Mudcat Café message #3181646 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #138735   Message #3181646
Posted By: Richard Bridge
05-Jul-11 - 04:45 AM
Thread Name: Do purists really exist?
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
Dick, that is an extraordinary statement. Would you say the same for example of Nic Jones' Sir Patrick Spens and June Tabor's? Or are you using a subtle irony to criticise those who use "purist" as a catch-all (well, catch-many) term of abuse?

However, and despite Brian Peter's well informed and well put illustrations, I wonder if this thread was really about "what is folk?" - rather it is (I infer) about those who say that some things should only be done in certain ways. Now many will call me a purist because I like the word "folk" to have a meaning, I think that precisely because it is "folk" it will and may properly (that is to say, without ceasing to be folk) be done in different ways, in different forms, with different melodies and different texts. It seems to me that it is legitimate for those who wish to hear "traditional British folk song" sung unaccompanied to do so - and even to say that those who wish to join their club must do the same. Equally it is legitimate for those who believe that British folk song is unharmonised to eschew (and to say that their club eschews) harmony - but listening to the Young Tradition and to most shanty crews (not all) who sing harmony (which Hugill said IIRC was only native to West Indian and African crews) I believe that the unison singers are missing out on the sexiest thing in folk song. Again, I hate pianos in folk song - but the driving percussive piano on June Tabor's Hughie Graeme drives it along and makes it the tour-de-force that it is.

It would seem then that those who howl the insult "purist" at others have a wide range of targets - those who believe that the word "folk" has meaning, those who would restrict "folk" to certain styles only, those who alter texts (surely something that must have consciously been done since time immemorial). Any more for any more?

Would someone who criticises others for being "purists" like to tell us what they mean?