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Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?

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GUEST,big al whittle 26 Jul 13 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,Musket getting bored now 26 Jul 13 - 02:57 PM
Jim Carroll 26 Jul 13 - 10:37 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Jul 13 - 10:34 AM
johncharles 26 Jul 13 - 09:50 AM
GUEST,dick greenhaus 26 Jul 13 - 09:37 AM
johncharles 26 Jul 13 - 09:26 AM
Musket 26 Jul 13 - 09:16 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Jul 13 - 08:13 AM
johncharles 26 Jul 13 - 06:52 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Jul 13 - 06:27 AM
GUEST,Big Al Whittle 26 Jul 13 - 06:01 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Jul 13 - 02:16 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Jul 13 - 01:50 AM
Big Al Whittle 25 Jul 13 - 07:54 PM
Jim Carroll 25 Jul 13 - 01:12 PM
The Sandman 25 Jul 13 - 12:59 PM
Jim Carroll 25 Jul 13 - 12:02 PM
Big Al Whittle 25 Jul 13 - 08:01 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Jul 13 - 03:26 AM
Big Al Whittle 24 Jul 13 - 05:21 PM
Steve Gardham 24 Jul 13 - 04:36 PM
Lighter 24 Jul 13 - 01:42 PM
The Sandman 24 Jul 13 - 01:30 PM
John P 24 Jul 13 - 10:42 AM
Gibb Sahib 24 Jul 13 - 03:30 AM
Big Al Whittle 23 Jul 13 - 08:46 PM
The Sandman 23 Jul 13 - 07:05 PM
Steve Gardham 23 Jul 13 - 02:42 PM
The Sandman 23 Jul 13 - 08:45 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 23 Jul 13 - 07:58 AM
Mr Red 23 Jul 13 - 06:48 AM
Big Al Whittle 23 Jul 13 - 04:50 AM
Bert 23 Jul 13 - 03:05 AM
dick greenhaus 22 Jul 13 - 08:59 PM
Bill D 22 Jul 13 - 08:26 PM
The Sandman 22 Jul 13 - 04:36 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Jul 13 - 03:26 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Jul 13 - 03:23 PM
Airymouse 22 Jul 13 - 09:35 AM
Mr Red 22 Jul 13 - 09:23 AM
The Sandman 22 Jul 13 - 08:49 AM
The Borchester Echo 22 Sep 07 - 11:53 AM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Sep 07 - 11:42 AM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Sep 07 - 11:33 AM
Kent Davis 22 Sep 07 - 11:28 AM
The Sandman 22 Sep 07 - 09:55 AM
greg stephens 22 Sep 07 - 09:14 AM
Richard Bridge 22 Sep 07 - 08:55 AM
MarkAustin 22 Sep 07 - 08:30 AM
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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: GUEST,big al whittle
Date: 26 Jul 13 - 03:25 PM

'It would also appear to exclude the performance-oriented arrangements of people like Carthy and Seeger. '

In that case, it really is nonsense. I can't see why something copywrighted and published can;t be a folksong. It just means the creator has a slim chance of getting paid for his work.

What folk do with the song when they have taken possession of it - that's what makes it folk music - in my view.

What are the advantages in excluding people and saying - your music is not folk music?


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: GUEST,Musket getting bored now
Date: 26 Jul 13 - 02:57 PM

If I sing it in a folk club and call it a folk song it does. The quacking is possibly heckling.

To date, over 30 of my songs, sung by a variety of artistes for which I am grateful can be downloaded from iTunes and Amazon MP3.

Go on, I bet you can't guess the genre they are under?

Ok. One or two under rock, one inexplicitly under country (!)

I intend to write a song about a duck between now and the next local run out, middle of next week. I'll let you know when it officially becomes a folk song.





Oh! When you feel down in the mouth
You've been rug munching a duck
Never my dear, go down south
Bill owners don't need a friend.

The bugger writes itself....


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Jul 13 - 10:37 AM

Blunder:
"If authentic means sounding like A L Lloyd or McColl cupping your finger in your ear"
It doen't.
"I can assume it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck"
Then it's probably a duck - doesn't make it a folk song though.
Jim Carroll.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Jul 13 - 10:34 AM

"The authors of this article have elected, in the interests of open dissemination of scholarly work, to provide this article to you in open access format. This means that, in accordance with the principles of
the Budapest Open Access Initiative (http://www.soros.org/openaccess/), you may freely copy and redistribute this article provided you correctly acknowledge its authors and source, and do not alter its contents."
Thanks John - I'll read it through when I have enough time to give it the attention it appears to deserve.
A quick observation without pre-judging what John Engenes has to say.
I would be interested to hear your views on whether the internet has the same effect on say folk-song as print did when literacy became not just available but generally accepted; that of fixing the text so it remained unaltered. This was pretty much what we found in Ireland, especially during the time we spent with Mikeen McCarthy, the Kerry ballad seller (who was himself semi literate).
I was taken with the 'copyright' warning at the bottom of your link; applied to songs it would scupper any chance of them entering into any oral tradition - just a thought!
Best,
Jim Carroll

"The authors of this article have elected, in the interests of open dissemination of scholarly work, to provide this article to you in open
access format. This means that, in accordance with the principles of
the Budapest Open Access Initiative (http://www.soros.org/openaccess/), you may freely copy and redistribute this article provided you correctly acknowledge its authors and source, and do not alter its contents."


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: johncharles
Date: 26 Jul 13 - 09:50 AM

For those of an oral persuasion here is John Egenes explain his thesis.

folkprocess
john


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: GUEST,dick greenhaus
Date: 26 Jul 13 - 09:37 AM

Here's the much-discussed 1954 definiion:
"Folk music is the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission. The factors that shape the tradition are:

      (i) continuity which links the present with the past;
      (ii) variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group;
      (iii) selection by the community, which determines the form or forms in which the music survives.

The term can be applied to music that has been evolved from rudimentary beginnings by a community uninfluenced by popular and art music and it can likewise be applied to music which has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community.
The term does not cover composed popular music that has been taken over ready-made by a community and remains unchanged, for it is the re-fashioning and re-creation of the music by the community that gives it its folk character."

PLease note that it makes no reference to the function of folksong in a society, nor to the style in which the music is played. It would also appear to exclude the performance-oriented arrangements of people like Carthy and Seeger.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: johncharles
Date: 26 Jul 13 - 09:26 AM

Dear Jim, whether we have lost the folk process or not, is I believe, still up for debate. Here is an interesting paper by John Engenes on the subject.

folk process
john


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Musket
Date: 26 Jul 13 - 09:16 AM

The folk process works fine.

If authentic means sounding like A L Lloyd or McColl cupping your finger in your ear... I put it to you that when Dave Burland many years ago sang The Boomtown Rats "I dont like Mondays" he started a huge debate by saying it ticked every box for a folk song, including being written by an Irish dude with an attitude and describing a high profile event the other side of the pond. The only difference between that and The Ballad of Springhill being err....

If I write a song about wanting to shag someone I have a crush on and sing it in a folk club, or write a song about the demise of steelworks in Scunthorpe and sing it in a working mens club, are either folk songs?

I reckon they both are, but thats because a) folk is a genre and b) I wasn't around to vote in 1954 so can dismiss it. Nobody owns the genre. Nobody at all.

If I sing a song in a folk club and people clap, then I can assume it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Jul 13 - 08:13 AM

"no one will go back to the authentic but inferior version, but still, the song retains its original form for centuries"
Sorry to disagree John - even assuming that anybody knew what the "authentic" version was, inferior or otherwise, that wasn't how it worked.
The survival and dissemination of these songs was entirely down to the universality of themes that enabled people from all over the English Speaking world to adapt them to suit their own situations and surroundings - a song from a fishing community in East Anglia was often adapted to suit say a farming area in Somerset, for interest.
That is, or rather was the 'folk' process, and it is basically what we have lost.
Forgetting and mishearing certainly was a part of the re-making of these songs, but the remade versions became just as 'authentic' as the original ones (perhaps "earlier" is a better word")   
I believe that "Improvement" was much more the trade-tools of the early collectors and anthologists rather than 'the folk' themselves.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: johncharles
Date: 26 Jul 13 - 06:52 AM

Bill Marwick's folk file; a wry look at this and other related subjects is worth a look.
The Folk File: a folkie's dictionary
folk process (see also oral tradition) the method of learning a song, forgetting some of it, adding bits of your own, and then teaching the song to someone else, complete with changes. This happens all the time, with the expected result that there are often no definitive versions of songs. Ancient publication doesn't mean much - if the song has been improved over the years, no one will go back to the authentic but inferior version, but still, the song retains its original form for centuries. john


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Jul 13 - 06:27 AM

"Isn't that the point about folk - all kinds of songs and melodies are subsumed into the folk process."
The 'folk process' has not operated in Britain for several generations - advance in technology, copyright laws and mass media communication has made sure of that.
We receive our culture ready made, vacuum-pack-wrapped, factory finished and legally protected, it has become a commodity rather than a commonly owned means of self expression.
Tinkering with the older songs in the greenhouse conditions of a handful of folk clubs has nothing whatever to do with the common ownership, re-adaptation re-making of songs that was once an essential part of our creative and reinterpretative culture - it is the "Fascinationg Pastime" of a few rather than the collective voice of many, as it once was.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: GUEST,Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Jul 13 - 06:01 AM

mixed up with Childe Harold who to the dark tower came.....

Isn't that the point about folk - all kinds of songs and melodies are subsumed into the folk process.

Let's be honest Jim - this folk music business hasn't really worked out to the satisfaction of either of us. Which i think proves my point.

Its a capricious sort of spirit at the heart of folk music. Quite unbiddable by university departments, intellectuals of every political colour, composers like Britten, music industry moguls.....

And thank god for that.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Jul 13 - 02:16 AM

Actually - I believe it is a parody of Nessun Dorma that is sung on the terraces, which might have some claim to 'folk' - somehow I very much doubt if the habitués of The Kop have bothered to grasp the subtleties of Puccini's Italian.
Perhaps I'll invite you to the book-burning when I make a bonfire of our collection of the century-or- so's scholarship we've compiled by all those arseholes with an agenda -
By the way - the name's Child - not Childe (wasn't the other one Harold, not Francis J - but what's the spelling of the name of another agenda-driven arsehole between friends)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Jul 13 - 01:50 AM

Oh dear!!!
So it wasn't a wind-up!
I'm sure they'll find a cure one day Al
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Jul 13 - 07:54 PM

Well I'm sorry Jim - but thats the way it works. some kid turns up at the folk club singing Beatles song and ten years later - they're telling you about what constitutes real folk music and which Childe Ballads are which.

And actually when Nessum Dorma is being sung on the football terraces - well yes it has become a sort of folk melody - certainly one that folk musicians will have a crack at, write variants of = add words to.

Folk music doesn't follow any sort of pattern = folk define it. Not some arsehole with an agenda.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jul 13 - 01:12 PM

Your choice Cap'n - not the argument here
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Jul 13 - 12:59 PM

I would have classified little boxes as a contemporary folk song, the red flag i would not have called a folk song, furthermore i cannot explain why.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jul 13 - 12:02 PM

"Can't see why - they are all there in English folk clubs."
Oh dear (again) Al.
So if somebody sings 'Nessun Dorma' in a folk club it becomes a folk song - do I have that right?
Or, for that matter, if somebody sings Brigg Fair at the Royal Opera House it becomes an operatic aria - if only life (or people) were that simple!!
Can I assume that you are brighter than your remark and your posting was a wind-up?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Jul 13 - 08:01 AM

'
"If "Little Boxes" and "The Red Flag" are folk songs, we need a new term to describe "The Outlandish Knight", "Searching for Lambs" and "The Coal-Owner and the Pitman's Wife". '

Can't see why - they are all there in English folk clubs.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jul 13 - 03:26 AM

The 1954 definition, from its conception, has always been open to improvement - has there ever been a definition that hasn't?
The problem now is that the debate is divided between those who think there should be a definition and those who think there shouldn't -actually discussing what makes up the constituent parts of folk song has become a no-go area (I can't think of any other musical form that doesn't have a more-or-less generally accepted identification of its own).
In our (Pat Mackenzie's and mine) experience as collectors since the early 1970s, every field singer we asked produced a description of their own which more-or-less conformed with our own understanding of what a folk/traditional song was and was prepared to explain why they believed what they did.
None of these 'definitions' can be described as deeply analytically, intellectual or particularly well thought out but they came from how the songs related to the singers, their families, their neighbours.... - it was what the songs meant to them and what made them unique.
Probably some of the the most deeply thought out and articulate statements came from Norfolk singer, Walter Pardon.
I can't find the cutting at present but some years ago Jean Richie was interviewed by The Irish Times where she described how, when she was collecting in Ireland in the 1950s she was given all the pop songs of the past, indiscriminate of type, until she asked if they knew 'Barbara Allen' - "That's when all the beautiful old traditional songs and ballads began to pour out".
The problem is that while we sing the songs we really know very little of the tradition and what part it played in people's lives and consciousness simply because we never got round to asking them.
I believe Bert Lloyd was right when he wrote in 'Folk Song in England' in 1967.

"If "Little Boxes" and "The Red Flag" are folk songs, we need a new term to describe "The Outlandish Knight", "Searching for Lambs" and "The Coal-Owner and the Pitman's Wife".
In any case, no special mystical virtue attaches to the notion of folk song, grand as some folkloric creations may be. Show-business songs and labour hymns have their own qualities, and neither their mass connections nor their artistic character are satisfactorily suggested and emphasized by emotionally applying the description 'folk song' to them. Indeed, it could be argued that in some respects the term is belittling, seeing that folk song proper, modest article that it is, has neither the colossal acceptability of the commercial product nor the broad idealistic horizon of the political mass song."

One thing is certain - if you are going to be involved in any specific form of music, whether it is by writing about it, discussing or arguing about it, running a club to entice people in to listen to it... or simply telling your mates why you like it, you need some form of definition in order to pinpoint what you are referring to, and the deeper you become involved in it, the more specific that definition needs to be.
There's no rule to say that you have to "need" or accept any definition, but nobody should have the right to slag off or interfere in any way with the right of those of us who feel we do, as happens far too often during these discussions.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Jul 13 - 05:21 PM

We are the English.

We all live a yellow submarine.
And we live a life of ease
Every one of us does what we please......

which I think needs to be taken into account.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Jul 13 - 04:36 PM

Okay,
for those who think the 54 description is outmoded or irrelevant:-

Amongst many other users of the words 'Folk Songs' are book editors and book buyers (nothing to do with academia). One of the most prestigious and sought-after anthologies to be produced recently in the English-speaking world is 'The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs'. It has no subtitle using the words 'traditional' or 'vernacular'. As far as I can see it has no songs in it written after 1900, and precious little in fact written after 1800. Also as far as I can see all of the material conforms to 54.

I don't remember anyone complaining about the usage of this title. Should the book have had a different title? Admittedly it was regurgitating a title first used in 1959, only 5 years after the definition.

I'm not trying particularly to defend 54 but just out of interest adding to the discussion. It's alright saying it is outdated etc. so then what would you alter?


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Jul 13 - 01:42 PM

Mr Red, it was the OED.

It's an observation that applies to many subjects. Consider the meaning of "poetry" and "democracy."


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Jul 13 - 01:30 PM

The problem with internet communication is that words get misinterpreted [due to absence of body language].
I cannot see any subtext anywhere about defending the definition, I play trad music and I am not here defending or criticising the definition but trying to discuss the definition.
   traditional music is not necessarily different from contemporary music, let me give you some examples of contemporary songs that have been accepted by many as traditional, fiddlers green, dirty old town, thirty foot trailer, shoals of herring,manchster rambler[four from the master songwriter MacColl]


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: John P
Date: 24 Jul 13 - 10:42 AM

I get the feeling that this thread isn't about the 1954 definition, but rather about people who don't like being told that traditional folk music is different than contemporary folk music. This distinction has nothing to do with the quality or value of any piece of music or any performance. It has nothing to do with what sort of music any musician should play -- except when a singer-songwriter wants to play in a club that focuses on traditional music. And that's still not about the 1954 definition, which most people who play and enjoy traditional music have never heard of and don't pay any attention to if they have. Except for scholarly pursuits, the 1954 definition has no relevancy in the real world. But traditional music, for all it is academically undefined for most of us, is still different than contemporary folk music, in much the same way that we don't need a definition of jazz to know that it's different than baroque music.

There seems to be a subtext that people who play traditional music ought to know and defend the 1954 definition. How silly.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 24 Jul 13 - 03:30 AM

Howard Jones is right. "1954 definition" was an academics' concept. Since then, academics have refined, scrapped, moved on, whatever. 1954 definition is irrelevant aside from when you are doing an historiography, or a study of the development of the concept (like a meta-study).

If one rejects academics, great. But if one rejects academics and they want to use this "1954 definition", then what does that make them? Quasi-academic, I suppose. It's like, I'm kinda sorta into history...but not really...so I read some out-dated and out-moded history book from the 50s.

1954 Definition is all about this sort of quasi-academic nature of much of the "Folk Music" enthusiast culture. It's like people want to simultaneously proclaim that they don't have any "book larnin'" because that would taint them somehow, or being something that "elites" (= non-folkies) do, but at every turn that also want to proclaim their deep knowledge of so and so song, and start performances with preambles that take twice the time it takes to actually sing a song.

1954 definition is like the "old" 1990s computer sitting in your house that you can kind of get to work to check basic email and do some word processing and which, for one's purposes "is fine." That's OK, if it really is fine for you. If you try to do much else with it though, you're in for some frustration. And chances are that rather than improve that computer, you'd just get a new model.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Jul 13 - 08:46 PM

No its the best definition in the world and serves the purpose wonderfully of everybody who thinks folk music stopped in 1914. Everybody who has lived since then and has tried to express themselves to other people is basically infra dig, and not worth shit.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Jul 13 - 07:05 PM

I am calm, it is not necessary in my opinion to ask such a question, it is simple either contribute to a thread or do not contribute.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Jul 13 - 02:42 PM

Calm down, Dick.
They were only asking a simple question out of curiosity presumably, not criticising necessarily.

The 54 definition has been done to death, but asking about improvements is a valid twist regardless of how long ago the question was asked.

There are also new people to Mudcat who might be interested in joining in.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Jul 13 - 08:45 AM

Howard, why should I not resurrect this thread, this is a forum for discussing folk music, if people do not wish to discuss it thay do not have to participate.
bill d and howard, is that clear enough., if you do not like it go somewhere else


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 23 Jul 13 - 07:58 AM

Dick, why have you resurrected these old threads on the 1954 Definition?

It was devised by academics to define an area for study. Since academics enjoy dancing on the heads of pins even more than folkies, I would be surprised if it hasn't been discussed, modified and maybe even improved over the last 59 years. However it was never intended to define what is, or "should be", performed in folk clubs, or to help record stores to decide on what shelf to put albums.

It is common for words to have different meanings for different groups of users. As a rule, specialists and professionals need to use language more precisely in order to differentiate matters which are of little interest to the non-specialists. It may be myth that Eskimos have 40 words for snow, but skiers and mountaineers certainly have several. I can get by with describing a tool as a "file" or a "saw", but plumbers and carpenters need to know exactly what type. "Folk" is no different - we need (or would like) it to have a narrower meaning than that used by the general public, while academics need an even more precise definition. These meanings are different layers of the onion, they are not in competition with each other.

I think the 1954 definition is a useful tool to help describe and explain what characterises the music, but it does not limit my choice of what material I consider appropriate to perform.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Mr Red
Date: 23 Jul 13 - 06:48 AM

Was it Dr Johnson or the first editor of the OED that defined the English language along these lines:

It has a large circumference has a very definite and well recognised centre, but as you approach the periphery it becomes nebulous to the point that you cannot see what is and isn't inside.

Not a definition of Folk but a good description of the definition.

If the concept is sufficiently large to sustain sub-divisions can we accept the concept of trad Folk and "modern" Folk? along with the myriad: Song, music, custom, story, joke, (etc) on a second dimension. I am sure we could introduce a third axis (at least) say - timescale.

Given the way it is discussed here it is obviously multi-dimensonal. More rounded if you like. Whatever - Folk doesn't have blinkers. folk do.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Jul 13 - 04:50 AM

I've been thinking of a title for a collection of my 'funny' songs. funny as in comedy....

Vulgar Incursions (into the Great Middle Class Artform of Folk Music...)

I think you should re-define folk music. I'm fed up with being a vulgar incursion. And try as I might....I can't Help resenting it. for myself and dozens of other dedicated artists who have pissed their lives up the wall in folk clubs trying to come up with something more reflective of the society we live in.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Bert
Date: 23 Jul 13 - 03:05 AM

Hey, the true definition.

If it is on Mudcat, it is Folk!!!


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 22 Jul 13 - 08:59 PM

Te study of folk music has so many facets that any attempt to provide a single definition is fairly ludicrous. The 1954 definition addresses only the transmission of lyrics. By that definition, Greensleeves, which survived only in books is not a folk song.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Jul 13 - 08:26 PM

How DID you come to resurrect a 6 year old thread in order to pursue a point?


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Jul 13 - 04:36 PM

The folk in my experience generally consider folk to be the wild rover, the Spinners, Kilgarry mountain, the Dubliners, DIRTY OLD TOWN.
I once heard that Carthy was described as that JAZZ SINGER by a snooker player, when bonny lass of angelsea came on the juke box


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Jul 13 - 03:26 PM

Sorry, Dick
I should have addressed your question. I have happily used it for 50 years and don't see any need to 'improve' it now. Early improvements were made when they took out the silly clause about known composers and that's the only quibble I would have had.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Jul 13 - 03:23 PM

There have been several threads covering this general subject since 07. At the risk of repeating myself:-
a) like most languages ours is constantly evolving and word meanings change and get new meanings all the time.
b) Many words in the dictionary have a whole range of meanings, some overlapping.

We should consider the word 'folk' in the same way. What was useful in 54 is still very useful to many of us on this forum today, myself included, but I'm afraid we've been somewhat overtaken. The media and hence 'the folk' now have quite a different concept of the word. We can't fight that. You either need to change the word that is covered by 54 or just accept that words can have different meanings to different groups of people. I don't have a problem with any of this.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Airymouse
Date: 22 Jul 13 - 09:35 AM

Looks like a pretty good definition to me, but a good many respondents have disliked "oral tradition". Perhaps "aural tradition" would be better. That would cover a fiddle tune learned by watching the fiddle player and listening, but not talking to the fiddler. Also it would cover all those field recordings of folk songs that would have been lost had they not been recorded.
My definition of a folk song, which is not an improvement on the given definition, is that a folk song is a non-degenerate equivalence class of tunes and words hand down aurally from generation to generation, where two sets of words and tunes are equivalent provided any reasonable person on hearing both would say,"the words are different and the tunes are different, but they are obviously the same song".


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Mr Red
Date: 22 Jul 13 - 09:23 AM

putting my head above the parapet.

Surely the buying of CDs LPs etc etc is what folks do. ie Folk.
The contents of those media are commercial fare. Some of it even popular.

Singers & musicians in pubs and at folk festival sessions & SAR are Folk.
Headline acts are entertainment.

If someone selling says it is Folk - it probably ain't.
If the Folks in the pub are singing they mostly ain't calling it Folk they is filling their hearts, they is singing!

Folk is what Folk does. Light bulb jokes are Folk, because there is not much commercial value in it and thereby is an oral tradition. And given it has gone out of fashion, by and large, adds more credence to my (most earnest) assertion.

Is Music Hall (Burlesque) Folk? Now it is not part of "Popular" culture but is part of what can be heard in Folk Clubs - probably.

Whatever we do here, please don't ask an estate agent (realtor) or marketing guy for a definition.

Q. How many Folkies does it take to change Folk?



A. At least one generation, probably 2.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Jul 13 - 08:49 AM

but borchester you are not supposed to possess a sense of humour, how dare you break out from the way you have been stereo typed.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 22 Sep 07 - 11:53 AM

Norse horses?
Nah, you've got to go to the Baltic states:

Singing Ponies

Gawd, how many times have I posted this?


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Sep 07 - 11:42 AM

As the unsuccesful song collector said to explain his lack of success on a field trip in Norway "I never heard a Norse sing."


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Sep 07 - 11:33 AM

Or, of course, "fiddle" - which would cover all those instruments. "FIDDLE. A colloquial term for any kind of bowed string instrument, especially the violin" (The Oxford Companion to Music.)


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Kent Davis
Date: 22 Sep 07 - 11:28 AM

Isn't the purpose of a definition to clarify communication? How would changing the 1954 definion clarify communication?
If we wish to talk or write about something that fits the 1954 definition, then we have precisely the word we need. If we want to talk or write about something that doesn't fit that definition, then we can use other terms.   
Suppose we are trying to talk about violins. Suppose further that I have updated my definition of "violin" to include violas, cellos, and basses.
Wouldn't you rather I say "violin" when I mean "violin" and say "bowed instrument" when I mean "bowed instrument"?
Kent


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Sep 07 - 09:55 AM

Mark,re EFDSS remit,I was of the same opinion as yourself ,until I was gunned down by Derek Schofield and John Adams,.
Now I hardly dare mention the word EFDSS,In case Folkie Dave admonishes me for crimes against the Society.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 Sep 07 - 09:14 AM

Mark Austin: you are a bit confused. Of course Brasser did not change the nature of the music by writing it down, and of course the definition(as pointed out earlier more than once) nowhere says transmission has to be only oral. That would be nonsensical, which is why it doesn't say it.
In practise, by the way, within the Copper family, I would say transmission has been oral as far as I know. The songs are learned by singing. The books are used as an aide-memoire.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 Sep 07 - 08:55 AM

Mark you have not carefully read the 1954 definition. The songs in Brasser's song book were already folk songs when written down by Brasser, and the 1954 definition does not exclude them. Indeed, even if they were popular songs and taken over ready made by a community they would still become folk songs unless they remained unchanged. You have been beguiled by the undistributed middle of which I spoke.


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Subject: RE: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
From: MarkAustin
Date: 22 Sep 07 - 08:30 AM

Two points.

First, the 1954 definition seems to me perfectly reasonable except for what is, I feel, an over-emphasis on oral transmission. At its strictest this definition would exclude the Copper family: who had all there songs written down in a book, and thus not transmitted orally. Don't exactly know how i'd improved the definition: something like mediated or modified, by an oral process, making the point that it is not oral *transmission* that is important, but oral *interpretation*. Slightly off-topic, at a concertina beginners workshop I was helping with a few years ago, I got into a minor disagreement with the (classically trained) leader by stating that the notes, as written, were a guide and not a gospel. That's the sort of thing I mean.

Secondly, Captain Birseye said "[the] EFDSS remit then, as it is now,was the preservation, encouragement promotion of International Dance and English Song[please note English Song]not International song.". Actually it was the other way round. EFDSS was formed by a merger between the Folk Song Society - which always had an international remit - and the English Dance Society - which saw itself as preserving the dances of England.

Mark Austin


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