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What is The Tradition?

Related threads:
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Joe Offer 21 Sep 09 - 09:04 PM
Phil Edwards 21 Sep 09 - 06:40 AM
Jack Blandiver 21 Sep 09 - 06:06 AM
Phil Edwards 21 Sep 09 - 05:54 AM
Phil Edwards 21 Sep 09 - 05:42 AM
Phil Edwards 21 Sep 09 - 05:40 AM
Jack Blandiver 21 Sep 09 - 05:32 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Sep 09 - 05:31 AM
Jack Blandiver 21 Sep 09 - 05:12 AM
Phil Edwards 21 Sep 09 - 05:11 AM
MGM·Lion 21 Sep 09 - 04:41 AM
Phil Edwards 21 Sep 09 - 04:32 AM
Howard Jones 21 Sep 09 - 04:20 AM
Jack Blandiver 21 Sep 09 - 04:13 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Sep 09 - 02:53 AM
Will Fly 21 Sep 09 - 02:35 AM
TheSnail 20 Sep 09 - 09:18 PM
Jim Carroll 20 Sep 09 - 07:15 PM
glueman 20 Sep 09 - 04:17 PM
Jim Carroll 20 Sep 09 - 04:00 PM
Jack Blandiver 20 Sep 09 - 02:08 PM
Jim Carroll 20 Sep 09 - 11:02 AM
Phil Edwards 20 Sep 09 - 09:14 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Sep 09 - 09:12 AM
glueman 20 Sep 09 - 08:19 AM
Brian Peters 20 Sep 09 - 08:06 AM
glueman 20 Sep 09 - 08:05 AM
Jack Blandiver 20 Sep 09 - 04:55 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Sep 09 - 08:37 PM
glueman 19 Sep 09 - 05:43 PM
Stringsinger 19 Sep 09 - 05:04 PM
Jack Blandiver 19 Sep 09 - 05:00 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 19 Sep 09 - 04:38 PM
John P 19 Sep 09 - 03:17 PM
glueman 19 Sep 09 - 01:15 PM
The Sandman 19 Sep 09 - 11:23 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Sep 09 - 05:55 AM
TheSnail 19 Sep 09 - 05:36 AM
Folkiedave 19 Sep 09 - 05:27 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Sep 09 - 05:23 AM
Jack Blandiver 19 Sep 09 - 03:56 AM
Jack Blandiver 19 Sep 09 - 03:54 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Sep 09 - 03:32 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Sep 09 - 07:09 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 18 Sep 09 - 06:36 PM
glueman 18 Sep 09 - 05:55 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 18 Sep 09 - 04:48 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 18 Sep 09 - 04:40 PM
glueman 18 Sep 09 - 04:27 PM
Jim Carroll 18 Sep 09 - 03:33 PM
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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 09:04 PM

There's no way we could find moderators willing to read lengthy, quibbling threads like this one. I can tell from the onset that they're going to be troublesome. I suppose we could just bar threads like this one that look like they're going to be trouble, and that would be the end of it. But it appears that people want to talk about subjects like this, so we let them. If you wish to participate in such discussions, please be aware that they're likely to turn nasty - so your participation is at your own risk.

We moderate such threads by responding to complaints, not by reading and judging every message. I received a complaint about the messages from Glueman, so I read the last several messages he posted. They were clearly personal attacks, which are prohibited at Mudcat - whether the attacks were justified or not, is not the issue. Therefore, he was barred from this one thread, which seems like a fairly minimal penalty.

The messages from Jim Carroll were also out of line, so he received a warning. Maybe Glueman deserved the warning and Jim Carroll deserved to be barred from one thread, I don't know. Neither penalty seems particularly serious. This is hardly the end of the world. It's like calling a foul in a football match, or whatever it is that referees do on your side of the pond. I probably could have called a foul on Dick Miles and on Suibhne O'Piobaireachd, too, if I could spell his name...

Actually, this thread got to be more like a hockey game - by about the 175th post, most of the players should have been in the penalty box.

If you would like to continue this discussion, please do so in another thread and link back to this one. Maybe that will cool things down a bit.
Thank you.

-Joe Offer, Forum Moderator-
(apologies for the sports analogies)


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 06:40 AM

JC uses snark as the very medium of his content, Pip

Sample JC: As for there being a school of anonymous 'master' composers; early texts of many of the songs and ballads show no signs of mastery whatsoever. Collections such as Percy's Reliques, The Bagford Ballads, publications of The Ballad Society, even Child; and later collections like The Universal Songster, are crammed full of songs which, when they were first written, were verbose, overlong, clumsy - in fact unsingable. It was only when they were taken up by the 'folk' and subjected to the oral tradition that they earned the description of 'masterful' - as Macoll put it "like stones shaped by the motion of the sea".

Evelyn K Well's 'The Ballad Tree' has an interesting chapter on 'Ballad Imitations' - it's worth comparing the texts she gives with the real thing.


I mean, I'm sorry he doesn't like your singing, but you've got to admit there's a bit of a difference between that and one of glueman's characteristic hit-and-run one-liners. (But now I'm talking to someone who's not here about someone else who's not here. Enough! or too much.)


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 06:06 AM

Suggest you compare Jim Carroll's snark-to-content ratio with glueman's.

JC uses snark as the very medium of his content, Pip - personal insults notwithstanding of course, which are the icing on his particular brand of fruitcake.

Meanwhile - I'm off this thread until Glueman is reinstated with a full apology at having been so shabbily dealt with.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 05:54 AM

To what extent can we say Folk is a Traditional Music

To what extent is anyone talking in these Big Abstractions?

I don't think Folk is anything. I just like being able to hear and sing traditional songs, and I've found that folk settings are the only places I can reliably expect to do so - so if anyone wants to define 'folk' as 'mostly but not exclusively traditional', I'm with them.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 05:42 AM

Oops - that's a bit hard to read. Here it is again:

As long as people think the folk process and the 1954 Definition is something that makes Folk somehow different from other musics then this thread will have a point.

Oh Lord. I think Howard nailed this one a few days ago (18/9/09, 6:46):

No one is saying that folk song is any less (or any more) creative or dynamic than jazz or any other music, or that musical ideas are not passed around between musicians in other genres. However the "folk process" is most pronounced in folk music, and moreover is the defining element of folk, by which I mean traditional, music.

Someone reinterpreting a piece of classical music will go back to the score. ... The same applies to much popular music - someone wanting to make their own version will usually go back to the original rather than taking someone else's version as a starting point
...
The difference with folk music is that in many cases the singers did not have access to the original version, and perhaps didn't have the concept of a "correct" version. They took the version they heard, with the changes and improvements made by previous singers, added their own, and passed it on to other singers, who in turn added their own variations, until we ended up with several widely differing versions of the same song.


In other words, it's a question of degree. As soon as people make music there's creativity in performance, and variations arising in the moment - you can't step into the same river twice. As soon as people make music for fun there are small-f small-p folk processes going on. But "the 'folk process' is most pronounced in folk music, and moreover is the defining element of folk, by which I mean traditional, music."

So Jim Carroll gets away with it whilst Glueman must be censored?

Suggest you compare Jim Carroll's snark-to-content ratio with glueman's.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 05:40 AM

As long as people think the folk process and the 1954 Definition is something that makes Folk somehow different from other musics then this thread will have a point.

Oh Lord. I think Howard nailed this one a few days ago (18/9/09, 6:46):

No one is saying that folk song is any less (or any more) creative or dynamic than jazz or any other music, or that musical ideas are not passed around between musicians in other genres. However the "folk process" is most pronounced in folk music, and moreover is the defining element of folk, by which I mean traditional, music.

Someone reinterpreting a piece of classical music will go back to the score. ... The same applies to much popular music - someone wanting to make their own version will usually go back to the original rather than taking someone else's version as a starting point
...
The difference with folk music is that in many cases the singers did not have access to the original version, and perhaps didn't have the concept of a "correct" version. They took the version they heard, with the changes and improvements made by previous singers, added their own, and passed it on to other singers, who in turn added their own variations, until we ended up with several widely differing versions of the same song.

In other words, it's a question of degree. As soon as people make music there's creativity in performance, and variations arising in the moment - you can't step into the same river twice. As soon as people make music for fun there are small-f small-p folk processes going on. But "the 'folk process' is most pronounced in folk music, and moreover is the defining element of folk, by which I mean traditional, music."

So Jim Carroll gets away with it whilst Glueman must be censored?

Suggest you compare Jim Carroll's snark-to-content ratio with glueman's.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 05:32 AM

or that all music is traditional music, or that all music except folk is traditional music,

To quote Howard again: That seems to be how traditional singers treated songs, with both tune and words likely to vary from one repetition to the next. It's something which revival singers mostly appear to have lost.

To what extent can we say Folk is a Traditional Music when it is, in effect, a construct based on a concept of a traditional music operating a very significant and cultural, historical & social remove from that which was the actual context of the music in its traditional state? Of course we might discuss the conventions and affectations of The Revival as being a tradition in themselves, but that is, perhaps, a very different thing to how most folkies would think of the music they do as being traditional.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 05:31 AM

"Their names don't come down to us because of various factors".
What are those factors; it's an important 'factor' to this discussion?
"But we can be sure they had names, just as the brickies, chippies, plasters etc. who built my house had names."
Which totally ignores the FACT that the original composer (or composers - enough examples available of songs being made by a number of people) is irrelevant to whether or not the song is 'folk' or 'traditional'.
It is neither the content nor the style, but rather the process which makes it those things. Without that, it remains simply a composed song, attributed or anonymous. The anonymity of a song is, I'm convinced, due entirely to the fact that it has passed through so many mouths in the process of becoming part of a tradition.
As for there being a school of anonymous 'master' composers; early texts of many of the songs and ballads show no signs of mastery whatsoever. Collections such as Percy's Reliques, The Bagford Ballads, publications of The Ballad Society, even Child; and later collections like The Universal Songster, are crammed full of songs which, when they were first written, were verbose, overlong, clumsy - in fact unsingable. It was only when they were taken up by the 'folk' and subjected to the oral tradition that they earned the description of 'masterful' - as Macoll put it "like stones shaped by the motion of the sea".
Evelyn K Well's 'The Ballad Tree' has an interesting chapter on 'Ballad Imitations' - it's worth comparing the texts she gives with the real thing.
"Nannying Interference Police."
Sorry, agree with Charlie 100% - some of us obviously feel extremely strongly about this subject and a few of us have stepped over the line in our enthusiasm - me included. Apologies to all.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 05:12 AM

Yes. It's what some people call "the folk process". I think you've just demonstrated that this argument was pointless from the word go.

NO. As long as people think the folk process and the 1954 Definition is something that makes Folk somehow different from other musics then this thread will have a point. Trouble is, people only know Traditional English Folk Song as a dead music - something which Howard sums up quite nicely below there: That seems to be how traditional singers treated songs, with both tune and words likely to vary from one repetition to the next. It's something which revival singers mostly appear to have lost. Amen to that!

Is that really just a folk process? Or is it how all living traditional musics operate - be it classical, drum and bass, popular, hip-hop, or whatever? I say again: all music is determined by the folk process; just all music is covered by the 1954 Definition, bar in the minds of an entrenched orthodoxy of fundamentalists for whom it simply has to be different in terms other than stylistic diversity.

No. "No personal attacks" is the rule, and (being a rule) it applies to everyone. Nothing personal(!) against glueman.

So Jim Carroll gets away with it whilst Glueman must be censored? That's not a rule, Pip - it's inhumane discrimination, which is very personal against Glueman.

Gentlemen, we have a sneak in our midst; a snide, a snake in the grass, a tittle-tattle tell-tale. I suggest they owns up so might de-bag the blighter whereupon we might proceed with our merry row as befits the civilised chaps we most surely are!


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 05:11 AM

MGM - I don't know if anyone else knows who glueman is, but I certainly don't. Suibhne's identity isn't a secret if you follow a few links. I've shared a few choruses with him; I've got to say I value his enthusiasm for traditional music a lot higher than his enthusiasm for arguing that traditional music doesn't exist, or that all music is traditional music, or that all music except folk is traditional music, or whatever.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 04:41 AM

I can't say that SO'P's posts appeal greatly to me — I find them frequently somewhat convoluted, sometimes [I hope he will forgive my saying, but if not I shall just have to live with it] a bit Pseuds-Cornerish; & I find many of his premises alien to my thinking.

BUT I would add my voice to his IN DEFENCE OF GLUEMAN, whose interventions, tho often forcefully & vehemently expressed, do not strike me as inordinately offensive in the general terms & ambience of this Forum, or such as to warrant the ban that has been placed on his ability to express them. Can't think of anything he has said which, if he had said it to or of me, would have robbed me of a single moment's sleep.

& I write as something of a nOOb; about the only one on this thread, as far as I can see, who doesn't even know who Glueman & Sweeney actually ARE...


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 04:32 AM

What I do see plenty of evidence for is a tradition of stylistic song-making and transformation which indicates both the fluidity in which the songs existed in their natural habitat and the essentially improvised nature of song-making as an integral aspect of their performance.

Yes. It's what some people call "the folk process". I think you've just demonstrated that this argument was pointless from the word go.

Looks like another thread has been ruined by Mudcat's Nannying Interference Police.

No. "No personal attacks" is the rule, and (being a rule) it applies to everyone. Nothing personal(!) against glueman.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 04:20 AM

Will, I wonder whether the reason is that with tunes the folk process is still very much alive and can be observed in action (as the examples of "The Sweetness of Mary" or "The Flying Cloud" illustrate). Also, tune players seem more relaxed with the idea that the notes are merely the framework of a tune for the musicians to work around - many experienced musicians won't play the tune exactly the same way twice (in English tune sessions, anyway - some Irish sessions seem to insist on more accuracy).

That seems to be how traditional singers treated songs, with both tune and words likely to vary from one repetition to the next. It's something which revival singers mostly appear to have lost (just look at the number of complaints about singers starting a version of a well-known song and the audience or accompanying musicians taking over with the "proper" version).

In that sense the "tradition" is perhaps more alive today with tunes rather than songs, where fixed versions of songs seem to have taken root.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 04:13 AM

The fact that this massive repertoire of orally transmitted songs, stretching back for up to four centuries and across the English-speaking world (and beyond, if you take the ballads into consideration) is related by style, content and function indicates a common process of composition - a 'school' of songmaking.

In a nutshell, that's what I mean by master composers; masters in the sense of cultural genre and time-served craftsmanship.

The fact that none of these songmakers have been named makes it clear that they are a product of a 'folk process',

Their names don't come down to us because of various factors but we can be sure they had names, just as the brickies, chippies, plasters etc. who built my house had names. Just as the Hungarian village carpenter who made my Citera over 150 years ago had a name. They were creative human individuals, no different from any other creative human individuals. I see no evidence of a specific Folk Process any different from any other musical process - just one that has floundered somewhat via the secondary collected literary sources by which we have come to know it. What I do see plenty of evidence for is a tradition of stylistic song-making and transformation which indicates both the fluidity in which the songs existed in their natural habitat and the essentially improvised nature of song-making as an integral aspect of their performance. Once a song has been collected it is frozen at the point of its collection - it becomes a thing, a pinned butterfly removed from an ecological context that we don't fully understand. Consequently they are dealt with as cultural abstracts; the more remote they are, so the greater that abstraction invariably becomes. My point is, to call this a (or the) folk process is to perhaps misunderstand the nature of the songs in their pre-collected living form.

HOWEVER...

Looks like another thread has been ruined by Mudcat's Nannying Interference Police. I hereby register my personal outrage and disgust that ANYONE should be excluded from this discussion on any grounds whatsoever, least of all Glueman. Why do lines like It has come to my attention send shivers of revulsion down my spine?

Joe, for the sake of common decency get things in perspective - lift this inhumane and entirely unjustified ban and let this discussion proceed as it will.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 02:53 AM

Sorry Joe
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 Sep 09 - 02:35 AM

It was for that very reason, Bryan, that I opened up the "folk process and tunes" thread. The tunes aspect of all this seems somehow less emotive and the thread, so far has been very civilised and interesting.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: TheSnail
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 09:18 PM

Do I need to explain why I have taken little part in the discussion? It's a pity because it's a potentially interesting subject.

Bryan Creer


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 07:15 PM

Oh - an addition to the previous list
"Does anyone read beyond the second line of Mr Carroll?"
which rather puts SO'P's whingeing about "name-calling, bile, vitriol, and downright nastiness." in context - doesn't it?
Jim Carroll
    Jim, I think you need to tone things down, too.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 04:17 PM

Does anyone read beyond the second line of Mr Carroll? I bet you've never worked in education Jim you wouldn't last five minutes, they'd all be fast asleep.
    Glueman, it has come to my attention that you are way out of line. I've looked at several of your posts; and there is no question that they are personal attacks, which are prohibited in this forum. You are no longer allowed to post to this thread. If you wish to post to other threads in the future, please attempt to conduct yourself in a more civil manner.
    Thank you.
    -Joe Offer, Forum Moderator-


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 04:00 PM

"fundamentalist hysteria"
Ballads like Barbara Allen, (described by Pepys in the middle of the 17th century as "that old Scotch song") have been passed from singer to singer throughout the English speaking world for around four centuries.
Ancient ballads like The Blind Beggar (early 17th century) have been discovered in the repertoires of non-lterate Traveller singers whittled down from unsingable epics to 6-7-8 beautifully concise versions.
The Unfortunate Rake is not only to be found in hundreds of versions, but has divided into two distinct types, 'The Bad Girl's Lament' and 'The Unfortunate Rake'.
Fifty plus of Child's 'English and Scottish Popular Ballads' have been recorded from field singers, (Travellers, small farmers, land labourers, - rural and urban workers in general) in hundreds of distinct versions in the Irish Republic over the last 40 years.
Irish Traveller (Wexford) singers from the same family have been found to have at least half-a-dozen DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT versions of The Outlandish Knight, (probably the most popular ballad in that community).
Ballads such as Johnny Scott, The Maid and the Palmer, Sweet William and Fair Margaret, The Demon Lover, Prince Robert...... many more long disappeared from the British repertoire have been discovered in Ireland.
Songs transmitted via the oral tradition invariably take on the characteristics of the area where they move to, occupationally, socially and geographically. The names of the characters withing the songs change constantly and the as do the locations.
Relatively new ANONYMOUS songs (within the lifetimes of the singers, and sometimes within as little as five years of the event described in the song) have been recorded from both Travellers and rural Irish singers.
We have oral descriptions of singers and storytellers (Traveller and settled) passing on their songs and stories and some time later hearing them in multi-versions.
The FACT that there exists a massive repertoire of songs for whom the composers, and even the geographical origins is unknown is totally unprecedented, certainly in the western world.
Added:
The fact that this massive repertoire of orally transmitted songs, stretching back for up to four centuries and across the English-speaking world (and beyond, if you take the ballads into consideration) is related by style, content and function indicates a common process of composition - a 'school' of songmaking. The fact that none of these songmakers have been named makes it clear that they are a product of a 'folk process', as is generally accepted by anybody who hs examined the subject.
"I've been subject to a barrage of name-calling, bile, vitriol, and downright nastiness."
SO'P
"And thus we find the Sycophantic Mollusc leaving his wretchedly non-constructive divisive slime-trail where e'er he slithers"
"So slither off and pour your bitter bile elsewhere before someone stamps on your sorry arse. "
SO'P
SO'P (up to this point Bryan Creer had taken litle part in the discussion, and when he did he made a mild comment by refering to your "ramblings"
"sloppy, selective & agenda driven field-work "
SO'P
"You are one very sad dead sheep, old man."
"yet as anally narrow as the more religiously hysterical reactions on this thread would indicate."
SO'P
"In Shimrod's book (and I suspect he actually has one, and a nice fountain pen and leather elbow pads) "
Glueman
"folkies are a bunch of complete C-words after all"   
Glueman"
And then there's the classic;
"For the second time can we stop 'give me an example',"
Glueman


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 02:08 PM

What you presented in that post was a travesty of the weight of argument in this thread, during which a succession of level-headed, coherent and generally non-fundamentalist posters have thoroughly trashed the notion that "there is no tradition" (or "folk process" or whatever).

Sorry, Brian - I have seen little by way of level headedness much less coherence in response to the various issues I've raised on this thread (or any other). On the contrary, in their stead I've been subject to a barrage of name-calling, bile, vitriol, and downright nastiness. If (as you seem to be suggesting) such fundamentalist hysteria passes for weight of argument then indeed my heretical notions have been well and truly trashed - as indeed have I. I'm not about to flounce off though - I'm sticking around, ever optimistic that someone, somewhen, might come up with something worth reading other than the usual reportage of self-evident truisms, personal insults, or suggestions that Shoenberg's music is some sort of Nazi Code.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 11:02 AM

"Do people like Jim Carroll attract or deter young people from playing traditional music and bringing their own contemporary sensibilities to it?"
This thread has nothing whatever to do with bringing people to traditional music - it is solely about the nature and definition of traditional music.
In Ireland, young people are flocking to traditional music in their thousands. This has happened, not by compromise or distortion of the music, but because a clear idea of what traditional music is has enabled groups like The Willie Clancy Summer School and CCE to present the music to a wide, young and expanding audience.
Last St Patrick's Day here in Miltown Malbay (a small coastal village) there were between 80 and 100 school-age musicians playing traditional music on the parade.
Contrast this with the fact that the British clubs lost three quarters of their audiences in the 80s when it became possible to attend a folk club without hearing a folk song. That audience has never been replaced.
The Singers Club was a policy club which guaranteed that the audince would go away having heard an evening of folk songs, or contemporary songs based on (and sounding like) folk songs. The club continued to have a regular and substantial following right up to the death of MacColl. It closed when it's other prominent resident returned to America.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 09:14 AM

even at 48 - a year older than Peter Bellamy was when he left the planet - I am still invariably the youngest in a folk club.


Go to Chorlton FC, Suibhne - at 48 you'll be well above the average age, at least among the performers. You'll also hear more singer-songwriters than you can shake a stick at, and a quota of traditional music somewhere between 20% and naff all.

Anyway, when you're 48 (or 49 in my case) it's a bit late to be complaining about the older generation failing to recruit the younger ditto. They recruited us, after all - maybe it's our turn to get realistic and hang down with the kids on the corner of the street (note to self - check wording before sending).


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 09:12 AM

"open vitriol of Jim Carroll," =
P'OB
"And thus we find the Sycophantic Mollusc leaving his wretchedly non-constructive divisive slime-trail where e'er he slithers"
PO'B
"folkies are a bunch of complete C-words after all"   
Glueman
Facts
Ballads like Barbara Allen, (described by Pepys in the middle of the 17th century as "that old Scotch song") have been passed from singer to singer throughout the English speaking world for around four centuries.
Ancient ballads like The Blind Beggar (early 17th century) have been discovered in the repertoires of non-lterate Traveller singers whittled down from unsingable epics to 6-7-8 beautifully concise versions.
The Unfortunate Rake is not only to be found in hundreds of versions, but has divided into two distinct types, 'The Bad Girl's Lament' and 'The Unfortunate Rake'.
Fifty plus of Child's 'English and Scottish Popular Ballads' have been recorded from field singers, (Travellers, small farmers, land labourers, - rural and urban workers in general) in hundreds of distinct versions in the Irish Republic over the last 40 years.
Irish Traveller (Wexford) singers from the same family have been found to have at least half-a-dozen DISTINCTLY DIFFERENT versions of The Outlandish Knight, (probably the most popular ballad in that community).
Ballads such as Johnny Scott, The Maid and the Palmer, Sweet William and Fair Margaret, The Demon Lover, Prince Robert...... many more long disappeared from the British repertoire have been discovered in Ireland.
Songs transmitted via the oral tradition invariably take on the characteristics of the area where they move to, occupationally, socially and geographically. The names of the characters withing the songs change constantly and the as do the locations.
Relatively new ANONYMOUS songs (within the lifetimes of the singers, and sometimes within as little as five years of the event described in the song) have been recorded from both Travellers and rural Irish singers.
We have oral descriptions of singers and storytellers (Traveller and settled) passing on their songs and stories and some time later hearing them in multi-versions.
The FACT that there exists a massive repertoire of songs for whom the composers, and even the geographical origins is unknown is totally unprecedented, certainly in the western world.
Explain any of these and you might have covered the foothills of the mountain that is the oral folk tradition.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 08:19 AM

The problem is a need to believe in 'something'. Folk music's history has accumulated a lot of guff around a very few facts so that discussion becomes an act of faith, for 'us' or against 'us'. Folkies and non-folkies.

As a proud relativist and Fortean I adhere to the principle that 'nothing is more than the proper thing to wear for a while'. Until folkies can talk to the rest of the world I agree, the subject is best left alone.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 08:06 AM

>> one or two others who stare like rabbits into the headlights of the oncoming folk-future <<

I've been on the road too long to get dazzled by headlights, Suibhne. What you presented in that post was a travesty of the weight of argument in this thread, during which a succession of level-headed, coherent and generally non-fundamentalist posters have thoroughly trashed the notion that "there is no tradition" (or "folk process" or whatever). There remain two entrenched fundamentalists here (only one of whom is even attempting to advance any arguments) who are insisting that all the stuff that everyone else believes in is no more than a fabrication of those hateful folkie C-words.

The actual folk-future will be determined by a younger generation which is already ahead of you, already examining and enthusing about old traditions, already singing and music-making, and whose members are quite capable of working these things out for themselves. They are, by the way, more than happy to exchange ideas with the ageing folkie C-words you accuse of betraying them.

Personally I'd be more than happy if this bitter thread were closed before anyone else is tempted into comments one hopes they'll regret later.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 08:05 AM

Do people like Jim Carroll attract or deter young people from playing traditional music and bringing their own contemporary sensibilities to it?


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 04:55 AM

I will still give credence to Arnold Schoenberg as being a great composer even though I dislike his music intensely. (Was it Nazi code?)

You might like to rethink that, Stringsinger:

"After the National Socialists came to power, in 1933, Schoenberg was summarily dismissed from his post at the Prussian Academy of Arts, where he had been teaching since 1926. He was denounced as a Jew and a leading exponent of "degenerate" art. A fervent Zionist, he drafted a bold "Four-Point Program for Jewry," propounding that "a united Jewish party must be created…. Ways must be prepared to obtain a place to erect an independent Jewish state." In 1934 he emigrated to the United States and settled eventually in Los Angeles, where he taught for a year at the University of Southern California and from 1936 at U.C.L.A. He became an American citizen in 1941."

from The Milken Archive of Jewish-American Music


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 08:37 PM

I really can't believe this is being continued.
Glueman has blown the gaff - those who don't agree with him and his mentor or either mad or a shower of - what was the word - 'conservationists' maybe - and PO'B still waffles his way around without qualifying his arguments.
Leave it lads - you've told us all we need to know - anything more is just fillibusting.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 05:43 PM

To put the C-word quote in context it was said to me many years ago by an avid collector of recorded music of all kinds. We were discussing fans with whom he had to spend an unhealthy amount of time in pursuit of his collection.

Rock and Rollers could be a bit risky depending on which side of the Eddie Cochran-Gene Vincent divide they were, soul boys were naughty but passionate and so on but for sheer blind fundamentalist unpleasantness he reserved the C-word for folkies. Perhaps he'd had dealings with people hereabouts?


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 05:04 PM

When the subject of music comes up, there are passionate supporters who by the necessity of being emotionally moved, they have to take a seemingly obdurate position. There's nothing wrong with that. When these supporters have their bias, then other musics tend to get diminished in their conversations. That's human.

I have my preferences which I often state emphatically. I tend to ignore or shove aside
that music which doesn't reflect my interests. I will still give credence to Arnold Schoenberg as being a great composer even though I dislike his music intensely. (Was it Nazi code?)

Pop performers are talented and they do what they do with skill whether I like it or not.
But don't tell me that they are true folk singers. That's specious.

You are not a folk singer because you say you are. Alice in Wonderland, "Just because you say it's true doesn't mean it's so."

Don't tell me that a modern navel-gazing drivel-driven rant or plaint written by a young pop singer who hasn't lived much is a folk song. Even if it's a very good song, which some of them are.

I have nothing against pop music from any era though because of my age and conditioning, I prefer older songs from the Twenties and Thirties. I understand them better.

They may or may not have a "tradition" but they're not folk songs. They're composed, written for the Broadway stage or the marketplace.

There is a body of music that is culture-based and has stuck around for a long time through changes and there are practitioners of this style of singing who convey this material through having learned it from their sub-cultural environment. Blues, Appalachian, Old Ballads, Sean Nos, jazz, and their corollary from other cultures and countries.

Their style of singing is reflective of a unique way of delivery and purpose. I may sing folksongs forever but I am not going to be in that category as much as I love that music.
If I attempt to sing that way, it comes out phony. (Many "revivalists" in folk do sound phony because they attempt to imitate rather than find their own voices).

The reason that we have Mudcat is because of Tradition(s), otherwise why bother?


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 05:00 PM

I assume that you agree with your acolyte that we're all "a bunch of complete C-words after all?"

I don't actually. For a start I see you all in terms of your individuality, however so entrenched you each might be in the rhetorical orthodoxy of The Revival which (in your hands especially, old man) manifests as a lumpen fundamentalism replete with theological absolutes which we dare but question at our peril. Even more perverse is your habit of railing against anything I say without bothering to see how it might actually accord with your own feelings on the matter. Even when I directly comment on the significance on your work in the field I am roundly abused despite you having passed onto me recordings from your archives in the past.

The situation is such that The Tradition can (and must) be appreciated without resource to the more wayward theorising of The Revival. The recordings are there, the collections, thanks to the diligence and hard work of people like your better self, and Max Hunter (a vacuum cleaner salesman?) How you personally interpret and understand your archive with respect of your fundamentalist folk-faith is of little significance to me or posterity; that's your subjective opinion, to which you're entitled. The music is all that matters, the cataloguing and the annotation, and your openness and thoroughness in this respect is, I must say, exemplary, standing in stark contrast to your Mudcat persona - at least that you've affected fir purposes of these threads. One only hopes you take the exemplary scholarship even further by taking advantage of the available technology to get the whole lot on-line where it might be appreciated by a wider public of both casual enthusiasts and serious scholars alike.

In the end it doesn't matter if you believe in letter of the 1954 Definition and believe the Folk Process and Oral Tradition to be fundamental laws of the known universe; fact is, they are not, rather they are theoretical perspectives ossified into absolutes by the distinct lack of new thinking on the subject. This in itself is a pitiful state of affairs and one that ensures the songs of The Tradition are forever condemned to languish in a cultural ghetto presided over by those who have evidently failed to appreciate their true value. Consequently Folk has become a joke; a risible cliché which is unfortunately justified by the attitudes we find here - the malicious slime trails of The Snail, the snickering sycophancy of the worryingly-anonymous GUEST: Shimrod, and the open vitriol of Jim Carroll, and one or two others who stare like rabbits into the headlights of the oncoming folk-future determined by an ever ageing demographic who did little to encourage, engender or facilitate the missing 2nd, 3rd and 4th generations when maybe there was a chance - so much so that even at 48 - a year older than Peter Bellamy was when he left the planet - I am still invariably the youngest in a folk club.

And how do the old guard address this sorry state of affairs? With encouraging comments like As far as Sean's singing is concerned... it is as far away from good folk singing as I believe it possible to get. Times like this I might just go off and buy that Fender Jazz I saw in Liverpool last week after all and leave folk to disappear up its own arse.   

But year after year their numbers get fewer
Some day no one will sing there at all...

Who'll come a-carolling, who'll come a-carolling,
Who'll come a-carolling, a-carolling with me?
Not I said the young man, mashing jams on his comput-tie-ah;
I'll not come a-carolling, a-carolling with you.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 04:38 PM

"a snidey, sarcastic, slippery little git who can't be bothered to back up his silly notions and vague musings with any evidence.

Seems even Shimrod has got your card marked, old man."

I was, of course, aiming those remarks at 'glueman', SO'P - and you know it. It is very mischievous to suggest that they were aimed at Jim Carroll!

Jim may be, like me, a bit grumpy at times - but he is always very direct and is never 'snidey' or 'slippery' and has plenty of evidence to back up his thoughts. Unfortunately, his conclusions don't always agree with your preconceptions (or 'glueman''s) - hence all this silly bickering.

No doubt this will prompt accusations of 'sycophancy' or some such tedious nonsense. But I happen to fervently believe in the importance of conclusions based on real evidence and not just 'make-it-up-as-you-go-along' notions.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: John P
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 03:17 PM

Imagine this scenario: Tom, a young man in England c. 1825, goes to market day in a village in the next valley. While he is there he hears a new song and sings it along with his drinking buddies a couple of times. Walking home that night slightly tipsy he sings the song to himself a couple more times. Not being anything of a musician, he doesn't get the tune exactly right, but it's still a cool tune. Being slightly tipsy, he forgets a few of the words but finds good substitutes.

The next day he sings the song for his mother and sisters. They all like it as well. His sister is a really good singer. She often gets asked to sing at weddings, and has developed her skill to a fairly high degree. She makes the song her own, introducing ornamentation ideas of her own and changing two of the notes to ones that fit her singing style better. In time she teaches it to her daughter, who loves to sing and has a true voice, but isn't much of an artist or musical innovator.

The daughter teaches it to her daughter, pretty much the same way she got it from her mother. The granddaughter also loves to sing but doesn't have the ear or voice of her mother, but she remembers the song as best she can. When she is an old woman watching the world change around her, someone shows up with a tape recorder because he heard she knows a bunch of the old songs. "Ah yes," she says, "I can remember hearing my grandma singing this when I was a baby. My mother sang it often as well," never realizing that the version she is recording is quite a bit different than the one she learned when she was little. The song does, however, retain most of the hallmarks of traditional singing in her area, many of which were introduced by her grandmother. It also retains the word substitutions and slight melodic changes made by her tipsy great-granduncle.

In due time the song gets written down in a folklore book, and people who are researching song origins find the old recordings and write papers about the singing style and repertoire of that area.

Meanwhile, back to tipsy Tom's drinking buddies, specifically the one who taught him the song. He had been a couple of valleys in the other direction for a few days and had learned it there. The person he learned it from had learned it imperfectly from his father, who wrote it. The son passed it down to his nephew, who was really more of a fiddler, but who also liked a good song from time to time. This fiddling nephew sang it a few times at parties, and a young man who lived nearby and was a promising musician learned it and had it running around in the back of his head for a couple of years. Finally, it came out again but with several slight changes that made it fit more securely into the current style of singing in that area -- a style that was somewhat different than what was prevalent two generations before when the song written. This same young man, when he became old, was "discovered" by revival folkies, who put him in a recording studio and sent him on tour.

Back again to Tipsy Tom's song-bearing drinking partner. Remember that he is in a town somewhere between the two towns where the song has been collected so far. He's not much of a singer in an artistic sense, but he's in key and has an ear that can reproduce what it hears. His daughter has the same knack, and when the song is collected from her when she is very old, it is, remarkably, almost identical to the way it was when it was first written.

Fast forward a couple of generations more. People now watch TV and listen to CDs for entertainment, instead of singing and dancing as a community as much as they used to. People who like the old songs have to go out and find them instead of having them sung around them since they were young. They have to form clubs and have concerts in order to hear a larger selection of the music they love. The upside is that they have the internet at their fingertips and can get at least some access to any music they like. The ones who are musicians learn the old songs, but, since so much song sharing takes place in situations that are performances rather than normal life, they introduce arrangement ideas and dynamics that make the song more accessible to an audience that grew up on TV ads. Since they grew up listening to pop music, they are comfortable with playing in bands and generally presenting the music in a way consistent with the current state of music making, which isn't anything like how it was first presented. Some of them even play rock or jazz versions of the songs, or combine them digeridus, gamelan, or what have you. Some folks, on the other hand, really like the old ways of doing things, and they learn the song as closely as they can to the way it was first collected. And people do the songs everywhere in between.

The song remains the same, except that it's been changed by almost everyone who has sung it.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 01:15 PM

"Never regret being grumpy; it spoils one of the geatest pleasures in life,"

Jim Carroll

And the reason we don't take a word you say seriously old man.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 11:23 AM

this has all got totally out of control.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 05:55 AM

Touché
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: TheSnail
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 05:36 AM

Jim Carroll

Bryan; there you have a full vindication of my scepticism of the present state of the revival.

It must be true. Glueman and SO'P have told you so.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Folkiedave
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 05:27 AM

How is a mouse when it spins?

The higher the fewer.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 05:23 AM

"Seems even Shimrod has got your card marked, old man. "
I assume that you agree with your acolyte that we're all "a bunch of complete C-words after all?"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 03:56 AM

a snidey, sarcastic, slippery little git who can't be bothered to back up his silly notions and vague musings with any evidence.

Seems even Shimrod has got your card marked, old man.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 03:54 AM

My views are my views - I put them across to the best of my ability.

Your views are your subjective right and entitlement - that you see them as self-evident absolutes that can only be put across with an increasingly hateful invective is, to say the very least, unfortunate. You are one very sad dead sheep, old man.

and talk like Yozzer.

And behave like him too, if your posts here are anything to go by. Which is to say - desperate, Dan.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 03:32 AM

PS
"Like the eponymous Chips, that your on-line personality...."
Mr Chips - that's a new one on me. I'll try to live with that if you can live with a 'Mr Chips' with a Liverpool cum Manchester cum South London accent accent who has spent most of his life working as an electrician - first on the Liverpool docks, then on various building sites and housing estates in all those places.
It's an interesting experience to have to get your head round an academic image after a lifetime of nothaving your views taken seriously because you have no academic qualifications and talk like Yozzer.
PPS
Never regret being grumpy; it spoils one of the geatest pleasures in life,
Pax to you too,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 07:09 PM

Crow Sister,
I think we've all become a little battle-weary with it all on this thread.
We have been going on interminably over what most of us have taken for granted over the last (god help us) nearly fifty years.
On the basis of --- well, nothing really, we have been asked to shed all the ideas and experieces; all the information we (not me alone) have set out to collect, archive and pass on so that people could make up their own minds. In the course of this argument the two people who have set themselves against the rest of us have ignored evidence raised against their - I was going to say arguments, but really, all they have done is made unsubstantiated statements, declarations - everything they have constantly accused the rest of us of making ...... and not only refused to back them up, but have demanded that we don't ask for evidence or qualification of their claims. The most recent demand is that we ignore one of the most fundamental facts about folk song - that it is almost universally anonymous.
On this basis they have kept three threads going - I quite honestly thought that it was a wind-up; surely nobody can be that arrogant. It appears that they are serious, so I treated their declarations seriously.
As far as Sean's singing is concerned; my experience of this is what he has made available on U-tube - sorry; it is as far away from good folk singing as I believe it possible to get. I presume he chose to make it accessible for public scrutiny; if so, I feel free to comment on it - if he can't stand the heat......
My views are my views - I put them across to the best of my ability.
Pat and I lecture regularly, at singing week-ends and at colleges - the last we gave was at University College, Dublin. I very seldom become angry when arguing, but I very seldom meet with the mindless arrogant idiocy I have encountered here - nothing to do with my being contradicted; more like being taken for a moron by morons.
Perhaps I can leave you with a quote from two posting up which, for me, sums up the level of debate from our two friends! "folkies are a bunch of complete C-words after all"   
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 06:36 PM

It's very difficult to exchange insights, ideas and good old fashioned fun when you're doing battle with ... a snidey, sarcastic, slippery little git who can't be bothered to back up his silly notions and vague musings with any evidence. And many of my best and oldest friends are "folkies" and they are all fine people and certainly don't deserve to be sworn at by the likes of you, 'glueman'!


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 05:55 PM

"it sounds as bloody grumpy as any of the traddy grumps"

Not so, but I know what you mean. It's very difficult to exchange insights, ideas and good old fashioned fun when you're doing battle with the Star Chamber. Perhaps my collector mate was right all those years ago - folkies are a bunch of complete C-words after all?


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 04:48 PM

Eh! Well I've just re-read that last post I made, and it sounds as bloody grumpy as any of the traddy grumps on Mudcat - when in fact I'm quite jolly tonight! Just shows you how badly the written word communicates nuances of mood... Pax!


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 04:40 PM

Jim C: as a 'not quite newbie now' to this folk song lark (nearing a year) SO'P continues to remain one of the most interesting and indeed inspiring singers I've heard. And according to some of the young and more interesting folk bands I've (albeit briefly) brushed up against, he appears to go down rather well in fact. My deep suspicion is that that might be, because he's actually rather good at what he does...

As to "Who gives a toss?" Well, I think you do some of your fellow contributors a rather large disservice here. It's clear (and been stated as such) that members here at least, do give a toss! While a few might disagree with your view, they surely wouldn't be wasting otherwise profitable time debating such matters with you, if they *didn't care?*

You are clearly a deeply passionate and learned man in your subject. But you also tend to come across in a somewhat alienating *manner*. Some weeks ago I reviewed the old classic film 'Goodbye Mr. Chips', and I'm afraid to say, rather like the eponymous Chips, that your on-line personality could easily push possible younger enthusiasts away from even beginning to listen you out.

If you don't like the 'pop' that you hear (which IS encouraging new voices), I'd humbly suggest that you stop grumping about it and provide a substantial alternative for those young enthusiasts out there who will be more than interested in learning from solid resources. Get those Critics teaching materials online. It's never been a riper time. Carpe Diem!


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 04:27 PM

Or the way elderly white males behave when they've found a hobby horse high enough for even their elevated views.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 03:33 PM

"And if you're capable of these unprovoked outbursts, why shouldn't we believe everything else you say isn't bollocks too "
"
"And thus we find the Sycophantic Mollusc leaving his wretchedly non-constructive divisive slime-trail where e'er he slithers"
"On my trophy shelf is a wee shield for 3rd Prize in Traditional Unaccompanied Male Singing from Rothbury Festival 1991"
Bryan; there you have a full vindication of my scepticism of the present state of the revival.
Jim Carroll


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