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Origin: High Germany

DigiTrad:
HIGH GERMANY
THE KING'S REQUEST MUST BE OBEYED
THE WARS OF GERMANY


Related threads:
Lyr Req: High Germany (Pentangle) (12)
Lyr Req: Scots songs about Poland/Germany/Prussia (23)
Lyr Req: 'Oh, Woe Be To The Orders' (5)
Ulster Version High Germany (1)


GUEST,Robert Bannister 03 Sep 19 - 05:05 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Apr 14 - 03:51 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Apr 14 - 03:23 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Apr 14 - 02:55 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Apr 14 - 04:09 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Apr 14 - 11:18 AM
MGM·Lion 21 Apr 14 - 08:21 AM
Vin2 21 Apr 14 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,Lighter 04 Sep 13 - 12:15 PM
Snuffy 04 Sep 13 - 09:29 AM
GUEST 03 Sep 13 - 09:49 AM
GUEST,Steve Squeeze 03 Sep 13 - 07:03 AM
pavane 27 Sep 12 - 06:30 PM
GUEST,Lighter 27 Sep 12 - 06:03 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 27 Sep 12 - 03:21 PM
GUEST,Lighter 27 Sep 12 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Guest 27 Sep 12 - 10:37 AM
Jim Carroll 28 Apr 12 - 12:55 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Apr 12 - 12:14 PM
Jim Carroll 28 Apr 12 - 11:55 AM
Steve Gardham 28 Apr 12 - 10:43 AM
GUEST,Keith A o Hertford. 28 Apr 12 - 05:05 AM
Jim Carroll 28 Apr 12 - 03:49 AM
Steve Gardham 27 Apr 12 - 05:07 PM
GUEST,Lighter 27 Apr 12 - 03:56 PM
Jim Carroll 27 Apr 12 - 03:36 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Apr 12 - 02:38 PM
GUEST,Lighter 27 Apr 12 - 11:21 AM
banksie 27 Apr 12 - 09:54 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Apr 12 - 08:44 AM
GUEST,Lighter 27 Apr 12 - 08:37 AM
GUEST,Lighter 27 Apr 12 - 08:33 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Apr 12 - 06:32 AM
MGM·Lion 27 Apr 12 - 05:37 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Apr 12 - 04:02 AM
Keith A of Hertford 27 Apr 12 - 02:41 AM
Steve Gardham 26 Apr 12 - 05:18 PM
GUEST,Lighter 26 Apr 12 - 04:56 PM
Steve Gardham 26 Apr 12 - 04:29 PM
Steve Gardham 26 Apr 12 - 04:06 PM
Jim Carroll 26 Apr 12 - 07:10 AM
GUEST 26 Apr 12 - 06:48 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Apr 12 - 03:55 AM
MGM·Lion 25 Apr 12 - 03:42 AM
Keith A of Hertford 25 Apr 12 - 02:44 AM
GUEST,Lighter 24 Apr 12 - 05:06 PM
Artful Codger 24 Apr 12 - 04:10 PM
Keith A of Hertford 24 Apr 12 - 02:33 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Apr 12 - 07:38 PM
GUEST,SteveG 23 Apr 12 - 03:00 PM
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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST,Robert Bannister
Date: 03 Sep 19 - 05:05 AM

We English pinched the tune of Marbrouk for "He a jolly good fellow". The Polly love version was definitely about the Wars of Spanish Succession. Marlborough got his dukedom for his victory at Blenheim. Two thirds of his troops, about 40,000, were British, the rest mainly German. The idea that France could inherit all of Spain's vast empire was anathema to most European powers who then formed a coalition. Marlborough was supreme commander.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 03:51 PM

Lyr. Add: HIGH GERMANY Moeran
Ernest John Moeran (1894-1950)

One day as I was walking by myself all alone,
I heard two young ones talking, they were talking all alone,
Said the young one to the fair one, "Bonnie Lassie," said he,
"our king he have commanded us, and his orders we must obey."

"That's not what you promised me when you did beguile,
You promised for to marry me as we walked many a mile,
Do not me forsake but pity on me take, great fear is my woe;
Through Scotland, France and Ireland, along with you I will go."

"As long as we're travelling, that would hurt your tender feet;
Over hills and lofty mountains that would cause you for to weep,
Beside that you would not consent to laying in the fields all night long;
And your parents would be angry if alone o'me you gang.

But since you are so vextillous as to risk your sweet life,
So first I will marry you and make you my lawful wife;
Then if anyone offend you I'll protect you, and that you shall see--
I will take you where the drums and trumpets sound, in the wars of High Germany."

Volkslieder (Folksongs) set by Ernest John Moeran.
http://www.recmusic.org/lieder/get_text.html?Textld=75328


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 03:23 PM

"High Germany" has been collected in Newfoundland; a shortened version probably originating from the old broadside.

The boy is "Willy", and he suggests that they will "call into Damsel's Tavern and drink as we pass by."

With musical score, sung by Jim Bennett; pp. 679-680, Kenneth Reacock, "Songs of the Newfoundland Outports.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Apr 14 - 02:55 PM

Lyr. Add: HIGH GERMANY
Revised by Aoife Clancy et al.

Woe be to the orders that took my love away
And woe be to the cruel cause that bid my tears to fall
Woe be to the bloody wars of high Germany
They have taken my love and left a broken heart to me.

The drum beat in the morning before the break of day
And the small wee fife played loud and clear while yet the morn was gray
And I the bonny flag unfurled, 'twas a gallant sight to see
Woe to me, my soldier lad was marched to Germany.

Long, long is the traveling to the bonny pier of Leith
And bleak it was to gang there with a snowstorm in your teeth
And aye, the wind blew sharp and strong, and a tear rose in my eyne
I gang there to see my love embark for Germany.

As I gazed over the cruel sea for as long as could be seen
The wee small sails upon the ship my own true love was in
And aye, the wind blew sharp and strong, and the ship sailed speedily
Cruel the raging wars have torn my bonny boy from me.

Woe be to the orders that took my love away
And woe be to the cruel cause that bid my tears to fall
Woe be to the bloody wars of high Germany
They have taken my love and left a broken heart to me.

Arrangement of the 1820s broadside by Aoife Clancy and group, album "Threads of Time," 1998.

http://www.celtic lyrics corner.net/cherish/high.htm


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 04:09 PM

Much learned discussion about "High Germany," whether it is the work of some unknown poet of the 1820s-1830s, as implied by Bruce O some years ago (above) or a folk effort of an earlier time, is penned in this thread.
The text, however, has not been posted in mudcat.
Whether it descends from the 18th C. verses posted earlier in this thread is open to question.


Lyr. Add: HIGH GERMANY

O Polly, love, O Polly, love, the rout is begun
And we must away at the sound of the drum,
Go dress yourself in all your best, & go along with me
And I'll take you to the wars in High Germany.

O my dearest Billy mind what you say,
My feet they are sore I cannot march away,
Besides my dearest Billy, I am with child by thee,
Not fitting for the wars in High Germany.

I will buy you a horse, if my Polly can ride,
And many a long night I will march by her side,
We will drink at every alehouse there ere we come nigh
And we'll travel on the road sweet Molly and I.

O Polly, love, O Polly, love, I like you very well,
There are few in this place my Molly can excell,
But when your baby is born, love, and sits smiling on your knee,
You will think on your Billy that is in High Germany.

Down in yonder valley I'll make for him a bed,
And the sweetest of roses shall be his coverlid, (coverlet?)
With pinks and sweet violets I will adorn his feet,
Where the fishes are charmed the music is so sweet.

O Polly, love, O Polly, love, pray give me your hand
And promise you will marry me when I come to Old England,
I give you my right hand, I will not married be,
Till you come from the wars in High Germany.

Woe be to the wars that they began, For they have prest my Billy & many a clever man,
For they have prest my Billy no more him I shall see
And so cold will be his grave in High Germany.

The drum that beats is covered with green,
The pretty lambs a sporting much pleasure to be seen
May the birds on the branches hinder my downfall
The leaving of my true love grieves me the worst of all.

Harding B11, 1536; B11 (2899); and others of roughly the same date (1820-1830), broadsides in the Bodleian Collection.


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Subject: RE: Origins: High Germany
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 11:18 AM

Not unrelated t this song, though song origins are virtually impossible to pin down and invariably end in tears
Jim Carroll

Banks of the Nile (Roud 950, Laws N9)
Pat MacNamara
The theme of this song – a woman asking her soldier or sailor lover to be allowed to accompany him to battle or to sea, is not as unbelievable as it might first appear. Armies once trudged their way around the world accompanied by 'camp-followers', mobile settlements of women, children and tradesmen all running risks not too different from those taken by active soldiers. Following the defeat of the rebels at Vinegar Hill in 1798, British troops rounded up and massacred the camp-followers who assisted the rebels during the fighting. Camp following lasted into the nineteenth century and continued to be a common part of army life into the 19th century.
The same went for seamen; in 1822 an anonymous pamphlet suggested that members of the Royal Navy were taking as many as two women apiece aboard the ships. These women also proved useful in that they fought alongside their lovers at the Nile and Trafalgar during the Napoleonic wars. The well-known saying "show a leg" is said to have originated from the practice of officers in the Royal Navy clearing the crew from their hammocks and bunks by demanding that the occupant sticks their leg out to show whether they were male or female.
'Banks of the Nile' is probably the best known song of women accompanying their lovers into battle or on board ship. Though this version refers to the practice among the Irish military forces, the song is just as popular in England and probably originated there


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Subject: RE: Origins: High Germany
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 08:21 AM

It's in DT, with several links there to previous threads. Search with the Lyrics & Knowledge Search above and you will find much relevant info.

~M~


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Subject: Origins: High Germany
From: Vin2
Date: 21 Apr 14 - 08:12 AM

Hi folks, just learning this great song covered by many a songster - my fave version is Martin Carthy's and Luke Kelly's. Anyroadup I was wondering if anyone knows the songs origin ?

Cheers

Vin


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 04 Sep 13 - 12:15 PM

"Low German" (the dialect) and "Low Germany" (the area) seem not to have been completely congruent.

"Low Germany" frequently (maybe mainly?) referred to the Netherlands where, of course, they spoke Dutch rather than any form of German. Like "High Germany" the phrase seems to have dropped out of non-literary use long ago.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Snuffy
Date: 04 Sep 13 - 09:29 AM

Indeed there is: the North German plain is Low Germany: see this from Wikipedia

Variants of Low German were widely (and are still to a far lesser extent) spoken in most parts of Northern Germany, for instance in the states of Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Hamburg, Bremen, Schleswig-Holstein, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg. Small portions of northern Hesse and northern Thuringia are traditionally Low Saxon speaking too. Historically, Low German was also spoken in formerly German parts of Poland as well as in East Prussia and the Baltic States of Estonia and Latvia. The language was also formerly spoken in the outer areas of what is now the city state of Berlin but in the course of urbanisation and national centralisation in that city the language vanished.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 09:49 AM

is there a Low Germany?


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST,Steve Squeeze
Date: 03 Sep 13 - 07:03 AM

Only two years late, but should anyone wish to peruse the back catalogue of the aforementioned Whorticulture, in the form of hastily-recorded demo/live CDs from many moons ago, it's all on grooveshark, including our version of High Germany.

Rgds,
SS :o) x


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: pavane
Date: 27 Sep 12 - 06:30 PM

Martin Carthy also sang it in the mid-60's
It seems to have been printed in 1960:
The Everlasting Circle:
English traditional verse
James Reeves
Heinemann, 1960
page 151: 64 High Germany

"Your parents they will be angry if along with me you will gang

My friends I do not value, nor my foes I do not fear, But along with my jolly soldier boy I will ramble far and near. It's gold shall never deceive me nor any other man,but along with you I will go
For to fight the French or the Spaniards or any other..."

I can't see any more online


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 27 Sep 12 - 06:03 PM

Bob, I don't know the ultimate origin of the final stanza, but I believe the Dubliners sang it in the mid '60s.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 27 Sep 12 - 03:21 PM

As the following song is #56 in Sharp's 100 English Folksongs, I'm surprised not to find Sharp's version in the DT. A version using the name Colleen is in the DT and was cited above, but not this.

HIGH GERMANY

Learned from Bob Keppel of St. Louis MO in Cambridge, MA c. 1958
Version close to or identical with #56 in Sharp's 100 English Folksongs

Oh, Polly, dear, oh Polly, the route is now begun,
And we must march away to the beating of the drum,
Go dress yourself all in your best and come along with me,
I'll take you to the cruel wars in High Germany.

Oh, Harry, dearest Harry, you mind what I do say,
My feet they are too tender, I cannot march away,
And besides, my dearest Harry, though I'm in love with thee,
I am not fit for cruel wars in High Germany.

I'll buy you a horse, my love, and on it you shall ride,
And all of my delight shall be riding by your side,
We'll call at every alehouse, and drink when we are dry,
So quickly on the road, my love, we'll marry by and by.

O curs-ed be the cruel wars that ever they should rise,
And out of merry England press many a lad likewise,
They pressed young Harry from me, likewise my brothers three,
And sent them to the cruel wars in High Germany.

I later learned a final verse that Keppel did not sing, nor is it in Sharp. It's from another version; I don't know its source, but believe it to be traditional. The name in the final line was originally Willie; I changed it to suit the rest of the song.

My friends I do not value and my foes I do not fear,
For now my true love's left me and wanders far and near,
But when my baby's born, and smiling on my knee,
I'll think of handsome Harry in high Germany.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 27 Sep 12 - 11:38 AM

Q. "So whose hands should it be in?"

A. "The singers' and the people's, you nit!"

Q. "You mean the social historians, etc., are keeping them from enjoying it? How is that possible?"


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 27 Sep 12 - 10:37 AM

Dear God. What a load of hogwash. Positive proof that in England at least the so-called 'music of the common people' - long ago hi-jacked by social historians, middle-class academics and university types - is still in the wrong hands.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 12:55 PM

You're splitting hairs Steve - it amounts to the same thing - the paying of others to provide their culture for them rather than to produce it themselves.
If this is not what they were doing, please say so - otherwise you are taking refuge behind semantics.
Is this what you have described as "You continue to misquote me 'much' = 'all'" - oh dear!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 12:14 PM

'contracting out' means a deliberate act of commissioning the songs by the people themselves, which is not true. The printers who were receiving the bulk of the income were encouraging the lyricists to bring in their compositions. These were then either sold from the shop, sold in the street by chaunters who bought their stock from the printer at a discount, or taken around the countryside by pedlars who sold them along with their other stock. Of course the printers were also regurgitating old stock, including current pop songs, and pirating material from other printers.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 11:55 AM

"a great mass of cheap print "
Most of which were unsingable pap which said nothing about the lives of the people Sharp et al were collecting from. They certainly didn't have the function that I believe the traditional songs did. Did you ever asked a traditional singer how he/she felt about the songs they sing?
Walter Pardon filled tapes full of such information - he carefully discriminted between what he called "folk songs" and the popular songs, Victorian tearjerkers.... and the other mass produced pieces (not that he didn't sing and listen to those too).
We got similar results from other singers we questioned, often, also at at length.
All these singers were deeply involved with their songs and spoke passionately, and sometimes very emotionally about them - this is also to be found in recorded interviews of singers like Sam Larner, Harry Cox, and those wonderful recordings of Texas Gladden. You simply don't get that from mass-produced pop songs (which, as I believe you have pointed out, are what broadsides were).
I believe that our oral traditions were driven by a need, present in many cultures, for people to express their own feelings and not have it done by others on their behalf.
"I now challenge you...."
And I keep repeating - I have no idea who made these songs, any more than I believe you have.
I am not the one making definitive statements - you are, and providing no evidence to back them up.
"You know very well this is a distortion of what I have said."
This is, in essence, exactly what you said, they didn't make songs themselves because they were "too busy" so they bought songs - tell me the difference in "contracting out" the job.
"You equally keep putting in your own pedigree."
Only in response to your having done so - go and check.
I certainly don't put up "some of the most distinguished scholars of traditional music and none of them have taken me to task".
I stand behind my own ideas and am prepared to defend them and not call up others to do so on my behalf - and I expect the same of others I discuss with.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 10:43 AM

Jim
The only reason I have included my pedigree on this is to demonstrate that I'm not just somebody who has read a few books. You equally keep putting in your own pedigree. I don't have a problem with this so why do you?

contracted them out for
professionals to make for them'
You know very well this is a distortion of what I have said. The hacks were paid by the printers and need not have had any contact with the singers other than to see what was selling well.

'like most literature, is pure fiction," which I took to be a reference to novelists - what else?' Just use a dictionary.

I am certain that the 'ordinary people' in many places in the world have made their own songs at various times in history, including your Irish examples. It just happens to be the case that when the 'ordinary people' who provided the songs for Sharp et al in England were learning their songs the market was being flooded with a great mass of cheap print examples coming out of the towns.

You keep challenging me to come up with direct proof of my hypothesis which several threads back we all agreed was not possible. I now challenge you, in view of your comparing the Irish songs you have been stressing, to say which songs of the corpus I have mentioned were made by a) travellers b) country people, and I'm not even going to press you for ultimatre proof. A few examples will do. There are plenty, but they still only make up less than 10% 0f the total.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST,Keith A o Hertford.
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 05:05 AM

only the untutored geniuses among them will produce tales and songs of outstanding excellence

Yes.
Then as now.
One song in thousands is good enough to survive.
That can account for our heritage of songs.
Tutoring does little to improve song composing ability.
There has always been the same proportion of "geniuses" in the population.
No requirement for hacks.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Apr 12 - 03:49 AM

"I didn't mention skill or novelists."
You said ".....like most literature, is pure fiction," which I took to be a reference to novelists - what else?
As far as I am concerned, this discussion centres around your definitive, sweeping and often dismissive suggestion that the (English) folk did not make their songs, but contracted them out for
professionals to make for them (because they were too busy....).
This, to me, is total nonsense which flies in the face of everything we know (or we think we know) about our song traditions, and without proof, which you have singularly failed to provide; presented as it is, it is little more than arrogant flag-flying.
You have compounded this arrogance with your inclusion of most of the other folk disciplines (in case you claim I am misrepresenting you - in full "Sorry, Jim, this is just not true, except one would presume with folk painting, much of the rest originated in high art! Or certainly higher than the common folk, sophisticated sources in other words. Dances in particular.")
You have accompanied your claims with derisory terms like "Merrie England" and whistling ploughboys" - patronising at best, downright insulting on occasion (especially when accompanied by statements of how long you have been at it, as if the rest of us have only just come on board and are still looking for our cabins).
The only thing we know for certain about the making of our traditional songs is that we have not the faintest idea who made the vast majority of them.
We are pretty certain that 'ordinary people' (that appalling term which is sometimes used to describe often very extraordinary people) all over the world, made songs and tales to describe their lives, experiences, beliefs, values, aspirations..... There is no reason whatever that this should not include 'ordinary' English people.
Your claims, if accepted, would lay waste to most of the folk song scholarship of the 20th century. What is needed is documented proof, not the might-have-beens and perhapses we have been given so far.
"The word 'hack' I personally feel is unfair."
Then you should use another term for them - and parhaps give us a little more information on who they were and what were their backgounds - I have failed to find any so far and, beyong vague claims, you haven't been very forthcoming.
You accuse me of misrepresenting what you say - I haven't, not deliberately anyway, but I do find much of what you do say confusingly contradictory.
"Just teasing ya."
Just as well Lighter - we have some idea of where Shakespere went to for his references.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 05:07 PM

Jim, I didn't mention skill or novelists. I merely used the word 'fiction' in its widest sense. In many ways their beauty lies in their simplicity. The hacks, as I've already said, came from a wide range of backgrounds and I'm sure some of the better ones went on to greater things. The word 'hack' I personally feel is unfair. It conjures up the picture of people with very little skill who were dashing off any old thing. It was coined by the literati who saw their products as being at the very bottom of the literature pile, but to be fair to modern eyes the majority of it is pretty dire. I doubt if there's anyone on this list who would say that they prefer the broadside version, other than perhaps an historian.

The localisation of songs took place in the print tradition and in oral tradition. With the former it was a definite sales ploy.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 03:56 PM

I wonder. Did Shakespeare write Shakespeare, with all those convincingly real kings and queens and foreign lands he "couldn't have known anything about"?

Just teasing ya.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 03:36 PM

"However, only the untutored geniuses among them will produce tales and songs of outstanding excellence"
Seems to suggest a composing elite - not sure about this - I tend to think the "excellence" more likely came from the edges being worn off the songs by the oral tradition, rather than being put there in the first place.
Quite often the songs survived, not because they were "excellent", but because the subject matter, or the references were relevant to the communities.
There are enough examples here in the West of Ireland of a large song-making repertoire. Undoubtedly the main driving force for this was a rich oral tradition; a template which acted as a pattern for new songs to be made.
As we don't know who made these songs, it would be dangerous to attribute them to "geniuses" - many surviving songs suggest that this is far from the truth.
"and how likely it would be for his or her song to spread throughout the country without the aid of print."
The fact that one of the most important communities in Britain and Ireland for the preservation and passing on of songs was the 'pre-literate' Travellers, suggests that print, while playing some part, was not by any means vital.
The most stylish singer we recorded (and also the one with the largest repertoire) was Tipperary Traveller, Mary Delaney - from a totally non-literate background, and also blind from birth - a phenomenal singer with a phenomenal repertoire.
In the 70s, collector, the late Tom Munnelly took us to record Martin Howley, a labourer/singer living on the Burren in North Clare, who gave us 'Knight William' - the only Irish version of Child 74 (which he confusingly called 'The Old Armchair' from the first line "Knight William was sitting on his old armchair").
Martin learned it from a non-literate Travelling woman who was called Mrs 'Stotered' because of her fondness for strong drink she used to greet people with the words "I'm stotered again).
His not-too-far-away neighbours, the Flanagans, described how, when Travellers were in the area, all farmwork would be abandoned and they would go off to learn songs, sometimes for a week at a time.
Martin and the Flanagans can be heard on our double CD of Clare singers, 'Around the Hills of Clare', available on the internet.
Also available is our double CD of Traveller singers, 'From Puck to Appleby' which includes a description of ballad selling in rural Ireland in the 1940s by a man who was part of the trade with his mother (this has an hilarious description of the speaker attempting to teach the tune of a song to a prospective punter who "shoved a pound note in my top pocket every time I sang it")
Please don't look on this as the hard sell - all the proceeds for both of these go to the Irish Traditional Music Archive)
Incidentally - an interesting footnote to songwriting in this town.
Ten years ago a local Councillor campaigned and had built a resource centre, for elderly people, a creche and an advice centre - it was opened by the then President of Ireland, Mary Robinson.
On Tuesday last, exactly ten years later, an anonymous handwritten poem/song was posted in the windows of several shops in praise of the centre - the singing tradition may be dead, but it's not going to lie down without a fight.
Sorry Steve - your "hacks" by your own description, were not skilled writers, and skilful novel writing of a convincing nature requires a great deal of research - not available to your 'tradition writers' (sic)
"Who said anything about fooling anyone?"
The fooling came from being able to convince a Norfolk singer that Barbara Allen was a local girl - or from anywhere where a song took root and came to be considered "from these parts".
That was a skill I really can't see your "hacks" possessing in any great quantity.
Still no answers I C
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 02:38 PM

Thanks, Jonathan, you present the case much more eloquently than I could.

'Nor can they make up convincing songs about subjects they are unfamiliar with in the language of the characters that populate those songs'

Jim, that in the majority of cases is untrue. The majority of these songs, like most literature, is pure fiction, and the majority also concern the life experiences open to everybody of any class. I've already given plenty of examples of how 'insider information' could easily be gleaned by the hacks.

'these same hacks, who were skilfull enough to fool 'most of the people most of the time'

Who said anything about fooling anyone? Where does fooling come into it?


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 11:21 AM

I believe this discussion is confusing essentially distinct issues.

The two I see as central are style and dissemination.

Illiterate and poorly educated people obviously are capable of telling stories and composing songs. However, only the untutored geniuses among them will produce tales and songs of outstanding excellence. The rest will be mundane. Think about the average quality of popular music, popular novels, popular films, etc., when compared to the relative handful of those productions that are regarded as "classics of the genre." None of these things were created by rural, uneducated people, and I doubt they'd be better if they had been.

(Obviously the folksongs and Hollywood blockbuster are not commensurable: all I'm saying is that truly outstanding work is very rare in any genre. Compare Shakespeare, for example, with 99% of other poetry or drama. In fact, compare the really great parts of Shakespeare with the rest of his own work.)

The average quality of the average untutored song would, I believe, have made it unlikely to spread very far or be remembered for very long by more than a handful of people. And it would be unlikely for any collector to find a descendant of those people or, if the song was more than few years old, to collect it if he did.

Second point. The English-speaking population of Britain in 1800 was about 12,000,000. That's little more than half the current population of the New York Metropolitan Area. Fewer people means fewer and smaller social networks, which means less interchange of ideas and information. One printed broadside hawked commercially would be far more widely influential than one person's song sung to family and acquaintances.

Travel was also slower and more difficult. People also had less reason to travel long distances than they do today.

My point is that it may be a mistake to assume that folksongs in the distant past traveled as far or as quickly by word of mouth as does information today. Just to be clear: I'm not comparing British subjects of 1800 to cavemen, imaginary people "who have no culture," hermits, morons, or anything of the sort.

I'm simply stating my belief that unlettered songs not committed to print would be unlikely to travel very far or last very long. What's more, as the collections show, it's far more common for a song that's been circulating for any length of time to be found in worn down, partially incoherent versions than in brilliant new interpretations created by the anonymous "folk process." Yes, it does happen, but rarely.

Not to get sidetracked further, but the prose of the Norse sagas is straightforward and direct. And the sagas are prose, not folksong.   

This isn't for me a question of dogma or academic fashion. Rather, the evidence suggests strongly that the bulk of all English balladry (not every ballad without exception) originated in the form we know it with literate broadside printers. I see no evidence to refute that idea, and good evidence (cited by Steve and others) to support it.

Frankly, it would be more fun if things were otherwise But they're not.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: banksie
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 09:54 AM

Lighter: your observation "It's whether a scarcely educated person could do so, and how likely it would be for his or her song to spread throughout the country without the aid of print."

I suspect it is highly likely. The one downside of writing is that the human memory has been rendered nearly pointless by it. I have no doubt that a song, particularly if relevant to one's experience of work or life in general, would be learned very quickly. And would then be sung because it was relevant and therefore of some `emotional comfort or support' (or similar reason such as the shear pleasure of it). As evidence of that process - watch kids singing pop songs. I can't even decipher the words, but they have got them off pat.....I suspect because the song is relevant to them.

It wasn't so long ago that whole sagas (the books and novels of the day) were told from memory, as were important messages from war fronts etc - long despatches heard once and retold after a long journey. And as archeology unearths new finds showing that supposedly `dead-thick cavemen' could deliver artifacts such as jewelry displaying great delicacy and skill, I have no doubt that they could also fashion a story or song using the most eloquent of poetry.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 08:44 AM

"Not everyone can or wishes to make up a song in the diction of fashionable literature or according to the structural conventions of printed balladry."
Nor can they make up convincing songs about subject they are unfamiliar with in the language of the characters that populate those songs.
As far as I can make out, nobody here is questioning that the broadsides were written by anybody but the broadside hacks. What is being claimed is that the vast majority of the songs found in the oral tradition originated with these same hacks, who were skilfull enough to fool 'most of the people most of the time'.
Thereby hangs the nonsense.
Why is it uniformative to suggest that people who lived in hard and appalling conditions made songs about how they felt about it - especially when it has been claimed that such conditions deterred them from doing so?
These songs and their historical and cultural significance are vital to our undersanding of our past.
You are beginning to sound as dismissive as Steve.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 08:37 AM

My last post came across as grouchier than I intended. Sorry.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 08:33 AM

Anyone can make up a song.

Not everyone can or wishes to make up a song in the diction of fashionable literature or according to the structural conventions of printed balladry.

"When they had the least to sing about": touching but uninformative.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 06:32 AM

Thanks Mike, I'd forgotten that one
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 05:37 AM

"many examples of working people doing exactly that - the hardship of their lives being one of the reasons why they made songs"
.,,.,.
Germane, I think, to quote the formulation [Bert Lloyd's, was it?] that "people have always sung best when they had least to sing about".

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 04:02 AM

'English traditional song as collected by the likes of Sharp...."
You are either not reading what I have written or are deliberately misrepresenting my point - which was in response to your "English working people people were too busy earning a living to make songs themselves"
My point was that there are many examples of working people doing exactly that - the hardship of their lives being one of the reasons why they made songs (among others).
"Some of your points I feel I've already answered"
You have answered none of them; you have attempted to explain away some of the flaws of your hypothesis with top-of-the-head excuses. Most you have totally ignored - poor grasp of and attitude to literacy (where it existed), the contrast with knowledge we have of Irish and Scots oral tradition of song making and that of rural England, on-the-spot opinions of Hindley, Walton, Maidment, et-al, that these were songs made by country people and communities, Ms Laidlaw's statement that writing the songs down killed them off rather than perpetuated them, the credibility gap in your claim of being able to trace back so many traditional songs to broadside origins when you have virtually no examples to do so prior to the beginning of the 20th century.............
The description you have been given of illiterate song sellers reciting traditional songs to the printer in order to sell them.... and many more points you appear to have no answer for really need dealing with before your theory can be taken seriously.
I'm not sure where the 'flowery language' comes into all of this, surely the contrast of the overblown language of the broadsides and the rounded singability of the oral examples suggest that it is extremely unlikely of the latter developing from the former.
Take the song in question - High Germany - and contrast the chunky version you produced with those found in the oral tradition - suggestion enough for me of a "hack" taking an existing piece which reflects the stark realities of army life and its camp-followers, and re-making it into something else.
"You continue to misquote me"
I have not at any time misrepresented your argument, on the contrary, it is you and your "Merrie England" and "whistling ploughboys" cliches who has distorted mine - apparently to cover up the fact that your arguments are based on (as you first described way back) "a gut reaction" rather than the hard evidence you would need to prove that English people were recipients rather than makers of the song that reflected their lives and conditions so realistically ad passionately.
Your extending this to include tales, music, customs, lore, etc. (and your failure to qualify such a suggestion) blows the idea totally out of the water for me.
You stick with your "gut reaction" - I'll settle for my hard evidence, gained partially by having spent a long time with traditional singers (some from a still-living tradition) and questioning them on the relationship and function of their songs to their everyday lives.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 02:41 AM

Lighter, an illiterate could hardly write a book, but could and did make up songs.

Songs need not arise from education, except that all life experience is education.
They may not have read poetry, but they all had a repertoire of well written hymns.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 05:18 PM

I agree with your point, Jonathan, but would also add that IMO this is because many of the printed songs were coming down from the theatres and pleasure garden compositions or at least in imitation of them. This includes the Phoebes and Corydons and description of bright Phoebus, and all of those flowery hunting songs, idealised pastoral songs like The Sweet Nightingale.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 04:56 PM

Do we all agree that the bulk of the 18th and early 19th C. broadsides are more flowery in language than, say, those of the 1840s and after?

Keith, the point isn't whether a literate seaman could write a song - or even a book - in a conventional literate style. It's whether a scarcely educated person could do so, and how likely it would be for his or her song to spread throughout the country without the aid of print.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 04:29 PM

Sorry about the silence for 2-3 days. I've been crewing on boats up and down the Humber. Messing about on the river!

'Today I pulled around a dozen books from the shelves containing songs made by miners, weavers and agricultural workers (some previously published, but most selected to illustrate the songmaking of working people)... 'Sharpen The Sickle' by Reg Groves (History of the farmworkers Union), 'Songs of the People' Brian Hollingsworth, 'The Industrial Muse' Martha Vicinus, 'Music and Tradition in Early Industrial Lancashire' Roger Elbourne, 'The Colliers' Rant' Robert Colls, songs and poetry by Scots miner Joe Corrie, weaving songs by Laycock and Bamford.....
In the sixties I worked through some of the radical newspaper press cuttings in Manchester Central Library, listing songs from their regular column. Eddie and Ruth Frow, the Salford historians gave me access to their library (then private) where I found many more
Picton library in Liverpool has a small collection of unpublished miners songs.'
In response to your 23rd 7.38 post, you know very well when I presented my findings to you we were discussing the general corpus of English traditional song as collected by the likes of Sharp, Baring Gould, Hammond, Kidson, etc. You won't find very many of the songs in the books you've mentioned in this corpus, and not a great deal of them have evidence of having been in oral tradition, and those that do only in their own limited area.

Some of your points I feel I've already answered and therefore I'm not repeating myself further.

You continue to misquote me 'much' = 'all'


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 04:06 PM

Rout/Route=old term for marching orders. Whether this has etymological connections with Jim's suggestion you would be able to check in one of the larger dictionaries like the Shorter Oxford.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 07:10 AM

Dictionary definition.
Route march - A long hard march by soldiers in training - a router one that routes.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 06:48 AM

>>This meaning of rout is a call up or deployment.

I've never heard that meaning of rout before, and can't find the etymology for it online. Is it slang?

Many thanks.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 03:55 AM

Not going to have much time on this today
"Overwhelmingly oral-traditional genres like superstitions, traditional tales, melodies, jokes, proverbs, and the like are far easier to remember, repeat, and elaborate with no help from print."
All of which Steve had rejected outright with his statement:
".....this is just not true, except one would presume with folk painting, much of the rest originated in high art!"
Which leaves what we know to be a creative people with no created culture whatever, only that made for them by the professionals - this suggests country people to be less creative than some of the most primitive peoples of the world - read Ruth Finnegan, Carl Engle, Wilbur Trask, C M Bowra..... all writing about oral literature created and performed by primitive, illiterate peoples.
There has never been any question that some of our folk songs started life on the broadside presses - Prof. Bob Thomson was working on this back in the late 60s, but to suggest that it virtually all was, flies in the face of reality - never mind the virtually non-existent evidence of our oral traditions prior to 1900.
I have always been left with an suspicion of selective manipulation of the few facts we do have when I read these arguments.
For instance, if non-literate Travellers like John Reilly had large and rare ballad repertoires, we are advised that they must have had access to the printed word - even though we damn well know they didn't.
If we are told that a songs was sung by a singer's great-grandparents, their words are treated with suspicion "unless there's a contemporaneous record".
There is far too much evidence of the desire - need even - of working people - humanity in general - to express themselves, their experiences, beliefs, opinions and emotions artistically, to write a whole folk culture off as being produced on their behalf by professionals - ham fisted "hacks" even.
There is no question that 'the folk' actually produced their own 'folk songs' here in Ireland - in this small town in the west of Ireland even - we have recorded and documented accounts of it having taken place.
It has been conceded that bothy songs were made by bothy workers.
There are many printed examples of songs and poems made by miners, textile workers and agricultural laboureres - why should not songmaking have been the general practice of all similar communities, as it has always been assumed it was by those working on the subject, and in some cases, much nearer to the facts of the matter than we are?
There is enough evidence to strongly suggest that it was, there is virtually no reliable evidence to suggest it wasn't, and such asuggestion flies in the face of logic.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 03:42 AM

As I have remarked before, it is the ability of folksong so often to teeter on the very verge of doggerel without ever quite tumbling in which I find so admirable. One feature of this is the use of such highly conventionalised 'poetic' phraseology as "in sorrow to repine", which has filtered down as 'appropriate' for the expression of feeling. Think of The Holmfirth Anthem {aka "Pretty pretty flowers"!}, with its "beautiful damsel lamenting for her shepherd swain"; its "wilt thou leave me thus, my dear?"; its "fairest evening that ever I beheld thee": mish-mash of half-digested poeticisms, but somehow just works all of a piece ~~ IMO anyhow. As so often, the beautiful tune helps ~~ surely not for nothing did RVW think Searching For Lambs [another example of the genre ~~ "I am thine and thou art mine"] the most beautiful tune he had ever heard.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 25 Apr 12 - 02:44 AM

We should not generalise a whole demographic.
Here is a witness of Trafalgar.
Not an officer but a common seaman.
Such a man could easily be imagined to compose such a line as "in sorrow to repine" as part of a song for the amusement of his shipmates or to impress the landsmen and girls.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2010/oct/19/battle-trafalgar-account-below-deck


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 24 Apr 12 - 05:06 PM

Well argued, Rob.

As I suggested before, there's an unmistakable stylistic difference between songs we know were created by people who, if not necessarily illiterate, were not creating a commercial product meant to appeal to the masses (even if they belonged to the masses themselves).

One doesn't have to be an expert to detect a completely different artistic sensibility between oral-traditional songs like "The Old Chisholm Trail" or "Goodbye, Old Paint" or "John Henry" or any sea shanty, and mannered compositions like "High Germany," "The Dark-Eyed Sailor," and "The Flying Cloud." No cheap printing of "The Flying Cloud" is known, but its style places it squarely in that tradition. Even if it never circulated in print or writing, its author (and I use the word advisedly) was influenced unquestionably by elite conventions (just consider the phrase, "in sorrow to repine") - and "The Flying Cloud" is one of the less sentimentally expressed 19th C. ballads. And that would be true no matter how much oral folklore he knew.

Overwhelmingly oral-traditional genres like superstitions, traditional tales, melodies, jokes, proverbs, and the like are far easier to remember, repeat, and elaborate with no help from print. The tales obviously come closest to the ballads, but how many unsatisfyingly brief versions of a Jack tale must have been told for every outstanding one? More to the point, except for a few requisite mannerisms and a unifying structure, how many folktales rely as heavily on flowery language as do so many 18th C. broadsides? Flowery language itself ("euphuism") seems to have been a fashionable development of the 16th-17th C. An unusually dedicated non-literate person might have mastered the style - with the proper set of unusual opportunities - but how far would his or her composition have been likely to travel?

Since we have so little solid information on how specific songs were created, and by whom, all general arguments about origin are based on probability. And the probabilities themselves are also uncertain. Ordinarily one can't show beyond doubt that a particular traditional song was created by a literate or a non-literate or a semi-literate person.

Even so, there's no evidence that I'm aware of that mannered or flowery language in English is a spontaneous "folk" creation employed by the average person. ("The Iliad" and "Beowulf" were created by specialists, and in a very different sort of tradition.) It's hard for me to imagine that mannered or flowery songs weren't based on literate convention, even if in some cases a truly non-literate person of unusual accomplishment actually created the song.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Artful Codger
Date: 24 Apr 12 - 04:10 PM

I have to side with Steve Gardham in thinking that a far greater percentage of "folk songs" were original creations for the broadside industry than were slight adaptations of pre-existing folk songs. Consider: the industry was primarily based in London, but there were printers all over the British Isles. If the typical source of broadside songs were folk songs, it stands to reason that these songs would likely have existed and spread for some time prior to the broadside industry latching onto them; thus, we would expect printers in various parts of the country to publish versions of these songs which varied significantly in their wording, as with folk songs collected from oral tradition. But most broadsides of a song that I have seen are surprisingly uniform in their language.

I also notice what Gardham has described regarding the "polishing": that the broadside versions contain not just flowery but downright awkward language that soon gets "ironed out" in oral versions, as we see from later collection, or even later broadside versions--and if the songs derived from oral tradition, rather than merely recycling common formulae in new works, they would be less likely to have such language added to them, considering the intended market. In contrast, there are also broadside texts of probable oral origin, where such artifices are noticeably lacking. One could investigate whether such texts were published at roughly the same time in significantly different versions; that should weigh more heavily one side of the debate or the other.

The intended market also explains the sympathies that the broadside ballads express wrt criminals and such--it's like modern films pandering to the (crude) tastes of teenage boys and girls. The writers may be capable of much better stuff, and hopefully have a higher moral grounding (aside from selling out to Hollywood), but the products reflect the demands and sympathies of the market, not the (radically different) personal tastes, political bent or educational level of the writers and executives pushing this tripe. Jim Carroll's objection based on sympathies simply ignores market realities. As for the sympathies being "seditious", how could they have been distributed from either source in printed form had the official censors viewed them so? The censors would not have applied a double standard based on the source of the lyrics.

So, to my mind, we do have evidence of oral vs. manufactured origins in broadsides. It's not the sort of irrefutable evidence that Jim Carroll seems to require, but it's corroborative, and constitutes, to my mind, a preponderance that comes as close to conclusive as one can ever expect. Despite the cachet that folkies desire that most folk songs we're familiar with were written by heynonnymous masses in the country, rather than by hacks in the cities, that doesn't seem to be the case for the majority of the songs which have been collected. This in no way detracts from the genuine products of oral tradition, or imputes the capabilities of folk poets or even discounts the propensity of the folk to versify; it merely argues that fewer examples of truly orally-originated works have survived than we'd like to believe, on balance.


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 24 Apr 12 - 02:33 AM

Keith,
Indeed but the likelihood of those songs getting into the national repertoire would be rather slim without the aid of print.


I agree.
Perhaps one in a thousand made it to form our "national repertoire."


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Apr 12 - 07:38 PM

"Whilst that still stands, and this is about the 20th time "
Not to me it isnt.
"every known version of 100s of ballads, stall copies and oral tradition"
As the collecting of traditional song only began in an organised way at the turn of the 20th century how do you manage to trace through 100's of versions and decide which (if any) originated on the broadside presses?
Today I pulled around a dozen books from the shelves containing songs made by miners, weavers and agricultural workers (some previously published, but most selected to illustrate the songmaking of working people)... 'Sharpen The Sickle' by Reg Groves (History of the farmworkers Union), 'Songs of the People' Brian Hollingsworth, 'The Industrial Muse' Martha Vicinus, 'Music and Tradition in Early Industrial Lancashire' Roger Elbourne, 'The Colliers' Rant' Robert Colls, songs and poetry by Scots miner Joe Corrie, weaving songs by Laycock and Bamford.....
In the sixties I worked through some of the radical newspaper press cuttings in Manchester Central Library, listing songs from their regular column. Eddie and Ruth Frow, the Salford historians gave me access to their library (then private) where I found many more
Picton library in Liverpool has a small collection of unpublished miners songs.
Walter Pardon sang a few songs which were made to support the re-setting up of the Agricultural Workers Union in East Anglia, notably 'The Old Man's Advice' A little more than your "examples .....from a few latterday writers/singers written in their retirement", don't you think
Working people have always made songs about their lives, in England as well as Ireland, yet you would have us accept that "they were too busy earning a living".
You mentioned back up the thread something about me not being able to provide info on 'Bonny Bunch of Roses'
Er no - I did no such thing; you provided 'evidence proving' it originated on a broadside, I asked you how you knew it hadn't appeared earlier in the oral tradition, you beat a hasty reatreat giving a somewhat patronising answer - yet no proof.
Which brings us back full circle; we have no idea of the traditiional repertoire other than the comparatively small number of songs collected from oral tradition in the 20th century and a few earlier.
We know for certain that working people made songs - ample evidence of thet both in Britain and Ireland.
Given all the questions that you have avoided or made a half-hearted attempt to answer (and failed IMO), you have no basis whatever for claiming that "the vast majority of them originated in these printed forms in towns under commercial conditions", and you certainly have no basis for claiming that you know which ones did.
"much of the rest originated in high art!"
Utter nonsense - folk beliefs and lore, tradititional storytelling, traditional dancing - all originating from high art. Where on earth do the Jack Tales appear in high art, or the jigs and reels played for dancing for centuries, or the traditional cures....
You really are on a mission to prove that working people had no creative culture whatever of their own aren't you.
Now where did I put that Kylie album?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origin: High Germany
From: GUEST,SteveG
Date: 23 Apr 12 - 03:00 PM

Obviously GUEST is me. B****y cookie's disappeared again.


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