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BS: What is folk music?

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Thomas the Rhymer 11 Mar 00 - 02:08 AM
GUEST,THL Fox 11 Mar 00 - 02:31 AM
Malcolm Douglas 11 Mar 00 - 03:59 AM
zander (inactive) 11 Mar 00 - 08:09 AM
Jeri 11 Mar 00 - 08:33 AM
catspaw49 11 Mar 00 - 08:40 AM
Uncle_DaveO 11 Mar 00 - 11:04 AM
Uncle_DaveO 11 Mar 00 - 11:04 AM
tar_heel 11 Mar 00 - 11:24 AM
wysiwyg 11 Mar 00 - 12:42 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 11 Mar 00 - 01:14 PM
Chet W. 11 Mar 00 - 01:22 PM
Malcolm Douglas 11 Mar 00 - 01:26 PM
Jeri 11 Mar 00 - 02:03 PM
GUEST,Rich(stupidbodhranplayerthatdoesn'tknowanybe 11 Mar 00 - 03:19 PM
Art Thieme 11 Mar 00 - 11:09 PM
Billy the Bus 12 Mar 00 - 02:47 AM
Malcolm Douglas 12 Mar 00 - 01:23 PM
Joan 12 Mar 00 - 05:00 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 13 Mar 00 - 12:38 AM
GUEST,Lollipop 13 Mar 00 - 04:30 AM
Bert 13 Mar 00 - 10:23 AM
Amos 13 Mar 00 - 12:16 PM
Bert 13 Mar 00 - 01:37 PM
Uncle_DaveO 13 Mar 00 - 01:40 PM
Jacob B 13 Mar 00 - 02:24 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 13 Mar 00 - 02:40 PM
Art Thieme 13 Mar 00 - 02:46 PM
Amos 13 Mar 00 - 05:54 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 13 Mar 00 - 06:07 PM
Bill in Alabama 13 Mar 00 - 06:27 PM
Mooh 13 Mar 00 - 06:36 PM
catspaw49 13 Mar 00 - 06:48 PM
Amos 13 Mar 00 - 07:21 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 14 Mar 00 - 04:54 AM
kendall 14 Mar 00 - 10:10 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 14 Mar 00 - 10:27 AM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 14 Mar 00 - 11:33 AM
Bert 14 Mar 00 - 12:04 PM
kendall 14 Mar 00 - 01:10 PM
Amos 14 Mar 00 - 02:05 PM
kendall 14 Mar 00 - 02:40 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 14 Mar 00 - 03:11 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 14 Mar 00 - 03:44 PM
Whistle Stop 14 Mar 00 - 04:07 PM
kendall 14 Mar 00 - 04:53 PM
Amos 14 Mar 00 - 04:55 PM
Amos 14 Mar 00 - 05:24 PM
Uncle_DaveO 14 Mar 00 - 08:06 PM
kendall 15 Mar 00 - 08:00 AM
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Subject: What is folk music?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 02:08 AM

I'm looking for an easy definition, a destination of sorts away from the vague uneasiness that sets over conversations when I try to explain,.... and fail. It is such a widely used category that it seems like one could use the term to describe ANY music we play in our homes,....then again, maybe folk music could be music that is never actually played, but only referred to as a long past occurrence that we can only approximate.

If folk music is music that was never intended to be commercial, then we might save some money,...

And if we can write "folk" music, is it a rehashing of songs that SOUND old, or are the forms open to "NEW" expressions,...ie "whatever the market will bear"?

Seriously though, I would love some suggestions!


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: GUEST,THL Fox
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 02:31 AM

One of my favorite definitions comes from the introduction to "English and Scottish Popular Ballads; the Student's Cambridge Edition". George Kittredge writes: "The popular ballads...belong to the folk." He goes on to describe a community celebration, where a group of people is gathered for some common purpose. "The object of the meeting is known to all; the deeds which are to be sung, the dance which is to accompany and illustrate the singing, are likewise familiar to everyone....There is unity of feeling and a common stock, however slender, of ideas and traditions. The dancing and singing, in which all share, are so closely related as to be practically complimentary parts of a single festal act. Here, now, we have the 'folk' of our discussion...a dancing, singing throng subjected as a unit to a mental and emotional stimulus which is not only favorable to the production of poetry, but is almost certain to result in such production."

I find our on-line folk communities, like our real-time ones, to have these things in common: a unity of feeling; a common stock of ideas and traditions; and a desire to create poetry and music when gathered together. That music then becomes available to all who share the creation or who just listen and take it home in their hearts. Want an example? Look at the on-line song/poem creations that happen on these web pages.

We are the "folk" of folk music. And the music that belongs to us, that we share with each other and the rest of the community, that music is folk music.


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 03:59 AM

As I'm sure you know, this is a perennial question which never reaches a really satisfactory conclusion.  Here is the definition formulated by the International Folk Music Council in 1954:

Folk Music is the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission.  The factors that shape that tradition are: (i) continuity which links the present with the past; (ii) variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group; and (iii) selection by the community, which determines the form or forms in which the music survives.
The terms can be applied to music that has been evolved from rudimentary beginnings by a community uninfluenced by popular and art music and it can likewise be applied to music which has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community.
The term does not cover composed popular music that has been taken over ready-made by a community and remains unchanged, for it is the re-fashioning and re-creation of the music that gives it its folk character.


Obviously this is not an absolute definition, but provides a good point from which to start.  The waters have become considerably more muddied since the '50s, not least due to the record industry's decision to promote as folk music pretty much anything that didn't fit into any other of its handy marketing categories; in particular the "singer-songwriter" genre, which rarely has anything at all to do with folk music in any real sense.  Well, somebody else's turn, now; and a wooden spoon to the first person to dredge up that tired old cliché involving horses...

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: zander (inactive)
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 08:09 AM

A quick definition, Music of the people, for the people, not composed or written to make money,ie 'pop' music.

Cheers, Dave


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Jeri
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 08:33 AM

Lookie here for links to previous discussions. I like the definition Malcolm posted. Every time this discussion comes up, people who have studied folk music pretty much agree with that. People who have bought into the record companies' definition argue against the limits. (Why bother having categories if they don't mean anything?) They seem to think that saying songs written by the Beatles, James Taylor or Joni Mitchell are not folk is some sort of insult. Not true.

My opinion:
Folk is (see above definition in Malcolm's post.
Folk singing/oral tradition is singing anything you like. (see above, para. 2 and 3.)


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: catspaw49
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 08:40 AM

The most recent discussion of this is a thread called "What Isn't Folk?" ..... Along with Jeri's link, also enter the word folk in the filter box with a 1 year reset and in the myriad threads with folk in the title, you'll find quite a few others attempting to define folk along with a thread called, "Is Rap Folk?"......

Happy reading

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 11:04 AM

Recently, (last week) I was preparing for a TV interview to publicize the Green Pastures Folk Music Club, here in Central Indiana. In writing a little briefing paper to be given to the TV interviewer in advance I discussed the music we do at the club meetings. I said something like this:
For many thousands of years people have sung and played to, for, and with each other, for various purposes: religious/ritual; work songs; lullabies (or is that just more work songs?); blues; storytelling; dance; and general social time-passing. The good songs were passed around, tweaked a little here, polished a little there, personalized, made relevant to current topics of interest, adjusted to the current singer's instrumental or vocal abilities (or lack thereof). When a singer didn't remember a song he'd heard, he might make a new song on the same story, or tell a new story with "That good old tune that Uncle Jeremiah used to play." The music that resulted, that was passed down, is what we call folk music. At Green Pastures we sing those songs for and with each other, and other songs in the same spirit, just for the joy of making music together.
Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 11:04 AM

Recently, (last week) I was preparing for a TV interview to publicize the Green Pastures Folk Music Club, here in Central Indiana. In writing a little briefing paper to be given to the TV interviewer in advance I discussed the music we do at the club meetings. I said something like this:
For many thousands of years people have sung and played to, for, and with each other, for various purposes: religious/ritual; work songs; lullabies (or is that just more work songs?); blues; storytelling; dance; and general social time-passing. The good songs were passed around, tweaked a little here, polished a little there, personalized, made relevant to current topics of interest, adjusted to the current singer's instrumental or vocal abilities (or lack thereof). When a singer didn't remember a song he'd heard, he might make a new song on the same story, or tell a new story with "That good old tune that Uncle Jeremiah used to play." The music that resulted, that was passed down, is what we call folk music. At Green Pastures we sing those songs for and with each other, and other songs in the same spirit, just for the joy of making music together.
Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: tar_heel
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 11:24 AM

music about folks....nuff said.


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 12:42 PM

IMHO--

Doing what comes naturally, on purpose, to share with people who will do WITH it what comes naturally to them.

By extension, we could say that Mozart wrote folk music too, just from/for a different cultural outlook. For some, what comes natcherly is pretty complex. In the writing, playing, hearing, sharing.

I would guess that the folk music any individual can identify as "folk" tends to be that of our own culture or one to which we are attraced by commonality or by desire for divesity. At least it's like that for me.

Folk = people = my people = The People

As the Native Americans would speak of themselves, not as this tribe or that, but as The People, meaning (I guess) their people.

Look ma, I'm riding Klezmer. See you around the block!


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 01:14 PM

When I get references to "improving" songs, I start to get nervous and fidgity, so it seems like I am unable to totally agree with this notion. We change songs all the time, but I don't feel comfortable with the judgement call that "improvement" entails.

If we take a song and "Update it" to appeal to contemporary ears, It may not be the same song, and if it is still able to do what it once did (a far fetched notion to say the least) it is out of context, and therefore, perhaps, susceptible to fads, trends and fleeting fashions "of the day". This is not such a bad thing, supposedly, unless we insist on the concept of "lasting value" which is beyond the scope of our short lives....

I guess what I'm trying to point out is that what we write now, may, or may not become folk music down the line. And what WAS folk music, still is... though it probably was written without any self consciousness or labeling...

... and "folk music" is about content,... right? ttr


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Chet W.
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 01:22 PM

Good thoughts about a question we never get tired of. I am reminded, though, of a comment made by Thelonius Monk when he said that "...writing about music is like dancing about architecture." Labels and definitions do tend to get in the way of how I personally relate to music or to any other art form. In terms of how it makes me feel, I can't put into words a big difference between "folk" and blues and jazz and country and even classical music. Easy to talk about individual songs or performers, but not categories, if they exist. Not saying it should be that way for everybody.

Veteran of several twelve-step programs regarding music, Chet.


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 01:26 PM

Obviously I'd take issue with Chuck's comment; it's overly simplistic and comes perilously close to the reductio ad absurdam of saying that all music is folk music.  In mentioning Mozart, Praise raises an interesting point.  Composers who themselves belong firmly in the Art Music camp sometimes "borrow" traditional melodies; that doesn't make their work "folk music" in any sense, however.  On the other hand, melodies from art music do from time to time find their way into tradition; an example that comes to mind is Weber's "Huntsman's Chorus".

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Jeri
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 02:03 PM

If folk music simply means music about folks, then all the songs about sheep, horses, dead dogs, trains, the seasons, etc, are not folk music. The category then includes anything not performed by horses. Of course, you could probably train a horse to play a bodhran, so Irish music wouldn't be folk...

If folk music is music by or for people, then all music is folk music, so you don't even need to use the word "folk" - just call it music.

If what Bob Dylan sings is folk music, then what Frank Proffit sang is _____?

Find me something to call songs or tunes passed down the generations in a community by oral tradition. It was called "folk" a few decades ago.

I honestly have been through this discussion many times in many places. One thing I don't really understand is why many people find it necessary to apply the "folk" label to music they just happen to like, and/or find meaningful. Why bother using the word? (Perhaps because "pop," which is what I think a lot of it has, in recent history, come to mean sell-out city?)


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: GUEST,Rich(stupidbodhranplayerthatdoesn'tknowanybe
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 03:19 PM

I agree somewhat with Malcolm (especially the singer-songwriter rarely having to do with folk comment). I like U. Utah Philips remark that "Folk music is not owned by anyone. we own it together like the national forest and the airways. songwriters make grape juice. It can turn into either wine or vinegar. If a people take a song into their lives and use it and change it to suit them and it divests itself of its original name then it becomes afolk song". [] Slan, [] Rich


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 11 Mar 00 - 11:09 PM


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Billy the Bus
Date: 12 Mar 00 - 02:47 AM

Gidday,

Hmmm.....

Don't think I'll read the 91 posts in older threads on the perennial question "What is Folk?". Maybe in there, I guess I could find the only definition that appealed when we had such serious discussion 40 years back.

I'm trying to recall the original author, Seeger? Leadbelly, Lomax, Lloyd? - can't remember - first I heard it was with an American accent...

The definition?

"I guess it's all folk - ain't heard no horse sing yet!"

Let's just put it down to the original "Folk Poet"..;)

ANON.......;^)

Mind you, as I sit listening to Mdcat Radio from a couple of weeks back XXIV, maybe I'm old fashioned - in a fairly remote part of the world, I can dial up a wireless programme from a while back - I guess computers can sing now - maybe horses now sing too...;^)

Whoops - now I'm hearing a complaint from a caller to MCR "That ain't Folk"...;^)

Love what I just heard from the caller

"If you write your programme just on what pleases me, you'll only have one listener" - Hmm... that sums it up for me.

"Folk is what appeals to me, from my own definition of Folk".

Cheers - Sam


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 12 Mar 00 - 01:23 PM

Sam gets the wooden spoon, then.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Joan
Date: 12 Mar 00 - 05:00 PM

I second Art's comment. Joan.


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 12:38 AM

Art is, as always, concise and to the point--


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: GUEST,Lollipop
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 04:30 AM

Rubbish Music


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Bert
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 10:23 AM

I used to think I knew the answer to that question but I know now that I don't know.

But if you listen to Mudcat Radio Wednesday night you can hear some of it.


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Amos
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 12:16 PM

Since the time of Alan Lomax the "oral" tradition -- mandated more by the lives people led than by anything inherent in their music -- has migrated to the written, vinyl, optical and digital traditions which we wrestle with around here all day. In fact a lot of folk music has become commercial, or Folkways Records would have gone out of business long ago, but it was not conceived in a commercial mindset. When people generate music for its own sake, to ease or better their lives, as distinguished from intending it for public performance or sale, you have one of the defining traits of folk music. The musical patterns of that legacy often find their way into popular or commercial products -- just look at what country music has gone through in the last thirty years -- and there has likewise been a lot of bleedthrough from commercial channels into ordinary people's lives. This points up that the conditions which obtained for the first 2500 years of folk music have shifted in a fundamental way, through the advent of a different kind of communication starting with the radio.

Given that those conditions are different than they once were you can end up preferring a definitions which exclude any of that impact -- which will leave you pretty much at the end of the line here in the 21st century -- or you can base your definition on the deeper process, which leads you to include some popular music with traditonal orientation, like Dylan, Donovan, PP&M, Crosby Stills and Nash, and so on.

My sense is that here on the Cat we fall into roughly two camps -- those who focus on a purer but more time-constrained definition, and those who curiously follow the evolution of the voice through the complexities and sometimes overwhelming mazes of the media revolution that started with Mister Marconi's folly. :>)

A


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Bert
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 01:37 PM

'Tiz funny that those of the 'the oral tradition' philosophy seem to be the ones who rely on written collections and deny that 'what people are singing NOW' is really folk.

Bert. (just stirring the pot a bit - tee hee)


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 01:40 PM

Amos, that was a good and thoughtful analysis. Thank you for your thoughts.

I find myself riding both horses, however.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Jacob B
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 02:24 PM

I'm not going to try to answer this perennial question, but I would like to point out that there is a more basic question that should be addressed.

Does the distinction between categories named Folk Music, Art Music, and/or Pop Music make sense to you?

The term Folk Music was originally coined to distinguish between the music of the peasantry, the Folk, and the sophisticated music written by the professional composers employed by the nobility. Just as it was once easy to distinguish between these two groups of people, it was also easy to distinguish between these two types of music.

Use caution when you try to define what the term Folk Music means today. If you're not careful, echoes of that original definition will begin to creep into your definition. That's fine if you find it useful to divide people into Elite and Common People, but not good if you disagree with that point of view.

One other thought: I once heard a noted folklorist speak. (I'm sorry I can't recall his name, but he was the keynote speaker at one of the early Ralph Page Legacy Weekends.) I'll paraphrase him from memory. He said something much like: "The more research I did, the more I found that the 'dancing, singing throng' I had been taught about didn't exist. All the pieces of folk music that I found had been written by distinct individuals, who were highly valued within their communities for their musical ability."

Jacob


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 02:40 PM

It occurs to me that this question too, belongs on the "stupid question thread"--because their isn't enough information in the question--I looked at Thomas the Rhymer's initial post, and he asks part of several other questions as well--

If Thomas would tell us what he is trying to explain, it might help a lot--other than that, there are a lot of good answers here, people--we just need mre questions to go with them--


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 02:46 PM

Bert,

No need to deny anything. We just know what's correct. ;-)

Art (stirring it some more---and going stir crazy)


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Amos
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 05:54 PM

I just had another thought about the changes to "folk music" which have set in since the advent of mass communication, in that the scale and scope of tragedy now has changed dramatically. When all communication was from one mouth to one ear, and even by posted broadsides and the like, a single tragic event -- one woman dying for love, or one jealous husband murdering someone, or one town losing its young men to emigration -- was a major focus, and enough attention was put on it that it acheived scale and stature, and might become immortalized in a ballad.

With the advent of mass communications, wire services, networks, and all, the scale of the communication channel is entirely different -- the murder of five nuns can be lost on the front page or the TV news because of a political flap or the explosion of the Challenger. The story does not linger for weeks or months as it did in the smaller, oral community. As a result poignant and dramatic tales are mere grist for the media mill, and get lost in a way that similar stories in the past often did not, because they were captured however inaccurately in a ballad somewhere.

Obviously the trade-off is that at least we can dig up, with some degree of accuracy, thousands more stories from our electronic morgues than ever made it into song, but the change of scale still says something about the change of the basic conditions which generated so much of our oral legacy.


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 06:07 PM

Here's what William Butler Yeats thought it was.

"Folk-art is indeed the oldest of the aristocracies of thought, and because it refuses what is passing and trivial, the merely clever and pretty, as certainly the vulgar and insincere, and because it has gathered into itself the simplest and most unforgettable thoughts of the generations, it is the soil where all art is rooted."

I agree with him. I underscore the word "generations".

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Bill in Alabama
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 06:27 PM

I'm teaching a graduate class on this subject this evening;thanks, all, for giving me this thread to read before I go (no sarcasm; I'm serious).

Bill


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Mooh
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 06:36 PM

Huh?...All music's folk music, ain't it?...Ain't never heard no catfish sing, eh.


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: catspaw49
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 06:48 PM

Nice quote Frank.

Once again we have a lot of people voicing opinions which they believe to be fact, without regard to the thousands of words that have been written in previous threads and with no judgeable, definable things......simply, "I think folk music is whatever I say it is." Bull. That's not a definition or a classification...its an opinion. And its an opinion unfettered with even moderate respect for not the 91 posts, but more like 91 threads, that have been done here. And if you don't have time to read the words of the Sandy Patons, Art Thiemes, and Frank Hamiltons, go have a beer and shut up.

The record companies call all kinds of crap folk, but is it?

If you want to read an interesting idea on this as far as the ability to actually categorize, try reading Bill D.'s post on a thread called "What Isn't Folk?" CLICK HERE

Sandy once commented that the word has been stolen and he's right. But it would be nice if we could agree on a classification system......Dylan (much as I may enjoy him) ain't folk. The song you wrote yesterday ain't folk. Tom Paxton songs are folk style, but they ain't folk. Check back in a few generations. But these songs may be in a folk or traditional style and the writer's roots may be in folk/trad and all that's great. Now if they stand the test of time, enough people sing them and pass them along, the folk processs, oral tradition (even in some new forms)........maybe then they're folk.

I like folk songs and songs recently written, that are in the style of traditional folk music. Often I like the new ones better, the folkstyle ones. I'll pass them along as will you yours and we see what happens.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Amos
Date: 13 Mar 00 - 07:21 PM

It makes a certain sense to include the "generations" test as a criteria. A necessary one, because it is a sure way to see what the values of human living give survival to. But it is certainly not a sufficient criterion, since it would include church and show music and formal tunes of various kinds. I suspect in addition to the "generations" test a song also needs to pass the "use and intent" test -- a song used for commercial purposes or intended to sell soap doesn't pass no matter how much our grandchildren like the Ipana toothpaste jingle. I am sure there are other factors that figure in to it. Probably, as mentioned in Spaws kind link above, a dozen!

I agree completely that "because I like it" is netiher a necessary OR a sufficient test but an irrelevant one! :>) A


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 04:54 AM

I am overjoyed at the thoughtfullness displayed by all of you! thank you for responding to this recurring question with such renewed vigor!

I'm of the opinion that references made to individual composers show us some of our cultural biases. We are often more concerned with who sang a song, than the song itself. We seem to care more about the personal lives of actors and actresses than the writen role that made them famous. Yet, the reality of folk music is that the song is out distancing the singer/songwriter's persona because it speaks to people all over the spectrum,... ie... not just the "I" of the egoist, or the "them" of the propaganda spinners, or even the "we" of the preachers. The simple fact remains... alot of songs are being written, and only a few of them are really well written (tune, chords, meaning, rhyming, meter, beat etc.... all fit together engagingly)... AND are CAPABLE OF REACHING ACROSS GENERATIONS. My guess is, that this has always been the case. When people 'like' a song because it speaks to them, thats great! when people like a song and try to learn it, thats even better! Best of all is the song all kinds of people sing with.... (because it means well????)

now don't get me wrong, I love to be inspired by great players, absorbing performers, and even melodramatic schlock. entertaining,... all of them! However, the distinction could be made between entertaining, and interesting; or perhaps between the meaningful, and the search for attention. ttr


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: kendall
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 10:10 AM

It's all too complicated, so, to me, if there is an electric guitar, and 'or drums,and the lyrics are sappy, it aint folk


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 10:27 AM

Oh, someone better go catch Kendall before he falls--there are lots of performance traditions that incorporate electric guitars and other instruments, and of course, drums are among the oldest instruments--


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 11:33 AM

Amos, good point about the generations test. The other elements would include adaptation by specific sub-cultures over a period of time. Schubert songs have become folk songs in Germany through change. Show tunes have also. "Old Dan Tucker" is a case in point. As far as popular music, Stephen Foster's "Angelina Baker" became "Angeline the Baker", a mountain fiddle tune. Church music? All the time. "Uncloudy Day" as sung by the Carter Family for example.Or the music of Sacred Harp from which folk songs such as "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" or "On Jordan's Stormy Banks I Stand" are spawned. The generational aspect must be accompanied by the sub-cultural adaptations by specific folk cultures which engender as the folksong scholars say, "song variants".

Rap music is still up for grabs. It hasn't bridged a generation yet although it contains elements found in African-American music such as "Jivin'", "Playing the dozens", chants, street and jump-rope rhymes and blues hollers from earlier times as well as the legacy of the African Griot. Still, it's still a manufactured Hip Hop culture by record industry people and pop wannabees. There are no octengenarian rap singers as far as I know.

The generatinal test is still there but includes these other elements to make it valid, adaptations to different situations by specific sub-cultural groups which span generations and are identifiable as such.

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Bert
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 12:04 PM

Frank, in the late Forties, Billy Cotton was playing something that we would recognize today as Rap. I don't know if modern Rap derived from his stuff or from similar African origins.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: kendall
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 01:10 PM

I should have added IMO. I'm a Taurus, so, although I am not stobborn, I do have firm opinions. Some of them are.. drums belong on cars, along with horns, which also fit well on cows. Electric guitars belong in dumpsters.They can keep company with bodhran players( the ones who dont know enough to back off) and accordions. )pardon me while I barracade my windows) LOL


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Amos
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 02:05 PM

As for sappy lyrics, kendall, I have to say I believe your pink bunnytail is hanging out on that one. Some of the finest true tradition folksongs are as sappy as they come. But when you're in the mood for it, sappy is just the thing. Here are several very sappy songs which I love:

Abide With Me
The Water Is Wide
Lord Randall, My Son
The Colorado Trail
The Red River Valley (bowdlerized version)
The Mountains of Mourne
(shudder)Scarlet Ribbons
Danny Boy
and maybe even...(ducks rapidly)
Kevin Barry

A


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: kendall
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 02:40 PM

now wait just a minute here...I recorded Mountains of Mourne..'course I was just a kid then, and Kevin Barry is a good song. So..lets define sappy. IMO sappy is like, well, shes my baby, dont mean maybe..yuk.or, the ballad of the green berets. I'm going to start a new thread..


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 03:11 PM

Kendall, don't talk like that!!! When a folk luminary such as yourself starts dissing the instruments like that, I start to suffer from my identity crisis again, the one that I though I had licked back in the sixties, when they invented folk rock--


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 03:44 PM

I hate to say what I know to be true, 'cause

opinion is king when it's music you do and it don't matter why when our reasons are few;

we like what we like, it don't matter what's true

...........HOWEVER, it interests me anyway! ttr


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 04:07 PM

Spaw, words are in the public domain; it doesn't really make sense to say that the word folk was "stolen". A word gets picked up, changed around, added to, and subtracted from, and ultimately emerges in another time and place as something that has echoes of earlier versions, but also reflects the changes that time and lots of handling have brought about. Ironically, it's the same thing that we cherish about folk music; somehow, the hidebound traditionalists among us think it's a good thing when applied to songs, but a bad thing when applied to word definitions that they think should remain frozen in time. Forget about ownership; if that's what you're after, you need to invent a new word and get yourself a copyright or trademark. It's too late to do that with "folk". Anyone who hopes to hang onto a static, unchanging definition of that word is bound to be disappointed.


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: kendall
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 04:53 PM

"FOLK ROCK" aaaaggg IMO the electric guitar is not a musical instrument, it is a torture instrument. That thing, combined with the caterwalling that passes for singing these days has driven me out of more stores than I can count. I guess they do have their place...In the goddamn dumpster with the banjos and accordions!! My windows are all barracaded.There's someone at my door..Oh my god..NO..


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Amos
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 04:55 PM

Well, Whistle, maybe "borrowed without agreement from prior owners/users" is a better expression. It's a rough category anyway, and you're right about the transitional nature of the beast.

But 'Spaw and those even more bound in hide in these parts raise a good distinction, I think, between those songs which have been through the fine filter of a generation or two, and those which were sort of injected into circulation by modern mass media. There's an automatic quality of survival in a song that you bother to teach your kids, and many "great" songs from earlier times are long forgotten because they did not meet this standard, even though it seems like a whacky and arbitrary one.

Whether the discrimination is one that suits personal taste or not is another matter, of course, but it is clear that the oral tradition (even if it is playing old 33's to your grandchildren) as a way of passing on a musical mantle certainly does divide sheep from goats, regardless of which you prefer...better stop while I'm ahead, eh?

A


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Amos
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 05:24 PM

kendall, kendall!!! Oh, no...the thought police got him! Dang! I hate it when that happens....


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 14 Mar 00 - 08:06 PM

Kendall, I'm one of the admirers of your singing, and I was with you about the instruments that belonged in dumpsters, etc.---UNTIL you said bad things about the greatest instrument going, the banjo! Now I realize you've taken leave of your good senses! (:->)

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
From: kendall
Date: 15 Mar 00 - 08:00 AM

OK so I got carried away..but, they promised me that I can go home if I take my meds. Look I hate to say this, but, I love a well played (clawhammer) banjo, and, the only instrument I detest for real is the electric guitar.


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