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American Ballads and Folk Songs (Dover Books on Music) Paperback – October 21, 1994


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American Ballads and Folk Songs (Dover Books on Music) + Our Singing Country: Folk Songs and Ballads (Dover Books on Music) + Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians as Sung by Jean Ritchie
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Books on Music
  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (October 21, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486282767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486282763
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #318,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Great book to look for and get ideas to write music.
C. Cuthbert
If you don't know where Johnny Cash came from or what Mumford and Sons drink from, pick up this book.
Stuart and Jennifer Smith
A decent introduction to the ballad form and its music precedes the collection.
M. J. Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 66 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Smith VINE VOICE on August 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is not an exhaustive catalogue of ballads nor does it always contain the same version of a ballad that are published elsewhere under the Lomax name. The ballads are arranged by subject matter: Working on the Railroad; The Levee Camp; Southerrn Chain Gangs; Negro Bad Men; White Desperadoes; Mountain Songs; Cocaine and Whiskey; Blues; Creole Negroes; Reels; Minstrel Types; Breakdowns and Play Parties; Songs of Childhood; Vaqueros of the Southwest; Cowboy Songs; Songs of the Overlanders; Miner; Shanty-Boy; Erie Canal; Great Lake; Sailors and Sea Fights; Wars and Soldiers; White Spirituals and Negro Spirituals. Often there is a short story of the song in addition to the collection notes.
A decent introduction to the ballad form and its music precedes the collection. This is an essential reference to anyone interested in ballads in America.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By "wattlido" on March 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
My father has an original copy of this book that I grew up reading. I was so very glad to see it back in print. The way that the book is arranged (railroad songs, chain gangs, blues, reels, cowboy songs, etc.) makes it easy to navigate. The bulk of the songs cataloged are not the familiar ones that one is used to seeing in other collections.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Dagny Carolina Opsal on September 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
An inclusive collection of different American ballads and folksongs- a classic indeed. Lovely that it includes sheet music as well! Rather than just being a collection of the lyrics to different ballads, for special study (like the Child ballads collection, however admirable), it also operates as a songbook
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By G. Flattery on February 23, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I WISH I WOULD HAVE RECEIVED THIS BOOK AS A PRESENT. IT IS A FASCINATING MIX OF HISTORY, MUSIC AND PERFECT FOR AN ENGLISH, HISTORY AND OF COURSE MUSIC CLASSROOM. I WILL NOT ONLY READ IT BUT USE IT AS A TEACHING TOOL.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jon Corelis on November 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As everyone knowledgeable about folk music knows, John A. Lomax and his son Alan were instrumental from the 1930s on in field recording American and other traditional musicians. This excellent quality Dover reprint of their 1934 book American Ballads and Folk Songs gives lyrics and music in the form of simple melodic scores of virtually every American folk song you've heard of, and a lot you probably haven't. If you are at all seriously interested in American folk music, whether as student, performer, or listener, give this book five stars: you really ought to have it. But even those whose interest in this music is more casual will find this a fascinating and valuable book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lasturianu on June 20, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
However, I wish it had some chords or harmonization of the songs (although no where in the description of the book say that it has them... ) That was a disappointment and the reason of the 4 stars.
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Format: Paperback
Lomax's collection is an essential addition to the folk lover's library. Dense and informative, easy to read, from beginner to expert, with interesting anecdotal information about the songs.

For anyone that wants to know more about American music, this is a great place to start. Lomax dedicated his life to documenting this land, its people, and its songs. He should be viewed as an authority on the subject, and a go-to, for everyone interested in roots music.
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Although it is a good read/interesting enough, this was not what I was expecting. I suppose I should've done more research, but I was expecting a catalog of songs in lyrics and music, be it sheet music or chord charts. This is more of a textbook in reading. Lyrics a'plenty (although edited, the more graphic and colorful parts taken out, additionally disappointing) and stories/descriptions a couple paragraphs in length, but the only music is snippets of a few bars here and there to demonstrate single-line melody. Even then, almost always incomplete and brief. Granted, the nature of most of these songs is that there IS no concrete, accepted musicality (or lyrics/arrangement for that matter), but surely the Lomaxes had more knowledge to impart than this when it comes to actually playing them.
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