Mudcat Café message #4032654 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157878   Message #4032654
Posted By: GUEST,Pseudonymous
06-Feb-20 - 06:42 PM
Thread Name: Dave Harker, Fakesong
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
Regarding Brian's discussion (1.54; 2.14), he makes a great many sensible points.

May I provide the context and the full quotation from Harker?

Harker is taking Sharp up on his discussion of 'continuity', one of his three principles relating to the 'evolution' of the folk song. Sharp argues that a song could remain the same i.e. continuous, against potential arguments that it would get altered because people did not have very good memories. Harker says Sharp provides only 2 examples, one of which involves 2 women who lived in different places, but both of whom sang note by note a tune learned from mummers 30 years earlier. Harker thinks that probably the two women had heard the same group of mummers. He argues that the mummers (whom he regards as 'professional' therefore had a part in the dissemination of that piece of culture. I think his point stands whether or not they did hear the same troupe. He is arguing against Sharp's romantic picture of isolated, self sufficient villages and 'amateur' untrained folk-singers as well as the logic of Sharp's argument, I think.

Harker actually says: 'No consideration is given to the idea that it was the mummers and the broadsides which were the essential elements of cultural continuity and dissemination. Professionalism and commercial song-culture were, evidently, to be discounted'.

So taking up the idea of this being somehow 'opposite' to what Sharp wrote, we have to ask whether Sharp considered the idea whether mummers and broadsides were *essential* elements of cultural continuity and dissemination. If Sharp did consider this idea, then it is fair to say that Harker got it wrong. With respect, I'm not sure that Sharp did. How far this matters is another question, of course!

I think what Harker might be trying to chip away at here is that thread of folkloric thinking that sees 'folk' as being outside or untouched by the world of trade, professionalism, commerce etc?

Brian is right that Sharp doesn't seem to have admired ballad writers in general; but I cannot rate his literary judgement as he says ballads are simple and direct without subtlety: 'like Shakespeare'. Hmm. Interesting view of Shakespeare.