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radio 4 how folk songs should be sung

johncharles 27 Nov 14 - 10:56 AM
GUEST,Jane of 'ull 27 Nov 14 - 10:49 AM
Brian Peters 27 Nov 14 - 10:26 AM
Brian Peters 27 Nov 14 - 09:58 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Nov 14 - 09:48 AM
GUEST 27 Nov 14 - 09:29 AM
Brian Peters 27 Nov 14 - 09:23 AM
The Sandman 27 Nov 14 - 08:59 AM
Jack Campin 27 Nov 14 - 08:57 AM
Brian Peters 27 Nov 14 - 08:53 AM
Musket 27 Nov 14 - 08:27 AM
GUEST 27 Nov 14 - 08:15 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Nov 14 - 07:58 AM
Vic Smith 27 Nov 14 - 07:51 AM
Vic Smith 27 Nov 14 - 07:46 AM
The Sandman 27 Nov 14 - 07:16 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Nov 14 - 07:16 AM
The Sandman 27 Nov 14 - 06:59 AM
Vic Smith 27 Nov 14 - 06:22 AM
The Sandman 27 Nov 14 - 05:43 AM
Musket 27 Nov 14 - 05:16 AM
The Sandman 27 Nov 14 - 05:06 AM
GUEST,Bob Blair 26 Nov 14 - 07:23 PM
Jim Carroll 26 Nov 14 - 05:08 PM
Jim Carroll 26 Nov 14 - 04:46 PM
The Sandman 26 Nov 14 - 04:20 PM
Vic Smith 26 Nov 14 - 03:38 PM
Brian Peters 26 Nov 14 - 03:32 PM
The Sandman 26 Nov 14 - 03:10 PM
Vic Smith 26 Nov 14 - 02:55 PM
The Sandman 26 Nov 14 - 02:15 PM
GUEST,LynnH 26 Nov 14 - 01:34 PM
The Sandman 26 Nov 14 - 12:58 PM
GUEST,Desi C 26 Nov 14 - 12:20 PM
TheSnail 26 Nov 14 - 11:53 AM
Backwoodsman 26 Nov 14 - 11:15 AM
Backwoodsman 26 Nov 14 - 11:13 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Nov 14 - 11:07 AM
Musket 26 Nov 14 - 11:06 AM
Backwoodsman 26 Nov 14 - 10:40 AM
The Sandman 26 Nov 14 - 10:27 AM
GUEST, topsie 26 Nov 14 - 10:01 AM
GUEST,Rahere 26 Nov 14 - 09:54 AM
The Sandman 26 Nov 14 - 09:23 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Nov 14 - 09:06 AM
The Sandman 26 Nov 14 - 08:34 AM
bubblyrat 26 Nov 14 - 07:52 AM
Musket 26 Nov 14 - 07:45 AM
GUEST,Rahere 26 Nov 14 - 07:35 AM
Musket 26 Nov 14 - 07:17 AM
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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: johncharles
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 10:56 AM

I am with Brian Peters and his wife on this one. Just sing the song to the best of your ability with thought given to the nature of the song.
Ewan McColl was a prolific song writer, however, I think in terms of the songs continuing to be sung in clubs only a handful seem to have stood the test of time.
john


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: GUEST,Jane of 'ull
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 10:49 AM

Ewan MacColl did come across as curmudgeonly in this programme and Peggy Seeger has said a few times that she feels slightly embarrassed now about this period with the Critics.. but then it was a long time ago, and many of us have been there! Steadfast youth and all that!


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Brian Peters
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 10:26 AM

"Shoals of Herring was based, as many of them were, on actuality recorded directly from Sam Larner"

Yes, I know that, Jim, but the actual quote on the programme seemed to be suggesting that any first person narrative is by its very nature bogus. If you accept EMC's statement that to write in the first person is to 'pretend that you were there' you'd have to argue that interviews with a fisherman are a far cry from a lifetime of first-hand experience on a North Sea drifter. Perhaps he just didn't express himself very clearly. At any rate, I think that describing a piece of work produced to EMC's order by a member of the group as 'a bore', 'dishonest' and 'a hoax' oversteps the line of frankness into rudeness and arguably bullying. For all the benefits that some of those singers undoubtedly received, that remark alone made me glad not to have been in that place at that time.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Brian Peters
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 09:58 AM

Re-reading Jim Carroll's interesting account posted at 07.16 about the varied approaches taken by CG, reminded me that Jim once copied and sent me several recordings of song workshops from the period, which contained much that was of value. Thanks, Jim.

No doubt it's true that the programme presented an incomplete picture. There did seem to be an agenda to tell a story about the rise and fall of a dictator, rather than really describe what was going on - despite Martin C being at pains to stress the benefits that were gained. And there were clearly great benefits: hearing Frankie Armstrong's 'Tam Lin' always made me want some of whatever she was on!


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 09:48 AM

"whereas writing a song from the point of view of a Yarmouth fisherman is not"
Shoals of Herring was based, as many of them were, on actuality recorded directly from Sam Larner, Ronnie Balls, et al - he uses much of Sam's actual wording in the song directly from the actuality recordings.
Likewise Freeborn Man and the Travellers songs
Shellback was based on interviews they did with Ben Bright, the sea terminology was Bright's.
Tenant Farmer came from interviews with Border farmers on the subject that the song dealt with.
I doubt if the same can be said of the Vietnamese song.
All of MacColl's Vietnam songs came from the point of view of the sympathetic observer (from afar) - none, to me recollection, were written from the 'first person' position - I don't believe there were even first-hand accounts of the Vietnam to draw from to make songs.
"But to me it seems quaint to look back on a time when a single pedagogue could hold a group of acolytes in such thrall"
Is it that old fashioned?
I still get buzz from listening to actors discussing their roles - I'm totally hooked on the Sky Arts' Shakespeare programmes and Al Pacino's 'Looking for Richard' made a major contribution to my understanding of Richard III.
I never looked on MacColl as a pedagogue (schoolteacher) but as an extremely articulate artist who had thought a great deal about his art - for me, that will never be out-of-date.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 09:29 AM

As a ticket and CD buying consumer (I only sing on the chorus) the bit about Stanislavski opened up for me a view of 'make the song your own' that was less self-centered than I how it had always seemed to me.

Had I miss-understood or do many who give that advise have a self-centred approach ?

But McColl's singing always struck me as someone acting, which the even people who credit his influence rarely do.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Brian Peters
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 09:23 AM

Forgot to add: when I was talking about "people getting hot under the collar", I was referring to those who disapprove of analysing folk song in principle, one or two of whom seemed oddly irritated by the fact that someone had advocated that kind of analysis fifty years ago.

One other thing: hearing again that bizarre criticism by E MacC of the poor sod who'd tried to write a song from the point of view of a Vietnamese, I wondered how that approach could be 'dishonest' and 'a hoax', whereas writing a song from the point of view of a Yarmouth fisherman is not. When a singer begins "Oh my name it is Jack Hall...", are we entitled to be offended because he or she is not, in fact, Jack Hall?


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 08:59 AM

There must have been good reasons why MacColl developed during his lifetime into a very good song writer, other than just talent, talent is never enough without training and practice and environment, in MacColls case PRESUMABLY theatre environment, as I understand it
Did MacColls study of speech rythyms, for the radio ballads contribute to Shoals of Herring and other songs?.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 08:57 AM

what we really needed was to get back to the first word. This is why Jeremy Barlowe's work on the English Dancing Master in the late 1970s was so important, work which hasn't really been taken on yet, and the follow-up work done by Joel Cohen in Boston in the States.

I was listening to The Broadside Band's Playford cassette a couple of days ago, and it was beginning to seem rather old-fashioned. The arrangements are more elaborate than they need to be, with heavily filled-out harmonizations that don't add to the danceability of the tunes, and lots of recorder twiddles that would no doubt sound terrific in live concert performance but ditto, don't tell people's feet very much. (I speak as a recorder player with a great fondness for flashy twiddles myself).

But basically you're right - tidying up Barlow's approach to remove these traces of self-indulgence would have done better by these tunes that what actually happened. The main group playing them where I am is led by a shatteringly loud accordion player who turns them all into monster-ceilidh-band music. You get only slightly less gross treatments all over the UK. Playford's soundworld has been completely lost.

Joel Cohen's early Sephardic music recordings sound rather twee now, but he's gone on to deeper investigations of how that music ought to sound. I doubt if he'd now see the Voice of the Turtle stuff as much moire than a heads-up to tell people that music was worth a hearing.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Brian Peters
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 08:53 AM

Re 'quaint':

What I actually said was that "some of those ideas seem quaint now". That is not to deny that some (or many) of the ideas were valuable at the time, and may indeed be useful now.

But to me it seems quaint to look back on a time when a single pedagogue could hold a group of acolytes in such thrall. Even in my early days on the Manchester folk scene (1980s) there were people around who still believed in the gospel of Ewan as if there were no other valid approach. Back in the heyday of the Critics Group it was probably true that MacColl knew much more about the subject than anyone else (excepting Bert, of course), and newcomers must have marvelled at his depth of knowledge and been delighted to have him share it. These days we have democratization of information, and anyone who is so inspired can get hold fairly easily of any number of the source recordings and documents that in those days were available only to the most dedicated researchers. Young singers have it all at their fingertips, and they are not deferential to the older generation, though they may respect us.

Vic was kind enough to give a plug to a recent venture of mine involving young performers (incidentally, Vic, my own sons are 21 and 27, so less of the 'old enough to be their grandfather', thank you!). If I were to say to any of those singers, "Sorry, but you're doing it all wrong, this is how you should do it", they would laugh in my face. They respect the way I do it, but are quite capable of developing their own style and approach. I might well say to them (as people like Roy Harris and Martin Carthy once said to me, to their eternal credit): "Ah, but have you heard Phil Tanner's version of that one?", but that's as far as I'd want to go in prescribing anything - and they've most likely heard Phil Tanner already anyway. Put me in front of a song workshop and I'll try to pass on what I know - but not, I hope dictate.

I also find the idea of applying Stanislavski to folk song performance rather quaint (and I wonder how much longer Stanislavski will hold sway in the acting profession, after seeing the recent documentary on Mike Leigh). No-one believes more strongly than I do in the value of looking hard at a ballad and trying to get to the beating heart of it, but this 'sing as an actor' business is over-rated IMO. I don't buy the idea that attempting to perform say 'Little Musgrave' from the point of view of the three main protagonists is going to affect materially the perception of the story by the listener, and the example presented in the programme didn't convince me. I'm interested to hear about Jim's recording of alternative approaches to 'The Gypsy Laddie', but do ballad singers really get bored by singing the same ballad over and over and feeling the same emotions? I know I don't. Would it be useful to sing 'Long Lankin' from the point of view of the false nurse? I don't think so.

My wife, who's just heard the programme, remarked that the 'method acting' approach came across as a device presented by someone with a background in theatre, to impress by mystification. It might have had some value as a means of getting singers to really think about their songs but, again, I can't see younger singers wanting to go through all that. And they, after all, are the future of this kind of music.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Musket
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 08:27 AM

If you are a young person, there's every chance that young folk singers have written better songs from your perspective. Quality is subjective.

When MacColl was the age of some young singers, he wasn't so prolific. That doesn't mean he wasn't special. The old sod was, and recognising that doesn't deflect at all from whether you like, prefer or enjoy something far different.

I personally have huge affection for his imagery, simple words conveying meaning and choice of tunes. My youngest feels similar about Billy Bragg whilst my wife feels all music had been written by the time of Elgar and folk musicians use music rather than perform it.

All bloody relative. Putting anybody on your pedestal is honourable. Assuming your pedestal is gold plated and the next person's made of plastic isn't getting anybody anywhere. Folk music, like any entertainment evolves. Whilst crusty old buggers are bowing at the altar of yesterday's hero's, millions of people worldwide are clicking on "folk" in iTunes and downloading the latest Ed Sheeran album.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 08:15 AM

Let's see, in terms of volume of work, Katherine Tickell's not been a slouch, and Bella Hardy's on her way.
Of course, neither are a Mozart, but then again, neither was Ewan McColl! And Wolfgang burned out early


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 07:58 AM

"how folk songs should be sung "
Hope we cross-posted on this one Vic
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Vic Smith
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 07:51 AM

Sorry! I quoted Jim Carroll with the quote above and that is incorrect.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Vic Smith
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 07:46 AM

Jim Carroll -
"Vic can you name a young song writer in the uk folk revival who has produced the same quantity of modern quality songs?"


No, because, in my opinion, he is the finest songwriter to come out of the folk scene....actually, I'd go further than that; I'd say that he was the finest songwriter of songs in vernacular English since Robert Burns, but he would not say that he wrote folk songs though I can remember him talking at a dinner party about how it had been reported to him that his The Shoals of Herring had been sung as The Shores of Erin.. When I asked him if he thought that the change was conscious or was something like the 'folk process', his reply was something like, "I don't know. I am not in a position to tell."

However, it is not the quality of his songwriting is not under question. The point that he was divisive cannot be disputed with his attitude towards how folk songs should be sung being one of his qualities that caused this divisiveness.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 07:16 AM

Vic,
my experience in Ireland is that most of the modern songs that are mistaken for traditional songs are songs written by MacColl his songs appear to have entered the tradition in greater numbers than any other writer, so perhaps he is being discussed not because of contributors ages but because of his importance as a song writer of traditional style songs.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 07:16 AM

The title, 'how folk songs should be sung' is, at best, superficial and at worst, vindictive - it was not what the Critics Group was about and I would like to think the Martin Carthy had nothing to do with its choice.
The Critics Group was formed when a number of singers approached MacColl and asked him to take singing classes.
He could well have done, but instead, he chose to set up a workshop set up on the self-help principle where a number of performers and enthusiasts could meet regularly, listen to each others singing, make comments on what worked and what didn't and suggest how improvements might be made.
The first thing they did was to immerse themselves of as many types of traditional singing as were available via recordings.
MacColl provided singing and vowel exercises to develop pitch, tone, articulation, breath control.... etc, and relaxation exercised developed by Nelson Illingworth.
He introduced the idea of 'efforts', based on understanding and controlling the voice delivery in terms of weight, direction and speed - he had adapted these from Laban's theory of movement as used by dancers and actors.
That was more or less the technical side of the Group's work.
The second side of singing work was to assist a singer make a song their own using Stanislavski's 'application of the idea of IF, and emotion memory.
Far from advocating that there was a single 'right' way of "how folk songs should be sung" it was an examination of all the different ways a song might be approached and made work be each individual singer.
I have recently been listening to a recording of one of the Group singing 'The Gypsy Laddie' using five different approaches - not one way it "should" be sung, but five ways it could be approached if one way became stale though being over-sung.
It also helped develop ways of handling all the differing types of song in the repertoire, from shanties to lullabys.
Among the first work was listening to singers from all genres and attempting to imitate them; this was to try to understand your own voice, how it was produced and how to control it.
This may well have been where Charles Parker's 'Strawberry Roan' came from - Charlie never sang cowboy songs - they really weren't his 'thing'
There were other aspects to Group work, including examining specific genres of song, song writing, planning feature evenings (including poetry and prose readings) - we even did a bit of acting.
The Group was primarily set up for those who were serious about their singing and wer prepared to put in the work, but most aspects of what was done was adaptable - Pat and I helped run Singers Workshop for 15 years which was set up to assist new and less experienced sings and was run on a far more casual basis - much of what we did was taken from our Critics experiences.
I don't believe what we did was "quaint" - much of it was groundbreaking and has, to my knowledge, never been surpassed.
I know Frankie Armstrong developed what was done in the Group for her voice workshops, and Sandra Kerr used some of it in her Newcastle courses, I understand.
The incentive it gave us to 'lift the corner to see what was underneath' fed into our own work as collectors - it is a part of our lives we still value very much
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 06:59 AM

I realise that you probably know this, Brian, but what the obsessive nature of Mudcat with Ewan and The Critics reflects is the average age of the British contributors here.
not necessarily, it might reflect that he has been an important song writer who has produced a significant quantity of excellent songs, Vic can you name a young song writer in the uk folk revival who has produced the same quantity of modern quality songs.
jez lowe is 60ish.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Vic Smith
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 06:22 AM

Brian Peters -
"What baffles me about this thread is that people are getting so hot under the collar about this 40-50 year-old slice of history."


I realise that you probably know this, Brian, but what the obsessive nature of Mudcat with Ewan and The Critics reflects is the average age of the British contributors here. They came into this music when they were young and when MacColl was a hugely important and divisive character on the folk scene. He remains so for those people. Amongst regulars on this forum are those who have gained an enormous benefit from what Ewan did and said. Those from the Critics Group with the other opinion are not represented here. Recently, I was digitising old radio interviews and came to one with someone who had been a prominent member of The Critics Group. In the interview I mentioned Ewan's name but before I could frame the question about his influence on the interviewee, I was interrupted with "Aaaaargh! No more gurus! We each have to work out own direction... our own salvation."

One of your recent albums * sees you working with artists that are young enough to be your children (ahem, grandchildren?) and I think that this typifies what I think of as your approach. Of course, you recognise the importance of knowing where the scene has come from as it is a guide to where it is going but you refuse to be bogged down in the past. I hope that I feel that I also can learn from the different attitudes of younger performers in my contact with them in conversations and in interviews for radio and magazine articles.

* The Liberty to Choose
A Selection of Songs from The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs
James Findlay, Bella Hardy, Brian Peters, Lucy Ward.

Fellside Recordings FECD257 (CD, UK, June 10, 2013)


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 05:43 AM

Ewans ideas re Stanislavski,and how folk song should be sung, do not appear to have any continuity with traditional singers, but is that a reason to not consider them? I suppose not, as long as the singer is not giving the impression to others that this is how traditional singers sang.In the edited excerpts we heard and for all i know they may not be truly representative of everything that happened at critics group meetings, Ewan was portrayed as being a person who was in charge, as someone in that position he had a responsiblity[ to explain that these ideas had no connection with tradtional singing styles], for all i know he may have done that.
In Ewans favour, he was giving up his time to try and help others he was also trying to get singers to analyse and think about interpretation, all of which are positives., some singers like Luke Kelly moved on, but still owed a huge debt to Ewan and Peggy as regards repertoire.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Musket
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 05:16 AM

Agreed. You never do badly from listening to how others do what you do.

Aping them in order to somehow seem "authentic" is another cesspit of geraniums entirely...


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Nov 14 - 05:06 AM

I think that many of the suggestions from Jim Carroll[ which I assume came from Ewan and his mates] about breath control and diction and singing technique are very good.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: GUEST,Bob Blair
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 07:23 PM

Brian Peters. " however quaint some of their ideas seem now"

Perhaps you can give some examples of these quaint ideas so that we can have some idea on what you're talking about.?

Bob Blair


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 05:08 PM

It was once my ambition to live long enough to see the folk song reval reach adulthood - an ambition long abandoned
Back to Denzil Washington
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 04:46 PM

Quickie - back later
The MacColl household occupied a smallish 3 bedroom maisonette in Beckenham
When I visited and throughout the period I stayed with them young Neill was evicted from his bedroom to make room for me and the tape recorders (see below)
Jim Carroll

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLjS3gzHetA


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 04:20 PM

"The idea that there is one particular way in which folk songs SHOULD be sung is not something I hear getting preached from many pulpits these days, so why not listen with interest to these voices from the past, rather than dismissing out of hand the whole notion of trying to get better at singing?"
has anyone dismissed the idea of getting better at singing, I certainly have not, in fact I h ave suggested that the programme would have been better if we could have heard more of Ewans ideas about how songs should be sung and less irrelevant throwaway remarks.
I agree there is no one particular style folk songs should be sung, however, Brian I know you are a skilled performer and that you value committment and practice and basic performance skills[ like singing without notes]


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Vic Smith
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 03:38 PM

My link reminds us that A Very Sensible Well-Informed Person argued with Ed Milliband on television last week that £2,000,000 will only buy you a garage in London at current property prices - never mind a big house.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Brian Peters
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 03:32 PM

The comment about the house was a throwaway remark addressing the more general point about how MacColl gradually became estranged from the group. The programme was actually about the Critics Group, rather than about singing technique, whatever the title may have suggested.

What baffles me about this thread is that people are getting so hot under the collar about this 40-50 year-old slice of history. The kind of ideas discussed by MacColl and his acolytes / collaborators had a profound and often beneficial influence on the folk world we've all grown up with. On the other hand, there was much else going on at the time, independent of CG, that also fed into it. I see nothing wrong per se with enthusiasts getting together in an attempt to improve their performance and understanding of songs, however quaint some of their ideas seem now, and however divorced they might be from the way Sam Larner etc did it. The idea that there is one particular way in which folk songs SHOULD be sung is not something I hear getting preached from many pulpits these days, so why not listen with interest to these voices from the past, rather than dismissing out of hand the whole notion of trying to get better at singing?


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 03:10 PM

this is exactly what was wrong with the programme, nonsense about houses, instead of more detail about how to perform songs.if he had a big house he did not inherit it, it was as a result of his song writing skill.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Vic Smith
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 02:55 PM

Funnily enough, I lived within a few doors of the MacColl residence in Beckenham for a couple of years when I was at college so this was 1964-1966. They were pretty huge houses and even in those days many were divided into flats. Somehow I was the leaseholder for two of the three flats and had the (difficult) job of collecting the rent from all the students who had a room there to pay to the letting agency. It has seven bedrooms in total but even what intended as living room and lounge etc. were occupied as single student rooms.
Ours had been rented to students for some years and was the only run-down house in the area. I think that most of them have now been converted into flats, but a quick check on house prices for those that remain as single occupancy in the roads in that area and that reveals that their current prices seem to be in the range of £1 to 2 million, so you can imagine the sort of house that is being discussed here.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 02:15 PM

Lynn H,I am afraid I cannot answer that one. oh hang on, maybe he didnt sing it at the club but at a crtics group meeting somewhere else. Someone on the programme said ewan lived in the stockbroker belt thats not correct, he lived in Beckenham, Which joined on to london and was at that time a mix of working class and middle class, but not stockbroker belt, i went to school there for a couple of years, stocxkbroker belt way wide of the mark.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: GUEST,LynnH
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 01:34 PM

@GSS- I'm not sure how Charles Parker singing "The Strawberry Roan" squares with Singers Club/Critics group policy.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 12:58 PM

MacColl's clubs chose to promote traditional and traditionally based clubs in order to open up the British repertoire - those who didn't agree with that policy were free to go somewhere else."
The Singers Club had a policy[ as I understand it] that American singers could sing American songs, English singers should sing English songs etc, this policy only applied to singing in the singers club, so this meant that Peggy Seeger and Tom Paley were able to singsongs from the Appalachian mountains though they were not from this part of America?
Was it ok for an English singer to sing an Irish or Welsh song?
I am merely curious as the exact rule, no intended criticism, just asking for clarification, Thanks.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 12:20 PM

The very fact that there is a radio prog titld 'how Folk songs SHOULD be sun, is reason enough to give it a very wide berth surely!


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: TheSnail
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 11:53 AM

There are a number of performers in THE UK FOLK REVIVAL who sing under an assumed name.
Back in the nineteenth century the Scottish fiddler Archibald Milligan changed his name to Carl Volti.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 11:15 AM

Cross-posted with Jim - mine of 11:13 am was a response to Musket.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 11:13 AM

Correct. I don't do any of those things either - as you know, I sing in the regional accent in which I speak - but I don't censure those who do sing in an assumed accent, neither do I censure Mancunians who changed their name in order to try to fool people into believing they were a Jock. Which was the point I was originally trying to make!

Have a good 'un tonight, sing a couple for me (North Lincs accent, please!). 😃


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 11:07 AM

"to sing songs that aren't from one's own region/area/district/country/whatever"
Nobody said it was "wrong" - that's one of the urban legends.
People running clubs can adopt any policy they wish to present any kind of music they wish - MacColl's clubs chose to promote traditional and traditionally based clubs in order to open up the British repertoire - those who didn't agree with that policy were free to go somewhere else.
As Peggy said - it was a club plicy adopted by Ewan's clubs.
The end result was that the British repertoire became the norm (more or less) - I'll drink to that.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Musket
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 11:06 AM

I don't get into arguments about people with opinions on my hobby and (semi) artistic output either. Neither MacColl, EFDSS, 1954 or any of the other terms that get some people animated actually mean Fuck all.

People sing, people listen. It either makes you feel horny, makes you want to throw up or any and all points in between.

MacColl only heard my singing twice, so hardly enough to tell me what my folk music is considering that is what I sing.

I don't pretend accent it either. I'm a northern Lad and you either get that or something fairly neutral if it is American. I don't sing with an American, Scottish or Australian accent, I don't black up to sing Swanee River, I don't sing Diddy songs from a church roof whilst borrowing lead and I don't nick a car before singing a scouse song.

(there. That should just don't the trick. It was getting a bit boring.)


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 10:40 AM

So why is it 'wrong', according to someone whose opinions I don't give a FF about and who isn't around to debate the point any more, to sing songs that aren't from one's own region/area/district/country/whatever, and to attempt to sing them in the accent appropriate to the song's provenance?


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 10:27 AM

not always to do with equity, some changed it for other reasons, why shouldnt they?does it matter, in my opinion it is more important to practise and try and perform without words, but that is just my opinion, the opinion of a talentless moron.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 10:01 AM

"performers in THE UK FOLK REVIVAL who sing under an assumed name"

I believe that, because of the rules of - I think - Equity, some have had to change their names because they happened to have the same name as someone already registered.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 09:54 AM

Well, Musket, if you were one of the tea-dance crowd who'd taken over the EFDSS at the time...
What they were really having a go at is the crew who'd not settled to who they were, singing in a cod mid-Atlantic accent one moment and an equally inaccurate Irish or Scottish one the next. And that was only part of the list of pains we faced. Who were not grown up enough to tell the BBC crew who thought English folk had to include Dylan (a point Martin Carthy makes, referring to Ewan MacColl's opinions) and thought Simon and Garfunkel's version of Scarborough Fair was both uthentic and the last word in the subject, not realising thaat what we really needed was to get back to the first word. This is why Jeremy Barlowe's work on the English Dancing Master in the late 1970s was so important, work which hasn't really been taken on yet, and the follow-up work done by Joel Cohen in Boston in the States.
I'm not saying there is no such thing as modern folk, or American folk, or trad, or whatever. What I am saying is that the journey by which we got to these was somewhat distorted between the 1930s and the 1950s, and we have the resource and knowledge to undo that and pick up again where we should be. Most of what we're doing's clearly right in any case, but it would be as well to be able to claim all our heritage. It's what the Early Music crowd call historically-informed performance, not performance identical to what the original would have been, in whatever century the song comes from, but a performance which can justify where we are now in a line of thinking and feeling descended from where it started.
It's kind of where Ewan McColl was coming from back then, just he didn't have the tools we have now nor the experience of the mistakes his followers and others made along the way. Now it's time to make our own mistakes, whether through failing to take uup the siren call of commmercial music a couple of years bak, or going that way, we are as blind now as they were then and as anyone evermore will be. All we have is the path by which we got to where we are, and to carry that on. In this, we held part of a heritage the commercial music tried to kill in the 1980s, and it's our choice whether to follow the siren song of dosh and try a professional career in the face of the opposition of those already starving in the sector, or whether we do it as excellent amateurs, which is, after all, the real nature of folk music down the ages. And so on and so forth.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 09:23 AM

There are a number of performers in THE UK FOLK REVIVAL who sing under an assumed name.
I am of the opinion that its not important and not as important as trying to get a song right,I judge performers on their performances not their names.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 09:06 AM

"Not to mention the faux Scottish accent, form a Salford lad.
Maccoll grew up in a Scots household, learned his songs from Scots lodgers and neighbors and his Scots parents.
I know from personal experience that when he was in conversation with his mother he lapsed into broad Scots pretty well as I end to lapse into broad Scouse when I talk to by sisters.- not "faux" - but then again, don't let these facts interfere with your grave dancing.
Whatever words MacColl chose to frame his beliefs in, his intentions were as I stated - happy to pass on Peggy's address so you can put her right Muskie (thanks Brian).
Staninslavski's method was not the same as Strasberg's adaptation - I worked at the headquarters of the London branch of the Strasburg Studio in Red Lion Square and had a chance to discuss it with some of the people there - different beast altogether
MacColl adapted Stanislavski for singing, just as he adapted Laben's movement technique for the voice - it was a technique of relating to and identifying with a song - worked like a charm and still does for me.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 08:34 AM

according to this article method acting is not the same as Stanislvskis method


Developed in the early 20th century at the Moscow Art Theater by Constantin Stanislavski, the Stanislavski method of acting is a set of techniques meant to create realistic portrayals of characters. The major goal of the Stanislavski method is to have a perfect understanding of the motivations, obstacles, and objectives of a character in each moment. Actors often use this technique for realistic plays, where they try to present an accurate portrayal of normal life. It is not the same as "Method Acting," which goes even further into becoming a character.
Three Core Elements

To begin employing the Stanislavski method, actors generally go over the script very carefully, looking for key identifying factors. A performer discovers what a character wants, what prevents the character from getting it, and what means the character will use to achieve this goal. These concepts are frequently referred to as "objective," "obstacle," and "method." Actors must also determine the given circumstances of every scene, such as where the scene takes place, what is in the room, and what is going on in the outside world.
Beginning with Objectives

To identify the objective clearly, an actor breaks down a scene into "beats" or "bits," which are short sections that end with each change of objective. In a basic example, if a character pours a cup of coffee, answers the phone, and then runs screaming out of the house, the scene has at least three separate beats. At the bare minimum, the objective changes from pouring coffee, to answering the phone, to getting out of the building. Beats are not determined on action alone, however, and may be based on a change of argument or emotion.

Actors can define objectives even within individual lines of dialogue, based on a concept called "objective words." It is the actor's job to understand and play the character's objective not only in the entire play or film, each scene, and each beat, but also in each line. Determining what the key motivation is behind each line is a basic practice in the Stanislavski method.
The "Magic If"

In order to help actors portray the honest objective of the character, Stanislavski pioneered a concept called the "magic if." To help connect the character to the actor, performers must ask themselves "What if this situation happened to me?" Through this activity, actors identify with characters as possible aspects of themselves, allowing them to think like the characters, rather than just impersonate them.
Obstacles and Methods Within a Scene

Obstacles are things preventing a character from achieving his or her objective. In the previous scene, if the character trips while trying to run, it would present an obstacle to the objective of getting out of the house. Obstacles are dealt with through one of three methods: the character gives up the objective because of it, finds a way to go around it, or plunges along regardless. The method a character chooses in dealing with obstacles gives great insight into that character; the basis for much of the Stanislavski method lies in defining how and why a character chooses a particular response.
The Internal Monologue

Understanding the objectives and methods of a character allows a performer to create an internal monologue for that character. Real people typically have a semi-constant flow of thoughts going on in their minds, and the Stanislavski method attempts to create a similar internal monologue for a character. This technique helps each action feel as if it comes spontaneously, rather than simply because the script says it should happen. Actors also use this monologue to help them prevent a scene from becoming repetitious or dull even after many performances.
Differences from "Method Acting"

Due of its emphasis on realism, the Stanislavski method is often used in modern plays, film, and television. It should not be confused with Lee Strasberg's "Method Acting," however, which involves an actor attempting to completely become a character. The Stanislavski method maintains that a performer must remain somewhat separate from the character, in order to properly understand his or her motivations and goals.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: bubblyrat
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 07:52 AM

I like to sing "Drinkin's Ower Risky " ( Ricky-do-dum-day ) in my best possible imitation of a Glasgow accent as picked up from a Royal Navy colleague from Larkhall (Glasgow) .It just doesn't sound any good at all ,especially sung with an English , or even Kelvinside, accent , otherwise.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Musket
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 07:45 AM

People with no background?

Some peasants near us with no breeding I suppose... Apparently, they serve Earl Grey after afternoon tea. Uncouth proles.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 07:35 AM

Actually, back in the 1960s, there was a need for songs from your own background, because people with no background were cocking things up out of simple ignorance. That was then, though, and with the growth and rediscovery of local heritage it's less of a problem. Where I live is on the edge of an area where the heritage is has bottomed out and will either recover or die, and so I do have to add something to that, for all that my family's from elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: radio 4 how folk songs should be sung
From: Musket
Date: 26 Nov 14 - 07:17 AM

Not to mention the faux Scottish accent, form a Salford lad.

Although for Clapton's sake, don't get Jim started.


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