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Folk Music and Class

Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive) 21 Oct 07 - 06:54 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Oct 07 - 07:08 PM
mg 21 Oct 07 - 07:10 PM
GUEST,wordy 21 Oct 07 - 07:21 PM
Scorpio 21 Oct 07 - 07:58 PM
topical tom 21 Oct 07 - 09:41 PM
Folkiedave 22 Oct 07 - 02:31 AM
Richard Bridge 22 Oct 07 - 03:16 AM
Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive) 22 Oct 07 - 03:29 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 22 Oct 07 - 03:35 AM
Richard Bridge 22 Oct 07 - 04:22 AM
peregrina 22 Oct 07 - 08:21 AM
John MacKenzie 22 Oct 07 - 09:01 AM
Fidjit 22 Oct 07 - 09:33 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 22 Oct 07 - 09:33 AM
The Sandman 22 Oct 07 - 09:44 AM
Richard Bridge 22 Oct 07 - 09:47 AM
wysiwyg 22 Oct 07 - 10:28 AM
The Barden of England 22 Oct 07 - 10:42 AM
The Barden of England 22 Oct 07 - 10:42 AM
Folkiedave 22 Oct 07 - 11:13 AM
Wesley S 22 Oct 07 - 11:14 AM
The Villan 22 Oct 07 - 11:28 AM
Jeanie 22 Oct 07 - 11:47 AM
Folkiedave 22 Oct 07 - 11:55 AM
Wesley S 22 Oct 07 - 11:59 AM
Folkiedave 22 Oct 07 - 12:06 PM
The Villan 22 Oct 07 - 12:07 PM
Jeanie 22 Oct 07 - 12:10 PM
Folkiedave 22 Oct 07 - 12:12 PM
John MacKenzie 22 Oct 07 - 01:11 PM
GUEST,albert 22 Oct 07 - 01:31 PM
Mary Humphreys 22 Oct 07 - 01:33 PM
Emma B 22 Oct 07 - 01:35 PM
Big Al Whittle 22 Oct 07 - 01:50 PM
Stu 22 Oct 07 - 01:51 PM
John MacKenzie 22 Oct 07 - 02:18 PM
Wesley S 22 Oct 07 - 02:21 PM
John MacKenzie 22 Oct 07 - 02:22 PM
Wesley S 22 Oct 07 - 02:32 PM
Stu 22 Oct 07 - 02:47 PM
M.Ted 22 Oct 07 - 03:06 PM
Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive) 22 Oct 07 - 03:07 PM
Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive) 22 Oct 07 - 03:09 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 22 Oct 07 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 22 Oct 07 - 03:19 PM
Big Al Whittle 22 Oct 07 - 03:26 PM
GUEST,tom bliss 22 Oct 07 - 05:47 PM
Richard Bridge 22 Oct 07 - 06:08 PM
peregrina 22 Oct 07 - 06:13 PM
Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive) 22 Oct 07 - 06:53 PM
Severn 22 Oct 07 - 06:55 PM
Big Al Whittle 22 Oct 07 - 10:35 PM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 23 Oct 07 - 03:14 AM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 23 Oct 07 - 03:18 AM
theleveller 23 Oct 07 - 03:47 AM
Big Al Whittle 23 Oct 07 - 04:59 AM
The Sandman 23 Oct 07 - 07:54 AM
Big Al Whittle 23 Oct 07 - 10:43 AM
M.Ted 23 Oct 07 - 11:17 AM
GUEST,Colin Randall 23 Oct 07 - 11:28 AM
Stu 23 Oct 07 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,albert 23 Oct 07 - 12:55 PM
Jeanie 23 Oct 07 - 01:17 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 23 Oct 07 - 01:24 PM
RTim 23 Oct 07 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,dave 23 Oct 07 - 05:16 PM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 24 Oct 07 - 04:47 AM
Big Al Whittle 24 Oct 07 - 05:54 AM
theleveller 25 Oct 07 - 03:46 AM
Richard Bridge 25 Oct 07 - 10:57 AM
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Subject: Folk Music and Class
From: Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive)
Date: 21 Oct 07 - 06:54 PM

On another, now closed, thread, there were a number of posts that seemed to be suggesting that you really shouldn't be allowed to listen to, play or have an opinion about any aspect of folk music unless you could absolutely prove your working class credentials. Probably going back several generations. You know, what with folk music, rather than Dizzee Rascal, the Streets and 50 Cent, being the music of the people.

So my question is, does this mean as the manager of a community mental health team, I should make a big bonfire in my garden of all my folk CDs and faithfully promise never to besmirch its reputation again by attempting to do something as downright impudent as listening to it?

Because it seems that us middle class people (especially the Guardian reading, leftie, union member variety) are spoiling folk music for everyone else.

Can I be the first to say sorry?

Cheers,

Nigel.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Oct 07 - 07:08 PM

You can't go polluting the atmosphere with a bonfire like that, not if you're a Guardian reader etc!

(Sounds like a typical manager to me...)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: mg
Date: 21 Oct 07 - 07:10 PM

Well foolish is foolish so don't listen to them. Sing and play what you like,with respect for those who inspired it. mg


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: GUEST,wordy
Date: 21 Oct 07 - 07:21 PM

The whole folk revival for the whole of the 20th century was purely middle class. No working class collectors to my knowledge. The 60's revival was powered purely by the "educated" working class who became the middle class. Every folk club was awash with students.
The working class got on, and it's only those left behind, or those nostalgic for a lost world that never was, who are unhappy about it. However, roots are roots, so I'm still working class, but educated, and therefore researchers consider me middle class because of earnings and inferred status.
It's all bo****ks really!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Scorpio
Date: 21 Oct 07 - 07:58 PM

Dear Nigel -

I must have missed the thread you refer to. All it proves is that some people don't think very far. Folk music in its origins was the music of the people in the sense of 'ordinary' people, the hoi-poloi, the rank and file, the ones whose lives didn't matter much in history. They sangs about working on the railroad or being drafted into the army, yes, but there were also songs of outrage, injustice, poetry - things common to every class. Many songs today regarded as traditional had middle class authors. Nobles like Wallace, Bruce, and Bonnie Prince Charlie were immortalised in Scottish folk song. The educationally privileged have been responsible for most revolutions, anyway.

Folk music has never been that popular with the Powers-That-Be, just because of this taint of sedition. Finer classes of people listened to something else. Finer classes of people also tended to have a great deal of power over the less fortunate, who have, historically, had little opportunity to change the situation. The working class are one such group. African-Americans are another. Women another.

People, of whatever social class (God! Isn't this British?), who try to do something to improve the situation of others tend to be those who care about other humans in the first place, and are probably attracted to folk for the same reasons as me: folk is just about the only place the story of the ordinary person is remembered.

So keep listening, Nigel. We need all the help we can get.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: topical tom
Date: 21 Oct 07 - 09:41 PM

Beautifically said, Scorpio! What does it matter the socio-economic class of the folk music fan/performer if he or she espouses the folk principles of love, peace, freedom, and the betterment of man?
       A truly humanitarian man of fortune equals a working class humanitarian, no better, no worse.
       Forget about class and concentrate on the struggle for the ideals of the folk movement


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Folkiedave
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 02:31 AM

As for no working-class collectors in the 20th century to your knowledge - I have to tell you your knowledge is not complete. Try looking up Alfred Williams.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 03:16 AM

Wordy, you have not (it seems) read the studies about the stats on those who "rise" from working class to middle class. The vast preponderance were "sunken" middle class.

And on another tack, if anyone sees Tom Bliss, tell him to get a cookie so I can PM him as he and I were in mid-conversation about this when the censorship thread was closed.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive)
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 03:29 AM

I like it, McGrath of Harlow! So to backtrack, I'll COMPOST rather than burn those CDs...

Cheers

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 03:35 AM

Sorry, can't do cookies at the moment, but would be interested to read your reply here Richard. (im not 'tom' above btw)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 04:22 AM

Morning Tom

I think Joe will blow a fuse if I post the residue of that discussion on yet another thread (and he will or may then consign me to outer darkness with Mad Lizzie).

I have re-activated one of my disposable email addresses at Bhurmabum@shiftmail.com. If you email me there I should get it and I can email you, without either of us publicly posting an email address for the spammers to latch onto. Or, I think you are in touch with Barden, and you can send me a message with your email address via him and also get mine from him (sorry to put you as piggy in the middle John).


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class: Derek Walcott & Omeros
From: peregrina
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 08:21 AM

Derek Walcott won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his poem Omeros a few years back. Omeros is a retelling of the Iliad in a new context.

Some people said: why have you, a black man from the caribbean, written a version of the Iliad instead of 'your' stories.

Walcott in a TV interview (wish I could find where he published this) said:   the Odyssey and the Iliad don't just belong to the modern Greeks, nor do they belong to the European and other scholars who've done all these studies on Ancient Greek. They belong to everyone who reads them, studies them, even learns the language.

Everyone may not agree; and of course the analogy between the Iliad and its ancient/dead traditional transmission and the folk music of the last two centuries is inexact. But I think it's a nice point about how these things can be shared and stay alive that way....Can you make it your own? The Iliad can withstand all manner of retellings. Are the ballads and traditional songs any less robust?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 09:01 AM

Class as a label is outmoded, often derogatory, and usually Socialist, claptrap.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Fidjit
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 09:33 AM

Dear oh dear. Only Cd's Nigel?

Should have been Lp's and tapes. You're obviously to young to be considered in the census.

Chas


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 09:33 AM

Ok Richard. Will do, tho I'd prefer the debate to be in the open, here, just low key and amicable so we can all maybe learn something.

I was just posting on the 'speaking ill' thread to agree with you about Lizzie' rights when Joe closed it, so will post that thought here.


Joe? I think Lizzie should have right to reply - apart from the legal and moral aspect it's counterproductive from a moderation point of veiw to leave those kind of comments up. In other cases like this the complainant is allowed to refute anything defamatory but not allowed to add new comment. Any new comment is deleted/edited.

Could you at least do that?

Thanks

Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 09:44 AM

I did make a previous comment that I thought Ninety percent of the folkscene was Middle class,I did not mean this in any derogatory manner.
Class Structure is difficult to define,but certain professions are often regarded as middle class,likewise living in council rented property,is often used as away of defining, someone as not middle class,I realise this is only a start at defining class ,and now anticipate an attack from Folkie Dave.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 09:47 AM

I think I agree with you Tom on both those points, but if we do it by email then it is your choice whether to re-put up here, and that will not look like me going on (and on, and on, and on, if you remember the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah band) as Joe's blood pressure is probably getting a bit alarming right now - Lizzie can be very frustrating and hard to engage in a low-key rational way.... (NO, Lizzie, that is NOT libel, please believe me, I used to do libel clearances for several TV companies)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: wysiwyg
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 10:28 AM

I haven't been looking at whatever controversies y'all are referring to, but I was thinking about music in a related way last night and now this AM, here's a thread titled right in that line of thought!

What I was thinking was, folk music is music of the blue-collared that is collected and perpetuated in many cases by the white-collared. I was thinking that here at Mudcat we, who are mostly whiter-collared than bluer-collared, are at that place in our lives where we stand with the collectors AS WELL AS the originators, and that UK folk in particular is one of the world's folk musics that is very much in that middle place-- new and old music, both folk, so it's confusing around that class issue.

THEREFORE as I skim the above posts, I'm thinking (now) that it might be helpful not to worry so much about who or what is "right," because music transcends our narrow huiman ability to agree on what is right, or even to maintain it in one's own mind as a fixed quantity because human beans have the annoying tendency :~) to keep thinking and learning even whilst arguing, hammer and tongs, about who or what is "right."

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: The Barden of England
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 10:42 AM

Richard - You can give my blueyonder email address to Tom Bliss if you want or Tom you can contact me at jbarden@ then just add the blueyoder.
John Barden


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: The Barden of England
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 10:42 AM

And of course   .co.uk

John Barden


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Folkiedave
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 11:13 AM

Dick, people can define class in all sorts of ways and it would be nice to know which one you use. I have never suggested that the term "middle-class" is derogatory by the way.

If you believe that 90% of the folk scene is middle-class you are free to assert that - it is just people would take more notice of you if you had some sort of citation, a survey for example would be regarded as good evidence. If it is anecdotal evidence then say so. (It would have little value IMHO but that is your privilege).

Define class by income, by occupation, by education, by housing or by authority position are all ways that are used depending on circumstance. When it was done by occupation there were major problems since women were virtually excluded as was unpaid work in the home - for example. By income - I know plumbers (generally regarded as working class) that earned a lot more than I did as a lecturer (generally regarded as upper-middle). There are similar difficulties with all definitions.

We live in a complex society and most people who have studied the subject at any level find "class" a difficult subject.

I am not attacking you. I just asking how you know that 90% of the folk-scene is middle class. And to tell me that, you need a definition of class. And so far you have said it is difficult to define.

I couldn't agree more!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Wesley S
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 11:14 AM

In the UK - and other places as well - how is it determined that someone is working class vs middle class or even upper class? Is a specific dollar amount of earnings involved? Does one have to have their hands inspected for signs of work? Is there a test? Certifications that can be framed and mounted on the wall?

And why do you care?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: The Villan
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 11:28 AM

class is a load of bollocks. You are who you are and you can damn well like what you like, be it folk, opera, rock & roll, rap.
What the **** has it got to do with anybody else.

Anyway we all know that 99% of folkies are or were teachers at some point in their life. LOL :-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Jeanie
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 11:47 AM

Wesley S: I don't think you can differentiate between classes in the UK any more by looking at their earnings, occupation, education or housing. The big determining factor, I think, is the way that people speak, jest like wot that Enry Iggins fahnd...

....oh, and whether they have net curtains or not....Jilly Cooper, years ago, wrote a very funny piece about "the haves" and the "have nets" ;)

- jeanie


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Folkiedave
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 11:55 AM

Lecturer - do you mind. I am very class conscious about that.

err......were did Velux windows fit in?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Wesley S
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 11:59 AM

And I always figured that class was determined by the size of your guitar {proud owner of a Martin D-18}.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Folkiedave
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 12:06 PM

Two families in one car. A test of class.

Two men in front, two women in back, working class

Man with his own wife in front of car, man with his own wife in back of car - middle class.

Man in front of car with other man's wife, man in back of car with other man's wife, upper class.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: The Villan
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 12:07 PM

AS long as you wern't a letcher FolkieDave :-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Jeanie
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 12:10 PM

Velux windows, Dave ? Wooden frames: more likely to be middle class; UPVC frames: definitely working class !

Any occupation: depends on the accent. Received Pronunciation: Decidedly middle class. Slightly detectable regional accent: Reasonably acceptably middle class, but of the lower echelons. Strong regional accent: working class (no matter what the income or profession).

"I look down on him, because he doesn't speak properly."
"Ee finks I oughta be lookin up to im cos ee speeks proper."

Eeh bah gum...

- jeanie (I do hope you realize this is tongue in cheek and plum in mouth !)


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Folkiedave
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 12:12 PM

Moi? lecherous? The very thought. That was why I got into folk music - to avoid meeting members of the opposite sex.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 01:11 PM

Well of course if I used class as a label, I would say that the UK folk scene is Middle Class, and left wing.
The only working class people I ever met, told me they were! Funny how ALL of the people who have described themselves as working class, have held down middle class jobs, and led fairly affluent lifestyles.
I suppose it's only when you reach such a state of financial security, that you can boast about being working class?
G.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: GUEST,albert
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 01:31 PM

The marxist definition of class is useful to the above discussion.Marx basically argued that a person's class was determined by his/her relationship to the means of production.Some people are virulently dismissive of class as a concept but try getting into Eton or Fettes College without paying the huge fees and you will class conflict in action.
I am writing as a council house kid with a steelworker dad and a nurse as a mother ,educated in a sec mod but now a teacher.
The premise of many seems to be that if you are working class you must be a cultureless clod but surely the great songs collected by Cecil Sharpe came from the rural working class in the main and a load of others came from the industrial working class.Also much of the driving force in popular music has come from the most disenfranchised members of the working class and I am thinking of the blues,gypsy music and rocknroll.
albert


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Mary Humphreys
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 01:33 PM

I was told in sociology lectures during my PGCE course ( yes - I did teach ) that the crucial defining factor of the Middle Classes was deferred gratification.
So never mind the low fees now, think of the brilliant well-paid future you will have when you have practised/gigged for years and years .......


with tongue firmly in cheek,
Mary H


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Emma B
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 01:35 PM

By education and occupation I suppose I would be considered and would probably define myself as "middle class" although born and raised in a "working class" family where singing around an old piano on high days and holidays was very much part of our culture.

I regard myself as "left-wing" too as it was the policy of equal opportunities in education that enabled me to make that transition.

It has been my personal experience to find that music and talent has little to do with the "class structure" however we define (or refuse) to define it!
True those who have 9-5 physically undemanding jobs may have more time and energy to relax and enjoy whatever music they prefer most.

btw - are the other 1% Social Workers Les? :)

That's the best definition I've heard yet Folkiedave! LOL!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 01:50 PM

So many people keep saying class is all bollocks.

Bloody incredible, in a country where we still have a monarchy, an aristocracy, a meritocracy (people who feel they have sufficient merit to be considered superior), and a 'folk' music which alienates most of the population.

I only know that the when I first started out in folk music, I wasn't a comedian. So the pressure was on to conform - the vocal styling of Carthy, Waterson etc, modal guitar tunings, songs with with 'fa la la' choruses. (In the 1950's, in some places men who wore wrist watches and sat with their legs crossed were still considered effeminate). All of which would have seemed like an act of class betrayal to me - my own family didn't belong to that tradition - it wasn't what was handed down to me.

Similarly when I took my parents to see Gary and Vera Aspey (an act that was to me very entertaing), they were really shocked and offended at the apparent portrayal of working class northern men as chauvinist insensitive loudmouths. It was like I'd taken Martin Luther King to the Black and White Minstrel Show.

I could cite a few dozen other instances. Let's just leave that its all bollocks to you, but to some people the class system in this country, is a hurtful reality. Look at the Jeremy Kyle Show sometime - see middle class people getting a real buzz out of the antics of the lumpenproletariat.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Stu
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 01:51 PM

"Class as a label is outmoded, often derogatory, and usually Socialist, claptrap."

Spoken like a true member of the modern bourgeois society.

I think if Marx were alive today he'd be rethinking his definitions of the bourgeoisie and proletariat. You can still basically divide it along the lines of the owners and makers, but with the decline of manufacturing and the rise of service industries these lines need to be redrawn.

I've been giving some though about this and here's my take so far:

Bourgeois class: All owners of business with employees, middle managers upwards, land-owning (rather than tennant) farmers (these days).

Proletariat: Sole traders, manufacturing workers etc, service industry employees and tennant farmers.

Of course there is now a super-rich class that trancend these and are included in the ruling classes.

Obviously there is more to it than this, but my tea's ready and I'm famished.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 02:18 PM

Illegitimate child, brought up in a one parent family, by a mother who was a cook.
Yes Stigweard, your powers of deduction are truly amazing.
Care to guess how much my state pension is?
GF.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Wesley S
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 02:21 PM

What about the concept that there are only two classes? Green and not-green. You have it or you don't.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 02:22 PM

We hold this right to be self evident, that all men are created equal, etc etc.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Wesley S
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 02:32 PM

Easier said than done.......


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Stu
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 02:47 PM

Back from my middle-class tea.

"Yes Stigweard, your powers of deduction are truly amazing."

It was only a joke - sorry, didn't mean to offend. Bet your state pension is more than mine will be when I retire though (if I ever can afford to).

Class is a wonderful subject - everyone has an opinion because as WLD states it's still very much with us. I love it when people try to shove their working-class credentials up your nose, that wonderful inverted snobbery George Bernard Shaw parodied so well in Pygmalion. Like toff's slumming it, it's all a load of cobblers.

As Marx and Engels said "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles".


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: M.Ted
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 03:06 PM

It's far from clear that "folk music" and "folk songs" were created by "the proletariat"--more unlikely, in fact, because creating music and writing verse imply a degree of education that has tended to be more common in the middle class.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive)
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 03:07 PM

All of which is very interesting but a bit of a thread drift, no? My OP wasn't so much about trying to spark a debate about 'what is class?' or 'who's best, the middle class or the working class?' but a slightly tongue in cheek attempt to raise the issue about where class comes into folk music now it's ceased to be 'the music of the people' and become 'the music of the people who like folk music'.

My contention in the OP was that the real 'music of the people' - at least in the western, English speaking world - is probably rap (with stadium rock for the older generation). If it then follows that folk music is no longer 'the music of the people' - and some would say it hasn't been since the start of the twentieth century - does it matter if the audience, like the audience in the UK for jazz, classical, exporatory, world, avant garde and some rock music, is predominantly middle class? At least someone's keeping it alive.

I think it was a post of the WLD on another thread that got me thinking about this - something about traditional music and middle class elitism. I was (still am!) a longtime listener to loud guitars played by loud young men (the first band I ever went to see was the Clash - fronted by the very middle class but wonderful Joe Strummer) and I only started listening to folk and traditional music seriously in the past three or so years. So with no history of being part of the past forty years of folk wars, I do find it odd that any music can be described in this way. Surely it's there for anyone who wants it? How does some middle class people liking it make it elitist or take it away from anyone else who wants it?

Any answers?

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive)
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 03:09 PM

Ooops - 'thread drift' comment not aimed at your post, M. Ted.

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 03:10 PM

So, it seems that the majority view here is that most folkies today are middle class, either by birth or by occupation, yes?

If so, why are some folk artists dismissed and/or attacked because they is middle class innit?

Or is the problem more that they are professional(s)?

Is it the same problem, or two different ones, to two different groups of critics?

Confused of Alderney


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 03:19 PM

The Rolling Stones got very, very rich performing Rhythm & Blues - Black American music. Should the Rolling Stones have been Black and American?

I, on the other hand, am the son of an English Sheet-metal worker who has spent his life working in laboratories. I enjoy singing English traditional songs - but have never made a penny from doing so. Does my background exclude me from singing such songs?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 03:26 PM

This is the society we're stuck with. You have to do what feels comfortable for you.

For some of us, the only comfortable thing is to try and change it for what we see as the better.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: GUEST,tom bliss
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 05:47 PM

And how would you seek to change the folk world, Al?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 06:08 PM

There is still some "old money" and some long-term inherited landholdings and titles. These define the upper class, who are not to be judged by speech habits or manners.

Then there are those who bought all their own furniture, as the Tory grandees used dismissively to say of Micheal Heseltine. But those can still be part of the ruling class, as, it seems, can some who would roundly fail other normal criteria from above of class, to judge by some MPs.

Class is otherwise largely about speech habits, table manners (NB, only the upper classes may throw bread rolls), the residual parts of U and non-U, and not being naff, these days.

"Posh" Spice will never be upper middle class because she is naff, and does it very well, but NAFF. Likewise Mr Beckham. And all the other premiership footballers, who have raised unacceptable ostentation to an artform.

Courtiers used (probably rightly) to say that Sarah Ferguson was "Vulgar, vulgar, vulgar", and not many can still tell the difference.

Tony Benn probably does have class, and is not vulgar.

Tony B Liar is vulgar.

The (original) Rolling Stones were good lower middle class grammar schoolboys.


Buggered if I know what it has to do with the "right" to listen to or to sing folk music.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: peregrina
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 06:13 PM

I'm committing the newly invented mudcat sin of repeating my post from above (see below--flame away or just ignore).
The discussion is going round and round definitions of class, confessions of class identity, of folk legitimacy, of who owns the music--   I'm repeating to ask:   does class have to be relevant to traditional and folk music? Or does the music have a life and relevance of its own that stretches beyond the class of a particular performer? I like to think that the long transmission of the most powerful songs attests to they way they express something that goes beyond one person at a single moment.

The repeat:
Derek Walcott won the Nobel Prize for Literature for his poem Omeros (a retelling of the Iliad) a few years back.
Some people said: why have you, a black man from the caribbean, written a version of the Iliad instead of 'your' stories.

Walcott in a TV interview (wish I could find where he published this) said:   the Odyssey and the Iliad don't just belong to the modern Greeks, nor do they belong to the European and other scholars who've done all these studies on Ancient Greek. They belong to everyone who reads them, studies them, even learns the language.

And that reminds me of the North American versions of some of the old ballads where someone, say, rides along with all his lawyers instead of his men at arms, even while the emotional core of the story remains the same.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive)
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 06:53 PM

Peregrina - my personal opinion is that "the music has a life and relevance of its own that stretches beyond the class of a particular performer" or (hopefully) the era it's being performed in, the instruments that are in vogue during that era, the length of the performers' hair and a load of other factors. Talking about traditional music, here, obviously. The songs - or the best of them - are strong enough to stand up to a pretty comprehensive mauling. I think we should long continue to maul them.

Though as a non-musician, I'll have to content myself with standing on the sidelines whilst others do the mauling.

Cheers

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Severn
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 06:55 PM

If closeness to the "common element", is so damned important, than the folk community should stop associating themselves with the image of a dove and adopt that of a pigeon for this day and time. What is a dove, anyway, but an elitist pigeon. I realize there were not that many songs back in Sharp's time about pigeons, but, maybe a lonesome turtle pigeon would make a suitable compromise for the current age. Or maybe:

O, the starling in the morning,
she rises from her.....

Kind of like that.

Then us Folkies could have it both ways, identifying with both the common AND the abundant, and be at one with an image befitting today's poor immigrants and transports and lonesome travellers.

Of course, we need more than Tom Lehrer and "The King Of Rome" to work with, but there's plenty of songwriting talent out there and a chance at immortality. And if you're good, in the end they might reward you with an outdoor statue in order for you to stay as one with the "common element" for life.

Hey, a working class hero ain't easy to be.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Oct 07 - 10:35 PM

To change things I think you just have to as sincere to your own vision as you can.

You may not change things, but you will meet people and influence them and maybe if your talent and charisma isn't strong enough to make the difference - perhaps they will, or maybe their children will. the changes you wrought, may not be the ones you expected.

That, I think is the folk process. Completely random, monstrously unfair, totally unaccountable and unfathomable.

As I reach the end of my career as a writer and artist, I can see I haven't pulled up any trees. The only thing I have done of any account is to pass on my guitar style in the few years when I was teaching it - some people are a damn sight better at it than I was! In retrospect, I can see I was a much better teacher than I was a performer.

At the time I never reckoned myself as a teacher - I couldn't read music worth a damn - certainly not a sight reader. I guess it was the mad gleam of dedication in my eyes that convinced my students they'd better practice!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 03:14 AM

When I came into folk music it was pretty well exclusively a working class pastime, certainly in Liverpool and Manchester. I was introduced to it along with a friend who was a storeman working in 'Paddy's Market' when it was on Scotland Road, (Scousers will remember were that was).
Throughout the sixties there was an influx of students, but they were virtually all from working class backgrounds (the ones I met anyway).
The Singers Club used to pride itself on the predominance of working class regulars and its residents were more-or-less the same (with the exception of Peggy, who was the only card-carrying member of the middle-class and would often remind us of the fact).
I really don't know what has happened to change that situation - if it has changed.
Here in Ireland class is not an issue as it is in the UK, particularly in the rural areas. While it is true that people are becoming wealthier here, thanks to the Celtic Tiger, you would be hard-pushed to sort out the rich from the poor, certainly not by their accents.
It seems to me that it is the question of accent that gives rise to problems in the singing of folk-songs - it is very hard not to sound like Peter Pears and project the 'drawing room' image while singing 'with a plum in your mouth'.
When it comes down to it, we're virtually all outsiders to the society which produced and perpetuated the songs and ballads.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 03:18 AM

PS,
Meant to include Walter Pardon's early ideas of what a folk club was in the above; he told us:
"I had a vague idea they had folk clubs of some description, all these doctors, solicitors etcetera would go and sing in someone's big house. I never realised you see, working people done that, never knew a single thing about it."
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: theleveller
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 03:47 AM

Wesley S said

"And I always figured that class was determined by the size of your guitar {proud owner of a Martin D-18}."

Well, ya boo sucks to you, 'cos I've got a Lowden 010 so I'm obviously far superior to wot you are. Na na na nah na. No more buttered scones for me mama, I'm orf to play the grarnd piarno!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 04:59 AM

Jim
An Irish friend of mine told me, of course we have a class system - it's just, we're a lot more subtle and sly than the English. Its sort of game - in a roundabout way, you get asked which people you know in your area, and which places you've been. From this they can work out if you know anyone who's worth knowing, and from that if you're worth knowing!

So try not to give your humble origins away.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 07:54 AM

well ,we seem to be a bit short on aristocrats,anyone here with blue blood.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 10:43 AM

One of my cousins was mistaken for Lord Lucan.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: M.Ted
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 11:17 AM

A the risk of causing the thread to drift back to the original topic, I will point out that any given folk song isn't really a song of "the people", it is a song of "some people", and from "some place" and "some time"--often associated with "some task". These people, places, times and tasks tend not to be our own, no matter how pristine our "working class" credentials--


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: GUEST,Colin Randall
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 11:28 AM

My father was the secretary of a workingmen's club. It was a post decided by vote of the membership but I suppose you could argue that the responsibility conferred on him somehow confirmed him as middle class.
I don't think my dad ever forgave me for persuading him to put Johnny Handle on one Sunday.
The event drew a good sized crowd, but virtually none of them listened to a word, song or tune of the great man throughout his first half. Then we realised why they were there even though they had no interest in the music; the concert hall fell silent for the bingo and once it was over everyone disappeared downstairs, leaving Johnny to play out his second set to a handful of people - those there with me. North-eastern working class men wanted nothing to do with one of their own singing and telling very funny stories about their lives, traditions and struggles.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Stu
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 11:39 AM

Up against the wall with the lot of 'em. 1000 years under the Norman Yoke is 1000 years too long.

If the Prince of Wales started singing 'The Poacher's Fate', would it ring true? Could he sing that somg and truly empathise with the working men who are starving and poach from the landed gentry?

If the answer's aye, then class doesn't matter in folk music, if the answer's 'nay' then it does.

I'm for the nays.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: GUEST,albert
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 12:55 PM

And yet folk songs in all their rich and varied forms can have an impact on many people...think of the Irish rugby crowds singing The Fields of Athernry [have i got that title right? ] or the Scottish rugby crowd singing Flower of Scotland as the scottish team walked out onto the pitch at Murrayfield in 1990.Two folk songs and two which have become the peoples national anthem....here in Wales we have ended up with Delilah which only goes to show that life is full of contradictions !
albert


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Jeanie
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 01:17 PM

That's an interesting question, Stigweard: can someone empathize when singing about a person or people from a different class than their own ? (Incidentally, also, quite frequently from a different historical period) ?

I think that depends on how good a performer they are. A good performer (whether acting, singing, dancing etc.) will study the background, absorb and take on the characteristics/emotions of the person or situation they are portraying, whose "voice" they are speaking/singing. A less good performer (in fact, I would not call them a performer) just stands up, opens their mouth and sings the words. There's a big difference, and it's one which every audience recognizes when it's there, but maybe can't quite put their finger on how the magic is happening.

- jeanie


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 01:24 PM

Nigel. Simple question. - Are you a "person", however that label is defined in YOUR own mind. If you are, you can listen, sing, otherwise make fun of any of these "FOLK" songs! They are OF the people, kept BY the people, and are FOR the people!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: RTim
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 03:52 PM

I left school at 15 years old and was a Sheetmetalworker/welder when I started singing folk music, and only because I married a teacher did I move up to work in an office and then into Computing, (more by accident than design).
But I still (although now retired) think of myself as very Working Class - as was my father, his father and his father and so on - going back to 1798!

Tim Radford
www.timradford.com


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: GUEST,dave
Date: 23 Oct 07 - 05:16 PM

I look forward to the next time i hear a bunch of chavs outside the corner shop comparing versions of John Barleycorn


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Oct 07 - 04:47 AM

WLD
Waddya mean 'humble'
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Oct 07 - 05:54 AM

well you scousers are hardly top drawer......I'd keep quiet about it if I were you.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: theleveller
Date: 25 Oct 07 - 03:46 AM

In the village where I live we have the remains of the only castle in the East Riding of Yorkshire, built by Lord Percy AKA Harry Hotspur. Legend has it that he made all the men of the village accompany him to fight at the Battle of Otterburn (or Chevy Chase as it is sometimes known) and that the only one who wasn't killed was Hotspur hiumself. I wrote a song about this and delight in singing it in the presence of the current owner of the castle and surrounding lands as it ends with the lines: "And if the knight should come again, when our sons have grown to men, we'll cut him down without a sound and burn his castle to the ground." The reaction was most interesting - thankfully the only custom that still remian from those days is the occasional burniong of a witch (we don't duck them first now, though, it makes them so hard to light).


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and Class
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Oct 07 - 10:57 AM

Interesting discussion of "Taste" on teh Melvyn Bragg prog "In our Time" on whatever 93.5 FM is (I think it's R4 but it might be R3).

I think "Taste" does come into class and has done at least since aristocrats spoke ill of every "cit" for their vulgarity. We all laugh at Hyacinth Bucket don't we?


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