We are pleased to share the news that Epic Singers and Oral Tradition by Albert Bates Lord is now available in electronic form, for free, on the CHS website.
In the Introduction, Lord writes:
Scope alone, however impressive, and performance alone, however spectacular it may be, constitute but the outward trappings of the study of oral-traditional epic song. It is the singer and what is sung that count. They are strongly affected by the traditional setting of performance and by the traditional audience, but those alone do not create the singer, or the words, or what they relate. It is the mind of the composing traditional singer that we must seek to comprehend both at the moment of performance and even when it is seemingly at rest. The epic tradition lies in the myths and tales stored in the minds of all the singers past and present, the least as well as the greatest. It is this that one learns “in the field,” that is, in listening to and talking with singers. I had the great privilege of apprenticeship, short as it was, with Milman Parry; it was from him I absorbed a feeling for the epic songs of the Slavic Balkans, and it was with him that I came to know and to listen to many singers telling urgent stories of olden times.