Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

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study of ballad variants, their interrelationship, structure, and origin, has been carried further for English material than elsewhere. Of German folklore we know best the songs that have come into the repertory rather recently. Swedish folk music happens to have availa­ble a large collection of fiddle tunes, because some Swedish collec­tors have concentrated on this aspect of music. Also, the Germanic peoples have been strongly influenced by their neighbors. For ex­ample, English folk song shows considerable relationship to that of the Low Countries and France, while German folk music is at times similar to that of its neighbors to the east, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Hungary, and Austrian folk songs have some common features with those of Italy. Thus, while we are treating the Germanic peo­ples as a unit in one chapter, it should not be assumed that their folk music is necessarily a stylistic unit. We should avoid the correspond­ing conclusion that the style of Germanic musics goes back to the time when all Germanic peoples were one and spoke one tongue, and the equally erroneous assumption that the Germanic-speaking peo­ples possess a psychic unity. The heritage of Germanic languages goes back much further than the style of present-day folk music, and whatever similarities are found are due almost certainly to cultural contact in recent times, that is, from the early Middle Ages on.
The English Child ballads
The most characteristic type of British folk song is the ballad, and the most famous ballads are the Child ballads. These have noth­ing to do with children but rather bear the name of Francis James Child (1825-96), who organized, published, and classified those bal­lads which he assumed were of popular (that is, rural and truly anonymous) origin. He avoided, in his classification, those ballads in the folk tradition which could be traced to the cities or to profes­sional song writers, and those which he thought did not have high literary quality. Because the different variants of each ballad do not bear identical titles or first lines, he gave each ballad (or group of variants) a number, and for this reason the most famous ballads are known by their "Child numbers."
The most famous of the English ballads should be known to the reader: Child 2, "The Elfin Knight"; Child 10, "The Two Sisters";

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