"The folk who have sung ballads for a long while past,
have been simple of mind and station."
Gordon Gerould, writer (1932)
"To sing you must first open your mouth.
You must have a pair of lungs, and a little knowledge of music.
It is not necessary to have an accordion, or a guitar.
The essential thing is to want to sing.
This then is a song.
I am singing."
Henry Miller, American writer ("Tropic of Cancer", 1934)
" The notion that folk music is a degenerate version of
what we call composed music dies hard..."
Ralph Vaughn Williams, English composer and song collector (1934)
"...folklore does not separate itself from the people."
Joseph Stalin, Soviet Leader (1938)
"There are many who speak reverently of the folk music
of other countries - Spanish flamenços, Mexican nuapangos,
Russian peasant tunes - and yet look condencendingly on
the native products of New England, North Carolina or Iowa.
Let them listen to Aunt Molly Jackson.
Let them listen to the dance songs, the music of the prairies,
the work songs, the folk music that has become part of
the day-to-day life of the American, for this country music
yields to no other in it's richness, variety and musical quality "
Elie Siegmeister, composer (New York Times , February 11, 1940)
"Songs of pioneer days, and up to the Civil War,
are closely interwoven with the old fiddle tunes.
There may be found bars from one or more
of the old tunes mixed through many of the songs,
While in some instances the words are set
to the fiddle tune note for note"
Ira W. Ford, ("Traditional Music of America", 1940)
"What the historian must bear in mind above all
in what is and what is not folklore is the fact
that it is the history and not the origin of a given place of lore...
that makes the folklore."
Benjamin Botkin ("The Cultural Approach to History", 1940)
"The greatest and most enduring songs
are wrung from unhappy people."
John Steinbeck, American writer (about 1940)
"...People need music to march by and to fight with,
and if you composers don't dish it out right on the split second,
you'll find folks passing you up and making their own
and playing and singing it...."
Woody Guthrie , American folk singer (The New York Times, April 4, 1943)
"Many folkies still fail to acknowledge that the roots of,
say country and western music are also folk roots."
A.L. Lloyd, ethnomusicologist ("The Singing Englishman", 1944)
"Whatever way you look at it,
English folk-song as it is now is a museum piece.
It is no longer a living thing.
The series has long since been discontinued
and all we have are the back numbers."
A.L. Lloyd, song collector ("Keynote: The Progressive Music Quarterly", 1945)
"American folk music, right along with machine production,
is the great cultural product of the American people."
Alan Lomax , song collector ("PM", 1946)
"I think the people back in those days were more sociable,
and more inclined to get together and sing and do things."
Texas Gladden, ballad singer (interview with Alan Lomax, 1946)
"Ballads and other forms of anthracite folklore
were spread by intinerant miner minstrels.
Blood brothers of the Celtic wandering minstrels
of old, vagabonds with a distaste of the mining craft,
they tramped with a ballad on their lips,
a fiddle or a guitar under the arm,
and not infrequently, a flask on the hip."
Georse Korson ("Songs and ballads of the anthracite miners", 1946)
"...folk singers render their music more naturally in the easy sociability
of their homes and churches and schools, in their fields and woodyards,
Just as birds sing more effectively in their native trees and country"
John Lomax, world music collector ("Adventures of a Ballad Hunter", 1947)
"A folk song is what is wrong and how to fix it
or it could be whose hungry and where there mouth is
or whose out of work and where the job is
or whose broke and where the money is
or whose carrying a gun and where the peace is"
Woody Guthrie , American folk singer (about 1948)
"A folk singer has a peculiar quality of voice
that make the music itself sound different:
one is not sure of the intervals, or even the notes,
and is puzzled by the frequent breaks of rhythm."
Evelyn Kendrick Wells, ("The Ballad Tree", 1950)
"Folk singing is not new at all,
for it has been going on since
there were folks on earth to sing."
The Weavers Sing (1951)
"...tradition dies hard. Memory may weaken,
but the love of the song remains
and with little encouragement it springs up anew."
Maud Karpeles, song collector ("English Folksongs From The Southern Appalachians", reprint 1952)
"The most striking characteristic of Yugoslav folklore
is its astonishing diversity,
due to the geographical position of Yugoslavia,
to its extremely mountainious terrain,
and to the stormy history of this part of the Balkans."
Albert L. Lloyd, Etnomusicologist at Harvard University (about 1953)
"The thing is, I never was really in love.
Only with one thing - that was singing and music."
Margaret Barry, Irish singer and banjo player, (interview with Alan Lomax, 1953)
"Folk-music is the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved
through the process of oral transmission.
The factors that shape the tradition are:
(i) continuity which links the present with the past;
(ii) variation which springs from the creative impulse
of the individual or the group; and
(iii) selection by the community, which determines the form or forms
in which the music survives.
The terms can be apllied to music that has been evolved
from rudimentary beginnings by popular and art-music
and it can likewise be applied to music which has originated
with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed
into the unwritten living tradition of a community."
Definition of folk-music (International Folk Music Council, São Paulo 1954)
"Every generation of collectors has anounced
mournfully that ballad singing is a dying art
and that the end of collection is in sight.
Ballad singing is far from dead today,
and if the end of collection is in sight it is
because the texts collected will be increasingly suspect
Bartlett Jere Whiting ("Traditional British Ballads" 1955)
"Since Sharp's time, numerous collectors have sourced the Southern Mountains
for folk songs and ballads, and each has proclaimed
his own collection to the 'last leaves' of a once rich culture."
Kenneth S. Goldstein, writer (1956)
"However French they may be in origin,
Cajun folksongs have in some cases a definite Negro flavor,
to be found in the superimposed elementary rhytms
which give them a sort of 'jazzy' atmosphere,
nowhere else to be found in folksongs
derived from France other than in the Caribbean."
Lucie de Vienne, actress and writer (Introduction to "Cajun songs from Louisiana" 1956)
"As for shanties, a sailing ship was not properly run without them
and whalers used them as much as did the clippers."
Paul Clayton, folksinger (1957)
"The wildest and most beautiful of [...]
Negro work songs come from the peniteniary
where the old Southern system of forced labor reaches its apogee."
Alan Lomax, song collector (Liner notes "Prison Songs" 1957)
"When Herder, in 1773, first brought the word 'Volkslied' into litery use.
he was concerned primarly with folk poetry, not music.
A century later when the English folk song movement
which culminated in the work from Cecil Sharp was under way,
the position was reversed"
James Reeves, ("The Idiom of the People", 1958)
"The pitiful theme of girls led astray and betrayed,
being unhappily a commonplace of rural life everywhere,
is naturally represented in folk song."
Donal O'Sullivan, scholar and song collector ("Songs of the Irish", 1960)
"... my enthusiasm for folk songs
really started in Greece with Greek folk songs."
Sidney Carter, song writer (1960)