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It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?

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Ruth Archer 27 Mar 07 - 03:32 AM
Fidjit 26 Mar 07 - 05:58 PM
GUEST,Someone else 23 Mar 07 - 07:02 AM
GUEST,Someone else 23 Mar 07 - 04:51 AM
GUEST,Someone else 23 Mar 07 - 04:48 AM
Richard Bridge 23 Mar 07 - 04:29 AM
GUEST,PRS Member 23 Mar 07 - 04:16 AM
Richard Bridge 23 Mar 07 - 12:34 AM
Richard Bridge 23 Mar 07 - 12:32 AM
Richard Bridge 23 Mar 07 - 12:20 AM
Scrump 22 Mar 07 - 08:24 PM
GUEST 22 Mar 07 - 08:09 PM
George Papavgeris 22 Mar 07 - 07:49 PM
GUEST,PRS Member 22 Mar 07 - 05:48 PM
GUEST,Someone else 22 Mar 07 - 08:14 AM
George Papavgeris 22 Mar 07 - 06:47 AM
GUEST,Someone Else 22 Mar 07 - 06:47 AM
Scrump 22 Mar 07 - 06:45 AM
George Papavgeris 22 Mar 07 - 06:40 AM
GUEST,Somone else 22 Mar 07 - 06:34 AM
George Papavgeris 22 Mar 07 - 06:32 AM
John MacKenzie 22 Mar 07 - 06:20 AM
GUEST,Someone else 22 Mar 07 - 06:19 AM
Scrump 22 Mar 07 - 06:13 AM
GUEST,Richard Bridge at a different computer 22 Mar 07 - 06:07 AM
GUEST,A court user 22 Mar 07 - 06:02 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 22 Mar 07 - 06:00 AM
George Papavgeris 22 Mar 07 - 03:45 AM
George Papavgeris 22 Mar 07 - 03:31 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 21 Mar 07 - 09:35 PM
GUEST,Someone else 21 Mar 07 - 07:52 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 21 Mar 07 - 07:20 PM
GUEST,wordy 21 Mar 07 - 07:13 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 21 Mar 07 - 07:11 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 21 Mar 07 - 07:02 PM
Peace 21 Mar 07 - 06:46 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 21 Mar 07 - 06:40 PM
Tootler 21 Mar 07 - 03:01 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 21 Mar 07 - 11:14 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 21 Mar 07 - 10:32 AM
Ernest 21 Mar 07 - 07:32 AM
GUEST 21 Mar 07 - 05:07 AM
GUEST,Someone else 21 Mar 07 - 03:43 AM
Gurney 21 Mar 07 - 03:29 AM
GUEST,Someone else 21 Mar 07 - 02:47 AM
Richard Bridge 20 Mar 07 - 07:16 PM
GUEST,Someone else 20 Mar 07 - 06:46 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 20 Mar 07 - 05:29 PM
GUEST,Ogman 20 Mar 07 - 02:05 PM
GUEST,Someone else 20 Mar 07 - 02:04 PM
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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 27 Mar 07 - 03:32 AM

Personally, I think that the issues around ownership and accreditation are quite complex even when it comes to traditional music. Look a the issues around Peter Kennedy, the McPeakes, Wild Mountain Thyme etc. That's before you even put Rod Stewart into the mix...

What's to stop someone making minor alterations to a trad song, and claiming authorship?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Fidjit
Date: 26 Mar 07 - 05:58 PM

If you're singing other peoples songs and even your own you are doing "Covers".

If you're mixing it with traditiional material, Then you're doing just that. Mixing it.

Chas


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 07:02 AM

Richard wrote: "I think that concentration on the legal issue of whether there is copyright or not will not necessarily illuminate our search for a term for music or song that is rather like folk music or folk song but is not within the definition."

Fair point. That was after all your reason for starting the thread.

I'd say we don't really need a new word to describe 'music or song that is rather like folk music or folk song but is not within the definition' because the definition is so wide as to be outwith definition.

But if you want to have a grey area at the edges, why not just say what everyone does already... 'folky' (perhaps with the emphasis on the 'y').

The reason I've banged on about geting a clear definition of 'trad' is that to a few die-hards, 'folk' does still mean what the rest of us call 'trad.' While this persists, then a clear definition of 'folk' may still be necessary.

I mention the legal issue, because at the end of the day it's important. There wouldn't BE a legal issue if it attributions wasn't important.

Let me suggest the following definitions:

Folk = music and song with easily traceable roots.

Folky = music using styles, sounds or other elements of folk but with less clear roots.

Tradition/al = owned by a community, mainly oral transmission

Anon = no known writer

Source = Anon, adapted by processes that have now ceased to function due to technology etc.

Public Domain (PD) = out of copyright. Used thus:

Writer's Name PD - known writer but adapted by tradition, and now out of copyright.

Writer's Name - in copyright (but check in case they've been dead for 70 years yet, in which case use PD).


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 04:51 AM

Sorry that should be 'widespread within _some sections_ of the folk world.'

Many (most?) people do appreciate the importance of accreditation, of course. But too many don't - and this 'what's traditional/folk' argument is part of the same problem.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 04:48 AM

To clarify my reference to Ride On.

Yes - precicely my point. At the top of the thread the writer was identified, and lower down other arrangements were mentioned. But that did not stop one poster quoting a section of lyrics and crediting them to Christy Moore.

Now, either that person just hadn't read the thread, and was re-stating his own ignorance (we see a LOT of that), or - more likely - he'd merely done a cut and paste from one of the many web sites which blithely credit songs to people who've recoded them, rather than to the original author - something else that needs to be addressed.

It's all part of the same problem: A lazy attitude to accreditiation, which is widespread in the folk world, which leads to all the losses outlined above.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 04:29 AM

PRS, at the highest levels, is a political organisation (likewise the MU) and the temptations that affect the conduct of politicians (not, of course corruption as such, but the pressures to cut a coat according to cloth) affect both, and there is not reason to assume that the PRS definitions are strictly in accordance with the law. For example the "PRS rights" are not 100% coterminous with the legal aspects of copyright directed to pubic performance.

In practical terms - anon = PRS doesn't need to pay any author
Trad - PRS doesn't need to pay any author
Out of copyright - ditto
PD - ditto

So why would they distinguish?

It is right that copyright may in principle be lost by dedication.
There are however a number of principles of copyright law that apply to anonymous and psuedonymous works, and some affect the duration of copyright. The rules as to infringement of copyright for an arrangement are the same as for a wholly original work - reproduction does not need to be exact, merely substantial.

I think that concentration on the legal issue of whether there is copyright or not will not necessarily illuminate our search for a term for music or song that is rather like folk music or folk song but is not within the definition.
n organisation that cannot really be trusted,


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,PRS Member
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 04:16 AM

Good to see posts on this topic this morning. I was afraid it was going to fizzle out. Sorry for being deliberately provocative but really this is THE most important task we face in the 21st century. As piracy decimates the major music industries on the one side, and media pressures attempt to water down traditional material from the other, while issues like The White Hare attempt to explode it from within, this needs urgently to be sorted, as GUEST Someone Else says.

The 'Neigh'-sayers perhaps want to be able to treat all folk material the same - as their own. But it cannot be morally right to deny writers their dues, plus any blurring of the line between original and anon must lead to a dumbing-down of historical culture, and the loss of vital signposts to our past.

My understanding is also that the PRS make no distinction between Anon, Traditional, Out of Copyright and Public Domain, and I've had this confirmed during the White Hare investigation. Because any legal dispute will tend to involve PRS we can assume that their definitions are based on law and prededent. Richard may know better - but I've been told very clearly that a work resistered as trad, or published as trad (not the same thing) rather than trad/arr, will be de facto public domain/out of copyright, and that this carries legal weight. Trad/arr works are free to use, but may incur royalities if your arrangement can be proved to be identical (unlikely).

The Procul Harum case did not turn on Out of Copyright issues.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 12:34 AM

But it is nice to see some posts to the thread that indicate intelligent life - as opposed to those to which the only response can be "Neigh". I was within a whisker of abandoning this thread entirely in the light of some of the twaddle above.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 12:32 AM

Incidentally, George, tralatitious may be in Miriam-Webster, but it is not in the Concise Oxford and I will not get a chance to check the Complete Oxford until Saturday.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 Mar 07 - 12:20 AM

I would question what "Someone Else" has said. In Berne Convention countries, at the end of the 31st December in the year 70 years after the death of the author, copyright expires. I know of no case on the effect of international time zones in this context. In most cases (but not, in the UK, works in which copyright was already running on the commencement of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988) copyright is a particular jurisdiction may be truncated by the expiry (but not seemingly prior termination or forfeiture) of copyright in the work in its "country of origin". This gets particularly exciting with US works because teh US used to forfeit copyright for all sorts of reasons that the rest of the world did not.

Then the work is "out of copyright". If a work is "out of copyright" or if for some reason such as the author and place of first publication not qualifying, then it is often referred to as "public domain" - an expression of which I have never fully approved because it is not defined in the Copyright Designs and Patents Act and so is of debatable meaning in the UK. I have tried since I first qualified as a solicitor and started to specialise in copyright in 1976 to be consistent in this usage, and while I have been called "pedantic" in this I have never been called "wrong".

If anyone can point me to any UK court judgment actually using "trad" or "traditional" in the way Someone Else (I think) suggests I would be interested. I am not aware of it being used in that way in the recent "Procul Harum" judgment which did debate the similarity of "Whiter Shade of Pale" to J. S. Bach's "Air on a G string".

It is, I suppose, my legal background that tends me to think of a "definition" as being set in stone, for certainly in that context if statute or common law provides a specified meaning for a word or phrase, then a use that is inconsistent with that specified meaning is, quite simply, and without possibility of argument, wrong.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Scrump
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 08:24 PM

I was never made to feel ashamed of my songwriting

Of course not George - you should be proud of them - they're great songs! :-)


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 08:09 PM

Guest :Someone Else - - - You wrote :-

<< Case in point - in the Ride On thread - I've just read: 'From "Ride On", Christy Moore' That's how it starts.'>>

I don't understand what you mean.
That's how what starts?

One of the first posts in that thread says :-
'It was written by Jimmy McCarthy, if that's any help.'

A further post says :-
2 great versions of 'Ride On'...Christy Moore and Mary Coughlan. Check 'em out. make that three....Maura O'Connell too!

Seems quite clear to me - author of song is named followed by people who have covered the song. What is your problem with that?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 07:49 PM

Hi PRS Member (I am too, by the way); answering your questions in order:

No, not everyone, not even most - in my experience.

Not true - see above - and the discussion on this thread proves it. How are Victorians made by the way? :-)

Again, no; I was never made to feel ashamed of my songwriting, nor have scores of songwriters I can mention; Indeed next week two clubs in my area, Maidenhead and Banbury are running songwriting competitions!

No - I don't think that is what folkies secretly believe.

In answering the above I speak for myself, of course, but I know many who would agree with me.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,PRS Member
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 05:48 PM

Why is is that whenever anyone mentions copyright to folkies everyone goes quiet and looks the other way?

Can it be that, like Victorians and babies, no-one wants to think about how songs get made?

Is songwriting something to be ashamed of?

Do songwriters not deserve what other creative artists are due?

Is that what folkies secretly believe?

I really do want to know.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 08:14 AM

Case in point

in the Ride On thread - I've just read:

'From "Ride On", Christy Moore'

That's how it starts.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:47 AM

Sorry Scrump, looks like I missed my Rs - not easily done...


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone Else
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:47 AM

LoL

Nice try George!

I think the simplest is to go on using the word traditional to describe the process (of any era or nationality), but to credit individual works without using Trad at all.

1) Anon (or Trad anon if you really must)

2) Writer's name, PO (publicly owned)

3) Writer's name (the snag with this being that eventually it becomes PO, but that's down to PRS to know)

4) Writer's name

5) Writer's name (!)


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Scrump
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:45 AM

OK, who will be the fist to start a Tralatitional Music Club?

Are you trying to start a punch-up, George? :-)

"Tra la la la la" sounds tralatitional to me :-)


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:40 AM

Categories 1 and 2 above will always be confused, I think, whether we use Trad or Tralatitional; so we would need to employ the secondary "anon" for "publicly owned" (Category 1) and/or "attributable" for Category 2. Thus for example:

Category 1: Trad (anon), Tralatitional (anon), Tradanon (and why not)
Category 2: Trad (attrib), Tralatitional (attrib), Tradatt


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Somone else
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:34 AM

The legal definition is that the writer has been dead for 70 years. PRS make no distinction between Trad, Anon, and Publicly Owned - they all mean the same thing.

So if someone credits a song - or tune (it's even more commonplace with tunes) - as Trad that may be taken to mean Anon / Publicly owned. Which it may not, in fact, be.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:32 AM

I get it, GUEST, Someone Else (sorry Richard, I get there eventually). OK, coming off soapbox, don thinking cap on...

Actually, there IS a word to describe what you want. Don't laugh when you read it, but it means "having been passed along from generation to generation". It is tralatitious. An example of its use: "Among Biblical critics a tralatitious interpretation is one received by expositor from expositor".

So, your category 1 above then becomes "tralatitional", and category 2 "tralatitional attributable". The remainder is just "folk".

OK, who will be the fist to start a Tralatitional Music Club?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:20 AM

Will it continue to be remembered when all those who were alive in the time it was written, have passed on?
G.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:19 AM

I still don't think I'm getting through.

I agree George that it's asking for trouble to let copyright define what Traditional means, but we are talking about product labels here, and writing the wrong thing on the tin can lead to digestion problems.

Let me explain. Take an extreme and not very good example: (This works better with Fiddlers Green, but we'll use Empty Handed for now).

Empty Handed is copyright GP. Not Trad. No dispute.

But if we allow that the adoption of a song by a community who make changes through natural attrition can re-define a song as traditional, then Empty Handed could become Trad - like this:

Say someone in Tasmania hears it at a singaround, but the singer forgot to mention you wrote it. He has an mp3 recorder on the table. Later, he asks a third party if it's trad. Oh yes, says the chum (because he's of Shimrod's opinion), I've heard lots of versions of that, and it's been around for ages. I think it's called 'It's not the setting sun.' Good, goes the singer. I'll put it on my next CD. And he does - as "Setting Sun (Trad).' Then you hear of it - oy, says you, that's my song. Nah, goes the singer - it's trad.

OK extreme example, but it's happened to Fiddlers Green, Galway Farmer, Ride On, Athenry etc etc etc.

Why? Because of this muddle about what Trad means.

That's why we need to sort it out.

It's no good each side just saying - the other lot are wrong, which is what keeps happening on this thread. We DO have a problem, Houston.

The only way to solve it is to change the language, so that the single word used to describe the origin of a song is not open to misinterpretation.

At the moment 'folk' songs fall into four broad categories.

1) Anon, passed down orally, public ownership. (Called Trad by all). EG Matty Groves.

2) Known writer, passed down orally, public ownership. (Called Trad by most - but should be credited with the writer's name - which doesn't always happen). EG Happy Birthday

3) Writer known by some but not all, being passed around a lot and adopted by communities etc, copyright. (Called Trad by a few who feel that Traditional merely means that a process is happening, or that a certain sound or style is enough to make it trad). EG Fiddlers Green.

4) Known writer, copyright (Not usually called Trad - but often called Folk, whic could lead to 3) in future). EG Empty Handed.

Oh and

5) Known writer, copyright (wrongly accredited as Trad) EG The White Hare - and others in the past.

See what I mean?

Tradional is a sippery slope.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Scrump
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:13 AM

(Sorry I'm late coming to this thread - thanks Richard for starting it. I still haven't had time to read it all yet)

In the most unlikely event that "Mr. Tambourine Man" is still remembered by anyone a hundred years from now

Leaving aside the issue of whether the world itself will survive another 100 years, why do you say it's unlikely, Don? It's already been around for over 40 years and still well remembered.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Richard Bridge at a different computer
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:07 AM

A defined term, properly defined, does not lose its meaning by misuse by the ignorant. Additionally, if the term has come to mean what some here think it has come to mean, then it has no meaning.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,A court user
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:02 AM

So what is the definition of "trad" used by the courts?   Be specific and be accurate.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 06:00 AM

"Shimrod. That's a dangerous argument. Why? Because it will have people believing that change and 'community ownership' are enough to negate the need for credit/attribution/copyright etc. This is because most believe that Trad = Publicly Owned.

So they'll decide that Changed/owned by community (=Trad) = Out of Copyright. Which is NOT the case - you see?"

Dear 'Someone else',

Are you actually saying what I think you're saying?
I think you're saying (and I hope I'm wrong) that a coherent and logical description of Folk/Traditional music should actually be suppressed for commercial/political reasons? Now that's what I call dangerous!!


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 03:45 AM

And just to show the fallacy of labels, some examples:

"Classical" music is still being written today - there are several contemporary composers of classical music, named so in the media.

"Jazz" is still being written today. "Traditional jazz" is mostly defined by style and age, though I believe there are pieces still written today that are called "traditional", if only to differentiate from "modern" or "freestyle".

And if we leave the world of music for a moment, a centuries-old piece of furniture or porcelaine is more easily recognised as "antique" if it can be attributed. But it can be called "traditional" even if it was made yesterday - because it is the style, the essence, that drives the terminology.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 22 Mar 07 - 03:31 AM

I am not comfortable letting commercial (i.e. copyright) considerations drive a definition of what is traditional and what is not. It seems cockeyed, it describes the thing through its outcome, not through its essence. A bit like saying "this animal is big, so it must be an elephant".

Twenty years ago, when the birthday song was still in copyright, I'd have no problem saying that it was a traditional song, but attributable and still in copyright.

Neither do I feel beholden to a 1953 or 1954 definition for any genre of music, especially one that has been around for centuries. It feels arrogant, as if those that preceded us were too weak-minded to define what they were doing, and we came to put them right.

And though I understand and partially sympathise with those that would define the tradition as a "closed body of work to which one can no longer add", once more I feel that such a definition is driven out of changing technology considerations, and not addressing the inherent makeup of the thing described; therefore, also false, especially when so many agree that the folk process continues still today (see related thread of a month or so ago).

As people have already said, the whole need for putting labels to music is a latter-day phaenomenon anyway, driven out of a commercial wish to have identifiable sections in stores.

In the end there are clearly several views of what is traditional and what is not, and I can live with that. I don't feel the need to change the label "folk", and I am happy to let the meaning be adapted and expanded with time. And if the label scares people away, as Richard (rightly) says, well sod it, if people will judge by labels, so be it - the ones that have brains will still listen before making up their minds.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 09:35 PM

Yes, I do tend toward (I wouldn't put it more strongly, as my take on it could be altered by a well thought out counter argument) the closed trad (it has to be, IF oral transmission is the criterion).

Narrowing the discussion, this would give each country its own body of traditional music, in every case the one word descriptor "Traditional" would be good and sufficient to the needs of identification.

As I said above, this leaves the general descriptor Folk free for broader use.

I like the elegant simplicity of the family tree model of grouping under the folk banner, and cannot see the justification, or indeed the need for inventing new descriptors.

It would be entirely logical IMO for all non trad to be considered contemporary, as this represents only the output of a single century. I am sure that, whether WE like it or not, with the passage of time, the best of that output will become recognised as some form of "Tradition Part 2". The rest deservedly will fade away to be replaced by 21st century contemporary, and so on ad infinitum.

Thank you for your kind response to my attribution comment, it is much appreciated.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 07:52 PM

"the question of whether the composer of the song is known or unknown becomes IRRELEVANT once the song has been changed by the community"

Shimrod. That's a dangerous argument. Why? Because it will have people believing that change and 'community ownership' are enough to negate the need for credit/attribution/copyright etc. This is because most believe that Trad = Publicly Owned.

So they'll decide that Changed/owned by community (=Trad) = Out of Copyright. Which is NOT the case - you see?

Now. I do agree with the basic principle as applied to the looser term 'folk' - because you can define that word how you like these days.

But, if we allow that Don T's definition has any credence, we must be VERY wary of using that criterion to define 'tradtional'. (If, on the other hand, Don's argument is wrong, then of course you may have the _word_ to for your process - but we'll need something else to describe Don's process).

Let me say it again: THERE ARE TWO DIFFERENT UNDERSTANDINGS OF WHAT 'TRADITIONAL' MEANS (and as some people still use 'folk' in this area then you can substitute folk for traditional if you want to).

Don, mine is not a non-sequiter. I'm just the advocate here.

I'm presenting, side by side, two different 'truths'.

You, presumably, subscribe to what I've called above the 'closed' truth - the anon/old/niche-development definition, yes?

I assume this because you say "You have given a very cogent and precise reason why only the orally transmitted tradition should be referred to as "Traditional", and with that I tend to agree."

I have not, actually, said as much. I have merely described this as one point of view.

I have ALSO defined the other argument - equally valid - which I read here on mudcat over and over and over again. This is the definition almost promulgated by Shimrod above: "ANY song can become a folk song if it has been through the right process" - which others might put as "ANY song can become a TRADITIONAL song if it has been through the right process." I repeat his/her quote "the question of whether the composer of the song is known or unknown becomes IRRELEVANT once the song has been changed by the community."

Now, do you see the issue?

There is a 'closed' catalogue, and an 'open' catalogue - plus the issues of copyright and the correct attribution of writers.

No problem with this all this. All these situations can be explained and understood with a paragraph or so.

The problem is that both camps (and the legislature too) believe they have unique use of one word; 'Tradition' (or possibly 'folk')

Now. Who is to judge which is right? They can't all three be. But each refuses to give up his title.

An aside:

Of course it's stupid to claim 'trad' for England (I'm English btw). Every culture has its traditions, some still flowing, some with portions sealed by historical change like ours. The English model happens to be fairly important because of its age, patina, history and influence, but it's only one of thousands. I wish it had a unique name - and maybe in time we'll get one.

Meanwhile I take huge heart from Don T's post "Attribution is the key. Always give credit, either to the composer, or to the fact that a song is traditional. Crediting yourself with your own compositions is optional, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. If it's any good, someone will usually ask, "Who wrote that?" Much more satisfying!"


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 07:20 PM

"If, for example, "Mr Tambourine Man" is around in a few hundred years, will it be folk? If not, why? And if so, then why isn't it folk today?"

That problem will most likely solve itself Peace. In the most unlikely event that "Mr. Tambourine Man" is still remembered by anyone a hundred years from now, the population at that time will doubtless have their own definition of traditional, as no one living will be as close to, or as affected by, the oral tradition as we are.

Two of the oldest pieces in existence cannot, by some definitions, be called "Traditional", nor according to the 1954 definition, "Folk", since they were published by clerics of the time, on parchment.

How many here would define "Summer is Icumen in", or "The Cutty Wren", as neither traditional, nor folk.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,wordy
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 07:13 PM

Comrades, comrades, we must not bicker. We must stick to the 1954 manifesto and we will overcome! Struggle is all.
(Meanwhile, when no one can see or hear me I write songs in my basement.)


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 07:11 PM

Peace,

Of course the songs were composed by individuals (unless they were composed by Fairies, Angels or little creeping things that lived in the skirting-boards of Tudor Manor houses and crept out at night and whispered them into serving maids' ears - sorry, got carried away there!).

Just look at that last bit of the 1955 definition again:

"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 ..."

Thus the question of whether the composer of the song is known or unknown becomes IRRELEVANT once the song has been changed by the community. ANY song can become a folk song if it has been through the right process (ie. the process described in the 1955 definition).
The notion that folk songs are only those songs that have been composed by 'Anon.' is just plain wrong. To repeat, it is the PROCESS that a song has been through that determines whether it is a folk song or not - NOT its origin.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 07:02 PM

"Meanwhile we ALSO need a new or different word to describe newer songs that have become or are maybe becoming traditional (small t) by modern means (such as being "sung by a particular type of community over a long enough period"), but where the author IS known."

Non sequitur guest! You have given a very cogent and precise reason why only the orally transmitted tradition should be referred to as "Traditional", and with that I tend to agree.

However it does not follow that a new name is needed for anything else.   Traditional folk, and Contemporary folk, provide the class delineations between what we do, and commercial pop rather nicely, and we can add those subset titles that are needed to describe, for example, Blues.

Of course the traditional will have its own subsets, e.g. Irish, American, West Indian and so on.

Folk, to me has always represented the umbrella under which all the rest shelter, and I will never agree with those who reserve the word to the English traditional canon (if they are right, there is no sense in using the T-word at all).

Don T.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Peace
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 06:46 PM

One of the problems of course is that the songs that WERE composed by individuals even hundreds of years ago by that definition cannot be folk. And if anyone argues that they are, how does that work? If, for example, "Mr Tambourine Man" is around in a few hundred years, will it be folk? If not, why? And if so, then why isn't it folk today?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 06:40 PM

Does no-one on this board sing a song because they like the song?

I'll go further Black Hawk! I never, but never sing a song unless I like it, and I never record or sing for money, any song, unless I LOVE it.

Audiences always know if you have no connection with the songs you sing, and it's the death knell of entertainment when you do that.

Attribution is the key. Always give credit, either to the composer, or to the fact that a song is traditional. Crediting yourself with your own compositions is optional, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. If it's any good, someone will usually ask, "Who wrote that?" Much more satisfying!

Don T.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Tootler
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 03:01 PM

The folk process is just a scholars term for faulty memory..

LOL. I like it.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 11:14 AM

The only disagreement I'd have with that definition is that "commposed popular music" remains unchanged when it is taken over by a community. That is often not the case. All you have to do is listen to Charlie Poole or others doing popular music to see how much they've changed it. Once a community gets it's hands on a song, they shape it to reflect the culture of their community.
The "folk process" works equally well on composed popular music. That's true of much of the body of composed music. I see it in hymns, all the time. In some newer hymnals, the line in Amazing Grace:
   "That saved a wretch like me" has been changed to
   "That saved and set me free."

The folk process is just a scholars term for faulty memory.. :-)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 10:32 AM

"On this and other threads there are many references to the 1954 definition of 'folk,' but never have I seen it detailed. What was the 1954 definition?"

On the 14th March 2007 a member called 'Dazbo' posted the following definition (looks like '1955' not '1954')in the 'What IS Folk Music' thread. I have taken the liberty of cutting and pasting it here, because I think it's rather nifty and bears repeating. Those who, for some reason, would like their own favourite musical form re-classified as 'Folk' will probably disagree.

'Folk music is the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission. The factors that shape the traditions 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 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 (Journal of the International Folk Music Council, VII, 1955, p. 23).


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Ernest
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 07:32 AM

How about "folky" or "folkish" for that kind that doesn`t fit your definition (whatever that may be)?
Regards
Ernest


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 05:07 AM

On this and other threads there are many references to the 1954 definition of 'folk,' but never have I seen it detailed. What was the 1954 definition?


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 03:43 AM

See? There's another point of view, which is quite different to the other definitions, but has validity.

And another from another thread: A "folk song" or "folk tune" is defined by its source, and is still a folk song or tune if performed in a another style. But it is not "folk music" if it is performed in a non-participatory context".

None of the disputes about 'folk' matter, in the greater scheme of things, because that word has lost it's old precise meaning - and its new uses do not lead to any confusion or damage. The word works in all the contaxted mentioned above and on the other thread.

But the dispute about 'traditional' is a very different matter, because the confusion affects artists rights and damages our ability to track and so learn from the history of music.

The 1954 defintion of 'folk,' and others of a similar purpose, are all attempting to define what we now call Trad. Let's try to fix that before Trad looses its focus too - because we ain't got no more!


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Gurney
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 03:29 AM

The term 'Folk Music' is very useful.... for finding music I might like in a music shop/store.

Apart from that, if you get paid, it isn't, and if you don't, it is, as JerryR said right at the top.


In my pedantic-about-music period, I spent a lot of time thinking about the question. I finally decided that life was too short to bother about unanswerable problems.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 21 Mar 07 - 02:47 AM

'Folk' has gone, Richard - let it go. No-one's hi-jacking it, it just changed over time like every other word, in every language, ever. ('Wicked', for example). You can't expect a flawed definition from 50 years ago to hold water today.

Yes, people should be encouraged to add an adjective whenever possible, to reduce confusion, but 'Folk' as a name for the whole genre is now accepted and universally understood.

The real problem lies in the definition of 'T/traditional' - because the definition of this word is not universal.

At the moment two groups are claiming it as definitive (the 'closed' and 'open' groups), and those two definitions are in conflict. Then there's the third defintion used by PRS and the Courts, which overlaps with the other two, adding further confusion.

The consequence of all this is that writers sometimes go uncredited, royalties sometimes go unpaid (or are paid wrongly) and valuable historical information is sometimes lost - plus people are misled into taking a unique and very special process fror granted


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 07:16 PM

The correct use of the term "Folk" is as per the 1954 definition (or close). What we need is a word for the other stuff. The horse music. If it sounds vaguely folky, I think "neo-folk" would do. But of course some people seem intent on hijacking the word "folk" to mean (like Tweedledum and Tweedledee) whatever they want it to mean.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 06:46 PM

Ok Shimrod you win... 'The Tradition' is NOT that 'now closed body of works'. No problem!

You and Mr Douglas have bagged that term for your wider category, which DOES include works of known origin, to which we CAN still add - yes? Fine.

But that closed body of work DOES exist, it IS closed, and it DOES need a name.

If it's not called The Tradition (which is fine with me - I'd never have called it that myself) then what DO we call it? There are plenty of posters here who'll fight you for 'traditional,' Mr Caroll for one I suspect, and he has a good case.

When the term was first coined it did mean only 'that body.' But now things have moved on, and we have this confusion, with both a finite and an infinate catalogue both having the same title.

Does that matter? Yes, it matters very much indeed - as any archeologist, lawyer, writer, songwriter, folklorist or historian will confirm. Only slack-thinking singers don't care.

It's essential, for the reasons I've outlined above, that we recognise the difference between works 'of unknown authorship, which have survived generations of oral transmission' and works of known origin which have become popular through modern transmission.

I don't care what you choose to call either (or what value you place on either, individually or as a group) - but you MUST differentiate, or you'll loose the lode-stone.

Correct attribution of the creator of a creative work is not an issue in any other discipline; art, literature, classical music, poetry, furniture design, architecture - but for some reason folk-singers have decided that because SOME songs are public property, ALL songs should be public property. But that way lies theft of intellectual property and the gradual dissolution of the broader thing we choose to call 'folk.'

Even the really old stuff was originally created by someone, then developed in critical isolation by talented singers. We should honour all them when we sing their work - specially those of us who don't have the talent to make anything of equal beauty ourselves.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 05:29 PM

"The Tradition is mostly agreed to mean that now-closed body of works, "of unknown authorship, which have survived generations of oral transmission.""

This is NOT generally agreed - see Malcolm Douglas's post for 16th March 2007 on the 'What IS Folk Music?' thread.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Ogman
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 02:05 PM

Richard Bridge, please do not mention the word "leopard", on this thread. It might get hijacked.


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Subject: RE: It isn't 'Folk', but what is it we do?
From: GUEST,Someone else
Date: 20 Mar 07 - 02:04 PM

"uestion of authorship doesn't come into it. Any song can become 'traditional' if it is sung by a particular type of community over a long enough period."

Yes it does! And that's exact;y why we need to separate the two meanings of the word traditional - apart from the legal one which means 'in public ownership.'

The Tradition is mostly agreed to mean that now-closed body of works, "of unknown authorship, which have survived generations of oral transmission." It's NOT possible to add to this part of the catalogue, because the very special methods by which it was formed have now passed into history. There is too much rapid cross-contamination today by recorded media and other means for any new songs to acquire that unique geographical separation and re-formation which makes this body of work so particularly interesting from an folklore and musical/archeological point of view. This needs to be recognised - far too many people still don;t understand. This material be good bad or indifferent - you can judge it how you like from a musical point of view - and you can do what you like with it too, but it method of creation MUST be recognised and respected - and tags attached, so people can continue to derive information from this musical element of hsitory. That's why some labels DO matter. Think Time Team.

Meanwhile we ALSO need a new or different word to describe newer songs that have become or are maybe becoming traditional (small t) by modern means (such as being "sung by a particular type of community over a long enough period"), but where the author IS known.

This is for two reasons: Firstly because until 70 years after that author's death the work is copyright and royalties are due. To call a copyrighted work tradtional is no less than theft. And secondly because even once the work has passed out of copyright and is legally in public ownership, that writer sill deserves credit for his or her work. To call a publicly-owned work of known authorship traditional is lazy, rude and ungrateful.


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