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Dave Harker, Fakesong

Vic Smith 04 Feb 20 - 12:45 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Feb 20 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,HiLo 04 Feb 20 - 12:22 PM
GUEST,jag 04 Feb 20 - 12:14 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Feb 20 - 11:14 AM
Brian Peters 04 Feb 20 - 11:13 AM
Brian Peters 04 Feb 20 - 11:04 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 10:35 AM
Jack Campin 04 Feb 20 - 10:26 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 10:23 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 10:20 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 10:15 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 09:57 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 09:21 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 09:17 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 09:08 AM
Vic Smith 04 Feb 20 - 09:08 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Feb 20 - 09:07 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 09:05 AM
Jack Campin 04 Feb 20 - 08:57 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 08:49 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Feb 20 - 08:22 AM
GUEST,jag 04 Feb 20 - 08:21 AM
GUEST,jag 04 Feb 20 - 08:11 AM
Jack Campin 04 Feb 20 - 07:57 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 07:54 AM
GUEST 04 Feb 20 - 07:38 AM
GUEST 04 Feb 20 - 07:35 AM
GUEST,jag 04 Feb 20 - 07:30 AM
Jack Campin 04 Feb 20 - 07:14 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 06:50 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 06:48 AM
GUEST,jag 04 Feb 20 - 06:45 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 06:12 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 06:11 AM
Jack Campin 04 Feb 20 - 06:11 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Feb 20 - 06:03 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 06:03 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 06:01 AM
GUEST,jag 04 Feb 20 - 05:52 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 05:47 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Feb 20 - 05:44 AM
GUEST,jag 04 Feb 20 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 04:40 AM
GUEST,jag 04 Feb 20 - 04:14 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Feb 20 - 02:59 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 03 Feb 20 - 07:43 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Feb 20 - 05:04 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Feb 20 - 05:03 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 03 Feb 20 - 04:49 PM
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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 10:23 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: 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 - 10:15 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 - 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: 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 - 09:17 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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,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: 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: 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,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: 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
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,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: 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,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: 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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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 - 06:12 AM

Jack is right about Spencer. Thanks, Jack.


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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: 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: 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: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 06:03 AM

Zephaniah of course

xxxx


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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,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 - 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: 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,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: 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 - 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: 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,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: 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: 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: 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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