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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,Jim Carroll Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain (39) RE: Topic Records Folk Songs Of Britain 30 Nov 07

For as long as I have been interested in traditional singers it has been the general belief of those I have discussed the subject with that the recordings available on Folktrax (and now Camsco) are more-or-less the same as those collected by the BBC project in the first half of the 1950s.
If this is the case (and it should be easy enough to establish, should anybody wish to make the effort), it gives rise to a number of questions:
1. How did such an important collection fall into private hands?
2. What part did the main instigators of the project (BBC EFDSS) play the use that was made of it?
3. Does the general access to that collection reflect its importance as a body of traditional culture?
4. In what form is that collection held (acetate/vinyl disc, reel-to-reel tape, cassette, digital, (m.p.3 player)); in what conditions have the recordings been stored and what is their state?
5. Does the collection consist of anything but the artefacts (songs, tunes, stories, lore etc.) or were the informants interviewed by the collectors and do the original recordings contain valuable information on the tradition if so, where are they?
6. Were the other collectors on the project consulted about what should happen to the material; if so, what was their response?
7. And finally, the $64,000 question - what now are we really going to have to settle for being given access to these recordings only if they are made available by companies who have stated that they will only release them if they are guaranteed a return on their investment in other words, is the situation going to remain the same as it has been for the last half century?
Please don't get me wrong; I have no desire to denigrate the work that Peter Kennedy and his team carried out on our behalf. Many/most of the folkies of my generation took their inspiration from 'As I Rode Out', 'The Song Carriers' and the FSB series, and I for one will be eternally grateful for the fact that such a valuable and important treasure was saved for the nation, and for the access (albeit limited) I have been given to it.
But isn't it time that we now took a responsible attitude towards a body of work that has, to date, been under-valued, and in some cases abused?
Jim Carroll

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