Mudcat Café message #3344107 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #22617   Message #3344107
Posted By: Jim Carroll
27-Apr-12 - 03:36 PM
Thread Name: Origin: High Germany
Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
"However, only the untutored geniuses among them will produce tales and songs of outstanding excellence"
Seems to suggest a composing elite - not sure about this - I tend to think the "excellence" more likely came from the edges being worn off the songs by the oral tradition, rather than being put there in the first place.
Quite often the songs survived, not because they were "excellent", but because the subject matter, or the references were relevant to the communities.
There are enough examples here in the West of Ireland of a large song-making repertoire. Undoubtedly the main driving force for this was a rich oral tradition; a template which acted as a pattern for new songs to be made.
As we don't know who made these songs, it would be dangerous to attribute them to "geniuses" - many surviving songs suggest that this is far from the truth.
"and how likely it would be for his or her song to spread throughout the country without the aid of print."
The fact that one of the most important communities in Britain and Ireland for the preservation and passing on of songs was the 'pre-literate' Travellers, suggests that print, while playing some part, was not by any means vital.
The most stylish singer we recorded (and also the one with the largest repertoire) was Tipperary Traveller, Mary Delaney - from a totally non-literate background, and also blind from birth - a phenomenal singer with a phenomenal repertoire.
In the 70s, collector, the late Tom Munnelly took us to record Martin Howley, a labourer/singer living on the Burren in North Clare, who gave us 'Knight William' - the only Irish version of Child 74 (which he confusingly called 'The Old Armchair' from the first line "Knight William was sitting on his old armchair").
Martin learned it from a non-literate Travelling woman who was called Mrs 'Stotered' because of her fondness for strong drink she used to greet people with the words "I'm stotered again).
His not-too-far-away neighbours, the Flanagans, described how, when Travellers were in the area, all farmwork would be abandoned and they would go off to learn songs, sometimes for a week at a time.
Martin and the Flanagans can be heard on our double CD of Clare singers, 'Around the Hills of Clare', available on the internet.
Also available is our double CD of Traveller singers, 'From Puck to Appleby' which includes a description of ballad selling in rural Ireland in the 1940s by a man who was part of the trade with his mother (this has an hilarious description of the speaker attempting to teach the tune of a song to a prospective punter who "shoved a pound note in my top pocket every time I sang it")
Please don't look on this as the hard sell - all the proceeds for both of these go to the Irish Traditional Music Archive)
Incidentally - an interesting footnote to songwriting in this town.
Ten years ago a local Councillor campaigned and had built a resource centre, for elderly people, a creche and an advice centre - it was opened by the then President of Ireland, Mary Robinson.
On Tuesday last, exactly ten years later, an anonymous handwritten poem/song was posted in the windows of several shops in praise of the centre - the singing tradition may be dead, but it's not going to lie down without a fight.
Sorry Steve - your "hacks" by your own description, were not skilled writers, and skilful novel writing of a convincing nature requires a great deal of research - not available to your 'tradition writers' (sic)
"Who said anything about fooling anyone?"
The fooling came from being able to convince a Norfolk singer that Barbara Allen was a local girl - or from anywhere where a song took root and came to be considered "from these parts".
That was a skill I really can't see your "hacks" possessing in any great quantity.
Still no answers I C
Jim Carroll