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Dave Harker, Fakesong

10 Aug 15 - 05:57 AM (#3729307)
Subject: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Phil Edwards

Review here: Fakesong.

Some time ago, in a discussion on the Cat, I was taken to task by Georgina Boyes for bloviating on the subject of her & Dave Harker's contributions to the study of folksong without actually having read them. Fair point.

I have now read Fakesong - it took a while - and written a review. I'm not sure my opinion's changed very much, but it's definitely better informed.

Review of The Imagined Village to follow - probably in about 2017.


10 Aug 15 - 06:16 AM (#3729309)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Will Fly

Thanks for the blog review, Phil, which I found very interesting.

I've never read "Fakesong", as it happens, but was curious to see what you made of it after having read several threads/posts about that book on this forum over the years.

I've always thought it necessary to have a positive and firm agenda if you write a scholarly book, but it seems that the agenda of this work is so closed as to be pretty pointless - this from your review.

So, I can't see myself opening up "Fakesong" in the near future - but I'm tempted!


10 Aug 15 - 06:19 AM (#3729310)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Dave Hanson

You summed your attitude up with your first sentence, ' I'm not a true believer in folk '

I therefore fail to understand your purpose, and you really ought to know that the boredom factor of the average Mudcat user is 1 page length, so, all in all not a lot of point in posting it here.

Dave H


10 Aug 15 - 06:28 AM (#3729315)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Blandiver

Dave Harker set out to show that folk song did not exist. In the end, all he demonstrated was that he didn't want to study it.

Phil Edwards set out to write a review of Fakesong. In the end all he demonstrated that he didn't really agree with it.


10 Aug 15 - 06:35 AM (#3729316)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Phil Edwards

Jack Blandiver set out to... aah, never mind.

Dave - not sure I get your point. Not being a "true believer" ought to make me more sympathetic to Harker's debunking approach.


10 Aug 15 - 06:50 AM (#3729322)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: MGM·Lion

Can't help thinking this all a bit behind the fair. My brief review of Fakesong appeared in The Times of November 8 1986. Near as dammit 30 years ago. Still in print then? And still got readers? Crikey!

≈M≈


10 Aug 15 - 07:03 AM (#3729325)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,matt milton

Wow, thanks Phil. A lot of nails hit on the head there.If only all academics wrote as clearly and perceptively as you!

There's a big difference between disagreeing with the argument of a work; and demonstrating exactly how and why that argument is flawed. Your review does the latter.

I've wanted to read Fakesong for a while, and would have bought it if I could have found an affordable copy on Amazon. I don't think I'll bother now.

I had millions of similar problems with the Imagined Village - I eventually gave up in frustration over all the inconsistencies and muddled writing in it. The lack of conscientiousness angered me: it says it's going to do X (sort of), then does Y, then points to an instance of Z saying it's evidence of X. Woeful chicanery of bad faith.


10 Aug 15 - 07:27 AM (#3729328)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Phil Edwards

Matt - you're too kind! TIV is next on my list; I'm hoping for the best.

I doubt Fakesong is still in print, Michael - I borrowed the copy I read from a university library. I could have read it in 1985 - I'm old enough - but I only got into traditional music about ten years ago. People discover these things in their own time - rather late in my case, maybe.


10 Aug 15 - 07:39 AM (#3729330)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Lighter

A very fair review, Phil.

I read Fakesong not long after it appeared. Harker's passion initially impressed me. But his polemics undermine the valuable biographical and textual information he's gathered.

What Harker shows should (but didn't always) go without saying: that folksong texts and collections, like almost everything else, are complicated artifacts not to be taken simply at face value. Fair enough. But what he thinks he shows - that a pure proletarian art was vitiated by self-seekers and frauds - is rather different. So is the idea, as Phil says, that "traditional song" doesn't exist. Harker seems to confuse conceptual categorization (lumping similar things together) with difficulty of definition (saying just why they should be lumped together). By that standard, poetry clearly does not exist; in fact, few things do.

Harker's relentless attacks on long-dead enthusiasts, his dismissal of all their efforts as bad faith and (even in the case of great talents like Walter Scott) bad art, and his tendentious sorting of the world into simple class-based camps of good and evil, make Fakesong - even aside from its alleged fudging and factual errors - a rather unpleasant and less than satisfying read. However, it is worth looking at - with appropriate caution - for the light it sheds on collectors and interpreters.


10 Aug 15 - 08:44 AM (#3729341)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Will Fly

Harker's book is out of print - but you can get a used paperback copy from Amazon for £60 minimum...


10 Aug 15 - 08:48 AM (#3729342)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Will Fly

Checking the book on Amazon, I saw that there were two reviews, one of them containing this link:

18 Fakesong in an Imagined Village? A Critique of the Harker - Boyes Thesis

More reading for me...


10 Aug 15 - 09:01 AM (#3729344)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Phil Edwards

Yes, that's the David Gregory review I mention in my post. He's not crazy about TIV either.


10 Aug 15 - 09:12 AM (#3729347)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Will Fly

I thought his analysis of TIV (which I have read) was quite good. I discovered that Athabasca University is in Canada - I wonder whether they have a faculty or department which covers traditional music.


10 Aug 15 - 11:15 AM (#3729370)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Les in Chorlton

I think we have reached a consensus on "Folk" tunes:

.........the role of tune books has a very long and central history in the survival and evolution of English dance tunes.

One of the earliest publications was "The English Dancing Master" published in London in 1651 by John Playford. This volume contained the figures and the tunes for 105 English country dances and a number of the tunes first published there appear in our collection.

Across the intervening 350 or so years thousands and thousands of tunes have survived and evolved because people enjoy dancing together on social occasions and because they are great little tunes. Some were printed, published and sold in collections and some were written down with pen and ink by musicians for their own personal use. Sometimes musicians played for grand balls, dressed well and lived a good life. Others played elsewhere on the social scale. The tunes have passed back and forth between those who could 'read' and those who learned and played 'by ear'.

Has the journey for "Folk" songs been much different?


10 Aug 15 - 11:23 AM (#3729373)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

BTW if you want a copy of "Fakesong" it's going to cost you:

second-hand copies available


10 Aug 15 - 11:35 AM (#3729375)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: MGM·Lion

Blimey; will you look at those prices!

I've still got my original copy in prime condition. Will sell it to first to write to me with their address to send it to, for £15, inc postage, & will enclose invoice and trust to receive payment in return.

MICHAEL GROSVENOR MYER  
34 West End   
Haddenham  
Cambridge CB6 3TE


10 Aug 15 - 01:11 PM (#3729399)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

The best thing to do with songs is sing them.
Lets not beat about the bush Harker is an intellectual wanker.


10 Aug 15 - 01:25 PM (#3729404)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

He was wrong about a lot of things, but it's better that book had been written than not; there is useful and enlightening content in it. He was no more unreasonably opinionated than you are and wrote far better.

I'm not about to pay 60 quid (or even 15) for my own copy, though.


10 Aug 15 - 01:27 PM (#3729406)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,surreysinger sans cookie

Will. Athabasca University is a sort of Canadian equivalent of our Open University. Dave Gregory is, or was, an Associate Professor there, and the programmer for the B.A. (Humanities) course. His research area is the history of popular music, particularly the folksong revival in Canada and the United Kingdom.He has written a fair few papers on the subject, and published quite a few books, including "Victorian Songhunters: The Recovery and Editing of English Vernacular Ballads and Folk Lyrics, 1820-1883 (2006) and "The Late Victorian Folksong Revival: The Persistence of English Melody, 1878-1903 (2010)". When I was last in contact with him he was in the process of writing a work on Lucy Broadwood - I have not yet heard how that is/was faring. Hope that answers a couple of queries?


10 Aug 15 - 02:33 PM (#3729420)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

"He was no more unreasonably opinionated than you are and wrote far better."
hilarious and Grammatically incorrect, it should be
He was no more unreasonably opinionated than you but his writing style was better.


10 Aug 15 - 03:01 PM (#3729427)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Will Fly

Cheers, Irene - thanks for the info.


10 Aug 15 - 04:55 PM (#3729442)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Jon Lighter gives a very fair summary. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. It's unfortunate that such a highly criticised book is the only one so far that gives an overview of all the fakery over the centuries. The fakery exists in many different forms and was done for many different reasons.

By the way, Phil, I agree with much of what you say in the review but nowhere have I said that all English folk songs derive from broadsides. I strongly believe that about 95% derive from some form of commercial activity in towns (including broadsides) and I can demonstrate easily that 89% have their earliest extant forms in this medium.


10 Aug 15 - 05:12 PM (#3729445)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: oggie

From memory, it's a long time since I read it, in the intro he says something to the effect that this is written for my colleagues in the SWP to be the final arbiters of and I don't care for the judgement of any others.

At that point it couldn't go any further down hill, it was written as a point scoring exercise for one faction of the left over another faction. That central bias weakens it as a work that could have been a fascinating treatise and looms as the elephant in the room over it's many pages.


10 Aug 15 - 05:28 PM (#3729448)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Nicely put, oggie.


10 Aug 15 - 06:06 PM (#3729456)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Phil Edwards

Steve - thanks, I'll revise the review!

One of the things I found most frustrating about the book was that I really wanted to know more about the fakery - I'm fascinated by things like Child dismissing Tam Lin as a "grossly modern invention" or Chambers attributing Sir Patrick Spens to Elizabeth Wardlaw. On several occasions Harker indicates that some of such-and-such a collection was clearly faked-up and then leaves it there. The implicit question he's answering is "did the early collectors transmit the pure and authentic voice of the people?", the answer obviously being No. But that's not very informative. What I wanted to know is how much of those collections does represent products of oral culture (even if ultimately traceable to print sources); saying "Not all of them by any means" is a start, but it's only a start.

oggie - I've got the book here (balanced rather precariously on my knee as I type). It's got an odd structure: Introduction, 11 chapters, then a two-page Conclusion and a two-page Appendix devoted to Harker himself. As far as I can see the only reference to the SWP is in the Appendix - and he doesn't suggest at this point that other factions of the Left are wrong. Writing about himself in the third person, he says that in 1982 a series of work & political pressures "drove him to reading and writing so as to keep his head together." Then: "How far he succeeded in doing so, and whether the effort was worth it, will be best judged by his comrades in the Gorton Branch of the SWP and those in other socialist parties." That's the last sentence of the book.

You may have been remembering Chapter 11, which is rather unnecessarily rude about the Communist Party while talking about Bert Lloyd; I was going to say something about this in my review but thought I'd done enough complaining.


10 Aug 15 - 06:48 PM (#3729464)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

> "did the early collectors transmit the pure and authentic voice of the people?", the answer obviously being No.

Because nobody can do the impossible.

Taken together, however, and with special emphasis on 20th century collecting and recording as a control, they seem overall to have done a pretty good job - partly because the worst fakery is usually obvious (because so sophisticated) and, in a few cases like that of Baring-Gould, the fakers were proud of their work.

And if, for example, Burns was the principal genius behind the canonical "Tam Lin," so much the better for "Tam Lin."

It is good, however, to know who likely contributed what and when.


11 Aug 15 - 12:18 AM (#3729513)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Chris Wright

Michael - I've put a letter in the post to you today.


11 Aug 15 - 12:42 AM (#3729517)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: MGM·Lion

Thank you, Chris. As first to respond, you shall have precedence.

≈M≈


11 Aug 15 - 12:57 AM (#3729520)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Chris Wright

Thanks, Michael.


11 Aug 15 - 04:54 AM (#3729541)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,matt milton

"did the early collectors transmit the pure and authentic voice of the people?", the answer obviously being No.
Because nobody can do the impossible.
Taken together, however, and with special emphasis on 20th century collecting and recording as a control, they seem overall to have done a pretty good job - partly because the worst fakery is usually obvious (because so sophisticated) and, in a few cases like that of Baring-Gould, the fakers were proud of their work."

That's a good summing-up, GUEST. One of my frustrations with The Imagined Village (not having read Fakesong) is how little engagement there is WITH THE SONGS THEMSELVES. I can't actually remember there being any at all. It seems truly bizarre that anybody would write at length on this subject, yet not engage with the CONTENT. The words.


11 Aug 15 - 01:32 PM (#3729634)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

AS I wrote earlier mediating the material for publication over the centuries has been done for different reasons and in different ways so we have to be careful when condemning that we treat the perpetrators in the spirit of their own times and take into consideration their reasons.

One of the big factors was they were preparing the material to be accepted by a discerning literary/musical audience and for various reasons the material couldn't be presented as found. However there is a big difference between this and claiming the mediated material was printed exactly as it came from the memories of the sources when patently this is a deception.

In Sharp's case we have no problems with his bowdlerisation. He had little choice and his manuscripts appear to contain the genuine article. The problem here is his romanticising of the material leading people to believe the material originated amongst the peasantry of Merrie Englande when this is patently not the case.


11 Aug 15 - 01:52 PM (#3729636)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jim younger guest

When I read Fakesong, I was struck by the glee the author seemed to take in Alfred Wiliams's disappointing ( to say the least) last years. Now, if only AW had been a Marxist ... or a even member of a forerunner of the SWP ... he might have been given more sympathetic treatment.


11 Aug 15 - 05:24 PM (#3729677)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Steve Gardham makes an important point -
"Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater."


I read this book not long after it came out. My initial memory of reading it was initially how much I disagreed with it. But it also made me think deeply about the subject about why I disagreed with it and helped me form my own opinions. In fact this thread makes me want to read it again - but when I look at my shelves of folk music books, it is no longer there!

I can also remember disagreeing strongly with Bob Stewart's 1988 book Where is St. George? and found the disagreement thought-provoking.... though less stimulating than the Harker book because it was less well written.


11 Aug 15 - 05:39 PM (#3729678)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Ewan McVicar

My basic impression of Harker's book was that he appeared to marshalling 'evidence' he liked the look of to deliver what he considered would be a knockout blow against somebody or some people, but then never swung his fist forward. I was left rather bemused. I was interested to learn from Maggie Mackay of the School of Scottish Studies that she was similarly frustrated by the lack of delivery at the end. We were left puzzled at who it was he was trying to convict.
From the above it looks like others managed to get the point more clearly than we did.


11 Aug 15 - 06:17 PM (#3729686)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

Yesterday's 6:48 pm GUEST was me.


12 Aug 15 - 06:56 AM (#3729768)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Blandiver

I can also remember disagreeing strongly with Bob Stewart's 1988 book Where is St. George? and found the disagreement thought-provoking.... though less stimulating than the Harker book because it was less well written.

I found my old copies of both of these recently whilst re-arranging my folk-shelves. Even took a picture for Facebook (CLICK!) with the legend : A couple of Folkin' Classics nailing the extremes from the weird to the wonderful...


12 Aug 15 - 07:12 AM (#3729772)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

"Manufacture" sounds especially calculating in the context of cultural artifacts.

You generally need a team of some sort to "manufacture" (rather than "craft," "create," "make," etc.) something.

And in this case a team effort suggests (only rhetorically, of course) some kind of conspiratorial intent.


12 Aug 15 - 09:04 AM (#3729795)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,MikeOfNorthumbria (sans cookie)

A very interesting and informative thread. The linked reviews by David Gregory and Phil Edwards are both excellent, and both agree pretty much with my own responses to 'Fakesong' (some interesting ideas, but author appears to be in danger of drowning in his own bile') and to 'The Imagined Village' (also some interesting ideas, but they deserve a more balanced analysis).   

Both books seemed to be overly concerned with point-scoring and name-calling in factional disputes between small sects of scholarly and/or political enthusiasts. (Rather like the mutually hostile liberation movements in Monty Python's Life of Brian).

And yet ... when I heard Dave Harker give a lecture in Newcastle for the 150th anniversary celebration of the Blaydon Races ('Eighteen hundred and Sixty-two on a summers afternoon')he seemed to be a very capable scholar, and a decent enough bloke - an impression reinforced when I had a brief chat with him afterwards. Maybe he's mellowed a bit over the last few decades?

Wassail!


12 Aug 15 - 09:31 AM (#3729801)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Stanron

The 'conspiratorial intent' could have come from a need to validate / invalidate imperialism, upper / lower class superiority or exploitation, or any of a number of things. I've not read any of the books mentioned and not fully read the review linked in the first post but the bit I did read reminded me that I've long thought that the term 'Folk' was a construction in the mind of the collector rather than a truth and has had a number of different interpretations or definitions since first use. It's fair enough to point out that 'traditional' singers since Cecil Sharp might have considered their material as 'Folk' but the people who composed the ballads that ended up in the old collections probably didn't because the term had yet to be construed. They would have thought they were writing songs. The people who learned those songs were doing exactly what any spotty teenager today does when they learn a song by ? (actually I don't know the names of anyone who today's spotty youth would be listening to but the principle stands)

The name, Folk, is a convenient label but not something I can be seriously pedantic about. I like my music acoustic, intimate, rootsy, honest and beautiful. I like to think that it is a natural part of everyone and not the preserve of a talented few and I prefer it to be unpolluted by any kind of political or commercial agenda. Calling it folk is a nice simple act of categorisation.


12 Aug 15 - 10:11 AM (#3729812)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

Harker was arguing - at least to some extent - that "British folk music" is a "bourgeois" categorization of something essentially like any other kind of music enjoyed by the working class.

See the countless threads on "What is folk music?" for endless, though usually less Marxian, discussion.

Fakesong reckons "folk music" as an empty concept faked up by and for outsiders out of a patronizing, hypocritical sentimentalism, and - once their artificial fad had caught on - their self-serving ambitions.

IMO, the reality was neither so stark nor so mischievous.

IMO.


12 Aug 15 - 10:16 AM (#3729813)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Georgina Boyes

To clear up a few points.

The Imagined Village is about the ideas that underlie the emergence and development of the English Folk Revival. What shaped the proposals that there was a 'Folk' in England and why did people feel their culture was in danger and needed reviving?

I wasn't by any means the first to suggest that the whole concept of the Folk as it came to be presented over time by most Folklorists and then later by Folksong collectors was illogical and bore no relation to the real people who sang, told stories, danced or took part in the customs at the end of the 19th century or into the 20th. The heading of Chapter 1 is a quote taken from Joseph Jacobs (1854-1916) who wrote in 1893 that the Folk was 'a fraud, a delusion, a myth' and simply 'a name for our ignorance'.

Jacob's whole, short article is still relevant today and could potentially reduce the amount of misinformation in some contributions to this discussion.

Also, I've written quite a lot of articles and sleeve notes that engage with the content of songs, but this particular piece of work was about the Folk rather than the specifics of what they sang.


12 Aug 15 - 05:42 PM (#3729907)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

I am sure it is more interesting than Maos' little red book, now there really was someone who was a bollocks.


12 Aug 15 - 06:02 PM (#3729910)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>Fakesong reckons "folk music" as an empty concept faked up by and for outsiders out of a patronizing, hypocritical sentimentalism, and - once their artificial fad had caught on - their self-serving ambitions.<<<<<<< Jon.

There is some obvious truth here. Nearly all folklorists in the past can be accused of being selective and reading far too much into the artefacts they sought to record. Selective in what they chose to ask for and selective in what they sought to publish. However they manipulated the artefacts the concept cannot be described as empty, so in that respect Harker was definitely wrong. As some posters have already said folklore (and all other uses of 'folk' as a prefix) is not a scientifically fixed concept, it is an umbrella word that can be described but not easily set down with distinct limits.


13 Aug 15 - 01:45 AM (#3729957)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: MGM·Lion

folklore (and all other uses of 'folk' as a prefix) is not a scientifically fixed concept, it is an umbrella word that can be described but not easily set down...
.,,.

...and also surprisingly modern; first used in English [presumably derived from German volks], it appears, by W J Thoms in 1846 (see my entry on 'Folklore' in The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Literature - 2003). Before that such terms as "popular" [as still used later on by Child], "household" [as in the translations of the Grimms' collections of German folktales] &c would be used.

≈M≈


13 Aug 15 - 01:53 AM (#3729960)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: MGM·Lion

"Thoms is credited with inventing the word 'folklore' in an 1846 letter to the Athenaeum. He invented this compound word to replace the various other terms used at the time, including "popular antiquities" or "popular literature". He was fond of the works of Jacob Grimm, which he considered remarkable." -- Wikipedia


13 Aug 15 - 03:07 AM (#3729970)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

My main problem with the fakers is not that they did it. In most cases they had valid reasons and were of their time, but all of them had the opportunity to come clean at a later stage, when they mostly regretted what they had done; but they didn't and now their works are tainted because we will never know to what extent they faked the material. This was Child's greatest exasperation with the material if you read his correspondence.


13 Aug 15 - 05:08 AM (#3729995)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Phil Edwards

Is there a ballad-by-ballad commentary on Child anywhere? I'm thinking of something that would go through each ballad printed by Child & document

where Child got it from (as far as we know)
any concerns expressed by Child and others (e.g. Chambers)
any reasons we might now suspect major rewriting or outright fabrication (e.g. single sourcing)
and conversely any examples of the same or a similar song being collected independently - for instance, Child only had a thoroughly prettied-up version of the Holland Handkerchief, but the song was collected later in Ireland.

Is there a scholarly edition of Child with all of that in, or has anyone written a Companion to Child...?


13 Aug 15 - 05:28 AM (#3729999)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,matt milton

Didn't most of Child's collection come from printed broadsides? And from earlier ballad collections? (Many instances of which are now readily available to view online.)

I also read that he deliberately excluded some ballads due to sexual inuendo (such as 'The Crabfish') – which suggests to me that he favoured exclusion rather than bowdlerisation.

Doubtless someone much better informed than me could confirm.


13 Aug 15 - 07:15 AM (#3730021)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Inevitably in a thread like this, other books have been mentioned for comparison with Dave Harker's book. I mentioned Bob Stewart's Where Is St. George? and Mike Tickell mentioned Georgina Boyes' The Imagined Village.

Personally, I would not be happy to see the three lumped together. The Harker and Stewart books seem to have the authors' own agendas shining through them at the expense of the facts or research. People who have met her will know that politically Georgina is of the left but the careful research and presentation of her book cannot be denied. The pre-2nd World War EFDSS had many worrying unattractive qualities and these were detailed in her book. It was a top-down authoritarian organisation and those at its centre did not like their opinions to be questioned. There was a prevailing strong misogynistic attitude and the work and achievements of women workers in the field was undervalued and what is described as at least a sympathy with Fascism existed.

Steve Gardham wrote -
we have to be careful when condemning that we treat the perpetrators in the spirit of their own times and take into consideration their reasons.

....and this was as true in the 1930s as it was in the times of Scott. Child and Sharp, but what Georgina wrote needed to be said.


13 Aug 15 - 07:35 AM (#3730025)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,matt milton

Well Vic, suffice to say that I felt obliged to mention The Imagined Village because aspects of Phil's Fakesong review reminded me strongly of my experience of reading TIV.

But to express my thoughts properly on that book, I would have to re-read it and write a detailed review, like Phil's

And having noticed that Georgina Boyes has contributed to this thread in commendably civil and to-the-point fashion, I will say no more about it.


13 Aug 15 - 09:12 AM (#3730037)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Phil Edwards wrote -
"Is there a ballad-by-ballad commentary on Child anywhere? I'm thinking of something that would go through each ballad printed by Child & document.... where Child got it from (as far as we know)


There is none that I know of but might not Bertrand Harris Bronson's 4-volume The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads or even his abridged 1 volume The Singing Tradition of Child's Popular Ballads be the sort of thing that you are seeking.

Both are available from Pete Shepheard's website by clicking here. Of course, you may have to re-mortage your house to get them for as Pete points out - "second hand copies of the four volumes have been fetching well over £1000."


13 Aug 15 - 09:46 AM (#3730046)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Phil,
The ESPB itself is still the prevailing commentary on each of the 305 ballads. Yes, further versions have surfaced since his time and he was largely blissfully unaware that some of these ballads existed on his own doorstep. The first stopping point for all scholars is still usually what Child had to say about the ballad in his headnotes to each ballad. The next point might be Bronson or finding out if anything further has been done on a particular ballad. There are some glaring errors but these are simply because he didn't have the necessary information at that time. For instance, many of his notes to Child 20 actually apply to 21 but from the info he had he wasn't to know that.

Matt, yes most came from existing collections. Child was a scholar and editor, not a collector. Some came solely from broadsides (e.g. most of Robin Hood ballads) but not that many.


10 Jan 20 - 05:02 PM (#4027561)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I've read a lot about this book, including this thread, but only just begun to read it. Just after the library says it will get hold of a copy for me, I discover it is online at the archive.org web site. I discovered this by chance when googling. So I'm sharing the knowledge, since 2nd hand copies are expensive.


10 Jan 20 - 06:12 PM (#4027568)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Pseu,
When you've finished reading it, if you are interested, I can give you some concrete examples of fakery by some of those accused, but as we've said earlier for the majority of those accused, we simply have no way of knowing the actual extent of it. There are some excellent academic books and theses not so well-known that go into the fakery that was taking place in the eighteenth century. David C Fowler is excellent in this respect, and I've come across several academics who imply that many of the ballads in the Child canon were deliberately fabricated by sophisticated hands in the eighteenth century, and this continued through into the early-nineteenth. Chambers may have been wrong when he attributed many of them to one writer, but his thesis may have been correct if applied to several writers, all possibly co-operating or being tutored.


10 Jan 20 - 07:03 PM (#4027572)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Steve

This is a very kind offer; I really do appreciate it.

I read some of your comments on this book already, and would indeed be interested.

I know something about Lloyd's 'tinkering', having read some material on this eg the work of Gregory. I know there was some 'tinkering' with one of the singers covered by Hillery, the collector had to give him word sheets as he could not remember the words to the songs. (Did I read this in Atkinson somewhere?). Having been suspected of actually being Dave Harker (on the MacColl thread) I am interested to read his book at long last.

Thank you again
Tzu


10 Jan 20 - 07:05 PM (#4027573)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I also agreed with some of the points Lighter makes in this thread.


10 Jan 20 - 07:10 PM (#4027574)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe Offer

Here is the URL for the book. I'll change it to a link when I get home.


https://archive.org/details/FakesongD.Harker/page/n2


11 Jan 20 - 03:41 AM (#4027601)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Not going to be around long enough to participate in this, but for a ballad by ballad analysis, you might try 'The British Traditional Ballad in North America by Tristam P Coffin - by no means complete, but some excellent commentaries and excellent

Harker's 'Fakesong' is one of the most damaging work sever to hve been written o folksong in my opinion
Harker relied on the support and generosity of people who knew ald loved folkson far more than he did - I believe he betrayed that trust - I actually heard some of those who helped him say as much
At the time he said publicly (at a Sheffield conference, I think) that the hostile reception he was being given forced him into refuse talking questions when he spoke
Unforunately he has now become the darling of some researchers who wish to debunk the work of the pioneers

Child may have been "only an editor" - his strength was his reliance on te work of collectors
He expressed his contempt for and mistrust of broadsides as clearly as anybody else ever has
It is to his credit that he had the integrity to use when he had no alternative them, rather than ignore them
They are largely pretty awful
Jim Carroll


11 Jan 20 - 05:20 AM (#4027620)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Steve: by the way, I know that I am not so well-informed as some on this site, but my interest is genuine and I do have some knowledge of the literature. I know about the discussions on Percy, for example, one of the people Child drew on. In fact Child worked very hard to get hold of Percy, did he not? By the way, my educational background in case this is of interest is that I 'majored' as they say in the US in English and Psychology (hence the interest in social science research methods, which overlap with those of ethnomusicology to some degree). I know some theory of music, play piano and guitar (badly) and used to play melodeon for traditional clog dancing. I am also interested in politics: I once read a book with a lot about Trotsky in it, by a US sociologist called C Wright Mills, but have forgotten almost everything about it, it was about four decades ago, and I know some current SWP members, (very good on anti-racism they are too) so I have a rough idea where Harker is coming from viz a viz the CPGB.ñ


11 Jan 20 - 05:31 AM (#4027621)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Steve: re the comment above on Child not being a 'Colector.This is right. I also think I have a handle on Child. He was a philologist (who also taught history and maths). In his day English Literature as we know it today did not really exist as a subject. As you will know, Atkinson at some point describes/discusses what Child did with texts. I also have a selected bibliography and discography on Child somewhere by Atkinson. Child was not a 'literary critic' as this might be understood today. So his main contribution on Chaucer related to the grammar not to character or poetry analysis. Haven't read Harker on Child yet, started with the intro and went to the Chapter on Lloyd, having already read two long bits by Lloyd including the Penguin on folk song, and the biography by Arthur.


11 Jan 20 - 08:38 AM (#4027648)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Nick Dow

I have yet to hear a definition of a 'Fakesong' that I could understand, or with which I could agree.
I have sat in front of singers of the old songs from all walks of life, and watched them point out the alterations they have made to the songs they learned from their father, who in his turn learned it in the pub from a singer who was not a blood relative. (Traditional??)
I watched an old singer from Dorset, look at a set of words, suggest a tune, (The Manchester Angel) and then tell me the tune was used in the village for the Lincolnshire Poacher. Yes I collected all of the songs. Anyone able to tell me which is the Fake? Simply retreating into a quibble about definition, or suggesting the whole concept of Folk song is a lie, will only result in the attachment of yet another label to the same musical medium. I suggest we allow ourselves some guilt free subjectivity, and put Harker back on the dusty shelf where he belongs, allowing Fakesong the footnote it deserves.


11 Jan 20 - 12:43 PM (#4027690)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I have been trying to summarise what Harker says he is doing, the account he gives in the introduction of what the argument of the book will be. His concept of 'mediation' is important. I started by looking at that because he calls the people whose work he discusses 'mediators'. Two examples of mediators are Child and A L Lloyd. The former compiled a famous selection of ballads and the latter was, among other things, the writer of an influential book purporting to set out a history of 'folk song' in England, 'Folk Song in England' as well as an earlier shorter piece on the same topic.

Harker says that 'mediation' refers not just to the fact that people (the ones he discusses) passed on songs they had taken from other sources but also to the fact that what they passed on may have reflected their own 'assumptions, attitudes, likes and dislikes' in that these determined what they looked for and what they accepted and rejected. In addition, Harker points out that what he calls 'material' factors were involved, such as the fact that some people had the time and resources to engage in their mediating activities at all. He says that the class position of those doing the work and their ideologies will have been connected in complex ways. The latter is a classic Marxist point, I suppose.

The term and concept 'mediation' seems to have been useful: Dave Hillery makes use of it in his comparative thesis related to Jack Beechforth and three other singers. It is on page 24, 69, 95, 152, 157, 320. The thesis is here: https://theses.ncl.ac.uk/jspui/handle/10443/158

Hillery suggests that some singers themselves engaged in 'mediation' with Joseph Taylor offered as an example. He also suggests that collecting a song shorn of its customary context is another form of 'mediation'.

So it might be interesting to discuss whether this concept of mediation is valid and useful? Just a suggestion.


11 Jan 20 - 02:02 PM (#4027701)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Hi Nick
Not sure if you're referring to the book title or just the concept in your final sentence. Personally as you would expect from my previous comments it matters a great deal to researchers into the history of individual songs. My own thought on the examples that you give is that any mediation by source/vernacular singers is simply part of the vernacular tradition, call it what you will.

However, sophisticated editors mediating material and then trying to pass it off as directly from tradition, is not just deception (whichever way you look at it) but causes a great deal of misinformation in research.

Whether there is a grey area between the two is something I have not yet looked into.


11 Jan 20 - 02:13 PM (#4027703)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Although I have read recently some lengthy academic papers That go into the history of how the word 'folk' was evolved to be attached to lore/tales/music/dance/song, and they try to claim with some success the terminology is heavily flawed, I think everyone here knows that whatever their limitations are they are real and can and are applied to a specific body of material. My only get out clause is that I don't accept that the boundaries are as rigid as some would have it.


11 Jan 20 - 02:29 PM (#4027706)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

A decent but lengthy start to reading about fakesong is the ESPB itself. Reading, as I have frequently, Child's headnotes to each ballad, you can't escape from the fact that Child heavily criticised, occasionally with sacrcasm, many of the versions, particularly in the first 3 volumes. (For some reason after that he suddenly went silent...I have my suspicions why), particularly the overegged versions of Peter Buchan.

If you want a very short summary, just before he died, see p182 in vol.5, his parting shot.


11 Jan 20 - 02:31 PM (#4027708)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Tzu
It matters to me 'Jacky Beeforth'. I never met him as far as I know, but his neighbour is a good friend of mine.


11 Jan 20 - 07:24 PM (#4027736)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Steve. I apologise profusely. Grey cells faltering ? - as previously discussed. Thank you for pointing out my error with your usual courtesy. I appreciate that.


11 Jan 20 - 09:59 PM (#4027748)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: RTim

I guess I should read the copy that has been in my bookshelf for at least 20 years sometime...but is it really worth it??

Tim Radford


12 Jan 20 - 03:48 AM (#4027753)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"but is it really worth it??"
It should have been the most important work to have come out of the latter years of the the 20th century but turned out to be an exercise in book-burning, based on the old building trade adage that "it's far easier to tear down something somebody else has built that to put up something yourself"
I'm afraid that philosophy seems to have caught on with some when you read some of the comments on the work of pioneers like Child and Sharp
Unless the folk scene learns to incorporate the work of all instead of hastily sweeping it aside to make room fo the latest craze, fols song scholarship will become like putting on clean socks every morning
These pioneers may have made mistakes, but many of them actually met the people whose songs they wrote about and listened to what they had to say
There are very few of today's desk-jockeys who can make that claim

I found 'Fakesong' and 'The Imagined Village' to ahve the most negative and depressingly difficult works on folk song I ever forced myself to read

Jack Beeforth
We were given recordings of this singer by a late friend, Dave Howes - interesting stuff
Unfortnately the rerecordings were made in difficult circumstances - Jack was very ill at the time - bedridden - and the recording set their machine onto 'automatic', so they are not of the best quality

Dave Hillary had a holiday home in Whitby, last tine I met him
Jim Carroll


12 Jan 20 - 04:13 AM (#4027754)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Tim
Any controversial book is always worth reading. The fact that it is so controversial means, if you can avoid the obvious political agenda, you can find some very useful information. It brings together much of the past very real concerns we have over the mediation of the editors from Ramsay right up to Bert. Whilst this information has very little interest to most of the people on Mudcat who are happy with what is set in front of them, serious researchers want to know the truth, or at least the greater likelihoods based on their own detailed research.

Here's a valid analogy: Do we accept the version of history presented to us by the elite, and what happens when new research shows some of this to be plain lies, or heavily biased?


12 Jan 20 - 04:24 AM (#4027755)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Do we accept the version of history presented to us by the elite,"
"Elite " is an unbelievably loaded accusation
These people did the work - we didn't because the tradition was dead by the time we got to it
Our understanding must be based on what they found and our own common sense
Smearing the pioneers by branding them as "elite" is the last thing we need
This is getting as bad as the attacks on Walter Pardon
Jim Carroll


12 Jan 20 - 06:08 AM (#4027763)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Steve I can't really claim to be a 'serious researcher' in this instance. But I think your reasoning applies just as well to, say, an enquiring reader taking a serious interest.

In Harker's favour, he is explicit about his political/theoretical stance and his intended authorship. Some would argue that all researchers should do this.

Harker's book came out before Arthur's biography of Lloyd. I've read that. Because of Harker's political slant, I think he is quite good on Lloyd's pro USSR, CPGB-related slant, and the effect of this on Folk Song in England that I had thought myself. He is also quite good on how Lloyd used his party connections to get work and forge a career, though I felt he could have pointed out that Lloyd must have had and is reported to have had, good social skills to do this. I know and can see to some extent why so many people regard Lloyd's history as a bible, and as inspirational, but I think Harker is quite good on its contradictions and on the extent to which (and here I use my own words) Lloyd just wrote stuff for which he did not (and possibly could not) provide either reference or evidence. Again, this reflects my own thoughts on Lloyd.

It is an interesting read, though I agree that at times, not being one of Harker's intended audience, I find the tone a bit off-putting.


12 Jan 20 - 06:12 AM (#4027764)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Grey cells again, I should have put 'intended readership'. In Harker's case the members of his local party branch, of course.


12 Jan 20 - 06:22 AM (#4027765)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

When is this witch-hunting of people whose political views conflict with that of our pet troll going to end
Sharp was a Fabian socialsi hmanitarian so that excludes his opinions, it would appear
Loy'd, macColl Gerry Sharp Alan Bush and many hundreds of those who launched the present folk revival can play no part in ur considerations
As for all those leftiess like Eric Bogle and Leon Rossleson, who used the tradition to prodice some of the best left-humanitariian songs
I wonder if Mrsh Thatcher or Norman Tebbitt had anything to say on folk song - now that might put us on the right path to understanding folk song....
Please let this stop now before someone exorcises the spitit of senetor Jowe and demands we sell our friends out
Politics should never play a apart in these discussions
Jim Carroll


12 Jan 20 - 06:31 AM (#4027767)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I was interested to see that Harker cited Terry Eagleton as one of his influences. I have several books by Eagleton, including one on Shakespeare. He argues, delightfully, that the three witches are the heroines of Macbeth (though, he says, Shakespeare did not realise this himself) because they expose a reverence for hierarchical social order, the 'pious self-deception of a society based on routine oppression and incessant warfare'. Linking, perhaps, to Steve's point on the opinions of elites?


12 Jan 20 - 06:36 AM (#4027769)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

DO NOT BELIEVE WHAT HIS MAN HAD TO SAY - HE'S BIASED
Jim Carroll


12 Jan 20 - 06:51 AM (#4027772)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish

Steve Gardham
> Here's a valid analogy: Do we accept the version of history presented to us by the elite, and what happens when new research shows some of this to be plain lies, or heavily biased?

Jim Carroll
> "Elite " is an unbelievably loaded accusation
These people did the work - we didn't because the tradition was dead by the time we got to it.

Jim, Steve may care to clarify, but surely he was suggesting an analogy with history in general, most of which was indeed written by a more-or-less elite. I don't think he was commenting on the social status of the collectors. FWIW most of them were middle class, but not all of them.

And BTW, you yourself have written about your own collecting from a tradition that may have been past its prime but was certainly not dead.


12 Jan 20 - 07:19 AM (#4027774)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Then we write off history, literature, science.... and virtual every other achievement made by humanity that was aarrived at by a educated elite, do we?
Of course we don't
Dave Harker is of the higher educated elite in Britan as things stand at present, which makes him suspect by those rules
The significance of Sharp et al is that they recognised as being of the people
Of cours the tradition as a whole as dead, all but a few survivals among the Travellers
The Irish settled singers had participated in a living tradition but they all insisted it was of the distant past
The situation changed when the people became passive recipients rather nan active participants of their creative cultures - that is getting more and more the case, even in the revival
Jim Carroll


12 Jan 20 - 08:12 AM (#4027778)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Thanks for that simple explanation, Richard. You are of course correct.


12 Jan 20 - 08:45 AM (#4027784)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Howard Jones

For those of the Harker/Boyes persuasion it appears that their only interest in folk song is that it represents working-class culture. They don't seem to be very interested in its artistic merits.


12 Jan 20 - 10:15 AM (#4027788)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I have an essay by Atkinson in which he discusses the points of view of Child and Sharp which gives me a well argued and reasonable alternative to Harker, while having some degree of broad overlap. It's called The Ballad and Its Paradoxes. I think I found it on JSTOR. It was a Katherine Briggs Memorial Lecture in 2012.


12 Jan 20 - 10:52 AM (#4027794)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

not every controversial book is worth reading, eg mein kampf


12 Jan 20 - 11:05 AM (#4027795)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Yes, Dick, to be clearer, what I would have put if it wasn't already obvious was, any controversial book in your particular field is always worth reading as I would assume 'Mein Kampf' would be to anyone interested in WWII history or the rise of the Nazis.


12 Jan 20 - 11:27 AM (#4027798)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Nick Dow

I'm still waiting for the definition of a Fakesong. Is it a song re-written for whatever reason by a collector? What if the 'new' version is absorbed into the tradition,and sung a couple of decades later, then collected again with still more alterations? Is it still Fake? Is it Fake because of the 'class' of the collector, but OK if the alterations were made by a retired country ploughman of factory worker?
How many collectors working in the field have been presented with a gem of a song, but then discovered that the singer learned it at school from C#'s book. Do we switch off the tape recorder, or is that elitist?
By the way Caroline Hughes descendants and friends learned her songs from Kennedy's cassette tape after her death, I know I was there and discussed it with them. Are they traditional singers? None of it adds up really for me. The best that can be achieved is pointing out alterations and deceptions and giving the reader a choice. I remember Roy Palmer commenting on one of Bert Lloyd's re-writes- 'Would you rather have that or not?' The good manners of owning up to a rewrite was notably missing in Bert's case, but it does not warrant the mauling that Harker gave him (or anybody else who got the same treatment). Grind your own axe by all means, but don't chop anybody up with it, it might end up on your own head.


12 Jan 20 - 11:35 AM (#4027799)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Thanks for the heads up about it being online Pseudonymous. I've read Part 1. For now that is enough for me to accept the opinions of most reviewers. I may come back to it when I read about one of the later 'mediators'

It's a curious work of scholarship that, right from the start, presents all the 'data' in the context of its conclusions (or initial prejudicies?), the way one would setting out a conspiracy theory - "and then there is this.."

His treatment of John Broadwood (pages 84-85) is interesting. I don't think he found any 'mud that will stick'. From Harker's description Broadwood seems to have 'packaged' what he took the trouble to collect (adding harmonies but keeping the tune) rather 'mediated' it. Is 'Peasantry' condescending when it comes from a 19th century toff but not when 20th century Marxists are forming 'Peasants Associations'?


12 Jan 20 - 11:36 AM (#4027800)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Richard, The combative tone in which Steve stated his alternatives indicated that somehow the status (whatever that meand) made Sharp and his collegues either biased or downright dishonest

Do we accept the version of history presented to us by the elite, and what happens when new research shows some of this to be plain lies, or heavily biased?
There is no "new evidence" that they were either
Certainly they were of their time as were all pioneers, and they made mistakes, but to denigrate their work, although now fashionable among the Neo researchers, I find unacceptable and openly offensive (especially remembering the lifelong pleasure their work has given me)
I have to say that when I first stated my reservations on the theory that over 90% of our folksongs originated on the broadside presses I was met with the same insulting responses
All Steve can offer is his own opinion - nobody knows for certain the answer to any of these questions and probably never shall
Unless we can conduct these discussions with respect for each other and thos who came before us we stand to lose everything we have got so far - and the songs with it, if they lose their uniqueness (a serious possibility as things are going)
Our own researches among source singers indicates that while the old crowd seem to have got some things wrong, that got far more right than they are being given credit for

Incidentally, at the same time as I was being accused of being a "starrty-eyed naivete for beiliving that the folk created their own folk songs I was also told that the Peter Buchan controversy had been long done-and-dusted
That is far from the case as well
Jim


12 Jan 20 - 12:01 PM (#4027808)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Georgina Boyes

Howard Jones must obviously have read the many popular and academic articles, album notes and radio and live performance scripts I've written over the years to be able to comment so knowingly that my sole interest in folk song "is that it represents working-class culture" and that I'm uninterested in the "artistic merits" of traditional song. Will he give specific quotes from my writing to demonstrate this?


12 Jan 20 - 12:42 PM (#4027813)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Hi Lo

To me it is the "controversial" books that ARE worth reading, including Mien Kampf. If we only read those things that raise no questions or set off alarms, we will never understand both sides of a story.
As for "elites"..I hate that word, it is always used as a pejorative, as if having attained expertise through hard work amounts to an unfair advantage.
I would like very much to read the book in question because it IS controversial.


12 Jan 20 - 01:31 PM (#4027825)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Nick Dow

OK I'll have a go then..
Fakesong a term used for a Traditional Folk Song that has been altered or censored by an individual without the approval of Dave Harker.


12 Jan 20 - 02:30 PM (#4027834)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish

Jim: >Richard, The combative tone in which Steve stated his alternatives indicated that somehow the status (whatever that meand) made Sharp and his collegues either biased or downright dishonest

Some of the earliest collectors were certainly dishonest: messing about with what they collected and passing it off as authentic. And it seems pretty clear that Bert went so far as to invent sources for a few songs that he cobbled together. But I don't think any of us are claiming dishonesty for Sharp and the other collectors of that period, except maybe an occasional exception like Baring Gould's practical joke on Child about The Brown Girl.

As for being biased: yes they certainly were, at least in how they chose what to collect and what to ignore. They collected the sorts of songs that they had gone out looking for. One can agree or disagree with their bias but one can hardly deny it.


12 Jan 20 - 04:24 PM (#4027859)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

On the basis of my reading so far:

Harker's central topic isn't which songs are and are not folk songs, it's as much or more about the historical narratives that the mediators told about these songs and about the subjectivities and cultural attitudes and activities of people in the past. For example Lloyd's book on folk song in England.

So one thing he criticises about Lloyd is his assumption that he knows what people in the olden days would have been thinking and feeling, about what Harker calls their 'psychology'. He gives examples of statements about such things that he finds lacking in evidence. I think this is probably a fair point.


12 Jan 20 - 04:34 PM (#4027861)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Nick, your post presents a multiplicity of scenarios, all of which deserve individual responses, most of which I can only answer with a personal opinion. Before I answer them, what is your opinion on the mediations made by Percy, Scott, Buchan, Jamieson, and notoriously the one mentioned by Richard for which there is undeniable proof.

Despite what one usual suspect is writing no-one I know is blanket criticising anyone. We all appreciate the enormous beneficial work done by those who have gone before us, but we should not treat them as gods. It is useful at least to researchers to be able to point out their errors if only for better understanding of the subject.


12 Jan 20 - 04:44 PM (#4027862)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

On the basis of my reading so far, which isn’ t as far as yours Pseudonymous Harker says nothing about the historical narratives that the mediators told and is unconvincing about the subjectivities and cultural attitudes of the mediators. Its as if their position in his Marxist scheme of things leaves nothing to say.

In Part 1 the folk don’t seem to exist.

Maybe this discussion will convince me to read on.


12 Jan 20 - 04:47 PM (#4027863)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>What if the 'new' version is absorbed into the tradition,and sung a couple of decades later, then collected again with still more alterations? <<<<<
I think I have come across probable examples of this. The simple answer is if they have gone back into the tradition then they are traditional but any researcher worth their salt would want to know about the mediation. Your Sharp example fits in with this. I can only answer personally, I have just read DaveH's thesis and he gives an example from Frank Hinchliffe's repertoire. I also have come across examples. Personally I record everything and present everything so it doesn't affect me. However, I must confess that having recorded as much of a singer's repertoire as possible I would personally value those songs that had more likely been much longer in tradition. I can't speak for others. What about you?


12 Jan 20 - 04:50 PM (#4027864)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>>I remember Roy Palmer commenting on one of Bert Lloyd's re-writes- 'Would you rather have that or not?'<<<<
deja vu here. I've said on many threads I don't know anybody who didn't admire Bert's mediations. It's what he said and didn't say about them that worries researches. To the singing community, and I'm part of that, they are diamonds.


12 Jan 20 - 04:57 PM (#4027866)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

This idea of offspring learning the songs of their parent traditional singers from tapes has occurred before. Roger Hinchliffe had little interest in his dad's songs until Frank passed on. Ian Russell then persuaded him to take on his dad's repertoire, and he now performs this repertoire at song gatherings etc. Personally I can't see anything but positives in this. There is certainly no deception so we are out of the realms of 'fakesong' here, obviously. There are 2 points perhaps to make which I don't think will be controversial. Future researchers will be able to come along and compare the versions sung by the parents and their offspring, and anyone wishing to go direct to the source can easily do so. Of course to anyone just interested in singing this is all irrelevant.


12 Jan 20 - 04:57 PM (#4027867)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

100


12 Jan 20 - 04:58 PM (#4027868)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Joe
if that juvenile last post upsets any of your mods just delete it.


12 Jan 20 - 05:06 PM (#4027873)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

So far as ‘handing on’ is concerned is learning from a tape all that different to writing down grandad’s old song and then later becoming known for singing it?


12 Jan 20 - 05:18 PM (#4027878)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Interesting question which also leads to how we treat any learning of a song using modern technology. We've had similar questions before such as the validity of learning songs from YouTube. To the vast majority of people none of this is any sort of issue.

The only perspective I can give you is that all of my family songs I now sing I learnt after I became a folksong collector. I don't consider myself in any way to be a source singer, but that's just my opinion.


12 Jan 20 - 05:35 PM (#4027879)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Nick Dow

Thanks for those detailed responses Steve. I will take a back seat for a bit and give them some thought.


12 Jan 20 - 05:41 PM (#4027880)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Possibly through ignorance on my part I am not convinced about the concept of a source singer. If in the past a song could skip generations, possibly with the help of something written down ‘first hand’, or skip families if it was a neighbour not a family member who picked up thread, or at greater distance was picked up from the pub in the next town or a traveller family who passed through then I am not convinced that you singers of the last revival will not be seen as just another step in the songs’ journeys in 100 years time. And thats without the possibility that their may have been a diversion into a broadside or chapbook somewhere along the way.



in 100 years time


12 Jan 20 - 05:44 PM (#4027881)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

A polite request. Can we distinguish please clearly between 'Fakesong' the book and 'fakesong' the phenomenon? Otherwise things could get confusing.

As far as I'm concerned fakesong implies deliberate deceit on the part of the faker so this isn't a general discussion of how songs are passed on.

Apart from a very few examples none of the first revival collectors claimed their published songs were not bowdlerised and all of them left us with the corpus of material as taken down to best of their ability. Any deception came in the form of how and where the songs originated and in that sense there was definitely an agenda well documented.


12 Jan 20 - 05:47 PM (#4027882)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Jag: Thanks for your comment. I read the into and then moved to the bit on Lloyd. Lloyd does spin a narrative, in his book on Folk Song in England. You may well be right about the early chapters, I'll see when I go back and read them, but Harker does criticise Lloyd's account, on various grounds, lack of evidence being one.


12 Jan 20 - 05:53 PM (#4027885)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Hi jag
I don't think anyone is saying all of this is cut and dried. There are many overlaps and grey areas. However most of the academic pieces I am avidly soaking up seem to suggest (and Jim is also saying it if I read him right) that what went on in families and communities when the songs were passed on orally/aurally can no longer take place in anything like the same way as it did prior to say 1920 (arbitrary). There is no cut off point as it was gradual process. Nearly all of those survivals are gone or will be gone in a few years. (We can argue about a very few possible exceptions) but this is the general situation. One thing that has replaced this (and it is just one thing) is that thing set up and known as The Folk Scene, or the second revival, which ought to be considered as perhaps a new tradition with new methods of transmission.

Apart from that who knows what researchers in a century's time will make of it?


12 Jan 20 - 08:11 PM (#4027903)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Nick Dow

Thanks Steve, Deliberate deceit on the part of the Faker, in the light of that definition do you or anybody else have any views about C.J Bearman and Mike Yates opinion of Harker?


13 Jan 20 - 06:31 AM (#4027950)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Can't be "passed on orally"
I am saying no such thing Steve- of course they can
To reduce the tradition to the passing on of songs is to superficialise it - it is far for complicated than that and involves identifying taking ownership, localising and adapting the songs by communities rather than individual adaptation
The tradition ceased to exist when people stopped making songs or when print made significant adaptation unlikely
The songs were repeated rather than owned and they lost much of their social significance - the listeners became bums-on-seats rater than active participants and re-creators - then the media and 'popular' (in the 'pop' sence replaced the tradition
One of the most significant things we discovered in our work in the West of Ireland was the existence of a massive repertoire of locally made songs. largely anonymous, created to cover almost every aspect of human existence   
One local man described them - "If a man farted in church in those days someone made a song about it"
We thought this was limited to Count Clare, but it transpires that every County in Ireland had similar
Those songs drew from and fed into the older traditions - when they died, so did the song-making (a few local song-makers carried on) but their songs are always identified with the maker and not claimed for the 'folk'
This is only a small part of what constitutes the tradition

I have no doubbt that the British people wwere just as capable songmakers as the Irish - the bothy songs, or the radical 19th century pieces to express grievences, or the improvised shanties, or teh miners songs from the pit areas... all are examples of the "common man's" ability and desire to make songs expressing their lives and feelings

"Usuasl suspects" is a term of abuse used by "usual suspects"
We all know how each other is going to respond in certain arguments - I certainly know how you are as you know how I am
Such terms of abuse will, at the very least, foul the atmosphere of any discussion (at the very least)
Leave it out please Steve
Jim


13 Jan 20 - 07:09 AM (#4027960)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Thanks for your response Steve (and sorry about the typos in my post)

Jim - how does the 'ownership' of songs differ from common courtesy appropriate in situations where people get together to share songs, tunes and stories? It's bad manners to come out with someone elses 'party piece' or start the tune that someone else always starts.

I think the question is on topic because it relates to 'mediation' in the way Harker uses the term. I meant to ask on the Walter Pardon thread, where it struck me that though it was important in the context of him recording his recollections it wasn't special in the context of a boy learning to fit in with the behaviour of his elders.


13 Jan 20 - 07:30 AM (#4027965)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Are you suggesting the clubs, based on songs once made and owned by communities of the past are communities in themselves
Usually nowadays the songs sung there are either oned with a little (c) attached to them or have been copyrighted as arrangements
I gat tired of someone standing up ans saying "I'll sing a Martin Carthy song" and blasting out a three-hundred year old ballad
What goes on in clubs is 'revival' of old forms (or is supposed to be but quite often isn't
"Folk" and "tradition are two sides of the sem coin - one denoting who the songs belonged to, the other, the journey they had made to become what they were
That's gone now - it's hard enough to get the songs recognised as "the songs of the people" nowadays - (although Topic have done their best with their magnificent series)
Make no mistake, the older singers differentiated between the folk songs and those they picked up from the music halls and popular performers
The eternal Big Lie was that they didn't
Jim


13 Jan 20 - 07:52 AM (#4027969)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

I am not suggesting anything of the sort.

From my experience of non-club social occassions where people 'make their own entertainment', and I include pub sessions in that, the idea of not 'singing other peoples songs' is so normal as to be not worth mentioning except to crass newcomers.

So I am left thinking that the collectors who make much of 'ownership' of particular songs (in the way Walter Pardon describes first-hand) are describing something else that I need explaining to me.

Either that or the collectors who make a fuss of it are standing outside of an alien culture looking in. Most of the 'source singers' grew up in a time when people started work at 14 or earlier and so were adolescents working alongside adults. Very different from most, but not all, of the collectors.


13 Jan 20 - 07:56 AM (#4027970)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Sorry, missed the Preview box.

... the collectors who make a fuss of it are standing outside of an alien culture looking in and describing it to others on the outside - 'mediating' in Harker's terms.


13 Jan 20 - 08:26 AM (#4027974)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"'mediating' in Harker's terms."
"Reporting" in common parlance
the losdaed term "mediating" automatically assumes censorship and bias - not proven by anybody to date - certainly not Harker
"that I need explaining to me."
I'm more than happy to do that - I have done so on other threads
I would have liked to do so in relation to Walter but we've been forbidden to talk about him for a month
Most of us - collectors and singers of folk songs - are from a different (alien's a funny word) culture which is why we need to discuss and understand it
Folk songs are certainly entertainment, but the cultural baggage they carry makes them so much more - unwritten history being only part of this
Jim


13 Jan 20 - 08:50 AM (#4027977)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>>The eternal Big Lie was that they didn't<<<<<

Can't let this one go as the truth is almost exactly the opposite of what is being claimed. WP was very much an exception in his compartmentalising of songs.

I'll tell you what, Jim, you give me a list of all those English source singers who compartmentalised like this and I'll give you a list of those that definitely didn't and we'll see who gets the furthest.

It was largely the collectors who were compartmentalising and the singers only did it to please the collectors.


13 Jan 20 - 08:57 AM (#4027979)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

jag
These are just as much 'communities' as anything that went on in the nineteenth century, different of course, but still communities.


13 Jan 20 - 10:51 AM (#4028018)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"WP was very much an exception in his compartmentalising of songs."
There is no evidence whatever that this is the case      - the singers were never asked at the time there were living traditions and, (at the risk of being accused of repetition) the little we did, both with the Travellers and in the West of Ireland, points to the contrary being the case - like they say in QI - "Nobody Knows"
It shows a degree of contempt for the traditional singer to suggest that they didn't differentiate between the different genres in their repertoire - folk song is unique in both its form and its function - if I can spot that, why can't a rural singer
Again, at the risk of being accused of repetition, I never get tired of quoting jEan Richie's account of her collecting in Ireland in the 50s

"“I used the song Barbara Allen as a collecting tool because everybody knew it.
When I would ask people to sing me some of their old songs they would sometimes sing ‘Does Your Mother Come from Ireland?’ or something about shamrocks.
But if I asked if they knew Barbara Allen, immediately they knew exactly what kind of song I was talking about and they would bring out beautiful old things that matched mine, and were variants of the songs I knew in Kentucky. It was like coming home.”

That was our experience exactly - they knew the difference and were well able to describe them when asked
One of the greatest gaps in our knowledge of folksong is the view of the singers, which has lefr the field wide open to adopt the "simple countryman who didn't know any better" to our view of singing
Jim


13 Jan 20 - 10:58 AM (#4028022)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>>"simple countryman who didn't know any better"<<<< That statement must have come from the first revival middle-class collectors. None of the collectors I know ever said anything like that.

Jim, I'm sure you'll soon put me right, but the impression I'm getting is that you only have any amount of knowledge of one English country singer, the number of times you mention Ireland.


13 Jan 20 - 01:47 PM (#4028073)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

None of the collectors I know ever said anything like that.
Amen too that Steve – it was said to us by a well, known folkie (initials T. F.) (brother-in-law of Tom Munnelly), in response to our description of Walter expressing his opinions on different songs
Full quote “How could he think that, he’s a simple countryman – he must have been got at”
It is repeated every time someone suggests that the old singers didn’t discriminate between their different genres of songs, albeit in different words, as you did above Steve
“WP was very much an exception in his compartmentalising of songs.”

In our experience, singers were very aware of the differences though you had to approach them with a little thought, as Jean Richie did in my example

I would have replied to this earlier but we’ve been out of electricity for a couple of hours thanks to Storm Maggie Thatcher (we name our storms differently on the West Coast of Ireland
Jim


13 Jan 20 - 02:05 PM (#4028083)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Beware of Storm Boris, it'll be a lot worse!

Jim,
This is a genuine suggestion and you may already have done it. Dave Hillery's thesis is readily available online. Just Google 'Dave Hillery Thesis'. It's a longish read but well worth it. And contrary to what I said elsewhere it is very academic, very knowledgeable and very well researched, BUT accessible to the likes of thee and me. He compares the lives and repertoires of Jack Beeforth (N Yorks), Walter, Frank Hinchliffe (West Yorkshire) and Joseph Taylor (N Lincs). It even mentions the contributions of one Jim Carroll.

I would be very pleased to read your thoughts on it.

Non-compartmentalisation or compartmentalisation of repertoire have got sod all to do with a singer's intelligence or worldliness. it is affected by a whole set of factors.


13 Jan 20 - 02:50 PM (#4028089)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Don't you think it a little to academic for me Steve -- after all !!!!
I communicated with Dave at length before he wrote it

I confess I find most academic-speak extremely pretentious and impenetrable
I once attended a lecture by Mike Pickering at a Sheffield Conferencem along with my friends, Barry Taylor and Terry Whelan - none of us understood a word of what he said (Terry has recently done a course in social Anthropology at Salford University)
I wrote a review of the lecture for Dance and Song and mentioned our difficulty
Mike took up my review in the next edition of D and S - all three of us didn't a word of his response
His book is one of the few that lies unread on our bookshelves

I once made it a rule that I wouldn't spend too much time reading stuff I wouldn't give to people like Tom Lenihan and and Walter to read - I understand far more easily what they had to say than I do those who write in "the language that the stranger does not know (to quote a mushy Irish song)
I'll think about it if I think I'm going to live that long
Jim


13 Jan 20 - 04:06 PM (#4028099)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

There are 344 pages in the thesis bit. I can empathise with the language barrier. However, I think like me you would be able to follow his thrust. There is some technical musical stuff in there but you can always skim over this like I did.


13 Jan 20 - 04:26 PM (#4028101)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

On the subject of academic works being impenetrable to us plebs:
I must have joined a website called Academia at some point and they keep sending me emails of attached copies of theses and published papers. Whilst most of them are indeed very heavy-going for the likes of us, they can contain a goldmine of info, and we mustn't forget these people have been going into this from the far end of a fart so they leave no stone unturned.

The latest one was on the works of Ravenscroft. What I could follow was fascinating. All the evidence displayed which went into detail on his life story would suggest that all of the material in the 4 books came from other printed and manuscript collections and from contemporary plays. Whilst he was an anthologist like Child the material was largely London-based and was intended for the use of the well-to-do there. Of course that doesn't affect the half dozen or so pieces that eventually were recovered from oral tradition in later centuries.


13 Jan 20 - 05:02 PM (#4028113)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish

I haven't read Fakesong and, having regard to the damning criticisms of it, I am little inclined to read it. Therefore it is from a position of ignorance that I enquire: is Harker's notion of fakesong to do with the collectors misrepresenting the content of the songs (by bowdlerising or other distortions) or misrepresenting the status of the songs as products of the peasantry? Or what?


13 Jan 20 - 05:15 PM (#4028114)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

What.

It's not reproducing the cliches you're imagining. And it isn't hard to read - far easier than Jim Carroll's unformatted rants despite being many times bigger.


13 Jan 20 - 05:21 PM (#4028117)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

I think that's part of the problem with it, Richard, I think he tries to cover all of these. It's a while since I read it but I do have an exercise book full of notes on it as it's a subject I've researched myself. Much of what he has to say about the mediators is fairly well-known in academic circles anyway. For me it's his dogged determination to put political spin on all of this, when in reality their mediation was done in different ways and for a variety of reasons, some of them quite reasonable for their time and station.

Let's look at Percy for instance, the man who it is accepted sparked off all this middle-class interest in balladry after it had almost disappeared. If he had simply reproduced the 17th century manuscript and given whatever other fragments he was sent he would have been laughed out of the literati. As it happened he rewrote most of it and only selected what he thought would go down well with the literati. Result, a burgeoning interest in balladry all over the continent. He inspired nearly all that followed him, particularly Scott, lots of German poets, the Grimms. Unfortunately for us today most of them followed his methods, though they also had similar reasons for their mediation.


13 Jan 20 - 05:45 PM (#4028126)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Part of the claim by Dave Harker which is certainly what academia believes is not so much that the editors mediated the material, but that they stated or implied heavily that the material they published was not mediated at all. Part of the problem was also that the correspondents sending material to the likes of Scott had already mediated it themselves. There is proof for some of this but the even bigger problem for us now is that we have no way of discerning exactly how much and to what extent the majority of the material, say in Child, was mediated by sophisticated editors. Child gives his opinions but in my opinion he was grossly understated. But again he had good reasons. Just like Scott and Percy he had to shift books. No-one wants to buy a book full of fakes.


13 Jan 20 - 06:22 PM (#4028136)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish

Steve, thanks for those clear explanations.


14 Jan 20 - 04:14 AM (#4028209)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Far easier than Jim Carroll's unformatted rants"
For Chrst's sake Jack give your vendetta a rest
I haven't insulted you - please have the decency to do the same
You find wahat I have to say boring - I'm sure I and others would find the vies of a self-admitted ignoramus on tradition music equally interesting - the difference being that twe would probably be too polite to say so

"Whilst most of them are indeed very heavy-going"
I get regular Academia postings and find the ones that interest me comparatively easy to read
I was referring to the impenetrable neo-folkese language which has appeared on the scene and seems to be designed to confine the discussions to a Folk-Freemasonry - I suspect there might be a secret handshake involved somewhere
I never found theoretical works easy - my Secondary Modern Education didn't prepare me for that, but I gradually learned to cope with most
Now I find myself having to plough with some stuff with a dictionary at hand
- sometimes that doesn't help as words appear that aren't included in standard dictionaries

I'll give you an example
A while ago our local history group produced a festschrift in honour of a well-know folklorist
Articles poured in from Britain, Ireland and the US and Canada - a wonderful set of essays on mainly song
One, from a highly respected and skillful academic was chosen as the first article - an excellent contribution - but difficult to read
Had it been placed otherwise theer wouldn't have been a problem
Unfortunately, local people, mainly farmers, saw the book in the shop with the photo of the researcher being honoured "I know him" - turned to the first article and put it back on the shelf
You probably know the book in question

If you are writing about 'The Music of the People' it's good manners (and common sense) to write in a form 'The People' can understand (unless your aim is to set up exclusive private clubs)
Mine is to make folk music as accessible to as many people as possible again
Jim


14 Jan 20 - 04:32 AM (#4028210)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"No-one wants to buy a book full of fakes."
I find this a scandalous thing to suggest Steve
The idea that these people were writing to "shift books" is abhorrent - first time I've ever come across it
I have little doubt that they did what they did because they were caught by the subject and wanted to oppress on their love and interest
I'm sure many would be offended if I suggested that many researchers today were trying to overturn the work of over century folk song deveotees to gain a reputation for themselves
Harker and hsi acolytes were writing as if there was a strict set of rules concerning what you were and were no allowed to do with folk song and ballads when you came across it - there wasn't
Many of them genuinely believed that they were improving them by re-writing them - not "fakery" or "dishonesty" - a genuine attempt to ppass them on in an "improved" form and a noble, if misguided one
A few, like Motherwell, had the insight to recognise the beauty of the vernacular language and warn against tampering with it, but most didn't
I find it ludicrous that many who participated in the Peter Buchan kicking match were doing exactly the same thing, to one degree or another
The irony, of course, is that Buchan produced some of the best and most singable ballads - as well as some of the worst gluggers
I find today's 'Jason Bourne' approach to the work of past giants is largely based on smug hindsignt
Jim


14 Jan 20 - 04:54 AM (#4028215)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"wanted to oppress"
Whhops
"express and pass on" of course
Something for Jack Campion to pick up on
Jim


14 Jan 20 - 09:49 AM (#4028268)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Jim, you're doing it again! kneejerk reaction with response totally out of context.

Nobody would be foolish enough to suggest Child's only motive was to sell books. However he has a publisher, Houghton & Mifflin, who won't publish his work unless it conforms to certain standards. If he's constantly slagging off the works he's including (which he did quite a lot in the first few volumes) they're going to pull the plug. Don't forget like many nineteenth century works like this it was published in parts over a long period (10 to be precise) If you look very carefully at all of his comments the critique suddenly disappears about half way through. I don't think it is unreasonable to suggest that H&M were putting on pressure for him to do this, especially as many copies were being sold in the places the mss came from.

I was obviously exaggerating for effect to make the point. The works aren't full of fakes, and that's the point; we know some are because he told us so, but as I said earlier the big one is we don't know the extent of it. Can I ask that you reread Vol 5 p182 for his parting shot just before he died. Tell us what you think he is trying to say there.

Would you like me to flag up all of the pages where he makes comment on the veracity of various versions? Mainly Buchan, but there are others.


14 Jan 20 - 10:09 AM (#4028270)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>I find today's 'Jason Bourne' approach to the work of past giants is largely based on smug hindsignt<<<<<<

You are of course welcome to your opinion, Jim, but all of the researchers I correspond with are simply trying to seek the truth, as am I. The alternative is to sit back and take everything they wrote as gospel. Too much of that going on in the world and in my opinion that's why the planet is in the current state it is.


14 Jan 20 - 10:32 AM (#4028281)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Jim, I'm asking a big favour here. Please would you when someone criticises something from the past, be it MacColl, Sharp, Child, Peter Buchan, could you think about it a little before reacting....could they be right to some degree, or at least give a response that actually presents some proof that this isn't the case, or at least respond with a calm reasoned opinion.

I know you think we are sometimes patronising when we praise you (but we're not intending that and it's insulting when you praise someone and they throw it back at you.)

I am not trying to wind you up!


14 Jan 20 - 11:14 AM (#4028285)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim, but all of the researchers I correspond with are simply trying to seek the truth, "
Express an opinion, don't you mean
Do you have any evidence to prove that these people were concerned with selling their books
I think Harker, and his hit-mens made the point quite strongly that these people were of a class that didn't have to worry too much about the little that would have been forcoming from such sales
Is there any evidence that DChild doctored hi texts to please his publisher ?- first time I've ebver heard of it

Are you aawre of the implications of that accusatyopn ?
Every ballad scholar sing the clollection was published treated it with the utmost respect, Geould, Gummere, WWmberly, Pound.... right through to Broson and beyond
All os a sudden we learn that they have been reliing on doctored texts
I have no idea what Hortin and MIfflin's standards were - were they really low enough to demand tampered texts?
If they were, why should someone who spent as long as chald did bow to such pressure
Why has it taken so long for this to hit the fan ?
Whare can I find reference to this shock-horror scandal
Frankly - I think it is utter nonsense
Buchan is a different issue - we've been there before
This is about money
I most certainly "don't tak everything (or anything as gospel"
I question everything - but when something has been around for as long as ESPB has, I'm happy to accept that they are worthy of trust
This really is a case of modern desk-jockeys smearing the giants
Distasteful, to say the least

As for "all of the researchers I correspond with" we've been here before, haven't we ?
I remember early arguments on your astronomical claims of how many folk songs originated on the hack presses
You presented your claims as definitive and were scathing when I questioned it
When I asked for evidence, you offered me a list of people who agreed with you
It took a long time to establish that there was not an shred of evidence and your claims were merely your opinion (or wishful thinking)
I've had experience of Harkerists in the past
Pat was onvce told by one of them that what we reported to have found out from Travellers was wrong because "I did a course on them at Uni"
Must get my annyual anti-academic vaccination in case I catch Deskjockeyitis
This really is undermining everything we thought we knew about folk song - bigtime
Jim


14 Jan 20 - 11:43 AM (#4028291)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

As for thinking before I react
This is the second time yous tarted a major discussion (which this is) without evidence, but have told me I'm gullible if I don't immediately accept what you say
It's wearing somewhat thin
Jim


14 Jan 20 - 11:45 AM (#4028292)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

A polite discussion on Child and his sources is certainly worth having, but back to the actual book for a moment...

‘Fakesong’ is certainly essential reading to anyone interested in our subject, but it should be approached with a sceptical eye, a familiarity with alternative accounts, and the foreknowledge that this is a polemic, not an impartial work of scholarship. Personally I found it useful in summarizing the work of certain collectors pre-Child, and of Alfred Williams, but even at first reading certain logical non sequiturs leapt off the page. Harker’s confidence in his own notion that the mother of Sharp’s singers Louie Hooper and Lucy White was a broadside seller, increases from ‘may have been...’ to ‘was almost certainly...’, within the space of ten pages, for example, without any evidence being presented for the proposition beyond the fact that she knew a lot of good songs.

Lighter’s excellent post of 10 Aug 2015 alludes to “alleged fudging and factual errors” but, having examined the evidence, I’d put it stronger than ‘alleged’. C. J. Bearman’s right-wing politics and irascible personality were off-putting to many, but I’ve checked some of the critique of Harker in his Ph.D. thesis (available online here) and, on the specific issues of the demographics of Sharp’s Somerset singers, and his editorial practice, he makes a compelling case. The point about demographics was that Harker offered a statistical analysis of the singers and their places of residence to show that Sharp’s categorization of them as rural agricultural workers was inaccurate; Bearman, however, found many questionable assumptions and arithmetical errors in the Harker’s figures. Harker has since conceded that he got some of his figures ‘jumbled’ but, as Bearman remarked, “it is a very interesting variety of mistake which so consistently produces errors in favour of the argument being presented.”

On the matter of text reworking and bowdlerization, Bearman was able to show that at least some of the examples cited by Harker were false, and provided his own analysis of 25 published songs to show the degree of textual editing was minimal in many cases, and simple augmentation from other singers’ versions in others.

Bearman died in 2013, and in 2017 (17 years after CJB’s first publication) Dave Harker finally responded to his analysis with an extraordinary 4 page letter published in the Folk Music Journal, including 39 bullet points of rebuttal – which did not, to my mind, address Bearman’s most serious points. There then followed a lengthy series of claims based on Cecil Sharp’s American diaries, with quotes apparently selected to show him in an unfavourable light. I carried out my own analysis of these (see my paper on Sharp’s Appalachian collection published in the FMJ in 2018), and found, for instance, that Harker had over-estimated Sharp’s US earnings by a factor of more than three in one instance, and that even the expensive pair of pyjamas Sharp purchased in the US (a fact of doubtful relevance in the first place) had somehow doubled in price. Those pesky mistakes again.

The reason some previous contributors to this thread have told us that reading ‘Fakesong’ wasn’t a pleasant experience is, I’m sure, because of the relentless negativity in tone, particularly about the character of the collectors. It includes plenty of quotes from their manuscripts, letters and publications – Harker had clearly done his research – but they are selectively edited to portray them as grasping cynics who had no regard for the singers they met, while anything that might give a favourable impression is rigorously excluded. On p. 159 we find a quote from Baring-Gould beginning “I had in old Hard...” Just those five words are sufficient to convince Harker that Baring-Gould regarded Robert Hard the ex-stone-breaker (who died shortly afterwards) as “rather like a dumb animal”, from whom the Reverend could “extract all that was left of Hard's cultural property, and then let the forces of nature do their worst.” You have to turn to Martin Graebe’s excellent biography of Baring-Gould to learn that the clergyman collector presented Hard with takings from a concert exceeding Hard’s annual income, and then took pains to ensure that the gift didn’t result in the man’s dole being stopped.

Likewise in ‘Fakesong’s chapter on Cecil Sharp you’ll find several references to Louie Hooper, but none to her own testimony of a friendship with the collector that extended to shared excursions and gifts including a concertina. You will, however, find plenty about Sharp’s greed, in statements like “He was still trying to pump Rockefeller and Yale University for cash in 1917” – which, when the cited reference is followed up, turns out to refer to what most people would call a ‘grant application’ for funds to continue the research (which was, incidentally, unsuccessful). In the field of Sharp’s politics, his reference to ‘the Arian race’ is (of course) quoted, but without the context that clarifies the Sharp’s meaning as ‘Indo-European culture’, and nothing resembling Hitler’s fantasy. When Harker quotes Sharp in 1917 as admitting to “taking the taking 'the conservative view in politics'", a check of the actual passage in his diary reveals that Sharp took “the conservative line” in a particular argument on a social occasion - probably for the sake of Devil’s advocacy; it does pay to check the original quote!

There are many, many more instances like this. My attitude is that, while I can of course forgive the occasional error, as soon as I see one piece of dodgy scholarship, or a blatant agenda, I begin to distrust everything. There may indeed be much useful and accurate information in ‘Fakesong’, but I can take little of it at face value. One of the things I’ve learned in my work on Cecil Sharp (and this is by no means confined to Dave Harker’s writings) is that the very people who shout the loudest about ‘bias’ and ‘selectivity’ are very often carrying a mountain-sized burden of both around with them.


14 Jan 20 - 12:20 PM (#4028294)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Okay, Jim. I've tried. That's me out.


14 Jan 20 - 12:25 PM (#4028295)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Excellent post, Brian
With a bit more meat on it it would make a great article for FMJ!


14 Jan 20 - 12:48 PM (#4028301)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Okay, Jim. I've tried. That's me out."
Well actually, you haven't Steve
You made a definitive statement about Child and others
I asked you to provide evedence, and a lsit of other questions, You called me gullible (again) for not believing you
You have yet to provide a single shred of evidence for your somewhat spectacular claims
You haven't begun to try
I await ansers to thos questions with eager anticipation

I wan't aware of Bearman's politics and I did find his outbursts at the time somewhat over the top, but as Brian says, he was positive and more prepared to set the work of the collectors in contest than Harker ever tried to be
Given this, his views on Hreker, coincided with those of a great deal of others at the time who calimed that Haerker had betrayed their trust by misusing the help they had given
I also found David Gregory's account of them far more approachable as a balanced work
I attended a talk Harker gabe at MacColl's 70th birthday sypmposium, where some of his descriptions of the work of the Critics Group were so off beam that a number of the Group in the audience shouted out corrections from the floor - this was after the break-up

There have always been questions surrounding - there are similar reservations about all work carried out by pioneers breaking new ground for the first time
This "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" approach is as destructive as it gets
Jim


14 Jan 20 - 01:09 PM (#4028308)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

I am not following this. Steve Gardham didn't start this discussion and he didn't revive it. The last post in it's previous life in 2015 was by Steve and in that he was recommending Child's work.

Worth hanging round for posts like that from Brian Peter's though


14 Jan 20 - 01:34 PM (#4028310)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

Outstanding discussion, Brian.


14 Jan 20 - 02:31 PM (#4028316)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Thanks for the comments - I did take a bit of time over that post. But another FMJ paper, Steve?? Don't know if I've got it in me...

Going back to an earlier post of Steve G's, I'm interested in the following and would like to know more (although it might warrant a separate thread):

"There are some excellent academic books and theses not so well-known that go into the fakery that was taking place in the eighteenth century. David C Fowler is excellent in this respect, and I've come across several academics who imply that many of the ballads in the Child canon were deliberately fabricated by sophisticated hands in the eighteenth century, and this continued through into the early-nineteenth. Chambers may have been wrong when he attributed many of them to one writer, but his thesis may have been correct if applied to several writers, all possibly co-operating or being tutored."

I would probably have regarded this as heresy a few years ago, but my work on Appalachian variants (many of which derived from ballads taken to North America by 18th-century migrants) makes me wonder. For instance, all the numerous Appalachian versions I've seen of Child 68 'Young Hunting', end with the conversation between the murderess and the talking bird, whereas just about all of the texts in Child from Herd and Kinloch onwards proceed considerably further with the story, often to such supernatural elements as the corpse-candles on the water, the bleeding cadaver, and the fireproof maidservant. This at least suggests the question of whether there was an as-yet undiscovered version of 68 doing the rounds in the 18th century lacking all the supernatural stuff and, if so, at what point the embellishments to the story were added. I don't think there's any early print version to help us out.

I see that Fowler is available online for a fiver, so it looks like I need to read that one, but I'd love to know who the other academics are and what' if anything, they've published on the matter.


14 Jan 20 - 02:54 PM (#4028320)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

No worries, Brian.
They are certainly relevant here. I'll give you chance to read Fowler (incidentally and rather oddly recommended to me by someone on this very thread. ta very much) and then I'll flag up some of the others. Worth finding Chambers' accusations in the middle of the 19thc but it often is referred to and quite rightly shot down as it is somewhat far-fetched. I tend to print off a lot of the academic stuff so I can easily have a skim through these for relevant papers. One of the main general claims by some of the academics is the bulk of the ballads were manufactured or rewritten during the 18thc using Scandinavian versions, English broadsides and well-known stories. Others cobbled together by bits and pieces from other ballads. T.F Henderson's edition of Scott also has some info but I haven't seen a copy of that.


Off hand I can't remember the pair who shot to pieces some of David Buchan's claims, but will have a look.

Worth a close look, a comparison between Earl Brand and the Douglas Tragedy. Both based on Scandi ballads but I maintain TDT is a rewrite of EB.

Also the most suspect ones have got to be those that occur in single versions only, and guess who contributes most of these.


14 Jan 20 - 02:58 PM (#4028323)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Of course the other very important resource is your magnificent pristine set of Bronson. Those ballads either not in Bronson or only there in a couple of versions speak volumes.


14 Jan 20 - 03:09 PM (#4028328)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Another great resource is the published correspondence between the editors, by the likes of Mary Ellen Brown. There are only useful snippets here and there but they build up to a general picture.


14 Jan 20 - 04:47 PM (#4028345)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish

> David C Fowler is excellent in this respect

Would that be "A Literary History of the Popular Ballad"?


14 Jan 20 - 04:48 PM (#4028346)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

That's the one, Richard.


14 Jan 20 - 04:54 PM (#4028348)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Unfortunately I can't find any other work of his that relates to ballads. He finished his book with a hint that he might go beyond the year 1800 but I haven't seen anything. He would have done a much better job than I could. In order to expand on what Child did you would have to have the time and access to Scott's, MacMath's manuscripts and whatever Aberdeen have got.


14 Jan 20 - 05:19 PM (#4028351)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Do we know why the forgeries were done? Say for financial gain through fraud, or out of mischief, or by someone who fancied their hand at what would now be called 'fantasy' writing?

There are 'new' songs around now that might 'pass for trad' that were written to sing for fun or to earn some money.


14 Jan 20 - 05:53 PM (#4028364)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Hi jag,
I wouldn't exactly call it financial gain although it plays a secondary part in that people like Scott wanted to make a name for themselves and needed to sell books to maintain their status in society. Patronage also came into it. Certainly Scott and Buchan had the patronage of powerful people. It is pretty obvious that Buchan was trying to emulate Scott and he went to great lengths to try and sell his manuscripts, but he was suffering financially at the time as was Scott occasionally in trying to keep Abbotsford running, quite a substantial country residence. In Scott's case I don't think you can use the word fraud or even mischief. He was following in the footsteps of Percy. unfortunately those that came after Scott and Jamieson were competing for sales with already well-established ballad editors and Buchan went way over the top in what he claimed. The biggest motivation especially in the 18th century was linked to the need of literary Scots to establish their separate identity from their southern powerful neighbours.

There are certainly new songs around now that pass for trad but as far as I know none of their authors have tried to pass them off as trad. If anyone took one of my songs for trad I would take that as a massive compliment. 'Bring us a Barrel', 'Shoals of Herring' and 'Fiddlers Green' spring to mind.


15 Jan 20 - 03:55 AM (#4028410)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

I intend this to be my last contribution to this topic and to this forum - I consider being unable to discuss this important issue to its full conclusion so significant that I have decided that this forum no longer holds an interest for me - on the contrary - it disturbs me greatly

Francis James Child remains one of the most respected figures in the field of balladry throughout the world, inside and outside of folk song - certainly outside the bubble created for themselves by a handful of neo--rearchers who have taken up the cudgels of Dave Harker and decided to target some of of the greatest names in folk research by accusing them of "fraud", "greed" and "dishonesty" - all without offering solid evidence for such serious accusation - accusing Child of dealing in doctored texts in order to sell books is about the limit for me
It not only displays disrespect and ingratitude for the centuries of pleasure and information these people have passed on - it is, I believe, severely damaging any chances of survival for our folk songs as a viable performing art - who wants to "sing fake songs doctored into existence by elitist charlatans?"   

If to attampt to discuss this to its necessary conclusion is to be accused of as "picking a fight" and threatened with thread closure, then I'm off
I don't know how much Jeri knows about Child and Sharp - judging by her outburst some time ago when she told people who were criticising Bob Zimmermann (Dylan) that we "should get a life", I suspect not very much

The direction this forum has taken has been of growing concern to me for some time - in my opinion its effects are beginning to show, particularly in the fact that this thread is the only one I can see of any interest to the serious 'real folksong' lover - I can praise "my favourite folksinger" in a hundred places on the internet.
People I once debated with no longer post, some have died but others simply don't bother posting regularly, or at all, for various reasons

Recent events have cause great anger among some of my old folkie friends - one veteran in particular
I found the treatment of .... the singer whose name we are forbidden to mention.... totally so unacceptable I have decided to take that subject and how he has been dealt with here, elsewhere - to a sympathetic on line folk magazine, in order to indicate was is happening here
I would have done so yesterday, but have decided to add the treatment that Child, Lloyd and others have been given to my correspondence
I do this, not in order to target this forum but to indicate the dangerous downhill slide in the fortunes of English folk-song these discussions indicate   

I've enjoyed my nearly fifteen years here and am very grateful for the knowledge I have gained and the friendship I have been shown - even by people people I have strongly disagreed with and occasionally upset (never deliberately)
I am now approaching 80 and not suffering from "dementia", as one moderator has publicly suggested - far from it - I have never been so active as I researcher and public speaker as am at present.
I really can't do with the distress and the sleepless nights that have begun to invade my usually peaceful and friendly life.
To quote Douglas Adams - "So Long and thanks for the fish"
Jim
I don't expect this message to survive too long in the sunlight, but I will do my best to ascertain that it gets to those I wish it to


15 Jan 20 - 04:08 AM (#4028413)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

Thankyou Jim.


15 Jan 20 - 04:17 AM (#4028415)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Dave the Gnome

See you in a few days, Jim.


15 Jan 20 - 04:18 AM (#4028417)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe Offer

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


15 Jan 20 - 04:47 AM (#4028422)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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


15 Jan 20 - 05:04 AM (#4028423)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Dave the Gnome

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


15 Jan 20 - 05:10 AM (#4028425)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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


15 Jan 20 - 05:12 AM (#4028426)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish

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

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

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


15 Jan 20 - 05:17 AM (#4028428)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Dave the Gnome

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

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


15 Jan 20 - 05:32 AM (#4028430)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

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

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


15 Jan 20 - 05:40 AM (#4028431)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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


15 Jan 20 - 07:38 AM (#4028453)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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

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

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


15 Jan 20 - 07:41 AM (#4028454)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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

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


15 Jan 20 - 07:52 AM (#4028455)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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

This link should get you there.


15 Jan 20 - 08:58 AM (#4028459)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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

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

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

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

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


15 Jan 20 - 09:03 AM (#4028460)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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


15 Jan 20 - 09:15 AM (#4028461)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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

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


15 Jan 20 - 09:22 AM (#4028464)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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


15 Jan 20 - 09:37 AM (#4028466)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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

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


15 Jan 20 - 11:22 AM (#4028480)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

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

The nearly universal European intellectual assumption at the time.

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

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

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

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


15 Jan 20 - 12:18 PM (#4028487)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

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


15 Jan 20 - 12:18 PM (#4028488)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jeri

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


15 Jan 20 - 12:28 PM (#4028491)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

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


15 Jan 20 - 12:53 PM (#4028492)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

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

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


15 Jan 20 - 01:12 PM (#4028495)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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

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


15 Jan 20 - 01:26 PM (#4028501)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Lighter

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

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

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

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


15 Jan 20 - 03:29 PM (#4028510)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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


15 Jan 20 - 04:40 PM (#4028512)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

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


15 Jan 20 - 05:43 PM (#4028525)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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


15 Jan 20 - 06:14 PM (#4028535)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

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

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

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


15 Jan 20 - 06:26 PM (#4028536)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

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


15 Jan 20 - 06:29 PM (#4028537)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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


15 Jan 20 - 06:40 PM (#4028539)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

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


15 Jan 20 - 07:01 PM (#4028541)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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


15 Jan 20 - 07:03 PM (#4028543)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"obvious Godlike qualities" :)


15 Jan 20 - 08:12 PM (#4028551)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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


15 Jan 20 - 10:44 PM (#4028557)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: RTim

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

Tim Radford


15 Jan 20 - 11:12 PM (#4028560)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Karen Impola

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

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

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


16 Jan 20 - 04:19 AM (#4028578)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


16 Jan 20 - 04:20 AM (#4028579)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Apologies for thread drift.


16 Jan 20 - 04:24 AM (#4028581)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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


16 Jan 20 - 04:50 AM (#4028582)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Karen Impola

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

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

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


16 Jan 20 - 08:49 AM (#4028596)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


16 Jan 20 - 08:51 AM (#4028597)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,John Moulden

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

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

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


16 Jan 20 - 09:03 AM (#4028598)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Peter Laban

Thumbs up for that post John. And Happy Birthday.


16 Jan 20 - 09:27 AM (#4028604)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Yes Lighter:

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

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

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

Sorry we are drifting off topic.

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


16 Jan 20 - 10:41 AM (#4028613)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

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


16 Jan 20 - 10:43 AM (#4028614)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

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

200


16 Jan 20 - 01:01 PM (#4028636)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Modette

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


16 Jan 20 - 01:40 PM (#4028641)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

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


16 Jan 20 - 01:53 PM (#4028644)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Modette

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


16 Jan 20 - 02:19 PM (#4028648)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

"They might" is commonly used to introduce an example.


16 Jan 20 - 02:22 PM (#4028649)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

So first of all, thank you to John Moulden for his contribution.

Believe it or not, I heartily agree with the final sentence, though I may not always practise what I preach.

I'm sure John Moulden will agree that the term 'arid' has negative connotations. I cannot disagree with what he has said about 'arid' research since almost by definition nobody would enjoy it. But one person's arid research is another person's oasis of delight. Not only that, but my own experience suggests that interests come, and go, and return over time.

Regarding the idea that one should not speak about traditional singers except in terms which they would understand, I respect that point of view, and that choice, but disagree that to do otherwise is 'insulting'. This is the second time I have come across this idea recently. I cannot quite see how one can describe a practice as 'insulting' without intending the word as a criticism, but perhaps that is my problem.

I'm not sure whether John's first paragraph is intended to relate to Harker's book, and again, perhaps the fault here is on my part. However, on the basis of my reading so far, one of the criticisms that Harker makes time and time again is precisely that the 'mediators' he discusses to presume to have knowledge of what ballads (Child) and folk (most of the rest) meant to their originators, when, that is, they accept the idea that folk songs had individual creators, which not all of them did. To that extent, perhaps there is some common ground between John and Harker. Moreover, on the basis of a view that the only thing to do with folk songs is to learn how to support traditional singers and to learn from them how to sing, a characterisation of Child and so on as the giants upon whose shoulders the rest stand would seem to me, with respect, to be misplaced, as their aims do not seem to me to have been in line with the recommended 'point'.

I hope you have a lovely day. Thank you again for sharing your view and your story about Harker.

@ Modette: Harker uses the term 'masculinist' several times.   

I have noticed that Harker criticises Lloyd's romantic image comparing folk songs to pebbles worn smooth by the action of the sea as 'Sharpean'. I haven't checked back with Lloyd yet, but as the image seems reasonably clearly to be taken from Sharp's 'some conclusions' folk song book, I hope Lloyd acknowledged its source. Harker doesn't pick up on the extent to which this is a more or less an unacknowledged quotation (albeit maybe unconscious) though he does pick Lloyd up on this elsewhere, I think. I am realising that one advantage of PDF versions of books is that you can search for words like 'pebble' within them very quickly.


16 Jan 20 - 02:35 PM (#4028650)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Sorry, forgot to say I had a few weeks ago found John Moulden's PhD work on ballad and pamphlet sellers online and read (or at least skim-read) it and very much enjoyed it. I think I have mentioned it on Mudcat. So now's the time to say I did not find it 'arid' but enjoyable.


16 Jan 20 - 02:52 PM (#4028652)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Hi John
Happy birthday.
I also wake up in a morning thankful I'm still here and I'm only 72.
Couldn't agree more with your second paragraph and your response to Dave. I also believe all of the people in discussion here would say amen to that.

I also agree with Pseu's point that one person's arid is another's delight, and further we shouldn't be too ready to criticise others' preferences.

I sing almost all traditional songs and many of them have come direct from the source singers, some in my own family.

Pseu, you mention online articles by Fowler. Could you flag them up for me, please?


16 Jan 20 - 03:03 PM (#4028655)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Child was obliged, as someone without a private income, to take on all sorts of teaching jobs, both at Harvard and in other universities. He had well-heeled friends like Lowell, but in order to support his family and his expensive hobby he needed to work very hard. If I remember correctly he had a budget in the library and a lot of the manuscripts and books he needed were acquired in this way, but even this was restricted so that he had to be careful how much he paid for manuscripts from Scotland. He never saw the second Peter Buchan manuscript as it was bought for the library after he died. I think he did see the Buchan manuscript in the BL but it is actually just a proof for the 2 volumes and adds very little to those in the way of ballads.

Karen, I thought they were actually released in 10 parts at first and then bound up in the 5 volumes later, but I could be wrong.


16 Jan 20 - 03:21 PM (#4028657)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

I know Child got a lot of the info on the continental analogies from Grundtvig but I find it difficult to conceive the amount of work that went into compiling all of that information, and how many of us actually use it? I dip into it for the odd ballad occasionally as I have an interest in the Danish ballads, but some of it is so involved and detailed.


16 Jan 20 - 03:45 PM (#4028661)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

Happy birthday, John.

It's not "arid research" that's my bane, it's "arid writing."


16 Jan 20 - 04:08 PM (#4028662)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

Hey what's going on? Numerous recent posts are all more or less agreeing with each other, and I find myself agreeing with them too.

If we didn't love the ballads and the other songs (or some of them anyway) we wouldn't be here discussing them, although our interests may very well focus on different aspects: listening to them, singing them ourselves, discussing the stories or researching and discussing the origins.

Happy birthday, John, from me too, what's left of the day.

Is your paper about the Hugh McWilliams book available anywhere?

[Richard Mellish] (added by mudelf)


16 Jan 20 - 07:08 PM (#4028691)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

More thread drift, but taking up the topic with Lighter once more: the very term 'literature' has shifted in meaning. My understanding is that in Elizabethan times the word would indicate anything written, more or less. This broader sense survives in some usages today: we might read of 'marketing literature' for example. It took a while to acquire the modern, perhaps rather elitist sense of 'literature' - as opposed to, say, 'pulp fiction'. But for me, much of this is in the eye of the beholder anyway.


16 Jan 20 - 08:20 PM (#4028696)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Just out of interest I searched Harker for the word 'fraud'. He uses it once in connection with a reform (fair enough). In connection with folklore, he uses it when he discusses an 18th century scholar and antiquarian Ritson. He praises Ritson for seeking to sort out authentic material as opposed to the less authentic material offered by Percy and a number of people who seem to have published material Ritson regarded as less scholarly and authentic. So concerns about authenticity fo back to the 18th century. Of course somebody may know more about Ritson than I do and may say Harker was wrong about him and about Percy.

Similarly I searched for the word 'greed' and did not find it anywhere.

Polemic Harker may be but not quite that crude? Asking here, not asserting.

No bathing babies were harmed in the making of this posting.


17 Jan 20 - 08:28 AM (#4028708)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Pseudonymous. Try "forgery"


17 Jan 20 - 08:34 AM (#4028709)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I'm sharing an overview of the contents of Harker's book, in case Mudcat readers who have not read it look at this thread and wonder. Also because I think we are in danger of discussing some of the people Harker discusses, not the book itself. Some have their own threads.

So what is the book about?


A Title.   People have objected to the title, especially the word ‘manufacture’. It might help us get a handle on what the book is about (e.g. for Mudcat readers who haven’t read it and come here hoping for information) to consider less charged alternative titles. Is it fair to say it is ‘A Critical Historical Review of What Has Been Written About and Offered As Examples of British ‘Folksong’ from 1700 to the Present Day?’ The present day being 1985.

B Contents and their arrangement. I’ll attempt a simple outline. Apologies for any oversimplification. As said before, largely chronological.

Introduction: includes discussion of the concept of ‘mediation’. This concept highlights the fact that this is a largely book about people who are not ‘working class’ making assertions about working class culture (eg ‘folklore’). Put simply, Harker doesn’t think they get it right. And he thinks some of their mistakes reflect the class interests of the bourgeoisie (e.g. a desire for national unity/national identity instead of a workers’ revolution).

PART ONE: Two Centuries Before Child (roughly 1780 to 1860) Focus on UK.
1 Early mediators
2 Thomas Percy to Joseph Ritson
3 Walter Scott to Robert Chambers
4 Thomas Wright to John Harland

PART TWO: FJ Child and the Ballad ‘consensus’ (Focus mainly on US-based work)

5 FJ Child. Biography and discussion of his ‘editions’ of selections of ballads with commentaries etc
Discusses problems Child faced sorting out and categorising the mass of what I’ll call ‘raw data’ he had assembled and selecting what to publish and what to leave out.
6 The ‘Ballad Consensus’

PART THREE: CJ Sharp and the Folksong ‘consensus’. (Focus mainly on UK-based work)

7 Some pre-Sharp characters including Engel and his ‘national music’; the late 19th C early 20th C collectors e.g. Broadwood, Baring-Gould, Kidson. Formation of Folk Song Society 1898
8 Sharp himself: biography, career, ideas about folk song and its origins etc
9 The folksong consensus
10 Alfred Owen Williams and the Upper Thames
11 AL Lloyd: the one that got away


17 Jan 20 - 08:38 AM (#4028710)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Jag. Will do. Cheers.


17 Jan 20 - 10:01 AM (#4028717)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

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

<><><><><><><><><><><><><>

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


I cannot stress strongly enough how important I find these words from John Moulden.
In another of my activities, I am one member of nine in a monthly book group. Each of us choose a book for all to read and we discuss that book at a subsequent meeting. A very wide range of fiction, non-fiction, biography, classics, books on a variety of specialised subjects are chosen. Everyone is given a chance to give their opinion of the set book followed by a group discussion then in the second hour each of us introduces a book that we have enjoyed in the last month; a lot of borrowing and lending goes on.
Sometimes there is broad agreement but some heated but healthy discussion takes place where there is disagreement, but no-one has ever suggested that another member's views are not valid or worthwhile. No-one would ever consider leaving the group because they cannot get the rest of us to agree with them. Members often express the view that the range of opinons is stimulating and has helped to broaden their understanding of the book we have all read.
This civility may be because we are all in the living rooms of members - we take it in turn - and not making points with others who we will likely never meet. None of us is able to hide behind a nickname and there are no anonymous GUEST posters.


17 Jan 20 - 10:17 AM (#4028721)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Well said, Vic.

Mea nwhile, I’ve become interested by the question raised above, regarding of the influence of Child on Cecil Sharp...

Sharp was on the hunt for a set of Child Ballads during his first Appalachian collecting trip in 1916, and acquired a set in October with the assistance of John C. Campbell. I have a copy of a letter held in the University of North Carolina in which JC writes to a colleague asking him to source a full set of ten volumes of ESPB, for which Sharp would be willing to pay $100 – for interest, Campbell mentions that the set was had a print run of 1000 and sold originally for $50. However, even before this set arrived, Sharp was expressing great excitement in his letters and diaries about finding Child Ballads in the mountains; when he first heard Child 3 in September 1916 he mentioned in a letter to his wife that Child had only a single version - from Motherwell – but that he had now found one with a tune: “A great prize”. So clearly he was familiar with ESPB before receiving his own copy. During his first trip in 1916 he took the trouble to compile a list of 26 Child Ballads noted up to that point, and by 1917 he recorded that he’d found 42.

As Steve said, ‘English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians’ was the first of Sharp’s books to place the Child Ballads in numerical order at the front, but ‘One Hundred English Folksongs’ did have a first section of 29 ‘Ballads’, in which all but four (‘Bruton Town’, ‘Duke of Bedford’, ‘Death and the Lady’, and ‘The Trees They Do Grow High’, plus arguably ‘Lowlands of Holland’) were in Child, although there was no attempt to order them as per ESPB. So, either Sharp was familiar with ESPB but decided that these others merited promotion to ballad status, or he drew up his own list that corresponded largely to Child’s judgements. 100EFS was published in 1916, but presumably Sharp edited it before then. He met and corresponded with Olive Dame Campbell in 1915, and she may well have discussed with him the Child Ballads in her own collection, but I’d have thought he’d have known about ESPB before then – it would be interesting to search FSJ articles in this period to find out whether English collectors were discussing Child. At any rate there’s no doubt that Sharp was considerably influenced by him in his later collecting.

As for Wagner, Sharp mentions in EFSC that he’s read Wagner, and cites him to support the idea that German art music drew on folk material. Sharp had, after all, conducted in and lectured on classical music in his early career, so it’s not surprising he’d have come across Wagner’s writings. Atkinson’s linkage of Sharp and Wagner concerns an early lecture by Sharp (1905) in which he propounds ideas about communal composition in a pre-literate, pre-medieval populace (he later revised these ideas), which Atkinson believes were probably borrowed from Wagner rather than Child’s – very similar – ideas.


17 Jan 20 - 12:06 PM (#4028748)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Brian,
If no-one else is offering I can easily check the Journals for the first mentions of Child. In fact I'd enjoy that. I can not possibly conceive of anyone in this country connected with folksong from 1888 onwards not being familiar with the Child Ballads. Baring Gould certainly was as he was sending material to Child and asking for copies as they appeared, in return for his contributions. What I do find strange is they seem not to have been given any extra status over the broadside ballads until Sharp went to America.


17 Jan 20 - 12:30 PM (#4028755)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

This is an interesting thread;glad I revived it. Still ploughing through the text! The think with Wagner in my head goes Wagner, Nietzsche, The Superman, Nazis, unfortunately. Wagner went back to old Germanic myths to create his ring cycle so got linked to the worst sort of nationalism. So thanks Brian for your take on this.


17 Jan 20 - 01:01 PM (#4028765)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Ah, stop press...

Sharp does make several references to Child in 'Some Conclusions', such as:

'The extent and character of these variations may be studied with profit in the late Professor Child's English and Scottish Popular Ballads, where many of the ballads, which have in recent years
been collected in Great Britain, may be seen and compared with their European analogues. Indeed, as Mr. Andrew Lang has remarked: "It is unnecessary to indicate more than one authority on the subject of ballads. Professor Child of Harvard, has collected all known ballads, with all accessible variants, and has illustrated them with an extraordinary wealth of knowledge of many literatures.'

I'm afraid I don't have many early American folk song books on my shelves, so I can't say who was the first to adopt the 'Child and Other' ordering. I have Belden's 1912 review of the literature, but most of the collectors were publishing in JAF at the time, as far as I can see, and I'm not sure when the first books appeared. Wilgus would tell us, but I don't have that, and I know that Wyman and Brockway's Kentucky collection didn't place Child at the front. Is it even possible that Sharp and Campbell were the first to adopt the practice?


17 Jan 20 - 01:03 PM (#4028766)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,HiLo

I have really been enjoying this thread, especially since the bickering stopped. I have learned a great deal about Harker, I knew little of him until now. It is so refreshing to have these conversations without rancor.
I too agree with what Vic said, however it is not "guests who are the problem..it is often the ones whose names we know all too well that are the problem. I have refused to join Mudcat because of them.
    Yeah, but the idea is that we're going to keep this thread on topic, and not discuss the recent rancor. I had to delete a number of messages about the "unpleasantness" from this thread. Please, let's forget about that. This is an interesting topic.
    -Joe Offer-


17 Jan 20 - 01:09 PM (#4028767)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Going back to Wagner, the whole point of Sharp's plan that folk song might be the basis for a new English muse (see also RVW etc), was to counter German hegemony over art music. By the time of WW1 Sharp had developed quite an antipathy towards Germany, that wasn't improved when his son got wounded in battle. I think the thought progression Sharp - Wagner - Nazis can be safely discounted.


17 Jan 20 - 01:10 PM (#4028769)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

And, while we're all patting each other on the back, can I just say that John Moulden's "You might as well have asked Galileo if he could forgive the Babylonians" is one of the pithiest contributions to this thread.


17 Jan 20 - 03:41 PM (#4028772)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Just lost a pile of responses because the Cat went down again so I'll post stuff in small bites in case it disappears again.

Thought I'd start with Kidson and Broadwood as they predate the FSS.

Kidson's Traditional Tunes 1891 was published just after Child had published part 7 in 1890. Kidson started of TT with 11 Child ballads but no Child Ballad order and no references to Child whatsoever in the book. child started publishing in 10 parts in 1882.


17 Jan 20 - 03:46 PM (#4028773)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

However in later parts Child did include Kidson's versions. later in TT Kidson gave a version of Child 283 the Crafty Farmer which Child included but this is an exemplar broadside piece from the late 18th century anyway. Kidson does refer to most of Child's well-known sources in his notes, Percy, Herd, Scott, Motherwell, Kinloch, Buchan, Hogg, Chappell, Chambers, Dixon, etc.


17 Jan 20 - 03:48 PM (#4028774)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Broadwood's English County Songs of 1893 does very briefly mention Child in the notes to 4 of the 11 Child ballads she includes. 'see Child's headnotes to....'


17 Jan 20 - 03:56 PM (#4028775)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

When The Folk Song society started up in 1899 there was no mention of Child right up to the 4th volume (1902) and 6 Child ballads had been published in the first 3 volumes. However in the fourth there are 3 Child ballads and Lucy Broadwood in her notes quotes Child in all of them. Kidson also contributes to the notes without a mention of Child. However, to be fair, he was largely a musical historian, not a ballad scholar. Baring Gould was not an active member at that point but his work is referred to. Of course his 'Songs of the West' 1891 has numerous mentions of Child as from just prior to that he was corresponding with Child.


17 Jan 20 - 04:39 PM (#4028785)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

The bit Sharp wrote about Wagner that I was thinking about is indeed when he comments that German Art music was based on German folk music, and as Brian said, he was discussing national musics and stating that English music was dominated by foreign influences. The point about the Nazis was just me risking thread drift be reporting personal associations. I wasn't thinking that was in Sharp's mind.

Obviously I agree with what HiLo just said.


17 Jan 20 - 04:40 PM (#4028787)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Good work, Steve.


17 Jan 20 - 04:43 PM (#4028788)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Brian
Regarding who started or continued the process of prioritising the Child Ballads and indeed the triple section layout, it looks from what I can see is Sharp and Campbell started it off. The next I have is the great Louise Pound (American Songs and Ballads) who probably started off the tripling. (Child ballads first in number order, then other British ballads, then native American ballads). Then comes Cox (Folk Songs of the South) in 1924 emulating Pound, Mackenzie in 1928, and Davis in 1929.
I haven't got any of the Barry/Eckstorm Maine books, 1927 & 29, but I bet they have the same system.


17 Jan 20 - 05:42 PM (#4028798)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Jon will probably fill in any gaps.


17 Jan 20 - 05:57 PM (#4028800)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

Even if Sharp did not have his own copy of Child prior to 1916, I am sure he would have consulted a copy in the BM, as he was a visitor there to consult copies of Playford, for example. Or perhaps he just needed to consult a copy of Child in the USA as his own copy was in UK. Is his own copy still in VWML?
Regarding Wagner, Karpeles writes, in the biography, that he was almost as enthusiastic about mathematics as about Wagner, while at Cambridge (p. 6), and "as with most young musicians of his day, Wagner was his god." (p. 13),this was 1892. He quoted Wagner in love letters to his intended wife, Constance, (p. 16). Daughter Dorothea's third given name was Iseult and son's second name was Tristan, (p. 18). Methinks Sharp was something of a fan of Wagner!
Derek


17 Jan 20 - 06:23 PM (#4028805)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Welcome to the discussion, Derek. Do stay!


17 Jan 20 - 06:37 PM (#4028808)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

According to Harker, Baring-Gould (another English collector) was also fond of Wagner. Harker mentions Sharp's partiality, saying he quoted him upon his engagement. Harker specifically says Sharp 'read' Wagner (what did he write, I wonder?) Not too much on Wagner in Harker (the search facility on pdfs is useful!). That's all I could find.


17 Jan 20 - 06:55 PM (#4028812)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Harker's stuff on Alfred Owen Williams is fascinating. I think Steve has quoted bits of his descriptions of ballad sellers to me; anyway I have encountered them before. Did anybody else enjoy this, and why isn't there more on Mudcat about this person? Harker seems to prefer him to a lot of the others he discusses, maybe because he isn't quite as posh?

I hate to say this, but I am quite enjoying Harker, while of course bearing all the health warnings in mind. Wish I could afford to buy a copy.


17 Jan 20 - 06:58 PM (#4028813)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

no, like isn't the word, not at all.


17 Jan 20 - 08:25 PM (#4028826)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,keberoxu

"What did Wagner write, I wonder?"

you would be sorry you asked,
if you went so far as to read what Wagner wrote ...
his music and libretti are one thing,
but Wagner's prose is quite another.

Well, he wrote something titled
"Die Juden," if memory serves ...


18 Jan 20 - 03:04 AM (#4028845)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Sorry, Pseu, I didn't enjoy reading it. I've spent many years studying the mediations by the editors and when his book came out, skewed and tainted as it was, despite the many correct accusations it made, it set back this study 20 years.


18 Jan 20 - 03:09 AM (#4028847)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Williams hadn't been schooled by the FSS and went out collecting without their preconceived notions of what constituted a folk song, so his collection is more representive of what the folk were actually singing.
The only problem with his work is he had no means of noting down the tunes.


18 Jan 20 - 03:38 AM (#4028850)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Steve, no need to apologise for not agreeing, but thanks for the courtesy.

I agree with you that Williams seems to have got some broader idea about what the folk were actually singing. I think Harker felt this too, hence my sense of him liking his work, if not his politics, of course. I think that this point about what people were actually singing is one of Harker's key ones. To this extent, I think I agree with Harker. I personally enjoyed the information that Harker conveyed about what Williams found out (assuming it is correct). For example, what he says about people who were singing 'traditional songs' but had been taught singing lessons by a local schoolmaster. And I agree with your point about preconceived notions, not that expressing views like that has made me popular in the past.

Am I right in reading you as saying that Harker's book set back the study of mistakes back 20 years? I'm struggling to take this in, if so, since it seems quite a daring point of view, to imply that there were mistakes. It seems to count as blasphemy in the eyes of some?

And don't get me wrong, I hope I haven't turned my critical faculties off when reading Harker: nobody can say I wasn't warned about the possible shortcomings in his work.


18 Jan 20 - 04:02 AM (#4028853)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Xeberoxu

Thanks for your comment. I've googled since reading your post and found a Wiki piece on Wagner controversies. It makes my mental link to Hitler seem more rational! It gets worse as you read on since some people think Wagner subscribed to a belief called Aryanism, and that he held beliefs that Western society was doomed because of 'miscegenation'. I've moaned before on Mudcat about an English folklorist using that word, in connection with a song called 'The Bush of Australia'. I don't think it made me popular. But I don't regret it.


18 Jan 20 - 04:02 AM (#4028854)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Sorry for thread drift, if this is what it was!


18 Jan 20 - 04:12 AM (#4028855)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I've been getting deja vu over Harker's section on Williams. I'm thinking that Roud will have mentioned him in his book on English Folk Song? He must have, surely? And that will be where I've heard of him before?


18 Jan 20 - 07:48 AM (#4028879)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

OK so here's what Harker writes at the end of his section on Percy to Ritson:

'From our point of view, in spite of what most of them did to the songs, their contribution was crucial. Without their collecting, and irrespective of their mediations and their motives, we would not have had hundreds of songs recorded and published for posterity. In fact, without their example, the modest boom in song-book publishing which followed might not have happened at all. In the work of Ritson, too, we see the beginnings of a genuine scholarly approach to mediation, which remained as a standard and a source of editorial guilt for generations.'

I don't read this as Newton scorning the Babylonians. But of course, this is just my take on it.


18 Jan 20 - 08:12 AM (#4028882)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)

Steve - British Ballads from Maine (1929 edition) is organized in 3 sections:

1-56: The Child Ballads (given in Child's order, at a quick glance from The Elfin Knight to The Trooper and the Maid).

57-64: Secondary Ballads (Soldier's Wooing, Loathly Bride, Gallows Tree, John Webber, Squire of Edinburgh Town, Yorkshire Bite, High Barbary, Sally and Her True-love Billy)

65-94: Traces and Jury-Texts

In the Foreword they write:

"This collection builds a New England superstructure upon Professor Child's well-laid foundations. We do not ask why he accepted or rejected his titles, but we try to square our work to his lines and to agree with his conclusions wherever possible. Sound critical work upon Child's own lines has been the objective.

Yet is some respects it has been impossible to be bound by Professor Child. The study of ballad music was outside his chosen field. Though he gathered some records of melodies with his texts, he did not weigh them...

Furthermore, Professor Child confined himself to the English and Scottish variants of the ballads. He printed very few texts from Irish sources. But in Maine the Irish element is very strong and often very old. In calling these "British Ballads" we have enlarged the field of study."


So based entirely on Child, but acknowledging that Child was interested in the literature of the ballads, not text+music.

Mick


18 Jan 20 - 08:18 AM (#4028883)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Pseudonymous wrote: -
Harker's section on Williams. I'm thinking that Roud will have mentioned him in his book on English Folk Song? He must have, surely?
I am not completely sure which of the two Pseudonymous is referring to here - but the answer is that Roud has plenty to say about both; the index shows:-
* 12 references to David Harker
* 28 references to Alfred Williams


18 Jan 20 - 09:36 AM (#4028891)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Pseu 7.48. I don't think anyone with a rational mind would disagree with Harker there.

When I said he set back 20 years the study of this sort of mediation by editors, I was referring to the status of the subject. His book caused such an uproar that many people condemned the book out of hand and anyone then who was criticising the ballad editors (myself) was tarred with the same brush.

I wrote a paper on Baring Gould re Child 295B on which he sent bogus material to Child. Some denied it and one of the volume editors was reluctant to publish it, and I was asked to temper it because I included some conjecture on why he would have done this. Of course the absolute proof is there on the EFDSS website now for all to see, but it wasn't at the time.

I wrote an article on Peter Buchan's interference in the ballads, for FMJ and some of the reviewers rejected it. It had been read as a paper and I know at least 2 of the reviewers wanted to include it.


18 Jan 20 - 12:27 PM (#4028925)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

Steve, the most likely place for finding the familiar tripartite form of presentation would be articles in the pages of the Journal of American Folklore, which started publication in 1888,

I've just done a JSTOR cybersearch of the Journal for the phrases "Child Ballads," "English and Scottish Popular Ballads, " "Scottish ballad," "English ballad," and "ballad of."

The earliest example of the familiar tripartite structure appears to be so late as Herbert Halper's "Some Ballads and Folk Songs from New Jersey," LII (1939), pp. 52-69. (Among the non-Child ballads is a somewhat spicier than usual version of "The Indian Lass.")

Believe it or not, Halpert's article looks to be the Journal's earliest mention of *any* of the searched-for phrases.   

The early years of JAF were heavily skewed toward American Indian material and folktales, but these results astonish me.

The first large collection or American folksongs was John Lomax's Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads (1910). Lomax, obviously, had no need for the tripartite structure.


18 Jan 20 - 01:40 PM (#4028938)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"Believe it or not, Halpert's article looks to be the Journal's earliest mention of *any* of the searched-for phrases."

Do you mean phrases like 'Child Ballads', etc.? If so the search facility you've used seems to be letting you down. Phillips Barry mentions Child in his 1905 paper 'Traditional Ballads in New England', and by 1910 he's giving every ballad its Child Number. Belden and several of the others are full of refs to FJC as well.

I'm beginning to think that Steve may be right about Sharp & Campbell having been the first to use the tripartite system. Although Sharp had the final word on editing the 1917 EFSSA, I'm sure Olive Campbell collaborated in some of the decisions - and she'd presiously corresponded with Kittredge and the various mountain folksong societies, so knew all about Child. Possibly her idea?


18 Jan 20 - 01:52 PM (#4028942)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,John Moulden

This is only relevant to Richard Mellish who asked about my work on Hugh McWilliams. Email me - jmoul81075 AT aol.com for details. Or anybody else interested is welcome to do so also.


18 Jan 20 - 04:02 PM (#4028963)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Jon
I haven't been through the early JAFL with a fine tooth comb, but from what I've seen I would agree with you and I'm not that surprised. They were full of the results of individual collecting expeditions and papers
and none of them contained a large enough collection to warrant using the tipartite system.

By the way strictly speaking Sharp/Campbell doesn't use the tripartite system. Whilst the Child ballads come first in number order there is no marked division between these and the broadside ballads 1-72. Then Vol 2 is split into songs (mostly British) 73 to 207 finishing up with smaller sections, Hymns, Nursery Songs, jigs and Party Games. But yes it is the first one to set the scene for giving the Child ballads in order first. Unless someone comes up with an earlier I think Pound (1924) was the next and the first to truly use the tripartite system, though once she has presented sections A,B & C there follow, similar to Sharp/Campbell, 4 sections according to subject which contain a mixture of native American and British texts. Pound could well be described as being based on the setting out of Sharp/Campbell.


18 Jan 20 - 04:28 PM (#4028966)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

It appears Sharp was fully au fait with Child's ESPB by 1905. He refers to it in Vol 1 of Folk Songs From Somerset.


18 Jan 20 - 06:17 PM (#4028979)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

Brian, I 've searched again for "Child ballads" (plural) with no additional results that I can see.

You're right, though, that "Child ballad" (singular) appears in several early articles by Barry and one by Belden.

In any event, no tripartite structure before Halpert in 1939, though Mellinger Henry's "More Songs from the Southern Highlands," XLIV (1931), 61-115, begins with four numbered Child ballads, without (apparently) using the phrase "Child ballad(s)."

Much earlier articles print Child ballads identified by "Child No." (without using the phrase "Child ballad(s)."

Moral: Not all search engines will find singular and plural at the same time.


19 Jan 20 - 01:00 AM (#4028994)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Brian
For me, it figures that Philips Barry would use Child numbers because he was Harvard-based or educated. As was Kittredge. As you will know, Sharp knew Kittredge and met him when in the USA. I think I am right here.
Child was president of the society that produced American Journal of Folklore. I learned this from a review of one of the parts of his opus at the back of the first every issue. It says it won't be a eulogy, but plainly is! His position explains, I think, why ballads are mentioned in the opening piece in the journal. The introduction to the first volume I have quoted before as showing the 'racialist' thinking of the early folklorists, as do some of the pieces in it.
Not sure how we got here from Harker, but finding the discussion interesting!


19 Jan 20 - 02:55 AM (#4029000)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Steve

Thanks for your explanation of how Harker set things back: I had guessed that this might be what you meant. Ironic, since, as Harker shows, people had been having similar thoughts for a long time!

I have found and been reading (tricky to get hold of but I managed it via googling etc) a review of two of Harker's works, including this one, by Vic Gammon.

It is 'Two for the Show': David Harker, Politics and Popular Song
Author(s): Vic Gammon. Source: History Workshop, No. 21 (Spring, 1986), pp. 147-156

Gammon says that Harker's book will win a place as a very important work of reference, while being quite critical of various aspects of Harker's 'preaching'.

Sharing the reference in case any other Mudcatter would like to see a reasoned response from a relatively 'left' position.


19 Jan 20 - 04:04 AM (#4029002)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

When VicG says 'will win a place as a very important work of reference,' is he referring to Fakesong or the other book?

Earlier upthread you mention Fowler's writings. Can you please flag up any for me that relate to ballads other than 'Literary History'?


19 Jan 20 - 04:05 AM (#4029003)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

I think Vic could make a very strong contribution to this thread. I think I'll ask him.


19 Jan 20 - 08:47 AM (#4029026)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Steve; Gammon is referring to Fakesong, believe it or not. Page 153. As you can imagine, he has plenty to say on its shortcomings!

Sorry Steve, on Fowler, I cannot find the comment you mean: I got as far as (following the suggestions on this thread) looking for him on AbeBooks and Amazon), and, perhaps JSTOR. Can you give me a date and time for the post? He seems to have produced a lot of Piers Ploughman and something on Chretian de Troyes. SO the short answer to your question is sorry but no.


19 Jan 20 - 09:34 AM (#4029034)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Drawing links between texts: Harker gives an account of some of the findings of Williams, who almost seems to have been an early ethnomusicologist (i.e. a person who studies music in its context). Or maybe 'historical ethnomusicologist'? He describes musical families, playing music in church, with bands featuring all sorts of instruments, and says that within some villages there might be musical families down through time. I think he comments on how many people could read music. I thought of the Cook-Gee family in Walter Pardon's background when I read this.


19 Jan 20 - 10:14 AM (#4029037)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

And I also thought of 'Under the Greenwood Tree', the Hardy novel. Roger Dixon mentions this in connection with the Cook Gee family in an article somewhere.


19 Jan 20 - 10:45 AM (#4029041)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Sorry! Ignore previous 2 posts. Thread drift. Apologies. (Kicking self).


19 Jan 20 - 11:53 AM (#4029049)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Maybe the drift indicates that, on Williams, Harker's book has some interesting points. Though we could read Williams' own writings, listed by Harker, to avoid any 'mediating' done by Harker.

I knew there were more mentions of 'forgery' than 'fraud' because I searched for 'forge' to find a paragraph in the Williams section. On the politics what caught my eye was " ...Williams was trapped, ideologically as well as materially, in his job, between what he knew of managerial pettiness and what he characterised as working-class selfishness and ignorance" .

For someone in that position at the lower end of the supervisory ranks between the bosses and the workers and I don't find his politics surprising. One of my forbears about 10 years younger that Williams rose to be an 'overlooker' in a factory (and stayed as one till he got his 50 years faithfull service certificate). A Tory voter, lived with the workforce (the bosses didn't), respected 'good workers' even if some of them were non too bright, didn't like slackers and thought that union activists tended to be amongst the worst workers. However, he did apparently think the improvements in safety over his working life were mainly down to the unions. I think my copy Samuel Laycock came from him.

Harker seems to have respected Williams' work, and Williams' himself, as if it wasn't his fault that he was 'trapped ideologically'. Come Harker's revolution where will the Williams of this world and the other Tory voting workers be? They clearly still provide a challenge for the gradualists of the left ...)

I'm dipping into Harker now, I doubt I'll read it all. I skipped on to Williams because I recalled a lot of what Steve Roud wrote about him. I'll refresh my memory of Lloyd's book before I read the section on him.


19 Jan 20 - 02:51 PM (#4029082)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Hi Pseu
I've been back over the thread re Fowler. I must have misread something somewhere along the line. I occasionally get Fowler and Gregory's names mixed up so that could have been it. Sorry about that.

Regarding fakesong, I think largely the editors edited, and their published works were mediated for genuine reasons, so that is not fakery. However their introductions and book titles are where the fakery comes in. To go back to Percy, for instance, 'Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, consisting of Old Heroic Ballads, Songs and other pieces of our earlier poets, together with some few of Later Date. Percy published in 1767; the Folio Manuscript is said to date from about 1650 using some of the items in it with known dates. Much of the rest is from 17th century broadsides and fairly contemporary stuff sent to him by correspondents so most of the material could only be traced as far back as the 17th century, say a century before it was published, hardly 'ancient'.

At the other end of the scale Peter Buchan went to great lengths to declare all of his material unmediated direct from oral tradition. Having got copies of all of his manuscripts and the published works I am solidly with Child.


19 Jan 20 - 03:01 PM (#4029083)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Steve: I used to muddle up Weatherstones and Waterspoons, with general confusion as a result b...


19 Jan 20 - 03:09 PM (#4029085)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Actually, I think Harker makes few accusations of 'fakery'; maybe his target is 'inaccurate' or 'politically incorrect' or 'selective' (in his view) representations of working class culture/ He also seems to me to be sparing in suggesting 'appropriation' of working class culture, something else that people say is a theme of his. I expected a lot more on this subject. But this sparsity maybe because in many cases he doubts whether the material that people were printing actually did originate with the working class/lower strata of society/peasants. You cannot appropriate from the working class culture which wasn't working class to start with. A few times I found him saying, in effect, 'X printed these songs, some of which may have come from working class culture'. So a person who took a strong 'all these brilliant songs were definitely written by the working class' view would get pretty annoyed with Harker? Is what I am saying the ideas others are getting from reading him?


19 Jan 20 - 03:25 PM (#4029094)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

in my opinion Williams and his collection will be remembered long after dave harker has gone to kick up daisies.


19 Jan 20 - 03:43 PM (#4029096)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

it io my opinion that time is better spent on singing the songs than concerning myself with pipsqueaks like dave harker


19 Jan 20 - 03:50 PM (#4029097)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

Williams left us a fine collection of songs , i do not know what Harker has left us with apart from the sad deprture of jim carroll, all this bickering over scholastic opinions, i inconsequential in comparison with the importance of apprecioating the beauty of some of our traditional songs, i wish harker would go away and caUse trostykite devaitionISM amomgst the SWP WANKERS


19 Jan 20 - 04:02 PM (#4029099)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Well it was nice while it lasted!


19 Jan 20 - 04:06 PM (#4029102)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

the Tradtional songs that williams collected will last much longer than harkers inconsequential pathetic scholastic codswallop, steve have you thought of spending more time on music performance insted of this dung beetle drivel


19 Jan 20 - 04:13 PM (#4029104)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

I spend lots of time playing and singing, Dick, but studying the songs and their history is something I also like to do. Nobody's telling you how to spend your time. Please reciprocate!


19 Jan 20 - 04:16 PM (#4029106)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

Steve, in defense of Percy, a hundred years back or so could well have been for him "ancient."

OED, def. 1a: "Of or belonging to time past, former, earlier, bygone. "

Initial date is 1490; end date, 1793 (Thomas Jefferson).

The editors mark this sense as "archaic." Our familiar sense is 2: "Which existed in, or belonged to, times *long* [OED's emphasis] past, or early in the world's history."

Initial date, 1366. So both senses existed simultaneously for centuries.


19 Jan 20 - 05:19 PM (#4029115)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Yes I suppose that makes me also guilty of imposing modern meanings on older words that could have a different meaning. Perhaps I need to look more closely at his introduction.

Pseu
Just printed off a very interesting article from Academia by John Cole of Cambridge Uni. 'Vernacular Song and the Folkloric Imagination at the Fin de Siecle.' It is very technical in places but I can mostly follow it and the main thrust is obvious. I think you'll like it. It certainly puts the early collectors in perspective, and folklore in general.


19 Jan 20 - 06:14 PM (#4029123)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe G

'Well it was nice while it lasted!'

Indeed it was Steve. I am not particularly engaged with this thread as I don't know the work referred to and my interests lie more with contemporary folk but I have been dipping in and was thinking how nice it was to see people having a friendly discussion without rancour or insults. Hey hi I suppose it couldn't last. Best to carry on and ignore the negativity. :-)


19 Jan 20 - 06:23 PM (#4029124)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe G

Hey ho that was supposed to be!


19 Jan 20 - 06:45 PM (#4029127)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

This sentence, buried deep, seems to sum up much of Cole's argument:

"Folk traditions...do not exist outside the discursive edifice of revivalism."

If my doctorate in English literature and linguistics is of any use here, he appears to be speaking not about real traditions but about the "idea" of traditions that was cobbled together by fin-de-siecle enthusiasts deluded by both a fear of and a fascination with perceived Otherness (or "alterity").

More especially, their fear of the modern world's "corruption" led them to seek cultural purity, personal comfort, and occasionally profit, in songs and lore taken from "simple" (i.e., supposedly ignorant, ingenuous, and pretty much interchangeable) country people. The collectors wanted to believe that what they arbitrarily denoted "folklore" and "folk song" contained precious holdovers from the racial past - if only they could be teased out.

But I could be wrong, and I'm sure I'm leaving some things out.

If only Joseph Jacobs, Henry Burstow, or the "overlooked" Louise Pound could have edited this article.


20 Jan 20 - 05:31 AM (#4029173)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Lighter: 1) Louise Pound is mentioned in Harker (eg p109). 2) Dictionaries do have their uses, don't they? And the history of the usage of the word 'ballad' is itself interesting; to some extent it is a contested word 3) this is I think only the 2nd time I have read the words 'othering' and 'alterity' used in the context of folk discussions, but that might merely reflect my limited background reading of course 4) what Cole seems to be saying might be, albeit not in the same ideological framework, to some extent (hedging like mad here!) similar to some points made by Harker?

Hello Joe G: Hope you are well?

Hello Steve: thanks for the ref I'll add it to the list. For a horrible moment I read one of your posts as 'with child', but of course it was 'with Child'. :)

I'm not much of a singer, and rarely do it in company, but I make music (of sorts) almost every day of my life. I think my lifelong love of it is maybe why I am so interested in it.

Have a nice day everybody!


20 Jan 20 - 05:37 AM (#4029176)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

… on the other hand, I agree with those who have said that some of Harker's more sweeping summings-up aren't fully justified from his evidence and that he tends to move between the more precise and carefully thought about assertion to less sustainable broader generalisations. I also agree with Vic Gammon that Harker's paragraphing detracts from the readability of his text. It's a bit of a curate's egg book.


20 Jan 20 - 05:44 AM (#4029177)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Where Cole has 'discursive edifice' I might have put 'ideology'. But Cole's metaphor expresses it well, says more probably. I'll see how far I can get with him later on! Here's a link, hope it works. Thanks for the reference.

https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/1810/277116/73.full.pdf?sequence=6&isAllowed=y


20 Jan 20 - 05:52 AM (#4029178)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hustvedt: mentioned by Cole and Harker. Any quick info on him?


20 Jan 20 - 06:21 AM (#4029184)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Cole has referenced Derrida: I feel a migraine coming on!


20 Jan 20 - 09:38 AM (#4029200)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Is it anything like DerryDown?

Hustvedt. 'Ballad Books and Ballad Men' essential reading for all to do with Child.

Chapter 1 should be a good comparison with Cole.
2. Scott
3. Scott's ballad clan.
4. English baldly stuff
5. 70 years of British Varia
6 The Scandinavians
7.Grundtvig
8. Child
Appendix A The Grundtvig-Child Correspondence. Very enlightening. essential.
Appendix B, a useful listing of all Child Ballads and their published variants+sources.


20 Jan 20 - 09:57 AM (#4029202)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

The list of 'essential reading' is rapidly looking as if I may not have enough life span left to get through it! But Steve's reply (for which thank you) shows Harker had at least one 'essential' work on his list and in his references.


20 Jan 20 - 10:04 AM (#4029204)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Oops.
4 ballady stuff


20 Jan 20 - 10:23 AM (#4029208)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Going back to Percy, I don't want to labour the point, but just a few selections from his Preface might make it.

xxxviii 'many of these reliques of antiquity'.
...those of our ancient English Minstrels; and the artless productions of these old rhapsodists....Yet perhaps the palm will be frequently due to the old strolling Minstrels, who composed their rhymes to be sung to their harps'

He then goes on to describe his sources the vast majority from the 17th century. Were there still minstrels playing on their harps then. The masques organised by the nobility certainly revived them in a theatrical way, but all the books I've read seem to say the minstrels were already disappearing in the 16th century, and that they are something associated with the medieval period.


20 Jan 20 - 10:32 AM (#4029209)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

> has referenced Derrida

Always a bad sign. Surely Foucault is in there somewhere.

There's a postructuralist point of view (they would say "stance") that exceptionally dense, even nearly incomprehensible prose is the best for some topics because (wait for it!) . . .



It makes the reader think for himself! What the writer may have meant is secondary to what the reader persuades himself is true.

When intelligent readers on two continents with many years among them of studying a subject have a hard time deciphering exactly what a writer on that subject means, something's wrong somewhere.

(PS: I've seen worse than this.)


20 Jan 20 - 11:36 AM (#4029215)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

I've had a look at Cole now. A lot of familiar ideas - the author himself tells us he's "extending ideas sketched out in 'The Imagined Village'", and there's a section on broadsides that won't be news to most of us. Lighter's precis above is pretty accurate. I was interested to read about Hubert Parry's links with William Morris and 'Romantic Socialism', not least because I've long felt that Cecil Sharp's thinking followed many similar lines - the detestation for capitalism and modernity and the harking back to simplicity and cultural purity, for instance.

In the account of Kate Lee and the Coppers, though, Cole is guilty of precisely the kind of speculative leap that led me to mention the mote in the eye of those flinging around accusations of bias and selectivity. He quotes Bob Copper, describing the first visit of 'Brasser' Copper and his brother Tom to Sir Edward Carson's house to meet Kate Lee:

"Any embarrassment they might have felt at being asked to sing in front of a lady in an elegantly furnished drawing-room instead of at home in the cottage or in the tap room of the “Black ’un” was soon dispelled by generous helpings from a full bottle of whisky standing in the middle of the table with two cut-glass tumblers and a decanter of water. They sang, they drank and sang again and all the time Mrs Lee was noting down the words and music of their efforts."

Now - bearing in mind that the event occurred before Bob was born, and that here he is paraphrasing in his usual colourful style his father's teenage memories - this sounds like quite a convivial meeting. Any embarrassment they might have felt was soon dispelled. But here is Cole's interpretation of BC's words:

"Uprooted from both pub and cottage and held captive in a country house by an unfamiliar woman of higher social status, the Coppers were requested to sing in a manner wholly foreign to their quotidian experience while wearing clothes ordinarily reserved for church... The uncomfortable environment, moreover, played a decisive role in James and Thomas’s choice concerning which songs to offer."

A little later, he writes: "the very social settings that made [...] the Coppers feel so uncomfortable."

But nowhere does Bob Copper say that his grandfather and great-uncle actually felt uncomfortable - rather the opposite, in fact. He does not say that they were requested to sing in any particular manner, nor does the quoted passage mention that they chose their songs according to the surroundings. Cole is giving an account tailored to fit his thesis. I'm reminded of Harker's account that James Parsons "trembled with fright" on his first visit to Baring-Gould's grand house, and his strange omission to mention that before long Parsons was forcefully correcting mistakes in the Reverend's notations.

Cole writes subsequently about Kate Lee's performance of Copper songs: "The audience was thus granted access to the Copper brothers’ songs only via a chain of mediations in which the songs were filtered, notated, arranged, and restaged by a group of metropolitan folk-song devotees." This may well be true of the evening in question, but where is the mention that the family sang their songs themselves in the Royal Albert Hall in 1952, and on national radio in the same period, never mind the innumerable and continuing performances in folk song environments ever since - i.e. some acknowledgement that the priorities of folk song devotees might have changed since 1897? When I read, "Increased attention should hence be paid to singers such as [...] the Copper brothers of Rottingdean in order to rescue their histories from the conceptual apparatus of folk song", I wonder how much the writer actually knows about the Coppers, even if he is clever enough to use the word 'quotidian' instead of 'everyday'.

The other thing that strikes me when I read these critiques of collectors carrying out their work according to an agenda of nationalism or imperialism or whatever else, is that the writers never consider for an instant that the collectors might have been motivated also by the aesthetic qualities of what they were hearing. This comes over again and again in Sharp's writings - he's simply thrilled by the songs, and cheerfully acknowledges his own 'butterfly collector' tendencies. I acknowledge my own bias in having sung and loved these songs for 40 years, but it's pretty clear that critics like Harker and, I suspect, Cole, feel no such affection for them and are simply unable to comprehend the feelings that Sharp, B-G et al experienced.


20 Jan 20 - 11:47 AM (#4029217)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"Folk traditions...do not exist outside the discursive edifice of revivalism."

One is bound to ask: is there any such thing as a tradition at all, then, or does it cease to exist the moment a folklorist identifies it as such?

Enjoyed your last post, Lighter.


20 Jan 20 - 02:01 PM (#4029238)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I found Brian's piece interesting. However, just on a very minor point, it seems to me that Copper does say that his grandfather was 'embarrassed', and the explanation of the context and audience that follows provide a reason for it. And being embarrassed is uncomfortable, more or less?

On the point about enjoying the music: I had always understood it that Sharp's main interest was in the tunes. I wonder which of his writings Brian could recommend for insight into his enjoyment of the musical side, something I myself sometimes think is ignored due to a focus on the words/text.   

I don't claim to know very much at all about Derrida, but I do know that within academia he is a controversial subject: differing Mudcat views on Ewan MacColl might give a sense of this.


20 Jan 20 - 02:33 PM (#4029241)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Sorry the MacColl discussions analogy was intended to convey a sense of how divisive the topic Derrida has been. Maybe a tad overstated but …

Personally, I am trying to get through Harker without too many side-tracks, fascinating though they are! I've got to take him back to the library soon, and then I'll be left with the onscreen version. I much prefer 'real books'!

Cole makes us think when he starts his piece with by introducing an eminent late 19th-century Jewish historian, Joseph Jacobs, and by referring to a paper he gave to the London's Folklore Society, of which he was a member, in 1893. What an interesting beginning to a piece on English Folkloristics!


20 Jan 20 - 02:35 PM (#4029243)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Yet another resolution down the pan.


20 Jan 20 - 02:45 PM (#4029248)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"it seems to me that Copper does say that his grandfather was 'embarrassed'..."

No he doesn't - see my italicization of the words 'any' and might'. Meaning, if they had felt any embarrassment, it was soon dispelled.

"I wonder which of his writings Brian could recommend for insight into his enjoyment of the musical side, something I myself sometimes think is ignored due to a focus on the words/text."

Sharp is usually criticized for the opposite failing, i.e. that he was interested only in the tunes, but although tunes were his first focus, he valued good texts too. He waxes especially lyrical about the songs he's hearing in Appalachia in letters home to his wife, but you'd need to go to the library as I did to read those. Online you could try his diaries and fair copy notebooks, which are available on the VWML site, though they take a lot of wading through, and are drier in one than the letters. The FOx Strangways / Karpeles biography has a vivid account of he gypsy singer Betsy Holland, then there's the introduction to EFSSA, and you might look at the account of Henry Larcombe's singing in 'Some Conclusions', though again that's a bit more technical than the boyish enthusiasm shown in the letters. A couple of samples below - not necessarily the best examples but the first ones I found in a quick trawl.

“I got some wonderful tunes and words this week, including a rare variant of The Cruel Mother, even more beautiful than my Somerset version.”

"I have had many long walks, doing 16 or 17 miles each day, and that very rough walking. But I am gradually getting used to it… I have got some very good songs – a wonderful version of Wraggle Taggle Gypsies much older than any I have found in England, and one called the False Knight on the road wh. I expect is one of the oldest songs I have ever collected. It is mentioned in Child who gives but one version – words only – wh. was collected in Scotland by Motherwell about 120 years ago. And now I have found another, tune and all – a great prize."

I'm preparing a piece for Musical Traditions which will go over a lot of this ground.


20 Jan 20 - 02:47 PM (#4029249)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Damn, dodgy letter 'T' on my keyboard.... Should have read 'drier in TONE...'


20 Jan 20 - 02:59 PM (#4029256)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish

I like Pseudonymous's "I agree with those who have said that some of Harker's more sweeping summings-up aren't fully justified from his evidence": in other words, Harker did much the same as many of the collectors stand accused of doing.

Sometimes I regret that Mudcat lacks the "like" facility that some other online fora have. A lot of sense has been written in this thread in the last few days, and very little nonsense.


20 Jan 20 - 04:50 PM (#4029278)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Richard, VicS has managed to acquire a thumbs up symbol on here. He'll have to tell us how to do it.

Hmmmm! I can see where Cole is coming from and I don't completely disagree that 'folk' is a middle class construct when only applied to certain levels of the community, the 'peasantry' for instance. However distorted it is, that construct has specific descriptors, and whilst we now allow for plenty of overlap with other constructs, it is surely quite valid to study that construct and how it has evolved and relates to other aspects of social history.

What I'm trying to say somewhat clumsily is, whether I agree with him or not, it certainly won't put me off to any extent doing what I do.


20 Jan 20 - 06:28 PM (#4029304)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello All

@ Brian: "Any embarrassment they might have felt at being asked to sing in front of a lady in an elegantly furnished drawing-room instead of at home in the cottage or in the tap room of the “Black ’un” was soon dispelled …" Had there been no embarrassment, then for me it would have said 'would soon have been dispelled'. The determiner 'any' usually means 'some' or 'a bit' or some such. The fact that a large amount of whisky was required suggests that the discomfort was not insignificant. Yes, I am showing a pedantic streak here. For me Cole is trying to put across the view of the Coppers. These words are from their own account. Lady Lee's account does not even mention the whisky. The account continues that the brothers were not allowed to leave until the bottle was empty and the Lady's note book was full.

Did I dream making a post about Cole?

Somebody (Lighter?) said that this sort of work was supposed to make you think. Cole does make you think at the outset by setting out a challenging scenario: an eminent Jewish scholar and 'polymath', Joseph Jacobs, addressing the English Folklore Society in and advancing a view that a) too often discussions of 'the folk' as people spoke as if the folk was one whereas 'the folk' would have been 'many-minded' b) communities are never entirely hermetic c) therefore you cannot draw a hard and fast line between 'folk' and 'art' d) a focus on sorting out what is old and what new interferes with a full 'folkloric' description of what the folk now are doing (if I have this right).

I think I said before that Cole makes you think by starting an article about fin de siècle English folklorists by referring to a lecture given in the England to a Folklore Society by a well-travelled and highly educated Jewish person (ie precisely one of the groups often 'othered' or treated as 'alterior' to use the language of the piece) - a process he discusses later in his piece when he discusses the tendency within folklore to look for nationally innate differences in music).

For me it is as if he is sort of making you see the development of English 'folklore' from the outside, from another perspective. He has an outsider sort of 'telling it like it is' but people on the inside of the folklorist world not listening. I think he is also showing how there were other views on folklore way back in time: he says how strikingly modern Jacob's views sound.

I probably haven't expressed my thoughts clearly enough here: but there you go. But this is my first attempt to answer the interesting question of why Cole starts his piece in such an unusual way.


20 Jan 20 - 06:37 PM (#4029306)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Forgot to say that I have looked at some videos of the Copper Family, as a result of reading about them on MUDCAT and that I enjoyed these!


20 Jan 20 - 06:47 PM (#4029308)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

Hi, Brian,

> "The audience was thus granted access to the Copper brothers’ songs only via a chain of mediations in which the songs were filtered, notated, arranged, and restaged by a group of metropolitan folk-song devotees."

Seems to imply that somebody (including the Coppers and the audience) should be angry about this.

> according to an agenda of nationalism or imperialism

This sounds sinister but isn't. As Brian says, the collectors obviously loved the songs they were collecting. Otherwise, why bother? Did Sharp & Karpeles travel to the remote Southern Appalachians, or publish what they found, because they were driven by a nationalist or imperialist agenda? (A suggestion/ accusation that makes them seem more like jingo politicians stirring up trouble than mere folksong collectors.)

(Cole and Harker might argue there's no such thing as a "mere" collector, because, as is often said, "everything is political" and "everybody has an agenda.")

It seems clear, at least to me, that any nationalist, imperialist, racialist, reactionary, elitist, or similarly unsavory motives the collectors may have had were no greater than the average person's of their day, and far less consequential than those of some.

But suppose the collectors were just as self-deluding, condescending, sanitizing, and generally falsifying as Harker and Cole suggest. Without their "agendas" (sounds calculating, doesn't it?), the folklore, "mediated," edited, and arbitrarily chosen as it may have been, presumably would have gone forever uncollected.

Fortunately that didn't happen. What might we have now if poststructuralists, deconstructionists, post-colonialists, sociopolitical historicists, and others had been around in Scott's day, for example, to do the job of collecting, disseminating, and commenting "right," while trying to keep the likes of the Folk Song Society at bay?

One wonders.


20 Jan 20 - 07:05 PM (#4029310)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

Wikipedia has (what appears to be) a fine article on Joseph Jacobs.

In college I read Jacobs's four-volume collection of "English Fairy Tales" and "Celtic Fairy Tales" (edited for children but with endnotes for adults).

They are drawn from "mediated" sources and rewritten further for their intended audience, but they are quite delightful nonetheless.


21 Jan 20 - 04:43 AM (#4029360)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

If you have a tendency to get a dry throat either skip this or take it with a glass of water. I expect and would be glad if Lighter would feedback on any misrepresentations in terms of 'literary theory' because in one sense this is what Cope is applying, especially the 'postmodern' variety/ies. Having started with a theorist from one context, Cole relies on a theorist from a very different context for the rest, a Jesuit academic called Michael de Certeau. Chalk and cheese? If so, then perhaps an example of the 'bricolage' mentioned by Cole himself in the piece. Put simply, and I have not studied de Certeau beyond Cole (which I have only skimmed) and Wikipedia, which is often rubbish, de Certeau's framework offers a way for people at the bottom of the power struggle to struggle, this comes via his 'strategy' -'tactics' ideas. So Jesuit, Roman Catholic, another group perhaps 'othered' within fin de siècle nationalistic imperialistic ethnocentric folklorist thinking? (And of course historically not above a bit of 'othering'? I'm think Galileo will often have had the Jesuits in his mind a lot more often than the Babylonians).

I would say to sum up that you can read Cole's piece as 'postmodern'. This line of thinking gives me a migraine (as mentioned above) a) because a lot of it is difficult to the point of being stylistic rather than rational in its arguments (eg Derrydown) b) because it means something like a distrust of overarching narratives - while as far as I can see being one itself - but ignore that for now.

The overarching narrative he seeks to critique is a complex one in which the history of what he calls something like the 'low other' (aka the working class/ordinary people/peasants delete as appropriate) is subsumed together with romanticism about the past and a dollop of oral origins theory within an overarching nationalistic etc narrative.

The two theorists I have mentioned are interesting choices because (and this is just my take) Judaism and Roman Catholicism have of course had a lot of influence on the history of England via among other things the Roman Catholic faith, the first part of whose religious book is also a religious text for Judaism.

It is in line with this postmodernist distrust of overarching narratives that he says we should try to listen to the voices of 'the folk' to use a loaded term, which are not overarching narratives. So he says that the Coppers have produced some well-written books.

I am sorry if this doesn't make sense. Maybe Lighter can help me out here!

Changing tack: as long-term lovers and singers of old songs, both Brian Peters and Steve Gardham will have their own personal relationships with the material, and a unique perspective as performers. This is to be respected of course.

Have a nice day everybody.


21 Jan 20 - 04:47 AM (#4029362)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"What might we have now if poststructuralists, deconstructionists, post-colonialists, sociopolitical historicists, and others had been around in Scott's day, for example, to do the job of collecting, disseminating, and commenting "right," while trying to keep the likes of the Folk Song Society at bay?"

Excellent question, and who knows? Perhaps a little more of the voice of the people? Scottish Independence? Who knows?


21 Jan 20 - 04:54 AM (#4029363)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Back for a moment to the Coppers and Kate Lee...

"The determiner 'any' usually means 'some' or 'a bit' or some such."

I'm sorry, but this is incorrect. The word 'might' in the sentence makes the sense subjunctive.

Bob Copper was a remarkable, generous and delightful man, blessed with great intelligence, articulacy and powers of observation. In this context, however, he is a 'mediator', for those that like the term. Brasser and Tom Copper met Kate Lee in 1897, 18 years before Bob was born, and when his father Jim was 17. Bob stated in an interview in the 1980s that the meeting had never been mentioned within the family until 1950, when Francis Collinson - who was collecting songs from them - brought it up. At which point Jim broke in with [to quote Bob] “Oh yes, I remember my old dad and uncle Tom going to old Teddy Carson’s house, and there was some woman up there that put a bottle of scotch on the table, a decanter of water and two glasses, and she wouldn’t let ’em go until they’d finished the scotch.”

There's no mention of embarrassment or discomfort here, in fact the reference to "old Teddy Carson's house" conveys the opposite impression. However, when Bob wrote up the story in 'A Song for Every Season', he clearly used his mastery of story-telling to embroider the tale with some speculation of his own about how his forebears might have felt, guessing that if they'd felt any embarrassment, this would soon have been dispelled by the prospect of alcohol - which, it has to be said, features prominently in much Copper Family lore.

Does this matter? Well, I raised it because it seemed important to Dr Cole's argument in one of three real-life examples he chose to illustrate his theoretical position, and his interpretation of the story looks a lot like bending the facts. There is simply no evidence in the above that the two Copper brothers were 'uncomfortable' during their meeting with Kate Lee, or that this affected what they sang.


21 Jan 20 - 05:16 AM (#4029369)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"Cole makes us think when he starts his piece with by introducing an eminent late 19th-century Jewish historian, Joseph Jacobs, and by referring to a paper he gave to the London's Folklore Society, of which he was a member, in 1893. What an interesting beginning to a piece on English Folkloristics!"

It's not so surprising when you recall that the quote Cole pulls from Jacobs - “the Folk is simply a name for our ignorance" - was previously quoted in 'Fakesong' and is also used in 'The Imagined Village' for the title of the first chapter. As I said, Cole is rereading some familiar territory.

"a well-travelled and highly educated Jewish person (ie precisely one of the groups often 'othered' or treated as 'alterior' to use the language of the piece)..."

Could you perhaps explain what you're getting at here?


21 Jan 20 - 05:24 AM (#4029370)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

I think what Brian Peters says about the Copper's trip to the big house relates to something that for me is the elephant in the room for many discussions of song collecting. Harker's political standpoint leads to his characters being largely regarded as of the bougoisie or of the folk.

The real world is made up of multitudes of subcultures related to type of work, geography, place of work, who people chose to hang out with etc. Some people interact awkwardly when even a little out of their comfort zone, others seem to me able to talk easily to anyone anywhere.

Never mind how comfortable to Coppers were in the drawing room, how would Mrs Lee have coped in the pub or their kitchen? That's a situation more common in most of the collecting. The source singers may have had more idea of life in a big house (from being related to the staff perhaps) than the posh folk did of life in the village. But then a concientious long-serving country parson might have a very good idea of what made his parishoners tick. Reading part 1 of Harkers book I was left with no idea of how good the collectors where at talking to the folk. Some might have been quite good, others a visitor from a different world.

This continues into the latest revival - stories of Fred Jordan wearing his Sunday best for first visits to folk clubs (why wouldn't he put on decent clothes for a trip out?) and the way Walter Pardon was described in that short film. Only few years ago at tunes session an oldish guy mentioning that some Irish travellers had set up in a layb-by just out of town resulted in some sucking in of air through teeth - followed by embarrased silence when he went on to say he was going to walk down to see if they had any tunes.

[was typing this during todays first posts]


21 Jan 20 - 05:36 AM (#4029373)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I should have put above: The two theorists I have mentioned are interesting choices because (and this is just my take) Judaism and Roman Catholicism have of course had a lot of influence on the history of England via among other things the Roman Catholic faith, the first part of whose religious book is also a religious text for Judaism. Yet the voices of neither seems to come through to any extent in the 'folksong' canon that has been passed down to us.

Brian. I do love a good grammatical argument. You wrote

" 'The determiner 'any' usually means 'some' or 'a bit' or some such.'"

I'm sorry, but this is incorrect "

With respect, it isn't. I refer you to the discussion of 'some and any' in An A - Z of English Grammar and Usage by Leech, Cruikshank and Ivanic.

Cole gives quite a long quotation from Copper. The uncomfortable nature of the situation shines through the details: the place, the power situation (they could not go until allowed to); the clothing being unlike their usual singing clothes. And this comes from Copper, not from Cole. Cole points out that Lady Lee then went on the perform at least some of the songs she had noted down.

Cole is writing about a performance by Lady Lee when he says: The audience was thus granted access to the Copper brothers’ songs only via a chain of mediations in which the songs were filtered, notated, arranged, and restaged by a group of metropolitan folk-song devotees."
I cannot argue with this. However, in line with his postmodern approach Cole gives the view of Copper, the 'lower other' to use Cole's term.


21 Jan 20 - 05:38 AM (#4029374)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,kenny

A story to follow on from the above :
The late Jim Reid, that great singer from Arbroath told us this at Blairgowrie Folk Club in the early 1970s. Jim was in a trio at the time whose name escapes me, but they were driving north on the A9 to do a gig in Aviemore, when they spotted some travellers camped beside the road. They stopped the car, went over and explained that they were interested in traditional Scottish songs, did they, the travellers, know any ? One of them sang a few songs for Jim and the lads, who then asked where he got the songs from.
"Och, I got them off a couple of "Corries" albums" :)


21 Jan 20 - 05:50 AM (#4029376)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Pseudonymous. Do we know what grammar textbook Bob Copper used?


21 Jan 20 - 05:55 AM (#4029377)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

jag writes:
"how would Mrs Lee have coped in the pub or their kitchen? That's a situation more common in most of the collecting."

I wonder how much pre-1914 folk song collecting was done in pubs? I know of one story of Sharp (but can't recall the name of the pub), and one story of RVW and George Butterworth. There may be a few more, but most of the collecting was done (certainly by Sharp) in people's homes, by the side of the road, or the workhouse. Sometimes the singers went to the home of the local gentry such the Coppers in the references above, the gatherings of singers at Marson's home / vicarage in Hambridge. Grainger did this in Lincolnshire, because he wanted to record the singing on a phonograph - putting it in the basket of a bicycle and trundling it along country lanes isn't conducive to keeping the machine in working order. Grainger found his singers in the villages and then brought them to the local 'big' house for the recordings.

Ah, the old story of Fred in his Sunday best. I don't think Fred had what people would think of as Sunday best. His first "folk" performance was 1954 at a barn dance in Birmingham Town Hall. Details of what he wore on that occasion have not emerged. See the booklet accompanying the double CD on Veteran, A Shropshire Lad.

By the way, it's Ross Cole not John Cole (unless he has two given names!).

Derek


21 Jan 20 - 05:59 AM (#4029378)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Leech and co are also quite good on the subjunctive, as is David Crystal's 'Rediscover Grammar'. The superordinate/main clause we are discussing is declarative:'The .. embarrassment .. *was* soon dispelled. What Copper is saying is that no matter *how* embarrassed they were by this unusual situation the whisky would have relaxed them. But I don't want to digress from thread topic more, and would be happy to disagree or for Brian to have the very last word on this.


21 Jan 20 - 06:18 AM (#4029381)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Brian. To clarify my point, if you had time you could look at the first paragraph at least of this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_England

and the whole of this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edict_of_Expulsion

And a short definition of 'to other': VERB
othering (present participle)
view or treat (a person or group of people) as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself. eg "a critique of the ways in which the elderly are othered by society"



Hope this helps.


21 Jan 20 - 06:27 AM (#4029383)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Steve G wrote:

"I don't completely disagree that 'folk' is a middle class construct..."

Nor do I completely disagree with it, especially in the drawing-room piano arrangements that Lee, Broadwood and Sharp applied to some of their material - though overall they published a greater proportion unembellished, and recorded in their notebooks as faithfully as they could the raw material.

What is not a middle-class construct, though, is that people sang songs for their own entertainment, and that in many cases these were passed down orally through one or more generations. You can of course argue about the selectivity of the Edwardian collectors in terms of material and geography, but even in this area there was a logic at work: to qualify as 'folk' a song had to have been passed on generationally (even today Steve Roud cites two generations' transmission as being a desirable qualification) which meant that songs composed during the lifetime of an informant - which would include a lot of the music hall stuff - wouldn't pass muster. Aesthetic preference was no doubt an element as well. It's a fact acknowledged surprisingly infrequently that music hall or minstrel songs generally used language (musical and/or textual) and subject matter different to those of the older songs the collectors defined as 'folk', and a field worker would be able to distinguish the two with some degree of accuracy. So, while a modern ethnomusicologist would disapprove of Sharp's having spurned all those versions of 'My Grandfather's Clock' he so despised, there was a rationale behind the selectivity.

Naming the phenomenon 'folk' is arguably a middle-class construct - since no singer predating the revival would have used the term - but no more so, I suggest, than calling it 'vernacular singing' or 'workers' culture'. Observers studying something generally need to find a name for it.

"It seems clear, at least to me, that any nationalist, imperialist, racialist, reactionary, elitist, or similarly unsavory motives the collectors may have had were no greater than the average person's of their day, and far less consequential than those of some."

I agree with that, Lighter. And regarding your point about the possible anger of the Copper Family a he mediation of heir songs, of course Bob was delighted to find out about Kate Lee: "Don’t think that Ron and me as kids were brought up thinking our grandfathers were this or that. We existed!"


21 Jan 20 - 06:28 AM (#4029384)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

and by Joseph Jacobs:

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/5764-england

and this is interesting, with links to Vic Gammon, who almost always has something interesting and sensible to say.

https://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/sirhugh.html


21 Jan 20 - 06:40 AM (#4029387)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

So your suggestion is that he folk revival was institutionally antisemitic?


21 Jan 20 - 06:50 AM (#4029388)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"how would Mrs Lee have coped in the pub or their kitchen? That's a situation more common in most of the collecting."

An interesting question. To Derek's reply I can add that Sharp and Karpeles in the Appalachians collected a lot of his songs in family homes, often eating with the family and very occasionally staying overnight. These occasions were cordial, and Sharp seems to have felt no discomfort either materially (in the local hotels it was a very different matter!) or socially.


21 Jan 20 - 06:58 AM (#4029390)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"would be happy to disagree or for Brian to have the very last word on this."

'...might...'


21 Jan 20 - 07:16 AM (#4029393)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Pseudonymous. I don't find your use of the sociological term 'other' outside an academic context helpful. Your brief explanation doesn't make sense to me - for elderly people are regarded intrinsically different from, presumably, non-elderly people then 'intrinsic' must have a meaning diferent from the one in the dictionary. See a longer discussion of usage https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/other-as-a-verb

In non-specialist usage you get daft things like people resenting being 'othered' and then forming campaign groups for their particular concerns.


21 Jan 20 - 07:17 AM (#4029395)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Well said, Brian!


21 Jan 20 - 07:28 AM (#4029398)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

OK Jag. Interesting - and fair point for discussion. I was trying to get the general idea across though, if that excuses my oversimplification. There is a lot about this concept and its origins on Wikipedia. Lighter mentioned Foucault, who comes in under the Wiki section on 'othering' under the heading 'cultural representations' and is indeed mentioned in Cole. I used the term simply because Cole does. But this thread is drifting further and further.


21 Jan 20 - 07:42 AM (#4029401)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"What is not a middle-class construct, though, is that people sang songs for their own entertainment, and that in many cases these were passed down orally through one or more generations."

Hello Brian. I'm not sure that anybody here is denying this. (Does the first generation have to have died for Steve's number of generations rule to apply? I have a (living) friend with great, great grandchildren!)


21 Jan 20 - 07:49 AM (#4029403)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

I have been following the investigation of the Coppers/Kate Lee meeting with considerable interest. I know the story well from fairly close and regular contact with the family over 50 years. Of course, I know the story as told by Bob and latterly by John from the Family's point of view but without giving much thought to the mediation, interpretation or even the linguistics and grammar of the story which participants of this thread are attempting to analyse.
I feel that I am playing an on-going part in this from my many TV and radio broadcasts and articles that I involved in with them. Here is the earliest example before Bob's first book was published.

This morning I was sorting out some photos of 2008 interview that I conducted with five of Bob's grandchildren to load on Facebook - Brian and Derek and possibly others are likely to see these.

Next week, I will be going over there again to interview Jon Dudley for an article I am planning on his important role in family. Before then, I will ask Jon to read the relevant section of this thread. It will be interesting to hear his views on it.


21 Jan 20 - 07:51 AM (#4029404)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

I think the drift started with Cole, not that he isn't relevant.

When I started reading the link you gave to him I decided I would get round to reading "The Imagined Village" (have read lots of the reviews and discussion) rather than read more of Harker. Then the discussion swung to 'The Folk'


21 Jan 20 - 08:05 AM (#4029406)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I think Steve Gardham suggested Cole as a comparison with Harker, so one is Trotskyist, the other 'postmodern'? And similarities...

Has anybody seen the Big Red Songbook co-edited by Harker and published by Pluto Press (1981), or a song list from it. It might throw light on what Harker thought it worth singing? Can't find a Mudcat thread on it, did look.


21 Jan 20 - 08:07 AM (#4029407)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Many thanks, Vic. I apologise for not having recommended (nor, I suspect, having read) this fascinating piece. It's weird how this stuff can hide in plain sight - but one of the reasons for having discussions like this one is that people share good things.


21 Jan 20 - 08:52 AM (#4029412)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I too like Vic's piece. Assuming the whole interview is verbatim, including the questions, then it seems that Bob Copper was a highly articulate and confident person who did not need much 'prodding' or 'leading' to hold forth. I suppose that the fact he had just written a book means he had lots of ideas fresh in his head.


21 Jan 20 - 09:12 AM (#4029415)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Pseudonymous wrote:-
Assuming the whole interview is verbatim, including the questions
It is.


21 Jan 20 - 09:25 AM (#4029418)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>>What is not a middle-class construct, though, is that people sang songs for their own entertainment, and that in many cases these were passed down orally through one or more generations.<<<<<
Absolutely. But can we just take as read that everybody we know is eternally grateful to all of the collectors for what they did?

Perhaps in hindsight, they could have made a comment that their singers also sang other material than what they collected. Were these other items (parlour songs, Music Hall etc.) also folk if they were sung and valued by the same singers? I know you are aware of this but their collections do include quite a few songs that were definitely Music Hall and parlour songs. And what of those of us who were collecting in the 60s? Should we have ignored Music Hall songs? All of the songs in John Howson's 'Songs Sung in Suffolk' have Roud Numbers. John may have avoided using the word 'folk' to avoid any contention, but to me they are all folk songs.


21 Jan 20 - 09:56 AM (#4029425)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

BTW Jon Dudley does occasionally pop in here and very welcome are his thoughtful contributions. He certainly has no romantic delusions about their generation keeping the songs alive.


21 Jan 20 - 10:00 AM (#4029428)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Should we have ignored Music Hall songs?

If the aesthetic choices of the folk are relevant it seems odd to propogate the songs they have polished without also including the other songs for which they had voted with their voices. But maybe they just needed listing, and singing, if the original texts were still around. Singers of the recent revival certainly didn't ignore all of them.

As Joseph Jacobs, quoted by Cole, wrote "Breaking down the distinction between the Folk of the past and of the present, we shall be able to study the lore of the present with happy results....The music-hall, from this point of view, will have its charm for the folk-lorist, who will there find the Volkslieder of to-day.”

(Discussion about the state of Folk music in the UK anyone? ...)

@Pseudonymous. I don't think Cole starting with Jacobs had anything to do with him being Jewish. It's because he was a forerunner of some later approaches, as Cole says. Whether Jacobs background and experience has anything to do with him being able to stand back and take an original view of things is another matter.


21 Jan 20 - 10:22 AM (#4029431)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Vic: thanks for the clarification here.

Jag: I respect your point of view: I am just offering one interpretation.

Regarding what 'collectors' should collect: maybe this depends on what they set out to do?

If a person sets out to do some sort of 'ethnographic' or 'ethnomusicological study' of how a particular person or group use music/song in their lives, then perhaps it would be odd to exclude music/songs of a particular provenance?

If a person just sets out, for whatever reason, to collect just songs they define as 'folk' (trying to steer away from definitional problems here), then they might take a different approach.

I think that Harker makes the point that by ignoring whole 'repertoires', and making broad statements on this basis, some mediators run the risk of/have misrepresented working-class life as lived. Something like that.


21 Jan 20 - 10:35 AM (#4029433)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

Has anybody seen the Big Red Songbook co-edited by Harker and published by Pluto Press (1981), or a song list from it.

I may have a copy around somewhere - I sold dozens of them when I was in the radical book trade at the time it was published. Very handy little book, pocketable format and it had a lot of the songs people actually did sing on demos at the time (as well as a few clunkers the SWP hoped would catch on). If I remember right the one problem with it was that it was a bit random whether a song was given with its tune or not, and sometimes the omitted tune was something I didn't know.


21 Jan 20 - 10:49 AM (#4029435)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

I have a Big Red Songbook, edited by Collins, Harker and White. The first two songs are 'The International' and 'The Red Flag', and most of the material thereafter is by songwriters such as Alex Glasgow, MacColl, Seeger, Rosselson etc. There's a small number of tradiional songs, one of which 'The Blackleg Miner', we suspect to have been highly 'mediated'. To what extent the book tries to represent 'Workers' Culture', as opposed to the tastes of the second Folk Revival, is open to question, since there's no introduction nor notes on the songs. There's some good stuff in there, mind.


21 Jan 20 - 10:53 AM (#4029437)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Steve wrote: -
I know you are aware of this but their collections do include quite a few songs that were definitely Music Hall and parlour songs. And what of those of us who were collecting in the 60s? Should we have ignored Music Hall songs?

This is, of course, was the centrally disputed point in the long, contentious - at times aggressive - thread on Steve Roud's book with the main objector not currently taking part in Mudcat debates.
One of the strangest things for me about this is that quite a number of the songs that my father (born -1914 - & raised in rural Oxfordshire not far from where Freda Palmer lived) sang around the house now have Roud numbers. Two examples would be The Little Shirt My Mother Made For Me (Roud 10437) and Two Sweethearts (Roud 1783). The latter is the "One had hair of silvery grey..." song.
I particularly hated the "Little Shirt" song when I was young finding it a silly, annoying song. Much later on when I started spending time with the old rural singers in Sussex, I was surprised to hear it sung by, amongst others, George Belton and George Spicer. Significantly, the versions in words and tune that the Georges sang showed differences from one another and both these showed differences from that version that I had learned (unwillingly, reluctantly but very vividly in my memory) from a previous Vic Smith. By that time it was too late to ask my dad where and how he had learned it.
I would bet that none of these three singers could tell you that the song was written by Harry Wincott (1 January 1867 – 20 April 1947) who composed songs for many of the Music Hall greats. All of them could have the song learned from recordings, from the radio or sung by members of their family or community. The important thing for Steve R. and other modern ethnomusicologists/folk song scholars is that the song had been taken up by the "folk" and had been subject to the process of change.
This raises two (not all that serious!) questions for me: -
1] If I learned songs with Roud numbers from my father, does that make me a traditional singer?
2] If the answer is Q.1 is "yes" can I expect to be treated with more respect and reverence on this forum?
Apologies for the thread drift but don't blame me, guv, blame that Steve Gardham, He set me off - honest!


21 Jan 20 - 10:56 AM (#4029439)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Steve Gradham again:-
Jon Dudley does occasionally pop in here and very welcome are his thoughtful contributions. He certainly has no romantic delusions about their generation keeping the songs alive.

I have emailed Jon to bring the latter part of this thread to his attention. I will certainly be taking up some of the points that have been raised when I interview him next week.


21 Jan 20 - 10:58 AM (#4029440)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

> some mediators run the risk of/have misrepresented working-class life as lived.

Few (if any) song mediators have been sociologists or anthropologists , or even thought of their work in those terms, so this is a bit like criticizing novelists, perhaps, for not being academic postmodern theorists.

I'd expect that an understanding of working-class life must rely far more heavily on other sources than tunes and songs - though those sources would obviously include non-musical lore.


21 Jan 20 - 11:28 AM (#4029444)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

I'd expect that an understanding of working-class life must rely far more heavily on other sources than tunes and songs.

Yes, though an understanding of the musical life of working class people should rely on more than just some of the songs.


21 Jan 20 - 12:45 PM (#4029464)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"Yes, though an understanding of the musical life of working class people should rely on more than just some of the songs."

But they weren't trying to do that either. If the work of the collectors happened in passing to shed at least some light on he musical culture of the rural working class, isn't that a good deal better than nothing. Who else was studying working class culture at he time (genuine question).


21 Jan 20 - 12:57 PM (#4029466)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

SG:
"Perhaps in hindsight, they could have made a comment that their singers also sang other material than what they collected. Were these other items (parlour songs, Music Hall etc.)..? I know you are aware of this but their collections do include quite a few songs that were definitely Music Hall and parlour songs. And what of those of us who were collecting in the 60s? Should we have ignored Music Hall songs?"

I know that Sharp did in the case of 'Grandfather's Clock' a piece of info I got from one of Derek's publications. There may be more examples of exclusions (*Derek?), though even Harker concedes that he noted 'Down in a Coal Mine' from Louie Hooper, and there may have been others. Certainly in the Appalachians he made value judgements about the material he heard and admitted excluding items, but he also collected and sometimes published American songs including some relatively recent ones (civil war, etc), minstrel songs, hymns and sentimental parlour pieces. My case in the FMJ paper was that he opened the gates a bit wider with each successive year.

Of course you shouldn't have excluded Music Hall songs, Steve. Quite apart from the changing focus to reflect a complete repertoire, by the time you were in the field those songs had been around a lot longer with (a least potentially) more time to be assimilated. Of course that doesn't rule out the possibility that some were learned from the radio, but that wouldn't rule them out to a later C20 collector, especially given the American experience.


21 Jan 20 - 01:00 PM (#4029468)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Henry Mayhew??
>>>>>isn't that a good deal better than nothing<<<<
>>>>>>everybody we know is eternally grateful to all of the collectors for what they did?<<<<<< Steve 9.25 am (3.25 BSTish)


21 Jan 20 - 01:00 PM (#4029469)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Thank you Jag and Lighter for showing me what I should have put.

I am thinking of partly something MacColl said about studying music in context. A recent discussion shows that his attempt to do this with Scottish Travellers has met with a mixed reception. I think he probably was attempting some sort of ethnomusicology.

Just a point: while I am trying to get clear (in my own head as much as anywhere else, this is one point of discussion, to learn) what Harker does and does not say, this does not necessarily mean that I agree with his points!

For example, though I can see why he does it, I wish he wouldn't use the phrase 'social-Darwinist' quite so often (maybe I've just read the same passages several times?)

By the way, one thing I liked about Vic Smith's Copper article was that the date and the context were both clear. One can find 'in your own words' pieces made up of quotations from various interviews at various times, with no background and context. If an interviewee has been spoken with over a reasonably long period in time, it may be that their views have altered. This is ok as journalism, but if people later come along (say 50 years later) and want to draw serious information and so on it is less than helpful.

Interesting thread, hoping to focus myself on what Harker has to say about Child - and Grundtwig - especially the latter's contribution.

Of course, not all the 'collectors' Harker discusses were song collectors, or even collectors from the oral tradition; a lot of them seem to have collected mainly antiquarian manuscripts especially those in earlier chapters.


21 Jan 20 - 01:05 PM (#4029471)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Has On Ilkley Moor bar t'at got a Roud number yet? Because I know a family where two generations learned it orally, though with what variations I don't know as I never saw or heard an original? We sing this when making an appropriate journey and with our tongues in our cheeks and a due respect for regional varieties of the English language I hope.


21 Jan 20 - 01:14 PM (#4029474)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

I think there's a thread on it somewhere. There is actually a full book on it by I think Arthur Kellett. Apparently it dates from the 1920s among ramblers from the big cities. I've known it practically all my life, being a Yorkshireman, but I don't think it would stand up to the variation factor. It certainly started off in a specific community and then was taken up as some sort of Yorkshire anthem, so then a wider community; much like the broadside ballads actually.


21 Jan 20 - 01:22 PM (#4029476)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

I thought that I would check this song for Pseudonymous so I clicked on my much-used link to the Roud index - last used successfully to get the Roud numbers that I posted earlier today but when I did I got this message: -

That page is not recognised

Apologies for the inconvenience, but the page you have requested has not been recognised.

You are probably trying to look at a deleted or out-of-date page.

To find the page or event listing you were after, please go to either The English Folk Dance and Song Society site, The Cecil Sharp House site, or The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library site and either search for the page, or browse through the menus.

If you still can't find what you're after please feel free to email us for help.

Could anyone tell me what is happening (and if they are encountering a similar problem?)
All the sites in the "To find the page...." sentence were provided with links and can't get any of them to work.


21 Jan 20 - 01:28 PM (#4029478)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Brian Peters. Sorry, I wasn't clear. I was taking Lighter's point and going further to say that not only is more required to understand "working class life" but more is required to understand even the more restricted "musical life of the working class".

I wasn't faulting the collectors from not representing the wider musical life (and some such as Alfred Williams did), I was faulting the sociologists and anthropologists for either going too with something that is so incomplete or claiming that the 'mediators' went too far.


21 Jan 20 - 01:37 PM (#4029480)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

OK Jag, we're in agreement then.


21 Jan 20 - 01:38 PM (#4029481)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Vic Smith. I get the same. It looks like their web site is not working properly. It's been working within the recent life of this discussion.


21 Jan 20 - 02:08 PM (#4029489)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Me too. Also Tradsong Yahoo forum got a message from one of EFDSS giving info on the Roy Palmer lectures and the attachment gave the same message.
Steve Roud's on it so hopefully it will be fixed quickly.


21 Jan 20 - 03:08 PM (#4029499)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I am amazed at the knowledge and work on folksong and the dedication that some posters on this thread demonstrate. It is honestly humbling! And so nice not to get into overheated repetitions of the same engrained points of view.


21 Jan 20 - 03:21 PM (#4029501)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I think we made some minor changes to Ilkley Moor and these relate to differences between regional characteristics in English. Basically, we didn't do the 't' thing where I grew up, and we don't sing it except in the chorus line. We sing 'then ducks will come and eat up worms' etc. Probably not significant variance.


21 Jan 20 - 03:58 PM (#4029507)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

response disappeared! Oh, well that's gone. haven't got time to keep typing out the same stuff over and over.
    Steve, Highlight [CTRL-A] and Copy [CTRL-C] long posts to your computer's clipboard before posting, just in case your post doesn't "take." Then you can Paste [CTRL-V] it into a new message box or into a word processing document to save for later posting. Of course, I rarely remember to do this.
    -Joe Offer-


21 Jan 20 - 08:50 PM (#4029533)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

SG
"I don't think [Ilka Moor] would stand up to the variation factor.."

Well, wiki has this: 'Some singers add the responses "without thy trousers on" after the fourth line of each verse, and "where the ducks play football" after the seventh. Other variations include "where the nuns play rugby", "where the sheep fly backwards", "where the ducks fly backwards", "where the ducks wear trousers", "an' they've all got spots", and "where they've all got clogs on".

I've also heard: "...and they've all got tits on", "...where the ducks play rugby", and "...where Sir Geoff plays cricket". Sufficient variation there, surely?


22 Jan 20 - 01:17 AM (#4029546)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I was reviewing the thread and found this in one of Brian's interesting posts on discussion of the Copper family in Cole:

"However, when Bob wrote up the story in 'A Song for Every Season', he clearly used his mastery of story-telling to embroider the tale with some speculation of his own about how his forebears might have felt … "

I cannot remember where but I have come across the phrase 'self mediation'; I think the example was early 20th century informants holding back stuff they did not want to sing to collectors or did not think collectors would want. But it might apply to a person with a mastery of story-telling, with a tendency to embroider a tale.'

Without any disrespect to the Copper family, they do have a talent for self-presentation, and this will be partly linked to broader projects such as a book launch (in the example from Vic Smith) or CD releases etc. So this is a source of potential 'bias' in their accounts. In saying this I am just taking a step back and trying to see how their words and written prose may be viewed in later times by music historians trying to get to grips with it. I am not criticising: as I have said, I like what I know of them.

It seems that some people who sing folk and are collected from, and who are asked about what songs mean to them, are also good story tellers; this in itself casts doubt on how far one can rely on their accounts of the origins of songs, family lore, does it not? Please don't tell me I am calling people 'liars': this isn't what I mean at all.


22 Jan 20 - 04:56 AM (#4029555)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"a person with a mastery of story-telling, with a tendency to embroider a tale"

I spent quite a bit of time with Bob Copper, though I didn't know him as well as Vic, to whose judgement I would defer. However, what I can tell you about him is that, apart from his undoubted skills as a raconteur and writer, he had a tremendous grasp of detail, and ample dedication to carry out thorough research and documentation. Just read the interview with Vic, and the depth of knowledge that Bob displays. It doesn't rest on romantic imagination, and reads nothing like a 'promo puff' of the kind you're implying. That's just daft.

The phrase I described as 'embroidered' was carefully worded by Bob and it's clear which bit is speculative. I suggest you read 'A Song for Every Season' - it really is a wonderful book - before making claims of 'bias' - whatever you think that might mean in the present context.


22 Jan 20 - 05:10 AM (#4029557)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe Offer

I dunno, Brian. It seems to me that Bob Copper was a consummate showman, and I mean that as a compliment (and I think Pseudonymous does, too). But showmen always have a bit of "hooey" to them, and that's why we love them. I've never met Bob Copper in person, but his recordings and his books hold me in thrall.
Nobody can be as good as Bob Copper seems to be, but he had whatever magic it takes to make me a True Believer.
Joe


22 Jan 20 - 05:15 AM (#4029559)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Joe, I can assure you that Bob Copper was just as entertaining, fascinating and generous in private as in public. He regularly amazed me with his depth of knowledge. It really wasn't 'hooey'.


22 Jan 20 - 05:30 AM (#4029562)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe Offer

Hi, Brian, I think we're observing the same thing, but it may be a bifference between US and UK perception.
Whatever the case, my perception is that Bob Copper was absolutely delightful and absolutely credible. I myself have been accused at times of being a showman, so I think this is cool.
Joe


22 Jan 20 - 05:36 AM (#4029565)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

Brian … I can't remember writing anything about Grandfather's Clock. You'd have to remind me where it might have been.

Regarding Sharp and music hall songs. Of course he didn't collect them, unless by accident. He wrote in the introduction to The Country Dance Book part 1 in 1909:
"In the village of today the polka, waltz and quadrille are steadily displacing the old-time country dances and jigs, just as the tawdry ballads and strident street-songs of the towns are no less surely exterminating the folk-songs" P. 7. No doubt there are similar quotes in other publications, such as "poverty-stricken tunes of the music-hall … superficial attractiveness" … "coarse music-hall songs" English Folk Song: Some Conclusions, pages 135 and 137.

I only look at Mudcat once or twice a day, so I'm inevitably way behind on the discussion.

Derek


22 Jan 20 - 06:07 AM (#4029573)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I made my admiration for the Copper family explicit a few posts back.

Like Brian, Cole praised Copper's book, so it's on my list, which is very long. In addition the Copper family have a web site offering a discography and a range of print-based products, including song-books. It 'links' section leads to various interviews and articles. They also have a facebook page. As I have said before, I don't see anything wrong with people embracing, to whatever extent, commercial possibilities for their work. If all this isn't promotional (and therefore potentially biased i.e. showing a preference one way or another) …

I like Joe's word 'showman' even though perhaps it isn't the word an English person would use in this context.

The last paragraph in my post on 1.17 am (as recorded here) was a general one, not one aimed at the Copper family. And I think it is a point worth making in general.


22 Jan 20 - 06:20 AM (#4029576)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

As usual, Brian makes an interesting contribution to the discussion.

Perhaps we can agree that we find a mixture of 'hooey' and well-documented research in the work of Copper? Nothing to say that people cannot or do not produce both.

When I read the Vic Smith interview, I was reminded in part of those TV programmes where a guest has a product just on the market and this inevitably is mentioned during the programme. Nothing wrong with this, and it doesn't not imply that the product is poor quality.

A lot of modern folk singers and musicians are professional or semi-professional, as indeed is Brian himself. The Coppers seem to fall into this category.

This is a source of tension for some in the folk world, I think, who have in the past tended to define themselves in opposition to the world of commercialism, or in the case of others, to capitalism. We have discussed this already in connection with Harker, William Morris etc.


22 Jan 20 - 07:06 AM (#4029584)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"Perhaps we can agree that we find a mixture of 'hooey' and well-documented research in the work of Copper? Nothing to say that people cannot or do not produce both."

I suggest you wait until you've actually read the work of 'Copper' (ugh) before making a pronouncement like this, and expecting anyone to agree to it.

"When I read the Vic Smith interview, I was reminded in part of those TV programmes where a guest has a product just on the market and this inevitably is mentioned during the programme. Nothing wrong with this, and it doesn't not imply that the product is poor quality."

We're not talking about quality here. You've brought up an allegation of 'bias', which suggests you believe that Bob Copper's account of life and singing culture in Rottingdean may be unreliable. I'd like to know how you can justify this, on the basis apparently of a single interview, albeit one which includes a wealth of extremely important detail.

"A lot of modern folk singers and musicians are professional or semi-professional, as indeed is Brian himself. The Coppers seem to fall into this category."

The Coppers run a very attractive website these days, not surprisingly since certain family members are professional graphic designers. Of course the family has been paid for their guest appearances, but again I don't see how this bears on the accuracy of Bob Copper's testimony in 1971, which is what we are talking about.


22 Jan 20 - 07:23 AM (#4029588)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Pseudonymous wrote:-
Please don't tell me I am calling people 'liars': this isn't what I mean at all.
Certainly I would not call you a liar for what you are saying about Bob Copper but I would say that you are exhibiting a profound lack of empathy for the way that Bob expressed himself as well a complete misunderstanding of the way that we should regard Bob's statements, musings, reflections and stories. They are not academic attempts to get to the factual roots of past occurrences; they are Oral History and as such they are very important for informing us not only about events, but also about attitudes, opinions and a recognition of the things the go towards defining the spoken cultural heritage of a community. They are vital.

An interviewer should say as little as possible and give the informant his or her head about what is important in their view - and nearly always they are right. There are many points in the interviews that I have conducted where I have not realised the significance of what I have recorded until some time afterwards.

The interviewer should never express disbelief, never contradict, never challenge. This is not a media situation where a politician is being grilled on behalf of the public. It is much more intimate and eventually much more revealing than that. This became even more important when I interviewed some of the greatest tradition bearers amongst the Scots travellers - a severely marginalised group for whom the supernatural was part of their everyday lives. If I had said anything like, "That's not true - that didn't actually happen - I don't believe you." etc. then they would have dried up on me straight away and I would have failed to uncover the attitudes that led to their view of the world and that was what I was after.

I suppose what I have written reveals as much about myself as anything else; I have always been much more interested in people than raw information.

Coming back to Bob - and to his singing contemporaries in Sussex - the likes of Johnny Doughty, Gordon Hall, Bob Blake, Ron Spicer, Louie Fuller, George Belton, Scan Tester - all of whom I interviewed (probably others, I don't keep lists), usually but not always for the weekly BBC Radio Sussex folk music programme "Minstrels Gallery" which I introduced for 17 years, I can only thank them belatedly for the hours of enormous pleasure that I spent in their company and the huge insights that I gained from talking to them.

But particularly Bob Copper.... We used him on our programme many, many times during those years and he was such a great natural broadcaster and could speak knowledgeably on a wide range of subjects. I remember saying to him on one occasion after again being really impressed with his performance in front of a microphone, "You know, Bob, you could have been the BBC's countryman, another Franklin Engelmann, another John Arlott." But I knew that in those days on his wife's illness that he did not want to be away from home for more than a short while; so the trip over to our studios in Brighton would be about right. His reply was brief but firm - "Family first! Always family first." - and, as always, he was right.


22 Jan 20 - 09:06 AM (#4029600)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

”Brian … I can't remember writing anything about Grandfather's Clock. You'd have to remind me where it might have been.”

Derek, I refer you to:
Schofield, D. (2004) Sowing the Seeds: Cecil Sharp and Charles Marson in Somerset in 1903. Folk Music Journal 8 (6), p 497

This includes the following quote from Cecil Sharp’s Hampstead lecture in1903:

“I could easily have filled my notebook with Music Hall songs, [Minstrel] songs, or with the popular songs of fifty years ago and less, such as ‘Grandfather’s Clock’, ‘A Life on the Ocean Wave’, ‘Woodman Spare That Tree’, ‘Wait Till the Clouds Roll By’ and drivel of that sort. Gradually however we worked through that stratum and eventually struck a rich vein of Real Folk Song, of the kind we were searching for...”

It’s an excellent article, and I commend it to you and others.


22 Jan 20 - 11:14 AM (#4029623)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I think I might have misread something Brian put. When he wrote that Copper 'had a tremendous grasp of detail, and ample dedication to carry out thorough research and documentation' I took him to mean that I would find examples of these qualities in his book. This is why, taking Brian's word for it, I suggested that we might agree that the book included both hooey and well-documented research.

As I seem to have misunderstood why Brian was making this point, and as it seems he is not claiming that the book includes well-documented research, then obviously there can be no agreement of the sort I proposed.

Brian uses the word 'allegation' to refer to my point that what Copper says will be potentially biased. For me, it isn't the right word for the point I was making, and for me it wouldn't be the right word even if I put plain 'biased'.


22 Jan 20 - 11:18 AM (#4029626)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Still reading Harker on Child and on 'balladry'. Some of those mentioned I have encountered before, eg Gerould, so I can make an attempt to see how far I think Harker represents their views fairly.


22 Jan 20 - 11:35 AM (#4029628)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Definitions of 'hooey': 'foolish', 'wrong', 'nonsense'.

"I seem to have misunderstood why Brian was making this point, and as it seems he is not claiming that the book includes well-documented research"

As you very well know, despite the leaden sarcasm, I discount entirely the notion that 'A Song for Every Season' contains 'hooey' (and am disappointed that Joe Offer first brought up the term).

I try not to fly off the handle or get personally affronted when people dangle wilfully contrarian and ill-informed comments on subjects I know and care about, but I've found some of the stuff written about Bob Copper above tasteless and trying. Assuming the rattle of hooves I hear in the distance is indeed the Three Billy Goats Gruff arriving to take over my shift, I'll abstain from further response for now.


22 Jan 20 - 12:30 PM (#4029636)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

I dunno, Brian. It seems to me that Bob Copper was a consummate showman. joe offer.
for god sake, Bob Copper was just himself, to describe him as a consummate showman, is in my opinion inaccurate, its the same sort of inaccuracy as saying there was a walter pardon industry, or much worse that nic jones stole the guitar arrangement of canadeeio. these sort of statements, show the worst aspect of this forum.
consummate showman imo implies a flamboyant extrovert, a sort of modern day, harry lauder or derek brimstone
    I said what I said as a compliment. Don't try to divert this discussion into a battle because you don't like my choice of words.
    -Joe Offer-


22 Jan 20 - 02:06 PM (#4029647)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

It is a shame that Brian feels the way he does; I for one do respect his love for and knowledge of his subject and I have said so. I hope he will continue to share his views and experience. I do agree that perhaps 'hooey' was too strong a word, though I won't back down on my view that Copper is presenting himself and his family and is likely to leave out stuff that for various reasons he might not want people to know or which might not suit the impression he seeks to make, or which might not be what he thinks the interviewer wants. Indeed, at one point in the interview with Vic Smith he says something like 'I suppose this is the sort of thing you want'.

Personally, the Copper family do appear to me to be consummate performers. Not least because I like to hear harmonies sung and you don't often find it in English folk music. Moreover, I think it is fair to say that they do run a sort of 'cottage industry' relating to their own heritage and skills. I think that people with such skills have probably used them in this way from time to time through the ages. And good luck to them: they are talented!

Indeed, Vic Smith in his article said that with hindsight the interview with him might have been good practice for Copper who was about to engage in media interviews in connection with his book. And the book, as Copper explains, was to come out earlier but was delayed to hit the Xmas market. I seem to remember that there was some sort of local connection, which Copper explains, to the publishing firm?

I take Vic Smith's interesting point about 'oral history', which is part of an interesting post. This area is sort of linked to the themes raised by Harker and Cole about mediation. But it isn't, I suggest, quite as simple as could be assumed. When faced with historical sources, even at GCSE pupils are asked to evaluate these sources, analysing potential sources of bias. In pointing this out, I don't think I am being 'contrarian'.

Here is a web site about 'oral history' which makes exactly this sort of point. See the section on narrative and memory.

https://archives.history.ac.uk/makinghistory/resources/articles/oral_history.html

My point isn't 'contrarian'; it is mainstream.

Finally, I come back to Cole, which is where Copper comes into the discussion. Cole offers us two different perspectives on the same incident, one from the lady and one from Copper and invites us to consider how they differ. In one there is no mention of whisky; in the other Copper states that the brothers were not 'allowed' to leave until the bottle was empty and the lady's note book is full. Vic's Cole's point is that the voices of the 'lower other' (presumably including the Coppers) has too often been missing from discussions of folklore. What I am saying is that this still leaves those looking at the differing accounts in future years the problem of evaluating the evidence that they have from the past.

Have a nice evening everybody.


22 Jan 20 - 02:09 PM (#4029648)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Vic's Cole's should have read Cole's.


22 Jan 20 - 02:34 PM (#4029655)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Pseudonymous 21 Jan 20 - 05:36 AM
However, in line with his postmodern approach Cole gives the view of Copper, the 'lower other' to use Cole's term.

Pseudonymous 22 Jan 20 - 02:06 PM
Vic's Cole's point is that the voices of the 'lower other' (presumably including the Coppers) has too often been missing from discussions of folklore.

Could I ask how "Vic" comes into it?


22 Jan 20 - 04:27 PM (#4029674)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

I get to feeling very uncomfortable with the post by Pseudonymous at 22 Jan 20 - 02:06 PM. In particular I feel that motives and extra-musical considerations are being ascribed to the Copper family which are simply not there

Personally, the Copper family do appear to me to be consummate performers.
Can I ask you if you have seen a live performance by The Copper Family? If you could give time and place it would be a help. I must have seen them at least ten times a year over the last fifty-odd years and the words "consummate performers" do not come to mind; "endearingly shambolic" would be nearer the mark.

Not least because I like to hear harmonies sung and you don't often find it in English folk music.
Well, you do (or did) in their part of East Sussex; the Hills of East Dean and the Townsends of East Chiltington would be just two examples with family repertoires that had lots of cross-overs with that of the Coppers. Alternate sections and harmonies with "glee"-style harmonies were far from uncommon in both secular and church singing. The Coppers are unique in maintaining this today throughout the five generations of this family that I have heard sing.

Moreover, I think it is fair to say that they do run a sort of 'cottage industry' relating to their own heritage and skills. I think that people with such skills have probably used them in this way from time to time through the ages. And good luck to them: they are talented!
I can only think that the return of the 'cottage industry' phrase is designed to irritate as it did successfully in the Walter Pardon research thread. Indeed in his long post explaining why he closed that post, Joe Offer wrote: -
as soon as they settle down a bit, Pseudonymous or some other troll will come in and wind them up again. If I do away with Pseudonymous, some other troll will come in, so what's the use in doing away with Pseudonymous?

I think this shows what the moderators think of the role of Pseudonymous here.

Indeed, Vic Smith in his article said that with hindsight the interview with him might have been good practice for Copper who was about to engage in media interviews in connection with his book.
A subsequent impression of mine when I was transcribing the interview some 35 years after it took place.
I need to point out that the reason for the interview was for us to investigate the family story because Bob had asked us to help in running the folk club that he was planning to start. Perhaps I ought to have stuck to saying in the introduction - "However, we felt that we did not know enough about the family and we asked if we could come and record an interview so that we could get some background. (This was before Bob's first book was published and details of the family were not as well known as they are now) It was a fortuitous time to record him as he had just written his first book and had all the information fresh in his mind." This is the reason that in the transcription, I report Bob as saying this is the sort of thing that you want to know, isn't it? My motive in asking to interview Bob was that it would provide background for me to make sure that I didn't make any mistakes as the prospective compere of the Coppersongs Folk Club.
I feel it needs to be pointed out that when Bob, in his mid-50s started to write out various personal memories and had dug out his dad, Jim's writing it was for the benefit of John & Jill and for Jill's three songs (John's offspring were not born until later). Bob's first memories would have been during the 1st World War; Rottingdean/Peacehaven was very diferent by 1970 and the changes were what Bob wanted to explain. It was not until Peter Bellamy had read a rough draft and talked to Bob into considering publication that anything came of it and Bob started to rework things.

And the book, as Copper explains, was to come out earlier but was delayed to hit the Xmas market. I seem to remember that there was some sort of local connection, which Copper explains, to the publishing firm?
By the time of this interview - between writing and publication of A Man For All Seasons Bob had to work with Heinnemans on editing and had been asked to prepare himself for media interest as the publishers were starting to think that they had a potential top seller. They were right. However, publication was far from his initial thoughts when writing.

This post is to explain my discomfort at the way Bob's intention and motives are portrayed by Pseudonymous here. I have quoted what Joe Offer thinks, perhaps Pseudonymous could explain the purpose more clearly.


22 Jan 20 - 04:48 PM (#4029677)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley

Well, this is all very interesting. As one who very occasionally puts his head above the parapet, and if you don’t mind me returning rather late to the observations being made of the ‘collecting’ of the Copper Family, might I offer a few thoughts?...
Much of what has been written is in a language unfamiliar to me, of ‘socio’ this and ‘postconstructionalist’ that, so I’ve spent more time flying to the OED than is necessarily good for me. However, I think I see at least some of the points being made. The background of the situation surrrounding Mrs Kate Lee’s collecting from the two Copper brothers James and Tom is documented in the family exactly as Vic and Brian have indicated , that is through the prompting of Jim Copper’s memory by Francis Collinson. Quite simply it was an event that had occurred some 50+ years previously, but had not been of continuing significance to the family. Naturally, once Frank had pointed out the fact, Bob was fascinated and asked his father what he knew. Bearing in mind the social niceties of that time (the late 1890’s), attitudes were very different. The Rottingdean ‘squirearchy’ was predominantly Quaker and therefore of a more liberal persuasion than might have been encountered elsewhere, nonetheless, it was most unusual for women to use the local pubs which would have precluded any such musical interviews there by Mrs (not ‘Lady’ by the way) Lee. Apparently Kate Lee, already a noted singer and musicologist, had asked staff at Sir Edward Carson’s house where she was staying on a seaside holiday, if they knew of anyone who might be able to sing her the type of songs in which she was interested. The two Copper brothers were recommended and invited to attend the house at a given time. It would have been normal for farm workers, tradesmen or indeed anyone of the ‘working class’ to attend the back rather than the front door - historic and social convention. We know that they didn’t go in their working clothes, and they wouldn’t have had a vast wardrobe, so they would have donned their Sunday’ suits, worn and old as they were. Again, as others have noted, Mrs Lee had already placed a bottle of whisky, a jug of water and two glasses on the kitchen table, for this was all conducted in the scullery. The intention was clear, to put them at their ease. Whilst they were not the type of men to be easily discomfited, this would not have been a normal situation, and something for which they would have been unprepared. Being asked to sing to order in itself was unusual, unless it was in the realms of the pub, a sheep fair, or even at work, when a ‘gives us Shepherd of The Downs’ might have been shouted out in a busy bar. To ‘perform’ was the unusual bit, and not only that but to sings songs repeatedly in order that Kate Lee could gather both words and tune. The process was fairly time consuming so it was conducted over the course of three evenings with a bottle of whisky placed on the table each time!

Kate Lee obtained the songs by the simple stratagem of saying ‘do you have a love song’ or ‘do you have a song of the plough’ ‘a sea song’ or whatever - she wrote this in her account of her visit to Rottingdean which appeared in the first journal of The Folk Song Society. Because of their relatively elevated positions in the farm labouring community the Copper brothers would have mixed with the ‘gentry’ and indeed have been consulted on agricultural and sporting (hunting) matters so they were not cowed or inexperienced in their dealings. To say that they would have been surprised at anyone being quite so interested in their songs would I think be closer to the truth, but it didn’t alter the course of their lives! Incidentally, family lore tells us that the brothers were made honorary founder members of the FSS whereas in fact we now believe that Kate Lee paid their subscriptions - no matter, they were recognised for their contribution.

Coming late to Vic’s comments re. ‘consummate performers’, he has it right when he uses the term ‘shambolic’ - it’s sincere though and done with love!


22 Jan 20 - 05:10 PM (#4029680)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

joe offer, i do not like your choice of words , you appear to know very little about english tradtional singing,very little about nic jones and very little about walter pardon, you in your own words consider yourself a showman.
i would choose other words
    OK, that's enough. I think I own most of the Copper Family recordings, and I have listened to them over and over. I've read Bob Copper's A Song for Every Season and Songs and Southern Breezes. In both books, Bob Copper shows himself to be a very good storyteller. I have not attended a Copper Family performance and I've seen only a few YouTube videos. But whatever the case, my experience of them is very positive - and what I have said about him is a valid and honest opinion from my perspective. Your results may vary. And that's OK.
    But I have a right to my opinion, and there is no reason for you to make an issue of it.
    -Joe Offer-


22 Jan 20 - 05:19 PM (#4029681)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe Offer

    OK, that's enough.

    Pseudonymous can be annoying. All of us can be, at times. It's time to get on with this discussion and to stop being annoyed.

    I'm here to exchange ideas about music, to learn from other people, and to have a good time. There is no room here for doing battle, and it is my job to ensure that the music forum does not become a battleground of bickering.

    We've discussed closing threads at 250 posts, because so many of our threads seem to go nasty once they get beyond that size. Maybe we should. But this has been a very interesting discussion. Let's keep it that way. I'll reopen it for a while and see what happens.

    -Joe Offer, Mudcat Music Editor-


23 Jan 20 - 02:57 AM (#4029708)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Jon Dudley's post was interesting in more than one way and corrected some errors at least one of which I had noted myself. I'm glad he posted it: thank you.

It also illustrated several of my points: a) there is more than one way to tell the same story b) each way of telling, each selection of what to put in and what to leave out, reflects the teller as much as the facts of the matter.

I am sorry that Vic Smith is upset. His last post sketches in some useful and additional background, but for me nothing in it detracts from or contradicts the points I have made about the fascinating Copper family. Vic is of course entitled to interpret my posts however he sees fit. He writes of his 'discomfort at the way Bob's intention and motives are portrayed by Pseudonymous here'. I am left to guess what interpretation of what I put he came up with that left him so discomforted. But I hope he will accept that I intended no insult either to him or to the Coppers.

I admit that I did get a bit annoyed when I was given an incorrect grammatical analysis of the modal verb 'might' as used in the verb phrase 'might have felt' (an example of epistemic modality in the verb phrase; in this case occurring in a noun phrase functioning as the subject of the main clause whose verb was the declarative 'was') but I just let Brian have the last word on the matter to avoid getting into an argument. NB When Jim Carroll tells me I don't understand Shakespeare because I haven't been paying attention, I just laugh aloud. Such is the world of Mudcat.

As far as I am concerned (and Ord wrote a good PhD on similar topics relating to folk) and appearance of being shambolic would be apt for the folk genre, giving an authentic feel, in line with folk's tendency to see itself as being in opposition to the rest of popular, slick, commercial music and therefore appearing 'endearingly shambolic' - the key word here being 'shambolic' would be a feat of consummate showmanship. A lesser showman would just appear shambolic.

So this is sort of an apology, sort of not.

Returning to Harker, the thread could go on for ever. What he has to say on Child and balladry (ie post-Child 'research' arising from Child, Gerould etc) could be discussed in another thread, as could his comments on Lloyd. 'Breathtaking arrogance' was one phrase he used in connection with Lloyd, though at the end of his section on Child he sort of teams up with Lloyd by quoting a less than 100% admiring paragraph Lloyd wrote on Child's selection.

So for me, since this thread has got very long, I wouldn't mind if it did close. It has been interesting to discuss Harker's book, and I have got some more ideas for stuff to read, and have also had some pleasure listening to the Copper family singing again.

Thanks all. Have a good weekend.


23 Jan 20 - 03:01 AM (#4029709)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Sorry I put "the key word here being 'shambolic". The key word, of course, was "endearing". That was the phrase Vic used in his original post, he did not just say 'shambolic'. For me appearing to be 'endearingly shambolic' would be a feat of consummate showmanship.

Once again, a good weekend to all.


23 Jan 20 - 03:25 AM (#4029712)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

I too have aright to an opinion.


23 Jan 20 - 03:45 AM (#4029715)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Thanks, Joe
I'm happy to ignore any negative posts.


23 Jan 20 - 05:10 AM (#4029728)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

A really interesting post from Jon Dudley, thanks.

Sorry, it was me who accidently introduced the idea of Mrs Lee going to the pub into the discussion. I was just making the point that not feeling comfortable in an unfamiliar environment worked both ways, and pub and cottage where the ones that were mentioned.

Jon Dudley's comments on both the Coppers' clothing and likelyhood of them not neccessarily being unused to engaging with 'the gentry' are more in line with my readings on the social history of the period (and first hand accounts from a generation later). In fact I have a elderly neighbour who's wardrobe was much as Jon Dudley suggests for the Coppers (and maybe Fred Jordan) until we coaxed him towards the clothing rack in a charity shop (note for non Brits - charity by the givers, not to the buyers).

Bearing in mind the bimodal bourgois-worker view of things behind Harker's philosophy I would speculate on a practical aspect of Jon's "It would have been normal for farm workers, tradesmen or indeed anyone of the ‘working class’ to attend the back rather than the front door - historic and social convention. I suspect in those days anyone who came off the street rather than stepping down from a carriage or having servants ready with clean footware would probably come to the back door rather than mess up the doormat and hall carpet with mud and horse-shit.

@Psuedonymous - you are slacking. You missed commenting on the discrepancy between the scullery (I guess from Mrs Lee's account) or the drawing room (the Coppers). I have have no problem with details drifting in transmission especially if it helps tell the story (it's the folk process ...) . I could go on about the interview process for oral history accounts (on the basis of limited personal experience that doesn't fit with some assumptions made in this thread. One point is - if the intervier of the Coppers already knew about the account of the meeting with Mrs Lee not being in the drawing room, should they have sought confirmation ("So do I understand this properly, it was in the drawing room?") or let it pass. However, as a scholar I think Cole is at fault in not having fully researched the situation before making a sociological interpretation and misleading his readers.


23 Jan 20 - 05:25 AM (#4029731)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

I don't know how you folks have time to read any books … you always seem to be posting comments here...
Thanks to Brian Peters for reminding me of that quote from an article I wrote 17 years ago!
Derek


23 Jan 20 - 06:32 AM (#4029738)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

jag
Good point in that last paragraph, thank you for the post (and I mean that)


23 Jan 20 - 08:39 AM (#4029762)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Returning to Harker, Child and Balladry.

Does anybody who has read the book have a view on how far Harker is fair in calling Child Gruntvig's student?

How much of an impact did Gruntvig have on the final selection?


23 Jan 20 - 08:57 AM (#4029763)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Pseudonymous wrote: -
I am sorry that Vic Smith is upset
He isn't. However he is interested in the motives of a person who chooses to use terms like a "cottage industry" in response to a traditional singing family's willingness to share their background, history and songs with a folk revival that is anxious to hear about them.
The same person wanted to describe them as "consummate performers" despite apparently never having seen them and when it is pointed out the Coppers behave in a way that is no different whether they are singing in a public performance or in wide variety of other business and social settings (which I firmly believe to be the case) then alters the view to suggest that "For me appearing to be 'endearingly shambolic' would be a feat of consummate showmanship." That, of course, is based on my casual comment rather than any factual study of a range of observations.
It is puzzling and I do not understand the motives. One suggestion that has been posted above is that is trolling. I am prepared to accept that this is not the case but it would be helpful to see the reasoning behind the comments.


23 Jan 20 - 09:36 AM (#4029766)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Child-Grundtvig.
I think Grundtvig is best described as Child's mentor. Child actually paid him quite a lot for his information on European ballads (not all of it of course, Child was a multi-linguist). Hustvedt is probably the most accessible source on their relationship.

As for influence, in many ways, and in the earlier days, Child was very influenced by G but he was also his own man and would not be dictated to. It was Grundtvig who suggested the pattern of publishing, romantic, historical etc, based on his own Mammoth work nearly twice the size of Child's.

Not risking any more till this gets posted.


23 Jan 20 - 09:42 AM (#4029768)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Having already translated some of the E&S ballads in 1840 (Engelsk og Skotiske Folkevisor), including some of Buchan's specials, G tried to influence Child to stop criticising the Scottish ballads in his headnotes, his opinion being they were all genuine, contrary to literary opinion of the time and earlier. This may have had a bearing on Child ceasing to critique the ballads half way through publishing.


23 Jan 20 - 09:52 AM (#4029770)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

If I can attempt mediation for a moment....

I have followed Pseu's contributions with interest, and what I see tells me of someone not brought up in the bosom of the folk revival like the rest of us, but now with a curiosity like ours to get at the truth, albeit a little clumsily at times.

As a researcher I do welcome criticism and different perspectives. They can certainly sharpen your own argument, even he who shall not be mentioned contributed a lot in this way, and for a while until it got repetitive I certainly welcomed it, and said so on occasions.

I do not see Pseu as a troll. Trolls are purely there to cause mischief and he/she has contributed very intelligently (more than I have) on many occasions. If he/she writes something you disagree with or find offensive then by all means say so. If as I think he/she has a genuine interest in finding out more of what we are about then I for one welcome it. We are small enough in number as it is without cutting it down further.


23 Jan 20 - 09:55 AM (#4029771)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

The interviewer should never express disbelief, never contradict, never challenge. This is not a media situation where a politician is being grilled on behalf of the public. It is much more intimate and eventually much more revealing than that. This became even more important when I interviewed some of the greatest tradition bearers amongst the Scots travellers - a severely marginalised group for whom the supernatural was part of their everyday lives. If I had said anything like, "That's not true - that didn't actually happen - I don't believe you." etc. then they would have dried up on me straight away and I would have failed to uncover the attitudes that led to their view of the world and that was what I was after.

This raises some difficult questions that may have parallels in music. Some of the Romany use what appears to be traditional belief as a tool for earning money from the outside community - fortune telling, selling talismans and the like. But do they seriously believe it themselves? Probably most of them adhere to some fairly conventional form of Christianity, but how many folklorists would want to know about that? (In Eastern Europe, the majority religion among the Roma is Baptist Protestantism). What I suspect happens is that they mediate their own reporting of what they believe to select what they think their audience is interested in. The exact function of each bit of their heterogeneous belief system takes some unravelling and you can't just copy everything down as if it all had equal status an assertion in a scripture. (I'd guess Vic has had to deal with that many times and I'm not telling him anything new).

It took some time for any outsider to even realize that the Roma of Eastern Europe had any folk music of their own, and it's only become somewhat available in the last couple of decades (thanks to groups like Kalyi Jag). The Gypsies have had a professional musician caste for centuries, but what they play to the non-Gypsies of Europe has absolutely zero overlap with the traditional music of their own community. British Roma and other Travellers haven't had such a caste, but they'd have had obvious reasons to evolve one if it looked like there'd be a audience for something labelled as "Gypsy music".


23 Jan 20 - 10:02 AM (#4029773)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

G>C
It may also have had an influence on Child continuing to print everything, even against his better judgment, but when G died Child started taking advice from the likes of MacMath.

I would love to see some correspondence between the English ballad editors and Child as generally they were very skeptical of all this Scottish material suddenly appearing, seemingly out of nowhere. Child actually dedicated ESPB to Frederick Furnivall who helped him get access to the Percy Folio Ms. Both Chappell and Ebsworth were very knowledgeable on ballad history, and Chappell actually lived in Edinburgh.


23 Jan 20 - 10:11 AM (#4029774)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>I don't know how you folks have time to read any books<<<<
----let alone write any!


23 Jan 20 - 10:12 AM (#4029775)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

I'll be offline for a few days after tonight but should be back to respond Mondayish.


23 Jan 20 - 10:56 AM (#4029779)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Many thanks to Jon Dudley for that thorough account of the meeting between James and Tom Copper and Kate Lee – who, it’s clear, did not carry the title ‘Lady’ as some would have had us believe. We can now safely lay to rest the fiction that the brothers were ‘uncomfortable’ during this meeting, that they were ‘held captive’ in any literal sense (I hadn’t realised they made three visits), or that the fictional discomfort had any ‘decisive role’ in their choice of songs. As I suggested in the first place, the account given in Ross Cole’s article, far from reporting impartially the discrepancies between Kate Lee’s account and that of the family, actually misrepresents (mediates?) Bob Copper’s words, even as the author mourns that the Coppers’ stratum of society was 'denied its own voice'.

This is directly relevant to the topic of the thread, since it is my repeated experience that cultural theorists with axes to grind often misrepresent the data, and are less interested in the voices of actual people (as opposed to anonymous and stereotypical ‘workers’) than were the folk song collectors whose work they attempt to undermine. But perhaps we can move on now, and back to ‘Fakesong’ itself.


23 Jan 20 - 11:41 AM (#4029785)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

> cultural theorists with axes to grind often misrepresent the data

My experience too, and in other fields as well.


23 Jan 20 - 01:32 PM (#4029797)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Four quick responses to the very interesting comments made by Jack Campin on his reactions to the passage of mine that he quotes: -

This raises some difficult questions that may have parallels in music.
If you are talking about recordings songs/tunes compared with asking about a life story, then I would say that this is spot on.

Some of the Romany use what appears to be traditional belief as a tool for earning money from the outside community - fortune telling, selling talismans and the like. But do they seriously believe it themselves?
Yes and no. The fortune tellers are adept at gaining information and telling people what they want to hear though I have been told facts about myself by Scottish travellers who had no way as far as I could see of gaining these. The camping life made them very fearful of malign supernatural forces and a fear of "Burkers" who were going to kill them and then sell their bodies for science was very common.

What I suspect happens is that they mediate their own reporting of what they believe to select what they think their audience is interested in.
Again I concur totally with this and it is why I wrote in the paragraph before the one you quote that "An interviewer should say as little as possible and give the informant his or her head about what is important in their view." If you start out by asking, "Tell me about your belief in the supernatural " then you might as well give up. If I was to analyse my approach to interviewing, I think that I would say that it is instinctive rather than intellectualised and that I try to show that I am interested in the interviewee as a person - which is why I want to interview them anyway.

I'd guess Vic has had to deal with that many times and I'm not telling him anything new....
.... which must be why I find myself agreeing with what you say.

I can only think of one practical tip about interviewing that I ever adopted. The BBC Radio Sussex folk music programme that I introduced came on the air a couple of months before the first BBC national programme Folk On Friday introduced by Jim Lloyd. He asked if he could be interviewed on our programmme as a promotion for his. In the pub afterwards, Jim said, "When you ask a question, you will often get a bland prepared answer. Listen to that then smile and nod as if you want them to go on. Because no-one like the idea of a long gap, whether it a live radio or a recording, they will say something like 'Besides....' and then tell you what they really think."
This was in the early 1970s and I have tried it many times since then and 9 out of 10 times it works.

Now it really is time to get back to 'Fakesong' as has aleady been suggested and as I haven't read the book, I'll shut up for a while.


26 Jan 20 - 03:49 PM (#4030374)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"We can now safely lay to rest the fiction that the brothers were ‘uncomfortable’ during this meeting, that they were ‘held captive’ in any literal sense (I hadn’t realised they made three visits), or that the fictional discomfort had any ‘decisive role’ in their choice of songs."

Three points here: on the first, I disagree, on the second, I didn't realise that anybody had suggested this, (have they?), and the 3 visits thing just shows how much information is incomplete/potentially misleading), and on the third, again, I am not sure of its relevance to the points being made or that it has been established at all.

Vic agreed with the following from Jack Campin: "What I suspect happens is that they mediate their own reporting of what they believe to select what they think their audience is interested in."

I absolutely agree with it too, and I think I called this 'self-mediation', though I would see self-mediation as potentially going beyond this. Nice to hear it coming from Vic and Jack because if I raise this idea I get called names and people express feeling 'disturbed' (present company excepted of course).

Let's be fair to Cole: he quotes from and cites Copper's book (and the ODNB on the family) as well as Kate Lee's lecture to the Folk Song Society. (The fact that there were three evenings is stated by Cole, based on Lee's lecture. Copper's account says 'several more such evenings'.) Just prior to citing a passage from Copper's book he says it is 'a rare view of the perspective of the singers themselves.' So he is making a point that many of us, including Harker, would agree with.

Cole goes on to say 'Rather than showing interest in the brother's environment, Lee viewed the Coppers ... not for their intrinsic worth but for the content they conveyed'.

Kate Lee, of course, was not a cultural theorist or a sociologist, she was a song collector. So not an example of the following:

"cultural theorists with axes to grind often misrepresent the data, and are less interested in the voices of actual people (as opposed to anonymous and stereotypical ‘workers’) than were the folk song collectors whose work they attempt to undermine."

It seems to me that if the Coppers stood on equal social status terms with the gentry they would not have been received in the scullery, this being of course the part of a large gentry house where the servants got on with their work.

We have not established as far as I can see whether the Coppers knew songs that they chose not to sing in front of a woman (especially one of higher social status?). This is I think they key point Cole is making, and he cites Lucy Broadwood as an authority for the view that some singers would not sing in front of female collectors songs that they thought were unsuitable.

In addition to the material on their own website, there are Copper family videos on YouTube and quite a lot of work on Spotify.

Some people almost define 'folk' and 'folk authenticity' in opposition to the commercial and industrial world. I found a recent comment to this effect on a Mudcat thread. It would be nice if 'modern' folk were free from the influence of and from engagement with the modern commercial and industrial world.

But it isn't so I guess one 'agenda' is that I find it a bit odd that some people regard as 'traditional' practices which may have some links with practices and contexts of the past but which are deeply entwined with modernity and more to the point sometimes get hot under the collar when these links are pointed out to them. There is not much that is 'traditional' about a pair of brothers singing songs to a visiting professional singer in the scullery of a local big house while she writes down what they are singing, selections of which she later performs (as Cole describes).


26 Jan 20 - 04:01 PM (#4030379)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Haven't got a lot further with Harker, though his chapter on 'balladry' i.e. some of those who came after Child contradicts (as far as I can see) vehement assertions I have read to the effect that Child and all who came in his wake firmly believed that 'the folk' created beautiful songs which have been smoothed like pebbles in the sea whereas in fact a lot of them seem to think that once ordinary people got their hands on the songs they got corrupted. It does this by quoting from the people concerned. Even if you don't agree with Harker, his list of references and sources gives you lots of places to find out more and make up your mind for yourself; as a survey you might not like his bias or his polemics (and they annoy me) but you could use him as a resource, and I think that is perhaps why Vic Gammon thought it would be an indispensable reference book for the future.

Another thing that seems to me to come across (and this has been gone over time and time again) is that having decided it made sense to categorise a variety of songs as 'ballads' people had no clear idea where they came from and seem to more or less have guessed, while writing as if conveying decided facts. This is the impression I get from Harker and it chimes with the impression you get on Mudcat, to be honest.

There have also been problems defining what these 'ballads' were: there is a quote where Child writes to Grundtvig asking for a definition.

On 'trolling': given the vehemence with which opposing views are debated on Mudcat it seems unfair to tag one person who endeavours to enter into the debates as a 'troll'. There are it seems to me competing ideologies on these threads (none of which might be happy at being described as an ideology - though in the broad sense that is the right word).

I'm not sure that 'the truth' is ever pure and simple, or objective and ideology free, come to that, when it comes to matters cultural, but if I have an agenda it is that I tend, in vain perhaps, to distinguish 'ideological commitment' or 'theory' from 'fact' or 'history'.

    Let's not talk about "trolling" at all, please. To my mind, the people who are labeled "trolls" are still human beings, and both the US and the UK are led by those who are less than human - people who are far inferior to your typical Mudcat troll. A "troll" could also be viewed as a "devil's advocate." This is a music forum, so talk about music. And whatever the case, this has been a very interesting thread.
    -Joe Offer, Mudcat Music Editor-


27 Jan 20 - 03:07 AM (#4030454)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley

Pseud says this:

"It seems to me that if the Coppers stood on equal social status terms with the gentry they would not have been received in the scullery, this being of course the part of a large gentry house where the servants got on with their work."

I hope I made it clear (if not, apologies) that the Copper brothers at that time, whilst not 'upsides of the gentry' as they would have put it, in other words, not friends or close acquaintances, were nevertheless respected and valued employees. As such, they would have met their employer in their daily work to discuss farming and land management matters as well as offering intelligence (if that's the right word) as to the whereabouts of game on the Downs when they were off hunting. There was one exception when Copper family members were admitted specifically to the drawing room (rather than the scullery), and that was when after a day in the field, Steyning Beard, the local squire would invite them in to sing their hunting songs and drink hot punch. Otherwsie, most farm business was conducted through the bailiff's office, whilst milk and produce would've been delivered to the 'back door' of 'Challoner's' farm house.


27 Jan 20 - 05:01 AM (#4030468)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Jon Dudley
Thank you for interesting and constructive contributions. They add a different perspective. However, for me, they don't nullify the point Jon quoted. I doubt, for example, that visiting gentry would have been received in the scullery. Hunting songs and their context their social and personal functions are something discussed in a study of a Yorkshire farmer called Jack Beeforth. The occasion Jon mentions sounds to have been 'traditional' in a sense that a lot of 'revival' singing is not. This is not to decry revival singing or singers, of course.


27 Jan 20 - 05:27 AM (#4030478)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

In fact, I do have quite a lot of sympathy with Harker when he says that the voices of ordinary people are often absent from accounts of folk. I suppose if you're only interest is the songs/tunes/lyrics you may not be interested in the people who sang them and passed them down.

But if you are interested in something of a bigger picture, then I can see at least two angles:

1 Try to see the music in its social context: how did it further social relationships and interaction, the economic and social life and structure of the community (if at all) etc. So the section on Beeforth and his hunting songs sung after a hunting trip by Dave Hillery (I read this) attempts to do this, as did, say MacColl's work on Scottish Travellers (Which I know about but have not read). I have to say I oppose fox hunting, nasty stuff and potentially ruinous to the poor sods over whose fiends they galloped, so I find the area a 'turn off' but there you go that's 'just me'

2 To focus on individual singers and try to find out and record for posterity their views, feelings, ideas, thoughts both about individual songs and about 'folksong'. I'd include here 'self-mediation' and/or 'autoethnography' (saw a piece about Cumbria written in this way, it was mentioned on Mudcat).

As Vic Smith's contributions have shown, even at a more lay and non 'academic' level, there is awareness of possible difficulties in getting at 'the truth' about these things. I believe that academics would call these 'methodological problems'. Whose account do you believe? How much is the singer doing what we all do and editing what he or she says to suit the audience. Could the singer possibly be spinning a yarn because he or she likes the attention/is a natural story teller (and in some cases mentioned on Mudcat is getting paid). How objective (if this is possible) is the reporting of the 'data'?

A third way is the Lloydian one, especially as in his first history of English folk song, the long historical view, which in Lloyd's case was a very Marxist view of English history, based mostly on the history by
A L Morton (which I have browsed in having got it cheap online after seeing it referenced via MUSTRAD or Mudcat or both). Harker attempts something similar I think in his overview of the folklorists, he attempts to set them in the historical context as he sees it.

So many different perspectives!


27 Jan 20 - 05:29 AM (#4030479)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

dear dear I put 'you're' instead of 'your'.


27 Jan 20 - 05:36 AM (#4030483)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

You also had huntsmen galloping over people's "fiends"!


27 Jan 20 - 05:56 AM (#4030487)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I'm a fool. Regarding fiends been watching too much 'Good Omens' on Catch-up TV obviously! Tenant and Sheen both brilliant.

By the way, as so often there is a very readable piece by Vic Gammon which covers areas we (ok I) have been groping my way through.

https://www.academia.edu/5385241/The_Early_Recordings_of_The_Copper_Family_of_Rottingdean_Commentary

And he also has a piece on the actual music so full marks from me for him.


27 Jan 20 - 06:32 AM (#4030489)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

Kate Lee was staying in the house of Sir Edward Carson. I just found out who he is. Not only was he the prosecutor of Oscar Wilde but he also was an Ulster Unionist who helped to create Northern Ireland. Lee herself was 'Anglo Irish'. So interesting in terms of the general social background of the early Folk Song Society and no doubt people will have written articles about it.

Harker explains in his introduction why he does not deal with the work of Kate Lee.

He refers to the Copper family just once (p236), when stating that A L Lloyd used a short article about them

"to challenge discretely some of the more old-fashioned notions about the influence of print on folk-song, the incidence of choral singing, and the issue of musical literacy amongst singers."


27 Jan 20 - 06:53 AM (#4030491)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

If you are interested to see things in something of a bigger picture I don't think scholarly works like that of Harker are the place to go. You need contemporary descriptions and accounts. Scholarly works may include pointers to them in the references they give but that is not what the scholars or their publishers are about.

The bigger picture is going to be spread out over a vast amoiunt of writing elsewhere, much by amateur experts who are interested in digging out details and writing for people who are interested in them.

We used to have about 15-years worth of Folk Music Journal in the house. I now only have four numbers that had been mis-shelved at the time we gave them away. Those include an interesting 1988 article by Vic Gammon, which starts "Reading through nineteenth-century copies of the Sussex Agricultural Express as part of my research project on ...", a 1992 article by Dave Harker that has a lot of 17 century detail, and a short 1989 note by M G Myer quoting extracts from a correspondance with Bob Copper about why the Copper family repertoire didn't include Jack Tar/The Saucy Sailer though his grandfather sung it (which has parallels with things Walter Pardon is quoted as saying).

As can be seen in his extensive references to Alfred Williams, Harker does dig into the historical context of the songs and singers. That's not what 'Fakesong' is about. That is maybe why this discussion keeps going off topic in interesting ways.


27 Jan 20 - 09:02 AM (#4030510)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

That was a response to Pseudonymous


27 Jan 20 - 09:12 AM (#4030513)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Always interested to read what Jag has to say.


27 Jan 20 - 11:53 AM (#4030538)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Pseudonymous wrote:-
As Vic Smith's contributions have shown, even at a more lay and non 'academic' level, there is awareness of possible difficulties in getting at 'the truth' about these things. I believe that academics would call these 'methodological problems'. Whose account do you believe? How much is the singer doing what we all do and editing what he or she says to suit the audience. Could the singer possibly be spinning a yarn because he or she likes the attention/is a natural story teller (and in some cases mentioned on Mudcat is getting paid). How objective (if this is possible) is the reporting of the 'data'?

That really depends on what we regard as 'the truth' because 'the truth' is so clearly bound up with 'the significance' and 'the interpretation' of an event or a series of happenings.
On the 31st January an event of monumental importance will happen in the UK. The facts of the matter are quite stark and few. The significance of the event is huge. I wouldn't mind betting that in fifty years time there will still be opinions expressed that say the what happened that day was:-
* The best thing that ever happened in the UK
and
* The worst thing that ever happened in the UK
... with every shade of opinion in between with the reasons strongly reflecting everything about the person who said it.

I have just returned from spending a long time in the delightful company of Jon Dudley. The problem is that I now have more than two hours of Jon's speech to transcribe. The conversation was all about his position in the family came about, how it developed and the effects that it had on him. Much of what Jon had to say was not new to me but to hear Jon's take on it was very important to me because it gave me a different triangulating point, a locus to broaden my knowledge of the family's story. I already know 'the truth' about the year when a book or an album were published, when the first trip to the USA took place but to have a different opinion/viewpoint of the significance of each landmark in the development of the Coppers' place in the folk music community - all of which assist us in getting the facts of the matter.

Another quotation from a different post:-
We have not established as far as I can see whether the Coppers knew songs that they chose not to sing in front of a woman (especially one of higher social status?). This is I think they key point Cole is making, and he cites Lucy Broadwood as an authority for the view that some singers would not sing in front of female collectors songs that they thought were unsuitable.
The Jim Copper generation knew and sung risque songs.
Somewhere in the mass of books, articles, radio and TV programmes that I have read or written or contributed to, I remember Bob saying something like (and here I paraphrase):-
Granny Copper said, "No no no. I don't want to hear songs like that in the cottage. If you want to sing songs like that you can sing them down the pub; not here."

.... and that was that. Jon Dudley may be able to remember the context of this though thinking about it, that story probably crops up in several places.


27 Jan 20 - 01:16 PM (#4030559)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Not my area of expertise, but I'm following this thread with great interest.


27 Jan 20 - 01:23 PM (#4030563)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Vic Smith

The 1989 FMJ (Vol5, No5) note by MG Myer that I mentioned just above about Jack Tar/The Saucy Sailor quotes a 1986 letter from Bob Copper saying "...my Granny used to say of it, apparently, 'I don't want your dirty old tap-room songs in here, thank you!' "


27 Jan 20 - 01:31 PM (#4030566)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Since the page is open.

The quote from Bob Copper goes on "I only remember Dad singing snatches of it, I don't think he knew all the words. He certainly didn't write it in The Book and that's why it has not been included in any published book or records - and it is for that reason that we never sing it. I do however, remember the tune."


27 Jan 20 - 02:47 PM (#4030581)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

The Saucy Sailor, a dirty old tap-room song? My god, have things changed. I've had it sung to me by very prim old ladies. There's no hint of bawdry or sex in it. The girl won't have a tarry sailor for a husband until she sees his money then he turns the tables on her and rejects her. Are we definitely talking about Roud 531 here? The other one, Roud 530 is even more innocuous, a dialogue between mother and daughter, mother persuading daughter not to marry a sailor.


27 Jan 20 - 03:17 PM (#4030592)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

> The girl won't have a tarry sailor for a husband until she sees his money

A strict Victorian moralist might have found the theme offensive, and "dirty" may have meant no more than "despicable" or (colloquially) "lousy."

The OED cites, for example, Byron in 1819: "'Twas for his dirty fee, And not from any love to you."


27 Jan 20 - 03:21 PM (#4030593)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

In brief M G Myer had commented in a review that "the most a Copper-song ploughboy will get up to is to 'take a winsome lass for to sit on his knee'" and Bob Copper wrote to him saying " your theory that the songs were 'bowdlerised' in their transition from taproom to parlour is absolutely correct. Dad told me that his mother was most strict about such matters and would not even allow Grand-dad to sing 'Jack Tar becuase of the line 'Oh, you're dirty love and your flirty love and you smell so of tar'. - There's puritan for you! (as they say)". (FMJ v5 n5 p623)


27 Jan 20 - 03:25 PM (#4030595)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Crossed - so Lighter's suggestion seems spot on.


27 Jan 20 - 04:39 PM (#4030612)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish

Pseudonymous said (among much else) "It seems to me that if the Coppers stood on equal social status terms with the gentry they would not have been received in the scullery, this being of course the part of a large gentry house where the servants got on with their work."

Of course the Coppers did not stand on equal social status terms with the gentry. No-one has suggested that they did, only that they did have regular dealings with them.

Pseudonymous also referred to "vehement assertions I have read to the effect that Child and all who came in his wake firmly believed that 'the folk' created beautiful songs which have been smoothed like pebbles in the sea". That was indeed what Sharp chose to believe, but how many other collectors or scholars have subscribed to that belief? Surely Child for one did not?


27 Jan 20 - 05:26 PM (#4030616)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

We simply don't know what Child thought of their creation. He didn't give us his final thoughts in any detail. It's fairly obvious his attitudes to the ballads and their provenance were changing gradually during his last 10 years, and as a sophisticated professor his attitude to the broadside ballad was only to be expected. If we lesser mortals have spent many hours grubbing among the dunghills to find the few jewels, he would have enjoyed this even less than we do.

Whilst he must have contemplated their origins from time to time, he was absolutely engrossed in their more recent manifestations. Those with their earliest versions on broadsides he happily included, and where this was the case and he had access they are generally his A and B versions, but not in every case. Similarly Percy's Folio Manuscript.

One thing that demonstrates his lack of interest in investigating the earliest versions, and also his unwillingness to revisit a ballad once published, is when The Cruel Mother broadside was available to him he simply included it in the Additions and Corrections with no comment.


28 Jan 20 - 05:14 AM (#4030716)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Vic Smith wrote : "That really depends on what we regard as 'the truth' because 'the truth' is so clearly bound up with 'the significance' and 'the interpretation' of an event or a series of happenings."

Well said!

This, perhaps, is partly why there are so many 'heated arguments' - as opposed to 'discussions' - on Mudcat?


28 Jan 20 - 05:46 AM (#4030725)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Steve:

You wrote this:

"It's fairly obvious his attitudes to the ballads and their provenance were changing gradually during his last 10 years, and as a sophisticated professor his attitude to the broadside ballad was only to be expected. If we lesser mortals have spent many hours grubbing among the dunghills to find the few jewels, he would have enjoyed this even less than we do."

I briefly wondered whether you were dangling bait for what I know would be an interesting discussion to which you - as an expert on broadsides - could contribute a great deal? I am sure you are aware of far more of the various discussions about this 'dunghill' reference and of Child's criteria for selecting or rejecting ballads than I am.

Trying to stick with Harker (thinking Child would merit a thread of his own and surprised that there isn't one) where you have put 'sophisticated professor' Harker or somebody might put something like 'North American bourgeois white male with a Protestant background". Harker certainly thinks that Child's selection reflects his bourgeois tastes. I think Harker's view, as we have seen is that as a representation of working class/lower status taste through the centuries Child's selection (along with a lot of other stuff) is not representative. I cannot find a reference to dunghills or dunghill in Harker.

Harker refers to differing 'editions' of ballads produced by Child. Is it worth listing these with dates and checking that Harker got it right? I think I read something where somebody challenged Harker's use of the term 'editions' is why I am asking. Also trying to start at the beginning ..


28 Jan 20 - 06:46 PM (#4030877)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

I prefer my 'sophisticated professor'. It is a great pity that all the effort expended on the very learned headnotes detailing the various continental equivalents has been so little used. I am particularly interested in the Scandinavian ones as I think many of the English language Child ballads are to some extent translations of these by sophisticated people, seemingly mainly in the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Not quite sure what you mean by 'editions'. Child published The English and Scottish Ballads (taken from published collections) as part of his Poets Anthology, in the 1860s. There are probably various editions of this but I have none of them except for a few extracts. It is quite different from the ESPB. As far as I know there are not different editions of ESPB, reprintings yes, and the Loomis House recent reprint puts the additions and corrections in with the main body, which I suppose constitutes a new edition. >>>>Harker refers to differing 'editions' of ballads produced by Child<<<<< Confused!


28 Jan 20 - 06:53 PM (#4030878)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Child rarely expressed opinions on individual versions of ballads, but where he did I agree whole-heartedly with most of them. I dearly wish he had done more of this, but when you're dealing with that volume of material, mostly as a hobby, you rarely have time for many opinions.


29 Jan 20 - 05:43 AM (#4030936)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I got the 'editions' thing sorted out: there were Harker says two slightly different versions of the ESB, and I think Harker refers to the big collection as a third edition, and that somebody picked him up on this, no doubt on the basis that it was quite different so not really a 'third edition'.


29 Jan 20 - 05:52 AM (#4030939)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe Offer

Wikipedia confirms my understanding that there were two editions of the Child Ballads. The first was the 8-volume collection titled English and Scottish Ballads (1860), which generally presented just one variant of each ballad. Child published The English and Scottish Popular Ballads in five volumes, 1882-1898 (but sometimes it's counted as ten volumes, and I don't quite understand why).

Nobody ever talks about Child's narratives in his work, but I find them fascinating - especially when he ties the English-language songs to songs and stories in other languages. It's fun to just sit down and read Child, and the Loomis Press edition is especially readable.

-Joe-


29 Jan 20 - 03:10 PM (#4031033)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

This is all from memory so don't take it as read, but I seem to remember they first came out separately in 10 PARTS, paper copies, typical of the Victorian era, and it's conceivable that some people had these bound as was. When they started being published as books they were put into 5 volumes, and I have a vague recollection of even a 2 volume set.

I think the ESB did go into 2 editions. I never had a copy, making do with just a list of contents. It might well be online somewhere.


29 Jan 20 - 06:03 PM (#4031068)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Harker (p102-103) states that the early 1857-59 ESB had a slightly revised 2nd edition in 1861. He quotes from this in the following pages, citing comments on ballad style and content and then in the section on sources, giving some of Child's comments on these.

Harker says that Scott and Percy provide 25 % of the texts, 70% came from seven mediators: Scott, Percy, Ritson, Buchan, Motherwell, Jamieson and Kinloch. He says that Child quoted at length from Motherwell's notes and provides example comments on the material the mediators provided for him. 115 texts from the 1st edition were left out of the final one.

He says that once all of Percy's misdeeds came to light Child had to 'reconsider his trust in all the song-book makers on whom he had relied'. Grundtvig helped in this, providing advice and encouragement.

Harker quotes from the letters (in Hustvedt) showing that the two men discussed matters of taste and interpretation. So Child had called the Buchan texts 'prolix and vulgar' (among other things) but Grundtvig thought their vulgarity was proof of authenticity. Child's reply to this was that it was an 'artificial vulgarity' which made him fear that it came from "a man and not from a class of people", 'the vulgarity that I mean consists in a tame, mean, unreal style of expression, far from volksmassig'.

In the end Harker says Buchan's texts were used over three times as often in the third edition (ie the ESPB) as in the 2nd (ie the one of 1861) so Child Harker thinks gave way

I wish Child did not have so much German in him: I know this is because he got his doctorate from studying German philology in Germany but I cannot read or interpret the words.

But it interests me that Child at this point seems to want songs that come from a class of people and not from a man.


30 Jan 20 - 01:38 PM (#4031206)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

'Percy's misdeeds' were surely already well known before Child was born. Child certainly was desperate to have the Percy Folio Manuscript before setting out on ESPB and indeed thanks to Furnivall he got that.

Child did bow to Grundtvig when it came to including most of Buchan's mediated material, but that would have complied with his initial stated intention anyway, which was to include all ballad material that MIGHT contain traditionary material, i.e., anything that looked like it contained the genuine ballad style. Buchan's 'eked out' contributions certainly did contain mostly pretty good ballad style, as he was mixing and matching from one ballad to another and putting in a good old sprinkling of commonplaces. Even his own pieces that Child included are much better imitations than those of the literati.

I don't think Grundtvig had any sway on Child over his sudden ceasing of criticising suspect versions, as Grundtvig was already dead by the time this happened.

Not sure I've noted any German I needed to understand.

Child's overriding desire was to get at the manuscripts as opposed to the published versions he used in ESB, and he was indeed very successful with this. Very little in the way of appropriate manuscripts has appeared since ESPB. He didn't get to see the later Buchan ms which was bought for the library after he died, but he didn't miss anything. He had been told by various correspondents in Scotland that there was nothing of any worth to add to what he had seen and copied in the BL ms. None of the Buchan mss contain anything like what we would call field notes as can be found in Motherwell's and Kinloch's Mss. The BL one is actually just a proof for the 2 volumes of 1828.


30 Jan 20 - 03:51 PM (#4031220)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

OK thanks, Steve, so Harker seems to have got the Percy detail wrong then.

What Harker has to say on Motherwell is interesting: he dislikes his high church Tory politics, and doesn't seem impressed that he was secretary of an Orange order, but he seems to respect his more scholarly approach, and thinks this approach might be why Child used so much of his work. Harker also thinks that Ritson was more scholarly.

Both Percy and Motherwell seem to have been aware of 'Viking' stuff, Percy translated Iceland Edda (from Latin) and Motherwell wrote poetry based on sagas. Which leads me to the question why you think translations of ballads Danish to English was taking place 18th and early 19th century. I'm not doubting that this happened just wondering what the context was.

I seem to remember finding Hustvedt. 'Ballad Books and Ballad Men' online but now I cannot find it, but I seem to recall something about translation in that.


30 Jan 20 - 05:31 PM (#4031234)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

We have no direct proof that during the 18th century the antiquarian editors were translating directly from the Scandinavian, but by about 1800 Jamieson certainly was. Most of these ballads are no older than the 16th/17th century, some even later. Of those that have equivalents out of Britain those that match up with Scandinavian ballads are much more common than from other parts of Europe. In order to make a British version one only needed the bare bones of the story. Some of them could have been translated more than once, Tvo Seostre (Child 10) for instance. What little evidence we have points towards direct translation by relatively sophisticated hands. Of course in the 19th century the likes of Borrow, Prior and Grey were translating and publishing Scandinavian ballads. If they were doing it in the 19th, why not the 18th?

In my own neck of the woods there was frequent dialogue between Denmark and the locals (As a fishing port we have long had a Danish church) but I think direct translation by ballad editors is far more likely. A lot of this is just my opinion, but I challenge anyone to try and disprove it.


30 Jan 20 - 05:42 PM (#4031236)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

I think the editors' politics are pretty much irrelevant. Motherwell had his own publishing business in Perth and by all accounts was a bit of a lad in his youth. His 'scholarly approach' so lauded by Child and others only came in later on as an afterthought. There is some evidence to suggest he was 'mediating' just as much as the rest, well perhaps not as much as Buchan. His later approach is certainly the beginnings of a proper scientific approach in line with Ritson, but I can't help thinking there was at least some hypocrisy in there. When he was younger he is on record as having bragged about his mediations to his mates in the pub. There is also some evidence of the people he paid to go out and collect doing their own mediating. This has some similarity with Scott as some of those who were sending Scott material were also mediating before it got to him.


31 Jan 20 - 02:50 AM (#4031276)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Steve

I don't think Harker regarded Motherwell as perfectly scholarly, but I thought it worth noting that at least in this case Harker appears willing to give some credit where it is due. Harker asserts that Motherwell came up against/discovered the extent to which print and oral cultures were intermingled.

I think there was something in Hustvedt about the possibility of translations from Latin, so that is twice it cropped up recently. Latin as a medium for the spread of yarns seems obvious given that it was a lingua franca.

I think I might disagree with you about the politics of collectors. I say this with my Eng Lit head on. (But I suppose I should ask 'irrelevant to what?' For example, when we read a novel by Hogg (you will know who I mean) his connection with Scott and his political project and affiliations was just one way we tried to make sense of it. Motherwell was another pro union Scott. This particular bunch of Scotsmen was described as 'anti enlightenment' by a historian in our reading group, and Motherwell's objection to ordinary people getting learning and knowledge instead of the old more superstitious ways seemed part of this, though he was of a lower social class. Their 'romanticism' is part and parcel of their interest in old stuff, and it isn't just an objection to the ugliness of industrialisation as it came out partly through the more leftist views of the Romantics (as in Blake, early Wordsworth etc) but in the case of the right wing as opposition to enlightenment per so. This is how the argument goes, at any rate.

The problem it seems to me with Child Ballads is that it all gets circular: Child had his own ideas about what did and did not count, but little idea about what a 'ballad' actually was or where they came from. Then as Harker says, Child's collection became a sort of practical definition of 'ballad'. Which later US students of 'the ballad' used to make all sorts of wild guesses about the people who had produced such a body of literature. Needless to say they drew a picture of a very odd 'race'. And Harker jumps up and down getting cross about it. With some justification I sometimes feel.

Gerould, for example. I read some of him and Harker quotes some.


31 Jan 20 - 03:42 AM (#4031287)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

According to Hustvedt, Thomas Gray translated some material from Old Norse in the 1760s. Interestingly, Hustvedt says that the work of Percy was influential in a Scandinavian revival, so it did go both ways!


31 Jan 20 - 04:50 AM (#4031299)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe G

By strange coincidence I'm listening to Deborah Orr's biography 'Motherwell' as I browse this

As you were.....


31 Jan 20 - 04:51 AM (#4031300)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

What chance some of the people putting effort into it were doing so simply because they were interested, or liked a puzzle, or enjoyed the songs, or simply liked 'collecting'? I don't recall much theorising on romanticism or politics over contemporaneous butterfly or fossil collections.

Why do people today dig through old documents and broadsheets looking for songs? Why do they write articles for FMJ or mustrad.org?

Will people write scholarly papers about them?


31 Jan 20 - 05:45 AM (#4031309)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Jag

I don't have any simple answers to your questions? But the answer to the last one will probably be 'yes'.

Interesting comparison with butterfly collecting etc. I had thought of dinky cars as a comparison with song collection. Similar liking for the 'rare' has struck me in both hobbies. Also a certain focus in number: the more you 'collect' the prouder you can be of your collection. I'd better not mention 'packaging' since though this definitely improves the value of a dinky car it won't be a metaphor people approve of when applied to folk.

But even with dinky cars, some people might ask the interesting question why dinky cars, what is the fascination and so on, what is culturally interesting about the 'car' and why were children given them to play with, especially in the coming post-oil world … (?)

Just in passing, I looked again at a piece by Beaman, arch critic of Harker. He is political from the outset. Referring to the revival of Sharp's day he says and I quote: '... for a brief moment it looked as if a genuine, indigenous and unifying national culture might have been discovered. This however was a false dawn.'

This is from Beaman's 'Who Were the Folk' article, in which he has one or two criticisms of Sharp as well as more or less open contempt for Harker and little time for Lloyd.

He criticises those who try to portray 'folk' as belonging to the working class. In what seems to me to be rhetorical rather than scholarly comment he says that the approach leads to a kind of inverted snobbery and that it leads to a situation where there is an insistence that the only proper mode for the performance of folk music is "an informal, amateurish and 'amateurish' one which faithfully reflects its supposed social origins and leads to displays of suspicion, resentment and restrictiveness when the material is used outside this 'working class' role." He goes on to dis Georgina Boyes' critique of something Vaughan Williams produced.

I'm sure there is quite a lot of 'theorising' about fossils, if not 'fossil collections' by the way and some controversy too (evolution v creationism). One of my grandma's believed that fossils etc were traps set by the devil. (We didn't get on too well).


31 Jan 20 - 05:48 AM (#4031310)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

apologies for 'Scott' in a post above. Should have been 'Scot'.


31 Jan 20 - 06:17 AM (#4031314)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

Does Harker have anything to say about John Leyden? He was around at the same time as Scott and Motherwell, impressed the heck out of everyone who knew him, but left only a small paper trail. I put a couple of anonymous songs on my website which I think must have been his work (who else could possibly have reworked Hafiz into a topical Scottish song?). What he published under his own name tended to be overblown (like that vast ballad about the demoniac aristo who ended up getting boiled in lead) but maybe he could do better when he wasn't trying so hard?


31 Jan 20 - 06:28 AM (#4031317)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Hi Psuedonymous. I picked butterflies and fossils (rather than dinky toys or stamps) because collecting them could, but needn't be, related to theorising (about natural science or religion). Also the drive to 'get a full set' probably doesn't apply to songs.

I think for some people who collect enjoyment of the social interaction with people having similar interests is part of the attraction.

I raise it in the connection to Harker because everything he decribes people as doing is given a political interpretation. Collectors who had money and leisure time (a wealthy country parson for example) could simply have done it as a hobby.


31 Jan 20 - 06:42 AM (#4031322)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Jag
I take your point. And I think you are right about Harker, it is part of his 'Marxist' analysis?


31 Jan 20 - 06:56 AM (#4031324)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

John Leyden: Harker p 40, 59, 60. L Knew Walter Scott, obtained the Glenriddell manuscript from a Carlisle bookseller. That's about it from Harker.

More info on the Glenriddell manuscript in question here:

https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=&httpsredir=1&article=1819&context=ssl


31 Jan 20 - 07:29 AM (#4031333)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"What chance some of the people putting effort into it were doing so simply because they were interested, or liked a puzzle, or enjoyed the songs, or simply liked 'collecting'? I don't recall much theorising on romanticism or politics over contemporaneous butterfly or fossil collections."

I made a very similar point relating to Cecil Sharp on Jan 20.


31 Jan 20 - 09:24 AM (#4031352)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

> Child had his own ideas about what did and did not count, but little idea about what a 'ballad' actually was or where they came from. Then as Harker says, Child's collection became a sort of practical definition of 'ballad'. Which later US students of 'the ballad' used to make all sorts of wild guesses about the people who had produced such a body of literature. Needless to say they drew a picture of a very odd 'race'.

I don't believe Harker was the first to discover this.


31 Jan 20 - 10:26 AM (#4031356)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Brian

It seems to me that Sharp himself did think he was 'theorising'. I refer, for example, to the introduction to his "Folk Song in England", which refers to 'statements and theories'. He states that the folk tune provides many problems for a musical theorist, etc etc.

Not only that but in the same introduction he lists a few of the perspectives which might be shone on folk-song (ethnology, history, social reformist), saying basically, room for all without 'rivalries'.

So while fully agreeing that he enjoyed what he collected, I don't think I can agree that he did it 'just because' he enjoyed it, and it also seems to me (without necessarily sharing Harker's sense of outrage about appropriation of worker's culture) that at least in part he made a living out of it.


31 Jan 20 - 10:27 AM (#4031357)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Not of course that anybody is necessarily trying to state that his sole motive/interest was pleasure in the material!


31 Jan 20 - 10:53 AM (#4031358)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

I don't see that thinking about the material collected and pondering over its nature and origins, and sometimes getting some money for something related to it it, is inconsistant with doing it because it's interesting. Did Sharp cover his costs?

Did Sharp present sociological or political theories related to his material?

In the parts I have read Harker doesn't do any theorising. His theories are presented ready made.


31 Jan 20 - 11:09 AM (#4031360)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"I don't believe Harker was the first to discover this."

As Vic Gammon stated in his 1986 review of 'Fakesong': "There is a sense in which Harker's cut-off from the folk revival gives him
a very odd and undifferentiated view of the movement. What is most
significant is that many of the criticisms which Harker produces in a theoretical mode have been current within the revival for years..."

I don't see that thinking about the material collected and pondering over its nature and origins, and sometimes getting some money for something related to it it, is inconsistant with doing it because it's interesting. Did Sharp cover his costs?

In the USA, which is the period I know most about, Sharp's fieldwork expenses were largely underwritten by his benefactor Helen Storrow in Boston. He made his income (over-estimated by Harker in his letter to FMJ as described earlier) through lecturing and consultancy work. I can't tell you how much money he made from his publications - maybe someone out there can help? I agree with your general point.


31 Jan 20 - 12:56 PM (#4031375)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

I would hazard a guess that the collecting instinct was/is present in at least most of the 'collectors'. Why do we use that word particularly to describe them/us? Prior to becoming interested in folk song I was an avid collector of just about everything that didn't cost a fortune. Many of the earlier collectors were antiquarian collectors before they started on ballads. I possibly have the most comprehensive collection of tradition related broadsides in the country. (Mostly copies I might add).

Pseu. That Thomas Gray mention was particularly interesting. When I wrote 'Gray' I meant Alexander Gray. If you can find out anything about which ballads TG translated and where they can be found it could prove very enlightening. All the examples I gave you were 19th century.

Yes of course Percy's work was influential throughout the continent, but there is no evidence I've seen of any of Percy's published ballads turning up in Danish oral tradition.

When Grundtvig published Engelske og Skotiske Folkevisor in 1840 at least one ballad from this has turned up in later oral tradition in Denmark, but only one, The Cruel Mother, that I know of. G took his versions from Scott, Kinloch, Motherwell and Buchan.


31 Jan 20 - 03:08 PM (#4031386)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

I think we can dismiss Gray as having any influence on ballads. The 2 odes he translated 'The Fatal Sisters' and 'The Descent of Odin' bear little resemblance to traditional balladry, though they do use ballad metre.


31 Jan 20 - 05:26 PM (#4031411)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Steve, sure you are right, but the detail is interesting and perhaps broadly relevant as it shows interest in Scandi culture at the time of Gray.

So many interesting points from this thread.

On Beaman, it amused me that he pulled Harker up for using a 'sexist' definition of 'peasant'.


01 Feb 20 - 02:34 AM (#4031480)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"I don't believe Harker was the first to discover this."

Nor would I believe it.

I would be interested to know who had made the same point before.

I seem to end up looking as if I am justifying Harker, which isn't my intention, and I certainly don't want to seem to have a go at Gammon, as I have read and enjoyed a whole book and several articles he wrote, but to be fair (which seems reasonable) I will point out that Harker cites two pieces of Gammon, both on collecting in Surrey, with approval.

I think Brian is referring to the Gammon piece called 'Two for the Show'. I found this interesting and have quoted from it before. It can be downloaded free using JSTOR and may be available elsewhere online. Worth mentioning again though, as Gammon writes well and for me is always interesting. On a trivial point, I agree with Gammon that Harker's paragraphs are too long.

Gammon finds Harker's view of the revival too undifferentiated because his main focus is on A L Lloyd and Gammon thinks that Lloyd was not as influential in that as Harker suggests. Interesting, since I had been almost getting the impression from some Mudcat posts that MacColl and Lloyd were more or less single-handedly responsible for it all (with a bit of help from Lomax and the US 'left' as embodied in Peggy Seeger, and the only people whose views were worth quoting.

Regarding Beaman, a detail I got from Sharp from him interested me: hope I've go this right: Sharp produced dance steps based on 'trad' for a production of Midsummer Night's Dream (wonder what he made of Bottom's comments on ballads) and wrote a 'classical' piece incorporating tunes, ie he was in effect trying to create national classical stuff incorporating bits of what he say as 'folk' rather like people did on the continent. Beaman seems to approve, being rather opposed to the 'authentic' renderings he is sarcastic about. So maybe a desire to do this with folk was part of the motivation for Sharp's collecting (we were discussing motivations for collecting before) and this would link with the comment Atkinson made about Sharp being influenced by Wagner.

On the other hand, Beaman's research into Sharp's informants was interesting and show just what you can do with the census (which I used to trace some of Walter Pardon's family history). His piece made me curious about 19th century Somerset.

On the other hand, Beaman can be just as irritating as Harker and in similar ways.


01 Feb 20 - 06:12 AM (#4031506)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

I really wasn't going to bother with this - I have always believed that everything that was worth saying about this book was said three decades ago when it was more-or-less rejected by a still healthy folk song scene
However, as this discussion appears to be lacking the same two most important features as did ‘Fakesong’, perhaps it is worth mentioning them here

As with Harker, there has been no attempt to examine ‘the forgeries’ in question – the songs that were collected and presented as ‘the voice of the people’ by Sharp and his colleagues and later on by those who accepted (more or less, with reservations), those who followed them into the field – the Lomaxs and the Library of Congress researchers, the BBC team, Goldstein, Mike Yates, Hamish Henderson, Peter Hall, David Buchan, Hugh Shields, Tom Munnelly…… (all taken in by the big con)
   
Harker chose to denigrate the earlier collectors systematically, personally and by questioning their competence and veracity, rather than present their ‘forgeries’ as evidence.
This discussion has more or less followed the same pattern – no examination of the songs, just the characters and abilities of people who, up to now, have been regarded with a degree of respect and in some case reverence

Harker was totally ignorant of the genre of songs he was dismissing as “fakes” – he relied on the assistance of others to produce his book and, in doing so, aroused a great deal of anger and resentment in the way he treated the help he had been given
He said on a number of occasions that his appearance at conferences had been curtailed because of the hostile reception he received
I see little that has happened since to alter that position – on the contrary, the confusion and often hostility that now exists surrounding the term “folk” seems to indicate that that effect of ‘Fakesong’ has been to add to the mess that is now ‘folk’

The second stunning omission has been the singers themselves – no reference to them in the book and the only ones here has been to present the most respected family of source singers in England as self-promoting showmen

The main evidence we have of the cultural importance of folk song lies in the songs themselves and how they were regarded by the singers and communities they served – without them all that is left is personal opinion and (not very well-informed) guesswork

In my opinion, if any sense is to be made of the enigma that is folksong, it lies in gathering together all the research from as far back as possible and examining that as a whole
Harker adopted the Pol Pot ‘return to the year zero’ approach of throwing everything out, yet he presented no suggestions on who we should remove the scales from our eyes and start again – classic ‘baby out with the bathwater’.
It obviously has achieved nothing but harm to date
Jim Carroll


01 Feb 20 - 07:59 AM (#4031523)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Jim's eloquence speaks for itself.


01 Feb 20 - 08:18 AM (#4031526)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

It seem to have stunned you to silence Pseud
I suppose it's out of the question that you should addreass the points made - perish the thought
If not, it stands unchallenged - that's how debate works
Jim


01 Feb 20 - 10:05 AM (#4031541)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

By blanket criticising Harker's book you are doing exactly what you are accusing others of doing, throwing the baby out with the bathwater.


01 Feb 20 - 10:11 AM (#4031545)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

'addreass the points made'. A pointless exercise as we have found to our cost in the past.

By the the way, Pseu, it's BEARMAN with an R if you are referring to Chris.


01 Feb 20 - 10:25 AM (#4031549)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

I am reporting the general response to the book at the time and the previous lack of experience and knowledge of the writer
Of course, if the neo-researchers ever got around to a full assessment of all the research on folk song that has been carried out, Harker's points would have to be taken into consideration, but the denigrating manner in which he dealt with his fellow researchers makes that nigh impossible
He did what he did regarding the 'baby and bathwater' approach, so it rings a little hollow to demand he be treated fairer than he treated others

I would find it far more preferable that, rather defending the indefensible, some of the points I have been made be answered, but as they haven't been so far, I see no reason that they should be now

Divorcing the singers and musicians from the opinions (only) of a theorist might be a good start
How can you possibly come to any conclusion on the place and authenticity of folk-song in society without examining the songs themselves and the opinions of the singers (what little we have) ?
That's folk with the songs and singers removed from the equation
What makes Bert Lloyd's ' Folk Song in England' vastly superior in every way to Steve Roud's 'Son of....' is that Bert put his arguments alongside the songs and singers, while Roud chose to make them notable by their absence... in my opinion, of course

How the hell can so many of us have been so taken in for so long and why has it taken a 'folk-ignoramous' to put us all right ?

Jim Carroll


01 Feb 20 - 11:29 AM (#4031556)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

"A pointless exercise as we have found to our cost in the past."
You appear to have caught a nasty dose of Harkeritis
I have never attempted to describe anyone as "starry-eyed or naive
Nor have I offered lists of people who agree with me rather than argument
You have my arguments - there's nothing wrong with debunking them even if you don't manage to convince me - this is a public debate, not an attempt to change each other's minds
Jim Carroll


01 Feb 20 - 12:52 PM (#4031574)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Steve: sorry grey matter falters again; you are of course right to correct my spelling of Bearman. I only have one of his pieces, by the way, the 2000 piece called 'Who were the folk...'.


01 Feb 20 - 12:52 PM (#4031575)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

Checkmate, I think
Jim Carroll


01 Feb 20 - 01:19 PM (#4031579)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Jim's eloquence speaks for itself.


01 Feb 20 - 01:23 PM (#4031580)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: RTim

Question - Is Harker still alive? If so - what is he doing today ?

Tim Radford


01 Feb 20 - 01:25 PM (#4031581)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

"Jim's eloquence speaks for itself."
So does your inability to challenge these extremely fundamental points, I'm afraid
Jim Carroll


01 Feb 20 - 01:32 PM (#4031582)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

THIS SEEMS TO BE IT
SOM INTERESTING POINTS MADE HERE
Particularly:
"Your article also talks of "a controlling manipulator who presented a false idyll of rural England by excluding anything that didn't fit his agenda" – clearly based on David Harker's research in the 1970s and 1980s. But later research showed that Harker's statistical methods were based on false assumptions."
Jim Carroll


01 Feb 20 - 01:56 PM (#4031591)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"But later research showed that Harker's statistical methods were based on false assumptions."

My, I am surprised to hear this! Out of the blue, as it were.

I would be grateful for a reference, and also for an explanation of which of Harker's statistical methods the piece in question deals with. Descriptive or analytic? On what page of Harker does this statistical analysis appear?


01 Feb 20 - 02:09 PM (#4031594)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

"I would be grateful for a reference,"
The work of most field workers, before and after Harker have contradicted his claims with what they found
Yoy problem has always been that you reject out of hand anything they doesn't fit your precoonceptions
Scolarship throughout the twntieth century has been solidly based on what was found by Sharp, even though it has always been admitted that those finding needed adapting
No-one up to Harker, claimed that he and his colleges faked anything - that is a new nastiness introduced to the scene
Nor did anybody attempt to play down the role of the singers, as you have consistently
As witj any dispute on something that has been agreed as long as has folk song - it is the job of the challengers to proved evidence, not the rest of us to defend a century plus worth of research
You refuse even to put Harkers claims to the acid test of putting it up against the songs and the views of the singers
As the song goes:
"So bing your witness luv and I'll never deny you"
Jim Varroll


01 Feb 20 - 02:14 PM (#4031596)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Jim's logic and clarity are models to us all.


01 Feb 20 - 02:57 PM (#4031603)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

Ducking and diving again
I order to be effective sarcasm requires something you apparently don't possess - wit
I've answered your points fairly clearly, even for somebody as new to all this as you obviously are - have the courtesy to answer mine
Jim Carroll


01 Feb 20 - 03:29 PM (#4031609)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Lighter

> No-one up to Harker, claimed that he and his colleges faked anything

Not quite correct, Jim, though it is certainly true that "fake" is often used invidiously.

The poet James Reeves didn't use it when he published "Idiom of the People "in 1958, which presented the unbowdlerized texts of songs collected by Sharp in England which the publishing constraints of the time forced him to alter, soften, or partially rewrite.

In "The Everlasting Circle" (1960) Reeves did the same for texts collected by Baring-Gould, Hammon, and Gardiner. Though Baring-Gould seems to have been more of a prude than Sharp, he too had to rewrite songs (sometimes extensively) to get them published at all.

Allegedly Child too very occasionally suppressed (rather than alter) a line or a stanza.

And we all know about Stan Hugill's chanteys

All American collectors suppressed or bowdlerized even mildly erotic texts. Few even noted them down, Robert Gordon and Vance Randolph being the outstanding exceptions.

G. Legman, later the editor of Randolph's large collection of bawdy songs - all from the Ozarks - complained in the early '60s of what he *did* call "fakery" in connection with the early collectors. He was talking solely about the bowdlerization and suppression of texts.

Legman wondered strenuously why Child had not included the Percy manuscript's text of "The Lobster" in his collection of ballads. He called Percy the "first" and B-G the "worst" of the "fakers."

One wonders if Harker was influenced by Legman's largely accurate, if hyperbolic and intemperate attacks, then decided to "show" in the face of the evidence that "fakery" was rampant, cynical, and pervasive.


01 Feb 20 - 03:59 PM (#4031615)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Hi Jon
Are you referring to Legman's The Horn Book? If so I have my reading for tonight. Unfortunately, I've got 'Blow the candle out' but not the first volume. Which of them do you recommend for the fakery info?

Yes 'The Crabfish' would have fulfilled all of his criteria and filled many pages with its antecedents, much better than many of the ballads he did include.

I really wish we could get to grips with different types of mediation rather than lumping them all together. Percy and B-G were both highly acclaimed in their own times for their bowdlerisations which were done for very valid reasons. B-G did actually fake a few ballads that he sent to Child, but this pales into insignificance when held up against someone like Peter Buchan who maintained until he died that all of his material came straight from oral tradition unmediated when even his most ardent apologists accepted he 'eked them out', and of course Scott regretted his mediations publicly.


01 Feb 20 - 04:11 PM (#4031617)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

Yes, Steve, I believe I'm thinking of "The Bawdy Song in Fact and Print" in The Horn Book (1964).

A much shorter version of the article appeared, I think, in a journal a couple of years earlier.

I also seem to recall that Legman accused Child of suppressing a stanza of "Trooper and Maid" in the Addenda to Volume 5.


01 Feb 20 - 04:17 PM (#4031618)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Lighter: re your last paragraph:

a) Harker does indeed mention Legman, and mostly in the narrow context you indicated earlier in the post in terms of bowdlerization and suppression of erotic texts. See eg p 118. This by the way refers to the 1861 "2nd edition" of ESB, not to the ESPB. Harker has a comment on the values of Child's world in which sadism, murder, butchery and any amount of violence are silently condoned whereas a bit of harmless eroticism has to be hidden away in a Motherwell type reference in the Index.

b) For me, the idea that Harker's book is one in which he attempts to show that 'fakery' of songs was "rampant, cynical and pervasive" misrepresents the book and its aims. I think this point was touched upon earlier in the book. I suppose some people (present company excluded) may get this idea from the title, imagining it to refer to fake songs, when Harker's idea is broader than that.

c) Further, as previously discussed, Harker singles out some antiquarians/researchers, including Motherwell and Ritson, as having a more scholarly approach than others.

So I don't personally feel there is much in the book 'Fakesong' to support the supposition in your last paragraph.


01 Feb 20 - 04:22 PM (#4031620)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

My point a is a little garbled, but people can easily turn up the original via Harker's book. Sorry.


01 Feb 20 - 05:25 PM (#4031635)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish

Pseudonymous > Harker has a comment on the values of Child's world in which sadism, murder, butchery and any amount of violence are silently condoned whereas a bit of harmless eroticism has to be hidden away in a Motherwell type reference in the Index.

Didn't Child himself comment somewhere about the irrationality of being able to publish all that nasty stuff but unable to publish anything about normal healthy sex?

Jim > As with Harker, there has been no attempt to examine ‘the forgeries’ in question – the songs that were collected and presented as ‘the voice of the people’ by Sharp and his colleagues and later on by those who accepted (more or less, with reservations), those who followed them into the field – the Lomaxs and the Library of Congress researchers, the BBC team, Goldstein, Mike Yates, Hamish Henderson, Peter Hall, David Buchan, Hugh Shields, Tom Munnelly…… (all taken in by the big con)

There has been discussion on this thread and elsewhere. As Steve G points out, there have been various kinds of mediation. Certainly some collectors "improved" their texts to a greater or lesser degree, but there have not been very many total "forgeries", and most of those were from some of the earliest collectors two-hundred-odd years ago, not from the more recent collectors, though Bert seems to have been guilty of a few. Wasn't Harker's beef more about the nature of the collecting process rather than anyone faking the actual songs.


01 Feb 20 - 06:05 PM (#4031648)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

This is precisely what I'm trying to differentiate, Richard, and what Pseu is saying as well. The mediation can refer to individual ballads, or to only collecting/publishing certain portions of the material, or to misrepresenting a whole genre. In extreme cases, Buchan being the strongest suspect, but Scott stood accused over Kinmont Willie and others, the creation of whole new ballads being passed off as from tradition.

My own personal interest is not with the bowdlerisation which was natural and a necessary evil, but with the deception, and my biggest beef is that we know it happened but we can never know completely the extent of it. I think I share this worry with poor old Ritson.


01 Feb 20 - 06:54 PM (#4031653)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Interesting that "Bowdler" was a man who took the rude bits out of Shakespeare, of which there are very many. It isn't just 'folklore' that got the Victorian prude treatment.

@ Steve, yes, Ritson, and as I keep saying Harker praises Ritson. I think I am as aware of anybody of Harker's weaknesses, but it does frustrate me when I feel that people are damning Harker on the basis of false ideas about what he was attempting.

@ Richard: "Wasn't Harker's beef more about the nature of the collecting process rather than anyone faking the actual songs."

This is closer to my interpretation. For me, though, it isn't just the 'collecting process' that Harker has a beef with, it's the consequent representations about working class/lower class culture and attitudes that he takes issue with.


01 Feb 20 - 07:05 PM (#4031655)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"Checkmate, I think" ?????????????????


01 Feb 20 - 08:25 PM (#4031662)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Lighter

> Didn't Child himself comment somewhere about the irrationality of being able to publish all that nasty stuff but unable to publish anything about normal healthy sex?

It have been more than exceptional had Child done so in the 1890s, or at any time during the Victoria era. And it's difficult for me to imagine him even thinking it.   

Consider his headnote to "The Keach in the Creel," a humorous ballad which he somehow forced himself to include, despite its including a passage that was "brutal and shameless almost beyond description."

Nowadays Mudcatters have argued over what the hell passage he could have meant!

No, the statement you allude to was made by the above-mentioned Legman in the early '60s - and frequently thereafter.


01 Feb 20 - 09:40 PM (#4031670)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: RTim

So no one cares or knows if Harker is still alive....??

Tim Radford


02 Feb 20 - 03:17 AM (#4031684)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Not quite correct, Jim, though it is certainly true that "fake" is often used invidiously."
It's beyond question that people have always questioned what was published in the early days, but most people were intelligent enough to put that editing into the context of the times rather than the maliciousness of "fake" or even "mediation" (just as malicious in its way)
That implies a personal action based on personal taste and prejudice
These people were working in the post-Victorian period and had be careful what they published - probably the most popular target for the critics of 'cleaning up' was Baring Gould
They tried to get the songs accepted into schools and there was no way that, say, 'Strawberry Fair'. with it's "locks and keys" was going to make it into the classroom
The most visionary among them kept unedited texts and published the cleaned-up stuff, which was fair enough
I was always intrigued by the tune and reference to the song 'The Girl from Loestoft' (or 'The Hole in the Wall' which was published in the Journal as a tune only with the note that the words were unfit for polite eyes
I was delighted to find that Lomax recorded it from Harry Cox some time in the 1950s but to date it has never been widely distributed

Legman probably over-emphasised the sex bit with some of his statements, but he certainly acted as a breath of fresh air to song scholarship (and was frowned on in his native America for doing so)
We wrote to him when we found we were unable to get hold of volume two of 'The Rational of the Dirty Joke' (entitled No Laughing Matter') - I still have a his reply telling us that we could get a copy from a seedy publisher in Soho - the same firm that published the soft porn 'Rude Food'
Even in the seventies, bawdy material was difficult to obtain - Britain was still stinging from the Lady Chatterley trial

There is nothing whatever wrong with criticising these people as long as it is done fairly - Harker brought an end to all that with his career-enhancing spitefulness - and now, it seems, his disciples have taken up the cudgels
Some of these postings give me the impression of toy poodles snapping at the heels of giants - these people opened a door to a wonderful world for many of us - there's little sign of gratitude from some quarters
Jim Carroll


02 Feb 20 - 03:49 AM (#4031686)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Jim
As most of your post is accurate and thoughtful I am responding.

Once again though I urge you to think carefully about what you are condemning. By blanket criticising you are being at least as unfair as Harker.

>>>>>>"mediation" (just as malicious in its way)<<<<<< Really? Do rethink what you are saying here, or perhaps look up the word in a dictionary.

You are way off the mark with your last statement. You obviously have not read the thread or have ignored it. Everyone here has heavily criticised Harker, including me. However you are beginning to look as if you think there is not a single word of truth in Harker's book.

Until you get away from this 'coffin kicking' belief, you can make no sense here. Harker has no disciples here, least of all me.

'Little sign of gratitude'. Absolute poppycock and it is your blinkered approach that lets you believe this.


02 Feb 20 - 04:33 AM (#4031694)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"As most of your post is accurate and thoughtful I am responding."
It would be helpful if you didn't patronise Steve - we know as much as each other about these things, and each of us has knowledhe that the other doesn't, so I suggest we take that as read
You have yet to respond to any of my points - you are one who has taken your hatchet to some of our giants indiscriminately so - once again, your advice on 'blanket criticism' rings somewhat hollow
Some of what Harker said said had been said by many before him - the one thing you can't accuse him of is 'originality'
What he cornered the market on was ham-fisted brutality in his handling of pioneers who were knew to the field - this spoiled a unique chance to examine the weakness and strengths of their work by forcing us into corners
I can think of a similar occurrence when Fred McCormick did a deplorable hatchet job on the Elizabeth Cronin book
I've followed the thread carefully and have put it into context of what has gone before with other arguments - the 'who made our folksong' one being foremost
We don't know the answers to many of these questions and probably never will so the dishonest 'done deal' approach that you tend towards presents a hurdle we have to clamber over before we can even start to discuss things
It is not uncritical to describe the attributes of these collectors, but suggestions of 'lies' and incompetence get in the way of fruitful discussion
So far we haven't got around to discussing what Harker had to say properly because were still clambering over your first hurdle

Harker fucked up - his sledgehammer approach probably destroyed any chance of a decent analysis of folk song until our generation clears the stage for an untainted new crowd
I believe much of what Harker started still hangs like a miasma over today's folk scene - that's why we have less and less researchers and singers of real folk songs
Jim Carroll


02 Feb 20 - 05:10 AM (#4031702)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Incidentally
'Little sign of gratitude'. Absolute poppycock"
I am not the only one to have noticed this
Mike Yates commented on it several times before he stopped posting and I detect more than a little more of the same in Brian Peters's postings - though both are far gentler souls than I am
A bit of self-analysis wouldn't go amiss Steve
Jim Carroll


02 Feb 20 - 05:13 AM (#4031703)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

The latest work by Harker I can find reference to is his book on Robert Tressell and "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists", 2003 (I haven't seen it but that would have been well worth doing). So I'd guess he is no longer working.

I don't have "Fakesong" but I do have Harker's earlier "One for the Money" which contains a chapter titled "Fakesong" which is a precis of the later book. As he says, he isn't attacking Sharp himself, but the followers who refused to examine where he was coming from. Which seems fair enough to me. The rest of the chapter is a history of the English second revival, and seems to me to be as good as you could get in the space, though as usual in Anglocentric accounts, Scotland hardly exists and continental Europe really, really doesn't exist.


02 Feb 20 - 05:58 AM (#4031711)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

Tim …
Dave Harker is indeed still alive and attended a meeting of the Traditional Song Forum when it met in Newcastle a year or two ago. He lives back up in the north-east again after many years in Manchester.
He has recently published a series of books on north-east singers and song writers:
Billy Purvis: The first professional Geordie
Cat-Gut Jim the Fiddler: Ned Corvan's Life & Songs
The Gallowgate Lad: Joe Wilson' Life and Songs

All three were reviewed in Folk Music Journal.

Derek


02 Feb 20 - 06:37 AM (#4031722)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I enjoyed this thread, but the moment Jim came along I thought it was doomed. Especially when he started lecturing us on how to have a debate and the rules of discussion and then imagined that the skill of his input had stunned me into silence. I have learned a lot from the contributions of all, and would have liked to continue to discuss Sharp's theoretical work and Harker's section on Lloyd, which does have some delightful bits of sarcasm in it, and they are spot on. But can you imagine trying to discuss a critique of Lloyd with Jim? We've been there: it'll be insults all round, first name 'Bert, anecdotes about Jim being the chauffeur for Bert and bizarre denials that Bert ever did anything political... .

Oh well, all good things must end.

Thank you everybody.

Maybe one day Jim will work out why Harker did not include Tom Munnelly in his book. But I think the challenge may be beyond him. It onvolved switiching the brain on


02 Feb 20 - 06:38 AM (#4031723)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

As far as I can out from this thread, the article from 2003 by Mike Yates on the Musical Traditions website has not been referenced here. It is called Jumping to Conclusions with a subtitle of Mike Yates examines a row that is bubbling away beneath the surface of British folksong scholarship.
As we might expect from Mike, it is well researched and argued and cogently written and totally relevant to this thread. However, despite being highly critical of Harker, it does not attempt to be the final word; it is an examination rather than a definitive conclusion. It seems to seek responses from Harker and perhaps those who support him to answer charges made and points raised by him. After all this is a discussion an as John Moulden has already stated in this thread (and I have already quoted):-

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


This makes a triumphalist claim that a game has been won sound rather ludicrous.


02 Feb 20 - 07:11 AM (#4031730)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Vic
I had read Yates' piece. Harker thanks Yates in his book, but clearly the relationship between the two has not been smooth. Yates links to Bearman, which I have been studying, and who has some rebuke for Sharp as well as for Harker. I had been thinking of seeing if people wanted to discuss Bearman in detail, but I think I have burned my boats as far as this thread is concerned.


02 Feb 20 - 07:12 AM (#4031731)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Sorry, should have thanked Vic for the ref. MUDSTRAD is an excellent source of reading materials.


02 Feb 20 - 07:19 AM (#4031733)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

I'm going to read "One for the Money" right through. As well as the section on the revival it has a chapter on pitmen's songs, disentangling the present understanding of them (which Lloyd had a large part in) from the historical facts (which are substantial). It isn't an all-out debunking of Lloyd but does build up a much more (believably) detailed story. I suspect the real snarky stuff will be where he discusses Dylan.


02 Feb 20 - 07:20 AM (#4031734)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Scotland hardly exists and continental Europe really, really doesn't exist."
I think this an excellent point - it's far too often forgotten that with folk song, particularly the ballads, we are dealing with an international phenomenon which has drawn its influences from way beyond Britain
Both Scotland and Ireland hold many clues as to how the oral traditions worked and the fact that they survived longer in these places (particularly among the Travellers) than they did in England makes the information more accessible
Ireland's massive song-making tradition is a strong argument in the "who made our folksong" battle, in my opinion

I've just finished digitising several sets of albums we purchased abroad - a six vol. Hungarian set, a magnificent 10 vol. set we brought in Crete, and recently a 4 vol, set of 'The songs of Smyrna' - great examples of how it can be done, given the will
Anybody who would like copies.... of course

"it'll be insults all round,"
I would remind you that you hold the honour of being the only person on this forum to open a thread specifically to attack a fellow poster - as for your comments on my work being "unreliable" when you haven't even seen it.....
I think Macbeth had the right of it when he said " Stand not upon the order of your going,. But go"
Jim Carroll
    NOTE TO JIM CARROLL AND PSEUDONYMOUS: I had to delete a number of your messages. I will not tolerate combative posts from either one of you. Stick to the facts of the discussion, and quit attacking each other.
    -Joe Offer-


02 Feb 20 - 08:14 AM (#4031739)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

MUDSTRAD is an excellent source of reading materials.
Ahem! I think that you meant MUSTRAD (diminuation of MUSical TRADitions)
No, there is nothing muddy about Mustrad whereas.....


02 Feb 20 - 09:47 AM (#4031760)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Vic: thanks for the correction. :)


02 Feb 20 - 12:00 PM (#4031781)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

So are we getting a list of the articles you have published in journals then?


02 Feb 20 - 03:15 PM (#4031809)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Vic
Many thanks for that reference to Mike's article. An excellent appraisal of the then situation. His statement of his realisation that Sharp was a giant in the field and very influential, no-one could possibly argue with. No-one I know is seeking to undermine Sharp's physical legacy.

I personally also have no quibbles over how he and others published the material when the originals were faithfully set down to the best of their ability and available technology.

My only misgivings lie in what I and others perceive to be a misrepresentation of how the material was created and evolved.


02 Feb 20 - 03:21 PM (#4031810)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Oh, and I really think Mike and Brian are well capable of speaking for themselves.


02 Feb 20 - 06:07 PM (#4031839)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Whilst it's relatively quiet I'll add a little info to my 3rd line above but leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Sharp had a smallish collection of broadsides but most were of the mid 19th century. However he must have been at least aware of some of the larger collections at the BL, Oxford and Cambridge.

Baring Gould and Kidson had already been in the field for 10 years before he came along. Baring Gould had spent many hours in the BL looking at street lit collections and his notes to Songs of the West show a very good knowledge of the evolution of many of the songs. Kidson was already a musical historian before he even got interested in folk song and his first FS book 'Traditional Tunes' shows a good knowledge of the relationship between print and oral tradition and indeed popular song.

However both Baring Gould and Kidson were 200 miles away from London when it all kicked off when Sharp arrived. Sharp soon established his authority.


03 Feb 20 - 04:01 AM (#4031884)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

If I may go back a step to fill out what I understand Steve to be saying in his 'third line above' and his last post:

For the benefit of those who have not read Harker, his section on Sharp has five sections. He draws on a range of materials for it, including Sharp's diaries, his writings, and works about Sharp. He cautions against using later editions edited by Maud Karpeles as, he says, these are themselves interesting objects as examples of 'mediation': in other words she took out bits Harker would rather she had left in etc.

Harker's 5 sections are:

1 Early life 2) The 'discovery of 'folksong' (inverted commas as used by Harker) 3 English Folksong: Some Conclusions (this is an examination of Sharp's theoretical statement, which is available free online and which I have read only some of as yet) 4) Song Collecting (this goes up to about 1907) 5 Song Publishing.


03 Feb 20 - 04:03 AM (#4031885)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Pleased that the nastiness has been deleted - for my part, I will have nothing more to do with such mud-slinging and I suggest everybody else does the same - now maybe we can get down to the real discussion
I put up what I believe to be the real omission here has still to be answered
A long discussion about the how we understand folk song without any reference to either the songs or the singers is utterly ridiculous
If these songs are fakes - discuss them and expose their fakery

The collectors have been far more efficiently covered than in Harker's axe-ginding 'Fakelore'
Works like Dorson's 'The British Folklorist' and 'Peasant Customs and Savage Myths' give excellent accounts of the earliest collectors
D K Wilgus's 'Anglo American Folksong Scholarship since 1898' puts Harker's efforts in the shade - an indispensable 'bible' for anybody wishing to learn how our folksongs were gathered
The collectors themselves wrote their own handbooks to collecting, all containing the techniques they used laid bare - Sandy Ives, Ken Goldstein and Bruce Jackson - and Sean O'Sullivan's 'Handbook of Folklore' stands over all these as a magnificent and extremely detailed search-list
Written accounts of the projects themselves - Henry Glassie's 'Passing the Time' and, 'Stars of Ballymenone' and more recently. Len Graham's 'Joe Holmes' show the collectors in action and the results of their work
Bob Copper's, Songs and Southerner Breezes' says more about English collecting in a few paragraphs than does Harker's entire book
The now sadly defunct 'Tocher' and many of the articles carried in 'Scottish Studies' contain masses of information on how the Scots collectors worked
- I was delighted to obtain a copy of Marin Graeb's book on Baring Gould recently - a detailed account of how the BBC collectors 'Roved Out' is long overdue

Instead of Harker's back-biting begudgery, which has long been rejected by most folk-song lovers, these are the works that need to be visited and re-visited if we are to make an honest judgement on what has been passed on to us
Child, Motherwell, Buchan, Burns, Sharp, Grainger and the rest, laid the foundation for all this as collectors and anthologists - to debunk their work as Harker did is to destroy the foundations that our folksong, music and lore stand on

Wilgus wrote in his introduction to '1898';
"This is a critical history of folksong study not only because any history must be critical, but because the writer's in no sense 'above criticism' - For the battle continues. The current folk-music revival is a product of many factors, but it is not causing a renaissance of scholarship. Folksong scholarship never died"
Jim Carroll


03 Feb 20 - 04:05 AM (#4031886)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Oh, and I really think Mike and Brian are well capable of speaking for themselves."
They have
Jim Carroll


03 Feb 20 - 04:19 AM (#4031889)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

I haven't read "Fakesong" for a while, but from where I've got with "One for the Money", it's really an appendix to that earlier book (an expansion of one chapter in it) rather than a self-contained work. And the scope of Harker's project is impressive. The bibliography of OftM alone is a colossal piece of work.

So please lay off the glib sniping. This guy deserves to be taken seriously.


03 Feb 20 - 04:54 AM (#4031891)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Harker states that Child’s theory was influenced by three main people: Sir Hubert Parry, Carl Engel, and Francis Barton Gummere.

1 Parry taught at the Royal College of Music and wrote a choral used at Coronations, and the music for Blake’s ‘And did those feet in ancient times’, though I don’t think he understood Blake’s bitter irony and I’m certain he would not have liked Blake’s politics. Sharp had ambitions to be an art musician and did use ‘folk’ music he had collected in his ‘art music’ as did others of his time of course.

2 Gummere is lit focused, not a musicologist. He had ideas about the origins of music and dance.
Examples of his style and of what for me is somewhat evidence-free theorising are here:
https://www.bartleby.com/library/prose/2028.html

Harker says Sharp took his three-part account of ‘folk’ from Gummere, the three elements being a) continuity b) variation and c) selection. Harker regards Sharp’s theory as social Darwinist; presumably Harker would prefer a more Marxist account of this history of song, such as in A L Lloyd but less ‘vulgar’ to use Harker’s expression.

3 Carl Engel is the only one of the three I had never heard of before reading Harker so yet again I learn something. One of his specialities was ‘national musics’, and we know that producing ‘national music’ of a sort that could be taught to children for example was something Sharp was especially interested in.

For more on Engel, see here:
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo1.ark:/13960/t3223gm0x&view=1up&seq=19

I thought this background was interesting, but would be interested to hear whether other posters feel that Harker is right in highlighting these three and so on.

Put together they would help explain why Sharp went looking for folk song in bits of Somerset that he regarded as full of ‘peasantry’, (to anticipate a discussion of Bearman which may or may not take place here). For as Harker points out, he did not go to Bath, Shepton Mallet, Taunton, Bristol, Yeovil etc etc. And while it is true that Sharp’s notes incude much that he did not publish, and that this material has been useful to people coming after, I think that Harker is claiming that Sharp might have/did ignore stuff that people were singing that he, Sharp, decided was not folk. In that Harker includes as a possibility songs in the modern minor (melodic presumably) as opposed to the modal material that I personally know Sharp was fond of noting and remarking upon. I think Harker is keener on accounts that are more fully representative of actual ‘working class’ culture as a whole as it existed.

So this is my attempt at seeing the background against which to think about what Steve said in his last couple of posts. Happy to be corrected if wrong. Hoping this is a constructive if long contribution to the thread.


03 Feb 20 - 05:09 AM (#4031892)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

Parry was a socialist, pacifist and feminist and most certainly DID understand what Blake was about. "Jerusalem" was written as a Suffragette anthem.


03 Feb 20 - 05:16 AM (#4031894)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I put up what I believe to be the real omission here has still to be answered ????????????


03 Feb 20 - 06:25 AM (#4031904)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley

Jim's comment about Bob Copper's 'Songs and Southern Breezes' is particularly apposite. Out of print for many years we have reprinted it - I think it's a great book and illustrates perfectly how well suited Bob was to the task of 'collecting' songs, stories and dialect. I guess from a countryman's point of view it 'takes one to know one' which is why he was so successful. It also took the foresight of an Irishman, Brian George, to put the whole BBC collecting scheme into operation and to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude.


03 Feb 20 - 06:33 AM (#4031906)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I fact checked what Harker said about Sharp's 'dubbing the negros as of an inferior race' against the VWML original and transcript, and what Harker said is fully accurate and represents Sharp's own account of what he said. See p 202 of Harker.


03 Feb 20 - 06:34 AM (#4031907)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Bob Copper's, Songs and Southerner Breezes' says more about English collecting in a few paragraphs than does Harker's entire book
Two letters too many - it should be "Southern" but otherwise could I also help to bring attention to the reprint of this totally admirable and underrated book? A notice in the current Living Tradition brings attention to this as well as on the homepage of the magazine's website and The Copper Family website suggests that you buy it from Amazon.
The man behind this reprint s the utterly admirable man (an a good friend for 50 years now) Jon Dudley.


03 Feb 20 - 06:36 AM (#4031908)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

I seem to have cross-posted with Jon!


03 Feb 20 - 06:48 AM (#4031909)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Jon
Delighted to hear it's being reprinted
The BBC collection is the most neglected folk asset Britain has - still basically unused, largely thanks to Kennedy's claim of ownership, but mainly thanks to disinterest by both the BBC and EFDSS
Up to my transferring the EFDSS recordings onto tape for the V.W.M. Library, they existed outside the Beeb only on very fragile discs which were constantly being played unsupervised on crude equipment by anybody who requested them - many were damaged and some were stolen
Anybody attempting to issue them publicly had to fight Kennedy for their use and usually had to pay him
I believe Bob Copper had a great deal of difficulty issuing his 'Songs and Southern Breezes' album on Topic
Many of them still remain woefully unused and it is sad to think that so little interest has survived in them that that will probably remain the case
Some time in the 90s we attended a library lecture at C#Sharp House given by a young American, Craig Fees, who had researched the project and had come up with masses of information - it would be interesting to know if he had done anything further with his researches
It would also be interesting to know if the recording team had interviewed any of the singers and if those recordings survived

My strongest memory of the project is a conversation we one had with Seamus Ennis, one of the main collectors, in a bar here in Miltown Malbay
I said to him, "I believe you worked with Peter Kennedy"
After a very pregnant silence he spat out, "That man's a thief"
Jim Carroll


03 Feb 20 - 07:00 AM (#4031911)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Thanks for the recommendation Vic. I'll put it on my ever-expanding list. Jon Dudley made some valued contributions to this thread.

I've just ordered a book/author Steve suggested further up this thread (not the first time I've taken up one of Steve's suggestions, may I add) by David C Fowler.


03 Feb 20 - 08:09 AM (#4031926)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Life is full of funny coincidences. I have just discovered this minute that the reprint of Songs & Southern Breezes has been sent out for review by LT magazine and that they are sending it out to a reviewer.

Now you have to guess who the reviewer is!


03 Feb 20 - 08:12 AM (#4031927)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Bob Copper's A Song For Every Season contains the words and music of forty-seven songs from the Copper Family repertoire - the 'Jim Copper Song Book' - with Bob's stories of his family and of rural life in Sussex, month by month, with illustrations, photographs and reflections. It won the Robert Pitman literature prize in the year of its first publication.

Only £2 on ABE books. Cheaper than Amazon.


03 Feb 20 - 08:29 AM (#4031928)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Cheaper than Amazon but not the book we were talking about.


03 Feb 20 - 08:34 AM (#4031929)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Vic ha ha! Not that there is an 'industry' related to the Copper family of course ….

Other publications from the same stable available on Abe Books include

Bob Copper's Sussex
Early to Rise
Watercolours of Sussex past
Across Sussex with Belloc
Songs of Southern Breezez (SIC) (foreword by John Arlott)

Obviously a talented person with a variety of interests.


03 Feb 20 - 08:38 AM (#4031930)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

AddALL dynamic search link


03 Feb 20 - 09:36 AM (#4031933)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

And now we've had an ad break (joke joke) perhaps we could return to the topic of the thread, namely a book by Dave Harker called 'Fakesong'?


03 Feb 20 - 09:43 AM (#4031936)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Yes, I can speak for myself, and have indeed done so in the past!

I’ve been meaning for a couple of days to respond to Richard Mellish’s point:
“...there have been various kinds of mediation. Certainly some collectors "improved" their texts to a greater or lesser degree, but there have not been very many total "forgeries"... Wasn't Harker's beef more about the nature of the collecting process rather than anyone faking the actual songs?”

One of the problems of ‘Fakesong’ is precisely its title: the obvious wordplay on ‘folk’ and ‘fake’ was an open goal for any sceptical author in the field with a book to sell, and it’s hardly surprising that Harker chose to use it. However, it does create in the mind of the reader an initial impression that what is to be discussed is the forgery of repertoire, whereas what we get is an attack on an entire concept. In order to pursue that attack, Harker goes for everything he can lay his hands on: outright forgeries, ‘improved’ texts, bowdlerization for publication, selectivity in field collections, dismissal of the influence of print, supposedly cynical and grasping practices by collectors, incorrect class consciousness, the lot (well, all except Bert Lloyd’s emendations, which get off lightly). Then he lumps it all together under the pejorative term, ‘fake’. It’s no wonder quite a lot of readers have been confused and/or annoyed, and that’s before we get to the flaws in the scholarship and the endless appearance of words like ‘bourgeois’ and ‘reactionary’ at every turn, which are off-putting to say the least.

Personally I don’t have a problem with scholars unravelling the editorial and collecting practices of the last three centuries, if it helps us to discover what people actually sang, and if it’s conducted in a spirit of honest curiosity rather than a determination to tear down the temple, and to bend the evidence around one particular narrative. Steve G’s interrogation of Scott, Motherwell and co. as sources is something I look on with interest, not horror, while unpicking Bert Lloyd’s song editing is simply a fascinating puzzle to resolve. Seems to me this kind of work is true to the spirit of Child himself, who strove so hard to drill through the published material to the most authentic texts available.

I agree with Jim that ‘Fakesong’ is not the place to go to find out about songs or singers.   Concluding the chapter on Child, we find: “About the lives, interest and culture of the people who made, re-made and used [these] songs, Child like his predecessors can tell us almost nothing.” But 'Fakesong' tells us almost nothing about them either, except as non-speaking, walk-on parts in a theoretical narrative.

Derek Schofield has already answered Tim’s query regarding Dave Harker’s present whereabouts and activity and, although I haven’t yet read those three books on Tyneside song (published between 2017 and 2019), they look interesting, were favourably reviewed in the FMJ, and represent the author on his home, and perhaps strongest, ground.

2017 was also the year in which Dave Harker had his article ‘Dr Bearman’s “Meticulous Scholarship”’ published in the Folk Music Journal (as ‘correspondence’, and hence not subject to peer review), directly in response to FMJ editor David Atkinson’s comment following Bearman’s death that: “any fair-minded person is bound to admire his meticulous scholarship” and an obituary by Christopher Heppa which alluded to his ‘demolition’ of Harker. It’s worth noting that no serious scholar in the field has disputed Bearman’s statistical critique of Harker’s work – even Vic Gammon, who retains more respect for Harker than most, nonetheless finds Bearman’s work “at it’s best... very good indeed”, though CJB was “not beyond making some myths of his own.” Heppa’s not uncritical obituary is worth reading if you want to get an idea of Bearman’s controversial personality.


03 Feb 20 - 10:05 AM (#4031941)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Pseudonymous.

Comment in the discussion on Sharp's 'dubbing the negros as of an inferior race' must have been a long way up above and I am not sure what the context was. Harker says that his liberal hosts maintained that it was 'a mere lack of education etc!"

I read your post as I start to read the parts of "Some Conclusions" that I skipped before (because I was mainly interested in the tunes). Sharp is explicit on the first two paragraphs of the first chapter that (at that time) he regarded the characteristics of a nations music as deriving from qualities that are "natural and inborn" in its people and that "those special gifts for which a nation is renowned will usually be conspicious in its lower and unlettered classes" because they are "least affected by extraneous and educational influences".

Harker (on the page, 202, that you point out) says that by 1918 "... the racist residue of his mid Victorian childhood had burst through.... The ranking amongst races may be part of that upbringing but it looks to me like his belief that the nations of Europe were inherently different was more of a contemporary application of Darwinism that he though fundamental enough to be on page 1. In writing about Sharp Harker tends to use the word 'culture' where Sharp seems to have been thinking of something inherent.

I wonder what angle Sharp would have taken on "can white man sing the blues".


03 Feb 20 - 10:09 AM (#4031944)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

Concluding the chapter on Child, we find: “About the lives, interest and culture of the people who made, re-made and used [these] songs, Child like his predecessors can tell us almost nothing.” But 'Fakesong' tells us almost nothing about them either, except as non-speaking, walk-on parts in a theoretical narrative.

See the chapter on pitmen's songs in "One for the Money". The whole point of his discussion is to show how understanding the culture of the mineworkers better gives you a deeper understanding of the songs. (He singles out Ritson as being in some ways more clued up than any of his successors, Lloyd included).


03 Feb 20 - 10:10 AM (#4031945)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

"... that he thought fundamental enough..."


03 Feb 20 - 10:12 AM (#4031946)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Jack Campin wrote:
"the scope of Harker's project is impressive. The bibliography of OftM alone is a colossal piece of work. So please lay off the glib sniping."

As I stated before, Harker had clearly done his research, covered a lot of ground and processed a lot of information. My problem is that the copious quotes from his sources (at least as regards B-G, Sharp, etc) are very carefully selected and edited, and often misleading.


03 Feb 20 - 10:22 AM (#4031948)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"See the chapter on pitmen's songs in "One for the Money". The whole point of his discussion is to show how understanding the culture of the mineworkers better gives you a deeper understanding of the songs."

I don't have 'One For The Money', but 'Fakesong' does challenge Lloyd's view of NE miners' culture, albeit without having any miners speak for themselves, which is what I was talking about. I accept that Harker is a specialist in that field and, incidentally, his chapter on Lloyd is one of the better ones - if only it didn't give the impression of having been motivated principally by a sectarian objection to the Communist Party of Great Britain.


03 Feb 20 - 11:09 AM (#4031961)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"the racist residue of his mid Victorian childhood had burst through.... "
This is typical of Harker's taking the work of these collectors out of context
Racism, far from being "mid Victorian" was rife when these people were working - and long afterwards
Shortly before the Irish fleeing the Famine were depicted as sub-human apes in the popular press - Children's author, Rev. Charles Kingsley described them as "white chimpanzees
The Empire thrived on the concept of the superiority of the white race - even when I was in primary school in the 1940s we were still singing hymns which painted being foreign as being "in error's chain - from Greenland's icy mountains to India's coral strand"
When Mark Twain wrote his pamphlet, 'King Leopold's Soliloquy', describing how 'Gallant Little Belgium' was had slaughtered up to 2 million Congolese tribesmen in the pursuit of rubber in 1905, his demands for action fell largely on deaf ears internationally
Even revolutionaries like Jack London championed white supremacy
Over a century later racism is still a major problem
It would have been extremely surprising if Sharp had not gone with the flow of the times and not been a racist
Sharp was a Fabian Socialist which suggested he was a humanitarian, which put him streets ahead of most from his background
Jim Carroll


03 Feb 20 - 11:11 AM (#4031962)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Shortly before the Irish fleeing the Famine"
Missed out the comma - sould read:
"Shortly before, the Irish fleeing the Famine...."
Jim Carroll


03 Feb 20 - 11:23 AM (#4031966)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Jag wrote:-
I wonder what angle Sharp would have taken on "can white man sing the blues".
.... or how would Sharp have answered an even more intruiging question - Can Blue Men Sing The Whites?


03 Feb 20 - 11:32 AM (#4031967)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Whoops agai - not my day
Sould read
" 'Gallant Little Belgium' had slaughtered up to 10 MILLION Congolese tribes


03 Feb 20 - 11:39 AM (#4031969)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

**** this multi-tasking !
Should read
"'Gallant Little Belgium' had slaughtered up to 10 MILLION Congolese tribesmen
Jim


03 Feb 20 - 12:05 PM (#4031973)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Pseu 4.54 a.m.
Should you have put 'Sharp'? Gummere was one of Child's students!
Perhaps Joe could alter it for you.

I would be happy to start a discussion of individual faked ballads as suggested by Jim, but they should perhaps have their own threads as this one looks as though it is going to run for a while without that.

Are we on the brink of a new era perhaps?

BTW, it was Jim who suggested Fowler to me. Credit where it's due!


03 Feb 20 - 12:32 PM (#4031976)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"I would be happy to start a discussion of individual faked ballads as suggested by Jim,"
I'm sure you would Steve - seems tearing down the work of others is what you excel in
"Fake" implies that there was a rule book which suggests that the collectors deliberately set out to con the public
You know as well as I do that "improving the ballads aesthetically" was done with the best of intentions and that they were all at it to one degree or another
The importance of the ballads as part of a social study is very much a new kid on the block
Singers themselves not only probably made the ballads but were constantly improving them and altering then from stories into verse throughout their history
Some of the ballad plots date back as far as Boccacio, Chaucer, Homer and even Early Egypt
Broadside printers fairly obviously took ballads from whoever they could and adapted them to   
It's chasing rainbows to attempt to pin down most of the ballads to their origins, let alone seeking 'Ur' versions
What we know for certain , that in the mouths of the folk they became artistic creations which, at their best, challenged the best of high art
Only a churl with a class agenda would deny that fact
Jim Caarroll


03 Feb 20 - 01:10 PM (#4031977)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"I would be happy to start a discussion of individual faked ballads as suggested by Jim,"
You know as well as I do (or should) that the only thing we achieved by discussing individual folk sons was to force you drop your "starry-eyed naivete" line and accept that what you were claiming as fact was merely your personal and unsubstantiated (and unsbstantiatable) opinion, which is why I've never suggested a discussion on individual faked ballads
Sut discussions are bound to end in tears
Jim Carroll


03 Feb 20 - 01:13 PM (#4031980)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Lighter

> those special gifts for which a nation is renowned will usually be conspicious in its lower and unlettered classes" because they are "least affected by extraneous and educational influences".

Sounds like Sharp held the "lower and unlettered classes" in some admiration, possibly before he even began collecting.

Remember how thrilled he was by a chance encounter with the singing of John England - which started him on his new avocation.


03 Feb 20 - 01:43 PM (#4031986)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"In writing about Sharp Harker tends to use the word 'culture' where Sharp seems to have been thinking of something inherent."

Sharp regularly used the word 'race', but in context it often carried more of a sense of 'nation'. He certainly wrote of 'the English race' as distinct from, say, the German, so the kind of pan-European Aryan fantasy that is sometimes laid at Sharp's door is clearly not what he intended.

As for the remark about the racial inferiority of the 'negro' - the authenticity of which no-one is disputing - as Lighter commented earlier, this was "the nearly universal European intellectual assumption at the time." Sharp admitted at one point that until he visited the USA, the only black people he'd ever come across were touring blackface minstrels, with their gross parodies of African-American life. His ignorance on the subject was profound, but whether he deserves to be judged more harshly than others of his time with similar or worse opinions is something I'd question. Jim has quoted variou examples from the period, to which I could add some questionable utterances by Keir Hardie, and an attack on black sailors led by Manny Shinwell shortly before the Red Clydeside unrest in 1919. The sad fact is that during this period even socialists were quite capable of holding racist attitudes.


03 Feb 20 - 01:46 PM (#4031987)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"Sounds like Sharp held the "lower and unlettered classes" in some admiration, possibly before he even began collecting.
Remember how thrilled he was by a chance encounter with the singing of John England - which started him on his new avocation."


I agree enirely with the first sentence, and Sharp's admiration certainly shines through in his accounts of meeting singers of a different social status from himself.

The meeting with John England probably wasn't the 'chance event' of Sharpian mythology, though, as Derek Schofield's paper referenced above explains in some detail.


03 Feb 20 - 02:53 PM (#4031997)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Steve Re the post of 4.54 am

I know that Gummere was one of Child's students. Sorry I cannot see where you think I went wrong (though as usual glad to be corrected where wrong). Sharp does indeed quote Gummere in his theoretical bit on folk songs, and Harker does regard the view as social Darwinist.

I did give Jim credit where I felt it was due but Joe Offer deleted it.
    If you wish to re-post your message and omit the personal attacks, you are welcome to do so. You and Jim are both on a short leash until you decide to comply with our "no combat" rule.
    -Joe Offer-


03 Feb 20 - 02:54 PM (#4031998)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Sounds like Sharp held the "lower and unlettered classes" in some admiration, possibly before he even began collecting."
According to a fascinating long article I read on the Musical Traditions site, (can't remember the author - he had an Asian name) he held them in high respect
He did attribute 'instinct' rather than conscious creativity to their singing, but that's still a common misconception today (and has shown up on this forum)
I get the impression that a number of the collectors were quite taken aback at what they heard from the singers
I have to say that much of what we got from Travellers in the early days set us back on our heels
We had the luxury of working at our own pace rather than 'headhunt' in a "race with the undertaker" (as Tom Munnelly described it
WE were forced to taake the decision of working with each singer for as long as we thought there was songs and information to be had, so we cut our list of possibles from twenty to half a dozen within six weeks
We recorded sever singers for over a year - we were still recording Kery Traveller Mikeen Mccarthy thirty years after we first met him - and still getting fresh information
Jim Carroll


03 Feb 20 - 03:24 PM (#4032001)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

If you read Sharp he seems more and more 'social Darwinist'. After a brief description of Aboriginal music he states - using the word 'savage' in passing - that folk music represents a later stage in development. He gives a summary of some views on the origins of folk and then says (p10) he is largely indebted for what he has put to a book by Gummere.


03 Feb 20 - 03:40 PM (#4032004)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

@ Jack, yes, Harker does seem to have found the work of Ritson better than the work of some others.

"I agree with Jim that ‘Fakesong’ is not the place to go to find out about songs or singers.   Concluding the chapter on Child, we find: “About the lives, interest and culture of the people who made, re-made and used [these] songs, Child like his predecessors can tell us almost nothing.” But 'Fakesong' tells us almost nothing about them either, except as non-speaking, walk-on parts in a theoretical narrative."

While I can see where Brian is coming from, I don't think this is quite fair in terms of Harker accounts of what ordinary people were doing. For example, Harker mentions Chartism, which ordinary people were involved with. He takes a broad historical perspective. This really did exist; some of my (Lancs at the time) ancestors were signed up to it. But even if it were fair, Harker has not set out to write a book about songs or their singers. He set out to write a book about selected mediators. We might wish that he had set out to write a different sort of book, but he didn't.

For me, I think Sharp was probably racist and also that he uses the word 'race' in a broader sense to mean something like 'national'. See page 12.


03 Feb 20 - 03:49 PM (#4032008)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

Pseudo-Darwinian ("Whig") models of music history were the orthodoxy for art music in Sharp's lifetime. They weren't really discredited until the middle of the 20th century (Zuckerkandl's "Sound and Symbol" being the definitive hatchet job) and still haven't really died. Someone coming from art music background, as Sharp did, would be hard put to avoid the same crappy model when constructing a theoretical model of folk music.


03 Feb 20 - 04:48 PM (#4032015)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>>>Harker states that Child’s theory<<<<<<
What theory? I'm confused. How can Child have been influenced by Gummere?


03 Feb 20 - 04:49 PM (#4032016)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Sharp even seems to have believed that he could distinguish 'Celt' from 'Anglo Saxon' within Somerset by their accent, and that the two had different musical predilections. (see page 29). He is quite explicit about drawing on evolutionary theory here.

He distinguishes parts of Somerset and links differences he thinks he has found in music to differences he thinks exist on terms of Celt or Anglo Saxon. However, he has the grace to comment that this is highly speculative.


03 Feb 20 - 05:03 PM (#4032018)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>If these songs are fakes - discuss them and expose their fakery<<<<<
Both posted on the same day!


03 Feb 20 - 05:04 PM (#4032019)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>>I've never suggested a discussion on individual faked ballads<<<<


03 Feb 20 - 07:43 PM (#4032052)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Steve, thanks as usual! I finally caught up with you.

Here's a corrected opening to my post of 03 Feb 20 - 04:54 AM which summarises part of Harker's account of Sharp's theoretical work English Folk Song: Some Conclusions.

"Harker states that Sharp's theory was influenced by three main people: Sir Hubert Parry, Carl Engel, and Francis Barton Gummere."

Having gone back to Sharp's piece, it is my view that Harker is right here. Generally, his account of this work seems accurate, though he steers away from the music theory bits, which is where Sharp draws on Parry. I think it might be worth mentioning that this Sharp's work is a book about tunes: Sharp refers to words/lyrics from time to time, but his main focus is the tunes.

I think that Harker's account of Sharp's (confusing) distinction between the un-educated and the non-educated is accurate; indeed he quotes from it at length, possibly because it is such an odd theory that otherwise people might not credit it. Weirdly, Sharp asserts that his usage is 'scientific', a claim that the early US folklorists were fond of making but which strikes modern ears as odd.

Sharp uses 'the common people' to mean 'those whose mental development has been due not to any formal system of training or education, but solely to environment, communal association and direct contact with the ups and downs of life'. These he describes as 'non-educated' and he adds that they have never been in close enough contact with educated people to be influenced by them. He goes on to link this with the countryside, setting up a town/country dichotomy which explains his choices of smaller towns/villages for his collecting, rather than places like Bristol, Bath, Yeovil etc while stating that strictly speaking the actual distinction is between 'the spontaneous and intuitive exercise of untrained faculties' and the 'conscious and intentional use of faculties' that have been specially trained for the purpose.


04 Feb 20 - 02:59 AM (#4032078)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"If these songs are fakes - discuss them and expose their faker"
No steve - what you are proposing is a repeat performance of your "who wrote our folk songs" fiasco
I was not asking for a discussion - you have made an accusation - as the accuser, it is up to you to provide the fakes - as yet, you have refused to discuss these accusations in context of either the songs and singers
Until you do, you have no case - nothing to to with folk-song scholarship[ but simple logic and basic justice
Jim Carroll


04 Feb 20 - 04:14 AM (#4032096)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

I do think that that first page of Sharp's "Some conclusions", when you would expect an author to focus on something that he thought was important and clear in his mind, covers most of what has been quoted about his views in the recent posts.

Labels are handy amongst those who have the same unerstanding of what they mean. I jumped in above because I didn't think the way his 'racism' was being discussed was much of an aid to understanding.

I haven't looked up 'social Darwinist' but taking it in two halves fits with his introduction. One the one hand, as a socialist he could well have believed that most of what separated him from an English peasant was upbringing, education and opportunity. On the other hand he could have read Darwin's account of speciation in a group of small islands as allowing the folk music of different nearby nations to be be different because of inherent differences in their peoples.

I think he might have anticipated the baby of a French labourer adopted by an English labouring family to have a preference for French folk songs. That may seem absurd, but less so when we remember that some bird species look so similar that they are identfied in the field mainly by their song and that their are still relics of geographic variation in, say, hair colour in western Europe.


04 Feb 20 - 04:40 AM (#4032102)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

( Got a screen shot. It'll be good to look at after I've been seen to...)

@Jag, interesting post as usual. My understanding is that 'social Darwinist' means people applied Darwinian ideas of the survival of the fittest to cultures, this often happening along side more pseudo-biological Darwinism applied to what were termed 'races'. My understanding/belief is that the term 'race' has no sensible medical or biological function. For, me variation in hair colour (one or two genes) doesn't affect this. We are creatures of culture, debate the nature nurture mix but there you go.

The social Darwinist view would be at odds with Marxism which saw history as class struggle. It's a key emotive word for Harker I think, a bit like 'bourgeois' and tending to get annoying (but who am I to talk).

I really don't know much about Sharp apart from a few articles, Wiki and his own work. A lot of Victorians called themselves Socialists who were more like what we would call liberal today, certainly not clause 4 types. Maybe Sharp did a lot of philanthropy? I think he gave one of his informants a concertina (but does that pollute his results??)

There are difficult decisions relating to how far we let knowledge that some of our heroes believed and did things we now see as pernicious bother us. I feel racism/racialism is possibly worth pointing out and challenging.

I think some of Sharp's ideas are a little absurd. And a lot of them do sound like romantic imagination, as at one point Sharp himself more or less concedes.

Have a nice day all. May or may not see you later.


04 Feb 20 - 05:36 AM (#4032114)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Hi Pseudonymous. Thanks for that, which gives me more reason the be wary of labels. We have one here that has at least two possible meanings.

I was suggesting that on the basis of that first explanation in his book Sharp's usage is more this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(biology)

than this:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(human_categorization)

I think that it is easy to read "people applied Darwinian ideas of the survival of the fittest to cultures" as referring to competition between groups of people rather than a population changing its characteristics - adapting - with time due to survival of the fittest individuals.

I think simply labelling Sharp's comment on the negros as racist in the second sense above leaves us with the muddle of current usage. The first usage (which doesn't preclude the second) was important to him and to us in understanding his comments on things such as 'national music' and who he sought out to collect from.


04 Feb 20 - 05:44 AM (#4032116)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

'social Darwinist'
Id=s there any evidence that Sharp actively pursued any racial philososophy - none has been presented ?
It hasn't even been established that Sharp was an active socialist" just that y=they were his leanings
Had he been a card-carrying socialist his dominant philosophy would have been internationalism, humanitarianism and a desire for a fairer society for all
It has been suggested from the result of various national surveys that one third of today's British population hold racist view and have expressed them openly
Does that make them philosophical racists or do they just 'go with the flow' based on their upbringing, education and personal circumstances ?
All this philosophising is little more that knocking sdown straw men, unless facts are produced that prove otherwise
Jim Carroll


04 Feb 20 - 05:47 AM (#4032118)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

On Bearman (2000)

Bearman repeats Sharp’s ideas about folk and the ‘unlettered’. He says Lloyd recast this in terms of ‘class’ which became fashionable so that eg Vic Gammon and others did this. Lloyd read songs as worker protests when B thinks they weren’t. This recasting in terms of class meant people could argue that worker culture had been appropriated by the middle class (eg by Boyes) or even repressed (as in Gammon’s views on the reasons for the decline of gallery music in churches).

Beaman moves on to the concept of ‘peasantry’, another term used by Sharp (though as we have seen Sharp did not see the rural/urban as critical). Some people, B notes, objected to Sharp using the word. Beaman claims that usage not definitions should set the standard by which Sharp’s use of the term should be judged. You could dispute the defn that B goes with. B also thinks that ‘to some extent’ how people saw themselves is important as are the facts of people’s actual levels of education and the boundaries of their world. He says that on such matters sloganizing has replaced proper investigation. Sharp, he says, provides little information though he visited some Somerset informants multiple times.

Beaman therefore attempts a biographical survey of the 311 Somerset people he says Sharp interviewed. He uses various sources including Sharp himself, the 81 and 91 census reports and parish records. He claims to have identified 214 reasonably certainly, to have ages for 278 and occupations for 238 (including 90 married and single women). He finds they had a range of occupations, and concludes – put simply - that it was reasonable for Sharp to describe these people as ‘peasantry’, as even if not actual farmers or farm workers or shepherds etc their jobs were broadly rural and/or they were generally ‘rustic’.

Bearman claims that Harker misdefined people as peasants or not based on their residence, making incorrect distinctions between villages and towns and not realising that some agricultural workers lived in towns eg Somerton. One woman Harker called a town labourer’s wife was in fact wed to an agricultural worker.

Bearman goes on to challenge a view that Sharp’s informants were ‘working class’ by stating some would have been self-employed, others members of professions. This included some of Sharp’s best informants, Bearman says, citing Emma Glover, James Bishop and William Spearing. Higher social level informants included a farmer employing 14 people on his 630 acres. Some were members of the local council. Bearman says such a diverse group cannot be a ‘class’ as defined in a quotation from A L Lloyd he is using because they would not have had a common identity or interests. Moreover, he finds examples of social mobility in both directions.

Then Beaman goes on to discuss the ‘culture’ of these people. He wants to discover if it fits Sharp’s idea of the ‘unlettered’.

Drafted yesterday. Sorry if a bit long.


04 Feb 20 - 05:52 AM (#4032120)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

"Is there any evidence that Sharp actively pursued any racial philososophy" As I have explained, race (at least in the biological sense) is implicit in the first page of the Introduction of his 1907 book.

Which is here by the way

https://archive.org/details/englishfolksongs00shar/page/n6/mode/2up


04 Feb 20 - 06:01 AM (#4032123)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Jag

Thanks for the Sharp link. That is where I downloaded my copy from.

I think tensions relating to 'nationalism' and the ideals of 'folk' are complex, even without race, and it maybe, maybe, is healthy to look at the ups and downs of this from time to time. This is why when asked for my favourite folk song I give the multicultural version of Tam Lin with Ben Zephania. I'm trying in my own way to make a point.

Still considering some of your points.

Rather amazed anybody still talking to me. I broke Mr Moulden's rule again. Apols to anybody feeling caught in the cross fire.


04 Feb 20 - 06:03 AM (#4032124)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Zephaniah of course

xxxx


04 Feb 20 - 06:03 AM (#4032125)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Iv have that on the shelf Jag
I see no difference that Sharp's views conflict in any way with those dominant in Britain at the time
The Empire was built and survived on such views
I have always been aware of how those views affected his work in the United States, but it is beyond me to understand why they should impact on his recording English singers, which is basically what 'Fakesong' is about.
These people were of their time - Harker has treated them as right-wing extremists and has used that to place a question mark on our traditional song
As I said - 'straw men'
Jim


04 Feb 20 - 06:11 AM (#4032127)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

I haven't looked up 'social Darwinist' but taking it in two halves fits with his introduction. One the one hand, as a socialist he could well have believed that most of what separated him from an English peasant was upbringing, education and opportunity. On the other hand he could have read Darwin's account of speciation in a group of small islands as allowing the folk music of different nearby nations to be be different because of inherent differences in their peoples.

Social Darwinism was not invented by Darwin, but by Herbert Spencer. It doesn't come from Darwin's own work AT ALL.


The social Darwinist view would be at odds with Marxism which saw history as class struggle. It's a key emotive word for Harker I think, a bit like 'bourgeois' and tending to get annoying (but who am I to talk).

Marxism (and Harker's version of it in particular) does not take the attitude of dismissing people's assertions simply because they weren't Marxists. Harker has no problem with Sharp being what he was; he says it was only to be expected that someone with Sharp's background would hold racist and militarist attitudes regardless of his avowed socialism. What he objects to is the way he's been misrepresented since his time, by people who have an interest (maybe a career one) in shining by the light of a falsely deified figure. A Marxist position would say Sharp deserves better than to be caricatured in the cause of making somebody money 100 years down the line.


04 Feb 20 - 06:11 AM (#4032128)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I have read that social Darwinism sort of underpins aspects of US culture: this came up when we studied a novel by Theodore Dreiser, who ended up on the left. The idea of competition between individuals resulting in the best coming to the top is sometimes said to be part and parcel of the 'American Dream' national mythology/philosophy. But I'm not really an American Studies person and it didn't look very dreamy as Dreiser portrayed it.


04 Feb 20 - 06:12 AM (#4032129)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Jack is right about Spencer. Thanks, Jack.


04 Feb 20 - 06:45 AM (#4032135)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Thanks Jack Campin for the information. So 'social Darwinism' is not really relevant to Sharp setting out his approach.

However, I think Darwinism on its own is. He clearly thought that the nations of Europe were inherently different in such a way that nature, if not interfered with by nurture, could produce different national folk musics. He was writing at a time when the history books had stories of how the indo-european tribes had spread, with the dark-haired Celts of Wales, the red-haired Scots and the Scandinavian blonds having their places on the map.

I am not sure how much it matters that he was wrong so long as when reading him we understand that he thought that way.


04 Feb 20 - 06:48 AM (#4032136)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

And I think people did apply 'social Darwinist' type ideas to cultures. I think Harker is right to trace a lot of the interest in folk to European nations trying to set out and establish national identities. Take Germany, a case in point, we referred to Wagner earlier on, and this is where Child was educated, it had only been unified by Bismark late in the 19th century. We know from the reading Steve led us to that the same applied in Denmark. Sharp himself was especially interested in collecting tunes with a view to producing 'art music' based on them. He felt we lacked a national art music. He then wanted children in schools to be put through a graded set of instruction on folk so that in the future they would be able to produce national art music. It was the corny 'vulgar' (Sharp's word) nature of music hall songs he disliked as much as anything. He calls them the Sharpian slightly more technical version of 'three chord tricks'. I think 'snob' might be an apt word to describe his attitudes to what Harker would call working class culture. For Harker, the music of the music halls which Sharp denigrated was working class music and Harker felt that in denigrating it Sharp was denigrating working class culture and in editing it out the folklorists were misrepresenting it.

People (who shall be nameless) have demanded on this thread to know where the voice of the people is in Harker. For me this demonstrates potentially complete misunderstanding of Harker and his book. For that is precisely the point that Harker himself makes. It is fairly central to his point about 'mediation'. The voices of the people are absent from his accounts of Percy and Child and so on because they are absent from the work of Percy and Child - and from Sharp come to that! This is something that Harker complains about. I think Jack may be able to tell us whether in his own works Harker does provide the voice of the people. Certainly, when Lloyd sets out to imagine the 'psychology' of the labouring man throughout history, including him sitting writing by the light of candles which poor people could not afford, Harker accuses him of 'breathtaking arrogance'. Harker is quite good on Lloyd in places, he made me giggle once or twice, eg when he calls Lloyd 'witty' for referring to the Soviet bloc as 'democracies'.

Enough.


04 Feb 20 - 06:50 AM (#4032137)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ jag, just read your last post. Interesting and I'll ponder it. But not respond as I've said more than enough today.


04 Feb 20 - 07:14 AM (#4032139)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

Thanks Jack Campin for the information. So 'social Darwinism' is not really relevant to Sharp setting out his approach.

You are confused. Social Darwinism certainly is relevant. It's one of the strands in the racism that Sharp clearly expressed sometimes.


However, I think Darwinism on its own is.

No. Darwinism is about biology. Period.


He clearly thought that the nations of Europe were inherently different in such a way that nature, if not interfered with by nurture, could produce different national folk musics.

That wasn't really Social Darwinism either, it would have been straight racist ideology - if Sharp had ever signed up to anything that crude. I don't think he did, and neither did Grainger, who wrote much more about links between "race" (whatever meaning he gave it) and musical idiom.


He was writing at a time when the history books had stories of how the indo-european tribes had spread, with the dark-haired Celts of Wales, the red-haired Scots and the Scandinavian blonds having their places on the map.

That story has only been refined with time, not really discarded, and it gives no support to theories linking race and culture.


04 Feb 20 - 07:30 AM (#4032142)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

"it would have been straight racist ideology - if Sharp had ever signed up to anything that crude. I don't think he did"

Have a look at first page of chapter 1 of "English Folk Song: Some Conclusions"

If you don't trust GUEST clickies here it is: https://archive.org/details/englishfolksongs00shar/page/n21/mode/2up


04 Feb 20 - 07:35 AM (#4032143)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

https://archive.org/details/englishfolksongs00shar/page/n22/mode/1up

https://archive.org/details/englishfolksongs00shar/page/n22/mode/1up


04 Feb 20 - 07:38 AM (#4032144)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

Try again - single page easier to read

https://archive.org/details/englishfolksongs00shar/page/n22/mode/1up


04 Feb 20 - 07:54 AM (#4032145)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

If people don't trust blue clickies they can always google for Sharp, folksong, some conclusions, which is how I found it. The archive.org site has a lot of folklore related texts, including various Child publications. I thought of dipping into some of the Sharp song books to see what the harmonisations were like.

The text I would like to read relatively soon, but cannot afford or access is the later piece by Harker responding to Bearman. I can find bits of it, but not the whole thing. Does anybody know whether there is an open access version of it?


04 Feb 20 - 07:57 AM (#4032146)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

I don't see anything in "Some Conclusions" to imply that differences in the complexity of folksongs are due to innate differences in human nature. Sharp underestimated the sophistication and level of material development of Aboriginal culture, as did almost all whites until recent times: if you think people are leading an existence of early-Palaeolithic unsophistication, that alone would give you the idea that they had music to match.

The attitude Sharp expresses has been just as repressive, though. If you think Aboriginal culture is so backward it can't produce anything of great sophistication, the obvious fix is to eradicate that culture. Which is what the forced resettlement and adoption schemes of the 20th century tried to do; the underlying assumption was that Aboriginal human nature was fine if you just brought them up white. Subtle (cultural) racism ended up being even more destructive than crude (physiological) racism.


04 Feb 20 - 08:11 AM (#4032148)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

"I don't see anything in "Some Conclusions" to imply that differences in the complexity of folksongs are due to innate differences in human nature."

Where does complexity come into it? He was saying it would have a different character. Like birds in one place instinctively singing their own song and slighlty different birds from somewhere else instinctively singing another.


04 Feb 20 - 08:21 AM (#4032150)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

(Which is not to says that bird songs are always entirely instinctive)


04 Feb 20 - 08:22 AM (#4032151)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

The voice of the people is most certainly not absent from Child - many of the versions he gives are taken directly from oral sources - his sole efforts as a collector was to take a version of the Cruel Mother from his housekeeper
His Irish informant was reporting songs from her native County Meath
Motherwell not only took songs from 'the people' but warned in his 'Minstrelsy' against tampering with their beautiful language ((quoted in 'Some Conclusion'
The Buchan dispute revolves around whether Rankin's versions were from 'the people'
The fact that these pioneers chose the term 'folk' to identify their songs automatically attributes what they collected to the singers they took them from
No wonder some people (who shall be nameless) refuse to introduce the songs and singers into this discussion if their lack of understanding fails to recognise these basic facts
Jim Carroll


04 Feb 20 - 08:49 AM (#4032157)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"However, as this discussion appears to be lacking the same two most important features as did ‘Fakesong’, perhaps it is worth mentioning them here …

As with Harker, there has been no attempt to examine ‘the forgeries’ in question …

The second stunning omission has been the singers themselves – no reference to them in the book and the only ones here has been to present the most respected family of source singers in England as self-promoting showmen. The main evidence we have of the cultural importance of folk song lies in the songs themselves and how they were regarded by the singers and communities they served – without them all that is left is personal opinion and (not very well-informed) guesswork"

This is what I meant by 'the voices of the people'.


04 Feb 20 - 08:57 AM (#4032160)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

The main evidence we have of the cultural importance of folk song lies in the songs themselves and how they were regarded by the singers and communities they served

Harker had already dealt with that in his previous book. Not just for folk songs, either.


04 Feb 20 - 09:05 AM (#4032162)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>>I've never suggested a discussion on individual faked ballads<<<<


04 Feb 20 - 09:07 AM (#4032163)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"This is what I meant by 'the voices of the people'."
How have "the voices of the people" been misrepresented - which is Harker's main case ?
How are they "absent from Child ?
The Ballads gathered together by Child were largely taken from the people
It is quite likely that even the broadside versions he included started their lives as examples of 'voices of the people'
Harker challenges that, leaving 'the people' he claims to respect via his politics, 'voiceless non-creators'

As far as Child's instinctive' approach - that blinkered view has never departed from the folk scene
Child and his collegues can be forgiven for that - pioneers make mistakes, but we now have enough information to know it is grossly inaccurate
Walter Pardon most certainly not unique in understanding and interpreting his songs, for instance - it was almost certainly widespread in healthy traditions
Jim Carroll


04 Feb 20 - 09:08 AM (#4032165)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

no reference to them in the book and the only ones here has been to present the most respected family of source singers in England as self-promoting showmen.
... and the only person to describe them thus and to subscribe to this suggestion is the person who made this post and presents as a fact rather than an isolated opinion.


04 Feb 20 - 09:08 AM (#4032166)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

The rest of us all knew what you meant, Pseu.


04 Feb 20 - 09:17 AM (#4032168)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>The Buchan dispute revolves around whether Rankin's versions were from 'the people'<<<<<<< More ill-informed guff.

Jamie Rankin was Buchan's fall guy, his fall-back when he was inevitably going to be accused of fabrication. We have witness testimony by someone
who knew Jamie that he did not have the wit to make a coherent ballad. Even Buchan's greatest apologist and biographer, William Walker, admitted that Peter 'eked out his ballads'. Child was well aware of this without having even read the biography. He did correspond with Walker who was assisting him. Walker never once complained that Child was treating peter unfairly, but as soon as Child died Walker went on a massive offensive culminating in 'Late Leaves' published by his puppet, Alexander Keith.


04 Feb 20 - 09:21 AM (#4032169)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

What I would suggest since the topic of Motherwell has been raised, in what appears to be a fairly random sound bite, as opposed to serving as part of a reasoned and relevant point, is that Jim goes back to his copy of Harker.

He will see that Harker refers extensively to Motherwell (1927) and also to several books about Motherwell as well as a number of academic studies of Motherwell. Page references within Harker for mentions of Motherwell include P39, p55, p56, 57, 66, 67, 70, 72, 74, 75, and 77.

We have already discussed Harker on Motherwell. If you wish to discuss this further, then I suggest that you read what Harker has to say about Motherwell, and provide us all with, say, a one screen summary of his main points.

Then we might be in a position to discuss what Harker says about Motherwell. Because beginner though I may be, I have read Harker recently and - this might just be me - I am beginning to think you might (no disrespect intended) not quite have the detail clear in your mind. What makes me say that is the point you just made about Motherwell, as if defending him against Harker.

Thank you for reading.


04 Feb 20 - 09:57 AM (#4032181)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Okay, Motherwell.
I first of all must recommend Mary Ellen Brown's books on Motherwell and on Walker's correspondence with Child. Most of us Brits, particularly the English ones are at a massive disadvantage here, as academic Scots can have access to what is left at Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Kirkudbright, and those N American's in the north east can have access to Child's library where most of the manuscripts and correspondence ended up. However, Mary Ellen does a splendid unbiased job of publishing and critiquing what is available there. Most relevant here is 'William Motherwell's Cultural Politics' 2001, University Press of Kentucky. Most enlightening and not just on Motherwell; some of the other editors get a mention also, as he was regularly corresponding with the likes of Buchan. Indeed the likes of Charles Sharpe and David Laing (or was it Alexander?) were passing back and forth as ballad brokers between the editors, no doubt adding to the editing themselves, in fact in Buchan's case their editing is undeniable if minimal.

What I'm not fully clear on at the moment and would like help with is, was the actual famous Motherwell essay a part of the original 1827 book or was it first published in a later edition like mine (1873)?


04 Feb 20 - 10:15 AM (#4032188)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>>I've read Harker and I rejected it at the time as did the majority at the time<<<<<<.

No they didn't. Those that understood it criticised the inaccuracies and the approach and the political bias, but those who had any knowledge of the subject took from it what it offered, a critique of those who strove to manipulate what was being promoted as 'folk'. Those of us who had already done detailed research into the subject ourselves were able to pick out the acceptable, reasonable and sometimes already well-known facts and opinions.


04 Feb 20 - 10:20 AM (#4032190)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

My first reading of Fakesong filled me with dismay, as I knew what the general reaction would be amongst the old guard. This was a massive negative obviously, but a lesser positive was that it put the subject firmly back on the table, as it had been swept under the carpet for a number of years, which is partly why it came as such a shock to many.


04 Feb 20 - 10:23 AM (#4032192)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Pseu,
I'm a little worried at your light-hearted approach to censure. There's a lot of very good discussion on this thread and 'twould be a great pity to have it curtail'd methinks!


04 Feb 20 - 10:26 AM (#4032195)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

On Motherwell, I have a string of emails from the late Bruce Olson where he was trying to work out how trustworthy Motherwell was by going further back, and finally giving up in exasperation, concluding that Motherwell was a total waste of space and had nothing at all you couldn't get more reliably from others. Bruce had put a LOT of effort in before getting to that point.


04 Feb 20 - 10:35 AM (#4032197)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Wow, Jack!
Please tell us more. Start a new thread if necessary. I'm drooling. Bruce on Motherwell!

One thing we need to remember when discussing these earlier Scottish collectors, even the later ones actually (Greig) relied heavily on others sending them material, and even paid others to go out and collect for them. For instance Motherwell had Crawfurd who was paid, and in turn Crawfurd paid McQueen whose own family sang ballads. I think it was McQueen (I could easily check) who was known to take English versions and Scottify them. (No, I need to be clearer here, he was known to take versions in Standard English that he'd collected in the area and Scottify them).


04 Feb 20 - 11:04 AM (#4032203)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

OMG, this thread is moving so fast. I look forward to hearing more about Motherwell, but I'm afraid I'm still stuck on Sharp.

'jag' wrote:
"So 'social Darwinism' is not really relevant to Sharp setting out his approach. However, I think Darwinism on its own is...
I am not sure how much it matters that he was wrong so long as when reading him we understand that he thought that way."


That is bang on. Sharp described three principles of 'Continuity', 'Variation' and 'Selection' in folk song, and the way in which the last of those was said to operate was clearly Darwinian. The selection idea is pretty weak, though, excedt in the sense that a particular song might have proved popular or been discarded; at the level of the song melody I don’t see much evidence of progression towards a more advanced or successful form, more a series of individual variations and in some cases descent into incoherence. As the post says, Sharp was indeed wrong on many things, but that doesn’t mean he should be trashed or misrepresented.

As for ‘Social Darwinism’, while it may well have contributed to the racial theories of the day, Sharp was certainly not a believer in Herbert Spencer’s ideas about laissez-faire capitalism, which he abhorred. He was a socialist, a member of the Fabian Society for the entirety of his song collecting days, and moved from support for the Liberal Party to Labour, despite a general distrust of party politics. He was a follower of William Morris, although more in sympathy with Morris’s dislike of modernity and industrialization than with his revolutionary ideas. Sharp was a 'moderate', and as such attracted the scorn of Harker - what James Porter has called "the traditional contempt of revolutionary socialists to gradualism" (see my link on Jan 15, 07.52). To describe Sharp as ‘hard right’ as Harker does, is wholly inaccurate and, for those who enjoy the term, ‘biased’.


04 Feb 20 - 11:13 AM (#4032205)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

I must take issue with Jack Campin's acceptance of Harker's claim (in 'Fakesong's' predecessor) that: “he isn't attacking Sharp himself, but the followers who refused to examine where he was coming from.“

This is highly disingenuous, at least where 'Fakesong' iself is concerned. Harker has indeed claimed that he was merely redressing the balance, away from the pre-existing adulation of Sharp by Maud Karpeles and other followers, and in the sense that there was a bubble that needed to be pricked, he might have a point. However, it can't be argued that that he doesn’t attack Sharp personally. What is “culturally exploitative and reactionary”, if not an attack? The book is unable to provide even the most banal snippets of biographical detail without resort to subtly loaded terms:

“Sharp was acknowledged to be a 'Freethinker' and a 'Radical', but distinctly lightweight.”

he took care to ingratiate himself with the music-loving members of the expatriate English and German bourgeoisie”

“He pestered Schott to publish his sonatas”

And here is one of my favourites – note the contents of the two bracketed sections:
“He rowed keenly in the second boat (for which there was little competition), took lodgings out of college in Tennis Court Road so as to be able to make as much noise with his piano as he wished, and became Secretary of the College Debating Society (at the third attempt)

That is not impartial reportage.

Harker consistently selects and edits quote that might cast Sharp in a poor light, while ignoring anything that might be construed favourably. For instance, of Sharp and Karpeles in Virginia: “They ‘went to see an old coloured woman’, but she sang only ‘one good tune’...”

Here’s what Sharp actually wrote about Aunt Maria Tombs (Harker doesn’t dignify her with a name):

[MS Fair copy, 22/05/1918] “ Aunt Maria is an old coloured woman, aged 85, who was a slave belonging to Mrs Coleman who freed her after the war and gave her the log cabin in which she now lives, which used to be the overseer's home. I found her sitting in front of the cabin smoking a pipe. We sang (to) her 'The Sinner Man', which delighted her beyond anything and made her dub me 'A soldier of Christ'. She sang very beautifully in a wonderfully musical way and with clear and perfect intonation.”

To me, that reads like a convivial meeting with an African-American woman that Sharp respected as a singer, and doesn’t square at all with the picture of the stuck-up English racist. But you wouldn’t get any sense of that from Harker. Believe me, there are many more examples.


04 Feb 20 - 11:14 AM (#4032206)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"old guard." is a term that filled Stalin's gulags - it has no place in these discussions
The present desk-jockey crowd are a tiny minority of those still interested in folksong - they appear to removed both songs and singers from the equation and are pushing it forward as an academic subject with no social or cultural significance
The only mention sources singers have been given in this discussion is to denigrate and misrepresent them
They appear to have become naive figures of fun fit only to poke fun at
Harker was rejected my the mainstream at the time
He came to the subject without fore-knowledge and he ignored the help he had been generously given
I was present on two occasions when he admitted he no longer wished to speak publicly because of the hoostil reception his book had received - in Sheffield and at the MacColl Symposium in London - I was a speaker at both

"Jim, what the hell."
Dodging the point again - it's become predictable
I have never come across anybody as sunfamiliar as you are of folksong who has attempted to dominate discussions on it - right back to the days when you tried to show that elderly Irish farmers were getting their songs from American blues records
I seriously suggest that you go off and find a source where you can listen to folk song as performed by experts such as Sam Larner, Harry Cox, Cecilia Costello.... and only then come back and start again
Jim Carroll


04 Feb 20 - 12:14 PM (#4032216)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Sigh. "Old guard". I looked it up just to be sure. It means what I thought it meant and so I understand what Steve Gardham meant by it.


04 Feb 20 - 12:22 PM (#4032217)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,HiLo

I have been following this thread and have really enjoyed it. I do apprteciate the approach taken by "the desk jockey crowd". However, the "serial resigner appears and turns it into social warfare. He clearly has not read the other participants posts very carefully or he would not be so dismissive of their opinions. Still, I have learned a lot and I hope the discussion can continue without the usual rot setting in.


04 Feb 20 - 12:28 PM (#4032219)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

This is a comment proceeding an article by Harker in 1972 reproduced in the Bluegrass Messenger
Leslie Shepherd's letter at the end is of particular interest, though I suppose he merits the description "old guard" along with the rest of us

" There you have it, "folk song" as mediated by Cecil Sharp, to be used as "raw material" or "instrument", being extracted from a tiny fraction of the rural proletariat and to be imposed upon town and country alike for the people's own good, not in its original form, but, suitably integrated into the Conservatoire curriculum, made the basis of nationalistic sentiments and bourgeois values. [Harker's over-the-top summation- last paragraph]"
FULL ARTICLE HERE


"so I understand what Steve Gardham meant by it."
Me too
"the original or long-standing members of a group, regarded as unwilling to accept change or new ideas."
This has been how Steve has presented his theories from day one - if we're nor inflexible then we must be "starry-eyed and naive" (direct quote from earlier argument)
Jim Carroll


04 Feb 20 - 12:45 PM (#4032222)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Brian's comments above and the diary quotations about Sharp meeting Aunt Maria Coombes rang a bell with me and sent me back to the place where I first read them in the introduction to Dear Companion the 2004 book of a selection of songs collected by Sharp in the Appalachians.
The long introductory essay by Mike Yates has many long quotations from the diaries and help to form a well-balanced picture of the way that Sharp presented himself to his informants. He was in bad health throughout these trips and sometimes grumpy as a result but there are also quotations about delighted he was to meet them and to collect and learn from them, even if many of his opinions now seem at odds with modern thinking. I think that the final paragraph is worth quoting in full here:-
Sharp's Appalachian collection is probably his greatest single achievement and he was only able to form it because of his ability to relate so well to the mountain people, to relax in their company, and to put them at their ease. When in 1918 he bid farewell to Mr and Mrs Gibson, singers from Marion, North Carolina, Mrs Gibson told him: 'we like you both - you are so nice and common.' According to Maud Karpeles, Sharp believed this to be the finest compliment that he had ever received; Clearly, Cecil Sharp had a complex personality. Like most of us, he could be angry and upset when things were not going his way. But to the singers he was something special. And only a special person, one with the common touch, could have achieved so much. Instead of finding fault with him, why don't we give praise instead? Without his sincerity, integrity, and determination, this collection would never have been made, and the world would be a poorer place without it.

Sharp's 'common touch' with his singers reminds me of Bob Copper being told by one of the singers that he collected from when working for the BBC in the 1950's that "I'm glad that you turned out to be a man of no consequence, Bob!". It also brought back to mind Bob's account of one of his visits to one of the great singers he collected from, Enos White in Songs & Southern Breezes:-
I always met such kindness at Crown Cottage that I seldom left there empty-handed. The fuchsia, a cake—'specially baked be mother this arfnoon'—a couple of fresh-cut cabbages or a few eggs from the little hen-house at the end of the garden, there was always something waiting for me as I got up to leave. But the most valued treasures I brought away with me were Enos' songs and the memories of the pleasant and inspiring times I had spent in his company. Our friendship was spontaneous and sincere. I don't think I ever tried to put into words my feeling for Enos but if I had how could I possibly have matched his sincerity and eloquence, 'I likes you, Bob. You're sech a happy man. I wish you'd come round y'ere and bide along o' we.' Had Enos the gift of second sight? His wish was to become very close to being granted.

Finally on Sharp, one thing that Brian and I have discussed on a number of occasions is what a brilliant photographer Sharp was and how he manages to catch so much of his subject whether it is the singers and other mountain people or the scenes that capture so vividly a vanished way of life.


04 Feb 20 - 12:56 PM (#4032224)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

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


04 Feb 20 - 01:16 PM (#4032226)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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


04 Feb 20 - 01:26 PM (#4032228)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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


04 Feb 20 - 01:28 PM (#4032231)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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


04 Feb 20 - 01:33 PM (#4032233)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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


04 Feb 20 - 02:29 PM (#4032244)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

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

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


04 Feb 20 - 02:56 PM (#4032250)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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


04 Feb 20 - 04:02 PM (#4032261)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

VWML seems to be back with anew colour scheme.


04 Feb 20 - 05:16 PM (#4032267)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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

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

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


04 Feb 20 - 05:30 PM (#4032269)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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


04 Feb 20 - 05:44 PM (#4032271)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

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


04 Feb 20 - 07:43 PM (#4032278)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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

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

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 03:15 AM (#4032296)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish

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


05 Feb 20 - 04:37 AM (#4032304)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 05:24 AM (#4032312)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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


05 Feb 20 - 05:31 AM (#4032314)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

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

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

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

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

Happily of course it's not usually like that.


05 Feb 20 - 05:57 AM (#4032316)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Jim Carroll.

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

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

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

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 07:28 AM (#4032328)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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


05 Feb 20 - 07:37 AM (#4032330)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 09:02 AM (#4032341)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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

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

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

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

Any takers at £0.53?


05 Feb 20 - 09:24 AM (#4032343)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

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

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 10:21 AM (#4032348)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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


05 Feb 20 - 10:23 AM (#4032349)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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

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

Sorry the guest at 4.37 was me.


05 Feb 20 - 10:42 AM (#4032354)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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

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

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

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 10:57 AM (#4032357)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

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

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

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

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


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


05 Feb 20 - 11:23 AM (#4032360)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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


05 Feb 20 - 11:26 AM (#4032361)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

Why is "cultural appropriation" a bad thing?

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

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

Or am I missing something?


05 Feb 20 - 11:51 AM (#4032364)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

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

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

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 12:04 PM (#4032365)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

Possibly you mean Holinshed.

Gibbon wasn't born till 1737.


05 Feb 20 - 12:10 PM (#4032366)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Pseudonymous. The 'nationalistic' bit


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

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

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

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 12:13 PM (#4032367)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

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


05 Feb 20 - 12:15 PM (#4032368)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

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

(I did spell-check that post though)


05 Feb 20 - 12:37 PM (#4032374)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

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


05 Feb 20 - 01:04 PM (#4032384)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

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

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 01:14 PM (#4032385)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

I think this

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 01:29 PM (#4032387)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 01:50 PM (#4032393)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Jack,

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

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 01:57 PM (#4032396)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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

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

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 02:10 PM (#4032398)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Lighter; anybody:

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

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

But I wondered:

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

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

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

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

Just in case anybody has time/inclination to answer.

Thanks


05 Feb 20 - 02:31 PM (#4032402)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

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

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 02:48 PM (#4032406)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Jack

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

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

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

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 02:55 PM (#4032407)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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


05 Feb 20 - 05:45 PM (#4032445)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

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

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 06:03 PM (#4032447)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

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


05 Feb 20 - 06:24 PM (#4032451)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 07:13 PM (#4032455)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Thanks Lighter. Appreciated. Both of them?

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

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 07:38 PM (#4032457)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

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

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

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

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

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

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


05 Feb 20 - 07:52 PM (#4032460)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

publishers of songs who published material with false claims …

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

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


06 Feb 20 - 03:24 AM (#4032479)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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

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

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

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


06 Feb 20 - 03:27 AM (#4032480)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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


06 Feb 20 - 06:06 AM (#4032500)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

That post made at 7.38PM might have made sense if GUEST had indicated which text was quotation, and how many levels deep (I think there are at least two levels).

Without quotation labelling it just looks like you're repeating or contradicting yourself. I can't get anything out of that post.


06 Feb 20 - 07:45 AM (#4032508)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

Pseud, is the word "polygenetic"?

Polygenesis means independent origins at different times from more than one source.

An unanswered question in linguistics is whether human language is polygenetic or monogenetic


06 Feb 20 - 07:47 AM (#4032509)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Jack

Thanks for your feedback and comment. I had hoped the 7.52 correction made it clear that I was the author of the 7.38 post. I apologise for not being clear. I’ll try to be brief in re-stating my point.
I knew in general terms about cases of ‘tinkerings’ being passed off as originals/authentic before I read Harker. Some cases e.g. Bishop Percy are notorious. Child himself knew about the problem, as Steve Gardham has patiently pointed out several times on this thread. Harker isn’t, as far as I can see, saying anything new here.
Nor do I see any point in rehearsing these examples on this thread when they have been discussed elsewhere on Mudcat, with those of Lloyd being a prime example.

My own belief is that most of those posting here are aware of those examples, and of Child’s awareness of those examples. I include Jim Carroll in this.

My own view is that Nick Dow was right when he commented, on the problem with fakes generally, ‘The best that can be achieved is pointing out alterations and deceptions and giving the reader a choice.’

I will also explain once again that Harker’s book is not only about these examples of tinkering, or even perhaps mainly about them. I'm not sure that everybody has quite taken this point on board, and agree with Brian that the title doesn't help. I would of course be happy to hear about any specific examples where Harker falsely states that it took place when it did not. My intention here is not to defend Harker, though as I said before, it seems reasonable to try and get straight what he does and does not say, rather than attack him on the basis of stuff he did not say.

At 7.38 I was responding to a reasonable comment made by Steve Gardham a few moments earlier. Steve game the same quotation, so I suppose I guessed people that would know where it came from. This section seems to have stemmed from a reasonable comment made by Jag at 5.57 suggesting something to the effect that there appears to be some lack of clarity about what sort of modifications can be made to old songs and when. (please refer to Jag’s post for the original in context).
The context was, therefore, a discussion that fully accepted that some people modified songs.

Here it is again:

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

Looking at it again, perhaps what it means is that some or many early collectors have been falsely accused of ‘fakery and dishonesty’. (it says ‘think it to be’ rather than ‘think it would be’) But I read it in the context as a comment on the work of Harker and as a response to Steve’s patient provision of well-known examples, especially in the light of repeated demands made to Steve to discuss examples.

Sorry for being unclear. And thank you for the polite rejoinder.


06 Feb 20 - 07:51 AM (#4032511)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Lighter
Thanks a million. You know, I'm not sure it was 'polygenetic', so maybe there is more than one such term but that one will do very nicely. Much appreciated. Repeats to self 'polygenetic', 'polygenetic'....


06 Feb 20 - 07:57 AM (#4032512)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Reading back up this thread, as I do from time to time, I came across a post including the term 'desk jockey' and felt, rightly or wrongly that it referred to me and was intended to be pejorative. People can draw what conclusions they like, of course.

I will just say that we have had our version of a trad ballad 'collected' and that some of our arrangements have been copied. I don't mind people copying the arrangements except when they do our 'version' before we get a chance to and even then no big deal.


06 Feb 20 - 08:14 AM (#4032515)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Ah, Jim's latest post *seems^ to clarify what he meant: he seems to be doing what I thought: defending the early collectors whose tinkering has been discussed.

It was in no way dishonest to adapt songs in order to 'improve' them before it even drealised that these songs had a social importance

Perhaps Jim could clarify the date at which he thinks it was first 'realised' that the songs in question had a social importance?

I'm sure Jim is an expert on pissing in the wind. (I'll get me coat as Steve Shaw would say)


06 Feb 20 - 10:05 AM (#4032534)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>>If these songs are fakes - discuss them and expose their fakery<<<<
>>>>>>I've never suggested a discussion on individual faked ballads<<<< Jim on same day at 1.10 p.m.

I'm very happy to discuss individual ballads or whole collections, once we've had an explanation for the apparent contradiction between these 2 statements and a decision one way or the other.

Perhaps we could start with Professor Child's evidence/opinions, or Joseph Ritson's, or some bits from Fowler, or my own researches into Buchan, or Mary Ellen Brown's findings, or my own researches on Baring Gould. Where shall we start? Oops, left out Scott!


06 Feb 20 - 11:03 AM (#4032541)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Dave Hanson

Is this the right room for an argument ?

Dave H


06 Feb 20 - 11:18 AM (#4032546)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

The sort of thing Jim could post would be stuff scattered on Mudcat but valuable and interesting including lecture notes, transcriptions of interviews, lists of material he and Pat have collected available and where, a list of his published journal and magazine articles, perhaps a brief chronology of his involvement with folk, positions held, etc etc.

Dave H you're not the Messiah ….


06 Feb 20 - 11:20 AM (#4032548)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

No, this room is for contradictions. Next door you will find arguments and discussions is in a different building.

You will have to be British and a certain age to understand what Dave and I are on about


06 Feb 20 - 11:23 AM (#4032550)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Dave H you're not the Messiah ….

No, he's a very naughty boy (and not the only one here!)


06 Feb 20 - 11:55 AM (#4032560)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"I'm very happy to discuss individual ballads or whole collections,"
You start by producing the evidence that they have been deliberately faked first Steve
Apart from Harkers claims, what do you have on that
I have told you why I believe there were no rules to what you did with songs that were collected why back - tell me why that was not the case
We have always known songs were edited for publication right up to Frank Purslow's doctoring an important body of songs in order to publish them in four little books
Did he do that for greed, because he was a con-man or because he was a "starry-eyed naivete" ?
I have no argument with the fact that they were changed - it's the unpleasant implications
You have involved giants like Child in your accusations - produce your evidence


06 Feb 20 - 12:00 PM (#4032562)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

"they were song collectors gathering songs they thought worth singing, not social historians." (Jim Carrol)

I think that's a really important point.


06 Feb 20 - 12:57 PM (#4032571)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

It's not true that the early collectors/anthologists of folksong were practical musicians interested in singable material. Essentially none of them were, either in the British Isles or in mainland Europe. They were mostly antiquarians documenting local culture, or in some cases landlords documenting their tenants' music in much the same way they went about cataloguing the monuments on their land or measuring crop yields. The competitive incentives to "improve" your local song harvest by cheating were much like those of a Stalinist farm manager weighing spuds.

Scott did an effective job as consultant-antiquarian-for-hire to the Scottish gentry, but was totally tone-deaf and couldn't have any useful opinion about practical singability. Any sightings of Percy leading a pub singalong?


06 Feb 20 - 01:15 PM (#4032575)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Jack: amusing post!

And I was just wondering whether some framework other than copyright or 'rules to what you did with songs' might or ought to have guided Biship Percy towards a full and honest account of the provenance of his stuff. One that came in some time before an awareness that ballads were socially important!


06 Feb 20 - 01:19 PM (#4032577)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Perhaps Jim could clarify the date at which he thinks it was first 'realised' that the songs in question had a social importance?"
It still hasn't dawned on some people, who consider it no different from any other form of 'entertaining' pop music
In fact, folk song's uniqueness is based on the history which brought many of the songs into existence
Delighted that some of the bickering has been deleted but it was unnecessary to remove
THIS
or
THIS
Social History and enjoyment all rolled into one
Dig out the songs dealing with Land Disputes or the Broken Token songs or those about the Camp Followers or arranged marriages......
All history in the raw
Jim Carroll


06 Feb 20 - 01:24 PM (#4032580)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"The competitive incentives to "improve" your local song harvest by cheating were much like those of a Stalinist farm manager weighing spuds."


Wasn't a lot of it aesthetic? Poets believing they could improve on the raw material?


06 Feb 20 - 01:29 PM (#4032584)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

"They were mostly antiquarians documenting local culture" Contemporary culture or, for want of a better word 'folklore' (I have seen the term 'historical gleanings' in such people's writings)?

I read Jim's point as being that they were not intending to document the society that the singers lived in.


06 Feb 20 - 01:54 PM (#4032593)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

I agree with Steve G that this thread is shooting off at all kinds of tangents, and that we could probably do with discussing some of the issues separately, but I've no intention of starting a thread about Cecil Sharp any time soon, and there was something concerning Sharp that I wanted to go back to.

Steve suggested earlier that Sharp, although sound in many respects, was guilty of a "misrepresentation of how the material was created and evolved", contrasting CS's approach with that of Baring-Gould in 'Songs of the West', and Kidson in 'Traditional Tunes', and stating that TT "shows a good knowledge of the relationship between print and oral tradition and indeed popular song." Steve also thinks that Sharp must have known about the large collections of street literature in the Bodleian and elsewhere.

I've had a look at the song notes to Sharp's '100 English Folk Songs' (published 1916) and, like B-G and FK before him, he adopts the practice of listing as many examples of the same song type as he can, drawing on Percy, Ramsay, the other Scots collectors, Child, and the Folk Song Journal. He also specifically mentions examples from print for nearly a third of the songs, referring to Roxburghe, broadsides from Such, Catnach etc, and garlands. So it seems to me that Sharp did know quite a bit about street literature, and wasn't afraid to highlight examples when he knew about them. In fact, he makes much play in 'Some Conclusions' of his observation that Henry Larcombe had sung him 'Robin Hood and the Tanner' with a text "almost word for word the same as the corresponding stanzas of a much longer black-letter broadside, preserved in the Bodleian Library."

Sharp devotes three paragraphs of his chapter on ‘Folk-Poetry’ in ‘Some Conclusions’ to the relationship of broadsides to folk songs, explaining the long history of the trade, the role of ballad-sellers in disseminating the songs, and the existence of known ballad authors such as Martin Parker. Of course he also believed that broadsides were derived ultimately from oral tradition, and had become corrupted in the editing process (although he conceded that some broadsides contained uncorrupted text), and many of us will disagree with him there. His views on the origin of the folk song were hazy - he preferred to present both sides of the 'authored vs communal' debate, and resorted ultimately to the get-out clause that the important thing wasn't the origin but the process.

He also wrote: “We must remember also that the folk-singer would often learn modern and very indifferent sets of words from the broadside, and sing them to old tunes, after the manner of the execution songs...”

Again it seems to me that Sharp was quite prepared to discuss the relationship of print to folk song, and his belief that broadsides represented corrupt copies of songs developed by oral tradition is no different from that of Baring-Gould, who thought initially that the texts had originated on broadsides (and were therefore of little significance) but then came round to the alternative view, even before he met Sharp. Kidson, as far as I can see in TT, offers no theory about the origin of 'folk' songs - but do correct me if I'm wrong, Steve.

I don’t see a significant difference between Sharp’s published views on the role of print and those of Baring-Gould and Kidson.


06 Feb 20 - 02:14 PM (#4032604)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

And, since we are supposed to be dicsussing 'Fakesong', here is Harker's take on Sharp's attitude:

"No consideration is given to the idea that it was [...] the broadside[s] which were the essential elements of cultural continuity and dissemination. Professionalism and commercial song-culture were, evidently, to be discounted."

This is pretty close to the exact opposite of what Sharp wrote in he passage I've described.


06 Feb 20 - 03:11 PM (#4032615)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"I read Jim's point as being that they were not intending to document the society that the singers lived in."
I meant exactly that Jag
Jack is right that they were antiquarians, but rather than put what they collected into a social context they treated them as curious artifacts
I have numerous books of examples of these - Timbs, Tooms, Chambers, Hone. 'Notes and Queries', the Gentleman's Magazine.... fascinating stuff to dip into for hours on end and packed full of useful information, but with no overall objective

I think the earliest publication of this sort we have that includes songs is the four bound volumes of 'The Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore and Legend (1888- 1891 which has columns of ballads and songs (with tunes) submitted by Stokoe and Reay
One of the most treasured book we ever bought was a slim, calf-bound soft-back with 'Jacobite Songs embossed on the cover (it cost us 7 shilling and sixpence
It turned out to be a lined exercise book with around 160 Jacobite songs beautifully written in almost copper-plate handwriting with tunes precisely laid out in tonic-solfa
There's no name on it, just a leaflet advertising a lantern-slide lecture on 'The McGregor Country' dated 1916 - you can see the handwriting getting old as the book proceeds - obviously a life's work for some unnamed hero

I think the most worrying thing that has upset e during these arguments is the attempt to offer bullshit as facts instead of honest findings
Earlier on I was told firmly that the "Buchan controversy was done and dusted" when in fact it is no such thing
I was told that Buchan's greatest supporter was a businessman who knew nothing of ballads
I'd forgotten we have a 2 volume copy of Ford's Vagabond Songs that had once been part of Walker's library and which are full of his learned comments on the songs contained
I found a published collection of Walkers letters and essays on ballads and discovered that, far from being an ignoramus on the subject he was a man well aware of the importance of the people's songs
It seems to me that many of these theories are being pushed forward by suppressing facts
I believe Harker has done much to set this ball rolling
Jim Carroll


06 Feb 20 - 04:07 PM (#4032625)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe Offer

I'm still waiting for somebody to post specific information about particular songs that have been "faked."
In the US, I can refer you to any number of songs from John Jacob Niles, but I was hoping someone would post specific examples here of the "fakesongs" that Harker refers to.
-Joe-


06 Feb 20 - 04:24 PM (#4032632)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

joe , i doubt if you will hear of any.Harker is someone who masturbates intellectually.


06 Feb 20 - 05:57 PM (#4032642)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish

I'm still having trouble following some of the arguments here, but as far as I can see all agree that many (most?) collectors/publishers altered songs for publication, for one reason or another. That isn't fakery. What is fakery is to alter a song and pass it off as an authentic collected specimen.

Even worse fakery is to publish something that one has written oneself and claim some other genesis for it. Received wisdom is that most of the collectors didn't go that far but that a few of them did.

Are we all agreed on that much, or is someone going to disagree?

If we are agreed on that much, is it useful to cite cases (such as Peter Buchan or Bert Lloyd)?


06 Feb 20 - 06:05 PM (#4032643)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe Offer

Richard Mellish says: Even worse fakery is to publish something that one has written oneself and claim some other genesis for it.

That's clearly the case with John Jacob Niles, but I don't know of others who so clearly "faked" folk songs.

At a song circle a month or two ago, I was talking about Niles and his fakery. A couple of songs later, a woman said "here's a John Jacob Niles" song that certainly isn't a fake. The flowery language and perfect grammar of the lyrics made it clear that the song was indeed another Niles fake.

After studying lyrics for a few years, it becomes easy to sort out what's traditional and what's commercial.

-Joe-


06 Feb 20 - 06:22 PM (#4032646)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Brian
I will have to reread 'Conclusions' I can see.' >>>>>even before he met Sharp.<<<<<. I would like to see the evidence for that one. I was aware that BG changed his mind several times of how influential the broadsides were, but I thought his 'turning' came after he met Sharp and started collaborating with him.
I didn't say Kidson offered a specific theory. He had a pretty big collection of broadsides early on and used broadsides a lot and referred to them in TT so he obviously had the knowledge. He was also very aware of the links to the stage and more highbrow origins of some of the songs that were sung at the likes of Vauxhall...Sweet Nightingale, Colin & Phoebe etc.

>>>>Of course he also believed that broadsides were derived ultimately from oral tradition<<<<<. Have we any evidence that Kidson/BG thought this? My own view here is well-known. Of course as I've said many times there was significant interaction between print and oral tradition but when you trace any of them back to the earliest manifestation it is commercial urban, and the evidence within the texts themselves is this is how they originated. However this is not what we're discussing here and it is threaddrift.


06 Feb 20 - 06:29 PM (#4032647)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Richard
I've more or less said the same as this further up the thread.

Re Buchan, a good start would be to flag up Child's comments and then take it from there. Or perhaps even a better start to post Child's dying comments from Vol 5.

I think Bert's contributions are probably well flagged up on other threads.

>>>>>After studying lyrics for a few years, it becomes easy to sort out what's traditional and what's commercial.<<<<<<....Joe, unless you're severely blinkered.


06 Feb 20 - 06:42 PM (#4032654)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Regarding Brian's discussion (1.54; 2.14), he makes a great many sensible points.

May I provide the context and the full quotation from Harker?

Harker is taking Sharp up on his discussion of 'continuity', one of his three principles relating to the 'evolution' of the folk song. Sharp argues that a song could remain the same i.e. continuous, against potential arguments that it would get altered because people did not have very good memories. Harker says Sharp provides only 2 examples, one of which involves 2 women who lived in different places, but both of whom sang note by note a tune learned from mummers 30 years earlier. Harker thinks that probably the two women had heard the same group of mummers. He argues that the mummers (whom he regards as 'professional' therefore had a part in the dissemination of that piece of culture. I think his point stands whether or not they did hear the same troupe. He is arguing against Sharp's romantic picture of isolated, self sufficient villages and 'amateur' untrained folk-singers as well as the logic of Sharp's argument, I think.

Harker actually says: 'No consideration is given to the idea that it was the mummers and the broadsides which were the essential elements of cultural continuity and dissemination. Professionalism and commercial song-culture were, evidently, to be discounted'.

So taking up the idea of this being somehow 'opposite' to what Sharp wrote, we have to ask whether Sharp considered the idea whether mummers and broadsides were *essential* elements of cultural continuity and dissemination. If Sharp did consider this idea, then it is fair to say that Harker got it wrong. With respect, I'm not sure that Sharp did. How far this matters is another question, of course!

I think what Harker might be trying to chip away at here is that thread of folkloric thinking that sees 'folk' as being outside or untouched by the world of trade, professionalism, commerce etc?

Brian is right that Sharp doesn't seem to have admired ballad writers in general; but I cannot rate his literary judgement as he says ballads are simple and direct without subtlety: 'like Shakespeare'. Hmm. Interesting view of Shakespeare.


07 Feb 20 - 03:29 AM (#4032694)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Re Buchan, a good start would be to flag up Child's comments and then take it from there. "
That means nothing Steve, not even to you
How about what Child had to say about the "veritable dunghills" that you claim were the origins of 90%+ of our folk songs - do you treat his expertise on those with the same veneration?
It is about time you argued on your own behalf instead of hiding behind the expertise of others who you select from or reject whenever it suits
Buchan is and will remain an open argument in our lifetime and far beyond
The arguments are contradictory - he produced bad poetry and at the same time superb and highly singable versions of ballads that survived in the oral tradition long after he published them.
He did nothing that other anthologists hadn't done before and after him
Jim Carroll


07 Feb 20 - 03:47 AM (#4032701)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

With respect, it seems to me that there are several overlapping and interesting and reasonable ideas in some of the more recent threads, and some *possible* sources of confusion:

1 An interest in 'fakery' or 'fake songs' ie songs that have been written by a person who does not count as 'folk' in the eyes of the poster/by certain definitions and passed off as genuine 'folk'. This did happen.

2 The question of what is and is not 'fakery'.

3 The question of what can and cannot be done with a song considered to be 'folk' or 'traditional', which is linked with 2. Much seems to depend upon the claims that are made. The social class of the person doing the alteration seems important to some people. This is why some people try to claim Bert Lloyd ( a well-known tinkerer) as 'working class' however middle class his life style and profession(s). But I don't think this is the end of the matter??

4 The possible confusion relating to the title of Harker's book, which, as Brian pointed out, can be interpreted as suggesting that it is about 'fake songs' when in fact it is about the whole *concept* of 'folk song' especially as it emerged from a) the Romantic era (Scott etc), Percy's Reliques b) in the US Child's work and in England from the work of Victorians followed by Sharp and those coming just after him followed later in the 20th century by Lloyd.


07 Feb 20 - 03:53 AM (#4032703)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

Even worse fakery is to publish something that one has written oneself and claim some other genesis for it.
That's clearly the case with John Jacob Niles, but I don't know of others who so clearly "faked" folk songs.


James Hogg with "Donald Macgillivry". Lady John Scott with "Loch Lomond".


07 Feb 20 - 03:59 AM (#4032704)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

What will happen when somebody posts some examples of 'fakery' - of whatever sort - will be probably some thoughtful discussion, a larger amount of heated discussion, and very probably some metaphorical invective relating to onanism and excrement. Excuses will be made in terms of 'context' for some of the 'bowdlerisations' in published materials, I suppose.

Some examples will be said to be improvements upon the 'folk' originals (Lloyd's as we have already seen).

The defence that altering things is part of the folk process may be offered in respect of some examples.

Another defence may be that the parties altering the material were just trying to produce singable songs (but then the question is what they produced 'folk' arises, and in the case where they were operating before modern concepts of 'the folk' and 'the process' had been developed, perhaps with some validity, depending on the degree of honesty with which the new creations were originally represented.

There may be disputes about the facts: I know little about 'Buchan' but already the question about whether he is 'done and dusted' has been raised.

This has all already been happening.


07 Feb 20 - 04:06 AM (#4032705)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Why anybody should treat a piece of opinionated hyperbole coming from the mouth of a philologist with 'reverence' I do not know.

Bawdy songs must have been part of lower class culture, there are periods when we know for sure they were part of upper class culture and there is plenty of that sort of thing in Chaucer and Shakespeare and Boccaccio. Which reminds me to try to find out did Child include the late 17th century poet John Wilmot the Earl of Rochester in his collection of Eng Lit or was that left out?


07 Feb 20 - 04:09 AM (#4032706)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

But I was right about the excremental imagery: it was being typed at the same time I composed my post, and now we know who started it all!


07 Feb 20 - 04:10 AM (#4032707)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

It seems that nobody is posting evidence of fakery because someone might argue against it
Interesting logic !!!
Case dismissed
Jim Carroll


07 Feb 20 - 04:25 AM (#4032710)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Sorry, what I was trying to say above (and probably failed) was we know there are different points of view; I can relate more closely to some than others, maybe we are all in this position. But please can we at least try to discuss the topic without personalised attacks on those who disagree with us and without treating it as a court case/battle/competition? I am vowing to try again on this. We'll have to see how it goes on.


07 Feb 20 - 04:39 AM (#4032713)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"That means nothing Steve, not even to you"

"It is about time you argued on your own behalf instead of hiding behind the expertise of others who you select from or reject whenever it suits"

I'm off. I think we're done here.


07 Feb 20 - 04:45 AM (#4032714)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

THese are important points which need to be argued to the full
Many of us have spent most of our lifetimes being 'misled and gullible' if hherker is to be believed
That's a thought not to be taken lying down
Jim Carroll


07 Feb 20 - 04:58 AM (#4032715)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Returning to Sharp, printed sources, and the treatment of the topic in ‘Fakesong’, here's what Sharp wrote:

“The ballad broadside, which sprang into life very soon after the invention of printing, consisted of a single sheet of paper, upon one side of which were printed the words only of the ballad, or song. These broadsheets were hawked about the country by packmen, who frequented fairs, village festivals, and public gatherings of all sorts, and who advertised their wares by singing them in market-places, on village greens, in the streets of the towns, and wherever they could attract an audience. In this way ballads and songs were disseminated all over the land. In later days the broadside would have two or more ballads printed upon it, and sometimes several ballads were bound together and distributed in small books of three or four pages, called ‘garlands’...”

On p 193 of ‘Fakesong’, however, we find:
“Kidson's reasonable advice, that a collector must know printed songs before he can pronounce on songs which appear to be 'folksongs', and his Journal article of 1905, were ignored by Sharp.”

But Sharp obviously did “know printed songs”, as evidenced not only by the quote above, but by the numerous references to specific print examples in his song annotations. To claim that Sharp gave “no consideration” to the idea of broadside dissemination, and “discounted” commercial song-culture, is a clear misrepresentation of what Sharp wrote and, since ‘Fakesong’ devotes several pages to ‘Some Conclusions’ and quotes copiously from it, it’s hard to see how this could have been simple oversight.

This issue is important because, as Steve Roud has said, ‘Fakesong’ became the basis for a new consensus.   It’s become received wisdom that, for instance, Sharp knew and said nothing about the broadside trade - just as all kinds of other erroneous assumptions are entertained because ‘Fakesong’ is taken as the last word on the subject while primary sources are overlooked. This has led us to a situation where people who ought to know better have felt at liberty to say pretty much what they like about Sharp, without doing basic checking. One US academic wrote recently in relation to Sharp’s Appalachian collection that “he was interested only in English music and dances” and “ignored the rest” (i.e. American-made songs), a claim that can be refuted simply by reading through he contents of ‘English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians’ and observing titles like ‘Old Joe Clark’, ‘John Hardy’, Omie Wise’ and ‘Swanannoa Town’. The authors of a mainstream reference work on popular music, titled (probably not coincidentally) ‘Faking It’, felt able to assert that Sharp was advancing “proto-fascist theories of a pan-European Aryan race”.

As Roud commented in‘The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs’ (he didn’t name ‘Fakesong’, but it’s quite clear what he’s talking about), “the polemic that was produced [...] with a strong political agenda” has “warped the debate ever since”. If I may borrow one of Dave Harker’s many colourful phrases, perhaps it’s time to recognize ‘Fakesong’ as “intellectual rubble which needs to be shifted so that building can begin again.”


07 Feb 20 - 05:06 AM (#4032717)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

>>>>>even before he met Sharp.<<<<<. I would like to see the evidence for that one. I was aware that BG changed his mind several times of how influential the broadsides were, but I thought his 'turning' came after he met Sharp and started collaborating with him.

Steve, I found that information in Martin Graebe's biography of SBG who, in the 'Plymouth Manuscript' (dated 1892, completed 1900) wrote: "...when I first started collecting in 1888... I was under the impression they were all taken from broadsides. Later I came to a different opinion & I now hold that in a good many cases the traditional forms are earlier and sometimes more correct."

I am not, of course, judging the accuracy of this opinion, just pointing out that it coincided with Sharps's and preceded it.


07 Feb 20 - 05:36 AM (#4032718)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

"I think what Harker might be trying to chip away at here is that thread of folkloric thinking that sees 'folk' as being outside or untouched by the world of trade, professionalism, commerce etc? " (Pseudonymous, my emphasis)

Sorry to keep harping back to the first page of "Some Conclusions". In the second paragraph of the book Sharp says "we must look to the musical utterances of those who were least affected by extraneous educational influences" (my emphasis).

I accept that "untouched by" and "least affected by" apply to different things in these quotes but the former is typical of how Sharp's views have been described and the latter typical of how careful he was in his use of words. He was trying to be ‘scientific’ (as he put it) and we may think he was wrong about some things, but I don’t see a need for “setting up of straw men” in order to criticise him. I think Brian Peter's recent posts also show that Harker was indeed setting up a straw man in the way his mis-represents Sharp's account.


07 Feb 20 - 05:37 AM (#4032719)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Last post was me


07 Feb 20 - 05:59 AM (#4032722)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Brian

I read your post with some interest.

What Harker said was that Sharp did not consider the idea that broadsides and mummers were 'essential'. This is the key word. And at no point does Sharp consider this idea. He does discuss broadsides but this particular idea is not one that he discusses.

The Kidson-Sharp thing is interesting. Sharp had various difference of approach/opinion with Kidson, it appears. But on the point at issue, once again, I feel that quotations may have been taken out of context.

If a reader of Harker came to the conclusion that Harker claimed that Sharp did not know anything about broadsides or had not seen one, then we have to conclude that they had not read Harker carefully enough.

The point Harker is making is not that Sharp did not know anything about broadsides. It is not true to say that you could read Harker and come away with the idea that Sharp knew nothing about broadsides. See for example p193! Harker is making a point about broadside production in Somerset at a particular point in time, and stating that Sharp does not appear to have known about that because he does not use this information in his account of the possible provenance of songs he collected. Harker provides a list of broadside publishers active at the time in question.

Harker makes this point: 'It seems never to have occurred to Sharp that to ask for old songs from old people in the early 1900s would inevitably result in the collection of items widely popular in a commercial context before 1850.' Harker cannot understand why Sharp persists in viewing people who knew songs about the Napoleonic wars as 'peasants' cut off from outside influences etc etc.

Before I end, some people have indicated a belief that Bearman finished off Harker once and for all. Of course, while doing this, Bearman also finishes off many of the beliefs of Sharp and of revival singers, including the idea that 'folk song' relates to ag lab lower class types. Bearman does not like folk song, he likes Vaughan Williams etc.

Bearman disputes with Harker over definitions of 'peasant' relying on what was in effect the first ever multi-volume OED which came out during Sharp's time. Its definition of peasant has two parts. Bearman uses the 2nd part which he sees as relating broadly to a 'countryman' or 'rustic'. Had he looked at the examples of 'usage' (and the present OED has more or less identical definition and usage examples) he would have seen that the sense he chose to go with was more like an insult than the pre-Raphaelite medievalist nationalistic sentimentalism intended by Sharp.

I am sorry but Sharp's complaints that English culture is too 'cosmopolitan' and that we need something more purely national do have a ring of the hard right, and for me they should not be skimmed over but acknowledged as part of our national heritage, and not a part we should be proud of, in my opinion.

I did not set out to defend Harker but to describe this scholarly book as 'intellectual rubble' seems 'begrudgery'!

Thank you. I leave you to have any last words.


07 Feb 20 - 07:44 AM (#4032737)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

"Sharp's complaints that English culture is too 'cosmopolitan' and that we need something more purely national do have a ring of the hard right"(Pseudonymous)

That's what I asked about a couple of days ago. I am still not convinced that it's not just a case of appreciating what is on your doorstep and promoting it as an alternative to other things that were fashionable in middle-class art music circles of the time. Proselytizing maybe, but being jingoistic?

Not much different, say, than a bunch of musicians in the 1970's revitalising English traditional dance music at a time when Irish and Amercan forms made up most of what we were hearing in the revival.


07 Feb 20 - 07:49 AM (#4032738)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

I've no intention of getting into a semantic argument. I've laid out my thoughts regarding some of the misrepresentations in 'Fakesong', but if others choose to defend it to the last ditch, that's their business - readers can make their own minds up. It would have been useful to have seen a little more critical analysis of 'Fakesong' in this thread, rather than reiterations of its content, but I've tried to do my bit.

The 'peasant' controversy has been pretty much put to bed by Gammon and Knevett (FMJ, 2016), in an article that's worth reading.

'Intellectual rubble' is, of course, how Harker described the concepts 'folk song' and 'ballad'.


07 Feb 20 - 07:52 AM (#4032740)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Agree with you there, jag.


07 Feb 20 - 08:00 AM (#4032742)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Fakesong:
"Sharp's star singer, Henry Larcombe, felt that a broadside text was good enough for him - his version of Lord Bateman is almost identical with one printed by Keys of Devonport- but such matters were passed over by Sharp in silence, or written off in a sour aside on the many 'imperfectly remembered broadside versions' he claimed to have recognized."

Some Conclusions
"...a blind man, one Mr. Henry Larcombe, also from Haselbury-Plucknett, sang me a Robin Hood Ballad (F.S.F.S., No. 43). The words consisted of eleven verses. These proved to be almost word for word the same as the corresponding stanzas of a much longer black-letter broadside, preserved in the Bodleian Library."


07 Feb 20 - 09:57 AM (#4032752)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish

In response to my questions 06 Feb 20 - 05:57 PM, Steve said "I've more or less said the same as this further up the thread."

Indeed. I was trying to find out whether any of the contributors to this thread disagree about the extent of fakery of songs, because it's sometimes unclear to me what is being argued. (Jim is one whose points aren't always clear to me, but he's not the only one.)

And I acknowledge that Harker was not claiming wholesale fakery of songs but rather fakery of the whole edifice.

On a point somewhat peripheral to this thread, but much discussed elsewhere, I understand one of Jim's arguments to be that, because the broadsides are mostly a dunghill, therefore the excellent songs that were collected can't have started life there but must have been made by "the folk". If that is the argument, then it neglects two points: a) that there were other possible commercial origins besides the broadside press, notably the stage and the pleasure gardens, and b) that the songs that were collected were ones that at least one generation of singers, if not more, had considered worth learning and singing. That was Sharp's "selection" in operation (and it can be seen still in operation right up to the present).


07 Feb 20 - 10:07 AM (#4032753)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello again:

I said I would leave the last word to Brian and that is what I shall do.

Thanks for an interesting discussion.


07 Feb 20 - 10:08 AM (#4032755)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Iains

A peripheral thread from 2009 has a discussion of broadsides



Subject: RE: Early Broadsides (was-Music o t People)
(I do not know how to link to previous threads)


07 Feb 20 - 10:15 AM (#4032756)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Jag

The thought I had about Sharp took me back to the recent Scottish Independence debate. The question was raised earlier about Sharp's intentions re England and the other parts of the UK. He seems to me to be an example of an English person who regards his 'nation' as English rather than British. This happens. And the English aren't the only ones: I knew a foreign language student who wrote a thesis including examples of the French press calling Gordon Brown the 'English Prime Minister'.

Apparently Sharp upset some people by being Pro-war, so not as 'jingoistic' as all that. At the end of the day you can only read 'Some Thoughts' and make your own mind up.


07 Feb 20 - 10:19 AM (#4032758)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Pro Boer I should have put sorry.


07 Feb 20 - 10:22 AM (#4032759)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Brian: I have downloaded the Gammon and Knevett piece. Thanks for the reference. NB I had seen the Gammon 'One for the Money' piece, which is interesting, mentioned earlier in the thread.


07 Feb 20 - 10:34 AM (#4032763)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Gammon and Knevett seem at one point to be making the same point about Bearman that I did, but in more detail.

I note the idea that Sharp was part of a widespread 'romantic' view of the peasantry. My view again! And they then go on to discuss this in more detail later in the piece.

G and K acknowledge Harker as the pioneer of the idea of mediation. A balanced and interesting discussion, which is just what you would expect from Vic Gammon, whose work I admire.


07 Feb 20 - 10:51 AM (#4032766)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Jag: Sorry to keep harping back to the first page of "Some Conclusions". In the second paragraph of the book Sharp says "we must look to the musical utterances of those who were least affected by extraneous educational influences" (my emphasis).

I cannot see why you are apologising. I cannot speak for everybody but I can say that I have enjoyed your contributions to the discussion.

My contribution here might be that Sharp is hoping to get the remains of his romantically viewed 'pure' peasantry who would have been wholly untouched: I think discussions of the usage of the term peasant (while valid and in the case of Gammon and Knevett if not that of Bearman relatively convincing) turns us away from Sharp's (romantic) belief in this racial/national illiterate, untrained person whose intellect is formed solely by the ups and downs of life and who he imagines in what seems to me to be a romantic evidence-free way influenced by Child and Gummere to have originated the songs he was collecting, or the ones he chose not to reject for his own reasons. For plainly, whatever his motives, and, even if we reject Harkers' class-based analysis of why he did this, Child was, in my view 'mediating'.

Please don't be apologising


07 Feb 20 - 10:55 AM (#4032767)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Jag, I left out quotation marks, sorry.


07 Feb 20 - 11:03 AM (#4032768)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Pseudonymous.

I don't know enough about Sharp but regarding one's nation as 'English', and not seeking to find a 'British' national music, could be regarded as being respectful of the Welsh, the Scottish and the Irish. And not at all inconsistant with understanding the Boers' perspective on things.

It's not clear from your post what approach to nationality you would view with merit.

I once had to explain to some Argentinians that Edward Heath was not the Prime Minister of England. Confidence in my answer was undermined by me then being unable to explain why the the countries of the UK have their own international football teams.

For purpose of disclosure I am northern English and resent The Scouring of the North by those who became our fuedal overlords.

Shouldn't you get back on topic?


07 Feb 20 - 11:15 AM (#4032770)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

"... view as having merit ..."


07 Feb 20 - 11:22 AM (#4032772)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

" I understand one of Jim's arguments to be that, because the broadsides are mostly a dunghill, therefore the excellent songs that were collected can't have started life there "
Much more complicated than that Richard
I've been labouring over an article for nearly a year now, which I have yet to get properly started
We don't know who made folk songs and probably never shall, so in the end it's down to sorting our what we do know and using common sense
The Irish rural and urban working people made local songs in their many thousands, as did the Scots with their output of Bothy Songs, on the spot waulking songs, their political pieces.... and many other examples
The non-literate Travellers, both Irish and Scots, were still making songs right into the 1970s
How likely is it that the English rural working people were alone in these Islands in being almost fully reliant on hack writers for songs about every aspect of daily life - which basically what our folk repertoire is
When I challenged Steve Gardham with this his reply was that the English agricultural workers were 'far to busy earning a living to make songs'
The greatest output of songs in Ireland came from hardship such as forced emigration, mass evictions, land wars,, wars of national independence -
Hardship inspired songwriting, not discouraged it
Our songs are based on working people's vernacular, they contain insider knowledge on work practices and leisure activities, the sympathies of the songs lie invariably with the persecuted and the poor....
A desk-bound hack would have to have possessed the skills and the politico-social leanings of a Steinbeck or a Robert Tressell to have made such socially volatile stuff
Hacks were human conveyor belts churning out their doggerel to stay alive and their largely shoddy compositions show exactly that

And that's just the start
You have the problems of poor and non-existent literacy as a disincentive to learn songs from print, the tendency to treat printed texts as sacrosanct (a regular comment from our singers), which acts against such songs passing into versions.....
Non literate Travellers have been the main carriers of our songs in Ireland and Scotland
There is much, much more on this question that remains unresolved and unanswered

Up to the last decade, Maccoll's statement at the end of the Song Carriers summarised the belief of most folk enthusiasts, from researcher in folk song to broadside experts like Bob Thomson and Leslie Shepherd

"Well, there they are, the songs of our people. Some of them have been centuries in the making, some of them undoubtedly were born on the broadside presses. Some have the marvellous perfection of stones shaped by the sea's movement. Others are as brash as a cup-final crowd. They were made by professional bards and by unknown poets at the plough-stilts and the handloom. They are tender, harsh,, passionate, ironical, simple, profound.... as varied, indeed, as the landscape of this island."

What has changed to make that statement no longer valid ? - nothing, as far as I can see
Jim


07 Feb 20 - 02:11 PM (#4032799)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

All answered numerous times on numerous threads.


07 Feb 20 - 02:25 PM (#4032805)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

Sharp's complaints that English culture is too 'cosmopolitan' and that we need something more purely national do have a ring of the hard right"

In Sharp's time the word "cosmopolitan" wasn't code for "International Jewish Conspiracy" as it is now. Look at composition and didactic works about art music back then, and Britain was a German colony - Elgar was a German composer who happened to come from Somerset. Debussy had a very similar reaction to German cultural dominance, except he was much more unpleasant about it.


07 Feb 20 - 02:35 PM (#4032808)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"All answered numerous times on numerous threads."
Not one has Steve
You offered a number aof feeble on-the-spot excuses like hacks who migt have worked at sea or lived on the land
You even claimed that the hacks were noted revolutionaries
You left the impression that your researches had gone no further than paper-chasing fisrt appearances on broadsides and were finally forced to admit that you could not guarantee a single song had originated on broadsides, for all your "starry-eyed" dismissal
You don't know - I don't know - as Stephen Fry is fond of saying, "nobody knows"
You accused me of having a "political agenda" for suggesting that rural workers made their own folk songs - I can think of no greater political agenda than insisting they didn't
Until you come up with something more solid and believable you really need to stop doing this
Jim Carroll


07 Feb 20 - 02:46 PM (#4032811)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Thumbs up to Jack Campin's post. I was just reading some of Sharp's lecture notes that dealt with German musical hegemony.


07 Feb 20 - 03:18 PM (#4032816)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

The Irish rural and urban working people made local songs in their many thousands.
And stil do to some extent


07 Feb 20 - 03:49 PM (#4032821)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I had no idea that cosmopolitan had that meaning at any time to be honest. Just trying to take it in. I took it to mean 'including people' from many countries. Do I misremember or is it right to say that Sharp felt Italian music also had been heard a lot in England as well as German? Checked, and he mentions French as well, saying since Purcell we had produced nothing of note though, he claims once we were known for music (He cites a comment by Erasmus,p128)

My nationality, I try always to say British, not least, ironically, out of respect for the others, being English myself. Used to be a European. Miss that a bit to be honest. Harker of course wants socialists to be internationalists, a point made by somebody else on this thread. Think globally act locally an environmentalist once said to me.

I read somewhere that Harker does not consider himself a 'Trotskyist' so I have to take back stuff based on his SWP membership if that is correct.

Still wishing I could read Harker's later paper responding to critics but not able to access it. Just to sort of round off this rather hectic trip through a lot of literature. My paper copy of Harker is now back with the library, who'll be sending it to wherever they borrowed it from. I've sent for Georgina Boyes' work, but as I said before, I don't think Mudcat may necessarily be the best place to discuss it. But it gets mentioned in such terms that I am intrigued to read it for myself and see what I think.

I've ordered a book on ABE, not the Wilgus in the end, but the Fowler one. It starts with the evolution of balladry: wondering if I am going to find that all a bit jackanory, but we'll see. It was at least cheap so if a mistake not an expensive one.

People posting on this thread have taught me a lot and I am grateful to everybody for an interesting discussion.


07 Feb 20 - 05:00 PM (#4032831)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

I don't think Grainger ever used the word "cosmopolitan" but his pet hate was Italian influences in music. Germans were sort of okay in his book but the Norfic cultures were the foreign influence he most welcomed.

Anybody in the 1900s British folk scene have it in for the Spanish or the Russians?


07 Feb 20 - 05:07 PM (#4032836)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Sorry if you've left the room Pseudonymous, but I'm back and still on Sharp.

Minor point about the broadsheets. Sharp says "singers will sometimes learn new sets of words from a ballad-sheet" in a matter-of-fact way when discussing variation of tunes. No fuss. It reads as if it's just something he knew they did. Is there much 'theorising' to do about it? It's one of the easy bits.

Harker tends to quote from the concluding sentences of Sharp's arguments. I think Sharp is pretty good with the 'compare and contrast' on other people's ideas and whilst some of his conclusions may not be right he is very clear about how he gets to them.

What strikes me about Sharp is that he doesn't seem to consider 'culture'. In his discussion of the supposed Celts and Anglo-Saxons in Somerset, and a similar comparison of the French and English, he seems to stick to his view that the 'national' characteristics of the common folk are inherent or 'racial' (we would say 'in the genes'). He doesn't seem to consider the possibility that cultural differences could exist amongst the people uninfluenced by education etc.

I think that is a flaw in his argument in relation to folk music. It may also, technically, make him a racist but I dont think that in itself affects that value of his discussion or cast doubt on his work. He doesn't come over as a xenophobe which I think would casts doubt on his work.

(the part where he discusses the music of a black Australian boy is more telling of his view of the evolutionary relationship between races than the quote used by Harker about the negroes. But, as has been said, of its time)


07 Feb 20 - 05:39 PM (#4032841)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Not necessarily left, just sort of on the porch a bit.

Jag's interesting post tempted me back in for a moment. Culture, of course! I was looking at an oldish academic book on 'popular music' I'm pretty sure you would all hate by Richard Middleton, and it made the point that even when we were evolving into homo sapiens culture was *part of the process*. We did not evolve first and get culture afterwards. Perhaps those creatures who came before may have had music? They seem to have had 'art' of some sort and language of some sort (?) so music seems a pretty safe bet. Drifting again, I know.

I hope I didn't give the impression I wanted to throw everything Sharp did away on the basis of his 'racism'. I did feel it was worth flagging up where I thought his views were suspect.


07 Feb 20 - 05:58 PM (#4032846)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

One point if we are sticking to Sharp is that his piece is mainly a piece about music: it has been said before, and the piece makes it clear, he is discussing music, and, since the 'peasants' he listened to sang unaccompanied, we are talking about melody, and in some parts, metre, and in some places how the words and the melody fit together when his informants sing songs (which I remember having to do exercises in at a relatively low level of music theory, so I have some idea about how Sharp would have viewed this).

A few half hours with Middleton has problematized my simplistic 'complaints' that people ignore or don't talk about the music of 'folk' but since it is Sharp's main focus, it would be good to try to address what he says. Some of it is I think accessible and would be to people here who sing (please excuse me not naming names, too many to mention) and who state themselves to be at sea if it gets technical musically.

I know this is something Harker doesn't really address (except to be suspicious of Sharp's belief that folk music was 'modal').

Does anybody know whether Sharp found much in the major scale/ionian mode by the way?

There is something niggling away at me Sharp and it is this, I think: how does he account for the dissemination of 'folk songs' across the country? Is this a problem for his view of the non-educated folk with no intellectual learning except for life's ups and downs? How did farming ever spread from wherever it arose if that is the only way people learned?


07 Feb 20 - 06:14 PM (#4032850)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

He says two thirds Ionian in his collection, the remaining third fairly evenly divided between mixolydian, dorian, and aeolian with perhaps a preponderance of mixolydian.

That surprised you, eh?


07 Feb 20 - 06:50 PM (#4032855)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

> his view that the 'national' characteristics of the common folk are inherent or 'racial'

This was the Romantic view going all the way back to Herder in the 18th Century, and widely taken for granted in the 19th. "Common sense" back then.

"Culture" was taken to be the natural expression of inherited characteristics.

I assume these views were easier to hold in the days when populations were not nearly so mobile as they've been in the past century or so.

Pseud, "jackanory"?


07 Feb 20 - 06:54 PM (#4032857)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Posted before, but, re dissemination, let me remind you of Sharp's words in Some Conclusions:

"These broadsheets were hawked about the country by packmen, who frequented fairs, village festivals, and public gatherings of all sorts, and who advertised their wares by singing them in market-places, on village greens, in the streets of the towns, and wherever they could attract an audience. In this way ballads and songs were disseminated all over the land."

You wouldn't get that impression from 'Fakesong', of course.


07 Feb 20 - 07:02 PM (#4032858)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Modus lascivious perhaps? (been looking at Sharp again). Going to attempt chapters IV V and Vl. Wish me luck.

Sharp has a go at Brahms, saying he did not harmonise 'logically' for modes. Not lacking in confidence was he, our Cecil? So maybe this is where he wanted to take national music, to include a 'logical' accompaniment for non major or minor scale modes? I feel like having a go at some of his arrangements to see what he made of some modal songs. Can anybody suggest a suitable text from those on archive.org or elsewhere, and not in a key with lots of flats or more than four sharps, please? See my faith in Mudcat?

Pity Sharp was hard on German music: Bach is a favourite of mine, not that I know a lot of course. (NB Flip comment, not to be taken too seriously)


08 Feb 20 - 02:53 AM (#4032896)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

So maybe this is where he wanted to take national music, to include a 'logical' accompaniment for non major or minor scale modes? quote pseud
this was later done through the uses of certain guitar tunings such as dadgad, and dgdgcd, which according to martin carthy are based on appalachian 5 string banjo tunings.Sharp had collected in appalachia and so he knew what he was talking about


08 Feb 20 - 04:06 AM (#4032903)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

1 Did the Appalachians not do this themselves?

2 Interesting crossover since the banjo is said to derive from African instruments via enslaved people

3 What evidence is there that Sharp noticed Banjo tunings? I am fascinated.

4 I suppose that Sharp's view would be that you had to use chords built on the notes of whichever scale your melody was based on? Should I think this through in terms of normal tunings mode by mode? Haven't got very far yet. Starting with triads and D Mixolydian; same notes as D Major except a c natural.

I chord D major; II chord E minor; III chord F# dim…?;   lV G Maj; V Am; VI B minor; VII C major. Doable in normal tuning?


08 Feb 20 - 04:28 AM (#4032905)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Couple of thoughts from yesterday

@ Steve. I really would be interested to discuss the example of Buchan. I got as far as trying to discover what Child did say about him. This is where you said we might start. Child said something critical. I did not intend to try to shut down discussion. I was just a little pessimistic about how far we could keep it 'more than polite'. The only question might be whether there was already a thread on the matter and if so whether we would be forgiven for discussing it here. They find it clogs up the system if a thread gets too long.

@ Brian. Part of the reason for trying to repeat here what Harker said was the idea that some people reading and even participating in this thread have not read him, or have not read him recently enough to recall what he said. The idea was to help them to follow.

@ I want back to Roud and Bishop's 'Folk Song in England' and accidentally found myself reading ideas that could have come straight from Harker, minus the 'attitude'. Now Roud more or less starts with a go at Harker, so that is interesting. For example a similar point was made about Sharp and modes (which is what I took it out to read up on). Annoyingly the index in my copy seems never to have got beyond a certain letter in the alphabet, making it hard to look stuff up. Were all the texts like this? Had I not got it 2nd hand (hopefully not via Amazon :) ) I would have complained.


08 Feb 20 - 05:56 AM (#4032913)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

Pseudo - I don't know if Sharp knew about Appalachian banjo tunings - though I suspect that he did - but on 10th August, 1916, fiddler Reuben Hensley told Sharp that, 'they always tune their fiddles in this faked way when they played Kentucky tunes'.


08 Feb 20 - 06:20 AM (#4032916)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Lighter. Thanks for the " Culture" was taken to be the natural expression of inherited characteristics" observation.

@Pseudonymous. I think the modes are off-topic because Harker doesn't say much. However, I find it interesting that whilst Sharp devotes a large part of his discussion of folk tunes to the modes those other than Ionian only make up about one third of his collection. That may mean he did not suffer from the 'collection bias' that others who can 'recognise a folk tune when they hear it' might be guilty of. I think modus lascivious is always worth throwing into the discussion when people seem to be forgetting that not all folk tunes are 'modal'.


08 Feb 20 - 06:28 AM (#4032917)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Referring to the person who told me Carthy would come after me with a noose. Mad as a bag of frogs? Maybe, maybe not. But it seems to have made a lasting impression.

Assuming Guest above is Sandman, interesting points. Thanks. However, I know lamentably little about Appalachian songs, except I do a version of 'Old Joe Clarke' which might be an Appalachian tune. In normal tuning and the key of G. I saw some Appalachian clogging once at a time I was involved with clog=type Morris and loved it.


08 Feb 20 - 06:32 AM (#4032919)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Sorry I typed Jag in the wrong place. I was going to say I am happy to agree that modes are off-topic: Harker, as you say, mentions them only rarely.


08 Feb 20 - 07:03 AM (#4032923)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Jack Campin

I am happy to agree that modes are off-topic: Harker, as you say, mentions them only rarely.

My take on that is that Sharp's treatment of them was an example of cultural blindness - I wouldn't go as far as to call it racist, but at least it didn't occur to him that any music theory originating east of Vienna might be relevant to his project.

Harker looked only at much cruder examples of Sharp being narrowminded. But occasionally using racist language didn't have an adverse effect on what Sharp could discover, while not using the knowledge accumulated over millennia by "lesser breeds without the law" certainly did limit him.


08 Feb 20 - 07:06 AM (#4032924)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"fiddler Reuben Hensley told Sharp that, 'they always tune their fiddles in this faked way when they played Kentucky tunes'."

Quite so, and Sharp made notes on open fiddle tunings used by Hensley and others. I'm not aware that he recorded any banjo tunings, though he did give a nice description of a fiddle/banjo duet which he also noted down.


08 Feb 20 - 07:11 AM (#4032926)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Well, I'm going on the porch for a moment to ponder Mr Moulden's advice about being politer than polite. Have a nice day everybody.


08 Feb 20 - 10:34 AM (#4032965)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Pseu,
Which index are you lacking?

When I get a little more time I will start a new thread on Child's thoughts on the ballads to include his comments on Buchan and others.


08 Feb 20 - 11:22 AM (#4032974)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"When I get a little more time I will start a new thread on Child's thoughts on the ballads to include his comments on Buchan and others.

Just in case you miss a bit – From ‘the preface of ‘The High-Kilted Muse
Just trying to be helpful
Jim Carroll

It took the combined efforts of two of Childs most important correspondents, the great Danish ballad scholar Sven Grundtvig and the modest Aberdeen pawnbroker William Walker to persuade Child he was wrong in his estimate of the printer from Peterhead. As early as 1855, Grundtvig had heralded Buchan as a ‘man who has rescued, and for the first time published, more traditionary ballad versions than any other antiquary in Great Britain that we know of.14
Child would eventually yield in part. ? shall treat B.’s ballads as substan¬tially genuine, but I think I shall put them into smaller type than those of honest collectors’.’’ In the end. he did not do this, and, as William Walker has noted. Buchan was accorded a place of honour in the ESPB.
Consider Buchan’s contribution - after all was said, and 1;. J. Child was done. 'Ihere are 305 of the so-called USPB ballad types. Subtract the purely English recoveries and one is left with about 267 ballads. 91 of whose Child ? texts arc from the remote prccincts of Aberdeenshire. Of that 91.37 of Childs texts Walker credits to P. Buchan. Put another way, Buchan eventually furnished better than 12 percent of the ‘A texts of Childs canonised ballads. Buchan was redeemed, and no wonder that Child concluded the best Scottish ballads are from the north, there can be no doubt! Peter Buchan had furnished the bulk of them.
All of which brings us to the bawdy songs that spring from the Scots' high-kilted muse. These songs were amassed by Peter Buchan, apparently with a large assist from his hired wight of Homer’s craft. Jamie Rankin, the blind beggar who travelled Aberdeenshire for Buchan, gathering songs and talcs. As Rankin was blind at birth, 'his memory was very remarkable’, Wil¬liam Walker concluded on the basis ol research by Gavin Grcig. Rankin 'had a large stock of ballads and songs, but was distinctly of low intelligence. [...] He had a considerable stock ol coarse, high-kilted songs, which the young fellows would often induce him to sing'.'? For all their ‘real rough humour’, William Walker assured F. J. Child, there was no doubt these were traditional songs. ‘Even still, some ol these may be heard Sung [sic] in country bothies in the north•.1*
These ballads - which Buchan, Laing or Sharpe deemed unsuitable lor polite ears when weighing the make-up of the two volumes of Ancient Ballads were eventually copied into a separate collection by Buchan. The vicissitudes ol the manuscript, ot a hard-pressed Buchan’s feckless efforts to sell it, need not concern us. 'Ihe manuscript survived, to arrive safely in the Harvard Uni¬versity’s Houghton Library. It is this collection - probably the earliest known of traditional bawdy songs - which Murray Shoolbraid has here edited. In doing so, he brings to light a long-suppressed volume, and fills a great gap in published bawdy songs and ballads.
We are indebted to him.


08 Feb 20 - 11:30 AM (#4032975)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

"but at least it didn't occur to him that any music theory originating east of Vienna might be relevant to his project."

Did anyone before him who was looking at folk tunes from the British Isles do any better?

Do Henry Larcombe's multiple variations (pages 21 and 22 of "Some Conclusions") have any of the character of 'eastern' improvisations within the mode?


08 Feb 20 - 11:41 AM (#4032981)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

Peter Buchan's "Secret Songs of Silence" was published in another edition by Ian Spring at almost the same time as Shoolbraid's - I don't think either of them knew what the other was doing. I have Spring's but not Shoolbraid's. Spring rates Buchan rather higher than most earlier writers did.


08 Feb 20 - 12:28 PM (#4033000)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

but at least it didn't occur to him that any music theory originating east of Vienna might be relevant to his project.
Did anyone before him who was looking at folk tunes from the British Isles do any better?


Dunno. Sharp got the idea of using the Renaissance modal system from Lucy Broadwood, and I think he was more critical in the way he went at it than she was. Very thorough descriptions of the Arabic modal system were available in French, and d'Erlanger's massive treatise must have been in libraries Sharp used, sitting there too big to ignore.


Do Henry Larcombe's multiple variations (pages 21 and 22 of "Some Conclusions") have any of the character of 'eastern' improvisations within the mode?

I don't have a copy of it handy (I seem not to have put it on my tablet) but I doubt you'd get much of that from an English singer. Construction of fixed melodies using modal principles is another story, and even when there is no conscious awareness of how it's done, people making up tunes follow modal rules.


08 Feb 20 - 02:20 PM (#4033016)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Curiouser and curiouser

Going back to 'mediation': Bearman's PhD says that Gammon (whose politics he dislikes just about as much as he dislikes Lloyd's and Harkers) used this concept pre-Harker. He implies that Gammon got it from is MA supervisor, an historian called Peter Burke. Gammon he says used it in his first major publication (1980). This was about song collectors. But I just read Gammon saying it was something we could appreciate in Harker.

So the outcome of this is that we can use the term 'mediation' without necessarily evoking shades of Harker, if we so wish.

Bearman's tone isn't far off bilious in places.

Bearman agrees with Harker about Maud Karpeles' versions of the Sharp biography, by the way.

Haven't got too far with it though.


08 Feb 20 - 02:29 PM (#4033018)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Thanks for that quote, Jim. very helpful. It makes a good start. I have both Murray's and Ian's books and indeed I corresponded for a while with Ian. Oh and a copy of the manuscript as well, and copies of both the BL ms and the Harvard Ms.

Not too sure about Murray's number crunching and corresponding dates. It looks like Svend Grundtvig didn't have much effect on Child as Child only got the first part of Vol 1 published before Grundtvig died and Child went on to slate Buchan's material, quite cruelly in places, long after that first part was published.
What Murray conveniently fails to mention there is that many of Peter's ballads are A versions because they're the only known versions. I wonder why that might be.

Already mentioned William Walker's strange about-face earlier in the thread.

Buchan certainly wasn't redeemed as Murray put it.

The baseline is, even WW who went on to be his biggest apologist admitted that Peter eked out his ballads. Again, just as with all the others, we simply will never know the full extent of this.


08 Feb 20 - 02:47 PM (#4033020)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

As for Jamie Rankin, I'm happy to accept that he was responsible for the basic texts of Secret Songs, though I doubt it was him who touched them up. Some of them have Peter's fingerprints all over them.

Quote from Hustvedt.
'As for the wholesale manufacture with which he and James Rankin have been charged, William Walker makes a good case in showing that Rankin's materials did not enter very largely into that first manuscript from which the collection of 1828 was printed'. (Ancient Ballads of the North of Scotland proof). My brackets.

Indeed he had only met Jamie about a year before.

An interesting aside: A superb early (the earliest) version of The Herring's Head appears in the mss and Secret Songs. So praise where praise is due.


08 Feb 20 - 03:12 PM (#4033025)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

You're welcome
I think it puts to bed the suggestion that Child was anti-Buchan, don't you
Looking through the articles on the controversy we have here, it's pretty clear that, rather thsn it being "done and dusted" (quote) it still rumbles on
Even Buchan'd arch-elemy, Siggy has to admit that

Interesting footnote to Johnson's Dictionary article by Child
Child Ballad Poetry quote
English. —
Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, by Thomas Percy, 1st ed. 1765, 4th improved ed. London, 1794, and often since then;
Ancient and Modern Scottish Songs, by David Herd, 2d ed. 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1776;
Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, by Sir Walter Scott, 3 vols., Edinburgh, 1802-03, and often since then;
Popular Ballads and Songs, by Robert Jamieson, 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1806;
Ancient Scottish Ballads, by George R. Kinloch, Edinburgh, 1827;
Minstrelsy, Ancient and Modern, by William Motherwell, Glasgow, 1827;
Ancient Ballads and Songs of the North of Scotland, by Peter Buchan, 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1828;
The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, by F. J. Child, Boston, 1882-92, 8 parts, and one to follow, which will contain a full bibliography.

The ones in red are all high on the neo-researchers no-no list
Just off to see what the editor of the new Purslow's Hammong and Gardiner 'mediations' had to say about Frank's "naivety, dishonesty and pursuit of sales"
Personally, I was glad to use them when I was looking for songs to sing
Jim Carroll


08 Feb 20 - 04:58 PM (#4033041)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

'Personally, I was glad to use them when I was looking for songs to sing'. Me too. You'll find nothing but praise for Frank from me. It took 4 of us, off and on for several years, just to check what he had collated. He never pretended that they were for any other use than singing, unlike the earlier collectors who didn't or couldn't be bothered with tunes. Of course when Frank produced those 4 volumes there was no internet or EFDSS website to check everything. All he had to painstakingly work on were the paper copy Hammond/Gardiner manuscripts.
To the best of my knowledge the Hammonds and Gardiner took everything down faithfully to the best of their ability as did Sharp.

As for Sharp avoiding anything bawdy, have a look at the 'Gently Johnny' thread.


08 Feb 20 - 05:08 PM (#4033045)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Jim
Can I just make one thing absolutely clear? I have no axe to grind over mediation per se. From Percy's publishing the Reliques and Ritson's criticism onwards there was no excuse for any editor/publisher/collector not indicating where they had personally added their own material as Percy did. At least Jamieson made some sort of effort by indicating where he had mediated a ballad, even if he wasn't fully consistent with this.


08 Feb 20 - 05:26 PM (#4033049)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Who was Peter Buchan (1790-1854? For the benefit of the general reader (and myself):

Born Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Father, pilot. Was half-promised sponsorship for university but let down. Did part of an apprenticeship with a millwright, then with a turner and carver, then worked as a 'jobber'. His poetry writing brought him to the attention of the Earl of Buchan and he turned to the printing trade. He learned this at Stirling and by 'inveigling himself into the workshops of leading members of Edinburgh's printing fraternity' posing as an itinerant bookseller (Harker p44). Spent much time cultivating Edinburgh literati, got some more attention from the upper classes but the time he spent with the literati caused his business to falter and he lost the Earl's support. Spent some time working in London; returned to Scotland due to ill health, took up his business again.

Knew Scott, and came up with a proposal to publish his own manuscript ballad collection. This was agreed with two men called Laing and Sharpe in control and getting a share of any profit.

Motherwell tried to buy the original manuscript, such things being, Harker comments, 'commodities'. Buchan ended up selling some collections for cash. He moved and moved, eventually to Glasgow in 1838. Later song-collectors contacted him for materials. His materials were used by The Percy Society and Dixon in the mid-1840s. By the end of that decade he faced law suits and virtual ruin. He was saved by 2 grants from the Royal Literary Fund. He went to Ireland then London again, where he died.

Harker says 'Though the form of patronage had changed from individual and aristocratic to that of the state, Buchan proved that people without independent private means could not hope to survive by making only partly-commercial or song-books, even in mid-century.'

His 'Ancient Ballads' was published in Edinburgh in 1828 and aimed at the 'bourgeois market', and at those who were patriotic. The editor scorns ordinary people 'the vulgar mind' and aims at the 'literary antiquary' and the 'man of letters'. Harker thinks this is basically targeting a Tory market at a particular time in Scottish history.

Harker says it is unlikely that Rankin invented anything, or that he cared whether songs came from chap books etc some of which had Harker points out been published by Buchan himself. Harker complains that Buchan treats Rankin as a source when really Rankin was a collector. He also complains that Buchan doesn't really tell us about the people who were singing these songs.

Harker gives the impression that Buchan claimed to have been able to complete many of the best pieces hitherto only available in fragments and that it was the apparent 'perfection' of some of his pieces that made later readers suspicious of their genuineness. Harker seems to think that Buchan's mediations weren't as bad as 'smug editors like .. Child'. This is plainly provocative.


08 Feb 20 - 05:27 PM (#4033050)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

As we have been discussing the tunes recently here I thought I would give a few quotations from Celia Pendlebury's article: 'Tune families and Tune Histories: Melodic Resemblances in British and Irish Folk Tunes' in the latest edition of Folk Music Journal, which incidentally is peer-reviewed.

'Frank Kidson's scholarship of commercially produced dance collections and other music was significant and yet his work was marginalised by Sharp and his followers.' p92.

'Nowadays, many scholars regard the IFCM's definition as inaccurate and something of a historical curiosity.' p93.

The whole article is well worth reading.


08 Feb 20 - 05:46 PM (#4033058)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

'Knew Scott'

There is no evidence that he ever met Scott. No doubt he was immensely influenced by Scott's success with the Border Minstrelsy, even to the extent he had a noble local patron like Scott. He sent his manuscript for 'Ancient Ballads' to Scott for approval and Scott pronounced the ballads to the best of his knowledge genuine. He could hardly not do that after what he'd done himself.


08 Feb 20 - 05:47 PM (#4033060)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

My account of Buchan I should have made clear is Harker based, and I am interested to see if any of the biography comes in for criticism from those who know more than I do about Buchan's life. Rankin is a man Buchan paid to go out and get songs for him.

FMJ has lots of good stuff in, but I can't afford it, can only access stuff when in public domain. Not complaining, just stating.


08 Feb 20 - 06:02 PM (#4033063)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

Dunno where Pseud's potted bio of Buchan came from, but the "two men called Laing and Sharpe" were Scotland's most scholarly antiquarians. The manuscript could not have fallen into better hands. Why didn't the project go ahead?


09 Feb 20 - 12:09 AM (#4033108)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Jack: As I said, the bio came from Harker, and I'm awaiting people's comments on it. Not sure I can fill out many more details on the basis of Harker. Antiquarians or not, Harker says Laing and Sharpe wanted a cut and an editorial say so about this project. This bit isn't as well referenced as others either as far as I can see, though it is tedious using the pdf version to check.

It is a very potted biography (though he does say more on Laing and Sharpe elsewhere). He has a method of putting potted contextualising biographies in the opening sections on a time slot and then info on the works of those people in a subsequent section. It isn't always easy to piece the info together. Harker says Stephenson got involved in the project (whichever it was??), using Scott's circle as a tester for the market. He then says Buchan gave up the idea of making any real money out of this activity though he kept on until the 1830s with support and sympathy from Bell. No more detail on the project. So this might have been the 1828 publication. Either that or an earlier 1825 'Gleanings' book. Harker's reader is left to guess!

It's about page 45 if you wanted to have a look yourself. Maybe you can explain it all!


09 Feb 20 - 12:10 AM (#4033109)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

NB Harker gets the high kilted bit in.


09 Feb 20 - 12:38 AM (#4033111)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I'm sorry to but in: Is it correct or not that Child called Buchan an 'unscrupulous faker'?


09 Feb 20 - 02:35 AM (#4033115)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

About the biographies. The whole book reads as if Harker made a set of notes for each collector set out in the order that he covers their live and work and then went through writing about each against the background of his conclusions.

The overlong paragraphs are at their worst when he covers a group of collectors. We get the parents and place of birth for each all in one long paragraph. Then another long paragraph with a later part of all their biographies, and so on.

Such individual biographical notes would be really useful (and would be easier for an expert to check for ‘fairness’. If the work was for a science PhD a supervisor might have advised him to put the bios in a table so that the reader could concentrate on his overall ‘thesis’.


09 Feb 20 - 02:38 AM (#4033116)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Sorry, posting on phone. ... put the bios into tables so that the reader could concentrate on his overall thesis in a shorter main text.


09 Feb 20 - 03:42 AM (#4033124)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"I have no axe to grind over mediation per se"
Then why use terms like "fake" and "dishonesty", and why imply that they did what they did for money (there's little solid evidence for any of these accusations here)
If these people did what they did for the reasons you and others suggest, why isn't Purslow guilty of the same things ?

Once again we are as far away from discussions the songs themselves as we ever were
It's like someone who dedicates his or her like proving that Shakespere's plays were written by Marlow, or DeVere, or the Earl of Oxford.... without having the slightest interest in Hamlet or King Lear
I have noticed several people who have approached this argument like hungry dog fighting over a bone, but who obviously neither understand nor like the songs themselves or the singers
In the end, the only real evidence we have are the song texts that have been passed on to us across the centuries - everything else is like trying to put fog in a milk-bottle - utterly pointless
I believe there is more to be learned of the ballads and songs from an hour of listening to what Walter Pardon or 'Pop's' Johnny Connors, or Duncan Williamson. or Mikeen McCarthy, or Mary Delaney.... had to say about the songs they sang, than there is spending a lifetime trying to plough through a library full of books written largely in "a language that the stranger does not know"
The greatest gap we have in our knowledge of folksongs has always been the shortage of information from the singers themselves - reading through threads like this that treats the subject matter academically and in a vacuum is an example of why that is the case
Jim Carroll


09 Feb 20 - 04:46 AM (#4033127)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Re the concept of 'mediation', Dave Harker wrote in 1972 (Cecil Sharp in Somerset, FMJ vol. 2)

"There you have it, "folk song" as mediated by Cecil Sharp, to be used as "raw material" or "instrument", being extracted from a tiny fraction of the rural proletariat and to be imposed upon town and country alike for the people's own good..."


09 Feb 20 - 06:27 AM (#4033143)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Jag: I agree with you on all the points in your latest post. I even wondered whether he cut out paragraphs to keep the page count down! Otherwise, Harker is a good writer, even if somewhat bilious in tone at times.

@ Steve:

1 I knew people would challenge Harker on some detail! Harker definitely says Buchan was 'acquainted with' Scott. I think Harker might agree with you that Buchan knew of the 'fashion' for antiquarianism and wouldn't quibble at all with your suppositions regarding Buchan's reading matter.

2 Of course you are right not to have anything against 'mediation' per se, since in a general sense it seems inevitable.

As I mentioned above, the earliest use of the term 'mediation' within folkloric studies that I know if Vic Gammon's. He was at the time being supervised by a historian, so it appears to be a term used by historians. If they don't use the term, they certainly use the general concept and it is taught in school history at age 16 if not before. Students are taught to look at primary sources and discuss whether/what their bias was. So two eye-witness or contemporary accounts of the Peterloo Riots/Massacres would be very different, for example, depending on the point of view of the personage involved.

3 The term 'mediation' is not synonymous with 'fakery' or 'dishonesty'. There is no contradiction between opposing 'fakes' and accepting mediation.


09 Feb 20 - 06:30 AM (#4033144)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

It also seems to me that when some of the songs were first composed they were themselves examples of mediation. Songs based on historical events might count, whether written soon after the events in question or later on.


09 Feb 20 - 06:34 AM (#4033145)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Steve: you asked which index I was lacking. It is only part of the index to Roud and Bishop's History of English Folk Song. The one in my copy ends on page 740 half way through 'k'. It is irritating, but, as I said, it was 2nd hand and not too expensive.


09 Feb 20 - 06:41 AM (#4033148)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

I just looked up mediation and related words in the OED. Seems the original mediator was Jesus Christ mediating between God and Man; later applied to the Pope's role; and it is first used in something like Harker's sense by Chaucer, describing his role as a scientific popularizer in his treatise on the astrolabe.


09 Feb 20 - 06:45 AM (#4033149)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Brian: yes, this quotation sums up Harker thinks of Sharp's educational project - as outlined and justified in 'Some Thoughts' - quite neatly. It was re-reading Julia Bishop in Roud that reminded me that this was the overall thrust of that work.

The potential issues Sharp's project raises in my mind are somewhat at a tangent but not wholly irrelevant.

I was once impressed with the idea of a 'spiral curriculum', the idea that whatever level you were teaching your subject at you could teach it with intellectual honesty. Giving kids songs with lyrics largely by Marson and letting them think or teaching them that these were folk songs passed down through the ages strikes me as intellectually dishonest.

Marson seems to have been an interesting character in his own right.


09 Feb 20 - 06:50 AM (#4033151)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Jack: That last post is a gem.


09 Feb 20 - 07:06 AM (#4033154)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

What do the songs tell us about the people? Well, let's start with what Gerould said. Harker, as it happens, uses a passage that I had noted down when reading Gerould for myself. This is Gerould's view of 'the folk' based on his reading of the songs:

there is frequently displayed an insensitiveness to suffering that appals nerves more finely drawn, an impassivity in the face of life's worst outrages that reveals the equilibrium of a childlike and healthy race. Vices and virtues, in so far as they motivate ballad stories, are the vices and virtues of rather primitive folk; the strong sensations that animate them are what would be needed to move their simple hearts.

For me, it's the 'equilibrium of a childlike and healthy race' that cries out to be unpicked here.

Further, the whole thing seems to be an example of Jack a Nory. This terms comes from a nursery song I learned as a child (not doubt as a result of some mediator packaging it up in a book for sale to conscientious parents):

I'll tell you the story
Of Jack a Nory,
And now my story's begun;
I'll tell you another
Of Jack and his brother,
And now my story is done

It was later used as the title of a BBC TV children's story programme.

I'm also a bit confused: are we supposed to regard the mediators with reverence as giants upon whose shoulders we tread, or as fools trying to catch fog in a bottle?


09 Feb 20 - 07:09 AM (#4033155)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Somebody asked what I meant by Jackanory. So I answered that eventually.


09 Feb 20 - 08:16 AM (#4033166)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

'the "two men called Laing and Sharpe" were Scotland's most scholarly antiquarians. The manuscript could not have fallen into better hands. Why didn't the project go ahead?' Jack.

The project did go ahead. It was Sharpe and Laing who saw Buchan's 1828 ms/proof through the press. They professed to have edited it but all this amounted to was anglicising some of Buchan's inconsistent Scoticisms.

Presumably Harker got his potted bio of PB from Walker's detailed biography, of which both Jim and I have copies.

I don't think Child outright uses the words 'unscrupulous faker' in ESPB, but I could check. More probably in his correspondence somewhere, but it might take me a while to find it.

Pseu, if you let me have your email address I can easily scan the rest of the index and send you it. My email address is in lots of places all over the internet but it starts with gardhams and ends with hotmaildotcom.


09 Feb 20 - 08:45 AM (#4033169)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

Sharpe was totally intolerant of mythologizing bollocks (privately he thought Scott was a pompous twat). It would have taken some pretty good fakery to get past him.


09 Feb 20 - 08:55 AM (#4033170)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

The sheer volume of material Buchan produced would have daunted even him. How sure are you he wasn't part of the plot? You need to look at at least a number of ballads in detail and do some serious number-crunching to be aware of the extent of Buchan's creative capabilities, but the easy one is that most of Buchan's ballads are at least half as long again as anyone else's and they are 'eked out' with Child's 'nauseous repetition' overdoing the incremental repetition that is naturally found in the ballads, and overdoing the commonplaces, and adding in completely fresh material found in no other versions. Scott did this of course, but nowhere near to the extent Buchan did it.


09 Feb 20 - 09:05 AM (#4033172)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Richard Mellish

Jim said
> Then why use terms like "fake" and "dishonesty", and why imply that they did what they did for money (there's little solid evidence for any of these accusations here)
If these people did what they did for the reasons you and others suggest, why isn't Purslow guilty of the same things ?<

Pseud has already pointed out the difference between mediation (which can take many forms for many reasons, good or bad, money being one of them) and 'fakery' or 'dishonesty'.
> The term 'mediation' is not synonymous with 'fakery' or 'dishonesty'. There is no contradiction between opposing 'fakes' and accepting mediation.<

As for Purslow: here is the beginning of his Foreword to The Constant Lovers (the only one of the series of which I have the original edition rather than the revised edition):

> Like its predecessors - "Marrowbones" and "The Wanton Seed" - this is essentially a book of songs to sing; accordingly I have presented them in as complete a form as possible. A great many of the texts could not be given exactly as the singers sang them as they were incomplete to some degree and, in one or two cases, almost incomprehensible; neverthless, I have endeavoured to retain everything I could of what was noted down from the singers.<

That is clear as crystal. Purslow mediated. He explained his mediation (though not the details of which bits of text came from where, thus giving the editors of the new editions a lot of work). He did not fake. Whereas some earlier editors did fake, though we may never know how much of any given ballad was fake and how much was genuine.


09 Feb 20 - 09:14 AM (#4033173)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Thanks, Steve, on several counts. You are very kind!

You have clarified something that Harker didn't make clear, or at least I didn't find it clear and I did read it through a couple of times. So a thumbsdown for Harker for me on that.

Here's where I found the quotation about Child and Buchan:

https://muse.jhu.edu/chapter/288234/pdf

Fourth line down? Not sure about the authors' p of v; they refer to Child as a 'Godhead'.

But it's in the cannot afford to get at just now category of online resource. :(


09 Feb 20 - 09:20 AM (#4033174)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Harker does cite Murray and also on Buchan it would appear James M'Conechy (1881) in Motherwell, (1881). As I said, I didn't find the referencing wholly useful here, though compared with A L Loyd for example, it's a dream. To the point where I would have to look in Motherwell to be sure what if anything about Buchan Harker found there!


09 Feb 20 - 09:27 AM (#4033175)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

sorry obvs we stand on shoulders not tread … grey cells batteries low again.


09 Feb 20 - 10:07 AM (#4033180)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"and 'fakery' or 'dishonesty'."
I was addressing my question to Steve Gardham who has been using both terms as if they were going out of fashion from quite early on
As a singer, I used Purslow extensively - he did exartly what Steve's "fakers" did before him so why not apply the same insults to him ?
I have said from the beginning that 'mediation' was common and acknowledged, my point regarding Buchan has always been that he was doing nothing all the others were doing - there was no rule-book to say that shouldn't, which is why suggesting that they were dishonest is totally wrong

Dragging Bert Lloyd into this is as ridiculous as it comes - basically Bert was a singer looking for songs who wrote in order to inspire others to do the same
For me, the most inspirational expert on ballads by far was MacColl, not because he had the Freemason's handshake or had studied them minutely from behind his desk, but because as a singer, he approached them analytically in order to bring them back to life again as what they are - stories with tunes which had strong roots into the society that produced them
He breathed fresh life into 175 of them and made them work for 20th century audiences over and over again   
One of the greatest problems I have at present is indexing and annotating Ewan's work on the ballads - once you start listening to his talks it becomes impossible not to become totally engrossed.

The best analysis I have read on Motherwall's work is William B McCarthy's 'William Motherwell as Field Collector' published in The Folk Music Journal 1987 (Vol. 5, No 3)
Jim


09 Feb 20 - 10:59 AM (#4033189)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

If the collectors Harker covers had not collected and mediated what would we have?

Nearly finished the book. Moving onto Lloyd was a relief.


09 Feb 20 - 11:11 AM (#4033192)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"If the collectors Harker covers had not collected and mediated what would we have?"

An immeasurably poorer body of documented songs. But this would be of no significance to someone who didn't like folk song, nor considered it a valid concept.


09 Feb 20 - 11:55 AM (#4033201)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Meanwhile, in the parallel universe where we consider Fakesong's treatment of Sharp and Marson, Pseudonymous wrote:

"Giving kids songs with lyrics largely by Marson and letting them think or teaching them that these were folk songs passed down through the ages strikes me as intellectually dishonest.

I wonder what evidence you have for the preposterous claim that lyrics were "largely written by Marson"? At a guess, the 'evidence' will consist of "Harker says...", but even Harker goes nowhere near saying such a thing. Besides, the analysis presented in Fakesong of Sharp's and Marson's editing in Folk Songs in Somerset (not BTW a publication aimed at 'kids' as far as I'm aware) is very thin. Bearman has conclusively debunked the specific claims regarding Geordie and Wraggle-Taggle Gypsies – I’ve checked, and he is absolutely correct – and, while I was at it, I took a look at the other examples.

Harker comes down hard on the published text of The Unquiet Grave, of which he writes: “whole verses are evidently composed, and others are strangely jumbled... Ironically, the new verses are laced with sensationalism and bourgeois sentimentality of the most vulgar kind.” He could, of course, have checked Sharp’s notes to the song, which state: ”Mrs Ree’s words have been supplemented from other versions.” Sure enough, if you check Sharp’s and Baring-Gould’s manuscripts, you can find all four of the added verses, pretty well word-for word, in alternative variants of the song . Neither Sharp nor Marson made up any of them.

Then there’s the complaint that “The mildly erotic implications of what had been the sixth verse of Sign of the Bonny Blue Bell are enough to ensure its excision.” Verse 6 reads:
‘On Tuesday night when I go to bed
With my precious jewel that I lately wed
Farewell and adieu to my maidenhead...’
‘Mildly erotic’ by modern standards, maybe, but quite explicit in meaning and not publishable in a mainstream songbook in 1905.

Of Sweet Kitty, Harker writes that it “seems to have been patched up with bits of Mrs Overd's version.” No shit, Sherlock! The song notes are open in stating that Mrs Overd’s words were fragmentary and that Marson had “endeavoured to reconstruct the song.” So no subterfuge there, then, although the notes don’t mention that the song has had a verse cut in which Kitty offers her lover ‘kisses and comforts’ before creeping from his bedroom. The bowdlerization is again perfectly understandable, though I will admit that Marson’s rewritten lines are pretty execrable..

More follows shortly...


09 Feb 20 - 11:57 AM (#4033202)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

[Harker v Sharp & Marson continued]

To deal quickly with the other cited examples of editorial tampering:

Fakesong “the direct confrontation in As I walked through the Meadows is taken back into a passively-recorded verbal exchange, defusing the live conflict.”
What actually happened: In verse 1, “I says” is changed to “I said”, and “said she” to “she answered.” Hardly altering the sense of the exchange!

Fakesong “In The Trees they do grow high, the girl is deprived of her active part in putting an end to the boy's growing.”
What actually happened: The line “she put an end to his growing” is altered to “she saw an end to his growing.” It’s true this does alter the sense, but Sharp and Marson were no doubt aware from other versions of the song that any idea of the young male protagonist having been killed by his wife ran contrary to the standard plot (“cruel death put an end...” is the broadside text). Similarly, where Harry Richards sang “his grief was growing grief” (sic), Marson changed it to the more conventional “his grave was growing green”. Again Marson’s intervention is mentioned in the song notes.

Fakesong “the fulfilled relationship in the original text of Foggy Dew is scrupulously removed into a dream-world of adolescent wish fulfilment; and mawkish sentimentality replaces active physical love wherever necessary.
What actually happened:The claim is correct. But could anyone seriously imagine lines like “come into my bed, my fair pretty maid”, or “there they laid all that long night” getting past the publishers? It’s true that Marson’s rewrite is pretty awful – but again it is explicitly acknowledged in the notes.

Fakesong: Marson's penchant for fairy-stories erupts gratuitously into The Bank of Green Willow - 'For the ship was pixy-held...'
What actually happened: The song notes explain that, as collected in England, variants of this song have a hole in the narrative where an explanation of the ship’s becalming ought to be. It is explained clearly that Marson (while leaving the collected verses intact) has written an additional verse inspired by Kinloch’s text, which mentions an intervention by ‘fey folk’. Nothing to do with fairy stories.

It would be tempting to ask, “Is that the best you can do?” Out of 27 songs, Fakesong is able to identify just seven examples to justify the claim of a widespread ‘doctoring’ of texts: three instances of bowdlerization (two directly acknowledged by he authors), one filled plot hole, one correction to a more standard narrative, one collation incorrectly claimed as Marson’s composition, one trivial amendment, and two apparently fabricated examples. It is also clearly untrue to claim that Marson “only occasionally acknowledged what he was actually doing” and that it was his practice to “extract [...] parts of the texts [from] the song-culture.” Most of the texts were preserved in a form very close to the original.

Well, that occupied a wet and windy afternoon!


09 Feb 20 - 12:48 PM (#4033210)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

Thanks for that, Brian
I enjoyed reading it.


09 Feb 20 - 01:50 PM (#4033225)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

Me too.


09 Feb 20 - 01:56 PM (#4033228)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Me too. Thank you.

I now fully accept that all the lyrics in the books Sharp produced for schools were bona fide as made by an illiterate peasant without any formal training whose mind was formed solely by the ups and downs of life. :)

Plainly Wikipedia is woefully wrong when it speaks of Sharp bowdlerising materials for schools.


09 Feb 20 - 02:23 PM (#4033241)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Should have put Baring-Gould, of course!


09 Feb 20 - 02:56 PM (#4033248)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Thanks folks, it was fun to do.


09 Feb 20 - 03:02 PM (#4033250)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

If you want a good insight into Sharp's politics and leanings the Marson biography is very good.


09 Feb 20 - 03:03 PM (#4033252)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Me too. Especially as I had just read that section of "Fakesong" and recognised that some rebuttal of what is said required detailed knowledge.

Some sticks with which Harker beats Sharp rely on Sharp's own writings. It seems a fair point that many who sang for Sharp were not peasants by any definition. Similarly it seems to be Sharp's own accounts that indicate that some songs may have come from early 19C 'commercial' sources. All credit to Sharp for recording information that went against his own theories. Transparency rather than fakery. I wonder if Sharp's story for the lecture circuit and lobbying for folk song in education avoided some of the loose ends in his actual collecting (and recording for posterity).


09 Feb 20 - 03:25 PM (#4033255)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

About the lobbying. I found Harker's take on the early years of the FSS interesting. I haven't tracked down Hubert Parry's Inaugural Address yet but am intrigued by Harker's quotes. In searching for it I was amused to see that the first few issues of the Journal used close to a black-letter font on the title page but changed before long to something less Germanic. I wonder how the meeting about that went.

Harker makes his big political point, presaged in the quote from Marx and Engels at the start of the section, about the middle classes telling the common folk what was good for them. OK, yes, but they couldn't help being middle-class and as such had a chance of getting the ear of the other middle-class people who were setting up the curriculum. Promoting the music of the common folk over the 'commercial music-hall rubbish' is a bit like the current 'political elite' thinking salty and sugary foods pushed by commercial firms should be taxed so that we eat more fruit and vegatables. Or, better, the move from the 1960's on to get fiction into schools that wasn't all by middle-class writers about the things that middle-class kids do.

I for one am happy that what we sung at primary school in the 1950's was influenced by that movement rather than having justr posh songs aimed at posh kids. (plus Hymns Ancient & Modern ...)


09 Feb 20 - 03:47 PM (#4033259)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe Offer

I still hear many songs that learned as a kid, but I notice now that they have lyrics that I'd never sing to a ten-year-old. So, I wonder if the versions I heard as a kid of "Big Rock Candy Mountain" and "Little Brown Jug" and many others were bowdlerized, or if I just didn't notice the naughty parts. And are the cleaned-up versions inauthentic, or did songs have cleaned-up versions for the kids from their very beginnings?
-Joe-


09 Feb 20 - 05:37 PM (#4033274)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

'I for one am happy that what we sung at primary school in the 1950's was influenced by that movement rather than having justr posh songs aimed at posh kids. (plus Hymns Ancient & Modern ...)'

Me too, jag.
The first song I ever sang in a folk club was the version of Sally Brown I'd learnt at school. Wraggle-taggle Gypsies, Jolly Wagoner, the Keeper and all the rest must have contributed to my early love of folk song.

I also had no qualms at recording the versions sung by farm labourers who had learnt them at school, along with those they had learnt in their communities.

Sharp didn't alter much of The Keeper though we kids had no idea of the real meaning. I sometimes wonder if Sharp did.


09 Feb 20 - 05:42 PM (#4033276)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Actually, as I think I said already, just about the first thing I ever learned about Cecil Sharp was that he took the rude bits out of folk songs and since I must have been about 13 at the time this idea definitely did not come out of Harker.

Also, folk discussions being what they are, there are disputes about whether some sexual interpretations (eg some made by Vic Gammon) reflect how the original singers (whoever they may have been) or perhaps just subsequent ones (….) would have put on the song. Once again a grey areas with differing opinions.

But I think mostly we have managed to discuss, not fall out. And that is a good thing.


09 Feb 20 - 06:12 PM (#4033281)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

I'm pretty sure I remember some research about songs having alternative rude and clean versions depending on which members of the community (eg mixed company vs all female) were present. Barre Toelken, maybe?


In 'Sweet Kitty' (a song of seduction) Kitty smiles and says of her outwitted lover, "there goes my beau." When the singer, Emma Overd, first met Cecil Sharp she twirled him around in an impromptu dance in the street while calling to onlookers, "Here's my beau, come at last!". I wonder whether she enjoyed an internal giggle when she sang 'Sweet Kitty' for him...


09 Feb 20 - 06:17 PM (#4033282)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

QUINCE
Well, we will have such a prologue; and it shall be written in eight and six.

BOTTOM
No, make it two more; let it be written in eight and eight.

I don't know where I read the idea, but the above representation of a couple of 'peasants' seems to me to potentially contradict Sharp's view of the unlettered folksong creator, with no means of discussing his art, though to be fair they are discussing a prologue not a ballad and Shakespeare is making fun of them. And to be fair this is perhaps not quite as early as Sharp imagines folk songs go back? Not sure about this. But look at the metre they choose.

The focus on meter interested me because it links words and tunes. The one fits the other (and if it doesn't, Sharp will alter it to make published versions more usable).

It was published in 1600. Many ideas in the play the extract is from came from Ovid's Metamorphoses, which had been translated into English. But a host of other sources are involved. This shows one way that relatively themes from 'classics' got disseminated in those times. Because if you could afford a penny to get in, you could go to the theatre in Shakespeare's time, and lots of people did.

If you have not seen this before it might interest you.


10 Feb 20 - 03:04 AM (#4033310)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"I enjoyed reading it."
I would like to add my thanks to Brian's posts - they have helped to finally put to bed everything I found offensive about 'Fakesong' when I first read it - it took me several goes when I first tried it
I had to put it aside for considerably lengths of time on several occasions because of the anger and frustration it evoked.
It reminds me of a number of occasions we have been approached by University or College students seeking advice on folk song
Most were genuinely interested in the subject, but some obviously wished to impress their examiners and chose to do so by trying to say something 'different'
Harker seems to have done this by choosing to largely ignore the advice he was given and by distorting or exaggerating the known facts to an often outrageous degree.
Brian's step-by-step placing his claims beside what actually happened puts this approach in a nutshell

At the time, Fakesong was more or less rejected by the committed folk enthusiasts - unfortunately, now that the survival of Folk Song as a seriously regarded art form depends on clarity and a clear understanding of the uniqueness and social importance of the genre, a few seem to clung on to Harker's distortions and, in doing so, have added to the "nobody knows what folk song is any more" fog that hangs over the folk scene like an old London Pea-souper.
I'm afraid I would put Steve Roud's otherwise admirable, 'Folk Song in England' and his (and other's) redefining of the term 'folk' to include "everything the folk sang", very much a part of that 'foggy' problem.

As the founders of the 'Irish Tradition Music Archive' appear to have decided when they were setting up their invaluable organisation, the best way to guarantee a future for your music was to make sure that you yourselves understood it in ll its significance and uniqueness
That is why they have helped create a situation where Irish traditional music has been more-or-less guaranteed an at least two generation future

I would like to make clear that I am referring only to what appears to be happening in England; the magnificent 'Kist o' Riches' site seems to indicate that Scotland doesn't have the same miasma hanging over its traditional music
The mammoth Carpenter Collection can only help add to that clarity (as did the magnificent 8 volume Greig/Duncan collection before it) though it would be interesting to imagine what kind of 'jobbie' Harker would have deposited on them had he got his hands on them !
Jim Carroll


10 Feb 20 - 06:22 AM (#4033333)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I predicted excremental comment.


10 Feb 20 - 06:23 AM (#4033334)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

I would like to make clear that I am referring only to what appears to be happening in England; the magnificent 'Kist o' Riches' site seems to indicate that Scotland doesn't have the same miasma hanging over its traditional music
True, but at the same time, there are some pretty dubious characters represented in that worthy collection. Try, for example, searching that database for the words "Vic Smith".


10 Feb 20 - 06:29 AM (#4033336)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Well, didn't you say earlier in the thread that you're now laying claim to 'traditional singer' status, Vic? ?


10 Feb 20 - 06:29 AM (#4033337)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Second question mark should have been a smiley! What went wrong??


10 Feb 20 - 07:20 AM (#4033344)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

What Brian has, of course, demonstrated is, in some detail, that "Fakesong. The Manufacture of Folksong 1700 to the Present Day" by Dave Harker is not a book about fakes and forgeries, despite a widespread 'idee fausse' that it is.

I have made this point several times.


10 Feb 20 - 07:29 AM (#4033345)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"I predicted excremental comment."

"Try, for example, searching that database for the words "Vic Smith"."
You'd forgive a site as good as that a few errors :-)

"What Brian has, of course, demonstrated is, in some detail, that "Fakesong. The Manufacture of Folksong 1700 to the Present Day" by Dave Harker is not a book about fakes and forgeries, despite a widespread 'idee fausse' that it is."
And there it is
You must tell fortunes
Jim Carroll


10 Feb 20 - 07:38 AM (#4033346)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"Fakesong" is not a book about fakes and forgeries, despite a widespread 'idee fausse' that it is."

The alleged 'fakes and forgeries' were a key part of Harker's attack on the concept of folk song. What I've tried to demonstrate was that, in this respect at least, the scholarship was extremely poor and agenda-driven.

One of Vic Gammon's complaints is of having "barely digested Harker fed back" to him by academics who wish to invalidate the whole field of folk music studies. Steve Roud's work is in a different league of scholarship.


10 Feb 20 - 08:09 AM (#4033349)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

1 In fact it almost seems fair to describe the belief that "Fakesong" is a book about fakes and forgeries as an "idee fixe".

2 To the best of my knowledge nobody on this site can claim to be either a peasant/member of the common folk *as Sharp defined them* or a 'remnant' of such peasantry, though as Sharp was not really clear about what he meant by 'remnant', it is difficult to be clear here. I am aware of shifting definitions and emphases through time (and you don't need Harker's historical survey to be aware of this, though it certainly brings the changes into focus) and that within certain definitions of 'traditional' present parties may be able to lay claim to be 'traditional' or 'revival' singers. But they are not Sharp's 'folk'.

3 It might be worth reading what Brian wrote with some care: in many cases he admits that Sharp tinkered, and offers excuses for it or attempts to offer pleas in mitigation (hate courtroom metaphors - but too lazy to think of another). In some cases he agrees with Harker. This shows commendable open-mindedness.

4 Nobody as yet as considered what Sharp and/or his various collaborators did with the **music**. He *harmonised* it. He set the songs down with clear and unvarying metres. Referring to Sharpe's own field observations, he does not change key mid way through a song (or more subtly in the course of a song as has been commented on in the work of some 20th century 'traditional' singers). He does not change the tune in the course of a song or from iteration to iteration. He selected one tune for each song.


10 Feb 20 - 08:32 AM (#4033352)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Brian,

Interesting comment as usual. I absolutely share Gammon's impatience with 'barely digested Harker'.


10 Feb 20 - 08:39 AM (#4033354)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Vic Smith

Second question mark should have been a smiley! What went wrong??


10 Feb 20 - 08:48 AM (#4033356)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"present parties may be able to lay claim to be 'traditional' or 'revival' singers. But they are not Sharp's 'folk'."

We didn't say we were. Vic had his tongue slightly in cheek, I think, and there are people who could be said to straddle the divide, but most of us retain a distinction between 'Revival' and 'Tradition'.

"in many cases he admits that Sharp tinkered, and offers excuses for it or attempts to offer pleas in mitigation"

Just about everybody who has ever published collections of songs for singing has been obliged to 'tinker', with the exception of Roud & Bishop who purposely chose not to. Even the best material collected in the field is often flawed in some way that might make it an unattractive prospect for the singer. I use a lot of original field-collected songs, but I change just about all of them in ways from superficial to significant, where possible using other collected versions as Sharp did. Variation is built in to the subject matter, so there is no definitive version. To explain that material once considered obscene had to be bowdlerized is not an 'excuse'.

"He *harmonised* it. He set the songs down with clear and unvarying metres. He does not change the tune in the course of a song or from iteration to iteration. He selected one tune for each song."

This is true of the books of songs arranged for piano. Not the case with his Appalachian collection, which prints multiple melodic variants of most of the titles, rhythmic irregularities, and individual singers' variations. His field notes (now easily accessible) transcribe all of these as well. Most singers then and (with some exceptions) now would find that kind of information distracting.


10 Feb 20 - 08:49 AM (#4033357)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Come on Vic, what's the secret?


10 Feb 20 - 08:52 AM (#4033358)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

"He does not change the tune in the course of a song or from iteration to iteration. He selected one tune for each song.

He discusses all that in "Some Conclusions". Have a look at his transcription of Henry Lancombe's variations (pages 21 and 22) which I asked about a couple of days ago.

I may have got the wrong impression, but that one I get from reading about Sharp is that so far as transcriptions made at the time, by ear, go he was better than most in the pre-phonograph days.


10 Feb 20 - 08:58 AM (#4033359)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Crossed with Brian Peters. My impression seems to be on the right lines.

"... I change just about all of them in ways from superficial to significant ..." The pebble polishing goes on.

(I copied the smiley from the page source of Vic Smith's post)


10 Feb 20 - 09:25 AM (#4033363)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

Re Pseud's last post:

Point 1: the "Fakesong" chapter in "One for the Money" may make it clearer what the title was intended to imply - that "folk song" as generally perceived in Anglo-America is not, and can't become, an expression of class consciousness with revolutionary potential. He sometimes says folkie leftists were deluding themselves about this, sometimes he seems to imply deliberate self-promotion because the political facts were stark staring obvious. But the question of whether the raw material was sometimes bogus is very secondary.

Point 4: Roud and Bishop are helpful on this, with their comparison of Sharp with Grainger. Like Bartok, Grainger used a sound recorder and notated what it told him. Which meant irregular rhythms, variation from verse to verse and microtonality (to the point of modal modulation). And in the last point, Grainger was far in advance of his successors - try persuading anyone who sings with a guitar or in front of a band with keyboards and a sax to do it. (More - no revival singer I know of has ever tried to get inside the idiom and understand what the microtonality is doing. Here, the idioms of the Middle East and Mediterranean have 2000 years of fully conscious understanding to draw on).


10 Feb 20 - 09:39 AM (#4033364)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Regarding Joe's question about whether stuff was written for kids:

Bearman points out that Sharp's publications (not school-aimed ones) were aimed at consumers who had pianos, which were relatively cheap at that time. So they were aimed at family audiences. He also says that Sharp and Marson had to underwrite the costs themselves and get pre-publication sponsorship so they were taking the risk personally. One feels Bearman admires the capitalist risk-taking involved.

Jack: as always yr post is interesting and thought provoking. Tks.


10 Feb 20 - 10:25 AM (#4033368)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Nick Dow

Two examples of songs that have had some form of mediation, collected from Dorset.
The first is an obvious re-write of George Roper's traditional 'Harvest Song' better known to us as 'All of a row'. The Hammonds collected a second version from Henry Dickenson Gundry of Cerne Abbas, that appears to have come straight out of the drawing room, after a serious re-write. However there is no evidence that Parson Gundry was responsible.
Secondly I collected two versions of the 'Nutting girl' one with the usual 'Nutting we will go' chorus complete with sexual imagery, and the second from a retired ploughman called Lewis Downton of Stratton Dorset, who had a version that had no sexual connotations, and even the chorus had been changed to 'To-ran-a-Nanty Nan' refrain.
He had learned the song from his family.
In the light of the theme of this thread, where does the collector stand, when he is under the spotlight of his fieldwork? Objective? Subjective? Judgmental? Non Judgmental? or in my case completely mental! Could it be that the Folklorist can't do right for doing wrong? Where is the working class to be found, when we hear of a road sweeper being sacked for dealing in stocks and shares on his mobile, when he should have been cleaning the road. Not easy is it? I suppose the old saying comes to mind. 'If you don't know where you're going you are very unlikely to arrive.' Genuine question. Did Dave Harker ever collect any Folk Songs?


10 Feb 20 - 10:39 AM (#4033373)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

He was a collector in the same sense that Child was a collector. (In other words an editor.) The John Bell Song Collection.

Where does the collector stand? I suppose you do your best and don't attempt to deceive anybody. Unfortunately some of 'em didn't do that.


10 Feb 20 - 11:02 AM (#4033378)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Jack Campin

Where is the working class to be found, when we hear of a road sweeper being sacked for dealing in stocks and shares on his mobile, when he should have been cleaning the road?

Now there's a song challenge.


10 Feb 20 - 12:36 PM (#4033405)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

A song challenge:

QUINCE: … it shall be written in eight and six.

BOTTOM
No, make it two more; let it be written in eight and eight.


11 Feb 20 - 03:21 AM (#4033523)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"To the best of my knowledge nobody on this site can claim to be either a peasant/member of the common folk"
Can't speak for anybody here, but though the terminology might have changed somewhat down the years, I doubt if there are many here who woudn't be happy to hold their hands up to coming from "common" origins - some of us wear our background as a badge

For all Sharp's problems in coming from the age he did, one of the things that distinguishes him from Harker and his disciples is the respect he had the older generation of singers, and for the songs they sang, or that's the impression I get from reading 'Some Conclusions' or that highly respectful but analytical biography by Fox-Strangeways

We chose the title for our article on Walter Pardon from a conversation we had with a well-known folkie who insisted Walter Pardon and other source singers couldn't tell the difference between 'Broomfield Hill' and 'When the Fields are White With Daisies" - "why should they, they were simple countrymen"
That attitude persists, and while it does we will never begin to understand the uniqueness of folk songs and how they resonated among the people who sang them
That is the point that Harker overlooked or ignored when he embarked on his crusade to prove 'folk song' was 'Fake News'   

From an interview with Walter:

J.C.         If you had the choice Walter... if somebody said to you one night they were going to ask you to sing say half-a-dozen or a dozen songs even, of all your songs, what would be the choice, can you think offhand what you would choose to sing?

W.P.         The Pretty Ploughboy' would be one, that's one; 'Rambling Blade' would be another one, 'The Rambling Blade' would be two, 'Van Dieman's Land' three, 'Let The Wind Blow High or Low', that'd be four, 'Broomfield Hill', that's five, 'Trees The Do Grow High', six, that'd be six.

Despite claims to the contrary, in our over thirty years experience of collecting, Walter appeared to be the rule rather than the exception
Jim Carroll


11 Feb 20 - 05:29 AM (#4033538)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

Did Dave Harker ever collect any Folk Songs?
I very much doubt it.
there are people involved with folk music who are doers and others who are trying to make a reputation for themselves by being negative or controversial. i doubt if Harker has ever collected any folk song or run a festival or run a folk club.


11 Feb 20 - 05:59 AM (#4033544)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

The Big Red Songbook is a song collection, some of which you'd have been hard put to find anywhere else when it came it. He's published a LOT about folk music, particularly from the North-East of England.

Given the low opinion of guest-booking folk clubs he expresses in "one for the Money" (an opinion I largely share) I can't imagine him ever running one.


11 Feb 20 - 06:42 AM (#4033555)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

The Big Red Song Book (Protest songs) includes quite a few newly composed songs (including for some unfathomable reason, 'First Time Ever), not of which the were approached for permission for their use
Harker was the editor, the authors were Geoff White and Mal Collins
I don't think his involvement in that publication indicates much of an interest in folk song, neither do his comments in 'One For the Money'
The only song I have ever known him to write in at length was one I am totally unfamiliar with, 'The Real Arthur O'Bradley O' (I do know of 'Arthur O'Bradley's Grey Mare' but have no idea what makes the other 'real')

When Harker was writing I understood the North Easter folk clubs were doing pretty well for guests and residents, but 'good and bad' always has been a matter of taste as long as you stuck to the label on the tin, as far as I'm concerned
Jim Carroll


11 Feb 20 - 06:50 AM (#4033559)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Fakesong is actually dedicated to 'Maureen, ex-sectretary, Cutty Wren Folk Club, Redcar, Yorkshire'.

As Jack says, The Big Red Song Book demonstrates Harker's interest in active singing, but there's not much traditional stuff in there. I would hazard a guess that he regarded Sharpian folk song with disdain - you'll be hard put to find a word of praise for Sharp or any of the other collectors in noting down all that material, whereas people like me regard that as a huge achievement in itself.


11 Feb 20 - 07:08 AM (#4033563)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

Harker dedicated it to Maureen, Redcar folk club was run by John Taylor.
MY POINT STILL STANDS HE WAS NOT AN ORGANISER OR DOER HE NEVER RAN A FOLK CLUB OR FESTIVAL AND I DOUBT IF HE EVER RAN A FOLK CLUB,I doubt if he ever collected any folk songs
However he does appear to be controversial and possibly thought that this would help sell his book.as far as i am concerned he is just another wanker


11 Feb 20 - 07:18 AM (#4033566)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

i should have said somebody who likes to intellectually masturbate .Cecil Sharp was a doer , he got on his bike and collected a vast amount of songs, and i am indebted to him.


11 Feb 20 - 07:52 AM (#4033576)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Well, I think it's time to go out on the porch and consider John Moulden's suggestions about being politer than polite. That and the policies of this web site.

For me, the questions of whether or not Dave Harker ever collected any songs or ran a folk club or produced a book of songs are immaterial to the value or otherwise of his book.

Speaking hypothetically, a poster who had repeatedly misrepresented other posters, and who continued to do this despite being asked not to do it would lack credibility as a mediator of what anybody said.

Undated quotations from recorded conversations between folksong activists and their close friends do not for me carry much weight in providing to our knowledge of the past.

"the terminology might have changed somewhat down the years". I wonder whether this might be interpreted as not registering the fact that it isn't the 'terminology' has changed: the definitions have changed. Harker is just one in a long line of commentators who have pointed this out. For some A L Lloyd played a crucial part in this.

Just a reminder that when Sharp referred to the peasants, he meant illiterate people. So if people here wanted to claim in writing on an internet site that they do fall within Sharp's repeated and firmly stated definition of peasantry, on the basis that they are 'common', that would be up to them. Such a claim would strike a person with even a passing acquaintance of Sharp's writing as the complete absurdity that it is. Especially were such a person from a large urban conurbation and had undergone various sorts of training, not least at the hands of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger.


11 Feb 20 - 07:56 AM (#4033579)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Above post garbled: but you'll get the sense of it.


11 Feb 20 - 07:57 AM (#4033580)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

MY POINT STILL STANDS HE WAS NOT AN ORGANISER OR DOER HE NEVER RAN A FOLK CLUB OR FESTIVAL AND I DOUBT IF HE EVER RAN A FOLK CLUB

I've never stood for election as a UKIP candidate. I don't regard that as a failing.

The evaluation he gives in "One for the Money" (c.1980) is that folk clubs were a movement that was going nowhere except to provide a modest income to performers with low aspirations.   Was he wrong?


11 Feb 20 - 08:10 AM (#4033585)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

I have to say I find Bearman's tone irritating at times, but the comments he makes on the way people read Sharp seem reasonable in content. I shall therefore follow Brian in referring to what Bearman says:

'the issue is that Sharp's work ought to be judged on the evidence … and not on the basis of a farrago of false statements, misconceptions, misunderstandings … with its faults compounded by violent political prejudice'

This is simplified but the gist of it seems applicable to the uses some people make of their own mediations of Sharp's work. Anybody who imagines that Sharp saw the words of folk song as representing the working class or the lowest ranks in society seems plain wrong to me.

Bearman is quite scathing about the 2nd revival, seeing it as American-led . He also thinks it misrepresents Sharp. He points out that a substantial number of Sharp's informants were by no means 'working class'. He blames A L Lloyd for what he sees as a false view that folk songs were the voice of the working class/lower orders and that folk song was the cultural property of or the expression of the voice of the 'lower orders', as these constituted a class in Marxist terms.

I'm not saying I agree with Bearman, just pointing out that if you are looking for potentially harmed bathing babies then Bearman might be a good place to look.


11 Feb 20 - 08:43 AM (#4033595)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"but you'll get the sense of it."
Not much sense to make of it, as usual

"not least at the hands of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger."
For someone banging on about misrepresentation that takes the top prize
MacColl and Seeger never "trained anybody" - far from it
When MacColl was approached to teach by a number of established singers he refused
Instead, he set up a self-help group based on sharing skills and opinions - that was how the Critics Group worked for nearly ten years
You may add that little gem to the rapidly growing pile of things on which you have no knowledge whatever

You have no grounds for judging how reliable my statements are - you have never examined our work and you have no nowledge of the people we recorded
That lack of understanding never stopped Harker mind you
Jim Carroll
No - Harker did not have to be a collector to write about them, but if you were going to do that you needed to know how they worked and what they did
His book contains no discussion on how they got the songs nor what they did when they got them - neither the songs nor the source singers put in an appearance to any degree in his nasty little hit-list
Nor did he deal in any way with the later collectors, such as Lomax, Henderson, Delargy, Ennis, Fowke, Flanders..... and all the others who continued where Sharp and the rest left off

"Was he wrong?"
Absolutely Jack - the reviaval up to them was a grass-roots, cub-based affair almost entirely relying on voluntary effort by people who recieved nothing for the 'labours of love' they put in   
There were a few who made an extremely frugal living on bookings, but they were largely to give the regulars an occasional break
The only club I can remember in those days that relied on paid guests was the MSG in Manchester (I never bothered too much with the snigger snogwriter ones so I can't comment on them
Jim Carroll


11 Feb 20 - 10:40 AM (#4033622)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I am sorry, but Peggy Seeger is on record as stating that what she and MacColl were trying to do in the critics group was to train teachers. When discussing the break-up of that group she said that maybe the people were ready to got out, ready to be teachers themselves, but she and Ewan had not appreciated that. This was in a recently broadcast BBC TV interview. I have to choose whether to credit Seeger or you. I am afraid that on balance I feel Seeger is more likely to be correct regarding the intentions she and Ewan had.

Regarding the rest of your post, I don't have the time or the inclination to respond. You are welcome to the last word, and people will make of it what they will. It isn't really an issue.


11 Feb 20 - 10:59 AM (#4033627)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"“Eighteenth-century Scotland, there is no doubt at all, was a nation of ballad singers and ballad lovers."
By working as a group to work on each other's singing so ther vcould go back home and set up similar groups to do the same
Neither she or Ean trained anybody to do anything
I was in the Critics group for two years - Pat was a member for five
At the present time I am I am working on two hundred tapes of recordings of the meetings in order to deposit them with the National Sound Archive
Yo implied that there would have ben something wrong with being taught by either of them
Paggy, now in her mid eighties, is still one of the best instrumentalists in the field of folk song and Ewan's singing is still in great demand thirty years after hsi death
There were many people who would happily have queued up to be taught by either of them, but that's not what they did.
If you were around when we were discussing the Critics Group, you must have missed the script of a talk I gave at MacColl's 70th birthday symposium describing how the group worked
Ewan, Peggy and many of the group members were at that talk (as was Dave Harker, btw) - not one in attendance contradicted what I had to say
The script is still available for examination on Mucdcat's archive

That group did not "break up" - it ceased to work on song and some ex members set up similar groups
You don't have to "credit either of us - you just have to listen to what
has been said properly - that's the secret of learning things - something apparently way beyond you capabilities

"Regarding the rest of your post, I don't have the time or the inclination to respond. "
Nor the intelligence, obviously - that's why I wasn't aiming it at you
Jim Carroll


11 Feb 20 - 12:42 PM (#4033648)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: The Sandman

jack no one is taking about failing, harker comes across to me as a negative , deliberately controversuial self seeking publicist what i am talking about is that there are doers like shar, people that achieved something popitive [clooected a vast amount of songs] and people like harker who are negative find fault in sharp et have never done anything as regards collecting songs or running events which give people pleasure.
some people refer to it as half full half empty syndrome


12 Feb 20 - 03:51 AM (#4033752)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Derek Schofield

I believe that Maureen, as in the person Dave Harker dedicated the book, was his wife at the time.
Derek


12 Feb 20 - 04:39 AM (#4033758)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

I thought it was nice the way that at the end he gives a biography of himself in the same format as those for his mediators. I actually enjoyed the book from Lloyd onwards and found it thought provoking in a more postive way. A sense of humour comes through and the rather snide comments about Sharp his peers were replaced by something more in the style of a sarcastic review, such as you get in the liberal media.


12 Feb 20 - 05:34 AM (#4033766)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"a sarcastic review, such as you get in the liberal media."
Do you think that's the way the founders of a revival that gave us so much interest and pleasure should be presented in a supposedly serious work on a subject as important as folk song Jag ?
I'm afraid I don't but I do agree with your comparison (though I might be inclined to choose the term 'tabloid'
Jim Carroll


12 Feb 20 - 05:57 AM (#4033771)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

In the Appendix Harker describes himself at on point as "being a cheerful new middle-class traitor". I think some commments aimed at Lloyd, who was not really a collector, are in similar vein. I found many of his criticisms of Lloyd worth thinking about and probably valid. Despite the factional political differences Harker at time seems to show respect for Lloyd, and for McColl when he gets a mention.


12 Feb 20 - 05:58 AM (#4033773)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

By "in a similar vein" I mean not being as vicious as they could be read.


12 Feb 20 - 06:40 AM (#4033784)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Harker at time seems to show respect for Lloyd, and for McColl when he gets a mention."
Not sure I'd take that as a compliment
I had a run-in with him over my criticising his snide analysis of The Critics Group in my talk at the MacColl symposium
He very grudgingly accepted that he's based his opinion on hostile folkie hearsay rather than approaching MacColl or the Group (nothing new there)
That's the feeling I was left with having read 'Fakesong' and the folk bits of 'One For the Money'
Jim Carroll


12 Feb 20 - 06:55 AM (#4033786)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

Is there anybody Harker shows actual dislike or disrespect for, rather than saying they had limitations that need to be recognized?

In "One for the Money" the closest he gets to really losing it is over Johnny Handle's "Farewell to the Monty" - which he regards as reactionary nostalgic shite. But the reasoning is that he has a great deal of respect for Handle's talents and for the people he came from, he just thinks he could have done much better than he did in that song.


12 Feb 20 - 07:44 AM (#4033789)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

I think comments like "By January 1905, Sharp had used the Folk Song Society Journal in order to get more tunes into print" are disrespectful. Butit's difficult, to be sure if it is personal or aimed at him as a member of bourgoise expropriators as a class and at their vehicle for publication. He drops that sort of snide tone later in the book.


12 Feb 20 - 08:20 AM (#4033795)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Surely this has to rise above the personalities of the cloole cotrs and 'like and dislike' and be decided on what the collectors atually brought back and ae being accused of doing to them?

Until any discussion moves to where the songs fit (or don't fit) into the people's culture, this will be little more than shadow boxing
For me, a great piece of evidence in the Buchan controversy lies in the number of Buchan's versions that were found in the field long after Buchan departed the scene (according to Greig)
Jim Carroll


12 Feb 20 - 08:29 AM (#4033797)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

I think comments like "By January 1905, Sharp had used the Folk Song Society Journal in order to get more tunes into print" are disrespectful.

Why? It's no different from what the editors of all specialist journals do. He's not saying the tunes or editing were inferior, was he?


12 Feb 20 - 08:51 AM (#4033803)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Jim Carroll. I don't think "Fakesong" is about what the collectors brought back but about how they theorised about it.

There are many context where people have to theorise. Collectors who just collect and describe can only go so far. A butterfly collector who just collects and describes will never be regarded as a scientist. Sharp, to discuss things with his middle class pals, give lectures and promote the songs into schools has to have theories to talk about. Similarly Harker, writing a book published by an academic publisher, can't just give us all the ordered results of his reading - he has to have a theory. Bearman was doing it as part of a research training that would prepare him for the academic world.

There are places where theorising is optional so long as the research is good and readers are interested - many articles in Folk Music Journal are like that.


12 Feb 20 - 09:03 AM (#4033806)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

" It's no different from what the editors of all specialist journals do."

I think "By January 1905, Sharp had published more tunes in the Folk Song Society Journal" would be adequate for many editors. However, I keep forgetting that Harker's was using the device of treating Marxist theories as objective fact and writing as if for readers who believed that. So sneaking in the implication of exploitation (of the singers, not the journal I think) is consistant.


12 Feb 20 - 09:40 AM (#4033818)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

!There are places where theorising is optional "
Only if you do it in the context of the songs
It's is pointless to claim the songs ere fakes unless you produce the faked songs
Harker seems to have worked on the basis that they musi be fakes because of the characters of the collector - you have to produce you evidence before you can establish a motive
I agree entirely about 'butterfly collecting'
Sharp's argument was that the songs had to be gathered as soon as possible before they disappeared - a pretty valid one as far as I'm concerned
Tom Munnelly described his own position in Ireland as 'a race with the undertaker' in the second half of the 20th century - he was right , of course
WE worked in tandem with Tom - he suggested many of the singers we met, we concentrated on interviewing them rather than headhunting
It meant we got far less songs than we could have but masses of information that would otherwise have been lost - especially from the Travellers
I would guess that less of than half the recordings we made wer of songs with Walter Pardon and with the Travellers
We were a little more hurried with the Clare singers as we were limited to only annual visits to Ireland, but we still managed to glean a fir amount of information
Jim


12 Feb 20 - 09:40 AM (#4033820)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"Until any discussion moves to where the songs fit (or don't fit) into the people's culture,"

We have explained several times that one of the comments Harker makes about the mediators is precisely that discussion of the 'people's culture' is not a feature of their work. And Jag has just explained this point again.

Harker does not mention the Critics Group in the book we are discussing. Does he mention it in One For the Money?

And if so, can anybody who has read that give a view on whether Harker's view is 'snide'?

NB OED

* Counterfeit, sham, bogus. Also (more widely): inferior, worthless

* Insinuating, sneering, slyly derogatory.

If not, I'm interested to know where and when this view was expressed.


12 Feb 20 - 10:18 AM (#4033828)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

Harker does not mention the Critics Group in the book we are discussing. Does he mention it in One For the Money?
And if so, can anybody who has read that give a view on whether Harker's view is 'snide'?


Not that I noticed. He covers MacColl's entire career in a few pages, interwoven with biographical material on other figures of the time. He doesn't rate the results they achieved very highly but he doesn't fault them for trying what they did. And his account of the Communist Party's general influence on the folk scene shows no sign of snideness either.

I think he could have given us more on Charles Parker, who doesn't get much more than a namecheck, and on Paul Graney, who he obviously had a lot of respect for. Perhaps he was hoping to say more on Graney in another book.

The one figure who comes out of "One for the Money" presented in an unqualified glistening halo is Alex Glasgow. That bit of the book reads rather oddly. It's rather like the last chapter of Suetonius's "The Twelve Caesars", where after depicting the first 11 as a sordid gang of thugs and perverts, the last one (who was still alive and could have had Suetonius thrown to the lions) is given a full-on heroic apotheosis.


12 Feb 20 - 10:21 AM (#4033830)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I'm also curious about why Dave Harker was at a symposium relating to MacColl, leave alone getting involved in a 'set-to' about him?


12 Feb 20 - 10:49 AM (#4033834)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

It may be that the collectors did not discuss the culture of the people who they collected from because they thought general knowledge amongst their peers and any of their readership who were interested was adequate.

Sons of the minor gentry in the job of country parson 'spotting' the singers may have been socially isolated from their flock. However, they may have tended it, and years of filling in the occupations in the parish register, and flipping back through it to learn who was who, would have given them a good idea of the social structure.

When pointing out that Sharp's singers were not all illiterate peasants, and also towards the end of the book, Harker slips from his strict bourgoisie-proliatariat view of society. As the son of a small builder he would have known full well that village and small town society included many workers who were not simply wage-earners. Research into the workers history and culture is one of the things he calls for in his conclusions.


12 Feb 20 - 10:51 AM (#4033835)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

I'm ordering One For the Money. It sounds good. Some of my family were involved with popular music/variety, having learned their music skills in the army. But I don't think they made songs.


12 Feb 20 - 11:04 AM (#4033838)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

From the snippets searches into it on Google books throw up it looks more interesting than Fakesong. Songs get a mention!


12 Feb 20 - 11:08 AM (#4033839)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"We have explained several times "
Somewhat reminiscent of teachers who used the royl "we" to establish their authority
The tem "Fakesong" undermines the whole concept of a people's creative culture so if it's an omission of his and yours it's not going to be one of mine
We have spoken !

The Critics were referred to in 'One For the Money' when Harker claimed (incorrectly) that MacColl "trained singers" (p 155)
He went on to say (also incorrectly) that MacColl made no theoretical contribution to the folk scene, which was wildly inaccurate (again)
MacColl hasdn't learned the secret handshake`nor rolled his trouser leg up, but many of the seminars he and Peggy gave at festivals, and particularly to groups of teachers, dealt with the function of songs, to the singers and the communities, and their relationship to formal literature
His talks on the Ballads in particular were among the most popular ones he did
The work of the Critics Group was largely an examine of the voice and how it was used by source singers   
Harker chose to target MacColl and the Critics at a conference he spole at in Sheffield, which is what I took him up on, but he wrote about them in dismissive terms elsewhere
If possible, he knew even less of our work that our Pseud does, but that apparently isn't a barrier for some people apparently
In fairness, they aren't alone, Martin Carthy's efforts were wildly inaccurate too

Almost everybody who was anybody on the scene was at that symosium, friends and enemies alike
Lomax flew in from the States, Hamish Henderson came from Scotland and spoke about dirty songs, and a whole bunch of Theatre Workshop people attended and spoke, some of the 'Manchester mas trespass protesters came to pay their respects, a bunch of Travellers turned up out of the blue from several London sites..... even Arthur Scargill was there-.... a fabulous two days of talks and singing
We apparently missed one of the best sessions because we stayed in the bar all night and talked about Miners songs with Dave Douglas
Good days
Jim Carroll


12 Feb 20 - 12:06 PM (#4033852)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Fakesong:
"For all the world like a new-fangled anthropologist, or an Indian Trader with beads, Baring-Gould wrang all he could out of his privileged contact with country people, exploiting them and the curiosity-value they engendered in the book-buying bourgeois public, and talking up his worth..."

I don't think that's even-handed. 'Insinuating, sneering, slyly derogatory.' might begin to describe it.

See also the derogatory comments about Cecil Sharp that I posted on 04 Feb 20 at 11:13 AM.


12 Feb 20 - 12:11 PM (#4033855)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"one of the comments Harker makes about the mediators is precisely that discussion of the 'people's culture' is not a feature of their work."

The kind of in-depth interviews that Jim Carroll and other collectors carried out later in the 20th century were specifically aimed at filling that lacuna, and are surely deserving of praise.


12 Feb 20 - 12:13 PM (#4033856)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Interesting comment by Jack Campin about Paul Graney, who was more a collector of culture than purely of songs. His autobiography 'One Bloke' is a book I'd recommend.


12 Feb 20 - 12:40 PM (#4033864)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"who was more a collector of culture than purely of songs"
Very true
He was a fascinating man
He had been promising my mate, Terry Whelan "somthing that might interest you" for several year
I was staying with Terry when it arrived in the post
Eagerly, Terry put it on the tape recorded
Paul's voice came on, "I know you'll love this Terry" followed by recordings of the howling of a pack of Siberian wolves
Paul had overheard Terry expressing his love of Hammer Films
Jim Carroll


12 Feb 20 - 12:58 PM (#4033868)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Good tale, Jim.


12 Feb 20 - 01:35 PM (#4033873)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I guess I'll have to wait until I have a copy of Harker's other book and make my own mind up about what it says about the Critics Group and the tone in which it was said.

@ Brian: I don't think anybody is saying that they like Harker's tone in 'Fakesong': my question was specifically about comments relating to The Critics Group and a 'set-to' at a symposium. But thank you for an example of a less than ideal tone! Harker is I suppose making the point that Baring Gould was an outsider, and that he published writing about other people's culture in a commercial context with a middle class market in mind, all of which seem factual points. But the tone does seem intended to mock.

Bearman is full of much the same mocking tone when he speaks of Harker and Lloyd, and some Mudcat posters go above and beyond!

@ Jag: Bearman goes even further than Harker, and is particularly scathing about 'class' analyses.

I think this word 'common' as in 'common people' is worth another look. Sharp defines this in some Romanticised manner, and links it to illiteracy and lack of formal training or contact with the educated as we have seen. This is all too like Child's fantasy about the ballads originating with some ancient classless society where everybody had one culture. One sense of the word 'common people' was and still is in some contexts to differentiate 'commoners' from royalty and the nobility and the church. What's left when you take away the royals and the nobles is the common people. To suggest that there ever was one shared culture, untouched by literacy, or by contact with the educated, even among those whose livelihoods were most closely linked with the countryside seems to me to be unrealistic on various grounds.

Therefore, in so far as Harker might tend to suggest that it is a fallacy to imagine that one can identify some sort of unitary 'a people's culture' stretching back over centuries, then surely we have to agree with him, and I think, with Bearman also.


12 Feb 20 - 01:38 PM (#4033874)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

On those matters, I think I am more with A L Lloyd, who thought many songs had been originally written by minstrels and that literate people (including himself, as far as I can see) produced better songs than illiterate people.


12 Feb 20 - 01:59 PM (#4033878)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Did anybody pick up on Bearman's definition of a 'traditional song'? It seem to go something like 'a song that has been in circulation time out of mind'?

Sorry on Lloyd I only got part of the story: he doesn't think that once you have literacy you can have a 'purely oral' tradition, that is part of his point of view.

It may be that Ewan MacColl did make a significant theoretical contribution to the folk movement, but perhaps this should eventually be discussed on another thread?

Have a nice evening everybody.


12 Feb 20 - 02:10 PM (#4033880)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Bearman conducted his own analysis of Sharp's editing practices, looking for example at Series 4 of Folk Songs From Somerset.

He found 11 songs with only minor alterations of the text printed as collected, one of which was wholly as collected. He found 8 songs where the text had been augmented either by material from other singers or from printed texts. He found 4 cases of major alteration. He found 2 examples of 'compilations'. He then examines examples of Sharp's best and worst practices.

See page 173.


12 Feb 20 - 03:02 PM (#4033884)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

The first reported singing of rural workers having an oral tradition was when The Venerable Bede (died 735) complained about cattlemen interrupting one of his sermons by passing a harp around and singing disreputable secular songs
The first named folk son 'The wedding of The Frog and the Mouse' was identified as having been sung by 'shepherds' in Wedderburn's Complaynt of Scotland in 1549
It was still being collected in unique versions right into the sedecod half of the 20th century (from virtuoso fiddle player Martin Hayes's elderly father in Clare and from Annie McKenzie in Boho, Fermanagh
The Ballad, 'Hind Horn' which shares its plot with Homer's tale of the return of Odysseus, left Ireland with famine refugees and was recorded still being sung in New England in the 1930s
The non-Child ballad, 'The Bramble Briar' was used as a plot for one of Boccaccio's tales in The Decameron (latter half of the 14 century - it was still doing the rounds in Ireland as 'The Constant Farmer's Son' when we started recording in Clare - (we also got it from Travellers)
Local dancer Mikey Kelleher gave us versions of 'The mouse in the matchbox' story as joke - it was part of Rojas's 'The Spanish Bawd' (1499)
He also gave us a cante-fal version of The Sea captain and the Fiddler's Wife which appeared as a song in D'Urfey's 'Pills to Purge Melancholy' (1707) and a tale version of 'The Bishop of Canterbury' (dating back at least to the 16th century)   
I never get tired of telling of non'literate Traveller telling us the cante-fable 'The Silence Wager' whic has appeared as the song John Blunt (Dorset) and 'Get up and Bar the Door' (Scotland) over the centuries, but has existed as a tale all over the world for seveal millenia, the oldest reported being told as a tale of two Egyptian tomb robbers arguing about who should close the tomb door for fear they would be discovered by the Pharaoh's tomb guards....

These examples can be found one-hundred -fold in our folk song repertoires as oral tales and songs which have existed long before print and mass literacy

It is utterly stupid to deny there is no continuum to our oral traditions when the existence of such examples are as numeous as they are
Jim Carroll


12 Feb 20 - 06:56 PM (#4033910)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

* "It is utterly stupid to deny there is no continuum to our oral traditions "

What does this even mean?

* Somebody posted the following about Harker:

"I had a run-in with him over my criticising his snide analysis of The Critics Group in my talk at the MacColl symposium"

After asking for more information on this I concluded:

"I guess I'll have to wait until I have a copy of Harker's other book and make my own mind up about what it says about the Critics Group and the tone in which it was said."

And I shall. For though I asked, politely, no evidence has been provided to me that Harker was 'snide' in this, as defined by Brian a few posts ago. I don't think I have been provided with any evidence of an 'analysis' by Harker: a couple of factual statements don't really seem to me to amount to an 'analysis'. What I got instead was … well, it speaks for itself.


13 Feb 20 - 02:28 AM (#4033939)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"it is a fallacy to imagine that one can identify some sort of unitary 'a people's culture' stretching back over centuries"
That is exactly what Harker denied and what our ignorant friend put up - "fakesong" puts that stupid philosophy in one borrowed term (those who used it before Harker stole it meant something entirely different)
Questioning the term 'folksong' by calling it fake dismisses the idea that the people even had a culture
The same is implied by those who suggest that 'the folk' didn't make their songs but contacted the job out to incompetent writers to do the ob for them
The same people have also suggested that our folk tales originated from literary sources (if my memory serves me right Steve)
Which more or less reduces the cultural creativity of the English people to scrimshaw and knitting patterns (and who knows, maybe there were long forgotten businesses producing them)
Our folk song traditions died as their exponents turned from being active creators and re-creators to passive recipients, if that had always been the case we woldn't have any folk songs, as someone once argued argued on this forum, they would be no different than the output from the music industry
I think I may still have the quote somewhere Steve - I considered it important to save it at the time
Jim Carroll


13 Feb 20 - 02:34 AM (#4033940)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"no evidence has been provided to me that Harker was 'snide' in this, as defined by Brian a few posts ago."
Brian listed some of that in one of his best posts some time ago
The fact that you have chosen to ignore them is your problem
You don't listen to what you are told which is why you know so little about folk song
One of the first things I learned when starting when starting out on all this is 'If you lock an empty room that's what you end up with - an empty room
Jim Carroll


13 Feb 20 - 02:34 AM (#4033941)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"no evidence has been provided to me that Harker was 'snide' in this, as defined by Brian a few posts ago."
Brian listed some of that in one of his best posts some time ago
The fact that you have chosen to ignore them is your problem
You don't listen to what you are told which is why you know so little about folk song
One of the first things I learned when starting when starting out on all this is 'If you lock an empty room that's what you end up with - an empty room
Jim Carroll


13 Feb 20 - 06:45 AM (#4033963)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I am afraid I cannot agree with what Jim is saying. This is partly, again, because I do not think he has fully taken in what has been said and what has not been said. Just to correct one factual error, at no point has Brian ever provided evidence to support Jim's assertion that Harker made 'snide' remarks about people in his book 'One For the Money'. Neither has Jim. I think Jim's term for the way his posts are going on this topic would be 'ducking and diving'.

"Questioning the term 'folksong' by calling it fake dismisses the idea that the people even had a culture". This misrepresents the nature of Harker's arguments. My understanding is that the book 'One For the Money' is precisely about the culture of 'the people', and that is one good reason for reading it. Some of my family were musicians in local theatres/variety venues, which is another reason I am interested to read it.

For me, starting an argument that there was a long-standing oral culture by referring to two *written* texts in foreign languages, both of which have been translated into English multiple times, isn't a very good beginning. The key here is the fact that they were written.

There is, of course, a discussion to be had about the way in which narratives and narrative elements crop up in different cultures, and I have encountered various ways of analysing these elements in order to trace lineages, though even this is fraught with theoretical difficulties. But I have yet to see Jim engaging with these issues. I believe this is an area where Steve Gardham knows a lot. I have been dipping into some work by Atkinson which touches upon it.

Just to be clear, I have read an adult translation of Odyssey, and had books telling its stories when I was a child. I have also read various 20th century novels whose themes are taken from it. I have a copy of Boccaccio's Decameron. Jim is not 'telling me' anything by mentioning these writers.

Jim's accusations that I am 'stupid' and lacking intelligence and so on are a tad tedious, and I rather wish he would refrain from this sort of post.

I suspect that when Jim posts that I won't listen to what I am told, he means that I won't take what he says on a topic discussed within the world of folk as gospel. I don't see why I should. To given an example, I have read a lot of what Jim said about Roud's book Folk Song in England. My views on this differ from Jim's. I think it is a fine book.

I believe there are some areas in which my understanding and knowledge, while not by any means 'expert' are better than Jim's. The musical side of it would be one. I do recall having to point out to Jim an example of a singer using ornamentation when Jim had denied that the singer in question ever did any such thing.

Otherwise, thank you for sharing, Jim. I hope you have a nice day and that the weather is better where you are than it is here.

(Going out on the porch to ponder John Moulden's thoughts on how to carry out a discussion)


13 Feb 20 - 07:06 AM (#4033970)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"I am afraid I cannot agree with what Jim is saying."
Nothing new there

"Harker made 'snide' remarks about people in his book 'One For the Money'."
I've pointed out how much work MacColl and the critics into researching the voice and passing it on to others to the extent that a dozen or so similar groups using that research, including the one I ran in Manchester, and mor notably, the Birmingham Group which eventually became 'Banner Theatre'
Harker was aware of that work and those groups yet he claimed that MacColl never MacColl made no theoretical contribution to the folk scene
MacColl was noted for this theoretical work - it was as "snide" as it gets to pretend it never happened
You've been told this, now you are ignoring it - what Harker had must be contagious
Your own habit of rejecting what people say and announcing you will go off and read harker to find out if what has been said was true it pretty snide - as is claiming work you have not even read is "unreliable" - such as that Pat and I did,
" This misrepresents the nature of Harker's arguments. "
No it dousn't
The music you are describing is not what Harker concentrates on - it is @Folk Song' - 'The Voice of the People' as it is widely referred to - not "variety theatre" work

If you disagree with what I say about Roud or anything - fine - that's what we're here for
Just stating that you do without counter- argument means squat

I would read, mark and inwardly digest what John wrote - he's a wise man - I spoke to him yesterday and he confirmed his wisdom
Jim Carroll


13 Feb 20 - 07:10 AM (#4033971)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

1 "I attended a talk Harker gabe at MacColl's 70th birthday sypmposium, where some of his descriptions of the work of the Critics Group were so off beam that a number of the Group in the audience shouted out corrections from the floor - this was after the break-up"

Jim Carroll, further up this thread.

2 "I had a run-in with him over my criticising his snide analysis of The Critics Group in my talk at the MacColl symposium"

So,if I listen to 'what I am told', it looks as if Jim was twice involved in somewhat fractious interactions with Harker at this symposium, once at a talk Harker himself gave, and another at a talk Jim gave in which he referred to Harker's book 'One for the Money', criticising the comments Harker made in that book about the Critics Group? It looks as if folk symposiums might be things to stay well away from if you like a quiet life!


13 Feb 20 - 07:11 AM (#4033973)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

? symposia ?


13 Feb 20 - 07:23 AM (#4033978)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim was twice involved in somewhat fractious interactions with Harker"
I met him several times
At the last meeting we met he announced that he was refusing to take questions and had cut down on the number of public talks he gave because of the hostility his book had stirred up
Most fokk symposia I attended were pretty friendly gatherings - they still are   

I received this on line this morning from Academia
A Database of British and Irish Labouring-class Poets Tyson Betz

It looks a superb piece of work - anybody who believes England working people weren't poetically inclined should grab a copy
Jim Carroll


13 Feb 20 - 07:45 AM (#4033983)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Delighted to see that, of course, Betz includes Dave Harker as a source.


13 Feb 20 - 07:51 AM (#4033984)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

As it happens, I have taught poetry (and guitar) to lots of working class kids. I recall one almost non-literate pupil whose guitar work knocked spots off a lot of stuff you see in clubs. I think she could recognise melodic ornamentation when she saw it. She could produce it.


13 Feb 20 - 07:52 AM (#4033986)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

I guess I'll have to wait until I have a copy of Harker's other book and make my own mind up about what it says about the Critics Group and the tone in which it was said.

And I shall. For though I asked, politely, no evidence has been provided to me that Harker was 'snide' in this[...


This is all Harker says about the Critics in the earlier book; he's referring to the late 60s. Doesn't look snide to me.

MacColl, meanwhile, spent a considerable amount of time training singers, both at the Singers Club, and at more select gatherings of people (including the embryo Critics group), so as to carry on his methods and techniques. In public, MacColl made no serious theoretical contribution; but, fortunately, some of his training sessions were surreptitiously recorded.


13 Feb 20 - 08:12 AM (#4033991)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Thank you Jack.

And for that, it was felt worthwhile to slag him off in public?

It speaks volumes.

As Jim might say 'I think we're done here'.


13 Feb 20 - 08:14 AM (#4033992)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"but, fortunately, some of his training sessions were surreptitiously recorded."
That was what kicked off our argument at the symposium
"Some of the meetings" were not "surreptitiously recorded" - most of them were recorded openly by Charles Parker who was asked to do so by the Group
When Charles died they were deposited in Birmingham Central Library and eventually became part of the Charles Parker Archive, but Ewan and Peg Kept copies of most of them at Beckenham for people like me to come and make copies of them
Making the Critics sound like a secretive sect, as Harker set out to do is as snide as it gets
"I have taught poetry (and guitar) to lots of working class kids."
That's very commendable, but it still has nothing to do with this discussion
We are talking about the existence of a specific form of song which represented a specific section of society - it is this which Harker shrouds in fog by suggesting it to be "fake"

"Betz includes Dave Harker as a source."
Why wouldn't he ?
Jim Carroll


13 Feb 20 - 08:28 AM (#4033994)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

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

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


13 Feb 20 - 08:29 AM (#4033995)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

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


13 Feb 20 - 08:33 AM (#4033996)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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

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

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

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

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


13 Feb 20 - 08:54 AM (#4033999)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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

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

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

He supported this by quoting passages such as:

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

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


13 Feb 20 - 09:56 AM (#4034006)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Interesting post, Brian.


13 Feb 20 - 10:01 AM (#4034007)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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

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

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

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


13 Feb 20 - 10:05 AM (#4034008)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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


13 Feb 20 - 10:12 AM (#4034010)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

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

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


13 Feb 20 - 11:46 AM (#4034023)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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

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


13 Feb 20 - 12:00 PM (#4034025)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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

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


13 Feb 20 - 12:34 PM (#4034033)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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

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

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


13 Feb 20 - 01:09 PM (#4034040)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

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

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

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

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

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


13 Feb 20 - 01:12 PM (#4034041)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

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


13 Feb 20 - 01:15 PM (#4034043)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


13 Feb 20 - 01:28 PM (#4034049)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

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


13 Feb 20 - 01:34 PM (#4034052)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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


13 Feb 20 - 01:37 PM (#4034054)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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


13 Feb 20 - 02:10 PM (#4034065)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

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


13 Feb 20 - 02:19 PM (#4034066)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Gardham

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

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

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


13 Feb 20 - 02:39 PM (#4034069)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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

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

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


13 Feb 20 - 02:58 PM (#4034074)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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

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


13 Feb 20 - 03:14 PM (#4034078)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


13 Feb 20 - 03:41 PM (#4034084)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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


13 Feb 20 - 04:13 PM (#4034087)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

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

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

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


13 Feb 20 - 05:19 PM (#4034091)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

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

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


14 Feb 20 - 03:01 AM (#4034150)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Jag

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


14 Feb 20 - 03:08 AM (#4034151)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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


14 Feb 20 - 03:17 AM (#4034152)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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


14 Feb 20 - 03:40 AM (#4034156)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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

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

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


14 Feb 20 - 04:15 AM (#4034160)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

Thank you for this contribution to the debate.

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


14 Feb 20 - 04:17 AM (#4034161)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Jim

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


14 Feb 20 - 04:49 AM (#4034162)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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


14 Feb 20 - 04:58 AM (#4034164)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Pseudonymous

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

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

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

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

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


14 Feb 20 - 05:13 AM (#4034165)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

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

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


14 Feb 20 - 05:13 AM (#4034166)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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

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


14 Feb 20 - 05:33 AM (#4034169)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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


14 Feb 20 - 06:00 AM (#4034174)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

TRY THIS
Jim Carroll


14 Feb 20 - 07:26 AM (#4034184)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


14 Feb 20 - 07:28 AM (#4034185)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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


14 Feb 20 - 07:30 AM (#4034186)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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

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

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


14 Feb 20 - 08:31 AM (#4034191)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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

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


14 Feb 20 - 08:46 AM (#4034192)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

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


14 Feb 20 - 08:49 AM (#4034193)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Jim

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

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

Thank you for clearing that up. I appreciate it.

Have a lovely day.


14 Feb 20 - 08:56 AM (#4034195)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Jag

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

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

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


14 Feb 20 - 09:32 AM (#4034199)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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


14 Feb 20 - 11:00 AM (#4034204)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Thank yo Brian

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

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


14 Feb 20 - 11:49 AM (#4034209)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

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


14 Feb 20 - 11:51 AM (#4034210)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

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

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

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


14 Feb 20 - 11:59 AM (#4034212)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

OK Brian

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

Are we all happy now?


14 Feb 20 - 12:21 PM (#4034219)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

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


14 Feb 20 - 12:23 PM (#4034220)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Can I suggest that we now discuss Harker's hatchet-job in the light of th songs and singers - how can any discussion of folk song possibly exclude them
Jim Carroll


14 Feb 20 - 12:29 PM (#4034223)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

This seems a good place to start
Jim Carroll

Brian Peters    Walter Pardon / Sam Larner
Sam Larner was a fisherman from Winterton, on the East Coast of England. He was recorded by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger for a Folkways LP released in 1961, reproduced right down to the original cover notes for this CD. Some might have preferred a definitive compilation to match that of Pardon, but you have to admit that this collection hangs together well as a unit. Containing several interview excerpts, including accounts of life on the herring-grounds, tall tales, and delightful rhymes concerning weather and sea-lore, it provides a fuller picture of a man who was clearly a larger-than-life character. Bear in mind that this is the voice speaking throughout the Singing The Fishing Radio Ballad, and that MacColl's original songs for that record drew heavily on Larner's narratives. Sam Larner's song repertoire includes material relating to his work ("Up Jumped The Herring," "The Dogger Bank") but plenty of English country songs too, with an obvious liking for the bawdy. In the spoken passages he tells with cackling relish of his track record as a ladies' man, and the sexual shennanigens of "Butter And Cheese And All," or the saucy wordplay of "No Sir, No," obviously appeal to his earthy instincts.

To the lighter songs he adds spoken asides or guffaws of laughter, but although he revels in knockabout fun and uses a style far more declamatory than Walter Pardon's, as you'd expect from one practised in holding the attention of a noisy pub, he achieves undoubted grandeur on the more serious songs, like "The Ghost Ship" or his excellent variant of "Henry Martin." He also sings a version of "The Wild Rover" that (or so I've heard from a usually reliable source) was passed by MacColl to the Dubliners and evolved into the tub-thumper we all know today - certainly the song's English credentials are strong. Larner's relationship with his songs is less intimate and intense than Walter Pardon's, but his enthusiasm for them is no less (I hope I can muster such energy and lust for life when I'm eighty!) and he puts them over more accessibly. I've no intention of ranking the two, though. These singers are jostling for position at the very top of the tree and, if you want to know about real English folk-singing, you have to hear them both. -


14 Feb 20 - 12:38 PM (#4034226)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

"to release commercially. It was argued that songs not judged to be folk songs should not have been issued" (my emphasis)

So a commercial, rather than musicological, decision?


14 Feb 20 - 01:15 PM (#4034233)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Yes, the thread is now the Jim Carroll show"
Jim Carroll
No it isn't lady - it belongs to those who have more right to be her than all of us rolled together - the source singers
They are the ones who have us the songs and and any estimation of folk song should star and finish with them

And another
Belle StewartBelle McGregor was born on the banks of the River Tay at Caputh, near Blairgowrie, into a family of Highland Scottish Travellers, who lived in bow-tents. As a result of their life-style, the whole family received much insult and abuse. Belle´s father died when she was only 9 months old. Afraid that the authorities might take her children from her, her mother stopped travelling and settled in Perthshire. So Belle grew up in a house, and it was only when she was a young woman and married her second cousin Alec Stewart that she travelled periodically with him in Ireland.

Belle´s childhood was a mixture of the bitter and the sweet. "School was pure hell" because traveller children were despised and bullied, and she only had about two years of schooling all told, but was nevertheless quite literate. She was surrounded by love in her family and much of her time was spent accompanying her mother on hawking trips up the Perthshire glens, carried on the top of her pack.

Belle first went to Ireland with her two brothers in the 1920s, at the invitation of Alec´s family, who were already over there and finding the pearlfishing very much to their liking. She had known Alec as a child, but now they were in their late teens, and very much attracted to each other. They fell in love and were married in Ballymoney in 1925. Alec´s family were all pipers, dancers, singers and storytellers and his father was among the best champion pipers in Scotland. Belle, whose family were not pleased about her getting married in Ireland, returned to Blairgowrie for the birth of her first son, John, and tended to go back and forward between the two countries, as her family increased, with a daughter, Cathy, a son, Andy, a daughter Sheila, and an adopted daughter, Rena. Eventually Alec agreed to settle down in Blairgowrie, one of the great fruit-growing areas of Scotland, where they were later to own a berryfield, and thereafter, they were together for a lifetime. One thing Belle did love about Ireland was its songs, many of which found a place in her repertoire.

Belle first came to the notice of the folk world when Hamish Henderson asked local journalist, Maurice Fleming, to look for the composer of a song called ´The Berryfields of Blair´, which he had heard sung by a North East singer. Maurice very quickly found Belle and her family, and recorded them for the School of Scottish Studies sound archive. Belle´s songwriting originated in her family´s tradition of always composing songs or poems for occasions like Hogmanay or family weddings. While many of her songs were comic, she also wrote a very moving lament for her two brothers, who tragically died within a week of each other, leaving her utterly bereft.

Maurice and Hamish soon discovered that she had inherited many of her father´s ballads and songs, through her brothers, Donald and Andy, and that she had the travellers´ wonderfully emotive Highland way of singing - a quality she called ´the coniach´, a word of Gaelic origin translated by Dr John MacInnes as ´an intensity of melody´. After that, she and her family became popular on the folk scene, invited everywhere, their fame spreading across the sea to Europe and America.

Belle´s importance as a source singer led to her becoming known, not only in Scotland, through Hamish Henderson and the Traditional Music and Song Association, founded by a group of enthusiasts led by Pete Shepheard, who ran their first festival significantly in Blairgowrie, but also in England, where the family was introduced to the folk scene by the late Ewan MacColl, who also involved them in the Radio Ballad on the travellers. Ewan was later to produce a book that dealt with her song repertoire, shared with her daughters, in the context of the family´s history, and also included stories riddles, proverbs and cures.

In the sleeve notes to the Topic record of ´The Stewarts of Blair´ made in 1965, Hamish Henderson wrote, ´collecting on the berryfields was like holding a tin can under the Niagrara Falls. However, when we got back to Auld Reekie and began sizing up what we had collected, it was clear that the really fabulous contribution had been made not so much by the nomadic travellers among whom we had camped as by the Stewart family of Berrybank, the aiders and abettors of the whole operation


15 Feb 20 - 03:01 AM (#4034345)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Can I suggest that we stop this like of bickering and get on

I put up the Brian's review and the article on The Stewarts to make the point that despite Harker's "fake" claim, singers and storytellers were still around as part o an oral tradition
In the end, it doesn't matter what Harker wrote - he produced no evidence that the tradition had been "faked" and until someone does, they can quote him till the cows come home but the position remains as we have always believed it to be, songs and stories embraced, constantly re-adapted and probably made by 'ordinary' people, as both entertainment and as expressions of their lives and experiences.
That is what needs discussing in my opinion - it really is time that people stopped hiding behind 'We don't know what folk song is any more' and get down to saying what they believe it has become, and why
Jim Carroll


15 Feb 20 - 08:24 AM (#4034382)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"This thread is now the Jim Carroll show. "
You've already said this despite the fact that, up to now you have regularly made between three to six postings at a time
You can hardly object to how many I have made
So far you have defended what Harker has said and refused to discuss the implications of what he has claimed if he is right - most people here feel his isn't and have argued pretty strongly why they believe that - to date you have ignored what they have said
It's about time we got the other side of this book rather than your being allowed to make it the "Dave Harker/whatever your name is show", don't you think ?
You have the arguments, if you don't want to discuss them, stand aside and let those who do, do so

Simply put, if folk song is a fake, as Harker claims it is, what the **** is that stuff Walter Pardon, The Stewarts, Jeannie Roberson, and many thousands of us who have been part of the folk scene..... have been singing and listening to over the last fifty-odd years
Was the FAKESONG ?
Jim Carroll (showman supreme !!)


15 Feb 20 - 08:28 AM (#4034383)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Pseudonymous. Jim is possibly of the belief that "Major attention should rather be focused on the rich materials revivers' work has reclaimed, not how or why the task was undertaken" rather than that it is "of considerable importance that the values and ideological complexes associated with the Folk Revival should be examined"

I think you might enjoy the book that I have now moved on to.


15 Feb 20 - 08:47 AM (#4034385)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

‘jag’ asked a number of interesting questions yesterday. For a start:

”I asked about Sharp's collecting practice because I was thinking about his theorising as to why "we must look to the musical utterances of those of the community who are least affected by extraneous educational influences". That the material he was after was best found amongst the peasants could simply be an empirical observation made during his early years of seeking out what he was enthusiastic about - just as a butterfly collector may learn from experience the best hunting grounds for interesting specimens.”

Quite correct. Sharp had no desire to waste his time, and his observations of the best people from whom to collect the kind of songs he was looking for were obviously based on his own experience. One of his American critics complained that he’d avoided more affluent and commercially-active settlements because of bias and preconceptions – I was able to show that and Karpeles had spent days prospecting in such places but had eventually given up after being told at home after home that “no-one around here sings those old songs any more.”

jag: ”So from what we know (or theorise) now why were the songs so often collected from people down at the bottom of the social scale, often very old ones?”

At a guess, those people would have grown up in the period when Sharpian folk songs were popular, would be less likely to have received formal education, would have been less mobile, and less likely to be exposed to art music, parlour songs and the music hall.

jag: ”Has anyone tried to do a 'quantitative' study of the musical life of a village or town? Somewhere way up the thread that I can't find Jack Campin commented that on a Sunday someone in English village could have been ringing the church bells, singing in the choir and then doing something secular that I can't remember. For a lot of this stuff discussions on the web often fall back on fiction, or fictionalised accounts, from writers such as Thomas Hardy.”

There were also church bands in many villages in the early 19th century (as documented by Hardy but also confirmed through research), and those same musicians would have played for local dances (Cecil Sharp did, of course, note instrumental music as well as songs). Somewhere I read an account of a village performance of ‘Messiah’. Many of the musicians would have been former military bandsmen.

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

Sharp did speculate about the possible influence of singing in church on rural folk singers:
“On the other hand, the congregations of village churches will take to Plain Song much more readily, and to the manner born. For the Gregorian tones are their own scales, in which for generations past their forbears have been accustomed to sing. The flattened seventh possesses no terrors for the country singer.” And on instrumentalists: “The old men, who used to play stringed or wood instruments in church, may, perhaps, have developed some sense of harmony. But then, they do not sing in the modes—at least, none of them that I have come across.”


15 Feb 20 - 08:49 AM (#4034386)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

[Continued - message divided because Mudcat inserts weird spacing when my posts get too long]

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

The first point chimes with the account of pub singing in the 1880s provided by Flora Thompson in Lark Rise, which is analysed in some detail by Steve Roud in Folk Song in England. The gatherings were stratified according to age, with each group having its own repertoire: the young men singing the latest hits from the music hall and from ‘penny song-books’, middle-aged men performing older songs with a proportion of recognizably ‘folk’ material, and finally the octogenarian ‘Old David’ finishing every evening with ‘The Outlandish Knight’, allowed apparently as an indulgence to his old age. But all of it went on under the same roof.

On the second point, I think that the filter that was being applied was stylistic. Although Roud makes the good point that the new songs from the music halls worked perfectly well as unaccompanied pieces in the pub setting, I’d question his assertion that there was a ‘fundamental similarity’ between these and the older songs. I think the early collectors were quite capable of distinguishing the approximate age (and therefore the ‘folk’ status) of the songs they were hearing by the subject matter (rural settings, lost love, unwanted pregnancies, naval engagements, highway robbery, etc) and the nature of the melodies. Harker makes fun of the ‘I know it when I hear it’ definition, but people who’ve listened to a lot of traditional singing can make that distinction with a reasonable degree of accuracy. That’s how Walter Pardon was able to distinguish between his ‘folk’ and ‘non folk’ songs without a collector having to tell him which was which – they just sounded different.

Did I really write that review of Sam Larner, Jim? I didn’t remember it and don’t have a copy on my computer, but it does sound like the kind of thing I’d have said. It must have been a long time ago if I was under the impression that the Dubliners got ‘The Wild Rover’ from MacColl!


15 Feb 20 - 09:21 AM (#4034389)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Did I really write that review of Sam Larner, Jim?"
YOU DID INDEED BRIAN
You said so much in that that seems to have been forgotten
I can't remember the detaiils of Wild Rover, but I know you did an excellent study of that fascinating song
Luke Kelly and Ewan mutually admired each other throughout their lives, though Ewan thaough that Luke had ruined an excellent voice by overusing and ove-straining it - he was an early member of The Critics Group, as you know
We were packing up in the Singers Club late one night when The Dubliners came in - it was like a family reunion with Ewan and Luke
The only time they fell out was when the Group attempted to copyright several traditional songs Ewan had given Luke they had made extremely popular, can't remember if B.V.B was one of them - not sure of how it was resolved

There's a wonderful story of Luke staying with friends in Grimsby and practicing the voice exercises he had learned in the C Group
When his hosts heard strange noises coming from the bathroom they thought he was having a fit (both were doctors) - ran upstairs and, unable to gain Luke's attention, broke down the door, only to find him buck naked in the shower, belting out vowel-sounds
Jim Carroll


15 Feb 20 - 09:57 AM (#4034400)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Thanks for all that Brian.

I tend to think about 'sampling bias' because I have had to in other contexts. So far as rescuing a repertoire 'for use' is concerned it probably isn't too important if a tune or text from popular music of previous times gets included (and it might fall within the 1954 definition). Missing local compositions that sounded like earlier popular music could be a loss. Also I am not sure if some collectors also had a 'quality' criteria - I often enjoy a bit of doggerel in the right context.

As for the tunes, my suspicions are often raised. Walter Pardon recognising old tunes because they end on the draw caught my attention because I knew Sharp's figure of about 2/3 major. There is a tendency for the modal tunes to get talked about more (including by Sharp) because they are uncommon in art music and for them to be favoured by players because they are cool and different from a lot of what we hear. In the few dozen dance tunes from mainland Europe that I play (because others locally do) there is a suspicious predominance of those in a minor key.


15 Feb 20 - 11:16 AM (#4034410)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Thanks for the reminder, Jim. Reviewing CDs was always a good way of getting them for nothing, of course. John Howson always used to make sure Veteran releases came my way, and I managed to blag an entire set of the original 20 'Voice of the People' CDs having turned up quite by chance to the launch event at Cecil Sharp House in the hope of free wine. Mind you, working my way through all that music was a daunting, if pleasurable, task!

As for 'The Wild Rover', it had its origins in a lengthy 17th-century English temperance ballad, went through several edits and printings, and was common in oral tradition in England, Scotland and Australia. Not so much of a footprint in Ireland until Luke Kelly got hold of it from Lou Killen (who'd learned it off a version of uncertain origin - possibly Nova Scotia - used in BBC Radio's 'Country Magazine') but then collated Lou's version with a set of words from Australia, possibly accessed through Burl Ives recording. I reckon Banjo Patterson wrote the line about "returning with gold in great store" but never managed to confirm that definitely. I also found a version from Australia strikingly similar to the wonderful recording by Pat Usher of Co. Louth that Jim was kind enough to send me. I should also add that both Steve Gardham and Jack Campin helped me out with the broadside versions, and it was a Mudcat discussion that inspired my research. The power of The 'Cat, eh?

jag: "There is a tendency for the modal tunes to get talked about more (including by Sharp) because they are uncommon in art music and for them to be favoured by players because they are cool and different from a lot of what we hear. In the few dozen dance tunes from mainland Europe that I play (because others locally do) there is a suspicious predominance of those in a minor key."

Indeed - there was a period when everyone in my melodeon tutorial group wanted to learn nothing but French tunes in E minor (more correctly, Dorian). Modal tunes are over-represented in my own song repertoire, and when I had to write tunes for four Peterloo ballads I ended up - not through any conscious choice - with one major, one mixolydian, one Dorian and one Hexatonic Dorian/Aeolian. As my American friends say, go figure.

Sorry, that whole post was miles off-topic.


15 Feb 20 - 12:48 PM (#4034433)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"it had its origins in a lengthy 17th-century English temperance ballad,"
Never convinced by 'origins' claims Brian
I'm aware of the 'temperance, connection thanks to your article, but the popularity of the theme and some of the motifs suggest to me that it might have existed before that in one form or another and has been elaborated on by a hack - I suspect that the same is possible of the 'Blind Beggar', but "nobody knows", as they are fond of saying on my favourite trivia programme
Jim


15 Feb 20 - 02:13 PM (#4034449)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

It was written by Thomas Lanfiere, who churned out a lot of moralizing 'alehouse ballads', allegedly inspired by his own familiarity with such places. I found it easier to see how the song we know might have descended from 'The Good Fellow's Resolution' blackletter broadside, than to imagine Lanfiere having dressed up a simpler song already in existence.


17 Feb 20 - 07:58 AM (#4034585)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

This thread has turned delightful as it seems to me to have become a neat illustration of just how much truth there was in what Harker said.


17 Feb 20 - 08:18 AM (#4034589)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Rob Mad Jock Wright

As a good support to fakesong take a listen to 'Facebook' by Angie Wright

1zYh1T2PYUo is the link where she sang it at the Falkirk Songwriting Competition and it won.


17 Feb 20 - 08:52 AM (#4034598)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

" how much truth there was in what Harker said."
As you have shown over and over again by exposing all the fakes
He was bound to be proven right to those who never wanted there to be a people's music, of course

"It was written by Thomas Lanfiere"
I don't doubt that fro one minute Brian - the point I have always made is that our folk songs have cover most aspects of human experience for probably as far back in time as you care to go, the problems of drink being only one of these
There are many songs on the same theme as 'Rover' - we recorded one similar to 'Rover' made by travellers, probably in the 1960s - that than "moralising" they were describing a major problem among Travellers, and among the settled rural and urban poor
The use the state made of cheap gin in keeping the urbal poor in their place made the names of artists like Hogarth and Gustave Dore
That poet and proselytizers took up the themes only illustrates the difficulty of pinning these songs down to a time, place and composer
The somewhat moving and diverse treatment of this particular song by the Usher Family just underlines how they often strike home as 'real'
Jim Carroll


17 Feb 20 - 09:03 AM (#4034599)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Angie Wright"
Angela wright is a 'snigger-snog-writer' psuedo Folk Singer - as "fake" as they come
Not to say she won't appeal to some, but it has nothing whatever to do with the 'folk-song' either Harker was or we are discussing
Unless she is American, she sings in that strange mid-Atlantic-ese which is also pretty "fake"
Jim Carroll


17 Feb 20 - 09:03 AM (#4034600)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"Angie Wright"
Angela wright is a 'snigger-snog-writer' psuedo Folk Singer - as "fake" as they come
Not to say she won't appeal to some, but it has nothing whatever to do with the 'folk-song' either Harker was or we are discussing
Unless she is American, she sings in that strange mid-Atlantic-ese which is also pretty "fake"
Jim Carroll


17 Feb 20 - 09:15 AM (#4034602)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

As a former melodeon player I found WP's claim to be able to tell the ages of songs by whether they ended on a draw interesting/dubious. This is quite apart from questions such as whether he was correct (probably not) and whether the tunes he had were the same age as the songs (another question).

On his melodeon he had basically the notes for G major and D major. By definition he also has the notes for the relative 'natural minor' keys (E minor and B minor). He has basically one octave in each major key and a few added notes either end.

Modes found by Sharp included mixolydian, aeolian and dorian and some tunes he found to be a mixture of/undecided between both. To play in E or B mixo Pardon would need but not have a major third (g# in Em; d# in B minor). This is does not have. Attempt to play in aeolian would founder on the lack of a major 6th (c in Em; G# in Bm)

Of course, he didn't have to limit himself to those keys: he might have attempted to play a modal tune with its 'tonal centre' on a different note, not G E B or D. He might have tried to play tunes using fewer than 7 notes. I don't know whether he did this. None of his mediators appear to have interested themselves in such things. In any case, the attempts would be problematic.

I'll leave it to somebody else to explain which modes and which sorts of melody in terms of the way the tune goes above and below the tonic centre in each mode you can and cannot get on a GD melodeon.

The problem with WP is that what we know about him is so very heavily mediated that it is impossible to know what ideas got into his head through his long and close association with revivalist enthusiasts, some of whom had/have clear ideological agendas.


17 Feb 20 - 09:30 AM (#4034603)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Pseudonymous. On 7 Feb you asked "Does anybody know whether Sharp found much in the major scale/ionian mode by the way?"


17 Feb 20 - 09:58 AM (#4034606)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@Jag

Being doing some revision since then, Jag. Some people are now questioning whether modes are the best way to think about the songs.

As it happens, I read a selection of Sharp journal pieces some time ago: he would find different tunes in different modes for different songs. He is aware of different tune 'types' by which he seems to be referring to how far melodic components are patterned within the 'verse'. So there is a 'Henry Martin' type for example.

Bishop and Roud' big book of English folk songs is tantalising on this. Steve Gardham says a lot of work is being done, but it seems expensive to access.

It looks to me as if nobody knows where 'The Wild Rover' came from and for me the right thing to do is to make it clear if you prefer a particular theory that it is a theory. Don't present your theory as if it were fact. Oh, did I just use a subjunctive?


17 Feb 20 - 10:20 AM (#4034610)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"It looks to me as if nobody knows where 'The Wild Rover' came from"
I suggest you read Brian's article on the song - he puts up an excellent argument for his claims on the source
My argument was that the theme is timeless and it was one of many
"Don't present your theory as if it were fact"
I should mention that to Steve Gardham - and to Dave Harker, come to think of it
THere ay be no definiive answers to any of these questions, but there are plenty of 'most likelys'
None of what we know about Walter is 'Mediated' and it is scurrilous to suggest it is

Walter is probably the most interviewed of any of our source singers, and certainly the most articulate
Walter bagan to list his family's songs in notebooks in the 1940s, before either collectors or folkies got near him - his discrimination is plain from the songs he chose to write down (and later, personally record') and what he didn't
When Walter was asked by a family member to record his songs, from that original fit tape, this is what he chose from over well over 100 songs

British Man Of War
Rambling Blade
The Irish Girl
Caroline And Her Young Sailor Bold
Generals All
Pretty Ploughboy
Van Dieman's Land
Jack Tar On Shore
I Wish, I Wish
Dark Eyed Sailor
The Deserter
Lads of High Renown
Broomfield Hill
Bush of Australia
Bonny Bunch of Roses
Lord Lovell
Peggy Bawn
Mowing The Barley
Seventeen Come Sunday
Jolly Waggoners
Cock a Doodle Doo
Bold Fisherman
Poor Smugglers Boy
Wraggle Taggle Gypsies
The Green Bushes
Help One Another
Rambling Blade    (accordeon)
Caroline and Her Young Sailor Bold
Bush of Australia
The Huntsman
The Transports (Van Dieman’s Land)
Jack Tar
Lads of High Renown

We have his notebooks, which indicate the same inclination towards real folk songs

What the hell do you insist on slandering people - friends and researchers of Walter - as you do ?
Jim Carroll


17 Feb 20 - 10:32 AM (#4034612)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"how much truth there was in what Harker said." Harker discusses the way that 'working class' culture had been 'mediated' by a series of individuals over the centuries.

And the evidence presented on this thread to 'disprove' his ideas was precisely a selection of mediated accounts, one of which seems to have been a review of a commercially available product, a free copy of which was supplied to the reviewer.

Another piece posted was a lengthy quotation from a source that was not clearly identified that spoke at length about Belle Stuart which contained a mere five words in her own voice. Not only was this mediation, it referred to other, previous mediation, putting layer on layer.


17 Feb 20 - 10:36 AM (#4034614)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Dave Harker never produced a single shred of evidence to prove texts were "mediated" - the songs don't get a mention in his book
You are behaving as he did in claiming Walter was "mediated" without producing evidence that he was
Jim Carroll


17 Feb 20 - 10:51 AM (#4034618)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I do apologise: I thought I had read a great many posts by Jim Carroll on Mudcat about Walter Pardon. If I imagined this, I apologise.


17 Feb 20 - 10:55 AM (#4034619)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

We have discussed various uses of the term 'mediate' on this thread.
We have established that Harker was not the first to use it in the context of folkloristics. We have looked at the way Harker uses it himself (see for example, p xiii.)


17 Feb 20 - 11:01 AM (#4034622)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Walter is probably the most interviewed of any of our source singers

My point exactly, or a good part of it at least.

Multiply mediated.


17 Feb 20 - 11:02 AM (#4034623)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

We've discussed a lot and so far you have convinced nobody other than a former Harker disciple
A couple of simple question - how was Walter "mediated" and how did Sharp's et al's "mediation" effect what they collected ?
In your own time now, but this week would be good
Jim Carroll


17 Feb 20 - 11:14 AM (#4034628)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

And somewhere I've got a list of the songs Jim Carroll said that WP put together based on fragments he recalled using broadsheets etc supplied by Jim and Pat, but I'm sure these interventions will have been fully flagged up at the time on any releases.

To be honest, I have never felt that all people who post here grasp what Harker was saying. He did not write a book about 'fake songs'. So I cannot see why people are posting songs and demanding others to say that these are 'fakes'.

It also strikes me as odd that it can be claimed that 'source singers' have an innate unlearned - and presumably accurate - ability to distinguish 'folk songs' from other genres when this thread itself demonstrates that this is by no means a straightforward thing to do.


17 Feb 20 - 11:19 AM (#4034632)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"It looks to me as if nobody knows where 'The Wild Rover' came from"

It still looks to me as if nobody knows where 'The Wild Rover' came from.

And I stand by my comment that if people have a theory about this they should not claim that it is anything but a theory. Without getting too far into epistemological discussion, I think it fair to say that a theory backed up by arguments is still a theory.

It is so odd when one gets attacked by Jim for agreeing with his that 'nobody knows'.


17 Feb 20 - 11:23 AM (#4034633)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Lighter

Everything that goes from one human mind to another is unavoidably "mediated." People forget, make mistakes, overinterpret, intentionally omit, give misinformation, lie, etc.

The issue here is whether Sharp and collectors like him intentionally falsified what they collected.

Based on this discussion, the answer appears to be almost never, and then chiefly to suppress a relatively small number of unpublishable lyrics. In some cases this was limited to only a few words.

So did they invent the songs? No. Did they rewrite them extensively? Except for some bawdry, no. Did they mess with the tunes? No.

Did they misrepresent the overall nature of traditional song itself (which seems to be Harker's principal claim)?

The evidence says absolutely not.


17 Feb 20 - 11:29 AM (#4034636)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

Pseudonymous wrote:
”As a former melodeon player I found WP's claim to be able to tell the ages of songs by whether they ended on a draw interesting/dubious... On his melodeon he had basically the notes for G major and D major. By definition he also has the notes for the relative 'natural minor' keys (E minor and B minor). Modes found by Sharp included mixolydian, aeolian and dorian and some tunes he found to be a mixture of/undecided between both. To play in E or B mixo Pardon would need but not have a major third (g# in Em; d# in B minor). This is does not have. Attempt to play in aeolian would founder on the lack of a major 6th (c in Em; G# in Bm)”

If you were once a melodeon player it must have been a long time ago. It’s very easy to play a Dorian scale in either E or A without even crossing the row. You can also play E Aeolian on the outer row except for the flat 6th, which is a C natural available on the inner row. You can play a mixolydian scale in D using the same C natural, but that ends on a push, so it’s not what we’re about here. Walter Pardon probably knew nothing of the modes identified by Sharp, but, from the songs in his own repertoire, I’d guess he was talking about a dorian scale as used, for instance, in the magnificent tune for ‘A Ship to Old England Came’, which I’ve just played on my trusty Saltarelle to make sure..

”The problem with WP is that what we know about him is so very heavily mediated that it is impossible to know what ideas got into his head through his long and close association with revivalist enthusiasts, some of whom had/have clear ideological agendas.”

I was hoping this tedious stuff about Walter Pardon having been ‘mediated’ might have died the death when the previous thread was closed. Harker’s concept of ‘mediation’ was aimed at collectors who did not do precisely what Yates, Carroll and others did, which was to allow the singer’s own voice to be heard.


17 Feb 20 - 11:32 AM (#4034638)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

”It looks to me as if nobody knows where 'The Wild Rover' came from and for me the right thing to do is to make it clear if you prefer a particular theory that it is a theory. Don't present your theory as if it were fact.”

It “looks to you” on the basis of what, exactly? Have you read my article (peer-reviewed and published in the FMJ)? If so, where do you find fault with the research or the conclusion?

”And the evidence presented on this thread to 'disprove' his ideas was precisely a selection of mediated accounts, one of which seems to have been a review of a commercially available product, a free copy of which was supplied to the reviewer.”

Assuming you’re referring to the online review I wrote about a CD of Sam Larner, Jim did not link this to ‘disprove’ Harker, and I wouldn’t consider it evidence in that respect either - he was using it as an example of a piece of writing which concentrated on a singer's performance, rather than a theoretical position. But, ooh dear, I got a free copy! Scandal! Bias!

There is a wealth of interview material from Sam Larner, as provided by MacColl and Seeger. Since your default position now appears to be that the testimony of the actual singer can safely be disregarded, because he probably only said what the collectors wanted him to, you may choose to disregard this, as you disregard the interview material with Walter Pardon. But you are ploughing a lonely and rather Quixotic furrow here, if you’ll allow me a flagrant mixed metaphor.


17 Feb 20 - 11:34 AM (#4034640)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

The issue here is whether Sharp and collectors like him intentionally falsified what they collected.

Intention doesn't come into it.

Look at the misrepresentations of what people have written in this thread, by somebody who is simply incapable of reading a conflicting opinion accurately. Ideology takes over. Though I don't think anybody, Harker included, is suggesting Sharp was that bad.

Nietzsche: “Memory says, 'I did that.' Pride replies, 'I could not have done that.' Eventually, memory yields.”


17 Feb 20 - 11:48 AM (#4034642)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Sharp said publicly in 1910 that he had but one aim "to ensure the transference of the songs and dances from one class to the other without hurt or harm" (quoted in an academic essay by Vic Gammon)

He left his notebooks so he can be 'tested' on that.

I found it interesting that Harker makes much of the appropriation of the music of on class by another but he doesn't say that at least collector openly declared that that was his aim.


17 Feb 20 - 12:02 PM (#4034646)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

My previous post was written after reading Lighter's.

Bye the way, on the subject of expropriation, way back up the thread I accidentally introduced the idea of Kate Lee going down the pub to collect tunes The consensus here was that a lady of her social class would not do that. Apparently she took a job as a waitress in a country inn in the Broads to hear some tunes that would otherwise not have reached her ears.


17 Feb 20 - 12:07 PM (#4034647)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

I didn't know that quote, jag, but as you or possibly Lighter said previously, the original 'owners' were left in possession of their property, so 'theft' would not be an accurate term - 'appropriation' possibly more so.


17 Feb 20 - 12:25 PM (#4034652)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"im Carroll said that WP put together based on fragments he recalled using broadsheets etc supplied by Jim and Pat,"
You have nothing of the sort - stop making things up
Walter had thwo verses and a chorus of a song entitled 'Down by the Dark Arches which we recorded
He ased us did we now it - we didn't and asked Mike Yates if he did - he obliged with a broadside text, requesting that if he sang it to anybody he should explain its history
He did so on the public occasions where we wee present - that is not 'mediation' it is returning the favour by filling in a song that interested him
RThat is the only time that happened with Walter as far as we weer concerned - you made your "list" up (again)

These singers are not archaeological sites or geological specimens in aspic that must not be interfered with - they are people with enough interest in the songs to go in singing them, given the chance
I never knew of an old singer who didn't continue learning songs, given the chance - go count the number of version of 'Shoals of Herring' or 'Freeborn Man' which have been collected from source singers

"Quixotic furrow here, "
How dare you Brian - 'The Don' is one of my literary heroes - I wept when he died !!
Jim


17 Feb 20 - 12:27 PM (#4034654)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

If you meant the Sharp quote Brian it's in Vic Gammon's paper "‘Many Useful Lessons’, Cecil Sharp, Education and the Folk Dance Revival, 1899-1924". Downloadable from a link in his academic profile.

A couple of things struck me about Harker when reading Vic Gammon's paper. One is that if he Harker had really wanted to put the boot into Sharp then the dance side of things would be a better target.

The other is business of Harker being 'snide'. I think he is 'snide' but to be fair the way he describes himself as a middle-class traitor includes an element of humour and some of the other comments may be meant to be(at least to his comrades). I would find "The Sharp mythology, well on the go in his lifetime and oft repeated since..." irritating from Harker, but in fact it's Gammon in a very clear, measured essay, so it just raised a smile.


18 Feb 20 - 06:46 AM (#4034745)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Brian Peters' last post seems to assume I was claiming that he failed to acknowledge that a theory is a theory or that he made false claims relating to his research into the history of The Wild Rover. May I just clarify that the remark was a general one, and in no way aimed at him.

This links to a broader point that I make from time to time that within writing about folk people sometimes too quick to claim as 'fact' stuff which is surmise, inference, or, to take a word from Jag's last post 'myth'.


18 Feb 20 - 06:53 AM (#4034746)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Jack: "Look at the misrepresentations of what people have written in this thread, by somebody who is simply incapable of reading a conflicting opinion accurately."

I agree wholeheartedly, and to be honest I think it might be a deliberate strategy, a weapon in the 'war' that one poster has declared themselves to be fighting.


18 Feb 20 - 07:00 AM (#4034747)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Brian: Assuming you’re referring to the online review I wrote about a CD of Sam Larner, Jim did not link this to ‘disprove’ Harker

Then for me the question is why it was pasted at all on a thread designed to discuss the work of Harker?

Could it have been because Jim does not want to discuss the work of Harker, and is therefore deliberately introducing material about things he does want to talk about. Jim has announced that he regards himself as fighting a 'war'. In other words, was it an attempt to turn a thread about Harker into a thread about what Jim wants to talk about, into what I have called 'The Jim Carroll Show'? It looks like it to me.


18 Feb 20 - 07:09 AM (#4034748)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

I can see why Jim Carroll would empathise with the character of Don Quixote.


18 Feb 20 - 07:13 AM (#4034749)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"A couple of simple question - how was Walter "mediated"

People got to know WP. Then they wrote about him. Then they showed what they had written to other people.

Simple and quick enough for you?


18 Feb 20 - 07:49 AM (#4034755)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Sorry 'Hillery' I think. By the way, he has an interesting section on mediation by 2nd wave folklorists who have deeply embedded themselves into the lives of their subjects.


18 Feb 20 - 07:51 AM (#4034756)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Shaw

On modes doable on diatonic instruments: my axe of choice is the diatonic harmonica. If I'm playing a D harp I can play tunes in Ionian (D major), Mixolydian ("key of A with flatted 7th"), two "minor keys" in Dorian and Aeolian modes (tell the guitar men that they're E minor and B minor respectively and they're happy) and Lydian ("G Major with sharpened 4th"). I won't bother repeating the exercise for a G harp but you get the idea. That covers most tunes in Irish traditional music, though other modes are available. Lydian doesn't really cut it because those tunes, via missing notes are also (mostly) playable in Ionian on a different-key harp. Cronin's hornpipe is one such. It's a fun topic, seemingly not well grasped by Pseudonymous, but admittedly a bit of a diversion. I'm not much of a scholar on the origins of modal music but I suppose "our" kind of music was much-influenced by the early church modes - and the fact that modal tunes are often better adapted to simpler instruments that weren't too adept at playing sharps and flats.


18 Feb 20 - 07:58 AM (#4034757)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Shaw

When I say covered most tunes, I should really have said for clarity that the same considerations apply for instruments in the keys of G and A as well as for my trusty D harp. Then they ARE covered!


18 Feb 20 - 08:11 AM (#4034759)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Brian: I'm sorry but you appear to have caught that thing of not reading posts carefully before replying. I refer to your comments on the modes on a melodeon.

You put: "If you were once a melodeon player it must have been a long time ago. It’s very easy to play a Dorian scale in either E or A without even crossing the row."

Since my original post is still here, people on this thread will be able to see that at no point did I state that the Dorian was not possible to play. This was, of course, deliberate on my part.


18 Feb 20 - 08:21 AM (#4034763)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Steve

My grasp of modes (of the major scale at least) is excellent, Steve.

If you have the notes for G major you have by definition all the notes for all the modes of that scale: ionian, dorian, phrygian, lydian, mixolydian, aeolian, lochrian.

It isn't a question of what is doable on diatonic instruments: it's a question of 1) what is doable on a two row melodeon which has basically one octave of the ionian with a few other notes thrown in at each end of the octave 2) which of those modes end with a pull and which with a push - this linking to WP's belief that older songs ended with a pull, and 3) how these might or might not relate to the tunes Pardon played on a melodeon and the differences between the melodies Pardon had and the melodies people were used to hearing.


18 Feb 20 - 08:32 AM (#4034767)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

"tell the guitar men that they're E minor and B minor respectively and they're happy"

But will the audience be, that is the question. Probably used to 'men' making a racket by playing the wrong chords to modal songs?


18 Feb 20 - 08:54 AM (#4034770)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

For me it stands to reason that it might not be a good idea to use the same set of chords to harmonise a melody drawn from a scale with b3 b6 b7 (as compared with the major/ionian starting on the same tonic) as to harmonise a melody drawn from a scale with b3 b9 (as compared with the major/ionian staring on the same tonic). The key problem probably being that b6. But perhaps Steve could enlighten us on how this works in practice?


18 Feb 20 - 08:55 AM (#4034771)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

I suppose "our" kind of music was much-influenced by the early church modes

No it wasn't. The modal systems of folk music are so different from those of church music that there can't be any genetic relationship. Church music is invariably heptatonic, older modal folk music almost never is.

There are even greater differences when you get away from the idiot simplification that a mode is a scale. Real modal systems include melodic content; this is explicit in church music (as it is in Indian or Arabic music) and the way it occurs (without explicit labelling) in Western folk is why it looked kinda plausible for Sharp to link modes to tune family relationships.


18 Feb 20 - 08:59 AM (#4034773)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

https://www.mardles.org/images/Mardles/NFA/Pardon.jpg


18 Feb 20 - 09:05 AM (#4034775)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

Meant to add this but missed the Preview box

http://forum.melodeon.net/files/site/DGwithStave.pdf


18 Feb 20 - 09:16 AM (#4034776)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Jack

I think that the Julia Bishop sections in Roud's book on Folk Song in England begin to problematise the way that 'modes' have been used to think about folk song. As I said before, these sections are 'tantalising' because for me they don't go into the amount of detail or depth that I felt ready for when I read and re=read them.

Creating harmonisations of 'modal' tunes is one thing Sharp does touch on in the piece we have been discussing. He criticises a European composer who treated a modal melody as a with 'modulations' and who introduced classical music type leading chords to get from one key (as perceived by the composer) to the other key (as perceived by the composer).

This is why I asked many posts back whether people could point me to an example of a Cecil Sharp harmonisation of a modal tune, to see for myself how he approached the problem.


18 Feb 20 - 09:36 AM (#4034782)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Shaw

Which is why, Jack, I added the caveat that I'm not much of a scholar... Inconsistent terminology apropos of modes and keys is rife on harmonica forums, which is why I used all those speech marks.

As it happens, Pseudo, I possess a Hohner Erica D/G. It has at least as many notes on the G row as a G ten-hole harmonica, which is wot I mostly play, ditto for the D row, including missing notes in common at the bottom end. I have only one complete octave in the harmonica. I can retune one note in the bottom octave to give me back the missing sixth for G and A tunes. At least you have the flexibility of notes on crossing rows that I don't have. The guitar men I play with are intelligent enough. If I go out with blues harps in D, G and A I can handle, at a guess, over 90% of Irish tunes. Pesky tunes with accidentals can either be cheated on or notes can be bent. The main exception is Cnat in D tunes. Take Ashokan Farewell for example. Yeah, please take the hateful thing, as far away as possible.


18 Feb 20 - 09:39 AM (#4034783)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

This is why I asked many posts back whether people could point me to an example of a Cecil Sharp harmonisation of a modal tune, to see for myself how he approached the problem.

I think I may have a book with some suitable examples in it. Will take a look. I seem to remember the problem was that Sharp's arrangements just weren't all that arresting - sympathetic idiom isn't enough.

There are other ways to go about it. Bartok often preferred to set folk tunes in a harmonic context that was glaringly, unmistakably different. Lendvai's book explains how (in its saner moments). Grainger played the same game. It's an approach that maybe has more relevance than Sharp to typical folk arrangement practice today.


18 Feb 20 - 09:42 AM (#4034784)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

The main exception is Cnat in D tunes. Take Ashokan Farewell for example. Yeah, please take the hateful thing, as far away as possible.

It's a handy cue for going for a pee.

On the other hand, Banish Misfortune is downright good, and has the same issue.


18 Feb 20 - 09:43 AM (#4034786)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Steve Shaw

Indeed it does. I can't be arsed with it, good though it is. Still, it's normally soon done and dusted.


18 Feb 20 - 09:49 AM (#4034787)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST

I'm sure Steve will be familiar with the b3 b7 compared with ionian approach to modes I used a moment ago, but in case others are not, here is a link to a page also approaching modes starting with the major scale on the same root. I learned this approach on a jazz course, harmonisation in jazz is of course another thing altogether and I only dipped my toe in:

http://www.jargstorff.us/2011/major-scale-modes-from-bright-to-dark/

If you scroll down the page you will see examples showing how the modes relate to C major in terms of adding a sharp (lydian) or flats (the rest).


18 Feb 20 - 09:54 AM (#4034788)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"Brian: I'm sorry but you appear to have caught that thing of not reading posts carefully before replying. I refer to your comments on the modes on a melodeon. You put: "If you were once a melodeon player it must have been a long time ago. It’s very easy to play a Dorian scale in either E or A without even crossing the row." Since my original post is still here, people on this thread will be able to see that at no point did I state that the Dorian was not possible to play. This was, of course, deliberate on my part."

I did actually read your post very carefully. Curiously, you don't seem to remember that you wrote: "Attempt [sic] to play in aeolian would founder on the lack of a major 6th (c in Em; G# in Bm)” - when in fact there is an easily accessible C natural on the instrument, as I pointed out to you. I was certainly curious as to why you hadn't mentioned the Dorian since, having presumably made an exhaustive study of Walter Pardon's song melodies, you must know that he had several that were in that mode, and it would have been these (and others with a flat 3rd but no 6th) that would have been ‘bellows open’ tunes.

"A couple of simple question - how was Walter "mediated"?
People got to know WP. Then they wrote about him. Then they showed what they had written to other people. Simple and quick enough for you?


Trying to be patronising is unwise when you’re on such shaky ground to start with. The difference between Walter Pardon and the singers contacted by Edwardian collectors is that WP’s entire repertoire, unsullied by an editor, is available for examination. There are also verbatim transcriptions of interviews with him. People have written about him as well – but the source material is the heart of the evidence. It is a fantasy to compare that process to the kind of mediation that Harker complained about. I suspect that you do it to annoy, but you're just making yourself look silly.


18 Feb 20 - 11:02 AM (#4034799)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

More gems from Pseudonymous:

"Jim does not want to discuss the work of Harker, and is therefore deliberately introducing material about things he does want to talk about."

"I'm sure Steve will be familiar with the b3 b7 compared with ionian approach to modes I used a moment ago, but in case others are not, here is a link to a page also approaching modes starting with the major scale on the same root. I learned this approach on a jazz course..."


18 Feb 20 - 11:05 AM (#4034800)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

One of the greatest gaps in our knowledge of the oral tradition is the lack of information we have from source singers themselves,
One the little we have gets undermined with accusations such as these we are left with nothing
It seems that the modern school of scholarship is based on destroying all other credible evidence to make room for their own pet theories and agendas
First time around Dave Harker failed miserably but it seems that his spectre has come back to haunt us
The technique appears to be to make unsubstantiated claims presented as facts and them move on. leaving them to hang

I don't bother too much with Wikipedia, but, having just looked up Walte Pardon there, I am appalled at the amount of misinformation has been put up there, even quotes by an old friend, Dave Hillary, are so off-beam as to be nonsensical
There seems to be an automatic assumption that, because singers from Walter's generation sang what they remembered, they regarded everything the same - they most certainly didn't - that's the approach adopted by today's revival - unfortunately
Jim Carroll


18 Feb 20 - 11:18 AM (#4034808)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Pseudonymous: http://www.campin.me.uk/Music/Modes/


18 Feb 20 - 11:20 AM (#4034809)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jack Campin

A couple of simple question - how was Walter "mediated"?
People got to know WP. Then they wrote about him. Then they showed what they had written to other people.

The difference between Walter Pardon and the singers contacted by Edwardian collectors is that WP’s entire repertoire, unsullied by an editor, is available for examination.


So were the entire works of Nietzsche, when the Nazis tried to make him one of theirs.

It's quite possible to misrepresent what somebody said even when they're still around to say you've got it wrong, and if you have better access to the media there isn't a damn thing they can do about it.


18 Feb 20 - 12:33 PM (#4034820)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

"So were the entire works of Nietzsche, when the Nazis tried to make him one of theirs."
Then it should be equally possible to show where those "mediations" have taken place rather than allude to them Jack
So far, the repertoires of the singers and how they might have been affected by mediation have been avoided like the plague, and efforts have even been made to declare them 'off topic' and shuffled off to another thread, as has happened to inconvenient truths in the past - says much for the validity of such claims, don'cha think ?
I repeat - "mediations" - what mediations ?

Bringing the Nazis into this seems to have sunk the discussion to yet another level - ah well - going down !!
Jim Carroll


18 Feb 20 - 12:37 PM (#4034823)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

This is a longish part of an interview with Walter

Is theer ant evidence of manipulation of what he said here (which is basically what "mediation" implies

Jim Carroll

J C   If you had the choice Walter… if somebody said to you one night they were going to ask you to sing say half-a-dozen or a dozen songs even, of all your songs, what would be the choice, can you think offhand what you would choose to sing?

W P The Pretty Ploughboy would be one, that’s one; Rambling Blade would be another one, The Rambling Blade would be two, Van Dieman’s Land three, Let The Wind Blow High or Low, that’d be four, Broomfield Hill, that’s five, Trees The Do Grow High, six, that’d be six.

J C Do you think that when you started singing in the clubs and festivals, do you think you think you are singing any different than you were singing when you were younger?

W P Dash, yes, I think so.

J C Do you know in what way?

W P Oh, I don’t know, put more expression in probably, I think so. Well, but you see, you take these, what we call the old type… the old folk song, they’re not like the music hall song, are they, or a stage song, there’s a lot of difference in them. I mean a lot of these… some … it all depend what and how you’re singing. Some of them go to nice lively, quick tunes, and others are… you don’t do Van Dieman’s Land… If there’s a sad old song you don’t go through that very quick. Like Up to the Rigs is the opposite way about.

I mean, we must put expression in, you can’t sing them all alike. Well most of the stage songs you could, if you understand what I mean. According to what the song is you put the expression in or that’s not worth hearing, well that’s what I think anyhow.   And as I never did sing them, you see, there was no expression I could put in.


J C Alright; take another song; take something like Marble Arch and Maid of Australia, both of which are fairly amusing, anyway, would you see any difference in them?

W P Well yes, because there’s a difference in the types of the music, that’s another point.
You can tell Van Dieman’s Land is fairly old by the sound, the music, and Irish Molly and Marble Arch is shortened up, they shortened them in the Victorian times. And so they did more so in the Edwardian times. Some songs then, you’d hardly start before you’d finish, you see, you’d only a four line verse, two verses and a four line chorus and that’d finish. You’d get that done in half a minute, and the music wasn’t as good. Yeah, the style has altered. You can nearly tell by the old Broomfield Hill, that’s an old tune; The Trees They Do Grow High, you can tell, and Generals All.

Nine times out of ten I can get an old fashioned ten keyed accordion, German tuned, you can nearly tell an old… what is an old song. Of course that doesn’t matter what modern songs there is, the bellows always close when that finish, like that. And you go right back to the beginning of the nineteenth and eighteenth they finish this way, pulled out, look. You take notice how Generals All finish, that got an old style of finishing, so have The Trees They Do Grow High, so have The Gallant Sea Fight, in other words, A Ship To Old England Came, that is the title, The Gallant Sea Fight. You can tell they’re old, the way they how they… That drawn out note at finish.   You just study and see what they are., how they work., you’ll find that’s where the difference is.

And as that got further along; that’s where I slipped up with Black Eyed Susan; I thought that was probably William the Fourth by the music, but that go back about to 1730, that one do.

Well a lot of them you’ll find, what date back years and years, there’s a difference in the style of writing the music as that progressed along, that kept altering a lot. Like up into Victorian times, you’ve got Old Brown’s daughter, you see, that come into Victorian times; well that style started altering, they started shortening the songs up, everything shortened up, faster and quicker, and the more new they get, the more faster they get, the styles alter, I think you’ll find if you check on that, that’s right.


18 Feb 20 - 12:37 PM (#4034824)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

This is a longish part of an interview with Walter

Is theer ant evidence of manipulation of what he said here (which is basically what "mediation" implies

Jim Carroll

J C   If you had the choice Walter… if somebody said to you one night they were going to ask you to sing say half-a-dozen or a dozen songs even, of all your songs, what would be the choice, can you think offhand what you would choose to sing?

W P The Pretty Ploughboy would be one, that’s one; Rambling Blade would be another one, The Rambling Blade would be two, Van Dieman’s Land three, Let The Wind Blow High or Low, that’d be four, Broomfield Hill, that’s five, Trees The Do Grow High, six, that’d be six.

J C Do you think that when you started singing in the clubs and festivals, do you think you think you are singing any different than you were singing when you were younger?

W P Dash, yes, I think so.

J C Do you know in what way?

W P Oh, I don’t know, put more expression in probably, I think so. Well, but you see, you take these, what we call the old type… the old folk song, they’re not like the music hall song, are they, or a stage song, there’s a lot of difference in them. I mean a lot of these… some … it all depend what and how you’re singing. Some of them go to nice lively, quick tunes, and others are… you don’t do Van Dieman’s Land… If there’s a sad old song you don’t go through that very quick. Like Up to the Rigs is the opposite way about.

I mean, we must put expression in, you can’t sing them all alike. Well most of the stage songs you could, if you understand what I mean. According to what the song is you put the expression in or that’s not worth hearing, well that’s what I think anyhow.   And as I never did sing them, you see, there was no expression I could put in.


J C Alright; take another song; take something like Marble Arch and Maid of Australia, both of which are fairly amusing, anyway, would you see any difference in them?

W P Well yes, because there’s a difference in the types of the music, that’s another point.
You can tell Van Dieman’s Land is fairly old by the sound, the music, and Irish Molly and Marble Arch is shortened up, they shortened them in the Victorian times. And so they did more so in the Edwardian times. Some songs then, you’d hardly start before you’d finish, you see, you’d only a four line verse, two verses and a four line chorus and that’d finish. You’d get that done in half a minute, and the music wasn’t as good. Yeah, the style has altered. You can nearly tell by the old Broomfield Hill, that’s an old tune; The Trees They Do Grow High, you can tell, and Generals All.

Nine times out of ten I can get an old fashioned ten keyed accordion, German tuned, you can nearly tell an old… what is an old song. Of course that doesn’t matter what modern songs there is, the bellows always close when that finish, like that. And you go right back to the beginning of the nineteenth and eighteenth they finish this way, pulled out, look. You take notice how Generals All finish, that got an old style of finishing, so have The Trees They Do Grow High, so have The Gallant Sea Fight, in other words, A Ship To Old England Came, that is the title, The Gallant Sea Fight. You can tell they’re old, the way they how they… That drawn out note at finish.   You just study and see what they are., how they work., you’ll find that’s where the difference is.

And as that got further along; that’s where I slipped up with Black Eyed Susan; I thought that was probably William the Fourth by the music, but that go back about to 1730, that one do.

Well a lot of them you’ll find, what date back years and years, there’s a difference in the style of writing the music as that progressed along, that kept altering a lot. Like up into Victorian times, you’ve got Old Brown’s daughter, you see, that come into Victorian times; well that style started altering, they started shortening the songs up, everything shortened up, faster and quicker, and the more new they get, the more faster they get, the styles alter, I think you’ll find if you check on that, that’s right.


18 Feb 20 - 12:40 PM (#4034825)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Brian Peters

"So were the entire works of Nietzsche, when the Nazis tried to make him one of theirs."

I don't see the relevance of this, Jack. We are talking specifically about 'mediation' as described by Dave Harker in the context of folk song. His case was that Sharp et al misrepresented the singers' repertoire when they published their books of songs. He claimed editorial tampering (although he exaggerated both its extent and the degree of subterfuge), that 'unsuitable' songs were selected out, and that the singers were given no voice of their own.

In he case of Walter Pardon, the published material consists of commercially-released recordings covering all of his repertoire (including the music hall and union songs) and presenting it exactly as he sang it. In addition, we have the verbatim interviews we've already discussed. Since Jim Carroll and others who have written about WP invariably refer their readers to the recordings and the interview transcripts, the parallel of the Nazis feeling able to misinterpret Nietzsche because no-one had read him is inappropriate on more than one level.

As Lighter wrote yesterday: 'Everything that goes from one human mind to another is unavoidably "mediated."' But the argument here is over Harker's use of 'mediation', and whether it applies to he case of Walter Pardon. It doesn't.


18 Feb 20 - 02:40 PM (#4034850)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Jim Carroll

Some more of Walter "mediating" himself
Jim Carroll

RECORDING HIMSELF
Anyhow, I set it up once and plugged in, I tell you, that was a good job; I was right nervous doing it.
I thought myself, I used to think I could manage to sing the old ‘Rambling Blade’; I put it on and it sound so blooming horrible I wiped it right out, oh, that did sound dreadful; I don’t think that was as bad perhaps as I thought it was, but that was a long while, I trying different things until, you know, I thought that was better as I kept hearing it, you see.
And I know that was about October, 1972 when I started it; Oh, I don’t know, it took about up to Christmas time to fill one side; I used to forget there was verses in the songs, you see, I used to keep wiping it out and putting them on again. That took a long time to get them up into the pitch I could sing them in, not having sung the things.
Well I got one side done somewhere from the October up to the Christmas1972 this was. And I know when it come over to the following New Year I was in here one Saturday night and that was bitterly cold; oh, that was a wind frost, wind coming everywhere. I was that cold I had a big fire going one side and that little stove the other.
So I thought then I’d do some more taping. Anyhow, so I got warmed up, I had a strong dose of rum and milk, and I had another one. And so I got the tape recorder going, I can remember well enough; that was Caroline And Her Young Sailor, and when I finished it was the best I ever did do.
Well, I found out I drank more than I should, I had to keep right still. Well, I switched it off; that was true, in fact I was drunk, and then of course I went to bed, I never did have any more, and the next morning when I got up and tried it I knew I was, how that was coming out with all then words all slurred, so I wiped it all out.
Well I found then as I kept going, that it wouldn’t pay to drink anything.
Anyhow, eventually that was filled up in the March, that was March 1973.


FOLK CLUBS
I had a vague idea they had folk clubs of some description, all these doctors, solicitors etcetera would go and sing in someone’s big house. I never realised you see, working people done that, never knew a single thing about it.

PICTURES WHILE SINGING
J C   Can I ask you something else then Walter. When you’re singing in a club or at a festival, who do you look at, what do you see when you’re singing?
W P   Well, I don’t see anything.
J C   You don’t look at the audience.
W P   No, that’s why I like a microphone; I’d rather stand up in front of a microphone and that sort of thing ‘cause it’s something to look at, that’s what I like, this sort of thing in front so you can shut the audience out, ‘cause I can shut the audience right away from everywhere.
J C   So what do you see then, when you’re…..?
W P   Well actually what I’m singing about, like reading a book; you always imagine you can see what is happening there, you might as well not read it.
P Mc   So you see what you’re singing about?
W P   Hmm
P Mc   And how do you see it; as a moving thing, as a still thing?
W P   That’s right.
P Mc   Moving?
W P   That’s right. The Pretty Ploughboy was always ploughing in the field over there, that’s where that was supposed to be.
J C    Over there?
W P Hmm.
J C    So it’s that field just across the way?
W P   That’s right.
J C    How about van Dieman’s Land?
W P   Well, that was sort of imagination what that was really like, in Warwickshire, going across, you know, to Australia; seeing them chained to the harrow and plough and that sort of thing; chained hand-to-hand, all that.
You must have imagination to see; I think so, that’s the same as reading a book, you must have imagination to see where that is, I think so, well I do anyhow.
P Mc   But you never shut your eyes when you’re singing, do you?
W P    No, no.
P Mc   But if you haven’t got a microphone to concentrate on, if you’re singing in front of an audience, where do you look?
W P   Down my nose, like that.
P Mc   Yes, you do, yeah.
W P   That is so. Have you noticed that?
P Mc   Yeah.
J C   Do the people in the songs that you sing, do they have their own identity or are they people you know or have known in the past?
W P   No, their own identity, I imagine what they look like.
J C   You imagine what they look like?
W P   That’s right, yeah.
J C   And when you sing the song they’re the same people every time, they look the same every time?
W P That’s right, yes, yes, that’s right. All depending what it’s about or the period, that’s right.
J C   And they were dressed in the period…?
W P   That’s right yeah, yeah.
J C   So where would you put The Pretty Ploughboy, what sort of period?
W P   Lord Nelson’s time.
J C   So they’d be wearing……?
W P   That’s right; the beginning of the last century.
P Mc   What about the song like The Trees They Do Grow High or Broomfield Hill?
W P    Oh, that’d go back really as far as…. Buckled shoes, that sort of thing. Well no, they wore buckled, but anyone ploughing would never wear buckled shoes but I mean they dressed in, you know, fairly smart clothes and a ring on their thumb sort of thing.
J C   And how about Dark Arches, what would be the type of…?
W P   Oh, myself; if you’re singing about yourself that must come in it (laughter).


18 Feb 20 - 03:12 PM (#4034856)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

My thoughts are as follows:

1 I am happy to accept that WP believed that you could tell old songs from new songs by whether the bellows ended up in or out. This statements in itself seems to conflate the age of the tune with the age of the song. Plus I have been given no 'arguments' in support of the idea that he was right about this in relation to either the song or the melody. We got here via discussion of Sharp and his attitudes to 'modal' tunes. Harker does not go into much detail, but implies that Sharp preferred modal tunes over others. We have established to my satisfaction that at least there are grounds to question how useful the concept of 'modes' is when applied to non-classical music.


3 Re Interview Transcripts. There has been previous discussion about qualitative research methods and it did not get very far. I see no point in going over it now. But I will say that Jim Carroll's practice of treating discussions about the quality of his research methods as tantamount to treating either he and Pat or WP as 'liars' does not help at all.

The idea of finding out about people's lives and their whole musical experience is a good one, and it is one that Harker himself advances.

4 Once again, we are presented with a transcript of an undated interview. Am I the only one who noticed that more than one interviewer asked Pardon what his favourite songs were, and wondered how the different answers Pardon gave each time might be explained. It is clear that by this time P has been part of the revival scene for some time so who knows what ideas and so on he picked up after being discovered. I find it difficult to imagine a person being in the company of Jim Carroll without being on the receiving end of some fairly strongly expressed, and, if I may say so, not always uncontested views about the nature and origin of 'folk song'.

The post above reminds me of another transcript in which interviewers ask WP about the difference between the way he sung songs at the time of the interview and in the past, and he not once but twice reminds them of what they presumably knew at the outset, namely that he 'never did sing them'.

5 The issues with transcripts are multiplied when people write articles using selected extracts to support theoretical points.

I do not think we have ever been given a full account of Pardon's musical life and experience or his personality. It is as much what nobody seems to have asked him or what nobody has thought fit to publish about him as about what was published.

For me, it so obvious that Pardon has been mediated that it seems people who cannot are wearing blinkers. It's rather like people who deny speaking English with an accent.

Also for me, denials that any mediation of the sort outlined by Harker happened with WP may not reflect what Harker (pxiii) says (albeit in the context of gathering songs and print media):

'By mediation I mean not just simply the fact that people passed on songs … but that in the very process of so doing their own assumptions, attitudes, likes and dislikes may well have significantly determined what they looked for, accepted and rejected.' Harker aims to set those mediators he discusses in their historical contexts: one day somebody will come along and do the same in respect of the 2nd wave revivalists who found WP. For me, and this is a reasonable point of view, it is very odd to imagine that the body of material, in texts, images, tape recordings, commercial products etc etc created around Walter Pardon are free from the influence of the culture and ideology of those who mediated the man, his life, his work etc, and continue to do this.

For example, proudly proclaimed his 'trade unionism', or argued that his grandfather could not have got songs from broadsheets as he and his family were in the workhouse (this is on Mudcat: wrong grandfather: a different grandfather was in the workhouse).


18 Feb 20 - 03:32 PM (#4034862)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

More gems from Pseudonymous. Well spotted. And not a subjunctive in sight:)


18 Feb 20 - 03:46 PM (#4034866)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

In a post on 17th Feb Jim states WP only constructed a song using printed materials once. He accused me of 'making things up' when I said there was more than one such occasion. I cited Jim himself as the source of my information. I haven't finished searching through my notes, but I may as well share what I found so far, all quotations from Jim/Jim and Pat. The key words in the quotations are 'some' and 'several'. Also 'friends' which would indicate more than just Mike Yates. Also 'books and broadsheets'.

It is one of the ironies of Mudcat that one tends to get reprimanded by Jim for repeating what Jim has said.

I do make mistakes (nothing ventured, nothing gained) but I feel entitled to respond to that particular insult.

So here are the quotations, with dates:

Written 1996
‘he managed to complete from texts some half-known songs in later years…’

Posted 2007
Most of his songs were intact, but those that weren't he filled out from printed texts given to him by friends in the revival. This 'filling in' was done extremely tastefully; that's why, I believe, they are so good. Probably 'Dark Arches' is the best example of these, which he had as 2 verses and a chorus.

Posted Nov 2019
Walter had only fragments and tunes of several songs so he put them together from books and broadsheets, for example ‘Rakish Young Fellow’ and ‘Down by the Dark Arches’.

Not mediated? Not half!


18 Feb 20 - 04:48 PM (#4034873)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,jag

@Pseudonymous "Not mediated? Not half!" I think you are getting confused. Claiming Walter was mediated is one thing, claiming that Walter was 'mediating' his families songs is another kettle of fish altogether.


18 Feb 20 - 10:36 PM (#4034902)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Hello Jag

The 'not mediated, not half!' exclamation referred to the way that it had been stated on this thread that WP produced precisely one piece from fragments using written texts. This, for me, was a piece of 'mediation'.

Sorry if this was not clear.

Also @ Jag. It seems to me that Walter and anybody else is entitled to do what they like with these old songs (barring I suppose where copyright may exist in some version for some reason). The idea that there is a 'right' way to sing them or 'right' interpretations or 'right' or 'wrong' ways to adapt their words has no force for me. If this is my culture, I think I should be able to do what I want with it, including critiquing it where I think it was racist/colonialist/sexist/and yes, even rubbish etc in the past.


I note that the missing section of part 3 of my post of 3.12 is now visible. I don't understand this. I am glad that it is now visible. Because I felt that it made a fair point about the way that posts about perfectly valid 'social science' methods can unfortunately be taken the wrong way. And have been.


18 Feb 20 - 10:38 PM (#4034903)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

@ Jag, sorry, tone may have been blunt in last post.


18 Feb 20 - 10:49 PM (#4034904)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Just to make a point: I got a book about Knapton which informed me of the important biographical detail that WP attended a Methodist class in his youth, the info being based on reports from a local history project in the village. This would have been influential musically, and for me was interesting in terms of links with one specific local political figure involved with Methodism. Nobody said to me 'Well done, that's interesting'. It just goes to show something about some attitudes on Mudcat. It also goes to show, for me, that published 'research' into his musical experiences in life failed, for whatever reason, to produce and interesting fact about the person. For all we know, many more such examples may be mouldering away in the recesses of national sound archives or were simply never discovered.


18 Feb 20 - 11:07 PM (#4034906)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

here is a link to a page also approaching modes starting with the major scale on the same root.

Not sure why Brian found this a gem. It is an approach that is used, though maybe I could have described it a little less clumsily. It starts with the major scale and describes the modes in terms of how they vary from it. It starts with Lydian, approached as major scale with a sharp 4th.

I did indeed learn it on a jazz course, but it is found in other contexts. For me it makes more sense than starting with C and going up through the notes C Ionian, D Dorian etc. I think it's a much better way of thinking about them if you set out to be able to hear the different modes in your head, but that may just be a personal thing.

Happy to hear more about why this was selected as a 'gem' though, if politely phrased.


18 Feb 20 - 11:32 PM (#4034908)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous

Prior to the jazz course I did an Edinburgh Uni course on the fundamentals of music theory, a course I recommended to Steve Gardham I think. That covered modes in a different manner the C Ionian, D Dorian manner. I passed with over 90%. So to whoever it was who thought I didn't have much grasp of modes, I found you patronising. Checked and it was Steve Shaw. Get your coat, Steve :)

True I am not au fait with the stuff critiquing the whole concept or with the various historical views of modes, but what I do know is adequate for this thread, even if not always perfectly applied.


18 Feb 20 - 11:54 PM (#4034910)
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
From: Joe Offer

1000-post threads are about all our system can handle easily. I think this is a pretty good time to bring this thread to a close. Feel free to continue this discussion on another thread if there's a need for it.
Thanks.
-Joe-