Mudcat Café message #3184797 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #138735   Message #3184797
Posted By: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
10-Jul-11 - 08:07 AM
Thread Name: Do purists really exist?
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
You substitute an invented term "old songs and ballads" for the correct one "folk song".

There is no correct here, only to the fundamentalist. Hmmm - fundament / mentalist seems to as good a term for Anally Retentive as any, especially in this context don't you think?

That adds nothing and loses much since it loses the correlation between folk song and folk music on the one hand and folk arts and folklore generically on the other.

Have you read Trubshaw's Discovering Folklore? If not, recommend you do. It only comes unstuck (ironically) when discussing Folk Music, where he gets more hung up on content than context. Folk Arts is a deplorable term anyway - reactionary post-modernism at its worst, and quite patronising too. We had a lovely thread about it a while ago. Folklore, again, is more about outsider observation, interpretation and misunderstanding of feral events by way of containing them in academic terms and thereby reconstructing them in that image. It isseldom about what it means to the people who it, in which case there'd be nothing to write, or else too much, and the whole notion of Folklore would evaporate, as I believe it should. Folklore is either Everything Everywhere, or it is Nothing Nowhere. As a singer of Old Songs and a teller of Old Stories and lover of Old Rites and Riots, I go with the later every time!

Schmaltzy Matilda (I like the coinage) is a fine song in its own way

No it isn't, it's a fecking dreadful piece of mawkish tripe that only comes in useful for parody as in Ron Baxter's masterful Morecambe.

and there's nothing inherently evil in singing it - and if your own arguments are right then it is a traditional song. Reductio ad absurdum.

I never said it wasn't a Traditional Song - just not an Old One; it's certainly a New Testament Folk Song, sung to the point of laboured idiomatic cliche (as you keep saying Folk is never about quality or musical preference) but I do believe its inherent evil lies in the thuggish assumption that a random smattering of listeners have to weep along with mawkish sentiments. Thing is, being a Revival in the religious sense, in my experience, they generally do.


PS -

Your distortion of the impact of the application of a term to the Elliots is likewise contumelious.

Make no mistake, I have every respect for The Elliots, but not for the system by which they were selected and exalted. I despise the implication of Folk Purity and co-opting of select individuals and familes simply to prove a point. It's rather like Disney's cameramen driving lemmings over a cliff to substantiate a myth. In the context of their Culture and Community the Elliots remain remarkable, but only one tiny small piece of a much bigger jigsaw that is the rich and wondrous culture & musical traditions of the Durham & Northumbrian Coalfield which was my natural born home - a culture that must include everything from Tommy Armstrong to The New Blockaders.

I have no respect for your arguments, or your irrelevancies,

Thinking about this again, I have every respect for yours.


Suibhne, your argument that all music is traditional, whilst I can understand it, is not helpful to this discussion.

I don't want to helpful, Howard - I'm just pointing out to the anchorites of the Folk World that there are other musics out there, each of them with equally valid claims to being Traditional.

You know full well what I mean by "traditional" in this context.

I know what Folkies mean by it - I also believe they are wrong and quite frequently miss the beauties of the songs they love owing to both a lack of understanding of cultural process and a willingness to believe othodox writ.

Besides, you are the one who has consistently berated academics and collectors for their lack of understanding.

Yes, but look at the reasons why.

This completely disregards that the purpose of folk clubs is to present a particular type of music,

No it doesn't - and chance would be a bloody fine thing if that was the case. As I keep saying, I only go to Folk Clubs to play and hear a particular type of music, but the reality is seldom so straightforward. In fact, it was only coming to Lancashire and hearing all the other myriad approximations of musical styles that were performed in the name of Folk over here (as well as the geral disinterest in Old Songs and Ballads) that made me realise I had to loosen up or else go insane. In the end, I chose the latter option, especially when we found what is now our Perfect Folk Club in the perfect pub. However in the wider context of Human Society there is more to be considered by the Folklorist Ethnographer than the interests of a minority of enthusiastic hobbyists - such as myself and every other Folkie great and small.

Off out to enjoy the day now, back later, or tomorrow, depending how we get on.