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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Old Grizzly In praise of English music and dance (51* d) RE: In praise of English music and dance 24 Aug 06


Hi to all,

About time we stood up to be counted !

From the age of 6 or 7, I had a most fortunate introduction to English song in the form of a family friend, then in his nineties, who lost no opportunity to joyfully unload his marvelous songs on me. God Bless 'Old Master Thorpe'
I think the passing on of tradition comes from regular and un-forced exposure to the music and the link is, I suspect, best forged at quite a young age. This is especially evident in the number of children of 'folkies' (mea culpa) and like minded souls, that do grow up to follow in their parents musical footsteps ...albeit often with quite a few 'adolescent gap years' in between :o)
I have done my best to pass on my enthusiasm to my kids and can count 2 lads who danced Morris for many years and revelled in the 'stick' they got from their schoolmates, and one tone deaf daughter well into 70s rock... perhaps a tradition in itself.
Maybe if I'd listened to my Irish wife and had 8 kids ....Thankfully I'll never know...

Once the link between the generations has broken down, it is all but impossible to repair.... a state of affairs in this country that traditional singers and musicians have been struggling against, probably since well before WW2 and I would suggest much influenced by the sudden increase in popularity of cinema and especially , television.

It would seem to me that the television and radio has positively descriminated against traditional music over many years and any contact with the music would appear to have been purposely taken out of he school curriculum, In these 'enlightened' days of the 'multicultural society' do kids today sing any traditional songs in the schools or do any even most basic traditional dance? Sadly I think not. More likely some parent would complain that such practices were against their religion or offended their race. Instead of young kids singing London Bridge in rounds, they are now served up with Tellytubbies and the like ........ God help us!

Peter Standing said "English people like me have been struggling to find a sense of identity. I've still not made sense of it, but I'm further along the road"
Perhaps I am older than Peter, I do not know, but I have, and always have had, a very strong sense of identity as an Englishman (as opposed to Irish, Welsh or Scottish).
Given the huge changes in the make-up of society over the last 40 or 50 years, I can well see how succeeding generations are in some confusion. So far as I can see, however, the creation of Scottish and Welsh parliaments has served clarify matters somewhat for many...in that they feel less 'British' and more 'English' by the day.
Maybe in time a little of 'culture shift' will 'rub off' on the music - I don't know.

I love all forms of music from these Isles but am firmly rooted in English music and there is more than enough there to keep me content for several lifetimes.

I play in a band for Barn/Country Dances (or Ceilidhs as folks insist on calling them these days) and so many times it turns out that people think we have been playing all Irish music and seem genuinely amazed that they have been dancing English dances all night to English tunes ....or, to save digression into a fruitless argument about 'ownership', ....I shall say 'tunes long established in English tradition')

It is a truly sad state of affairs when people do not recognise, or even know that they have, their own rich tradition.

What is most heartening is watching, regardless where it comes from, just how much they enjoy the dance. The ultimate challenge for a caller .....** and we have the best ** .....is how to coax, cajole and occasionally bully the teenage lads and young men, dragged there under sufference by cruel and uncaring parents, out onto the floor. Once prised away from the bar or out of some other dark recess and up to dance, even they , to their amazement find they are really enjoying themselves.
The greatest reward is when you see them turn up a few weeks later at another Dance.

The English tradition is very much alive but with only token coverage in the broadcast media and the schools, it will perhaps be a never ending struggle to keep it in clear public view.
To all those sterling folks engaged in carrying our own music forward, I would say 'count yourself lucky to have such a fascinating and enjoyable task'.
Tradition must evolve or die, but please do remember to look back often to the rich written and recorded resources available today of the old singers and musicians.... It does us all good to recall where we have come from.

So.... do my rantings make me a reactionary old fart - not for me to judge - but should that cap fit, I shall wear it with pride....... and continue to fart for England !.

Regards

Dave

** Eamon Holmes, our caller - just WON the Whitby Folk Festival Ceilidh Calling Competiton ....
BRILLIBOBS ! - good on yer Lad !

PS
anahata said :
"The reason why the English don't have a strong sense of national identity is because we have never been under threat from an oppressive regime. There's nothing quite like that to make you cling on to your culture and strive to preserve it."

hmmmmmm.   maybe the current government is helping our cause after all :o)

D


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