The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #60238   Message #964486
Posted By: GUEST,jonm
09-Jun-03 - 09:01 AM
Thread Name: Folk Music Dying?
Subject: RE: Folk Music Dying?
Of course folk music is dying. Kids today are not exposed to it, whether at school, on the TV or at home. It would be impossible to re-introduce folk song and folk dance into the curriculum, since it was lost from the mainstream curriculum a generation ago, and even the teachers don't remember it.

There is no longer respect for tradition - it is seen as something to be improved upon as a matter of course. Modern children have no comprehension of the wealth of national heritage lost to them by their lack of historical knowledge, and the world around them is constructed to prevent them feeling inadequate about it and doing something to change that. When I think of the number of quiz-show history questions I have been able to answer from folk song lyrics...

Children's perception of music and dance has changed. Music is now performed by people plucked from obscurity on a TV show, with no idea of the supporting cast of true musicians behind the manufactured sound. Dance is either copying of choreographed routines from pop videos or shuffling from one foot to the other, swinging the arms gently at the sides (this seems to suffice for anything from Britney to Death Metal). Faced with a live band who invite the audience to get up and dance, kids don't know what to do - which is tragic.

Britain has gone from the highest number of musical instruments per capita in Europe in the 1960's to one of the lowest now.

Music and dance are being transfomed into lite versions of themselves, requiring the minimum effort and input to generate the maximum profit for those involved; commercialism and marketing are taking over.

The light at the end of the tunnel seems to be that the acoustic boom in popular music in the late 90's has grown into the simple rock music of artists like the White Stripes, who pride themselves on how quickly their last album was recorded. Take away the production values (quality is still there, but the costly layers of unnecessary ornamentation) and the computer-generated instrumentation, base the music on live sound and the ability the replicate the performance without backing tapes, on real instruments with the minimum of effects, and the resulting music is not so far from the folk ethos.

If we could just ban folk music and create an underground revival with characters the youth of today might see as trendy (which rules out grey hair, unkempt beards, pot bellies, Arran sweaters, fingers in ears.....) focusing on the songs of real social and historical relevance, there may be hope yet.

In Britain, the fundamental problem is a lack of national identity, continuously eroded by government valuing and promoting other cultures, not as equal alternatives but as better, preferred ones, while denigrating those aspects of British culture which have contributed to our national identity and which are the reason why these other cultural groups have come to Britain in the first place. Until the government acquires a sense of history and cultural perspective, there is little hope for minority pursuits such as our own.

Rant over.