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Vaughan Williams on Music$
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David Manning

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182392

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182392.001.0001

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How to Sing a Folk-Song

How to Sing a Folk-Song

(p.219) Chapter 42 How to Sing a Folk-Song
Vaughan Williams on Music

David Manning

Oxford University Press

The traditional ballad or folk song, in England at all events, is always strophical. Not only is ballad music looked upon by traditional singers merely as a convenient and beautiful way of reciting a ballad, but the ballad poetry itself is looked on as nothing other than a convenient and beautiful way of telling a story. The art of the traditional folk song is unconscious. Now there can be no doubt as to the traditional method of singing a ballad. Clearness of diction, perfection of melodic outline, and beauty of phrasing: these are the prominent characteristics of the best traditional singers' art. The essential characteristics of the ballad singer's style is summed up in the word “impersonal”; the singer must be absorbed in the song. This is certainly true of what is now known as “community” singing.

Keywords:   traditional ballad, folk song, England, ballad music, diction, phrasing, community singing

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