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Do purists really exist?

Folknacious 25 Jun 11 - 09:27 AM
Musket 25 Jun 11 - 09:42 AM
Colin Randall 25 Jun 11 - 10:10 AM
Colin Randall 25 Jun 11 - 10:13 AM
GUEST,livelylass 25 Jun 11 - 10:25 AM
theleveller 25 Jun 11 - 10:40 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Jun 11 - 10:54 AM
GUEST,999 25 Jun 11 - 10:55 AM
Silas 25 Jun 11 - 11:09 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Jun 11 - 11:12 AM
Leadfingers 25 Jun 11 - 11:15 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Jun 11 - 11:16 AM
GUEST,Lighter 25 Jun 11 - 11:32 AM
Bill D 25 Jun 11 - 11:45 AM
MGM·Lion 25 Jun 11 - 12:03 PM
olddude 25 Jun 11 - 12:53 PM
Richard Bridge 25 Jun 11 - 01:09 PM
Ron Cheevers 25 Jun 11 - 01:15 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 25 Jun 11 - 01:20 PM
Bill D 25 Jun 11 - 01:25 PM
Jack Campin 25 Jun 11 - 01:30 PM
The Sandman 25 Jun 11 - 01:33 PM
GUEST,Jerome Clark 25 Jun 11 - 04:13 PM
Little Hawk 25 Jun 11 - 04:21 PM
Richard Bridge 25 Jun 11 - 04:31 PM
Big Ballad Singer 25 Jun 11 - 04:46 PM
GUEST,Jerome Clark 25 Jun 11 - 04:48 PM
JohnH 25 Jun 11 - 04:57 PM
JohnH 25 Jun 11 - 05:08 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 25 Jun 11 - 05:30 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 25 Jun 11 - 05:44 PM
gnu 25 Jun 11 - 05:50 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 25 Jun 11 - 06:00 PM
Phil Edwards 25 Jun 11 - 06:38 PM
Dave Hanson 25 Jun 11 - 08:04 PM
Folknacious 25 Jun 11 - 08:18 PM
Charley Noble 25 Jun 11 - 08:27 PM
Richard Bridge 25 Jun 11 - 08:33 PM
Bert 26 Jun 11 - 01:37 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Jun 11 - 03:35 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 26 Jun 11 - 03:52 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 26 Jun 11 - 04:01 AM
Bert 26 Jun 11 - 04:02 AM
GUEST,Jon 26 Jun 11 - 04:09 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 26 Jun 11 - 04:16 AM
Musket 26 Jun 11 - 04:35 AM
Bert 26 Jun 11 - 04:54 AM
GUEST,Jon 26 Jun 11 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 26 Jun 11 - 05:41 AM
Musket 26 Jun 11 - 05:56 AM
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Subject: Do purists really exist?
From: Folknacious
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 09:27 AM

Every time somebody does something a little different with traditional music, record reviewers and often the artistes themselves will trot out that old cliche that "the purists will probably hate it". Sometimes such wishful thinking implies that would even be a badge of honour. My experience, though, is that if musicians do things well and their heart is obviously in the right place, people who really do know about or are part of a tradition will rarely object. Many are indeed flattered and excited that people of a younger generation or from a different culture see the core worth in their music and want to take it onwards or outwards. Why wouldn't they?

So who are these "purists"? My suspicion is that if such a breed really exists, they're people who have only a surface knowledge of a tradition. Folk club audiences who have only listened to revival performers, for example, or fans of world music whose knowledge has only come from records and magazines. In both cases, they ignore the fact that living traditions have always evolved down the years, that's their very nature.

OK, there's the odd Luddite (they exist in all walks of life, not just music), but isn't "purist" the wrong term?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 09:42 AM

Purist means bore from my experience.

Sad buggers who won't go in a pub unless they serve "real" ale, waffle on about a 1954 definition of an abstract form of entertainment and reckon the only words to Sir Patrick Spence that count are the ones they first heard, normally on their mother's knee (allegedly).

Music evolve, through either the oral tradition or the commercial world looking for new angles and unique hooks. Maybe not the ideal thread to waffle on about me not knowing what folk music means because in the past, I find myself being told exactly what it means. Normally by those who don't know either....

Tell you what, if you enjoy it, you are a purist. If somebody else enjoys it and you don't they are a purist too. By coincidence, my iTunes is playing on the Hifi in random mode. Led Zeppelin's Gallows Pole is on at present and by coincidence, Thin Lizzy's Whisky in the Jar played a short while back and this morning, I could hear Martin Carthy singing Slade's Cum on Feel the Noize.

Three good examples of why purists should bugger off.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Colin Randall
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 10:10 AM

I've probably written those words or similar myself, Folknacious, and they do exist even if, as Ian Mather suggests, they could usefully bugger off.

I first encountered them at a folk club where floor singers knew guitars and material not seen as traditional were frowned upon (I remember at least singers who took delight in defying them just to wind them up). Then you had the Irish purists for whom it was unacceptable, depending on the strain of purism, for 1) anything to be accompanied 2) anything to be accompanied except on specified, vetted instruments or 3) tunes to be played by combos instead of on single instrument.

It's all bollocks, of course, though I would not try to stop none running a club or performing music in a way that conformed to their narrow outlooks. No one is forced to attend/listen. Mind, I'd go to a pub not selling real ale only if its wine by the glass was drinkable.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Colin Randall
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 10:13 AM

Hit the button too quickly, as ever. In my first sentence, in case fellow pedants are looking over my shoulder, "they" means purists. And it was "at least two singers" who enjoyed winding them up at the first folk club I attended.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 10:25 AM

If fans of trad folk are actually able to organise clubs which cater to their interests and it pisses off "You Too Can Master Three Chord 70's Rocktastic Classics!" book artistes, then more power to them I say!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 10:40 AM

No, of course purists don't exist.

"and reckon the only words to Sir Patrick Spence that count are the ones they first heard,"


I think you'll find that should Spens, by the way.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 10:54 AM

"I think you'll find that should Spens, by the way"
Purist!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 10:55 AM

Of course purists exist. Where would we get puries from were it otherwise?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Silas
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 11:09 AM

Good post livelylass


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 11:12 AM

"Purist" is the rather facile term of abuse for those who neither know what a folk song is, nor care very much - as is "finger-in-ear", "folk police (or fascist)"...... and all the other childish soundbites that save you the trouble of thinking.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 11:15 AM

When I FIRST got interested in Traditional Jazz , I was firmly conviced that "Good" Jazz could only be played by a six piece band consiting of Trumpet , clarinet and trombone front line , with Banjo bass and drums in ythe rhythm section ! NOTHING else !
Then I discovered the first recordings of Louis Armstrong with the King Oliver Jazz band in 1923 . This band had two cornets , a clarinet and a trombone as the front line , with drums , bass , PIANO and Johnny St Cyr sometimes playing s Six string banjo tuned as a guitar . To make things worse , on several of the recordings was one Stump Evans playing Alto Saxophone ! At that point I stopped being a Trad Jazz Purist , and started REALLY listening to Jazz

Sadly there are still a lot of VERY serious Folk Afficionados (Very few of whom play instruments , though some DO sing unnaccompanied) who have not had their ears opened to what is possible in music , and can only be labelled as the same kind of purist that I was before I had MY ears opened !


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 11:16 AM

In fact
"It is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing"
Jim Carroll again


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 11:32 AM

Let's distinguish between two kinds of "purists." The first kind is made up of mostly amiable experts who know what actual traditional music or sounded like, but who can evaluate a contemporary performance on its own merits.

"Snobs," on the other hand, often don't know half as much as they think, and seem determined to make everyone else know it. They tell others that if they don't perform up to folk-snob standards, they're corrupters of art.

Both groups were probably more numerous in the early '60s, but neither has ever been common, because most people just don't set themselves up as outspoken taste-makers and theoreticians.

Of course, anybody who dislikes any aspect of a performance simply for not being "traditional" enough may be derided as a purist.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 11:45 AM

I used to have a tee-shirt that said "PURIST SNOB" in big, glittering letters...with a decal of an old phonograph.

I am about as close to 'purist' as you'll find in THIS forum, and yet I'm not really one. I have been known to enjoy... and sing... non-'folk' songs and folk-type songs written recently. All I wish for is some deference to obvious differences in music, so that I can easily find and choose. My default, favorite music to listen to IS the older, traditional, usually by the prolific 'anon', because it just has a different 'feel' than much modern music, and I like LPs, CDs...etc., which can be identified as such.

   There are trends in much modern music...especially 'folkish' sorts... that I do NOT care for, so I am pretty careful in how I spend my $$$$....and I do wince at attempts to 'improve' old, traditional ballads with frenetic pace and volume.......but I do, as I said, listen to and enjoy other stuff also.
Purist? Not really. Picky? Yep!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 12:03 PM

Puristically, it is 'Spence' in some versions, as quoted by Coleridge in his Dejection Ode.

But I am a "saddo", am I, for being so perverse as to expect to hear folk music when I go to a folk club? So I can bugger off, can I?

Just bugger off yourselves, you standardless know-nothings.



In fact, as above outburst implies, it all depends, as always, on where you set your parameters, doesn't it?...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: olddude
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 12:53 PM

Every performer interprets a song in their own manner. A song that doesn't become your own when you perform it is indeed boring. What makes a musician great instead of just good is the manner in which they interpret the song. That also includes classical or any form of music.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:09 PM

There is nothing wrong with performing a song in a new way, or even editing the words. It's probably how we got the versions of folk song with which we know. There is however every merit in knowing whether a song is a folk song or not, but I am not surprised by those above who think the question irrelevant.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Ron Cheevers
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:15 PM

Lots of "purists" in the U.K. They usually perform traditional songs with a "traditional" voice, and the obligatory "traditional" Martin guitar.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:20 PM

What I want to know is why are 'non-purists' so sensitive about the possibility of being criticised by 'purists'?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:25 PM

"why are 'non-purists' so sensitive "

Why? *grin*...because it is more work to keep the categories straight and they simply don't WISH to think about it when they decide to listen or sing 'what they like'. It's just an attitude...understandible, but subjective.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:30 PM

It looks like Ian Mather is REALLY ticked off at the idea that somebody might not be very impressed by Led Zep's "Gallows Pole" and prefer to listen to something else.

A purist is somebody who can think of better things to do with their time than listen to big-hair rock musicians trying to make money out of what they think is folk music. Do I have that right?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:33 PM

who cares apart from Folknacious.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jerome Clark
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 04:13 PM

"Purist" is a lazy word to characterize those who like their folk music as traditionally delivered as possible. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with interesting, even radical innovations in the performance of folk music either. Live and let live, and insist only that however it's done, it's done well. There's plenty of room for everybody, and without everybody, folk music would have been pushed so far to the margins that we wouldn't even be having this discussion.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 04:21 PM

Everything really exists. The only question is...

When?

Where?

And how many of them? ;-)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 04:31 PM

I am by no means clear JC that that is what a purist is. Since the forms of folk music are unlimited surely a purist cares only whether it is or whether it isn't and makes no value judgment based on form.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Ballad Singer
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 04:46 PM

In my experience (and IMHO), a "purist" is simply someone who has adopted one particular viewpoint as their own to the (unfortunate) exclusion of others.

To be a "purist" is very, very difficult as far as I can tell. It seems as though everyone eventually has an experience in which their uniquely 'correct' or exclusivist position is shaken by the advent of another valid position.

Take religion, any religion, for instance. Claims of exclusivity are necessary, I suppose, on some level if the religion is going to claim to be relevant on its own merits. To go so far as to say that "only the TRUE BELIEVERS in OUR religion, who possess the (spirit, secret, code, handshake, apron, whatever), are able to attain to righteousness..." is not only hard to prove, but it's usually laughably easy to DISprove. All one has to do is locate someone who is kind, loving, or manifests whatever character the "true believers" have, only without being a "believer" themselves.

See? A folk purist, like any other purist, is only making a valid point (again, in my opinion) when they are preserving and cherishing a tradition, not insisting that their tradition is totally pure and sacrosanct and untainted and must be reverenced as such.

Except for MY tradition... mine's the pure one. ;)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jerome Clark
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 04:48 PM

Richard Bridge's definition of a purist is possibly defensible in some sense, though he is surely aware that judgments on form are made all the time. After all, that's what occasioned this thread. In any event, RB's definition isn't the one that comes to mind when most people encounter the "purist" bugaboo (tossed around prolifically and irritatingly, for example, in Sean Wilentz's Dylan in America; I would have thought that so eminent a historian would know better). It's also possible that when you get down to it, "purist" means not much at all; in discussions of folk-revival approaches, its true purpose may be simply to put somebody else down because his or her tastes in the presentation of the music are not exactly like our own.

In point of fact, of course, purity does not exist in the world. It's a construct like "authenticity." The past continues to influence us, but it is unrecoverable; we can't relive it, so we can only reimagine it and use it for our present purposes. Still, a Mike Seeger was closer to a kind of Platonic ("pure") ideal of folk music than, say, Bellowhead is. I love 'em both, and I am happily confident I am not alone.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: JohnH
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 04:57 PM

Thanks, Lively Lass!
If songs or tunes get fixed by the media performance of "Stars" then the tradition dies! Think about Karaoke! It's not how you see the song or tune but how it was done by someone else. Folk is about individuality!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: JohnH
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 05:08 PM

@ Ron Cheevers. I don't do guitar!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 05:30 PM

I've met many self-confessed Purists who didn't come close; then I've met some seriously qualified people whose encyclopedic knowledge of Traditional Music was matched only by their love of it yet were not purist in the slightest. My conclusion is that Purism is unqualified fundamentalism founded largely on personal insecurity and a complete lack of understanding of cultural / musical process - let alone Folk. The people who really know about this stuff always take a wider picture.

So - sadly - Purists do exist; fortunately they're few and far between, but (as the saying goes) there's always one... I've had guitar-weilding Purists take me to task for using a Turkish fiddle for accompanying Traditional English Folk Songs; I've had technophobic Purists telling me they were personally offended by my use of an electronic Shruti box in an otherwise acoustic folk club, PA notwithstanding! Best of all was an irate Purist who took exception to me using a looping phrase-synthesizer (a Korg Kaossilator) as part of a ballad performance because he reckoned it was no better than using a backing tape. In all these cases they called themselves Purists; in all cases they were, of course, male*. Someday, they will isolate the Purist Gene. God knows life is too short.

* That said, I recall two highly educated & otherwise dignified lady singers of my acquaintance almost coming to blows over whose version of The Trees They Do Grow High was the most authentic!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 05:44 PM

A purist is a person who believes that musical boundaries and categories exist. He/she believes that he/she is entitled to hear folk music in a folk club, jazz in a jazz club, classical music at a classical music concert etc., etc.

A non-purist is a person who thinks that all music should sound like his/her favourite forms of pop/rock music.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: gnu
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 05:50 PM

olddude... "Every performer interprets a song in their own manner. A song that doesn't become your own when you perform it is indeed boring. What makes a musician great instead of just good is the manner in which they interpret the song. That also includes classical or any form of music."

Right on cooldude.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 06:00 PM

Well, Shimster, I'm most certainly not a purist and I expect to hear folk in a folk club, but that rarely happens these days, alas. In such clubs, of course, self-confessed Purists thrive; in proper Folk Clubs purism is complete anathema to the beauty of Traditional Folk Song.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 06:38 PM

The problem with purists is that they have fixed ideas about what's bad and what's good, and they know it. The problem with people who hate purists is that they have fixed ideas about what's bad and what's good, but they don't know it.

My view is that we all have things that move us, things what we believe in & things we hate, but that it's very rare for them to line up at all neatly. I believe in keeping traditional songs going & maintaining a space where people will come & expect to hear them. I'm powerfully moved by "Waly Waly" and "The Unfortunate Lass", but also by Lal Waterson's "Child among the weeds" and Bellamy's "My Boy Jack". And I hate people singing stuff they've only just written, people singing from a crib sheet and (especially) people singing stuff they've only just written from a crib sheet. I could tell myself that all of this fits together perfectly and it defines what Folk means to me - I could even denounce people who have radically different ideas of what Folk means to them - but really, what would be the point?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 08:04 PM

Who is Ian Mather ? he speaks like some sort of authority.

Anyome who does that isn't.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Folknacious
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 08:18 PM

Suibhne Astray said I've met many self-confessed Purists who didn't come close; then I've met some seriously qualified people whose encyclopedic knowledge of Traditional Music was matched only by their love of it yet were not purist in the slightest. . . . The people who really know about this stuff always take a wider picture.

Yes, that's pretty much the point I was making in my original post. What I think I failed to make clear is that there ought to be another name for those people who get called "Purists" because - as you say - they usually lack the knowledge on which to base a justifiable stand - which is what I think Leadfingers said about his experience with jazz. Expecting to hear folk in a folk club doesn't make you a "purist", just someone who is likely to be regularly disappointed!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 08:27 PM

Without some reference, whatever we sing has no meaning.

Think about that...

Sometimes the reference is a traditional ballad or a traditional tune of a particular singer.

If the reference is to something which just happened, the song is only good for that moment when everyone is riveted on the topic, such as Ex-Congressman Wiener's attachments!

I personally like the term "inspired by" and I generally know who I owe for my own creative efforts.

If you don't have a clue what I'm talking about, you probably don't have a clue about what you're singing.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 08:33 PM

It seems that the word "purist" has no generally accepted meaning - at least from the above.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 01:37 AM

We are probably all purists in one way or another when defending our own beliefs.

A lot of attitudes seem to depend upon whether you want your traditional songs to be museum pieces or part of a living tradition.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 03:35 AM

Shimrod has it exactly right for me.
"A purist is a person who believes that musical boundaries and categories exist..... "
We put labels on tins so we know which one to open, nothing to do with whether the contents are 'good' or not, as long as they are what it says on the tin; that is a different criteria.
The problems arise when the term is used as one of abuse, that's when the crassness and acrimony starts.
"They usually perform traditional songs with a "traditional" voice, and the obligatory "traditional" Martin guitar."
As English traditional music was almost certainly unnaccompanied, no self-respecting 'purist' would dream of using a guitar.
It's that type of uninformed generalisation that gets up peoples' noses; I'm sure 'snigger-snogwriter' or 'talking horse' each gives just as much offence.
It seems to me that the majority of 'anti-purists' are the ones doing the condemning here and castigating those who don't like the same things they do - mind your own ******* business.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 03:52 AM

A lot of attitudes seem to depend upon whether you want your traditional songs to be museum pieces or part of a living tradition

This is a Purist myth. The Folk Revival has nothing to do with a 'living tradition' - on the contrary. Perhaps the definition of a Purist is, therefore, one who believes that by singing these old songs (and ones fashioned in their likeness) they are continuing a living tradition rather than indulging in a minority hobbyist past-time; one who believes that it is somehow significant, and even superior to 'Rap Music'? To them I say, by all means enjoy your model railway, but don't expect the rail networks to be supplied by Horby 00 any time soon.

Maybe I should qualify that statement to add that I am one such hobbyist and like nothing better than gathering with a few like-minded souls for a good old roll & blow in the filthy back-room of a public house untouched by the ravages of commercialism, but as we've seen, once you begin to look into the songs and the tradition thereof, you realise that Purism has no place. Well I might balk at having to endure anything other that 100% Pure Traditional English Folk Song (or immitations thereof) when I go for a night out at my local Folk Seance, but that doesn't make me Purist. One is reminded of a slogan on those awful Folk T-shirts which rings true for me: What happens in the Folk Club, stays in the Folk Club.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 04:01 AM

Purist as a term tends to be derogatory. Hence so many people misconstruing some of the comments above. I don't think Ian Mather is setting himself up as an authority and bloody hell, I am almost agreeing with M'Unlearned friend Richard Bridge. Although in my experience people who reckon they are, even if they don't use the term, purists, certainly do make value judgements.

You could liken it to war reenactment groups where the more historically faithful, the more pure it is. Folk music isn't that though, it is a night out with a few beers or it is mastering an old reel on the basis of it sounding good (or sounding complicated if the performer is trying to impress) or it is collecting echoes of how society ticks or used to tick. All the above and more.

If Gallows Pole is a " folk" song, then Robert Plant is a folk singer. I sang a song in a folk club recently, "I don't like Mondays" making Bob Geldof a writer of folk songs. Got he idea from Dave Burland so that makes it official then.

Purist UK folk, played on purist American guitars.

Having had many discussions over a pint, including last night... Ian Mather and I just see too many examples of folk clubs dying out whilst people coming to a club for the first time have a habit of not returning for a second chance. Purists should indeed bugger off, but only in the attitude sense. We still need to hear a retired social worker stick his finger in his ear and tell us what it was like herring fishing off Dogger bank. All part of the tapestry, but don't get precious when people down their pint and go for a refill as you get into gear.

I'll come off the fence now. I love the weird beards and many are old mates but getting a bit fed up defending perceived stereotypes. I tell members of the human race I play acoustic roots so they don't piss themselves laughing because folk seems to infer musical bigotry by sad old buggers in fair isle sweaters, sandals and anger at anything not left wing clap teap.

There, said it.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 04:02 AM

This is a Purist myth.???

Which?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 04:09 AM

A lot of attitudes seem to depend upon whether you want your traditional songs to be museum pieces or part of a living tradition.

That's often suggested but I don't think it's usually true, Bert. I think most of us who can be called "purists" do consider themselves to be part of a living tradition. It's more a question of how we see the tradition moving.

Personally, I see it picking up bits it likes and rejecting others over time and moving along in that way. I don't really buy "this is the new direction of folk music" type pronouncements.

I think the term is also used for people who don't enjoy a particular style or direction although I don't understand why because I tend to enjoy music in a more traditional folk style it should follow that I should like it in any other style because it has the label "folk" attached to it.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 04:16 AM

Here's a thought - do we only truly become Folkies when we walk into a Folk Club, or some other Designated Folk Context, thus, like the hitherto invisible Mason, becomes visible upon entering the lodge? Is it possible to Folk on your own? Of course much research & rehearsal goes on in private, but that's merely by of of preparatory tactics so you'll turn in something good on the night.

Mention was made of the purism of war re-enactment groups and their fidelity to detail, but as accurate as they are none of them will ever be posted Afganistan, much be prepared to really fight in battle or else die in the fray. If they really were Purists, they wouldn't flinch; and their fidelity to historic detail would be such that the wounded would refuse all modern medicines, antiseptics and anaesthetics. Hard core Purism; not for the faint hearted.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 04:35 AM

Hard core purism? Steamin' Willie mentions retired social workers singing about herring fishing. My hard core bit was many years ago, when I was singing about love, war, whatever and a mate who was such a social worker sang about mining. The following morning, I went down the pit....

Yes, Willie and I did discuss musical bigotry over a pint last night. I recall we also discussed Nigella Lawson's two biggest assets, whether Gary Megson will be given enough money for some more key players before the opening game, whether the new landlord of the pub will make a good go of it, whether Elixir strings are worth the money and why Willie always says its time to go when it is his round next.....

Sorry to those who saw themselves in my criticism at the top (ish) of this post. I have a cap if you wish to wear it, but to be frank, some of it reinforces what I put and so I sadly stand by it all. Sadly because I want folk clubs to thrive, and a full club of the same people who were there thirty years ago isn't thriving, it is perpetuating, and that has a shelf life.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 04:54 AM

...It's more a question of how we see the tradition moving...

The tradition is moving by itself. It seems to me that "The Purists" are the ones who want to stop it. You are not allowed to call it Folk Music if it doesn't fit into their definition.

But definitions or not "The tradition is moving by itself". When you are picking the bits that you like, then you are moving it in a direction that you would like to see it go.

When Suibhne Astray sits down for a good old roll and blow in a pub then it is headed in that direction.

...do we only truly become Folkies when we walk into a Folk Club... that is a very good point. I like to think that we become folkies when we go to a party or a pub and sing something that we learned from someone else.

We also become folkies when we visit Bruce Olsen's web site and learn something from there.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 05:10 AM

It seems to me that "The Purists" are the ones who want to stop it. You are not allowed to call it Folk Music if it doesn't fit into their definition.

You are allowed to call anything you like folk music. Just be prepared to accept that what you consider to be folk music may not be what someone else considers to be folk music.

"The tradition is moving by itself". When you are picking the bits that you like, then you are moving it in a direction that you would like to see it go.

And picking up bits that fit in with what you are doing and that others you are with enjoy and find fit. And perhaps others hear it and find it works so over time it finds its way into the tradition.

This is a different process to declaring "this is the new direction of folk" and expecting this is the route that must be followed.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 05:41 AM

I think we're back the old question What is The Tradition? Or what does The Tradition mean to you? In this case, it seems to be synonymous with The Revival, which isn't, strictly speaking, The Tradition, rather that which first perceives, then claims to represent, The Tradition. It all gets a bit fundamentalist really, but that's what drew me into folk clubs when I was 14 or so and keeps me there now some 35 years on (and, as I keep saying, I'm still invariably the youngest in the room!).

Of course there are younger Folks who see things very differently and are doing amazing things as a consequence, but what I like by way of social joy, is the filthy pub scenario described above which, I admit, has limited popular appeal. I do other things too of course, but to me the Filthy Trad Folk Song Seance empowered by Pints of the local brew in a pub where the landlord will pull a tooth for the price of an anaethetising Talisker in my idea of hardcore folk heaven.

It all begins in the barley temple in the Holy Name of the Come-All-Ye where no one is calling the shots; where egos are checked in at the door and even a singaround would be too rigid a concept to abide by, let alone booked guests or the dreaded two-song floor spot and (God forbid) introductions and comedy. Here no one sits twiddling with the guitar tuners whilst another is singing, for here we raise Ghosts and Spectres; here we dissolve into the collective potency that is the heart of Traditional Folk Song; here we commune with the fundamentals in common awe at the vivid joy that will always drive sorrows away.

Purist? Moi? Not a bit of it!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 05:56 AM

Spence, Spense, Spens.

The official one is that one there...

Or is it the other one?

You know, since hearing Martin Simpson's latest version, I have changed "young man" to "aged Lord" hence perpetuating the oral tradition.

Mind you, even that term meant something else when I was a teenager.

I like the bit above about two songs on a stage. When I started in folk clubs, all the local ones did that. I had been going to clubs for a couple of years before encountering a more singaround club. So if I were being purist, I would say that if you don't do two songs on a stage, it is not a folk club. Yet others may say that a folk club is about playing where you sit, one at a time going round in a circle.

Got it! Purist means pandering to your own nostalgia.


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