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Definition of folk song

Related threads:
What is a Folk Song? (292)
Who Defines 'Folk'???? (287)
Popfolk? (19)
What isn't folk (88)
Still wondering what's folk these days? (145)
What makes a new song a folk song? (1710)
Does Folk Exist? (709)
Here comes that bloody horse - again! (23)
What is a traditional singer? (136)
Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement? (105)
Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition? (133)
So what is *Traditional* Folk Music? (409)
'Folk.' OK...1954. What's 'country?' (17)
Folklore: Define English Trad Music (150)
What is Folk Music? This is... (120)
What is Zydeco? (74)
Traditional singer definition (360)
Is traditional song finished? (621)
1954 and All That - defining folk music (994)
BS: It ain't folk if ? (28)
No, really -- what IS NOT folk music? (176)
What defines a traditional song? (160) (closed)
Folklore: Are 'What is Folk?' Threads Finished? (79)
How did Folk Song start? (57)
Traditional? (63)
Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs? (129)
What is The Tradition? (296) (closed)
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What is filk? (47)
What makes it a Folk Song? (404)
Article in Guardian:folk songs & pop junk & racism (30)
Does any other music require a committee (152)
Folk Music Tradition, what is it? (29)
Trad Song (36)
What do you consider Folk? (113)
Definition of Acoustic Music (52)
definition of a ballad (197)
Threads on the meaning of Folk (106)
Does it matter what music is called? (451)
What IS Folk Music? (132)
It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do? (169)
Giving Talk on Folk Music (24)
What is Skiffle? (22)
Folklore: Folk, Pop, Trad or what? (19)
Folklore: What are the Motives of the Re-definers? (124)
Folklore: What Is Folk? (60)
Is it really Folk? (105)
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A new definition of Folk? (34)
What is Folk? IN SONG. (20)
New Input Into 'WHAT IS FOLK?' (7)
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'What is folk?' and cultural differences (24)
What is a folk song, version 3.0 (32)
What is Muzak? (19)
What is a folk song? Version 2.0 (59)
FILK: what is it? (18)
What is a Folksinger? (51)
BS: What is folk music? (69) (closed)
What is improvisation ? (21)
What is a Grange Song? (26)


GUEST,kendall 02 Sep 14 - 03:13 PM
GUEST 02 Sep 14 - 03:13 PM
Lighter 02 Sep 14 - 04:03 PM
Big Al Whittle 02 Sep 14 - 04:08 PM
Amos 02 Sep 14 - 04:46 PM
Mr Red 02 Sep 14 - 04:52 PM
MGM∑Lion 03 Sep 14 - 04:00 AM
Musket 03 Sep 14 - 05:11 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Sep 14 - 05:49 AM
Bounty Hound 03 Sep 14 - 06:22 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Sep 14 - 06:27 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Sep 14 - 06:37 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Sep 14 - 06:40 AM
Reinhard 03 Sep 14 - 07:03 AM
Bounty Hound 03 Sep 14 - 07:15 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 03 Sep 14 - 07:43 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Sep 14 - 08:19 AM
Lighter 03 Sep 14 - 08:21 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Sep 14 - 08:29 AM
Musket 03 Sep 14 - 10:48 AM
Lighter 03 Sep 14 - 11:13 AM
Musket 03 Sep 14 - 11:16 AM
Bounty Hound 03 Sep 14 - 02:52 PM
Bert 03 Sep 14 - 04:37 PM
Steve Parkes 03 Sep 14 - 04:49 PM
michaelr 03 Sep 14 - 07:58 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Sep 14 - 06:39 AM
GUEST,colin Holt 04 Sep 14 - 07:40 AM
Bounty Hound 04 Sep 14 - 08:59 AM
PHJim 04 Sep 14 - 01:13 PM
Musket 04 Sep 14 - 01:26 PM
MGM∑Lion 04 Sep 14 - 02:03 PM
Musket 04 Sep 14 - 04:50 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Sep 14 - 04:07 AM
MGM∑Lion 05 Sep 14 - 04:16 AM
Musket 05 Sep 14 - 05:27 AM
The Sandman 05 Sep 14 - 05:56 AM
Steve Parkes 05 Sep 14 - 06:21 AM
Musket 05 Sep 14 - 06:23 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Sep 14 - 06:47 AM
Musket 05 Sep 14 - 07:07 AM
GUEST,Woodsie 05 Sep 14 - 08:32 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Sep 14 - 08:51 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 05 Sep 14 - 08:55 AM
GUEST,colin Holt 05 Sep 14 - 09:05 AM
Musket 05 Sep 14 - 09:57 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Sep 14 - 04:30 AM
The Sandman 06 Sep 14 - 06:23 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Sep 14 - 06:45 AM
The Sandman 06 Sep 14 - 07:50 AM
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Subject: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 03:13 PM

Heavy mental


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 03:13 PM

It takes more than a teaspoon of brains to appreciate it.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Lighter
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 04:03 PM

So you're saying it's an elite, intellectual kind of song?


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 04:08 PM

The old gaelic song

A wee teaspoon a brain's muckle aroon
Huish! a heelan' lassie's fechta poon!

I once performed that unaccompanied at Ballspond Road Caledonian Society, the applause was thunderous. Darling....I was wonderful!


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Amos
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 04:46 PM

From the "other" current thread on the topic:

As usually occurs in a group discussion a great deal of smoke and friction is generated because of the conflation of multiple definitions around a single phoneme or word. "Folk" has multiple definitions, of which a few are:

1. A musical category of songs and tunes that have been handed down through time orally or through personal modeling. Folk music is the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission according to Saint Fifty-Four. (His close friends just call him Nineteen).

2. A set of agreements and cultural attributed associated with folk music.

3. A class of non-urban people romantically considered as the backbone of a nation, often used as a pretense for war or other political dodges.

4. A category of musical products such as records or CDs usually involving artists playing acoustic instruments and pretending to be from the class in Definition 3.

5. Musical compositions that try to sound as if they come from the people in Definition 3, by invoking simplistic or romantic sentiments, minimal vocabulary , a bent for melodrama, and weak discrimination as a key plot component in farce or romantic comedy.

It should be immediately clear that if you have one definition in mind, your assertions will sound quite off to a person who has another definition in mind.

A modern singer-songwriter who writes a really great and genuine-sounding "folk" song (e.g., Darcy Farrell, circa 1970) is only doing so under definition 5, and not under definition 1.

A


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Mr Red
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 04:52 PM

Before defining the Folksong (how much time can you spare?)
you should define Folk. And you ain't got enough time to start on that hoary old chestnut.

I think we can take the essence from another hoary old chestnut. "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like"

does that help?

and another hoary chestnut "Are we there yet?"

Or should I have started by defining "rhetoric?"


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: MGM∑Lion
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 04:00 AM

Stephen Potter, the inventor of Lifemanship & Oneupmanship (who, it must always be remembered, was merely a successful humorist not a profound philosopher or guru), wrote in one of those books (from memory): "If ever fortunate enough to meet someone who says, 'I don't know anything abut Art but I know what I like', you should reply immediately in a plonking voice, 'If you don't know anything about Art then you don't know what you like!'."

FWIW

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 05:11 AM

Here is a folk song by any and every definition;

"I am on holiday to relax, drink my fill,
So I thought I'd take a sleeping pill.

I slept through the day, I slept through the night,
Except the time I got up for a shite."

Now, it is a folk song because it is about the life of a working class lad. It is a folk song because it relates his story. It is of historical record.

It also fits the bill of traditional because nobody knows which Musket wrote or indeed experienced it.

Also, it isn't very good lyrics. I often think the very best and very worst I hear can be classed as folk.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 05:49 AM

This is as good a simplified definition of Folk Music as any
Jim Carroll

FROM THE OXFORD ENGLISH REFERENCE DICTIONARY.
FOLK MUSIC n. instrumental or vocal music of traditional origin transmitted orally from generation to generation, whose authorship is often unknown. Folk music tends to have a relatively simple structure and melody, and to use portable instruments such as guitar, violin, harmonica, accordion, and bagpipes. Folk music is often monophonic, consisting of simple unaccompanied tunes although vocal polyphony is common in southern and eastern Europe. While some regions of Europe (e.g. Bulgaria, Romania, the Basque Country, Macedonia, etc.) there has been an uninterrupted there has been a living tradition of folk music, concern began to be felt in the late 19th in Britain and elsewhere that the folk tradition would be lost. Pioneering collectors and revivers of folk music include Cecil Sharp and Percy Grainger in Britain, DvorŠk in Bohemia and Moravia and KodŠly in Transylvania. During the Depression years in in the U.S. Woodie Guthrie revived interest in the form with his political protest songs: he had a strong influence on later figures such as Bob Dylan, who later performed traditional folk material and also wrote new songs in a folk style. In Britain in the 1960s and 1970s groups like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span explored and expanded the form; electronic and other less traditional instruments began to be used, giving rise to a style known as folk rock.
Recently much attention has been given to folk music from other cultures (see World Music)


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 06:22 AM

And you accept this definition Jim?

Seems to me that it it contains all the elements you've argued furiously about on the other thread. Those dreadful guitars are in there, and it describes a 'form' and even a 'style' and there is the clear acknowledgement that there is new 'folk' music!


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 06:27 AM

Defining the indefinite?


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 06:37 AM

"And you accept this definition Jim?"
Of course I do.
Don't distort what I said by leaving out my full comment on guitars
They were an addition to the British revival - nothing to do with the British folk tradition - personally, I found them useful, as I took some pains in saying and you have taken some pains in distorting.
"even a 'style' and there is the clear acknowledgement that there is new 'folk' music!"
No it does not - read the ******* thing - it says there is a new music that has been borrowed from the old folk music - not that it is part of it.
You want to call your music 'folk rock' feel free to do so - but don't claim it as being part of genuine folk music - it isn't.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 06:40 AM

And by the way - the definition refers to the style in which the new music is performed - it is not a definition of what it is.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Reinhard
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 07:03 AM

Then why is this OED entry titled "Folk Music" and not "Performing of Folk Music", Jim? You can't accept this definition and reject it at the same time.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 07:15 AM

I've read it Jim, can't see the word 'borrowed' in there anywhere, what I can see is a description of 'form' or style' and the acknowledgement that there is new music in that 'form' or 'style' all forming part of a paragraph defining 'folk music'

So, not that I need your permission, but I will continue to call what the band do 'folk' rock, but I will also continue to differenciate between traditional and new songs.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 07:43 AM

Definition of folk song ???

For what purpose ?

Who would it be intended for ...

Academics, Archivists, Researchers ?

Schoolkids eagerly finding out about and downloading various forms of music on the internet ?

Older music fans with a serious addiction for discovering all kinds of performers,
who have been happily enjoying whatever takes their fancy for decades,
without ever being too bothered by how the 'experts' classify it ?

A mass of the population with no real lasting care or concern for any kind of music whatsoever,
who might not be the slightest bit curious about what it is they are completely ignoring.. ?


Yeah.. ok, definitions can be handy.. but ........


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 08:19 AM

Can I suggest that people read all or at least some of The New Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs. It probbly wont give you a simple deffinition but I think it offers the most useful and comprehensive writing on English Folks Songs currently avaialable.

NPBEFS


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 08:21 AM

> vocal music of traditional origin transmitted orally from generation to generation...

Very good, especially in a definition intended to cover world cultures. Everything that follows is elaboration and clarification (with several "oftens," which are obviously peripheral to the meaning).

But the very mention of Dylan, Fairport, and Steeleye as having "expanded the form" with "new instruments" and "styles" leaves open the question of what their type of music is to be called - which is more
or less the issue of this thread. Are Steeleye's trad songs still "folksongs"? Is Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" in a "folk style"?
Should new songs in a "folk style" be called "folksongs"?

We all agree on what makes a traditional song (I think). But not even Oxford is quite clear about what makes a "folksong."

All it means is that one shouldn't lay too much emphasis on the precise meaning of "folksong" in any given instance. It's the specifics that interest, not the generalities.

(BTW, The part crediting "Woodie" [sic] Guthrie and no other for reviving American interest, is most remarkable, and makes me wonder what unsteady whippersnapper wrote this article. There was John Lomax, Carl Sandburg, Alan Lomax, Robert Gordon, Lead Belly, even Burl Ives...and without their discovery and promotion by the Lomaxes, Guthrie and Lead Belly would have remained obscure. Before the '50s revival, it could be argued that they were *still* obscure.)


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 08:29 AM

"Academics, Archivists, Researchers ?"
Among others
If it wasn't for these we wouldn't have anything to sing
"can't see the word 'borrowed' in there anywhere"
Try looking - "explored and expanded the form" - nothing to do with definition - just a reference to how folk songs were performed.
"there is new music in that 'form' or 'style'"
It says nothing about a "new music" - it refers throughout to an old music (which conforms to a definition) being performed in a new style.
When George Butterworth took the folk song 'Banks of Green Willow' and orchestrated it he gave us one of the most exquisite pieces of English Orchestral music - its origins remained folk, but it had become something else - Grainger, Delius, Vaughan Williams did the same, as did Kodaly and Bartok in Eastern Europe - they used folk music, they didn't write it.
None of them claimed to be writing 'folk' - on the contrary - the interest in folk song was inspired by the belief that England did not have a classical music of its own and it might be possible to create one using folk forms.   
All of which is a long way from your original argument that you can write a "new folk song".
"entry titled "Folk Music"
Because that is what the article is dealing with - references to 'folk-rock" are what has happened to folk music, not what it is, and the writer makes that quite clear - at no time does he/she ever suggested it is folk.
"Yeah. o.k. definitions can be handy"
Definitions are essential if you are going to do anything with it other than perform it.
In my opinion, beyond that if you run a club and call it 'folk' you are morally obliged to produce something resembling that description - not necessarily folk as per definition, but something an audience can identify with as related to folk.
It seems to me from personal experience, from discussions with friends and from what I read on threads like these, that this is no longer the case.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 10:48 AM

If you can define music as something to listen to and enjoy, then I'm afraid a lot of traditional wailing of old men in those trousers that come up to your tits ain't folk music either.

Jim refers to collecting and cherishing a piece of the past. He collects songs, my mate collects beer mats. Jim calls his hobby folk music.

Many people love listening to songs being performed with just a guitar and, if the person is a good enough singer, unaccompanied songs. They call their musical enjoyment folk music too. On a good day, Irish diddly doo tunes get called folk music.

I used to own a company that made and sold vibrators. Our customers stuck them in wet concrete. Anne Summers sell vibrators. Their customers stick them elsewhere. Both are called vibrators, both operate on a similar principle. I don't recall getting precious about it.

Dictionaries have multiple meanings for the same word and nobody breaks a bottle over the other bloke's head for it.

Folk music is a broad church and I'm sorry but on this, Jim is wrong.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 11:13 AM

With "vibrators," however, a little context *always* makes the meaning clear. If there's any ambiguity, it just seems funny.

Unfortunately not so with "folksongs."


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 11:16 AM

Not at all. I know at least one lass who always said she coul.....

I digress.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 02:52 PM

'Explored and expanded', nope, sorry Jim, you do seem to struggle with words, can't see anything that means 'borrowed' there.

Get your dictionary out and look up explored and expanded. That's got more to do with developing the tradition. Oh, but of course in your eyes, that can't happen, can it!


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bert
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 04:37 PM

A song that folk (people that is) are singing.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 04:49 PM

Rough 'n' ready definitions ...

1: The traditional, or British, folk song:
A song that, regardless of its origins, has passed into the oral tradition and been amended thereby;

2: The American, or contemporary, folk song:
A song that was written, composed, and performed by non-commercial person or persons;

3: The pragmatic but unhelpful modern definition:
Anything they'll let you sing in a folk club.

Hope this helps (but I doubt it!)


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: michaelr
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 07:58 PM

Kendall! What were you thinking? Feeling a bit perverse?


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 06:39 AM

"Explored and expanded', nope, sorry Jim, you do seem to struggle with words, can't see anything that means 'borrowed' there. "
Ho Hum
"In Britain in the 1960s and 1970s groups like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span explored and expanded the form; electronic and other less traditional instruments began to be used, giving rise to a style known as folk rock."
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,colin Holt
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 07:40 AM

This topic seems to come up on this site over and over .. which perhaps emphasises a lack of complete clarity on the subject. Like many I suspect, I've never quite understood what "Folk music" means. In fact I spent some years fearing that I was missing something.
For my own part, I've drifted through musical styles, from fumbling around on acoustic guitars, to local folk clubs, through prog rock (long songs with lots of solo's) in my early 20's, through jazz-rock, (long songs with complicated solo's) in my late 20's, then out through the other end to where I began, writing and performing songs on an acoustic guitar. Its always been about the writing for me, and I have to put some weight behind the view that a good song will last, whatever genre other people decide to put it in.

To broaden the issue for a moment, it doesn't just stop with Folk Music, what is Classical Music.? You only have to listen to Classic FM for 20 minutes (whilst cleaning out the goldfish bowl), to realise how confusing the whole concept is. Can Carl Jenkins really be considered as a writer of Classical music? well apparently so?. Doesn't he just write music.?
We are told by the discerning that classical music is "Serious Music"?
Well hang on, I can't take that, how condescending does that sound??

However, what is Folk? What is it?? It seems to me that some artists write something or perform an interpretation of something else, which allows them passage into the "Folk Circle". Music, which has "Roots in the tradition style", is a statement I have heard on many occasions, as an explanation for what Folk Music is. However, no one, as yet, has been able to explain to me what "writing in the traditional style" actually means.

In the end, does it really matter? In my humble opinion, music is what it is, and it either does it for you, or it doesn't.
Songs are what they are. They move you or they don't. There are no rules and nothing is right or wrong.
Personally, I'm moved in a similar way, and just as much by Chris Wood singing "Summerfield Avenue", as I am by the Kinks singing "Waterloo Sunset", or by Hatfield and the North singing "It didn't Matter Anyway".
Once written, good songs stay the duration. Wasn't it Joni Mitchell said "Songs are like tattoos y'know".
Just my two penneth in swift haste and with respect


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 08:59 AM

Ok Jim, let's see if I can help you out a bit.

Explore means to investigate, enquire or discuss

Expand means to enlarge or make more extensive, or to give a fuller version of.

Borrow means to take something (belonging to someone else) with the intention of returning it.

All very different, you see Jim, what you can't do is take a 'definition' that you say you accept, and then change the meaning of it when realisation dawns that perhaps it means something different to what YOU want it to mean.

Lets just 'explore and expand' this a bit further. Can you 'borrow' your own tradition? I would say not. You may be influenced by it, you may maintain it, you may wish to develope it further.

So if the likes of Steeleye and Fairport were investigating, or 'exploring' the tradition and were developing or 'expanding' the tradition, that to my mind is a thoroughly healthy thing, as this ensures that the tradition does not die, and long may people continue to explore and expand the tradition or style!


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: PHJim
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 01:13 PM

I first saw people trying to answer the question, "What is a folk song?" in Sing Out! magazine about 1961. This was debated, off and on, for the next 53 years. While many folks came up with definitions that satisfied themselves, there has not been a satisfactory answer to the question yet.

Big Bill Broonzy (or Louis Armstrong or...) said,"I guess all songs is folk songs. I ain't never heard no horse sing 'em."

Michael Cooney once said, "If you know who wrote it, it's not a folk song."

I believe Michael also said, "If it takes more than two trips to get your gear from the car, it ain't folk music."

Catfish Willie said, "It's a 4 letter word that starts with F and ends with K and if you use it, your music won't get played on the radio."

I believe Pete Seeger said that if he sang Jimmy Crack Corn on a stage and was paid for singing, he was not a folk singer, but a housewife singing My Funny Valentine to her kids while she does the dishes is a folk singer. (I'll have to look that up, but it was something like that.)

I wonder how many threads mudcat has had on defining a folk song.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 01:26 PM

I used to know a Colin Holt.. Tha's not a Worksop lad who buggered off to Devon perchance?


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: MGM∑Lion
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 02:03 PM

"Big Bill Broonzy (or Louis Armstrong or...) said,"I guess all songs is folk songs. I ain't never heard no horse sing 'em."
.,,.

Memorably, and IMO accurately, denounced by Bert Lloyd as "a dreary axiom".

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 04:50 PM

But neither you nor Bert Lloyd are / were in Big Bill Broonzy's league, so stop comparing yourself and a stamp collector with a musician eh?


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 04:07 AM

"Ok Jim, let's see if I can help you out a bit."
Please don't patronise me unless you can match half a centuries work in the field - it makes you look rather silly next to your 'acoustic guitars' and the rest of the non 'information' you you have managed to come up with so far.
Electric folk is the point you seem to be hung up on - a fair enough description of how a genre of defined music was performed.
'Folk' refers to the material, which is what made up the repertoire of the groups mentioned - ballads and traditional songs mainly.
'Electric' indicates how that material was performed.
The term 'Electric folk' is not a re-definition of the term folk but a description of how the music being defined 'folk' was performed - the definition remains the same.
'Folk' as defined by the article, remains as it was originally defined - all that has changed in this case is how it was performed - nothing whatever to do with the origins or transmission of the material, which is its defining feature
If a fifty piece orchestra performs 'Lovely Joan', the origins of the song and the 'folk process' eventually which landed it on our doorstep has not changed one iota - it remains a folk song (extremely definable) - it only SOUNDS different in performance.
In the 90s the classical music industry decided to attempted to popularise Classical music with a somewhat embarrassing series of albums entitled 'Pop Go the Classics' basically, classical pieces with a beat.
This in no way changed the definition of Classical music - 'Classical Pop' has a definition of its own, nothing to do with Haydn of Beethoven.
The same is the case when opera singers recorded Lennon and McCartney songs - they were opera singers singing pop songs - which remained pop songs.
Clear now?
If you care to re-read the definition, nowhere dos it say the groups expanded the tradition - is specifically says they expanded the FORM; electronic and other less traditional instruments began to be used, giving rise to a STYLE known as folk rock.
As I said earlier, all this is a million miles away from your original claim that you can write folk songs -
You can't, you can write songs that may, should they eventually be filtered through process, become folk songs.
"In the end, does it really matter?"
If you sat at home singing it in the bath - no it doesn't
If you run a club attempting to draw people in on the basis of a named music - it appears not to any more - sharp practice, as far as I'm concerned, but that's me.
If you are dealing with it in its wider context, it matters very much.
Folk songs, music, dances, tales.... are all the cultural expression, and (I believe) the creation of a specified section of our society - the labouring classes (largely rural)
They were created by them to express their experiences, outlook and estimation of life around them over many centuries.
Up to the point where folk culture was seriously examined, it was believed that the largest section of our society had no creative culture of significance and that we lived off the cultural crumbs dropped from the tables of our social superiors.      
A half serious examination of folk-song and music proper shows that not to b the case - take that away from us and we are back to having no cultural legacy - simple as that.
And that's without going to the masses of cultural and historical information and analysis that went into the making of folk songs and oral history.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: MGM∑Lion
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 04:16 AM

Brilliant post, Jim. Absolutely on the button.

I have often thought, and perhaps even written somewhere, that some institutions calling themselves "folk clubs", or occasions billed as "folk concerts", might just lay themselves open to prosecution under the Trades Descriptions Act.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 05:27 AM

It depends on whether they book you as the turn...


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 05:56 AM

so folk clubs should be called Barbara Allen clubs?what sort of clientele would that attract, wimpish young men and sadistic powerful women, sounds a bit S and M to me.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 06:21 AM

And let us remember that "folk" is a label we've invented, so when we try to fit parts of our (also invented) culture to the label, there's no reason it should be problem-free.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 06:23 AM

Electric guitars ARE traditional instruments in that they are used extensively in folk music. Few "traditional" instruments were around when many traditional lyrics we know had their first outing.

Electric guitars came about before 90% of the population of the planet's population were born. In fact, if you include the Rickenbacker frying pan, 99.0%. They lost the "contemporary" title when Les Paul died.

Seems like personal take to me. Melodeons were new and novel to Cecil Sharpe.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 06:47 AM

"And let us remember that "folk" is a label we've invented, "
All language is something "we invented" - it halps us discuss the things around is.
It only becomes problematical when it is not fully understood or is deliberately misused - take your pick
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 07:07 AM

Meanwhile back at the ranch. Millions of people are getting confused because they heard the exciting sounds The Imagined Village produced and thought, "Mm this folk music is good."

They saw a sign saying "Folk music here tonight" and got all excited.

They sat incredulously whilst an old bloke with his trousers up to his tits stuck his finger in his ear and warbled some unintelligible words.

Perhaps they misjudged. They didn't like The Imagined Village or folk after all.

They asked Musket about it. Musket said he tolerated all sorts that couldn't be described as entertainment to many, but we all suffer for our art..... (There are very few singers that cause Musket to nip for a piss, but you can only hear The Foggy Dew so many times.) Arthur C Clarke was asked by Stanley Kubrick how he could read some of the pulp science fiction? He gave the same answer as I give about a lot of music I may not personally like as entertaining music, but enjoy using it as a base to inform new songs and arrangements.

Folk music? It evolves, so evolve it... The traditional genre has given us some wonderful raw material. No point in leaving it raw and uneaten.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,Woodsie
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 08:32 AM

Here we go again - folk - the only music where nobody can agree what it is ha ha!


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 08:51 AM

"Millions of people are getting confused"
Millions - I think you radically over-estimate the number of people of people who listen to anything folky or even folkish
Thousands maybe, and even among those who listen to The Village People - whatever they call themselves, there is no consensus of what constitutes 'folk' on the club scene.
"They sat incredulously whilst an old bloke with his trousers up to his tits stuck his finger in his ear and warbled some unintelligible words."
If this is how you view folk music it goes a long way towards your attitude to it - I'm happy that Harry, Sam and Water nebver became part of that somewhat offensive and highly offensive side of the folk scene.
The Foggy Dew entertained people for several centuries and conttinues to do so today - one of my particular favourites.
I have to drag down Fred Dallas and Co's 'Electric Muse' off the shelf to remember what 'Electric Folk' was all about - didn't last much longer than one pf my better farts.
"Uneaten"!!!
Been a major part of my staple diet for a major part of my life - and many like me.
I thought it was us 'finger-in-ear' merchants who imposed our tastes on others - stop being a musical fascist Muskie - I had you marked up as being better than that.
"folk - the only music where nobody can agree"
I totally share your incredulation.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 08:55 AM

Ok.. now that we've finally defined "Folk"..................

Can we now have a go at analysing why a new generation of young kids
are still being brought up with the smug propaganda
that Acoustic is morally superior to Electric...???


============================================================

Btw, Jim

"From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 04:07 AM
"

Now that's gota be nominated for best Post of the year so far..

excellent


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,colin Holt
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 09:05 AM

"Folk songs, music, dances, tales.... are all the cultural expression, and (I believe) the creation of a specified section of our society - the labouring classes (largely rural)"
Yes Jim Carroll I understand this, and the historical context
"They were created by them to express their experiences, outlook and estimation of life around them over many centuries."
Again Jim I understand this as well. My problem is that all of these concepts continue today. Music like life is a continuim. People still need to express their experiences , their cultures, their disillusionment with society, the way they are disenfranchised. There still remains a large section of our society which is seen as separate, and labouring. Songs continue to be made which explore these concepts, and experiences. Are such songs and their writers worthy of respectful consideration to a Folk Club audience?? Is folk music purely a magical history tour.?
.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 09:57 AM

Jim. Some of those you mention were dear friends so don't start that one. Just because they had the provenance doesn't mean they were entertaining full stop. Some could be a pain in the arse and the attention they got wasn't warranted.

Collecting and enjoying are two different things.

Folk music is, if it is anything, the art of turning ancient forms of entertainment into entertainment people gladly listen to in this day and age.

Once the silver surfers here on Mudcat are no more, nobody will have heard of Walter Pardon. Ewan MacColl will revert to his '80s title of ex playwright, father of a pop singer.

However, the people you mock are the ones guaranteeing the music lives on.

We call it folk by the way.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 04:30 AM

"Just because they had the provenance doesn't mean they were entertaining full stop"
I tend not to mention names other than traditional singers who I feel represent folk as I understand it so I assume you are talking about those "whose trousers come up to their tits" as you so offensively put it.
Just because you choose to denigrate them by presenting them in the rather distasteful way you did doesn't mean that some of us didn't get pleasure from listening to them Muskie - really not worthy of you.
"We call it folk by the way."
Problem is - some people call some things 'folk' others call other things 'folk' - whether it is accurate or not, it has long ceased to be a guide to help me choose what I wish to look for and listen to - it doesn't mean anything any more as far as the clubs are concerned - it has taken away my right to choose what I want to listen to - or it would if I still bothered my arse going to clubs.
If I took you people seriously, it would have long taken away my right to talk or write about it
Raising the subject on a forum purporting to be dedicated to "Folk and Traditional Music" is somewhat like having to sign the Official Secrets Act - you no longer have a right to say what you believe to be important.
"Some could be a pain in the arse and the attention they got wasn't warranted. "
Maybe so - if I was into that sort of thing I could list you hundreds of Prima Donnas from any branch of music, that fits this description - often with a vegeance (at least one of them lurks through these threads promoting his own abilities like a born-again Colonel Tom Parker) - it really doesn't make the slightest difference to defining what they do.
You cannot 'like' a thing into what it is - it is what it is because that's what it is - it conforms to a recognisable and communicable pattern - simple as that.
"Collecting and enjoying are two different things. "
What a stupid statement - of course they aren't.
You collect a thing (as an amateur) because you like it, you like having access to it and , in our case, we alos think it important and believe it might have relevance and give enjoyment to others.
"nobody will have heard of Walter Pardon. Ewan MacColl"
Both their offerings to humanity have been fully documented and archived and will be fully accessible long after we've gone off to sing in the Choir Invisibule - well taken care of.
Walter died 18 years ago - still regarded as an important figure in British folk song and that will continue to be the case while the subject is remembered.
Ewan died a quarter of a century ago and his recordings are still being churned out, he is still a subject of lively discussion and we are sill basking in the enjoyment that he and Bert and all the other pioneers left behind them in the form of the revival they created.
Want me to go back as far as 1908 and Grainger's Lincolnshire singers - or even further?
I'd be happy to be remembered like that, whether people liked my singing or listened to what I had to say.   
We wouldn't have had a folk music to quibble over or to listen to if it hadn't been for that crowd and the time they put in to sharing it and giving it some stayability.
Like what you like - the fact that you like it makes it nothing more than something you like.
"My problem is that all of these concepts continue today."
Yes they do Colin - and they always have.
Unfortunately the people who created the music we are discussing no longer do so - I get a little tired of saying that we are now passive recipients of our own culture rather than part of the making of it.
"Is folk music purely a magical history tour.?"
Of course it isn't, any more than Dickens or Steinbeck or Hardy or Shakespeare or Mrs Gaskell or Chaucer or Boccaccio or Hasek or Hugo or Tolstoy or Sholokov or Serge or Zola or Defoe or Homer or Flaherty.... or any purveyor of words ideas and experiences, as far back as you care to go, were "magical history tours".
All have given me masses of sheer pleasure at one time or another, while at the same time giving me a peep into their lives and times.
Folk song as I know it, carries with it the same pleasure and the same peeps into the lives of others, only in this case it is into the lives of people who are considered to have no history of great importance and no culture worth mentioning as such - this is what makes it unique and important beyond the pleasure derived from it..
A good slice of my lifetime has been given over to listening to and gaining pleasure from folk song - never stopped or slowed down over half a century - on the contrary - you arrive at a stage of your life when you realise you are never going to live long enough to take everything that is still on offer - the bits you have missed or not fully appreciated fist time around.
That's just been driven home with a vengeance for me recently when I was forced to re-visit thirty-odd years of fieldwork in County Clare order to put it up on line.
I haven't even thought about the thirty years we did with Travellers in London or the twenty pleasurable years we spent sitting with in Walter Pardon's kitchen listening to him sing and talk (in parallel with our Clare work of course - nobody gets to be that old).
All that work will have to go to somebody else to make sense of and pass on - already well in hand.
All this stuff is based around singing and storytelling of a specific type - and all of it carries with it masses of cultural and social history that is there for the taking, should anybody, now or in the future, wish to avail themselves of it.
As Walter Pardon once told a neighbor who knocked on his door and told him he shouldn't give his songs away because once you do they're no longer yours - "they're not my songs, they're everybody's".
You tall me that this is going to happen to the pop-based songs that are passed off as 'folk' nowadays, and you might have made a point.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 06:23 AM

I would agree with Jim that the foggy dew of which there are a number of versions with story variations is a fine song, in my opinion john of dreams is also a very good song and s0 is on top of old smokey and tom dooley., all of which are definmed as folk songs
"Maybe so - if I was into that sort of thing I could list you hundreds of Prima Donnas from any branch of music, that fits this description - often with a vegeance (at least one of them lurks through these threads promoting his own abilities like a born-again Colonel Tom Parker) - it really doesn't make the slightest difference to defining what they do."   
the above statement has little relevance to defining folk song, but illustrates an unnecessary level of unpleasantness that is all too familiar in discussion of folk song. jim appears to be unable to discuss without periodic rudeness


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 06:45 AM

"the above statement has little relevance to defining folk song"
It has every relevance to the point made by Musket
The example I have in mind is a perfect example of a 'pain in the arse' and the ones Muskett mentioned don't fill posting after posting telling us what great performers they are when we can judge for ourselves how good or appalling that particular individual is.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 07:50 AM

jim, your knowledge of tom parker displays your ignorance, get your facts right, i know that is diffiult for you,the fact is tom parker masnaged presley very badly,example his refusal to let presley tour anywhere apart from the us. jim you clearly know f all about presley or col tom parker. your comment regarding parker has shown youself to be an opinionated ignoramus and a booby to boot.


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