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Acoustic vs. Electric

freightdawg 16 Oct 03 - 07:57 PM
Clinton Hammond 16 Oct 03 - 08:07 PM
akenaton 16 Oct 03 - 08:08 PM
Blowzabella 16 Oct 03 - 08:10 PM
jimmyt 16 Oct 03 - 08:10 PM
jimmyt 16 Oct 03 - 08:15 PM
Amos 16 Oct 03 - 08:18 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 16 Oct 03 - 09:43 PM
Amos 16 Oct 03 - 10:07 PM
freightdawg 16 Oct 03 - 11:19 PM
NicoleC 17 Oct 03 - 01:34 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 17 Oct 03 - 01:50 AM
mooman 17 Oct 03 - 10:51 AM
Pied Piper 17 Oct 03 - 10:51 AM
Mark Clark 17 Oct 03 - 11:02 AM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 17 Oct 03 - 11:37 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 17 Oct 03 - 11:49 AM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 17 Oct 03 - 12:48 PM
Leadfingers 17 Oct 03 - 12:55 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 17 Oct 03 - 01:09 PM
C-flat 17 Oct 03 - 01:14 PM
freightdawg 17 Oct 03 - 01:49 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 17 Oct 03 - 02:10 PM
freightdawg 17 Oct 03 - 02:48 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 17 Oct 03 - 03:00 PM
Leadfingers 17 Oct 03 - 03:00 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 17 Oct 03 - 03:36 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 17 Oct 03 - 03:39 PM
Mark Clark 17 Oct 03 - 04:03 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Oct 03 - 04:11 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 17 Oct 03 - 04:58 PM
freightdawg 17 Oct 03 - 05:15 PM
NicoleC 17 Oct 03 - 05:23 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 17 Oct 03 - 05:31 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 17 Oct 03 - 05:51 PM
Joybell 17 Oct 03 - 06:18 PM
freightdawg 17 Oct 03 - 06:38 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 17 Oct 03 - 06:50 PM
Mark Clark 17 Oct 03 - 07:00 PM
freightdawg 17 Oct 03 - 07:43 PM
Leadfingers 17 Oct 03 - 11:16 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 18 Oct 03 - 06:29 AM
Thomas the Rhymer 18 Oct 03 - 01:46 PM
Clinton Hammond 18 Oct 03 - 01:53 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Oct 03 - 02:07 PM
GUEST 18 Oct 03 - 03:54 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Oct 03 - 04:35 PM
GUEST,Santa 19 Oct 03 - 10:37 AM
mack/misophist 19 Oct 03 - 04:04 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 19 Oct 03 - 04:33 PM
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Subject: BS: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: freightdawg
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 07:57 PM

It seems I may have offended some in another thread, and I did not want to continue with unnecessary thread drift. Therefore, I will defend my stand over here where people can beat up on me with impunity.

My feeling is this: Blues, folk, and eventually country was born not so much as musical genres but as expressions of a culture or sub-culture (is any original musical genre any different???) That is to say no one sat down one day and said, "Hey, I think I'll invent country music!" There has always been an inseparable link between the sound of blues, folk and I would argue, country, and the lyrics that convey the message. Stated another way, there is a reason Pete Seeger sounds better with a banjo and guitar than a piano and basoon.

I may be getting metaphysical here, but to me there is a connection between the pure sound of acoustic instruments and the earthy lyrics that constitute the music we celebrate here. Electric instruments, especially guitars, may have their place, but not in these genres. Their main purpose (imho)is to distort sound waves to create another sound. To my ear this works with the pop/rock of the 60's and early 70's, but it just ruins the soulful work of a haunting fiddle or the driving beat of a guitar/banjo breakdown.

Electric amplification is a necessary evil, but still the best is pure acoustic in a small setting where the instruments are allowed to sing as much and and naturally as the performer.

You may feel free to prod me with your electric picks now.


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Subject: RE: BS: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 08:07 PM

Whatever floats yer boat, but I've heard LOTS of really good folkies playing LOTS of very electric instruments..


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Subject: RE: BS: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: akenaton
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 08:08 PM

I agree with you freightdawg.   When Im looking fo a version of a song I always go for the accoustic version... And in some cases unaccompanied singing is even better...Ake


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Subject: RE: BS: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Blowzabella
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 08:10 PM

I don't think amplification is a necessary evil at all - I don't think it is necessary at all!

I have heard musicians argue that it is necessary 'for balance'. That seemes, to me, to be more of a comment on their musicianship than anything else. Take my (favourite) example - and I own up, that I am biased here. The New Scorpion band is a five piece group of multi-instrumentalists, who perform completely acoustically, including sensitive vocals with complex harmonies, with a range of instruments, from fiddles, whistles, pipes, trombones, bassoons, euphoniums, guitars, drums and portative organ! No false 'balance' required - they do this themselves. They can do this because they are consumate professionals.

No - I don't like amplified music - I know that some venues require it, but then I wouldn't be in those venues. In a quiet venue, where the music is th eobject and not just the wallpaper, i appreciate true musicianship.


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Subject: RE: BS: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: jimmyt
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 08:10 PM

Freightdawg, You will get no argument from me! We are a f member oldies folk group performang mostly old stuff ala PPand M and Limelightere, Kingston Trio stuff, and to our sound the best we are is completely nuplugged It is a necessaey evil though that larger venues require more amplification etc   but pure sound is better at least for us! I have a pretty good pickup for my upright bass that keeps as pure a sound as you can get with amplification, but still you can't beat wood and strings!


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: jimmyt
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 08:15 PM

sorry I should proofread!! four member etc!! jimmyt


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Subject: RE: BS: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Amos
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 08:18 PM

All well and good, but notice that as soon as electric instruments were more readily available, many of the best blues men took them up and made incredibly fine blues on them.

The culture and soul of blues was not harmed thereby.

A


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 09:43 PM

I certainly must submit my thoughts
Though never loathe to stir these pots
Electrics do pervade the day
And thoroughly... you'll hear me say

For digital most 'lectrons are
and all recordings near and far
With microphones we adepts may
sing to many, and CDs play

So splitting hairs sends more fur flying
And less is more, acoustic lying
For only 'live' true resonation
Is actually the send sensation

So pleasing few is more authentic
But many more might not resent it
If modern modes of transporations
Do usher in 'plugged' inspirations
ttr


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Amos
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 10:07 PM

[applause]]]]:>)

A


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: freightdawg
Date: 16 Oct 03 - 11:19 PM

Mr Thomas your lines are witty
and often are a perfect fit;
but I must admit, much to my own pity,
more often than not, I cannot understand it.

Thanks for the lines, I'm busy decoding as we speak. :)

To add insult to injury, beneath this little box I am typing in is an advertisement for an "electric acoustic guitar." ARRGGGH!

Maybe I'll just crawl back under my rock where so many think I belong.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: NicoleC
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 01:34 AM

There are some who would say that acoustic instruments are tragically un-hip and archaic. Then there are those that think electrification is some sort of abomination.

I suspect that when Og the caveman tried different sizes of logs and sticks to beat together, some thought that he was creating awful noises that weren't the "pure" traditional sound of stick on log.

Electric is not less nor more, it's just different. A true musician will select the appropriate instrument (or lack thereof) and degree of electrification to express her music -- the rest is simply ephemera.

While you may enjoy avoiding electric, remember that those acoustic instruments you are playing haven't remained static in their appearance and sound over the decades and centuries, and are not some sort of fixed media that reproduces the song as it was originally intended.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 01:50 AM

NicoleC... you are clearly an veritable joy!

freightdawg... I've never understood a single word of it...;^)
ttr


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: mooman
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 10:51 AM

I agree entirely with NicoleC.

I have three good guitars: a custom-necked flattop acoustic, a carved archtop semiacoustic and a custom solid electric. I love all three (though tend to play the first two a lot more than the solid) but would pick "the right tool for the job" either for enjoyment playing at home, gigging or recording.

All my other acoustic instruments (mandolin, octave mandola, etc.) are fitted for amplification (usually with the utterly excellent PUTW #27 to give a plug for another 'Catters fine product! This gives a pretty "true" acoustic sound and I usually use them with a dedicated "acoustic" amp).

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Pied Piper
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 10:51 AM

Blowzabella, try doing a Ceilidh for 50 without PA.
Is it a wonder the "folk" movement disappeared up its own arse.
PP


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 11:02 AM

This discussion may be more about the listener's ear or perhaps his politics than it is about music or instruments. The fact is, today, it's tough to find any music that isn't electonically enhanced and reproduced in some way. Unless you are literally in your parlor listening to a live rendition on unamplified instruments, you are listening to amplified music.

The imagined acoustical purity of a bluegrass band wouldn't sound like much in an auditorium without microphones and amplifiers. The electronics are needed not so much to amplify the sound—some large auditoriums are acoustically able to transmit and sustain the instruments own sound—but to allow the musicians to balance the sound. The ensemble effect we identify with bluegrass would be very difficult to get right without the ability to balance the volume of each instrument with the whole group and to turn up the volume on the lead instrument. This balancing may be done by the musicians controling their proximity to the microphone (pickup) or by a sound technician on a large board.

Even a single singer/guitarist in a pub or coffee house relies on one or two pickups (microphones) to balance the volume of voice and instrument. An amplified instrument is merely one in which the microphone (pickup) has been incorporated into the instrument itself.

An electric guitar isn't, by itself, a statement on taste or purity, it's just a different instrument capable of things an acoustic instrument can't do. Of course there is also music that is ill suited to the electric guitar but that sounds good on an accoustic one. The great Doc Watson played electric guitars until his audience changed and it became important for him to stay on acoustic instruments. Who would want to hear Herb Ellis on a Martin flattop? For that matter, who would want to hear Mario Escudaro or Carlos Montoya play their music on a Martin flattop? Only the highly refined flemenco guitar is suited to their music.

All this ignores the fact that—unlike the vinyl LPs that still dominate my collection—CD's don't contain any remnent of the acoustic waveform that was the original music. What the CD contains is data. The replay electronics use the data on the CD to mathematically compute a waveform similar to that of the original sound. The sound is clean because data representing noise aren't saved.

I count myself among those who love the sound of acoustic instruments but I also join those who love the sound of electric instruments. They have different purposes but music on one is no less delightful than music on another. After all, it's the performer we're trying to touch and we must allow the performer to touch us in the way he chooses.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 11:37 AM

Freightdawg

You kind of remind me of that older person, perhaps someone's parent in the other room yelling, "turn that shit down!"

Ever hear an electric pedal steel guitar sound haunting? Go back to that great American folk singer Hank Williams.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 11:49 AM

I love cheese, but there is something about blue cheese that turns me off. It doesn't mean that I think blue cheese is bad because I know my wife loves it and she obviously has good taste. Neither one of us make fun of the others choice in cheese. I do not try to reason that blue cheese does not belong in the cheese family. She does not try to force me to eat blue cheese. There is plenty of space for all kinds of cheeses in our refrigerator. There are days when I have a hankering for cheddar and other days a nice smokey gouda serves me well. We all have different tastes.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 12:48 PM

True about tastes.

Do you know how many old guys I've met or either jammed with that say and think that it ain't right unless you play it like Bill Monroe did?


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Leadfingers
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 12:55 PM

My only problem with Electric Instruments is VOLUME but the same applies to amplified acoustic instruments.If the overall sound is
such that it becomes impossible to have a normal conversation in a live music bar the sound is TOO LOUD.Other than that I have no difficulty in listening to ANY good music.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 01:09 PM

Martin, I agree with you. I've always felt that folk music is a living tradition. Monroe, and others, developed their own style. Imitation can be flattering, but shouldn't the inovation continue? People created the music on whatever instruments they had available. I'm sure that if electricity were readily available hundreds of years ago, troubadors would have had amps and Fender guitars.

I happen to love acoustic music that would be defined as "traditional" and I find myself listening to that type of music most of the time. I like it straight up with as little production as possible. However, I also happen to love many singer-songwriters who add electric instruments that aren't considered "folkie".   Why should I have to choose?    Sorry Freightdawg, I just don't think it is necessary to put everything in such tight boxes.   Like a good buffet table (here I go with another food analogy) I think it is best to have variety and people can pick and choose what they like.   Nothing has to be "the best".

Leadfingers - why have a "normal" conversation in any live music bar? If you are there to hear the music, isn't it rude to have a conversation while it is being played - acoustic or electric???

Ron


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: C-flat
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 01:14 PM

I agree that, on occassion, amplified instruments can be unneccessarily loud but when you're playing as part of a band you do need to be heard over the sound of the drum kit and whatever else is in your line up.
Some landlords and event organisers don't always realise this and, whilst always willing to oblige where possible, the accoustic sound of a drum kit is the very lowest starting point above which the levels of the other instrumentation and vocals must be set.
If it's still too loud, they've booked the wrong act!

As far as the debate of accoustic over electric, I'm with the "whatever's right for the job" group although I'm always happiest playing my accoustic unplugged. I spent quite a lot of cash trying to acheive that "unplugged" amplified sound and I'm almost there but............


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: freightdawg
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 01:49 PM

Love the comments, and I do agree with most, or shall I say the prevailing thread.

I too love electrical guitars when they are in their element: namely the pop/rock that evolved in the 60's and 70's. Believe it or nay, one group I love listening to for their sound and lyrics is the Eagles. I cannot imagine them being purely "unplugged." They might sound really good, but it wouldn't be what hooked me and what has made them recognizable. (However, I would not consider them "country," as do a few of my friends.)

Nor would I try to play Vivaldi on my 12 string. It might sound okay (don't know, never tried), but it would sound, I don't know if this is a musical term or not, just goofy.

That being said, I just appreciate hearing the unadorned acoustics of a guitar or banjo accompanying the voices of real artists, ala Peter Paul and Mary standing around a three (or, more accurately a five) place microphone stand. Yes, the microphones are necessary in some locales, but their purpose is to carry the soundwaves, not to create, distort, or reshape in some way.

To join in the food analogy: green chile is one of my favorite foods. I put them in my eggs, mix them with corn, or just put them flat on a tortilla and melt cheese over them. I would just never put them on top of my vanilla ice cream. Everything has its place.

Thanks again for the input (no pun intended) : )

freightdawg


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 02:10 PM

Freightdawg - once again, it is all a matter of taste. Based on your notes, it seems that YOUR ears have become accustomed to certain sounds and you are having a tough time with something that appears out of the "norm". Who gets to choose when an electric guitar is in its "element"?   Based on your notes, I am guessing that you grew up with the pop/rock sounds of the 60's and 70's. It is easy to associate those sounds with the electric guitar and anything else sounds foreign.

Innovation and tinkering with "tradition" gave us R&B, western swing, bluegrass, rock and roll and so many other sounds.   Bethanny Yarrow came out with an interesting CD of "folk" songs - songs that most of us would recognize as traditional music, but she geared her music for the electronica crowd.   Granted, many people weaned on "folk" music might not like it, but does that matter?   There is music for all of us out there.

By the way, your Green Chile Ice Cream is not out of the question. Everyone has different tastes, and while you may not sit down and enjoy a bowl, there is someone who will love it.

green chile ice cream


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: freightdawg
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 02:48 PM

Is this a grand country or what???

me thinks I've seen it all now.

I understand this is all about taste and comfort levels, and I know music changes and evolves.

Maybe this discussion comes down more to definitions than instruments. To me "folk" transcends age, economic, political and geographical lines. At one time I would say "country" did as well. Once something is changed, or added, or deleted, etc., in order to make it appealing to a specific group apart from the larger group it then becomes a sub-culture of the original. I would argue that country has morphed, or been morphed, into something different from its roots. Some would say that's a good thing, I would take the opposite approach. I narrowed my venomous bark (much worse than my bite) against electric instruments because they are probably the most visible (or audible) manifestation of the change. I think folk has avoided this change on a wholesale level as opposed to country simply because of the nature of the beast. It's just a lot easier to carry an acoustic guitar on your back than it is a truck full of amps, mixers, etc.

In my opinion, that is the way it should be. I know others have different opinions, that's why I started the thread. I would also like to know what folks think electricity "adds" to folk that is not there to begin with. As you can probably tell, I think it actually detracts from the lyrics, etc., but I am open to hear what others think.

As of now I remain,

chastened, but not converted,

freightdawg


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 03:00 PM

Your arguement is somewhat ridiculous if you consider that an accoustic guitar is way too out of the box for "the way it's supposed to be" if folk music was originally sung completely unaccompanied by any instrument.

Wouldn't those singers think your accoustic guitar was unneccessary to what they consider "their" pure sound?


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Leadfingers
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 03:00 PM

Ron :- It is nicer to SAY 'Are you ready for another drink ?'than to
shout it at the top of your voice. Apart from which, I find that the odd appreciative comment does tend to happen,even when its one of MY gigs.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 03:36 PM

The fiddle, which is a staple of what we consider TRADITIONAL Irish music, really did not come into use until the 18th century in Ireland, and even then it was used by more wealthy musicians - not the average family. As Martin points out, singers have their own feelings about instruments.   I've heard stories about Joe Heaney, the incredible sean nos singer, who supposedly had a very descriptive opinion about guitars when they were brought into sessions.

The point is, traditional music CHANGES. While we will never agree on a definition of folk music, I do feel that locale, circumstance and availability effect the music. That is why we have dozens of variations of the same song - each specific to a time and place. The music was played on whatever instrument happened to be available - the instrument of a solo voice, a harp, a drum, etc.

This doesn't mean we have to personally embrace these sounds, but it should mean that we can understand the changes without dismissing them. I certainly don't like everything I hear. There are many musicians whose music irritates me for various reasons, but I always respect their RIGHT to experiment and find the sound that is heard in THEIR soul.   I can still appreciate what they are doing AND keep my deep love for traditional music.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 03:39 PM

Leadfingers - I always ask for the drink BETWEEN songs, not during!!

Seriously though, I do understand what you mean. I was just having some fun with you. If there are going to be electric instruments, I sort of expect the volume to be high.

Ron


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 04:03 PM

Freightdawg, Now I see what you're after. Not to worry, this problem can be fixed to your satisfaction. (After all, what else matters?) It will take a little money but… Oh, what the hell.

One approach is to give a bazillion or so dollars to each Republican member of Congress and carefully selected Democratic members and just have them outlaw the use of electric instruments in any sort of music with roots in traditionally acoustic forms. Strict and mandatory pelalties will be imposed for anyone violating this Federal law. For extra insurance, you can give Halliburton the contract to confiscate any electric instruments used in violation of the new law.

Another approach might be to fund a petition drive and a parallel media blitz to have all electric instruments recalled. Again, Halliburton would be awarded the non-competitive contract for confiscation.

Soon you won't have to be annoyed by electric music any more. Any artists that want to use electric instruments creatively can just go away to some country where such degenerate behavior is tolerated.

Good luck.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 04:11 PM

One thing about electrics is they haven't yet developed them to the state where they are really self-contained and portable, and that's where they always lose out compared to acoustic music.

I mean, a penny whistle or a harmonica can slip in a pocket, a fiddle or a guitar or a concertina you can carry anywhere. Take it out of your pocket or out of its case, and you can make music anywhere. Standing on a street corner, sitting in a bar, in a kitchen, on a train, on a boat.

Electric instruments, and there's amplifiers and microphones, and a power supply to worry about. And even with portable amps and batteries it's clumsy compared to being acoustic.

They've got their place and there's good music to be got out of them. And in some settings without some kind of PA no one will be able to hear what's going on. And they enable combinations of instruments that could never occur in the natural world - mountain dulcimer and hurdy-gurdy for example.

But it won't be until the technology comes up with electric instruments that have the flexibility and portability of the acoustic instruments that they'll really feel like folk instruments. And I've no doubt that will come. (In fact someone is likely going to report that it already has in some cases.)


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 04:58 PM

Portable is a matter of opinion, I suppose. I have a single amp that I can plug my electric guitar and four microphones into when my group performs. We don't have separate mixers, speakers speaker stands and all the other periphenalia (sp?) that larger groups have. It takes about ten minutes for me to set up. Because we don't have keyboards or a drummer, or any other instruments to be amplified, we can go anywhere.. even outside if there's an outlet within 100 feet.

As for distortion, somehow I can't quite imagine Jimmi Hendrix on a Martin D28. (Although they probably would burn better..)

Different strokes for different folks

And I love everyday people.

Acoustic or electric.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: freightdawg
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 05:15 PM

It is stupefying to me how a discussion that I intended to be lighthearted and informative could turn so nasty so quickly. I went back and re-read my comments to see if somehow I could have personally insulted anyone except myself and ... nope.

Mark, I suggest you read Blowzabella's post, for it answers your argument about "balance" perfectly. And please keep politics out of this discussion, I resent your tone.

I appreciate Ron's comments and also McGrath of Harlow. Let me add this to the discussion. When does the medium overpower the message? Once again I return to what draws me to folk music, namely the fact that it encompasses all of the human experience in a way none other can, hence the name "folk" music. The instrumentation is the background for the focus of the event. Most, although not all, folk music centers around the lyrics; be it a love ballad, a protest song, a whimsical ditty or any number of other types. Maybe my eyes are blind and my ears are deaf, but I see electrics becoming the focal point of the music, thus moving what I consider "folk" closer to what I consider "pop." That is not intended to be a put down, I just see it as a shift in genres. A poem is no better or worse than a song, but they are clearly different forms of literature. Likewise a short story and a novel. Both are to be enjoyed as they stand, and not compared/contrasted with each other.

Are there examples out there where the electrics stay in the back and are there to accent the lyrics and not overpower them? If so, stear me to the groups/performers and I would love to listen to them. I do admit to being a traditionalist, so maybe my circle of performers is just too small.

Finally, the comments about the addition of guitars and fiddles to earlier "folk" music is greatly appreciated and is something I had not considered. Thanks Ron - it gives me some ideas to chase down in the library.

humbly,

freightdawg


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: NicoleC
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 05:23 PM

Hmm. I can think of a lot of folk music that isn't about the vocals, particularly anything designed for people to dance to. I think this conversation is drifting into the unsolvable "what is folk" again. If you think folk is all about ballads, well, I can see your point, but I think the tradition is a lot richer than that.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 05:31 PM

Freightdawg, I'm not sure if the medium EVER overpowers the music intentionally.   I would like to think that in terms of folk music, the message is the "draw".   However, the definition of "what is folk music" comes into play. Would dance music be considered "folk"? A good contra dance band, morris dancers, etc. where there are often no words at all. How about Scottish "mouth" music or Irish lilting?   There are no "lyrics" in the sense that we define "lyrics".

I don't mean to go off on a tangent, but that is what happens when we try to put music into tight definitions.

As to whether the instrumentation drowns out the lyrics I would say that is often the effectiveness of the performer.   Often I find the message is clouded, but that is usually poor production and/or poor execution by the performer.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 05:51 PM

You know what, Freightdawg

I think some of what has developed into the best British folk music is by the Beatles. Yes, the Beatles with electric instruments. Their lyrics and melodies have woven into the fabric of England and America alike. You can call it pop if you like, but 100 years from now as today, children will be singing "Oh Bla De Bla Dah" and "We all live in a Yellow Submarine" as much if not more than "London Bridges falling Down"

Your definition of what is and what isn't "traditional" folk music seems way too narrow.

I don't think the Beatles with all of their amplification ever had anything but an emphasis on the lyrics. Their Lyrics that are being passed down from generation to generation.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Joybell
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 06:18 PM

So long as we are able to chose between the two. Many of our festivals here in Australia suffer from amplified takeover. Venues that are unamplified have to be very well soundproofed (and they rarely are) for the loud music not to bleed through. I personally prefer to listen and to perform in unamplified venues but if the tent next door has loud amplified music you can be sure who will win. Where the music is intended as background - and I personally hate that and won't go there unless I'm paid - it's a different matter.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: freightdawg
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 06:38 PM

Thank you Nicole, Ron, and GuestMartin: this is what I was hoping for.

First, some humble apologies. Yes, I have been thinking in the most provincial of terms - I have in my mind Pete Seeger, Woodie Guthrie, PP&M, et. al. and mostly on the yankee side of the pond. Sorry about my ugly Americanism.

Second, yes Ron and Nicole, I would have to include the dance forms you listed as "folk", in the sense that they represent music "by" the people not only "for" the people. My circle keeps expanding.

And GuestMartin, funny you should mention the Beatles, because they were one group who I had in mind when I mentioned the 60's and 70's. Their music is an example of a drift from pop to folk, but it is precisely because of the lyrics and not the lead and often overbearing guitar riffs common in modern pop/rock music. Many Beatles' lyrics work just fine sung accapella.

To pull another name out of the hat, I think Eric Clapton is widely regarded as a virtuoso on the electric guitar. I don't see his lyrics making the jump to folk in the same way as the Beatles' though. Before I shoot myself in the foot, let me say I am not aware of all of Clapton's work. His work is an example of what I would call the medium supporting the message, although his guitar playing is so strong it almost becomes a PART of the message. Eric Clapton's use of the guitar is NOT what I am opposed to. What I am opposed to is what Ron calls poor production/poor performance, where the instrument overpowers the effect of the lyrics. With an electric instrument you are limited only by the amperage of your system or its individual components. At least with acoustic instruments the audience can be saved when strings mercifully break. : )

humbly,

Freightdawg


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 06:50 PM

Actually Freightdawg, I think I've seem more broken strings with acoustic instruments!   I think performers sometimes try to get too much sound out of an acoustic instrument.

Your definition of "folk" music is not provincal, it is really a definition of "folk revival" music. That is one facet of the music, and because of the commercial success, it is the style that most people think of when you say "folk" music.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Mark Clark
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 07:00 PM

Freight, Let me publically apologize. Especially since you are a new member and don't have the history many of us have. I definately should have treated you better. I'm sorry.

Nicole put her finger on it (she has a way of doing that) when she observed that this is really a “what is folk” discussion. Those of us who've been here a while have grown tired of that endless, pointless discussion.

Folk music has many definitions but the two most often cited come from the music industry and academia. The term is useful as a marketing buzzword and, for scholars in the dicipline, the academic definition has some meaning. But for musicians—most of the people posting here—music is art and there aren't any rules beyond what pleases the artist. If it pleases listeners, the artist may be rewarded. If listeners aren't pleased, it may still be pleasing to the artist. How are we to make rules governing the creation of art?

I think it makes more sense to discuss the product of art—in this case the performance—than to discuss the tools. We can argue that a particular rendition of Barbara Allen by a heavy metal band lacks the sensitivity of a simpler rendition using lute and a single trained tenor voice but that doesn't mean it's impossible to create a sensitive performance using an electric instrument. You may not want to buy that performance, hell, I may not want to buy it either, but our personal taste doesn't invalidate it as art.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: freightdawg
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 07:43 PM

Mark,

Most humble apologies most humbly accepted.

Your points are true, and I was never really speaking from the artist's point of view. I am speaking as a consumer and afficionado of music. As a specialist in another field I am aware of the "communication gap" that is more a result of language than intent. The layman speaks in broad categories because he is unaware of the nuances a professional has to work with daily. In musical affairs, I am the rankest of laymen.

But coming at the issue from the layman's point of view, can we mix instruments from different styles or eras and still have the same product? As a wild and maybe illogical example, if we played a piece from Vivaldi with bagpipes, a harmonica, a mandolin and a guitar would it still be considered Baroque? In my mind, although I love folk music passionately, Vivaldi would need to be played on instruments he was familiar with in order for his music to be considered Baroque. Now, it would still be Vivaldi, and it would be artistic, and it might even be entertaining (I'd like to hear it). Where my analogy breaks down is that Baroque also refers to a time period, but I hope in a general way I can communicate what I am feeling. I equate electric guitars with modernism, whereas my idea of folk goes back to the industrial age and earlier. Granted, as GuestMartin has pointed out, folk is ever evolving and changing. As an admited traditionalist, it just seems to me that certain sounds are linked to certain genres. To be sure the lines are in varying shades of grey, but as a traditionalist I value keeping them as distinct as possible. In a round-a-bout way that makes crossover artists more valuable - as those who can blend two or more sounds to create a new one in a way that is distinct from the sum of its parts.

humbly,

Freightdawg


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Leadfingers
Date: 17 Oct 03 - 11:16 PM

What a lot of ' folkies' seem to miss out on (and this is BOTH sides of the Pond) is that traditionally SONGS were sung unaccompamied and
Instruments were only used for Dance Music,except in Church, or in the
more upper class environments.It is only in recent times that some
sort of accompaniment has been considered neccessary for songs.
Bearing this in mind, the use of ANY instrument to accompany a 'Folk
Song' has GOT to be superflous, wether the instrument be 'acoustic' or 'electric.So we are back to definitrions of 'What is Folk',or a hell of a variety of personal tastes, which is where I am!
A lot of 'Traddy' songs do NOT work with accompaniment unless the guy playing the instrumnent is a bit Shit Hot,with a very good ear
for ALL the nuances, or has rehearsed exstensively with the singer.
By the same token a lot of contemporary songs lose a lot of their significance if sung unnaccompanied unless the singer has a rare
talemt for the materiel.
This seems to indicate to me that a song can be done a cappella or with any thing up to a full orchestra and it is entirely subjective
wether this is 'Folk' or not. Hence the 'acoustic/electric'argument
is totally superfluous.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 06:29 AM

I'm with you, Lead.. As soon as you set up a "rule", darned if somebody doesn't go ahead and break it. My favorite version of the Boston Burgler is by Cat Mother and the All-Night Newsboys... a minor folk rock band of the 60's. They breathe new life into the song, the vocal is out in front of the electric guitars, but they really add a lot to it (in my not particularly humble opinion IMNPHO.)

I also enjoyed The Nice (an art-rock band of the 60's)seemlessly blending Bach and Dylan's Country Pie into one piece. Was it classical, Baroque, rock, folk or Chamber music? Or Chamber Pot Music? It's all in the ear of the behearer.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 01:46 PM

I have not heard referrence to "The Nice" for ages... Keith Emerson's 'first' band... classical jazz blues folk fusion... genius! ttr


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 01:53 PM

"To everything turn turn turn
There is a season turn turn turn"

Better to have more options than less, I says...


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 02:07 PM

I think the thing that is central to the idea of "folk music" is that it challenges the notion that making music and singing and dancing is something that is done by a small number of people who are different from the rest of us, who are just there to watch and listen and buy.

There's always a Dylan line to fit anything - "Well, anybody can be like me, obviously..."

So the more the music can be made there and then, using what is to hand, the better. Which is the point I was making in my last post about the importance of things being readily portable.

Doesn't rule out fine musicianship, but there's no gulf between what they are doing and what the rest of us do, and what anyone can learn to do. A good distance maybe, but no gulf.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 03:54 PM

Why do "acoustic clubs" always seemn to have PA?


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Oct 03 - 04:35 PM

They generally don't in my part of the world (though we don't use that term)


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Santa
Date: 19 Oct 03 - 10:37 AM

When I came back into folk music clubs (last decade) after a good few years away, I was struck by two things.

One, people didn't join in the choruses as they used to. My wife and I felt a little exposed, because we did. Strange, I now think that the club I go to does join in the choruses a lot. Maybe it's to drown my attempts?

Two, there was much more PA. There seemed to be very little true acoustic around. I still think that's true, but then the club I go to is in a pub and pure acoustic wouldn't work. I hate having the incessant buzz of conversation - I'm there to listen to the music. There are a few people who walk in and out of the area, go for drinks etc in the middle of songs. I think all this is partly because of the PA - if they had to be quiet to hear the music than they would. Or there'd be more pressure from the folks who do care.

I don't have any particular position on using electric instruments in a way that supports folk music, that enriches it by presenting a new arrangement of familiar songs. This is basically what has happened in the past with the introduction of the guitar, etc. When the electric instrument is used just to drown the music in noise, or to produce something that has no respect for the "feel" of folk, that's another matter. I accept that it can be a matter of taste, round the edges.

Which gets us back to definitions of what is folk. As a non-singer non-musician, I don't accept that folk music can be defined by participation - I join in the choruses but my son joins in with the band at his heavy metal concerts, and I don't see them as possibilities for acoustic-isation!


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: mack/misophist
Date: 19 Oct 03 - 04:04 PM

Spike Jones was on the stereo last night; all acoustic, naturally. I have to say that the quality of their playing put anything eletric I've ever heard to shame. The great flaw in electric instruments is that it's so easy to hide your mistakes with overlays. There's no way to hide a split reed. Acoustic instruments are less forgiving, but they offer so much more.


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Subject: RE: Acoustic vs. Electric
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 19 Oct 03 - 04:33 PM

Misophist

Quite biased. A missed note is a missed note whether it's accoustic or electric, a string or a reed.


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