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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Vinland Variant vs wrong (42) RE: Variant vs wrong 01 Dec 00

As an editor and arranger of folk and traditional song collections, I've come across most of the dilemmas described and a few others not mentioned.

For example, I recently decided to publish a rare World War I ballad called The Valleys Of Kilbride. The collected version was twelve versions long, and badly needed editing. (Many of the old Newfoundland songs were written to tell several stories at once and tend to wander). Not wanting to be the one responsible for altering the tradition I looked around and found a newly recorded version (variant?). With further research it turned out the song had been collected and edited by one of our most prominent folk singers (and a folklorist herself). She had edited the song to six verses, and happened to mention to me that song had been been written by one John MacDonald, the grandfather of a good friend of mine! This led to further editing when I contacted my friend (who was a poet and songwriter herself). Now, at least , I know I have the approval of the songwriter's family, and perhaps helped rescue an historic song from obscurity. Being a part- time songwriter myself, I know that my own songs are often improved by a good editor and oral transmission. I'd be only too happy if any of my songs survive me, not matter how they're varied. I suspect that Mr. MacDonald would feel the same...

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