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Folk vs Folk

GUEST,The Observer 13 May 08 - 08:26 AM
wordfella 13 May 08 - 08:33 AM
mattkeen 13 May 08 - 08:34 AM
TheSnail 13 May 08 - 08:34 AM
Jack Blandiver 13 May 08 - 09:50 AM
Peace 13 May 08 - 09:56 AM
Banjiman 13 May 08 - 09:59 AM
Richard Bridge 13 May 08 - 10:02 AM
Dave Hanson 13 May 08 - 10:03 AM
Peace 13 May 08 - 10:09 AM
Paul Burke 13 May 08 - 10:09 AM
Bryn Pugh 13 May 08 - 10:11 AM
Dave Hanson 13 May 08 - 10:15 AM
beardedbruce 13 May 08 - 10:16 AM
GUEST 13 May 08 - 10:21 AM
frogprince 13 May 08 - 10:24 AM
GUEST,Gripper 13 May 08 - 10:42 AM
glueman 13 May 08 - 10:49 AM
Peace 13 May 08 - 11:12 AM
Jack Blandiver 13 May 08 - 11:17 AM
Peace 13 May 08 - 11:28 AM
DonMeixner 13 May 08 - 01:30 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 13 May 08 - 01:51 PM
Peace 13 May 08 - 01:57 PM
Don Firth 13 May 08 - 02:32 PM
Melissa 13 May 08 - 04:42 PM
Art Thieme 13 May 08 - 04:57 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 13 May 08 - 05:02 PM
Jeri 13 May 08 - 05:20 PM
Peace 13 May 08 - 05:33 PM
Skivee 13 May 08 - 05:37 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 13 May 08 - 05:40 PM
glueman 13 May 08 - 05:54 PM
Herga Kitty 13 May 08 - 05:59 PM
Art Thieme 13 May 08 - 06:04 PM
beardedbruce 13 May 08 - 06:05 PM
glueman 13 May 08 - 06:07 PM
Peace 13 May 08 - 06:23 PM
Herga Kitty 13 May 08 - 06:29 PM
glueman 13 May 08 - 06:33 PM
Jeri 13 May 08 - 06:34 PM
Tootler 13 May 08 - 07:02 PM
Joe_F 13 May 08 - 08:50 PM
Jim Carroll 14 May 08 - 03:36 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 08 - 04:30 AM
GUEST,freda people 14 May 08 - 04:42 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 08 - 07:52 AM
WalkaboutsVerse 14 May 08 - 08:25 AM
mattkeen 14 May 08 - 08:31 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 08 - 08:51 AM
Jassplayer 14 May 08 - 08:54 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 08 - 08:58 AM
Jassplayer 14 May 08 - 08:59 AM
WalkaboutsVerse 14 May 08 - 09:06 AM
Folknacious 14 May 08 - 09:48 AM
M.Ted 14 May 08 - 10:12 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 14 May 08 - 12:04 PM
maire-aine 14 May 08 - 12:12 PM
Jack Blandiver 28 May 08 - 09:20 AM
Santa 28 May 08 - 12:24 PM
Jack Blandiver 28 May 08 - 01:59 PM
GUEST 28 May 08 - 05:14 PM
Jack Blandiver 28 May 08 - 06:09 PM
Santa 29 May 08 - 07:54 AM
Jack Blandiver 29 May 08 - 08:18 AM
glueman 29 May 08 - 08:31 AM
Santa 29 May 08 - 11:46 AM
Jack Blandiver 29 May 08 - 11:55 AM
glueman 29 May 08 - 03:27 PM
Jack Blandiver 30 May 08 - 06:53 AM
glueman 30 May 08 - 07:44 AM
Jack Blandiver 30 May 08 - 08:23 AM
Marc Bernier 30 May 08 - 09:08 AM
glueman 30 May 08 - 09:23 AM
Deckman 30 May 08 - 09:29 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 30 May 08 - 06:42 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 30 May 08 - 06:53 PM
Stringsinger 30 May 08 - 07:16 PM
Stringsinger 30 May 08 - 07:20 PM
Marc Bernier 30 May 08 - 09:10 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 31 May 08 - 12:59 AM
Jim Carroll 31 May 08 - 06:29 AM
Jim Carroll 31 May 08 - 06:30 AM
Marc Bernier 31 May 08 - 07:11 AM
GUEST,aeola2 31 May 08 - 02:04 PM
Jim Carroll 31 May 08 - 02:33 PM
glueman 31 May 08 - 02:41 PM
Def Shepard 31 May 08 - 02:48 PM
Jim Carroll 31 May 08 - 03:45 PM
Don Firth 31 May 08 - 03:50 PM
Def Shepard 31 May 08 - 04:01 PM
glueman 31 May 08 - 04:20 PM
GUEST,wigwambam 31 May 08 - 04:42 PM
Def Shepard 31 May 08 - 04:54 PM
glueman 31 May 08 - 04:58 PM
Jim Carroll 01 Jun 08 - 01:35 PM
George Papavgeris 01 Jun 08 - 02:04 PM
GUEST,wigwambam 01 Jun 08 - 02:11 PM
Jim Carroll 01 Jun 08 - 02:33 PM
Gene Burton 01 Jun 08 - 02:37 PM
glueman 01 Jun 08 - 02:56 PM
Jim Carroll 01 Jun 08 - 02:57 PM
Jim Carroll 01 Jun 08 - 03:30 PM
glueman 01 Jun 08 - 03:41 PM
Marc Bernier 01 Jun 08 - 04:39 PM
Jim Carroll 01 Jun 08 - 04:40 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 01 Jun 08 - 05:28 PM
TheSnail 01 Jun 08 - 06:07 PM
Jim Carroll 02 Jun 08 - 03:29 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 02 Jun 08 - 03:58 AM
GUEST,TB 02 Jun 08 - 04:08 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Jun 08 - 04:21 AM
glueman 02 Jun 08 - 04:38 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 02 Jun 08 - 04:39 AM
Jim Carroll 02 Jun 08 - 05:15 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 02 Jun 08 - 05:48 AM
GUEST 02 Jun 08 - 07:43 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 02 Jun 08 - 08:28 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Jun 08 - 04:10 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 03 Jun 08 - 05:23 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 03 Jun 08 - 05:32 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Jun 08 - 05:44 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Jun 08 - 05:58 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 03 Jun 08 - 06:02 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Jun 08 - 06:42 AM
GUEST,Black Hawk on works PC 03 Jun 08 - 07:00 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Jun 08 - 12:27 PM
Def Shepard 03 Jun 08 - 02:11 PM
The Sandman 03 Jun 08 - 02:29 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Jun 08 - 02:54 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 04 Jun 08 - 05:09 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Jun 08 - 05:47 AM
Sue Allan 04 Jun 08 - 08:36 AM
TheSnail 04 Jun 08 - 09:33 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 04 Jun 08 - 12:41 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Jun 08 - 05:08 PM
Howard Jones 04 Jun 08 - 06:03 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Jun 08 - 06:03 PM
Def Shepard 04 Jun 08 - 06:07 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jun 08 - 02:51 AM
GUEST,Black Hawk on works PC 05 Jun 08 - 03:28 AM
George Papavgeris 05 Jun 08 - 05:01 AM
GUEST,Ewan Spawned a Monster 05 Jun 08 - 05:32 AM
TheSnail 05 Jun 08 - 05:43 AM
Steve Gardham 05 Jun 08 - 01:59 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jun 08 - 04:26 PM
Phil Edwards 05 Jun 08 - 04:51 PM
GUEST,Ewan Spawned a Monster 05 Jun 08 - 05:00 PM
Howard Jones 05 Jun 08 - 05:16 PM
George Papavgeris 05 Jun 08 - 05:18 PM
Folkiedave 05 Jun 08 - 06:12 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jun 08 - 06:26 PM
George Papavgeris 05 Jun 08 - 06:39 PM
GUEST,Tpm Bliss 05 Jun 08 - 06:42 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Jun 08 - 06:48 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Jun 08 - 03:05 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 06 Jun 08 - 03:49 AM
George Papavgeris 06 Jun 08 - 04:04 AM
Phil Edwards 06 Jun 08 - 04:07 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 06 Jun 08 - 05:04 AM
TheSnail 06 Jun 08 - 08:02 AM
Steve Gardham 06 Jun 08 - 03:27 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jun 08 - 03:33 AM
mark gregory 07 Jun 08 - 05:34 AM
The Sandman 07 Jun 08 - 06:15 PM
trevek 08 Jun 08 - 01:59 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Jun 08 - 05:37 PM
The Sandman 08 Jun 08 - 07:04 PM
Jim Carroll 09 Jun 08 - 03:23 AM
The Sandman 09 Jun 08 - 04:17 AM
Phil Edwards 09 Jun 08 - 05:31 AM
The Sandman 09 Jun 08 - 08:52 AM
GUEST,ESAM 09 Jun 08 - 09:21 AM
Steve Gardham 09 Jun 08 - 10:01 AM
Stringsinger 09 Jun 08 - 05:42 PM
TheSnail 10 Jun 08 - 07:37 PM
Phil Edwards 11 Jun 08 - 02:56 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 11 Jun 08 - 04:04 AM
Phil Edwards 11 Jun 08 - 05:07 AM
GUEST,TREV 11 Jun 08 - 08:09 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 11 Jun 08 - 09:32 AM
GUEST,Black Hawk on works PC 11 Jun 08 - 09:39 AM
Steve Gardham 11 Jun 08 - 01:58 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 11 Jun 08 - 02:07 PM
trevek 11 Jun 08 - 04:21 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 11 Jun 08 - 05:22 PM
The Sandman 11 Jun 08 - 07:13 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 12 Jun 08 - 03:03 AM
glueman 12 Jun 08 - 03:55 AM
glueman 12 Jun 08 - 03:59 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 12 Jun 08 - 04:12 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 12 Jun 08 - 04:28 AM
glueman 12 Jun 08 - 05:21 AM
glueman 12 Jun 08 - 05:49 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Jun 08 - 12:41 PM
The Sandman 12 Jun 08 - 01:13 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Jun 08 - 03:03 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Jun 08 - 04:15 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 12 Jun 08 - 04:45 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Jun 08 - 05:21 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Jun 08 - 05:22 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Jun 08 - 06:45 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 12 Jun 08 - 06:50 PM
Amos 12 Jun 08 - 07:52 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Jun 08 - 01:51 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Jun 08 - 02:15 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 13 Jun 08 - 03:58 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Jun 08 - 05:51 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 13 Jun 08 - 06:35 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 13 Jun 08 - 07:35 AM
GUEST 13 Jun 08 - 08:31 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 13 Jun 08 - 09:01 AM
TheSnail 13 Jun 08 - 10:37 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Jun 08 - 12:16 PM
TheSnail 13 Jun 08 - 12:18 PM
Steve Gardham 13 Jun 08 - 02:42 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Jun 08 - 03:18 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Jun 08 - 04:23 AM
Phil Edwards 15 Jun 08 - 05:12 AM
Steve Gardham 15 Jun 08 - 05:48 PM
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Subject: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,The Observer
Date: 13 May 08 - 08:26 AM

To what extent, if any, is Folk Music the music of an actual Folk other than folkie Folk, whose actuality is compromised by their adoption of objectivist methodology entirely at odds with the subjectivist criteria of actual Folk, thusly perceived?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: wordfella
Date: 13 May 08 - 08:33 AM

The extent is mitigated in large part by the ineluctable modality of the observer's preconceptions. It's obvious, isn't it?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: mattkeen
Date: 13 May 08 - 08:34 AM

This is very funny


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 May 08 - 08:34 AM

You know something? That's almost a sensible question.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 May 08 - 09:50 AM

I'm actually losing sleep over this - or is it too much Asda Cuban Havana?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Peace
Date: 13 May 08 - 09:56 AM

I thought this would be an appropriate song to hum while reading the thread. Observer, from the heart, you are great. Love your humour and approach. It's time for a character like you. You've weathered the abuse and come out smiling. Makes my day. Thank you.

ARTIST: Brewer and Shipley
TITLE: One Toke Over the Line

{Refrain}
One toke over the line, sweet Jesus, one toke over the line
Sittin' downtown in a railway station, one toke over the line
Waitin' for the train that goes home, sweet Mary
Hoping that the train is on time
Sittin' downtown in a railway station, one toke over the line

Who do you love, I hope it's me
I've been changing, as you can plainly see
I felt the joy and I learned about the pain that my mama said
If I should choose to make it part of me
Would surely strike me dead, and now I'm

{Refrain}

I sail away, a country mile
And now I'm returning, and showing off my smile
I met all the girls and I loved myself a few, and to my surprise
Like everything else that I've been through
They opened up my eyes, and now I'm

{Refrain}


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Banjiman
Date: 13 May 08 - 09:59 AM

How dare you suggest this I'm outraged!

How could you suggest that there is a difference between folkie folk and actual folk even if subjectively perceived......where is this covered in the 1954 definition?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 May 08 - 10:02 AM

That is the point: the question is meaningless if one bothers to understand "what is folk". It could be more meaningful if addressed to Lloyd's concept of "industrial folk" and compared to "post-industrial folk" (whatever that is, over to you WLD!)


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 13 May 08 - 10:03 AM

guest The Observer, does it even exist if it is not observed ?

eric


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Peace
Date: 13 May 08 - 10:09 AM

You folks gotta loosen up. I have discovered the real definition of 'folk', and so announced on another 'Observer' thread. Did anyone ask, inquire? Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Bah, humbug.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Paul Burke
Date: 13 May 08 - 10:09 AM

I think we should paraphrase the question to make it clearer:

How much of it, folk music, folk music, folk music actually - people who are actually a threat or methods - objectivist totally against its own standards, the actual folk, and this?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 13 May 08 - 10:11 AM

Surely the paradigmatic contradistinction between folk actually and folkie folk is the result of the objective methodolgy employed ?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 13 May 08 - 10:15 AM

Jasus Bryn I'm well impressed with that, whatever it means.

eric


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: beardedbruce
Date: 13 May 08 - 10:16 AM

THE FOLK SONG ARMY
(Tom Lehrer)

We are the Folk Song Army,
Ev'ryone of us cares.
We all hate poverty, war, and injustice,
Unlike the rest of you squares.

There are innocuous folk songs,
But we regard them with scorn.
The folks who sing 'em have no social conscience
Why, they don't even care if Jimmy Crack Corn.

If you feel dissatisfaction,
Strum your frustrations away,
Some people may prefer action,
But give me a folk song any old day.

The tune don't have to be clever,
And it don't matter if you put a coupla extra syllables into a line.
It sounds more ethnic if it ain't good English,
And it don't ever gotta rhyme---excuse me---rhyne.

Remember the war against Franco?
That's the kind where each of us belongs.
Though he may have won all the battles,
We had all the good songs.

So join in the Folk Song Army,
Guitars are the weapons we bring
To the fight against poverty, war, and injustice.
Ready! Aim! Sing!

Copyright Tom Lehrer


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 13 May 08 - 10:21 AM

The question is really unanswerable; pragmatically speaking, there is simply too much fluctuation in the dynamic parameters of the situational transitions involved to permit stabilized analytical conclusions.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: frogprince
Date: 13 May 08 - 10:24 AM

Ooops; that last one was me.   Dean


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Gripper
Date: 13 May 08 - 10:42 AM

Okay I take the bait albeit under a pseud.
Whilst like anything that attaches itself to the word 'folk' it is almost impossible to define BUT it is possible to make a few generalisations. The real folk are out there singing football chants, bawdy songs, children's rhymes, Beatles and other past popsongs, while the rest of us 'folkies' are enamoured with the pop songs of say 1750-1850 as remembered largely by the real folk of c1890-1920 from their youth. If we really wanted to emulate them we should be doing what my mate Roy Acko largely does in singing the pop songs of his youth. I often make this point by singing in folk clubs 'Gilly Gilly Hosanpeffer whatever' which I remember from my youth.
However some of us simply love the stuff that was popular among the folk c1890-1920, and what's more we're perfectly entitled to, whatever we might call it!


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 08 - 10:49 AM

There is no independent phenomenon known as Folk, therefore it is a human construct with all the vying possibilities that implies. The brass signs with pretty copperplate writing usually front the phoniest businesses.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Peace
Date: 13 May 08 - 11:12 AM

OK. Piss on the lot of you, then. The real definition of folk music which will come to supercede the now out-dated 1954 thing is this:

"If you can name the author/composer of the song, it ain't folk."


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 May 08 - 11:17 AM

Bang goes the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs then, Peace!


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Peace
Date: 13 May 08 - 11:28 AM

Tough times call for tough decisions.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: DonMeixner
Date: 13 May 08 - 01:30 PM

Eluctable?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 13 May 08 - 01:51 PM

too much cappuccino, either that or I'm thoroughly bored to death.

Me thinks this so-called observer is too chicken to reveal him/herself, though I have a couple of ideas. Say goodnight Dick!

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Peace
Date: 13 May 08 - 01:57 PM

"Eluctable?"

Ding dang, Don. I had to go look that up only to find out I can't because it ain't.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 May 08 - 02:32 PM

Where's Billy Goat Gruff when you need him?

Okay, I'd like to try to get serious for a moment.

Why bother, Firth?
Well, it's kind of a slow day here at the skunk works.
Well, okay then, if you really feel you have to.


Let me see if I can cut through the crap here:

Wilhelm Gottfried von Herder, as far as anyone knows, was the first man to use the word(s) "folk song" (volkslied). By the word "volk" (folk), von Herder was referring to "the rural peasant class."

I think there are a lot of folks people here on Mudcat who are in the same boat I'm in. I did not come from a rural background. I was born in a city and have lived in cities all my life. My father was a professional man. I am not a member of "the rural peasant class." I grew up in a thoroughly middle-class family.

When at university in the early 1950s, I became interested in "folk music." The songs sung and recorded by such singers as Burl Ives, Susan Reed, Richard Dyer-Bennet, and Cynthia Gooding. Later, Pete Seeger, Jean Ritchie, Leadbelly, Cisco Houston, and a large variety of other such singers. I learned songs from their records and from song collections like those of the Lomaxes, Carl Sandburg, Cecil Sharp, and many others. After gaining a bit of skill both as a singer and as a guitarist, and with a fairly large repertoire of songs, people started hiring me and paying me money to sing. Most gratifying and enjoyable. As a communications short-cut, most people referred to me as a "folk singer." Indeed, I referred to myself as a "folk singer." Meaning that I am a singer who sings folk songs. I am a singer-guitarist who sings a variety of songs, most of which are traditional/historical songs and ballads.

Am I a "folk singer?" Certainly not in the sense that von Herder meant.

Is there a "rural peasant class" anymore? Well, when you think of the scarcity of small family farms these days, replaced by huge corporate farms, and the fact the most farming these days is done, not with a hand plow drawn by a couple of horses or mules, but by machines that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, huge feed-lots owned and run by large food companies; ax-wielding loggers of yesteryear replaced by Weyerhauser employees with chain-saws; sails, save for recreation, have been replaced by diesel engines—well, you get the picture. It's a little hard to believe that "the rural peasant class" that von Herder referred to still exists.

This, in my opinion, is the reason there is so much quibbling over the word "folk."

It's a word that has lost much of its meaning because it has been cut loose from its roots in the real world.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Melissa
Date: 13 May 08 - 04:42 PM

When I was very young, I spent a good deal of time with very old people who sang/taught me songs they had learned when they were very young (from people who were old at the time) Being interested and mannerly made me an excellent child for them to give their gifts to.
Our area had active pockets of Music at the time.

Now, I spend quite a bit of time with various clusters of music in the area where I am the old-timer. I sing older songs and play in a style that would probably fit seamlessly into gatherings of a hundred years ago. The part about being our local Old Timer is that I'm usually the youngest musician within our clumps.

I would seem to be Don's opposite.
I do not consider myself a 'folk singer' or 'folkie' and I have never been called either by anyone who knows me. It's not a term we seem to use in this backward, rural, small-farming area.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Art Thieme
Date: 13 May 08 - 04:57 PM

One is probably dumb, and absolutely wrong.

The other is, most assuredly, correct!!   ;-)

Due to the vagueness inherent in the semantics, we will never see either clearly.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 13 May 08 - 05:02 PM

'To what extent, if any, is Folk Music the music of an actual Folk other than folkie Folk, whose actuality is compromised by their adoption of objectivist methodology entirely at odds with the subjectivist criteria of actual Folk, thusly perceived'

if you can't dazzle'em with brilliance, baffle'em with BS, eh observer? *LOL*

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jeri
Date: 13 May 08 - 05:20 PM

INeluctable: –adjective
incapable of being evaded; inescapable: an ineluctable destiny.
[Origin: 1615–25; < L inéluctābilis, equiv. to in- in-3 + éluctā(rī) to force a way out or over, surmount (é- e- + luctārī to wrestle) + -bilis -ble]

Therefore, 'eluctable means it can be evaded, is escapable, and you can get out or over it.

Or to translate what wordfella said (The extent is mitigated in large part by the ineluctable modality of the observer's preconceptions. It's obvious, isn't it?), you don't know because you don't know what the flip the observer's thinkin'. Maybe.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Peace
Date: 13 May 08 - 05:33 PM

"inéluctâbilis"

WELL! If my buddy Don had said THAT to begin with I'd be in the loop. He was treating the situation with floccinoccinihilipilification. Nothing could be more ineluctabilis, he said perniciously and with moderationality.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Skivee
Date: 13 May 08 - 05:37 PM

I think that the situation is covered by Heisenburg's Uncertainty Principle; in that the observation of "Observer" making observations about folk music is notablely unreliable, as the negative energy that Observer introduces into what would normally be a neutral subject, tends to make the observation of observer's actual position unreliable. This disregards whatever charge "Observer" hopes to get out of the deal.

Or to quote a venerable bit of folk or folkie advice,"Tell your parents not to muddy the water. They may have to drink it soon"


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 13 May 08 - 05:40 PM

"Tell your parents not to muddy the water. They may have to drink it soon"

....and our parents said this to their parents, and......well you get the idea, I hope...

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 08 - 05:54 PM

The inescapable truth is that an authentic folk sensibility would not recognise themselves as such. That would be left to taxonomists, rule makers and the rest of the folk revival machinery. Self consciousness is the antithesis of folk, but bread and butter to the revival scene.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 13 May 08 - 05:59 PM

Glueman - don't you mean bread and marge? I think it's probably folk even (especially?) if no-one's listening, though God knows what Bishop Berkeley would make of it...

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Art Thieme
Date: 13 May 08 - 06:04 PM

And that bread always falls butter side down. Watch where you step;
it's

    a

         slippery

                      slope

                               we

                                       descend!

---------------------Art


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: beardedbruce
Date: 13 May 08 - 06:05 PM

(Unless you tie it on the back of a cat ( butter side up) before you drop the cat)

Then the cat and bread spin wildly and disappear.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 08 - 06:07 PM

Kitty, I was going to say meat and drink but that raised a tankard - figuratively and metaphorically - and a hearty post-modern ploughboy came unbidden into view. But let's not give Derrida, a Frenchman, the last word (though I belive Bretons are almost Cornish these days). We'll settle for marge.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Peace
Date: 13 May 08 - 06:23 PM

OK. Someone has to ask. I love Observer's threads. BUT, will someone please tell me what an Ob is?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 13 May 08 - 06:29 PM

Peace - depends on how you say it. An ob, or a nob?

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 08 - 06:33 PM

Maybe the OP is luring us into Scrabble hell with a Mauritanian anal flute known only to adepts and Giles Brandreth?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jeri
Date: 13 May 08 - 06:34 PM

An Ob delivers baby. I think the whole word is 'obstatician', but maybe that's just the guy who counts the babies and records what accessories they have.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Tootler
Date: 13 May 08 - 07:02 PM

I think that the situation is covered by Heisenburg's Uncertainty Principle; in that the observation of "Observer" making observations about folk music is notablely unreliable, as the negative energy that Observer introduces into what would normally be a neutral subject, tends to make the observation of observer's actual position unreliable. This disregards whatever charge "Observer" hopes to get out of the deal.

I think what you really mean was summed up by those eminent physicists, Michael Flanders and Donald Swann

"Work is heat and heat is work and all the heat in the universe is gonna cooooool down.

Yeh, that's entropy man!"


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Joe_F
Date: 13 May 08 - 08:50 PM

According to an article I once read, the belief that buttered toast always falls butter side down is an exaggeration. The probability is never 100%, but depends on the value of the surface beneath. Experiments with a toast-flipping machine showed that even with a Persian rug you could only get the probability up to 89%. Efforts to obtain a Gutenberg Bible to better that record were unsuccessful.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 08 - 03:36 AM

"If you can name the author/composer of the song, it ain't folk."
Not really - many written songs, particularly by local poets here in Ireland, were taken up and adapted locally, so passing into the tradition.
Two examples local to here spring to mind - Nora Daly (Miltown Malbay Fair) and Farewell To Miltown Malbay, both by Tomás Hayes (1866-1935).
You can't throw a stone here without hitting someone singing A Stór Mo Chroi, which was written by Brian O'Higgins (Brian Na Banban) (1882-1949)
Then you can start on the Irish Language repertoire, which is full of songs with known authors.
Sorry Peace - back to the drawing board. What's wrong with the 1954 definition anyway?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 08 - 04:30 AM

An Bunnan Bui (The Yellow Bittern) (Cathal Bui Mac Giolla Gunna b 1680) is a great favourite too, I believe, although it sees to exist in various versions! My favourite was that sung by Paddy Tunney, which I recall goes something like:

Was the break of day but no bittern's horn filled the waking morn with its hollow boom
For I found him prone by the bare flag blown by the lough shore lone where he met his doom
His legs were sunk in the slime and slunk; a hostage held in the fangs of frost
O you of knowledge lament his going; for want of liquor his life was lost

O yellow bird it's my bitter grief I'd as lee or lief that my race was run
No hunger's tooth but a parching drouth that has sapped your youth after all your fun
Far worse to me than the sack of Troy that my darling boy with the frost was slain
O no want nor woe did his wings bestow as he drank the flow of a brown bog drain

Ah degrading vile was the way ye died o my bittern beauteous of glowing sheen
Was at dawn of day that your pipe ye'd play as content ye lay on your hillock green
O my great fatigue and my sorrow sore that your tail is higher than heart or head
And the tipplers say as they pass your way: had he drunk his fill he would not be dead

O bittern bright it's my thousand woes that the rooks and crows are all pleasure bound
With the rats and mice as they cross the ice to indulge in vice at your funeral mound
Had word reached me of your awful plight on the ice I'd smite and the water free
You'd have all the lake your thirst to slake and we'd hold no wake for the Bunnan Bui

O it's not the blackbird that I'm bewailing or thrush assailing the blossom bray
But my bittern yellow that hearty fellow who has my hue and my wilful ways
By the loughshore bank he forever drank and his sorrow sank in the rolling wave
Come sun or rain every drop I'll drain for the cellar's empty beyond the grave


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,freda people
Date: 14 May 08 - 04:42 AM

Folk Music comprises that which is felt, perceived and held together by a tradition, dogma or identifiable pattern, recognised as evoking understanding, raising awareness or challeging preconceptions of a social, perceptual or historic nature through musical method. While it may be deemed subjective by some, its capacity to speak to the mass consciousness demonstrates that it is in fact an objective medium which has demonstrated its own historical relevance and integrity.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 08 - 07:52 AM

Some fifteen years or so back, I was fortunate to meet with a octogenarian singer and ex-miner who'd lived all his life in the Durham Coalfield. He was highly entertaining on various subjects, and told me all about the cigar-box fiddles they used to make & play in 4 part harmony. However, when I asked him about Folk Songs, he didn't know what I was talking about. I sang him snatches of The Collier's Rant and The Blackleg Miner but he'd never heard of them, nor of anything like them, which gave me significant pause for thought. Of course this is just one person, but one steeped in over 80 years of mining history & culture, active socially and politically throughout, so when one hears of Ewan McColl & Bert Lloyd giving concerts of folk songs in the WMC at Tow Law to the baffled locals, one begins to suspect that all is not as it first appears!

To quote WalkaboutsVerse on the Chords in Folk thread: Traditions exist due to folks being impressed by how their forebears did things, a notion which would at least have the appearance of plausibility about it. However the caveat must be that traditions only exist in the imaginations of the impressed, and that their forebears (or more likely not their forebears at all...) had no concept of tradition as we understand it today, much less The Tradition.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 14 May 08 - 08:25 AM

I'd like to hear something from that cigar-box-fiddle genre, Sedayne - it may be a good one for the likes of yourself to resurrect...I never said that what we now term "English traditional folk music" was the only genre I've ever enjoyed.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: mattkeen
Date: 14 May 08 - 08:31 AM

QUOTE: Guest, freda people

"Folk Music comprises that which is felt, perceived and held together by a tradition, dogma or identifiable pattern, recognised as evoking understanding, raising awareness or challeging preconceptions of a social, perceptual or historic nature through musical method. While it may be deemed subjective by some, its capacity to speak to the mass consciousness demonstrates that it is in fact an objective medium which has demonstrated its own historical relevance and integrity."


Oh thats nice a snappy then


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 08 - 08:51 AM

Makes perfect sense to me, although I'm not so sure about its capacity to speak to the mass consciousness, nor yet its historical relevance and integrity, but otherwise...

These old cigar-box fiddles turn up in junk shops all the time, single string, long necks, very often fretted, at least marked, obviously played la gamba style. As for a revival, I'd have to find three other like-minded souls to participate!


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jassplayer
Date: 14 May 08 - 08:54 AM


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 08 - 08:58 AM

These old cigar-box fiddles turn up in junk shops all the time

North-East junk shops that is; I wonder, has anyone else seen them in other parts of the country?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jassplayer
Date: 14 May 08 - 08:59 AM

I'd like to be a rural peasant, but I can't afford the property taxes or the commute.
Do the inane things I hum to myself while trying to ignore ill-mannered drivers count as "work songs?"


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 14 May 08 - 09:06 AM

(H)um..?.."Spencer the Rover" (E. trad.), Jassplayer?!


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Folknacious
Date: 14 May 08 - 09:48 AM

Ob? Surely that should be N#


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 May 08 - 10:12 AM

The "ineluctable" business is a   frequently noted quote from the beginning of the third chapter of Joyce's "Ulysses"--the full phrase is "The ineluctable modality of the visible", and it is relevant here because the protagonist is reflecting on what is real and what is only appearance--which is the issue that is of concern to the first poster in this thread.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 14 May 08 - 12:04 PM

"If you can name the author/composer of the song, it ain't folk."

Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong etc., etc.

I know Jim Carroll got there first - but I had to say it as well! The statement above (the one in quotes) is just plain wrong!!!


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: maire-aine
Date: 14 May 08 - 12:12 PM

How much folk can a folk musician folk, if a folk musician could folk folk?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 May 08 - 09:20 AM

I'd just like to confess that for the purposes of this thread I was GUEST, The Observer; fully intending a light-hearted parody of the other GUEST, The Observer threads but unwittingly realising something with substance! If I'd been more observant I'd have noticed that in genuine GUEST, The Observer threads it's v rather than vs, but otherwise a good thread all in all.

So then, to what extent, if any, is Folk Music the music of an actual Folk other than folkie Folk, whose actuality is compromised by their adoption of objectivist methodology entirely at odds with the subjectivist criteria of actual Folk, thusly perceived? Well, as is becoming clear from this & other threads, not to any great extent at all really!

Does this matter? Not to me it doesn't, although I'm still losing sleep over as to how long I can go on calling it Folk Music!


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Santa
Date: 28 May 08 - 12:24 PM

Sedayne: I think you are at risk of reading too much into your contact who didn't recognise certain songs. Johnny Handle was a miner, as was Jack Elliot, and they clearly did know those songs. There would be many miners with no interest or knowledge of "folk" songs. Those whose life was centred on the church, for example. Temperance followers would not know songs which were sung in drinking centres. So some people know the old songs, many don't. I'm sure that was every bit as true when this old hat was the latest fashion.

Cyril Tawney has something similar to say about songs in the navy. Where, when, and how they were sung.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 May 08 - 01:59 PM

If he was an isolated case, Santa, then I'd be more inclined to agree, but the same thing is coming up again & again - and Jimmy was in no way church or temperance orientated! I don't doubt the songs existed, I just question that they (and so-called folk songs in general) permeated the culture to the extent we've been led / misled to believe, very often by those with a particular political agenda, such as Bert Lloyd, who as it has been shown, wasn't above falsifying his findings.

Interesting you mention Cyril Tawney's navy songs; have you seen Ross Campbell's PermaThread: Mechant Navy Songs which gathers together the songs Ron Baxter collected when he was in the merchant Navy. Makes for fascinating reading!


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 28 May 08 - 05:14 PM

This question sounds like Clinton's parsing of what "is, is". (Or whatever reference to Monica's offering)

The two concepts of folk on the back stoop on folk on the concert stage have crossed over
to make the distinction fuzzy.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 May 08 - 06:09 PM

The two concepts of folk on the back stoop on folk on the concert stage have crossed over to make the distinction fuzzy

Even fuzzier actually; the distinction was between folkies and actual folk (i.e. wider humanity) who couldn't give a toss about folk music in any shape or form. Therefore, if folk is such a minority interest, representing the interests of what remains an specialised elite, how can it justifiably be called folk music?

As has been said elsewhere, you can go for a lot of years in the real world without meeting another folkie...

I'm not saying any of this matters, it was just a notion for a spoof thread which has long outlived it's usefulness.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Santa
Date: 29 May 08 - 07:54 AM

Then I apologise for extending it, but I think you've raised the point of the music "permeating the culture". I rather doubt it ever did. Were the songs more widespread, why did collectors have to go to some much trouble to find them, and why are so few examples known of many? I don't believe singing, or music, has ever "permeated the culture" beyond hymns in church (or their equivalent!), national anthems and marches, plus something to entertain the crowd at events such as weddings.

Obviously it is tempting for singers and musicians to feel that their enthusiasm has (or had!) great widespread support, but it seems much more likely to have been a genre activity. A "good thing" yes, absorbing for those involved, entertaining for those just passing. But a minority interest. The songs would pass on withing the genre, and those in other minority interests just wouldn't notice it. You'd be amazed (or perhaps not) how many aircraft modellers never stick their head in a model railway show!

As a resident Fylde folkie, it has been my good fortune (OK, small bragging rights!) to be aware of Ron's collection, and the work done by Ross and Ron together. What is delightful is to see this work achieve a wider audience, and what the responses have been. Time to take another look, perhaps, so thanks for the reminder.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 29 May 08 - 08:18 AM

How could I have overlooked Ron in the Best Folk Song Writer thread? Just sorted it anyway!


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 29 May 08 - 08:31 AM

There's a dose of self-delusion at the heart of folk music, namely that certain songs rose from the ooze, an aggregate of human consciousness and language which is an index of their value, whereas other pieces are merely the work of professionals handy with a catchy tune and a pithy lyric.

Once that chunk of dubious objectivity is seen for what it is, that Anon is no better than Nina, that money or lack of wherewithal don't inscribe themselves into a tune beyond the listeners own recognition baggage, the important aspects of Folk music Pop or Bob to the surface. If every unattributed tune were suddenly named in a wizardly bit of academic research, like Jesus's bones being found in the desert, the space they occupy would be no less important for nailing their authorship.
If an appreciation of Folk lies in wilful ignorance of the facts - that folk was probably always a specialist not a common taste - better that something else fills the gap.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Santa
Date: 29 May 08 - 11:46 AM

I don't think I know anyone who believes songs rose unbidden from the ooze. (Booze, maybe.) So your first premise is lost. That they were altered and improved by anonymous contributors en-route to the current day, perhaps some will admit to that, although the "Folk Process" seems to be used in about the same circumstances as the "Folk Police", with only slightly better credibility.

I entirely agree that knowing the authorship would not add anything to the quality of a song, in musical terms. It may however have some effect on the historic value of the words.

Nah, I can appreciate the stuff without knowing how common it was, or wasn't, so your last premise falls flat too.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 29 May 08 - 11:55 AM

I'm with Santa on that one. This from my own Myspace blog, if I please:

We lovers of traditional song are not so much the keepers of a tradition, rather the volunteer curators of a museum, entrusted with the preservation of a few precious, priceless and irreplaceable artefacts: hand-crafted tools we no longer know the names of (let alone what they were actually used for) ; hideous masks of woven cornstalks (which are invariably assumed to be pagan) ; and hoary cases of singular taxidermy wherein beasts long extinct are depicted in a natural habitat long since vanished.

Not only is such a museum a beacon for the naturally curious, it's a treasure in and of itself, an anachronism in age of instant (and invariable soulless) gratification, and as such under constant threat by those who want to see it revamped; cleaned up with computerised displays and interactive exhibits and brought into line with the rest of commodified cultural presently on offer.

But not only is this museum is our collective Pit-Rivers, it is a museum which, in itself, is just as much an artefact of a long-vanished era as the objects it contains. It is delicate, and crumbling, but those who truly love it wouldn't have it any other way - and quite rightly so.


A tad polemical I admit, but it is something I am rather passionate about. For the rest it have a look at: The Lieg, The Lief, and the Traditional Folk Song.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 29 May 08 - 03:27 PM

Instinctively I'm drawn to period music because it reveals things, often between the lines, about the people who made it. Folk music is worth preserving for those reasons, though it's not uniformly 'good' and I stand behind the judgement of modern sensibilities in being able to tell the difference. I can see why an Alfred Wallis maritime painting, an authentically naive but informed work attracts high price tags and can appreciate folk music that comes from a similar well spring, unsullied by the influence of more diffused minds.

Like say, architecture, it has to be recognised that music is not a pure phenomenon but a palimpsest of tastes. Once those tastes are added to the original intention is occluded, we accept them as an artifact that arrived with us at a moment in time like we might take a strata of subsoil that contains C19th stuff knowing deeper earth may contain medieval, anglo-saxon, roman or prehistoric pieces.

It's important to recognise that what we seek to preserve is also an act of taste, of connouiseurship and like despised Victorian buildings in the sixties, taste is fleeting. So is the answer to preserve everything? Probably, but in the knowledge that doing so will only tell us about taxonomy. I don't believe Tam Lin was under threat because Sandy Denny performed it through a mic with an electric band, if anything it spread the song to another audience who may have been moved to discover more about the song or folklore generally. There are enough collectors about to set in stone, or whatever virtual rock Wikipedia consists of, traditional songs and the songs themselves are robust enough to weather whatever interpretations a contemporary player may lend them. Imo, we're more likely to kill folk with kindness, to put newcomers off by presenting it purely as a historical re-enactment, than we are to let the song's robustness be tempered by new attitudes.

On Santa's last point, you may exhibit peculiarly liberal attitudes to folk music but rest assured many do see it as a hotline to some musical mother lode and believe it was a common currency rather than a fascinating branch line of popular culture. On Sedayne's point it's unfortunate that folk trades on its anachronistic qualities, much as I might appreciate them, because like patriotism it can be a quirk that negates further discussion, and there are a fair few on Mudcat who'd like to keep it between the boys (though not you Sedayne from what I've read) or want to restrict it, and debate of it, to accolytes and an agreeable elite. In the end folk's unique selling point will preserve it despite the woolly jumpers, dreary monologues and hands-off proprietorial nonsense.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 May 08 - 06:53 AM

Folk is a place I go to sometimes for any number of reasons, but ultimately I go there to forget about me and the world which I inhabit, though there is nothing wrong with the world I inhabit, just that it's a very different to the folk world, which is, ironically perhaps, my own imagined village. Folk is home; folk is family, belonging, community; folk is where I came from , but it's not what I am, or where I am, or even who I am, but it's an essential part of all these things. Folk is a continuity of a process, at least perceived, wherein at least the notion of The Tradition becomes possible, wherein we might glimpse something wondrous & truly sublime and become part of that experience however so briefly. Folk empowers that notion, which, to me, is essential to the well-being of my human soul. Folk is the past within us, some of us at any rate, within me certainly, which informs my beggarly place in the overall scheme of things - woolly jumpers, dreary monologues, hands-off proprietorial nonsense and all. Folk is big enough, and small enough, for it all.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 30 May 08 - 07:44 AM

You touch on some important points. If folk is your link to permanence, lineage, the transcendent it's fulfiling a vital role. Where I part with many is that, like creationists who see only dragons in the fossil record, I fail to see any historical strata as being more 'real' than now. I can hear echoes back in folk but they're my soundings.

Fantasy is much under appreciated in this country. Peter Woodcock in his book 'This Enchanted Isle' maps British visionaries against the onslaught of (for example) CIA funded Abstract Expressionism which sought to quell the Commie undertones of romanticism with its shamanistic belief in barbed nature and I'd argue we're still under the thrall of tattooed nation 'realism' in TV and film which is no mirror to England I'd recognise or acknowledge. It's a top down hegemony that only looks like it's bottom up folk work.

The important thing is that the Imagined Village contains imagination and it isn't a wobbly line of spurious deduction and cod proofs. I trust my imagination to feed back what's 'right' without pecking orders or informed mediation.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 May 08 - 08:23 AM

Sorry there, Glueman - just lost my entire reply! It was a good one too. All that remains is the link to The Max Hunter Folk Song Collection & a quote from Mark E. Smith, or rather a non-quote as without the rest of it wouldn't make any sense.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Marc Bernier
Date: 30 May 08 - 09:08 AM

Oh, this has been such an enjoyable read. Thank you. However for my own 2 cents, I once managed to offend the group of people I was trying to with the following statement. A folk tradition ceases to be when you remove it from the kitchen, or Fo'c'sle, and put it on stage. It the becomes performance art. To take a 150 year old song or chanty, spend a year rehearsing a beautiful and complicated vocal arrangement complete with poly-phonics, and present it in a concert hall for 6,000 people while playing $5,000 hand made guitars, is not really keeping alive any folk tradition. It's just making money, not unlike the Rolling Stones.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 30 May 08 - 09:23 AM

Some great treatments of old songs there Sedayne, I could listen to that stuff weaving its magic all day. Horrible when words fall into the pit, as they've done on more than one occassion here, a complete bastard. I agree with Marc's point too but maybe less strongly, re-cycling doesn't have to end with Sting, Paul Simon or (is there a pit deep enough?) the Swingle Singers.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Deckman
Date: 30 May 08 - 09:29 AM

After reading Don Firth's (and others) adroit posting, I was going to add something brilliant, but my tongue got twisted up in my eye teeth and I couldn't see what I was saying! Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 30 May 08 - 06:42 PM

"To take a 150 year old song or chanty, spend a year rehearsing a beautiful and complicated vocal arrangement complete with poly-phonics, and present it in a concert hall for 6,000 people while playing $5,000 hand made guitars, is not really keeping alive any folk tradition. It's just making money, not unlike the Rolling Stones."

It may not be about keeping alive any tradition, but it's not just about making money.

It's about making music - which is a wonderful, joyous thing to do - on your own, with 5 friends, in a small theatre, in a stadium - wherever.

There is nothing wrong with performance art, and artists are entitled to whatever they can earn.

Getting to the point where you can play to 6,000 people takes a MASSIVE amount of talent, hard work, tenacity, sacrifice, effort, passion and love.

6,000 people will not come unless you're bloody good.

It depresses me utterly to see posts like this.

Big acts do no damage to the tradition at all. They have nothing to do with it.

But petty sniping certainly does, because it makes people who love folk music look like...

(supply own word)


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 30 May 08 - 06:53 PM

It may not be scholarly,
It may not be totally accurate,
It may not be politically correct,
And it may not please many; but, I'll say what my old pappy once said: "I'll know it when I hear it."


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Stringsinger
Date: 30 May 08 - 07:16 PM

Jassplayer, I think a real "worksong" is one in which you can transport a string bass over your head and play "Big Noise From Winetka" with drumsticks at the same time.

Or you could pull it along with it containing Joe Venuti cement.

"They" didn't call him "slow-drag" Pavageaux for nothing.

You know, the proverbial "they".


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Stringsinger
Date: 30 May 08 - 07:20 PM

Don, was it Carl Sandburg who first called himself in concert a "Folksinger"? (Circa 1920's when "American Songbag"..my bible came out).   Yeah, that German guy did call it "volkslied" didn't he?

Frank


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Marc Bernier
Date: 30 May 08 - 09:10 PM

"Getting to the point where you can play to 6,000 people takes a MASSIVE amount of talent,"

Or someone with alot of money behind you.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 31 May 08 - 12:59 AM

I'm sorry, but you don't get a a lot of money behind you if you're not good enough (and you probably are if you 'spend a year rehearsing a beautiful and complicated vocal arrangement complete with poly-phonics'). Saying it's just about money merely comes over like sour grapes and does none of us any favours.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 May 08 - 06:29 AM

om,
Sorry 'sme again.
Your earlier statement implies that 'success' depends on talent, which is patently not the case.
There really are too many imponderables to support such an idea.
In Ireland at present undoubtedly the most popular performer is Christie Moore who can command a 6,000 audience, yet, off the top of my head I can name you dozens of performers who are far more talented, hard working, tenacious, sacrificing, passionate and loving about the music.
Among many other factors, success can depend on having a good agent, knowing the right people and simply being in the right place at the right time.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 May 08 - 06:30 AM

Sorry,
Finger slipped; should read Tom
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Marc Bernier
Date: 31 May 08 - 07:11 AM

Tom; I know who I was trying to insult when I initially made the comment, probably ten years ago now. It worked. My apologies if I got you going with my post, but I started my post explaining it was an insult. I'm not going to give anymore details on a public forum because That would dig up issues that are not necessarily current. However at the time my comment was not very far of base, though it was meant to offend.

Cheers


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,aeola2
Date: 31 May 08 - 02:04 PM

I'm not in favour of '' folk music'' but rather '' music for folk''. However I will place some of the comments in my prosopgraphy.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 May 08 - 02:33 PM

Isn't all music 'music for folk' in the loosest definition of the term?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 31 May 08 - 02:41 PM

Can I say I think these endless definitions of what folk music is are quite useful? At the very least they reveal folk won't be proscribed by any group or individual who seek to impose a definition, which is off itself an extremely folkish response to authority. Even authority which claims it is a grass roots one abandons all credibility. Which is all very heartwarming.
As you were.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Def Shepard
Date: 31 May 08 - 02:48 PM

glueman said, At the very least they reveal folk won't be proscribed by any group or individual who seek to impose a definition.

Not for want of trying, as I've seen and heard many times in my life


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 31 May 08 - 03:45 PM

"At the very least they reveal folk won't be proscribed by any group or individual who seek to impose a definition."
A definition isn't imposed - it defines.
If it is wrong or inadequate, simple - give us an alternative one - won't hold my breath though.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 31 May 08 - 03:50 PM

Referring to Marc Bernier's post above (30 May 08 - 09:08 a.m.), I'm afraid he is the victim of some kind of stereotyped thinking.

On a balmy summer evening in 1963, I sang several folk songs and ballads to a crowd of some 6,000 people (police crowd estimate) gathered on the large lawn/amphitheater in front of the Horiuchi mural at the Seattle Center on the occasion of one of the Wednesday evening Seattle Center Hootenannies. Most of the songs I sang that evening I had been singing for several years, but whether or not my renditions were "beautiful" I will leave for others to say. I was accompanying myself on a classical guitar, hand made in Madrid, that I had paid something like $350 for (I would probably have to pay ten times that for the same guitar now). I was not singing complex vocal arrangements since I was singing solos, and the only polyphony involved was that I usually work out accompaniments in which, instead of merely strumming, I play specific strings or combinations of strings intended to harmonize with the melody.

I was one of about a dozen performers that evening, some performing solo, some in groups. As to having large amounts of money behind us, I believe we did have the resources of—what was it? The Seattle Parks Department? I'm not sure. They were trying to provide attractions for the general public to encourage them to make use of the relatively new facilities at the Seattle Center (a legacy from the Seattle World's Fair the previous year), and we were asked to perform because we were all fairly well-known singers of folk songs in the area. As to being paid vast quantities of money (on the order of, say, the Rolling Stones), if I remember correctly, we were each paid $25 per performance.

I believe that if anyone in that audience became interested enough in folk music to want to learn to sing and play folk songs (and although we weren't paid a great deal for these performances, I usually gained a guitar student or two almost every time I did one), then we were not just "making money," we were helping to keep alive the folk tradition.

Folk songs do not need to be confined to the kitchen, the fo'c'sle, the front porch of a cabin in the Ozarks, or sung at the rump of a mule while plowing the south forty for then to still be folk songs.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Def Shepard
Date: 31 May 08 - 04:01 PM

JC said "If it is wrong or inadequate, simple - give us an alternative one - won't hold my breath though.

I don't believe that giving "us" (who's us?) a new definition was glueman's intention, he merely said that he found the endless definitions usful.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 31 May 08 - 04:20 PM

Quite so DS. To take Jim's point a definition needs a definer, and folk appears highly resistent to packaging and labels - which may be its defining characteristic! Not to mention the thing that gives it longeivity.
Anyway, I've yet to see a definition from a credible source that covers all the bases but the search is a fascinating one.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,wigwambam
Date: 31 May 08 - 04:42 PM

'A definition isn't imposed - it defines.'

but it's who sets the definition that matters.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Def Shepard
Date: 31 May 08 - 04:54 PM

exactly, wigwambam
the music itself is above any definition. I believe it was Dave Swarbrick who said "You can't hurt the music" and I'll add by saying put all the definitions you want on the music,you can define until the cows come home , but you can't hurt the music.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 31 May 08 - 04:58 PM

Agreed.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 01:35 PM

"but it's who sets the definition that matters."
Utter bloody nonsense - what does it matter who defines anything, from folk music to Brussels sprouts. What matters is whether it defines the subject adequately, which it does absolutely.
The definition of the word 'folk' has been in existence and internationally recognised for over a century and a half; it has been applied to music and internationally recognised for over half a century.
If somebody asked me what folk music was I would point to that definition, then to the hundreds of books on the subject (many of them bearing the word 'folk' in their titles), then to the recorded examples - where would you lot point them to?
Tom Bliss has admitted that the music he describes as 'folk' in no way fits the long-established and accepted definition, but follows this up with the somewhat feeble argument that he is justified in using the term because of its constant misuse.
Sorry folks, folk will remain folk as defined until smebody gets off their arse and redefines it.
Misuse is ignorance, deliberate misuse is wilful ignorance.
Despite constant mis-usage genealogy will remain never be an 'ology'.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 02:04 PM

I think it does matter, Jim. A definition defines, but like history written by the winners, "whose" definition informs the acceptability of the definition, for better or for worse. I think we are witnessing the tyres of some of the old definitions being kicked.
(just give me the metaphor, I'll mix it in).


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,wigwambam
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 02:11 PM

Jim Carroll you have no understanding of semantics or of the ideological components inherent in the use of language.

You come up with some quite startling bilge.

'Misuse is ignorance, deliberate misuse is wilful ignorance.'

Deliberate misuse can often be propaganda which I suspect is what youre iup to on this site.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 02:33 PM

All of what you say may well be true.
Simple solution - define what you mean by 'folk song'.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Gene Burton
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 02:37 PM

100


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 02:56 PM

So folk was not defined by people but given entire in a Moses/Tablets deal? And if it was set down by people they had to have a) the authority to do so b) a full understanding of the past and future potential of the form and it's modes of adoption c) a comprehension of national and international perspectives on that form and its roots.

In the last month I've heard folk isn't folk if it's on stage, harmonised, polyphonic, electric, sung through a mic, written by a known person, written in the recent past, sung by anyone attractive, performed by anyone young, performed by anyone who has a formal degree in the subject, performed with any notion of professionalism up to and including strict tempos or note specificity, sung in an accent not particular to the singer and song, etc, etc, etc. Why am I beginning to see Rambling Syd Rumpo? I don't like introspective young people singing American Pie either but that still leaves a lot of room for inclusion.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 02:57 PM

Congratulations Gene:

"Jim Carroll you have no understanding of semantics or of the ideological components inherent in the use of language."
Sorry, meant to say it may be true that my understanding of semantics is somewhat lacking, but not quite enough for me to suggest that it is necessary to know who defined a word before I accept that definition.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 03:30 PM

Glueman,
Sorry, we crossed postings.
Don't know where your list of don't came from but none of them are covered in the definition, and certainly never mentioned by me.
We don't accept any definition if it doesn't make sense - nor do we reject an existing and established definition because it is personally inconvenient.
As I understand it, the established definition was drawn up by people working in the subject; basically by those who supplied us with the raw material in the first place.
A fair stab at an analysis was made by Sharp in 'English Folk Songs; Some Conclusions' and followed up by Bert Lloyd's 'Folk Song in England'. There are several hundred other books on the subject which can be taken into consideration.
Be glad to hear any specific problems you have with the definition as it stands, or any of the written work on the subjects.
My own personal experience of thirty years collecting leads me to believe that they got it more or less right - with some minor quibbles.
Do you a deal; Ill show you mine if you show me yours - research, that is!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 03:41 PM

I certainly haven't made them up and the people who stated them seemed to do so with some authority. It would be a cheap shot to imply a folk Taliban but the list of interdictions make that organisation sound like a liberal drinking club. I suspect the intolerant nature of the exceptions are because folk people feel it under threat or that it isn't being properly recognised, neither of which are the case. As DS said, you can't hurt the music.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Marc Bernier
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 04:39 PM

Good answer Don. Thank you. And thank you for your part in keeping alive the tradition. My initial comment again was a Quote of an insult I once through at someone I was angry with. I don't think I'm necessarily happy I repeated it a second time. In reality I'm no where near that narrow minded. I sing anything that makes me feel good or sometimes sad, any where folks want to listen, and some call it folk.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 04:40 PM

As I said, doesn't fall within my definition or the established one, so it's a bit of a red herring to this discussion.
'As DS said, you can't hurt the music.'
Sorry - another bloody stupid statement.
Of course you can hurt the music - the influx of the 'make-it-up-as-you-go-alongs have decimated the clubs to the extent that the chance of hearing good folk-songs well sung has been severely lessened nowadays.
The present Irish success story has been floated on the basis of respect for and understanding of the music.
Doesn't it occur to you that the fact that a thread entitled 'Folk vs Folk' is taken seriously indicates that something is distinctly rotten in this particular State of Denmark.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 05:28 PM

I'm not going to re-enter the debate on the 54 definition. I accept that Jim can't begin to get his head round the point I'm making, which is fair enough and probably my fault because I've failed to find a way of expressing the difference between linguistic change and legalistic change. This is a shame because there's no doubt in my mind that this shift lies at the heart of many of the challenges faced by folk music today (accepting all definitions), and I really hope to make some progress on this here, but that's life.

One thing, though, Jim, if I may? Could I ask you not to try to express what it is you think I'm saying on this? Because you've missed my point by a country mile above. If you need to remind people what I've said, could you quote (or perhaps point to) my actual words? Thanks.

And of course there are many great singers and players about apart from Christy, but I think anyone taking an objective look at his career would say he'd more than earned his share. And you say, "Among many other factors, success can depend on having a good agent, knowing the right people and simply being in the right place at the right time." Well, maybe - but the 'other factors' are soon proved paramount. To last beyond 'the right time' you need them in abundance

Mark. Apology accepted, and may I apologise too? I just get so weary of reading posts here which not only fail to recognise, or seek to minimise, or deny, the influence of 'trade' music on the stuff we all enjoy hearing and doing, but worse, seek to present hard-working low-earning artists as harlots - often in terms can can wind up making folk enthusiasts, as a tribe, seem mean-spirited, 'hsibbons' (that's snobbish inverted, by the way), and frankly just ill-informed about what it takes - and means - to be 'successful.'

When I read you post I thought of The Demon Barbers last summer, doing a brilliant show at Cropredy before how many thousands, then jumping in the van to drive all the way to Dartmoor, to leap into a tiny stage and do another flawless performance that same night. They've worked damn hard to get to that level. They've taken big risks but compromised nothing, and they've brought many new lambs to the fold. Their success is 100% deserved - and i think that goes for the vast majority of the bigger names around today.

Maybe there's a handful of people who do fit your category, but I think we can safely ignore them, and I hope we will.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 06:07 PM

Tom Bliss

seek to present hard-working low-earning artists as harlots

What are you on about? Nobody has ever suggested anything of the sort as far as I have seen.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 03:29 AM

Tom
I do not automatically link talent and dedication with large audiences and financial backers - I took that to be what you were saying. If I have misunderstood you I apologise - it was not intentional.
For me, this thread has to be about definition, otherwise why should people involved in music be in competition with each other, as the thread title implies.
The suggestion that there are two distinct streams of 'folk', self penned and orally transmitted (simplification - sorry), is a nonsense, and will continue to be so until those involved in the former can produce a tangible reason for its inclusion in the term. That, to me, is an uncomplicated fact.
I believe that in the past, the parasitic nature of the former in attaching itself to the term has done enormous damage to the survival of the latter as a performance art. People simply stopped going to 'folk' clubs when they found that they could sit through a whole evening without hearing a folk song. I was one of those people.
In terms of how the music is viewed outside the folk scene; until we take ourselves seriously and be clear of what our aims are, folk music will continue to be the butt of media humour, fail to get air space, and continue to be overlooked when it comes to getting grants for peformance, archiving and research. Ask John Adams how difficult it is to keep C# House going on a shoestring budget.
We've discussed in the past the mixing of copyrighted and public domain material, which is now beginning to have an adverse effect on the very healthy Irish scene.
If we don't get our act together folk music will only continue to exist on library shelves.
That, for me, is the real meaning of 'Folk vs Folk'.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 03:58 AM

Jim my objection was not about the link or otherwise between financial backing and size of audience. I was referring to this; "Tom Bliss has admitted that the music he describes as 'folk' in no way fits the long-established and accepted definition, but follows this up with the somewhat feeble argument that he is justified in using the term because of its constant misuse."

I'm painfully aware of the dichotomy of definitions, and am supremely careful what I say in this matter. I've explained many times that I don't call my own music folk without some distancing or qualifying device. And when speaking to those in the know I use the terms 'folk and 'trad' as they are 'correctly' defined. But when talking to the wider world I must use terms that THEY understand. This is not misusing a word, it is choosing language that your interlocutor will understand. It's called communication.

There is no need to make any new definition, just accept that the common use of one of the words used in that definition has altered, and adjust our language accordingly.

You still - and I now accept will until you die - see the erosion/mutation of the meaning of word 'folk' as an invasion of the 54 definition. It is not. Your comment above suggests that I'm condoning and contributing to this erosion. I am not. I am using a word in the way it is understood by a huge majority in the 21st century, while remaining as passionate about celebrating the thing defined in 1954 as you are. We can only celebrate the 54 by making a definitive separation, so people can understand how it came to be, and thus why it is special, and therefore how we can use and enjoy it. But to do that we must use words as they understand them, and try to do so in ways that will open doors, not close them.

Tom

Jim, you mind is made up on this, but if anyone else still has doubts, here are the artists and tracks listed under 'Folk' on iTunes this morning. THIS is my starting point and the reason I struggle to find, and promote, a consensus.

Amy MacDonald        Mr Rock & Roll
Amy MacDonald        This Is The Life
Amy MacDonald        Poison Prince
Amy MacDonald        Run
Amy MacDonald        L.A.
Beirut        Nantes
Billy Bragg        A New England
Brandi Carlile        The Story
Buffy Sainte-Marie        The Big Ones Get Away
Cara Dillon & John Smith        If I Prove False
Cary Brothers        Blue Eyes
Damien Rice        Volcano
Damien Rice        The Blower's Daughter
Damien Rice        Cannonball
David Gray        Please Forgive Me
David Gray        Babylon
David Gray        This Year's Love
David Gray        Sail Away
David Gray        Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
Devendra Banhart        Little Yellow Spider
Don McLean        Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)
Donovan        Catch the Wind
The Dubliners        Seven Drunken Nights
The Dubliners        The Fields of Athenry
The Dubliners        The Wild Rover
The Dubliners        Whiskey In the Jar
Fionn Regan        Be Good or Be Gone
Gordon Lightfoot        If You Could Read My Mind
Harry J. All Stars        Liquidator
Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan        Come On Over (Turn Me On)
Janis Ian        At Seventeen
Joan Baez        The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
Joanna Newsom        This Side of the Blue
John Denver        Rocky Mountain High
John Denver        Sunshine On My Shoulders
John Martyn        May You Never
Johnny Flynn        The Box
Johnny Flynn        The Ghost of O'Donahue
José González        Heartbeats
Judy Collins        Send in the Clowns
Judy Collins        Amazing Grace
Kate Rusby        Village Green Preservation Society
Kate Rusby        You Belong to Me
Kate Rusby        Underneath the Stars
Kate Rusby        Who Knows Where the Time Goes?
Kate Walsh        Your Song
Laura Marling        Ghosts
Leo Kottke        Vaseline Machine Gun
Leonard Cohen        Suzanne
Leonard Cohen        Hallelujah
Leonard Cohen        Dance Me to the End of Love
Lucky Jim        You're Lovely to Me
Mark Knopfler        Sailing to Philadelphia
Matthews Southern Comfort        Woodstock
Mikis Theodorakis        Horos Tou Zorba (I) / Zorba's Dance
Nick Drake        Northern Sky
Nick Drake        River Man
Noah and the Whale        2 Bodies 1 Heart
Pentangle        Light Flight
Peter, Paul And Mary        Leaving on a Jet Plane
Peter, Paul And Mary        Puff, the Magic Dragon
The Pipes & Drums of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards        Highland Cathedral
The Pipes & Drums of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards        Last of the Mohicans
Ralph McTell        Streets of London
Ray LaMontagne        Crazy (Single Version)
Ray LaMontagne        Trouble
Ray LaMontagne        Shelter
Ray LaMontagne        Hold You In My Arms
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss        Killing the Blues
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss        Gone, Gone, Gone (Done Moved On)
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss        Please Read the Letter
Sarah McLachlan        Full of Grace
Sharon Shannon        Galway Girl (With Mundy)
Sharon Shannon        Galway Girl (With Mundy) [Live Version]
Simon & Garfunkel        The Sound of Silence
Simon & Garfunkel        Homeward Bound
Simon & Garfunkel        Scarborough Fair/Canticle
Simon & Garfunkel        The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)
Simon & Garfunkel        A Hazy Shade of Winter
Simon & Garfunkel        Cecilia
Simon & Garfunkel        America
Simon & Garfunkel        April Come She Will
Simone White        The Beep Beep Song
Simone White        The Beep Beep Song
Soko        I'll Kill Her
Steeleye Span        Gaudete
Steve Earle & Sharon Shannon        Galway Girl
Tom Baxter        Better
Tom Baxter        Miracle
The Town Pants        Galway Girl
Vashti Bunyan        Diamond Day
The Weepies        World Spins Madly On
The Wurzels        I Am a Cider Drinker
The Wurzels        The Combine Harvester (Brand New Key)


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,TB
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 04:08 AM

Sorry - important correction:

"Your comment above suggests that I'm condoning and contributing to this erosion."

should be

"Your comment above suggests that I'm condoning and contributing to this INVASION."

Guilty to the former, NOT guilty to the latter.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 04:21 AM

"But when talking to the wider world I must use terms that THEY understand. This is not misusing a word, it is choosing language that your interlocutor will understand. It's called communication."
If you are using the term incorrectly, for whatever reason, you are peddling misinformation.
I repeat, no matter how many times people refer to geneology it will continue to be wrong and by accepting it you are being patronising.
Going through your list (some of which I am familiar with, most I am not) what is the common feature which makes them 'folk'.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 04:38 AM

This is like wandering into an Alice in Wonderland world. Traditional Folk music, handed down, unaccompanied, local, continues to exist on record and has a body of literature. It will lie low until people who want to go out for the evening prefer it to Streets of London. It still goes on in homes, round the odd pub fire that hasn't become a surf and turf eaterie and so on. 'Folk Clubs' were an artificial construct of the folk revival where young people could flirt to the sound of Scarborough Fair by someone who sounded vaguely like Art Garfunkel with the flu. They have never, to my knowledge, been a substitute for an authentic folk tradition.

I still say you can't hurt the music.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 04:39 AM

"what is the common feature which makes them 'folk'?'

Jim I have not the faintest, foggiest, fuzziest notion. I don't think these IS a common feature - just a vague consensus in the English speaking world that this sort of music is now called 'folk.'

And it's not MY list - it's the iTunes list - the world's leading download site, and therefore as good a snapshot of where we are on 02 06 08 as we'll get.

We can take it from this list that the fans of all those artists, in fact most people who have heard of them (apart from those of us who DO know what the word really means, of course!) would be comfortable using 'folk' to describe them.

As I've said many times (though you choose to ignore these parts of my posts), I don't know how it happened - I wasn't there, and I would NOT have condoned it if I'd seen it happening, because it's wrong, it's stupid, and it gives those of us who are trying to promote and develop both 54 folk AND WIki folk a massive headache.

But it HAS happened. A long time ago, now.

So now we have a choice:

Your way: Re-educate 64 million people who we can't reach and aren't interested anyway.

My way: Use the word 'trad' when referring to the 54 for now, and try to find something better asap.

Nothing to do with refining the 54.

I'm all washed out on this.

Anyone else got any ideas?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 05:15 AM

Tom,
Are you really suggesting that 64m people have the wrong idea about folk music - or even care? The misuse of the term come exclusively from within the folk music fraternity - deliberately and cynically so in most cases; any misconception outside arises from that fact.
"I don't think these IS a common feature"
Then you have no case; your argument flies in the face of logic.
"don't know how it happened - I wasn't there,"Yes you were/are, and very much a part of it; it continues to happen and it continues to damage - you appear to be prepared to condone that.
You have not addressed one of the problems caused by the misuse of the term. You don't strike me as someone who would shrug and say "tough titty", but that is how it is beginning to come across.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 05:48 AM

I would not be debating here if I didn't care.

I hope you meant: "The misuse of the term CAME exclusively from within the folk music fraternity - deliberately and cynically so in most cases; any misconception outside arises from that fact."

Yes, and it happened long ago, or that list would be much much shorter.

Now we have a fait accompli - unfortunately.

"Then you have no case; your argument flies in the face of logic"

I'm not making an argument for this use being correct, because it's plainly not - it's wrong. I'm saying it's current - and if we want to be understood we have to work with that currency.

We still need to separate the 54 - even more so than in 54. But the word 'folk' is lost to us. if we maintain the definition intact, then we ARE doing EXACTLY what we both want to avoid. Coralling Mark Knopfler into the oral tradition!

It is to prevent this that I want to use a different word, which is still largely understood as something close to the 54.

You have never answered my analogy of the word 'Gay.'

Would you reserve this exclusively for "having or showing a merry, lively mood"?

Do you see any parallel?

Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 07:43 AM

Tom,
It actually began to have an adverse effect in the late through the 80s, when it brought the clubs crashing - not that long ago.
More later (I'm afraid) - off to a singing session.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 08:28 AM

Well you see Jim I was not involved in folk music, by any definition, between about 77 and 95. In 77, when I decided to buy a plexiglass gibson and die my hair blue, people had been calling the likes of Cat Stevens and Al Stewart 'folk' for a long decade - since Dylan et al, or maybe their agents, had first blurred the word.

I only re-entered the scene properly in about 2000, at which point I noticed the records on the shelves labelled 'folk' in HMV, what Mike Harding played on 'Folk on Two,' what people were singing in 'folk' clubs, and what was being reviewed in 'folk' magazines. Hmm, I thought - the line's shifted even further west than it was in 77.

And it's moved even further since then.

I'm 100% behind the 54 definition - it describes something of enormous cultural importance (though I wish they'd added a clause to remind people that the oral tradition should always be seen in context with the written and, later, recorded systems). I want to UN-blur the line. So people are able easily to spot the 'trad ABV' in any modern interpretation, and so find their way back to the well.

Like you, I want to a unique label to go on this tin - but for me 'folk' won't work any more, because too many people think it means something else.

I'm trying to do the same thing as you, and for the very same reason. But I'm hacking my way out of a territory where David Grey and Robert Plant actually ARE 'folksingers.'

Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 04:10 AM

Tom.
Now, after a wonderful afternoon of singing, where most people in the room appeared to be in no doubt what they meant fy folk song - where was I!
"but for me 'folk' won't work any more, because too many people think it means something else."
Sorry Tom, we can't seem to get past this stumbling block.
General ignorance or deliberate misinterpretation is no reason to abandon a definition which perfectly explains the meaning of a word. Anyway, the 'folk' pool includes so few people, and the question arises so infrequently outside of that 'little circle of friends' (and enemies, if I am to take the title of this thread seriously) that it really is not an issue. It is not as if your 64 million people are banging on the door looking for a definition.
If people really want to know, they will look in a dictionary - if we adopt your solution, will they be any wiser for having done that - a little like starting up a dry-ice machine in a London pea-souper I would have thought!
Thank you for your 'gay' analogy - it's perfect for what I'm talking about. Of course there are numerous meanings to some words and gay has come to mean homosexual (you might also add the one derived from Middle English which means dissolute or licentious). Nobody would I hope, suggest that all definitions of 'gay' refer to the same thing, nor would suggest that all homosexuals have or show a "merry, lively mood". While some of my gay friends fit this description, others I have met were right miserable bastards.
Your proposal for the inclusion of your music under 'folk' merges the existing definition with your non-definition, (nobody, yourself included, has produced one single defining feature of your music, apart from the fact that it wasn't sung by horses!) suggesting that it is all the same thing.
Even the term used by some dictionaries (incorrectly), 'modern folksong' - "those which have been created in the folk style", doesn't work as a general catch-all because, while some writers are writing in this manner, many 'modern' folksongs have as little to do with the real thing as Brecht, Schubert or Gilbert and Sullivan.
What you are proposing is not a re-definition, but an abandoning of the existing one because it has become meaningless and undefinable, which to me is cultural vandalism.
The fact that your music lacks, even defies definition, means that it has become a large and extremely anti-social cuckoo in the nest.
It has also led to the practice of others dumping their particular product, 'Music-Hall', Parlour Ballad, early pop-song et al into the 'folk' slot and has led to the present state of the clubs.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 05:23 AM

and I said I wasn't re-entering the debate!

Apologies to everyone else for the way Jim and I are monopolising this thread - I know I'm never going to get my view across to him, but some of the points he raises do require rebuttal or clarification if we're ever going to move towards a resolution on this (which I do believe we, as a group, must).

"General ignorance or deliberate misinterpretation" are terms that do not apply to the current use of the word 'folk' to describe a larder, rather than only one tin in it. They could perhaps have been applied at the time when the change was happening. But now the change has taken place, and the use of the word 'folk' by the majority of the English speaking world is, de facto, by force majeure, correct.

Because that's just how language works.

It is exactly the same as the way the most common meaning of the word 'gay' has changed. Or 'RnB' to use a more pertinent example.

Language means what the person using it means - NOT what it says in the dictionary.

Lexicographers play catch-up as the word meanings shift through common use. Some are quicker to re-define than others, and if you go look in the 21st century's most interactive equivalent of a dictionary - Wikipedia, you will see the 'larder' definition of the word 'folk' - not the 'tin' one. People who use the word like this are wrong in our terms, but completely right in theirs - and to accuse them of "general ignorance or deliberate misinterpretation" is technically, linguistically wrong, unhelpful and actually rather rude and inflammatory.

Jim, you are fighting a rearguard action in a battle that was lost 50 years ag.

Furthermore you are encouraging something which I believe from your other posts you actually don't want to encourage - helping to hide traditional music away. By failing to put up a sign that passers-by will understand, we are limiting our ability to promote and celebrate traditional music.

This phrase is telling: "Anyway, the 'folk' pool includes so few people, and the question arises so infrequently outside of that 'little circle of friends' (and enemies, if I am to take the title of this thread seriously) that it really is not an issue. It is not as if your 64 million people are banging on the door looking for a definition."

This is where you and I differ. We both want the world to be able to recognise the difference between proper 54 folk and the other tins in the wiki larder. There are umpteen reasons why this is important, which I think we agree on.

But you seem only interested in the existing 'little circle.' I believe the entire world should be part of this. I'm a pragmatist and an optimist. I believe in achieving things, and I want the UK (let's start with something relatively easy) to start to re-connect with its musical roots, I want purveyors of both wiki-folk and 54-folk to be more successful, I want the community activities around folk music to flourish, and I want to try to clear up the current mess over copyright - and some other stuff too.

And ALL of this requires that we have a different words for the tin of 54 folk and the larder door.

And if you want to communicate, you HAVE to use words as the OTHER guy understands them.

I'm not going to make ANY progress with iTunes, or HMV, or the gazillions of nu/wyrd/rock/shoegaze/retro/new-age-folk artists, or even Mike Harding if I tell them they are misusing the word folk, and must come up with a new word. (Luckily, PRS does not use 'folk' - I don't know about other bodies around the world).

I am going to make no progress whatsoever, even if I chain myself to the top of Big Ben and play a concertina with my knees.

But if our 'little pool' begins to use - in common parlance - the word 'trad' when they want to refer to the 54 definition, we have an achievable objective - specially as about 90% of that pool are already doing exactly that.

Though while there are still a few people pulling in the opposite direction, and making a big noise about it (which pisses off the people at the margins - the very people we want next to reach) - that task is made harder then it needs to be.

I don't want there to BE an outside world.

Just a world.

Do you see?

Tom

PS You might have noticed that, even though you keep mentioning it, I try to avoid mentioning my own music into these discussions - because it's the bigger debate that's important and I'm, unhelpfully bang in the middle of that difficult margin territory I referred to above round the edge of your 'little pool' (which is why I'm so tuned to the reactions of the other people I meet there).

However, for the record as there's no reason why you should know, I do sing and play a lot of trad (specially when working with Tom Napper), and my own songs are more closely connected with the tradition than many contemporary songwriters. I frequently make new songs from old, I borrow melodies and bits of melody, and words and phrases from traditional sources, and I almost exclusively write about real events in much the same way that the old ballad writers did. But I draw a BIG line between what I do and the tradition. I always explain what is trad and what isn't and why it matters - and while people are kind enough to suggest that some of my songs may, in time, enter the tradition I actually believe that is impossible, because the tradition that made the works that we call trad no longer exists. My songs may enter A tradition - which is cool, but not the same thing. So if anything I'm stricter about all this than most. It is only the LABLE I want to change, and that is for sound 'corporate' reasons.

I spent 25 years as a writer/producer/director and communications consultant (ok, spin doctor), working in, and with, TV, radio, and web providers involved with entertainment, marketing, advertising, training, HR and even government. I'm not coming to this in blue-eyed innocence.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 05:32 AM

Sorry - I meant to respond to this too:

"What you are proposing is not a re-definition, but an abandoning of the existing one because it has become meaningless and undefinable, which to me is cultural vandalism."

Yes that is what I am proposing, but it is NOT cultural vandalism.

It is the way that language is, and was, and always will be.

Go read a bit a Chaucer, then tell me that that the reason you don't understand much is because of cultural vandalsim. (Ok, the Norman Conquest was - but even that is just What Happens).


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 05:44 AM

Tom,
Any definition must take as it's starting place what has gone before.
Would you advocate that we now use the term 'Genealogy' instead of Genealogy because of constant misuse - I won't begin to talk about the grocer's apostrophe?
If you are going to re-define the word (nobody else has), then do it, otherwise we will have no definition for what we do. In which case, all the books on the subject on my shelf (dating from mid 19th century to a year ago) will cease to have a meaning.
By bowing to (or being part of) a minute, self-interest pressure group it is you who is confining our music to obscurity.
Tins in a larder carry their own descriptions and definitions - tomatoes, beans, marmalade, whatever - nobody in their right senses would refer to them all as a larder and nobody would suggest that they are all the same. Your particular tin doesn't have a label; put one on it!
The general definition is 'music' or 'song'; 'folk' is the specific term to describe the contents of the tin.
Jim Carroll
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 05:58 AM

Tom,
Sorry, meant to say what a good analogy your 'larder' is.
Music or song is your larder, folk is the label on the tin.
The putting of The Canterbury Tales into modern English is a far cry from making the Wife of Bath an advertising executive in the city.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 06:02 AM

I wouldn't advocate that Genealogy should be replaced by Geneology, but if it happens -as it may well do - the dictionaries will be altered to recognise it. Any study of language shows that this is exactly how words change and always have done. By common use. A Butterfly was once called a Flutterby - and yes, dictionaries ARE now showing the grocer's apostrophe as correct.

"If you are going to re-define the word (nobody else has), then do it"

Err - Jim, it's been done very nicely. And I've told you I accept it. Look again at Wikipedia.

Yes, it's a shame about the books, and about the correlation with folk art etc, but the Wiki does take that into account, and a link remains intact.

A minute, self-interest pressure group?

Jim, wake up and smell the coffee mate. If you'd written that in 1965 you'd have had a point, but you are simply wrong. Look again at the iTunes list. There is the proof that it's way past a minute self-interest group.

My own tin has a label which I've already told you about: 'Story songs.'

Do you know the town of Wells in England? It has wells in the middle of it. The wells gave the town its name. No-one complains that the town has houses and shops in it and isn't actually only some wells. Oh, and if you do want to find the wells, you have to follow the signposts to the Bishops Palace.

Sorry Jim that's all I can say.

I need to go change my strings


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 06:42 AM

The Wikepedia definition flies in the face of all other definitions ancient and modern. It is vague and generalised, and even in the terms it has set itself - totally out of date.
Any definition of a specific activity must surely be that which is articulated by its practitioners (and articulators).
Wells became Wells because it had wells, not because it was one, and a butterfly was always a butterfly, and still is.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Black Hawk on works PC
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 07:00 AM

any definition of a specific activity must surely be that which is articulated by its practitioners

I thought that was what Tom was saying?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 12:27 PM

I wrote 'articulated' by its practitioners, not labelled.
'Folk' is not a label - it defines the music; it refers to its origins, it's creation, transmission, its function and the people it served.
Exclude tomatoes from soup and it ceases to be tomato soup, take folk out of folk music and it ceases to be folk music, no matter how many people wish it were otherwise.
Tom says his particular tin is labelled 'Story songs', which could place it in the 'opera', 'country and western' or 'music hall larder; it has no part in the overall definition.
Wikepedia includes 'electric folk' in its definition, yet does not include Vaughan Williams or George Butterworth or Percy Grainger, who all have a greater claim to the source of the music. If you are going to widen your definition, surely you must remove all the boundaries.   
Incidentally, at the 1971 Loughborough Folk Festival, one of the leading exponents of 'electric folk' Bob Pegg astounded a roomful of people by announcing that he was no longer interested in folk music. When asked why he still played it, he replied "for the money".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Def Shepard
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 02:11 PM

And this was stated, Bob Pegg astounded a roomful of people by announcing that he was no longer interested in folk music. When asked why he still played it, he replied "for the money".

Well at least Mr. Pegg was being honest about his intentions.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 02:29 PM

what the f#### going on here?.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 02:54 PM

Pardon?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 05:09 AM

Jim, you appear to be overlooking the fact that the 1954 definition was for the purpose of academic study. It is commonplace in all activities for practitioners to use words in a more precise way than in general usage. It is therefore possible for "folk song" to have two meanings, the wider one in general use and the narrow, more precise one for specialists. Confusion arises on a forum like this which is composed of enthusiasts but not necessarily academics, who may use both senses without being clear which one they mean.

I suspect that in 1954 "folk song" even in general use still meant pretty much what Jim would like it to mean ie traditional song. However by the mid-60's it had broadened to include acoustic popular music. Now "folk" can mean almost anything - I have been listening to the BBC 2008 Folk Awards CDs and there's stuff on there that I can't see as being "folk" under any criteria (but perhaps that's just me turning into a Grumpy Old Man).

The fact is that the term "folk" slipped away from the 1954 definition long ago. We can't really complain, since the folk revival was happy to go along with this at the time. By the time I started to go to folk clubs in the early 1970s you could expect to hear all sorts of music there, including blues and "contemporary folk", probably a wider range than you would now. The accusation of "Judas" levelled at Dylan was because of his use of electric instruments, not because he was outside the 1954 definition of folk.

If the 1954 definition was being formulated now, it would probably have to use the term "traditional song" rather than "folk song".


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 05:47 AM

Howard,
"You appear to be overlooking the fact that the 1954 definition was for the purpose of academic study."
No it wasn't; it was an attempt by researchers and performers to identify a specific genre of music for all purposes, study and performance included.
"We can't really complain, since the folk revival was happy to go along with this at the time."
No we weren't - we walked away from the clubs in our thousands - and we never came back.
"the term "folk" slipped away from the 1954 definition long ago."
Again, not the case. A couple of years ago I completed my set of 'The Greig Duncan Folksong Collection', an incredible source of material for students and singers alike - and spot on '54'.
Shortly before that I received as a birthday present Vance Randolph's 'Unprintable Folksongs and Folklore' as a birthday present.
Far from having gone away, the term is still very much alive and kicking.
I was never a stickler for the strict use of the term as long as it didn't stray too far from its correct meaning, just as (occasionally) I am prepared to eat food which contains taste-alike ingredients that have never even seen the shadow of the real thing.
Traditional doesn't do as a term, as I am more than happy to listen to contemporary songs composed using traditional forms, even though they are neither/nor.
I certainly will never accept a folk club evening of Beatles songs, as happened not so long ago in the North of England.
If someone is prepared to come up with a workable definition which leaves the 1954 one intact, fine, let's look at it, but what is constantly being proposed is the total abandonment of any definition, which will ring (and has rung, to a great extent) the death-knell on folks song as I understand it as a performance art.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Sue Allan
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 08:36 AM

For information, for what it's worth, some info on the International Folk Music Council for those who don't know. It seems pretty clear to me that it was primarily aimed at academic researchers and collectors. Certainly its journals give that appearance.

Maud Karpeles wrote an article in Ethnomusicology magazine (Vol 1 No9 1957) called "The International Folk Music Council: its aims and activities", in her capacity as Hon. Sec. of the Council. It opens:

The International Folk Music Council, which was founded in London in 1947, is a worldwide organization with a membership drawn from over fifty countries and an Executive Board which is served by members from fourteen countries. Its President is Dr R Vaughan Williams. It is affiliated to Unesco through the International Music Council, of which it is a member.
The Council's aims are (i) to assist in the preservation of folk music (and dance) of all countries; (ii) to further its study; and (iii) to encourage its present day practice.

Following the formulation of the 1954 definition Maud Karpeles also, if memory serves me right wrote, a piece adding various riders to the original … but I'd have to check details at home (am at work at present with no access to academic journals.

The IFMC morphed at a later date - someone with more information than me mentioned this recently on a thread, with reasons why - into the International Council for Traditional Music.

The ICTM stated aims are quite different, it seems:
"The aims of the ICTM are to further the study, practice, documentation, preservation and dissemination of traditional music, including folk, popular, classical and urban music, and dance of all countries."


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 09:33 AM

I'm probably going to regret this, but here goes -

Jim Carroll

Any definition of a specific activity must surely be that which is articulated by its practitioners (and articulators).

Did the communities in which this music thrived call it "folk music"? Were the travellers, farm labourers, shantiemen, fisherman, waulkers, shepherds... represented at Sao Paulo or was it decided on their behalf by self-appointed folklorists? It seems reminiscent of European explorers "discovering" foreign lands.

Looking at it another way, is there any other word in common usage that has been defined by a committee?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 12:41 PM

Jim, I didn't say that "folk song" no longer means "traditional song", but it no longer means only that, at least not in general usage.

The examples of traditional songs you mention are correctly labelled "folk songs", both under the general and 1954 definitions. However "folk song" now includes other things, unless you are explicitly working under 1954.

All traditional songs are folk songs. Not all folk songs,as the term is generally used, are traditional songs.

I agree that a performance of Beatles songs doesn't qualify as folk under any definition, but folk clubs aren't academic institutions, and if they want to put something like that on (presumably as a one-off) that's a matter for them and their audience. But if that sort of thing becomes the club's staple, then the name "folk club" would become inappropriate (and would probably put off the target audience for that music).

You seem to want the world at large to use the specific 1954 definition, but the term isn't even limited to that sense on this forum of enthusiasts. Language is defined by its usage, not what we would like it to be.

I understand your frustration at the way the term in general usage has largely lost all meaning, but it's too widely established to change now.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 05:08 PM

Thank you for widening this dialogue - I was beginning to feel guilty for monopolising Tom Bliss.
First can we clear up 'academic', which tends to be used as invective nowadays.
My dictionary gives
Pertaining to university... etc
Scholarly to the point of being impractical
Pertaining to formal education
Formalistic, conventional
Merely theoretical - speculative.
or Pertaining to the academy and philosophy of Plato
Don't know which of those you had in mind Sue, but the 1954 definition was based largely on the work done by Sharp in the field, which he wrote up in 'English Folk Songs, Some Conclusions'. Sharp certainly was a collector, but if he was an academic he spent a great deal of time at the coal-face, and his aim in collecting what he did was specifically for performance.
The fact that the IFMC includes performance and dissemination in their list is surely indicative that their aims were not purely academic.
Sharp's work was re-visited by Bert Lloyd in 1967 - was he an academic? As I remember him he was that lovely balance of researcher and performer. It was he who drew my attention to the 1954 definition in Folk Song in England. I seem to remember that Bert was involved in drawing up the 1954 definition - not sure if he was wearing his 'academic' or 'performing' hat at the time!
MacColl / largely performer with a deep interest in the subject, was happy to accept the definition
Me - I spent my working life as an electrician, fell in love with folk song as an apprentice on the Liverpool docks and, even though that interest tended to go fairly deeply from the word go, that love-affair has lasted a lifetime; I am certainly not an academic.
The revival I came into in 1962 was largely the offspring of the 1954 definition; that's what you got when you paid your entrance fee.Any knowledge I might have on the subject came from singing, listening, reading, helping run clubs and thirty years worth of interviewing traditional singers.
Snail
"Did the communities in which this music thrived call it "folk music"?"
Some did, some didn't. Walter Pardon certainly did. I think I included transcripts of what Walter had to say in a thing I wrote for the Enthusiasms page of Musical Traditions entitled 'By Any other Name'.
Blind Travelling woman Mary Delaney called the songs, "Me daddy's songs' even though she only learned a tiny handful of the 100 songs she sang us from her father. Mary refused to sing us any of her country and western songs because she said "they had the old songs ruined' and had only learned them because 'that's what the lads ask me for in the pub".
Traveller Mikeen McCarthy, Traveller called them "fireside songs" and Clare small farmer Tom Lenihan called them "the old tradition". Other singers we have met have called them 'folk' 'the old songs' and '"come-all-ye's". The point is, whoever we questioned isolated a group of songs and named them. I referred to Tom Lenihan as a 'small farmer' the term generally applied to those of his occupation and background. He would not have referred to himself by that description; others in his position might even take offence - but that is what Tom was.
The name on the door I came in - folk - whether it was chosen by a committee, or whether it evolved, was widely accepted internationally, was part of the definition, and, as far as those of us who continue to research the subject, is still very much in current use.
If you wish to challenge it, adapt it to include other types of music or replace it altogether, please feel free to do so, but you have to take the original definition as your starting point, and explain how, why and into what it has changed.
"is there any other word in common usage that has been defined by a committee?"
I assume that by this statement, you are challenging the validity of the original definition - on what grounds? Surely definitions can be arrived at by those working in the specific field. As I write at present, two of my friends are working on definitions of aspects of music for an Irish encyclopedia. I believe VWMLibrarian Malcolm Taylor has contributed definitions to various works. Personally, I can't think of any better arrangement.
Howard:
"I agree that a performance of Beatles songs doesn't qualify as folk under any definition,"
How dare you make such a claim; what makes your definition, or non-definition any more valid than a club that decides to call a night of Beatles songs 'folk'. I've certainly heard people argue for the Beatles songs to be considered folk because of their continued popularity in pub sing-songs. Are you claiming exclusive rights on changing the term?
The only solid argument I have heard for expanding or discarding the term folk has been it's alleged misuse, though that misuse appears to be a largely cynical exercise by a self-interest pressure group.
It makes gibberish of our language, but it also has a more sinister side.
George Orwell referred to such practice as 'Newspeak' and more recently, it has led to 'torture' being replaced in the vocabulary with 'special rendition', killing your own side as 'friendly fire' and 'the massacre of civilians as 'collateral damage'.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Howard Jones
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 06:03 PM

Jim,

I wasn't using "academic" as invective or as a put-down, what I was trying to convey was that the 1954 definition was intended mainly for those working in the field of folk music, which I am happy to accept includes performers as well as academics. And I don't doubt that in 1962 "folk song" still meant the 1954 definition. But only a few years later it had expanded to include Dylan, Peter Paul & Mary, the Byrds, and pretty much anyone playing an acoustic guitar.

I don't think this is "Newspeak", which is a deliberate attempt to manipulate language in order to mislead, simply a casual misuse of the phrase. Journalists and the public both needed a label for this new type of music which had invaded the world of popular music. It is unsurprising that they latched onto the term "folk" when so many of those involved at the time were also involved with 1954 folk music and described themselves as folk singers. Yes it dilutes the meaning, but for most people the distinction is irrelevant.

Of course the term "folk music" remains in current use, and I use it interchangeably with "traditional music". But I accept the fact that, the original meaning, the 1954 meaning, has become watered down, and if I want to be more specific I say "traditional music". I'm not saying this is a good thing, simply that's how the language has evolved - not through any sinister attempt to undermine traditional music, just through the need for a simple label to cover acoustic music which had at least some links with 1954 folk.

I have to admit to being unclear by what criteria some modern songwriters are accepted as "folk" while others are not. Sometimes it seems to be a bit arbitrary. But I don't think Beatles songs qualify - they don't usually follow a similar structure to traditional songs, nor were they written with folk clubs in mind as a target audience. While they have become popular and may be often sung by "the folk", they have still to show the degree of variation required by the 1954 definition, and I suspect that most people still have the original tracks firmly in their minds when they are singing them. I don't believe the qualify as folk yet, but many of them are strong enough songs that they could well evolve into folk songs, given time.

If you are going to insist on "folk music" only being applied to music which fits the 1954 definition, then you are going to have to find another term for the range of other music which doesn't fit it but is nevertheless accepted in the folk revival. Either that or say the other music has no place in folk. The first is impractical because the wider world is quite happy with its usage of the term, and I don't think you believe the second any more than I do.

Jim, the genie is out of the bottle. You may deplore the dilution of a term with a precise meaning into one which is so vague as to almost defy definition, but I don't believe the linguistic process can be reversed.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 06:03 PM

Jim et al,
Long ago I shied away from trying to give strict boundaries and definitions to music genres. Try giving a strict boundary to 'jazz', 'classical', 'rock'. We all have different ideas as to what they constitute. 'Folk' is no exception to this. As has been said it means different things to different people. So what? It doesn't stop me from enjoying it, playing it, singing it. If it overlaps into something else occasionally so what if it's enjoyable?
It is a useful label, but no more than that. AND don't forget words and indeed definitions of words are evolving all the time, particularly in the English language. Most words in the English language have multiple meanings and different dictionaries give slightly different meanings. It doesn't stop us from doing crosswords or understanding each other. Using the word 'Ballad' presents far more problems than the term 'folksong'. Try putting 'ballad' into Ebay and you come up with all sorts of stuff. This word has changed its popular meaning drastically many times over the centuries.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Def Shepard
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 06:07 PM

It is my opinion that too many people try to set too many boundaries and definitions around music, and I for one say "Did you say something about how I should play and what I should play? Because if you did, you need to mind your own business, to be blunt about it.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 02:51 AM

Def Shepard,
In a similar vein, if you turned up at our folk-club (R.I.P. many times over) toting a Steinway and demanding to be allowed to play your selection of Chopin...... (repeat of your last sentiment).
More when I've woken up!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Black Hawk on works PC
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 03:28 AM

Why do posters keep defining acoustic music as folk music.
C & W was acoustic & is still mainly played on acoustic bodied guitars with pickups rather than solid bodied.
Same with most blues.
My daughter plays cornet in a silver band but has never used amplification.
The content is the definer surely, not what it is played on.
It is difficult enough agreeing what 'folk' is (if we ever can) without bringing method into the equation.
A novice once told me he couldnt see any circumstance where a singer would need a microphone.
I asked him if he thought he could sing at an outdoor concert at Wembley stadium & be heard.
Its a means to an end.
And if it has been recorded (on any medium), on play back it is no longer 'acoustic'.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 05:01 AM

Black Hawk, I think the use of the term "acoustic" to describe material that sometimes overlaps with "folk" is simply borne out of people's searching for a term (other than "folk") which can be applied to said material. I see it as a tryout, and by no means as an established term - yet.

Howard Jones said "I have to admit to being unclear by what criteria some modern songwriters are accepted as "folk" while others are not." Well, you and me together, and I am trying to be one of the very ones you refer to. Overall, I would refer to myself as a songwriter, full-stop. I would be the first to admit that some of my material does not belong to the genre (and I do not play them at folk club gigs, but I do include them in albums). But some of the material does move towards that wide and undefined category that the majority of people refer to as "folk". How can I tell? I don't know, the best way I can describe it is to do with the choice of subjects and the approach to them, the storytelling and picture-painting rather than the music itself. That's how it works for me, in my own mind.

By the same token, I consider some songs that sprang out of the pop or rock world to be worthy of inclusion into the same above category, irrespective of the fact that the people that wrote or made them popular are not accepted as folk artists. Such songs for example, would be "Penny Lane" and "Eleanor Rigby", Mark Knopfler's "Prairie wedding" and "Sailing to Philadelphia", Billy Joel's "And so it goes" and the "Piano man".

So whether the song is, or is not, "folk" (always in the wider-than-1954-sense, erroneous or not) has nothing to do with who wrote or sang it. The characteristics - for me - are in the song itself, not in the provenance or how it is delivered.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Ewan Spawned a Monster
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 05:32 AM

Apart from when talking about performers of traditional material, I don't think it's possible nowadays to wholly define who is and isn't a folksinger. I'm not sure it really matters. There does seem to be a massively arbitrary element to it.

I'm with Howard on the "linguistic slippage theory". I also think there's a point to be made about context. For example, George Papavgeris and James Yorkston are both contemporary singer songwriters. George is considered a folk singer, because he often plies his trade at folk clubs and festivals to a folk audience. James isn't because he usually doesn't. However, to the general public, both would be considered folksingers and to the 1954ers neither would. Context and perspective, then.

Blooming good songwriters, nonetheless.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 05:43 AM



"Did the communities in which this music thrived call it "folk music"?"
Some did, some didn't. Walter Pardon certainly did.


Well that's one but it doesn't seem to be general.

Since you ignore my question about whether the communities that the songs were collected from were represented at Sao Paulo I take it they weren't.

"is there any other word in common usage that has been defined by a committee?"
I assume that by this statement, you are challenging the validity of the original definition - on what grounds?


No, I am challenging its authority.

Surely definitions can be arrived at by those working in the specific field.

Of course, for their own use. They have no right to impose those definitions on the general public. The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemists defines an alcohol as any of a group of chemicals the simplest of which is methanol and the next ethanol. If you ask a scientist if they drink alcohol they are more likely to say "That's very kind. Pint of best, please." than quibble over the definition.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 01:59 PM

I'm with you, Snail!


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 04:26 PM

"Such songs for example, would be "Penny Lane" and "Eleanor Rigby","
Oh dear: I put up the Beatles example as how bad it could get - and it got worse!
Sorry folks - this is nonsense. You can't even agree among yourselves. 'Penny Lane' - give us a break; can Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey be too far behind, I wonder!!!
If anything convinces me of the need for a clear definition, this does.
"However, to the general public, both would be considered folksingers"
Do you have any grounds for claiming this? Since ALL sides of this argument have totally failed to catch the interest of the 'general public' I suggest that they would have no idea what it was.
"Did the communities in which this music thrived call it "folk music""
I replied 'some did' and mentioned Walter Pardon. I could have mentioned 'Straighty Flanagan' Mikey Kelleher, Duncan Williamson, 'Pop's' Johnny Connors, Martin Howley... and a number of others, all who we have heard use the term at one time or another and whose names would almost certainly have meant nothing to you. Your somewhat grudging "well, that's one" suggests that it would have been pointless for me to have done so. Walter was an extremely intelligent, perceptive and articulate man who gave a great deal of thought to what he did; far more so than most revival singers I have met and debated with. He had the added advantage of having been part of a living tradition.
"Were the communities that the songs were collected from were represented at Sao Paulo?"
No they weren't, and I find the suggestion that they should have been somewhat odd.
As much as I admired Sam Larner and Phil Tanner, I couldn't imagine them to speak on behalf of say a Lancashire weaving community or a Durham mining village, let alone communities in Spain, Finland, Rumaina... and all the other places covered by the definition.
It was arrived at, at the time of the greatest collecting project ever carried out in these islands before or since, on behalf of the BBC. Among those involved in that were Sean O'Boyle, son of a traditional singer and musician, Seamus Ennis, a musician and singer with at least one foot firmly in the tradition, and our own Bob Copper, member of Britain's number one 'folk' family. Assisting in an advisory capacity was Paddy Tunney, son of one of Ireland's finest traditional singers and one in his own right.
Also involved around this time was the magnificent American traditional singer, Jean Richie
It would be ludicrous to suggest that the findings of all this work was not taken into consideration when arriving at the definition, particularly as the nephew of one of the IFMC members was head of the BBC project.
This member, Maud Karpeles had worked with Sharp, so was familiar with the collecting in the South of England and in the Southern Appalachians and was a collector in her own right in Newfoundland.
The definition was accepted in Britain and abroad by academics and performers alike.
I would suggest that any challenge would be best aimed at the definition itself rather than the somewhat ingenuous approach of undermining the authority of its authors.
By the way, the damage that has been done to folk music by the attempted abandoning of ANY definition was not done 'a long time ago' as has been suggested, it has been, and still is a process of erosion.
I like to believe that even at this late stage the process can be reversed, but if that is to be the case it will take a little more thought and sensitivity than has been shown so far in these discussions.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 04:51 PM

To confuse things further, James Yorkston actually does traditional material - mostly rather badly, it has to be said (he's a very inexpressive singer), but he does get the songs out there.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Ewan Spawned a Monster
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 05:00 PM

Nice bloke too. Huge fan of Ann Briggs and Lal Waterson, as it 'appens.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Howard Jones
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 05:16 PM

Jim,

I may have missed something, but I'm not sure that anyone has challenged the validity of the 1954 definition - I certainly haven't. It's a useful and well thought out definition, in my opinion. But the language has changed over the last 50 years, and both the general public and the folk movement now use the term in a much wider sense.

Yes its regrettable, but it's what happens to language. If you think you can reverse it, good luck, but it's been established now for half a century. Personally, I think you're on a loser. That's not to say I don't agree with the principle, but I'm being pragmatic.

I'm not sure what damage has been done to 1954 folk music by this. For years the folk clubs thrived on a mixture of 1954 and other folk. Whatever the reasons for the subsequent decline of the clubs I don't believe it was because they were offering too little or too much 1954 folk.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 05:18 PM

Jim, it is precisely because of your own Beatles example that I referred to those two songs, in order to show that there is a wider public out there (misinformed perhaps, I won't argue there) that applies the term "folk" to a much wider bag than that defined by the 1954 definition. I will not argue the rights and wrongs of it, there's no point. As Howard Jones said, the genie is out of the bottle, no use arguing the toss no matter how upsetting it may be. You/we may wish dearly that they would use some other term than "folk" for the purpose, but the majority rules. We may call it "newspeak" but that changes nothing.

The time to shore up the 1954 definition was in the 60s. If it proved impossible to do then, by what measure can one hope to achieve it 50 years later?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Folkiedave
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 06:12 PM

Nice bloke too. Huge fan of Ann Briggs and Lal Waterson, as it 'appens.

Then whatever else one may think, from that, he has excellent taste.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 06:26 PM

"the general public...... now use the term in a much wider sense."
Can you give me an example of this Phil?
"For years the folk clubs thrived on a mixture of 1954 and other folk"
and one more or less drove out the other - guess which one?
When folkies describe 'boring folk songs at folk clubs' and whinge about 'long' ballads, I wonder whether we inhabit the same planet.
"I'm not sure what damage has been done to 1954 folk music by this" is it my imagination or didn't most of the clubs disappear in the 80s?
I decided that my last visit was the night I sat through an evening where I didn't hear a song which remotely resemble a folksong; and when I hear ... Penny Lane, for god's sake.
I think I might have fallen down a rabbit hole, now wher are the hatter and the doormouse?
Don't know "James Yorkston" - please don't enlighten me; this is depressing enough as it is.
I have no doubt that the real thing will survive and that people will be listening to Walter Pardon and Tom Lenihan a century hence. I doubt if you can say the same about your music as you seem totally at a loss to define it - surely that says something.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 06:39 PM

I too am certain that "the real thing will survive and that people will be listening to Walter Pardon and Tom Lenihan a century hence", Jim. We agree there. Though I think they will be singing Webber's Padstow May Song and Bogle's "The band played Waltzing Matilda", too. And - don't turn your eyes up in horror now - perhaps, just perhaps, in some odd and unguarded moments, even "Eleanor Rigby".

What they will call them, I do not know. Perhaps "ancient music", perhaps each will be called something different or all referred to by the same term. It doesn't really matter. What matters is that they should be sung, because they all deserve to be - for different reasons and to varying degrees, but they deserve it. Always IMHO.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tpm Bliss
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 06:42 PM

Hi folks,

I feel I should explain that Jim and I were, above, continuing what was a very lengthy discussion of this topic in another thread (from which we had both retired hurt) - which may be why some of what we said to each other may not have made sense. Many of the images, of tins and larders and genies and bottles and colours and wells and wikis and 54s go back to this. Sorry if it seemed somewhat incoherent out of context.

I have now had this chat with Jim, and with another regular who's not contributed this time, on about 5 occasions over the past two years, without any meeting of minds on the central issue.

That issue is that to Jim, and others who agree with him, the word folk is welded to the 54 definition. Therefore if some music is described as folk, then, to them, this means that the music is being included (or is hoped to be included, in their eyes) within that definition. And this makes them unhappy, and a little bit cross.

To me, and others if like mind, it is not. It is merely that the meaning of the WORD folk has been expanded to include this other music, leaving the 54 definition intact, but now with a new label: Traditional. We see no problem with this. One word has replaced another, and the definition - and all it stands for - is largely safe and healthy.

I have tried umpteen ways to help Jim get his head round this, but every time I think I'm getting somewhere, he comes back with a comment which shows that he's not got the point all - and here, above, we have more examples, with a number of well-reasoned arguments all getting the same response.

It's a shame, it's frustrating, but does it really matter?

Well, there will be many who'll say it doesn't. The music will survive and the only bad thing we can do to the songs is fail to sing them. (©MC)

I'm of that opinion too - but with one crucial proviso.

If Jim and his ilk were content only to defend their position, and fight the good fight for the word folk, I'd have no problem. We could all engage in spirited debate until the end of time.

But what bothers me, and bothers me a lot, is that whose who feel the way Jim does tend to view, and speak about, 'wiki' folk artists, like me and George - and in fact hundreds of others, as cultural criminals - or worse. They plainly feel we are usurping the tradition for our own mercurial ends, and are therefore dishonest (and other things we'd probably rather not be called). Jim's posts are peppered with understated insults aimed at non-trad 'wiki-folk' artists - as others posts by other contributors have been in the past.

Now, I don't actually care about this for myself (and I doubt George does either). My conscience is clear, and I know there are plenty of people who like what I do, and feel I'm committing no crime in doing it.

But what I DO care about is that this battle, when seen by people at the margins of our world - the very people we hope to draw into it - makes us look like a bunch of rather mean-minded plonkers.

And we have a big enough image problem here already - so we can do without this particular own goal.

That's why I've gone 20 rounds with Jim and others, and will probably continue to do so, as long as he has rounds in hi rifle.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 06:48 PM

With you on that, George. The oral tradition has never stopped assimilating new material in those few areas left in the country where it continues. West of Sheffield the farming community has a strong mixture of poems set to music, sentimental Victorian songs, Music Hall, Carols, oh and a few of what the rest of us call 'folk songs' which are in fact the pop songs of the early 19th century as printed on broadsides and sung in the street by ballad singers commercially.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 03:05 AM

Tom and all,
First an unreserved apology, then an explanation.
If I have offended anybody with my arguments and how I have delivered them – sorry, that was not my intention. Twenty-odd years ago I would have sat on my hands and kept silent; that's what I did in those days and that's what I don't do any more; don't really have that time now.
In the early sixties I found a music which sucked me in and more or less took over my life; I didn't know much about it, just that it was different and that I liked it. It was never a 'head' thing - in those days it came from Jeannie Robertson and Harry Cox and Joe Heaney and The Stewarts.... and many more who I was lucky enough to see and hear in the flesh, and in some cases, get to talk to.
Right through the sixties and seventies I attended clubs, I sang at them, helped run them, even helped set some of them up; they became a large part of my life when I wasn't working. I read a little about the music, but not much; I was far more interested in listening to it.
In the early seventies my wife and I began collecting; going out and finding the people who sang the songs I was interested in, whose parents had sung them and whose parents' parents had probably sung them. We met them, recorded their songs and, far more importantly, we talked to them – in many cases at great length.
We met Travellers who had worked in tinware, dealt in horses, built and travelled in horse drawn caravans and had done a host of other jobs and had led lives completely alien to our own. They took us in, made us welcome and sang for us – and talked, and talked, and talked - filling several hundred tapes with songs, stories, reminiscences and information.
Shortly after that we visited this town on the west coast of Ireland and met small farmers, landless labourers, council employees who worked on the road, singers, musicians, storytellers, tradition bearers...
We went to the town/village a few miles down the coast from here and met fishermen who where then still going out to sea in three and four-man canvas boats and whose parents had gone out in the same type of boat earlier in the century and rescued the crew of a French sailing ship which had gone aground in bad weather. They told us of the incident, and sang us the songs that had been made about it. Again we were made welcome, and again these people filled another several hundred tapes with their songs, stories and information.
We went to the East coast of England and met a carpenter from farming stock who sang us wonderful songs and spent the next twenty years filling tape after tape with information about the singing of those songs and with his very strong and thoughtful ideas of how they came about and how they should be treated.
We met East Anglian deep sea fishermen, Scots Travellers, Irish men and women, mainly from rural backgrounds; singers, storytellers, musicians and dancers who had all ended up in London.
We finally moved over here to the West of Ireland and are now in the process of trying to make sense of what we've been given and trying to work out how to make it available to as many people as might be interested in it.
We haven't gone to the books for our information; we've relied largely on the people I've mentioned and on others we've met with a similar interests to our own. The books, or at least some of them, have been a seasoning rather than the main meal; the ball of string that helps us try to find our way through the labyrinth.
All this is a little long winded – sorry for that – it's an attempt to explain who and why I am. In some ways my desire to debate is a repayment of the debt of gratitude to the people who have been generous and patient enough to pass on to us what we have been bequeathed; if you like, a recognition of the responsibility that seems to go with the territory.
I enjoy these discussions/debates/arguments – whatever they are; I find them educational, stimulating, entertaining: I don't particularly like it when they become too heated, but it seems to be an inevitable part of them and it's certainly a two-way street. I didn't start this thread; I didn't call it 'Folk vs Folk'. I regard discussions like this as little more than marking out our own territory, I never understand why people should take them as questions of value judgements – they're not. Why should I object to what other people listen to; my own musical tastes are fairly catholic.   
Just occasionally some of the arguments strike a raw nerve in me.
I was born and grew up in Liverpool, a city I was quite fond of at one time. In the mid-sixties I watched my home town being turned into a gigantic money-making machine by a cynical and highly-manipulative music industry. When I am told that one of the products of that machine is part of the music I have been listening to and recording over the last forty years...... well - sorry for the knee-jerk reaction.
I don't suppose these arguments ever change peoples' minds – speaking for myself, they give me a great deal to think about, I hope they do the same for others. I am, of course, unconvinced by most of the arguments put forward; too vague, too unsubstantial, a little like trying to wrestle fog.
One point I remain absolutely unconvinced on is the idea that the term 'folk' has changed because millions of people now take it to mean something else. One of the great failures of all of us has been our inability to bring people to our music – however we care to define it. We are, and probably will remain a tiny Freemasons Lodge with our own customs and language; these arguments are little more than a heated family discussion over the tea and toast – not the way I hoped it would turn out, but that's the way it seems to be. It's really up to us to sort out our differences; the outside world neither knows nor cares what we are about.
There is still much to be said on the subject of 'folk'.
Steve if you wish to believe that we still have a living tradition and that the Victorian and Music Hall songs are part of it, of course you are very welcome to do so.
I believe the tradition died when people stopped making and adapting songs and became recipients of rather than participants in their culture. I also believe Pat and I witnessed part of that dying in the mid-seventies when the Travellers got portable televisions and stopped singing (except to pests with tape recorders).
My late friend and neighbour Tom Munnelly, one of the greatest folk song collectors in these islands with 22,000 songs under his belt, as far back as the early 70s described his work as "a race with the undertaker". His field-work finally dried up altogether in the mid-nineties.
.............. but perhaps that's an argument for another time.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 03:49 AM

Thanks for this Jim. May I say I have the greatest respect for your feelings, and understand entirely why you take the stance you do.

That said, if one merely does a 'replace' operation on any of your posts, and substitutes the word 'tradtion/al' for 'folk' all of the disagreement disappears at once.

I think the most telling contribution on this page comes from Sue Allen: "The IFMC morphed at a later date - snip - into the International Council for Traditional Music."

That says it all for me.

As I've said, I wasn't involved in this music in the 80s - but I don't think it was the admission on non-54 music into folk clubs that caused the decline. From the start of the revival many clubs admitted blues and skiffle and music hall and all sorts - and I don't think the repertoire changed in the 80s, or since. If you look at the national picture over the whole half century the songs have come and gone out of fashion, but the styles are largely the same.

Other factors have affected the health of clubs.

Maybe you are basing your views on your own experience in the clubs you frequented. As I say I wasn't there in the middle - but I hear much the same stuff in clubs now as I did in the 60s and 70s. All that's changed is that we say trad when we used to say folk.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 04:04 AM

I too would like to compliment you on your latest post Jim, and like Tom, I also hold the greatest respect for your views, the more so as I stand further back than Tom in my knowledge and experience of the genre. And I think folk (note the absence of quotes) is all the better for having passionate supporters like you. Put it this way - I'd rather be arguing with you about these things, than not, if you get my drift.

Have a good day now, and I'll catch up with the thread later, the day job calls, you know how it is, pens to pilfer, social evils to commit, environments to pollute... an office worker's work is never done.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 04:07 AM

Steve if you wish to believe that we still have a living tradition and that the Victorian and Music Hall songs are part of it, of course you are very welcome to do so.

The 54 definition is capacious enough to include music hall songs, isn't it? Just as long as you get them from someone else (who got them from someone else), rather than out of the library.

I take your broader point, though - I know I'm not part of any living tradition or even a witness to one. As Sedayne said upthread, we're essentially running a museum, albeit an unusually rich and lively one. That thought should probably prompt mourning as well as celebration.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 05:04 AM

I would like to endorse the comments above. Jim, I have the greatest respect for your work with the tradition and fully understand the point of view you are coming from.

I think you must have been unlucky with the folk clubs you went to. I regularly went to folk clubs for about 20 years, starting in about 1970. The range of music was very wide, but was substantially 1954 folk, albeit mostly performed by revival performers rather than true traditional singers. But I was lucky enough to see the Coppers, Fred Jordan, Walter Pardon and a number of others.

But in addition to this there was a range of other music, not traditional but which was in some way acceptable to a folk audience. Not all of it was to my taste, but the same can be said for 1954 folk as well.

The reasons for the decline of the folk clubs is a subject for another thread, but I believe it was largely down to economic factors and other demands on the time and money of both club audiences and organisers. The clubs that survive are often singers clubs - on the few occasions I now visit I find the range of material is no different from the heyday in the 1970s and 80s, but they can't afford to book professionals so the standard is often lower.

I'm sorry Jim, but you are wrong when you say that the idea of "folk" has not changed. It hasn't changed for people like you, who are deeply involved with traditional music, but it has for other people. The 1954 definition is still valid, but the term "folk music" which it was applied to has moved into the general language and acquired a broader meaning.

I don't think the "other folk music" is trying to pretend it comes into the 1954 definition, but the folk revival was always willing to embrace other music besides strict 1954. As, of course, were many traditional singers, who often had music hall and popular songs in their repertoire alongside true "folk songs" and often recognised the distinction between them. So this is nothing new.

Let us suppose that "folk music" had kept its strict 1954 meaning. I think the folk revival would still have embraced Bob Dylan, Ralph McTell etc because it saw a relationship with 1954 folk that brought it into the tent. The folk clubs were always about performance and entertainment rather than the study of folk song. They might have had to be called "folk and XXXX clubs", just as the early ones were known as "folk and blues" clubs, but the range of music would be the same.

If people ask me what sort of music I play, I tell them "folk music". They understand this, in a vague sort of way. If I told them "traditional music" I would have to explain what I meant. If I tried to give them the 1954 definition their eyes would glaze over. To them the distinction is meaningless.

As I said, Jim, this is with the greatest respect to your point of view. No one is saying you can't "folk music" in its 1954 sense, it will always be clear, if only from the context, what you mean. But you can't stop others from using it differently - again, it is usually clear from the context what they mean. We could wish for greater precision in the language, but that's not how it evolves.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 08:02 AM

Jim Carroll

"Were the communities that the songs were collected from were represented at Sao Paulo?"
No they weren't, and I find the suggestion that they should have been somewhat odd.
As much as I admired Sam Larner and Phil Tanner, I couldn't imagine them to speak on behalf of say a Lancashire weaving community or a Durham mining village, let alone communities in Spain, Finland, Rumaina... and all the other places covered by the definition.


But Cecil Sharp can speak on behalf of Norfolk fishermen, Maud Karpeles on behalf of Gower farm labourers?

You previously said "Any definition of a specific activity must surely be that which is articulated by its practitioners (and articulators)."

To my mind,Sam Larner, Phil Tanner, the Coppers, Fred Jordan, Walter Pardon... are the practicioners but it is "somewhat odd" to suggest that they should have been involved in Sao Paulo. It seems that the articulators (whoever they are) are the only ones that matter.

I would suggest that any challenge would be best aimed at the definition itself rather than the somewhat ingenuous approach of undermining the authority of its authors.

I am not undermining their authority to define the music, just the authority to define the meaning of words already in use in the English language. "Folk" had been in use for a long time before 1954. You bizarrely say that your 19th century books "will cease to have a meaning" if the definition is abandoned. Had they been meaningless for the previous hundred years? Woody Guthrie was known as a folk singer. He was 42 in 1954.

The definition is fine, it's just the claim to exclusive use of the
word that causes problems.

Incidentally, the programme at the Royal Oak last night (guests Judy and Dennis Cook) included versions of Lady Isabel and the Elf Knight (Child #4), Sir Patrick Spens (Child #58) and Jellon Grame (Child #90) as well as many other traditional songs and tunes. Nobody sang a Beatles song, I haven't heard one in a folk club for about twelve years. There were some non-traditional songs from 19th C to modern and the evening was rounded off with Ta Ra Ra Boom Di Ay. I really don't think this did any damage to folk music.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Jun 08 - 03:27 PM

Jim,
I empathise with the majority of what you are saying. I am also aware that a different state of affairs exists in Ireland where there has long been a strong tradition of song making independent of the broadside press, but in the rest of Britain and in Dublin/Cork/Belfast at least 90% of what we call folk song/traditional either started out on a commercial printed broadside, or had been substantially helped along by its being printed on a broadside. These then were the pop songs c1800-1850.
Yes what makes them folk is the fact that to some degree or other they have been passed on aurally, but so have many Music Hall songs and even the likes of Sharp and Broadwood couldn't filter them all out. There are some in their collections, Common Bill, Jim the Carter's Lad, The Country Carrier, etc, etc. John Howson's 'Songs Sung in Suffolk' probably has a majority of these sort of songs.

Even the Child Ballads (gasp!), about a third owe their lives to those revolting broadsides Child so detested. Some of them even originated as broadside ballads. All of the Robin Hood ballads for instance.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 03:33 AM

Steve,
I am aware of the printed circulation of the songs and ballads; one of our Traveller singers was active in the trade and gave us a great deal of information on the process.
Surely it's not how a folk song originated (of which we know virtually nothing), but what happens to it when it leaves home - so to speak.
In my experience, not only are the composers of the music hall pieces usually known, but the songs tend to remain static and unadapted to any significant degree. There are exceptions of course, but I have usually found it a fairly common tendency.
I once thumbed through, but didn't get the chance to read fully, an old friend, Bob Thomson's thesis on the influence of broadsides on local singing traditions. I think there is a copy at C# House.
Once again, Walter Pardon had a fair amount to say on the differences between "the old folk songs", music hall, and Victorian parlour ballads, all of which were included in his own repertoire.
Snail and all,
Sorry, I'm not ignoring your postings - will respond when I've recovered from my recent bout of 'shell-shock'. Thank's for once again giving me much to think about.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: mark gregory
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 05:34 AM

The 1954 definition was an improvement on what came before it in a number of ways ... it had an international focus, it was more inclined to allow in literary sources or was more aware that there had not been a purely oral culture for a very long time.

I first read about it in Lloyd's Folk Song in England

Reading and rereading through articles written by Bert Lloyd I found his 1979 definition of 'Folk Song' in a collection called Folk Music in School (p10)

"I would suggest that nowadays by 'folk' we understand groups of
people united by shared experience and common attitudes, skills, interests and aims.
These shared attributes become elaborated, sanctioned, stabilised by
the group over a period of time. Any such group, with communally
shaped cultural traits arising 'from below' and fashioned by
'insiders', might be a suitable subject for folklore studies. Some of
these groups may be rich in oral folklore (anecdotes, speechways,
etc.) but deficient in songs; others may be specially notable for
superstitions and customs. Perhaps for English society the most
clearly defined of such groups are those attached to various basic
industries: for example, miners with their special attitudes, customs,
lore and language, song culture and such. But it will be seen that my
suggestion does not rule out the possibility of regarding hitherto
unexplored fields, such as the realms of students, actors, bank
clerks, paratroopers, hospital nurses, as suitable territory for the
folklorist to survey.

The present-day folklorist, who views the problem in its social
entirety, and extends his researches into the process by which
traditional folklore becomes adapted to the conditions of modern
industrial life, has to consider the classic 'peasant' traditions as
being but a part - the lower limit, if you like - of a process by
which folklore becomes an urban popular affair. Indeed, as far as song
is concerned, that is the present stage of folklore development:
nowadays there is far greater use of the folk-song repertory and of
folkloric forms of creation in our industrial towns than in the
countryside."

Seems to me to be pretty broad but not so broad as to become meaningless and to take into account an understanding of the importance of industrial folk song or folk music in an idustrialised era.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Jun 08 - 06:15 PM

Mark Gregory,do you believe that what Bert said was true? THIS:
Indeed, as far as song
is concerned, that is the present stage of folklore development:
nowadays there is far greater use of the folk-song repertory and of
folkloric forms of creation in our industrial towns than in the
countryside."

Seems to me to be pretty broad but not so broad as to become meaningless and to take into account an understanding of the importance of industrial folk song or folk music in an industrialised era.
Doubts about some of Berts scholarship exist ,some of his own songs have been passed off by him as traditional .


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: trevek
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 01:59 PM

The ICTM stated aims are quite different, it seems:
"The aims of the ICTM are to further the study, practice, documentation, preservation and dissemination of traditional music, including folk, popular, classical and urban music, and dance of all countries."

The use of the word "presrvation" interests me? How far does the preservation go?

Jim said: "I believe the tradition died when people stopped making and adapting songs and became recipients of rather than participants in their culture."

A good point. In theatre circles I've heard this called "spoonfeeding". I think we can couple this to the increase in recording of information. At one point people might hear a song and learn it without any idea (or care?) of whom the originator was. Now, not only is it easier to find the author it is a risky business to change words. If I were to change the words to a Burns song because I preferred a change I would be bounced on by a million Burns fans. I wonder how many people have been told they got the words to "No Man's Land" wrong because they didn't sing the Fureys' version.


Capt Birdseye: Indeed, as far as song
is concerned, that is the present stage of folklore development:
nowadays there is far greater use of the folk-song repertory and of
folkloric forms of creation in our industrial towns than in the
countryside."

In Poland (and east/Central Europe), in the 1980's there began a kind of anti-folklore ('fake-lore'), sometimes called 'post-folklore' where ordinary musicians and theatre-performers began to research old village music by seeking it out and learning it from the old musicians. Some of these researchers later developed schools for teaching the songs and singing techniques (as well as tunes/playing techniques). In my experience (albeit limited) most of the students of these techniques (and some of the teachers) are townies.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 05:37 PM

Snail:
"But Cecil Sharp can speak on behalf of Norfolk fishermen, Maud Karpeles on behalf of Gower farm labourers?"
The 1954 definition, from which most dictionary definitions are derived, was arrived at by the pooling of knowledge and experience of those working in the field. It reached far beyond the people present and took into consideration the work of people like Kidson, Broadwood, Vaughan Williams, Butterworth... (the articulators) all of whom had presumably gathered information from their informants. This would have been the case in the other countries represented. It was not an attempt to define the individual communities – fishing, mining etc.; rather it was an attempt to make sense of a world-wide phenomenon based on the information gathered by those working in the field.
If these people were not qualified to make an assessment – who would you suggest was more suited to the job? – or was anybody qualified? Was the job worth doing at all? If they got it wrong, where?
""Folk" had been in use for a long time before 1954...... exclusive use of the word that causes problems."
The relevant definition of folk as applied to music, tales, superstitions, art..... according to my dictionaries anyway is "occurring in, originating among, belonging to the common people. For full discussion of the term in this context, see Funk and Wagnall's 'Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend', under song, music, lore, customs tales dance....etc.
If that is correct – how does it fit in with your new re/non definition; if it isn't - why?
Howard:
"I think you must have been unlucky with the folk clubs you went to."
As I said, I finally stopped going to clubs when I came away not having heard a folk song, or anything that resembles one. Everything I learn about today's scene, including from discussions like these, convinces me that not only haven't things improved in this respect, but have, if anything, got worse – if that were possible. Not to say that there aren't clubs putting on the real stuff, just that my neighbour's hens have more teeth.....! That is why the clubs declined. In my experience the best of the clubs survived on the talents of their residents. Good guests were an added bonus.   
"the folk revival would still have embraced Bob Dylan, Ralph McTell etc"
You might well be right about Dylan – as he was thirty years ago. Eventually he dropped any connection with folk and his music drew more on pop – McTell never used, or pretended to use folk forms.
"you are wrong when you say that the idea of "folk" has not changed."
The persistent mantra that 'people' (what people?) have a different idea of folk music (I think Tom Bliss quoted the figure of 64 million) will never make it true unless you produce your examples. When I was working in the UK I would make a point of talking about my interest to the people I worked with (they often heard me singing at work). If I told people that it was 'traditional' you could almost see their eyes glaze over; if I said it was 'folk' there would be some recognition. (whoops – I appear to be repeating exactly what you said yourself – "If I told them "traditional music" I would have to explain what I meant.") I am not claiming that there was a complete understanding, but at least I had a toe-hold into a conversation. Now apparently, I am expected to abandon even that toe-hold in favour of...... what? If there is a 'broader meaning' what is it, and why should I accept it if is proposers are incapable of articulating it.
If anybody is really interested in the subject I can take any of 100 or so books off my shelf to help them understand, or I could give them the Caedmon, 'Folk Songs of Britain' series, or 'The Voice of The People' (wonderful name that!) both with examples and, clear explanatory notes. What could you give them; what does the word 'folk' signify in your definition?
When push comes to shove, why is all this important?
For a very basic start – when I buy something I want to know what I am getting – at a club or on an album; your non definition does not supply that information.
On a more mundane note – financing our habit!
Here in Ireland the music is on a roll at present (not so much the song – but even that is infinitely better that it appears to be in the UK).
In twenty years we have moved from it being the despised 'diddly-di' music to it being recognised as a significantly important art form. It can be viewed half a dozen times a week on television, both in session and concert form and in serious documentary programmes. We are at present in the middle of a series dealing with regional musical styles. There have been documentaries on performers such as Joe Heaney, Seamus Ennis, Luke Kelly, Pecker Dunn, Maggie Barry, Sarah Makem, Sarah Ann O'Neill..... and numerous others. Radio stations devote large chunks of their programming to playing and discussing the music most nights of the week. At the moment we are in the middle of being interviewed for a series of three radio programmes on the Travellers we recorded in London for the Irish equivalent of Classic FM.
Ireland has two magnificent archives, one at the Folklore Department, the other, The Irish Traditional Music Archive, in the centre of Dublin, which was originally opened by the then President of Ireland, then re-opened when it moved by the current Arts Minister. The latter is recognised as probably the best in Europe, and is of world class. Local archives are beginning to spring up all over the country – we have just purchased premises here in Miltown Malbay to house an archive, library and visitors centre devoted to Clare music, song and lore. The town continues to host an annual week-long school, now in its 34th year, dedicated to local piper, Willie Clancy and teaching all the traditional instruments. Young musicians who we remember as pupils in past years are now taking classes themselves, guaranteeing that the music will continue to be played by at least the next two generations.......
None of this is by any means perfect, but compared to what is happening in the UK, we've all died and gone to a very rich musical heaven!
This has been done by a handful of dedicated individuals who know exactly what they mean, are very clear about their objectives and have dedicated huge chunks of their time and energy into achieving those objectives. It certainly has not been achieved by people whingeing about 57 verse ballads, boring folk songs, fingers-in-ears, purists, folk-police, or any other epithets that seem to take up so much of many U.K. folkies time and energy.
Finally – (t. b. t. g.) – on a personal note.
As I said earlier, the term folk was chosen originally to denote material that "originating among, belonged to the common people".
I was once told by my teacher that all I needed to know when I left school was to "tot up my wages at the end of each week to make sure they were correct". I have gone through life being told that 'ordinary' people like me are incapable of producing great art.
My involvement with MacColl, and to a lesser degree, my contact with Lloyd not only provided me with wonderful entertainment and aroused my curiosity enough to prod me into finding out about this 'folk' stuff. It also gave me a great buzz when I realised that it was 'ordinary' people like me who gave us all the magnificent songs, music and stories – folk music says it all in a couple of words.
Sorry to have gone on at such great length – it's a big subject and I appear to be incapable of writing short letters.
Off to Youghal tomorrow for a couple of days, so we can all recuperate from my verbosity.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Jun 08 - 07:04 PM

JIM CARROLL said.McTell never used, or pretended to use folk forms.
what a load of rubbish[Ralph Mctell aka RalphMay]played Blind Blake imitations on his guitar,and very well too,he took his stage name from the blues singer Blind Willie Mctell,blues is a folk form.
You are clearly not very well acquainted with Ralph mctell.
you are also not clearly acquainted with his songwriting,which he brought into his folk club act gradually,and which is heavily influenced by folk forms.,even if his songs are influenced by American folk forms,it is still a folk form.The song about Craig and Bentley is acase in point Album: Other Song Lyrics
Title: Bentley And Craig   Print
Correct


Complimentary "Bentley And Craig" Ringtone


BENTLEY AND CRAIG

Ralph McTell

In 1952 in Croydon
There was bomb sites still around from the war
November that year food was scarcely off the ration
Two boys went out to rob a store.

Craig he was just about sixteen years old
Bentley he was nineteen
But Craig had a shooter stuck in his pocket
Mad him feel more like a man.

Out on the roof of Barlow and Parker
Somebody saw them there
In a matter of minutes the police had arrived
And when they saw them you can bet those boys were scared.

Craig he shouted that he had a gun
And he thought about the movies that he'd seen
Back at Fell Road they signed the rifles out
And arrived very quick back on the scene.

Some of the police got onto the rooftop
Bentley knew that he could not escape
So he gave himself up and they put him under arrest
And he begged his young friend Chris won't you do the same.

Give me the gun the sergeant cried
Let him have it Chris poor Bentley said
But a shot rang out well it tore the night in half
Well the poor policeman was lying there dead.

Some people said it was a bullet from Craig's gun
That laid that policeman away
Some people said it was a police marksman's bullet
Some people said it could be a ricochet.

Both was found guilty of murder Craig he was too young not yet a man
Though he was under arrest when the fatal shot was fired
Derek Bentley was judged old enough to hang
Bentley he was judged to be a man.

Twenty three of January in Wandsworth prison
When they took poor Bentley's life
Some people shouted and some people prayed
Some people just hung their heads and cried.

Oh you men on our behalf who sanctioned that boy's death
There's still one thing left to do
You can pardon Derek Bentley who never took a life
For Derek Bentley cannot pardon you

Derek Bentley cannot pardon you.
Dick Miles.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 03:23 AM

Cap'n
I confess I am not that familiar with McTell's music - the only examples I heard to any great length were the few on the radio and the interminable 'Streets of London'.
I was basing my judgment on what he performed when he (fairly regularly) visited the West London Irish Traditional Music Association (the branch of CCE that was expelled). McTell was a great supporter of Irish music.
That bore no resemblance whatever to folk music as I knew it.
However, I'm happy to bow to your greater knowledge - my apologies.
I did intend to raise one point you made earlier, but my last posting was already far too long. Regarding Bert Lloyd, you wrote:
"Doubts about some of Berts scholarship exist ,some of his own songs have been passed off by him as traditional."
I was extremely grateful to Mark Gregory for posting a quote from Bert that I either hadn't come across before, or that I had forgotten.
While I have some queries about parts of Bert's statement (I tend to believe that communities must have more in common that attending the same office each morning), much of the quote makes sense to me.
Are you saying that you disagree with the statement - if so, what are your objections?
On the other hand, are you suggesting that because Bert did some things we wouldn't necessarily approve of, that we must reject everything he says. This latter, in my opinion, seems an extremely draconian stance to take towards someone who did more to give us the music we listen to than the whole of the Mudcat membership rolled in one.
It always seems a particularly facile and unfair method of argument to attack the person making the statement rather than the statement itself.
Will look forward to reading your response when I get back
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 04:17 AM

I am agreat admirer of Bert Lloyd.
it was just a statement of fact.,but I think once someone has been dishonest, all statements made by that person have to be scriutinised carefully,so no I dont believe we reject everything Bert LLoyd said,we just need to examine it carefully because he has been academically dishonest.
I am not attacking anyone.
if you are not familiar with Mctells music you should keep quiet.DickMiles


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 05:31 AM

On Bert Lloyd, this sentence jumped out at me:

Perhaps for English society the most clearly defined of such groups are those attached to various basic industries: for example, miners with their special attitudes, customs, lore and language, song culture and such.

Lloyd uses miners as a strong example of the kind of contemporary 'folk' community he's proposing. But some of the criticism of Lloyd's work has attached specifically to the miners' songs he collected, or claimed to have collected. I haven't studied the CAYBM material, but we know The Recruited Collier" wasn't what he claimed it to be, & doubts have been raised over The Blackleg Miner. So I think it is reasonable to relate Lloyd's philosophy of contemporary folk back to the doubts over Lloyd's scholarship (which I seem to remember Dick challenging the last time we discussed this!).


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 08:52 AM

Phil,Iprobably did,but other peoples arguments convinced me.yours sincerely, Egotistical Twat,aka Dick Miles.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,ESAM
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 09:21 AM

"Egotistical Twat,aka Dick Miles"...

Now really, Dick! You'll be scourging yourself with briars next!


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 10:01 AM

'the term folk was chosen originally to denote material that "originating among, belonged to the common people'

Shaped by the common people but NOT necessarily originating among.

Jim, I agree with the rest of your long posting.
Steve


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Stringsinger
Date: 09 Jun 08 - 05:42 PM

"'A definition isn't imposed - it defines.'
but it's who sets the definition that matters."

Kinda' like Stalin when he says something like it's not who votes but those who count the votes that counts.

A definition is arbitrary depending on the agenda of the creator. Webster's has been upgraded considerably. There is little unanimity.

Folk is not limited to gigs. It has a broader reach. Folk is a bird in flight. A song on a page is a photo of a bird in flight. It changes as people change but is not frozen in time.

It involves a community. A business is not a community. Show business is not a community but a commodity.

Folk music has to be accessible to anyone otherwise it is "art" or "elite" expressions of art.
It also must be accepted by many to find longevity.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 10 Jun 08 - 07:37 PM

Jim Carroll
"But Cecil Sharp can speak on behalf of Norfolk fishermen, Maud Karpeles on behalf of Gower farm labourers?"
The 1954 definition, from which most dictionary definitions are derived, was arrived at by the pooling of knowledge and experience of those working in the field. It reached far beyond the people present and took into consideration the work of people like Kidson, Broadwood, Vaughan Williams, Butterworth... (the articulators) all of whom had presumably gathered information from their informants. This would have been the case in the other countries represented. It was not an attempt to define the individual communities – fishing, mining etc.; rather it was an attempt to make sense of a world-wide phenomenon based on the information gathered by those working in the field.
If these people were not qualified to make an assessment – who would you suggest was more suited to the job? – or was anybody qualified? Was the job worth doing at all? If they got it wrong, where?
""Folk" had been in use for a long time before 1954...... exclusive use of the word that causes problems."
The relevant definition of folk as applied to music, tales, superstitions, art..... according to my dictionaries anyway is "occurring in, originating among, belonging to the common people. For full discussion of the term in this context, see Funk and Wagnall's 'Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend', under song, music, lore, customs tales dance....etc.
If that is correct – how does it fit in with your new re/non definition; if it isn't - why?


I have agonised about how to reply to this. Perhaps the phrases I have highlighted will help make my point.

I find it hard to make you out, Jim. At times, you speak with passion and admiration for the people that you have collected songs from; at others, you seem to be dismissive of them, thinking it "somewhat odd" that they could be expected to speak for themselves.

Earlier you said -

As I understand it, the established definition was drawn up by people working in the subject; basically by those who supplied us with the raw material in the first place.

Really? Who supplied us with The Seeds of Love, Cecil Sharp or John England?

Was the job worth doing at all?

A good question. The "practitioners" had managed perfectly well without it for hundreds of years. I don't think they relied on von Herder or Funk and Wagnall to tell them what it was they were doing. Clearly, it is of use to the folklorists who coined it for discussion amongst themselves and it is of interest to those of us who have followed after. I think we would call ourselves "enthusiasts" and we tend to use the term "traditional" to distinguish from the widely used (and rather vague) term "folk".

how does it fit in with your new re/non definition

I don't have a definition. I have no authority to impose one. I simply have to listen and interpret what people are saying in context. Language evolves.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 02:56 AM

Tom B, 5/6/08:

"to Jim, and others who agree with him, the word folk is welded to the 54 definition. Therefore if some music is described as folk, then, to them, this means that the music is being included (or is hoped to be included, in their eyes) within that definition. And this makes them unhappy, and a little bit cross.

"To me, and others if like mind, it is not. It is merely that the meaning of the WORD folk has been expanded to include this other music, leaving the 54 definition intact, but now with a new label: Traditional."

Jim Carroll, 4/10/2003:

"It is many years now since I more-or-less abandoned the term folk song because of the confusion that had been caused by its constant misuse. Now it seems the same confusion has grown up around the term traditional. "


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 04:04 AM

I'm not quite sure what you are saying here Phil, though your post does flag up one point that I've subjugated in my arguments above for the sake of clarity (though I've expounded on it at length elsewhere) - and I suspect this is also what Jim's referring to in your rather out-of-context quote.

This is that there are at least two interpretations of the word 'traditional' too. So it's not cut and dried!

The dichotomy is not as wide as that between the two main meanings of the word 'folk' but it does throw up its own set of problems and confusions.

One group of people use the T word specifically to mean the 54 definition. I tend to this camp as can be seen above, and I opt to use a capital T, or 'THE Tradition' when I'm referring to this meaning to try to help with clarification. I think there's some consensus within this group that because the Trad process was largely killed off by the advent of 20th century technology, and all that went with it, 'Trad' today mainly refers to a specific repertoire, which is now largely a closed book (even though we may dispute the contents at times)!

The other group use the word traditional in a more general way. They'd include all the above, but fell that the '54 folk process' did not stop with the advent of recording technology, because that it is the community process which defines the tradition - not the oral-only element. This group therefore allow quite a few contemporary songs to be called traditional, as long as they've been taken up by a community, and/or are associated with some traditional activity. This, of course, is one of the ways that the 54 definition was eroded in the first place (it wasn't just artists jumping on a bandwagon)

To give an example: Happy Birthday is not trad to group one, but it is to group two. And that goes for Fiddlers Green as well.

Anyway - does this all matter? Not much, as long as people respect the other guy's viewpoint, don't mud-sling, and attribute sources correctly (and, ideally, habitually).

Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 05:07 AM

My point was that back in 2003 Jim seemed resigned to losing the word 'folk' (for the 54 definition) and using 'traditional' instead - precisely the position you've been arguing here & he's been resisting.

If we were arguing about the meaning of the word 'traditional', I'd probably be in group 1 along with both you and Jim. But we've been arguing about the word 'folk', which I find a bit odd in the light of that 2003 article.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,TREV
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 08:09 AM

Surely the point is that because the world and the transmission of music and songs have changed then the terms need reappraisal.

100 years ago I don't imagine many folk singers bought a book of traditional tunes in Waterstones. they might not have the access to variants and research which a singer can have today. Also, the wider access to material and info by an audience erodes the idea of oral transmission being the main form of transmission.

Also, might we argue that any song written today might be considered for electronic media...


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 09:32 AM

This is where trying to define something can end up in nonsense. "Happy Birthday" isn't traditional because (leaving aside the fact that it's still in copyright) it hasn't undergone a process of change by the community - everyone knows the same the tune and words. However it's hard to deny that there is a "tradition" of singing the song on someone's birthday - such a strong one in fact that it now crosses boundaries and cultures. So if it's part of a tradition, should it be considerd a traditional song?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Black Hawk on works PC
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 09:39 AM

In one sense Happy Birthday is evolving everytime it is sung as the name changes each time.
And it is always by aural transmission.
L.O.L.
Someone once said they knew all the words & I asked them what the words would be on my daughters birthday. They didnt know.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 01:58 PM

At the risk of repeating myself: The English language is evolving all the time. We can be unhappy about this or we can be happy about it BUT we can do very little about it as individuals so we might as well learn to accept it. A sensible way forward for all of us here is to accept the wider usage and meanings of both words and come to an understanding among ourselves about what we mean by them when we discuss them on forums like this one.

Of course 'Happy Birthday' is traditional in almost every sense. It doesn't alter (apart from in the very humorous way mentioned above)simply because it is very brief, easily remembered and is in constant use. this hardly disqualifies it from being traditional and the fact that we know its origins is totally irrelevant.

SteveG


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 02:07 PM

Heehee - see what I mean?

Steve is 100% correct - as a member of 'Group 2'

However Group 1 might point to this phrase:

"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"

and rule it out - along with Music Hall, O'Carolan, Jez Lowe, Lennon/McCartney etc etc etc.

So yes - the important thing is indeed to 'accept the wider usage and meanings of both words and come to an understanding among ourselves about what we mean by them' - only that's not as easy as it looks on paper.

Me, I wish there were specific words for all these things. Not to prevent arguments on web forums but so we'd have a leg to stand on when dealing with funding bodies and PRS and all of that stuff.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: trevek
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 04:21 PM

"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"

How does this work with obscure or obselete songs or tunes which are discovered and printed and then adopted by the (imagined) community of folk-singers?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 05:22 PM

"How does this work with obscure or obselete songs or tunes which are discovered and printed and then adopted by the (imagined) community of folk-singers?"

Good question.

As I've said elsewhere, in my opinion the 54 definition should ideally have included a caveat to ensure that the oral process was always studied in its true context, with the influence of recorded/printed material and the role of trade musicians properly recognised. The wording of the definition suggests that they didn't do this only because they took the context as read, and were needing to focus specifically on the oral community process.

However, sadly, this omission has contributed to a certain romanticisation of the process and the communities involved, which is unhelpful in terms of understanding how the songs were actually created and evolved, and which leaves us today with a residual feeling among some that trade musicians are of less worth than they deserve to be.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jun 08 - 07:13 PM

and which leaves us today with a residual feeling among some that trade musicians are of less worth than they deserve to be.

Tom .
could that some, include Jim Carroll?


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 03:03 AM

I'm sure Jim can speak for himself. I'd certainly not accuse him of failing to recognise the worth of trade musicians. His issue is different and well detailed above.

There are however a significant number of people (a group well-represented on internet forums) who delight in a 'hsibbons' view of trade music. They suggest, for example, that the influence of commerce is damaging to the tradition, that professionalism is a kind of prostitution, that the registration of arrangements is a kind of theft, that anyone wanting to make a living at music is only in it for the money (rather than a committed artist), that doing it well is bad, that being innovative is bad, that concerts are a betrayal of the song-handing ethos, and so on and on and on.

A caveat might have helped to keep things in perspective, and encourage everyone to recognise that pro and am have always been the yin and yang of folk. And remain so today.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 03:55 AM

There are so many contradictions in the application of the word Folk it's hard to know where to begin. If we accept that traditional singers and musicians were largely unpaid, apart from beer money perhaps and of the community, it would be in keeping for their contemporary equivalents to spread the music through the same values. Except a new cadre of professional traditional musician has appeared who is a hybrid of entertainer - with the norms of pay expected within the industry - and collector of songs.

The only rational conclusion is to acknowledge folk as another musical genre and treat it accordingly. Arguing for special status for 'Folk' will place it under re-enactment for the temporary amusement of people passing though national trust properties, industrial museums and the like (no doubt with full period dress, wigs, prithees, etc).

Some musicians stick close to traditional presentations by being a busker of one kind or another, or getting a guitar out in the pub garden for the amusement of their peers but what we're talking about are people who 'perform' 'professionally'. My taste doesn't run to Beatles songs, American Pie, Streets of London but within a professional form of presentation there can be no difference between those songs and traditional material, it's all generic music for a paid audience by tax paying performers.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 03:59 AM

That should be 'paying audience' of course.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 04:12 AM

Glueman is right.

"Folk music" exists in two quite separate environments. One is the "tradition", the 1954 definition where songs and tunes evolve and are transmitted within a community. The other is as a genre of entertainment (however much some may dislike the idea) which is identified ("defined" is too strong and implies too much precision) by a certain style of performance rather than the origin of the material.

Is it correct though that traditional musicians were largely unpaid? We know that instrumentalists like Scan Tester were very active providing music for all sorts of social occasions and would be paid for this, whether in kind or cash from a collection. It was never enough to make a living from, but the same applies to many "professional" performers today.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 04:28 AM

We're going over well-trodden ground here again Glueman, but I think it's been established beyond reasonable doubt that the 'professional traditional musician' is not a new phenomenon. Any period you look at in history you'll find trade musicians making a significant contribution and providing major influence. Some even argue that all the non-trade system has done is encourage songs to fall into disrepair, and that it was always the working chaps (or those with a 'trade' attitude) who did the making, the mending and the significant disseminating. And yes, Howard, we do know that the better non-trade musicians did win rewards on occasion (just as trade musicians did - and still do - play for fun as well as reward). It's all mixed up together. What we have here is yin and yang - or maybe two dimensions - X and Y. You can take any folk event, or person, or song, or whatever you like and plot it on that pro/am graph. But it won't stay there long, because it's a dynamic system and everything's tumbling down the stream all the time. And that's what makes it special. Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 05:21 AM

It may be old ground TB but a fair proportion of Mudcat is devoted to picking the scab of definitions. Those taxonomies depend on the other expenditure of heat and light on this board - the value of modern performers.

If one end of the folk specrum is occupied by those who believe 1954 has it bang to rights, money has next to no place in the equation. Neither 'quality', 'professionalism' or any of the contemporary totems of public performance. That is what gives folk its uniqueness. Once a fiscal value is placed on the rendition Yellow Submarine occupies the same marketplace as a sea shanty, there can be no third way. That people gripe about their value is only human nature but by even attempting to put a cash equivalence on a folk performance they're entering a public arena dominated by market forces and the market for traditional pieces is a very limited one.

The sensible conclusion is that folk simultaneously occupies multiple agendas which are defined largely by taste.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: glueman
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 05:49 AM

I should add that I agree money has always played a part in performance which is where I find 1954 definitions partial. It beggars belief that exemplary tunesmiths with wide collections of music for each occasion and access to large public gatherings - horsefairs, hangings, festivals - would not have received recompense for their work. Nevertheless, the central nature of money to the folk revival points towards more renditions of Scarborough Fair of the Simon and Garfunkel variety, highly arranged, harmonised nearer to the Everly Brothers than traditional tonal difference and majoring on the market status of the performer. In other words pop.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 12:41 PM

Would like time to read through what has been sent since I went away.
In the meantime:
Cap'n
"if you are not familiar with Mctells music you should keep quiet.DickMiles"
I would be grateful if you didn't make this another of your pissing competitions.
If we were to obey your edict, I'm afraid very few of us would have very little to say about anything, including (some would say especially) the RH Member for West Cork.
To err is human - to forgive is divine
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 01:13 PM

Jim,it takes two to tango.
one of the good things about this forum is the passing on of information,particualarly learning of musical techniques.
the downside is ill informed comments.
Ralph Mctell is a fine songwriterwho did/does use folk forms.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 03:03 PM

Sorry to bleat on about the commercial influences on folk song but a large slice of those variations in text we so readily covet are directly down to professional ballad hacks who sometimes collected from oral tradition, sometimes wholesale rewrote ballads for their paymasters, the broadside printers, and sometimes simply pirated them from other printers. Sometimes the ballad sellers were at once collectors and disseminators. The Glasgow Poets Box c1850-1880 was typical. The 'Poet' actively advertised for new songs and old and people would take into his office the latest music hall songs, songs straight from oral tradition and songs printed by other printers, for a small remuneration.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 04:15 PM

Steve,
On the other hand - some time in the late 60s a song was composed about a 'made match' between two Travellers. 'Made matches', marriages agreed by the parents of the couple and finalised by a go-between 'matchmaker' (usually with the complete agreement of the couple) were common in rural Ireland right up to the 50s and among Travellers possibly into the 70s. It was said to have been made up on the day of the wedding by a group of guests. Nobody knows who the makers were; so far we have come across around eight versions of the song.
I have no doubt that what you say is correct but I would suggest that the vast majority of versions of folk songs are down to the oral tradition (which I am quite sure you are not doubting the existence of).
Work we did in West Clare points to the fact that not only was the oral tradition very strong here, but songs learned from 'ballads' (printed song sheets), underwent significant changes almost immediately after they were taken up.
Exceptions very seldom prove rules.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 04:45 PM

" ...underwent significant changes almost immediately after they were taken up"

I'm sure it did but this always begs the question - but were those changes actually improvements?

I'm forever finding versions of songs which have a crucial fact or notion missing, without which the story no longer makes any sense. But you can tell by the quality of the word-smithing that there was a skilled canny writer behind the original work.

For example: Compare 'The Bloody Gardener' and 'The Bloody Garden.' The Carthy/Swarb version is largely the same as the one Maud Karpeles collected in Newfoundland, in which the motivation of the gardener to killing the girl is not explained (one assumes he was just a psychopath), so when the lad goes home and blames his mum is makes no sense at all (even though she's mentioned in verse one is beng disapproving of the marriage). Yet the Peacock version (also from Newfoundland) has these extra verses - which I'd wager a tenner are by the original writer:

His mother, false and cruel, wrote a letter to his jewel,
And she wrote it in a hand just like his own;
Saying, "Meet me here tonight, meet me here, my heart's delight,
In the garden gay nearby my mother's home."

The gardener agreed oh, with fifty pounds indeed,
To kill this girl and lay her in the ground;
And with flowers fine and gay oh, her grave to overlay,
That way her virgin body ne'er shall be found...

And suddenly it all makes sense.

I'd submit that here the oral process has merely weakened a well-written song, to the point where it no longer holds water from a story-telling point of view (and that was, after all, the whole point).

So why is it that we so often put the process higher than the original creation?

Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 05:21 PM

Tom
"but were those changes actually improvements?"
I don't think that was the point Steve was making; it certainly wasn't mine.
This discussion, as far as I'm concerned, has managed to avoid the subjectivity of personal taste - of which 'improvements' is a prime example, that is what makes it so interesting.
Who are we to say which of the 200 odd versions of Barbara Allen is best, beyond saying which one we prefer.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 05:22 PM

PS
Is there a prize for getting 200?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 06:45 PM

Jim,
Of course the aural process has a great deal to do with the variation, but not as much as most people think. As I said, a large slice is down to the printer's hacks altering and mixing and matching. It would take a mammoth study to actually quantify this or come up with percentages, but I have spent a long time studying and comparing stall versions and I'm convinced their intervention is well understated. In Ireland for instance the likes of Brereton, Haly, Baird, Birmingham were similarly involved in this.

Most of those ballads that came down to us from the 17thc hadn't existed purely in oral tradition for 300 years (although a few had). Hacks and printers themselves were going back to the longer ballads and shortening them for more recent tastes. They often did this by splicing 2 stanzas together to make one, and similar processes. William Taylor for instance had about 30 double verses before it was pared down to the version we are familiar with.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 06:50 PM

I agree that there's a subjective reaction to song which we can't, and indeed shouldn't try to quantify, but we can still do some objective analysis on the lyrics and tune.

And the subjective usually follows the objective, because story song writing is a craft just as much as an art. If you get the construction right the audience will respond - ask any scriptwriter.

There are some basic rules, or shapes, which are universal throughout all story media, and I think it's safe to say that the people who wrote the original versions of the great traditional songs knew what they were doing around these techniques. And we can also look out for things like economic use of language, good similes, creative metaphors, neat rhymes - specially internal rhymes, deliberate assonance and alliterations - because again it's clear that writers from long before Shakespeare knew all about this too, and used these devices to advantage.

Of course it's not easy to decide which section from the many versions we know today are original, but it doesn't take much to work out which versions of a song hold water and which don't.

People do respond emotionally to tunes, and often to an occasion too - so will often bond with the first version of a song they hear. But they can still step back and look at the lyrics objectively and see if the story is well told or not.

This is a bit of an academic pursuit probably only of interest to writers like me, but if you feel about story songs the way I do - where you hate to see even one syllable wasted - then it's inevitable that some versions of old songs will seem somewhat tired and careworn. It's no accident that great interpreters like Martin Carthy and Pete Coe and Chris Foster often take sections from different versions, and also rewrite whole sections - to build a working model: A song that will actually cut ice the way the original writer intended.

I often wonder what the makers actually wrote - and what they'd say now if they could hear their songs today, with half the verses replaced by floaters, key poetic passages upturned and all the torque flopped out of the story.

I know, anal or what - but that's MY passion, you see? My empathy reaches back through time to writers like me. It's only natural really when you think about it

Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Amos
Date: 12 Jun 08 - 07:52 PM

The Ballad of Various Literary Criticisms

Old Pat was plain and sexual,
He warn't no inty-leckshual,
He liked to shout in terms obscene,
At people on the movie screen.
But down at Mudcat, on a break
Someone made a big mistake,
Asked Pat for a literary critique,
Something you should never do.

All the professorŽs swear
They'd heard of his repute somewhere
They only lost the footnote source
When the winds began to blow.

Now Charley, he a can't pick and choose
Every verse, like he useter do,
When Pat produced his grand critique,
It raised a bit of Charley's pique
It was all bullshit, smoke and phlegm
But that didn't matter much to him,
He started writing one himself,
An' we all know how that goes.

All the professorŽs swear
They'd heard of his repute somewhere
They only lost the footnote source
When the winds began to blow.

The critics all ignored old Pat,
And Charley's counterpoint fell flat
On grounds of insufficient charm
And post-deconstructionist alarm.
And Pat, he needs your prayers, it's true
But save a few for Charley, too,
He's writing guidebooks for the Zoo
For the tourists in the spring.

All the professorŽs swear
They'd heard of his repute somewhere
They only lost the footnote source
When the winds began to blow....
Oh, when the winds began to blow....



Franz was getting hot and sore,
Pacing up and down the floor,
Researching antecedents which
He found from 1934.
But Franz could not, for all his tryin'
Get the other guys to buy-in,
He swore Pancho Villa was the key,
But maybe it ain't so...

All the professorés swear
They'd heard of his repute somewhere
They only lost the footnote source
When the winds began to blow.
Ohhhh, ohh, the winds began to blow....

Big Mick lives out on the road,
Carrying a heavy load,
Righting wrongs and fighting lies,
And helping workers organize,
But when the load, it gets too great,
Ole Mick doesn't hesitate,
He tunes in to the folkie's page,
And rests his weary eyes.

All the greedy bosses claim
They're smarter than a Big Mick's brain,
And they only give him what he wants,
Out of kindness, I suppose.

Ole Hawk, he stayed behind in school,
While they taught him not to drool,
Until they turned him out, alone,
To face the cold inside his bones.
He couldn't stand the cold inspections,
And grammar, text and style corrections,
So he dropped out in Canada,
Where no-one knows his past.

The poets sing about the threads
That he fucked up and left for dead,
And where he lives is bitter cold,
And that is how the tale is told.
But Little Hawk still gets his say
--he writes pedantic posts, by day,
They show the latest dusty trace
Of the thumb that's up his ass.

A few old professorŽs claim
They could have understood his brain,
They only had to run away
When the wind began to blow...

The talking turned to bold Rapaire,
And psychobabble filled the air,
He figgered high and he figgered low,
And what he meant, nobody knows.
He said that life was edible,
And said that Spaw was Oedipal,
Then he went off smoking drainpipes,
As the sun was falling low.

All the academics seem
To think they know what he tried to mean,
But they lost their lists of secret memes
When the wind began to blow,
Oh, when the wind began to blow

After all was said and done,
By the sorry light of a setting sun,
Charley Noble stood alone,
Harvesting the long thread home,
And as the sea was turning red,
Charley shook his noble head,
"They've all gone off to other things..."
But that's the way it goes.

A few old professorŽs claim
They understood the singer's brain
But they couldn't find the footnote source
When the winds began to blow,
Oh, woooah, when the winds began to blow...


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 01:51 AM

Sorry Tom,
While I find interesting and agree with most of what you say I'm not sure of its place in this discussion.
"It's no accident that great interpreters like Martin Carthy and Pete Coe and Chris Foster...."
Again, a piece of subjectivity that deserves its own discussion.
Steve:
This part of Ireland and others were heavily influenced by the 'ballad sellers'; ballads like 'Sweet William and Lady Margaret' and 'The Suffolk Miracle' owe their existence to


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 02:15 AM

Whoops - elbow slipped - start again:
Sorry Tom,
While I find interesting and agree with most of what you say I'm not sure of its place in this discussion.
"It's no accident that great interpreters like Martin Carthy and Pete Coe and Chris Foster...."
Again, a piece of subjectivity that deserves its own discussion.
Steve:
This part of Ireland and others were heavily influenced by the 'ballad sellers'. Ballads like 'Sweet William and Lady Margaret' and 'The Suffolk Miracle' owe their existence in this area to the trade. Yet there is little evidence to suggest that the songs that arrived in this manner were sung as they were received, but rather, were heavily adapted/edited by the singers, so much so that in some cases it has been possible to find two distinctive versions of a song from different singers virtually living within walking distance of each other and both having been received from the same source.
Where printed texts were available they were used as a guide rather than gospel. The singers we have found most skillful at adapting songs were Tom Lenihan, Walter Pardon and Martin Reidy all of whom radically adapted received texts (see the magnificent job Walter did on the text of 'Dark Arches' which was supplied by Mike Yates).
The Travellers have probably had the greatest and longest lasting influence on the oral tradition, yet they were almost universally a non-literate community. Ironically, their influence on the singing traditions of the settled communities has been a literary one - through the sale of 'the ballads'.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 03:58 AM

"Where printed texts were available they were used as a guide rather than gospel"

I've worked hard to understand where you're coming from in all this Jim. A song is either a song or it's not. Making adaptations is one thing, but unless you do a major re-write you are still singing an existing song - and you're indebted to the person who made it. If you didn't have it from somewhere you'd not have anything to adapt - so surely the maker is of more importance than any number of adapters? But somehow back there the erosion process has been elevated above the creative one, and this seems bassackwards to me.

Using a text as a guide rather than as gospel is fine and natural - but you're still using the text! How does this 'guide' use negate the existence of the text?

Of course it's hugely rewarding to compare and contrast the many versions of an old song, and of course some versions will work better, or appeal more for one reason or another, than others - and that judgement always will be both subjective and objective.

But a song is a song - and i think the most wonderful thing about the best of these old ones is that they were sufficiently well made for the essence to have survived in many versions, IN SPITE OF the tender mercies of singers through the ages.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 05:51 AM

Tom,
The basic difference between folk and non folk material is that with the former it is highly unlikely that you can trace the author, even when the song appears in print. The ballad sheets were very much a part of the oral process.
The singer we recorded who sold the ballads described in detail how he got them printed by reciting them over the counter at a local printers.
The best seller he could remember was 'The Blind Beggar' - author unknown, probably from the first half of 17th century London (and nearing 100 verses long in its early printed forms). This was probably the most popular song we found among Travellers. This, with most of the songs he sold, came from his parents and other Travellers and were largely from the folk repertoire - again, authors unknown.
It is of course quite likely that songs which entered the folk repertoire started their lives on the broadside presses, but the opposite was equally likely to be the case - I wouldn't like to be the one to have to sort it out.
The point in all this is that the act of folk singing at its best was creative and adaptive rather than interpretive.
For me, it leads back to ballad scholar David Buchan's (unproven but interesting) theory that there were no set texts to the ballads, rather, the singers re-composed them each time they sang them, using existing forms and commonplaces.
Why on earth 'in spite of the tender mercies of the singers'. Doesn't this imply that the best version of the song was the first one? I'm just working my way through a large collection of Irish Emigration songs, most of which the editor took from broadsides and early songsters which fed into the singing tradition here. It is fascinating to compare the often stilted and awkward printed texts to the sung versions we have recorded.
MacColl said everything I would want to say, had I the ability, at the end of 'The Song Carriers'.
"Well, there they are; the songs of our people. Some of them have been centuries in the making; some were undoubtedly born on the broadside presses. Some have the marvelous perfection of stones shaped by the sea's movement; others are as brash as a cup-final crowd.
They were made by professional bards and by unknown poets of the plough-stilts and the hand-loom.
They are tender, harsh, passionate, ironical, simple, profound; as varied indeed as the landscape of this island.
We are all indebted to the Harry Coxs and Phil Tanners, to Colm Keane and Maggie McDonagh, to Belle Stewart and Jessie Murray and all the sweet and raucous unknown singers who have helped to carry our peoples' songs across the centuries."
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 06:35 AM

I agree with everything you say Jim. Of course all that is true - its the variations which are the whole point of traditional songs. The creative and adaptive process is crucial and many of the best elements of many songs are indeed due to this. Carriers (as well as publishers) often improved songs, even to the extent of the occasional re-build, or major reworking to a different melody - and we should always be grateful for this as well as the business of passing-on without major change.

But we should never forget that someone had the original idea. Someone sat down and decided the story, the theme, the moral - and then composed words and melody to carry it. And what's more they did it well enough for others to want to take up that song, and pass it on. And others agreed and did the same down the years. The songs we have today have mainly survived because they had some vital element worth preserving. Weaker songs have tended to die and be lost - unless found in some old archive and revitalised (which is another reason we should never dismiss the importance of the written word - it influences the survival dynamic too).

Of course we can't ever tell whether the original writers were professional bards or unknown poets of the plough-stilts or the hand-loom. (We might make some educated guesses by comparing versions and songs, and looking at other clues like historical events and contemporary language - but that's not the point).

The point is that these songs didn't evolve by osmosis from nothing (well, chanteys and other work songs and lullabies may have done, but not the great ballads). They were made, and that making was the significant act in the song's existence today. And that's something which seems often to be overlooked in the appreciation of the story of the song's journey through history.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 07:35 AM

Sorry I forgot to pick up on the point about David Buchan's (unproven but interesting) theory. He may well be right that there were no set texts, but if so, my view would be that the original balladeers were still expert creators - and all the more to be respected if they developed a winning improvisational skill. They could only do that well if they understood the creative process - so were, effectively, makers too. Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 08:31 AM

"Someone sat down and decided the story, the theme, the moral - and then composed words and melody to carry it"
Wouldn't open that can of worms if I were you Tom.
Group composition is still around as a theory. Gummere propounded the theory that ballads were composed 'by the dancing throng' - certainly happened like that in Finland.
My late neighbour used to bring me scraps of paper from his attic which he and his friends had made during a drinking session - one of the best of these was of a local character nicknamed 'The Drunken Bear' who went on a pub-crawl through all of the 21 (then) bars in this town and was barred out of every one of them. The elderly locals still remember the man and the incident; nobody remembers who composed or even started the song.
Unlettered Travellers were still making songs up to the mid-seventies; notably the 'made match' one, but many more - not an author in sight.
One song sung to us by a Clare man living in Deptford, about the Irish Civil War was made in the singer's presence by four men standing on the corner of the street the day after the incident; again, no author available.
First verses or even lines of some songs were made and abandoned, leaving others to finish them.
The fact of not knowing the authorship of folksongs is part of their uniqueness.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 09:01 AM

Ah - well that's my theory shot down in flames anyway!

I guess one of the reasons I feel as I do about 'ghost authors' is because it seems that in the folk world, along with this general celebration of absence, or lack of importance, of writers, has come an attitude that authorship is never of importance. And this, I feel, has fuelled a general subsumation of known makers too - and a denigration of their contributions in later times. The end result is a state of mind among many that songwriters are expendable and do not require credit or, more importantly, royalties. I think that's a shame - for obvious reasons! Tom


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 10:37 AM

Jim, I think you were still away at the time. Would be interested in your response to my post of 10 Jun 08 - 07:37 PM


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 12:16 PM

Snail,
Was away - not ignoring it; working on it - honest!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 12:18 PM

I await with eager anticipation.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 02:42 PM

Jim, Tom,
I think we're really singing from the same ballad sheet here. I'd say all 3 of us were in 90% agreement at least.
Jim, I too have collected quite different versions of songs of the older type from 3 people living a couple of doors from each other.

Tom, I too am interested in David Buchan/Albert Lord's theory on ballad improvisation and am becoming convinced by it, although I think both methods were employed simultaneously, 1) journalistic ballads being composed on historical events like most of the Scottish historical ballads 2) Ballad remaking each perfomance based on solid knowledge of the story and a repertoire of stock verses/phrases. I'm not so sure about the balanced construction theory but Buchan presents a strong case.

Jim,
I didn't think there was anyone still alive who subdscribed to the communal composition theory. There are obvious exceptions Tom has mentioned but ballads of the Child variety and broadside ballads certainly don't come into this.

Regarding the second method I have started experimenting with this. I now sing 2 Child ballads, Cruel Mother and Two sisters, without learning a set text, just based on a set tune and refrains and my knowledge of the basic story, so each time I sing them is a different performance.


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jun 08 - 03:18 PM

Steve
"I didn't think there was anyone still alive who subdscribed to the communal composition theory" neither did I until recently - I certainly don't - but I know a man who does!!!
The point I was making is that while these theories as a whole often don't hold water, there is often a little truth in some of them; the whole area is a minefield.
I am an ardent fan of Bronson , but I found his article on the origins of 'Edward' so speculative and tenuous that I believe he was really flying by the seat of his pants.
I desperately wanted David Buchan to be right, but I think he made a real hames of 'The Ballad and The Folk' by presenting a perfect picture of a 'fairmtoon' then giving as examples of ballad singers, three people who were as far removed from that environment as you could possibly imagine.
Yet, there's Traveller John Reilly, whose ballads appeared to come out in different versions each time - including 2 Lord Gregorys which he didn't recognise as being the same song (he called it Lord Googley) Ah well - back to the drawing-board!
I do find it interesting that the Travellers, unlettered as they are, proved to be the final custodians of the Big Ballads: Maid And The Palmer, Young Hunting, Lamkin, Outlandish Knight, Edward, Lord Randall,.....
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Jun 08 - 04:23 AM

Snail,
Sorry this has been so long coming – a bit difficult to know where to begin really:
"At times, you speak with passion and admiration for the people that you have collected songs from; at others, you seem to be dismissive of them, thinking it "somewhat odd" that they could be expected to speak for themselves."
Of course I believe them capable of speaking for themselves; I'm not sure of how able they were to speak for each other.
Our whole thirty-odd years of collecting has been based on gathering information from singers on their songs and how they relate to their lives. We have recorded somewhere approaching 100 people, some at great length, others briefly.
If we wanted information on East Anglia we'd go to Walter Pardon or Tuddy Rudd, or John Goffin or Bob and Ella Green. Within that single category, if we wanted information on farming life we'd go to Walter, on fishing, to the other four.
The same applied to Irish Travellers, Scots Travellers, West Clare settle people, Irish musicians living in London.... whoever we recorded. They gave us the information, we organised it as best we could to make it useful for our own work in understanding the subject we were involved in. This was our agenda, not theirs.
As far as all this relates to what happened in Sao Paulo in 1954, that, I believe, is what the members of the committee did when they arrived at the definition; they pooled their collective experiences and information. This makes the definition based on the singers speaking for themselves, albeit indirectly. What were the panel members qualifications – they were there and they'd done the groundwork – that is enough for me.
What was the alternative – perhaps a huge meeting of elected representative fishermen, farmers, merchant seamen, mill workers, miners, Travellers..... rather like that held in The Winter Palace following the Russian Revolution in 1917? Lovely idea, but a little impractical, don't you think?   
By all means challenge the definition, but you'll have to be more specific if you want to challenge the qualifications of the people who made it – or come up with a workable alternative.
In my opinion there have been no serious challenges to the definition apart from a couple so 'baby and bathwater' and smugly worded as to make them not only unusable, but also rather unpleasant.
"Who supplied 'us' with The Seeds of Love?" John England gave it to Cecil Sharp, who gave it to 'us'. Sorry, don't understand your point.
"The "practitioners" had managed perfectly well without it for hundreds of years."
Do you know this, or is it an assumption on your part? Every singer was asked came up with a word which separated what I refer to as 'folk' from anything else they might know or sing; 'My daddy's songs' (not necessarily learned from her father), 'come-all-ye's', 'traditional', 'the old traditional', 'the old folk songs' 'the old songs', 'real Travellers songs'.... Mary Delaney went as far as to refuse to sing us her Country and Western songs, which she said "had the old songs destroyed".
Walter Pardon called them 'folk songs' and articulated the differences, musically and poetically, at great length; all part of our collection and written up in an essay entitled 'A Simple Countryman' which we wrote for Tom Munnelly's festschrift, 'Dear Far Voiced Veteran'. The title of the article was taken from a conversation we had with a well-known folkie who, when we repeated what Walter had told us, replied "why should he think that, he's a simple countryman?" This is pretty much the same patronising attitude that is used to generate any confusion surrounding the term 'folk' within the revival; plenty of examples on this forum down the years.
In 1948 Walter began writing down his family's songs in an exercise book. These included music hall, Victorian parlour ballads, popular songs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and his 'folk songs'. The latter were listed first and separately.   
"and rather vague term "folk"."
'Folk' is far from vague, except to those who wish to make it so for their own convenience. I have no intention of repeating my opinions on the matter – if you wish to make it vague – it's vague – to you!
I retreated from the word 'folk' around the time I retreated from the folk clubs, having been driven out by music I had no particular interest in. As I had no great involvement with clubs, it didn't matter, the word is still fully in use for research purposes, as vague as you might consider it.
As far as can see, it was and remains a perfect word to describe what happened at the type of clubs I was involved in, those presenting folk and folk-based material. As it is not being put to good and certainly not logical use by people looking for a convenient peg to hang their particular 'Brand X' music, I see no reason for not using it correctly.
"I don't have a definition. I have no authority to impose one."
If a thing exists, it needs to be identified and defined if it is to be discussed and put to use. The definition has not been 'imposed' as you so loadedly put it, it is there to be accepted or replaced.
I had a strange argument some time ago with an anonymous contributor to this forum describing him/herself as a 'fairly well known folk performer', who insisted that not only could I not use the term 'folk', but I should now abandon the word 'traditional' as the tradition has moved on and no longer includes..... well, I'm sure you get the drift – pretty similar to many of the arguments which appear on this thread.
It takes all kinds... I suppose!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 15 Jun 08 - 05:12 AM

I now sing 2 Child ballads, Cruel Mother and Two sisters, without learning a set text

Wow - that's impressive.

I've been working up The Outlandish Knight recently, and I've found (to my dismay) that knowing the tune & the story gets me pretty much nowhere - I need to know exactly what the parrot said, not to mention exactly how to make "fetch two horses" stretch over two lines. I shudder to think what'd happen if I tried it your way -

"Then up spoke the lady all to that knight
Or was it the other way round?
No, these are her lines, I was right the first time,
He'll get his turn in the next verse, verse,
He'll get his turn in the next verse..."


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Subject: RE: Folk vs Folk
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Jun 08 - 05:48 PM

Phil,
It helps if you've got a cartload of refrains and repeats while your thinking up the next line. I don't think I could do this with a straight quatrains ballad.


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