Is what I thought when I read the song collector William Alexander Barret’s opinion, given in a lecture in 1877, on the song ‘Streams of Lovely Nancy’:

He is reported to have said that it ‘had neither style nor reason…as though someone had wantonly taken a pair of scissors, cut the lines out of a number of songs at random, and then put them together and made a song out of them’.

Folk Song In England, Steve Roud (p.91)

Then, when double checking I was right in thinking it was Eno the technique was connected with, I came across this by Austin Kleon: The (surprisingly long) history of the cut-up technique. Kleon discovers, via the writer Paul Collins, a form of cut-up (“cross-reading”) being used in the late eighteenth century.


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