Mudcat Café message #4029797 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157878   Message #4029797
Posted By: Vic Smith
23-Jan-20 - 01:32 PM
Thread Name: Dave Harker, Fakesong
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
Four quick responses to the very interesting comments made by Jack Campin on his reactions to the passage of mine that he quotes: -

This raises some difficult questions that may have parallels in music.
If you are talking about recordings songs/tunes compared with asking about a life story, then I would say that this is spot on.

Some of the Romany use what appears to be traditional belief as a tool for earning money from the outside community - fortune telling, selling talismans and the like. But do they seriously believe it themselves?
Yes and no. The fortune tellers are adept at gaining information and telling people what they want to hear though I have been told facts about myself by Scottish travellers who had no way as far as I could see of gaining these. The camping life made them very fearful of malign supernatural forces and a fear of "Burkers" who were going to kill them and then sell their bodies for science was very common.

What I suspect happens is that they mediate their own reporting of what they believe to select what they think their audience is interested in.
Again I concur totally with this and it is why I wrote in the paragraph before the one you quote that "An interviewer should say as little as possible and give the informant his or her head about what is important in their view." If you start out by asking, "Tell me about your belief in the supernatural " then you might as well give up. If I was to analyse my approach to interviewing, I think that I would say that it is instinctive rather than intellectualised and that I try to show that I am interested in the interviewee as a person - which is why I want to interview them anyway.

I'd guess Vic has had to deal with that many times and I'm not telling him anything new....
.... which must be why I find myself agreeing with what you say.

I can only think of one practical tip about interviewing that I ever adopted. The BBC Radio Sussex folk music programme that I introduced came on the air a couple of months before the first BBC national programme Folk On Friday introduced by Jim Lloyd. He asked if he could be interviewed on our programmme as a promotion for his. In the pub afterwards, Jim said, "When you ask a question, you will often get a bland prepared answer. Listen to that then smile and nod as if you want them to go on. Because no-one like the idea of a long gap, whether it a live radio or a recording, they will say something like 'Besides....' and then tell you what they really think."
This was in the early 1970s and I have tried it many times since then and 9 out of 10 times it works.

Now it really is time to get back to 'Fakesong' as has aleady been suggested and as I haven't read the book, I'll shut up for a while.