Mudcat Café message #2960465 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #131220   Message #2960465
Posted By: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
08-Aug-10 - 04:27 AM
Thread Name: What isn't folk
Subject: RE: What isn't folk
BTW - Couldn't find the 200 Motels DVD in Preston so I bought something called Frank Zappa : A Token of His Extreme which is all (?) 77 minutes of the August 1974 Mothers' TV special in a very poor quality transfer friom what looks like a 3rd genersation dub from VHS. No scene index, no menus, nothing, but at 8 I'm not complaining & the performances are absolutely riveting throughout.

Here's all ten minutes of Zappa's supreme soul-perversion Florentine Pogen from the TV special with improved sound & visuals.

Definitely not folk, but hold on a minute - let's take a closer look in the light of the 1954 Definition...

1954: Folk music is the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission.

Well, obviously Zappa's music has...

1954: The factors that shape the tradition are: (i) continuity which links the present with the past;

Yes to that too, quite vividly so...

1954: (ii) variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group;

This is getting creepy, folks!

1954: (iii) selection by the community, which determines the form or forms in which the music survives.

Which is a striking component in the music of Frank Zappa even unto this day...

1954: The term can be applied to music that has been evolved from rudimentary beginnings by a community uninfluenced by popular and art music...

Evolving from rudimentary beginnings certainly but given that Folk and Popular music have been shown to be synonymous, what can this mean? And even if they're not, I'd argue such communities might have once only existed in the remotest regions of Planet Earth and the assumption that they hadn't evolved their own Popular & Art musics is a tad presumptious. On one of Bert Lloyd's Radio Three documentaries he was very fond of a recording he'd made of village girls from a remote community in the Phillipines (?) singing a song they'd composed about Jimmy Rodgers!

1954: ...and it can likewise be applied to music which has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community.

As we can see Zappa's community had certainly absorbed it, and there's no evidence of sheet music...

1954: The term does not cover composed popular music that has been taken over ready-made by a community and remains unchanged...

I've heard as many recordings of Florentine Pogen by this line-up and change is endemic in the nature of the thing; in fact, you can trace a steady evolution if you line them up chronologically...

1954: ...for it is the re-fashioning and re-creation of the music by the community that gives it its folk character.

Hmmmm - so there we have it folks, Zappa's music is folk after all - but then again with conditions as vague and nebulous as these, what music isn't?