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Vaughan Williams on Music$
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David Manning

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195182392

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195182392.001.0001

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(p.229) Chapter 46 Folk-Song
Vaughan Williams on Music

David Manning

Oxford University Press

Any art, if it is to have life, must be able to trace its origin to a fundamental human need. Such needs must prompt expression among people, even in their most primitive and uncultivated state. To this rule the art of music is no exception. This primitive, spontaneous music has been called “folk song,” a rather awkward translation of the German word “Volkslied,” but nevertheless a word that stands for a very definite fact in the realm of music. The folk song must of necessity bear within it the seed of all the future developments of the art. Folk music has, of course, its limitations. To start with, folk music, like all primitive art, is an applied art, the vehicle for the declamation of a ballad or the stepping of a dance, and it is, therefore, bounded by the structure of the stanza or the dance figure. Secondly, folk music is non-harmonic; there is nothing but the melodic line.

Keywords:   human need, expression, music, folk song, primitive art, applied art, ballad, dance, stanza, melodic line

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