Wednesday, September 11, 2013

To Catch a...Song: Where does Oral Tradition Stand Today?


I am reading a book titled Singing family of the Cumberlands by folk singer and song collector, Jean Ritchie. I've not read a lot of it, but have thoroughly enjoyed what I have read. It is very down-home and country.

Today I read how members of her large family (14 children) would learn, or "catch," a new song.

This old time terminology caused me to ponder the plight of oral tradition.

Oral tradition is the passing own of songs from one generation to the next through repetition, repetition, repetition. In so doing a song survives and is allowed to breathe anew as it is passed along.

Most of us were taught songs as a children through oral tradition. Think about how you learned "Jesus Loves Me" or "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."  No one put the sheet music in front of you, pointed to the notes and said, "now, honey learn this song."

What is becoming of oral tradition?
With the advent of radio and recorded song many have said oral tradition will die out.
Will it? Or has it already died out?

I don't think it has nor do I think it will. There will always be occasion to teach someone a song. 
Music will last forever. 
I believe that as long as there is singing oral tradition will survive.

(To be continued...)

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