This article is in dialogue with a topic raised in the “Sound Reviews” section in the Winter 2009 issue of the Journal of American Folklore by Graham Blair. Blair points out that quite a few of the ballad tunes recorded on two CDs by Tōru Mitsui in 2006 were taken from American and British folk song anthologies that included written musical notation. This article traces the sources found in the early 1960s in Japan, and shows that for these ballads to travel great distances required an insatiable quest for their published sources combined with sufficient musical literacy.

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