Mudcat Café message #3340726 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #22617   Message #3340726
Posted By: Jim Carroll
20-Apr-12 - 04:42 AM
Thread Name: Origin: High Germany
Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
Sorry Steve - it was my intention neither to misquote, nor to put words in your mouth, any more than I am sure it was not yours to patronise me as you have in the past. I have put as much time as you to studying our songs and ballads - forty years ago I would have been involved in traditional song for around ten years.
I do find it more than a little disturbing that you would consign the making of our folksongs to "the lowest apprentices in the printers at the bottom of the market" rather than to consider that they might have been the poetic interpretations of the life and experiences of the people who sang them.
I have to say that even here I find your general attitude to folk song more than a little dismissive:
"Its poor construction and inconsistency might suggest having come from oral tradition,"
I've always thought that our folk songs are well-constructed and consistent, and it is exactly this that has assisted with their universal currency and survival.
You're arguments in the past have been put fairly definitively - without digging I can recall sweeping statements about "ballad hacks and 'The Cruel Mother" and rather disparaging "do you believe that stuff?" and other such dismissive and sometimes disparaging statements.
I really am not interested in "distinguished scholars'" who haven't "taken you to task" - I am interested in how you deal with the contradictions of your own conclusions, none of which you have come anywhere near to answering - "The English were far too involved in earning a living to make songs" will do as an example for now; there are numerous others.   
I would be interested to know how deeply you have examined the arguments of others in reaching your conclusions - I was somewhat staggered that someone who was examining ballad origins had never read, nor even heard of David C Fowler's work on the subject.
Your hypotheses flies in the face of everything I have read and have come to believe about folk song - without evidence it simply doesn't add up logically, neither in what I have read, nor in what we found out about song-making in the various communities in the British Isles.
A school of anonymous song-makers (doggerel-producing hacks, by common description, including your own) making songs that took root wherever they landed, were adapted and managed to establish themselves all over the English speaking world (and beyond) and lasted for centuries - and showed a familiarity with the vernacular, trade terms and practices, geographical knowledge (including local references)..... and managed to persuade the recipients that they were Yorkshire, Somerset, East Anglian, Traveller....... come on!!!
On its own, the familiarity with folklore contained in many of the songs and ballads would be envied by any established folklorist, particularly as many of them were made pre William Thoms, long before the subject was an established discipline and when such information was confined to the handful of scribblings of a few antiquarians.
Your theories are far to important, and I believe, misleading, to be let pass unchallenged - sorry again.
"my own conclusion is that the vast majority of them originated in these printed forms in towns under commercial conditions"
This is the statement you need to explain fuly - so far I have only seen you state it - without qualification.
How can you be so sure these songs were not taken from an existing oral tradition and adapted for an urban market? This is what we were categorically told by somebody who was selling ballads in rural Ireland in the 19303-40s; we even had him describe the ballad printing/selling process. Why should rural Britain have been any different?

Jim Carroll