The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157878 Message #4029771
Posted By: Jack Campin
23-Jan-20 - 09:55 AM
Thread Name: Dave Harker, Fakesong
Subject: RE: Dave Harker, Fakesong
The interviewer should never express disbelief, never contradict, never challenge. This is not a media situation where a politician is being grilled on behalf of the public. It is much more intimate and eventually much more revealing than that. This became even more important when I interviewed some of the greatest tradition bearers amongst the Scots travellers - a severely marginalised group for whom the supernatural was part of their everyday lives. If I had said anything like, "That's not true - that didn't actually happen - I don't believe you." etc. then they would have dried up on me straight away and I would have failed to uncover the attitudes that led to their view of the world and that was what I was after.
This raises some difficult questions that may have parallels in music. Some of the Romany use what appears to be traditional belief as a tool for earning money from the outside community - fortune telling, selling talismans and the like. But do they seriously believe it themselves? Probably most of them adhere to some fairly conventional form of Christianity, but how many folklorists would want to know about that? (In Eastern Europe, the majority religion among the Roma is Baptist Protestantism). What I suspect happens is that they mediate their own reporting of what they believe to select what they think their audience is interested in. The exact function of each bit of their heterogeneous belief system takes some unravelling and you can't just copy everything down as if it all had equal status an assertion in a scripture. (I'd guess Vic has had to deal with that many times and I'm not telling him anything new).
It took some time for any outsider to even realize that the Roma of Eastern Europe had any folk music of their own, and it's only become somewhat available in the last couple of decades (thanks to groups like Kalyi Jag). The Gypsies have had a professional musician caste for centuries, but what they play to the non-Gypsies of Europe has absolutely zero overlap with the traditional music of their own community. British Roma and other Travellers haven't had such a caste, but they'd have had obvious reasons to evolve one if it looked like there'd be a audience for something labelled as "Gypsy music".