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GUEST,murray@mpce.mq.edu.au Folk song collecting. Good or bad? (74* d) RE: Folk song collecting. Good or bad? 24 May 00


I think we have to look at the evolution of folk-music as a tree rather than a straight line. That is there is a root which consists of the first known version of the song. If this root is recorded then it becomes the main stem of the tree. Each time somebody copies the "authentic" version the stem just gets longer. When somebody makes up their own version they create a branch which can grow as long as folks consider this branch the "authentic" version, and can itself branch out, and so-on. I value the whole tree (well, maybe I would like to lop off some rotten branches;-})

Like all analogies this one is not accurate in that the "root" is not shaped differently from the stem, so, in fact, when we dig deeper, we might find that this is really just another buried branch.

When I took photography seriously, I liked to do large format work (ie negatives 8x10 inches). I couldn't afford state-of-the art equipment, so I would cruise the professional photo shops and buy old junk that was cleared out of a studio that closed down. I would then repair it and modify it to fit in with my other gear. In the course of my cruising, I ran into some collectors who berated me for destroying "antique" cameras and lenses. What I bought was very common or I couldn't afford it! They seemed to think that because a thing has been created long ago and has managed to survive, it can't be changed. I always thought a few speciments should be in museums and the rest put into use.

Finally, I had a friend who was a whizz at transcribing from records. He refused to transcribe any Son House pieces because he said they were done so differently each time that there was no "authentic" version. On the other hand Stefan Grossman happily transcribes a handy version of a Son House piece, and I am gratefull to him for it. I won't (can't) copy it exactly anyway; but it gives me a starting point.

Murray


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