Mudcat Café message #3181672 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #138735   Message #3181672
Posted By: Brian Peters
05-Jul-11 - 06:17 AM
Thread Name: Do purists really exist?
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
"what about the versions that immediately preceded it? or yet came after? What about the next time the song was sung by the same singer?"

You're right, there, I can think of instances where the same singer sang a song significantly differently from one performance to the next. And, according to accounts of live performances back in the day, Sam Larner seems to have had an almost improvisational approach to the melody of Lofty Tall Ship.

And, going back a few posts...
[BP] Which were the 'Folk Terms'? And why the capitals?
"'Unselfconsciously in three or more different musical modes' seems to fit the bill... It only becomes unselfconscious when you apply an academic terminology to the material which would have been completely alien to the original singers."


My use of 'unselfconsciously' was intended solely to exclude self-conscious modal manipulations of the kind that musicians might like to execute to show how clever they are. That you choose to interpret it through your usual prism of 'folk revival condescension' says more about your agenda than it does about mine.

My terminology would of course have been alien to the original singers (although it serves its purpose here well enough), but from Jim Carroll's account of Walter Pardon working out song melodies on his melodeon it's clear that here was one traditional singer with a good ear for the modes.

"I know the differences and variations, just I can't possibly see how it could possibly be any different. Can you?"

Differences and variations are exactly what I'd expect, given an understanding of 'folk process'. I'm still surprised by the beauty and drama of the results, though. Like Marina Russell's Well Met, Well Met - stunning.

"Folkies call The Tradition consists of so many isolated specimens suspended in formaldehyde"

Here we go again, the old cliche about 'formaldehyde'. Makes a change from 'aspic' I suppose...

"A collected song is not a living entity, it is only an imperfect record of how such-and-such might have sung it on that particular occasion. One one hand we talk of Fluidity, on the other hand that Fluidity is measured by comparing collected non-Fluid versions assumed to be definitive in and of themselves."

Snapshots is exactly what they are. No-one said otherwise. No-one said that each version is definitve; quite the opposite: there is no definitive version. That's the whole point.

Liked the Magma clip. I still have that soundtrack here somewhere.