Are the lovers of Traditional music in effect curators in a museum of music, where the value of the items on display is not so much intrinsic as it is derivative of their age? Sometimes I think that the kitsch of a distant era, the items that were considered common and cute in their time, have been sanctified by the passing years to a point where we are like to consider them great art. Does the oil lamp, thrown out by a Roman housewife because of the tacky dragon design on its back, somehow attain more value by virtue of its antiquity than a new and fuctional one purchased at Sears?
I have a fondness for history and archaeology, and am predisposed to have an affection for traditional song-forms for many of the same reasons. The Anasazi pot sherd, like Childe's Robin Hood , offers to me a snapshot of a people, a way of life, a worldview that is long gone, yet still reverborates in strange harmony with my own. And perhaps this is the essence of the value of Traditional music forms- the living connection with the past. If so, I feel that it will continue to thrive as long as human curiosity and imagination continue.
In the end, the museum analogy is not so objectionable. The key is in seeing these relics not as objects, but as vital keys to the understanding of the eternal human experience, and placing these keys in the hands of the uninitiated, the young. They are the ones who will carry these living pieces of the past into the future.