The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #116775   Message #2512403
Posted By: GUEST,Tom Bliss
11-Dec-08 - 05:09 AM
Thread Name: 2008 R2 Young Folk Award - What Happened
Subject: RE: 2008 R2 Young Folk Award - What Happened
Shimrod, that argument only holds good if you believe that the word folk is defined the way you personally choose to define it. The trouble is, none of us owns that word (or any word, for that matter - we merely borrow them). Language doesn't stay still - it never has and never will. By various means the meaning of words shifts all the time - some by more than others, but nothing is carved in stone. So the definition of a word is only and always developed through common usage (influenced by the media, but journalists have as much right to develop language as Joe Public does), so that in the end the only safe bet is to define your audience and accept the majority view within that group and choose your words accordingly. As it happens, my PERSONAL take on the word folk, at this point in my life, happens to coincide with yours and Pip's - as it probably does within the world of folk clubs and festivals that's so well-represented here. But it's NOT our word. It belongs to anyone who chooses to speak English. And there is absolutely no doubt that across the wider English-speaking world (or, in this case, the BBC audience) it means something more, something bigger and more amorphous than we might personally be happy with.

In fact the word folk is now so ill-defined, with so many different PERSONAL meanings, that it's general meaning has become as broad as the word Art. You can still use the word yourself howsoever you choose, of course, but if you want reliably to be understood (and this goes for any form of human communication) - to tell people what you are putting in your particular tin - you have to use THEIR language.

In the case of the word folk, it has now become necessary to add a secondary definition, or choose a different word which WILL be reliably understood by the greater population. And the BBC have chosen not to - therefore their use of the word to describe a wide genre of music, as generally accepted by the majority of their audience, is entirely correct. And therefore all the acts in this particular competition are completely acceptable on the roster - because they DO, ALL fit that definition.

I'd go so far as to say that; just as to call a work 'art' you merely have to convince an Art Gallery owner that it is so, by the same token, to call music folk you merely have to convince a Folk Promoter that it is so.

If the promoter chooses to narrow the definition to, say, traditional folk, or contemporary folk, then you have a different set of criteria and your argument would hold more water, but the BBC didn't. Therefore we are wrong to complain about any of these acts being included.

In case you didn't see my post on this topic elsewhere, let me paste again the Grammy nominations for this year. THIS is the way the word folk (and Trad - God help us - it seems!) is understood in the wider world - and until we accept this, and work within it without argument, we will continue to make folk music seem a nasty unfriendly place. Which is a crying shame, considering how friendly we all actually are, and how badly we're in need of some new mates.

Best Traditional Folk Album
Kathy Mattea - Coal [Captain Potato Records]
Tom Paxton -Comedians & Angels [Appleseed Recordings]
Peggy Seeger- Bring Me Home [Appleseed Recordings]
Pete Seeger - At 89 [Appleseed Recordings]
Rosalie Sorrels - Strangers In Another Country [Red House Records]

Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album
Joan Baez - Day After Tomorrow [Bobolink/Razor & Tie]
Ry Cooder - I, Flathead [Nonesuch Records]
Rodney Crowell - Sex & Gasoline [Work Song/Yep Roc Records]
Emmylou Harris - All I Intended To Be [Nonesuch Records]
Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand [Rounder Records]

Lets all try to play nice, eh?

Tom