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Dave Harker, Fakesong

Brian Peters 06 Feb 20 - 02:14 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Feb 20 - 03:11 PM
Joe Offer 06 Feb 20 - 04:07 PM
The Sandman 06 Feb 20 - 04:24 PM
Richard Mellish 06 Feb 20 - 05:57 PM
Joe Offer 06 Feb 20 - 06:05 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Feb 20 - 06:22 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Feb 20 - 06:29 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 06 Feb 20 - 06:42 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Feb 20 - 03:29 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Feb 20 - 03:47 AM
Jack Campin 07 Feb 20 - 03:53 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Feb 20 - 03:59 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Feb 20 - 04:06 AM
GUEST 07 Feb 20 - 04:09 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Feb 20 - 04:10 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Feb 20 - 04:25 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Feb 20 - 04:39 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Feb 20 - 04:45 AM
Brian Peters 07 Feb 20 - 04:58 AM
Brian Peters 07 Feb 20 - 05:06 AM
GUEST 07 Feb 20 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,jag 07 Feb 20 - 05:37 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Feb 20 - 05:59 AM
GUEST,jag 07 Feb 20 - 07:44 AM
Brian Peters 07 Feb 20 - 07:49 AM
Brian Peters 07 Feb 20 - 07:52 AM
Brian Peters 07 Feb 20 - 08:00 AM
Richard Mellish 07 Feb 20 - 09:57 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Feb 20 - 10:07 AM
Iains 07 Feb 20 - 10:08 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Feb 20 - 10:15 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Feb 20 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Feb 20 - 10:22 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Feb 20 - 10:34 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Feb 20 - 10:51 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Feb 20 - 10:55 AM
GUEST,jag 07 Feb 20 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,jag 07 Feb 20 - 11:15 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Feb 20 - 11:22 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Feb 20 - 02:11 PM
Jack Campin 07 Feb 20 - 02:25 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Feb 20 - 02:35 PM
Brian Peters 07 Feb 20 - 02:46 PM
The Sandman 07 Feb 20 - 03:18 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Feb 20 - 03:49 PM
Jack Campin 07 Feb 20 - 05:00 PM
GUEST,jag 07 Feb 20 - 05:07 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Feb 20 - 05:39 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 07 Feb 20 - 05:58 PM
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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 06 Feb 20 - 02:14 PM

And, since we are supposed to be dicsussing 'Fakesong', here is Harker's take on Sharp's attitude:

"No consideration is given to the idea that it was [...] the broadside[s] which were the essential elements of cultural continuity and dissemination. Professionalism and commercial song-culture were, evidently, to be discounted."

This is pretty close to the exact opposite of what Sharp wrote in he passage I've described.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Feb 20 - 03:11 PM

"I read Jim's point as being that they were not intending to document the society that the singers lived in."
I meant exactly that Jag
Jack is right that they were antiquarians, but rather than put what they collected into a social context they treated them as curious artifacts
I have numerous books of examples of these - Timbs, Tooms, Chambers, Hone. 'Notes and Queries', the Gentleman's Magazine.... fascinating stuff to dip into for hours on end and packed full of useful information, but with no overall objective

I think the earliest publication of this sort we have that includes songs is the four bound volumes of 'The Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend (1888- 1891 which has columns of ballads and songs (with tunes) submitted by Stokoe and Reay
One of the most treasured book we ever bought was a slim, calf-bound soft-back with 'Jacobite Songs embossed on the cover (it cost us 7 shilling and sixpence
It turned out to be a lined exercise book with around 160 Jacobite songs beautifully written in almost copper-plate handwriting with tunes precisely laid out in tonic-solfa
There's no name on it, just a leaflet advertising a lantern-slide lecture on 'The McGregor Country' dated 1916 - you can see the handwriting getting old as the book proceeds - obviously a life's work for some unnamed hero

I think the most worrying thing that has upset e during these arguments is the attempt to offer bullshit as facts instead of honest findings
Earlier on I was told firmly that the "Buchan controversy was done and dusted" when in fact it is no such thing
I was told that Buchan's greatest supporter was a businessman who knew nothing of ballads
I'd forgotten we have a 2 volume copy of Ford's Vagabond Songs that had once been part of Walker's library and which are full of his learned comments on the songs contained
I found a published collection of Walkers letters and essays on ballads and discovered that, far from being an ignoramus on the subject he was a man well aware of the importance of the people's songs
It seems to me that many of these theories are being pushed forward by suppressing facts
I believe Harker has done much to set this ball rolling
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Feb 20 - 04:07 PM

I'm still waiting for somebody to post specific information about particular songs that have been "faked."
In the US, I can refer you to any number of songs from John Jacob Niles, but I was hoping someone would post specific examples here of the "fakesongs" that Harker refers to.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Feb 20 - 04:24 PM

joe , i doubt if you will hear of any.Harker is someone who masturbates intellectually.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 06 Feb 20 - 05:57 PM

I'm still having trouble following some of the arguments here, but as far as I can see all agree that many (most?) collectors/publishers altered songs for publication, for one reason or another. That isn't fakery. What is fakery is to alter a song and pass it off as an authentic collected specimen.

Even worse fakery is to publish something that one has written oneself and claim some other genesis for it. Received wisdom is that most of the collectors didn't go that far but that a few of them did.

Are we all agreed on that much, or is someone going to disagree?

If we are agreed on that much, is it useful to cite cases (such as Peter Buchan or Bert Lloyd)?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Feb 20 - 06:05 PM

Richard Mellish says: Even worse fakery is to publish something that one has written oneself and claim some other genesis for it.

That's clearly the case with John Jacob Niles, but I don't know of others who so clearly "faked" folk songs.

At a song circle a month or two ago, I was talking about Niles and his fakery. A couple of songs later, a woman said "here's a John Jacob Niles" song that certainly isn't a fake. The flowery language and perfect grammar of the lyrics made it clear that the song was indeed another Niles fake.

After studying lyrics for a few years, it becomes easy to sort out what's traditional and what's commercial.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Feb 20 - 06:22 PM

Brian
I will have to reread 'Conclusions' I can see.' >>>>>even before he met Sharp.<<<<<. I would like to see the evidence for that one. I was aware that BG changed his mind several times of how influential the broadsides were, but I thought his 'turning' came after he met Sharp and started collaborating with him.
I didn't say Kidson offered a specific theory. He had a pretty big collection of broadsides early on and used broadsides a lot and referred to them in TT so he obviously had the knowledge. He was also very aware of the links to the stage and more highbrow origins of some of the songs that were sung at the likes of Vauxhall...Sweet Nightingale, Colin & Phoebe etc.

>>>>Of course he also believed that broadsides were derived ultimately from oral tradition<<<<<. Have we any evidence that Kidson/BG thought this? My own view here is well-known. Of course as I've said many times there was significant interaction between print and oral tradition but when you trace any of them back to the earliest manifestation it is commercial urban, and the evidence within the texts themselves is this is how they originated. However this is not what we're discussing here and it is threaddrift.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Feb 20 - 06:29 PM

Richard
I've more or less said the same as this further up the thread.

Re Buchan, a good start would be to flag up Child's comments and then take it from there. Or perhaps even a better start to post Child's dying comments from Vol 5.

I think Bert's contributions are probably well flagged up on other threads.

>>>>>After studying lyrics for a few years, it becomes easy to sort out what's traditional and what's commercial.<<<<<<....Joe, unless you're severely blinkered.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 06 Feb 20 - 06:42 PM

Regarding Brian's discussion (1.54; 2.14), he makes a great many sensible points.

May I provide the context and the full quotation from Harker?

Harker is taking Sharp up on his discussion of 'continuity', one of his three principles relating to the 'evolution' of the folk song. Sharp argues that a song could remain the same i.e. continuous, against potential arguments that it would get altered because people did not have very good memories. Harker says Sharp provides only 2 examples, one of which involves 2 women who lived in different places, but both of whom sang note by note a tune learned from mummers 30 years earlier. Harker thinks that probably the two women had heard the same group of mummers. He argues that the mummers (whom he regards as 'professional' therefore had a part in the dissemination of that piece of culture. I think his point stands whether or not they did hear the same troupe. He is arguing against Sharp's romantic picture of isolated, self sufficient villages and 'amateur' untrained folk-singers as well as the logic of Sharp's argument, I think.

Harker actually says: 'No consideration is given to the idea that it was the mummers and the broadsides which were the essential elements of cultural continuity and dissemination. Professionalism and commercial song-culture were, evidently, to be discounted'.

So taking up the idea of this being somehow 'opposite' to what Sharp wrote, we have to ask whether Sharp considered the idea whether mummers and broadsides were *essential* elements of cultural continuity and dissemination. If Sharp did consider this idea, then it is fair to say that Harker got it wrong. With respect, I'm not sure that Sharp did. How far this matters is another question, of course!

I think what Harker might be trying to chip away at here is that thread of folkloric thinking that sees 'folk' as being outside or untouched by the world of trade, professionalism, commerce etc?

Brian is right that Sharp doesn't seem to have admired ballad writers in general; but I cannot rate his literary judgement as he says ballads are simple and direct without subtlety: 'like Shakespeare'. Hmm. Interesting view of Shakespeare.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 03:29 AM

"Re Buchan, a good start would be to flag up Child's comments and then take it from there. "
That means nothing Steve, not even to you
How about what Child had to say about the "veritable dunghills" that you claim were the origins of 90%+ of our folk songs - do you treat his expertise on those with the same veneration?
It is about time you argued on your own behalf instead of hiding behind the expertise of others who you select from or reject whenever it suits
Buchan is and will remain an open argument in our lifetime and far beyond
The arguments are contradictory - he produced bad poetry and at the same time superb and highly singable versions of ballads that survived in the oral tradition long after he published them.
He did nothing that other anthologists hadn't done before and after him
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 03:47 AM

With respect, it seems to me that there are several overlapping and interesting and reasonable ideas in some of the more recent threads, and some *possible* sources of confusion:

1 An interest in 'fakery' or 'fake songs' ie songs that have been written by a person who does not count as 'folk' in the eyes of the poster/by certain definitions and passed off as genuine 'folk'. This did happen.

2 The question of what is and is not 'fakery'.

3 The question of what can and cannot be done with a song considered to be 'folk' or 'traditional', which is linked with 2. Much seems to depend upon the claims that are made. The social class of the person doing the alteration seems important to some people. This is why some people try to claim Bert Lloyd ( a well-known tinkerer) as 'working class' however middle class his life style and profession(s). But I don't think this is the end of the matter??

4 The possible confusion relating to the title of Harker's book, which, as Brian pointed out, can be interpreted as suggesting that it is about 'fake songs' when in fact it is about the whole *concept* of 'folk song' especially as it emerged from a) the Romantic era (Scott etc), Percy's Reliques b) in the US Child's work and in England from the work of Victorians followed by Sharp and those coming just after him followed later in the 20th century by Lloyd.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 03:53 AM

Even worse fakery is to publish something that one has written oneself and claim some other genesis for it.
That's clearly the case with John Jacob Niles, but I don't know of others who so clearly "faked" folk songs.


James Hogg with "Donald Macgillivry". Lady John Scott with "Loch Lomond".


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 03:59 AM

What will happen when somebody posts some examples of 'fakery' - of whatever sort - will be probably some thoughtful discussion, a larger amount of heated discussion, and very probably some metaphorical invective relating to onanism and excrement. Excuses will be made in terms of 'context' for some of the 'bowdlerisations' in published materials, I suppose.

Some examples will be said to be improvements upon the 'folk' originals (Lloyd's as we have already seen).

The defence that altering things is part of the folk process may be offered in respect of some examples.

Another defence may be that the parties altering the material were just trying to produce singable songs (but then the question is what they produced 'folk' arises, and in the case where they were operating before modern concepts of 'the folk' and 'the process' had been developed, perhaps with some validity, depending on the degree of honesty with which the new creations were originally represented.

There may be disputes about the facts: I know little about 'Buchan' but already the question about whether he is 'done and dusted' has been raised.

This has all already been happening.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 04:06 AM

Why anybody should treat a piece of opinionated hyperbole coming from the mouth of a philologist with 'reverence' I do not know.

Bawdy songs must have been part of lower class culture, there are periods when we know for sure they were part of upper class culture and there is plenty of that sort of thing in Chaucer and Shakespeare and Boccaccio. Which reminds me to try to find out did Child include the late 17th century poet John Wilmot the Earl of Rochester in his collection of Eng Lit or was that left out?


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

But I was right about the excremental imagery: it was being typed at the same time I composed my post, and now we know who started it all!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 04:10 AM

It seems that nobody is posting evidence of fakery because someone might argue against it
Interesting logic !!!
Case dismissed
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 04:25 AM

Sorry, what I was trying to say above (and probably failed) was we know there are different points of view; I can relate more closely to some than others, maybe we are all in this position. But please can we at least try to discuss the topic without personalised attacks on those who disagree with us and without treating it as a court case/battle/competition? I am vowing to try again on this. We'll have to see how it goes on.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 04:39 AM

"That means nothing Steve, not even to you"

"It is about time you argued on your own behalf instead of hiding behind the expertise of others who you select from or reject whenever it suits"

I'm off. I think we're done here.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 04:45 AM

THese are important points which need to be argued to the full
Many of us have spent most of our lifetimes being 'misled and gullible' if hherker is to be believed
That's a thought not to be taken lying down
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 04:58 AM

Returning to Sharp, printed sources, and the treatment of the topic in ‘Fakesong’, here's what Sharp wrote:

“The ballad broadside, which sprang into life very soon after the invention of printing, consisted of a single sheet of paper, upon one side of which were printed the words only of the ballad, or song. These broadsheets were hawked about the country by packmen, who frequented fairs, village festivals, and public gatherings of all sorts, and who advertised their wares by singing them in market-places, on village greens, in the streets of the towns, and wherever they could attract an audience. In this way ballads and songs were disseminated all over the land. In later days the broadside would have two or more ballads printed upon it, and sometimes several ballads were bound together and distributed in small books of three or four pages, called ‘garlands’...”

On p 193 of ‘Fakesong’, however, we find:
“Kidson's reasonable advice, that a collector must know printed songs before he can pronounce on songs which appear to be 'folksongs', and his Journal article of 1905, were ignored by Sharp.”

But Sharp obviously did “know printed songs”, as evidenced not only by the quote above, but by the numerous references to specific print examples in his song annotations. To claim that Sharp gave “no consideration” to the idea of broadside dissemination, and “discounted” commercial song-culture, is a clear misrepresentation of what Sharp wrote and, since ‘Fakesong’ devotes several pages to ‘Some Conclusions’ and quotes copiously from it, it’s hard to see how this could have been simple oversight.

This issue is important because, as Steve Roud has said, ‘Fakesong’ became the basis for a new consensus.   It’s become received wisdom that, for instance, Sharp knew and said nothing about the broadside trade - just as all kinds of other erroneous assumptions are entertained because ‘Fakesong’ is taken as the last word on the subject while primary sources are overlooked. This has led us to a situation where people who ought to know better have felt at liberty to say pretty much what they like about Sharp, without doing basic checking. One US academic wrote recently in relation to Sharp’s Appalachian collection that “he was interested only in English music and dances” and “ignored the rest” (i.e. American-made songs), a claim that can be refuted simply by reading through he contents of ‘English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians’ and observing titles like ‘Old Joe Clark’, ‘John Hardy’, Omie Wise’ and ‘Swanannoa Town’. The authors of a mainstream reference work on popular music, titled (probably not coincidentally) ‘Faking It’, felt able to assert that Sharp was advancing “proto-fascist theories of a pan-European Aryan race”.

As Roud commented in‘The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs’ (he didn’t name ‘Fakesong’, but it’s quite clear what he’s talking about), “the polemic that was produced [...] with a strong political agenda” has “warped the debate ever since”. If I may borrow one of Dave Harker’s many colourful phrases, perhaps it’s time to recognize ‘Fakesong’ as “intellectual rubble which needs to be shifted so that building can begin again.”


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 05:06 AM

>>>>>even before he met Sharp.<<<<<. I would like to see the evidence for that one. I was aware that BG changed his mind several times of how influential the broadsides were, but I thought his 'turning' came after he met Sharp and started collaborating with him.

Steve, I found that information in Martin Graebe's biography of SBG who, in the 'Plymouth Manuscript' (dated 1892, completed 1900) wrote: "...when I first started collecting in 1888... I was under the impression they were all taken from broadsides. Later I came to a different opinion & I now hold that in a good many cases the traditional forms are earlier and sometimes more correct."

I am not, of course, judging the accuracy of this opinion, just pointing out that it coincided with Sharps's and preceded it.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 05:36 AM

"I think what Harker might be trying to chip away at here is that thread of folkloric thinking that sees 'folk' as being outside or untouched by the world of trade, professionalism, commerce etc? " (Pseudonymous, my emphasis)

Sorry to keep harping back to the first page of "Some Conclusions". In the second paragraph of the book Sharp says "we must look to the musical utterances of those who were least affected by extraneous educational influences" (my emphasis).

I accept that "untouched by" and "least affected by" apply to different things in these quotes but the former is typical of how Sharp's views have been described and the latter typical of how careful he was in his use of words. He was trying to be ‘scientific’ (as he put it) and we may think he was wrong about some things, but I don’t see a need for “setting up of straw men” in order to criticise him. I think Brian Peter's recent posts also show that Harker was indeed setting up a straw man in the way his mis-represents Sharp's account.


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

Last post was me


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 05:59 AM

Hello Brian

I read your post with some interest.

What Harker said was that Sharp did not consider the idea that broadsides and mummers were 'essential'. This is the key word. And at no point does Sharp consider this idea. He does discuss broadsides but this particular idea is not one that he discusses.

The Kidson-Sharp thing is interesting. Sharp had various difference of approach/opinion with Kidson, it appears. But on the point at issue, once again, I feel that quotations may have been taken out of context.

If a reader of Harker came to the conclusion that Harker claimed that Sharp did not know anything about broadsides or had not seen one, then we have to conclude that they had not read Harker carefully enough.

The point Harker is making is not that Sharp did not know anything about broadsides. It is not true to say that you could read Harker and come away with the idea that Sharp knew nothing about broadsides. See for example p193! Harker is making a point about broadside production in Somerset at a particular point in time, and stating that Sharp does not appear to have known about that because he does not use this information in his account of the possible provenance of songs he collected. Harker provides a list of broadside publishers active at the time in question.

Harker makes this point: 'It seems never to have occurred to Sharp that to ask for old songs from old people in the early 1900s would inevitably result in the collection of items widely popular in a commercial context before 1850.' Harker cannot understand why Sharp persists in viewing people who knew songs about the Napoleonic wars as 'peasants' cut off from outside influences etc etc.

Before I end, some people have indicated a belief that Bearman finished off Harker once and for all. Of course, while doing this, Bearman also finishes off many of the beliefs of Sharp and of revival singers, including the idea that 'folk song' relates to ag lab lower class types. Bearman does not like folk song, he likes Vaughan Williams etc.

Bearman disputes with Harker over definitions of 'peasant' relying on what was in effect the first ever multi-volume OED which came out during Sharp's time. Its definition of peasant has two parts. Bearman uses the 2nd part which he sees as relating broadly to a 'countryman' or 'rustic'. Had he looked at the examples of 'usage' (and the present OED has more or less identical definition and usage examples) he would have seen that the sense he chose to go with was more like an insult than the pre-Raphaelite medievalist nationalistic sentimentalism intended by Sharp.

I am sorry but Sharp's complaints that English culture is too 'cosmopolitan' and that we need something more purely national do have a ring of the hard right, and for me they should not be skimmed over but acknowledged as part of our national heritage, and not a part we should be proud of, in my opinion.

I did not set out to defend Harker but to describe this scholarly book as 'intellectual rubble' seems 'begrudgery'!

Thank you. I leave you to have any last words.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 07:44 AM

"Sharp's complaints that English culture is too 'cosmopolitan' and that we need something more purely national do have a ring of the hard right"(Pseudonymous)

That's what I asked about a couple of days ago. I am still not convinced that it's not just a case of appreciating what is on your doorstep and promoting it as an alternative to other things that were fashionable in middle-class art music circles of the time. Proselytizing maybe, but being jingoistic?

Not much different, say, than a bunch of musicians in the 1970's revitalising English traditional dance music at a time when Irish and Amercan forms made up most of what we were hearing in the revival.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 07:49 AM

I've no intention of getting into a semantic argument. I've laid out my thoughts regarding some of the misrepresentations in 'Fakesong', but if others choose to defend it to the last ditch, that's their business - readers can make their own minds up. It would have been useful to have seen a little more critical analysis of 'Fakesong' in this thread, rather than reiterations of its content, but I've tried to do my bit.

The 'peasant' controversy has been pretty much put to bed by Gammon and Knevett (FMJ, 2016), in an article that's worth reading.

'Intellectual rubble' is, of course, how Harker described the concepts 'folk song' and 'ballad'.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 07:52 AM

Agree with you there, jag.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 08:00 AM

Fakesong:
"Sharp's star singer, Henry Larcombe, felt that a broadside text was good enough for him - his version of Lord Bateman is almost identical with one printed by Keys of Devonport- but such matters were passed over by Sharp in silence, or written off in a sour aside on the many 'imperfectly remembered broadside versions' he claimed to have recognized."

Some Conclusions
"...a blind man, one Mr. Henry Larcombe, also from Haselbury-Plucknett, sang me a Robin Hood Ballad (F.S.F.S., No. 43). The words consisted of eleven verses. These proved to be almost word for word the same as the corresponding stanzas of a much longer black-letter broadside, preserved in the Bodleian Library."


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 09:57 AM

In response to my questions 06 Feb 20 - 05:57 PM, Steve said "I've more or less said the same as this further up the thread."

Indeed. I was trying to find out whether any of the contributors to this thread disagree about the extent of fakery of songs, because it's sometimes unclear to me what is being argued. (Jim is one whose points aren't always clear to me, but he's not the only one.)

And I acknowledge that Harker was not claiming wholesale fakery of songs but rather fakery of the whole edifice.

On a point somewhat peripheral to this thread, but much discussed elsewhere, I understand one of Jim's arguments to be that, because the broadsides are mostly a dunghill, therefore the excellent songs that were collected can't have started life there but must have been made by "the folk". If that is the argument, then it neglects two points: a) that there were other possible commercial origins besides the broadside press, notably the stage and the pleasure gardens, and b) that the songs that were collected were ones that at least one generation of singers, if not more, had considered worth learning and singing. That was Sharp's "selection" in operation (and it can be seen still in operation right up to the present).


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

Hello again:

I said I would leave the last word to Brian and that is what I shall do.

Thanks for an interesting discussion.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Iains
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 10:08 AM

A peripheral thread from 2009 has a discussion of broadsides



Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
(I do not know how to link to previous threads)


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 10:15 AM

@ Jag

The thought I had about Sharp took me back to the recent Scottish Independence debate. The question was raised earlier about Sharp's intentions re England and the other parts of the UK. He seems to me to be an example of an English person who regards his 'nation' as English rather than British. This happens. And the English aren't the only ones: I knew a foreign language student who wrote a thesis including examples of the French press calling Gordon Brown the 'English Prime Minister'.

Apparently Sharp upset some people by being Pro-war, so not as 'jingoistic' as all that. At the end of the day you can only read 'Some Thoughts' and make your own mind up.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 10:19 AM

Pro Boer I should have put sorry.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 10:22 AM

@ Brian: I have downloaded the Gammon and Knevett piece. Thanks for the reference. NB I had seen the Gammon 'One for the Money' piece, which is interesting, mentioned earlier in the thread.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 10:34 AM

Gammon and Knevett seem at one point to be making the same point about Bearman that I did, but in more detail.

I note the idea that Sharp was part of a widespread 'romantic' view of the peasantry. My view again! And they then go on to discuss this in more detail later in the piece.

G and K acknowledge Harker as the pioneer of the idea of mediation. A balanced and interesting discussion, which is just what you would expect from Vic Gammon, whose work I admire.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 10:51 AM

@ Jag: Sorry to keep harping back to the first page of "Some Conclusions". In the second paragraph of the book Sharp says "we must look to the musical utterances of those who were least affected by extraneous educational influences" (my emphasis).

I cannot see why you are apologising. I cannot speak for everybody but I can say that I have enjoyed your contributions to the discussion.

My contribution here might be that Sharp is hoping to get the remains of his romantically viewed 'pure' peasantry who would have been wholly untouched: I think discussions of the usage of the term peasant (while valid and in the case of Gammon and Knevett if not that of Bearman relatively convincing) turns us away from Sharp's (romantic) belief in this racial/national illiterate, untrained person whose intellect is formed solely by the ups and downs of life and who he imagines in what seems to me to be a romantic evidence-free way influenced by Child and Gummere to have originated the songs he was collecting, or the ones he chose not to reject for his own reasons. For plainly, whatever his motives, and, even if we reject Harkers' class-based analysis of why he did this, Child was, in my view 'mediating'.

Please don't be apologising


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 10:55 AM

@ Jag, I left out quotation marks, sorry.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 11:03 AM

@Pseudonymous.

I don't know enough about Sharp but regarding one's nation as 'English', and not seeking to find a 'British' national music, could be regarded as being respectful of the Welsh, the Scottish and the Irish. And not at all inconsistant with understanding the Boers' perspective on things.

It's not clear from your post what approach to nationality you would view with merit.

I once had to explain to some Argentinians that Edward Heath was not the Prime Minister of England. Confidence in my answer was undermined by me then being unable to explain why the the countries of the UK have their own international football teams.

For purpose of disclosure I am northern English and resent The Scouring of the North by those who became our fuedal overlords.

Shouldn't you get back on topic?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 11:15 AM

"... view as having merit ..."


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 11:22 AM

" I understand one of Jim's arguments to be that, because the broadsides are mostly a dunghill, therefore the excellent songs that were collected can't have started life there "
Much more complicated than that Richard
I've been labouring over an article for nearly a year now, which I have yet to get properly started
We don't know who made folk songs and probably never shall, so in the end it's down to sorting our what we do know and using common sense
The Irish rural and urban working people made local songs in their many thousands, as did the Scots with their output of Bothy Songs, on the spot waulking songs, their political pieces.... and many other examples
The non-literate Travellers, both Irish and Scots, were still making songs right into the 1970s
How likely is it that the English rural working people were alone in these Islands in being almost fully reliant on hack writers for songs about every aspect of daily life - which basically what our folk repertoire is
When I challenged Steve Gardham with this his reply was that the English agricultural workers were 'far to busy earning a living to make songs'
The greatest output of songs in Ireland came from hardship such as forced emigration, mass evictions, land wars,, wars of national independence -
Hardship inspired songwriting, not discouraged it
Our songs are based on working people's vernacular, they contain insider knowledge on work practices and leisure activities, the sympathies of the songs lie invariably with the persecuted and the poor....
A desk-bound hack would have to have possessed the skills and the politico-social leanings of a Steinbeck or a Robert Tressell to have made such socially volatile stuff
Hacks were human conveyor belts churning out their doggerel to stay alive and their largely shoddy compositions show exactly that

And that's just the start
You have the problems of poor and non-existent literacy as a disincentive to learn songs from print, the tendency to treat printed texts as sacrosanct (a regular comment from our singers), which acts against such songs passing into versions.....
Non literate Travellers have been the main carriers of our songs in Ireland and Scotland
There is much, much more on this question that remains unresolved and unanswered

Up to the last decade, Maccoll's statement at the end of the Song Carriers summarised the belief of most folk enthusiasts, from researcher in folk song to broadside experts like Bob Thomson and Leslie Shepherd

"Well, there they are, the songs of our people. Some of them have been centuries in the making, some of them undoubtedly were born on the broadside presses. Some have the marvellous perfection of stones shaped by the sea's movement. Others are as brash as a cup-final crowd. They were made by professional bards and by unknown poets at the plough-stilts and the handloom. They are tender, harsh,, passionate, ironical, simple, profound.... as varied, indeed, as the landscape of this island."

What has changed to make that statement no longer valid ? - nothing, as far as I can see
Jim


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 02:11 PM

All answered numerous times on numerous threads.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 02:25 PM

Sharp's complaints that English culture is too 'cosmopolitan' and that we need something more purely national do have a ring of the hard right"

In Sharp's time the word "cosmopolitan" wasn't code for "International Jewish Conspiracy" as it is now. Look at composition and didactic works about art music back then, and Britain was a German colony - Elgar was a German composer who happened to come from Somerset. Debussy had a very similar reaction to German cultural dominance, except he was much more unpleasant about it.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 02:35 PM

"All answered numerous times on numerous threads."
Not one has Steve
You offered a number aof feeble on-the-spot excuses like hacks who migt have worked at sea or lived on the land
You even claimed that the hacks were noted revolutionaries
You left the impression that your researches had gone no further than paper-chasing fisrt appearances on broadsides and were finally forced to admit that you could not guarantee a single song had originated on broadsides, for all your "starry-eyed" dismissal
You don't know - I don't know - as Stephen Fry is fond of saying, "nobody knows"
You accused me of having a "political agenda" for suggesting that rural workers made their own folk songs - I can think of no greater political agenda than insisting they didn't
Until you come up with something more solid and believable you really need to stop doing this
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 02:46 PM

Thumbs up to Jack Campin's post. I was just reading some of Sharp's lecture notes that dealt with German musical hegemony.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 03:18 PM

The Irish rural and urban working people made local songs in their many thousands.
And stil do to some extent


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 03:49 PM

I had no idea that cosmopolitan had that meaning at any time to be honest. Just trying to take it in. I took it to mean 'including people' from many countries. Do I misremember or is it right to say that Sharp felt Italian music also had been heard a lot in England as well as German? Checked, and he mentions French as well, saying since Purcell we had produced nothing of note though, he claims once we were known for music (He cites a comment by Erasmus,p128)

My nationality, I try always to say British, not least, ironically, out of respect for the others, being English myself. Used to be a European. Miss that a bit to be honest. Harker of course wants socialists to be internationalists, a point made by somebody else on this thread. Think globally act locally an environmentalist once said to me.

I read somewhere that Harker does not consider himself a 'Trotskyist' so I have to take back stuff based on his SWP membership if that is correct.

Still wishing I could read Harker's later paper responding to critics but not able to access it. Just to sort of round off this rather hectic trip through a lot of literature. My paper copy of Harker is now back with the library, who'll be sending it to wherever they borrowed it from. I've sent for Georgina Boyes' work, but as I said before, I don't think Mudcat may necessarily be the best place to discuss it. But it gets mentioned in such terms that I am intrigued to read it for myself and see what I think.

I've ordered a book on ABE, not the Wilgus in the end, but the Fowler one. It starts with the evolution of balladry: wondering if I am going to find that all a bit jackanory, but we'll see. It was at least cheap so if a mistake not an expensive one.

People posting on this thread have taught me a lot and I am grateful to everybody for an interesting discussion.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 05:00 PM

I don't think Grainger ever used the word "cosmopolitan" but his pet hate was Italian influences in music. Germans were sort of okay in his book but the Norfic cultures were the foreign influence he most welcomed.

Anybody in the 1900s British folk scene have it in for the Spanish or the Russians?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 05:07 PM

Sorry if you've left the room Pseudonymous, but I'm back and still on Sharp.

Minor point about the broadsheets. Sharp says "singers will sometimes learn new sets of words from a ballad-sheet" in a matter-of-fact way when discussing variation of tunes. No fuss. It reads as if it's just something he knew they did. Is there much 'theorising' to do about it? It's one of the easy bits.

Harker tends to quote from the concluding sentences of Sharp's arguments. I think Sharp is pretty good with the 'compare and contrast' on other people's ideas and whilst some of his conclusions may not be right he is very clear about how he gets to them.

What strikes me about Sharp is that he doesn't seem to consider 'culture'. In his discussion of the supposed Celts and Anglo-Saxons in Somerset, and a similar comparison of the French and English, he seems to stick to his view that the 'national' characteristics of the common folk are inherent or 'racial' (we would say 'in the genes'). He doesn't seem to consider the possibility that cultural differences could exist amongst the people uninfluenced by education etc.

I think that is a flaw in his argument in relation to folk music. It may also, technically, make him a racist but I dont think that in itself affects that value of his discussion or cast doubt on his work. He doesn't come over as a xenophobe which I think would casts doubt on his work.

(the part where he discusses the music of a black Australian boy is more telling of his view of the evolutionary relationship between races than the quote used by Harker about the negroes. But, as has been said, of its time)


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 05:39 PM

Not necessarily left, just sort of on the porch a bit.

Jag's interesting post tempted me back in for a moment. Culture, of course! I was looking at an oldish academic book on 'popular music' I'm pretty sure you would all hate by Richard Middleton, and it made the point that even when we were evolving into homo sapiens culture was *part of the process*. We did not evolve first and get culture afterwards. Perhaps those creatures who came before may have had music? They seem to have had 'art' of some sort and language of some sort (?) so music seems a pretty safe bet. Drifting again, I know.

I hope I didn't give the impression I wanted to throw everything Sharp did away on the basis of his 'racism'. I did feel it was worth flagging up where I thought his views were suspect.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 07 Feb 20 - 05:58 PM

One point if we are sticking to Sharp is that his piece is mainly a piece about music: it has been said before, and the piece makes it clear, he is discussing music, and, since the 'peasants' he listened to sang unaccompanied, we are talking about melody, and in some parts, metre, and in some places how the words and the melody fit together when his informants sing songs (which I remember having to do exercises in at a relatively low level of music theory, so I have some idea about how Sharp would have viewed this).

A few half hours with Middleton has problematized my simplistic 'complaints' that people ignore or don't talk about the music of 'folk' but since it is Sharp's main focus, it would be good to try to address what he says. Some of it is I think accessible and would be to people here who sing (please excuse me not naming names, too many to mention) and who state themselves to be at sea if it gets technical musically.

I know this is something Harker doesn't really address (except to be suspicious of Sharp's belief that folk music was 'modal').

Does anybody know whether Sharp found much in the major scale/ionian mode by the way?

There is something niggling away at me Sharp and it is this, I think: how does he account for the dissemination of 'folk songs' across the country? Is this a problem for his view of the non-educated folk with no intellectual learning except for life's ups and downs? How did farming ever spread from wherever it arose if that is the only way people learned?


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