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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Michael S Does any other music require a committee (152* d) RE: Does any other music require a committee 16 Apr 09


I have neither posted to nor read the recent 1954 thread. If I'm repeating stuff hashed out there, I'm sorry. I like the fact that these definitional debates (and that's what this is) go on and on, because I think that serves to remind us of first principles. I usually avoid them, however, precisely because they go on and on. The 1954 discussion is now just shy of 1000 posts.

The problem here is that glueman seems (to me) to assume that the 1954 definition attempted to describe some particular sort of sound. Should a committee do that, he asks, or should folk music be "shaped by the people?" That's not what the '54 definition attempted to do. Instead, as others have pointed out in other threads, it attempted to define a process and it characterized as "folk music" any music that arose as a result of that process.

The definition can (but doesn't necessarily always) fit music that we characterize as blues, or polka, or conjunto, or other things unknown to me that arise out of, for example, African cultures, or eastern European cultures. What's important, however, is that the proponents of the '54 definition were interested in the fruits of that process, no matter what they sounded like. It's not a definition of some stylistic genre, and no one was trying to contain, or even describe, a style. The definers were interested in certain group processes, as they related to music.

Of course, we know the phrase "folk music" was caught up in popular culture and, for many people, it has come to mean a certain sound. That doesn't bother me and we can (and do) argue about what that sound is. I know of no committee that's sought to define it. (Well, maybe the people who award "folk" grammys.) For historical reasons, both the process and the "contemporary folk sound" (god help me) have gotten bound together, but they really are different.

-Cheers,
-Michael Scully


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