chris Bearman, who (in the context of criticizing the Grainger biographer John Bird) is said to have led the charge against such myth-making, and in the process swung the pendulum a little too far in the other direction' (p. 145). I think this is rather gentle: Bearman was not beyond making some myths of his own. It is sad that we will never know how Bearman would have reviewed this book, but it is interesting to think about it!
A. L. Lloyd's 1967 book is described as 'highly readable, genuinely inspiring, and admirably fulfilled its purpose as an introduction for beginners', and Roud recognizes that 'those who finally get to the stage of expertise required to offer a valid criticism have invariably got there because of that earlier work' (p. 180). He acknowledges the rising tide of criticism against Lloyd and with a convincing demonstration comes to the view that Lloyd 'is too willing to extrapolate from little or no evidence, which is where the journalist and the romantic take over from the scholar' (p. 181). As someone deeply indebted to, but also critical of Lloyd, I feel Rood pulls off the difficult task of appreciation and necessary criticism very well.
Rood approaches the idea of overlapping multiple musical traditions when he writes, 'there will be more than one tradition within most communities, which can be seen as the individual threads in a woven fabric. Any one person will belong to several groupings, and many allegiances will change over time' (p. 35). This is a fruitful idea, but one that seriously challenges ideas of authenticity, the 'otherness' of folk music, and what being traditional means, as does the whole thrust of Rood?s work.
There is much else I could discuss - unevenness in the ways class is discussed in the book, Rood?s interesting views on folk revivalism, the inevitable emphases and seeming gaps that will exist in any account of the subject, but I must respect editorial limits. Rood really supplies that 'measured and insightful assessment of the history of our field' (p. 177) that he craved in the past but found absent. His achievement is to have written a sort of alternative history of music which is very different from almost everything that has come before. Generally speaking, it is the openness of his approach that I find particularly admirable. Unlike many previous writers on the subject, he asks the questions and considers the evidence before he comes up with answers, and the answers are themselves sometimes quite provisional in nature. There are many passages in the book where he delivers excellent assessments of areas of debate: for example, on Grainger's relationship to the Folk-Song Society, or the nature and quality of Alfred Williams's work.
This is a large book, but no space is wasted. There is some cross-referencing, but this multifaceted subject is dealt with in enough detail to explore different and often fascinating aspects. Readers are guided towards deepening their understanding of the subject through further reading. If I were still teaching university courses on folk music I have no doubt I would make it a set text. I would take a whole academic year over studying it and allow time for students to investigate the primary and secondary material to which Roud refers. Students would be greatly enriched by the experience and emerge with enhanced critical abilities and a good grounding and understanding of the subject. Each individual who delves deeply into a field develops a unique understanding and appreciation of that field; we should be grateful that Roud has shared his with us, for it is rich and enriching. I cannot see the book being matched or surpassed in the foreseeable future.
Vic Gammon
Hexham


08 Dec 17 - 09:08 AM (#3892794)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

I still have not finished reading Folk Song In England - being out of the country for over a month hasn't helped but my instinctive feeling is that this book is best read in small doses, a chapter at the time, to allow the brain time to absorb the implications before moving on to read and digest another aspect.

The day after reading the review by Vic Gammon which I posted above, I read this passage (pages 442 ? 444) which seem to encapsulate very much of the attitude and approach that Steve Roud brings to his book: -
It has been reliably claimed that 90 to 95 per cent of the items at Victorian and Edwardian collectors noted as 'folk songs' had appeared on broadsides in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This in itself no solid indicator of a direct link between print and oral tradition, but coupled with examples of direct testimony from singers about the quality of the songs from broadsides and songbooks, and the growing number of studies using internal evidence, the trend is abundantly clear.
Most of the folk-song collectors were scathing about the quality of the: broadside songs but were well aware of the fact that many of their singers had definitely gathered their material from print. Lucy Broadwood, for example, stated, 'The words of many country ballads are derived. directly or indirectly, from broadsides and Alfred Williams:-
. The songs were mainly obtained at the fairs. These were attended by the ballad-singers, who stood in the market-place and sang the new tunes and pieces, and at the same time sold the broadsides at a penny each. The most famous ballad-singers in the Thames Valley in recent times were a man and woman, who travelled together, and each of whom had but one eye. They sang at all the local fairs, and the man sold the sheets, frequently wetting his thumb with his lips to detach a sheet from the bundle and hand it to a customer in the midst of the singing.
This is not to argue that all singers learntall their songs from print - far from it. Henry Burstow, the singer from Horsham, Sussex, gives direct evidence on this question in his Reminiscences of Horsham (1911). After writing of learning songs from his parents and other people he knew or met, continues:-
The remainder I learnt from ballad sheets I bought as they were being hawked about at the fairs, and at other times from other printed matter. I remember, when quite a boy, buying for my mother of a pedlar, as he sang in the street, the old ballad 'Just Before the Battle Mother'. This was her favourite song.
We have less direct evidence for the earlier centuries, but it is clear the manuscripts which are analysed in earlier chapters that people regularly copied songs from broadsides into their own notebooks.
Two things are now abundantly clear. Firstly, once printing had been invented, there was never again a pure 'oral' tradition, but oral and print were: intimately interwoven. Secondly, the songs that the ordinary people turned into 'traditional' or 'folk' songs were normally written by outsiders and reached them first in printed form.
For these reasons alone it would be essential for us to fully understand the genre, but a close knowledge of the broadside and chapbook trade is also important for more practical reasons. Whatever the characteristics of an 'oral tradition' may be, its undeniable failing for historical enquiry is its almost complete lack of a datable evidence trail, and the temptation this offers for wishful speculation on the part of commentators is enormous.
A song collected from a shepherd or a dairymaid in 1903 might have been knocking around the village for 200 years, or they might have learnt in the previous week, and without this information we have no basis on which to assess or investigate the workings of 'the tradition'.
As the accumulated evidence mounts up, it seems increasingly that the broadside texts were indeed the originals of many songs, because they were written specifically for that medium, and we therefore have a welcome opportunity to get to grips with questions of what really happened to songs when they entered a local tradition. If we know how they started and how they ended up, we can at least start to investigate what happened in between.
Supporters of 'oral tradition' are often understandably wary of such comparative work, because it is so easily couched in terms designed to prove the degenerative and unreliable nature of 'oral tradition', but used sensitively it could actually demonstrate what is built into many a definition of 'folk song' ? that transmission within a healthy tradition is a positive force and, by selection and variation, results in 'better' songs. Or it could simply reveal the essentially conservative nature of the singers? attitudes to song texts and the fundamental fidelity of their memories.


08 Dec 17 - 09:21 AM (#3892797)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Thanks for that Viv (hope you enjoyed your trip)
I've been doing a fair amount of research on Roud's 'redefinition' of folk song of late and it appears to be based on what 'the folk' listened to rather than something they participated in the creation of
It seems to me that good research on something that is long defunct is based on extending past research rather than turning it on its head and kicking it out of the window, which is, I feel, what he has done.
Jim Carroll


09 Dec 17 - 05:01 AM (#3892927)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley

Steve's book has just fallen on my face as I lost my grip on this weighty tome (me - lazily semi recumbent and reading in the Sussex winter sunshine). I'm about one third of the way through and so far finding it fascinating. Much musical stuff goes way above my head of course but there's tons to stimulate the grey matter. Steve reminds us, and we've known for years that 'The Shepherd Adonis' clearly written by someone with more than a smattering of education, transmogrified into one of our favourites 'Shepherd of The Downs' and mysteriously gained a final verse - that's what makes the whole damned thing so intriguing. Unless there were a plethora of 'Peasant Poets' like John Clare knocking about the place I'm inclined to believe that your average farm labourer or industrial worker was not responsible for a lot of original composition, not because he or she didn't have the imagination or intelligence, but because illiteracy was pretty common. There again Steve tells us that we shouldn't underestimate just how literate people were back then...oh dear a lot of my pre-conceived notions are flapping quietly out of the window.


09 Dec 17 - 05:25 AM (#3892930)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" I'm inclined to believe that your average farm labourer or industrial worker was not responsible for a lot of original composition, not because he or she didn't have the imagination or intelligence, but because illiteracy was pretty common."
I intend to say a bit more on this, but I'm inclined to agree with James Hogg's mother, Margaret Laidlaw, who was part of a song-making tradition, when she warmed that putting her songs into print would ruin them
‘They were made for singing an’ no for reading; but ye ha’e broken the charm now, an’ they’ll never be sung mair.’
Roud has confined his comments to the material gathered in largely Southern England at the beginning of the 20th century when the oral tradition was well into its death throes, but I refuse to believe that rural English workers, even at that time, were any less creative than their brothers and sisters in Ireland and Scotland, who were busily making songs tht reflected their lives, experiences and feelings.
I menat to thank Vic fort re-penin this thread - saved me the trouble
Jim Carroll


09 Dec 17 - 06:31 AM (#3892949)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Jon wrote:-
"I'm inclined to believe that your average farm labourer or industrial worker was not responsible for a lot of original composition, not because he or she didn't have the imagination or intelligence, but because illiteracy was pretty common. "


That's what I would suspect also, but the thing about Steve's writing in this book is that anything that anyone is "inclined to believe" is inadmissible to Steve unless there is firm historical evidence to support each statement. It calls for an entirely different, more disciplined way of thinking and challenges us to re-examine some core beliefs. Your final phrase "pre-conceived notions are flapping quietly out of the window." sums this up perfectly.

Incidently, do you share my difficulty in squaring Steve Roud, the clear, challenging and original thinker that emerges in the pages of this book with Steve Roud, the genial, gentle humourist and good listener that we meet in Sussex Traditions management meetings?


09 Dec 17 - 07:41 AM (#3892968)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

""pre-conceived notions are flapping quietly out of the window." sums this up perfectly. "
Steve and Steve Gardahm's claims, challenge the preconceived notions of Child, Sharp, Maidment, Bronson and virtually every researcher who has ever put pen to paper on the subjet over the last couple of centuries, including those who were working while Britain still had a thriving oral tradition and a prosperous broadside industry.
Unless more evidence than both the Steve's have put forward to date than hss been forthcoming so far, I certainly am not prepared to accept what has been put forward so far, simply because it does not make logical sense.
I still remember the feeling of wanting to find out more I came away with from Bert Lloyd's 'Folk Songs of England' - the enthusiasm generated still remains a part of my life half a century later
I came away from Roud's book in despair - "how could we all have got it so wrong for so long?" - or I would have done if I had taken the claims seriously.
For me, it was the same effect I felt when I read Harker's 'Folksong', though, luckily, then there were enough people around to question Harker's claims and reject them
I think it was Vic who put up the Guardian review - I was immediately impressed with how quickly one of the spokesmen for elitist Art Establishment leapt on the suggestion the 'The Folk' didn't make their 'Folk Songs' - "real" artists have always been uneasy that amateurs could produce what they make their living at - and the idea that illiterate or semi-literate peasants coul write poems and make songs.... welll 'who do these people think they are'
I feel that Roud's book would have been better named, 'English Pop Songs', because basically, that's what it was, with all the differing genres lumped together under the 'Folk' umbrella.
I sincerely hope that these claims do not do the damage to folk song scholarship that similar ones have done to the Folk Song Revival - we will know that they have when 'I Don't Like Mondays' is given a Roud number (given Roud's re-definition - why not?)
Jim Carroll


09 Dec 17 - 08:18 AM (#3892971)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Harker's 'Folksong'"
Fakesong' of course
Jim Carroll


09 Dec 17 - 11:17 AM (#3892997)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

"...when 'I Don't Like Mondays' is given a Roud number (given Roud's re-definition - why not?)"

For one thing, Jim, Roud regards folk song as a historical phenomenon, and makes it clear that the folk revival is outside his field of interest.

For another, even if you accept that the revival repertoire constitutes a tradition of itself, 'I Don't Like Mondays' would be a very weak candidate for canonization. I've never heard it sung from the floor in all the years I've been going to clubs and song sessions, and if the much-respected but famously eclectic Dave Burland hadn't started performing it several decades ago, it would never have come up in these discussions.


09 Dec 17 - 11:59 AM (#3893010)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Maybe I should have said Hank Williams !
I know Mary Delaney sang some of his, though she refused to sing any of her C and W songs for us as she said they weren't old and they were different from her "daddy's" songs
One Traveller we met grew up knowing Seven Gypsies and Lord Randal - he sang us 'Roses of Heidelberg' and 'You Will Remember Vienna'
Whence "everything a traditional singer sings is a folk song' in these cases?
This 'definition' becomes ludicrous when you examine it closely
" I've never heard it sung from the floor in all the years I've been going to clubs and song sessions,"
In those recent arguments Brian; it was argued that because Dave Burland sang it at a club it merited the title 'folk'
The problem with all this is, of course, tat once an individual or group of individuals unilaterally take it upon themselves to re-define a term that has been around for as long as 'folk' has, they open the door to anybody wishing to do the same
Then the term becomes meaningless and any chance of consensus and communication disappears.
I don't think you knew Walter, but we had long sessions of talk with him where he explains why some of his songs are 'folk' and others are not.
He, like Mary, refused to sing his Victorian songs and early pop songs; "I don't know why people keep asking me for them old things"; yet his version of 'Put a Bit of Powder on it Father' now proudly bears a Roud number.
Walter would have been Mortified, but as far as I'm concerned, he holds a place of honour next to Child, Sharp et-al as having ""pre-conceived notions" that are "flapping quietly out of the window."
I've never spoken to Steve Roud for any length of time, but I have met with disdain, condescension and insults elsewhere when I have challenged some of these ideas - from a major proponent o them - doesn't auger well for a good, flexible discussion on the subject.
One of Steve's co-authors once old Pat and I that all our ideas on the singing of Irish Travellers was "wrong, because she had studied the subject at college"
When we wrote the article on Walter for Tom Munnelly Festschrift, we entitled it "A Simple Countryman!!) in remembrance of the time when we had been told by a well know researcher that that Walter" must have been got at" because of his expressed views on folk songs.
Dangerously elitist stuff, as far as I'm concerned.
Arbitrarily re-defining folk song smacks of the same attitude, in my opinion
If the theories propounded in Roud's book are taken seriously, it marks the end rather than the beginning of intelligent discussion.
Jim Carroll


09 Dec 17 - 01:08 PM (#3893029)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

"I don't think you knew Walter, but we had long sessions of talk with him where he explains why some of his songs are 'folk' and others are not.

He, like Mary, refused to sing his Victorian songs and early pop songs; "I don't know why people keep asking me for them old things"; yet his version of 'Put a Bit of Powder on it Father' now proudly bears a Roud number."


I didn't know Walter, though I was lucky enough to hear him sing more than once. I don't doubt he, like other singers, could tell the difference between an older and a newer song and express a preference. But I can't see how Steve Roud could not have given 'A Bit of Powder' a number without setting himself up as arbiter of which of Walter's songs were 'folk' and which were not.

Even Cecil Sharp noted down songs that he knew were originally commercial products, even if he didn't usually publish them.


09 Dec 17 - 01:31 PM (#3893035)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Even Cecil Sharp noted down songs that he knew were originally commercial products,"
I have no problem with the fact that a number of roadsides and stage songs passed into the tradition, bt the suggestion that has ranged fro 93 to 100 percent it beyond the pale as far as Im concerned
Ironically, non-literate Travellers were responsible for putting many on to ballad sheets.
The oral tradition is an incredibly complex subject which has been componded by the fact that nobody really bothered to ask the singers anything much beyond their names and where they got their songs - little different than butterfly collecting
"'A Bit of Powder'"
it's a composed stage song, just as the two pieces I mentioned earlier were light opera
Different source, different sound, different function
What would have happened if Phil Tanner had sung Verdi arias as many South Welsh miners choirs did - would they merit Roud numbers?
This "anything a traditional singer sings" redefinition is a new kid on the block
We have an agreed definition, flawed as it might be, is as good as any, though that was a compromise to incorporate traditions of different nations.
I'm aware it needs changing, but any changes need to be agreed by all concerned otherwise we lose our base of understanding
Jim Carroll


11 Dec 17 - 07:20 AM (#3893307)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Billy Weeks

I have followed the cutlass play in this thread with fascination. Very instructive at more than one level. But to turn, briefly, to the book itself, I have just read Vic Gammon's review in the Folk music Journal. He says 'This is the most important and interesting book on English folk song published in my life time'. And '[I]t is rich and enriching. I cannot see [it] being matched or surpassed in the foreseeable future'.


11 Dec 17 - 07:46 AM (#3893314)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

I cannot see [it] being matched or surpassed in the foreseeable future'.
Depressing thought-
Neither can I Billy, if it is taken passively and not discussed fully
No good quoting favourable quotes unless you address the contradictions that the book raises.
Jim Carroll


11 Dec 17 - 11:37 AM (#3893360)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Billy Weeks

Well Jim, I’m just an infant in this field and I wouldn’t presume to ‘address the contradictions that the book raises’. If it does raise contradictions, they have been examined in detail and at considerable length by yourself and others in this thread. What impressed me in reading Roud’s own words was the respect he had for the opinions of others, insisting on examining the available evidence before reaching his own (often tentative) conclusions. And he always draws attention to uncertainties caused by gaps in the historical record which may never be filled.

Roud’s approach strikes me as honest and refreshing — and Gammon’s evaluation is surely fully justified.


11 Dec 17 - 11:39 AM (#3893361)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Billy Weeks

Sorry about the question marks. There must be some way of teaching Mudcat to handle quotes and apostrophes.


11 Dec 17 - 12:37 PM (#3893368)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"What impressed me in reading Roud?s own words was the respect he had for the opinions of others, "
Funny you should say that Billy
Anybody who can arbitrarily discard a century or so's research and unilaterally re-define the term folk-song' without consultation doesn't show a great deal of respect in my opinion
I would say, that these are main quibbles with a somewhat large and otherwise extremely educational work, but they are pretty important ones
Jim Carroll


11 Dec 17 - 12:59 PM (#3893372)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"There must be some way of teaching Mudcat to handle quotes and apostrophes."
It appears to be something we have to learn to live with for the time being
Jim Carroll


12 Dec 17 - 06:14 AM (#3893497)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones

There seems to be an element of "damned if you do and damned if you don't". The early collectors have been criticised for being highly selective and only recording those songs which they considered to be 'proper' folk songs. Later collectors saw the importance of trying record a singer's entire repertoire without putting value judgements on the material. The purpose of the Roud Index, if I understand correctly, is to identify songs found in the oral tradition. That necessarily includes songs which which had clearly only recently entered the oral tradition from the stage. However even those often show variations between different singers - at what point do these slight variations become sufficient for them to have undergone the transformation required to become a 'folk song'?

As for them serving a different purpose, whilst Walter Pardon apparently saw a difference between different parts of his repertoire, I wonder whether the same was true of his audience? I suspect for them the purpose of his songs, whether folk songs or not, was simply to provide entertainment on a Saturday night in the pub.

As Jim correctly says, the oral tradition is an incredibly complex subject. Traditional singers performed material from many different sources, sometimes only to satisfy their audience but in other cases because they genuinely liked the songs. It appears to me that definitions should be used for guidance rather than to exclude. I am sure that most scholars are able to make appropriate distinctions depending on what aspects of the tradition they are studying.


12 Dec 17 - 06:24 AM (#3893499)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

The review of this book in fRoots magazine appears on page 65 of the December 2017 issue. In the penultimate sentence of his review, Steve Hunt reaches the same conclusion as Dr. Vic Gammon (above) does in the first sentence of his -

Folk Song In England
Steve Roud
Faber & Faber (ISBN 978-0-571-30971-9)
Pete Seeger, in an interview with The New Republic, once recalled his father saying: "The truth is a rabbit in a bramble patch. And you can't lay your hand on it. All you can do is circle around and point, and say, 'It's in there somewhere'." English folk song is a well-documented subject, yet the truth about its origins, transmission, environment and mechanics often appear contradictorily elu?sive. Originally published by Faber & Faber in 1967, the paperback edition of AL Lloyd's Folk Song In England carried this Melody Maker quote on its back cover. "It is unlikely during your lifetime any book on folk music half so important as this will be published." The arrival, 50 years later, of an identically-titled book from the self-same publisher anticipates something epochal - a book that exists not just to expand previous knowledge but to supplant accepted truths.
With fRoots' resident academics all previously engaged to author lengthy critiques for learned vernacular music publications like Folk Music Review or Metal Hammer, the task of appraising this book has somehow befallen me - a (perhaps) typical folk Joe Soap whose previous study falls well short of extensive research in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, but extends a fair way beyond fleeting Mudcat Cafe visits to confirm the continued absence of singing horses.
Steve Roud is the founder of the Roud Folksong Index (started in 1970 and now standing at 250,000 entries) and co-editor of The New Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs. Folk Song In England, like The Streams Of Lovely Nancy, divides in three parts: "Chart?ing The History Of Folk Study"; "Folk Song In The Wider Musical World" and "Folk Song In Its Natural Habitats", with two chapters (the ones most directly concerned with musical theory) by Julia Bishop. Happily, Roud doesn't view himself as 'an academic' either (he apparently prefers to be thought 'scholarly') so despite the book's daunting scale, it's far more accessible than one might expect or fear. Of course, it's not an airport novel. A typical passage (for those shallow types who like to get straight to the pulse-quickening stuff) reads: "As a rule of thumb, we can suggest three broad divisions characterised by the way the notion of sex is introduced into the song: inference; euphemism; and explicit naming of actions and parts. These three categories can be expanded into seven levels..."
It's that very ability to present complex subjects in easily-digestible, bite-sized pieces that makes Folk Song In England so indispensable. Roud describes his work as "primarily an exercise in evidence-gathering." Whilst that may appear a self-deprecatingly modest assessment, his brilliance is attributable to a long and peerless devotion to the librarian skills of cataloguing, indexing and cross-referencing. Steve Roud has read every one of the publications indexed in this book's 31 page bibliography and for that I thank him most sincerely. In so doing he has enabled me to exponentially expand my understanding of the process of tradition by reading just one.
I'll refrain from calling Folk Song In England "definitive" on the basis that Steve Roud - a man whose entire working life has been driven by the conviction that there is always more to discover, would be appalled by the claim. The plain truth is that there won't be a better or more important book abut English folk song in any of our lifetimes. And you can stick that in your bramble patch and point at it.
www.faber.co.uk
Stephen Hunt


Incidently, on that same page as this review is my review of As I Walked Out: Sabine Baring-Gould And The Search For The Folk Songs Of Devon And Cornwall Martin Graebe Signal (ISBN 978-1-909930-53-7)
My final sentence of my review reads This volume will stand alongside Steve Roud's as major studies of traditional song.


12 Dec 17 - 06:39 AM (#3893502)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Whilst agreeing with the vast majority of what Howard Jones says in his thoughtful post, could I amplify one point? - that songs recently entered the oral tradition from a variety of sources, the stage being only one of them and comment on one other - whilst I take the point that he makes about an audience's reaction to different aspects of singers' repertoires, I don't think that Walter Pardon was ever much of a pub singer.


12 Dec 17 - 07:04 AM (#3893504)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Once again a positive review without a single attempt to discuss the problems that the claims of this book raises Vic
What underwhelms me about tis discussion is the total absence of any evidence to reservations I have made - an attempt to pass them through on the nod, without debate.
Apart from these, I have no major problem with the book.

Simply put, they are:
Our folk song repertoire is made up overwhelmingly of rural songs and songs concerning occupations such as seagoing and soldiering; they contain many small details of rural life, trades, rural vernacular speech.... knowledge that is not ready available to the outsider.
These songs are so universal and timeless in their makeup, that wherever they may have originally been made, as them move they were taken up and accepted as genuine representations of life and experience - a process that often took place over centuries.
The detail that went into their construction gives them the appearance of having made by the people themselves to express their own lives and emotions.

They express large chunks of our social history with a partisan eye - sailors describing life at sea, soldiers fighting wars abroad, followed by huge armies of camp followers, the effects of the land-seizing enclosures on the rural population, forced marriage in order to better the lot of social climbing families at a time when the nobility was being deposed by the rising tradespeople....

All this is represented generously in our folk songs in such a skilful way that it would take an outsider with the genius of Dickens, or Hardy or Steinbeck to create what are in fact miniature works of art from the point of view of the 'ordinary' people.
We are asked to accept that 90 to 100% of these songs were created by desk-bound, urban-based, notoriously bad poets "hacks", working in conveyor belt conditions for money.
Bring all the recommendations you like (Steve Gardham has already resorted to that one); for me, turning research history on ist head and dismissing the opinions of Child Sharp, Maidment and virtually every scholar that has laid pen to paper on the subject needs much more of a discussion than that   

The only way the claimants of the 'first in print' is by a spectacular and Unilateral exercise in repetition by moving the goalposts in order to include pop songs of the past, music hall compositions, Victorian Parlour ballads - mostly with known composers.
These bear no relation whatever to the folk songs I have been listening to for the last half century
Jim Carroll


12 Dec 17 - 08:10 AM (#3893513)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"repetition"
Damn spellcheck - should read "redefinition"
Jim Carroll


12 Dec 17 - 09:29 AM (#3893531)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Certainly some songs were written specifically for broadsides, by a range of writers some of whom can only be called "hacks", some of whom had greater skills. And certainly some were written for the stage or the pleasure gardens and then copied for broadsides. And certainly some were made by individuals whom we might identify as "folk". I think the disagreements are only about the relative numbers.

Given that situation, a few examples that fall clearly into one or other category won't prove anything about the proportions. Nevertheless I would be interested to see Jim cite some examples of songs that he believes embody in their words evidence of having been made by the "folk", not ones such as he has already cited about events in Ireland but from the classic late 19th and early 20th century collections.

Taking as an example songs about shepherds, ploughboys or milkmaids, it does seem to me that they mostly paint an idealised version of country life, calculated to appeal to a middle-class urban audience, rather than reflecting the hard reality for most of the people engaged in rural labour.


12 Dec 17 - 09:52 AM (#3893535)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Will do so later Richard, but I suggest that, if you have it, work your way through the published Sharp/Karpeles collection - plenty of examples there
Harry Cox once sang Betsy the Serving Maid to Alan Lomax and spat out at the end of it, "and that's what they used to think about us" - he found the song convincing
He went into a long diatribe about the seizure of public land when he sand Van Diemen's Land.
Has anybody ever worked out why broadside hacks should take up the cudgels on behalf of criminal poachers or cases of social misalliance?
Damned if I can work it out - they would have to have been social reformers
He same with complaints about seagoing conditions.
If you read Hugill's 'Sailortown' he presents areas frequented by silors ashore as no-go areas, yet we have all these 'landlubber-made' songs    (supposedly) about sailors seducing well-heeled townswomen and getting the better of boardinghouse-keepers, publicans and tradesmen - marvelous examples of "one for our side!"
Why should townies write songs in praise of people who were generally mistrusted and feared?
The same es for the garrison towns where militaery men were regarded the same by the civvies (except in wartime, when they became expendable heroes)
A simple test Richard, just see how a traditional song 'fits the mouth' and is still easy to relate to centuries after it was composed and compare it to the general output of the broadside hacks
Chalk and cheese for me
Jim Carroll


12 Dec 17 - 10:29 AM (#3893540)
Subject: Lyr Add: THE MOWING MATCH
From: Jim Carroll

Richard
This is one of the best examples of a rural-made folk-song using vernacular speech and trade terms I have ever come across
It was recorded by MacColl and Joan Littlewood some time in the 1940s (I think) for a radio programme they made called ?The Ballad Hunter?
Seamus Ennis recorded a 6 verse version of it from around the same area for the BBC in 1952 - in both cases it was sung to the tune 'The Nutting Girl'

From the BBC index.
"Singer: Becket Whitehead. 1.52    Delph, nr. Oldham, Yorkshire. 24.5.52 (S.E.)"
Jim Carroll

THE MOWING MATCH
1    Come all you jolly sporting men
Who love good ale to quaff,
I'll tell you of a moving match
Took place at Brindley Croft.

2    There war Kirby up at Tree-end Clough
And a lad from t' lower-end,
And what those two lads did that day,
Their fame'll never end.

3    Now, Kirkby wur a Tunstead man,
Frae t'houses up i' t' wood,
Among then top-end movers
There war not one so good.

4    And of a' these lads i' Friezeland,
And chaps that moved right weel,
There war one ca'd Tom o' Fearny Lee,
?T could make ?em come to heel.

5    They came up out of Friezeland,
Wi' scythes 'bout shoulder height,
The Lanky lad he carried t'sway,
He could all the movers fight.

6    But Kirkby he stepped up and said,
"Tha munna bother me,
For if that does, I'll tan thy hide,
This day I'll let thi see."

7    There were Bill o' Breadstrup, Cowtail,
Delph-Johnny and Singing Tom,
Small Benny and Bold Bowman,
Frae't lower-end did come.

8    There war many an owd trail-hunter,
And many a real owd un,
And t'finest lads at wrestling
For fifty miles around.

9    Free Grange and Castle-Shaw they come,
Horse-whipper lads so strong,
Wi' necks as red as fighting cocks,
And backs as broad's as long.

1O    An? all these short-head starters.
An' gamblers an' all,
And all those privily wives
They were sitting in a row.

11    Then Krkby's wife spoke up in front,
"Now Jack, my lad," said she;
"If that gets licked wi' t'lower-end,
Tha'll bide no more wi' me."

12    Then Bandy Jack o' Waterside,
Be held the starting gun,
"Come on," he said, "you bold young lads,
It?s time to start the fun."

13    T' lower-end lad was up on 'tleft,
And Kirkby down on t'right,
Their scythes were held dipped into t'grass,
A good and manly sight.

14    Then Bandy Jack o' Waterside,
He fired the starting gun,
And off these mighty mowers went,
T'battle had begun.

15    Wi' flashing scythes these two stout lads
Went chargin' up the field,
Each stroke laid low two yards o' grass,
And neither one would yield.

16    Stroke for stroke they both advanced,
Until the turning-row,
Then Kirkby made a wider sweep
An' t'crowd all shouted, "Go!"

17    T' sweat wur glistening on their backs
And running in t'lads eyes,
But neither one'd mop his face
For fear he'd lose the prize.

18    And when t'owd clocker shouted "Time!"
They both were well-nigh done,
T'crowd wur roaring fit to burst
To see which one had won.

19   Then Bandy lack o' Waterside,
And Gibby from Bleak-Hey,
They both agreed that t'Lower-end lad,
Had won the match that day.

2O    But Kirkby wur not satisfied
About his measurement,
So for Harry o' Thurston-Clough
Two willing lads were seat.

21    And Barry wi' his measuring rod,
He knelt down there i' t'field,
And soon he said t'Lower-end lad
To Kirkby'd have to yield.

22    T'Lower-end lad had cut more length,
But Kirkby'd cut more grass;
A mighty cheer rose up from
Every Friezeland lad and lass.

23    So Kirkby won the mowing-match,
And that concludes my tale,
So new we'll toast good sportsmen all.
In a glass of Friezeland ale.


12 Dec 17 - 03:33 PM (#3893602)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

"from the classic late 19th and early 20th century collections". Not pieces by local writers (Jack o' Racker) that had very limited currency then, Richard?

Cracking folksong of course written in 1842, like many another 'Friezeland Ale' etc., in the Saddleworth area. Ammon Wrigley did a great job in writing songs and bringing together local dialect pieces.


13 Dec 17 - 02:39 AM (#3893644)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

"Incidently, do you share my difficulty in squaring Steve Roud, the clear, challenging and original thinker that emerges in the pages of this book with Steve Roud, the genial, gentle humourist and good listener that we meet in Sussex Traditions management meetings?"

...said Vic Smith...and yes I most certainly do!

What a debate! What foxes me are the classical references, the 'Goddess Diana's' and the 'Bright Phoebe's' and how they entered the unlettered lexicon and imagery of the classes to whom we are constantly referring. Or do they only apply to the 'few' songs written/printed by professionals' and picked up and changed through the oral tradition?It is interesting that Jim should have chosen to reproduce a song of such length and factual accuracy to demonstrate the ability within the labouring class to compose material - Bob Copper collected one such from Frank (Mush) Bond in Hampshire, 'The Dummer Sheeners Song'. Amongst the many singers Bob recorded, Frank was extraordinarily well read. He wrote extensively and quoted freely from his prodigious memory and as Bob says he would draw from this store rather than plagiarise when composing erudite works hardly-ever-to-be-read. You can read about him in Bob's 'Songs and Southern Breezes'. But he was the exception rather than the rule.


13 Dec 17 - 02:50 AM (#3893645)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jon Dudley

Sorry should have checked in as Jon Dudley for the last piece...


13 Dec 17 - 03:17 AM (#3893646)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

"But he was the exception rather than the rule."
Precisely, Jon. The exact point I keep making.

On a slightly different note I'm sure you are fully aware, some of the songs in your own family repertoire are glee songs from the 19th century glee clubs, the classic examples being 'Spring Glee' and 'Dame Durden', both of which I have sung in the past directly from your family repertoire.

Also songs like 'Warlike Seamen' were originally written by the captain involved in the battle, but Phil was a member of the landed gentry. How his song came to be in the repertoires of many people and was printed in greatly differing forms on broadsides is anyone's guess.


13 Dec 17 - 04:07 AM (#3893652)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

The fact that English worker dialect poets like Ridley, Samuel Lackock, "Joseph Skipsey, John Axon and Samuel Bamford could continue to create the masterpieces they did without caricaturing their class as the broadside products did is proof enough that working people possessed the same ability and desire to represent their lives as the Irish working people did by producing locally made songs in their thousands right up[ to the death of the tradition - certainly not the exception.
The case was the same for England.

"In the Victorian period, galvanized by the Chartist movement from the 1830s to the 1850s, working-class poets increasingly identified their literary work with working-class politics. As scholar Peter Scheckner points out, "Chartist poems were read every week by hundreds of thousands of active Chartist workers and supporters throughout England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland; the ideas and commitment behind these works were translated month by month into political action." The Chartist movement is represented in the exhibit by the work of Gerald Massey and Ebenezer Jones, both of whom also worked for the Chartist press."

Not all these songs were good and not all of them passed into an oral tradition, but they were produced out of a desire to have a voice and not for money, as the broadsides were.
Nor were they as universally bad as the broadsides were.
It is totally artificial to exclude what was happening in Ireland
Sharp and his collegues were carrying out what amounts to 'a study in a dying culture' when working people were moving rapidly from being active participants in their culture to being passive recipients.
What was happening in Ireland represented a healthy creative folk culture right up to at least the mid 1940s
I have no argument with Roud in general, but I find the almost single-handed attempt to re-define folk song breathtakingly arrogant and to use that definition to dismiss the beliefs of those whose work we owe our undertang to out of hand, without qualifying that disimissal (unless you accept Steve Gradham's "romantic nonsense" and adequate qualification) even moreso
Jim Carrol
Ji
Jim Carroll


13 Dec 17 - 04:17 AM (#3893655)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley

"On a slightly different note I'm sure you are fully aware, some of the songs in your own family repertoire are glee songs from the 19th century glee clubs, the classic examples being 'Spring Glee' and 'Dame Durden', both of which I have sung in the past directly from your family repertoire."

Absolutely Steve and we normally introduce them as such.

Although it's a fascinating study to conjecture where and how the songs came about, we are equally interested in how and why the ones in our repertoire came to be chosen, cherished and loved quite so much. We feel a distinct and almost visceral connection with previous generations when singing them and by thinking about why they chose those particular songs - it certainly helps inform us about their characters more than say a photograph would....I dunno, I ain't no scholar.


13 Dec 17 - 03:18 PM (#3893791)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Jon, you are as much a scholar as anyone else on this forum and we welcome your input. There is as you must know an enormous amount of respect and gratitude to you and your family for preserving and more importantly keeping alive this tradition and these songs.


JC
Nobody on any of these threads has made any attempt whatsoever to exclude (or deny or downplay) what was happening in Ireland and it is ridiculous to make such a suggestion!!!! In fact many of your adversaries have gone out of their way to praise your work and all you can do is call them names.


14 Dec 17 - 04:12 AM (#3893899)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"what was happening in Ireland and it is ridiculous to make such a suggestion!!!!"
You couldn't possibly deny what has hppened in Ireland if you wanted to - in the field of collecting, Tom Munnelly's work ranks internationally
There has been a concentrated effort to exclude what has happened in Ireland to arriving at an intelligent understanding of how the singing tradition worked, claiming it to be somehow "different" - your own argument.
It most certainly was not and it provides us with the most recent picture (apart from the Travelling communities) of a living oral English-language tradition.
We are never gong to know for sure who made our songs but any reasonable assessment of what might have happened will have to be made by taking everything we have to hand otherwise 'made for profit by bad poets' re-defining crowd will have been given a free hand
I'm not prepared to let that happen
There have always been people around who have advocated that working people were not able or not willing to give voice to their experiences - folk song has been the stumbling block to this claim up to now
Now the knockers are queueing up to leap on the idea
Jim Carroll


14 Dec 17 - 05:49 AM (#3893908)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

Can someone remind Jim of the title of the book under discussion.


14 Dec 17 - 06:02 AM (#3893913)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley

That's kind of you Steve, although we are but a single link in a very long chain.

Seems that we're no nearer getting at the truth in terms of authorship.


14 Dec 17 - 06:07 AM (#3893914)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Folk song in England, do you mean
Aren't there any Irish people living in England then?
The two traditions are inseparably connected, socially, politically, artistically and by language.
The Irish tradition is full of songs that probably originated in Britain - there were more Child ballads extant in the latter half of the twentieth century in Ireland than there were in Britain - and in a far better condition.
I repeat from above:
I attended a talk given by Peter Cook once where he discussed the richness of the oral tradition in Aberdeenshire, particularly in relation to the Greig collection
He projected a 19th century map of the area onto a screen and then superimposed a plan of all the railways, roads and canals being worked on at the time"
THe workers on those railways, roads and canals in the mid 19th century were Irish, and Cook's conclusion was that one of the reasons for the great richness of the New Deer song tradition was the Irish influence.
Irish, English and Scots Travellers were freely moving songs about Britain without even having access to literacy.
One of the great feature's of America's Library of Congress collection is that it it totally aware of foreign influences in its native traditions - Britain maintains its Brexit -like approach towards English song
Jim Carroll


14 Dec 17 - 06:23 AM (#3893919)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Steve Gardham wrote:-
"in the Saddleworth area. Ammon Wrigley did a great job in writing songs and bringing together local dialect pieces."


In Chapter 18, "Nowt as Queer as Folk: Dialect and Local Songs", Roud makes a special case for Lancashire. On page 569, he writes, "There was certainly a strong tradition of local dialect songs in Lancashire going back to at least the eighteenth century."
Elsewhere he writes that the county was not one that was satisfactorily investigated by the Victorian and Edwardian collectors but that he finds evidence of much local pride and a sense of ownership in their dialect songs as well as poems. On that same page he writes:-
Dialect poets rarely tackled the subjects that regular poets did, but concentrated on everyday lives of the common people of their area or the commonplace sights and sounds of their home places. They were very often comic and a common devise was the invention of a local 'character' through whose eyes the scenes and situations coild be described.


14 Dec 17 - 06:32 AM (#3893920)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

I had not checked the text scan properly from my previous post. It is always tempting to accept the text scan when it is usually more than 99% accurate but in the three lines in italics above -
"devise" = "device"
and
"coild" = could"


14 Dec 17 - 08:42 AM (#3893943)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

> produced out of a desire to have a voice and not for money, as the broadsides were.

Undoubtedly true, but of no significance to subsequent singers of those very songs (i.e., "tradition").


14 Dec 17 - 08:48 AM (#3893945)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

THese poets represented a small number that managed to capture public attention - the same prevailed in Ireland when poets like Tómas Hayes published poems (referred to as "songs") which had largely been styled on local singing styles), two of which passed into the local styles (see 'Farewell to Miltown Malbay' and 'Nora Daly' on the Clare County Library, Carroll/Mackenzie website)
Along with Hayes's compositions there were hundreds of anonymous songs which passed into the local tradition and survived into the mid 20th century (see above website; The Bobbed Hair, The Leon, Mac and Shanahan (2 songs) The West Clare Railway, Dudley Lee the Blackleg, Thew Rineen Ambush..... and many others
This appears to describe what was happening all over Ireland
All these are still regarded as 'traditional' locally and archived as such by the local cultural group.
They would have been ignored by Sharp and his colleagues or maybe not even sung as the word "old" did not apply to what was being asked for.
We know that hundreds of songs were being made during the Reform and Chartist campaign; the political newspapers ran a 'Sam Henry' like column gathering them in
It is inconceivable that this wasn't also the case during the Luddite, Swing, Rebeccaite, Merthyr disturbances, but to sing them publicly would be to run the risk of imprisonment or transportation.
John Holloway's Oxford Book of Local verse indicates that song-making was common throughout England.
There is no reason to believe that our poaching songs and others involving transportation were not local responses to the most extreme examples of public land seizures that were taking place in the 19th century.
The Clearances in Scotland produced their own repertoire of songs, composers like Maire Ruadh were known, but many songs remained anonymous
The point of all is that, far from having to rely on private enterprise for songs, humanity seems to have been natural songmakers with a need to record their experiences and feelings in verse.
My favourite summing up was given to a 95 year old small-farmer a few years ago, when he told us, "in those days, if a man farted in church, somebody made a song about it" (worth repeating as often as it is needed as far as I'm concerned.
Jim Carroll


14 Dec 17 - 01:41 PM (#3893990)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Sigh!
I don't remember anyone denying the existence of local songs and song-makers, some of which lasted long enough in oral tradition to be called folk songs. I gave examples from my own collecting and no doubt other field workers could come up with plenty of examples. Very few of these, for one reason or another, made it into the national corpus.

The point is, the corpus under discussion (as we have repeatedly written) was that body of material noted down in c1890 to c1920 mainly in southern England, by the likes of Sharp, Gardiner, Baring Gould, Kidson, Broadwood, the Hammond brothers, Butterworth and Vaughan Williams and a few others. It has been shown that of that corpus 89% had its earliest manifestation in some form of urban commercial enterprize. Those (unlike JC) who have studied for many years the relationship between many examples of oral tradition and commercially produced ballads are of the opinion that the likely figure to have originated in this way would be closer to 95%.

To state that conditions in mid-20th century Ireland were the same as in rural Britain c1800 is a ludicrous statement, but we've been through all of this before ad nauseam.


14 Dec 17 - 02:13 PM (#3893998)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Sigh!"
And you were doing so wellPlease don't start patronising me again Steve - it really doesn't help
"I don't remember anyone denying the existence of local songs and song-makers,"
You dismissed them Steve

Subject: RE: 'Historical' Ballads
From: Steve Gardham - PM
Date: 14 Apr 11 - 05:45 PM
As for farmers writing songs, I have plenty of examples of these myself, but they very seldom get the chance to enter oral tradition. In fact none of the ones I recorded were ever sung by anyone else but the writer.

Elsewhere you said they were too busy earning a living to make folk songs - happy to dig that out as well if it helps
"To state that conditions in mid-20th century Ireland were the same as in rural Britain c1800"
I didn't say the conditions were the same - a said that regarding the culture, the sitution was the same - both had every reason to make songs reflecting their lives - in fact, the harder the conditions, the more reason to complain about them in song, as was shown by the number made following the famine
If you haven't already, I suggest you get hold to Terry Moylan's The Indignant Muse and see how many were wade during the mass emigrations, the evictions, the land wars and the fight for national independence - 700 pages worth
The English agricultural worker must have been very nesh to be silenced by hard work
The corpus you are talking about were covered time when the tradition was dying and Mrs Laidlaw's prophesy was being fulfilled.
We don't have a cle about how far they go back apart from those dealing with historical events
Jim Carroll


14 Dec 17 - 02:40 PM (#3894001)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

There are plenty of clues if you actually study the material, who wrote them, stylistic clues, as well as the many that are based on historical events.

****Elsewhere you said they were too busy earning a living to make folk songs****Not quite what I said, but fairly close. The vast majority of the rural population in the early 19th century lived in abject conditions one step above slavery and there are multiple reasons why they would not have had the inclination to make their own songs, particularly protest songs. Those that did have the creative urge and there were probably enough very rarely came into contact with a printer, and that is obviously how the majority of the national corpus songs were spread around the country, whilst also allowing for migratory workers.

****The corpus you are talking about were covered time when the tradition was dying**** And this is relevant because? I don't remember anyone stating otherwise.


14 Dec 17 - 03:14 PM (#3894006)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"There are plenty of clues if you actually study the material, who wrote them, stylistic clues,"
There are plenty of stylish indication, particularly the use of vernacular and familiarity with subject matter (all of which you have attempted to explain away rather than give rational reasons for) to suggest that they come from the people they represent.
The overall stile of broadside writers is that of clumsyiness - doggrell.
Taking that period as representative of the tradition is like describing a footballars skills after he has retired with a leg injury - it represents nothing
"I don't remember anyone stating otherwise."
Aren't you one of those who has re-defined folk song to include everything a traditional singer sings - Roud is
The conditions of rural England were certainly no worse than those of Ireland - in the period you are talking about a million had been wiped out by famine, another million endured enforced emigration, those that stayed at home faced eviction, land wars, two major uprisings - not to metion comscription into other people's wars.... the riches period for Irish song-making - not despite the conditions but because of them
What te hell have printes got to do with it - songs were made to be sung, not to be sold - that has always been the case
That seems to be a concept you are unable to grasp
One of the great oversimplifications if the idea that these songs were mede simply as entertainment and they were works of the imagination - they most certainly were neither
Jim Carroll


14 Dec 17 - 06:57 PM (#3894031)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

I think a Bell rings in Jim's house when anyone writes to this thread - particularly if it is not within his view of Folk Music.....

Ding Dong Bell............

Tim Radford


15 Dec 17 - 06:11 AM (#3894067)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"I think a Bell rings in Jim's house when anyone writes to this thread "
It's a pity the houses of more 'folk enthusiasts' aren't fitted with bells time
I continue to be appalled at the lack of response to an important (in my opinion) unilateral rethink of (in my opinion) to be an important art form
Thank you for not caring
Jim Carroll


15 Dec 17 - 06:44 AM (#3894072)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones

I have hesitated to enter this argument because I'm not a scholar or a collector, and neither have I yet read the book (it's on my Christmas list). Instinctively I agree with Jim that the 'folk' themselves must surely have been capable of creating their own songs - besides Jim's own experience in Ireland, it just seems to me incredible to think that they would not have included creative people in their number. We have only to look around us today to see how many creative people come from working-class backgrounds, so why should it have been any different a century or more ago? Especially when the lack of social mobility offered fewer opportunities for talented people to escape from the lives they were born into. Neither literacy nor education are needed to create songs, simply an instinctive grasp of one's own language. I don't buy the argument that life was too hard to be creative - boring, monotonous, repetitive work is an ideal opportunity for a creative mind to distract itself, and they were not short of subject matter.

Nevertheless it appears incontrovertible that a significant number of songs can be traced back to printed sources, and whilst there may be disagreement over the proportion this is something which should be capable of being quantified fairly accurately given sufficient research. However I don't think that matters much - it is the process of transformation which turns it into a folk song, not the original source. I don't think this undermines the idea of what is 'folk song' or deny the creativity of those singers who shaped it into the form in which it was eventually collected.


15 Dec 17 - 06:52 AM (#3894076)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Howard Jones gives what seems to me a very fair summary -- despite having not yet read the book. But I would add one comment. The transmission from the printed form(s) (which were surely in most cases the forms which achieved wide distribution, whether or not one of them was the original) to the collected versions was in most cases via only a few steps of transmission, in the course of which the variation went in more than one direction, but often in the direction of degeneration rather than refinement.


15 Dec 17 - 07:38 AM (#3894084)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Nevertheless it appears incontrovertible that a significant number of songs can be traced back to printed sources"
Thanks for that rational summing up Howard
The only point I disagree with is the one above
Unless you can prove without question that no oral versions existed before the printed ones, none can be confirmed to have originated on broadsides or elsewhere.
I have no problems that some probably did, it's the enormity of the claim I find impossible to accept
MacColl's Song Carriers statement started this argument between Steve and I:
"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."
I have always accepted that without question, just as I have been aware of how many folk songs appeared on broadsides since my friend, Bob Thomson, first described his researches back in 1970
Steve Gardam swept MacColl's statement aside somewhat contemptuously as naivety, and here we are.
There really is not much room for discussion with an attitude that is as dismissive of the ideas of other people as that
I've always thought that the best way to understand the folksong enigma is by bringing all the information we have together along with all previous reseach and arriving at an educated guess based on the sum total.
What has happened here is a rejection of major previous research of the best of our scholars and an arbitrary redefinition
We are no longer discussing the mame music
RTim talks about "my view of Folk Music" - I have chosen to take the view argued by the shelf loads of researchers which stretch back to the 1850s to the present day.
We know that an orally composed tradition dates back as far as the 8th century when The venerable Bede described:
"cattlemen passing around a harp and singing 'vain and idle songs'."
Maybe the Rev was a 'starry-eyed romantic too!
Jim Carroll


15 Dec 17 - 07:41 AM (#3894085)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

The larger point is not that the unlettered created songs, but that they very enthusiastically adopted commercial songs that were written *for* them.


15 Dec 17 - 07:58 AM (#3894088)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Does it have to be an either-or? Lighter?
Popular music created commercially has long been with us - that tells us nothing about whether people chose to reflect their own thoughts and experiences for themselves in song, which is what I believe folk song to be about
If they didn't the folk has been relegated to having no traceable voice in their own existence - as serious as that
Jim Carroll


15 Dec 17 - 08:07 AM (#3894092)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones

In reply to Richard Mellish, it has to be acknowledged that the folk process can work both ways, and that in some cases we have ended up with mere fragments, whether through poor editing of the story, mishearing or misunderstanding, or simple forgetfulness. However it does strike me that in many cases the printed sources are over-long, over-elaborate, and excessively flowery in their use of language. I imagine a longer song appeared better value for money when broadsides were being sold. Tastes change, but I wonder whether they were ever regularly sung in full or whether most singers chose to edit them down for performance, even when working from the printed version. The folk versions usually seem to reduce the story and simplify the language - whether that is degeneration or refinement seems to me entirely a matter of taste.


15 Dec 17 - 08:43 AM (#3894099)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Regarding the use of printed sources Howar, we invariably found that they were regarded rather ambivalently - few learned them fully, rather, they fortified already songs by borrowing verses.
Some treated them with mistrust, even disdain.
A typical example of this was when recorded an hour-long story from a local storyteller which we later found in a book, Patrick Kennedy's 'Fireside Romances'
When we asked the storyteller whether he knew about it, he replied- "Yes, but Kennedy has it all wrong - them fellers always do"
That reflected the attitude of several singers.
The over-riding attitude was to treat the written word as sacrosanct and unalterable
The whole question of literacy is a complicated one in itself.
When Victoria came to the throne Education was for the wealth only, it was passed on to the poor by the Ragged Schools run by volunary teachers anxious that they should be able to learn to read the bible.
A third of the population were regarded as literate, largely the Urban better off - hardly any of the labouring poor could read and none could write.
It has been suggested that people bought broadsides and had the songs read to them, so we have poor people "living in abject conditions one step above slavery" who "would not have had the inclination to make their own songs", yet were happy enough to spend what they had on these song sheets and find the time it would take to be taught them by the few who could read.
If they didn't like the versions they had bought, they would then take the time to edit out the bits they didn't like.
In Ireland, which has a large number of songs probably originating in England, they had the added problem that in many rural areas, the first language was Irish, with many hardly able to speak English, let alone read it.
Yet still, in the mid seventies, fifty Child Ballads were still extant in the repertoires of country singers
Jim Carroll


15 Dec 17 - 08:44 AM (#3894101)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

It is rather incongruous that this thread should divide so clearly into pro- and anti- what Steve Roud has written in this book when the book itself is so full of the likes of "on the other hand...", "another way of interpreting this data might be...", "It could be argued that...." etc. He bends over backwards to give a balanced interpretation.
Over and over he tries to move the emphasis from the origin of folk song (which is full of pitfalls as this thread and many other discussions show) to its development and changes during transmission once it has become widely sung enough to enter the oral tradition. For one thing, that gives a much stronger basis for a evidential approach which he totally endorses.
His clarion call is for further research and for researchers to concentrate on a factual, data based approach. He disapproves strongly of assumption without proof and regrets the lack of data in key areas and calls for more detailed study.
This should appeal to everyone who is interested to bring more focus and discipline in their thinking. To my mind, that is the most radical aspect of this book. I always read Howard Jones' posts here with interest - he seems to write a lot that is balanced and sensible, but in a recent post Howard wrote, "Instinctively I agree with Jim that the 'folk' themselves must surely have been capable of creating their own songs..." and then he constructs his arguments to support this. I'm sure that I would have fully endorsed such statements in the past but after reading this book, I have a voice whispering in my ear, "...but instinct is no longer enough."


15 Dec 17 - 10:04 AM (#3894123)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"He bends over backwards to give a balanced interpretation."
There's very little point in saying what Roud does unless you address what he has actually said Vic
"but instinct is no longer enough."
It never has been - common sense is what is going to produce something and the rejection of research carried out over centuries is hardly that
Jim Carroll


15 Dec 17 - 10:42 AM (#3894132)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

I've been reading Folk Song in England. Here are some quotes – please read them carefully!

To take one example from hundreds, The dark-eyed sailor has repeatedly turned up in tradition in more or less identical shape.

Pretty surely it had a single author. If one day we find the author’s name – and it is not impossible, for all the collected versions derive ultimately from a Catnach broadside of the late 1830s – does The dark-eyed sailor at that moment cease to be a folk song?
Without question, however, the greatest influence of print on folk song comes from the broadsides.

Some specialists would try to keep the broadside ballads and songs entirely separate from the rest of folk song, and to consider them as a category apart. In fact the two kinds are as mixed as Psyche’s seeds, and probably the majority of our ‘folk songs proper’ appeared on stall leaflets at one time or another, in this version or that. The broadside-ballad maker as a rule was no artist, no poet, but a craftsman of sorts, a humble journalist in verse who, for a shilling, would turn out a ballad on a subject as readily as his cobbler cousin would sole a pair of shoes. He might provide a song based on news of actual events, small or large, local or international. Or he might invent a romantic story of love, crime, battle or trickery, and make the ballad out of that, like a present-day author of pulp magazine fiction. Or he might take a song already current in the countryside and refurbish it a little for publication.

Writers in the past have stressed so heavily that whatever folk song is or is not, it is essentially an oral affair whose intrinsic character derives from the peculiarities of mouth-to-ear-to-mouth transmission. Well that is only true in part. We see that in thousands, indeed millions, of instances the words of folk songs reached their singers by way of print.


Ah ... which copy of Folk Song in England have I been reading? All the quotes above are from Bert Lloyd's book, chapter 1.

Derek


15 Dec 17 - 10:43 AM (#3894133)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

ignore the silly question marks!


15 Dec 17 - 10:57 AM (#3894136)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones

Vic, I agree that instinct is a poor guide to scholarship, and perhaps I have chosen evidence to suit my arguments. There is little evidence anyway from the time we are talking about since the composers of such songs were not recorded, but it is not unreasonable to extrapolate from other more recent evidence. It appears quite extraordinary to me to suggest that the English working class in the nineteenth century were incapable of creating their own music and song. If that were truly the case they would surely be unique in the world. Even without evidence, there must surely be a strong presumption that at least some songs must have originated amongst the folk themselves. How widely they would have spread beyond their own community, and whether they were likely to survive to be collected, is a different matter.

There is obviously disagreement over what proportion of the folk song canon was created internally, so to speak, and which came from printed sources. The proportion in favour of the latter is clearly larger than some would like to admit. My question is, why should it matter? What makes them 'folk songs' is that they were meaningful to the people who valued them enough to pass them on, and in whose mouths they evolved and changed. Whether or not we know who wrote them, and whether that person was a ploughboy or a poet, seems to me to be entirely incidental, and irrelevant to the essence of a folk song.


15 Dec 17 - 10:59 AM (#3894137)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

****the rejection of research carried out over centuries is hardly that****

As modern historians will tell you there is a lot wrong with past scholarship. It can be extremely biased and is based upon nothing like the resources we have available to us nowadays with modern technology. With less bigotry and no hidden agenda modern historians can afford to be much more honest.

Child had limited resources, his preferences were weighted by his own elite background, and he also admitted that he was very unsure of the selections he was making. He also, despite his reservations regarding street lit., included a great deal of it.

Sharp had his own agenda which included ignoring the influence of broadsides even though he was well aware of it. Baring-Gould and Kidson were much more knowledgeable when it came to song backgrounds.

Personally I don't put much store in MacColl's scholarship, but I don't think he made many claims in this direction. He was a performer and actor primarily and only produced scholarly works near the end of his life. I certainly wouldn't go to his sleeve notes for accurate information, any more than I would Lloyd.


15 Dec 17 - 11:04 AM (#3894138)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

Derek, you sly fox.


15 Dec 17 - 11:09 AM (#3894140)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Howard,
Who is suggesting that "the English working class in the nineteenth century were incapable of creating their own music and song"? Please read the previous postings more carefully. I don't see anyone suggesting this, least of all Steve. Of course some of our folk songs originated in this way. I can give you plenty of examples from my own collecting. For a variety of reasons very few made it into the national corpus of folk song.

I am in complete agreement with you and probably most of the people here. Why should it matter? It is the process that makes a folk song; origins are irrelevant to that. That is not a contentious issue.


15 Dec 17 - 11:12 AM (#3894141)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Brilliant, Derek. Hero worship!!!


15 Dec 17 - 11:34 AM (#3894147)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

Well done Derek for going back and reading what Lloyd wrote.
I too went back and re-read parts of his book - but could not be bothered to extract quotes in the way you have - well done for that.

Although I am very interesting in the whole aspect of where songs came from, etc., and I should also add - I too have not read Steve's book (but I know the man) - However I am increasingly bored with the intransigence of certain correspondents.

No one is stopping them having their views - just don't keep telling us we are wrong, or that we don't care. Let us just agree to disagree and then keep singing the songs we love - whether or not they fit someones definition of a bloody folk song!

And support your local "Folk" song clubs.........

Tim Radford


15 Dec 17 - 12:26 PM (#3894156)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"the English working class in the nineteenth century were incapable of creating their own music and song"?
I said "incapable or unwilling
"As modern historians will tell you there is a lot wrong with past scholarship. "
Down to the nitty-gritty - Child et al were wrong - why didn't you say that in the first place - it would have saved so much time?
"Personally I don't put much store in MacColl's scholarship, "
Personally, I don't put much store in yours Steve, but that's beside the point
MacColl never claimed to be a scholar - he mistrusted desk-bound academics, and I'm beginning to see why
Despite this, he did more work, on his own and with others, on analysing songs than anybody else in the revival, from the point of view of a singer who wanted to sing the songs.
Carthy's programme on the Critics Group was rather spitefully called "How Folk Songs Should Be Sung" - in fact it was the opposite
The Group examined the songs minutely to see what they actually said about the subjects they handled - one of the first questions we were encouraged to ask was, "what were the possible reasons this song was made in the first place?"
Over the nearly ten years existence of the Group, it produced some interesting answers and left those with a desire to find out more in those involved - far from the feeling of anger and depression Roud's book and your claims have produced in me.
MacColl's work with the Critics was recorded and survives for examination - let's hope it outlives the necrophobia that still surround everything MacColl ever did!
The result of Child's and Sharp's (apparently flawed) work survived up to the present day, despite close examination and constant acceptance and use
From them I got reasoned arguments and logical claims which stood the test of thirty odd years of our own field work.
From you I got contradictory excuses and arrogance.
I honestly don't know where you stand on folk song
You describe one of the finest Irish broken token songs as "a bloody awful song" because you are unable to grasp the context of terms generated by the Hedge School system
You offer as an excuse for the poor versifying of broadside hacks that the oral tradition cleaned up their songs, while at the same time denigrating that same oral tradition by comparing it to the work of "the lowest apprentices in the printers at the bottom of the market".
Your explanation of a poor version of "Higher Germany:

Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Steve Gardham - PM
Date: 18 Apr 12 - 02:46 PM
Its poor construction and inconsistency might suggest having come from oral tradition, but it could also be down to the fact that such jobs were given to the lowest apprentices in the printers at the bottom of the market. It's not possible to say whether it precedes or derives from 'High Germany'

You claim that Child was beginning to change his mind about broadsides.
You say that hard pressed, production line hacks studied newspapers to educate themselves on agricultural or nautical terms and equipment
You suggest that the same hacks served at sea, worked on the land, espoused social causes because secretly they were social reformers
You claom an anonymous 'school' of hacks who were capable of producing folk songs, despite their kind being justly regarded as notoriously bad poets....
These are not the result of good research or scholarship - they are hastily grabbed excuses to explain away problems you haven't considered.
I don't even know if you like folk song - you certainly give me the impression that you don't understand it.
Your approach to discussion is not co-operation but a quesdtion of "them and us"
from your talk:
"As they rightly say I can offer little proof of my findings and most of the evidence I have is circumstantial. On the other hand they can offer even less evidence to counter my opinions."
That is neither true, nor does it encourage mutual co-operation to seek the truth.
Your approach to being challenged has been one of resentment, talking down to, and occasionally open hostility
None of us have definitive answers, some of us appear to think we have.
Discarding the century or so's opinion and actual work of the people who were responsible for giving us what we have and what we know is hardly going to help
Child didn't know what he was talking about - must write that down!!!
Unbelievable - at so many levels
Jim Carroll


15 Dec 17 - 12:41 PM (#3894160)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Great thanks are due to Derek for doing the obvious thing and pointing us to a re-reading of the first chapter of Lloyd!
Having read in pages 26 - 36 what he says about the dominance of printed sources in English folk song, especially the paragraph on page 36 that starts:-
In Britain, print has been the normal condition for folk song texts since the sixteenth century.

It makes setting up a Lloyd v. Roud argument sound rather silly.


15 Dec 17 - 12:46 PM (#3894161)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Well done Derek for going back and reading what Lloyd wrote"
Did you miss the statement which was probably the truest thing anybody ever said about the definition of folk song?
"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'.
Jim Caarroll


15 Dec 17 - 12:49 PM (#3894162)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

These statements on folk songs appearing on broadsides are all a bit straw-mannish, by the way - nobody has ever suggested that they didn't -not in my presence anyway
Jim Carroll


15 Dec 17 - 01:11 PM (#3894166)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

Hmmm. I find no Roud number for "The Coal-owner and the Pitman's Wife."

If the song never entered "tradition" before it was unearthed in 1951, was it a folk song? Is it now? Do we know if, in its day, it was ever sung as a song rather than merely recited as a poem? How many singers must there be before a song can be considered "traditional"?

Doesn't tradition imply some degree of popularity?

"Searching for Lambs" and "The Outlandish Knight," however, are well and widely attested as songs, with numerous folk variations.

So, if "tradition" is a criterion, what (other than wishful thinking) places "The Coal-owner" in the same category ("folk song" or "traditional song") as the other two?

Not being contentious. Just thinking aloud....


15 Dec 17 - 01:22 PM (#3894169)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Steve Gardham wrote -
"As modern historians will tell you there is a lot wrong with past scholarship. It can be extremely biased and is based upon nothing like the resources we have available to us nowadays with modern technology. With less bigotry and no hidden agenda modern historians can afford to be much more honest."


I'm afraid that my thoughts on this take me off-topic but ultimately I hope this has relevance to the fact that accepted history can be challenged and ultimately previously accepted norms changed.
Throughout my secondary education, one of my two favorite subjects was history. In my first term, I was taught by a Cambridge History graduate that following the Roman withdrawal from Britain and before the arrival of Anglo-Saxons and Vikings that England reverted to a condition that was similar to conditions that existed in the Iron Age. Much later I found claims of this nature existing in academic histories written in the 1930s. I was taught this in 1953 - and yet the discoveries at Sutton Hoo were made in 1939. The war held things up yet by 1950 those discoveries were revolutionising opinion about late 6th and early 7th century England. Yes, it was true that England reverted to being an unwritten society; yes it was true that England no longer minted coins but Sutton Hoo findings tells us of a society that had the highest artisanal skills, that society was highly structured and the coins found there showed us the East Anglians traded with Algiers, Egypt and Constantinople.

My history teacher was a lazy man. He was not keeping himself up to date with recent fact-changing findings. History had changed and i was being taught a lie.


15 Dec 17 - 01:51 PM (#3894174)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

I am suddenly struck with the similarity of the discussions here with other folk related discussions that have happened over the years.

I refer to whether Morris Dancing should be preformed by Women, and the more recent controversy of Backing Up in Border Morris - Historical arguments abound in both cases - but really, it nearly all blew over eventually, and no one was really right or wrong - everybody carried on with what they wanted to do...........

It's the "Carrying On" that is important; Isn't that what Tradition is about?

Tim Radford


15 Dec 17 - 02:01 PM (#3894177)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

>
It's the "Carrying On" that is important; isn't that what Tradition is about?

"Carrying on" with variations. Obviously.

So, without variations, with no known singers till the '50s, where does "The Coal-owner" fit in?

The point, if there is one, is that in practice the category of "folk" or even "traditional" song can expand or contract according to the preferences (I almost said "whim") of the speaker or writer.


15 Dec 17 - 02:51 PM (#3894180)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Confirmation that Child didn't know what he was talking about then Vic
Why am I not surprised?
Research based on the denigration of the work of others such as those we are talking about here is beyond acceptance s far as I'm concerned
We mays as well all fold our tents and go home as whatever conclusion we come to here, like the 25 bus, there's bound to be another aspiring scholar along in a minute.
"Doesn't tradition imply some degree of popularity?"
Not really
"If the song never entered "tradition" before it was unearthed in 1951, was it a folk song? Is it now? "
"Seemingly it was made at the time of the 1844 Durham strike by a collier, William Hornsby of Shotton Moor"
We have unearthed several hundred songs, among Travellers and from West of Ireland singers, that bear all the hallmarks of tradition'
Serious work on collecting did not really get undeerway till the beginning of the 20th century, and collecting from miners half a century later when the NCB commissioned Lloyd and others to undertake the task
If you only collect one version you've more than likely missed any others
If you examine Roud's numbering system you fill find many which have appeared as single versions - including many of ours
The Travelling community was making songs like mad right up to the point their tradition disappeared in the mid seventies.
"Acceptence" rather than "popularity" is probably a safer term to use
Jim Carroll


15 Dec 17 - 03:20 PM (#3894184)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Once again the paraphrasing and misquoting and taking things out of context are coming out. At no point have I suggested that Child or Sharp or MacColl were totally wrong. Nobody is perfect and if we look at any scholar's work in previous eras we will find mistakes. As it happens I have enormous respect for all 3 as do most scholars. That does not mean they are beyond criticism. Next you'll be pulling out your old favourite, we mustn't speak ill of the dead!

JC, your adoration of these earlier scholars is tantamount to religious bigotry.

Vic, we keep coming back for more of this rubbish. I'm out.


15 Dec 17 - 03:23 PM (#3894185)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

"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'.
Jim Caarroll,

Not if they are sung by football fans at their matches, and are altered by the singers at the time this makes them folk songs according to the 1954 definition.


15 Dec 17 - 03:27 PM (#3894186)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

Valley Floyd Road, oh mist rolling in from the Thames
my desire is always to be here at Valley Floyd Road
many miles have I travelled, many games have I seen
following Charlton my favourite team
many hours have I spent with the Covered End choir
singing Valley Floyd road my only desire."
an example of a folk song according to the 1954 Definition


15 Dec 17 - 03:41 PM (#3894189)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Okay, just one more, 500.


15 Dec 17 - 06:12 PM (#3894207)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

Jim Carrol described Samuel Laycock as an "English worker dialect poet"

His father was a handloom weaver. Samuuel came into the world when "Trade wur slack". He learned to read and write in part at Sunday school (though he did have a short time at day school). At nine years old he began work in a woollen mill at two shillings a week, working six in the morning until eight in the evening with brief breaks for meals. At eleven he got work as a power-loom weaver, and (says a biographer) his first effort at rhyming was written on a "cop ticket" and was addressed to a fellow operative.

Wind the clock on the the Cotton Famine when he began to write his Famine Songs. His biograper says "week by week they were published in the local papers and large numbers were issued as broad-sheet balads. Many of these were learnt by heart and sung by lads and lasses in the streets of the town"

Later he moved away from factory work, with mixed success.

So was he a "worker poet" and if so was he also a "broadside hack". Was he, like Ammon Wrigley before him, an exception and if so what is the evidence for that? Simply that there are not many similar accounts? Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Was he an exception only in that he was succesful enough to be published and if so, is he no longer one of 'the folk'?


15 Dec 17 - 06:36 PM (#3894210)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

Jim wrote:
"Well done Derek for going back and reading what Lloyd wrote"
Did you miss the statement which was probably the truest thing anybody ever said about the definition of folk song?
"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'.
Jim Caarroll

Indeed, that is one of my favourite quotes from his book, though not relevant here really. I quoted this passage only this year at one of the Traditional Song Forum meetings. Jim - you should come over to England to one of these meetings some time. Could be an interesting debate!

Derek


16 Dec 17 - 04:19 PM (#3894234)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

"is he no longer one of 'the folk'?" Ah now, that would be the 64,000 dollar question. To what extent and for how long were Burns, Clare, Hardy, perhaps even Shakespeare etc., 'one of the folk'?

To what extent is my singer/writer of songs about his own life as a farm labourer 'one of the folk'?

My own inclination would be to treat all of the broadside writers from about 1750 onwards as part of 'the folk'. BUT, in my own opinion it is impossible to say with any direct dividing line this person was part of 'the folk' and that person wasn't. There are though those miraculously talented people on Mudcat who can.


17 Dec 17 - 02:34 AM (#3894266)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

''22Did you miss the statement which was probably the truest thing anybody ever said about the definition of folk song?
"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'.
Jim Caarroll
the above statement is nonsense, little boxes and the red flag are folk songs under certain circumstances, eg.. if they are sung by football crowds, the red flag also uses a traditional tune.
jim, is trying to define folk songs according to his agenda, a certain sound[ eg the use of the major key the dorian mode and the mixolydian mode.
'The Outlandish Knight'. Searching for Lambs' and 'The Coal-owner and the Pitman's Wife'., are songs that i like, but whether i like them and whether jim carroll likes them does not make them folk songs acording to the 1954 definition,


17 Dec 17 - 02:37 AM (#3894267)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

i am beginning to think that they are no longer folk songs but have become art songs, the seem to be preserved in aspic, rather like museum exhibits they are certainly not sung by many folk now and neither are they continuing to evolve, the outlandish knight is not sung by football crowds, either.


17 Dec 17 - 04:30 AM (#3894278)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Once again the paraphrasing and misquoting and taking things out of context are coming out. At no point have I suggested that Child or Sharp or MacColl were totally wrong."
As far as the main thrust of this argument is concerned - the origin of folk song, that is exactly what you have proposed - you present Child and all those who shared his view as "wrong" [15 Dec 17 - 10:59 AM] and Sharp as an agenda-driven distorter of facts [same posting]
In fairness to you, it is the only way you can get away with what you are claiming - that up to the present day they all got it wrong, either through ignorance or intent.
If that does not need discussion (without the patronising talking down to, if possible) nothing does
These people were drawing their conclusions at a time when the tradition was alive and the broadside trade was thriving.

"To what extent is my singer/writer of songs about his own life as a farm labourer 'one of the folk'? "
Burns was not just writing about his own life, he was making poems on whaat was happening all around him, as were all these poets -
That is what all folk song is anyway, not introspective musings but reportage of social history - and not done for money or fame but from the desire to share what was happening - all songs started with one or a small number of composers.
Go read what Maidment has to say about it (probably another starry-eyed romantic, in your book!)
Burns was fairly typical in his early poetry; first inspired by Betty Davison, a frequent visitor to his home who "had the largest collection in the county of tales and songs concerning devils, ghosts, fairies, brownie, witches, warlocks, spunkies, kelpies, elf-candles, dead-lights, wraiths, apparitions, ....... and other trumpery" - in other words, a master singer/storyteller of the time.
We were told of these by descendents - like the local man (father of one of our singers/storytellers), who would start his story on Monday night and carry it throughin episodes till the week-end
When you ran out of arguments in our earlier clashes, you resorted to telling me how many people agreed with you - I'm quite happy with the ones that share my view

Something from Vic I meant to take up earlier.
"I don't think that Walter Pardon was ever much of a pub singer."
Walter's family tradition was never centred on the pub, the only time he knew of his uncles singing away from the Harvest Suppers and family gatherings was when he was taken to North Walsham when his Uncle Billy attended Union meetings
The singing was done in the meeting room when it official proceedings were finished.
Sam Larner went to sing in the local, The Fisherman's Return, once a week and sang the same few songs each time - Butter and Cheese and Maid of Australia being two of them, yet Sam had a repertoire of something like sixty songs - probably more
Sam was recorded telling Parker and MacColl that "The real singing happened at home or at sea".
The bulk of our folk songs are narrative, often quite long and detailed - miss a couple of lines and you miss the sense of the song - pubs are not a sympathetic environment to these songs - they never have been.

The situation in Ireland bears this out - the venue for finding was where people got together in small groups to share songs, stories and local gossip - referred to as 'cuirds' (pro. "coors") over here
Elsewhere, it was done at gatherings in farmhouses, where they gathered to dance or, before the church destroyed them, 'the crossroads dances', but even these events limited the type of song that could be sung.
One musician/singer told us that even the music was ruined when it was taken into the pubs.
Travellers sang at the pubs in the fair, but again, the big songs were sung around the open fires on the sites.
I believe our folk songs, by their very nature, were made for small gatherings and not the pibs

The urban situation was of course different - there, the audiences were passive recipients rather than participants of their culture
A decline in our folk song tradition has now made that a permanent state of affairs.

"you should come over to England to one of these meetings some time."
Alternatively, you could make us all aware of what is taking place so we can make a full judgement - this needs to be an open debate, not one between a few obsessed officianados.
I know there are a few clubs in the UK who hold discussions on ballads - I would love to know what happens there (Can't afford the plane fare and I couldn't face O'Leary' cattle-like attitude to passengers).
This needs to be handled on the basis of sharing ideas, not the 'them and us' conflict that has been presentd
As Stephen fry is fond of saying "NOBODY KNOWS"
Jim Carroll


17 Dec 17 - 04:32 AM (#3894279)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"i am beginning to think that they are no longer folk songs but have become art songs, "
That seems to be that thrust of the "composed for money" school of thought Dick
Jim Carroll


17 Dec 17 - 05:56 AM (#3894300)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

I couldn't post this yesterday as Mudcat seemed to be down for most of the day, but yesterday the Jan/Feb 2018 issue (Nos. 415/416) of fRoots dropped through my letterbox. On pages 52 - 56 there is a long article called "Reality Rearranged" on Steve Roud. Actually, compared with most articles in that magazine it is more of a transcribed interview than most but that does mean that we hear more of Steve's voice than we otherwise would. There are lots of information and thoughts by Steve on his background, how this book came about and about the thinking behind and the construction of the Roud Index.
It was written by Jon Wilks who describe himself as a "novice" and is not a name that I know. Perhaps that is a good thing - a fresh mind coming to Steve's work and legacy. I be interested to read any comments on it.


17 Dec 17 - 06:24 AM (#3894304)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Suppose a scanned down version put up here would be out of the question Vic?
Jim Carroll


17 Dec 17 - 09:34 AM (#3894330)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

"Child had limited resources, his preferences were weighted by his own elite background, and he also admitted that he was very unsure of the selections he was making. He also, despite his reservations regarding street lit., included a great deal of it." (SG)

"you present Child and all those who shared his view as "wrong" [15 Dec 17 - 10:59}" (JC)

Why don't you address the comments actually made instead of putting your own spin on it as usual?

Sharp was partly driven by the idea of foreigners claiming the English had no music of their own (The country was swamped with German and Italian music at the time). He was trying to create this idea of Merry England where all the rural population were busily making this wonderful music, which to a certain extent was true, but in order to pursue his vision he needed to play down the influence of print. Broadwood, Baring-Gould, Kidson etc., were all very much aware of the influence of print, but Sharp very much dominated proceedings.

"I'm quite happy with the ones that share my view".(JC) Perhaps you could let us know who this includes.


17 Dec 17 - 09:40 AM (#3894333)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

I think it's time we got down to the nitty gritty. JC seems to have been calling for this. The songs themselves can tell us a lot. His main connection with English folksong seems to have been Walter. Here's the proposition, JC or a neutral body chooses 20 of Walter's folk songs (as opposed to the ones he rejected as folk songs) and we analyse them.


17 Dec 17 - 09:58 AM (#3894341)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Before we embark on this, I ask JC politely and earnestly to apologise for referring to us as 'deskbound academics'. Not one person on this thread, and I know many of the contributors personally, could be described in this way. We are all heavily involved in the folk scene, organising, performing, etc., and are no more deskbound or academic than JC himself.


17 Dec 17 - 10:24 AM (#3894344)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

"Alternatively, you could make us all aware of what is taking place".(JC)

No problem. There are no closed doors. All meetings are open to allcomers and much of what we discuss is available on the TSF website which is where I presume you found my article based on one of the presentations some years ago. Martin Graebe the secretary frequently offers to send recordings of what has transpired out to members. Last time I looked JC was a member.


17 Dec 17 - 11:48 AM (#3894353)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" I ask JC politely and earnestly to apologise for referring to us as 'deskbound academics'"
I apologise without hesitation to those who aren't deskbound academics who thought I was referring to them - I wasn't - just to those who are
Now maybe we could have an apology for the starry-eyed naivete bit

Child elitist as well as ignorant - gets better and better.
Child regarded the material he was assembling as having been originated from the people - hardly elitist
Now if he'd claimed it was produced by a music industry for money....!
""'m quite happy with the ones that share my view".(JC) Perhaps you could let us know who this includes."
I was thinking of Sharp, Chld and Maidment and just about every researcher before you drove your bulldozer through their beliefs

"His main connection with English folksong seems to have been Walter. Here's the proposition"
Oh dear - not this again
We certainly spent more time with Walter than most other singers, some time with the few left in Winterton, but we have met and talked to others down the years
Walter was far more intelligent than most people inside and outside the revival, I ever met - he had no problem in sorting out what was a folk song and what was not, and gave usw tapes full of his way of thinking
But apart from this I spent a total of nearly forty years as an active singer and listener, during which time I helped put together a large archive of traditional singers, largely Englis, both singing and, when availale, talking about their songs - these include quite a lot from Harry Cox and particularly Sam Larner, who the hated and ignorant MacColl bothered to record when others didn't give two ***** what traditional singers had to say.

Our work with singers in Ireland and among travellers, one with a recently departed tradition, the other with one that was still warm and pulsating, was one of opinion gathering.
We gathered enough from them to realise that there is no discernable difference between the two national singing practices - if you wanted to know how a living and healthy tradition worked, that's where you went to find out.

It is beyond me why Roud chose to leave out the thoughtful side of the revival - MacColl, Lloyd, Parker, George Deacon, Vic Gammon, Bob Thomson, Roy Palmer Rory Greig.... and many others were all part of the revival club scene and it shows in their input
The nearly ten years work put in by the Critics Group of analysing and discussing the songs and how they worked, for singers and for communities, is unrivalled - much still available in recorded form for those who learn to get over their necrophobia
They treated the songs like living entities to be relived and understood, not butterflies in a box

I have no intention in entering into another cul-de-sac where you try to prove something you have admitted you are unable to
I have a workable definition of folk song which doesn't include 'Put a Bit of Powder on it Father', I have been given no reason to move away from the basic points of the existing definition to include pop songs of the past, badly written broadsides that came off the presses stillborn, Music hall froth, Parlour Ballads, Pleasure Gardens.
I don't have the respect you seem to have for Charles Rice's songs and glees (which owe more to Handel than they do Folk), sung by middle class gentlemen as described clearly in Laurence SeSenelick's 'Tavern Singing in Early Victorian London' - interesting to those who follow that sort of thing but nothing to do with folk song 'The Songs of the People'.

My point remains - we don't know for certain who made our folk songs 'even though the 'Songs of the People' that has always been accepted, gives us a strong clue.
Tracing them back to printed sources and comparing them to the remains of a moribund tradition tells us nothing - equivalent to taking the pule of a corpse to assess its life achievements
Here's one for you - tell us how appallingly bad poets could have made such timeless gems (without the excuses this time)
Jim Carroll


17 Dec 17 - 11:55 AM (#3894354)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

By the way, when I was referring to the NSF letting us know what was happeing, I meant in order that we could all discuss it rather than to have it sent as confirmed opinions
A public forum such as this seems ideal
Jim Carroll


17 Dec 17 - 01:28 PM (#3894368)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Tootler

It is beyond me why Roud left,out of the thoughtful side of the revival...

This quote from the book says what he was concerned with:

"So, this is a book of social history, covering folk song in England from the sixteenth century to about 1950. It is not really concerned with the folk music which developed through the post-war Folk Revival, when everything changed dramatically nor is it about now, but about what used to be..."

So, his book is about folk music before the 1950s revival. Though he does include some quotes from revivalists, he was not concerned with them but who and what came before.

He also says early on that the definition of folk music he is using is basically the 1954 definition though he does suggest replacing the reference to Music Hall songs with one to commercial popular song generally which seems reasonable to me.

I do get the impression, Jim Carroll that you've not properly read his book but have skimmed through and selected the bits that suited your agenda. Now, that may not be correct but surely in a book like this you need to be sure exactly what the author is concerned with, what he has said he is discussing. Without that, you cannot fairly criticise him.


17 Dec 17 - 01:39 PM (#3894371)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

I'm talking about the people I mentioned who were involved in researching singing and songs not their singing
Bert Lloyd was probably the foremost figure with a foot in both camps
My arguments here are largely addressed to Steve Gardham, who appears to have instigated this theory
Ihave read Roud's book fairly quickly, and belive it deserves to be re-rad as often as it takes to absorb all he has to say,
In the main, I am extremely impressed with most of it, but it is these major points get up my nose
Jim Carroll


17 Dec 17 - 02:04 PM (#3894375)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

"Here's one for you - tell us how appallingly bad poets could have made such timeless gems (without the excuses this time)"(JC)

That's one of the points I was going to address before you dismissed my suggestion out of hand.

You seem only able to deal with extremes. I repeat, your beliefs are remarkably similar to the worshipping of gods. Nobody in their right minds could dismiss Child's monumental work which has not been surpassed in 130 years. That doesn't mean he got everything right. I can give you lots of examples. Have you actually read all of his headnotes, every version of every ballad, everything that he wrote and was written about him? I have nigh on. Perhaps you'd like to comment on the headnotes to Child 20, or why he chose to give 2 completely different ballads the same number, or why he included so many broadside ballads, some as his A versions, why very few of the Robin Hood ballads have any evidence of oral tradition, I could go on. His work still stands as an enormous monument to his endeavour, but he isn't a god!


17 Dec 17 - 02:12 PM (#3894376)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

"Now maybe we could have an apology for the starry-eyed naivete bit"

You have a very short memory, JC. I apologised humbly for this directly to you at the time both in an email and on Mudcat and you acknowledged that.


17 Dec 17 - 02:19 PM (#3894379)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Vic Gammon, Roy Palmer, Ruairidh Greig.

You mention the work of these people quite rightly. Have you read any of Vic's work on broadsides? BTW his review of FSE is a few postings above this one if you'd care to read it. Roy both used and wrote about the influence of broadsides in his many books. In fact he was something of an expert on the Birmingham printed ballads. I wonder if these people thought that all broadside ballads were a load of rubbish.


17 Dec 17 - 02:21 PM (#3894381)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

we do not know if the composers of broadsheets had as their sole motive composing for the sake of money, unless steve gardham has been holding seances and communicating with those who are no longer wth us


17 Dec 17 - 02:22 PM (#3894382)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

You see what I had in mind was, we could take each of Walter's songs and place it alongside the broadside it came from and sort out the bits that Walter left out that were rubbish. That would be an interesting exercise.


17 Dec 17 - 02:33 PM (#3894388)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Hi Dick,
Can you show me where anyone has said the sole motive was for the sake of money? I'm certain there were other motives, but they DID get paid, usually a shilling by about 1800, which was quite a lot of money. Seances, hmmm, for fun maybe!

If you want to know about 19th century ballad writers try the works of Henry Mayhew such as 'London Labour and London Poor', or his 'Characters'. He didn't just write about the ballad writers, he actually wrote some of the ballads. You might also try Hindley's books on Catnach and the ballad writers mentioned in there, and more recently the books of James Hepburn who dedicated one of his books to John Morgan, one of the most prolific ballad writers. That okay for you, Dick?


17 Dec 17 - 02:42 PM (#3894391)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"You see what I had in mind was, we could take each of Walter's songs and place it alongside the broadside it came from and sort out the bits that Walter left out that were rubbish. "
Walter left nothing out
He was not really a singer as such - he was present when the family sang at Harvest Suppres and home gatherings - tto young to remember the former, during th latter he was allocated 'Dark Eyed Sailor' because "Nobody else wanted that"
When he returned from the army, his uncles had died so he decided to put the family repertoire down in a notebook, so he visited all the elders and wrote them down as they remembered them - he memorised the tuns on his melodeon
He didn't sing publicly until he was recoded by Bill Leader.
Over the thirty years he had remembered virtually all of them and where he hadn't got full ones he asked around for missing verses.
He divided all his songs into genres, as did most singers we recorded
It's these genres I wish to discuss, not individual songs
Walter can be regarded as a collector with no connection to other singers or researchers as much as he was a singer.
"broadsheets had as their sole motive composing for the sake of money,"
Sorry Dick - broadside writing was an urban-based commercial occupation constructed on conveyor-belt lines - the songs were churned out simply to make money
They didn't even have the merits of the Irish "ballads" which were sold around the fairs (I seem to remember you sent me one about a footballer)
The Travellers who sold them were illiterate and recited them to printers straight from memory - a sort of printed oral tradition
Jim Carroll


17 Dec 17 - 02:52 PM (#3894395)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"I wonder if these people thought that all broadside ballads were a load of rubbish."
I have enough of them here without having to consult anybody before finding their quality-
My particular favourite is Ashton's 'Real Sailor Songs' - which got as near to a folks'l as ever Charles Dibden did
Jim Carroll


17 Dec 17 - 03:18 PM (#3894398)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Ah, Ashton's Real Sailor Songs
On a quick count 30 folk songs, 6 of them Child Ballads. Would you like a list?


17 Dec 17 - 04:21 PM (#3894409)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

The concluding three paragraphs of Bert Lloyd's very full and thorough introduction to John Foreman's superbly produced publication of Ashton's Real Sailor Songs would be well worth quoting here:-
Ashton's collection is a splendid example of those "curiosities' that fascinated amateurs of popular literature and street epic in the nineteenth century and whose attraction has by no means faded yet. Sea-doggish Captain Whall was rather scornful of sailor song collections that "smell of the British Museum, much labour has been spent in hunting amongst old records, ballad sheets, and suchlike, and much musty stuff unearthed, which may be some value to the historian, but most of which is clean forgotten". In this respect, Ashton's choice cannot be found innocent. Most of the songs here have passed into oblivion, and it is usually easy to see why; many were little sung, and some probably not sung at all (for the appearance of a song on a broadside is no guarantee that it was ever performed). Still, a proportion of the songs in his volume found durable favour in the mouths of men before the mast.

In a way it is ironic that, more than the battle songs or the (usually more authentic) ballads of disaster at sea, the love lyrics and narratives of amorous encounter ashore are the central part of the seamen's repertory, and the part that lasted best among singers. The songs of separation and absence, the ballad in which the girl learns that her lover is lost at sea, or the sailor finds that his sweetheart is fickle, seem to hold immortal attractions. It has been remarked (by G. Malcolm Laws) that "these romantic and sentimental ballads fail to reflect the proverbial stoicism of seafaring men's loved ones. And yet by expressing the emotions caused by such tragedies, the balladists have struck chords of response among the folk, especially those who know the sea."

Perhaps in the long run these are the most real sailor songs of all, for in a way that is often tender and always elliptical they have within them a recognition of sadness and a longing for a better life, and even more than the outright songs of complaint the best of them accord with the view of "Jack Nastyface" who wrote at the end of his vivid account of lower-deck life as he had experienced it: "In contemplating the varied scene of so motley a profession as that of a sailor, there is much to be thought on with pleasure and much with a bitter anguish and disgust . . . Great Britain can truly boast her hearts of oak, the floating sinews of her existence; and if she could but once rub out those stains of wanton and torturing punishment, so often unnecessarily resorted to, and abandon the unnatural and uncivilised custom of impressment, then, and not till then can her navy be said to have got to the truck of perfection."
A.L Lloyd
Greenwich
Spring 1973


17 Dec 17 - 07:14 PM (#3894438)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

On a quick revisit, most of the songs in the collection are as unsingable as is the vast majority of the broadside repertoire
As with all song collections, the proof of the pudding....
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 17 - 02:21 AM (#3894455)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

If you want to know about 19th century ballad writers try the works of Henry Mayhew such as 'London Labour and London Poor'
i have read it , pleae stop assuming that i have not read certain books.
Jim, you do not know that every broadsheet was composed purely for making money, my experience tell me that song writers do not ALWAYS compose purely for money.


18 Dec 17 - 03:27 AM (#3894458)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"London Labour and London Poor"
Read it Dick, and his 'Characters' and 'Underworld', and E.P.THompson's 'Unknown Mayhew' - all remarkable classics and all on our shelves, constantly referred to.
I suggest if you want to know about the broadside trade you read Leslie Shepherd's 'The Broadside Ballad', or his 'History of Street Literature' or his biography of James Pitts, or Hindley's of Catnach... all well worth reading on the subject
Broadside writing was an Urban occupation; I have no doubt that some of the writers were proud of what they wrote, but they did it for pay.
What you are suggesting is equivalent to claiming that the workers at Cowley or Halewood did what they did because they loved cars.
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 17 - 03:31 AM (#3894459)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"John Pitts'. of course
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 17 - 08:05 AM (#3894489)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

"On a quick revisit, most of the songs in the collection are as unsingable as is the vast majority of the broadside repertoire
As with all song collections, the proof of the pudding..."(JC)

Why bother revisiting however quickly? No-one is contesting the FACT that the vast majority of stuff that appeared on broadsides is as you say it is. But there was obviously enough in there to please some members of the population, enough for it to have gone into oral tradition. Hundreds of thousands of songs of all descriptions and origins were printed on broadsides, so a couple of thousand that made it into oral tradition is just a drop in the ocean. As with most sectors of life, just by the law of averages some of the material will be better than others.

Why are you posting info that everybody is aware of?


18 Dec 17 - 08:19 AM (#3894492)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

for feckj sake i have read those books, and i disagree , not every broadside writer was writing SOLELY for the purpose of money. of course they were trying to sell Broadsheets BUT SOME OF THEM LIKE ALL COMPOSERS TOOK PLEASURE IN TRYING TO DO PRODUCE GOOD ARTISTIC COMPOSITIONS.
that is my opinion, your opinion is different but that does not make either of us right, nor does the opinion of any of the authors that we have both read, any more correct, they had their own opinion and were also trying to sell books., that does not make their opinions gospel, any more that the opinions of historians who try to sell their books and who frequently have conflicting opiniona about different aspects of history.


18 Dec 17 - 08:43 AM (#3894496)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" enough for it to have gone into oral tradition."
And, as you said yourself, to come from the oral tradition, I would guess far more than you claim
Popularity didn't make a thing "good" - we are served by a pop industry that relies on the fact that what it produces today will almost certainly have disappeared in six months time, to be replaced by something similar - and so ad infinitum
You said in your talk that the process was two-way yet you still talk about "a couple of thousand that made it into oral tradition" when you haven't a clue how many did, as uoi have also said.
The published broadside collections are bad because they are bad - doggrell and unsingable in the main
Even the versions of traditional songs as included in Holloway and Blacking have an awkwardness about them that is generally not present in the traditional repertoire
The excuse is that the oral tradition has knocked the corners off them yet you have compared the oral tradition with the work of "the lowest apprentices in the printers at the bottom of the market"
I really don't understand where you are coming from and am left with the impression that you don't either and haven't either - you seem to be riding one horse travelling in one direction.
The outstanding thing about our folk songs is that they have dirt under their fingernails and rope burns on their back - they smell of horse-shit, cordite and tar.
You accuse me of being a romantic and you attempt to reduce my arguments to teh 'Merrie England' and 'shepherdesses and swains' level, yet your 'Jolly Jack Tars, and Colin and Phoebe' are urban based caricatures of the lives of labouring country people, soldiers and sailors.
Sharp's collectors were carrying out a rescue mission to save was was left of a moribund culture, yet even so, the material they collected stands head and shoulders above Ashton and Hindley's doggerel pap.
I find your denigration of Child Sharp and the rest of his generation, at best, ungenerous, and academically unacceptable
It smacks of Dave Harker at his most vitriolic
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 17 - 09:47 AM (#3894507)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Steve
Something you have yet to address is the wide reaching implications of your claim - and not just about song

Date: 23 Apr 12 - 02:46 PM
My statement
"The same goes for 'folk' tales, customs, beliefs, dances, music, lore, painting.... it is their common origin which identifies them all as "folk art""
Your response
Sorry, Jim, this is just not true, except one would presume with folk painting, much of the rest originated in high art! Or certainly higher than the common folk, sophisticated sources in other words. Dances in particular."
You would have us that working people in the past left no evidence of creative ability with the exception of stone-age cave painting
A serious charge to make
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 17 - 10:29 AM (#3894512)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Come on Steve, you have had this on your mind for five and a half years now.... surely you must have had time to think of an answer by now!


18 Dec 17 - 11:14 AM (#3894521)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley

Surely this is the thread that keeps on giving....;-)


18 Dec 17 - 11:25 AM (#3894524)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

"surely you must have had time to think of an answer by now!"

I would, Vic, if I knew what the question was!

JC, those researchers reasonably up-to-date with current research will no doubt recognise that my approach to Sharp, Child and any others is a balanced one (unlike yours). You totally ignore my references to my admiration for their work which far outbalances any criticism.


18 Dec 17 - 11:47 AM (#3894528)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"I would, Vic, if I knew what the question was!"
I know what the questtion was - Vic appears to know what the question was
I tend to think that it's a case of your not knowing what the answer is - don't you?
"You totally ignore my references to my admiration for their work which far outbalances any criticism."
You have described Child as elitist and Sharp as an agenda driven charlatan
Fundamentalist stuff
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 17 - 11:57 AM (#3894531)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Meant to add that I have become used to MacColl continuing to receive a posthumous kicking but these are new kids on the block - and so many of them!!
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 17 - 01:08 PM (#3894539)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

MacColl, who mentioned him, who has been posthumpously kicking him.


18 Dec 17 - 01:53 PM (#3894543)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'his preferences were weighted by his own elite background'. (SG referring to some of Child's attitudes to the ballads, many of which I happen to agree with) He was from a middle-class background. His friends were mostly poets and dignitaries of the Boston elite. He was Professor of English at Harvard. His previous work included a 30-vol critical edition of 'The English Poets'.Don't you think that colours some of his choices?
BTW I certainly wouldn't use the word 'elitist' to describe him in general. You can if you want. As I keep saying and will continue to say his work in our field has never been surpassed but that doesn't mean we have to worship him like a god and it doesn't mean he was beyond making errors.


18 Dec 17 - 02:01 PM (#3894547)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'elitist' 'charlatan'. Your words, JC. Either quote me directly or not at all.


18 Dec 17 - 02:59 PM (#3894557)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Either quote"
You just have, but here goes
"Child had limited resources, his preferences were weighted by his own elite background,"
You didn't use the word elitist, but describing his work as such was as good as
This, as far as I am concerned makes Sharp agenda driven charlatan
17 Dec 17 - 09:34 AM
And this makes him a dishonest charlatan
Put 'e together and what have you got
Bippety, boppety boo (to quote Walt Disney)
If I have overstated my analysis, how would you describe your attitude
At best ignorant of the work they were involved in and shifty with their motives
I have little time for people who base their work on the denigration of others
You've lready confirmed that this is your attitude to these people
"JC, those researchers reasonably up-to-date with current research will no doubt recognise that my approach to Sharp, Child and any others is a balanced one (unlike yours). You totally ignore my references to my admiration for their work which far outbalances any criticism."
This denial is just another tack
"His previous work included a 30-vol critical edition of 'The English Poets'
Don't you think that colours some of his choices?"
So, to add to his failings, he was incapable of distinguishing one discipline from the other - wonder why he attributed one to art poets and the other to the people?
Did you never learn the lesson, "when in a hole, stop digging" Steve?
Now - about all those folk disciplines that were dependent on a higher art (apart from folk art)?
If it doesn't leave working people devoid of a voice other than to repeat a script someone else has written, where does it leave them
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 17 - 03:24 PM (#3894563)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

"The same goes for 'folk' tales, customs, beliefs, dances, music, lore, painting.... it is their common origin which identifies them all as "folk art""(JC)

The words I objected to were 'common origin' and 'all'

"much of the rest originated in high art! Or certainly higher than the common folk, sophisticated sources in other words. Dances in particular." (SG) Note the words 'much of'.

So leaving 'working people devoid of a voice' are your words, not mine.


18 Dec 17 - 03:27 PM (#3894564)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Your twisting of other people's words is legendary. You put your own spin on everything. You missed your vocation. You should have been a politician. I repeat, quote me accurately or not at all!


18 Dec 17 - 04:19 PM (#3894578)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

!The words I objected to were 'common origin' and 'all'"
And teh woirds I objected to were:
"much of the rest originated in high art! Or certainly higher than the common folk, sophisticated sources in other words. Dances in particular."
which you have refused to respond to and are now creating an excuse in order to avoid
Are you saying this is no longer your position, if you are not, answer my question and explain yourself
"So leaving 'working people devoid of a voice' are your words, not mine."
I don't care what words I chose - that is the unavoidable conclusion of your claim
I think you've painted yourself into a corner, don't you?
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 17 - 04:34 PM (#3894583)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Subject: RE: 'Historical' Ballads
From: Steve Gardham - PM
Date: 19 Apr 11 - 05:14 PM
"You're now changing my 95% into 100%, Jim."
Jim Carroll
Just wondered if you've changed your mind about this
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 17 - 05:17 PM (#3894595)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'I think you've painted yourself into a corner, don't you?'(JC)

Not at all. I stick by my opinion, not your spin on it. I have in the past studied all aspects of folklore.



'Just wondered if you've changed your mind about this'(JC)

Again, not at all. Remember the 89%?

95% is still very much my opinion based on years of grubbing through Professor Child's dunghills and comparing the equivalents with those found in oral tradition.


19 Dec 17 - 04:45 AM (#3894631)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Not at all. I stick by my opinion, not your spin on it."
You do so by refusing to address any of the flaws in your argument and by denigrating the work of over a century
The only thing I have got for certain from you is that you don't handle opposition to your ideas well, you, no doubt witll interpret that as "not suffering fools"
That seems to be the way you work
Jim Carroll


19 Dec 17 - 05:14 AM (#3894635)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

jim, would have been a fine politician,he has principles which is more than most of the self seeking politicians of today have. i would vote for him to be prime minister


19 Dec 17 - 06:20 AM (#3894647)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Meanwhile, back at Folk Song In England by Steve Roud which is the subject of this thread, though it has not been referred to in the last 45 posts. Here is another on-line review on the book. It is another that is factual rather than analytical, but as has been pointed out, there are few with the background, experience or skill to give a detailed in-depth assessment of the book's implications.
Read it at - http://www.folkradio.co.uk/2017/08/folk-song-in-england-by-steve-roud/


19 Dec 17 - 06:28 AM (#3894648)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Here's another on the Spiral Earth website - rather better written than the previous one, but as a regular reader of that website, it is usually the quality of the writing rather than the opinions that grab me - though it is best when interesting opinions and good writing are combined -
http://www.spiralearth.co.uk/folk-song-england-steve-roud/


19 Dec 17 - 07:07 AM (#3894655)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Here is a third and it is the one that I like least of all the reviews that I have read. It is interesting in that it is written from someone from outside the small pond of traditional music enthusiasts; someone from the big waters of mainstream music. Cally Callomon started off as the drummer and songwriter for 70s punk band The Bears and 80s indie band The Tea Set. He has many other associations with the music industry - Art director, sleeve designer, manager. record label boss, A&R man and so on.
It is not that it is badly written, it isn't, but there is a streak of pretentiousness running through it that irks me. The names that are dropped, in alphabetical order, are - Beethoven, Bob Dylan, Fairport Convention, Elton John, Van Gogh, Vivaldi, Rob Young - you can get a fair idea of the review from those names.
For all that, the review is not without merit. He claims to have spent three weeks reading the book and I can believe it. He does offer some outsider's analysis which if not particularly well informed, still makes valid and relevant points.

It is on the Caught By The River website at -
http://www.caughtbytheriver.net/2017/09/09/folk-song-in-england-steve-roud-cally-callomon/


19 Dec 17 - 07:27 AM (#3894658)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"though it has not been referred to in the last 45 posts."
Hardly irrelevant to the discussion that has gone on here, though, for accuracy's sake, it was referred to 23 posts ago, but who’s counting?
"Spiral Earth"
More unqualified praise, largely deserved, without touching on the problems that both Roud's and Steve Gardham's claims raise regarding whether the folk made their folk songs - obviously a point to be ignored, here and elsewhere.
In the end, these claims actually boil down to suggestion that there is no such things as 'folk song' and that they are all basically part of the pop songs of the past.
Not worth debating, of course!!
Throughout this argument I have had a nagging feeling of deja vu, so out of curiosity, I re-read Dave Harker's section on Child in his 'Fakelore' and was immediately struck with the though; "so this is where this is all coming from" - the doubt cast on the authenticity of folk songs, the denigration of past collectors.... it's all here.
Harker adopted the attitude of making a hit-list of collectors and attempting to destroy their work, their credibility and, in some cases, their characters.
As much as I was disturbed by the behavior of David Bearman at the time, I was with him 100% on this scurrilous behaviour
Bearman's attitude was echoed elsewhere throughout the folk world at the time; so much so that I heard Harker say one in Sheffield that he refused to speak in public because of the hostile reception his claims were getting.
And here we go again - same script, different actors, and this time apparently, a willingness to let this behaviour pass though on the nod.
The times they certainly are a-changing
Jim Carroll


19 Dec 17 - 08:07 AM (#3894662)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,guest jim carroll admirer

Jim Carroll for prime minister


19 Dec 17 - 08:08 AM (#3894663)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

Thanks for the links to the reviews. I am going to get this book and it is the 'Caught By The River' review that most re-assures me that I will actually read properly it rather than pick at it. In particular the reviewer's "Roud ... ... sets us on a wider excursion into a history all of its own, social, economic, political and artistic." and also his highlighting Roud's mention of "definitional expansion"

Neither of those get much priority in the other reviews or in the discussion here.


19 Dec 17 - 09:30 AM (#3894691)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

In the end, these claims actually boil down to suggestion that there is no such things as 'folk song'(JC) Absolute poppycock!

My research on fakesong predates Harker's book by quite a number of years, so wrong again! I too was a big critic of the book because of its political spin, (much like yours) but that was the major criticism of reviewers and CHRIS Bearman's critique was solely on what Dave had to say about Sharp. Unfortunately the excellent research carried out was overshadowed by the politics and the criticisms of Sharp, and Chris's stink kicked up. Most researchers who are left actually think that Dave & Chris were at opposite ends of a spectrum and both had their own agendas.

More anon.


19 Dec 17 - 10:34 AM (#3894711)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Vic,
Many thanks for the 3 reviews. I actually enjoyed reading them all and found nothing to disagree with. In fact I haven't yet seen a bad review and don't think I'm likely to. The last one, the River one, I found excellent, particularly coming from someone with a wide grasp of the background of other genres. I loved the phrase 'hideous songbirds of the spoilt-boys-in-pain found on the internet today.'


19 Dec 17 - 11:35 AM (#3894725)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"My research on fakesong predates Harker's book by quite a number of years, so wrong again!"
Your research may predate it but your conclusions and your derogation of other researchers very much postdate it.
"Absolute poppycock!"
Really?
If you pich in every genre of song and if anybody can arbitrarily and unilaterally redefine it as takes their fancy, we have nothing left.
"because of its political spin, (much like yours) "
There you go again - anybody who contradicts you has an agenda
You really are something else Steve !
My conclusions were drawn from reading and practice and eventually from going and asking the remaining practitioners what they thought.
No doubt you'll come up with an 'agenda' for Mikeen, Tom Lenihan and Walter Pardon if this drags on long enough
You really don't like it up you, do you?
Your tendency to substitute personal insults for honest responses puts you in line for a place of honour on the B.S. threads
You have my arguments Steve - the crappy hacks, the ability of working people to make songs, the use of vernacular and trade terms, the identification of 'the folk' with the contents of their songs, and the total recognition by them as their own.
After a few feeble and contradictory on-the-spot excuses, you have now resorted to wild haymaker-swings at everybody who gets in your way.
Jim Carroll


19 Dec 17 - 12:29 PM (#3894733)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

No matter how you spin it it still doesn't make sense.

"You really don't like it up you, do you?"(JC) You really think your inane insults get to me? What makes you think that? The only evidence of that is that I'm still here.

"Your tendency to substitute personal insults for honest responses puts you in line for a place of honour on the B.S. threads."(JC) That's the funniest thing I've read in ages. Tell that to the many people you have insulted on Mudcat.

'Personal insults'. BTW I'm really holding back on those.


19 Dec 17 - 12:33 PM (#3894734)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

I have not grainsulted you here, neither


19 Dec 17 - 12:39 PM (#3894735)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

?


19 Dec 17 - 12:54 PM (#3894737)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Whoops
I have not gratuitously insulted you or anybody else on this forum - I tend to try and give as good as I get, you are case in point
Without any former rancour, even argument, you responded a point I put up by sweeping it aside as starry-eyed romanticism - that is when I first encountered your technique in dealing with something you didn't agree with
There followed a period of arrogant condescension and, when you found yourself unable to aoid the points I was making, a list of feeble excuses like "hack didn't really mean bad", or seagoing and farm-working hacks, or hard pressed broadside writers taking time out to study newspapers to familiarise themselves with vernacular terms or trade practices or nautical and farm equipment - all on past threads.
Then we had Child changing his mind about broadsides and realising they were not that bad after all.....
Finally, you insisted we take our differences off line where your poured vitriolic abuse and adequate displayed you ignorance and sometimes antipathy of folk songs.
This isn't scholarship Steve; it's the agenda driving that you accuse Sharp of - you appear to need working people never to have made songs - and you accuse me of having a political agenda!!
I am not surprised you find Harker's research excellent
Harker compiled a hit list of every researcher he could lay hands on, denigrated their work and insulted them as individuals - you seem to have learned well from his technique
I feel somewhat flattered to be included in your similar list along with Child and Sharp
I invite you once again to respond to my points - if you do, I have possibly been put on the right path, if you don't, you have made my point for me
Win-win as far as I'm concerned
Is this really how you think a serious researcher behaves?
Jim Carroll


19 Dec 17 - 01:41 PM (#3894741)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Oh dear! As I said before and I will repeat as often as necessary, quote me accurately or not at all. All of the above bar one have been twisted and spun or taken well out of context. Some of the above points are actually the opposite of what I have said.

'Win-win' The game continues!


19 Dec 17 - 02:32 PM (#3894746)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

'Win-win' The game continues!
More like 'lose-lose' as clashing personalities start to overwhelm reasoned argument.
Just a few more comments of this nature and Joe Offer will be hovering with his mighty axe. You are both members; why not resort to Private Messages?


19 Dec 17 - 02:46 PM (#3894749)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Fair enough
You refuse to respond on the grounds that it might harm your case
That'll do nicely - nobody can claim I haven't tried
At least it helps he decide where I should take my arguments from here
The niche thing about these forums is that once said, things stay said for the world and his brother to decide for themselves
Jim Carroll


19 Dec 17 - 02:57 PM (#3894751)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

"The niche thing about these forums is that once said, things stay said for the world and his brother to decide for themselves". That works both ways.

To be honest I'm surprised Joe hasn't come along a lot earlier.

PMs, we've tried that. I'm surprised you didn't hear the explosions. Besides I can't imagine Jim being suppressed in that way. He likes his audience too much.

The only reason I've been tagging along is this is the best publicity for our case we've ever had. Thanks, Jim!


19 Dec 17 - 02:59 PM (#3894752)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" likes his audience too much."
For Christ's sake Steve - is there no end to your childish and defensive personal abuse
Grow up, will you
Never mind - more for future use
Jim Carrol


19 Dec 17 - 03:08 PM (#3894753)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'childish and defensive personal abuse' as opposed to 'geriatric and aggressive personal abuse.@


19 Dec 17 - 03:12 PM (#3894757)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

By the way, folks, this is really all friendly banter. A merry Christmas to all our contributors! Jim, have a good Christmas and see you in the New Year if we haven't been shut down by then.


19 Dec 17 - 03:57 PM (#3894763)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

Maybe the time has come to end this thread - and at the same time remind JIm C. that Steve Roud has written and had the book published - if you don't like the contents - get your own published...........

Tim Radford


19 Dec 17 - 04:12 PM (#3894766)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Can I remind you all that Jim has seemingly not published anything on the origins and evolution of folk song and this forum is seemingly his only outlet. Please try to be a little more tolerant.


19 Dec 17 - 05:16 PM (#3894775)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

"Maybe the time has come to end this thread - and at the same time remind JIm C. that Steve Roud has written and had the book published - if you don't like the contents - get your own published...........

Tim Radford '
What a ridiculous comment, it is not necessary to have a book published to enable a person to hve an opinion.
Ihave had disagreements with Jim, but on this occasion Ithink he haa destroyed Steves arguments comprehensively.


19 Dec 17 - 05:36 PM (#3894776)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

I'm sure Jim will be delighted with that endorsement!


19 Dec 17 - 07:26 PM (#3894788)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"'geriatric and aggressive personal abuse."
Ageist as well"
Everything I have said here has been directly related to what you have claimed - every single thing
There has been no personal abuse unless you believe my describing your be "childish " after your uncontrolled outbursts of temper
I have put my case as articulately and as clearly as I can and have asked you to respond - you refuse to do so
You have tainted and destroyed your own arguments with your behaviour here - far more than I could ever have dreamed of doing
If others wish to take these discussions further, I am happy to do so
"Can I remind you all that Jim has seemingly not published anything on the origins and evolution of folk song"
And now you reduce the discussion to a pathetic pissing competition.
"Please try to be a little more tolerant."
And patronising to the last
This thread and statements you have made on and off forum will stand as a permanent monument to your scholarship as far as I am concerned and no doubt resurface in future discussions wherever they occur.
if you don't like the contents - get your own published...........
I am appalled that somebody I thought I respected should resort to reducing this to a pathetic level of elitism
Shame on you Tim - I do hope you take a long spoon to that particular dinner party
Sadly
Jim Carroll


19 Dec 17 - 07:51 PM (#3894789)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"I'm sure Jim will be delighted with that endorsement!"
Is there any reason I shouldn't be?
I assume the exclamation mark was a typo!!
Jim Carroll


19 Dec 17 - 08:56 PM (#3894796)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Jerome Clark

Amid the personalities and the insults here, actual ideas and insights sometimes raise their heads. Though an American, I read and enjoyed Roud's book soon after it was published. Now it's time for Jim Carroll to drag himself away from Mudcat mud fights and write his own book, drawing on his own experience and understanding. I would read that volume as fast as I could get it into my hands, and I expect it would be a welcome and valuable contribution.

The thread, however, has run its course. The debate will (and should) continue, but a scholarly argument laid out at book length would surely be a far more productive forum.


20 Dec 17 - 04:56 AM (#3894829)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Now it's time for Jim Carroll to drag himself away from Mudcat mud fights and write his own book,"
I doubt if that's going to happen Jerome - Too late in life and too much left to do

Our life has been spent recording singers and assembling as much of what they had to say as we could lay hands from other sources as we have been able
One of the greatest gaps in out knowledge of folk song 'The Voice of the People' has been the opinions of 'the Folk' themselves - though the history of research they have been treated as opinionless sources of songs and the songs have been treated as out-of-context artefacts - entertainment and little else - a Voice of the people with no voice!
Any possible solution to the enigmas that have been fought over here lie in what little may have been gathered and locked away in archives, or lying in manuscripts and old tapes.
It is this gap that allows any self appointed 'expert' to make a name for themselves with their outlandish theories.
I can't believe that, throughout the BBC five year campaigns, nobody ever 'talked' to the contributors and asked their opinions on the treasure trove we took from them.
This whole business has smacked of academic 'ivory towerism' from the beginning - an undoubted unchallenged expert in his field (Steve Roud), turning a centuries-old accepted view of folk song on its head (apparently without discussion) and re-defining it to include material that was made to sell to the folk rather than having been made by them to reflect their lives and opinions - nobody, however respected and talented has a right to do that.
Folk academia has created cliques and factions - it has even invented its own impenetrable language that puts their opinions out of reach of those not 'in the know'
I've already given my opinion on the price one has to pay for some of the published works
If we (as a bunch of human beings - The People) want to know what the TSF is thinking, we have to go to the mountain, Mohammed-like - no way to share knowledge on the 'people's music'

Throughout this argument I have been subjected to being talked down to because I choose not to be one of the inner circles – not a new experience
One author/academic (mentioned here) once told us that what we had to say after thirty years work with Travellers was wrong because she had studied the subject in college.
We entitled our article on Walter Pardon 'A Simple Countryman?’ having been told by a noted researcher that Walter "must have been “got at” to hold the opinions he did, because 'he was - " simple countryman'.
Even here we have strange comments about him "not being much of a pub singer" - based on the erroneous view that our folk songs were centred around the pubs.
The discussion here smacks of academic elitism - those who have published and those who haven't, and who has said nice things about what they claim - I was once offered a list of qualified people “who agree with me”, by an exponent of the 'broadside origins' theory, in substitute for rational arguments – (now he has thrown in my age as a factor of what I have to say)
Here the number of 'nice' reviews by largely unknown (to me) reviewers of Roud's book has taken the place of detailed discussion.
Any sense we are ever going to make out of folk song is going to come from a co-operative and intelligent (and above all, friendly) analysis of the songs themselves and an assessment of all past research - not the arrogant and often personal 'Dave Harkerism' that has re-surfaced here (though even Harker made a number of points well worth consideration).

One of the warmest feelings of achievement I have ever experienced was when Clare County Library accepted our collection, appointed two librarians to work on it and allowed us to give back to the Clare people the songs they had given to us - that's what research should mainly be about.
SONGS
MUSIC
Even this is only a partial achievement - there are masses of interviews their resources wouldn't allow them to include
Limerick University have accepted the offer of our library for the use of the students at their 'IRISH WORLD ACADEMY of MUSIC and DANCE'
http://www.irishworldacademy.ie/
and are discussing the idea of setting up a website to do a similar job on the rest of our collection
Ironically, if what Walter Pardon had to say about his songs is ever to see the light of day, it will be through a West of Ireland academic institution as there doesn't seem to be an outlet in Britain any more.

The 'Voice of the People' has long been a muted and limited one - now it seems to have been all-but silenced by being lumped in with and overpowered by that of the Music industry.
Folk songs were a way 'the folk' entertained themselves, but they were much, much more than that – they were and are essential part of their/our oral history - there are no other significant examples of this because it was always thought that 'ordinary people' had nothing to say for themselves and needed spokesmen to speak for them

Far from this discussion being over, I don't think it has even begun
It will take place in the friendly, respectful manner it needs to be, if I have anything to do with it, if not here, somewhere where people are prepared to listen and share ideas and not fly kites or just stand by and bow to the kite runners
Jim Carroll


20 Dec 17 - 07:14 AM (#3894860)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

The focus in this thread on the single issue of who did or didn't compose what we have come to call 'traditional songs' obscures the width and depth of this book. It is much more than a single issue work and has many implications. It does not set out to rubbish the achievements of earlier researchers and credits the scholars whose work built the foundations of folk song study. Roud does regret instances amongst the pioneers' work where he can produce evidence that they brought a preconceived agenda to their work or where he can point to assumptions made on insufficent evidence, eg, Sharp writing Some Conclusions.... a relatively short time after hearing a traditional song sung for the first time.
The attitude towards only using 'evidence' in historical research is now the norm amongst modern academics not just in folk song studies.
The research involved in Roud's book is meticulous and has been made over four decades of deep interest in the subject. It is part of a very wide interest and knowledge in a whole range of popular musics. I know that he was surprised recently to be asked to deliver a series of lectures on the history of rock music to London-based college of an American university. He told me that he was amazed how little knowledge the students had in an aspect of a subject that they were majoring in.
Throughout the book he bemoans the lack of solid information currently available and calls for more and deeper research on the subject. I defy anyone to provide anything in the book to challenge the rigorous discipline on his fact-based approach. The widespread praise and admiration expressed in the reviews that I and others have posted or linked to here is fully justified.


20 Dec 17 - 07:44 AM (#3894865)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"The focus in this thread on the single issue of who did or didn't compose what we have come to call 'traditional songs' obscures the width and depth of this book."
The width and depth of the book calls into question the subject matter - folk song - and whether it exists apart for other genres of song
Until that is sorted out, it makes it impossible to make a fair assessment of the book
If we are talking about the music of the people we have to know what part the people created in producing that music
Roud spends a fair amount of space discussing glees, which owe more to Hndel than they do to the people
Music Hall is where they went to passively be entertained rather than to express themselves
The London singing Taverns, raised by Roud and Gardham, were, according to authority, Selenick, the haunts of middle class gentlemen, the broadsides were town based while our folk songs are mainly the probable creations, certainly entertainments or the rural working people.
For me, the secondary problem with Roud's book is that it is an excellent work marred by irrelevant clutter that helps obscure the real subject.
For me, the book is a welcome addition as an essential reference work (with qualifications)
What it lacks, for me, is the proselytizing zeal of Lloyd's book (for all its faults)
It also lacks the love and warmth that helped put a lifetime's worth of petrol in my tank
Jim Carroll


20 Dec 17 - 03:35 PM (#3894968)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

"If we (as a bunch of human beings - The People) want to know what the TSF is thinking, we have to go to the mountain, Mohammed-like - no way to share knowledge on the 'people's music' "(JC)

"Alternatively, you could make us all aware of what is taking place".(JC)17 Dec 2017 9.58

No problem. There are no closed doors. All meetings are open to allcomers and much of what we discuss is available on the TSF website which is where I presume you found my article based on one of the presentations some years ago. Martin Graebe the secretary frequently offers to send recordings of what has transpired out to members. Last time I looked JC was a member. (SG)

But just to be clear and for the uninitiated:
20 years ago Steve Roud and a few others of us got together and decided it would be a wise move to bring together all those people, academic or independent who were interested in folk song research to avoid duplication, share ideas, and promote understanding in the subject. The Traditional Song Forum was formed with 3 or 4 meetings a year spread out all over the country. (Dublin and Edinburgh have already been included, but Sheffield and London tend to have been used most). The membership of researchers from all over the world has gradually built up and we currently have about 250 members. Many of our members have produced books, articles, reviews, websites, indexes during this period and many of these are produced in co-operation with each other. Quite a number of our members have contributed to this very thread before they were put off by my and Jim's rantings.

Our full day meetings consist of in the mornings TSF business and a round robin of present members' latest projects and discussion. The afternoon consists of 4 or 5 presentations mostly by members but sometimes invited guests as well. The evening is often taken up with a singaround at a local hostelry.

Now for the last 10 years both Steve and I and others have given presentations on the relationship between urban commercial song and oral tradition so the subject is by no means a new one. Everyone who is in the TSF who looks at the website and follows the detailed notes (and recordings) posted by our very able secretary/webmaster Martin Graebe, or who attends our meetings cannot fail to have been acquainted with the views expressed on the origins of the songs. Curiously I can't remember in those 10 years anyone opposing the facts and opinions we have presented.

JC, if I'm reading this aright and you are offering your front room for one of our meetings I'll see what I can do. Unfortunately my passport needs renewing, but I can get that sorted.

In short...all of the information is out there. First stop, try our website at Tradsong.


20 Dec 17 - 03:36 PM (#3894969)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

I should add, that's apart from all the books, articles, reviews etc we have had published.


20 Dec 17 - 04:11 PM (#3894972)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Steve wrote -
try our website at Tradsong.


There have been problems with this website as this statement at its old location makes clear:-
This website has now been replaced by a newer version which you can find at

www.tradsong.online

Most of the content of this site has been transferred to this new site and the URL tradsong.org will be transferred to the new site when this site is closed.

We look forward to seeing you at our new address.


20 Dec 17 - 04:26 PM (#3894976)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Thanks, Vic.


21 Dec 17 - 05:11 AM (#3895076)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"JC, if I'm reading this aright and you are offering your front room for one of our meetings"
How on earth would that help get the activities of TSF to the general public Steve?
As about as reasonable as suggesting poor poets made our folk songs
What is wrong with putting your activities up on your website in one form or another as debating topics and invite people to participate?
From the "not available" notice I got from Vic's link, that might be a problem at present
Your change of definition would have been an ideal place to throw open such a debate
I've always found that the best way to share ideas is to go out to people and not expect them to come to you.
"uninitiated:"
Interesting choice of word!!
Jim Carroll


21 Dec 17 - 05:58 AM (#3895080)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Jim said "How on earth would that help get the activities of TSF to the general public Steve?"

It's surely only a minority of the general public who have any interest in folk song at all, and a minority of the minority who might have any interest in the activities of the TSF.


21 Dec 17 - 06:18 AM (#3895083)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"It's surely only a minority of the general public who have any interest in folk song at all"
That is because that is the attitude we have done nothing about Richard
The greatest failure of the revival was that we failed to get over the importance of folk song, not just fo the general public but to the world in general
One of the greatest problems has been that the exponents of folk song have failed to take their art seriously enough to demand and raise minimum standards
Now that has extended to turning the clubs into 'anything goes' venues where you might or might not come away having heard a folk song
If we don't take our art seriously we can't expect anybody else to.
I think the claims being made here are likely to worsen and confuse things rather than clarify them
AS far as those already involved, if revolutionary views such as these have been discussed elsewhere, they should have been publicied throughout the folk movement (or what's left of it) rather than having it sprung on us a a fait accompli in a tome that only folkies are going to acquire
Folk song, as far as I am concerned is, or should be a national treasure
Jim Carroll


21 Dec 17 - 06:33 AM (#3895085)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

The link that I cut'n'paste from the old Tradsong website above has the usual "www" in it. Further investigation showed me that this was not needed.
This one works in Sussex. I hope that it works elsewhere -

http://tradsong.online/


21 Dec 17 - 06:37 AM (#3895086)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Thanks Vic
Jim Carroll


21 Dec 17 - 09:44 AM (#3895130)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'How on earth would that help get the activities of TSF to the general public Steve?'(JC)
Sorry, Jim. I misunderstood your request. As for general public access, as I stated earlier, all of our meetings and activities are open to everyone. Unfortunately our funds won't stretch to a massive advertising campaign with TV adverts etc., and there is an element of truth in what Richard has to say. Can you imagine the general public wanting to leave their TVs, i-pads, pap music to listen to what we have to offer? We do our best by running free concerts on a regular basis with good quality artists and organising a largely free folk festival.

'What is wrong with putting your activities up on your website in one form or another as debating topics and invite people to participate?' (JC) What a good idea! Perhaps you'd like to suggest it on our mediated public forum, 'Tradsong'.

'Uninitiated' (SG). Yes, I see what you mean. Thanks for not putting too much spin on it. Of course newcomers must stand on one leg and recite Tamlin backwards whilst dancing a morris jig.

'The greatest failure of the revival was that we failed to get over the importance of folk song, not just for the general public but to the world in general.'(JC) I have a considerable measure of agreement here. The old fogies like you and me failed to attract younger members when we had the chance. Some of us buried our heads in the sand and didn't read the writing on the wall and others buggered off to other climes. Perhaps our adherence to '54' put a lot of them off. There has been a certain measure of success achieved, however, by making folk music a little more like the sort of music that IS popular, no matter how unpalatable that might be to us.

'If we don't take our art seriously we can't expect anybody else to'.(JC) Quite, but not moving on is preventing academia taking our subject seriously. Looking at it in romantic terms is not going to help our cause. We need to be realistic and honest.(IMO)
'
I think the claims being made here are likely to worsen and confuse things rather than clarify them' (JC) Confuse who? British researchers seem quite happy with the way things are going. If not they need to speak up.

'sprung on us'(JC) We've been discussing this for quite some time now. Vic reckons 5 years. I gave you plenty of warning.

'Folk song, as far as I am concerned is, or should be a national treasure'. (JC) Absolutely! Which is perhaps why in the last 15 years the BL has placed many audio collections online, the EFDSS has had hundreds of thousands of pounds for placing as many of the mss online, the Carpenter collection has been funded, etc.


21 Dec 17 - 09:55 AM (#3895131)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

That's apart from the many broadside collections placed online. Somebody must value them, even if they are doggerel dunghills as you claim!


21 Dec 17 - 10:27 AM (#3895137)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"as I stated earlier, all of our meetings and activities are open to everyone. "
If they happen to live in the vicinity they take place
It doesn't take massive funding to alert people involved of what you are doing
A quick glance at the archive doesn't leave me to believe thare has been deep and widespread discussions on the turnaround in our understanding of what folk song is
The internet has opened up undreamed of opportunities to share ideas - no evidence this has happened, plenty of evidence ot the tearing up pf past scholarship and the denigration of our greatest scholars - that disturbs me deeply
How about the mountain coming to Mohammed fore a change?
Jim Carroll


21 Dec 17 - 10:30 AM (#3895138)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

"in the last 15 years the BL has placed many audio collections online, the EFDSS has had hundreds of thousands of pounds for placing as many of the mss online, the Carpenter collection has been funded, etc."

If we have failed in selling our music to the general public, then it is not for want of many of us trying, but the fashion has become for music to be presented in a glitzy showbiz way and classical, folk and jazz musicians find it difficult to go along with this. I hate what Parisian Afro-Beat has done to the way traditional African music is presented in Europe but I can see that poor immigrant musicians also want to carve a career for themselves to give them some sort of financial security. They cannot afford to do otherwise.
The job of the older enthusiasts now must be to make the performances that they enthuse over accessible in an attractive way on the internet. Fortunately, we already seem to be ahead of the game with what EFDSS and BL have done in England, ITMA in Ireland and Tobar an Dualchais in Scotland.
The latest trend is for archives of regional/area/county basis to be extended and brought to be the attention of local historians, teachers looking for aspects of their own locality for topics, librarians etc. Archives of County Clare Libraries and the Sussex Traditions project have already been mentioned in this thread, But pioneering local work was undertaken in South Yorkshire and much has been achieved in Devon by the Wren Project and in Gloucestershire. Pete Haywood was speaking to me about starting something similar for South-East Scotland and there are probably others that don't come to mind at the moment.


21 Dec 17 - 10:57 AM (#3895142)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'tearing up of past scholarship and the denigration of our greatest scholars' (JC) This IS a gross exaggeration and I won't let it pass no matter how many times you spin it. Every time anyone mentions the failings of past scholars they go out of the way to state how overwhelmingly they respect the great bulk of their work. They are not gods or saints to be worshipped religiously. I don't know anyone who does not have the greatest respect and admiration for Professor Child's work. There are flaws which he acknowledged himself, but these pale into insignificance alongside the bulk of his work. This religious worship is the biggest thing preventing our research being taken seriously. It is a relief that seemingly only you are promoting this.

'If they happen to live in the vicinity they take place'(JC)
What had you in mind, Jim? We hold our meetings all over the country, and as I stated, we have been to Dublin and Edinburgh. We all have limitations on our time. Some of our members are still working. Others can't afford to go to every meeting, travelling round the country. A nice wish list but impractical.

'How about the mountain coming to Mohammed for a change?'(JC) Is Mohammed going to supply a room, refreshments and some travelling expenses? Otherwise we have to stick with the very generous people who offer the hospitality of their institutes and universities.

'It doesn't take massive funding to alert people involved of what you are doing'(JC). EFDSS website, Our own website, Mudcat, our own Forum, folk magazines. Perhaps you're volunteering to pay for an advert in the Sun, or the Irish Times. I'll send you a personal email if you like keeping you up-to-date as to where and when the meetings are.

As I stated, at a local level we go into schools and other institutions to spread the word, run free concerts, workshops and numerous other little ways of spreading the word. I'm sure you do all this in Ireland, but we are not sitting on our arses as you imply.


21 Dec 17 - 11:15 AM (#3895150)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Somebody must value them, even if they are doggerel dunghills as you claim!"
Meant to respond to this Steve
You may write this on a sheet of paper, wrap it around a brick and throw it through my window, if the fancy takes you but it doesn't alter one iota the fact that they are the doggerel dunghills Child described that Child described
Remind me of how many copies of The Birdie Song or Viva Espana were sold
Broadsides have their own value as 'Curiosities of Street Literature' as does the Tabloid Press - a gauge of the times as seen through the eyes of a hack
I spent years trawling the collections for singing material and found little; the Critics plundered what was available for their themed albums and found some, but criously, the ones they used soon disappeared from their repertoires because, like all pop songs, they were one dimensional and came with a shelf-life.
I have one in my repertoire which I have sung for half a century and which still pleases me because I worked hard on it to remove the sharp corners and the clumsy verse and a good friend put an excellent tune to it - I'm referring to 'The Ranter Parson and the Cunning Farmer's Wife'
There was enough in the original Madden broadside to suggest it might once have been part of the two-way traffic between tradition and broadside - country humour is very different that that of the big city.
I find it significant that the one collectd by Vaughan Williams in East Anglia is the only oral tradition version.
The broadside writers were poor poets the folk poets were not - they wrote (and sang) as they spoke
"it is not for want of many of us trying, "
I'm fully aware of that Vic, and those of you who still carry the banner have my deepest respect
It was the lack of respect for the songs and the failure to apply standards that killed the scene, not the lack of effort and enthusiasm of the work-horses.
I'm delighted that people like Pete and Paul Wilson are taking up the challenge, especially in areas with such a rich history, but we all need to get our act together and singing from the same hymn-sheet if we are going to get anywhere.
Thisrty odd years ago Irish music appeared to have no future and was referred to as 'diddly-di music' - now youngsters with skills challenging those of the greats are flooding onto the scene
The fact that a small number of people got together and built a foundation based on the older styles and music for what was a rapidly disappearing culture, has guaranteed a future of at least two generations for Irish traditional music
Tee youngsters can take the music wherever they wish (and they do) but there is now a home base to return to to remind them what it's all about
Jim Carroll


21 Dec 17 - 11:31 AM (#3895153)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

We have AGREED with you and Professor Child on numerous occasions that the bulk of the material printed on broadsides is of no interest to folksong researchers except for comparison perhaps. But to taint the whole genre with this attitude is actually detrimental to our cause. To criticise the whole of any genre in this way is extremely prejudiced and contains not a vestige of scholarship. As I've stated on this thread before, by and large I agree with Child about the grubbing through mountains of this stuff. I've been there. The 'moderate jewel' reference I don't agree with, but that's a matter of opinion not fact. What is a fact is that Child included a whole section on ballads from broadsides mostly that show not a vestige of oral tradition.


21 Dec 17 - 01:04 PM (#3895175)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

“We have AGREED with you”
No you have not – you have gone around in circles, first thy were misjudges artists who were peorducing good songs (a constant theme with your claims that they must be good because so many people bought them) to a collaborative school of good ones, to hacks with enough time on their hands to research their songs in the newspapers, to seagoing and land-labouring hacks who had lived the conditions described in their songs, and now to “tainting the whole genre” presumably by my targeting a few bad ones
There is no consistency to your claims.
They were notoriously bad writers working under pressure to churn out their songs – and doesn’t their output show the conditions and the lack of skill
In comparison to the oral tradition, even in its dying years, it was conveyor belt work compared to the creations of craftspeople – or people just making songs on what was going on around them on a daily basis.
In order for deskbound townies to have produced our folksongs they would have had the imagination, writing skills and time displayed by Hardy, or Dickens or Melville, with the knowledge of a Wimberly, the psychological insight of a Freud and the knowledge of social history of Eystyn Evans or George Ewart Evans
The continuity of utterance of our folk songs, the uses of commonplaces and incremental repetition, et all, suggests a socially common source which would need a team of students working in unison to achieve – you have suggested that.
We’ve already discussed the familiarity and insider knowledge contained in our folk songs and got nowhere.
The “I know a folk song when I here one” definition is as reliable as any at one level to realise that hacks could not possible have made them
You need to approach and answer all these anomalies before yo can begin to make such claims as you have made.   
We have had an indication of a creative oral tradition totally independent of literary influences dating back one thousand two hundred years in these islands – what happened to it?
Why did Mrs Laidlaw do her conkers when Scott started writing her songs down if they came from print in the first place – was she as starry eyed naïve you claim Child and Maidment (and me) were to believe her songs came from her own people?
Child went to the Broadsides to dredge up every example of ballads he could – he chose them because of what they were – ballads, not because he believed they were good
He is to be admired for that – hope he wore protective clothing
Do I believe ‘Seventeen Come Sunday’ or ‘Banks of the Sweet Primroses’ came from the same school as the ‘Cat’s Meat Man’, or ‘Tarpauling Jacket’ or ‘Self Destruction of a Female by Throwing Herself of the Monument’?
I most certainly do not – why do you?
Jim Carroll


21 Dec 17 - 01:41 PM (#3895184)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

'We have AGREED with you'
I assume that's the 'Royal' we, by the way
Jim Carroll


21 Dec 17 - 02:10 PM (#3895191)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

600?


21 Dec 17 - 02:11 PM (#3895192)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

If you're slipping back into sarcasm mode I'll ignore you.


21 Dec 17 - 02:22 PM (#3895193)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Jim,
All of these points have been answered by other people on this very thread. Thanks for the publicity and have a happy Christmas!

BTW, just for the record, my inane sarcasm over the last 100 or so postings was solely to give you a bit of your own medicine, but water off a duck's back.


21 Dec 17 - 02:37 PM (#3895194)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"All of these points have been answered by other people on this very thread."
No they have nooot - you gave a few feeble excuses but nobody else lowered themselves to join them - please do not suggest that they did
"inane sarcasm "
That is probably the most blatantly dishonest piece of back-pedalling anybody has ever attempted to explain their bad behaviour
Your anger and resentment at being challenged was palpable and it even spilled over into your PM
"If you're slipping back into sarcasm mode I'll ignore you."
So you have reserved "inane sarcasm" for your own use
Elitism rules OK
I think you've remained in the corner you painted yourself into for long enough - time to scramble out the window
"inane sarcasm" " - Oh, you've already decided to do that
Jim Carroll


21 Dec 17 - 03:01 PM (#3895197)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

You do realise, of course, that if I took your "inane humour' excuse seriously (which I don't for one minute), it would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are totally incapable of taking this subject seriously - it displays contempt for the subject in had and for those involved in it
You might to try a defence of 'temporary insanity' - that's been known to work in situations like this
Think we're finished here, don't you
Don't lose too much sleep over Christmas
By the way
"other people"
You are the only one ever to offer excuses for you theory - sadly, everybody else has remained (somewhat bemused, no doubt) bystanders.
Jim Carroll


21 Dec 17 - 04:21 PM (#3895210)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

I think Jim has made his argument very convincingly Steve has not


21 Dec 17 - 07:00 PM (#3895228)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,CJ

As ever, Dick.


31 Dec 17 - 08:08 AM (#3896591)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Just when you all thought (hoped?) that discussion of what the "folk" did or didn't create had fizzled out, back I come with some quotations of what one of the early collectors thought. These are in the Folk Song Journal for 2016, my copy of which got buried in a heap when I was tidying up, and emerged only yesterday.

On page 29, in Alice Little's paper, are two quotations from Anne Gilchrist about the singer William Bolton (from Journal of the Folk-Song Society 2.4 and 5.2).

In 1906 she said that his singing "includes some interesting and suggestive examples of the way in which, at times, composed tunes of a century or two centuries ago have become simplified and translated, as it were, into the native musical dialect of the untutored singer".

But then 'in 1915, Gilchrist wrote of the same singer that, because on this occasion he had added some verses that were "less artless than the remainder of this genuine if doggerel production of some sailor bard, I have omitted them, in order to maintain its character." '


31 Dec 17 - 10:08 AM (#3896609)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby

Back on topic, I've just finished reading the book and thought it excellent. Very much recommended.


31 Dec 17 - 10:36 AM (#3896612)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

I've just started reading another of Steve's (along with David Atkinson) books of this year 'Street Literature of the Long Nineteenth Century'. Again he is very thorough in his research, using many contemporary accounts, but also very careful in allowing others to draw the conclusions. He is also quite critical of some earlier scholars who have sometimes made statements based on very little evidence. The book is a collection of papers and is published by Cambridge Scholars.

Haven't seen a review yet.


31 Dec 17 - 11:38 AM (#3896621)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Back on topic"
Was it ever off it?
Jim Carroll


01 Jan 18 - 05:39 PM (#3896818)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

The topic has certainly strayed from the book Folk Song in England to the nature of folk (and to some extent other kinds of) song in England (and to some extent Scotland and Ireland). But I think straying to that extent is reasonable and we have had some interesting discussion.


02 Jan 18 - 05:09 AM (#3896851)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

The book is based on an entirely new concept of folk music and requires that we reject the whole basis of our former understanding of the genre, summed up beautifully in the 'afyetrword'
"Onve we have jettisoned the idea that it is the origin which makes it folk"
If we can't discuss that change we have to accept it without challenge - I am not prepared to do that
For me, the main impressive aspect of the book is its size; it says little about the folk songs that have been studied over the last century or so, which end up being demoted to pop songs.
In attacking what he describes misleadingly as "Maxists", he makes his own stance a political one - from the right - the approach is a political one.
There are some stunning ommissions
The fact that he has chosen to include no full songs (the lack of a discography has already been mentioned), means that it is aimed at those who are already involved in the subject - it is a polemic rather than an analysis.
The singers that were are lucky to have come into contact with over that last half century or so are so badly represented as to be written out of the subject
Sam Larner - mentioned in passing, Walter Pardon, mentioned in passing.
Harry Cox is probably given the most attention, though he is not particulary well dealt with - one of the few songs with full texts is Harry's somewhat pastische, 'Colin and Phoebe' - representative of a poorly composed piece rather than a streamilned folk song
Phil Tanner is totally ignored - I know he was Welsh, but his repertoire of English folk songs makes him an important figure in the genre (unless you happen to nbe an extreme Little Englander)
Roud lists his intentions thus
While individual song histories are noted in passing , the book is more concerned with who sang what , where, when and how, rather than the songs themselves (Introduction p. 4)
Why not WHY the songs were sung?
There is a great deal of available recorded material of Harry, Sam and Walter talking about themselves and their songs, other than how they sand them - yet once again, the singers voice is omitted from the discussion, as it always has been.
Despite claims to the contrary, it has been our experience that singers compartmentalised their songs and music in the way everybody does.
The songs in the book are discussed out of the context they raise in their subject matter
What Roud describes as an agenda by other researchers, particularly Sharp, Lloyd, and MacColl, was an attempt to put the songs into a social context - here they are dealt with as a commercial product manufactured for the entertainment of the people
Roud (along with Steve Gardham here) has politicised the subject by privatising folk songs.
I hope we can discuss this without the former rancour and condescension - let's see
Jim Carroll


   
k


02 Jan 18 - 07:18 AM (#3896878)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby

Jim, I think you are being a bit dogmatic there.

Steve Roud doesn't assert for no reason that we can't categorise folk song in terms of its origin: he makes a lengthy and well argued case for this position. There is, he says, not enough evidence to support the idea that there is a large corpus of songs which originated within the singing tradition rather than in the music halls or pleasure gardens. That's not a political judgement, it's an empirical one.

He clearly feels motivated to defend the early folk song collectors from what he sees as the unfair and anachronistic criticisms levelled by people like David Harker. Not having read Harker I can't say whether Roud's presentation of his ideas is fair, but I would agree that we owe people like Baring-Gould and Sharp an immense debt, and that their work should not be written off just because it doesn't meet the ideals we would have if we were doing the same thing today. I don't think Roud comes across as right-wing in any way. Indeed at one point he makes a slightly waspish comment about right-wing thought historically not being intellectual.

As you say, the book is huge already. I can totally see why he didn't feel the need to extend it further by adding detailed discussion of individual songs, though I agree a discography would be nice.

I don't really understand your accusation that he deals with folk songs as "a commercial product manufactured for the entertainment of the people". Where there is evidence that folk songs originated in other musical contexts, he says so; and his discussion of the other musical milieus that were current from the 16th century onwards is fascinating and often eye-opening.

If I have a criticism it's that Roud is clearly not a musicologist, and so the chapters on the music by Julia Bishop feel a bit 'bolted on' rather than fully integrated into the book. There's no discussion for instance of the forms of music notation that have been available through the years, or how widespread musical literacy was.


02 Jan 18 - 08:34 AM (#3896888)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" There is, he says, not enough evidence to support the idea that there is a large corpus of songs which originated within the singing tradition rather than in the music halls or pleasure gardens. "
He and Gardaham have also said that there is not enough evidence to indicate where the songs came from but have opted for the 'commercial' explanation based on the fact that most of them appeared in print
Without being able to examine the songs next to these conclusions it it impossible to move on - there are no texts enabling us to do so and no discography in order for those coming to the genre anew to test the validity of Roud's claims (conveniently maybe?).
If we haven't got the actual background information, we need to do so by examining the texts or the sung versions.
That's not dogmatism, it's common sense
A book on folksong that excludes forlsongs is nonsense - like Bronson's "when is a ballad not a ballad" conundrum - when it has no tune
Far from defending the collectors he undermines and eventually rejects the conclusions they arrived at
His is Harker's iron fist in a velvet glove.
"a commercial product manufactured for the entertainment of the people".
The evidence has been here from day one - Steve Gardahm said this in the early days of our arguments in more or less those words
He went on to equate folk song with the output of today's music industry.
The two Steve's biggest crime, as far as I'm concerned is that they are attempting to rob folk song of its uniqueness - Gardam has ecxtended that to tales, dance, music lore... leaving the people with only having ever actually artistically created cave-paintings and scrimshaw, and little else
How political is that?
As far as the music is concerned, that requires a discussion as to how the singers regarded it before you approach it in its own righT
Every single traditional singer we have asked has said that they regard their songs as narratives with tunes attached - the words were always more important than the tunes
Where the singers were unable to retain the tunes they selected one that fitted - the extent of choice they had depended on the health of the various local traditions.
The same with the texts - if they failed to remember a bit, they filled in the gap from their own imagination
David Buchan in 'The Ballad and the Folk' probably overstated it, bu he had it certainly partly right
Jim Carroll


02 Jan 18 - 09:30 AM (#3896897)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby

Well, this is why your stance seems to me dogmatic. The Steves are content to draw what limited conclusions they can from the available external evidence, and beyond that, they conclude that we don't have enough information to go on. In most cases there simply isn't any external evidence to decide whether a song pre-dates the oldest known printed version, and by how much, so they are content to leave the question there.

By contrast, you seem to be suggesting that in the absence of evidence, it's legitimate to simply assume an ancient and/or unique origin for folk songs that is distinct from printed sources. That is the step that strikes me as dogmatic.

I'm not quite sure why you think that Steve Roud's approach devalues folk song, or denies "the people" any creativity. It is certainly a travesty of his argument to say he thinks that folk song is "a commercial product manufactured for the entertainment of the people", as though there was a separate class of creators who simply imposed their output on the wider populace. Surely, all sorts of different people have been involved in the creation and transmission of different songs. Why do you feel the need to lump them together in crude classes like that? Why assume that there is a single mechanism behind the creation of folk song?


02 Jan 18 - 09:50 AM (#3896905)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

By contrast, you seem to be suggesting that in the absence of evidence, it's legitimate to simply assume an ancient and/or unique origin for folk songs that is distinct from printed sources. That is the step that strikes me as dogmatic.


02 Jan 18 - 09:58 AM (#3896908)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"it's legitimate to simply assume an ancient and/or unique origin for folk songs that is distinct from printed sources. "
I assume nothing R
I believe that the only way to arrive at a conclusion lies in assessing what information we do have and bringing it together
The most important source has always been neglected - the singers themselves, but having said that, we do have a little from them and there is possibly more yet uncovered.
Roud and Gardham have discounted that information by turning the singers into customers rather than creative artists using their art to comment on their lives.
This is how Steve Gardham summed up folk songs in an earlier argument

Subject: RE: 'Historical' Ballads
From: Steve Gardham - PM
Date: 19 Apr 11 - 05:14 PM
"Yes, it certainly does place them on the same level as any pop songs churned out by today's music industry. They were the equivalent of POP songs when they hit the streets, and those that came out of the theatres and pleasure gardens and glee clubs and cellars in the towns were also pop songs. They only became folk songs when the folk started singing them. "

It really doesn't get more unequivocal that that - money rules OK
The two Steves views on this are inoperable, though Roud is far less arrogant and patronising in his declarations
Jim Carroll


02 Jan 18 - 10:03 AM (#3896911)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Incidentally, that quoted posting of Steve G's began
"You're now changing my 95% into 100%, Jim."
That wipes out the possibility that 'the folk' ever created a single folk song
Jim Carroll


02 Jan 18 - 10:19 AM (#3896914)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby

I think it is universally regretted that the early collectors did not gather more information about their singers, and I'm sure all Steves concerned would agree with that.

The little recorded info I know of suggest that the singers often had strong views as to how the material should be sung, but not that they saw themselves as creators or originators of that material, or even as consciously altering it.

As regards later singers, I'd love to see any evidence you have that bears on the origins of their material. Bob Copper's autobiography for instance does not suggest that he saw himself primarily as a "creative artist using art to comment on his life".

As I understand it there is a fairly large number of songs that have been collected from oral sources that can be definitely traced to origins in the music halls or pleasure gardens. Are you saying that those are therefore not folk songs? Does that not make the 'folk' status of any song precarious and contingent? That a folk song is only a folk song until we discover that it started life as a composed piece?

Many of the early collectors comment that they themselves had to filter out what they saw as genuine folk songs from material that they knew to have originated as composed songs -- they were all of a piece to the singers themselves.


02 Jan 18 - 11:23 AM (#3896922)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

10.03
Please make sure your postings make some sort of sense. How can we respond otherwise?

95% considered opinion based on a lifetime's research.
100%?????????????


02 Jan 18 - 11:27 AM (#3896923)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"but not that they saw themselves as creators or originators of that material, or even as consciously altering it.
Something we don't knw, but what we do know is that singers embraced the songs as theirs - Norfolk, The West Country, Yorkshire, Irish, Scots.... no matter where they originated
The sigers identified with the songs in the way no pop fan can ever do (even if they had time to, given the mayfly-length existence of most of their songs
Examine the songs (which Roud doesn't and doesn't allow us to) and you'll find that they embrace various aspects of the communities in which they were sung
The poaching songs, for instance, appear to be a direct product of the Poaching Wars that began in 1760 and didn't finish till the outbreak of World War One
These were the direct result of the ongoing seizures of land, the most avaricious of which took place from the late eighteenth and throughout the 19th centuries
The songs dealt with the effects of no longer being able to take game to feed poor families - an insider view of the times
The same with the transportation ballads - a reflection of the opposition to mechanisation of agriculture, the attempts to set up trades unions and the rise in poverty brought about by the Industrial Revolution.
Songs of socal misalliance and parental opposition are pictures of the centuries old practice of using daughters to improve the fortunes of ambitious families by marrying them off to wealthy landowners - one of the finest examples of this is to be foung in the ballad 'Tiftie's Annie'
Harry Cox had much to say about this aspect of the songs which is why I believe he and others were disgracefully ignored in Roud's book.
I never get tired of saying that I I wanted to know the details of historical events I would go to the history books - if I wanted to know how the people at the time felt about it, I would go to the folk songs
For me, MacColl's statement, which was dismissed as dewy-eyed romanticism by Steve Gardham, says everything that needs to be said about the origins of our folk songs
"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 MacDonagh, 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"

There is nothing arrogant or dogmatic in that statement - on the contrary, it embraces all possibilities and it represents the views held by most researchers down the ages.
In order to have had the insight to have written our folk songs, outsiders like the broadside hacks would have needed to possess the skills of a Dickens, or a Steinbeck, or a Melville
As it was, they were no more than bad poets working to meet a deadline.
Someone mentioned 'instinct' earlier, not a reliable definitive way to define folk song, but it has to play a major part in what we do.
I've been around the scene long enough to think I can recognise a folk song when I hear one, even though I might not have heard it before.
I think I can recognise a broadside, or a music-hall song, or a Victorian Parlour ballad.... in the same way
What is being ignored in all of this is so could the older singers, though they may not have used the same terminology
The two constants of thirty years of collecting is that the singers believed their traditional songs to be realistic - they viewed them visually as something that might have happened
The other is that they regarded them as their own, not something they had purchased at a 19th century W. H. Smith
Walter Pardon filled several tapes of these opinions - he hardly got a mention in 'Folk Songs in England' (as seen by Steve Roud)
Pity
Jim Carroll


02 Jan 18 - 11:35 AM (#3896927)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Subject: RE: 'Historical' Ballads
From: Steve Gardham - PM
Date: 19 Apr 11 - 05:14 PM "
"You're now changing my 95% into 100%, Jim."
By your own words, so shall ye be judged Steve
"lifetime's research"
You can repeat this as often as you like, just as you can and have told us who supports you, but unless you can make sense of your arguments, it doesn't matter how long you've been at it and who agrees with you - is still does not hold water.
Jim Carroll


02 Jan 18 - 11:41 AM (#3896929)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"10.03"
???
Jim Carroll


02 Jan 18 - 12:10 PM (#3896940)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby

You are making a lot of sweeping generalisations there. No-one is denying that there are some songs that are ancient, or which appear to have originated outside any of the main commercial spheres; but the number of cases where there is actual evidence of this is very small, and that is the point that is at issue.

On what basis do you characterise the writers of broadsides as outsiders? They belonged to their times just as much as everyone else. I don't understand at all why you think they couldn't have written these songs, or at least the original texts from which the songs developed. Nor do I understand why you think a song must originate within the singing community in order to belong to that community. Nor why you think that 'realism' can only be achieved in this way. Surely it is just as plausible to suppose that of the thousands of new songs composed each year, a small number happened to possess the right attributes -- be that realism, singability, luck or whatever -- to ensure their survival within the singing community.

Also I think we need to be careful about drawing parallels with the singing tradition outside England. The existence or otherwise of a ballad tradition in Scotland (where Tiftie's Annie originates) doesn't allow us to make assumptions about what took place in Devon or Sussex.


02 Jan 18 - 12:51 PM (#3896949)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

I am making no generalisations whatever and I ma not talking about ancient songs
Our actual knowledge of what we know of the oral tradition is confined to what was collected by Sharp and heis colleges, and a little earlier from Baring Gould and even then, little was collected by way of information and    opinions of the singers (Roud points that out)
We have little else other than an examination of the contents of the songs - my points on the social contents are confined to the 19th century, when the songs that were collected then were possibly made.
Some features of the songs date back many centuries and remain unchanged, particularly the social misalliance and arranged marriage songs.
"On what basis do you characterise the writers of broadsides as outsiders?"
The folk songs we are dealing with are largely rural (a constant description of them ahs been "Country Songs", and those of small communities based around mining and textiles, alongside sea and military songs.   
Unless you are suggesting (as Steve Gardham has), that the hacks worked on the land or served at sea, etc., they were desk-bound, Urban based outsiders.
It is infinitely more sensible to think that the folk songs that reached the broadside presses were brought back in skeletal form by packmen, or gathered from visiting countrymen, or soldiers embarking for foreign service, or sailors in port.
Seven Dials was within pissing distance of Covent Garden, where farmers wiould come to sell their produce and Smithfield where country livestock would be brought for sale - the docks were well within walking distance
Yet we are told that it was the desk-jockeys who created the realistic pictures that the songs presented
Sure they did!!!
It really boils down to this
If you accept that 'ordinary' people were capable of making songs there is no reason on earth to suggest that they didn't create our folk songs
You need to remember that we are viewing the dying embers of a tradition, and a miniscule part of it at that, limited to where the collectors worked,
This is why I suggest we need to look elsewhere in these islands for other explanations
We worked in with Irish singers - the rural population lost their tradition in the 1950s, so our singers were a part of a living one - the Travellers had a creative oral tradition up to the point where they acquired portable televisions in the mid 1970s
We spent a great deal of time recording our singers talking about how songs worked within their communities
One of our most important findings was of the large repertoire of songs that had been made locally during the lifetimes of the singers - on every subject under the sun - on local railways, maritime disasters, emigration, evictions, land protests, national ist warfare, murders, drunken nights out... all operating side by side with centuries old ballads and songs and obviously having been used to make new songs
The Scots had a similar situation going for them, particularly in the bothies
Either the English people did the same ot they were far less creative and imaginative than their neighbors
You decide
Jim Carroll


02 Jan 18 - 02:08 PM (#3896959)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby

Hmmm.

Well, for one thing, I actually don't think that such internal evidence as there is supports your conclusion. At the very least the picture is much more complex than you make out.

If the songs sung in rural communites were made within those communities, why do they only rarely contain information that would be limited to those communities, such as detail about farming practices of the time? Why do so many of them present rural life as a pastoral idyll, rather than a never-ending cycle of backbreaking hard labour? Inasmuch as it's possible to extrapolate from the lyrical content of rural songs, an origin in the pleasure gardens actually seems more plausible for most of them than the idea that they were written to reflect the realities of life in rural communities. Because, as far as I know, many of them don't.

As far as I'm aware relatively little is known about the lives of most broadside writers. It's a massive presumption to assume that they were 'desk-bound urban outsiders'. I'm not even convinced that that is a category that can meaningfully be applied to anyone in the 19th Century. Was Dickens a 'desk-bound urban outsider'? Or Conrad?

No doubt there are some similarities between the English tradition and the Scots and Irish traditions, but there are also obvious differences. And again, I don't know that all the evidence supports your ideas. The ballad tradition in Scotland and Ireland is both oral and literary. Some well-known Scots ballads are of obscure origin, others were composed by well-known literary figures, some are disputed.


02 Jan 18 - 03:02 PM (#3896966)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"I actually don't think that such internal evidence as there is supports your conclusion."
Why?
I've given you some examples - would you like some more?
"why do they only rarely contain information that would be limited to those communities, "
For the same reason they were missed in Ireland - collectors had a preconception of what a folk song was and went out to find songs that fitted what had gone before
THey sked for "old songs" yet the local songs didn't fit that description because many were recently made
Sharp actually wrote about not taking down local songs in some cases
Many of these songs, served as the folk voice for a short period and died when the memory of the events died
If you want some examples of Irish songs that were made locally try The Bobbed Hair or The Quilty Burning or The Leon or The Broadford Lads or Dudley Lee the Blackleg... or around a couple of dozen others HERE
This is one we missed putting up

That Cold Man by Night.   Martin Long, Tooreen, Inagh, Recorded July 1975 at Willie Clancy Summer School
The practice of young women being pressurised or even forced into arranged marriages of convenience to older men has inspired many songs throughout these islands; sometimes depicting the tragedy or resigned bitterness of the situation the woman finds herself in, but occasionally, as with this one, open defiance, with a touch of humour.
This appears to be a locally-made song; we have been unable to find another example of it outside Clare.
Particularly interesting is the description of the visit to the matchmaker (the “learned man”) and the celebratory ceremony to seal the ‘made match’.

I am a handsome comely maid; my age is scarce eighteen,
I am the only daughter of a farmer near Crusheen,
‘Tis married I intend to be before its winning daylight,
Oh, my father wants me to get wed to a cold man by night.

This man being old, as I am told, his years are sixty-four,
I really mean to slight him, for he being wed before,
His common shoes are always loose, and his clothes don’t fit him right,
Oh I don’t intend the wife to be of that cold man by night.

The very next day without delay they all rode into town,
To a learned man they quickly ran the contract to pin down;
Into an inn they did call in to whet their whistles nigh,
In hope that I would live and die with that cold man by night.

My father came, I did him blame and thus to him did say,
“Oh father dear, you acted queer in what you done today,
In the Shannon deep I’ll go and sleep, before the mornings light,
Before I’ll agree the wife to be of that cold man by night”.

“Oh daughter dear, don’t say no more, or be a foolish lass,
For he has a house and four good cows, and a sporting fine black ass,
He has a handsome feather bed where ye may rest by night,
So change your life and be the wife of that cold man by night”.

“Oh father dear, don’t say no more, for I’ll tell you the reason why,
Before I’ll agree the wife to be, I’d first lay down and die,
In the Shannon deep I’ll go and sleep before the mornings light,
Before I’ll consent to be content with that cold man by night.

My match is broke, without a joke, I’ll marry if I can,
Before (???) is over I’ll have a nice young man,
That will take me in his arms in a cold and frosty night,
And some other dame might do the same with that cold man by night.

It's a massive presumption to assume that they were 'desk-bound urban outsiders'"
It most certainly is not - it's a well documented fact, including in Hindleys Hindley in teh Catnach biography and Leslie Shepherd's books on the subject
Vic has described the pressure they worked under quite adequately
Beside the point anyway - they were hackneyed poets (Hacks) and their output is dry, brittle chalk to the rich-tasting cheese of folk poetry
If you want to spell out what differences have made Ireland capable of folk poetry and England incapable, please do
Alluding to them doesn't work in debates such as this
Jim Carroll


02 Jan 18 - 03:59 PM (#3896974)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby

"For the same reason they were missed in Ireland - collectors had a preconception of what a folk song was and went out to find songs that fitted what had gone before
THey sked for "old songs" yet the local songs didn't fit that description because many were recently made"

But we aren't talking about the songs that weren't collected, because we don't know about them! We're talking about the songs that *were* collected. For better or worse, that is all that we have left of the English oral tradition. That does include a number of songs that have indications of local manufacture -- 'Horkstow Grange' would be a good example perhaps. But those seem to be in a minority.

I am not convinced by the argument that the early collectors systematically overlooked 'recently made' songs, or that they only collected rural songs that expressed an Arcadian perspective and ignored anything that dealt with the harsh realities of life. They were certainly selective but in the main their aim was to rule out songs they already knew to be composed by people like Dibdin. And as for the singers, I don't recall Bob Copper talking about generating new songs in response to local events, but I don't know what, if anything, Pardon or Cox or Larner had to say on the matter.

I'm a bit baffled by this argument that the output of the 'broadside hacks' is intrinsically and completely different from what any other semi-educated person of the time might have written. Likewise the idea that they were all birds of a feather and not a disparate collection of individuals who probably came from a variety of different backgrounds.

Also, one minute you are suggesting that broadsides were written by cloth-eared hacks whose work is instantly distinguishable from genuine 'folk poetry', but the next minute you're arguing that those same hacks simply wrote down the 'realistic pictures' that were actually created by the rural folks who came to Covent Garden market. Both things can't be true, surely?


02 Jan 18 - 05:23 PM (#3896988)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

I wonder if Steve Gardham could help me out with this one -

I am currently working on a review of Vaughan Williams in Norfolk: Volume 2. This is a fascinating and very informative CD-Rom recently released on the 'Musical Traditions' label (MTCD255) and covers just about all aspects of this part of this important collection. Volume 2 covers The 1908-11 collection from the Broads & South.
It seems that Vaughan Williams collected 93 folk songs in this part of the county in these years. We know that VW was a stickler for going for what he saw as the genuine article. A quick glance through the very detailed Index suggests that 91 of them can be sourced to Broadside or Chapbook.

Does Steve think that he could work the percentage of the songs that were printed in this way for me?


02 Jan 18 - 07:29 PM (#3897014)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

That percentage would be somewhat higher than my 89% which is the percentage of the general corpus (English) that form the earliest extant version.

'sourced to Broadside or Chapbook'. By this do you mean a specific locally produced broadside or Chapbook or just broadside versions in general?

'desk-bound urban outsiders'.(JC) These are Jim's descriptions and no-one else's. Of course the broadside poets came from a wide variety of backgrounds. There was enormous migration from rural to urban, plus at the ends of the wars, soldiers and sailors cast onto the streets. It would have been logical for some of these with a little literacy to have turned their hands to writing ballads, again that's apart from all the material coming in from other commercial sources.
The idea that they were desk-bound is ludicrous.

JC keeps quoting Irish songs at us as if these are relevant to the corpus we are talking about. Let him give us an English example of a song in the corpus that couldn't have been written by an urban writer. (I've already offered to look in detail at Walter's repertoire)


03 Jan 18 - 04:08 AM (#3897042)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: nickp

Finished at last. 3 months of late night reading.


03 Jan 18 - 04:21 AM (#3897043)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" These are Jim's descriptions and no-one else's."
Will yopu please stop doing this Steve; all writing on the broadside trade indicates that we know little about the broadside writers, which is largely what makes your claims so ludicrous
You have said this, Roud sys this, Shepherd says this, there is next to no information on the writers in Hindleys Catnach biography, or Shepherd's wor on Pitts
To state that "the broadside poets came from a wide variety of backgrounds" is invented nonsense and you know it - I've challenged you to provide proof before and you have failed to do so.
"Let him give us an English example of a song in the corpus that couldn't have been written by an urban writer."
I believe that rather quibble about individual songs and get bogged down as we did once before, it is far more profitable to place your shoddy broadside compositions next to say Banks of Sweet Primroses, or Maid of Australia, or even the few verses of Brigg Fair Grainger collected - or any of our classic folk songs and see how they compare in style and language.
You have alrweady made this difficult by claiming that up to 100% of them originated on the broadside presses (we have yet to receive an acknowledgement that you did claim that figure)
The idea that they were desk-bound is not ludicrous - you have already accepted this by suggesting they researched working practices and equipment and scanned newspapers for information for their compositions
The picture you have painted is of a full-time professional working for money
Vic rightly offered their working under intense pressure as an excuse for their bad poetry.
The picture Roud paints is that of a professional writer working under conveyor-belt like conditions.
If we wish to work out who wrote our folk songs, these are the last people you would go to as possibles.
I repeat and will continue to do so) - once you accept the idea that working people were able to write songs you have to accept that they probably wrote our folk songs
If you don't believe them capable, you need to say so so we know where they stand - time to put your cards on the table
You introduced politics into this discussion Steve - your attempt to dismiss working people as creators of anything, including folk tales, lore, dance, and music and present them as repeating parrots smacks of a political agends to me
Jim Carroll


03 Jan 18 - 04:23 AM (#3897044)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Meant to say - I'll respond to Rigby's interesting points later
Jim Carroll


03 Jan 18 - 04:36 AM (#3897047)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: r.padgett

It perhaps would be a good idea for readers of this thread to buy the book and see what has been said rightly or wrongly and opinions expressed ~ therein to try to make sense of this argument ~ i won't express my thoughts here ~ but continue to follow ~ at a distance!

Ray


03 Jan 18 - 05:09 AM (#3897052)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Steve
Your own description of what we know about broadside hacks - from your talk

"Coming into the early nineteenth century, the Pitts/Catnach era, we have a massive burgeoning of cheap street literature and this is where most of what we now call folk song originated, in towns, written by broadside hacks. Some of these hacks may well have been born in rural settings or have been employed in some of the settings they describe, but most of them lived close to their buyers, the printers, in the towns and cities. Though we are talking here about commercial enterprise, the poets were paid a shilling and the sheets sold in the streets for a pittance, we are talking about the very bottom of the market as described in great detail by Henry Mayhew in London Labour and London Poor. Some of you may well feel this is low enough down the pecking order to be included in the folk process. Most of the hacks of course are anonymous."

Jim Carroll


03 Jan 18 - 05:27 AM (#3897057)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Maid of Australia and Brigg Fair do both have the air of being made by individuals who were there (in the former case, the location almost certainly being the Hawkesbury River in Australia, not anywhere in England, though the name got changed to "Oxborough" when the song came to England). The encounters recounted could very well have happened exactly as described or they could be fantasies.

Banks of Sweet Primroses is an oddity. It is very stable in both text and tune across many collected versions, clearly showing how much the folk liked it; and yet, as Steve Roud points out in the notes in The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs "something of a mystery, as it always seems as if we do not have the full story. What has the man done to receive such an extreme and seemingly final rejection... ?"

And just who is saying what? It is presumably the girl who says "I'll go down ... where no man on earth shall e'er me find", but why make that declaration just then, after the encounter described in the song, rather than going down soon after whatever dirty deed the man did to her? And is it the male narrator who cheers himself up with the thought of a "sunshiny day"? (BTW, in my personal experience of weather in the London area it's more common for a sunshiny morning to be followed by overcast for the rest of the day.)

As I think I said somewhere up thread, it's easy to cite specific songs that were almost certainly written by "folk" in the countryside and others that were almost certainly written for the stage, the pleasure gardens, or directly for printing. The bone of contention is only the relative proportions among the collected corpus.


03 Jan 18 - 05:40 AM (#3897065)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"the location almost certainly being the Hawkesbury River in Australia"
A moot point Richard
Prof. Bob Thomson researched the song and linked it to Oxborough Hall, on the banks of the Rover Ox, where there was once a settlement of returned Australian transportees.
The song is definitely very popular in East Anglia
I agree totally about it being composed from experience
I believe that Banks of Sweet Primroses, obviously an attampt tp present a failed love afair from both points of view, is a superb example of folk composition - largely the exuberance of a young man 'feeling his oats'   as we used to say in Liverpool, drawing a blank and resolving to look elsewhere - full of symbolic references rather than description
Way beyond the abilities of a desk-bound hack
Jim Carroll


03 Jan 18 - 06:46 AM (#3897088)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

> Prof. Bob Thomson researched the song and linked it to Oxborough Hall, on the banks of the Rover Ox, where there was once a settlement of returned Australian transportees.

It is very plausible that one of them would either have brought the song to Norfolk, or even composed it there after coming back to England. But surely the event described, the encounter with the (native) "Maid of Australia" swimming in a river, was in Australia, not in Norfolk.

> I believe that Banks of Sweet Primroses, obviously an attampt tp present a failed love afair from both points of view, is a superb example of folk composition - largely the exuberance of a young man 'feeling his oats'   as we used to say in Liverpool, drawing a blank and resolving to look elsewhere - full of symbolic references rather than description
> Way beyond the abilities of a desk-bound hack

If "hack" means someone who only ever made poor verses, then fair enough. But your young man describing his (real or imaginary) encounter could equally well have been a countryman or a townie, he might have made part of his living by selling songs to broadside printers, and he might or might not have ever sung that particular one to his mates in a pub as well as getting it printed.

A song being made by someone who knew what (s)he was writing about (whether from personal experience or by hearing from others) and a song first seeing the light of day on a printed broadside are not mutually exclusive.


03 Jan 18 - 07:10 AM (#3897090)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

why describe people as hacks rather than writers, immediately there is a derogatory connotation, the standard of writing will invariable be of differing standard.


03 Jan 18 - 07:25 AM (#3897095)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"But surely the event described, "
Of course it was Richard - I don't think Bob was arguing that from what I remember
He suggested that the name was taken from Oxborough Hall
Knowing his scholarship, I'm pretty sure he would have been aware of the Hawkesborough suggestion
"he might have made part of his living by selling songs to broadside printers,"
No problem with that either - that would make the songs as having originated elsewhere other than the broadside presses, which is what this argument is about
The folk songs for me have the feel of rural experience and knowledge - Im quite happy with the idea that many made their into print
I have suggested that the hacks plundered the living tradition for ideas and song plots and verse forms, but their own composition style makes them a very unlikely source for the number of folk songs being claimed to have ORIGINATED' on the broadside presses
This is where the Irish experience comes in
Up to the 1950s Ireland had a large trade in selling 'ballads' - song sheets sold around the fairs and markets in rural areas - the trade was exclusively carried out by non-literate Travellers who would take songs they knew, recite them over the counter to the printer who would then run them off for sale.
Many rural people learned songs which were technically from the oral tradition just as many of us started our repertoires on The Penguin Book of Folk Songs
We recorded information from a Traveller singer/storyteller who ha been involved in the trad along with hiss mother
He insisted that, to his knowledge none of the songs he sold had been written for the ballads but had come from songs he already knew.
He recounted how he would be asked for his father's songs - his father was a noted singer and storyteller - and would oblige by having the soings printed before he next visited the area.
He described how he would swap songs with Travellers involved in the trade from other areas.
Roud and Dave Atkinson have made similar claims of high percentages of folk songs originating as broadsides in the Street Literature book.
Personally I find the Irish oral tradition so complicated, not least the multilingual nature of the country at the time, that it would take years of careful study before anybody could possibly make this claim
As the buk of the Irish oral collections remained locked away in archives, with very few published examples (apart from Terry Moylan's magnificent book of political songs), such research would need to be Irish-based anyway
I doubt if Steve Roud and Dave Atkinson have made such a study in Ireland and have once again superficially based their opinions on the urban broadside trades
Jim Carroll


03 Jan 18 - 07:27 AM (#3897096)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"why describe people as hacks rather than writers, immediately there is a derogatory connotation"
Because they wer bad writers Dick - they even gave their name to tabloid journalists
THey have always been documented as "hacks"
Jim Carroll


03 Jan 18 - 07:36 AM (#3897099)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby

Perhaps it's just me, but I don't think Maid of Australia is a good example of poetry of any sort. Taken alone, the words are doggerel, and full of exactly the sort of contrived rhymes that people sneer at in broadside poetry. There's also nothing in the song to indicate that the writer had ever been nearer Australia than Norwich. It reads much more like some sort of male wish-fulfilment fantasy than as a record of an actual event.

But in a sense that's the point, because the genius of folk song doesn't lie in its raw materials, whether they be broadsides or glees or whatever. It lies in the process by which crude poetry, moralising parlour songs or florid pleasure-garden compositions get *turned into* great and singable songs; and it lies in the unique style of performance with which singers delivered those songs. It's a red herring to complain that suggesting a broadside origin undermines the role of 'the people', because the origin isn't what does or does not make it good.

To give a slightly off-the-wall analogy, a few years back the Turner Prize was won by an installation called 'shedboatshed'. The artist started with a garden shed, dismantled it, built a boat from the pieces, sailed it down the Rhine to a museum and rebuilt the original shed. You may or may not think that art, but the question of who built the shed in the first place surely doesn't matter.


03 Jan 18 - 08:19 AM (#3897108)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

I hesitate to devote too much of this thread to one particular song, but I would like to pursue the origin of Maid of Australia a bit further.

> There's also nothing in the song to indicate that the writer had ever been nearer Australia than Norwich. It reads much more like some sort of male wish-fulfilment fantasy than as a record of an actual event.

For my money it could equally well be either.

What I can't buy is the idea of the action (real or imagined) taking place anywhere other than Australia. It is clearly the first (and probably the last) encounter between the narrator and the maid, so she isn't a "Maid of Australia" that a returned convict has brought back to England with him. And in at least one version she is swimming in "a stream in my native Australia".

Jim, can you please point me to where I can read Bob Thomson's work?


03 Jan 18 - 08:44 AM (#3897111)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones

'Banks of the Sweet Primroses' is an example of a song which circulated on broadsides and stayed in the tradition largely unaltered. Jim suggests that its quality shows that it must have originated from the 'folk' and that the broadsides were simply publishing an existing song taken from a 'real' folk singer, rather than an original composition. It is an attractive idea, and he may well be right, but it is probably unprovable. However since obviously composed songs were taken up in large numbers by 'the folk' it suggests that this distinction was of little or no consequence to the singers themselves.

The weakness in Jim's argument is that it is circular - if a song is badly written this shows it must be by a hack, if it's good it must have come from 'the folk'.

To take another example which was discussed earlier, 'The Shepherd Adonis' in its original form bears all the hallmarks of a composed work - classical allusions, arcadian rural stereotypes, and over-flowery language all suggest its composer was no shepherd. Its transformation into 'Shepherd of the Downs' to me demonstrates the working-class creativity which Jim is so keen to defend. However, unless I am misunderstanding him, according to his interpretation its origin would appear to disqualify it as a proper folk song.

What this does seem to demonstrate is that 'the folk' favoured a particular style of song. Songs like 'Banks of the Sweet Primroses' which fitted this style could be adopted more or less unaltered. Others would be adapted and altered until they fitted into it - whether this show the 'folk process' or 'working class creativity' is a matter of terminology only.


03 Jan 18 - 08:45 AM (#3897112)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"What I can't buy is the idea of the action (real or imagined) taking place anywhere other than Australia."
I agree with your analysis of the song Richard - it feels that way to me - it may be the work of a returned convict - it certainly doesn't feel like the work of a hack
I totally disagree with Rigby's point - many songs recited or read give the impression of 'doggerel' - it's not until you put them in your mouth as a singer that they spring to life
The opposite is the case of broadsides - as a singer, I went through dozens of collections of them and found nothing
The Critics group used a few for their albums, particularly the two London ones and, while they worked in context of the subject, few of them stood the test of time out of context
Maid of Australia is a glorious celebration of a sexual encounter, the type of which abounds in the British tradition, particularly in Scotland
"Jim, can you please point me to where I can read Bob Thomson's work?"
Bob published very little - his PhD on broadsides remains unpublished
I got a great deal of information from Bob via our friendship in conversations
He did similar work on other songs, such as 'Drink old England Dry', one verse of which he linked to the draining of The Fens
It was Bob who was responsible for acquiring The Carpenter Collection for the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library - Ken Goldstein told him about it, he told me and I told the Librarian at Cecil Sharp House
He was a great loss to English folksong scholarship when he moved to Gainesville
Jim Carroll


03 Jan 18 - 08:54 AM (#3897115)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby

"many songs recited or read give the impression of 'doggerel' - it's not until you put them in your mouth as a singer that they spring to life"

Actually that was exactly the point I was trying to make! Considered purely in terms of the written word, there is no real gap in standard or skill between a song like Maid of Australia and a typical broadside verse, and therefore I can't see any reasonable objection to the idea that a broadside poet couldn't have written those words, or the original from which they have evolved.

The point is, as Howard says, that the real, worthwhile creativity isn't in the original composition of the words. It's in the process by which they get turned into a great song.


03 Jan 18 - 08:58 AM (#3897117)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"if a song is badly written this shows it must be by a hack,"
No - no - no
Good and bad are subjective terms in relation to individual songs
There are many folk songs that don't move me enough to want to sing them, while there are a few broadsides I relish - my favourite song, the one I usually drag out when asked to sing is The Ranter Parson
I was given it by a friend who got it from The Madden Collection and worked on it to knock the corners off
It is the overall style of broadside writing and their one dimensional approach to their subject matter that makes them unsingable
Broadside style is as identifiable as folk song style - you know one when you see/hear one
I've only ever heard The Coppers sing Shepherd of the Downs and I find their singing so singular and at odds with folk song style in general that I find it difficult to judge many of their songs
I'm not happy discussing traditional singers like The Coppers publicly, I don't think it fair and try to avoid it
Jim Carroll


03 Jan 18 - 09:32 AM (#3897125)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby

The Ranter Parson appears in Roy Palmer's book of Folk Songs Collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams, with the following note:

"The song appeared several times on street ballads, but to the best of my knowledge has turned up only once in oral tradition: in 1904, when Vaughan Williams took it down from a 61-year-old labourer, who had learned 'most of his songs off "ballets" or from his father'."

As usual RVW only noted the words of the first verse of the sung version, so Palmer gives verses 2 to 10 from a broadside.

Make of that what you will!


03 Jan 18 - 09:56 AM (#3897130)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones

Jim, first my apologies if I have oversimplified or misinterpreted your argument but it appeared to me that your justification for claiming that 'Banks of Sweet Primroses' originated from the folk rather than a professional composer was based on the style and quality of the text.

"It is the overall style of broadside writing and their one dimensional approach to their subject matter that makes them unsingable
Broadside style is as identifiable as folk song style - you know one when you see/hear one"

That's certainly true to modern ears, but the fact remains that these songs were widely taken up and sung. The need to lick them into a more acceptable shape doesn't seem to have deterred singers at the time. However, while the words may have been taken from a broadside the singer would probably have heard the song first from the ballad-seller. In your own words, it's not until you put a song in your mouth as a singer that they spring to life. Those street singers whose livelihoods depended on people buying their ballad-sheets were probably skilled at making these unpromising texts appear attractive. The folk process then took over.


03 Jan 18 - 10:02 AM (#3897133)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Hootenanny

I have just today read an article regarding copyright.

In a letter from a well respected researcher and author in the States,He states "For example, upper class English songwriters in the 17th and 18th century often didn't sign their works because writing songs or poems was considered beneath their social station".

Does this have any relevance in your arguments? It seems to, to me as an amused bystander.


03 Jan 18 - 10:06 AM (#3897135)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

THanks for that
I was aware of the R.V,W. version in Palmer's though I had been singing it for ten years when Roy published his book.
Either my source, Dick Snell or I removed one of the verses (about the lady laughinghing up her sleeve) because he or I found it superfluous - a case with many broadsides which feel they need to cross t's and dot i's for the sake of the listener
I suspect this is one that was either taken from a country song and expanded or made from a humorous country tale
Walter Pardon, when he heard me sing it, once described it as "Chaucerian", a description which he also used for 'The Cunning Cobbler'
It is certainly full of country humour and works very well for the old farmers that turn up for our local sessions
Jim Carroll


03 Jan 18 - 10:24 AM (#3897142)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"The need to lick them into a more acceptable shape doesn't seem to have deterred singers at the time."
Of course it didn't, but the vast majority of the broadsides never made it into the ffolk repertoire - a bit difficult to discuss in the context of Roud's book as he bungs everything into the melting pot and calls them all 'folk'
None of this is an indication of where the songs began - as I said, if you believe that 'the folk' were capable of making songs then you have to accept that they were the most probable composers of our folk songs, given the subject matter, the partisan nature towards poverty, injustice, class divisions, the use of vernacular and vernacular lore and humour, and above all, the familiarity with rural life.
Hoot
The anonymity of broadsides has always intrigued me - if they were the compositions of professional writers, why don't we know who they were
I don';t think anybody is suggesting that they were written by or for the upper class, bu the glees and Tavern songs that both the Steves' seem to set so high a value on were sung by a for an all-male middle-class audience.
Not my idea of 'the folk' by any stretch of the imagination
Jim Carroll


03 Jan 18 - 10:33 AM (#3897146)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby

"the subject matter, the partisan nature towards poverty, injustice, class divisions, the use of vernacular and vernacular lore and humour, and above all, the familiarity with rural life."

I agree that's exactly what you'd expect to find in folk song if it was wholly the product of rural communities. The problem is that as stated earlier, it's not clear that that is what we *actually* find in English folk song. How many rural folk songs are there that deal directly with poverty or class divisions, or which exhibit any familiarity with rural life beyond that which would have been universal at the time? Some, no doubt, like the poaching songs -- but they are dwarfed in number by the ones in which someone walks out on a May morning into a vaguely described idyll full of singing birds and skipping lambs.


03 Jan 18 - 11:20 AM (#3897159)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" How many rural folk songs are there that deal directly with poverty or class divisions"
They don't - they deal with the effects of these thing
The parental opposition to daughters wanting to marry farmhands are typical of these
Harry Cox sang Betsy the Serving Maid for Alan Lomax and spat out at the end if it, "and that's what those people thought of us"
He did similar with 'Van Diemen's Land when he went into a ranting monologue on land seizures.
Many of our sea songs, particularly th whaling songs, talk about long trips and lousy conditions - as distinct from Charles Dibdin's Jolly Jack Tars.
Copmare the 'Herts of Oak' sea songs to the songs about the Press Gangs and recruiting campaigns
Banks of the Nile type songs about pregnant women demanding to be taken off as part of the Camp Following army that followed the troops into battle are remarkable insights into warfare in the past.
The Weaving songs deal with the move from the cottage industries into the factories
It is inconceivable that there weren't many songs about the machine breakers, and the Swing Rioters which wouldn't have been sung in polite company because of their seditious nature
I once spent months in Manchester Central Library working my way through the microfilm copies on Northern newspapers which carried weekly song columns dealing with fighting for the franchise and improving the rights o the textile workers
We don't kno if any of these entered an oral tradition but the fact that they were made in the first place shown both an ability at and an inclination towards song making
Our folk song repertoire smells more of horse dung and cow shit than it does "skipping lambs ((I would suggest that one type came from the rural workers and the other from the broadside presses - I'll leave it to you to guess which?)
Jim Carroll


03 Jan 18 - 11:39 AM (#3897160)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby

"Our folk song repertoire smells more of horse dung and cow shit than it does "skipping lambs""

I agree with you that there are numerous sea songs that are emphatic about the harshness of life on board ship. But that seems to me to stand in contrast to the way rural life is presented. How many folk songs lament the harshness of life as a farm labourer? I can't think of more than a handful. (Nor can I think of a single one that mentions horse dung.)


03 Jan 18 - 11:55 AM (#3897163)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

"It is inconceivable that there weren't many songs about the machine breakers, and the Swing Rioters which wouldn't have been sung in polite company because of their seditious nature"

One of the things I enjoyed about Roy Palmer's 'Working Songs' book is that he managed to find evidence for things like machine-breaking songs actually being sung in Pennine pubs.

John Harland in 'Ballads and Songs of Lancashire' reports the popularity of the Henry Hunt and 'Tyrants of England' songs, and verses on the deliberate torching of Grimshaw's mill. None of this stuff turns up in the classic 'folk' collections, though that may be because the themes were no longer current, rather than selection bias on the part of collectors.

As for 'Banks of Sweet Primroses', I don't smell much cow shit in that one.


03 Jan 18 - 12:08 PM (#3897165)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

oh dear. according to some , since the writers of broadsides were hacks then every broadside must be worthless doggerel. what a stupid generalisation


03 Jan 18 - 12:34 PM (#3897171)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"I don't smell much cow shit in that one."
Nor do I - it's a celebration of sex - the two don't mix (though I once went home with grass stains on my knees
"to the way rural life is presented"
Thbulk of our songs were collected when the tradition was on the wane, but even so the social misalliance songs were still a major part of the repertoire, as were the poaching, transportation and camp-follower songs - all aspects of working life.
Beckett Whitehead sang a remarkable radical song entitled 'Drinking' which never gained popular currency but was collected by MacColl and Joan Littlewood for the BBC
One verse went;

I'll drink till the high price of coals become small,
Till ale and roast beef, they cost nothing at all,
Till a dandy's worth nowt but the clothes he puts on,
I'll drink till old Peabody's money is gone.

It may well be from a local poet; it has a feel of the times that I never found in broadside, though that's not to say that it never got onto one
Jim Carroll


03 Jan 18 - 12:37 PM (#3897173)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

here is an example of a well written brosdside

Oh the sky was dark and the night advanced
When a convict came to the Isle of France;
And round his leg was a ring and chain
And his country was of the Shamrock Green.

?I'm from the Shamrock,? this convict cried,
?That has been tossed on the ocean wide.
For being unruly, I do declare,
I was doomed to transport these seven long years.

When six of them they were up and past
I was coming home to make up the last.
When the winds did blow and the seas did roar
They cast me here on this foreign shore.?

So then the coastguard he played a part
And with some brandy he cheered the convict's heart:
?Although the night is far advanced
You shall find a friend on the Isle of France.?

So he sent a letter all to the Queen
Concerning the wreck of the Shamrock Green;
And his freedom came by a speedy post
For the absent convict they thought was lost.

?God bless the coastguard,? this convict cried,
?For he's saved my life from the ocean wide.
And I'll drink his health in a flowing glass,
And here's success to the Isle of France.?
so much for hacks, and then we have van diemens land

Come all you gallant poachers that ramble free from care
That walk out of a moonlight night with your dog your gun and snare
Where the lofty hare and pheasant you have at your command
Not thinking that your last career is on Van Diemen's Land

There was poor Tom Brown from Nottingham Jack Williams and poor Joe
Were three as daring poachers as the country well does know
At night they were trepanned by the keeper's hideous hand
And for fourteen years transported were unto Van Diemen's Land

Oh when we sailed from England we landed at the bay
We had rotten straw for bedding we dared not to say nay
Our cots were fenced with fire we slumber when we can
To drive away the wolves and tigers upon Van Diemen's Land

Oh when that we were landed upon that fatal bay
The planters they came flocking round full twenty score or more
They ranked us up like horses and sold us out of hand
They yoked us up to the plough my boys to plough Van Diemen's Land

There was one girl from England Susan Summers was her name
For fourteen years transported was we all well knew the same
Our planter bought her freedom and he married her out of hand
Good usage then she gave to us upon Van Diemen's Land

Often when I am slumbering I have a pleasant dream
With my sweet girl I am sitting down by some purling stream
Through England I am roaming with her at my command
Then waken broken hearted upon Van Diemen's Land

God bless our wives and families likewise that happy shore
That isle of sweet contentment which we shall see no more
As for our wretched females see them we seldom can
There are twenty to one woman upon Van Diemen's Land

Come all you gallant poachers give ear unto my song
It is a bit of good advice although it is not long
Lay by your dog and snare to you I do speak plain
If you knew the hardship we endure you ne'er would poach again


if jim carroll or steve gardham can write any better than these hacks doubt it, you two, have some nerve


03 Jan 18 - 12:54 PM (#3897176)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

"I once went home with grass stains on my knees"

Too much information, surely, Jim?

Like you, I've always wondered where Beckett's 'Drinking' came from.


03 Jan 18 - 12:58 PM (#3897178)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

and aversion of the black velvet band [a broadside] from jim carroll pat mckenzie collection IS THIS DOGGEREL OR THE WORK OF A HACK, IF SO why did you think it worth preserving, jim?The Black Velvet Band
(Roud 2146)
Martin Howley
Fanore, north west Clare
Recorded 1975
Carroll Mackenzie Collection         


        
Martin Howley

As I went down to Broadway, intended not to stay very long,
When I spied a ticklesome cailín as she kept tripping along.
She took a watch out of her pocket and slipped it right into my hand,
And I cursed the first day that I met her, bad luck to her black velvet band.

Chorus:
Her eyes they sparkled like diamonds, you’d think she was queen of the land,
With her hair hung over her shoulders, tied up with a black ribbon band.

It was early then next morning, to the court we had to appear.
The jeweller he swore to the jury and the case against us was clear;
For seven long year’s transportation, into Van Diemen’s Land,
Far away from my friends and relations, to follow her black velvet band.

Chorus:
Oh , sure her eyes they shone like diamonds, you’d think she was queen of the land.
With her hair hung over her shoulders, tied up with a black velvet band.

And come all ye young fellows take warning, whenever you go on the spree;
Beware of those ticklesome cailíns, that’s knocking around Tralee.
They’ll treat you to whiskey and porter, until you won’t be able to stand.
And you’ll get seven year’s transportation for following the black velvet band.

"The earliest printed forms of this are 19th century English Broadsides such as the following;

To go in a smack down at Barking, where a boy as apprentice was bound,
Where I spent many hours in comfort and pleasure in that little town;
At length future prospects were blighted, as soon you may all understand;
So by my downfall take a warning — beware of a black velvet band.

One day being out on the ramble, alone by myself I did stray,
I met with a young gay deceiver, while cruising in Ratcliffe Highway,
Her eyes were as black as a raven: I thought her the pride of the land;
Her hair, that would hang o'er her shoulders, was tied with a black velvet band.

She towed me in port, and we anchored, from virtue she did me decoy,
When it was proposed and agreed to, that I should become a flash boy,
And drinking and gaming to plunder to keep up the game was soon planned;
But since, I've had cause to remember the girl with a black velvet band.

Flash girl, if you wish to turn modest, and strive a connexion to gain,
Do not wear a band o'er the forehead, as if to tie in your brain;
Some do prefer Victoria fashion, and some their hair braided so grand
Myself I do think it much better than a girl with a black velvet band

Young men, by my fate take a warning, from all those gay [ladies] refrain,
And seek for a neat little woman that wears her hair parted quite plain,
The subject that I now do mention, tho' innocent, soon me trapanned;
In sorrow my days will be ended, far from the black velvet band;

For she towed in a bold man-of wars man her ogle she winked on the sly,
But little did I know her meaning, when I twigged her a faking his cly,
He said, I'm bound for the ocean, and shortly the ship will be made,
[B]ut still I've a strong inclination for the girl with a black velvet band.

A snare was invented to slight and banish me out of her sight,
A fogle she brought of no value, saying, more I will bring this night
She slipped it sly into my pocket, false girl! and took me by the hand;
They gave me in charge for the sneezer — bad luck to the black velvet band!

[I?] Forkly was [j]ailed and committed, and cast in the jug for a lag,
A wipe that she pinched and bunged to me, and valued no more than a flag,
The judge said to me, you are s[e]ntenced to a free passage to Van Diemen's Land
[last line missing: My curse to the black velvet band?].

It was said to have been highly popular in the Australian Outback in the 1880s. Its first appearance in the oral tradition in England was at the beginning of the 20th century, taken down by collectors such as George Gardiner, George Butterworth and the Rev Sabine Baring Gould. During the BBC’s collecting project in the first half of the 1950s, it proved to be popular among English country singers. Its first printing in Ireland was in Herbert Hughes’ ‘Irish Country Songs' (1936). It seldom turned up from Irish traditional singers, one of the few occasions being from Elizabeth Cronin of Cork, who sang: 'In the neat little town of Dunmanway.' The popularity it finally received in Ireland was during the Irish ‘Ballad Boom'; this was largely due to its being performed by The Clancy Brothers and The Dubliners."
Jim Carroll

<< Songs of Clare
the broadside version is well written jim, is it not?


03 Jan 18 - 01:07 PM (#3897181)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

> the vast majority of the broadsides never made it into the folk repertoire - a bit difficult to discuss in the context of Roud's book as he bungs everything into the melting pot and calls them all 'folk'

No, he is explicitly concerned with the songs that the folk did sing.

Possibly some broadsides never sold very well. When they sold in reasonable numbers there must have been people who intended to learn the songs. Nevertheless, as we all acknowledge, most of those songs were not subsequently found by collectors. That could be because the people who intended to learn them had second thoughts. Or they sang them only briefly and then cast them aside. Or perhaps they did go on singing them but none of their friends and families took those songs up. Tastes can change a lot from one generation to the next, or even quicker. The songs that we love tend (though not exclusively) to be the ones that have endured because they have appealed to successive generations, albeit possibly only to an interested minority in each generation. That's your "selection" at work.


03 Jan 18 - 01:15 PM (#3897183)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

and here some of the finest lyrics in the english tradtion.. bold reynard the fox, from a broadside in the bodleian library.You gentlemen who take delight
In hunting bold Reynard the Fox:
On yonder stoney common I lived
And I had my dinner on the geese and ducks.

I kept myself on all these fine things
Not thinking soon that I should die,
Chased by a pack of bloody hounds
They causèd me my country to fly.

Throughout the wild country I rambled
And living at a fine old rate.
On sheep and lambs I had my dinner
And the farmers all around they did me hate.

So the Lord for the King's hounds he did send
and Jerry Balsam, he swore I should die.
I left three brothers all behind
That love young lambs much better than do I.

And it's down for the stoney valleys I run
And the bloody dogs they followed me;
Made me old coat stand on end
For to hear the bold huntsman, his loud "Hussa!"

And its often times I have been chased
By the dogs that run I don't know how;
In the whole course of me life
I never had such a chase and half until now.

And it's forty-five miles I have run;
I've run it in three hours space.
Strength that begins all for to fail
And the dogs they got forward on me a-pace.

And it's down by farmer Stewart's I run
And the keeper shot me in me thigh.
Curse you, huntsman, and your hounds
For this fatal wound; I know that I shall die.

And it's down to the stoney fields where they caught him
They caused poor Reynard's for to die.
Lord, they dragged him and then they tore him
And they caused his own fur jacket all to fly.

And it's now bold Reynard's he is dead
And they'll turn to the ale house and they'll dine.
Dip his old paw in the bumper
And drink me Lord's health in both ale and wine.

And Jim Carroll has the nerve to dismiss all writers of broadsides as hacks, the above lyrics are fine writing not doggerell


03 Jan 18 - 01:41 PM (#3897191)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"No, he is explicitly concerned with the songs that the folk did sing."
Sorry Richard, but he specifies that he regards folk sons as anything folk singers sing, so presumably if one o the singers happened to be a member of the local light opera society the Roud index would include selections from 'The Student Prince'
It is for this reason that I find Son of Folk Song in England so unapproachable

"here is an example of a well written brosdside"
Your opinion Dick - not necessarily mine, but beside the point anyway - I'm not discussing "good and bad" individual songs - I go along with Child's "veriable dunghills in which, only after a great deal of sickening grubbing, one finds a very moderate jewel" on this, but I've bent over backwards to avoid my personal taste from buggering up this discussion
I'm talking in general terms when I refer to the broadsides as being poor poetry
Do you know Black Velvet Band originated on the broadside presses and do you knowe for certain that there were no versions prior to the published one - nobody else does?
It might have been written by a hack or one that was taken by one from the oral tradition., but whichever, it is a song that became embedded in the oral tradition
Was the broadside version well written - "cast in the jug for a lag,
A wipe that she pinched and bunged to me, and valued no more than a flag" souns very much to me like a songmaker trying to sound like someone he's not to me - I wouldn't dream of trying top sing it - I much prefer Martin's
All a matter of opinion - we all have a right to our own tastes
It is not me or Steve G who invented the term 'hack' - it is a lablel that has been attached to the trade for centuries
Go dig up the originator and slate him or her for his or her "nerve"
I am not advocating that any song from anywhere is "not worth preserving
Many of the broadsides are social documents of urban life and as such they are invaluable   
Richard
It really needs to be remembered that the songs under discussion came from a period when the 'folk' were beginning to change from active participants in their culture to passive recipients of it.
In both the later traditions in Ireland and in the non-literate travellers culture you had far less of a sign of the literary effects that Mrs Laidlaw was so worried about and also a healthy and extremely active song-making tradition
Jim Carroll


03 Jan 18 - 02:17 PM (#3897197)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

By the way Dick - I find all 'killing for sport' songs as displays of barbarity and livin proof that not all the folk produced was good
Jim Carroll


03 Jan 18 - 03:54 PM (#3897211)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Rigby hits the nail firmly on the head when he writes:-
How many rural folk songs are there that deal directly with poverty or class divisions, or which exhibit any familiarity with rural life beyond that which would have been universal at the time? Some, no doubt, like the poaching songs -- but they are dwarfed in number by the ones in which someone walks out on a May morning into a vaguely described idyll full of singing birds and skipping lambs."

Exactly! I love English folk songs and have sung hundreds of them in Folk clubs, festivals and singarounds over the decades. That so very few of them reflect my personal political position is a great disappointment. I wish there were more that said the likes of:-
..... When the constable do come,
I'll stand with me gun,
And I'll swear all I have is me own, me brave boys.
And I'll swear all I have is me own.

A bit of defiance.... a bit of edge. Something that reflects the real struggles that families had to feed themselves and much less of the likes of:-
A flaxen-headed cowboy, as simple as may be,
And next a merry plough boy, I whistled o'er the lea;
But now a saucy footman, I strut in worsted lace.

Songs that hark back to a 'Merrie England' that never existed. Songs that might appeal to a more literate, wealthier class who wanted to believe that in spite of the drudgery. hardships and hunger that the lower classes were happy with their lot. Whoever wrote these songs that do not reflect the lives of the people they are talking about, sadly, we know from the work of the collectors that many of them were taken up by the people. Songs that have a revolutionary message are largely missing from the English folk canon.
Here's the words of a song that I love very much and sing fairly often. It's called What's Old England Come To?:-
One cold winter morning as the day was dawning,
A voice came so hollow and shrill,      
The cold wind did whistle, the snow softly falling,
As a stranger came over the hill.
The clothing he wore was tatter'd and torn,
He seem'd to be bewailing and wandering all forlorn.
Lamenting the pleasures that ne'er would return
Oh! Old England, what have you come to?

He said oh, I sigh for those hearts so undeserving.
On their own native land led to stray,   
And in the midst of plenty some thousands are starving,
Neither house, food nor clothing have they
I am surrounded by poverty & can't find a friend,
My cottage it is sold from me, my joys are at an end
So like some pilgrim, my steps I onward bend
Oh! Old England, what have you come to?

There once was a time I could find friends in plenty
To feed on my bounteous store,
But friends they are few now my portion is scanty,
But Providence may open her door
It nearly breaks my heart when my cottage I behold.
It is claim'd by a villain with plenty of gold
And I passing by all shivering with cold.
Oh! Old England, what have you come to?

The Farmer and Comedian do daily assemble,
And do try their exertion and skill,
But Alas! after all on this earth they do tremble
For all trades are near standing still.
If the great god of war now should quickly on us call
I would break these chains so galling
And bravely face a ball,
For to see my babies starving it grieves me worst of all
Oh ! Old England, what have you come to?

There's Manchester and Birmingham, alas! are fell to ruin
In fact, the whole country is at a stand,
Our shipping lies in harbour and nothing is doing
While our tars are starving on the land.
'Twould break the hearts of monarch's bold, if they could rise again,
To view our desolation, would near distract the brain,
So pity a poor stranger, or death may ease my pain.
Oh ! Old England, what have you come to?

I got it from Leslie Shepherd's 1973 book The History Of Street Literature where it is reproduced in facsimilie. I managed to trace the suggested tune of Irish Stranger through Vic Gammon and it carries the powerful committed words well. In going back to the original words after about 3 decades, I find that I have made a number of unconscious changes in the less important words which seem to make the song more singable (to my mind). The Roud Broadside Index tells us that it was printed in Newcastle, London, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Hull; the version in Shepherd's book is signed Swindells, Printer and in an article reproduced here written by Harry Boardman with help from Roy Palmer tells us Swindells this was located in Cathedral Yard, Manchester. The author of these words is not known; I agree that it is pejorative to call him a 'hack' and the description 'desk-bound, urban-based, notoriously bad poets' would seem to me to be a speculative description not based on any historical evidence. so let's just call him an anonymous broadside poet.
Now this broadside appeared in the city where the Peterloo Massacre took place roughly 20 years earlier. Memories of that slaughter must have still been in the mind of many of the adults. The movement that came to be known as 'Christian Socialism' was starting to emerge in the north of England at that time; the earliest time that it appeared in print was in the 1840s. Many broadside printers must have thought that there was a resonance with the population for its widespread publication. It would be useful to know how widely sung it was though we do know that it was never collected in the oral tradition!
Why?
Well, we have little evidence to base any conclusion on. We do know that 'The Barley Mow' and other convivial songs were popular at that time; it appears in William Chappell's Popular Music of the Olden Time (1855-1859) so it is possible that people preferred the jollity of drinking songs over one that reminds them of just how grim their plight was.


03 Jan 18 - 04:22 PM (#3897216)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

there are numerous sea songs that are emphatic about the harshness of life on board ship. But that seems to me to stand in contrast to the way rural life is presented. How many folk songs lament the harshness of life as a farm labourer?
Where were these songs sung? Would it make sense if the sea songs were sung ashore and the rural songs by those who had migrated to the town.


03 Jan 18 - 04:40 PM (#3897222)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

At last we have JC's examples of the prime of English folksong that couldn't possibly have been written by a broadside writer, or have come from any commercial enterprise. We now have something to work on.

I'll start with Joseph Taylor's unique fragment known as 'Brigg Fair'.
Unique means no variation within the oral tradition. Well that's one descriptor out then. Need we dwell on this one? Beautiful tune but hardly a prime example.

Maids of Australia. Again hardly a widespread song in oral tradition. Could that be because there are so few broadsides of it?
***'there is no real gap in standard or skill between a song like Maid of Australia and a typical broadside verse'***. Must agree with this, Rigby.


03 Jan 18 - 05:06 PM (#3897226)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

There is very little difference between the broadside and oral versions of 'Maids of Australia'. It was printed in the second half of the 19th century by Such of London, Pearson of Manchester, the Glasgow Poet's Box and Sanderson of Edinburgh and there is no reason to suppose that it is any older than the earliest of these printings.
Some show signs of having come from oral tradition so I will conduct a study of all versions and get back to you with my findings. Personally I quite like the song but that's neither here nor there.

Unfortunately we can't pinpoint the date of any of these printings to within a decade. Sod's law: Nearly all of the Glasgow Poet's Box slips are dated very precisely, all except this one, grrrrh!

Anyway, just to be going on with here is the GPB version.

One morning I strolled by the Oldberry banks,
Where the maids of Australia play their wild pranks,
Beneath the wild bushes I laid myself down,
All looking delighted and chanted around,
In the forests of happy Australia,
Where the maidens are handsome and gay.

I gazed with delight at this beautiful scene,
With the forests so wild and the trees ever green;
Then a beautiful damsel to me did appear,
To the banks of the river she quickly drew near,
She was a native of happy Australia,
Where the maidens are happy and gay.

She plunged into the river without fear or dread,
And her lily-white limbs she so neatly spread;
Her hair hung in ringlets, its colour was black--
"Don't you see, sir," said she, "how I float on my back,
On the streams of my native Australia,
Where the maidens are handsome and gay."

She swam till exhausted, and near to the brink,
"Assistance," she cried, "or I fear I will sink;"
Like lightning I flew and took hold of her hand,
She instantly tripped and fell back on the sand,
And I entered the bush of Australia,
With this maiden so handsome and gay.

I gazed and I toiled with the lightest of glee,
She was the fairest Australian I ever did see;
Long time did my head on her bosom recline,
Till the sun in the west did its limits resign,
And I left that fair maid in Australia,
Where the maidens are handsome and gay.

With this version at least there can be no question about the setting. Australian Tourist Board advertisement? Without going into offensive detail it's pretty obvious the broadside writer had never been to Australia and his informants were also somewhat misled. Songs of this type with very obvious sexual euphemisms abound in street literature, a lot of them printed in Ireland by Goggin of Limerick, long before this one.


03 Jan 18 - 05:25 PM (#3897237)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

And so to 'The Banks of Sweet Primroses' an old favourite of mine. It was the very first broadside I ever acquired, in 1965, from a little stamp shop under Charing Cross in London. It was a Catnach, London printing and it cost me £1.10s which was a fair bit in those days. The most accessible sung version at the time was by the Copper Family and I promptly learnt their version and sang it in folk clubs.

The song was fairly widely printed throughout England in the 19th century, a mark of its popularity. None of the many printings I have predate the Catnach one and they are all the standard 6 verses as found in oral tradition. As far as I know Pitts didn't print it though some of his successors did, and it could well be that in that form it is no earlier than c1830.

The opening line 'As I walked out one midsummer morning' whilst used in many folk songs is even more notorious for its usage in broadsides that did not survive to be collected from oral tradition. Don't believe me? Type in 'As I w.......' in the search box on the Bodleian Ballads website.


03 Jan 18 - 05:38 PM (#3897239)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Sweet Primroses, BTW, the last stanza 'the cloudy morning turning out to be a sunshiny day' is a broadside commonplace. Amongst others it is used in some broadside versions of 'Young Riley' and creeps into the American 'Fair and Tender Ladies'. Commonplaces are just as common on cheap print as they are in oral tradition if not moreso. The broadside writers were, like their fellow workers in the cities, great recyclers.


04 Jan 18 - 06:26 AM (#3897283)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

I briefly considered sending this as a PM, but I think it does belong on this thread because it is germane to Jim's theme of the people who made the songs having personal knowledge of their subjects.

Steve: "Without going into offensive detail it's pretty obvious the broadside writer had never been to Australia and his informants were also somewhat misled."

What is obviously wrong, apart from the name "Oldberry"?

Even now, with a metalled road running beside the Hawkesbury River and houses, a random spot on that road as shown in Google Streetview could still pass for "the forests so wild and the trees ever green". It's not the Outback.


04 Jan 18 - 09:45 AM (#3897299)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

I find all 'killing for sport' songs as displays of barbarity and livin proof that not all the folk produced was good

It was good to those who enjoyed it and kept it in the oral tradition. Don't the 'folks' preferences count when discussing their songs? I don't know any now but in the fifties that was where the men who dug the estates' ditches and layed their hedges were on a Boxing Day. They explained to me why some young toffs had blood on their faces. Don't rural workers who follow the hunt count as 'folk'?


04 Jan 18 - 10:14 AM (#3897308)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"is a broadside commonplace. "
It's also an old saying - used in my urban family
"At last we have JC's examples of the prime of English folksong that couldn't possibly have been written by a broadside writer"
No you haven't Steve - I said I was not going into the single songs cul-de-sac and that is what I meant
The ones I mentioned are, as far as I am concerned, typical of th best songs in the English Tradition and well within the grasp of any country songmaker, no more than that
Tell you what - you want to play that game - tell me which of our folk songs is beyond the abilities of a rural song-maker
If you can name none, you make my point for me that there is an at least equal chance that they were made by country people
"Rigby hits the nail firmly on the head when he writes:-
"How many rural folk songs are there that deal directly with poverty or class divisions, "
Im' interested that you should pick this up, yet choose to ignore my response Vic
AS Richard pointed out, that there may well have been overt political songs in the repertoire that were not collected or even sung to a collector, but that's beside the point.
The social content of our repertoire lies in how they deal with the effects of political and social events rather than the events themselves
What astounds and somewhat depresses me in all this is the readiness show by people here to accept that rural working people didn't make their songs but bought them as they would today's pop albums
Nobody appears even to want to discuss the implications of this - it means that working people were no more than repeating the work of bad poets
Steve Gardham chose to bring my politics into this, yet it is his arguments which largely remove the likelihood of a creative rural working class, and there seems to be a consensus her that this was the case, though so far, nobody has actually had the bottle to put that into words.
I have come to the conclusion of the time Steve and I have gone head to head that there ois a political agenda her - a non-creative working class, the denigration or the oral tradition by comparing it to the work of "the lowest apprentices in the printers at the bottom of the market", the idea that "the vast majority of the rural population in the early 19th century lived in abject conditions one step above slavery and there are multiple reasons why they would not have had the inclination to make their own songs"
Steve, in his talk, paid lip service to there being a "two way process" between people's songmaking and the broadside presses, yet his %94 to %100 having originated from the hacks doesn't leave a great deal of a likelihood that worker made any songs
As I said - how depressing
Jim Carroll


04 Jan 18 - 10:54 AM (#3897317)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Isn't it all an instance of "Ninety percent of everything is crap"? Various people made songs, and various people still do, some for money, some for political purposes, some just for the sake of it. A lot of those songs deservedly die very quickly and a few have lasting appeal.

There is considerable overlap between the ones that appeal to us folkies today and those in the classic corpus from the Victorian and Edwardian collectors, but it's far from perfect overlap. Some songs that were widely collected haven't been picked up in the Revival, and some that are widely sung in the Revival were collected very few times or (breathe it softly) were only written in the 1950s or later.

One reason why a song may appeal to us is that we see it as expressing the feelings of real people in a past age, and that can be true whether it was made by one of the people concerned or by a professional song writer who seems to have understood their plight. But songs can appeal for other reasons. Many ballads appeal simply because they are darn good tales. They can be about ploughboys and milkmaids, or about lords and ladies, or about magicians and witches.


04 Jan 18 - 11:10 AM (#3897324)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"They can be about ploughboys and milkmaids, or about lords and ladies, or about magicians and witches"
I forgot to mention that Steve has claimed that the Tales, music, lore, dance etc - also originated from those higher up the social ladder.
If all this nonsense is true, there would have been no folk traditions before Queen Victoria came to the throne because that's when literacy kicked in in rural areas
Up to then, only one third of the population of England were literate, and that was mainly among the Urban population - the rural labouring classes were virtually illiterate
There must have been long queues outside the doors of the literate, of people waiting to be taught the contents of broadsides
" Don't the 'folks' preferences count when discussing their songs? "
Would you have regarded dog fighting or bear baiting or public hanging and drawing and quartering in the same light, I wonder - tradition doesn't mean good
Jim Carroll


04 Jan 18 - 11:54 AM (#3897340)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

a well written song is a well written song regardless of whether it is about fox hunting or transportation, i have providee examplesof well written broadsides.


04 Jan 18 - 03:11 PM (#3897359)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Here we have the Catnach broadside of 'Banks' with the differences of an (oral tradition version) alongside.

As I walked out one midsummer morning
(For) To view the fields and to take the air
Down by the banks of the sweet primroses
There I beheld a most lovely fair.

Three long steps I took up to her (I stepp-ed)
Not knowing her as she passed me by
I step'ed up to her, thinking (for) to view her
She appeared to me like some virtuous bride.

I said fair maid where are you going
Or what is the occasion for all your grief (And what's the...)
I'll make you as happy as any lady (I will)
If you will grant me some small relief. (me once more a leave)

Stand off, stand off, you are quite deceitful (She said stand off, you are deceitful)
You've been a false deceitful man 'tis plain (You are deceitful and a false young man)
It's(It is) you that's caused my poor heart (for) to wander
(And) To give me comfort it is all in vain. (comfort lies all...)

I'll go down into (in) some lonesome valley
(Where) No man on earth shall there me find (there = e'er)
Where the pretty (little small) birds shall change their voices (shall=do)
At(And) every moment shall blow blusterous winds (shall blow=blows)

Come all you young maids(men) that go a courting
Pray give(pay) attention to what I say
For there's many a dark and cloudy morning (There is many a dark and a...)
Turns out to be a sun-shining day (shining=shiny)

Not exactly the language of a ploughlad. Such pieces derive from the many musical pastoral plays of the early 19th century but they first hit the streets in the form of a broadside. The many broadside printings are pretty much verbatim the Catnach piece and oral versions deviate from this about as much as the version given above. There shouldn't be any reason to give the oral version's source, but suffice it to say Jon Dudley would recognise it straight away.


04 Jan 18 - 03:27 PM (#3897361)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

I said I wasn't going to discuss individual songs but there's nothing to show that this wasn't taken from the tradition and altered to suit an urban audience - it's origins and percentages that concern methat concern me
I suggest you listen to Phil Tanner sing it and come back and tell me it sounds like a broadside compostion
I would appreciate a response to some of your claims though
Jim Carroll


05 Jan 18 - 04:36 AM (#3897455)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones

"Sorry Richard, but he specifies that he regards folk sons as anything folk singers sing, so presumably if one o the singers happened to be a member of the local light opera society the Roud index would include selections from 'The Student Prince'"

That's not quite what Roud is saying. His message is that it is not a song's origins which make it 'folk', but what the folk have done with it. That is not the same as saying that anything sung by a 'folk singer' is therefore folk.

For Jim, it appears that an important aspect of folk song is that it shows that working- class culture is to be valued, and he is understandably sensitive to anything which seems to undermine this. Roud's interest is in how these songs evolved and how they were used. He doesn't appear to be particularly interested in making any claims either for or against working-class creativity. As I read it, he is not intending an attack on the working class, he is simply not taking a 'class-conscious' approach, perhaps in contrast to Harker and others, whose Marxist analysis he criticises strongly.


05 Jan 18 - 05:00 AM (#3897462)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"His message is that it is not a song's origins which make it 'folk', but what the folk have done with it. "
Same thing Richard
Roud removes any possibility of the uniqueness of folk song by including 'everything that the folk sang'
Had the tradition continued, 'The Birdie Song' and 'Oobladee, Ooblada' would have had Roud numbers
Sam Larner had a large number of American Moody and Sankey hymns in his repertoire - do they merit Roud numbers?
Anybody who has ever tried to sing what we have always accepted as a folk song knows that they differ greatly from all other kind of song - it is those differences that should be discussed
Roud has neatly sidestepped that by not including song texts and not giving a discography we can use as a guide
Either shoddy scholarship or agenda driving
He has also not included what little we have of traditional singers opinions
Jim Carroll


05 Jan 18 - 07:54 AM (#3897507)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

Jim, interesting point Alfred Williams collected everything people were singing , the result was a historical and accurate picture of what was being sung by people in that loclity at that time, whether they are folk songs or whether we wish to sing them is a different subject, yes you are correct either shody scholarship or agenda driving


05 Jan 18 - 10:00 AM (#3897545)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

As the Sandman pointed out, the notion that a collector should include every item a singer performs isn't new. For instance, D. K. Wilgus criticized Cecil Sharp for omitting from his Appalachian collection recently-composed parlour songs known to be popular with mountain singers at the time.

Steve Roud's scholarship certainly isn't shoddy, and on the question of commercial songs becoming absorbed into 'folk' repertoire he's pretty much in line with the 1954 definition, stating at one point that a song ideally needs to have been passed down a couple of generations to qualify. Though, as I discussed in my post of September 29th, he does leave some ambiguity about that.

Sam Larner's Sankey & Moody hymns are an interesting case. Going back to Sharp, one of the criticisms levelled persistently at his work by American scholars is that he ignored the hymns that were a vibrant element in the repertoires of many Appalachian singers. This isn't actually correct, since he actually noted down several hymns that were straight out of books like 'Southern Harmony' and 'The Social Harp', knowingly or otherwise. All of these have Roud numbers - how could it be otherwise, given that they are in Sharp's collection? So should the Roud number be withdrawn because a given hymn is shown later to have come from a book? I've no doubt that Steve has thought carefully before deciding whether to allocate a number, for every one of the songs he's examined.

Anybody who has ever tried to sing what we have always accepted as a folk song knows that they differ greatly from all other kind of song

A lot of the differences that you and I would perceive are matters of musical and lyrical form, which in turn relate to the historical period in which many of our classic folk songs evolved. I understand that there are some (including previous posters to this thread) who have preferred Roud's FSE to talk more about the songs themselves, but that isn't the point of the book. It's a very thorough historical analysis of vernacular singing, that treats the Sharpian concept of folksong with respect but doesn't confine itself to that concept, and thus encourages us to at least think about its strengths and weaknesses.


05 Jan 18 - 11:51 AM (#3897570)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"I would perceive are matters of musical and lyrical form, "
I believe that the universal and timeless quality of folk songs accounts for their survival - once you view them as a singer you come to realise that a centuries old song can still say something about you as an individual
That is basically what MacColl and the Critics spent nearly ten years exploring and I belive it is what the singers we interviewed meant when they described their songs as "true"
Walter Pardon, Tom Lenihan and Mikeen McCarthy all described how they saw 'pictures' when they sang
As we knew Mikeen the best and the longest, we once conducted an experiment that we would never have carried out with somebody who we suspected might have become self-conscious after such an exercise
Mikeen had a mixture of songs, mainly traditional, with some early popular songs thrown in.
We got him to sing one of his traditional songs and recorded him describing what he saw - extensive and detailed, sometimes staggeringly so.
We repeated the exercise with a popular song - nothing
WE did this three times with the same result
Without actually using specific songs, we asked Walter Pardon about his pictures - he spoke at length about the pictures he saw and volunteered the information that those he described as not being 'the old folk songs' produced no such pictures
Mary Delaney had been blind from birth yet she spoke in terms of colours, sizes and hair styles - beyond me!
If talking about the songs and examining the context of song texts is not what the book is about, I'm at a loss to know why Roud calls it 'Folk Songs of England'
The greatest problem of our understanding of folk songs is that nobody ever asked the singers how they felt about then - this is led to a history of academic kite-flying
I suspect what this book is.
To ignore the basic beliefs of over a century's research by some of our greatest and most dedicated scholars is comparable to the Khmer Rouges 'return to the year zero'
Dave Harker approached his work on what amounted to personal attacks on the early collectors - Steve Gardham has described Child as an elitist and suggested he was incapable of separating his work on the ballads from that of formalal poetry
" He was Professor of English at Harvard. His previous work included a 30-vol critical edition of 'The English Poets'.Don't you think that colours some of his choices?"
Songs "being absorbed in the folk repertoire" is a meaningless term
It would mean that whatever any traditional singer who joined a local choir (as Walter's forbears did) or say, light opera society sang would automatically become a folk song.
It's the old 'singing horse' definition writ large
Jean Richie summed up beautifully how the old singers discriminated in their songs when she was collecting in Britain in the 1950s
She said (paraphrasing):
"if you asked for the old songs, you could get anything from Danny Boy tyo any of the mawkishly sentimental popular songs they had learned in their youth
Ask them if they knew 'Barbara Allen' and that's when the old folk songs songs would come pouring in".
Mary Delaney had as many Country and Western songs in her repertoire as she had traditional songs, yet she blankly refused to sing any of them
telling us "I only learned them because that's what the lads ask for down the pub".
She described all her traditional songs as "my daddy's songs" - she had dozens, when we recorded him he had six.
Their opinion has to be taken into consideration - Roud had the opportunity to include at least a a few of those opinions yet, once again - the real experts - the singers, were never consulted.
If that's not 'shoddy' than it's agenda driving.
Roud's book is of enormous interest to those who wish to lean about popular music of the past, but I fear that, taken uncritically it can do the same damage to folk song scholarship as the 'anything goes' policy has done to the club scene
It is pointless quoting the '54 definition which is largely based on Sharp's work if you have rejected the conclusions that that definition was based on
Jim Carroll


05 Jan 18 - 12:16 PM (#3897576)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

It is pointless quoting the '54 definition which is largely based on Sharp's work if you have rejected the conclusions that that definition was based on

I don't want to go too far down the road of angels and pinheads, but 1954 extended Sharp's concept to include songs with a known composer - provided they had been absorbed and refashioned by the community. Roud as far as I can see is saying no more than this, although there may be ambiguities over what constitutes 'refashioning'. Those light opera songs you mention were never going to be the kind of songs Walter's relatives would sing down the pub.


05 Jan 18 - 12:41 PM (#3897582)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

> Anybody who has ever tried to sing what we have always accepted as a folk song knows that they differ greatly from all other kind of song - it is those differences that should be discussed

It's not black and white: there are many colours.

"what we have always accepted as a folk song" won't have exactly the same boundaries for all of us, so let's focus on what I am calling the classic corpus, the material collected by Sharp et al. Within that there are quite different kinds of song: for example the bucolic "Colin and Phoebe" sort, the ballads about battles between Scottish lords or lairds, those about sea battles, those like The Two Sisters and The Two Brothers that are set in no particular time and place, etc. To my mind the differences between those kinds are as great as between them and songs from the music hall.


05 Jan 18 - 12:46 PM (#3897585)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" provided they had been absorbed and refashioned by the community."
It depends on how you construe the term 'absorbed'
Does repeating a song mean it has been absorbed - not in my book, it doesn't
I believe it to be far more complicated that that - it involved ownership and identification.
Let's face it, as far as communities are concerned, the popular songs all came with a shelf-life as do all popular songs - shorter nowadays than they once were
Largely they came into the repertoires stillborn and remained unaltered.
One of the great mistakes in assessing our folk-songs is regarding them as 'entertainment'
They were thi, of course, but they were much, much more than that.
Harry Cox's "and that's what they thought of us" piece of venom makes in clear that there was something going on between him and Betsy the Serving Maid' than immediately meets the ear.
We got similar responses from the singers we met.
'Pop's' Johnny Connors entitling his version of Edward' 'Cain and Abel' and claiming that Cain was the founder of the Travelling people was the first time we ever came across this
We were not the only ones to have noticed this relationship between traditional singers and their songs
Ken Goldstein had similar experiences, particularly with a New York State singer Sara Cleveland - the work done by Lomax with Texas Gladden touches on the same theme
Jim Carroll


05 Jan 18 - 01:00 PM (#3897587)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"It's not black and white: there are many colours."
Of course there are - within genres of songs
It's lumping all the genres together that disturbs me
This is why I feel it virtually impossible to discuss this subject without discussing the function of the songs and what prompted them to be made in the first place
Much of this work has been done by the more serious of the revival singers
I have to say I am at a loss to understand Steve Round's take on the revival - his description rages from denim clad, guitar strumming activists to agenda driven Marxists - he appears to be unaware of the serious work that was done by some performers.
When he described his own personal tastes in one interview he cited two women singers both as far away from traditional singing as you could possibly get - arcetypical breathy 'little girl' voices, gappy - 'note-per-syllable' phrasing, non-narrative and no discernable interpretation.
Maybe we're talking about a different type of folk song
Jim Carroll


05 Jan 18 - 01:15 PM (#3897592)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: RTim

I have been reading and reacting to almost every word said in this thread - but had decided that it no longer needed my input -
However.....Jim - I think you live in a different world to me and the majority of posters here.

Good luck to you and your world - but I really don't know what you want of others....and the "insults" you write regarding Steve's selection of singers he likes....is way beyond even your previous statements, and not necessary.

Tim Radford


05 Jan 18 - 01:33 PM (#3897600)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim - I think you live in a different world to me and the majority of posters here."
Sorry you feel the need to analyze my position in the universe without responding to ant of the points I've made Tim - particularly the ones on whether you believe working people to have been capable of making their own songs or the implications of disenfranchising and entir social class as composers of their own culture
Ah- well - at least you're not alone regarding those
Jim Carroll


05 Jan 18 - 02:00 PM (#3897608)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"you write regarding Steve's selection of singers he likes....is way beyond even your previous statements, and not necessary."
Why - is not part of what we are discussing what good folk singing sounds like?
Our traditional singers tended to pitch their singing around natural speaking tones and their approach was narrative
If Steve R feels free to comment as he does on a revival I was part of for nearly half a century, then I see no reason why I should not be able to comment of what he feels to be good folk singing
I get a little tired of being told that things are "good" when I believe they are patently not
Jim Carroll


05 Jan 18 - 02:00 PM (#3897609)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

This is typical of JC's twisting and turning and misquoting or, if I am overgenerous, simply perhaps misunderstanding. No-one on any thread or in any book in recent years has suggested working people are incapable of making their own songs. Quite the contrary, we have gone to great pains to give him examples of working people making their own songs. As a field worker myself I have come across plenty of examples, some of which he has declared are not folk songs.


05 Jan 18 - 05:39 PM (#3897636)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

More on 'The Maids of Australia' The English broadside printed by Such (London) and by Pearson (Manchester) are the same 7 verse text along with a printing without imprint in the Holt Collection. The Such printing can be seen on the Bodleian Broadside Ballads website.
The GPB version seems to mainly derive from the longer English printings. Sanderson, GPB, Such and Pearson were all printing past 1900, although I'd guess the earliest of these would be about 1865.

2 lines in the last verse which differ in the 2 versions, I can't make my mind up which makes the most sense if any at all. The GPB version does at least rhyme more closely, but that doesn't really tell us much.

Such et al.
'Long time on her bosom my face I did hide
Till the sun in the west its visits declined.'

GPB
'Long time did my head on her bosom recline,
Till the sun in the west did its limits resign.'

Perhaps they're both equally crap!

Now to check out the oral versions. More anon.


06 Jan 18 - 04:59 AM (#3897685)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"No-one on any thread or in any book in recent years has suggested working people are incapable of making their own songs"
This is exactly what you have done here in regard to folk songs - the only example we have ever had of "a voice of the people"
You claim that that "voice" rather than being the voice of the people, is that of poor poets doing it for money.
If that is true, working people have left no record behind them of their lives, experiences and aspirations
You even denigrated the oral tradition by comparing it to the work of "the lowest of the broadside hacks in an attept to explain a poor version of "Higher Germany"
"Its poor construction and inconsistency might suggest having come from oral tradition, but it could also be down to the fact that such jobs were given to the lowest apprentices in the printers at the bottom of the market. It's not possible to say whether it precedes or derives from 'High Germany'"
Your claim has wavered fro 90% to 100% of our folk songs being commercially produced products.
Your responses to being challenged have been at best inconsistent and evasive, right through to being personally insulting as now, where you are all but calling me a liar
"This is typical of JC's twisting and turning and misquoting or, if I am overgenerous, simply perhaps misunderstanding."
I have set my case out as clearly as I can, I am not politically motivated as you have suggested, I am not an attention seeker, as you have suggested, nor am I a liar as you have also suggested
I have insulted no-one here, though you suggest I have
I have doubts of your abilities as a researcher, based on what you have come up with and the inconsistencies you use to defend it, but your aggressive and insulting behaviour makes you everything you have accused me of being
It's about time you addressed the points I am making instead of hurling childish abuse
I certainly have no intentions of being bullied and blustered out of expressing my opinions on this matter
Jim Carroll


06 Jan 18 - 05:35 AM (#3897691)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Steve: "No-one on any thread or in any book in recent years has suggested working people are incapable of making their own songs"

Jim: "This is exactly what you have done here in regard to folk songs - the only example we have ever had of "a voice of the people"
You claim that that "voice" rather than being the voice of the people, is that of poor poets doing it for money."

Sorry Jim but you are misrepresenting what has been said. The claim is that most of the collected songs were originally made for broadsides or started in the theatre etc and went from there to broadsides and from those to the folk. No-one has suggested that this applies to all the songs.

It has also been pointed out that songs made by ordinary people may have never got widely disseminated so never got collected. If they have vanished without trace we can have no idea how good or bad they were or how many of them existed.

If the "voice" that you're concerned with is that of common people making songs, rather than liking, learning and singing songs originally made by professional writers, then by all means focus on the ones that seem to best express those common people's experiences. Whether a song was actually made by (for example) a sailor or by a broadside writer based on a conversation with a sailor may be less important, but take account of that as well if you can.


06 Jan 18 - 06:00 AM (#3897697)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"The claim is that most of the collected songs were originally made for broadsides or started in the theatre etc and went from there to broadsides and from those to the folk. No-one has suggested that this applies to all the songs."
THe claim is between 94 and 100 per cent - either casts doubt than any originated with 'the people' that they have been attributed to for the last century or so
"It has also been pointed out that songs made by ordinary people may have never got widely disseminated so never got collected."
We don't know how many were disseminated - we have to either base our assumptions on those collected fro a tradition in a poor state of health or, more logically, go to English speaking traditions that were healthier - the Scots, the Irish and most of all the non-literate Travellers
We also need to examine the contents of the songs to see if there is anything in them to suggest their origins - I have spent half a lifetime doing just that and also interviewing singers from either living or only recently deceased traditions.
"Liking " has nothing to do with this, listening has a great deal.
This is the level we should be discussing this - not slinging personal insults.
I would suggest that most if not all our folk songs are based on experiences and emotions that still apply to us all - that's what makes them important
You can't do that from a book that admits it deals with songs only "in passing"
Jim Carroll


06 Jan 18 - 07:07 AM (#3897702)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

"The claim is between 94 and 100 per cent"
Where is that claim?

"We don't know how many were disseminated - we have to either base our assumptions on those collected fro a tradition in a poor state of health or, more logically, go to English speaking traditions that were healthier - the Scots, the Irish and most of all the non-literate Travellers"

Steve Roud's book deals with what went on among ordinary people in England. Evidence from other countries could indicate how things may have been in England but it's not certain. We can't know what songs were made by ordinary people except where either someone documented them at the time or they survived in the tradition long enough to be collected.

"Liking " has nothing to do with this, listening has a great deal.

Liking has everything to do with which songs survived (wherever they started) and which ones died. Some singers may have learnt and sung songs that they personally didn't much like for the sake of pleasing audiences, but if neither singers nor audiences like a song it won't survive very long.

"This is the level we should be discussing this - not slinging personal insults."

We've had plenty of strong criticisms of other people's opinions on this thread but I haven't seen many personal insults, and of course we should be avoiding those. Let's continue to respect each other as individuals and even opinions that we disagree with.


06 Jan 18 - 08:03 AM (#3897707)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Where is that claim?"
"I've put it up already Richard - do you really wish to do so again - probably save a bit of time if I do
Subject: RE: 'Historical' Ballads
From: Steve Gardham - PM
Date: 19 Apr 11 - 05:14 PM
You're now changing my 95% into 100%, Jim.
"Steve Roud's book deals with what went on among ordinary people in England. "
Yet Roud tore down the barriers between what the ordinary people sang and what it has always been believed they actually made to express their own emotions and opinions
If he is right, the o.ps are still participating in a healthy living tradition in the karaoki venues in Britain - that has become the new folk music.
I don't think anybody is seriously claiming that, but that is the logic of the new definition.
"Liking has everything to do with which songs survived"
Liking has nothing to do with defining the genre of a song - I like some operatic arias, but they remain what they are
Why the singers sang what they did is a question that needs addressing, but I don't think the term "audiences" is a helpful one in this respect
I believe the songs survived because they had something to say about the lives and communities of the people who sang them
It is inconceivable to me that people in these circumstances actually learned songs they didn't like
The Tradition ended when print, radio, manufactured entertainment... replaced the home-made songs
That was when the ordinary people (hate that term) ceased to be creative participants in their culture and became passive obd=servers of it.
We wer told a story by a man in Winterton in Norfolk, Jim Larner (no relation as far as we could make out).
He described an old man walking into the local pub, 'The Fishermans Return' where Sam used to sing and seeing a new-fangled cats-whisker radio on the counter
He asked what it was and the publican told him that it was a gadget for bringing in music and news from London.
The old man swept the radio off the shelf and it smashed to pieces on the floor - it wasn't replaced till decades later.
That's what Mrs Laidlaw was saying taken to the extreme.
"I haven't seen many personal insults,"
Then you've been very selective in your reading - Steve is still trading in them
A have a PM from Steve that counts as hate mail - I have no intention of using it here, but I have it for future reference
I may get passionate and angry but I have not dealt in personal insults here and only do in return for persistent personal insulting from others elsewhere
Jim Carroll


06 Jan 18 - 08:16 AM (#3897712)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones

I'm beginning to wonder if we're all reading the same book.

Roud spends some time discussing the difficulty of defining 'folk song', and repeatedly refers to the imprecision of the term. He is also clear that for the purposes of the book it is "the process through which songs pass, in the brains and voices of ordinary people, which stamps them as 'folk'. Therefore, songs which the common people have adopted as their own, regardless of origin, constitute in some way their collective voice, and are 'folk songs'"

To me, this doesn't appear to be a particularly contentious or unusual interpretation and it reflects the 1954 definition. The difficulty with defining folk is not so much the broad concept but around the margins, and especially in pinning it down in the case of individual songs.

He also explains why he doesn't give song texts - lack of space. The book is already a bit of a brick at more than 700 pages, and to include texts would make it unwieldy or require another volume. He points out that texts (and tunes) are readily available online and provides the references to seek them out. Where it is necessary to quote a text to demonstrate a particular point he does so.

The final chapters spend some time discussing what individual singers thought about their songs, and their own accounts of how they came by them - from other singers, from printed sources, and in the 20th century from gramophone records. It also describes how songs were made in the community, both by individuals and by committee, although he makes the point that these often didn't survive for long, being too topical and too local. He also records that folk singers provided broadsheet printers with many songs.

The book can probably be criticised on a number of grounds - it would be remarkable if that were not the case. It is perhaps fair to say that it doesn't really explore how this process of adoption makes these songs special in themselves, or whether this idea is really only wishful thinking on the part of modern enthusiasts. However that isn't the aim of the book, which is to explore the social history of popular song which provided the environment in which this took place, and to show that 'folk song' didn't exist in cultural isolation but was part of, and drew on, a wider musical landscape.


06 Jan 18 - 09:40 AM (#3897734)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

"I've put it up already Richard - do you really wish to do so again - probably save a bit of time if I do
Subject: RE: 'Historical' Ballads
From: Steve Gardham - PM
Date: 19 Apr 11 - 05:14 PM
You're now changing my 95% into 100%, Jim.

You've shot yourself in the foot there Jim. That quotation from him followed one where you seemed to be attributing to him a figure of 100%. Possibly that wasn't what you meant. Anyway his figure was and is 95%.


06 Jan 18 - 09:47 AM (#3897735)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Roud spends some time discussing the difficulty of defining 'folk song'"
There really hasn't been any difficulty defining folk songs until relatively recently when a number of clubs decided that they wished to move away from the traditional repertoire and include music hall, Victorian parlour ballads, pop songs from earlier years (which gradually got less and less early) and eventually anything they wished to call 'folk'
THe damage done to the club scene speaks for itself - those of us who had apprenticed ourselves to a specific type of song simply walked away from the scene and sought our songs elsewhere other than the clubs.
We have a large library of folk material - I could pull down one from a hundred or so collections and say - there - that's what I mean by folk song
The last large set we added to our collection was the 8 volume 'Greig Duncan Folk Song Collection'
Before the term 'folk' became the popular form af describing this specific type of song, ther were referred to as 'popular' - of the people - as in Child's 'English and Scottish Popular Ballads'
The term is an internationally accepted one - we have numerous examples of folk songs from other countries
What on earth is difficult about that?
These difficulties' have been wished into existence by a small number of researchers for god knows what reason.
We don't need a definition to enjoy any type of music - we enjoy it for what it is, but if we are going to understand it, we need to reach a consensus of what we are referring to - no consensus has been sought here, no referenda to decide whether the existing definition is no longer valid, what scholarship has taken place has been rejected by a few people who are now declaring they have an answer that has always been available and largely rejected.
Child worked on the broadsides and described them as he did, carefully discriminating between the jewels and the dung.
Sharp held the same opinion - both lived at the time when the broadside industry was still functioning; if our songs originated on the broadside presses they were in a far better position to have judged that we are.
The way past scolarship has been regarded is little short of disgraceful in my opinion - Child becomes an "elitist" incapable of sorting Art poetry from traditional ballads, Sharp is agenda driven.
The rest are regarded similarly
Here I have become an attention seeking politico liar
The ivory tower nature of accepting this change is clearly stated when I was told that if I disagreed with it I should write my own book - very reminiscent of a revival that resented all kinds of criticism, particularly that of its superstars
This behaviour sickens me
I am appalled at the readiness of people to refuse to discuss the implications of taking the credit from the people who have always been considered the creators of folk song and giving it to doggerel writers
I'll deal with the rest of your posing later
Jim Carroll


06 Jan 18 - 10:14 AM (#3897739)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Once again, Howard Jones' post above seems to make entire sense to me. There is nothing in the post the does not seem to me to reflect entirely the methods and approach that Steve Roud adopts throughout his book. Howard pinpoints the reasons why there are so few songs reproduced in it and to that could be added the reasons why he does not deal with the folk revival - by the time that emerged (circa 1950) the tradition only survived in fragmentary form in a few parts of England. Some, not all, of the traditional performers who became involved in the folk club movement saw it as a potential source of material. Three examples of this that come to mind straight away would be Fred Jordan, George Belton and Sheila Stewart (yes, I know not English, but she learned and subsequently sang a song that she learned at our folk club).
He also asks us not to obsess on origins because that only leads to a chicken & egg situation which we cannot resolve satifactorily. Rather, we should draw conclusions on ideas and theories that we can give evidence for and not what we woukd like to be the case, whilst keeping an open mind of what future research may discover.
On pages 24 - 25 in the chapter on definition, Steve gives a list saying, "The following statements will help us to put these abstract concepts into context, and add some details". The list also gives the thrust of what the book is going to be about. -
* It is not the origin of a song that makes it folk but the transmission within the folk tradition which makes it so.
* It is not where it comes from that matters, but what the folk do with it (what some people summarise as 'folk song by destination' rather than 'folk song by origin').
* Folk song is not only defined partly by its social context; it relies on that context for its existence.
* Folk song does not exist in a cultural or musical vacuum.
* Oral/aural transmission has always been an extremely important component m folk traditions, but since the invention of printing, there has probably never been a purely 'oral' tradition, even among the lower classes.
* However learnt (even if from print or musical notation), performance is normally carried without the aid of written text or notated tune.
* The folk have always taken their material from anywhere they liked, in whatever medium they have found convenient. As soon as new media, such as recorded sound, films and broadcasting became available, these were readily adopted as sources of new songs.
* Within an active tradition, songs are passed from person to person and thereby down the generations. New or different songs can enter a local tradition at any time.
* If nobody in the community likes a song enough to learn it, it will die within that community, but this is not the only possible reason for the 'death' of a song.
* Folk songs are not necessarily very old, but they must have been around long enough to become part of this traditional transmission (two generations might be an acceptable rule of thumb).
* Like all human cultural activities, folk song is not static but is in a continual state of flux, and has always changed over time, A new song usually loses its origin and becomes anonymous and common property.
* The people themselves rarely have an 'original' of a song with which they can compare their own version.
* From the folklorist s point of view, no version of a song is 'better' than another, but singers themselves will have criteria by which they will judge songs and performances.


06 Jan 18 - 10:24 AM (#3897740)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

THat answers none of the points I made Vic
This, as far as I am concerned over-rides all of them
""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'."
Weare talking about a specific type of song - if that is no longer applicacble it is up to all of us to agree to make the changes
Jim Carroll


06 Jan 18 - 10:26 AM (#3897741)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Should have added - that specific type of song has reveled in the description 'folk song' for well over a century
Jim Carroll


06 Jan 18 - 02:08 PM (#3897768)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

From: Steve Gardham - PM
Date: 01 Oct 17 - 12:26 PM

Just to clarify Jim's comment at 11.28.

Fact: Of published English traditional folk songs 89% had their first extant manifestation on some form of commercial production in urban areas.

My opinion, take or leave, 95% of this corpus came from the same source. Many ephemeral printed pieces did not survive. We know this from the many catalogues that do survive.

This was posted on this thread on the above date. The same 2 statements have been posted on other threads several times. I find it sad that I have to keep reproducing it because one individual keeps twisting what it says.

That individual appears to hold the opinion that a certain substantial percentage of English folk songs from the main corpus originated in places other than the urban environment. We are not told what that percentage might be, presumably because he has not done the required research that others have.


06 Jan 18 - 03:12 PM (#3897777)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

""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'.
jim, they are folk songs under the 1954 definition if football crowds start singing them


06 Jan 18 - 03:16 PM (#3897778)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

""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'."

I see little in common between any two of those five songs, beyond the fact that all five have appealed to, and been sung by, lots of people.

They are of five different vintages.

'Little Boxes' and 'The Red Flag' are both political (in different ways), but so is 'The Coal-owner and the Pitman's Wife'. The latter two both concern the "class struggle".

'The Outlandish Knight' and Searching for Lambs' both concern courtship, but under drastically different circumstances.

As for the quality of the poetry: I'd put 'The Coal-owner and the Pitman's Wife' well ahead of the other four, but that's a personal opinion.

Jim, what attribute do you see as being clearly shared by your last three but neither of your first two?


06 Jan 18 - 03:28 PM (#3897779)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"My opinion, take or leave, 95% of this corpus came from the same source"
"You're now changing my 95% into 100%, Jim."
We'll leave the fact that you have also claimed 100% as well for a moment
"My opinion, take or leave, 95% of this corpus came from the same source"
Over the same time period I presume ?
Anybody who has read anything with any perception know that styles alter over in time so it is impossible to compare anything over different periods
The only solid evidence you have is the original published date - no idea if any song appeared before that date
Nobody here has come up with a statement that working people were capable of having produced such songs so we have to assume from their silence that they don't wish to commit themselves - fine by me, I can take that silence to mean whatever I want it to mean.
"We are not told what that percentage might be, presumably because he has not done the required research that others have.?" hw ****** arrogant can you get - whatever I might or might not have done, there has been over a century's worth of research carried out on this particular genre of songs, locally, nationally and internationally, all having fully accepted up to now that the people who sang the songs quite likely made them
You say these people weren't Gods, yet it is you people who are challenging centuries of work
I don't know how many songs were made by the people and I wouldn't be arrogant enough to claim I did - that would be the work of gods, given how little we know about both broadside and folk composing.
I have no ambitions to sainthood, I leave that to the more ambitious.
I've laid out the facts as I know them or believe them to be true - no more
Fat - we ghave a genre of songs that have been around at least since the time of The Venerable Bede - fairly well substantiated
Since a group of enterprising pioneers came across them they have been pt under faily intense scrutiny - pretty well all those involved accepted without challenge that they were made by the lower classes - no serious challenge until Dave Harker's viciousness.
Back in the seventies Maccoll gave me a study package produced by an American research team of song experts headed by Alan Lomax who had embarked on an intense study of international folk song, attempting to identify forms, disciplines, vocal techniques, poetic forms.... and put them into aa societal context - the project was entitled 'Cantometrics' (song measurement) - a further project (Choreometrics), did the same job on dance carried out by dance experts
Ewan wanted me to get it reviewed for the Folk Music Journal and the then editor, Mike Yate agreed that I do the review - I didn't want to and I shouldn't have done it)
The team examined folk son in minute detail, linking each nations songs to their social systems, language, geography, cultural influences....
Not one researcher, after such close scrutiny, felt the need to revise their opinions on the source of folk songs
Wonder what they missed - or maybe they were all agenda driven elitists like Child and Sharp!!
Now small group of largely print bound 'experts' have decided that all the experts of the past gott it arse-uppards
Yeah - give me a pen - where do I sign up to that one!!!
Jim Carroll


06 Jan 18 - 03:32 PM (#3897780)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'I said I was not going into the single songs cul-de-sac and that is what I meant' JC. Jan 4, 10.14 a.m.

'I said I wasn't going to discuss individual songs' JC. Jan 4, 03.27 p.m.

'We also need to examine the contents of the songs to see if there is anything in them to suggest their origins' JC. Jan 6. 06.00 a.m.

There must be 2 JCs on this thread.


06 Jan 18 - 03:47 PM (#3897782)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

largely print bound 'experts'

Wrong ,wrong, wrong again!

Both Steve Roud and I have spent our lives immersed in traditional music at least every bit as much as JC, as performers, field workers, dancers, mummers, organisers, callers, etc. etc. Neither of us has ever used the word 'experts' to describe ourselves, nor would we. And by the way we are not a 'small' group in terms of folk song research.
Which 'large' group does JC belong to I wonder.

'I doe but shoote your owne arrow back againe' (16th century).


07 Jan 18 - 04:06 AM (#3897837)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"There must be 2 JCs on this thread."
We all need to examine the contents of the material as a body and see if your claim floats - your aggressive and insulting responses to any form of challenge leaves me with the feeling that you are not someone I wish to do that with
We have already tried it in an earlier thread and became bogged down in unnecessary incidentals.
I have not tolerated your insulting and patronising behaviour in the hope that I might change your mind - but in the chance that someone with less of an agenda than yours (happy to say that in the light of your already having accused be of having a political one and being an attention seeker) will weigh in with other opinions

None of this can be decided by two people slugging it out on a forum that has made 'what is folksong' a no go area' and discussion on the ideas and achievements of one of the greatest contributors to our pleasure and understanding of modern folk song performance a minefield of 'name-change' and army record.
If we are going to make any sense of folk song and save it from the same fate of the club scene that burned out when its foundations were destroyed by lack of direction, there has to be some sort of meeting of minds from all with an interest - not from messiahs who appear to have stumbled across the answer.
That discussion has to take into consideration what the earlier researchers had to say and if they got is so fundamentally wrong, why they did (without the 'adenda driving' and 'elitist' garbage)
We also need to take into consideration what little we have from the singers themselves.
The positive things that came out of the revival (not the performances or the faddiness, but the writing that was done in the form of magazine articles (when the revival had such things) and sleeve notes
The Critics group did what amounted to nearly ten years research on song texts in order to sing them - mostly recorded.
Parker, MacColl, Lomax, Roy Palmer, Mike Yates.... and others interviewed some of our best sings, some of whom had participated in living traditions - all need to be got together and examined - a life's work for a future generation.
Work done by those researching traditions other than the little tiny dying corner we are talking about here, need to be looked at - Hamish Henderson, Peter Cook, Peter Hall, Hugh Shields, Tom Munnelly, John Moulden....
The last thing we need to be told is that our tradition was created for money and is no different than the output of the pop industry - which doesn't make sense anyway.

With a few notable exceptions, Folk academia seems to have shrunk into an introspective freemasonry talking to each other in "a language that the stranger does not know" and producing books that are sold at prices people don't wish to or are unable to pay.
E.F.D.S.S. should have been at the forefront of of any discussion but it is difficult to see where they stand at present
I am not able to attend T.S.F. meetings (the last one I attended several of us from Ireland spoke at) but I had hopes that they could expand and move outside of their meetings - I'm not sure now.

I don't have any answers, but I'm damn sure that lumping folk songs in with all the musical dross that was accepted for a time than forgotten, to be replaced by more musical dross, isn't one of them
Jim Carroll


07 Jan 18 - 04:41 AM (#3897840)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

The TSF is closely affiliated to the EFDSS, in fact it should be seen as the research arm of that body. Apart from that take a look at the website, both TSF's and EFDSS, plus tthe Folk Music Journal.

Out of touch with both Folksong Research and the British Folk Scene.


07 Jan 18 - 05:19 AM (#3897845)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Do your really
y think I haven't Steve?
My statement was made on the basis of my having looked
Jim Carroll


07 Jan 18 - 05:40 AM (#3897849)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby

It seems to me that there has always been a problem in folk song research, whereby people come to folk song and traditional music with some idea that they want it to conform to, and then they have great difficulty accepting that it doesn't.

Some wanted folk song to be an expression of class anger on behalf of the working classes.

Some wanted folk song (and folklore more generally) to be all about the supernatural, or about survivals from pre-Christian religion.

Some wanted folk song to be a sort of well-spring of uniquely English music to counter the dominance of German music.

Some wanted folk song to represent the survival of the ancient church modes in a world where art music had left them behind.

Jim seems to want folk song to represent a body of music composed by non-literate, anonymous members of the communities in which it was sung.

One of the things I love about English folk music is the way in which it stubbornly resists all of these generalisations and more. Like the English people, it's contradictory and inconsistent and wilful, and if you want to lead it somewhere, it won't follow.


07 Jan 18 - 06:58 AM (#3897872)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Some wanted folk song to be an expression of class anger on behalf of the working classes."
Nobody I met ever wanted it to be that
Some people used it to express their own political beliefs, notably CND and The American Civil rights movement, but that's not claiming that the songs expressed political anger - the latter were largely using spirituals
"Some wanted folk song (and folklore more generally) to be all about the supernatural, or about survivals from pre-Christian religion."
That was a very early approach that largely disappeared with Wimberly's more or less definitive work
"English music to counter the dominance of German music."
That was Sharp's original aim, similar approaches were taken by Bartok and Kodaly in Europe
In each case, the collectors and researchers came to the idea that Folk Music could stand on its own two feet as an art form in itself
Sharp's 'Some Conclusions' for all its faults, was an attempt to understand folk musc for what it meant to the folk,
Don't know enough about Church music to comment
"Jim seems to want folk song to represent a body of music composed by non-literate, anonymous members of the communities in which it was sung."
Not me Rigby - that is what the bulk of scholarship accepted as early as William Motherwell when he wrote'Minstrelsy Ancient and Modern" in 1846
Please don't make this "my" theory - it has been the long accepted belief up to comparatively recently
Watever the truth, all these 'generalisations' have a validity of one degree and another - that is why the statement by MacColl that started this shouting match is so important
"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. "
There's nothing dogmatic about that - rightly raises the possibility that our folk songs came from several sources - it was that that suggestion that elicited Steve's accusation of naivety - everything went downhill from then on
Jim Carroll


07 Jan 18 - 07:56 AM (#3897882)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'One of the things I love about English folk music is the way in which it stubbornly resists all of these generalisations and more. Like the English people, it's contradictory and inconsistent and wilful, and if you want to lead it somewhere, it won't follow.'

Great statement! Is it your own? Who do I come to to quote it in future publications? (Ros?)


07 Jan 18 - 08:21 AM (#3897883)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Great statement! "
It is indeed, but it's far from new, and it applies to those who would attempt to tie folk song (or even 95% of it) down to a single source
Jim Carroll


07 Jan 18 - 08:22 AM (#3897884)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Rigby

Yes that was my statement, if you really think it quotable please use it as you see fit! I don't mind if you attribute it or not, but if you do, my name is Sam Inglis. I should get around to registering here under my own name some time.


07 Jan 18 - 09:00 AM (#3897888)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Please do, Sam. Your input would be valued.

ploughlads, weavers, farm hands, broadsides, pleasure gardens, theatres, Music Hall, glee clubs, song cellars, seamen, hard-up poets, parlour songs, etc., etc., hardly a 'single source'.


07 Jan 18 - 09:26 AM (#3897891)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'I suggest you listen to Phil Tanner sing it and come back and tell me it sounds like a broadside compostion' (JC) Jan 3rd 3.27

Magnificent performance as ever, but we can't escape from the fact that Phil's 4 verses are almost verbatim 4 of the verses from the standard seminal broadside.


07 Jan 18 - 09:32 AM (#3897893)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones

"The last thing we need to be told is that our tradition was created for money and is no different than the output of the pop industry - which doesn't make sense anyway."

Why doesn't it make sense? I understand why Jim may find the idea distasteful, but unless folk culture existed in a bubble cut off from all outside influences it seems entirely plausible to me. Roud's case is that there was an extensive musical culture comprising both performance and publication, and that the 'folk' weren't isolated from this but were active participants. Perhaps the more remote rural areas were cut off from this, but even these had opportunities to hear new songs at fairs and from travelling players, or they may have got them second-hand from itinerant workers who brought songs with them. In a society where nearly everybody sang, it seems entirely probable to me that they would seize on the latest songs. Most of these would rapidly drop out of fashion, but some would last.

This does not rule out that some songs were composed within the community itself - even though a large proportion of collected songs can be traced back to printed versions, that still leaves the rest, and many printed songs weren't original but had been collected from singers. And whilst printed versions may have first disseminated the songs, from then on they would probably be passed on by oral transmission.

Roud's other point is that origin doesn't matter, it is what the folk then did with it which makes it a folk song. The issue of new songs doesn't undermine this. A brand-new song in the mouth of a folk singer nevertheless isn't a 'folk song' because for it to be adopted and taken up by the community takes time. However at any one time there will always be a number of new-ish songs in the repertoire on their way to being adopted (or being dropped) which fall into a grey area - still new enough to be distinguishable as such, and not yet fully-fledged folk songs. Had the English tradition continued uninterrupted we would probably have found by now that the music hall and minstrel songs of the 19th century had become fully integrated folk songs, just as their 18th century and earlier counterparts had been by the time the first collectors got on their bikes.

As an aside, ?17.99 is a fairly standard price for a hardback book of this size. Not cheap, admittedly, but hardly unaffordable for most people with an interest in the subject. Compared with the price of most academic publications it is an absolute bargain. My paperback copy of Lloyd's 'Folk Song in England' is priced at 12/6, which would be around ?10 today.


07 Jan 18 - 09:32 AM (#3897894)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" hardly a 'single source'."
Up to now it's been 95 to 100% from print
"ploughlads, weavers, farm hands seamen, hard-up poets"
That is what you dismissed as romantic nonsense after the MacColl statement - do I sense a retreat ?
pleasure gardens, theatres, Music Hall, glee clubs,parlour songs, etc.,
These are pop songs and have never been counted as 'folk' until now
"As I said - you and yours would rob folk song of its unique nature by making it a commercial product"
Jim Carroll


07 Jan 18 - 09:46 AM (#3897895)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

Jim one thing that saddens me is that the uk folk revival is becoming more like the pop world as every year passes on. apologies for the thread drift


07 Jan 18 - 10:17 AM (#3897896)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Severn

I have always considered something became a folk song, in some cases you might argue very briefly, If used for a "folk purpose".

When my daughter (now 35 years old) was an infant, some nights she was very resistant towards falling asleep, and it was my turn to render her sleepy while my then-wife and my stepdaughter's were in the living room watching a movie that Knight have had hopes of watching most of, myself, I'd dim down the lights and set up the armless rocking chair near the crib and start singing her whatever lullabyes I knew. Sometimes, I would run out of established lullabyes and sing something nice and slow. Whatever I sang to kill t


07 Jan 18 - 10:29 AM (#3897898)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Severn

Kill time automatically became a folksing at that time along with any verses I wrote to stretch out an existing song.....

When you wish upon the earth
Makes no difference what you're worth

When you wish upon a sky,
It's no use to wonder why

When you wish upon a constellation
May you ha


07 Jan 18 - 10:56 AM (#3897899)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Apart from the rocking chair, similar experiences. We have a family lullaby going back several generations to the middle of the 19th century, or at least that's when the broadside was printed it was based on. However my two took a lot more than a single lullaby to get off. Marching up and down the bedroom with one of them over my shoulder singing a nice rhythmical 'Oh Adam Buckham-O' (by the High Level Ranters) usually did the trick.


07 Jan 18 - 10:58 AM (#3897900)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

do I sense a retreat ? In a word. NO!


07 Jan 18 - 11:01 AM (#3897901)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'you and yours would rob folk song of its unique nature by making it a commercial product" ' (JC)

Absolutely not. As many of the posters have already told you on this thread, what makes a folk song is the folk process, the oral tradition. Nothing whatsoever to do with the origin.


07 Jan 18 - 11:04 AM (#3897902)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Severn

May you have God's cooperation



.....and so on. She wasn't talking yet, so there would be no objections to being referred to in song as a "weary hobo" or the like.It was all in being being rocked gently to sleep in familiar loving arms by someone making well intentioned, famillar reassuring noises.


If the number of times I've heard "I Can't Help Falling In Love with you" sung while babies were being rocked by their mothers, that IT should be considered a folk song, even if learned from its use in an Elvis movie.

Any song I ever sang while working in my vegetable garden years ago while picking. or weeding was for that period of time, a Folk Song.


Sorry, folks. This was written in transit on a very balky device.....


07 Jan 18 - 11:22 AM (#3897907)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim one thing that saddens me is that the uk folk revival is becoming more like the pop world as every year passes on"
Me too Dick -I'm hoping that the research side of it doesn't go the same way
"Why doesn't it make sense? I understand why Jim may find the idea distasteful, "
I do wish people wouldn't keep attributing opinions to me that I don't hold
I have never offered an opinion on payment for singing - it is my opinion that as far as folk song makin is concerned it didn't happen to any significant extent
We recorded a singer who sang on the streets for money and sold songs on ballad sheets - the most valuable source of information we ever interviewed on this subject
We asked him if he ever knew of making songs for sale - he said, "why should they, there were plenty to choose from already"
The making of songs for payment was an urban occupation and I have no doubt whatever that the people who did it took their songs from wherever they could
If they could get songs from visiting farmers of sailors or soldiers, the very nature of their trade would make it necessary to do so - that, I believe is how so many folk songs ended up on broadsides - the suggestion that it was the other way around is totally unproven.
From what we know, at the beginning of the 19th century Margaret Laidlaw regarded the printed word as a threat to the oral tradition - we have that on record.
By the end of the century, the rural communities were changing, cottage industries were being killed off by the factories and people were moving into the towns for work - these changes were turning rural dwellers into passive recipients of their culture rather than active participants - Walter Pardon explained how, in his native North Norfolk, the Harvest Suppers disappeared and the singing was confined to family gatherings.
He also described how he parted company with his contemporaries - he stuck with "the old folk songs" while his cousins went for the 'modern' popular songs.
It is my opinion that mankind is a natural songmaker - children did it for their games, we know thousands of songs were made by people trying to get the vote, both in town and countryside - Chartist newspapers ran weekly song columns - Manchester Central Library is full of them.      
I grew up in a city with a very rich vernacular speech and a noted sense of humour
I worked on the docks, where the turning of verses of pop songs of the day into little squibs was a regular occurrence
My father was a prisoner of war in Spain - he returned home in 1939 with a repertoire of songs in Spanish and English about the Civil War - the first folk songs I ever sang (not in public) were in Spanish
When he went on the road as a navvy, he and his mates made up songs about the job.
None of this was for payment - it was a need to put into verse how you felt bout things
Severn
Making songs for children is a fascinating study in itself - the same goes for storytelling
It's interesting to note how the Opies described children who sang 'dirty' songs as "ogre children" - of course children made songs about "knickers" or "poo" or farting.... and far beyond
Another subject I am inclined to take issue with in Roud is his accusation that Ewan and Bert but bawdy songs that hadn't been there before into the folk repertoire
Go look up 'The Maid of Lowestoft or The Hole in the Wall' which is accompanied by the note "we have only included the tune as the words are not fit for decent ears"   
Gershon Legman must be laughing in his shroud!
Jim Caarroll


07 Jan 18 - 11:54 AM (#3897911)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'there has to be some sort of meeting of minds from all with an interest' (JC) What had you in mind?

The TSF exists for that very thing and there are plenty of interested minds on this very thread who you mostly dismiss as deskbound and largely printbound 'experts'.
Perhaps you could name a few names. Ah, you mention John Moulden who occasionally chips in on Mudcat. No problems there. I have utmost respect for John's work, particularly on the Irish broadsides.


07 Jan 18 - 11:58 AM (#3897912)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'We also need to examine the content of the songs'. Totally agree, but how do we do this without bringing in individual songs. What are you afraid of? Why don't you want to look at individual songs?


07 Jan 18 - 12:07 PM (#3897914)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) and its partners present the world’s largest online collection of English folk manuscripts.

Freely explore 80,000 pages of traditional songs, dances, tunes and customs from the golden age of folk music collecting, within the manuscripts of nineteen of England’s most important late Victorian and Edwardian folk collectors, including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Percy Grainger, Lucy Broadwood and Cecil Sharp.

The Full English digital archive delivers the true ‘voice of the people’ through a variety of material ranging from full songs to fragments of melodies, invaluable for researchers, performers, composers and many more. It is rich in social, family and local history, and provides a snapshot of England’s cultural heritage through voices rarely published and heard before.


07 Jan 18 - 12:09 PM (#3897916)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

If it's not already there the full Carpenter Collection is due to be added to this amazing resource shortly.

What a great waste of money and resources, hey, JC?


07 Jan 18 - 12:10 PM (#3897917)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

In a long disputatious thread that has been almost totally devoid of humour, I'd like to insert this to lighten things up for one post at least.....

This appeared on page 40 of yesterday's "The Guardian":-

Corrections and clarifications


*
A review of Peggy Seeger's memoir quotes her description of her early impressions of Ewan MacColl and how they fell in love, saying he had a "hairy, fat, naked belly poking out, and was clad in ill-fitting trousers, suspenders, no shirt, a ragged jacket and a filthy lid of stovepipe hat aslant like a garbage can". The context we omitted was that MacColl was appearing in a production of The Threepenny Opera (First Time Ever, 30 December, page 5, Review).


07 Jan 18 - 12:23 PM (#3897921)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Sounds like a perfect description of W. G. Ross in his Sam Hall persona!


07 Jan 18 - 12:33 PM (#3897923)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

More on 'The Maid of Australia'.

Quote from a very reliable source (1961)

' Contrary to the opinion of some Australian folklorists, it is doubtful if 'The Maid of Australia' was actually composed in that country. It seems much more likely to be a broadside fantasy about a country which the writer had never visited.'

I'll give the source later.

I must thank JC for reminding me of this scarce song. The study I have now carried out has thrown up some very interesting facts about Harry Cox's version(s). Walter's and Sam Larner's versions are very close to the seminal broadside as you would expect seeing as Walter's grandfather (Walter's ultimate source) got his songs from broadsides.


07 Jan 18 - 12:35 PM (#3897924)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Totally agree, but how do we do this without bringing in individual songs"
I said not here and not with you Steve
My suggestion was for a friendly discussion where people could raise ideas without getting slagged off and insulted
"'there has to be some sort of meeting of minds from all with an interest' (JC) What had you in mind? "
I've long thought that it's time to reconstitute the old Folk Song Federation, incorporating singers, non-academics, and audience - those who survived the revival unscathed without having the joy of folk song destroyed.
If it is to be N.S.F., the impetus has to come from them; maybe an open discussion of Roud's book would be a good starting point.
There are several other major collections that have yet to be worked on, including Pater Hall's recordings and the Grainger tapes.
I would be more than happy to turn over The several thousands tapes-worth (now digitised) Singers Workshop archive, our collection of radio programmes and lectures and our own field recordings to such an enterprise
"What a great waste of money and resources, hey, JC?"
Spiteful as ever, I see - especially as I played a large part in acquiring the collection for the EFDSS
Grow up, for crying out loud
Jim Carroll


07 Jan 18 - 12:38 PM (#3897925)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Sorry
Forgot to say thanks for the attempted break hostilities
Missed that glorious piece
Jim Carroll


07 Jan 18 - 12:45 PM (#3897927)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

02 Jan 18 - 05:09 AM - "I hope we can discuss this without the former rancour and condescension"

07 Jan 18 - 12:35 PM - "Grow up, for crying out loud."


07 Jan 18 - 01:05 PM (#3897934)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

""Grow up, for crying out loud.""
That is a response to at least three threadsworth of condeesention and personal abuse Vic
Nothing like being neutral, is there!!!
Jim Carroll


07 Jan 18 - 01:33 PM (#3897944)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

It's no use, Vic. JC is totally oblivious to his own personal abuse and rancour.

'I doe but shoote your owne arrow back againe' Totally wasted on him.


07 Jan 18 - 02:01 PM (#3897948)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"It's no use, Vic. JC is totally oblivious to his own personal abuse and rancour."
No I'm not Steve, I get it all the time from you
I have insulted no-one here - I have even been fairly subdued about your personal attacks
Jim Carroll


07 Jan 18 - 02:34 PM (#3897956)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones

"Why doesn't it make sense? I understand why Jim may find the idea distasteful, "
I do wish people wouldn't keep attributing opinions to me that I don't hold

I apologise for that, Jim, but that was what your words suggested to me. But you haven't explained why it doesn't make sense - you may disagree with the argument, but there is nevertheless logic to it. There were people writing and publishing songs for money, and it seems entirely possible, to say no more, that ordinary people sang these songs and that a few of them survived to become folk songs.

The real question is what were the proportions? I think the difficulty with all this is that so much is unproveable. There doesn't appear to be sufficient evidence to know with any certainty which songs started out as broadsides and which broadsides were already existing folk songs. It may be possible to take a guess, from the language and style of the broadside version, but even that leaves open the possibility that they had over-embellished an existing song. There is inevitably some conjecture and drawing of conclusions from limited evidence, and it is unsurprising that different people come to different conclusions.

I make no claim to be an expert, I am simply a singer and musician with in interest in the material I perform. All I can say is that Roud's case seems plausible to me. I think we would have to go back several centuries to find a situation where folk culture was not influenced by outside forms. There is a parallel situation with dance tunes, where it is now apparent that a great many traditional folk dance and morris tunes can be traced back to the stage or the military, and often to identifiable composers.

I also share Roud's view that it is not the origin of the songs which matters but what the folk did with them. It has always been my understanding that what distinguishes folk song from other forms is the evolution of a song in the mouths of successive singers.


07 Jan 18 - 05:28 PM (#3897979)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'especially as I played a large part in acquiring the collection for the EFDSS'. (Jim). Now you have my full interest, Jim. Please tell us more. I also worked on the Full English and I don't remember your name being mentioned.


07 Jan 18 - 05:32 PM (#3897980)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

I totally agree with Howard's postings.

Apropos "distasteful": I don't think Jim has suggested that the writing of songs for money is distasteful, but what he does seem to find distasteful is the claim that that's where most of our folk songs came from.

I do wish we could all:
- agree that some songs that started life on broadsides and in other commercial situations such as the stage and the pleasure gardens were taken up by ordinary people and eventually collected,
- agree that some songs were originally made by working people such as farm labourers, sailors, coal miners, weavers, etc
- agree to disagree about the proportions,
- agree that the fact of songs being sung for the sake of it, and eventually being collected, is at least as important as where those songs started.

Jim sees evidence in some songs that they could only have been made by the people whose experiences they recount. I don't see how we can take that any further without looking at particular songs.

As for Maid of Australia, I will be interested to see Steve's "very reliable source (1961)" and what the Australian folklorists have said about it. For the time being I will continue to believe that the song could equally well be an account of a real encounter (perhaps embroidered) or a pure fantasy.

BTW I noted that the version quoted by Steve 03 Jan 18 - 05:06 PM refers to the maid's "lily-white limbs". That goes against a suggestion that I recall reading somewhere that she was black.


07 Jan 18 - 05:46 PM (#3897984)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'very reliable source (1961)'. Peter Kennedy and/or Alan Lomax to Harry Cox's version in the Folk Songs of Britain Caedmon series. I have no idea what Australian folklorists had to say. I can only imagine.

'I do wish......' I don't have a problem with any of that, Richard.

Regarding the 'real encounter' possibility, all I can say is that I have a large collection of songs from all sorts of sources that include sexual euphemisms and I can't think of one that might be based on a real encounter.

BTW, Jim, on the same subject can you please direct me to the page in the book that claims that Bert and Ewan introduced bawdy songs into the folk repertoire? I must have missed that one.


07 Jan 18 - 08:17 PM (#3898001)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

In regard to songs such as the "Coal-Owner," allow me to repeat what I posted last month, which no one has responded to:

Hmmm. I find no Roud number for "The Coal-owner and the Pitman's Wife."

If the song never entered "tradition" before it was unearthed in 1951, was it a folk song? Is it now? Do we know if, in its day, it was ever sung as a song rather than merely recited as a poem? How many singers must there be before a song can be considered "traditional"?

Doesn't tradition imply some degree of popularity?

"Searching for Lambs" and "The Outlandish Knight," however, are well and widely attested as songs, with numerous folk variations.

So, if "tradition" is a criterion, what (other than wishful thinking) places "The Coal-owner" in the same category ("folk song" or "traditional song") as the other two?

Not being contentious. Just thinking aloud....

(To "wishful thinking," I would now add "personal appeal.")


08 Jan 18 - 03:54 AM (#3898019)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"agree that some songs that started life on broadsides "
Is there any disagreement on this - not from me?
Of course they did - but I happen to know from personal experience in Ireland that in the first twentieth century many hundreds of songs were created by 'ordinary' people (do wish we could find a better term than this - everybody is extraordinary in some way or other) on anything that caught their fancy, the songs circulated within a local tradition for a period and disappeared because of their parochial nature - some made their way into the national repertoire, but all were folk songs by definition.
The same was still happening within a living song tradition within the Travelling community
I see no reason why this should not have happened in England and why many songs made this way can't include those that have been documented as 'folk'
These songs need to be considered in any estimation we make of our folk song traditions - the percentages being bandied about here makes it virtually impossible to do so.
Country people have always made folk songs - that has been established without question in Ireland, in Scotland without challenge - it seems that there is a reluctance by a few people to accept that this was the case in England - that is the problem here
We do not know who made our folk songs, but once you accept that country people were capable of making songs and did make them these percentages do not hold water.
As Stephen Fry is fond of saying "nobody knows"
"agree to disagree about the proportions,"
WE can't do that while academics are producing tomes based on these percentages - we've already seen how quickly people are prepared to lap them up, inside and outside the folk world - sadly, including in this debate
I've seen no response to the implications of accepting these figures - that working people left no tangible record of their existence - not if we accept our folk songs as commercial products, as has been claimed.
"I also share Roud's view that it is not the origin of the songs which matters but what the folk did with them."
Surely, if it was historical and social events that produced our songs, then they become part of our social history - the way we once thought.
That's every bit as historically important than the entertainment value of our songs
Lighghter
"which no one has responded to:"
Sorry, thought I had
Bert Lloyd was employed by the National Coal Board to collect songs and lore and stories from the Miners - I think I have an article on it somewhere.
I always understood that 'Coal Owner' was one of these songs
Lloyd appears not to have kept a personal record of what he collected. and passed it on to his 'employers'
So little has been collected from the mining communities (MacColl did a little for 'The Big Hewer) that we don't know what constitutes an oral tradition among them, or whether one existed at all in the way we know rural ones did.
Presumably Roud didn't give the song a number because there is no proven record that it existed prior to Bert singing it (a little odd that he should give pop songs numbers, but there you go)
There are several songs from our from our collection that exist only in single versions that (I think) have Roud numbers
MacColl and Joan Littlewood collected songs in the North of England for a radio programme which was broadcast once and then (presumably) destroyed - Ewan kept a file of those songs, but not the recordings.
I've never checked to see whether Beckett Whitehead's obscene version of 'Seven Nights Drunk' or 'Drinking' or 'The Mowing Match' have Roud numbers - the same with 'Fourpence a Day' which was taken from lead miner Mark Anderson, the only surviving recorded version was that of MacColl singing it.
Jim Carroll


08 Jan 18 - 04:22 AM (#3898021)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Steve
"Please tell us more."
Am taking this separately so it doesn't get mixed up with the real subject
Bob Thomson, through his friendship with Ken Goldstein, learned of the existence of The Carpenter Collection and how it was discovered locked away in Carpenter's garage.
Bob and I were friends and on a visit to his home he told me about it and suggested that a copy should be obtained by the V.W.M.L - Bob also introduced us to Goldstein while he was visiting London, who told us more.
I passed on the information to the then Librarian (I think it was Barbara Newlyn, but it might have been Theresa Thom) and she acquired a copy of the recordings and a microfiche set of the transcriptions
The rest is history
I have printed copies of many of the texts and of the recordings somewhere here.
As far as Bright Golden Store is Concerned, way back, while we were collecting from Travellers and in Clare and had not long started recording Walter, we approached the wonderful Lucy Duran at what I think was still the The British Institute of Recorded Sound and asked her was she interested in acquiring copies of our recordings - she jumped at the chance and took our collection as it was back then.
She decided, on the basis of our collection, that her department at BIRS should move from being a musicological department concerned mainly with African and Asian music, and expand to include British music
Since Lucy (sigh!!) took our collection it has remained largely unused due, presumably to financial restrictions
Because of this, we have basically lost interest in donating the rest o our collection to them and have now found a (very willing) home for it in the World Music Department of Limerick University, who are thinking about setting up a web-site to release our, and hopefully other similar collections.
They already have an active interest in Traveller music and have done a considerable amount of work in helping to re-introduce instrumental traditional music back into their community
Just shows you what you can do when you have no problem identifying what folk music is and realise its importance!
By the way, I have always assumed that people are aware that a full set of the Grainger recordings, including some of his Scandinavian material, are included in the NSA collection and have been since N.I.R.S. days
Jim Carroll


08 Jan 18 - 04:26 AM (#3898022)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Sorry - have just remembered that N.I R.S. should be B.I.R.S. (the British Institute of Recorded Sound)
Jim Carroll


08 Jan 18 - 04:57 AM (#3898030)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Whoops - half asleep still
Forget that last post
Jim Carroll


08 Jan 18 - 10:02 AM (#3898070)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'historical and social events that produced our songs' Not imagination and creativity then?


08 Jan 18 - 10:27 AM (#3898073)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"'historical and social events that produced our songs' Not imagination and creativity then?"
You know I mean both Steve - we've discussed this often enough before
Given your percentages, your own claims dismissed them both and attribute any imagination and creativity to crap writes composing for money
Jim Carroll


08 Jan 18 - 10:37 AM (#3898075)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Without disputing your account in any way, Jim, as I understand the EFDSS had nothing to do initially with the Carpenter Collection coming onto their website. The project was a joint one between Aberdeen University and the LoC and I think funded by the LoC. If I remember aright the decision to place it on the EFDSS website was a relatively recent one. It probably had more to do with the fact that David Atkinson was seconded to Aberdeen Uni to work on the Collection and he is also the editor of EFDSS's Folk Music Journal.


08 Jan 18 - 10:45 AM (#3898079)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'crap writes'.

Everyone here, including myself, has gone out of their way to agree that much that was produced on the vast mountains of broadsides to the modern-day mind could be described as 'crap'. However several contributors have quite rightly stated that in ANY genre of literature or music there will be 'crap' and some of it will be good, simply by the law of averages. Even the great Professor Child included a substantial amount of 'moderate jewels' in the ESPB.

Now, if the rest of us are right, and the vast majority of folk songs first hit the streets in this way, you are then condemning the vast majority of folk songs as 'crap'. That will be your legacy, not ours!


08 Jan 18 - 10:49 AM (#3898080)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Translated into what we have been discussing here, The Banks of the Sweet Primroses, one of your favourite folksongs, more than likely originated in some pastoral theatre production and first hit the streets as a broadside. Phil tanner's wonderfully performed 4 verses are almost verbatim the version printed uniformly by hundreds of printers around the country.


08 Jan 18 - 10:52 AM (#3898083)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

BTW, 'Banks of the Sweet Primroses'. I love this wonderful folk song and couldn't give a toss where or when it was created.


08 Jan 18 - 11:11 AM (#3898087)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

I am bemused by Jim's account:
"Bob Thomson, through his friendship with Ken Goldstein, learned of the existence of The Carpenter Collection and how it was discovered locked away in Carpenter's garage.
Bob and I were friends and on a visit to his home he told me about it and suggested that a copy should be obtained by the V.W.M.L - Bob also introduced us to Goldstein while he was visiting London, who told us more.
I passed on the information to the then Librarian (I think it was Barbara Newlyn, but it might have been Theresa Thom) and she acquired a copy of the recordings and a microfiche set of the transcriptions
The rest is history"

As Steve says, the exercise to add the Carpenter stuff to the other material on the VWML site is recent. My understanding was that the whole lot passed at some time (years ago) to the Library of Congress, where it could be accessed by visitors but not otherwise. If "a copy of the recordings and a microfiche set of the transcriptions" were available in the VWML (or anywhere else besides the Library of Congress) that is news to a lot of people.


08 Jan 18 - 11:26 AM (#3898091)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

The VWML has had a set of the recordings and microfiche documents since the early seventies
Perhaps its another case of one lot of folk people not knowing what the others were doing.
The copy I am talking about was obtained then - as was the bits of it we have here
"more than likely originated in some pastoral theatre production and first hit the streets as a broadside"
You can prove this, of course - oh - I forgot - you can't prove any of your claims, can you?
"Now, if the rest of us are right"
I assume you are talking about you and Steve Roud - there has been no indication that anybody else here actually accepts your claims and researchers have been saying the opposite for over a century
Or we now arriving at the 'imaginary friends' stage of the discussion.
Jim Carroll


08 Jan 18 - 11:31 AM (#3898092)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

02 Jan 18 - 05:09 AM - "I hope we can discuss this without the former rancour and condescension"

07 Jan 18 - 12:35 PM - "Grow up, for crying out loud."

08 Jan 18 - 11:26 AM - "Or we now arriving at the 'imaginary friends' stage of the discussion."


08 Jan 18 - 11:37 AM (#3898093)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Please stop this Vic - there is a history of nastiness from Steve dating back at least to 2012 when the topic firse hit the fan
You want to mention rancour and condescension - mention all of it
As I said nothing like being neutral - or is it ok with you that people are called agenda driven and attention seeking?
Sheesh
Jim Carroll


08 Jan 18 - 12:12 PM (#3898098)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Sticking strictly to this thread -

Appearances of 'agenda driven'

18 Dec 17 - 11:47 AM - "You have described Child as elitist and Sharp as an agenda driven charlatan"
18 Dec 17 - 02:59 PM - "This, as far as I am concerned makes Sharp agenda driven charlatan."
05 Jan 18 - 01:00 PM - " his description rages from denim clad, guitar strumming activists to agenda driven Marxists "
06 Jan 18 - 09:47 AM - "Child becomes an "elitist" incapable of sorting Art poetry from traditional ballads, Sharp is agenda driven."
06 Jan 18 - 03:28 PM - "Wonder what they missed - or maybe they were all agenda driven elitists like Child and Sharp!!"
08 Jan 18 - 11:37 AM - "As I said nothing like being neutral - or is it ok with you that people are called agenda driven and attention seeking?"

All these were posted by the same person.

Appearances of 'attention seeking'

06 Jan 18 - 09:47 AM - "Here I have become an attention seeking politico liar"
08 Jan 18 - 11:37 AM = "As I said nothing like being neutral - or is it ok with you that people are called agenda driven and attention seeking?"

Both of these were posted by the same person as the ones above.


08 Jan 18 - 12:13 PM (#3898099)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

Evidently "The Coal-Owner" appeared - as a poem only - in an old paper and Lloyd added a tune of his own.

Folksong? Or what?

Unless content is to be thought of as a defining element, my judgment is that the song is no more than forgotten ephemeral verses, in a popular style, set to music by a researcher generations later.

Its inherent relationship to "traditional song" would thus seem to be stylistic only.


08 Jan 18 - 12:41 PM (#3898111)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"All these were posted by the same person."
And they were all lifted directly from what Steve as written - would you like to select any I have made up - including the remark I made about you Vic?
How on earh do you suggest I respond and how do I respond to your taking sides and ignoring all the former and ongoing abuse - or are you claiming I have made it up
Sorry Vic - I don't feel the need to respond to any of this from you
Pehraps you might like to comment on someone who takes it upon himself to speak for others on this forum in order to make tis discussion a "we win, you lose" argument
"Now, if the rest of us are right"
No?
Thought not
This is far from the first time Steve has adopted this tactic raher than respond to the points being put forward
Last time it it was a constant repetition of how many people agreed with him
This is not what constructive and healthy debate should be about
It is the type of thing resorted to by some 'usual suspects' on the BS threads in order to win glittering prizes
If you have nothing to say on the actual debate, I suggest you leave it to those who have
Jim Carroll


08 Jan 18 - 12:47 PM (#3898113)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Hi Jon,
Sorry not to have responded to your seemingly correct assumptions, but you can see we are otherwise bogged down with stuff at the moment.

I have an author's name, William Hornsby, and a dozen entries in my large index so the song was much anthologised latterly. But note it does not feature in my traditional folk song index for the same reasons you are suggesting.

I'll check out all the entries and get back to you. One thing that jumps out is that it features in 'The Common Muse' which is mostly broadside stuff.


08 Jan 18 - 12:49 PM (#3898114)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

To throw Jim's arrow back using his Dad's Army quote, 'They don't like it up 'em!'


08 Jan 18 - 12:57 PM (#3898118)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"To throw Jim's arrow back using his Dad's Army quote, 'They don't like it up 'em!'"
For Christ's sake Steve - do you realy want to reduce this discussion to this win-lose level?
If your (lack of) arguments hadn't already convinced me of my case, your behaviour has
I don't suppose Vic has anything to say about this one either!!
Jim Carroll


08 Jan 18 - 01:02 PM (#3898119)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

A reminder of what my Dad's Army was a response to
""because of its political spin, (much like yours) "
Let's stop this now eh?
Jim Carroll


08 Jan 18 - 01:15 PM (#3898122)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: TheSnail

Having, in the past, been insulted by Jim Carroll and patronised by Steve Gardham, it's hard to take sides. They seem equally agenda driven and attention seeking. From my experience, Steve Roud is a much more agreeable person.


08 Jan 18 - 01:35 PM (#3898131)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Are you people now hell bent on closing this thread by turning it into a kicking match?
Jim Carroll


08 Jan 18 - 01:39 PM (#3898133)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Some relevant stuff here.

We've been going round in circles for much of the time lately, to the extent of risking emulating the oozalum bird.

Anyone got something new and constructive to offer?


08 Jan 18 - 01:44 PM (#3898136)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

You are right of course Richard
I would help if somebody actually addressed some of the points - there are enough of them being ignored to keep this going till next New Year
Jim Carroll


08 Jan 18 - 01:59 PM (#3898140)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Second go.
Of course Richard is right. I hereby promise to stop throwing back Jim's arrows.

IMO the only way I can see forward is to take examples of folk songs, as suggested several times, and look at what we know about their evolution. I will start with the interesting further info I have on 'Maids of Australia' and then move on to Uncle Walter's folksong repertoire which his grandfather got from broadsides.

Snail, I humbly and sincerely apologise for being patronising to you.
And yes, Steve is a much more agreeable person. I shall try to emulate him in the future.


08 Jan 18 - 02:28 PM (#3898147)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Maids of Australia.
Keeping in mind this is a very scarce song: The few broadsides I've already mentioned and the only oral versions from England I have access to are the 3 from Norfolk all from within 15 miles of each other, Winterton, Knapton and Catfield, not a great distance from Yarmouth and Norwich. Plenty of broadside printers plied their trade in Norwich, Walker and Lane as one example. Unfortunately I haven't yet been through the collection in Norwich City library.

As I already stated Sam's and Walter's versions pretty much follow the broadside. However Harry Cox's several recordings throw up some interesting thoughts.

The version in Topic's Folk Songs of Britain's series of albums, Volume 2 'Songs of Seduction', Harry sings 4 verses recorded by Peter Kennedy, all 4 verses found on the broadside. I'm going to call these verses 1, 3, 4 and 5 as will become clear later in the final version which I will post.

In the Journal of the EFDSS, Diamond Jubilee edition 1958 Peter Kennedy published a version recorded by him from Harry which came out on a BBC RPL 22915 (LP). This now has an extra verse on the end which is not on any of the broadsides. The verse is almost verbatim one from another broadside 'Oh no My love not I'. More on this anon.

Then in 1965 Leslie Shepard recorded Harry again singing this song with yet another extra verse (no 2) inserted which is a paraphrase of the second verse on the broadside and that sung by Walter and Sam.


08 Jan 18 - 02:28 PM (#3898148)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Ed

I, [sic] would help if somebody actually addressed some of the points - there are enough of them being ignored

Perhaps you could start, Jim?

A few bullet points, set out in short paragraphs, whilst avoiding typos, would I'm sure be very well received by everyone here...
    Be a little kinder, Ed. I had to delete a couple of your anonymous messages. -Joe Offer-


08 Jan 18 - 02:51 PM (#3898153)
Subject: ADD Version: Maids of Australia
From: Steve Gardham

Here's harry's version as recorded by Leslie Shepard.

MAIDS OF AUSTRALIA

As I walked out by the Oxborough banks
Where the maids of Australia do play their wild pranks
Underneath a green shady bower I sat myself down
Where the birds sang so gaily enchanted all round
In the native, the plains of Australia
In the forest, the native Australia
Where the maidens are handsome and gay.

[I sat on the bank there for hours two or three,
A fair damsel came out from behind a green tree
To cover her body it was her intent
She slipped past the bushes made straight for the bank
In the native, the plains of Australia
In the native, the plains of Australia
Where etc.]

Now she dived in the water without fear or dread
Her beautiful limbs she exceedingly spread
Her hair hung in wrinkles, her colour was black
Sir, she said, you will see how I float on my back
In the stream of the native Australia
On the stream in my native etc.

Now being exhausted she swam to the brink
Assistance, kind sir, or I surely will sink
As quick as the lightning I took hold of her hand
My foot slipped and we fell on the sand
In the native, the plains of Australia etc.

We frolicked together in the highest of glee
In the finest Australia you ever did see
The sun it went down and the clouds did resign
And I left this fair maid of Australia
I left this fair maid of Australia
Then I left the fair maid of Australia
Just when the sun went down.

[Now six months being over and nine coming on
This pretty fair damsel brought forth a fine son
Oh where was his father? He could not be found
And she cursed the hour that she lay on the ground
In the native the plains of Australia
In her native the palins of Australia
Where....]

This last verse in a similar form is found in American versions but not on any other British versions.

I'll leave it there for now for comments, preferably to how this might have come about.


08 Jan 18 - 02:52 PM (#3898154)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" I hereby promise to stop throwing back Jim's arrows."
Tsk, tstk, tsk!!!
As I said, your behaviour is pretty conclusive proof that you haVE no case
"As I already stated Sam's and Walter's versions pretty much follow the broadside"
Which doesn't say that the broadside wasn't taken from an earlier version and most certainly sounds as is it might have been
As I said - go listen to them singing it.
"Uncle Walter's folk song repertoire which his grandfather got from broadsides"
Walter's uncle's grandfather got some of his songs from broadsides - Walter carefully pointed out which and said quite cearly why he (Walter) didn't consider them "the real old folk songs"
What's all this trying to prove Steve?
Nobody is disputing the fact that as many as you claim appeared,/FONT>
Unless you can show otherwise, you cannot prove a single one of them originated there
"Perhaps you could start, Jim?"
Where to begin
Try does anybody here actually believe that working people were unable or unwilling to make the songs we know as folk songs"
If the answer is yes - why?
If the answer is no, is there any reason to believe that they didn't, as everybody has issued up to now, including those who were alive when the tradition was in full swing as was the broadside trade?
Plenty more - but that will do to begin with (though it will have to wait till tomorrow - a new series of 'Silent Witness' and I've spent far too long debating the more unpleasant side of this already - a stomach can only take so much in one day!
Jim Carroll


08 Jan 18 - 03:06 PM (#3898158)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Another point that might be relevant is Harry did have a collection of broadsides. I'm pretty certain he stated he hadn't learnt his songs from the broadsides, but I have also heard he did use them to add to his own versions and to brush up on what he was singing.

The addition of the last verse is curious. I'll try to find a version of 'O no, my love, not I' that has it just for comparison.

Harry was very keen to add other songs to his large repertoire. He knew he couldn't sing the songs of his fellow singers in the local pubs (ownership rules) so he went further afield around more outlying villages looking for new songs to learn. I wonder if he came across Sam or Walter and adapted their second verse. Of course by 1965 all 3 of them were quite famous, especially in the folk world so it would seem logical that they could have met up.


08 Jan 18 - 03:16 PM (#3898159)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Here are some relevant lines from the very common broadside 'No my Love, not I' which was also later rewritten as 'The Newfoundland Sailor'

v4 When eight months were over and nine months were past
This pretty fair maid brought forth a son at last.

v5 And curse the very hour you said 'O no, my love, not I.

I'm sure an oral version I collected in Yorkshire was even closer to Harry's last verse.

As I've stated before this transferring of verses from one ballad to another was common with broadside writers and in oral tradition, particularly with travellers.


08 Jan 18 - 03:26 PM (#3898161)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

'A few bullet points, set out in short paragraphs, whilst avoiding typos, would I'm sure be very well received by everyone here...' (Ed)


08 Jan 18 - 03:41 PM (#3898165)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Anyone with Maud Karpeles An Introduction to English Folk Song (OUP 1987) on their bookshelves might like to re-read the beginning of her chapter on Broadsides (pp 68 -71) especially of the interaction between the oral traditions and broadside texts. To my mind she seems to expressing ideas that been developed and researched more and presented in greater deatail in the present book.


08 Jan 18 - 03:58 PM (#3898170)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Jon,
All of the many versions I have of 'Coal Owner' derive from Lloyd.
Several of them give a bit more information.

It is said to have been written by William Hornsby, a collier of Shotton Moor, County Durham, during the great Durham Miners' Strike in 1844. Rediscovered by another miner J. S. Bell of Whiston, Lancashire in 1951 who presumably was Lloyd's source. Whether the original had attached the 'Derry Down' refrain or whether Lloyd added it I cannot say. What I do know is that in the early 19th century thousands of songs on broadsides and many by known authors were set to Derry Down, and quite rightly in my opinion. It's a great tune, and at least as old as the earliest print.


08 Jan 18 - 05:41 PM (#3898195)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Wherever Maid of Australia started, it evidently got "folk processed" into several versions on its way from one person to another, orally and/or through print. Such variation is an important part of our interest in folk songs (and indeed part of the classic definition).

But Jim is especially concerned with origins. This song could have been made by one of the returned convicts that he mentioned earlier. I wish we could see the evidence that Bob Thomson found. Or it could have been made by someone who made his living, or part of it, by writing songs and selling them to broadside printers. And those possibilities are not mutually exclusive: it's perhaps unlikely but not inconceivable that the writer was both a returned convict and a professional song writer. And all of that applies whether the story is true, a total fantasy, or a mixture.

What actual evidence do we have (as distinct from personal beliefs) as to who made this song, either within the song itself or elsewhere?


08 Jan 18 - 06:09 PM (#3898203)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

None whatsoever, Richard. It's only when we put together hundreds of studies like this that patterns begin to emerge. We can also compare style and various other components of a song with other songs that we know were written by known authors. It's mainly about possibilities and probabilities. These people in the towns who were passing them on to the printers quite likely came from a great variety of backgrounds. All of this of course is taken alongside detailed studies of how the oral tradition works, not just the print tradition.

Do remember that my 95% is only my opinion, but it is based upon many many studies of every oral version and every printed version of hundreds of songs. For every song in Marrow Bones, Wanton Seed and Southern Harvest and others this is what I have done. Others like Jim are well entitled to their opinion, but I doubt they have done this depth of study.

Things haven't changed that much over the centuries. Songs have always LARGELY been written by song writers, people with some skill and imagination (okay of varying degrees) rather than people who have experienced the events within the songs. And I'm talking about across all genres here, in the western world at least.


08 Jan 18 - 06:14 PM (#3898204)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

I'm quite happy to put up the earliest broadside versions alongside the later oral versions and let people decide for themselves.


08 Jan 18 - 06:29 PM (#3898208)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

Steve, please do.


09 Jan 18 - 03:35 AM (#3898245)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Okay the first thing to note is that this song is not typical of the sources for most of our folk songs, but 'Banks of the Sweet Primroses' is, in that we only have a small number of printings extant whereas 'Banks' was printed just about everywhere.

We have the standard version printed by Pearson in Manchester and by Such in London and one other without imprint and I'd say none of them are any earlier than 1860. IMO the Scottish versions, much shorter are probably derived from these. The Scottish version printed by the GPB is unfortunately undated but could easily be c1870 and I don't have a copy of the Sanderson (Edin) printing, only a catalogue listing. (The Sanderson family were printing for more than a century and well into the 20th.) I've already posted the GPB version so I'll post the Such/Pearson copy later today.

I don't like putting too much into one posting as it has the potential to disappear.


09 Jan 18 - 03:41 AM (#3898247)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: The Sandman

Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: TheSnail - PM
Date: 08 Jan 18 - 01:15 PM

Having, in the past, been insulted by Jim Carroll and patronised by Steve Gardham, it's hard to take sides. They seem equally agenda driven and attention seeking. From my experience, Steve Roud is a much more agreeable person
.I felt the same about Steve, patronising in the extreme assuming i have not read certain books


09 Jan 18 - 04:46 AM (#3898259)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

A couple of days ago I said
> BTW I noted that the version quoted by Steve 03 Jan 18 - 05:06 PM refers to the maid's "lily-white limbs". That goes against a suggestion that I recall reading somewhere that she was black.

Although the version quoted by Steve refers to black ringlets, at least one other version says only that the maid's hair was curly. A maid who was a "native" of Australia in the mid 1800s could have been a daughter of European (e.g. Irish) parents and had both curly black hair and lily white limbs, but it doesn't seem very likely. It seems much more likely that the story (whether true, a pure fantasy or a mixture) concerns an Aboriginal girl and that the "lily white" was a bit of boiler-plate text from a broadside writer -- which in turn indicates that the whole song was probably made by someone whose business was writing songs, wherever the story came from.


09 Jan 18 - 04:58 AM (#3898261)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"But Jim is especially concerned with origins. "
No I am not - stop misrepresenting me Richard
I am not "concerned" with origins - I go along with all the researchers up to now who had litle doubt that the bulk of the folk songs originated with the people who sang them - they never questioned that idea, neither do I
Some of these people, Child, Sharp, Motherwell, Burns (who was a very underrated collector) went out to the people to get the songs from the 'horses mouth' - none of them ever suggested that they had ever originated from printed texts, though some acknowledged that they ended up in print.
I've asked that people say whether or not they believe country people were capable of having made the folk songs - so far no takers
Until there are I will assume that people here believe they were
The problem with this discussion so far is that it has centered around songs as printed texts just that.
I see no attempt by either of the Steves to examine why the songs were sung or why they might have been made - they have treated them as printed products made for sale.
We have discussed 'Maid of Australia' as a printed text - what is is in reality?
It is a sexual boast of the type that could and still can be heard in virtually every working class pub throughout Britain - a man boasting about he once got is leg over - as simple as that.
There is no reason whatever to believe that a 'simple' countryman couldn't have made that song   
Banks of Sweet Primroses the same - a young man going out, buzzing with testosterone, tries to hook up with a previous girlfriend and gets the brush off because he has given her the elbow in the past - how humanly commonplace is that?
Steve describes the sunshiny day' as a broadside commonplace.
It is a common vernacular way of dealing with rejection - "plenty more fish in the sea" - plenty more where she came from"...
Again, how humanly commonplace than that?
From Mary Delaney's 'I've buried Three Husband Already, which, as 'Primroses', is about sexual relationships

"Wherever there's a goose, here's a gander
Wherever there's a will there's a way
But the sun will be shining tomorrow
And we'll call it another fine day"

This is not a printing commonplace, it's a common human attitude to life
Once you divorce these songs from the what the singers felt about them and treat them as cold print, you could prove they were all written by anyone you care to name if you had a mind to
Both the Steves have done that - they have treated them as cold, printed texts
Steve Roud chose not to include texts - I have little doubt that Steve Gardham will continue to attempt to prove his theory that they all originated as literary pieces by putting them up as texts without attempting to discuss how they might have been made by the people who sang them.
Over the time I was singing I accumulated a repertoire of over three hundred songs
I stopped singing them a couple of decades ago in order to come to terms with the information we had recorded from traditional singers
Over the last year or so I have started to sing again and I find that, after a couple of scans through old texts, the songs spring to life again - not as memorised printed words but as what they actually are - stories that happen to have tunes attached to them
Each song I have revised in this way is now firmly set in my memory because of my emotional attachment to them - not because they were good poetry or even good stories, but because I can relate them to myself as a human being
We noticed with Walter Pardon, Mary Delaney and others, how emotionally involved they got with their songs
Mary regularly broke down when she sang her "heavy" songs - not because she couldn't handle them technically but because she became overcome with their emotional content
This was especially apparent with her 'Buried in Kilkenny' (Lord Randal) but it also happened with her humorous songs - it took us numerous goes before we got full versions of 'Kilkenny Louse House' and 'Well Done Donnelly' (The Tinker) that weren't interrupted by her bursting out laughing.
Her songs had become a part of her life - I don't believe desk-bound broadside hacks were capable of creating such high art - their working conditions would never allowed them to have done so anyway.
You can only begin to understand these songs when you take them from being cold text and add the human element to them
The Steves have done exactly the opposite - they have ignored the reason for their existence and continuance and have centered their attention to the printed word
There was no effort made in Roud's 'Folksong in England' to include what little we have of singers talking about what the songs meant to them socially or even personally - there is enough from Sam Larner, Harry Cox and Walter Pardon alone to fill a whole chapter - all freely available for the asking.
Treat these songs simply as texts, divorcing them from the singers intentions, and you debase them.
For me, it is what makes Bert Lloyd's 'Folk Song in England' a vastly superior book, for all its faults.
Roud has dealt largely with the nuts and bolts of the tradition while Lloyd treated it as an expression of humanity rather than a literary phenomenon.
Roud had bundled the unique folk songs in with commercially produced pop songs, stage songs, middle-class Tavern Songs, classically based glees..... and in doing so, for me, he has failed to capture their uniqueness.
Lloyd, on the other hand, made a point of just that with his magnificent statement in the last chapter - one more time   
"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'.
In my opinion, anybody who fails to spot or ignores that uniqueness has no claim to knowing what folk song is about
Jim Carroll


09 Jan 18 - 05:42 AM (#3898275)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

> "But Jim is especially concerned with origins. "
> No I am not - stop misrepresenting me Richard

Now I'm confused. A great deal that you have said on this thread has been about songs being made by ordinary people (or whatever better term we can find for them) rather than by professional song writers. Is that not because you believe that it matters who made them?

> I've asked that people say whether or not they believe country people were capable of having made the folk songs - so far no takers

Surely we all agree that country people could and did make songs. The disagreement is only about the relative proportions, in the classic collected corpus, of songs made by country people and songs made by professional urban song writers.

I'm dubious as to what fraction of people sang in the past, but even if it was most people, I don't believe that most people wrote songs. Most of us today lack the skill to put words together in that particular way, while a few are good at it and a few do it even though they aren't very good at it. I see no reason to believe that that was much different in any past age.

> I see no attempt by either of the Steves to examine why the songs were sung or why they might have been made - they have treated them as printed products made for sale.

On the contrary, Steve R's book is very much about people singing. While he avoids a rigid definition of "folk song", his concept of it is all about who sang songs, where, when and why.

> We have discussed 'Maid of Australia' as a printed text - what is is in reality?
It is a sexual boast of the type that could and still can be heard in virtually every working class pub throughout Britain - a man boasting about he once got is leg over - as simple as that.
There is no reason whatever to believe that a 'simple' countryman couldn't have made that song

Indeed, but see my post of a bit earlier today.

> Banks of Sweet Primroses the same - a young man going out, buzzing with testosterone, tries to hook up with a previous girlfriend and gets the brush off because he has given her the elbow in the past - how humanly commonplace is that?

Very commonplace, which means that pretty well anyone (or at least any man) who had the skill to make songs at all could have written it. And, just like Maid of Australia, it could be a true account from personal experience, a broadly true account based on another man's personal experience, pure fantasy or a mixture.


09 Jan 18 - 06:55 AM (#3898291)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

Jim wrote:
From Mary Delaney's 'I've buried Three Husband Already, which, as 'Primroses', is about sexual relationships

"Wherever there's a goose, here's a gander
Wherever there's a will there's a way
But the sun will be shining tomorrow
And we'll call it another fine day"

This sounds very similar to the chorus of the song Where There's a Will There's A Way:
Then what is the use of repining,
   For where there's a will there's a way......
   And tomorrow the sun may be shining,
   Although it is cloudy to-day..........

The song was sung by traditional singers Gordon Hall, Frank Hinchliffe and Arthur Howard, and perhaps many others, although the earlier collectors might not have been interested in this song. It was printed on many broadsides etc ... oh, and it was written by Harry Clifton. (And it has a Roud number).

Derek (back to lurking now, but thinking that the thread is becoming repetitive, and that people have entrenched views that are not going to change)


09 Jan 18 - 07:02 AM (#3898294)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"A great deal that you have said on this thread has been about songs being made by ordinary people "
Which is only to repeat a common belief held by all researchers
It doesn't "concern me" in any way - I belive it too be true but neither Steve nor I can prove the origin of a single song, so basically it is a waste of time to t attempt to
That's not why I am arguing here - I am asking that the songs be placed in their social context in order to understand them, maybe that way we arrive at an intelligent 'probable' answer but I believe attempting to deal in percentages verges on the megalomanic
"Surely we all agree that country people could and did make songs."
Not really - not when we need to discuss in the percentages that have been puut forward
Steve has reduced home made writing to be by farmers writing of their own personal experiences - that is not what our folk songs are about
They are general observations on what was taking place at the time - enforced recruitment, poverty brought about by land seizures, social misaliance arisin from families wishing to use daughters as a step on the social ladder.... but no one here is (I hope) claiming that these things happened to the song makers themselves - they were all common occurrences down the centuries, which, I believe, gave rise to the folk songs
Academia has an obsession with finding origins - a Holy Grail task if ever there was one
You have the "Lord Craigston, John Urquhart" academic conceit of trying to apply something that was happening throughout the world and for many centuries to an actual marriage via 'The Trees they Grow So High'
The same with the Villiers speculation around Barbara Allen, when writers poets and probably singers had been writing and singing about rejected lovers since time immemorial
American academic, Phillips Barry, took one of our most beautiful domestic tragedy ballads and attempted to turn it into a piece of mystical nonsense about Islands that could rise out of a lake and sink back again, magic seemeed, lake spirits.... crazy stuff!
"I don't believe that most people wrote songs"
Of couse they didn't - I'm certainly not suggesting they did
On the other hand, there's not mucgh doubyt that most MOST SINGERS WITH ANY DEGREE OF SKILL WERE CAPABLE OF MAKING THE SONGS - UNDERSTANDING, INTERPRETING AND PERFORMING SONGS WAS VERY MUCH A PART OF THEIR JOB DESCRIPTION
We would be kidding ourselves if we tried to claim that most people sang - at any time
You may accept that Primroses and Australia could have been made by the folk byut Steve still argues that they didn't - without being able to prove otherwise.
My argument isn't with you Richard, it's with what the two Steves are claiming
If we want to deal with probabilities, it's more probable that songs about country life or soldiering, or sea-going.... were more likely to have been made by the people who came from backgrounds dealt with in the songs that they were by bad Urban, desk bound poets who, according to Steve Gardham, tended to live near to where they worked and were subject to high pressure in order to make a living
It really isn't rocket science to work out what these songs menat to the people who sang them and once you put that alongside your admitted acceptance that the singers were capable of making songs, then there's at least a fair to middling chance that they did make them.
I refuse to deal in percentages or origins in anything like definitive terms but I have no intention of sitting by while working people are written out of the equation as composers, as I believe they are being by this little band of academics
Jim Carroll


09 Jan 18 - 07:10 AM (#3898297)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

09 Jan 18 - 04:18 AM you're a doddery old fool, and very few here respect your views.

This is a very unhelpful comment and lowers yourself to the main perpetrator of insults on this thread. At least that person has the courage to post under his own name. For all you and I know, there may be a variety of reasons why the person you are insulting has a problem in expressing himself in "correct grammar and short paragraphs" but that does not exclude his right to express opinions.

(This angry response expressed by a man who spent 35 years in special education.)


09 Jan 18 - 07:12 AM (#3898300)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"oh, and it was written by Harry Clifton."
Mary's song "I've Buried Two Husbands" was not written by anybody known
THe 'Goose' verse may well have been written by Harry Clifton - on the other hand, it may well have been borrowed from the tradition by him
I put it up not as a proof of origin but to point out that Steve's 'Cloudy day' "broadside commonplace" was common to vernacuar speech throughout these islands
Jim Carroll


09 Jan 18 - 07:31 AM (#3898306)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST

This is a very unhelpful comment and lowers yourself to the main perpetrator of insults on this thread

You are entirely right, Vic. I apologise to all, especially, of course, to Dick/The Sandman. My frustration at some of the entrenched views expressed and being 'tired and emotional' are no excuse.


09 Jan 18 - 07:52 AM (#3898310)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: TheSnail

"Bryan and I have our marital problems"
?!


09 Jan 18 - 08:16 AM (#3898315)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

A joke Brian
"My frustration at some of the entrenched views expressed"
Mine too
Jim Carroll


09 Jan 18 - 08:41 AM (#3898320)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

Since the writers of broadsides seem by and large not to have been aristocrats or university graduates, I don't see any reason to consider them other than "ordinary people," except in the ad-hoc sense that they wrote for the broadside press.


09 Jan 18 - 08:48 AM (#3898324)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

09 Jan 18 - 07:52 AM
"Bryan and I have our marital problems"
?!


I thought that Bryan must have been hiding something from me in the 40-odd years that I have known him well,


09 Jan 18 - 08:58 AM (#3898329)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

" I don't see any reason to consider them other than "ordinary people,"
Urban people, not particularly skilled as poets and living outside of the subjects of our folk songs - all of which makes them highly unlikely as possible authors
Who better to suspect of making sea songs than someone who has actually worked at se
The same goes for agricultural work, soldiering, mining, weaving, whatever
Would you be happy to ask a plumber to rewire your house?
Jim Carroll


09 Jan 18 - 09:12 AM (#3898334)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: TheSnail

It was bound to come out in the end. Jim and I will be seeking counselling.


09 Jan 18 - 09:19 AM (#3898335)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Urban people, not particularly skilled as poets

I can't make a mark as a poet.
I make a good start then I blow it.
But then I live in towns
(Quite close to South Downs)
And by the time I get to the fifth line of a Limerick I just seem to lose all sense of rhythm and rhyme


09 Jan 18 - 09:30 AM (#3898338)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Great Vic
Pity there aren't any broadside companies looking for haks!
"Jim and I will be seeking counselling."
No need - it's legal now Bryan!
Jim Carroll


09 Jan 18 - 09:31 AM (#3898339)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: TheSnail

Meanwhile, back at my original interjection. I do feel that both Jim Carroll and Steve Gardham have taken up entrenched positions. Neither is really listening to what the other says, both argue against things the other haven't said and both claim that academic experts agree with what they say on the grounds that anyone who disagrees is clearly wrong. Jim genuinely doesn't seem to realise how insulting he comes over nor Steve how patronising. (Thanks for the apology, Steve, but I doubt if you really remember the specific incident.)

Jim responded "Are you people now hell bent on closing this thread by turning it into a kicking match?" I'm not sure who "you people" are that I am now a member of. My point was that the two of you had already turned it into a kicking match.

There is a constructive and interesting debate to be had here. This isn't it.


09 Jan 18 - 09:34 AM (#3898341)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: TheSnail

Fortunately, this is a very long distance relationship.


09 Jan 18 - 10:22 AM (#3898349)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,just another guest

Urban people, not particularly skilled as poets and living outside of the subjects of our folk songs - all of which makes them highly unlikely as possible authors,
Who better to suspect of making sea songs than someone who has actually worked at se
The same goes for agricultural work, soldiering, mining, weaving
(Jim Carrol)

How about urban people who left school at 15 "joined the ranks of the unemployed ... found intermittent work in a number of jobs and also made money as a street singer (Wikipedia)" but became skilled poets and talked to the people who had done those things ?


09 Jan 18 - 10:49 AM (#3898357)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"How about urban people who left school at 15 "joined the ranks of the unemployed ... found intermittent work in a number of jobs and also made money as a street singer (Wikipedia)" but became skilled poets and talked to the people who had done those things ?"
There is not a shred of evidence that any of them did this
Steve Gardham has pointed out that some of them might have been born in rural areas, but most lived within reach of their work
Is it so unlikely that people actually created songs based on what was happening around them (as early researchers believed) that it is necessary to invent "what ifs" such as this?
It seems to me that peaple here seem to want working people not to have made their own songs
Jim Carroll


09 Jan 18 - 11:17 AM (#3898366)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

In spite of his marital difficulties, Bryan speaks a lot of sense at 09 Jan 18 - 09:31 AM. The reluctance to join in what has developed in part into an insult-strewn kicking match has clearly put off people who are well-qualified to participate. I have received an email and a Facebook message from two men asking me to make points on their behalf. Well, my answers to both (they will be reading this) was that I didn't want to fire the bullets that other people make. However, it does point out that things have reached a sorry state on a subject that requires participators to think what they are saying and back it up with evidence.

My silly verse above did have a serious point behind and it leads me to ask a polite question which hopefully will bring forward an answer that is without rancour -
Does the person who stated Urban people, not particularly skilled as poets and living outside of the subjects of our folk songs - all of which makes them highly unlikely as possible authors have any research evidence or factual reinforcement for the statement that town and city dwellers bring little skill to their verses? Otherwise it does seem to be a bold, bald and unsupported statement, bearing in mind that we know very little of the lives and living locations of the hundreds (thousands?) of people who contributed to the composition and/or adaptation of broadside ballads/chapbooks etc.


09 Jan 18 - 11:21 AM (#3898368)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Sorry interrupted
Can I just reiterate that, here in Ireland, rural people were making their own songs right up to the mid 1950s - mainly anonymously - we uncovered at leasy sixty o them within a twenty mile radius of this one street town, and were made of a hundred more over the other side of the county
It is almost certain that this was repeated in every county in Ireland
While the political situation was different, the economic situation was similar to that of England
The post famine situation gave rise to many new songs - Terry Moylan published a magnificent 700 page book of them last year on political songs, but hoe we came across were on every subject under the sun, farmwork (including songs about hiring fairs), shipwrecks, emigration (probably the largest number, naturally), fashion, arranged marriages, murders, weddings, births, marriages, deaths..... everything touching on human existance.
Scotland has a fine repertoire of Bothie Songs made by farmworkers - the Tweed industry produced improvised songs made on the spot and political upheavals were marked by angry protest songs in Scots Gaelic
We know from John Holloway's 'Oxford Book of Local Verse' that similar songs have been made throughout England for centuries
I spent months in Manchester Library poring through microfiche copies of ld newspapers which carried regular columns of songs contributed, mainly anonymously (probably for fear of reprisals) by mill workers and land workers trying to get the vote
None of this is hard and fast evidence that working people made our folk song, but is shows (beyond any doubt) that they were capable of doing so.
"I'm not sure who "you people" are "
How about those who make accusations likke, "They seem equally agenda driven and attention seeking"
I have put my points without agenda and without attention seeking
I make no claims of percentages, nor do I dismiss the idea that these songs also appeared on broadsides in great numbers - a fact I have been aware of since Bob Thomson told me about them in 1969.
My reason for arguing as I do is that we examine all the facts and all the possibilities, gathering as much evidence and as many opinions as there are available.
"Fortunately, this is a very long distance relationship."
The ball's always been in your court Bryan !
Jim Carroll


09 Jan 18 - 11:33 AM (#3898371)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"have any research evidence or factual reinforcement for the statement that town and city dwellers bring little skill to their verses? "
We are not talking about Urban dwellers Vic, we are talking about specific tradesmen who are (as you said yourself) working under high pressure to earn a living
Their output of poetry shows their limited skills as most of it is unsingable (as distinct from our folk songs, that fit the mouth like custom-made false teeth) and display signs of a knowledge of working practices and equipment, conditions experienced by rural politics like the seizure of land, the effects of mechanisation on rural occupations, or experience of conditions at sea or in the army or in the rural industries.
No group of desk-bound poets working in the conditions they were forced to could ever produce a body of songs covering those situations the way our makes of folk songs did, in my opinion
It is still as simple as it ever was - if working people were capable of making folk songs they probably did
Nobody has suggested (yet) that they weren't
Any offers?
Jim Carroll


09 Jan 18 - 11:52 AM (#3898374)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: TheSnail

How about those who make accusations likke, "They seem equally agenda driven and attention seeking"
That wasn't an accusation, it was an observation.

Leave my balls out of it.


09 Jan 18 - 12:08 PM (#3898379)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

I started writing this a few hours ago but then received a visitor to talk about concertinas (and many other subjects).

The phrase "Entrenched views" appeared.

That's the nub of it. Despite all the discussion, sometimes polite and sometimes not at all polite, I see little sign of anyone changing their mind. Even where we have hard evidence of the original provenance of particular songs that still tells us nothing certain about any of the others.

But I'm becoming very unsure what the parties are actually disagreeing about.

We established some time ago that all sorts of different people (including in particular both rural workers and professional songwriters) could and did create songs, that some songs appealed to popular taste and survived to be widely sung and widely collected, that others were collected only a few times, and yet others were sung only briefly and/or locally if at all and so were never collected. Modern subjective impressions of quality won't always align with what the folk adopted or ignored, but by and large at least some of the gems should have survived and most of the dung should have been forgotten.

Given the huge range of styles, from big ballads to bucolic May morning encounters, to music hall songs, etc, it's no wonder that the early collectors were selective. It's also no wonder that when later collectors bothered to ask singers for their opinions the singers drew distinctions between the different sorts.

Apart from the figure of 95% or thereabouts, which Steve believes reflects how many of the songs in the classic collections were made by professional songwriters (whether directly for broadsides or for the stage etc), and which Jim believes to be much too high, what else is under dispute?


09 Jan 18 - 12:09 PM (#3898380)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,just another guest

"How about urban people who left school at 15 "joined the ranks of the unemployed ... found intermittent work in a number of jobs and also made money as a street singer (Wikipedia)" but became skilled poets and talked to the people who had done those things ?"
There is not a shred of evidence that any of them did this


@Jim Carrol. It's from here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ewan_MacColl Now, to be sure, self education would have been a lot harder in, say, the 1700's but there are a whole ruck of people who became succesful in many spheres who did it. Maybe many who, like, MacColl, became involved in the theatre of the time. So why not a broadside writer?


09 Jan 18 - 12:23 PM (#3898382)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,just another guest

On the other side of things, in the chapter on "The singing habits of sailors and soldiers", Roud quotes Herman Melville's (fictionalised, but presumably first-hand) account of Liverpool:

"But one of the most curious features of the scene was the numnber of sailor ballad-singers, who after singing their verses, hand you a printed copy, and beg you to buy... ... he composed many of his own verses, and had them printed on his own account" (Melville)

My Kindle says I am 65% of the way though the book, but there is not much of what seems contentious in this discussion that has not been touched on.


09 Jan 18 - 12:35 PM (#3898389)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin

We are not talking about Urban dwellers Vic, we are talking about specific tradesmen who are (as you said yourself) working under high pressure to earn a living

Their output of poetry shows their limited skills as most of it is unsingable


Like Robert Tannahill? As urban proletarian as you can get.

Scottish and Irish rural singers (Travellers included) seem to have managed to sing his output without much of a problem.


09 Jan 18 - 12:47 PM (#3898390)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

I've answered this already guest and asked for a response
MacColl, my father and many others educated themselves during the great depression, mainly by going into Libraries to shelter from the rain, off the streets
I have no doubt whatever that Urban working people were as capable of making songs as were rural ones, but there's no evidence that they wrote rural songs beyond the limitations of their experience at the time these songs were made
I ask again, why is it so impossible to to accept that rural people wrote rural songs about rural subjects - likewise seamen, or soldiers....?
If they did, why didn't those documenting the songs at the time spot that these songs were really Urban products?
Who is more likely to have made these songs - city dwellers working under conveyor belt conditions or country dwellers responding to what was happening all around them?
Why is is so important to you that these songs were produced for money rather than made to reflect working lives
What makes 19th century rural England so different from Rural Scotland or Ireland, where folk song making is a proven fact?
I've asked these questions over and over again and nobody appears to want to answer them!

For the interest of those who appear to be expressing doubt over the suggestion that the Vaughan Williams Memorial has held a copy of the Carpenter collection since the 1070s
I've just checked our section of the collection shelved in the loft and have established that we have 15 spring-back folders of photocopies from the contents of (I think) 5 or 6 microfilms
We paid to get as many of them copied as we could but didn't manage to get all of them
As far as I am aware, the set is still available at the Library
Each of our folders contains at least 150 songs (at a guess)
This is the first song from the first folder, though I can't guarantee we got them in order
Jim Carroll

Buchan Observer,
Turlundie Side
Bell Robertson, New Pitslogo, June 9, 1908

Now Nature decks Pitligo's groves
In all their summer pride.
And temps the wandering feet to rove
Upon Turlundie's side.
To gaze upon the prospect fair,
So varied and so wide,        
And breathe the sweet and balmy air
Upon. Turlundie's side.
To hear the little feathered throng
With music fill the woods
And the lav'rock chant his joyous song,
Hid in the fleecy clouds.
Sweet wild flowers deck the meadows green
Like to a bonny bride,
And wimplin burnies row unseen
A' down Turlundie's side.
From Brucklemore to Mormondhill        
And to the ocean wide,
The wanderer's eye can rove at will
From off Turlundie's side.
I care not for wealth's gaudy toys        .
It's pageantry and pride,
Just give me Nature's simple joys
Upon Turlundie'a side.        
Does any wish in quiet retreat
A few weeks to abide?
Just come and try this village sweet
Upon Turlundiefs side.


09 Jan 18 - 12:52 PM (#3898392)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,just another guest

"We are not talking about Urban dwellers Vic, we are talking about specific tradesmen who are (as you said yourself) working under high pressure to earn a living"

@Jim Carroll. It was you who brought up Samuel Laycock (also John Clare) , and me several pages back, who quoted some biographical details. Which included 12 hour days as a weaver, poetry on broadsides that helped him get by when unemployed and enduring respect, but not much money, as a published poet.


09 Jan 18 - 01:07 PM (#3898394)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Like Robert Tannahill? "
Tanahill wasn't a broadside writer - he was a weaver-poet, as was Bamnford, Axon, Lackock and all the others mentioned previously as examples of working men producing poems of working life based on their own experiences
He was not Urban, but came from the market town of Paisley, the population of which in the first couple of decades of the 19th century, was less than 5,000
There is no comparison between Tannahill and the metropolitan based hacks we are discussion - he was, in essence, a country poet
Jim Carroll


09 Jan 18 - 01:14 PM (#3898395)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

GAG
THese were not professional broadside writers as such
THey are in fact, what I have suggested the suggested authors of some of our folk songs - workers who made pennies on the side by selling some of their songs
Again - go look up Vic's description of the conditions of work of the professional broadside writers - there is no disput that they worked as professions at top speed to produce songs
Please respond to the questions I have laid out here 09 Jan 18 - 12:47 PM or leave me to draw my own conclusions - that you are unable to
Jim Carroll


09 Jan 18 - 01:15 PM (#3898396)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Scotland has a fine repertoire of Bothie Songs made by farmworkers

Again, we need to be very careful in attributing a majority of Bothy songs to the farmworkers themselves. What we do know is that the bothy ballads found a willing audience of singers and listeners for these songs. By British standards, the farms of Aberdeenshire and the Mearns were large and often relatively isolated and the various farm tradesmen lived in the bothies and rarely left their farms during their six month 'fee'. The farms were regularly visited by all sorts of pedlars and as well as clothing, boots and 'bacca they brought song sheets to a captive market. Jimmy MacBeath was a popular figure in the bothies both as an entertainer and for the song sheets and books that he brought to sell. One of the few broadside ballads that I own was bought in a junk shop in Dundee; the lovely ballad of Tattie Jock and Mutton Peggy. It begins -
Ye'll a' o' heard o' Tattie Jock, likewise o' Mutton Peggy
They kept a fermie o'er in Fife and the name o' it was Craigie's

... though as you might expect from a song that has entered the tradition, it has been heard by me at the early TMSA festivals with the location changed - usually further north,
It was in print from the "Poet's Box" in Dundee as late as the 1950s though the subject is about transportation to Botany Bay for theft (1840s?). Extensive research has failed to locate the farm in spite of the song. Someone must have imagined the story as well as the location, but though the story sounds entirely believeable and likely, the odds are that it didn't happen. Who wrote it remains unknown but there is little doubt that the printed version helped its widespread popularity amongst old bothy workers that we met at those festivals such as Charlie Murray, Adam Young and Eck Harley. I heard a lot of these lovely old guys who must have started their work on farms around the time of the First World War. They sang all sorts of songs, not just songs about the farms; sentimental songs were prominent in their repertoires.
They talked a lot about the songs written by George Bruce Thomson, G.S. Morris and Willie Kemp, all of whom were famed as pro or semi-pro performers on stage and in village concert party and humour and 'bothy culture and songs' were prominent in their acts. They also recorded, mainly for the Beltona label and pedlars sold these '78s around the farms. The vast majority of the bothy songs sung by these old guys could be found in either one of these two publications by Kerr - Bothy Ballads - the songs of Willie Kemp and Buchan Bothy Ballads written by G.S. Morris. Both were still in print in that poor quality paper that Kerr's always used when I bought them (along with their many tune books) in the 1960s. (I would love to know the publication date for all of any of these Kerr publications. They seem to me to be difficult to trace.)
We also need to be very careful in taking as gospel the facts expressed in the lyrics of these ballads as Ian Olson, the expert of the bothy repertoire from the University of Aberdeen has said -
Bothies were more common in Angus than Aberdeenshire, but it is the latter that has become best known as the heartland of bothy songs.

Traditional bothy ballads were mostly composed between 1830-1890, and are often characterised as being songs decrying the conditions on a certain farm or in some cases certain farmers, seemingly gaining notoriety for places such as Drumdelgie, the Barnyards o Delgaty or Rhynie. However, bothy ballad expert Ian Olson points out that the songs were jokes rather than satires. He notes that Delgaty, for example, was a prestigious farm, "famous for having the very best of equipment, horses and horsemen. Singing that there was 'naethin there but skin and bone' would have been hilarious".
From https://www.scotslanguage.com/Scots_Song_uid65/Types_of_Scots_Song/Bothy_Ballads_uid3315


Now, it could be argued that the bothy evidence that I have been talking about came at a time when they were in terminal decline but three superb books that combine oral history with other written sources and account books by David Kerr Cameron - The Ballad & The Plough, The Cornkister Days and Willie Gavin, Crofter Man give us a detailed picture of life around the mid nineteenth century on the farms of north-east Scotland and they all talk about pedlars and their central importance in bringing news and song sheets as well as everything else to the farms.
The reason for my intense interest in this part of the world is that my grandmother born 1872, who I live with in Edinburgh when I was a boy, had been a 'kitchie maid' on an Aberdeenshire farm after leaving school before she achieved her ambition of training as a nurse in Aberdeen.


09 Jan 18 - 01:19 PM (#3898398)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

And please read my list of the sources I believe to have made the songs - from MacColl's Song Carriers (which Steve Gardham dismissed as romantic rubbish)
"They were made by professional bards and by unknown poets at the plough-stilts and the handloom".
I am at a total loss to understand why I have to keep repeating this?
Jim Carroll


09 Jan 18 - 01:27 PM (#3898401)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Again, we need to be very careful in attributing a majority of Bothy songs to the farmworkers themselves. "
First I've heard of it Vic and my favourite book o the subject id David Kerr Cameron's 'The Ballad and the Plough
From your link:
"In the first half of the 20th century, the bothy ballad took on a more comical 'stage' form through the works of George Bruce Thomson, G.S. Morris and Willie Kemp. These more recent compositions - by and large very humorous - are sometimes called cornkisters to distinguish them from older 'traditional' bothy songs which tend to be more sober accounts of work and conditions on particular farms"

The oral tradition at the beginning of the 20th century in Scotland was beginning to deteriorate and become mor reliant on print, as was the English one
The songs we are discussing here were those made in the latter half of the 19th century and recovered from a dying tradition
Jim Carroll


09 Jan 18 - 02:19 PM (#3898410)
Subject: ADD Version: The Maids of Australia
From: Steve Gardham

Thomas Pearson, Printer, 6, Chadderton Street, off Oldham Road, Manchester. Stock No 76.

THE MAIDS OF AUSTRALIA

One morn as I stood on the Arbourer's banks,
Where the maids of Australia plays their wild pranks,
Beneath the green shades, I sat myself down,
A viewing the scenes that enchanted all round,
In the forest of happy Australia,
Where the maids are so handsome and gay.

I had not gazed long on these beautiful scenes,
Where the forest was wild, and the trees they were green,
Before a gay damsel to me did appear,
To the banks of the river she quickly drew near!
She was a native of happy Australia,
Where the maids are so handsome and gay.

She says young man I'm almost afraid,
That you will injure an innocent maid,
That is come here to bathe on these pure rippling shores,
In the streams of my native Australia
Streams of my native Australia
Where the maids....

She pulled off her clothes, and before me she stood,
As naked as Venus just rose from the flood;
I blushed with confusion, when smiling, says she,
This is the clothing dame nature gave me,
On the day i was born in Australia,
Where....

She plunged in the river without fear or dread,
Her delicate limbs she extended and spread,
Her hair hung in ringlets, which you know was black,
She says, See here, young man, how I float on my back,
In the streams of my native Australia
Where the ......

Being exhausted with swimming, she swam to the brink,
For assistance she cried, oh I'm afraid I shall sink.
Like lightning I flew, and gave her my hand,
She uncourteously slipt and fell back on the sand,
So I entered the bush of Australia,
Where...

I kissed and I toy'd with the fondest of glee,
With the fairest Australian that e'er I did see;
Long time on her bosom my face I did hide,
Till the sun in the west its visits declined,
So I left this fair maid of Australia,
Where.....


09 Jan 18 - 02:45 PM (#3898413)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Just like the one that ot=rigianted on the tradition
Must have got it from a visiting countryman or picked up by a pedlar - if not, why not?
If not, you need to prove it as the original
Jim Carroll


09 Jan 18 - 02:54 PM (#3898415)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Brian Peters

Regarding the microfilm copies of the Carpenter collection in the VWML, which Jim referred to, I certainly knew of their presence, used them extensively and learned songs from them about 15 years ago, after a tip-off from David Atkinson. So thanks for facilitating that, Jim.

Having initiated this thread I'm beginning to feel a bit like the fellow who chucked the bomb at Archduke Ferdinand. But since the discussion has touched several times on one of my favourite renditions of any traditional song, 'The Banks of Sweet Primroses' by Phil Tanner, I must say that his exuberant and irresistible performance, and his individual way with the rhythmic structure, demonstrate to me the creativity of the 'common folk' quite as well as if he'd written it himself. Haven't I spent years trying to justify my own musical career by pointing out that interpretation of existing material is as creative in its way as composing new stuff? As for the song itself, although it's a lovely lyric I don't see anything there that would have demanded a countryman's specialist knowledge - just some experience of wandering by a river on a sunny day, and of romantic rejection.


09 Jan 18 - 03:09 PM (#3898417)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

There is nothing wrong in historical research in saying As yet we do not know the answer. We hope that future evidence will reveal this. It is a much more sensible and honest than saying, These are the facts and need to be regarded as the truth. when there is nothing concrete to back up a statement.

Let's take a couple of recent examples from this thread.
Firstly Bothy Ballads. We can date their heyday to 1830 to 1890. We know that they continued to be sung well into the 20th century by the rural population of the north-east. We know that they appeared in print from the earliest time and that there was a good distribution system and a ready market in farms and villages. We know that by the beginning of the 20th century any new song that entered the repertoire as a cornkister was likely to have been written by a professional entertainer. We know that the songs of Harry Lauder & Will Fyfe gained great currency in the north-east; Jane Turriff seemed to sing them all. What we don't know is who composed the earlier songs, let's say those that appeared before 1850, and of those, the ones that gained currency. They may have been commissioned by those who printed the sheets, they may have been written by farm workers. It may be a combination of both. In the majority of cases, we just don't know.
That's why Scotland has a fine repertoire of Bothie Songs made by farmworkers makes me uncomfortable because, in fact, we do not know for certain who made them.
That's why statements like First I've heard of it Vic are unhelpful because whether you or I or anyone else has heard of it proves nothing.

Let's move on to a subject we know even less about, the class and location of those who wrote the broadside ballads.
Urban people, not particularly skilled as poets and living outside of the subjects of our folk songs - all of which makes them highly unlikely as possible authors
Again I feel very uncomfortable about this because the amount of knowledge that we have is minimal about the poets' names, their education, their class, their other occupations if any, whether they were itinerant, living in town or country whether they were the printers or ballad sellers themselves or whether their ranks encompassed all or most of these. It would be honest to say that we don't have enough information so we should admit that, on the whole, we just don't know. We know from reading the survivors that their standard varied from drivel to some quite moving pieces. To claim otherwise as the statement above seems to me to be being economic with the actuality.

Finally, there have been a few statements of the nature of -
It most certainly is not - it's a well documented fact, including in Hindleys Hindley in teh Catnach biography and Leslie Shepherd's books on the subject
Vic has described the pressure they worked under quite adequately

Well, I certainly was not referring to any song printed as a broadside I was merely trying to make a joke (failed obviously) of the fact that the printer would not be able to wait for a polished edit of the tiresome prose of Last words of.... or Confessions of.... documents to be mulled over and corrected before the body was swinging at the end of a rope, Like football programmes, these sheets had a very short shelf life before they were discarded.


09 Jan 18 - 05:29 PM (#3898432)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Jim's 4 questions answered.

1) why is it so impossible to accept that rural people wrote rural songs about rural subjects - likewise seamen, or soldiers....?

It isn't! We keep stating that rural people (and soldiers and seamen)
did write rural songs and indeed we have given plenty of good examples of what they wrote. More if you wish.


09 Jan 18 - 05:35 PM (#3898433)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

2) If they did, why didn't those documenting the songs at the time spot that these songs were really Urban products?

There are lots of possible answers to this and others will probably add to my list.
Most of the collectors were not particularly interested in their origins. Presumably they were happy to accept Sharp's doctrine. Baring Gould and Kidson aside, few of them had done any research on this and we already know that they were much more interested in the tunes. Vaughan Williams frequently didn't even bother to note any more than the first verse of the text. As stated baring Gould and Kidson were well aware of the broadside influence but they lived far away from London where all the organising went on under Sharp's watchful eye.


09 Jan 18 - 05:41 PM (#3898434)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

3) Who is more likely to have made these songs - city dwellers working under conveyor belt conditions or country dwellers responding to what was happening all around them?

We have already addressed this one numerous times. Vic just addressed the 'conveyor belt' idea. I certainly haven't given the impression (at least I hope so) that this was some sort of conveyor belt. I've already stated that from what we know of the writers they came from a variety of backgrounds and had various motives, admittedly the 2 most obvious, to feed a family and to feed a drink habit. We've also repeatedly asked you to give some examples of songs that couldn't have been written by the urban writers.


09 Jan 18 - 05:44 PM (#3898436)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

4) Why is is so important to you that these songs were produced for money rather than made to reflect working lives.

It isn't. The fact that they were paid is incidental to what they were producing as far as we're concerned. the writers were working people. The 2 things you point to here are not mutually exclusive anyway.


09 Jan 18 - 05:54 PM (#3898438)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

5) What makes 19th century rural England so different from Rural Scotland or Ireland, where folk song making is a proven fact?

Others have already addressed the Bothy Ballads issue. I was the one who originally suggested the Bothy Ballads. Although I can't claim to have conducted individual studies on Bothy Ballads I am very familiar with them. Perhaps it might be more relevant to look at the Greig-Duncan collection, a very large body of material but much more representative of North East Scotland. Much of the material in G-D is a very mixed bag. There aren't that many of the big ballads in relation to the whole corpus, there are lots of local songs not found elsewhere, there are also lots of broadside ballads in there, as you would expect crossing over with what Sharp and co were collecting, and a whole load of Burns type stuff again which you would expect.

As for comparing what was going on in rural England in the early 19th century with conditions in rural Ireland in the second half of the 20th century, well I'll leave that to the historians to answer.


09 Jan 18 - 06:02 PM (#3898439)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Joe Offer

Hi, folks -
Wherever and whenever you post lyrics at Mudcat, please give the song's title and name the source of your lyrics. I've added titles to some of the lyrics in this thread. I hope I'm right.
Thanks.
-Joe Offer-


10 Jan 18 - 05:41 AM (#3898487)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"It isn't! We keep stating that rural people (and soldiers and seamen)
did write rural songs and indeed we have given plenty of good examples of what they wrote. More if you wish."
You have described these songs as Farers writing of their own exppereinces which have not become folk songs
No answer
"There are lots of possible answers to this and others will probably add to my list."
Superficial twaddle
Most collectors referred to the songs as being produced by the people - Motherwell made a point of it when he warned against editing them and Sharp quoted him doing so
"We have already addressed this one numerous times. Vic just addressed the 'conveyor belt' idea."
No you haven't
Vic actually put it forward as an excuse for why broadside compositions were as unsingably bad as they were (though he didn't mention 'in contrast to the folk songs which are highly singable'
"Why is is so important to you that these songs were produced for money rather than made to reflect working lives.
It isn't. The fact that they were paid is incidental!
What!!!!
You maid a gleeful point of describing the money aspect of the production of these songs, comparing them to those produced by today's pop industry
You are joking?
"Others have already addressed the Bothy Ballads issue. "
Nowheern near sufficiently
You fully accepted that they were exceptions because they were examples of workers having made their songs
From: Steve Gardham - PM
Date: 15 Apr 11 - 07:22 PM
Jim,
Long ago I conceded that parts of Ireland and the Bothy tradition have songs made in local communities that have become part of oral tradition. You are well aware that I am talking about the body of material collected by the likes of Sharp, Kidson, Baring Gould, Hammond, Gardiner etc.

What is being suggested here is that they weren't necessarily rexamples of such
These are more excuses with no real responses Steve
Brian
Banks of Sweet Primroses
"would have demanded a countryman's specialist knowledge"
I raise the song as a beautiful example of a comparison in style and language between the broadside output and that of the folk, not as demanding specialist knowledge of the countryside
Will deal (with some pleasure) with your 'Maid of Australia' text in full later
Jim Carroll


10 Jan 18 - 05:49 AM (#3898490)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jack Campin

Spare us. It is completely impossible to work out which is your opinion and which is quoted text in that last message.

Don't you ever preview what you post?


10 Jan 18 - 06:32 AM (#3898501)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

After my last posting here at 12:08 Mudcat time yesterday I was out at Sharp's Folk Club, where were sung all sorts of songs, new and old, most of them in my opinion (though not all) worth listening to. Having got home late, I got off to late start this morning. In the meantime there have been many further postings here, and I was going to say that the thread has moved on; but more accurate would be to say that the thread is getting stuck deeper in the mire.

Jim asked (inter alia)
> why is it so impossible to accept that rural people wrote rural songs about rural subjects - likewise seamen, or soldiers....?

I would have ventured to answer that, but Steve already did
> It isn't! We keep stating that rural people (and soldiers and seamen) did write rural songs and indeed we have given plenty of good examples of what they wrote. More if you wish.

Jim came back again
> You have described these songs as Farers writing of their own exppereinces which have not become folk songs
No answer

(Excusing the typos) I presume that Jim is challenging the latter part of Steve's answer, concerning examples. I too would like to pursue that a little further.

But Jim, do you now acknowledge that we all do accept that some songs were written by the people whose affairs they deal with, and that we disagree only in our estimates of the proportions?

Steve, please expand about the examples. It seems to me that not very many particular songs have been mentioned on this thread, that some of those have every appearance of having been written by individuals whose business was song writing, and that we have no information as to who most of those individuals were. Which songs, mentioned above, do you personally regard as (probably or certainly) written by rural people?


10 Jan 18 - 08:29 AM (#3898517)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

No problem, Richard. If we give a very rough estimate figure of the main published corpus from about 1890 upto about 1920 from southern England we're looking at about 3,000 songs. My 95% still leaves the 5% as about 150 songs. These can easily be sought amongst the published collections mentioned and there are plenty in the Hammond-Gardiner (Marrow Bones) series. Just look for those that have very few versions and are songs with an obvious local flavour like local hunting songs.

Other than that I have a good selection of songs from my local area I know were written by local farm labourers.

I have posted details on several occasions of an East Riding bothy ballad which was known to every farm labourer in the East Riding during the 20th century (and in surrounding counties) and there are 19th century versions. As far as I know the song has never appeared on street literature and seldom in other forms of print. It is a song we usually call 'Mutton Pie'. If you haven't seen a version there is at least one on our website www.yorkshirefolksong.net and I have sung it at TSF meetings. I can post it here if you wish. I did hear of a version with 50 verses which doesn't surprise me, but I never got to hear or see this version.


10 Jan 18 - 08:52 AM (#3898521)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,Just another guest

Another quote from Roud's book, here quoting Charlotte Burne in the last part of the 19th century;

"One such song-maker, commonly called 'the Muxton carter' ... ... used to think the verses over in his mind when he was going with the horses... ... It was doubtless such unlettered poets as these wh supplied the matter for the broadsides which emanated in great numbers from Waidson's press at Shrewsbury during the earlier years of the present century"

So far in the book I haven't come across what I would recognise as a 'broadside hack' as referred to in this discussion. This is reference to many sorts of people, with varying degrees of education, who's work came out on broadsides. To me the simple interpretation is that they area a result of straightforward business decisions on the part of the person with the words, the person with the press and the person who sold them. The arrangment may or may not have been equitable amongst the parties concerned but they all must have thought that it would help them keep food on the table.


10 Jan 18 - 08:54 AM (#3898522)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,just anothe guest

... ot beer in the pot.


10 Jan 18 - 09:26 AM (#3898527)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones

Jim contrasts broadside compositions which were "unsingably bad" with the folk songs which are "highly singable".

Those broadsides which really were unsingable probably didn't survive very long, and possibly were never intended to be more than briefly topical. However the very high percentage of collected folk songs which can be traced back to broadsides and other printed sources suggests that many of them were singable. In some cases that may be because they were existing songs (or it might be that they were actually quite good) but in others the explanation must be that they were transformed into singable folk songs by folk singers themselves. Like Brian, I regard that process as a creative one, and in the context of what we mean by 'folk songs' arguably more important than the original act of composition. It is after all the 'folk process' which distinguishes folk song from the rest.

The significance to me of folk songs is their staying-power. They clearly contained something which made them relevant and meaningful to generations of people who sang and listened to them. Whether that came from the authenticity of their original composition or whether it was acquired and added by singers along the way, or whether they were simply an escapist contrast to their lives, they came to mean something to those people and perhaps tell us something about them and their lives. For me it is the whole journey which matters, not just the starting point; not where they originated but where they ended up. Of course, this is a purely personal and perhaps an emotional response and others may have very different reactions to mine, but it explains my point of view. I am not indifferent to whether or not these songs were composed by the folk (and certainly not hostile to the idea) but it is not of particular importance to me, as that was only the beginning of the journey.


10 Jan 18 - 09:37 AM (#3898532)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

> The significance to me of folk songs is their staying-power.


I take it you mean "without outside assistance."

A tiny proportion of pop songs and "art songs" have also shown great staying power - though helped along by marketing, star performers, and elaborate musical arrangements.


10 Jan 18 - 01:31 PM (#3898602)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

More on The Maid of Australia.
If you haven't already done so it's worth taking a look at the other thread on this very song. We have an unpublished version from Devon and an Australian version collected somewhat later on. For reasons I would explain if needed it surely is very doubtful that the song was made in Australia. When we have looked at all versions together I wouldn't be surprised if that one goes back to American versions. The thread also mentions 2 versions collected by Carpenter and this might prove useful when we've seen these 2 versions. The VWML website is about to put up the Carpenter Collection shortly if it has not already been done. One feature of both the versions on the other thread is some shunting has taken place(the running together of 2 verses into 1 ( sometimes attributable to oral tradition, sometimes to rewriting by broadside writers. More likely oral tradition in this case.


10 Jan 18 - 01:41 PM (#3898604)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Those broadsides which really were unsingable probably didn't survive very long, and possibly were never intended to be more than briefly topical. "
The ones I am referring to are the ones considered representative enough to be published - we have the thre volumes of Ashton 17th, 18th and 19th, Ashton's 'Real Sailor Songs' Hindley's 'Curiosities of Street Literature',   2 volumes of Holloway and Black..... and I would guess (without counting) another thirty collections - from early Elizabethan to 19th century
I have scoured the Pepys set and spent a long time looking through Chethams and Central Library in Mancester
Musa Pedestris and Pills to Purge Melancholy would , I think count as broadsides
Hardly a singable song in the lot of them - or certainly not for anything to use in a feature evening and then forgotten
Sorry Howard, I really have tried with these.
I would be interested to hear on a collection that did contain a few singable songs
Don't forget, many of these sheets were bought and used for decoration, as described in Issac Walton's 'The Compleat Angler'
I can hardly imagine many of them ever having been sung for any length of time.
Even most of those that went into the tradition were in very much need of adaptation.
"But Jim, do you now acknowledge that we all do accept that some songs were written by the people whose affairs they deal with, and that we disagree only in our estimates of the proportions?"
Not really Howard, otherwise people might have ventured the suggestion that the rural population might just have made a little more than the single figure numbers of our folk songs Steve is suggesting they did
Where do you stand on this?
If working people were capable of of having made our folk songs, the subject matter, the social stance of the songs, the folklore and folk speech..... and a whole host of other things suggests strongly that they made the majority of them
One of the things we noticed while interviewing singers was how they sectioned off their songs from other genres, identified with them and claimed them a their own
It would take poetical geniuses (geneii?) to have produced some work
Comared with the depth of our folk songs the work of the hacks was as different as mass produced goods next to that of skilled craftsmen
The timelessness and distribution of many of the songs is proof of that, if any were needed
Feel free to tell me if I am overstating
Jim Carroll


10 Jan 18 - 02:55 PM (#3898614)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"If you haven't already done so it's worth taking a look at the other thread on this very song."
Still one dimensional paperwork Steve
"Where have all the singers gone?" - as Pete Seeger neary used to sing
Jim Carroll


10 Jan 18 - 02:58 PM (#3898615)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

You are overstating.


10 Jan 18 - 03:00 PM (#3898616)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

?


10 Jan 18 - 03:07 PM (#3898620)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Guess where that figure of 89% came from? All the places mentioned above plus The British Library, National libraries of Scotland, Ireland and Wales etc. etc. I quickly learned how to spot those that relate to folk songs and those that didn't, copied all of those that could have related to folk in some way, checked them alongside their later oral versions and came up with that percentage. A lot of Child's grubbing around but enjoyable most of the time, over a period of 50 years or so.


11 Jan 18 - 04:38 AM (#3898714)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Sorry chaps, I was out again for much of yesterday: first the dentist then dancing in the evening. Insufficient time to come home in between, so instead a short stroll with a friend across Regent's Park.

Steve
> More on The Maid of Australia.
If you haven't already done so it's worth taking a look at the other thread on this very song. <

Thanks for that.
Direct link here for convenience. Let's continue the discussion of that particular song there.


11 Jan 18 - 04:39 AM (#3898715)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"You are overstating."
I most certainly am not Steve - and you know it
Where are your references to the possibilities that these songs might have come from the people who sang them or those who were an essential part of the narrative of the songs
I spent a Few hours last night struggling though a pile of published collections of broadsideses and nineteenth century songs - Hendersons Street Ballads, Lovatt Frazer, Hindley's 'Curiosities' Ashton, the 2 volum Holloway and Black, Chilton's 'Victorian Folk Songs - I reluctantle spent an hor plodding through the interminable 3 volume, 'Universal Songster'.....
I took down your recommended Senelic's 'Tavern Singing in London' and scanned through the lists.
hardly a singable song among the lot of them.
You have removed the possibility that the people who experienced first hand many of the events described in our folk songs - press-ganging, transportation and imprisonment for trying to feed their families , social misalliance, sea and land warfare.... and replaced them with the composers of this unsingable dross
Jim Carroll


11 Jan 18 - 04:46 AM (#3898721)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"Direct link here for convenience. Let's continue the discussion of that particular song there."
That might be a good idea Richard but, without getting bogged down with nit-picking our way through the texts again, I have a couple of general points to make on the group of songs that this is part of which I believe is very relevant to this particular argument
I'll make them when I've got over last night's ordeal
Jim Carroll


11 Jan 18 - 05:20 AM (#3898738)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,just another guest

I have finished the book but am otherwise not very well read on the subject.

Can someone direct me to examples of songs for which there is good evidence of them starting out as 'popular music' (theatre, pleasure garden, music hall, etc) and then having then been collected from an oral source in an 'improved' form?

I am not doubting they exist, but they are harder to recognise than those that seem to have become garbled so that they no longer make sense to a listener.


11 Jan 18 - 05:49 AM (#3898745)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,julia L

Is this allowed in the new politically correct Britain? Someone, no doubt will take offence.

Liberalism is a form of mental illness.


11 Jan 18 - 05:53 AM (#3898749)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"good evidence of them starting out as 'popular music' "
There is no real "good evidence" - just possibilities based on publising dates, but Walter Pardon sang a beautiful version of 'The Rambling Blade' which he once described as "the best old folk song ever written" - I can't find a recording on-line but he can be heard singing it on his early albums
The somg may have originated as a printed 'goodnight ballad', but nobody can say fro certain and it is possible that it came from a 'common source'
There are no certainties in any of this - just possibilities
Jim Carroll


11 Jan 18 - 06:37 AM (#3898770)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Vic Smith

Vic actually put it forward as an excuse for why broadside compositions were as unsingably bad as they were (though he didn't mention 'in contrast to the folk songs which are highly singable'
He didn't and he strongly resents being misquoted.

"Others have already addressed the Bothy Ballads issue. "
Nowheern near sufficiently
You fully accepted that they were exceptions because they were examples of workers having made their songs


The statement in quotations was lifted from a post by Steve Gardham and it refers to a long post of mine made at 09 Jan 18 - 01:15 PM . The salient point made in that post was that, without direct evidence. we do not know who wrote the earlier bothy ballads. We assume that they were any of a} the farmworkers b) the agents of the broadside printers in Dundee - mainly "The Poet's Box" or c) a combination of the two. We are informed that this does not cover the possibility of their origin Nowheern near sufficiently. Perhaps we need to be informed by the person who wrote this of other possible genesis of the Bothy Ballads.

The conduct of this thread increasingly reminds me of conversations with Christian religious fundementalists. They know that the world was created in seven days because because the bible tells us so. For these people facts and interaction of ideas leading to supportable theories have no place; what we need is the faith to endorse their dogmatic beliefs.
With such people discussion is clearly a waste of time because nothing will induce them to concede a single point.

Exeunt.


11 Jan 18 - 08:02 AM (#3898792)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"He didn't and he strongly resents being misquoted."
I did not misquote you Vic, or if I did it was not intentional and is no cause for resentment
You commented on the pressure broadside writers worked under which I took to be a reason for their poor quality
If i was wroneIt was no more intentional than I# sure yours whan when you expected me to provide information from the 8th and 9th century when the discussion was of the songs of a millennium later
Mistakes happen
Jim Carroll


11 Jan 18 - 08:05 AM (#3898796)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"With such people discussion is clearly a waste of time because nothing will induce them to concede a single point."
I assume you are including Steve in this this time Vic?
Jim Carroll


11 Jan 18 - 11:22 AM (#3898857)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

starting out as 'popular music'
Just off the top of my head, lots more.
Sweet Nightingale, from the theatre
Dame Durden, glee clubs
Jim the Carter Lad, Music Hall
Villikins and his Dinah, theatre, burlesque
Caroline and her Young Sailor Bold, John Morgan, ballad writer
The Rambling Soldier, John Morgan
Pretty Caroline, George Brown, ballad writer
Flora, the Lily of the West, George Brown
The Constant Farmer's Son, George Brown
Bonny Bunch of Roses, George Brown
Dark-ey'd Sailor, George Brown
The Cruel Lowland Maid, George Brown
The Distressed Virgin, Martin Parker (17thc)
The Cooper of Norfolk "
John Appleby,          "
O dear O               "
A True Tale of Robin Hood "
The Wooing maid         "
Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green, Thomas Deloney (17thc)
Down in the Meadows, Thomas Wise (18thc)
The Keeper, Joseph Martin, (17thc)
The Ploughboy's Dream, William Mason,
My True Love I've Lost, Lawrence Price (17thc)
The Famous Flower of Serving Men, "
The demon Lover                   "
The Merry haymakers,             "
Johnny Armstrong, Thomas Robins (17thc)
Robin Hood and the Beggar    "
Serving man and Husbandman, Richard Climsell, (17thc)
Baffled Knight                "
Gosport Tragedy                "
No Sir No                      "
Nightingales Sing/Bold Grenadier) "

But of course the vast majority are anon.

A ggod book for which Music Hall songs were found in oral tradition is 'Songs Sung in Suffolk' by John Howson of the Veteran albums label.


11 Jan 18 - 12:22 PM (#3898879)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"starting out as 'popular music'"
Hmmmm?
"The Cooper of Norfolk "
No traditional versions listed by Roud
"The Constant Farmer's Son, George Brown"
Obviously a derivation of Bruton Town which shares its plot with one of Boccaccio's "Nights" and a Veronese broadside of 1629, indicating it has been around a long, long time
"Blind Beggar"
The length of the totally unsingable (50-odd verse) early version compered to the beautifully streamlined shorter traditional one indicates that the former well might have been a very-overindulged composition based on she latter
It is somewhat inconceivable that a traditional singer would plough through an ungainly epic and select a few verses in the middle, especially as a major source of this sonh was the still non-literate Travelling community
"The demon Lover"
The authorship of none of the ballads has been established definitely
The amount of pious moralising and actual folklore in this ballad suggests that it may have been expanded from a traditional composition and turned into a sermon on marital fidelity
Jim Carroll


11 Jan 18 - 12:40 PM (#3898884)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Lighter

Steve, don't forget J. B. Geoghegan's "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" (1867).


11 Jan 18 - 12:53 PM (#3898890)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: GUEST,just another guest

Thanks for that list.

One sentence that caught my attention towards the end of the book, from Julia Bishop rather than Steve Roud, was "On the other hand, Kidson believed that "folk song", when all was said and done, was often little more than archaic popular song". The 'evidence' in the book makes it look that way to me, which is not to say that in the past, as in the late 20th century, some popular hits of the day were not penned by people who started of (and maybe ended up) 'ordinary'.

Overall the book seems to be a historical account of people doing what people who 'made their own entertainment' did. Tthe collectors' 'folk song' being when it was done near the poorer end of society.


11 Jan 18 - 01:55 PM (#3898904)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Just picking up on one of Jim's points:
> "Blind Beggar"
The length of the totally unsingable (50-odd verse) early version compered to the beautifully streamlined shorter traditional one indicates that the former well might have been a very-overindulged composition based on she latter <

While that is not impossible, an alternative (and for most of us much more plausible) scenario is that the very long version was the original, in the fashion of its time, and that the ballad subsequently got cut down by singers, and/or by later broadside printers with or without the aid of their current writers. It certainly was printed umpteen times over the years: 317 entries in the Roud Broadside Index.

And what about the plot? Does it seem like a true account or a fictional tale calculated to appeal to a poor clientele?


11 Jan 18 - 02:02 PM (#3898907)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

Re The Blind beggar
Deloney (a silk weaver, probably from Norwich) had a reputation for re-working folk tales so he was obviously aware of the oral tradition
Jim Carroll


11 Jan 18 - 02:10 PM (#3898908)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Jim Carroll

"And what about the plot? Does it seem like a true account or a fictional tale calculated to appeal to a poor clientele?"
B beggar's daughter despised by rich suitors who turns out to come from a family that is richer than all three of them ?
That's the stuff folk tales are made of Richard
As for an illiterate peasant (as they would have been at the time the ballad was made), ploughing through a fifty-odd verse ballad to pick out the bits the or she didn't like - what do you think?
A later broadside hack maybe, but would a hard-pressed hack working to a deadline have time, or even be bothered to edit a ballad that length?
The latter is a possibility; the former, out of the question
"archaic popular song"."
Popular in the terms Kidson would use it, would be the same as Child's use of the term - of the people rather than top of any ancient hit parade.
Jim Carroll


11 Jan 18 - 02:51 PM (#3898913)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Hi Jon,
The list wasn't meant to be definitive. I missed off all of Harry Clifton's and Joe Geoghegan's songs that entered oral tradition. jag only wanted some suggestions to look at. There are probably plenty of others on Bruce Olsen's website.

Apologies re 'Cooper of Norfolk'. I did say the list was off the top of my head. Actually it was only found in oral tradition in Scotland, not England. Check out 'Johnnie Cooper', versions in John Bell, Greig Duncan and Peter Buchan's Secret Songs.


11 Jan 18 - 03:03 PM (#3898916)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

The ballad writers in all centuries took their inspiration from a wide range of sources, folk tales, higher literature, newspapers, gossip, pub talk, other broadside ballads, etc., but heavily sprinkled with their own imaginations and creative abilities. (list not definitive).


11 Jan 18 - 03:10 PM (#3898918)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

One that I missed off the song list because it's not a very common song in oral tradition is a song called 'Common Bill'/'I hardly think I will'/ 'I'll tell you of a fellow'. More often found in America in oral tradition than in this country, but Lucy broadwood saw fit to publish aversion in 'English County Songs' in 1891, 35 years after it was written by Mary F. T. Tucker (music by Tom Higgins) as 'Woman's Resolution'.

That's the equivalent of me publishing a song as a folk song that was written in 1982.


11 Jan 18 - 03:11 PM (#3898919)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Roud 442 just for the record.


11 Jan 18 - 03:36 PM (#3898921)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Howard Jones

I wonder whether we are in danger of applying modern assumptions and attitudes to earlier and very different times.

If a 50 verse ballad was unsingable, I am led to wonder why the writer bothered to make it so long. Surely a shorter, more singable version would have attracted more customers, and been less trouble to write. As Richard says, this was the fashion of the time, but that implies that these long and unwieldy compositions were in fact popular.

I think it is possible to exaggerate the "illiterate peasant" angle. Literacy rates steadily improved throughout the 19th century, and whilst many rural workers may have been functionally illiterate it seems quite possible that there was someone in their community who could read or sing a broadside to them. It is often reported that these singers had very retentive memories (a skill which illiteracy encourages) so it does not seem impossible to me that they could that way acquire at least a substantial part of even a lengthy ballad, from which they could then strip away the irrelevancies. And of course folk singers were not all agricultural labourers but included artisans and other skilled and semi-skilled occupations who might be expected to have a higher level of literacy.


11 Jan 18 - 03:54 PM (#3898925)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Richard Mellish

Personally I find the Blind Beggar plot not merely implausible as a true story but not even very convincing fiction. If the father actually had lots of money, why did he go about as a beggar? It wasn't (as in some other songs) in pursuit of his own amorous adventures. Was it just to make absolutely sure that whatever man took his daughter would be doing so for love, not for money? Did he really need to go to quite those extreme lengths? The ballad is typical in recounting what (supposedly) happened without saying much about the characters' motives.

Plausible or not, clearly the story was popular, and in the form of the tidied-up ballad remains so to this day among revival performers.


11 Jan 18 - 04:00 PM (#3898926)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England
From: Steve Gardham

Hi Howard,
These longer ballads of the 17th/18th centuries were definitely aimed at the rising middle class in the cities, people like tradesmen, apprentices, and people would buy them to read as well as sing. By about 1780 many of the longer ballads were being cut down drastically and being reprinted on slips to cater for the rising literacy among the poor. One excellent example that was being sung in its entirety was The Yarmouth Tragedy with 56 verses. When collected in oral tradition lots of versions were found, several with no verses in common with others because they were taken from different episodes in the seminal long ballad. I would put this down partly to oral tradition and partly to the process mentioned above.

'that implies that these long and unwieldy compositions were in fact popular.'(HJ) They were extremely popular, being printed and reprinted well into the 19thc in full, by the likes of John Pitts, but had gone out of favour by the time Catnach came on the scene.


11 Jan 18 - 04:48 PM (#3898937)
Subject: RE: New Book: Folk Song in England