American Ballads and Songs

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INTRODUCTION
xvii
It is often a difficult matter to secure songs from the singers with good voices and retentive memories who know them best. Every collector has had expe­rience with those whose modesty or perversity or fear of ridicule makes them unwilling to sing, for purposes of notation, the pieces in their repertory.
Even in the older and more isolated regions the influx of modern music has replaced traditional pieces by those in contemporary vogue. And the lessening of illiteracy has made remote communities less dependent for entertainment on what has been handed down. The prestige has diminished of singers with large repertories for whom, as for their audiences, the printed page means nothing. The broad-sheets containing older songs have been destroyed with the passing of the taste for them. In some communities, religious motives have lain behind the discarding of traditional pieces. They were thought to be "ungodly" by their singers. As time goes on, the popularity of the vicar­ious music of the phonograph (with the possibilities of variety and novelty afforded by its records) and the introduction of other forms of amusement have lessened the amount of singing for entertainment. It is not to be expected that singing will die out. Probably there will always be circulation of older songs apart from the printed page, in outlying regions where growth and change come slowly; but traditional song will not play the same r61e as formerly, and the songs entering into oral currency will be fewer and shorter lived. At the present time, the very multiplicity of new pieces lessens the chance that many will survive. When rural folk were thrown back almost solely upon song for diversion, it loomed larger and was more likely to retain vitality.
As regards regional distribution, traditional songs of the character of those included in this volume are found






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