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Dave Harker, Fakesong

GUEST,jag 13 Feb 20 - 08:28 AM
GUEST,jag 13 Feb 20 - 08:29 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 13 Feb 20 - 08:33 AM
Brian Peters 13 Feb 20 - 08:54 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 13 Feb 20 - 09:56 AM
Brian Peters 13 Feb 20 - 10:01 AM
Brian Peters 13 Feb 20 - 10:05 AM
Jack Campin 13 Feb 20 - 10:12 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 13 Feb 20 - 11:46 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 13 Feb 20 - 12:00 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Feb 20 - 12:34 PM
GUEST,jag 13 Feb 20 - 01:09 PM
GUEST,jag 13 Feb 20 - 01:12 PM
Brian Peters 13 Feb 20 - 01:15 PM
GUEST,jag 13 Feb 20 - 01:28 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Feb 20 - 01:34 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Feb 20 - 01:37 PM
Steve Gardham 13 Feb 20 - 02:10 PM
Steve Gardham 13 Feb 20 - 02:19 PM
Brian Peters 13 Feb 20 - 02:39 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Feb 20 - 02:58 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 13 Feb 20 - 03:14 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 13 Feb 20 - 03:41 PM
GUEST,jag 13 Feb 20 - 04:13 PM
Jack Campin 13 Feb 20 - 05:19 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Feb 20 - 03:01 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Feb 20 - 03:08 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Feb 20 - 03:17 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Feb 20 - 03:40 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Feb 20 - 04:15 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Feb 20 - 04:17 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Feb 20 - 04:49 AM
GUEST,jag 14 Feb 20 - 04:58 AM
GUEST,jag 14 Feb 20 - 05:13 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Feb 20 - 05:13 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Feb 20 - 05:33 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Feb 20 - 06:00 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Feb 20 - 07:26 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Feb 20 - 07:28 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Feb 20 - 07:30 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Feb 20 - 08:31 AM
Brian Peters 14 Feb 20 - 08:46 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Feb 20 - 08:49 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Feb 20 - 08:56 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Feb 20 - 09:32 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Feb 20 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Feb 20 - 11:49 AM
Jack Campin 14 Feb 20 - 11:51 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 14 Feb 20 - 11:59 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Feb 20 - 12:21 PM
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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 08:28 AM

I read the "surreptitiously recorded" as snide. I guess that's because Jim has mentioned the recordings here many times in a way that makes clear there was surreptitiously about them. Harker seems to be an able researcher - if he knew enough about the group to comment on it at all he should have known that.

(I do have something constructinve to say about the book, but I am waiting for the discussion to go into a more constructive phase)


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 08:29 AM

should be "... was nothing surreptitious about them ..." (on phone)


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 08:33 AM

Jim introduced the specific topic of 'labouring people' being 'poetically inclined' and I followed this up. He then says that the question about whether 'ordinary people' had poetic ability has nothing to do with this discussion. This seems to me to be an example of what Jim calls 'ducking and diving'.

Further, when I asked what had annoyed Jim about what Harker said in his book, the answer I got made no mention at all of disagreements about whether surreptitious recordings had been made. It gave an account of what Harker's book that misrepresents what it turns out to have said.

If they were surreptitious, then how would anybody know about them?

This is my last off-topic post. We did not get around to discussing Harker on Lloyd, so if anybody who has read Harker recently enough to comment on this section, I would be interested to hear what different views there are on it, but I predict that the discussion may turn fiery as I have read a biography of Lloyd which refers to previous Mudcat discussions on that topic.

"We are talking about the existence of a specific form of song which represented a specific section of society." At what point in history did this belief emerge, and which sections of society are the songs supposed to 'represent' at which points in time? These are the questions that Harker addresses.

I think Harker and Bearman are right to state that the view that these old songs in some sense 'represented' 'the labouring classes' emerged most significantly with Lloyd: they are certainly not in Child or in Sharp.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 08:54 AM

To remove any possible doubt, my quoted example of snidery was from Fakesong, and a response to Jack's question: "Is there anybody Harker shows actual dislike or disrespect for, rather than saying they had limitations that need to be recognized?" My own view is that the comments about Baring-Gould and Sharp went way beyond describing limitations, and into disparagement of them personally.

I don't have 'One For the Money' and Jack has already pasted what it has to say about the Critics Group. However, Vic Gammon's review (discussed further up the thread) has this to say about the treatment of MacColl (who I believe like Lloyd was CPGB and therefore a sectarian enemy for a start):

"But this is not criticism, it is character assassination masquerading as criticism; and for all its socialist rhetoric what criticism there is is of a very old fashioned and discredited type."

He supported this by quoting passages such as:

"The radio ballads, according to Harker, were 'a series of programmes celebrating the "worker as hero" in which they [MacColl and the producer Charles Parker] romanticised, over-elaborated, indulged stylistic whims, and generally intellectualised and mediated the taped material given to them by workers'"

"Parker and MacColl are said to have 'foisted their version of the Big Hewer myth on working miners as a whole' and never to have thought that 'the mythical figure might have been a deliberate and grotesque caricature of the self-exploitative worker'." [my italics]


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 09:56 AM

Interesting post, Brian.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 10:01 AM

17 years ago, Mark Wilson, a highly-respected North American field collector and anthologist, who recorded legendary musicians like J. P. Fraley, Buddy Thomas, Asa Martin and Buddy McMaster, supervised Rounder Records' 'North American Traditions' series, a somehow found the time to be a professor of Philosophy at Pittsburgh, had this to say about Dave Harker and his ilk:.

"No doubt all of these authors trust that they are striking some significant blow against societal oppression by diagnosing the upper-class foibles of folks like Sharp. I believe the hard facts are quite otherwise. As Mike [Yates] notes, 'Sharp was lax in asking singers where they learnt their songs.' This was generally true of the collectors of that era, for reasons that are perfectly understandable in the context of the time, but wants remedy insofar as it is still possible (this is particularly true of the instrumental music in which I largely deal). But, insofar as I can see, direct folk music scholarship of the sort required has fallen to negligible levels here, at the same time as the literature of righteous critique has abundantly flourished. Plainly, the latter exerts a profoundly chilling effect upon the former. In future years, when interested parties look back on our era, they will no doubt ask, "How is it, at a time when important tradition bearers were still active, that academic folklorists wasted their time in such relatively insignificant veins of criticism?"

Harker and crew plainly intend to complain of this class-based detachment, but their own efforts, it seems to me, have unwittingly contributed to an oppressive present day climate likewise disgraced by non-engagement with the very people to whom we should be paying the most attention... The lack of basic human sympathy and understanding is quite palpable throughout this moralizing literature."

Still apposite, perhaps? Wilson's letter appeared in correspondence on the Musical Traditions site, in response to Mike Yates' reappraisal of 'Fakesong' in the light of Bearman's research. Worh a look if you aren't familiar with it already.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 10:05 AM

Just to clarify, the para beginning 'Harker and crew...' is Mark Wilson, and 'Still apposite...' is me.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 10:12 AM

Brian's description of Harker's take on the Radio Ballads is accurate - except that Harker clearly DOES think they were great regardless - not as big a step forward as we might have liked, but a big step considering the historical circumstances.

However, his treatment of Parker really is inadequate. You get practically no biographical detail, and the way he got dumped by the Beeb for standing by his principles should have been described - it was surely relevant to the story Harker was telling.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 11:46 AM

I did look at Mike Yates' piece. I had read this before I even looked at Harker. It might be this piece that piqued my interest in the first place. What, for me Yates perhaps lacks is a sense of how much Bearman mounts an attack on second-wave folklore as well as on Harker? It seems possible to me that people who disliked Harker may have latched on to the fact that Bearman disliked Harker without realising how convervative Bearman was? This is just a thought, put out for discussion.

This lack of concern for the voices of singers is precisely one of the complaints made by Harker.

As I understand it, Sharp did ask some of his informants where they had learned their songs.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 12:00 PM

The other thing is that Bearman is focussed on the word 'peasant' as used in Victorian times. I have already mentioned what I think is a much better discussion of this by Vic Gammon. Better perhaps than both that of Harker and that of Bearman.

But the key think about Sharp's conception is the idea about non-literate, untrained people, whose knowledge is limited to that gained from the ups and downs of life, and who had not been close enough to educated people to be influenced by them. Sharp regarded his informants as 'remnants' of this peasantry. On both Bearman's and Harker's account, this idea is brought into question, even were it clear what Sharp meant by 'remnants'.

Moreover, if Sharp wants to argue that these villages were somehow cut off from outside influences, then for me they are left with the problem of how to explain how come they were singing much the same songs as people all over the country?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 12:34 PM

"He then says that the question about whether 'ordinary people' had poetic ability has nothing to do with this discussion."
No I did not - it has everything to do with argument - where the hell do you get this stuff ?
It has been my point from the beginning that Working People have always made songs to express their feelings
I spent six months in Manchester Central Library once wading my way though the song columns that regularly featured in the old Chartist and other campaigning newspapers - many of them made by textile workers
I mentioned the paper on workwer poets because it reinforces my point

My argument regarding who mde our folk songs has always been that once you accept that workers were capable of making songs, you have to accept that they almost certainly made our folk songs - why should they pay anybody to express their feelings ?

'Peasant', as technically innacurate as it was, was a fairly common way of describing rural working people - certainly not exclusive to Sharp
The fact that Harker took these people out of context as often as he did is what makes Harker's book wildly unreliable - it lays all the sins of post Victorian at the door of a group of people who respected 'the lower classes' enough to roll up their sleeves and labouriously collect examples of their culture, sometimes in extremely difficult circumstances
They deserve mor than snideswipes and accusations of 'fakery' for having done that
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 01:09 PM

Did Sharp change his collecting practices - ask more of his singers where they learned their songs or about their own backgrounds for example - as his theories developed?

Harker points out that Sharp collected from a wider 'target population' than the illiterate peasants (his usage) that his "Some Conclusions" identified as ideal. However, a lot of the collecting was done to get the 'data' that he used to reach his conclusions.

The idea of a "community uninfluenced by popular and art music" (in the 1954 defintion) is one of the main targets of Harker's criticism. He asks "How can any community remain uninfluenced by 'art' or 'popular' music, and what are they anyway?" Sharp having to reject songs and give examples of what he was after clearly shows some or all of his singers had other influences.

If Harker is arguing that the 'folk' as theoretical constructs were flawed ("fake") then I think he has some fair points.

Getting back to the opening question above - if not why not?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 01:12 PM

(I crossed with Pseudonymous' last two posts - mine would have been better put if it had followed on!)


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 01:15 PM

"What, for me Yates perhaps lacks is a sense of how much Bearman mounts an attack on second-wave folklore as well as on Harker? It seems possible to me that people who disliked Harker may have latched on to the fact that Bearman disliked Harker without realising how convervative Bearman was?"

I can't speak for Mike Yates, but people who enjoy the performance style of singers like, say, Walter Pardon are no necessarily interested in, or delighted by, the second revival and its own performance conventions. All of us who are interested in the sort of discussion we're having here were well aware of Bearman's conservatism and vituperative outbursts (though personally I never met him) and his remarks about Lloyd's politics, though much kinder than those directed at Harker, are not surprising. All who have looked into his scholarship, however, have been impressed.

"As I understand it, Sharp did ask some of his informants where they had learned their songs."

He certainly did in Appalachia (although not in every case), usually getting the answer 'from my mother / grand mother', but occasionally 'from a negro', etc. He also recorded some of the singers' feelings about the songs, such as the famous, 'If only I were driving the cows home I could sing it at once' or, 'It must be true because it is so beautiful'.

"This lack of concern for the voices of singers is precisely one of the complaints made by Harker."

But he ignored instances in which he singers' voices were available for inspection, made no comment on changes in collecting practice post-Sharp which made a point of recording singers' opinions, and had apparently never met a traditional singer himself.

"if Sharp wants to argue that these villages were somehow cut off from outside influences...how to explain how come they were singing much the same songs as people all over the country?"

Sharp didn't argue this. 'Remote' is not the same as 'cut off', and I've already quoted the passage from his Conclusions about he role of ballad hawkers in disseminating the songs 'all over the land'.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 01:28 PM

Do people agree that there existed in part of the population a body of material and performance practice that another part of the population didn't know about?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 01:34 PM

The Collectors went out to head-hunt songs in the belief that the tradition was dying (which it was)
I've always understood that Sharp was at first looking for tunes to assist creating an 'English' classical music, but began to realise that they had an intrinsic value in their own right
I also thought that of all the collectors, Grainger was the one who did his best to bolster this, particularly by using recording equipment
I have to admit that these are gathered impressions rather than having been researched
I would help if Sharp's diaries were available on line in a reader-friendly form
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 01:37 PM

Can I just add that it is not so much the points Harker made, some of which are valid, but the heavy handed and over-stated way in which they were delivered which made the book an exercise in the negative
Sharp's work has always needed critical examination but not in this butchering manner
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 02:10 PM

I much prefer this Jim Carroll of the last 2 posts, but heartily wish we could delete the alter ego. I don't think anyone here would or even could argue with what you are saying here (or the way you are saying it!)


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 02:19 PM

>>Do people agree that there existed in part of the population a body of material and performance practice that another part of the population didn't know about?<<

Absolutely. The vast majority of the middle class had no notion of what the 'peasants' were singing at that time. Sharp's reaction to hearing John England sing is a prime example.

Baring Gould was an exception. He was priest in a small parish in Yorkshire in the 1860s and he married a mill girl if I remember aright, and he certainly heard traditional singing there, before he even became interested in collecting in Devon much later on (20 years later).


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 02:39 PM

"Did Sharp change his collecting practices - ask more of his singers where they learned their songs or about their own backgrounds for example - as his theories developed?"

I argued exactly this about the Appalachian collection (the last serious song collecting he did) in my article in FMJ 2018. With each successive visit he noted down more 'non folk' material - i.e. recently composed songs etc - and more detailed pen-pictures of at least some of the singers. Whether this had anything to do with his modifying his theories I don't know, since he didn't write about it at the time, though I haven't checked the post-Appalachia correspondence so can't be sure. He did write in 1918, "I would that I had visited America twenty years ago before my character and habits had been so fixed," but it's difficult to know exactly what he meant.

Revisiting my research on Sharp in Appalachia has reminded me of a quote that might interest those critical of Sharp's allegedly conservative politics, regarding a miners' strike in Wales in 1920:
"I feel that the organization of industry... has to be radically changed. Men won't any longer work like slaves with he fear of unemployment constantly before their eyes... the economic principle on which he world is run at the moment is fundamentally unsound."


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 02:58 PM

"I much prefer this Jim Carroll of the last 2 posts, "
I'm sure you do Steve, no difficult questions to duck
"but heartily wish we could delete the alter ego"
No alter ego - it's all part of what I have always argued
If you see any contradictions - feel free to point them out
I've always said that Harker never wrote anything else has - I don't believe originality was his strong point
My point is that his 'wrecking ball' delivery negates anything he might haves said of interest

"I don't think anyone here would or even could argue with what you are saying here (or the way you are saying it!)"
Do you prefer discussions where we all agree with each other (whether we really do or not)
Sorry - not why I signed up for this man's army
What's the point of us all gathering here if all we need to be is a bunch of nodding dogs
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 03:14 PM

@ Brian, interesting points, and apologies if I/we have made you repeat stuff you said before. However, this idea about ballad hawkers would seem to me to be at odds with the idea of some purely oral tradition of song transmission, which is what Sharp himself seems to have been arguing for in his definition of the 'common people'. Am I not making sense? Sorry if not. And of course people are free to disagree with me.

@ Jag: again interesting points; I had not picked up on Harker's dissatisfaction with the '54 defn, though I was aware from his overall arguments that he would think this way, especially about more modern contexts. So I think you have made a good point, but, alas, discussions of definitions as we all know, tend to lead to fallings-out.

@ Steve. "The vast majority of the middle class had no notion of what the 'peasants' were singing at that time." I cannot agree, but depending upon how you define 'middle class' maybe some did?

Sharp collected from 311 singers. Bearman provides a study, giving various amounts of information for up to 278, including occupations for 238. So there were 5 women of 'independent means' which of course might include servants given a pension by former employers etc. One woman is listed as 'daughter of vicar'. Bearman argues (using a dictionary definition of 'working class' that it is not possible to decide whether some respondents were 'working class' as they might have been 'self-employed'. Conversely some blacksmiths might have been employed (as a blacksmith ancestor of mine was at one point).

I'll quote Bearman. Please don't assume this means I agree with him:

"A substantial minority of the singers were not by any definition 'working class', and this group included some of Sharp's best sources, such as William Spearing … At the highest level this group shaded into the local elite... Templeman had a mixed farm of 630 acres and employed 14 people."

This is from Bearman's article "Who Were the Folk..." which I got from JSTOR.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 03:41 PM

@ Steve. *Grey cells/fingertips malfunction alert*. Of course I should have typed "I cannot disagree" as I think you are right that most of the middle class in Sharp's day would have had not notion of what the 'peasants' were singing. I apologise profusely for this mistake. Typo.

Also: I did indeed get some Harker titles muddled up earlier on.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 04:13 PM

I asked about Sharp's collecting practice because I was thinking about his theorising as to why "we must look to the musical utterances of those of the community who are least affected by extraneous educational influences".

That the material he was after was best found amongst the peasants could simply be an emperical observation made during his early years of seeking out what he was enthusiastic about - just as a butterfly collector may learn from experience the best hunting grounds for interesting specimens. The collector of butterflies or songs who has an inquiring mind, or wishes to commune with scholars, will start to theorise. The theories may advise - or interfere with - later collecting.

The theories may be superceded. The century-old habitat observations (songs or bugs) may now be more important. Little point in wasting time over defunct theories. So from what we know (or theorise) now why were the songs so often collected from people down at the bottom of the social scale, often very old ones?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 13 Feb 20 - 05:19 PM

Kodaly, working at about the same time as Sharp, had a phrase "the hundred steps". People who wrote about Hungarian music before his time did it from the comfort of a castle or country house, getting their information from visiting professional musicians (who, unlike in the British Isles, would often have been Gypsies). Whereas the farmworkers on their estates had exactly the sort of vital and autonomous musical culture any collector would want - but it was outside the courtyard. All the would-be collector needed to do was take 100 steps out through the gate and listen - but just about nobody did.

This is not to say that the situation Sharp worked in was really very comparable to that, but he bet a tremendous amount of labour on the guess that it was.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 03:01 AM

@ Jag

You asked why songs were so often collected from people down at the bottom of the social scale. This is an interesting question.

I think one of Harker's point is that often we simply do not know about the people who provided the songs. We know that Rankin provided a lot of songs, but he was treated as a 'source' so where he got them isn't clear.

It is also interesting to ask where you draw the line that puts people at the 'bottom' of the scale. Do we put skilled artisans there? Do we put smallholders there? Does a 'peasant' have to be landless to be there? Would somebody who had served an apprenticeship be there? Would the many self-employed workers there? Do we include only the strictly non-literate?

Bearman raises the question of social mobility within Sharp's groups of respondents. He does this because he wants to demolish a 'class' analysis. But it might apply to this question. This has happened to some extent throughout the centuries. This complicates attempts to say which social stratum people came from.

It may be that people from differing social groups provided different sorts of songs?

One thought I had here was that the make up of society has changed over the years. Once English society had a far smaller 'middle class',
Then it got more onion shaped, as the economy changed and more educated and skilled people were required. So once there were more people 'at the bottom' in terms of stratification?

We also could consider questions of gender and race, two socially important factors in society but not ones that appear to have exercised the minds of early collectors.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 03:08 AM

Had Harker done nothing original he would not have got his doctorate. You have to be able to argue that you have made a substantial contribution to knowledge. His analysis was a new way of approaching the textual material about the collectors. I don't think it is right to say that he didn't say anything new. You have to do something new, even if it is a new synthesis. And it has to be in some sense original; mere plagiarism is not allowed!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 03:17 AM

Royal families and the nobility were in the past much more of an international clique than national leaders are today? So the Kings of England after 1066 did not even speak English as a first language for a few generations. Going back further, some of them will have spoken a version of Danish.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 03:40 AM

"Had Harker done nothing original he would not have got his doctorate."
Originality has nothing to do with accuracy and are invariably awarded by people who have no knowledge of the subjects they are marking
That it not unlike the argument put to us by a paper-pushing academic who told us during a debate over Traveller's songs that she knew more on the subject because "I studied it in university" (even though she had never met or spoken to a Traveller)

Harker took a well-known problems concerning Sharp's generation of collectors - basically, their class background, and their total unfamiliarity with the task they took on - and exaggerated them to distortion in order to say something 'new' rather than accurate - that is what distinguishes Harker's work
His work was so imbalanced that, not only did it queer the pitch for future work on this important aspect but it placed a huge question over the validity of the idea 'a people's creative culture'
He attempted to undermine over a century's understanding of 'The Voice of the People' (song is only a part of this voice, of course)
He never discussed the songs, of course, nor did he discuss the par they played in lives of the people who sang them
Instead, he targeted those who did the work, rather like a seedy lawyer would set out to destroy the reputation of a victim in court

In some ways, Bearman overstated his case in the opposite direction, but he appears to have both accuracy and history on his side
Harker flew in the face of over a century's study of the folk arts and tried to prove that the folk world was flat after all
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 04:15 AM

Originality has nothing to do with accuracy and are invariably awarded by people who have no knowledge of the subjects they are marking

Thank you for this contribution to the debate.

This might explain why Bearman got a doctorate; I think read somewhere that Vic Gammon was his external examiner.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 04:17 AM

@ Jim

Perhaps you could refer us to some of your journal articles? I have asked before.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 04:49 AM

My comment on Vic Gammon was of course light-hearted. He was more than qualified to examine a thesis like Bearman's.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 04:58 AM

@Pseudonymous

In using 'social scale' I was trying to avoid terms that may have a formal meaning. If we had the occupations of all the collector's subjects we would still need a statistical breakdown of occupations in a village or small town to make much sense of them. To interpret that in terms of musical influences we would also need a description of the musical life of the communities as a whole.

Census records and parish registers (and a lot of work) should give an idea of the spread of occupations and mobility. Surely someone has done that? It may be something that is quietly being crowd sourced on the various ancestry web sites - following my own family tree (done mainly by a relative I don't know) back gives a fascinating snapshot of the movement of people from the country to industrial towns.

Has anyone tried to do a 'quantitative' study of the musical life of a village or town? Somewhere way up the thread that I can't find Jack Campin commented that on a Sunday someone in English village could have been ringing the church bells, singing in the choir and then doing something secular that I can't remember. How many people in the parish, how many bells in the church tower, how many in the choir or before that the church band, how many pubs, did the nearest market town have a band, a music hall, annual fair etc? How many in both the choir/band also ringing the bells. I'm told that the 'five minute bell' in many churches was so that some of the bellringers could scramble down the steps and put their togs on for the choir. I guess the same happened if one had to sort out his serpent or clarionet. For a lot of this stuff discussions on the web often fall back on fiction, or fictionalised accounts, from writers such as Thomas Hardy.

How many free-reed instruments were sold in England in a decade and where did they go?

Even if someone is only interested in 'folk song' how can they theorise about it without knowing what else the folk sang, played, and heard?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 05:13 AM

About the apparent predominance of old source singers. It seems that for 200 years the old songs were about to die out and only collectable from the old people. An exagerration I know, but a recurrent theme.

How about that at any one time it was nostalgic old curmudgeons who couldn't stand the modern stuff that the young people liked and prefered the songs their parents and grandparents sang. How about that the collectors were much less familiar with the popular music of the time of their subjects grandparents and so were more likely to let it slip through their filter.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 05:13 AM

"Perhaps you could refer us to some of your journal articles? "
I have written very few articles - the main ones being our Walter Pardon one and 'Mikeen McCarthy, Traveller Ballad seller', both of which have been put up on this forum and are too long to repeat
Pat and I dave documented our work in talks we have given (around 50 in all)
As we, as a duo, found it necessary to work from scripts each one was archived and will be deposited in the National Sound Archive with the rest of our collection
Every talk was illustrated with recorded examples and often photographs - they will be included in our collection
We will also put up the dozen or so radio programmes on our work
Your aggressive attitude to our work to date makes me wonder why you shoud be interested - why not sust buy a dartboard as this is how you treat everybody's opinions that don't fit your ignorant preconception

"Perhaps you could refer us to some of your journal articles? "
See what I mean - I didn't say that because academic work was automatically bad because of the way it is marked - we judge that
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 05:33 AM

Did that last in a hurry - should have read
"This might explain why Bearman got a doctorate; "
See what I mean - I didn't say that because academic work was automatically bad because of the way it is marked - we judge that
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 06:00 AM

TRY THIS
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 07:26 AM

Thank you very much for this link Jim. I have seen this and have posted the link before.

I asked about your work because on the same web site it is asserted that you and Pat have "written numerous articles on their work and interests for traditional music journals, magazines and other publications." I had been trying to find it.

On the basis of the information you have just provided I suspect that the article might be incorrect on the 'numerous articles' bit, or maybe it's just the ambiguous wording that suggested to me that you have written numerous articles for journals as well as for magazines and other publications.

The lecture in question interested me because about nine minutes in a claim is made that you have discovered an inborn ability in singers to differentiate what you would call 'traditional songs' from other songs. "We found what seemed to be an innate feeling, an understanding, about the songs which has no bearing on intellectual ability or learning."

This research finding links with the question about why isolated rural singers were sought by collectors, I suggest. For then the collectors might be more likely to find singers about whom it was possible to state that they had never learned anything. Not sure about the 'intellectual ability' point, though. Not sure how you assessed this, for a start.

Thank you very much. As it happens, I downloaded some of your Mudcat posts with the intention of adding them to a bibliography on another thread.

Your objections to 'aggressive' posts made me chuckle. I think you will see why! I try hard not to be 'aggressive', and apologise if I sometimes fail.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 07:28 AM

Also not sure about the 'innate' bit. But do we drift too far off topic here: this should be on a research methodology thread if anywhere?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 07:30 AM

Sorry not the same web site, just one with a similar photo on it.

http://www.clarelibrary.ie/eolas/coclare/songs/cmc/about_mackenzie_carroll.htm

The bit I quoted about publications is near the bottom of the page.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 08:31 AM

"I suspect that the article might be incorrect on the 'numerous articles' bit"
Why should you think that (nasty mind maybe?)
Between us we have written many dozens of reviews, record notes, small bits for local papers....

Your arronace in demanding such information is beyond belief when it comes from your own position of total anonymity and refusal to reveal anything about yourself
How long have you worked for the Stasi !
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 08:46 AM

I have to say that I'm finding the constant sniping at Jim Carroll's research credentials extremely tiresome and petty, as well as off-topic. Jim and Pat Mackenzie's collecting work - and their enthusiasm for giving singers the opportunity to speak about their lives - is highly respected by just about everyone here, including those who have crossed swords with Jim on the forum. A list of academic publications is not a requirement for posting on Mudcat, nor for collecting songs.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 08:49 AM

@ Jim

For me, your last post was disproportionate and inappropriate on several counts.

"Between us we have written many dozens of reviews, record notes, small bits for local papers."
"I have written very few articles - the main ones being our Walter Pardon one and 'Mikeen McCarthy, Traveller Ballad seller', both of which have been put up on this forum and are too long to repeat"

Thank you for clearing that up. I appreciate it.

Have a lovely day.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 08:56 AM

@ Jag

Even if someone is only interested in 'folk song' how can they theorise about it without knowing what else the folk sang, played, and heard?

I think this is interesting. I think this is one of Harker's points. He would say that leaving out everything else that 'the folk' were doing musically misrepresents the culture of 'the folk'. To give an example, I read a discussion about which songs by a singer to release commercially. It was argued that songs not judged to be folk songs should not have been issued, though the singer knew and plainly liked singing lots of them. Would Harker argue that this would misrepresent the musical culture of that singer? And leaving Harker aside, would it?

A lot of other points in your last post were interesting. To give one example of the sort of discussion you might be looking for, there is a piece Vic Gammon did on Rottingdean.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 09:32 AM

2For me, your last post was disproportionate and inappropriate on several counts."
No contradiction there
You really are a true disciple of Dave Harker in yourt attempts to take down the work of others while have=ing done none yourself
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 11:00 AM

Thank yo Brian

"It seems that for 200 years the old songs were about to die out and only collectable from the old people. An exagerration I know, but a recurrent theme."
It appeared to be pretty true in England , but not necessarily in Ireland, where an active tradition had disappeared within living memory and amon travellers, where a tradiition was still alive in the seventies, if failing
When we started with Travellers the oldest wer recorded was still in his forties
One thing we noticed with both of these was, when you went looking for singers within an area you were often told "***** knows a few songs" or "Tom Lenihan or..... is the local singer - the good singers still had a status
In England, it was the case of working with people who had never been part of a living tradition but had remembered usually what grandparents had taught them
Maccoll used the term 'song carriers' rather than traditional singers to describe those the BBC recorded, which was a good-enough carch--all phrase

Harkers poing about not including everything is crassness in the extreme - it totally ingnores the uniqueness both in form and function, of folk songs
It also arrogantly assues that because the oldder singers may have sung a wide range of songs, they couldn't tell the difference between one genre and another
I've described how bling songer, Mary Ded=elaney refused to sing her C and W songs and why - Walter was sightly embarrassed when you asked him to sing "that old rubbish"
If someone went looking for songs in say South Wales, they would quite likely have Verdi or Bizet sung at them because of the popularity of miners' operatic groups   
I would suggest that including them as 'folk songs' because 'the people' sang them would totally distort 'people's culture'
It has never been about what people sang; it's about how they regarded the songs and what they did with them
If that wasn't the case, the tradition would never have died and 'Viva Es[pania' and 'The Birdie Song' would have ben given Roud numbers (maybe they have - I'm have a little difficulty catching up with the pencil-pushers)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 11:49 AM

@ Brian. Thank you for sharing your point of view. I appreciate it. You have your point of view; I have mine. I completely agree with your last sentence.
Have a nice day.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 11:51 AM

He would say that leaving out everything else that 'the folk' were doing musically misrepresents the culture of 'the folk'. To give an example, I read a discussion about which songs by a singer to release commercially. It was argued that songs not judged to be folk songs should not have been issued, though the singer knew and plainly liked singing lots of them. Would Harker argue that this would misrepresent the musical culture of that singer? And leaving Harker aside, would it?

One of my favourite tune collections is Kerr's "Merry Melodies", a set of four volumes of fiddle tunes published in Glasgow in the 1880s (and probably never out of print since). It was intended as a practical resource for working musicians, and as such it had every damn thing they might ever be asked for: Scottish and Irish tines grouped as usable dance sets, operatic hits, tunes from the minstrel shows, Continental waltzes and polkas, military marches for brass or bagpipes - the only major popular genre it leaves out is church music. (Vic Gammon's "Early Scottish Ragtime" mines some of its odder corners, and the Carolina Chocolate Drops found some gems that had been forgotten back where they came from).

This was letting the market decide what was worth presenting, not filtering by the choices of a single performer or collector. And it remains as a historical document of popular taste - what you might have heard at a knees-up in the northern half of Britain any time before WW1. Song collectors like Sharp (or Bartok, for that matter) mostly leave you guessing about what their subjects' everyday sound world really was.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 11:59 AM

OK Brian

We now have a post from Jim which outlines what he appears to be claiming are 'research findings'. I shall not be commenting on how valid these findings are in the light of his raw data, or on the question of how far he may have mediated what his subjects said as a result of his plain pre-conceptions about the songs, or comment on the somewhat astonishing information that WP described old songs as 'rubbish' when asked to sing them. Because that would be 'off topic'

Are we all happy now?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Feb 20 - 12:21 PM

"I shall not be commenting on how valid these findings are !
Good - you don't have the knowledge to do so as you have porven with your lack of understanding of Walter Pardon , Bob Copper and everything else folk
Your postings are becoming more and more self-important and pompous
"Are we all happy now?"
We will be when you stop
Jim Carroll


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