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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 30 Sep 99

M.Ted, I think your idea is great. A little musicology would help. A knowledge of the background, history, culture and the evolution of the song would open the door.

Mark, I think we need to look at each song here. The earlier variants of folk songs don't necessarilly stem from "commercial" sources. IE: Barbara Allen was hardly a chart buster through the ages. There are many people who really don't know the difference and will call early popular music "folk". This is because they haven't been exposed to traditional sources.

Entertainment is different for people. I don't find some things that are called "entertaining" entertaining at all. People in the cities today are prone to walk out on much more than they ever have traditionally because the entertainment field has reached a glut. There is a lot more impatience on the part of an audience today due to TV and the availability of so much "entertainment". I find that the knowledge, background, musical styles, lyric content of traditional American folk music very entertaining personally. I could sit and listen to unaccompanied ballads done by a traditional singer for a long period of time. I don't need a song "jazzed up" or put in a framework of show business excitement to be truly entertained.

I think that most audiences who look for "entertainment" have gotten lazy. They don't care about what they hear as long as it is somehow stimulating for them, sensually or in some cases mind-numbing. Not many are going to look for the roots of what they hear. This is why traditional folk music is on the back burner these days when it comes to audiences interest. Here's the problem. There's not many places people can go to be educated about folk music or music in general. Here's the solution. There should be such a place. It should have folklorists, folksong collectors, musicologists, teachers, recordings of traditional music, books available on folklore and music, "revival" folk song singers who care about the music and whenever possible, traditional singers and musicians who can provide the necessary insight to the music.

What does not need to be done is for anyone who sings and plays a musical instrument to define themselves as a traditional folk singer when they are really part of the entertainment music business and have a vested interest in creating a career capitalizing on this image. Those singers who are in a song circle and remember IE: Hoagy Carmicheal's early popular songs as something learned from their Uncle Rufus as folk songs are misinformed.

Frank Hamilton

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