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The Current Tradition

Les in Chorlton 11 Mar 08 - 01:52 PM
Ernest 11 Mar 08 - 02:34 PM
PoppaGator 11 Mar 08 - 02:35 PM
Les in Chorlton 11 Mar 08 - 02:52 PM
irishenglish 11 Mar 08 - 03:06 PM
Goose Gander 11 Mar 08 - 03:37 PM
Les in Chorlton 11 Mar 08 - 03:58 PM
Les in Chorlton 12 Mar 08 - 02:42 PM
PoppaGator 12 Mar 08 - 03:30 PM
Les in Chorlton 12 Mar 08 - 03:37 PM
Les in Chorlton 13 Mar 08 - 04:20 AM
GUEST,PMB 13 Mar 08 - 04:46 AM
Les in Chorlton 13 Mar 08 - 05:35 AM
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Subject: The Current Tradition
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Mar 08 - 01:52 PM

This is a paraphrase of a desciption:

'The tradition' comprises art forms of a …   community rooted in that community's lore and has customs passed on orally, aurally or by demonstration …….. It has thus belonged collectively to that community…….. .

I took it from a post by Diane Easby, without permission and I may be damned but I think it is a good starting point.

Almost nobody currently involved in singing, playing or promoting this kind of music is part of such a community. But thousands and thousands of us are part of some extended community that:

"has customs passed on orally, aurally or by demonstration …….. It has thus belonged collectively to that community…….. ."

We are not a rural community meeting in the village pub to share songs. We are spread across this country and others and are connected by custom and practice such that we can go to all sorts of places and sing songs, play tunes and dance with the expectation that we will be understood and generally well received.

Is this a new living tradition?


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Subject: RE: The Current Tradition
From: Ernest
Date: 11 Mar 08 - 02:34 PM

Yes it is. Those rural communities have never been completely self-sustaining, they traded things with neighboring communities as well as with traders from places in greater distances.

The mudcat and similar sites are the virtual global village`s equivalent of the broadsheets used in past centuries.

Best
Ernest


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Subject: RE: The Current Tradition
From: PoppaGator
Date: 11 Mar 08 - 02:35 PM

I agree that there IS such a contemporary "tradition" shared by all of us at Mudcat (NOT just the "traditionalists" among us).

It potentially includes everything that we've heard during our collective lifetimes (i.e. second half of the 20th century, more or less, and since) and , while no exact boundaries can be defined, music that MOST of us have been exposed to ~ and found sufficiently memorable ~ makes up the bulk of it.

Some of the material is unambiguously "folk" or "traditonial," but most is not.

ALL of the musical experiences that we all share are of RECORDINGS.

I would note that there are also specialized local "traditions" that are more well-defined. Where I live, in New Orleans, we have our own traditional body of work including old and new-ish jazz, blues, R&B, and funk. We also have a more strictly defined subset belonging to a well-defined local subculture, the Mardi Gras Indians. Elsewhere, of course, there are similar little musical-traditional "worlds" such as Morris Dancing (whatever that might be!), Irish Rebel songs, etc., etc.

But I think Les is envisioning the "tradition" available to our worldwide community of active players and singers who love to make music to the best of our ability, with or without monetary compensation. We share a knowledge or many kinds of songs, many originally written in some commerical context (e.g., show tunes, rock 'n' roll, etc.), which have become a widely shared musical culture.


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Subject: RE: The Current Tradition
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Mar 08 - 02:52 PM

I think what Les thinks, and I could be wrong here, is:

Can we, at least to begin with, get some agreement about the Folk Community that exists in the UK. It clearly has close relations with communities in Ireland, the USA and all sorts of other places in terms of songs, tunes, venues and so on but it is some distance from musical communities in New Orleans.

I recently got carried away in a Cassa de la Trova in Baracoa, Cuba and sang the Manchester Rambler. It wasn't my usual venue but I felt the atmosphere was right. It stopped the salsa dancing but I did get a cheer and I have lived on cloud 9 ever since. The point I make is that these kinds of communities, opportunities and events are part of a common human experience.

However,................. I am part of a much more coherent community here in the UK. We have a large and varied but to some extent common collection of songs, tunes and dances and venues and general house rules feel the same. This is "The Current Tradition" I seek to identify.


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Subject: RE: The Current Tradition
From: irishenglish
Date: 11 Mar 08 - 03:06 PM

Yes, it is a new form of a living tradition. I'm sure others have said similar to what I wrote on a recent post that as soon as the first field recordings were made, or maybe when the first such recordings were released as either of historic or enjoyment purposes, this music was inexorably changed. Don't take that to mean doom and gloom, but the nature of the music changed because those oral traditions have been gradually replaced.


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Subject: RE: The Current Tradition
From: Goose Gander
Date: 11 Mar 08 - 03:37 PM

The oral tradition has always been reinforced and influenced by print and other commercial sources, such as the stage. It may help to keep in mind that there is really no such thing as 'pure forms' in traditional music.


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Subject: RE: The Current Tradition
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Mar 08 - 03:58 PM

I know I am re-stating the obvious, and someone will prove me wrong, but yes:

"there is really no such thing as 'pure forms' in traditional music."

I would go the whole hog and say that all forms of music exist along continua, if that is the right word. Improvisation, a major feature of Jazz, exists in many other genres.

I would have a stab at two extremes:
1. Music composed by someone known, L. Cohen, Chuck Berry, anyone you like
2. Music created and transposed through communities of people, Sea Shanties

Then two others:

1. Music I like
2. Music I don't

On either of these continua most much music can be found betwen either extreme.


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Subject: RE: The Current Tradition
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 12 Mar 08 - 02:42 PM

One of the points people might want to explore is the quality of stuff in The Current Tradition. Attention has been drawn to the rather poor quality of singing, often by blokes, sometimes described as "good enough for folk". Now whilst I wouldn't want to be seen supporting such a position, I do feel their is something appropriate about "entry level singing" that folk clubs allow that includes rather than excludes.

And I do have to say it hs been and remains a common feature of The Current Tradition!

Les, ducks and leaves


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Subject: RE: The Current Tradition
From: PoppaGator
Date: 12 Mar 08 - 03:30 PM

Well, I suppose that there is a "Current Tradition" generally recognized in UK folk clubs, but isn't there another, wider "Current Tradition" that exists in the contemporary world at large?

My point of view for this discussion is that of a busker or streetsinger. (Disclaimer: I am not a currently active street performer, but I do have a great deal of long-ago experience in that line of "work.") The honorable occupation of troubador should certainly be included included in most conceptions of a folk-music community.

The "community" whose "lore and customs" must be well-known to the street entertainer is the general public, and specifically, the contemporary public whose collective lifetimes have been spent exposed to mass media in our "shrinking," ever more homogeneous world.

Now, no one would expect every passerby to recognize every selection in a performer's repertoire, so there is certainly room for the unexpected, the obscure, the new, the really old, etc. And also, of course, any decent performer should have an identity and personality that would include a bent toward certain general styles or subgenres of music, more-or-less to the exclusion of others.

But:

People respond to what's familiar to them, and want to share the singer's enjoyment of songs known to all. In the world that we really live in, the shared musical tradition is NOT that of a rural outpost in bygone days.

Our shared tradition includes plenty of "real folk songs," such as many of those submitted to the recent "Fifty Songs Everyone Should Know" thread, but it ALSO includes:

Beatles songs
"Over the Rainbow" and other such movie-musical (and B'wy) classics
Doo-Wop oldies
Commercial-country Nashville compositions from the Carter Family through Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams, Johnny Cash and (maybe even) beyond.
Pre-war pop "standards," especially those commonly used for jazz improvisation via fake-book transcriptions: Gershwin, Cole Porter, et. al.
Dylan!
Rock, "singer-songwriter" stuff, etc. ~ any individual song that has made a wide impression and become memorable to the general public.

Anything, in short, that the performer enjoys enough to learn, and to work up an effective interpretation.


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Subject: RE: The Current Tradition
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 12 Mar 08 - 03:37 PM

"Well, I suppose that there is a "Current Tradition" generally recognized in UK folk clubs, but isn't there another, wider "Current Tradition" that exists in the contemporary world at large?"

Couldn't agree more. Lots and lots of overlapping "Traditions". I am just trawling around in the one I know a bit.


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Subject: RE: The Current Tradition
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 13 Mar 08 - 04:20 AM

I think their is an expectation in some quarters that old traditional songs and tunes should only be publicly performed if the performance is of the highest standard.

I guess the important phrase is "publicly performed". Is a small room upstairs in a pub public, not much I'd say.To go further much performance in "The Current Tradition" is private or semi public and their is not often an expectation of all those who perform to be of the highest standard.

Does this lead us to "good enough for folk"? Yes it can. But the phrase suggests to me that those who use this as an excuse know they could do better but cannot be bothered. That is quite different from encouraging new singers etc. to start out.

"The Current Tradition" is a living tradition.


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Subject: RE: The Current Tradition
From: GUEST,PMB
Date: 13 Mar 08 - 04:46 AM

Quality, Les...

One of the major characteristics of "folk music" defining that as what happens in folk clubs, is that it is do-it-yourself. It's social music, and the communality is often as important as the polish on the delivery. I think that is part of its appeal to the self- selecting communities that constitute the "new traditions".

It does lead to situations where in some settings being even moderately competent is frowned on.

Maybe it's as well to list some of the emerging traditions:

Diddleys (though are they new? half hour argument).
Humpties
Old Timeys

That'll do for the instrumentally unstable...

Finger-In-Beards
Dryland Sailors
Sniggersnogs
Copper Choristers
Wild Rovers
Fey Celts

Note the importance to all these groups of the oral tradition, though as has been pointed out, one must not neglect the vaginal tradition.


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Subject: RE: The Current Tradition
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 13 Mar 08 - 05:35 AM

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm ........... I have not come across

"It does lead to situations where in some settings being even moderately competent is frowned on."

I think I have tried to define "The Current Tradition" as what goes on in Folk Clubs, Festivals, Radio and recordings. I think this grew out of the second folk revival of the 1950 / 60.

I think I am trying to define what most of us folkies do and like, with a recognition of the songs and tunes that came from "Source singers", but also a recognition that few of us belong to the kind of communities that existed in the 19C and enabled those songs to live.

I am interested in you collection of groups perhaps you could describe them?

Cheers

Les


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