English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians

122 Songs and Ballads, and 323 Tunes With Lyrics & sheet Music - online book

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Introduction
xix
know—and there is really no trustworthy evidence on this point—the English folk-singer of the eighteenth century may still have been using the gapped scale and may not have advanced to the understanding and use of the 7-note scale until the following century. And if this supposi­tion be made—and it is at least a possible one—we may argue that the ancestors of our mountain singers hailed originally from England and that they sang in the gapped scale because that was the habit which then prevailed amongst their contemporaries. An analysis of the names of the singers recorded in this volume does not help us very much, but, so far as it goes, it seems to support rather than to contradict this latter supposition.
However, it is not a matter of any great importance which of these two hypotheses we accept, because, in either event, the tunes in question would quite correctly be called English. For, as folk-lorists will, I think, agree, England and the English-speaking parts of Scotland must, so far as folk-tales, folk-songs and other folk-products are concerned, be re­garded as one homogeneous area.
The Cultural Significance of Tradition. The words and the tunes in this Collection are typical and authentic examples of the beginnings and foundations of English literature and music. The history of man is the history of his efforts to express himself, and the degree to which he has at any given moment succeeded in doing this is the measure of the civilization to which he has attained. The method by which he has sought to achieve this end has been through the exercise and development of certain inborn and basic human faculties; and his achievements are concretely to be seen in the literature, music, paint­ing, dancing, sculpture and other art - works which each nation has created and accumulated and in which it finds reflected its own peculiar and distinctive characteristics. The process is a cumulative one, the children of each generation receiving from their fathers that which, with certain modifications and additions of their own, they be­queath to their children. The historian, however, will point out that this process is not uniformly progressive; that nations in the course of their development pass through different phases, and that, in consonance with these, their artistic output varies in character and quality from period to period. These variations, however, fluctuate within certain clearly defined limits, and are superficial rather than radical; so that, while each may reflect with greater or less fidelity the specific outlook of a particular epoch, the form of expression remains fundamentally true to






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