Voices from Kilbarchan: Two versions of “The Cruel Mother” from South-West Scotland, 1825


This essay seeks to characterize the singing community of a nineteenth century Scottish village and to identify two distinct voices from the village repertoire. By closely analyzing two versions of the same ballad story recorded from two women on the same day in 1825, an attempt is made to demonstrate how the two singers manage to produce two distinct versions of the same ballad by employing the same traditional narrative techniques in slightly differing ways, thus allowing us a glimpse into the mechanisms of stability and variation in the ballad genre.

mobile close