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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Frank Hamilton How can we make folk music more apealing (121* d) RE: How can we make folk music more apealing 28 Sep 99


Here's what I see. The UK and Ireland are closer to the roots of their music then we are in the States. Ewan McColl and A.L. Lloyd have apparently had some effect on the UK folk scene. The Comhaltas Ceoltori Eireann has had a considerable effect on the Irish scene. As I see it now, the traditional American folk music is being buried by entertainers who don't really know much about it and are calling themselves "folk singers". They are writing in a genre that borrows heavilly from popular music of the sixties and seventies and many of the songs tend (not all) to sound alike.

I envision a place where people can come to study the traditions of American folk music in all of it's diversity. We have to look past Jimi Hendrix and his blues influences by discovering those influences themselves. What this means is that we have to honor the work that our American folklorisits and collectors have done by examining this great body of music and song as they have effectively done in the UK, Ireland and other European countries such as Hungary. Bela Bartok knew what Hungarian folk music sounded like. He spent exhaustive hours annotating traditional Hungarian fiddle tunes and archiving them. Kodaly did similar. John Lomax presented cowboy songs to Harvard's Kittredge when almost nobody was interested in them. Folk music in the States for a long time was considered to be "primitive", and "inferior" to art music and there was an embarrassment about it by many people who came out of the cultures that produced it. This went on for decades. This attitude persists today somewhat. It's time to get past this. Lets look at the raw traditional folk music and see it's value not try to pretty it up for the marketplace or turn it into an image selling kind of thing to increase the amount on a songwriter's royalty statement. We need a place that can help us do this. Originally I thought that this was what the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago could do. Right now, the jury's out in this.

I'm glad that this is taking place in the UK and Ireland. It can be a model for us here in the States.

Frank Hamilton


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