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What makes it a Folk Song?

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glueman 14 May 09 - 01:55 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 14 May 09 - 02:22 PM
Richard Bridge 14 May 09 - 02:29 PM
Jim Carroll 14 May 09 - 02:34 PM
glueman 14 May 09 - 02:41 PM
glueman 14 May 09 - 02:46 PM
Jim Carroll 14 May 09 - 03:00 PM
glueman 14 May 09 - 03:12 PM
Richard Bridge 14 May 09 - 04:18 PM
glueman 14 May 09 - 04:35 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 14 May 09 - 04:40 PM
glueman 14 May 09 - 04:53 PM
glueman 14 May 09 - 05:04 PM
Jack Blandiver 14 May 09 - 05:17 PM
Richard Bridge 14 May 09 - 05:59 PM
Richard Bridge 14 May 09 - 06:01 PM
glueman 14 May 09 - 06:04 PM
Richard Bridge 14 May 09 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 14 May 09 - 06:22 PM
glueman 14 May 09 - 06:24 PM
glueman 14 May 09 - 06:32 PM
Jack Blandiver 15 May 09 - 03:12 AM
Jack Blandiver 15 May 09 - 03:20 AM
Richard Bridge 15 May 09 - 04:14 AM
Spleen Cringe 15 May 09 - 04:42 AM
Mr Happy 15 May 09 - 04:58 AM
TheSnail 15 May 09 - 05:06 AM
glueman 15 May 09 - 05:08 AM
Jack Blandiver 15 May 09 - 06:01 AM
Richard Bridge 15 May 09 - 06:31 AM
Richard Bridge 15 May 09 - 06:38 AM
glueman 15 May 09 - 06:51 AM
TheSnail 15 May 09 - 07:07 AM
Phil Edwards 15 May 09 - 07:39 AM
glueman 15 May 09 - 08:06 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 15 May 09 - 09:11 AM
glueman 15 May 09 - 09:17 AM
Brian Peters 15 May 09 - 09:42 AM
Phil Edwards 15 May 09 - 10:07 AM
glueman 15 May 09 - 10:40 AM
Jim Carroll 15 May 09 - 12:31 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 15 May 09 - 12:50 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 15 May 09 - 02:52 PM
Phil Edwards 15 May 09 - 03:15 PM
Frozen Gin (inactive) 15 May 09 - 03:46 PM
glueman 15 May 09 - 04:20 PM
Richard Bridge 15 May 09 - 05:17 PM
Jim Carroll 15 May 09 - 05:22 PM
glueman 15 May 09 - 05:36 PM
Phil Edwards 15 May 09 - 05:52 PM
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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 01:55 PM

Of course songs transcend their setting, to some degree most music does. The issue for me is there's no position of passive appreciation and scholarship doesn't ring true for a living music.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 14 May 09 - 02:22 PM

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

I don't understand what that means, 'glueman' - is it good ... or bad, perhaps?

Who is "Keef Richard"? Does he write books on "gender and structuralism"? What is "gender and structuralism" ... is it a load of obscure bollocks written by Arts graduates? I'm just a simple Scientist. Help!


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 May 09 - 02:29 PM

Are social workers effete? If so why?

It seems to me that assisting a battered woman to leave her battering husband, or an abused child to leave its abusing parents can be a very dangerous trade. Certainly when my late wife (a then social worker) was dealing with one rather savage family from the notoriously dangerous Gravesend Waterdales she received frequent death threats and was more than once followed by car - and she had police advice if threatened on the road to drive directly (and without too much regard for usual road rules) directly to the fortress-like Gravesend police station.

If that's effete to you Gg, you must be well'ard.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 09 - 02:34 PM

"Of course songs transcend their setting, to some degree most music does."
Is that true of song?
Pop songs, for me on the outside, have no settings; their characters - where they exist, have no identities, there is no narrative to follow and become involved in.
They are there to be listened to, not identified with IMO.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 02:41 PM

This jumbling together of posts and posters suggests premature bewilderment. I've never mentioned social workers directly or indirectly and have no strong opinions on them.

Shimrod, I said women might be a better judge of a folk song than men who are inclined to pedestals of one kind or another and strict definitions, even in the arts it seems. You replied with "And all that having failed NOW you attempt a feminist critique!" Actually, no I didn't. You then said, in a retort worthy of a High Court judge in Private Eye "Who is 'Keef Richard'"?

I'm beginning to understand, slowly, what we're dealing with here.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 02:46 PM

"Pop songs, for me on the outside, have no settings"

I'll use that brush to do my yard when you've finished with it Jim. From a cast of thousands I'll choose Gene Pitney's 24 Hours From Tulsa, Don't You Want Me by Human League, This Woman's Work by Kate Bush and anything by Morrisey.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 09 - 03:00 PM

Glueman,
Wasn't making a definitive statement - I said I was an outsider - you've given me 4 (3 of which I don't know - the other I only just remember because it's nearly as old as a folk song). Anything a Kate Bush song might contain is obliterated (for me) by the vocal gyrations. The narrative has become secondary to the text.
The only Morrisey one I know is the one where he knocked out the Russian sailor - sorry.
Virtually all the songs I hear today I find as I described; they alienate rather than involve. Trying to follow them is like wrestling with fog.
On the other hand, folk songs (as I recognise them to be), are populated with recognisable, people - that, I believe, is why they have survived.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 03:12 PM

Outside isn't always the best place to observe from Jim. It's what makes non-folkies believe we all sing, in the words of Thomas Hardy's Natives, "in the voice of a bee up a flue".


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 May 09 - 04:18 PM

YOu are correct in one thing, Gg (actually, I note you are now "g"). It is Left Jockstrap who is obsessed with the allegedly effete.

You, on the other hand, seem still to be tilting at windmills.

Have you got a constructive purpose, and if so what is it?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 04:35 PM

"Have you got a constructive purpose, and if so what is it?"

Now if I'd have said that the battalion of 54 Irreducibles would be wailing like banshees. I'll offer a How Dare You, a half hearted one as I'm feeling generous because your generalisations have found you out.
What's that you say? Everso sorry you didn't mention social workers after all it was just another bile and spleen job? You're forgiven. Try not to do it again and we'll say no more about it.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 14 May 09 - 04:40 PM

Further to the dismissal of Pop song as story. As a lover of fairy tale, folk tale, poetry and mythology, I believe it was specifically the story content which drew me into contemporary music from between around seven years of age (when I discovered the magical fairy tales of Genesis and the rather more 'unexpergated fairy tales' of Alice Cooper) until the present, and the discovery of the same in Folk song about six months ago which drew me here...
While Jim C. might not personally relate to the story content in Pop songs, I believe he must accept the fact that for many, upon many of us (who perhaps are not of his generation?) DO relate strongly to the stories contained in the songs of many excellent contemporary (and arguably 'folk' according to the "non-1954 definition" - any budding theorists fancy drafting this?) lyricists.

Glueman I'll take your Morrissey and raise you a Neil Young 'Southern Man', a Billy Bragg 'Man in the Iron Mask', a Jah Wobble 'A13', a House of Love 'My Love in a Car' and a Beatles 'She's Leaving Home'... ;-)


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 04:53 PM

...and before we get to any number of Prog concept albums CS. Can I swap my Morrissey for the Shangri-La's Leader of the Pack? Or Jan and Dean's Dead Man's Curve (that's mostly spoken so no impenetrable noise for seekers of clarity)


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 05:04 PM

The song is about a girl named Betty, asked by friends to confirm that she is dating Jimmy, the leader of a motorcycle gang. After singing of love at first sight ("I met him at the candy store/He turned around and smiled at me/You get the picture?/That's when I fell for the Leader of the Pack"), Betty's heart turns to despair as she bemoans her parents' disapproval. The parents claim Jimmy hails from "the wrong side of the tracks" and will be a bad influence on her. They ask Betty to tell Jimmy goodbye and find someone new.

Betty does as she is asked, and an upset Jimmy after putting up his bravado speeds off on his motorcycle. Moments later, Jimmy crashes on a rain-slickened surface and dies; Betty's pleas for Jimmy to slow down were in vain. In the end, Betty is left to deal with heartbreak but vows never to forget her fling with Jimmy, the "Leader of the Pack."

As told by George 'Shadow' Morton to Cecil Sharp in Ballads of the New World 'A Maid and a Widow I Be.'


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 May 09 - 05:17 PM

Are social workers effete? If so why?

If that's effete to you Gg, you must be well'ard.

It is Left Jockstrap who is obsessed with the allegedly effete.

I do wish you'd play nicely, Richard.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 May 09 - 05:59 PM

Moi? It was not I who accused all social workers of being effete.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 May 09 - 06:01 PM

Oh, which, I think, brings me back to a perfectly reasonable question.

Have you, glueman, a constructive purpose (as far as your postings here are concerned) and if so what is it?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 06:04 PM

Drawing a line between art and pedantry.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 May 09 - 06:19 PM

I'll take that as a "no" then.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 14 May 09 - 06:22 PM

"Have you, glueman, a constructive purpose (as far as your postings here are concerned) and if so what is it?" Richard Bridge

I think, Richard, that his 'purpose' is to sing contemporary(ish) pop songs in folk clubs. But he also seems to think that he needs 'permission' to do this. In other words he seems to need his 'theory', that folk song is anything he says it is, sanctioned by 'higher authority' (which, I suppose, is we supporters of the 1954 definition! How weird is that!). What he fails to realise is that no-one is stopping him from singing anything he likes in a folk club but that he must take responsibility for it, and accept the possibility that it might not go down well.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 06:24 PM

You'd have thought it was unnecessary. Pointing out the difference between art - songs, dance and all that and definitions and nitpicking but you'd be surprised how much work there is in my line, even in a credit crunch.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 09 - 06:32 PM

Says Lord Chief Justice "Keef Who?" Shimrod. The chance of me singing anything in a folk club are slim to non-existent. If you want to hear Lord Randall at pub closing time and all the way down our road there may be a small opportunity, especially if the lurcher has caught something nice for me tea.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 May 09 - 03:12 AM

It was not I who accused all social workers of being effete.

There was only ever the one, Richard - as in The Effete Social Worker, a drinking / singing pal circa 1982 who was as passionate about Traditional Song as he was inept at his day job. He turned me on to a lot of good old singers but as a fan of The Fall (who in 1982 were on top of their game) I drew the line at Folk Rock (the line is still drawn) though I could dig that Sam Larner & Mark E. Smith were maybe getting at something similar with respect to vocal technique & storytelling. Seminal stuff!


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 May 09 - 03:20 AM

PS - The Effete Social Worker's party piece was as faithful a rendering of Captain Beefheart's Well as you're ever likely to hear. Suitably impressed, I decided this should be my part piece too, which it was for a while until I neglected it for too long and it passed beyond the point of recall. These days, if pushed, I'll sing McGinties Meal an' Ale instead...


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

Well, whatever the OP's intentions, I think this thread has now drawn to a conclusion. glueman apparently objects to the definition simply because it is a definition and has no interest in formulating an accurate or more accurate definition.

On the other hand, those of us who do think that htere is a difference in kind, not merely sound, betweena fok song and other song have gained a possibly valuable insignt - namely that the expression "community" in the 1954 definition applies best to an community with a commonality afforde other than by its music itself.

It does beg (in both senses) the question of how many people are needed to form a community, but I do think it is a step forwards in improvig the 1954 definition.

THe next question I suppose is whether the transmission element in the definition can be extended to include oral learning from reordings and/or electronic relay mechanisms like say youtube, and/or from writing. I suggest that that too would be an advance in applying the definition in the modern world and consistent with the evolutionary permission inherent in the 1954 definition.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 15 May 09 - 04:42 AM

This social worker's not feckin' effete!


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 15 May 09 - 04:58 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6FxSM88H


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 May 09 - 05:06 AM

I can drive a tractor or at least I could forty years ago.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 15 May 09 - 05:08 AM

"has no interest in formulating"

You got me bang to rights. It's always about the music. Keep the formulas in Shimrod's laboratory and people in the pub having a singsong.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 May 09 - 06:01 AM

I suggest that that too would be an advance in applying the definition in the modern world and consistent with the evolutionary permission inherent in the 1954 definition.

That's the sort of thing The Effete Social Worker would come out with whilst smoking Red Leb skinned up with licorice papers (so as to more resemble cigars) outside The Bridge in Newcastle after another mind numbing set of political proselyting by Ewan McColl. You see, The Effete Social Worker really though he was a traditional singer and such considerations mattered to him. One thing we did agree on was that Henry Cow was dried up Zappa, but we still loved them for it.

Still do.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tl3AXgyzYgs

Situation that rules your world (despite all you've said)
I would strike against it but the rule displaces...

There I burn in my own lights fuelled with flags torn out
of books, and histories of marching together...
United with heroes, we were the rage, the fire.
But I was given a different destiny - knotted in closer despair.
Calling to heroes do you have to speak that way all the time ?
Tales told by idiots in paperbacks; a play of forms
to spite my fabulous need to fight and live.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 May 09 - 06:31 AM

I don't think anyone wanted to stop the people in the pub or anywhere else having a singsong.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 May 09 - 06:38 AM

By the way, as now an "effete" lawyer, I have, for a living, over the years, at different times

Driven a tractor
Picked hops
Collected rent for landlords
Been a fitter's mate
Worked on an assembly line building fluid control valves
Been a labourer in a paper-mill, mostly throwing logs into grinders
Been an agricultural labourer loading bagged corn onto trailers
Been a car body preparer in a spray-shop
Been white-van-man
Been a mobile disk-jockey


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 15 May 09 - 06:51 AM

Jim's nice wide yard brush will come in handy here because I believe this thread goes some way to confirming a long held suspicion - namely that folk music, especially traditional music attracts people who like RULES! Is it any accident Shimrod subjects an art form to the same scrutiny a scientific experiment would receive?

Traditional music is attractive for all kinds of visceral reasons and also because it's old. Those characteristics make it special. Other less old music has a similar visceral call and I'm content to call that folk song too.


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

glueman

folk music, especially traditional music attracts people who like RULES!

No, Mudcat attracts people who like rules and people who like kicking against them even when they don't affect them at all.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 15 May 09 - 07:39 AM

Is it any accident Shimrod subjects an art form to the same scrutiny a scientific experiment would receive?

Unlike the freewheeling individual who asked for

a suggestion as to what is the minimum amount of change to be considered folk music according to '54. Is it two person transfer, sixty people, one verse change, 5 lines?

(A classic case of sorites - the 'heap' paradox - incidentally.)

Snail:

people who like kicking against them even when they don't affect them at all

I think that's about it. Very punk, which is all to the good, but a bit tedious after a while.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 15 May 09 - 08:06 AM

No more tedious than Moses tablet persuaders surely? You'll find if Bridge and his merry pranksters stopped spreading their fundamentalism people like myself would retire to the happy corner to talk about folk music.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 15 May 09 - 09:11 AM

I don't have a very academic bent, but I'm still taken with the notion of dissecting this 1954 definition and analysing it so that perhaps genuinely curious non-partisan (and not very academic) party - like myself - might better get to grips with some of it.
I was rather hoping that this board, being chock full of academics as it is, might respond to that interest. My questions are not very ordered, or indeed thorough. But here they are CUT & PASTED from a PM to a fellow member:

What are the premises - both explicit and implicit - upon which the conclusions are predicated?
Can these premises be shown to be valid or otherwise?

What methods of research were used in the collating of materials which support the conclusions?
To what degree do these methods stand up to modern scrutiny?

To what extent does the alteration in modern usage of the meaning of such terms as 'community' and 'oral transmission' effect our understanding and interpretation of the conclusions?
(I think RBridge has begun addressing these questions already btw.)

How would modern anthropologists, historians and musicologists view the 1954 definition?

Are there any logical flaws to the 1954 argument?
Where are it's strengths or weaknesses evident linguistically, methodologically, contextually.

And so on..

I wish I had a better grasp of some of the issues which those questions raise. In fact I'm not phrasing the questions all that well (they're only really there as examples of elements I find lacking and thus unsatisfactory and frustrating in discussions like these.) But unfortunately I don't, so I ask your indulgence...

If you were doing a fully objective critical analysis of the 1954 definition, perhaps indeed writing a paper on it, what questions would you posit for that analysis, and how would you address and answer them?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 15 May 09 - 09:17 AM

Crow Sister I suspect any critical analysis of 1954 would be seen as criticism of it in a partisan way - but would love to be proved wrong. Here's hoping.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 15 May 09 - 09:42 AM

A critical analysis would be fine, but what we tend to get are wild, unsupported statements like "grubby paternalistic fantasy" and "bourgeois conspiracy" which (even if intended tongue-in-cheek) don't make for a very civilized discussion. If you take the view that, since 'posh people' or 'academics' wrote it, it must be a load of bollocks which patronized the working class, then you're condemning ethnomusicology, sociology, anthropology and who knows what else to the bin as well.

The idea of 'pure' oral transmission has taken a knock as we've realised the number of the old songs that had been appearing in broadsides or chapbooks for three hundred years before Sharp's time, so the clause in '1954' insisting that the tradition is "unwritten" might need to be modified. On the other hand there's plenty of evidence, from song variants themselves and from the actual accounts of singers, for the importance of oral transmission and the vernacular remoulding of broadside texts. And broadsides rarely included tunes, of course.

It might be worth restarting your discussion on one of the old '1954' threads, Crow Sister - if you can bear to to drag the evil dead from their graves - since Mr. Happy's already told us that a '1954' debate wasn't what he was after when he started this one.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 15 May 09 - 10:07 AM

If you were doing a fully objective critical analysis of the 1954 definition, perhaps indeed writing a paper on it, what questions would you posit for that analysis, and how would you address and answer them?

I think by going to the methodological level you're begging the big question here: what do you mean by a "critical analysis"? What's the question you're asking?

There are any number of questions you could ask. Taking the definition in its own terms, you could ask: does it hang together logically? does it adequately define an identifiable body of music which Karpeles et al were aware of? does it still adequately define an identifiable body of music? what are the problem areas and borderline cases, and do they suggest the need to amend it?

Or you could go down the route of asking whether it adequately defines the thing we call 'folk', and if not why not - although I think this thread and others like it are an awful warning against this approach.

Or you could ask, does the definition describe a body of songs which is still being added to & a process that's continuing? And if not, is that a problem? Does the definition need to be expanded to include new forms of transmission? (My own answers would be a) probably not; b) no and c) no, it defines what it defines.)

Or you could do unpack the underlying assumptions of the text by doing a Szczelkun/Harker job on the EFDSS, which might suggest that great vistas of haut-bourgeois complacency lurk in the gaps between the words (I think they probably do, but I don't find it interferes with my understanding of the words).

Or... dunno. But you've got to have an underlying question - more to the point, you almost certainly have got an underlying question, or you wouldn't be bothered about asking.

Personally I've been pleasantly surprised by how well the 54 definition has stood up to the challenges it's received in this and other threads; it seems pretty clear to me that there is an identifiable group of songs which the definition does describe, even if that group is a bit ragged round the edges (as Brian said, it doesn't include all broadside ballads, for instance). Whether we call that group of songs 'folk', 'traditional' or something else again (I've suggested 'Snelgrove') is secondary.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 15 May 09 - 10:40 AM

First off the definition is too unwieldy, reflecting defining processes of its time. If there's a need to identify a 'music of a community' you might begin with something as plain as 'adopted and transformed' as key ingredients. That would included modern football songs and chants which undergo such changes, pub drinking songs (inc. popular songs) modern nonsense songs, etc.

The contradiction in one social group examining the artifacts of another was not problematic then (read any popular boys adventure novel of the period to see how 'ordered their estate' was) and there was an impulse in exclude rather than include - which it seems still goes on.
Society as a whole is more atomised than it was when the definition was drawn up and processes more immediate and proliferating. A comminity definition has to follow those changes.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 May 09 - 12:31 PM

"folk music, especially traditional music attracts people who like RULES!"
It's very difficult to concentrate on the subject of this thread for the sound of grinding axes.
Since when has a definitition been a RULE? If the present definition is rejected, won't this mean it will be replaced by yet another RULE?
A far as I'm concerned, the 1954 DEFINITION, while needing adjustment, has served pretty well as a guide for me, as a field worker, as a singer and as somebody who likes to know where to look when I want to find something.
If it is to be replaced, adusted, or left as it stands at present, it will have to be to the satisfaction of all involved.
The idea that any definition be changed in the interest of a tiny handful on 'anything goes' clubs that wish to include "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" who wish to cram their wares under the folk umbrella is, of course, a nonsense - this would not be re-definition or adjustment, it would merely be removing the word 'folk' from the term 'folk music'.
It would be interesting to know where the re-definers are coming from. I'm left with the impression that they are, in the main, not just people who don't understand folk music, but don't really like it very much, nor the "remote old coves on field-recordings" who gave it to us.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 15 May 09 - 12:50 PM

'Glueman' and 'Crow Sister' there's nothing stopping either or both of you from undertaking this 'critical analysis' of the 1954 definition - why dump the responsibility onto someone else? Don't know how much of the orginal documentation survives - but I'm sure that resourceful and motivated researchers could find out.

Of course 'glueman' had already made up his mind that the definition is flawed - it's going to be difficult to maintain your objectivity, isn't Mr 'g'? Still, I'm sure you're up to the challenge - go for it, and I look forward to reading your findings!


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 15 May 09 - 02:52 PM

Shimrod: "why dump the responsibility onto someone else?"

Rather loaded terms there Shimrod. I wansn't doing so as I recall, merely asking if anyone was interested in thinking and responding to my poorly articulated queries.

Especially as I assumed that the onus of responsibility, rather aught to belong with supportive academic parties demonstrating the validity of such a theory, rather than the same demanding that the general public must provide rational for a fairly simple and honest "why so?".

Mine was a mere request - as an interested, non-academic and non-partisan observer (who happens to sing folk songs) - that those academics already contributing to this thread, might aid an interested but confused other such as myself, to find better inroads into a topic, which this thread amongst others has unfortunately, continually obsfucated.

I have no better grasp of the value, significance, merit or otherwise of the 1954 definition, than I did upon discovering it debated here, hence my somewhat inept attempt at requesting greater understanding of it.

As an outsider to this debate (as indeed I suspect most folk enthusiasts might well be), it feels utterly nebulous and displaced from anything I can mentally grapple with. No doubt that's my fault. Maybe I'm better off deciding "it's just a load of intellectual middle-class bullshit" rather than asking stupid questions about it?
Who knows..


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 15 May 09 - 03:15 PM

Mine was a mere request - as an interested, non-academic and non-partisan observer (who happens to sing folk songs) - that those academics already contributing to this thread, might aid an interested but confused other such as myself,

I'm an academic - as in, I teach stuff to grown-ups for a living - but I've got zero academic qualifications in the area of folk music. I'm not sure anyone here has.

As an outsider to this debate (as indeed I suspect most folk enthusiasts might well be), it feels utterly nebulous and displaced from anything I can mentally grapple with.

As I said, I can't answer your question if I don't know what it is. Are you saying you don't understand the definition? If so, which bit? Are you saying it doesn't define what gets sung in folk clubs? (True, it doesn't.) Are you saying we need a definition for what gets sung in folk clubs? (Maybe, but that's not it.) Or... er, what?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Frozen Gin (inactive)
Date: 15 May 09 - 03:46 PM

I'm left with the impression that they are, in the main, not just people who don't understand folk music, but don't really like it very much, nor the "remote old coves on field-recordings" who gave it to us.

Now there's a pretty patronising attitude if ever I saw one, it' no wonder people get turned off.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 15 May 09 - 04:20 PM

Dunno about not 'understanding' folk music, I grew up believing folk was not 'our' music but 'their' music, clever people I came across, teachers, clerics, the middle classes generally. I knew no working class people like ourselves who 'appreciated' folk music even though my parents sang (though by no means exclusively) songs that met the definition, even THE definition.

As I got older and began to listen to the stuff more closely it was clear there was a contradiction - this was music of the oiks, talented oiks certainly who came up with the thing but probably the same group as ourselves, but had been adopted/purloined/appropriated (choose your own) by completely different people, those with refined sensibilities. I liked it but was in no way refined which put me out on a limb.

For those reasons I take no lectures on what is inside or outside by those who believe it takes learning and education to perceive properly. A definition that acknowledged what the music was about, how it arrived here and through what processes of mediation and consumption would be more honest and relevant and may give the opportunity for ordinary people to take part again and continue making.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 May 09 - 05:17 PM

Chip, shoulder: shoulder, chip.

I think you need to undertake a deconstructive analysis of the work "oik".


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 May 09 - 05:22 PM

Glueman:
I grew up with the idea that people like me had no culture - I was actually told by a teacher a few months before I left school that all I was required to know when I left school was how to tot up my wages on a Friday night.
Having 'discovered' folk songs, it was suggested to me that not only was it unique, but it was created and re-created by people like me. That is why I feel as strongly as I do about its origins, and it's why I have spent the last thirty odd years attempting to find out whether what I had been told had any basis of truth.
I have no 'learning' or 'education' to speak of, nor do I believe it takes such to understand folk music.
It was enough for me to learn that, over the last three decades, if I wanted to find the survivals of the 'big ballads', I would be more likely to get them on my local gypsy site - from a non-literate group of people at the bottom of the social pile - than anywhere else.
That is probably why I argue as strongly as I do when I hear folk song devalued and have the uniqueness taken out of it by junking it together with any other 'popular' music.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: glueman
Date: 15 May 09 - 05:36 PM

"Chip, shoulder: shoulder, chip."

Yep, that's the standard response IME. Whacking them with sticks was another.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 15 May 09 - 05:52 PM

For those reasons I take no lectures on what is inside or outside by those who believe it takes learning and education to perceive properly.

Not guilty m'lud. I'm completely self-taught in this area and don't think it requires any qualifications in any other area.

A definition that acknowledged what the music was about, how it arrived here and through what processes of mediation and consumption would be more honest and relevant

The 54 definition is precisely about "how the music arrived here and through what processes of mediation and consumption" - that's what it defines. As Spleen said many moons ago, it essentially defines a type of process rather than music (just as Suibhne's DFC defines a type of event rather than music, and what it says on CD racks defines a type of branding rather than music). But it also enables us to distinguish the music that's been through that process from music that hasn't - I guess you could say it's a way of identifying music rather than defining it.


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