American Ballads and Songs

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Other characteristics of genuine folk-songs are that they have retainedtheir vitalityjthjniigh n. fair pprjpd of time and'that airi•nse^oTlheu^authorship andL-pro-venience haiTbeen logi/fcy then-, .gingers. Criteria^o^ origin fOr the genuineness of folk-song have no depend≠ability. A body of folk-song is increased by pieces of many origins; especially by the adaptation q£,gki PJPGes^ and by the absorption and Inetamorphosis into the stream of oral tradition of popular verse of many book or literary types. The only valid tests of genuine folk-song are not based on manner of origin but are the three just named. Genuine folk-songs are not static but are in a state of flux; they have been handed down through a fair period of time; and all sense of their authorship and origin has been lost.
The songs included in the following volume are for the most part simple in type, and they have been gath≠ered in many parts of the United States. They come from scattered sources and from the tongues of maqy kinds of singers. Both songs telling a story, or ballads proper, and purely lyrical pieces have been included. The dividing line is sometimes hard to draw; for ballads often lose their thread of story and become pure lyrics. The reverse process, namely, that songs in oral tradition gradually assume a narrative element and become ballads, appears rarely if at all. Inferior pieces are included liberally in the volume as well as those of. better quality. Whatever types have appealed to the folk-consciousness sufficiently to win preservation for themselves have been held to deserve represen≠tation.
Some delimitations have been observed, however. Songs of the following types are well known to many singers who have never seen them in print, but they have not .been given representation in these pages: patriotic pieces, like America, Yankee Doodle, or