The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #121939   Message #2708262
Posted By: Jack Campin
25-Aug-09 - 01:34 PM
Thread Name: The re-Imagined Village
Subject: RE: The re-Imagined Village
The only problem was, I, at 43, was probably the youngest singer there - because this aspect of our cultural heritage is no longer given a fair go at our schools, etc.
At Durham you'll find a lot of very fine old singers who haven't been singing very long actually, largely thanks to Folkworks etc. They don't play instruments because they're not musicians! This has nothing to do with Tradition - so don't be fooled. I'm invariably a decade or more younger than any of them, but when it comes to Traditional Song I am a veritable veteran in their midst.

The book by Lajos Vargjas I was reading while recovering from my heart attack described a phenomenon I found rather surprising. He was talking about the transmission of Hungarian folksong in the years 1900-1950, mainly, but implied the same processes had been going on for several generations. This was an immensely vital song tradition with a vast corpus, so you'd expect it was passed on from old people to the young, right? Wrong. Almost all the songs in the repertoire were generationally specific. They were transmitted from one area to another, modified very fast, but between people of similar ages. Some kinds of song were considered inappropriate to sing if you were too young or too old for them, others drifted in or out of fashion. When you got old enough, you looked around for people a bit older and learned the songs appropriate for your age. These Hungarian peasants would have regarded the idea of teaching young-adult, middle-aged or old people's songs in schools as in appalling taste or just insane.