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Who Defines 'Folk'????

Related threads:
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catspaw49 28 Mar 03 - 02:46 PM
MMario 28 Mar 03 - 02:51 PM
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Subject: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: catspaw49
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 02:46 PM

No, I don't want to get into everyone's definition exactly, but take a moment and read this before you post. We have had similar threads in a way, but this is still a bit different and interesting.

Last night I was watching "Jazz at Lincoln Center" and they were talking about their "Essential Ellington" project. Click Here for Info. Take a minute and read about it.........Okay.....It's a pretty neat project getting jazz into schools......Beethoven, Mozart, and Ellington. The idea being that kids are least introduced to jazz and can put the jazz greats up there with the likes of Mozart.

They picked Duke Ellington as defining jazz in the 20th century and of course I immediately started thinnking that somebody else might have been better. But what they are doing is taking one great who covers it best and all, and setting up a competition around his music. Under that situation and after a good deal of thought I began to realize that the Duke was an inspired choice!

So let's say this same kind of thing is done with Folk Music.....and it ain't a bad idea.....Who defines Folk based on the same criterion as Ellington defining Jazz?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: MMario
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 02:51 PM

I think it would depend a great deal on how you define "folk". For some it has to be traditional - for others it has to be a protest song - for still others it needs to be a particular TYPE of protest song (anti-war; anti-establishment)

and for others it has to be in a certain STYLE - no matter the content.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: catspaw49
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 02:58 PM

And THAT Mario was exactly my problem when I began thinking about it regarding jazz. How about the MJQ or Satchmo or Preservation Hall style? Can you relate Bix to Bird? Lots of styles and evolutions there too. And I began to see why Ellington wasn't so bad an idea for their project!

So again, lots of styles and traditions...........Who defines Folk the way Elligton defines Jazz?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: alanabit
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 03:28 PM

We may get different ideas from the US and Brits. (This is not an unusual phenomenon). Probably most Brits would see Martin Carthy as a pivotal figure - maybe Ewan McColl would be there too. When I think of someone who embodies US folk music, I always think of Pete Seeger or Woody Guthrie. I will admit to bias though. Guthrie was essentially a busker - probably a prodigiously talented one - and that sums up the spirit of folk music to me. It is universal, travels well and can be performed simply in any community. No doubt plenty of Catters can improve on this rash assertion!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Ed.
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 03:36 PM

I don't know why, but as humans we seem to have a need to categorise things.

It doesn't matter if the categorisation works or not, we seem to be drawn to do it.

There is no answer to: who defines Folk the way Ellington defines Jazz?

The only thing that I've learned from the endless "What is Folk?" threads is that it differs very much depending on your cultural background.

As such, the answer to your question will be 'it depends'

For what it's worth, I'd say Martin Carthy.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Frankham
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 03:37 PM

Spaw,

It's a slippery slope. Ellington was a composer and a bandleader. To say he defines jazz in the 20th century doesn't quite make it because you have to ignore Louis (very important in the evolution of jazz either in combos or in big bands) and Bird and Monk who defined be-bop. This is Wynton's bias which may get him some grant money. Duke certainly contributed to 20th Century music in general but to say he defines jazz is not right. It would be more appropriate to call him a leading 20th Century composer.

To try to define folk in this way really creates a can of worms if you are trying to reach a large audience. It would have more problems than the Ken Burns "Jazz" flick had with all the musicians who didn't like it because it missed so much contemporary.

Try to do with with "folk" and you'll have all kinds of folks breathing down your neck. About ten years ago, the U.S. Senate had a bill before them to make Square Dance the national dance of the US. The Folk Arts Division of the Lib. of Congress thought this was a bad idea and finally I think it was tossed out.
You run into the same problems here. The last ten years or so, musicians in the folk field have resisted narrowing the definition that the academicians and folklorists had created and I think that this might be a good thing. It's confusing on one hand because when you ask the unitiated what they think is "folk" you'll get some surprising answers, many conflicting.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Ed.
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 03:38 PM

alanabit,

You type faster that me! I think that we're pretty much saying the same thing, though.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Wesley S
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 03:45 PM

Pete Seeger comes to mind - an all-round musician, well versed in all styles, works well solo or in a group. He's the first one that pops into my mind. What do you think ?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Ed.
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 03:50 PM

Wesley,

If you're from the USA, it's probably a good choice.

If you're from England, Martin Carthy would make sense.

If you're from somewhere else, it would doubtlessly be different.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 03:54 PM

Perhaps "defines" in this context should be looked at less in a musical sense and more in a "culturally iconic" sense? I" suspect it's inevitable that it will be geography/culture-specific, i.e. the same name won't work in the US as works in the UK or Ireland. For that matter the same name probably won't work in England as in Scotland or Wales or Ulster. In this "iconic" sense (and for the US contingent) I'd have to nominate Pete Seeger, less because his music is so definitive, but because for so many people he himself is definitive of the "spirit" of what so many of us think of as "folk" - tradition-based, mostly acoustic stuff not sung by a 'orse.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: catspaw49
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:03 PM

I agree with you Frank. Both of us were around during the Ken Burns Jazz debate here and long as it was, it had big problems (like 10 seconds on Ben Webster). And I also agree that Ellington doesn't "define" jazz and Marsalis probably did have some personal/grant motives.....that's not a rap on him as a musician because he certainly is one helluva' musician. But to get that money from Lincoln and the government, it took something like they did there. A competition based around someone. I might have chosen something instead of one person myself.

But as I thought about it, Ellington, while not everyone's choice perhaps, does encompass an awful lot of Jazz. The idea behind the project was to get kids into something else in the schools and it seems to be working for them.

So if someone came to you (Frank or anyone else) with the money to do this same thing with Folk........Who might it be? Yeah, I know....We'd all suggest a different approach.......But the only way you get the dough is to do it.........Okay, I'm just trying to be demanding here(:<))

And thinking of you Frank.....Ya' know I might well pick "The Weavers" for something like this. Lots of music from a variety of folk traditions, etc. Maybe they don't exactly "define" Folk anymore than Ellinton defines jazz, but under the same criteria and for a similar project, I don't think they'd be a bad choice at all.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: InOBU
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:07 PM

Me.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: InOBU
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:10 PM

PS and if you have any doupt, you can PM me to order any of the two Sorcha Dorcha CDs, and pre order #3... on the way
Cheers
and
Booooooyyyyyininining
(the sound of the plugomatic going off...)
Larry


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:13 PM

Both the Weavers and Pete Seegar took from all sources, and added to that songs about current conditions in America. Either one would be a good basis to build on.

I don't think either Seegar or the Weavers gave a rat's ass about the definition of folk, which is to the good.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,amergin
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:16 PM

roflmao, lor...youre a number...lol

i would say definately pete seeger and woody guthrie...those two alone have greatly influenced american folk music...and music elsewhere in the world...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:26 PM

Catspaw - I thought the answer would be obvious --
The Dixie Chicks ! They're in demand by the North Carolina Legislature already ! :)

Actually, I don't think you'll ever get agreement, although the suggestion of the Weavers had some pretty valid arguments.

What struck me as I read the referenced blurb was that it would just be nice to have folk taught in high schools, like jazz band is now, let alone having a national competition!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:31 PM

Jazz is essentially a local American music; folk on the other hand is a collection of local musics from all over the world, so it's just impossible to have an analogous defining individual.

For America Pete Seeger seems a good choice, because he links in to so many other things over such a large chunk of the century, including the Weavers course, but also including Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Steel Band music...

For England very likely Martin Carthy, or better the whole family. For Ireland it's hard, but perhaps Christy Moore, though it really should be Sean O Riada.

And so on and so forth.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Little Robyn
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:34 PM

For America - Pete Seeger
For England - Martin Carthy
For New Zealand - probably Phil Garland
For Australia - does Eric Bogle count?
For Canada - Stan Rogers
Where else, who else?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 04:58 PM

Spaw, this is a hairy one. Ought to lead to some pretty interesting discussions, though. The expression, "putting the cat among the pigeons" comes to mind.

I tend to agree with Frank, but lemme think about this. . . .

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 05:04 PM

Bugger off INOBU, you IRISH-ROMA-NATIVE-GAWD KNOWS WHAT ELSE troublemaker!

I do.

And I really mean that.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 05:07 PM

Aw come on INOBU and Rick.

One was of looking at it says the truth of the matter is that we all do.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jenny Islander
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 05:29 PM

I was thinking about what my American Lit teacher said about Ernest Hemingway. He argued that Hemingway had such a powerful effect that anybody who writes short stories or novels in English either tries to write like him (possbily badly) or tries not to write like him (ditto) _even if they have hardly heard of him and never read his work._ In the fantasy genre, J.R.R. Tolkien has the same legacy. I gather that Bukowski did the same in free verse from some people's point of view. So is there somebody, possibly fallen into obscurity, who has influenced all or most modern English folksingers to that extent?

J.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 05:34 PM

jenny....his name is bob dylan....


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: lamarca
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 05:39 PM

Interesting question, Spaw. I think of Jazz as easier somehow, because it's so very much more recent than "Folk". Sure, I know that jazz has its origins back in traditional music styles, but what most people think of as "Jazz" is a 20th century musical form that went through an incredible flowering and evolution in a relatively short period of time. Ellington is a reasonable choice (but not the only one) because his influence extends through much of this time period.

But how would you pick a single individual for Folk and Traditional music in even one country, given that the types of music that people consider "Folk" have been evolving for centuries? In the US, you'd be comparing apples and oranges if you try to decide on one person to represent all of these sub-categories of American "folk" (listing just a few off the top of my head...):
Anglo-American traditional song
African American blues and field hollers
Southern string band music
New England and Southern shape-note and gospel
Western ballads and cowboy songs
Ethnic musics from American immigrant communities, from Scots-Irish to tambouritza to salsa to polka to - well, you get the idea...
Work-life related songs of miners, lumbermen, sailors, etc
Community-based dance and social music like Zydeco, Conjunto, contradance, R&B, banghra, etc
Topical & political songs and broadsides (which have been around since English settlers first came to America and wanted to gripe about things...)
Commercial/traditional forms like bluegrass, Western swing, folk-pop Kingston Trio style, etc
and the dreaded Singer-songwriter Omphaloskeptics...

And, yes, I know that "Jazz" encompasses such divergent forms as Dixieland and Coltrane, but as a geneticist, I can tell you that pedigrees are a heck of a lot easier to trace over a small number of generations than over a long period of time, and that evolution of musical forms is similar to that of creatures, with new hybrids rising from cross-fertilization between different gene pools (except in Kansas, where God created all the types of music we see today on Saturday afternoon...)


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: greg stephens
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 06:00 PM

OK Duke Ellington or Louis Armstrong can obviously be called central figures of jazz, so can Charlie Parker or whoever. They made and defined the genre.
You can hardly call Pete Seeger or Martin Carthy or Vaughan Williams or Sean O Riada or whoever defining figures of folk, they took the material, worked with it, made new things out of it, but they weren't OF it. They heard it, fell in love with it, and lived with it. . Wonderful musicians, but they didn't MAKE it. It was there, made by someone else. Not by people you could put individdual names to. Just made by an innumerable number of people working together.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Frankham
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 07:02 PM

I wonder if we are talking about innovation or popular practitioners?
I would have to put Doc Watson in the category of a definitive folk singer as much as I would Pete. Has bluegrass left the folk music category or is it as Alan Lomax said, "folk music with overdrive"? Then Bill Monroe or Earl Scruggs pops up. What about Jean Ritchie?
(Talking American folk music here.) The Kingston Trio had far reaching influence on the "folk scare". What about Burl Ives? Wouldn't he be influential? A case could be made for Woody, Leadbelly and even Josh White, who brought blues to the supper club.

Is Pete Seeger truly representive? He plays ninths and thirteenth chords in Appalachian music. Mike doesn't. He plays southern music like a northerner. Nothing wrong with that but what does that define?
Regional music? He also plays a unique sophisticated style of 5 string banjo which he innovated. No traditional player from the south plays like that. See the problems that this all engenders?

What about African-American folk music? More of the same.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 08:41 PM

As much as me knees begin to wobble at the thought of addressing a post to Frank Hamilton, I'd have to restate what I meant to say above, that the issue (in my opinion, of course) has less to do with musical technology than with cultural recognition - what the media would term "Name value." If you proposed to the American populace at large the notion that "Folk music is what Pete Seeger does, right?" you'd get a lot more nods than with any other name. Not to say his music was folkier than anyone else's (by any definition of "what is folk" which is sliiperier than an oiled eel anyway) just in terms of "dictionary reference." If you look up "American Folk Singer" in the cultural dictionary of the American Mind, you'll probably see a picture of Pete Seeger. Right or wrong, that's where the perception is.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: InOBU
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 09:20 PM

Hi RIck... I'd agree with you, but for the times when I was a kid, and was hanging out in Washington Square park, drinking root beer. there was this raggidy assed guy with funny hair singing Lady of Spain I Adore You... and I said, Bob, ya wonk... ya gotta get some orgional stuff, that lady of spain shite is just blowing in the wind, sing in plain d ballads... ballads in plain d, look, just let me follow you down to see Pete singing with the weavers, I gotta tell him to stop holding up those guys and get off on his own... and damn Bob, your voice really sucks, If I sounded like you, I'd sing through my god damn nose!
Cheers
Larry


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Cluin
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 09:27 PM

Elwood J. Plunkerton
42-A Hacking Cough Crescent
Blowhole, New Brunswick


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 10:29 PM

Oxymoronic definitions can't pidgeonhole the people
And reigious folk can worship not the church house nor the steeple
Folk music lives in all of us, ethnicities abounding
No star defines the sky at night or eternities resounding

So many manies raise the torch, and sing the homegrown passions
With heartfelt honor given to the multitudes; not fashions
So here and clear I now shall say in rooms with raising glasses
Everyone and no one can define the muse of masses.
ttr


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Mr Happy
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 10:43 PM

all the 'names' quoted above are individuals who're also recording artists.

my gut feeling about 'folk' is that its not necessarily to do with 'folk icons' who've had 'big hit' 'folk' records.

when cecil sharp et al were going about 'collecting' vestiges of 'traditional' songs & music in britain, america & all over the place, there weren't really any 'folk icons'- just ordinary joe in the street, in the country, on the farm etc, who may well have liked to sing/perform their 'traditional' popsongs of the day.

as well as attending 'folk' do's, i also sometimes go to just ordinary sinarounds round the piano/organ in pubs.

the kinds of sogs joe pubic likes are the ones EVERYBODY knows- not just the inner circle of exclusive 'folkies'.

increasingly- these populist renditions are forming a big part of the repertoire performed in Mr Happy's weekly do & its very evident by the increasing numbers of participants & audience that in reality- these are the true folk songs, cos there the ones everybody can join in with & enjoy.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 10:50 PM

That's very funny Larry (INOBU)!

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Art Thieme
Date: 28 Mar 03 - 11:03 PM

***********************BIG SMILE***********************

from as far away from this thread as I can stand !!!!!!!!!!!!

Art


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Chanteyranger
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 01:42 AM

There are two ways of answering this question running through my head (it doesn't take long to get from one side of it to the other). On the one hand, I think the truest answer is that no one person defines folk, as by definition it covers so many nationalities, ethnicities, genres and styles, that the essence of folk music makes it an impossible question to answer, as others (like McGrath of Harlow) have pointed out. That in itself is a celebration of folk music.

The other route I take is that of looking at performers, taking all the above points into account. Is there one performer who, in the folk-listening public mind, has been the strongest influence on the most people. Has Woody Guthrie's influence on U.S. folk music been stronger than Martin Carthy's influence on British folk music? Etc.

Given all that, my vote goes to the growing movement for Elwood J. Plunkerton.

Chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Frankham
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 10:02 AM

Hi Buck,

I'd love to be able to agree with you because Pete is an old friend, a dear man, a great performer, and one ot the most important popularizers of American folk music. A genuine person who I can honestly say is as fine a human being as he is a performing artist and that's saying quite a bit I think.

There are people who have never heard of him. They think the Kingston Trio is folk music.

Of course there are people who have never heard of Duke Ellington, I suppose.

There are many countless representatives of American traditional folk music in the South who haven't heard of him either. But lately, Pete has gotten more press. But there are young rockers who know of Lightning Hopkins, Muddy Waters and early blues players who don't know of Pete. And does Pete represent them? Is that not a form of folk music? What about old time ballad singing Appalachian style? Pete approximates that but doesn't really do it in the way someone like Almeda Riddle or Texas Gladden did.

It gets complicated but you're certainly right about Pete's influence in the "folk music revival" of the "Sixties" and on. But a true representative of the tradition? That's a tough one.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 10:12 AM

OK, Spaw, for you I'll go along with the gag although all the reservations voiced in this thread are valid.

I'll go with Doc Watson.

More clearly a member of a living tradition than Seeger. Way better musician and singer. Multi-faceted. Has certainly attained icon status. Appeals to all sorts of musicians from folkies to hard core old time to bluegrass.

Russ


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 10:21 AM

Just thought of another possiblity, Mike Seeger.

Probably he is not as widely known as Doc Watson. Definitely an icon/deity/legend. Awesome talent. When it comes to American traditional music he does it all and he's great at it.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 10:50 AM

(:<)) Thanks Russ....and everyone else....for "going along." I knew this was an impossibility of course, but I also saw it as maybe bringing out some interesting thoughts and discussion....and it has.

Lamarca!!! In all of the hundred plus threads that we have had addressing "what is folk," I think I have finally now seen the most concise, clearly stated, reason as to why we cannot ever be in total agreement. I don't think you said anything new exactly, but I also don't recall it ever being so thoroughly stated in so very few words. I think I will bookmark this thread so I can comeback and steal your post occasionally!!!

Thanks folks.......I'm glad we can still pour over a worn out subject with such thoughtful responses and humor.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 10:51 AM

The question is irrelevant. Just as Duke Ellington, one of the greatest figures in the history of jazz, could not be the "definition" of jazz, there is no person who can be the "definition" of folk.

According to McGrath of Harlow, "Jazz is essentially a local American music." That statement is silly and incorrect. The jazz that Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli were playing in Paris, more than seventy years ago, is not the same local music that King Oliver and the young Louis Armstrong were playing in New Orleans. Nor is the jazz that Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were playing on 52nd Street in New York the same local music that Count Basie and Jay McShann were playing in Kansas City.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,returnee
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 11:05 AM

Surely "folk" music is anything (relatively) non-commercial?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: JennyO
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 11:43 AM

There are so many different styles of music that I would consider folk that it would be impossible to define, as some have already said.

I guess I think of it as music of the people, and if it tells a story, and celebrates the things that make human beings special in a way that I relate to, I would think of it as folk. So where do I draw the line between folk and some country music? It's hard to tell, but I think it has to do with the subject matter. A friend of mine describes some of the music he says is not folk as "oo--ee, reach out and touch me baby kind of music".

All I know is that the music I listened to tonight at a local folk club was definitely folk. That was what I was feeling as I listened to James Fagan and Nancy Kerr singing "Joe Hill" and John Warner's song "Anderson's Coast", as the author sat and listened, and I tried to imagine what a great feeling it must be to hear one's own song being sung. That was a brilliant night, and this might sound silly, but I could feel love in the room.

Jenny


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Don Firth
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 02:36 PM

Okay, I've been thinkin'. But I still haven't been able to come up with who I would regard as the quintessential folk singer—the folk singer who would truly represent what folk music is all about. But to flex my mental muscles with an exercise to warm myself up to the task, I decided to try something which is, perhaps, simpler.

Although I am relatively svelte, I love to eat. So I've been thinking about food. What, I asked myself, would be the quintessential meal? That which truly represents the ultimate food, representative of all food.

There is hardly a meal more representative of American cuisine than roast beef, mashed potatoes, and canned peas, followed by apple pie with ice cream for dessert. But then, being a Pacific Northwester, I am especially fond of that ultimate in our regional cuisine, salmon broiled over an alder fire. But I'm also very fond of New England clam chowder. Roast turkey? Actually, I think my favorite part of the turkey is the sandwich. If Benjamin Franklin had had his way, the national bird would have been the wild turkey. I've never had pemmican. Nor blubber. When I was in Kansas a few years ago, one morning in a restaurant, while having a breakfast of scrambled eggs and hash browns, I saw a man eating something I didn't recognize. I asked. It was biscuits and gravy. Chili; I love it! Or good ol' Texas barbecue. Chitlin's? Never had 'em, but I did have a serving of grits once. Jambalaya, crawfish pie, and filé gumbo? Boston baked beans and brown bread, maybe. Tacos? Coney Island red hots? How about a Big Mac with fries and a Coke?

No, no, no! I'm being far too parochial here! How about bubble and squeak? Fish and chips? The celebratory haggis. The Irish potato (actually one of about forty tubers originally from South America) was inextricably linked with Irish history in the mid-nineteenth century. Speaking of potatoes, just across the North Sea is lutefisk with boiled potatoes. Pickled herring. Go through the Chunnel and you could treat yourself to, say, escargot. Paella. Borscht. Vienna sausage actually in Vienna. Melitzanes Papoutsakia. Kazan dibi. Khatta meetha paneer. Satay. How about lox and bagels?

Nope. Can't do it. One food which represents the essence of all foods? Considering just the issue of the immense variety, not even getting into matters of subjectivity, I have doubts that one could come up with one that would be truly representative of all. Certainly not one that would meet with universal agreement.

Now—back to something really tough: the ultimate, representative folk singer. . . .

Well, now . . . uh . . . lemme see. . . .

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 02:58 PM

LMAO......Beautiful Don!!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 08:20 PM

Frankham - all excellent points, and indisputable; but all equally applicable to anyone we could name. Though I'd be tempted to wager (maybe 2 bucks) that anyone who's heard of the KT has also heard of Pete Seeger. But your point is well taken and agreed. Once again though, my argument is not so much that he is a "representative" of the tradition as "iconic" - which obviously is culture-specific. Eminem's fans, no doubt, would have trouble responding with more than "duh?" to any of the names we might propose.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Frankham
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 08:54 PM

Buck, you're probably right about Pete being known by fans of the KT.
I wonder if that guy who found Pete's banjo on the roadside knew of the KT since he claims he didn't know Pete. (Probably did).

Anyhow, I guess the point is to have a figurehead that is identifiable so that an educative process like that of Wynton Marsalis with young people can take place. Wynton himself is a spokesperson for jazz although not Louis or Bird although a great musician. He can educate about Ellington admirably.

The process of folk music though it seems to me is so inextricably bound with culture-based music and has a generational lineage. In American music, we have such a mixture of styles that it seems daunting to find a single person that represents the entire spectrum of American folk music but Pete is certainly one of the great performers of the 20th Century in my view. He was a one-man publicity campaign for Woody, Leadbelly, Sonny Terry and Dylan (he admired him when no one else did) that you'd have to say that Pete is a kind of spokesperson and ambassador for American folk music. If it were twenty years ago or so, Pete would have been the ideal person to be a Wynton Marsalis figure but the government had reservations about giving him his due (funding) because of his time under the McCarthy era. He has left a legacy of many recordings of folk songs that people wouldn't have heard if not for him. This is true of the KT as well as almost everyone I know of that came up through the Revival. Someday, Pete will be vindicated. "America's tuning fork".

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 29 Mar 03 - 09:26 PM

Perfectly put. And besides, who else could "sing a song twice at the same time" so well?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Gurney
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 05:02 AM

Everyone will have their own idea, and for me...

If you want an definitive folkie in the English speaking world, it would have to be someone from Ireland, the land where there was no revival, because it never went away. Everyone else is a revivalist or a presumptive pop-singer who sings in folk-clubs.

I know this opinion won't be popular. I'm not Irish, either.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Sliding Down The Bannister At My Auntie's House
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 05:48 AM

Who defines folk? Usually the people who compile dictionaries!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Eliza C
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 12:26 PM

Gurney,
It isn't strictly true to say that the Irish did not have a revival at all. the music certainly was not as popular or widespread,especially among the young, in the 1950s as it is now,as young Irish people got their fill of rock'n'roll just the same as everyone else did. And like now, there were not too many places to play commercially in Ireland,so most Irish musicians travelled to the folk clubs of England to get work if they did play for a living, which fulelled the revival on both sides of the water as traditional musicians realised they may be able to earn a living from music.
There is a case for saying that Irish music and culture had another revival after the Riverdance phenomenon,even if the Irish themselves were gacking on their cereal along with all music lovers anywhere...
cheers,
x e


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: paulo
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 12:39 PM

The problem with following this thread is the original question.   This states that Ellington has already been defined, by someone, as the voices of jazz!

If you accept this choice, or not, it seems to me that the basis of the choice was that Ellington was a) a well known name assosciated with jazz and b) someone who played traditional stuff and self pened stuff.

On that basis my choices would be:
USA - Pete Seegar
Eng - Ewan McColl
Ire - Christy Moore
Sct - Archie Fisher
Wales - hasn't got one

Paulo


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 02:02 PM

Eliza C mentioned the popularity of River dance-Lord of the Dance- made me re-think my choice of Seegar. I can think of no sole representative or iconic figure. Maybe that is part of "folk."

Folk music has never been generally popular in the States and Canada. Even in the 19th century, composers like Foster and the minstrel lyricists were the rage. In my generation, only the Kingston trio and Harry Belafonte and his banana song made much of an impression on the charts (OK, the latter isn't folk, but most people think it is).

McCarthyism was vile, but even now, many years later, mention Guthrie and Seegar and from older people you get a questioning look and perhaps the question, "Weren't they communists?" Dylan, didn't he have something to do with hippies and flower people?
Burl Ives had a couple of hits, one a remake of an old minstrel piece, but the general public little noted the rest of his work.

Also noticed that Black folk music got little support here. The Negro spiritual perhaps had the greatest influence of any folk music on the public as a whole.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Deckman
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 07:01 PM

Hey Don ... have you ever thought about doing some serious writing? By the way, how's the book comming? CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Little Hawk
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 07:11 PM

Okay, ya flippin losers...(to quote BDiBR)...enough of this!

Who defines "Folk"?

I do. That's all you need to know.

Oh. And William Shatner does too. What Shatner doesn't know about Folk is definitely not worth knowing.

End of story.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,tossiguest
Date: 30 Mar 03 - 09:15 PM

Like discovering another America to find this site!
Now, who is "ttr" who wrote and rhymed the query eruditely?
Suspect I'll skip work, instead I'll ponder all the comments nightly.

Ok, so it doesn't scan, but I confess to have started the "waulking and weaving" thread in curiosity over background connection to
a 17th C round "Derry Ding Ding Dason" Anyone have further information?

And are you the Frank Hamilton I remember from folk days in the 60s?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Little Aussie Bleeder
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 09:42 AM

I think Musical Poets
Les


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: greg stephens
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 09:53 AM

Gurney(sorry for thread creep): Ireland had a huge and influential folk revival. Have a think what Irish music sounds like nowadays, and then listen to some Sean O Riada, Dubliners, Chieftains and Planxty. After that listen to some pre-1950 traditional Irish recordings. You will instantly see the huge influence of the revival musicians(and their colleagues) that I listed: the music today has been completely revolutionised by the 50's/60's revival.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: IanC
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 10:13 AM

Isn't the really important point that, whereas somebody else, like Duke Ellington or whoever, can be a model other styles of music it's me who defines folk.

;-)


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Celtaddict
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 10:21 AM

Rick is right.
Who defines folk?
I do. When I sing it.
He does. When he sings it.
You do. When you sing it.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: greg stephens
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 10:37 AM

Go out on the street:
The first person you meet
Will perfectly well define folk.
You could even, of course
Just pick on a horse
If it sings( sorry, my little joke).


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: M.Ted
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 12:05 PM

Spaw's initial question should have been "Who could you name a folk music education program after that would have the high degree of recognition, prestige, and sophistication that you need to get connected with Lincoln Center?"

The short for of the question is "What famous folkie looked good in tails?" and has no answer.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Jenny Islander
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 12:37 PM

I dunno, I saw a clip of Dylan in a tux once and he looked pretty cool.

My definition of folk music is music from someplace (or sometime) where if you want to hear music about the things you care about, you'll have to either compose it yourself or ask a neighbor. Filk is one of the most active, as in sung at every possible occasion by amateurs and pros alike, folk subgenres around, IMHO, because there aren't many songs with SF or fantasy themes on commercial radio (okay, okay, "Sleeping Satellites," "Rocketman," "Major Tom," "Ironman," "Go Go Godzilla," "Rhiannon," but I couldn't fill a CD with the full playlist and "Drops of Jupiter" is actually an extended metaphor).

Somebody they could name a folk music education program after--? Hrm. Okay, it would have to be somebody well enough known that most people would go, "Hey, yeah, it's about time," while some would blink and say, "What, _him?_" For a program in the U.S., I agree with Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Burl Ives, Woody Guthrie.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: greg stephens
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 01:03 PM

Well, it's a funny question, but I'll hve bash at answering it seriously. Let's stick to North America/Britain/Ireland as that's the predominant discussion areas on Mudcat. Let's pick someone who we can all agree is folk, so let's knock out song writers and revivalists. Let's go for someone who while fulfils all the definitions of a traditional musician, but who also produced magnificent music judged by other criteria. Let's have someone equally influential on either side of the Atlantic, wh inspired folkies and rockers. Let's have someone who does material originating each side of the Atlantic. Let's consider people from diverse ethnic backgrounds...black and Native American combined might be good. Let's have someone who played a Stella 12-string.
Hell let's have
LEADBELLY


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 01:14 PM

I love your trail of thought, Greg, and find it hard to refute. But of course, arrived at logically, the answer shocks. Which proves that the question was wrong in the first place.

I argue that nobody can define "Folk", for the simple reason that it is not a single thing, but a collection of varied influences, sounds, experiences, lives etc, and organic whole growing as we speak but consisting of independent and distinct organisms; sort of like a colony. To provide a single defining answer you'd have to ignore so many of the differences that the answer doesn't make sense. It's like asking "Who defines human" - would it be a hermaphrodite? I think not.

So, folk is by definition indefineable.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: greg stephens
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 01:31 PM

Why did the answer shock,Mr Greko,(or may I call you El?). I do think it's an unanswerable question, in fact it's plain daft given the nature of folk music, but I thought, well, if it's got to be answered, I'll give it a go. But what intrigues me is, why did you find the answer shocking? I thought it was pretty obvious. I mean, lots of pepple were suggesting Pete Seeger. I ask you, if it was down to a choice between Pete Seeger and Leadbelly, who would Pete Seeger choose? He worships Leadbelly!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Frankham
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 06:01 PM

Having played Lincoln Center at one time, I think that it'd be hard to find any folk musician that would be really comfortable there. The first thing that hit me when I marched onstage was being blinded by the gleaming gold balconies. It seemed incongrous to sing folk songs there.

I think the solution is to give Wynton Marsalis a beat up Martin, a pair of jeans with patches on it, grow his hair longer and have him do a Child Ballad accapella. Then watch the grants roll in.

Leadbelly admired Richard Dyer-Bennett. For that matter, Satchmo admired Guy Lombardo.

I'm not sure that real folk music belongs on the concert stage. Even Pete Seeger might agree with that I think. He always asked people to consider lullabyes as folk music. Try rocking your child to sleep onstage in Lincoln Center.

I don't think you can educate the public about folk music the same way you can about jazz (If you can do that the way Wynton Marsalis is attempting to do.) Here's the problem. Jazz has stars. Folk music in it's essence is anti-star. It's folks. The best way is to forget a central figure to be a catalyst for this kind of music. The best education is when all kinds of people own the music and are a part of it as a natural heritage or national endowment. Then it becomes alive. Anybody remember the "Hootenanny Show" on TV with the famous folklorist Jack Linkletter?

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: lamarca
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 06:03 PM

I went back and looked at the "Essentially Ellington" website that Spaw linked to, and understand the question a bit better.

We're not trying to define "Folk" here, a topic that has been repeatedly battered to death on the Mudcat ever since I first started posting in 1996. What we're looking for is someone to design an educational program around, that would expose schoolkids to the widest possible variety and wealth of "Folk Music" in their country.

I submit that teaching American schoolkids about American traditional musics from the John and Alan Lomax collections would offer a breadth and depth of exposure that would provide a good grounding. Kids could learn about the patterns and textures of different musical threads that have gone into the American tapestry of folk music. Field recordings, revival versions of those recordings, modern songs and music influenced by those original sources - all of them could be presented to give kids an idea of the richness of American folk traditions. As with an Ellington jazz program, the introduction could lead interested students into exploring other collectors, other styles, and other types of "folk" musics.

Although as an American, I'm not as familiar with the UK, I believe that Cecil Sharp and Ralph Vaughan Williams created a similar curriculum for English schools in the early 20th century, and that any number of British folk revivalists had to get over the general public's memories of their forced exposure to sanitized English folk song in school to show people the excitement and riches in their own heritage. At a time in the late 50's and early 60's when young British musicians were going ga-ga over American traditional music forms like skiffle and blues, it was the revivalists like Martin Carthy and Ewan MacColl who were saying "Hey, wait a minute - we have bloody great traditional music of our own!" A British Isles program shaped around their great collectors from Sharp, Burns, Greig-Duncan, Baring-Gould, Grainger, and early Scottish and Irish tune collectors to later 20th century collectors like Peter Kennedy, Sean O'Riada, Sam Henry, Hamish Henderson, etc could do the same for schools in the UK and Ireland. As I'm not as familiar with the UK, I can't come up with one name that covers the same breadth of British, Scottish and Irish musics as the Lomaxes do for American musics - maybe our UK 'Catters have a good suggestion.

But please, folks - let's not return to the "What is/isn't Folk Music" discussion - that non-folksinging horse has been beaten to death long ago...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 03:34 AM

Wrong use of words on my part, Greg, I meant "surprising", not "unpleasant". It's just that in 30 years of following folk, admittedly mostly through trad clubs in the UK, I have had comparatively little exposure to Leadbelly - certainly not enough to call him "defining".

So to arrive at Leadbelly as an answer was "shocking - surprising" for me, just as it would be for someone else if I had arrived at Pete Atkin/Clive James through a similar process (who? I am sure I hear you ask). This says more about me and the circles I move in, of course, and nothing at all about Leadbelly's qualities. But it still serves to illustrate thate point that nobody can define folk.

Apologies for the misunderstanding caused by my wrong usage of English. Put it down to being Greek (I blame lots of things on that, it's handy).

And of course you can call me El, or George!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: greg stephens
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 03:58 AM

You won't hear me asking "Who" about Pete Atkin/Clive James, El Greko! I have the 35(?) year old cassette gathering dust in the attic to prove it.
Come and visit and I'll play you some Leadbelly tracks..and I might even get the old twelve out for a live demonstration.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 04:18 AM

Methinks I have exposed a serious gap in my education. How careless of me, especially being a 12-string player too! Shame on me...I'll take you up on that, GS!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Gurney
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 05:02 AM

For the folk who corrected me about the Irish folk revival, many thanks. My information was (very much was) from patriotic Irish folkies, telling a revivalist like me about the crack (and thats traditional spelling) there then.
Doesn't it all beg the question, though. To quote from a previous thread about bumper stickers, 'REAL folksingers have day jobs.' Professional folksinger is an oxymoron.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Eliza C
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 07:43 AM

Gurney,
   Do feel like a bit of an oxymoron sometimes... :)
I think that it is good and worthwhile to be a pro (otherwise I wouldn't do it), but it isn't the be-all and end-all.I think being a pro has to be about more than making albums in this field, it has to be.The buck does not stop with the person in the publicity shoot,there has to be an effort to maintain continuity and community, or it just isn't the same animal anymore.
   I like to think of it as the village hall is bigger than it used to be-people have earned their livings or beer money from folk music for hundreds of years, and besides, it gives me full focus to research what I love and it lets me sleep in in the mornings.
xx e


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: mooman
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 08:48 AM

I would say pretty well everyone who plays every form of "folk" from every corner of the world "from the heart".

Probably not a satisfactory answer to 'Spaw's original question but I wouldn't be able to answer that with any single name concerning jazz, "folk" or any other genre because of the sheer diversity and evolving nature of the various beasties.

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Peter T.
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 09:13 AM

I think a more interesting question is, what is the "folk ethos"? That is what gets carried on like some kind of virus. The reason why people mention Seeger and Guthrie is that they embody a stance in the world which is reflected in their music, and in turn the stance reflects the music. The ethos is based on the commitment to the possibility of everyone contributing to music, and that that is an expression of, and a further commitment to, a community. Traditional folk songs (whether mythically or accurately) are part of the threads of common life -- their preservation and continuation are seeds of hope that, just as those songs came from communities, so today there is a hope -- goofy given the world around us but a real hope -- that new communities can come from songs. The songs are seen as seeds of community, even if the folk garden they are to grow is only in the minds of those who sing them, and the people who come out to hear them. I think every folk song sung to a sympathetic audience creates a temporary community around that song, the singer, the event. I think folkies believe this, though some would be shy to admit it. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 01:48 PM

If you were looking for an icon to be a starting place for your educational program, you'd have to decide first what part of folk you wanted to teach. If you're going to accomplish anything, you have to do that anyway. I don't know that they've picked Ellington because he's the best way to get at jazz a whole (whatever that is), but maybe he's one of the best ways to get at "jazz that high school bands can play".

Anybody you pick is going to narrow your focus somehow, even someone as eclectic as Pete Seeger has been over the years. The essence of Seeger's approach to music is "means to an end." The collector approach is more of "music for music's sake" (depending on the collector), but your choice of collector narrows it, too. If you picked Lomax, you'd be ignoring everything north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

I have to say that any educational program putting itself forward as the "most unique" has lost way too many points with me in just the first few paragraphs, anyway. :-) And the competitive aspect of it deals the final death blow.
~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Frankham
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 02:36 PM

Peter T,
Not shy at all but agree completely.   It's why we do what we do.

Community does reflect "folk" and that's where the emphasis does the most good. People own the music, then they understand it.

Getting a figurehead for educating kids is tough because it becomes institutionalized fast....like Jazz at Lincoln Center. Ben Webster's few minutes is a case in point. No mention of Eddie Lang in the Burns documentary. (Daddy of all jazz guitarists). Bound to miss somebody.

Let's give the job to lesser lights and have more of them.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Deckman
Date: 01 Apr 03 - 07:21 PM

Hey Catspaw ... this is a very interesting query. I have been reading it, but as Spring has hit the NorthWest, my deck building business now is keeping me going 7 days a week. However, I do want to take a little time and attempt to add something to this discussion.

Let me preface my comments by telling you, up front, that I will not be able to define "folk", as I understand you to mean, by naming any one person. That's probably impossible, and you'd never get any two people to agree. So, when I think of who really defines "folk" for me, here is who I see and hear in my memory and mind's eye:

I see and hear "Mike." He was a pearl diver at one of the first coffee houses on the "Ave", in Seattle in the late 50's and early 60's. When he leaned back, and sang, acappella, "She Moved Through The Fair," I was frozen! He had it;

I think of "Terry", kind of a will-o-the-wisp. Transitory, very talented, charming, with an incredible ability to match a song and a moment;

I also think of "Roy," from England. He fit the role with his performing experience as an early busker. He charmed the ladies, knew an large number of songs, and was truly a rake;

"Pete", certainly. Besides the obvious qualities already mentioned, he shines because of his years in the trenches;

As does "Burl";

Then there's "Walt'. Consummate performer who studied and perfected his craft, was a wanderer in every sense of the word, and never lost his delight in presenting the song in a simple, straightforward manner that he felt was true to the material;

Then there is "Casey". What a delight. A very large man, who arrived in Seattle in the 50's with a guitar case full of Idaho songs. And his presentation was/is as straightforward and honest as he is;

And I have to mention "Nancy". I have to close my eyes so her beauty doesn't distract me. And what she can do with a ballad, with her pure voice in inflection is breathtaking;

And then there's "Don"; I love to watch his eyes when he sings and plays. I'm seeing the very same delight that I first saw there 50 years ago, but now I'm hearing the wisdom of 50 years of careful study and respectful learning.

So Catspaw, what I am saying is that THIS is the "FOLK" to me. An amalgam of all these people. Some have left us now, many have not. And for those of us that still gather, we just get better and better.

Thanks for bringing this subject up! CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Jenny Islander
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 01:11 AM

Points people have made about the dangers of school folk music programs called up a memory for me. We had an ambitious but doomed music curriculum when I was in the lower grades. Year by year, the teachers played recordings from Ghana and Louisiana and Ireland, and while I listened intently the other kids rolled their eyes and made faces and snickered. The teachers handed us acoustic instruments and the other kids refused to improvise or practice as I itched to strike up a bodhran beat. By sixth grade, the books were passed out but hardly opened or referred to. They were intended to build on what had come before, so they made no sense.

The difference between me and the other kids? My mother was a member of the local arts council and a public radio volunteer. Roving folkies stayed at her house. I learned about a dozen of the Child Ballads painlessly from a couple from the mainland who played Kodiak annually; I had no idea for years that they had a common identity other than "really cool songs." She got comp tickets to everything and bought all the records on sale during intermission. And our arts council was (still is) headed by geniuses. Our isolated town has hosted Sally Rogers, Bo Diddley, Dave Brubeck, Lou Reed, John Hammond, Joan Baez, and Jimmy Buffett, who showed up on his own and got into a fight to protect a lady's honor, as the story goes, as well as countless fiddlers, dulcimer players, jazzmen, blues men, classical quartets, Native American performers from all over the continent, every flavor of Celtic musician and a capoeira troupe. We had no TV at our house, but the radio was always on; the dial never moved from 100.1 FM, where you could hear everything from Kiss to live local bluegrass depending on time of day. The kids who sneered at the music curriculum had American Top 40.

But earlier, in preschool and after-kindergarten day care, two nice ladies came in every day and played "Five Hundred Miles," "The Sidewalks of New York," "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean," and a whole bookful of other songs, and twenty-plus years later my old classmates could still remember, with a smile, how they went.

So I'd like to expand on Deckman's insight. I realize now that the best person to name an education program after is Mom, or Dad or Uncle Phil who sings all the time or Grandma who knows every tune in Southern Harmony. Get the kids before they realize that there is a whole music industry aimed at their lowest common denominator and proclaim their independence by submitting to it. Sing them to sleep with "The Skye Boat Song." When they are in a loud mood, play "The Ballad of Sir Geordie Gordon" or "Goodnight Irene" with the volume up to 8 and encourage them to bellow along. Sing "Five Hundred Miles" and "One, I Love" in the car. Yeah, sooner or later they'll rebel. But as with church, when they have kids of their own they'll come back.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: greg stephens
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 01:56 AM

Lamarca made a point earlier about most British musicians chasing American music, skiffle and blues: this majority was contrasted with Martin carthy and Ewan mcColl, who were interested in our own heritage. I think that is highly misleading...Carthy and McColl were bot American folk music, like everybody else, Carthy in skiffle, McColl singing "John Henry", all the usual thing. They moved on, as did so many, to an interest in folk music. They were defiinitely not a contrast to the people you describe, Lamarca, they were part of them. We all started of on Leadbelly/Guthrie etc. Joseph Taylor and Walter Pardon came later!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Gurney
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 03:34 AM

Dear Eliza C., I hope you didn't take my post as an attack on folk pro's, most of whom I hold in high regard. I only wish I could perform as well as that. I meant that I think folk music is not generic and cannot be categorised. I've heard folkies working their way through the Beatles songbook, the Fred Astaire songs, Buddy Holley, 'I Dreamt I dwelt in Marble Halls,' and the like. And who hasn't? While they were singing, it was folk music, but not with a studio recording and orchestral backing. Just the way I feel.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: greg stephens
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 03:39 AM

Bit of a mistake in my previous post,,,what it was meant to say was "(Martin) Carthy and Ewan McColl were both into American folk"


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,joe
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 04:22 PM

this ain't math. nuthin' needs definin', but if it comes from the heart, round-about or direct, it's folk.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Eliza C
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 04:28 PM

Gurney,
No problem at all. But there is a place here I think for the opinions of people like me, as much as anyone who has a proper job (!) and loves folk for a hobby. I didn't take it the wrong way, I promise.
cheers,
x ec


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: lamarca
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 04:43 PM

Hi, Greg - yeah, I forgot about Martin and Ewan's tarnished American folk wannabe past... Martin can still belt out American-style rock n' roll, as evidenced by "Tortoise from Hell" in the style of "Maltloaf", on the first Mrs. Ackroyd Band album, and his great rendition of "Heartbreak Hotel" recently!

I think that music from other cultures has the appeal of the new and exotic, which is why so many Brits from Carthy to Clapton were seduced by American country blues, and so many Americans (like me) are into English and Irish folk songs. I've had several folks say to me "You should learn more American songs - it's your own heritage!" But, really, as a 2nd generation Polish-Italian American raised as an academic faculty brat in the American Midwest, a song from Tennessee or Vermont working class manual laborers is just as foreign as one from England - so why shouldn't I sing what I really enjoy!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: greg stephens
Date: 02 Apr 03 - 04:51 PM

Ewan McColl recording "John Henry" was a bit of a laugh too, considering how heavy he came down,in later years, on younger people fancied a dabble in cultures not "their own"(as defined by McColl). Well, I personally fight the corner of English traditional music as much as anyone, but it's never stopped me flirting shamelessly with other cultures!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: TinDor
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 05:01 AM

Interesting thread...from a American POV, I would say Pete Seeger or Leadbelly


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 06:00 AM

I would say that Sun Ra defines Jazz more than Ellington does; Ellington took it only so far (though on Money Jungle shows how he could go) but Mr Ra (who came up through Fetcher Henderson) took it as far back as Ancient Egypt and as far out as Saturn, covering the entire tradition of jazz along the way. Ellington I love dearly - the reason I don't believe in God is because I can't conceive of a greater divinity than that of The Piano Player. Maybe Ra is the anti-Christ of jazz, but he returns it to where it's meant to be.

Is there anyone comparable in Folk? Well, unlike Jazz, the entire concept of Folk Music is a contrived cultural myth, but it has thrown up some amazing music along the way. None of it as amazing as Duke Ellington or Sun Ra, but I'd say the deal was covered by three individuals: Seamus Ennis, Peter Bellamy and Jim Eldon.

In America I'd say either Jack Langstaff or maybe John Jacob Niles!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 07:11 AM

So this thread is refreshed after 6 years. I've read right thru it. Re Ireland: how come nobody mentioned e.g. {& it has to be an e.g.] Seamus Ennis or Paddy Tunney; ditto, re England, Harry Cox, Sam Larner ... oh how I could go on...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 08:36 AM

Phil Tanner.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 09:03 AM

G says whatever ElizaC plays is folk 'nuff. This thread has something of the Burke and Hare about it.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: PaulF
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 09:26 AM

This stupid discussion has been going on Mudcat for years.
GIVE IT A REST FFS


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 10:01 AM

They reminds me of a 'don't mention the war/ French/ Hush Puppies/ Tony Benn/ aunty Margaret and her special friend/ toy dogs in front of Grandad' discussion. Too tempting for all parties.

I'd just ban the word folk, much simpler.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: The Villan
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 11:37 AM

England
In my honest opinion a singer who influenced the UK immensely was the late great Cyril Tawney. He wrote many wonderful songs, which are sung probably all over the world today.

2nd place Roger Whittaker


Australia and the UK would be Martyn Whyndham-Read

2nd place Rolf Harris


America Peter Paul and Mary

Canada The McGarrigles Family

Scotland

The Fisher Family

2nd Jimmy Shand

Wales

Shirley Bassey & Tom Jones

Ireland
Dubliners


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 12:02 PM

Actually I read this, as a quite interesting alternative question: '"Who defines "Folk"': The people, listeners, artists, recording companies, academics?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 12:30 PM

Sounds 'bout right Villan. No quibbles there.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 12:56 PM

"Who defines "Folk": The people, listeners, artists, recording companies, academics?"

All of the above. That's why they can't ever agree on a definition.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: TinDor
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 01:29 PM

I think the thread starter meant who/what artist embodies "Folk" music the way Ellington (according to some)embodies and defines Jazz.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Goose Gander
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 02:01 PM

Sun Ra over Ellington? Please, SO'P. Sun Ra is interesting in a bizarre sort of way, but what about Coltrane, Davis, Armstrong, Adderly, Monk? Any one of them 'defines' jazz (if we need to do that) more effectively than Ra, who I think only defines himself.

But at least this isn't another 'what is folk?' thread.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 02:11 PM

This thread ran for 3 years, 03-06. Then there was a full 3 year gap. Then it got refreshed early today: & in the two posts immediately following that, both SO'P & I suggested Seamus Ennis, who, as I said, had unaccountably not been mentioned in the 6 years before. Telepathy or what! (I hadn't read his post when I posted mine.)


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Goose Gander
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 02:22 PM

Back to the original question, in the US I would say Doc Watson.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 03:16 PM

In the UK The Spinners by a nose.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 03:58 PM

Might I suggest, once more again yet, that there is no single definition. Folk means something specific to ethnomusicologists, while it has a (many) quite different meaning(s) to concert goers, and yet another to literary historians.

Just try to pick one before you start to argue.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 04:21 PM

If you're talking about the real traditional "folk", I'll say Bascom Lamar Lunsford.

If you're talking about folksong revival, I'll say Mike Seeger.

If somewhat more pop and protest/political "folk", Pete Seeger.

In another "folk" arena, which I am not able to characterize to my satisfaction, Bert Lloyd or Ewan McColl.

In what I'll call "classical concert folk", Richard Dyer-Bennet.

You see, you need to sort them out in order to get comparable groups to be preeminent in.

And then there's the horse who doesn't sing.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Bill D
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 04:29 PM

Why, *I* do, of course.....

The important question is, How do I get everyone to pay attention?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 04:46 PM

Ra over the others for me by a mile when it comes to Jazz. Though I also worship at the temple of Pharaoh Sanders...

Folk? I really don't know. I'm tempted to say Shirley Collins and Peter Bellamy for the revivalists. All the best traddies are Scottish: Lizzie Higgins, Jeannie Robertson, Stanley Robertson, Willie Scott, Davy Stewart.

... or whoever turns up at your local singaround.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Sep 09 - 11:23 PM

All best traddies Scots??? Harry Cox? Sam Larner? Joseph Taylor?   John England? Walter Pardon? George Dunn? Cyril Poacher? Phil Tanner? ......

Hoots & Heuch & awa' wi' ye, laddie! Or, alternatively, sod-off!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Mr Red
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 05:22 AM

Well Alan Lomax was a pretty good definer of folk. Peter Kennedy, his mate, was too. C# and Maud Karpeles didn't do too bad on both sides of the pond. And Child?

Ewen Macoll did a sterling job of conning the world into thinking some of his songs were traditional to the point that he "collected" one of his own from a Canadian lumberjack!

But one defining luminary for a genre that spreads from the Norman conquest to the crass commercialism of the 21st century?

Spaw - as ever - contraversial.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 08:19 AM

"Ewen Macoll did a sterling job of conning the world into thinking some of his songs were traditional to the point that he "collected" one of his own from a Canadian lumberjack!"

Surely the ultimate guerrilla situationist commentary on the impossibility of pure folk?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Stringsinger
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 05:18 PM

In my opinion, Ellington did not define jazz. They said that because he was considered by
academics to be a so-called "serious" musician.

I believe jazz was defined by Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker and New Orleans traditional music and be-bop. Coltrane has to be in there somewhere. Miles, because he
"edited" the solo.

Bix defined his era.

There can never be a single person to define folk music because that would belie
what folk music is, a product of many people over time.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 06 Sep 09 - 03:13 AM

Sun Ra is interesting in a bizarre sort of way,

Strongly suggest you revise that and take a closer look at not only Ra's contribution to the development of Jazz from late 1940s onwards but also his celebration of everything that went before, between and beyond. John Coltrane studied in Ra's school - owing much of his sound to John Gilmore, one of the unsung giants of the tenor saxophone contented himself to stay in Ra's ranks (with an occasional foray into Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers) for his entire career. Sun Ra doesn't just define Jazz, in many ways Sun Ra is Jazz; a baffling intergalactic ideologue whose extended residency on Plant Earth is evidenced by a recorded legacy that would take an entire lifetime to get to grips with.

Calling Planet Earth!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Sep 09 - 02:53 PM

"Ewen Macoll did a sterling job of conning the world into thinking some of his songs were traditional"
Don't supppose it makes the slightest difference to those who have made up their mind about 'EWAN' MacColl - but a few facts on the subject
Although he was proud of the fact that his songs were taken up by the communities he was writing about, unlike many 'snigger-snogwriters' who appear regularly on this forum to tell us that their particular introspective musings are 'folk', (but would be first to throw all their toys out of the pram if they woke up one morning to find that they had been taken at their word and all their songs had been placed in the public domain, where all true folk songs belong) MacColl never claimed that they had become 'traditional'. He was openly of the opinion that the tradition was moribund and had all but died out, so even though some had been taken up (particularly by Travellers and fishermen), there was no living tradition to absorb and re-make them into folk songs. Perhaps someone can point to him saying otherwise - (won't hold my breath)
There is no doubt that some of his songs were taken up, so much so that he was accused by various people of 'stealing' Shoals of Herring from a traditional singer and claiming it as his own. Professor Horace Beck claimed it to be "typical of the songs to be found among Kerry fishermen" and re-named it 'Shores of Erin'.
We recorded around six versions of 'Freeborn Man', mainly garbled fragments (which pretty well bears out MacColl's claim of a moribund tradition) from Irish and Scots Travellers, and once again he was accused of "stealing", this time from Travellers, on this occasion by a Scots academic. As well as this unsubstantiated accusation, Jeremy Sandford (sociological writer - 'Gypsies', 'Cathy Come Home' etc) in his 'Songs From The Roadside' stated that three of the songs written for 'The Travelling People' Radio Ballad were adapted from existing Travellers songs, though, like previous claims of other songs, he never produced evidence to back this up and, to my knowledge, none has ever been forthcoming.
None of MacColl's songs sounded anything like 'traditional' - hardly surprising, they weren't intended to. Who knows, perhaps he just did his homework on the subjects he was writing about and went and wrote good songs!!!
Anyway, the bottom line is that people can't have it both ways; if, as is often claimed, we still have a living folk tradition, then it is legitimate to identify some of MacColl's songs as 'traditional', even though he never made such a claim. If we don't, it isn't - simple as that.
"Who defines folk?"
The term has been defined and fully accepted by those working on the subject since 1846, when it was first used (and immediately generally accepted) by William John Thoms. The 1954 definition was merely a fine tuning to specifically apply it to song and music (this also was immediately widely accepted by those working in the field).
To date, it has never been re-defined to the satisfaction of those involved. The necessary consensus for re-definition does not exist, so the existing one stands and continues to be documented.
So who gets to define it? Nobody - it's been done
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 06 Sep 09 - 07:07 PM

So who gets to define it? Nobody - it's been done

Missing the point there, old man; this isn't about definition as in the 1954 Doctrine, rather it's about seeking for the work a single individual who might be said to define folk in the same way that (say) Duke Ellington can be said to define jazz. As far as I know Duke Ellington didn't set forth a doctrine for the actually definition of Jazz, which is, unlike Folk, is a living, breathing, creative art form.

As far as such an individual exists at all, maybe Ewan MacColl fits the bill - that past-master of personal, political, historical and cultural revisionism that would seem to be the very essence of this thing we dare call Folk, much less The Tradition. Hmmmm - now there's an idea for a thread...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Sep 09 - 07:36 PM

Whooops, my mistake; knee-jerk reaction without reading down the thread.
Apologies (about the latter part of my response)
1954 wasn't a doctrine, just a definition which will serve adequately until a better one comes along.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Mr Red
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 06:12 AM

Surely the ultimate guerrilla situationist commentary on the impossibility of pure folk?
If folk was pure it would be bottled and sold in vast quantities by Proctor & Gamble. Folk is a nebulous concept. It is not purely music. Poetry and mime, drama, and customs and a even old wives tales. Football (soccer) singing on the terraces - I shudder at the thought of doing it, but if that ain't folk - well - we don't deserve to discuss the "definition".


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 06:51 AM

Right - Talking of soccer terraces: I once asked Bert Lloyd whether the song from Carousel, You'll Never Walk Alone, has now become a folksong: it has become the anthem of Liverpool Football Club & I bet 90% of the fans who sing it on the terraces every Saturday couldn't tell you its provenance. Bert said, 'Folk in function but not in form'; I said 'In folk surely the function defines the form to some extent'. He replied 'Ah, yes, to some extent'. & there the conversation ended. But there is a huge body of soccer chants, many adapted, others, like Walk Alone, just sung straight. As Mr Red sez, If they're not folk ...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 06:55 AM

Indeed, You'll Never Walk Alone has become Liverpool FC's quasi-official [or even official] motto — it's inscribed on the club ground's gates [like the death of Young Collins!] ... so how about that for folk process?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 01:14 PM

Not being a regular attender at the match, I first heard it as "You never wore Cologne" - would that be a Mondegreen, do you think?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Aeola
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 03:21 PM

There's no end in sight to this one, but the adage that springs to mind is 'different Folk for different folk!', I think I read somewhere recently that Folk is being taken to some primary schools in the Northwest!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 03:27 PM

The Folk Police define Folk, just as the Jazz Police define Jazz...and...the rest of us don't take a blind bit of notice of them.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 05:06 PM

"The Folk Police define Folk,"
Just as the 'rice pudding police' define rice pudding - sure they do Lizzie.
Drink your tea and we'll go for a walk later - there's a good girl!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Peace
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 07:54 PM

"Who Defines 'Folk'????"

Anyone looking for an argument.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Sep 09 - 09:55 PM

But once again we have wandered into that other meaning of 'define' and lost the point of this thread, i.e. who is the person who most REPRESENTS THE CONCEPT of Folk. Is it too late, after so many posts, for Joe slightly to emend the name of this thread to specify this meaning and save these constant barren revisitings of the old 'what is folk?' chestnut? [Can one revisit a chestnut? perhaps we need another thread on mixed metaphors!]


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 04:59 AM

"sure they do Lizzie. Drink your tea and we'll go for a walk later - there's a good girl!"

Who defines folk? - misogynists apparently!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 06:05 AM

"The Folk Police define Folk, just as the Jazz Police define Jazz...and...the rest of us don't take a blind bit of notice of them."

In that case they don't represent a threat, do they? Unless, of course, your fragile ego can't cope with differences of opinion or any hint of criticism (?)


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 06:22 AM

"The Folk Police define Folk, just as the Jazz Police define Jazz...and...the rest of us don't take a blind bit of notice of them."


I think it's more serious than The Folk Police actually - they are the Folk Dementors, blindly & maliciously enforcing the law of a council that no longer exists, but don't dare to tell them that...

Jazz Police? Maybe not, Jazz isn't like folk in that it actually exists - which is to say it's a living breathing cultural phenomenon; one of the many truly Traditional Folk Musics of the Peoples of Planet Earth - much as Traditional English Folk Song was, once upon a time before the revival came along and killed it off for the good of our souls.

Shame this thread has drifted into the realms of What is Folk? rather than its original intention which was more of a chance for celebration than debate.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Mr Red
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 06:25 AM

Well whoever the musician is that defines folk



I bet he can't define it like Bill Monroe could...............



I'll get my coat.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 06:46 AM

Yes, right SO'P: the thread has gone haywire becoz of the ambiguity of the word 'Defines' in its title. I appeal again to Joe for a new title to resolve this impasse...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 04:10 PM

"they are the Folk Dementors, blindly & maliciously enforcing the law of a council that no longer exists"
Where?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 04:34 PM

'"they are the Folk Dementors, blindly & maliciously enforcing the law of a council that no longer exists"
Where?
Jim Carroll'


Right here. The ones who say doubting the nonsense is the same as genocide.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jamming With Ollie Beak (inactive)
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 04:37 PM

Who Defines 'Folk'????

The EFDSS Liberation Front.

Charlotte OLivia Robertson (Ms)


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 06:19 PM

"Right here. The ones who say doubting the nonsense is the same as genocide."

I've told you a million, billion times, 'glueman' not to exaggerate!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 07:27 PM

"Right here. The ones who say doubting the nonsense is the same as genocide."
Congratulations - that's the nearest you've come a responce; now perhaps you'd like to explain where, who and how this is "maliciously enforcing the law of a council that no longer exists".
On the other hand - perhaps it's as well not to get too close to anybody who thinks that everybody who disagrees with him is mad!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 02:44 AM

"Right here. The ones who say doubting the nonsense is the same as genocide."

Sadly Shimmy, that's precisely what was said.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 03:04 AM

where?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 03:26 AM

search Jimbo

The Glueman


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 04:30 AM

Well, 'glueman' I've been through this thread and nowhere can I find any mention of genocide. This terrible word has certainly been mis-used in the past but wantonly introducing it in a discussion about folk music takes mis-use to a whole new level!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 04:49 AM

"maliciously enforcing the law of a council that no longer exists".

It was me that said that, Jim - as a wee joke I must admit. I must admit I'm losing the will here! Genocide? WTF? What happened to Gaia? Or was that another thread?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Mr Red
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 05:18 AM

Who defined Gaia? the Greeks or James Lovelock?

And is this thread drift or orbit prececession?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 05:31 AM

Sums it all up really - a pair of tossers who have both lost it
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 06:24 AM

Sums it all up really - a pair of tossers who have both lost it

Keep the faith, old man! You're one of the few people around here who make consistent sense. In fact, if anyone on Mudcat can be said to Define Folk, it's your good self.

Respect.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 07:14 AM

"if anyone on Mudcat can be said to Define Folk, it's your good self"

So true.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 07:28 AM

Glueman - "Right here. The ones who say doubting the nonsense is the same as genocide."

Shimrod - "I've told you a million, billion times, 'glueman' not to exaggerate!"

Here you go Shimmy, from this very board a couple weeks ago:

"It's a bit more aggressive than ignoring history. He wants to destroy it.

I have no doubt that the burden of responsibility for the destruction of Bosnia lies predominantly on one side, and I have tried to set out in the final chapters of this book my reasons for thinking so.

One sure way of judging the historical claims of the main perpetrators of violence in Bosnia is to look at what they have done to the physical evidence of history itself. They are not only ruining the future of that country: they are also making systematic efforts to eliminate its past. The state and university library in Sarajevo was destroyed with incendiary shells. The Oriental Institute, with its irreplaceable collection of manuscripts and other materials illustrating the Ottoman history of Bosnia, was also destroyed by concentrated shelling. All over the country, mosques and minarets have been destroyed, including some of the finest examples of sixteenth-century Ottoman architecture in the western Balkans. These buildings were not just caught in the cross-fire of military engagements; in towns such as Bijeljina and Banja Luka, the demolitions had nothing to do with fighting at all - the mosques were blown up with explosives in the night, and bulldozed on the following day. The people who have planned and ordered these actions like to say that history is on their side. What they show by their deeds is that they are waging war on the history of their country"

There we are, discussing the 'folk process' is the same as genocide.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 09:32 AM

Yes, 'glueman' I do remember that particular posting - but, at the time, I couldn't really work out which side of the argu ... er, discussion the poster was on. I also think that as a contribution to the er, ... debate it was somewhat ill-judged. Nevertheless I assumed that the poster was making a point about the deliberate destruction of history for ideological reasons - not genocide as such.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 11:37 AM

Nice line in hair-splitting their Shimmy. Folk and nationalism have always been in harness. Cut The Tradition and it bleeds us and them.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Goose Gander
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 12:04 PM

"Folk and nationalism have always been in harness. Cut The Tradition and it bleeds us and them."

Strawman/Glueman never gives up. If anything, folkies are mainly a left-leaning bunch who instinctively recoil at chauvinistic nationalism.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 01:38 PM

You really don't believe folk and nationalism are bedfellows MM?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Goose Gander
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 02:04 PM

'Folk' and 'Nationalism' are both abstractions. Give me something a little more specific, and I can answer your question. I do know that among British folkies, chauvinistic nationalism is anathema, notwithstanding the efforts of some on the right to latch onto folk music and folk dance.

Of course, there is positive 'nationalism' that is also associated with folk and folk-like things - being proud of your heritage does not necessarily mean disparaging or stomping upon someone else's.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 02:16 PM

But it so often does. It's one of those instances where the folk revival as a branch of British post-war socialism is out of kilter with much of the rest of the world, though that gap is narrowing all the time.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Goose Gander
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 03:03 PM

Sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't. To make any meaningful statement on the subject, you need to provide a specific example(s).

"It's one of those instances where the folk revival as a branch of British post-war socialism is out of kilter with much of the rest of the world, though that gap is narrowing all the time."

So 'folk' in the rest of the world is some sort of fascist movement? Evidence, please.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 03:21 PM

Didn't mention fascism, but you don't need to look too hard in europe to see it aligned to nationalism. Unless you also doubt that's true?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 03:34 PM

Hold on there, 'glueman' - whoa!!

How does favouring the view that folk song is a limited and definable genre make me a fascist and a nationalist?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Goose Gander
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 03:37 PM

"It's one of those instances where the folk revival as a branch of British post-war socialism is out of kilter with much of the rest of the world, though that gap is narrowing all the time."

This is the specific statement of yours that I would like you to explain and back up with specific examples, and then (please!) relate it to the topic of this thread.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 04:14 PM

Shimrod this'll come as a shock but it isn't always about you. You have form on taking any comment I make and saying 'where did I say that?' I know you believe your regular session at the Finger and Tankard make you identify so closely with The Tradition that you believe the two are inseparable but it isn't so.

MM, rather than submit to the delights of prove it or take your punishment schoolmasterlyness I put it to you in all seriousness, do you not believe the English folk music scene since WW2, by which I mean the club scene, has emerged alongside and interwoven with the political left? Furthermore, can you not see evidence that the right are appropriating the music as they have elsewhere?

If you don't I won't ask to provide evidence as marshalling the discussion either way would take great effort but I believed it to be a self-evident truth.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Goose Gander
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 04:38 PM

GM, you equated folk with belligerent nationalism. I pointed out that folk in the UK is more often associated with left-wing politics and looks askance at such things. Have you forgotten this? Maybe you should go back and read my brief posts. You went on to insist that this left-wing association is somehow "out of kilter with much of the rest of the world" . . . OK, give me something tangible. How is 'folk' (whatever you mean by that) a vehicle of belligerent nationalism in "much of the rest of the world"?

And then while your at it, please explain how all of this relates to the topic of this thread.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 05:05 PM

"GM, you equated folk with belligerent nationalism."

Yes, not exclusively but it's often there in the mix.

"I pointed out that folk in the UK is more often associated with left-wing politics and looks askance at such things"

I agree, though the line between rheumy-eyed nostalgia and 'it was much better before (insert scapegoat of preference)' is a fine one as some threads on here testify. If you think folk is devoid of right-thinking sensibilities you're blind or have been very lucky.

"OK, give me something tangible. How is 'folk' (whatever you mean by that) a vehicle of belligerent nationalism in "much of the rest of the world"?

I refuse to even open the sites but try Googling 'folk and nationalism' and see what pops up, you may be more daring than me.

"And then while your at it, please explain how all of this relates to the topic of this thread."

Thread drift, we answer the previous replies, it's not a classroom.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Goose Gander
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 06:53 PM

Folk can be associated with nationalism of the belligerent sort, or nationalism of a harmless or even positive variety. It can be a vehicle for marginalized populations to express resistance to the chauvinism, or it can be window dressing for racialist nationalism. You argued that left-wing tendencies among UK folkies are an anomaly . . . ("It's one of those instances where the folk revival as a branch of British post-war socialism is out of kilter with much of the rest of the world, though that gap is narrowing all the time.") . . . but if that's your argument, I'd like to see the evidence. Fans of Russian folk music are motivated by aggressive Russian nationalism? El Salvadoran folk music is the preferred music of the nation's right-wingers? Cambodian folk dance holds a hidden, fascist subtext? Yes, I would like to see the evidence that the majority of folk-related things and folk-associated folks are steeped in right-wing nationalism.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 07:29 PM

"You have form on taking any comment I make and saying 'where did I say that?"
And you constantly, thread after thread, make (I believe deliberately) inaccurate statements and accustions which you refuse either to substantiate or withdraw.
It is a persistant technique which is both dishonest and spineless.
At least your mentor tries to waffle his way out of his foot-in-mouths.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 04:29 AM

"if anyone on Mudcat can be said to Define Folk, it's your good self"

When I said that back there I meant it, glueman. I'm not being in any way smart or ironic, just according respect where respect is most surely due. Hopefully we're here because we love the music, a good deal of which I wouldn't have heard if it wasn't for the faith, diligence and hard work of Jim Carroll and people like him.

At least your mentor tries to waffle his way out of his foot-in-mouths.

I am not anyone's mentor, old man - and I grow increasingly weary of the association. Here we are individuals, we think for ourselves, even the sycophant Shimrod, gawd bless 'im! Here, I hope, there are no enemies, just a bunch of mates having a natter.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 04:35 AM

Since when has 'sycophancy' been synonymous with 'agreement'?

Anyway, as I was saying before I was interrupted by 'glueman's' sycophant SO'P ...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 04:46 AM

Anyway, as I was saying before I was interrupted by 'glueman's' sycophant SO'P ...

A point of order there, Shimrod - I don't think I've ever openly agreed with anything glueman has said here. Trouble is, I don't know who glueman is, much less Shimrod, all I have to go on are on-line personas which don't incline me to be interested one way or another. For all I know Shimrod and glueman could be one person merrily trolling away. Maybe it's time to take the masks off and see just who we're dealing with here.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 05:36 AM

"I am not anyone's mentor, old man"
Sorry - village idiot and nodding dog as far as I can see
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 06:27 AM

Sorry - written in irritation and a little over the top.
Should read - vaccuous pontificator and his nodding dog.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 07:31 AM

"Hopefully we're here because we love the music, a good deal of which I wouldn't have heard if it wasn't for the faith, diligence and hard work of Jim Carroll and people like him." SOP

"Sorry - village idiot and nodding dog as far as I can see"
Jim Carroll

"Should read - vaccuous pontificator and his nodding dog."
Jim Carroll

The former may justify the latter for you SOP, I suspect he's dined out on some undeniably good work once too often.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 07:48 AM

The former may justify the latter for you SOP, I suspect he's dined out on some undeniably good work once too often.

It's only a forum, glueman - we come here willingly and (hopefully) take no offence at such harmless barracking which is surely par for the course with respect of the curmudgeonly old revivalists who make it all worthwhile anyway. At least they do for me - be they on Mudcat or in the cubs I frequent. Like them, I very much doubt Jim's the type to rest on his laurels, much less dine out on them.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 07:49 AM

In the cubs I frequent? Oh hell - before anyone raises a mob that should be clubs, as in folk clubs...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 08:09 AM

My take on the business is this - folk music, whatever else it may be, is not a history lesson. Those who want to turn it into the equivalent of collecting numbers on a railway platform are welcome to do so but they are not entitled to lecture others; it's music, my appreciation of it is as good as the next man's.

Sadly the next man has wrapped it in snares and briars and made it inaccessible - it really shouldn't be, it's tunes, good and bad for people to sing and play. There is no entry point where one can't care about the backstory and appreciate the 'text' from a contemporary viewpoint and that state is maintained by a mix of cantankerousness and clubbish connoiseurship which is unfortunate.

I'm interested in the real phenomenon of the folk revival but don't buy into the shibboleths on which it's built. I approach it as a person of my time, informed by the things of that time.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Brian Peters
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 09:18 AM

>> There is no entry point where one can't care about the backstory and appreciate the 'text' from a contemporary viewpoint <<

You can find history-free, lecture-free folk music any day of the week and any weekend in summer, if you want to. Just go to some gigs. You don't have to attend the workshops as well.

If, on the other hand, you spend your hours logged on to a folk music discussion group, you shouldn't be surprised to find discussions about folk music.

And if you want to go around starting threads called 'Does Folk Exist', and demanding proof of the 'folk process', you might accept the responses you get with interest and good grace, instead of sneering about trainspotters and Asperger's syndrome.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 09:47 AM

"You can find history-free, lecture-free folk music any day of the week and any weekend in summer, if you want to. Just go to some gigs."

I do, often. It's hard to relate that living thing to the musty sepulchre some people want to turn it into. The genuinely good grace responses are always returned in kind, the waspish ones get fly swatted. I'm a bogey man because a few people have decided that's my role because they don't like what I say, that doesn't mean it's not true.
If a few go in for monkey business I reserve the right to shout 'monkey!'


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 10:27 AM

P O'B
"…..if it wasn't for the faith, diligence and hard work of Jim Carroll and people like him."

Please do not patronise me – I doubt if you have any idea what kind of collectors Pat and I are and whether we did a reasonable job or made a complete hames of it – have you heard our recordings, apart from the few artefacts we have issued on a tiny handful of albums (have you heard all or any of them)? And please don't insult me by reducing my experience to that of a collector – done a bit more than that over the last forty odd years (singer, club organiser, beer glass collector, chair mover, workshop organiser and participant, archive setter-upper and contributor…...)
Folkie Dave is right; I have become increasingly irritated by the extraordinary arrogance of these recent threads.
What are we being asked to accept? We are apparently being asked to take on trust the armchair musings of two individuals who not only have carried out no research themselves whatever, but appear to be proud of that fact ("never read a book in my life….." (sorry to repeat this but it goes through these threads like 'Blackpool' goes though rock)); one of who appears to believe that anybody who disagrees with him is mad (come back Norman Bates, all is forgiven!) and another who goes into near-orgasmic ecstasies when an organisation he has spent a fair deal of time pouring contempt on changes its name. In doing so we are required to abandon the conclusions we have reached as a result of any work we might have done ourselves, as well as that of the army of collectors and researchers over the last century or so, (sloppy and agenda laden as they may be). And for what? The unsubstantiated declarations of the folk equivalents of Del Boy and Rodders, which fly in the face of everything I have come to accept as simple common-sense during my years of involvement .
Let's have a quick shuftie at what's on offer.
'Folk – tradition – oral transmission – are all the wet-dreams of researchers carrying out sloppy and agenda-ridden work.'
In that case, where did the 200-odd versions of Barbara Allen come from; how did 'The Unfortunate Rake' end up in all the locations and personae he/she did throughout the English-speaking world down the centuries; who whittled down 'The Blind Beggar' from its 60/70 verse totally unsingable form to the beautifully flowing 8 verse versions found in Britain, Ireland, the US, Canada…. in the intervening centuries? What turned the somewhat crude and stilted 'The Sea Crabb' to be found in Percy's 'Loose and Humorous Songs,' into the magnificent Chauceresque song recorded all over the British Isles and still to be found here in The West of Ireland (and in many rugby clubs and pubs at chucking-out time)?   
A suggestion; I know you are averse to research so I'll keep it to a minimum (my bit of patronising).
Thumb through the early collections; Percy's 'Reliques', The 'Roxborough' and 'Ebsworth' Ballads, the early printed versions of Child ballads for instance and see how centuries of being carried in the heads and the mouths of 'The Folk' has changed many of them from unsingable stodge into small (and sometimes not so small) masterpieces. Now how did that happen, I wonder!!! I go with MacColl's beautiful description from the Song Carriers;
"Well, there they are, the songs of our people. Some of them have been centuries in the making, some of them undoubtedly were born on the broadside presses. Some have the marvellous perfection of stones shaped by the sea's movement. Others are as brash as a cup-final crowd. They were made by professional bards and by unknown poets at the plough-stilts and the handloom. They are tender, harsh,, passionate, ironical, simple, profound.... as varied, indeed, as the landscape of this island.
We are indebted to the Harry Coxes and Phil Tanners, to Colm Keane and Maggie MacDonagh, to Belle Stewart and Jessie Murray and to all the sweet and raucous unknown singers who have helped to carry our people's songs across the centuries."
Was going to go on to the 'anonymous master composer' suggestion, but this is already far too long – another time maybe!
Parting shot to our folk revisionists.
There's a rather amusing cartoon pinned up over the bar in our local, which depicts two peahens looking on at a peacock's magnificent display; one peahen is saying "Never mind all that shit – show us your willie".
How about it lads?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 10:45 AM

I'll show you mine if you show me yours JC.

I have a problem with collectors, I admit it. Clarice Cliff hoarders, people who want every Allcock rod made, those who seek to cop each Class 37 diesel built. It's wrong on so many levels but basically it's just wrong giving vent to that completist gene. I hope I treat such people with good grace in real life but folk is stuffed with them, absolutely chokka-bloody-block.

Most of the debate here is internal, there's no dialogue, no examination of the absolute fundamental terms of engagement. That's what these eternal folk-is threads are about (very few OP'ed by me incidentally), a desire to put folk through the grinder, leave it to people who know nothing about folk, to those expert in other fields, to real ordinary people who wouldn't know a broadside from a backside. They keep cropping up because there's an itch that has to be scratched, a folk world beyond the folk club, beyond 1954, beyond 'give me three examples of what you just said'.

I disliked card collectors in the playground as I disliked 'name six football clubs with blue shorts', all that stack it up and hide behind it stuff, I ain't going to change now.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 11:12 AM

snares and briars

I picked up a copy of that in Preston market on Tuesday for £10 - pristine condition too apart from some slight scuffing on the spine. A fine album which finds Sarah, Flora and Jacqui Clitheroe in fine voice in this sisters-only tribute to their late-mother Ethel who died in the summer of 1976. Sarah's solo album Seven Years a Tongue to the Warning Bell was recorded the following autumn and was met with hostility by the folk-scene who couldn't deal with an album of such bleak ballads, much less one that was effectively field-recorded in a church (Saint Michael's in Sallerford, Norfolk), thus eschewing all the studio conventions of the time. Snares and Briars (1980) is a different kettle of fish altogether, finding the twins reunited with their older sister in a tight set of songs from their mother's repertoire, both traditional and non-traditional (a masterful Wibbly-Wobbly Walk is a high point) though it's worth noting that in her sleevenote Jacqui Clitheroe points out that Ethel made no such distinctions herself:

Father (Frank Clitheroe) remains the revivalist ideologue he has always been, whilst to Mother the songs were just a part of her idyllic rural childhood spent with her molecatching father on the Lancastrian Fylde. Many of the songs here were recorded by Ethel on her 1965 LP The Molecatcher's Daughter - songs as much remembered as they were collected from her own father during his latter days which were spent as an inmate of one of Lancashire's most secure asylums since the Christmas Ethel came down to find him nursing his wife's skull, newly exhumed from the grave where she'd lain since her life expired giving her only daughter life. It is touching that father and daughter were able to find a point of communication in his final years as Ethel determinedly recorded every note of his extensive repertoire.

The trauma lingers along with the joys and the laughter, but beneath all was the darkness that many listeners could detect in my mother's singing of her father's songs, a darkness which is perhaps evident here, even in the most happy of songs - perhaps especially in the most happy of songs - for in that happiness is an ideal which must be set against the reality of the life from which it sprung. Ethel called these songs
Father's Songs - in the family we call them Grandfather's Songs - which include both the old traditional songs and the popular songs of Grandfather's time, the songs Grandfather loved and sang, from the plaintive Snares and Briars (which gives this collection its name) to the decidedly upbeat The Inebriated Spectre that Put the Wind Right-Up the Rector, an obscure music-hall song indicating both the breadth and depth of Grandfather's musical appreciation.

It's a damn fine album at any rate. I've just invested in one of those USB turntable things but all it's done is given me a taste for old vinyls, the digitising of which would be as sacrilegious as scanning old books to make e-versions.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 11:17 AM

Was going to go on to the 'anonymous master composer' suggestion, but this is already far too long – another time maybe!

Looking forward to it, old man.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 11:24 AM

beer glass collector

In the same sense as folk song collector? I bought a Newcastle Brown Ale glass off my landlord the other night in a drunken moment of nostalgia; it joins my Laughing Gravy glass, though maybe two beer glasses probably don't count as a collection.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: glueman
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 11:29 AM

Three might. Then it'll be 'Beer Glass Design, history, science and sociology 1876 - 1965' by R. Sole and selling your your's to eBay. Don't give in to your double helix.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Goose Gander
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 12:03 PM

"I have a problem with collectors, I admit it. Clarice Cliff hoarders, people who want every Allcock rod made, those who seek to cop each Class 37 diesel built. It's wrong on so many levels but basically it's just wrong giving vent to that completist gene. I hope I treat such people with good grace in real life but folk is stuffed with them, absolutely chokka-bloody-block."

If you can't make a distinction between knick-knack collectors and song collectors in the context of a discussion about folk music, then perhaps you should go back to playing with marbles and pulling pig-tails.

At least SO'P seems motivated by genuine interest in and enjoyment of music. I'm not sure why you showed up, other than to waste your own time trolling around, flinging invectives, and constructing logical fallacies.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 12:28 PM

At least SO'P seems motivated by genuine interest in and enjoyment of music.

You read that, old man? Now that's what I call patronising!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 01:55 PM

"Looking forward to it, old man. "
No - that's what I call patronising
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 07:26 AM

Whoever tries to define it will be gainsaid at least 177 times. Look, its a polymorphous concept. Not everything goes, but the boundaries are fluid, and at the boundaries there will always be disagreements. That's just how it is, enjoy!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Iains
Date: 13 Feb 19 - 04:13 AM

Refresh


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Feb 19 - 06:07 AM

Irrelevant - who cares ?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Feb 19 - 10:05 AM

I wonder why a decade old thread now being covered by at least two other threads has been reopened - well no - I know exactly why it has.
Perhaps the mod can ask themselves the same question ?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 13 Feb 19 - 10:31 AM

Hell is other folkies...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Rain Dog
Date: 13 Feb 19 - 11:02 AM

Folk knows!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Feb 19 - 03:33 AM

Festival organisers, and faded pop stars who need a genre to boost their fading revenue.

And they still get paid more than 11 ceilidh bands put together for the same festival.

And they have the unspeakable arrogance to tell us how to vote.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: saulgoldie
Date: 14 Feb 19 - 07:59 AM

So what if this has already been done to death several times over? There is always someone who missed it the first fortyleven times. And this IS a forum that is dedicated to folk music, right?

I was surprised that "1954" did not appear in this thread until well past the middle. That is often the beginning, the end, and "pour me another one; we ain't nearly done with this!" discussions.

One take from way back was this one, which makes pretty good sense to me:

**
From: Celtaddict - PM
Date: 31 Mar 03 - 10:21 AM

Rick is right.
Who defines folk?
I do. When I sing it.
He does. When he sings it.
You do. When you sing it.
**

'Nother one is, was it Pete Seeger? Or Schooner Fare?
"Folk music is music that folks sing."
**

I don't worry too much about it. Once you try to pin it down, as with 1954, you leave yourself open to "exceptions." Basically, it is like trying to nail Jello to the wall.

Saul


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Feb 19 - 09:43 AM

Good!

That one sorted out then!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Iains
Date: 14 Feb 19 - 10:50 AM

Don't bank on it. But I think the analogy of nailing jello to the wall summarises the problem neatly. Saulgoldie deserves a pint.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 Feb 19 - 12:42 PM

Howzabout we just give up and pass the buck upstairs..

.. and settle on God in all his infinite wisdom and mysterious ways defines folk...???

It's not for us mere mortals to ask questions why he does stuff...

There.. that easily sorts that out...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Feb 19 - 02:23 PM

I thought God had already sorted it all. Problem is some of us don't believe in him (Thank God!)


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 14 Feb 19 - 02:45 PM

Yeah... but defining Folk would have been as good a reason as any for us non believers to invent God...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Feb 19 - 03:58 PM

'Who Defines folk?' Quite correct. Dr Who went off in the Tardis back to the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and found that indeed all the songs were written by milkmaids, ploughboys, travellers, farmhands, roadmenders, etc...…… and some were even written by Daleks, or was that written in dialects?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Feb 19 - 04:49 PM

If we had a seance we could ask cecil sharp


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Feb 19 - 05:04 PM

Who defines folk? 1954. Full stop. It's actually quite arbitrary, and 1954 works as well as any of them, so why not stick with it? We need no further definition, if we need definition at all.

Why define folk? The wannabe star musicians working in record/CD/MP3/Streaming outlets (the musicians who don't deliver pizzas), because they need to know what bin to put the merchandise in.

Why fight about it? Well, people get bored at times, and want to make pronouncements about what's important or not important to talk about at Mudcat while we're diverting ourselves from the political diatribes.


Dick Miles posted the 1954 definition in 2007. It still sounds pretty good to me.

Thread #104945   Message #2154089
Posted By: The Sandman
21-Sep-07 - 03:51 AM
Thread Name: Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement?
Subject: Isthe1954defining,improvable

Definition of Folk Music, decided 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 the 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 term 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 by the community that gives it its folk character.
Is this definition open to improvement, and do you have any suggestions as to how it can be improved. Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Iains
Date: 14 Feb 19 - 05:41 PM

Joe using the 1954 definition leaves a huge body of work recorded by the likes of the Dubliners, and many other folk groups, hanging in Limbo. Also the world has moved on since 1954. The hoary sons of the soil are not going to be gathered in a pub scribbling down the words or trying to remember the tune.They will whip out their phone and carry on swigging their pint. This wipes out most of the 1954 definition.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Andy7
Date: 14 Feb 19 - 08:05 PM

I think we need a world referendum on the definition of folk music.

Anyone in the world who wishes to, can have their own definition added to the ballot paper. This (perhaps rather long) ballot paper will then be translated into every language in the world.

Then everyone in the world can vote on the definition of folk music which best matches their own preference. (That's if they haven't bothered to submit their own definition to be included on the ballot paper; if they have, they will naturally vote for their own definition ... when they can find it.)

The final result will be ratified by the United Nations, and will be the incontestable definition of folk music for a period of 3 years. After which, a new ballot will be held; after all, both opinions and music change over time.

Ah, the simplest ideas are so often the best!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Feb 19 - 08:21 PM

So, if Iains is correct, then the main point of the argument is whether singer-songwriters should be included in the category of "folk music." I think a song isn't folk music until it has been passed around for a generation or two - and I am sure many purists would think that my definition is too loose. But does it matter? To me, it's all a matter of opinion.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 02:44 AM

" and I am sure many purists would think that my definition is too loose"
My intention of taking part in a thread that is adequately dealt with elsewhere has just been confirmed when a mod begins to use abusive language towards those who take our folk music seriously
There are those who take folk music seriously and those who "just wanna have fun"
The term "purist" is every bit as abusive as is "folk police" and "finger in ear"
A responsible mod needs to delete it otherwise we we never be able to have a sensible and friendly exchange of ideas
Have fun
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 03:14 AM

You are all drifting off the original question as asked by 'spaw. Rest his soul. The term 'defines' in the title is nothing to do with the definitions you are discussing. He was asking who, to you, is the folk act that you would suggest typifies folk music. In his owm words, "Who defines Folk based on the same criterion as Ellington defining Jazz?"

If spaw was around today I am sure he would have a choice, accurate and very humourous phrase to describe those arguing about something entirely different :-)


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 03:31 AM

Sorry, Jim, but I disagree. The definition of folk music can be a worthy enterprise, but it's nothing to get in a tizzy about because, in the end, the definition is necessarily arbitrary and a matter of opinion. We can say that some people think that folk music is this; but then in fairness, we have to admit that other people think that folk music is that - and both are perfectly valid opinions. The phenomenon of folk music lies within the parameters of the various definitions.

Now, it is certainly valid to specify a definition of folk music to be used within a particular study or endeavor, but I do not believe that an absolute and all-encompassing definition is possible.

But where achieving an exact definition is futile, the exploration of the phenomenon of folk music can be quite fruitful - as proved by the two excellent books titled Folk Song in England.

So, Jim, if the word "purist" is abusive, would you prefer the term "diva"? ;-)

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 03:48 AM

Definition can only be a matter of opinion if both have been thought out and argued for - we have a definition which first came into being way back in the 1840s - no-one yet has successfully contradicted the one that has been used since - there are libraries full
Terms lke "purist" and now "diva" are offensive terms which make me avoid people who use them like the plague
A mod using them on a forum dedicated to the traditional arts is downright irresponsible
You really are little different from the individual we fell out over recently - insulting other posters has no place here
Enjoy your company
Jim


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Rain Dog
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 04:19 AM

Just as a matter of interest, what were the other 1,953 definitions of folk?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 04:31 AM

Jim

15 Feb 19 - 03:48 AM

we have a definition which first came into being way back in the 1840s

09 Feb 19 - 02:48 PM

The term 'folk' was first used in 1846 by William Thom, antiquarian to identify people's culture - folklore in particular.
It wasn't a definition - it was an acknowledgement that 'ordinary' people had a separate culture worth identifying and was later applied to song and music.


Do we have a definition going back to the 1840s or is it not a definition? It can't be both!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 04:32 AM

And all this still has sweet FA to do with the original concept of the thread. Which was interesting.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 04:37 AM

Blessed are the pure in heart, Jim, for they shall see God.

Jesus didn't think being thought of as a purist was abuse.

I don't see why you are so shy about the term...purist.

Your concept of 'folk music' is a million miles variance from common English usage. Evrerything from Ralph McTell, to James Taylor, Neil Young - I heard all those called folk music at the funeral this week of someone who thought of herself, and whom the world thought of, as a folk music aficionado.

Its a term like 'sea-green incorruptible'. You know your colours - why not nail 'purity' proudly to the mast. Sing if you're glad to be gay, and all that...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Iains
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 05:00 AM

Joe I quite like your idea that a tune/song needs history to become folkmusic. Much of that 60's material is way over a generation in age, but I would still label it contemporary out of deference to those that have researched and collected a huge body of "traditional"material.
Maybe I am not explaining it very well but I have a problem with below:
for it is the re-fashioning and re-creation of the music by the community that gives it its folk character. and oral transmission
Is this in reality sloppy transcription and lack of a pitch perfect ear as the song migrates through the community. We have many examples on this forum of lyrics being misheard when transcribed. It is very very easily done. There is a counter argument that once a song is collected it is effectively fossilised and further variance is frowned on.I would argue that today very little refashioning and re-creation(whatever that means) occurs. The dawning of electronics in everyone's hands further stifles evolution because a perfect copy can be captured. Additionally today there is a commercial aspect comes into play. Airtime is far more likely for popular tunes/songs and I would argue this had far more influence on the popularity of folk music in the 60's in the UK, than Peter the painter types in scruffy duffel coats gibbering in garrets.

Folk encompasses a broad church, why not celebrate this rather than trying to stitch it into little boxes that simply create argument.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 05:17 AM

"Blessed are the pure in heart, Jim, for they shall see God."
Your facile comments are only stirring things up Al
Will discuss your point of anoother thread Dave - the mods have advised us to steer clear of the trolls
Jim


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 05:21 AM

Good point, Jim.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 06:12 AM

The lady whose funeral I attended ran a folk club for many years and was well respected within the folk community. She booked many trad acts.

The only one being arrogant dismissive and bloody ignorant is you and your toadies.

Good point....?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 06:20 AM

I felt the same when I attended the numerous funerals of older sings like Walter Pardon, Mikeen McCarthy, Ewan MacColl, Charles Parker... and the many others who gained my respect - wonder if they count as my "toadies" - I got my views from the time I spent talking to and listening to them
Sadly
Jim


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 06:44 AM

The good point is "Will discuss your point of another thread Dave - the mods have advised us to steer clear of the trolls ", Al.

If there is any way of misinterpreting something, someone on Mudcat will find it and proceed to take offence...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 08:51 AM

I'm well aware of your contribution. And I admire it immensely. However this attitude of claiming to the alpha and omega of folksong is really insulting to people who have stuck with the English folk club scene.

At the funeral - the character running it said this some of Julie's favourite folk music a song by Neil Young, and she played a record by James Taylor. That is the view of folk music by the general public. They haven't got a bleeding clue, but they use the term, its in common usage.

Julie booked lots of artists specialising in trad folk music... Carthy, Tim Laycock, Derek and Kitty ,,,,
However its possible that someone played a Buddy Holly Song. So what..no one's balls dropped off.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 09:59 AM

'Is this definition open to improvement, and do you have any suggestions as to how it can be improved. Dick Miles'

IMO the only improvement we can give it is to stop calling it a definition, something that is 'finite'. It isn't, as Joe quite rightly says. Nothing wrong at all with the descriptors. I use them all the time.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Andy7
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 04:27 PM

"That which we call a folk song
By any other name would sound as sweet."


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 07:34 PM

hread #58230   Message #3976795
Posted By: Dave the Gnome
15-Feb-19 - 04:32 AM
Thread Name: Who Defines 'Folk'????
Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????

And all this still has sweet FA to do with the original concept of the thread. Which was interesting.


Maybe so, Dave, but the subject drifted off the original topic way back in 2009, or maybe earlier. Perhaps the thread would have stayed on topic if it had been titled Whose Music Defines Folk?

But to answer that question (did I note that you yourself failed to answer it?), I would say that the Copper Family and Ewan MacColl best define "folk" in the UK, and Pete Seeger in the US - and they all illustrate vastly different definitions. I wouldn't venture a guess about "definers" in Ireland, Scotland, Australia, and NZ - although Jimmy Crowley might be a pretty good "definer" in Ireland.

As for purists, I was blown away to see a Mudcatter find the term offensive. I would define a "purist" as someone who has a narrow, rigid understanding of something and an inability to accommodate opposing or broader perspectives. Well, maybe it IS offensive, but it's a fact of life in so many realms of discussion. But I think I'm a purist in many ways myself, and I'm proud of it. I'm a stickler for accuracy and attribution in any research I'm involved in, and many people think I'm a "purist" because of that - and they're right.

But yeah, I'll vote for the Coppers, Ewan MacColl, Pete Seeger, and Jimmy Crowley. They define what I think folk music is and ought to be. But as with definitions, I assert that such things are matters of opinion.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 08:56 PM

its only offensive, if you feel no one else has the right to use the term 'folk music'. despite the fact that the world uses the term freely and imprecisely and at will.

'purist' to me marks out the territory occupied by traditionalists here and probably in the USA. Sam Larner rather than Cat Stevens. Frank Profit rather Peter Paul and Mary. no offence is intended - it is a simple use of language that most people would understand.

Language is not the possession of one sector of the community. "Folk' has flown the coop and it used by all and sundry - not just academics - but also record companies and funeral directors.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 09:23 PM

Big Al Whittle says: "Folk' has flown the coop and it used by all and sundry - not just academics - but also record companies and funeral directors.

That bit about funeral directors made me cringe, because I have to deal with what people want for funerals occasionally, and I have to insist that it be "appropriate for liturgy." (i.e., not a recording of Sinatra's "My Way"). But anyhow, I do think it is worthwhile to give definitions of "folk" and other things, but then I think we need to specify the parameters for which a particular definition is valid. For the sake of discussion or research or study, we have to ensure that words mean the same thing to everyone (like "purist," for example).

I think we have to accept the fact that, like other words, "folk" means various things in various situations. I don't particularly care what "folk" means in record bins and Spotify playlists, but I do care what the word means in serious discussions of traditional music. And for that matter, I'm much more comfortable with the word "traditional."

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Feb 19 - 11:47 PM

Well there lies the problem. Some people would say Dave Van Ronk was traditional. certainly, much of his material is traditional in source. Similarly Martin Carthy in this country.

But to a purist. Those people are not traditional folk singers.

To the best of my understanding (and I'm happy to stand corrected) a traditional folk artist is someone who performs traditional material from their community. Singing only, in their role as a folksinger, the repertoire of that community.

Everything is else is vapid showbusiness. Men and women chasing filthy lucre. Lost souls in an anomic society.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 16 Feb 19 - 12:12 AM

'folk' 'purist' - just words.. sticks n stones and all that...

I, and a huge majority of other sensible folks, are just getting sick and tired
of full grown supposedly mature adults
getting so offended and over reacting,
having hissy fits over what they deem to be 'wrong' words...

we're effin fed up with it...

So much over sensitive stupidity has got into so many folks heads this last few years...!!!???

..and here at mudcat we're not even geting bogged down in controversy about use of inflamatory race and sexuality trigger words...

but 'purist' FFS...!!!!!?????


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 16 Feb 19 - 03:51 AM

I did fail to answer it, Joe. Sorry. The question does limit us to just one answer though so I will cheat and nominate a group. The Battlefield Band. :-)


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Iains
Date: 16 Feb 19 - 05:06 AM

One person who arguably was on the scene very early on was Alex Campbell. He started busking in the fifties and to my mind had a huge influence on the folk scene by encouraging younger artists. Sandy Denny first appeared on vinyl on one of his LPs.
"Campbell became involved in the folk music revival taking place in London and met Ewan MacColl, who was an influential figure in the folk movement. However, the two men disagreed on their approaches to folk music, with MacColl taking a very purist view that people should only sing music from their own regional background, whereas Campbell had an eclectic repertoire and sang whatever he liked, whether it was a Scottish Ballad, an English folksong or an American work song."

This split yet inter-relationship is perfectly exemplified by :
MacColl (then married to Jean Newlove) had fallen in love with Peggy Seeger. In 1958, when Peggy Seeger's UK work permit expired, Alex Campbell agreed to a marriage of convenience with her. On 24 January 1959, he married her in Paris. Seeger's USA passport had been withdrawn, and this marriage prevented deportation, and was, according to Seeger "a platonic relationship".[6] Seeger has described the wedding ceremony as "hilarious": at the time she was seven months pregnant with Ewan MacColl's baby and the officiating priest lectured Campbell about his forthcoming lifetime commitment to "the poor girl whom he had got into so much trouble". The following day, Seeger returned to London and settled down with MacColl.[7] Campbell himself settled down with his eventual wife, Patsy, and had two sons.

Both men sang/performed folk music. One according to a very rigid definition, the other far more elastic and eclectic. Both in their own peculiar ways correct. Any definition needs to recognise this!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Feb 19 - 05:10 AM

He went through some strange phases. But I liked Alex Campbell. I liked more of his gigs than i didn't.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 16 Feb 19 - 06:00 AM

I would agree with Iains above re Alex Campbell and personally believe that he was very influential on the scene from when he first came back from busking in Paris with Joe Locker. He was an entertainer with a wide repertoire and an ability to create a great rapport with the audience.
When Joe went back to the States the Malcolm Nixon Agency kept Alex on as a solo act. He certainly gave value for money whenever I booked him which was frequently.
The first time I saw Alex solo was at a Ballads & Blues evening at a pub in Paddington Green. I think he had been invited up from the floor as I don't think Ewan would have booked him but he had the audience in his hand that night with music & his between songs patter. This was in the days before Ewan & Peggy left their resident performer gig and set up the Singers Club.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 16 Feb 19 - 07:31 AM

Perhaps the thread would have stayed on topic if it had been titled Whose Music Defines Folk?

Perhaps life as well as music. I'd suggest Victor Jara.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Feb 19 - 08:47 AM

Alex Campbell was correct.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Feb 19 - 01:30 PM

Victor Jara is a terrific nomination, Jack. There are lots of Victor Jara performances on YouTube. It's well worth our time to watch a few.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Feb 19 - 03:12 PM

Someone different for everybody I should imagine, and as well as that it would be silly to put that onus/accolade on just one person, so we are just being asked for our own personal preferences I suppose.

In the UK I would propose Harry Cox, using the traditional sources,
Norma Waterson always my biggest and initial influence, and of the new youngsters I don't think Cohen Brathwaite Kilcoyne can be bettered.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 17 Feb 19 - 03:56 AM

I hadn't heard of Cohen until Nick Dow mentioned him to me a couple of weeks back. Yes, I know I must go round with my eyes and ears shut. I have since looked him up and, yes, he is terrific.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Vic Smith
Date: 17 Feb 19 - 06:24 AM

I don't think Cohen Brathwaite Kilcoyne can be bettered.
Totally agree both as a solist and with the trio Granny's Attic. I think Cohen is the best, most interesting singer/musician to come into English folk music in a long time, Such a modest young man to interview as well and clearly working very hard and carefully on his music. I don't think he has any idea of how good he is.
Never miss a chance to see this young man as a soloist or as part of the trio.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 18 Feb 19 - 12:49 PM

One night at the Marsden club in the sixties, Alex Campbell did three songs all night but the crack inbetween was great!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Iains
Date: 18 Feb 19 - 01:44 PM

Although he did not perform it, the craic was 90.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 20 Feb 19 - 12:53 PM

It’s either Jim Carroll or iTunes genre algorithm.

Take your choice then ignore anyway.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Feb 19 - 03:42 PM

Hi Ian. What's wrong with Spotify? :-)


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 02:25 AM

"It’s either Jim Carroll or iTunes genre algorithm. "
I only look into this with some amusement - I 've already said I want no part in it
I've always considered it somewhat despicable to talk behind someones back
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Andy7
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 03:07 AM

There is a kind of paradox here.

If you believe that almost everyone can, and should, sing - which I strongly do! - then hopefully, more people who are inexperienced singers will join a folk club, will have a go, and will gradually improve, with guidance and encouragement from those more experienced.

On the other hand - if a lot of people go along to that same club hoping for an evening's entertainment provided by high quality singers, they are likely to be disappointed by hearing so many they would describe as mediocre or worse, and probably won't come back - they'll go to concerts or watch experienced performers on YouTube instead.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Howard Jones
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 04:47 AM

The idea that everyone can sing is a laudable one, but bitter experience shows that this is not true. By all means have gatherings where people can be encouraged to sing in a supportive and uncritical environment, but let's not call these folk clubs. A folk club should be a place where one can expect to hear folk music, in all its aspects, performed by people with at least some level of expertise. Self-help sessions for people just learning the craft have their place, but shouldn't be marketed as public entertainment.

One of the problems with the sort of song session I have described is that there is little pressure on people to improve, if they will be applauded and encouraged simply for attempting to sing, no matter how poor their performance. As I said in another thread, if you're a club floor singer about to go on just before Martin Carthy it does encourage you to up your game.

There is a parallel world for instrumentalists, where there are "slow sessions" for those unable to keep up in a normal session. The difference is that these players are usually well aware of their limitations, and go to slow sessions in order to improve to the level where they can participate in normal sessions. I haven't seen this level of self-awareness or willingness to improve at a lot of song sessions, which is why I now largely avoid them.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Andy7
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 05:00 AM

The difference between singers and instrumentalists is that, apart from those with a physical reason not to be able to do so, anyone can open their mouth and start singing; whereas an instrumentalist has had to buy or otherwise acquire an instrument and learn at least some basic skills before they can join in even a slow session. So the instrumentalists are more likely to be aware of their own level and limitations.

However, although they can, people so often don't just open their mouths and sing. Largely gone are the days of family and pub singalongs around the piano, and singing (or whistling) at work. Folk club singarounds at least try to replicate an environment where everyone that wants to can have a go at singing, either solo, or joining in the choruses. I doubt whether very many people would go along to a session called, for example, "For beginners: come and improve your singing technique", as opposed to a friendly and relaxed folk club singaround.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 05:07 AM

Well said Howard. I went to a club several years ago when there were around 8 floor singers before the booked guest in each half of the night resulting in the guest ( a well established songwriter) having very short spots. All were dire. Needless to say we never went back - I believe the club is closed now! At the clubs I frequent most often there are a maximum of three floor singers before each guest performance so people get what they pay for


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 05:40 AM

If you wanted a floor spot on a guest night at a certain folk club I know then you had to 'audition' for it on a singers night at the same club. If you were not good enough, you did not get on. I think that is fair enough and the same club went on to win the folk club of the year award presented at the BBC folk awards so I guess other people agreed. :-)


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 10:48 AM

I'm going off on a bit of a tangent which I'll call

"Who defines folk in the wider public perception..."

Essentially, my excuse for another moan about middle class folkie arrogance and their sense of superiority and entitlement..

Back in the late 1980s I went home from London for a few days to see family and old mates..

I met my mates for an afternoon pint in the small bar of the local Arts centre
which had been our second home since Youth Theatre in the 1970s..

We were enjoying catching up and joking about, when suddenly a small group of upper middle class hippy types at another table
suddenly stood telling us all to shoosh up..

Then a young woman took centre room and started singing long trad folk ballads..

granted she was pretty and had a lovely voice..

But me and my mates, slightly inebriated punky new wave blokes in our 20s,
were subjected to her family/friends giving us the stern evil eye
if we even looked like we were going to open our mouths to continue our abruptly interupted matey banter...

It wsan't a folk session of any sort, they hadn't been boooked or invited,
but just strolled in and took over the bar like it was their god given right...

Bloody stuck up middle class folkies..

Now me and some of my punky mates were actually also folk fans, despite our appearance,
but if we hadn't been
those selfish full of themselves middle class shits would not have converted us......


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 03:02 PM

>>>>>It wsan't a folk session of any sort, they hadn't been boooked or invited,
but just strolled in and took over the bar like it was their god given right...<<<<<<

That is rude and arrogant however you look at it.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 04:18 PM

Agreed ..... but the "middle class shits" do not have a monopoly on it.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 04:55 PM

Yes, arrogant shits can be found in most communities but it does have a greater tendency to follow the money.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Observer
Date: 21 Feb 19 - 08:19 PM

Tonight a visit to my local "Folk Club".

Four hours of music, only two folk songs sung, the rest God knows what genre they belonged to, but all instantly forgettable - complete and utter self- pretentious dross. Now only one hour having left the place can I not recall or remember a single line of an lyric sung throughout the entire night.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Feb 19 - 12:16 AM

PFR perhaps the fault lay with you, or perhaps the fault lay with the landlord, he could have made it clear what he preferred,
on the other hand those people may have been the majority in the bar,they may be spending more money than you they coyld have considered you arrogant little shits.
i think the fault lay with the pub owner, he only has to make it clear what he prefers


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 22 Feb 19 - 08:19 AM

Sandman - yesterday I was in the mood for a moan about something that happened over 30 years ago..
..as best I could remember it...

so you chipping in now theorising exactly who's to blame is a bit pointless so long after the event...

f@ck knows who they were, who the bar manager was and what he was doing, and how many pints were sold that afternoon...

There's unfortunately insufficient evidence and witnesses [reliable or otherwise..] to satisfy public interest for a full invstigative enquiry...

To be honest, I'm not even certain now if it happened in the 1980s or 1990s...
as I'm sure many more pints were sunk later that afternoon and evening.....

Though I do believe such a stuck up supercilious middle class folkie mindset still prevails in UK folk culture to this day....

.. perhaps even more so....?????

..and that "casting pearls before swine" attitude sure don't help present a good welcoming inclusive image of trad folk
to the perception of the mass of ordiary modern music lovers...???


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Feb 19 - 09:00 AM

Whatever, dear boy. Xx


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 22 Feb 19 - 09:11 AM

GUEST - precisely, folkie condescension at it's finest...

thank you for agreeing and confirming my point...xxx


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Feb 19 - 01:42 PM

Jolly good. Carry on. Bung ho !


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Feb 19 - 02:29 PM

Sorry, what is middle class about wanting to sing songs in a conducive attitude. I repeat the fault lay with the publican, all he has to do is speak politely to both sides it is his pub ,not yours or the shoosing singers


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Andy7
Date: 22 Feb 19 - 03:08 PM

I think my right to free speech gives me the authority to march into any pub, at any time, start singing at the top of my voice, and tell all the other punters to shut up and listen.

Just off into the town centre to try out my theory ... should be a fun Friday night!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: John P
Date: 22 Feb 19 - 04:19 PM

There are a couple of discussions happening here.

Who defines folk? At my house, I do. At the vast majority of performances I've done, it is irrelevant. No one cares except for a few pedants.

Should bad singers get up and sing in public? God, no. Please learn your craft before taking it out in public, and please stop encouraging those who haven't. If you are never going to be good enough to perform, please don't perform. Just like me not flying an airplane or performing surgery.

I like that folk music is, more than other genres, participatory. I think it is important for non-performers to be able to take part. Camps, living room sessions, workshops, and the shower are all appropriate venues.

I spend a lot of time encouraging people to make music, and sitting with beginners and amateurs so they can experience playing music with and learning from others. Part of what I tell them is that if they want to go farther, they need to practice a lot, and have some way of evaluating their skills.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Feb 19 - 03:45 AM

well andy 7, in my local village in ireland i could do just that if i wanted , which illusrates the difference culturally between ireland and england,neither would it be considered middle class.
this is because there is still a respect for trad music
   in fact last year myself and jim bainbridge did turn up in a rural pub in kent [we both knew the land lady[ but had not made any prior arrangement and we sat down and had a great session of songs and tunes, and that was in the uk.
it is more a question of picking the right place [ that means prior knowledge] layout [ preferably two bars and not shooshing people]., and how you do it.
however in PFRS CASE THE FAULT LAY WITH THE PUB OWNER OR MANAGER, in not clarifying what he wanted in the pub


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 23 Feb 19 - 04:44 AM

Who defines folk?
Jim does, with increasing anger when challenged!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 23 Feb 19 - 05:50 AM

jim who?- not me!!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Feb 19 - 03:34 AM

The People


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Feb 19 - 04:12 AM

"Jim does, with increasing anger when challenged!"
Not me bro -
In contrast to those who have chosen to abuse and insult, I have done neither to anybody - feel free to show me wheer that has not been the case
I would love to claim the honour of having defined folk song, but that happened long before my time - the fact that people choose to ignore that fact says everything that needs to be said
"The People"
99.9% of the people neither know or care a toss about folk song - if their opinion counted folk song doesn't exist
Folk song is among the most carefully researched, documented and reported musical forms -those who don't know what it is don't want to know
Go buy a book or a thousand - it's all there
You don't even have to read a detaied description - you just flick through the massive eight volume' Greig Duncan Folk Song Collection, or search out massive Carpenter Folk Song Collection on line
Does anybody have an equivalent example to offer? - I won't hokld my breath !!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Iains
Date: 26 Feb 19 - 11:04 AM

https://www.encyclopedia.com/literature-and-arts/performing-arts/music-popular-and-jazz/folk-music


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 26 Feb 19 - 12:08 PM

When we've eventually exhausted this thread...

We could always have a go at...

Who Defies 'Folk'???? and Who Defiles 'Folk'????...???


Yep, guess I'd have to nominate myself for both........


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Iains
Date: 27 Feb 19 - 03:26 AM

How about who defends folk? The three offer scope for endless argument!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 27 Feb 19 - 03:36 AM

Who...
Defines
Defiles
Defends
Defenestrates
Deforests
Defibrillates
Deforms
Defoliates
and Defrags
Folk?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 27 Feb 19 - 08:00 AM

Describes
Divides
Delights
Denies
Descales
Depraves
DeLoreans...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 27 Feb 19 - 08:42 AM

Denudes?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 27 Feb 19 - 09:04 AM

Destroys.....


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Rain Dog
Date: 27 Feb 19 - 09:32 AM

Defenestrates


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Mark
Date: 27 Feb 19 - 09:34 AM

It's probably most traditional to Deflower.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Rain Dog
Date: 27 Feb 19 - 09:39 AM

Ooops

Just noticed that defenestrates was mentioned just a few posts before. Of course the defenestrates that I mentioned was a later and more shattering version.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 27 Feb 19 - 09:59 AM

Was that transparent or is it just a pane?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Rain Dog
Date: 27 Feb 19 - 10:04 AM

Could have been frosted. I cannot remember which club I heard it in. I need to check with Nick Lowe.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 27 Feb 19 - 10:11 AM

Destabilises
Denounces
Depilates...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Feb 19 - 12:40 PM

nice to read a bit of humor in a mudcat 'folk' discussion


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Snuffy
Date: 27 Feb 19 - 01:29 PM

Deep Ends


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Feb 19 - 02:39 PM

Do the folk police issue de fines?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 27 Feb 19 - 04:48 PM

Delirious
Delectable
Detainable
Detestable...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Stringsinger
Date: 02 Mar 19 - 02:31 PM

Having thought about this question for a number of years I've come out with my definition. Folk music is accessible to people. That's why it reaches so many.
When it becomes esoteric or rarified it loses its meaning. It's generally a simple musical statement without being simplistic. It's unaffected. Academics have tried unsuccessfully to define it. Record companies have also. It is always redolent of where it came from, a cultural base. It may not be popular now but it will go on when all popular trends in music have disappeared. Why? Because we need it. It tells us who we are.

The time has come like democracy for people to reclaim it.

It defines itself.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Mar 19 - 02:42 PM

"The time has come like democracy for people to reclaim it."
Wish I'd said all that String - my feelings exactly
"Do the folk police issue de fines?"
Probably as often as trolls come out from under their bridges
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Mar 19 - 04:03 PM

I suggest some people go back and read the OP. This has been more thread-drift than thread.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Mar 19 - 02:17 AM

"Who defines Folk based on the same criterion as Ellington defining Jazz?"         .......the question suggests to me an international outlook , therefore one would have to look at many people at least one from every country


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Mar 19 - 02:30 AM

Isn't it interesting that when questions become uncomfortable someone decides them to be "thread drift"
Never fails
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 03 Mar 19 - 11:42 AM

Who Divines 'Folk'????

An expert blessed with mystical senses, who holds magical sticks in close proximity to singers and musicians.
If the stick twitches positively, it's folk...!!!


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Iains
Date: 03 Mar 19 - 12:40 PM

would that be traditional or contemporary?


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 03 Mar 19 - 12:58 PM

Depends if it's a wooden or metal stick...

..a folk rock divining rod might need batteries...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 03 Mar 19 - 01:07 PM

..though, a cheap Chinese mass manfactured plastic stick
should be sufficient for Ed Sheeran and Mumford & Sons...


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Andy7
Date: 04 Mar 19 - 06:29 PM

Please don't nominate me to carry out the divining, I'd probably turn up a heavy metal band for you all to enjoy.

I once took part in a divining session, led by an expert, at a green festival. Mine was the only stick in the whole group that didn't twitch once, from beginning to end of the 2-hour session.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Mar 19 - 03:59 AM

Sorry about the repetition (and for spoiling the fun) - my argument, from a previous thread
Jim Carroll

Nobody can say with any certainty who made our folk songs - nobody knows who did and probably never will so we can only rely on what little we do know and common sense to even approach the question   
The suggestion that our folk songs, dealing with the real lives of real people, as they do, originated from the pens of city dwelling entertainers whose lives were as far from those depicted in the songs flies in the face of over a century's scholarship and research and in the face of logic.
The published collections of unsingable songs by bad poets - (HACKS) - who churned out their wares at a rate of knots indicate that they are the least likely to have made them - they had neither the experience to handle the subject matter nor the creative ability to pen the deathless pieces of social history that make up our folk song repertoire - Ashton, Hindley, Bagford Holloway and Black, Euing.... all fairly convincing proof, as far as I'm concerned, that they could not have made our folk songs.
        
The 19th century popular songmakers, represented in the mammoth 'Universal Songster' and the pastiche outpourings of Dibden, stand out as examples of poor and often extremely patonising (sometimes denigrating) representations of working peoples' lives, next to the insightful and sympathetic realities of the poaching and transportation songs, or the broken-token pieces describing the popular practice of exchanging 'gimmel rings', or the songs depicting the 'camp-following' women who accompanied men into battle.

Over a century of scholarship unswervingly attributed the making of these songs to the people whose lives and experiences they described
Child named them "popular" (belonging to the people) while at the same time writing off the commercial products that occasionally included the occasional folksong as "veritable dunghills"
Motherwell sharply warned against tampering with the people creations by "improving" and rewriting them   
Sharp went to great lengths to analyse their structure.
Up to comparatively recently, there has been no doubt as to who made our folk songs...
Topic Records, which dedicated its existence to making available folk songs, chose as the title of its monumental and ongoing set 'The Voice of the People', just as Lloyd, four decades earlier, entitle his 13 programme presentation for schools, 'The Songs of the People'
How could so many clever and experienced people have got it so wrong for so long?   

Pat Mackenzie and I dedicated thirty years of our lives to finding out what the remaining bearers of our 'folk songs' considered the songs they sang and how they compared them to 'The Other Songs" (Mike Yates's phrase) they also sang - apparently they got it wrong too.
Walter Pardon went to great lengths to describe the difference between his "old folk songs" and "them other old things" - his opinions were swept aside by giving everything he sang Roud numbers

I looked forward to Steve Roud's book with some anticipation, hoping it might correct some of the previous flaws in our understanding - in removing the uniqueness of our folk songs by lumping them in with the long rejected popular songs, the parlour ballads and the rest, Steve Roud's book has blurred the lines between many genres of song
Despite the fact that Roud's work is larger and far more widespread in its approach and gos into far greater detail, in my opinion it measures small next to Lloyd's book of the same name written all those years ago.
In my opinion, despite Bert's flaws and idiosyncrasies his 'Folk Song in England has a far greater understanding of the uniqueness of the genre than does the latest contender for the title .

What we learned by our field work, especially among the non-literate Travellers and the Irish singers who were still singing their songs socially up to the middle of the twentieth century was that the communities they came from produced instinctive song-makers who constantly reflected their experiences and emotions in verse whenever the occasion arose
A discussion going on at present on this forum concerning the Peterloo massacre clearly indicates that English workers were probably as prolific at songmaking.
We owe the survival of many of our greatest ballads to a cultural group who have yet to accept literacy as part of their lives – The Travellers   
      
Over the last decade or so there have been many claims that we no longer know what folk song is - little wonder, considering what has happened to the clubs.
Now, it seems that confusion has spread to the world of research.
For me, and many like me, what "folk" means has never been in dispute
Folk song is as researched and analysed as any other cultural form - there may have been disputes following the singer-songwriter phase inspired by the protest song-maker that once was, Bob Dylan,   as to what wasn't a folk song, in my experience, there has been little doubt as to what a folk song was
For me, the answer lies in the two terms "tradition and folk", often treated as separate entities but in fact two sides of the same coin - the "Folk" were the people who almost certainly made and remade the songs to suit their lives and record their personal experiences, "tradition" is the process they used to do so - I don't believe it ever gets more complicated than that.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Mar 19 - 05:23 AM

I think Stringsinger got very close to what it's all about- communication


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Mar 19 - 05:32 AM

Me too
Jim


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 11 Mar 19 - 05:28 PM

Producer-package-consumer.

You'll need all three to define any genre or style.

Jazz Age jazz was consumed for fun. Contemporary academic jazz is for liberal arts audits. Two entirely different consumers. Two very different forms of jazz.

Academics have all sorts of social, political, racial &c exclusions Jazz Age consumers were only too happy to ignore.

It applies to folk forms like calypso as well. If the Andrews Sisters or Harry Belafonte want to have a go at it, that's not a cultural issue, it's financial.


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Subject: RE: Who Defines 'Folk'????
From: Stringsinger
Date: 12 Mar 19 - 02:25 PM

For me it's experiential.

I may not immediately recognize it as people like Jim who has studied it for years can,
but when I hear it I'm moved and transported to a different space. I can sit and listen enraptured to a trad ballad through thirty verses.

I like opera, jazz, popular music, classical music and some rock but it ain't folk.

i believe that it comes from working class people who express it without the idea
of becoming show business performers.

I've sung folk songs for years but I don't consider myself a traditional folk music singer.

I believe that Horton Barker, Texas Gladden, Margaret Barry, Jeannie Robertson, Iron Head Baker, Vera Hall, Buell Kazee, and others of this genre are really folk singers.

Field hollers, lullabies, dirty songs, foc'sle ditties, blues shouts, local ballads, stories handed down in songs,protest songs, singing expressions coming out of every day lives not made for the concert stage. the recording industry, or TV.

Great classical music composers have been inspired by it, Villa-Lobos, Schubert, Beethoven, Stravinsky, Bartok, Koday, Katchaturian..the list goes on.

I had help in discovering this from Alan Lomax, Pete Seeger and more from Bess Lomax Hawes, Alan's sister.

I was fortunate enough to hear traditional folk singers live in an environment that wasn't show business oriented but in the field. Hearing it live is the best and recordings don't do it justice.


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