The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #111033 Message #2344176
Posted By: GUEST,Tom Bliss
19-May-08 - 04:09 AM
Thread Name: Money v Folk
Subject: RE: Money v Folk
Jim, yes 90% don't have a Definition (note my capital) but they do have a definition (note the absence) - in that they'll use the term, and will know what they mean by it. That meaning will vary hugely, and though it may include the 54 (though most would probably only have a vague idea about oral transmission), it will also include all manner of other types of music and activity and style.
Wiki makes a good stab at it, I think - though my personal view is that the word is now so vague as to have little real value other than to point people in a general acoustic/historical direction. I liken it to the word 'art.' It's art if the maker calls it so - the consumer then only has to decide how much they like it. Thus also with 'folk.'
I noticed you mentioned to Dave, as you've often said before, that the singers you collected placed little value on the composition of music.
This is a very interesting point to me. I'm not in the least surprised by it, because people will always tend to take things for granted unless the value is pointed out to them, and one side effect of oral transmission is that there was no-one around to do this.
Just because people (including even the authors themselves, perhaps) were happy not to place much value on the creation of new works doesn't mean that the creation has no intrinsic worth. (And we have no evidence that it was always thus anyway). We, with perhaps a wider perspective on the history of indigenous music, are not forced to inherit the value system of the early 20th century along with a much older repertoire.
If I was sitting on the International Folk Music Council in 1954, I'd have wanted to add a clause which recognised the role of the people who created music (and maybe suggested that better-written material might be least adapted), and also the role of the 'ambassadors' (travelling musicians as well as migrants, as well as collectors/printers) who distributed and cross-referenced material between of local areas and regions - because it's now clear that this happened a lot, and no study of local music will be worth much if this is not taken into account.
The IFMC seem to have missed this point - and in so doing may have left a loophole through which Guthrie, Dylan and Simon were able to drive their horses - starting the devaluation and confusion we see today.