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what is the Folk Process

Related threads:
Folk Process - is it dead? (244)
The Folk Process (181)
Steps in the Folk Process (54)
The New Folk Process (youtube link) (19)
What does the term 'folk process' mean? (23)


The Sandman 07 Mar 08 - 11:22 AM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 07 Mar 08 - 12:04 PM
Mr Happy 07 Mar 08 - 12:19 PM
The Sandman 07 Mar 08 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,doc.tom 07 Mar 08 - 12:29 PM
Peace 07 Mar 08 - 12:34 PM
Mr Happy 07 Mar 08 - 12:37 PM
GUEST,leeneia 07 Mar 08 - 12:50 PM
redsnapper 07 Mar 08 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,Sammy 07 Mar 08 - 01:27 PM
Peace 07 Mar 08 - 01:33 PM
Peace 07 Mar 08 - 01:49 PM
Fidjit 07 Mar 08 - 01:55 PM
John on the Sunset Coast 07 Mar 08 - 01:56 PM
Jack Blandiver 07 Mar 08 - 02:15 PM
Don Firth 07 Mar 08 - 02:57 PM
Art Thieme 07 Mar 08 - 03:48 PM
Fidjit 07 Mar 08 - 04:17 PM
Charley Noble 07 Mar 08 - 08:16 PM
Bert 07 Mar 08 - 09:33 PM
Mr Happy 08 Mar 08 - 06:54 AM
TheSnail 08 Mar 08 - 06:58 AM
Mr Happy 08 Mar 08 - 07:03 AM
Big Al Whittle 08 Mar 08 - 07:28 AM
GUEST,Richard Mitchell 31 May 10 - 08:38 AM
Jack Campin 31 May 10 - 09:34 AM
deepdoc1 31 May 10 - 10:02 AM
Tootler 31 May 10 - 11:21 AM
Rob Naylor 31 May 10 - 12:09 PM
deepdoc1 31 May 10 - 12:17 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 31 May 10 - 12:37 PM
Stringsinger 31 May 10 - 04:20 PM
The Sandman 31 May 10 - 05:23 PM
GUEST,johnp 01 Jun 10 - 01:20 PM
Art Thieme 01 Jun 10 - 08:56 PM
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Subject: what is the Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 11:22 AM

and should it, when defined ,include conscious as welll as unconcious alterations.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 12:04 PM

"What is the folk process?" Artistic evolution (gradual or sometimes radical change) of a song (its words, tune, or both) or story by being passed through a series of hands, mouths and minds. Being passed on in different geographical directions leads to local variants. Individuals may have individual variants. "Should it, when defined, include conscious as well as unconcious alterations." Of course. Why wouldn't it?

But I think you know this already, Dick!


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Mr Happy
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 12:19 PM

The title is: 'what is the Folk Process'

There's no question mark, so I guess its a statement?


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 12:28 PM

what is the Folk Process?


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: GUEST,doc.tom
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 12:29 PM

"should it, when defined ,include conscious as welll as unconcious alterations" - Only if 'folk process' is synonymous with 'rewritten'.
Tom


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Peace
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 12:34 PM

The process by which material (songs, customs, stories, tales) enter what we come to call "the tradition". You asked. That's my opinion, and I don't care to discuss it further, no offense. If anyone has a problem with what I've said, message me. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Mr Happy
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 12:37 PM

Don't know = gis a clue!


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 12:50 PM

'Folk process' is used two ways:

1. To refer to accidental changes to songs (and tunes) which are the results of poor memory or poor understanding.

Example: changing 'raven-black hair' to 'waving black hair' because the singer is unfamiliar with ravens.

2. As used by college perfessors, musicologists, etc, to describe deliberate changes made by ordinary folk to improve a song. Since ordinary folk cannot, under the unwritten rules of academic class structure, be regarded as quality musicians or poets, the changes are dismissed as 'folk process.'

In tunes, anything creative or unusual may be dismissed as 'modal.' This may be done whether the tune is modal or not.


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: redsnapper
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 12:53 PM

How about

the folk process (1)

the natural means of dissemination and evolution of the cultural and self-made music of ordinary people

the folk process (2)

the eternal discourse of individuals of a pedantic disposition, nowadays carried out through electronic media but not precluding other forms, of that, yet to be fully defined, which comprises the music of ordinary people and the means by which the dissemination thereof has or has not been formally accomplished

RS


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: GUEST,Sammy
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 01:27 PM

Ordinary people?
How dare you :-)


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Peace
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 01:33 PM

Don't want too many of them involved I dare say.


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Peace
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 01:49 PM

Question is, what do ya call it when 'ordinary people' see aspects of folk/some folk songs with electric guitars, etc? I guess we have to call those people, uh, well, they don't know what's good, and since they don't, that must inform what they should or shouldn't like, so I guess we call them, uh . . . .


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Fidjit
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 01:55 PM

Make as many mistakes as you like when singing or playing somthing.

Chas


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 01:56 PM

The folk process, in simplest terms for me, is the old party game of telephone, wherein the word or phrase whispered by the originator is repeated from person to person until the last hearer utters the phrase. Most often there are changes occurring as each hears something a little different. Folks hear a song and maybe don't hear it as sung, or even add their own experience or both. Isn't that simple?


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 02:15 PM

It's also an anagram of Posher Fetlocks.


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 02:57 PM

It's not just "academics and pedants" who make conscious changes. Sometimes a singer (whether of academic or pedantic bent or not) feels impelled to change the words to a song for some very good, sound reasons. One example out of many that I can think of for making conscious changes in the words of a song:

I have a copy of "The Coffeehouse Songbook" on my bookshelves, and it contains a lot of good songs. Apparently, it was put together by "collecting" songs from various singers in various coffeehouses all over the country, and I get the distinct impression that many of the songs were written down by someone listening to the singer and scribbling very quickly. As I say, it has a lot of good songs in it, but one needs to read over the words carefully, because it contains a multitude of goofs, screw-ups, and, notably, "mondegreens."

A case in point (one among many) is found in the first verse of "The Bonnie Ship The Diamond." In "The Coffeehouse Songbook," the first verse reads
The Diamond is a ship, my lads;
For the Davis Strait we're bound.
The quay it is all garnishèd
With forty lashes round.
"With forty lashes round?" Now, what the hell does that mean, especially in context? I sounds very "nautical," perhaps, but it makes no sense anywhere in the song.

I have a copy of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger's "Our Singing Island," which contains the same song. I compared texts, and the the line in "Our Singing Island" reads
With bonnie lasses 'round.
Now, that makes sense. The ship is off to hunt whales, and the women are there to see their men off. Whoever wrote down "forty lashes"?what were they thinking? Especially when the next verse makes the whole thing abundantly clear.
All along the key at Peterhead,
The lassies stand around
With their shawls all pulled about them,
And their salt tears running down.
Now, I can see leaving some technical terms or bits of jargon alone if I'm not sure what they mean (although, if I'm going to sing the song, I feel it's my duty to try to find out), but if a word or line is obviously wrong and makes no sense, and the real meaning is fairly clear, I can't see that it's a crime to make reasonable and sensible changes.

Make sure brain is in gear before either 1) singing something as is if it makes no sense; or 2) before you start wielding the blue pencil.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 03:48 PM

We always said, in the 1960s, that the folk process was Odetta's hair style! ;-)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Fidjit
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 04:17 PM

Oh I spelt something wrong. Ah. The folk process.

Chas


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 08:16 PM

Perhaps it's important to suggest that the "folk process" is not a one way process by which a song gets "improved." Some changes will be rejected, and people may even revert to earlier versions of the song. And that's not necessarily a recent phenomena. How many of us sing "whathisname's" version of the song in preference to "whosoever's"?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Bert
Date: 07 Mar 08 - 09:33 PM

Yes John OTSC.

Send three and fourpence, I'm going to a dance.


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Mr Happy
Date: 08 Mar 08 - 06:54 AM

'........and her hairy tongue over her shoulder,
tied up with a Black Velvet Band!'


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: TheSnail
Date: 08 Mar 08 - 06:58 AM

"I boldly stepped up to her
and gave her arse a prize."


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Mr Happy
Date: 08 Mar 08 - 07:03 AM

I think the last coupla contributions echo the 'mondegreening process!'


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 08 Mar 08 - 07:28 AM

like processed cheese...only its folk music


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: GUEST,Richard Mitchell
Date: 31 May 10 - 08:38 AM

It's the natural evolution of pretty bad, 3-chord tunes into ditties that can be easily remembered and performed, with positive feedback from people who like such things. Such songs usually tell an old tale or take a political stance. These often bristle with cloying false patriotism, self pity and attempts to tug at the simpleton heart. Pseudo-folk was exploited for big bucks in the 1950s and 60s. The whole movement is best understood by watching a movie called "A Mighty Wind."


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Jack Campin
Date: 31 May 10 - 09:34 AM

I hope you feel better after that, Richard.

What's the trouble?


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: deepdoc1
Date: 31 May 10 - 10:02 AM

While trying to define the process may segue into academia or pedantry, the process itself seems to me to be exactly the opposite. The current thread (and the previous ones) about the Dogs Meeting illustrates it to me when I see a song with many slightly different versions and tunes. Another is what I have called the Cabbage Head song, or the 4 or 5 or 6 or 7 Drunken Nights, or whatever. Everyone who hears a song will filter it through their own experience, and if you don't have some sort of recording device or pornographic memory, you will not recall every bit of the song. Some of yourself will most likely end up in your version. As it should be. But please feel free to see it differently if you wish...:) My magnanimosity is legendish.


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Tootler
Date: 31 May 10 - 11:21 AM

Pornographic memory?

The mind boggles!


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 31 May 10 - 12:09 PM

JC: I hope you feel better after that, Richard.

What's the trouble?


A mighty wind, perhaps?


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: deepdoc1
Date: 31 May 10 - 12:17 PM

Freudian insertion? Also, I noticed that I malapropriated magnanimosity. I was thinking of a scrunched up magnanimous-generosity, little realizing the word really is. So far, I think I'm up to $60 bucks worth for this sentence!



I'll show meself the door.


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 31 May 10 - 12:37 PM

Not a process always processes plural.

So many different interrelated dimensions to deal with.

I tend to look at types of transformation and then find variables to measure.

There are many analogies that can put visible shape upon the "invisible man"

One that works for me is that of breaking of the artifact into many parts. The parts can be created new, adapted, re arranged, curated, re-used, lost in part, totally lost.....

Then once arranged into the artifact as a whole they have to be kept there....immagine groups of folk with sticks all holding their piece in place whilst others are trying to remove pieces, still others adapting and chopping at the pieces.

Then think of getting this thing moving through time!

Much fun.

Like definitions talk of process depends upon the question asked. So one would start with a question then try to find the relevant artifacts and then go to the processes that relate to them.

Have fun!

Conrad


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Stringsinger
Date: 31 May 10 - 04:20 PM

Bess Lomax Hawes put it aptly in her lovely autobiography, "Sing It Pretty".

The folk process is "stability and change" or "stability and adaptability".

A song has roots in a tradition but it gets changed a little by a new environment or need.

Sometimes the changes are imperceptible. Usually the theme/story of the song is constant but changes in the way it's told.

Parodies can sometimes be picked up as part of this process. "Yankee Doodle" for example or "Dixie".

Colorful lines are adapted to speech patterns from certain cultural groups or people from geographical areas such as the country of the US South.

"I will twine midst the ringlets of raven black hair" becomes:
"I will twine and will mingle my raven black hair"......(mondigreens, sometimes)

All you have to do is research texts that have taken place over the years to see the changes. "Evolution" is a perfect metaphor for the folk song. There are branches that go back to antiquity stemming from different lines.

Sometimes there can be a conscious re-write of a lyric.

Often what you see in folk song books are "collated" texts coming from different song "variants". The Lomaxes did this in their books.

I like collated texts if they tell the story in a concise and interesting manner.

Usually, just like basket making, any deviation from the process is not radical.
Basketry has been done the same way for centuries but there are variations.
Quilt making might be another analogy.

Here's a conundrum, though. Folklorists and folk musicologists have changed their definitions over time. For example, Cecil Sharp considered the American five-string banjo a bowdlerization of the Anglo-American ballad in the way that a folk song played on an electric guitar with a drum set might not set well with "purists". In this way, I think of African-American blues as a folk music but some might not.

Still blues is "stability and change".

I think that the essential difference stems from a familiarity with the style of playing or singing and the song material. Also, does the person who learned the song qualify as an "informant" or carrier of that song having learned it from their childhood? I learned a blues holler from my step-father that I have not heard anywhere else. There are variants of it but not the same way as I know it. I think this qualifies it as a folk song. No one knows the original composer or author of it.

I hope this sheds some light on this "process" or "processes" if you like.


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 May 10 - 05:23 PM

Don Firth, could it be forty lasses round?


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: GUEST,johnp
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 01:20 PM

there is an essay discussing this which can be found HERE
I nearly lost the will to live whilst reading it, which is no doubt due to my own academic shortcomings.
I will stick to singing songs, altering the words or tune to accomodate my abilities and style.
john


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Subject: RE: what is the Folk Process
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 Jun 10 - 08:56 PM

Frank,
All of my songs had the same Thieme!


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