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Dylan's use of Trad music?

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GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird) 11 May 00 - 03:06 PM
TheOldMole 11 May 00 - 03:11 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 11 May 00 - 03:18 PM
Midchuck 11 May 00 - 03:25 PM
Whistle Stop 11 May 00 - 03:32 PM
Midchuck 11 May 00 - 03:33 PM
Amergin 11 May 00 - 03:37 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 11 May 00 - 03:40 PM
Midchuck 11 May 00 - 03:40 PM
Whistle Stop 11 May 00 - 03:40 PM
Whistle Stop 11 May 00 - 03:42 PM
Amergin 11 May 00 - 03:43 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 11 May 00 - 03:46 PM
Mike Regenstreif 11 May 00 - 03:53 PM
Songster Bob 11 May 00 - 04:36 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 11 May 00 - 04:55 PM
Midchuck 11 May 00 - 05:05 PM
Sandy Paton 11 May 00 - 05:08 PM
Peter T. 11 May 00 - 05:24 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 11 May 00 - 05:33 PM
Mike Regenstreif 11 May 00 - 05:53 PM
MAG (inactive) 11 May 00 - 05:55 PM
raredance 11 May 00 - 10:43 PM
richardw 11 May 00 - 10:50 PM
Sandy Paton 11 May 00 - 11:00 PM
catspaw49 11 May 00 - 11:13 PM
GUEST,Okiemockbird 11 May 00 - 11:40 PM
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Subject: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,T in Oklahoma (Okiemockbird)
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:06 PM

According to the "borrowing" entry of the Folkie's Dictionary Bob Dylan has based some of his work on traditional tunes.

Is there anyone on-list who knows the Dylan songs in question, and who can verify or qualify the information of the Folkie's Dictionary ? I hardly know any Dylan songs.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: TheOldMole
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:11 PM

"Leaving of Liverpool" became Dylan's ...what did he call it? "It's not the leavin' that's a grievin' me..."

"Joe Hill" became "I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine"


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:18 PM

According to the dictionary entry (will that blue clicky come through as intended ? ) "Leaving of Liverpool" became "Fare thee Well Gulf of Mexico".

Have you heard both songs ? Would you say the relationship was (1) obvious; (2) something only a musicologist could detect; (3) nonexistent; or (4) other ?

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Midchuck
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:25 PM

(1)

It isn't true, however, that Dylan pirated all his melodies from folk songs.

He pirated a number of them from commercial country songs.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:32 PM

"Lord Franklin" became "Bob Dylan's Dream," on The Freewheeling Bob Dylan (his second album). He also borrowed the tunes for "Song For Woody" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right," but I can't recall from where.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Midchuck
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:33 PM

DTTIAR was formerly a country song called "Understand Your Man," which I don't recall who wrote, but I know Johnny Cash, for one, recorded.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Amergin
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:37 PM

I think he also borrowed Patriot Game for one or so of his songs possibly (but am not sure) Spanish Boots.

Amergin


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:40 PM

Midchuck, thanks for the feedback.

I don't consider it infringement, or so-called "piracy" to copy from the public domain. The P.D. is meant to be copied, after all.

If a songwriter adapts a p.d. melody and then tries, in intention or in effect, to enforce copyright in the underlying melody (not just in the copyrightable adaptations, if any) -- that practice strikes me as ironic.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Midchuck
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:40 PM

No. With God On Our Side. I'd forgotten that one, one of the most blatant.

P.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:40 PM

Amergin, "Patriot Game" became "With God On Our Side". Thanks for the reminder.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:42 PM

Another simultaneous answer -- we're all getting good at this, aren't we?


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Amergin
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:43 PM

Ok, thanks, couldn't remember.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:46 PM

Here are some of the derivations listed in the above-linked dictionary entry:

Bob Dylan's Dream - Lady Franklin's Lament
Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall - Lord Randall
Masters of War - Nottamun Town
Fare Thee Well (Gulf of Mexico) - Leaving of Liverpool
Ballad of Hollis Brown - Poor Man
Farewell, Angelina - Farewell to Tarwathie*
I Pity the Poor Immigrant - Tramps and Hawkers

I'm hoping that there are Mudcatters who have heard both melodies of each pair, and can evaluate the extent of borrowing, as Midchuck did.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 11 May 00 - 03:53 PM

Dylan's use of traditional melodies for new songs has long been part of the folk tradition. Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams and lots of others were doing it long before Dylan. Tom Paxton, Richard Farina, Tom Russell and lots of others have done it since.

Pete Seeger quotes Woody Guthrie's comments about another songwriter: "He stole that from me, but I steal from everybody."

In an earlier message, Whistle Stop mentioned Dylan's "Song To Woody," but wasn't sure where Dylan took that melody from. It was Woody's "1913 Massacre."

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Songster Bob
Date: 11 May 00 - 04:36 PM

"Don't Think Twice" is actually not so close to "Stand By Your Man," as it is to a Paul Clayton song called (I think) "Who's Gonna Buy You Ribbons When I'm Gone?" I think Clayton rewrote an obscure country/folk song and Dylan swiped from him. Edd Trickett sings the Clayton song on his latest CD.

Others of many folk-song connections with Dylan (some duplicates from above may occur, I'm not going back to make sure):

Hard Rain's Gonna Fall = Jimmy Randall (Lord Randall) Girl of the North Country = Cambric Shirt Song To Woody = 1913 Massacre (Guthrie) Masters Of War = Nottamun Town (Jean Ritchie) To Ramona = Soldier's Last letter (40s country song?) It Ain't Me Babe = Stand By Your Man (?)(Aha!)

I went to a good discography site

(http://www.discographynet.com/dylan/dylan.html)

And looked at all the titles, but, not being interested in Dylan when most of his records were released, can't mentally hum very many of the tunes, so can't say if this is all, but I'd guess not by a long shot.

Bob Clayton


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 11 May 00 - 04:55 PM

Here's a web site I found that examines some of these connections in detail.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Midchuck
Date: 11 May 00 - 05:05 PM

Okiemockbird said:

"I don't consider it infringement, or so-called "piracy" to copy from the public domain. The P.D. is meant to be copied, after all.

If a songwriter adapts a p.d. melody and then tries, in intention or in effect, to enforce copyright in the underlying melody (not just in the copyrightable adaptations, if any) -- that practice strikes me as ironic."

When you write a song with a traditional melody and new lyrics by yourself (which in itself is fine with me, done it my own self), and record it, the honest thing to do (IMO) is put the credits on the record as: "Lyrics: (You); Melody: Trad: (orig. title)>" I don't recall Mr. Zimmerman ever doing so.

Maybe I missed something.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 11 May 00 - 05:08 PM

Frankly, I think his use of traditional tunes without giving credit to his sources (folks like Jean Ritchie for "Nottamun Town" for example) was atrocious.

Sandy (still grumpy after all these years, but then, I'm an admitted old folk fogey)


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Peter T.
Date: 11 May 00 - 05:24 PM

It was Dave van Ronk who, on a recent album, referred to Dylan as the Ogden Nash of our time. A little retribution for indignities suffered.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 11 May 00 - 05:33 PM

Midchuck, I suspect we agree for the most part. Your use of the word "piracy" suggested a copyright law context: "piracy" usually means copyright infringement (I think it's a terrible word. Piracy strictly so-called is an atrocious crime. Copyright infringement is simply a violation of an arbitrary regulatory scheme, like moonshining.) I was merely pointing out that, if there is no copyright, there is no infringement.

The question of giving credit is not always clear-cut. At least in cases where there is no chance of confusion (George M. Cohan's use of "Auld Lang Syne" in "You're a Grand Old Flag") I don't see any need for explicit citation. But I prefer, as you and Sandy do, to document my sources clearly. (One gripe I have against the copyright office is that the registration forms don't allow room to do this properly--would it be so hard for them to allow us to attach a single extra page showing the p.d. version of the melody ?--"here's the trad. tune, here are my changes"--their paperwork wouldn't increase by much, and the extent of the copyright claims would be much clearer. End of gripe.)

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 11 May 00 - 05:53 PM

Sandy,

Not that I think Dylan needs me to defend him, but...

If you're going to chastise Dylan for using traditional melodies without attribution, you have to do the same to Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Utah Phillips, Lead Belly, Brownie McGhee, and many, many others.

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: MAG (inactive)
Date: 11 May 00 - 05:55 PM

One Dylan biography discussed Dylan's recording of Van Ronks version of "House of the Rising Sun" sans permission, so everybody thinks it's Dylan's arrangement. Van Ronk later said he owed Bobby so much he didn't hold it agin him. So it's interesting to read the above Ogden Nash comment. Can I assume it refers to Ogden Nash as a famous curmudgeon?


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: raredance
Date: 11 May 00 - 10:43 PM

"Blowin' In the Wind" is heavily borrowed from "No More Auction Block". There is an early recording of Dylan doing No More Auction Block where the connection is pretty clear.

rich r


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: richardw
Date: 11 May 00 - 10:50 PM

Sandy has the gist of it--not giving credit to his sources.

We have just completed a recording project using 1860s music. Much of it was written in the BC goldfields using traditional tunes. But, the authors always said, Air: Green Grow the Rashes Oh; or Tune: The Mousetrap Man.

Dylan's mistake was in never giving credit. But then neither did the folks who wrote the MTA Song,(sung by the Kingston Trio) which is a copy in tune, theme and many words of The Ship that Never returned, written between 1850 and 80.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 11 May 00 - 11:00 PM

When Pete used Jim Waters' tune for the "Great Silkie" for his setting of the poem "I Come and Stand at Every Door," he thought he was using a traditional tune. The moment he learned it was written by Waters, he made a point of informing Columbia and others. Dylan, for all his creative contributions, did claim Words and Music by Bob Dylan on many songs when only the words were his. To me, there is a difference. Guthrie may have been naive in his use of some Carter Family tunes, but often the tunes had not actually originated with the Carter Family either ("Oh, My Loving Fathers," for example, which was the basic tune for "This Land is Your Land"). I don't know the Paxton examples you refer to; Utah Phillips, when we talked with him years ago, was not copyrighting his song material, as he didn't believe in "owning" it (more of a political action than a theft, if the tune was borrowed). Leadbelly was, perhaps, innocently (?) led by example into allowing sophisticated publishers to copyright much of what he sang. Clearly, he claimed authorship of material he didn't actually create, but John A. Lomax, his mentor, was claiming ownership of a lot of traditional material at the same time.

I'll admit it's a can of worms, and I generally try to avoid these discussions, but there was something deliberately deceptive about Dylan's claims of "words and music" on all those early songs (the ones that formed the basis of his storied reputation) that offended my sense of propriety. Still does. How costly would it have been to simply say "tune: traditional; new words by Bob Dylan?"

Sandy


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: catspaw49
Date: 11 May 00 - 11:13 PM

I get your point Sandy and I agree. There are a ton of stories floating around about Dylan's "drive" to make it big. Plus, its really common to hear someone or another tell of hearing Bob do one for them and immediately recognizing it. Most of this is pretty standard fare in folk, but your point regarding his lack of credit and taking all credit is quite true. I think Bob wrote some great words, sorry he didn't give some credit to the original tune, wherever it cam from.....which reminds me.........

We ran a thread awhile back on "Lay Down Your Weary Tune"....a song I really like and everybody (including me) believed it came from a hymn.......Know anything on this one? Sandy? Mike? Anybody?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 11 May 00 - 11:40 PM

Well, I went and bought a Dylan CD (it was on sale) and the sleeve notes and credits are just as they were in 1963. If you read carefully you will discover that "Bob Dylan's Dream", "Honey, Just Allow me One More Chance", and "Corrina, Coririna" aren't fully original in both words and/or music, but there's nothing in the notes to "Girl from the North Country" or "Masters of War" to indicate Dylan's sources. One must discover those sources for oneself.

I find annoying his affected vocal style and his rhythmic imprecision. He seems good at writing, or in some cases re-writing words, though, and when he works from what I know, or suspect, is a traditional tune, he picks a good one.

The tune to "Masters of War" is certainly "Nottamun Town". It seems very close to what I remember of the Ritchie version, and it's also very close to "Fair Nottiman Town", the version that appeared in Wyman and Brockway's Twenty Kentucky Mountain Songs, Oliver Ditson, Boston, 1920, pp. 6-9, which I quote here. In W&B it was set in D-sharp minor. I've put it formally in D-dorian, but since the air is pentatonic (D, F, G, A, C) it can be harmonized in D-minor (with B-flat) also.

X: 1
T: Fair Nottiman Town
C: Kentucky Traditional. Wyman and Brockway, Twenty Kentucky Mountain Songs, Boston, Oliver Ditson, 1920.
M: 3/8
K: C
L: 1/8
z2 D | F2 D | F2 G | A c c | A2 G | (A c) c |
d2 c/A/ | dc c | A2 G | A G A | c A G |
F D D | F2 G | A G A | c A G | F C C | D3 ||

Thanks, everyone, for the thoughts & comments.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 12 May 00 - 12:02 AM

Sandy,

There are other Pete Seeger songs that borrow melodies from traditional songs and are credited as Seeger compositions. "Quite Early Morning," which takes its tune from "Lonesome Valley," comes to mind.

One of Tom Paxton's uses of a traditional melody that comes to mind is "Katy," which uses the tune from "The Rites of Man."

The period when Utah Phillips was not copyrighting his songs was fairly brief. He changed his mind when he realized that record companies, etc. would just be keeping the songwriting royalty money for themselves. For example, Emmylou Harris' recording of "Green Rolling Hills" at the the height of her commercial popularity would have generated thousands of dollars in income.

Like you, I generally avoid these discussions as well. But I decided to jump in because one person in particular is being taken to task for doing something that was a common practice in folk music long before he did it.

BTW, one of the most gorgeous songs of the last couple of years is "Cut By Wire," co-written by John Gorka and Geoff Bartley. John hasn't released his version yet, but it's on a Geoff Bartley album and also on Mary Black's new album. Its tune is from "Bob Dylan's Dream," I mean "Lady Franklin's Lament."

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 May 00 - 12:03 AM

Thanks my ass T!!!! We all agreed and knew about that one......What about "Lay Down Your Weary Tune?" C'mon now, somebody must have an idea here. Let's not leave it here. I mean like..... Where's the love for the Spaw?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Whistle Stop
Date: 12 May 00 - 08:36 AM

Thanks, folks, for remidning me that "Song to Woody" is sung to the tune of Woody's "1913 Massacre". Which was probably sung to a tune borrowed from somewhere else, since Woody was as prone to this as Dylan.

I have a great deal of admiration for Bob Dylan, and think the harsh criticism of him for borrowing melodies is unjust. What he has done is common in this genre, and his failure to fully identify the sources of all his melodies is also quite common. Some of them he may have known consciously, some he probably adapted unconsciously, but he probably thought it was no big deal in either event. Frankly, a lot of folk melodies resemble one another closely, whether or not they are identical in all respects. I have seen no evidence that Dylan has tried to assume ownership of the melodies he borrowed and prevent others from using them. That would be unethical, but simply adopting/adapting melodies that were already blowing in the folk winds is not, in my opinion. [Similarly, as far as I'm concerned Van Ronk's arrangement of "House of the Rising Sun" was not so unique and individual that it warranted direct attribution.]

As for Spaw's veiled criticism of Dylan's "'drive' to make it big," I find nothing wrong with that whatsoever. Most of us try to succeed in our chosen careers; more power to Bob for succeeding in his.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 12 May 00 - 08:50 AM

Spaw,

As I sit here at the computer, I just started to sing "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" off the top of my head. In hearing myself sing (something I would not want to inflict on you), it occurs to me that it was probably based on "The Water Is Wide."

Mike Regenstreif


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 12 May 00 - 09:10 AM

Sheesh, 'Spaw, maybe everyone else "knew" about that one, but I never heard "Masters of War" until last night. I posted the Lyman & Brockway version of "Fair Nottiman Town" because I thought some might appreciate seeing another variant of that melody.

Whistle-Stop, I don't think many of us, if any at all, are finding fault with Dylan for using and adapting old tunes. As I mentioned earlier, I think that is what those old tune are for: the public domain exists to be copied. But someone who copies an old tune doesn't take anything from himself by being up front about where he got the melody. Instead he gives to all of us a gift of his new version, a gift of respect (since he doesn't seem to be trying to mislead) and, to those who didn't know the old tune, a gift of knowledge about our common musical inheritance.

I get the impression from Oscar Brand's book The Ballad Mongers that there was a period when performers were pressured into claiming full authorship of traditional material, in order to provide an additional layer of legal defence for the broadcasters and others. Brand Wrote:

"If I were to sing 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' on a program, the 'music clearance' department would insist on knowning the name of some book or publisher who would be willing to claim authorship."

I find "musical borrowing" a fascinating area of study.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Barbara
Date: 12 May 00 - 10:08 AM

Back in the 60s I was a big Bob Dylan fan. Later on, when my knowledge of folk broadened, I was shocked to find the earlier versions of songs I thought Dylan had written. I think Patriot Game was the one I found first, and then Leaving of Liverpool.
What troubled me was not just lifting of the tune (lotsa folks do that) but at the same time the lifting of the structure and message of the words, changing only a few (and often ineptly). And I suspect that the tune only changed where Dylan lacked the skill to sing the original.

Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 12 May 00 - 10:22 AM

Barbara, did it trouble you that Dylan re-wrote traditional words at all ? Or that he didn't acknowledge his sources ?

For myself, I think Dylan is to be commended for building on the tradition (even if I don't always like the results), whether it was traditional words, music, or both that he used. But like others in this thread, I have mixed feelings about artists' stealth-development of the tradition. If I build on traditional words and tunes and my music is confined to a small circle where everyone recognizes my borrowings without being told, then citing my sources may not be necessary. But it's hard to keep music "confined". So in cases where I knowingly use old stuff I try to be clear about it. At least, I think I try to.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Steve Latimer
Date: 12 May 00 - 10:45 AM

I have seen many Dylan songs listed as either Bob Dylan/Tradtional or Bob Dylan and the original author if he changed lyrics.

What about blues? I mean how many variations are there on 12 Bar? Very few, should they all be listed as Taj Mahal or Johnny Winter or Stevie Ray Vaughan etc./traditional? I don't think so.

Borrowing traditional melodies is part of the folk process.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Grandma Marshall
Date: 12 May 00 - 11:11 AM

We OLDER folkies was there when Dylan began his life as a performer and his adoration of Woody G. encompassed visiting Woody as he lay dying of Huntingdon's disease. Before he went commercial, Dylan was a folkie. It's sometimes impossible to separate what is in your head as an original tune if you are an active singer/player of music. I hear popular songs (commercial) that are absolute copies (not just a few bars) of Hymns I knew as a child. The important question though is, can an original tune that you create USE another tunes 8 bars legally or is it infringment? That was the old idea: use 8 bars to open your song with, but make sure you don't BORROW anymore! How about this idea: make a song that uses only 8 bars of a number of songs and call it your! Any one going to try this one?


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 12 May 00 - 11:40 AM

Grandma M, (may I call you "Babushka" ?) in the days before musical copyright musicians gleefully rummaged around in each others' work for musical ideas. Nowadays we can still rummage all we like after the copyrights expire. I think this would strike a reasonable balance if the term of copyright in pre-1978 published works weren't set to a ridiculously over-long 95 years.

I'm not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice, just private opinion: From what I've been able to discover, there is no "8-bar rule". Almost any copying of what is "original" might be actionable (though in some circumstances, hard to predict beforehand, it might be defensible as "fair use"). This of course, simply raises the question of what is "original". In one legal case, George Harrison was found liable for infringement because of his use of two simple musical motives in "My Sweet Lord". As I read, it wasn't the motives themselves that infringed, but his repeating them a certain number of times in a certain order which was held to infringe on a nearly identical set of repetitions in an older song, "He's So Fine". Maybe the offending passage was more than 8 bars, but the length of a bar is fairly arbitrary anyhow.

What's more, Harrison was found to have infringed unconsciously. So if you have lots of music running around in your head which you draw on, make sure it's public domain music! If it's copyrighted music, make sure you draw only on its uncopyrightable features.

Can you name some of the commercial songs you have heard that are "absolute copies" of hymns? Other than Paul Simon's "American Tune", I mean, (that is the name of the Simon tune in question, isn't it ?) which draws on Han Leo Hassler's "Herzlich tut mich verlanen" as modified by J.S. Bach. And there are the songs from the musical "Godspell" that use old words, though not old tunes: "We plow the fields and scatter", "Day by Day", "Turn back O Man", and "When wilt thou save the people." Those I know about, but if you know of others, I'd be interested in learning of them.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 12 May 00 - 11:54 AM

Sandy,

I don't think I ever mentioned that I used Gordon Bok's traditional P.D. (I hope) tune from "Johnny Todd" when I wrote "That's The Ticket". To me, it was so obvious I had done that that I never got around to mentioning it in the notes to our LP. As an old highschool teacher used to tell me, "Thieme, you're just a slovenly gump." Well, I never did attend much to details. But I suspect that if my lrics had made a large amount of cash for me instead of the zero, zilch, nada amount it has generated, I suspect my name would be in a thread similar to this one. As it stands, I never did protect the song. Just didn't bother. It was, "too much monkey business for me to be involved in." -- to borrow a line from Chuck Berry.

Art


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: zander (inactive)
Date: 12 May 00 - 12:01 PM

When Bob Dylan first came to London he met Martin Carthy who taught Dylan a lot of song which Dylan used as his own , as did Paul Simon. regards ,Dave


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 12 May 00 - 12:04 PM

Maybe I should clarify that I didn't start the thread in order to criticize Dylan for his musical borrowing or his laxness in identifying his sources. I just wanted some help verifying the source-identifications I found on another web site. I'm glad the thread has evolved into a discussion the practicalities and etiquette of musical borrowing, but it wasn't the founding motivation.

A good bibliography of scholarly studies of musical borrowing is here. There's no mention of Dylan (or much of any 20th-century popular music) but you still get some fascinating citations if you type "folk" or "contrafactum" (or "contrafacta") in their site-search engine.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Okiemockbird
Date: 12 May 00 - 12:56 PM

According to this, Jean Ritchie has collected royalties from Bob Dylan for "Nottamun Town", even though, as I read, her copyright only applies to the additional lyrics that she wrote.

I suspect bonnie Jean is overreaching in her claims.

T.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 12 May 00 - 01:31 PM

Steve Latimer writes: "Borrowing traditional melodies is part of the folk process." Perhaps, when folk music was something passed along by oral/aural transmission and sung on back porches instead of on stages, folks felt free to dip into the melodic stream that flowed around them. that was "borrowing." Taking a tune that is the property of all of the inheritors of the tradition (us), and then claiming ownership by copyright, is NOT part of the folk process. When "art" becomes "commodity," the process is something else entirely and invites exploitation.

I knew I should have avoided this thread!

Sandy (folk fogey)


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson
Date: 12 May 00 - 02:21 PM

The first person IIRC who took out copyrights on traditional folksongs was John Lomax. To this day I can still remember hearing Michael Cooney playing and singing Fannin Street with twelve-string guitar and sounding anAWFUL lot like Leadbelly and doing a verse which Leadbelly never would have done: If anybody asks you Who composed this song
Tell 'em it was Huddie Ledbetter, he has been here and gone
If anybody asks you Who copyrighted this one
Tell em it was Mr. John A Lomax and his Goddam son


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 12 May 00 - 03:15 PM

Th only thing--apart from the fact that I never cared for Dylan--is that on every Dylan song you'll see a copyright on words and music. Someone pointed out once that Dylan draws on trditional folkmusic the way that small boys draw on bathroom walls.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 May 00 - 03:40 PM

That's a great line Dick...and I like Dylan, but its true....and I'm sorry T, that wasn't how I meant it. My apologies.

The thing is that for whatever reason, probably money, he failed to give credit where due and claimed things not rightfully his. I'd say he was probably the "watershed" there too, since before, eventhough it was done, it was more part of the natural/oral/aural process that Sandy so well describes. He saw Woody do it, but Dylan took it to a new level.

But we're busting his chops on a few issues that aren't really true to me. If you use a trad tune for instance, then the flow and pattern of the words are apt to be similar to the original. Also, the updating of a tale is not unknown and falls in with a normal process. What is tough to deny is that Dylan is one helluva wordsmith, and although he stole and pirated the base for "Bob Dylan's Dream," the song really speaks strongly to many of us from the 60's as we age.

Whatever his original motives and desires were, its obvious after he got to New York that at one point, fame and bucks started to grow into his motives to a much larger degree.

NOW----WHO KNOWS SOMETHING ABOUT THE ROOTS (if any) OF "LAY DOWN YOUR WEARY TUNE?"......Spaw asked again.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Mike Regenstreif
Date: 12 May 00 - 03:46 PM

Spaw,

Scroll up to my message of 8:50 this morning.

MR


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 May 00 - 04:18 PM

Well damn Mike...I am sorry. I started where I thought I'd left off before and was actually two posts down from that. Give me the Incredible Dumbass Award. Sorry Mike. Just missed it completely.

Water is Wide is a good possibility I think. If I play with it a little I see how it can work. I'm going to go look for our old thread and throw your idea into it later. Thanks.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Grandma Marshall
Date: 16 May 00 - 07:28 PM

Try some of these traditional tunes on for size (and copied many times into hit songs for certain singers). The Twelveth of Never (Presely) original: The Riddle Song Ain't Gonna Make Was No More--Down by the Riverside just to name a couple. Every composer BORROWS a little now and then. I prefer to steal ancient fiddle tunes of a Celtic nature, slow them down A LOT, find the main tune, maybe change tempo to a waltz and BINGO, I have an original tune---even write lyrics to 'em. I write tunes to old poems. Take a listen to my song called THE SUGARPLUM TREE (words by H.W.Longfellow) tune by me and now it's a lullaby that all my grandchildren know by heart! http://www.geocities.com/ohioweaver.geo


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: Jeri
Date: 16 May 00 - 07:56 PM

Personally, if I borrowed a traditional tune, or parts of it, I could not NOT credit the source. I would feel I were stealing/plagerizing. When I write a tune, I frequently worry that it started life outside my head. The bottom line for me is if I say I wrote it, I better damned well have written it or I'm a liar at the very least.


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Subject: RE: Dylan's use of Trad music?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 May 00 - 09:04 PM

John o'Dreams by Bill Caddick uses a tune from Tchaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony. I imagine that's Public Domain now, even in America.

I never ask where a tune comes from when I'm writing a song - it just floats to the surface. Likely as not, some time later I'll decide it's pretty well the same as the tune of some song I've heard. Then I tell someone else that, and they likely tell me "No, it's not", because I'm not that accurate at remembering tunes I've heard.

Songs are there to be used to make new songs. It's not stealing, because the old songs are still there.


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