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Fragments and Meaning in Traditional Song – From the Blues to the Baltic - British Academy Scholarship Online
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Fragments and Meaning in Traditional Song: From the Blues to the Baltic

Mary-Ann Constantine and Gerald Porter


This book is about traditional songs. Folk song scholarship was originally obsessed with notions of completeness and narrative coherence; yet field notebooks and recordings (and, increasingly, publications) overwhelmingly suggest that apparently ‘broken’ and drastically shortened versions of songs are not perceived as incomplete by those who sing them. 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 ... More

Keywords: traditional songs, folk songs, narrative coherence, oral tradition, short texts, connotative language, metaphorical language, adaptability, cultural contexts, metonymic force

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2003 Print ISBN-13: 9780197262887
Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012 DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197262887.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Mary-Ann Constantine, author
Senior Research Fellow, University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies

Gerald Porter, author
Adjunct Professor of English Literature and Culture, University of Umea, Sweden