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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Frank Hamilton Communal folk music or individual? (102* d) RE: Communal folk music or individual? 21 Feb 07

It seems to me that each musical approach has to be evaluated with different ears. Dylan says one thing (more about lyrics) and Sinatra another (about singing performance and the interpretive wedding of words and music) though both have their own obvious merits.

I think that in comparisons to different styles of music, certain highlights take place. The
"traditional" singer has a unique place in the aesthetics that define that performance. It can't be judged like a Sinatra or other forms of expression. The manner of singing is different through tonal quality and approach and when compared to other forms such as popular music today or a few decades ago, it is clear that its difference reflects a mind-set of the audience that hears it.

This would be true with cross-over trad to revival approaches to songs. The mind-set has to be different there too. Ewan or Pete Seeger are revival singers and have their own aesthetic qualities to be observed and appreciated. Sometimes the distinction between the Revival and the Traditional gets muddied and blurred. Here, I feel, is when the individual interpretation exceeds the cultural basis for its evaluation.

I believe that each musical style requires a different mind-set for understanding it. The future of what we call folk music is going to depend on the education of that mind-set.
That is one of the purposes of this forum in my opinion.

Ewan MacColl has place the value of unaccompanied singing in a "traditional" manner as a kind of "art song" in which there are ways of listening to it that require an understanding of how it evolved, why it's necessary to keep it that way and the emotional appreciation of an audience that respects and enjoys it. It has decidedly different musical criteria to be considered for its enjoyment. (Different ears).

At the same time the so-called "revival" performer has a role to play in the future of what is called folk music. Without this individual approach to the re-creation of older forms of expression, there can be no folk music. It melds often with the ubiquitous "folk process" and is sometimes indistinguishable from that underground river that flows beneath the standardized popular media.

There is something to be said for the fact that many of the "traditional" performers of folk might have been the "revival" performers of their time. When we make the distinction, we are talking about different musical styles of expression that will vary from one individual to the next. This is the problem with Cantometrics in that it obscures the individual approach to a cultural-based musical context. Alan was fighting so hard for the "tradition" that he may have lost touch with the nuances that change when the folk music goes through the process. I'm reminded of the Herskovitz approach to anthropology as opposed to the Sol Tax view. The first says that to study a culture, it must be frozen and observed from the outside. The second says that as soon as you start interacting with that culture in any way, you change it.

I see this in the context of folk music. Once you are a part of it in any way, I believe you change it and it becomes something else. I think in the future, "traditional" and "revival" will meld to keep the music alive.

Frank Hamilton

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