American Ballads and Songs

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xvi
INTRODUCTION
relics of culture poetry, and they have their own art, traditions, and etiquette. These may be naive, but it would never occur to the singers to wish for innova­tions, or for something more elaborate. From the art, traditions, and etiquette that it knows, the folk never wavers. Departure from them, within the limits of a period or place, is out of the question. It is always surprising that such variety may appear in the handling of stock material, yet so little inventiveness be ex­hibited, or novelty in technique.
III. Ballad singing was once a dignified means of s/entertaining a company. There was singing at social gatherings and at the games and dances of young folks, as well as on occasions of more impromptu character. Singing of this type is now much restricted, but it lingers in out-of-the-way places, as in the chimney nooks of farm houses, or by the stove in the cross-roads store. Ballad singing is not often to be heard from beggars and cripples, as once so typically in the Old World, nor on village greens; but casual knots of listeners may still be entertained by them in the cabin, in the cornfield, or by the creek. Occasionally they .are heard in village parlors, or here and there in the -drawing rooms of cities. Bits of picturesque old ;songs may sometimes be heard from children, who learned them from neighboring families or picked them up in the street. Ballads are most alive in the moun­tainous regions of the Southeast and on Western ( ranches. vfThe more isolated the region, the better the r chance for the survival of old songs. They may be sung to the fiddle or accordion, the mouth-harp, or occasionally to a cabinet organ. In the Cumberland mountains they are still sung to the banjo or to the "dulcimore," a three-stringed instrument plucked with the fingers, descending from Elizabethan days.






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III