The background music is Bonny Lighter Boy
Sequenced by Lesley Nelson
Child's work owed debts to numerous scholars, including (for Scottish ballads) William Motherwell who wrote Minstrelsy: Ancient and Modern, and Svend Grundtvig. The reasons for what he chose to exclude or include is much debated among scholars and appears to be inconsistent.
Child was born in 1825, the son of a Boston sail maker. Through the generosity of the principal of the Boston Latin School he was able to enter Harvard. He graduated first in his class in 1846 and was offered a position in mathematics and then in history and political economy. In 1851 he was named the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory - and held the position for 25 years. Throughout his tenure at Harvard he collected ballad books in many languages and corresponded with scholars throughout the world in several languages.
There is an expanded Francis J. Child Biography.
There is a Complete list of Child Ballads at this site.
For a list of Child Ballads with information and midi files at this site go to Francis J. Child Ballads.
Folk music is music that has become part of a people's heritage through oral tradition. A true folk song has no known author. Because of its oral tradition folk music is fluid. Variations in both tune and melody developed as music was passed orally through counties and countries.
Folk songs are important both musically and historically as they define some part of a people's experience and become a part of a people's culture. It therefore encompasses not only countries (England, Ireland, etc.) but cultures (African-American, Native-American, etc.) Traditional music is becoming the preferred term for music which originated in the 15th to 19th centuries.
Within the folk music genre there is distinction between ballads and folk songs. Ballads were longer and related a story, usually one based in the past and carried down by oral tradtiion. Ballads could be either dramatic or humorous, dealing with the topics of the time. New names and topics often became associated with older ballads. As the saying goes, "ballads are never wrong, sometimes the facts get messed up." Folk songs, on the other hand, were shorter, lyrical and personal. Examples of ballads include The Cruel Mother and Lord Bateman. Folksongs would include songs like Seeds of Love and The Foggy, Foggy Dew.
Folk music is also a current genre of music that includes not only traditional tunes but newly composed tunes. The definition is not a set one and classification of specific musicians and songs is subject to controversy. Musical genre is much more fluid now than it has been in the past, so the lines between folk, country, celtic and others are often blurred and crossed. The definition of a "modern" folk song is a "song with a soft melodic sound and guitar accompaniment."(1)
Given these definitions "Folk Music" is not a completely accurate term for the music I post here. Many of the tunes do have known authors and I do not post modern tunes. "Traditional and Popular Music of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and America" would probably be a better name for this site. I retain folk for several reasons: "folk" encompasses most of the music here (though there are now many with known authors), it is the term I grew up with and I don't believe most people are yet familiar with the difference between folk/traditional/celtic, etc. music.
This is not meant to be an academic or perfect definition but one which will give visitors a basic definition. For further information on what traditional music is, there is an excellent explanation posted at Ceolas: What is Celtic Music?.
Most songs involved a lead singer and a choral response. The words were called out by a chantyman and the men joined in on the chorus. The words of the chorus usually coincided with a heave, or pull.
Shanties served both as a mental diversion and synchronized teamwork. They also provided an outlet for sailors to express their opinions in a manner which would not cause punishment. The "golden age" of shanties was in the donotuse-nineteenth century.
Types of chanties (2):
For more information see the International Shanty and Seasong Association