Ballads & Songs of Southern Michigan-songbook

A Collection of 200+ traditional songs & variations with commentaries including Lyrics & Sheet music

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Introduction
13
once hearing them, she said: "Most of them if I like a song. Any­way, I write down all I can get the first time, and then wait until I hear the same song again, sometimes many weeks later. After hear­ing a song twice I usually have the tune in my head and the words in my book." Upon examining her copied texts I found many songs like "William Hall," "Sam Bass," and "Barbara Allen" accurately and beautifully recorded. For the first time I realized that, instead of being responsible for the loss of traditional songs, the radio is a substitute for the old folk singers who are fast passing and is doing much to preserve time-honored favorites.
The part played by traditional songs in the lives of people of earlier generations is hard for us to realize. We have found a declaration of Oliver Goldsmith that "The music of the finest singer is dissonance to what I felt when our old dairy-maid sung me into tears with 'Johnny Armstrong's Last Good-night' or The Cruelty of Barbara Allen.' "° But nevertheless we were astonished when an elderly in­formant of Grindstone City remarked: "I never could bear to hear 'Barbara Allen' because it was so dreadfully sad it made me cry and cry." Another informant whom we met in the same place said: "When I was young the Scotch farmers of the neighborhood about Grindstone would gather in some home to listen to their best singers. One of them was always requested to sing 'The Misdetoe Bough' because she made it so sad and frightening." Then the speaker added: "Although I now have a beautiful home in California and travel a great deal, nothing ever gives me the pleasure which I derived from the old-time 'sings' in Grindstone when I was young." Our entire col­lection is evidence that Michigan pioneers were singing folk, but the most eloquent testimony of all is five manuscript collections, by means of which the words of many of the most popular old ballads and songs have been preserved.
SOME FACTORS IN THE STUDY OF FOLK SONG
During the years 1882-98 a great compilation of traditional songs, The English and Scottish Popular Bdlads, edited by Professor Francis James Child of Harvard University, was published. This work, in five large volumes, includes twelve hundred versions of three hundred and five distinct ballads, assembled chiefly from three sources: original manuscripts in European and American libraries; original manuscripts owned by private individuals; and printed col­lections derived from manuscripts. In its final form the work com­prises practically every obtainable version of every extant English
8 Essays of Oliver Goldsmith (The Bibliophile Society, Boston, 1928), II, 16.







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