Traditional folk song is a reflection of the society that creates it. In the Catalan case it reflects not only Catalan society but also those of Valencia and the Balearic Islands, for whom forms of the Catalan language are native. This present thesis investigates the corpus of folk song in Catalan and puts it into the context of the nation states that encompass it, i.e. France and Spain.\ud The great era of European folk-song collection was between the mid-19th century and the First World War. The early part of this period coincides with the Catalan Renaixença: the revival of interest in Catalan language and culture. However, in the Catalan case, extensive song collection continued through the cultural periods of Modernisme and Noucentisme and up until the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Much was documented in the publications of the Obra del cançoner popular de Catalunya, but even that great unfinished work has had no critical appraisal to date. A second theme of this thesis is therefore to begin such an appraisal, and put the work into the context of all of the major Catalan folk-song collections, which contain thousands of songs collected in both France and Spain. \ud All the songs considered here are to be found in books, journals and recordings published between 1852 and 2001. The subject matter and song types are described and categorised, ranging from ballads and love songs to drinking songs and Christmas carols. The songs of the Països Catalans are compared with the music and songs of other traditions to identify influences and possible sources of specific material. With reference to work currently (c. 2001) taking place in Catalonia, the focus of this thesis ranges from the descriptive to the interpretative and analytical. The analyses consider words and music taken together, with performance too where possible.\ud Because the song corpus is large but not well known, this thesis may be used as a high-level reference source to find the material. A computer-based indexing system (a database) has been developed as part of this project with the ambition of eventually providing a single, unified and more detailed reference source for all of the songs, centred on the field work of the still incomplete Obra del cançoner popular de Catalunya. The thesis is accompanied by a CD-ROM (PC only) containing the database as it currently stands. An additional database is also provided on the CD-ROM: a much-needed index of the contents of the Romancerillo Catalán of Manuel Milà i Fontanals. The databases are tools for continuing research and indicators of significant directions that future work might follow
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