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What makes it a Folk Song?

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Jack Blandiver 13 May 09 - 04:37 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 13 May 09 - 05:49 PM
Diva 13 May 09 - 06:15 PM
Richard Bridge 13 May 09 - 07:26 PM
glueman 13 May 09 - 07:31 PM
Diva 14 May 09 - 01:02 AM
Musket 14 May 09 - 03:10 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 09 - 03:11 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 09 - 03:16 AM
Howard Jones 14 May 09 - 03:37 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 09 - 03:38 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 09 - 03:56 AM
Jim Carroll 14 May 09 - 04:10 AM
glueman 14 May 09 - 04:15 AM
Richard Bridge 14 May 09 - 04:21 AM
Phil Edwards 14 May 09 - 04:30 AM
glueman 14 May 09 - 04:33 AM
TheSnail 14 May 09 - 04:56 AM
Jim Carroll 14 May 09 - 05:08 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 14 May 09 - 05:18 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 09 - 06:02 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 09 - 06:07 AM
glueman 14 May 09 - 06:09 AM
Musket 14 May 09 - 06:18 AM
Mr Happy 14 May 09 - 06:19 AM
glueman 14 May 09 - 06:38 AM
Jim Carroll 14 May 09 - 06:39 AM
Phil Edwards 14 May 09 - 06:47 AM
Phil Edwards 14 May 09 - 07:15 AM
TheSnail 14 May 09 - 07:58 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 09 - 08:13 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 09 - 08:18 AM
Musket 14 May 09 - 08:33 AM
Mr Happy 14 May 09 - 08:42 AM
GUEST,Compare and contrast 14 May 09 - 08:45 AM
glueman 14 May 09 - 08:51 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 09 - 09:35 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 14 May 09 - 09:41 AM
glueman 14 May 09 - 09:46 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 09 - 09:54 AM
GUEST,Robert Black of " Sticky Willie " 14 May 09 - 10:01 AM
GUEST,Compare and contrast 14 May 09 - 10:52 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 09 - 12:00 PM
Richard Bridge 14 May 09 - 12:15 PM
Jim Carroll 14 May 09 - 12:15 PM
Phil Edwards 14 May 09 - 12:24 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 14 May 09 - 01:14 PM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 09 - 01:19 PM
glueman 14 May 09 - 01:24 PM
Jim Carroll 14 May 09 - 01:28 PM
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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 May 09 - 04:37 PM

I give up.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 13 May 09 - 05:49 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."

No they wouldn't! You're over-dramatising again,'glueman'.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Diva
Date: 13 May 09 - 06:15 PM

I;m so glad someome asked
The word roughly means 'story world', one created by the teller. A fiction so apparently complete it draws the listener in so he believes the tale.>

Haud on......that could be a definition of a ballad!!!


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 May 09 - 07:26 PM

I gave the Oxford English Dictionary meaning of diegesis a very long time ago.

I cannot see Gg's effusions above as anything other than irrelevancies. Certainly I have never suggested that only 1954 definition folk should be all that is sung in folk clubs (or anywhere else). Equally I positively enthuse about reframing the delivery of folk song. There seems to be more than a touch of Don Quixote about Gg's attack.

The parallel with "King of the Castle" seems utterly false.

I still don't see any beneficent intent.

I still can't trace the early posts of Gg's where he was so abrasively treated. All I can find is him rubbishing folk music.

As for the poster formerly known as Sinister Supporter, it is surely inherent in the 1954 definition that the members of the community participate in the delivery and therefore evolution of folk song - one of the main factors that distinguishes it from consumerist music.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 13 May 09 - 07:31 PM

Only a touch of the Quixotic Richard, you musical Onanist? Surely a dollop, slap or cornucopia? If only you were were important it might matter. Fortunuately you are a musical irrelevance and your opinions meaningless.
Have a nice folk day!


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Diva
Date: 14 May 09 - 01:02 AM

I know you did Richard, but the earlier definition using "story world......" appealed to my sense of humour and I am aware that my humour is sometimes very strange compared to the norm. (Listen, I can't even pronounce the D word)

Loosen your stays lads.......it matters not a jot what the definition is or isn't. What matters is that it is a broad spectrum..some of it isn't to my taste but thats fine. I have friends who cannot understand my facsination and love of ballads but they are still my friends. What matters is that the music is played and sung and enjoyed.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Musket
Date: 14 May 09 - 03:10 AM

Jim Carroll wrote;
Ian:
"Or put it another way, go to a folk club and enjoy the experience for the spontaneous sport it is."
Perhaps you can explain something that others have been unable to.
Why is it not possible to do both - does understanding and taking a music seriously automatically prohibit somebody from actually enjoying it?
I have been involved in folk music for nearly fifty years, mainly as a listener and singer, but over the last thirty odd of those as a collector and researcher.
I write on the subject, talk on it, read about it, argue about it, issue CDs of our field recordings, archive it and am now preparing to publish a couple of books on Traveller songs and stories.
After all this time, Sheila Stewart singing 'Tifties Annie' still brings a lump to the throat and I can still fall out of my chair listening to Sam Larner sing 'Butter And Cheese And All'.
Do you think it's a genetic flaw - or what?
Jim Carroll

Thanks for that Jim. I agree, there is room for those who enjoy the noise it makes and those who see it as a fascinating study in it's own right.

My concern, and hence the mischievous opinions and provocative comments, is that many people have been driven away in the past by people who fail to make that distinction. As a teenager, I was almost paranoid about playing the wrong sort of song in a club in case some twerp pulled me up. McColl himself spoke of people should sing only what is indigenous to them. Good stuff, from a Salford lad called Jim who effected a Scottish name and sometimes accent.

It is where the technical study and the enjoyment meet that they can clash. How many people (myself included) have problems enjoying certain classical pieces because at school we had to follow a score with our fingers whilst the teacher walked round making sure we were keeping up? Not the best way to learn to love and appreciate artistic wonders! (To this day I turn off if I hear Mozart's 40th, despite knowing I would have loved it otherwise.)

I don't think this (or similar threads) is about spontaneous enjoyment versus study of the art form, but the two aspects (which make up the whole) mean different things to different people.

Hence I feel able to say that if it is played in a folk club it is a folk song, and you are able to say that's rubbish.

C'est la vie.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 09 - 03:11 AM

it is surely inherent in the 1954 definition that the members of the community participate in the delivery and therefore evolution of folk song - one of the main factors that distinguishes it from consumerist music.

But isn't consumerist music produced & determined by a community too? A community of writers, arrangers, producers, and artists shaping a traditional genre which is itself determined by historical continuity and broader cultural considerations, such as current trends and market forces. And can it be truly said that any musician is not a part of a community, even if they've learnt all they know from books and records? I think perhaps not.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 09 - 03:16 AM

How many people (myself included) have problems enjoying certain classical pieces because at school we had to follow a score with our fingers whilst the teacher walked round making sure we were keeping up? Not the best way to learn to love and appreciate artistic wonders!

Actually, it's only those pieces of classical music I studied at school & college that I've any sort of love for at all. Same goes for Shakespeare - only those plays I did at O & A level have ever made any sense to me or yet had any sort of meaning, emotional or otherwise. Am I unique in that I wonder?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 14 May 09 - 03:37 AM

SO'P,it sounds as if you were fortunate in your music teacher. Like Ian Mather, I was taught by an old-fashioned music teacher who succeeded only in turning me off classical music and teaching me nothing about music theory. It took another teacher, from the French department but an enthusiast for Handel, who let us throw away the scores and listen, and who explained counterpoint by working backwards from boogie-woogie. He was able to put across his enthusiasm and opened my eyes and ears.

To turn to Ian's other point, there should be no need to fear twerps pulling you up if you sing traditional songs. It's when people sing other stuff that they risk treading on thin ice. Different clubs and audiences have different ideas about what they find acceptable, and what might go down well with one audience might be anathema to another. You have to know your audience.

If you sing a traditional song at a folk club then you will still not be immune from the twerps who think they know everything, but you can at least be sure of your ground nd confident that you have a right to sing that material.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 09 - 03:38 AM

After all this time, Sheila Stewart singing 'Tifties Annie' still brings a lump to the throat and I can still fall out of my chair listening to Sam Larner sing 'Butter And Cheese And All'.
Do you think it's a genetic flaw - or what?


If it is, then I've inherited it too, Jim.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 09 - 03:56 AM

It took another teacher, from the French department but an enthusiast for Handel, who let us throw away the scores and listen, and who explained counterpoint by working backwards from boogie-woogie. He was able to put across his enthusiasm and opened my eyes and ears.

That reminds me, Acis & Galatea is on BBC4 soon (Friday 22nd May, 7.30) - so needs must I set the old box. Despite what I said earlier, I have no problem with Baroque, Renaissance, Ars Nova and other such Early Musics, and regard A&G as the very pip.

Oh, the pleasure of the plains!
Happy nymphs and happy swains,
Harmless, merry, free and gay,
Dance and sport the hours away.
For us the zephyr blows,
For us distills the dew,
For us unfolds the rose,
And flow'rs display their hue.
For us the winters rain,
For us the summers shine,
Spring swells for us the grain,
And autumn bleeds the wine.


Which just about sums up my feelings on Feral Folk actually...


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 09 - 04:10 AM

Ian
Thanks for thanks for that.
"Hence I feel able to say that if it is played in a folk club it is a folk song, and you are able to say that's rubbish."
This is a problem that narrowed down, and eventually stopped me (and thousands like me) going to folk clubs altogether. One by one I watched the 30-odd clubs in the London area adopt an anything goes policy until finally my choice was whittled down to around (say - cant remember exactly, three).
By broadening what was on offer, the policy had the opposite effect, audiences dropped, clubs disappeared and the music lost out. The period was recorded fairly comprehensively in the 'Crap Begets Crap' debate in the pages of Folk Review (another eventual victim of the 'anything goes' policy, along with what little access we had to the media).
I never experienced your paranoia at 'playing (or in my case singing) the wrong thing' - most clubs had a policy of sorts, even whan it was a policy not to have a policy - if you know what I mean. The problems rose (for me) when the latter began to float to the top and I would leave home at night not knowing what I was going to be given - and would return after a night at a folk club not hearing a folk song, or anything resembling one (I'm by no means a 'purist' - I was involved with MacColl for 20 years; he wrote more 'folk-based' songs than any other individual singer I knew, and he sang them accompanied, not a tradition of these islands.
I never quite met up with SS's "Blues, Shanties, Kipling, Cicely Fox Smith, Musical Hall, George Formby, Pop, County, Dylan, Cohen, Cash, Medieval Latin, Beatles, Irish Jigs and Reels, Scottish Strathspeys, Gospel, Rock, Classical Guitar, Native American Chants, Operatic Arias and even the occasional Traditional Song and Ballad", but things were obviously heading that way.
In the end it boils down to the freedom to choose what you are going to listen to - for me, you get that by the label you put on your choice.
I can, and do argue for what I believe to be folk music, which, for me remains a constant - SS's non-definition doesn't cut it for me becauseit has no logic, no track record and no documentation to back it up - it suggests that "words mean what we choose them to mean" - doesn't work like that.
Sorry - this is going on too long again.
Re. MacColl's argument about singing from your own background.
Whether it is permissable (never heard MacColl express it as anything but a personal opinion) for a Salford lad of Scots parentage living among exled Scots to sing Scots songs has been debated ad-nauseum - can only say it worked for me (and gave me access to the hundred odd ballads he breathed life into. It was never a directive to anybody; it was a policy for The Singers Club (I was, for a time a member of the audience committee which gave it the nod every now and again).
Suggest you read Peggy' Seeger's letter to The Living Tradition (issue 39)
Best,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 04:15 AM

The revival is heavy with contradiction, men with degrees and clean finger nails sing the painful plough, performers aim for classical virtuosity and ask for riders before they'll visit. It's a game lads, we take our pleasure where we will.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 May 09 - 04:21 AM

That's silly Gg. I play music with others and not just on my own, and with all due humility I have seen some of my musical output bear fruit in the music of others, so the sin of Onan is not in any musical sense my besetting sin.

But in any event, in the words of "Hair", masturbation can be fun.

And I still don't detect any constructive object or effect in your rantings.

The poster formerly known as Sinister Supporter makes a much more interesting point. My immediate reaction is that the main musical purpose of the community he postulates is not continuity, but discontinuity (that is to say the vast preponderance of that community is concerned with originality, not the covering or arranging of existing work) and that as he expresses it the stated community is so fragmented in terms of musical endeavour that he stretches the meaning of the word "community" and takes it outside the reasonable interpretation of the word in the 1954 definition. Indeed the word "community" is one of the pieces of the 1954 definition that probably by now needs a sub-definition of its own, for how far can you sub-divide a community before there is no community left?

Further, until such a community's reframing of existing work is adopted in that community, the reframing would not fall into the 1954 definition.

THere is of course a part of that community that purposefully sets out to play the works of others - tribute and covers bands - but their purpose is not to modify but slavishly to reproduce, so their work is caught by the "composed music" rider to the 1954 definition.

That would seem to leave the very limited range of work in that community that takes existing works and re-interprets them - like the Bonnie Raitt version of "If you've gotta make a fool of somebody" - much better known by Freddie and the Dreamers - or the version of "Wondrous Place" (best known by Billy Fury) used a year or so ago by a Japanese car manufacturer in its TV car ads - both closer in words and melody to their predecessor versions than Seth Lakeman's "Setting of the Sun".

Conversely, however, it leaves the potential for large swathes of recorded output from the blues boom to be debated for inclusion within the 1954 definition.

Well done, Left Jockstrap, possibly the first potentially useful contribution to the debate from an iconoclast (if you are an iconoclast).


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 May 09 - 04:30 AM

But isn't consumerist music produced & determined by a community too?

I think it's pretty clear that the definition is talking about a community defined by other things than music - i.e. people living, working, studying, playing rugby (etc) together & making music as an incidental part of that. Something which seems to happen a lot less now than it did even when I was a kid (although admittedly I grew up in Wales).


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 04:33 AM

Then we'll settle on Folk Revival music, the Sealed Knot of musicality. You may be a general of cavalry, I shall be a pikeman.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 May 09 - 04:56 AM

"Blues, Shanties, Kipling, Cicely Fox Smith, Musical Hall, George Formby, Pop, County, Dylan, Cohen, Cash, Medieval Latin, Beatles, Irish Jigs and Reels, Scottish Strathspeys, Gospel, Rock, Classical Guitar, Native American Chants, Operatic Arias and even the occasional Traditional Song and Ballad"

Do you still stand by that statement, S O'P, in the light of Sailor Ron's response that "Yes we do get all that he has mentioned, but, and it is a big but, well over 60% of what is performed is 'traditional'[ that is if you include broadsheets, chapbooks, and 'old songs by unknown authors], plus a fair number of what I would call songs written in the traditional style or idiom." in this post or is Ron getting it wrong?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 09 - 05:08 AM

"The revival is heavy with contradiction, men with degrees and clean finger nails sing the painful plough,"
No contradiction here; the universal nature of the content of folk songs trancend their settings: it's why they took root wherever they landed.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 14 May 09 - 05:18 AM

'glueman' on Richard Bridge:


"If only you were were important it might matter. Fortunuately you are a musical irrelevance and your opinions meaningless."

I'm sure that Mr Bridge can defend himself - but I find such an outrageous personal attack very offensive. Belittling an opponent in such a way is not going to make you any friends, 'glueman', or persuade anyone that your opinions are worth listening to.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 09 - 06:02 AM

I think it's pretty clear that the definition is talking about a community defined by other things than music

I know of no community that is solely defined by music, there is always something else going down which is extra to the music. The musical communities I'm part of extend above and beyond the music, which might rest at its heart, though to an outsider it might appear the music is a secondary consideration to its ultimate purpose of simply being a community. Even with those musicians I work with on-line who I've never met face to face I'm dealing with things other than music; even when I've worked in chamber ensembles with total strangers there is soon established a human contact that defines a sense of community over and above the music.   

Do you still stand by that statement, S O'P, in the light of Sailor Ron's response

It varies I'd say; though I would say 60% trad. sounds about right on average, especially given Ron's special interpretation of the word which many of the 1954 faithful wouldn't agree with. Ron is my mentor in such matters - and it is a wise man who listens to what he says. That said, I wouldn't like to think of anyone coming to our club and being disappointed if they didn't hear everything in that list, but if they fancied singing us an aria from Acis and Galatea accompanied on a ukulele (or whatever) then I'm sure neither Ron nor I, nor anyone else would object.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 09 - 06:07 AM

No contradiction here; the universal nature of the content of folk songs trancend their settings: it's why they took root wherever they landed.

So, what you're saying, Jim, is that there is no revival as such, only a continuity of the tradition that has taken root away from its initial context? I'm cool with that, very cool indeed...


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 06:09 AM

Hang on a tootin second Shitrod. I've posted opinion, enquiry, gentle digs and been dismissed as an arriviste by people who know nothing about me in the most cynical (or robust as you and your self-appointed gatekeepers like to think) way.
I didn't start the spring offensive or the autumen one either. Why on earth would want anyone such plain nasty bullies as friends. If I post in a spirit of equanimity you perceive barbs and if I reply in kind to Bridge I'm 'outrageous'.

Grow up, be nice and stop playing the lady.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Musket
Date: 14 May 09 - 06:18 AM

It is sad of course that many people stopped going to folk clubs as they did not represent the ideal of the person concerned. As many folk clubs, including the ones I was involved in running, had a commercial aspect to them in order to book artists some weeks, then you could say that the piper calls the tune.

Does that mean that they are not folk clubs or that folk clubs evolve?

Depends on where you are coming from.

Just as an aside, regarding Jim Carroll and I both referring to Ewan McColl and his views. I once interviewed him for a radio documentary where I explored his sometimes intransigent views, (which strengthened with age,) and I asked him about two names, two geographical roots and how that affects his take on promoting indigenous expression through song. He basically said that he is a performing artiste and that requires a chameleon approach. My respect for him grew through that comment. (Politicians take note!)


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 14 May 09 - 06:19 AM

I reget I didn't make the thread title more specific

When I initiated the question, I was looking for a more current designation of 'What makes it a Folk Song?', applying criteria of today, rather than the erudite but rather grey, [& dated] 1954 version.

Little did I imagine the debate would metamophosise itself into a plainly obvious clash of opinions of on the one hand, performers & the other, audients.

The resulting furore is somewhat reminiscent of this debate thread.cfm?threadid=110584
from some time back


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 06:38 AM

Definitions throw light on the best and worst in human nature, the desire to cherish and preserve and to place on a pedestal and make untouchable. One detects the lack of a female touch and the pragmatism and immediacy that touch brings.

As a man I say we let the chicks tell us what a folk song is.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 09 - 06:39 AM

"So, what you're saying, Jim..."
Nope, sorry - no agreement here.
I'm saying that the content of folk songs (proper), as distinct from pop, singer-songwriter, et al, is one we can all identify with.
The transmission, say, of The Unfortunate Rake, can allow somebody dying of clap to be specifically a soldier, sailor, marine, ploughman, navvy, cowhand, gunfighter, whore (or punter of same) - not part of a definition; just a feature of construction and transmission.
Ian; the piper should always call the tune - certainly not the one who pays (if that's what you mean) otherwise you may as well close the club and install a juke-box.
A folk club should always be a place for creative and interprative artists, not monkeys on barrel-organs.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 May 09 - 06:47 AM

I know of no community that is solely defined by music, there is always something else going down which is extra to the music.

OK, then I think it's pretty clear that the definition is talking about a community primarily defined by other things than music.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 May 09 - 07:15 AM

Mr H - there's defining and then there's singing. Speaking as a paid-up member of the 1954 Faithful, I'm happy to accept The Scarecrow or Shoals of Herring or Old Molly Metcalfe as a folk song, even though each one of them has a single correct version; at least, if they aren't folk songs I'm not sure what they are. On the other hand, Graham Coxon (of Blur) has just released what's being described as "his first folk album"; I haven't heard it, but I'd be quite surprised if there's anything I'd consider folk on there. (Under the horse definition, of course, all his albums have been folk music, along with all of everyone else's albums.)

Going back a few steps, I think there are two reasons why people like me hang on to the 1954 definition. One is just that it is a definition - it doesn't rely on subjective judgments or circular arguments, which all the suggested alternatives seem to do. But the main reason is that

a) there are bajillions of traditional songs out there; hundreds of songs, thousands of variants, a lifetime of music
b) there aren't that many places where you can hear them sung and even fewer places where you can sing them
c) most of the places where you can carry the label 'folk'
d) an evening at a folk club listening to songs by Ralph McTell and Buddy Holly and here's one I dusted off recently is an evening that could have been spent listening to traditional songs
e) there are lots of folk clubs where you can spend an evening listening to songs by Ralph McTell and Johnny Mathis and here's one I finished this afternoon, and not that many where where you can spend the time listening to traditional songs
f) this is a damn shame

I'm not anti-singer/songwriter - I worship Bob as much as the next man, I've got most of Robyn Hitchcock's back catalogue, I even write songs myself. I just think traditional songs in performance are a scarce and valuable resource - and if people are turning up to FCs not even expecting to hear any traditional material, then we're not looking after that resource very well.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 May 09 - 07:58 AM

Pip Radish

if people are turning up to FCs not even expecting to hear any traditional material, then we're not looking after that resource very well.

I think the key word in that semtence is "we". Folk club organisers aren't some separate species or power mad entrepreneurs, they are, generally, members of the audience who, when the call came for volunteers, stood still while everbody else took one step backward. They are driven by their love of their chosen musical style.

It's no good sitting back and complaining that others aren't providing the music you want. If you want a job done properly, do it yourself.

P.S. I have occasionally heard Ralph McTell songs in a folk club; I can't recall hearing a Buddy Holly song and I'm damned sure I've never heard anything by Johnny Mathis.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 09 - 08:13 AM

"So, what you're saying, Jim..."
Nope, sorry - no agreement here.


Glueman said: The revival is heavy with contradiction, men with degrees and clean finger nails sing the painful plough

Jim Carroll replied: No contradiction here; the universal nature of the content of folk songs trancend their settings: it's why they took root wherever they landed.

S O'P concludes, therefore, that Jim Carroll believes there exists a rightful & traditional continuity in which songs once sung by the Hearty Ploughman by the fireside after a hard day tramping the furrows are now sung by the Effete Social Worker in their local folk club after a hard day working through their case-load. Indeed, like he says, that the universal nature of the content of folk song has transcended their setting and taken root where it has landed; the seeds and spores sprouting a whole new harvest.

Like I say, I'm pretty cool with that. The human context of traditional folk song is of great importance to me & forms much of my social life. Living singers have become far more special to me than dead ones; and whilst I respect & acknowledge the sources, I nevertheless recognise a continuity whereby such things still have considerable potency.

I think it's pretty clear that the definition is talking about a community primarily defined by other things than music

All music is an aspect of community, be it the primary defining factor or not; and even then the priorities of that community are in no way static. And the last thing the 1954 Definition is clear - rather it is a grubby paternalistic fantasy that effectively denies the individual creativity of the perceived lower orders of a still feudal society. As such, it is a bourgeois conspiracy that should have been ditched long ago.

I think there are two reasons why people like me hang on to the 1954 definition.

Don't tempt me! ;-]


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 09 - 08:18 AM

I've never heard anything by Johnny Mathis.

I occasionally trundle out When a Child is Born, though I tend to sing it to the melody of Mutton Pie (as sung by Jim Eldon) so maybe it don't count...

Its all a dream and illusion now
It must come true, sometimes soon somehow
All across the land dawns a brand new morn
This comes to pass when a child is born

With the fol-the-diddle di-do, fol the diddle-dee!


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Musket
Date: 14 May 09 - 08:33 AM

Yes, this thread has strayed somewhat from the original intention.

Maybe it has evolved through the telling down the page?

That makes it a folk thread.......


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 14 May 09 - 08:42 AM

........don't tempt me!!


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Compare and contrast
Date: 14 May 09 - 08:45 AM

Suibhne O'Piobaireachd
"a grubby paternalistic fantasy that effectively denies the individual creativity of the perceived lower orders of a still feudal society"

From the 1954 definition:
"(ii) variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group"

Huh???

And did the feudal system still operate in 1954?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 08:51 AM

Whether one takes a sealed or open-ended view of folk music there are consequences. If entirely past tense it is re-enactment, jolly re-enactment among friends and perhaps even a community of sorts but positively loaded with contradiction if not irony. The 1954 close readers appear not be big on irony which is a shame because there are worse things than let's pretend, even let's pretend we're hearty.

The open-enders OTOH have the problem of determining what isn't folk. Designated folk context doesn't quite do it for me - though I can totally see where it's coming from - and the solution isn't to return to the Old Irreducibles of 54 if you believe the instinct still runs through living, breathing, folk.
That makes folk easier to discern than define, more an approach than a sound, a mood not a setting, mercurial not fixed. Which is what most living breathing types decided for themselves long ago, so long ago they were still writing and singing the old music.
To paraphrase a kosher desert father, when two or more are gathered and decide it's folk, folk it certainly is.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 09 - 09:35 AM

Huh???

The key there is variation, C n' C - origin & composition isn't dealt with in the 1954, whose Faithful would have us believe there will be no more Folk Song because, as Pip says: the conditions under which the process described by Karpeles could work don't obtain any longer. Not sure how this effects the various individuals who continue to create very convincing idiomatic folk songs, nor yet those members of the folk community who take them to their hearts, but I personally can find just as much meaning in The Old Songs, When All Men Sing and Bring Us Barrel etc. as I do in the bona fide traditional numbers, so someone must be doing something right, and thank God they are. As Sun Ra says: Nature never loses anything.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 14 May 09 - 09:41 AM

I can't recall hearing a Buddy Holly song and I'm damned sure I've never heard anything by Johnny Mathis.

A friend of mine regularly does Buddy Holly, when he's not doing Hank Williams or his own songs in the style of Hank (which are excellent - it took me several hearings to realise they were his own).

At Sale Folk Club, just before Christmas, I heard "When a child is born" (complete with spoken section) sung from a music stand because "I'm too busy to learn songs". Good night, though.

And yes, Snail, what any performer - down to rank amateurs like me - talks about on Mudcat is far less important than what we actually perform and where we do it. I still think these threads can be informative.

If entirely past tense it is re-enactment

False dichotomy. An evening of songs by Buddy Holly is "re-enactment" in just the same way. If you can hear new interpretations, new variations and new songs in the same place where you hear trad. songs sung the way Cecil wrote them down, then a "mostly traditional" night is no more "past tense" than a "mostly MacColl, McTell and McCartney" night.

the 1954 Definition is clear - rather it is a grubby paternalistic fantasy that effectively denies the individual creativity of the perceived lower orders of a still feudal society.

Ah, shut up 'n play yer kemence.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 09:46 AM

Difference is nobody gathered McCartney and McTell songs together and claimed they were 'special'.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 09 - 09:54 AM

Ah, shut up 'n play yer kemence.

Why do people keep telling me that? All apart from WAV that is, whose countenance visibly darkens at the thoughts of any accompaniment, let alone one who dares accompany E. Trads on a Turkish folk-fiddle.

I remember an interview with Martin Carthy & Norma Waterson in (maybe) Southern Rag in which they said singing traditional songs was like living in an old house. The house we're living in now is pretty old - over 120 years anyway, which means the men who laid the bricks and mixed the mortar are long dead, which is more than (perhaps) might be said for the idiots who fitted the double-glazing and installed the flame-effect gas fires. Enough remains however, by way of banisters and plaster work etc. to give me occasional pause to ponder, and feel part of something welcoming that engenders a sense of provenance which is why I sing E. Trads anyway.

Ah, shut up 'n play yer kemence.

All right, all right...


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Robert Black of " Sticky Willie "
Date: 14 May 09 - 10:01 AM

There cannot be a timescale to define a "Folk Song". When Robert Burns wrote " Ae Fond Kiss " there were probably those who said he's just copied his words onto an existing tune. Streets of London..folk song ? Pete Abbot's " Windy Harbour " ... folk song ? Truth be told.... if our grandchidren want to enjoy singing them , then they become "folk music ". The Beatles & Stones are tomorrows folk music !!!   and the list goes on ....   Donovan, Dylan, Credence, Lightfoot,McTell,Croce, Clapton, String Band, John Martin, .........
You can add your own 10 or 20 personal favourites....
I,ve sung "Brown eyed girl" , " Circus of Sour", & "Sweet Caroline".... at "FOLK FESTIVALS " & to date nobody has thrown anything at me.( Except that prat in Path-heid ). A good song or tune becomes folk music by it's quality & appeal. JUST ENJOY.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Compare and contrast
Date: 14 May 09 - 10:52 AM

Suibhne O'Piobaireachd:
"origin & composition isn't dealt with in the 1954 (definition)"

1954 definition:
"it can likewise be applied to music which has originated with an individual composer"

Huh???

And what about the feudal system, as practised in 1954?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 09 - 12:00 PM

Huh???

But only that which has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community, C n' C. Otherwise, the feudal residue lingers yet...


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 May 09 - 12:15 PM

I rather like the idea of a community that is defined by an element of commonality other than its music.

I'm inclined to consider that Gg is slipping further and further into a diegesis of his own...


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 09 - 12:15 PM

Sop:
You said:
"The revival is heavy with contradiction, men with degrees and clean finger nails sing the painful plough,"
You then said:
"once sung by the Hearty Ploughman by the fireside after a hard day tramping the furrows"
Content our source - which or both? - I would love to find some point of agreement with you.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 May 09 - 12:24 PM

only that which has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community

Yes. Otherwise it wouldn't be folk music (although it might be just as good). I don't see the problem. "Folk is good" doesn't mean "if it's not folk it's bad", and it doesn't mean "if it's good it must be folk".


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 14 May 09 - 01:14 PM

"Definitions throw light on the best and worst in human nature, the desire to cherish and preserve and to place on a pedestal and make untouchable. One detects the lack of a female touch and the pragmatism and immediacy that touch brings."

As a man I say we let the chicks tell us what a folk song is." 'glueman', 14th May 09 - 6:38 AM

Glueman you really do 'take the biscuit'! So far, in order to persuade us that the 1954 definition is rubbish and that folk song is anything you say it is you've tried:

- To send us on a guilt trip because of your hurt feelings (Ahh! Diddums!). Although it sounds like over-dramatisation, foot-stamping and paranoia because you can't get your own way to me.

- To accuse us of being political reactionaries who patronise the singers as you maintain the collectors did.

- To accuse us of being supporters of Victorian romanticism.

- To blind us with science by occasionally lapsing into impenetrable 'academic speak'.

- To directly insult some of us who don't agree with you.

And all that having failed NOW you attempt a feminist critique!

What next? Air strikes?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 09 - 01:19 PM

Sop:
You said:
"The revival is heavy with contradiction, men with degrees and clean finger nails sing the painful plough,"


I didn't say that, Jim - Glueman said it, and I quoted it along with your response. That bit about the ploughman was me though; I've got a thing about the way these songs might tie in with the old methods of agriculture and how they might serve to remind even the Effete Social Worker of something long gone yet somehow fundamental to our well-being. But then again, I'm romantic like that and my bookshelves are stuffed with stuff by George Ewart Evans. I'm no ploughman though, nor yet Effete Social Worker, but I can dream with the best of them...

What was your point anyway?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 01:24 PM

Shimrod, tell me you're in a job where the sound of your own voice gets a free run.

Chicks get to say is a feminist critique? This would be gender and structuralism by Keef Richard presumably?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 09 - 01:28 PM

Sorry, crossed lines
- I thought you were saying that it was incongruous that effete workers (electricians in the building trade (rtd.!!!)) should sing songs about horny handed-peasants; for me, that's not what the songs are about - they transcend their settings.
My bookshelves are stuffed with G. E. E. too.
Jim Carroll


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