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Change in music at the end of the C18?

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Hugh Taylor:
I was having my weekly Zoom chat today with my mate Steve (Mcgrooger) and commenting on how much I enjoy the C17 & C18 tunes, partly because of the modality in a lot of them. I don't know much about the development of folk dance tunes (can I call them that?) but looking at most tune books that we now have access to, there is a general paucity of such modality. Yes I know there are lots of exceptions such as Vickers, but what happened to 'our' music around the end of the 1700's and the early 1800's?

Andy Next Tune:
I suspect the migration of people out of the countryside into towns and cities fuelled by the Industrial Revolution has a lot to do with it.

The 18th century was an age of "improvement", and it's no coincidence that much of value was torn down in this time and replaced with new and modern styles.  Poetry, literature, architecture, art, the list goes on.  This fashion had a very clear idea of what "perfection" in music looked like, guided by the new perfection in functional harmony which gave people a set of intellectual rules to judge musical quality by.  Music that was not up to the task was discarded, as were instruments incapable of playing it.  It's no accident that the great collapse in traditional music around Europe began around this time.  Yet a brief generation earlier, you would have struggled to draw a line between Baroque performers and local folk musicians, who would often have been one and the same.  For example, the Northumbrian piping tradition is essentially a strange survival of late Baroque performance practice applied to a very regional music.

I'm pretty sure I read somewhere that folk song and tune collectors like Cecil Sharp did not note down the music as it was but as they thought it ought to be, believing that the individual musicians and singers were ignorant and uneducated, even though they somehow also believed that the 'folk' as a whole had an ability to create sublime music collectively of which  the individuals were incapable.Maybe the modes got lost in this condescending process?

Thrupenny Bit:
Richard is absolutely right regarding Sharpe.
He had the same opinions of the Morris when collecting dances, bending the ideas of the old men to fit his own ideals and correcting them if he thought they'd made a mistake. An upper class academic was not to be argued with if you were a lowly illiterate farm worker.
In Devon we had other collectors, song in particular. The main person, collecting song 30 years before Sharpe, was the Rev. Sabine Baring Gould. He often cleaned up some of the bawdy or risque songs for his publications for a sensitive audience but his saving grace was he kept a record of his collected material 'as was told to him'.

With such practices common in collectors, I'm sure careful detective work can sense differences in the collected material in this era.


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