The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #18581   Message #187132
Posted By: Bill D
29-Feb-00 - 08:55 PM
Thread Name: BS: What isn't Folk?
Subject: RE: BS: What isn't Folk?
if we made a list of all the songs in the Digitrad database and all the songs in all the books we all have on our shelves or on records & tapes ..and got all the people who claim to CARE about folk/traditional music to look at all of them and hum them and study the lyrics......and THEN asked for a vote for each...*FOLK* or *NOT-FOLK*....we would get some songs that got about 100%, and others that got 27% or even 2%...

now, it seems to me that if a song only got 3% *FOLK* votes, it loses...and if it got 100%, (you "Barbry Allen")..then it wins..but what DO we say about the 50-50 songs?...well, the only answer is that they dont satisfy every one's definiton. Obviously, SOME songs are clearly 'folk/trad'...and some are clearly NOT.

So..we take all the songs that get a VERY high *FOLK* rating (remember..the rating is being done by a VERY large # of people...the Delphic technique) and analyze what those songs that we AGREE on have in common. Then we look at the songs that get only a 40-50% rating and look at what makes them different. What we WILL find is that certain characteristics keep popping up.."no known author", "written with no particular monetary gain in mind".."having generally simpler rhythm and musical patterns" (well...maybe)..."having subject matters relevant to the common people".."being generally older and withstood the test of time"......this list would simply emerge from the analysis, NOT from any one person's attitude or prejudice.

I claim that there would arise a list of...oh, 12 to 25 or so 'characteristics' or 'tendencies' that could then be used as a guide. And, sure, there would be songs(or versions) that would STILL fall in the middle!. If a song has 8 of 16 factors, it simply gets called 'sort of folky'. Can we still argue? Sure.."well, I think he DID write it just to sing on the front porch, and then his buddy grabbed it and took it to Nashville"....but at least we do much less bickering about the LIST of criteria!..(other fields.."Antique Cars" "Dog Breeds" "Thai Cooking" have general rules...they NEED them!)

What is my point? It is this: NO ONE gets to say "Well, to ME folk music is anything that_________" CANNOT have a system like that, or there is no system. What one person CAN do is say.."I like this music..and I will sing it"....and that is fine, especially if they UNDERSTAND what they are liking!. Then they can do a better job of presenting music to others. As I have said MANY times before, the value of having some sort of criteria is that music stores and concert venues and such can label their product so as not to mis-lead! I HATE it when I pay money for something which is not even the KIND of music I was expecting!

Now, what one DOES with the list of songs is a matter of opinion..Dick Greenhaus is slightly more liberal than I am as to what he puts in the Database, and probably a LOT more liberal than Bruce O. would like...and more conservative than others. (I DONT want Dylan in there yet..maybe YOU do!,,,ask me again in 50 years)...

Max has determined to not fret over what gets posted/requested in the forum, and *sigh*...that means more work for me to sort thru it..but it is HIS ballpark..if I decide to open a website, I can do it my way...*grin*...

But NO MATTER WHAT Max allows, posting the words to "Ragg Mopp" here will NEVER make it a folk song...