American Ballads and Songs

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XX
INTRODUCTION
tions. A considerable section of it carries into the present the wreckage of the culture poetry of the past.
V. The type of traditional songs first to claim the interest and attention of American lovers of balladry is imported, namely, English and Scottish popular ballads surviving in the United States. Something of Old World legend and romance is echoed in these immigrants from the British Isles which have found a home in a new land. Next in interest comes the group of American songs which is in strongest contrast, namely, frontier, pioneer, or cowboy pieces: songs of emigrants westward, of frontier conditions, and frontier characters, or of outlaws and criminals and rovers. Both varieties of song, the imported and the Western, are shrinking in bulk, the one with the fading "of such song at its Old World sources, hence in its importation by immigrants, the other with the advance of popula­tion into Western outposts. A third important group of American traditional songs consists of love pieces of various kinds, which, whether inherited or indigenous, mostly conform to Old World patterns. Such are songs of the constant or the inconstant lover, of the reunion of parted lovers, of the murderous lover, or of lovers thwarted. The forsaken girl is the theme of many ballads and songs, and many pieces hinge upon the attitude of harsh parents. Such songs are familiar and abundant on both sides of the Atlantic, and they need little illustration. Beside songs from older and from later British sources there are many which show derivation from, or reference to, Ireland. There are some American pieces which retain supernatural elements, or make allusion to the supernatural; but on the whole ballads of the supernatural play a shrunken r61e in the New World.
A rough classification of the remaining types of American song would include a few songs of shipwreck






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