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Dave Harker, Fakesong

GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 06:50 AM
Jack Campin 04 Feb 20 - 07:14 AM
GUEST,jag 04 Feb 20 - 07:30 AM
GUEST 04 Feb 20 - 07:35 AM
GUEST 04 Feb 20 - 07:38 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 07:54 AM
Jack Campin 04 Feb 20 - 07:57 AM
GUEST,jag 04 Feb 20 - 08:11 AM
GUEST,jag 04 Feb 20 - 08:21 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Feb 20 - 08:22 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 08:49 AM
Jack Campin 04 Feb 20 - 08:57 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 09:05 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Feb 20 - 09:07 AM
Vic Smith 04 Feb 20 - 09:08 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 09:08 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 09:17 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 09:21 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 09:57 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 10:15 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 10:20 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 10:23 AM
Jack Campin 04 Feb 20 - 10:26 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 10:35 AM
Brian Peters 04 Feb 20 - 11:04 AM
Brian Peters 04 Feb 20 - 11:13 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Feb 20 - 11:14 AM
GUEST,jag 04 Feb 20 - 12:14 PM
GUEST,HiLo 04 Feb 20 - 12:22 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Feb 20 - 12:28 PM
Vic Smith 04 Feb 20 - 12:45 PM
Jack Campin 04 Feb 20 - 12:56 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Feb 20 - 01:16 PM
Brian Peters 04 Feb 20 - 01:26 PM
Brian Peters 04 Feb 20 - 01:28 PM
Brian Peters 04 Feb 20 - 01:33 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 02:29 PM
Brian Peters 04 Feb 20 - 02:56 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 04:02 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 05:16 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 05:30 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 05:44 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 07:43 PM
Richard Mellish 05 Feb 20 - 03:15 AM
GUEST 05 Feb 20 - 04:37 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Feb 20 - 05:24 AM
GUEST,jag 05 Feb 20 - 05:31 AM
GUEST,jag 05 Feb 20 - 05:57 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Feb 20 - 07:28 AM
Jack Campin 05 Feb 20 - 07:37 AM
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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 06:50 AM

@ jag, just read your last post. Interesting and I'll ponder it. But not respond as I've said more than enough today.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 07:14 AM

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

You are confused. Social Darwinism certainly is relevant. It's one of the strands in the racism that Sharp clearly expressed sometimes.


However, I think Darwinism on its own is.

No. Darwinism is about biology. Period.


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.

That wasn't really Social Darwinism either, it would have been straight racist ideology - if Sharp had ever signed up to anything that crude. I don't think he did, and neither did Grainger, who wrote much more about links between "race" (whatever meaning he gave it) and musical idiom.


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.

That story has only been refined with time, not really discarded, and it gives no support to theories linking race and culture.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 07:30 AM

"it would have been straight racist ideology - if Sharp had ever signed up to anything that crude. I don't think he did"

Have a look at first page of chapter 1 of "English Folk Song: Some Conclusions"

If you don't trust GUEST clickies here it is: https://archive.org/details/englishfolksongs00shar/page/n21/mode/2up


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 07:35 AM

https://archive.org/details/englishfolksongs00shar/page/n22/mode/1up

https://archive.org/details/englishfolksongs00shar/page/n22/mode/1up


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 07:38 AM

Try again - single page easier to read

https://archive.org/details/englishfolksongs00shar/page/n22/mode/1up


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 07:54 AM

If people don't trust blue clickies they can always google for Sharp, folksong, some conclusions, which is how I found it. The archive.org site has a lot of folklore related texts, including various Child publications. I thought of dipping into some of the Sharp song books to see what the harmonisations were like.

The text I would like to read relatively soon, but cannot afford or access is the later piece by Harker responding to Bearman. I can find bits of it, but not the whole thing. Does anybody know whether there is an open access version of it?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 07:57 AM

I don't see anything in "Some Conclusions" to imply that differences in the complexity of folksongs are due to innate differences in human nature. Sharp underestimated the sophistication and level of material development of Aboriginal culture, as did almost all whites until recent times: if you think people are leading an existence of early-Palaeolithic unsophistication, that alone would give you the idea that they had music to match.

The attitude Sharp expresses has been just as repressive, though. If you think Aboriginal culture is so backward it can't produce anything of great sophistication, the obvious fix is to eradicate that culture. Which is what the forced resettlement and adoption schemes of the 20th century tried to do; the underlying assumption was that Aboriginal human nature was fine if you just brought them up white. Subtle (cultural) racism ended up being even more destructive than crude (physiological) racism.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 08:11 AM

"I don't see anything in "Some Conclusions" to imply that differences in the complexity of folksongs are due to innate differences in human nature."

Where does complexity come into it? He was saying it would have a different character. Like birds in one place instinctively singing their own song and slighlty different birds from somewhere else instinctively singing another.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 08:21 AM

(Which is not to says that bird songs are always entirely instinctive)


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 08:22 AM

The voice of the people is most certainly not absent from Child - many of the versions he gives are taken directly from oral sources - his sole efforts as a collector was to take a version of the Cruel Mother from his housekeeper
His Irish informant was reporting songs from her native County Meath
Motherwell not only took songs from 'the people' but warned in his 'Minstrelsy' against tampering with their beautiful language ((quoted in 'Some Conclusion'
The Buchan dispute revolves around whether Rankin's versions were from 'the people'
The fact that these pioneers chose the term 'folk' to identify their songs automatically attributes what they collected to the singers they took them from
No wonder some people (who shall be nameless) refuse to introduce the songs and singers into this discussion if their lack of understanding fails to recognise these basic facts
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 08:49 AM

"However, as this discussion appears to be lacking the same two most important features as did ‘Fakesong’, perhaps it is worth mentioning them here …

As with Harker, there has been no attempt to examine ‘the forgeries’ in question …

The second stunning omission has been the singers themselves – no reference to them in the book and the only ones here has been to present the most respected family of source singers in England as self-promoting showmen. The main evidence we have of the cultural importance of folk song lies in the songs themselves and how they were regarded by the singers and communities they served – without them all that is left is personal opinion and (not very well-informed) guesswork"

This is what I meant by 'the voices of the people'.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 08:57 AM

The main evidence we have of the cultural importance of folk song lies in the songs themselves and how they were regarded by the singers and communities they served

Harker had already dealt with that in his previous book. Not just for folk songs, either.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 09:05 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 09:07 AM

"This is what I meant by 'the voices of the people'."
How have "the voices of the people" been misrepresented - which is Harker's main case ?
How are they "absent from Child ?
The Ballads gathered together by Child were largely taken from the people
It is quite likely that even the broadside versions he included started their lives as examples of 'voices of the people'
Harker challenges that, leaving 'the people' he claims to respect via his politics, 'voiceless non-creators'

As far as Child's instinctive' approach - that blinkered view has never departed from the folk scene
Child and his collegues can be forgiven for that - pioneers make mistakes, but we now have enough information to know it is grossly inaccurate
Walter Pardon most certainly not unique in understanding and interpreting his songs, for instance - it was almost certainly widespread in healthy traditions
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 09:08 AM

no reference to them in the book and the only ones here has been to present the most respected family of source singers in England as self-promoting showmen.
... and the only person to describe them thus and to subscribe to this suggestion is the person who made this post and presents as a fact rather than an isolated opinion.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 09:08 AM

The rest of us all knew what you meant, Pseu.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 09:17 AM

>>>>>The Buchan dispute revolves around whether Rankin's versions were from 'the people'<<<<<<< More ill-informed guff.

Jamie Rankin was Buchan's fall guy, his fall-back when he was inevitably going to be accused of fabrication. We have witness testimony by someone
who knew Jamie that he did not have the wit to make a coherent ballad. Even Buchan's greatest apologist and biographer, William Walker, admitted that Peter 'eked out his ballads'. Child was well aware of this without having even read the biography. He did correspond with Walker who was assisting him. Walker never once complained that Child was treating peter unfairly, but as soon as Child died Walker went on a massive offensive culminating in 'Late Leaves' published by his puppet, Alexander Keith.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 09:21 AM

What I would suggest since the topic of Motherwell has been raised, in what appears to be a fairly random sound bite, as opposed to serving as part of a reasoned and relevant point, is that Jim goes back to his copy of Harker.

He will see that Harker refers extensively to Motherwell (1927) and also to several books about Motherwell as well as a number of academic studies of Motherwell. Page references within Harker for mentions of Motherwell include P39, p55, p56, 57, 66, 67, 70, 72, 74, 75, and 77.

We have already discussed Harker on Motherwell. If you wish to discuss this further, then I suggest that you read what Harker has to say about Motherwell, and provide us all with, say, a one screen summary of his main points.

Then we might be in a position to discuss what Harker says about Motherwell. Because beginner though I may be, I have read Harker recently and - this might just be me - I am beginning to think you might (no disrespect intended) not quite have the detail clear in your mind. What makes me say that is the point you just made about Motherwell, as if defending him against Harker.

Thank you for reading.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 09:57 AM

Okay, Motherwell.
I first of all must recommend Mary Ellen Brown's books on Motherwell and on Walker's correspondence with Child. Most of us Brits, particularly the English ones are at a massive disadvantage here, as academic Scots can have access to what is left at Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Kirkudbright, and those N American's in the north east can have access to Child's library where most of the manuscripts and correspondence ended up. However, Mary Ellen does a splendid unbiased job of publishing and critiquing what is available there. Most relevant here is 'William Motherwell's Cultural Politics' 2001, University Press of Kentucky. Most enlightening and not just on Motherwell; some of the other editors get a mention also, as he was regularly corresponding with the likes of Buchan. Indeed the likes of Charles Sharpe and David Laing (or was it Alexander?) were passing back and forth as ballad brokers between the editors, no doubt adding to the editing themselves, in fact in Buchan's case their editing is undeniable if minimal.

What I'm not fully clear on at the moment and would like help with is, was the actual famous Motherwell essay a part of the original 1827 book or was it first published in a later edition like mine (1873)?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 10:15 AM

>>>>>>I've read Harker and I rejected it at the time as did the majority at the time<<<<<<.

No they didn't. Those that understood it criticised the inaccuracies and the approach and the political bias, but those who had any knowledge of the subject took from it what it offered, a critique of those who strove to manipulate what was being promoted as 'folk'. Those of us who had already done detailed research into the subject ourselves were able to pick out the acceptable, reasonable and sometimes already well-known facts and opinions.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 10:20 AM

My first reading of Fakesong filled me with dismay, as I knew what the general reaction would be amongst the old guard. This was a massive negative obviously, but a lesser positive was that it put the subject firmly back on the table, as it had been swept under the carpet for a number of years, which is partly why it came as such a shock to many.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 10:23 AM

Pseu,
I'm a little worried at your light-hearted approach to censure. There's a lot of very good discussion on this thread and 'twould be a great pity to have it curtail'd methinks!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 10:26 AM

On Motherwell, I have a string of emails from the late Bruce Olson where he was trying to work out how trustworthy Motherwell was by going further back, and finally giving up in exasperation, concluding that Motherwell was a total waste of space and had nothing at all you couldn't get more reliably from others. Bruce had put a LOT of effort in before getting to that point.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 10:35 AM

Wow, Jack!
Please tell us more. Start a new thread if necessary. I'm drooling. Bruce on Motherwell!

One thing we need to remember when discussing these earlier Scottish collectors, even the later ones actually (Greig) relied heavily on others sending them material, and even paid others to go out and collect for them. For instance Motherwell had Crawfurd who was paid, and in turn Crawfurd paid McQueen whose own family sang ballads. I think it was McQueen (I could easily check) who was known to take English versions and Scottify them. (No, I need to be clearer here, he was known to take versions in Standard English that he'd collected in the area and Scottify them).


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 11:04 AM

OMG, this thread is moving so fast. I look forward to hearing more about Motherwell, but I'm afraid I'm still stuck on Sharp.

'jag' wrote:
"So 'social Darwinism' is not really relevant to Sharp setting out his approach. However, I think Darwinism on its own is...
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."


That is bang on. Sharp described three principles of 'Continuity', 'Variation' and 'Selection' in folk song, and the way in which the last of those was said to operate was clearly Darwinian. The selection idea is pretty weak, though, excedt in the sense that a particular song might have proved popular or been discarded; at the level of the song melody I don’t see much evidence of progression towards a more advanced or successful form, more a series of individual variations and in some cases descent into incoherence. As the post says, Sharp was indeed wrong on many things, but that doesn’t mean he should be trashed or misrepresented.

As for ‘Social Darwinism’, while it may well have contributed to the racial theories of the day, Sharp was certainly not a believer in Herbert Spencer’s ideas about laissez-faire capitalism, which he abhorred. He was a socialist, a member of the Fabian Society for the entirety of his song collecting days, and moved from support for the Liberal Party to Labour, despite a general distrust of party politics. He was a follower of William Morris, although more in sympathy with Morris’s dislike of modernity and industrialization than with his revolutionary ideas. Sharp was a 'moderate', and as such attracted the scorn of Harker - what James Porter has called "the traditional contempt of revolutionary socialists to gradualism" (see my link on Jan 15, 07.52). To describe Sharp as ‘hard right’ as Harker does, is wholly inaccurate and, for those who enjoy the term, ‘biased’.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 11:13 AM

I must take issue with Jack Campin's acceptance of Harker's claim (in 'Fakesong's' predecessor) that: “he isn't attacking Sharp himself, but the followers who refused to examine where he was coming from.“

This is highly disingenuous, at least where 'Fakesong' iself is concerned. Harker has indeed claimed that he was merely redressing the balance, away from the pre-existing adulation of Sharp by Maud Karpeles and other followers, and in the sense that there was a bubble that needed to be pricked, he might have a point. However, it can't be argued that that he doesn’t attack Sharp personally. What is “culturally exploitative and reactionary”, if not an attack? The book is unable to provide even the most banal snippets of biographical detail without resort to subtly loaded terms:

“Sharp was acknowledged to be a 'Freethinker' and a 'Radical', but distinctly lightweight.”

he took care to ingratiate himself with the music-loving members of the expatriate English and German bourgeoisie”

“He pestered Schott to publish his sonatas”

And here is one of my favourites – note the contents of the two bracketed sections:
“He rowed keenly in the second boat (for which there was little competition), took lodgings out of college in Tennis Court Road so as to be able to make as much noise with his piano as he wished, and became Secretary of the College Debating Society (at the third attempt)

That is not impartial reportage.

Harker consistently selects and edits quote that might cast Sharp in a poor light, while ignoring anything that might be construed favourably. For instance, of Sharp and Karpeles in Virginia: “They ‘went to see an old coloured woman’, but she sang only ‘one good tune’...”

Here’s what Sharp actually wrote about Aunt Maria Tombs (Harker doesn’t dignify her with a name):

[MS Fair copy, 22/05/1918] “ Aunt Maria is an old coloured woman, aged 85, who was a slave belonging to Mrs Coleman who freed her after the war and gave her the log cabin in which she now lives, which used to be the overseer's home. I found her sitting in front of the cabin smoking a pipe. We sang (to) her 'The Sinner Man', which delighted her beyond anything and made her dub me 'A soldier of Christ'. She sang very beautifully in a wonderfully musical way and with clear and perfect intonation.”

To me, that reads like a convivial meeting with an African-American woman that Sharp respected as a singer, and doesn’t square at all with the picture of the stuck-up English racist. But you wouldn’t get any sense of that from Harker. Believe me, there are many more examples.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 11:14 AM

"old guard." is a term that filled Stalin's gulags - it has no place in these discussions
The present desk-jockey crowd are a tiny minority of those still interested in folksong - they appear to removed both songs and singers from the equation and are pushing it forward as an academic subject with no social or cultural significance
The only mention sources singers have been given in this discussion is to denigrate and misrepresent them
They appear to have become naive figures of fun fit only to poke fun at
Harker was rejected my the mainstream at the time
He came to the subject without fore-knowledge and he ignored the help he had been generously given
I was present on two occasions when he admitted he no longer wished to speak publicly because of the hoostil reception his book had received - in Sheffield and at the MacColl Symposium in London - I was a speaker at both

"Jim, what the hell."
Dodging the point again - it's become predictable
I have never come across anybody as sunfamiliar as you are of folksong who has attempted to dominate discussions on it - right back to the days when you tried to show that elderly Irish farmers were getting their songs from American blues records
I seriously suggest that you go off and find a source where you can listen to folk song as performed by experts such as Sam Larner, Harry Cox, Cecilia Costello.... and only then come back and start again
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 12:14 PM

Sigh. "Old guard". I looked it up just to be sure. It means what I thought it meant and so I understand what Steve Gardham meant by it.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 12:22 PM

I have been following this thread and have really enjoyed it. I do apprteciate the approach taken by "the desk jockey crowd". However, the "serial resigner appears and turns it into social warfare. He clearly has not read the other participants posts very carefully or he would not be so dismissive of their opinions. Still, I have learned a lot and I hope the discussion can continue without the usual rot setting in.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 12:28 PM

This is a comment proceeding an article by Harker in 1972 reproduced in the Bluegrass Messenger
Leslie Shepherd's letter at the end is of particular interest, though I suppose he merits the description "old guard" along with the rest of us

" 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, not in its original form, but, suitably integrated into the Conservatoire curriculum, made the basis of nationalistic sentiments and bourgeois values. [Harker's over-the-top summation- last paragraph]"
FULL ARTICLE HERE


"so I understand what Steve Gardham meant by it."
Me too
"the original or long-standing members of a group, regarded as unwilling to accept change or new ideas."
This has been how Steve has presented his theories from day one - if we're nor inflexible then we must be "starry-eyed and naive" (direct quote from earlier argument)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 12:45 PM

Brian's comments above and the diary quotations about Sharp meeting Aunt Maria Coombes rang a bell with me and sent me back to the place where I first read them in the introduction to Dear Companion the 2004 book of a selection of songs collected by Sharp in the Appalachians.
The long introductory essay by Mike Yates has many long quotations from the diaries and help to form a well-balanced picture of the way that Sharp presented himself to his informants. He was in bad health throughout these trips and sometimes grumpy as a result but there are also quotations about delighted he was to meet them and to collect and learn from them, even if many of his opinions now seem at odds with modern thinking. I think that the final paragraph is worth quoting in full here:-
Sharp's Appalachian collection is probably his greatest single achievement and he was only able to form it because of his ability to relate so well to the mountain people, to relax in their company, and to put them at their ease. When in 1918 he bid farewell to Mr and Mrs Gibson, singers from Marion, North Carolina, Mrs Gibson told him: 'we like you both - you are so nice and common.' According to Maud Karpeles, Sharp believed this to be the finest compliment that he had ever received; Clearly, Cecil Sharp had a complex personality. Like most of us, he could be angry and upset when things were not going his way. But to the singers he was something special. And only a special person, one with the common touch, could have achieved so much. Instead of finding fault with him, why don't we give praise instead? Without his sincerity, integrity, and determination, this collection would never have been made, and the world would be a poorer place without it.

Sharp's 'common touch' with his singers reminds me of Bob Copper being told by one of the singers that he collected from when working for the BBC in the 1950's that "I'm glad that you turned out to be a man of no consequence, Bob!". It also brought back to mind Bob's account of one of his visits to one of the great singers he collected from, Enos White in Songs & Southern Breezes:-
I always met such kindness at Crown Cottage that I seldom left there empty-handed. The fuchsia, a cake—'specially baked be mother this arfnoon'—a couple of fresh-cut cabbages or a few eggs from the little hen-house at the end of the garden, there was always something waiting for me as I got up to leave. But the most valued treasures I brought away with me were Enos' songs and the memories of the pleasant and inspiring times I had spent in his company. Our friendship was spontaneous and sincere. I don't think I ever tried to put into words my feeling for Enos but if I had how could I possibly have matched his sincerity and eloquence, 'I likes you, Bob. You're sech a happy man. I wish you'd come round y'ere and bide along o' we.' Had Enos the gift of second sight? His wish was to become very close to being granted.

Finally on Sharp, one thing that Brian and I have discussed on a number of occasions is what a brilliant photographer Sharp was and how he manages to catch so much of his subject whether it is the singers and other mountain people or the scenes that capture so vividly a vanished way of life.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 12:56 PM

Is there a good archive of Sharp's Appalachian photos somewhere? The EFDSS site doesn't work, and all I can find is odd ones used as tasters for American gallery exhibitions.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 01:16 PM

Can I just put in a word for Maud Karpeles here who was often a figure of fun - I met eher several times and crrtainly found her somewhat eccentric
I was always highly impressed by the recordings she made on her later visits to the US, but lately I have been finding her work in Newfoundland extremely rewarding, particularly in regard to the Irish Child Ballads she uncovered there
The articles she wrote on that work are very well woth searching out
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 01:26 PM

Jack, you're right, there are problems with the VWML site at the moment, and it is the only way I know to access the photos. I was going to mention these, as another example of Sharp's contribution to understanding the lives of the people he met, but Vic has beaten me to it. They are a wonderful resource. Last time I looked, the Appalachian photos were not separated from the English ones, so you have to judge by the bonnets and beards, or know the names you're looking for. When they reappear I'll try to give a few pointers. Sadly there isn't one of Aunt Maria.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 01:28 PM

Nice post, Vic. I like the parallel between Sharp's and Bob Copper's experience.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 01:33 PM

Jim, I think Maud's Newfoundland work is now getting the recognition it deserves. Her biography of Sharp, while by no means nor a full critical assessment (Harker dismissed it as 'hagiography'), has got some valuable information in it, and her contribution to the Appalachian expeditions should never be underestimated. She's often described merely as Sharp's amanuensis, but she was so much more than that - an invaluable colleague at every stage of the adventure. I've described her before as Sharp's 'one-woman life-support system', and there's no doubt in my mind that he'd never have made it physically or mentally without her.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 02:29 PM

Brian/Jim
Amen to all that.
I'd like to also add her 2 volume set of Sharp's English songs, indispensable. I use it almost daily. It's a lot easier to read than Sharp's handwriting and the tunes and words are together. Some background on the songs and/or singers would have been great, but I know I'm being greedy.
I also regularly use FS from Newfoundland. I had the 2 volume paper set before I got the hardback which has a lot more info.

Also her postwar contributions to the Journal were always welcome at a time when dance was dominating the EFDSS.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 02:56 PM

Indeed, Steve, and not forgetting that she was responsible for getting the greatly expanded 1932 edition of the Appalachian collection published. Her attitude towards race doesn't stand scrutiny, mind!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 04:02 PM

VWML seems to be back with anew colour scheme.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 05:16 PM

"Her biography of Sharp, while by no means nor a full critical assessment (Harker dismissed it as 'hagiography')"

Just to be fully accurate here, Harker draws on Fox-Strangeways (1933) for his biographical information on Sharp. This is available on He says (page 268) that the revised editions of this that Karpeles produced in 1955 and 1967 would 'form the basis for an interesting study of the practices of hagiographers'. He adds also a note to beware to further books by Karpeles.

In the foreword to one of these re-writes Karpeles is open that the original was by Fox-Strangeways but says that as he has not seen the alterations (he had died by then) she took the decision to put herself down as the sole author despite having re-written parts of it.

I suppose Harker at some point has compared the original with Karpeles edited versions and this is why he thought it hagiographical.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 05:30 PM

I am interested in the idea that Harker describes Sharp as being hard right. From memory he quotes Sharp describing himself as a 'conservative socialist'. He says Sharp only joined the Labour party after being nagged into this. He had resigned from the Fabians because they supported the Labour Party. What Harker actually says is that Sharp drifted ideologically and that this was towards a position that we would now call hard right. He complained about the American Musicians Union. He was hostile to the Russian Revolution. There are disputes about his attitude to Suffragism, but he disliked the Oxbridge Women's Colleges because he didn't like the sort of women he produced. Harsh comments, perhaps, but not quite a black and white assertion that Sharp was hard right.

But I do agree with Brian that the language Harker uses about Sharp is sometimes not likeable.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 05:44 PM

To get a good feel for Sharp's leanings you would do well to read biographies of his acquaintances such as Charles Marson. Sharp and Marson were close pals for a long time and even co-operated on folksong projects. I think they were even in Australia together and Marson was a cleric in the East End of London when Sharp lived in London. I think he helped Sharp with his Somerset ventures also. I think there is a Mary Neal biography as well, or at least there are articles.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 07:43 PM

Sorry, a niggle has just worked its way through my brain: the Coppers the fine traditional singing family suggest that you buy their work via, yes I checked it, it does say Amazon, that ethically suspect tax avoidance machine that tracks you in detail George Orwell could not even dream of! I do admit to using ABE books, which I think are probably owned by Amazon, but only for 2nd hand. Can't we at least support real bookshops, ideally those few still in local ownership?

@ Steve: yes, Marson is mentioned in Harker. Didn't he do a lot of the words for Sharp?

Regarding the discussion of Sharp's views on national music types (including Celtic, Saxon, etc) and his views on the unschooled faculties of 'the peasantry' made me ponder something very odd I came across a while ago. The topic was the ability of travellers, including non-literate travellers, to distinguish genres, the example being country and western from old ballad, and to provide examples of very old songs. The lecturer felt that a discovery had been made, and this I think might be because of the influence of Sharpean ideas:

“We found what seemed to be an innate feeling, an understanding, about the songs which has no bearing on intellectual ability or learning.”

The words that seem to relate most to Sharp are 'innate', 'no bearing on intellectual ability or learning'. Indeed, if something is innate then you don't have to learn it, whatever your level of intellectual ability. I always found this idea somewhat disturbing, and perhaps this study of Sharp helps me to pinpoint a possible theoretical source. Not least because I cannot imagine how you could actually demonstrate such a "finding" in empirical/evidential terms. It looks to me like a theory in search of an evidential base, not a finding based on any clear evidence. An ability to distinguish country and western from other genres or to pick out an old song from ones' repertoire certainly do not, as far as I can see, prove or even suggest that the knowledge used in this task in innate or unlearned.
    The Coppers whose recordings are being sold on Amazon are all dead, so don't be too hard on them for their choice of retailers. You're trying really hard to provoke a fight. Cut it out.
    Joe Offer


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 03:15 AM

Sometimes when reading a Mudcat thread I find it hard to distinguish what someone is posting as new, what they are quoting from a previous post, and whom they are quoting. I mention this here because I have found some of the recent posts in this thread especially confusing. Please can we all make clear what we are quoting and from whom.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 04:37 AM

I looked up the Harker comment on Sharp being 'lightweight' referred to by Brian, I think. This refers to a comment by Henry J Ford, who said Sharp's thought was founded on the shallows not the deeps. Harker says that Sharp was seen as lightweight. However, Harker goes on to describe how badly Sharp did in his degree.

Harker describes Sharp as a mixture of radical and reactionary elements, which seems to me to be an accurate and fair evaluation. I found Harker's quotation to illustrate what he calls Sharp's political 'quietism' interesting (p175) and an apt illustration of the point.

Harker seems to dislike the way that Sharp mixed with the middle and upper classes and sought to make his way through connections, but on the other hand he had to get a living for himself somehow, and his health would have militated against him doing anything too strenuous.

The information about Sharp is there, but as has been said, the tone in which it is put across is not sympathetic or objective.

Sharp's major 'theoretical' work would be worth discussing, but probably in a thread of its own. It has XII chapters, Definition; Origin; Evolution; Conscious and Unconscious Music; The Modes, English Folk Scales; Rhythmical Forms and Melodic Figures; Folk Poetry; The Decline of the Folk Song; The Antiquity of the Folk Song; The Future of English Folk Song.

At the start of the book there is a chapter-by-chapter precis of sorts in note form, which gives you an idea of his arguments. So for a reader without time to look at in detail, this is a useful introduction.

The last chapter's summary notes include the following: Purcell, Erasmus, no National School of Music in England, origin of continental schools, educational value of folk song, supremacy of street song (he doesn't like it), prevalence of bad music in England, the Board of Education, aesthetic value of English folk song. This links in with what seems to have been Sharp's overall career aims: to use the tunes he had collected as the basis for an overhaul of English Music from top to bottom, to create a national music to compare with those of European countries.

In so far as Harker argues that Sharp did not like working class culture and wanted to replace it with something middle class, I think he is quite correct.

Some of the summary notes evoke a number ongoing discussions/research areas about folk: I picked out a few to give a flavour: 'modes no test of age'; 'old words no test of age of folk song, inability to assess age no drawback'; 'detrimental effect of broadsheets upon words of songs'; 'Percy's Reliques'; 'list of books containing genuine English folk songs'; 'the English racial scale'; 'racial characteristics'.

I think the work is conceptually muddled when it deals with origins and history, not least because from time to time between passages of supposition not too far from starry-eyed and highly nationalistic naivete Sharp's awareness of the 'we just don't know' facts of the matter peeps out. He emphasis the word 'communal' when speaking of origins/descent. He also emphasises 'unconscious'. There is I find a contradiction between his 'we don't know' and his belief that he can found a national art music out of the modes, scales, melodies he has discovered to rival those of Germany, Italy etc. What do others think?

But the parts dealing with modes and scales are interesting, and maybe this is where Sharp's influence is greatest?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 05:24 AM

"'communal' " origins was a common theory among early researchers - sadly it's become one o the babies thrown out with the bathwater
I believe this metho off composition was fairly common among Irish Travellers - we have recorded descriptions of it happening on several occasions - from Travellers and settled singers
The same with David Buchan's short lived suggestion that ballads had no set texts but were re-made from plots and commonplaces
Our practice of recording the song several times from a singer over a period of time gave us different versions regularly
Even the 'dance' function of ballads showed its face with Ben Henneberry's description of his Irish father singing 'False Knight on the Road' while 'stepping out' the refrain
The problems arise when you try to apply all these practices as an overall rule to all songs
There is a great deal still to be learned from the few still-surviving older generation of Irish singers on how the songs could have ben made thanks to the phenomenon of a large repertoire of 20th century made local songs, largely anonymous, created to describe events as they happened
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 05:31 AM

I will add another question to Pseudonymous's list. I am not reading the material fast enough to answer it myself.

To what extent was Sharp's search for an English national music a 'nationalistic' one in the sense that that was part of drive in the political subordinate nations of the then UK and to what extent was it a case of appreciating and promoting what was on his doorstep?

Did he also appreciate the national art musics of mainland Europe and the traditional music Scotland and Ireland?

Harker has a theme of bourgoise cultural appropriation of the music of (part of) the prolitariat. It is not hard to find on the internet current examples people being accused of cultural appropration if they play/sing other peoples music and also accusationas of being jingoistic when they play/sing their own. Either way the accusations seem to come from people who, like Harker, have a strong political focus to their view of things.

Happily of course it's not usually like that.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 05:57 AM

@Jim Carroll.

I read with interest your comment about ballads being re-made from plots and commonplaces and have in the back of my mind your earlier post about the some of stories going back to ancient Greece and Egypt.

Related things in the back of my mind are the reworking of ballad texts by the collectors Harker covers in Part 1 of his book, which I was reading at the time that the mudcat "the literary controversy over Ossian" thread was active.

In the same back of my mind is Steve Gardham's quote of Roy Palmer about Bert Lloyd's rewrites "Would you rather have that or not?"

I think that is all rather off-topic so have been saving my thoughts for later. However, when it comes to 'mediating' there seems to be little clarity as to who is 'allowed' to apply their creative skills to a source and when they are required to own up about it.

I guess the scholars and listeners may have different views on this.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 07:28 AM

Not sure it's a matter of being "allowed to" Jag - everybody did it to one extent o another
It's a problem for researchers but not necessarily for singers who wish to sing the songs
People like MacColl and Lloyd started as singers - Bert often seemed not to be able to make up which side of the line he wanted to be on
I know from talking to Ewan's contemporaries that he got many songs from his parents in fragmentary form and built them from other versions
I really think it to be more than a little begrudging to accuse many of the early collectors of "fakery" and dishonesty - they were song collectors gathering songs they thought worth singing, not social historians
Jim


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 07:37 AM

The Coppers whose recordings are being sold on Amazon are all dead, so don't be too hard on them for their choice of retailers.

I gave alternatives to Amazon. Nobody needs to buy from them.


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