Folk & Traditional Music of the Western Continents

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written in the twentieth century) functioned somewhat as news­papers in areas in which illiteracy was common. All of them did not, of course, pass into oral tradition, but a good many of them did and have thus become true folk songs. Some of our best-known songs originated as English broadside ballads: "The Foggy Dew," made popular by Carl Sandburg, "Brennan on the Moor," "Devilish Mary," and "Sam Hall." Some of the broadsides are even derived from the Child ballads. Thus, a broadside ballad called "The Turkish Lady" appeared, but it is obviously just a variant of "Lord Bateman" (Child 53), in which a Turkish lady saves an English prisoner in her father's jail and marries him. The tunes of the broadside ballads are of diverse origin. Many of the printed broadsides did not include music but simply stated that the song was to be sung to the tune of this or that popular song, folk song, or hymn. Thus many of these ballads are sung to tunes belonging to music hall songs, hymns, and older bal­lads. Finally, the practice of printing broadside ballads and their dis­semination into folk tradition is found not only in Britain but also in most European countries and, of course, in America.
The style of English folk music
As we have pointed out, the music of the English ballads does not differ greatly from that of English folk song in general; thus, the discussion of ballad tunes below can be said to apply to English folk song at large. Many of the older tunes have, as one characteristic, a melodic contour which forms, roughly, an arc, starting low, rising in the second phrase, remaining on the higher level of tessitura in the third phrase, and moving down to the level of the first in the fourth phrase. Four phrases or lines are common, but of course five (usually through repetition of the fourth), six, and eight are also found, as well as two and three. Three examples of English folk song follow (Examples 4-3, 4-4, and 4-5); they may be considered representative of the whole style to an extent, but we should remember that certain song types, such as dance songs, game ditties, children's songs, and humorous songs are not represented. Example 4-3 is a Scots version of Child 76, as sung by Ewan MacColl, the well-known folk singer. Example 4-4 is a variant of the same song collected in Southern In­diana. It is essentially the same melody, but is sung in quite a differ-

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