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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 04 Oct 99

Hi M.Ted,

It doesn't really matter if anyone made any money off of folk music. That has nothing to do with folk music. It's intent is not to make money. It's to perpetuate tradition. A folk song can start off as a composed song and go through a variety of changes. It goes into aural transmission. The key to the process is the changes that it goes through. Art and pop music are frozen and attributable to a single author/composer. Folk music works differently. It is in constant change but it requires a period of time to be distilled. Fragments of the song are found differently in many parts of the country. A theme, a legend and a style of singing persists that has nothing to do with whether it is deemed commercial or not. You can't pay for a folk song. You can pay for a commercialization of it though but it doesn't change the nature of the music except perhaps in the intent to commercialize it, it may bowdlerize it as in the case of the "folk revival" singers who "sweeten" it to make it more acceptable to the general public.

Stewie, the recordings of the 20's helped to recognize some of the American traditinal folk musicians but not all of them. The groundwork was done much earlier by collectors, folklorists and pioneers such as the Lomaxes who recorded for the Library of Congress Folk Arts Division. Some of these people were not professional entertainers.

M.Ted, I must tell you that I don't place a judgement on the commercialization of music. I happen to enjoy a lot of popular music. I have no problem with traditional folk musicians or "revivalists" or singer/songwriters making money at music. I have no problem with people taking traditional folk songs and doing with them whatever they want to. But bottom line, it ain't traditioanl American folk music. It's something else and that by me is OK.

As to going around in circles, I submit that information is being shared. If there are five reasons why it is a folk song, I would please ask for them. This would be useful information.

I think the problem stems from a misperception that there is a "validity" issue regarding music in general. I've often advocated that there is folk music that is unmusical and popular music that is very musical. These are subjective values but have nothing to do with the identification of traditional folk music.

As to the PhD's that do "damage" to folk music, I don't believe that what they say or do can affect what it is. They may damage someone's appreciation for it and here I'd be inclined to agree with you. But there are many "folk music authorities" who don't agree with each other on how to present it or what to do with it. But it will go on whether we like it or can recognize it or not. It requires time, change,(variation) and a connection to a cultural tradition.

Here's the problem as I see it. In American we have to have instant fast food, instant solutions, instant forms of communication, instant technology and instant folk music. I submit to you that that "instant folk music" is an oxymoron.

Frank Hamilton

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