Ballads & Songs of Southern Michigan-songbook

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

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24           Ballads and Songs of Michigan
the singing of informants a goodly number of tunes which at an earlier date had been sung for us. We much regret that by the time we were able to collect these melodies many of our informants cither had lost their voices as the result of advanced age or had died.
Cecil Sharp, who collected the music for many traditional songs which he found in the Southern Appalachians pointed out that no one singer nor any two singers ever repeat the same piece in iden­tically the same way. Consequently we realize that if we had begun recording tunes earlier, we should have had many more of them. As illustrations of the varied tunes to which a single ballad may be sung, we give several variants of the melodies of some old favorites like "The Farmer's Curst Wife" and of some later broadsides like "Who Is Tapping at My Bedroom Window?".
In closing the study of our collection of songs and ballads we find that our conclusions are very similar to those drawn by Professor H. M. Belden concerning the Missouri collection.27
(i) Our twenty-nine Child ballads are in the main simple ones of romantic tragedy or of a sentimental tone, although there are in addition to these one riddle ballad, one border ballad, and two humorous ballads.
(2)  The ballads of our collection which in their British form con­tain supernatural elements tend to lose these in Michigan; a few simple superstitions such as a talking bird, three ghosts, and several prophetic dreams remain.
(3)  Such ballad conventions as the testamentary instructions in "The Cup of Cold Poison"; the sequence of relatives and the incre­mental repetition in "The Golden Ball"; alliterative formulas illus­trated by "royal robes," "wan water," "merry maidens," "merry men," "clay cold"; and stock epithets seen in "scarlet red," "ivory comb," "milk-white steed," "milk-white skin," persist here and there.
(4)  The full ballad style, for example that of "Hind Horn," is fairly well preserved in twenty-two of the Child ballads represented; and a later ballad style is equally well kept in "Kate and the Cow­hide," "The Dog and the Gun," "Johnny Sands," "William Reily's Courtship," "Johnny Troy," and several other texts.
(5)   The subjects of the ballads not included under (4) above are largely those popular in broadsides or stall ballads of the last two centuries in England. A favorite theme in these pieces is that of a returned sailor or soldier lover, represented in Michigan by "The
"IAFL, XXV, 1-23.

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