"If we don't make a good job of them they will die and we will be unable to pass them on to the next generation"
I'm not going to plead ignorance anymore, as I guess I am to some degree (much as I find it difficult to claim 'youth' in my thirties!) the 'next generation', being probably a generation or even two behind the bulk of posters here....
On a thread not so long ago, I've seen you Jim C. condemning a series of submitted musical links to widely varying interpretations of traditional songs, as *all* akin to utterly crappy 'pop' music. I have to confess that my jaw dropped at some of your words there!
If the younger generation are to be bequeathed these songs so that they may truly survive, then IMO there must be broad allowances for the creative inventiveness of the young - for indeed the 'tradition is dead' as you say, so perhaps in its stead, may there be allowed for a New Tradition (Aye, even in the words of the infamous Lizzie Cornish!).
Fortunately IMO, there does indeed appear to be a fresh burst of green life in the old tree yet. Lots of viril young twenty sumthings are picking up drum, fiddle and exploring strange auld ballads for their work..
If that's crappy pop, then I look forward to the future arrival of: "Now That's What I Call Traditional Song Top Ten!"
About Trad Song, I keep hearing of the prime importance of communicating STORY, and if this is so, then of paramount importance is the succesfully communicating that story to an audience who wil both give a shit about the story you are telling and actually be able to aesthetically respond to the medium of communication. If it is true that the most important thing in trad song is the communication of story, then while the stories may remain the same, the delivery of them may IMO quite legitimately evolve to suit the audience.
In this respect, the 'tradition' IMO might be well served following the flexiblitly of drama, which despite the continuity of interest in more 'traditional' renderings of plays, has never been stifling of new thought or remained static. In fact the opposite is true, inventiveness of production play massive importance to the full and successful *communication* of various interpretations of the same ancient story to each new audience.