Mudcat Café message #2600291 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #119547   Message #2600291
Posted By: mark gregory
30-Mar-09 - 06:40 AM
Thread Name: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
For a long time folklorists were loath to recognise that folk songs don't have to be rural, anonymous, unaffected by print or records or radio ...

I was just reading the NYT obit for Archie Green and came across this:

"Mr. Green, a shipwright and carpenter by trade, drew on a childhood enthusiasm for cowboy songs and a devotion to the union movement to construct a singular academic career. Returning to college at 40, he began studying what he called laborlore: the work songs, slang, craft techniques and tales that helped to define the trade unions and create a sense of group identity.

"He countered the prevailing, somewhat romantic notion that folklore was isolated in remote, marginal groups," said Simon Bronner, who teaches folklore at Pennsylvania State University. "He showed that each of us, in our own work lives, have a folklore that we not only perform but that we need."

I think folklorists like Archie Green and before him George Korson, A.L.Lloyd, Ben Botkin, Alan Lomax, with their interest in the folklore of industrial workers - Industrial Folk Song - pushed the reach of folk song a long way beyond the 1954 definition.

However the search for a watertight definition of folk music remains as seemingly unreachable. Some suggest we abandon the term and talk instead about vernacular song or poplore. I think we just have to put up with folk music as a workable if evolving concept. As Charles Seeger put it "the folk have changed and their music has changed with them"