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Do purists really exist?

Folknacious 25 Jun 11 - 09:27 AM
Musket 25 Jun 11 - 09:42 AM
Colin Randall 25 Jun 11 - 10:10 AM
Colin Randall 25 Jun 11 - 10:13 AM
GUEST,livelylass 25 Jun 11 - 10:25 AM
theleveller 25 Jun 11 - 10:40 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Jun 11 - 10:54 AM
GUEST,999 25 Jun 11 - 10:55 AM
Silas 25 Jun 11 - 11:09 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Jun 11 - 11:12 AM
Leadfingers 25 Jun 11 - 11:15 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Jun 11 - 11:16 AM
GUEST,Lighter 25 Jun 11 - 11:32 AM
Bill D 25 Jun 11 - 11:45 AM
MGM·Lion 25 Jun 11 - 12:03 PM
olddude 25 Jun 11 - 12:53 PM
Richard Bridge 25 Jun 11 - 01:09 PM
Ron Cheevers 25 Jun 11 - 01:15 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 25 Jun 11 - 01:20 PM
Bill D 25 Jun 11 - 01:25 PM
Jack Campin 25 Jun 11 - 01:30 PM
The Sandman 25 Jun 11 - 01:33 PM
GUEST,Jerome Clark 25 Jun 11 - 04:13 PM
Little Hawk 25 Jun 11 - 04:21 PM
Richard Bridge 25 Jun 11 - 04:31 PM
Big Ballad Singer 25 Jun 11 - 04:46 PM
GUEST,Jerome Clark 25 Jun 11 - 04:48 PM
JohnH 25 Jun 11 - 04:57 PM
JohnH 25 Jun 11 - 05:08 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 25 Jun 11 - 05:30 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 25 Jun 11 - 05:44 PM
gnu 25 Jun 11 - 05:50 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 25 Jun 11 - 06:00 PM
Phil Edwards 25 Jun 11 - 06:38 PM
Dave Hanson 25 Jun 11 - 08:04 PM
Folknacious 25 Jun 11 - 08:18 PM
Charley Noble 25 Jun 11 - 08:27 PM
Richard Bridge 25 Jun 11 - 08:33 PM
Bert 26 Jun 11 - 01:37 AM
Jim Carroll 26 Jun 11 - 03:35 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 26 Jun 11 - 03:52 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 26 Jun 11 - 04:01 AM
Bert 26 Jun 11 - 04:02 AM
GUEST,Jon 26 Jun 11 - 04:09 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 26 Jun 11 - 04:16 AM
Musket 26 Jun 11 - 04:35 AM
Bert 26 Jun 11 - 04:54 AM
GUEST,Jon 26 Jun 11 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 26 Jun 11 - 05:41 AM
Musket 26 Jun 11 - 05:56 AM
GUEST,Jon 26 Jun 11 - 05:57 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 26 Jun 11 - 06:15 AM
Bonzo3legs 26 Jun 11 - 06:20 AM
Little Hawk 26 Jun 11 - 06:23 AM
Brian Peters 26 Jun 11 - 06:41 AM
Jack Campin 26 Jun 11 - 07:05 AM
Bonzo3legs 26 Jun 11 - 07:12 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 26 Jun 11 - 07:43 AM
The Sandman 26 Jun 11 - 08:23 AM
Folknacious 26 Jun 11 - 08:52 AM
Folknacious 26 Jun 11 - 08:55 AM
Silas 26 Jun 11 - 09:18 AM
The Sandman 26 Jun 11 - 09:19 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 26 Jun 11 - 09:38 AM
Brian Peters 26 Jun 11 - 09:40 AM
Bert 26 Jun 11 - 12:47 PM
Richard Bridge 26 Jun 11 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 26 Jun 11 - 01:04 PM
Brian Peters 26 Jun 11 - 01:05 PM
Richard Bridge 26 Jun 11 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 26 Jun 11 - 01:21 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 26 Jun 11 - 01:26 PM
Bert 26 Jun 11 - 01:30 PM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Jun 11 - 01:36 PM
The Sandman 26 Jun 11 - 02:07 PM
Richard Bridge 26 Jun 11 - 02:07 PM
GUEST,Lighter 26 Jun 11 - 02:08 PM
Jim Carroll 26 Jun 11 - 02:40 PM
Richard Bridge 26 Jun 11 - 04:00 PM
goatfell 26 Jun 11 - 04:26 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 26 Jun 11 - 04:44 PM
Richard Bridge 26 Jun 11 - 04:47 PM
MGM·Lion 26 Jun 11 - 05:37 PM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 26 Jun 11 - 06:00 PM
Richard Bridge 26 Jun 11 - 06:16 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 26 Jun 11 - 06:48 PM
GUEST,livelylass 26 Jun 11 - 06:48 PM
Jim Carroll 26 Jun 11 - 08:44 PM
GUEST,Jon 27 Jun 11 - 01:14 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 27 Jun 11 - 01:52 AM
theleveller 27 Jun 11 - 03:25 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 27 Jun 11 - 03:32 AM
Spleen Cringe 27 Jun 11 - 03:52 AM
theleveller 27 Jun 11 - 04:20 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 27 Jun 11 - 04:28 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 27 Jun 11 - 04:47 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 27 Jun 11 - 04:59 AM
Richard Bridge 27 Jun 11 - 05:09 AM
Bert 27 Jun 11 - 06:11 AM
Colin Randall 27 Jun 11 - 06:26 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 27 Jun 11 - 06:32 AM
Bert 27 Jun 11 - 06:42 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 27 Jun 11 - 07:04 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 27 Jun 11 - 08:26 AM
theleveller 27 Jun 11 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 27 Jun 11 - 09:24 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 27 Jun 11 - 09:33 AM
Richard Bridge 27 Jun 11 - 10:05 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 27 Jun 11 - 10:13 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 27 Jun 11 - 10:16 AM
The Sandman 27 Jun 11 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 27 Jun 11 - 10:25 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 27 Jun 11 - 10:35 AM
Rob Naylor 27 Jun 11 - 11:15 AM
Bill D 27 Jun 11 - 11:18 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Jun 11 - 12:30 PM
Richard Bridge 27 Jun 11 - 02:55 PM
GUEST,mg 27 Jun 11 - 06:32 PM
Art Thieme 27 Jun 11 - 07:41 PM
Tattie Bogle 27 Jun 11 - 09:32 PM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 28 Jun 11 - 03:40 AM
glueman 28 Jun 11 - 03:48 AM
Richard Bridge 28 Jun 11 - 04:12 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 28 Jun 11 - 04:33 AM
Jim Carroll 28 Jun 11 - 04:39 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 28 Jun 11 - 05:02 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 28 Jun 11 - 05:05 AM
Richard Bridge 28 Jun 11 - 05:07 AM
GUEST,Banjiman 28 Jun 11 - 05:16 AM
Jim Carroll 28 Jun 11 - 06:11 AM
theleveller 28 Jun 11 - 06:22 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 28 Jun 11 - 07:17 AM
theleveller 28 Jun 11 - 09:53 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 28 Jun 11 - 10:46 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 28 Jun 11 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 28 Jun 11 - 11:07 AM
Richard Bridge 28 Jun 11 - 11:46 AM
Jim Carroll 28 Jun 11 - 11:54 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 28 Jun 11 - 12:38 PM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 28 Jun 11 - 12:54 PM
John P 28 Jun 11 - 03:34 PM
Richard Bridge 28 Jun 11 - 04:18 PM
theleveller 29 Jun 11 - 03:41 AM
GUEST,Banjiman 29 Jun 11 - 03:51 AM
theleveller 29 Jun 11 - 03:55 AM
Richard Bridge 29 Jun 11 - 04:14 AM
Jack Blandiver 29 Jun 11 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,Banjiman 29 Jun 11 - 05:28 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie or Fluids or whatever 29 Jun 11 - 05:37 AM
Richard Bridge 29 Jun 11 - 05:47 AM
Jack Blandiver 29 Jun 11 - 05:52 AM
glueman 29 Jun 11 - 06:05 AM
theleveller 29 Jun 11 - 06:20 AM
GUEST,Steamin fluids etc 29 Jun 11 - 07:05 AM
theleveller 29 Jun 11 - 07:47 AM
glueman 29 Jun 11 - 07:54 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 29 Jun 11 - 08:53 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 29 Jun 11 - 09:12 AM
Musket 29 Jun 11 - 01:25 PM
The Sandman 29 Jun 11 - 01:40 PM
Richard Bridge 29 Jun 11 - 01:56 PM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 29 Jun 11 - 03:27 PM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 29 Jun 11 - 03:32 PM
Goose Gander 30 Jun 11 - 01:03 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 30 Jun 11 - 08:58 AM
glueman 30 Jun 11 - 09:22 AM
Goose Gander 30 Jun 11 - 11:38 AM
glueman 30 Jun 11 - 05:21 PM
Richard Bridge 30 Jun 11 - 06:48 PM
Goose Gander 01 Jul 11 - 12:13 AM
Goose Gander 01 Jul 11 - 12:21 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 01 Jul 11 - 05:07 AM
Brian Peters 01 Jul 11 - 06:49 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 01 Jul 11 - 08:25 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 01 Jul 11 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 01 Jul 11 - 09:09 AM
theleveller 01 Jul 11 - 09:51 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 01 Jul 11 - 10:27 AM
theleveller 01 Jul 11 - 11:45 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 01 Jul 11 - 01:02 PM
Richard Bridge 01 Jul 11 - 01:14 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 01 Jul 11 - 06:43 PM
ripov 01 Jul 11 - 07:45 PM
GUEST,roderick warner 01 Jul 11 - 07:58 PM
Richard Bridge 01 Jul 11 - 09:48 PM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 02 Jul 11 - 01:08 PM
ripov 02 Jul 11 - 04:03 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 02 Jul 11 - 06:14 PM
bluesunsets 02 Jul 11 - 10:53 PM
GUEST,Jon 03 Jul 11 - 05:04 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 03 Jul 11 - 07:08 AM
dick greenhaus 03 Jul 11 - 12:51 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Jul 11 - 01:10 PM
Big Al Whittle 03 Jul 11 - 09:59 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Jul 11 - 03:20 AM
Richard Bridge 04 Jul 11 - 03:54 AM
The Sandman 04 Jul 11 - 09:18 AM
Brian Peters 04 Jul 11 - 09:56 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 04 Jul 11 - 10:35 AM
Brian Peters 04 Jul 11 - 12:26 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 04 Jul 11 - 01:17 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Jul 11 - 01:30 PM
The Sandman 04 Jul 11 - 01:56 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Jul 11 - 02:45 PM
dick greenhaus 04 Jul 11 - 03:05 PM
The Sandman 04 Jul 11 - 04:40 PM
JohnH 04 Jul 11 - 05:28 PM
Big Al Whittle 04 Jul 11 - 05:32 PM
GUEST,Jon 04 Jul 11 - 06:36 PM
ripov 04 Jul 11 - 08:04 PM
GUEST,Jon 04 Jul 11 - 08:41 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jul 11 - 02:17 AM
Richard Bridge 05 Jul 11 - 04:45 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 05 Jul 11 - 04:52 AM
Richard Bridge 05 Jul 11 - 05:07 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 05 Jul 11 - 05:14 AM
Big Al Whittle 05 Jul 11 - 05:18 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 05 Jul 11 - 05:40 AM
Brian Peters 05 Jul 11 - 06:17 AM
Rob Naylor 05 Jul 11 - 06:18 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 05 Jul 11 - 08:01 AM
Brian Peters 05 Jul 11 - 09:18 AM
The Sandman 05 Jul 11 - 10:08 AM
Big Al Whittle 05 Jul 11 - 10:24 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 05 Jul 11 - 10:24 AM
Brian Peters 05 Jul 11 - 10:38 AM
John P 05 Jul 11 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 05 Jul 11 - 01:33 PM
Big Al Whittle 05 Jul 11 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,Jon 05 Jul 11 - 01:43 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jul 11 - 02:58 PM
John P 05 Jul 11 - 03:02 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 11 - 05:47 PM
GUEST,Jon 05 Jul 11 - 06:07 PM
John P 05 Jul 11 - 07:35 PM
Big Al Whittle 05 Jul 11 - 08:31 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 11 - 11:58 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Jul 11 - 02:28 AM
Richard Bridge 06 Jul 11 - 04:37 AM
Big Al Whittle 06 Jul 11 - 05:10 AM
The Sandman 06 Jul 11 - 07:28 AM
John P 06 Jul 11 - 07:06 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jul 11 - 03:01 AM
GUEST,Banjiman 07 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM
theleveller 07 Jul 11 - 04:16 AM
The Sandman 07 Jul 11 - 06:15 AM
Phil Edwards 07 Jul 11 - 07:34 AM
Phil Edwards 07 Jul 11 - 07:36 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 07 Jul 11 - 07:51 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 07 Jul 11 - 08:02 AM
Brian Peters 07 Jul 11 - 08:24 AM
theleveller 07 Jul 11 - 08:34 AM
theleveller 07 Jul 11 - 08:36 AM
GUEST,Colin Holt 07 Jul 11 - 09:29 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 07 Jul 11 - 09:40 AM
theleveller 07 Jul 11 - 09:50 AM
Brian Peters 07 Jul 11 - 10:06 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 07 Jul 11 - 10:30 AM
theleveller 07 Jul 11 - 11:28 AM
goatfell 07 Jul 11 - 11:47 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 07 Jul 11 - 12:29 PM
Brian Peters 07 Jul 11 - 12:40 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 07 Jul 11 - 12:41 PM
GUEST 07 Jul 11 - 01:28 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jul 11 - 01:32 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 07 Jul 11 - 01:46 PM
Goose Gander 07 Jul 11 - 02:38 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jul 11 - 02:55 PM
GUEST,Banjiman 07 Jul 11 - 02:58 PM
GUEST,colin Holt 07 Jul 11 - 03:03 PM
GUEST,colin holt 07 Jul 11 - 03:06 PM
GUEST 07 Jul 11 - 03:08 PM
GUEST,Banjiman 07 Jul 11 - 03:09 PM
John P 07 Jul 11 - 03:11 PM
John P 07 Jul 11 - 03:19 PM
GUEST 07 Jul 11 - 03:20 PM
GUEST,livelylass 07 Jul 11 - 03:23 PM
GUEST,Banjiman 07 Jul 11 - 03:24 PM
GUEST,colin holt 07 Jul 11 - 03:27 PM
John P 07 Jul 11 - 03:35 PM
GUEST,Banjiman 07 Jul 11 - 03:39 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 07 Jul 11 - 03:40 PM
GUEST,colin holt 07 Jul 11 - 03:43 PM
John P 07 Jul 11 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,Banjiman 07 Jul 11 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,Banjiman 07 Jul 11 - 04:00 PM
John P 07 Jul 11 - 04:06 PM
The Sandman 07 Jul 11 - 04:27 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 07 Jul 11 - 04:31 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jul 11 - 04:55 PM
John P 07 Jul 11 - 05:16 PM
The Sandman 07 Jul 11 - 05:30 PM
Spleen Cringe 07 Jul 11 - 05:38 PM
John P 07 Jul 11 - 05:43 PM
GUEST,Jon 07 Jul 11 - 05:48 PM
John P 07 Jul 11 - 06:01 PM
John P 07 Jul 11 - 06:03 PM
GUEST,Banjiman 07 Jul 11 - 06:05 PM
Goose Gander 07 Jul 11 - 06:08 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jul 11 - 06:12 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jul 11 - 06:14 PM
The Sandman 07 Jul 11 - 06:22 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 07 Jul 11 - 06:26 PM
John P 07 Jul 11 - 06:48 PM
Spleen Cringe 07 Jul 11 - 07:02 PM
Goose Gander 07 Jul 11 - 07:04 PM
ripov 07 Jul 11 - 08:11 PM
John P 07 Jul 11 - 08:54 PM
GUEST 08 Jul 11 - 03:14 AM
GUEST,Banjiman 08 Jul 11 - 03:15 AM
Spleen Cringe 08 Jul 11 - 03:31 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 08 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM
GUEST,Banjiman 08 Jul 11 - 04:07 AM
GUEST 08 Jul 11 - 04:30 AM
Banjiman 08 Jul 11 - 04:59 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 08 Jul 11 - 05:39 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 08 Jul 11 - 08:42 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 08 Jul 11 - 09:24 AM
Goose Gander 08 Jul 11 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie / fluids whatever 08 Jul 11 - 05:59 PM
ripov 08 Jul 11 - 08:12 PM
Goose Gander 08 Jul 11 - 09:18 PM
Jim Carroll 09 Jul 11 - 02:27 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Jul 11 - 03:25 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 09 Jul 11 - 03:46 AM
Goose Gander 09 Jul 11 - 04:01 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 09 Jul 11 - 04:10 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Jul 11 - 04:33 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 09 Jul 11 - 04:51 AM
Richard Bridge 09 Jul 11 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,mother macree anon purist 09 Jul 11 - 05:12 AM
GUEST 09 Jul 11 - 05:29 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 09 Jul 11 - 05:35 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 09 Jul 11 - 05:52 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 09 Jul 11 - 06:27 AM
Folknacious 09 Jul 11 - 07:27 AM
Richard Bridge 09 Jul 11 - 07:43 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones, who really must reset his cook 09 Jul 11 - 09:55 AM
Big Al Whittle 09 Jul 11 - 10:24 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 09 Jul 11 - 01:33 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 09 Jul 11 - 05:41 PM
Big Al Whittle 10 Jul 11 - 03:11 AM
Richard Bridge 10 Jul 11 - 04:11 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Jul 11 - 04:35 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 10 Jul 11 - 05:24 AM
Richard Bridge 10 Jul 11 - 05:51 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 10 Jul 11 - 06:42 AM
Richard Bridge 10 Jul 11 - 07:04 AM
Howard Jones 10 Jul 11 - 07:21 AM
Will Fly 10 Jul 11 - 07:27 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 10 Jul 11 - 08:07 AM
Richard Bridge 10 Jul 11 - 09:31 AM
MGM·Lion 10 Jul 11 - 10:46 AM
Big Al Whittle 10 Jul 11 - 11:28 AM
The Sandman 10 Jul 11 - 12:30 PM
Continuity Jones 10 Jul 11 - 04:14 PM
Jim Carroll 10 Jul 11 - 04:29 PM
BTNG 10 Jul 11 - 04:30 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 10 Jul 11 - 04:44 PM
Richard Bridge 10 Jul 11 - 05:14 PM
Phil Edwards 10 Jul 11 - 05:16 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 10 Jul 11 - 06:34 PM
GUEST,Brian 11 Jul 11 - 01:22 AM
MGM·Lion 11 Jul 11 - 02:25 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Jul 11 - 03:14 AM
Keith A of Hertford 11 Jul 11 - 03:16 AM
MGM·Lion 11 Jul 11 - 03:24 AM
Keith A of Hertford 11 Jul 11 - 03:43 AM
Keith A of Hertford 11 Jul 11 - 03:46 AM
MGM·Lion 11 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM
theleveller 11 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM
Keith A of Hertford 11 Jul 11 - 04:06 AM
Big Al Whittle 11 Jul 11 - 04:16 AM
Keith A of Hertford 11 Jul 11 - 04:41 AM
Spleen Cringe 11 Jul 11 - 04:41 AM
GUEST,Jon 11 Jul 11 - 04:50 AM
Keith A of Hertford 11 Jul 11 - 05:02 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 11 Jul 11 - 05:05 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 11 Jul 11 - 05:21 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 11 Jul 11 - 05:28 AM
glueman 11 Jul 11 - 06:21 AM
theleveller 11 Jul 11 - 06:39 AM
glueman 11 Jul 11 - 06:40 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 11 Jul 11 - 07:34 AM
theleveller 11 Jul 11 - 07:37 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 11 Jul 11 - 07:58 AM
glueman 11 Jul 11 - 08:26 AM
theleveller 11 Jul 11 - 08:39 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 11 Jul 11 - 10:01 AM
theleveller 11 Jul 11 - 11:09 AM
glueman 11 Jul 11 - 11:10 AM
The Sandman 11 Jul 11 - 01:14 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 11 Jul 11 - 01:38 PM
glueman 11 Jul 11 - 01:54 PM
Banjiman 11 Jul 11 - 02:25 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Jul 11 - 03:24 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 11 Jul 11 - 03:39 PM
Richard Bridge 11 Jul 11 - 04:29 PM
Phil Edwards 11 Jul 11 - 05:00 PM
John P 11 Jul 11 - 05:26 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 12 Jul 11 - 04:38 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 12 Jul 11 - 05:10 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Jul 11 - 05:19 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 12 Jul 11 - 09:25 AM
John P 12 Jul 11 - 10:21 AM
theleveller 12 Jul 11 - 10:55 AM
GUEST,livelylass 12 Jul 11 - 11:09 AM
theleveller 12 Jul 11 - 11:26 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 12 Jul 11 - 11:27 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Jul 11 - 03:01 PM
BTNG 12 Jul 11 - 03:06 PM
GUEST,livelylass 12 Jul 11 - 03:26 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 12 Jul 11 - 04:39 PM
glueman 12 Jul 11 - 05:27 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Jul 11 - 03:25 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Jul 11 - 03:38 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 13 Jul 11 - 04:31 AM
MGM·Lion 13 Jul 11 - 04:49 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 13 Jul 11 - 04:58 AM
MGM·Lion 13 Jul 11 - 05:03 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 13 Jul 11 - 05:12 AM
MGM·Lion 13 Jul 11 - 05:16 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Jul 11 - 05:42 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Jul 11 - 05:46 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 13 Jul 11 - 05:48 AM
MGM·Lion 13 Jul 11 - 05:56 AM
theleveller 13 Jul 11 - 06:00 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 13 Jul 11 - 07:49 AM
GUEST,raymond greenoaken 13 Jul 11 - 07:51 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 13 Jul 11 - 08:42 AM
Big Al Whittle 13 Jul 11 - 10:05 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 13 Jul 11 - 12:15 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Jul 11 - 01:05 PM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 13 Jul 11 - 01:29 PM
Big Al Whittle 13 Jul 11 - 01:40 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Jul 11 - 01:45 PM
glueman 13 Jul 11 - 06:34 PM
GUEST,livelylass 13 Jul 11 - 06:38 PM
Spleen Cringe 13 Jul 11 - 06:52 PM
Big Al Whittle 13 Jul 11 - 06:56 PM
Phil Edwards 13 Jul 11 - 07:08 PM
TheSnail 13 Jul 11 - 07:10 PM
Big Al Whittle 13 Jul 11 - 07:29 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 14 Jul 11 - 03:19 AM
theleveller 14 Jul 11 - 03:40 AM
Big Al Whittle 14 Jul 11 - 03:46 AM
GUEST,livelylass 14 Jul 11 - 04:26 AM
Will Fly 14 Jul 11 - 04:33 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Jul 11 - 04:37 AM
GUEST,livelylass 14 Jul 11 - 04:41 AM
Big Al Whittle 14 Jul 11 - 05:52 AM
theleveller 14 Jul 11 - 06:34 AM
Big Al Whittle 14 Jul 11 - 07:25 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Jul 11 - 07:56 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 14 Jul 11 - 08:11 AM
Big Al Whittle 14 Jul 11 - 08:19 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Jul 11 - 08:41 AM
GUEST,livelylass 14 Jul 11 - 09:44 AM
theleveller 14 Jul 11 - 09:48 AM
John P 14 Jul 11 - 10:44 AM
TheSnail 14 Jul 11 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 14 Jul 11 - 12:35 PM
Phil Edwards 14 Jul 11 - 12:41 PM
Phil Edwards 14 Jul 11 - 01:18 PM
Big Al Whittle 14 Jul 11 - 01:52 PM
Howard Jones 14 Jul 11 - 02:27 PM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 14 Jul 11 - 02:29 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 14 Jul 11 - 04:03 PM
The Sandman 14 Jul 11 - 05:26 PM
Phil Edwards 14 Jul 11 - 05:35 PM
John P 14 Jul 11 - 05:49 PM
Spleen Cringe 14 Jul 11 - 06:08 PM
John P 14 Jul 11 - 06:22 PM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 14 Jul 11 - 06:27 PM
Phil Edwards 14 Jul 11 - 06:48 PM
Phil Edwards 14 Jul 11 - 06:50 PM
John P 14 Jul 11 - 07:00 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 14 Jul 11 - 08:47 PM
MGM·Lion 15 Jul 11 - 01:07 AM
Spleen Cringe 15 Jul 11 - 03:29 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 15 Jul 11 - 03:57 AM
theleveller 15 Jul 11 - 04:12 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 15 Jul 11 - 04:50 AM
theleveller 15 Jul 11 - 05:29 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 15 Jul 11 - 05:42 AM
theleveller 15 Jul 11 - 05:59 AM
The Sandman 15 Jul 11 - 06:06 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 15 Jul 11 - 06:17 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 15 Jul 11 - 06:18 AM
Banjiman 15 Jul 11 - 07:55 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 15 Jul 11 - 08:18 AM
theleveller 15 Jul 11 - 08:22 AM
Phil Edwards 15 Jul 11 - 08:52 AM
GUEST 15 Jul 11 - 09:39 AM
GUEST 15 Jul 11 - 09:43 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 15 Jul 11 - 10:20 AM
Musket 15 Jul 11 - 01:05 PM
John P 15 Jul 11 - 03:13 PM
glueman 15 Jul 11 - 03:29 PM
John P 15 Jul 11 - 04:39 PM
Big Al Whittle 15 Jul 11 - 11:23 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 16 Jul 11 - 05:13 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 16 Jul 11 - 05:19 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 16 Jul 11 - 05:27 AM
TheSnail 17 Jul 11 - 05:57 AM
Dave Hanson 17 Jul 11 - 06:14 AM
GUEST,folkiedave 17 Jul 11 - 06:25 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 17 Jul 11 - 06:49 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 Jul 11 - 07:45 AM
MGM·Lion 17 Jul 11 - 08:37 AM
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Musket 17 Jul 11 - 01:23 PM
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Will Fly 18 Jul 11 - 10:11 AM
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Big Al Whittle 10 Dec 18 - 02:08 AM
leeneia 12 Dec 18 - 02:15 AM
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Jim Carroll 12 Dec 18 - 03:48 AM
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Jim Carroll 12 Dec 18 - 06:52 AM
The Sandman 12 Dec 18 - 09:28 AM
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Subject: Do purists really exist?
From: Folknacious
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 09:27 AM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 09:42 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Colin Randall
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 10:10 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Colin Randall
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 10:13 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 10:25 AM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 10:40 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 10:54 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 10:55 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Silas
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 11:09 AM

Good post livelylass


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 11:12 AM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 11:15 AM

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 !


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 11:16 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 11:32 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 11:45 AM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 12:03 PM

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?...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: olddude
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 12:53 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:09 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Ron Cheevers
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:15 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:20 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:25 PM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:30 PM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 01:33 PM

who cares apart from Folknacious.


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

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 04:21 PM

Everything really exists. The only question is...

When?

Where?

And how many of them? ;-)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 04:31 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Ballad Singer
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 04:46 PM

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. ;)


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: JohnH
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 04:57 PM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: JohnH
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 05:08 PM

@ Ron Cheevers. I don't do guitar!


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

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 05:44 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: gnu
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 05:50 PM

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.


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 06:38 PM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 08:04 PM

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

Anyome who does that isn't.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Folknacious
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 08:18 PM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 08:27 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Jun 11 - 08:33 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 01:37 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 03:35 AM

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


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

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.


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 04:02 AM

This is a Purist myth.???

Which?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 04:09 AM

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.


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 04:35 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 04:54 AM

...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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 05:10 AM

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.


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

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 05:56 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 05:57 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 06:15 AM

"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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 06:20 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 06:23 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 06:41 AM

'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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 07:05 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 07:12 AM

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


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 08:23 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Folknacious
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 08:52 AM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Folknacious
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 08:55 AM

musical boundaries do exist

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Silas
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 09:18 AM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 09:19 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 09:38 AM

"[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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 09:40 AM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 12:47 PM

..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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 12:47 PM

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!


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 01:05 PM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 01:13 PM

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


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 01:26 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 01:30 PM

It was funny though.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 01:36 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 02:07 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 02:07 PM

Ah, but what IS chicken Chow Mein?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 02:08 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 02:40 PM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 04:00 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: goatfell
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 04:26 PM

yes because most of them come on to this site


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 04:47 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 05:37 PM

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~


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 06:16 PM

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.


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

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 06:48 PM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 08:44 PM

"*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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 01:14 AM

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,


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 01:52 AM

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..!!!!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 03:25 AM

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


LOL!


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

Bugger purism!

M'Unlearned Friend used to DJ reggae???

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 03:52 AM

"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....


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 04:20 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 04:28 AM

"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"!


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

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.


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

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 05:09 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 06:11 AM

...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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Colin Randall
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 06:26 AM

... 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?"


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bert
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 06:42 AM

...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.


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

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.


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 09:18 AM

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.


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

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...


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

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..


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 10:05 AM

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.


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

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.


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

I liked the Meters too.

God yes:

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

But it's not reggae...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 10:21 AM

"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


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

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...


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

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 11:15 AM

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 :-) :-)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 11:18 AM

"Purist means pandering to your own nostalgia."

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 12:30 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 02:55 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 06:32 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 07:41 PM

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

Art


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 09:32 PM

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?


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

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....


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 03:48 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 04:12 AM

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.


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 04:39 AM

"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


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

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...


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 05:07 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 05:16 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 06:11 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 06:22 AM

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.


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

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 09:53 AM

"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.


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

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.


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

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 11:07 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 11:46 AM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 11:54 AM

"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
.


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

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!


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 03:34 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Jun 11 - 04:18 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 29 Jun 11 - 03:41 AM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 29 Jun 11 - 03:51 AM

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???


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 29 Jun 11 - 03:55 AM

...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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Jun 11 - 04:14 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 29 Jun 11 - 05:10 AM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 29 Jun 11 - 05:28 AM

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


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Jun 11 - 05:47 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 29 Jun 11 - 05:52 AM

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman
Date: 29 Jun 11 - 06:05 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 29 Jun 11 - 06:20 AM

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?).


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 29 Jun 11 - 07:47 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman
Date: 29 Jun 11 - 07:54 AM

It'll never catch on.


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

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?


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

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket
Date: 29 Jun 11 - 01:25 PM

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jun 11 - 01:40 PM

why not matty groves, but better still thomas the rhymer


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Jun 11 - 01:56 PM

[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.


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

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


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

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??


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 30 Jun 11 - 01:03 AM

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.


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

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman
Date: 30 Jun 11 - 09:22 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 30 Jun 11 - 11:38 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman
Date: 30 Jun 11 - 05:21 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Jun 11 - 06:48 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 01 Jul 11 - 12:13 AM

Richard Bridge suffers from irony deficiency.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 01 Jul 11 - 12:21 AM

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.


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

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Jul 11 - 06:49 AM

"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.


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

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!


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

PS

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 01 Jul 11 - 09:09 AM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 01 Jul 11 - 09:51 AM

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


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

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 01 Jul 11 - 11:45 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 01 Jul 11 - 01:02 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 Jul 11 - 01:14 PM

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

And no, folk music is not defined by style.


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

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: ripov
Date: 01 Jul 11 - 07:45 PM

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.


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

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 01 Jul 11 - 09:48 PM

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.


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

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: ripov
Date: 02 Jul 11 - 04:03 PM

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?


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

(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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: bluesunsets
Date: 02 Jul 11 - 10:53 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 03 Jul 11 - 05:04 AM

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.


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

(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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 03 Jul 11 - 12:51 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Jul 11 - 01:10 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 03 Jul 11 - 09:59 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 03:20 AM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 03:54 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 09:18 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 09:56 AM

"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.


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

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 12:26 PM

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.


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 01:30 PM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 01:56 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 02:45 PM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 03:05 PM

" 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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 04:40 PM

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"


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: JohnH
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 05:28 PM

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!)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 05:32 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 06:36 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: ripov
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 08:04 PM

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!).


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 04 Jul 11 - 08:41 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 02:17 AM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 04:45 AM

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?


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

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 05:07 AM

That's nice if you can achieve it.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 05:14 AM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 05:18 AM

'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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 05:40 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 06:17 AM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 06:18 AM

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.


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

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 09:18 AM

"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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 10:08 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 10:24 AM

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.


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

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 10:38 AM

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 01:29 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 01:33 PM

"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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 01:40 PM

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

Ah! my favourite sandwich!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 01:43 PM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 02:58 PM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 03:02 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 05:47 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 06:07 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 07:35 PM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 08:31 PM

'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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 11 - 11:58 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jul 11 - 02:28 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 Jul 11 - 04:37 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 Jul 11 - 05:10 AM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jul 11 - 07:28 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 06 Jul 11 - 07:06 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:01 AM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 04:16 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 06:15 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 07:34 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 07:36 AM

Stirling town, even. Folk process innit.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 07:51 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 08:02 AM

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 08:24 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 08:34 AM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 08:36 AM

er..... or should that be "neo-Steampunk"?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Colin Holt
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 09:29 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 09:40 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 09:50 AM

"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!)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 10:06 AM

"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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 10:30 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 11:28 AM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: goatfell
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 11:47 AM

yes they do you'll find them on this website


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 12:29 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 12:40 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 12:41 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 01:28 PM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 01:32 PM

"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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 01:46 PM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 02:38 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 02:55 PM

THank you GG - I really do wish I'd said that.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 02:58 PM

Sorry anonymous guest 4 above was me.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,colin Holt
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:03 PM

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 !!!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,colin holt
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:06 PM

(Guest) Banji man... Now I know its you,!!!! sorry

I agree totally with your comments above


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:08 PM

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........


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:09 PM

ooops, that was me again.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:11 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:19 PM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:20 PM

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 ..


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:23 PM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:24 PM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,colin holt
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:27 PM

Sorry the guest was me..

Banji man.. we must be on the same drink !!!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:35 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:39 PM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:40 PM

"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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,colin holt
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:43 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:52 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 03:52 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 04:00 PM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 04:06 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 04:27 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 04:31 PM

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 04:55 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 05:16 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 05:30 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 05:38 PM

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 05:43 PM

some of it is absolutely jawdroppingly brilliant and some of it is (shhh!) trite, throwaway crap...

I'll say!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 05:48 PM

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".


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 06:01 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 06:03 PM

Yes, Jon, that's it in a nutshell. Thank you for the clarification.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 06:05 PM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 06:08 PM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 06:12 PM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 06:14 PM

And still neither a definition nor a source of information I can go to - no change there then
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 06:22 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 06:26 PM

"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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 06:48 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 07:02 PM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 07:04 PM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: ripov
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 08:11 PM

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"?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 07 Jul 11 - 08:54 PM

Thank you ripov. Well said.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jul 11 - 03:14 AM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 08 Jul 11 - 03:15 AM

Above was me!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 08 Jul 11 - 03:31 AM

"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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 08 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Banjiman
Date: 08 Jul 11 - 04:07 AM

"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-


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jul 11 - 04:30 AM

"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-


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Banjiman
Date: 08 Jul 11 - 04:59 AM

Thanks Joe, sorted now!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 08 Jul 11 - 05:39 AM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 08 Jul 11 - 08:42 AM

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)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 08 Jul 11 - 09:24 AM

Thanks for the precis, Howard - I do go on at times.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 08 Jul 11 - 02:09 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie / fluids whatever
Date: 08 Jul 11 - 05:59 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: ripov
Date: 08 Jul 11 - 08:12 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 08 Jul 11 - 09:18 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 02:27 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 03:25 AM

"...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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 03:46 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 04:01 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 04:10 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 04:33 AM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 04:51 AM

"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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 05:10 AM

Mr Fluids has as usual no idea what he is talking about.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,mother macree anon purist
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 05:12 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 05:29 AM

'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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 05:35 AM

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).


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 05:52 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 06:27 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Folknacious
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 07:27 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 07:43 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones, who really must reset his cook
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 09:55 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 10:24 AM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 01:33 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 09 Jul 11 - 05:41 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 03:11 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 04:11 AM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 04:35 AM

"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


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

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 05:51 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 06:42 AM

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)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 07:04 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 07:21 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 07:27 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 08:07 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 09:31 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 10:46 AM

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~


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 11:28 AM

Have you all nae heard of Archie Plum?
Who did muckle talking through his bum....


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 12:30 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Continuity Jones
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 04:14 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 04:29 PM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: BTNG
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 04:30 PM

Do purists really exist?

like legends, only in their own minds


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 04:44 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 05:14 PM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 05:16 PM

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 10 Jul 11 - 06:34 PM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Brian
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 01:22 AM

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 02:25 AM

"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~


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 03:14 AM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 03:16 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 03:24 AM

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~


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 03:43 AM

It's story is told in first person Michael.
Your challenge could fairly be made aginst my mention of No Man's Land.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 03:46 AM

Although it does make the narrator a surviving veteran.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM

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~


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 04:06 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 04:16 AM

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.)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 04:41 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 04:41 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 04:50 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 05:02 AM

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" ?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 05:05 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 05:21 AM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 05:28 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 06:21 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 06:39 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 06:40 AM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 07:34 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 07:37 AM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 07:58 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 08:26 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 08:39 AM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 10:01 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 11:09 AM

Oh bugger - mow you've gone and brought religion into it as well. Time to reach for the tin hat :)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 11:10 AM

Anarchy is a form of conservatism of course.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 01:14 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 01:38 PM

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....


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 01:54 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Banjiman
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 02:25 PM

Now..... where were those purists again?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 03:24 PM

Dunno
Haven't found one yet
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 03:39 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 04:29 PM

I assume "jouaissance" is used as in the French original. Gosh how exciting.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 05:00 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 11 Jul 11 - 05:26 PM

. . . 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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 12 Jul 11 - 04:38 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 12 Jul 11 - 05:10 AM

"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 ..."?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jul 11 - 05:19 AM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 12 Jul 11 - 09:25 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 12 Jul 11 - 10:21 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 12 Jul 11 - 10:55 AM

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.)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass
Date: 12 Jul 11 - 11:09 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 12 Jul 11 - 11:26 AM

I hear what you're saying, livelylass. Maybe I should have posted this on the Steamfolk thread ;)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 12 Jul 11 - 11:27 AM

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..


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jul 11 - 03:01 PM

"Oh, it was very deliberate, Jim - make no mistake about that. "
Then perhaps you'd like to explain why it was done?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: BTNG
Date: 12 Jul 11 - 03:06 PM

"(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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass
Date: 12 Jul 11 - 03:26 PM

"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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 12 Jul 11 - 04:39 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman
Date: 12 Jul 11 - 05:27 PM

Re. Jon Boden's quote, I reckon the internet as a whole is a very mixed blessing.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 03:25 AM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 03:38 AM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 04:31 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 04:49 AM

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~


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 04:58 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 05:03 AM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 05:12 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 05:16 AM

"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?!...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 05:42 AM

You see Jim, he was irked by a common usage at an early age - no getting over that....

sounds bloody painful!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 05:46 AM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 05:48 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 05:56 AM

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~


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 06:00 AM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 07:49 AM

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,raymond greenoaken
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 07:51 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 08:42 AM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 10:05 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 12:15 PM

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"?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 01:05 PM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 01:29 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 01:40 PM

Perhaps purists don't really exist.

Perhaps they are a fiendishly clever hologram.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 01:45 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 06:34 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 06:38 PM

"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..


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 06:52 PM

"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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 06:56 PM

'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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 07:08 PM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 07:10 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 13 Jul 11 - 07:29 PM

Stick around, you will get it!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 03:19 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 03:40 AM

"... 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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 03:46 AM

If only they'd stay in the graveyards, leave the arts centres and folk clubs and BBC2 for sentient human beings.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 04:26 AM

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..


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Will Fly
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 04:33 AM

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 04:37 AM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 04:41 AM

"Or music in the Tradition of Tired Acoustic Covers of Sixties Pop/Rock,"

Titter..


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 05:52 AM

'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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 06:34 AM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 07:25 AM

'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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 07:56 AM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 08:11 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 08:19 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 08:41 AM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 09:44 AM

"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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 09:48 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 10:44 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 11:39 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 12:35 PM

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...)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 12:41 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 01:18 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 01:52 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 02:27 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 02:29 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 04:03 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 05:26 PM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 05:35 PM

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.)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 05:49 PM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 06:08 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 06:22 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 06:27 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 06:48 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 06:50 PM

PS "And no bloody Comus either! Sick, I call it. Bloody hippies, I don't know."


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 07:00 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 08:47 PM

As we used to say in the studio, and still do, "You can ALWAYS tell a 'purist'..they're ALWAYS out of tune!"

GfS


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 01:07 AM

"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~


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 03:29 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 03:57 AM

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 04:12 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 04:50 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 05:29 AM

"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!).


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 05:42 AM

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 05:59 AM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 06:06 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 06:17 AM

"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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 06:18 AM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Banjiman
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 07:55 AM

What is it with you strange old folky guys with your cradle snatched wives?????

Envious .......moi?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 08:18 AM

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: theleveller
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 08:22 AM

Hey! Who are you calling folky?

Anyway - what have you go to be envious about?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 08:52 AM

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.)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 09:39 AM

"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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 09:43 AM

Mmm, looks like I don't know how last.fm actually works - artists linked to not correct.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 10:20 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 01:05 PM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 03:13 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: glueman
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 03:29 PM

"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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: John P
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 04:39 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 11:23 PM

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.'


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 16 Jul 11 - 05:13 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 16 Jul 11 - 05:19 AM

folk chooses you.

You've got right.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 16 Jul 11 - 05:27 AM

(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.)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: TheSnail
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 05:57 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 06:14 AM

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


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,folkiedave
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 06:25 AM

Macrame using cat hair was a workshop at Blitherscrum one year!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 06:49 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 07:45 AM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 08:37 AM

... 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~


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: TheSnail
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 09:14 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 12:54 PM

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 01:23 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 02:01 PM

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~


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 02:03 PM

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!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 06:19 PM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 06:19 PM

... & 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????

{;~)


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 06:22 PM

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?


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 18 Jul 11 - 07:38 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Jul 11 - 10:11 AM

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...


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 18 Jul 11 - 10:43 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Will Fly
Date: 18 Jul 11 - 11:00 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Musket
Date: 18 Jul 11 - 03:03 PM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,livelylass
Date: 18 Jul 11 - 03:51 PM

"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..


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 09:44 PM

Good job we settled that problem!


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 06:04 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Richard Spencer
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 09:16 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 10 Dec 18 - 02:08 AM

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.


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Subject: RE: Do purists really exist?
From: leeneia
Date: 12 Dec 18 - 02:15 AM

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.


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