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Title: The ballad and the folk : studies in the balladry and the society of the North-East of Scotland
Author: Buchan, David D.
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 1966
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The thesis is a study of a regional tradition. Through an investigation of the social conditions over the last ix hundred years in the richest ballad areas in Britain, and through a co-relation of these varying conditions with the varying typee of ballad produced, it attempts to give harper definition to the two loosely used terms 'ballad' and 'folk'. The only generally accepted definition of a ballad - "A ballad is a folksong that tells a story' - has proved unsatisfactory because there has not been any agreement among scholars on who constitute this amorphous entity, the folk. The thesis shows that, corresponding to three quite distinct patterns of social conditions, producing three kinds of 'folk', there are actually three quite different types of ballad. Section IA deals with the particular complex of social conditions which obtained in the North-east of Scotland from 1350 to 1750 and which produced an area favorable to the creation and dissemination of traditional ballads. Section IB is a study of the ballad corpus of Mrs. Brown of Falkland, whose ballads, besides being the best, aesthetically, of the Child collection, also exemplify the traditional technique of composition. This section discusses at length the oral nature of the traditional ballad, and defines the oral method of composition by which the traditional ballad was created by the non-literate folk. Section IIA deals with the social revolutions that occurred from 1750 to 1830 and completely altered the way of life of the folk. Section IIB investigates the effects of these changes, notably the advent of literacy, on the traditional ballad and the consequent emergence of the transitional ballad, and demonstrates the basic trustworthiness of Peter Buchan's texts. Section IIC, after discussing the settling of social conditions after the previous upheavals, deals with the final decay of the old traditional ballad, and the emergence of a modern type of ballad, which in the North-east took the form of the bothy balad. This ballad type, like the others, is a direct outgrowth from the nature of the life led by the folk who produced them. Certain conclusions valid for all traditions can be drawn from this study of a particular folk and their particular ballad tradition. There are, corresponding to three stages in the development of nearly all societies, three types of ballad. Traditional ballads are those produced by a non-literate people; transitional ballade are those produced by a people within a society which is progressing from the non-literate to the literate stage; and modern ballads are those produced by a literate people.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available