Mudcat Café message #3184745 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #138735   Message #3184745
Posted By: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
10-Jul-11 - 05:24 AM
Thread Name: Do purists really exist?
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
each individual word I used was traditional and the grammatical structures I used likewise.

By jove I think he's beginning to get it! We use language as Innocently as the Elliots once used Folk Song, but each and every one of us is a master of it - able to compose entire sentences as quick as we can say them. Thing is, we might not be aware of such Linguistic terms of noun-phrase or bi-labial fricative but that doesn't mean we can't use them; we might even be aware of Grimms Law or which words we use are Romance or whatever, but that doesn't effect or ability to use them in a sentence.

for example there was some years ago a South American composer who decided to break the octave down into 64 intervals rather than 12.

Feast your eyes, ears & intellect on the music of Harry Partch, who using Pythagorean theory divided the octave into 43. The reason he did this? 1) to more accurately reflect the inflections of human speach patterns which (he felt) had come adrift in Western Music traditions (Opera in particular) and 2) so he might use Perfect intervals in his music rather than (say) the compromised thirds of the tempered scale. Now Musical Maverick he may have been, but in every aspect of his work Partch was drawing heavily on tradition, even the tradition of musical outsider eccentricity in which he might sit alongside such philosophical innovators as Sun Ra and Moondog - both of whom were ultra-traditionalists when it came to the core of their thinking and compositional approaches and allegiances - as was Harry Partch, whose music was the direct creative consequence of that which preceded it just as all musics are in terms of pure process and tradition which is why Partch is an integral figure in the Tradition of New World Classical music.

Even the story about Karpeles allegedly saying that a person was not a folk singer because he had been educated involves a probably malicious slight

The Karpeles story was related on one of these threads by the singer themselves. Not sure which thread it was now (1954 and all That?) but they offered it in the context of a wider discussion on Karpeles and her ideas regarding Folk Purity. The discintion of Folk Songer / Folksong Singer is always going to a weird one, given that the Elliots only became Folk Singers when Ewan MacColl told them they were. The rest of us have elected to be Folksong Singers on account of our enthusiasms for the idiom, and for the essential respect for the old innocent singers thereof (one wonders if the Elliots were still Folk Singers when they became aware that they were?) However, there are Revival Traditions which in themselves can be the source of a Purist Snobbery which we all might be prone to...

For example only yesterday we met up with old friends in MCR and consequently I was rather pished by the time we made it into Fopp where, inebriated into Steamfok nostalgia (or whatever) I bought the 3 CDs by the John Renbourn Group earlier mentioned in my Steamfolk thread. Playing Maid in Bedlam in the car on the way home I remembered once hearing a woman singing Black Waterside as Jacqui Mcshee sings it on that recording - with the la-la-las and all. My God, I almost choked on my pint, but such sloppy sourcing is no cause for derision, surely? Her idea of Folk was singing Jacqui McShee songs; she also sang Cruel Sister to the tune of Lay the Bent to the Bonny Broom, and once complained at me for singing her song to the wrong words when I sang Lay the Bent as given in the Northumbrian Minstelsy (Child #1). Was I purist for advising her to be more dilligent in sourcing her rep? Hmmm... Guilty as charge m'lud... The shame, the shame...


I notice on one of the John Renbourn Group CDs they sing a translation of Machaut's Douce Dame Jolie by one Anne Lister. Is that 'our' Anne Lister? I know she has a background in medieval studies. Very nice it is too, but maybe the purist would rather hear it sung as Machaut intended? That's the thing with the tradition of New Testament Revival Folk - it's been done in so many ways the whole notion of purism becomes laughable - and yet, and yet...