The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #2224   Message #2262292
Posted By: The Sandman
14-Feb-08 - 11:39 AM
Thread Name: What is a Folk Song?
Subject: RE: What is a Folk Song?
one of my own compositions, The Battle of Bosworth Field,I know has changed.[but that is not the sole consideration in determining whether it is a folksong].
I am not sure how important the changing is in defining whether it is a folksong or not.[why should it even be adetermining factor?]
if we look at the melodies of English Irish Scottish and Appalachian songs,they are in four different modes.,Dorian,Mixolydian,Aeolian and Ionian,therefore if we wrote a new song,to make it sound authentic a melody from thse modes. would be appropriate[amelody from the locrian mode would not sound authentic].,but to use this philosophy limits thecomposers melodic scope.
then we come to lyrics,should we write in a style associated with a previous century.
if I might quote Brian Peters from another thread
Subject: RE: Folk clubs - what is being sung
From: Brian Peters - PM
Date: 13 Feb 08 - 02:10 PM

>> "...depends on how well they are written" . This suggests to me that you are saying that "traditional" songs are inherently better than "modern" songs, except where you think that isn't the case? <<

I won't presume to speak for Jim, but perhaps what he meant was "depends on how well they succeed in mimicking traditional style" - which would assume that the writer was actually trying to make the song sound 'traditional' (and that depends on what we mean by 'traditional' - but let's not go there just now). Personally I would hope that someone with plenty of experience of the genre could spot a modern attempt to compose a song in the style of a Child Ballad, or indeed of a 19th-century English lyrical song - a modern composer would find it awkward to use the same kind of language, for a start. However, if you want an example of a modern song that did convince me, try Dave Webber's "Bonnet and Shawl", which is a dead ringer for a traditional song. His "Lady of Autumn", though, didn't fool me for a minute (and that's not to pass a value judgement on either). 'Bring Us A Barrel', another song often quoted as 'sounding traditional', would have deceived my ears twenty years ago, but having spent all the intervening period looking at the old songs, I doubt that it would if I heard it for the first time now.

The songs of Leon Rosselson and Jim Woodland, to name but two, don't sound remotely traditional, but are great songs fully deserving a hearing in folk clubs. My own tastes would still prefer traditional songs to be in the majority, though.[end of quote]