Mudcat Café message #3184178 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #138735   Message #3184178
Posted By: Jim Carroll
09-Jul-11 - 03:25 AM
Thread Name: Do purists really exist?
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
"...you can't name any collector who believed that the working class was incapable of producing anything, and you certainly can't cite the offending words."
Regarding the creation of folk song, this from Phillips Barry in his note to The Lakes of Col Finn in The New Green Mountain Songster:
"Popular tradition, however, does not mean popular origin. In the case of of the 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 " (my emphasis).
I believe this attitude reflects that of many collectors and academics, who have treated our field singers as merely sources of songs and nothing more, the result being that we have little or no information as to what the singers thought of their songs, if anything.
The unconconcious folk-singer whose singing was regarded as unconsidered and as "instinctive as birdsong" has been one of the most prevailing images in the field of folk song scholarship since it began. We even have our own 'expert' on this forum who, based on "gut reaction", is keen to prove that the folk had no part in the making of our traditional songs, which, he claims, were really the products of an army of pixies slaving away in cellars of broadside publishing houses in order to give us our oral folk literature because the 'ordinary' people were too busy earning a living to create anything artistic for themselves - not my opinion after nearly 40 years of interviewing some of the remaining few source singers left to us.
As a whole, the working class has always been regarded as being incapable of artistic creation, other than on the most crude and basic level; the main reason why folk song has been treated as an object of ridicule by the arts establishment and the media (and even evident on this thread) - the 'Rambling Sid Rumpo' school of thought.
Jim Carroll