English and Scottish Ballads, Volumes II, III and IV. of 8

Child Ballads
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There is no wonder this should be the case when one considers that the singers or reciters by whom these ballads were preserved and handed down, must, in general, have had a facility, from memory at least, if not from genius which they might often possess , of filling up verses which they had forgotten, or altering such as they might think they could improve.

Passing through this process in different parts of the country, the ballads, admitting that they had one common poetical original which is not to be inferred merely from the similitude of the story , became, in progress of time, totally different productions, so far as the tone and spirit of each is concerned. In such cases, perhaps, it is as well to keep them separate, as giving in their original state a more accurate idea of our ancient poetry, which is the point most important in such collections.

If they are at all worth preserving […] it assuredly must be in the very garb in which they are remembered and known, and can be proved to exist amongst us. It will not do to indulge in idle speculation as to what they once may have been, and to recast them in what we may fancy were their original moulds.

With many of these ballads, liberties of the most exceptionable and flagrant description have occasionally been taken by their respective editors, liberties as uncalled for as they are unpardonable in the eye of every rigid and honest critick. Some of these offences against truth and correct taste, are of a very deep, others of a lighter shade of criminality, but be they what they may in magnitude, all are alike deserving of unmitigated condemnation. By selecting the most beautiful and striking passages, which present themselves in the one copy, and making these cohere as they best may, with similar extracts detached from the other copy, the editor of oral poetry succeeds in producing from the conflicting texts of his various authorities, a tirdd [ sic ] version more perfect and ornate than any individual one as it originally stood.

This improved version may contain the quintessence — the poetick elements of each copy consulted, but in this general resemblance to all, it loses its particular affinity to any one.

  • Editor's note.
  • Two Problematical Scottish Ballad Texts?
  • English and Scottish Ballads, Volume 4 (of 8) by Francis James Child.

Its individuality entirely disappears, and those features by which each separate copy proved its authenticity, in the collated version, become faint and dubious, confused and undistinguishable. Under the pressure of such circumstances, then, it surely is the duty of the collector and editor of Traditionary ballads, to avoid the perilous and frequently abortive task, of uniting discordant and essentially incohesive texts, and to content himself with merely selecting that one of his copies which appears the most complete and least vitiated — and to give it purely and simply as he obtained it, without hazarding any emendation whatsoever.

Ritson, for example, edited a number of ballad books which by and large adhere to his insistence on printing texts just as they were found. And yet as with so many of the classic published ballad collections there is actually no clear statement of editorial policy in The English and Scottish Popular Ballads at all. It is possible to substantiate these assertions by dipping into The English and Scottish Popular Ballads more or less at random, but a few examples will illustrate the main categories of editorial practice that demand consideration here.

In lines Peter Bitchan, Ancient Battads and Songs Table 6. The collation of variants within an apparatus appended to a clear reading text was — and remains — standard practice, though it is not without consequences. As Peter Shillingsburg has intimated, one difficulty is that the method necessarily tends to privilege one set of readings, which provide the clear reading text, at the expense of all those collated in the apparatus — that is to say, it privileges one text over another.

The effect is especially pronounced when the apparatus is some pages removed from the reading text, as is often the case in The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. In the first of these categories are the many instances like Child 20 I where Child follows a base text in a manuscript but also records variant readings arising when it was subsequently published, recopied in manuscript, or reprinted elsewhere.

Campbell, who also cited parts of it in his Popular Tales of the West Highlands. In Child 10 R a the miller fishes the drowning girl out of the stream, takes her gold chain from her, pushes her back in, and ends up being hanged for his pains. What an editor is being called upon to do is to make a judgement concerning the significance of degrees of difference. Does each separate manifestation, rendering, or iteration invariably warrant entirely separate editorial treatment, or does this only become the case once a certain degree of difference has been attained, and if so where does the line of demarcation lie?

Of course, if they were copied one from another they would be genetically related in some degree, and their variant readings might appear semantically quite insignificant even while their bibliographic codes might be very different indeed. Conversely, the broadsides themselves might well have existed at quite different times and in quite different places, and it is therefore difficult not to allow that they are just as much different versions as ballads collected from contributors similarly separated by time and space.

And if the argument holds for different printings, does it not then equally hold for the individual sheets, even if they are to all intents and purposes lexically identical? His system of designation using upper-case and lower-case lettering is certainly neither transparent nor consistent throughout The English and Scottish Popular Ballads.

And while the trajectory from Percy, or at least from Scott, through to Child appears on the face of it to have determined that the locus of authority for ballad editing should lie not with the abstract ballad type but with the supposedly concrete, unitary version, and thence with its individual source, be that a person or a printing, the precise definition of version and source has remained elusive.

Like Percy and Scott, Child was a pioneer, but since his time the theory of text for ballad editing has remained largely uncharted. A representative statement of policy is given by Arthur Kyle Davis in the introduction to Traditional Ballads of Virginia :. No editorial liberties have been taken with the text. In every case, it is given as it was sent in, presumably as it was sung, essentially without emendation. Punctuation has, of course, been supplied where it was lacking or inaccurate; bad or unusual spelling, where it had no connection with the original pronunciation or rendition, has been corrected; stanza divisions have been provided, sometimes conjecturally, in order to present the words in a standard and readable form.

But the essential folk quality of these ballads has not been tampered with. The endeavor has been to present it as accurately as possible. Where one or the other was obviously in error, the two have been brought into conformity, but in a few cases, rather than make an arbitrary decision, the two readings have been allowed to stand as self-declared variants. The remaining differences are slight, and both readings are phonetically possible.

The gain may well be a seeming shift of the locus of textual authority away from documentary records and on to the contributor per se. This accords well with ethnographic perspectives on traditional singers and singing, and with the Romantic notion of the autonomy of the creative artist though not with the fact that the contributor is most commonly not the original author or prime creator of the ballad in question.

The Anglo-Scottish Ballad and its Imaginary Contexts

In fact, the seeming gain from the locating of textual authority with an autonomous source will turn out to be illusory and unattainable. He made it clear, however, that he also discussed the songs with the contributors, asking them, for example, if they knew of further stanzas that he himself knew from printed sources and on a few occasions he revisited a contributor after a lapse of time to go over the texts again. It is at this stage s that some of the handwritten amendments to the rough copy texts are thought to have been made.

In a few instances, too, he noted words from the cylinder recordings on to the rough copy typescripts. Certainly, some of the amendments take the form of variant readings, additional stanzas, and the like. However, there are also many more mundane alterations — insertion of punctuation, standardization of spellings, and so forth — which look to have been made, quite possibly at a significantly later date, in anticipation of eventual publication of the ballad collection which was never achieved in his lifetime.

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In addition, the sound recordings frequently preserve sets of words that vary to a greater or lesser extent from the typescripts. The dictaphone recordings are generally of extremely poor quality. In some cases the disc copies, which were made at an earlier stage in the life of the wax cylinders, provide a better though still not very good signal. The editor is no longer dealing simply with single texts derived from single sources, but with dynamic texts that may derive from multiple sources — that is to say, from both the contributor and the collector, and from their unique interaction.

One thing that I attribute the value of my collection is the fact that… I have the ability to hold great masses of stuff in my memory. And I go over the ballads until I know them consecutively, straight through like that, and… after the person has finished singing, very often the excitement of singing on to a dictaphone makes him forget one or two or three stanzas that he knows. I… loved the stuff and was eager to get it… perfectly. Was that in it?

So many people, when you are trying to write for dictation… when you are waiting the two minutes for him to copy, then the sequence slips out of your mind and the next stanza that you were going to put in just slides through and you go to the third one instead. No singer intends to stumble over or forget their words. And as they rode upon the way They saw some poops of hay Oh is not this a pretty place For boys and girls to play? The same sorts of considerations will apply wherever a word is misspelled in a manner that might, but equally might not, represent a genuine dialectal pronunciation: how is the intention to be divined and how should the word be rendered in a critical edition?

There are possible ways of cutting this particular Gordian knot — for example, publishing the materials in an electronic archive. An archive, however, does not constitute an edition. For one thing, it will justify the straightforward choice of fair copy as base text, against which variants can be collated.

This will have certain advantages in terms of reducing, or at least systematizing, editorial guesswork or inference, and ensuring some degree of consistency of treatment — it renders the editing process more transparent. The corollary is that textual authority is located not with the contributor as autonomous source, but with the social nexus that brought that particular text into being. In particular, the necessary agency of the collector is brought fully into the equation.

Ballad texts edited in this light embody an awareness of multiple agency which is essential to literary or musical production of any kind. Applied to the ballad, the social theory renders the collector no longer as unreliable agent or mediator but instead as the necessary representative of an essential process of textual reception. And this is not because the collector is simply the individual who translates vocalized sound into writing. That is to say, the ballad, rendered either as sound or as writing, comprises a semiotic code through which language and music are represented in tangible, material form.

What the collector does is simply to provide a reification of the process of reception and to bring it to the attention of the editor who may, of course, be the same person , who then has to locate it within a theory of text and deal with it accordingly. This instability finds its immediate reification in such things as the rendering of spelling, punctuation, and word, line, and stanza divisions. These are all products of the reception process. Unlike the literary author, the ballad singer has virtually no authority whatsoever over such matters.

A word such as poops is a visible instance of the process, which is best accounted for, if not necessarily explained, in terms of the operation of multiple agencies in ballad textualization. Neither does the work of the ballad editor. Instead, what the editor can do is to present a text that is necessarily a product of multiple agencies, including both editor and reader, and of concomitant textualizations of an underlying medium of language and music into different tangible semiotic codes, such as sound and writing, in the course of its passage into print.

The ballad does not bear the authority of an autonomous source. The contributor, like the collector, like anyone else, also represents an agency within a continuous process of textual reception, which has moments of textualization in material form. A more balanced, but nonetheless quite critical, account of ballad editing runs through the work of David Gregory. See E. Roger deV. One specific target for criticism is the absence of melodies from earlier editions, which is a fair point, but one that, ironically, tends also to emphasize the inherent separability of words and music.

Mary Ellen Brown and Bruce A. On the other hand, there is no real evidence of textual editing. And as they rode upon the way They saw some poops of hay Oh is not this a pretty place For boys and girls to play? The same sorts of considerations will apply wherever a word is misspelled in a manner that might, but equally might not, represent a genuine dialectal pronunciation: how is the intention to be divined and how should the word be rendered in a critical edition? There are possible ways of cutting this particular Gordian knot — for example, publishing the materials in an electronic archive.

An archive, however, does not constitute an edition. For one thing, it will justify the straightforward choice of fair copy as base text, against which variants can be collated. This will have certain advantages in terms of reducing, or at least systematizing, editorial guesswork or inference, and ensuring some degree of consistency of treatment — it renders the editing process more transparent. The corollary is that textual authority is located not with the contributor as autonomous source, but with the social nexus that brought that particular text into being.

In particular, the necessary agency of the collector is brought fully into the equation. Ballad texts edited in this light embody an awareness of multiple agency which is essential to literary or musical production of any kind. Applied to the ballad, the social theory renders the collector no longer as unreliable agent or mediator but instead as the necessary representative of an essential process of textual reception. And this is not because the collector is simply the individual who translates vocalized sound into writing.

That is to say, the ballad, rendered either as sound or as writing, comprises a semiotic code through which language and music are represented in tangible, material form. What the collector does is simply to provide a reification of the process of reception and to bring it to the attention of the editor who may, of course, be the same person , who then has to locate it within a theory of text and deal with it accordingly.

This instability finds its immediate reification in such things as the rendering of spelling, punctuation, and word, line, and stanza divisions.

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These are all products of the reception process. Unlike the literary author, the ballad singer has virtually no authority whatsoever over such matters. A word such as poops is a visible instance of the process, which is best accounted for, if not necessarily explained, in terms of the operation of multiple agencies in ballad textualization. Neither does the work of the ballad editor. Instead, what the editor can do is to present a text that is necessarily a product of multiple agencies, including both editor and reader, and of concomitant textualizations of an underlying medium of language and music into different tangible semiotic codes, such as sound and writing, in the course of its passage into print.

The ballad does not bear the authority of an autonomous source. The contributor, like the collector, like anyone else, also represents an agency within a continuous process of textual reception, which has moments of textualization in material form.

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A more balanced, but nonetheless quite critical, account of ballad editing runs through the work of David Gregory. See E. Roger deV. One specific target for criticism is the absence of melodies from earlier editions, which is a fair point, but one that, ironically, tends also to emphasize the inherent separability of words and music. Mary Ellen Brown and Bruce A. On the other hand, there is no real evidence of textual editing.

Editor's note

It is still not uncommon to find the poet and playwright Ambrose Philips credited as editor of A Collection of Old Ballads , but there is no real evidence for this attribution. Dodsley, , i , ix. Johnson, , i , x. Rivington, , i , xvi—xvii. Hales and Frederick J. Furnivall, ed. Henderson, 4 vols Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, [] , iv , Henderson, i , —68 and see also i, xvii—xxi. Henderson, i , xxxii—xxxiii. Sharp London: Heinemann, , pp. Arthur H.

The Long Harvest traditional English and Scottish ballads sung by Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl

See also Harker, Fakesong , p. Buchan apparently copied out several different ballad manuscripts, of which the Harvard MS is the most comprehensive. Thomas A. Laing; J. Stevenson; Aberdeen: A. Wylie; Robertson and Atkinson; Perth: D. Darling, , ii , — Christie, ed. Brewer, , p. It remains to be seen whether electronic editions really can circumvent this difficulty. Renwick Austin: University of Texas Press, , pp.

Ballad scholars are currently more likely to think of Child 10 R a, b, and c as three distinct versions. Frances J. First, it is a not infrequent observation that singers can find it difficult to recall the words of a song other than in direct association with the melody, and vice versa, and that external interruptions can altogether disrupt the flow. Both Cecil Sharp and Percy Grainger allude to aspects of this phenomenon. See Cecil J. Secondly, some singers are on record as having been only too glad to be pointed towards fuller texts of songs they knew only in part.

It is presented here in accordance with orthographic principles developed for a critical edition of the Carpenter collection.

Loch Lomond - Peter Hollens

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Child Ballads

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Hodgart, M. There is also evidence of adoption of the fiddle in the Highlands with Martin Martin noting in his A Description of the Western Isles of Scotland that he knew of eighteen players in Lewis alone. It was printed in one thousand copies, and issued in ten parts, each with a half-title and title page. And while the trajectory from Percy, or at least from Scott, through to Child appears on the face of it to have determined that the locus of authority for ballad editing should lie not with the abstract ballad type but with the supposedly concrete, unitary version, and thence with its individual source, be that a person or a printing, the precise definition of version and source has remained elusive. Significant collections of ballads can be investigated in a number of major research libraries.

Desktop version Mobile version. Results per book Results per chapter. Open Book Publishers. Sound and Writing. Search inside the book. Table of contents. Cite Share. Cited by. Agency , Intention, and the Problem of Version with a brief history of ballad editing p. Editor's note Text Notes. Full text. Mary Ellen Brown and Bru Friedman, The Ballad Revival: Studies in Rivington, Henderson, 4 vols Edinburgh: Oliver A new edition of the Minstr First, it is a not infrequent observation that singers can find i Zoom in Original jpeg, 23k.

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