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Dave Harker, Fakesong

Jim Carroll 03 Feb 20 - 06:48 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 03 Feb 20 - 07:00 AM
Vic Smith 03 Feb 20 - 08:09 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 03 Feb 20 - 08:12 AM
Vic Smith 03 Feb 20 - 08:29 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 03 Feb 20 - 08:34 AM
Jack Campin 03 Feb 20 - 08:38 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 03 Feb 20 - 09:36 AM
Brian Peters 03 Feb 20 - 09:43 AM
GUEST,jag 03 Feb 20 - 10:05 AM
Jack Campin 03 Feb 20 - 10:09 AM
GUEST,jag 03 Feb 20 - 10:10 AM
Brian Peters 03 Feb 20 - 10:12 AM
Brian Peters 03 Feb 20 - 10:22 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Feb 20 - 11:09 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Feb 20 - 11:11 AM
Vic Smith 03 Feb 20 - 11:23 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Feb 20 - 11:32 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Feb 20 - 11:39 AM
Steve Gardham 03 Feb 20 - 12:05 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Feb 20 - 12:32 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Feb 20 - 01:10 PM
GUEST,Lighter 03 Feb 20 - 01:13 PM
Brian Peters 03 Feb 20 - 01:43 PM
Brian Peters 03 Feb 20 - 01:46 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 03 Feb 20 - 02:53 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Feb 20 - 02:54 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 03 Feb 20 - 03:24 PM
GUEST 03 Feb 20 - 03:40 PM
Jack Campin 03 Feb 20 - 03:49 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Feb 20 - 04:48 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 03 Feb 20 - 04:49 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Feb 20 - 05:03 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Feb 20 - 05:04 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 03 Feb 20 - 07:43 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Feb 20 - 02:59 AM
GUEST,jag 04 Feb 20 - 04:14 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 04:40 AM
GUEST,jag 04 Feb 20 - 05:36 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Feb 20 - 05:44 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 05:47 AM
GUEST,jag 04 Feb 20 - 05:52 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 06:01 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 06:03 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Feb 20 - 06:03 AM
Jack Campin 04 Feb 20 - 06:11 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 06:11 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 06:12 AM
GUEST,jag 04 Feb 20 - 06:45 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 06:48 AM
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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 06:48 AM

Jon
Delighted to hear it's being reprinted
The BBC collection is the most neglected folk asset Britain has - still basically unused, largely thanks to Kennedy's claim of ownership, but mainly thanks to disinterest by both the BBC and EFDSS
Up to my transferring the EFDSS recordings onto tape for the V.W.M. Library, they existed outside the Beeb only on very fragile discs which were constantly being played unsupervised on crude equipment by anybody who requested them - many were damaged and some were stolen
Anybody attempting to issue them publicly had to fight Kennedy for their use and usually had to pay him
I believe Bob Copper had a great deal of difficulty issuing his 'Songs and Southern Breezes' album on Topic
Many of them still remain woefully unused and it is sad to think that so little interest has survived in them that that will probably remain the case
Some time in the 90s we attended a library lecture at C#Sharp House given by a young American, Craig Fees, who had researched the project and had come up with masses of information - it would be interesting to know if he had done anything further with his researches
It would also be interesting to know if the recording team had interviewed any of the singers and if those recordings survived

My strongest memory of the project is a conversation we one had with Seamus Ennis, one of the main collectors, in a bar here in Miltown Malbay
I said to him, "I believe you worked with Peter Kennedy"
After a very pregnant silence he spat out, "That man's a thief"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 07:00 AM

Thanks for the recommendation Vic. I'll put it on my ever-expanding list. Jon Dudley made some valued contributions to this thread.

I've just ordered a book/author Steve suggested further up this thread (not the first time I've taken up one of Steve's suggestions, may I add) by David C Fowler.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 08:09 AM

Life is full of funny coincidences. I have just discovered this minute that the reprint of Songs & Southern Breezes has been sent out for review by LT magazine and that they are sending it out to a reviewer.

Now you have to guess who the reviewer is!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 08:12 AM

Bob Copper's A Song For Every Season contains the words and music of forty-seven songs from the Copper Family repertoire - the 'Jim Copper Song Book' - with Bob's stories of his family and of rural life in Sussex, month by month, with illustrations, photographs and reflections. It won the Robert Pitman literature prize in the year of its first publication.

Only £2 on ABE books. Cheaper than Amazon.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 08:29 AM

Cheaper than Amazon but not the book we were talking about.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 08:34 AM

@ Vic ha ha! Not that there is an 'industry' related to the Copper family of course ….

Other publications from the same stable available on Abe Books include

Bob Copper's Sussex
Early to Rise
Watercolours of Sussex past
Across Sussex with Belloc
Songs of Southern Breezez (SIC) (foreword by John Arlott)

Obviously a talented person with a variety of interests.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 08:38 AM

AddALL dynamic search link


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 09:36 AM

And now we've had an ad break (joke joke) perhaps we could return to the topic of the thread, namely a book by Dave Harker called 'Fakesong'?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 09:43 AM

Yes, I can speak for myself, and have indeed done so in the past!

I’ve been meaning for a couple of days to respond to Richard Mellish’s point:
“...there have been various kinds of mediation. Certainly some collectors "improved" their texts to a greater or lesser degree, but there have not been very many total "forgeries"... Wasn't Harker's beef more about the nature of the collecting process rather than anyone faking the actual songs?”

One of the problems of ‘Fakesong’ is precisely its title: the obvious wordplay on ‘folk’ and ‘fake’ was an open goal for any sceptical author in the field with a book to sell, and it’s hardly surprising that Harker chose to use it. However, it does create in the mind of the reader an initial impression that what is to be discussed is the forgery of repertoire, whereas what we get is an attack on an entire concept. In order to pursue that attack, Harker goes for everything he can lay his hands on: outright forgeries, ‘improved’ texts, bowdlerization for publication, selectivity in field collections, dismissal of the influence of print, supposedly cynical and grasping practices by collectors, incorrect class consciousness, the lot (well, all except Bert Lloyd’s emendations, which get off lightly). Then he lumps it all together under the pejorative term, ‘fake’. It’s no wonder quite a lot of readers have been confused and/or annoyed, and that’s before we get to the flaws in the scholarship and the endless appearance of words like ‘bourgeois’ and ‘reactionary’ at every turn, which are off-putting to say the least.

Personally I don’t have a problem with scholars unravelling the editorial and collecting practices of the last three centuries, if it helps us to discover what people actually sang, and if it’s conducted in a spirit of honest curiosity rather than a determination to tear down the temple, and to bend the evidence around one particular narrative. Steve G’s interrogation of Scott, Motherwell and co. as sources is something I look on with interest, not horror, while unpicking Bert Lloyd’s song editing is simply a fascinating puzzle to resolve. Seems to me this kind of work is true to the spirit of Child himself, who strove so hard to drill through the published material to the most authentic texts available.

I agree with Jim that ‘Fakesong’ is not the place to go to find out about songs or singers.   Concluding the chapter on Child, we find: “About the lives, interest and culture of the people who made, re-made and used [these] songs, Child like his predecessors can tell us almost nothing.” But 'Fakesong' tells us almost nothing about them either, except as non-speaking, walk-on parts in a theoretical narrative.

Derek Schofield has already answered Tim’s query regarding Dave Harker’s present whereabouts and activity and, although I haven’t yet read those three books on Tyneside song (published between 2017 and 2019), they look interesting, were favourably reviewed in the FMJ, and represent the author on his home, and perhaps strongest, ground.

2017 was also the year in which Dave Harker had his article ‘Dr Bearman’s “Meticulous Scholarship”’ published in the Folk Music Journal (as ‘correspondence’, and hence not subject to peer review), directly in response to FMJ editor David Atkinson’s comment following Bearman’s death that: “any fair-minded person is bound to admire his meticulous scholarship” and an obituary by Christopher Heppa which alluded to his ‘demolition’ of Harker. It’s worth noting that no serious scholar in the field has disputed Bearman’s statistical critique of Harker’s work – even Vic Gammon, who retains more respect for Harker than most, nonetheless finds Bearman’s work “at it’s best... very good indeed”, though CJB was “not beyond making some myths of his own.” Heppa’s not uncritical obituary is worth reading if you want to get an idea of Bearman’s controversial personality.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 10:05 AM

@Pseudonymous.

Comment in the discussion on Sharp's 'dubbing the negros as of an inferior race' must have been a long way up above and I am not sure what the context was. Harker says that his liberal hosts maintained that it was 'a mere lack of education etc!"

I read your post as I start to read the parts of "Some Conclusions" that I skipped before (because I was mainly interested in the tunes). Sharp is explicit on the first two paragraphs of the first chapter that (at that time) he regarded the characteristics of a nations music as deriving from qualities that are "natural and inborn" in its people and that "those special gifts for which a nation is renowned will usually be conspicious in its lower and unlettered classes" because they are "least affected by extraneous and educational influences".

Harker (on the page, 202, that you point out) says that by 1918 "... the racist residue of his mid Victorian childhood had burst through.... The ranking amongst races may be part of that upbringing but it looks to me like his belief that the nations of Europe were inherently different was more of a contemporary application of Darwinism that he though fundamental enough to be on page 1. In writing about Sharp Harker tends to use the word 'culture' where Sharp seems to have been thinking of something inherent.

I wonder what angle Sharp would have taken on "can white man sing the blues".


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 10:09 AM

Concluding the chapter on Child, we find: “About the lives, interest and culture of the people who made, re-made and used [these] songs, Child like his predecessors can tell us almost nothing.” But 'Fakesong' tells us almost nothing about them either, except as non-speaking, walk-on parts in a theoretical narrative.

See the chapter on pitmen's songs in "One for the Money". The whole point of his discussion is to show how understanding the culture of the mineworkers better gives you a deeper understanding of the songs. (He singles out Ritson as being in some ways more clued up than any of his successors, Lloyd included).


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 10:10 AM

"... that he thought fundamental enough..."


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 10:12 AM

Jack Campin wrote:
"the scope of Harker's project is impressive. The bibliography of OftM alone is a colossal piece of work. So please lay off the glib sniping."

As I stated before, Harker had clearly done his research, covered a lot of ground and processed a lot of information. My problem is that the copious quotes from his sources (at least as regards B-G, Sharp, etc) are very carefully selected and edited, and often misleading.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 10:22 AM

"See the chapter on pitmen's songs in "One for the Money". The whole point of his discussion is to show how understanding the culture of the mineworkers better gives you a deeper understanding of the songs."

I don't have 'One For The Money', but 'Fakesong' does challenge Lloyd's view of NE miners' culture, albeit without having any miners speak for themselves, which is what I was talking about. I accept that Harker is a specialist in that field and, incidentally, his chapter on Lloyd is one of the better ones - if only it didn't give the impression of having been motivated principally by a sectarian objection to the Communist Party of Great Britain.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 11:09 AM

"the racist residue of his mid Victorian childhood had burst through.... "
This is typical of Harker's taking the work of these collectors out of context
Racism, far from being "mid Victorian" was rife when these people were working - and long afterwards
Shortly before the Irish fleeing the Famine were depicted as sub-human apes in the popular press - Children's author, Rev. Charles Kingsley described them as "white chimpanzees
The Empire thrived on the concept of the superiority of the white race - even when I was in primary school in the 1940s we were still singing hymns which painted being foreign as being "in error's chain - from Greenland's icy mountains to India's coral strand"
When Mark Twain wrote his pamphlet, 'King Leopold's Soliloquy', describing how 'Gallant Little Belgium' was had slaughtered up to 2 million Congolese tribesmen in the pursuit of rubber in 1905, his demands for action fell largely on deaf ears internationally
Even revolutionaries like Jack London championed white supremacy
Over a century later racism is still a major problem
It would have been extremely surprising if Sharp had not gone with the flow of the times and not been a racist
Sharp was a Fabian Socialist which suggested he was a humanitarian, which put him streets ahead of most from his background
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 11:11 AM

"Shortly before the Irish fleeing the Famine"
Missed out the comma - sould read:
"Shortly before, the Irish fleeing the Famine...."
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 11:23 AM

Jag wrote:-
I wonder what angle Sharp would have taken on "can white man sing the blues".
.... or how would Sharp have answered an even more intruiging question - Can Blue Men Sing The Whites?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 11:32 AM

Whoops agai - not my day
Sould read
" 'Gallant Little Belgium' had slaughtered up to 10 MILLION Congolese tribes


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 11:39 AM

**** this multi-tasking !
Should read
"'Gallant Little Belgium' had slaughtered up to 10 MILLION Congolese tribesmen
Jim


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 12:05 PM

Pseu 4.54 a.m.
Should you have put 'Sharp'? Gummere was one of Child's students!
Perhaps Joe could alter it for you.

I would be happy to start a discussion of individual faked ballads as suggested by Jim, but they should perhaps have their own threads as this one looks as though it is going to run for a while without that.

Are we on the brink of a new era perhaps?

BTW, it was Jim who suggested Fowler to me. Credit where it's due!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 12:32 PM

"I would be happy to start a discussion of individual faked ballads as suggested by Jim,"
I'm sure you would Steve - seems tearing down the work of others is what you excel in
"Fake" implies that there was a rule book which suggests that the collectors deliberately set out to con the public
You know as well as I do that "improving the ballads aesthetically" was done with the best of intentions and that they were all at it to one degree or another
The importance of the ballads as part of a social study is very much a new kid on the block
Singers themselves not only probably made the ballads but were constantly improving them and altering then from stories into verse throughout their history
Some of the ballad plots date back as far as Boccacio, Chaucer, Homer and even Early Egypt
Broadside printers fairly obviously took ballads from whoever they could and adapted them to   
It's chasing rainbows to attempt to pin down most of the ballads to their origins, let alone seeking 'Ur' versions
What we know for certain , that in the mouths of the folk they became artistic creations which, at their best, challenged the best of high art
Only a churl with a class agenda would deny that fact
Jim Caarroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 01:10 PM

"I would be happy to start a discussion of individual faked ballads as suggested by Jim,"
You know as well as I do (or should) that the only thing we achieved by discussing individual folk sons was to force you drop your "starry-eyed naivete" line and accept that what you were claiming as fact was merely your personal and unsubstantiated (and unsbstantiatable) opinion, which is why I've never suggested a discussion on individual faked ballads
Sut discussions are bound to end in tears
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 01:13 PM

> those special gifts for which a nation is renowned will usually be conspicious in its lower and unlettered classes" because they are "least affected by extraneous and educational influences".

Sounds like Sharp held the "lower and unlettered classes" in some admiration, possibly before he even began collecting.

Remember how thrilled he was by a chance encounter with the singing of John England - which started him on his new avocation.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 01:43 PM

"In writing about Sharp Harker tends to use the word 'culture' where Sharp seems to have been thinking of something inherent."

Sharp regularly used the word 'race', but in context it often carried more of a sense of 'nation'. He certainly wrote of 'the English race' as distinct from, say, the German, so the kind of pan-European Aryan fantasy that is sometimes laid at Sharp's door is clearly not what he intended.

As for the remark about the racial inferiority of the 'negro' - the authenticity of which no-one is disputing - as Lighter commented earlier, this was "the nearly universal European intellectual assumption at the time." Sharp admitted at one point that until he visited the USA, the only black people he'd ever come across were touring blackface minstrels, with their gross parodies of African-American life. His ignorance on the subject was profound, but whether he deserves to be judged more harshly than others of his time with similar or worse opinions is something I'd question. Jim has quoted variou examples from the period, to which I could add some questionable utterances by Keir Hardie, and an attack on black sailors led by Manny Shinwell shortly before the Red Clydeside unrest in 1919. The sad fact is that during this period even socialists were quite capable of holding racist attitudes.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 01:46 PM

"Sounds like Sharp held the "lower and unlettered classes" in some admiration, possibly before he even began collecting.
Remember how thrilled he was by a chance encounter with the singing of John England - which started him on his new avocation."


I agree enirely with the first sentence, and Sharp's admiration certainly shines through in his accounts of meeting singers of a different social status from himself.

The meeting with John England probably wasn't the 'chance event' of Sharpian mythology, though, as Derek Schofield's paper referenced above explains in some detail.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 02:53 PM

@ Steve Re the post of 4.54 am

I know that Gummere was one of Child's students. Sorry I cannot see where you think I went wrong (though as usual glad to be corrected where wrong). Sharp does indeed quote Gummere in his theoretical bit on folk songs, and Harker does regard the view as social Darwinist.

I did give Jim credit where I felt it was due but Joe Offer deleted it.
    If you wish to re-post your message and omit the personal attacks, you are welcome to do so. You and Jim are both on a short leash until you decide to comply with our "no combat" rule.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 02:54 PM

"Sounds like Sharp held the "lower and unlettered classes" in some admiration, possibly before he even began collecting."
According to a fascinating long article I read on the Musical Traditions site, (can't remember the author - he had an Asian name) he held them in high respect
He did attribute 'instinct' rather than conscious creativity to their singing, but that's still a common misconception today (and has shown up on this forum)
I get the impression that a number of the collectors were quite taken aback at what they heard from the singers
I have to say that much of what we got from Travellers in the early days set us back on our heels
We had the luxury of working at our own pace rather than 'headhunt' in a "race with the undertaker" (as Tom Munnelly described it
WE were forced to taake the decision of working with each singer for as long as we thought there was songs and information to be had, so we cut our list of possibles from twenty to half a dozen within six weeks
We recorded sever singers for over a year - we were still recording Kery Traveller Mikeen Mccarthy thirty years after we first met him - and still getting fresh information
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 03:24 PM

If you read Sharp he seems more and more 'social Darwinist'. After a brief description of Aboriginal music he states - using the word 'savage' in passing - that folk music represents a later stage in development. He gives a summary of some views on the origins of folk and then says (p10) he is largely indebted for what he has put to a book by Gummere.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 03:40 PM

@ Jack, yes, Harker does seem to have found the work of Ritson better than the work of some others.

"I agree with Jim that ‘Fakesong’ is not the place to go to find out about songs or singers.   Concluding the chapter on Child, we find: “About the lives, interest and culture of the people who made, re-made and used [these] songs, Child like his predecessors can tell us almost nothing.” But 'Fakesong' tells us almost nothing about them either, except as non-speaking, walk-on parts in a theoretical narrative."

While I can see where Brian is coming from, I don't think this is quite fair in terms of Harker accounts of what ordinary people were doing. For example, Harker mentions Chartism, which ordinary people were involved with. He takes a broad historical perspective. This really did exist; some of my (Lancs at the time) ancestors were signed up to it. But even if it were fair, Harker has not set out to write a book about songs or their singers. He set out to write a book about selected mediators. We might wish that he had set out to write a different sort of book, but he didn't.

For me, I think Sharp was probably racist and also that he uses the word 'race' in a broader sense to mean something like 'national'. See page 12.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 03:49 PM

Pseudo-Darwinian ("Whig") models of music history were the orthodoxy for art music in Sharp's lifetime. They weren't really discredited until the middle of the 20th century (Zuckerkandl's "Sound and Symbol" being the definitive hatchet job) and still haven't really died. Someone coming from art music background, as Sharp did, would be hard put to avoid the same crappy model when constructing a theoretical model of folk music.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 04:48 PM

>>>>>>>Harker states that Child’s theory<<<<<<
What theory? I'm confused. How can Child have been influenced by Gummere?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 04:49 PM

Sharp even seems to have believed that he could distinguish 'Celt' from 'Anglo Saxon' within Somerset by their accent, and that the two had different musical predilections. (see page 29). He is quite explicit about drawing on evolutionary theory here.

He distinguishes parts of Somerset and links differences he thinks he has found in music to differences he thinks exist on terms of Celt or Anglo Saxon. However, he has the grace to comment that this is highly speculative.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 05:03 PM

>>>>>If these songs are fakes - discuss them and expose their fakery<<<<<
Both posted on the same day!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 05:04 PM

>>>>>>I've never suggested a discussion on individual faked ballads<<<<


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 03 Feb 20 - 07:43 PM

@ Steve, thanks as usual! I finally caught up with you.

Here's a corrected opening to my post of 03 Feb 20 - 04:54 AM which summarises part of Harker's account of Sharp's theoretical work English Folk Song: Some Conclusions.

"Harker states that Sharp's theory was influenced by three main people: Sir Hubert Parry, Carl Engel, and Francis Barton Gummere."

Having gone back to Sharp's piece, it is my view that Harker is right here. Generally, his account of this work seems accurate, though he steers away from the music theory bits, which is where Sharp draws on Parry. I think it might be worth mentioning that this Sharp's work is a book about tunes: Sharp refers to words/lyrics from time to time, but his main focus is the tunes.

I think that Harker's account of Sharp's (confusing) distinction between the un-educated and the non-educated is accurate; indeed he quotes from it at length, possibly because it is such an odd theory that otherwise people might not credit it. Weirdly, Sharp asserts that his usage is 'scientific', a claim that the early US folklorists were fond of making but which strikes modern ears as odd.

Sharp uses 'the common people' to mean 'those whose mental development has been due not to any formal system of training or education, but solely to environment, communal association and direct contact with the ups and downs of life'. These he describes as 'non-educated' and he adds that they have never been in close enough contact with educated people to be influenced by them. He goes on to link this with the countryside, setting up a town/country dichotomy which explains his choices of smaller towns/villages for his collecting, rather than places like Bristol, Bath, Yeovil etc while stating that strictly speaking the actual distinction is between 'the spontaneous and intuitive exercise of untrained faculties' and the 'conscious and intentional use of faculties' that have been specially trained for the purpose.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 02:59 AM

"If these songs are fakes - discuss them and expose their faker"
No steve - what you are proposing is a repeat performance of your "who wrote our folk songs" fiasco
I was not asking for a discussion - you have made an accusation - as the accuser, it is up to you to provide the fakes - as yet, you have refused to discuss these accusations in context of either the songs and singers
Until you do, you have no case - nothing to to with folk-song scholarship[ but simple logic and basic justice
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 04:14 AM

I do think that that first page of Sharp's "Some conclusions", when you would expect an author to focus on something that he thought was important and clear in his mind, covers most of what has been quoted about his views in the recent posts.

Labels are handy amongst those who have the same unerstanding of what they mean. I jumped in above because I didn't think the way his 'racism' was being discussed was much of an aid to understanding.

I haven't looked up 'social Darwinist' but taking it in two halves fits with his introduction. One the one hand, as a socialist he could well have believed that most of what separated him from an English peasant was upbringing, education and opportunity. On the other hand he could have read Darwin's account of speciation in a group of small islands as allowing the folk music of different nearby nations to be be different because of inherent differences in their peoples.

I think he might have anticipated the baby of a French labourer adopted by an English labouring family to have a preference for French folk songs. That may seem absurd, but less so when we remember that some bird species look so similar that they are identfied in the field mainly by their song and that their are still relics of geographic variation in, say, hair colour in western Europe.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 04:40 AM

( Got a screen shot. It'll be good to look at after I've been seen to...)

@Jag, interesting post as usual. My understanding is that 'social Darwinist' means people applied Darwinian ideas of the survival of the fittest to cultures, this often happening along side more pseudo-biological Darwinism applied to what were termed 'races'. My understanding/belief is that the term 'race' has no sensible medical or biological function. For, me variation in hair colour (one or two genes) doesn't affect this. We are creatures of culture, debate the nature nurture mix but there you go.

The social Darwinist view would be at odds with Marxism which saw history as class struggle. It's a key emotive word for Harker I think, a bit like 'bourgeois' and tending to get annoying (but who am I to talk).

I really don't know much about Sharp apart from a few articles, Wiki and his own work. A lot of Victorians called themselves Socialists who were more like what we would call liberal today, certainly not clause 4 types. Maybe Sharp did a lot of philanthropy? I think he gave one of his informants a concertina (but does that pollute his results??)

There are difficult decisions relating to how far we let knowledge that some of our heroes believed and did things we now see as pernicious bother us. I feel racism/racialism is possibly worth pointing out and challenging.

I think some of Sharp's ideas are a little absurd. And a lot of them do sound like romantic imagination, as at one point Sharp himself more or less concedes.

Have a nice day all. May or may not see you later.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 05:36 AM

Hi Pseudonymous. Thanks for that, which gives me more reason the be wary of labels. We have one here that has at least two possible meanings.

I was suggesting that on the basis of that first explanation in his book Sharp's usage is more this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(biology)

than this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(human_categorization)

I think that it is easy to read "people applied Darwinian ideas of the survival of the fittest to cultures" as referring to competition between groups of people rather than a population changing its characteristics - adapting - with time due to survival of the fittest individuals.

I think simply labelling Sharp's comment on the negros as racist in the second sense above leaves us with the muddle of current usage. The first usage (which doesn't preclude the second) was important to him and to us in understanding his comments on things such as 'national music' and who he sought out to collect from.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 05:44 AM

'social Darwinist'
Id=s there any evidence that Sharp actively pursued any racial philososophy - none has been presented ?
It hasn't even been established that Sharp was an active socialist" just that y=they were his leanings
Had he been a card-carrying socialist his dominant philosophy would have been internationalism, humanitarianism and a desire for a fairer society for all
It has been suggested from the result of various national surveys that one third of today's British population hold racist view and have expressed them openly
Does that make them philosophical racists or do they just 'go with the flow' based on their upbringing, education and personal circumstances ?
All this philosophising is little more that knocking sdown straw men, unless facts are produced that prove otherwise
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 05:47 AM

On Bearman (2000)

Bearman repeats Sharp’s ideas about folk and the ‘unlettered’. He says Lloyd recast this in terms of ‘class’ which became fashionable so that eg Vic Gammon and others did this. Lloyd read songs as worker protests when B thinks they weren’t. This recasting in terms of class meant people could argue that worker culture had been appropriated by the middle class (eg by Boyes) or even repressed (as in Gammon’s views on the reasons for the decline of gallery music in churches).

Beaman moves on to the concept of ‘peasantry’, another term used by Sharp (though as we have seen Sharp did not see the rural/urban as critical). Some people, B notes, objected to Sharp using the word. Beaman claims that usage not definitions should set the standard by which Sharp’s use of the term should be judged. You could dispute the defn that B goes with. B also thinks that ‘to some extent’ how people saw themselves is important as are the facts of people’s actual levels of education and the boundaries of their world. He says that on such matters sloganizing has replaced proper investigation. Sharp, he says, provides little information though he visited some Somerset informants multiple times.

Beaman therefore attempts a biographical survey of the 311 Somerset people he says Sharp interviewed. He uses various sources including Sharp himself, the 81 and 91 census reports and parish records. He claims to have identified 214 reasonably certainly, to have ages for 278 and occupations for 238 (including 90 married and single women). He finds they had a range of occupations, and concludes – put simply - that it was reasonable for Sharp to describe these people as ‘peasantry’, as even if not actual farmers or farm workers or shepherds etc their jobs were broadly rural and/or they were generally ‘rustic’.

Bearman claims that Harker misdefined people as peasants or not based on their residence, making incorrect distinctions between villages and towns and not realising that some agricultural workers lived in towns eg Somerton. One woman Harker called a town labourer’s wife was in fact wed to an agricultural worker.

Bearman goes on to challenge a view that Sharp’s informants were ‘working class’ by stating some would have been self-employed, others members of professions. This included some of Sharp’s best informants, Bearman says, citing Emma Glover, James Bishop and William Spearing. Higher social level informants included a farmer employing 14 people on his 630 acres. Some were members of the local council. Bearman says such a diverse group cannot be a ‘class’ as defined in a quotation from A L Lloyd he is using because they would not have had a common identity or interests. Moreover, he finds examples of social mobility in both directions.

Then Beaman goes on to discuss the ‘culture’ of these people. He wants to discover if it fits Sharp’s idea of the ‘unlettered’.

Drafted yesterday. Sorry if a bit long.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 05:52 AM

"Is there any evidence that Sharp actively pursued any racial philososophy" As I have explained, race (at least in the biological sense) is implicit in the first page of the Introduction of his 1907 book.

Which is here by the way

https://archive.org/details/englishfolksongs00shar/page/n6/mode/2up


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 06:01 AM

@ Jag

Thanks for the Sharp link. That is where I downloaded my copy from.

I think tensions relating to 'nationalism' and the ideals of 'folk' are complex, even without race, and it maybe, maybe, is healthy to look at the ups and downs of this from time to time. This is why when asked for my favourite folk song I give the multicultural version of Tam Lin with Ben Zephania. I'm trying in my own way to make a point.

Still considering some of your points.

Rather amazed anybody still talking to me. I broke Mr Moulden's rule again. Apols to anybody feeling caught in the cross fire.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 06:03 AM

Zephaniah of course

xxxx


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 06:03 AM

Iv have that on the shelf Jag
I see no difference that Sharp's views conflict in any way with those dominant in Britain at the time
The Empire was built and survived on such views
I have always been aware of how those views affected his work in the United States, but it is beyond me to understand why they should impact on his recording English singers, which is basically what 'Fakesong' is about.
These people were of their time - Harker has treated them as right-wing extremists and has used that to place a question mark on our traditional song
As I said - 'straw men'
Jim


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 06:11 AM

I haven't looked up 'social Darwinist' but taking it in two halves fits with his introduction. One the one hand, as a socialist he could well have believed that most of what separated him from an English peasant was upbringing, education and opportunity. On the other hand he could have read Darwin's account of speciation in a group of small islands as allowing the folk music of different nearby nations to be be different because of inherent differences in their peoples.

Social Darwinism was not invented by Darwin, but by Herbert Spencer. It doesn't come from Darwin's own work AT ALL.


The social Darwinist view would be at odds with Marxism which saw history as class struggle. It's a key emotive word for Harker I think, a bit like 'bourgeois' and tending to get annoying (but who am I to talk).

Marxism (and Harker's version of it in particular) does not take the attitude of dismissing people's assertions simply because they weren't Marxists. Harker has no problem with Sharp being what he was; he says it was only to be expected that someone with Sharp's background would hold racist and militarist attitudes regardless of his avowed socialism. What he objects to is the way he's been misrepresented since his time, by people who have an interest (maybe a career one) in shining by the light of a falsely deified figure. A Marxist position would say Sharp deserves better than to be caricatured in the cause of making somebody money 100 years down the line.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 06:11 AM

I have read that social Darwinism sort of underpins aspects of US culture: this came up when we studied a novel by Theodore Dreiser, who ended up on the left. The idea of competition between individuals resulting in the best coming to the top is sometimes said to be part and parcel of the 'American Dream' national mythology/philosophy. But I'm not really an American Studies person and it didn't look very dreamy as Dreiser portrayed it.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 06:12 AM

Jack is right about Spencer. Thanks, Jack.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 06:45 AM

Thanks Jack Campin for the information. So 'social Darwinism' is not really relevant to Sharp setting out his approach.

However, I think Darwinism on its own is. He clearly thought that the nations of Europe were inherently different in such a way that nature, if not interfered with by nurture, could produce different national folk musics. He was writing at a time when the history books had stories of how the indo-european tribes had spread, with the dark-haired Celts of Wales, the red-haired Scots and the Scandinavian blonds having their places on the map.

I am not sure how much it matters that he was wrong so long as when reading him we understand that he thought that way.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 06:48 AM

And I think people did apply 'social Darwinist' type ideas to cultures. I think Harker is right to trace a lot of the interest in folk to European nations trying to set out and establish national identities. Take Germany, a case in point, we referred to Wagner earlier on, and this is where Child was educated, it had only been unified by Bismark late in the 19th century. We know from the reading Steve led us to that the same applied in Denmark. Sharp himself was especially interested in collecting tunes with a view to producing 'art music' based on them. He felt we lacked a national art music. He then wanted children in schools to be put through a graded set of instruction on folk so that in the future they would be able to produce national art music. It was the corny 'vulgar' (Sharp's word) nature of music hall songs he disliked as much as anything. He calls them the Sharpian slightly more technical version of 'three chord tricks'. I think 'snob' might be an apt word to describe his attitudes to what Harker would call working class culture. For Harker, the music of the music halls which Sharp denigrated was working class music and Harker felt that in denigrating it Sharp was denigrating working class culture and in editing it out the folklorists were misrepresenting it.

People (who shall be nameless) have demanded on this thread to know where the voice of the people is in Harker. For me this demonstrates potentially complete misunderstanding of Harker and his book. For that is precisely the point that Harker himself makes. It is fairly central to his point about 'mediation'. The voices of the people are absent from his accounts of Percy and Child and so on because they are absent from the work of Percy and Child - and from Sharp come to that! This is something that Harker complains about. I think Jack may be able to tell us whether in his own works Harker does provide the voice of the people. Certainly, when Lloyd sets out to imagine the 'psychology' of the labouring man throughout history, including him sitting writing by the light of candles which poor people could not afford, Harker accuses him of 'breathtaking arrogance'. Harker is quite good on Lloyd in places, he made me giggle once or twice, eg when he calls Lloyd 'witty' for referring to the Soviet bloc as 'democracies'.

Enough.


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