Fragments and Meaning in Traditional Song by Mary-Ann Constantine
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Fragments and Meaning in Traditional Song
By Mary-Ann Constantine

Fragments and Meaning in Traditional Song

From the Blues to the Baltic

By (author) See other recent books by Mary-Ann Constantine See other recent books by Gerald Porter
Format: Hardback

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Fragments and Meaning in Traditional Song by Mary-Ann Constantine

Book Awards

  • Runner-up for Katharine Briggs Folklore Award 2004.

Book Description

This book takes a radical approach to the study of traditional songs. Folk song scholarship was originally obsessed with notions of completeness and narrative coherence; even now long narratives hold a privileged place in most folk song canons. Yet field notebooks and recordings (and, increasingly, publications) overwhelmingly suggest that apparently 'broken' and drastically shortened versions are not perceived as incomplete by those who sing them. Dealing with a wide range of traditions and languages, this study turns the focus on these 'dog-ends' of oral tradition, and looks closely at how very short texts convey meaning in performance by working the audience's knowledge of a highly allusive idiom. What emerges is the tenacity of meaning in the connotative and metaphorical language of traditional song, and the extraordinary adaptability of songs in different cultural contexts. Such pieces have a strong metonymic force: they should not be seen as residual 'last leaves' of a once-complete tradition, but as dynamic elements in the process of oral transmission. Not all song fragments remain in their natural environment, and this book also explores relocations and dislocations as songs are adapted to new contexts: a ballad of love and death is used to count pins in lace-making, song-snippets trail subversive meanings in the novels of Charles Dickens. Because they are variable and elusive to dating, songs have had little attention from the literary establishment: the authors show both how certain critical approaches can be fruitfully applied to song texts, and how concepts from studies in oral traditions prefigure aspects of contemporary critical theory. Like the songs themselves, this book crosses and recrosses the perceived divide between the literary and the oral. Coverage includes English, Welsh, Breton, American, and Finnish songs.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780197262887
ISBN-10: 0197262880
Format: Hardback
(243mm x 164mm x 18mm)
Pages: 278
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 7-Aug-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Books By Author Mary-Ann Constantine

Star-Shot by Mary-Ann Constantine Star-Shot, Paperback (October 2015)

Both fable and mystery, Star-Shot is set in a small world of parks and galleries around Cardiff's national museum, in a time not quite our own. As their paths cross, characters reveal stories of obsession, loss and recovery, creating a fragile network of relationships that resist the inexorable channels of silence eating into the city.

'Footsteps of Liberty and Revolt' by Mary-Ann Constantine 'Footsteps of Liberty and Revolt', Paperback (April 2013)

A collection of essays exploring the impact on Welsh culture of one of the most exciting periods in history, the decades surrounding the French Revolution of 1789.

All the Souls by Mary-Ann Constantine All the Souls, Paperback (April 2013)

All the Souls is a poignant collection of short stories and a novella. Set in Brittany and Wales the stories inhabit the world of superstition and legend, giving voices to ghosts and the dead.

Travels in Revolutionary France and a Journey Across America by Mary-Ann Constantine Travels in Revolutionary France and a Journey Across America, Paperback (November 2012)

Two gripping travel narratives from a turbulent historical period: the father a witness to the outbreak of the French Revolution; the son, two decades later, an adventurous pioneer in the American far west.

» View all books by Mary-Ann Constantine


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Recent books by Mary-Ann Constantine close
Star-Shot by Mary-Ann Constantine
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Travels in Revolutionary France and a Journey Across America by Mary-Ann Constantine
Recent books by Gerald Porter close
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