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Do purists really exist?

25 Jun 11 - 09:27 AM (#3176191)
Subject: Do purists really exist?
From: Folknacious

Every time somebody does something a little different with traditional music, record reviewers and often the artistes themselves will trot out that old cliche that "the purists will probably hate it". Sometimes such wishful thinking implies that would even be a badge of honour. My experience, though, is that if musicians do things well and their heart is obviously in the right place, people who really do know about or are part of a tradition will rarely object. Many are indeed flattered and excited that people of a younger generation or from a different culture see the core worth in their music and want to take it onwards or outwards. Why wouldn't they?

So who are these "purists"? My suspicion is that if such a breed really exists, they're people who have only a surface knowledge of a tradition. Folk club audiences who have only listened to revival performers, for example, or fans of world music whose knowledge has only come from records and magazines. In both cases, they ignore the fact that living traditions have always evolved down the years, that's their very nature.

OK, there's the odd Luddite (they exist in all walks of life, not just music), but isn't "purist" the wrong term?


25 Jun 11 - 09:42 AM (#3176199)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket

Purist means bore from my experience.

Sad buggers who won't go in a pub unless they serve "real" ale, waffle on about a 1954 definition of an abstract form of entertainment and reckon the only words to Sir Patrick Spence that count are the ones they first heard, normally on their mother's knee (allegedly).

Music evolve, through either the oral tradition or the commercial world looking for new angles and unique hooks. Maybe not the ideal thread to waffle on about me not knowing what folk music means because in the past, I find myself being told exactly what it means. Normally by those who don't know either....

Tell you what, if you enjoy it, you are a purist. If somebody else enjoys it and you don't they are a purist too. By coincidence, my iTunes is playing on the Hifi in random mode. Led Zeppelin's Gallows Pole is on at present and by coincidence, Thin Lizzy's Whisky in the Jar played a short while back and this morning, I could hear Martin Carthy singing Slade's Cum on Feel the Noize.

Three good examples of why purists should bugger off.


25 Jun 11 - 10:10 AM (#3176208)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Colin Randall

I've probably written those words or similar myself, Folknacious, and they do exist even if, as Ian Mather suggests, they could usefully bugger off.

I first encountered them at a folk club where floor singers knew guitars and material not seen as traditional were frowned upon (I remember at least singers who took delight in defying them just to wind them up). Then you had the Irish purists for whom it was unacceptable, depending on the strain of purism, for 1) anything to be accompanied 2) anything to be accompanied except on specified, vetted instruments or 3) tunes to be played by combos instead of on single instrument.

It's all bollocks, of course, though I would not try to stop none running a club or performing music in a way that conformed to their narrow outlooks. No one is forced to attend/listen. Mind, I'd go to a pub not selling real ale only if its wine by the glass was drinkable.


25 Jun 11 - 10:13 AM (#3176211)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Colin Randall

Hit the button too quickly, as ever. In my first sentence, in case fellow pedants are looking over my shoulder, "they" means purists. And it was "at least two singers" who enjoyed winding them up at the first folk club I attended.


25 Jun 11 - 10:25 AM (#3176215)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass

If fans of trad folk are actually able to organise clubs which cater to their interests and it pisses off "You Too Can Master Three Chord 70's Rocktastic Classics!" book artistes, then more power to them I say!


25 Jun 11 - 10:40 AM (#3176219)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

No, of course purists don't exist.

"and reckon the only words to Sir Patrick Spence that count are the ones they first heard,"


I think you'll find that should Spens, by the way.


25 Jun 11 - 10:54 AM (#3176223)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"I think you'll find that should Spens, by the way"
Purist!
Jim Carroll


25 Jun 11 - 10:55 AM (#3176224)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,999

Of course purists exist. Where would we get puries from were it otherwise?


25 Jun 11 - 11:09 AM (#3176234)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Silas

Good post livelylass


25 Jun 11 - 11:12 AM (#3176236)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Purist" is the rather facile term of abuse for those who neither know what a folk song is, nor care very much - as is "finger-in-ear", "folk police (or fascist)"...... and all the other childish soundbites that save you the trouble of thinking.
Jim Carroll


25 Jun 11 - 11:15 AM (#3176239)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Leadfingers

When I FIRST got interested in Traditional Jazz , I was firmly conviced that "Good" Jazz could only be played by a six piece band consiting of Trumpet , clarinet and trombone front line , with Banjo bass and drums in ythe rhythm section ! NOTHING else !
Then I discovered the first recordings of Louis Armstrong with the King Oliver Jazz band in 1923 . This band had two cornets , a clarinet and a trombone as the front line , with drums , bass , PIANO and Johnny St Cyr sometimes playing s Six string banjo tuned as a guitar . To make things worse , on several of the recordings was one Stump Evans playing Alto Saxophone ! At that point I stopped being a Trad Jazz Purist , and started REALLY listening to Jazz

Sadly there are still a lot of VERY serious Folk Afficionados (Very few of whom play instruments , though some DO sing unnaccompanied) who have not had their ears opened to what is possible in music , and can only be labelled as the same kind of purist that I was before I had MY ears opened !


25 Jun 11 - 11:16 AM (#3176241)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

In fact
"It is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing"
Jim Carroll again


25 Jun 11 - 11:32 AM (#3176245)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Lighter

Let's distinguish between two kinds of "purists." The first kind is made up of mostly amiable experts who know what actual traditional music or sounded like, but who can evaluate a contemporary performance on its own merits.

"Snobs," on the other hand, often don't know half as much as they think, and seem determined to make everyone else know it. They tell others that if they don't perform up to folk-snob standards, they're corrupters of art.

Both groups were probably more numerous in the early '60s, but neither has ever been common, because most people just don't set themselves up as outspoken taste-makers and theoreticians.

Of course, anybody who dislikes any aspect of a performance simply for not being "traditional" enough may be derided as a purist.


25 Jun 11 - 11:45 AM (#3176251)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bill D

I used to have a tee-shirt that said "PURIST SNOB" in big, glittering letters...with a decal of an old phonograph.

I am about as close to 'purist' as you'll find in THIS forum, and yet I'm not really one. I have been known to enjoy... and sing... non-'folk' songs and folk-type songs written recently. All I wish for is some deference to obvious differences in music, so that I can easily find and choose. My default, favorite music to listen to IS the older, traditional, usually by the prolific 'anon', because it just has a different 'feel' than much modern music, and I like LPs, CDs...etc., which can be identified as such.

   There are trends in much modern music...especially 'folkish' sorts... that I do NOT care for, so I am pretty careful in how I spend my $$$$....and I do wince at attempts to 'improve' old, traditional ballads with frenetic pace and volume.......but I do, as I said, listen to and enjoy other stuff also.
Purist? Not really. Picky? Yep!


25 Jun 11 - 12:03 PM (#3176259)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion

Puristically, it is 'Spence' in some versions, as quoted by Coleridge in his Dejection Ode.

But I am a "saddo", am I, for being so perverse as to expect to hear folk music when I go to a folk club? So I can bugger off, can I?

Just bugger off yourselves, you standardless know-nothings.



In fact, as above outburst implies, it all depends, as always, on where you set your parameters, doesn't it?...


25 Jun 11 - 12:53 PM (#3176277)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: olddude

Every performer interprets a song in their own manner. A song that doesn't become your own when you perform it is indeed boring. What makes a musician great instead of just good is the manner in which they interpret the song. That also includes classical or any form of music.


25 Jun 11 - 01:09 PM (#3176286)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

There is nothing wrong with performing a song in a new way, or even editing the words. It's probably how we got the versions of folk song with which we know. There is however every merit in knowing whether a song is a folk song or not, but I am not surprised by those above who think the question irrelevant.


25 Jun 11 - 01:15 PM (#3176289)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Ron Cheevers

Lots of "purists" in the U.K. They usually perform traditional songs with a "traditional" voice, and the obligatory "traditional" Martin guitar.


25 Jun 11 - 01:20 PM (#3176296)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

What I want to know is why are 'non-purists' so sensitive about the possibility of being criticised by 'purists'?


25 Jun 11 - 01:25 PM (#3176300)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bill D

"why are 'non-purists' so sensitive "

Why? *grin*...because it is more work to keep the categories straight and they simply don't WISH to think about it when they decide to listen or sing 'what they like'. It's just an attitude...understandible, but subjective.


25 Jun 11 - 01:30 PM (#3176303)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin

It looks like Ian Mather is REALLY ticked off at the idea that somebody might not be very impressed by Led Zep's "Gallows Pole" and prefer to listen to something else.

A purist is somebody who can think of better things to do with their time than listen to big-hair rock musicians trying to make money out of what they think is folk music. Do I have that right?


25 Jun 11 - 01:33 PM (#3176306)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

who cares apart from Folknacious.


25 Jun 11 - 04:13 PM (#3176378)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jerome Clark

"Purist" is a lazy word to characterize those who like their folk music as traditionally delivered as possible. Nothing wrong with that. Nothing wrong with interesting, even radical innovations in the performance of folk music either. Live and let live, and insist only that however it's done, it's done well. There's plenty of room for everybody, and without everybody, folk music would have been pushed so far to the margins that we wouldn't even be having this discussion.


25 Jun 11 - 04:21 PM (#3176381)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Little Hawk

Everything really exists. The only question is...

When?

Where?

And how many of them? ;-)


25 Jun 11 - 04:31 PM (#3176384)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

I am by no means clear JC that that is what a purist is. Since the forms of folk music are unlimited surely a purist cares only whether it is or whether it isn't and makes no value judgment based on form.


25 Jun 11 - 04:46 PM (#3176396)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Ballad Singer

In my experience (and IMHO), a "purist" is simply someone who has adopted one particular viewpoint as their own to the (unfortunate) exclusion of others.

To be a "purist" is very, very difficult as far as I can tell. It seems as though everyone eventually has an experience in which their uniquely 'correct' or exclusivist position is shaken by the advent of another valid position.

Take religion, any religion, for instance. Claims of exclusivity are necessary, I suppose, on some level if the religion is going to claim to be relevant on its own merits. To go so far as to say that "only the TRUE BELIEVERS in OUR religion, who possess the (spirit, secret, code, handshake, apron, whatever), are able to attain to righteousness..." is not only hard to prove, but it's usually laughably easy to DISprove. All one has to do is locate someone who is kind, loving, or manifests whatever character the "true believers" have, only without being a "believer" themselves.

See? A folk purist, like any other purist, is only making a valid point (again, in my opinion) when they are preserving and cherishing a tradition, not insisting that their tradition is totally pure and sacrosanct and untainted and must be reverenced as such.

Except for MY tradition... mine's the pure one. ;)


25 Jun 11 - 04:48 PM (#3176398)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jerome Clark

Richard Bridge's definition of a purist is possibly defensible in some sense, though he is surely aware that judgments on form are made all the time. After all, that's what occasioned this thread. In any event, RB's definition isn't the one that comes to mind when most people encounter the "purist" bugaboo (tossed around prolifically and irritatingly, for example, in Sean Wilentz's Dylan in America; I would have thought that so eminent a historian would know better). It's also possible that when you get down to it, "purist" means not much at all; in discussions of folk-revival approaches, its true purpose may be simply to put somebody else down because his or her tastes in the presentation of the music are not exactly like our own.

In point of fact, of course, purity does not exist in the world. It's a construct like "authenticity." The past continues to influence us, but it is unrecoverable; we can't relive it, so we can only reimagine it and use it for our present purposes. Still, a Mike Seeger was closer to a kind of Platonic ("pure") ideal of folk music than, say, Bellowhead is. I love 'em both, and I am happily confident I am not alone.


25 Jun 11 - 04:57 PM (#3176400)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: JohnH

Thanks, Lively Lass!
If songs or tunes get fixed by the media performance of "Stars" then the tradition dies! Think about Karaoke! It's not how you see the song or tune but how it was done by someone else. Folk is about individuality!


25 Jun 11 - 05:08 PM (#3176404)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: JohnH

@ Ron Cheevers. I don't do guitar!


25 Jun 11 - 05:30 PM (#3176412)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I've met many self-confessed Purists who didn't come close; then I've met some seriously qualified people whose encyclopedic knowledge of Traditional Music was matched only by their love of it yet were not purist in the slightest. My conclusion is that Purism is unqualified fundamentalism founded largely on personal insecurity and a complete lack of understanding of cultural / musical process - let alone Folk. The people who really know about this stuff always take a wider picture.

So - sadly - Purists do exist; fortunately they're few and far between, but (as the saying goes) there's always one... I've had guitar-weilding Purists take me to task for using a Turkish fiddle for accompanying Traditional English Folk Songs; I've had technophobic Purists telling me they were personally offended by my use of an electronic Shruti box in an otherwise acoustic folk club, PA notwithstanding! Best of all was an irate Purist who took exception to me using a looping phrase-synthesizer (a Korg Kaossilator) as part of a ballad performance because he reckoned it was no better than using a backing tape. In all these cases they called themselves Purists; in all cases they were, of course, male*. Someday, they will isolate the Purist Gene. God knows life is too short.

* That said, I recall two highly educated & otherwise dignified lady singers of my acquaintance almost coming to blows over whose version of The Trees They Do Grow High was the most authentic!


25 Jun 11 - 05:44 PM (#3176418)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

A purist is a person who believes that musical boundaries and categories exist. He/she believes that he/she is entitled to hear folk music in a folk club, jazz in a jazz club, classical music at a classical music concert etc., etc.

A non-purist is a person who thinks that all music should sound like his/her favourite forms of pop/rock music.


25 Jun 11 - 05:50 PM (#3176422)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: gnu

olddude... "Every performer interprets a song in their own manner. A song that doesn't become your own when you perform it is indeed boring. What makes a musician great instead of just good is the manner in which they interpret the song. That also includes classical or any form of music."

Right on cooldude.


25 Jun 11 - 06:00 PM (#3176428)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Well, Shimster, I'm most certainly not a purist and I expect to hear folk in a folk club, but that rarely happens these days, alas. In such clubs, of course, self-confessed Purists thrive; in proper Folk Clubs purism is complete anathema to the beauty of Traditional Folk Song.


25 Jun 11 - 06:38 PM (#3176447)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards

The problem with purists is that they have fixed ideas about what's bad and what's good, and they know it. The problem with people who hate purists is that they have fixed ideas about what's bad and what's good, but they don't know it.

My view is that we all have things that move us, things what we believe in & things we hate, but that it's very rare for them to line up at all neatly. I believe in keeping traditional songs going & maintaining a space where people will come & expect to hear them. I'm powerfully moved by "Waly Waly" and "The Unfortunate Lass", but also by Lal Waterson's "Child among the weeds" and Bellamy's "My Boy Jack". And I hate people singing stuff they've only just written, people singing from a crib sheet and (especially) people singing stuff they've only just written from a crib sheet. I could tell myself that all of this fits together perfectly and it defines what Folk means to me - I could even denounce people who have radically different ideas of what Folk means to them - but really, what would be the point?


25 Jun 11 - 08:04 PM (#3176476)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave Hanson

Who is Ian Mather ? he speaks like some sort of authority.

Anyome who does that isn't.

Dave H


25 Jun 11 - 08:18 PM (#3176480)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Folknacious

Suibhne Astray said I've met many self-confessed Purists who didn't come close; then I've met some seriously qualified people whose encyclopedic knowledge of Traditional Music was matched only by their love of it yet were not purist in the slightest. . . . The people who really know about this stuff always take a wider picture.

Yes, that's pretty much the point I was making in my original post. What I think I failed to make clear is that there ought to be another name for those people who get called "Purists" because - as you say - they usually lack the knowledge on which to base a justifiable stand - which is what I think Leadfingers said about his experience with jazz. Expecting to hear folk in a folk club doesn't make you a "purist", just someone who is likely to be regularly disappointed!


25 Jun 11 - 08:27 PM (#3176482)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Charley Noble

Without some reference, whatever we sing has no meaning.

Think about that...

Sometimes the reference is a traditional ballad or a traditional tune of a particular singer.

If the reference is to something which just happened, the song is only good for that moment when everyone is riveted on the topic, such as Ex-Congressman Wiener's attachments!

I personally like the term "inspired by" and I generally know who I owe for my own creative efforts.

If you don't have a clue what I'm talking about, you probably don't have a clue about what you're singing.

Charley Noble


25 Jun 11 - 08:33 PM (#3176484)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

It seems that the word "purist" has no generally accepted meaning - at least from the above.


26 Jun 11 - 01:37 AM (#3176554)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert

We are probably all purists in one way or another when defending our own beliefs.

A lot of attitudes seem to depend upon whether you want your traditional songs to be museum pieces or part of a living tradition.


26 Jun 11 - 03:35 AM (#3176565)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Shimrod has it exactly right for me.
"A purist is a person who believes that musical boundaries and categories exist..... "
We put labels on tins so we know which one to open, nothing to do with whether the contents are 'good' or not, as long as they are what it says on the tin; that is a different criteria.
The problems arise when the term is used as one of abuse, that's when the crassness and acrimony starts.
"They usually perform traditional songs with a "traditional" voice, and the obligatory "traditional" Martin guitar."
As English traditional music was almost certainly unnaccompanied, no self-respecting 'purist' would dream of using a guitar.
It's that type of uninformed generalisation that gets up peoples' noses; I'm sure 'snigger-snogwriter' or 'talking horse' each gives just as much offence.
It seems to me that the majority of 'anti-purists' are the ones doing the condemning here and castigating those who don't like the same things they do - mind your own ******* business.
Jim Carroll


26 Jun 11 - 03:52 AM (#3176567)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

A lot of attitudes seem to depend upon whether you want your traditional songs to be museum pieces or part of a living tradition

This is a Purist myth. The Folk Revival has nothing to do with a 'living tradition' - on the contrary. Perhaps the definition of a Purist is, therefore, one who believes that by singing these old songs (and ones fashioned in their likeness) they are continuing a living tradition rather than indulging in a minority hobbyist past-time; one who believes that it is somehow significant, and even superior to 'Rap Music'? To them I say, by all means enjoy your model railway, but don't expect the rail networks to be supplied by Horby 00 any time soon.

Maybe I should qualify that statement to add that I am one such hobbyist and like nothing better than gathering with a few like-minded souls for a good old roll & blow in the filthy back-room of a public house untouched by the ravages of commercialism, but as we've seen, once you begin to look into the songs and the tradition thereof, you realise that Purism has no place. Well I might balk at having to endure anything other that 100% Pure Traditional English Folk Song (or immitations thereof) when I go for a night out at my local Folk Seance, but that doesn't make me Purist. One is reminded of a slogan on those awful Folk T-shirts which rings true for me: What happens in the Folk Club, stays in the Folk Club.


26 Jun 11 - 04:01 AM (#3176569)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

Purist as a term tends to be derogatory. Hence so many people misconstruing some of the comments above. I don't think Ian Mather is setting himself up as an authority and bloody hell, I am almost agreeing with M'Unlearned friend Richard Bridge. Although in my experience people who reckon they are, even if they don't use the term, purists, certainly do make value judgements.

You could liken it to war reenactment groups where the more historically faithful, the more pure it is. Folk music isn't that though, it is a night out with a few beers or it is mastering an old reel on the basis of it sounding good (or sounding complicated if the performer is trying to impress) or it is collecting echoes of how society ticks or used to tick. All the above and more.

If Gallows Pole is a " folk" song, then Robert Plant is a folk singer. I sang a song in a folk club recently, "I don't like Mondays" making Bob Geldof a writer of folk songs. Got he idea from Dave Burland so that makes it official then.

Purist UK folk, played on purist American guitars.

Having had many discussions over a pint, including last night... Ian Mather and I just see too many examples of folk clubs dying out whilst people coming to a club for the first time have a habit of not returning for a second chance. Purists should indeed bugger off, but only in the attitude sense. We still need to hear a retired social worker stick his finger in his ear and tell us what it was like herring fishing off Dogger bank. All part of the tapestry, but don't get precious when people down their pint and go for a refill as you get into gear.

I'll come off the fence now. I love the weird beards and many are old mates but getting a bit fed up defending perceived stereotypes. I tell members of the human race I play acoustic roots so they don't piss themselves laughing because folk seems to infer musical bigotry by sad old buggers in fair isle sweaters, sandals and anger at anything not left wing clap teap.

There, said it.


26 Jun 11 - 04:02 AM (#3176570)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert

This is a Purist myth.???

Which?


26 Jun 11 - 04:09 AM (#3176571)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon

A lot of attitudes seem to depend upon whether you want your traditional songs to be museum pieces or part of a living tradition.

That's often suggested but I don't think it's usually true, Bert. I think most of us who can be called "purists" do consider themselves to be part of a living tradition. It's more a question of how we see the tradition moving.

Personally, I see it picking up bits it likes and rejecting others over time and moving along in that way. I don't really buy "this is the new direction of folk music" type pronouncements.

I think the term is also used for people who don't enjoy a particular style or direction although I don't understand why because I tend to enjoy music in a more traditional folk style it should follow that I should like it in any other style because it has the label "folk" attached to it.


26 Jun 11 - 04:16 AM (#3176574)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Here's a thought - do we only truly become Folkies when we walk into a Folk Club, or some other Designated Folk Context, thus, like the hitherto invisible Mason, becomes visible upon entering the lodge? Is it possible to Folk on your own? Of course much research & rehearsal goes on in private, but that's merely by of of preparatory tactics so you'll turn in something good on the night.

Mention was made of the purism of war re-enactment groups and their fidelity to detail, but as accurate as they are none of them will ever be posted Afganistan, much be prepared to really fight in battle or else die in the fray. If they really were Purists, they wouldn't flinch; and their fidelity to historic detail would be such that the wounded would refuse all modern medicines, antiseptics and anaesthetics. Hard core Purism; not for the faint hearted.


26 Jun 11 - 04:35 AM (#3176580)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket

Hard core purism? Steamin' Willie mentions retired social workers singing about herring fishing. My hard core bit was many years ago, when I was singing about love, war, whatever and a mate who was such a social worker sang about mining. The following morning, I went down the pit....

Yes, Willie and I did discuss musical bigotry over a pint last night. I recall we also discussed Nigella Lawson's two biggest assets, whether Gary Megson will be given enough money for some more key players before the opening game, whether the new landlord of the pub will make a good go of it, whether Elixir strings are worth the money and why Willie always says its time to go when it is his round next.....

Sorry to those who saw themselves in my criticism at the top (ish) of this post. I have a cap if you wish to wear it, but to be frank, some of it reinforces what I put and so I sadly stand by it all. Sadly because I want folk clubs to thrive, and a full club of the same people who were there thirty years ago isn't thriving, it is perpetuating, and that has a shelf life.


26 Jun 11 - 04:54 AM (#3176589)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert

...It's more a question of how we see the tradition moving...

The tradition is moving by itself. It seems to me that "The Purists" are the ones who want to stop it. You are not allowed to call it Folk Music if it doesn't fit into their definition.

But definitions or not "The tradition is moving by itself". When you are picking the bits that you like, then you are moving it in a direction that you would like to see it go.

When Suibhne Astray sits down for a good old roll and blow in a pub then it is headed in that direction.

...do we only truly become Folkies when we walk into a Folk Club... that is a very good point. I like to think that we become folkies when we go to a party or a pub and sing something that we learned from someone else.

We also become folkies when we visit Bruce Olsen's web site and learn something from there.


26 Jun 11 - 05:10 AM (#3176594)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon

It seems to me that "The Purists" are the ones who want to stop it. You are not allowed to call it Folk Music if it doesn't fit into their definition.

You are allowed to call anything you like folk music. Just be prepared to accept that what you consider to be folk music may not be what someone else considers to be folk music.

"The tradition is moving by itself". When you are picking the bits that you like, then you are moving it in a direction that you would like to see it go.

And picking up bits that fit in with what you are doing and that others you are with enjoy and find fit. And perhaps others hear it and find it works so over time it finds its way into the tradition.

This is a different process to declaring "this is the new direction of folk" and expecting this is the route that must be followed.


26 Jun 11 - 05:41 AM (#3176600)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I think we're back the old question What is The Tradition? Or what does The Tradition mean to you? In this case, it seems to be synonymous with The Revival, which isn't, strictly speaking, The Tradition, rather that which first perceives, then claims to represent, The Tradition. It all gets a bit fundamentalist really, but that's what drew me into folk clubs when I was 14 or so and keeps me there now some 35 years on (and, as I keep saying, I'm still invariably the youngest in the room!).

Of course there are younger Folks who see things very differently and are doing amazing things as a consequence, but what I like by way of social joy, is the filthy pub scenario described above which, I admit, has limited popular appeal. I do other things too of course, but to me the Filthy Trad Folk Song Seance empowered by Pints of the local brew in a pub where the landlord will pull a tooth for the price of an anaethetising Talisker in my idea of hardcore folk heaven.

It all begins in the barley temple in the Holy Name of the Come-All-Ye where no one is calling the shots; where egos are checked in at the door and even a singaround would be too rigid a concept to abide by, let alone booked guests or the dreaded two-song floor spot and (God forbid) introductions and comedy. Here no one sits twiddling with the guitar tuners whilst another is singing, for here we raise Ghosts and Spectres; here we dissolve into the collective potency that is the heart of Traditional Folk Song; here we commune with the fundamentals in common awe at the vivid joy that will always drive sorrows away.

Purist? Moi? Not a bit of it!


26 Jun 11 - 05:56 AM (#3176602)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket

Spence, Spense, Spens.

The official one is that one there...

Or is it the other one?

You know, since hearing Martin Simpson's latest version, I have changed "young man" to "aged Lord" hence perpetuating the oral tradition.

Mind you, even that term meant something else when I was a teenager.

I like the bit above about two songs on a stage. When I started in folk clubs, all the local ones did that. I had been going to clubs for a couple of years before encountering a more singaround club. So if I were being purist, I would say that if you don't do two songs on a stage, it is not a folk club. Yet others may say that a folk club is about playing where you sit, one at a time going round in a circle.

Got it! Purist means pandering to your own nostalgia.


26 Jun 11 - 05:57 AM (#3176603)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon

Substitute Irish dance tunes for songs above to get to where I prefer (I do other things too) to be.


26 Jun 11 - 06:15 AM (#3176616)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"It seems to me that "The Purists" are the ones who want to stop it. You are not allowed to call it Folk Music if it doesn't fit into their definition."

Weird, isn't it? The people who don't want Folk Music in folk clubs (the 'non-purists') are always stating that the people who like Folk Music, and have the temerity to think that it is the primary reason for the existence of folk clubs (the 'purists'), are stopping the 'non-purists' from doing this and not allowing them to do/think/say the other.

In fact there is no coercion involved - how can a 'purist'like me STOP anyone from doing or saying anything?

But what I can do is to DISAGREE with the 'non-purist' position and I have a perfect right to do so!

As I asked a few posts ago - why are 'non-purists' so sensitive about this issue?


26 Jun 11 - 06:20 AM (#3176617)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bonzo3legs

At a time when I did not have an accoustic guitar, I played an electric - a Les Paul Junior I might add, at what was Sutton Folk club back in the 1990s. Some holier than thou prick announced after playing that "we know what an accoustic guitar is here don't we". I managed to stop myself from hitting him.


26 Jun 11 - 06:23 AM (#3176620)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Little Hawk

Good! Violence is strictly forbidden at the Sutton Folk Club. ;-D Had you struck him, you might have been banned for life.


26 Jun 11 - 06:41 AM (#3176629)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters

'Purists' do exist. Someone who prefers to see batsmen score with strokes from the coaching manual (rather than the reverse sweep), who doesn't approve of Shakespeare in modern dress, or insists on hearing classical music played by a small orchestra of period instruments, might be so described. In our world there are folk song enthusiasts who prefer to hear their ballads sung by an unaccompanied voice, and Irish music fans who can't bear guitar accompaniments - and of course they're entitled to those preferences. It gets stickier when we begin announcing that our own personal preference is the 'right way to do it' (elevating personal taste to the status of High Principle is a not uncommon human failing), but 'authenticity' is an elusive beast, and the 'Folk Purist' who goes around ticking people off for performing in an inauthentic manner is a far rarer species than some 'modernisers' here would have us believe.


26 Jun 11 - 07:05 AM (#3176634)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin

Purist as a term tends to be derogatory.

It's ALWAYS derogatory, and gets used by embittered failures who want to look for a conspiracy to explain why nobody's interested in their music. The reasoning is the same as "Pakis are taking our jobs" and "the Yids control the media".

Trying to identify who is really a purist is like trying to prick witches or list the Elders of Zion.


26 Jun 11 - 07:12 AM (#3176638)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bonzo3legs

But it's fun, which should be the main criteria for making music!!


26 Jun 11 - 07:43 AM (#3176644)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I would have though a Les Paul would make a far better instrument for accompanying Folk Songs than an acoustic guitar. I often use my wife's Daisy Rock Purple Heart which has a similiar feel to my old CSL Les Paul copy (1976?), which I never used for folk. Hooked up through various sustain, distortions and echoes you can create a fine wash of melodic drones over which any ballad is just pefecto! Using the Daevid Allen / Gong glissando techique (originated by Syd Barrett) it's even better. Thing us, I know if I did this in even the most liberal of Designated Folk Contexts I'd be looked at askance and whispered at behind by back. These days more for daring to sing Ballads and Traditional Songs than my choice of accompaniment, alas...

Regarding Brian's post - I have no understanding or love of cricket, and only an A-level residue of Shakespeare, but when it comes to Period Instrument Classical / Early Music I listen to little else around the house. I do accept, however, that Purcell can sound nice on modern instruments and the Naxos CDs of Albinoni Oboe Concerti are divine. I'm a big fan of Sarah Francis too, who used a modern instrument on her superlative renderings of Baroque sonatas, though to hear (say) Paul Goodwin covering the same material on his period oboe is utterly stunning.

As Crowley said after a visit to his local Folk Club: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.


26 Jun 11 - 08:23 AM (#3176657)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

musical boundaries do exist, jazz is defined by improvisation, that is a pretty elastic boundary, but it does not include this
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_PoPY-mDpA
likewise this is folk music.http://www.youtube.com/user/dickmilesmusic#p/u/12/YytajAIlJ2w as is thishttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-GN-BP_Qlk


26 Jun 11 - 08:52 AM (#3176665)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Folknacious

It gets stickier when we begin announcing that our own personal preference is the 'right way to do it' . . . the 'Folk Purist' who goes around ticking people off for performing in an inauthentic manner is a far rarer species than some 'modernisers' here would have us believe.

Yes, that all has the ring of truth. So for "purist" you could perhaps substitute something more precise, like "egotist bigot". Referring back to my original query, though, I can't see many journalists adopting "the egotist bigots will probably hate it" as a cliche. So "purist" has become a default catch-all for lazy hacks then?


26 Jun 11 - 08:55 AM (#3176669)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Folknacious

musical boundaries do exist

Far more in calculated revivals, academic circles and outsider-adoption than in actual unmolested living traditions, I suspect.


26 Jun 11 - 09:18 AM (#3176679)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Silas

"I would have though a Les Paul would make a far better instrument for accompanying Folk Songs than an acoustic guitar."

Well, two things here - firstly, you are going to need somewhere to plug it in! Jim Morays first ever Bromyard Festival Gig found him in a room without a single power point - not a lot of use to a musician who is renowned for some hi-tec effects! Secondly, many folk guitarists use a percussive style for some of their accompaniment, not altogether easy on an electric guitar. Thirdly, I hate electric guitars, which is all the reason I need of course.


26 Jun 11 - 09:19 AM (#3176681)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

do all the suspecting you want, however it is a fact, granted some music crosses over boundaries, but boundaries do exist.


26 Jun 11 - 09:38 AM (#3176691)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"[The term purist is] ALWAYS derogatory, and gets used by embittered failures who want to look for a conspiracy to explain why nobody's interested in their music."

I suspect there's some truth in this. I've lost count of the number of times that a lad with a guitar, or group of lads with guitars, have turned up at my local folk club or singaround and sung a floor spot, or taken a turn, and then disappear, never to be seen again (often directly after they've done their bit). They are usually treated politely and their performances met with the usual ripple of applause (I've never known any fiendish purists to be mean to them). Usually they sing self-penned compositions that have little to do with Folk Music ("We do acoustic stuff - that's folk music, innit?"). I think that we never see them again because they're not greeted with the wild adulation that they think that they deserve and no-one rushes to offer them lucrative gigs.

Then again perhaps we don't see them again because Bert has chosen that night to mumble, moan and groan his way through a 20 verse ballad that he 'learned' (i.e. copied down the words in an exercise book) from a June Tabor CD.


26 Jun 11 - 09:40 AM (#3176693)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters

"So "purist" has become a default catch-all for lazy hacks then?"

Lazy hacks are some of the worst offenders in bandying 'purist' about, particularly the writers of promo puffs desperate to convince us that their act is new and exciting, and constitutes a sorely-needed antidote to all that dreadful old-fashioned stuff that went before. I am just now reviewing a CD of Zydeco music in which the blurb talks about the artist "dragging [Zydeco] by the scruff of the neck into the 21st century". Another classic cliche, of course, but Zydeco?? A music that's embraced change so enthusiastically over many decades? The joke in this case is that "dragging it into the 21st century" apparently involves smearing it all over with 1970s Chris Spedding-style electric guitar licks.


26 Jun 11 - 12:47 PM (#3176737)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert

..Then again perhaps we don't see them again because Bert has chosen that night to mumble, moan and groan his way through a 20 verse ballad that he 'learned' (i.e. copied down the words in an exercise book) from a June Tabor CD...

LOL Shimrod. OK hands up Mudcatters! Who has ever heard Bert sing a ballad. Except maybe The Ballad of Bethnal Green. Or for that matter mumble, moan or groan a song.

The purists who try to stop people are like that Guy at The Philadelphia Folk Song gang who told me that I sang "The Barley Mow" wrong. I guess the ignorant fellow had never heard that there is more that one traditional version of that song. And I learned that song years before anyone had heard of June Tabor.


26 Jun 11 - 12:47 PM (#3176738)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

Chris Spedding was a very fine guitarist.

But surely it is pretty rare for "purists" to try to stop people doing impure things in folk clubs or singarounds - whether the impure things are arrangements of folk songs, folk songs done so that they do not sound like folk songs, or things that are supposed to sound a bit like folk songs, or blues or ragtime (much of which does fit the definition of folks song) or country or new country or country and western (which mostly don't).

However, even if "Gallows Pole" is a folk song, singing it does not make Mr Page (another excellent guitarist) a folksinger, although it might make him a folksong singer. Contrariwise the Led Zep reggae satire "D'yer Make 'er" while sort of reggae style proved beyond doubt that they could not play reggae worth a damn!


26 Jun 11 - 01:04 PM (#3176745)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Secondly, many folk guitarists use a percussive style for some of their accompaniment, not altogether easy on an electric guitar.

Exactly, which is why I prefer the electric guitar played as pure noise in the manner I described earlier. The Folk Revival has its own Conventions, which is only natural but none of them relate to The Tradition per se. In Folk Clubs I mostly use fiddle / kemence and electro shruti box these days; if we've got an amp around I'll augment the drone with a few random modal-loops on the Kaossilator (like THIS - Childe Owlett, which I learned by osmosis from a session we did with Sally Bee).

*

Purism seems to afflict those who have been drawn into the Religiosity of Folk; those who are looking for rules, relulations, meaning and belonging. Maybe they're religious too, unable to cope with the beauteous randomness and perfect common chaos of reality.


26 Jun 11 - 01:05 PM (#3176749)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters

"Chris Spedding was a very fine guitarist."

Indeed. I was a big fan. Just trying to give you a flavour of the recording in question.


26 Jun 11 - 01:13 PM (#3176751)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

I would be happier if I knew what a "purist" was in the present context although I fear any reply might be circular.


26 Jun 11 - 01:21 PM (#3176757)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I would be happier if I knew what a "purist" was in the present context

In my experience Purist is a) something people of little knowledge call themselves b) something people of maybe less knowledge call me. The truly learned wouldn't stoop so low.


26 Jun 11 - 01:26 PM (#3176761)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

Sorry, Bert! I was, of course, referring to a fictional 'Bert' wot I just made up ...


26 Jun 11 - 01:30 PM (#3176765)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert

It was funny though.


26 Jun 11 - 01:36 PM (#3176770)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: McGrath of Harlow

Do people apply the same kind of criteria when it comes to food?

For example, would it be unreasonable to expect that the menu in an Indian restaurant should prfereably not be dominated by dishes such as shepherds pie or chicken chow mein? Even if these are dishes you might very much enjoy.


26 Jun 11 - 02:07 PM (#3176775)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrwfuveekG0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrwfuveekG0
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFpqDo-vNN0the second version clearly learned from christy moore, it makes the same mistakes in the lyrics, which means it doesnt make sense.
I am a purist when it comes to story songs making sense.
this is the version that makes sense
To work his twa best horses,
Cart or harrow or plough,
Or anything aboot fairm work
I very well could do.


26 Jun 11 - 02:07 PM (#3176776)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

Ah, but what IS chicken Chow Mein?


26 Jun 11 - 02:08 PM (#3176777)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Lighter

I suspect that the "purist" bugaboo first appeared defensively and self-righteously in the liner notes accompanying self-described "folk" groups of ca1960 who were clearly "pop" (or at least "semi-pop") groups.

If they were responding to anything but their own consciences, it may have been to perfectly appropriate criticism by academics that their lyrics, arrangements, and performances seriously misrepresented tradition even while their publicists proclaimed to the masses that they were delivering "the real McCoy."

I can think of a few names but won't mention any.


26 Jun 11 - 02:40 PM (#3176795)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Do people apply the same kind of criteria when it comes to food?"
Do you mean if they go into a shop and ask for potatoes, do they go out happy if they are handed bananas and are told it's ok as long as you "enjoy" them - I don't know many.
Nice analogy with the "Indian restuarant".
Jim Carroll


26 Jun 11 - 04:00 PM (#3176809)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

OED

(1) one who aims at affects or insists upon scrupulous or excessive purity, esp in language or style: a stickler for purity or correctness.

(2) one who maintained that the new Testament was written in pure Greek.

An illustration from Hazlitt's lectures in 1820. Italians who scrupled to use any word or phrase not to be found in Cicero.


In many cases this cannot apply to a folk singer or folksong singer since we know that the ipsissima verba or "ORIGINAL TEXT" is not to be found.

It would seem to be the case that many including me who arrange the style of folk songs are also not purists.

I wonder indeed who is.


26 Jun 11 - 04:26 PM (#3176822)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: goatfell

yes because most of them come on to this site


26 Jun 11 - 04:44 PM (#3176832)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Somewhere, maybe at 76 The Larches in Penge, Mr Wilson is following his recipe book to the letter in the sincere belief he is making Genuine Chinese Cuisine, whilst next door at number 74, freegan Dan is freestyling with a bunch of vegetables he's rescued from the bins of the local green grocer. Mr Wilson is a Purist Food Pedant who produces turgid mush resulting from his obsessions with being Authentic; Dan just loves good food, each dish is as unique as it is exhilerating, and he's never looked at a recipe book in his life, he's just eaten with his friends, living, loving and learning by way of everyday pragmatics.

Of course when we go to a Chinese Restaurant we're dealing with a living tradition of cultural cuisine on a very different level to the effirts of Mr Wilson. That said, at my favourite Chinese Restaurant and Buffet (China Pa-Pa in Preston where we treat ourselves once every three months) you will find all sorts of Western and Oriental cuisene catering for all tastes. They even have fried fish and near perfect chips! Such are the pragmatics of life in a multi-cultural society.

One wonders how much of this echoes the Folk Cuisine of Chinese kitchens, the things people are eating on a day to day basis; we often prowl the markets of our multi-cultural England; we love the Polish shops, the Chinese supermarkets etc. which all contribute to a greater cultural context. Essential attributes of England, which comes down to the individuals involved and forever on the move. It's a wonderful world, with no room for the pedantic purist.


26 Jun 11 - 04:47 PM (#3176835)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

That depends, dear Sweeney, on who the alleged purists are, and what they do and say. Adding pedantry to the list of charges (or accolades) illuminates not a whit.


26 Jun 11 - 05:37 PM (#3176861)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion

Indeed ~~ am I a 'pedantic purist', I wonder? I have been accused of 'purism' in my days of writing a regular Folk Review column in which I would occasionally lament the fact that not that much folk music [by any reasonable definition] was to be heard in quite a few 'folk' clubs; and, as I have related before, a friend posted on another forum that I frequent, "MtheGM, your pedantry is legendary".   

But, now, do these two separate and discrete observations make me a 'pedantic purist'?

It would not be seemly for an alleged purist, and an alleged pedant, like me to answer, I suspect...

~M~


26 Jun 11 - 06:00 PM (#3176872)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

And then he pulls others up for grammar...

I'm not sure the chinese, indian or potato shop comparison helps here.

You know what you want and whilst delighted if it is slightly different, a chow mein is something you know even if the word is apparently just Cantonese for scraps.

Folk means something different to me, you, M'Unlearned friend, (not fair really, I am finding his medication is working as I keep ruddy well agreeing with some of what he says, only some mind...) and our take, based on mainly nostalgia shapes what we like. Now.. Like many "movements" it is evolving and some may not like that. Fine, but it doesn't mean you are right and others are wrong.

Jimmy Page is indeed a fine guitarist and when Led Zeppelin were playing traditional song it would not be easy to say they weren't a folk act during that song, especially if Sandy Denny was up there with them. If D'yerMake 'er sounds like reggae then they may not have been Bob Marley but playing reggae beats makes it as much a reggae song as a rock song. After all, they are all ways to describe a musical set of sounds designed to appeal to a certain audience.

One way to bugger up this discussion is to see how iTunes guesses genre.


26 Jun 11 - 06:16 PM (#3176878)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

Dear Fluids, if you don't wince at LZ's attempt at reggae then you have no ears. I DJ'd reggae for some years. Apart from that, keep taking the tablets, you may be finding some of them beneficial.


26 Jun 11 - 06:48 PM (#3176894)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I reiterate: it's not just the one time I have been derided as a Purist, though never, God forbid, as a Pedant.


26 Jun 11 - 06:48 PM (#3176896)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass

"Like many "movements" it is evolving"

It is? Me, I'd say it isn't - possibly because the 'young turks' or 'heretics' (aka nicely established thirty somethings with equally nice young families) are too busy making nice music that appeals to a demographic which is virtually twice their age to worry about *seriously* jangling the nerves of hard-core traddies.


26 Jun 11 - 08:44 PM (#3176924)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"*seriously* jangling the nerves of hard-core traddies."
A slight practical problem with all this.
I'm a Brit who, after attending, singing at and helping organise folk clubs in Manchester and London as far back as the early 60s and who started recording traditional singers in Britain and Ireland nearly 40 years ago, finally moving to the West Coast of Ireland about thirteen years ago.
Around the time my wife and I started, apart from a handful of elderly singers and musicians, the music was very much on the wane - musicians who turned up at bars with their instruments were shown the door, the media took the piss and described traditional music as "diddly di" and airspace was virtually non existant..... it was about to die out with the older generation.
A handful of stalwarts got together and decided to put it on the map - not the erzatz navel-gazing, guitar-scratching bollocks you will find in many folk clubs in the UK, but the real thing.
The Irish Traditional Music Archive was set up in Dublin, giving Ireland the two finest traditional music centres in Europe.
Here in the West locals started a week-long traditional music school dedicated to recently deceased piper, Willie Clancy; not long after that other locations in Ireland began to hold song and music weekends dedicated to singers and musicians who had passed on.... the situation was turned around completely.
Youngsters flocked to traditional music, sitting at the feet of the old-timers who passed on the skills, tunes, understanding and love of traditional music to youngsters who were anxious to listen and learn.
Last St Patrick's day in this rather remote one-street town in the arsehole of nowhere we had over 100 young people, from primary school age up to late teens on the local parade playing traditional music on fiddles, pipes, concertinas, flutes (not a bodhran in sight tbtg!!). We have produced 3 TG4 (an Irish language television station award) 'Musician of the Year' winners. Now we have the grandchildren of the old generation of musicians we were recording back in the early 70s playing the music, some to world class standard.
In the academic field, up to the recent financial crash art organisatons were throwing government money at us; applying for a grant was pushing on an open door - we received a award a couple of years ago to transcribe the Irish Traveller song tunes we had collected in London. Local traditional music centres have begun to spring up; by the end of the year we will have established one here on the West coast with a huge archive, a library, a teaching facility, regular albums of local music, and a building in the town to house it.
We can turn the radio and television on most nights of the week and get programmes dedicated to traditional music and song: art programmes, discussions, live sessions and archival material, local nd national.
Traditional music has been guaranteed a lease of life here for at least another two generations, not by slavishly emulationg the pop scene to the extent that one has become indistinguishable from the other, nor by wingeing that "we don't know what folk music is so we'll play what we fancy and call it folk", but by making the older styles and materials relevant to modern life - plenty of room for experimentation, but not at the expense of the traditional stuff.
When I read my way through smug and uninformed threads like this, and when I remember all the clubs in the UK where, with about a dozen other folkies, I've sat though some tone-deaf prat trying, and often failing, to tune his guitar, and finally not bothering because it was "near enough folk folk music", then intoning (and probably forgetting) some self-penned piece which may have meant something to him but..... I wonder if I've missed something - is the folk scene so great in Britain that you can all afford to sit back and snide at those who take their music seriously, and enjoy it all the more for having done so?
My memories of what the British scene was like and the picture I get of what I'm likely to find in all but a few dedicated clubs, and compare it to any one of the 4/5 high standard sessions I can go along to every week in this town inclines me to say "You show me yours and I'll show you mine".
Jim Carroll


27 Jun 11 - 01:14 AM (#3176981)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon

Maybe they're religious too, unable to cope with the beauteous randomness and perfect common chaos of reality.

Not sure why you need to have to drag religion in to this but that aside,

I can't think of anywhere I've been more than once that is like that. Participants tend to sit in the same places. Regulars generally know what is "in keeping" and what isn't for the event. In a session, if someone starts a tune, others will take this as a cue to join in. A "random chaotic" happening of someone striking up a tune when another one was playing would (unless the "culprit hadn't heard it) be considered rudeness. No one is likely to repeat a song or tune that has already been done, etc.

Of course there may be no written rules but rather than random chaos, I would suggest there is a fair degree of social interaction and understanding,


27 Jun 11 - 01:52 AM (#3176987)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker

I'm a "purist" and I don't care....


Telecaster... Class A Valve Amp.. Greenback Speakers.. Treble booster.. Germanium Fuzz Box.. Slap Back Echo

trad folk song.. go man go..!!!!


27 Jun 11 - 03:25 AM (#3176999)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

""I think you'll find that should Spens, by the way"
Purist!
Jim Carroll "


LOL!


27 Jun 11 - 03:32 AM (#3177001)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

Bugger purism!

M'Unlearned Friend used to DJ reggae???

Nurse!   I need more medication, this is getting surreal!


27 Jun 11 - 03:52 AM (#3177009)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Spleen Cringe

"I want folk clubs to thrive, and a full club of the same people who were there thirty years ago isn't thriving, it is perpetuating, and that has a shelf life"...

I doubt this has anything to do with "purism" versus "top quality light entertainment" or whatever the simplistic reading of a somewhat more complex and three dimensional (thank god!) real world is on this, the latest version of an ancient thread topic. I suspect that it has more to do with a popular 1960s/1970s hobby remaining the preserve, largely, of the faithful remnants its original generations of hobbyists (cf other popular pastimes of the seventies that are now seen as a bit quaint and odd). Young people, whoever they are, do their own thing - just like you lot probably did yours.

Nice to see the ever popular folk devil/bogeyman, the singing social worker, rear his maligned head a couple of times in this thread as an example of all that's wrong with folk clubs. Using that honourable profession in such a way is almost becoming, y'know, a tradition.

PS - Shimmy - I think you're overthinking the issue of the youngsters who turn up once at the singaround and never come back. It's almost certainly a case of "Shit! Wrong sort of event for me!" rather than a fit of pique about lack of interest. In fact, not coming back is actually very respectful....


27 Jun 11 - 04:20 AM (#3177017)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

Folk music is like Oscar Wilde's comment on the truth - rarely pure and never simple. And all the better for that!


27 Jun 11 - 04:28 AM (#3177022)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"Dan just loves good food, each dish is as unique as it is exhilerating, and he's never looked at a recipe book in his life, he's just eaten with his friends, living, loving and learning by way of everyday pragmatics."

"Everyday pragmatics" may work in some situations - like cooking, for example, but I know that it doesn't work in others. In my previous life I was responsible for devising and writing test methods which were then used by the whole company - both at home and abroad. I based these methods on the laws of experimental design and statistics and each one was thoroughly checked out before I published it. Unfortunately, I had one colleague who believed in "everyday pragmatics" and used to write his own test methods - which he never bothered to check out and which gave wrong and misleading answers. This caused absolute havoc - until he was eventually fired.

In the course of my life I have encountered many people who think that their 'creativity' and 'natural superiority' entitles them to ignore precedent and to make it up as they go along. Sadly very few of them really have what it takes to completely ignore the work and thought of those that came before them. Truly creative people are well aware of precedent, for example even the mighty Isaac Newton "stood on the shoulders of giants"!


27 Jun 11 - 04:47 AM (#3177027)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

I hear what you are saying spleen cringe, it is a hobby and as such, people have expectations over it. I do think that as such it is a fair debating aspect of "purist" all the same.

Ah but... social workers... Now then, there's a tale. I started at a club in the late '70s and like many miners in the folk scene then, I was bemused by people from other professions singing about how hard I worked. Flattered really, as I thought I was a lazy bugger at best of times.

Social workers have always been well represented in the folk world hence being used as a metaphor for "most people." No, the bad bit about such stereotyping is the ridiculous comments I have had to put up with on these pages by people who, once you volunteer the fact (in context to a debate) that you may be, as in my case, a businessman, comfortable from a financial view and not wanting a workers' revolution, you get told you have no place in the folk world.

Now THAT is purism. Of the most odious variety.


27 Jun 11 - 04:59 AM (#3177031)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Adding pedantry to the list of charges (or accolades) illuminates not a whit.

Purism is a Pedantry; and like Pedantry it doesn't apprecaiate the way these things work. Purism might only thrive in a guarded situation of contrivance which much of The Folk Revival embodies by way of genuine passion (of course) but as the saying goes - the more you know, the more you don't know. Thus, Purism becomes unfounded reactionary claptrap that flies in the face of the nature of the thing itself, much less its broader cultural context.

When I was questioned for playing a Turkish Fiddle on an English Folk Song by a Guitarist, I could see the Holy Spirit blazing in his eyes; and he was a booked guest at a festival!

As for Religion - a Religious believer is a Purist Pedant who feels they are right and others are wrong. I meet Folkies who only ever listen to Folk, though few of them are self-confessed Purists. The Purists of my experience appear to be of the opinion that Folk is a Morally Superior Musical Philosophy. They are the Baptised but the woefully under-read. But whilst out & out purists are rare, that Ritual Religiosity isn't at all uncommon in Folk - nor is it to be (overly) scoffed at.

There are, and always have been, great things afoot in Folk, but it still feels pretty Cultish - be it in terms of its Doctrines, Orthoxies, Rites, Rituals, Heresies (I'm being careful not to use the word Traditions here) and the near deification of its celebrities. Mostly though, I suppose it's the curious absense from The Real World that makes Folk a religion; or Academic Theology; a world within a world with a very specific appeal. I must confess, that's why it appeals to me - at least the Folk Part of me...


27 Jun 11 - 05:09 AM (#3177032)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

Yep. The pub (known as "Arry's" it's real name was the Blue - er something) shut long since, but when I used to DJ there (and I DID have the biggest subs in town, and, as tradition required a monstrous valve amp with rows of glowing bottles) it was almost all skin'ed until about closing time and then the West Indian seamen off the ships that tied up in Rochester used to start drifting in and the ladies of the night. There was another DJ up the other end of town (Graham) who had bigger audiences than me but I had the hardest skins and a bigger proportion of West Indians which gave me good bragging rights: a matter of some value when I was a hippy working in a reggae club!


I'm not a manual worker (or farm labourer) either, and I don't seek to exclude all bar those from folk clubs or folk music but I know where the music's roots are and I know right from wrong.


27 Jun 11 - 06:11 AM (#3177046)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert

...then intoning...some self-penned piece which may have meant something to him but..... I wonder if I've missed something...

Yup you sure did. You missed the fact that when most of us started, we couldn't sing worth a damn.

You missed the fact that most of the singers who were collected a hundred or so years ago started like that.

You missed the fact that all traditional songs were once self penned pieces.

You missed the fact that if we don't listen to new self penned pieces then the tradition will certainly die.


27 Jun 11 - 06:26 AM (#3177054)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Colin Randall

... this thread hasn't done badly for a question that prompted Good Soldier Schweik
to ask a fair while back: "Who cares apart from Folknacious?"


27 Jun 11 - 06:32 AM (#3177057)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Great stuff, Richard - tell us more about the music you played, which (for someone for whom Reggae is a matter of King Tubby's, Studio One, Rockers and the Ark) I probably don't know too much about...

*

You missed the fact..

That's the Folk Purist's Litany right there; to be intoned to the Luke Warm Dirge. But please - you can't conflate the glories of Traditional English Speaking Folk Song & Ballad with the stuff people write in a revival context (though more power to them for doing so). Or was the point of the Revival to create a new breed of Folk Song Writers rather than putting the Old Songs at the heart of our National Culture where they belong? Hell, these days they're not even at the heart of the Folk Scene.


27 Jun 11 - 06:42 AM (#3177063)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert

...But please - you can't conflate the glories of Traditional English Speaking Folk Song & Ballad with the stuff people write in a revival context...

Of course not. the stuff people are writing nowadays will have to go through the same forces of attrition that have always weeded out the bad stuff. Then maybe we will be left with a song or two which may get added to the tradition.

One thing that bothers me though, is that the songs that were gathered by early collectors may represent a vignette of what was being sung at the time, and thus may include songs which would have died if they had been left to the natural selection process.


27 Jun 11 - 07:04 AM (#3177064)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

The whole thing was dead by way of natural selection anyway, but maybe that's beside the point. One of the great Folk Conceits is that people today are writing the Folk Songs of tomorrow when, in context, the Folk are quite happy with the songs they've got and the processes of Popular Music have continued unabated for the past 35,000 years irrespective of what a handful of Folkies might think. This was the context of the Old Songs when they were new; in the days of Diocletian when there was no Folk Music. Awareness of these idioms filters through into other aspects of our broader culture - Kipling was certainly aware of them, others were too - but they are certainly redundant today, even in that aspect of Folk that cuts through into the mainstream. Rather, they are kept alive in the same way enthusiasts keep old steam trains alive - or even railway modellers strive to preserve picturesque vignettes of the past in plastic and modroc. All of which is admirable - just don't expect Hornby 00 to supply rolling stock to the rail networks any time soon.

The broader picture is one of Tradition Process of Traditional Popular Music which is big, thriving, complex and beloved of billions. The idioms of hip-hop, R&B, dance music, jungle, drum & bass, dub-step etc. etc. are all Traditional Musics subject to the living cultural processes outlined in the 1954 Definition. That doesn't make them Folk, which can only ever be an afterthought, but please, write / sing / play what you will just don't tell me this stuff is in any way shape or form the same as The Old Songs, or will become so in the future.


27 Jun 11 - 08:26 AM (#3177091)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

Well, there you go. Just goes to show there's nowt as queer as folk.

Folk is whatever you want it to be, or whatever you KNOW it to be. Problem is, the next person knows the exact opposite to be true.

I wonder if there are heated discussions between symphony know alls and string quartet purists?

As for reggae, you live and learn. Good on you, although then you go and spoil it by saying you know right from wrong. I don't know right from wrong, I admit it. I think I know, but I fear it is like most things, perception. Everything is relative, after all. Just ask Albert.


27 Jun 11 - 09:18 AM (#3177111)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

I've got to admit that I've never really understood what THE TRADITION is. For decades I've been fascinated by the vast multitude of traditions that we have in this country, many of them obscure local ones. Most have never been recorded in song, which is why I like to put some of my local ones into my songs. The songs I write are not part of THE TRADITION, but they are about A TRADITION (or a legend, story or whatever). Whether that makes them folk songs or traditional or not I have no idea, nor do I really care.


27 Jun 11 - 09:24 AM (#3177115)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I wonder if there are heated discussions between symphony know alls and string quartet purists?

Of course not, because Folk is predicated on a concept of a music rather than a music in itself; it is a selective concept which ironically proves to be as all inclusive as Mr Armstrong's horse. Thing is, in the context of the Grizzlier End of the 21st Century Folk Scene (though I believe this doesn't apply to clubs in Sheffield), not all music is folk, but all music (or at least imitations & approximations thereof) can be folk. 21st Century Schizoid Club Folk lurks somewhere in the hinterlands between intention on the one hand and result on the other, and thereby great nights are had by all, but maybe not by me (mutter, mutter...).

Is this discussion heated by the way? Doesn't feel that way to me - & besides, it's far too hot for heated discussions: right now I'm loafing on the beach in the shade of my brolly, gazing out o'er the hazy horizons whilst listening to Jananese hip-hop on my iPod trying to figure out if the Morris Dancers presently paddling at the water's edge are real or not. I suspect I'll go home in a mo and get on with some work...


27 Jun 11 - 09:33 AM (#3177119)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

Ah but Sheffield apart, (I cut my teeth in Sheffield clubs...) you have the answer there, all music CAN be folk.

So, are U2 folk?

The evidence? Their acoustic album has a recording of Sunday Bloody Sunday on it. Guitars and vocals, a song describing an event that angered people, ensuring the lessons to be learned are not forgotten by the medium of recording it in song. Add in the Irish bit and I doubt anybody could argue it isn't a folk song.

Ewan McColl wrote a few pure unadulterated love songs. No downtrodden workers involved, just lust, love and affection. Recorded by Frank Sinatra, Tom Jones, Rod Stewart, Elvis Presley, Roberta Flack (who charted with "First Time" and there you have it.

Ewan McColl is not folk according to some descriptions here and U2 are.

If you ever need help nailing jelly to the ceiling, I'm always here..


27 Jun 11 - 10:05 AM (#3177136)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

My absolute fave was Derek Harriott's "Message from a Black Man". I might still have that 7". I think it was taken from an earlier soul rendition by the Temptations. I liked the Meters too.

Then there were the great cliches - Prince Buster's "Al Capone", "the Skinhead Moonstomp" - must be others but I should be working.

And the fantastic vocals from Desmond Dekker and/or Toots Hibbert.

I might still have analogue tapes of some of the vinyl.


27 Jun 11 - 10:13 AM (#3177140)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

all music CAN be folk.

By which I meant it only becomes Folk in a Designated Folk Context. This is my Falsifiable Hypothesis which I think of as my Folk as Flotsam Theory. Anything that floats CAN be Flotsam, but not necessarily IS Flotsam - it only becomes Flotsam in a very specific context. In one context it is Flotsam, but it remains a fishing crate, football, used condom, dead fish, rubber duck (&c.) which it would be anyway. As one chap just said over on the Fleetwood Folk Club facebook page:

"Folk" to me doesn't mean a genre of music, it means people, and Folk has always been people music. Matters not If it's ballads klesmir rock blues reggae or punk its the on the level delivery person to person and when I've done... my bit be clapping and singin or dancing to the next person (after a fag of course). Older people you can learn so much from and younger people you can be inspired so much by. In this world of tragedy and despair we are truly blessed. That's why I go to Folk Clubs :-)

That's the reality of Folk; it may not float my boat, but so what?

Otherwise - I personally don't think you can call U2 Folk any more than you can call JSBach or John Cage Folk, but if someone turns up in your local folk club singing U2 songs to the wrong chords (or even the right ones) or doing their damdest to essay Bach on their out of tune guitar, or performs 4'33" in 4'36" then that's Folk. By that point of course I'll be back home with my feet up with a nice cup of cocoa watching my I, Claudius DVDs, but, hey, that's just me. Again I say - Purist? Moi? Nah - I'm just an irksome snob who feels that whilst musical ability is seldom an issue, aethestic intention has to be.


27 Jun 11 - 10:16 AM (#3177144)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I liked the Meters too.

God yes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5X-6_0YqgeI

But it's not reggae...


27 Jun 11 - 10:21 AM (#3177149)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

"Folk" to me doesn't mean a genre of music, it means people, and Folk has always been people music. Matters not If it's ballads klesmir rock blues reggae or punk its the on the level delivery person to person and when I've done... my bit be clapping and singin or dancing to the next person (after a fag of course). Older people you can learn so much from and younger people you can be inspired so much by. In this world of tragedy and despair we are truly blessed. That's why I go to Folk Clubs :-
NoNOno, you cant call jazz, folk.jazz is jazz and is defined by improvisation, folk music can be jazz if it involves improvisation,, but if it doesnt it aint, and never will be.
blues is folk music, punk is not it is a version of tin pan alley,Klezmer is, and can also be jazz if it involves improvisation, calypso is, reggae is not


27 Jun 11 - 10:25 AM (#3177155)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

PS - Those Morris Dancers I mentioned a couple of posts back turned out to be Black-headed Gulls (Chroicocephalus ridibundus who flew off as soon as I ran over to check them for their flagrant abuse of The Tradition. I really must get my eyes tested...


27 Jun 11 - 10:35 AM (#3177161)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

NoNOno, you cant call jazz, folk.jazz is jazz and is defined by improvisation, folk music can be jazz if it involves improvisation,, but if it doesnt it aint, and never will be.

If my Folk as Flotsam hypothesis holds, Captain (which is does BTW, as tight as any brandy barrel) then it's yesYESyes. Folk as Flotsam you see - besides - the sort of Jazz you'll hear in a folk club won't be real Jazz, it'll be some vernacular approximation in which improvisation might play a part but it's not going to make you howl at the moon; could be a beginner, or a rank amatuer who can't get to play amnywhere else, though at a recent session we had a trombonist and a bass clarinetist turn up who tore the place apart, especially on the Irish stuff. I suspect they were proper musicians though - and they could improvise, and how. I improvise on ballads all the time BTW but I'd never call it Jazz, even in a Free Improv context I've always been the token folky...


27 Jun 11 - 11:15 AM (#3177177)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Rob Naylor

McGrath of Harlow: For example, would it be unreasonable to expect that the menu in an Indian restaurant should prfereably not be dominated by dishes such as shepherds pie or chicken chow mein? Even if these are dishes you might very much enjoy.

Actually, the menu in an Indian is likely to be dominated by either Bengali pastiches of Indian regional cooking, dishes cobbled together out of the wreckage of empire sensibilities, or dishes/ styles of cooking that were *entirely* generated in the UK in the last 30-40 years (Tikka Masala, Balti, etc). If you've lived your life sampling the cuisine only from UK or US "Indian" restaurants then you'll be gobsmacked the first time you try "authentic" Indian food.

There's an analogy there somewhere, and as JC said, it's probably quite apt :-) :-)


27 Jun 11 - 11:18 AM (#3177179)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bill D

"Purist means pandering to your own nostalgia."

True or not...that's the best line in this entire thread.


27 Jun 11 - 12:30 PM (#3177226)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Bert;
"You missed the fact that when most of us started, we couldn't sing worth a damn."
Didn't miss it at all; that's a problem we all had to face no matter what kind of music we chose to follow, but in an atmosphere like the one created by nasty little discussions like this one, the job is made a damn sight more difficult by snidey intolerant infantile name-calling like this that take the piss out of other peoples' tastes when you're attempting to draw youngsters into your music.
All this has nothing whatever to do with this argument and doesn't alter the fact one iota that youngsters are flocking to "purist" traditional music in Ireland while in the UK........; somebody must be doing something right somewhere!
"You missed the fact that if we don't listen to new self penned pieces then the tradition will certainly die."
Didn't miss that one either; the person who influenced me most in the time I've spent following folk song was the best singer of traditional songs I ever met, yet he managed to write ten times more contemporary songs based on traditional styles than anyone I know, some of which have become all-time classics that are often mistaken for real traditional songs.
I was referring to some of the navel gazing, introspective self-indulgent angst that passed for folk-song in many of the clubs I no longer go to exactly for that reason.
In the end I don't give a fiddler's fart who listens to or sings what, when or where; what does piss me off is ignorant and intolerant attacks on other peoples tastes, usually from people who throw all their toys out of the pram when their own music is criticised in the slightest way.
One thing is sure; if every 'folk' club in Britain were to be struck by a tsunami tomorrow, the music that would survive as 'folk' would be that which has been defined, collected, documented, researched, archived, published and generally made available as "folk" – the stuff that people sneer at here as "purist".
How about a bit of "live and let live?"
Jim Carroll


27 Jun 11 - 02:55 PM (#3177297)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

It ain't the mix I used to play (as far as I recall) but I'm sure I used to play this in the reggae club

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36ojJymYh40&feature=related


27 Jun 11 - 06:32 PM (#3177408)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,mg

Well, music is a sensation that we seek out, and we do not have to seek out music that we do not enjoy. To me it is the sound that is produced. I do not care of monkeys at a typewriter produced it, or space aliens or computers or someone yesterday or someone 500 years ago. Although I give extra points for 500 years ago..or even yesterday...So it is not being disrespectful to other musical preferences to not want them to enter into a group that is already established and enjoys what it enjoys. The trick is to meet kindrid souls and join them and not disturb people who do not want to hear jangly music or old songs about shepherds or too many sea shanties at once or whatever. A bit of stretching the envelope is OK..too much and people who have been attending something for 20 years just don't return because it does not sound like what they want to hear. A percentage of them will have purist tendencies, but most will not like the new sound. If the new people produced equally pleasant sounds, and some do and some don't, they would be more welcome. In the meantime, thank heavens most of us live in free countries and can assemble with others of our musical persuasion.

The key, as always, is not to impose musical preferences on established groups, arguing that it is folk music really or whatever. See if there is interest and acceptence, and not mere politeness, and go from there. If there is not interest, or you want to sing rugby songs and they want to sing heavy metal, have separate groups or start an "I like all kinds of music" group..and many people do like all kinds of music..I personally have a pretty narrow range of what I like..I like pretty voices singing pretty tunes with a good steady rhythm. I can not stand to hear jazz. It makes me want to run out screaming. ALl the scholars in the world could not make me like it. I don't want it at a folk club I go to, if I were so lucky as to live near one. To each his own, said the old woman as she kissed the pig. mg


27 Jun 11 - 07:41 PM (#3177451)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Art Thieme

I realize I have outlived my own context. But, to me, that context will always be what folk is.

Art


27 Jun 11 - 09:32 PM (#3177509)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Tattie Bogle

I was recently, indirectly, maybe, accused of being a purist because I happened to like the tune to which a certain song had been set, two and a half centuries ago. The accuser had found the lyric in a book of poems and set their own tune to the same lyrics, not knowing that it already was a well-known SONG; not an unpleasant tune by any means but had failed to use this wonderful tool of the internet to find out it if there was already a tune to the same lyric (it could have been found in less than 2 minutes!). Having listened to both versions, I would still unfailingly go with the original as being he better tune: but does this make me a purist, just because I prefer the earlier tune? REALLY?


28 Jun 11 - 03:40 AM (#3177614)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

I hear what Jim Carroll is saying, and his long association with the filing cabinet side of folk prompts him to have such views. I respect that, perhaps a bit more than Jim has previously respected my take on folk.

However, sorry Jim, if a tsunami hit every UK folk club, the music that would survive? Well, for starters iTunes would be the universal oracle on what is folk, and tell you what, the interestingly diverse offerings that have a folk genre attached by these experts in UK folk, (Californian corporate executives) is a thread in it's own right.

In any case, you live in Ireland where folk for the masses is second only to American country and western. Something that has always bemused me. The serious nature of traditional music in Ireland can be summed up by when you are doing the tourist bit and listening to music in Templbar or at Johnny Foxes. The tenor banjo player isn't just introduced as Shamus, Michael whatever, no. He has to be the three year running all Ireland tenor banjo champion.

You don't get that over here....


28 Jun 11 - 03:48 AM (#3177616)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman

There are gate keepers and gate openers. Each think the other are in dereliction of their duty.


28 Jun 11 - 04:12 AM (#3177617)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

If anyone would care to look back at the dictionary definitions above only one appears potentially relevant, and because it requires two value judgments, one as to what purity is and the other as to what is excessive, the question of whether there are purists cannot objectively be resolved. I know there are some who assert that the issue of whether something is "folk" or not can be determined by the 1954 definition and indeed I am close to that position although I can see some parts of the definition that might be put in more certain and more modern terms. There may be others who assert that something can only be "folk" if it is done as it used to be done - and I do not agree with them, and indeed I don't think I've ever met any.

But horse definitioners seem to mistake those positions for the assertion that something is ipso facto bad if it is not folk. That, I think, is never in fact asserted.


28 Jun 11 - 04:33 AM (#3177626)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Can folk possibly be pure? Can any music be totally pure? Can anything be pure? The whole concept of Purity is complete anathema to the mongrel nature of all things, on all levels.

We may speak of The Pure Drop or of Pure Nard but very few things depend on purity for their quality; even a fine single malt with have been conditioned in a brandy barrel. No indeed, the Purists of this world are those with a deeper agenda of personal inecurity they extend to their politics, music, religion, cuisine etc. Blinkered, and entirely mistaken, one would think...

For whilst many the mountain stream runs sparking and pure from the bubbling source, they all end up in the same heaving ocean eventually.


28 Jun 11 - 04:39 AM (#3177628)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"and his long association with the filing cabinet side of folk prompts him to have such views."
Nice bit of denigration of my position and experience Willie.
And the forty odd years association as audience, singer, organiser ... counts for nothing I suppose - ah well.
itunes - doesn't beat researched and verified information, background information, especially when 'folk' has become a convenient catchall for anything you have no other designation for - sort of like "misc."
A pit to hiss in, little more.
Suggest you take a look round the shelves of the British Library, Lib. of Cong. et al.
Didn't understand the folk for the masses/cw ref. - the situation here is indicative that all musics can exist side by side without schoolyard name-calling, sadly lacking here with displays of intolerance such as this, I'm afraid.
Perhaps we should tell the kids not to bother - waddya think?
Jim Carroll


28 Jun 11 - 05:02 AM (#3177636)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Suggest you take a look round the shelves of the British Library, Lib. of Cong. et al.

Doesn't that confirm that Folk is (partly) the reserve of Academia - a study of a music rather than a music in itself? This stands in stark contrast to the source of the thing, much less to the feral nature of music as a whole. I suppose Folkies can think of themselves as Purists because of the way this stuff was skimmed and selected and hermetically sealed therafter - entirely removed from its initial context. The taxidermical approach to zoolology is all very well, but tells us nothing of animal behaviours, calls and rituals; much less their tracks in mud and snow. Indeed, it depends on killing them first in order to ensdur their survival - albeit stuffed in a glass case, far removed from their natural habitat.

I'm not wanting a fight here, much less agree with your rather irksome foe, just trying to put some flesh on the bones of the Folk Beast so we might understand IT as a living entity, and not just as a bunch of myths and shibboleths about The Tradition, The Folk Process and the 1954 Definition. Methinks a wee measure of objectivity goes a long way...


28 Jun 11 - 05:05 AM (#3177638)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

You know Jim, I didn't mean it as a denigration, just as a catch all for the mechanics of what is behind the music, and those who work diligently for it. Bugger me mate, it was a compliment.

However, you did rise to the bait so here goes. You say you are also a singer and audience. Quite. So are 99% of the people here. You spice up your posts with pointing out why you are an authority, with lovely anecdotes, reasoned arguments and always concerning your "filing cabinet" usefulness.

Library of Congress? British Library? Yes, quite true, but back in reality, your scenario assumes folk would carry on. Yes, but not through dusty archives in buildings, but through the medium that 75% (according to PRS) of people use, commercial catalogues such as iTunes, Amazon etc.

The pit to piss in decides what the vast majority of people listen to, so purism such as that comment is denial of the finest form. Don't forget, whilst discussing purism, the idea of I like what I like doesn't enter into it. The complaint seems to be those forcing it on others. Apple Inc. are better qualified at that than you and I. And that is sad.

Turning to dictionaries doesn't help either. if there were one dictionary in one language I might be drawn into such a debate, but they are subjective too. As I have said in these threads for a few years now. Think about folk, think what it is and whatever you decide, that is what it is.

For you anyway.


28 Jun 11 - 05:07 AM (#3177639)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

Surely what you say Sweeney tends to indicate your conjuration of what you see as purism - as I hinted above.


28 Jun 11 - 05:16 AM (#3177640)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman

Tattie Bogle said:

"I was recently, indirectly, maybe, accused of being a purist because I happened to like the tune to which a certain song had been set, two and a half centuries ago. The accuser had found the lyric in a book of poems and set their own tune to the same lyrics, not knowing that it already was a well-known SONG; not an unpleasant tune by any means but had failed to use this wonderful tool of the internet to find out it if there was already a tune to the same lyric (it could have been found in less than 2 minutes!). Having listened to both versions, I would still unfailingly go with the original as being he better tune: but does this make me a purist, just because I prefer the earlier tune? REALLY?"

I don't think anyone did accuse you of being a "purist". What I saw was an apology and an explanation from the person who set the song to a new tune. Very much a live and let live philosophy and a slight embarrassment that her messing with the tradition upset anyone enough to warrant a discussion on an internet forum!

Paul Arrowsmith


28 Jun 11 - 06:11 AM (#3177660)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

all the old usual clichés Willie - filing cabinets, dusty archives, purism, forcing it on others.....
Wonder when expressing preferences became "forcing it on others".
It is you and your like who has set out to give offence by attaching nasty little labels - is that not "forcing it on others".
Maybe we should tell the kids over here to try the UK model - that seems to be packing them in, doesn't it?
"what the vast majority of people listen to"
Certainly not folk music - defined or undefined.
"it was a compliment." and no - it wasn't a compliment, certainly when you set it next to "dusty archives".
Jim Carroll


28 Jun 11 - 06:22 AM (#3177665)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

Paul, point well made in your usual diplomatic style. Personally, I have no problem with setting a poem to a particular tune, no matter how many times it has been done in the past. Same things goes for using a traditional tune for a new song - how many thousands of times has that been done? If you don't happen to like it, don't listen - and let those who do enjoy it. After all, it's only your opinion.


28 Jun 11 - 07:17 AM (#3177695)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Before the days of The Internet when I lived miles in the countryside and spent my leisure time in my study surrounded by old books of tuneless ballads, I would frequently sing them to my own tunes, many of which I still might use. In fact, I might still do this - like The Wife of Usher's Well which I sing to a tune I made up myself, or rather chanelled, subconsciously, mediumistically, which fell under my fingers when free-styling it on the fiddle.

I think The Tradition here is one of Freestyling tunes to old texts in modal idioms which are themselves both ancient and traditional. This depends on how we see the Tradition Idiom operating in terms of genre - I hear many fine new session tunes in English, Irish, Northumbrian, Scots & French trad. idioms, but I've heard few* new Folk Songs that capture The Spirit of the Old Songs because the living idiom has been lost to us. The musical idioms are maybe still there though - I was brought up with Scots and Northumbrian traditional folk music; I'm not saying I'm a master - far from it (though I know a few) but I will say it's in my blood, which is why I do it & love it.

S O'P

* New Folk Songs in the Traditional Idiom that is; Peter Bellamy had a knack of this craft, and others might occasionally hint at it, but what are the efforts of a few grizzled enthusiasts to what was once as much a living musical tradition as Hip-Hop and Dub Step are today?


28 Jun 11 - 09:53 AM (#3177756)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

"I've heard few* new Folk Songs that capture The Spirit of the Old Songs because the living idiom has been lost to us"

My experience has been rather different to yours. I think the thread linking us to the past still exists, but often at a very local (or even family) level and that new songs are emerging from this but they probably won't be heard outside this small niche, nor do they tend to exist in isolation, more as part of memories that are passed on.

I agree with Art Thieme that context is paramount. If you've the patience to bear with me, I'll give you an example which I've quoted before. I used to know an old Yorkshire Wolds farmer who would sometimes come to the first folk club I went to and, as well as telling us about how farming used to be, he loved to sing a version of "We're All Jolly Fellows Who Follow the Plough" that I've never heard since. Incidentally, The Watersons happened to be at the club one evening and were fascinated by the song and asked him to sing it several times (I don't know if they ever performed it themselves). I later asked my grandfather (who had been a ploughboy in the Wolds at the age of 12) if he knew the song and he said he did recall it.

Anyway, years later I wrote a song based on what the old farmer had said about the change from heavy horses to tractors and it starts with a verse of the 'Jolly Fellows' song. This has now been passed on to my folkie-inclined daughter together with the story. Whether it will go any further I don't know. As an aside, we once sang the song in a pub, appropriately called The Chestnut Horse, which happened to be in the very village where my grandfather had gone to school. After we'd finished, a massive, weather-beaten old chap turned round and, with tears in his eyes, said that the song exactly captured his memories of losing the heavy horses on his father's farm, and he asked us to give him a copy of the words.

I think this is a good example of a new song having a resonance and preserving a memory that goes back much further. It's not an isolated example; I know a number of local singer/songwriters who are doing a similar thing with their songs and that's what I would call new folk songs. Maybe one day a collector will chance to hear one of these songs and preserve it – but I doubt it because I suspect the collectors are themselves a dying breed.


28 Jun 11 - 10:46 AM (#3177782)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

That's lovely to hear, the leveller - moving too, but my own Folkie concerns aren't with the past at all; at least not that sort of past. I like things of the past, things with provenance and continuity, but I wouldn't actually write of it unless by way of literature or history. In fact - one of the things I love about Traditional Song is their complete lack of any agenda other than their immediate textual jouissance. Like Seinfeld, they aren't about anything - there's no message, no sentiment, much less any nostalgia. Rather they are vivid, immediate, contemporary - and as such their potency remains, by ad large, inimitable. Unlike modern Folk Songs, they don't tell, rather they show; they don't preach, they just are. I guess the first stage of the Folk Process is the removal of both the sentiment and the angenda that might have inspired them in the first place; to remove the individual from the equaion and give them a more common heart. From our perspective, of course such songs are old, even other-worldly, and like other old things they engender a certain urge, a familiar purpose, but personally I wouldn't like to get too close to saying what that was. To some it remains the very essence of Folk, to me it's a part of something that I remain very wary of, however so seductive (at times) I might find it...

*

As a non-Purist Traddy, I seldom write anything in the name of Folk, but occasionally one slips through the net, like the day a couple of years back when my wife and I were watching the North American Tree Porcupines in Blackpool Zoo, all of them looking out very intently to some distant horizon which made us ponder - what are they looking at? We already had the basic outline of the music, so all that remained were the words, which I came up with the following day. It's a song that came out of a personal understanding of certain Traditional Idioms, one that doesn't reference the past per se, yet sings of a common sort of longing I suppose! Just posted an early demo up on Soundcloud, so ignore the strange sounds at the beginning & have a listen HERE.


28 Jun 11 - 11:00 AM (#3177791)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

Wow Jim, what a bundle of laughs it must be discussing precious subjects with you. Touchy touchy..

I do respect if not always agree with what you write here in Mudcat so I will seek to clarify and unfortunately disagree yet again.

Dusty archives is a good use of words there Jim, (quoting you rather than me) I reckon the image is a fitting one for recording heritage. There is a huge difference between collecting knowledge on an abstract subject and using that to tell everybody else what it is they enjoy. Sadly, you have form in that regard. You say the vast majority of people do not listen to folk music. Might be true, might not be. A few million listened to Bellowhead on Jools Holland at the New Year and over the next few days, their Hedonism album sold hundreds of thousands of copies. err.. downloads of it did anyway, on iTunes, the media you say has no input to folk. Tell you what, you keep telling us what folk is and most others will enjoy it for what it is, abstract entertainment.

Abstract because all songs are about a subject but you don't have to empathise with the subject to enjoy it. Elton John says the song of his that he is requested to sing most is Daniel. Wonder how many of those know it is about a Vietnam vet who is blinded? When "I don't like Mondays" was in the charts, did it sell because of the tragic story it related, or we were just waiting for Boomtown Rats to release a follow up to "Mary of the Fourth Form" so we could buy it?

Sir Thomas Beecham summed it up far better than I ever could. "The English don't understand music, but they love the noise it makes."

Quite.

I will listen all night to somebody expressing history and context to songs and tunes, I sit there happy as Larry listening to their knowledge. But when somebody tells me I am singing something wrong and it shouldn't be like that, I see a halo over their head with purist written on it. (Ok, the halo says "tedious fucker" but I digress.) There are four people I know of including myself taking carbon fibre guitars to clubs. Chatting, it seems we have all been told the concept doesn't fit in or whatever inane waffle some people come out with. I suppose the next time I want to make a good impression, I should have a thatched roof fitted to my jag before sticking it in the pub car park.

Final thought. There have been a few references to dictionary meanings etc in this thread. Pop music is a shortening of popular music. if 51% of the public listened to folk music more than any other type, would we have to start calling it pop music? That's the logical conclusion of some of the posts up there...


28 Jun 11 - 11:07 AM (#3177794)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Pop music is a shortening of popular music. if 51% of the public listened to folk music more than any other type, would we have to start calling it pop music? That's the logical conclusion of some of the posts up there...

Prof Child famously called his collection Popular Ballads; it's exactly the same usage that's in Popular=Pop Music. I have books on Popular Art that some would now call Folk Art. Popular as in People not Popular as in Numbers. Pop and Folk - the words are synonymous, yet Folk is driven by a wonky agenda by which some might say otherwise, which is a bit of a shame really but each to their own.


28 Jun 11 - 11:46 AM (#3177810)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

"when somebody tells me I am singing something wrong and it shouldn't be like that" - I don't think people do do that, do they? Surely this is something that people make up as an accusation against differing views.


28 Jun 11 - 11:54 AM (#3177816)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Yes, but not through dusty archives in buildings",
"(quoting you rather than me)"
Whoops, must be someone else posting under your name; come across that a lot lately.
I think you'll find that archives have changed a lot since the days of the quill pen - at least the ones holding our stuff have.
We archive our material to make it as accessible as we can to anybody interested, for present and future use - any alternatives to offer?
We've issued half a dozen albums of it, and have around the same number of radio programmes of it under our belt; lost count of the talks we've given using our singers and storytellers as examples - festivals, clubs, libraries, schools and colleges - all given a chance to hear English, Irish, Scots, Travellers, fishermen...... singing and talking about their soongs and lives.
How about your songs/music?
Again I remind you, as you seem to have skated over the fact; it is you and your friends here who have chosen to throw your schoolyard taunts at our varying tastes in music - not the other way round, as you have claimed; a sure sign of insecurity I've always found; you seem to have chosen to ignore the "live and let live" request.
Not bad for a bunch who have not been able to scratch up a decent definition or descriptin of folk music between you -
If you want to debate the various merits of our music, bring it on, but please try t raise the level above the misrepresention and name-calling you lowered the discussion to so far.
And if you feel the need to snide at other people's music and tell them what they should be listening to, please try to learn a little about it beforehand.
Jim Carroll
.


28 Jun 11 - 12:38 PM (#3177844)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I don't think people do do that, do they? Surely this is something that people make up as an accusation against differing views.

As I said earlier, the few times I've encountered self-confessed Purists it was to tell me 1) I was in causing offence by using an electronic Shruti Box, 2) contravening some holy law using a Turkish fiddle for accompanying traditional English folk songs and 3) that I was by using self-looped phrases and drones on a Kaossilator I might as well be using a backing tape. In all three cases they called themselves Purist, and in all three cases they were fecking idiots.

Mercifully such incidences are rare!


28 Jun 11 - 12:54 PM (#3177850)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

I must be going round the bend (again.)

I am not sure I or anybody in broad agreement with any stance I put have taunted anybody for their taste in music. If I have told people what they should be listening to, then be buggered if I can find it, (or write it for that matter.)

Jim, you are sounding like an MP who "fights" the closure of his local hospital on the understanding it isn't closing in the first place and he then claims credit for the fact.

Or keeping it to the thread;

1. The thrust of my argument has been live and let live. Hence describing what I see as purists, who certainly don't live and let live. Stop saying I ignored your plea for live and let live. You are confusing it with encouraging debate, (the idea of threads in Mudcat apparently.)

2. I did say dusty archives, but you were the one quoting me out of context. Are you SURE you aren't a politician?

3. My songs and music? Not doing too bad actually. I get a stiffy when I hear others recording and playing them as always, and enough are published that after I am long gone, somebody could still come across them, both in dusty archives or on albums available on err... iTunes as well as CD (even a bit of vinyl here and there, just to show my age...) I don't call them folk, I just note they are played in folk clubs.

4. Dozy bugger, it isn't that I cannot scratch up a decent definition, its my personal view that a definition cannot be scratched up, as the word means it is definitive, and the whole folk ethos is subjective in the first place.

5. I note you put "And if YOU want to debate the various merits of OUR music..." Ah, sat in the bus peering out eh? It isn't your music any more than it is mine mate, despite your archives. I know that is hard to take on board, but by defining something, you infer it has a form and how can it when it means different things to different people?

6. If ever I did wish to snide at other peoples' music, I most certainly wouldn't try to learn about it beforehand. That would spoil the fun and miss the point. Luckily, I for one never would, and I'm not sure I have read of anybody else doing that on this thread. if they are, then they are purists and Hallelujah! between us we will have defined the buggers! Thanks for your help Jim.

Other bits, he says, reading up... Oh yes, M'Unlearned Friend. "I don't think people do do that, do they? Surely this is something that people make up as an accusation against differing views." Not sure what you are saying there and I really would love to give you the benefit of the doubt for once, however.. If it hadn't happened a few times, I wouldn't have put it. Many people on Mudcat have related instances of being made as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit because there was something "unpure" about what they sang.   

Everybody else; So sorry, but you know sometimes it is cathartic to tell the emperor he has no clothes. In order to do so, it is necessary to become a boring idiot yourself, and I apologise. But when it comes to getting low, I'm a lifelong volunteer. Pricking the bubble of pomposity is a wonderful hobby, just turns respectable people off, hence hiding behind this absurd monicker.


28 Jun 11 - 03:34 PM (#3177901)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

In my mind, there are purists who know what a folk song is, how it was originally done, what the context is, etc. And that's what they like. I love 'em, as long as they don't try to tell others how to play music.

Then there are purists who want to tell you all about it if you are doing it "wrong". Maybe purist isn't the right word for that. Perhaps we need a qualifier, like purist asshole.

So -- I'm a purist in that I want to hear traditional folk music if that's what I've been led to expect. I know the difference, and expect people who claim to be playing it to know the difference as well. I'm not a purist in that I don't care if my trad music is played on 400 year old instruments or electric guitars or whatever, as long as the musicians are any good and believe in what they're playing. Again, I know the difference between historical performance and living tradition and like both.

What I want to know is why are 'non-purists' so sensitive about the possibility of being criticised by 'purists'?

I once played a Bulgarian padushka at the end of the first set. As usual, several members of the audience came up during the break to talk about the music and look at the odd instruments. I was in the middle of a very nice chat with a fellow when a loud and irritated-sounding voice cut in to say, "I hope you don't go around telling people you play Balkan music. That's not how they do it!"

I don't know if sensitive is the right word. Pissed off covers it better.


28 Jun 11 - 04:18 PM (#3177923)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

Well, I'd in many cases be tempted to call people doing some things "pretentious", but that's different. It's a criticism widely found in rock as well. I would not criticise (as I have seen) a singer of Indian folk songs who used her I-phone to generate the rather typical drones - it's not a pretension merely a sensible convenience (although a bit quiet beside the traditional drums).

And there are differences between people who have changed words (or tunes or timings) and those who have erred - classic examples being mondegreens which are mistakes (and will get perpetuated if not corrected).

But I really don't think I have seen or heard much of people saying things are "Wrong". I knew one woman who used to tell people how to play the timing of rigs and jeels, but since a stopped clock was in time more often than she people just used to laugh at her. She also used to say that a certain Irish tune was "supposed" to be played in such and such a key, but again people ignored her - not least because she frequently confused the starting note of a melody for its key and did not understand the difference between the start note of a mode and the key of a mode. But she is I think the only person I have ever heard repeatedly tell people they were "wrong".

Ironically there is a right and wrong in much contemporary music, because we still have the original versions and the most popular interpretations to guide us.

However the difference between folk music or song is not one of style, and is not subjective. The best working definition we have is the 1954 definition, and it fits with other concepts of folk arts and folklore so I must disagree with those who say that the concept of "folk music" is a romantic construct. It seems to be well understood in many non-English cultures (including for this purpose Irish Scottish and Welsh as "non-English) so I fail to see why it arouses such hostility in England and the USA.

But having said that, the statement "That is not folk" (whether right or wrong) is not a statement about quality, and it seems to me that it is horse definitioners who take it as such.

I stand where I did. I have not seen a prevalence of this "purism".   I don't like Americana and country and so on, but that is a different question. I don't much like most Irish music either now although once I much admired the Chieftains and saw them several times in big venues, but it's nothing to do with "purism". It's to do with what I do and don't like.

Reverting to Mr Fluids - sorry, but Jim is long since a part (and a pretty expert part but the expertise is not the point) of the Irish folk thing - you ain't (AFAIK). That makes his usage of "our" correct. And the only view I've ever heard about Rainsong carbon fibre (or graphite) guitars, or the top line Ovations with whatever backs and carbon fibre fronts is envy and lust! Yes, I have heard "It's lovely but I'd rather play a guitar" - but that's just a defence mechanism, little different from banjo or bodhran jokes.

It still seems to me that the threat of purism is if not wholly imagined at least seriously exaggerated. If the concept is absolute it has not yet been defined. By the definitions cited the question is what is "excessive" - and we are going round and round the question without getting any closer to an answer, although some who apparently dislike the concept of folk music are doing, it seems, their level best the generate heat rather than light.


29 Jun 11 - 03:41 AM (#3178124)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

"I guess the first stage of the Folk Process is the removal of both the sentiment and the angenda that might have inspired them in the first place; to remove the individual from the equation and give them a more common heart."

Suibhne, that's a fascinating insight and, as such, I would agree that I come to my music from the opposite end of the spectrum - connection rather than a detachment which immediately made me think of early English translations of the Bible - though not, perhaps, the Psalms. By connection I mean a personal connection with the landscape, the people, the legends and the events of the area where I live and where my family comes from, and a sense of continuity which this brings. Without getting too new-agey, it's what, from my earliest childhood, has produced a visceral excitement that can be intense when I stand in ancient sites, old buildings, woods and even places like abandoned factories, railway sidings and canals; places that have seen profound human interaction that is, to me. actually palpable.

This is the connection that, I think, E M Forster was invoking at the start of Howards End when he says, "Only connect the prose and the passion..." and there is a long literary precedent here, running from Beowulf through Piers Plowman and Willam of Palerne, to Blake and on to Heaney and Hughes. OK, folk it ain't in the purest sense but it is embedded in the human condition and folk memory. Which brings us back to the subject of "purism" - anyone claiming to be a purist must first explain their own definition of what is "pure". It's a fascinating debate but one which, I think, will always be cyclical.


29 Jun 11 - 03:51 AM (#3178131)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman

theleveller,

I really wish there was a "like" button on Mudcat. I agree strongly with your middle paragraph.

Suibhne ..... where's your heart and soul man???


29 Jun 11 - 03:55 AM (#3178134)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

...an afterthought: when you say "to me it's a part of something that I remain very wary of, however so seductive (at times) I might find it..." I would agree - you've only to read Machen's The Great God Pan or The Hill of Dreams to see where that can lead. LOL!


29 Jun 11 - 04:14 AM (#3178140)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

Surely so few claim to be purists while so many claim to be offended by them, so those claiming to be offended should either provide a definition (or use the existing dictionary definitions and show their applicability).

And indeed those who choose to challenge definitions of "folk" as for example sentimental should show where the sentiment lies in the challenged definition.


29 Jun 11 - 05:10 AM (#3178170)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Blandiver

which immediately made me think of early English translations of the Bible - though not, perhaps, the Psalms.

Whilst I'm a King James man in general, give me Common Prayer for the Psalms every time! In fact, Purcell's setting of the first verse of Psalm 102 is probably the most devasting 2+ minutes (depending on the choir) of music ever written.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oKijWFSkIdE

Just as well he didn't set the rest of it, I doubt I could have coped.

where's your heart and soul man???

I agree with everything the leveller says here; I'd even bring in Kipling's landscapes and continuities - especially The Puck Songs (Puck's Song itself being one of the most definitive celebrations of the human landscape there is), likewise The Land, of course). But sentiment ain't heart nor is it soul, and so much of what I hear these days is mired in a bathos I find quite - inhuman! In Traditional Songs we might weep at the intimate human truths which have a more common resonance - both heart and soul - which is much of the appeal I reckon. Stuff like An Bunnan Bui (not strictly speaking traditional but in Paddy Tunney's translation it takes wings) is hard to sing for the tears.

Funny though - between maybe 1988 and 1996* we had one of the finest singers clubs in the country at The Colpitts in Durham. Not 100% Traditional - regular songs included Andy Barne's The Last of the Great Whales and Harry Robertson's Ballina Whalers. The first is regular folky fair that doesn't move me in the slightest - nice to sing and harmonise on, but even as a lifelong member of Greenpeace I'm indifferent to the emotion of the thing. The second one, however, just tears my heart out. How's that work? Maybe it was just the musical power of the chorus, or the resolute humanity of the thing, but much as I'm gravely concerned about the wales of the world, whenever I hear Last of the Great Wales all I think of is that old cartoon about the opera singing wale (actually, that's quite moving too, used to freak me out as a kid - just watched it now on YouTube & it still does!). But those Weep-All-Ye Folk Songs (The Band Played Waltzing Matilda etc.) leave me cold & they always have; way too obvious; whereas The Plains of Waterloo is a different matter, or Hamish Henderson's Banks of Sicily both of which I had to stop singing because I could never get through them without cracking up.

* 1996 is when Rachel left university to do her nurse training in Lancaster; it was never the same after that somehow. We were back in 2000, but largely absent for five years owing to me giving up smoking (the associations of Sam Smith's OB, Folk Songs and Golden Virginia were too strong) so sadly missed out on The Boden Years. It's always been a good club though, attracting great singers, but at The Colpitts we were all crammed in this tiny old room so the sound was just - transcendant! And there was a cameraderie back then I've never really found in a folk club since... Sniff, sniff... Maybe I should write a song about it?


29 Jun 11 - 05:28 AM (#3178184)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman

OK, I see where your heart and soul is. I was worried you'd lost it for a minute!


29 Jun 11 - 05:37 AM (#3178190)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie or Fluids or whatever

Leveller makes a few good points and I wouldn't wish to disagree, the personal connection thing is what makes a song a folk song. Whether it be a traditional dirge about carrying a ruddy coffin over the North York Moors, Vin Garbutt singing about operating a lathe or a punk band writing a song asking what else there is to live for other than getting your tits off on cheap available drugs. They are all folk songs.

I do like leveller's emphasis on your connection.

My connection with what I think of when people say folk is my experience of the folk scene, same as many others have said. I could also talk of my connections with Rock & pop, having been a musician in that arena and how many songs keep the old nostalgia going. (A pop song from the '70s might relate to an old girlfriend, a rock song might remind me of a great time at a festival, or hearing a bloke I don't know sing a sing at a folk club might take me back to another place I connect that song to.)

That said, I have never written songs about the industry my community was associated with and I worked in. No reason one way or the other, just haven't. By some definitions here, that makes me a consumer not a feature of folk? Reading some of the above, you would have thought so.

For me, the thrust of this thread was perfectly displayed by M'Unlearned Friend four or so posts up. He said that Jim Carroll has every right to be "we" and I therefore don't belong. Mind you, being somebody who has had a smattering of legal training, he slips in the "Irish" bit in order to be technically if not morally right. Funny, I never said otherwise, and Jim's knowledge and expertise is far more than just Irish, (I'd be offended by his comments too if I were you Jim, as you like to sound offended.)

I pointed out that a few users of carbon fibre guitars have had a few snide comments, although Bridge's use of the words envy and lust are new ones to me. One person who said my new guitar doesn't fit in folk clubs had a Fylde, now that I can lust over but cannot justify the cost.

Thanks for sitting there proving my point with just about every post you put M'Unlearned Friend. Just keep looking for the monsters under the bed if I were you. I for one don't need a dictionary or other definition to be pissed off when some precious sod tests my performance against their idea of what it should be. Many have such thoughts in their head I suppose, and the nicer people keep them there. I learn from constructive criticism of my performance, but never from criticisms of my right to do what I do. I use my inbuilt clapometer for that, thank you very much. And I clap vigorously when I pop down to a singaround type club and hear people using the event to sing publicly, which is fun in itself, regardless of whether you have read the 1954 definition of something that cannot be defined.


29 Jun 11 - 05:47 AM (#3178197)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

I'm not looking for monsters under the bed. I'm wondering if they are there and if they are the type of monster named.

Feel as pissed of as you have a right to be - but if you are saying that you are pissed off at purists, then say what a purist is - or is it just someone, anyone, who pisses you off?

Have you a "right" to do what you do? Why? If you go to a club or singaround don't you find out what is locally acceptable before you strut? Why should you be entitled to offend (if you do)?

Why do you say that "folk" cannot be defined? Is it merely that you don't like the best working definition we have got?

If you'd say something internally consistent or logical it might be easier to find some sympathy for you. Right now it looks like "I'll do what I like, and if you don't like that then you are wrong and so stuff you". About what I'd have expected I suppose.


29 Jun 11 - 05:52 AM (#3178203)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Blandiver

Related, almost. Rachel did this guitar thing the other day that reminded me of Tony (TS) McPhee, so I played her Earth Shanty on You Tube and she had to switch it off because I was blubbing like a baby! That's heart, soul, sentiment, landscape and just plain beautiful too... Even the 2 minute mellotron intro!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymbzfOOx8AA

I hope The Unthanks will have it as their by-now obligatory Prog Cover on the next album, then people will start singing it in Folk Clubs, as someone did recently with Sea Song, having never even heard of Robert Wyatt, let alone the mastery of Rock Bottom or the version from the 1974 TRDL concert, which is also something I can't listen to for cracking up:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66obirsT8hI

Christ, Dave Stewart's solo is just so - er - pure! Ah, sweet nostalgia... but you can't write Folk Songs about Prog Rock organ solos - or can you? Only write about that which moves you... like Sid (?) from Wigan who sings this amazing thing which he introduces as not a rock 'n' roll song, but a folk song about rock 'n' roll...


29 Jun 11 - 06:05 AM (#3178207)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman

A purist is anyone who sets out to annoy someone. A traditionalist is someone who does it accidentally. A folkie is someone who doesn't notice.


29 Jun 11 - 06:20 AM (#3178209)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

Bloody 'ell, I've got people agreeing with me – must be losing my touch!

But seriously (folks) - I think the comments above underline why people get so heated in discussions like these – it's the intense personal relationship that we have with "our" music, whether we're listening or performing, defending or condemning it. You can't define that relationship, classify it or put in any box that didn't have a very curious shape (and even then you'd never get the lid on). It just IS (isn't it?).


29 Jun 11 - 07:05 AM (#3178218)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin fluids etc

Ah, but the art of trying to entertain is to play to the crowd. So the accusation that I may do what I like and if you don't like it stuff you, is not a description I would be comfortable with.

As you ask, respecting others' views is part of the tapestry so a club that is known for liking traditional rather than "contemporary" isn't going to get somebody like me singing a song I wrote last week just to wind them up. Or I take it you feel I might? That's what I mean by you looking for monsters under the bed.

Consistency and logic are difficult to articulate when the issue is how they are perceived.

Mind you, you are right to question one thing, even if you are questioning your perception rather than something I or others wrote. I am not pissed off at purists, I am pissed off at hearing purism as a putdown to people who don't exhibit their view of what "folk" is. Even somebody with your rudimentary grasp (as you portray it, I'm not insulting for the sake of it) should be able to spot the difference. The problem here is that if you care about an aspect of what we call folk, you feel others are calling you purist as an insult. Methinks we are talking two different uses of the word purist here. But we know that, some people, me included, just like to argue the toss.

I still say folk cannot be defined because any definition I have ever looked at doesn't include an aspect that is covered by another definition. I stand my my point.


29 Jun 11 - 07:47 AM (#3178234)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

Blimey, folk music as entertainment? That's a new one. I thought it was a matter of life and death (and shagging).


29 Jun 11 - 07:54 AM (#3178235)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman

It'll never catch on.


29 Jun 11 - 08:53 AM (#3178268)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Folk might be about life, death and shagging - unlike rock 'n' roll (and Jazz) which is life, death and shagging. Folkies are just too polite, though one of the Colpitts Regulars (and a very fine singer of aforementioned Harry Robertson songs & photographer par excellance) used to publicly tell everyone of our mutual acquaintance that he hated me. Why he hated me I never found out. He would be very obvious about handing everyone personal invites to his parties - and be just as obvious about not giving me one. Weird. As an under-graduate Rachel was a particular favourite of his and we still have one of his signed posters on the wall. Indeed, we were even considering paying him good money to use one of his photographs for the cover of our forthcoming album, but then we found a better image - more suitable anyway, not better, because his photographs of non-human subjects are about as perfect as you can get. I tell you, not much shit goes down in Folk Clubs, but when it does it's of a very fine quality! He wasn't a Purist though, far from it; a master of traditional song, he was also uber-ambassador for one of the North-East's numerous song-writing talents whose songs he'd sing to perfection along with the Harry Robertsons and all manner of other stuff. Strange times. Maybe I should write a song about him?


29 Jun 11 - 09:12 AM (#3178277)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Ah, but the art of trying to entertain is to play to the crowd. So the accusation that I may do what I like and if you don't like it stuff you, is not a description I would be comfortable with.

When I go a classical recital I see an ensemble playing music and I'm in the audience listening intently. When I've done such recitals myself, it's pure heaven. Naturally, I expect the same decorum at a folk club - ideally I'd like to see performers dispense with the chat altogether, saving a brief mutter regarding provenance, where applicable, but even then you could dispense with too much detail. Usually you have to wade through so much comedic 'audience engagement' before e'er a song is sung - and some performers will happily preface a 3 minute song with twenty minutes of jokes. Not my idea of fun at all. Shut up and just sing, if you see what I mean. Stagecraft is forgetting there's an aufience there and singing as naturally as you would in the bath.

I once saw Robin Williamson do an unbroken set of 50 minutes segueing from one song to the next without stopping the once. Amazingly, his guitar stayed in tune throughout... Spell binding!


29 Jun 11 - 01:25 PM (#3178404)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket

I must admit, a singer who spends a bit of time telling us about the provenance of a song gets my vote, and then I also see how you might enjoy a singer just getting on with it. If you are in a club that is stuffed to the rafters with regular folk type dudes, they may not need reminding of the background to Sir Patrick Spens / Spense / Spence. But conversely, never assume your audience.   I reckon you are describing enjoying it as entertainment and that, as leveller attests, will never do...

In a similar manner, your take on classical recitals. There are some types of music that a person may enjoy listening to but not perhaps performing and vice versa. I have always said that jazz is not really a spectator sport, and when I played violin classically as a youth, I loved the string quartet I was part of for a short time, but found the college orchestra a chore rather than a pleasure. (Just had a thought, imagine somebody spending time introducing Wagner's Ring Cycle????)

I'm out tonight in a local club. Just for the hell of it, I will find a song about, love, a song about death and a song about shagging. If there isn't time for three, I'll just trot out Matty Groves anyway...


29 Jun 11 - 01:40 PM (#3178417)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

why not matty groves, but better still thomas the rhymer


29 Jun 11 - 01:56 PM (#3178426)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

[Insert Knight] wooed the brown girl but [insert lady] had the land. 40 minutes and 129 verses later all 3 and the unborn child were dead.


29 Jun 11 - 03:27 PM (#3178540)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge

I `ad one of them purists in my cab the other day; beard, pipe, leather covered tankard and a well thumbed folder.
We were doing a gig that night at the "`arrow Inn" and I was just going over the words of "`enry, My Son".
`e said, "`ere Jim, you`ve got loads of words wrong there."
I said, "Says `oo?"
`e Sa


29 Jun 11 - 03:32 PM (#3178545)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge

I beg your pardon, I `it the wrong button.

I said, "Says `oo?"
`e said, "That Cecil Sharp, that`s `oo."
I said, "You must `ave good `earing. `es been dead for years!!"

Whaddam I Like??


30 Jun 11 - 01:03 AM (#3178870)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander

Based upon some of the posts above, I would say that a purist is a species of Abominable Strawman designated to Native Folk Contexts in the British Isles.

I'm a trap purist; I only use snap traps baited with peanut butter.


30 Jun 11 - 08:58 AM (#3179033)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I must admit it's not only English Folk Purists who object to my use of the Turkish Black Sea Fiddle (Karadeniz Kemence) to accompany Traditional English Songs - certain of the comments on my YouTube film of Long Lankin come from Turkish people, which I find a good deal easier to take somehow...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVzsWVuDMm0

Hey - almost 11,000 hits on there! Not bad - in 4 years!

Anyway Read the comments though - I leave them all on - the good and the bad. I'm Sabrina Eden too by the way...


30 Jun 11 - 09:22 AM (#3179045)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman

A strawman is any caricature of a position that's too close to the actually position for comfort.


30 Jun 11 - 11:38 AM (#3179107)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander

Next you'll tell me that Yeti doesn't exist.


30 Jun 11 - 05:21 PM (#3179305)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman

There are a number of relic hominids on this forum alone.


30 Jun 11 - 06:48 PM (#3179344)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

Oh FFS GG, get real, no it isn't.


01 Jul 11 - 12:13 AM (#3179503)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander

Richard Bridge suffers from irony deficiency.


01 Jul 11 - 12:21 AM (#3179508)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander

But seriously, for a 'purist' to exist, then pure forms must exist. They do not, no more than Plato's Republic exists in any form beyond the written word. I suppose what some folks call a purist is someone who prefers older forms of any given art form. Which might make me a purist, except I play old ballads on a ukulele, not exactly traditional. I go to the older recordings for material, but I can't flatter myself that I'm capable of reproducing those sounds, so I do it my own way. So I'm a pure bastardizer, or maybe I've just had too much beer.

Good night, folks.


01 Jul 11 - 05:07 AM (#3179589)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I can't flatter myself that I'm capable of reproducing those sounds,

Music is never a matter of reproduction, and always one of interpretation. Even the recreation of classic arrangements exist in the area of specific hommage, but one thing cannot possibly be another, not yet carry the same weight or significance, no matter how exacting. Elvis Impersonators take note. This Stars in Your Eyes approach to folk, however, is not uncommon, nor yet is it entirely without value, for tonight, Matthew, I'm going to be Shirley Collins singing Glenlogie...

*

Another aspect of Purism is Folk Faith and Folk Belief. In another thread we are being invited to believe that following his untimely death in 1695, certain aspects of the music of Henry Purcell were Folk Processed. The term exists as a Folk / Mudcat Truism - an article of a particular faith that underwrites the Reliosity of Folk, much as a Roman Catholic accepts the reality Transubstantiation. But to the inquisitive outsider both Transubstantiation and the Folk Process must (after long years of careful deliberation, about 35 in all) amount to what the Good Doctor would call ineffable twaddle*. Indeed, the very belief in Folk as being distinct in essence from any other type of music - popular or otherwise - is a very particular Purism which only confirms that religiosity. Likewise a wafer is only ever a wafer, and crap red wine is only ever crap red wine...   

And Folk is only ever a particular style of music - any one of dozens of idiomatic genres which have become the aesthetic signifiers of The Colonial Revival these past 60 years or so. There is nothing pure about any of it, and none of it operates in a way that is any different from other type of music. And yet the religiosity of Folkies persists, ad infinitum, and for any number of reasons...

Folk says: Give me your tired, your Pure, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door


The Folkie says: But I, being Pure, have only my dreams. I have spread my dreams under your feet; tread softly, because you tread on my dreams..

S O'P (with a wink and a smile after drinking more beer last night** than was strictly necessary...)

* Watson that is, upon reading Holmes' article on the science of deduction in A Study in Scarlet; the irony being that Holmes proceeds to trounce him thoroughly. Myself, I still await a satisfactory explanation of The Folk Process that isn't agenda driven fiction, then I will consider myself well & truly trounced.

** The Golden Dream - A Celebration of Fleetwood's 175th Anniversary in words, pictures and folk music although, tellingly perhaps, our esteemed compere introduced it is The Golden Dawn... Anyway, we were packing them in to the ball-room of the North Euston - and we're doing it again tonight. Fylde Goers might look forward to the show on the Sunday...


01 Jul 11 - 06:49 AM (#3179622)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters

"Another aspect of Purism is Folk Faith and Folk Belief. In another thread we are being invited to believe that following his untimely death in 1695, certain aspects of the music of Henry Purcell were Folk Processed. The term exists as a Folk / Mudcat Truism - but to the inquisitive outsider [amounts to] ineffable twaddle."

We've been here before of course, Suibhne, but that doesn't make response unnecessary. When I look through dozens of collected variants of an old ballad or song, differing subtly or spectacularly in lyric or melody, I'm staring 'folk process' right in the face. It's true that re-interpretation exists in many forms of music, but widespread dissemination by oral transmission over decades and centuries allows far more fluidity than exists for music defined by a score or a sound recording. I don't know about 'purism', but to deny that kind of process sounds a lot like flat-earth-ism to me.

The Purcell example is slightly different, not least because many village musicians of 200 years ago were musically literate. However, some insight into the absorption of classical music into the repertoire of village musicians can be found in the case of 'Michael Turner's Waltz', derived as it was from Mozart's German Dance #2. Whilst acknowledging that its current popularity in the folk canon owes much to The Sussex Tunebook, Malcolm Douglas wrote in 2005 that "The MS version is a little different, but not much; it looks as if Turner heard it at the local Assembly Rooms or some such, went home and wrote it out from memory; accidentally incorporating a little of the second violin part into the melody line."

Vic Gammon's interesting article on Turner includes the following:

"A musician such as Turner might well have been important in the process of tune dissemination. There are a number of ways a new tune might get into circulation among rural communities, but one that seems quite likely would be where a musician like Turner copied a tune from print and then played it in his community where natural musicians would pick it up."

Both writers are speculating about the details of the process, but again any study of village music manuscripts brings out the essential tension we find in folk music between continuity and evolution. The very tension, in fact, that's at the root of the arguments about stylistic purism of the kind that this thread set out to explore.


01 Jul 11 - 08:25 AM (#3179653)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Hardly flat-earthism, Brian; indeed, not recognising that such processes are an integral aspect of all music and the very palpable consequence of what musicians do as a matter of course might well be. Is Mozart's famous memory feat regarding the Allegri Miserere part of the folk process I wonder? For sure, one can't accept that it remained in any way unchanged in the process - & the removal, by whatever means, of music from one context to another seems an essential part of what is being suggested here. Things change and all things are the consequence of change; nothing exists that remains unchanged. I suppose it's all a matter of detail, or else willingness to accept the fluidity in which all things exist; or even the implication that the opposite must somehow also be true - that there exists in this universe of chaotic flux at least something that remains permanent!

The widespread nature and diversity of the old songs evidences human creativity in an oral-culture; so what? The making, hearing and remaking of songs is the very waters of music to a greater or lesser extent. Musicologists might speak of such fluidities and traditions in the interpretation of Chopin; Jim Carroll has said on various occasions that especially skilled ballad singers could free-style such stuff on the spot. Indeed, in other Traditions, they do - one hears of bardic competitions in Croatia where they have needles between their lips to limit their vocabulary - one bi-labial slip and they're pierced! Certainly in comparing various old field-recordings one gets the feeling that this fluidity existed not just from one version of a song to the next, but from one singing of a song to the next. Maybe our understanding of this Folk Process doesn't go far enough, or maybe it only works in comparison; like Flan O'Brien's De Selby examining a reel of film frame by frame and dismissing cimematography as tedious. What is surprising to Folkies, is par for the course to Jazz buffs, who just accept it.

All things are the consequence of what proceeded it; nothing comes out of nowhere, and all things must change, or pass, and even those rare songs (folk or otherwise) we might find in single versions had to come from somewhere. Whilst examining the Misericords in Bristol Cathedral the other week I found myself looking at a medieval carving of a story I'd hitherto only been familiar with in the 19th century collections of eventyr of Asbjorsen and Moe (I see it's also in Mike Harding's Little Book of Misericords as a vignette on P. 44) - a variant of anyway, because all things are but variants and analogues of something else.      

And all this, mark you, in the unchanging reactionary and ultra conservative realms of The Colonial Folk Revival in which I might accept the notion that some things might as well be written in stone but out here in the real world those processes are part and parcel of the very thing we think of as being Music, or life, or anything else for that matter. I might conclude that it's only to the Folk Religious that The Folk Process appears so remarkable, because they, like De Selby, refuse to see the wider picture that Folk is, in essence, no different from another other music, all of which exist in a myriad diversity, and all of which have their Traditions, Processes, Conventions and (perhaps, God forbid) their Priestly Purists too.

*

Remember Back Door? I (like many) hold them in great esteem as being one of the true greats of English Music; this tight little trio who drew on the traditions of Jazz, Blues, R & B etc. to make a music quite like no other, not least for their fondness for minimal durations and virtuosic economies. It's Popular Music in the classic sense - something Anthony Braxton might call restructuralist; but even in the split-second tightness of a Back Door performance I well recall smiling at the variations, nuances and spontaneous references that peppered their songs*. Indeed, in 2003 they returned to the studio and made an album largely comprised of new recordings of their classic repertoire. This has pride of place on my CD shelves alongside the old (as well as the variant BBC sessions from the early 1970s issued by HUX) to stand as vivid testimony to musical fluidity and creative tradition. Likewise, when the Clemencic Consort re-recorded their landmark 1976 Carmina Burana originals in 2008. At the other end of the musical spectrum I was listening recently to an early jam by Yes essaying an embryonic Siberian Khatru, and even Saint Hillage running his power-trio to their limits in an embryonic Salmon Song. Embryonic in retrospect that is; now they stand as classics in their own right - as documents of musical process which is part of the culture of popular music & continues to be so with sampling, remixing and increased emphasis on using the medium of recording to enhance the very nature of musical fluidity.

Shame that such things are rare on Folk album re-issues though: no extras on the new OA&T and MIOG CDs, but maybe that speaks volumes too??

S O'P - Heliocentric to the bitter end!


01 Jul 11 - 08:35 AM (#3179659)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

PS

* Songs in the Jazz sense that is; only very rarely did Colin Hodgkinson actually sing in a Back Door performance...


01 Jul 11 - 09:09 AM (#3179675)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

And an udder thing, not wishing to over-egg this, but can the performance of any song said to remain the same even for the duration of its performance? Something may only exist in the moment, after which it ceases to be, and we're making choices all of ther time, even whilst we're singing. Now, if this Multiverse of infinite realities is true, then who can speculate on the amount of variations we might spawn even as we interpret the phrasing of a single line, let alone allowing for the random factors...

Now that's what I call a Folk Process!


01 Jul 11 - 09:51 AM (#3179694)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

That's not a Folk Process, that's entropy!


01 Jul 11 - 10:27 AM (#3179709)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Musical process isn't entropy; despite it's essential fluidity, its prime motivation is human genius without which there would be no music anyway. It's always a matter of creativity, of building, working, of taking something and making it one's own - be it a Purcell hornpipe or a Young Marble Giants song (we're currently working on The Man Amplifier for banjo & fiddle, purely for personal pleasure) or else making something new, but never out of nothing, because Tradition resides in the genre of the thing, and never is anything entirely new. Precedence is always part of due process & it's laughable when anyone things they're doing anything new with any form of music, much less thinking that fusing Zydeco with Chris Spedding (was that right Brian? I think it was you mentioned that...) is breaking new ground.

One of my Folk Passions is breaking old ground, so much of which just comes natural anyway; like baking bread and roasting chickens in the fine old style. For sure, I'm no purist in this, but in a world of constant flux, I feel it's healthy to remain suspicious of Faux Progress. It's like moving into an old Victorian house and getting rid of all the modernisations of the 60s, 70s, 80s & 90s - bricking up the uniquitous arch, knowing that the next people will just knock it through again, which is, of course, entirely up to them. In my younger, healthier days, I'd like nothing finer to spend a day laying a hedge. Even now I might look at some recent efforts at hedgelaying and shudder, but hey, that's just me; no perfectionist either mind, just when it comes to Craft, and Music, it takes more than just a bill-hook or an old concertina. There's tradition right there...


01 Jul 11 - 11:45 AM (#3179747)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

You're right, of course, Suibhne, "entropy" was my little joke - "continuity" would have been better. To take your house restoration analogy - I've spent the last 9 years restoring a 1847 station house. When I took the wallpaper off the bedroom wall, underneath were signatures of some of the Station Masters who'd lived there, going back to the 1880s. So each new Station Master had moved in, changed the wallpaper and signed the wall so the next one would know he'd been there. The dilemma was, not being a Station Master, should I sign as well? Well, I did - and then, after putting back a cast-iron fireplace, put up one of Willam Morris's more restrained designs.


01 Jul 11 - 01:02 PM (#3179785)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Classic post, theleveller - I'm feeling a tad green right now, but although we always buy old houses we never live in any of them long enough to do too much, although thanks to Negative Equity we've been here for three years now - and I still haven't opened up the old kitchen chimney for our wee stove. Hell, there are still boxes unpacked off when we moved the time before last!

Anyway, back to this Folk Process, the evidences that Brian presents there aren't in the least bit surprising; what would be surprising if two songs were found in the Oral Tradition that were exactly the same, albeit otherwise completely independent. Now that would be remarkable! But it isn't remarkable at all - it's just as we'd expect it to be.


01 Jul 11 - 01:14 PM (#3179794)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

But it is empirical evidence that the folk process did occur.

And no, folk music is not defined by style.


01 Jul 11 - 06:43 PM (#3179974)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Folk Music was defined initially by the academics who peceived it in the first place in a grand act of cultural condescension - although one would hope they'd be a bit more cautious these days with respect of defining anything, much less condescending to do so. Folk Music can only ever defined by idiom, genre & style; or rather idioms, genres & styles - an innumerable plethora of the word o'er, though in The Colonial Revival it's mostly defined by context and the people who love it and play it. The 1954 Definition is of marginally less use than the 1954 Dandy Book, a copy of which held my words tonight in the Feetwood 175 Show of Folk Songs, all of which were written & arranged by the people involved - so Style/s and Context, no horses, and plenty of folk character - and characters - and not one of them taken over by the community and left unchanged.

If I were a religious man, then I might be tempted to believe otherwise. But as I'm not, I must look at the empirical evidence at my disposal - thus do I conclude that all music is the consequence of all manner of traditions and processes, thus to call it The Folk Process - thus claiming it is somehow unique to Folk - is sorely mistaken. Unless all music is folk music after all...


01 Jul 11 - 07:45 PM (#3179994)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: ripov

If folk music exists as a seperate body at all, surely it lives in the minds of "folk", and is the music, whether repeated from previous knowledge or spontaneously composed at the time, that "folk" want to sing or play. It cannot be defined from outside.
The fact that there may be traditional forms is really irrelevant to this, and if those forms are used in performance to others (as in folk clubs or other concert setting), then DURING THE PERFORMANCE that music ceases to be folk music, and becomes "art" music. (Thats why you rehearse)
And the fact that we are musicians doesn't give us the right to say what music "folk" should like. We just have to accept it, if it fits in with our scheme or not.
"Folk" love to sing their music at Karaoke sessions. Sorry!
If you have a guitar or fiddle they may ask YOU to play while they sing. But you had better know the songs folk like!
One of the oldest forms of entertainment is the recitation of poetry to a rhythmic musical background (Beowulf, Renard etc).
Currently this is called Rap.(I don't think much of the poems though)
None of this is to suggest that we shouln't keep playing the tunes we know and love, and have done for the last 5/10......./75 years. These are own personal folk tunes, even if Purcell wrote some of them.


01 Jul 11 - 07:58 PM (#3180000)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,roderick warner

Musicians do not, in my experience, tend to be purists...


01 Jul 11 - 09:48 PM (#3180050)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

If folk music were a matter of style then there could not be folk music of different countries, for the styles in different countries differ. Thus if one is folk, the other is not.


02 Jul 11 - 01:08 PM (#3180231)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

There couldn't be jigs if reels exist either, and where protest singers fit in?

Why by country M'Unlearned friend? Surely beards, ethinc skirts and sanctimonious outlooks exist all over?


02 Jul 11 - 04:03 PM (#3180340)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: ripov

I know where I'd like to fit some of them who sing their songs extraordinarily slowly! Why the devil didn't Dylan mark his stuff allegro?


02 Jul 11 - 06:14 PM (#3180426)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

(I had this ready to post earlier today but Mudcat went down, so, after a diverse cultural day in Manchester - inclusing CDs of Alfred Deller Folk Songs, Caravan Live and the Fairfield Halls, the new Gillian Welch album and a few other oddments...)

*

No one's suggesting one Folk Music can possibly be another, just that, empirically, Folk Music is a heading for any number of styles of music - everything from the Transylvanian Dance House (calm down Goth Clubbers!) to the Northumbrian coal house (close that door on the way out, will you?). Like I say, Folk is a matter of different Idioms the word o'er and was, initially anyway, defined by academic outsiders. These days the considerations are a little different with everyone from The International Folk Music Council (now the International Council for Traditional Music) to Folk Roots (now fRoots) downplaying the Folk Factor owing to uncertainty of definition, or association, or both, or more besides, though it could well change as Folk regains credibility but not on account of Purism - on the contrary, more on account of Marling & Mumford et al!

*

I'd agree with what ripov says too; Folk Music in the context of The Colonial Revival has very little to do with its Popular (As In People) Roots, much less the music of The Folk today, but it is really is too early in the morning to stomach that particular can o' worms. I'm content that, these days, by and large, Folk Music is far from Popular (in both senses of the word) though I did smile when I heard Bellowhead booming through from the hi-fi of my clubbing non-folkie neighbours next door (although they were recently thrown out by their landlord for lowing the tone!). That said, I doubt they'd be any more inclined to become regulars at our local baby-boomer folk club, any more than buyers of the Fisherman's Friend CD, or any one those thousands sure to be enjoying The Wilsons at The Proms this year.

*

Is the Folk Mission an aspect of this Purism we hear about? Time and time again here on Mudcat (where the vast majority of the music discussed, fawned over and ignored is not, strictly speaking, Folk at all if we follow the letter o' my lady's law) we hear someone talking about Our Kind O' Music. It's a Religious thing, one of many Religious things about Folk which make me feel that it's a Religion (to misquote Laura Nyro - looks like music, feels like a religion...) with people feeling the need to Convert others to the Cause. I often say (only because it's true) that you have to walk many miles in the Real World before you meet a Folkie, which is fair enough, but you meet an awful lot of Folks, each of whom have their own unique experience of life, the universe, and everything, music included, which is bound to contain a little Folk, be it Riverdance, Celtic Woman, Fisherman's Friends...


02 Jul 11 - 10:53 PM (#3180502)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: bluesunsets

As a twenty-something female and a relative newcomer to the traditional sea music scene (apologies to those of you who are English folkies; I'm from the other side of the pond.), I came to the realization long ago that I will never be a "purist singer/player" of my chosen folk niche. It's impossible, based off of my gender and the realization that, Jackaroes and other anomalies aside, the astounding majority of sailors aboard ships were male. As such, for me it's not so much about what is the "purist" version of the song (although I love looking at the many variants extant, both published and non-published), as what version works well for me as a performer and also as a listener.

I also was introduced to the folk music scene at The Gris in CT, which I've been told is a bit of a different atmosphere from the norm. On an average night in the summer especially, we're encouraged to sing loudly, spontaneously harmonize (some nights we're more successful than others), and various random people have been known to start up a chanty during the breaks in a fit of drunken recall. This has also led to instances of mis-hearing lyrics in the caterwaul of the background conversation that then have gotten into common in-jokes among segments of the regular population ("Crooked Dan" instead of "Crooked Jack" for instance).

That isn't to say that I don't have my biases and preferences about music, but as someone who migrated to Folk from the comparatively rigid Classical music world, one of the things that I love about the tradition is that unlike Classical music, which has been written down in increasingly rigid form from the Middle Ages on, any sheet music that you find for Folk generally acknowledges that it came from an oral tradition. So whereas when I play Mozart's Clarinet Concerto at an audition heaven forbid I don't do the cadenza from his Clarinet quartet (forgive me if I forget the exact origin; it's late here) in the second movement, if I decide to make up my own verses to "Blow the Man Down" the next time I'm at a singaround I probably would be applauded for it, or at the very least people would be familiar enough with the tune to sing the correct replies. Or maybe I want to sing the older tune to Walzing Matilda.... Didn't go over well in my General Music class as a music ed major in college, but I could see people appreciating it in the Folk world.

In short, folk is folk because people have a license to interpret and change it. I don't have to like your version, but it's arguably as legit as the Seeger or Lomax recording in the LoC records from 80 years ago. There's a place for both the new version and the version that tries to recreate as closely as possible that 80 year old recording.


03 Jul 11 - 05:04 AM (#3180573)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon

There couldn't be jigs if reels exist either, and where protest singers fit in?

Why by country M'Unlearned friend?


Actually, some might take it further than by country and point to regional styles.

Jigs and reels exist in the traditional repertoires of several countries but can be played in national/ regional styles. One might for example be able to hear whether the same reel was played in a Scottish or Irish style.

I'm not sure that protest singers really fit in with this as there does seem to me to be a sort of universal protest song style.


03 Jul 11 - 07:08 AM (#3180625)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

(apologies to those of you who are English folkies; I'm from the other side of the pond.)

I now always refer to The Colonial Revival to emphasise that both it and the folk-song / ballad tradition that preceded it were phenonemons of the English Speaking world as a whole. One of my versions of The Debry Ram comes from Australia, and Bellamy was getting round to Henry Lawson; his setting of Glass on the Bar is a corker. But still you speak of the freedoms of The Tradition (!?) and the rigitidy of Classical Music; I know a lot of classical musicians who put forward the opposite argument most convincingly!


03 Jul 11 - 12:51 PM (#3180746)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: dick greenhaus

Some purists exist, and can be found enjoying Wendy Arrowsmith' s "Annachie Gordon" on YouTube


03 Jul 11 - 01:10 PM (#3180759)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Jim.....!

You accuse people people of schoolyard taunts....you, the man who said earlier in the thread that in England we spent all our time in folk clubs scratching our bollocks!

Well all right we do scratch our bollocks, its traditional in our house. even the women do it. in fact some of them are quite good at scratching bollocks - though I've seen it in a floorspot - I've never seen anyone do a complete gig.


03 Jul 11 - 09:59 PM (#3181019)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

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

Not regularly, not on a one-to-one basis.......just a clear enough vision to feel they have the right to persecute the shit out of all human kind.


04 Jul 11 - 03:20 AM (#3181087)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"You accuse people people of schoolyard taunts...."
I pointed out that if you want to discuss other peoples' music, perhaps you might make some headway if you did so on the basis of fact and not by inventing non-existant entities like 'purists' to make your case, any more that I would choose equally dishonest and insulting terms terms like 'snigger snogwriters' or 'talking horse' to make mine.
I was part of the English scene for thirty five years; I cut down on my folk-club intake when it became all but impossible to go to a folk club and hear a folk song and when the standards plummeted - the right for me to liten to the music I wanted to listen to played half decently was taken from me (thousands of others felt the same and pissed off with me around the same time). Not a matter of "purism" - I couldn't find the music I liked and had been listening to for decades any more, so I restricted my visits to where I could, and continued to do so until even they disappeared.
In the end, the proof of the pudding.....
Can't get too involved in the discussion at present; I'm attending our annual traditional music summer school (now in its 39th year). Our one-street town is crammed with singers, musicians and enthusiasts who have come to play, sing, listen and learn.
All this week there will be classes, sessions, organised recitals, talks, topped off with a huge concert of some of the finest singers and musicians in Ireland. A growing percentage of the attendees will be youngsters who will take the music back to where they came from.
Hopefully they will end up with four or five regular weekly sessions in their home towns similar to the ones we enjoy here all the year round.
There has been a lot of whingeing, on this thread and others, about "not telling others what to do" - yet it is precisely those whingers who are doing exactly that by slagging others off for not liking the same things they do.
"Purists" my arseum; come back when the English scene is flourishing, when the clubs are drawing reasonably sized audiences, when the standard of playing and singing is rising, when youngsters are flocking to the music in their thousands and when you can turn your television and radio on and listen to programmes of traditional music and song most nights of the week.
Must go - music calls.
Jim Carroll


04 Jul 11 - 03:54 AM (#3181091)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

Well done Fluids - you have joined in in demonstrating that "Folk" cannot be defined by style.


04 Jul 11 - 09:18 AM (#3181185)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

with respect,Jim, the standard of the singers may be very good, but I bet they are all unaccompanied.
I like good unaccompanied singing, I also like good accompanied singing,Ilike you believe musiuc should be shown respect and listened to, that it should not be treated as wallpaper, but I would like to see on the IRISH singers clubs circuit a relaxation of the strict unaccompanied rule.


04 Jul 11 - 09:56 AM (#3181198)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters

"The making, hearing and remaking of songs is the very waters of music to a greater or lesser extent. Musicologists might speak of such fluidities and traditions in the interpretation of Chopin"

When you can point me towards feral versions of Chopin Etudes co-existing happily and unselfconsciously in three or more different musical modes, or perhaps renditions of his Lieder with texts that are substantially different but still contrive to put across the same idea, then I might start to take this argument seriously. We are talking of a difference in kind here: music defined by the score evolves differently from that which is not.

"I might conclude that it's only to the Folk Religious that The Folk Process appears so remarkable"

Well, I adhere to no religion, and certainly not to this mythical 'Folk Religion' that you keep trying to persuade us is so widespread. But I must confess that when I listen to Phil Tanner's Henry Martin alongside Sam Larner's Lofty Tall Ship - so different, yet so clearly the same - or work my way through those 97 alternative tunes and texts for Two Sisters, then 'remarkable' is exactly the word that comes into my head.


04 Jul 11 - 10:35 AM (#3181214)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

When you can point me towards feral versions of Chopin Etudes co-existing happily and unselfconsciously

What I can point you to is the fact that no two readings of Chopin are ever going to be exact and to the fact that each interpration is part of any number of traditions that have developed over the years be it in concert halls, academies, universities and record labels. The parameters (in the Folk Terms you mention) might not be so blantantly simplistic, but are still pretty feral when you get down to the details. You can see that much on Young musican of the Year.

then 'remarkable' is exactly the word that comes into my head.

I get the same vibe contrasting readings of Purcell Sonatas or Back Door performances, or classic Soft Machine bootlegs, or Hip-Hop mixes and remixes and samplings etc etc. I'd say it was par for the course myself, born from the simple fact that nothing can ever happen the same way twice - scored, oral or otherwise. Also - I've never seen two oak trees that were alike, much less two human beings; or even two grains of sand. If we look closely enough then all is uniqueness. It is for sure, a glorious thing, but hardly in any way, shape or form remarkable. Thing is, Folkies get exited over collected specimens - examples of taxidermy isolated from any context rather than things still living in their natural habitat. It's like a biologist trying to deduce the behaviour of the Dodo by examining imperfectly stuffed specimens in the back room of a museum. Even with recordings we're dealing with mere glimpses of the thing.

And, as for Folk Religion, see the recent Steamfolk thread which openly muses on a recent epiphany...


04 Jul 11 - 12:26 PM (#3181281)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters

Nothing there to convince me, Suibhne. Holding a top C for five as opposed to four seconds could be classed as a 'different interpretation' by those interested in counting angels on pinheads, but I'm talking about a completely different class of variation. 1970s jazz-rockers reprising their own back catalogues don't hack it either.

"(in the Folk Terms you mention)"

Which were the 'Folk Terms'? And why the capitals?

"Folkies get exited over collected specimens"

More pejorative generalisations. I get excited about songs, about live performances, about recordings. None of them is a 'specimen' in my book.


04 Jul 11 - 01:17 PM (#3181317)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

but I'm talking about a completely different class of variation

Even supposing every interpretation of any given classical piece was identical, the piece itself remains the consequence of the process and tradition which preceded it. Now, if all interpretations of that piece were the same, how come there are so many different recordings if only to prove that it's impossible to do anything the same way twice? Variation is variation, and tradition is tradition - both are inherant aspects of all music.

Which were the 'Folk Terms'? And why the capitals?

'Unselfconsciously in three or more different musical modes' seems to fit the bill. Capitals because I think such theological / theorectical terminology deserves respect. It only becomes unselfconscious when you apply an academic terminology to the material which would have been completely alien to the original singers. Like Linguists do in speech analysis. It's like saying such-and-such used different nown and verb phrases unselfconsciously because they didn't know what a noun or verb phrase was. Innocently would be more accurate.

More pejorative generalisations.

I'm not being pejorative here, just pointing out that what Folkies call The Tradition consists of so many isolated specimens suspended in formaldehyde far removed from any life they might once have had in the wild. A collected song is not a living entity, it is only an imperfect record of how such-and-such might have sung it on that particular occasion. One one hand we talk of Fluidity, on the other hand that Fluidity is measured by comparing collected non-Fluid versions assumed to be definitive in and of themselves. Anyway, I spend a lot of time immersed in that stuff; I know the differences and variations, just I can't possibly see how it could possibly be any different. Can you?

1970s jazz-rockers reprising their own back catalogues don't hack it either

I'm not talking about reprising back-catalogues, rather a living tradition of musical folklore that was collected at the time. For example - compare the famous recording of The Soft Machine Live at the Paradiso March 1969 with the studio versions on Volume 2 recorded around the same time.

Or this which is just mental & beautiful too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePF056VfC5k (The director preferred the demo; there are days when I do too...)

*

Love to chat. Off-line until tomorrow AM.


04 Jul 11 - 01:30 PM (#3181323)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"but I would like to see on the IRISH singers clubs circuit a relaxation of the strict unaccompanied rule."
A couple of years ago the Frank Harte Weekend organisers announced a "mystery guest" had requested to perform as a tribute to collector Tom Munnely, who had recently died. The guest turned out to be Christy Moore, who had been told that they were happy he should perform, as he always did, accompanied, but he replied that as an acknowledgement to Tom's work of recording traditional singers, he would prefer to sing without accompaniment.
I am not aware of any "rule" saying singing should be unaccompanied, but I see no reason why any club should not adopt any policy they wish regarding who they book or what and how they sing - it is for neither you nor me to imose our tastes on any club - if you don't like it, stay away.
Whether it is to our own personal tastes, chacun à son gout.
Jim Carroll


04 Jul 11 - 01:56 PM (#3181340)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

no Jim, its not that i dont like it, as i said I do like unaccompanied singing, but rules like that it exclude.
I understand why they have that rule, I am aware of at least two clubs that have that rule, I tell you why i think it is amistake.
1. it is exclusive.
2. It can limit the repertoire of songs , not every song works best unaccompanied, some are enhanced by accompaniment.
lastly I am not trying to impose my tastes upon anyone, to the contrary it is the people who run singers clubs and insist that no one should use a musical instrument to accompany, who are imposing their tastes upon others and are excluding those people who may wish to accompany their songs with an instrument.
personally, I think it is complete bollocks that Christy Moore should be allowed to use an instrument but no one else, one rule for Christy another rule for someone else.


04 Jul 11 - 02:45 PM (#3181362)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"some are enhanced by accompaniment"
In your opinion - the British and Irish traditions are basically unaccompanied.
I agree that some songs can be enhanced by accompaniment, but in my experience many that are accompanied suffer by being so performed. If some clubs wish to impose a non-accompaniment rule in order to maintain a 'traditional' policy, surely that is up to them?
Many organised sessions would resist adding bodhrans to their music because the organisers believe it changes the nature of that music; surely it is their perogative to do so, not yours or mine.
"who are imposing their tastes upon others"
No - they are imposing it on their club alone, nobody elses.
"I think it is complete bollocks"
It was a special occasion, Tom had long time connections with the Frank Harte weekend, the organisers were prepared to relax their policy on this occasion proving their practice was not writ in stone - what on earth can be wrong with that?
Personally, while I can see the reasons for running a non-accompaniment club I was moved by both the club organisers willingness to compromise and by Christie's decision.
Jim Carroll


04 Jul 11 - 03:05 PM (#3181377)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: dick greenhaus

" But I must confess that when I listen to Phil Tanner's Henry Martin alongside Sam Larner's Lofty Tall Ship - so different, yet so clearly the same"
You nailed it, Brian. The purist is the one too whom the sameness is clear.


04 Jul 11 - 04:40 PM (#3181429)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Jim ,they are excluding people, that is the problem.
just because a tradition was once some particular thing, e g unaccompanied, it does not have to remain unchanged, that is similiar to preserving something and not allowing it to alter, a healthy tradition can accept change and evolve.
yes, they are imposing it upon others they are preventing singers, and excluding singers from performing with accompanying instruments.
I have no problem if I am asked to do a night of unaccompanied singing in a singers club, but I dislike seeing good singers who wish to accompany their songs being told they cant use a guitar, as one irishman said to me recently, when told just this, in a singers club"Ihad enough of that sort of thing from the Christian brothers, telling us what we should and should not do"


04 Jul 11 - 05:28 PM (#3181457)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: JohnH

Provided that the song rules and tells the accompaniment what to do, rather than the meaning of the words being hidden by a fixed rhythm then do as you will! (But point to a source if you can so that others can do their own interpretation!)


04 Jul 11 - 05:32 PM (#3181460)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

I don't think you will change Jim's mind. It is his privilege to see the tradition in the way that he does.

Doubtless, he has learned much from all his years in folk music - he has his story to tell.

Just be as true to yourself as an artist as you can GSS. performing how we want and what we want, and thinking our thoughts about the nature of folkmusic is our privilege.


04 Jul 11 - 06:36 PM (#3181484)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon

no Jim, its not that i dont like it, as i said I do like unaccompanied singing, but rules like that it exclude.
I understand why they have that rule, I am aware of at least two clubs that have that rule, I tell you why i think it is amistake.
1. it is exclusive.


So is just having singing. They could have tunes too.

So are the sessions I go to. One is pretty strict on no songs and only allows tunes you'd find in an Irish repertoire.

We could have everything as a free for all and anything goes but I believe the scene (in my case UK) would be weaker and poorer for it.

There is plenty of room for people to go to more general and more specialised events or perhaps do both - you don't have to be one or other. It's not hard to find what suits you best out the events available to you and there is always the possibility of starting something else should nothing fit the bill.

The only way I can see a problem is if people were going around insisting that every event operated in the same way. This is something I've never encountered.


04 Jul 11 - 08:04 PM (#3181518)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: ripov

I don't know that there are more generalised events. Sessions at any rate tend to be advertised as Irish, English, French, Swedish, whatever. Most are flexible to some extent over nationality of the music, especially with visitors or inexperienced players, who may well have learnt a tune and have no idea of its provenance. Irish sessions do tend to be a little stricter!
Our English session is "English till 11 o'clock" after which anything goes.
And in a pub you can't expect your "audience" to be purists in this respect, they may not even like the music, so it's always good for public relations to play requests if you can (although you might want to leave songs like the (London) derriere till later in the evening!).


04 Jul 11 - 08:41 PM (#3181526)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon

I don't know that there are more generalised events.

Norwich at least had a session that was pretty much anything goes, the folk club says of itself it uses a broad definition of folk and the monthly move round the room events I could get to in North Norfolk are happy with tunes as well as songs and again broad in terms of "what is folk".

Our English session is "English till 11 o'clock" after which anything goes.

Half ten finish in the session pubs I get to - part of the music licence conditions.

I used to go to another one, a monthly Irish do. That mostly had Irish tunes until about 11 but broadened out with more songs and other tunes as the night progressed and I think as fingers became less able to get round the notes. That could go on to at least 2.30am - it got too much of a good thing for me. Most of the tune players in that one were the same people as in the "strict" session I mentioned before.

One that I sometimes toy with around Cromer that might be in with half a chance would be beginner friendly (but not a slow everything down) and mostly session tunes (English. Irish, whatever) with the occasional song thrown in rather than take it in turns and mostly songs ones. But I never seem to get round to talking to others and trying to find out if it might work. The closest to that I know of is one in Coltishal which I believe has the approx first hour as a tune session before changing format to songs. I've yet to get to that one though.


05 Jul 11 - 02:17 AM (#3181597)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"It is his privilege to see the tradition in the way that he does."
It is everybody's privelege to see the tradition as they do.
It is not everybody's right to distort and misrepresent the views of others, not without challenge anyway.
Those who do so are guilty of exactly what they accuse others of doing.
"thinking our thoughts about the nature of folkmusic is our privilege"
And sharing those thoughts with others is a pleasure when it is done honestly and sincerely.
"they are excluding people, that is the problem."
Anybody who attempts to present a specific music in a thought-out specific way excludes somebody - club nights, sessions, concerts of jazz, hip-hop - heavy metal - blues - classical.... are all events organised by people who wish to present music in the manner they feel best suits it - they are not juke boxes where you stick your coin in the slot and get whatever music you choose performed in a way you choose - they are entitled to do it their way.
You don't like the way they do it, don't go.
You want something different, go and find it in a club that caters to your tastes.
Last night we had a bunch of wonderful fiddlers playing traditional music in a traditional manner to a capacity audience with standing room only and a knot of people straining to listen from outside the door - half the players were in their teens or early twenties.
The last folk club I went to in London, I sat with around a dozen others, in a freezing cold pub room, with the sound of piped music drifting up from the bar, listening to somebody stumbling her way though Danny Boy from a crib-sheet and still having to be prompted by a member of the audience.
Eeny-meeny-miny-mo.
Jim Carroll


05 Jul 11 - 04:45 AM (#3181646)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

Dick, that is an extraordinary statement. Would you say the same for example of Nic Jones' Sir Patrick Spens and June Tabor's? Or are you using a subtle irony to criticise those who use "purist" as a catch-all (well, catch-many) term of abuse?

However, and despite Brian Peter's well informed and well put illustrations, I wonder if this thread was really about "what is folk?" - rather it is (I infer) about those who say that some things should only be done in certain ways. Now many will call me a purist because I like the word "folk" to have a meaning, I think that precisely because it is "folk" it will and may properly (that is to say, without ceasing to be folk) be done in different ways, in different forms, with different melodies and different texts. It seems to me that it is legitimate for those who wish to hear "traditional British folk song" sung unaccompanied to do so - and even to say that those who wish to join their club must do the same. Equally it is legitimate for those who believe that British folk song is unharmonised to eschew (and to say that their club eschews) harmony - but listening to the Young Tradition and to most shanty crews (not all) who sing harmony (which Hugill said IIRC was only native to West Indian and African crews) I believe that the unison singers are missing out on the sexiest thing in folk song. Again, I hate pianos in folk song - but the driving percussive piano on June Tabor's Hughie Graeme drives it along and makes it the tour-de-force that it is.

It would seem then that those who howl the insult "purist" at others have a wide range of targets - those who believe that the word "folk" has meaning, those who would restrict "folk" to certain styles only, those who alter texts (surely something that must have consciously been done since time immemorial). Any more for any more?

Would someone who criticises others for being "purists" like to tell us what they mean?


05 Jul 11 - 04:52 AM (#3181648)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Our session is an equitable, jump in when you like but don't over do it; 100% trad tunes, songs, ballads, but when it begins to get too sessiony (a surfeit of diddledee) then the singers become more vociferous and it begins to kick off. Mostly accompanied singing, but for something bit special (sean-nos) then unnacompanied does just fine. Sometimes an unnacompanied singer will find themselves accompanied by the company, but with such grace and subtlety that they never complain; on the contrary, they consider it an honour.

In 35 years I've never been happier with a Folk Club for so long - 3 years and counting...


05 Jul 11 - 05:07 AM (#3181651)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

That's nice if you can achieve it.


05 Jul 11 - 05:14 AM (#3181654)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Nice indeed - to be sure in 35 years it's the closest I've come to an ideal I've been dreaming of all that time. We stumbled across it by chance and 3 years later it's eclipsed all the other clubs we've been involved with of late. It's that perfect mix of equity, quality and consistency - and the pub's unique too. The other week at around 1am the landlord was pulling teeth for one of his dentist-shy regulars using Talisker as a mouthwash... In such wild places doth true folk reside!


05 Jul 11 - 05:18 AM (#3181656)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

'Would someone who criticises others for being "purists" like to tell us what they mean?'

No, not really. Why should anyone have to justify how they feel? And supposing you do win all the arguments - what does that prove only that you'd be good at having arguments.

Its a matter of sensuality. How do you know that you're gay, or straight? You know about it the way because of the way you feel. Jim knows about the folkmusic that he likes, because of the way it makes him feel.

Personally I see a room full of fiddlers, and mentally I reach for the machine gun. Slow airs, jigs and reels, frowns of concentration, rhythm sections floundering about for the key at every change of direction, conspiratorial smirks of happiness (ho! ho! - gave the rhythm section the slip that time!) from fiddler to fiddler after every identical tune.

Give me Danny Boy and the cribsheet, every time. Everyone to his goat, as the french say. Something like that anyway!


05 Jul 11 - 05:40 AM (#3181662)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

so different, yet so clearly the same

Just a thought, but it's obvious to spot the differences between two disparate versions of the 'same song', but what about the versions that immediately preceded it? or yet came after? What about the next time the song was sung by the same singer? I've got examples of Davie Stewart doing this, but a more immediate example is the two versions of Green Wood Side sung by Mrs Pearl Brewer on the Max Hunter Archive. The creative process of singing means they're both very different, or is it the random factors of memory? Either way, whilst both versions are complete & wondrous in and of themselves, they are, in another sense, only part of a wider condition of change and adaptation as the songs live (and are lived with) before being passed on.


05 Jul 11 - 06:17 AM (#3181672)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters

"what about the versions that immediately preceded it? or yet came after? What about the next time the song was sung by the same singer?"

You're right, there, I can think of instances where the same singer sang a song significantly differently from one performance to the next. And, according to accounts of live performances back in the day, Sam Larner seems to have had an almost improvisational approach to the melody of Lofty Tall Ship.

And, going back a few posts...
[BP] Which were the 'Folk Terms'? And why the capitals?
"'Unselfconsciously in three or more different musical modes' seems to fit the bill... It only becomes unselfconscious when you apply an academic terminology to the material which would have been completely alien to the original singers."


My use of 'unselfconsciously' was intended solely to exclude self-conscious modal manipulations of the kind that musicians might like to execute to show how clever they are. That you choose to interpret it through your usual prism of 'folk revival condescension' says more about your agenda than it does about mine.

My terminology would of course have been alien to the original singers (although it serves its purpose here well enough), but from Jim Carroll's account of Walter Pardon working out song melodies on his melodeon it's clear that here was one traditional singer with a good ear for the modes.

"I know the differences and variations, just I can't possibly see how it could possibly be any different. Can you?"

Differences and variations are exactly what I'd expect, given an understanding of 'folk process'. I'm still surprised by the beauty and drama of the results, though. Like Marina Russell's Well Met, Well Met - stunning.

"Folkies call The Tradition consists of so many isolated specimens suspended in formaldehyde"

Here we go again, the old cliche about 'formaldehyde'. Makes a change from 'aspic' I suppose...

"A collected song is not a living entity, it is only an imperfect record of how such-and-such might have sung it on that particular occasion. One one hand we talk of Fluidity, on the other hand that Fluidity is measured by comparing collected non-Fluid versions assumed to be definitive in and of themselves."

Snapshots is exactly what they are. No-one said otherwise. No-one said that each version is definitve; quite the opposite: there is no definitive version. That's the whole point.

Liked the Magma clip. I still have that soundtrack here somewhere.


05 Jul 11 - 06:18 AM (#3181673)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Rob Naylor

Ripov: I don't know that there are more generalised events. Sessions at any rate tend to be advertised as Irish, English, French, Swedish, whatever.

Huh?

I go to several sessions/ singarounds and NONE of them are advertised as either prescriptive or proscriptive.

The most "tuney" one that I've recently started to go to is more tunes than songs, but songs are still sung, and the repertoire, although encompassing a lot of traditional music (from all over the place....any part of the UK, the USA, various "mainland" European countries, etc) is also open to newer stuff.

At the club I went to last night (actually one of the more "traddy" venues I go to) the MC was careful to mix up unaccompanied and accompanied floor singers and the odd tune, while the main guest artists did songs and tunes from Scotland, Ireland, England, USA and Italy on an array of instruments which included some very traditional ones along with the ubiquitous guitar.

I think 3 hours listening to *only* unaccompanied ballads, or to *only* "tunes from the Irish repertoire" would turn a lot more people off than it would attract.

The *lack* of proscription in this neck of the woods might help to explain why my Monday nights are so difficult, with a choice of at least 3 and sometimes FIVE different venues to attend within 30 minutes of my home, according to which fortnightly ones are "in phase" with the weeklies on any particular week. And also why I have a choice of 3 venues on some Thursdays, and 3 venues on some Sundays.


05 Jul 11 - 08:01 AM (#3181724)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I agree with most of that, if not all, but 'folmaldehyde' is better than aspic in this context - the latter is culinary, the former is scientific! I'm not being disparaging here, BTW (Folk is, after all, my Mother) just aware of the inexactitudes of Folk as an academic displine; Folklore likewise. Did I read once that Percy Grainger had his doubts about modes? Or was that someone else? Can't even remember where I read it now...

Liked the Magma clip. I still have that soundtrack here somewhere.

In my youth I was a great fan of medieval films - Polanski's Macbeth, the Seventh Seal, Monty Python and the Holy Grail et al - but all we ever had of Tristan et Iseult was the tantalising shot on the back cover of the soundtrack album around which to imagine what an amazing film it just had to be. With a soundtrack like that (Vander's finest work?) how could it be anything but? Then YouTube comes along and you get the truth of it! I think they blew the budget on the helmets... then used a cut up studio demo of Wurdah Itah as the soundtrack. I had the demo session once in its glorious lo-fi totality but I can't find it right now. It has echoes in Theusz Hamtaahk - my favourite version of which was broadcast by the BBC in 1974; towards the end (after an unrelenting 30 minute onslaught) is a sublime sequence in which you can hear Vander quoting Minnie Riperton's iconic Loving You clear as day... However, the session was recorded in March 1974; Ripperton's Perfect Angel album wasn't released until the June - so, something going on there, not sure what: blame it on the Zeitgeist, especially as the following year Vander would begin toying with the disco / soul elements that came to - er - define their late 70s / 80s work.


05 Jul 11 - 09:18 AM (#3181749)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters

"I think they blew the budget on the helmets..."

Indeed... aren't they impressive!

Briefly, since we're way off topic: Magma at Oxford Poly in 1975 stands out in my memory as possibly the most intense rock gig I've ever witnessed. Scary!


05 Jul 11 - 10:08 AM (#3181789)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

so purists do exist, and they wish to exclude any singers who wish to accompany themselves with an instrument.
for the record the singer who complained about being prevented singin with his guitar, is a very good semi pro singer who is gigging most weekends.


05 Jul 11 - 10:24 AM (#3181797)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

yes of course, nasty people do exist. And they've always got terrific reasons for being nasty. John Wayne made a career out of those roles - the old sweat who kicks everyone else either downstairs or into shape.

But they're not the whole story - or even a big part of the story. As Christopher Robin said to Pooh, Most people are all right......

Now i suppose some bugger will say something nasty and prove me wrong. But i really believe it. Most people are all right. And the few self appointed dirty dogs.....well it gives us nice people a chance to be dramatically different. You do see awful acts of exclusion and cruelty in this music. You just have to shrug your shoulders and realise (as Hyman Roth said in Godfather 2) this is the business we have chosen to be in. Just feel sorry for the victims and the perpetrators, and get on as best and as kindly as you can manage. Anything else is just a waste of energy.


05 Jul 11 - 10:24 AM (#3181798)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Never saw them, alas; I only started going to gigs in 75, and Magma didn't come close to Newcastle at that time, though my brother saw them the year before with the classic sextet of Vander / Blasquiz / Topp / Grallier / Olmos / Bikialo (as on the BBC sessions + Stella). Talk about purism though, I know Magma fans who regard this as the Classic line-up and reject pretty much anything they did after that. For sure it blurs into all manner of fusions and commercial uncertainties thereafter but I couldn't quite imagine life without the outrageous Kobaian discofever of Retrovision and their 2004 album Kohntarkosz Anteria is a belter. Interesting to read of Gong's relationship to Magma in the second volume of Daevid Allen's autobiographical Gong Dreaming; for sure, in a 1971 French TV clip he calls Kobaia the planet of paranoia...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LT1In20u3jc


05 Jul 11 - 10:38 AM (#3181802)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters

As Christopher Robin said to Pooh, Most people are all right......

I'm with CR on that one.

Great Gong clip - slight irony in finding it on a 'Folk Purists' thread...


05 Jul 11 - 01:29 PM (#3181917)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

Yes, purists exist. And they are not a problem. The problem is the people who set themselves up as the vocal guardians of some snapshot point in a tradition that doesn't need guarding. There's a big difference between them and a purist, even though they are usually claiming to be guarding the purity of the tradition. Often one of the biggest differences is that the guardian doesn't really have a very good grasp of the nature of the tradition.

A purist is someone who likes some particular type of music played in some particular way. That shouldn't bother anyone, even if they extend their tastes to a club that they organize. I don't expect to be hired to play Swedish dance tunes at a vocal only club, just as I don't expect to be hired to play them at a jazz club.

A jerk is someone who wants to vocally guard a tradition by telling other people, at inappropriate times, that they are doing something wrong.

A jerk of this type may be a purist, but a real purist is only rarely a jerk.


05 Jul 11 - 01:33 PM (#3181918)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"so purists do exist, and they wish to exclude any singers who wish to accompany themselves with an instrument."

Yes, and I've heard that they're sometimes mean to puppies and tiny kittens as well!! Outrageous!


05 Jul 11 - 01:40 PM (#3181923)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

'Yes, and I've heard that they're sometimes mean to puppies and tiny kittens as well!! Outrageous!'

Ah! my favourite sandwich!


05 Jul 11 - 01:43 PM (#3181926)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon

"so purists do exist, and they wish to exclude any singers who wish to accompany themselves with an instrument."

You should see them down the karaoke. Not only won't they let you play your instruments, you have sing to their backing tracks.


05 Jul 11 - 02:58 PM (#3181963)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"so purists do exist, and they wish to exclude any singers who wish to accompany themselves with an instrument."
Not necessarily Cap'n - in my experience the ones that did it, certainly over the last thirty years, did it to discourage Bob Dylan wannabes, simply because that was not the type of song they wanted to be known for.
I've seen the opposite reaction from anything goes clubs when somebody gets up and sings a long ballad - it wasn't what their audiences were used to - simple as that.
There were clubs in England that actively discouraged instumental accompaniments, but I have never seen one of these for at least thirty years.
I was more than happy to listen to songs accompanied by Peggy Seeger or John Faulkner, or Sandra Kerr or Jack Warshaw, just as I was happy to listen to contemporary songs made in traditional styles.
None of this has anything to do with "purism", rather it is attempting to present a certain type/style of song to an audience who has come to expect such songs.
What do you suggest be done to discourage the wannabe Dylans (or Walthamstow cowboys, as I have heard them referred to) - audition them beforehand, or should they, as some clubs did, throw open your club to anybody who wants to sing, whatever the type of song?
I'm afraid your argument appears to be based on the latter idea, which yo seem to be putting forward as a singer/instrumentalist, maybe out of self-interest.
Jim Carroll


05 Jul 11 - 03:02 PM (#3181969)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

so purists do exist, and they wish to exclude any singers who wish to accompany themselves with an instrument.

Nobody said that but you. That sentence, without any qualifiers, is incorrect. Some people start clubs that are devoted to one type of music. Anything goes anywhere else.

>i>for the record the singer who complained about being prevented singin with his guitar, is a very good semi pro singer who is gigging most weekends.

Three things:
1. If he's gigging every weekend, no "purist" has impacted his ability to perform.
2. Maybe he should also complain about not getting into a hard rock club??
3. Jerks, as described in my post above, can also be those who want to tell others what to book in their club. Sort of anti-purist jerks.


05 Jul 11 - 05:47 PM (#3182055)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

I'm afraid your argument appears to be based on the latter idea, which yo seem to be putting forward as a singer/instrumentalist, maybe out of self-interest.
wonderful, but incorrect, these same clubs ask me to sing[as I pointed out earlier]they ask me to sing unaccompanied, ,I DONT HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THAT.
I was referring to a complaint from a performer[JOHNP please note and get your facts right, before you misquote] who was gigging MOST weekends, who said I have had enough of that sort of crap from the christian brothers, telling people what to do.
no, I tell you why I am concerned, and it has nothing to do with self interest.
when a tradition is weak and under threat, it makes up rules preventing people doing this or that to the music, accompanying songs with instruments, not allowing singing with instruments or playing certain competitions in harmony[see comhaltas].
A strong tradition allows innovation, is confident enough that it does not have to create rules, preventing people from doing certain things with the music, like accompanying.
john p [quote]
1. If he's gigging every weekend, no "purist" has impacted his ability to perform.
to the contrary they have, because when he turned up at the club, he was not allowed to sing with his guitar,and this particular singer sings better with a guitar than unaccompanied, so he felt his ability to sing a traditional song as well as he could was hindered.
I saw something similiar when a well respected singer songwriter, was booked at a singers club, his songs were clearly better with an accompaniment, and he was clearly capable of giving a better performance with a guitar, than being forced to sing unaccompanied clearly a style he was not familiar with.
how would unaccompanied singers feel, if they turned up at a club to be told that they had to do the gig accompanied, the whole thing is ridiculous, and that comes from someone who is as happy doing an evening of unaccompanied songs as an evening of accompanied.here are some exerts of my unaccompanied singing http://www.youtube.com/user/dickmilesmusic#p/u/61/nnHxwZb_Highttp://www.youtube.com/user/dickmilesmusic#p/u/62/pJhyDS_jd3I http://www.youtube.com/user/dickmilesmusic#p/u/76/UUoZkOw02uE

a strong tradition does not feel threatened and does not feel it has to impose rules.


05 Jul 11 - 06:07 PM (#3182059)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon

A strong tradition allows innovation, is confident enough that it does not have to create rules, preventing people from doing certain things with the music


But everything having to be open to everything would be enforcing a rule. Worse still, it would be setting a rule for all events rather than having each event free to set its own terms and have its own goals.

You would be reducing the diversity we have, not increasing it.


05 Jul 11 - 07:35 PM (#3182096)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

GSS, your last post is somewhat opaque. I really don't know what you're talking about. Where did the whole self interest thing come from? Why did you, apparently, think I was talking about you when you and I were both, I thought, talking about someone you know who was put off by being asked to sing without his guitar? Forgive me if I've misinterpreted your comments.

If a performer shows up at a club expecting to play the guitar and is told that he can't do so, then there was a dismal lack of communication when the gig was booked.

Of course a strong tradition doesn't need rules. Why, then, are you proposing (if I'm following you adequately) a rule that all clubs should program anything? Why have you not responded to the multiple comments that a folk singer with an acoustic guitar would also not get booked into a hard rock or jazz club?

I've been innovating with traditional music all my life. The only rule I've ever applied is that the music sound good. Most everyone I've ever played with has been doing the same. That still doesn't mean I should expect to get booked to play instruments in a singer-only club. Why would I want to?

Why are you quibbling about me accidentally substituting "every weekend" for "most weekends"? Was that really enough to cause you to accuse me of not getting my facts straight? Does that really have anything to do with the discussion? Did it materially change the meaning of your comments or mine?


05 Jul 11 - 08:31 PM (#3182108)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

'What do you suggest be done to discourage the wannabe Dylans ?'

Oh Jim.....that is so sad. If I had a kid who wanted to be like Bob Dylan - I would be SO proud of him.

More people listened to folk music - and listened to it more creatively because of Bob Dylan than anything else I have experienced in mmy lifetime.

How many people listened in the first place to his imaginative and wonderful re-workings of Franklin, Lord Randall, Nottanum Town, Scarborough Fair - all on the free wheeling album. Not to mention talking blues, cowboy song and jazz.

I don't what you've got going over in Ireland, but it seems to me if all you have is the wettest kids in the school lurching through fiddle tunes in a crude approximation of the Suzuki teaching method - YOU are in crisis. because you will not produce the artists with charisma that will excite anyone with a drop of haemoglobin still in their veins. It sounds to me like old men with not too much taste and not much intelligence with their foot on the throat of folk music.

James Joyce noted the phenomenon a hundred years ago - sounds to me like not too much has changed.


05 Jul 11 - 11:58 PM (#3182186)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

john p, read jim carrolls post. quote
I'm afraid your argument appears to be based on the latter idea, which yo seem to be putting forward as a singer/instrumentalist, maybe out of self-interest. quote
Jim Carroll
for god sake, john p read other peoples posts.
I repeat, no one in their right minds would say to an unaccompanied singer you must not sing unaccompanied songs in this club if you sing you must accompany yourself or put up with one of our residents accompanying you.neither would you say to a reciter of monologues or a storyteller you must accompany yourself with music
another important point is this, everyone that runs a club should be hoping that every performer will attempt to sing to their best capability, to say to a singer who is used to accompanying himself, and who performs best that way, that you have to sing unaccompanied, is preventing the singer from giving their best performance.


06 Jul 11 - 02:28 AM (#3182218)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

2Oh Jim.....that is so sad. If I had a kid who wanted to be like Bob Dylan "
Why - I'd be very proud if I had a kid who wanted to be like themself, no matter whose music they chose to play - wouldn't you?
People are entitled to listen to and perform any music they wish, good luck to them, but that does not mean you are going to adapt your own club policy to encourage them to do so - or are you against clubs that specialise in one particular type of music - no more jazz, blues, chamber music - just 'music clubs'?
Now that's sad.
I've no argument with anybody promoting any or all kinds of music - more power to them - but you also have to grant the right to anybody to specialise otherwise you have to stop giving your clubs descriptive names and making misleading claims.
My own musical tastes are fairly wide; jazz, blues, classical, light orchestral, swing, C&W (in moderation), but I have my dislikes as well, and if I am deprived of the right to choose what I want to listen to at clubs, I stop going, which is more or less what happened in the 1980s when we lost thousands of our clubs, specialist record labels, magazines, radio programmes, audiences...... and eventually our identity, and ended up with what we have now in Britain, a largely directionless mess.
I would certainly be proud that any child of mine took a serious, intelligent and active interest in any music, but I wouldn't want it to happen by conning them by telling them it was something it wasn't, or demanding that others did the same - I wouldn't want it be at the expense of others.
"More people listened to folk music......"
Did they?
I've heard the same claim made for the Spinners, The Clancys, The Dubliners, The Corries......
In my experience people may have started with any of these and moved on - I started at The Spinners club in the early 60s, and moved on.
You would deprive people of the right to make that move by not giving them anywhere to move on to.
Melting pot clubs might have their place, but, again from personal experience, it is a limited one and can be extremely restricting.
I could argue with your description of Dylan's music, but it's not what this discussion is about - but it's hard not to notice that even he got pissed off with it in the end and moved on - "It's all Over Now, Baby Blue" - as the man said.
Jim Carroll


06 Jul 11 - 04:37 AM (#3182257)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

If I had a child who wanted to be like Bob Dylan I'd suggest that they learned to sing and play. Oh, and have the honesty to credit sources.


06 Jul 11 - 05:10 AM (#3182267)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Nah! Don't worry Jim. Its my years as a inner city remedial teacher. Its left me psychologically damaged. I see anybody less than forty engaged in an activity that's not actually violent or anti social, and I want to encourage them.

Singing Dylan songs for any length of time would probably get on my tits too. It's just a leap forward from beating up people, recreational burglary, and TWOC-ing!


06 Jul 11 - 07:28 AM (#3182324)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

and ended up with what we have now in Britain, a largely directionless mess. quote
no I dont see the British folk club scene like that, The BFC scene offers performers a chance to perform and improve in a sympathetic acoustic listening environment, rather than wallpaper music.
It Encourages the singing of both accompanied and unaccompanied traditional[not just british] and contemporary folk and roots music. that is not directionless


06 Jul 11 - 07:06 PM (#3182688)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

It Encourages the singing of both accompanied and unaccompanied traditional[not just british] and contemporary folk and roots music. that is not directionless

I agree. There's room for, need for, and interest in venues that are for very specific types of folk music as well as venues that are broader in scope. Neither are, because of what they put on the stage, better or more important -- just different than each other.


07 Jul 11 - 03:01 AM (#3182876)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"There's room for, need for, and interest in venues that are for very specific types of folk music"
The term "folk" is in itself pretty specific, or at least, it was; it acted as an indicator to what we would find when we went to a folk club - it was the label on the tin.
It's when that ceased to be the case that the problems arose and we lost our audiences.
Sorry Cap'n; the folk scene is a directionless mess when we can't even discuss the subject without throwing the furniture about, and when we have to defend the music we listen to, sing, write about, archive..... from generalised nonsensical attacks like this one.
As worthy as that objective is, it has never been our job to provide an alternative to wallpaper music. If we have any 'grand objective' it is to present people with a specific type of music performed to a standard that they can enjoy.
Whether it is done accompanied or unaccompanied is entirely up to the people concerned, just as it is with a jazz band, a chamber orchestra or a rock group. Insisting on your own preferences is as bad as making claims that singers should no longer sing ballads because they are too long - as I have seen propose on this forum on a number of occasions.
As it happens, my own tastes are similar to your own; I would prefer a policy of using instruments to accompany songs, I was a member, organiser, and resident at a club in London which had some of the best accompanists on the scene, but that was our choice and nobody elses. The same club had an active policy of producing new songs, though we did attempt to see that they didn't diverge too far from traditional styles so our audiences knew what they were getting when they came through the door. We even held occasional songwriting competitions - John Pole won a first edition of Child for one of his.
While not being happy with the 'no instrument' policy that was adopted by some of the early clubs (I haven't seen it in the UK since the mid-sixties), I can understand the logic behind it.
I've witnessed on numerous occurrences singer songwriters turning up at clubs, giving their name at the door to sing, sitting at the bar until they were called to sing, then getting up and mumbling their way through a navel-gazing outpouring of angst - and then asking for a booking. The fact that they never got one was one of the reasons our club got a reputation as "purist".
It wasn't - we had an active policy of encouraging the use of accomaniment; our workshop at one time ran classes and we organised several public talks on accompaniment by IMO, some of the best accompanists on the scene.
We were a traditional-based club dedicated to presenting traditional and using those styles to produce new songs - but that was our choice and nobody elses - and that's the way it has to be - sorry.
As for "discouraging people" - you do that when you confine yourself to one type of music - and that's the way it has to be too - sorry again.
I'm rather taken with Steamin' Willie's idea of referring to himself as an "accoustic roots" performer - far more honest than calling yourself "folk" when you are not
Jim Carroll


07 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM (#3182897)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman

Jim,

So is there an approved list of newly written songs that "didn't diverge too far from traditional styles" or a specific definition of how these songs should be written available? (Clearly banning the word "I" and never looking at one's midriff would be important..... but anything else?)

Or even an "approved" list of songwriters who were OK?

I only ask as one of your constant criticisms is about the "folk" tag being diluted. It does sound as if your club may have contributed to this itself.

p.s. I have some sympathy with your point of view of the word "folk" meaning something but I think your own post demonstrates just how difficult this is to implement in practice.

Paul


07 Jul 11 - 04:16 AM (#3182909)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

I think Paul makes an interesting point.

"I'm rather taken with Steamin' Willie's idea of referring to himself as an "accoustic roots" performer"

Yes, I think that's a good definition (for me as well) although I might add "English" to make it even more specific.


07 Jul 11 - 06:15 AM (#3182963)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

who is the cyberspace poltergiest who is throwing the furniture about. the folk scene has[imo] a direction, that is as I described it before, most of the people who wish to use it as a vehicle to be a pop star leave it fairly soon , because it is a difficult way to make a living, but in the meantime it has enabled them to learn performing skills, I mean such people as barbara dickson, bob dylan, paul simon.
in some respects its rather like a football academy, with just a dedicaed few like myself who go on to be corinthian casuals


07 Jul 11 - 07:34 AM (#3183006)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards

banning the word "I"

Who's going to do all the roving out and eavesdropping on heartbroken young maids? Even the big ballads have passages in direct speech -
Oft have I ridden through Carlisle town in the wind both and the rain
But I never rode through Carlisle town never to return again


I think banning the word 'you' would be more to the point. One of the low points of my time at folk clubs was the headlining act who told a long story about how she'd had a row with her (now ex-)boyfriend, walked out & snapped the wing mirror off his car; this was by way of introducing a song, addressed to the ex-bf, about how she'd snapped the wing mirror off his car and she wasn't sorry.

Seriously, I'm not sure it's possible to define what "new songs in the tradition" would sound like. Apart from anything else, which tradition? Is the model "Little Musgrave", "Searching for lambs", "The Grand Conversation on Napoleon", "the Greenland Whale Fisheries" or "Glorious Ale" - or do we actually mean "new songs like other new songs which we've already accepted"?

I don't think we should close the door on new songs, mainly because I think deciding to shut anything out completely is the wrong approach - but also because some new songs do fit into a singaround, to put it no more objectively than that. I sang nothing but traditional songs for a long time, but recently I've been doing quite a few songs by MacColl, Lal Waterson & Peter Bellamy, not to mention Kipling/Bellamy. But I think the idea that revival & post-revival singers are keeping traditional song alive, or that the tradition is still being added to, is a bit of a mirage.


07 Jul 11 - 07:36 AM (#3183007)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards

Stirling town, even. Folk process innit.


07 Jul 11 - 07:51 AM (#3183013)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

But I think the idea that revival & post-revival singers are keeping traditional song alive, or that the tradition is still being added to, is a bit of a mirage.

Then what you need is an optimistic over-dose of Steamfolk to disavow you of such a potentially dispiriting notion, especially if you're singing from the Kipling/Bellamy Songbook which stands as vivid testimony to the purely Idiomatic vibracy of the thing. For healing therapy and communion with angels, try singing Bellamy's setting of The Anchor Song as loud & fast as you can and your soul shall be cleansed! Get it right, then do it in front of an audience and they'll be buying you pints all night.


07 Jul 11 - 08:02 AM (#3183015)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Meaning, of course that The Tradition is only a backwards projection of The Revival. It didn't exist before The Revival said it did, so whatever the Revival does therafter is BOUND to be a continuation of what they perceived to be The Tradition, rather than just a bunch of old songs. Meanwhile, most other Folk / Popular Musical Idioms of 100+ years ago morphed into the living forms we know and love today (rock / pop / r&b / du step / hip hop / drum and bass / C&W etc etc). One wonders how the Old Modal Song & Ballad Idioms might have fared had they not been so favoured by the Colonial Revival, or if The Revival had never happened...

Personally, I'm glad it did; I'm Folk and I'm Proud - and, for the most part, I'm Out...


07 Jul 11 - 08:24 AM (#3183028)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters

The Tradition is only a backwards projection of The Revival. It didn't exist before The Revival said it did

[mimes cranking motion with right arm]
We were here only yesterday, but since this wild statement has surfaced again on this thread, could you now clarify what you would call the domestic, participatory singing culture, handed down through generations, that existed before the Revival did, and why the word 'tradition' is inappropriate to describe 'that which is handed down'. Or do you just mean it in the sense that a cat is not a cat until somebody calls it 'a cat'?

One wonders how the Old Modal Song & Ballad Idioms might have fared had they not been so favoured by the Colonial Revival, or if The Revival had never happened

I'm not sure what 'the Colonial Revival' is (I presume you've invented the term) but I guess they would have gradually died out in England over the course of the 20th century as the singing tradition itself died out, but possibly have lasted better in the Appalachian mountains (although Sharp's collection casts a long shadow over there too). Others can speak for Ireland and Scotland.


07 Jul 11 - 08:34 AM (#3183034)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

All traditions are retrospective, aren't they? It goes from single action to repeated action to way of life to tradition. I like the verse in Beating the Bounds from Jon Boden's Songs From the Flood Plain (a definitive post-Steamfolk masterpiece):

Dressed up in our Sunday best
Canon Davis leads the rest
Like last year and the year before
Who remembers what it's for?


07 Jul 11 - 08:36 AM (#3183035)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

er..... or should that be "neo-Steampunk"?


07 Jul 11 - 09:29 AM (#3183058)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Colin Holt

I've followed this thread itching at intervals to put finger to key but feeling very unqualified to enter such a debate. However one thing strikes me...

Jim

You state that your club was never "purist"
Yet.....
You confined yourself to one type of music
Discouraged people who didn't conform
Encouraged the production of new songs as long as they didn't "diverge too far from traditional styles "??.. whatever that means...

This kind of stuff basically confirms what I really already knew, that I'm really not a folk person.


07 Jul 11 - 09:40 AM (#3183064)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

could you now clarify what you would call the domestic, participatory singing culture, handed down through generations,

It's just music, Brian - what human beings have always done through the generations. To pull it apart and favour one type of song over another all and call it The Tradition is divisive and inaccurate. The condition of Human Music Making is always far bigger than that - it is now, and it always has been. Exhibit A:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sn2UTXDIDCA

I'm not sure what 'the Colonial Revival' is (I presume you've invented the term)

Maybe I did, but I'm thinking of English speaking former colonies (Australia / America) where the old songs took root and thrived and morphed along with pretty much everything else. I'm also thinking of an inner sort of colonialism too, implicit in the paternalism of the revival and its well-heeled origins.

*

post-Steamfolk

What? Already? I only thought of it on Saturday...

er..... or should that be "neo-Steampunk"?

Neo-post-revival-Steamfolk sounds about right to me. I've always loved the idea of Post-Revival Folk - and hope that a new breed of rigorous academics are poised to begin collecting what happens now in The Name O' Folk and putting it into cryogenic storage for another projected Golden Age, say maybe 1,000 years hence when it'll burst forth its pristine magnificence and Folk Purity to educate our unenlightened descendents on how to things right. Maybe a new breed of Folk Missionaries will emerge to take Folk to other planets, then on Mudcat circa 3,011 AD we'll be seeing threads like How can we convert the Zaarghans of Planet Zaargh X to Folk? For sure, if they do have their own musical traditions, they'll be of little interest to deaf-assed future folkies (who'll have evolved so that they only hear Folk Music) though hopefully some of those sexy Zaarghan dance-beat stars will make it onto the cover of Froots, which by that time will be purely telepathic.


07 Jul 11 - 09:50 AM (#3183068)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

"What? Already? I only thought of it on Saturday..."

Of course - it's the steam-powered folk process - much faster than the traditional way (watch out for the neo-Luddites!)


07 Jul 11 - 10:06 AM (#3183074)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters

"Like last year and the year before
Who remembers what it's for?"


Yes, as in: "It's just what we do", as someone else (possibly the Coppers) said of singing their old songs.

"It's just music, Brian - what human beings have always done through the generations. To pull it apart and favour one type of song over another all and call it The Tradition is divisive and inaccurate."

As I was trying to say before, 'traditional' means 'handed down', not 'one type of song'. In those endless 'what is folk?' threads we've surely established that any kind of song can be 'traditional', at least in theory. If songs of a certain era - mostly created between say 1700-ish and 1850-ish - form a large part of the traditional repertoire, that's because the conditions for active singing and generational transmission declined as mass entertainment grew in availability. As I'm about to post on your 'Steampunk' thread (I'll be brief, honest), there's a huge difference between sharing home-made music and receiving music from elsewhere.

Exhibit A was very enjoyable, but already I knew that Jane Turriff had a liking for Jimmie Rodgers (I was lucky enough to hear her, once). No reason at all she shouldn't want to sing his songs, just like Jeff Wesely fancied singing 'Ninety-Nine and Ninety' after hearing it through the folk revival. How does that affect the argument?


07 Jul 11 - 10:30 AM (#3183089)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

In those endless 'what is folk?' threads we've surely established that any kind of song can be 'traditional', at least in theory.

Indeed, just as all of them can be said be traditional, if not directly in an of themselves (though I might argue otherwise) then as products of any given music Idiom with is Traditional by default, just as people write new songs in Idioms old & new today, and new session tunes, or the Tradition of Northumbrian Pipe Music in wich composition played a huge part and continues to do so today.

How does that affect the argument?

Less of an argument - more of a celebration. People are more important than the music they play. One wonders how much of The Tradition was shaped by the selective agendas of the revivalists - one does, after all, hear such tales...

Enough. I'm verging on heresy here which is never a good thing on open forum.


07 Jul 11 - 11:28 AM (#3183119)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

"Yes, as in: "It's just what we do", as someone else (possibly the Coppers) said of singing their old songs."

Gordon bloody Bennett, here we go again. Do you know how bored shitless I am with the fucking sainted Coppers. I'd rather eat my own liver than listen to half an hour of the Coppers. Yeah, I come from a family of farm workers. My grandfather was a ploughboy at 12 but he spent his whole life reading and learning, improving his mind and helping people as a magistrate, chairman of the council, churchwarden, chairman of the watch committe and dozens of other things including serving in two world wars. He was a modest, quiet man who didn't say much but I tell you what, I'd much rather listen to him talk than listen to the bloody Coppers.

So much for trying to add a bit of light-hearted banter.


07 Jul 11 - 11:47 AM (#3183130)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: goatfell

yes they do you'll find them on this website


07 Jul 11 - 12:29 PM (#3183159)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

Guest, Colin Holt wrote:

"Jim

You state that your club was never "purist"
Yet.....
You confined yourself to one type of music
Discouraged people who didn't conform
Encouraged the production of new songs as long as they didn't "diverge too far from traditional styles "??.. whatever that means..."

I can't see anything wrong with any of that - it's just a specification for a particular type of music club - in this case a folk club. I'm sure that one could write a similar specification for a jazz club - and, of course, no-one would object or even raise an eyebrow.

As for new songs which don't diverge too far from traditional styles - of course I can't speak for Jim but I would expect such a song to be inspired by tradtional songs and not by modern, commercial pop/rock songs.


07 Jul 11 - 12:40 PM (#3183167)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters

Gordon bloody Bennett, here we go again. Do you know how bored shitless I am...
So much for trying to add a bit of light-hearted banter.


So much for trying to add a sympathetic comment to the verse you quoted.

The Coppers are (in Bob's case, were) unpretentious, modest and very affable people and don't deserve that kind of diatribe.

I'm out.


07 Jul 11 - 12:41 PM (#3183168)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I'll repost that so it at least makes grammatical sense (I'm writing on a taptop with a new keyboard balanced over the old which went on the fritz. Haven't figured out a way disabling it altogether so things can a bit muddled up.)

*

In those endless 'what is folk?' threads we've surely established that any kind of song can be 'traditional', at least in theory.

Indeed, just as all of them can be said be traditional, if not directly in an of themselves (though I might argue otherwise) then as products of any given musical Idiom which is Traditional by default, just as people write new songs in Idioms old & new today -be it new session tunes, or the Tradition of Northumbrian Pipe Music in which composition played a huge part and continues to do so today.

How does that affect the argument?

Less of an argument - more of a celebration. People are more important than the music they play. One wonders how much of The Tradition was shaped by the selective agendas of the revivalists - one does, after all, hear such tales.*

Enough. I'm verging on heresy here which is never a good thing on open forum.

*

To which I'll add that the breadth of repertoir of any given Traditional Singer / Storyteller - Jane Turriff or whoever - is more interesting than its degree of purity, which is what most interested Folk collectors who had very definite ideas about the sort of thing they were looking for.


07 Jul 11 - 01:28 PM (#3183199)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST

"As for new songs which don't diverge too far from traditional styles - of course I can't speak for Jim but I would expect such a song to be inspired by tradtional songs and not by modern, commercial pop/rock songs."

So that's a style thing then. I thought any style of song could be "folk", as long as it had gone through the process? I'm getting more confused than ever now!

I'm not against any club setting rules about what can & can't happen within it's own 4 walls (amongst consenting adults, obviously), but there is no objectivity here, it's all just a matter of taste.

To say "such a song to be inspired by tradtional songs and not by modern, commercial pop/rock" is really just another way of saying it has to be something "I" like.

And that's fine, but a bit of honesty about this would be refreshing.


07 Jul 11 - 01:32 PM (#3183203)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"You confined yourself to one type of music"
Of course we did - shouldn't all folk clubs, jazz clubs, Irish music sessions.... confine themselves to what they claim to be?
The music we presented was varied enough to be interesting and to draw in regular and sizeable audience for the period of its existance - our guest included English, Irish, Scots, American, Bengali, Italian.... any music which we felt fitted our job description.
We used the tradition as a base for what we did - as did most of the clubs right up to the eighties.
Unlike a few of them, we included accompanied songs and newly composed songs in a certain style - as did most clubs right up to the eighties.
We were a policy club which had a clear enough idea of what folk music was, if not by definition "we recognised it when we heard it", as did most of the clubs right up to the eighties
We didn't include "talking horse/snigger snogwriter" singers among our guests or residents and if they came looking for bookings we expected them to take the trouble to find out what kind of club we were to make sure our audiences would appreciate what they did - for their benefit as well as ours.
We were a folk club; we presented folk songs and our audiences turned up to hear what we put on in large enough numbers to make what we did worthwhile.
We certainly didn't dicourage anybody who didn't conform - we encouraged them to do it somewhere else.
Can I assume from your rections that if somebody came along hauling a Steinway and asking to be given a booking for his performances of Rachmaninov, you'd all be dragging out your booking forms and begging him to sign on the dotted line - if not, why not?
Shimrod's last line sums it up far more economically than I could.
"I would expect such a song to be inspired by tradtional songs and not by modern, commercial pop/rock songs."
We were a FOLK CLUB; we believed we knew what folk music was (still do) and if ever we were ever in doubt we could drag a book off the shelf and double-check, or compare what we did with recordings of Walter Pardon or Belle Stewart or Joe Heaney or Kali Das Gupta or Willie Scott or - or - or.... or any of the many hundreds of singers who sang what we believe to be folk song.
When clubs stopped honouring their committment to the audiences and took away their right to choose what music they wished to listen to, that's when the audiences, media presence, literature, specialist shops and record companies... everything we had worked to achieve, disappeared like a puff of smoke.
Can I also presume that if you object to what we did, you also disgree with companies like Topic, Free Reed, Folkways, Argo, Blackthorn... were also doing? More or less the same as we were as I remember.
If anybody can offer an alternative "folk music" to the one we were presenting - please feel free to do so - nobody has so far.
Jim Carroll   
PS I must apologise for my delay in replying - got trapped in a session full of young pipers, most of them in their teens, playing music that would stand yor hair on end - do you have any message to pass on regarding what they should be doing rather than wasting their time playing purist crap?


07 Jul 11 - 01:46 PM (#3183220)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I thought any style of song could be "folk", as long as it had gone through the process?

Trouble is, Guest - no one can say what The Process is, much less how it works; they can't even tell you what came first The Broadsides or the Oral Tradition (so-called). My feeling is The Process is largely folk myth; an article of a very uncertain faith - at least uncertain to those who aren't inclined to fundamentalism folk exclusivity in their musical world view. You can trace any amount of processes in Popular Song (etc.) but that doesn't make them Folk Songs. My feeling is Folk Songs are the specific product of particular musical tradition and style which is what the early collectors were looking for. They then had to justify that interest by according them an almost heremetic significance, but there's no mystery here, just a cultural idiom of song making & remaking in an largely working-class oral culture which may have preceded or succeeded the Broadsides, or been an integral part of it, depending who you talk to. The thoughts that the working-class could have created anything was a complete anathema to the early collectors, who came up with Folk to account for what is only common to all humanity after all. Unfortunately, the later Folk Left suffered from a similar fantasty of proletarian collectivism.

Now if that doesn't bring Brian back into this merry summer fray I don't know what will!


07 Jul 11 - 02:38 PM (#3183253)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander

Sub, lots of mudcatters have tried to explain what is meant by the heuristic term folk process (not Folk Process) and have given examples of how it works. Those of us who use this term know what we mean we use it. You have chosen repeatedly to muddy the waters with claims that 'all music is traditional'; 'all music is processed', etc., yet you yourself essentially understand what we mean when we use this term:

" . . . just a cultural idiom of song making & remaking in an largely working-class oral culture which may have preceded or succeeded the Broadsides."

Yes, a very different millieu than that in which classical music is composed and performed (for example), and one with parallels in many cultures. Blues is folk music, so are corridos, so are Appalachian mining songs. Plenty of other examples can be provided.

"The thoughts that the working-class could have created anything was a complete anathema to the early collectors, who came up with Folk to account for what is only common to all humanity after all."

This is quite a sweeping claim. Can you provide some specific examples? It would be helpful if you could name such a collector and cite his words on the subject.


07 Jul 11 - 02:55 PM (#3183263)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

THank you GG - I really do wish I'd said that.
Jim Carroll


07 Jul 11 - 02:58 PM (#3183266)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman

Sorry anonymous guest 4 above was me.


07 Jul 11 - 03:03 PM (#3183272)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,colin Holt

Shimrod wrote

"I can't see anything wrong with any of that - it's just a specification for a particular type of music club - in this case a folk club. I'm sure that one could write a similar specification for a jazz club - and, of course, no-one would object or even raise an eyebrow."

I agree totally . But within the overall discussion of clubs fading numbers and lack of interest ( which linked threads earlier, Such a Fine, (I would say Purist) approach/ specification could be perceived as... "specialist" .... read... "not accessible to the general public.".....read... don't bother going !!

Jim
You seem to have a thing about singer songwriters..turning up at clubs. you've referred to it many times. I was involved in folk clubs in the late 70's in Sheffield area. It was in this environment that I was really well supported through my early naive fumblings... (embarrassing looking back.).. However the artists I remember.playing at clubs around there at that time, Dave Burland and Hedgehog Pie, Martin Carter & Graham Jones, Squire & Jones, Rosie hardman, .. they were people I admired and were taking as much from the new, as the old.... Surely its a balance.

Finally Will someone explain what you mean by "A traditional style" ... !!! It remains a perplexing mystery to me !!!


07 Jul 11 - 03:06 PM (#3183276)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,colin holt

(Guest) Banji man... Now I know its you,!!!! sorry

I agree totally with your comments above


07 Jul 11 - 03:08 PM (#3183277)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST

Jim,

I'm interested in your blurring of the lines....... you have previously maintained that folk and trad are synonymous (1954 definition and all that)but your post above says that "We were a FOLK CLUB; we believed we knew what folk music was (still do)" but then you talk about the STYLE of the music and that (newly written) songs that matched this Folk style were also acceptable.

I think this is very interesting and highlights the problem of defining what music should and shouldn't be performed in a "FOLK" club and the club still doing "what it says on the tin". It makes it difficult to argue with the anything goes crowd, because just how far can those lines be blurred........


07 Jul 11 - 03:09 PM (#3183279)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman

ooops, that was me again.


07 Jul 11 - 03:11 PM (#3183282)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

To say "such a song to be inspired by tradtional songs and not by modern, commercial pop/rock" is really just another way of saying it has to be something "I" like.

Nope.

Spend a month listening to nothing but traditional folk music. Then spend a month listening to nothing but contemporary folk music. There are noticeable differences, which I'm not going to try to quantify since the gray areas are so huge.

Saying you're confused about the issue and then making a judgment that demonstrates a lack of knowledge doesn't sit very well. Perhaps you should get more educated before making a decision for yourself about what traditional folk music is.

WARNING --- WARNING --- WARNING
None of this has anything to do with what I like, or what anyone else likes. It doesn't in any way address issues of quality, importance, or relevance. It doesn't address what anyone should play. It's just saying that traditional music, for the most part, sounds different than modern music. It came to be through a different process and that process leaves its mark, whether or not anyone else can recognize it.

To me, a new song that is composed "in the tradition" should be created, both musically and lyrically, as the result of the composer's deep immersion in whatever tradition he or she is writing in (or by one who is very clever at picking up the essentials and reproducing them). Anyone who has listened to enough traditional folk can tell the difference.

Almost the most important thing is that the gray areas are huge and very subjective. But that doesn't mean that the lines aren't there somewhere.


07 Jul 11 - 03:19 PM (#3183290)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

More on what I like: I can enjoy an evening of listening to almost any kind of traditional folk music, from a wide variety of places and times. A whole evening of contemporary folk music, for the most part, leaves me cold, and in fact probably wouldn't happen. There seems to be a feeling here that I shouldn't draw distinctions between what I like and what I don't, and that I shouldn't have a club to go to that plays the kind of music I like. Why not?


07 Jul 11 - 03:20 PM (#3183294)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST

John P wrote
To me, a new song that is composed "in the tradition" should be created, both musically and lyrically, as the result of the composer's deep immersion in whatever tradition he or she is writing in (or by one who is very clever at picking up the essentials and reproducing them). Anyone who has listened to enough traditional folk can tell the difference.
Almost the most important thing is that the gray areas are huge and very subjective. But that doesn't mean that the lines aren't there somewhere.

Thanks ... that explains that then ...!!!

Now could someone translate that into working class English!!!!!!

And its good to know that anyone who knows their stuff about traditional folk can tell the difference ..


07 Jul 11 - 03:23 PM (#3183295)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass

For those of us who don't understand, musical analysis (as well as, but not exclusively, lyrical) of specific examples of contemporary songs which are deemed as fitting the remit of "in the traditional style" or "in the tradition", would be welcomed?


07 Jul 11 - 03:24 PM (#3183297)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman

John P.

I listen to a lot of trad songs...... and I listen to a lot contemporary folk (and other STYLE) songs.

What I hear is a continuum ...... I really can't see a sharp line that "defines" one from the other.

And that really is my point.

If you as obviously the expert (assuming I'm completely unlearned, as you gently point out), can't tell where the line is, what hope have I got? Yep, I'm confused again.

As for getting educated, that is what I'm trying to do here. But I'm struggling to grasp any key learnings from the insults you're throwing!


07 Jul 11 - 03:27 PM (#3183299)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,colin holt

Sorry the guest was me..

Banji man.. we must be on the same drink !!!


07 Jul 11 - 03:35 PM (#3183303)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

Colin, I'm sorry you are feeling insulted. I didn't intend it, and rather thought I didn't say anything as insulting as you saying that traditional music is defined by the tastes of the listener. But it's really not important. Without meaning to insult you, I really do think that education should come before judgment.

To learn the difference, I can only repeat what I said before: listen, listen, listen, listen. Then make your own decisions about what fits and what doesn't. Just don't try to tell me that there isn't a difference.


07 Jul 11 - 03:39 PM (#3183307)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman

"More on what I like: I can enjoy an evening of listening to almost any kind of traditional folk music, from a wide variety of places and times. A whole evening of contemporary folk music, for the most part, leaves me cold, and in fact probably wouldn't happen. There seems to be a feeling here that I shouldn't draw distinctions between what I like and what I don't, and that I shouldn't have a club to go to that plays the kind of music I like. Why not? "

That is certainly not what I said (or others from what I can see). I'm genuinely trying to understand the distinctions that yourself (and Jim) are trying to draw, so I can more accurately describe the folk/acoustic/roots events that I put on (and the kind of music that my wife play professionally) . This is so that I can attract an audience who will appreciate any particular night we pull together.

You're perceiving attack where there isn't any. But I still haven't seen any argument that persuades me that there is a clear stylistic line between trad/tradalike/contemporary folky style music. And the 1954 definition does not apply to STYLE does it...... so it's no good for describing to people what they are going to hear.


07 Jul 11 - 03:40 PM (#3183309)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"Spend a month listening to nothing but traditional folk music. Then spend a month listening to nothing but contemporary folk music."

Yep! Perhaps all those on here who keep on whining, "I don't understannnddd!!" need to put some work in. If you really don't understand listen to the recordings, read the books and think hard about what you've listened to and read. If at the end of that process you decide that you don't like folk music - fine - it's your choice. But don't expect an easy ride when you demand that folk music be jettisoned (because you don't like it) and be replaced by music that you do like!


07 Jul 11 - 03:43 PM (#3183310)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,colin holt

John

I'm really not insulted.. honestly.. I'm just trying to understand , as a singer songwriter waht a "traditional style" is . I;m afraid your explanation went right over my head.
As a music lover, with a pretty tight quality control in built, however, I can assure you that I do listen and listen and listen


07 Jul 11 - 03:52 PM (#3183317)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

Sorry, I can see that you're not trying to attack. There are, however, a fair number of people here who seem to be mocking or denigrating or refusing to believe there is or should be a difference.

Ah, style. It's not about the style of playing. A traditional song played by a rock band still sounds, to me, like a traditional song. A modern song played on a solo bagpipe still sounds modern. It is only about style if you're including the actual composition in the definition of style. And, maybe even more so, the lyrics.

Listen to Steeleye Span (not the stuff they wrote themselves - most of it doesn't sound particularly traditional to me) and then listen to U2. Can you hear the differences in the construction of the melodies and in the nature of and words used in the lyrics?

Listen to Martin Carthy's traditional material and then listen to Joni Mitchell. Can you hear the compositional and lyrical differences?

Where did the songs come from? That is probably the easiest way to draw a line if you need one. My own line is a mile wide and isn't black, but many shades of gray. Did the musician write the song or did they interpret a really old song? If they wrote the song, can they play it in a set of really old music without having it stick out like a sore thumb? That's a pretty simplistic difference, but it's a place to start.


07 Jul 11 - 03:52 PM (#3183318)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman

Jeeez,

Will the purists stop insisting I listen more! LoL.

I play and listen to far more folky music than is good for me, I still can't hear a sharp dividing line between trad/tradalike/contemporary. I just don't think it is there....... from a STYLE point of view. If you've got a sonic, lyrical or musical definition, try it on me.

BTW I love trad & tradalike and some contemporary folky stuff..... and I'm not telling anyone what they should or should not listen to.


07 Jul 11 - 04:00 PM (#3183324)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman

"My own line is a mile wide and isn't black, but many shades of gray"

I repeat, that is the point.

Of course I can hear the difference between an unaccompanied traditional ballad and say "The Bands Played Waltzing Matilda" (as a contemporary example) that's easy, they're extremes. But there is a whole lot of stuff in between these where drawing sharp distinctions as to the STYLE of the song is more difficult.


07 Jul 11 - 04:06 PM (#3183334)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

Banjiman, I'm really not a purist in any pure sense of the word. A REAL purist wouldn't like trad music played by a rock band ;^)

I can, however, tell the difference quite easily. And I got there by listening and playing. If that method doesn't work for you, I don't know what else to say. I guess I'm not the person to delineate it for you, other than to fall back on the process thing -- where did the song come from?

There is no sharp dividing line. There's stuff that's definitely in one place and stuff that's in another, and there's even more stuff that's somewhere in between. The real purists might well disagree with me about that, but I'm not really part of the whole academic/musicology side of things. Just a musician who knows what I like when I hear it.


07 Jul 11 - 04:27 PM (#3183348)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

for fucks sake, john p, iknow nothing about you,but i will tell you a little about myself and also banjiman.
i have been playing traditional music and american folk music for over 40 years , i have a websitehttp://www.dickmiles.com, i have been involved with running folk clubs too ., i have written 2 concertina tutors, and a song book
Banjiman plays the banjo runs a club and plays with his wife who is an excellent singer.
I cant speak for banjiman,
BUT I DONT LIKE TRAD MUSIC PLAYED BY A ROCK BAND , BUT I AM NOT A PURIST. you see i dont attempt to stop rockbands from playing trad music, neither do i say to unaccompanied singers you must accompany yourself.
in my opinion a purist is someone who runs a singers club and refuses to let singers accompany themselves, the sort of people who you have given your support to, the sort of people who enjoy telling others you cant do that there here.
so we even have different opinions as to what constitutes a purist


07 Jul 11 - 04:31 PM (#3183350)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

lots of mudcatters have tried to explain what is meant by the heuristic term folk process (not Folk Process) and have given examples of how it works. Those of us who use this term know what we mean we use it. You have chosen repeatedly to muddy the waters with claims that 'all music is traditional'; 'all music is processed', etc., yet you yourself essentially understand what we mean when we use this term:

All is music is traditional - the very term Traditional Music is essentially tautologous. And yes, I understand what YOU mean when you use this term - but I must point out that all music is the consequence of such cultural / musical process, what's so special about folk? The answer is simply one of folk faith. Tell you what, GG - by way of an example, show me one music that ISN'T Traditional.

Muddy the waters? Hell, I'm the one seeking some clarification here.

Can you provide some specific examples? It would be helpful if you could name such a collector and cite his words on the subject.

The very fact that Folk Song is seen as a collective product with the stress on The Anonymous and The Traditional is proof pure of this legacy. The very fact that The Revival has insisted upon a collective Folk Process to validate the authenticity of their desired is another. To reverse the old adage: Folk refuses to see the Trees for the Wood, and what trees it chooses to see are those rare and exalted specimens who are deemed worthy for the purity of the Folk aspects of their repertoirs, not the condition of their musical experience / creativity as a whole.

*

Can I just say to me Folk is Fun? The old songs, sessions, ballads and all sorts - we have a ball; we talk, we discuss, we play, we get pissed, we do gigs, festivals, we record, we collaborate, we have our Weekly Residency, and I regard discussions like this as all part of that. Folk is a Ball. 35 years and counting...


07 Jul 11 - 04:55 PM (#3183370)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Surely you perform what turns you on and what you believe is worth passing on. If you do it well enough you can only hope that you get an audience for it, but you can't guarantee that.
You certainly don't say 'nope, that's not working; let's try something else.
I believe/d that folk music was entertaining, satisfying, interesting and extremely important and worth trying to pass on - it worked while our club was running; we got an audience and we had some memorable and extremely enjoyable nights.
We didn't restrict our selves just to folk/traditional songs (two different aspects of the same genre, folk = people who gave us the songs, traditional = process that created, re-created and disseminated them), but we worked on the basis that new songs could be made using the old model (happy to go into detail).
What we didn't do was abandon the basis of our objective and take in material that was pop/classical/music hall, not necessarily because we didn't like them, but because it's not what we set out to do.
It was never about bums on seats - I've never received a penny in payment in my life as a performer, club organiser or even album producer.
Plenty of explanations (that satisfy me anyway) as to what I believe folk to be - Lloyd's 'Folk Song in England', Buchan's 'The Ballad and the Folk, Well's 'The Ballad Tree - or colloections like The Penguin Book of English Folk Song, The Greig Duncan Folk Song Collection, Bronson, Child..... must have a few hundred on our shelves to choose from.
If you want to hear the songs, 'Folk Songs of Britain' (12 albums), Songs of the People (20 albums) Joe Heaney, Sam Larner, Harry Cox, Jeannie Robertson..... long, long list.
You continue to use the word purist - perhaps you might explain what you mean, and let's see whether you have been listening.
And perhaps, if you think our 'purist' ideas are wrong put us right and give us your definition?
Jim Carroll


07 Jul 11 - 05:16 PM (#3183388)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

BUT I DONT LIKE TRAD MUSIC PLAYED BY A ROCK BAND , BUT I AM NOT A PURIST.

I didn't say you did, or should, or whatever you're objecting to. Saying a purist might not like it doesn't mean that anyone who doesn't like it is a purist. That's basic logic and semantics. I have no idea if you are a purist or not. You say not, so that's good enough for me.

in my opinion a purist is someone who runs a singers club and refuses to let singers accompany themselves,

Yep, that is a purist. No arguments there.

. . . the sort of people who enjoy telling others you cant do that there here.

Yeah, yeah, you've said that. You also haven't said why you think everyone should run their club according to your rules. You haven't said why a folk singer should expect to get hired in a jazz club. If someone wants to run a club differently than you want to run a club, why does that bother you so? If you have spent time running a folk venue, bravo for you! And thank you! How would you like it if someone got really mad at you because you're not programming "their" kind of music? Would you book a heavy rock band into your folk club?

I had to talk a friend of mine into continuing to run a small concert series that was devoted to traditional music. A non-traditional folk singer came into her place and screamed at her VERY obscenely for half an hour because she told him she wouldn't book him, and why. This was, at the time, one of the very few places in town that focused on traditional music. There were numerous places for him to play, but he felt that any place that said folk music had to automatically book him because he played folk. Before I talked her down, she had decided to stop putting on concerts rather than subject herself to that again.

As I've said many times already in this discussion, it's not about whether or not someone is a purist, but whether or not they're a jerk about it. The same goes for non-purists.


07 Jul 11 - 05:30 PM (#3183395)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

whether on not they are a jerk, well depends how you define jerk?
here is a definition that is intersting in fact it refers to a jerk as a bore, so what you seem to be saying is that what matters is whether people are boring about their purism.
which i must say seems to reduce your attempted argument to the pinnacle of absurdity,
Jerk*

by Sidney J. Harris

I don't know whether history repeats itself, but biography certainly does. The other day, Michael came in and asked me what a "jerk" was--the same question Carolyn put to me a dozen years ago.

At that time, I fluffed her off with some inane answer, such as, "A jerk isn't a very nice person," but both of us knew it was an unsatisfactory reply. When she went to bed, I began trying to work up a suitable definition.

It is a marvelously apt word, of course. Until it was coined, there was really no single word in English to describe the kind of person who is a jerk--"boob" and "simp" were too old hat, and besides they really didn't fit, for they could be lovable, and a jerk never is.

Thinking it over, I decided that a jerk is basically a person without insight. He is not necessarily a fool or a dope, because some extremely clever persons can be jerks. In fact, it has little to do with intelligence as we commonly think of it; it is, rather, a kind of subtle but persuasive aroma emanating from the inner part of the personality.
in the USA it means something else a toss pot or wanker

I know a college president who can be described only as a jerk. He is not an unintelligent man, nor unlearned, nor even unschooled in the social amenities. Yet he is a jerk cum laude, because of a fatal flaw in his nature--he is totally incapable of looking into the mirror of his soul and shuddering at what he sees there.

A jerk, then, is a man (or woman) who is utterly unable to see himself as he appears to others. He has no grace, he is tactless without meaning to be, he is a bore even to his best friends, he is an egotist without charm. All of us are egotists to some extent, but most of us--unlike the jerk--are perfectly and horribly aware of it when we make asses of ourselves. The jerk never knows.


07 Jul 11 - 05:38 PM (#3183399)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Spleen Cringe

Banjiman, after much thought, this is it. If you write a new song with a tune half-nicked from an old song, use slightly archaic language and even better have an archaic subject matter, you've pretty much cracked it. Specially if it has a sing-along chorus. If you fail to jump through any of these three hoops, forget it.

This doesn't of course take into account the incredibly broad range of tunes, subject matter and linguistic styles found in traditional music. And the fact that some of it is absolutely jawdroppingly brilliant and some of it is (shhh!) trite, throwaway crap...

That Wendy's a good songwriter, mind...


07 Jul 11 - 05:43 PM (#3183401)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

some of it is absolutely jawdroppingly brilliant and some of it is (shhh!) trite, throwaway crap...

I'll say!


07 Jul 11 - 05:48 PM (#3183404)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon

whether on not they are a jerk, well depends how you define jerk?

I'd have thought John P's US "jerk" to my UK would be "a right prick" or "a complete and utter arsehole".


07 Jul 11 - 06:01 PM (#3183412)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

here is a definition that is intersting in fact it refers to a jerk as a bore, so what you seem to be saying is that what matters is whether people are boring about their purism.
which i must say seems to reduce your attempted argument to the pinnacle of absurdity,


Well, GSS, if you are saying that musical purity jerks are often narcissistic, I agree. I don't really see that as being the same as being a bore, although I like to avoid both jerks and bores. Finding an internet clip that equates jerkiness with being boring is fun, but it doesn't mean that I made that comparison, or that you get to tell me I'm being absurd when I talk about people who are jerks. If you claim to not know what a jerk is, I don't really see any point in having a conversation with you.

You seem to be spending time deciding, without any evidence, that I'm really saying something other than what I'm really saying, and then arguing with me for saying what I really didn't. It's getting boring . . .

I don't get the feeling that you are spending any time actually thinking about what I'm saying. With all humility and respect, please back off.


07 Jul 11 - 06:03 PM (#3183414)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

Yes, Jon, that's it in a nutshell. Thank you for the clarification.


07 Jul 11 - 06:05 PM (#3183416)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman

Thanks Spleen Cringe, at least you've actually read my question and attempted a definition. It even sounds like a very honest description of some things I like...... a lot! Amongst other things of course.

Jim, does that fit with the tradalike you said you would have in your club? Or was it something different?


07 Jul 11 - 06:08 PM (#3183418)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander

"The very fact that Folk Song is seen as a collective product with the stress on The Anonymous and The Traditional is proof pure of this legacy."

So in other words, no, you can't name any collector who believed that the working class was incapable of producing anything, and you certainly can't cite the offending words.


07 Jul 11 - 06:12 PM (#3183421)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim, does that fit with the tradalike"
Sounds like facile crap to me - if that's what you think folk song is you really haven't been looking.
A piss-taking parody rather than a definition which didn't eeven attempt to explain either "folk" or "tradition".
I gathered that SC was being facetious - you apparently took him seriously
Jim Carroll


07 Jul 11 - 06:14 PM (#3183422)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

And still neither a definition nor a source of information I can go to - no change there then
Jim Carroll


07 Jul 11 - 06:22 PM (#3183426)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

I don't get the feeling that you are spending any time actually thinking about what I'm saying. With all humility and respect, please back off. john p quote
I have spent too much time thinking about what you are trying to say and have come to the conclusion it is rather like hampton court maze   
You would make an excellent policeman, you seem to approve of people being told that they should not sing with accompaniments in certain clubs because it is the rule[however absurd it is as a rule and it is absurd] it is absurd because no one imposes a rule upon unaccompanied singers that they have to perform with instruments, and it is absurd because it prevents certain singers from performing to the best of their ability and it also excludes performers who wish to accompany themselves.
music should be inclusive not exclusive, people imposing rules which prevent performers from performing to the best of their abilty, reminds me of the rule imposed on singers performing at the macColl Seeger singers club, where people had to perform songs from their own native background, so English people had to sing English songs NOT AMERICAN, it was imo a very big mistake, IMPOSING RULES FORCING SINGERS TO SING UNACCOMPANIED IS BACKWARD LOOKING.


07 Jul 11 - 06:26 PM (#3183427)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"A non-traditional folk singer came into her place and screamed at her VERY obscenely for half an hour because she told him she wouldn't book him, and why. This was, at the time, one of the very few places in town that focused on traditional music. There were numerous places for him to play, but he felt that any place that said folk music had to automatically book him because he played folk."

I'm not surprised at this sorry tale at all. I suspect that it gets to the heart of what discussions like this are really all about. In the 50s and 60s there was a brief fad for a form called Skiffle followed by a guitar-based, Dylanesque commercial form to which was applied the label 'Folk'; this was/is widely popular - and there's no reason why it shouldn't be (although I'll put my cards on the table and say that it doesn't particularly appeal to me).

At the same time there evolved a less commercial, grass-roots movement based on traditional Folk music, and two of the leading lights/prime movers in this latter movement were Lloyd and MacColl. The latter was an inspired but controversial figure who was associated with a club which once had a policy which demanded that people who sang at that club should only sing songs from their own region. There were perfectly good reasons for this - which have been discussed, at great length, before. Nevertheless, this (now long defunct) policy has caused apoplexy, in some circles, ever since.

I suspect that this on-going apoplexy about a prehistoric policy, and all of this constant droning on about purists, is because 'Folk' singers, who probably either don't like, or can't see the point of, traditional based Folk, think (like the singer in the story above)that they should have unrestricted access to the clubs based on traditional Folk.

At the same time there have been, in the long history of the Post-War Revival, a few silly buggers who have said things like, "you can't bring that guitar in here" and "you're singing it wrong" etc. Such people should be dealt with by giving them a good, hard slap!


07 Jul 11 - 06:48 PM (#3183433)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

GSS,
Wow, you are really fixated on this. Why is it so important to you? For the tenth time, would you book a heavy rock act into a folk club you were running? Would you want to perform folk music in a heavy rock club?

For the record, I would make a terrible policeman, since I am an inveterate rule breaker. I still wouldn't want to play my guitar in a singing-only club. There's breaking rules, and then there's being a jerk (as in complete and utter arsehole). Please note that I've never said I agree with a singing-only policy. I don't, actually. But it's THEIR BLOODY CLUB! They get to do what they want, and their audience apparently likes it. Why is it any of your business? Oh, sorry, I've asked you that several times already without any answer, so forgive me for wasting your bandwidth once again.

As for my intelligibility, go find an English teacher and show them my posts and yours, and see what they have to say about clear writing. And reading comprehension. You sound like a pot calling a stainless steel pan black.


07 Jul 11 - 07:02 PM (#3183442)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Spleen Cringe

I think Banjiman knows I was being semi-facetious, Jim... There is a serious point in there, though. Some of the 'trad-a-like' stuff is very good, but some is such cringe-inducingly bad fake-folk-by-numbers, verily it offendeth mine ears. In such circumstances I'd much rather listen a decent contemporary singer-songwriter who isn't trying to be anything but what they are. Like this feller (listen to the song called 'Romance is Dead')

I think Shimrod has sort of hit the nail on the head though. This 'split' in the postwar folk revival scene is as old as the scene itself. Personally I can live with it, but my bottom line is that I tend to judge a song or a performance by what it tastes like rather than by what it says on the tin, to use a parallel Jim has sometimes used. To stretch it further, this means if it says beans and it is beans, I don't necessarily know till I've tried 'em whether they're succulent beans in a rich, thick sauce or hard little pellets in a thin gruel. And if the tin says beans and when I open it, it's pear halves in syrup, then sometimes that's a nice surprise and sometimes its a pain in the arse. There again, I do have obscenely catholic tastes and a blithe disregard for labels... Snail ice-cream, anyone?


07 Jul 11 - 07:04 PM (#3183443)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander

"I must point out that all music is the consequence of such cultural / musical process, what's so special about folk?"

In the passage I quoted above, you yourself alluded to the specific cultural/musical processes in the evolution of folk music that make it "special"; these processes make folk music (not Folk Music)distinctive from other kinds of music such as classical, marching band, and death metal.


07 Jul 11 - 08:11 PM (#3183468)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: ripov

What is generally termed folk music (not sure about capitalisation or its implication) may indeed be different from other MODERN forms, but is much closer to classical music (not in the pedantic sense) which was hardly a seperate branch of music then, and marches (which it includes) FROM ITS OWN PERIOD (say 1600-1750). Music, like most other human activities, has changes of fashion quite frequently, and those familiar with them can date musical styes to within a few decades or better. Listen to concertos by Handel, Vivaldi, and Boyce. Obviously by different composers, but very similar, because they had the same external influences. This "fashionable" sound of the period is what we recognise as the "folk" sound. And we can probably date it, perhaps a little roughly, the earlier tunes probably more modal, because the main influence was church music, and later tunes more melodic with the popularisation of "classical" concerts, and more formal dances (think Jane Austen)
All music, not just "folk", will be played in a style that owes something to the fashion of the times, because that is our main influence.
That is where the Good Purist comes in.
S/He researches the period and performing styles when the music was composed, and is able to demonstrate how it was originally played (maybe). This is a Good Thing. We know our music's origins, however we subsequently choose to play it.
Then there's the Bad Purist who attempts to prevent the music evolving by only approving performance in the original style.
Otherwise referred to as "precious"; this is a Bad Thing.

BTW does the 1954 text include a definition of "working class"?


07 Jul 11 - 08:54 PM (#3183486)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

Thank you ripov. Well said.


08 Jul 11 - 03:14 AM (#3183580)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST

"I think Banjiman knows I was being semi-facetious, Jim"

Really! I'm so disappointed. Especially as yours is the only definition of tradalike or "in the tradition" songwriting that I have been offered.

Jim, you are still waiting for a definition of "purist" (from whom I'm not sure, I don't think from me though as I only used the term once, and that was in jest).

I'm still waiting for a definition (from you) as to the Tradalike (i.e. NOT folk, in the terms that you commonly use) songs that were acceptable at the club you were involved in. I'm also interested in how these songs contributed to the title "folk club" doing what it said on the tin.

This is important stuff for me, I've moved away from calling the events we put on "folk" in response to a lot of what I read on here (as well as the "f" word putting off a lot of potential local non-folky audience) and called it either Acoustic Icons or simply The Village Concerts........ For me this debate is not purely academic, it has practical implications for what we run. Oh, and by the way, we still put on lots of Folk (even by it's purest, traditional, definition) acts, just not exclusively, so it seemed safer to move away from the folk tag.


08 Jul 11 - 03:15 AM (#3183581)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman

Above was me!


08 Jul 11 - 03:31 AM (#3183586)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Spleen Cringe

"It seemed safer to move away from the folk tag"

In that case, Banjiman, have a listen to these and these and see if you fancy then for one of your nights! PM me if you do...


08 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM (#3183592)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

Following on from my previous post I think that the whole 'what is folk'?/what is a folk purist?' debate can be neatly summed up in the following dialogue:

'Folk' singer: "I do folk; gimme a gig in your club, man!"

Folk club organiser: "Sorry but no. You see we only book people who do traditional type material."

'Folk' singer: "Whadya mean, no! You f***ing purist!"

And this dialogue, in some form or other, has been repeated over and over for at least the last 50 years, and will probably be repeated for the next 50.


08 Jul 11 - 04:07 AM (#3183595)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman

"PM me if you do... "

I can't PM as my Mudcat account is screwed up. But email me.

Nicely written publicity blurb Mr Cringe!
    Of course, you could e-mail Joe and get your Mudcat account unscrewed...
    -joe@mudcat.org-


08 Jul 11 - 04:30 AM (#3183603)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST

"Of course, you could e-mail Joe and get your Mudcat account unscrewed..."

Which I did several months ago and got no response! But I'll try again.
    Maybe it ended up in junk mail, which happens...I e-mailed the info to your e-mail address of record.
    -Joe-


08 Jul 11 - 04:59 AM (#3183613)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Banjiman

Thanks Joe, sorted now!


08 Jul 11 - 05:39 AM (#3183629)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

these processes make folk music (not Folk Music)distinctive from other kinds of music such as classical, marching band, and death metal.

No they don't though, because these processes are an integral part of those other sorts of music too. What makes each genre special is the aesthetic, cultural & musicological factors which rest at the heart of musical diversity and ensure that there'll always be room for more stlyes, idioms, genres, & traditions, in the future. Any type of so-called Folk Music can go by another name - just another idiom, like different languages or different styles of art, which, in the end, are all the ongoing consequence of units of individual human creativity operating collectively, culturally, socially, organically. There's no music on the planet where this isn't the case.

So in other words, no, you can't name any collector who believed that the working class was incapable of producing anything, and you certainly can't cite the offending words.

Offending words? The whole thing is writ large in the very DNA of the thing. One of the more moving passages in Georgina Boyes' The Imagined Village is when she quotes Joseph Jacobs on the nature of individual creativity with respect of free-styling (for want of a better term) Indo-European folk tales. This opinion is widely regarded as mistaken, but not by me. In Living Traditions, the free-styling of material is integral to the life of the thing and there is no reason why Traditional Ballad Singers, Storytellers, & Folk Singers weren't able to freely create as it suited them to do so. In the European Folk Tale analogues abound, often o'erleaping cultural & linguistic boundaries; same goes for ballads and songs where the themes run fluidly with random adaptation, sampling, making, remaking all being essential aspects of a Living Tradition perpetuated by master craftsmen & women. By masters I mean ordinary people well versed in the soul of the thing, in The Tradition as it were - which is NOT the songs themselves, but such stuff as songs are made on.

Again, it comes down to individuals, albeit in a time when the only micophones were the human ears, the only recording medium the human brain, and the notion of copyright and other legalities hadn't even been thought of yet. The Grapevine was all, and songs spread swift as gossiping tongues and were changed with each re-making NOT because of being wrongly remembered, but to suit the requirements of each individual singer. Chances are they were never sung the same way twice. We can see the collected legacy of this surviving in the collections cited by Jim earlier; The Traditional Songs so eagerly sought after by scholarly academics from an essentially debased proletariat who were very much of an inferior order of being - deferential, humiliated, humble; just as the indigenous populations of the empire were help to be inferior, the oppressed and huddled masses of lumpen humanity, exploited by the Right and patronised by the Left, but never allowed to live and breathe on account of their essential individual uniqueness.

One is reminded of Maud Karpeles introducing one universally celebrated Folk singer as NOT being a real Folk Singer on account of her having been to college. Tongue in cheek? I think not. The 1954 Definition (of Karpeles) is full of assumptions of Folk Character and Community typical of Folkloric studies in general, whereby human individuality is removed from the equation entirely and ones worth (if any) is solely as a passive Tradition Bearer in the context of ones collective community. Know your place, work man.

In Classical Traditions the Community is one of Individuals. We remember names like Henry Purcell, but what of the likes of John Blow and Pelham Humphries and the hundreds of others with whom Purcell studied and learned, and locked horns with on a daily basis, ploughing over as much old ground (and much so-called Folk material) as breaking new? These days we might call it paying dues. In Folk Music, the illusion of collectivism is the consequence of an indifferent educated class misunderstanding and mythologising the actual nature of Alien Human Culture which assumes that by dint of its Inferiority it must be Truly Different in terms of the Authentic, or the Exotic, or the Pure - and then has the neck to make up the terms on which to judge it.

If we defined Folk Music on account of it being simply (and properly) The Music of The Folk, then people here wouldn't be interested. Instead Folk must be this other thing that The Folk are barely even aware of, thus Folk, as it stands, and at its very worst, is a signifier of rabid bourgeois fantasy. At best, it means anything you want it to mean. Hardly the wonder Folk Roots and the International Folk Music Council changed their names to downplay the F-word. As terms Roots and Traditional Music have their problems, but in the manifest remits of both Froots and the Internaional Council for Traditional Music, and the work being done by singers and musicians old and young the world over... well, I don't think there's any real cause to worry, do you?


08 Jul 11 - 08:42 AM (#3183691)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones

It's easy to be critical of the early collectors, but it must be remembered that they were mostly not academics but enthusiasts, who were developing techniques and methodology as they went along. Above all, they were inevitably affected by the class assumptions of their time, as well as by their own political or romantic prejudices.

The idea of "folk music" arose from empirical observation. They realised there was a body of music which differed from contemporary art and popular music. They found it among the "lower classes" and saw it was in danger of dying out, because as this class became more upwardly mobile it was seen not only as old-fashioned but symbolic of what they were trying to "better themselves" from.

Just because the collectors' attitudes and conclusions may have been simplistic or even simply wrong does mean that what they identified as "folk" did not exist, or that it is not a meaningful concept today, even if the word itself has become debased (for entirely separate reasons)


08 Jul 11 - 09:24 AM (#3183709)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Thanks for the precis, Howard - I do go on at times.


08 Jul 11 - 02:09 PM (#3183859)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander

Very nicely put, Howard.

Terms like folk, traditional, and folk process are nothing more than shorthand for forms based upon processes that you yourself have indicated that you understand (again, I refer you to your own words I quoted above). You have described your session as 100% traditional, you refer directly above to "Traditional Ballad Singers, Storytellers, & Folk Singers"; clearly, you intend these words to mean something when you use them, you just have a problem when other people use them. Apparently, what is meaningful when you say it is meaningless when I say it. And you say you're not muddying the waters?

"No they don't though, because these processes are an integral part of those other sorts of music too."

Not in the same way and not to the same degree. There is nothing comparable in classical, marching band and death metal (to continue with these examples) that is equivalent to hundreds of different variants of Child #200 with divergent melodies, arrangments, plots, lyrical devices; the 'Drowsy Sleeper'/'Silver Dagger' cluster of ballads/songs in North America; or the ubiquitous 'Cotton-Eyed Joe'. The diversity of forms reflects "a cultural idiom of song making & remaking in an largely working-class oral culture which may have preceded or succeeded the Broadsides," to borrow a phrase, something that cannot be demonstrated in the desemination and performance of Beethoven's choral symphonies (for example).

"Offending words? The whole thing is writ large in the very DNA of the thing."

More sweeping generalizations, Sub. And still no specific reference to a collector (an individual, mind you) that ever believed that the working class was incapable of producing anything. Nor any indication you are aware that collecting and scholarship have moved on from those mist-shrouded, romantic beginnnings. You might want to look into the work of Mark Wilson and Art Rosenbaum in North America for a more up-to-date philosopy and practice of collecting, and more importantly to hear some incredible music.


08 Jul 11 - 05:59 PM (#3183970)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie / fluids whatever

On holiday but pissing it down so sat playing with iPhone ( sign of the times, finding something to play with but I digress)

First, thanks as ever to M'Unlearned Friend for inadvertently making my point whilst trying to make me look a pillock quite a few posts back.

Second, I am tempted to write a definitive book of rules and state that this is folk and nothing else is. I am of the opinion many people would feel such rules a comfort blanket.

Thirdly, I note that poor Joe Offer seems to have to read this thread, presumably out of a deep sense of service. What the hell you must be thinking about us weird buggers this side of the pond.... Don't worry, we get a kick out of lobbing bricks at each other.

And to everybody else, complaining about purists indicates a sense of purism.

Goodnight from a wet and windy campsite in the lake district. Singapore next week for part 2 of the hols. At least the rain is warm and short lived there.


08 Jul 11 - 08:12 PM (#3184052)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: ripov

The "working class" (particularly the urban working class) in the period when collectors like Sharp were active, were living in completely different ("Dickensian") circumstances to the mainly rural workers in earlier times. And many of those earlier workers were craftsmen, self employed people that nowadays, and even in victorian times, would have been regarded as "middle class". The "wage slave" was a product of the Industrial Revolution, possibly driven from the old way of life by the Enclosures. These events are well documented in folk-song.
Particularly as far as music is concerned the concept of these workers as unlearned is probably incorrect. I think it was Suibhne who mentioned this earlier, and just to back it up here are a couple of quotes;
from the Oxford Companion to Music referring to the Metrical Psalters (circa 1600);(Hymns and Hymn Tunes 5) "this was a period when sightsinging was a common accomplishment". And from Trevalyan's "English Social History", again referring to these psalters "these.... often supplied the music in four parts.... so that "the unskilful with small practice may attain to sing that part which is fittest for their voice". Which implies that
1. it was normal to be able to sing from music, and that
2. experienced singers would improvise appropriate parts on their own.
Again the first edition of The Beggar's Opera had melody but no bass. Well, a competent musician can play a suitable bass without the dots, can't he.
In any case, should we not expect a complete continuum of musical ability from the veriest amateur to the top professional; and so regard any division of this continuum as artificial.

GooseGander, I think you are coming from the wrong end about classical music. Yes, concert performances of beethoven will be very similar to each other, because the performers all play the same version, and indeed only that one version exists. The same applies at times to the "folk" scene today. But regarding folk not sounding like classical, apart from not sounding like Dylan (is Dylan folk?), Boyce doesn't sound anything like Birtwhistle either (thank goodness).
I think it was Beethoven who got cross about performers playing his music their own way (or was it Haydn), it was certainly normal up till then for this to happen.
Try a few (particularly newer) recordings of Vivaldi's "Four Seaons" and you will find they vary considerably.
And have you heard the renderings of Pachabel's Canon, as it is sometimes played in sessions?
But it's good to know what the composer intended, before making our own "adjustments".

Suibhne, my recollection of the classical scene is that knowledge of the teacher/pupil relationship is very important for tracing the handing down of technical matters and of interpretation, and regarded almost as a pedigree, so unlike the folk tradition the path of the classical tradition is well documented. (yes I know I said the distinction was artificial, I'm being an artificer)
For a modern example see http://www.violinist.com/blog/weekendvote/20088/8963/

And as you say the improvisation not only of music but of story was held in high regard. The old name for lyrics, the "lay", sounds very close to the "lie" told by "liars" or story-tellers.


08 Jul 11 - 09:18 PM (#3184080)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander

Ripov, your statements about classical performance confirm my comments.

"Yes, concert performances of beethoven will be very similar to each other, because the performers all play the same version, and indeed only that one version exists."

One version of the 9th is all we have (but it's certainly enough). Conversely, there is no 'right' version of 'Pretty Saro', there are multiple versions, reflecting the processes that (awkward though the phrase is) we call the folk process. Different versions of Vivaldi's work will differ, but not to the degree that variants of Child #84 differ. There is still Vivaldi's score to refer to; a would-be ballad singer in 2011 has hundreds of recordings, transcriptions and texts to refer to (or he or she can make up his own version).

"The same applies at times to the "folk" scene today."

First of all, today's revivalist folk scene is not the same tradition as the ones documented by Sharp, Lomax and others; secondly, there are plenty of different versions of any given song, each 'right' in its own way, but no single 'correct' version, so I'm not sure the same does apply.


09 Jul 11 - 02:27 AM (#3184171)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Haven't got time to get to involved in this - am in the middle of our traditional music summer school - briefly.
"Second, I am tempted to write a definitive book of rules and state that this is folk and nothing else is"
It's facile and unpleasent comments like this that send threads like this crashing in flames make it impossible to discuss our different approaches to our music(s) - a form of cyber-bullying.
There are no "rules" as to how folk music "should" be performed (other than those invented by people who neither understand nor particularly like traditional music"). There certainly has been no evidence of their existance other than 'urban-legend-type' references to "purists".
There certainly are personal tastes, but these get bulldozed into the ground by stupid and nasty phrases like "purist", "finger-in-ear" and "folk police (or even fascist)".
The folk scene has built an impregnable wall around itself, leaving us with a sickly anodyne critical mechanism by which we can judge how well or badly we are doing and what impact our music is having outside our 'folk-greenhouses'.
Music calls
Jim Carroll


09 Jul 11 - 03:25 AM (#3184178)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"...you can't name any collector who believed that the working class was incapable of producing anything, and you certainly can't cite the offending words."
Regarding the creation of folk song, this from Phillips Barry in his note to The Lakes of Col Finn in The New Green Mountain Songster:
"Popular tradition, however, does not mean popular origin. In the case of of the ballad, the underlying folklore is Irish de facto, but not de jure: the ballad is of Oriental and literary origin, and has sunk to the level of the "folk" which has the keeping of folklore. To put it in a single phrase, memory not invention is the function of the folk " (my emphasis).
I believe this attitude reflects that of many collectors and academics, who have treated our field singers as merely sources of songs and nothing more, the result being that we have little or no information as to what the singers thought of their songs, if anything.
The unconconcious folk-singer whose singing was regarded as unconsidered and as "instinctive as birdsong" has been one of the most prevailing images in the field of folk song scholarship since it began. We even have our own 'expert' on this forum who, based on "gut reaction", is keen to prove that the folk had no part in the making of our traditional songs, which, he claims, were really the products of an army of pixies slaving away in cellars of broadside publishing houses in order to give us our oral folk literature because the 'ordinary' people were too busy earning a living to create anything artistic for themselves - not my opinion after nearly 40 years of interviewing some of the remaining few source singers left to us.
As a whole, the working class has always been regarded as being incapable of artistic creation, other than on the most crude and basic level; the main reason why folk song has been treated as an object of ridicule by the arts establishment and the media (and even evident on this thread) - the 'Rambling Sid Rumpo' school of thought.
Jim Carroll


09 Jul 11 - 03:46 AM (#3184181)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

And then goes on to fan the flames..... Thanks as ever Jim.

I would have sympathy with that if this were such a thread. However it started as a discussion around the word purist. Methinks it also debated whether purism is a nice or nasty label. Since then it has become a rather academic debate around what is folk, similar to every other ruddy thread. Although whenever I or others try debating that subject, you get all precious. Perhaps you are answering the original thread by accident?

Some very deep meaningful discussion here but needs an appropriate thread starting. Every time Jim starts typing, we answer the original question and that's a shame because there is a place for learned people like Jim but not necessarily chairman of the folk board.


09 Jul 11 - 04:01 AM (#3184189)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander

Jim Carroll goes to bat for Sub, doesn't often happen, but I will admit that is a good example of an old attitude toward 'the folk' and 'folksong'.   Jim, you are a collector with a very different attitude and approach. I often listen to recordings collected by you and the aforementioned Mark Wilson and Art Rosenbaum, I don't often dig through the moldy old writings of Barry. My point is that collecting and folklore scholarship moved on from those naive and often condescending beginnings. Please read the late American folklorist Archie Green for a view of folksong diametrically opposed to that put forward by Barry, check out Norm Cohen as well.

"The unconconcious folk-singer whose singing was regarded as unconsidered and as 'instinctive as birdsong' has been one of the most prevailing images in the field of folk song scholarship since it began." - Jim, you have to know that view has been strongly challenged for decades, and not just by you.


09 Jul 11 - 04:10 AM (#3184192)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones

It's true this thread has drifted away from the original topic onto the usual well-worn tracks. But the reason we have this debate about "purists" comes back to the difficulty we have in defining "folk" - or more accurately getting some people to accept it.

I doubt whether they have the same issues in other genres, or at least to the same extent. OK I know of the rift in jazz between trad and bebop, but if I go to a jazz club I know broadly what to expect - the same if I go to a classical concert, or an event billed as reggae, northern soul or whatever. If I go to a folk club - some clubs anyway - I could hear almost anything.

The strangest thing is why all these people performing other than traditional folk want to squeeze inside the folk tent. Apart from brief periods, folk has been deeply unfashionable and uncool. My cynical view is that the folk scene offers them an opportunity to perfor before an often uncritical audience, and to become a big fish in a small pond.


09 Jul 11 - 04:33 AM (#3184198)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"My point is that collecting and folklore scholarship moved on from those naive and often condescending beginnings."
It may have GG but the result of those attitudes means we have no way of assessing what our traditional singers regarded their songs - the source information is not there and those who carried it are no longer with us. I agree that some US collectors and researchers did attempt to redress this situation, but in the UK we are still in the world of 'birdsong' - one result being that we have a revival that can't tell its folk arse from its elbow and where every singer from Melba to Meatloaf has to be regarded as "folk" because he ain't a horse.
"Every time Jim starts typing, we answer the original question"
Willie - you have not addressed one single point I have made and have each time reverted to childish name calling.
I am not a "purist", I am not an academic or an expert - I am an enthusiast who spent most of my musical life in folk clubs, but who decided to lift up the corner and try to see what lay underneath, mainly by talking to older singers, but also reading the occasional book as well - try it.
Please try to put a little thought behind your words - it makes for better understanding and tolerance.
And ntw - I'm certainly not just "a collector with a very different attitude and approach" - my musical approach was formed in the clubs and is an extension of that experience.
Must go - music calls.
Jim Carroll


09 Jul 11 - 04:51 AM (#3184200)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

"The unconconcious folk-singer whose singing was regarded as unconsidered and as 'instinctive as birdsong' has been one of the most prevailing images in the field of folk song scholarship since it began."

I like the like the idea of uncon-consciousness. Otherwise I can run with that as an apt analogy of how these songs would have existed in their Natural Habitat, much less been seen to flow by the outsiders. One thinks of Bird singing, or Coltrane, or Miles, or Louis Armstring - or - any true master of their art - be it Jeannie Robertson - Phil Tanner - Sam Larner - and the countless others that were missed entirely - whose singing was, indeed, as natural to them as birdsong.

Meanwhile, I think the field of folksong scholarship is now a Tescos...


09 Jul 11 - 05:10 AM (#3184205)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

Mr Fluids has as usual no idea what he is talking about.


09 Jul 11 - 05:12 AM (#3184207)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,mother macree anon purist

Come on you lot!!!!!!!!!! does it really matter.?

I learnt to sing,enjoy and perform folk when i did not know what folk was. Have a look at the book about the Elliots of Birtley when they say "We di'nt know thst we were singing folk songs till Ewan Maccoll told us"
I did and still enjoy singing and that it is it.

ENJOY ENJOY, now get out and sing!!! damn you!! not sit around on your collective smug arses annalysing it.


09 Jul 11 - 05:29 AM (#3184210)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST

'Have a look at the book about the Elliots of Birtley when they say "We di'nt know thst we were singing folk songs till Ewan Maccoll told us"'

But the point is that they were singing folk songs. Just because they hadn't put a particular label on them didn't mean they wern't folk.

There are two aspects to this argument: the purely academic one which is of only passing interest to the ordinary music lover, and the more practical one of what sort of music is appropriate in a "folk club". The latter is important, because there is a case for saying that too broad an approach has contributed to the general decline in folk clubs.

I don't know of many clubs which had an actual policy, but most were self-selecting and the division into trad and contemporary clubs was more a matter of natural selection than edict. If a club doesn't want to book a performer because they don't suit the style of the club that's not being "purist" or "fascist", that's just paying regard to the expectations of the club's audience.


09 Jul 11 - 05:35 AM (#3184214)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Or is the field of Folk song scholarship the one where the pit used to be? Or the old houses long since demolished under Schedule D? The people who lived there didn't realise they were singing Folk Songs either. In my experience most of them weren't, but they were still singing like birds, like old 'Uncle' Jimmy, a ex-miner who'd been singing semi-professionally around the Durham pit villages since 1920 and had never heard of any of the folk songs I asked him about... And he was most keen to impress me too, which he did with his encyclopedic knowledge of early 20th century Popular Song, stories and traditions. He liked The Colliers' Rant though; I showed it to him in my facsimile of Bells' Northern Bards (1812).


09 Jul 11 - 05:52 AM (#3184221)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

Yeah but then, I don't make a living out of talking balls M'Unlearned friend.

Jim, when you get back from your music or whatever (I'm going to my hill to walk up for that matter and about as relevant) please note that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. just saying you are not a purist and then displaying all the traits discussed in this thread isn't answering anything. I haven't addressed what you have put for a reason. It is interesting but is not relevant to this discussion.

You can be an enthusiast all you like but that doesn't stop you fitting the stereotype that this thread started describing before it became another what is folk.

Folk is what you say it is and it is what I say it is. Funnily enough, strip out the pretentious words he uses and it might, just might also be what M'Unlearned Friend says it is. Alternatively show me the copyright. And before you say it, dictionaries are reactive not proactive so don't try that one. Even Rumpole of Kent might understand that.


09 Jul 11 - 06:27 AM (#3184229)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

But the point is that they were singing folk songs. Just because they hadn't put a particular label on them didn't mean they wern't folk.


And so were they called to their sacred mission, bestowed from on high in reward for the purity of their innocent compliance to the holy law whilst other lesser mortals slipped through the dragnet. These days there's no such purity, much less innocence, though occasionally one hears of individuals being hailed for such qualities, these random messiahs feted as The Real Thing according to the Holy Writ of both the Old and New Testments of the Revival. Pure blood lines, unsullied by the baser elements and the corrupting influences of Popular Culture, such people are seen as saviours.

And so the Folk Myth endureth, and will endureth, until The Folk Rapture, which, as predicted, will happen on the 23rd June 2024. On this day, the True Folk and the Faithful thereof will be carried aloft into Paradise, leaving the rest of us to heave a huge sigh of relief and simply get on with the very pleasant business of making beautiful music together.


09 Jul 11 - 07:27 AM (#3184247)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Folknacious

GUEST Steamin' Willie: the stereotype that this thread started describing before it became another what is folk.

Thank you, Steam. As the person who started this thread and is truly staggered by its length and the effects of blowback, I must say that the last thing I had in mind was another "what the f**k is f**k?" war between the usual suspects beating each other around the heads with prejudices, dictionaries and hot air ballons.

For what it's worth, in spite of it all - and I must admit to not having carefully read every word due to my war wound - I'm still not entirely sure my original question was answered. Yes, lots of people have popped up wearing their stereotypes with pride, but whether the term "purist" is correctly applied is questionable. There's been an awful lot of narrow minded, close-horizoned, lack of broad experience low level bigotry expressed, but that's not being a "purist" because to be a "purist", surely you have to not only know and love your field but also have good knowledge of everything else surrounding it or you can't possibly make value judgements. I don't see a lot of that: I see a lot of "I know about what I think is folk and I don't like the other stuff because I've hardly experienced it." Surely that's not being a purist, it's rather more like being an old (or insert age range of choice) fart.

But thank you all, I think.

Ken


09 Jul 11 - 07:43 AM (#3184260)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

You can't say whether there are purists until you know what a purist is. That's why I put up the dictionary definitions earlier.

I even indicated that I didn't plan to get into "what is folk" (or words to that sort of effect) until horse wnakers started. But I do know pretentious drivel when I see it, and I see a lot of it here, mostly apparently from horses.


09 Jul 11 - 09:55 AM (#3184300)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones, who really must reset his cook

I didn't get into folk music because of some academic definition, or because of its class origins or political associations. I discovered a genre of music which I could relate to - and importantly, which I could play at a time when I had barely mastered three chords on guitar. That music was labelled "folk", which at that time still meant mainly traditional music (or rather the revival interpretation of it), although confusingly it also covered another genre which seemed to have little in common other than usually being accompanied with acoustic guitar.

As I mentioned in a previous post, these two did drift apart for a while, more as a result of natural selection than club policies - people naturally gravitated towards the clubs whose music they preferred. More recently they seem to have come together again, and the "folk" tag seems to have become even wider. I have a BBC Folk Awards album on which one of the instrumental tracks not only shows no relationship to traditional melodic structures but the instrumentation and manner of performance bears no relationship to either traditional or the usual revival styles. It's not bad music, but I can see nothing about it to justify labelling it "folk".

We all seem to be able to agree that "traditional" music is "folk". We may find that hard to define, but I don't think that's as important as is made out - I can't define an elephant, but I know one when I see it. It seems to be the people who want other styles of music also to be called "folk" who complain most loudly about "purists" trying to keep them out, but I have to question their motives for wanting to be included.


09 Jul 11 - 10:24 AM (#3184321)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Yes I admit I'm a purist. None of you have reached my exacting standards. I advise you all to jack it in.

I did consider liquidating the disparate elements who have dragged the tradition down to its present sorry state. One night when i was drunk I put a machne gun in one of my guitar cases. I've forgotten which one. But if i turn up at your folk club and by mischance I have picked the case with a machine gun in it. There will be trouble.

I am a purist. Not a man to trifled with. You all need to pull your socks up, and start behaving yourself. People who forget the words and the tune of the song they are performing - you have been warned!


09 Jul 11 - 01:33 PM (#3184456)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

Ironically, I have a lot of time for purists as in taking a hobby seriously and combining the historical research of how we expressed ourselves and getting good abstract enjoyment out of perpetuating that medium.

Lots of big words there.

Nonetheless I see the difference between a person taking a huge interest in what we loosely call folk and somebody berating others for not fitting their ideal.

Just to keep the purist term a neutral one, I don't think a bloke who goes in to a barmaid and asks for her to Allow him to partake of a jar of her finest real ale is a purist, he is a prat who cannot ask for a pint of bitter. I see similar prats once they have their pint and are discussing the merits of a song some poor sod is trying to sing. They are not purists, they are prats. a purist may know a bit about the song, might even understand what specific gravity means with regard to the keg beer disguised with a clever hand pull valve, but purist they are not.

A purist for me is somebody who then can't understand why we don't all embarrass the bar staff and piss off the singers.


09 Jul 11 - 05:41 PM (#3184566)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

We all seem to be able to agree that "traditional" music is "folk".

I don't. All music is Traditional, but not all music is Folk. All Folk music is Traditional though.

We may find that hard to define

It's easy as ABC; elementary musicology in fact.

but I don't think that's as important as is made out

It's an ongoing bugbear for sure, but not without good reason.

I can't define an elephant, but I know one when I see it.

That's because elephants exist and aren't some rare breed of folk species that only comes into existence by subjecting it to an absurd & unrealistic criteria to prove it is biologically different from any other breed of animal.

It seems to be the people who want other styles of music also to be called "folk" who complain most loudly about "purists" trying to keep them out

Who does this? Or maybe you think by pointing out the Myriad of Styles you can call Folk these days by way of their context - i.e the many sorts of music you hear in Folk Clubs or discussed on Mudcat - this opens the floodgates? BUT it's not a matter of wanting this, far from it, rather it's a matter of facing facts. Nothing to do with Horses either, just to do with sorts of things your likely to hear done in the Name O' Folk these days.

but I have to question their motives for wanting to be included.

There aren't any motives; it's all down to the Come All Ye inclusivity which is the nature of the Folk beast - be it bands, clubs, festivals, Mudcat or whatever. Where there is Folk there is always going to be all sorts of music and approaces that will irk the self-styled Purist, not because the music is at fault or doesn't belong, but because Purists are complete and utter twats who know nowt about the music they claim to love. If they did, they wouldn't be purists. What they do know about is a perverse small minded craving for Rules and Regulations so they may adopt a Jobsworth attitude to further the misery that their anal view of the world dictates they must share.

I've met a few, not many as I say, for which I am truly thankful.


10 Jul 11 - 03:11 AM (#3184721)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Theres a lot to be said for an anal view
Its gets to the bottom of me and you
My pleasure has often been quite unalloyed
Looking up at the stools and the haemmeroids
If you're a bit of an aresehole, to thyself be true
And demand a room with an anal view.


10 Jul 11 - 04:11 AM (#3184728)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

On the basis of what has been said above I cannot agree that all music is traditional. That assertion seems to involve eliding the scales that are used, and possibly the timings, with the works composed using them. It would obviously be impossible to contend that a set of words that I might compose today or tomorrow were traditional save in the obviously ridiculous sense that each individual word I used was traditional and the grammatical structures I used likewise. Even that plainly unuseful argument breaks down when applied to music: for example there was some years ago a South American composer who decided to break the octave down into 64 intervals rather than 12. Clearly the music he composed was not in any sense traditional unless you assert that the existence of an octave is a tradition rather than a mathematical fact. In short the assertion is a typical piece of horse dishonesty (or horse puckey if you prefer).

The absurd academic arguments employed (obfuscated by frequent gratuitous philological exhibitionism) to seek to invalidate the core views of the 1954 definition are it seems to me equally dishonest in context - as is the outright false assertion that the 1954 definition uses the expression, much less is founded on views about, "working class".

Even the story about Karpeles allegedly saying that a person was not a folk singer because he had been educated involves a probably malicious slight: I am in no doubt that Karpeles would have been aware of (and largely observed) the distinction between a folk singer and a folksong singer - one used for example in early Martin Carthy sleeve notes.

This is not, however, in principle a "what is folk" thread. It asks "Do purists exist". That can only be answered by knowing what a purist is.

The definitions I cited above centre on a tendency to prohibit or criticise the doing of things save in certain older manners or forms. They do not centre on knowing the difference between derivations. There are two points here. First, the (only sensible, so far) definition of folk music is one of derivation not form or style although some authorities do cite matters of style or form (in particular formulaic expression, and some aspects of the use of modes if you believe that modes exist rather than being choices of notes in a scale) as indicating probable derivation. Second the interaction between the correct use of the expression "folk music" and the word "purist" depends on what is sought to be prohibited or criticised. Int he examples given above there are two main strands of criticism or prohibition.

The first type of prohibition or criticism is that a work is not "folk" (or as in the case of the Singers' Club part of the community of the singer). The furthest anyone has gone on this thread is Jim, and he has not suggested that a song should be banned from any assembly merely because it was not folk. On the contrary, although he admits all folk song (although I wonder how far I'd get in County Clare with some "traditional" British Army songs if I knew any) he also admits "folk-alike" songs that are stylistically close enough. Possibly Bob Copper might have gone further.

We may therefore conclude that we cannot find an example of anyone who seeks to exclude works that are not "folk". There remain, then, only those who seek to exclude for matters of style or form (including "you're doing it wrong" and "those aren't the right words").

That conceivably does fall within the core of the definitions I gave. I've never had anyone tell me, although I do get told that I do some things differently from typical renditions, that I shouldn't do it my way. I know someone who claims to have been firmly glared at by Bob Copper for doing "The Cuddy Wren" with a guitar, but perhaps Bob just didn't like the way the guitar was being played (OK, that's tongue in cheek in case the person is reading this).

The evidence on that would seem to be that although such people do exist, they are rare, but more particularly that their objections are nothing to do with whether something is folk music. So can we leave horses out?


10 Jul 11 - 04:35 AM (#3184736)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"and then displaying all the traits discussed in this thread isn't answering anything"
Don't suppose you'd care to give me any examples of which particular stereotype I fit into and why.
I love and have always encouraged accompanied songs - hardly an indication of "purism".
I've always argued that it is important to continue making songs using folk forms, otherwise the genre will stagnate. The most well known of our residents wrote far more contemporary songs than any singer/songwriter I know, which range from ones that are regularly mistaken for traditional, to those which are sung world-wide, including one that made number one (twice) in the charts (and his fortune).
After half a century I have come to accept a definition which fits the music I have been listening to for most of my life, and which also fits the information we have been given by the traditional singers we have intervied over the last thirty-odd years - no need to take my word on this; the interviews are freely availably for access in the British Library if you are in the UK and in a couple of archives in Ireland if you happen to be passing.
It is the music that fits into that definition that I have thought worthwhile listening to, performing and making accessible to wider audiences - the success of that music here in Ireland seems to prove that, in spite of the sneers and the name-calling, it hasn't anywhere near reached the end of its shelf-life yet.
I was interested to see that the traditional music event which has been occupying my time lately, The Willie Clancy Summer School (a 39 year-old, week-long annual feast of music classes, song workshops, lectures, exhibitions, recitals and jam-packed pub sessions, topped off with a concert of Irelands finest traditional singers and musicians), made page two of The Irish Times yesterday while the Oxegen knees-up at Puncherstown only made page seven - where did we go wrong, I wonder?      
Jim Carroll


10 Jul 11 - 05:24 AM (#3184745)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

each individual word I used was traditional and the grammatical structures I used likewise.

By jove I think he's beginning to get it! We use language as Innocently as the Elliots once used Folk Song, but each and every one of us is a master of it - able to compose entire sentences as quick as we can say them. Thing is, we might not be aware of such Linguistic terms of noun-phrase or bi-labial fricative but that doesn't mean we can't use them; we might even be aware of Grimms Law or which words we use are Romance or whatever, but that doesn't effect or ability to use them in a sentence.

for example there was some years ago a South American composer who decided to break the octave down into 64 intervals rather than 12.

Feast your eyes, ears & intellect on the music of Harry Partch, who using Pythagorean theory divided the octave into 43. The reason he did this? 1) to more accurately reflect the inflections of human speach patterns which (he felt) had come adrift in Western Music traditions (Opera in particular) and 2) so he might use Perfect intervals in his music rather than (say) the compromised thirds of the tempered scale. Now Musical Maverick he may have been, but in every aspect of his work Partch was drawing heavily on tradition, even the tradition of musical outsider eccentricity in which he might sit alongside such philosophical innovators as Sun Ra and Moondog - both of whom were ultra-traditionalists when it came to the core of their thinking and compositional approaches and allegiances - as was Harry Partch, whose music was the direct creative consequence of that which preceded it just as all musics are in terms of pure process and tradition which is why Partch is an integral figure in the Tradition of New World Classical music.

Even the story about Karpeles allegedly saying that a person was not a folk singer because he had been educated involves a probably malicious slight

The Karpeles story was related on one of these threads by the singer themselves. Not sure which thread it was now (1954 and all That?) but they offered it in the context of a wider discussion on Karpeles and her ideas regarding Folk Purity. The discintion of Folk Songer / Folksong Singer is always going to a weird one, given that the Elliots only became Folk Singers when Ewan MacColl told them they were. The rest of us have elected to be Folksong Singers on account of our enthusiasms for the idiom, and for the essential respect for the old innocent singers thereof (one wonders if the Elliots were still Folk Singers when they became aware that they were?) However, there are Revival Traditions which in themselves can be the source of a Purist Snobbery which we all might be prone to...

For example only yesterday we met up with old friends in MCR and consequently I was rather pished by the time we made it into Fopp where, inebriated into Steamfok nostalgia (or whatever) I bought the 3 CDs by the John Renbourn Group earlier mentioned in my Steamfolk thread. Playing Maid in Bedlam in the car on the way home I remembered once hearing a woman singing Black Waterside as Jacqui Mcshee sings it on that recording - with the la-la-las and all. My God, I almost choked on my pint, but such sloppy sourcing is no cause for derision, surely? Her idea of Folk was singing Jacqui McShee songs; she also sang Cruel Sister to the tune of Lay the Bent to the Bonny Broom, and once complained at me for singing her song to the wrong words when I sang Lay the Bent as given in the Northumbrian Minstelsy (Child #1). Was I purist for advising her to be more dilligent in sourcing her rep? Hmmm... Guilty as charge m'lud... The shame, the shame...

*

I notice on one of the John Renbourn Group CDs they sing a translation of Machaut's Douce Dame Jolie by one Anne Lister. Is that 'our' Anne Lister? I know she has a background in medieval studies. Very nice it is too, but maybe the purist would rather hear it sung as Machaut intended? That's the thing with the tradition of New Testament Revival Folk - it's been done in so many ways the whole notion of purism becomes laughable - and yet, and yet...


10 Jul 11 - 05:51 AM (#3184749)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

But none of that makes the sentence traditional nor the tune we compose traditional. That is so obvious that it must undermine any bona fides that your argument might otherwise have.

Your distortion of the impact of the application of a term to the Elliots is likewise contumelious.

I have no respect for your arguments, or your irrelevancies, although I am mildly gratified to see that you are trying to understand the difference between a folksinger and a folksong singer. That in itself appears to indicate that you might actually know what folksong is and so that your sesquipedalian arguments are not bona fide.


10 Jul 11 - 06:42 AM (#3184765)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

But none of that makes the sentence traditional nor the tune we compose traditional.

As I say, The Tradition is the stuff that songs are made on, not the songs themselves which are but the consequence of that tradition. For any tradition to live those songs exist as fluid consequences of the creative processes and conventions which are its life and soul.

That is so obvious that it must undermine any bona fides that your argument might otherwise have.

Obvious as a convention but only in a canonical sense. We have the Canon of Folk Song as given to us by the Old Testament Revival and the collectors thereof, but those songs are only a bunch of random samples from the Tradition that made them, they are not the Tradition in and of themselves. Those collected songs are but snap-shots, mere stills and glimpses isolated from the fluidity of musical process, and imperfect ones at that.

Your distortion of the impact of the application of a term to the Elliots is likewise contumelious.

Only in respect of Folk Heresy I'm sure.

I have no respect for your arguments, or your irrelevancies,

Likewise I'm sure.

although I am mildly gratified to see that you are trying to understand the difference between a folksinger and a folksong singer.

I'm running with the Revival Convention of such matters anyway, otherwise in the broader scheme of universal musical creativity it doesn't mean that much to me other than the Old Folk Singers are generally more fun to listen to than the New Ones. Old Testament Folk Song - be it Harry Cox or Phil Tanner or Alfred Deller or Jack Langstaff or John Jacob Niles or Seamus Ennis - have something else going on which is largely absent from the New Testament MOR approach; at least to my ears anyway. Of course there are exceptions - Jim Eldon, Peter Bellamy, Mike Waterson, Dave Peters et al. So in many ways the distinction is purely an aesthetic one, though I will always consider Context as a crucial factor - so someone like (say) Davie Stewart becomes a hero for me, but in the same sense the others do too - Bellamy, Eldon... In terms of Pure Music though, those distinctions don't really bother me in the slightest.

That in itself appears to indicate that you might actually know what folksong is

What it actually shows that I know what YOU think a Folk Song is and what The Colonial Revival thinks a Folk Song is. I'm well acquainted with the conventions, orthodoxies and the canons of The Revival but I don't agree with the conclusions, much less that other songs sung by the Old Singers can't be considered Folk Songs, nor, for that matter, why many songs sung by New Singers CAN and, indeed ARE. After all, athiests can be Theologists too.

and so that your sesquipedalian arguments are not bona fide.

Damn right they are, all the more so because I love and sing this stuff too. In essence I'm a passionate folky for whom the Old Songs & Ballads represent a pinacle of artistic achievement in all their glorious diversity. To see them reduced to MOR easy-listening mush for a elite minority of baby-boomers breaks my heart. I think this goes back to first hearing June Tabor sing Plains of Waterloo in the same gig as The Band Played Smalzting Matilda (certainly they're both on the same record). Maybe I was 14 or so at the time, but in instantly loving the former I instantly despised the latter, and I still do, and can't see why the two should ever be associated. Still, each to their own, eh?

S O'P (for Purist, acknowledging the Joys of Folk Analysis)


10 Jul 11 - 07:04 AM (#3184777)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

You substitute an invented term "old songs and ballads" for the correct one "folk song". That adds nothing and loses much since it loses the correlation between folk song and folk music on the one hand and folk arts and folklore generically on the other. Schmaltzy Matilda (I like the coinage) is a fine song in its own way and there's nothing inherently evil in singing it - and if your own arguments are right then it is a traditional song. Reductio ad absurdum.


10 Jul 11 - 07:21 AM (#3184784)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Howard Jones

Suibhne, your argument that all music is traditional, whilst I can understand it, is not helpful to this discussion. You know full well what I mean by "traditional" in this context.

Your statement that defining folk is "as easy as ABC, elementary musicology" flies in the face of everything you've said on this thread and elsewhere. Besides, you are the one who has consistently berated academics and collectors for their lack of understanding. And

Despite this you yourself see everything in terms of an academic definition - because folk is the Music of the People, what is termed "folk music" should embrace whatever music The People now enjoy. This completely disregards that the purpose of folk clubs is to present a particular type of music, not to be an extension of folkloric or ethnomusicological studes. In this they are no different from other music venues, be they jazz clubs, rock venues or classical concert halls. It is not being "purist" (at least not in the derogatory sense) to expect that someone wishing to perform at a folk club should play folk music, or something close to it.


10 Jul 11 - 07:27 AM (#3184786)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Will Fly

someone wishing to perform at a folk club should play folk music, or something close to it

Hah. The McGuffin, around which all Mudcat discussions of folk tend to revolve endlessly.


10 Jul 11 - 08:07 AM (#3184797)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

You substitute an invented term "old songs and ballads" for the correct one "folk song".

There is no correct here, only to the fundamentalist. Hmmm - fundament / mentalist seems to as good a term for Anally Retentive as any, especially in this context don't you think?

That adds nothing and loses much since it loses the correlation between folk song and folk music on the one hand and folk arts and folklore generically on the other.

Have you read Trubshaw's Discovering Folklore? If not, recommend you do. It only comes unstuck (ironically) when discussing Folk Music, where he gets more hung up on content than context. Folk Arts is a deplorable term anyway - reactionary post-modernism at its worst, and quite patronising too. We had a lovely thread about it a while ago. Folklore, again, is more about outsider observation, interpretation and misunderstanding of feral events by way of containing them in academic terms and thereby reconstructing them in that image. It isseldom about what it means to the people who it, in which case there'd be nothing to write, or else too much, and the whole notion of Folklore would evaporate, as I believe it should. Folklore is either Everything Everywhere, or it is Nothing Nowhere. As a singer of Old Songs and a teller of Old Stories and lover of Old Rites and Riots, I go with the later every time!

Schmaltzy Matilda (I like the coinage) is a fine song in its own way

No it isn't, it's a fecking dreadful piece of mawkish tripe that only comes in useful for parody as in Ron Baxter's masterful Morecambe.

and there's nothing inherently evil in singing it - and if your own arguments are right then it is a traditional song. Reductio ad absurdum.

I never said it wasn't a Traditional Song - just not an Old One; it's certainly a New Testament Folk Song, sung to the point of laboured idiomatic cliche (as you keep saying Folk is never about quality or musical preference) but I do believe its inherent evil lies in the thuggish assumption that a random smattering of listeners have to weep along with mawkish sentiments. Thing is, being a Revival in the religious sense, in my experience, they generally do.

*

PS -

Your distortion of the impact of the application of a term to the Elliots is likewise contumelious.

Make no mistake, I have every respect for The Elliots, but not for the system by which they were selected and exalted. I despise the implication of Folk Purity and co-opting of select individuals and familes simply to prove a point. It's rather like Disney's cameramen driving lemmings over a cliff to substantiate a myth. In the context of their Culture and Community the Elliots remain remarkable, but only one tiny small piece of a much bigger jigsaw that is the rich and wondrous culture & musical traditions of the Durham & Northumbrian Coalfield which was my natural born home - a culture that must include everything from Tommy Armstrong to The New Blockaders.

I have no respect for your arguments, or your irrelevancies,

Thinking about this again, I have every respect for yours.

*

Suibhne, your argument that all music is traditional, whilst I can understand it, is not helpful to this discussion.

I don't want to helpful, Howard - I'm just pointing out to the anchorites of the Folk World that there are other musics out there, each of them with equally valid claims to being Traditional.

You know full well what I mean by "traditional" in this context.

I know what Folkies mean by it - I also believe they are wrong and quite frequently miss the beauties of the songs they love owing to both a lack of understanding of cultural process and a willingness to believe othodox writ.

Besides, you are the one who has consistently berated academics and collectors for their lack of understanding.

Yes, but look at the reasons why.

This completely disregards that the purpose of folk clubs is to present a particular type of music,

No it doesn't - and chance would be a bloody fine thing if that was the case. As I keep saying, I only go to Folk Clubs to play and hear a particular type of music, but the reality is seldom so straightforward. In fact, it was only coming to Lancashire and hearing all the other myriad approximations of musical styles that were performed in the name of Folk over here (as well as the geral disinterest in Old Songs and Ballads) that made me realise I had to loosen up or else go insane. In the end, I chose the latter option, especially when we found what is now our Perfect Folk Club in the perfect pub. However in the wider context of Human Society there is more to be considered by the Folklorist Ethnographer than the interests of a minority of enthusiastic hobbyists - such as myself and every other Folkie great and small.

Off out to enjoy the day now, back later, or tomorrow, depending how we get on.


10 Jul 11 - 09:31 AM (#3184811)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

Oh, there goes "find the lady" again.

You brought the issue of "what is folk" in in place of "what is a purist". Now you want to talk about "what is old". In this context, because the discussion had diverted to the folkish essence in purism the CORRECT term is "folk song": otherwise you are changing horses in midstream.


10 Jul 11 - 10:46 AM (#3184839)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion

As you know, I don't think the DIY argument ['it's better than you could do anyway'] holds any water: Dr Johnson on tables applies [google it if you don't know it].

But Sean, I believe you stake some claims to be an original maker. So let me know when you have come up with anything ·00001% as god as "The Band Played...'; and, yowzer, will I ever be impressed.

Regards

~Michael~


10 Jul 11 - 11:28 AM (#3184857)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Have you all nae heard of Archie Plum?
Who did muckle talking through his bum....


10 Jul 11 - 12:30 PM (#3184884)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

I was interested to see that the traditional music event which has been occupying my time lately, The Willie Clancy Summer School (a 39 year-old, week-long annual feast of music classes, song workshops, lectures, exhibitions, recitals and jam-packed pub sessions, topped off with a concert of Irelands finest traditional singers and musicians), made page two of The Irish Times yesterday while the Oxegen knees-up at Puncherstown only made page seven - where did we go wrong, I wonder.   
excellent news jim


10 Jul 11 - 04:14 PM (#3185014)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Continuity Jones

Folk is like tomatoes. Tomatoes struggle to grow in the wild in most countries, but do ok if they're propagated and covered and watered and tendered. They're quite good fun to do, but not real wild tomatoes. Folk music today is like that. It's a long way from the real wild tomato that people claim it once was and some pretend it still is. Some people like to propagate and protect and water and tender and pretend they're wild tomatoes and others like to buy tins of Heinz Tomato Soup.

I hope that has made it clear.


10 Jul 11 - 04:29 PM (#3185025)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"and some pretend it still is. "
Perhaps you - or somebody would like to explain exactly what being "a purist" is and what we should be doing to become "impure" in order to satisfy those who obviously disapprove of us doing what we do - no luck so far, but here's hoping.
Jim Carroll


10 Jul 11 - 04:30 PM (#3185029)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: BTNG

Do purists really exist?

like legends, only in their own minds


10 Jul 11 - 04:44 PM (#3185036)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

But Sean, I believe you stake some claims to be an original maker.

Not really - at least not songs anyway; I sing Old Traddy Folk Songs and that's about it, though I did make a song called Porcupine in October Sycamore which can listen to (and read about) HERE, though I doubt it'll appeal to anyone on Mudcat.

My main objection to The Band Played WM is the bullying sentiment of the thing and the assumption that we all must agree with those sentiments. I like stories without an agenda, or just a bunch of images, or both. This is one of my reasons for liking the Old Songs, which usually I'm quite happy to call Traditional Folk Songs / Ballads out of deference to convention but not credo. My reasons for loving these songs is as much aesthetic as it is social, and consequently I favour those Folk Clubs where they dominate to the point of exclusivity.


10 Jul 11 - 05:14 PM (#3185048)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

Bullying? It tells a story from a point of view (as do many of the Irish Republican songs that I hate). What's your problem?


10 Jul 11 - 05:16 PM (#3185049)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards

it was only coming to Lancashire and hearing all the other myriad approximations of musical styles that were performed in the name of Folk over here (as well as the geral disinterest in Old Songs and Ballads) that made me realise I had to loosen up or else go insane. In the end, I chose the latter option

Hmmm...


10 Jul 11 - 06:34 PM (#3185102)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

It doesn't tell a story so much as labour a point. There is a world of difference. POW tells a story; whereas TBPWM negates the narrative completely by miring it in meaning. I'm not a great fan of political songwriting - I love Robert Wyatt, but when he gets political I switch off. Please note though, my dislike of TBPWM is purely personal and has little bearing on this present Sunday sub-discussion much less the thread as a whole.

Now, what were we talking about again?


11 Jul 11 - 01:22 AM (#3185237)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Brian

My smug purist days came to an end one evening at the Singers' Club in London in the 70s - run by Ewan and Peggy, and pretty damn hardline on the subject of traditional music and sing-what-you-know - when Loudon Wainright III sang 'Dead Skunk In the Middle Of the Road' and got an ovation and two encores...


11 Jul 11 - 02:25 AM (#3185249)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion

"a fecking dreadful piece of mawkish tripe" ...

"I'm not a great fan of political songwriting "

Sweeney on TBPWM.
,,,,
Trouble is, Sean, you will undermine your case by gross hyperbolic overstatement, then climbing down in a shake of a lamb's tail when challenged ~~ see above. Sabotages all the possible effect of your verbosity.

Then

=="Please note though, my dislike of TBPWM is purely personal and has little bearing on this present Sunday sub-discussion much less the thread as a whole.
Now, what were we talking about again? "==

you climb down further by declaring what you have said irrelevant anyhow and trying to change the subject.

It won't do, you know. I mean, dash it, it just won't do!

Regards

~Michael~


11 Jul 11 - 03:14 AM (#3185258)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"and pretty damn hardline......"
Such stuff as dreams are made on!!
As a long time supporter and organiser, occasional resident and regular visitor to the Singers Club from the late 60s to Ewan's death in 1989, certainly hardly ever missing a club night in the 70s, this is the first time I have heard that Loudon Wainright ever went near the Singers Club - Dylan maybe, but that was earlier.
MacColl and Seeger individually wrote more songs than anybody else in the revival.
They regularly appealed for new songs at the club and issued those they were given in 20 editions of Singers Club sponsored 'New City Songster', edited by Peggy, between 1969 and 1984.
After Ewan's death Peggy published two selections of songs they had written, one of around 200 of Ewans and another 150 of her own.
Along with accompaniment classes and seminars, they ran regular songwriting classes.
If they were such dyed-in-the-wool traditionalists, they had an extremely weird way of going about it, doncha think?
I can't think of one individual singer, club or organisation that went to anything like the trouble to promote the making of new songs; can you?
Jim Carroll


11 Jul 11 - 03:16 AM (#3185259)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Keith A of Hertford

Like No Man's Land, TBPWM is a brilliantly written song in the style of the tradition.
My objection to both is that they are written as if putting words into the mouths of those about whom they are written.
They re-write history from a perspective that barely existed at the time of the events.

You can argue that individuals may have held such views, but not that they were at all representative.


11 Jul 11 - 03:24 AM (#3185261)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion

Keith: I think you have misrepresented the perspective of Band Played... "that barely existed at the time of the events". The song is surely retrospective, not viewed from from POV of when the events occurred.

~M~


11 Jul 11 - 03:43 AM (#3185262)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Keith A of Hertford

It's story is told in first person Michael.
Your challenge could fairly be made aginst my mention of No Man's Land.


11 Jul 11 - 03:46 AM (#3185263)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Keith A of Hertford

Although it does make the narrator a surviving veteran.


11 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM (#3185264)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion

It's story is told in first person Michael.===

Yes; beginning with an old man saying 'when I was a young man', and relating his present perspective on the long-past events. Nothing to do with the perspective people had at the time of the events: tho I can't see they would have had more than one probable 'perspective' on losing their legs & wishing they had died instead, at that.

I am afraid I just cannot grasp your point here at all.

~M~


11 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM (#3185265)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

Just got back from a phenomenal weekend of folk, roots and acoustic at Moonbeams Wold Top Folk Festival high up in the Yorkshire Wolds. Here performers across a wide age spectrum played to a lively audience with a similar age profile. "Pure" folk it may not have been but it was pure enjoyment. Much of the audience and many of the performers were local and the "sense of place" was brilliant (even the beer was brewed on the premises).

This was certainly not folk that needed an iron lung to keep it alive as you can see if you have a listen to these 4 amazing teenagers:

4 Square


11 Jul 11 - 04:06 AM (#3185270)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Keith A of Hertford

It was not much of a point M. Sorry.

There are a number of songs about WW1 that are written from a modern perspective, that suggest the soldiery lacked any understanding of what they were fighting for and that there was no cause anyway.
I do regard EBs songs as falling into that category, is all I was trying to say.


11 Jul 11 - 04:16 AM (#3185272)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

I agree with Jim.(you may frame this Jim).

Ewan and peggy were all right. They were the first people to publish one of my songs. Although they were a bit surprised to find out that I wasn't black, because I'd written a calypso using the patois of the kids i used to teach in Brum.

If they were purists - I'd settle for being a purist. Doubtless they had limitations - but that goes with being human.

I can't really see where this thread is going, except as a vehicle for me writing silly poems - which i do anyway.

I'm not sure what the detractors of the Eric bogle song are saying - matilda was in the same edition of NCS as my song (Ithink) - either that or the Barrie Robberts/Bill caddick Songsmith magazine.

The only point of view it expresses is that people were shocked and saddened by young men being killed and maimed in great numbers in WW1. That point of view didn't exist at the time - we all just swelled with pride at the heroic sacrifice - i don't think so Keith.

The sense of waste and the misery of bereavement - I think they were around at the time. In fact i can testify from accounts of my own family members that they were.

Have you all nae heard of Archie Plum?
Who did muckle talking through his bum....

I had trouble finishing that one. I did think:-

Och! the voice had a wondrous Hieland lilt
an' was muckle strange, comin' frae his kilt...

(Ewan could do Scotch accents.)


11 Jul 11 - 04:41 AM (#3185281)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Keith A of Hertford

Not denying the tragedy of suffering and loss Al, and don't want to drift an important thread.
I do deny that there was a common sense of lack of purpose, apart from the intellectual elite of the war poets.
There are many collections of letters published.
I found this collection in seconds.
An Aussie Anzac in Gallipoli.

http://www.smythe.id.au/letters/15_33.htm


11 Jul 11 - 04:41 AM (#3185282)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Spleen Cringe

I know this is further deviation from the thread, but... I'd always assumed EB was pretty conversant with the works of those WW1 poets who tried to capture the horrors of what they were experiencing when he wrote those songs - and that his perspective was influenced by theirs. So they could be seen as a reframing of one particular set of contemporary accounts with the added dimension of 50 years or so worth of hindsight (including Australia's involvement in Vietnam).

I guess they'd pass muster as contemporary songs that nod in the direction of old folk songs of the English speaking world or whatever you want to call 'em. And I've always thought that Aussies were particularly good at a certain type of mawkishness.

Meanwhile, I doubt purists exist, partly because virtually anyone can find someone else to apply the label to in order to distance themselves from it. From the perspective of the outside world, I'd hazard a guess that even the most 'impure' folkie would seem pretty, um, quaint. And I reckon that even the most rigorous folkie also enjoys some other stuff too - the differences are purely about cataloguing rather than about the music itself, and I would suggest that it is up to each individual what they catalogue where, and indeed even whether to bother to catalogue. After all, folk has been a disputed term - amongst those to whom disputing it matters - for over fifty years. Then again, I'm not a music academic and I catalogue pretty randomly.


11 Jul 11 - 04:50 AM (#3185284)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon

On the Bogle song drift. Keith also seems to opt to ignore this verse in TBPWM:
And now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reliving dreams of past glory
The forgotten heroes a forgotten war
And the young people ask , "What are they Marching for?"
And I ask myself the same question

This is hardly suggesting the narrators view was the prevailing view of his comrades - even years after the event.


11 Jul 11 - 05:02 AM (#3185287)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Keith A of Hertford

Not ignoring it Jon, but fair comment.

Did you ever hear a modern song of WW1 that did take "the prevailing view of his comrades" ?


11 Jul 11 - 05:05 AM (#3185290)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Like No Man's Land, TBPWM is a brilliantly written song in the style of the tradition.

It's written in some style anyway, but if you mean The Tradition as used by FolkTrad types to designate those Collected Canonical Songs we call Folk Song, then I might question that on any number of structural points. But the rest of your post does that perfectly so I'm not going to do it. As well as putting words in mouths, it puts thoughts in heads or else preaches to the converted. I only brought it into the discussion as I first it sung by June Tabor in the filthy back-room of a pub somewhere in the Northumbrian coal-field when there was still a working colliery (with steam trains) nearby. She sang it alongside The Plains of Waterloo, if not in the same breath, then in the same set. It's certainly on the same album (I still have a copy of the record as bought from her that night). So - Plains of Waterloo on one hand - The Band Played Waltzing Matilda on the other. I was just a kid - 14/15 or so - but my dislike of the latter song was instant and enduring; 35 years on I detest it still, whereas even the John Renbourn Group version of Plains of Waterloo (with its OTT programmatic arrangement of fifes, drums &c.) still manages to move me. Better still, Shirley Collins; better still, June Tabor herself; but best of all was the nameless (to me) (male) floor-singer who wasted me with it at The Bay Hotel Folk Club in Cullercoats around 1985 or so.

Thing is, I know my dislike of TBPWM marks me as a Purist; even in the first instance my reaction was one of what's the fecking point? Much less - so what?. Especially as POW was so strong regarding the subjective human aspect of war, without turning that into some unweildy political point about its wrongness. War is never a matter of absolute wrongness, it is always matter grim necessity and individual opinion of All Shades, even unto the Bullying righteous opinions of white-poppy wearing pacifists for whom TBPWM is gospel. Also when I was 14/15 I used to have a friend - an old man in a wheelchair who'd lost both his legs and half of his face at the Dunkirk Evacuation some 35 years earlier. We used to sit in the sun in a local graveyard and smoke and talk; me the slovenly hippy Gong-freak with a penchant for local history & folklore, and he the living hero who'd been blown to bits when he was 15 (having lied about his age in his eagerness to enlist) in a war against an entrenched evil that had ended a mere 16 years before I was born. I cannot begin to comprehend that sort of sacrifice, but I know that I could not have live the sort of life that I have done all these years without it. To him and millions of others, I owed my very freedom; and Dear God he was not bitter, but proud. Working it out now I realise that if he'd been 15 at Dunkirk, he was only 50 when I knew him - the same age (almost!) that I am now.

One thing I will not do is write a fecking song about it. Life is life. It goes on. My love of The Old Songs (a term used by many Traditional Singers I believe, Richard - one certainly used by Bob Copper in his poem of that name : see Here if for some reason that one has somehow passed you by. Imagine if using THE CORRECT term it was The Folk Songs - just would have the same punch, would it?) is largely one of poetic immediacy - no agendas, similies, wonky poetic metaphors unless by way of circumlocution (Seeds of Love is pure hard-core filth in this respect) and pure textual jouissance. Kipling caught this; & others have too. To me its high art, and in any case the first thing I want to do when told by a righteous idealogue like Billy Bragg not to buy The Sun, is to go out and buy The Sun. That's not why I listen to music, nor is it part of my political world view (best summed up in Kipling's poem A Pilgrim's Way) much less my musical one (which, right now, enjoys those three lost early Krafwerk albums on a par with Miles Davis early 70s electric period and the chamber music of Henry Purcell) in which Folk Music was only ever a small part, which is maybe the key here. What is the dominant music in your life? What proportion of your musical life is given over to Folk? I'd say it's never been more than 20%, and these days it's settled to around 10%, which is where I reckon it belongs. Even in its Innocence, folk was only ever a small part of a much bigger cultural reality without which I'd say it's pretty meaningless.


11 Jul 11 - 05:21 AM (#3185293)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

This is hardly suggesting the narrators view was the prevailing view of his comrades - even years after the event.

The song is not aimed at comrades, rather the captive folk audience who find such sentiments deeply moving. Personally I find manipulative, and cynical. A cheap trick if ever there was one. Same with the other one about Willie McBride. Whenever such songs are sung, I head for the bar and hope there's no one in earshot of the singer who's ever lost any one in wars old and new. It happened once in my experience, during the Falklands, when a solfier's wife out with her roudy mates took exception to the anti-war righteousness of the folkies - and rightly so. Was life ever so simple?


11 Jul 11 - 05:28 AM (#3185295)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

PS - There are lots of poignant War songs that aren't Traditional as such: Bellamy's setting of My Boy Jack is potent; as is Hamish Henderson's Fairwell to Sicily. Both of which I sing.


11 Jul 11 - 06:21 AM (#3185307)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman

Re. political songs, I've never been a fan either. A good song can rarely serve two masters and the cause of art and polemics generally means quality takes a nosedive.


11 Jul 11 - 06:39 AM (#3185311)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

I'd totally disagree with you there, Glueman. The Oysterband's performance at Moonbeams Festival on Friday had some excellent political songs that were greatly appreciated. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that political songs are the corner stone of contemporary folk music.


11 Jul 11 - 06:40 AM (#3185312)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman

"I was constantly reminded of the story told about that lovable wit Rev. Sydney Smith, who was strolling along a narrow street around 1800 with a colleague when they heard two women leaning out of their opposite windows and screaming insults at each other.

'These two ladies will never agree,' Smith commented, as the debate raged over his head, 'for they are arguing from different premises'."
Stolen from the excellent site in the link:


Skeptical Investigations


11 Jul 11 - 07:34 AM (#3185329)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I think the premesis joke was one of Flann O' Brien's; if it occurs to me I'll post a reference, but as I recall it's in The Best of Myles.

In fact, I'd go so far as to say that political songs are the corner stone of contemporary folk music.

I think you're right there, theleveller - which is maybe why I don't get along with it, much less the conservative left-wing religiosity it implies. Folk religiosity is one thing; political reliosity is another. Even an innocuous song about a Certain Pigeon (also in the Tabor Songbook) becomes a vehicle for leaden political sentiment. I can't think of many Contemporary Folk Songs that don't do this, apart from the Funny Ones which maybe I despise even more, although I admit Ron Baxter's parody of TBPWM is a thing of true genius. That said, I also admit that, as far as Folk Parodies go, it is, alas, the exception that proves a very prevalent rule.


11 Jul 11 - 07:37 AM (#3185335)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

So are you saying that your political opinions overide your critical faculties?

"the cause of art and polemics generally means quality takes a nosedive"

I think Picasso's Guernica might give the lie to that. Or are you saying that your statement only applies to songs?


11 Jul 11 - 07:58 AM (#3185350)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

So are you saying that your political opinions overide your critical faculties?

Speaking for myself, I see music as being polically humanist by default; if it is co-opted in a right-wing or left-wing cause it loses all meaning. I go into Folk Clubs where I hear as many Anti-War and Poor Working Man songs as I do opinions railing against Political Correctness; even songs that are yet more subtle in their racism (A Mon Like Thee) or Homophobia. It's an uneasy curdling mix for sure, and I would counsel strongly against going there, which is why I seldom do. Kipling is always a minefield in this respect; for example I have two dear friends who see no harm in singing The Ladies, which is something would I never do. Likewise - I know many who sing The Land as a left-wing song, which most obviously it isn't, but that just goes to show how twisted these things can get by way of interpretation or glib assertion. I might argue that racism knows no politics, homophobia likewise, or warn of the nationalistic dangers of Folk in any case, or just remember poor Peter Bellamy, who dared be outspoken in such matters and suffered the consequences.

And can Guernica really be said to be political in that sense? As a monument to those killed under the barbarity of a far greater evil, I think, perhaps not.


11 Jul 11 - 08:26 AM (#3185364)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman

I was thinking particularly about lyrical polemics Leveller. I'm not suggesting overtly political songs can't be great art, just that they so rarely are. Religious songs can fall prey to the same impulse of wanting to hammer home a message but using lyrics as a way of sugaring the pill, which is why I prefer, say, 397 from the Denson Book "There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel's veins: And sinners plunged beneath that flood, Lose all their guilty stains" to "Lord of the Dance".

If there's to be a pill I prefer it bitter than hidden in sugary analogies. Modern political songs tend to be too keen on allusion for my simple tastes.


11 Jul 11 - 08:39 AM (#3185370)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

I really can't see how you can dissociate folk music and politics any more that you could history and politics. Politics, in its widest sense, is an integral part of life. For instance, in 'Liberty Against the Law', Christopher Hill devotes an entire chapter to why the Robin Hood ballads gained such popularity amongst the disenfranchised, and often dispossessed in the mid-1700s, during the time of The Enclosures.

By "widest sense" BTW, I mean wider than the narrow and polarised boundaries of party poltics. And yes, Glueman, there are as many bad political songs as there are good ones and the allusions must be readily understandable now and, hopefully, in the future. A good tune doesn't go amiss, either!


11 Jul 11 - 10:01 AM (#3185398)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Okay then - all human interaction is political be default. As a kid I was brought to believe Christ was the first Communist, then had to cope with the parable of the shekels as being the essence of Capitalism. In the end it's all a matter scale and individual freedom, which is why the older I get I return more and more to my Anarchist roots.


11 Jul 11 - 11:09 AM (#3185445)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

Oh bugger - mow you've gone and brought religion into it as well. Time to reach for the tin hat :)


11 Jul 11 - 11:10 AM (#3185446)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman

Anarchy is a form of conservatism of course.


11 Jul 11 - 01:14 PM (#3185528)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

but you dont understand that anarchism was the final goal of communism, the ideal was that the state would eventually whither away, when people were well educated enough to undertstand that the state was no longer needed, that all peoples actions interacted with others so if everyone thought about other people and the consequences of their actions the state was no longer needed.
in fact anarchy is not just mayhem, as capitalists and thatcherites would leave us to believe, it is the understanding of everyones position in a community, in relation to everyone else it is about consideration for others


11 Jul 11 - 01:38 PM (#3185546)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Exactly so, GSS - both Anarchy and Atheism remain the high ideals of an eventual utopia; no Gods, no Laws, just mutual respect across the board according to prophesies of Bakunin. Now, I wonder where such an idyll of tolerance and inclusity would leave our beloved Folk Music with its holy writs, sacred cows, holy families, gangs of fours, volkish fantasies, cringing deferences, immovable feasts, entrenched hierarchies, absolute correctness and summary excommunications?

Ever heard the Dick Gaughan / Ken Hyder piece News From Nowhere? No that's so political it trascends my usual objections - for one thing it's an instrumental free improvisation, and the underlying ideology of both perps is quite faultless. In this context it's worth having a look at what Dick Gaughan had to say about Peter Bellamy. Read it HERE. Folk Lefties take note....


11 Jul 11 - 01:54 PM (#3185557)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman

But adherents of anarchism are deeply conservative, show me a Crass T-shirt and I'll show you a well brought up public servant in mufti. Anarchy wants to impose its views like all the rest, I say believe what the hell you like, gods, pixies, purism, neo-purism, each to his own in the true sense of individualism before the word was sold off by the pound in Mrs Thatcher's market economy.

Anarchy is just another ideology with a capital letter and a big idea. Gimme small ideas every time.


11 Jul 11 - 02:25 PM (#3185571)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Banjiman

Now..... where were those purists again?


11 Jul 11 - 03:24 PM (#3185614)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Dunno
Haven't found one yet
Jim Carroll


11 Jul 11 - 03:39 PM (#3185623)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I'm presently in the process of persuading our local council to start a Folklore Collection service. So far so good; we've agreed on the broad concepts, and even begasn head-hunting the basic workforce. All we need to now is decide on the colour of the bins. In Tyneside you get Folklore Collection 'igloos' in most car-parks, but we feel being more proactive in the collection process and actually going out into the community will result in both a higher yield and a higher quality of Pure Grade Lore collected. The basic idea is once we've collected enough high grade Pure Folklore, then we'll enter into negotiations with less Lore-rich areas of England to arrange redistribution on a barter basis. Expect to see our lorries on the motorways soon.


11 Jul 11 - 04:29 PM (#3185650)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge

I assume "jouaissance" is used as in the French original. Gosh how exciting.


11 Jul 11 - 05:00 PM (#3185664)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards

I think the premesis joke was one of Flann O' Brien's

It's in At Swim-Two-Birds. The main character spends a lot of time having arguments in bars, and comes up with what he thinks is a killer witticism/put-down - "Your argument is unsound, as it is based on licensed premises". He tries to use it two or three different times, but keeps getting cut off or ignored.


11 Jul 11 - 05:26 PM (#3185684)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

. . . our beloved Folk Music with its holy writs, sacred cows, holy families, gangs of fours, volkish fantasies, cringing deferences, immovable feasts, entrenched hierarchies, absolute correctness and summary excommunications . . .

Wow, this would be worrisome if it was a description of the folk music and dance communities that I'm a part of. Since it's not, it just sounds like an over-active imagination.

To sum up me and almost every traditional folk musician I know:
- Not a purist.
- Not trying to revive anything.
- Don't care what other people play or listen to.
- History and folklore are interesting, but don't have much to do with playing music.
- The only important thing about a performance is that it sound good.
- The 1954 definition is good for discussions, not for music-making.
- Admire skill, but not much into the "stars" of the folk scene.
- We pretty much all like each other.


12 Jul 11 - 04:38 AM (#3185903)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Since it's not, it just sounds like an over-active imagination.

Overly facetious maybe.

At one of the first Folk Clubs I used to regularly sing at, floor singers would face the audience (as is the norm) but in doing so would be standing with their backs to a panel of exalted residents. If that wasn't bad enough, the residents would on a raised stage, whereas the floor-singers would be (as you'd expect) on the floor. I often pondered the mindset that lay behind such an inhuman arrangement and hope we will never see it's like again. That was The Bridge Folksong & Ballad, back in the early 1980s, when it was in the basement, and was accepted as perfectly normal.


12 Jul 11 - 05:10 AM (#3185911)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"I often pondered the mindset that lay behind such an inhuman arrangement ..."

Did you try challenging it, Suibhne, or just brood darkly about: "holy writs, sacred cows, holy families, gangs of fours, volkish fantasies, cringing deferences, immovable feasts, entrenched hierarchies, absolute correctness and summary excommunications ..."?


12 Jul 11 - 05:19 AM (#3185922)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"I often pondered the mindset that lay behind such an inhuman arrangement"
Which, presumably, you have decided was deliberate, rather than a thoughtless or unavoidable making do with the space to hand.
The first jazz club I ever attended (The Liverpool Cavern, in those halcyon pre-Beatle days) was laid out so "the performers would face the audience (as is the norm) but in doing so would be standing with their backs to" - record sleeves of past performers.
It seems to me this thread is made up of such presumptions, the only evidence of there ever having been "purists" being based on an animosity towards those not prepared to 'go with the flow' backed up by apocryphal tales of a far-distant, ill-remembered past.
The validity (or otherwise) of these claims is underlined for me by the tendency of those making such claims to ignore challenges and to scurry off to other threads when asked to put their money where their mouth is.
"Do purists really exist?"
Based on the 'evidence' presented here, no - and they probably never did to any significant extent, other than in the minds of those who feel it necesary to create straw men in order to give vent to their own likes and dislikes at the expense of other peoples' choices.
Jim Carroll


12 Jul 11 - 09:25 AM (#3186024)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Oh, it was very deliberate, Jim - make no mistake about that. And no, Shimrod, to my eternal shame I didn't challenge it, but had a notion that one day I might stand with my back to the audience and face the residents instead - but, sadly, I never did. Instead I sloped off in search of a more human club instead wgich I eventually found at the Wylam Ship and latterly The Colpitts in Durham which provided the blue-prints for my perfect club. Even these days I generally just slope off if I find a club too entrenched in its attitudes and residencies and other such redundant and counter-productive hierachies.

In my experience the more openly human the set up, the better the music, to the extent where our current club (at which we're named residents!) is a jump-in come-all-ye where no-one is favoured above any other and the music is second to none.   Not that we weren't in stellar company at The Bridge back then of course, but I hated it so much that one night I passed on what would have been my debut encounter with Peter Bellamy in favour of staying upstairs and drinking with my BTCV mates. I met PB that night though - when he came up to the bar to seek me out looking for a doss. Imagine that - the great Peter Bellamy, circa 1983, reduced to scrounging a doss from a complete stranger - albeit one recommended from on high, no doubt on account of my liberal approach to dope at the time. One often heard tales back then of staid folkie hosts being horrified on saying yes to PB's request 'Do you mind if I smoke?' In the event he stayed with someone else closer to Newcastle, but well I recall feeling deeply embarassed for the man that no-one 'down below' was prepared to put him up or find him someone who was, just make random suggestions and expect him to make the arrangements himself. Some booking! Read that how you will, but taken with all the other attitudes to PB I've come across over the years I'd say it was pretty unambiguous myself.

Getting back on track...

It seems to me this thread is made up of such presumptions, the only evidence of there ever having been "purists" being based on an animosity towards those not prepared to 'go with the flow' backed up by apocryphal tales of a far-distant, ill-remembered past.

In which case, I'd say you've missed the whole point of the thread, much less the sheer joy of it. The emergent feeling here (one that I abide by myself) is that as far as they exist at all, the Purist is self-styled pedantic jerk who knows SFA about anything. The ones I've met have been misanthropic nerds hung up on notions of correctness so rigid that you knew to them Folk was less a music than it was an OCD. Let's hope they got the help they obviously and so desperately needed. Those who do know and love Folk realise pretty quick that Purism is a complete anathema to the nature of The Beast.


12 Jul 11 - 10:21 AM (#3186069)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

I agree about the self-styled jerks, but I see no reason to equate them purists. False purism is just the jerk's avenue to jerkiness. I imagine they are equally jerky in non-musical aspects of their lives as well.


12 Jul 11 - 10:55 AM (#3186093)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

Whilst looking at another thread a Soundpost Singing Weekend in Sheffield in October was mentioned and I noticed one of the talks is this:

Derailing the tradition: The cost of 'de-bunking'
John Boden
The advent of internet discussion groups has made it infinitely easier for people to track down the lyrics of songs and discuss their origins in a public forum. Whilst this is in many ways a great development, it has also led to the rise of the professional de-bunker, dedicated to dissecting the assumptions and romantic fallacies of other users. Generally they are in the right - but that does not necessarily mean they are right to do so. Folk songs are more than a set of lyrics with a 16 bar tune, they are the evolving common-imaginative possessions of the people. The reductionist instincts of the debunkers are in danger of stifling the imaginative legacy of traditional song and curtailing its future evolution by nailing specimens of song to the immovable tree of fact. Jon Boden speaks up for folk romanticism. (And fully expects to be shouted at.)


12 Jul 11 - 11:09 AM (#3186099)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass

Fascinating stuff Leveller.
As for Folk Romanticism, Boden appears to be pleading the case for 'suspension of disbelief' about real world history? The intersection of fantasy and reality, however romantically desirable, is one we simply are not able to sustain in the contemporary world (which means there will be no more "histories" like Homer for example) it is an intersection which is for the arts to explore independently of the sciences and vice versa I would say - until such time as we all realise we are living a superreal dream (as Bill Hicks down below might argue) perhaps.


12 Jul 11 - 11:26 AM (#3186106)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

I hear what you're saying, livelylass. Maybe I should have posted this on the Steamfolk thread ;)


12 Jul 11 - 11:27 AM (#3186107)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

but I see no reason to equate them purists

I only speak of those who actually used the term Purist themselves, usually when confronting me over some aspect of my work or another. One asked me if my 3-string Black Sea Fiddle was a Bowed Psaltery (an entirely modern invention BTW) and when I told him it wasn't, and told him what it was, he said that as a Purist he was offended by my use of a non-Traditional Instrument to accompany Traditional Song. He himself played the guitar. I pointed out the fallacy of his argument, but didn't take too much pleasure over it because I could feel his world crumbling away as I spoke. No bad thing, eh? But is it really their fault? Like the Folkier members of the BNP, Folk Purists have fallen for the Folk Myth hook line and sinker. These are the people who will tell you that the Black Leg Miner is a true folk song with a thousand variants...

My Steamfolk Thread is but one attempt at embracing what Jon Boden refers to as Folk Romanicism, which I feel is a Very Good Thing and has given us much to be cheerful for over the decades and it continues to do so. My aim is keep cheerful, and keep loving it and enjoying it even though there are times I might slip into serious crisis. Take a deep breath, take time out, then enjoy it all afresh..


12 Jul 11 - 03:01 PM (#3186216)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Oh, it was very deliberate, Jim - make no mistake about that. "
Then perhaps you'd like to explain why it was done?
Jim Carroll


12 Jul 11 - 03:06 PM (#3186217)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: BTNG

"(Jon) Boden appears to be pleading the case for 'suspension of disbelief' about real world history'

it does require a bit of an imagination, but it can be done, unfortunately some folk do lack an imagination


12 Jul 11 - 03:26 PM (#3186226)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass

"unfortunately some folk do lack an imagination"

In point of fact, as a proper mad person (not the official clinical term) I don't lack any amount of imagination! But what I do lack is the desire to bullshit real human people out of their real human histories in order to indulge some cosy little modern middle-class romance about the olden days and "the tradition". All props to the assiduous work of the debunkers and the disabusers of such fanciful indulgences I say, they do the songmakers and indeed their communities (which are not ours), a service in righting certain errors of the revival. That is not to say that I am not in emotional sympathy with the poetry of Bodens take (or what has been presented here of it at least) just not dishonest enough to buy it, at least without knowing much more...


12 Jul 11 - 04:39 PM (#3186261)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Then perhaps you'd like to explain why it was done?

How the hell should I know? It was never explained or accounted for, least of all to me, and they certainly never asked me about it - and neither did I ask them - it was Just The Way it Was, and no doubt always had been since the club's inception back in the Folk New Testament Dawn. Even as late as 1989 (or was it 1990?) I remember feeling the eyes of The Bridge Folk Club Residents burning into my back from on high as I droned my way through Binnorie and Wee Wee Man on my hurdy-gurdy. Weird - the experience that is, not the music, though come to think of it...

My ideal folk club is egalitarian and leader / resident free; my current club has its resident regulars (myself & my wife included) but it's small enough to function on the Crack alone,and all hierarchies are born of total and mutual respect and a love of great music. I hate the idea of resident groups opening the night with a surfiet of songs and singarounds where someone is 'in charge' - just kick it off, watch it run; talk about a piss-up in a brewery.


12 Jul 11 - 05:27 PM (#3186288)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman

Re. Jon Boden's quote, I reckon the internet as a whole is a very mixed blessing.


13 Jul 11 - 03:25 AM (#3186470)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"How the hell should I know?"
I am tempted to ask, then how did you know it was deliberate rather than poor judgement and thoughtlessness, but please don't bother.
Excuse my scepticism, but your description of the club sounds like many of the folk/jazz/C&W venues I visited at one time or another, and your Nineteen-Eighty-Four analysis sounds.... well.... odd, to say the least.
Most organisers I knew, me included, after a days work and a bolted meal, found ourselves with barely enough time to rush down to the pub, set the chairs out, organise the float for the door, pin up the record sleeves and the ads for albums for sale... not to mention the in-between work of knocking our songs into shape, sorting out accompaniments, planning our lists - especially when we did feature evenings, publicity, booking guests and arranging accommodation for them...
The idea that we should give any time or thought to laying out our club-room like the 23rd Congress of the CPSU in order to intimidate our audiences, just in case they harboured any notions of coming back the following week...... wellllll...... seems as fanciful as the other claims of "purism" dotted all over this thread.
"I hate the idea of resident groups opening the night with a surfiet of songs and singarounds"
That surely, is your own choice, just as a reasonably organised club with a set policy, a selection of residents of varying abilities, experience and repertoires, feature evenings, facilities to encourage and develop inexperienced singers, archives and libraries to enable the building of repertoires..... has been, and occasionally still is the choice of many of the clubs I have visited and enjoyed.
Personally I detested the policyless, anything-goes goes singaround clubs that didn't have a pool of competent residents to keep things moving and guarantee - or at least, aim that the proceedings never fell below a certain level, but instead based themselves on whoever turned up on the night - I avoided them like the plague and still do.
Jim Carroll


13 Jul 11 - 03:38 AM (#3186478)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Ah yes Jim, but no one expects....... The Spanish Inquisition!

You've got to admit there's some odd coves and wild cards in the pack. Seems our friend got dealt one in his first game. Scarred for life!


13 Jul 11 - 04:31 AM (#3186501)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I am tempted to ask, then how did you know it was deliberate rather than poor judgement and thoughtlessness, but please don't bother.

The Folk Song & Ballad Club in Newcastle was never so casual, much less spontaneous. When I used to go it was held in a featureless basement room (rather than the characterful upstairs clubroom it was held in originally & in which a Bridge Folk Club still meets, but it's nothing like the old one) which was laid out with very specific intention as detailed above. This is not some malicious rewriting of history for some dark nefarious ends; I have no agenda here, other than to report on the most ghastly folk club set up I have ever encountered, and one that was hardly formative of my love of communal music-making based around a shared loved of the Old Songs and Shanties. Despite the stellar calibre of the residents, the set-up was hardly conducive to either fostering an interest in their various idioms (which, to be honest, I doubt was on the agenda back then anyway) or reflecting the egalirarian political ends which were always a prominent aspect of the New Testament Folk Revival. I heard some very good singing there, and grat music, which is why I used to go, but remain eternally baffled by the set up. As to why they did it, I've no idea. I'm not even sure if anyone else felt intimidated by it; as I say, it was an accepted aspect of the club.

That surely, is your own choice

Indeed so, one born of long years of bitter experience. The more openly egalitarian & essentially rule-free a club is, so more encouraging it will be on any number of levels and the more potential there is for reaching Trad Nirvana (in my experience, certainly I've never reached it in any other sort of club). In my current club there is no Trad Only policy as such, but that tends to be the way things happen. Not even sure if you would call it an Unwritten Rule - rather it's just the consequence of what happens when you get a few like-minded souls gathered together who just want a good old blow. It effects the rest of the pub too, and kicks off in rare old style on a regular basis.

Back on thread.

These days the Folk Remit is very wide, even on Mudcat, and I've tried to be accepting of this but (in the words of one old storyteller I one had the privilege of getting drunk with) it's rather like shoving your own shit back up your arse: as unpleasant as it is, ultimately, impossible. Does that mark me out as a Purist? Thing is, I often get called a Purist myself on account (I suppose) of being fond of Old Songs & Old Singers. I once even said to one young singer-songwriter (thus paraprasing Peter Pan) for every new song you sing, and old one dies. Granted I was very drunk at the time, and her repertoir of Old Songs was impressive (and she couldn't have been that offended because she would later become my wife) but in my heart I still carry this notion that Folk is all about the Old Songs, and that the new ones are somehow missing a very essential point. I own, however, that this is very much My Problem, and that to dictate to others is rather like King Cnut (careful with that spelling there) trying to turn back the tide.

Tides are a good thing.


13 Jul 11 - 04:49 AM (#3186515)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion

King Canute [don't be precieux about the spelling, Sean dear] was not trying to turn back the tide ~~ he was demonstrating that it couldn't be done, in order to deflate his flattering courtiers' fulsome assessments of his powers. My late wife Valerie summed it up in her novel Culture Shock [1988]: "History has given Canute the wrong footnote".

~M~


13 Jul 11 - 04:58 AM (#3186520)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

You know, I took out the sentence in my last post which read even as I write this I sense some nit-picking purist will be along presently to tell us all what KC was really up to in his tide-stunt though little did I realise it would be you... Anyway, in terms of Typical Usage and genuine Folklore the KC Metaphor is just as I've used it here, regardless of the historical facts of the case. I like nothing better (whilst wandering the beach at low tide anyway) than drawing KC in the sand and watching the tide wash him away just to remind myself of that very important, though in all events apocryphal, demo.


13 Jul 11 - 05:03 AM (#3186523)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion

the KC Metaphor is just as I've used it here, regardless of the historical facts of the case····
,,,,
Exactly ~~ just what Valerie meant by the wrong footnote! Not like you to denounce getting something right instead of wrong as 'nit-picking purism' ~~ surprised at you!


13 Jul 11 - 05:12 AM (#3186529)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

In common usage the KC Metaphor is simply to do with the futility of turning back tides; he is cast as Graves' Caligula in this respect, waging war with Neptune. Maybe the historical Caligula was like that too. I confess, many mistaken Common Usages do irk me - Green Men for one / Ring a Roses for another - but both of these I fear are the consequence of Folkloric Wonkiness finding its way into the mainstream rather than any feral-thang in and of itself. The Common KC Metaphor (however so mistaken) is totally feral; the others are just bad folkloric-factoids gone awry.


13 Jul 11 - 05:16 AM (#3186531)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion

"common usage" a dangerous concept. Accuracy matters more than commonness [in any sense]. Do not try to turn back the tide of accuracy, or who knows what Pandora's Box will be opened, can of worms stirred up?!...


13 Jul 11 - 05:42 AM (#3186541)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

You see Jim, he was irked by a common usage at an early age - no getting over that....

sounds bloody painful!


13 Jul 11 - 05:46 AM (#3186545)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"You've got to admit there's some odd coves and wild cards in the pack."
There are indeed - but when such a club, with such a (real or imagined) agenda is presented in a thread discussing a genre of (also real or imagined) folkies it needs to be qualified, especially when it accompanied by a preference for a type of club that would have been as far away as you could get from the norm 20-odd years ago. The do-as-you-please singaround type venue would have been a rare enough bird to have a conservation order put on it in those days, and its proliferation in later years has contributed much to the present situation of our no longer being able to choose our 'folk' music, hence the disappearence of our clubs etc IMO.
Jim Carroll


13 Jul 11 - 05:48 AM (#3186547)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I cherish common usage. I first encountered King Canute (if you insist) in the wilds of collective commonality long before he made his ceremonial entrance into the hallowed halls Educational Correctness. It went something like this:
Pedagogue: "Can anyone tell me who King Canutes was?"
30 eager kids with hands raised: "I can! I can! Me! Me!"
Pedagogue: "Okay then - Suibhne - enlighten us."
S O'P (aged 6): "He was a king who thought he was so powerful that he tried to command the very tides but only got wet feet for his troubles."
Pedagague: "Wrong, you malnourished oik!" (lobs blackboard rubber at hapless pupil knocking him to the floor on which he lies, bloodied, but still conscious) "King Canute was not trying to turn back the tide ~ he was demonstrating that it couldn't be done, in order to deflate his flattering courtiers' fulsome assessments of his powers."
And so the nourishing maternal warmth of common usage was betrayed by the dictates of cold hard fact.   

Similarly Ring-a-Roses was a game we played in all innocence before being told (no doubt by the same teacher) that we were, in point of fact, re-enacting the symptoms of the Black Death. Now, whilst I'm pepared to accept the Canute Disparity as being a genuine instance of folklore simplifying history if only to make a more compact analogue, the Ring-o-Roses IPOF I regard as the worst possible sort of myth-making. Indeed, such mythconceptions take hold like Grey Squirrels, choking the life out of our more delicate native Reds, hence the need for a more rigorous approach to the management of the ecology of our cherished Folklore before it too is pushed to the brink of extinction by facts both real and imagined. This is why I continue to draw King Cnut in the sand, to keep common usage alive, at least until the tide comes in.


13 Jul 11 - 05:56 AM (#3186556)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion

Agree re Ring-o-Roses ~~ one of those pieces of Folklore About Folklore, as the great Peter Opie said in an interview I did with the Opies for Folk Review.

BUT one who feels that cannot, with consistency, go along with that vulgar Canute concept.

Kingsley Amis's Lucky Jim, you will remember, based his life on the important precept that nice things are nicer than nasty ones. My principle-of-being is that right things are righter than wrong ones.

~Michael~


13 Jul 11 - 06:00 AM (#3186561)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

"Tides are a good thing."

Indeed they are! They wash away the dross and deposit new and wonderful treasures on the shoreline. The "folk process", as I understand it (probably imperfectly), is a not a tide but a slow-moving stream or, at times, a man-made canal.


13 Jul 11 - 07:49 AM (#3186601)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

My principle of being is that for every person who says something, there'll be another saying the opposite; they can't both be right, but they can both be wrong. Opinions are all very well, but seeking for the provenance of those opinions is even better. That said, for every kid who goes to drifts into innocent slumber on Xmas Eve with comforting thoughts of Jovial Santa Clause leaving gifts of Subbuteo and Action Man beneath the Xmas Tree, there'll be a Folklorist feverishly tossing in his wanking pit about bloodsoaked Siberian Shamans and how Xmas Tree tinsel, baubels &c. are the vestiges of the still warm viscera of sacrificial reindeer (hence the old song Run, Run, Rudolph presumably). I live in avoidance of overly Prescriptive Pagans eager to tell me what things Really Mean, from the Phallic Maypole to the Green Man to Hares to Blacked-Up prattish Morris Dancers.

However - when after many years of genuine blissful Ignorance I discover the real reason that Peter Alolph called his innovative table-top football game Subbuteo (probably on QI) I rejoice at the pure genius of it. But that is different. Unlike Folklore, that is both real and relevant, to my culture, my life, and my times; my community, my folklore, my past and in many ways my future too; it stands as Very Essential Ethnography.

*

The Folk Process is the water that makes my Indian coffee grounds drinkable; it is the rain on my window; it is the stinking stagnant water in my washing up bowl; it is The Tees (the chilly slow brown Tees); it is the Tyne; it is The Wyre; it is The Thames; it is the ice in my whisky; the water on my knee; it is both the clouds and the face of Harpo Marx I once saw therein as a child; it is the bottles of Sparkling Spring Water we buy from Aldi; it is the surging floods now so typical of a British Summer; it is the melt water of the Polar Icecaps that will dilute the Gulf Stream; it is the blizzards of another ice-age; it is the erstwhile permafrost of a million mammoth graves; it is the Holy Water from Lourdes in a plastic bottle shaped like the BVM; it is the leavings in the Baptismal Font; it is the noctural dripping of a distant tap; it is the water off a duck's back...


13 Jul 11 - 07:51 AM (#3186603)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,raymond greenoaken

Suibhne's description of the Bridge at Newcastle in the 70s-80s chimes closely with my own memories of the club. As a performer, having the residents arrayed behind you could be quite intimidating (you half felt they might hold up score cards at the end of your performance...). On the other hand, there was also a feeling that, while you were up there, you were somehow part of this glittering company yourself. You might even call it empowering!

On guest nights, the booked performers would sit among the residents too, and then step forward when their time came. When Ewan MacColl was booked guest, he naturally enough brought his chair with him the to the front and swung it round so he could lean his elbows on the backrest. There was some merriment at this, for some wag had earlier chalked the word "God" on the backrest. Apologies if you've heard this yarn before. I wasn't present on that occasion, so it may be as apocryphal as King Cnut and his wet sandals.


13 Jul 11 - 08:42 AM (#3186628)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Empowering, eh? Maybe it was, up to a point anyway. It wasn't everyone who got to sing though & I recall the club was certainly friendly enough, for the most part anyway, though certain residents often refused my requests for a spot. Back then though one never felt in any way encouraged, so much as tolerated, be it by policy, or because you must have been doing something right, however so - unwittingly. The current gaffer of The Bridge Folk Club tells a tale of me getting up in an Afghan to accompany a 40-verse ballad on a one-string fiddle to the choreographed jaw-dropped horror of the residents behind me, but as I never owned an Afghan I think he must be confusing me with someone else. Also one of my regular employers remembers me from those days too - and yet has consistently employed me these last five years or so.

One thing I do remember is leaving the Bridge Folk Club with my batiked viola to go up to the Anglo-Asian Club (nothing to do with concertinas) on the West Road to do a gig with Rhombus of Dooom, Newcastle's premier Space-Punk band at the time. I've recently received copies of a CD of the gig featuring photos of the band at that time, two of whom are sadly no longer with us.
Here's one: Rhombus AA - 1986 it says. That's me beind the girl on the floor, the late Sue Sayles, reciting her poetry, and the chap standing at the back in the stripey jumper is our bass player Pete who now plays for The Baghdaddies. Och, whit a necht thet wiz!


13 Jul 11 - 10:05 AM (#3186678)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Now i remember the old days when if you sang about anything that happened more than 10 yards away, Ewan macColl would come and sort you out with a set of knuckle dusters, and then Peggy Seeger would come round with a rubber truncheon.

And you know what we loved them for it!

Mind you we had it tough. When people talk about being traumatised by the seating arrangements at a folk club. I think this feng shui bollocks has gone too far.


13 Jul 11 - 12:15 PM (#3186769)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

Jim Carroll wrote,

... The do-as-you-please singaround type venue would have been a rare enough bird to have a conservation order put on it in those days, and its proliferation in later years has contributed much to the present situation of our no longer being able to choose our 'folk' music, hence the disappearence of our clubs etc IMO.
Jim Carroll

Available from K-Tel records, "Now that's what I call purist!"

Thanks Jim, knew you would get there in the end. Who are the "our"?


13 Jul 11 - 01:05 PM (#3186811)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Who are the "our"? "
The several thousand folk fans who drifted away in the eighties because they couldn't find the music they had been listening to at folk clubs any more - along with the radio programmes, magazines, specialist labels and shops...... who else?
Thought fora minute you were coming back to qualify some of your pronouncements - nah - perish the thought - far easier to pin on labels.
Jim Carroll


13 Jul 11 - 01:29 PM (#3186829)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

Ah but is that because the music was no longer folk or that folk music had evolved into something they didn't get?

They wouldn't perchance be purists would they / you?

You see, we are trying to see if purists exist if the thread was ever worth the effort you and others put into it. You describe people who saw folk and decided it wasnt folk. All we have to do is think of a word to describe these poor frustrated people. Any ideas?

I've got one.

But there again, I would have to qualify it and I can only do that by reading your threads Jim. Actually, I have no intention to qualify simple objective observations. If you disagree, fine, but asking me to qualify them can only be in order to disagree even more strongly. That seems a bit indulgent if you don't mind me saying so.

There we have it folks, (or folk?) a purist can now be defined through Jim's assertion that many people said "That's not folk" when faced with evolving folk.

All we need now is M'Unlearned Friend to give us some big words to use for the official 2011 definition and we are laughing.

Or at least I am, I'm about to board a plane to Singapore, and shortly be quaffing my champagne in Raffles class, listening to some folk music via the iPad and wondering if I am allowed to enjoy it because some prat keeps saying folk is about the trials and tribulations of the working class. Not fitting your stereotype doesn't alter my enjoyment of the abstract entertainment I call folk.

At the risk of repeating myself, I reckon Sir Thomas Beecham got it in one when he said "The English don't understand music but they love the noise it makes.".

Quite.


13 Jul 11 - 01:40 PM (#3186838)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Perhaps purists don't really exist.

Perhaps they are a fiendishly clever hologram.


13 Jul 11 - 01:45 PM (#3186844)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Any ideas? "
Yeah - define the music you think I will find if i ever drag my arse to a folk club again.
As I said, I've been long enough at it to think I know what folk music is, and if I'm in any doubt, I can always buy the book or watch the movie - now tell me what you think it is - have asked before, but you scurried off before you could answer.
Enlighten me.
Jim Carroll


13 Jul 11 - 06:34 PM (#3187055)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman

The trick in the Newcastle club would have been to put yourself at the back of the raised dais and perform from there. Singing to the backs of the heads of the great and good who were in turn observing the hoi polloi below them would have been a delight. Of course these things tend only to occur to you in later life when you realise our elders and better not only have feet of clay but brains of the same material.


13 Jul 11 - 06:38 PM (#3187059)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass

"Ah but is that because the music was no longer folk or that folk music had evolved into something they didn't get?"

Or it devolved into something that younger generations couldn't give a shit about, namely tired acoustic covers of sixties pop/rock..


13 Jul 11 - 06:52 PM (#3187068)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Spleen Cringe

"Or it devolved into something that younger generations couldn't give a shit about, namely tired acoustic covers of sixties pop/rock"

I like it!


13 Jul 11 - 06:56 PM (#3187072)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

'tired acoustic covers of sixties pop/rock'

you'd be tired if you'd been listening to traditional music. Of course its allright fou holograms of purists. You don't exist and don't have to listen to all those cyber ballads and all the jigs and reels on your internal hard drive.

Real folksingers like us , who are part of a living tradition and come from singing families that pass on their Beatles cds from generation to generation - we have to put up with all this cybernetic folksong from holograms of purists that don't really exist. Its when the traddies get up to sing and ruin the evening for everybody in decent folk clubs - that's when most people go for a wee - in my experience.


13 Jul 11 - 07:08 PM (#3187082)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards

you'd be tired if you'd been listening to traditional music.

I really wouldn't. I've left folk clubs tired, bored and thoroughly depressed, but never after an evening of traditional music.

I've just looked back at Folknacious's original question, and I think it's a good one. The question is, does anyone actually complain about accompaniment / guitars / electric guitars / drum machines / etc because they're different, or is this a myth put about by musicians who use these things & want to look like rebels?


13 Jul 11 - 07:10 PM (#3187085)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: TheSnail

I know I'll regret this but...

Jim Carroll

I was part of the English scene for thirty five years; I cut down on my folk-club intake when it became all but impossible to go to a folk club and hear a folk song and when the standards plummeted - the right for me to liten to the music I wanted to listen to played half decently was taken from me (thousands of others felt the same and pissed off with me around the same time).

The logic of this has always escaped me. Hundreds of folk clubs were attended by thousands of enthusiasts for real (i.e. 1954 definition) folk music until they were overwhekmed by a deluge of stand up comedians, do-as-you-please singarounds, and people singing Music Hall, Beatles, Dylan, pop and their own songs that (for unexplained reasons) didn't fit the "written in the tradition" style. The clubs were left empty or not playing any actual folk music.

Sorry, don't get it.


13 Jul 11 - 07:29 PM (#3187100)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Stick around, you will get it!


14 Jul 11 - 03:19 AM (#3187209)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

The trick in the Newcastle club would have been to put yourself at the back of the raised dais and perform from there.

That would have been from behind the wall then, thus out in the old Castle Garth somewhere with the ghost of my Great-Grandfather - an Irish Tailor fetched up in Newcastle & running a tailors shop on the old stairs, as mentioned in the old Tyneside Folk Song which simply states: The quayside for sailors / The castle Garth for tailors.

namely tired acoustic covers of sixties pop/rock..

Or music in the Tradition of Tired Acoustic Covers of Sixties Pop/Rock, which is what most people seem to think of as being Folk these days - Easy Listening Singer-Songwriter Style sung by some fat old bloke with a guitar who insists on entertaining the audience with a mix of 90% comedy to 10% music. I'm not thinking of any one person here, just a General Averagee of the 60-something folk-style troubadour who does folk clubs (never without a PA) because a real WMC would eat him up bones and all. At least we holographic traddie purists know our place & would rather be singing to the dead in graveyards or else to the ghosts in ancient ruins, or keening our plaintive minstrelsy midst the shrill cry of fox and hawk 'pon some bleak & blasted heath...

a myth put about by musicians who use these things & want to look like rebels?

Rebel folkies? Help ma kilt! Just the thoughts, although I have met a few of these too in my time - and a merciful few at that. The one thing they have in common is their lack of staying power. During their brief flirtation with folk the Purist is a Strawman based on a handful of accumulated in-cliches and hardly backed up by reality, though a few of the posts here run perilously close to confirming the stereotype. Whilst the Young Folk Rebel is similarly elusive, a fight between these Twa Strawmen would make for a good scene in a Mummers Play, maybe in a few hundred years or so when the technology exists to project these things hologramatically with dazzling CGI special FX so we might watch them, interactively and in life-size hard-light 3D, in the comforts of our own homes.

(for unexplained reasons)

Ceaselesy debated maybe, but hardly unexplained, or even unaccepted...

*

Maybe the bottom line here is that all Folk is boring anyway, year in, year out; hardly the wonder there's always some vampirish thread on Mudcat calling out for young blood. But tedium is Folk's very essence; repetition, nostalgia and (yes) Tradition; those self-same festival spots in the self-same venues to the self-same audiences listening to the self-same songs & laughing at the self-same jokes, year in, year out; even these wee natters on Mudcat have an almost scripted feel about them, like Mummers Plays with hearty announcements of in comes I.... To some it will be This Year's Exciting New Fashion, they'll stop by, have look around, and, if they have any sense, they'll move on; but to others they'll be wearing it for the rest of their lives. And how soon that happens... Think of them as The Permafolk.


14 Jul 11 - 03:40 AM (#3187214)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

"... would rather be singing to the dead in graveyards or else to the ghosts in ancient ruins, or keening our plaintive minstrelsy midst the shrill cry of fox and hawk 'pon some bleak & blasted heath..."

Ha! Best thing I've read in this thread. Thank f**k I'm not the only one! Can't think of anything better than sitting in Rudston churchyard with my back against the monolith singing songs about the surrounding landscape and its people. My folk amongst my folk - sense of place par excellence.


14 Jul 11 - 03:46 AM (#3187217)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

If only they'd stay in the graveyards, leave the arts centres and folk clubs and BBC2 for sentient human beings.


14 Jul 11 - 04:26 AM (#3187234)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass

I'd go to a gig in a graveyard! Supernatural ballads and gory songs for All Hallows Eve please. Bring your own blanket and white cider..


14 Jul 11 - 04:33 AM (#3187237)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Will Fly

Al - you sound like I was when I was aged 9. I was bitten on the hand by a mongrel dog - which so enraged me that, for years afterwards, any dog that growled at me got kicked to Kingdom Come. (I managed to contain my temper after that).

Were you, by any chance, bitten by a folksinger at an early age? :-)

Well, I'm off to the Bradfield Traditional Music Weekend today. 4 days of wall-to-wall sessions. Will I emerge unscathed, or will I get back to sunny Sussex with an uncontrollable urge for a free reed?

Only time will tell...


14 Jul 11 - 04:37 AM (#3187240)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Sorry, don't get it. "
Sorry Bryan - what don't you get?
Are you saying what you describe didn't happen, that the clubs didn't become a dumping ground for any type of music, and the audiences could no longer find what they were looking for (not an "unexplained reason"), or are you claiming that everything that that was performed at a folk club became folk because it was it was performed at a folk club - as has been claimed?
None of this has anything whatever to do with dictionary definitions; it would be "purism" if anyone were to insist that only songs conforming to a definition were performed - never happened in my experience.
People stopped going to the clubs because the term "folk" ceased being a guide to what they would find there; the term never evolved, was never re-defined; it became meaningless (to most of the clubs); it retained its meaning in its literature, documentation and research; that remains the same - it is basically a club phenomenon.
Jim Carroll


14 Jul 11 - 04:41 AM (#3187241)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass

"Or music in the Tradition of Tired Acoustic Covers of Sixties Pop/Rock,"

Titter..


14 Jul 11 - 05:52 AM (#3187277)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

'People stopped going to the clubs because the term "folk" ceased being a guide to what they would find there; the term never evolved, was never re-defined; it became meaningless (to most of the clubs); it retained its meaning in its literature, documentation and research; that remains the same - it is basically a club phenomenon.'

The general consensus amongst people I knew was this series of events:-

1) the folk clubs were packed
2) mr and Mrs Joe Average read Karl dallas's accounts of how wonderful Carthy, Bellamy etc were
3) Mr and Mrs Average turned up at the folk club expecting a sort of superior Anglicised version of peter paul and mary and John Denver and the Spinners and the Corries and 70's TV folk stars.
4) Next week the club was empty.

There are still plenty of folk clubs doing the trad thing. More than enough to cater for what is a very minority taste. Also they get huge chunks of media exposure - they've got that tied up very nicely. Most weeks they piss away more creative opportunities than come the way of ordinary English musos in a lifetime.

Nah Will! Never bitten. But i tick all the boxes that traddies hate. I was a pro musician, used variable accents when I sang (probably none very convincing!), used synths, synthetic handclaps, anything i wanted,knew the words of the songs and generally went down quite well - this last one really pissed them off . (Oh well anybody can write silly songs and do gutter entertainment! - i have been informed occasionally)

So its hard not to take personally some of the 'the Tradition of Tired Acoustic Covers of Sixties Pop/Rock" comments.

Stll a space man from mars couldn't tell the difference between me and Bob Dylan or Martin carthy. Take the larger view - we're all in it up the neck.


14 Jul 11 - 06:34 AM (#3187298)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

"If only they'd stay in the graveyards, leave the arts centres and folk clubs and BBC2 for sentient human beings."

This seems to highlight the difference of how we perceive folk music. For me, the context is crucial. I'd much rather sing for my own amusement in a place that has a resonance to the music, or with a couple of like-minded people, than perform it to an audience from a stage. Nowadays, it seems, the emphasis is all too often on performance rather than context, with performers looking more for quantity of audience than quality of individual experience. The music can change perceptibly when it is taken out of, say, a singaround in a local pub or what Suibhne calls 'feral' performances (and I call ruffian music), and is honed and perfected to provide a slick, uniform presentation for mass consumption. Now, all too often, the goal seems not to be the integrity of the music but getting your photo on the cover of fRoots. That's fine, but it doesn't mean that the grassroots 'artisan' side of the music has lost its relevance.

Don't get me wrong – I love watching professional performers, but prefer smaller, more intimate venues where there is a rapport with the audience (last weekend's Moonbeams Festival was a perfect balance, with artists like John Jones of Oysterband jumping off the stage to mingle with the audience and later joining in the late-night singaround).

So don't knock the solitary singer in his/her own little world. I'm just reading Peter Ackroyd's biography of William Blake and am surprised to find that the works which now have worldwide acclaim were often produced in editions of single figures – individually printed, hand-coloured and bound. Very few people 'got' Blake at the time, but how things have changed.


14 Jul 11 - 07:25 AM (#3187330)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

'Very few people 'got' Blake at the time, but how things have changed.'

reminds me a little bit of the Max Beerbohm short story Enoch Soames - about an unsuccessful poet who sold his soul to the devil to visit the British museum in fifty years time and see if people 'got' him yet. When he looked hismself up, it just said Enoch Soames - character in a Max Beerbohm short story.


14 Jul 11 - 07:56 AM (#3187363)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"The general consensus amongst people ...."
Nope - 'twasn't the way it happened - the decline was pretty well documented at the time, particulary with the correspondance following Fred Woods' article 'Crap Begets Crap' in Folk review - it was the core audiences that left; we never really managed to attract enough curious outsiders in - when your lot moved in big-time, the regulars left.
Quality certainly came into; Alex Campbell's "near enough for folk song opening line ceased to be a joke and became a reality, and now, to some clubs, seems to be an essantial part of their make-up, "so as not to frighten away the laess talented".
Jim Carroll


14 Jul 11 - 08:11 AM (#3187372)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

So its hard not to take personally some of the 'the Tradition of Tired Acoustic Covers of Sixties Pop/Rock" comments.

It's never either / or in folk; it's always all, and there'll invariably be dialogue arising from it born ultimately of human respect. We all have our own take on such things after all, our various burdens and crosses to bear, but one would hope it never gets hostile. In the context of this discussion we can be frank about such matters, but at the end of the day it's only music no matter how seriously we might take it.

If every Folky dreams of getting on the cover of fRoots then that's cool by me; it's like everyone who does the lottery dreaming of actually winning it. It's a community thang all the way down the line really; celebrity comes, celebrity goes, but the music keeps on going. We mutter, we complain, we rejoice; hell, all human life is here if you look hard enough.

One of my Editors recently urged me to be more controversial in my writing - like I am on Mudcat. Thing is, on Mudcat people have an instant right of reply to anything anyone says, which isn't the case once something is published. To me dialogue is all; the crack and blether of the thing, and even though I'm given to polemicising from time to time, I'm not wanting a fight as such, just a natter, a discussion, a bit crack, which is what we have here. And that's something to cherish I think...

*

My problem is, I never got Dylan, and was always moved more by music than I was by words. Still the same today really, I'd rather listen to instrumental music or stuff in a foreign language, or a lot of other Popular English Language Idioms where you can make out the words anyway. I suffer from ADD; have done all my life: it's embarassing but even when I listen to an unaccompanied ballad I'm hearing the music of the thing first, then maybe one or two images, with the story hardly a consideration at all. Am I unique in this? Maybe I am, but in terms of Human Music I'd say that was hardly uncommon at all. I love listening to Gaelic stuff, or raw Scots where you just pick up the odd phrase; and counsel strongly the Folk Myth that Song Accompaniment is there to support a song and not drown the bloody thing out entirely. Indeed, I recently did a version of Over the Hills and Far Away for an aborted project. It was only after removing the vocal track entirely that it made any musical sense to me. Listen here:

HEADLAND (OVER THE HILLS) (21st April 2011)

Music to me exists in terms of landscape or else just pure sound; I like folk for its modes, rhythms, histories, drones, inner aesthetics and cultural possibilities. When working with my wife my extremes are tempered, my enthusiasms curbed, but it was always Folk and it remains Folk, in my heart at least, telling it's own story as all music does... Do it in a Folk Club? No way; this is where the internet comes into its own.


14 Jul 11 - 08:19 AM (#3187378)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

I took folk Review for several years. the trouble was - you had to be either Jasper Carrott or martin Carthy - nothing much in the middle - a less simplistic view of folk music, was tolerated.

The picture i painted jim was was told to me by folksingers who had been making their living on the folk club circuit since the 1960's. In the 60's - they felt they had a secure living. they thought folk clubs and folk music was going to be constant feature of the post war music scene. these were pe0ple travelling the length and breadth of Britain. Not just in isolated places.

the doctrinaire view of the traddies was not the view of folk music that ordinary tv watching English people had. I don't why you're bitching. you won. you had the only two folk journalists in England batting for your side. There was a civil war, you won it.

'the taste was not as sweet' i imagine.   all that shouting the odds and being rude to everyone didn't win very much. I suspect.


14 Jul 11 - 08:41 AM (#3187390)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"The picture i painted jim was was told to me by folksingers"
And the picture I painted was watching the clubs in the greater London area dwindle from around 100 to its present (maybe) dozen.
Given the choice of viewing the situation deteriorate gradually - as we did as regular vistors to clubs - or taling the word of booked guests who might turn up - what once a year......
But as I say, the situation that arose was well documented; whatever you might think of any particular magazine they did provide an overall view.
In the long run - a bit of a applied logic should serve to persuade that if regular punters were not given what they paid their pennies to listen to, they were bound to go away - wouldn't you? There was no argument that this was happening.
We were organising bookings for traditional singer Walter Pardon and being told "no we don't do anything like that - we're a folk club".
None of this alters the fact that the music, as far as the clubs were concerned, was being de-defined to the extent that there no longer exists a concensus, even within the present club scene, as to what you would find if you turned up at a folk club - Magicical Mystery Tour rules OK, so to speak.
Jim Carroll


14 Jul 11 - 09:44 AM (#3187426)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass

"they felt they had a secure living. they thought folk clubs and folk music was going to be constant feature of the post war music scene."

Perhaps their mistake was in believing in notions that the revival would be as enduring as the very tradition of folk song that it sought to emulate and revive?

As for the evolving or otherwise of "folk" into non-traditional acoustic 60's pop, unlike traditional folk music itself (which came from and belongs to another world in time altogether) what "folk music" became during the 60's, was inevitably forever destined to be "60's acoustic folk"

Most modern styles of music become dated very fast and while 60's acoustic folk was "modern folk music" in it's day, it's now simply dated 60's folk music. A thing of either cringing embarrassment or misty eyed nostalgia for those who were there depending on their perspective, but of little interest to anyone who came after bar music nerds who enjoy trawling through back catalogues. Same deal with 50's rock'n'roll or 70's prog rock or 80's new wave..

So overall, as for what folk music has "evolved" into and those various "folk" activies I've been to If I had a hammer, someone else would be leaving with a fucking head injury...


14 Jul 11 - 09:48 AM (#3187427)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

When I fetched up in London in 1967 from Yorkshire, where, from the age of 16, I had been playing in between 3 and 5 folk clubs a week (to the detriment of my education), I went to a few clubs and found them generally pretty dour and unwelcoming (with the notable exception of the Cousins) - with the result that I confined my playing to busking and pretty soon fell out of the folk scene altogether in favour of underground rock. I didn't return to folk until the early 90s, by which time I was back living in Yorkshire. There I found quite a few of the old faces plus a great many new ones - and a folk scene that, although different, was and is vibrant and exciting.


14 Jul 11 - 10:44 AM (#3187464)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

Steamin' Willie says: . . . listening to some folk music via the iPad and wondering if I am allowed to enjoy it because some prat keeps saying folk is about the trials and tribulations of the working class . . .

This is one of the biggest things that bug me about these discussions. No one has ever had anything to say on the subject of what you should listen to and enjoy. In fact, the exact opposite has been said many, many times. When you say things like this it indicates that you don't get what's being talked about, and that you are having a conversation with some imaginary "purists" in your head. It sounds like you are so pissed off about being told that many people don't consider singer-songwriter to be folk music that you are willing to tell lies about them.


14 Jul 11 - 11:39 AM (#3187505)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: TheSnail

Jim Carroll

Sorry Bryan - what don't you get?
Are you saying what you describe didn't happen, that the clubs didn't become a dumping ground for any type of music, and the audiences could no longer find what they were looking for (not an "unexplained reason")


My experience is that, in the seventies, I was going to clubs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights which varied from trad through tradish to electic/contemporary. the latter had acts that you might well call stand up comedians but I also some excellent traditional performers there as well. They were all prospering. None of them changed their format, but as time passed, the audiences began to decline in all of them.

There seem to be three versions of events going round. According to Big Al, real folk music was doing fine until the traddies drove it out; according to you, real folk music was doing fine until the anything-goes crowd drove it out; according to me, all styles were doing fine and went into decline together. Who is right? Will we ever know? Unfortunately, I have never seen Fred Woods' 'Crap Begets Crap' article. Is it available anywhere?

My problem with your description is that I just can't see how unpopular acts could drive out popular ones. Did the organisers of the day (of which you were one) deliberately choose performers that drove their audiences away?

or are you claiming that everything that that was performed at a folk club became folk because it was it was performed at a folk club - as has been claimed?

No, Jim, I'm not Sweeney.


14 Jul 11 - 12:35 PM (#3187530)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

No, Jim, I'm not Sweeney.

Objection!

My earlier stance regarding the issue was based on the empirical evidence at hand; the fact in most Folk Clubs these days you will indeed hear a surfiet of - er - other idioms shall we say, all of which are regarded as being Folk in common usage of the term. From this I deduced that in modern parlance Folk Music meant any music regardless of idion, fetched up in a Folk Club and performed by hearty amateurs, inclusive of all others. I believe, M'Lud, that I produced a list of different idioms in support of this claim, all of them experienced being performed (perhaps approximated would be a better word) over maybe three nights at my then local Folk Club. I tried to accomodate this general unpleasantness for the sake of my own sanity as much as anything else, but in the end stumbled upon our present Holy of Holies Folk Club where things are (to say the least) rather better all around. So - whilst I would still recommend a more pragmatic and indeed empirical approach to both the phenomenon of Ye Folk Club and the very vexed issue of What You Might Expect To Hear Therein (and, indeed, How That Impacts on One's Own Repertoire) (as much for the sake ones sanity as anything else) I can say (heart on sleeve) that if it doesn't meet with my exacting requirements based on long years of bitter/sweet Folk Experience then I won't be darkening its doors again.

I trust this clears up my feelings in the matter. To sum up: 1) Yes I accept that Folk Clubs these days aren't places where one is likely to enjoy a heart night of (shall we say) Traditional Song and Ballad, much less be welcoming of those who wish to perform such material. And 2) My idea of the perfect Folk Club is one which is 100% Proof on the Trad Songs, Music Ballads and derivations / familiars thereof, the heartier the better, as, by Jove, such music is apt to facilitate.

S O'P (still not a purist, honest...)


14 Jul 11 - 12:41 PM (#3187535)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards

I stopped listening to folk in 1976-7 and got into it again 25 years later, so I basically slept through the Great Decline that people are talking about. But what's struck me recently, particularly from browsing the vinyl at the Oxfam shop in Manchester city centre, is how huge the scene was in the 70s, at least relative to what it's like now. An album by a local band called the Wassailers had a sleevenote describing them as "one of the hardest-working bands in the County Palatinate". I don't think there are enough active folk groups in Lancashire now to make that kind of comparison - it'd be like saying that silver is one of the best Olympic medals.

On balance I think I suspect Snail is closer to the truth of it than either Jim or Al, for two reasons. Firstly, I don't think that you can judge if a club is likely to get cliquey and stale, or that it won't be able to counter the appeal of the telly, from the style of music it offers. Where I live there's an anything-goes FC where standards are very variable indeed & self-composed stuff is the norm, and (as Jim would predict) it's pretty much driven the traddies out. However, it's still packed out week after week - and the traddies are fine, as we meet somewhere else on a different night. Which is my second reason for thinking that Snail is closer to the mark: in my experience things just aren't as bad as both Jim and Al are making out.


14 Jul 11 - 01:18 PM (#3187562)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards

One other thing. I'm only dipping in and out of this thread - it's too long to catch up with properly - but I wanted to give a M3 T00 to Suibhne's comparison of POW with TBPWM. My first exposure to TBPWM was when I saw the lyrics written down; I was looking at it with my sister, and when she got to

"And as the ship drew into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where my legs used to be"

she read it out and we both burst out laughing. After that I heard it sung - poorly, well and by June Tabor - but I never lost that first reaction. Faced with songs like that, part of me is still the snotty kid at the back of the class thinking You're trying to impress me, and it's not working!.* (As opposed to my reaction to, say, June Tabor singing POW or Waly Waly, which is what the f___ was that and how the f___ did you do it?)

To this day there's a whole class of songs which I sit through with a frozen smile of polite appreciation for somebody taking the trouble to make a mildly pleasant noise - and then there are songs that stop me in my tracks even when they're done badly, and pin me to the wall when they're done well. What baffles me isn't so much that you can hear them both in one evening as that they're both called 'folk'. But there you go, it is what it is.

*This is what's wrong with the 'legs' line, IMO - it's not a million miles away from 'My Son John', but the understatement seems sleeve-tugging & sentimental where MSJ's is grimly comic.


14 Jul 11 - 01:52 PM (#3187584)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

What the hell - it was a long time ago.

The point was, you couldn't trust a traddie with a three song spot - not to demolish your audience to a place where they would never return.

I went tofolkclubs from the 60's . then i got married in 71 and I started taking my in laws round to folk clubs. An ordinary guy who'd worked as a miner and in the hosiery factories of the midlands plus his wife. Just guys who could entertain them - Murf, Brimstone, Lockran, pete Quinn, Jasper, Alex Campbell, ian Campbell's group.

They went explorong on their own and encountered Bellamy and Carthy, Bob Davernport and never darkened the door of a folk club again.

That's okay. these guys were challenging and confrontational in their style of presenting folk music.

But without a significant interface with humankind - whatever the 1954 committee says - in my book, it ain't folkmusic.

Now that makes me a purist of one sort. There are purists of the other sort - who say what is writ large on the temple wall is folkmusic, because it is - lots of terrific reasons. None of them good enough for me. But they satisfy some folk.


14 Jul 11 - 02:27 PM (#3187605)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Howard Jones

I think Big Al has put his finger on a crucial point. Was the role of folk clubs simply to be an aspect of light entertainment, a middle-class version of working men's club, or should it be a place for people who want to get into the music at a deeper level?

There's no reason why the latter shouldn't also be entertaining, but it's inevitably going to be more challenging and difficult. It's the same in any genre of music, and probabaly in most activities. Someone whose idea of jazz is Kenny Ball is going to struggle when taken to a jazz club playing modern jazz, just as someone whose idea of classical music is Classical FM will be challenged by John Cage.

It doesn't seem unreasonable to me for people with a deep interest in something, whether its folk music or model railways, to want somewhere they can pursue that interst. However its inevitable that a version which is more accessible will have a wider appeal, which can very easily crowd out the minority specialists - the purists if you like.

Whether that was responsible for the initial decline is debateable. As Brian pointed out, once the rot set in the decline affected both types of club. I suspect it was largely due to the ageing folk club population having less time and money to spare due to family and professional commitments (I know that's what reduced my folk club attendance). When you're left to draw both audiences and performers from a much-diminished pool it is more likely that the format with the widest appeal will win out, leaving the specialists/purists with nowhere to go.


14 Jul 11 - 02:29 PM (#3187607)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

Sorry John P I fail to see your point.

If you care to read the many entries on this thread you might notice that people are defining folk in order to define purist. I assume there must be purists amongst stamp collectors and bridge club members but the usual subjects keep slogging away with their definitions of folk yet again. The 1954 nonsense is cited on the basis that there are precious few others, or I suspect because if is about working people having chips on their collective shoulder.

That's why I mentioned listening to an abstract music form whilst not exactly fitting the stereotype. I find it somewhat pathetic that when I write and perform a song about having a hard on for somebody (or love song as it is referred to) those folk club organisers who know me introduce me as an ex miner in order to give some weird credentials to my ability to sing, play guitar and get lovers balls over an imaginary woman.

You see in my mind purists do exist. Their linking music to situation in order to make if pure shows them for what they are. Hence the demise of clubs.

I have played in, got pissed in and enjoyed being in upstairs rooms of pubs and under canvas at festivals with good mates and had the time of my life for many years. Then somebody tells me this 'folk' I have been participating in isn't really folk at all.

Yes it is.

Ruddy purists.

Middle of the night here, just got my 3 dongle roaming so if I can't get to blessed sleep your attempts to get me to shut up may be in vain. I know the point Joe Offer shakes his head at and I for one haven't reached it yet. At least I try to address the thread.


14 Jul 11 - 04:03 PM (#3187665)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

At this point we come to a parting of the ways; take your pick, otherwise the two appoahes don't seem to be able to co-exist. This results in partition, which has already happened, long ago (imagine anyone liking Jasper Carrot's MOR comedic fluff to dig the chthonic depths of Peter Bellamy; it's rather like expecting people who like Mrs Mills to listen to Cecil Taylor) hence these occasional ceremonial border skirmishes on Mudcat. Weird thing is that all this might co-exists at all, but it does, respectfully on my part too; I've got lots of musical pals who do all shades of Folk from Wacky Folk 'n' Fluff MOR to Deep Macrame Owl Demonic Drones. But then I've got lots of other musical pals too, from Early Music Professionals, to Free Jazzers, to Modern Classical Musos, to ageing Metal Heads, to DJs, Drum and Bass crews, and Psychedelic Stoners, to Japanese sound artists and Circus drummers. Crucially, we dig; with much joy and much respect.


14 Jul 11 - 05:26 PM (#3187733)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

When you're left to draw both audiences and performers from a much-diminished pool it is more likely that the format with the widest appeal will win out, leaving the specialists/purists with nowhere to go.
incorrect, it will be clubs, where clubs are clubs and people socialise and where people make their own entertainment, where guests are not booked every week, where singers are so plentiful,
That guests are not wanted, in some ways this is good, in one way it is not, GUEST SINGERS HELP TO RAISE STANDARDS, yet before the revival, this was how it was, people made their own entertainment


14 Jul 11 - 05:35 PM (#3187739)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards

imagine anyone liking Jasper Carrot's MOR comedic fluff to dig the chthonic depths of Peter Bellamy

Well, yes and no. Imagine anyone who liked Tony Capstick's gags about strippers and Irishmen, and also liked Tony Capstick's precise and pitiless readings of "The Scarecrow" and "Red Wine Promises". Personally I go very much for one and not the other, but there was an audience for both on the same night, for a while back there - you can hear the applause. (I don't think Does a turn is available anywhere anyhow, but it should and could be.)


14 Jul 11 - 05:49 PM (#3187752)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

Steamin' Willie, my point, which I made very clear, is that you were complaining about being told that you shouldn't enjoy the music you enjoy. Here's your quote again, for you to contemplate: . . .wondering if I am allowed to enjoy it because some prat keeps saying folk is about . . .

I'm not saying that purists don't exist. I'm saying that the idea that anyone gives a damn about what you enjoy listening to exists only in your head. I'm saying that making that kind of comment indicates that you don't get what we're talking about and that you are setting up a straw man so you can have something to bitch about. Also, calling someone a prat because they define the word "folk" differently than you do is uncalled for.

I'm also not trying to get you to shut up (another conversation that's only taking place in your head?). I'm trying to get you to talk about what's actually being talked about. The fact that someone disagrees with you about the definition of folk music doesn't mean anything except that someone disagrees with you about the definition of folk music. One of the big reasons that discussions about the nature of folk music often turn nasty is that people like you apparently believe that people who disagree with you are trying to control you in some way.

While not a purist in any pure sense of the word, I regret that singer-songwriters refer to their music as folk. I understand, however, that the world has moved on and that "folk" now refers to multiple genres of music and is therefore less useful as a descriptor than it used to be. I switched to "traditional folk" for a long time, but found that this caused people to think I'm a traditionalist, which I'm not. Also, I've heard young songwriters talk about enjoying "traditional folk, like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell" (!!). I've started using "ethnic folk" when I have to give a description of what I do because it separates it adequately from the generalized folk label but doesn't carry as much connotation of me being some kind of hide-bound traditionalist.

Please continue to enjoy whatever music you enjoy!


14 Jul 11 - 06:08 PM (#3187778)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Spleen Cringe

Just as there were plenty of people doing non-trad folk back in the day, so there are now. Its just that they don't play in folk clubs and they don't tend to feel the need to tell jokes or present as all-round light entertainers. The modern day equivalent of those folk-lite groups who appeared on Pebble Mill at One and TV Variety shows don't exist anymore, at least not unless they are over 50 and still doing the rounds. But there are plenty of people outside of the folk club scene putting on live music events where the music has a very folkish vibe. You won't hear many covers, sixties or otherwise (though you may here the odd traditional song) and the bands and artists won't be trying to please all of the people all of the time (still less someone's mother-in-law who got dragged along) but you will hear some excellent new music.

Lots of things have changed. Less folk clubs, less working men's clubs, no Sunday Night at the London Palladium or Wheeltappers and Shunters. As a kid I always thought that sort of stuff was aimed at my mum and dad's generation anyway - and a lot of this stuff is generational. Nowadays, if you want to do covers, you'll go to an open mic night or find that kind of folk club - or you'll get serious and form a tribute band. If you want to do your own songs, you do what people have always done - get out there and play and hope you find your audience. It you want to do trad, you go to your local singaround and do it for fun or you take your chances with everyone else. The art centre gigs and festival spots don't come on a plate and there are increasing numbers of people who include trad material in their sets who rarely set foot in a folk club.

Back on topic, I reckon The Snail hit the nail on the head earlier. Things move on. Things change.


14 Jul 11 - 06:22 PM (#3187790)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

Oh, one more thing for Steamin' Willie -- I agree that someone trying to give you proper folky credentials for being part of a mining family is really silly, unless you are singing mining songs you learned from your dad who learned them in a mine. I might even agree with the prat label in that case. I think people should get accepted by organizers and audiences for being what and who they are.


14 Jul 11 - 06:27 PM (#3187798)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie

Thanks I shall.

And I will call it folk on the basis that folk clubs seem to be my haunt of choice and in my case tradition.

A bit concerned that I read what you reckon isn't there but no matter, I can't help your sense of reality. When Jim says he doesn't go to folk clubs because if isn't folk I take that a wee bit personal because folk it most certainly is. It's my folk. Perhaps not his but it is mine. And it is the folk of those who enjoy it.

All a bit moot because purism hs been flogged adequately here and we have unearthed a few definitions.

Some describing those who lament the founding ideas and some that describe those who think they are right despite there being no right or wrong.

What have I learned? Maybe that I am a singer of folk songs rather than a folk singer. Ewan MacColl told me that many years ago in the same way he had a pop at many younger people coming through. So sad that I can still put him on a pedestal and at the same time remember him as a purist prat.

My money is on Mick Jagger. It's the singer not the song.


14 Jul 11 - 06:48 PM (#3187811)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards

live music events where the music has a very folkish vibe
...
and a lot of this stuff is generational

What if the "folkish vibe" is generational as well? Maybe it's just what I've heard, but it seems to me that if you went shopping for nu- psych- alt- whatsit-folk with the sole proviso that you didn't want to hear anything that sounded like Hunting Song or Reynardine you'd have a pretty thin time of it - and if you said to your nu-folk personal shopper "and nothing like the String Band either" you'd be going home empty-handed. These are records - and styles - that are 40 years old now, if not more. I'm not denying that there's lots of music being made & appreciated out there, but I wonder if what's basically a retro style is going to have the staying-power of old songs.


14 Jul 11 - 06:50 PM (#3187817)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards

PS "And no bloody Comus either! Sick, I call it. Bloody hippies, I don't know."


14 Jul 11 - 07:00 PM (#3187830)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

who think they are right despite there being no right or wrong.

Yes!

What have I learned? Maybe that I am a singer of folk songs rather than a folk singer

Yeah, I've heard that one too. That type of distinction never made much sense to me. Someone who sings folk songs is a folk singer. Can you imagine telling a rocker that they are not a rocker, but a player of rock songs? After all, REAL rockers only existed in the 60s . . . :^)

Another one that's never made much sense to me is the idea that people should only do songs from their own locale. There was a club here several years ago that had a policy that traditional folk music could only be performed by people from the country the music came from. At the time, I was doing almost exclusively English, Irish and Scottish music. Since my cultural heritage here in the US is English in origin, they were just saying that I couldn't come there and play music from my cultural heritage. I wondered what difference it made if an ancestor of mine left the farm in the 1800s and moved to American while some London bloke's ancestor left the farm in the 1800s and moved to London. Both of us were probably brought up on American and English pop music and got into traditional folk when we were young adults. What difference does it make what country we were born in? That's making something other than the music itself and the skill of the performer be the important thing. Pedantry on a pedestal. I honored their right to do whatever they wanted in their club, but I thought it was a stupid policy.


14 Jul 11 - 08:47 PM (#3187910)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity

As we used to say in the studio, and still do, "You can ALWAYS tell a 'purist'..they're ALWAYS out of tune!"

GfS


15 Jul 11 - 01:07 AM (#3188013)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion

"Descriptor" ··· Thanks, John P. That is the word we want; or maybe "referent". I once wrote in Folk Review, "If every article of household furniture were called a chair, we shouldn't know where to park our arses". Peter Bellamy liked the formulation so much that at one time he went around quoting it at practically every gig. And in a review for The Times Ed, I wrote "The syllogism 'I like folk; I like John Lennon; ∴ the Beatles are folk' won't work: I happen to be very fond both of eating and of the novels of Jane Austen; but that doesn't make me think that Mansfield Park is a chip butty". The Arts Editor headlined the column "Not a Chip Butty".

The point is that every time a word is over-defined in this way, the effect is to diminish the language as a communicative medium. When "folk" as a term for "the sort of music I happen to like" is diminished to the equivalent of the use of "bourgeois" by a marxist to mean simply "someone I don't happen to like", it isn't any particular person who suffers, but the language. One is reminded of Bert Lloyd's point that. if we are to call, say, Big Yellow Taxi a folksong then we shall need a new term for, say, The Seeds Of Love; and hence, if we are to say, as quoted above, "traditional singers like Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell", we shall need a new term for Joseph Taylor and John England and Harry Cox {& Martin Carthy too, for that matter}.

It's a free country, you can call it all 'folk' {or 'food'} if you like. Who's to stop you? Choose your own parameters.

But Mind Your Language!

I would urge that this is not 'purism' or 'pedantry' or any such pejorative; it's just logical sense.

~Michael~


15 Jul 11 - 03:29 AM (#3188047)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Spleen Cringe

Yes Pip, I agree with you that a lot of the alt-folk around is pretty retro (the ISB influences and so on are near-compulsory) and chances are that in a few years, it will sound as quaint as some of the stuff that Al bangs on about. The point I was trying to make is that if you want non-trad folk it is out there, but thankfully has nothing to do with dated comedy or cheesy light entertainment. A good thing in my opinion, but then I've always liked the ISB... and have found myself capable of listening to a whole set without needing it broken up with mother-in-law jokes and card tricks, or whatever constitutes a top quality night out.


15 Jul 11 - 03:57 AM (#3188053)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Thing is though, all this has just happened; an unfortunate turn of events for sure, but there's been no obvious coup as such, much less any conspiracy. Call it - entropy. Perhaps one sad fact of life is that more people enjoy Jasper Carrott than enjoy Peter Bellamy, thus necessitating a more pragmatic approach to what other genres we might think of as being Folk. Then again, the Folk Revival (both Old & New Testament) is awkwardly placed with respect of The Old Songs Correctly Known as Folk Songs and the Feral Context in which they originally existed, which is about as different from Old & New Testament Revival Folk as you can get. Folk was, in effect, invented as One Thing, re-invented as another, and over the last 60 years or so has become a whole bunch of other things by logical extension. These days many Folk Clubs (most? God knows it certainly seems so) function as Open Mic Nights without the mics where pretty much anything goes - just as long as its not one of those bloody Border Ballads! Bizarrely, I've been to well-attended singarounds in which 1) I have been the only person accompanying myself on a musical instrument and 2) I have been the only person who sang a Traditional Song. How weird's that? An unnacompanied singaround where all the songs are MOR self-penned Folk Style rather than Pure Trad.

Just making observations here though; people can, and will, do what they like. As we can see by the diversity of music discussed here on Mudcat, Folk is a mutable beast and depends not on some God-like tradition as such, but the bent of the people in the room at the time. If I set up a singaround and get a load of Dylan-heads along (it has happened) then I can hardly complain if they sing Bob Dylan songs can I?

As for the Furniture Analogy - I'd say these days Folk is not even as specific as chairs (what sort of chairs? stools, armchairs, settees, sofas, benches, recliners, crackets, milking stools, park benches (I had one in a room once; one of those ones with cast iron iron snakes), pews, misericords &c.); rather Folk is as general as furniture, and even then is in need of further refinement according to taste and provenance. Are we walking Ikea Flatpacked Folk or some hand-carved Folk settle from a Victorian farmhouse? Or is it more akin to the beautifully inlaid wooden miners' cracket that has been in my family for generations - a perfect piece of Traditional Northumbrian functional folk-art? Or is it (WCS) a craft-stall modern replica of such a thing that doesn't bear too close an examination as to its construction methods much less the intention of the maker in calling it Folk Art or even Traditional? In the Manchester Gallery there is an early 19th Century chair on display of mostly Gothic influence, though in the fore-legs at least you may detect something more Classical going on. I love this chair as much I love the Thomas Toft slipware plates with which it shares the same space. I also love it because we have a Very Similar Chair which we bought in the Preston Antiques Centre for a mere £20. Thing is, do we want our Folk Clubs to more like Antique Centres or branches of Ikea? For sure we might frequent both upon occasion, but hardly with equal relish, for (perhaps ironically) only in the Antique Centre does the Humanity of the thing truly come alive - at least it does for me...


15 Jul 11 - 04:12 AM (#3188056)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

I'd say that the majority of folk that I listen to is neither trad nor the psych- acid- or whatever-folk of the 70s. Individuals and bands - many of them youngsters - are using the folk idiom to create something that is new, vibrant and exciting but still contains enough of the folk elements to be a continuum rather than a reinvention. That makes an old folkie like me very happy indeed. Here's an example, average age around 18:

4square


15 Jul 11 - 04:50 AM (#3188069)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Yeah, we had 4square at our club a few years ago (hope I didn't freak the drummer out too much with my warnings of anthrax from untreated skins) and very fine they were too. Lots of dazzlingly talented young folkies around these days, but as I said a while back - where are the un-dazzling ones? In the Old Music dazzling technicality was less of an issue than the functional craft of the thing - if I have one complaint about a lot of young folkies it is thsat they seem too good for the music! It's akin to listening to the original Mothers of Invention really playing theit balls off on Uncle Meat and hearing Zappa's later bands playing the stuff like it was nothing. So it's not just a Folk Issue, but a Muso issue in general. Much of what appeals to me in Music (be it early Zappa, Harry Cox, The Fall, Leadbelly, Jim Eldon, Don Cherry, Pharoah Sanders, Rene Zosso, Michael Hurley etc.) is the discernable Human Craft of the thing which isn't about dazzling technicality which tends not to reach my soul. I'm not an advocate of GEFF, just find Muso Folk / Jazz / Classical often a little bland for my palette. Hell, I got into folk for the stank and seance of the thing, and in my other life have worked with members of The Portsmouth Sinfonia and once performed a Violin Sonata in which four people demolished a violin to sawdust (don't worry, it was only a Skylark which had been nailed to a tree for most of the previous winter - all part of the concept for which the Arts Council paid us very nicely) so technique was never uppermost in my list of musical requisites!

Again though, each to their own & more power to them all.


15 Jul 11 - 05:29 AM (#3188088)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

"I got into folk for the stank and seance of the thing"

Plenty of that going on in pubs, singarounds, fields, front rooms, back rooms, public toilets (some mates will be singing this weekend in a Gents in Hull until they get thrown out) and under the willow tree in my garden - usually accompanied by large quatities of liver-crippling draughts and various illicit substances. It's just that kids like 4Square, Lucy Ward, The Old Dance School, Kat Gilmour and Jamie Roberts etc., make me, in the words of the Eurythmics, "feel like I'm 17 again" (I wish!).


15 Jul 11 - 05:42 AM (#3188095)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Now there's a point - The Age Thing - which we've touched upon here. Never thought of it quite that way before though. When I saw 4square and the various younger musicians who filter through the Fylde (there was one lot from Chethams who were around a few years back who created quite a stir; I think their percussionist had won Young Musician of the Year, but their name escapes me. Anyone??) I just feel Very Old, which is weird because, at 49, (for the next 5 weeks anyway), I'm actually very young in Folk Years. Of course, anyone younger that 35 views me as positively antique, and one punter recently called me The Old Man Who Tells Stories. He'd first seen me in his school fifteen years ago when he was nine. The other day I found an old piece about me in The Sunderland Echo; it features a charming picture of a five-year-old girl having a go on my crwth. By my reckoning she'll be about 21 now. Wonder if she remembers or was in any way affected by the experience?

Kids grow up; storytellers never do...


15 Jul 11 - 05:59 AM (#3188102)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

"The Age Thing"

I can recommend Boots Anti-Ageing Serum - at 62 I've the face and body of a 47-year old (it's called mrsleveller).

49? - you're nobbut a lad!

Seruoisly, though, I do get a huge vicarious pleasure from hearing my 11-year old daughter singing and playing cello and keyboard.


15 Jul 11 - 06:06 AM (#3188108)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Purists do not exist, they cannot, because to be a purist,one cannot accept influences on traditions,
A purist is one who desires that an item remain true to its essence and free from adulterating or diluting influences.to quote John Donne, no man is an island unto himself.
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.


15 Jul 11 - 06:17 AM (#3188117)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

"Ewan MacColl told me that many years ago in the same way he had a pop at many younger people coming through."

Ah yes, the wicked MacColl! I think that the main trouble with MacColl was that he spoke his mind and damaged a few very fragile egoes as a result. I doubt that he was "having a pop" at anyone but, rather, trying to make them think - but a lot of people don't like thinking, do they? After all:

(1) Thinking can be hard work.

(2) Sometimes the thinker has to abandon his/her precious preconceptions - and we can't have that, can we?


15 Jul 11 - 06:18 AM (#3188118)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

49? - you're nobbut a lad!

I have a 37-year-old wife as well as a 30-year-old daughter; I am now 19 years older than my father was when he died; I became a father myself at 19 to a woman several years my senior; I was a young man, I was a rover - or was it Maggie May? The older I get, the younger I feel...

*

PS: Well said, GSS!


15 Jul 11 - 07:55 AM (#3188156)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Banjiman

What is it with you strange old folky guys with your cradle snatched wives?????

Envious .......moi?


15 Jul 11 - 08:18 AM (#3188169)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I'm not old, and thoug we'd known each other 5 years or so years previously my wife was 24 when we got together in that distant summer of 1999 (Durham Folk Party as it happens, who says Folk Romance is dead?) - and being married to someone as beautiful as they are gifted as you are then I doubt you know the meaning of this word envy, much less the 1954 Definition. Never been to clear on it myself actually...


15 Jul 11 - 08:22 AM (#3188173)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

Hey! Who are you calling folky?

Anyway - what have you go to be envious about?


15 Jul 11 - 08:52 AM (#3188192)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards

Lots of dazzlingly talented young folkies around these days, but as I said a while back - where are the un-dazzling ones?

Bloody hell, there's no pleasing some people...

(PS I agree.)


15 Jul 11 - 09:39 AM (#3188213)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST

"Lots of dazzlingly talented young folkies around these days, but as I said a while back - where are the un-dazzling ones?"

Probably not occupying more traditional folk zones? Possibly creating interesting sounding folk fusion rather than perfecting their fiddle technique?

I found this obscure fellow today: http://www.last.fm/listen/artist/Wukir/similarartists

I'm also rather fond of Jenny Hval: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_6kxYSwTwg
And Brethren of the Free Spirit: http://www.last.fm/listen/artist/Brethren%2BOf%2BThe%2BFree%2BSpirit/similarartists


15 Jul 11 - 09:43 AM (#3188216)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST

Mmm, looks like I don't know how last.fm actually works - artists linked to not correct.


15 Jul 11 - 10:20 AM (#3188238)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

My un-dazzling enquiry was largely rhetorical; the New Testament generation of undazzling folkies were part of a very different wannabe zeitgeist to that which we now (the Apocryphal Generation?). I still hear 60-something Shirley Collins, Tim Hart, June Tabor and Martin Carthy impersonators (and many of them new-to-Folk Second Lifers) and whilst the Rusbyesque Head-voice & Northern vowels is pretty much ubiquitous amongst female singers of a certain age, it doesn't seem to be as imitative as it first might appear, but characterfully distinct in and of itself. I was wary of The Unthanks at first, but their track on Oak Ash Thorn won me over completely. Is there a male equivilant? Certain Younger Male singers - not just in folk - seem content without adopting the affectations of yore, so a more natural voice begins to emerge which can sing the material afresh and very much uncluttered, like Jim Causely for one and Jon Boden for another, no matter where they're coming from. You seldom hear extreme voices in pop & folk these days, not in these parts anyway, just good natural wholesome singers.

Jim Eldon is still my favourite living Folk Singer though; one wishes his approach was the norm rather than the exception.


15 Jul 11 - 01:05 PM (#3188325)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket

Yes, McColl did damage a few fragile egos. He also insulted many people who were just there for the enjoyment. A true case of with me politically or fuck off. During the strike, he and Peggy played Kiveton and I had to sit there listening to how the noble cause etc. Disillusioned me, I can tell you. I was like most of my mates, piggy in the middle of two political egos.

I enjoy what I call folk. A bit of a bugger when people tell me it isn't folk after all. A bit like Peoples' Popular Front of Judea if you ask me.

Folk is, (for me, not you) a nostalgic journey to recapture my youth. Upstairs rooms of pubs, candles on the tables, Fred Foster's teeth flying out during Jones Ale, a reel on pipes followed by a Bob Dylan song. My mate Mitch summed it up in his parody of English Country Garden;

One'll sing a dirty song,
One'll get the words all wrong,
One stands supping beer with his finger in his ear,
And then softly croons out of key and out of tune,
In an English country folk club.

And then visit a nearby club to be told they only want traditional singers. Fine, your club mate. Oh, sorry, when did you fold? How sad. Never mind, ours accepts the odd traditional singer...

Method; Get a lift, turn up, drink beer, sing a song with complicated guitar bits, drink, give them a slightly less complicated guitar bit, drink, toilet, drink, drink, oh shit, me again? Err, sing unaccompanied, drink, drink,

Now that's what I call folk.

Must be a type of purist then?


15 Jul 11 - 03:13 PM (#3188386)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

Purists do not exist, they cannot, because to be a purist,one cannot accept influences on traditions

I like that. I've always thought that too many people, many of whom consider themselves purists, confuse the concepts of "traditional" and "historical" when it comes to music. Learning, in an academic way, everything there is to know about a tradition at some particular historical point and then playing the music in that way in order to lend it historical accuracy is, for me, almost the opposite of traditional music making. The only time that's a problem for me is when they step out of the purist role and into the obnoxious prat role by trying to tell others that this is the only appropriate way to play the music.

I've been to Irish sessions in Seattle where everyone was told very clearly what is traditional in Ireland and what's not. Never made much sense to me, from a traditional music standpoint. To me, traditional music is local music. For a Seattle session, I'd be much more interested in how Irish music is played in Seattle than how it's played in Ireland.

I've been told more than once that a guitar isn't appropriate for music that came to be in the years before guitars were widely used, or for places where the guitar never caught on. Oddly, I've never been told that about my cittern. Since I play music spanning 600 years and two continents, in order to be completely traditional historically accurate, I'd have to drive around with a large truck full of instruments and an instrument technician.

That situation is MUCH worse in the Early Music scene, where one pretty much has to be a pedantic academic in order to play Early Music. I've heard some amazing ones there -- like that you shouldn't play a harmonic on a stringed instrument because there is no hard evidence that any string players back then did that.


15 Jul 11 - 03:29 PM (#3188397)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman

"Lots of dazzlingly talented young folkies around these days, but as I said a while back - where are the un-dazzling ones?"

I fear you may be on to something there, virtuosity has never been my cup of Tetley's. It's said that bright young things at Oxbridge sometimes approach their tutor with the question, "which political party should I stand for" and I do wonder whether folk isn't sometimes a similar career choice for a talented musician. 'Dare to be bad' is always good advice and 'the bad should dare' is close on its coat tails.


15 Jul 11 - 04:39 PM (#3188432)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P

I do wonder whether folk isn't sometimes a similar career choice for a talented musician.

I doubt it. Someone with high-level skills who is choosing a type of music to play as a career choice instead of choosing the type of music they love to play would probably choose something that pays better.


15 Jul 11 - 11:23 PM (#3188592)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

folk chooses you.

as for the purist thing. someone has revived the irish Coutry Music thread. I was struck by the relevance of my comments back then in 2008.

'It would be lovely to know which moron first came up the idea that you have bigger balls as a folk music fan if you reject some other kind of music.

The relationships between different kinds of folk music is so obvious, to even a person of average intellligence. But it really does defeat these wooden eared zealots.

The relattionship between The Unfortuanate Rake and the Streets of Laredo and Gold in the Mountains and St James Infirmary is well documented.

The cross fertilisation between Whisky in the Jar, The Irish Rebel Ballads, The larrikins of the Australian Bush ballads, Jesse James and there ain't no good chain gang, and I fought the law leaves the average person with deja vu.

That jerky guitar rhythm in Carthy's Famous Flower of Serving Men and Peggy and Mike Seegers Clinch Mountain Backstep, and presumably The Stanley Bros. How could anyone except the tone deaf miss it?

Yeh you're right Irish Country Music - many mudcatters have swapped their listening ears for a mess of pottage - namely the companionship of a lot dull snobs. people who can't value a guy like Johnny MacEvoy - someone who can switch from Shores of Amerikay to Hickory Wind effortlessly and with the grace of the truly talented.'


16 Jul 11 - 05:13 AM (#3188655)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Carthy's jerky rhythms came to typify New Testament Folk in so many ways; be it in in Steeleye Span's rollicking macrame-beat or else in the singing of June Tabor, where her rendering of Gamekeeper's Lie Sleeping comes out sounding like a Victoria Wood parody - unlike (say) Bob Robert's who just hangs it up there on the wall by way of an old print. You still hear it; hell, we even use it ourselves - once I think, in the Jew's Harp off-beats of our rendering The Trees They Do Grow High, but back then, with bands like Gentle Giant having fun with all sorts of jerky rhythms & folk/prog crossovers Cultural Arythmia seemed to be very much the order of the day. Thank Christ for the Amen Beat (which never did impact of folk much, did it?). You still get a lot of that guitar thing these days by way of convention, but listening to the early recordings of Carthy & Swarb locking horns on Byker Hill (or better still watching them on YouTube) is still very special for me, and not just by way of Chops Awe either (much less Chops Envy which is a different matter entirely...).

Folk doesn't have to be dazzling; in fact one of the things I loved about Folk in the early days was that along with Punk and Free Improv it's musicality was never dependent on vituosity, and the people doing the best music weren't necessarily the best musicians. The manifesto remains engraved in my heart: This is a chord (A). This is another (E). This is a third (G). Now Form a Band.


16 Jul 11 - 05:19 AM (#3188656)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

folk chooses you.

You've got right.


16 Jul 11 - 05:27 AM (#3188661)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

(I'm sorry, I'll type that again.)

You've got that right.

(Actually there's a syntactic ambiguity in there which is quite relevant here, depending which of the last two words gets the stress... either way & in both senses - right as noun and adverb.)


17 Jul 11 - 05:57 AM (#3189309)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: TheSnail

It would be lovely to know which moron first came up the idea that you have bigger balls as a folk music fan if you reject some other kind of music.

I know what you mean, Big Al. Some people really seem to get a kick out of rubishing traditional music.


17 Jul 11 - 06:14 AM (#3189319)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave Hanson

Suibhne, what on earth does ' rollicking macrame beat ' mean ? macrame is making things out of string.

Big Al just seems to be pushing his favourite Country & Irish singer again.

Dave H


17 Jul 11 - 06:25 AM (#3189323)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,folkiedave

Macrame using cat hair was a workshop at Blitherscrum one year!


17 Jul 11 - 06:49 AM (#3189330)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

macrame is making things out of string.

For sure, on one level, it is making things out of string, or rather (and more properly) jute. On another, however, Macrame has come to typify a certain 70's Folksy-Crafty Zeitgeist not altogether unassociated with the rhythmic contrivances of Steeleye Span and June Tabor (et al). I hardly think it's in any way disrectful or unreasonable to call this Macrame Beat. Tabor's While Gamekeepers Lie Sleeping is a Macrame Beat classic, as is Steeleye Span's All Around My Hat, both of which force hitherto natural Traditional Songs into all sorts of unnatural contortions in a way that only becomes evident on seeking The Source of such material to see the extent of such perversions.

Another example is Carthy's Rufford Park, the Macrame Beat of which is so insistent I had to stop singing it because every time I did it came out all jerky.


17 Jul 11 - 07:45 AM (#3189347)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

I don't rubbish traditional music. I'm just VERY suspicious of it. Mainly i suppose because - i think given my family background, and the rural nature of my upbringing - Ithink I would have been aware of the tradtions growing up if they had existed.

As it is the traditions that I did grow up with, are routinely rubbished by 'traditionalists'.

At this point in time. I hold no brief for anybody. If you're ears are unreceptive to country and irish. That's fine. But maybe you should be aware that in the last century - many English and irish folk artists dabbled and made a living, in some cases, with country music.

If pointing out the similarity of the way Mike Seeger and Peggy did a Ralph Stanley tune to Martin carthy's guitar technique is sacrilege and and impugning the sacred reputation of MC, so be it. i think it was TS Eliot who said, only mediocrity is influenced - real genius actually steals!


17 Jul 11 - 08:37 AM (#3189368)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion

... or, Al, as Tom Lehrer remembered Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachewski saying [in a slightly different field] ~~

Plagiarise
Let nobody's work evade your eyes
Why you think the good lord made yer eyes?
So plagiarise, plagiarise, plagiarise ~~
   - But be careful, please, always to call it
    "Research"

~M~


17 Jul 11 - 09:14 AM (#3189393)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: TheSnail

I don't rubbish traditional music.

Never said you did, Al.

If pointing out the similarity of the way Mike Seeger and Peggy did a Ralph Stanley tune to Martin Carthy's guitar technique is sacrilege

Did anyone say it was? Nobody lives in isolation but we are all influenced by what we here. I have heard that one of Martin's major influences was Big Bill Broonzy. maybe the Seegers were drawing on the same tradition.


17 Jul 11 - 12:54 PM (#3189502)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

i think given my family background, and the rural nature of my upbringing - Ithink I would have been aware of the tradtions growing up if they had existed.

I'm from a mining background & feel pretty much the same way. Like I said earlier (in this thread?) if one wanted to define Folk Music according to the Living Creative Music of the Folk of the Northumbrian Coalfield then it would take in everything from Tommy Armstrong to the New Blockaders and pretty much everything else along the way, but your actual Folk Music would be barely noticable. For some reason though actually saying this sort of thing is held to be heretical and apt to result in excommunication, even for a devoted Traddy like me. I grew up in mining communities near Seghill and Delaval & knew lots of singing miners old and young, but never heard of The Blackleg Miner until some Macrame Beat teacher sang it at school. Thus do I say Folk is more a Religion than a Science; it takes faith to believe in something that just ain't there...


17 Jul 11 - 01:23 PM (#3189512)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket

When I worked down the pit, folk music was something I heard on records, down the the local folk club etc. At work, the baths had the local radio station (Radio Hallam as it was called then,) the lamp room had Radio 2 and down the pit? Those over 50 were whistling Slim Whitman or Jim Reeves songs, those under 50 were whistling whatever was current in the charts, (us young 'uns) or whatever the turn was singing down the welfare the other night. (Living next door to Alice, American Trilogy, You've Lost that Loving Feeling etc etc.)

I was I suppose a singing miner. I sang about herring fishing mainly. (And having lover's balls for somebody, about the only types of song I wrote for many years, mainly as I could use a slow acoustic version in folk clubs and an up tempo rock version with the rock band.)

As I and others have pointed out many times, those who sang about mining tended to be teachers, social workers etc. I don't mean that in a bad way, after all I sang about anything but my own experiences and if a workmate sang about how hard it was, I would be taking the piss forever more, and rightly so. Perhaps one of the reasons I find the purism that this thread has unearthed a bit of a farce really. Sandals and beards don't make you authentic, they give you wet feet and soup to enjoy later.


17 Jul 11 - 02:01 PM (#3189539)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion

I have a beard and I wear sandals. I don't think they say any more about me than that I hate shaving and like to have comfortable feet, and now I am retired I see no reason not to indulge myself to such an extent.

~M~


17 Jul 11 - 02:03 PM (#3189541)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod

Sorry - something went badly awry there!

Anyway." ... if one wanted to define Folk Music according to the Living Creative Music of the Folk of the Northumbrian Coalfield then it would take in everything from Tommy Armstrong to the New Blockaders and pretty much everything else along the way, but your actual Folk Music would be barely noticable. For some reason though actually saying this sort of thing is held to be heretical and apt to result in excommunication, ..."

Which is probably why I go to folk clubs and not miners' social clubs ... ?

And who, exactly, is going to 'excommunicate' you, Suibhne? I've told you a million, billion times never to exaggerate!


17 Jul 11 - 06:19 PM (#3189688)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Which is probably why I go to folk clubs and not miners' social clubs ... ?

Moot point, Shimrod. Which pill would you take - the red or the blue? Though I hear tell of an historical enounter at a WMC in Tow Law when Ewan MacColl and A L Loyd were giving the Miners a Concert of Their Own Songs. It was at this event they first met Lomax. Apocrypal? Maybe so, but it has a certain hoary romance lingering still o'er those bleak and blasted moors of Tow Law where the turbines wave from valley to hill, even unto Stanley and beyond. In my dream I hear Paul Robeson adding his voice to the struggle, but did he ever sing The Colliers Rant I wonder?


17 Jul 11 - 06:19 PM (#3189689)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion

... & for that matter, Sean, what form would this 'excommunication' take. Will a ceremony be held for the public confiscation of one's EFDSS badge [I haven't been a member for years] ~~ or for trimming one's beard and cutting the buckles off one's sandals [mine are velcro-fastened]~~

~~ or what????

{;~)


17 Jul 11 - 06:22 PM (#3189693)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

I have a beard; I even wear sandles (with socks in winter) but I've never been a member of EFDSS. Maybe I was never communicant in the first place?


18 Jul 11 - 07:38 AM (#3189953)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Don Wise

There is, or used to be, a Traditional Music Club (I've been out of the country for 30 years now...) in Nottingham. Very clear,'purist', policy on what was acceptable and what not. Then they booked Nic Jones.....Two sets of 'straight down the line' traditional songs and tunes. Then came the encore....Chattanooga Choo-Choo! As related two days later in Derby,-and not without a certain relish- there were some red faces on the then NTMC committee after Nics gig.


18 Jul 11 - 10:11 AM (#3190024)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Will Fly

From S'oP earlier on:

At one of the first Folk Clubs I used to regularly sing at, floor singers would face the audience (as is the norm) but in doing so would be standing with their backs to a panel of exalted residents. If that wasn't bad enough, the residents would on a raised stage, whereas the floor-singers would be (as you'd expect) on the floor. I often pondered the mindset that lay behind such an inhuman arrangement and hope we will never see it's like again. That was The Bridge Folksong & Ballad, back in the early 1980s, when it was in the basement, and was accepted as perfectly normal.

Coincidence, coincidence. I'm just back from the Bradfield Trad Music Weekend where, in conversation over a pre-session pint at the Royal, an experienced old-stager was reminiscing about various northern clubs. And out of his memory came The Bridge at Newcastle, where - according to him - the residents not only sat in a semi-circle behind the performers, but used to pull faces if they didn't like what he or she was performing. Furthermore, one south country singer and accompanying band were introduced as "southern wankers". The name of the offender and the name of the offended were mentioned, but I refrain from posting them here.

An inhuman arrangement indeed...


18 Jul 11 - 10:43 AM (#3190038)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

Thanks for the confirmation of the set-up, Will, but in all fairness in all the years I ever went there I never once saw any of the residents pull faces. Poker-faced doesn't come close, but they were always respectful, whatever the standard of the hapless turn - be it lofty guest or lowly floor singer. We are, after all, talking about some of the finest singers in the country here, which makes the set-up all the more baffling!

Southern wankers sounds like a Northern joke gone wrong, as often happens when Folkies attempt to be funny on such matters. Such prejudices aren't funny in the first place, let alone trying to make jokes of them. More seriously, I once saw (not in The Bridge) an Geordie-born Asian singer introduced as Not being from around these parts. Despite cringing apologies and pleas of the I'm not a racist variety, she never went back, and neither did I. Such issues run deep, making jokes of them only serves to make them worse, especially as the only non-white faces you get in Folk these days are due to the recent fashion for Morris Dancers to blacken up.

That said, I didn't take offence at a Scottish booking I did once where the MC urged the audience to show me patience, that being a Geordie I wasn't in fact English, rather just a Scot with his brains knocked out.


18 Jul 11 - 11:00 AM (#3190046)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Will Fly

We have a monthly village singaround in a pub near Gatwick. It's always a great night, and the Nepalese landlord and his family make us very welcome, arranging chairs and bringing us free snacks. One of our best nights was when, after some persuasion, we got the landlord and his family to come out from behind the bar and sing us some Nepalese songs - to tumultuous applause. We didn't understand a word, of course, but the music was so good it didn't really matter at the time.


18 Jul 11 - 03:03 PM (#3190198)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket

Just been thinking about your Nepalese landlord Will.

I am sure I too would have enjoyed the experience of hearing him sing it. Encouraging people to express themselves can be fulfilling in itself and if it then provides excellent entertainment, then wonderful. However, I also think that if I were asked what I mean by folk, (available now on another thread, folks!) it wouldn't occur to me to include music and dance from other cultures, that are folk in any interpretation there is, but not my folk. My folk is precious to me, it is the warm beer, good mates, hearing a song that a long lost friend used to sing etc.

Many of the songs in my little world, based loosely on recapturing my own past, I suppose, are not what some would call folk, but I heard them in a folk club. hence they are folk. At the same time, if somebody asks me if I like folk music I might hesitate because they could be about to moan about the ethnic entertainment in a Greek hotel by people in national dress, and touted by the tour company as "folk."

To some, the dancers for tourists may be a pure (that word again..) folk and hearing Dave Burland sing "I Don't Like Mondays" isn't. But for me, it is and like anything really, this is all relative.

Think of this whole debate as relative personal take, and the silliness and vitriol disappears. Even between the usual suspects who love to disagree with each other at every opportunity. My folk is not yours and yours not mine. If it were, it could never evolve and if folk music does anything, it evolves.


18 Jul 11 - 03:51 PM (#3190224)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass

"My folk is not yours and yours not mine. If it were, it could never evolve and if folk music does anything, it evolves."

I think your folk and my folk, aren't all that dissimilar. I think the similarities far outweigh the differences. I think we could easily end up at the same session or same festival and both enjoy it for the very same reasons, albeit maybe coming away with slightly different impressions about slightly different things. You would go up to the bar while that old man sang some long dirgey ballad, while I'd go up to the bar during another 60's acoustic cover. But, we'd both have a smile and a beer and be happy about it all.

As for 'evolution', evolution can keep itself busy elsewhere where the young vibrant things are busy evolving, Folk is about rare fuzzy bearded Hobbit-like creatures and 'the olden days' and an indulgence in unashamedly comforting nostalgia.

I love the revival folk, and I will most assuredly miss them once they are no longer with us. Not convinced yet that I'll be so interested in the 'folk scene' once the new breed of highly musically evolved folkies inherit and reshape it. Time will tell..


02 Aug 11 - 09:44 PM (#3200625)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Good job we settled that problem!


03 Aug 11 - 06:04 AM (#3200794)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray

The sleeping dog wakes, opens a quizzical eye, then goes back to sleep. It's just too muggy a day to be bothered really, so back to dreams of chasing hares over the russet hued hills of autumn.


03 Aug 11 - 09:16 AM (#3200879)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Spencer

Sorry, havent been here for a while, so this is a rather late defence of the Nottingham Traditional Music Club, which was mentioned on this thread 18th July. Unfortunately the club has long gone now. It did, quite unashamedly, have a very clear "purist" policy, but you should remember that in Nottingham in those days there was a folk club most nights of the week, sometimes more than one, and the range of music played was very diverse. There were some where unaccompanied traditional singing was not tolerated (why don't those clubs get the same stick?), many mixed, and then there was the NTMC.

Nobody was forced to attend you understand, but they did. The place was packed, the house full signs would often go up just after the 8pm start. And these were almost always singers' nights. You may have a vision of serious purists sitting around and picking on each others songs - but it was not like that at all. The first half of the evening contained quieter songs, some ballads, some folk club classics. The second half was wall to wall chorus singing acheiving decibel levels I have never heard exceeded outside the Yorkshire Carol sessions. There were good singers, indifferent singers and a few poor ones, but there was never a judgemental attitude. I dont remember the policy ever being enforced, it just happened.

I had left Nottingham before Nic Jones played there, so I can't comment on that night, other than to say that Nic always had a wry sense of humour, and I doubt there was any malice in his final song, and I doubt any offence was taken. The club was not that deadly serious, it was, to my recollection, good fun.

Now I don't say don't criticise the NTMC, it is no sacred cow, and never pretended to be.It was also very much of its time, and I have never found the like since. But it was a place where many of us learned to love the music, and was the start of my 35 year obsession with folk song. Knock it if you must, but don't knock it too hard please.


10 Dec 18 - 02:08 AM (#3965718)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Interesting thread.

It always amazes me that people don't get what all decent guitarists know.

The chords and therefore the form of George Formby's cleaning windows is very similar to Blind Blakes Rag, hugely similar to Sporting Life Blues/ Ain't Nobody's Business done by Billie Holiday and Brownie McGhee. George Gershwins Someone to Watch Over me
Very Similar to Fats Wallers Ain't Misbehavin'
Not totally unlike the unaccompanied Dinks Song.
The Call and Response rather similar to Scarborough Fair.

I mean, really there's damn all pure about it.
It all leaks into each other.


12 Dec 18 - 02:15 AM (#3965844)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: leeneia

Here's a purist for you.

I play music for English country dancers. All except one of us are folkies. The other one went to the London Conservatory of Music for graduate work.

One day our fearless leader selected a Playford dance in four flats. Imagine trying to play four flats on recorder, guitar or accordion. I suggested transposing it, but the the expert said we should "Respect the source." So irritating!

I found an image of the original Playford dance on the Internet and showed everybody the original was in one flat. Purism defeated again.


12 Dec 18 - 02:36 AM (#3965849)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

so this is a rather late defence of the Nottingham Traditional Music Club, which was mentioned on this thread 18th July. Unfortunately the club has long gone now. It did, quite unashamedly, have a very clear "purist" policy,"
imo the problem with that club was some of the people who were involved, all that elitist nonsense about residents sitting on on a sill, nothing wrong in having a clear stated policy,after all there are blues clubs that are solely blues, NTMC problem, imo was the way residents were put on a pedestal which tended to create an atmosphere of pomposityand holier than thou snottiness.


12 Dec 18 - 02:41 AM (#3965850)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

NTMC residents sat on a sill in a slightly elevated position,looking slightly superior, what a way to run a "CLUB,not on first appearances very inclusive


12 Dec 18 - 03:48 AM (#3965856)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

The Nottingham Club and its organisers no longer are around to defend themselves - not an uncommon situation nowadays
My limited memory of the club was of one where I could go and here songs I knew to be 'folk' sung well - if anybody calls that 'purist' they have a peculiar definition of the term
I stopped going to go to most clubs when that ceased to become the case
God - how I miss the old days !!
Jim Carroll


12 Dec 18 - 03:48 AM (#3965857)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

The Nottingham Club and its organisers no longer are around to defend themselves - not an uncommon situation nowadays
My limited memory of the club was of one where I could go and here songs I knew to be 'folk' sung well - if anybody calls that 'purist' they have a peculiar definition of the term
I stopped going to go to most clubs when that ceased to become the case
God - how I miss the old days !!
Jim Carroll


12 Dec 18 - 04:05 AM (#3965861)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Will Fly

Jim, I don't share your passion in listening to traditional folk songs - my musical interests lie elsewhere - but I can sympathise with anyone who yearns for a time before the particular kind of music they love had (in their view) disappeared or lessened.

I'm lucky in that the traditional tune sessions that I'm fond of flower in my area, and that there are many places where I can play ragtime, blues and jazz from the 1920s and 1930s - and other things - on my guitar. If the opportunity to do these things - which I also love - were diminished, then life would be diminished as well.


12 Dec 18 - 05:33 AM (#3965874)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

I used to attend the NTMC.
There was a bloke with a whistle who used to get on my nerves. The tunes never sounded like bugger all. Then he used to say, I've made a mistake, I'll have to start again.
Everyone was too polite to tell him to sod off.

It may well have been an excess of politeness that did for the place eventually.
The organisers were nice people. Syd Pritchett was one. One night Sid told the crowd, they had to be nice and polite to me because in the early days the club featured country music, and I was wearing a country and western H bar C shirt. The thing is, I'was doing trad songs at the time - it was just the only clean shirt I had.


12 Dec 18 - 06:52 AM (#3965883)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

My strongest memories of NTMC involve listening to Roy Harris - a singer of traditional songs without a 'purist' agenda
He sang them because he loved them and assumed that people coming to a club that called its itself "Traditional" would be of a like mind - would that all traditional clubs did the same
Can't see anything 'purist' in that
Wonder if those who use the term apply it to Classical venues who insist on putting on Classical music - or jazz clubs or Country and Western venues...
What makes traditional music so inferior that it has to be watered down or diluted with other forms ?

Seems my life has been blighted by this attitude
I whetted my appetite for live music at one of the finest jazz clubs in the North of England - 'The Liverpool Cavern'
I fecked off when it was attacked by an infestation of Beatles - how purist of me !
Jim Carroll


12 Dec 18 - 09:28 AM (#3965902)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Jim, perhaps a bit of objective analysis of yourself might help,you very rarely go to folk clubs in the uk yet you maintain that you know what is going on in them, you remind me of a character who went off on imaginary adventures... don quixote


12 Dec 18 - 10:57 AM (#3965916)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim, perhaps a bit of objective analysis of yourself might help,you very rarely go to folk clubs in the uk yet you maintain that you know what is going on in them"
I tried for years Dick, and finally gave up
Anything I have heard or read since convinces me that, rather than changing for the better, things have got steadily worse (in the UK, that is)
I've heard and read arguments for not establishing standards of singing at clubs, at not having to learn words but read them off crib sheets or mobile phones, and whenever it is mentioned that folk clubs should present folk songs rather than something you would hear at a karaoke session rather than the clubs I got used to and cut my teeth on, we're drowned out with cries of "purist" or "finger-in-ear"
Here we have a forum where a discussion on "what is folk song" has become a no-go area
Even our academics can no longer distinguish the different between parlour ballads, music hall fodder and early pop songs

I know what a folk song is - I've been listening to to it and singing it fo half a century
I spent thirty odd years talking to people who were part of the continuum of our oral traditions
I have a library of books of examples and arguments on what constitutes folk song
I must have given a few dozen lectures on the subject and made as many radio programmes
If none of this counts, I can always fall back on the fact that I know a folk song when I hear one.

I have no problem with contemporary songs being made using traditional forms - I believe that the scene would be a museum without that happening, but as for a night of poorly performed pop songs, or songs that fell out of favour over a century ago.... not 'My Kind of Folk' I'm afraid   

If I was to your somewhat insulting Quixote analogy I would say you remind me of someone trying to sell me a bag-full of goodies and refusing to open the bag and allow me to see what I am buying
I know what has happened to the folk scene - I've been part of the argument on what now passes for folk here and elsewhere - it has nothing whatever to do with the folk I know and love.
When somebody recommends the modern scene I can usually dig it up on the web - I invariably end up thinking "what the **** was that?"

Rather than talking down to and insulting, ho about taking what I say and show me where I am mistaken?
Much more conducive to a pleasant exchange of ideas, I find
Jim Carroll


12 Dec 18 - 11:06 AM (#3965920)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin

Jim - how about you go to the World's Room in Edinburgh or the Glasgow Ballad Workshop, and sit with duct tape over your mouth until you understand what the fuck is going on in front of you?


12 Dec 18 - 11:15 AM (#3965923)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"how about you go to the World's Room in Edinburgh or the Glasgow Ballad Workshop, "
I know and admire what happens there Jack - unfortunately, that is no longer what the general scene is about
How about cutting the abuse and responding to what I have said, I'm afraid duct tape doesn't work on a discussion forum, so I can't return your ill-mannered suggestion
Jim Carroll


12 Dec 18 - 11:29 AM (#3965926)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Jim Carroll,Mudcats very own Don Quixote


12 Dec 18 - 02:58 PM (#3965937)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim Carroll, Mudcats very own Don Quixote
Sticks and stones Dick, sticks and stones
If you had an answer, you'd give it
Don't worry, you're not alone
The same goes for you as I told Jack
Jim Carroll


12 Dec 18 - 02:58 PM (#3965938)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Jim, I acknowledge your helpfulness as regards your sharing of singing exercises and other facets of Critics Group info, but i really feel that you are not in a position to talk about what goes on in UK FOLK CLUBS ,DUE TO YOUR NOT ATTENDING THEM VERY OFTEN


12 Dec 18 - 03:36 PM (#3965948)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

how often have you been to a folk club in the last year JIM


12 Dec 18 - 05:33 PM (#3965975)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Your behaviour is proving my point Dick
If you had an argument, you would give it
I've made my point as lucidly a I am able - feel free to demolish it
Otherwise, what I said stays unanswered
Sleep well
Jim Carroll


12 Dec 18 - 05:39 PM (#3965978)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

how often have vyou visited folk clubs in the uk in the last year, if you havent or only visited once or twice you are in no position to judge you are like don quixote, you are making judgements on imaginary visirts


12 Dec 18 - 09:33 PM (#3966001)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Roy was a terrific bloke. I've got two of his albums - the live one and Champions of folly of Topic. I think I won them both in raffles.

I remember trying for weeks to win one album at NTMC. An old Irish lady from Birmingham, whose name escapes me.

I don't remember you Jim. Do remember Gren Morris and Steve Whitely. Steve was a tall blond bloke who had a Gibson guitar in the days when they were rare as hen's teeth. He was at the same college I was at. He left the year before I got there, but his folk singing was legendary in our college.

Gren Morris - you can still hear him at the grotto at the major oak in Sherwood Forest singing Robin Hood ballads on tape. Bit spooky actually - the kids were terrified of this plaster outlaw in the branches of a tree and this disembodied voice.

Saw some great acts there.


13 Dec 18 - 01:57 AM (#3966016)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Roy was a very good performer and was IMO very good at getting audience participation and a nice guy.


13 Dec 18 - 02:10 AM (#3966017)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 12 Dec 18 - 06:52 AM

My strongest memories of NTMC involve listening to Roy Harris - a singer of traditional songs without a 'purist' agenda
He sang them because he loved them and assumed that people coming to a club that called its itself "Traditional" would be of a like mind - would that all traditional clubs did the same
Can't see anything 'purist' in that"
of course it is purist, just as blues clubs that sticks to singing blues is purist that does not make it a bad policy,
However running a club that as residents sitting on a sill, looking down at the audience creates a them and us scenario, and is in my opinion not a good way to run a club


13 Dec 18 - 03:20 AM (#3966021)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"However running a club that as residents sitting on a sill, looking down at the audience"
I get a little tired of reported incidents like this - I have got used to them with the Singers Club - they bore no resemblance to the reality of what was happening
'The Singers' operated from a stage facing the audience, as did 'The Wayfarers' and the MSG in Manchester, and 'Thew Empress of Russia', in London and 'The Herga' in Harrow and 'The Grey Cock' in Birmingham virtually every other club I visited regularly - Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool...
This "looking down on the audience" is, as far as I am concerned, a nasty and inaccurate
Who do people who criticise the layout of clubs think they are - little dictators
Any residents who 'looked down on an audience' very soon lost their audiences - these clubs ran for many years
Audences walked away from the folk scene when the standards fell and when they were no longer guaranteed folk songs when they turned up at a folk club = pretty well documented

I've told you why I consider myself in a position to judge Dick - you choose to ignore what I have to say - far more insulting than the NMTC residents "looking down on their audiences" as far as I'm concerned, as is being compared to Dpn Quixote"
You complain about "insulting audiences" by insulting people - do you not find that a little contradictory ?
Sadly, Jack, someone I usually respect, chooses to do the same

As far as I am concerned, until folk clubs rebuild their foundation by making themselves venues where people can go to hear folk songs sung to a reasonable standard they will continue to decline - that's not purism; it's common sense
I've made my points - respond to them politely and stop insulting me - otherwise, we are wasting each other's time
Jim Carroll


13 Dec 18 - 03:20 AM (#3966022)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"However running a club that as residents sitting on a sill, looking down at the audience"
I get a little tired of reported incidents like this - I have got used to them with the Singers Club - they bore no resemblance to the reality of what was happening
'The Singers' operated from a stage facing the audience, as did 'The Wayfarers' and the MSG in Manchester, and 'Thew Empress of Russia', in London and 'The Herga' in Harrow and 'The Grey Cock' in Birmingham virtually every other club I visited regularly - Leeds, Sheffield, Liverpool...
This "looking down on the audience" is, as far as I am concerned, a nasty and inaccurate
Who do people who criticise the layout of clubs think they are - little dictators
Any residents who 'looked down on an audience' very soon lost their audiences - these clubs ran for many years
Audences walked away from the folk scene when the standards fell and when they were no longer guaranteed folk songs when they turned up at a folk club = pretty well documented

I've told you why I consider myself in a position to judge Dick - you choose to ignore what I have to say - far more insulting than the NMTC residents "looking down on their audiences" as far as I'm concerned, as is being compared to Dpn Quixote"
You complain about "insulting audiences" by insulting people - do you not find that a little contradictory ?
Sadly, Jack, someone I usually respect, chooses to do the same

As far as I am concerned, until folk clubs rebuild their foundation by making themselves venues where people can go to hear folk songs sung to a reasonable standard they will continue to decline - that's not purism; it's common sense
I've made my points - respond to them politely and stop insulting me - otherwise, we are wasting each other's time
Jim Carroll


13 Dec 18 - 03:38 AM (#3966024)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

I do not consider you are in a position to judge folk clubs if your judgement is based on watching an occasional you tube clip.
The point of a club is that it is inclusive, the idea of NTMC that residents sat on a sill behind the performers in an elevated position, this type set up often creates a them and us situation,it gives an impression that the residents on the SILL were better or more important than visiting singers.
To criticise a particular aspect of a folk club has nothing to do with being a dictator.
HVING A POLICY THAT INSISTS ON EITHER TRADTIONAL ONLY, BLUES ONLY, OR SONGWRITERS ONLY IS PURIST, the fact it is purist does not automatically mean it is bad.
I am afraid in my eyes you are reminscent oif Don Quixote because until you tell us how often you have visited uk folk clubs when you are living in ireland you are in a similar postion to Don Quxitoe in that you are off on imaginary or NON EXISTENT VISITS


13 Dec 18 - 04:36 AM (#3966036)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Jim, resident perfomers at NTMC were positioned behind performers, on a SILL in a slightly elevated position, LOOKING OUT TOWARDS THE AUDIENCE ,THIS IS AN ACCURATE DESCRIPTION OF THE LAYOUT OF THE FOLK CLUB , THE RESIDENTS WERE KNOWN AS ON THE SILL.
They were seperated from the audience, AND ALSO SAT BEHIND BOOKED GUEST PERFORMERS, this is FACT,and well you know it.
   my interpretation of this is that it created a distancing of the residents from the audience, I also think that as a performer it is better to have all your audience[ including organisers and residents in front of you] where you can see their reactions, i think that when a guest artist is performing it is better for the guest to be able to see the reactions of all the audience including the residents and organisers, ,and is imperative in attempting to give as good a perfomance as possible.
layout of rooms in clubs is important in enabling performers to perform to a high standard


13 Dec 18 - 04:52 AM (#3966039)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,kenny

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that Jim is the only contributer here who is "living in Ireland".
Now we all know that you perform fairly regularly in British folk clubs, Dick, but how many would that have been, this year, say ? Would it be enough to make a general observation as to whether or not Jim's belief that "folk" songs [ however you define that ] are not generally being sung in the folk clubs as they are in 2018 is true or not ? I'm not taking any sides in any debate here, but would be genuinely interested to know.
I speak as one who - like Jim - more or less gave up on folk clubs some years ago for the same reasons as him, but also for an appalling drop in musical standards [ IMHO ].
Do "purists" exist ? Yes, I've been called that myself, but it's not true, and it wouldn't worry me anyway - I've been called worse. :)


13 Dec 18 - 05:31 AM (#3966042)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"I do not consider you are in a position to judge folk clubs if your judgement is based on watching an occasional you tube clip."
Now you are deliberately distorting some of what I have said and deliberately ignoring
You have my arguments here
Date: 12 Dec 18 - 10:57 AM
I don't give a shit how the Nottingham Club behaved - I know from knowing some of those involved that THEY DID NOT "LOOK DOWN" ON THEIR AUDIENCE AS YOU INTERPRET IT - THEY WOULD NOT HAVE HAD AN AUDIENCE, HAD THEY DONE SO

They are to be complemented for choosing not to occupy seats reserved for paying guests, as far as I'm concerned, having had to stand up all night in crowded clubs enough times.

Don' you fdare tell me I am not in a position to judge what is happening when this forum stands as living proof, in its arguments supporting crib sheets, low standards and using folk clubs as 'anything goes' cultural dustbins, of exactly what is happening on the club scene
I'm very grateful for Kenny's contribution - his views represent many of us who walked away when we'de had enough of being let down

What is happening in Ireland on the music scene stands as a shining example of what could be done if the will was there
Kids have flocked to the music without it having to be mixed in with other forms, or watered down
Hey have been taiught by the older generation of masters and mistresses of traditional music at summer schools like The Willie Clancy one here in Miltown, or the Frankie Kennedy one... hopefully The Tommy Peoples planned School will add to that
They don't have to take what they learn as gospel - they are most certainly making the music their own; but they are doing what they do on the raw, unadulterated material and it's paying off in spades - Irish traditional music has now bee guaranteed at least a two generation future thanks to the efforts of a handful of dedicated "purists"
I suggest you come back when you can say the same for the British scene
Jim Carroll


13 Dec 18 - 05:31 AM (#3966043)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"I do not consider you are in a position to judge folk clubs if your judgement is based on watching an occasional you tube clip."
Now you are deliberately distorting some of what I have said and deliberately ignoring
You have my arguments here
Date: 12 Dec 18 - 10:57 AM
I don't give a shit how the Nottingham Club behaved - I know from knowing some of those involved that THEY DID NOT "LOOK DOWN" ON THEIR AUDIENCE AS YOU INTERPRET IT - THEY WOULD NOT HAVE HAD AN AUDIENCE, HAD THEY DONE SO

They are to be complemented for choosing not to occupy seats reserved for paying guests, as far as I'm concerned, having had to stand up all night in crowded clubs enough times.

Don' you fdare tell me I am not in a position to judge what is happening when this forum stands as living proof, in its arguments supporting crib sheets, low standards and using folk clubs as 'anything goes' cultural dustbins, of exactly what is happening on the club scene
I'm very grateful for Kenny's contribution - his views represent many of us who walked away when we'de had enough of being let down

What is happening in Ireland on the music scene stands as a shining example of what could be done if the will was there
Kids have flocked to the music without it having to be mixed in with other forms, or watered down
Hey have been taiught by the older generation of masters and mistresses of traditional music at summer schools like The Willie Clancy one here in Miltown, or the Frankie Kennedy one... hopefully The Tommy Peoples planned School will add to that
They don't have to take what they learn as gospel - they are most certainly making the music their own; but they are doing what they do on the raw, unadulterated material and it's paying off in spades - Irish traditional music has now bee guaranteed at least a two generation future thanks to the efforts of a handful of dedicated "purists"
I suggest you come back when you can say the same for the British scene
Jim Carroll


13 Dec 18 - 06:07 AM (#3966048)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Peter

I have been to clubs that are solidly traditional and clubs where you are lucky to hear one traditional song in an evening. I have been to clubs with high performance standards and clubs that provide a music stand as standard as so many people use cribs.

It is simply a waste of time to generalise.


13 Dec 18 - 06:18 AM (#3966051)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Thankyou Peter.
Kenny, i play regularly in uk folk clubs and festivals, but i have not passed any judgemet on folk clubs , jim has but has not answered how many times he has been over, since i have not passed any judgement it is not for me to answer, however i will say that based on my limited but regularexperiences, i would endorse what peter says


13 Dec 18 - 07:01 AM (#3966059)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"It is simply a waste of time to generalise."
It is virtually impossible not to generalise when you are discussing the general state of the club scene
I have no doubt good clubs exist - I've always enjoyed the Musical Traditions Club in London, but I had a hell of a time finding another which came anywhere near it's standards - that includes the one at Britain's centre of folk excellence at Cecil Sharp house, which, on the night we were there abounded with crib-sheets, forgotten words and out-of-tune singing.
As far as I can judge, compared to how it was when I left, the scene is moribund and the academic side has become revisionist
Not much hope for th future in that - we can't all shoot up to Edinburgh or down to Lewes when we want a good night of folk songs   
I used to think it wasd (to borrow Billy Connolly's phrase) "sick but save-able - not so sure FOLLOWING DISCUSSINIONS LIKE THIS ONE

"but i have not passed any judgement on folk clubs"
You seem pretty keen on denigrating the NTMC
My attendance at folk clubs has no relevance, your refusal to respond to what I actually said has
Piss or get off the pot
Jim Carroll


13 Dec 18 - 07:36 AM (#3966068)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

I was explaining how NTMC was run, factual experience [something you appear to be short on when you judge the folk clubs of 2018] i did not denigrate their booking policy, telling someone to piss off illustrates the bankruptcy of your comments. yourattendance at uk folk clubs is relevant , because if you have not attended any you cannot make an accurate judgement, further proof you are talking hot air


13 Dec 18 - 07:40 AM (#3966070)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST

I know you guys seem like to spend all your time on this forum going round in circles in pointless arguments.

I don't know how many people come on here as people who are interested and start to read this stuff but as outsiders do not understand what you are actually talking about. I am one anyway.

It would be really helpful to hear some examples of the music. That way I would understand more.


13 Dec 18 - 08:00 AM (#3966073)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Vic Smith

Agreed!!! It might also be useful to establish an agreed definition of "purist" so that we might be able to discuss and then perhaps, answer, the original question which forms the thread's title.
As we cannot even agree a definition of "folk music" it seems unlikely that we can agree what constitutes a pure interpretation of it.

I might add that my calendar tells me that I have present at around 75 live folk music events this year so far. A few of them have been disappointing but they are outnumbered by those that I have left feeling uplifted by performances of traditional song and music by performers from England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Wales, The USA and Canada. These included quite a number by younger performers that I had not seen before and I would like to name Daoirí Farrell and Cohen Braithwaite-Kilcoyne amongst these.


13 Dec 18 - 10:01 AM (#3966080)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

The thing is there's plenty of variety of folk clubs. If you don't like one sort, you can go to another. There are some I don't go to - even though they are run by personal friends. Its hard work if you're not enjoying the music.

Some folk clubs are rin by people who dislike me, and I dislike them - but I go to them if theres an artist I want to see.

Its just the way it is. I'm sure its like that for most people.


13 Dec 18 - 10:56 AM (#3966085)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: punkfolkrocker

I've a simple solution, I don't go to folk clubs...
Haven't set foot in one for about 40 years...
Except once about 14 years ago, a pub in Clevedon advertised as a folk night..

Great old pub - real proper job cider - looked promising...

A long haired bloke with a fiddle got up to do a trad tune,
then for the rest of the night was shunted forlornly aside,
while a couple of slick middle aged men in expensive jeans and shirts,
showing off extremly shiny top of the price range looking acoustic guitars,
played Beatles songs for the rest of the night...

The mrs had to stop me heckling belligerently as the cider gradually kicked in...
Yeah.. call me a purist...

We missed the last bus out of Clevedon, and had to fork out for a bloody costly taxi home..

Some wedding anniversary that was.....!!!


13 Dec 18 - 12:06 PM (#3966097)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"I don't know how many people come on here as people who are interested and start to read this stuff"
With respect Guest, these discussions/arguments tend to take place between people who are involved and have been for a while; no way of avoiding that, I'm afraid
Theer are plenty of examples of the music on line to make your own mind - he last few years has benefited from quite a few sites dedicated to traditional music (British Library, School of Scottish Studies, Irish Traditional Music Archive to name a few - I'm quite proud of our own collection on the Clare County Library, but I would be, wouldn't I?
Can't argue too much with Vic's list, but most of us cut our teeth on clubs run by volunteers who didn't get paid - they were a breakaway from the commercial scene that many people seem to have returned to
The clubs I was involved in seldom booked more than one guest a month and relied on dedicated residents to make evenings work
THat seems to be what is happening now in Ireland, the main difference being that the media has little to say on what is happening and Traditional music has won its place in the sun for what it is rather than what can be made from it
Jim Carroll


13 Dec 18 - 12:13 PM (#3966098)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin

Reddit's r/ChoosingBeggars would love Jim. Maybe I could repost a few selected requirements there.


13 Dec 18 - 12:18 PM (#3966099)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: punkfolkrocker

Its about 20 years since I had a brief project involvement with folk South West and Eddie Upton...

Is it still active to any extent...??

Just googled, but no website...???


13 Dec 18 - 12:36 PM (#3966101)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Haven't a clue what your talking about Jack - would love some argument rather than insults though
C'mmon fellers pretend it's Christmas - bring it on !!
Jim Carroll


13 Dec 18 - 12:52 PM (#3966103)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin

The way to find out what I'm talking about is to actually look at it.

Kinda like folk clubs in other countries - you have to go there to know what they're like.


13 Dec 18 - 01:21 PM (#3966106)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"you have to go there to know what they're like."
Sigh.....
no I don't Jack - I've been told often enough that I have no right to expect to hear folk songs at a folk club
You're not unlike the people who have told me that I have no right to comment on British politics because I no longer live there

Just looked up Reddit whatsit and got this

"Hey people
Free shit from the admins? Sure, sign us the fuck up! Oh, it's for "coins". Maybe not then, I think we should at
least get a pencil or a t-shirt or something. After all, literally all of us have cancer and need life-saving reddit
merchandise to keep going.
Men, whatever, let's do it anyway.
Here are the categories that/u/jackson1442 came up with. So it's his fault for being unoriginal, and my fault for
being okay with that."

Decided I can't be arsed with such offensive insulting - I have no idea what relevance it has to this discussion other than allow to to insult and slip out of the back door
I used to think you were better than that - we live and learn - you are little better than the worst
Jim Carroll


13 Dec 18 - 01:29 PM (#3966107)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Jim when did you last visit a folk club in the uk and how many didd you visit in 2018, if you did not visit any then please stop pretending that you know what goes on in them in 2018, and since i have not pontificating about what happens in all of them i do not have to answerkennys politicians type question , my experience is based on regular visits to folk clubs and festivals in 2018 and is only limited to those i have visited, approx 20


13 Dec 18 - 02:12 PM (#3966110)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim when did you last visit a folk club in the uk and how many didd you visit in 2018,"
Mind your own business Dick - it hasd nothing to do with the points I am making - the ones you are studiously avoiding

What has happened to the folk scene is public knowledge unless me and kenny and the many who have posted on this forum are telling lies - is that what you are suggesting

The fact that you and Jack and many others are forced to resort to personal insulting rather than open discussion says all that needs to be said about the present scene as far as I am concerned
I can go to the local schoolyard and watch the kids throwing insults at each other if that's what I am looking - intelligent discussion is harder to come by - here too, it would seem n
Jim Carroll


13 Dec 18 - 02:17 PM (#3966111)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: punkfolkrocker

Why does google [in Chrome] keep offering to tranlate this thread...!!!???


13 Dec 18 - 03:08 PM (#3966119)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Oh Wow Punkfolk rocker. Are you from Clevedon?

When I was 18, I was totally besotted and in love with a girl from Clevedon. But she was haughty proud and a mature woman of 22. I had a shrewd suspicion she avoided my company.

We weren't a good match really. She liked Mahler. I thought there was no bloody tune you could sing along to.

Her name was Jane Hirst. Do you know her?


13 Dec 18 - 04:05 PM (#3966129)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: punkfolkrocker

"Are you from Clevedon?"

Al - nah.. nowhere near wealthy enough...!!!

Clevedon is an exclusive exotic resort
located near the northern most coastal reaches of Scrumpyshire...

I grew up miles away where the modern factories used to tempt lowly rural agricultural workers
away to the bright electric lights and big town vice and depravity;
abandoning their jolly idyllic traditional folk singing lives,
breaking their backs ploughing the fields, harvesting, and sweating their bollocks off for the country gentlefolks...


13 Dec 18 - 06:35 PM (#3966145)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Yeh! you're right. It might have been my sweaty bollocks that didn't fit in with the gay social whirl of Clevedon.
She married a French bloke who looked a bit like Sacha Distel.
I think that's at the bottom of why I voted for Brexit.


13 Dec 18 - 07:09 PM (#3966151)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,21st Century Primitive

So, at least in part, the has descended into the usual thing of old men arguing about whether folk clubs are any good.

I don’t go to them very often, but I do know this. Two minutes from my house, I can attend a gathering of people in a room in a pub who sing mainly traditional songs, some accompanied, some unaccompanied. Some of the singers are fucking marvellous, some are a bit shit, most are somewhere in between. The choruses always sound fantastic. There are no guests, no residents, no hierarchy - it’s all about the singing and the songs. It’s not really a folk club, with all that implies, but something far more primal and essential than that: a small community of people gathering together to do what people do - bringing themselves and each other pleasure by singing together.

It’s good and it’s enough. The fact it doesn’t meet some arbitrary folk standard set by someone who is not part of it matters not a shit. It’s what we do, it’s what people have always done and in some ways, it’s a reclaiming of traditional songs from those who would tell us shit we really don’t need to know.


13 Dec 18 - 08:01 PM (#3966158)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

I suppose its true you don't need to know anything. Someone said its possible to go through life thinking the moon is made of green cheese,e one aspect of folk   but its not a great idea. I think the more you understand, the more tolerant you are of what the different singers at a folk club are trying to achieve.

And it can enhance your enjoyment - I have found.
In fact I think the real problem happens when someone thinks because they understand and appreciate one aspect of the folk music movement, another aspect is valueless.


14 Dec 18 - 03:03 AM (#3966186)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,21st Century Primitive

To make myself clear, because I realise I didnt above, the “stuff we don’t need to know” I was referring to was business about how this folk thing should be done properly.


14 Dec 18 - 03:17 AM (#3966187)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"So, at least in part, the has descended into the usual thing of old men arguing about whether folk clubs are any good."
We owe our songs to "old men (and women) - without them, we wouldn't have have the decades of pleasure
and knowledge that we got from the gifts that they gave us.
I always thought it polite never to mention their age - another change that has taken place, it appears (they even have a label for it now - 'ageism)
These arguments have always taken place, as far back as 1300 years ago, when The Venerable Bede groused about having his sermons interrupted by cattlemen passing a harp around and singing lewd songs - they have been a part of the learning curve and have helped sustain the interest in the songs of the people.
If we can't argue about them here, we may as well forget them
Sorry, and all that.
All I know is that sometime in the 80s it became common to walk into a folk club and not hear a folk song
Thousand like me shared that experience and walked away from the scene
I'm delighted that some are still going - many hundreds of clubs disappeared, as did the magazines and the dozens of record labels
Dick mentions visiting 20 folk clubs last year - I could have visited that many in a week within a short driving instance of my home
That is no longer the case in the U.K. and that is what the scene lost

Some of us continued to work on folk song, singing where we could, amassing recorded examples of folk songs proper and making them available to those interested and ascertaining that was was available would survive for future generations to make use of.
I make no apologies for arguing about what I believe to be happening - sadly, the abuse and the reluctance to argue the facts only confirms my opinion that, if the British scene doesn't get its finger out the scene will die.

30 odd years ago, when I was visiting Ireland regularly to record songs, music lore and information, I believed that the few of us around would be the last
Thanks to old (and young) men and women arguing, proselyting, setting up schools, raising money.... to build a foundation for the survival of the traditional arts, Irish folk traditions have now been guaranteed a future for at least another century
Young people are flooding onto the scene to take up the music, and at last, the songs (slowly) - not as career opportunists but for the sheer love of it.
They don't sit around hurling "purist" and "finger-in-ear" abuses - they know what the music is ans they realist its importance
Rather than denigrating the old, they realise that it is they who helped keep the music alive - the present renaissance is based on young players and singers listening to and beinng taught by these crumblies
Jim Carroll


14 Dec 18 - 03:26 AM (#3966189)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

To make myself clear - it was never about being done "properly" - it was and is about it being done proficiently - nobody is going to sit and listen to bad out-of-tune singing read from crib sheets
There have been enough complaints here of a hostility towards traditional unaccompanied songs in some clubs
Our own experience was when my partner, Pat, tried to arrange a tour for the last of our big traditional singers, Walter Pardon
The phoned a club organised who advertised itself as "folk" and when asked what Walter did, explained his performance, repertoire and importance
She was told, "We don't do that sort of thing - we're a folk club"
Jim Carroll


14 Dec 18 - 03:42 AM (#3966194)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Some bloke

Just had a read through. I think I still agree with what I said only seven years ago but might be a bit less dismissive of those who go around printing labels.

Hi Jim.....


14 Dec 18 - 03:43 AM (#3966196)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

jim, if you have not visited any clubs in 2018 you cannot make a n up to date judgement, you have to qualify your statements with[ eg when i last visited a club in year whatever, and then be careful not to generalise from one particular example. that doers not make your criticism of one or maybe two clubs not valid, that is the essence of my point


14 Dec 18 - 03:52 AM (#3966198)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

I have [based on my limited experience] come across three or four good young floor singers. my opinion[based on only a few visits] is that the lowest standard is in singaround clubs, i noticed also contemporary singers singing with fake american accents, a few people shuffling through wads of paper before singing, but less people playing out of tune guitars and saying [it was in tune when i bought it, a phenomenon commom in the eighties]i did notice one singer who also performed well with a wordsheet


14 Dec 18 - 04:14 AM (#3966200)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"jim, if you have not visited any clubs in 2018 you cannot make a n up to date judgement, y"
We had a parrot who kept repeating the same thing over and over and over again - he didn't know what she was talking bout either
I've given you may answer to that Dick - that you offer no reply means you don't have one
Thank you for making my point

"who go around printing labels."
Labels tell us what tins to open - it stops us eating rice pudding out of soup bowls
If we don't name the songs we promote we may as ell just call our clubs song clubs and be done with all this "folk" crap
Don't know what you said seven years ago

Hi Some Bloke
Jim


14 Dec 18 - 11:07 AM (#3966247)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

I've given you may answer to that Dick - that you offer no reply means you don't have one
Thank you for making my point2
It is you that has not replied . how many uk folk clubs did you visit in 2018


14 Dec 18 - 11:14 AM (#3966253)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

The point is Jim - whether its your idea of folk music, or the definition - its music that arose from the rise of the folk clubs, and wouldn't have been there, but for the folk clubs.


And he's right. We are olde, and we Do have a certain fondness for arguing.


14 Dec 18 - 11:45 AM (#3966264)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: punkfolkrocker

"We are olde, and we Do have a certain fondness for arguing."

There are pukka scientific/medical explanations for this common phenomena...


No point anyone being in denial.

Own our old belligerent miserable gitness..!!!

We've lived long enough to earn it...

Stand up proud and loud, shout out to the world...

"I'm a nasty old **** and I don't care...!!!!!!!"


14 Dec 18 - 12:30 PM (#3966272)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"its music that arose from the rise of the folk clubs,"
Of course it didn't Al
The term as applied to the ordinary people originated in the 1983s, the earliest sound recordings of English folk songs were made in 1908 and published collections were being made available throughout the 19th century - Sharp and his mates were ferreting away at the beginning of the 20th century
The Folk clubs were very much a latecomer on the scene and they were based on the result of a century or so's work.
Others supplied the raw material, the clubs dropped the ball   

Finished with you Dick - you have had my answer - your question is irrelevant and frankly, none of your business
The arguments that have gone on here, what can be put on as folk music, standards of performance, the massive exodus out of the scene (20 clubs in a year nationwide - are you serious?), the hostility towards unaccompanied singing.... all have been raised her by people - tell me they have not, or tell me the people who raised them were lying
If you can't, you really do have no case
Jim Carroll


14 Dec 18 - 12:43 PM (#3966276)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: punkfolkrocker

Make's you think dunnit...

A Scrumpyshire ancestor of mine could just as likely have provided Sharp with a few songs...

Probably the ditties he was too bashful to publish to decent society...???

Collected outside a pub after closing time...???


14 Dec 18 - 01:20 PM (#3966279)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Kenny asked me that same question i answered , i have nothing to hide/
Jim you clearly have not visired any folk clubs in the uk in 2018, otherwise you would tell us


14 Dec 18 - 01:30 PM (#3966280)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Cant remember visiring anywhere Dick - you clearly have no argument against what I have pointed out has gone wrong with the folk scene otherwise you would tell us
Game, set and match, I think
Jim Carroll


14 Dec 18 - 01:57 PM (#3966288)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Absolutely..the winner! Jim Carroll Undisputed champion of the Mudcat ...

It must be my age, I've forgotten what game we're playing.


14 Dec 18 - 02:18 PM (#3966290)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Nah - you never win with Dick - he doesn't listen
A quick point
He boasts tohave visited 20 clubs and festivals
We're talking about clubs here so that number is diminished somewhat
Most of those he would have visited as a booked guest - hardly a position to see whether a club is working or not - such evenings are never representative of what goes on
When push comes to shove, I reckon that cuts is visits down somewhat - little more than the half dozen I visited over the last twelve months - a tiny fraction of the number of clubs left if Britain
Now what can that possibly say about the scene in general   
Jim


14 Dec 18 - 02:18 PM (#3966291)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Nah - you never win with Dick - he doesn't listen
A quick point
He boasts tohave visited 20 clubs and festivals
We're talking about clubs here so that number is diminished somewhat
Most of those he would have visited as a booked guest - hardly a position to see whether a club is working or not - such evenings are never representative of what goes on
When push comes to shove, I reckon that cuts is visits down somewhat - little more than the half dozen I visited over the last twelve months - a tiny fraction of the number of clubs left if Britain
Now what can that possibly say about the scene in general   
Jim


14 Dec 18 - 02:45 PM (#3966294)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

jim you have admitted that you have not been to a uk folk club in 2018,so stop passing judgements because you are not up to date with whats happening..why, because you havent been to any uk folk clubs for a long time, when were you last in a uk folk club. 3years go?


14 Dec 18 - 03:07 PM (#3966299)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"jim you have admitted that you have not been to a uk folk club in 2018"
I din't think you were taking any notice of what I wrote Dick - - unless you are calling me a liar go back and read what I wrote
Either way, it makes no difference how many I have visited - the ones you have make you not the slighted more qualified than I am
I don't need to visit any - I have heard your and others arguments at what passes for a folk club nowadays
If you are not going to contribute anything useful, get out of the way and make room for those who are
You are becoming a pest - to put it politely
Jim Carroll


14 Dec 18 - 03:40 PM (#3966303)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

you would make a good politician. answer the questions, if you have not visited a folk club in the uk for two years you are not imo qualified to talk about the uk folk club scene


14 Dec 18 - 05:27 PM (#3966313)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Oh come on Dick.. Since when have we examined peoples qualifications? Bleeding Christmas, for godsake...!


14 Dec 18 - 06:00 PM (#3966314)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

It doesn't hurt either of us, that its his opinion.

We may think he's wrong. He may think he's right.

Everyone's still alive. Its not like he's strapping on a suicide vest. ordering summary executions. Handing out fatwahs.

He's just saying we're wrong and he's right. Perhaps he is right, What the fuck does it matter. It doesn't stop us practicing folk music how we believe in it.


14 Dec 18 - 06:16 PM (#3966316)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: punkfolkrocker

...and they said the war would be over by xmas.....


I know, let's have a mudcat "I'm right, you're wrong" Advent calendar,
each day we can pop open a window to see who has won the prize of being right for that particular day...

[Disclaimer: contestants randomly chosen by AI, and not who is most in favour with mods - honest...]


15 Dec 18 - 03:59 AM (#3966347)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

My apologies - once again I have helped to nause up an important thread by rising(sic) to one of Dick's diversions - finished, as far as I'm concerned

I think Vic's earlier suggestion was an excellent one - if we want to discus 'Purism' - the subject of this thread, we should first define what we, as individuals, mean by the term, which has now become one of the most common terms of abuse in what is left of the revival

The clubs I have been involved with have all presented newly-made songs created using traditional forms and have accepted the use of instruments for what are basically unaccompanied singing traditions - nothing particularly 'purist' about that (though I do recognise the right of some clubs to discourage instrumentation should they wish, without believing them to be 'purist' - down the years there have been various reasons to do so in certain circumstances

All the clubs I have ever been involved in have been rooted in traditional song and music - had they not been, I would not have been involved if they hadn't been
They have also established a standard of performance that you did not drop below before you sang before an audience - I believe that should always be a responsibility, particularly to a paying audience (I've never been part of a singaround club - I know that maintaining a standard is difficult there, but I do believe that, with careful MC-ing, a balance between good and not-so-good singing can be arrived at.

Most of the clubs I have had access to workshops where lesser experienced singers can obtain advice and practical assistance, should they wish it.
Sandra Kerr of the Singers Club?Critics Group established the 'London Singers Workshop, which ran for nearly twenty years, did some excellent work and established one of the largest private sound archives in Britain - still in existence and available for use.

What ran though all this work like a thread was a solid link to folk-song proper as documented, collected and researched - that was used as a foundation for anything I have ever been involved in
If that is 'purist' I put my hands put to being a purist      
Jim


15 Dec 18 - 11:04 AM (#3966384)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Never any shortage of advice in folk clubs Jim.

no apologies necessary from you. EVER! merry christmas!


15 Dec 18 - 11:23 AM (#3966390)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge

I `ad that Sublime Ashtray in my cab the other day. `e was going through a long established thread on that Mudcat and it was all about Purists but what with the racket from the traffic and all I couldn`t `ear exactly what `e was on about.
I now gather `e said, "`ere Jim, you and your band `ave been on the folk music since Adam was a boy, do you believe Purists exist?"
I said, `cause they do. I`m driving `em around London every day of the week".
`e said, "I said Purists, not TOURISTS, you wally!!"


Whaddam I Like??


15 Dec 18 - 12:39 PM (#3966405)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Firstly i have not boasted about anything , i was asked by kenny how many times i had visited folk clubs in 2018 ,i gave him an answer.
Jim gives an opinion about uk folk clubs but refuses to answer as to the amount of times he has visited uk folk clubs in 2018.
the question is important , because if anyone has not visited a folk club , they cannot give an up todate opinion that can be taken seriously.
Al Whittle, I suggest to you that people who have not visied a uk folk club for two years cannot give a serious opinion on the matter , what has christmas got to do with any of this?, I have witnessed Jim running down folk clubs on this forum for years, he has finally been exposed for what he is.


15 Dec 18 - 01:09 PM (#3966413)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"merry christmas!"
And you Al - ster cleat of the mistletoe - it tastes like ****
Jim


15 Dec 18 - 03:02 PM (#3966422)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Andy7

'Purists' is an anagram of 'stirs up'.

Some profound meaning there, surely? ;-)


15 Dec 18 - 05:11 PM (#3966448)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin

This thread has turned into a piss rut.


15 Dec 18 - 06:02 PM (#3966455)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

Strip us!


15 Dec 18 - 06:03 PM (#3966456)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

Tup, sirs?


15 Dec 18 - 06:08 PM (#3966457)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

Well it's good for cleaning paint brushes!


15 Dec 18 - 07:16 PM (#3966472)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Dick....it doesn't matter! the world will revolve, tories will be bastards, the sun will rise, the gigs will come in, we will do them,   some people will say - John Denver ! I love folk music!, some people will say Ewan always put the other finger in his ear at that point, the grass will grow, the birds will sing....probably.

Merry Christmas!


16 Dec 18 - 03:45 AM (#3966516)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"but refuses to answer as to the amount of times he has visited uk folk clubs in 2018."
14 Dec 18 - 02:18 PM
Not that it matters
Why not make a New Years Resolution to read what peopple write

Jim Carroll


16 Dec 18 - 04:32 AM (#3966522)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

Drily, sir expostulates!


16 Dec 18 - 05:20 AM (#3966531)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

i do not believe that post of yours, jim.


16 Dec 18 - 05:52 AM (#3966533)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Its there in black and white, Dick.

We are what we are.

It is Christmas . Merriness!


16 Dec 18 - 05:53 AM (#3966534)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Ho1 ho! ho!


16 Dec 18 - 08:18 AM (#3966558)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"i do not believe that post of yours, jim."
Don't give two ***** Dick
I don't believe you didn't see it first time round =- how 'bout that
Jim Carroll


16 Dec 18 - 08:18 AM (#3966559)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"i do not believe that post of yours, jim."
Don't give two ***** Dick
I don't believe you didn't see it first time round =- how 'bout that
Jim Carroll


16 Dec 18 - 09:26 AM (#3966573)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Jim , if you think you can be taken seriously, after as you claim, only a few visits to folk clubs, yet you contune to denigrate folk clubs bade on only a few visiuts give it a break.


16 Dec 18 - 10:02 AM (#3966576)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: punkfolkrocker

... and... The war drags on - Donovan

It won't be over by xmas.. will it...???


16 Dec 18 - 10:43 AM (#3966582)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

I fully intend to continue a discussion - without Dick
It woud be good if, instead of throwing in snidre comments, other people corrected me if they think I am wrog in my assessment - c'mon, it's Christmas
Jim


16 Dec 18 - 11:20 AM (#3966595)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: punkfolkrocker

Remember when mudcat allowed use of emoticons...

My favourite, almost signature icon, was the cheeky winky eyed sticky out tongue emoticon.

Back then, over sensitive folks could not so easily mistake good natured tongue in cheek mickey taking as "snide"...


16 Dec 18 - 12:09 PM (#3966603)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Sorry if I mistook your meaning PFR - bit difficult distinguishing the Wood from the trees after an encounter with Dick
Blame it on the shell-shock
But Donovan !!!!!!!
Jim


16 Dec 18 - 12:37 PM (#3966611)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: punkfolkrocker

yes Donovan.. serves you right...

.. I could resort to even worse punishments...

You do know I used to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of shite pop folk...

Luckily for all mudcatters, age is impairing my memory...


16 Dec 18 - 12:52 PM (#3966614)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Andy7

So you keep telling us ...    :-)


16 Dec 18 - 01:06 PM (#3966617)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: punkfolkrocker

Andy - getting old is a big novelty for me - it's all new...

Respects to the mudcat elders who've already been there and dunnit a long time ago...

Did I say my memory is going...???


16 Dec 18 - 01:19 PM (#3966621)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Jim like trump you seem t5o believe in post truth


16 Dec 18 - 06:46 PM (#3966686)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Andy7

Yes I agree, getting older is a strange experience.

One of its effects, for me, is that I'm much less of a 'purist' than I once was.

I used to seek out, and learn, old traditional songs to sing at folk clubs (as well as a couple of songs from a few 'accepted' folk artists, like Dylan, or S&G).

Now, I sing a much wider variety of songs; and, more importantly, I'm happy to accept, and enjoy, a much wider variety of songs from others.

Yes, I do still really enjoy hearing those old, unaccompanied, traditional songs. But I also like to hear other stuff; I love the variety I hear in my local clubs. Songs I may never have heard, if I'd just stayed at home and watched YouTube.

I have my likes and dislikes, of course, as does everyone. But to be honest, I'd probably have stopped going to local clubs long ago, had every song performed there been a long, unaccompanied, traditional ballad.

So ... to keep me as a very supportive member - who helps put out and pack away tables and chairs, and who runs the bar occasionally, when the organisers can't make it - you need to give me some variety! And I'm sure I'm not alone in that opinion!


17 Dec 18 - 03:50 AM (#3966737)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Can't disagree with any of that Andy, except it doesn't apply to just now - I have always enjoyed other types of music, jazz, swing, opera, classical....
It's not a matter of what yoy 'enjoy' - it's what you pass off as 'folk' at 'folk' clubs
My interest in folk music in folk music has always been as a singer, a listener and a researcher, documenter and passer-on of folk songs and other folk arts
At one time, they all coincided - I could write about and lecture on what I sang and what I listened to - that no longer applies in Britain
I believe we have lost our 'folk' identity
Jim Carroll


17 Dec 18 - 04:13 AM (#3966744)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Ihere is plenty of variety amongst traditional songs,if people want to sing Xliff Richard songs ,why do they not form a pop acoustic club.
I would not turn up at a jazz club and expect to hear an unaccompanied tradtional song such as long lankin,unless it was played as a tune and improvised upon/


17 Dec 18 - 04:18 AM (#3966746)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

I believe we have lost our 'folk' identity"At one time, they all coincided - I could write about and lecture on what I sang and what I listened to - that no longer applies in Britain
I believe we have lost our 'folk' identity
Jim Carroll
what a sweeping generalisation, jim dismisses all the fiddle and accordion clubs in scotland,all the morris dancers all the folk customs suchas padstow etc


17 Dec 18 - 05:10 AM (#3966754)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Andy7

It would be great if there were lots of 'purist' folk clubs for those that want them. But there are not, and nor are there likely to be.

Even the 'non-purist' folk clubs that we have now often struggle to keep going. But at least they do; and among their variety of music, they do preserve some of the 'purist' tradition in the offerings from some members (including from magpie singers like me, now and then).

So, rather than mourn the loss of what we once had, let's value, and enjoy, what we have now!


17 Dec 18 - 05:39 AM (#3966759)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Observer

"rather than mourn the loss of what we once had, let's value, and enjoy, what we have now!"

Pray tell, what is there to rejoice and enjoy about, when the weekly, fortnightly and monthly fare consists of extremely mediocre renditions of old pop songs mumbled by people who are not particularly good singers reading the words and having to interrupt their own accompaniment by pausing to scroll up on their "tablet" - they'd be better off in a Karaoke Bar.

The odd thing is that with this wealth of material available to them on these effin' tablets, they keep coming out with exactly the same shitty numbers week in week out without showing any sign of improvement.


17 Dec 18 - 06:22 AM (#3966764)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"It would be great if there were lots of 'purist' folk clubs for those that want them"
"Purist Folk clubs" is like saying "purist greengrocers or "purist" stationers
Folk is what folk clubs are supposed to do - that's our product identity and it's what we contract to give to those seeking it
Folk Clubs are struggling to keep going because those interested in folk can no longer find what they're looking for and those seeking something else can find it far better done elsewhere

"extremely mediocre renditions of old pop songs mumbled by people who are not particularly good"
Wish I'd said that
Jim Carroll


17 Dec 18 - 06:57 AM (#3966771)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Vic Smith

Punkfolkrocker wrote:-
"Remember when mudcat allowed use of emoticons..."


How true! Sometimes I just do not know how to express myself without putting one of these evocative symbols to express how I am feeling.


17 Dec 18 - 08:16 AM (#3966780)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Not sure what you're saying Vic
Jim Carroll


17 Dec 18 - 08:20 AM (#3966781)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: punkfolkrocker

Vic - you can be as smug as you like...*
but when folks are quickly dashing off posts to a forum,
a well chosen emoticon is now an established form of communication
as part of busy modern life...
We can't all spend time drafting each post as though we are writing a great elequent novel...

[* you may or may not be intending to convey a smug sense of disdain and superiority...
It would be much easier to discern if you used a good expressive emoticon....

Unfortunately 'improvements' to mudcat coding no longer permit this useful facility...]


17 Dec 18 - 09:02 AM (#3966786)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Vic Smith

It would be much easier to discern if you used a good expressive emoticon....
Waht do you mean like ?


17 Dec 18 - 09:08 AM (#3966789)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: punkfolkrocker

??


17 Dec 18 - 09:13 AM (#3966791)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: punkfolkrocker

see.. the emoticon plugin in Chrome still don't work...

If you wanna do something useful with yer clever bugger coding skills,
how about giving me a copy and paste for FACE WITH STUCK OUT TONGUE AND WINKING EYE
that I can keep handy on notepad...


17 Dec 18 - 09:53 AM (#3966799)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Vic Smith

As others know, when attempts are made to draw me into exchanges of insults, I will not participate and retreat from the field. Anyway, as part of my busy modern life, I have far too much to do; I need to complete the present chapter of my great elequent novel. (You will be pleased to hear that it is going well as the moment) Then it is my turn to cook before we have a 35 minute drive to a monthly club where we expect to partcipate in an evening devoted exclusively to traditional songs and tunes. Life is good!
Exeunt


17 Dec 18 - 10:45 AM (#3966810)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: punkfolkrocker

"when attempts are made to draw me into exchanges of insults"

Eh...????

have you forgot you are the one who dropped in playing clever buggers for no apparent reason..

"Vic Smith - Date: 17 Dec 18 - 06:57 AM"

Btw.. I was serious asking for advice on coding that emoticon...

but alas, that is the kind of misunderstanding emoticons can help prevent...???


17 Dec 18 - 10:58 AM (#3966812)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST

Pfr, if all else fails, you can always view the page source (on some browsers, right click on the page and select the option from the popup menu) and look for the post.

Simplifying Vic's post a little, I get:

<font face = wingdings size = "+36">&#9786;</font>


17 Dec 18 - 02:09 PM (#3966852)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

'Pray tell, what is there to rejoice and enjoy about, when the weekly, fortnightly and monthly fare consists of extremely mediocre renditions of old pop songs mumbled by people who are not particularly good singers reading the words and having to interrupt their own accompaniment by pausing to scroll up on their "tablet" - they'd be better off in a Karaoke Bar.

The odd thing is that with this wealth of material available to them on these effin' tablets, they keep coming out with exactly the same shitty numbers week in week out without showing any sign of improvement.

The Observers Book of Folk Music.


17 Dec 18 - 06:03 PM (#3966897)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Andy7

No folk club I've ever been to - and I've been to many, over the years - has ever consisted of an entire evening of extremely mediocre renditions of old pop songs mumbled by people who are not particularly good singers reading the words and having to interrupt their own accompaniment by pausing to scroll up on their tablet.

What I have experienced, is friendly and welcoming groups of people, who perform, and enjoy, a wide variety of music - from those 'old pop songs' to traditional unaccompanied songs, and very much else besides.

True, most performers are not experts at their craft, and many use words to sing from. Maybe they've only recently started out. Maybe their memory is not as good as it was. Maybe having the words there, just in case, gives them the confidence to perform. Does that mean those people shouldn't be allowed to sing?

If I want to listen to top performers, I'll pay to go to a concert, which I do from time to time. And if I want a relaxed evening of friendship, lighthearted banter and a wide variety of music, some of which is of a very high standard, I'll go to a folk club.


17 Dec 18 - 06:57 PM (#3966901)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bee-dubya-ell

Is a purist someone who plays a pur?


18 Dec 18 - 01:44 AM (#3966931)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Observer

"True, most performers are not experts at their craft, and many use words to sing from. Maybe they've only recently started out. Maybe their memory is not as good as it was. Maybe having the words there, just in case, gives them the confidence to perform. Does that mean those people shouldn't be allowed to sing?"

1. You do not have to be an expert. But IF you are going to "perform", i.e. impose yourself on a group of innocent bystanders, in public you owe it to THEM and the venue to pass as being competent.

2. "Many use words to sing from" - Never used to be the case, that has crept in over the years, to now becoming accepted as being the norm. Again if you are going to sing in public have the decency to actually learn your material.

3. Only problem with the "Oh it helps my memory" angle, or as a confidence booster, is that it would appear that the more they use the words the more they appear to rely on the words, they never ever get any better - If you do not "know" a song after singing the damn thing twenty-odd times - give up you re never going to learn it.

4. As for the singing, the short, hard and cruel answer if you are interested in maintaining a standard is no they shouldn't "perform" until they know their material well enough to perform it. Their obvious need for these supports screams that they themselves are uncomfortable and unsure. As previously stated use of such props would be mitigated if over the course of time they actually showed some signs of improvement, but they don't.


18 Dec 18 - 02:03 AM (#3966932)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

2. "Many use words to sing from" - Never used to be the case, that has crept in over the years, to now becoming accepted as being the norm. Again if you are going to sing in public have the decency to actually learn your material. or alternatively practise using wordsor printed material , so that like an actor you canm do a professional performance


18 Dec 18 - 02:58 AM (#3966938)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

I think Andy is either missing or avoiding the poit
I can get
"What I have experienced, is friendly and welcoming groups of people, who perform, and enjoy, a wide variety of music "
Where does "folk song" fit into this - if it doesn't, why call yourself a "folk Club"
I can get welcoming groups of people anywhere and a wide group of material in a karaoke session
It is possible to ge an occasional gem in a poor session, but unlss you establish a standard, the likelihood of doing so is reduced considerably
It is unfair to expect those who have taken the trouble to learn the words and tune after the atmosphere has been lowered by those who haven't
One dreadful singer can ruin an entire evening - sadly, that's what the audience will remember
I helped run singers workshops all the years I have been involved in folk song and have come to the conclusion that, with very few exceptions anybody can become a proficient singer and the harder they are prepared to work at it, the better they will become

Again, I find myself in total agreement with 'Observer'
Anybody who sings in front of an audience without putting in the work shows contempt for the audience and for the songs - you owe putting in an effort to both

MacColl said it all for me in a long interview we did over six months back in the 80s

"Now you might say that working and training to develop your voice to sing Nine Maidens A-milking Did Go or Lord Randall is calculated to destroy your original joy in singing, at least that’s the argument that’s put to me from time to time, or has been put to me from time to time by singers who should know better.   
The better you can do a thing the more you enjoy it.   Anybody who’s ever tried to sing and got up in front of an audience and made a bloody mess of it knows that you’re not enjoying it when you’re making a balls of it, but you are enjoying it when it’s working, when all the things you want to happen are happening.    And that can happen without training, sure it can, but it’s hit or miss.   
If you’re training it can happen more, that’s the difference.   It can’t happen every time, not with anybody, although your training can stand you in good stead, it’s something to fall back on, a technique, you know.   It’s something that will at least make sure that you’re not absolutely diabolical……………
The objective, really for the singer is to create a situation where when he starts to sing he’s no longer worried about technique, he’s done all that, and he can give the whole of his or her attention to the song itself, she can give her or he can give his whole attention to the sheer act of enjoying the song."
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 18 - 04:31 AM (#3966945)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller

"Many use words to sing from" - Never used to be the case, that has crept in over the years, to now becoming accepted as being the norm. Again if you are going to sing in public have the decency to actually learn your material. or alternatively practise using wordsor printed material , so that like an actor you canm do a professional performance"

It's this sort of self-righteous, dogmatic attitude that drives people away from performing folk music. Certainly you should practice and try to attain the best performance you can, but having the words in front of you in case of a 'senior moment' can only be of benefit to the audience and shouldn't detract from the delivery. That's why every orchestra in the world and most professional choirs have the score in front of them. When I go to watch The Sixteen - probably the most sublime singing ensemble I've ever heard - they always sing from the score; to not do so would be considered totally unprofessional.


But, hey, Observer, you set out your list of rules and the rest of us can tell you, and all the other purists, where to stick them.


18 Dec 18 - 04:43 AM (#3966948)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"It's this sort of self-righteous, dogmatic attitude that drives people away from performing folk music."
Fraid not - the scene diminished to nothing when the choice of what you heard when you went to a folk club was removed
THere were a long series of articles in 'Folk Review' which predicted the decline fairly accurately
What can possibly be "dogmatic" about expecting to hear folk songs reasonably well sung - it is really beyond me and I've yet to see anybody explain it

It is insulting to an art form to suggest it should not be carried out well
Little wonder that Folk has never been taken seriously by more than a tiny handful of devotees
Even pop fans make demands on their idols = what is wrong with ours that so many denigrate it with an "anything goes" attitude ?
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 18 - 05:13 AM (#3966953)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

Jim, this has been discussed ad nauseum. People will never agree on a definition of folk music so your insistence that your definition is the only one of any merit will always cause controversy. Our folk club was and still is well attended and a typical singers night will see a majority of songs belonging to your definition but will also contain a small number that you would not regard as folk. It is far from the 'anything goes' definition that you seem to think is prevalent but it is not rigidly stuck in the past either.

You seem to have cause and effect confused when you say that folk clubs started to decline when they started to deviate from your view. It was the other way round. Folk clubs started to decline well before the introduction of a more relaxed regime. The definition became more flexible to try and breathe a bit of life into a dying club scene. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn't. C'est la vie.


18 Dec 18 - 05:19 AM (#3966956)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

declining folk clubs are a result of anumber of different factors, soory whats dogmatic about asking people to practise and try and do a good job. i have changed my opinion and am prepared to accept people reading words... if they have practised


18 Dec 18 - 05:22 AM (#3966958)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Observer

"Certainly you should practice and try to attain the best performance you can, but having the words in front of you in case of a 'senior moment' can only be of benefit to the audience and shouldn't detract from the delivery."

Really fed up with this "senior moment" crap. But of course in this part of the above ".... having the words in front of you in case of a 'senior moment' can only be of benefit to the audience and shouldn't detract from the delivery." - The SHOULDN'T being the operative word. The reality is however it does detract and detract massively from the delivery compared to someone who has:

A - Learned the song
B - Sings it in key
C - Has worked out the phrasing of the song to deliver it in accordance with their interpretation of it

None of that can be done whilst hesitatingly reading the words while trying to sing them.

If you are seriously trying to equate someone singing a folk song to a group of people singing in a choir, or playing in an orchestra then I am sorry you are knowingly comparing apples to oranges as the latter two disciplines are NOT solo performances but multi-part collaborative pieces where those involved are singing and playing under direction that requires the highest discipline and perfect timing. The Score you see in their hands let's those holding them know what the others are doing and tells them when they should come in, something you do not need if you are performing on your own.

By the way someone sat there in public attempting to play and sing something that they haven't bothered to learn in a halting and hesitant manner, intermittently apologising while they stop to scroll their tablet - would not under any circumstance count as any sort of performance.


18 Dec 18 - 05:26 AM (#3966959)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"People will never agree on a definition of folk music s"
Nence the shambles of the club scene
There is a well documented definition - the fact that a handful of revisionists have decided to redefine it is immaterial - folk song is what it always has been
If we can't be arsed to either accept that definition or come up with one that we can all agree with we may as well leave it to rot, as it is doing
I told you why I believe it started to decline and when - nothing to do with "my view"
We knew what folk song was then - go look at the Topic catalogue - go and look at Roud's list before he decided to wander off in another direction
Folk song is as well documented as any other musical form; better than most - if we all want to have our own private definition we really are wasting our time - and I and many like me have wasted our lives
Jim


18 Dec 18 - 05:26 AM (#3966960)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"People will never agree on a definition of folk music s"
Nence the shambles of the club scene
There is a well documented definition - the fact that a handful of revisionists have decided to redefine it is immaterial - folk song is what it always has been
If we can't be arsed to either accept that definition or come up with one that we can all agree with we may as well leave it to rot, as it is doing
I told you why I believe it started to decline and when - nothing to do with "my view"
We knew what folk song was then - go look at the Topic catalogue - go and look at Roud's list before he decided to wander off in another direction
Folk song is as well documented as any other musical form; better than most - if we all want to have our own private definition we really are wasting our time - and I and many like me have wasted our lives
Jim


18 Dec 18 - 05:28 AM (#3966961)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Observer

Changes and the way things are going with "Folk"? Clubs are in decline, "House Concerts" and "Village Hall Concerts" are on the rise. The one thing that you have strict control over in the latter two is IF you do have floor singers at all the person hosting the event can select who performs.


18 Dec 18 - 05:28 AM (#3966962)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin

I take it this is the sort of thing Jim doesn't believe exists?

The World's Room, Edinburgh

It's good but it's hardly unique. Just happens to be the easiest for me to get to.

Waiting for Jim to chime in with reasons why it can't exist, or must be really horrible because he had a bad time at some venue in Birmingham 40 years ago.


18 Dec 18 - 05:49 AM (#3966964)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

I told you why I believe it started to decline and when - nothing to do with "my view"

Yes it is Jim. You told us what you believe. Which is precisely your view means. I, and many others, disagree with that view but, again, that is only opinion. The only fact that can be verified is that there are not as many folk clubs as there used to be. There are a number of theories as to why that is but until someone can verify one as true that is all they are. Theories.


18 Dec 18 - 06:01 AM (#3966968)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Yes it is Jim. You told us what you believe. "
No it isn't Dave - I've told you that the songs we always knew as folk were not mine - they are the ones documented as such - ir really is nothing to do with my views or tastes
If you have an alternative feel free to offer it, but please do not belittle it by suggesting the one I hold is "mine"
All "opinions" need to be based on something - I've told you what mine is - Child Sharp - and over a century of research, what are yours based on ?
The revival was built on the material collected by the BBC in the 1950s... what 'the folk' sang and almost certainly made
Nowadays, the club scene appears to be based on whatever takes the fancy of whoever participates - I find that insulting
I don't know who is lkely to turn up to hear centuries old pop songs that lived for a short time and then were forgotten - but they are now being given Roud numbers
This is nonsense
I have some idea of your political views and I assume that someone who calls himself "The Leveller" holds similar ones
Where does "The Voice of the People" figure in all this - and where does the hostility which often arises when that voice is discussed come from?
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 18 - 06:12 AM (#3966969)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

Jim. Your exact phrase is 'I told you what I believe'. That indicates it is your view or opinion. If that is not what you meant please tell me what you really did mean.

My alternative view of why folk clubs declined is that the massive increase of them in the 50s and 60s could not be sustained. The bubble burst. They fell out of favour, as did 60s music and bell bottomed trousers. These things are all cyclical. Nothing is new. They all come and go as does everything else and trying to hold on to what happened in the past is pointless.

And please note that I am not saying folk music is out of favour. It isn't. It is just the type of folk club that you are referring to has had its day.


18 Dec 18 - 06:47 AM (#3966970)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

" That indicates it is your view or opinion. "
No Dave - I have a long-held consensus and I have the evidence to back up that consensus - what can you offer in return ?

"The bubble burst. "
The bubble burst when the folk boom ended an the music industry lost interest
After that, the folk scene gathered its forces and established itself with its own labels, a plethora of magazines and new writings
It continued until the clubs moved away from folk song and opted for bums on seats
You are entitled to your opinion, of course, but unless to can substantiate that opinion with facts it remains only your opinion

Try this
I have just met you on line and I asked you to describe this folk song I keep hearing about - how would you go about it, or where would you point me to to read the subject up
Feel free to ask me the same question, of course

"It is just the type of folk club that you are referring to has had its day."
So a music that has survived for centuries has "had its day" because a rapidly diminishing bunch of ageing2 folkies no longer find it interesting - how sad (if I for one minute accepted it)
In the interview I quoted from above MacColl, I bridled somewhat when MacColl said
"I used to think that folk song would survive forever, but I have come to believe that it will only die if it falls into the hands of people who don't like it or understand it"
It seems he might have hit the nail squarely on the head

Jim


18 Dec 18 - 06:53 AM (#3966972)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST

"I used to think that folk song would survive forever, but I have come to believe that it will only die if it falls into the hands of people who don't like it or understand it"
It seems he might have hit the nail squarely on the head"
   Gentlemen please ouch ! (fair play to you) ;)
Right what's the next topic.


18 Dec 18 - 07:03 AM (#3966974)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"I take it this is the sort of thing Jim doesn't believe exists?"
Why should I not believe it exists or that the Ballad Workshop exists in Glasgow , or I can't go to The Musical Traditions in London and hear a good night of folk sons well sung....
Are yuio suggesting that the sme proliferates throughout Britain or that we should all nip up to Edinburgh or Glasgow or London whenever we fancy a good folk song ?

What is being argued for here is exactly the opposite Jack, that what happens in these venues "has had its day" in the club scene and no longer has any relevance to modern life
Does that not impact on you in any way ?
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 18 - 07:03 AM (#3966975)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

So a music that has survived for centuries has "had its day" because a rapidly diminishing bunch of ageing2 folkies no longer find it interesting

Jim, you are being obtuse. Whether that is purposely or otherwise is irrelevant but it is quite simple to look back at my post where I say

"And please note that I am not saying folk music is out of favour. It isn't. It is just the type of folk club that you are referring to has had its day."

Where in that statement do I say that the music has had its day?

You are entitled to your opinion, of course, but unless to can substantiate that opinion with facts it remains only your opinion

As does yours, Jim. You have come up with no proof whatsoever. Restating your opinion over and over again does not constitute proof.

An interesting coincidence just cropped up. A good friend of mine and stalwart of our folk club stars in this short film. It is a bit heavy but well worth 13.5 minutes to see what can happen when you believe that yours is the only truth.

Enjoy

A Nick Short film.


18 Dec 18 - 07:46 AM (#3966981)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"As does yours, Jim. You have come up with no proof whatsoever.
I've told you where it was documented - I can probably dig out the articles if you really don't believe me
You wouldn't be the first one to call me a liar on this thread - I respect your, it doesn't concern me a bit what the other feller thinks of me, what you do matters

"Where in that statement do I say that the music has had its day?"
" It isn't. It is just the type of folk club that you are referring to has had its day."
You appear to be saying that the folk song I envisions is solely my own invention and that there is so room for it on the present scene
If that's not what you are saying, what exactly are you saying ?
Where can we go to here folk songs if it isn't in a folk club?
If what goes on at today;'s clubs has nothing to do wwith folk song why is that not damaging folk song beyond repair

I asked you a question and I would be very much obliged if you answered it
I haven't the faintest idea what relevance your film has to do with this
Jim


18 Dec 18 - 07:54 AM (#3966983)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin

Another one Jim doesn't believe exists:

FB group for Glasgow Ballad Workshop


18 Dec 18 - 07:59 AM (#3966986)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

I asked first, Jim.

Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome - PM
Date: 18 Dec 18 - 06:12 AM

Jim. Your exact phrase is 'I told you what I believe'. That indicates it is your view or opinion. If that is not what you meant please tell me what you really did mean.


You never addressed that point but I am happy to address yours. I said absolutely nothing like the folk song I (you) envisions is solely my own invention and that there is so room for it on the present scene My exact phrase, for the second time, was "And please note that I am not saying folk music is out of favour. It isn't. It is just the type of folk club that you are referring to has had its day."

How you get your interpretation out of those words is beyond me I'm afraid.

And, yes, please dig out any proof you have that folk clubs started to decline because they relaxed the rules on what music could be performed. I would be very interested to see actual proof, not your opinion or someone else's conclusion, but solid evidence please.

The film was, just as I said, an interesting coincidence. It does not apply specifically to this thread but to all discussions where anyone believes that their 'way' is better than anyone else's.


18 Dec 18 - 08:10 AM (#3966988)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"It isn't. It is just the type of folk club that you are referring to has had its day.""
I envision a folk club where people can go and hear folk songs reasonably well performed - nothing more
If that is out of date than we no longer have a place to go to hear folk song - or to draw people into listening to folk songs
"their 'way " again Dave - now becoming insulting - it's not "my way" - it's the way is was
You have yet to answer my question so I'll repeat it

"I have just met you on line and I asked you to describe this folk song I keep hearing about - how would you go about it, or where would you point me to to read the subject up
Feel free to ask me the same question, of course"
Put simply, what do you mean by "folk song"?

"Another one Jim doesn't believe exists:"
Either we cross-posted (though I have had the same thing before) or you are just bening bloody-mindedly obtuse Jack

Jim Carroll


18 Dec 18 - 08:21 AM (#3966990)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

You still have not answered my question either, Jim. What did you mean by 'I told you what I believe'. To me that indicates that it is your view, not fact. Unless your belief comes from facts that you, as yet, have not given us.

But, yet again, I will address your point. If someone asked me what folk song was I would say I cannot describe it in words alone and give them a couple of songs that I perform. Or invite them to Swinton folk club to listen :-)

And there is nothing at all insulting in what I said. You asked what relevance the film had. I said it demonstrates what happens when any single person or group insists that their way is the only right way. Nothing whatsoever to do with folk clubs or you. You are either looking for insults where non exist or tilting at straw men.


18 Dec 18 - 08:30 AM (#3966991)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

I envision a folk club where people can go and hear folk songs reasonably well performed

People can still go to folk clubs to hear 'folk songs reasonably well performed'. They can also go to concert halls, village halls, community centres, festivals, pubs, house parties, and any number of venues where they can hear the same. Some folk clubs did, rightly or wrongly, generate a poor image. It is the type of folk club that perpetuated that image that has, quite rightly, had its day.


18 Dec 18 - 08:51 AM (#3966994)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST

I'm not understanding the heat here. I personally don't think there is anything to worry about. It's in good hands there is peer review to keep it in check, and excellent tutalidge.
Everyone knows how change and innovation works in these disciplines and i've not noticed decline in fact quite the opposite.
       I would imagine the demographic here is not really the target audience for the short vid posted above. That sort of thing aimed at a younger audience I would imagine.Hopefully at our age those type of lessons are learned already.


18 Dec 18 - 09:01 AM (#3966996)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

What you described are unspecified concerts where anything goes on
A far cry from venues which were set up to listen to and perform folk song
There is no guarantee of hearing a folk song at any of those venues - nor can there be expected to be
Festivals are for the already initiated and they tend to be somewhat "in" affairs - and even they are disappearing - go count the number of major festivals that no longer take place

If you van't describe a folk song I'm afraid that it means you don't know what one is yourself - I think that makes my point perfectly
I went to Swinton many years ago and listened to folk songs - from the sound of it, I am no longer guaranteed to be able to do that now

"Some folk clubs did, rightly or wrongly, generate a poor image"
I can't remember any that presented a poorer one than the one you describe - one where I'm neither guaranteed folk songs or a reasonable standard or, in some cases, haven't even bothered learning them
Jim


18 Dec 18 - 09:03 AM (#3966998)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,patriot

there are lots of people- some on this thread, who in the context of folk clubs & suchlike, look down their nose at any material, however well- performed, which does not conform to their opinion of what 'folk'music is.

these people see themselves as standing guard over the 'purity'; of the music,

Conclusion- Purists DO exist and you don't have to look far to find them       Q.E.D.


18 Dec 18 - 09:17 AM (#3967001)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

If you van't describe a folk song I'm afraid that it means you don't know what one is yourself

I cannot describe nuclear fission but I know what the effect can be. I do know what I believe to be a folk song and you can look me up performing some at Swinton if you like. It may not agree with your definition but it is the best I can do. I am more than happy to accept other peoples definitions while fully understanding that no single one of them is the full picture. Can you say the same?

I can't remember any that presented a poorer one than the one you describe - one where I'm neither guaranteed folk songs or a reasonable standard or, in some cases, haven't even bothered learning them

I have never described a folk club let alone suggested that people performing should not learn their songs. The only one I mentioned was Swinton. If you visited there, chances are we met. I was doorman and oft times MC from the offset and only stopped doing so some 5 years back. It has always had the same ethos so, if you enjoyed it then, you still will.

Straw man once again, Jim.


18 Dec 18 - 09:22 AM (#3967002)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

There is no guarantee of hearing a folk song at any of those venues - nor can there be expected to be

Regardless of the venue, if I go to an event that advertises a folk artist I can guarantee that I will hear folk songs. My point is that folk clubs are not the exclusive custodians of folk music.


18 Dec 18 - 09:34 AM (#3967005)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

I've just realised how arrogant your posting is Dave
Sorry, we no longer do folk songs in folk clubs - piss off to the village hall and see if they're doing them
Talk about a hostile takeover
I was here not long after the beginning - I've invested best part of my life in understanding and proliferating folk songs - I helped run workshops, sett up clubs, been part of the making of a dozen albums and sas many radio programmes, was part of establishing the Archive in The British Library and have ammassed one of the largest private arcives in these Islands - I've have given around thirty lectures on the subject (with Pat), and now I am told I have to vacate the scene I helped set up to people who can't even describe the folk song they claim to peddle
That is arrogance to the utmost degree

Patriot
Nothing here has anything to do with "purity" - please have the good manners to read what is written
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 18 - 09:35 AM (#3967007)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

By the way P - Dave has made my point perfectly - if I want to here folk songgs I ahve to go at the local village hall and hope they are putting them on
Sheesh......!
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 18 - 09:35 AM (#3967008)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

By the way P - Dave has made my point perfectly - if I want to here folk songgs I ahve to go at the local village hall and hope they are putting them on
Sheesh......!
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 18 - 09:49 AM (#3967012)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,paperback

Just trolling by...

From: Bee-dubya-ell

Is a purist someone who plays a pur?

Purtiful


18 Dec 18 - 09:55 AM (#3967014)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

I have said none of what you have taken apparent offense at, Jim. Please feel free to link where I have said anything remotely like anything in your rant against my so called 'arrogance'. I suspect that you are riled at something that does not exist. Let's look at the facts rather than the misinterpretations.

1. There are fewer folk clubs than there used to be. You believe that this is due to them relaxing the rules but have provided no facts to back this up. I believe there are fewer because things have moved on.

2. Because things have moved we can now get good quality folk music at a host more venues than the traditional style folk club. They exist side by side and long may that situation continue.

3. In my experience, which is nowhere near as extensive as yours but may be more up to date, there is good quality folk music available in regular folk clubs across the country. My in depth experience is with one club in the north west of England but when I used to travel a lot I found good clubs from Bracknell to Newcastle and Cambridge to Dudley with a lot of places in between. When selecting hotels my first criterion was a nearby folk club!

4. Nowhere has anyone asked you to vacate anything. That is yet another straw man.

I can only suggest that you go back and read my postings to this thread with an objective eye rather than a hostile attitude. If you cannot do that, please stop accusing me of saying things that I have not even suggested.


18 Dec 18 - 10:04 AM (#3967015)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

THings have not moved on Dave - the clubs have been taken over by people who are not prepared to put folk songs on - that is not moving on
How dare you tell me to go somewhere else to listen to folk songs ?

I don't know fully what may or may not be happening across the country but if your arguments here are representative, I fear the worst
I have not misrepresented anything you said, I have read it carefully with growing horror and have replied to it as best I can

If you are not prepared to put on folk songs at folk clubs you are guilty of conning people - it really is as simple as that.
You are also damaging folk song, probably irreparably
Sadly
Jim


18 Dec 18 - 10:19 AM (#3967020)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

If you are not prepared to put on folk songs at folk clubs you are guilty of conning people

I don't know how many ways I can say this, Jim. There is still a wealth of high quality folk music being performed in folk clubs across the country, including the one I helped to run for 35 years.

But don't take my word for it. Take a look here - Folk Clubs

The relevant passage is

The number of clubs began to decline in the 1980s, in the face of changing musical and social trends. In London Les Cousins in Greek Street, where John Renbourn often played, and The Scots Hoose in Cambridge Circus, were both casualties. The Singers Club (George IV, Lincoln's Inn) closed its doors in 1993.

The decline began to stabilise in the mid-1990s with the resurgence of interest in folk music and there are now over 160 folk clubs in the United Kingdom, including many that can trace their origins back to the 1950s including The Bridge Folk Club in Newcastle (previously called the Folk Song and Ballad club) claims to the oldest club still in existence in its original venue (1953). In Edinburgh, Sandy Bell's club in Forest Hill has been running since the late 1960s. In London, the Troubadour at Earl's Court, where Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Sandy Denny and Martin Carthy sang, became a poetry club in the 1990s, but is now a folk club again.

The nature of surviving folk clubs has also changed significantly, many larger clubs use PA systems, opening the door to use of electric instruments, although drums and full electric line-ups remain rare. The mix of music often includes American roots music, blues, British folk rock, and world music as well as traditional British folk music. From 2000 the BBC Radio 2 folk awards have included an award for the best folk club.
18 Dec 18 - 10:45 AM (#3967026)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,kenny

"In Edinburgh, Sandy Bell's club in Forest Hill has been running since the late 1960s".
That's "Wikipedia" for you - when was "Sandy Bell's" in Edinburgh ever a "club" of any sort ? If a ludicrous statement like that is left to stand unchallenged, I see no reason to lend any credence to anything else in that article.


18 Dec 18 - 10:50 AM (#3967027)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

Then I can only suggest that you put in an amendment Kenny. I have only been to Sandy Bells once and on the night I was there it had all the traits of what I saw at the White Lion on most singers nights. It was not in a private room but an organiser went round the room asking if people wanted to perform and the music I heard was, in that main, traditional folk. I am pleased to say I sang but there were so many there I only got chance to do one!


18 Dec 18 - 11:00 AM (#3967028)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"There is still a wealth of high quality folk music being performed in folk clubs across the country, including the one I helped to run for 35 years."
The evidence it to the contrary Dave - certainly that being presented here
Your list of village halls and peivate gatherings is fairly indicative that I can't go to folk clubs for folk songs
I certainly have no intention of taking an anonymous Wiki article which lumps together Renborn, Dylan, Les Cousins and The Singers Club as representing the club scene   
I know when the scene brean to decline from personal experience to first hearing folk songs sung badly to when you could come away from an evening without hearing anything resembling a folk song
I'm not alone in this - others here have had experiences similar to mine - notably Observer
I know many others who have had the same experience
The scene, at its best, was made up of clubs where unpaid residents were capable of taking an evening totally independent of the starts, cultural democracy at is highest -m now I have to go to a local village hall and hope somebody knows what a a folk song - you appear not to
It's always seemed to me that when you become involved in folk-song (or any artistic form) you commit yourself to your subject
Folk song is, to me more important than most because it hasn't been treated with much respect by the arts Establishment
When the scene itself drops the ball, that becomes a catastrophe
Jim


18 Dec 18 - 11:00 AM (#3967029)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"There is still a wealth of high quality folk music being performed in folk clubs across the country, including the one I helped to run for 35 years."
The evidence it to the contrary Dave - certainly that being presented here
Your list of village halls and peivate gatherings is fairly indicative that I can't go to folk clubs for folk songs
I certainly have no intention of taking an anonymous Wiki article which lumps together Renborn, Dylan, Les Cousins and The Singers Club as representing the club scene   
I know when the scene brean to decline from personal experience to first hearing folk songs sung badly to when you could come away from an evening without hearing anything resembling a folk song
I'm not alone in this - others here have had experiences similar to mine - notably Observer
I know many others who have had the same experience
The scene, at its best, was made up of clubs where unpaid residents were capable of taking an evening totally independent of the starts, cultural democracy at is highest -m now I have to go to a local village hall and hope somebody knows what a a folk song - you appear not to
It's always seemed to me that when you become involved in folk-song (or any artistic form) you commit yourself to your subject
Folk song is, to me more important than most because it hasn't been treated with much respect by the arts Establishment
When the scene itself drops the ball, that becomes a catastrophe
Jim


18 Dec 18 - 11:16 AM (#3967038)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Observer - PM
Date: 18 Dec 18 - 05:28 AM

Changes and the way things are going with "Folk"? Clubs are in decline, "House Concerts" and "Village Hall Concerts" are on the rise. The one thing that you have strict control over in the latter two is IF you do have floor singers at all the person hosting the event can select who performs."
and that is how it still is at guestbooking folk clubs in my experience. and how it was back in guest booking folk clubsin the past , if you were not good enough you did not get on


18 Dec 18 - 11:17 AM (#3967039)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Observer

Sandy Bell's - Singers nights? I've only ever heard tunes sessions played there.


18 Dec 18 - 11:38 AM (#3967043)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

jim ,is right it is important to encourage people to perform and improve their performances,
but selecting singers on the basis of what they sing is something different, personally i do not want to hear buddy holly songs, however the last person i heard do them was Andy Caven, who was a practised competent good performer.
I booked him at the folk club i ran because the audience asked for him, i also booked nic jones john and julia clifford steve turnerjohn and sue kirkpatrick, the club did not have a massive fall off in attendance because i once booked andy caven


18 Dec 18 - 11:43 AM (#3967045)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

oh i dunno. theres always been a fair bit of shite around. in fact folk on bbc4 is a a bit of turn off for me. i prefer real shite, like you get in folk clubs.

who needs record company folk.


18 Dec 18 - 11:52 AM (#3967048)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,21st Century Primitive

Jim!

Having the opportunity to attend folk concerts at a variety of venues is a good thing. Don’t knock it.

And if Dave the Gnome is irreparably damaging folk I’ll eat my hat. He may be a mighty force, but I doubt the Great Destroyer is from Swinton.

I know why folk clubs declined. It’s because of my generation- the punk generation. We didn’t come along to keep the flame that your generation had lit alive. We got caught up doing other stuff. Meanwhile, there are far more people far younger than me playing traditional music than there are people of my generation, but for many of them, the standard-issue folk club isn’t where they chose to do it. That’s ok. Different generations do things different ways.

Now then. This business of knowing what a folk song sounds like. I’m going to call bullshit on that. Some jolly romp from the Coppers’ Songbook sounds nothing like a Scottish big ballad sounds nothing like piedmont blues sounds nothing like Bulgarian open voice singing sounds nothing like Finnish joik. As we know, folk song does not have a sound but a process...


18 Dec 18 - 12:01 PM (#3967051)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,21st Century Primitive

Saw these two in a room above a pub in Todmorden. Not a folk club and they retain LG don’t claim to be folk. Excellent stuff nonetheless.

Meg Baird and Mary Lattimore - Fair Annie


18 Dec 18 - 12:02 PM (#3967052)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST

retain LG? WTF? Try ‘certainly’!!


18 Dec 18 - 12:18 PM (#3967056)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Having the opportunity to attend folk concerts at a variety of venues is a good thing. Don’t knock it."
I don't and I never have, but they should not be where I have to go to here decently sung folk song
Punk had nothing to do with the decline of folk song (actually, folk songs haven't declined, they exist in their many thousands in recordings and song collections - hopefully for future generations to benefit from what this one appears to have discarded)
What has declined is the opportunity to hear them (unless you live in Edinburgh, Glasgow or Swinton, it would appear)
As far as recognising folk when you hear it - of course different cultures produce different sounds - if you cast your net wide enough, you learn to recognise the genuine article in any culture once you familiarise yourself with it
Nevertheless, there is a thread which goes though manty that are related
In The Song Carriers, Macol starts by taking a recording of an Azerbaijani Bard and playing it into Oaddy Tunney's singing - a remarkable comarison
He then goes on to a recording of a Canto Hondo singer from Spain and runs it into Maggie Barry, the Irish Street singer - amazing similarities of style

Ewan and Peggy once say Joe Haney down and played him a selection of folk and non folk foreign recordings - Joe identified most of the traditional ones - brothers in their respective cultures
Our late friend and neighbour, Tommy McCarthy, came home from Bulgaria full of the similarities of what he had heard from musicians there

I'm not taking a pop at what he does, far from it - I just find what he is telling me extremely upsetting
I now live in Ireland and have watched the tradition move on from what I believed to be its last legs, to one with a thriving future
THat didn't just happen; it was worked for by dedicated individuals who recognised what was happening and turned it around
If I didn't believe that could happen in the U.K. I really wouldn't be arsed arguing
If something isn't done soon the scene will end up as passive recipients of what remainsof our folk song rather than participants of it
Concerts and festivals should b an added bonus, not objects in themselves
Our music was once the property of unpaid, unprofessional performers and song-makers - concerts are for passive observers
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 18 - 12:18 PM (#3967057)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST

what is LG? Sorry I am dense and have never been to a folk club.


18 Dec 18 - 12:51 PM (#3967073)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

Dave-ja vu.


18 Dec 18 - 01:12 PM (#3967080)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST

We all knew 'Ewan & Peggy' would get in on it eventually!


18 Dec 18 - 01:55 PM (#3967091)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

600


18 Dec 18 - 01:56 PM (#3967092)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

701. Maths was always a problem even when I was teaching it!


18 Dec 18 - 02:42 PM (#3967101)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"We all knew 'Ewan & Peggy' would get in on it eventually!"
Oh dear, not another bout of necrophobia
Why not, as they were to of the greatest contributors to folk song in Britain
May as well quote Ewan here as you all seem too shit scared to discuss his ideas
Ewan and Pegg were sacrificing a night a week to singers requesting help while most of the people who are still digging Ewan up for a ritual kicking 30 years after his death

One of the sure signs that something is rotten in the State of folkland is the fact that discussing 'what is folk' is a no-go area on this form and whenever two of folks great performers and songwriters are mentioned all present reach for the crucifix and garlic
What is wrong with you people ?
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 18 - 02:52 PM (#3967107)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Should read
"while most of the people who are still digging Ewan up for a ritual kicking 30 years after his death were getting on with their careers
Jim Carroll


18 Dec 18 - 03:00 PM (#3967108)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

It was not a singers night observer. It had the traits in that someone went round asking if anyone wanted to do a bit but when someone started a tune a lot of people joined in. More like a session but with spots for solo artists if they wanted them.

Jim. We will just have to disagree. There are, according to the link I gave, 160 folk clubs. If you include venues such as mentioned earlier, there are probably double that regularly showcasing folk music. My experience has been that the majority is good quality with a minority of either poor performances or inappropriate music. I am equally sure that there are some where the quality is poorer than the ones I know are good. At those I know you would not be disappointed in the slightest.

The best way I can thinks of to prove it to you is not by conflict but with the hand of friendship. Book yourself a flight to Leeds one Friday. It is peanuts now. I shall pick you up and take you to the Keighley club. Stop over at ours for the weekend, all on me. We shall find something going on in the Leeds/Bradford area and I will drive. Have the other weekend day off for a tour round the dales. Monday I shall take you to the Skipton club. Tuesday I will take you to the airport for your return flight.

One of two things will happen. You will either see that the folk scene is still vibrant or you will prove that my definition of folk music leaves a lot to be desired! I am pretty sure it will be the former and you will enjoy what you see and hear.

What have you got to lose?


18 Dec 18 - 05:15 PM (#3967128)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

Very generous offer, Dave. If that doesn't work you could go that bit further to the Sheffield area hotbed which has oodles of talented youngsters playing folk music, and they know their stuff as well.

The folk scene in England at the moment is certainly vibrant, probably moreso than when we old farts were at it in the 60s, it's just more diverse and doesn't necessarily follow the rigid patterns set up in the 60s. Any current setbacks are definitely down to the economic climate, and not a lack of interest.


18 Dec 18 - 05:31 PM (#3967130)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

There are also a lot more singarounds and sessions than there were in the 60s.


18 Dec 18 - 06:46 PM (#3967136)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Andy7

If I were at a folk club singaround where certain contributors on this thread were present, and I had carefully prepared a performance of one of the most indisputably traditional folk songs in the country, which I'd learned and practised to within an inch of perfection, I'd probably still be too scared to sing it when my moment came ... just in case my interpretation of the song was historically inaccurate, and I ruined it for everyone there! ;-)


19 Dec 18 - 04:04 AM (#3967174)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Andy you do not seem to understand what i am saying,1. there are a number of contributory reasons for folk clubs closing ,2 you do not seem to understand Iam only asking that people to try to do their best perfomance which means respect for the audience practising, if i was present at the same club as you i would not offer any opinion unless you asked me, i certainly would not comment on any historical inaccuracys, furthermore there is no such thing as a perfrmance being historically inaccurate, tradtional music has to evolve and change, i may not like your perfomance or style, but , i would not comment unless you asked me


19 Dec 18 - 04:24 AM (#3967176)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Andy7

Those are fair points.

My post was meant to be a lighthearted one! Because the mood of this discussion has been rather too dark at times; we should all be able to hold differing views, and have a lively discussion, without being negative/aggressive towards the views of others.

Okay, then ... I'll have a bash at that traditional folk song after all ... "The moon is up, the spirit's bright, we're here tonight, and that's enough, simply having ..."


19 Dec 18 - 04:28 AM (#3967177)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

I like the one that begins 'Iiiiiitttsss Chriiiissstttmaaaaasss' better :-)


19 Dec 18 - 04:29 AM (#3967178)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"just in case my interpretation of the song was historically inaccurate"
Do you have friends who insist on that sort of thing Andy - I've never known anybody who did
I find dishonest comments like that a confirmation of my arguments
No-one in my half century's involvement in folk song has ever demaned either historical or stylistic "accuracy" in folk song - both would be an impossible objective anyway - theer is no such thing as "historical accuracy"
Why make something up like that ?

This is a strange and extremely depressing argument
On the one hand, Dick has insisted that I have no right to comment on the scene because I don't go to enough of them; on the other; on the other, people, particularly Dave says that the scene is exactly as I describe and I have no right to expect anything else becuse it "has moved on".

I did a tour around what's available on line (including some that have been recommended to me) and found little, if anything that resembles a healthy folk scene - a lot of the writers of insipid songs, largely over-accompanied enough to make the words unfollowable and invariable, sung in a stange, Mid-Atlantic accent
A few exceptions, but not enough to make me believe things are going to improve in the near future

I no longer live in Britain and I know I can look forward to a folk scene that with continue to thrive
I can listen to good traditional music and song, well excecuted, on the media any night of the week - mainly played by new musicians in their late teens and twenties (singing has a little way to go yet, but there are signs that it's getting there)
This one-street town in the west has six nights of live traditional music - some nights have a couple of sessions going at the same time.
That in itself is a leap forward, usually the number of nights reduce to three after the visitors have stopped coming

What upsets me most about all this (and the animosity and dishonesty it arouses) is, it doesn't effect me personally - our collection has found a welcoming home which will guarantee that, long after we've turned up our toes, people will be able to listen to Walter Pardon and Harry Cox and Sam Larner, the Stewarts, The Travellers.... and many others we met or were given recordings of, singing and talking about their love of folk song proper
It's just a pity that those recordings will be housed in Limerick rather than London as the UK has no home for what they have to say and sing - and the clubs are apparently not interested anyway

MacColl was touched on again here, but thankfully not to the length of brutality he usually receives
   
I'd just like to restate my position on MacColl
I loved his singing _ I still do after half a century of listening to it
That has nothing to do with why I'm happy to raise his name and ideas whenever I have the opportunity - that's my personal taste - I can still get most of the albums he recorded over his long career - in the shops in newly issued anthologies or sing albums or on the Net, which say much about how he is still regarded outside the narrow, backbiting sonfines of the revival

MacColl thought folk song so important that he devoted a large part of his life trying to help and encourage other singers
The work he and The Critics Group did on the theory and practice of folk singing is totally unparalleled - the voice, singing and relaxation exercises, the evenings of analysis and suggestion on how to improve styles and understanding, the discussions on the cultural and historical importance of song..... a gold mine, recorded at length and ready to be worked.
Unfortunately, there is no home for that in a U.K. that could very much do with a firm kick up the arse of the culture and Voice of THe People is to survive for future generations to take as much pleasure from it as we did.

I once wrote a somewhat hostilely received aticle entitled "Where Have all the Folk Songs Gone" for 'The Living Tradition'
I have my answer - they got lost somewhere along the way and didn't go anywhere much
Jim Carroll


19 Dec 18 - 04:40 AM (#3967180)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Andy7

Haha, you've beaten me into submission, Jim!

I'm off out of here now, to start up a new thread entitled "What is folk music?" :-)


19 Dec 18 - 04:49 AM (#3967183)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

""What is folk music?" :-)"
Good luck with they=t one Andy ! :-)
Jim


19 Dec 18 - 04:52 AM (#3967184)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin

Purist means bore from my experience.

Sad buggers who won't go in a pub unless they serve "real" ale, waffle on about a 1954 definition of an abstract form of entertainment and reckon the only words to Sir Patrick Spence that count are the ones they first heard, normally on their mother's knee (allegedly).


Would you care to put a name and a face to such a person?

People who get off on having entirely imaginary enemies are a pain in the arse.


19 Dec 18 - 05:03 AM (#3967188)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,21st Century Primitive

A word on that there Ewan McColl, as his name has come up in this thread.

I’m not particularly interested in the ins and outs of the dog’s bollocks about the minutiae (sp?) of his life and so on, but I do know this. He was one of the best songwriters these islands have ever produced. Some of the more narrowly political songs may have dated - but that’s ok, they were capturing and responding to a moment in time - but anyone capable of creating songs like ‘The Father’s Song’, ‘The Manchester Rambler’ and ‘Dirty Old Town’ has fully earned their place in musical history.


19 Dec 18 - 05:16 AM (#3967191)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

So, I take it you will not take me up on the offer then, Jim?

Well, you can take a horse to water...

BTW - exactly how do you describe the 'scene'? I need to know if I am to confirm or deny it!


19 Dec 18 - 05:42 AM (#3967194)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Purist means bore from my experience."
Idiots who use meaningless terms as invective are idiots in my experience Jack
People who opt for hit-and-run invective rather than argument ate little more than trolls
Not a case of "real ale" - just serving ale does the trick
You are as dishonest as the most dishonest
Pity
Jim Carroll


19 Dec 18 - 05:44 AM (#3967196)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"So, I take it you will not take me up on the offer then, Jim?"
What was your offer Dave - missed it in the melee
Jim


19 Dec 18 - 05:53 AM (#3967197)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

Just up a bit, Jim.

From: Dave the Gnome - PM
Date: 18 Dec 18 - 03:00 PM


19 Dec 18 - 05:56 AM (#3967199)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin

"Purist means bore from my experience."
Idiots who use meaningless terms as invective are idiots in my experience Jack
People who opt for hit-and-run invective rather than argument ate little more than trolls
Not a case of "real ale" - just serving ale does the trick
You are as dishonest as the most dishonest


I didn't write the bit you put in quotes. And unlike you I make it VERY clear what I'm quoting (to any well-intentioned reader, that is - can't do much about bigoted liars determined to misread plainly obvious statements in the most paranoic and malicious way imaginable).

You've now done the same completely blatant sort of misinterpretation twice in 24 hours, once to Dave and now to me.


19 Dec 18 - 06:17 AM (#3967203)
Subject: RE: Do puriis both sts really exist?
From: GUEST,patriot

It was a generous offer from Dave to you Jim Carroll and your self-expressed ignorance of it is both extremely rude and an indication of how much attention you pay to the comments and opinions of other contributors.
You spend your days insulting perfectly reasonable people with perfectly reasonable and constructive views while NOT READING what they have said!


19 Dec 18 - 06:53 AM (#3967210)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"I didn't write the bit you put in quote"
My apologies - cnfused by the italics
I always try to use quotation marks - may miss them occasionally
Don't understand the rest, but I;'m sure you won't or can't clarify it
I insult nobody - I respond to what they say strongly maybe, but that' it
You have twice misrepresented what I believe - about my not believing what is happening in Glasgow and Edinburgh - I see no apology for doing so, which leads me to believe that your misinterpretation was deliberate
"I take it this is the sort of thing Jim doesn't believe exists?"

Sorry Dave
I did miss your offer
In the light of what is beig argued for here, what exactly would a visit to a couple of clubs in Yorkshire prove (as much as I am sure I would enjoy the visit, and the clubs (I love the area anyway)?
I have no doubt good, dedicated clubs still exist - I have named some myself
As with Edinburgh and Glasgow a good healthy folk scene cannot include having to nip onto a plane or train to visit such places
The scene you and others paint is not a healthy one - it appears to be dying
It can't sustain a solid base for its archives - the EFDSS one is non existent, The BL is poor and is too impoverished to expand - the best of the lot is in Scotland...
Two of us, me and Terry Yarnell have a large archive of British and Irish traditional recordings we can't find a home for in Britain so we have to look elsewhere
A healthy folk scene that can be guaranteed a future has to have a foundation based on the music - none exists
Any future has to depend on us being able to discuss our music - as Andy intimated, any attempts to discuss the definition of folk son sinks in flames before it is started - that is a sick joke
I'm sick and tired of the small mindedness, the jealousy towards dead performers, the personal nastiness (even towards terms such as purist) and the total inability to discuss this subject seriously and intelligently
The work has been long done to push the Traditional arts a stage further yet it cannot be availed of because of this hostile barrier   
Jim Carroll


19 Dec 18 - 07:05 AM (#3967216)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

No problem, Jim. We all miss things sometimes.

I hope it would prove that the 'folk scene' is as healthy and vibrant as I and a number of other people have suggested rather than the poor quality, struggling, dying animal that you seem to be suggesting.

I am willing to be proved wrong but, to date, you have not offered any evidence that the folk music world in England is in such a poor shape.

We can all find examples of good and bad but I am willing to put my money where my mouth is and say that there is far more good than bad. All the evidence on here points to that, as does my experience.


19 Dec 18 - 07:17 AM (#3967221)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

My point remains Dave a handfull of clubs does not make for a healthy scene
I've just given you my long-term view of what I believe needs to happen to keep folk song available for the future
The state of the clubs has been displayed perfectly by the suggestion that anybody expecting to here folk songs performed reasonably well at a folk song is a purist - your really can't say clearer than that
You and others have given excuses rather than reasons why the club scene has declined - we don't agree on that, but we do seem to agree that it has declined
A basis to start an intelligent and friendly argument before Jack's insulting rudeness becomes an infection
Jim


19 Dec 18 - 08:06 AM (#3967232)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

That is where we must differ, Jim. You believe it is a handful of clubs that maintain a good standard. I know it is a lot more than a handful and evidence both here and elsewhere confirms that this is true. There are numerous good folk clubs out there and that is bolstered by the number of other venues that are now showcasing exceptionally good traditional music.

There are of course clubs where the standard may not be as high as you would like but that is the nature of the beast. Not everything is everyone's cup of tea. But the vast majority of clubs and other venues are promoting music that is more than acceptable to the vast majority of folk music fans.

We have presented the evidence that the 'folk scene' is thriving. Feel free to give us your evidence that it is otherwise.

You have and are perfectly entitled to your opinion that the scene is either dead or dying, and the way it was deteriorating in the late 1970s and early 1980s is likely to have given that impression. But it has recovered and is now a force to be reckoned with once again. Your impression is wrong and my offer stands open for as long as you like. Feel free to pick any folk club within striking distance of Airedale and I will take you there as well so there is no question of me picking only clubs I know are good.


19 Dec 18 - 08:31 AM (#3967235)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

A healthy folk club scene has to feature a guarantee of hearing folk songs at clubs
That is not the case and, from what I have seen and what I havee read here, that is long gone - (even you have confirmed that with your village hall, concerts and festivals suggestion)
How can you possibly describe that as "healthy" ?

Thish forum has been bombarded by descriptions of hostility towards traditional and unaccompanied "finger-in-ear songs in the past - things have not improved in any way and arguments like his only confirm that situation
If you don't recognise there is a problem, that problem can only grow

The heartbeat of our tradition lay in the clubs - now it appears to be on a life-support system
Wahre are the albums of traditional songs now - where are the magazines we once had - where are the many thousands of clubs performing folk songs - where is the genuine and friendly interaction and discussion I and others experienced
We can't nip down to the village hall to get any of this

I am, at present, organising and annotating our collection in order to deposit it in an accessible form, to an Irish University World Music Center -
If I thought there was any point, I would happily put aside a smaller archive of recordings of singers, song texts, articles on traditional song and music, recordings of workshops and seminars, radio programmes, examples of voice and relaxation exercises.... and donate it to any club, or group of clubs to be used as an encouragement to learn and understand our folk-song traditions
Ive made similar offers in the past with no takers
Think about it
Jim


19 Dec 18 - 09:13 AM (#3967240)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

A healthy folk club scene has to feature a guarantee of hearing folk songs at clubs

At the majority of folk clubs I can guarantee that the majority of songs that you hear will meet with your approval. I have put my money where my mouth is and I am sure a number of others will do the same. You have misinterpreted what a number of people have said, including me. I will try to make my argument quite clear.

The vast majority of clubs and other venues (that showcase folk music) are promoting music that is more than acceptable to the vast majority of folk music fans.

Feel free to disagree but, as yet, you have not come up with any proof of your 'anything goes' theory.


19 Dec 18 - 09:29 AM (#3967241)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

" more than acceptable to the vast majority of folk music fans"
Very carefully worded Dave
If that is music is not folk music, it makes my point - if you can show it is, feel free
I don't believe it is, and thereby hangs the problem

For the record, apart from Jack, I have insulted nobody here unless you regard criticism your clubs as "insulting (we never used to)
I should not have responded to Jack the way I did, for which I apologise - I should have ignored him

My offer will stand until I am convinced I am wasting my time
Jim


19 Dec 18 - 09:38 AM (#3967242)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

If that is music is not folk music, it makes my point - if you can show it is, feel free
I don't believe it is, and thereby hangs the problem


Yes, I can show that it is but only by inviting you to experience it. Which I have done. Now, back at you, can you show that it isn't?

As for insulting anyone. Well, I think you made some comments that rubbed people up the wrong way and you definitely misconstrued what I said but, what the heck, water under the bridge. I pointed out where it happened. It can still be seen and people can make up their own minds. No point in flogging it to death.


19 Dec 18 - 10:40 AM (#3967246)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Yes, I can show that it is but only by inviting you to experience it."
You haven't so far Dave - you've said that it happens around you, which doesn't even touch what's happening in the rest of Britain
Terms like "purist" and "finger-in-ear" and the fact that we can't discuss the definition of folk song on this forum is a strong indicator that it ain't folk
You have not address my findings and the findings of others who said they waked away from a scene became as rare as Dodos and the standards abysmal
The decline in clubs, the arguments for not applying standards, the proliferation of crib-sheets as an indcation of people not bothering to learn words... and the many other examples appear to back up my case... the few you point to prove nothing really

"you definitely misconstrued what I said "
Not sure where - I definitely didn't misconstrue your saying that if I wished to be guaranteed to listen to folk songs I would have to go to festivals or concerts or village halls, which for me, sums up the whole problem
For me this shows clearly that the club scene is in need of repair
If I misconstrued anything else, it was accidental and I apologise
Unless you address the points I made other than "come to Yorkshire" this will continue to be a circular argument
I don't apologise for rubbing people up the wrong way and I doubt if they would apologise to me for doing likewise - at least, I hope not
Jim


19 Dec 18 - 10:55 AM (#3967249)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

you've said that it happens around you, which doesn't even touch what's happening in the rest of Britain

Between 1990 and 2010 I was in a job that took me all around the country and I was lucky enough to be able to book my own accommodation. One of the main criteria for booking a particular hotel was its proximity to a folk club and a lot of the time I was successful. I was not away every week and I did have repeat visits but I estimate that I visited folk clubs all over the country at least once a month for 20 years. That is approximately 240 visits. Many of the visits were to the same folk clubs (Bracknell, Leeds and Newcastle spring to mind as receiving multiple visits) but over the course of that 20 years I can count on one hand the number of times I was disappointed.

Terms like "purist" and "finger-in-ear"

Terms that I have never used in earnest. Take that up with someone else.

You have not address my findings and the findings of others who said they waked away from a scene became as rare as Dodos and the standards abysmal

Yes I have. See above. I fully accept that standards have slipped in some instances but can assure you that it is a rare occurrence rather than the norm. It is mentioned more because it is rare. Things going well do not make the news. Things going badly do.


19 Dec 18 - 10:59 AM (#3967251)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

I should also add that you have not named any of the plethora of 'bad' clubs so I can visit and judge for myself. I have at least given at least half a dozen examples of folk clubs where you will get exactly what you are looking for in a folk club.


19 Dec 18 - 11:38 AM (#3967253)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Terms that I have never used in earnest. Take that up with someone else."
Sorry Dave, can't do that, it's far too common (go look at the title of the thread)
You are the last person I want to fall out with

I can't argue with your own experience any more than you can argue with mine
Are you really claiming that the club scene plummeted and then revived
Are you also claiming that those of u who had enough bad experiences to wak away didn't have those experiences

I have given you what I expect from a folk club and believe no longer to be available in enough for the music to survive - I have also made a pointy about archives, access to archives, publications, albums... and all the other things that go to make a healthy scene, none of which you have responded to

I said at the beginning that all I expected from a club was a night of folk songs reasonably sung - you told me I could no longer expect that from a club and would have to go elsewhere; now you appear to be saying that I can get if anywhere in Britain
If that's not what you are saying you need to explain your "village hall" etc reference
Unless you do we have nothing more to say to each other on the subject sadly
Jim


19 Dec 18 - 01:06 PM (#3967266)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

Not sure why you brought up those terms in reference to me then, Jim, but if you were not suggesting I had used them then fairy nuff.

I'm not claiming that the club scene plummeted and then revived. That claim was the result of an investigation reported in the link I posted. Remember?

The number of clubs began to decline in the 1980s, in the face of changing musical and social trends. In London Les Cousins in Greek Street, where John Renbourn often played, and The Scots Hoose in Cambridge Circus, were both casualties. The Singers Club (George IV, Lincoln's Inn) closed its doors in 1993.

The decline began to stabilise in the mid-1990s with the resurgence of interest in folk music and there are now over 160 folk clubs in the United Kingdom, including many that can trace their origins back to the 1950s


I am not claiming that people who had bad experiences are telling lies. I have had a handful of bad experiences and said as much. It is just that they are not common. Remember the old adage? Get good service, you tell no one. Get bad service, you tell everyone.

I am not discussing any other aspect but live folk music. It is all I know about. I don't know enough about the academic research to comment.

The point you make about going elsewhere is where you misconstrued what I said. I was going to let it lie but seeing as you have brought it up, again, here is my exact phrease.

People can still go to folk clubs to hear 'folk songs reasonably well performed'. They can also go to concert halls, village halls, community centres, festivals, pubs, house parties, and any number of venues where they can hear the same.

Nowhere in there can it be interpretted that you cannot get good music at folk clubs. The exact reverse is the case. The concerts at other venue are not instead of, they are as well as.

One thing we can agree on though. There is no point in continuing down this route. It is what gets threads closed. I am trying to say that there is a lot of good in the folk scene as it stands. You are resolutely saying it is rubbish. Those two viewpoints can seemingly never be reconciled.

Maybe I am too easily pleased? At least that makes for a much more enjoyable life than looking for fault in everything. The offer of accomodation and chaufeur services still stands and I look forward to welcoming you one day and showing you the high spots of the Aire valley :-D

Cheers

Dave


19 Dec 18 - 01:14 PM (#3967269)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

...and you have still not named any of the so called bad clubs so I can see for myself :-( This responding to points is not a one way street you know!


19 Dec 18 - 02:46 PM (#3967289)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"That claim was the result of an investigation reported in the link I posted. Remember?"
The wiki ling that couldn't distinguish between Dylan, soft rock singer songwriters and the real thing, you mean
That's not a survey - it's a claim built on non-definition ignorance
"and you have still not named any of the so called bad clubs so I can see for myself :"
No I haven't nor will I - I have no intention of going to war with individual clubs
"I have had a handful of bad experiences and said as much."
I'm not basing my claims not only on the experionce of thousands of us who walked away and the arguments we have had here about "purists", "finger in ear" and your owwn statement about going to look for folk in village halls (Still not explained)
"People can still go to folk clubs to hear 'folk songs reasonably well performed'."
Didn't say they couldn't, but the ones being pointed out are in Yorkshire, Scotland and Sussex
Rudeness and abuse gets threads closed - I have indulged in neither - tell those who have

I have responded to every point made - the only club I mentioned as bad (and the only one I intend to) is the mess that calls itself a folk club in THE HEADQUARTERS OF THE ENGLISH FOLK DANCE AND SONG SOCIETY
If they can't get it right - who can ?
The don't even have a shop - now that's a sign that things aren't well, if anything is
Jim


19 Dec 18 - 02:56 PM (#3967292)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,kenny

Do you really expect anyone to name "bad clubs", Dave ? Really ?
I would expect that you and Jim are both right, there are clubs with a consistently high standard of performance, and the opposite. It's largely a question of how many there are of the former compared to the latter, and that figure will undoubtedly vary from person to person. It would also depend on the standard of performance a person is satisfied with.
We're over 700 posts here now, and seem to have drifted from the original question. I think I'll stop now, better things to do. There's a really good set-dance, recorded by Angelina Carberry and Dan Brouder I must learn. Enjoy your music.


19 Dec 18 - 03:48 PM (#3967300)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

Jim. your owwn statement about going to look for folk in village halls (Still not explained)

It was explained in my previous post. In case you missed it, again, here it is.

"People can still go to folk clubs to hear 'folk songs reasonably well performed'. They can also go to concert halls, village halls, community centres, festivals, pubs, house parties, and any number of venues where they can hear the same.

Nowhere in there can it be interpreted that you cannot get good music at folk clubs. The exact reverse is the case. The concerts at other venue are not instead of, they are as well as. "

I don't know how I can make it any plainer.

Kenny. You are right of course. There is good and bad in everything. I accept that there is some bad but do not think there is a lot. I think Jim has to accept that there is some good but thinks there is not a lot of that. To put this in perspective we have had umpteen accounts of good folk clubs with plenty of evidence to back that up. We have had very few people saying things are bad and there has been no evidence to back that up at all. What are we to believe? The many who say things are fine, backed up by the media and hard evidence? Or those who say things are shite but will not back up that statement with any facts whatsoever?

I know where my vote goes!


19 Dec 18 - 05:18 PM (#3967317)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

'It can't sustain a solid base for its archives - the EFDSS one is non existent,' JC.

Really? You mean you've never looked at VWML online? I don't believe you!

Apology, please!


19 Dec 18 - 06:32 PM (#3967333)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Shaw

Blimey, reading this thread I'm glad I'm just a harmonica player. Wanna hear a nice set of polkas?


19 Dec 18 - 06:58 PM (#3967338)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

AS WELL AS......AS WELL AS.....AS WELL AS......AS WELL AS......AS WELL AS............


19 Dec 18 - 06:59 PM (#3967339)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

In case you missed it...AS WELL AS!


19 Dec 18 - 07:10 PM (#3967342)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

I purify, therefore I am.

There you are, a little Cartesian logic sorts us all out.


20 Dec 18 - 02:53 AM (#3967381)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Really? You mean you've never looked at VWML online? I don't believe you!"
I am well aware that at long last (how long has it been going?) EFDSS have made accessible its holdings
I am referring to the club evenings we attended thare
No apology forthcoming

""People can still go to folk clubs to hear 'folk songs reasonably well performed'. "
And \I respnded and have done over and over again
Tare are not enough of them to make a future for folk song viable and there never will be while people consider that to take folk song seriously is "purist" and believe serious argument to be insulting
The development of both of these tendencies can be traced on this forum through terms like finger-in-ear and the particularly deplorable "folk fascist"

It all boild down to what you consider is a "folk club" and "a good folk club"
For me a folk club is a place where you are guaranteed to hear folk songs, a good one is where you can hear folk songs performed well enough to be enjoyed without worrying that the singer is in tune or has remembered the words or is involved in what hie or she is singing
I stopped when all this ceased to be the case and what has gone on here has convinced me that little has changed.

I don't want to have to send scouts ahead to find if a folk club does folk songs, but that's the case now and has been for a long time
People on this forum in the past have argued here for poor standards, suggesting that to demand work and a degree of understanding and dedication is "elitist"
We've had threads arguing for the use of crib-sheets and mobile phones, saying that to oppose them is to put of people is to exclude people - which, in my opinion, patronised the singer and insults the audience
The 'anything goes" approach is highly supported, which assumes that anybody who wanted to listen to 'Lord Gregory' is going to be happy to sit through to 'Livin' Doll' or the 'Birdie Song'   
On this latter, some time ago I was taken to a convert of folk songs in Scotland by a friend -n the whole a highly enjoyable night until the star singer, whose singing I have always admired decided to finish the evening with two Cliff Richard songs
I can never remember feeling so let down - while I remember clearly what she finished the evening on, I cannot for the life of me remember what else was sung that night.

Despite the latest desk-jockey revisionism, our folk songs are unique - they stand apart form all other song forms as artistic creations and pieces of our social history and, because they do, they are as important as Shakespeare or Dickens or Haydn or Bechet... and that's what makes them both important and highly enjoyable if you take the time and trouble to listen
If people haven't the time or inclination to thumb through the bools and manuscripts clearly labeled "folk" or "traditional", they can recognise the uniqueness of folk song by comparing it to other forms
None of this is a criticism of the other forms - I happen to like song of them myself.
If I choose to go out to hear any form of music - folk, jazz, blues, opera, swing.... I expect to be given what I am told I am going to get         
My own interests developed among people who fervently believed that folk forms could be used to create a new repertoire - that is still my position, but I respect those who want to listen to those who just choose to listen to folk songs on a night out and would be happy to join them occasionally - that may be 'purist' to some, but it's certainly not "boring", as has been suggested.   

For me, and apparently for many others, the club scene plummeted when clubs removed the right of people to choose what they want ed to listen to and decided that standards of performance weren't necessary.
As a singer, I began to feel self-conscious that many of my songs didn't fit into evenings were I was able to sing - the number of venues where this wasn't the case got less and less so I and many like me stopped going
Nothing I have seen here has persuaded me that that has improved in any way, or not enough to make a difference

Finished here, I think - I have a load of work on folk song to get through while my memory and hearing holds out - I think I have got all I'm going to get

Once again I find it very telling that nobody has shown the slightest interest in acquiring our recordings
Jim


20 Dec 18 - 03:39 AM (#3967385)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

I'm afraid there has been a blurring of the parameters of art.

A lot of it has to do us becoming part of an international community. There are universities in some countries where Agatha Christie is considered a cultural heavyweight like Dickens. Its been coming on for fifty or sixty years. Byron, for example, whom we regard in our more generous moments as a second echelon romantic poet, in France - he is rated far above the rest of the boys in the band - Shelley, Wordsworth, Coleridge.

We've got used to the idea.

If John Williams, after a lifetime of selfless dedication, can not just countenance , but welcome the democratisarion of guitar playing. It tells us something about the nature of the world we live in.

We don't appear to be folksingers. But we are. In three hundred years our communities will doubtless look as fucked up and brainless as when we watch The Tudors. We may not bang on goatskins and record our stories in thirty verse ballads - but we are of our time. Why wouldn't we use ipads for our folk music. Ipads are more integral to our communities than bloody goats.


20 Dec 18 - 03:49 AM (#3967387)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

I remember clearly what she finished the evening on, I cannot for the life of me remember what else was sung that night.

Thanks for confirming my point, Jim. People talk about and remember the bad while keeping quiet and forgetting about the good. The last 2 songs out of, what, 30? soured your evening. It is a shame it happened to you but think about it. 2 songs out of 30 is less than 7%. So 93% of the songs could well have been what you expected. I call 93% a great majority. I can go to a concert or buy an album of someone I really like and there will be some songs I am not keen on. Maybe I am just lucky in being a glass half full instead of a glass half empty person.I

I do sympathise with your view, honestly, and it is a shame that you feel let down. But if over 90% of songs sung are good, I see that as a win!


20 Dec 18 - 04:09 AM (#3967390)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"People talk about and remember the bad while keeping quiet and forgetting about the good"
Not sure what you are saying Dave - I'm certainly not disagreeing, uniess you are suggesting that I'm only imagining the situation because I only remember the bad ones - that would be very patronising of you
How does it prove that All's well ?
I'm talking about 1 concert here which I know I enjoyed
That is not my experience with the clubs, especially as I have trawled the web to see whats on offer - a handful of passable to reasonable the rest, well....
Clubs I have vited with young ladies doing "Dylan reprises" in breathy voices, introspective singer songwriters serenading their guitars... very little else
"But if over 90% of songs sung are good, I see that as a win!
ON ONE ****** EVENING - sort of like having to fly to Yorkshire for a good night
I am appalled this turned into a "win-lose" thing" - you really do disappoint me
I'm off while we're still friends
Jim


20 Dec 18 - 04:26 AM (#3967392)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

The discussion is not a win/lose thing, Jim. Once again you are misrepresenting what was said. I consider it a win for me, ie a good result, if I go to a show or club and enjoy over 90% the songs.

What we are discussing here is the number of clubs that are putting on folk music as opposed to non folk. I think that at over 90% of clubs in the UK you have a better than 90% chance of hearing a lot of good quality folk music. You believe it to be considerably less. We will never agree on the proportion but we can agree that there is good and bad everywhere. Let's leave it at that.


20 Dec 18 - 04:39 AM (#3967395)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"I see that as a win!"
J


20 Dec 18 - 04:48 AM (#3967397)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

Yes, Jim. Once again, I consider it a win for me, ie a good result, if I go to a show or club and enjoy over 90% the songs. Nothing whatsoever to do with winning any sort of fight.


20 Dec 18 - 04:50 AM (#3967398)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

If you feel a great passion to communicate your love of this kind of folk music, and i think you do.

Why not start a website explaining what it means to you. That's the beauty of the internet. You don't need some git deciding whether you can publish, or not.

Its not all sweetness and light. i worked for ages on a website on my oevre of song writing and the life that had produced it. A chance remark from some big mouthed cunt on Mudcat led to me discontinuing it.

And the providers are not really on your side - its a labour of love. But some people will click on a link - even if they won'tplay a cd nowadays.


20 Dec 18 - 08:24 AM (#3967426)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Just been searching the 'Full English' EFDSS site, all I could find was the Youth Choir, Mike Norris playing a jolly tune and a number of dire snigger snogwriters
Library still looks as crammed as it was, so I can assume they are still turning down collections
I may not have got the hang of the site, but really !!
Jim Carroll


20 Dec 18 - 09:01 AM (#3967435)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Vic Smith

From https://www.efdss.org/efdss-the-full-english


The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) and its partners present the world’s largest online collection of English folk manuscripts.

Freely explore 80,000 pages of traditional songs, dances, tunes and customs from the golden age of folk music collecting, within the manuscripts of nineteen of England’s most important late Victorian and Edwardian folk collectors, including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Percy Grainger, Lucy Broadwood and Cecil Sharp.

The Full English digital archive delivers the true ‘voice of the people’ through a variety of material ranging from full songs to fragments of melodies, invaluable for researchers, performers, composers and many more. It is rich in social, family and local history, and provides a snapshot of England’s cultural heritage through voices rarely published and heard before.

The Full English Extra will see the collections of Mary Neal, suffragette, radical arts practitioner and founder of the Esperance Girls Club, and folk dance educator Daisy Caroline Daking added to the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library online archive, alongside its collection of 19th century broadside ballads and songsters.

EFDSS will work with three national museums – the Museum of English Rural Life at the University of Reading, the National Coal Mining Museum for England near Wakefield in Yorkshire and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London – combining folk arts and museum education to provide powerful new learning experiences for schools.


Improving access to The Full English digital archive

The first part of The Full English project was to make these images available, in a format that is searchable. However, as the information on these images can very hard to decipher, particularly if you are not a music reader, the second part is to improve access by providing transcriptions of texts and musical notation, as well as midi files so the tunes can be heard. The VWML would like to thank our volunteers, The Village Music Project, and Folkopedia, for supplying transcriptions.

Full English has a very user friendly 'search' facility which will give positive finds to virtually every major name in English traditional dance and song. It continues to expand at an impressive rate and has an increasing number of volunteer transcribers working on a wide range of song and dance manuscripts.
It is freely available to everyone.


20 Dec 18 - 09:13 AM (#3967440)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Manuscripts are for the already committed Vic - hardly what is needed in the present circumstances
I know from long experience that the VWML has a small but good sound collection and is in a position to expand that considerably with a little interest and effort
THe pathetic offerings are a waste of space and, as far as the songwriters - a damaging one
That is not what English folk song is about (I hope)
Jim Carroll


20 Dec 18 - 10:28 AM (#3967460)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Vic Smith

Manuscripts are for the already committed Vic
Surely this is an opinion rather than a factual statement? I would reckon that manuscripts and sound recordings each have their own validity according to the nature of the enquiry.
Just been searching the 'Full English' EFDSS site, all I could find was the Youth Choir, Mike Norris playing a jolly tune....
Would it be possible to give the 'Full English' reference number to these two categories as I cannot find them by completing a 'Full English' search.
and a number of dire snigger snogwriters
It would appear that 'Full English' considers song-makers as part of its ambit. For example, if you were to try to search for a snigger called Ewam MacColl, you would find there are 101 references to him as an important author and collector..... and as a snogwriter.


20 Dec 18 - 11:23 AM (#3967483)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jack Campin

It's one of those sites where your only real way in is via a search box - no thesaurus structure you can browse.

I tried as a test to see if they had any media recording bhangra. The search got me to a report of a schools project in Croydon that EFDSS took part in, but there are no sound files or videos of the material they mention. I then tried to find what they had of Mary Neal (there must be film, surely?) but got a stack of library records with no content accessible outside the C#H building. Tobar an Dualchais does a lot better.


20 Dec 18 - 11:35 AM (#3967487)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Surely this is an opinion rather than a factual statement? "
Based on the present state of things, it seems common sense to me

"It would appear that 'Full English' considers song-makers as part of its ambit."
Couldn't argue with that if what they chose to represent folk music in any way resembled it
Ewan chose to create using traditional forms - he wasn't a singer-songwriter (in the way that term is now used) - he was a singer of traditional songs who used the songs he sand to crate new ones
I can in no way see how the EFDSS choice comes anywhere near that with the breathy 'little girl' voices and pseudo Mid-Atlantic accents that have taken over many of our folk clubs
Whether you like them or not (immaterial) they no way meet what EFDSS should be about
I know The Library has a reasonable collection of source singers and could lay their hands on may more with very little effort
Malcolm and I worked our way through The Hamer Collection to produce a Library cassette (now unavailable) and only had room for a few of them
As far as song-making is concerned, if they can't gain permission to use some of the good songmakers creating in traditional styles, they may as well leap onto their camels and ride off into the desert
Peggy had no problems at all when she produced her 20 volumes of New City Songster
Jim Carroll


20 Dec 18 - 12:15 PM (#3967495)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Vic Smith

Tobar an Dualchais does a lot better.
You are not comparing like with like, Jack. Tobar an Dualchais is an incomparable site for sound recordings Full English concerns itself with manuscript sources - field notebooks, diaries, photographs etc.
Neither has completed anything more than a small percentage of the task that they have set themselves. The London database is only few years old, the Edinburgh one is a much older and the material has been accumulating ever since the School of Scottish Studies was founded in the 1940s. An answer to my recent enquiry about the Goldstein/Cameron & Jane Turriff recordings told me that the SoSS have copies of Kenny Goldstein tapes which are not yet available on TaD and they are not likely to be. The originals are lodged with the University of Mississippi and are actually on-line, but only accessible to those who have the pass and that seems to be restricted to members of U of M Staff! I recently contacted U of M asking for permission to listen to the Turriff tapes to compare with recordings I made of them myself of them in 1971 and was given permission to listen to them only! They are just lovely - but where as Edinburgh would give free permission to listen to these but Mississippi - citing ownership and copyright issue would not - so you can see the dilemma.
Another difference is funding, As an academic institution SoSS can maintain their tapes and recordings even though cuts have meant that the digitisation and transcriptions are now progressing much more slowly. The EFDSS finds planning much more difficult because although UK government and Lottery funding did make 2 or 3 quite generous fundings, the annual funding application makes things like employing staff a much more hazardous thing. Progress with 'Full English' therefore is much less predictable. This makes their claim which I quotes above that 'Full English' is "the world’s largest online collection of English folk manuscripts." all the more admirable.
Tobar an Dualchais includes a small number of recordings by Peter Cook and by Ailie Munro of my singing.... just saying!


20 Dec 18 - 12:32 PM (#3967497)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

For those wishing to access recordings of source singers there are already numerous excellent recordings out there produced by many commercial companies such as Topic (Voice of the People for example) Fellside, Veteran, Musical traditions. To then place these on the internet for free would put these excellent companies out of business. Is that what you want? There are also freely available many recordings of traditional singers freely available on the BL Sound Archive website.


I'm not too keen myself but is putting on a Mid-Atlantic accent any different to a Salford lad putting on a Scottish accent?


20 Dec 18 - 12:35 PM (#3967500)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jeri

On one hand, there are people who want to rule the world and define what "folk music" is for everyone.
On the other hand, you have people who want to rule the world by letting those other guys set the agenda.
So what drives them are the folks attempting to rule the world.
Then there's that third parasitic twin's hand, where all threads default to McColl.
I don't know where the other hand is.

Why on earth does what other people think drive your happy car?
Do whatever the fuck you want to do. Enjoy whatever the fuck you enjoy. When you start bending yourself into forms that will please other people, you're not really worth anyone's attention.

Have fun!


And I know full well that the actual "fun" people are having around here is fighting with a usual set of opponents about subjects that will never be resolved. Because people gotta sound their barbaric "YAWP", and it doesn't count unless there's an audience.
Hello, internet. The purpose of the fight is to fight.


20 Dec 18 - 12:50 PM (#3967503)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Vic Smith

I can in no way see how the EFDSS choice comes anywhere near that with the breathy 'little girl' voices and pseudo Mid-Atlantic accents that have taken over many of our folk clubs.
I am not sure what the EFDSS can do about the way songs are sung in folk clubs not that I do not hear much in the way of "breathy 'little girl' voices and pseudo Mid-Atlantic accents" on my frequent visits to them.

Whether you like them or not (immaterial) they no way meet what EFDSS should be about.
As a fully paid up long-term member of EFDSS, I vote in their committee elections to chose those who I think are likely to further the health of traditional song, music and dance in England. On a number of occasions when I have disagreed with EFDSS policies, I have written to the EFDSS to complain. I have always had replies, normally from the CEO to address the issues. I am not sure that this has made any major changes but I am registering my views which is all an individual member can do. I take it that the person who is so unhappy with EFDSS is a member and is trying to effect change from the inside. I am not sure that complaints on Mudcat will reach the ears of EFDSS council members who are the ones who formulate the policies.


20 Dec 18 - 01:07 PM (#3967506)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

I was a member of EFDSS from c65 to 70 and then dropped out as did many others as it had become a largely London-based dance club. Then in the late 70s along came a whole movement largely from the folk scene to make EFDSS more representative of song and music and the nation as a whole. I rejoined. I now am firm friends with the main backroom personnel at EFDSS who work extremely hard for no monetary gain, people like David Atkinson, Steve Roud, Laura Smyth, Bob Askew, Derek Schofield, Martina and Shan Graebe and lots of people from the folk scene, some on here, who regularly work with EFDSS on projects.
Whilst everyone is entitled to an opinion I personally wouldn't put much store in the opinion of someone who rarely goes there and can't even be bothered to check out the marvellous work being done online.

And quite frankly if someone is singing folksongs and attracting audiences I don't give a chuff how they are singing them. I can pick and choose the ones I like and ignore those I don't as everyone can.


20 Dec 18 - 01:15 PM (#3967508)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

And the handy thing about folk clubs, Steve, is that they are often in a pub. Once you get to know who you like and who you don't, you can time your bar visits to perfection :-)


20 Dec 18 - 01:17 PM (#3967509)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

BTW regarding female singers, the breathies are very much in a minority. There really are many excellent young female singers out there, Eliza Carthy, Bryony Griffiths, Alice Jones, Laura Smyth, and lots of unsung local ones in my own immediate area of Yorkshire.


20 Dec 18 - 01:21 PM (#3967510)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Spent years working for EFDSS, salvaging vinyl BBC recordings from total be putting them onto tape, haping editing rapes which have now been deleted from the catalogue, helping to get The Carpenter Collection into The house.... and numerous other things

Personally, I wouldn't put much credence on somebody irresponsible end unaware enough to think the stuff occupying space on the EFDSS website has anything to do with folksong
No wonder the scene is in such a mess
We're not talking about picking or rejecting what we like or don't like - were's talking about the stuff THE ENGLISH FOLK DANCE AND SONG SOCIETY IS PEDDLING AS FOLK SONG   
For a time I thought you were disagreeing with what I said about the scene, but you're doing a superb job of proving my point - an early Christmas Present, perhaps?
Jim Carroll


20 Dec 18 - 01:22 PM (#3967511)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"BTW regarding female singers, the breathies are very much in a minority."
BTW - I was refering to EFDSS's top ten for Christmas
Jim Carroll


20 Dec 18 - 01:29 PM (#3967512)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

EFDSS's top ten for Christmas


20 Dec 18 - 01:30 PM (#3967513)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave the Gnome

Try again

EFDSS's top ten for Christmas? I'm intrigued! How do I find out what they are?


20 Dec 18 - 01:32 PM (#3967515)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: RTim

Jim Carroll - you really are an Unpleasant man......Despite all the good work you have done in the past - your present persona is not for me.

I know I will be called names for this post - everyone who argues against you gets called names...but really Jim - let other people have opinions!!

Tim Radford


20 Dec 18 - 01:48 PM (#3967522)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Jim Carroll - you really are an Unpleasant man."
No I am not Tim - I have insulted no-one here other than the could of people who have insulted me - please go and check
It's not a mater of having opinions, it's what we expect from those who hold responsible positions in preserving the music some of us have worked hard and long to preserve and make available
People are entitled to like what they like (we all do that)
They are not entitled to pass something of as what it is most certainly not - or maybe you are one of those who think it is?
I have done my best to be polite here - happy to apologise for when I have not been
Jim


20 Dec 18 - 02:13 PM (#3967525)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>it's what we expect from those who hold responsible positions in preserving the music some of us have worked hard and long to preserve and make available<<<
Are you talking about performers or those preserving recordings and manuscripts? Somewhat confusing. If you are talking about preserving, all of the institutions aforementioned are doing a marvellous job and need all the encouragement we can give. Just because they declined to take on your collection that doesn't mean they are not doing a good job.

>>>>They are not entitled to pass something of as what it is most certainly not<<<< In many cases this is a matter of opinion. For instance are Gezz Lowe's, Brian Peters', Graham Miles, Vin Garbutt et al, songs any different in form or quality from Ewan's? OPINION.


20 Dec 18 - 02:30 PM (#3967530)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Are you talking about performers or those preserving recordings and manuscripts?"
EFDSS of course - Performers do what they do and that's the way is should be
Iv'e already said how I heel about giving teh manuscripts priority

"Gezz Lowe's, Brian Peters', Graham Miles, Vin Garbutt et al, songs any different in form or quality from Ewan's?"
Quality is a matter of opinion; the form is so different
I've also given my view on the necessity of making songs - but those you mentioned are nt those chosen to put on their site
I wouldn't give any of them - Ewan's included, priority if it was a case of space
A very fine former editor is also one of Britain;s leading collectors - how about putting some of his stuff up to show people what folk song is
Jim Carroll


20 Dec 18 - 02:37 PM (#3967532)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

>>>>former editor<<<<
You need to be more explicit, Jim. There are many fine collectors with connections to EFDSS. Editor of what, the Journal, the magazine, the website, books of songs?


20 Dec 18 - 02:44 PM (#3967535)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Vic Smith

"Do purists really exist?" Potentially, this could have been useful and interesting topic but once again a promising thread has been hi-jacked and repetitive combativeness has prevailed.


20 Dec 18 - 02:50 PM (#3967538)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

OP
'OK, there's the odd Luddite (they exist in all walks of life, not just music), but isn't "purist" the wrong term?'

Neanderthal? (I was once a Neanderthal myself in the 60s before I evolved.)


20 Dec 18 - 03:08 PM (#3967540)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

THen why didn't you participate Vic and why didn't others ?
He also serves who only stands and waits, eh ?
I find the accusation of hi-jacking highly insulting and a bit rich from someone who spends a deal of time complaining about insulting
I have neither insulted people here, nor have I or anybody "hijacked " this thread though I doubt if you will retract that accusation

"You need to be more explicit, Jim. "
I'm referring to Mike Yates
Other friends of EFDSS have equally important collections - Roy Palmer and Bob Thomson spring to mind

When we ran Singers Workshop and realised the need for an archive, I wrote a dozen appeals for material - in next to no time parcels ro tapes arrived from these people and others, Bob and Jacqueline Patten gave us almost their entire collection
From Ireland we got lumps of Hugh Shields' and Tom Munnely's collection and one old musician gave us around 60 tapes of songs and music he had made around the time the tape recorder first came available
Macoll and Seeger let me loose i their home for weeks and set up two tape recorders so we could cope what he had
I stayed with Charlie Parker a couple of times and he gave us loads of his work, including the actuality for the radio Ballads

All this stuff has always been available for the asking - if only there had been the will and initiative to gather it
Jim Carroll


20 Dec 18 - 03:22 PM (#3967544)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

I don't feel I've have been combative. Maybe I have, but not intentionally so.

I think things change. The big change for me has been the availability of cheap instrumens. When I was a kid, a months wages wouldn't have paid for a decent playable guitar. Now you can get a decent playable guitar for twenty quid on gumtree.

Plus there are cheaper banjos, penny whistles, mouth organs, bodhrans and fiddles.

Also there is more tuition around. The Seegers, Josh White looked like magicians. Their techniques and abilities seemed other worldly.

And I suppose that accounts for some of the differences. We are not perhaps in as much reverence as we should be for the visionary pioneers of the folk music revival. Their beautiful instruments and abikities are more familiar to us.

I wouldn't like anyone to think I was not respectful of another person's efforts to pass on something good to the world.


20 Dec 18 - 03:24 PM (#3967545)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

But you have gathered it, Jim, and some of us at least are extremely grateful. I have just been looking at the Roud Index on the VWML website looking for versions of a rare song and 2 of the 5 known versions come from your recordings which I will be referencing clearly and thankfully in our next book of songs.

Okay, let's make a start here and now. Here's my invitation as you won't take up Dave's. As a start, a brief itemisation/list of what you have that is not already available online, that is in any way related to folk music, MacColl, Palmer, Thompson, Shields, Munnely, your own, perhaps including a list of names who you have recorded and any material that is not commercially available or online. (Posted here if you like)

As an interested individual I can't promise anything but to make noises in the right places. In return can I please ask that you stop slagging off current research and the British folk scene. It serves no purpose at all. I'm not suggesting here we should stop debating issues, but to do it without flinging insults, and here I acknowledge I've flung as much mud as you have, which I regret.


20 Dec 18 - 03:46 PM (#3967547)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

Regarding other collections and placing them somewhere like Cecil Sharp House: Space is at a premium and taking on a collection involves all sorts of issues that need money and manpower to restore, catalogue, place online, then there are ownership/copyright issues. I know they have recently taken in at least 4 major collections which need processing and all of this takes a long time. Much of Mike's material is commercially available as is that of others like yourselves.

Here is an example of what happens when a major collector dies. During their lifetimes they make offers to various institutions, local universities etc. which for various reasons turn them down. Eventually one of these universities takes the recordings, but doesn't have the wherewithal to place them online. However, there are all sorts of other folklore artefacts, photos, diaries, book collection, and even where the heir has the generosity to invite other collectors to come in and take material some of the books at least end up being auctioned and dispersed. That's not the end of the world as only a few are rare books. Someone with very limited space and resources comes along (me) and says I'll take this and I'll take that, but what happens to it when I pop my clogs. I'm just grateful that my own recordings were taken on by the BL and my local archives have gone into the local history centre. My broadside copies are probably second to none in the country and I'm hoping EFDSS will take these when I'm ready to hang up my pen.


21 Dec 18 - 03:32 AM (#3967622)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Observer

Wonderful what sometimes comes up in threads, my unexpected Christmas bonus this year has got to be my introduction to the group "Yorkshire Garland" - thank you Steve Gardham, and compliments of the season to all.


21 Dec 18 - 04:31 AM (#3967628)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Steve
Having more or less despaired of finding a home in the UK for our considerable library of books, recordings, albums, magazines, et al, we have bequeathed it to Limerick University World Music Centre where it has been greeted with warmth and gratitude and will remain as a separate library (the suggestion was under our name - hopefully not)
Our recordings are all digitised and listed - some are transcribed and others need annotation
I am in the process of sorting the large and somewhat ungainly Singers Workshop section into usable groups (I'm working on the BBC collection now)
There are around 200 radio programmes and as many lectures we and others have recorded down the years
Most of the MacColl/Critics Group meetings, seminars, interviews and documentation are gathered together to be sorted and properly indexed
This is for Limerick but I have arranged to pass on a large amout to Joe Offor, to be used as he sees fit
I was hoping this would be taken up by a responsible traditionally based club, but, following arguments like these, I'm not so sure now
Most of our commercial albums are digitised with notes for our own personal use

Some of this is already distributed here - , The Irish Traditional Music Archive has a copy of most, as has The Irish Folklore Department and Na Píobrí Uilleann and, whenever somebody has asked for material, they have been given whatever they can use.... hardly anything in the U.K., despite efforts
Some of what we have we have to think about as, though we have been given it freely we're not sure we should have it - we discuss this with everyone who wants it.

Thirty odd years ago we gave what we had then of our own recordings to the then British Institute of Recorded Sound, which later became The National Sound Archive and is now housed in The British Library
The deposit of the collection helped shift BIRS's attention from international musicology to expanding it to taking in British material
Ironically, the drive to expand their interests has meant that our and I think, other early collections have lain in a cupboard somewhere in The British Library and have never seen the light of day (I can't imagine that Walter, Mikeen, Mary Delaney, Tom Lenihan, et al are afraid of the dark, but it seems an awful shame !!)   

The collection we have helped put together represents not only a large slice of the recorded British Tradition but also The Rise and near Fall of the Folk Revival in Britain
Our efforts to find it a home have made me somewhat dubious of the future of folk song (in England at least - Scotland seems to have a far greater pride in its oral traditions)
As things stand with the EFDSS at present, I wouldn't dream of offering it to them, even if they wanted it
Good luck with your Broadsides - they have been turning down offers of such collections at least since Leslie Shepherd's collection was refused - they apparently haven't enough cupboards to lock them away in !

Personally, I believe the future of folk song in Britain to lie in the possibility of devotees of traditional music, song and arts getting together and forming some sort of Federation to draw back the many no longer involved because of the way things have gone, and to draw in desperately needed young people
Ireland has had tremendous succes in this and it has turned the fortunes of a once-declining music completely around
The internet makes that a possibility, but the will needs to be there - on of the reasons I involve myself in these often extremely depressing arguments

You say our collection has a couple of rare songs - actually it contains quite a few, including totally unique ones.
Ireland has proved itself a strong song-making country which made songs whenever the inspiration arose - most were never published but some survived in either the local oral traditions, in the memories of old singers or in family notebooks - may hundreds of them - we got several, others got more throughout the country
I'm working on the Child Ballads turned up in Ireland now and am constantly staggered at what made it here

As for ending these arguments - forget it
I believe that something is radically wrong with the traditional music scene in Britain and brushing it under the carpet isn't going to help
You know my feelings on the Revisionism that is taking place in folk song research which, I believe, is ripping the heart out of our understanding of our traditional Heritage
Instead of flying off in new tangents, we need to take stock of what we think we know and what those who were in a far better situation to judge, thought they knew, and not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

I have fond memories of great educational and inspiring gatherings conferences in Sheffield, Leeds, Salford, Aberdeen, Leominster..... perhaps it's time for another
I doubt if EFDSS has either the interest or the reputation to take some sort of lead and I now have strong doubts about The Traditional Song Forum -
It's a bit unfair to land the responsibility on groups like The Glasgow Ballad people who, I believe are doing an excellent job already, but I certainly think their work need to be more widely appreciated.
I just don't know if there is the interest anymore, which is why I'm more than prepared to continue making myself a pain in the arse
Jim


21 Dec 18 - 06:21 AM (#3967649)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST

Don't see why you need to be your self-confessed 'pain in the arse' Jim. You have strong views about the music, and although I have never drawn on your archive & nor do I intend to, but I'm sure that all contributors here are grateful for its existence. I'm sure they'd also be grateful if you could try absorb what is said before replying?

Other archives are available, and I feature myself on some of them- why do I think of the Marx brothers here? I've had great times in folk clubs, festivals over the past 50 years, although the enjoyment is now wearing thin, it's been a valuable movement, but the wealth of recorded stuff is now huge, it's still down to personal taste.

I've run singarounds which have been cursed with 'dreich' traditional songs which please no one and a surfeit of these led on one occasion to its demise- a decision of a pub landlord. The value of traditional material is not in question here, but it's a matter of taste and sensitivity to context!


I remember the phrase 'pandering to your audience' being used by folkies but what does it mean? I arranged a nationally known UK singer of much experience to do a spot on a vilaage GAA concert in Ireland last year- she sang a 14 verse Scottish ballad which was totally irrelevant & almost killed the whole night.

It would be ridiculous to produce such stuff to a group of non-folkies anywhere, context is everything- you have to trust peoples' judgment in the 'folk' club context- they'll get it wrong sometimes (I certainly have) but this is not a crusade!

I don't like the 'Wild Rover' much but if asked, I would sing it, because after that, the 'folk' (and that's what they are !!!!) will be much more willing to accept what you give them. I have NO hesitation about singing 50s pop songs in the right context- it's often the right thing to do (yes that's occasionally a folk club,) but then I'm not a purist, am sure you'll agree about that?


21 Dec 18 - 06:22 AM (#3967650)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge

sorry that was me


21 Dec 18 - 07:01 AM (#3967660)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

I do take in what's said Jim and I try to respond thoughtfully
Cant' think for the life of me why a Scottish ballad should be any mor irrelevant than a long rejected Victorian tear-jerker, or a 1920s sentmental song, or a faded 50s number... or many of the songs I'v heard sung at folk clubs
But there again, I've know Shakespeare plays to be described as "irrelevant" as well
What happened to 'every one to their own taste' I wonder ?
Jim Carroll


21 Dec 18 - 09:21 AM (#3967681)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Incidentally Jim
"I don't like the 'Wild Rover'"
I wonder if you've heard Pat Usher's (Mary Anne Carolan's Brother) version ?
Breathtakingly beautiful and far superior to the hackneyed 'sung to death' one that's bean beaten into the ground by the folkies
Amazing what you find if you turn over a few stones (which you won't do if you insist on refusing to avail yourself of collections you haven't heard)
Our own Brian Peters wrote an excellent article on this much maligned and abused song
The dogmatism that has bedeviled such research has done much to reduce the importance of our clubs as the carriers of The People's culture they could be - if only... !
Jim


21 Dec 18 - 09:58 AM (#3967695)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin

I don't think anybody's been dogmatic about research like Brian's. If you have something to say and take the trouble to back it up, you're kicking at an open door.


21 Dec 18 - 10:04 AM (#3967696)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"you're kicking at an open door."
Not with some people it appears
I only mentioned Brian's article as a recommendation - my reference to dogmatism referred to the attitude of using archives
Jim


21 Dec 18 - 10:26 AM (#3967700)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin

So, who are the dogmatists you're referring to and what have they done?

Names and specific actions, please.


21 Dec 18 - 11:27 AM (#3967709)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Sorry Jack, if you can't work out that people involved in traditional music and song declare they haven't and don't intend to make the use of an archive of Traditional songs and music doesn't add up to dogmatism, I really can't help you
I was going to leave it there so please don't labour it
Jim Carroll


21 Dec 18 - 11:50 AM (#3967713)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin

You meant your stuff, not the EFDSS?

Is it actually usable? e.g. if Brian Peters had asked for all versions you had of The Wild Rover in any format, could you have provided them?


21 Dec 18 - 12:00 PM (#3967717)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Yes - our archive
I sent Brian the above mentioned version of Wild Rover for his article - he included it - anybody is welcome to it should they want it
Other than that, we only have the standard versions recorded by the BEEB
Jim


21 Dec 18 - 12:53 PM (#3967729)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Sorry Jack - didn't fully reply fully
Only our Clare recordings are on line - Google Carroll Mackenzie collection at Clare County Library
Most of the rest is listed and anybody interested will be sent an index on request
If there is enough interest, I may ask Joe offer to keep a copper (if he's willing and able) for full time use
Anybody wishing to get recordings will be put on my PCloud list
Jim


21 Dec 18 - 01:51 PM (#3967742)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

Oh, well, we offered.....Have a good Christmas, all.


21 Dec 18 - 01:56 PM (#3967745)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

Jim, as you can appreciate there is already an enormous wealth of all sorts of material online, and for one reason or another yesterday was the first time I had a look at your Clare Co. Library material. Many thanks for this resource which is very helpful and some great material, even the parlour songs and Music hall songs amongst the ballads.

If you ever want a heads up on who wrote some of them and when, to complete the info, just let me know.

Have a good Christmas
All the best
Steve


21 Dec 18 - 02:52 PM (#3967752)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Oh, well, we offered.."
So did I
All the best to you too
There aren't too many Music Hall songs on the site, I can't recall many parlour songs either
As with the Traveller's Country and Western, they decided they weren't the really old songs and refused to sing them
They had less problems distinguishing fish from fown that the revival do apparently
Jim


21 Dec 18 - 06:46 PM (#3967764)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Steve Gardham

Here's an interesting irony: I have a friend who has spent some time with current hunting clubs recording their songs which are still being written in the age-old way regarding local events, and by far the most influential genre for tune source is no longer folksong, but Irish Country music. Personally I don't see that as a problem, or even unusual, it's simply evolution.


22 Dec 18 - 03:56 AM (#3967808)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Evolution of the revival, but it has nothing whatever to do with the tradition
We have a massive repertoire of songs and ballads which, in my opinion, need to be brought to the attention of as many people possible before they end up as museum pieces
They are not only extremely pleasurable to sing and listen to, but they are important carriers of our social history
If people had been happy to stand aside to make room for the latest fad we would have no Shakespeare or Chaucer or Beethoven...
Creative culture is a continuum, not a leap from fashion to fashion - it's part of our long-term human identity
If songs from the 17th - 18th 19th century could give mid 20th century young people so much pleasure, why can't they continue to do so in the 21st century?
I have to say I find complacent such as this from a researcher somewhat surprising and disappointing
I really think we have totally different objectives here
Jim Carroll


22 Dec 18 - 04:23 AM (#3967813)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

Jim could you explain why you think it has nothing to do with the traditi0n


22 Dec 18 - 05:24 AM (#3967819)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Observer

Jim Carroll Date: 22 Dec 18 - 03:56 AM

Well said, put perfectly.


22 Dec 18 - 05:54 AM (#3967821)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge

Jim, if you accept that the songs & culture of previous centuries still gives pleasure today, then surely more recent culture, including music hall songs, rock music etc can do the same to us and future generations? Again, it's down to taste & sensitivity to context!
Re the 14 verse ballad I mentioned. Picture a hall full of rural folk out for a good night's entertainment on an annual village concert, with accordion, flute players & a ghastly electronic organ playing country & irish & people walking in & out, drinking tea & chatting to friends. An ancient ballad in a dialect far outside their experience is a LOT less relevant than almost anything I can think of!
Re the 'Wild Rover', you're being perverse there- you know quite well what version I meant! You just TRY to sing a lovely but different old version to a crowd such as I mentioned & you would not be able to complete the song, and would be deservedly perceived as some kind of an eejit!
I'm well aware of Brian Peters' excellent article about the song- Johnny Handle sent me a copy some time back. Louis Killen has also explained his role in its popularisation but wouldn't accept the blame- his version was good enough in its day, it's what has happened since which makes it the joke it is today!
Sad maybe but the real world.
It's folk, Jim, but not as we know it.....


22 Dec 18 - 05:56 AM (#3967822)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin

Hunting songs are about as far from the revival as you can get. For an ethnomusicologist, the continuity of the practice is what makes it distinctive.


22 Dec 18 - 06:58 AM (#3967829)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Hunting songs are about as far from the revival as you can get"
True to a point Jack, though I do know some Northern Clubs specialised in them
Personally, I despise them almost as much as I do the bernaric practice the sclebrate

" music hall songs, rock music etc can do the same to us and future "
They may well - not sure what the youth of the future will make of 'Nellie Dean'
Beside the point - they ain't folk songs
Jim Carroll


22 Dec 18 - 07:01 AM (#3967832)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Didn't quite finish
What Steve is describing isn't progression or development - it's acculturation - one culture taking over and replacing another
It's certainly not progress - it's a return to the times when everybody was trying to sound like Guthrie or Leadbelly
Wonder if people would be happy to see Morris replaced by Line-dancing
Jim Carroll


22 Dec 18 - 07:27 AM (#3967835)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Will Fly

Be careful what you prophesy, Jim... line dancing is amazingly popular, very socially inclusive - and probably already far more practised than Morris.

Dance Near You: Line Dancing Classes

From the website:
Whatever you have heard previously about line dancing... put those thoughts aside and embrace the new culture of line dancing in the modern 20th century.

Contrary to popular opinion Line dancing was not invented by cowboys. Line dancing has its origins initially in the 1960's soul music scene in America, Followed in the 70's by the trend of dancing in lines in the discos,.in the 80's along came Billy Ray Cyrus and his video to Achy Breaky Heart and it was only really then that line dancing took off in the UK.

Modern line dance clubs teach to music from all genres to all styles of music, including soul, rock or pop, latin music, Irish, salsa, and big band music as well as country and western.

It's easy for beginners to learn and offers more energetic and complex routines for the more experienced. From the first lesson beginners will be able to enjoy dancing to a whole range of line dance routines.


Don't care for it myself, but it's very popular and - I'm told - great fun to do.


22 Dec 18 - 07:34 AM (#3967837)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge

Who said they were folk songs? Not me- I'm not getting into that, been there before & it just ends in tears.
'Nellie Dean' may be regarded as a traditional gem one day- not up to our generation to make a judgment on that.
I don't want to be called names, so will just carry on doing what I do, 'folk' or not & not worrying about it- the purists can do that


22 Dec 18 - 08:02 AM (#3967838)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Who said they were folk songs? Not me-"
Why bring them up
Whethet you said it is immaterial - enough peopl have claimd some of them to be folk songs in order to sing them at folk clubs

"and probably already far more practised than Morris."
I have no doubt of that Will, jus as I have no doubt pop songs are more widely listened to and sung than folk songs
"'Nellie Dean' may be regarded as a traditional gem one day-"
Very doubtful - it is sentimentalised imagery based on an idyllic picture of country life
I'm not calling you or anybody names - people who use the term "purist" do that
Jim Carroll


22 Dec 18 - 08:02 AM (#3967839)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Who said they were folk songs? Not me-"
Why bring them up
Whethet you said it is immaterial - enough peopl have claimd some of them to be folk songs in order to sing them at folk clubs

"and probably already far more practised than Morris."
I have no doubt of that Will, jus as I have no doubt pop songs are more widely listened to and sung than folk songs
"'Nellie Dean' may be regarded as a traditional gem one day-"
Very doubtful - it is sentimentalised imagery based on an idyllic picture of country life
I'm not calling you or anybody names - people who use the term "purist" do that
Jim Carroll


22 Dec 18 - 08:37 AM (#3967841)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Vic Smith

Jack wrote:-
Hunting songs are about as far from the revival as you can get.
Very true and my contacts with the people who uphold this tradition (only through talking to them at traditional music weekends) suggests that as a community they are feeling more isolated. There are few grounds for regarding these songs as anything other than an ongoing tradition and the fact that new songs are entering their repertoire and these are subject to oral change enhances that opinion.
This brings me to another thought. Clearly if the tradition is the voice of the people then it will change to reflect changes the views of the people. Fox hunting songs are not so well received in clubs/singarounds are they were as more and more it comes to be regarded as a cruel and deservedly outlawed activity. I would not like to see them banned, mainly because of their vitality and their historic importance in rural Britain. A lot depends in the context they are sung in and the way they are introduced.
Similarly, blatently misogynist songs are much less heard these days. I have been in audiences where women have audibly groaned as some of the greater excesses of these songs.... and why shouldn't they?
I must have heard the Copper Family singing Oh! Good Ale hundreds of times over the 50-odd years that I have known them. Back in the 1960s they used to sing really lustily....
....And if my wife should me despise
How soon I'd give her two black eyes....

In his last few years Bob Copper had great difficulty with these lines. I can remember him, more than once pausing, looking upwards as if speaking to his dead wife and saying, "You know I wouldn't, love, it's just in the words of the song!"
Similarly there were times when I really cringed when Belle Stewart sung Blue Blazing Blind Drunk and laughing as she sang -
...When Alex gets home I get battered,
He batters we all black and blue...

I can remember thinking, "It isn't funny, Belle. Domestic violence is a curse." but, weakly, I just buttoned my lip rather than speaking out.
A third and last example. A few years ago at our folk club one of our best floor singers sang The Jew's Garden and I was approached at the end of the evening by one of our regulars was clearly incensed and approached me and he told me fimly that I should not have 'allowed' that song to be sung. My reply was that I was the club's organiser and not its censor and that we could not pretend that anti-semitism did not exist then and now in British society. Once again, the context was everything and if there any suggestion that the singer was advocating racism, I would have said so when I was back-announcing him and condemned him for it, but it is a difficult issue for all that. Some singers make subtle changes to the words to deal with this. My wife, Tina, makes a great job of singing Gathering Rushes. One time I noticed that a new word (the underlined one) had been inserted -
Was it by a black haired man
Or was it by a brown?

... and I feel that by doing so, I am sure that she is emphasising the original meaning. When the adults in my extended family were talking during my boyhood in Edinburgh about 'a grey wuman' or 'a ginger laddie' it was the hair that was being referred to. In modern multi-cultural Britain, 'a black man' means something different.

It was reading - and agreeing with - Jack's thoughts on hunting songs and Jim Bainbridge's thoughts of the appropriate mixture of song and venue that have led to my sharing these thoughts, After all, if a song loses its function it is unlikely to continue to be sung.


22 Dec 18 - 09:04 AM (#3967843)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge

No Jim- YOU said Nellie Dean & suchlike are not folksongs. I certainly wouldn't be interested in defining whether it is or not, but this statement implies you know what IS a folk song- YOU brought it up, not me!

And also you have no right to say what will become the folksongs of the future- not your choice, fortunately.

Nellie Dean would be a fascinating study for social ethnomusicologists of the 23nd century- no doubt some singing circle of the future will dig it up & there are worse songs around today.

that's enough from me- have just been passed a pint & a plate of mince pies, so Merry Christmas & Happy new year to all at mudcat


22 Dec 18 - 10:14 AM (#3967852)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"YOU said Nellie Dean & suchlike are not folksongs. I"
They aren't - unless you can specify why they are -
Repetition has nothing to do with folk or tradition - Nellie Dean is an old pop song - if we didn't already know that we have a recording of Walter Pardon insisting it (and others like it were
Nellie Dean doesn't need an ethnologist to decide what it is - it is what is
Jim Carroll


22 Dec 18 - 10:30 AM (#3967857)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

This is a song written by my friend, neighbour and a lovely guy Paul Openshaw. Probably plays jigs, reels - all that sort of trad stuff I don't really get better than anyone I know - and I know quite a few/ I'm not sure he's met Jim Carroll, but they're both gentlemen. The meeting place is music - even if its no longer the folk club.


Folkie

You think of yourself as a folkie but you do not have the urge
You do not have the urge for a lengthy lament or a dirge
A lengthy lament or a dirge is not the way you fill your spot
But, you think of yourself as a folkie because nobody says that you’re not

You think of yourself as a folkie but you do not have the zest
You do not have the zest because with two left feet you are blessed
With two left feet you are blessed and so you do not have a chance
You do not have a chance when somebody asks you to dance
When somebody asks you to dance, everything goes to pot
But, you think of yourself as a folkie because nobody says that you’re not

You think of yourself as a folkie but you do not have the skill
You do not have the skill to twitter or to trill
To twitter or to trill is not the way you bat
And you don’t stick a finger in your ear, or anywhere else come to that
But if there is nobody else, and you are all they have got
You think of yourself as a folkie because nobody tells you you’re not

Paul J Openshaw (December 2018)


22 Dec 18 - 10:41 AM (#3967859)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Modette

Brilliant, Al! Thanks for that.


22 Dec 18 - 10:53 AM (#3967862)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Vic Smith

In order to promote clarification, it needs to be pointed out that opinions differ as to whether Nellie Dean is a folk song or not.

* Some would say, as has been stated above, that it is an old pop song and therefore does not qualify.
* Others would say that it does qualify as a folk song because, thinking of the process of songs changing and developing in various ways in the tongues of singers which in now considered the central factor rather than the origin of the song. For this reason it has been treated like other songs that fit with this approach, it has been accorded a number in the Roud Index (30035).

This means that the only fair thing that we can say is that:-
There is a difference of opinion as to whether Nellie Dean is a folk song or not. This opinion will depend on which explanation of what constitutes a folk song is accepted by the person making the statement. We have to listen to who is speaking and why they are saying it.
Certainly Nellie Dean was in the repertoire of many English traditional singers of the 20th century along with other songs that can be traced to author(s).
Nobody is right. Nobody is wrong. Everybody has the right to express their opinion.


22 Dec 18 - 11:32 AM (#3967864)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Nobody is right. Nobody is wrong. "
A definition is a definition Vic - if this is a folk song the cvlaimants need to say why
It is a early 20th century song of known authorship
It appears nto have not gone through any process to produce variants
It has not become regionalism in any way
It is not narrative as the bulk of our repertoire is
It lacks any form of charactarisasation
There is no evidence that anybody has claimed it as being their own, or Norfolk or Esat Sussex -
It remains as it was first created - "a sentimental ballad in common time by Henry W. Armstrong, published in 1905 by M. Witmark & Sons of New York City.

If all songs sung by traditional singers were 'folk' the term is meaningless and we have been wasting our lives pretending otherwise, which is some of the nonsense been peddled by some which is robbing our tradition of its unique identity
Not something I'm willing to put my name to

Why isn't \The Birdie song a folk song ; or The National Anthem, or Viva Espania

People who think folk songs aren't "brilliant" - they just don't like folk songs#]
Sorry 'bout that Al
Jim


22 Dec 18 - 11:32 AM (#3967865)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"Nobody is right. Nobody is wrong. "
A definition is a definition Vic - if this is a folk song the cvlaimants need to say why
It is a early 20th century song of known authorship
It appears nto have not gone through any process to produce variants
It has not become regionalism in any way
It is not narrative as the bulk of our repertoire is
It lacks any form of charactarisasation
There is no evidence that anybody has claimed it as being their own, or Norfolk or Esat Sussex -
It remains as it was first created - "a sentimental ballad in common time by Henry W. Armstrong, published in 1905 by M. Witmark & Sons of New York City.

If all songs sung by traditional singers were 'folk' the term is meaningless and we have been wasting our lives pretending otherwise, which is some of the nonsense been peddled by some which is robbing our tradition of its unique identity
Not something I'm willing to put my name to

Why isn't \The Birdie song a folk song ; or The National Anthem, or Viva Espania

People who think folk songs aren't "brilliant" - they just don't like folk songs#]
Sorry 'bout that Al
Jim


22 Dec 18 - 11:54 AM (#3967868)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Kenny B(inactive)

Dear Mr Sandman thank you for reminding me of Don Quixote who has an obvious relevance in this thread regarding purists, his "baldrick" Sancho Panza and his "high horse" Rocinante

A read of the Wiki quotes below may illustrate the subtle and appreciated humour of your posting to other interested parties encore!

The story follows the adventures of a noble (hidalgo) named Alonso Quixano who reads so many chivalric romances that he loses his sanity and decides to become a knight-errant (caballero andante), reviving chivalry and serving his country, under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha. He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire, who often employs a unique, earthy wit in dealing with Don Quixote's rhetorical orations on antiquated knighthood. Don Quixote, in the first part of the book, does not see the world for what it is and prefers to imagine that he is living out a knightly story.


Rocinante (Spanish pronunciation: [ro?i'nante]) is Don Quixote's horse in the novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes. In many ways, Rocinante is not only Don Quixote's horse, but also his double: like Don Quixote, he is awkward, past his prime, and engaged in a task beyond his capacities.[1][2]


23 Dec 18 - 02:53 PM (#3968058)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

Yes , but you don't get it - what Paul's song is saying.

Its not Paul or me or even you who decides you're a folksinger.

If people say you're a folkie - you're bloody stuck with it mate.

Personally I'd rather be regarded as a boulevardier - charismatic, good looking and musically talented.


24 Dec 18 - 01:52 AM (#3968100)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman

D3efinitions are produced by scholars,it enables categorisation and reminds me of nineteenth century butterfly colectors, music however evolves and changes


24 Dec 18 - 03:19 AM (#3968102)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

Definitions are in order to identify what you are talking about, they guide evering in life that we do
Do away with them and you cease communicating with each other -n this case, lack or manipulation of them to suit personal ends stands to lose us our folk songs as it has lost us many of our folk clubs and in some cases cann affect people's lives - I've just had a PM from someone wo relies strongly on getting bookins from folk clubs but can no longer do so because he sings traditional songs

"Its not Paul or me or even you who decides you're a folksinger."
No it certainly isn't Al - it's whether you sing folk songs, and that depends on knowing what a folk song is

Here we have a situation that 'Nellie Dean" (a song written by an American boxing promoter at the beginning of the 20th century) might be an English folk song while at the same time traditional ballads that heve been sung by the folk for centuries and are regarded and described as the "the high watermark of the oral tradition" ot "The Muckle (big) songs" are "inappropriate.
I despair, I really do.

Happy Crimbo all - off to listen to a lorra=lorra traditional music and songs tonight in Dublin, where they have no doubt what their traditional music is and are proud of it
Jim


24 Dec 18 - 03:24 AM (#3968103)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll

"-n this case, lack or manipulation of them to suit personal end"
Sorry keyboard playing the maggot
Should read
"in this case - lack of understanding or manipulation of them to suit personal ends"
Jim Carroll


24 Dec 18 - 06:00 AM (#3968123)
Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle

"Its not Paul or me or even you who decides you're a folksinger."
No it certainly isn't Al - it's whether you sing folk songs, and that depends on knowing what a folk song is

you can't control what people decide you are.

doubtless Hitler would have preferred to be remembered as the great benfactor.

merry christmas , no one in my Dublin family would have known a folksong from a fart. a very unmusical lot!