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Review: Walter Pardon - Research

Related thread:
Walter Pardon - which song first? (45)


Vic Smith 05 Jan 20 - 03:23 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Jan 20 - 03:26 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 05 Jan 20 - 03:39 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Jan 20 - 03:50 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 05 Jan 20 - 05:15 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 05 Jan 20 - 06:16 PM
Steve Shaw 05 Jan 20 - 07:02 PM
Joe Offer 05 Jan 20 - 08:27 PM
Steve Shaw 05 Jan 20 - 08:39 PM
Joe Offer 05 Jan 20 - 09:03 PM
Steve Shaw 05 Jan 20 - 09:33 PM
The Sandman 06 Jan 20 - 12:12 AM
The Sandman 06 Jan 20 - 12:20 AM
Joe Offer 06 Jan 20 - 12:50 AM
Dave the Gnome 06 Jan 20 - 02:33 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Jan 20 - 04:01 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 06 Jan 20 - 04:16 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 06 Jan 20 - 04:44 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 06 Jan 20 - 04:46 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 06 Jan 20 - 04:50 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 06 Jan 20 - 05:04 AM
Dave the Gnome 06 Jan 20 - 05:18 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 06 Jan 20 - 05:38 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 06 Jan 20 - 05:40 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Jan 20 - 05:44 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Jan 20 - 05:45 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Jan 20 - 05:51 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Jan 20 - 06:19 AM
Vic Smith 06 Jan 20 - 06:32 AM
Dave the Gnome 06 Jan 20 - 06:49 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 06 Jan 20 - 07:06 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 06 Jan 20 - 07:16 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Jan 20 - 07:29 AM
Dave the Gnome 06 Jan 20 - 07:34 AM
Steve Shaw 06 Jan 20 - 07:47 AM
Dave the Gnome 06 Jan 20 - 08:52 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 06 Jan 20 - 09:26 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 06 Jan 20 - 09:40 AM
Steve Gardham 06 Jan 20 - 09:55 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 06 Jan 20 - 09:58 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Jan 20 - 12:44 PM
Dave the Gnome 06 Jan 20 - 01:03 PM
Brian Peters 06 Jan 20 - 01:07 PM
Brian Peters 06 Jan 20 - 01:14 PM
Dave the Gnome 06 Jan 20 - 01:29 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Jan 20 - 01:41 PM
Steve Shaw 06 Jan 20 - 01:51 PM
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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Vic Smith
Date: 05 Jan 20 - 03:23 PM

The transcribed interviews with Walter Pardon that appeared in Vol. 1 No. 3 August 1977 in Folk News. The article is accompanied by two large photos of the man, another of Uncle Billy Gee. A fourth photo is captioned "Bert Lloyd and Walter at Loughborough". None of the photographers are credited: -

Two-and-a-half years separate the interviews from which this article has been edited. The first, on December 7, 1974, took place before Walter Pardon's first Leader album, "A Proper Sort", was issued, and is actually transcribed from Bill Leader's recording of an interview conducted by Karl Dallas for the Melody Maker series "Folk Giants" at the time that album was being recorded in Walter's home. The second was recorded in Putney, London, earlier this year in the home of Pat McKenzie, of the Singer's Club, the Sunday morning after Walter had appeared at the club. In the intervening period Walter's album had brought him international acclaim, a trip to Washington DC to participate in the US Bicentennial celebrations, and appearances at several clubs and folk festivals, though he still turns down more invitations to sing than he accepts. In contrast with some other traditional singers whose style has suffered after they have been taken up by the folk revival, a comparison between the' way he sings today and the early "demo" tapes which Walter recorded for Roger Dixon, who passed them on to his old pupil Peter Bellamy, shows that the impact of the folk scene upon Walter Pardon has been beneficial. Today, he sings with more confidence and authority, presumably derived from the knowledge that the present generation has more respect for the songs than his own. He no longer works as a carpenter, but refuses to consider himself a professional singer.
AT FOURTEEN I was apprenticed to a carpenter in the next village, Paston, that's what I done all my life except four year in the army. I went in in November 1942 and came out in October 1946.
There's not much to see at Towey's Barn. You ought to look in the church roof here, that's better than looking in the barn. It's got a double hammer beam. There's about 140 angels in the roof, nearly every trade on, I think: angels with hammer and nippers in their hand, boat, some playing the lute and these old-fashioned string instruments. Some have got their faces blackened, they said what Cromwell's soldiers done. It looked as if tar had been put on. It was too high up for them to damage much. They say there was a shipwreck and they took the timber and put it on the church but 1 don't hardly believe that.
I should have liked to have been about here, though, when that choir was going on, the clarinets and things in. 1 believe that died out in the early 1850s, I don't know.
Three year ago. March (1971) when 1 went to the Queen's Head at Norwich, that was the first time (he sang in public). Then the second time I went to the University, the (Norwich) Folk Festival, 1974. That's second. The third time going anywhere I went to Snape, you know where Bob Hart and Percy (Webb) sing. I didn't know him until I met him there. And Percy, never seen nor even heard of him.
I can remember about 1944. I was stationed in Surrey, we hired a radio set from Aldershot. Poor old Harry was on that, Harry Cox. He was born only 12 miles away. 1 never did see him nor Sam Larner. The only old singers I've seen is Percy Webb and Bob. Percy's dead now.
Harry was singing a song what I knew then and knew well though I never laid claim to it. He was singing "The Banks of Sweet Dundee" and that was scorned and ridiculed.
Walter got most of his songs from his uncle, Billy Gee.
He used to go to a pub in North Walsham, the Mitre Tavern, which is out of existence, though the arch is still there, to connect up the bicycle shop with the ironmonger's shop, that's still known as the Mitre Tavern arch. I think that the Mitre Tavern stood somewhere where the ironmonger's shop is. They had a singing room in there, like we have folk clubs now, isn't it? I never did know whether he learned from anyone in there or whether he got them from a grandfather. I never did ask.
He was a good singer, better than I, a lot. Oh yes. a lot better than I am. He'd got a stronger voice, pitch the songs up a lot higher too. He was the best singer there was in the family by a long way. He did sing in pubs, though I never did. I've never seen this but he said they'd sing songs and go round with a hat. collecting in it. I never did hear him sing only once in a pub meself. I never did go in the pub much with him. I don't know. I never did like pubs much, unless it's a folk club. I never did like pub bars. I never did go in much or drank much beer. I never was keen on that sort of thing. I never did sing in a pub anyhow, not in a bar, not if they asked me to, not now. I like a room when it's peace and quiet, that's what I like.
I never did sing out of the house hardly, we used to sing in here at Christmas time, that was all. Old beams used to go across the room. We called them baulks. It went right through the chimney and got covered in soot and one year it caught on fire. One Saturday night. 1 remember, they poured water down. I had it left in when they modernised the house but the bricklayer came and took it out.
So you'd have people sitting your side of the room and mine. Someone sang your side of the room, that's what they used to shout: "Ourside of the baulk", or beam. They were always called baulks. We had to appreciate the song sung that side of the room for someone to sing this (side) so, cast over. They used to shout it, it was took as a compliment. I don't know that they done it anywhere else, it used to be done in here. That was always shouted Christmas time.
I never did sing a lot of the old folk songs, not then, not with the older ones alive. That was their perk. They always sung their own songs. you see. Uncle Bob Gee would sing "Jones's Ale", that was his song, Tom Gee always sung "The Bonny Bunch of Roses", no one else would sing that or dare. They had special songs they sung. The brothers would never sing what another brother sung nor did they like anyone else to. So I had to sing what no one else wanted to.
"The Dark-Eyed Sailor", 1 was allowed to sing that, no one else wanted to and I always liked the song so that went all right with me. "When the Fields are White with Daisies", that sort of thing, "The Old Rustic Bridge by the Mill", "In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree", they were more modern songs what they never bothered much about.
Well, Billy, there's a lot what he taught me that he never did sing much. There were so many repeats. "Generals All", or "Marlborough", "Rambling Blade", "Young Sailor", "Old Brown's Daughter", that was nearly always sung. Part of "The Bush of Australia" was considered obscene so that was cut out, a lot of that, never did sing all of that through, but that was then. Tom's song, he used to sing "The Cobbler" mostly, another bawdy old song, "Cock-a-Doodle-do". Another one was "I Wish They'd Do It Now" that was another one. "The Dandy Man", that's another one, "Jolly Waggoners". Tom would sing ('The Bush of Australia") through but Billy never would, so there was only a fragment going. He'd tell me the words and I used to write them down because he'd tell me it won't be whole sung through in company. He told me that used to be stopped in public houses, some of the landlords would ban that, that was a banned song. Balderdash, they called that. 1 don't suppose they'd take much notice now.
He never sung them all (through). He must've known them, he could sing them all (but) I've heard him sing fragments. It was no trouble to learn a tune 'cos the mother, the two lads, they knew the tunes as well as he did. So sometimes I'd nearly got the tune off before I knew the words, he'd supply the words. It was from him and the grandfather that the tunes were got. I never did hear him sing, not a great many, not through, not as many as he let me have anyhow.
You never did hear him sing "Van Diemen's Land" right through but it was only through him 1 knew it, though. My Aunt Alice would sing a good bit, mother's sister. She's the last one left alive. I lived with her when I had my house altered and modernised a bit. She used to tell me a lot about the songs, the tunes too. She used to enthuse about how well her grandfather used to sing "Van Diemen's Land", so did mother and the other sister. They all enthused on how well he sung that, so that was the reason why 1 liked singing it.
Old Spot, he'd say: "You can always get the tunes." My Uncle Walter, he used to play an accordeon, he could play them on his accordeon too, you see. I could learn them then, quick enough. They all knew what they were, they had heard them so much, you see, especially the father of him because he used to do a lot, any time, Christmas, night time, anywhere around he'd sing songs. He sung to the children.
Singers in folk clubs compared with his family singers:
Some are about the same, some sing well, they come in the Orchard Garden, some very good singers. I always think they've got the advantage, most of them, of accompaniment, don't you? I always think that's better to listen to. Well I think so, don't you? I think the old folk songs were meant to be unaccompanied. So the experts write about and say they are, so I don't know. 1 never expected anything of the sort (his discovery) to happen. Originally, I was giving them to my cousin's son to take to Peter's (Bellamy) history teacher. Roger Dixon. He's been taught, he's a musician, he can read music and sing, play a piano and all that sort of thing. I thought they'd just do for him to sing at Fakenham at the different concerts where he's in or whatever he do. I never expected they'd ask me to go in or make a record or do anything. That's as far as 1 thought they'd go.
Fact, 1 don't suppose I'd have recorded them, he was the one really, kept asking me for years to put them on record. He said when I was no more they'd be gone. And as he's more or less slightly related, I suppose he thought that's a pity to let the songs die and no one know anything about (them).
He found out about them when there was just Father and Mother left alive, he used to come and have his tea when he was at North Walsham Grammar School. He'd come every Friday. He'd more or less got to hear the songs through me playing them all the time on the accordeon.
Then he kept on at me. That'd be about 12 years ago when he got married. He said: "Has Walter got a tape recorder?" He wanted to bring (one) for me to sing the songs on. I refused for years to do it until I bought one myself about five years ago.
Then when I first tried it out. that sounded so horrible I wiped them all out. When I played that back that did sound dreadful, the first time I'd heard it. Yeah, it did, that's dreadful. I thought so. anyhow. I used to try anything on just to see how it did sound. When I thought it sounded passably good for him I filled the tape up. That was how Peter found out about it.
I'd seen Peter about once on the television, that was all, but I never knew if he was educated at Fakenham or anything about him you see. So I never expected them to go about like they've done, anyhow .Nor and I never expected anyone to have taken any interest in them.
I got one, I'd heard that and I can't remember where the man came from or anything that was "Mowing the Barley". He was a West Countryman, I think that was all that was known.
"The Dark Archer", the song I sang there last night up at the Singers' Club, no one there around that area knew it. That was sung around there by an old blind fiddler used to come round, Blind Harry. About 80 or 90 years ago, he'd play this violin that was more or less his song. Pat and Jim (McKenzie) came to see me and I spoke about this song. Pat got the words from Mike Yates, that was a little different version so I had to more or less shorten some of the words, alter it a bit to fit 'the tune that Blind Harry sung it to. So 'that is more or less a twisted version, two songs in one.
The most recent one I got, "Grace Darling", mother sung it. 1 never was sure of the words, I didn't, not quite enough to get it on as I want. I found a book she'd wrote it out in, so that was how I thought, "It's mother's song and I'll sing it". That was how I got that one. I don't know how old that is but I know that happened in 1838, the "Forfarshire" wrecked off the Northumbrian coast and also this girl rowed out with a rowing boat and died when she was 23. That is the most recent one that I've discovered, I think.
The better things I'd like to see, I think, my grandmother burned and that was the broadsheets and I think she did. She'd got no ear for music and I don't think she used to appreciate it, because, apart from when grandfather got a start, that was non-stop, so they told me.
It finished all Christmas parties when Mother died. The last one was 1952. My Mother died in the February, 1953, there never was any more. You see, that just left Father and I in here. Ever since, I've gone up to an aunt who lived up the road they never had any singing up there never sung up there or took the accordeon out of the house.
I still play that, have done for years here alone on a Saturday night, never missed. I sometimes sit on the stairs a play, so people can't hear me. I never bring it out. I've never considered myself good enough to bring it out.
My Uncle Walter always had one. My Aunt Alice bought me one for about sixpence with four keys which would just play a tune, a chromatic (melodeon), you see,, it would play eight notes. I learned play on that and I had one ever since; different ones, some with ten keys, some double-rowed. 1 did manage to get a few songs on a piano accordion that I bought about 40 years ago. The push-in note a the pull-out note is just the same, you've got 21 keys on a piano accordion, it's just 21 notes. On a chromatic, 21 keys you've got 42 notes, so they don't work the same.
Walter was largely self-taught.
Yes, well, I don't know if anyone can teach you, can they, to play? I suppose (Uncle Billy Gee) might have had a hand in it. I don't know. Our styles were different. I can play fairly well. I suppose but in no comparison to what I've hear Tony Hall, Chris Morley and all them or anybody else. So that's why 1 don't bring it out. I don't even compare it to what Oscar Woods can do or Percy Brown, not as good as that, so you know why I just play it for my own amusement.
I can't sing so well with accompaniment as I can alone. That has been tried because Cliffs (Godbold) youngest boy David is a good violinist, he can play "Old Brown's Daughter", that has be tried. I can never sing it so well in accompaniment. I sing it in the key of C, he can set it and he can play it. When he's playing it I'm listening to him instead of concentrating on what I'm doing myself. It never sounded too good. I might do it if I had a lot of practice but I've never been used to being accompanied. I know some sing the better with it, most of them do but that is something what I've never been used to so I can't do it so well.
I never knew the folk clubs existed, only vaguely. 1 had an idea they ran something like a ... I thought about a select band of people might get drawn round and sing these songs over like they sung in Victorian times. I never knew there was big folk clubs. I'd never seen the Melody Maker or knew anything about it or looked at it. At least, I never knew they held a festival at Norwich until I went. It was never publicised. You never saw it in the local paper, not the daily anyhow. So what 1 knew about folk clubs and that sort of thing was nil nearly. Peter, you see, he was the one. I think that'd be better if they did advertise folk festivals more, in the paper, the local one, don't you?
My generation ridiculed songs. There was no young men (singing them) 40 years ago. When I was 20 you went to a man of 60 to hear the songs. That.. . is . .. a ... fact! You can see that in this book what Bill (Leader) brought me. They got out of the way to sing songs. Bob (Copper) and his cousin Ron. That's correct and that is the same here. That is the reason they lay dormant. They'd have laid so for ever more if it weren't for Roger or the folk revival. That's correct enough, yeah, yes.


The previous article from Folk Review that I text-scanned was on fine gloss paper and this made it an easy task. This one from Folk News was on decades-old decaying newsprint which made it a more difficult task. I have tried to correct this but as I have said, this comes at a very busy time for me and I cannot give it that much time. I apologise for any text mis-readings that I have missed


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jan 20 - 03:26 PM

Hi Brian,
Ah yes, agreed.

Yes, Dave's obsessive agenda certainly spoiled what could have been a brilliant book using the same title.

Ewan's interviewing must have been outstanding to come up with the material he had for the Radio Ballads. However, I often regret not having had any training. I do think that I could have missed lots of valuable information as I was largely interested in the songs themselves and had little time to delve into the lives of the singers.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 05 Jan 20 - 03:39 PM

@ Vic Smith. This is very kind of you and I am sure everybody appreciates it.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jan 20 - 03:50 PM

Brilliant, Vic! Both articles pure gold! Many thanks.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 05 Jan 20 - 05:15 PM

Regarding the song The Banks of Sweet Dundee, mentioned by Pardon in the magazine article above,


Hillery selects ‘The Banks of Sweet Dundee’ for the Pardon song in the amatory song category (recorded by Mike Yates in 1978). The same song is used for Jack Beeforth (recorded by Hillery himself).   Beeforth sings it in a mixolydian mode, Pardon in the major or ionian mode. He describes Pardon’s voice as having a ‘thin and reedy’ quality, with evident ‘back dentality’ - probably linked to the local accent - and a great degree of nasality. Pardon’s delivery, he notes, has many phonological features of dialect, but not lexical or grammatical features. In this latter respect Pardon’s work differs from that of some of the other work discussed in the piece. He comments on the places where Pardon takes a breath, at suitable pauses. He notes that the pitch of the song changes slightly during the delivery, being about a semitone higher by the end of the song. He notes that the song is sung almost without ornamentation except for a ‘dying fall almost as parlando’ at the end of each verse after the first. He praises the delivery as simple, lucid, clear, without pathos or sentimentality.

Hillier has some interesting comments on first-revival folklorists' attitudes to this song, including that of Kidson. He says it is a song which was either written for or embraced by the broadsheet trade, and that to (some?) modern ears it epitomises Victorian sentimentality (or some such phrase) though be balances this by a quotation from Mike Yates' sleeve notes.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 05 Jan 20 - 06:16 PM

Regarding the exhortation not to forget that I said my granddad was a better singer.

OK

Introduction.

I read recently an account by Peggy Seeger of why she and MacColl did not use the techniques of trad singers in the UK as the basis for their singing tuition. She said it was because they were basically mostly elderly and not particularly good. I also note on the other Pardon Mudcat thread a poster called Nick who comments, without bile or 'toxicity' his honest response that Pardon sounds like an old chap and he cannot quite see what all the fuss is about.

Both of these leave me justified in being at leasts somewhat underwhelmed by the singing I encountered when, and there is nothing to be ashamed of in this, I was introduced to this singer by frequent references to him on Mudcat.

Comparing him with my granddad, 'Tom', both had working class origins but in Tom's case the village he grew up in had cows etc above ground and coal mines under it. He was the son and grandson of coal miners; his grandfather died in a pit accident. Tom fought in WWI so was from an older generation. Both Pardon and Tom were born after the introduction of compulsory state education (so neither can be seen as in some line of pure oracy). Both were involved with the Methodist movement in their youth, a movement which made a great deal out singing. Both appear to have been 'taught' singing at school. In Tom's case he was taught the tonic sol-fa which he could read. He sang a lot in public until his bladder would not cope with long intervals away from the porcelain! But I never remember his voice having that 'old' quality that you get with Pardons. Moreover, he could sing a chromatic octave perfectly by ear and I do not think that if he started with C as doh he ended up with C# as doh.

By the way, Hillery comments how carefully Pardon breaths at the ends of lines and at suitable pauses in his songs, and I too noticed this and thought somebody has taught him when singing to take a breath at the pauses. I think one of the online interviews with Pardon he mentions doing folk singing at school so this theory holds up.

So one of the research questions I might have had in respect of Pardon might have been what singing he did do at school, and how this was done. The focus on the 'old songs' they sung at home, the ones he learned orally may have led to information that might have affected his delivery later in life being missed. Indeed, nobody seems to have realised that he went to a Methodist Sunday School, despite Methodism and political radicalism being linked in that part of the world, with a quite well-known leader being active in the very village of Knapton.

As for being embarrassingly bad, I repeat what I have said before about the song Pardon called 'The Bush of Australia'. The recording in which Pardon and a number of rather posh sounding men sit smirking about 'Cock a Doodle Doo, and the song itself are all rather embarrassing, and, as I have said, Lloyd's comments that the Australians did not like it and that the hints that the woman was black were expunged from later versions because it was about 'miscegenation' all seem to me to betray 'racist' attitudes/assumptions. But having listened to the recording this was more or less the first song I listened to on Spotify.

I am sure Pardon had all the good qualities ascribed to him: intelligence, sense of humour etc (as indeed did my Granddad) but I find the 'reverence' (Steve Gardam and I have discussed this term on this thread I think) with which he is mentioned somewhat OTT and I think that if the folk world really wants to draw in younger people it may have to think this OTT stuff through a bit, as well as some of the ideological stuff that shines through so much 2nd revival literature.

I don't intend to insult or upset anybody, I am just being honest. The world has changed since the early days of the 2nd revival and maybe, just maybe, 'folk' needs to deal with that if it really isn't to become history (along with the planet, perhaps).

My goodness, I do seem to be going off on one. No offence intended, just a frank, and I hope, not insulting or 'toxic'.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Jan 20 - 07:02 PM

Bejaysus, how to kill a thread with verbiage...


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jan 20 - 08:27 PM

Good point. I have to say I don't listen to source singers for pleasure. I listen to learn songs, and then I sing them in the more musical style in which I was trained. I daresay I'm not a "better" singer than Walter Pardon, but I'm certainly more of a trained musician than he was.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Jan 20 - 08:39 PM

Well that's good. Now I'm not a mainstream folkie by any measure at all. I've played in pub bands and strutted my stuff at weddings and so on, happy to get free beer in return for playing Irish traditional tunes. I can knock out a decent tune for you any day if you force me to. But the last thing I need to be is a trained musician. The joy of playing traditional music to me was that I was playing with untrained musicians. Hairy arses. We had a highly-trained musician in our band once. Talk about carrying a passenger...


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon; Research
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jan 20 - 09:03 PM

I had music every semester from Kindergarten to the last day of college. I learned to read music, learned about dynamics, learned about staying on key. I'm sure Walter Pardon wasn't taught all those things. Pardon came from a time when everybody made music, whether they were trained or not. I'd venture to say that even Little Stevie Shaw had more music training than Walter Pardon, so perhaps Steve is not as pure and primitive as he presents himself to be.
But it's interesting to explore the difference. I've heard people deplore the "folk revival" because it commercialized music and imposed the rules of music on something that had been pure and simple. It made music the property of the middle class and took it away from the working people. Maybe so.
I can't make music like Walter Pardon did, but I can make music and I love to do it. Is one better than the other? I don't know.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 05 Jan 20 - 09:33 PM

You can "venture to say" what you like, but what I do is one hundred percent untutored. I know all about rhythm, tempo and staying in tune because I've painstakingly taught myself those things. And only idiots call me "Stevie." I'll let you off this once but if you ever call me that again I'll call you Holy Joe for ever more. I have no idea how trained Walter or any other traditional musician is or was. What I do know is that traditional music is caught, not taught, and, as I implied, a highly-trained musician who then comes into traditional music had better shed an awful lot very quickly. That isn't to say that you can't achieve a deeper understanding of classical music via your scholarship. Of course you can. But even that can't be imposed on you via "training" unless you want to be a concert pianist or an orchestral player. You do it for yourself. As John Seymour said, there's many a miner who sings in a Welsh male voice choir who has a deeper understanding of Beethoven than many a professor of music.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 12:12 AM

i think it must have been interesting for Walter Pardon to have met Jim and Pat, an it reflects well on them that they built up a good relationship and genuine friendship with Walter that their interest went beyond the songs A very different attitude to Peter KENNEDY Who regarded the songs he collected as his and sometimes showed little interest in the singer as a person.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 12:20 AM

I listen to some source singers for pleasure, PhilTanner I FIND VERY PLEASURABLE, all depends on the singer and how good they were what a genarilised comment from joe.
rather like saying, i do not listen to bird song for pleasure


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 12:50 AM

I see nothing wrong with my generalization, Dick. It's what I like, and a description of what I like about it. I've listened to lots of source recordings and learned a lot from them. I appreciate them, but I don't listen to them for pleasure. Your results may vary, and that's just fine. Sorry, but I'm just not a big fan of absolutes when it comes to music. People like what they like.

Here's an example of Phil Tanner:Tanner fits my generalization very well, as does Walter Pardon. These source singers are very interesting, but I still don't listen to them for pleasure. I'd far rather listen to the Watersons, the Copper Family, Coope-Boyes-Simpson, Cockersdale, The Witches of Elswick, and Grace Notes.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 02:33 AM

This is going back to the comments I made 03 Jan 20 - 03:15 AM. I'm glad I'm not the only one that finds some of the source singers work hard going. As we age, we definitely get more selective in what we do with our increasingly limited time. I would rather listen to something I can really enjoy without having to spend time learning how to appreciate it. This does not just apply to source singers, BTW. I am sure that I would appreciate Jazz and Opera a lot more if I put time and effort into understanding it. But I would rather spend my time doing something else.

Not liking a particular traditional song or a specific source performer does not mean you do not like folk music. Far from it. It just means that your tastes are different to some others who support the same genre and long may that diversity last.

Sorry to wander from the thread topic but I think it is important to understand that someone else's tastes are not a reflection on your own predilections.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 04:01 AM

Ewan and Peggy never at any time suggested using source singers as a guide to singing technique (not English ones anyway) - they were nearly all past their prime and all but a very few were singing from generations-dead traditions - remembering songs which had been remembered for them by their forbears
The best of them brought something to the songs that younger singers could never attain in a thousand years - a natural ability to re-live and understand the essence of the songs they sang - they "wore their songs as someone would put on their favourite old jacket" as someone once put it
Phil Tanner was typical of this - go listen to MacColl's loving description of 'Banks of Sweet Primroses' on 'The Song Carriers, where "this old,old man manages to sound like a young lad going out on a summer's morning looking for love for the first time" (paraphrase)
Sam Larner was the same - every time he sang it sounded like the first time
Walter's quiet but extremely deep understanding of his songs were transmitted with an ease and conference of a veteran, even though he'd only been singing them public for a decade or so.
His understanding of his songs was summed up perfectly by the statement he made after having just sung his long version of Van Dieman's Land - "That's a long old song, but it was a long old journey" - a perfect example of an artist's relationship with the piece of art he had just re-created.

That's the type of thing artists spend a lifetime trying to achieve - people like us, coming to these songs as outsiders, need all the help we can get if we are going to manage it
We need Walter's fond respect for his songs, or Sam Larner's bubbling enthusiasm, or Harry's seething anger when he sang about past injustices - or Phil Tanner's ability to relive his youth through his songs
Peggy Seeger once said Sam Larner had more 'life and vigour in him' than any younger man she'd ever met - that's what he put into his songs - effortlessly
It's all there in the recordings if you care to listen, and, if you can get hold of the few examples of what they had to say about their sings, that's an added bonus

Once you get into the area where the traditions haven't been dead for very long there's much more to be got in the way of technique and function - get hold of Joe Heaney's marathon interview recorded by Ewan and Peggy - a great master talking about how he acquired and how he approached his art.

Our (my) revival was founded on those old singers - sure, they were hard work to begin with, but well worth the effort
They gave us over four decades of pleasure of re-living and sharing these songs
When what they communicated went from the scene, then so did the reason for singing the songs - that's why the present scene now appears to have no future - the love and energy has gone from it

When a handful of dedicated individuals decided to try and turn around the fortunes of Irish music they didn't look for new superstars to do the job, but they enlisted the forces of the few old people who had lived the tradition - Junior Crehan, Joe Ryan, Bobby Casey, Tom Lenihan, Martin Reidy, Eddie Butcher, Mary Ann Carolan, Joe Holmes, The Keanes.... luckily, there were enough of them around to help guarantee a future
Largely, in England, we're stuck with only the recordings - for crying out loud, don't waste what we have - there's a goldmine yet to be tapped

If you don't like or understand these singers, then you don't like or understand our song traditions and you're better off coming to terms with it and going elsewhere for your fix
I honestly believe there are enough people around, including those who have left the scene in despair, to take up these songs and get the same enjoyment we did from them   
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 04:16 AM

I will say that at some points especially when singing lower notes without any appearance of straining, there is a sort of chocolatey quality to the tone of Pardon's voice which is likeable. Personally, and again this is personal, and honest, I do not like his idiosyncracy of swooping down at the ends of lines, something I read somewhere was his own touch, he did not claim this to be 'traditional' or the way Billy sang. I noted that Hillery in one case finds this over used in a song (All Jolly Fellows) and says it isn't particularly successful

Nor do I always much like the feature Hillery describes sliding or leaning down into notes, a feature which sometimes sounds like a 'yelp' (I think I may have heard it described as such) and which rightly or wrongly makes me think of Arthur Askey (a favourite of an old aunt of mine, again from a mining background) and variety/music hall singers. Again, Hillery refers to All Jolly Fellows, though there are also examples in Banks of Dundee.

To be honest, it almost made me feel better to read that Hillery shared some of my own reservations about Pardon's style, it always makes you feel better to know you are not alone.

Of course I respect the aesthetic responses of those who experience Pardon's singing differently. To go to another genre, I love the work of Ella Fitzgerald, especially her scat singing, but a pal of mine cannot stand it. 'Fair doos', as they say where I was brought up.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 04:44 AM

@ Sandman: You mention that Pardon will have enjoyed knowing Mackenzie and Carroll. Obviously, as he let Mackenzie arrange bookings, stayed at them when in London and so on. It seems from the evidence we have that Pardon did take an interest in the ideology of the revival. For example, he refers to a book given to him by Bill Leader. Now I would love to know what book it was and what ideas Pardon took from it.

Because, according to Hillery, and this is backed up by what I read about MacColl and Lloyd, in the 2nd revival they had an emphasis which was lacking in the first on trying to see traditional singing in its context. The problem with this approach viz a viz Pardon, was that his own direct experiences of context seem limited. His main personal experience was of family gatherings, much of what else he says is as it were 'hearsay'. That context had gone, as we all know and for years he was more or less just in contact with music via his radio, his record player (assuming it kept working) and his melodeon. So that line of research (as for example MacColl and his Travellers (though that was critiqued on the MacColl thread) is not really available.

What interests me just now is how Pardon's ideas about music as well as his delivery of it was linked with the context in which he performed it, namely the various venues and situations which arose as a result of his being taken up and 'lionised' by the 2nd revival. As a research question this would be difficult to 'operationalise' even if you could go back in time with a tape recorder (or mobile phone with cameras), and it any interview techniques and questions would require very careful thinking about. The lack of dating on some information about Pardon therefore frustrates me.

I know there are all sorts of issues about getting at 'the truth' or 'reality' when it comes to those complex things called people, but leaving those aside there seem to me to be at least two problems with getting at Pardon: on the one hand there seem to be multiple problems with research strategies especially interviews, and then there are issues around selectivity and bias and so on in the presentation of the material, which is often done in a (very interesting and at times well written) journalistic style suitable for magazines and also often driven consciously or unconsciously by the plain ideological agendas of those producing the material. Hillery mentions MacColl and Lloyd in connection with the 2nd revival, both of whom had clear political agendas in relation to folk music. One of those who has produced literature (using the term in a broad sense) about Pardon is something close to a disciple of MacColl, for example.

I'll give a little example of a statement about Pardon's context that, in my interpretation, can reasonably be interpreted as demonstrating ideological bias. It is a statement to the effect that since the roads in Knapton were not 'made up' when Pardon was young there were very few outside influences. This came in a piece which also suggested (perhaps from, a London Centric viewpoint) that Norfolk itself was relatively isolated! The underlying ideological thinking in the statement about Knapton would be that rural folk could exist there unpolluted by the commercial world etc etc, that 'the tradition' could flourish. I came across this after reading a history of Knapton, which may be why the assertion struck me as misleading with such force.

It would be reasonable to assert on the contrary that Knapton was reasonably well connected with the wider world. It had its own school from the first half of the 19th century. It had a railway station (shared with another village) from the 2nd half of the 19th century, used for livestock as well as passengers. By the 1930s it was developing a tourist industry. It had both church and chapel, both sources of 'outside influences' in one way or another. As we know, agricultural trade unions (outside influences one has to assume) had influence there. Its residents came from a range of social classes, some of whom across the spectrum would have had access to a variety of animal drawn conveyances capable of travelling on unmade up roads. It would surprise me if there were not rules laid down stipulating that particular farmers/landowners had duties to maintain bits of whatever roads there were: this was the case in other parts of the country I have looked at. On Pardon's own evidence broadsides reached the place, as did the musical instruments used in the band he talked about.

Sorry to post at length.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 04:46 AM

To ideological bias in the account of Knapton I will add a dollop of romanticism.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 04:50 AM

I admit to liking Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span. There. I said it.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 05:04 AM

IF we accept that 'traditional music is caught not taught' then this calls into question some of the stuff I was looking at about people regarded as 'traditional' teaching others to sing correctly down to getting the ornamentation right. I think this was either Irish or Traveller 'trad' singers. It also calls into question a lot of what Seeger and MacColl set out to do, as described for example by Jim Carroll and Martin Carthy and others. There are so many differing attitudes.

But this thread is about Pardon, and one thing that seems clear is that the grandfather from whom he believed that many of his songs came was a trained musician, from a family of trained musicians and that he could read music. Another thing is that Pardon did have some degree of 'training' in singing, definitely via his school experiences of folk music (in his own account) and almost certainly via his experiences of Methodism. Jst to add to that were not some of the trade union songs done to hymn tunes?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 05:18 AM

Jim, your point "If you don't like or understand these singers, then you don't like or understand our song traditions and you're better off coming to terms with it and going elsewhere for your fix" comes across as "If you don't like source singers then get out of folk music".

Surely that is not what you mean is it? There are more revival and contemporary performers who perform traditional style material than there are source singers. Can we not like one aspect of folk music more than another?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 05:38 AM

Turning to a conundrum that emerges from the MUSTRAD material on the origins of Pardon's songs: he thought his grandfather got the tunes from the broadsheets whereas these often did not include an indication of tune. So people think Pardon cannot be right about the source of the tunes. I know that often ballad sellers sang the songs (certainly in Ireland and also this applied to people selling sheet music with blues on in the US, often at the tent shows where the songs were sung). I think Munnelly says they would sing them over and over. If the same applies to the ballad sellers in Norfolk, this might explain where Pardon's grandfather got the tunes when these were roughly the same as those traditionally used for those songs?

Maybe this is something Steve Gardham might have a view on?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 05:40 AM

sorry not from a family of trained musicians, I was thinking about the band and assuming it might have contained more than one trained musician.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 05:44 AM

I must confess that "go elsewhere for your fix" comes across as harsh. You could say that if you eschew the delving back just because you're not keen on portamento, or you find the singing to be a bit raw by modern polished standards, or because you don't like scratchy recordings, or because you've only got time to listen to Steeleye or Fairport albums (good, some of 'em...) you will end up with a skewed view of what folk music is. That doesn't mean you can't enjoy what you enjoy, but it may mean that it's better if you don't anoint yourself as any sort of folk expert...

I would say that if you don't go back to those source singers (an ugly expression but we seem to be stuck with it and at least we sort of know what we mean), you could be missing out. See it as an interesting exercise that will inform your understanding of traditional music. You don't have to collect it all or listen to it hair-shirt fashion all the time. But you will learn something. That's me anyway. And I still like Irish tunes more!


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 05:45 AM

"If you don't like source singers then get out of folk music".
Don't read things I haven't said into my words - that's not what I meant
I do believe that clubs that refuse to include folk songas in their itinerary (or are are unable to justify why they call something entirely different as "folk") should not caim to be running folk clubs - that's a different argument

If people started turning up at the Roya Festival Hall to hear Mozart being played by a heavy metal band - would they be entitled to complain - would it still be Mozart as the world knows it ?
Why should people who don't even like folk song have the right to take over the people's music and send it into obscurity ?
Or don't you think "folk" means what it says and we've been misled since the 1830s ?

I have yet to meet anybody who fell in love with Shakespeare on their first meeting - the same goes for folk song
Most good hings often take work before you get the best out of them - why not give it a try

Pseud seems to have gone back on Speed again, having been asked by a moderator to clean up her act
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 05:51 AM

Ok,, Jim.

"I have yet to meet anybody who fell in love with Shakespeare on their first meeting - the same goes for folk song
Most good things often take work before you get the best out of them - why not give it a try..."

Agreed. And I'm still struggling with the Bard even now...


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 06:19 AM

"Agreed. And I'm still struggling with the Bard even now..."
I was lucky enough to be brought up in a family that doted on Shakespeare - we even had a Shakespeare theatre in the centre of Liverpool when I was young
Getting the best of difficult things comes in stages - first you work to understand them then you lay back and enjoy the pleasure of them becoming part of your life
It's all too often forgotten that Shakespeare was writing for "the sweepings of the London streets" - if he is unattainable to 21st century Britain, it says more about us than it does about Hamlet or King Lear
Jim


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Vic Smith
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 06:32 AM

Pseudonomous wrote: -
For example, he refers to a book given to him by Bill Leader. Now I would love to know what book it was and what ideas Pardon took from it.

Neither do I know what the book was, but an informed guess from the date of the Dallas interview and of the books that were recently available and popular at that time and from the context of that interview that it was likely to have been Bob Copper's A Song For Every Season published in the second half of 1971. My own copy, a signed gift from Bob as soon as it was published is one of my proudest possessions on the wall full of folk music related books.
A wonderful night on Saturday at the Lewes Saturday folk club with nine current singing members of the Copper Family brought back many memories of Bob with the singing of 1 son, 1 daughter, 1 son-in-law, 5 grandchildren and 1 great-grandson. What a wonderful heritage to leave behind! Facebook members may like to see 30 photos of the evening at
The Copper Family in Lewes 04/01/2000

There are quite a number of points that have been made in this thread since the new year that I would like to challenge but, sadly, I have come to the conclusion that discussion cannot be conducted on Mudcat without a combatative element creeping in often tinged with unneeded perjorative elements. Whenever I can, I will stick to being - if possible - helpful and informative.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 06:49 AM

Don't read things I haven't said into my words - that's not what I meant

I'm relieved to hear that, Jim. Just what did you mean by "If you don't like or understand these singers, then you don't like or understand our song traditions and you're better off coming to terms with it and going elsewhere for your fix", then? Particularly "going elsewhere for your fix". As I have said, I can't get to grips with some of the work of source singers but I like other folk music. Where do you suggest I go?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 07:06 AM

Pseud:
Re:

"I know that often ballad sellers sang the songs (certainly in Ireland and also this applied to people selling sheet music with blues on in the US, often at the tent shows where the songs were sung)".

May I ask where you obtained the information regarding selling sheet music by blues singers at Tent shows.

I am intrigued.

Apologies if this is considered Thread Drift


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 07:16 AM

Somebody said Walter Pardon had an ancestor called 'Brown Pardon'.

I was looking at an old directory of Knapton, one of what are called 'Kelly's Guides'. These are interesting places to find information about villages in the 19th century. I looked at the one for 1875 and the entry for Knapton.

Guess who the Parish Clerk in Knapton was in 1875? Yes, one Brown Pardon!


People in Knapton got letters via North Walsham; at this date they had no post office. There was a shopkeeper (so not isolated from outside products), and a grocer, a blacksmith and a bricklayer.

The population was 331.

I can find at least two people in Knapton called Brown Pardon, one married to Anne, the other to Sarah.

I am sorry if I appear 'combative', but I am trying to express myself without being so. I appreciate what Vic Smith has contributed.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 07:29 AM

But you don't have to get to grips with all of it. You should at least know that it exists, dip your toe in and then realise that, unlike sexual intercourse, it didn't all start in 1963. You do wonder at times how much some of the young-buck speed kings and breathy little-girl voices of today know about their heritage... Knowing a bit of the past gives a much deeper appreciation of what happens today. And, as a bonus, it allows you to tut-tut in the club, muttering "That's not how Walter would've done it...". ;-)

Brahms adored Beethoven, Beethoven and Bach adored Palestrina, Palestrina adored Josquin, Josquin adored Ockeghem... Sir George Grove, he of the dictionary, called it a Golden Chain. Your feet may be knobbly and unattractive to you, but you can't walk without 'em.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 07:34 AM

Yebbut, Steve, you don't have to like your feet to be able to walk.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 07:47 AM

Exactement! But you still have to look at them every now and then...

We could spend all day on this, Dave...


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 08:52 AM

I think I can liken it to something I know more about than feet - beer :-)

I like it all but some a lot more than others

You have your source sauce such as Holts. Not to everyone tastes but where modern brewers got their blueprints and should be respected.

There are new breweries like Copper Dragon who are revival beers

You have craft ales, like Brewdog, who brew in the style of source. The contemporary singer songwriters

And then there is Carling Black Label. The pop in more ways than one ;-)

If you like them all, the world is your mollusc. If you only drink of one type you are restricting yourself. If you only like Carling, don't go to real ale pubs. If you like real ale, don't expect them all to be to your liking.

Nowt to do with Walter. Sorry.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 09:26 AM

Regarding the parish clerk Pardon, by coincidence one of Granddad Tom's great granfathers turned out to be just that. These comparisons help me to understand more of Pardon's origins I think. I could not believe this, unlike his kids and their kids he was not a miner, but a garden labourer on a commercial plant labourer, so not quite ag lab like Pardon's family, but close. Moreover they were all Methodists as far as I knew. When I enquired, I was told by somebody that in all probability his parish clerk duties, this being a small place, would have consisted of digging graves. That figures, given his day job. So maybe this is what Brown Pardon did in Knapton?

Mike Yates mentions Methodism in his MUSTRAD piece on the political songs etc known by Pardon, the one headed by a Marx quotation, so I am not the only one to think it necessary. My own people were Methodist in the generation after the Parish Clerk, as were many working people, and also Labour when that came in, but I doubt all Mudcatters would approve of that .

Interestingly, the Methodists in Knapton were originally Primitive Methodists, a branch of Methodism that arose in the UK because of
American influences and was taken up by Hugh Bourne and others. A key bit of this was revivalist type camp meetings and lots of singing. These details help us to imagine the sort of soundscape one might have encountered in early Knapton.


I hope I have given some interesting background on Knapton in a non combative manner.

Hootenanny: I'll have to get back to you with a ref on that. I thought initially Abbot and Seroff but if it is (and it may well be) I cannot locate a precise ref. I hesitate to go down a blues track as I know that is another area where tempers can flare and definitions are controversial. But I know that music publishing was for a long time after they started issuing records a bigger money maker than the discs. There is even a story, which I believed when I read it, about Leadbelly (again from memory) buying some sheet music for the lyrics and then asking a woman who could play piano to give him the tune. I know I am right, I didn't make it up, but for a ref... that may take longer.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 09:40 AM

Hoot, okay, there is stuff on this in Abbot and Seroff but it is vaudeville rather than tent shows. Again from memory they had 'shills' in the audience demanding a particular tune which they then planned to sell outside. But at the moment I'm just googling and looking at extracts. This really should be on another thread. Sorry, to all. But bringing it back to the discussion might the idea solve the problem about where Pardon's grandfather got the tunes if he got the words from broadsheets?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 09:55 AM

Sue:<<<<<'If the same applies to the ballad sellers in Norfolk, this might explain where Pardon's grandfather got the tunes when these were roughly the same as those traditionally used for those songs?

Maybe this is something Steve Gardham might have a view on?'>>>>>>

Whilst accepting that written evidence is somewhat slim, what description there is of such activities is that those who went about selling the broadsheets at markets and on the streets of towns did actually sing the songs, often to fairly standard tunes, or where the songs had come from the theatre they were being sung in the taverns and gatherings by those who had been to see the performances. Think 'Lord Lovel, Bushes and Briars, Green Bushes'

Let us choose a suitable period for the dissemination of the tunes, say 1800 to 1850, which is when most of those who sang for the likes of Sharp learnt their songs. Prior to mass entertainment that the Music Hall era brought these printed ballads were extremely popular, some being printed and sold all over the country in their hundreds of thousands, so it is not hard to imagine a large portion of the population being party to the dissemination and singing of them. The more popular they were amongst the people on the street the more were printed, supply and demand, just like today's pop music.

Now to the fact that some of the ballads, generally those most widely sung, in the form they were collected from oral tradition there is very little variation in the tune from version to version, e'g., Seeds of Love, All Jolly fellows, Sweet Primroses.

Conversely, by and large, those that were printed in small numbers and only collected from oral tradition fairly infrequently tend to have been set to different tunes. This may have been because the handful of chaunters who went to different parts of the country singing them were unaware of the original tune and had not heard each other sing it.

Reasons why you can come across several different ballads using the same tune is that the writers often set their ballads to existing tunes, and also the chaunters often had a stock of say 20 tunes that they tended to put to what they were selling, whichever fitted best.

I can recommend Henry Mayhew's books for contemporary descriptions of the processes, the writers, the printers, and the sellers. Yes, the same chap who wrote 'Villikins' albeit adapted from an earlier song.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 09:58 AM

Pseud,

Please don't waste your time researching on my behalf trying to educate about me about blues as I do have a little knowledge of the subject.

You are correct about music publishing being a money earner BUT that was for the publisher not the performer.
Research Ralph Peer if you wish to know more.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 12:44 PM

"Where do you suggest I go?"
Nuffin to do with me
Wopould you walk nto a concert hall and and the same question if you couldn't find a Neil Young soundalike ?
It might help if you gave me an agreed on meaning of "other folk music"
Once again, you've dodgeal all the points I've made and questions I've raised by asking an unanswerable question
"people-s music" "damage" for interest
England is faced with losing what peple like Walter, Harry and Sam Gave us (or, at the very least - confining them to cupboards until some future generation sees what valuable pieces of British culture they are)
Does this not disturb you ?
Jim


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 01:03 PM

Nothing to do with what I asked, Jim. The only point you have made that I am addressing is, if anyone needs to "go elsewhere for their fix" (fix of folk music I guess you mean but who knows), where should they go? It was you who told us to go elsewhere. All the rest is an irrelevance to that question.

Nothing to do with Walter Pardon pardon of course and I would be happy to drop it but it is you that have said if we don't like source singers, such as Walter, we should "go elsewhere". I still don't understand what you mean by that.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Brian Peters
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 01:07 PM

So many posts in the last 24 hours, so much to respond to....

First, many thanks to Vic for taking the trouble to share the article from Folk News – I know what a bugger it is to scan indistinct text then to have to correct it!

Obviously there’s quite a lot of crossover with the various other interviews out there – Uncle Billy, the ‘baulk’, etc., but it’s fascinating to find other details such as WP’s view of revival singers and their use of accompaniment – which didn’t make it into the partial transcript of this interview that appeared in the booklet for the ‘Put a Bit of Powder...’ CD. Another thing I find interesting is that Billy Gee taught Walter a significant number of songs that don’t appear to have been in his own regular repertoire; one thought arising from this is that the contrast between WP’s intimate singing style and Uncle Billy’s declamatory pub performances may be less of a factor if Billy actually taught him the songs in a relaxed home setting – on his knee according to WP’s account elsewhere.

It would be interesting to see the questions that were posed to WP in these two interviews, which brought forth this particular set of responses. The interview posted earlier in which Jim Carroll and Pat McKenzie talk to WP is much more transparent, in that both questions and answers are (apparently) noted verbatim. However, excerpts from this latter interview have been posted above to illustrate examples of alleged “leading questions” designed to elicit “the answer that the interlocutors want”. I’ve re-read this text, and I can’t agree. The fact that WP sees mental pictures of the songs as he sings, that the characters appear in period dress, and that ‘The Pretty Ploughboy’ is imagined working in a neighbouring field, all originate from the singer. JC follows up this last with a question about ‘Van Diemen’s Land’, but he is merely following the precedent set by WP in describing the mental picture for a specific song. The opening question asking what WP – who was previously unused to performing for audiences – sees when standing in front of a crowd, seems entirely reasonable. One wonders in what way these answers are the ones “the interlocutors want[ed]” and, if so, why they wanted them. Unless an interviewer is simply going to press ‘Record’, say “off you go, Walter,” and leave the tape running uninterrupted for the afternoon, it’s difficult to see how any potential questions on the theme of singing could avoid interpretation by our OP as ‘loaded’.

After the attacks by Dave Harker on the concept of folk song and the work of the people who collected it, it became almost the default academic position to mistrust the work of collectors, to accuse them of ’bias’, and of allowing their ‘ideology’ to come before an honest appraisal of their material. To paraphrase Jeremy Paxman, the question “why is this lying bastard lying to me?” became more interesting to many scholars than the actual songs and singers (in which many of them seemed uninterested), and their main efforts were devoted to discrediting previous work than contributing anything useful of their own. In the words of Steve Roud, “this essentially negative perspective became... the new orthodoxy”. We’ve had forty years of that orthodoxy now, and it’s really time we all moved on.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Brian Peters
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 01:14 PM

On appreciating traditional singers

Yes, traditional singing has been an acquired taste for many of us. My first exposure was to the Copper Family, who of course had vocal harmony going for them and were thus an easy entry point – it was only years later that I came to appreciate Bob’s skill as a solo singer. For me the easiest solo singers to get into were Phil Tanner and Sam Larner, different in their styles but both experienced public performers who knew exactly how to use dramatics to draw in an audience. I found Harry Cox’s much more intimate style difficult at first, but got there eventually. When I play recordings of these and other traditional singers in public lectures (and I make a point of doing it), reactions can range from enthusiasm, through bafflement, to outright distaste. Even within the ranks of folk music lovers there are many who would prefer a revival performance every time and – since there are so few traditional singers left anyway – I don’t object to their choice. Traditional singing is a niche taste.

On the other hand, if the aim is to get to the heart of our singing tradition, then as far as I’m concerned you need to put the work in. If you want to pontificate on Walter Pardon’s singing, then – since his music doesn’t exist in a vacuum - a knowledge of other singers in the same musical category, like the ones I’ve mentioned above, or the participants at the Blaxhall Ship or the Eel’s Foot, for instance, is pretty important. One great strength of Dave Hillery’s Ph.D. thesis (which I’ve now had a good look at and thank the OP for bringing to my attention) is the comparative approach that uses recordings of four singers with interesting differences in repertoire and style; it’s clear that the author understands and enjoys this stuff (and, BTW, he routinely refers to singers by their given names).

Reading some of the comments here has reminded of an edition of the old Radio 4 panel game ‘My Music’, in which two classical music stuffed shirts and the highbrow comedians Frank Muir and Dennis Norden were played some recordings of traditional singing – I can’t remember who the singers were, though one might have been Sam Larner. “It sounds like some drunk bawling on the tube at midnight!” chortled one of the ‘musical experts’, to much guffawing. Apart from showing this person’s arrogance, it also showed his lack of qualification to judge that kind of music. If we wish to discuss Walter Pardon’s singing, then a decent knowledge of the width of his repertoire, and preferably some actual enthusiasm for it, would be a good starting point..... wouldn’t it?


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 01:29 PM

It may, Brian, but what of us who simply don't like everything that Walter did? Are we not allowed to say so for fear of offending someone? You know full well I like traditional folk music. I have booked you on more than one occasion. I have booked Nick Dow and many others. When we could afford it we booked artists ranging from Martin Carthy to the Wilsons. But it feels like I am now being told that if I don't like some stuff by source singers, I can go away.

Sorry to go off topic and if it seems I am targeting anyone unfairly. I'm not. I just want to explain that not everyone has to like Walter to respect what he did.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 01:41 PM

"where should they go?"
If they're not interested in folk song as long established and re unable to get an agreement of what constitutes a new kind of folk song, why should I be the slightest interested in where they go /
What concerns me is where they have already gone and what has happened to the former folk clubs
This concerns me on two counts - I and thousands like me have nowhere to go any more to listen to and sing the songs we dedicated our lives to - selfish, I know
As a researcher. I came to understand that folk song carried an enormous amount of baggage as a carrier of information, social history - the more you dig, the more you find
All that baggage stands to be lost because there's no-one to pass it on
Brian's description of how the establishment treated our folk songs with contempt - as objects of ridicule
Now, when we ask for the present folk scene to take the songs seriously we get similar responses to Muir's and Nordon's from todays folkies, when you can hear them above the chanting of "'54" and the like
Ot f interest, on of the treasures on our bookshelves is a se of Hardy's Complete Poem signed by a sometimes 'My Music' broadcaster
It reads
"For Walter Pardon, Comrade in song - We may never meet againbut I hope I can call you friend
I'll not forget meeting you on March 10th 1884 - best wishes, John Amis
Walter was extremely proud of it, but insited that Pat took it and enjoyed it as much as he had.

One of the common things we got from all our singers was the desire that their songs should live on - we let them down, but it wasn't for the want of trying on our part
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 01:51 PM

I fully agree with your latest post, Brian. You said more articulately, and with more knowledge, what I was trying to say when I said you had to dip your toe in. Maybe a whole foot is what I should have said...


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 01:52 PM

If they're not interested in folk song

Many people, such as me, are very interested in folk song, Jim. Just not as enthusiastic about source singers as you and some others. On that note I realise I should not be discussing Walter Pardon if I am not overly interested. I shall leave you to talk about Walter with other such aficionados and see if I can start a thread on non-source folk song without it becoming a battleground :-)

Enjoy yourselves


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Brian Peters
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 01:59 PM

Dave the Gnome:
"what of us who simply don't like everything that Walter did? Are we not allowed to say so for fear of offending someone?"

Not as far as I'm concerned, Dave. What I wrote was: "Even within the ranks of folk music lovers there are many who would prefer a revival performance every time and... I don’t object to their choice."

I would guess that, for the majority of listeners and participants in the folk music scene, revival performance is what they like to hear, and may in many cases be all they've ever heard. The reason I play recordings of traditional singers to lecture and workshop groups is precisely because they may have heard nothing like that before, and I want to at least give them the chance. That certainly doesn't mean I don't like revival performance - it's what got me into this in the first place, I still enjoy many modern performers, and as you say, that's what I do.

What I was trying to suggest is that, if you want to go deeper into the music, particularly the research aspect that animates a few of us on Mudcat but is very much a minority sport, then you need to put the work in to understand it. But that's not for everyone.


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Subject: RE: Review: Walter Pardon - Research
From: Brian Peters
Date: 06 Jan 20 - 02:02 PM

Jim, that is fascinating about John Amis - I take it all back!!


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