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Dave Harker, Fakesong

GUEST,Pseudonymous 12 Jan 20 - 10:15 AM
Howard Jones 12 Jan 20 - 08:45 AM
Steve Gardham 12 Jan 20 - 08:12 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Jan 20 - 07:19 AM
Richard Mellish 12 Jan 20 - 06:51 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Jan 20 - 06:36 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 12 Jan 20 - 06:31 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Jan 20 - 06:22 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 12 Jan 20 - 06:12 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 12 Jan 20 - 06:08 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Jan 20 - 04:24 AM
Steve Gardham 12 Jan 20 - 04:13 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Jan 20 - 03:48 AM
RTim 11 Jan 20 - 09:59 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 11 Jan 20 - 07:24 PM
Steve Gardham 11 Jan 20 - 02:31 PM
Steve Gardham 11 Jan 20 - 02:29 PM
Steve Gardham 11 Jan 20 - 02:13 PM
Steve Gardham 11 Jan 20 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 11 Jan 20 - 12:43 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 11 Jan 20 - 08:38 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 11 Jan 20 - 05:31 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 11 Jan 20 - 05:20 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Jan 20 - 03:41 AM
Joe Offer 10 Jan 20 - 07:10 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 10 Jan 20 - 07:05 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 10 Jan 20 - 07:03 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Jan 20 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 10 Jan 20 - 05:02 PM
Steve Gardham 13 Aug 15 - 09:46 AM
Vic Smith 13 Aug 15 - 09:12 AM
GUEST,matt milton 13 Aug 15 - 07:35 AM
Vic Smith 13 Aug 15 - 07:15 AM
GUEST,matt milton 13 Aug 15 - 05:28 AM
Phil Edwards 13 Aug 15 - 05:08 AM
Steve Gardham 13 Aug 15 - 03:07 AM
MGM·Lion 13 Aug 15 - 01:53 AM
MGM·Lion 13 Aug 15 - 01:45 AM
Steve Gardham 12 Aug 15 - 06:02 PM
The Sandman 12 Aug 15 - 05:42 PM
GUEST,Georgina Boyes 12 Aug 15 - 10:16 AM
Lighter 12 Aug 15 - 10:11 AM
Stanron 12 Aug 15 - 09:31 AM
GUEST,MikeOfNorthumbria (sans cookie) 12 Aug 15 - 09:04 AM
Lighter 12 Aug 15 - 07:12 AM
Jack Blandiver 12 Aug 15 - 06:56 AM
Lighter 11 Aug 15 - 06:17 PM
GUEST,Ewan McVicar 11 Aug 15 - 05:39 PM
Vic Smith 11 Aug 15 - 05:24 PM
GUEST,jim younger guest 11 Aug 15 - 01:52 PM
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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 12 Jan 20 - 10:15 AM

I have an essay by Atkinson in which he discusses the points of view of Child and Sharp which gives me a well argued and reasonable alternative to Harker, while having some degree of broad overlap. It's called The Ballad and Its Paradoxes. I think I found it on JSTOR. It was a Katherine Briggs Memorial Lecture in 2012.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Howard Jones
Date: 12 Jan 20 - 08:45 AM

For those of the Harker/Boyes persuasion it appears that their only interest in folk song is that it represents working-class culture. They don't seem to be very interested in its artistic merits.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Jan 20 - 08:12 AM

Thanks for that simple explanation, Richard. You are of course correct.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jan 20 - 07:19 AM

Then we write off history, literature, science.... and virtual every other achievement made by humanity that was aarrived at by a educated elite, do we?
Of course we don't
Dave Harker is of the higher educated elite in Britan as things stand at present, which makes him suspect by those rules
The significance of Sharp et al is that they recognised as being of the people
Of cours the tradition as a whole as dead, all but a few survivals among the Travellers
The Irish settled singers had participated in a living tradition but they all insisted it was of the distant past
The situation changed when the people became passive recipients rather nan active participants of their creative cultures - that is getting more and more the case, even in the revival
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 12 Jan 20 - 06:51 AM

Steve Gardham
> Here's a valid analogy: Do we accept the version of history presented to us by the elite, and what happens when new research shows some of this to be plain lies, or heavily biased?

Jim Carroll
> "Elite " is an unbelievably loaded accusation
These people did the work - we didn't because the tradition was dead by the time we got to it.

Jim, Steve may care to clarify, but surely he was suggesting an analogy with history in general, most of which was indeed written by a more-or-less elite. I don't think he was commenting on the social status of the collectors. FWIW most of them were middle class, but not all of them.

And BTW, you yourself have written about your own collecting from a tradition that may have been past its prime but was certainly not dead.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jan 20 - 06:36 AM

DO NOT BELIEVE WHAT HIS MAN HAD TO SAY - HE'S BIASED
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 12 Jan 20 - 06:31 AM

I was interested to see that Harker cited Terry Eagleton as one of his influences. I have several books by Eagleton, including one on Shakespeare. He argues, delightfully, that the three witches are the heroines of Macbeth (though, he says, Shakespeare did not realise this himself) because they expose a reverence for hierarchical social order, the 'pious self-deception of a society based on routine oppression and incessant warfare'. Linking, perhaps, to Steve's point on the opinions of elites?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jan 20 - 06:22 AM

When is this witch-hunting of people whose political views conflict with that of our pet troll going to end
Sharp was a Fabian socialsi hmanitarian so that excludes his opinions, it would appear
Loy'd, macColl Gerry Sharp Alan Bush and many hundreds of those who launched the present folk revival can play no part in ur considerations
As for all those leftiess like Eric Bogle and Leon Rossleson, who used the tradition to prodice some of the best left-humanitariian songs
I wonder if Mrsh Thatcher or Norman Tebbitt had anything to say on folk song - now that might put us on the right path to understanding folk song....
Please let this stop now before someone exorcises the spitit of senetor Jowe and demands we sell our friends out
Politics should never play a apart in these discussions
Jim Carroll


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

Grey cells again, I should have put 'intended readership'. In Harker's case the members of his local party branch, of course.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 12 Jan 20 - 06:08 AM

@ Steve I can't really claim to be a 'serious researcher' in this instance. But I think your reasoning applies just as well to, say, an enquiring reader taking a serious interest.

In Harker's favour, he is explicit about his political/theoretical stance and his intended authorship. Some would argue that all researchers should do this.

Harker's book came out before Arthur's biography of Lloyd. I've read that. Because of Harker's political slant, I think he is quite good on Lloyd's pro USSR, CPGB-related slant, and the effect of this on Folk Song in England that I had thought myself. He is also quite good on how Lloyd used his party connections to get work and forge a career, though I felt he could have pointed out that Lloyd must have had and is reported to have had, good social skills to do this. I know and can see to some extent why so many people regard Lloyd's history as a bible, and as inspirational, but I think Harker is quite good on its contradictions and on the extent to which (and here I use my own words) Lloyd just wrote stuff for which he did not (and possibly could not) provide either reference or evidence. Again, this reflects my own thoughts on Lloyd.

It is an interesting read, though I agree that at times, not being one of Harker's intended audience, I find the tone a bit off-putting.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jan 20 - 04:24 AM

"Do we accept the version of history presented to us by the elite,"
"Elite " is an unbelievably loaded accusation
These people did the work - we didn't because the tradition was dead by the time we got to it
Our understanding must be based on what they found and our own common sense
Smearing the pioneers by branding them as "elite" is the last thing we need
This is getting as bad as the attacks on Walter Pardon
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Jan 20 - 04:13 AM

Tim
Any controversial book is always worth reading. The fact that it is so controversial means, if you can avoid the obvious political agenda, you can find some very useful information. It brings together much of the past very real concerns we have over the mediation of the editors from Ramsay right up to Bert. Whilst this information has very little interest to most of the people on Mudcat who are happy with what is set in front of them, serious researchers want to know the truth, or at least the greater likelihoods based on their own detailed research.

Here's a valid analogy: Do we accept the version of history presented to us by the elite, and what happens when new research shows some of this to be plain lies, or heavily biased?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jan 20 - 03:48 AM

"but is it really worth it??"
It should have been the most important work to have come out of the latter years of the the 20th century but turned out to be an exercise in book-burning, based on the old building trade adage that "it's far easier to tear down something somebody else has built that to put up something yourself"
I'm afraid that philosophy seems to have caught on with some when you read some of the comments on the work of pioneers like Child and Sharp
Unless the folk scene learns to incorporate the work of all instead of hastily sweeping it aside to make room fo the latest craze, fols song scholarship will become like putting on clean socks every morning
These pioneers may have made mistakes, but many of them actually met the people whose songs they wrote about and listened to what they had to say
There are very few of today's desk-jockeys who can make that claim

I found 'Fakesong' and 'The Imagined Village' to ahve the most negative and depressingly difficult works on folk song I ever forced myself to read

Jack Beeforth
We were given recordings of this singer by a late friend, Dave Howes - interesting stuff
Unfortnately the rerecordings were made in difficult circumstances - Jack was very ill at the time - bedridden - and the recording set their machine onto 'automatic', so they are not of the best quality

Dave Hillary had a holiday home in Whitby, last tine I met him
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: RTim
Date: 11 Jan 20 - 09:59 PM

I guess I should read the copy that has been in my bookshelf for at least 20 years sometime...but is it really worth it??

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 11 Jan 20 - 07:24 PM

@ Steve. I apologise profusely. Grey cells faltering ? - as previously discussed. Thank you for pointing out my error with your usual courtesy. I appreciate that.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 11 Jan 20 - 02:31 PM

Tzu
It matters to me 'Jacky Beeforth'. I never met him as far as I know, but his neighbour is a good friend of mine.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 11 Jan 20 - 02:29 PM

A decent but lengthy start to reading about fakesong is the ESPB itself. Reading, as I have frequently, Child's headnotes to each ballad, you can't escape from the fact that Child heavily criticised, occasionally with sacrcasm, many of the versions, particularly in the first 3 volumes. (For some reason after that he suddenly went silent...I have my suspicions why), particularly the overegged versions of Peter Buchan.

If you want a very short summary, just before he died, see p182 in vol.5, his parting shot.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 11 Jan 20 - 02:13 PM

Although I have read recently some lengthy academic papers That go into the history of how the word 'folk' was evolved to be attached to lore/tales/music/dance/song, and they try to claim with some success the terminology is heavily flawed, I think everyone here knows that whatever their limitations are they are real and can and are applied to a specific body of material. My only get out clause is that I don't accept that the boundaries are as rigid as some would have it.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 11 Jan 20 - 02:02 PM

Hi Nick
Not sure if you're referring to the book title or just the concept in your final sentence. Personally as you would expect from my previous comments it matters a great deal to researchers into the history of individual songs. My own thought on the examples that you give is that any mediation by source/vernacular singers is simply part of the vernacular tradition, call it what you will.

However, sophisticated editors mediating material and then trying to pass it off as directly from tradition, is not just deception (whichever way you look at it) but causes a great deal of misinformation in research.

Whether there is a grey area between the two is something I have not yet looked into.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 11 Jan 20 - 12:43 PM

I have been trying to summarise what Harker says he is doing, the account he gives in the introduction of what the argument of the book will be. His concept of 'mediation' is important. I started by looking at that because he calls the people whose work he discusses 'mediators'. Two examples of mediators are Child and A L Lloyd. The former compiled a famous selection of ballads and the latter was, among other things, the writer of an influential book purporting to set out a history of 'folk song' in England, 'Folk Song in England' as well as an earlier shorter piece on the same topic.

Harker says that 'mediation' refers not just to the fact that people (the ones he discusses) passed on songs they had taken from other sources but also to the fact that what they passed on may have reflected their own 'assumptions, attitudes, likes and dislikes' in that these determined what they looked for and what they accepted and rejected. In addition, Harker points out that what he calls 'material' factors were involved, such as the fact that some people had the time and resources to engage in their mediating activities at all. He says that the class position of those doing the work and their ideologies will have been connected in complex ways. The latter is a classic Marxist point, I suppose.

The term and concept 'mediation' seems to have been useful: Dave Hillery makes use of it in his comparative thesis related to Jack Beechforth and three other singers. It is on page 24, 69, 95, 152, 157, 320. The thesis is here: https://theses.ncl.ac.uk/jspui/handle/10443/158

Hillery suggests that some singers themselves engaged in 'mediation' with Joseph Taylor offered as an example. He also suggests that collecting a song shorn of its customary context is another form of 'mediation'.

So it might be interesting to discuss whether this concept of mediation is valid and useful? Just a suggestion.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 11 Jan 20 - 08:38 AM

I have yet to hear a definition of a 'Fakesong' that I could understand, or with which I could agree.
I have sat in front of singers of the old songs from all walks of life, and watched them point out the alterations they have made to the songs they learned from their father, who in his turn learned it in the pub from a singer who was not a blood relative. (Traditional??)
I watched an old singer from Dorset, look at a set of words, suggest a tune, (The Manchester Angel) and then tell me the tune was used in the village for the Lincolnshire Poacher. Yes I collected all of the songs. Anyone able to tell me which is the Fake? Simply retreating into a quibble about definition, or suggesting the whole concept of Folk song is a lie, will only result in the attachment of yet another label to the same musical medium. I suggest we allow ourselves some guilt free subjectivity, and put Harker back on the dusty shelf where he belongs, allowing Fakesong the footnote it deserves.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 11 Jan 20 - 05:31 AM

@ Steve: re the comment above on Child not being a 'Colector.This is right. I also think I have a handle on Child. He was a philologist (who also taught history and maths). In his day English Literature as we know it today did not really exist as a subject. As you will know, Atkinson at some point describes/discusses what Child did with texts. I also have a selected bibliography and discography on Child somewhere by Atkinson. Child was not a 'literary critic' as this might be understood today. So his main contribution on Chaucer related to the grammar not to character or poetry analysis. Haven't read Harker on Child yet, started with the intro and went to the Chapter on Lloyd, having already read two long bits by Lloyd including the Penguin on folk song, and the biography by Arthur.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 11 Jan 20 - 05:20 AM

@ Steve: by the way, I know that I am not so well-informed as some on this site, but my interest is genuine and I do have some knowledge of the literature. I know about the discussions on Percy, for example, one of the people Child drew on. In fact Child worked very hard to get hold of Percy, did he not? By the way, my educational background in case this is of interest is that I 'majored' as they say in the US in English and Psychology (hence the interest in social science research methods, which overlap with those of ethnomusicology to some degree). I know some theory of music, play piano and guitar (badly) and used to play melodeon for traditional clog dancing. I am also interested in politics: I once read a book with a lot about Trotsky in it, by a US sociologist called C Wright Mills, but have forgotten almost everything about it, it was about four decades ago, and I know some current SWP members, (very good on anti-racism they are too) so I have a rough idea where Harker is coming from viz a viz the CPGB.ñ


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Jan 20 - 03:41 AM

Not going to be around long enough to participate in this, but for a ballad by ballad analysis, you might try 'The British Traditional Ballad in North America by Tristam P Coffin - by no means complete, but some excellent commentaries and excellent

Harker's 'Fakesong' is one of the most damaging work sever to hve been written o folksong in my opinion
Harker relied on the support and generosity of people who knew ald loved folkson far more than he did - I believe he betrayed that trust - I actually heard some of those who helped him say as much
At the time he said publicly (at a Sheffield conference, I think) that the hostile reception he was being given forced him into refuse talking questions when he spoke
Unforunately he has now become the darling of some researchers who wish to debunk the work of the pioneers

Child may have been "only an editor" - his strength was his reliance on te work of collectors
He expressed his contempt for and mistrust of broadsides as clearly as anybody else ever has
It is to his credit that he had the integrity to use when he had no alternative them, rather than ignore them
They are largely pretty awful
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 07:10 PM

Here is the URL for the book. I'll change it to a link when I get home.


https://archive.org/details/FakesongD.Harker/page/n2


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 07:05 PM

I also agreed with some of the points Lighter makes in this thread.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 07:03 PM

Hello Steve

This is a very kind offer; I really do appreciate it.

I read some of your comments on this book already, and would indeed be interested.

I know something about Lloyd's 'tinkering', having read some material on this eg the work of Gregory. I know there was some 'tinkering' with one of the singers covered by Hillery, the collector had to give him word sheets as he could not remember the words to the songs. (Did I read this in Atkinson somewhere?). Having been suspected of actually being Dave Harker (on the MacColl thread) I am interested to read his book at long last.

Thank you again
Tzu


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 06:12 PM

Pseu,
When you've finished reading it, if you are interested, I can give you some concrete examples of fakery by some of those accused, but as we've said earlier for the majority of those accused, we simply have no way of knowing the actual extent of it. There are some excellent academic books and theses not so well-known that go into the fakery that was taking place in the eighteenth century. David C Fowler is excellent in this respect, and I've come across several academics who imply that many of the ballads in the Child canon were deliberately fabricated by sophisticated hands in the eighteenth century, and this continued through into the early-nineteenth. Chambers may have been wrong when he attributed many of them to one writer, but his thesis may have been correct if applied to several writers, all possibly co-operating or being tutored.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 10 Jan 20 - 05:02 PM

I've read a lot about this book, including this thread, but only just begun to read it. Just after the library says it will get hold of a copy for me, I discover it is online at the archive.org web site. I discovered this by chance when googling. So I'm sharing the knowledge, since 2nd hand copies are expensive.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 09:46 AM

Phil,
The ESPB itself is still the prevailing commentary on each of the 305 ballads. Yes, further versions have surfaced since his time and he was largely blissfully unaware that some of these ballads existed on his own doorstep. The first stopping point for all scholars is still usually what Child had to say about the ballad in his headnotes to each ballad. The next point might be Bronson or finding out if anything further has been done on a particular ballad. There are some glaring errors but these are simply because he didn't have the necessary information at that time. For instance, many of his notes to Child 20 actually apply to 21 but from the info he had he wasn't to know that.

Matt, yes most came from existing collections. Child was a scholar and editor, not a collector. Some came solely from broadsides (e.g. most of Robin Hood ballads) but not that many.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 09:12 AM

Phil Edwards wrote -
"Is there a ballad-by-ballad commentary on Child anywhere? I'm thinking of something that would go through each ballad printed by Child & document.... where Child got it from (as far as we know)


There is none that I know of but might not Bertrand Harris Bronson's 4-volume The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads or even his abridged 1 volume The Singing Tradition of Child's Popular Ballads be the sort of thing that you are seeking.

Both are available from Pete Shepheard's website by clicking here. Of course, you may have to re-mortage your house to get them for as Pete points out - "second hand copies of the four volumes have been fetching well over £1000."


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 07:35 AM

Well Vic, suffice to say that I felt obliged to mention The Imagined Village because aspects of Phil's Fakesong review reminded me strongly of my experience of reading TIV.

But to express my thoughts properly on that book, I would have to re-read it and write a detailed review, like Phil's

And having noticed that Georgina Boyes has contributed to this thread in commendably civil and to-the-point fashion, I will say no more about it.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 07:15 AM

Inevitably in a thread like this, other books have been mentioned for comparison with Dave Harker's book. I mentioned Bob Stewart's Where Is St. George? and Mike Tickell mentioned Georgina Boyes' The Imagined Village.

Personally, I would not be happy to see the three lumped together. The Harker and Stewart books seem to have the authors' own agendas shining through them at the expense of the facts or research. People who have met her will know that politically Georgina is of the left but the careful research and presentation of her book cannot be denied. The pre-2nd World War EFDSS had many worrying unattractive qualities and these were detailed in her book. It was a top-down authoritarian organisation and those at its centre did not like their opinions to be questioned. There was a prevailing strong misogynistic attitude and the work and achievements of women workers in the field was undervalued and what is described as at least a sympathy with Fascism existed.

Steve Gardham wrote -
we have to be careful when condemning that we treat the perpetrators in the spirit of their own times and take into consideration their reasons.

....and this was as true in the 1930s as it was in the times of Scott. Child and Sharp, but what Georgina wrote needed to be said.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 05:28 AM

Didn't most of Child's collection come from printed broadsides? And from earlier ballad collections? (Many instances of which are now readily available to view online.)

I also read that he deliberately excluded some ballads due to sexual inuendo (such as 'The Crabfish') – which suggests to me that he favoured exclusion rather than bowdlerisation.

Doubtless someone much better informed than me could confirm.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 05:08 AM

Is there a ballad-by-ballad commentary on Child anywhere? I'm thinking of something that would go through each ballad printed by Child & document

where Child got it from (as far as we know)
any concerns expressed by Child and others (e.g. Chambers)
any reasons we might now suspect major rewriting or outright fabrication (e.g. single sourcing)
and conversely any examples of the same or a similar song being collected independently - for instance, Child only had a thoroughly prettied-up version of the Holland Handkerchief, but the song was collected later in Ireland.

Is there a scholarly edition of Child with all of that in, or has anyone written a Companion to Child...?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 03:07 AM

My main problem with the fakers is not that they did it. In most cases they had valid reasons and were of their time, but all of them had the opportunity to come clean at a later stage, when they mostly regretted what they had done; but they didn't and now their works are tainted because we will never know to what extent they faked the material. This was Child's greatest exasperation with the material if you read his correspondence.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 01:53 AM

"Thoms is credited with inventing the word 'folklore' in an 1846 letter to the Athenaeum. He invented this compound word to replace the various other terms used at the time, including "popular antiquities" or "popular literature". He was fond of the works of Jacob Grimm, which he considered remarkable." -- Wikipedia


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Aug 15 - 01:45 AM

folklore (and all other uses of 'folk' as a prefix) is not a scientifically fixed concept, it is an umbrella word that can be described but not easily set down...
.,,.

...and also surprisingly modern; first used in English [presumably derived from German volks], it appears, by W J Thoms in 1846 (see my entry on 'Folklore' in The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Literature - 2003). Before that such terms as "popular" [as still used later on by Child], "household" [as in the translations of the Grimms' collections of German folktales] &c would be used.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 06:02 PM

>>>>>Fakesong reckons "folk music" as an empty concept faked up by and for outsiders out of a patronizing, hypocritical sentimentalism, and - once their artificial fad had caught on - their self-serving ambitions.<<<<<<< Jon.

There is some obvious truth here. Nearly all folklorists in the past can be accused of being selective and reading far too much into the artefacts they sought to record. Selective in what they chose to ask for and selective in what they sought to publish. However they manipulated the artefacts the concept cannot be described as empty, so in that respect Harker was definitely wrong. As some posters have already said folklore (and all other uses of 'folk' as a prefix) is not a scientifically fixed concept, it is an umbrella word that can be described but not easily set down with distinct limits.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 05:42 PM

I am sure it is more interesting than Maos' little red book, now there really was someone who was a bollocks.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Georgina Boyes
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 10:16 AM

To clear up a few points.

The Imagined Village is about the ideas that underlie the emergence and development of the English Folk Revival. What shaped the proposals that there was a 'Folk' in England and why did people feel their culture was in danger and needed reviving?

I wasn't by any means the first to suggest that the whole concept of the Folk as it came to be presented over time by most Folklorists and then later by Folksong collectors was illogical and bore no relation to the real people who sang, told stories, danced or took part in the customs at the end of the 19th century or into the 20th. The heading of Chapter 1 is a quote taken from Joseph Jacobs (1854-1916) who wrote in 1893 that the Folk was 'a fraud, a delusion, a myth' and simply 'a name for our ignorance'.

Jacob's whole, short article is still relevant today and could potentially reduce the amount of misinformation in some contributions to this discussion.

Also, I've written quite a lot of articles and sleeve notes that engage with the content of songs, but this particular piece of work was about the Folk rather than the specifics of what they sang.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 10:11 AM

Harker was arguing - at least to some extent - that "British folk music" is a "bourgeois" categorization of something essentially like any other kind of music enjoyed by the working class.

See the countless threads on "What is folk music?" for endless, though usually less Marxian, discussion.

Fakesong reckons "folk music" as an empty concept faked up by and for outsiders out of a patronizing, hypocritical sentimentalism, and - once their artificial fad had caught on - their self-serving ambitions.

IMO, the reality was neither so stark nor so mischievous.

IMO.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Stanron
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 09:31 AM

The 'conspiratorial intent' could have come from a need to validate / invalidate imperialism, upper / lower class superiority or exploitation, or any of a number of things. I've not read any of the books mentioned and not fully read the review linked in the first post but the bit I did read reminded me that I've long thought that the term 'Folk' was a construction in the mind of the collector rather than a truth and has had a number of different interpretations or definitions since first use. It's fair enough to point out that 'traditional' singers since Cecil Sharp might have considered their material as 'Folk' but the people who composed the ballads that ended up in the old collections probably didn't because the term had yet to be construed. They would have thought they were writing songs. The people who learned those songs were doing exactly what any spotty teenager today does when they learn a song by ? (actually I don't know the names of anyone who today's spotty youth would be listening to but the principle stands)

The name, Folk, is a convenient label but not something I can be seriously pedantic about. I like my music acoustic, intimate, rootsy, honest and beautiful. I like to think that it is a natural part of everyone and not the preserve of a talented few and I prefer it to be unpolluted by any kind of political or commercial agenda. Calling it folk is a nice simple act of categorisation.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,MikeOfNorthumbria (sans cookie)
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 09:04 AM

A very interesting and informative thread. The linked reviews by David Gregory and Phil Edwards are both excellent, and both agree pretty much with my own responses to 'Fakesong' (some interesting ideas, but author appears to be in danger of drowning in his own bile') and to 'The Imagined Village' (also some interesting ideas, but they deserve a more balanced analysis).   

Both books seemed to be overly concerned with point-scoring and name-calling in factional disputes between small sects of scholarly and/or political enthusiasts. (Rather like the mutually hostile liberation movements in Monty Python's Life of Brian).

And yet ... when I heard Dave Harker give a lecture in Newcastle for the 150th anniversary celebration of the Blaydon Races ('Eighteen hundred and Sixty-two on a summers afternoon')he seemed to be a very capable scholar, and a decent enough bloke - an impression reinforced when I had a brief chat with him afterwards. Maybe he's mellowed a bit over the last few decades?

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 07:12 AM

"Manufacture" sounds especially calculating in the context of cultural artifacts.

You generally need a team of some sort to "manufacture" (rather than "craft," "create," "make," etc.) something.

And in this case a team effort suggests (only rhetorically, of course) some kind of conspiratorial intent.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 12 Aug 15 - 06:56 AM

I can also remember disagreeing strongly with Bob Stewart's 1988 book Where is St. George? and found the disagreement thought-provoking.... though less stimulating than the Harker book because it was less well written.

I found my old copies of both of these recently whilst re-arranging my folk-shelves. Even took a picture for Facebook (CLICK!) with the legend : A couple of Folkin' Classics nailing the extremes from the weird to the wonderful...


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter
Date: 11 Aug 15 - 06:17 PM

Yesterday's 6:48 pm GUEST was me.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar
Date: 11 Aug 15 - 05:39 PM

My basic impression of Harker's book was that he appeared to marshalling 'evidence' he liked the look of to deliver what he considered would be a knockout blow against somebody or some people, but then never swung his fist forward. I was left rather bemused. I was interested to learn from Maggie Mackay of the School of Scottish Studies that she was similarly frustrated by the lack of delivery at the end. We were left puzzled at who it was he was trying to convict.
From the above it looks like others managed to get the point more clearly than we did.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith
Date: 11 Aug 15 - 05:24 PM

Steve Gardham makes an important point -
"Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."


I read this book not long after it came out. My initial memory of reading it was initially how much I disagreed with it. But it also made me think deeply about the subject about why I disagreed with it and helped me form my own opinions. In fact this thread makes me want to read it again - but when I look at my shelves of folk music books, it is no longer there!

I can also remember disagreeing strongly with Bob Stewart's 1988 book Where is St. George? and found the disagreement thought-provoking.... though less stimulating than the Harker book because it was less well written.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jim younger guest
Date: 11 Aug 15 - 01:52 PM

When I read Fakesong, I was struck by the glee the author seemed to take in Alfred Wiliams's disappointing ( to say the least) last years. Now, if only AW had been a Marxist ... or a even member of a forerunner of the SWP ... he might have been given more sympathetic treatment.


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