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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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The Justification of Folk Song

The Justification of Folk Song

(p.246) (p.247) Chapter 51 The Justification of Folk Song
Vaughan Williams on Music

David Manning

Oxford University Press

Cecil Sharp collected over 5,000 tunes. Of these he published about 500 as being of genuine artistic value: a certain amount more he printed in scientific volumes for their archaeological or anthropological interest. Sharp did this because he saw that a tradition is not worth preserving unless it has certain permanent qualities which make it alive for the next generation. The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) has two sides to its activities: the study of traditional art and its practice. This beauty is not to be perpetuated by mere slavish imitation of the traditional singer or dancer—a tradition may be half-forgotten or may be corrupted or be obscured by inefficient performance. The task of the EFDSS is twofold: scientific discovery and artistic presentation. There is a dangerous tendency rife among members of the EFDSS to take to its bosom everything that is supposed to be “folk,” regardless of its artistic value.

Keywords:   Cecil Sharp, tunes, tradition, EFDSS, traditional art, folk

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