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Dave Harker, Fakesong

The Sandman 15 Jan 20 - 04:08 AM
Dave the Gnome 15 Jan 20 - 04:17 AM
Joe Offer 15 Jan 20 - 04:18 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Jan 20 - 04:47 AM
Dave the Gnome 15 Jan 20 - 05:04 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Jan 20 - 05:10 AM
Richard Mellish 15 Jan 20 - 05:12 AM
Dave the Gnome 15 Jan 20 - 05:17 AM
Jack Campin 15 Jan 20 - 05:32 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 15 Jan 20 - 05:40 AM
Brian Peters 15 Jan 20 - 07:38 AM
Brian Peters 15 Jan 20 - 07:41 AM
Brian Peters 15 Jan 20 - 07:52 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 15 Jan 20 - 08:58 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 15 Jan 20 - 09:03 AM
Brian Peters 15 Jan 20 - 09:15 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 15 Jan 20 - 09:22 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 15 Jan 20 - 09:37 AM
Lighter 15 Jan 20 - 11:22 AM
Jack Campin 15 Jan 20 - 12:18 PM
Jeri 15 Jan 20 - 12:18 PM
Lighter 15 Jan 20 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,jag 15 Jan 20 - 12:53 PM
Brian Peters 15 Jan 20 - 01:12 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 15 Jan 20 - 01:26 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 15 Jan 20 - 03:29 PM
Steve Gardham 15 Jan 20 - 04:40 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 15 Jan 20 - 05:43 PM
Steve Gardham 15 Jan 20 - 06:14 PM
Steve Gardham 15 Jan 20 - 06:26 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 15 Jan 20 - 06:29 PM
Steve Gardham 15 Jan 20 - 06:40 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 15 Jan 20 - 07:01 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 15 Jan 20 - 07:03 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 15 Jan 20 - 08:12 PM
RTim 15 Jan 20 - 10:44 PM
Karen Impola 15 Jan 20 - 11:12 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 16 Jan 20 - 04:19 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 16 Jan 20 - 04:20 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 16 Jan 20 - 04:24 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 16 Jan 20 - 04:50 AM
Lighter 16 Jan 20 - 08:49 AM
GUEST,John Moulden 16 Jan 20 - 08:51 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 16 Jan 20 - 09:03 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 16 Jan 20 - 09:27 AM
GUEST,jag 16 Jan 20 - 10:41 AM
GUEST,jag 16 Jan 20 - 10:43 AM
GUEST,Modette 16 Jan 20 - 01:01 PM
GUEST,jag 16 Jan 20 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,Modette 16 Jan 20 - 01:53 PM
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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 04:08 AM

Thankyou Jim.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 04:17 AM

See you in a few days, Jim.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 04:18 AM

Jim, I think that most of us posting in this thread would agree with you in questioning Dave Harker. Some may have ideas that conflict with ours, and they also have the right to speak. It is not a matter of comments being right or wrong. If we disagree with a comment, it gives us the opportunity to present a rational response. It is not deplorable for somebody to post something that I disagree with. If the only way I can respond is to condemn the other person as deplorable, I add nothing to the discussion. If I can offer a rational response, then the discussion can move forward.
While Harker has been severely ctiticized in this thread, and rightly so, he has given us the opportunity for a good discussion and I have learned a lot from it.
All the best to you.
Joe


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 04:47 AM

I want no part in a forum that makes Walter Pardon a no-go area until a moderator decides otherwise
I see no value in having done so in the first place and I see it completly unacceptable that it has continued
I will take my arguments elsewhere
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 05:04 AM

I said a few days but there was only 48 minutes between a "never posting here again" message and the next post. Is that a record?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 05:10 AM

Maiou Dave
ThAnk you for your support and helping me to make up my mind whether to stay or go
I responded out of politeness to Joe as I am now doing in disappointment to you
I'll leave you to get on with it
Jim


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 05:12 AM

Jim, you are taking umbrage at what you imagine people to be saying, not what they are actually saying.

Harker (I understand, having not actually read him) claimed that numerous collectors were fraudulent.

No-one here is claiming that for Sharp and his contemporaries, nor for Child. We are agreeing with Child that some earlier editors were fraudulent.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 05:17 AM

I'll run a sweep on when your next post will be, Jim. I was miles out before but I'll go for around the 8 day mark this time.

Are you recovering well from the sense of humour by-pass?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 05:32 AM

I found Harker's "relentless negativity" (as Brian characterized it) hard to take as well.

I wondered where it was coming from, as other Marxist critics I've read could be quite generous towards creators whose roles in the class system were anything but revolutionary - Lukacs and Eagleton, for two. But those folks were writing about creative work itself, not about the work of others in curating and interpreting it. So I couldn't think of an obvious parallel with anyone taking a Marxist approach to a similar task. Though radical left critiques of art gallery and museum management are about as aggressive as Harker - and knowing some of those critics personally I know it isn't just a rhetorical pose. Maybe there's something about second-order criticism that makes people lose their cool.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 05:40 AM

I haven't got through Harker on Sharp yet. Why was he discussing the population or size of Sharp's villages? And why is it so important if these 'statistics' are inaccurate, apart from the inaccuracy generally casting doubt on the quality of Harker's work?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 07:38 AM

Jim, as you know I shared your frustration over the Walter Pardon thread. However, on the present thread I've seen no disrespect shown to Child, nor accusations of fraud, greed or whatever. As you've said many times, folk song is a subject into which digging deeper can be very rewarding - although much as I value the research element in Mudcat I realise that it isn't the raison d'etre of the site, and I accept happily the different interests of others. But, if we're interested in research, we have to be prepared to lift stones as well as study with respect the work of those who went before us.

Child himself was a scourge of fakery, which is of course why his quest for the Percy manuscript was so important to him. As I think you'd agree, he knew that other sources were suspect too. To delve deeper into that is not to become a 'Harkerist', or to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Similarly, in the case of Bert Lloyd, he did edit songs (very skilfully), and the highly informative discussion on 'Bertsongs' a few years back set out merely to unpick those alterations, not to trash his entire reputation.

Over my many years involvement with folk song I've experienced several episodes of reappraisal amidst the many pleasures. It was shock at the time to realise that Steeleye Span's magnificent version of 'King Henry' wasn't actually representative of what common folk had sung for 400 years, or that the Copper Family's delightfully localized 'Shepherd of the Downs' began life as a flowery poetic piece called 'The Shepherd Adonis', or that 'Bold Lovell' - which I'd sung for years and believed to be English - was something Bert Lloyd had plucked from a Vermont songster, Anglicized, and furnished with a chorus. But I got over all those jolts, and others, because none of them affected my enjoyment of the actual music. It was a very romantic notion to my 20-year-old self to believe that the ballads I was becoming fascinated by were the communal creations of medieval peasants, but I didn't like them any less when they turned out not to be.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 07:41 AM

"I haven't got through Harker on Sharp yet. Why was he discussing the population or size of Sharp's villages? And why is it so important if these 'statistics' are inaccurate, apart from the inaccuracy generally casting doubt on the quality of Harker's work?"

I think you'll understand more when you've finished reading Harker, and also Bearman's critique (linked in my post). How significant the argument was is a matter of opinion.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 07:52 AM

Jack, there's some interesting comment on your point about Marxist critiques in James Porter's chapter in 'Comparative Musicology and Anthropology of Music', eds. Nettl & Bohlman. According to Porter, the Fabian sympathies of Sharp, RVW, etc, were a significant part of the reason for Harker's antipathy: "the traditional contempt of revolutionary socialists to gradualism", as Porter puts it. Certianly DH was determined to discredit Sharp's socialism.

This link should get you there.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 08:58 AM

Regarding the last few posts here: maybe I can help? Put simply, there are many different kinds of Marxism and Marxist. Harker was/is a member of the SWP which as I understand it identifies as a Trotskyist group.

Again, put simply, and from background/general knowledge:

After the Russian revolution, Trotsky was actively involved in the Government, and was a successful military strategist. Lenin evolved a new 'version' of Marxism, called Marxist-Leninism or some such. The need to do this was partly because according to Marx the workers' revolution would be carried out by the urban proletariat. They could not claim that this had happened in Russia. Trotsky disagreed with Lenin and was ousted, and eventually murdered with an ice pick in Mexico.

The British Communist Party was closely linked to, and possibly partly funded, by the Soviet Union. It tended to take its line from Moscow. Lloyd, one of the mediators discussed by Harker, was a member of the CPGB. So Harker, no let's speak generally: a Trotskyist would be likely to view the work of a CPGB member as to be crude 'ideologically suspect'. Similarly, they might see the Fabians as mere bourgeois liberals or some such.

There is another aspect, raised by Harker himself. Some people use the term 'vulgar Marxist' to refer to those who apply simplistic class analysis to culture as if culture could be fully explained in terms of class. Harker raises this challenge in his book.

This is a rough and ready account. Maybe the link supplied by Brian Peters says all this and more better.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 09:03 AM

Students learning to write are often told to consider their audience and to tailor what they say accordingly. Harker says at the outset his main audience is his local party branch. On that basis, some of the more polemical passages in his work could be seen as apt for that audience even though they annoy/distract readers expecting a more neutral tone in an academic piece.

One thing that seems to annoy Harker is when folklorists pour scorn on material that the working class like: two examples he gives if I remember aright are Bob Dylan and Donovan. It's as if Harker is saying who are you to criticise working class taste'. Is this a fair comment?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 09:15 AM

I happen to know a former member of the Gorton branch of the SWP and had a long conversation with him about his former comrade. Suffice to say that 'Fakesong' is not his favourite book!

I thought it was mainly middle-class youth who were fans of Dylan and Donovan, but I shouldn't generalise.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 09:22 AM

Brian: I'm not by any means attempting to defend Harker, I just think it helps when discussing a book to try to get a clear idea about what it says!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 09:37 AM

One of the best historical critiques I have read of early 20th century academic folklorists in the USA is contained within a book by Karl Hagstrom Miller called 'Segregating Sound. Inventing Folk and Pop Music in the Age of Jim Crow'. He discusses the very early days of the American Folklore Society of which Child was a member. I went back and read some of the early papers, including the first. I share Hagstrom Miller's view that it is very racist, touched it seems with some sort of 'Darwinist' view that some 'races' are more evolved than others.

While in no way seeking to deny Child credit for his achievements, I think it is fair and possibly morally important to identify that there were not only some flaws in the 'raw data' he had to work with, but also, possibly in the intellectual zeitgeist of the time (think Jim Crow etc).

Hagstrom Miller's work makes for interesting comparison with that of Harker.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 11:22 AM

> some sort of 'Darwinist' view that some 'races' are more evolved than others.

The nearly universal European intellectual assumption at the time.

In other words, the collectors may have been racists, but they were not seemingly vicious racists. They simply accepted the prevailing unscientific ideology.

Since Child's interest was in "English and Scottish Popular Ballads," it's hard to see how any putative racial bias might have affected his choices or methods.

If he'd known more about "American Native Ballads," he might have included a (very ) few American items like "John Hardy" and "John Henry":   Anglo-American in form, if largely African-American otherwise.

But I believe Child died before texts of either song - not to mention "Frankie and Johnny" and "Stagolee" - could have been available to him.)


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 12:18 PM

Frazer's "The Golden Bough" came out at the same time as Child's collection and doesn't share that racist-Darwinist ideology. For that matter Morgan, Hobson and Engels were all working at the same time, with ideas of social evolution that didn't include race as an essential ingredient; none of them was obscure or isolated. So, there were alternatives Child should have known about.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jeri
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 12:18 PM

FJC
Born 1 Feb 1825
Died 11 Sept 1896
Anybody want a gravestone rubbing? (It's large)


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 12:28 PM

Hi, Jack. My point is simply that it's hard for me to see how racism could have affected Child's treatment of the ballads.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 12:53 PM

Child > American Folklore Society > Hagstrom Miller > Pseudonymus is rather tenuous. Is there anything specific about Child in Hagstrom Miller, or anything that Child wrote to indicate a) is views on race and b) that they were relevant to his work on the ballads ?

(@Steve Gardham - thanks for your response to my question)


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 01:12 PM

"The nearly universal European intellectual assumption at the time... In other words, the collectors may have been racists, but they were not seemingly vicious racists. They simply accepted the prevailing unscientific ideology."

I think this is true of Sharp as well. He did however - despite his Anglocentric search preferences - manage to collect versions of 'John Hardy', 'Frankie and Johnnie', 'Nine Pound Hammer', 'Pharoah's Army' and many other songs of African-American origin.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 01:26 PM

Hello Lighter

I did not say that Child's treatment of the ballads was so affected.

Part of Harker's intention is to give a picture of how folkloric work changed over time (albeit not, he hopes, a 'vulgar' Marxist one). My point was that other researchers have taken different approaches to that topic. I agree with most of what you say, as it happens.

When the American Society started up, it claimed in its journal to be 'scientific', but rather looks anything but, being as you say imbued with 'ideology'. And yes the date is pre 20th century, Vol 1 is dated 1888.

By the way, I'm guessing that the arguments about the size of 'villages' will be linked to arguments about whether Sharp was discovering rural people whose song culture had been untouched by literacy or industrial culture and who could be said to represent some sort of unsullied oral tradition, an idea that Lloyd, for example, strongly criticises.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 03:29 PM

I hope the above answers Jag's point as well. Referring back to my post of 15th Jan 9.37, I mentioned historical critiques of folkloristic studies. I hope the relevance and the point (a contrasting example, a different approach from that of Harker) is now clear. Sorry if it wasn't first time around.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 04:40 PM

Child: I have read and reread many times ESPB and what of his correspondence is generally available plus the work of his pupils, Gummere, Kittredge. I haven't read ESB cover to cover. I have read what biographies exist. To me apart from his obvious godlike qualities he lived in an academic bubble surrounded by a loving family and his beloved roses, and worked himself to death. I strongly believe by about half way through his life's work he was exhausted and was beginning to lose heart, but as a single-minded obsessive (as most of us here are to some degree) he had to finish what he started, and by and large he did. His statement (I flagged up in Vol 5) just before he died speaks 10,000 words. I cannot remember every word he wrote but the only slight prejudice I can detect is that, as a Professor of Eng Lit, he favoured Anna Gordon's versions of ballads. She was far from being any sort of peasant and came from a very literate well-off musical background and her ballads show evidence of mediation by her own family if not herself. There is no evidence I can remember of any racial preference. He was not a collector. There is no reason for him to have come into contact with American ballads of any type. The titles of the books say it all and it's ridiculous to accuse him of neglecting anything other than this.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 05:43 PM

I did look up the statement in Vol 5, and noted the preference for Anna Gordon and as far as I know what Steve Gardham says here is correct. If I did not thank Steve for the ref I do so now. Steve is one person on MUDCAT who has pointed me in the direction of a lot of interesting wider reading. Once again, I do not think I have said that Child's work on ballads shows evidence of 'racial preference' but that the context in which he worked, and some of the broader work with which he was connected eg early 'folklore' does have racist/racialist overtones.

I agree with Brian Peters on Sharp, as another thing I found on archive.org was the big Sharp work on English folksong. Sharp cites Wagner at one point. Atkinson somewhere surmises that Sharp would have been more likely to have been influenced by Wagner than by Child, I read that just before coming across Sharp referring to him, showing Atkinson at least had some sort of back up for his point, as you would expect. I'm thinking Harker had something to say about folklore and nationalism, and interested to hear people's views on this aspect of Harker's critique.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 06:14 PM

Folklore has certainly been used for nationalistic and patriotic ends and one would be surprised if it hadn't. Why, quite recently we were presented with the National Front trying to utilise folk music and it reared its ugly head on this very Forum.

I'm certainly convinced as I've already said that the burgeoning of interest in making, mediating and publishing Scottish ballads was part of the national need to emphasise Scottish identity as separate from the rest of Britain, along with the appropriation of the Highland bagpipe and the kilt, following the Highland clearances.

Tzu, I was a member of the EFDSS in the 60s but I certainly did not agree with all they stood for then.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 06:26 PM

Without touching on Georgina's and Dave's books there is plenty of other evidence on Sharp in other people's biographies. He was an authoritarian and difficult to get on with. He liked things doing his own way and fell out with anyone who opposed him. I think also he was to some degree like Child an obsessive but obviously that's not a criticism. A latecomer to the scene he soon asserted his dominance and the 2 most knowledgeable people who could have perhaps tempered/balanced him were a long way from London, Kidson and Baring Gould.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 06:29 PM

Steve
Having read about Walter Scott (mentioned above) in a more specifically 'Eng Lit' context, I agree to some extent, though Highland Clearances are just one part of the story, as I am sure you know.
I've had my own house daubed with far right stickers so this is something I am quite hot on.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 06:40 PM

I still don't know why, perhaps someone can hazard a guess, that the only person out of the early English collectors to take an interest in Child Ballads specifically was Baring Gould who corresponded with Child
(I have copies of the letters). Any Child Ballads collected by any of them were simply accorded the same status as all other ballads collected and given no prominence. Sharp, Gilchrist and Kidson were well aware of the Child Ballads but made little use of Child's expertise. It wasn't until Sharp published the Appalachian songs that he started to prioritise Child ballads and the system of placing the Child ballads first in order of number as in EFSFSA was then followed by all of the American university collections for the next 60 years. The Child Ballads are rarely given any sort of prominence in the early journals of the Society.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 07:01 PM

Obviously I'll be reading Boyce soon, but whether I'll be discussing it online I don't know. I have read some Bearman, which is why it makes sense to look at Harker! 'Base over apex' I know.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 07:03 PM

"obvious Godlike qualities" :)


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 08:12 PM

The other piece I have read is one by David Gregory, mentioned already on Mudcat. I have enjoyed several pieces by this writer and found he had a lot of sensible remarks on Harker, including weighing the pros and cons. No more from me here until I've read the whole of Harker. NB I can hear the sighs of relief!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: RTim
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 10:44 PM

I believe I am right in saying that the first printing of Child Vol. 1 was not until 1904.. so unless the early collectors were really aware of Child - why would they reference him.......

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Karen Impola
Date: 15 Jan 20 - 11:12 PM

Wikipedia says, "The Child Ballads were published in five volumes between 1882 and 1898."

I don't know exactly when all these other people were collecting, but I just thought I'd throw that in there.

(Wikipedia also cleared up my misconception that Child must have been British, so what do I know? I do know that I'm learning a lot from this thread, and this site in general.)


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 16 Jan 20 - 04:19 AM

If I may return to take up a point made about Child by Steve and also previously by other posters: "the only slight prejudice I can detect is that, as a Professor of Eng Lit". I think this may be slightly, and from my perspective, perhaps importantly wrong.

As usual I would be happy to be corrected if wrong, but I have done a quick check. From 1851 Child was Boynton professor of rhetoric, oratory and elocution, and from 1876 he was professor of English (not English Literature). He worked within a 'philological' tradition. This approach is a bit out of date, but is more like being interested in English Language than in English Literature. Nowadays the sort of work he did might be described as historical linguistics (See Britannica on philology).

He wrote about Chaucer, focussing on deducing from Chaucer facts about the grammar of Chaucer's time, and his results have been much improved upon since then; it is now realised that Chaucer's dialect was just one among many at that time. He did not discuss themes, characters, use and effect of rhyming structures etc.

He edited or arranged for editions to be produced of various works of English Literature, partly because the Americans wanted to study them but did not have editions. So when these works survived in partial or multiple and differing versions (as indeed does a lot of Shakespeare) the editor would decide which version to treat as the main one. The edition might include notes indicating why certain wordings had been chosen, and perhaps some historical notes to aid the reader.

He was not the sort of Eng Lit critic who made aesthetic judgments about works of literature based for example on a study of structure, form, language, imagery, character and theme.

I have read a number of suggestions that some of his criteria for selecting and rejecting ballads were 'aesthetic' but for me to argue that he had expertise in 'aesthetics' or 'Literary appreciation' on the basis of his academic career doesn't square with the facts.

There have been all sorts of literary critics, and a recent fashion for using literary theory and differing perspectives (eg Marx, Freud, Post Colonialism, various post-modern approaches) in the study of literature. I imagine that some folkies would tear their hair out if people attempted any such thing with folk music. In fact, I think I've been on the receiving end of it at times.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 16 Jan 20 - 04:20 AM

Apologies for thread drift.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 16 Jan 20 - 04:24 AM

The county library service just rang to say they have in the copy of Harker that they obtained for me via the inter=library loan service (cost 50 pence). So no more squinting at Harker on-screen for a while.

They have obtained a number of expensive things for me, including works by Sharp/Karpeles. Worth a try rather than paying for expensive books, though they cannot get everything as some Universities won't lend books to public libraries.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 16 Jan 20 - 04:50 AM

@ Karen Impola

I was once told on MUDCAT I was talking nonsense for saying this, but among the other subjects Child taught at Harvard (possibly before it became a University) was history. If you look, for example, at his lengthy commentary in volume 5 about Sir Andrew Barton you will see evidence of this.

I did not realise till I read Harker that he was also involved with the library at Harvard. How far this helps to explain his motives for and success getting his hands on British manuscripts I do not know. I did think that today such artefacts might not be allowed to be sold out of the country so easily. But times change!

None of this of course is designed to do any damage to bathing babies or to constitute blasphemy.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Jan 20 - 08:49 AM

Not until the 20th century was "English literature" (still less "American"!) thought to be a subject worthy of university study.

Classical and Medieval literature (in the source languages, of course) the chief topics of philological interest. The Pepys and Roxburgh broadsides , for example, were scrutinized and published (and referred to) by only a small number of people with antiquarian interests. They were generally thought to be worthless as literature.

"Literary theory" as an academic discipline with contending aesthetic and sociological positions did not exist. Intellectual belief was that whatever was of value in literature written in Modern English was readily accessible to any intelligent reader.

Aesthetics was a matter of established taste that had been formed by the rigorous study of Homer, Vergil, Cicero, and other Classical figures. In the academic world, the free verse of Whitman, for example, was widely regarded as doggerel.

Seen in that intellectual context, Child's decision to devote much of his career to the cross-cultural literary study of ESPB was arguably unique and obviously trail-blazing. (It is certainly possible that he was drawn to the subject partly because of his own working-class origins.)

As a reminder to Mudcat: Child wrote a substantial article expressing much of his mid-career thinking about the ballads, which appeared (as "Ballad Poetry") in Johnson's New Universal Cyclopaedia in 1874.

It's too bad he didn't update it for his five-volume collection.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 16 Jan 20 - 08:51 AM

I haven't died, and it is my 79th birthday, but I haven't posted at all of late and the reason is obvious. I see no point in discussion which is not conducted politely, and more than politely; that is, without an assumption that everybody has a political or monetary gain in mind. The only point is that we should, between us, arrive at an understanding of what traditional song is about, its worth to people, and how people used it. This is knowledge and empowers us to sing better and to be a better support for those who do. I reject arid scholarship or conversation that speaks in terms that would not be understood by those who sang these songs. It is an insult to speak so. However, this is not a criticism but an observation and a description of what I try to do.

I met Dave Harker once, at a one day conference in Sheffield organised by Ian Russell and others. I gave a brief paper on my discovery that a little book, "Songs and Poems on Various Subjects by Hugh McWilliams, Schoolmaster" published in 1831, contained texts of a range of songs known in tradition - including "When a man's in love" and "The trip over the mountain" and how I justified my conclusion, by analysing textual variations, that Hugh McWilliams was their originator. Obviously I pointed out that this disturbed the notion that 'folk' songs were necessarily anonymous and old which my generation had derived from the opinions and writings of our predecessors. Dave asked me was I not angry that earlier commentators had so misled me. My response was that I was glad that they had done the work, that no matter how distorted their thinking or their snapshot of the singing tradition, it still provided starting points, that we would be poorer without it, indeed without it little would have survived, in pure or distorted form.
You might as well have asked Galileo if he could forgive the Babylonians. They could only understand from the standpoint of their own world view, from the stage that their science had reached. However, their stooped, even distorted shoulders were there to be stood upon.

I wish it could be understood that the point of discussion is not to win an argument but to reach understanding and to be grateful to all those who contribute.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 16 Jan 20 - 09:03 AM

Thumbs up for that post John. And Happy Birthday.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 16 Jan 20 - 09:27 AM

Yes Lighter:

I have referred to the Encyclopedia article before. I was told in no uncertain terms that it misrepresents Child's point of view. Allusion was made to other pieces by him stating a quite different view that it was the lower classes or 'ordinary people' who produced ballads, but no references were provided. I would be happy to read these if they were available.

Yes, Lighter. I agree on Eng Lit as a uni subject. My understanding is that there was work on 'aesthetics' of sorts in classical times. The bits I know a little about are from Aristotle: catharsis etc.

But a lot of modern 'aesthetics' seems to come from the Romantic period?

Sorry we are drifting off topic.

None of the above, is, of course, designed to do any damage to bathing babies or to constitute blasphemy.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 16 Jan 20 - 10:41 AM

The 'ordinary person' in the village who wrote ballads would not be remembered as an 'ordinary person'. He would be "Fred the poet" or "Fred the minstrel". If times were hard he may have been 'Fred the market busker' or sunk to being 'Fred the ballad seller'. Or maybe he helped out with rural literacy as 'Fred the teacher'. In many people's categorisation he would no longer be one of 'the folk'.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 16 Jan 20 - 10:43 AM

If he did really well he might, for Harker, be 'Fred the bourgois'

200


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Modette
Date: 16 Jan 20 - 01:01 PM

You know, jag, that women may have written a fair few of those songs (and none of them would have been called 'Fred').


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 16 Jan 20 - 01:40 PM

Sorry, should have put "They might" not "He would". The rest still works.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Modette
Date: 16 Jan 20 - 01:53 PM

No, it doesn't, jag. They'd still all be Freds!


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