Ballads & Songs of Southern Michigan-songbook

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

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Introduction
23
room" of some western forms,26 In the Michigan text of "The Girl I Left Behind" "Alasko" is evidently a misheard form for "Glas­gow" of other texts, and the words "cruel treat" were heard for the "cruelty" of other versions. The senseless "streamlets dark acoople" of the Michigan "Jack Haggerty," text A, has replaced "the strong darts of Cupid " In the Michigan variant of "The Sherfield Appren­tice" "I rolled around in pleasure" is substituted for "I rode in such pleasures" of the Cox version. In "Bold Dighton," Michigan A has "It being made night," where the Mackenzie version more sensibly has "midnight."
Even the shocking mutilations suffered by fine old ballads such as "Lord Randal" (see p. 35) and "The Two Sisters" are preserved in our versions of these songs. Maudlin corruptions like "The Rich Young Farmer," "A Seaman and His Love," and "Lovely Willie's Sweet­heart" are recorded just as they were given to us. The very little that was unprintable is indicated by dashes; the obviously forgotten or the undecipherable, by dots. Except in the case of manuscript versions, which appear to have been recorded from oral singing or recitation, we have assumed the liberty of regularizing the text with respect to capitalization, punctuation, and arrangement of stanzas. Usually the misspelling is unchanged because it, too, is evidence of oral transmission. For example, the text of "The Silver Dagger" could scarcely have been copied from a song book with such results as "crule" for "cruel," "afare" for "affair," "Zian" for "Zion," "plesent" for "pleasant," "pearced" for "pierced" Such local titles as have been given to us (see Section II) we have used instead of the familiar ones in other collections because these variations, too, indicate that informants were not familiar with printed sources.
Although knowing well that the life of a song is no more in its words than in its melody, however much that may fluctuate, for a long time we recorded only the words of songs because we were unable to secure the services of a competent transcriber of tunes. A few who had done their best to record these as they were sung had been baffled by the usual vagaries of folk singers, whose habit it is to change pitch, time, and melody during the course of a song, as suits their fancy. They indulge in unfamiliar intervals, in unex­pected, protracted rests, and in long holds. When words or phrases do not fit a tune they are singing, they often without pause recite a line or two, then perhaps switch to another tune. In the summer of 1936 Miss Gloryn Eichkern of Wayne University, a church organist in Detroit, was persuaded to transcribe as accurately as she could from
M See Louise Pound, American Ballads and Songs, p. 170.







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