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Dave Harker, Fakesong

Jim Carroll 06 Feb 20 - 03:27 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Feb 20 - 03:24 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 05 Feb 20 - 07:52 PM
GUEST 05 Feb 20 - 07:38 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 05 Feb 20 - 07:13 PM
Lighter 05 Feb 20 - 06:24 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Feb 20 - 06:03 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Feb 20 - 05:45 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 05 Feb 20 - 02:55 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 05 Feb 20 - 02:48 PM
Jack Campin 05 Feb 20 - 02:31 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 05 Feb 20 - 02:10 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 05 Feb 20 - 01:57 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 05 Feb 20 - 01:50 PM
Jack Campin 05 Feb 20 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,jag 05 Feb 20 - 01:14 PM
Lighter 05 Feb 20 - 01:04 PM
Jack Campin 05 Feb 20 - 12:37 PM
GUEST 05 Feb 20 - 12:15 PM
GUEST,jag 05 Feb 20 - 12:13 PM
GUEST,jag 05 Feb 20 - 12:10 PM
Lighter 05 Feb 20 - 12:04 PM
GUEST,jag 05 Feb 20 - 11:51 AM
Lighter 05 Feb 20 - 11:26 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 05 Feb 20 - 11:23 AM
Jack Campin 05 Feb 20 - 10:57 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 05 Feb 20 - 10:42 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 05 Feb 20 - 10:23 AM
Brian Peters 05 Feb 20 - 10:21 AM
Jack Campin 05 Feb 20 - 09:24 AM
Brian Peters 05 Feb 20 - 09:02 AM
Jack Campin 05 Feb 20 - 07:37 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Feb 20 - 07:28 AM
GUEST,jag 05 Feb 20 - 05:57 AM
GUEST,jag 05 Feb 20 - 05:31 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Feb 20 - 05:24 AM
GUEST 05 Feb 20 - 04:37 AM
Richard Mellish 05 Feb 20 - 03:15 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 07:43 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 05:44 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 05:30 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 04 Feb 20 - 05:16 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 04:02 PM
Brian Peters 04 Feb 20 - 02:56 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Feb 20 - 02:29 PM
Brian Peters 04 Feb 20 - 01:33 PM
Brian Peters 04 Feb 20 - 01:28 PM
Brian Peters 04 Feb 20 - 01:26 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Feb 20 - 01:16 PM
Jack Campin 04 Feb 20 - 12:56 PM
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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Feb 20 - 03:27 AM

I meant to add to that last, MacColl and Lloyd's groundbreaking Riverside Ballad series - flawed but worth having for the extensive notes alone
Bronson described it as the most important work on the folk scene since Sharp
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Feb 20 - 03:24 AM

"I think it is very begrudging to point out examples of early collectors and publishers of songs published material with false claims about its provenance because they were ?publishers? of songs they thought worth singing, not"
What were those "false claims" ?
As yet, nobody has dared put those accusations into the context of the songs that were published
It was in no way dishonest to adapt songs in order to 'improve' them before it even drealised that these songs had a social importance
Rightly or wrongly, they improved songs they thought were interesting but flawed and they made improvements they believed would be beneficial to their appreciation - there is nothing dishonest about that - unwise as it may now seem
People here are strong advocates of the broadsides
It seems fairly obvious to be (and has always been believed by many) that the broadside hacks took many existing folk songs and re-wrote them to be sold to suit the earlier tastes of urban audiences
I don' believe that to have been 'dishonest' despite the fact that the hacks tore the hearts out of the songs and made them virtually unsingable (try working your way though Ashton, or Hindley, or Holloway and Black to find singable songs sometime)

As for "selling" their songs - have you ever looked at the prices of some of the specialist folk song books like Roud and Atkinson's one on Street Literature
There's nothin reprehensible about that - it just puts them out of reach of many of us
Of course books were sold, but very few writers made fortunes on their writings#
If I put out a collection of Irish Traveller songs, as I would dearly like to, I would have to finance it myself or (if I am very lucky) get a grant from the Irish Arts Council

"but all I remember of it is that it was extremely readable and interesting."
It is indeed, as are several other of his books
His and his wife' Eleanor Long's 'Banks of Mulroy Bay is a superb study of how one historical incident, is a superb study of how one historical incident, the assassination of one of Ireland's landlords, gave rise to the making of dozens of songs in the area it the events took place
Wilgus's work with Irish Traveller John Reilly (of'The Maid and the Palmer' fame) is freely available on line for listening

Wilgus and the like are not Panaceas - the study of folk song and ballads is a life-long learning curve of reading as much as you can manage (gluggers and all) and in the end, making up your on mind - nobody has all (or even very many of) the answers
If it's any help, our archive has a large collection of digitised books which I have been selecting from and passing around on PCloud to people I believe will use it responsibly
The same with our record collection, which runs into many hundreds of digitised and now largely unobtainable discs
All you need do is say what you are interested in and let me have an e-ail address
I still find a discussion on folk song without a close examination of the songs themselves pretty much pissing in the wind
With that in mind, I would highly recommend the 10 volume 'Folk Songs of Britain' series' or better still, MaColl's 10 programme series 'The Song Carriers' for a brilliant analysis of the songs collected by the BBC in the '50s - and there's much more (there's even a full set of the BBC project for anybody who wants it)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 07:52 PM

I missed a 'who' out in the third para. Between "songs" and "published"

publishers of songs who published material with false claims …

Sorry and goodnight and thanks again to those who helped me with my questions.

Just one more totally off piste thing that has been nagging at me: I cannot recall a word used by Jeff Tod Titon somewhere to refer to the situation where a phenomenon arises in more than one place rather than having a single place of origin. It may have been an adjective ending in 'ic' or some such. Can anybody supply it, because I have been wanting to use it from time to time?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 07:38 PM

I really think it to be more than a little begrudging to accuse many of the early collectors of "fakery" and dishonesty - they were song collectors gathering songs they thought worth singing, not social historians.'

I'm trying to express this in what seems to me less emotive and more logical language; it's tricky:

I think it is very begrudging to point out examples of early collectors and publishers of songs published material with false claims about its provenance because they were ?publishers? of songs they thought worth singing, not ? people making a claim that these were actually songs that originated with other people.

Reason for proposed change: Because if what they published/distributed/marketed (sorry but a lot of these people did sell volumes) was not 'gathered' but self-authored, it doesn't seem quite accurate to describe them as people who were 'collecting' songs they thought were worth singing. It is illogical.

Does anybody see what I am getting at here? Plus the way the point is made begs a lot of questions about the motives of some of these folk. It seems to me that some of them then sold books including these songs, so there just might have been some financial motive, some motive in terms of 'status' among the group of people with similar interests? They may from time to time or even most of the time have collected songs they thought were worth singing, but that isn't the be all and the end all of it.

Moreover, it seems to me that people in the 20th century providing accounts of what these people (eg Percy etc) did cannot in all honesty 'pretend' that songs that they know were fabrications or were written by some member of the Edinburgh literary circle were songs gathered from the 'ordinary working people' of Scotland for example.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 07:13 PM

Thanks Lighter. Appreciated. Both of them?

Thanks Steve. 'Ballad Wars'; oh, yes, I have heard this phrase. (Heart sinks).

A lot of web sites say that Wilgus made 'hillbilly' music a respectable topic for academic study. I don't think that term is considered polite nowadays?

Anybody know what these ballad wars were about? Is it some sort of 'new criticism' type focus on the text as a font of meaning that is supposedly objectively there versus a focus on what people think (ie an acceptance that texts can be interpreted especially by people singing them)?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 06:24 PM

Pseud, I read Wilgus in college, but all I remember of it is that it was extremely readable and interesting.

I do recall his writing that criticizing the Lomaxes was regarded, at the time, as like bringing a rifle into a National Park.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 06:03 PM

Wilgus
1. The Ballad war I The Morphology of Dry Bones
2. The Ballad war II The Emersonians
3.Folksong Collections In GB 7 N America
4. The Study of Anglo-American FS
and appendixes
The Negro-White Spirituals
Select discography
Select bibliog.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 05:45 PM

The same is happening here as happened in other long threads; we are going off at all sorts of tangents which could do with perhaps separate threads of their own. Fascinating stuff and some of it way beyond my knowledge.

At the risk of being accused of being patronising, some astute contributions from Jim. I just can't fully agree with....>>>> 'I really think it to be more than a little begrudging to accuse many of the early collectors of "fakery" and dishonesty - they were song collectors gathering songs they thought worth singing, not social historians.'

Even as far back as Percy they knew what they were doing and even tried to cover it up. They were all being dishonest (or extremely naïve) to some point. The extreme was reached with Peter Buchan. You only have to read his frontis statement and introduction to realise that Child Ether wasn't a one-off! And they certainly were not just gathering songs to sing. Perhaps you need to clarify who you mean by the early collectors.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 02:55 PM

@ Jack: Sharp almost seems to imply in places that there was a certain amount of musical improv among the peasantry. He also says some singers favoured a certain mode and sang more or less anything in it, a very interesting idea. Lots of bits, tantalising.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 02:48 PM

Jack

A very interesting reply, such that I am glad I asked the question! Just shows what a fascinating place Mudcat can be.

Harker doesn't go into the music theory angle much; what I do recall is him wondering how many tunes Sharp rejected because they were not modal, and saying we simply don't know. I think this links to his theme about the picture we get of what the working class/peasants/whatever were actually doing as a whole, their whole musical life being 'mediated' ie in this case basically incomplete with bits selected to suit the purposes of the mediator. But of course Sharp had no interest in anything but those tunes that he decided (perhaps on some a priori grounds) were folk and those that were not. Harker implies I think that Sharp reported a lot of modes because that is the sort of thing he was looking for.

And there are some within the folklore community who regard the tune as an irrelevance, especially perhaps as we know so many different tunes got used for lyrics.

Sharp 'complains' that it is difficult to 'harmonise' modes, by which, basically he means I think difficult to come up with a piano accompaniment/choose chords. No off the shelf suggestions from his classical theory perhaps?

Just out of interest, there seem to be a number of Sharp song books on the archive.org site. I don't suppose you might be able/willing to suggest one that a person could download with a view to seeing how Sharp did deal with the problem of 'harmonising' modal tunes?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 02:31 PM

What about the idea that if Sharp drew on India etc ( assuming he knew or could have found out) this might undermine his claim to be discovering a specifically English 'folk music' or when it came to the folk based art music which was his eventual aim that this was 'national music'.

This isn't about melodic material, it's about theory, and the way melodies are constructed when you have a theory in mind; you put them together like making a model with Lego, selecting a different set of pieces and colours to start with on each performance or composition. This is universal in kinds of music that are primarily improvised (like the Persian "radif"), but it was done explicitly in the psalm settings of the mediaeval Church and you can hear it (in a more fragmentary and implicit form) in Western folk music too. The Dorian final cadence (tonic-supertonic-tonic-subtonic-tonic) occurs right across Asia: the final cadence in a major-mode hornpipe (tonic-third-tonic) is more distinctively British.

Sharp's project of using folk material to build a national art music sent him off track here. He wanted to harmonize his tunes in an idiomatic way, and to do that he threw away the melodic content of the modes and reduced them to static scale structures ("octave species" in modern parlance). Anybody with a practical knowledge of a living, consciously modal idiom (like an Orthodox choirmaster or an Arabic nightclub singer) could have told him that was a road to nowhere. (Harker doesn't pick Sharp up for this, as far as I know).


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

@ Lighter; anybody:

People have been recommending the work of Wilgus, specifically a History of Anglo-American Ballad Scholarship.

I found a lot of recordings on a site dedicated to him. I also learned that he was brought up in the 'New Criticism' school (Empson/Cleanth Brooks) focus on 'what is there in the text', and at the centre of a controversy relating to the importance of the 'text' in ballad studies.

But I wondered:

1 Would Wilgus be a good 'replacement' for Harker in terms of covering the same time frame of 'folkloristics' and giving some account of the methods/background of the collectors?

2 How far does the book focus on the controversy mentioned above? I don't feel like engaging with yet another controversy especially one that I've engaged with previously in regard to 'art literature etc.

3 Can anybody help out with a set of chapter titles or suchlike?

4 Is this book going to be repeating stuff we have covered in this thread already?

Just in case anybody has time/inclination to answer.

Thanks


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 01:57 PM

"If it's OK for the 18C literati why not … Sharp's 'peasants'?"

Why not indeed, but in that case my question would be:

On Sharp's own definition of the non-educated peasant with no formal training and whose intellectual development is limited to the ups and downs of life and who has never had contact with anybody educated to be influenced by them etc would this be 'folk'?

And I'm not sure that on that definition it would be. Because the moment you are interacting with people from a different culture, and learning from them, even if orally not via literacy, then you are not really producing music in the sort of way Sharp outlines, are you? Or do people interpret Sharp differently?

Not of course that I am particularly a sticker for a defn., but if Sharp decides to go with it, then it is more consistent if he sticks with it, if you see what I mean.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 01:50 PM

Hello Jack,

Maybe ideological blinkers: don't know enough about these cultures, different note numbers in their scales etc etc.

What about the idea that if Sharp drew on India etc ( assuming he knew or could have found out) this might undermine his claim to be discovering a specifically English 'folk music' or when it came to the folk based art music which was his eventual aim that this was 'national music'.

@ Jag: on taking stories from other cultures, Shakespeare's Hamlet is thought to be based on a story from, of all places, given some of the topics on this thread, Denmark! The original was Amleth, I think, but I don't think people are certain of the route by which it came to Shakespeare.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 01:29 PM

"Cultural appropriation" is a very recently invented concern, and Harker can't possibly have had it in mind - not only was the term not in anyone's political vocabulary when he was writing, it doesn't fit into his Marxist scheme at all. Though the literal meaning of what he wrote is clear enough.

I just read the section on modes in Sharp, alluded to yesterday in this thread. He does at least try to give concrete examples, but throws away far too much pre-existing knowledge (that of the mediaeval Church and especially that of the Middle East, India and China) which could have been very, very useful to his project. I'd definitely score that one up to ideological blinkers.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 01:14 PM

I think this

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_appropriation is roughly how it is used now in the UK 'liberal press'. Jack Campin makes a good point about terms meaning different things at different times, but I suspect that was how Harker was using 'appropration'.

Thanks for the observation Jack. The National Front was around before Harker started publishing though. It's maybe me forgetting the perspective Harker was writing from and, maybe, for.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 01:04 PM

> accusing him of appropriating the music of the proletariat for bourgeois purposes.

If "appropriate" means "employ," I don't see an ethical, cultural, or aesthetic problem here.   Sounds like a question of dogma to me.

Or does it mean "steal"? In what sense?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 12:37 PM

Harker was being hyperbolic even back then, but remember that the "hard right" was a lot softer in the early 80s than it is now. Harker was thinking of Norman Tebbit at the most extreme (and more likely the Healeyite right of the Labour Party), and Tebbit would have been kicked out of the Tories for being a socialist years ago.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 12:15 PM

... folk music for 'nationalistic' purposes. Harker described Sharp ..."

(I did spell-check that post though)


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 12:13 PM

@Lighter. Thanks. Yes whoever it was a teacher told me. Point is they were pre-owned plots.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 12:10 PM

@Pseudonymous. The 'nationalistic' bit


In discussion here of Part of Harker's book it seemed to be accepted that the work of Scott, Burn's and others of that period was partially from a desire to establish a Scottish English language literature in the face of English dominance. Similar things were happening in Ireland and Wales (Eisteddfod revival etc).

Sharp's desire for an English national music seems to be driven by what was happening on mainland Europe with art music and also his wanting to get English folk music into schools (rather than what his fellow 'bourgeoisie' had in mind).

The current 'hard right' in England recently made an attempt to appropriate English folk music 'nationalistic' purposes. Harker describing Sharp as moving to the 'hard-right', and accusing him of appropriating the music of the proletariat for bourgeois purposes.

So I was asking for info from those who knew about Sharp as to where his views really fitted in to all this.

(and to Lighter - that is one of the issues over cultural appropriation)


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 12:04 PM

Possibly you mean Holinshed.

Gibbon wasn't born till 1737.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 11:51 AM

'The folk song must have had a beginning and that beginning must have been the work of an individual. Common sense compels us to assume that much.' (Sharp quoted by Pseudonymous)

Jim's observation about "ballads being re-made from plots and commonplaces" by Travellers and his statement that " Some of the ballad plots date back as far as Boccacio, Chaucer, Homer and even Early Egypt" argue against that commonsense.

It happens in literature all the time. As a kid I had a book of 'Tales from Shakespeare' and then later read that Shakespeare got some of his plots from Gibbon. The 'Ossian controversy' thread was current recently and I thought of Part 1 of Harker's book when reading Macpherson's rendering in both prose and in verse of what he claimed had come from Norse via Gaelic. His prose and verse accounts are so different that I can't imagine what may have happened in the earlier steps. My point there is that it doesn't matter that he may have been faking it, what he claimed to have done must have been acceptable at the time.

If it's OK for the 18C literati why not Jim's Travellers and Sharp's 'peasants'.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 11:26 AM

Why is "cultural appropriation" a bad thing?

If I sing a peasant song, I'm not stealing it: the peasants can still sing it any way they like.

Cultural appropriation has been going on since the beginnings of civilization, if not longer.

Or am I missing something?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 11:23 AM

Thanks Jack. I'm sure you are right, I was just trying to think why Sharp said what he did, especially as he claimed to find 'racial' differences within Somerset leave alone between England and Scotland. But I'm guessing Child's ESPB will have given him a clue!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 10:57 AM

There are some controversial remarks relating to parts of Scotland and Northern England on p 91 of Sharp's theoretical book. He cites Joseph Jacobs (we have already come across him) and Motherwell in favour of a view that there is not always a clear distinction between English and Scottish 'folk poetry'. On one level, since both areas were at one time colonised by the Angles, perhaps this made some sense.

It has nothing to do with the Angles. The sharing of stories and songs across the whole British Isles has continued to the present day. Sharp wasn't saying anything new or controversial.

The neatest story about that I've heard is in one pf the Opies' books about children's rhymes. On the abdication of Edward VIII, kids in London were heard singing

Hark the herald angels sing
Wallis Simpson's stole our King


and the same ditty turned up being sung by kids in Barra within three weeks despite never being printed or broadcast.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 10:42 AM

Regarding Rudolph: I came across both this analysis and possibly Vic Gammon on it. I think Harker has a sense of humour: as I said before this comes out in some of his passages on Lloyd. With an ironic bent.

For me the point here is that perhaps rather than "revering" some of the atrocious stuff that comes down from the past we might consider looking at it critically. The Bush of Australia and A L Lloyd's gloss on it, is an example I have discussed in the past.

@ Brian: it was not I who stated that the Copper family suggested on their web site that the latest book should be published via Amazon. I don't know who you are accusing of trying to 'smear' the Copper family, but whoever it is, I find this a little disappointing.

For my part, I stand by the point I made about recommending Amazon rather than a local bookshop when buying a newly-issued book.

Sharp's concept of 'communal creation' is complicated and as far as I can see it applies and counts as folk only when a song is being passed down through a community of people whose minds have had no contact with formal education, non-educated people formed solely by the ups and downs of life, and never having been close enough to educated people to have been altered by them and so on and so forth. We have discussed his idea of the 'peasant' before.

Sharp does not appear to regard this as an explanation of the origin of a song ie as an assertion that folk songs were originally written in collaborative teams. He is quite clear on this. He has a discussion and an example on P10/11. He says 'The folk song must have had a beginning and that beginning must have been the work of an individual. Common sense compels us to assume that much.' He then says that the process of changing what they do not like will mean that over time ownership passes to the community.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 10:23 AM

@ Jag: the whole question of appropriation is a complicated one, as your post suggests. It's one reason why I don't propose we try to discuss Harker on Lloyd.

Sorry, your question about Sharp looks interesting but I'm afraid I can't quite follow it. Could you possibly rephrase a 'nationalistic' one in the sense that that was part of drive in the political subordinate nations of the then UK' for me? Are you asking whether Sharp wanted to make England dominant over Scotland etc?

There are some controversial remarks relating to parts of Scotland and Northern England on p 91 of Sharp's theoretical book. He cites Joseph Jacobs (we have already come across him) and Motherwell in favour of a view that there is not always a clear distinction between English and Scottish 'folk poetry'. On one level, since both areas were at one time colonised by the Angles, perhaps this made some sense.

Sorry the guest at 4.37 was me.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 10:21 AM

Actually I did think the Rudolph analysis was prettying funny, as was Vic Gammon's review of it.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 09:24 AM

I know of no other Marxist analysis of 'Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer' and some friends didn't believe that such thing existed.

It's a dead funny and completed unexpected take on it. (He looks at three songs: White Christmas, Rudolf, and Walking in a Winter Wonderland). Who else would have thought to ask what the song says about relations of production at Santa's North Pole factory?

He uses the same sort of critical machinery in a later chapter (with less jokes) to work out why Dylan had such a wide appeal and why his career followed such a weird path. I don't think he gives a complete answer, but he gets nearer than anything else I've read.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 09:02 AM

"The Coppers whose recordings are being sold on Amazon are all dead, so don't be too hard on them for their choice of retailers."

Just to clarify the above statement from Joe, the two Copper Family albums listed on Amazon are on Topic and Fledgling, labels over which the family has no control. All of the 'purchase' links on the Coppers' own website, for these and albums on their own label, take you to the specialist independent retailer Veteran. There are, however, four books available through Amazon. It seems perverse in the extreme to suggest that a small retailer with an international readership for their product should refuse to deal with the world's largest online bookseller when radical publishers like Verso, Virago and Pluto happily do business with them. In fact it seems rather like an attempt to smear the Copper Family.

While on the subject of Amazon, I thought I'd share a reader's rather amusing review of Dave Harker's 'One For The Money' (yes, DH's stuff is on there too), which has been mentioned more than once on this thread:

"I know of no other Marxist analysis of 'Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer' and some friends didn't believe that such thing existed. It's still a seminal text if you're interested in well-researched Popular Music analysis, but three stars for being just a bit hilariously up one's own Trot arse."

Any takers at £0.53?


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

The Coppers whose recordings are being sold on Amazon are all dead, so don't be too hard on them for their choice of retailers.

I gave alternatives to Amazon. Nobody needs to buy from them.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 07:28 AM

Not sure it's a matter of being "allowed to" Jag - everybody did it to one extent o another
It's a problem for researchers but not necessarily for singers who wish to sing the songs
People like MacColl and Lloyd started as singers - Bert often seemed not to be able to make up which side of the line he wanted to be on
I know from talking to Ewan's contemporaries that he got many songs from his parents in fragmentary form and built them from other versions
I really think it to be more than a little begrudging to accuse many of the early collectors of "fakery" and dishonesty - they were song collectors gathering songs they thought worth singing, not social historians
Jim


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 05:57 AM

@Jim Carroll.

I read with interest your comment about ballads being re-made from plots and commonplaces and have in the back of my mind your earlier post about the some of stories going back to ancient Greece and Egypt.

Related things in the back of my mind are the reworking of ballad texts by the collectors Harker covers in Part 1 of his book, which I was reading at the time that the mudcat "the literary controversy over Ossian" thread was active.

In the same back of my mind is Steve Gardham's quote of Roy Palmer about Bert Lloyd's rewrites "Would you rather have that or not?"

I think that is all rather off-topic so have been saving my thoughts for later. However, when it comes to 'mediating' there seems to be little clarity as to who is 'allowed' to apply their creative skills to a source and when they are required to own up about it.

I guess the scholars and listeners may have different views on this.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 05:31 AM

I will add another question to Pseudonymous's list. I am not reading the material fast enough to answer it myself.

To what extent was Sharp's search for an English national music a 'nationalistic' one in the sense that that was part of drive in the political subordinate nations of the then UK and to what extent was it a case of appreciating and promoting what was on his doorstep?

Did he also appreciate the national art musics of mainland Europe and the traditional music Scotland and Ireland?

Harker has a theme of bourgoise cultural appropriation of the music of (part of) the prolitariat. It is not hard to find on the internet current examples people being accused of cultural appropration if they play/sing other peoples music and also accusationas of being jingoistic when they play/sing their own. Either way the accusations seem to come from people who, like Harker, have a strong political focus to their view of things.

Happily of course it's not usually like that.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 05:24 AM

"'communal' " origins was a common theory among early researchers - sadly it's become one o the babies thrown out with the bathwater
I believe this metho off composition was fairly common among Irish Travellers - we have recorded descriptions of it happening on several occasions - from Travellers and settled singers
The same with David Buchan's short lived suggestion that ballads had no set texts but were re-made from plots and commonplaces
Our practice of recording the song several times from a singer over a period of time gave us different versions regularly
Even the 'dance' function of ballads showed its face with Ben Henneberry's description of his Irish father singing 'False Knight on the Road' while 'stepping out' the refrain
The problems arise when you try to apply all these practices as an overall rule to all songs
There is a great deal still to be learned from the few still-surviving older generation of Irish singers on how the songs could have ben made thanks to the phenomenon of a large repertoire of 20th century made local songs, largely anonymous, created to describe events as they happened
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 04:37 AM

I looked up the Harker comment on Sharp being 'lightweight' referred to by Brian, I think. This refers to a comment by Henry J Ford, who said Sharp's thought was founded on the shallows not the deeps. Harker says that Sharp was seen as lightweight. However, Harker goes on to describe how badly Sharp did in his degree.

Harker describes Sharp as a mixture of radical and reactionary elements, which seems to me to be an accurate and fair evaluation. I found Harker's quotation to illustrate what he calls Sharp's political 'quietism' interesting (p175) and an apt illustration of the point.

Harker seems to dislike the way that Sharp mixed with the middle and upper classes and sought to make his way through connections, but on the other hand he had to get a living for himself somehow, and his health would have militated against him doing anything too strenuous.

The information about Sharp is there, but as has been said, the tone in which it is put across is not sympathetic or objective.

Sharp's major 'theoretical' work would be worth discussing, but probably in a thread of its own. It has XII chapters, Definition; Origin; Evolution; Conscious and Unconscious Music; The Modes, English Folk Scales; Rhythmical Forms and Melodic Figures; Folk Poetry; The Decline of the Folk Song; The Antiquity of the Folk Song; The Future of English Folk Song.

At the start of the book there is a chapter-by-chapter precis of sorts in note form, which gives you an idea of his arguments. So for a reader without time to look at in detail, this is a useful introduction.

The last chapter's summary notes include the following: Purcell, Erasmus, no National School of Music in England, origin of continental schools, educational value of folk song, supremacy of street song (he doesn't like it), prevalence of bad music in England, the Board of Education, aesthetic value of English folk song. This links in with what seems to have been Sharp's overall career aims: to use the tunes he had collected as the basis for an overhaul of English Music from top to bottom, to create a national music to compare with those of European countries.

In so far as Harker argues that Sharp did not like working class culture and wanted to replace it with something middle class, I think he is quite correct.

Some of the summary notes evoke a number ongoing discussions/research areas about folk: I picked out a few to give a flavour: 'modes no test of age'; 'old words no test of age of folk song, inability to assess age no drawback'; 'detrimental effect of broadsheets upon words of songs'; 'Percy's Reliques'; 'list of books containing genuine English folk songs'; 'the English racial scale'; 'racial characteristics'.

I think the work is conceptually muddled when it deals with origins and history, not least because from time to time between passages of supposition not too far from starry-eyed and highly nationalistic naivete Sharp's awareness of the 'we just don't know' facts of the matter peeps out. He emphasis the word 'communal' when speaking of origins/descent. He also emphasises 'unconscious'. There is I find a contradiction between his 'we don't know' and his belief that he can found a national art music out of the modes, scales, melodies he has discovered to rival those of Germany, Italy etc. What do others think?

But the parts dealing with modes and scales are interesting, and maybe this is where Sharp's influence is greatest?


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 05 Feb 20 - 03:15 AM

Sometimes when reading a Mudcat thread I find it hard to distinguish what someone is posting as new, what they are quoting from a previous post, and whom they are quoting. I mention this here because I have found some of the recent posts in this thread especially confusing. Please can we all make clear what we are quoting and from whom.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 07:43 PM

Sorry, a niggle has just worked its way through my brain: the Coppers the fine traditional singing family suggest that you buy their work via, yes I checked it, it does say Amazon, that ethically suspect tax avoidance machine that tracks you in detail George Orwell could not even dream of! I do admit to using ABE books, which I think are probably owned by Amazon, but only for 2nd hand. Can't we at least support real bookshops, ideally those few still in local ownership?

@ Steve: yes, Marson is mentioned in Harker. Didn't he do a lot of the words for Sharp?

Regarding the discussion of Sharp's views on national music types (including Celtic, Saxon, etc) and his views on the unschooled faculties of 'the peasantry' made me ponder something very odd I came across a while ago. The topic was the ability of travellers, including non-literate travellers, to distinguish genres, the example being country and western from old ballad, and to provide examples of very old songs. The lecturer felt that a discovery had been made, and this I think might be because of the influence of Sharpean ideas:

“We found what seemed to be an innate feeling, an understanding, about the songs which has no bearing on intellectual ability or learning.”

The words that seem to relate most to Sharp are 'innate', 'no bearing on intellectual ability or learning'. Indeed, if something is innate then you don't have to learn it, whatever your level of intellectual ability. I always found this idea somewhat disturbing, and perhaps this study of Sharp helps me to pinpoint a possible theoretical source. Not least because I cannot imagine how you could actually demonstrate such a "finding" in empirical/evidential terms. It looks to me like a theory in search of an evidential base, not a finding based on any clear evidence. An ability to distinguish country and western from other genres or to pick out an old song from ones' repertoire certainly do not, as far as I can see, prove or even suggest that the knowledge used in this task in innate or unlearned.
    The Coppers whose recordings are being sold on Amazon are all dead, so don't be too hard on them for their choice of retailers. You're trying really hard to provoke a fight. Cut it out.
    Joe Offer


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 05:44 PM

To get a good feel for Sharp's leanings you would do well to read biographies of his acquaintances such as Charles Marson. Sharp and Marson were close pals for a long time and even co-operated on folksong projects. I think they were even in Australia together and Marson was a cleric in the East End of London when Sharp lived in London. I think he helped Sharp with his Somerset ventures also. I think there is a Mary Neal biography as well, or at least there are articles.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 05:30 PM

I am interested in the idea that Harker describes Sharp as being hard right. From memory he quotes Sharp describing himself as a 'conservative socialist'. He says Sharp only joined the Labour party after being nagged into this. He had resigned from the Fabians because they supported the Labour Party. What Harker actually says is that Sharp drifted ideologically and that this was towards a position that we would now call hard right. He complained about the American Musicians Union. He was hostile to the Russian Revolution. There are disputes about his attitude to Suffragism, but he disliked the Oxbridge Women's Colleges because he didn't like the sort of women he produced. Harsh comments, perhaps, but not quite a black and white assertion that Sharp was hard right.

But I do agree with Brian that the language Harker uses about Sharp is sometimes not likeable.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 05:16 PM

"Her biography of Sharp, while by no means nor a full critical assessment (Harker dismissed it as 'hagiography')"

Just to be fully accurate here, Harker draws on Fox-Strangeways (1933) for his biographical information on Sharp. This is available on He says (page 268) that the revised editions of this that Karpeles produced in 1955 and 1967 would 'form the basis for an interesting study of the practices of hagiographers'. He adds also a note to beware to further books by Karpeles.

In the foreword to one of these re-writes Karpeles is open that the original was by Fox-Strangeways but says that as he has not seen the alterations (he had died by then) she took the decision to put herself down as the sole author despite having re-written parts of it.

I suppose Harker at some point has compared the original with Karpeles edited versions and this is why he thought it hagiographical.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 04:02 PM

VWML seems to be back with anew colour scheme.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 02:56 PM

Indeed, Steve, and not forgetting that she was responsible for getting the greatly expanded 1932 edition of the Appalachian collection published. Her attitude towards race doesn't stand scrutiny, mind!


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 02:29 PM

Brian/Jim
Amen to all that.
I'd like to also add her 2 volume set of Sharp's English songs, indispensable. I use it almost daily. It's a lot easier to read than Sharp's handwriting and the tunes and words are together. Some background on the songs and/or singers would have been great, but I know I'm being greedy.
I also regularly use FS from Newfoundland. I had the 2 volume paper set before I got the hardback which has a lot more info.

Also her postwar contributions to the Journal were always welcome at a time when dance was dominating the EFDSS.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 01:33 PM

Jim, I think Maud's Newfoundland work is now getting the recognition it deserves. Her biography of Sharp, while by no means nor a full critical assessment (Harker dismissed it as 'hagiography'), has got some valuable information in it, and her contribution to the Appalachian expeditions should never be underestimated. She's often described merely as Sharp's amanuensis, but she was so much more than that - an invaluable colleague at every stage of the adventure. I've described her before as Sharp's 'one-woman life-support system', and there's no doubt in my mind that he'd never have made it physically or mentally without her.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 01:28 PM

Nice post, Vic. I like the parallel between Sharp's and Bob Copper's experience.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 01:26 PM

Jack, you're right, there are problems with the VWML site at the moment, and it is the only way I know to access the photos. I was going to mention these, as another example of Sharp's contribution to understanding the lives of the people he met, but Vic has beaten me to it. They are a wonderful resource. Last time I looked, the Appalachian photos were not separated from the English ones, so you have to judge by the bonnets and beards, or know the names you're looking for. When they reappear I'll try to give a few pointers. Sadly there isn't one of Aunt Maria.


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 01:16 PM

Can I just put in a word for Maud Karpeles here who was often a figure of fun - I met eher several times and crrtainly found her somewhat eccentric
I was always highly impressed by the recordings she made on her later visits to the US, but lately I have been finding her work in Newfoundland extremely rewarding, particularly in regard to the Irish Child Ballads she uncovered there
The articles she wrote on that work are very well woth searching out
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Feb 20 - 12:56 PM

Is there a good archive of Sharp's Appalachian photos somewhere? The EFDSS site doesn't work, and all I can find is odd ones used as tasters for American gallery exhibitions.


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