The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #19126   Message #194265
Posted By: Amos
13-Mar-00 - 12:16 PM
Thread Name: BS: What is folk music?
Subject: RE: BS: What is folk music?
Since the time of Alan Lomax the "oral" tradition -- mandated more by the lives people led than by anything inherent in their music -- has migrated to the written, vinyl, optical and digital traditions which we wrestle with around here all day. In fact a lot of folk music has become commercial, or Folkways Records would have gone out of business long ago, but it was not conceived in a commercial mindset. When people generate music for its own sake, to ease or better their lives, as distinguished from intending it for public performance or sale, you have one of the defining traits of folk music. The musical patterns of that legacy often find their way into popular or commercial products -- just look at what country music has gone through in the last thirty years -- and there has likewise been a lot of bleedthrough from commercial channels into ordinary people's lives. This points up that the conditions which obtained for the first 2500 years of folk music have shifted in a fundamental way, through the advent of a different kind of communication starting with the radio.

Given that those conditions are different than they once were you can end up preferring a definitions which exclude any of that impact -- which will leave you pretty much at the end of the line here in the 21st century -- or you can base your definition on the deeper process, which leads you to include some popular music with traditonal orientation, like Dylan, Donovan, PP&M, Crosby Stills and Nash, and so on.

My sense is that here on the Cat we fall into roughly two camps -- those who focus on a purer but more time-constrained definition, and those who curiously follow the evolution of the voice through the complexities and sometimes overwhelming mazes of the media revolution that started with Mister Marconi's folly. :>)