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how important is the label traditional singer?

13 Sep 07 - 05:50 AM (#2148098)
Subject: how important is the label traditional s
From: The Sandman

At the end of the day it doesn't really matter whether or not Bob Blake was a 'traditional singer'. Bob, I'm sure, was true to himself, and if a young, inexperienced song collector (i.e. me) was willing to impute a label onto Bob that, with hindsight, was probably inaccurate, then the egg is surely on my face! What really matters is the fact that Bob was a fine singer and luckily we did manage to record him singing some of the songs that he knew. Also, many people today want a world of certainties, a world where our every thought and desire can be seen in terms of black and white. But, of course, life is not like that and, kicking against this, we so often find ourselves suffering from the unsatisfactory nature of things. Bob Blake gave pleasure to many people by singing his songs. Singers like the Coppers, Bob Lewis and George Belton became his friends and accepted him as their equal. I'm glad that I met him and heard him sing, and, at the end of the day, that's what really matters to me.

Mike Yates - 8.8.06 [article in musical traditions]
I agree with Mike Yates,and think judgements should be made on merit of the singer,rather than concern about whether the singer is a revivalist or a traditional singer.Peter Kennedy appears to have thought otherwise.
what do you think.


13 Sep 07 - 06:47 AM (#2148123)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: Folkiedave

I know (or it is not difficult to find out) whom he recorded - and I can think of people he didn't record. I am sure many of those he didn't record were because he hadn't come across them. Some I would think were bot recorded because they weren't even singing at that time he was working in the field.

But I have no idea who he made value judgements about and didn't record because he thought they weren't "traditional singers".

So let's have a list of them Dick - the people he didn't record because he thought they weren't traditional. Oh yes, and tell us how you know.


13 Sep 07 - 07:12 AM (#2148143)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: GUEST,Shimrod

I think that your first paragraph should have been in quotes, Cap'n. I read it through and thought, 'I've read this somewhere before - the Cap'n's not guilty of plagiarism now, is he?' Then I read the attribution and all was well ... Well, relatively well!

I recognised the quote because it is from a wise and brave article by Mike Yates - but I suspect that you're misusing it because you desperately want to 'prove' a point. The terms 'traditional' and 'revival' as applied to singers are necessarily fuzzy. I'm sure that if you dig deep enough you can find a few more exceptions. But exceptions don't 'prove' anything - they are just that - exceptions!
On the other hand it is possible to point to many more examples of people who fit the categories exactly. I, and many of my friends and acquaintances, for example, are 'revival' singers; Harry Cox, Sam Larner, George Maynard et. al. were 'traditional' singers.

A couple of things from the article by Mr Yates which I urge you to re-read and to think about:

(i) "At the end of the day it doesn't really matter whether or not Bob Blake was a 'traditional singer'."

I'd agree with that - at least it probably doesn't matter in an aesthetic sense - but distinguishing between the two types of singer is still useful (if not essential)in an interpretative sense.

(ii) "Also, many people today want a world of certainties, a world where our every thought and desire can be seen in terms of black and white."

Forgive me, but that passage could have been written for YOU, Cap'n! You seem to want to abolish the useful categories, 'revival' and 'traditional' because of the existence of exceptions (well, in this case, one exception). Some of us are more ready to put up with the "unsatisfactory nature of things" rather than to recklessy discard useful categories.


13 Sep 07 - 07:17 AM (#2148145)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: Folkiedave

How about the expression "tradition bearers"?


13 Sep 07 - 08:10 AM (#2148187)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: GUEST

What on earth are you trying to prove Cap'n?
You have been extremely selective in your quotation of Mike.
I replied to his conclusions on the enthusiasms page of MT in a piece entitled 'By Any Other Name' quoting a number of traditional singers.
You are being extremely misleading in comparing only Peter Kennedy. Virtually the whole of our folk literature is based on there being a group that has always been referred to as 'Traditional singers'; if you choose to reject the term, you then have to reject the whole body of literature from 'Some Conclusions onward.
Read and digest;
The Ballad And The Folk, The Ballad And The Plough, Old Songs From Skye, Songs And Southern Breezes, Fellowship of Song, Village Song Culture, The Mount Callan Garland, The Stone Fiddle, The Ballad Tree, Two biographies of Sharp, The Stone Fiddle, The Land Were The Blues Began, The Adventures of a Ballad Hunter..........
You Might start nearer your present home with Tomás O Crohan's 'The Islandman, where he describes learning songs on the Blaskets.
It seems to me you are once again aspiring to being a traditional singer.
You have two choices
A. You deny entirely the existence of traditional singers.
B. You agree they exist and prove to us you come from the same background.
You really need to read a few books (or record sleeves).
Jim Carroll
Folkiedave,
"How about the expression "tradition bearers"?
Please don't humour him, it only encourages him!


13 Sep 07 - 08:48 AM (#2148217)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: The Sandman

I agree Shimrod it is unsatisfactory,That is why I try to make judgements on merit.
Like both yourself and Jim Carroll I like unaccompanied singing,but it matters not whether I am listening to a revivalist like LouKillen singing The Flying Cloud,or Harry Cox singing The Foggy Dew,What I hear is two fine exponents of the art of unaccompanied singing.


13 Sep 07 - 08:58 AM (#2148230)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: The Sandman

FolkieDave,if you read the whole article Peter Kennedy appears to have ,known of Bob Blakes existence and had some inkling he was not a traditional singer,so his judgement and his decision not to record him was not made on merit.
Thankfully Mike Yates recorded him,
How many other fine singers have been lost,through the application of categories, by collectors, as a definition whether to record someone, rather than using the definition of merit.


13 Sep 07 - 09:07 AM (#2148239)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"...but it matters not whether I am listening to a revivalist like LouKillen singing The Flying Cloud,or Harry Cox singing The Foggy Dew,What I hear is two fine exponents of the art of unaccompanied singing."

No, it probably doesn't matter aesthetically (especially with regard to your two examples). But imagine what might be the response (not least from Louie Killen!) if you 'collected' songs from Louie Killen and attempted to publish them in some learned journal as 'traditional in origin'!

Having said that nothing would surprise me. I once heard a singer in a folk club announce, quite seriously, "I collected this song from June Tabor". Be careful, Cap'n, you might find yourself facing the same gales of derisive laughter that that particular remark attracted!


13 Sep 07 - 09:08 AM (#2148240)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: Richard Bridge

The singers will always be lost. The songs may survive.


13 Sep 07 - 09:15 AM (#2148248)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: Santa

No-one has all the time needed to record everything available. Some kind of filter is required to avoid wasting time on material that differs from that desired. No doubt good singers were missed because of "mislabelling", no doubt some were included that "shouldn't" have been. Recorder A missed singer B for reason C - that may be sad but is not the end of the world. Other recorders will have missed other singers for other reasons.

The labels helped reduce the amount of wasted time and tape. They act as useful filters, but cannot be expected to be perfect, and neither should individuals.


13 Sep 07 - 10:02 AM (#2148276)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: Folkiedave

On one occasion I mentioned to Peter Kennedy that I knew Bob and was surprised to find that Peter did not share my enthusiasm for Bob's singing. It never entered my mind that Peter may have known something about Bob that was unknown to me.

There's the quote you refer to Dick. It is the only time that Peter Kennedy is referred to in the article.

I once sat alone in a bar when the Copper Family were on in the next room. Gradually the bar filled up and each time another person came in the conversation went "What are you doing in here? I thought you would be in listening to the Coppers". And each time the answer came "Not a great fan of the Coppers".

It doesn't occur to me either that Peter knew something about Bob's singing that Bob didn't, it does occur to me that Peter did not share Mike's enthusiasm for Bob's singing.

But let's assume you are correct. Let's assume that Peter Kennedy knew that Bob had learnt his songs from manuscripts rather than orally and thus dismissed him as a traditional singer. Which is emphatically not what Mike Yates said but let's not have the facts spoil a good story.

How many others were there?

Who else did Peter make judgements about rather than go on the merits of the singer? And what was the basis of his judgement? Do you know?


13 Sep 07 - 10:24 AM (#2148306)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: IanC

The real fly in the ointment, of course, is that people say they collected songs from traditional singers who were often engaged in singing them in the public domain anyway.

Loads of the recordings of Harry Cox in the British Library, for example, were made in the local pub. Sure enough, recording the songs has some considerable value in allowing people to hear them more generally (though not too many of us end up in the BL listening) but just who was collecting them exactly and what for?

Thoughts of birds eggs and butterflies on pins spring to mind.

;-)
Ian


13 Sep 07 - 10:30 AM (#2148313)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: The Sandman

Dave,
whatever reason Peter Kennedy had for not being enthusistic about collecting Bob Blakes singing,hindsight shows Mike Yates did the right thing and Peter Kennedy did not,Bob Blake was a fine singer.
How many other singers were lost,we shall never know.


13 Sep 07 - 05:08 PM (#2148490)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: Big Al Whittle

I got lost on the Manchester ring road one night.....


13 Sep 07 - 05:12 PM (#2148495)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Collectors do not collect 'fine singers'; I cannot imagine myself reaching for the button in the presence of - say Pavarotti or Maria Callas, as much as I admired them both. Santa is spot on - we select carefully what we spend our time, energy and money collecting.
Those who do it (rather than pontificate about it), pick the people who we believe, for one reason or another, have the most important material and information to be captured and passed on. We base our judgement on our experience and our knowledge of the subject we are working in.
We may not always get it right, but we are far more likely to than somebody who makes no distinction between traditional and revival.
You have spent a fair amount of time attempting to persuade us that (a) there is no difference, and (b) If there is it is not important.
Many fine singers were lost because people like you placed no value on them.
Personally, the collectors I respect are those who choose their subjects carefully and record everything they have to offer, especially the information that puts the songs into context.
IanC
Some of us have put a great deal of time trying to make our material available; when we have put out albums of our field recordings, in the main the sales for the best of them are pitifully small, so we put them into an archive and allow public access - not ideal, but apart from posting copies to everybody who might be interested - what do you suggest?
One day we hope our collections will be available on the internet, but that is really up to those interested in accessing the material - not us - we've done our bit (and so have the singers). Unfortunately most folkies adopt the Cap'n's disregard (verging on contempt) for traditional singers, but at least the recordings will be there for posterity, where they might-just might get more consideration than they have to date.
Cap'n,
I wish you would get out of the arrogant habit of telling us who is good and who is not; that is for us to decide - not you.
Jim Carroll


13 Sep 07 - 05:26 PM (#2148503)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: Folkiedave

How many other singers were lost, we shall never know.

You are correct in that Captain, we shall never know but it would help us to know about some of them if you gave us that list of singers that you know Peter Kennedy made value-judgements about. Then we could - along with you - be able to judge the rights and wrongs of the matter.

But without that list I can't make my mind up.


13 Sep 07 - 08:39 PM (#2148660)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: The Sandman

Jim Carroll, Mike Yates called Bob Blake a fine singer[does that make him arrogant as well]I am agreeing with his sentiments.
Why are you far more likely to get it right,than somebody who makes no distinction between traditional and revival.
you say, many fine singers were lost because people like myself placed no value on them,please explain how I am responsible,for singers being lost.[just another example of the rubbish you spout].
which singers dont I value?

you say I have a disregard[verging on contempt for traditional singers].,again this is absolute rubbish,I do not have a disregard for them,neither do I have contempt for them ,I like greatly the singing of many traditional singers,I also like the singing of many revivalist singers,I judge traditional singers and singers of traditional songs,on their ability as singers,.for that reason I rate very highly
Harry Cox,FredJordan,SamLarner,PhilTanner,Jeannie Robertson[traditional singers].you yourself must have traditional singers that you prefer to others.
you dont seem to like many revival singers other than Ewan Maccoll,I have seen you criticise Louis Killen,Tony Rose,MartinCarthy.
your first paragraph is typical nonsense,at no point have I mentioned classical singers,as you well know, I was talking about singers of folk songs,whether they have learned their songs by the process that makes them a traditional singer or like Bob Blake a revivalist or a singer of traditional songs,and I was saying that within this category decisions to record should be made on the singers ability rather than the process he learned the song by.
The only exception I would make to this would be if the singer was a poor singer[who had an exceptionally rare and good song]in which case I would record it rather than risk it being lost.


13 Sep 07 - 09:59 PM (#2148710)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: dick greenhaus

"Personally, the collectors I respect are those who choose their subjects carefully and record everything they have to offer, especially the information that puts the songs into context."
I beg to differ. Vehemently. Randolph, probably the collector I'm most impressed with, recorded everything he encountered, and sorted it oiut afterwards. I think it's arrogant (and not to bright) to assume that you know, at the moment you're collecting something, whether you'll find it valuable in a year or so.


13 Sep 07 - 10:07 PM (#2148717)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: Uncle_DaveO

Captain Birdseye told us, in part:

if you read the whole article Peter Kennedy appears to have ,known of Bob Blakes existence and had some inkling he was not a traditional singer,so his judgement and his decision not to record him was not made on merit.

Captain, you've taken two "appears" thoughts and arrived at a conclusion that would not be justified even if the "appears" are facts.

"Known of his existence", if true, and "had some inkling he was not a traditional singer", if true, don't at all require (or even strongly suggest) the conclusion that "his decision not to record him was not made on merit."

The most that could be said is that "Peter Kennedy appears to have known of Bob Blake's existence and had some inkling he was not a traditional singer, so it is possible that his judgment and his decision not to record him was not made on merit" which is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

Dave Oesterreich


13 Sep 07 - 10:19 PM (#2148728)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional s
From: Seamus Kennedy

The revival singers get their songs from traditional singers.
From whom did the traditional. or source singers, get their songs?
I assume they weren't born with them in their heads.

When a traditional or source singer dies,do the revivalists in turn become source singers?

Just curious.

Seamus


13 Sep 07 - 11:03 PM (#2148756)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,booklyn rose

I love traditional songs,but the value of the label "traditional singer" depends on how it is used. I find some people seem to resent "big city" people like me who want to sing "their" songs. That makes me feel very uncomfortable. If only the families of the source singers can sing "their" songs, the music world is impoverished. Someone at Eisteddod-NY, a festival of traditional music, described many of the singers as "steeped in the tradition." That is good enough for me. If a singer has learned songs well, learned about the context the songs came from, and sings them well, we get to hear good music.


14 Sep 07 - 12:20 AM (#2148792)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Art Thieme


14 Sep 07 - 03:22 AM (#2148843)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST

A collector recording traditional singers is doing just that - recording tradititional singers.
The decide for themselves why they are collecting (unless they work for a department - in which case they have a set agenda to follow) based on their particular interest and their resources. Vance Randolph, Alan Lomax, Peter Kennedy, Hamish Henderson, Ken Goldstein et al were professional folklorists paid to do a job. In recent times there has been only one professional collector in the British Isles and he died last week - now there are none.
At the height of our collecting Pat and I were doing a days work, having a meal, then going out to record singers (or planning our holidays deliberately in order that we could spend time with them). In those circumstances we had to plan our work carefully. We started collecting when we realised how little we knew about the music we had been involved in for a decade and a half and our aim was to fill in the gaps in our knowledge, not to head-hunt songs. A by-product of our work has been that we have been able to pass on some of the songs in the hope that they will be taken up and sung half decently; it was never our intention to record songs in order that they might be turned into dirges by singers such as June Tabor and other folkie stars (as is the case with at least one song we recorded).
In the circumstances we found ourselves in it was neither arrogant nor dim to make a decision about singers, it was essential that we did so otherwise we would have lost much of what we now know to be important.
Of course we made mistakes, that is a calculated risk; but I believe we made far less mistakes than if we had just left the machine running then found we were out of tape or money or time, or our singers had moved on or died (all of these have happened at one time or another).
Santa was quite right to say we have to apply a filter to what we do - it would be great if we hadn't - in an ideal world.........
I had no respect whatever for Peter Kennedy, but I would uphold his right to decide not to record any singer, just as I would uphold Mike Yates' right to do the opposite.
Cap'n,
I've lost count of how many times you have started or been involved in threads questioning (and in my opinion sometimes undermining) the value of traditional singers and their contribution (or even their existence), stating your preferences between traditional and revival singers, whether we've done more for them than they have for us, whether they've learned 'performance techniques in the clubs, whether they should be grateful for our giving them the opportunity to sing at our clubs.... et al. At no time during our discussions have I detected that you have grasped the simple fact that without their contribution we would not be here discussing or singing or playing traditional songs or music.
If your judgment is based on their "ability" as you state it is - you've missed the point.
Jim Carroll


14 Sep 07 - 04:44 AM (#2148885)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

Like Jim, I believe this is not a thread to argue the merits of Peter Kennedy - but you started it (as has been pointed out by a false assumption)by saying he made value judgements about traditional singers BEFORE recording them or in Bob Blake's case not recording them.

But as far as I am aware there is very little controversy about Peter Kennedy's own field work - virtually all the condemnations of PK have been what he did with the material after he recorded it, and how he treated his informants.

So whether you knew it or not, by suggesting he made value-judgements about singers before recording them or of course not recording them, you are raising an interesting question. So if you could provide some examples where he did this I am sure those interested in the history of field-work in the 1950's by Peter and those with whom he worked would be grateful to hear the results of your researches.

Alternatively of course you could admit you are talking twaddle.


14 Sep 07 - 08:43 AM (#2149014)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Dick Greenhaus,I agree with you.
As far as I know he only recorded two revivalist singers/groups Shirley Collins ,and the Mcewan brothers,He recorded a vast amount of traditional singers[hundreds],he clearly made a value judgement that traditional singers, were more important than revival singers,when he decided who should be recorded.
no Jim I have not missed the point,as far as I am concerned I judge traditional singers and singers of traditional songs,on their ability as singers.
Let us look at the irish traditional instrumental scene.Padraig O Keefe held in high regard Sean Maguire,Sean Maguire was not a completely typical traditional player[someone who by definition learns by the oral process] ,he also played classical music and could read music,as could Seamus Ennis,So they learned music, both by the oral process and by reading music.
Okeefe like most musicians made his value judgement,on the players ability not on the process of how they learned the song.,why should collectors not make the same value judgements about singers of songs.
Dick Greenhaus[record everything and sort it out afterwards]makes an excellent point.
Ian C,made a good point when he likened folksong collectors to butterfly collectors.meanwhile the singers and musicians keep the songs alive,while the collectors are busy making selective judgements according to categorys.
Folkie Dave you are an expert on talking twaddle,I am still waiting for an apology on the subject OF Glor NaGael, organising music competitions,as I said, I have judged two such competitions,you accused me of talking nonsense,and that they didnt run music competitons,come over to Ireland and see for yourself.


14 Sep 07 - 08:45 AM (#2149016)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Should read[on the process of how they learned the tune]


14 Sep 07 - 09:19 AM (#2149044)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

First of all Dick and Jim are both right in context. Josiah Combs wrote in 1924 that you should collect everything.

I am told that Tom Munnelly nearly missed a Child Ballad from singer because the singer called it "The Old Armchair" and Tom thought the singer was talking about "Grannies Old Armchair. The singer wasn't!!

At the same time Dick G. has to remember that modern day collectors do have restrictions, and sometimes have to make judgements.

So here we go again Cap'n.

Peter Kennedy did the vast bulk of his field work between 1953 and 1958 when he was working as a field worker for the BBC. Which people did he make judgements about whether they were "traditional" or "revival" singers? You wrongly named Bob Blake as one of them, now name some more.

That is what the thread is about Captain - you should know - you started it.....


14 Sep 07 - 09:27 AM (#2149055)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

Sorry - there was no reason to italicise that.


14 Sep 07 - 10:37 AM (#2149103)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Peter Kennedy collected 99 .9 per cent from traditional singers not revivalists,was that a coincidence.,
The very fact that he decided to collect from them and not revivalists was a value judgement.


14 Sep 07 - 11:26 AM (#2149157)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

Captain - he was employed to record traditional singers. That's what he did. To say he was making value judgements is simply round sherical objects.

OK, name the revival singers he ought to have recorded between 1953 and 1958 and whom he decided not to record.


14 Sep 07 - 12:58 PM (#2149245)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,guest - mark d

er, I'm a bit confused what this thread is about, is it about song collectors in general (including people like Sharp, Hammond, etc.), or is it restricted to audio recording collectors, or is it just about Peter Kennedy collecting? If it's about what the thread title says ("how important is the label traditional singer?"), then it could relate to a much wider context than just song collecting, and begs the question, "how important in what context?"

As I say, I'm a bit confused, especially as the thread seems to begin in mid sentence with "at the end of the day" as if it's following on from something else... have I missed something here?

If the point of "song collecting" was to make a permanent record of traditional music so that if the song dies out in the oral tradition it is not lost completely (as seems to have happened with so many songs collected by Sharp etc. by the time collectors went out with tape recorders 50-odd years later), then there's no point collecting from a "revivalist" singer who has learned songs from manuscript or recordings, because the songs have already been collected previously. In this sense, it doesn't matter how "good" the singer is, as long as you "collect" the song.

If, however, the point of recording (and now I'm not talking about "collecting" specifically) a song, or songs, is to make available recordings of traditional songs for people to listen to, and thus in some sense to keep them going, then it doesn't seem to matter if the singer is termed "traditionalist" or "revivalist" and whether they are "good" or not becomes more important.


14 Sep 07 - 01:27 PM (#2149262)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

There have been some interesting points made in this thread,which is about the importance of the label, traditional singer.
In this particular case/Kennedy,it was his employers who made the value judgements.
however collectors do make value judgements as to what they should or should not collect,and the fact that none of them apart from MikeYates[by mistake]collected a revival singer,proves that they thought it [the traditional label]important.
As there are fewer and fewer traditional singers collected,and the process of passing on material changes with technology.I believe these labels will become less important,.
If for example I learned a tune/song from Roscoe Holcomb from you tube,and I learned it orally via the computer, does that make me a traditional musician /singer ,as far as I am concerned I dont care ,all I want to do is sing the song/or play the tune.
That is what is important, playing and singing the music,Keeping the music alive.
SeamusKennedy,raised an interesting point,when a source singer dies do the revivalists in turn become source singers.
In my opinion they do,if a person teaches someone a traditional or any other song, orally ,that person whether they are a revivalist or whatever has become the source singer,not that I would care two figs about the label,because my concern is passing on and sharing music not categorisation.


14 Sep 07 - 01:39 PM (#2149270)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

"no Jim I have not missed the point,as far as I am concerned I judge traditional singers and singers of traditional songs,on their ability as
singers
Cap'n
Many (most) of the traditional singers who were recorded were elderly. Most of them were past their best as singers, had difficulty holding tunes, forgot words, lacked breath control or simply had not sung for many years (a couple of singers we met had not sung for 50 years).
One of the singers here in Clare had a stunning repertoire, but sang his songs through a throat cancer.
Would you care to rethink your answer?
I repeat, you've missed the point.
Mark d,
You haven't missed the point, but have summed it up rather succinctly
Most collectors collect for archiving - some (Mike Yates for example) collect to make records, though he has concentrated on traditional singers.
I think you'll find that many revival singers would object to their singing being passed around generally (see bloggers thread).
The term 'collecting' in my experience in connection with folk song is used to refer to recording traditional singers, not revivalists.
Jim Carroll


14 Sep 07 - 05:29 PM (#2149449)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Jim,
Traditional singers such as Bob Lewis,FredJordan[30 years old],Jeff Wesley,Bob and Ron Copper, George Spicer,Gordon Hall,Harry Cox[ 47 Years old] ,Geoff Ling 57 years old,CyrilPoacher 63,Packie Byrne[47] Jack Elliot [birtley]62 years old,Bob Roberts[50yearsold]Sarah Makem 55 years old, Margaret Barry 35 yearsold , were not elderly when first recorded,none of these were past their best,lacked breath control or simply had not sung for years,In fact Jeff Wesley,and Bob Lewis are still singing very well.,
So I am not prepared to rethink my answer.
FolkieDave, Peter Kennedy was busy recording before 1953,he recorded Margaret Barry and FredJordan in 1952 and the Coppers in 1951.
Jim many revival singers object to their own Compositions being used without their permission[see bloggers thread],this has absoloutely nothing to do with traditional songs,and is another one of your Red herrings,designed to muddy the waters,and add confusion to the debate.
your last line sums up my point,collectors go out and collect traditional singers not revivalists,because they make a value judgement,revivalists are not worth collecting,not because they are not good enough,but because they dont have the right label.
Bob Blake [revivalist] was only collected because the collector Mike Yates,made a mistake.


14 Sep 07 - 06:51 PM (#2149505)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

Dick - your original point was that Peter Kennedy made value judgements about singers, refusing to record revival singers. That is the first item on the thread. Since then you have consistently refused to tell us whom he made judgements about.

Who did he refuse to record? Name one. And then tell us how you know. Clearly, as you tell us he recorded Maggie Barry and the Coppers - so you know all about his recording in those days. So you must know who he didn't record because they weren't traditional singers otherwise you would not have started this thread - would you?

Who were they?


14 Sep 07 - 08:09 PM (#2149538)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: stallion

fffffff blow me, I can't believe this thread has legs, I really couldn't give two ffffff hoots, a singer is a singer is a singer and all are individual, maybe, are we saying that "traditional" is some sort of label for a tribute band and if you didn't sound like so and so it's not traditional? I think that is, in the words of my father, huey, for fffff pity's sake stop being so precious. It's the words and melodies wot count and the folk will make of it what they will. This isn't a pop at CB, I think perhaps we have the same point of vie. Oh and yes I am too bone idle to read the rest of the threads, had a bad night with my precious and I am full of beer which makes me either sleepy or belligerent, oh who gives a fffffig
night night


14 Sep 07 - 08:59 PM (#2149574)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Martin Ellison

This forum bans (some) female protagonists for being overtly contentious. Please ban this silly captain person. He seems to bring out the worst in everyone with his obvious need for self-important confrontations. And his English/grammar/typing skills/coherence/argument diminishes as the whisky bottle empties.
Leave him alone - he might go away.
    This forum bans messages like this for being overtly contentious. By rights, I should have deleted this one; but the discussion has gone on, and deleting this message would leave too glaring a gap. Consider yourself cautioned, Martin Ellison.
    -Joe Offer, Forum Moderator-


14 Sep 07 - 09:52 PM (#2149599)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Uncle_DaveO

Stallion, I think you've missed the point.

This discussion is not really about a singer who is a singer who is a singer (with apologies to Gertrude Stein). This is about recording and documentation of songs that exist "in the wild", so to speak, in the culture, passed along in tradition.

"Traditional singer" for this purpose really is not seen as an entertainer or an artist, the creator of a performance. "Traditional singer" here is someone who has, out of his experience in his traditional culture, the knowledge of a song (or variant) that otherwise may not be known, and which may be lost if not collected.

The recording of such a traditional singer may be good, bad, or indifferent as a performance. If it's good, well and good. But the point is to document the song, regardless of how well or badly done, in its native habitat, so that we know more about the flow of tradition, more about the songs in a culture, and so that the collected song is available in context for later singers rather than being lost.

Personally, I like the term "source singer" better than "traditional singer", even though that singer clearly isn't the ultimate source who originated the song but only the point through whom the song's path through the culture comes to the surface, as it were.

Dave Oesterreich


15 Sep 07 - 02:48 AM (#2149690)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST

Cap'n,
There was a time when your postings were interesting , even stimulating, now they don't even provide enough interest to fill the gap between the Simpsons and The Bill.
You obviously have neither knowledge nor interest in the tradition and are happy in that state, so I'll leave you to get on with it.
Jim Carroll


15 Sep 07 - 03:56 AM (#2149703)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Bonzo3legs

"Traditional singers such as Bob Lewis,FredJordan[30 years old],Jeff Wesley,Bob and Ron Copper, George Spicer,Gordon Hall,Harry Cox[ 47 Years old] ,Geoff Ling 57 years old,CyrilPoacher 63,Packie Byrne[47] Jack Elliot [birtley]62 years old,Bob Roberts[50yearsold]Sarah Makem 55 years old, Margaret Barry 35 yearsold , were not elderly when first recorded"

........and what do you regard as "elderly" may I ask??? Frankly many of the posters here sound elderly although may be no more than 40!!


15 Sep 07 - 04:41 AM (#2149716)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

Captain,

I am going to follow Martin Ellison's advice.


15 Sep 07 - 08:32 AM (#2149777)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

I am very interested in the tradition,I have been singing traditional songs for over thirty years,on a professional basis.
I believe traditional music is not something that is preserved in aspic,but it is a form that is changing,I believe that revival singers have played an important part in promoting this music,as have traditional singers ,many of whom have benefited from the revival.
The revival has also benefited hugely from Traditional singers.
I personally just find labelling unecessary,I can for example listen to Roscoe Holcomb,or Jeannie Robertson or Martin Carthy and enjoy their music purely on its merit.
we are all entitled to different opinions,Martin Ellison has a different opinion to me,thats ok.Dick Mileshttp://www.dickmiles.com


15 Sep 07 - 09:17 AM (#2149799)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Dave,
Seconded,
Stallion,
Now listen carefully - stand still, take a deep breath and tell us slowly in your own words what you don't understand and we'll try and explain it to you - otherwise you are just going to have to go out into the garden and play with the other children.
Jim Carroll


15 Sep 07 - 09:30 AM (#2149806)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,martin ellison

Hi Dick
I'm OK with different opinions. What I don't like about threads of this sort is that it seems to bring out the worst in some people and develops into a slanging match and sometimes gets personal (probably guilty of this myself so I'll ban myself forthwith).

I'd love to see you and Jim Carroll in a boxing ring together.
Martin


15 Sep 07 - 11:01 AM (#2149858)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

ok ,Martin,apology accepted.
I would like to make it clear to everyone,that I never make posts when I am under the influence of alcohol.
I hope that if this thread has not achieved anything other than people visiting the musical traditions website,and learning about English/Scottish/ Irish/ Welsh dance and song,and singers like Bob Blake,it will have achieved something positive.
Those people that know me personally, know that I am a dedicated musician /singer,that I have a knowledge and love of traditional music,that like many other professional revivalist singers,I regard singing traditional material as a privilege,and as a labour of love .
Ewan Maccoll once said to me, I admire you,I couldnt do what you do,gigging on your own and coping with the loneliness of life on the road,Ewans words mean more to me,than any of the crap that gets thrown at me on this site.


15 Sep 07 - 11:31 AM (#2149867)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,martin ellison

Sorry Dick the whisky thing was a bad joke, made even worse by the fact that I'd just got in from the pub . . . shame on me.
I know your commitment and respect your views and opinions - I'm just exasperated when these discussions turn into playground fights.
Serves me right, I'm just a lurker on this site, maybe I ought to join and have my opinions shot down in flames.
Martin


15 Sep 07 - 04:12 PM (#2150040)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: dick greenhaus

I'm a bit confused. Peter Kennedy certainly did record revival singers and musicians. He also usually (but not always)identified whether the performer was revival or not.


15 Sep 07 - 08:27 PM (#2150142)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Art Thieme

As you've probably noticed above, I chose, for once, not to post in one of these threads. After all that's been inferred, I'm glad, and a bit proud, I've come down on the better side of valor.

Art


15 Sep 07 - 10:30 PM (#2150202)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Yes, I said Peter Kennedy recorded revival singers,I gave two examples,I also said He collected 99.9percent from traditional singers,if I am wrong and Peter Kennedy collected from lots of revival singers ,I do not mind being corrected.
The collector Jim Carroll has said that in his own experience,,collecting folksongs refers to the recording of traditional singers not revivalists.
In retrospect I should have used the phrase most collectors instead of Peter Kennedy[I got the impression from the article that Kennedy had twigged Blake was a revivalist ]if Peter Kennedy decided NOT to record him on merit,I dont think much of his judgement,of course none of us know his reasons.
Collectors decide to record on the basis of whether a musician /Singer has a certain label, they clearly think that is important.I think that this approach in the future will need close examination.,
Does a collector stop collecting when there are no more Traditional singers?The Traditional songs will survive longer than the traditional singers,they will almost certainly change, and gain or lose verses,if these changes are to be recorded, do the collectors refuse to collect them because they are not being sung by traditional singers.


16 Sep 07 - 04:47 PM (#2150656)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Peace

New songs will enter the tradition. That's a given.


16 Sep 07 - 05:16 PM (#2150672)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: greg stephens

That statement, of course, makes the assumption that "the tradition" still exists.


16 Sep 07 - 05:21 PM (#2150675)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Peace

Of course.


16 Sep 07 - 08:00 PM (#2150758)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Uncle_DaveO

"Whether 'the tradition' still exists"?

Well, I suppose in a sense I am part of "the tradition", and a traditional singer, and if so the tradition exists, for whatever it may be worth.

The foregoing paragraph, if you look at it, is pretty weak (as you'll see below), but still true as far as it goes.

I am 76, and I know and sometimes sing a song I learned from my stepfather as a kid, before I got snared by Burl Ives in my teens and I suppose became a revivalist from then on. My stepfather didn't seem to know where the song came from ("learned it from somebody, years ago"), and I certainly don't. It's a comic song, to the tune of "The Wearin' of the Green." It doesn't SEEM a commercial type song, so I consider it, at least, to be a part of the folk tradition.

No one has "collected" it from me, as far as I'm aware, so I'm a traditional singer, or a potential source singer, to the extent of one song. So "the tradition" lives on, Greg!

Dave Oesterreich


16 Sep 07 - 08:09 PM (#2150761)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Uncle_DaveO

I realized just now that the foregoing is not QUITE true in all details. While no one has "collected" it from me, or recorded my singing of it, I posted in in the DT, words to be found here

But that, of course, doesn't change the basic argument of my prior post.

Dave Oesterreich


16 Sep 07 - 08:44 PM (#2150774)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Peace

"No one has "collected" it from me, as far as I'm aware, so I'm a traditional singer, or a potential source singer, to the extent of one song."

You are an infinity more than that, Dave.


16 Sep 07 - 10:02 PM (#2150830)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Uncle_DaveO

No, Peace, as to all the other songs I sing I'm either a revivalist or a singer-songwriter. I either learned them from records (remember records?) or LPs (remember LPs?) or CDs, or from people who learned them from those sources. Or I've written a few along the way. "I Was Born in Cincinnati" is the only one I know and sing that came to me in a real, honest-to-God aural traditional way, with the indications that it "lived" in the "folk" and was passed down.

Unless you want to count such folk songs as Rock-a-Bye Baby and its ilk. If you want to count those, then there's no question that "the tradition" still exists, making Greg Stephens' assumption no assumption at all.

Dave Oesterreich


17 Sep 07 - 01:26 AM (#2150901)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Barry Finn

I've learned (collected) a few sea songs from an old Cape Horner, we traded tapes back & forth after first getting to know each other in the late 70's on the island of Maui. He's dead, been dead for a while now & I'm left here singing his songs. I'm not sure what I am now, help!

Barry


17 Sep 07 - 11:04 AM (#2151139)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Barry,you are someone who enjoys singing,if you are a traditional singer or a singer of traditional songs,and you get pleasure and give other people pleasure,surely that is what is important.


17 Sep 07 - 11:06 AM (#2151140)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Peace

So does a songwriter have to be dead to be considered traditional?


17 Sep 07 - 12:04 PM (#2151158)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Barry Finn

Thank goodness


17 Sep 07 - 01:02 PM (#2151187)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Arkie

This seems to be a never ending argument but the main question is whether musical categories are important.   For the singer or musician what is important is the song or tune.   They hear something they like, they learn it, they play it, other people enjoy it, may also learn it, etc. and the music has served its purpose. It has been enjoyed, has inspired, has helped people think, has helped people forget, has made them laugh and fulfilled a need in people as music can do so well.   For the historian or cultural interpreter certain categories such as "traditional singer' become more important. Categories help to put cultural history in perspective. Sometimes the singer is also an interpreter who has formal, informal, or no credentials at all as a folklorist or historical interpreter. And there are those who have used these categories as marketing tools, but that was not the scholarly intent.   When a person's primary interest is music, the merit of the singer is a matter of importance.   If the person is a cultural interpreter, the material being transmitted is important, but so is the source and the cultural envirionment of the singer and the song.

As for the music it changes, moves from one generation to another by whatever means is currently accessable and anyone who sings the song is a carrier and it does not matter whether the carrier is traditional, revivalist, or whatever. What is important that the song is passed along. The cultural interpreter helps us to remember those who carried the song.


18 Sep 07 - 04:19 AM (#2151701)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Mike Yates using a different perspective, to the one most collectors use ,the one some singers like myself might use.
BobLewis, TheCoppers and GeorgeBelton,all regarded Bob Blake as their equal.
There is an article on Bob Lewis at The Musical Traditions Site where he touches on this subject of the term Traditional singer.,The Article is by Vic Smith.
It is a pity that a collector has to wait till they have committed a mistake[the collecting of revivalist singer Bob Blake],before they can admit publicly,that other traditional singers dont necessarily take the same viewpoint as do some collectors on the above mentioned subject.


18 Sep 07 - 04:26 AM (#2151704)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

hereis the quote from Bob Lewis,Please read the whole article which is at the musical traditions site,the article is by Vic Smith
There's a sort of artificial idea, to my mind, whether it's come about from the BBC or from the EFDSS or whatever it was; that was this very rigid idea of who was and who wasn't a traditional singer. Well, if you come to it through their interpretation of it, then I'm not a traditional singer. And anybody that sung professionally or for any sort of money would be considered so. Or anybody that dressed up and did any sort of turn as a music hall or entertainment would have ever fitted into that category. Why on earth they got themselves into this straightjacket sort of thinking, I don't know. As a result, I suspect that they wrote off or dismissed quite a lot of really good singers, who they didn't bother to get to know when they weren't doing their turn.
Dick Miles


18 Sep 07 - 02:20 PM (#2152032)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Uncle_DaveO

That idea in the quote in the Cap'ns last post sounds to me very like the attitude the International Olympic Committee and other sports organizations used to take, as to who was to be considered an amateur athlete.

Thus a wonderful athlete would be denied the right to participate in high level athletics, like the Olympics, because he played some semipro baseball one summer when he was in college, years ago.

Sound familiar?

Dave Oesterreich


18 Sep 07 - 07:30 PM (#2152262)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Tootler

Here is a link to the article referred to by the Cap'n.

http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/b_lewis.htm


19 Sep 07 - 04:34 AM (#2152464)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Bryn Pugh

Thread-creep or not, I am with Martin Ellison and FolkieDave.

I hold myself a friend of Jim Carroll, albeit at a 40-year remove. Which is not the same as saying that I agree or empathise with everything he says, or every view he holds - I don't.

That said - I have reached the stage where, if I enter a thread which by its title looks marginally interesting ; and the first poster is Captain Birdseye (whom I have never met, as far as I am aware) - I'm out.

Life's too short.


19 Sep 07 - 05:09 AM (#2152478)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"As a result, I suspect that they wrote off or dismissed quite a lot of really good singers,..."

Yep! The BBC really blew it in the 50s, didn't they? After all they failed to collect from such "really good singers" as Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Louie Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald etc., etc. It's a damned good job that several major record labels did the job for them, isn't it?

If you don't have boundaries or categories, Cap'n, life has a tendency to become as absurd as this thread!


19 Sep 07 - 07:44 AM (#2152545)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Shimrod,
I dont think that is what Bob Lewis meant at all.
Boundaries will always have grey areas.
In the world of folk song,for some people this includes music hallsong.
I think Bob was referring to music hall songs,not to your examples.
I do accept that sometimes categorisation is unavoidable,but the cateogory referred to here,has in the opinion of Bob Lewis
meant that fine singers have been missed.I agree with him.


19 Sep 07 - 11:52 AM (#2152684)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

Cap'n,

I am merely extrapolating your argument that singers should only be judged on merit, and not be subject to categorisation, to its logical (and rather silly) conclusion.

The converse of your argument is that if the BBC collectors had only concentrated on "really good singers" they would also have missed a lot of "really good" songs. This is because, with the best will in the world, several of the singers that they collected from were not "really good singers" but sometimes had "really good" songs.


19 Sep 07 - 01:01 PM (#2152739)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

You are wasting your time Shimrod - this has been pointed out to Dick on a number of occasions.


19 Sep 07 - 01:55 PM (#2152776)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

You have a good point there, Shinrod.
However we do know definitely that Bob Blake would not have been recorded, had it been known that he was not a traditional singer,and a fine singer, would have been missed.


23 Sep 07 - 05:20 PM (#2155859)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

However we do know definitely that Bob Blake would not have been recorded, had it been known that he was not a traditional singer,and a fine singer, would have been missed.

How do we know that Dick? Please explain.


24 Sep 07 - 03:59 PM (#2156528)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Nice quote here from the notes to the Caedmon/Topic Folksongs of Britain series which sums up my attitude to traditional singers nicely
"Here then are the ancient ballads of Britain, recorded from the lips of traditional singers in all parts of the islands, singing in the ways of their forefathers. Some of the performers have fine voices; others have voices that are old or hoarse. But all possess the true ballad art in some respect - the way of spinning the story and the poem together, not with the crude drama of the concert singer, but with the subtle nuance and under¬statement that is fitting to ballad art. The past speaks through their lips, but if you listen with attention you will discover fantasy patterns important to the present as well."
Jim Carroll


24 Sep 07 - 04:51 PM (#2156547)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Some would argue that Revival singers like Ewan MacColl and Tony Rose had that ability too.
The Revival singer Louis Killen also possesses the true ballad art,so in my opinion does the Revival singer Martin Carthy.
It is in my opinion something that is not a prerogative to traditional singers,but something the above mentioned Revival singers possess as well.Dick Miles


24 Sep 07 - 05:00 PM (#2156549)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Folkie Dave.
Jim Carroll,a collector has stated elsewhere,that collectors collect and record songs from traditional singers.
Bob Blake was recorded because MikeYates,thought he was a traditional singer.


24 Sep 07 - 07:01 PM (#2156631)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

SDo let me get this right Dick. You say:

Bob Blake was recorded because MikeYates,thought he was a traditional singer.

So why was Tony Rose recorded? So why was Louis Killen recorded?

Did someone think they were all traditional singers and so recorded them? The logic of what you say escapes me.


24 Sep 07 - 07:34 PM (#2156663)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle

Everyone that I now know (100% of who I know) are now INDEPENDENTS.

They look with disdain on those who have signed with labels.

They WANT the profits....they can promote, and have a following not equal to some of the 1960's big names but they can record, play, organize tours.....and NO ONE is telling them what to do.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


24 Sep 07 - 07:56 PM (#2156676)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: dick greenhaus

Rereading these postings, I'm struck by the implicit assumption that there's a single, universally-shared motive for collecting. I'd like to suggest that that's simply not the case. I know of several collectors who are trying to find and record music as a means of helping to understand a community's sub-culture--and trad, pop, musichall etc. are all part of this. Others are seeking good singers in some genre or another. And others are just recording what they like to listen to later.


25 Sep 07 - 02:58 AM (#2156862)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Dick Greenhaus's summation is spot-on.
Pat and I record traditional singers because we wish to try and understand the tradition, therefore we go to those who we believe to have the information we require. There are a whole raft of reasons to collect and it is up to the individual collector (and not a professional singer making a living out of the music) to judge where we should work and who we should record.
Incidentally Cap'n, if you are going to quote me, please try to do so in context - I know it's difficult, but it would be appreciated.
Jim Carroll


25 Sep 07 - 08:10 AM (#2156958)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Yes, Jim and like Bob Lewis,or anybody else, I am allowed to make criticism .


25 Sep 07 - 02:44 PM (#2157247)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Cap'n,
I've decided to take a leaf or so from your book on your insistence that:
a. Only singers had the right to discuss singing.
b. You judged the significance of traditional singers by their ability.
In future, perhaps you should tell us your own personal experience in such activities as collecting before you venture an opinion.
Maybe you should audition before we give any credence to your views on singing.
Your irritating habit of hauling in (usually mediocre) revival singers whenever source singers are being discussed automatically rules you out of having a say in that topic.
Jim Carroll


25 Sep 07 - 03:47 PM (#2157276)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Jim Carroll,are you saying that Ewan Maccoll,TonyRose,MartinCarthy are Mediocre,I beg to differ,.Dick Miles


25 Sep 07 - 05:15 PM (#2157320)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

No, not all of them (two maybe).
I am saying they have nothing to do with a discussion on traditional singers - unless you are saying that's what they are, in which case, I beg to differ.
Now about that audition......
Jim Carroll


26 Sep 07 - 03:10 AM (#2157539)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST

If anybody with any knowledge of traditional singers is still the slightest bit interested in this Alice in Wonderland thread, I have a somewhat off-topic question.
I am working on the notes of the 'Folksongs of Britain' set of recordings released in the early 1960s (Lomax, Kennedy, Bob Copper, Sean O'Boyle etc.) and have come across a reference to a proposed parallel series of American albums.
Does anybody know if they were ever made?
I have some Lib. of Cong. albums of field recordings: (Charles Seeger's Barbara Allen, Korson's Mining Songs, Bronson's Ballads, Botkin, Lomax, etc.) but nothing as comprehensive as the F.S.B. series.
Any info. would be much appreciated.
Thanks,
Jim Carroll


26 Sep 07 - 06:40 AM (#2157600)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Jim, what I am saying is that the description of traditional singers you like so much could ,be used to describe certain revival singers.
would it in your opinion, be suitable to describe Ewan Maccoll?
Personally I think it would,I also think[though you clearly think differently]that it would aptly describe Tony Rose, Louis Killen ,Martin Carthy.
Dick Miles.


27 Sep 07 - 01:30 AM (#2158262)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Cap'n,
(Promised myself I wouldn't do this....)
From the time I have been involved with this forum I couldn't help but notice that you have never lost an opportunity to have a pop at traditional singers.
Way back it was claims that you were entitled to call yourself a traditional singer – you seem to have retreated from that stance.
Later it was how beholden traditional singers were to us revivalists for giving them a place to sing. When it was pointed out that the vast majority of traditional singers had never seen the inside of a folk club you (reluctantly) back-pedalled from that one.
At one time you were claiming that traditional singers should be open to the same level of criticism as revival singers are.
Then it was how well they were treated at the clubs.
Then again, it was how we should only judge their contribution if they were good singers.
Now it's how important is the description 'traditional singer'.
On a number of occasions, when traditional singers have been mentioned, you have blundered in with your own list of your own revival favourites in order, apparently, to diminish their contribution.
I quoted Lomax's summation of traditional singers as follows (this time in full):
"Here then are the ancient ballads of Britain, recorded from the lips of traditional singers in all parts of the islands, singing in the ways of their forefathers. Some of the performers have fine voices; others have voices that are old or hoarse. But all possess the true ballad art in some respect - the way of spinning the story and the poem together, not with the crude drama of the concert singer, but with the subtle nuance and understatement that is fitting to ballad art. The past speaks through their lips, but if you listen with attention you will discover fantasy patterns important to the present as well".
Your reaction – to compare them with seasoned revival performers well used to singing before an audience of strangers.
As well as your constant sniping at our source singers, you have persistently attempted to rubbish the definition of folk song (without, I couldn't help noticing, offering your own alternative).
Is it me being over-sensitive or do I detect a pattern here? I think I take your point – you don't like traditional singers, or, at the very least, you don't recognise the fact that the folk-song revival has been built on the material they have been generous enough to pass on to us. You appear not to have the faintest clue as to what the tradition is and how it works, yet you go on endlessly repeating the same arguments again and again (somewhat like your near-namesake Cap'n Flint – Long John Silver's Parrot).
It has been my experience that nearly all the revival singers I have met who sing traditional songs have been fulsome in their praise of source singers and more than happy to recognise their contribution to our pleasure and our knowledge; this includes all the singers you mentioned. Whatever I might think of his singing, I have to take my hat off to Martin Carthy's constantly referring to his sources and telling his audiences to go and listen to them (I assume you are aware that he was a friend and great admirer of Walter Pardon).
To my recollection you are the only singer I know of who consistently knocks traditional singers and who is apparently incapable of acknowledging the debt you owe to the people who have provided you with much of the raw material by which you make your living.
It seems to me that if you don't like, them the very least and decent thing you can do is to leave them alone to rest in peace.
As far as I'm concerned, these are the people who have filled most of my life with songs to sing and to listen to – and I hope that will continue to be the case to the end of it.
Never having heard you sing, I don't know how good a singer you are; I strongly suspect from your abysmal, oft-displayed ignorance of the tradition and its carriers, that you won't ring too many of my bells. However, should the opportunity come my way, taking a leaf from your own book, I will feel totally at liberty to give as free and honest and open an opinion of you as a performer as I am capable of.
In the meantime, I leave you with MacColl's summing up of the tradition at the end of what I regard to have been the best series of programmes on folk song ever - The Song Carriers:
"Well, there they are; the songs of our people. Some of them have been centuries in the making; some were undoubtedly born on the broadside presses. Some have the marvelous 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 of the plough-stilts and the hand-loom.
They are tender, harsh, passionate, ironical, simple, profound; as varied indeed as the landscape of this island.
We are all indebted to the Harry Coxs and Phil Tanners, to Colm Keane and Maggie McDonagh, to Belle Stewart and Jessie Murray and all the sweet and raucous unknown singers who have helped to carry our peoples' songs across the centuries".
Jim Carroll


27 Sep 07 - 06:11 AM (#2158356)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

You havent answerd my question re MacColl.
The rest of your diatribe is laughable and simply not true and not worth wasting any time on.
Please answer my question about MacColl.
In my opinion he was a good singer,a good interpreter of traditional songs and fits the description of the Caedmon/Topic quote.


27 Sep 07 - 06:38 AM (#2158374)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

You have libelled me,
To my recollection you are the only singer I know of who consistently knocks traditional singers and who is apparently incapable of acknowledging the debt you owe to the people who have provided you with much of the raw material by which you make your living.
please provide evidence,that I have knocked traditional singers.
I have not.
I do acknowledge the debt,reread my posts.


27 Sep 07 - 08:45 AM (#2158454)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Bryn Pugh

Cap'n -

Fair Comment on a matter of Public Interest is an absolute defence to defamation (the alleged Libel on you)

The authority is Lyon - v - Daily Telegraph [1943] 1 KB 746, per Scott LJ at 753.

This defence applies to expressions of opinion, not ststements of fact.


27 Sep 07 - 08:46 AM (#2158455)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Bryn Pugh

or even statements of fact.


27 Sep 07 - 08:53 AM (#2158461)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Wendy

Jim, Cap'n ... please stop! The thread asked 'how important is the label 'traditional singer', not 'Are source singers more important than revival ones'. I am a person who came to folk music through folk rock initially (Steeleye, Fairport etc) then, when my imagination had been fired and I wanted to learn more, I sought out the clubs and revival singers, Martin Carthy, Nic Jones, Maddy Prior etc. As the years have progressed, so has my understanding of the legacy of the music and so I have become far more interested in the 'source' singers and the work of collectors. As with many complex and wonderful things in life, folk music is a subject which is revealed to be more immense and unfathomable the more you discover about it in my experience!

For someone like me, the label 'Traditional' IS important, but not suffiently specific. 'Source singer' and 'Singer of traditional songs' may do the job better - for me, at least, it is important to know whether a person's repertoire has been handed down in the old fashioned way or learned for the purpose of entertainment in the revival. But the real trouble is that the edges are too blurred to make the distinction in every case (which I think is what Dick is trying to suggest). Many of our 'source singers' had songs in their repertoire which were the equivalent of the chart hits of their day. I am sure they knew the difference between the songs that had been in their family for generations and the song they heard at the local musical hall, but they were happy to sing both if the song itself appealed. Similarly, many of our revival singers have songs that their parents or grandparents sung, passed down in the old fashioned way, but because modern society makes more exacting demands in therms of the entertainment factor of performance, we can be guilty of dismissing these contributions to the tradition, assuming them to be made for commercial reasons.

If I see the word 'traditional' in the publicity of a performer utherwise unknown to me, I am far more likely to attend the event than if the contemporary aspects of a persons repertoire are stressed. Many revival singers are wonderful to listen to. They have great respect for the tradition, have extensive knowledge of the history of the songs they sing and are able to express the story behind the song in an absorbing and enlightening way. In addition they are usually competant to hold the tune and remember the words, which makes the listening pleasurable as well as enlightening. The same can be said of many of the performances & recordings of source singers of course. I am not prepared to say which is better. I can listen to someone like Sheila Stewart describing how she learned her mother's songs - the demands that were made on her, the attention to detail, the almost reverant way the songs were handled - and feel that I have no right to sing because I can never have that history. But then I can also listen to some mediocre folk/rock ensemble murdering a ballad and think 'thank god for the revival singers who are doing their best to look after our legacy'. But at least if the word 'traditional' is there, then there is a good chance that there will some merit in the performance.

I can't help but wonder ... if the source singers that are so respected were born into today's world, would they not be learning and singing songs in the same way as our revival singers? We are (sadly) unable to stop modern progress and I'm not sure we can establish how Walter Pardon or Harry Cox etc would seem if they were young men now.

For my money Dick makes a damn good job of singing traditional songs and is always careful to acknowledge his sources and the history of the songs. Many people do worse. And Jim's work over the last few decades is invalulable and unique and I greatly respect his knowledge of the tradition. You are both fighting the corner for our great legacy of traditional music. You have a common enemy in this throwaway modern world of lowest common denominator entertainment and five second attention spans. Fight that, not each other. please!


27 Sep 07 - 08:59 AM (#2158464)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Brian Peters

Jim, I don't remember the Captain denigrating traditional singers either generally or specifically on this or the other related threads. I know for a fact he has a great respect for them. What he's arguing, I think (and here I disagree with him) is that the category "traditional singer" is so fuzzy about the edges that it has little or no value, and that since traditional singing as once defined has now been so eroded by urbanisation and mass entertainment that it now exists only in isolated pockets, we should now regard singers from the 'folk revival' as the only contenders for the title "traditional". Personally I'm certain we still need some linguistic means of differentiating between Kate Rusby and Lizzie Higgins, or Jim Moray and Sam Larner - singers who (whatever their respective merits) are qualitatively different in character.

As for Bob Lewis, there is certainly a reluctance in some circles not unknown to this forum about using the term "traditional singer" to describe him. Personally I think he's one of the best we have left. But if indeed he's been frowned upon for having once worn a smock and done the occasional 'turn', the powers that be in EFDSS at least seem to have modified their stance. The most recent issue of the Folk Music Journal - an academic publication devoted to the tradition - bears on its cover a photo of Albert Richardson, the 'Singing Sexton of Burwash', who not only wore a smock and kerchief and was known for 'doing a turn' but also made commercial recordings in 1928. None of this seems to have disqualified him.


27 Sep 07 - 10:21 AM (#2158523)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Bob Blake sang unaccompanied,and stylistically was not different from his contemporary Sussex traditional singers.
I take BrianPeters,and guest Wendys comments on board,and to some extent agree with them[reKate Rusby],but Bob Blake is an example of a grey areas,that to me exposes the unsatisfactory nature of the label traditional singer.
Kate Rusby,Does bring young people into traditional music, a small percentage of whom ,go on to discover source singers,as some of the people did, who were introduced by Fairport.
In Ireland Comhaltas [amongst others] does this.


27 Sep 07 - 03:08 PM (#2158716)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Wendy/Brian,
Please accept my apologies - I really didn't want this.
I have come to the conclusion that Dick and I have nothing to say to each other; I said so at the beginning of this thread and have made efforts throughout to avoid any direct response to him. This does not mean I am not going to participate in a subject which interests me.
Re-reading past relevant threads, I see no reason to withdraw anything in my last (somewhat overheated) posting; my impression of the Cap'n's attitude remains as described.
I suggest we agree to differ and leave it at that.
Cap'n:
last answer to your request:
The Caedmon quote opens:
"Here then are the ancient ballads of Britain, recorded from the lips of traditional singers in all parts of the islands, singing in the ways of their forefathers".
This did not apply to MacColl, nor to any of the others mentioned.
One of the comments persistently made about MacColl's singing was that he did not sound like any known traditional singer, nor do any of the others mentioned by you. As far as MacColl's singing is concerned this is a fact, he ever tried to. His aim was to make the traditional repertoire acceptable to a modern audience. Whether he succeeded or not is a matter of discussion - it worked for me.
The quote goes on:
"But all possess the true ballad art in some respect - the way of spinning the story and the poem together, not with the crude drama of the concert singer, but with the subtle nuance and understatement that is fitting to ballad art."
This bit, as far as I'm concerned, certainly can be applied to MacColl's singing, but not to the other singers cited by you, (Martin Carthy's nor Tony Rose's) (a matter of opinion).
The quote describes perfectly the unique role of the traditional singer; MacColl, Carthy and Rose are/were all revivalists and, to my knowledge, never claimed otherwise.
Jim Carroll


27 Sep 07 - 03:22 PM (#2158731)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"...Bob Blake is an example of a grey areas,that to me exposes the unsatisfactory nature of the label traditional singer."

Years ago a mate of mine 'discovered' religion and became a bit obsessed by it. He invited a religious fundamentalist type, who claimed to be able to 'disprove' the Theory of Evolution, to address the members of our social circle (well, we were all a bit young and stupid at the time!). This bloke then proceeded to list a handful of anomalies and exceptions in the 'scientific literature' and then claimed that the existence of said anomalies and exceptions 'proved' that the Theory of Evolution must be false and hence the Biblical account of Creation must be true (the fact that the anomalies and exceptions appeared to have been uncovered by the 'University of Hicksville Dept. of Biblical Studies' was, in this particular case, a bit of a give-away...)!

Cap'n, the existence of a few anomalies and exceptions doesn't 'prove' or 'disprove' anything. And remember Mr Yate's wise words, which you yourself quoted at the beginning of this thread:

"Also, many people today want a world of certainties, a world where our every thought and desire can be seen in terms of black and white. But, of course, life is not like that and, kicking against this, we so often find ourselves suffering from the unsatisfactory nature of things."

Could have been written for you, that, Cap'n!


27 Sep 07 - 04:30 PM (#2158792)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Shimrod,
Because I find it unsatisfactory,it does not follow that I want a world where every thought and desire can be seen in terms of black and white.
Jim Carroll,you have consistently insulted me on this forum, you have accused me of denigrating traditional singers,which I have not,.
Furthermore you dont even have the good manners to apologise.
It appears I am not the first person to receive the unpleasant side of your tongue, for daring to have a different opinion to you.
I have read extensively many of the articles at Musical Traditions,[an excellent site]including the review of Around the Hills of Clare,and I have read your subsequent hostile letters[enthusiasms no 46].
We should be able to discuss matters on this forum,and have differences of opinion, without you calling me a Philistine,comparing me to a dozy wasp,and being a pain in the arse,Denigrating traditional singers [etc].


27 Sep 07 - 04:41 PM (#2158799)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

So at last you agree,that arevivalist singer[ Maccoll] can share some of the same attributes as a traditional singer.
quote from your last post
[[But all possess the true ballad art in some respect - the way of spinning the story and the poem together, not with the crude drama of the concert singer, but with the subtle nuance and understatement that is fitting to ballad art."
This bit, as far as I'm concerned, certainly can be applied to MacColl's singing.]]
Dick Miles


27 Sep 07 - 06:32 PM (#2158876)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

Any chance of you considering the bit in my last post about anomalies and exceptions not 'proving' anything, Cap'n?


28 Sep 07 - 03:45 AM (#2159072)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

To my mind, one of the finest revival singers in Ireland today is Len Graham of Antrim.
I believe he gained this position through his contact with traditional singers, his collecting work and his teaming up, first with Joe Holmes, then with singer/storyteller John Campbell.
More often than not traditional singers, no matter what stage in life they have reached, will have retained the nuances of singing, the ability to climb inside a song and make it their own, to re-live it every time they sing it. Listen to Sam Larner or Phil Tanner to hear this at its best. For me, each time they perform (on disc) it is like hearing the song for the first time. What comes across is the complete and utter commitment to the song and the singer's belief in it.
This also can happen for me with singers who are not as skillful as those above. I am re-listening to the Folk Songs of Britain series at present and again and again I am impressed with the singers' ability to move me, to make me become emotionally involved in the song. This can happen when the singers breath control has gone, when the voice is cracked, when much of the technique is reduced.
It is, more often than not, (except in a handful of cases) what I miss from revival singers.
Quite often I am impressed by a revival singer's technical ability, skill at decoration, breath control, but I come away without knowing what they FEEL about the song. This, for me, is the essence of traditional song - take that away and you have musical wallpaper.
There's a wonderful example of this aspect of music in the jazz film 'Round Midnight' when the young musician tries to impress the veteran with his ability and is told "Your notes are fine, but where's your story?"
It was this aspect that was central to the work MacColl did with The Critics group - the primary question at the workshops was always "did the song move you".
MacColl's whole approach to his singing was based on this. His ability to move his audience wasn't "handed down from his ancestors", but was worked for; as I said, it worked for me in his singing.
Jim Carroll
PS For those interested in the 'Around The Hills of Clare' dispute, I am more than happy that people should go back to the Musical Traditions correspondence which, for me, is a prime example of the abuse and denigration of a group of traditional singers, but please read all of it, including the relevant threads on Mudcat, and remember that the editor chose to censor the discussion when his reviewers were coming off worst.
Bring it up in this thread was, I thought, a somewhat nasty way of tryng to score points, but it takes all sorts......


28 Sep 07 - 06:15 AM (#2159146)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

Phil Tanner is still one of the best singers I have heard.

Sometimes you can get this feeling of a singer being "inside" a song when they are singing in a different language, I remember hearing a Scots Gaelic singer enthralling an audience not one of whom spoke gaelic as far as I knew. And then there was Joe Heaney. And one I have quoted elsewhere on Mudcat - being privileged to hear (and stood next to) four quite old Bulgarian women singing harmonies in quarter tones (at least I think that was what they were doing) which was totally spine tingling. We were waiting for lunch and they were passing the time away.

And that's a hundred.


28 Sep 07 - 07:57 AM (#2159204)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

I agree folkie dave.
PhilTanner,was a magnificent singer,I also rate very highly Harry Cox,and Jeannie Robertson,in fact I can only think of one traditional singer, I do not like,
I agree with Brian Peters about Bob Lewis ,and would add to his comment Geoff Wesley.
whether the ability to get inside a song[is conscious as in MacColls case],or unconscious, as Jim Carroll I think is suggesting with traditional singers, we shall never know as there are very few traditional singers left,and very few were questioned about this aspect of their singing when they were collected,so Jims assertion can not be verified,[unless he is going to quote Walter Pardon,and that is one instance,and should not be used to generalise from the particular].In the end does it matter[from an aesthetic point of view],if the end effect is the same whether it was conscious or unconscious.
[More often than not traditional singers, no matter what stage in life they have reached, will have retained the nuances of singing, the ability to climb inside a song and make it their own, to re-live it every time they sing it. Listen to Sam Larner or Phil Tanner to hear this at its best. For me, each time they perform (on disc) it is like hearing the song for the first time. What comes across is the complete and utter commitment to the song and the singer's belief in it]
above a quote from Jim Carroll,
When I listen to Bob Blake[Revivalist singer]Louis Killen [singing the Flying Cloud],Maggie Holland singing the murder of BlairPeach, in my opinion they all do this[climb inside the song and make it their own, etc.]
Musical Traditions no 23,has more aggressive/unpleasant letters from Jim Carroll,on reading these I had a feeling of deja vu,and realised that I was not the first person to have been on the rough side of Jim Carrolls tongue.
Jim you have persistently insulted me on this forum,and I am still waiting for an apology.


28 Sep 07 - 10:12 AM (#2159286)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST

Cap'n,
I am extremely sorry you are what I said you were.
Jim Carroll


28 Sep 07 - 10:58 AM (#2159320)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

no comment.


28 Sep 07 - 02:16 PM (#2159444)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Brian Peters

"I have read extensively many of the articles at Musical Traditions,[an excellent site]including the review of Around the Hills of Clare,and I have read your subsequent hostile letters[enthusiasms no 46]."

Without wishing to get sucked into the highly detailed, largely academic and often vituperative exchanges over MT's review of "Around The Hills of Clare", I must say that - as a regular CD reviewer myself - I've always believed strongly that it's the critic's duty to review the actual music first, with any comments concerning liner notes, cover art, etc. having strictly secondary importance. I learnt almost nothing about the musical content of the Clare recordings from MT's review; instead I read a staggering 8,000 words devoted almost entirely to criticism of Jim Carroll and Pat Mackenzie's accompanying booklet. Whether the criticisms were justified or not is beyond my expertise, but that does seem an astonishing ordering of priorities - as was pointed out in several of the letters that followed the review (see MT's "Enthusiasms #46").

Perhaps it should not be so astonishing that the tiny number of people on the planet with a passion for traditional song should be so determined to tear lumps out of each other but, nonetheless, I am astonished. The same goes for this thread. Calm down, dears.


28 Sep 07 - 02:56 PM (#2159472)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Thank you Brian for bringing a bit of sanity to all this.
Cap'n,
Can we please stop this now?
Brian and Wendy are right; there are far more important things to be spending our time on than "tearing lumps out of each other".
If all it takes is an apology - I apologise unreservedly; now let's get on with the rest of our lives.
To save your wasting further time, perhaps I could offer the information that I am never embarrassed by anything I've written. I wrote what I wrote because I believed them and thought them correct at the time; if I was later proved wrong, as far as I'm concerned it's all part of the learning curve.
So you won't have to search through the various archives, and by way of a peace offering, perhaps I could be of some assistance. In Jan. 2000 Pat and I wrote a long letter to The Living Tradition entitled 'Where Have All The Folk Songs Gone"; that ruffled a few feathers (I'm proud to say). (I'm afraid somebody rather spoiled the effect of this by writing an article saying nice things about us in either the next issue or the one after).
If you search the Musical Traditions archive you will find my comments on the story that Ewan MacColl stole Shoals of Herring from a traditional singer (this was round about the time of the CD re-issue of Singing The Fishing). More recently there was the set-to about our involvement with the Walter Pardon CD World Without Horses produced by Topic.
Somewhere in MTs letter archive you will find and extremely acrimonious exchange regarding a poison-pen campaign by 2 MT reviewers on the Mudcat and Irtrad forums (last year I think - sorry I can't be more specific).
I think the last contentious article I wrote (somewhere in Enthusiasms section on MT) was 'By Any Other Name', a reply to Mike Yates' 'The Other Songs' (might have both of these titles wrong, you'll have to check.)
I was a little embarrassed by an article I wrote for The Folk Song Journal back in 1975 on Travellers, but it was a long time ago and I was a little náive in those days.
Now can we agree to differ and get on with discussing important things
Best wishes,
Jim


28 Sep 07 - 06:21 PM (#2159600)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Apology accepted.


28 Sep 07 - 06:45 PM (#2159621)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Kampervan

Amen


29 Sep 07 - 03:47 AM (#2159770)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Meanwhile - back at the ranch.
Walter Pardon did indeed have the ability to climb into a song, he spoke at length to us about how he saw the characters and locations of the songs.
He was certainly not the only singer to do so. We did the same work with several singers, notably Kerry Traveller, Mikeen McCarthy, with the same result.
Unfortunately not a lot of work appears to have been done on this; probably the best example is to be found on the Rounder, Texas Gladden CD where she talks about the ballad 'Mary Hamilton', with a description of the execution - powerful stuff:

"I have a perfect mental picture of every song I sing. I have a perfect picture of every person I learned it from, very few people I don't remember. When I sing a song, a person pops up, and it's a very beautiful story. I can see Mary Hamilton, I can see where the old Queen came down to the kitchen, can see them all gathered around, and I can hear her tell Mary Hamilton to get ready. I can see the whole story, I can see them as they pass through the gate, I can see the ladies looking over their casements, I can see her as she goes up the parliament steps, and I can see her when she goes to the gallows. I can hear her last words, and I can see all just the most beautiful picture."

For me, the clue to whether the song is working lies in the phrasing. Unlike many revival singers, a traditional singer tends not to break up words unnecessarily or to breath in inappropriate places - Clare singer Tom Lenihan told us that you should sing the song the way you would speak it, where the tune allowed you to do so. He said that singing was storytelling with tunes.
In the West of Ireland they talk about "telling a song".
Makes sense to me.
Jim Carroll


29 Sep 07 - 04:39 AM (#2159784)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

I agree with this phrase of yours.For me, the clue to whether the song is working lies in the phrasing.
The same criticism could be applied to many whistle,and flute players[Both young and old traditional or revival]who breathe in innappropriate places[eg a middle of a musical phrase].
I agree with your next phrase too, IMO many revival singers would do well to think about their phrasing.
Furthermore the introduction of guitar instrumentals in a long ballad, as far as I am concerned only adds as a distraction.
Burl Ives[Revival singer]appeared to have the same attitude as Texas Gladden,When he describes the man in the song Barbara.Allen.
I[Burl Ives] always have the same picture of the man and the room,where he lay dying.

In the world of Irish/Scottish/ Northumbrian traditional instrumental music,there doesnt seem to be the same concern with traditional or revival labels,People just do it,sometimes well, sometimes not so well.http://www.dickmiles.com


29 Sep 07 - 05:31 AM (#2159795)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss

I'm having real difficulty understanding this argument - (I mean the musicalogical one).

I agree that there is a spectrum of communication you'll encounter in the singing of songs.

At one end there is almost a kind ot telepathy. A sharing of ideas, a level of spiritual communiciation between the singer and the listener, which imparts far more emotion and information than the mere words and tune would suggest - and, yes, this has nothing to do with technical ability, tunefuless or quality of voice.

Likewise there is another end, where you just get the words and the tune - and this also has nothing to do with 'quality.'

But which end of the spectrum you encounter when someone sings to you is down to a lot more factors than just how the singer learned the song, surely?

The technical skill of the singer, the depth of ownership he feels for the song, his ability to visualise and empathise with the story, and reflect all this in his delivery - plus your own mood and personality, your own preconceptions of the song, the situation you're listening in - and many other factors will all influence how well your two minds are tuned into eachother, and therefore how much you enjoy the show (even if it's at someone kitchen table).

You can get the 'good' end from a poor singer, a great singer, a new song, an old song, a collected song, a source singer - in fact anyone, if that communion is there. And you can fail to get it from all those as well if it isn't.

It has nothing to with performance per se, but how well that perfomance fits into where you, personally, happen to be.

To suggest that 'traditional singers' - I prefer the term 'source singers' (because that is a clear definition that we all agree on, I think!) are somehow intrinsically better at getting inside a song because they learned it orally (supposedly) than anyone who learns it from them (presumably from a recording or a book) seems a little strange to me.

MacColl could definately do it, as you say, Jim, and so can dozens of contemporary revivalists (is that the correct term?) such as our own Brian here. And it doesn't matter if the song is new or old. The singer either has sympathy, and is prepared to go to the edge, to follow the journey of the song, even if the road is dangerous, or he isn't. How theatrical or understated or whatever the singing may be is not the issue, it's how well that performance (for it surely always is one, by definition) clicks with you, in that situation, at that moment.

There is an entirely understandbale romance around source singers, their role as song carriers, their 'hotline' back into history, and their humility as well as their ability to make songs work for their own audience (which is what was happeneing at the moment of collection, of course). And we should indeed respect and celebrate these lovely folks' essential and vital contribution.

But at the end of the day there are two things that matter most: The song (for which we have to thank the writer and the editors over the years, including perhaps the source himself), which may touch you or not touch you according to personal taste, and the performance - which gain may touch you or not, according to personal taste.

If you get the double touch, then that's wonderful, and what it's all about. But it can happen any time any place, by anyone of any ability or background, whether they wrote the song, heard it from a chum, got it off a record, at Great Grandma's deathbed, on the radio, or were given it by a passing minstrel.

Am I not right, or am I wrong?

Tom


29 Sep 07 - 05:42 AM (#2159799)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Tom,I agree,very well put.


29 Sep 07 - 07:30 AM (#2159841)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss

Actually, may I hazard another thought about perfomance and understatement?

While agreeig entirely that phrasing is one of the most important tools to achieve the effect we're discussing, there is also the crucial issue of scale. (Size, not notes).

In my old day job, I often found myself putting actors in front of a camera who had learned their trades on a stage, and my first words were usually along the lines of - "please just say the line, ok. Don't act" because they were used to emoting on a scale suitable for an audience of 500 people, whereas a camera is just one person, and not very far away. If they 'performed' to the camera as they would to a theatre audience they just looked silly.

Likewise, much of what we enjoy about source recordings is the intimacy of the performace - which was often done at home on a one-to-one basis. And singers who were used to small 'family' audiences might feel quite comfortable with this scale of delivery, and so recordings of them work particularly well.

On the other hand, many 'revivialist' singers have, like my actors, developed their trades in the concert hall - so may perhaps have a tendency to over-emote in the studio (something I know I'm guilty of - a desire to compensate for the lack of an audience makes me quite desperate at times!), or even in small, intimate clubs (again, guilty milud, but I just get carried away)!

A good singer will scale his performance to the size and type of audience (live or recorded) - regardless of how he learned the song, whether he's being paid or not, whether he's reworked the material or is being failthful to a learned version, whether it touches him or not, or whether he's just handing on a song and wanting to do it justice.

Some source singers may have been perfectly happy singing to a big room, and might have changed their delivery to something bigger to suit. Others might not - but as many collections were done on the domestic scale, in many cases, we may never know.


29 Sep 07 - 08:06 AM (#2159855)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Tom,
Thanks for your thoughtful posting; plenty to think about - will go off and think.
In the meantime, MacColl argued that the only way to get an audience to feel the song was for the singers to feel it themselves. This appeared to be part of the traditional singers art, but not that of the revival. Unfortunately, we do not have enough evidence to say this for certain, only bits and pieces from singers like Walter Pardon, Tom Lenihan, Texas Gladden etc. I believe Ken Goldstein did some detailed work with New York State singer, Sarah Cleveland along these lines, but have never come across his conclusions.
Walter Pardon gave us a great deal of information on how he saw his songs, and how he detached himself from his audience while singing.
As an actor/producer/playwrite, MacColl was of the Stanislavski school and used such devices as 'emotion memory' and 'application of the idea of "if"'. He transferred some of that work to his singing. I have seen (and experienced) some of that technique in action with spectacular results, not in actual performance, but in preparation. The idea was that once you had established an 'in' to the song it was there permanently to be drawn upon. His recommended reading was Stanislavski's 'An Actor Prepares'.
It strikes me that nowadays the balance has shifted away from content to form; a friend put it nicely last weekend at the Frank Harte week-end when she said, "singing has become more about the singer than the song".
Jim Carroll


29 Sep 07 - 09:08 AM (#2159864)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss

MacColl was entirely right about feeling the song - but I think a lot of revival singers do that - if by no other means than by choosing only to sing songs that move them. This is a luxury that revivialists may have - over some source singers, who may perhaps have felt a duty to keep a repertoire alive which could have included songs that didn't personally move them.

I can think of singers (both amateur and pro) who make a lovely noise but deliver the song like classical musicians - 'straight off the dots.' I personally prefer people who may miss the odd note, and perhaps don't have a very pretty voice (like me, many would say) but who get the feeling across - as yes it is usually a matter of phrasing.

Interesting what you say about Walter, though - I was assuming from your previous that this was the opposite of what source singers typically did, in fact the very thing you were suggesting revivalists were guilty of?

I know exactly what MacCall was on about in terms of finding the 'in.' I only choose a song because it has moved me (to laughter, tears, awe, anger, sympathy, whatever) and that personal connection is my 'in.' Once there, it stays - in fact the challenge is to control it so you can deliver the words and melody without you yourself getting in the way.

I don't use MacColl's terms, but they're tried and trusted techniques that have as much to do with acting as singing - and you certainly need them if you're to touch 700 people who you can't actually see through the lights - or millions through a TV screen (a very different challenge).

I find the trick is to be half engaged, and half detatched. It's a difficult balance. Too close and you go too deep (and get a lump in your throat and sing like a dog etc), too shallow and you don't project the scenery (and it IS all about scenery, as any screenwriter will tell you)!

But when you're singing into a mic on the kitchen table these issues are less critical - so the song (assuming it does hold water) is more likely to do its job without the projection techniques.


29 Sep 07 - 12:41 PM (#2159955)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

There dont seem to be many plays of Ewan Maccolls,That are performed,compared to the legacy of songs he left us.
Opera singers are also taught correct breath control,and how to sing in musical phrases,and how to interpret a song, and bring the story to life .
However their large vibrato,

and overstating interpretation wise is stylistically[imo]unsuited to traditional music.
Why is it that a storyteller such as Eddie Lenihane can tell a story 20 minutes long and hold everyones attention,and yet even the most skilled singer[traditional or revival]cannot hold an audiences attention with a ballad for this length of time,does the music get in the way of the story.


29 Sep 07 - 03:06 PM (#2160027)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Tom,
Didn't intend to give the impression (re Walter's singing) about source singers. My belief (unproven but tested to some extent) is that most traditional singers 'saw their songs'.
Irish Traveller, Mikeen McCarthy said it was like sitting in the cinema when he sang. Walter had full descriptions of all the personnel in his songs. He once pointed out of his window and told us that the field opposite is house was where the Pretty Ploughboy ploughed.
He also drew inspiration from reading, (in his case, Dickens and Hardy mainly), for instance, using Charles Reade's book on transportation (can't remember the title) for Van Deiman's Land. I'll dig up a transcript of the interview (don't think I'm explaining this too well).
In my experience as an ex-revival singer, people learn songs for a whole load of reasons: good tune, nice poetry, special occasions (we used to do feature evenings in the clubs I was resident at), even an isolated line that takes your fancy. The trick is keeping them alive for yourself if you wish to go on singing them.
I was always under the impression that traditional singers never had this problem. Sam Larner sang the same song every week through most of his life (Butter and Cheese and All) at his local singing session, yetit always remained fresh. When he talked about the song he always told the listener about the big chimneys in his village where the young men hid to escape the press gangs.
I agree with you totally about maintaining a balance, but if you can get a song to click while you're working on it, you have always got that to fall back on.
One of the most skillful singers we recorded was a blind Travelling woman, Mary Delaney. She constantly had difficulty in controlling her emotions when she sang, describing a song, for instance, as "too heavy" (not referring to technique but emotion), and her humourous songs were murder to record (Kilkenny Louse House, Donnelly, Buckled I'd Like To Be) because she constantly burst out laughing in them.
I seldom get anything like that level of involvement from listening to revival singers, quite often coming away with the impression that I have been listening to technique.
Cap'n,
Interpretation (ie the passing on of your understanding of a song) is like any other aspect of performance, (articulation, accompaniment etc) can damage a song if overdone. This doesn't negate the value of interpretation any more than it does those other aspects.
Breath and pitch control and voice production are basic to all forms of singing.
As far as Eddie Lenihan is concerned, he rates in my estimation as one of the worst storytellers I have ever heard - personally I couldn't stand him for 20 seconds, never mind twenty minutes. On the other hand, I have listened to a well-sung twenty minute ballad (and a well -told two-hour story) with no effort at all. The music of the ballad is merely the device with which it is communicated.
Jim Carroll


29 Sep 07 - 03:14 PM (#2160031)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Iagree,that breath ,pitch control,and voice production are basic to all forms of singing,have to disagree about Eddie.


29 Sep 07 - 05:03 PM (#2160076)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Big Al Whittle

just read through this thread. I think I understand most of whats being talked about - but I can't undersdtand your need to insult each other.

What IS that about?


29 Sep 07 - 06:21 PM (#2160108)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

I have received apologies from Martin Ellison[Who was cautioned for sending a contentious post]and from Jim Carroll.I have accepted their apologies,and am a person who tries not to bear grudges,
I think the matter is best left there.DickMiles


30 Sep 07 - 03:20 AM (#2160293)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

WMD,
Over-enthusiasm on both our parts probably
Jim Carroll


30 Sep 07 - 03:50 AM (#2160297)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Big Al Whittle

I bet it is. You should be more careful!

Weelittledrummer of Mass Destruction


30 Sep 07 - 04:01 AM (#2160303)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST

Cap'n,
I am told, and am prepared to believe that Eddie Lenihan is an excellent childrens' entertainer, but for me he represents everything that has gone wrong with the storytelling revival, tweeness, bad-acting, lack of confidence in the story (displayed in facial contortions and his over-mobile performances). His inability to sit still while telling a story and his extremely eccentric delivery is managing to project a totally distorted image of the storytelling tradition. His idiosyncratic delivery has earned him the nick-name 'Eddie the Lepper' (note the double p, a reference to his leaping about).
We have an excellent, now quite elderly traditional storyteller here in Miltown, Francie Kennelly, probably the last in the area, but whenever an event is organised that requires storytelling, Eddie is the one they go for - a great shame.
My favourite story about Eddie came from an encounter he had with an elderly lady, the wife of one of our best local old-style fiddle players and storytellers.
He had been nauseatingly patronising to her, and as he walked away she was heard to whisper loudly (referring to his odd appearance), "He looks like a ferret peeping out of a hedgehog's arse".
Jim Carroll


30 Sep 07 - 04:48 AM (#2160307)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

JIM,
I am not an expert on storytelling,and your criticisms are probably correct[logically there must be all sorts of different styles with storytelling,as there are with singers and musicians]on the occassions I have seen Eddie The lepper[which are not that often],I found him very amusing,I can remember him holding the attention of the whole room for nigh on 20 minutes at Whitby Folk Festival[so he must do something for other people, apart from myself].
I agree it is a shame when one person or style is used exclusively,but that happens in the folksong world too,often as a result of networking,the folksong world is like everwhere else,it is affected by who you know,rather than how good an artist may be.
I am not saying that those people who get the plum jobs dont deserve it[they are often very competent],but the scene suffers because they get over exposed, because they are well connected.,and it would[IMO]be good for the folks cene ,for the plum jobs to be distributed more openhandedly.
What has Eddies appearance got to do with anything?.


30 Sep 07 - 05:22 AM (#2160314)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST, Tom Bliss

The relvance to this discussion of storytelling as a craft is crucial.

You've really got me thinking, Jim, with your suggestion that your source singers may have had a shared philosopy of 'seeing' songs.

I know all about this. It's a well established tenet of storytelling, and it goes way back to the dawn of the artform.

It's something many singers do because they happen to have great imaginations, but in story craft a good imagination is not considered to be enough. The 'world' of the story must have as much integrity as the story 'arc,' so needs careful and detailed construction.

Novellists, of course, have perforce to see their stories as they write, because they need to describe all the detail to the reader - and they have the luxury of having time and space to do it. People who write plays and films do not have that luxury on the page, but they also need to do it, just as much as novellists, because their work has to hold water on paper, and hold it so well that it won't leak when the other creative visualisers - the director, producer and actors - get hold of it.

The great story guru Robert McKee always insists that it takes as long to write a film or play as is does to write a novel - because all the visuals, places, people, clothes, everything MUST have complete integrity in the writers mind as he's writing. He doesn't have to descibe it - the images are technically the director's responsibility (though he can make suggestions) - but he MUST have the world of the film in his head, otherwise the story will simply not work.

Directors and actors for course know all this, and they have their own techniques for developing the world of the story from the writers beginnings. It remains crucial to the whole narrative process (and this applies to choreographers and composers too, by the way).

Now, I use this approach in my songwriting, because my songs are to me little movies (as anyone who's been to one of my workshops or read my book will know) - and I think like this because of my background as a writer and director.

What you're saying about traditional singers rings very true to me.

If you're right, what you're revealing is that not only have people passed down the songs (many of which are, of course highly visual - the very thing which draws me to them), but they've also passed down some of the wider story technique - the philosophy of story writing and telling which flows from the same source as all our other great narrative arts.

Now if this is so, then you may have hit a square point about source singers and revivalists. Some revivialist singers do use these techniques either on purpose or by instinct, but something important may indeed have been lost in the change between song transmission by patrimony, and song transmission by print or audio recording.

Maybe there was teaching and discussion around the controlled passing on of songs - and maybe that was the very reason for the control? So the giver would make sure that the recipient understood how to breathe life into the song, how to suggest the whole world of the story even though the words barely hint at it?

I may be taking this too far, but it's a thought.

If so, and this process has been broken by the Revival, it might explain why a lot of people do sing nice songs so blandly.

One other point, briefly.

Talking about phrasing: One story technique which is unique to song, but as important as the others above is the marriage of speech patterns to metre.

When I write for the page, or for the spoken voice, I have complete freedom of rhythm. But when I write to a tune I have a big challenge. My job as a songwriter is to try my best to match the natural rhythms and melody of the spoken words (and they have both, trust me) to the rhythm and melody of the tune. That's no easy thing - and it's seldom done as well as it might be - though many traditional songs are perfect, either because the original writer knew his or her stuff, or because the process has combed out the tangles one way or another.

And that's the critical point here. The writer can only do so much. The strictures of the medium are such that when you overlay the equally challenging demands of story structure over the demands of melodic structure you're setting the bar very high. (I personally believe narrative songwriting is the must difficult artform there is - but then I would!)

In the end it HAS to be down to the singer (as it is the director, producer and actors in the case of films and plays) to know his craft fully, to rise to the challenge, if the whole thing is to work properly.

Sadly, in the folk world, not everyone understands this.


30 Sep 07 - 06:36 AM (#2160327)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

No ,but quite a few do,
Including
Martin Carthy,LouisKillen,EwanMaccoll,TonyRose,NicJones,MaddyPrior,
John Kirkpatrick, Rosie Stewart,Brian Peters ,Anne Briggs
Sean Cannon,JuneTabor,JohnMearns,Kevin Mitchell,BurlIves.


30 Sep 07 - 02:58 PM (#2160537)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Big Al Whittle

do you think there is a correlation between them understanding and being dead?

I'd be uneasy if I were on that list.


30 Sep 07 - 06:23 PM (#2160666)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Tom,
I have to say that I am very reluctant to make any great claims that our findings among the singers we recorded have any great universal significance. It certainly was the case that those we asked, which were those we knew over a long period, all bore out what I have said, but whether this was a case of too little, too late, we really have no way of knowing. I must bore everybody rigid by repeating that there appears to have been very little research on the subject.
I can say that my interest in this aspect of singing was ignited by a brief conversation I had with Ken Goldstein (over a Chinese meal he generously treated me, Bob Thomson and a couple of others to in Soho, London, some time in the sixties). He told us about the work he had done with N.Y. State singer, Sarah Cleveland, who told him that when she sang it was like sitting in the cinema.
Shortly afterwards we interviewed Traveller Mikeen McCarthy who, coincidentally, used exactly the same words. Mikeen was a fascinating man; tinsmith, horse dealer, caravan builder, he had sold ballads (songsheets) with his mother, at the fairs and markets in the first half of the last century and had also sung on the streets for a living. With only a very rudimentary literary ability, he was extremely intelligent, perceptive and articulate; he painted pictures with words. On one occasion, when describing a childhood memory of his father telling stories to a group of villagers around an open fire in Kerry, he told us "the fire was so hot you could band a wheel with it". It was he who told us that if he ever came back to Ireland he would take us to the house where 'The Wild Colonial Boy' was born. Interestingly, he made a clear distinction between what he called public singing (selling broadsheets and street/pub singing for money) and "fireside singing". He described how his father would turn to the wall, or pull his cap over his eyes while singing or storytelling, in order to shut out his audience. Other singers of his father's generation would do the same.
We became very close to Mikeen over the thirty years we knew him and it was like losing a part of yourself when he died three years ago. I am in the process of transcribing the hundred odd tapes we recorded of him with a view to editing them into a book, or making them available in some other way.
We tried similar approaches with other singers, extensively with Walter Pardon, but also with small farmer Tom Lenihan of West Clare, both with similar results.
One singer we wanted to work with but didn't, was Mary Delaney, a woman who has been blind from birth; we simply didn't know how to approach her on the subject of 'seeing'. Even so, on a number of occasions she came up with basic descriptions of characters and locations in songs "blondie haired boy, whitewashed and thatched house (not included in text of song).
Having said this, we deliberately didn't overdo our questioning as all the singers were still singing and we felt it intrusive to use them as lab-rats and maybe intrude on the way they approached their song.
Some description of the work we did with singers is to be found on the Enthusiasms page of Musical Traditions web-site entitled 'By Any Other Name'.
I have for a long time thought that traditional singers were creative artists and our failure to recognise that fact early enough to gather the information has led to a gaping hole in our knowledge of the tradition.
I can't find the quote from Walter I was looking for, but (at the risk of making this another War and Peace) this is part of a talk on Walter Pardon we gave at Salford some years ago.
"In the notes to the I948 album Texas Gladden Sings Blue Ridge Mountain Ballads, Alan Lomax wrote "Texas sings her antique ballads in the fashion of ballad singers from time immemorial. The emotions are held in reserve: the singer does not colour the story with heavy vocal under-scoring; she allows the story to tell itself and the members of her audience to receive and interpret it in accordance with their own emotions."
Walter spoke once about having "the right strook" for a song, S-t-r-o-o-k, which according to Walter is an old Norfolk expression. It is not easy to explain completely but pace certainly comes into it. Walter said the old singers "always sang fairly steady".    He said it was the same with playing music - too fast nowadays; no-one can keep up. Must play the right strook or step dancers, for example, couldn't get all their steps in. But it's more than just pace. We recorded an Irish singer, Tom Lenihan, in Co. Clare and he said you had to "Put the Blas on it". He also equated it with speed, not too fast but not drag it out either. He always maintained that the story was the most important aspect of a song; like Walter saying you must have imagination. It's putting yourself in the song, believing in it, getting involved in it and therefore you tell the story at the right pace to communicate it.
Walter always showed a natural professionalism on stage. To him, performing was a job to be done properly and for which he prepared so that he did not forget words, or pitch wrongly in performance, and he only ever drank shandies,- slowly. And this was a man who became a public performer in his sixties after living a fairly sheltered or insular life, probably never having seen many live performances; suddenly propelled into this strange new world, which he took calmly and modestly in his stride. However, he did find performance quite draining so, at the age of 75, he felt it was getting rather too much for him and difficult for him to keep to the high standards he set himself so he decided to stop singing in public. "
Tom, you mentioned your book – what book?
Cap'n,
Eddie Lenihan is a remarkable self-publicist. There are not many people who can lay claim to being the cause of having a road re-routed in order to save a 'fairy thorn', as he did with the Ennis by-pass.
His eccentric appearance is, I believe, carefully designed to create an image – in my opinion it is classic 'Darby O'Gill leprechaunism.
While it is true that there are many styles of storytelling, I have never encountered anything remotely resembling Eddie's among those we met (several of whom had choice words to say about his antics). Nor have I come across written accounts which bear his style out. In my opinion, his 'style' does nothing whatever to communicate the stories, not does it present a good image for storytelling.
Regarding your list of 'aware' singers; do you know this or are they just your particular favourites. I know one on the list proved total ignorance of ballads by presenting one of the worst programmes on the subject, 'In Praise of Ballads'. Another told us at a lecture we once attended at Cecil Sharp House that "patter and music-hall songs should all be unaccompanied, but ballads and narrative songs must always be accompanied. We're still trying to figure that one out.
I have to say, of those on your list I have heard (never heard Brian), the singing of at least half of them show little evidence of such understanding.
Jim Carroll


01 Oct 07 - 04:08 AM (#2160908)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,tom bliss

jim, I'm on tour now and only have a phone for this so i'll be brief. what you say is fascinating and I think you're onto something very important. I'm very interested in the psychology of song and this goes to the very heart of it. I should have said 'booklet', not book. its been published in abridged form by living tradition but u can dowmload it from tombliss.co.uk. I plan some addittions soon, and would like to quote u and others if I may. its just workshop notes now.


01 Oct 07 - 04:35 AM (#2160921)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Bryn Pugh

Finis coronat opus.


01 Oct 07 - 04:59 AM (#2160935)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Jim,
Eddie Lenihanes appearance is not relevant.
You have no right to sneer or make disparaging remarks about a performer based on their appearance.
If you are not acquainted with Brian Peters singing,then you should become so ,if you wish to talk about revival singers you need to keep up to date.
In fairness,you should name the singer who presented in Praise of Ballads,and the year, so that if they wish they can reply,They may have changed their views,likewise the other singer mentioned.
I prefer to go by what my ears tell me when I am listening to a singer/Performer,not their appearance.


01 Oct 07 - 05:04 AM (#2160937)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

here are a few more to add to the list[FredJordan/WillieScott traditional and revival singers].Bob Blake revival singer,It could well be that Bob Blake was able to get inside a song,because he listened and mixed with a lot of traditional singers.


01 Oct 07 - 06:03 AM (#2160955)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Bryn Pugh

Spoke too soon, didn't I ?


01 Oct 07 - 12:22 PM (#2161197)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Brian Peters

Dick, I can happily forgive Jim not having heard my singing if he continues to regale us with first-hand accounts of the singers he's worked with - it's all very interesting. For what it's worth, I usually "see the movie" while singing a ballad, and one of the things I always try to get over to people in song workshops is that they should have a personal reason for singing each song in their repertoire, and not just go ahead and learn something because one of their heroes sang it and they vaguely liked it (and, yes, I admit to having done just that kind of thing myself). And when I say "a personal reason", I mean some kind of emotional involvement in the song, as well as an affection for a pleasing melody or a colourful turn of phrase.

Tom has made some interesting points here, not least the one about the scale of the performance environment. Singing to "700 people who you can't actually see through the lights" is a very different experience from singing to a small group in your back room, which (I presume) is why the folk club evolved as a means of providing an intimate kind of venue.

But going back to the traditional singers themselves, the point is that there is not a single "traditional style" - how could there be, when the singers' relationships with the songs and their performance were as different as those of Walter Pardon and Sam Larner? I think it's true that - as Jim suggested - those singers are or were completely committed to and immersed in the songs, rather than thinking too much about burnishing their own performance. But what then to say about Joseph Taylor, stylist supreme?

Lastly, since Jim mentioned Sarah Cleveland, I'm sure he'll be happy to learn that her grand-daughter Colleen is a singer very devoted to keeping the family repertoire alive.


01 Oct 07 - 12:29 PM (#2161201)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"here are a few more to add to the list[FredJordan/WillieScott traditional and revival singers].Bob Blake revival singer,It could well be that Bob Blake was able to get inside a song,because he listened and mixed with a lot of traditional singers."

I've read the above several times ... but you've lost me there, Cap'n.

AAAhhh! Wait! Fred Jordan DIVIDED by Willie Scott = traditional + revival singers. It's a sort of algebraic equation is it?

No, you've still lost me ...


01 Oct 07 - 12:38 PM (#2161208)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Big Al Whittle

Well Captain, everybody's said their bit. How important is the label traditional singer?

I take that its a label you aspire to, and some folks here don't want you to have it, cos you're something else - a product of the folk revival movement, say?

I think if you're emotionally committed to traditional material, you deserve the right to demarcate yourself from people like me who sing any old shit. I certainly wouldn't want to deny you that right.

As it does seem to offend some people though - perhaps you need to forge a new title for yourselves - traditionalistas perhaps


01 Oct 07 - 01:42 PM (#2161283)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

"Eddie Lenihanes appearance is not relevant."
Yes it is if it's deliberately cultivated as part of his act.
"You have no right to sneer or make disparaging remarks about a performer based on their appearance."
On this forum I have every right to slag off who I like - just like everybody else is entitled to, and frequently do. Incidently, I didn'rt sneer, I quoted one of is victims - read my post.
My remarks were aimed at the fact that he is a crap storyteller.
In fairness,you shou"ld name the singer who presented in Praise of Ballads,and the year"
Wouldn't be so ungallant as to mention maddy Prior's name - can't remember the year
Jim Carroll


01 Oct 07 - 01:50 PM (#2161287)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: dick greenhaus

Of course, traditional singers didn't sing only "traditional" material. I might point Jeannie Robertson's singing of "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-Wow"


01 Oct 07 - 03:49 PM (#2161361)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST

"If you are not acquainted with Brian Peters singing,then you should become so ,if you wish to talk about revival singers you need to keep up to date."
Cap'n
Have asked you before - please do not tell me what I am or am not qualified to talk about.
I would point out that if your argument was taken to its logical conclusion there would be many subjects you would not be allowed to contribute to.
Perhaps when we have sorted out this particular problem, perhaps we can turn our minds to your consistently posting meaningless lists of singers in response to - well, something or other - Burl Ives, for crying out loud!!!!!!!!!!!!
Brian,
Delighted to hear Sarah Cleveland#s daughter has taken up her mother's songs - would that it happened more often.
Jim Carroll


01 Oct 07 - 04:57 PM (#2161401)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

I find some of what Jim has to say interesting.
I do not like attacks on peoples personal appearance,or rudeness when someone holds a different opinion[response to Stallions post].
[wld]I have on aspirations to be a traditional singer,I enjoy singing both traditional and contemporary material.
I think that as there become fewer traditional singers to collect, this label will become less important,and its only importance will be for young singers to get an idea of style from the source, but[since the style of Bob Blake revivalist does not differ very much from George Spicer[traditional singer]]it seems a silliness for Blake not to be included[just because he doesnt have the right label].
it is also important [IMO]for people to listen to revivalists like Carthy and Nic Jones to show how skilled accompaniment can bring something different to traditional song,.
This music by its very nature keeps changing,.
I have played a small apart in this, using concertina and clarinet arrangements[way back in1980]when hardly any other people[apart from Bruce Turner Fleetingly with Maccoll]had experimented with this. see my recordings, Dunmow Flitch,Cheating the Tide.
Burl Ives may be meaningless to you Jim,but hes not to me,or to Roy Harris,HughieJones or the late Cyril Tawney,to me when he sings Barbara Allen he gets right inside the song .
you need to keep up to date with revival singers if you are going to criticise the revival in the 21century,otherwise your comments become ill informedhttp://www.DickMiles.com


01 Oct 07 - 05:09 PM (#2161405)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

above should not read ON aspirations but NO aspirations.


02 Oct 07 - 02:16 AM (#2161646)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST

"Roy Harris,Hughie Jones or the late Cyril Tawney,"
And the beat goes on.....
Jim Carroll


02 Oct 07 - 03:29 AM (#2161674)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Jim Carroll,you tend to state your opinion as fact,it is your opinion that Eddie Lenihanes appearances is deliberately cultivated as part of his act,it is not fact.
The above three mentioned singers all of whom are [in Cyrils case were]good performers,learned some of their performance skills from Burl Ives,.
Burl Ives[IMO] like Phil Tanner managed to interpret Barbara Allen, well,.
yes differently, and yes I do prefer Tanners version,but Ives Version is still IMO good.Ives also brought a lot of people to the folk revival who contributed[the above mentioned three ]to Traditional music[it was CyrilTawney who first recorded April Morning.

I would suggest you cant remember the year[in praiseof ballads ]because it was a very long time ago[30 to 40 years],
If you are not acquainted with Brian Peters Singing you are ill informed,and not qualified to make informed comment on the folk revival as it is today.Dick Miles


02 Oct 07 - 08:04 AM (#2161787)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Jim, I am grateful for your information about WalterPardon.Dick Miles


02 Oct 07 - 02:57 PM (#2162205)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST

"I would suggest you cant remember the year[in praise of ballads ]because it was a very long time ago[30 to 40 years],"
1990s - have a cassette of it somewhere to play when I want to remember how bad it can get.
"You tend to state your opinion as fact, it is your opinion that Eddie Lenihanes appearances is deliberately cultivated as part of his act,it is not fact."
Is this something else you know? Never mind, keep pluggin' and you'll get something right.
Jim Carroll


02 Oct 07 - 03:49 PM (#2162242)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Eddie must be the only one who knows the answer to that [or has he told you he deliberately cultivates his appearance as part of his act],so you dont know either.
Jim Carroll,you are always right.


03 Oct 07 - 05:32 AM (#2162570)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST

"Jim Carroll,you are always right.
At last - the message is getting through!!!!
Jim Carroll


03 Oct 07 - 05:52 AM (#2162583)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Dick Greenhaus raises an interesting point,
[Of course, traditional singers didn't sing only "traditional" material. I might point Jeannie Robertson's singing of "Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow-Wow".]
Bob Hart sang WhatFunny littleplace to have one,WalterPardon sang Old Browns Daughter[music hall songs?].
Jim, would you have collected from Walter a self composed song?other collectors from an earlier era may not.
Bob Roberts used to recite a monologue The Oily Rigs,
I suspect he wrote it himself.unlike revival singers[apart from LLoyd and his rewrites and self composed songs] who want full recognition for their songs,
Roberts[it would appear] wanted to pass it off as traditional[could that have been that he thought collectors wouldnt have collected it if they knew it wasnt traditional]or could it have been that he thought it didnt matter that it was self composed,
of course Roberts is another grey area being both a traditional and revival singer].
Or could it be that revival singers attitudes have changedsince the1950/1960,or could it be that Roberts AND Bert lloyd were also not full time professional singers[relying it as their only source of income].,and not needing every penny of songwriting royalties. Collectors have a duty to collect everything even self composed songs. Dick Miles


03 Oct 07 - 05:54 AM (#2162584)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

But only self composed songs from traditional singers?


03 Oct 07 - 07:01 AM (#2162625)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

Roberts[it would appear] wanted to pass it off as traditional[could that have been that he thought collectors wouldnt have collected it if they knew it wasnt traditional]or could it have been that he thought it didnt matter that it was self composed, of course Roberts is another grey area being both a traditional and revival singer].

Dick - we didn't start digging in the North Sea until the mid/late 1960's (North Sea Gas was discovered in 1965) so "The Oily Rig" is hardly likely to be very old is it? I don't know if Bob Roberts wrote "The Oily Rig" himself - but how the hell could he have passed it off as traditional?

As usual Dick you have seem to have great difficulty in distinguishing between facts and your opinion. What's all this about "...It would appear" or as you go on to say "....could he have thought that collectors etc etc...." Only to you Dick - you made those bits up yourself and I cannot for one minute imagine anyone would agree with you.

Finally when you say Bob Roberts was a traditional and a revival singer - are you sure you don't mean he sang songs he had learnt orally and he sang songs he learnt from printed material?

Many singers do that.

So if that isn't what you meant, what did you mean?


03 Oct 07 - 07:34 AM (#2162632)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Bob Roberts,never claimed he wrote the Oily Rigs,as far I know.
Though he was the first person to perform it,and brought it into the repertoire of the folk revival.
Folkie Dave,if youwant to know about Bob Roberts google him up.
I was asking a question,Attempting to ascertain why Roberts never claimed authorship of the Oily Rigs.


03 Oct 07 - 08:09 AM (#2162645)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

THE OILY RIGS,can be heard on SongsFrom The Sailing Barges topic[1977]12TS361,No reference to its origin in the sleeve notes which were by [A.L.LLOYD].


03 Oct 07 - 08:46 AM (#2162672)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Bob Roberts was also a songwriter,anyone who cares to visit this website will see that his daughters ,describe him as a charecterful singer[no mention of traditional or revival].
I suspect that future traditional singers,who may have a computer,wont allow people to collect their songs but will just record the songs themselves,and make some money out of them.


03 Oct 07 - 09:25 AM (#2162685)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

Captain - I was not questioning Bob Roberts whom I booked at a folk club I helped to run a number of times.

I question that whoever wrote "The Oily RIg" that it could ever be regarded as traditional; the idea that you suggested - that Bob wanted to pass it off as "traditional" is thus ludicrous. The suggestion about collectors is equally ludicrous.

Finally I would like to hear how you believe that Bob Roberts is a traditional and a revival singer at the same time.


03 Oct 07 - 12:50 PM (#2162812)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST

"Finally I would like to hear how you believe that Bob Roberts is a traditional and a revival singer at the same time."

He just IS (WAS) that's all!! And no amount of reasoned argument will persuade the Cap'n otherwise ...


03 Oct 07 - 01:01 PM (#2162819)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

I was trying to say,that I thought it was pecuiliar that Roberts,Who wrote Swell The nets Full and claimed authorship of it,did not claim authorship of OILY RIGS.I am also intrigued why LLOYD passed off songs as traditional.
I have never been convinced that Bob Roberts was a Traditional singer,[just a gut feeling,perhaps it was the fact he was not unaccompanied,all the other[that I can think of] of the english traditional singers have been unaccompanied], if you say he was,your undoubtedly right, although to me it makes no difference, he was a fine singer.


03 Oct 07 - 01:55 PM (#2162878)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: TheSnail

Captain Birdseye

to me it makes no difference

Er, so why did you ask?


03 Oct 07 - 02:08 PM (#2162898)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

Perhaps he didn't claim authorship of the "The Oily Rigs" because he didn't write it?

Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Captain Birdseye - PM
Date: 03 Oct 07 - 01:01 PM

I have never been convinced that Bob Roberts was a Traditional singer

Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Captain Birdseye - PM
Date: 03 Oct 07 - 05:52 AM

of course Roberts is another grey area being both a traditional and revival singer]

Now who would imagine the same person wrote both those statements?


03 Oct 07 - 04:24 PM (#2163014)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,irishenglish

Just to respond to something earlier in this thread when Captain Birdseye claims to have been one of the only people mixing concertina with clarinet on an arrangement. Now if you are talking about that one specific combination, you may be well correct, but I hope you aren't talking about the combo of woodwinds with concertina/accordion (whichever type you prefer), because there is most definitely precedent for that! Lest we forget your pal John Kirkpatrick's wife at the time Sue Harris and her oboe, and of course, Phil Pickett. Those are just the first two that leap out at me!


03 Oct 07 - 05:10 PM (#2163061)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

GuestIrishEnglish
I have played a small apart in this, using concertina and clarinet arrangements[way back in1980]when hardly any other people[apart from Bruce Turner Fleetingly with Maccoll]had experimented with this. see my recordings, Dunmow Flitch,Cheating the Tide.
Thats crystal clear.Dick Miles


03 Oct 07 - 05:52 PM (#2163106)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,irishenglish

First, I wasn't trying to steal your thunder, and I certainly agree that the music by its nature keeps changing, with fresh blood interjected! And I will answer my own question to yourself, yes you are talking about that particular combination-concertina/clarinet, and no, you are not talking about other woodwinds that were being used by other people before that time. (and yes, I know I didn't phrase it exactly as a question) It's great that you and others came up with an interesting combination, but that's what musicians should be doing isn't it?


03 Oct 07 - 06:00 PM (#2163126)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

yes,.
and to the Anonymous guest,[Possibly Jim Carroll] who said I have too much time on my hands,I have spent three hours today practising,PLUS I hour teaching.
That is what a lot of revival musicians do.


04 Oct 07 - 03:25 AM (#2163384)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST

Addition to below in response to the Cap'ns offensive suggestion above which I have just seen - I don't send anonymous postings - I'd demand an apology if I were a prat.

Whether Bob Roberts is or is not a traditional singer should be decided on a little more than 'gut reaction' (I'd try some Rennies for that). It depends on where and how he learned and sang his songs and whether the community he belonged to was a tradition bearing one. Personally I don't know enough about him to judge, but this is his CV from the BBC index.

"ROBERTS, Bob (A.W.)
Singer. Pinmill, Ipswich, Suffolk. 25.10.53 and 12.7.56.
Aged 46 (1953); a well-known sea adventurer. Was skipper of one of the last Thames sailing barges, the 'Cambria' plying between London, Ipswich and Yarmouth. When forced to earn his living on shore, he has worked as a journalist on sea matters for a number of daily newspapers. He has also written two books on his adventures: Rough and Tumble (Sampson and Low, 1935) and Coasting Barge Master (Edward Arnold 1949).        
He comes of a sea-faring family, his father from Dorset and his mother from Suffolk; went to sea as a boy in a coastal barquentine and as a seaman on coastal barges; a financial crisis at home forced him to work in Fleet Street. Sailed the Atlantic single-handed in a 26-foo cutter; doesn't know why. Shipwrecked on Cocoa Island (off Costa Rica; in the north Pacific; taken off in American schooner and then shipwrecked in her; finally rescued by U.S. Navy and towed to Panama. Then came back to barges; sailed last "bommy barge" for Everards of Greenhithe, and then with his mate Ted Evans sailed the 'Cambria' for Everards,"

As far as singers we have recorded Walter never wrote a song; the nearest thing he came to it was to put a tune to Thomas Hardy's poem, 'The Trampwoman's Tragedy', but as he never sang it to anybody but Pat and I, there was no chance of anybody else taking it up and putting it through the 'traditional sausage machine' so, as far as I'm concerned it cannot be described as 'traditional'.
A number of singers we met did compose songs. Junior Crehan, fiddle player, singer, storyteller (died 1998 aged 90) made a number. To our knowledge only one, 'Lament For Willie Clancy' was taken up by others in his community, and this remained unaltered, so his songs were always referred to here as 'Junior's'.
Duncan Williamson gave us several self-penned songs, but to my knowledge nobody else ever sang them. He was one of a number of people who claimed to have written 'Freeborn Man'. Interestingly (to me) 'Freeborn Man' and 'Shoals of Herring' have been taken up and altered by people they were written about (Travellers and fishermen), whether this qualifies them for the title 'traditional' is, as far as I'm concerned, a moot point. 'Herring' was 'collected' a decade after it was composed, by an American scholar (as 'Shores of Erin'), who described it as 'typical of the songs still to be found among Kerry fishermen'.
We have recorded literally dozens of songs, from Travellers and in West Clare, which must have been made during the lifetimes, or within easy reach of the lives of the singers, but the odd thing is that, except in a few cases, we have been unable to discover the identity of the authors. Two interesting exceptions were a couple of songs, one about a match-made marriage, another concerning a minor incident during the Irish War of Independence (or maybe The Civil War). In both cases we were given descriptions of how the songs were composed; both communally made by a number of people.
Song-making still goes on in Ireland, much of it nowhere near as self-conscious and introspective as that to be found in the UK. The Cap'n will probably be aware of Con 'Fada' O'Driscoll who continues to churn our such magnificent pieces as 'The Spoons Murder', 'The Pool Song' and a recent masterpiece 'Ben Hur', but as popular as these become, they stand little or no chance of becoming traditional as the machinery has been dismantled and that particular factory has been pulled down. Universal literacy and electronic communication have more-or-less guaranteed that new songs come into this world stillborn and the copyright laws have done much to stifle any chance of them entering the 'folk process' and being adapted. Can never see over 200 versions of 'Willie McBride' as is the case with 'Barbara Allen'.
Jim Carroll


04 Oct 07 - 05:02 AM (#2163423)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Jim, I said possibly.,however I apologise,it is the norm to put your name by GUEST.
Bob Roberts

Bob Roberts was a characterful singer with many songs about the sea, who is associated particularly with the Suffolk coast, and was known and loved by folk aficionados and sailing-barge enthusiasts all over the country. This article is written by Bob's daughters who are both active on the folk scene in the eastern region – Jill plays fiddle and dulcimer and Anne plays melodeon – and gives us an insight into the man behind the songs.




Ask people what they remember about Bob Roberts, and they'll tell you he was a 'great character'. He was proud to be a bargeman – a dying breed even when he first stepped aboard a spritsail barge in the 1930s; a man who loved sailing both for work and pleasure. He was a singer who could get audiences roaring choruses to songs he learned trading round the East Anglian coast and a master storyteller: a former Fleet Street journalist who could make bargemen's seafaring adventures come alive.



His broadcasting brought their songs to a wider audience; his appearances at folk festivals, on radio and television, linked a modern generation to the music of the days of sail.



Bob was born Alfred William Roberts in 1907. His parents were teachers: his father, brought up in North Wales, played piano, church organ, melodeon, concertina and fiddle. He ran Hampreston village school in Dorset and was visited by Ralph Vaughan Williams, maybe through his interest in folk music, maybe because he ran the church choir and played for village dances. Bob left Wimborne Grammar School (where he had a choral scholarship) at 17 and after several unsatisfactory jobs became a journalist, starting on the Orpington Gazette, and progressing to Fleet Street as a sports reporter on the Daily Mail.But his passion was sailing. He left the Mail twice for long voyages of adventure, complete with ship's cat and melodeon. His early songs like Haul Away Joe reflect his deep sea ambitions.



Back in England Bob couldn't settle in what he called the musty offices of Fleet Street. He loved the pageant of sail in London River and left to work on a sailing barge. Over the next 35 years he was in eight barges: three as mate, five as skipper. He picked up songs from East Anglian bargemen and countrymen, adding to his repertoire.



Bob married Amelia (Toni) Roberts in 1940 – they'd met in the late 1920s   - and in 1949 they moved to Pin Mill in Suffolk. He worked as a sub-editor on the East Anglian Daily Times, but then he was offered the barge he made famous: F.T. Everard and Sons' Cambria, and couldn't resist going back to sea. However, the handsome Cambria didn't entirely support a wife and two daughters. So hours waiting for wind or tide were spent writing books and articles on his battered old Corona portable typewriter.
This is from Bob Roberts website,There is no mention of the label traditional singer ,there is no need,he is aptly described without it,it is unnecessary, that is my whole point.
Jim ,thankyou for your post which is informative and interesting for ,and thanks for dealing with the points I raised.
Finally the Irish traditional music scene does not need to use these labels,[even though Comhaltas was formed because they thought it needed reviving ]people just play and sing.
GuestIRISH/ENGLISH,John Kirkpatrick is not a pal of mine,more an acquaintance,who recorded on Boxing Cleverhttp://www.dickmiles.com


04 Oct 07 - 05:33 AM (#2163438)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

Dick, do us all a favour and stop contradicting yourself in posts often only hours apart.

There is no mention of the label traditional singer ,there is no need,he is aptly described without it,it is unnecessary, that is my whole point.

You said he was both a traditional singer and a revival singer - something you haven't yet explained. You said you have never been convinced he was a traditional singer. You say this description from his website says it all - and then you tell us the label - does that mean any label for any singer - is not necessary.

Do make your mind up.


04 Oct 07 - 06:59 AM (#2163481)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

all that matters to me,is that I have got pleasure listening to his singing,I am off to play some music and sing some songs,.Dick Miles


04 Oct 07 - 07:23 AM (#2163491)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Betsy

How important is the label "traditional singer"? - Not important at all - it is a contrived description.
You could say "He /she usually sings traditional songs" - but even then - most people I know who have this silly description foisted upon them, enjoy a pint and a sing song with other forms / types of music.It's a silly label - it fully embraces that - holier than thou mentality.


04 Oct 07 - 07:24 AM (#2163492)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

"Jim, I said possibly.,however I apologise,it is the norm to put your name by GUEST."
No it isn't, I quite often forget to head with my name but I always sign my postings.
Jim Carroll


04 Oct 07 - 09:33 AM (#2163572)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,irishenglish

Dick, I'm not talking about whether you chat with JK on a regular basis that makes you his "pal." You recorded with him, you mention him on the home page of your website, you have a link to his site on your links page-YOU KNOW HIM, that's all I meant. In the U.S. that is a perfectly acceptable way to describe someone you know in passing, or slightly more than that.


04 Oct 07 - 09:45 AM (#2163578)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

I agree with Betsy.


04 Oct 07 - 11:13 AM (#2163664)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Brian Peters

"It's a silly label - it fully embraces that - holier than thou mentality."

All words are labels. If we are to discuss any topic (and traditional singing is a topic as worthy as any of discussion) then we requre a terminology. "Traditional singer" - by which I mean the Walter Pardons, Sam Larners and Phoebe Smiths of this world - is a perfectly reputable term implying no "holier than thou" mentality whatever. Some people prefer to use the term "source singer" for this category, in order to avoid the confusion that arises when "traditional singer" is used to mean "singer of traditional songs", but - as another Mudcat thread demonstrated - other people find problems with this term, too. Whether the singers concerned called themselves "traditional" (I daresay none of them did) is immaterial.

Incidentally, Jim Carroll's last paragraph in his posting of 3.25 puts very well the reasons why it's meaningless to discuss new songs "entering the tradition".


04 Oct 07 - 11:36 AM (#2163685)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: M.Ted

I don't know about anyone else, but I am thoroughly entertained and edified by this thread. If Mr. Carroll and Mr. Miles were not so completely agitated by one another, we would not have learned so much, or had so much to think about.

I am left to wonder if the "conflict" wasn't staged in order to create interest in a subject that, sadly, is not more widely considered....noo--


04 Oct 07 - 12:02 PM (#2163707)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,irishenglish

Personally, I think this conflict comes from two different people who both love folk and traditional music, but in two different ways. Not taking sides, I just think-play the music, listen to the music, support the music, get others to listen to the music,then get someone else to listen to the music, and don't obsess about minute details. In this 24hourgeteverythingyouwantinternetobsessedtabloidobsessed world we live in, we are all in love with not only the music, but the written and oral history of this music. I don't think its important to pigeonhole particular singers one way or the other, as has been mentioned in this thread before. We don't want to be exclusionists-let's leave that to the jazz fans! This music lives and breathes, and the youthful movement into folk music is something that we all need to support. As soon as the first field recording was ever made some would argue, this music has changed. Well, maybe it has, but it's still going strong, despite all these modern distractions. To digress, Dian Foster may have had her detractors for her work with the mountain gorillas, but her eventual point was,I think, let's worry about studying these animals later, we need to save them right now, before they are made extinct, and she was absolutely right to do so! I just feel like this attempt to label someone who themselves may not have given a cuss what type of singer they were is not beneficial. Just listen to the music.


04 Oct 07 - 12:08 PM (#2163716)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: curmudgeon

This is a great thread, containing far more wheat than chaff, the latter being easily separated - Tom


04 Oct 07 - 12:21 PM (#2163725)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,tom bliss

labelling music is always dangerous but its necessary too - for the same reason we label tins.

how important is this label in this case? well lets just say its helpful to use terms which do not mislead.

I'd use treaditional singer to describe people who acquired their songs mostly by aural means, a few sheets perhaps, but not, on the whole, recordings, because they were not around yet.

I'd use source singer only to describe singers who were actaully collected, wherever they got their songs from.

to sing in a tradional style is another thing, as is to sing a traditinal song.

I'm happy to call people like Brian a revival singer, because they haven't only got songs from people or print and they're working after recording changed everything.

I'm as songwriter influenced by trad material.

its easy to be precise if youre prepared to use a few more words.

problems only occur when people dont


04 Oct 07 - 12:43 PM (#2163734)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

M Ted,as if I would do such a thing,the last thing I want is for people to learn more about traditional music.
if Jim Carroll were to join mudcat,he could start his own threads.


04 Oct 07 - 03:05 PM (#2163857)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST

"I am left to wonder if the "conflict" wasn't staged in order to create interest in a subject that, sadly, is not more widely considered".
Damn it Bond, our cover is blown!
Tom Bliss and , Hope your tour went well.
I agree absolutely with yours and Brian P's summing up of the necessity and the pitfalls of separating the two. If we are to understand the tradition it is essential; for a singer this may not be the case, but I feel that an understanding of the background and origins can help sing the songs.
Tom - Would appreciate if you could point me to the Living Tradition which carried your pamphlet.
Feel free to use anything I have posted.
Jim Carroll
PS Regarding the Cap'n and my set-toos.
Our problem seems to be that while we seem to be interested in the same aspects of singing, we appear to be coming from different directions. Personally, I have no problem with robust, even heated argument, but I do become disturbed when it turns unnecessarily nasty.
I decided at one stage that I wouldn't respond to the Cap'n's postings, but I find that goes against the grain. If s**t and hair start to fly again, I'll go back to that decision, failing that, you'll all have to wait till the decree absolute comes through.


05 Oct 07 - 08:52 AM (#2164369)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: greg stephens

Brian Peters refers with approval to Jim Carroll's remarks about modern composed songs "entering the tradition". So sensible are those remarks, and (more to the point) so beautifully put, I thought I would reproduce them here so you can see them without looking back.
Here you go: nice one Jim.

"Song-making still goes on in Ireland, much of it nowhere near as self-conscious and introspective as that to be found in the UK. The Cap'n will probably be aware of Con 'Fada' O'Driscoll who continues to churn our such magnificent pieces as 'The Spoons Murder', 'The Pool Song' and a recent masterpiece 'Ben Hur', but as popular as these become, they stand little or no chance of becoming traditional as the machinery has been dismantled and that particular factory has been pulled down."

And, I might add, though most of the machinery has been dismantled in the British Isles, it is still working very well in other cultures and countries. And if you are interested, you can go and have a listen.


05 Oct 07 - 11:13 AM (#2164481)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,tom still on tour

jim, LT seialised it throughout last year, so any of the four issues has a quarter. my name's on the front, so easy to spot.

thenks for the offer. I've also just had some fascinating insights from my sister, who has a doctorate in medeaeval french stories, and is currently finishing a book. she has some great insights on narrative theory.

as for today, there are plenty of people making songs worthy of entering The Revived Tradition (crucial qualification). some, like George's Empty Handed because they are just damn good as any fule kno, others, like Bob Kenward's Man of Kent because they are written in the tradition, though they are not of it - again, crucial distinction)

tenterden, friday teatime


05 Oct 07 - 01:21 PM (#2164555)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

plenty of songs are mistaken for traditional,Fiddlers Green,Bring us a barrell,are two that spring to mind,.
whether they are entering the revived tradition,or whatever you want to call it,the important thing is they are being sung and passed on orally.,often without the singers knowing they were composed.
The only person I have heard of who stopped singing a song when he discoverd it was not traditional but composed,was BobDylan.


05 Oct 07 - 01:38 PM (#2164567)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Brian Peters

Yes, it's true that the works of John Connolly, Keith Marsden, Dave Webber and others have passed into the canon of songs sung for pleasure in informal sessions within the folk revival, and that the people who sing them often believe them to be traditional. I'm sure some of Tom's compositions are destined for that status too. The folk movement has its traditions like any other community (raffles, cheek-popping in 'Pleasant and Delightful', people who say "it's good enough for folk", etc.), but it differs from, say, agricultural, fishing or mining communities in which songs were sung for relaxation and entertainment, in that the songs themselves are the whole reason for the folk community's existence. Tom's term "Revived Tradition" acknowledges that.

When I endorsed that very elegant paragraph of Jim's (reprinted by Greg) giving the reasons why the traditional process as a widespread phenomenon is scarcely in existence any longer, I was - of course - not making any kind of value judgement on modern compositions by songwriters working in the folk revival.


05 Oct 07 - 02:03 PM (#2164584)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Brian,Fiddlers Green,has entered the tradition in Ireland,Along with Three score and ten[as youknow originally acomposed song]these songs are very popular with the fishing community[which hasNothing to do with the folk revival].DickMiles


05 Oct 07 - 02:10 PM (#2164589)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,tom now in a chinese restaurant

very well put Brian.

the oral/aural process continues. sometimes we don't need to qualify the word traditional, but sometimes we really should.

these distinctions can be crucial, and a habit of checking to see if an adjective would be helpful, would itself be helpful.


05 Oct 07 - 02:12 PM (#2164593)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,tom

ps - well I eat too fast if I don't read something!


05 Oct 07 - 02:47 PM (#2164611)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST

"Fiddlers Green,has entered the tradition in Ireland,Along with Three score and ten".
Cap'n,
I don't want a violent argument about this (and if one starts I'm taking my ball and going home), but, on the basis of a song being popular does not mean it has entered a/the/any tradition, could you qualify this statement.
Jim Carroll


05 Oct 07 - 04:04 PM (#2164646)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

well Jim,they are sung by people in pubs[not for money] and at other social gatherings,in fishing communities[fishermen clearly empathise with these songs],also at g.a.a. scors[mistakenly thinking its irish trad].It is popular with a community that understands the sentiments of the songs,if for instance Dark as a Dungeon[MerleTravis] or The Durham Lockout[Composed piece byTommy Armstrong] was sung by miners,at their socialclubs,or wherever I would say it has entered their tradition.
you are welcome to take your ball anywhere[even into the Jews Garden]but that is my opinion,Durham Lockout has entered the tradition,so has FiddlersGreen and Three Score and Ten.Dick Miles


05 Oct 07 - 04:24 PM (#2164654)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Dave Sutherland

Please let us know which song Bob Dylan dumped Captain


05 Oct 07 - 04:34 PM (#2164659)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

I was told,it was Paul Metsers song, Farewell to the GoLD,
I said dropped, not dumped.


05 Oct 07 - 04:38 PM (#2164661)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Dave Sutherland

There is a difference??


05 Oct 07 - 04:52 PM (#2164670)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

now clearly, I cant prove Bob Dylan,dropped the song because it was composed,but Bob Dylan performs Bob Dylan songs, but not songs composed by anyone else.Dumped is different from Dropped,Dylan is inconsequential anyway [IMO].


05 Oct 07 - 06:00 PM (#2164713)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: greg stephens

Captaiun Birdseye: Bob Dylan has always sung songs written by other people. Where you get some of your ideas from, I can't imagine.And really, to claim that a song has "entered the tradition" because fishermen sing it is just laughable. I think you mean , "the songs are popular".


05 Oct 07 - 11:26 PM (#2164876)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Art Thieme

Tom,
Eating in a Chinese restaurant is no guarantee you will emerge from there oriented!

To answer the query stated in the title of this thread:

The label "traditional singer" is not important at all. What is important is whether you are one or not. If you are, you are. And no amount of verbiage spewed within the confines of this thread will alter that fact.

Art Thieme


06 Oct 07 - 12:57 AM (#2164897)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Barry Finn

"Eating in a Chinese restaurant is no guarantee you will emerge from there oriented!"


Wonderful turning of a phrase Art, well said!

Barry


06 Oct 07 - 02:36 AM (#2164934)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST

"but that is my opinion,Durham Lockout has entered the tradition,so has FiddlersGreen and Three Score and Ten.Dick Miles"
Cap'n,
You had my heart fluttering for a time there - I thought for a minute you had found a little pocket where the tradition is still thiriving - ah well!
By your reckoning the 'Birdie Song' and 'Oobla-Dee, Oobla Dah' would be up there with 'Lord Gregory' and 'Farmer Michael Hayes' - not the case I'm afraid.
Jim Carroll


06 Oct 07 - 03:52 AM (#2164950)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Big Al Whittle

Most of Dylan's first album was not self composed, as were many of the songs on Self Portrait. And in the film Don't Look Back - he performs Hank William's song Lost Highway word perfectly in his hotel room.

The reason that as a songwriter and performer, he can move seamlessly from one genre to another; is that he has immersed himself assiduously in the traditions that were important to him.

the process is bigger than you are allowing.


06 Oct 07 - 04:26 AM (#2164960)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Greg.
I mean the songs have entered the tradition,that means[to me] they are songs about fishing being sung by fishermen,the Birdie song and ooh bla da,are not songs about the singers occupation,
The Durham Lockout[Composed piece]is considered to have entered the tradition for the same reason,
Which songs has Dylan ever recorded/performed that are composed by other people,I cant think of any,In fact most songwriters very rarely perform other peoples songs.
In the following book The Shuttle and the Cage there are composed pieces including the Gresford Disaster[which has entered the tradition].
here is the preface from the Shuttle and The Cage[Ewan Maccoll march 1954]
There are no nightingales in these songs, no flowers - and the sun is rarely mentioned, their themes are work, poverty, hunger and exploitation. They should be sung to the accompaniment of pneumatic drills and swinging hammers, they should be bawled above the hum of turbines and the clatter of looms for they are songs of toil, anthems of the industrial age.

Few of these songs have ever appeared in print before, for they were not made with the eye to quick sales - or to catch the song-plugger's ear but to relieve the intolerable daily grind.

If you have spent your life striving desperately to make ends meet; if you have worked yourself to a standstill and still been unable to feed the kids properly, then you will know why these songs were made. It you have worked in a hot pit, wearing nothing but your boots and felt that the air you were breathing was liquid fire, then you will know why these songs were made. If you have crouched day after day in a twelve-inch seam of coal with four inches of water in it, and hacked with a small pick until every muscle in your body shrieked in protest - then you will know why these songs were made.

The folklore of the industrial worker is still a largely unexplored field and this collection represents no more than a mere scratching at the surface. A comprehensive survey of our industrial folk-song requires the full collaboration of the Trade Union movement. Such a survey would, undoubtedly, enrich our traditional music.
Fiddlers Green and Three Score and Ten have entered the tradition,[imo]because the community that the song is about,has taken the song to its heart[often regarding it a traditional]and sings it, because that community through its work experience relates to it.
Jim nobody through their work experience relates to the Birdie song.

.


06 Oct 07 - 04:45 AM (#2164966)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: greg stephens

Well Cap'n, your arguments always twist and turn, but this new one is breathtaking. So your new definition of a traditional song is "a song that someone sings about their own occupation". So, if I sing a song about a guitarist, it's a traditional song? Don't be silly, please.
As to your request for me to tell you what songs Dylan sings that he didn't compose: well, you've got a computer, and one thing you'll find plenty of in nerdynetland is Dylan discographies. Or just read a few posts back. But, just to start you off, did Dylan write "Blue Moon"? Did Dylan write "The Copper Kettle"?


06 Oct 07 - 05:02 AM (#2164969)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Big Al Whittle

I would most heartily concur with what you are saying Dick.

Thirty years ago when i first came to live in what was a mining area (North Notts), I was already deeply into folk music.

There were very few miners in the folk clubs, which were for the main part a middle class enclave.

However there was folkmusic amongst the miners. They had taken into their hearts Merle Travis's Dark as a Dungeon - and that song that starts Its a Working Man I am.....Later on when I did a few supply contracts in the schools round here, I found they had taught all these country style songs to their children.

And later still when Thatcher was calling the miners 'the enemy within', there was a great fashion for The Dubliners led by a Selston miner/singer called Dave Guy and his band at the time Kelly's Heroes. There was at some level an identification with the hatred of British/patrician/imperialistic pomposity which thatch revelled in. Irish folk is in fact still quite potent round here in what it invokes.

This is what I can never get anybody to empathise with on Mudcat - folkmusic is visceral stuff - and it is something which happens in the hearts of the audience, and the performers. folkmusic without the folk is pretty much a nonsense.

And as for the Birdy song which people sometimes dance to, and once danced to a lot - why is it to be considered to inferior to the mazurkas, schottisches, and polkas - which nobody dances to.


06 Oct 07 - 06:22 AM (#2164982)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

I think Dick may have something interesting here.

Dick - do these fishermen sing "Three Score and Ten" as sung by the Watersons, do they have a version perhaps that no-one has come across and which has been moulded by the tradition?

Do they sing "Shoals of Herring" from the Radio Ballad version or from some other version which has been moulded by the tradition?

And perhaps most important of all what other songs do they sing?

I mean clearly you have been out listening to these people sing and I seem to remember you saying it was the collectors duty to record everything the people sang. So apart from these two songs what else do they sing?

I am not suggesting you have been collecting but you must have heard them sing.


06 Oct 07 - 06:23 AM (#2164983)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: greg stephens

Great stuff, WLD, at last something we can heartily agree on! I have been a dance muscian for a good many decades, and I like playing the Birdy Song, and people of intelligence and charm love dancing to it. And I can safely say that mazurkas do not feature heavily in the repertoire of stuff I play at dances, though I do know a couple I play for fun and for people to listen to.
   What I don't agree with you is your evident hostility to schottisches and mazurkas. Thinking about them actually seems to make you angry, and many other people hate the Birdy Song. Why does all this hostility infect the folk scene? Personally, I love mazurkas, schottisches, and the Birdy Song.Though other things make me extremely angry, so it's not as if I'm just a calm person. The modern plotlines in the Archers make me ill, for example.


06 Oct 07 - 06:25 AM (#2164984)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Betsy

I know two Welsh guys ( one an ex-steel worker, the other ex-miner ) whenever I mention traditional song ,they love (especially when they're half pissed ) love to tell me what a load of bollocks it all is.
Apparently they were mentally scarred into ever wanting hear anything to do with the phrase or word "Traditional music" after having to sit through someone singing Watercress-o. They have great glee in telling me they retired to the bar of the working mans club from the room where this folk club was being held, and had a proper sing-song,-Delilah et al.
I hope now that WLD can now retract his statement "I can never get anybody to empathise......" and that I empathise entirely - so - you HAVE found somebody.
Also all these songs will be sang today by thousands and tens of thousands , Waltzing Matilda ( Ozzies ) Flower of Scotland ( obvious ) Wild Rover [parody](every football ground throughout Britain) Fields of Athenry (Liverpool supporters) not mention Sweet chariot, Bread of Heaven , shows that people DO love a sing-song.
The label is irrelevant - is the singer going to bore the tits of us is the question .


06 Oct 07 - 06:42 AM (#2164993)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Big Al Whittle

What I don't agree with you is your evident hostility to schottisches and mazurkas.

well okay but there should be a statute of limitation. no longer than ten minutes and and some agreement about the key changes before they start.


06 Oct 07 - 06:43 AM (#2164994)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Betsy

Folkiedave - thankyou - that was refreshingly mischevious without being malicious .


06 Oct 07 - 06:46 AM (#2164997)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: greg stephens

Well, I think ten minutes is a very handsome allowance, WLD. Too kind if you ask me, five would be ample, then cut the strings(or bellows).


06 Oct 07 - 07:34 AM (#2165021)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Brian Peters

"Also all these songs will be sang today by thousands and tens of thousands..."

All the examples you mention, Betsy - with the possible exception of 'Waltzing Matilda' are sung by crowds at sporting occasions. Citing football chants as one of the last survivals of the folk process isn't a new idea (we've been there quite recently on Mudcat) but that doesn't mean they're the same thing as traditional songs. People do indeed love a singalong and many don't want to listen to an ancient ballad, but that doesn't prove the inferiority of the ballad.

'Watercress-O' isn't my favourite song either, but I suspect your Welsh acquaintances' exit from the folk club had much to do with perceived differences in social class.

The reason that WLD doesn't often find empathetic souls on this forum is that many of his posts are based on the premise that the rest of us are middle-class tossers who have an inexplicable taste for crap songs. When I read a phrase about "singers boring the tits off us" I tend to suspect a similar agenda. Well, I've had the tits bored off my by 'The Wild Rover' many more times than by 'Lord Gregory', so I guess that's a matter of subjective judgement. Actually I'm very happy to empathise with WLD in his statement that "folk music is visceral stuff", but not with the implication that what people like Jim Carroll have collected and that Dick Miles sings is not "visceral stuff".

Lastly, although I take WLD's point about the Notts. mining community's folk culture, the key phrase was "thirty years ago". The same goes for many of the other communities that once sustained a singing tradition. Our society is - we are constantly being told - getting more and more fragmented. We don't know our neighbours, we don't all work in the local mill, we don't all get together in the same pub in the evening, our entertainment is fed to us rather than made by ourselves, and we don't even watch Morecombe and Wise any more. I think that's what Jim was talking about when he spoke of the machinery being dismantled. Opportunities for people to enjoy the kind of sing-song that makes all of us feel good are dwindling. At least in the specialised enclave that is the folk scene we can still sing for pleasure.


06 Oct 07 - 07:40 AM (#2165024)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Big Al Whittle

' an inexplicable taste for crap songs.'

not inexplicable........


06 Oct 07 - 08:03 AM (#2165034)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Brian Peters

Explain, then.


06 Oct 07 - 08:38 AM (#2165049)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Big Al Whittle

well I think its a sort of middle class atavistic drive for solidarity. keeps the plebs away. they're not going to bother with these songs where the substance is at very best hidden and in many cases negligible.

so we'll sing it in this daft voice. we won't actually bother learning the words (or the tune) only professionals do that and we're gifted amateurs, who could be professionals if we wanted, but we'd rather be quantity surveyors.


06 Oct 07 - 08:49 AM (#2165057)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Why do people automatically assume that a reluctance to define songs as folk or traditional implies a dislike?
Jim Carroll


06 Oct 07 - 09:05 AM (#2165067)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Betsy

Hang on WLD !!!! what have Quantity Surveyors done to deserve this ?.(thread creep) The oldest company - George Corderoy founded 1780 London .
It isn't a yuppy profession that those two ill-informed middle class tarts Lawry and Fry would have you believe.
First rule in construction ( and many other things ) if you can't quantify it - you can't properly manage it.


06 Oct 07 - 09:24 AM (#2165071)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Big Al Whittle

sorry! just having fun!

well its not that Jim, but blokes like me and Jack Hudson, we've wanted to be a folksingers like Bob Dylan since we were kids. that's all we've wanted to do - all we've worked at.

Now you come along after all our efforts and you say we're not folksingers. its a bit of a pisser by any standards!


06 Oct 07 - 09:46 AM (#2165089)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: greg stephens

Why not just strive to be a singer like Bob Dylan? Or Frank Sinatra? Or Amy Winehouse? Or Paul Robeson? "Folk" does not mean "good", you know, whatever it means.


06 Oct 07 - 09:54 AM (#2165095)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Brian Peters

"well I think its a sort of middle class atavistic drive for solidarity. keeps the plebs away. they're not going to bother with these songs where the substance is at very best hidden and in many cases negligible."

Hidden? Negligible? I'm really not sure what songs you're talking about here, or which ones you'd prefer. Most of the traditional songs I know wear their hearts on their sleeves, and if you think 'Hind Horn' or 'Sheepcrook and Black Dog' lack substance, then you haven't been listening. Or are you making some kind of suggestion that people from society's lower strata find the old songs too demanding? Cecil Sharp's informants and the travellers that Jim collected from didn't seem to have any problems with that.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the funeral of Joe Kerins, a Mancunian Irishman and working man who sang a belting 'Lord Gregory' and a wealth of other songs both serious and hilarious. For years he was resident at the city-centre folk club I went to for years, along with a bunch of regulars extremely diverse in both musical orientation and social rank. What is this shit about "keeping the plebs at bay"? I just don't get it. Mass entertainment and personal technology have worked their seductive wiles right across the social spectrum. You seem to be saying that because traditional music isn't the music of the masses (whatever 'the masses' consist of these days), then there must be something inherently wrong with it. You might as well say the same about Shakespeare - perhaps you would. The fact is it's a specialised musical interest, and that's why Mudcat exists - to bring its enthusiasts together.


06 Oct 07 - 09:57 AM (#2165099)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Brian Peters

A bit careless there....

Mudcat, of course, exists to bring enthusiasts of 'folk music' of all kinds, however defined, together.


06 Oct 07 - 10:19 AM (#2165112)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Big Al Whittle

Well you don't get a lot of working class types at the heavily subsidised theatre seats in Stratford do you? You certainly don't get them guffawing at Shakespeare's witless jokes if they are there -those are upper class expressions of merriment, that I hear. Its like traditional folksong - you've got to be bloody intelligent to find the entertainment value.

Really Brian, you can't see the socially divisive nature of traditional folksong, I'm sorry. I think its a very intentional strand as well.


06 Oct 07 - 10:25 AM (#2165115)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: the button

"traditional folksong - you've got to be bloody intelligent to find the entertainment value."

I don't think that's true, and even if I did, I wouldn't accept that intelligence maps quite so neatly onto class divisions.


06 Oct 07 - 10:38 AM (#2165124)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

I think what you say is absolutely true WLD. Indeed I am a great lover of traditional song.


06 Oct 07 - 10:48 AM (#2165130)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Big Al Whittle

well there you are

does anyone know if theres a session at The Three Stags Heads Wardlow Mires tonite?

the landlord is feigning ignorance as usual.


06 Oct 07 - 11:32 AM (#2165154)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: greg stephens

Well, WLD, you couldn't get a singer(or his audience) much much more middle class than Bob Dylan, and you seem to be quite an admirer of his. He never had a No 1 hit, though he'd have quite liked to.So, though not as obviously working-class music as Clive Dunn or Benny Hill(both much more popular), Dylan's not that bad is he? I mean, what is actually wrong with being middle class?


06 Oct 07 - 12:15 PM (#2165187)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Big Al Whittle

sod Bob dylan, I wouldn't have minded a number one hit...!

actually he did, Manfred Mann singing the Mighty Quin was number one. As a writer he's had a number one - I'd settle for that.


06 Oct 07 - 12:53 PM (#2165214)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Brian Peters

Yes WLD, I thought you might say something to the effect that only posh people enjoy Shakespeare. Though this wasn't the case in the bard's time, and doesn't need to be now, given appropriate production and venue (he does get performed outside Stratford and the West End, I believe).

As the button delicately pointed out, it's a short but perilous step from dismissing certain sections of the arts as too highbrow, to suggesting that "working class types" are too thick to "get it".

Traditional song "socially divisive"? Was Fred Jordan upper or middle class, then? Walter Pardon? Do you mean the songs themselves, or the people who like them? Two different arguments, and I disagree with you on both, but really we're getting way off the topic here.

I'd come down to the Three Stags - a good pub, and only half an hour away - and spoil your evening by singing "Long A-Growing" if I wasn't looking after my son tonight (we've videoed "Night of the Demon" in readiness).

I do 'Mighty Quin' as well; what was Mr. Z. on when he wrote it??


06 Oct 07 - 12:56 PM (#2165220)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

I do consider that Dark as The Dungeon,and Working Man I am ,have entered the tradition.WLD is right[imo].
Greg Stephens,by giving two examples,of dylan songs which he recoreded early in his career ,proves nothing apart from that I should have phrased my remark more carefully[DYLAN99 percent ,of the time, does not record songs by other composers,apart from early in his career and then it was only occassionally].
if youdont believe me, re Farewell to the Gold contact PaulMetsers the songs author.
The folkscene is 90 percent middle class.,and some of the attitudes of folkies are contrived and snobbish and precious,this to me has been illustrated by some of the contributors on this thread.


06 Oct 07 - 01:03 PM (#2165227)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: greg stephens

Capn Birseye: so Bob Dylan only sang songs wruitten by other people early in his career, did he? Well, what stage of his career is he in now, would you say?


06 Oct 07 - 01:26 PM (#2165250)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Big Al Whittle

Lets do it sometime Brian - even if its not tonight. Let's do the pub at Monsall Head if its a week night.

I love Shakspeare - I love going to Stratford (at one time I was such a regular I had my own parking space outside the RSC.)

However one night, I started chatting to the car park attendant. I got out my car and the guy said - should be a good one tonight! Just up your street - you'll love it!
I said, You've seen it?
No, but I've heard people talking about this show, they all say its terrific.
So you'll go and see it.....
No I've never been in there, not actually in the theatre - I don't like that sort of thing.

Best Shakespeare I ever saw - Deborah Warner's production of Titus Andronicus at the Swan with Brian Cox as Titus.


06 Oct 07 - 01:38 PM (#2165260)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Brian Peters

"Let's do the pub at Monsall Head if its a week night."

Would that be the Pack Horse in Little Longstone? I went to a session there once. As many of the people who fling crap at each other on Mudcat probably would, I have an unsettling suspicion we'd get on fine over a pint and a bit of music.

The Royal Exchange did a very good "Midsummer Night's Dream" with octogenarians playing the fairies and Bottom's gang arriving onstage in a pick-up truck laden with traffic cones.

Now we're really off the topic. No more from me just now.


06 Oct 07 - 01:42 PM (#2165262)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

And just how are you defining class Captain?

I would love to know where I fit in!!


06 Oct 07 - 02:03 PM (#2165268)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

would you ,I dont think you would like my answer.
Brian Peters, he has class as a singer.
you might possibly Have class as a bookseller.
GregStephens, [Dylan]past his sell by date[imo],like the Strolling Bones.


06 Oct 07 - 03:55 PM (#2165349)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Barry Finn

Since when does the middle class corner the intellegance market & the right to apprecate traditional music when traditionally it's origins are of the poor & working classes? Maybe it's them that can afford to seek it out while the others are still to busy surviving in it.

The factory is pretty much dismanteled in most places by modern technology. Here in the US the last hold outs were on the railroads (hoboing & track work), fishing along the alantic coast & prisons in the soutern states (the last 2 were alive up untill the mid 60's) & maybe there's still a bit survivin in the mountains but I doubt it, tecknology has arrived even into the hollars & back hills. Is there truly a liviing fishing community tradition where within they're singing the "Shoals of Herring" or "3 Score & 10" (which came out of a traditional community even though we know who wrote it, then again it wasn't sung) or is it just a matter of a bunch of modern fisherpeople that like singing about something they know about & is close to their hearts & occupations but does that mean there's an existing community tradition of singing? I think not. Even in the West Indies the fishing communities have gone higher tech & no longer need the aid of song to row by. So where are these live traditions still living. Sure there are a few folks that within these trades & occupations write & sing but where is the community as a whole? For without the community there is no more a living tradition.
2 ironworker drinking in a local bar does not make up a tradition nor do they form a community nor does it give them any more insite into what's exceptable & what's not. I worked construction (roofing) all my life, my local (#33 Boston) was originally made up mosty of members of my community (Mission Hill area of Roxbury) including my uncles who were charter members & many of the older guys came from very close by. I sing & have even written songs of & about the trades but that doesn't make me a traditional singer or writer (if ever there was such a thing) & it doesn't make my songs or the songs I sing any more traditional & it never will unless they & I came out of a communitiy that traditionally used songs as a means for self expression, self enjoyment or some other form of self involvment but mosty the only thing heard was the radio. As I said above George Herbert came from a traditional community, he was a sailor that used song for work & enjoyment. Most of us are revival singers but at the end of the day George only cared that some one would contiue singing his songs after he died & because I sing them doesn't mean I'm a traditional singer either it only means that I'm passing on what was once a song that came out of a tradition.
Dylan & MacColl's songs are not from a traditional community but about a tradition & they happen to be influenced by that community but they were not part of it even though that community may have picked up their songs. Is it worthy of a collector, I don't know that's up to the collector & those that will later veiw their collections. Does that include Woody, I guess some would say so & some not, I'd say he came from a community but who gives a shit what I think. Those communities are today mostly gone & so is the factory that grinded out their music.

Barry


06 Oct 07 - 04:33 PM (#2165364)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Brian Peters

Good one, Barry.


06 Oct 07 - 05:06 PM (#2165384)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Dave Sutherland

Didn't Bob Dylan have a No 1 with "Like A Rollin Stone"? Past his sell by - you should have been at Sheffield Arena in April, Captain.
I would have loved to have got deeper into this conversation but I have just got home from following such working class passtimes as going to the Forest v Hartlepool match and discussing Forest's victory in the pub afterwards. Tomorrow night I shall go to my traditionally biased folk club (The Tiger Inn. Long Eaton - you'd be welcome WLD, Keith Kendrick is running a singaround, Brian has already been there a few times)before returning to the factory on Monday morning.


06 Oct 07 - 06:01 PM (#2165443)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Stringsinger

If they don't have a label how are you going to sell them on Gloogle or E Blay?


06 Oct 07 - 06:32 PM (#2165478)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

Dick, class is important in all sorts of contexts and folk music is no exception.

If you go around saying/writing that the folk scene is 90% middle class then either you have done some research to this effect or you have read someone else's research which says that. I can't believe you would write something like that without basing it on solid research.

All I am wondering is where the research is located.

Trust me on this one Dick, there would be lots of people interested in this research, whoever did it.


06 Oct 07 - 06:34 PM (#2165481)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Stringsinger

All research is located in the Folk Ministry of Truth.


08 Oct 07 - 07:21 AM (#2166385)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,irishenglish

I agree with folkiedave, Captain, that seems to be a dangerous statement to make, and judging what you feel is the economic status of the people on this board is unfair. And I do not feel my attitudes are contrived, snobbish or precious, or in fact, precocious, as I believe you meant to say. Nor does it matter if we are folk/traditional music lovers who work in an office job,or construction like Barry, or are musicians, scraping a living out of love for the music. Be thankful of EVERYONE who attends a festival, be thankful for EVERYONE who buys one of your own CD's Dick. I wouldn't think you would label class distinctions on a portion of your own potential audience Dick.


08 Oct 07 - 07:48 AM (#2166393)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Bryn Pugh

Do you know, fellow 'Catters, I do believe I have fathomed what triggered this thread.

Captain Birdseye would love to be a traditional singer, source singer ; but, by his own definitions, he can't, any more than I could, and any more than Jim Carroll could, in the days when we were singing (long ago and far away, for me).

And it don't half get on the good Captain's tits.


08 Oct 07 - 11:47 AM (#2166543)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T

On the original theme, I'd say that label is exactly as important as the label on a pair of jeans.

The label points you towards what the market thinks you are looking for. If true, you buy the item.

Then, secure in the knowledge that you have been successful on your shopping trip, you rip the bugger off and throw it away.

Incidently, I have known the good Cap'n for longer than most here, having booked him at least three times in the seventies, and I can assure you that he more than merits the title (not label) of traditional singer.

I am equally certain that he would not be in the least put out by not being one of the early source singers, having instead achieved the distinction of being one of the top influences on the "Traditional Folk Process" for more than 30 years, no mean feat in itself.

The Cap'n has IMHO earned respect by any criteria you choose to apply.

Don T.


08 Oct 07 - 04:04 PM (#2166740)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

"I can assure you that he more than merits the title (not label) of traditional singer."
Now look what you've done - and just as we were beginning to make some headway with him.
NO HE DOESN'T
any more than I merit the title Spanish singer because I can (and have been known to in my cups) render half a dozen of that country's songs learned from my father who was a prisoner-of-war there.
He is a singer of traditional songs - which is altogether different.
This is no reflection on the good Cap'n, but an attempt on the part of those of us who wish to discuss and, by doing so, understand the traditional arts.
Jim Carroll


08 Oct 07 - 08:08 PM (#2166921)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Big Al Whittle

allright Jim, but what makes you think your 'understanding of the traditional arts' is the right one.

Its an imprecise world - I have noticed.

People define themselves in the way that makes them feel able to be productive, happy and possessing of a modicum of dignity.

Homosexuals like to called gay. Dustmen like to be called refuse disposal men. Des O'Connor likes to be called an entertainer.

I bet the Captain didn't have to work his way up from being a midshipman. he chose to call himself Captain, and he seems to want to call himself a traditional singer.

Give him a break!


09 Oct 07 - 12:30 AM (#2167023)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Barry Finn

Because one sings traditional songs that doesn't make them a traditional singer, just a singer of traditional songs, not much to it. Good or bad doesn't matter
If the singer is from a community that's used singing as a way of life or life style (examples; Hoboes, cowboys, walking, chain gang, sailors or fisherfolk, etc) or from a family that been singing as a tradition (examples; Stewarts, Clevelands, Ritchies, Coppers, etc) then they might be considered a traditional or source singer. Good or bad doesn't matter. Revival singer or wannabe might fit better.
Jim's on the money

Barry


09 Oct 07 - 02:58 AM (#2167045)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Thank you Barry.
"but what makes you think your 'understanding of the traditional arts' is the right one."
I don't know I am right, I think I might be, but that's as far as it goes; I participate in forums such as these to learn as much as I do to offer an opinion.
I repeat; my assessment of the Cap'n's (or anybody's) opinion of what he is IS NOT A CRITICISM; it is an attempt to understand the tradition - not everybody's bag, but it happens to be mine.
Whatever Des O'Connor likes to call himself, genealogy will always be an 'alogy', no matter how many people call it an 'ology'
Jim Carroll.


09 Oct 07 - 04:18 AM (#2167071)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Brian Peters

It's probably foolhardy to blunder into the field of semantics, but doesn't "traditional song" mean "a song that is part of a tradition" and "traditional singer" mean "a singer who is part of a tradition"?

I sing traditional songs which I learned from recordings, books and acquaintances. I don't kid myself I'm part of a singing tradition.


09 Oct 07 - 03:15 PM (#2167417)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

I


09 Oct 07 - 03:44 PM (#2167445)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

I enjoy singing.
I enjoy playing music,on my concertina,guitar, tenor Banjo ,Violin and Harmonica.
Bryn Pugh,you may think you know what I think,you may think you know that which gets on my tits,With respect I am the bestJudge of that.
I am sure you would not like it,if I claimed to know that which got on your tits.
I do not see anything wrong with being middle class,or any other class,but I am of the opinion that ninety percent of the folk revival is middle class.
Folkie Dave asked me what class I thought he was,he is in a class of his own,the Folkie Dave class.Dick Miles


09 Oct 07 - 04:39 PM (#2167501)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

You make self-important statements about class and the composition of the folk scene. I asked you for the evidence that 90 percent of the folk scene is middle class. So far, silence.

"but that is my opinion,Durham Lockout has entered the tradition,so has FiddlersGreen and Three Score and Ten.Dick Miles"

I asked you how you know that "Three Score and Ten" has entered the tradition. So far, silence.

You make wild statements for which you have no evidence or research.

Give me one good reason why anyone would want to treat you seriously? I am expecting silence on that one too.


09 Oct 07 - 06:20 PM (#2167583)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

FOLKIE DAVE,
whenever anyone contributes to a thread on this forum,they are giving only their own opinion.that applies to you as well as me or anyone else.
my evidence is before my eyes,I have been involved with the folkscene for forty years and in my opinion,it is ninety percent middle class.[middle class is not in my opinion derogatory]
no2,
I have heard Fiddlers Green and Three score,being sung by fishermen[who are not part of the folk revival] many times in this area,I consider that evidence[and that is only my opinion] that these songs have entered the tradition.
Dave, my statements about class are not any more self important than Wee Little Drummers,yet you are not even handed with your insults.,you havent accused him of making self important statements about class.
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: weelittledrummer - PM
Date: 06 Oct 07 - 08:38 AM

well I think its a sort of middle class atavistic drive for solidarity. keeps the plebs away. they're not going to bother with these songs where the substance is at very best hidden and in many cases negligible.

so we'll sing it in this daft voice. we won't actually bother learning the words (or the tune) only professionals do that and we're gifted amateurs, who could be professionals if we wanted, but we'd rather be quantity surveyors.
I have not replied to you before,Because it is quite clear you have an axe to grind.I have enclosed WLD post, your lack of reaction to his post,and your hostility to me,illustates this perfectly
you have already been asked by one contributor not to be insulting[Jim Martin].
why should your opinions,be taken any more seriously than mine,you have not provided evidence that the folkscene is not ninety percent middle class,neither have you provided a logical reply or proved that Fishermen singing the above mentioned songs about their livelihoods is not evidence of their having entered the tradition.Dick Miles


09 Oct 07 - 07:56 PM (#2167648)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

Dick,

Never have I suggested that middle class is a derogatory term. You made that bit up.

When you make statements of fact then you need to back them up. If you want to say the folkscene is 90% middle class that implies that some research exists with, first of all a definition of class, and secondly some numbers.

Dick you can say what you like and no-one is going to stop you. If in your opinion the folk scene is 90% middle-class you - AT THE VERY LEAST - have to say what you mean by middle-class. That is if you want your opinion to carry any weight. Of course if you want it ignored as just so much flim-flammery then fine. Tell us you do not want your postings to be considered as serious contributions and I am happy to ignore them.

neither have you provided a logical reply or proved that Fishermen singing the above mentioned songs about their livelihoods

As for your fishermen, I asked before and I ask again - do they sing the same "Three Score and Ten" as the Watersons sang?

Since you clearly have a group of singing fishermen living near - do they only sing these two songs? Do they sing other songs? If so what do they sing? Who are they? Where can they be heard singing? Has anyone recorded their singing? Where did they learn "Three Score and Ten" and "Fiddler's Green"? Have they altered any of the words? Do they sing in harmony or unison? Are they accompanied?

For someone interested in folk music with, as you keep telling us, a wealth of experience in folk music - here is what sounds like an interesting group of fishermen of which you seem to be able to tell us very little about their music. Apart from the fact they sing "Three Score and Ten" and "Fiddler's Green".

Folk music is a serious subject in my opinion and deserves to be treated seriously and not just subject to opinions that are loosely based on a person's experience, valuable though that experience might be, without some sort of evidence to back up what they say.

If you disagree with any of that last paragraph, say which part you think I have got wrong.


10 Oct 07 - 03:49 AM (#2167803)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

I have just returned from England,where I have just visited a close relative who is extremely ill [Multiple Sclerosis].
I am in no mood to take part in this sort of discussion, or any discussion at the moment,and so am withdrawing from Mudcat,until I feel better.Dick Miles


10 Oct 07 - 03:52 AM (#2167806)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Folkiedave

Sorry to hear about your relative Dick, I hope he/she gets better.


10 Oct 07 - 04:25 AM (#2167814)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Betsy

Dick, I'm very sorry to hear about your relative and I hope you both make the best of the situation.


10 Oct 07 - 05:00 AM (#2167831)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Bryn Pugh

May the Great Mother and the All Father comfort your rel;ative and you.

So mote it be. Bryn


10 Oct 07 - 07:59 AM (#2167901)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll

Ditto
Jim Carroll


10 Oct 07 - 08:40 AM (#2167923)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Lowden Jameswright

It may be important to singers who choose to sing via nose & throat?


14 Oct 07 - 03:59 PM (#2171040)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: GUEST

Whos got the words to The Oily rigs.Last heard at the Norwich festival about 1986
Roger Green (Betsy to the morris)


14 Oct 07 - 04:17 PM (#2171051)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: Herga Kitty

Roger - IIRC, I heard John Copper perform the Oily Rigs in the early 1970s...

Kitty


14 Oct 07 - 04:50 PM (#2171071)
Subject: RE: how important is the label traditional singer?
From: The Sandman

Ihave them.Dick Miles