mudcat.org: What makes it a Folk Song?
Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafeawe

Post to this Thread - Printer Friendly - Home
Page: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]


What makes it a Folk Song?

Related threads:
What is a kid's song? (53)
What is a Folk Song? (292)
Who Defines 'Folk'???? (287)
Popfolk? (19)
What isn't folk (88)
Still wondering what's folk these days? (145)
What makes a new song a folk song? (1710)
Does Folk Exist? (709)
Definition of folk song (137)
Here comes that bloody horse - again! (23)
What is a traditional singer? (136)
Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement? (105)
Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition? (133)
So what is *Traditional* Folk Music? (409)
'Folk.' OK...1954. What's 'country?' (17)
Folklore: Define English Trad Music (150)
What is Folk Music? This is... (120)
What is Zydeco? (74)
Traditional singer definition (360)
Is traditional song finished? (621)
1954 and All That - defining folk music (994)
BS: It ain't folk if ? (28)
No, really -- what IS NOT folk music? (176)
What defines a traditional song? (160) (closed)
Folklore: Are 'What is Folk?' Threads Finished? (79)
How did Folk Song start? (57)
Traditional? (63)
Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs? (129)
What is The Tradition? (296) (closed)
What is Blues? (80)
What is filk? (47)
Article in Guardian:folk songs & pop junk & racism (30)
Does any other music require a committee (152)
Folk Music Tradition, what is it? (29)
Trad Song (36)
What do you consider Folk? (113)
Definition of Acoustic Music (52)
definition of a ballad (197)
Threads on the meaning of Folk (106)
Does it matter what music is called? (451)
What IS Folk Music? (132)
It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do? (169)
Giving Talk on Folk Music (24)
What is Skiffle? (22)
Folklore: Folk, Pop, Trad or what? (19)
Folklore: What are the Motives of the Re-definers? (124)
Folklore: What Is Folk? (60)
Is it really Folk? (105)
Folk Rush in Where Mudcat Fears To Go (10)
A new definition of Folk? (34)
What is Folk? IN SONG. (20)
New Input Into 'WHAT IS FOLK?' (7)
What Is More Insular Than Folk Music? (33)
What is Folk Rock? (39)
'What is folk?' and cultural differences (24)
What is a folk song, version 3.0 (32)
What is Muzak? (19)
What is a folk song? Version 2.0 (59)
FILK: what is it? (18)
What is a Folksinger? (51)
BS: What is folk music? (69) (closed)
What is improvisation ? (21)
What is a Grange Song? (26)


glueman 12 May 09 - 04:33 PM
Richard Bridge 12 May 09 - 04:37 PM
Spleen Cringe 12 May 09 - 04:38 PM
Richard Bridge 12 May 09 - 04:47 PM
glueman 12 May 09 - 04:51 PM
Phil Edwards 12 May 09 - 05:45 PM
Jack Blandiver 12 May 09 - 05:56 PM
glueman 12 May 09 - 06:50 PM
glueman 12 May 09 - 06:56 PM
glueman 12 May 09 - 07:23 PM
Richard Bridge 12 May 09 - 09:13 PM
glueman 13 May 09 - 03:07 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 13 May 09 - 03:14 AM
Bert 13 May 09 - 03:27 AM
Richard Bridge 13 May 09 - 03:29 AM
Bert 13 May 09 - 03:38 AM
Slag 13 May 09 - 03:40 AM
Bert 13 May 09 - 03:50 AM
Jim Carroll 13 May 09 - 04:12 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 13 May 09 - 04:27 AM
glueman 13 May 09 - 04:30 AM
glueman 13 May 09 - 04:45 AM
WalkaboutsVerse 13 May 09 - 05:16 AM
Brian Peters 13 May 09 - 05:18 AM
glueman 13 May 09 - 06:47 AM
Mr Happy 13 May 09 - 06:54 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 13 May 09 - 07:05 AM
Phil Edwards 13 May 09 - 07:07 AM
glueman 13 May 09 - 07:12 AM
glueman 13 May 09 - 07:24 AM
Richard Bridge 13 May 09 - 07:49 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 13 May 09 - 07:50 AM
glueman 13 May 09 - 07:56 AM
glueman 13 May 09 - 07:59 AM
Brian Peters 13 May 09 - 07:59 AM
glueman 13 May 09 - 08:37 AM
Jim Carroll 13 May 09 - 08:42 AM
Richard Bridge 13 May 09 - 08:57 AM
glueman 13 May 09 - 09:04 AM
Brian Peters 13 May 09 - 09:05 AM
Jack Blandiver 13 May 09 - 09:15 AM
glueman 13 May 09 - 09:26 AM
Brian Peters 13 May 09 - 09:27 AM
Jack Blandiver 13 May 09 - 10:30 AM
Phil Edwards 13 May 09 - 11:24 AM
Phil Edwards 13 May 09 - 11:29 AM
glueman 13 May 09 - 11:42 AM
Jack Blandiver 13 May 09 - 12:47 PM
Phil Edwards 13 May 09 - 02:49 PM
glueman 13 May 09 - 04:36 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:










Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 12 May 09 - 04:33 PM

How can one avoid reading it, it's posted once a week on average and I read it every time to see the magic dust that got sprinkled on the words and I'm still missing them.
So can you answer my last questions please re. attributed folk songs? With examples preferably.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 12 May 09 - 04:37 PM

Of course Mr Ed did. Don't you remember the theme song?

I suggest that the notion that the horse definitioners (by which I include Gg) have anything useful to say has been found wanting.

They have nothing to offer.

They have no coherent and relevant criticism of the 1954 definition.

On the one hand they pretend to be academic authors (academic authors who confuse "compliment" with "complement"!) - while on the other hand they sneer at pedantry.

Pip Radish: well spotted. I'm still waiting for him to revise his definition of diegesis.

Oh, and Gg "academically rigourous"? That one's a hoot. I teach at two universities. Put that in an assignment or exam I mark. Please.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 12 May 09 - 04:38 PM

"How reliable are the collectors and how scruplous their methods."

Depends whether we judge them by early 21st century standards or the standards of their own times. There is an interesting discussion on this very point in Georgina Boyes' "The Imagined Village" which I would recommend to you, Gluem.

Meanwhile, looking at contemporary(ish) collectors, my understanding is that people like Jim Carroll were entirely reliable and scrupulous, and more centrally ethical in their approach. Go to the Musical Traditions and look at the bit about the singers in the booklet notes for the "Around the Hills of Clare" CD of recordings Jim made of traditional singers. His respect for and affection for the singers he recorded comes across very strongly and genuinely.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 12 May 09 - 04:47 PM

But more to the point, how would it invalidate the Karpeles definition if the collectors had been unreliable or unscrupulous?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 12 May 09 - 04:51 PM

I'll follow up the links Spleen. Never had any problem with Jim Carroll's working method or contribution to the tradition, he pulls the trigger too quickly on internet message boards and usually at the wrong target.

Greg Stephens, you either understand a movement like neo-romanticism and the work of RVW or you don't. I'm not going to post a potted thesis. The preoccupations of the movement informed the IFMCs words. There's your context. It's not the Song of Songs, it ain't a love letter, it's a kind of mischief, even for those of us who admire the neo-romantics.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 12 May 09 - 05:45 PM

by all means throw rocks - I'd expect no less - but be wary of putting a full stop under the conversation

Come down off that cross, we need the wood. I'm not saying you never will answer a direct question, just that you never have up till now. I hope you'll surprise me some time.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 12 May 09 - 05:56 PM

Of course Mr Ed did. Don't you remember the theme song?

If Mr Ed did sing, he didn't sing the theme tune:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_PZPpWTRTU


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 12 May 09 - 06:50 PM

"On the one hand they pretend to be academic authors (academic authors who confuse "compliment" with "complement"!)"

Me Bridge? I'm dyslexic and not an academic author, pretend or otherwise. Glad you find amusement in that. I do have a book our this year and have promised one each to two different publishers in the near future.
You really can't see past the end of your own prejudice can you? What has all that got to do with my opinions on folk music?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 12 May 09 - 06:56 PM

BTW Bridge I'm fully aware of the meaning of diegesis, its application and origins, are you?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 12 May 09 - 07:23 PM

My new thread just disappeared. Any reason?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 12 May 09 - 09:13 PM

Diegesis is a transliteration from the classical Greek


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 09 - 03:07 AM

Nicely Googled. I sill want to know where my new thread went. It asked a perfectly reasonable question - why are folkies at large a nice bunch and the ones on Mudcat such vile shits - though in nicer words than that.

Seems until we answer that the board is screwed by bullies and people working out their issues on others.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 13 May 09 - 03:14 AM

"I still want to know where my new thread went"

Down there below the line...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Bert
Date: 13 May 09 - 03:27 AM

A folk song is a song that folk are singing.

Look here This is what folk are really singing.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 May 09 - 03:29 AM

Bad guess


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Bert
Date: 13 May 09 - 03:38 AM

...don't really want to go to "folk" concerts any more, because they're all that singer-songwriter stuff...

Joe, don't bash singer songwriters, I'm a singer songwriter and I also sing folk songs, they are two different things.

If you want to bash singer songwriters go start your own thread and I'll give you a hard time there.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Slag
Date: 13 May 09 - 03:40 AM

I've been accused of not posting above the line very much and that is true. And now I will show you why!

By way of prologue to what will probably be the prolegomena, let me say that definitions are by stipulation, via negativa, authority, debate, history, analogy, all, some, or none of the above!

As I read through the posts I thought of the problems C & W has endured in defining itself. Roy Acuff fought long and hard to keep drums and brass off the stage of the Grand Ole Opry. In the end his efforts to define and keep Country music pure failed. Well, for him it failed. What was he to do with Bob Wills and the Texas Troubadours or Johnny Cash with his Ring of Fire? And while all the steam was rising about Country music, what happened to Western music? I think Marty Robbins was the last soul on the planet to have any real success with a Western song.

Be that as it may, while reading down through the posts I kept looking for the words "banjo" or "Mandolin" or "French Harp" or even "guitar"! Or maybe even electric guitar if you happen to be Bob Dylan. Zither would have been a nice touch. Does instrumentation have anything to do with the subject? Dulcimer? Acapulco?

1954 seems to be a magic date. What was it about 1954 that what was said and thought then was so much more influential than anything being said today? Pre 1945 would seem to me to be a much likelier date. Sure a war was going on. A war like no other but the atomic bomb had yet to be revealed. No, THAT little item really changed things...forever! A lot of "folk" music came to the fore AFTER that revelation.

Does folk music have to address social problems? Seems a popular theme in many folk songs. Slavery, unions, wars, justice, injustice, lost love, suicide, murder, mysticism. I think even Toplady's Rock of Ages might qualify. Folk music appears to be a quite broad genre with a lot of sub genres besides. Historical songs, ancient songs , native or aboriginal songs (and instrumentation), new songs about old things and re-visions. Man what a fascinating genre.

Folk seems to defy definition and maybe that is one of its hallmarks. The art lover cannot tell you exactly why one painting would be called a work of art and another just an illustration. He might just tell you that art is that thing of which "he knows it when he sees it" and just like that, I know folk music when I hear it. And maybe that is the best definition.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Bert
Date: 13 May 09 - 03:50 AM

Where did your thread go?

How should we know? If you don't give us the title, how can we even look for it?

Get real guys, we ain't psychic?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 09 - 04:12 AM

Glueman
"Happy to swap insults so long as they're short."
Shortened version - part of your case appears to be that you question the methods of collectors (presumably leading to the distorting of information) - which collectors, what methods?
Otherwise your argument appears to be based solely on innuendo - nothing more.
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 13 May 09 - 04:27 AM

"You can tell I'm barely started here." 'glueman'

Barely started to make sense, perhaps? But then I'm a "vile shit" aren't I? I happen to disagree with your opinions - which, apparently, according to you, is a heinous crime and a grevious moral failing on my part. Actually, 'glueman', considering the 'tosh' that you write, I think you get off fairly lightly. When I read through the contributions from the likes of Greg Stephens, Richard Bridge, Jim Carroll, 'Pip Radish', Brian Peters etc., etc. I don't encounter anything particularly offensive and nothing to get particularly upset about - robust good sense and plain speaking, mainly. Unless, of course, you know that you're out of your depth and are flailing around trying to score points. It's your constant accusations of moral turpitude, your lapses into 'academic speak' when you're challenged and feeble attempts at political point scoring that I find most offensive. Well, OK 'offensive' is a strong word - how about 'pathetic'?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 09 - 04:30 AM

Here's my response to a thoughtful PM enquiry from last night. It sums up where the thread was going again,

"There are two problems IMO, first a small number of aggressive bullies one of whom bounced me on the first post, the kind of playground sharks who get in early to make sure nobody steals their territory - they're unmoderated which raises the general temperature, and second the board has a large number of professional promoters and working musicians with an agenda rather than people who are fans of the stuff and have been for many years.

That leads to a disparity and the kind of 'nobody knows what they're talking about but us' stuff that fills threads. If you try to open the debate out into wider issues they bring it down to incidentals, if you talk specifics they say you don't understand the big picture. They get away with it because they always have. I have broad shoulders but have seen good musicians like SS openly insulted by these so called gurus and I find that very annoying.

Thanks for enquiring anyway,"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 09 - 04:45 AM

"you know that you're out of your depth and are flailing around trying to score points"

Out of my depth at what exactly? Liking music? Challenging the shibboleths of a self perpetuating folk elite? Here's a story - many years ago an old friend with a huge music collection, 10s of thousands of recordings covering every aspect of C20th music going back to wax cylinders, found I had a modest collection of folk music. 'Nice one', he said, 'you do realise you won't find a bigger bunch of c***s than folkies, don't you?'

At the time I didn't know what he meant. I'm learning.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 13 May 09 - 05:16 AM

On another lighter note - fancy Glueman's thread not sticking..?!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 May 09 - 05:18 AM

"working musicians with an agenda rather than people who are fans of the stuff and have been for many years"

What makes you think those are mutually exclusive categories?

Since you seem genuinely upset by the responses to your posts, glueman, can I suggest that you:

(a) Refrain from firing off highly contentious statements in the most provocative language ("They seek him here, they seek him there but can't find the noble savage anywhere... uncritical dogma and an appeal to sentiment, beyond any rational discussion..."), and then decline to expand on your reasons for making them ("do the homework, it'll make sense if you do and won't if you can't be arsed... I'm not going to post a potted thesis").

(b) Read carefully and respond to opposing opinions rather than ignoring them completely, or misrepresenting what they've said (e.g. repeatedly making the accusation that "people use the definition as a stick to beat singers they don't approve of" after any number of rebuttals on this specific point), or treating your fellow posters with condescension, contempt and downright abuse ("folk policemen... folkier than thou tendency... Dickensian despot... bullies... quasi-religious, old testament judgements... desert-minded fathers with a definition fixation... pedantic... obsessive compulsion... self perpetuating folk elite... vile shits").

(c) Stop coming over the injured innocent the very day after you boasted of "the sheer pleasure of baiting" other posters.

Then - who knows - you might be able to get your discussion of collecting practices or the influence of neo-romanticism, if that's what you really wanted. Although it might be too late now.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 09 - 06:47 AM

Brian Peters, thank you for a thoughtful and supportive response.
On the first point I don't believe they are mutually exclusive, on the other hand Mudcat appears to be over-represented in musicians working 'the scene' compared with my experience of festivals (for example) where folk music, traditional and modern, is viewed from the position of folk consumer.
I appreciate there is a contradiction in consuming a participatory music through records and concert tickets, but no more so than presuming sea shanties have universal currency today. Inevitably someone who plays a certain form may not be objective to vying forms, something which is self-evident if you're outside the loop but problematic in a quasi-commercial situation, even if it's only the modest commerce of a folk club setting.

On point a) confrontational positions do not come naturally. I've fought my corner as a folk consumer and been constantly belittled for not understanding. I no longer understand what it is people are getting exercised about so am forced to conclude there are smoke and mirrors involved. Point a) is typical of much of these discussions, an ironic response to what must surely be tongue in cheek points.

Point b) I try not to ignore direct question unless they're in the middle of a general insult, in which case I'm forced to ask what the questioners motivation might be. OTOH I've tried to ascertain what specific aspects of the 1954 definition mean and people have evaded answering. Apparently that's how mudcat works, a bunfight, an attrition. I certainly didn't start it.

Point c) guilty, but in defence preposterous statements deserve outrageous answers. Follow the threads you refer to back and notice whether someone has made an absurd statement previously. You'll find they invariably have. Talk to me straight, without patronising and you'll get an honest discussion.

On the final point you can look at the folk revival in many ways but I don't believe you can fully understand the motivations and methods of collectors like Sharp and RVW without understanding the milieu that informed them. There is a continuous and interesting thread from their work to the present day in which I detect fault lines that have never been resolved. I'm guilt of assuming everyone detects the same fractures - some most certainly do - but I don't have time to develop the theme and I fear it would fall on deaf ears anyway.
Perhaps some other time.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 13 May 09 - 06:54 AM

thread.cfm?threadid=120790


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 13 May 09 - 07:05 AM

As entertaining as watching some of the bickering might be (and I've got to reprise an earlier posting of History Today 'cos squabbles on Mudcat remind me of this something rotten!) I'd actually love to read an objective, non-emotive discussion and analysis of the 1954 definition between supporters, non-supporters, and interested non-partisan others alike...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 13 May 09 - 07:07 AM

I try not to ignore direct question

Please try harder. Here's the one I'd be particularly interested in getting a response to:

I am personally of the opinion - although this is nowhere in the 1954 definition - that there probably won't be any more folk music in Britain or Ireland; the conditions under which the process described by Karpeles could work don't obtain any longer. But if I'm right, so what? What do you object to in the idea that the folk process as described by Karpeles is a thing of the past? I'm genuinely curious - this is a real stumbling-block for me in understanding some of the arguments made here.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 09 - 07:12 AM

Thanks Mr Happy. I posted the new thread last night after a particularly trying time on this one - and reading others. When I looked five minutes later it was gone. I tried again in another five and still not there. I assumed it was glitch in the software or more likely I'd been bumped.

Towards the end of the thread you linked this was interesting:
"Aha, you can tell a troll a mile off, he starts a thread and doesn't come back into the discussion.

He has been invited to name the thread where he was attacked and hasn't done so. Most of us here don't like newcomers being attacked for no reason and will be prepared to defend said newcomer to the hilt. But I suspect that that is not the case here.

I'm guessing that if things quieten down on this thread he'll be back like a shot with his wooden spoon."

I don't know where to begin. Someone linked to a thread that wasn't my first but a response to a particularly unpleasant attack on someone else. My first was R. Bridge telling me in the third person 'this one isn't worth it' and mentioning 1954, something I'd been vaguely aware of on the back of my old Topic albums. I had no idea it informed people's judgements and the reason I keep coming back to those threads is to find out where the steam came from.

I do think it's a miserable, aggressive place much of the time and could be far more pleasant. I'm pleased some agree.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 09 - 07:24 AM

"What do you object to in the idea that the folk process as described by Karpeles is a thing of the past?"

Absolutely nothing. I've said before that IMO the definition read in entirety (and with an appreciation it contains contradictions of an almost biblical dimension) states that folk music is past tense. If that's where you're coming from *I agree on the definition*.

The contradiction is the contemporary folk scene I recognise through concerts and records has grown through the gaps in '54 or ignored it completely. Some of that music is recognisably folk to a large number of people which raises the question whether the 54 definition needs amending in the current climate. For example the role of technology such as youtube and file sharing in establishing new communities that appear at least to be recognisably folk and I'd welcome an intelligent discussion on aspects such as that.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 May 09 - 07:49 AM

Baffled!

Why does the fact that there is music that is not folk music but which is inaccurately called folk music mean that that other music is folk music?

Why do the practitioners of that other music feel the obsessive need to be able to call it "folk music"?

With a little sensitive reading (and yes, allowing for the fact that oral transmission has been added to by non-slavish reproduction via modern tehnologies, and that a community may differ from a different community while both are still part of a third, and that communities may exist virtually and in the fleshiverse) the Karpeles definition still seems to me to work just fine.

And I repeat, if you go to pretty well any forum and re-start a well-bashed topic without apparently having any regard to the content of the previous threads you will get jumped on. Go, on, trot over to turbobricks and post "What is Somender Singh's groove theory and does it work?" or "How do I turbo my N/A car?"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 13 May 09 - 07:50 AM

"the role of technology such as youtube and file sharing in establishing new communities that appear at least to be recognisably folk"

Tentative attempts to raise this question have been made here, but haven't led to much discussion (which I think is a pity particularly considering that Mudcat itself has ironically been with us since the dawn of interweb.)

The potential validity not only of internet fora and music sites as 'communities' (albeit virtual), but the validity of communities such as MySpace and YouTube as virtual vehicles for 'oral transmission' are I think pertinent, and very interesting questions when considered in relationship to the 1954 definition.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 09 - 07:56 AM

Yes, they are pertinent Crow Sister, I agree.

"I'd actually love to read an objective, non-emotive discussion and analysis of the 1954 definition"
Me too.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 09 - 07:59 AM

Crow Sister, I came across this recently

https://listserv.heanet.ie/cgi-bin/wa?A2=IRTRAD-L;BfynBg;200302142039530500


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 May 09 - 07:59 AM

glueman offered a constructive response, so here's me being civil in return:

(glueman wrote) "I don't believe you can fully understand the motivations and methods of collectors like Sharp and RVW without understanding the milieu that informed them."

I don't think many of us would disagree with that statement, and you would find plenty of supporters for the idea that Sharp was selective in his collecting, or unduly prescriptive in his model for performance. But he published 'Some Conclusions' over a hundred years ago, and things have moved on. I realise that 'The Imagined Village' (which I would guess you're already familiar with) accuses A. L. Lloyd of adopting too many of Sharp's assumptions but, whether you believe that or not, even the 'Second Revival' was fifty years ago, and things have moved on again.

Today's movers and shakers are less likely to be dewy-eyed romantics than hard-nosed commercial interests, and (please acknowledge this, finally) the 1954 definition has precious little influence on what actually gets played now on folk stages here or anywhere else. People who perform traditional song do so because they like the sound of it, or the stories that it tells, and, if they wish to acknowledge their sources, it's out of respect for wonderful traditional singers of the past, not from romanticism or 'noble savage' condescension.

It would be very nice to put 1954 to bed now, but it's worth pointing out that there is an area of agreement between Pip Radish's statement (which I support broadly):

"there probably won't be any more folk music in Britain or Ireland; the conditions under which the process described by Karpeles could work don't obtain any longer."

...and your own: "It offers a closed world to all intents and purposes". (since I wrote that ten minutes ago, I see you're in agreement on that one)

1954 was indeed an attempt to describe a cultural phenomenon which its authors believed was disappearing. Sharp had believed as much in the 1900s and was off the mark only insofar as folksong hung on for longer than he'd expected, either in relatively isolated communties or through the nurturing of individual enthusiasts like Bob Copper and Walter Pardon (whose social group had already given up on it). If you don't accept that it was and is disappearing, then you have to assert that punk rock, or DJ-ing, or karaoke, or the bubble that is the 'folk scene' are the folk music of today and - although there might be a point there in terms of participation - you're still not describing the same process as Sharp.

You might well ask what - if we were to reserve the term 'folk' for 1954-approved songs - we are to call much of the music that is discussed on Mudcat, or played in 'the folk scene'? This breaks both ways, of course: if all of us are 'folksingers', then how do we describe Walter Pardon? If 'folk music' is 'that which is played in folk clubs', then does that mean the vast majority of the world's population have no folk music?

I think we have to accept that 'folk' means different things to different people. To a gathering of folklorists the 1954 definition would be immediately understood. Festival goers will probably accept that anything from Sheila Stewart to the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain can be accommodated under that broad umbrella. To the population at large over the age of fifty (who remember the Spinners and the Clancys on TV), 'folk' will forever mean chunky sweaters and hearty choruses. To a pop journalist, anything with an acoustic guitar is 'folk'. To Ritchie Blackmore, in a hilarious interview given about thirty years ago, everything apart from Deep Purple was 'folk music' (i.e. weedy shite). The US Immigration official who interviewed me at Boston in March responded to my self-description as a 'folksinger' by suggesting "like James Blunt, then?", to which I nodded and smiled (best practice with those people).

Personally, I try to use 'traditional' where possible. Or simply, 'old music'.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 09 - 08:37 AM

Brian Peters, yes, old music is a term I use too.
Folk has been problematised almost since those collectors and 1954 attempted to identify what was irreducible about the old music. I have an instinctive empathy with the music of the tradition but wonder whether the definition did not allow enough permeability in encountering post-revival attempts to keep it alive. 1954 seems to modern sensibilities to be unnecessarily prescriptive - while recognising the desire to separate what united the ballads and broadsides of the common era, I believe the conditions to extend the 'process' to be limited or non-existent now, in spite of rhetoric that suggests it might be.

If that is the case it marks a radical change from what folk music meant to the common people to what passes for common music now. I wonder whether oral transmission alone is sufficient to separate the impulses and musical modes that gave rise to the old music, or if the emphasis has generated a fortress mentality which restricts folk to historical enactment because 'dilution' is the feared result of musical aperture.
My feeling is the music of the tradition is now safeguarded by the very mechanisms which foreclosed it - systematic and standardised reproduction, and the notion of its survival through playing, though perfectly agreeable, is no longer necessary for its survival. If that's true, might not a modern sensibility encounter those modes and preoccupations without threat to old music?

If it may, old and new can be seen as a stepped (rather than seamless) strand of the same impulse. Resistance to such continuity is complex but perhaps not unbridgable.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 09 - 08:42 AM

"All music is folk music. I ain't never heard no horse sing a song. - Louis Armstrong"
Some time ago I was taken to task by an American contributor to Mudcat (I think it was the admirable Don Firth) for pouring scorn on this statement. He pointed out that whoever said it (I've heard it attributed to Armstrong, Broonzy and at least two other singers) intended it as a clever riposte and certainly not a serious statement on their music. I think this is probably right, the real joke being in those who quote it as a basis for their analysis of folk song.
When we started collecting we did so for the usual reason; to gather in as many songs as we could. This changed very quickly when we began to discover how little we understood of the field we were working in, and when we realised how much information was available to us from the singers we were meeting. If our work has any importance, I believe it lies in the extensive interviews we carried out with some of the singers.
From Kerry Traveller, Mikeen McCarthy we got masses of information on the transmission of the songs and stories via the 'ballads', the song sheets sold around the fairs and markets of rural Ireland right up to the mid-fifties, also through his activities as a street and pub singer. He explained how, after he had taught the tunes of the songs to town-dwellers, he heard them "sung back" at him months later adapted to suit their new environment. He also talked about the different styles used for different circumstances street selling, pub singing and what he called "fireside singing", that done in the intimacy of his home (caravan) among family and friends.
From blind Travelling woman, Mary Delaney, we got the intense emotional involvement which went into her singing. Mary could have doubled the 100 plus songs she gave us with C&W pieces she had sucked up vacuum cleaner-like, but persistently refused to sing them for us because, as she said, "the new songs have the old ones ruined". The old (folk) songs she referred to as "My daddies' songs" even though she had learned only around a dozen of them from her father.
From West Clare small farmer Tom Lenihan we recorded hours of his emotional approach to his songs and how he adapted that approach when he sang.
From Walter Pardon we got an articulate and extremely intelligent analysis of 'folk song' (a term he persistently used) and how they compared to the non-folk material in his repertoire.

The point I am trying to make (not very well) is that, contrary to the somewhat vacuous use that is made of the 'talking horse' statement, all the singers we questioned had a separate take on the songs we/I chose to refer to as 'folk' and regarded them in a different light than they did their 'other' songs. Contrary to what I have consistently been told down the years, singers did not lump all their songs together as 'songs'.

For anybody who doesn't know what Walter Pardon had to say on the matter, some of it can be found on the Musical Traditions web-site in the Enthusiasms section as part of a reply 'Wot I Rote' to an article Mike Yates had written previously. Mike's piece is entitled 'The Other Songs' and mine, 'By Any Other Name'. There is also an article on Walter by Pat and I in a festschrift for collector Tom Munnelly, ('Dear, Far-Voiced Veteran') entitled 'A Simple Countryman?' This latter is still available on the OAC web-site, but anybody who would like a copy of the article can PM me with an e-mail address.   
I also wrote a piece on Mikeen McCarthy called 'Mikeen McCarthy Ballad Seller' which was included in 'Singer, Song, Scholar', edited by Ian Russell and published by Sheffield University (probably out of print, but again, I'm happy to send copies to anybody interested.

I apologise for this bit of 'the articles wot I rote' self-promotion, but I do feel that too often these arguments take place on the assumption that the singers had nothing worthwhile while to say, which is, in our experience, far from the case. The older collectors may have been romantics with all the faults attributed to them, but at least they based their ideas on often hard, painstaking work carried out at the folk-face and not from the comfort of University chairs or from the protective bubble of the folk club.
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 May 09 - 08:57 AM

Although it is not so convenient to trace the posts of a guest in chronological order as those of a member, it can be done.

I see that Glueman apparently arrived somewhat aggressively to defend Rachel Unthank, but did not start to get really forceful replies until he aligned himself with the OP's thrust on the "Our ghastly folk music" thread.

Since then the vast preponderance of his posts seem to have been to assert that there is no such thing as folk music, or that there is no value in distinguishing it from other kinds of music.

I have not found the specific posts, posts hostile to him, that he seems to complain about yet, although it is fair (and unsurprising) to say that he does indeed seem to have rubbed people up the wrong way from fairly early on. I am not so sure that this demonstrates the greater fault in us, though.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 09 - 09:04 AM

Talk nice RB and I talk nice back. I've never said there's no such thing as folk music. You're limiting debate as you've always done to your own ends and you get nasty when people disagree. See my exchange with Brian Peters (agree or not) for how it can be done if people want to communicate.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 May 09 - 09:05 AM

"If that is the case it marks a radical change from what folk music meant to the common people to what passes for common music now."

Well yes, but what does pass for "common music now"? I was never very impressed by the "Yellow Submarine is today's folk music" argument (no-one ever knew any lyrics beyond the chorus, for a start), but today we don't even have 'Top of the Pops' to establish familiar songs across the breadth of the population. My two sons (teens and early 20s) listen to utterly different music from one another. The only popular songs which everyone knows, are those in the ghastly and bizarre Christmas medley we're assaulted with for three months of the year. And I've yet to be convinced that singing of any kind is any longer a widespread participatory activity outside of the folk scene, the football stadia, some churches and various specialised gatherings.

"a fortress mentality which restricts folk to historical enactment"

That depends what you consider "historical enactment" - does an unaccompanied rendition of an old song automatically qualify for that slur, for instance?. To my ears the folk revival has always been about finding new ways to look at old material, sometimes successfully, sometimes not. And sometimes the old way of doing it can actually be the freshest and most exciting.

"My feeling is the music of the tradition is now safeguarded by the very mechanisms which foreclosed it - systematic and standardised reproduction." A good point, but that doesn't make me less enthusiastic about performing it - it's an enthusiasm, not a crusade or a preservation order.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 May 09 - 09:15 AM

I'd actually love to read an objective, non-emotive discussion and analysis of the 1954 definition between supporters, non-supporters, and interested non-partisan others alike...

Me too, so in this spirit I will respond to Pip's statement:

I am personally of the opinion (...) that there probably won't be any more folk music in Britain or Ireland; the conditions under which the process described by Karpeles could work don't obtain any longer.

To my mind what happens at The Beech etc. is the empirical immediacy of Folk Music without which I'm sure I wouldn't be half as bothered with it as I am right now. The fact that people might conduct such a seance at whatever sort of remove from the revival, neo-revival or the conditions that Karpeles fantasised about is miracle enough and the only time it feels in any way alive. Thus the experience of Folk Song is one thing, whilst the definition of it (the Karpeles / 1954 Definition in particular) is something else entirely. It is a sentimental intellectualism born of a particular sort of Fabian paternalism; it stinks, but it's a comforting old smell all the same; the smell of the well-intentioned intelligentsia thinking they know what's best for the people and their culture, of which, of course, the people have little or no understanding themselves and far less any actual appreciation, hence the need to collect and preserve and analyse it before it's lost. And look how easy it is lost; according to Jim Carroll, it might be lost in a matter of months...

Meanwhile, back in the real world, I find myself getting far more excited about the people I know than I do about remote old coves on field-recordings. I find a lasting sense of wonderment in hearing what Spleen or Pip are singing at The Beech (when we get there) simply because that nails the music in intimate human & personal terms and allows one to make a very direct link with something fundamental to the fellow human experience which is essential to the music, or at least a music, or at least one's personal understanding of it. Thus Folk Music is as fundamental as eating, sex and shitting; it's what people have always done & always will do and the continuity of the thing is born from the creative necessity that goes with the territory of simply being born human in the first place. This is why (as an essentially intuitive-improvising musician with an increasingly casual penchant for Traditional English Speaking Folk Song & Balladry) the Horse Definition makes more sense to me than the Karpeles / 1954 ever could, even though, as I've said elsewhere, I feel there is nothing in the Karpeles / 1954 that can't be readily applied to any human music, which brings us back to the poor old horse definition: they'll beat him, whip him, cut him - 'til the huntsmen let him go...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 09 - 09:26 AM

I didn't mean historical enactment perjoratively, or as 'a slur'. It was a conclusion I came to some time back and was confirmed by others on this board, mainly those who agreed with the spirit and words of the definition. It's arrived at by a reading of 1954 which sees continuity of process to be unlikely.
The schism, if you can call it that between folk consumers like myself (who plays for and with family and friends FWIW), is partly to do with an appreciation of self expression through folk idioms but without boundaries, no matter how well intended. That desire for creativity, the impulse to let the music take you where it will is genuine and difficult to ringfence.

Example - the other night I went to see Bellowhead again. Personally I prefer the music of Spiers and Boden but they'd become more 'jazzy' which fit their big bound sound, an attractive thing with traces of The Kinks, music of the Bordello and a touch of marching bands. It could accomodate music of the tradition and modern arrangements by Rachael McShane within the same noise. A traditionalist reading would divide the music into folk and non-folk, aurally it was the same stuff.

It's important artists can find expressions within the broader folk umbrella without it being dismissed as just more pop. It isn't pop.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 May 09 - 09:27 AM

Amazing that someone can generalize in an inverted-snobbish way about treatment of 'the people' by 'sentimental intellectuals', and then dismiss individual, real people as "remote old coves"!

Off to lay flags now...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 May 09 - 10:30 AM

inverted-snobbish

On the contrary - just all too aware that the history & culture of the working class has been defined & determined very much from the outside. I have every respect for the Fabian tradition, and draw great strength from it, but I'm under no illusions about its provenance, however so well-intentioned.   

then dismiss individual, real people as "remote old coves"!


I'm not dismissing anyone. What I actually said was remote old coves on field-recordings - real people for sure, however so abstracted, collected, collated, catalogued, indexed, filed, and ultimately isolated from whatever context to which they once belonged. How might we access their humanity at such a remove? Seriously, I'm beginning to forget what it felt like to be able to hear people like Willie Scott in the flesh, let alone Peter Bellamy. Call it a crisis of an already perilous faith; one which finds a measure of renewal in the sort of communion I've attempted to describe above.

Watch your fingers with those flags anyway.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 13 May 09 - 11:24 AM

To my mind what happens at The Beech etc. is the empirical immediacy of Folk Music without which I'm sure I wouldn't be half as bothered with it as I am right now.

I've had some great nights at out the Beech, where most of what's sung is Folk A La 54. What that tells me is that Folk A La 54 can make for a great night out. It doesn't tell me that all great nights out are folk.

It is a sentimental intellectualism born of a particular sort of Fabian paternalism; it stinks, but it's a comforting old smell all the same; the smell of the well-intentioned intelligentsia thinking they know what's best for the people and their culture

Maybe I'm being dim, but I can't see any of that in the 1954 definition.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 13 May 09 - 11:29 AM

Thus Folk Music is as fundamental as eating, sex and shitting; it's what people have always done & always will do and the continuity of the thing is born from the creative necessity that goes with the territory of simply being born human in the first place.

The thing is, if you're using the horse definition the word 'folk' in that sentence is redundant. And if you took the word 'folk' out, then I'd agree, wholeheartedly and enthusiastically - yes, making music is something people always have done and always will do, and the more the merrier. I don't know what you gain by adding the word 'folk', apart from an opportunity to start arguments.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 09 - 11:42 AM

Here's something folkie. When we were kids we'd stand on a low wall, the kind with the iron nobbles where the railings had all been taken for the war effort and dumped in the Thames, and play King of the Castle. This involved trying to remove the 'king' who occupied the wall but with an impediment, usually the use of only one arm.

This discussion is based on similar strategies, a pre-determined position with an artificial construct - the castle - being defended under the rules of the game while opponents are only allowed to use certain weapons or be called cheats.
I preferred looking at dirty pictures to my mate's sister's Dave and Ansel Collins records. Or trading American civil war cards. Tied to the cannon was a good'un and still inspiring.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 May 09 - 12:47 PM

I've had some great nights at out the Beech, where most of what's sung is Folk A La 54.

True for yourself maybe, but one man's Folk A La 54 is another man's Folk A La Cheval 2009, or whenever it happens to be. The moment is the key, I feel, and the experience is the whole of its meaning, which arises from a certain faith in the potency of the material which lives by being sung. Otherwise, why bother? We could just sit and read about it in books and listen to it on old field-recordings.

I don't know what you gain by adding the word 'folk', apart from an opportunity to start arguments.

By adding the word Folk I gain the very essential notion that music might be something people participate in creatively rather than something they consume as a ready-meal. Not all people, but some, which is to say those who are moved to do so. I think of this as Folk Music because as a Folk Musician I don't dig the rarefied intellectual atmosphere of the 1954 Definition which runs contrary to the very essence of the thing it attempts to define. Certainly it doesn't bring me any closer to it, rather it pushes it ever further away.

Not looking for an argument, just dreaming of an objective, non-emotive discussion and analysis of the 1954 definition between supporters, non-supporters, and interested non-partisan others alike...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 13 May 09 - 02:49 PM

True for yourself maybe, but one man's Folk A La 54 is another man's Folk A La Cheval 2009

No, not really. I've been to 'singing horse' clubs and I've been to 'mostly traditional', and the Beech is very definitely the latter. If what you want is an exuberant moment of music in performance - and why wouldn't you - you've got a much broader choice than those of us who like to hear traditional songs.

By adding the word Folk I gain the very essential notion that music might be something people participate in creatively rather than something they consume as a ready-meal.

It's not the word 'folk' that makes the difference, it's all the other words. As you very nearly said,

"Music is as fundamental as eating, sex and shitting; it's what people have always done & always will do and the continuity of the thing is born from the creative necessity that goes with the territory of simply being born human in the first place."

With which I agree completely.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 09 - 04:36 PM

If this board were the totality of folk music a casual reader might imagine it was a total commitment, like the Jesuits or the Moonies, something you signed up to, bought the outfit and signed your life away. Fortunately it isn't, it's just more music and people are free to dip in and out. You don't have to believe anything, just listen.

As a relativist that suits me fine.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
Next Page

  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 30 May 9:17 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright 1998 by the Mudcat Caf Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.