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Author Topic: Blues lyrics and concordance  (Read 1001 times)

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Offline Dylan61

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Blues lyrics and concordance
« on: October 05, 2016, 10:42:32 AM »
I have Michael Tafts Concordance on-line and also all blues-lyrics that he used. The texts are not 100 % correct, but a good starting point.
http://www.dylan61.se/taft.htm

NOTE!
I just found out that the concordance today has errors  >:D
The texts are OK.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blues lyrics and concordance
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2016, 12:21:44 PM »
Hi Dylan61,
I prefer to do my own lyric transcribing, with the help of the expert listeners around here.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: October 05, 2016, 01:41:35 PM by Johnm »

Offline waxwing

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Re: Blues lyrics and concordance
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2016, 08:47:25 PM »
There's a link to the Web Concordance of Michael Taft's Pre-War Blues Lyrics, with its incredibly bizarre interface, on Weeniepedia. Go to the Main page scroll down to Bedslats & All, select the link to WebLinks, scroll down to Lyrics & Tab and it's the 8th link in the list.

Heck, I have all the books published by RR McLeod before he passed, covering all the early Yazoo LPs and most of Document's CD releases, but I agree with Johnm, doing your own transcription is more fun, and absolutely the fastest way to memorize them if you plan to sing the song.

And Bob McLeod was one of the folks who helped work them out here on Weenie, too. Check out all the posts by Dingwall on the Lemon Jefferson Lyrics topic. Plenty of good ears here, particularly if you do the groundwork first.

Wax
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

“Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't after you.”
Joseph Heller, Catch-22

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Offline Dylan61

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Re: Blues lyrics and concordance
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2016, 12:19:38 AM »
Use Firefox to view the concordance. It works fine.

Offline Stuart

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Re: Blues lyrics and concordance
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2016, 05:43:24 PM »
I've been using concordances, both print and electronic versions, for over forty years. They certainly are convenient--a quick and convenient first step in doing research, but they have to be used with care.

The texts that concordances are keyed to have to be solid, reliable and complete versions. And as Wax points out, we always have to check what is in the concordance against what is in the original text. Anything less is slipshod scholarship.

Electronic concordances, text-bases and databases, in addition to their advantages, have underlying problems as well. Searches, Boolean and/or otherwise, don't always yield reliable results. So it's wise to bear in mind the old adage: "Absence of evidence isn't necessarily evidence of absence." And there's the problem of completeness. (See above)

"From Michael Taft?s concordance there are 2449 words that only appear once." Even if that's true, it only refers to Michael Taft's electronic concordance. The next step is to check each one of the 2449 words against the lyrics of all of the songs that fall into the category or classification of "Blues" that aren't in MT's concordance to see if there are any matches. Not a quick and easy task, by any means.

This is not to say that Michael Taft's lyric transcriptions and concordance are not a significant contribution and a valuable resource, it's just that the lyrics and concordance have their limitations and flaws, and in using or referring to them, one should not fall victim to the "illusion of confidence."

As to Wax's point: A good thesis or dissertation advisor is going to make sure that the student is thoroughly versed in materials and methods. Anyone who lets their student move forward without demonstrating the necessary competence is doing them a disservice because deficiencies have a way of surfacing at the worst possible moment. Better to have your toughest game in practice and your toughest fight in the gym.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2016, 05:59:19 PM by Stuart »

Offline Dylan61

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Re: Blues lyrics and concordance
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2016, 12:52:42 AM »
You are right. Taft is stating: "Although ideally this concordance should include all pre-war, Afro-American commercial blues, only about one fifth of  the "bookshelf'? was available to me."
To use the concordance in a meaningful way, you have to read Taft?s 3 prefaces first.

Offline Dylan61

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Re: Blues lyrics and concordance
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2016, 10:43:28 AM »
..... and use Firefox, not IE

Offline Johnm

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Re: Blues lyrics and concordance
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2016, 11:53:56 AM »
And listen to all the source recordings repeatedly to see if Taft is right in his transcriptions.  Accepting transcriptions on faith doesn't cut it.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2016, 11:55:09 AM by Johnm »

Offline taft

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Re: Blues lyrics and concordance
« Reply #8 on: August 01, 2017, 06:48:37 AM »
I've been away from the blues for over a decade, but a recent project has me revisiting some of my transcriptions from years ago. So I was delighted to discover WeenieCampbell and see all the good work that members have done, especially in transcribing songs. In 1975 I chaired a panel on the blues at the American Folklore Society annual meeting in New Orleans, where I suggested that a collective of blues scholars put their ears together towards complete transcriptions of the pre-War blues corpus. Nothing came of it, but it looks like the good people of this Forum are deep into the task. I noticed that my concordance comes up in the Forum from time to time, so I thought a brief history might be in order. In the 1970s I began transcribing the blues, taking songs from existing reissue LPs, recording them onto a Tanberg open-reel tape recorder, and with the aid of earphones and a foot pedal, typing out the lyrics as best I could. I transcribed only two-line versions of blues couplets in the songs, because that suited my research needs and fit the limited capabilities of the computer. I then transferred each line (in about 2000 songs) to computer key-punch cards, which were then fed into a mainframe computer at the Center for Computer Research in the Humanities at University of Colorado (thanks to its director, Michael Preston), and run through a concordance-making program developed by Samuel S. Coleman of the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory. The result was a printout of several thousand pages that I used as a tool in writing my dissertation (partially published as The Blues Lyric Formula). In 1984 Garland published a hard copy of the concordance. The texts were stored on computer tape, then transferred to floppy disks, then to diskettes, then to computer files that I was able to send to Mr. Dylan61, who kindly turned the texts into a modern, online concordance. My thanks to him. I don't have to tell this Forum the difficulties in transcribing blues lyrics. If I had a nickel for each error in my texts, I would be a rich man today. I could have used your collective help back then! Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Offline Prof Scratchy

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Re: Blues lyrics and concordance
« Reply #9 on: August 01, 2017, 08:44:31 AM »
Great to hear from you, taft! I've made much use of the concordance over the years, particularly to track down different words and themes in blues lyrics. Many thanks.


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Offline Rivers

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Re: Blues lyrics and concordance
« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2017, 05:32:48 PM »
Good to see you here Michael, and my respect for the work you began many years ago when the internet was a mere twinkle in DARPA's eye.

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