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What is a folk song? Version 2.0

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Abuwood 16 Apr 02 - 03:45 AM
Jon Bartlett 16 Apr 02 - 03:47 AM
Jon Bartlett 16 Apr 02 - 03:52 AM
Stephen L. Rich 16 Apr 02 - 05:13 AM
GUEST,michael batory 16 Apr 02 - 05:20 AM
Scabby Douglas 16 Apr 02 - 05:45 AM
McGrath of Harlow 16 Apr 02 - 06:24 AM
KingBrilliant 16 Apr 02 - 06:30 AM
Hrothgar 16 Apr 02 - 07:03 AM
Nigel Parsons 16 Apr 02 - 07:13 AM
catspaw49 16 Apr 02 - 07:28 AM
greg stephens 16 Apr 02 - 08:25 AM
greg stephens 16 Apr 02 - 08:35 AM
Pete Jennings 16 Apr 02 - 08:58 AM
GUEST,Pete 16 Apr 02 - 09:00 AM
greg stephens 16 Apr 02 - 09:04 AM
Joe in the'pool 16 Apr 02 - 10:12 AM
Abuwood 16 Apr 02 - 11:33 AM
catspaw49 16 Apr 02 - 11:38 AM
RichM 16 Apr 02 - 02:20 PM
SharonA 16 Apr 02 - 02:34 PM
Mary Humphreys 16 Apr 02 - 02:53 PM
GUEST,Peter from Essex 16 Apr 02 - 03:06 PM
GUEST,greg stephens 16 Apr 02 - 03:07 PM
Les from Hull 16 Apr 02 - 03:22 PM
SharonA 16 Apr 02 - 03:24 PM
Pete Jennings 16 Apr 02 - 03:40 PM
greg stephens 16 Apr 02 - 04:21 PM
Abuwood 16 Apr 02 - 04:47 PM
GUEST,greg stephens 16 Apr 02 - 04:50 PM
Harry Basnett 16 Apr 02 - 05:32 PM
Art Thieme 16 Apr 02 - 07:40 PM
Jon Bartlett 16 Apr 02 - 07:56 PM
John Routledge 16 Apr 02 - 08:12 PM
Bill D 16 Apr 02 - 10:05 PM
Bill D 16 Apr 02 - 10:15 PM
Bill D 16 Apr 02 - 10:26 PM
Hrothgar 17 Apr 02 - 04:16 AM
treewind 18 Apr 02 - 05:57 AM
KingBrilliant 18 Apr 02 - 07:35 AM
GUEST,greg stephens 18 Apr 02 - 09:17 AM
Harry Basnett 18 Apr 02 - 10:22 AM
Wolfgang 18 Apr 02 - 11:58 AM
GUEST,greg stephens 18 Apr 02 - 12:09 PM
Mary Humphreys 18 Apr 02 - 12:58 PM
Bert 18 Apr 02 - 03:06 PM
GUEST,Sue Paynter 19 Apr 02 - 09:13 AM
Les Jones 20 Apr 02 - 04:09 AM
John Routledge 20 Apr 02 - 07:14 AM
Ebbie 20 Apr 02 - 10:26 PM
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Subject: What is a folk song?
From: Abuwood
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 03:45 AM

Listening to the thread on singing from books, there is obviously a lot of passion out there about singing.
Can I throw in a thread about material?
What constitutes a folk song?
I am finding it very hard to define, but I know that I feel cheated if I have taken the trouble to find a folk club only to be presented with regurgitated pop songs from my youth. Steve feels the same way about music hall, I don't think it's because he is that old, where as I like the odd music hall song.
So what are your definitions please, how do you choose what to sing? There are so many great song out there.

Search for "What is a folk song" threads


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 03:47 AM

My working definition: 1. Songs (originally and sometimes still) passed on in a traditional (i.e. oral) manner; traditional songs and ballads, shanties, children's songs, rhymes, shouts, catches, squibs; picket line songs 2.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 03:52 AM

Sorry, cut myself off somehow. 2. Songs derived from working occupations and made by working people themselves. This group is mostly peasant or working class but there are occasionally other bits and pieces. The group does NOT include songs made by outsiders however sympathetic they are to the occupation except in exceptional circumstances (such as "Singing the Fishing" songs). 3. Songs made for a political purpose, from Chartists, Wobblies, One-Worlders, etc.

These are guidelines rather than strict rules, but it's what my repertoire consists of. My 2c.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Stephen L. Rich
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 05:13 AM

Let us all make a pact to something messy and embarassing to the first one to quote "Big" Bill Broonzy in this thread.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: GUEST,michael batory
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 05:20 AM

In 1955 the International Folk Music Council published this definition of Folk Music which I think still holds well.

".... Folk Music is music which has been submitted to the process of oral transmission. It is the product of evolution and is dependend upon the circumstances of continuity, variation and selection. The term can therefore be applied to music that has been evolved from rudimenary beginnings by a community that has been uninfluenced by art music; and it can also be applied to music which has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten, living tradition of a community. But the term does not cover song, dance or tune that has been taken-over ready made and remains unchanged. It is the re-fashioning of the music by the community that gives it its folk character...."

Also Scholes in "The Oxford Companion to Music" offers some extremely interesting ideas as to the constitution of Folk Song. He covers these themes: -

Origin and Meaning of the term Nature of Folk Song History of the Folk Music Movement The Words of Folk Songs Composers' use of Folk Tunes Folk Music as the basis of all Music

Another fascinating text is "Essays in the Study of Folk-Songs", published in 1886 by Countesss Martinengo-Cesaresco.

Regards,

Michael Batory michael.batory@bcuc.ac.uk


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 05:45 AM

Please be aware that this is a topic that has been discussed in many different forms on Mudcat. "What is a Folk Song?", "What is Folk Music?", "What is Folk?" etc..

Any minute now, someone will post a list of links to many different threads where this was thrashed out over the years.

I'm sure that you'll still get a lot of contributions to this thread, but don't be surprised if some of them are somewhat terse. Doesn't mean it's not an interesting topic, just that some people have already said all they want to say on it..

Still, it's always interesting to see what people think.

Cheers

Steven


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 06:24 AM

Of course we'll never reach a conclusion. But why should we anyway?


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 06:30 AM

Golden Oldie pop songs are OK - but I don't think they count as folk - and they are sometimes not appropriate at a folk session.
One of the problems is that the non-folkie co-habitants of the pub tend to really like the poppy stuff, and will sing along etc etc. This changes the mood of the evening, and sometimes runs the risk of "dumming down" (sorry - emotive phrase) of the evening as the poppy stuff starts to dominate. Perhaps its because there aren't enough singalong poppy sessions around - so you sometimes end up with an awkward hybrid evening, where the mood lurches from upbeat to downbeat without any real flow.
I used to think that anything anyone wanted to sing was OK in a folkie context - but now I'm not so sure.
Personally I don't mind the old popsongs if they can be blended in somehow & given a "folkie" feel (sorry - ambiguous phrase). What I don't like is the old poppie stuff delivered without any change from its original format - ie just an attempt to reproduce the records.
So - I'm no closer to what IS a folk song - but that's my contribution to what is NOT a folk song.

Kris


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Hrothgar
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 07:03 AM

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more ..........


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 07:13 AM

Hrothgar: I've heard that line before, but can you advise, Where is the Breach? and what beer does it serve?.
Does it have a PEL ?


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: catspaw49
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 07:28 AM

Click Here for some more stuff

Spaw


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: greg stephens
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 08:25 AM

An old topic, but that doesnt mean it shouldnt continually be discussed.It has a remarkable specific relevance in the UK at the moment with the trickle of public arts money reaching folk music being on the increase; various bodies constitute themselves as folk agencies or whatever in order to qualify for funding, so just how these bodies define the music they are funded to promote is a matter of interest. It would not please me, for example, if this money were channelled into the pockets of singer song-writers, by means of paying them to run song-writing workshops with children; I would prefer the major part of the money to be devoted to bringing the traditional culture of their own area to the childrens' attention. Other folkies will take an opposite view, and since the singer-songwriters tend to come more from the classes who are better at the technicalities of setting up appropriately constituted bodies, dealing with regional arts boards and so on, it seems to me likely the balance will tip away from the those traditional aspects of folk culture that make it distinctive, lively, relevant and local. basically, the folk world has got to decide what it means by folk, because if we don't it's going to be decided for us by a handful of arts officers in big cities.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: greg stephens
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 08:35 AM

Suppose I should make my own position clear: I think the International Folk Music Council posted earlier in this thread is pretty good, I don't agree with it totally but it'll do me asa basic position. And could I ask people to use the term "folk music" rather than "folk song"? Ihave spent my life researching and collecting fiddle tunes and I hate to feel left out of discussions!


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 08:58 AM

For me, Alex Campbell summed it up at a gig in the early seventies: introducing Goodnight Irene, he said "People keep telling me this isn't a folk song, but FOLK SING IT!".

Pete


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: GUEST,Pete
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 09:00 AM

Wasn't all music folk music before professional musicians were invented.People made music to help them through the day right from the time when making music meant slapping a hollow log, so,as a suggested definition how about "Music by, for and about ordinary people"


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: greg stephens
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 09:04 AM

yes, but Alex was taking the piss because he knew perfectly well it was a folk song. he was swiping at the rather hardline people around at the time eg McColl. He certainly didnt subscribe to the "all music's folk music" smear out distinctions brigade.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Joe in the'pool
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 10:12 AM

I thought Folk music was quite simply that..music which belonged to nobody. It must have originated somewhere I agree but that does not mean the person/s intended to make money out of it from recordings etc. as the means did not exist. So when are people who write Folk music etc. going to stop carping on about copyrights etc. and allow it to the permiate! naturally throughout their community. Just like the good old Footie songs.

Am I taking through my hat or what!

Joe


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Abuwood
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 11:33 AM

Sorry guys, I will look at the old threads, but it is interesting to hear your views


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: catspaw49
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 11:38 AM

The "old threads" are simply letting others have their say too. What the hell is the difference anyway? This thread is fine, the old ones are fine......just more views for your perusal.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: RichM
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 02:20 PM

..jus' sing da folkin' songs... :)


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: SharonA
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 02:34 PM

Remember, the old threads won't have the views of the new Mudcat members on 'em (unless they post there instead of here)! Greg, your point from your post of 16-Apr-02 - 08:25 AM is well taken. Joe, I would include some copyrighted songs & tunes in the category of "folk music"; my guess is that more folk music would be copyrighted if such an option had existed earlier in history!


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Mary Humphreys
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 02:53 PM

Folk song is what folk club organisers are prepared to let their visitors and guests sing. I vote with my feet when it comes to clubs that let 20 singer-songwriters each get up and regale us with their recently written in the bath version of 'My girlfriend's gone and left me and I feel so bad/want to slit my wrists/get drunk again...etc' Many club organisers see themselves as running a social service for their community - allowing anyone who has something to perform, no matter how dreadful, to get up and bore the captive audience. The audience is usually too polite to catcall or show their disapproval. I think clubs should be rather more selective in what is performed. When I was involved in the running of a sing-around club in Manchester UK we were quite clear on our policy. Otherwise we would have been a place where poems, home-penned songs, blues , jazz and monologues were performed. I think it is about time that other venues , catering for such diverse art forms as listed above were brought into being, to free up the folk clubs for those of us who really want to hear our traditional music.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: GUEST,Peter from Essex
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 03:06 PM

Before you get shot down by the guitarist mafia I must say that in the context of folk clubs I agree 100%. Of course "traditional" singers just sing whatever they damn well like.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 03:07 PM

Interesting that last letter was from Manchester.It was in Manchester about 15 years ago that I really realised what those of us who like traditional folk songs were up against. I went to a folk club (obviously not run by the previous poster) and i was totally amazed, depressed and angry to realise by the end of the evening that not one single song had been performed that wasnt written by a modern identifiable author( most of them present in theroom).I mean ,great, what's wrong with the concept of a songwriters tryout club, but this place billed itself as a folk club. If someone asks you what these folksongs are like they've been hearing about, it woud be kind of nice to say "pop down to the local folk club and you'll hear what they are like".


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 03:22 PM

Hmm, interesting. So where does that leave broadside ballads, many of which have entered the 'folk tradition' and are generally recognised as folk songs, even as 'traditional'. Weren't these songs professionally written?

For my own part I tend to admit to 'doing music' and letting others decide if the songs and tunes are folk or not. Of course it makes it more difficult to describe if people say 'what sort of music do you do?'


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: SharonA
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 03:24 PM

Mary Humphreys and Greg: The problem seems to lie in the distinction between traditional music and other music that many people consider "folk", that has the same flavor as traditional music even though it's been copyrighted or penned by the guy down the street or whatever. Perhaps the answer is to form "traditional music clubs" to distinguish the gatherings from those of the "folk clubs (as they exist today)".


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 03:40 PM

Hi Mary, yes, Pete J is the one and only Jennings from St. Neots. And I couldn't agree more about the mediocre standard some clubs accept as the norm - it's killing Bedford, for example, 3 miles from me and I choose to go the extra 16 to St. Neots or occasionally Hitchin.

But, surely traditional tunes and songs were once newly "home-penned" and somebody wrote them, and it's odds on their early material wasn't great, but they had to start somewhere in order to get better. So, if new material gets stifled, the tradition will stagnate. Moreover, a lot of "acceptable" traditional songs are about girl/boy friends leaving one another and broken hearts and some of them are downright miserable. I should know, I play some of them!

Also, jazz definitely has its own place, but a lot of folk songs could be classified as blues songs, they just don't use an obvious "12 bar" type format. And it's arguable that a lot of out-and-out blues songs started life as folk songs because before radio, etc, there were no other types of songs heard in the locality to need a distinction. They've just evolved along a different path (and not a particularly good one, when you listen to how most bands murder Robert Johnson).

As with most things, surely there's a balance to be achieved, and at the same time we should be wary about drawing arbitrary lines, or we'd have missed out on Jansch, Renbourn, John Martyn, not forgetting Woody and Bob. And me - a couple of songs I've written go down a treat with people, and I bet a lot of 'Catters who play can say the same.

Pete

PS. Look! I've missed Coronation Street now! PPS. And don't tell me that I should be playing at St. Neots cos it's Tuesday - my wife's in hospital and what with working, doing the housework, feeding the cats, and visiting twice a day, I'm knackered! See you at the festival in May if you can make it.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: greg stephens
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 04:21 PM

Please, I've never criticised new songs in folk clubs, and of course each generation has to add to the body of folk music. I've written loads of songs myself.Folk music music is living history,some old some new. I was just saying if the new written songs totally dominate the proceedings, most of the people who've come to hear some old songs drift away. That's a fact, nothing to do with opinions about what is or is not folk. I'm not obsessively traddy, I've made most of my living making new music!


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Abuwood
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 04:47 PM

Dear Sharon I tried a couple of local Traditional Music Clubs, and found lots of 'music wot i just wrote' - how is that traditional? and ions of music to slit your wrists by,not entertaining. I do think clubs should be entertaining and each singer/performer has to contribute to that. The odd pop song can lighten the proceedings, but all of one thing makes it very exclusive and not inclusive which is what it should be. I like to travel and visit clubs out of the area and it is like " a box of chocolates, you never know what you are gonna get" The beauty of having some traditional songs in the proceedings is that it is a base line where every folky attending the club can feel involved.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 04:50 PM

Abuwood, I agree 100%.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Harry Basnett
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 05:32 PM

I hate the singer-guitarists who would dearly love to be booked into a pub playing rock and roll but aren't quite good enough but insist on turning up at folk clubs because they know they'll get a captive audience who are either:- a) too polite to tell them to leave, or b) feeling privileged because some 'musician' from the big wide world has shown an interest in their quaint little club!


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 07:40 PM


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 07:56 PM

Can I widen the question somewhat by asking a question which might appear irrelevant, but IMHO is not: what is an audience?


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: John Routledge
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 08:12 PM

Mary Humphries and Harrry Oldham have highlighted the nub of the Folk Club (UK) problem.

Too many allow singers to sing anything.

Do Blue Grass Clubs and Jazz Clubs for example allow unaccompanied ballads to be sung there ?

People running what they describe as a Folk Club should consider what is performed there otherwise Trading Standards might pay a visit :0)

All the more reason to discuss "What is a folk song"


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 10:05 PM

"...but FOLK SING IT!". " is a common logical mistake..'folk' means different things to various people.

Fallacies of Ambiguity

Equivocation: the same term is used with two different meanings Amphiboly: the structure of a sentence allows two different interpretations

more logical fallicies


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 10:15 PM

I should have added that the point of the above is that 'folk' or 'traditional' needs to have a UNequivocal meaning in order to be used freely. If you have a very loose definition, and I have a narrow one, we will not get far...but so many just want it to be some ambiguous concept that they can mold to fit their needs.

...and so we have 47 old threads .. (I have proposed a 'system' for deciding whether a song is 'folk' several times...it is probably somewhere in that list 'spaw posted)


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 10:26 PM

even better explanation of what I meant

(you probably wont read it or pay attention, but at least I tried..*grin*)


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Hrothgar
Date: 17 Apr 02 - 04:16 AM

Gee, if "folk" has an unequivocal meaning, we'll have to have somebody checking up on everybody calling themselves "folk singers" to make sure they stay within the requirements. Certainly would create jobs, though.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: treewind
Date: 18 Apr 02 - 05:57 AM

Addressing several messages:
Broadside Ballads etc.: yes, of course every folk song was written by someone in the first place. One common attribute of folk songs (hell, you can't define* it) is that they have stood the test of time, so that the song lives beyond the memory of who wrote it. By that criterion, some of the Lennon/McCartney standards have achieved that status. In contrast, my flesh creeps when somebody stands up and introduces a trad ballad with 'This is a Kate Rusby song' (unless it's one of the few she did actually write from scratch). I mean, by all means credit who you learnt the song from, but allow for the possibility that other versions exist, and why not do the research and find a different version or put one together that's your own.

The failed pub-rock singer syndrome: I agree that the "anything goes" attitude of most clubs doesn't encourage high standards. I really don't know what to say or do about that. Folk music is by and large an amateur activity (or is it? it doesn't seem so much so in some countries) and everybody has to start somewhere.

US/UK differences: What is often called 'folk' in the UK is called 'Celtic' in America (even if it's English, and that's another can of worms) when 'folk' means a particular type of singer-songwriter-guitarist style where everybody want to be Woody Guthrie or Bob Dylan or something.

*Definitions: I don't have a problem with not being able to define folk. We all know the difference between night and day, but we don't have to argue about the precise point in time where one becomes the other.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: KingBrilliant
Date: 18 Apr 02 - 07:35 AM

"failed pub-rock singer syndrome" - thankyou Anahata - now I have a name for the beast... :>)
Also - I hadn't really appreciated that US/UK split - that's handy info too.
Cheers

Kris


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 18 Apr 02 - 09:17 AM

I hadn't appreciated till recently that English folksong is defined as Celtic or Irish/Scottish in the USA and also in Germany. It's very confusing, but a very widespread usage as I've found while looking up the words to a some songs recently.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Harry Basnett
Date: 18 Apr 02 - 10:22 AM

Yes.. the U.S. Celtic/folk terminology is very interesting.This could help avoid a lot of confusion in the future.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 18 Apr 02 - 11:58 AM

Greg,

many years ago a record distributor clerk in Germany with a moderate level of knowledge got the task to divide the whole world of folk music into not too many subsets of about equal number of records for easy labeling in all shops.

He came up with the following seven categories: Dubliners, Irish, Scottish, German, Balkan and Southern Europe, Dylan, Carribean and South American.

Since then, only the label 'world music' has been added to cover Africa, Asia and unclear cases. Little shops with few (folk) records are allowed to go down to three different labels: Celtic, German, World Music.

Even if what I have told is an invention the shops do as if it was true. Since then, I have found Barachois (Canada) under 'world', 'Irish', 'Celtic', 'Brittany' Watersons (England) under 'Scottish', 'Irish', 'Celtic', Tom Paxton under 'Dylan', Chieftains under 'Dubliners', Swedish fiddle music under 'Balkan', music from the Hebrides under 'Irish', Christy Moore under 'Pop and Rock',....

Even allowing for truly difficult cases for categorising as Eric Bogle or Peggy Seeger, it's a shame.

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 18 Apr 02 - 12:09 PM

wolfgang,it's perfectly understandable, and quite funny. But the trouble is that people new to the game read this stuff and can believe it. and since this music is so full of history which is a big reason why we all love it (I suppose), it is a bit of a shame if the history gets mangled into rubbish. well I'm off to sing that Kurdish classic Fields of Athenry.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Mary Humphreys
Date: 18 Apr 02 - 12:58 PM

Please tell me - where does Welsh song come in all this categorisation? As a singer of Welsh AND English song am I Celtic ? The English would say so. But the Welsh wouldn't admit to the English being Celtic. I find the whole thing very quaint indeed! Keep the debate going.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Bert
Date: 18 Apr 02 - 03:06 PM

Mary, a good chunk of the English working class population is of Celtic origin. Take a look at how many of them have brown hair and blue or grey eyes.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: GUEST,Sue Paynter
Date: 19 Apr 02 - 09:13 AM

Personally I like both and have been singing both since the 70's. To be honest I believe that every song should be judged on its own merit, there are good Folk Songs and Bad Folk songs with nonsense lyrics as there are good and bad contemporary songs with terrible lyrics (but obviously this is very subjective). Personally I hate the blinkered approach of some Folkies who on occasions find it their duty to pontificate about what a Folk song is. What we must remember is that Traditions, habits and people change and so do lyrics and sentiments of songs which evolve to match the mood of the era. Some (not all) pop songs of today will survive into being Folk songs of tomorrow and take their place along side the old songs, some may like them, some may not but hey wouldn't it be boring if we were all the same (or is that what some folkies want?) We shouldn't allow someone elses musical tastes or definitions to stop us from hearing or singing any song that we like. I have been to clubs where I have included in my set both Traditional and Contemporary songs and felt unwelcome for doing so (not imagined, comments were made directly to me) and I will never go there again. That is not a good game plan for preserving the love and pleasure of singing the old songs, clubs should be making people welcome whatever their musical taste, encouraging them to sing what is in their heart, only then will the old songs be passed on to people who started off being ignorant of our musical heritage. I heard someone say once that a commercial song could never be a Folk song, so tell me then what about Scarborough Fair that Simon & Garfunkel nicked are we never going to sing that one again? Are you trying to tell me that in a Folk Club we shouldn't sing a Paul Brady song such as the brilliant 'The Island' because it has been released commercially by other artists. If one of Vin Garbutt's songs was released by OASIS would we stop singing it? No, I don't think so! So it's OK for a Folk song to cross the barrier in to POP but not the other way about? The crux of the matter is some Folkies have become blinkered and self righteous, seeing only the old Traditional songs as acceptable in a Folk Club environment and that is a real shame because we are missing the opportunity of encouraging new blood. The next time you need to know what the definition of a Folk song is, try looking in the Oxford English Dictionary. Folk Music - Traditional music or Modern Music in this style. Folk Song - Song of POPULAR or Traditional origin or style.

Sorry to go on but I feel it is time for someone to speak out for the Folks who can and do enjoy both but are actually being deprived of hearing both. Tradition can and must be kept alive but lets be clever about it and spread the word by throwing off thoses blinkers.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Les Jones
Date: 20 Apr 02 - 04:09 AM

How about a formula for the authenticity of folk songs?

Au = An x Ag x Or x Nv

In which

Au = authenticity

An = anonymity

Ag = age

Or = oral transmission

Nv = number of versions

Any takers?


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: John Routledge
Date: 20 Apr 02 - 07:14 AM

Sue - I agree with your proposition generally.

If however in a club if the percentage of songs which I enjoy keeps falling week by week from 75% to 10% then I must vote with my feet.

When others do the same the whole character of the club changes.

This is why every club must have a policy on what material is appropriate generally. Any singer new to the club will experience the atmosphere created by the club's policy and if they don't like it they are free to find somewhere that is more suitable to them.Or indeed start their own club!!

Happy singing.


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Subject: RE: What is a folk song?
From: Ebbie
Date: 20 Apr 02 - 10:26 PM

I just realized that on a superficial level I equate 'folk' with 'acoustic'. For instance, while I was urging someone to attend a concert that Buddy Tabor was putting on, the friend said, 'What kind of music is it?' I said, 'Well, you know... folky,' even though Buddy does mostly original songs. And we both knew what we meant.

There is no way that I would have said that if there were electric instruments or even drums involved in the concert. Even though drums, I imagine, may easily be considered folk.

In the Alaska Folk Festival, more than just "folk" is performed- but they do have a rule against drum sets on stage (bongos and hand-held drums are permitted) and no one brings on electric instruments.

They do have an occasional rock band take its turn in playing an hour-long dance; there are 4 dances per evening. The dance bands range from contra to rock to klezmer to cajun to- you get the idea.

As to folk versus non-folk labeling, it seems to me that we need one more designation. 'Traditional' doesn't really fill the need. In some countries, opera is traditional, maybe even folk.

Ebbie


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