The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #130927   Message #2950445
Posted By: Rob Naylor
23-Jul-10 - 04:04 AM
Thread Name: Review: Killing folk
Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
David, if you are going to search for the definitive version of a folk song you're going to be eternally frustrated - there's no such thing. Folk songs exist in parallel versions because that's how they've evolved, you can't say that one version is any more "right" or authentic than another. One of the fascinations of folk songs is how many variants there can be.

Fully agree with Howard here. I've heard "Golden Vanity" (just one example among many) sung at maybe 6 different sessions in the last 6 months or so and every time it's been *significantly* different.

I do a version of "Man of Kent" which is quite different to Bob Kenward's original...I learned it from a Stuart Pendrill version before I'd ever heard Bob sing it. Stuart changes the words around a bit, and the tune structure is slightly different. I've changed *some* (but not all) of Stuart's changed words back to Bob's original ( I preferred some of Stuart's changes to Bob's words, TBH) but kept Stuart's structure. Having now heard Bob's original I *could* change mine to comply with his "definitive" rendition, but why? So there are 3 versions of that one song at least, wandering around this little part of Kent. At least one other person has learned my version. Whether he'll make any changes is up to him.

To me, that's the essence of folk....the songs morph naturally, take on local flavours and evolve. "Definitive" versions imply some kind of pickling in aspic.

The only times I've seen problems have been when there's a response or chorus that invites audience participation and the audience knows several different versions of the chorus. But usually the first run through it is left to the singer and people "calibrate" themselves to his/ her version.