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Dave Harker, Fakesong

Vic Smith 10 Feb 20 - 08:39 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 10 Feb 20 - 08:32 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 10 Feb 20 - 08:09 AM
Brian Peters 10 Feb 20 - 07:38 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Feb 20 - 07:29 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 10 Feb 20 - 07:20 AM
Brian Peters 10 Feb 20 - 06:29 AM
Brian Peters 10 Feb 20 - 06:29 AM
Vic Smith 10 Feb 20 - 06:23 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 10 Feb 20 - 06:22 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Feb 20 - 03:04 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Feb 20 - 06:17 PM
Brian Peters 09 Feb 20 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Feb 20 - 05:42 PM
Steve Gardham 09 Feb 20 - 05:37 PM
Joe Offer 09 Feb 20 - 03:47 PM
GUEST,jag 09 Feb 20 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,jag 09 Feb 20 - 03:03 PM
Steve Gardham 09 Feb 20 - 03:02 PM
Brian Peters 09 Feb 20 - 02:56 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Feb 20 - 02:23 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Feb 20 - 01:56 PM
Lighter 09 Feb 20 - 01:50 PM
Steve Gardham 09 Feb 20 - 12:48 PM
Brian Peters 09 Feb 20 - 11:57 AM
Brian Peters 09 Feb 20 - 11:55 AM
Brian Peters 09 Feb 20 - 11:11 AM
GUEST,jag 09 Feb 20 - 10:59 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Feb 20 - 10:07 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Feb 20 - 09:27 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Feb 20 - 09:20 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Feb 20 - 09:14 AM
Richard Mellish 09 Feb 20 - 09:05 AM
Steve Gardham 09 Feb 20 - 08:55 AM
Jack Campin 09 Feb 20 - 08:45 AM
Steve Gardham 09 Feb 20 - 08:16 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Feb 20 - 07:09 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Feb 20 - 07:06 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Feb 20 - 06:50 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Feb 20 - 06:45 AM
Jack Campin 09 Feb 20 - 06:41 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Feb 20 - 06:34 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Feb 20 - 06:30 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Feb 20 - 06:27 AM
Brian Peters 09 Feb 20 - 04:46 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Feb 20 - 03:42 AM
GUEST,jag 09 Feb 20 - 02:38 AM
GUEST,jag 09 Feb 20 - 02:35 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Feb 20 - 12:38 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 09 Feb 20 - 12:10 AM
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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith
Date: 10 Feb 20 - 08:39 AM

Second question mark should have been a smiley! What went wrong??


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 10 Feb 20 - 08:32 AM

Hello Brian,

Interesting comment as usual. I absolutely share Gammon's impatience with 'barely digested Harker'.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 10 Feb 20 - 08:09 AM

1 In fact it almost seems fair to describe the belief that "Fakesong" is a book about fakes and forgeries as an "idee fixe".

2 To the best of my knowledge nobody on this site can claim to be either a peasant/member of the common folk *as Sharp defined them* or a 'remnant' of such peasantry, though as Sharp was not really clear about what he meant by 'remnant', it is difficult to be clear here. I am aware of shifting definitions and emphases through time (and you don't need Harker's historical survey to be aware of this, though it certainly brings the changes into focus) and that within certain definitions of 'traditional' present parties may be able to lay claim to be 'traditional' or 'revival' singers. But they are not Sharp's 'folk'.

3 It might be worth reading what Brian wrote with some care: in many cases he admits that Sharp tinkered, and offers excuses for it or attempts to offer pleas in mitigation (hate courtroom metaphors - but too lazy to think of another). In some cases he agrees with Harker. This shows commendable open-mindedness.

4 Nobody as yet as considered what Sharp and/or his various collaborators did with the **music**. He *harmonised* it. He set the songs down with clear and unvarying metres. Referring to Sharpe's own field observations, he does not change key mid way through a song (or more subtly in the course of a song as has been commented on in the work of some 20th century 'traditional' singers). He does not change the tune in the course of a song or from iteration to iteration. He selected one tune for each song.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 10 Feb 20 - 07:38 AM

"Fakesong" is not a book about fakes and forgeries, despite a widespread 'idee fausse' that it is."

The alleged 'fakes and forgeries' were a key part of Harker's attack on the concept of folk song. What I've tried to demonstrate was that, in this respect at least, the scholarship was extremely poor and agenda-driven.

One of Vic Gammon's complaints is of having "barely digested Harker fed back" to him by academics who wish to invalidate the whole field of folk music studies. Steve Roud's work is in a different league of scholarship.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Feb 20 - 07:29 AM

"I predicted excremental comment."

"Try, for example, searching that database for the words "Vic Smith"."
You'd forgive a site as good as that a few errors :-)

"What Brian has, of course, demonstrated is, in some detail, that "Fakesong. The Manufacture of Folksong 1700 to the Present Day" by Dave Harker is not a book about fakes and forgeries, despite a widespread 'idee fausse' that it is."
And there it is
You must tell fortunes
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 10 Feb 20 - 07:20 AM

What Brian has, of course, demonstrated is, in some detail, that "Fakesong. The Manufacture of Folksong 1700 to the Present Day" by Dave Harker is not a book about fakes and forgeries, despite a widespread 'idee fausse' that it is.

I have made this point several times.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 10 Feb 20 - 06:29 AM

Second question mark should have been a smiley! What went wrong??


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 10 Feb 20 - 06:29 AM

Well, didn't you say earlier in the thread that you're now laying claim to 'traditional singer' status, Vic? ?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith
Date: 10 Feb 20 - 06:23 AM

I would like to make clear that I am referring only to what appears to be happening in England; the magnificent 'Kist o' Riches' site seems to indicate that Scotland doesn't have the same miasma hanging over its traditional music
True, but at the same time, there are some pretty dubious characters represented in that worthy collection. Try, for example, searching that database for the words "Vic Smith".


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 10 Feb 20 - 06:22 AM

I predicted excremental comment.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Feb 20 - 03:04 AM

"I enjoyed reading it."
I would like to add my thanks to Brian's posts - they have helped to finally put to bed everything I found offensive about 'Fakesong' when I first read it - it took me several goes when I first tried it
I had to put it aside for considerably lengths of time on several occasions because of the anger and frustration it evoked.
It reminds me of a number of occasions we have been approached by University or College students seeking advice on folk song
Most were genuinely interested in the subject, but some obviously wished to impress their examiners and chose to do so by trying to say something 'different'
Harker seems to have done this by choosing to largely ignore the advice he was given and by distorting or exaggerating the known facts to an often outrageous degree.
Brian's step-by-step placing his claims beside what actually happened puts this approach in a nutshell

At the time, Fakesong was more or less rejected by the committed folk enthusiasts - unfortunately, now that the survival of Folk Song as a seriously regarded art form depends on clarity and a clear understanding of the uniqueness and social importance of the genre, a few seem to clung on to Harker's distortions and, in doing so, have added to the "nobody knows what folk song is any more" fog that hangs over the folk scene like an old London Pea-souper.
I'm afraid I would put Steve Roud's otherwise admirable, 'Folk Song in England' and his (and other's) redefining of the term 'folk' to include "everything the folk sang", very much a part of that 'foggy' problem.

As the founders of the 'Irish Tradition Music Archive' appear to have decided when they were setting up their invaluable organisation, the best way to guarantee a future for your music was to make sure that you yourselves understood it in ll its significance and uniqueness
That is why they have helped create a situation where Irish traditional music has been more-or-less guaranteed an at least two generation future

I would like to make clear that I am referring only to what appears to be happening in England; the magnificent 'Kist o' Riches' site seems to indicate that Scotland doesn't have the same miasma hanging over its traditional music
The mammoth Carpenter Collection can only help add to that clarity (as did the magnificent 8 volume Greig/Duncan collection before it) though it would be interesting to imagine what kind of 'jobbie' Harker would have deposited on them had he got his hands on them !
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 06:17 PM

QUINCE
Well, we will have such a prologue; and it shall be written in eight and six.

BOTTOM
No, make it two more; let it be written in eight and eight.

I don't know where I read the idea, but the above representation of a couple of 'peasants' seems to me to potentially contradict Sharp's view of the unlettered folksong creator, with no means of discussing his art, though to be fair they are discussing a prologue not a ballad and Shakespeare is making fun of them. And to be fair this is perhaps not quite as early as Sharp imagines folk songs go back? Not sure about this. But look at the metre they choose.

The focus on meter interested me because it links words and tunes. The one fits the other (and if it doesn't, Sharp will alter it to make published versions more usable).

It was published in 1600. Many ideas in the play the extract is from came from Ovid's Metamorphoses, which had been translated into English. But a host of other sources are involved. This shows one way that relatively themes from 'classics' got disseminated in those times. Because if you could afford a penny to get in, you could go to the theatre in Shakespeare's time, and lots of people did.

If you have not seen this before it might interest you.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 06:12 PM

I'm pretty sure I remember some research about songs having alternative rude and clean versions depending on which members of the community (eg mixed company vs all female) were present. Barre Toelken, maybe?


In 'Sweet Kitty' (a song of seduction) Kitty smiles and says of her outwitted lover, "there goes my beau." When the singer, Emma Overd, first met Cecil Sharp she twirled him around in an impromptu dance in the street while calling to onlookers, "Here's my beau, come at last!". I wonder whether she enjoyed an internal giggle when she sang 'Sweet Kitty' for him...


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 05:42 PM

Actually, as I think I said already, just about the first thing I ever learned about Cecil Sharp was that he took the rude bits out of folk songs and since I must have been about 13 at the time this idea definitely did not come out of Harker.

Also, folk discussions being what they are, there are disputes about whether some sexual interpretations (eg some made by Vic Gammon) reflect how the original singers (whoever they may have been) or perhaps just subsequent ones (….) would have put on the song. Once again a grey areas with differing opinions.

But I think mostly we have managed to discuss, not fall out. And that is a good thing.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 05:37 PM

'I for one am happy that what we sung at primary school in the 1950's was influenced by that movement rather than having justr posh songs aimed at posh kids. (plus Hymns Ancient & Modern ...)'

Me too, jag.
The first song I ever sang in a folk club was the version of Sally Brown I'd learnt at school. Wraggle-taggle Gypsies, Jolly Wagoner, the Keeper and all the rest must have contributed to my early love of folk song.

I also had no qualms at recording the versions sung by farm labourers who had learnt them at school, along with those they had learnt in their communities.

Sharp didn't alter much of The Keeper though we kids had no idea of the real meaning. I sometimes wonder if Sharp did.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 03:47 PM

I still hear many songs that learned as a kid, but I notice now that they have lyrics that I'd never sing to a ten-year-old. So, I wonder if the versions I heard as a kid of "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and "Little Brown Jug" and many others were bowdlerized, or if I just didn't notice the naughty parts. And are the cleaned-up versions inauthentic, or did songs have cleaned-up versions for the kids from their very beginnings?
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 03:25 PM

About the lobbying. I found Harker's take on the early years of the FSS interesting. I haven't tracked down Hubert Parry's Inaugural Address yet but am intrigued by Harker's quotes. In searching for it I was amused to see that the first few issues of the Journal used close to a black-letter font on the title page but changed before long to something less Germanic. I wonder how the meeting about that went.

Harker makes his big political point, presaged in the quote from Marx and Engels at the start of the section, about the middle classes telling the common folk what was good for them. OK, yes, but they couldn't help being middle-class and as such had a chance of getting the ear of the other middle-class people who were setting up the curriculum. Promoting the music of the common folk over the 'commercial music-hall rubbish' is a bit like the current 'political elite' thinking salty and sugary foods pushed by commercial firms should be taxed so that we eat more fruit and vegatables. Or, better, the move from the 1960's on to get fiction into schools that wasn't all by middle-class writers about the things that middle-class kids do.

I for one am happy that what we sung at primary school in the 1950's was influenced by that movement rather than having justr posh songs aimed at posh kids. (plus Hymns Ancient & Modern ...)


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 03:03 PM

Me too. Especially as I had just read that section of "Fakesong" and recognised that some rebuttal of what is said required detailed knowledge.

Some sticks with which Harker beats Sharp rely on Sharp's own writings. It seems a fair point that many who sang for Sharp were not peasants by any definition. Similarly it seems to be Sharp's own accounts that indicate that some songs may have come from early 19C 'commercial' sources. All credit to Sharp for recording information that went against his own theories. Transparency rather than fakery. I wonder if Sharp's story for the lecture circuit and lobbying for folk song in education avoided some of the loose ends in his actual collecting (and recording for posterity).


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 03:02 PM

If you want a good insight into Sharp's politics and leanings the Marson biography is very good.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 02:56 PM

Thanks folks, it was fun to do.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 02:23 PM

Should have put Baring-Gould, of course!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 01:56 PM

Me too. Thank you.

I now fully accept that all the lyrics in the books Sharp produced for schools were bona fide as made by an illiterate peasant without any formal training whose mind was formed solely by the ups and downs of life. :)

Plainly Wikipedia is woefully wrong when it speaks of Sharp bowdlerising materials for schools.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 01:50 PM

Me too.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 12:48 PM

Thanks for that, Brian
I enjoyed reading it.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 11:57 AM

[Harker v Sharp & Marson continued]

To deal quickly with the other cited examples of editorial tampering:

Fakesong “the direct confrontation in As I walked through the Meadows is taken back into a passively-recorded verbal exchange, defusing the live conflict.”
What actually happened: In verse 1, “I says” is changed to “I said”, and “said she” to “she answered.” Hardly altering the sense of the exchange!

Fakesong “In The Trees they do grow high, the girl is deprived of her active part in putting an end to the boy's growing.”
What actually happened: The line “she put an end to his growing” is altered to “she saw an end to his growing.” It’s true this does alter the sense, but Sharp and Marson were no doubt aware from other versions of the song that any idea of the young male protagonist having been killed by his wife ran contrary to the standard plot (“cruel death put an end...” is the broadside text). Similarly, where Harry Richards sang “his grief was growing grief” (sic), Marson changed it to the more conventional “his grave was growing green”. Again Marson’s intervention is mentioned in the song notes.

Fakesong “the fulfilled relationship in the original text of Foggy Dew is scrupulously removed into a dream-world of adolescent wish fulfilment; and mawkish sentimentality replaces active physical love wherever necessary.
What actually happened:The claim is correct. But could anyone seriously imagine lines like “come into my bed, my fair pretty maid”, or “there they laid all that long night” getting past the publishers? It’s true that Marson’s rewrite is pretty awful – but again it is explicitly acknowledged in the notes.

Fakesong: Marson's penchant for fairy-stories erupts gratuitously into The Bank of Green Willow - 'For the ship was pixy-held...'
What actually happened: The song notes explain that, as collected in England, variants of this song have a hole in the narrative where an explanation of the ship’s becalming ought to be. It is explained clearly that Marson (while leaving the collected verses intact) has written an additional verse inspired by Kinloch’s text, which mentions an intervention by ‘fey folk’. Nothing to do with fairy stories.

It would be tempting to ask, “Is that the best you can do?” Out of 27 songs, Fakesong is able to identify just seven examples to justify the claim of a widespread ‘doctoring’ of texts: three instances of bowdlerization (two directly acknowledged by he authors), one filled plot hole, one correction to a more standard narrative, one collation incorrectly claimed as Marson’s composition, one trivial amendment, and two apparently fabricated examples. It is also clearly untrue to claim that Marson “only occasionally acknowledged what he was actually doing” and that it was his practice to “extract [...] parts of the texts [from] the song-culture.” Most of the texts were preserved in a form very close to the original.

Well, that occupied a wet and windy afternoon!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 11:55 AM

Meanwhile, in the parallel universe where we consider Fakesong's treatment of Sharp and Marson, Pseudonymous wrote:

"Giving kids songs with lyrics largely by Marson and letting them think or teaching them that these were folk songs passed down through the ages strikes me as intellectually dishonest.

I wonder what evidence you have for the preposterous claim that lyrics were "largely written by Marson"? At a guess, the 'evidence' will consist of "Harker says...", but even Harker goes nowhere near saying such a thing. Besides, the analysis presented in Fakesong of Sharp's and Marson's editing in Folk Songs in Somerset (not BTW a publication aimed at 'kids' as far as I'm aware) is very thin. Bearman has conclusively debunked the specific claims regarding Geordie and Wraggle-Taggle Gypsies – I’ve checked, and he is absolutely correct – and, while I was at it, I took a look at the other examples.

Harker comes down hard on the published text of The Unquiet Grave, of which he writes: “whole verses are evidently composed, and others are strangely jumbled... Ironically, the new verses are laced with sensationalism and bourgeois sentimentality of the most vulgar kind.” He could, of course, have checked Sharp’s notes to the song, which state: ”Mrs Ree’s words have been supplemented from other versions.” Sure enough, if you check Sharp’s and Baring-Gould’s manuscripts, you can find all four of the added verses, pretty well word-for word, in alternative variants of the song . Neither Sharp nor Marson made up any of them.

Then there’s the complaint that “The mildly erotic implications of what had been the sixth verse of Sign of the Bonny Blue Bell are enough to ensure its excision.” Verse 6 reads:
‘On Tuesday night when I go to bed
With my precious jewel that I lately wed
Farewell and adieu to my maidenhead...’
‘Mildly erotic’ by modern standards, maybe, but quite explicit in meaning and not publishable in a mainstream songbook in 1905.

Of Sweet Kitty, Harker writes that it “seems to have been patched up with bits of Mrs Overd's version.” No shit, Sherlock! The song notes are open in stating that Mrs Overd’s words were fragmentary and that Marson had “endeavoured to reconstruct the song.” So no subterfuge there, then, although the notes don’t mention that the song has had a verse cut in which Kitty offers her lover ‘kisses and comforts’ before creeping from his bedroom. The bowdlerization is again perfectly understandable, though I will admit that Marson’s rewritten lines are pretty execrable..

More follows shortly...


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 11:11 AM

"If the collectors Harker covers had not collected and mediated what would we have?"

An immeasurably poorer body of documented songs. But this would be of no significance to someone who didn't like folk song, nor considered it a valid concept.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 10:59 AM

If the collectors Harker covers had not collected and mediated what would we have?

Nearly finished the book. Moving onto Lloyd was a relief.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 10:07 AM

"and 'fakery' or 'dishonesty'."
I was addressing my question to Steve Gardham who has been using both terms as if they were going out of fashion from quite early on
As a singer, I used Purslow extensively - he did exartly what Steve's "fakers" did before him so why not apply the same insults to him ?
I have said from the beginning that 'mediation' was common and acknowledged, my point regarding Buchan has always been that he was doing nothing all the others were doing - there was no rule-book to say that shouldn't, which is why suggesting that they were dishonest is totally wrong

Dragging Bert Lloyd into this is as ridiculous as it comes - basically Bert was a singer looking for songs who wrote in order to inspire others to do the same
For me, the most inspirational expert on ballads by far was MacColl, not because he had the Freemason's handshake or had studied them minutely from behind his desk, but because as a singer, he approached them analytically in order to bring them back to life again as what they are - stories with tunes which had strong roots into the society that produced them
He breathed fresh life into 175 of them and made them work for 20th century audiences over and over again   
One of the greatest problems I have at present is indexing and annotating Ewan's work on the ballads - once you start listening to his talks it becomes impossible not to become totally engrossed.

The best analysis I have read on Motherwall's work is William B McCarthy's 'William Motherwell as Field Collector' published in The Folk Music Journal 1987 (Vol. 5, No 3)
Jim


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 09:27 AM

sorry obvs we stand on shoulders not tread … grey cells batteries low again.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 09:20 AM

Harker does cite Murray and also on Buchan it would appear James M'Conechy (1881) in Motherwell, (1881). As I said, I didn't find the referencing wholly useful here, though compared with A L Loyd for example, it's a dream. To the point where I would have to look in Motherwell to be sure what if anything about Buchan Harker found there!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 09:14 AM

Thanks, Steve, on several counts. You are very kind!

You have clarified something that Harker didn't make clear, or at least I didn't find it clear and I did read it through a couple of times. So a thumbsdown for Harker for me on that.

Here's where I found the quotation about Child and Buchan:

https://muse.jhu.edu/chapter/288234/pdf

Fourth line down? Not sure about the authors' p of v; they refer to Child as a 'Godhead'.

But it's in the cannot afford to get at just now category of online resource. :(


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 09:05 AM

Jim said
> Then why use terms like "fake" and "dishonesty", and why imply that they did what they did for money (there's little solid evidence for any of these accusations here)
If these people did what they did for the reasons you and others suggest, why isn't Purslow guilty of the same things ?<

Pseud has already pointed out the difference between mediation (which can take many forms for many reasons, good or bad, money being one of them) and 'fakery' or 'dishonesty'.
> The term 'mediation' is not synonymous with 'fakery' or 'dishonesty'. There is no contradiction between opposing 'fakes' and accepting mediation.<

As for Purslow: here is the beginning of his Foreword to The Constant Lovers (the only one of the series of which I have the original edition rather than the revised edition):

> Like its predecessors - "Marrowbones" and "The Wanton Seed" - this is essentially a book of songs to sing; accordingly I have presented them in as complete a form as possible. A great many of the texts could not be given exactly as the singers sang them as they were incomplete to some degree and, in one or two cases, almost incomprehensible; neverthless, I have endeavoured to retain everything I could of what was noted down from the singers.<

That is clear as crystal. Purslow mediated. He explained his mediation (though not the details of which bits of text came from where, thus giving the editors of the new editions a lot of work). He did not fake. Whereas some earlier editors did fake, though we may never know how much of any given ballad was fake and how much was genuine.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 08:55 AM

The sheer volume of material Buchan produced would have daunted even him. How sure are you he wasn't part of the plot? You need to look at at least a number of ballads in detail and do some serious number-crunching to be aware of the extent of Buchan's creative capabilities, but the easy one is that most of Buchan's ballads are at least half as long again as anyone else's and they are 'eked out' with Child's 'nauseous repetition' overdoing the incremental repetition that is naturally found in the ballads, and overdoing the commonplaces, and adding in completely fresh material found in no other versions. Scott did this of course, but nowhere near to the extent Buchan did it.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 08:45 AM

Sharpe was totally intolerant of mythologizing bollocks (privately he thought Scott was a pompous twat). It would have taken some pretty good fakery to get past him.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 08:16 AM

'the "two men called Laing and Sharpe" were Scotland's most scholarly antiquarians. The manuscript could not have fallen into better hands. Why didn't the project go ahead?' Jack.

The project did go ahead. It was Sharpe and Laing who saw Buchan's 1828 ms/proof through the press. They professed to have edited it but all this amounted to was anglicising some of Buchan's inconsistent Scoticisms.

Presumably Harker got his potted bio of PB from Walker's detailed biography, of which both Jim and I have copies.

I don't think Child outright uses the words 'unscrupulous faker' in ESPB, but I could check. More probably in his correspondence somewhere, but it might take me a while to find it.

Pseu, if you let me have your email address I can easily scan the rest of the index and send you it. My email address is in lots of places all over the internet but it starts with gardhams and ends with hotmaildotcom.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 07:09 AM

Somebody asked what I meant by Jackanory. So I answered that eventually.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 07:06 AM

What do the songs tell us about the people? Well, let's start with what Gerould said. Harker, as it happens, uses a passage that I had noted down when reading Gerould for myself. This is Gerould's view of 'the folk' based on his reading of the songs:

there is frequently displayed an insensitiveness to suffering that appals nerves more finely drawn, an impassivity in the face of life's worst outrages that reveals the equilibrium of a childlike and healthy race. Vices and virtues, in so far as they motivate ballad stories, are the vices and virtues of rather primitive folk; the strong sensations that animate them are what would be needed to move their simple hearts.

For me, it's the 'equilibrium of a childlike and healthy race' that cries out to be unpicked here.

Further, the whole thing seems to be an example of Jack a Nory. This terms comes from a nursery song I learned as a child (not doubt as a result of some mediator packaging it up in a book for sale to conscientious parents):

I'll tell you the story
Of Jack a Nory,
And now my story's begun;
I'll tell you another
Of Jack and his brother,
And now my story is done

It was later used as the title of a BBC TV children's story programme.

I'm also a bit confused: are we supposed to regard the mediators with reverence as giants upon whose shoulders we tread, or as fools trying to catch fog in a bottle?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 06:50 AM

Jack: That last post is a gem.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 06:45 AM

@ Brian: yes, this quotation sums up Harker thinks of Sharp's educational project - as outlined and justified in 'Some Thoughts' - quite neatly. It was re-reading Julia Bishop in Roud that reminded me that this was the overall thrust of that work.

The potential issues Sharp's project raises in my mind are somewhat at a tangent but not wholly irrelevant.

I was once impressed with the idea of a 'spiral curriculum', the idea that whatever level you were teaching your subject at you could teach it with intellectual honesty. Giving kids songs with lyrics largely by Marson and letting them think or teaching them that these were folk songs passed down through the ages strikes me as intellectually dishonest.

Marson seems to have been an interesting character in his own right.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 06:41 AM

I just looked up mediation and related words in the OED. Seems the original mediator was Jesus Christ mediating between God and Man; later applied to the Pope's role; and it is first used in something like Harker's sense by Chaucer, describing his role as a scientific popularizer in his treatise on the astrolabe.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 06:34 AM

@ Steve: you asked which index I was lacking. It is only part of the index to Roud and Bishop's History of English Folk Song. The one in my copy ends on page 740 half way through 'k'. It is irritating, but, as I said, it was 2nd hand and not too expensive.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 06:30 AM

It also seems to me that when some of the songs were first composed they were themselves examples of mediation. Songs based on historical events might count, whether written soon after the events in question or later on.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 06:27 AM

Jag: I agree with you on all the points in your latest post. I even wondered whether he cut out paragraphs to keep the page count down! Otherwise, Harker is a good writer, even if somewhat bilious in tone at times.

@ Steve:

1 I knew people would challenge Harker on some detail! Harker definitely says Buchan was 'acquainted with' Scott. I think Harker might agree with you that Buchan knew of the 'fashion' for antiquarianism and wouldn't quibble at all with your suppositions regarding Buchan's reading matter.

2 Of course you are right not to have anything against 'mediation' per se, since in a general sense it seems inevitable.

As I mentioned above, the earliest use of the term 'mediation' within folkloric studies that I know if Vic Gammon's. He was at the time being supervised by a historian, so it appears to be a term used by historians. If they don't use the term, they certainly use the general concept and it is taught in school history at age 16 if not before. Students are taught to look at primary sources and discuss whether/what their bias was. So two eye-witness or contemporary accounts of the Peterloo Riots/Massacres would be very different, for example, depending on the point of view of the personage involved.

3 The term 'mediation' is not synonymous with 'fakery' or 'dishonesty'. There is no contradiction between opposing 'fakes' and accepting mediation.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 04:46 AM

Re the concept of 'mediation', Dave Harker wrote in 1972 (Cecil Sharp in Somerset, FMJ vol. 2)

"There you have it, "folk song" as mediated by Cecil Sharp, to be used as "raw material" or "instrument", being extracted from a tiny fraction of the rural proletariat and to be imposed upon town and country alike for the people's own good..."


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 03:42 AM

"I have no axe to grind over mediation per se"
Then why use terms like "fake" and "dishonesty", and why imply that they did what they did for money (there's little solid evidence for any of these accusations here)
If these people did what they did for the reasons you and others suggest, why isn't Purslow guilty of the same things ?

Once again we are as far away from discussions the songs themselves as we ever were
It's like someone who dedicates his or her like proving that Shakespere's plays were written by Marlow, or DeVere, or the Earl of Oxford.... without having the slightest interest in Hamlet or King Lear
I have noticed several people who have approached this argument like hungry dog fighting over a bone, but who obviously neither understand nor like the songs themselves or the singers
In the end, the only real evidence we have are the song texts that have been passed on to us across the centuries - everything else is like trying to put fog in a milk-bottle - utterly pointless
I believe there is more to be learned of the ballads and songs from an hour of listening to what Walter Pardon or 'Pop's' Johnny Connors, or Duncan Williamson. or Mikeen McCarthy, or Mary Delaney.... had to say about the songs they sang, than there is spending a lifetime trying to plough through a library full of books written largely in "a language that the stranger does not know"
The greatest gap we have in our knowledge of folksongs has always been the shortage of information from the singers themselves - reading through threads like this that treats the subject matter academically and in a vacuum is an example of why that is the case
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 02:38 AM

Sorry, posting on phone. ... put the bios into tables so that the reader could concentrate on his overall thesis in a shorter main text.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 02:35 AM

About the biographies. The whole book reads as if Harker made a set of notes for each collector set out in the order that he covers their live and work and then went through writing about each against the background of his conclusions.

The overlong paragraphs are at their worst when he covers a group of collectors. We get the parents and place of birth for each all in one long paragraph. Then another long paragraph with a later part of all their biographies, and so on.

Such individual biographical notes would be really useful (and would be easier for an expert to check for ‘fairness’. If the work was for a science PhD a supervisor might have advised him to put the bios in a table so that the reader could concentrate on his overall ‘thesis’.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 12:38 AM

I'm sorry to but in: Is it correct or not that Child called Buchan an 'unscrupulous faker'?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 09 Feb 20 - 12:10 AM

NB Harker gets the high kilted bit in.


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