Mudcat Café message #3183629 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #138735   Message #3183629
Posted By: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
08-Jul-11 - 05:39 AM
Thread Name: Do purists really exist?
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
these processes make folk music (not Folk Music)distinctive from other kinds of music such as classical, marching band, and death metal.

No they don't though, because these processes are an integral part of those other sorts of music too. What makes each genre special is the aesthetic, cultural & musicological factors which rest at the heart of musical diversity and ensure that there'll always be room for more stlyes, idioms, genres, & traditions, in the future. Any type of so-called Folk Music can go by another name - just another idiom, like different languages or different styles of art, which, in the end, are all the ongoing consequence of units of individual human creativity operating collectively, culturally, socially, organically. There's no music on the planet where this isn't the case.

So in other words, no, you can't name any collector who believed that the working class was incapable of producing anything, and you certainly can't cite the offending words.

Offending words? The whole thing is writ large in the very DNA of the thing. One of the more moving passages in Georgina Boyes' The Imagined Village is when she quotes Joseph Jacobs on the nature of individual creativity with respect of free-styling (for want of a better term) Indo-European folk tales. This opinion is widely regarded as mistaken, but not by me. In Living Traditions, the free-styling of material is integral to the life of the thing and there is no reason why Traditional Ballad Singers, Storytellers, & Folk Singers weren't able to freely create as it suited them to do so. In the European Folk Tale analogues abound, often o'erleaping cultural & linguistic boundaries; same goes for ballads and songs where the themes run fluidly with random adaptation, sampling, making, remaking all being essential aspects of a Living Tradition perpetuated by master craftsmen & women. By masters I mean ordinary people well versed in the soul of the thing, in The Tradition as it were - which is NOT the songs themselves, but such stuff as songs are made on.

Again, it comes down to individuals, albeit in a time when the only micophones were the human ears, the only recording medium the human brain, and the notion of copyright and other legalities hadn't even been thought of yet. The Grapevine was all, and songs spread swift as gossiping tongues and were changed with each re-making NOT because of being wrongly remembered, but to suit the requirements of each individual singer. Chances are they were never sung the same way twice. We can see the collected legacy of this surviving in the collections cited by Jim earlier; The Traditional Songs so eagerly sought after by scholarly academics from an essentially debased proletariat who were very much of an inferior order of being - deferential, humiliated, humble; just as the indigenous populations of the empire were help to be inferior, the oppressed and huddled masses of lumpen humanity, exploited by the Right and patronised by the Left, but never allowed to live and breathe on account of their essential individual uniqueness.

One is reminded of Maud Karpeles introducing one universally celebrated Folk singer as NOT being a real Folk Singer on account of her having been to college. Tongue in cheek? I think not. The 1954 Definition (of Karpeles) is full of assumptions of Folk Character and Community typical of Folkloric studies in general, whereby human individuality is removed from the equation entirely and ones worth (if any) is solely as a passive Tradition Bearer in the context of ones collective community. Know your place, work man.

In Classical Traditions the Community is one of Individuals. We remember names like Henry Purcell, but what of the likes of John Blow and Pelham Humphries and the hundreds of others with whom Purcell studied and learned, and locked horns with on a daily basis, ploughing over as much old ground (and much so-called Folk material) as breaking new? These days we might call it paying dues. In Folk Music, the illusion of collectivism is the consequence of an indifferent educated class misunderstanding and mythologising the actual nature of Alien Human Culture which assumes that by dint of its Inferiority it must be Truly Different in terms of the Authentic, or the Exotic, or the Pure - and then has the neck to make up the terms on which to judge it.

If we defined Folk Music on account of it being simply (and properly) The Music of The Folk, then people here wouldn't be interested. Instead Folk must be this other thing that The Folk are barely even aware of, thus Folk, as it stands, and at its very worst, is a signifier of rabid bourgeois fantasy. At best, it means anything you want it to mean. Hardly the wonder Folk Roots and the International Folk Music Council changed their names to downplay the F-word. As terms Roots and Traditional Music have their problems, but in the manifest remits of both Froots and the Internaional Council for Traditional Music, and the work being done by singers and musicians old and young the world over... well, I don't think there's any real cause to worry, do you?