Monday, 14 August 2017

Edgar Waters – Folksongs, Poets and Pedants

From ANU newspaper Woroni 18 June 1962 p. 4.

On May 3rd, Dr. Edgar Waters gave a talk Folksongs, Poets and Pedants illustrated with recordings. The emphasis was on the early, English and "Border" Ballads and it was left to the audience during "question time" to discuss modern and Australian folksongs.

Dr. Waters deplored the early editing of English Folksongs and the "cleaning up" processes which may have made them acceptable to the Puritan public, but ruined many of them aesthetically and misdirected research into literary history. "Strawberry Fair" and "Oh, No John" were given as examples of this treatment.

Most of the recordings Dr. Waters used were sung by Peasant people living closely in touch with the ballad-makers. Many of them did not have musical accompaniment and used a different tonal scale to the one accepted in the Western World today. This tends to make the singing sound harsh, monotonous and off-key, but to those interested in the study of early music and song—it was fascinating.

There was a small attendance, but all there were genuinely interested in the subject.

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