The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #111033   Message #2344216
Posted By: GUEST,Tom Bliss
19-May-08 - 06:00 AM
Thread Name: Money v Folk
Subject: RE: Money v Folk
Well Jim we've reached the point we got to last time, with no progress again!

I guess I need to clarify that for me (I can't speak for others in this thread) that recognising the importance of authorship and 'non-54-folk' transmission, is not only about price tag. In modern terms a price tag may indeed be morally appropriate, and it's a shame that in the detachment of value from authorship this baby has somehow been thrown out with the bath water - but there is an academic imperative too. The study of '54-folk' song must inevitably work back and back towards the author - that's the logical route, and then one can come back up another strand, and so start to suggest some really useful conclusions. But because this information was not considered very important we've lost more of it than we might, and the task is more difficult than it could have been. So it's not only about money - but study too.

I'm sure the IFMC did pay attention to makers and 'short-circuiters' - but the wording of the 54 deliberately seeks to play down that attention. It focuses, for good reason, on the 'folk process' because that's what interested those people at that time. But there is another story too, running parallel and woven through that one - or perhaps just another way of looking at things - and now there is a strong movement to recognise the influence of writers and writers-down and other 'trade' elements - which the 54 definition does not assist.

Leaving the word 'folk' out of it for a moment - by definition these people are sidelined in the 54, only because the 54 was shining a light on just one aspect of musical history.

But there are other aspects too which are equally worthy of study and debate. I'm interested in the history of music, period, not only of the oral/rural/local process - so I want to know who wrote the songs, to what extent court payers fed into the oral system, how much influence travelling players had - etc, and the 54 is not particularly helpful in this regard because the whole point of it is to focus on the oral tradition only. There was a strong non-oral element, and a strong trade element to the development of the music I personally enjoy today.

You and I do agree entirely about the unhelpfulness of the confusion and double-speak. The academic use of the word is, as you say, still current and valid between those 'in the know', but folk music academics are only a tiny handful compared with the numbers who enjoy that they choose to call folk.

You may well be right about Dylan et al - and maybe history will judge them harshly, but we artists and promoters have to work with common rather than 'correct' language. As I've said, 'folk' is not the only word that's lost its 'true' meaning. It happens to words all the time ('wicked' is another good example). You can either go with the flow, and make progress, or sit in a bunker and snipe at the passing throng.

I'd find my own name for my music - in fact I avoid the f word as much as I can for this very reason, but it's used in the wider sense by nearly everyone I know, so when I'm labelled by others as a 'folk musician' I'll accept it because those who are comfotable with that tag are a massive majority. That's how language works, I'm afraid.

Wikipedia is not 'wrong' or 'out of step.' It's an accurate explanation of what happened - and it certainly covers my music - self-penned and trad, as well as the activities I take part in.

It's a shame, and yes we now have a muddle - but genie/bottle stuffing is not likely to the answer.