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Money v Folk

GUEST,The Observer 07 May 08 - 09:22 AM
Snuffy 07 May 08 - 09:26 AM
*Laura* 07 May 08 - 09:29 AM
GUEST,Trevek 07 May 08 - 10:34 AM
Leadfingers 07 May 08 - 10:39 AM
artbrooks 07 May 08 - 10:44 AM
GUEST,Volgadon 07 May 08 - 10:45 AM
treewind 07 May 08 - 10:46 AM
Peace 07 May 08 - 10:49 AM
GUEST,Joe 07 May 08 - 10:49 AM
Nick 07 May 08 - 11:24 AM
irishenglish 07 May 08 - 11:45 AM
Backwoodsman 07 May 08 - 11:47 AM
WalterOtter 07 May 08 - 11:48 AM
Peace 07 May 08 - 01:31 PM
Dave the Gnome 07 May 08 - 01:43 PM
topical tom 07 May 08 - 01:58 PM
GUEST,Jonny Sunshine 07 May 08 - 02:02 PM
*Laura* 07 May 08 - 02:11 PM
Richard Bridge 07 May 08 - 02:20 PM
Peace 07 May 08 - 02:24 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 07 May 08 - 02:55 PM
Peace 07 May 08 - 03:04 PM
Uncle_DaveO 07 May 08 - 03:15 PM
fat B****rd 07 May 08 - 03:18 PM
Peace 07 May 08 - 03:24 PM
Big Al Whittle 07 May 08 - 04:36 PM
GUEST,Gerry 07 May 08 - 07:33 PM
Don Firth 07 May 08 - 07:53 PM
the lemonade lady 07 May 08 - 08:02 PM
mattkeen 08 May 08 - 06:46 AM
George Papavgeris 08 May 08 - 07:13 AM
Bob the Postman 08 May 08 - 08:06 AM
treewind 08 May 08 - 10:04 AM
Sean Belt 08 May 08 - 01:27 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 08 May 08 - 02:00 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 08 May 08 - 02:06 PM
the lemonade lady 08 May 08 - 03:02 PM
Peace 08 May 08 - 03:36 PM
The Sandman 08 May 08 - 03:53 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 08 May 08 - 03:58 PM
DonMeixner 08 May 08 - 04:32 PM
Don Firth 08 May 08 - 04:42 PM
M.Ted 08 May 08 - 06:14 PM
Dave the Gnome 09 May 08 - 03:16 AM
trevek 09 May 08 - 03:37 AM
mattkeen 09 May 08 - 05:38 AM
GUEST, Sminky 09 May 08 - 06:30 AM
glueman 09 May 08 - 07:14 AM
Grab 09 May 08 - 07:30 AM
GUEST, Sminky 09 May 08 - 07:49 AM
Mr Red 09 May 08 - 08:16 AM
M.Ted 09 May 08 - 08:51 AM
Dave the Gnome 09 May 08 - 08:56 AM
GUEST, Sminky 09 May 08 - 09:08 AM
glueman 09 May 08 - 09:16 AM
Mr Red 09 May 08 - 09:25 AM
trevek 09 May 08 - 09:51 AM
Mark Ross 09 May 08 - 10:02 AM
GUEST 09 May 08 - 10:13 AM
Morris-ey 09 May 08 - 10:13 AM
GUEST, Sminky 09 May 08 - 10:18 AM
artbrooks 09 May 08 - 10:35 AM
Grab 09 May 08 - 10:40 AM
GUEST, Sminky` 09 May 08 - 11:30 AM
artbrooks 09 May 08 - 11:51 AM
GUEST, Sminky 09 May 08 - 12:58 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 09 May 08 - 01:27 PM
Don Firth 09 May 08 - 02:27 PM
Don Firth 09 May 08 - 02:30 PM
Dave the Gnome 09 May 08 - 05:49 PM
Dave the Gnome 09 May 08 - 05:59 PM
Don Firth 09 May 08 - 06:27 PM
GUEST,DonMeixner 09 May 08 - 06:46 PM
Don Firth 09 May 08 - 07:10 PM
Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive) 09 May 08 - 07:35 PM
Grab 09 May 08 - 08:36 PM
Don Firth 09 May 08 - 09:07 PM
Dave the Gnome 11 May 08 - 07:13 AM
Don Firth 11 May 08 - 03:13 PM
Mark Ross 11 May 08 - 03:45 PM
Anne Lister 11 May 08 - 05:32 PM
Kent Davis 11 May 08 - 11:15 PM
GUEST, Sminky 12 May 08 - 07:16 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 12 May 08 - 12:37 PM
Dave the Gnome 12 May 08 - 01:43 PM
Don Firth 12 May 08 - 01:50 PM
Dave the Gnome 12 May 08 - 03:18 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 12 May 08 - 03:22 PM
Don Firth 12 May 08 - 04:45 PM
Dave the Gnome 12 May 08 - 07:09 PM
GUEST, Sminky 13 May 08 - 06:09 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 13 May 08 - 07:02 AM
GUEST,Jon 13 May 08 - 07:44 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 13 May 08 - 07:55 AM
GUEST,Jon 13 May 08 - 08:05 AM
TheSnail 13 May 08 - 08:33 AM
Grab 13 May 08 - 11:02 AM
Leadfingers 13 May 08 - 11:43 AM
Leadfingers 13 May 08 - 11:43 AM
TheSnail 13 May 08 - 11:46 AM
Leadfingers 13 May 08 - 11:51 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 13 May 08 - 12:43 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 13 May 08 - 12:45 PM
Don Firth 13 May 08 - 01:19 PM
Dave the Gnome 13 May 08 - 02:02 PM
Peace 13 May 08 - 02:17 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 13 May 08 - 02:20 PM
Peace 13 May 08 - 02:50 PM
Grab 13 May 08 - 07:14 PM
Leadfingers 13 May 08 - 07:25 PM
GUEST 13 May 08 - 07:34 PM
Don Firth 13 May 08 - 07:39 PM
TheSnail 13 May 08 - 08:40 PM
GUEST,Jon 14 May 08 - 02:53 AM
Dave the Gnome 14 May 08 - 03:18 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 14 May 08 - 04:45 AM
GUEST,Jon 14 May 08 - 04:55 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 14 May 08 - 05:08 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 14 May 08 - 05:17 AM
Grab 14 May 08 - 05:52 AM
GUEST,Jon 14 May 08 - 06:06 AM
GUEST, Sminky 14 May 08 - 06:09 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 14 May 08 - 06:35 AM
TheSnail 14 May 08 - 06:58 AM
Dave the Gnome 14 May 08 - 07:17 AM
Snuffy 14 May 08 - 08:53 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 14 May 08 - 09:11 AM
Snuffy 14 May 08 - 09:21 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 14 May 08 - 10:29 AM
TheSnail 14 May 08 - 10:47 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 14 May 08 - 10:56 AM
TheSnail 14 May 08 - 11:13 AM
Dave the Gnome 14 May 08 - 11:38 AM
GUEST, Sminky 14 May 08 - 12:16 PM
Don Firth 14 May 08 - 01:06 PM
Dave the Gnome 14 May 08 - 01:11 PM
Don Firth 14 May 08 - 01:26 PM
Don Firth 14 May 08 - 01:29 PM
Jack Campin 14 May 08 - 01:55 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 14 May 08 - 03:11 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 14 May 08 - 03:44 PM
Dave the Gnome 14 May 08 - 04:26 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 14 May 08 - 04:32 PM
Dave the Gnome 14 May 08 - 07:26 PM
Jim Carroll 15 May 08 - 08:45 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 15 May 08 - 09:32 AM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 15 May 08 - 02:15 PM
Dave the Gnome 15 May 08 - 05:58 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 15 May 08 - 06:10 PM
Jim Carroll 16 May 08 - 02:18 PM
Dave the Gnome 17 May 08 - 01:49 AM
Howard Jones 17 May 08 - 05:22 AM
TheSnail 17 May 08 - 06:14 AM
GUEST 17 May 08 - 10:43 AM
GUEST,Georgina Boyes 17 May 08 - 11:39 AM
Dave the Gnome 17 May 08 - 01:00 PM
GUEST 17 May 08 - 02:26 PM
GUEST 17 May 08 - 02:29 PM
The Sandman 17 May 08 - 02:45 PM
Dave the Gnome 17 May 08 - 06:07 PM
GUEST,Georgina Boyes 17 May 08 - 06:32 PM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 18 May 08 - 04:53 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 18 May 08 - 10:22 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 08 - 10:45 AM
TheSnail 18 May 08 - 11:17 AM
The Sandman 18 May 08 - 11:19 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 18 May 08 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 18 May 08 - 11:41 AM
Dave the Gnome 18 May 08 - 12:03 PM
Dave the Gnome 18 May 08 - 12:11 PM
Don Firth 18 May 08 - 01:36 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 18 May 08 - 02:44 PM
Don Firth 18 May 08 - 03:42 PM
Jim Carroll 18 May 08 - 04:06 PM
The Sandman 18 May 08 - 04:44 PM
The Sandman 18 May 08 - 04:46 PM
Dave the Gnome 18 May 08 - 05:56 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 18 May 08 - 06:11 PM
Jim Carroll 19 May 08 - 02:34 AM
Jim Carroll 19 May 08 - 03:26 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 19 May 08 - 04:09 AM
Jim Carroll 19 May 08 - 05:19 AM
WalkaboutsVerse 19 May 08 - 05:39 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 19 May 08 - 06:00 AM
glueman 19 May 08 - 06:06 AM
glueman 19 May 08 - 06:20 AM
WalkaboutsVerse 19 May 08 - 06:25 AM
GUEST,Jon 19 May 08 - 06:32 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 May 08 - 07:13 AM
Jim Carroll 19 May 08 - 08:51 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 May 08 - 09:29 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 19 May 08 - 09:50 AM
glueman 19 May 08 - 09:51 AM
Jim Carroll 19 May 08 - 12:17 PM
The Sandman 19 May 08 - 12:26 PM
glueman 19 May 08 - 01:05 PM
Jim Carroll 19 May 08 - 03:36 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 19 May 08 - 04:39 PM
Betsy 19 May 08 - 04:50 PM
glueman 19 May 08 - 05:38 PM
The Sandman 19 May 08 - 06:11 PM
Jim Carroll 20 May 08 - 03:11 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 20 May 08 - 03:54 AM
GUEST,Jon 20 May 08 - 05:06 AM
Jim Carroll 20 May 08 - 05:10 AM
The Sandman 20 May 08 - 05:20 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 20 May 08 - 05:35 AM
Jim Carroll 20 May 08 - 01:11 PM
The Sandman 20 May 08 - 04:25 PM
Jim Carroll 21 May 08 - 07:44 AM
The Sandman 21 May 08 - 07:51 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 21 May 08 - 08:44 AM
Jim Carroll 21 May 08 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 21 May 08 - 10:26 AM
Jim Carroll 21 May 08 - 10:28 AM
Jim Carroll 21 May 08 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Jon 21 May 08 - 12:44 PM
glueman 21 May 08 - 12:50 PM
Jim Carroll 22 May 08 - 03:12 AM
GUEST,Jon 22 May 08 - 04:37 AM
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Subject: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,The Observer
Date: 07 May 08 - 09:22 AM

Again, I'm interested. Should anyone be making money out of Folk? And if so how much would be reasonable? Would Folk survive without professional singers and musicians? If artists are to be paid should there be a flat rate for all? Or should the best and most popular be paid more than the less popular? And if popularity is the guage for payment when does the cost preclude the artist from carrying the folk tag?

Has the festival scene lost its way? Should everything be reduced (or elevated) to a pub session where evryone brings their own beer and food. Do folkies want to have their music recognised by the general public or should it remain an underground movement, a home for rebels and the chattering classes (not meant to be pejorative in this case - honest)?


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Snuffy
Date: 07 May 08 - 09:26 AM

Yes


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: *Laura*
Date: 07 May 08 - 09:29 AM

"Would folk survive without professional singers and musicians?"

Of course it would. It DID for a long long time.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Trevek
Date: 07 May 08 - 10:34 AM

Well, I suppose a lot of the people who wrote tunes and lyrics were professional in their day, so you could say people always have made money from folk.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Leadfingers
Date: 07 May 08 - 10:39 AM

I make SOME money out of what I call folk - But what I get paid to do may NOT fit YOUR definition .


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: artbrooks
Date: 07 May 08 - 10:44 AM

Gee...and what IS folk music, anyway?


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 07 May 08 - 10:45 AM

Where did the silly idea come from that folk music can't be played for profit?


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: treewind
Date: 07 May 08 - 10:46 AM

That's a contentious assumption buried in the thread title.

Anybody is entitled to be paid for doing anything if they are good enough and can find a market for it. Nobody's forced to pay. If it happens it happens - why does folk music have to be different from every other human activity in the universe in that some people think you're not allowed to do it for money?

Can you imagine asking the same about Jazz, or.... well, absolutely anything?

And by the way, folk music has had a lot of professional help in surviving. From the ancient bards and wandering minstrels to the publishers of 17th century broadsides to 19th century village bands to modern recording artists and your local ceilidh band - there was always somebody making some sort of part time or full time living or extra income out of it, and in doing so keeping it alive. Not to mention Child and others collecting songs and publishing books. Mostly people didn't get very rich that way, but certainly some were in the business of selling something or getting paid for their efforts where appropriate.

There can't be any other kind of music in the world that has this problem.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Peace
Date: 07 May 08 - 10:49 AM

Hell, no! Start by payin' them and next thing these greedy bastards will want a roof over their heads, too. And food. And clothing. Sheesh. Where will it end?


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 07 May 08 - 10:49 AM

Speak to anyone who makes a living out of folk music, Premiership footballer wage packets do not spring to mind.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Nick
Date: 07 May 08 - 11:24 AM

Another wind up thread, I sense.

But selling your labour is pretty basic to western capitalism. If the labour you have to sell is based on singing folk songs it seems reasonable to earn money from it. As reasonable as anything else.

Otherwise things like teaching people a language - or maths - or doing many things would also have no value.

People are not selling folk music they are selling their performance of it and that's what you are paying for - in the same way that if you sell services you are NOT selling the lamguage but profiting from it. And the basis of the system is as much as you can get for what you offer.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: irishenglish
Date: 07 May 08 - 11:45 AM

A flat rate to pay for folksingers? Cmon, you must be joking. It's free enterprise. If someone is really good, either as a singer or as an instrumentalist, word gets out, more seats get filled, a larger room or concert space then is needed, and then they are off. Your point sounds almost like a penalty against those that are naturally more gifted, or those who bring more to the table in terms of performance compared with someone who likes to sing one night a week with their guitar at some club or a pub. You see? Free enterprise. Maybe that person in the club gets better and better each week, learns more, and then word gets out, more seats get filled, a larger room or concert space is then needed, and so on! I don't care the genre of music, but if you suck, you suck, and an audience is going to reward you with no applause, and an empty hat passed around. If you are good, the hat's going to be overflowing on a good night, and you will know that you are doing something right, something people enjoy, and you'll be smiling because you know you are making a few bucks out of something you worked hard for.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 07 May 08 - 11:47 AM

"Should everything be reduced (or elevated) to a pub session where evryone brings their own beer and food."

taking your own beer and food to a pub session is pretty much guaranteed to result in the landlord's boot making violent contact with your arse, in my experience. And rightly so.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: WalterOtter
Date: 07 May 08 - 11:48 AM

"There ain't no money in poetry, that's what makes the poet free" - Guy Clark


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Peace
Date: 07 May 08 - 01:31 PM

In some ways it's like feeding a stray cat. If you do, it'll keep coming back. That usually OK, but on occasion it will include banjo players, so be warned.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 07 May 08 - 01:43 PM

*Laura*

"Would folk survive without professional singers and musicians?"

Of course it would. It DID for a long long time.


When was that then?

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: topical tom
Date: 07 May 08 - 01:58 PM

Aside from informal jams and singalongs I have always paid something to hear folk music and was more than glad to do it.In the sense that folk performers are paid I suppose they could be called professionals. God knows, money is welcome to all of us!My love of folk music is rooted in the fact that profit is not the be-all and end-all of the music; quality replaces unintelligible lyrics and special effects.
"What is folk music?" To paraphrase, "Ah, let me count the types"!


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine
Date: 07 May 08 - 02:02 PM

I doubt anyone goes into folk music for the money, but if you think no-one should be making money from folk, how exactly would you prevent them?


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: *Laura*
Date: 07 May 08 - 02:11 PM

Dave - when parents sang songs to their kids and workers sang songs in fields and then the kids grew up and they sang the same songs to their kids etc etc

I'm not saying it hasn't been helped by professional singers but it existed and survived without people paying for it.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 07 May 08 - 02:20 PM

What is money? Is it a medium of exchange, a store of value, or a means of command?


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Peace
Date: 07 May 08 - 02:24 PM

The labourer is worthy of his/her hire. So pretend yer just paying for the performer's time. Hell, in the way-back days, people got fed and housed. Same thing today.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 07 May 08 - 02:55 PM

A chain yanking thread if ever I did see one.....Up on Cripple Creek....

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Peace
Date: 07 May 08 - 03:04 PM

. . . she sends me
If I spring a leak she mends me


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 07 May 08 - 03:15 PM

Artbrooks said, "Gee...and what IS folk music, anyway?"

It's whatever amateur horses don't sing.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: fat B****rd
Date: 07 May 08 - 03:18 PM

..I don't have to speak...


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Peace
Date: 07 May 08 - 03:24 PM


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 May 08 - 04:36 PM

Money money money
If I had a little money...in a rich man's world

                              trad. child ballad 462


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 07 May 08 - 07:33 PM

A friend of mine recently reminded me that one of Johnny Carson's favorite jokes was his nominee for the least-frequently said sentence in English: "Look at the banjo player's Mercedes".


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 May 08 - 07:53 PM

Yeah, I'm beginning to get the impression that there are chains being yanked here. . . .

I like to sing folk songs and ballads and such. And if someone wants to give me good money to listen to me sing, I'm sure as hell gonna take it!

And not feel the least bit guilty about it!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 07 May 08 - 08:02 PM

Tredegar House yet. It's only £5 for camping. Singing is free. The Friday concert is only £3!

sal


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: mattkeen
Date: 08 May 08 - 06:46 AM

Why doesn't original poster say who they are and stop these trolling type of posts


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 08 May 08 - 07:13 AM

More fun that way - like knocking on someone's door and then running away


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 08 May 08 - 08:06 AM

Bob Snider's song "Darn Folksinger" tells it like it is re the unfortunate propensity of folksingers to accept remuneration.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: treewind
Date: 08 May 08 - 10:04 AM

That song's not about folk music, it's about busking, and while there's plenty of folk-singing buskers it's perfectly possible to be either without being the other.

Nice irony in the song though!


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Sean Belt
Date: 08 May 08 - 01:27 PM

A couple of weeks ago my musical partner and I spent four hours playing folk music for a couple hundred of the wealthiest people in town while they dined on ribs, chicken, and fine wines as part of their "Hoedown" night. The premise of the anonymous starter of this thread seems to suggest that these rich patrons should have expected to have gotten our services for free even though they were perfectly willing to pay for the use of the hall, the food, wine, open bar, waitstaff, and all the rest.

Nonsense. Whether I've spent my time learning folk music or string quartets, my time and talent have a value. If someone wants to make use of them, they have to be open to paying for them.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 08 May 08 - 02:00 PM

With much respect to all posters here.
I tend to spend my time playing at home.
The cost of driving around the country is becoming more prohibitive as the years go by.
My audience of one (me) seems to enjoy it.
Am I a bad folkie?
Discuss.
Ralphie


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 08 May 08 - 02:06 PM

Mind you.
It's not much of a money spinner!
R


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 08 May 08 - 03:02 PM

I don't think it matters who started this thread, the point is it's opened up a much needed debate.

Sal


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Peace
Date: 08 May 08 - 03:36 PM

Debate about what?


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 May 08 - 03:53 PM

I blame Walkabout verse.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 08 May 08 - 03:58 PM

'Debate about what?'
Exactly. The question is fairly simple and straight forward. Should anyone be making money out of Folk?

My answer is, bloody right I'll accept money for performance.

'Gee...and what IS folk music, anyway?'

Don't even go there...... *LOL*

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: DonMeixner
Date: 08 May 08 - 04:32 PM

I am an entertainer and I get paid to entertain. The medium I chose to entertain with is up to me. I stopped thinking of my self as a folksinger and story teller many years ago. I actually preffer Entertainer to Folksinger. I get a lot more latitude that way.

I supoose you can substitute a lot of things with entertainer. Politician, Televangelical, and Conservative Talk Show Host come to mind most immediately. And they must be entertaining as I find myself laughing right out loud at the TV and car radio quite a bit these days.

Don


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 May 08 - 04:42 PM

I recall one afternoon when I was sitting in Len Hanson's office (Len Hanson was the producer of the weekly Seattle Center Hootenannies in 1963) when he got a phone call. He talked to the caller for a moment, then said, "Just a moment, please," and asked me if I was free to do a gig that evening. He mentioned how much I would be paid. It wasn't much, but I was free, so I said "Fine." He wrote down the address and handed it to me.

Hanson gave out a lot of work to those who were singing in the Seattle Center Hootenannies. People who wanted to hire a singer knew that Hanson had a long list of singers, and although he was not any kind of an agent, he did this sort of thing as a favor to his "stable" of performers.

I didn't have my own transportation then, and the time constraints were such that I had to take a cab out to where I lived to change clothes and pick up my guitar, then take another cab to the engagement. The cab fare ate up a goodly chunk of what I'd be paid, but I figured, "Oh, what the heck!"

So I sang for the requested half-hour. Then the person who had contacted Hanson wrote me out a check for the agreed upon amount.   I thanked him and started to stick the check into my wallet. He cleared his throat and said, "Umm  . . most of the entertainers who perform for us usually endorse the checks back to us as a contribution. This is a charity, you know."

No, I didn't know. Suddenly I felt myself in an awkward situation. By the time I got back home that night, the gig would wind up costing me money. Not much, but still.

The situation was similar to that described in Sean Ruprecht-Belt's post at 08 May 08 - 01:27 p.m. It was a banquet, and the people who had been invited were all pretty wealthy, and had been invited so the directors of the charity could mine them for contributions. One of the inducements to come, in addition to the food, was that there would be entertainment. The person they had originally hired had pooped out on them at the last minute, so they called Len Hanson to hire a pinch-hitter—me. Most of the people I entertained that evening could afford to spill more money than I was being paid.

I made a decision.

"I'm sorry," I said, then I explained the cab rides and the economics involved. Then I told him, "I make my living as a singer and music teacher, and no one told me that this was to be a benefit performance. In the future, you might want to make that clear." Then I put my wallet, containing the check, back into my pocket.

He wasn't happy, but then, he was anticipating getting, easily, several thousand times more than my meager fee in contributions from the assembled big-wigs.

I do a lot of singing for free, just for the fun of it. But—I established a policy early on:   If someone is making money out of the fact that I'm singing somewhere, then I have to have a cut of it. I do make exceptions, such as charities, retirement homes, and such. But—I insist on being the one who decides who I will sing for pro bono.

Dave Van Ronk once mentioned (and I have found this to be true for me, too) that he got a lot of requests to sing for free, often accompanied by the comment that "This doesn't pay anything, but it will be good exposure for you." Van Ronk then remarked, "People have been known to die of exposure!"

It's entertainment, folks (see similar thread, "Entertainment vs. Folk"). If a pop singer, a clown, a piano player, a stand-up comic, a juggler, an opera singer, or a guy making balloon animals gets paid to entertain, then why should a singer of folk songs not be paid as well?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: M.Ted
Date: 08 May 08 - 06:14 PM

I've been involved in fundraising events from both sides, Don, and have seen that stunt pulled before. It happens when the event costs more than expected and brings in less--which happens a lot more often than you realize.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 May 08 - 03:16 AM

*Laura*

but it existed and survived without people paying for it.

The point I was trying to make is that there has never been a time when people have not paid for music, just as there has never been a time when people have enjoyed it for free. Whether it is the latest rock band at Wembley stadium, the singer at the Music Hall, the kings Bard or, presumably, the cave man being fed for drumming out a particularly funky beat:-)

You seem to imply that there was a time when no music was paid for and I still ask; when was that? We do not know if it would survive without, because there has never been such a time and there never will be.

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: trevek
Date: 09 May 08 - 03:37 AM

As a Punch and Judy performer I've had the odd attempt at a free show used on me (I do sometimes give free shows). My favourite one is "Oh, well I thought as it was for kids you might do it for nothing!" "Hmmm, let's see how far that gets you in Mothercare or Toys-R-Us"


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: mattkeen
Date: 09 May 08 - 05:38 AM

No its not a much needed debate - its a non issue, of course people should be paid if other people think they are worth paying to see and hear.
Its the sort of tosh that gets served up by people who should know better.


I am spending most of the next week paying to go and see professionals and semi professionals at gigs - it will probably be great, if past experience of the following performers is anything to go by

They include: Duncan Macfarlane band, john tams and batty coope, chris wood and hugh lupton, horses brawl, lark rise band, whapweasal

It will be a privilege to pay to hear them, and in the meantime I will also enjoy listening to myself trying to master some tunes from Brackley, my mate Rob Bray (we are semi pros) and a few people who are not paid but are really good like Jeff at the Great Knight Club in Northampton.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 09 May 08 - 06:30 AM

You seem to imply that there was a time when no music was paid for and I still ask; when was that?

If we're talking folk music, then the answer is 650BC - 1850AD (approx).

For centuries, 99% (substitute your own percentage) of traditional music was sung/created wherever 'ordinary' people gathered. I'm struggling to understand where money played a part. Sure, there've been minstrels, ballad writers/sellers, publishers etc trying to eke out a living, but they were peripheral at best. Or am I missing something?


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: glueman
Date: 09 May 08 - 07:14 AM

The commodification of folk music is a different issue to the money thing. When the public twigged some singers were better, knew more songs and played their instruments in tune more often than the chap in the Grey Horse - and you could see him two stations along the line for thruppence - the game was up for Old Ned at The Nag.
Somewhere along the way folk music moved from being the music of the people to an exercise in connoisseurship. Once the shortcomings were dwelt upon as exemplary by the 'informed' it wasn't folk any more. Folk revival is not folk in the true sense and it's crazy to describe it in those terms.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Grab
Date: 09 May 08 - 07:30 AM

but they were peripheral at best

Rubbish - as it is today, they were the example of quality that less skilled musicians aspired to.

For centuries, people have knocked nails or pegs into bits of wood to hold stuff together. Anyone can do it to some approximate kind fo standard. It hasn't stopped carpentry existing as a profession, for situations where a higher standard is called for. Ditto baking, cooking, building, farming, fighting, cesspit-digging, clothes-making, etc, etc.. Music is just another one. Just because you put the word "folk" in front of it, it doesn't change anything.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 09 May 08 - 07:49 AM

as it is today, they were the example of quality that less skilled musicians aspired to.

Rubbish - name one pre-1850 traditional singer that Joe public 'aspired to' - and was paid money. Folk singing back then was a communal/participatory activity. Only in comparatively recent times has it become a performance/receptive one and THAT'S when serious money entered the equation.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Mr Red
Date: 09 May 08 - 08:16 AM

As
<hushed tones> Martin Carthy </hushed tones>
says

You can do anything to Folk and it will survive, except ignore it.

OK, I would not dare to disagree with the MBE, though I have to add there are a lot of things you can do to Folk and it won't stick in my mind - which is a way of defining "surviving" for one individual (me).

And there are people who will do it to Folk and I can happily ignore them, and their endeavours.

Money is an agenda and too much of it distorts the product. Which is probably why Martin asked for smaller fees than his comtemporaries, and was criticised for it. But then Paul Simon charged too much for his appearances (according to those at the time) and where is he now? In "Folk" or "Entertainment"? And Folk survived.

So is the "Observer" hiding their agenda?


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 May 08 - 08:51 AM

Without television, iPods, and video games, they didn't have much to do but participate if they wanted amusement. It doesn't mean that "the people" created, though,-- music has always been created by songwriters and composers, made popular by performers/entertainers, and then learned from them by "the people".


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 May 08 - 08:56 AM

Sminky

If we're talking folk music, then the answer is 650BC - 1850AD (approx).

So between 650BC and 1850AD no-one was paid to sing folk music. I'm intrigued. Maybe you can

a) prove it and

b) define folk music.

Have fun.

:D


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 09 May 08 - 09:08 AM

a) Sorry, Dave, the onus is on you (just one scrap of evidence from anywhere that singers were paid will do).

b) No.

It's Friday, I will certainly have fun.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: glueman
Date: 09 May 08 - 09:16 AM

Most of us like folk music in some form or another (or why would we be here?) but some are less enthusiastic about an unthinking, generic delivery that has long since passed into parody. A few claim that performance is the only one worth listening to and certainly the only stuff that can be called folk. It's patent nonsense alongside the dogma that rock and roll died on the plane with Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper, or atonal, serial music killed romanticism but it acts as a compass for those who need such things.
Fortunately most of us just keep our ears open and don't require a backstory to prove what's good.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Mr Red
Date: 09 May 08 - 09:25 AM

So between 650BC and 1850AD no-one was paid to sing folk music?
John Dowland
Turlough O'Caralan
Banjo Paterson

They may not have been considered Folk in their day - but after a hundred years or more - the distinction is fading.

& - Sir Paul McCartney (you just wait - trust me)

And there are whole threads on "Molly Malone" and who wrote it.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: trevek
Date: 09 May 08 - 09:51 AM

Funny, I'm sure in the Bible it mentions singers being paid (mustn't have been folk musicians, just wedding-bar mitzvah bands).

Romans had paid performers and rates of pay for particular ones, I'm sure.

Ancient Greece... that Orpheus guy mustn't have ben a folkie.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Mark Ross
Date: 09 May 08 - 10:02 AM

When Woody Guthrie was asked to play for a good cause, he replied, "Lady we don't play for bad causes!"

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 09 May 08 - 10:13 AM

Dear me!

John Dowland - composer and lutenist
Turlough O'Carolan - composer and harper
Banjo Paterson - pre 1850?
Ancient Rome?
Ancient Greece?

I'm not asking much here, guys. Just one example in, what?, 1500 years


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Morris-ey
Date: 09 May 08 - 10:13 AM

Mr Observer:

I'm interested.

You have had many replies from which you should be able to make up your mind - since you clearly have no ideas of your own - what do you think?


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 09 May 08 - 10:18 AM

Sorry, that was me.

And sorry, that should be 2500 years.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: artbrooks
Date: 09 May 08 - 10:35 AM

John Dowland: singer-songwriter
Turlough O'Carolan: singer-songwriter
and
Pete Seeger: singer-songwriter

The difference is what, exactly? Oh yeah...Pete doesn't get paid.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Grab
Date: 09 May 08 - 10:40 AM

Singer - don't know. But musician-wise - do the names Paganini and Turlough o'Carolan ring any bells? Both made a decent living from their music.

At the very least, musicians would receive board, lodging and clothing from the rich family putting them up (or at least board and lodging for an itinerant musician staying the night). If you choose this to mean that they weren't paid *money*, then you can try that interpretation, but it's not really a valid reading of the situation in a barter economy (which was generally the case back then) - and even then, itinerant musicians (the folk variety) would be busking for money.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST, Sminky`
Date: 09 May 08 - 11:30 AM

People are starting to give answers to questions that haven't been asked.

This thread is about Money and Folk. I repeat:- name one pre-1850 traditional singer that was paid money.

I can't get much more specific than that.

My original contention was that earning money from 'folk' music in the period 650BC - 1850BC was, at best, a peripheral activity. I have yet to be convinced otherwise.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: artbrooks
Date: 09 May 08 - 11:51 AM

Smirky, what information do you have that indicates that neither O'Carolan nor Dowland were paid money? And what is it that you consider to be "folk music", anyway?


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 09 May 08 - 12:58 PM

Art:

Dowland was a court musician in Paris, Denmark and London. He was a professional composer and musician. He was paid a salary by his various patrons. So was Mozart. So was Handel. No difference.

O'Carolan was a composer and musician who sang for his supper. He may or may not have been paid in cash. You can argue the toss over whether he was a 'folk' musician or a classical composer.

Now tell me how this alters my contention that earning money from 'folk' music (use the 1954 definition, if you wish) in the period 650BC - 1850BC was, at best, a peripheral activity.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 09 May 08 - 01:27 PM

Seems to me that the asker of this question never specified a time frame in the first place; why, all of a sudden, has this changed?

Frankly this is beginning to sound like yet another 'what is folk music' thread, something the world really doesn't need IMO

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 09 May 08 - 02:27 PM

I'm afraid that GUEST,Sminky is suffering from the pastoral notion that afflicts many aficionados of folk music, a sort of "shepherds and milkmaids" ownership of songs and ballads that spontaneous composed themselves. Be not downcast, Sminky, because many of the early collectors of this material suffered from the same romantic misconception. For a somewhat more accurate picture, I recommend obtaining a copy of The Wandering Scholars by Helen Waddell.

The line between what we now call "folk music" and composed song has always been pretty fuzzy. As we know (and has been argued incessantly in thread after thread here on Mudcat), once the initial composer's identity has faded into the mists of antiquity but the song or songs he or she has produced are remembered and sung by a fairly wide and diverse number of people, they begin to fall into the category of what we refer to as "folk songs."

And sometimes it goes the other way. Many composers make use of "folk themes." In fact, this is the recommended method ("quotations" of folk songs in a composed work) for composers who wish their music to have a "national character." Examples: the song "Goin' Home" in Dvorak's "New World Symphony, "Simple Gifts" in Copland's "Appalachian Spring," many others.

Composed music and folk music are inextricably linked. As is the matter of payment for the performance of either.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 09 May 08 - 02:30 PM

And, I should add, always has been.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 May 08 - 05:49 PM

a) Sorry, Dave, the onus is on you (just one scrap of evidence from anywhere that singers were paid will do).

The onus is not on me at all, sminky. You want me to prove that people before 1850 were paid to sing? Just look up the records of any theatre for heavens sake. Shakespears own Globe theatre had paid singers. What do you want me to do, come round to your house with written records?

I am just back from an excelent night btw - Snake Davies was brilliant. Does it all for love of course. No money involved...:-)

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 May 08 - 05:59 PM

Oh yea, and

My original contention was that earning money from 'folk' music in the period 650BC - 1850BC was, at best, a peripheral activity. I have yet to be convinced otherwise.

You are making the distinction of 'folk' music, yet, when challenged, you refused point blank to define it. I have never made the distinction. As far as I am concerned all music is folk music. And people who are good enough have always been paid to perform it.

Are you suggesting that people like Mozart and Haydn were never paid? Or are you saying that Mozart and Haydn did not perform folk music?

Hope you enjoyed your night as much as me. Did you actualy PAY to see anyone?

:D


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 09 May 08 - 06:27 PM

The wandering minstrel or troubadour ~ singing songs he had not written himself, but gleaned from the singing of others ~ in the village square as people drop a few coppers in his hat.

"Busking" (although it was not called that in the middle ages) is an ancient tradition.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,DonMeixner
Date: 09 May 08 - 06:46 PM

I would bet any begger who sang a song and held out his hat and accepted a penny was paid for the song. The history of begging is full of such instances where people who otherwise would be asking for spare change were exchanginging a service instead. I recall, perhaps wrongly, that Henry VIII outlawed begging unless a service was provided.

And if the Henry reference is wrong Gypsy musicians, wandering Klezmorim, The Wren Boys, all from different cultures, all got paid for a song or a piece of music. Usually when gathered at Trade fairs, horse auctions, religious holiday feasts.

Don


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 09 May 08 - 07:10 PM

And many of the songs that they sang are what we now call "folk songs."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Giant Folk Eyeball (inactive)
Date: 09 May 08 - 07:35 PM

Is there not also a tradition of a fair few of our traditional English songs being associated with licensed begging? (in other words, performing for money, food and beer - especially beer). See Ronald Hutton, "Stations of the Sun" for more details. In fact see it anyway - it's a very good read and he's a great proponent of evidence-base history. Of course people have always sung for pleasure - unmitigated by commerce and money - and especially in pre-radio and record player days. But to claim that that was the be-all and end all sounds like taking a present day argument within folk music and trying to force an historic precedent on it.

Meanwhile, I'm rather enjoying Alison Krauss and Percy on Later.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Grab
Date: 09 May 08 - 08:36 PM

Sminky, the thread is about *remuneration* and folk. In the current world, money is the only way of getting remuneration for work, but it's not the only way. "Paid for" does not automatically mean coins and banknotes. Since you're trying to make an artificial distinction between receiving money in a cash-based society and receiving board/lodging/clothing/instruments in a barter-based society, would you be happier if admission to the next Martin Carthy concert was priced at three chickens and a cow?

But still, the best ones *were* paid, both in kind and in money. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minstrel "Initially, minstrels were simply servants at Court". Servant=paid. "Another type of performers...were the gleemen, who had no settled abode, but roamed about from place to place, earning what they could from their performances." It's only Wikipedia, but I don't see the need to look any further.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 09 May 08 - 09:07 PM

This is basically one of the same points that Helen Waddell makes in The Wandering Scholars.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 11 May 08 - 07:13 AM

Something else has been puzzling me a lot. How come singers were paid before 650BC and then all of sudden it stopped? What happened in 650BC? The banning of payment for singing by the ancient Egyptians? The abolition of theatres in Theselonia? An attempt to stem the cacophony of the Celts?

Tell us please. It's driving me mad!

Cheers

:D


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 11 May 08 - 03:13 PM

Lousy union?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Mark Ross
Date: 11 May 08 - 03:45 PM

As Utah Phillips says, "You want to make a million dollars playing Folk Music? Start with 2 million!"

I've been doing this for 40 years or so and I've learned that there are tens of dollars to be made.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Anne Lister
Date: 11 May 08 - 05:32 PM

Seems to me a somewhat confused question from Sminky, so no wonder the answers are confused. When was the term "folk" first applied to specific types of songs anyway? Why would we have records of payment (or, more bizarre still, NON payment) to "traditional singers" when the concept of a "traditional singer" wasn't present in the first place? Even among contemporary source ("traditional") singers there's not always much of a distinction between the various songs in their repertoire. My fairly educated guess is that it was always much the same.

Now for singer songwriters it's an easy one - troubadours were certainly paid, and paid well,and there was a big difference between troubadours and strolling minstrels. But even the strolling minstrels needed food and beds.

Generally speaking, we reward skills and talents now as we have always done. A good musician is worth paying, just as a good artist is worth paying and a good sportsman or woman is worth paying. We may disagree about the levels of remuneration, and we may disagree about the quality of their work, but if someone is making their art or skill into their main bread and butter work the only decision any of us have to make is whether we dip into our own pockets to help them along or not. And how far we dip into those pockets. Why should the music we choose to call "folk" be any different?

Anne
folk singer marries actor ...anyone care to point out the problem with this scenario? *g*


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Kent Davis
Date: 11 May 08 - 11:15 PM

Two singers of traditional songs who, before 1850, were being paid:
Thomas D. Rice http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_D._Rice

George Washington Dixon http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington_Dixon

Kent Davis


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 12 May 08 - 07:16 AM

I am trying to wade through a shoal of red herrings here.

Dave:
Since you assert that "I have never made the distinction. As far as I am concerned all music is folk music." then plainly it's no use arguing with you. I concede that Freddie and the Dreamers were indeed paid to perform. BTW you should have finished your sentence with "I never heard no........."

Don:
You are suffering from that malady known as 'inverse ploughboys syndrome' whereby any suggestion that rural folk "clustered together in their cottages, but oftener at the road side, or in some favourite alehouse" - (Edwin Waugh, writing before Cecil Sharp had been born) and sang, for the sheer hell of it, is regarded as some kind of mythical romantic fantasy. If you read the eye-witnesses eg the Coppers, Thomas Hardy, Waugh here and here, you will find that country people did actually do that. And, in pre-Industrial Revolution UK, the vast majority of people were country people.

You look at folk music through 21st century eyes. If you were a villager living in 1723 where would you go to listen to/sing folk songs each night - a 'concert' in town (no railways, remember) or your local alehouse? And how much would it cost you? And on how many days of the year would you likely see a minstrel?

Grab:
"Servant=paid." Yes, and servant=employee. Not my idea of a folkie.

YES there were minstrels (the buskers of today), but I repeat - they were peripheral at best (as, indeed, are buskers).


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 12 May 08 - 12:37 PM

why doesn't busking count?

where did the songs everyone sang in so many variations come from?

did a landlord never pay a farthing to entice the better singer to his pub?


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 May 08 - 01:43 PM

I concede that Freddie and the Dreamers were indeed paid to perform.

Freddie and the Dreamers were performing between 650BC and 1850AD? Wow! I didn't know that. What I did know is that "lead singer, Freddie Garrity worked as a milkman and had played in a series of local Manchester skiffle groups - The Red Sox, the John Norman Four and finally The Kingfishers" (Courtesy of classicbands.com) So, yes, even the redoubtable Mr G was indeed a folky!

BTW you should have finished your sentence with "I never heard no........." Which sentence and why would I want to finish it with more than the standard three dot elipse?

And you still haven't explained what happened in 650BC - Can you let me know in the next 90 minutes (It's now 1840BST) - I'm off to the folk club then and would like to tell the audience something else exciting as well as the fact about Freddie:-)

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 12 May 08 - 01:50 PM

Sminky, I'm not going to take the time to list my credentials (which are substantial, not just as a lifelong performer but as an academician as well), but I don't believe you're qualified to say what I do and do not know. And it was apparent to me from your earlier posts that you are the one who is suffering from the "romantic mythic fantasy."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 May 08 - 03:18 PM

I noticed in answer to a point of Don's you say If you were a villager living in 1723 where would you go to listen to/sing folk songs each night - a 'concert' in town (no railways, remember) or your local alehouse? And how much would it cost you? And on how many days of the year would you likely see a minstrel?

Of course you would go to an alehouse and of course you wouldn't pay. That is because the landlord pays the minstrel to 'drum up custom'. Of course there were many days where they locals would sing for free as well. Pretty much like I paid to see Snake Davis on Friday and I am going to a singaround free tonight. Things in 1723 were not that dissimilar to now I guess.

Just what is your point, Sminky? Are you really trying to say that no performers were paid to sing for over 2.5K yesrs?

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 12 May 08 - 03:22 PM

"they were peripheral at best (as, indeed, are buskers). "

Tell ya what Sminky, I've heard far better music being played by the so-called "peripherals" than I've heard in many a folk club or at many a concert.Indeed I have busked during the summer months, and I don't consider it to be beneath me, infact I have alot of fun...love that word fun :-D

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 12 May 08 - 04:45 PM

Here in Seattle, at the Pike Place Market, where you can buy many things such straight off the farm produce or straight off the boat fish, there are usually quite a number of buskers and street entertainers plying their trade, following, as I said above, an ancient tradition.

But this is the 21st century. I guess if I were a villager or a farmer back in 1723, I would never go to the village square or the local market or fair where I might run the danger of hearing a traveling (or local) singer perform in the hope of gleaning a few coins.

Gosh, I wonder where I went to sell my produce or to buy things - ???

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 May 08 - 07:09 PM

I've heard far better music being played by the so-called "peripherals" than I've heard in many a folk club or at many a concert

Maybe a review of the folk clubs and concerts you attend would be in order? Personaly I have heard many good fringe sessions but I don't think I have ever heard Christy Moore on a street corner or Steeleye Span at a singaround. Maybe I should review my fringe sessions?

and I don't consider it to be beneath me, infact I have alot of fun...

Why on earth would you? Is anyone suggesting that it is beneath anyone? And why are you suggesting that professional performance is in some way less fun and inferior to unpaid performance? This just seems to be reverse snobbery gone mad!

Cheers

:D


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 13 May 08 - 06:09 AM

Tom:
why doesn't busking count?
It does - but it's peripheral and always has been.

where did the songs everyone sang in so many variations come from?
From people gathering together as part of their daily routine and singing.

did a landlord never pay a farthing to entice the better singer to his pub?
I don't know, but nobody has produced any evidence that he did.

Dave:
even the redoubtable Mr G was indeed a folky!
According to you everyone is a folky.

Are you really trying to say that no performers were paid to sing for over 2.5K yesrs?
I'm asking for evidence that the payment of money/goods (pre-1850) in a folk setting was anything other than peripheral.

I'm off to the folk club then and would like to tell the audience something else exciting
Tell them "Things in 1723 were not that dissimilar to now". You'll have them rolling in the aisles.

Don:
I don't believe you're qualified to say what I do and do not know
That works both ways. No academician would interpret my comments to mean that "ballads that spontaneous composed themselves". Or perhaps you could point out where I said that? (BTW it's 'spontaneously'). No academician would dismiss so cursorily eyewitness evidence that rural folk would gather at work and play and just SING. And no academician would resort to petty points-scoring and name-calling just because someone's opinions don't happen to gel with their own.

Charlotte:
I've heard far better music being played by the so-called "peripherals" than I've heard in many a folk club
Me too.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 13 May 08 - 07:02 AM

You're missing the connections between my questions.

Human nature has not changed much throughout recorded history. Just because we have no evidence for something in the past does not suggest it didn't happen exactly the way it does now. I don't think you can seriously call busking peripheral (I'd ask what evidence you have but see my earlier sentence). Most singing was of course casual, spontaneous and unpaid - as it still is today. But if you want to study the tradition seriously you can't separate the activity from the repertoire. Some songs (particularly chant based) may have evolved naturally, and I'm sure people wrote for fun in every village. But looking at the quality of the songs that have survived we can surmise that bulk of the material we have today (and which they had then) was circulated, (sometimes in written form), and even possibly composed by the people you dismiss as buskers (I assume you're including wandering players, troubadours, and ballad singers in that 'peripheral' category). I'd say that was disrespectful to honest tradespeople who gave us something special. But you attitude is, sadly, not rare. The same thing happens today. People assure me that folk music is entirely about amateurs getting together for fun. But the vast majority of the songs I hear were learned by one medium or another from people who - through one trade or another - have some financial interest in music. That's life - and it was ever thus. There is certainly evidence of players being paid for dances, as well as to entertain - and again it is likely that the more committed and active musicians will have had the biggest influence on the tradition. And as for the behaviour of landlords through the ages, it's such a no-brainer that I feel entitled to say that if you believe they never paid singers, and you feel evidence is necessary, perhaps you can supply proof that they did not.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 13 May 08 - 07:44 AM

I'd agree. I'd seems to me impossible that there was a time when people have not received money for folk.

People assure me that folk music is entirely about amateurs getting together for fun.

I think there is a lot of confusion about this. Sure there are plenty, like myself who's biggest enjoyment tends to come from the informal (which in my experience btw can include pros and semi pros) events and I'd guess there others, like myself who have liked to try to put on paid acts without compulsory charges but to suggest there never has/should be money in it is nonsense... (and let's be honest, I've made money busking, have taken the odd £10, free bar tabs, etc. at certain times in the past...).

As I think we agreed (eventually, I hadn't understood where you were coming from at first) in another recent thread, we will eventually come back to the same points. The most important of which IMO is that the healthiest situation for folk music is a combination of all these interests (and for that matter abilities) and the understanding of different positions.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 13 May 08 - 07:55 AM

Indeed Jon. You need both horse and wheels to keep the cart rolling.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 13 May 08 - 08:05 AM

Tell ya what Sminky, I've heard far better music being played by the so-called "peripherals" than I've heard in many a folk club or at many a concert.

There are remarkable abilities with in the ranks of buskers, amatuer floor singers ans session players for sure and personally, in terms of musical ability, I think the best from these areas are more capable than some pros.

I'm not sure that provides a full or fair picture though as sheer musical ability is not (at least as far as I can tell) the only factor in giving a good performance. What I'd expect more than anything if say I was (not that I do) booking an act for a folk club from a pro is the ability to relate to the audience, perhaps assess the mood of the room, etc.

I've never been there (and never will) but I think there's a whole range of "stage craft" needed say to hold an hour together that many amateurs who might be able to turn out a blinding song, tune or two probably don't have.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 May 08 - 08:33 AM

What troubles me is the idea that professionals (meaning, in this context, people paid for performing) and amateurs are two entirely separate groups of people. I doubt if any folk (in whatever definition you choose) performer has ever turned down the offer of a few quid, free beer, a square meal... for doing a turn. Some will have made it a regular supplement to their income and some of those will have done well enough to give up their day job.

The idea that there has ever been some sort of Guild of Master Folk Singers strikes me as absurd. Where did they learn their trade? To suggest that the high quality of our traditional music could only arise from professionals seems disrespectful to our heritage and to brush aside the oral tradition as a myth.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Grab
Date: 13 May 08 - 11:02 AM

Sminky, frankly I don't care if you think that a paid servant doesn't qualify as a "folkie" by your personal definition. They were people singing traditional music, who were paid for doing so, and who were role models or aspirational figures for lesser (or younger) musicians. That answers your question.

You might also want to define what you consider to be "peripheral". You might be talking sheer numbers. In which case I'll certainly concede that a stadium full of football fans (or a valley full of football fans, further back in history) will certainly be singing without need of a minstrel. I'll further concede that if you're talking about worksongs or lullabies and nursery rhymes sung to children, then the majority would be sung without payment. But I *will* assert that without the existence of paid singers, the overwhelming majority of songs sung by those people, and the overwhelming majority of songs considered "traditional" today, simply wouldn't exist. Nor would most of the singing techniques exist, nor instrumental techniques, nor song/tune structures, nor dances. They were not created or evolved amongst people shouting out drinking songs, but amongst the few skileld musicians with real talent.

In plain terms, I submit that anyone's contribution to any field is based on their natural talent, training and practise. Those who had (and have, today) natural talent in something and are prepared to do the training and practise will make it - maybe not big, but they'll make it to some degree and contribute to their field. And by being better at it than anyone else, they'll naturally become professionals in that area because they'll enjoy it and be able to charge people for their services. This will further spread their contribution around that area.

Conversely, consider the impact of someone singing at home, or casually in a pub with friends after a few drinks (nothing as formal as the singaround we know today). They're not singing anything new, they're not working on new techniques, they're mostly not doing new arrangements. In the era you're talking about, they wouldn't even be singing anything that everyone else hadn't already heard - remember that a new person in town would be an event back then, both for news and for new ideas from other parts of the country. I'm not saying that people didn't have fun doing this, but they certainly weren't contributing to the genre, any more than some 16-year-old strumming away on a Bob Dylan cover is contributing today.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Leadfingers
Date: 13 May 08 - 11:43 AM

Sadly , in a contest , Money v Folk , Folk woulkdnt stand a chance .


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Leadfingers
Date: 13 May 08 - 11:43 AM

100 !!!


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 May 08 - 11:46 AM

Grab

And by being better at it than anyone else, they'll naturally become professionals in that area

Complete non-sequitur. There is much more to being a professional than the ability to sing or play. Giving up a secure, if dull, job for life on the road and an uncertain future when you've got obligations to family and social ties where you live is not a light decision either now or 200 years go.

Is it inconceivable that someone could be good at something purely for the love of it without getting paid?


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Leadfingers
Date: 13 May 08 - 11:51 AM

Agreeed there Snail - I have known a LOT of excellent performers AND writers who have only ever done low Paid Local gigs (IF they Gig at All) because they either DONT have the need for acclaim or have VERY well paid Day Job and families to keep !


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 13 May 08 - 12:43 PM

"The idea that there has ever been some sort of Guild of Master Folk Singers strikes me as absurd"

No-one has even remotely suggested such a thing Bryan.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 13 May 08 - 12:45 PM

"To suggest that the high quality of our traditional music could only arise from professionals seems disrespectful to our heritage and to brush aside the oral tradition as a myth."

Sorry I should have included that bit too.

Completely missing the point, if i might make so bold - and really rather insulting and divisive too I fear. I'm not going to try to explain because I don't think you will ever understand.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 May 08 - 01:19 PM

Not to put too fine a point on it, Sminky, I believe you revealed the level of you qualifications by attempting to divert my critical comments by picking on a typo in my post. When it comes to "petty," I think you have me beat on that one.

My point stands.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 13 May 08 - 02:02 PM

I don't believe for one moment that the onus of proof is on me, Sminky. You are the one with the contentious and unproven theory that between 650BC (Why on earth that date?) and 1850 people were not paid to perform 'folk' music. An art form for which you refuse to provide a definition anyway.

But, as it happens, one doesn't have to look too far. So how about the following -

BARD. The word is a loanword from descendant languages of Proto-Celtic Bardos, ultimately from Proto-Indo-European: "to raise the voice; praise". The first recorded example is in 1449 from the Scottish Gaelic language into Lowland Scots, denoting an itinerant musician, usually with a contemptuous connotation. The word subsequently entered the English language via Scottish English.

Secondly, in medieval Gaelic and Welsh society, a bard (Scottish and Irish Gaelic) or bardd (Welsh) was a professional poet, employed to compose eulogies for his lord (see planxty). If the employer failed to pay the proper amount, the bard would then compose a satire. (c. f. fili, fáith). In other European societies, the same function was fulfilled by skalds, rhapsodes, minstrels and scops, among others.

Bards or filid were those who sang the songs recalling the tribal warriors' deeds of bravery as well as the genealogies and family histories of the ruling strata among Celtic societies. The pre-Christian Celtic peoples recorded no written histories; however, Celtic peoples did maintain an intricate oral history committed to memory and transmitted by bards and filid. Bards facilitated the memorization of such materials by the use of poetic meter and rhyme.


The Bardic tradition ran from Pre-roman times to the middle ages (In Ireland) There is ample documentary evidence. Sorry if it doesn't fit with your views.

A little further search and a little later on we find Minstrels and troubadours.

A minstrel was a medieval European bard who performed songs whose lyrics told stories about distant places or about (real or imaginary) historical events. Though minstrels created their own tales, often they would memorize and embellish the works of others. Frequently they were retained by royalty and high society. As the courts became more sophisticated, minstrels were eventually replaced at court by the troubadours, and many became wandering minstrels, performing in the streets and became well liked until the middle of the Renaissance, despite a decline beginning in the late 15th century. Minstrelsy fed into later traditions of itinerant entertainers, which continued to be moderately strong into the early 20th century, and which has some continuity down to today's buskers or street musicians.

Want some Renaissance stuff?

By the middle of the 15th century, composers and singers from the Low Countries and adjacent areas began to overspread Europe, moving especially into Italy where they were employed by the papal chapel and the aristocratic patrons of the arts, such as the Medici, the Este family in Ferrara, and the Sforza family in Milan. They carried their style with them: smooth polyphony which could be adapted for sacred or secular use as appropriate. Principal forms of sacred musical composition at the time were the mass, the motet, and the laude; secular forms included the chanson, the frottola, and later the madrigal.

Notice a pattern here? Throughout the entire period you refer too people were paid, retained, whatever you would like to call it, to perform music. The music was telling of current events and was of the current style. In other words, that dreaded term you will not describe, FOLK music. Non of them worked on the fringes. None were trivialised. They were important members of society.

Now, having said all that, they were no more important than those unpaid farm labourers singing in pubs and modern football hooligans chanting on the terraaces when it comes to their contribution to folk music. But to deny their existance at all. A mistake surely?

And I still want to know how 650BC fits in:-)

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Peace
Date: 13 May 08 - 02:17 PM

I have one thing to say, and it's a general statement.

When I sing/perform it is for one of a few reasons: I have contracted to or have been asked to by a friend and then I do. However, whatever skills I have took me lots of time to develop, whether that is singing, playing guitar or writing songs. In many ways I have 'paid my dues'. So, either I get paid what I want or I sing for free. I have two words for folks who tell me I should sing for free because what I do is 'just music'. Those words are, uh, well, uh, very much like 'sex and travel'. No offense to anyone.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 13 May 08 - 02:20 PM

"very much like 'sex and travel'. No offense to anyone."

for me it's sex, travel and funeral arrangements *LOL*


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Peace
Date: 13 May 08 - 02:50 PM

LOLOL

Never heard that one before. Consider it 'absconded with'.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Grab
Date: 13 May 08 - 07:14 PM

And by being better at it than anyone else, they'll naturally become professionals in that area

Complete non-sequitur. There is much more to being a professional than the ability to sing or play.


Not a complete non-sequitur. Let's say they have the *opportunity* to become professionals in that area, then. If you're not better at it than other people though, lack of ability rules out that profession for you.

Giving up a secure, if dull, job for life on the road and an uncertain future when you've got obligations to family and social ties where you live is not a light decision either now or 200 years go. Is it inconceivable that someone could be good at something purely for the love of it without getting paid?

Not at all - I'm one of them. :-) But because I'm not putting the time in on music, I accept that I'm only doing it for fun. I don't expect to be an aspirational figure for anyone to look up to and say "I want to be able to play like him", the way you would with people like Michael McGoldrick, Bob Brozman or Doc Watson. Nor do I expect to contribute significantly to human knowledge or experience in what I do musically.

And being "good at something" requires practise. If your day-job is music, then you might well practise 7 hours a day (when touring permits). The professional who can put in the practise time is almost always going to be better than the part-time amateur who can't. And the professional can't do that unless they have another source of income, which typically means getting paid for playing. (Or these days, retiring and having a secure pension.)

By the way, let's remember about the "uncertain future" that generally choosing music as a profession is almost always for young adults whose future is *inherently* uncertain.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Leadfingers
Date: 13 May 08 - 07:25 PM

When Bob Copper's grandfather (He who wrote all the words of the songs he knew in a Hard Cover notebook in 1920thingy) was singing for beer in the pub in Peacehaven , was he a folk Singer ? Or a semi-Professional entetrtainer ?


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 13 May 08 - 07:34 PM

both - there's no conflict of interest


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 May 08 - 07:39 PM

Agreed. Both

I believe Jean Ritchie (Singing Family of the Cumberlands, born and raise in the tradition) gets paid for concerts and other performances. Does that make her any less of a folk singer? Not that I can see.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 May 08 - 08:40 PM

Leadfingers

When Bob Copper's grandfather ...

Peacehaven didn't exist in "Brasser" Copper's time. Since he was bailiff of a 3000 acre farm in charge of 65 men, he probably didn't have time for 7 hours practice a day. Whether he had to sing for his beer in the Black Horse in Rottingdean is debatable since his brother Thomas was the landlord.

Was he a folk singer? I think so. Whether or not he was a professional is utterly irrelevant.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 14 May 08 - 02:53 AM

I don't expect to be an aspirational figure for anyone to look up to and say "I want to be able to play like him", the way you would with people like Michael McGoldrick,

I doubt too many pros expect to either.

Thinking of the wind instruments, the best/my favourite whistle player I came across was an amateur, lectured in a University and not in music and didn't even do very occassional music booking I know of. She did have the advantage of belonging to a "competition" Irish family though and had been at the top end of things in childhood and I believe won one the all Ireland championship (from what I remember being told, being relieved when the pressure was finally off).

I guess that might be an extreme example but by my assessments I've met quite a few who don't do semi-pro work who's musical abilities I think are above that of a number of pros I've heard.

Of course we might not know the backgrounds of these people but following on from your "pro arguments" based on hard work done, if you could do it, would your 7 hrs a day make up for that sort of missed childhood background I mentioned above? Or perhaps for maybe getting lets say getting grade 8 violin, maybe following up with a music degree before becoming an amateur session player?

I suppose the answer is maybe, maybe not. One thing I feel sure of in practice though is I've been in situations occasionally over the years where I could say put together a line up of say 6 of the strongest players present and I'd feel it a safe bet that there would be no way (except chance) you could identify which one was the professional.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 May 08 - 03:18 AM

I didn't know that about the Coppers, Bryan. Next time someone tells me the Coppers were farm labourers who sang for their beer I know what to tell them! Clever businessmen who knew exacly what they were doing!

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 14 May 08 - 04:45 AM

I don't think we can pin too much argument onto one family at one point in time. This discussion is about the importance or otherwise of money in the development of traditional music - over a millennium.

And I don't think it's very that relevant that, yes, some amateurs are vastly better players and singers than those who sometimes or usually accept money. They are today and always have been. The relevant factors are that a) to take money off people you need to be able to impress them, and this need filters out weaker contributors. And b), that trade-musicians/writers/singers/distributors will tend to have more influence than those who only sing/write/play/distribute within their immediate community.

These are simple facts about which there can be surely no dispute.

Where the dispute occurs is when people seek to deny the influence of commerce in music through the ages.

This romantic and wholly erroneous view stems mainly from the romantic and/or political notions of various influential collectors in the past - and it's left us with a dangerous and divisive muddle which makes me want to howl with frustration.

Why? Because it leads directly to the sort of thinking - based on what is essentially a lie - that people who make money from music are to be mistrusted, or resented or seen as some kind of a threat - when in fact they should be respected and thanked for their contribution.

The see-saw has been sat with one end stuck in the lawn for 100 years.

We badly need to re-balance our thinking about traditional music - and I'm delighted to read so many erudite, informed and passionate posts above to that end.

But what makes me want to do much worse than howl with frustration is when people claim that any effort to redress the balance is a demand to bury the other end of the see-saw in the sand-pit.

I'll return to my cart analogy.

For a long time there has been a 'folk faith' that the cart sailed up hill and down dale without the need for any horse. All we are saying is that is a fallacy. Please remove pink glasses and notice that sweating animal in front of you. He may smell a bit, and make some embarrassing noises, but he's doing his bit as well. And by saying this we are NOT NOT NOT claiming that the cart neither has, nor needs, wheels. The horse would have been dead, flogged, and unable to sing or neigh long long long ago.

And before anyone chips in to pick holes in my metaphors - they are just metaphors, ok?

The reality is a complex and shifting story, with many strands and streams and shades and nuances and contradictions and any number of other weasel words.

But for goodness sake PLEASE let's start basing our opinions and beliefs on reality, and treating eachother accordingly.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 14 May 08 - 04:55 AM

And I don't think it's very that relevant that, yes, some amateurs are vastly better players and singers than those who sometimes or usually accept money.

Nor me but I will challenge those who suggest it's not the case.

The relevant factors are that a) to take money off people you need to be able to impress them, and this need filters out weaker contributors. And b), that trade-musicians/writers/singers/distributors will tend to have more influence than those who only sing/write/play/distribute within their immediate community.

a) for sure. The "base level" is undoubtedly far higher and has to be.

b) sounds reasonable to me.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 14 May 08 - 05:08 AM

And you're right to challenge anyone who says that, Jon - it's obviously plain nonsense and equally insulting.

But the key issue here is influence - not quality.

Important in times gone by and massively, overwhelmingly so post-revival.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 14 May 08 - 05:17 AM

Sorry - I just have to add this as I've become so used to being massively misunderstood here..

Bob Copper's Grandfather writing all the words of all the songs he knew in a notebook was a 'wheel' event. A really important one - but it was still only of influence within his family and community.

Bob's publication of those songs in print and on record was a 'horse' event - and that's the one that had the influence, because without it they'd still be at the back of a drawer in the sideboard.

See?

BOTH


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Grab
Date: 14 May 08 - 05:52 AM

Jon, my point wasn't that non-professionals can't play well - clearly that would be incorrect. My point is that non-professionals aren't the ones who push the music forward. To use Tom's wonderful analogy, they aren't "horses".

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 14 May 08 - 06:06 AM

OK, sorry I missunderstood you, grab.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 14 May 08 - 06:09 AM

"In almost every country village there is a stock of well-known songs and stories in the dialect, of various qualities, the best of which have seldom risen to the dignity of being printed, even on a broadsheet; yet they maintain their hold on the minds and in the hearts of our villagers, by whom the songs of our greatest singers are altogether uncared for, and almost unknown; and with whom even the popular street lyrics of our large towns obtain only a transient resting place before they pass away into obscurity.... And we have little doubt that the singer has greatest influence, and is most loved by the people who, avoiding all elaborate forms of expression and high flights of sentiment, comes to them in their own simple way, and, with their own homely phrases, weaves his songs, as it were, with a musical thread into portions of their every-day life."

[J.Ramsbottom, "Writing in the Dialect", undated newspaper cutting in John Harland's Scrapbook of Manchester and District]


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 14 May 08 - 06:35 AM

Your point being?

That is a beautiful celebration of the wheels in motion - one vital strand of tradition, but not the only one - as is clear form Ramsbottom's own words. It looks to me like he himself is doing a small, valuable rebalancing act here, reminding his readers of the essential importance and quality of local dialect orally-transmitted material when perhaps they were forgetting it, or had never known about it.

It fits right in with what we've been saying. It does not say that lyric sheets are not influential in the 'large towns' or nation as a whole. Quite the opposite, if anything.

This is about influence, NOT quality, remember.

(Or do you ONLY admit folk music to be that present in rural communities at a time before recordings, which was only ever orally shared and never written out, and was never ever heard from a singer or player who took a farthing? If so then everything you say is absolutely correct, but your repertoire will be teeny tiny weeny compared to everyone else's, and your arguments irrelevant to the the discussion here).


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 May 08 - 06:58 AM

Dave Polshaw

I didn't know that about the Coppers, Bryan.

It's all here - Copper Family.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 May 08 - 07:17 AM

Thanks Bryan - Nice bit of lunchtime reading there:-)

Sminky - I can only repeat Tom's question. What is your point with the quote? It doesn't say anywhere that no-one was paid to sing. Just that some songs and singers go 'unknown and uncared for', something that no-one is disputing. There always have and always will be a majority who will go unnoticed. In any art form, not just 'folk'. It is the minority who become nationaly renowned and then, by virtue of the fact that they have become so, also become widely influential.

Love the horse and cart analogy, Tom. Maybe the carter could also be included - It is he who decides where both go. Or is that market forces? ;-)

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Snuffy
Date: 14 May 08 - 08:53 AM

I think that both sides are right to some extent:

Yes, the paid professionals created the songs in the first place and distributed them to the general public. Without them most songs would not exist.

But it was the unpaid, non-professionals who took some of that output to their hearts, and kept it alive (if sometimes radically changed) for a century or two by actually continuing to sing the songs, while ignoring other songs created and distributed in exactly the same manner, allowing them to die out.

Being adopted and adapted by "the common folk" is what makes it a folk song, not (necessarily) being created by them. And if they don't take to it, then it's merely an antiquarian curiosity.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 14 May 08 - 09:11 AM

I think you'll find that's exactly what one 'side' is saying, Snuffy.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Snuffy
Date: 14 May 08 - 09:21 AM

I'm afraid it's not at all apparent to me which "side" that might be, though.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 14 May 08 - 10:29 AM

(sigh)

There are those who suggest that money/commerce/professionalism has no relevance in folk music, and never has. ('side' A)

And there are those who say that is not the case - that an element of commerce has been and remains a factor - but only a factor, while the unpaid element is crucial too. (Both 'sides' A+B)

No-one has suggested that money/commerce/professionalism is MORE important than the oral/amateur element (your other 'side' B) though people have been wrongly accused of doing so.

Your post supports the middle group very nicely.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 May 08 - 10:47 AM

My problem with the horse and cart metaphor is that it still portrays the amateurs and the professionals as two separate groups whereas, as I tried to explain in my post of 13 May 08 - 08:33 AM, I see the professionasl as being a subset of all the people that go to make up the folk world. The only thing that really distinguishes them is the proportion of their income that comes from their work as performers. I imagine that the number that get ALL their income that way is very small.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 14 May 08 - 10:56 AM

It is a metaphor about locomotion - movement. Not about groups.

And people are discussing levels of influence, not proportion of income.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 14 May 08 - 11:13 AM

GUEST,Tom Bliss

levels of influence, not proportion of income.

Ah, but is there a correlation? If so, which is cause and which is effect?


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 May 08 - 11:38 AM

I don't think anyone is denying that the number of people making a living out of folk music is small. This is true in all walks of life. The number of people making a living out of playing football for instance, compared to the vast numbers who are involved in one way or another is, I suspect, even smaller!

To say that no-one made a living out of it before 1850 is my sticking point. I have endevoured to show that people did indeed make a living out of it then and may even go one step further. I would hazard a guess, and it is just that, that the proportion of people making a living out of it was higher then than now. There were more wandering minstrels and bards then because todays equivelents can spread themselves much further with modern transport and media.

Maybe the horse and cart analogy is a little divisive but as Tom explained it is only a vehicle (pun intended) to get his point across. How about a man selling sweets at a market instead? He cannot manage without the customers. Some of the customers are quite capable of making their own but occasionaly they prefer to have something different. Between them they are satisfying a requirement that is by no means vital but, all in all, makes life more pleasant.

One could indeed manage without the other but at no point in time has such a thing ever happened. Nor should it. It all makes the market place a nicer place to be:-)

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 14 May 08 - 12:16 PM

Forgive me if I interrupt all the supposition, guesswork and wishful-thinking going on here.

I'd just like somebody to point out where anybody said that no-one made a living out of folk music before 1850.

The reason I ask is that I tend to get just a tad suspicious when people feel the need to misrepresent what someone actually wrote.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 14 May 08 - 01:06 PM

Here you go, Sminky.
Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST, Sminky - PM
Date: 09 May 08 - 06:30 AM

You seem to imply that there was a time when no music was paid for and I still ask; when was that?

If we're talking folk music, then the answer is 650BC - 1850AD (approx).

For centuries, 99% (substitute your own percentage) of traditional music was sung/created wherever 'ordinary' people gathered. I'm struggling to understand where money played a part. Sure, there've been minstrels, ballad writers/sellers, publishers etc trying to eke out a living, but they were peripheral at best. Or am I missing something?
Always glad to help.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 May 08 - 01:11 PM

Sminky. Here is an 'audit trail' of how the discussion went vis-a-vis the 1850 argument -

1. The Observer (Thread initiator) - Would folk survive without professional singers and musicians?

2. *laura* - Of course it would. It DID for a long long time.

3. Dave Polshaw - When was that then?

4. *laura* - Dave - when parents sang songs to their kids and workers sang songs in fields and then the kids grew up and they sang the same songs to their kids etc etc

I'm not saying it hasn't been helped by professional singers but it existed and survived without people paying for it.


5. Dave Polshaw - The point I was trying to make is that there has never been a time when people have not paid for music, just as there has never been a time when people have enjoyed it for free. Whether it is the latest rock band at Wembley stadium, the singer at the Music Hall, the kings Bard or, presumably, the cave man being fed for drumming out a particularly funky beat:-)

You seem to imply that there was a time when no music was paid for and I still ask; when was that? We do not know if it would survive without, because there has never been such a time and there never
will be.


This is where you come in,

6. Sminky - (Quoting me) You seem to imply that there was a time when no music was paid for and I still ask; when was that?

Now back to your own words -

If we're talking folk music, then the answer is 650BC - 1850AD (approx).

For centuries, 99% (substitute your own percentage) of traditional music was sung/created wherever 'ordinary' people gathered. I'm struggling to understand where money played a part. Sure, there've been minstrels, ballad writers/sellers, publishers etc trying to eke out a living, but they were peripheral at best. Or am I missing something?


Full circle to your last question where you ask for someone to point out where anybody said no-one made a living etc. Well, how about point 6 above...

Don't believe me? Check it out yourself. It's all there.

To me, if I ask when was there such a time when no music was paid for and you answer 650BC to 1850AD, then there is no doubt in my mind that you have just said no music was paid for between those dates. How else can I interpret it? If no music was paid for how on earth could anyone have made a living out of it?

Your second point about minstrels etc being peripheral becomes moot because you have already answerd quite categoricaly that no-one paid for music between those dates.

Can I put it any more simply?

Q. During which period was music not paid for?

A. Between 650BC and 1850AD.

If you are now saying that you did not actualy mean that music was not paid for between those dates then, please, just say so. Let us know what you did actualy mean. No need to make up sinister misrepresentation plots when all I did was report what you had actualy said.

And for heavens sake put us out of our misery. What DID happen in 650BC?

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 14 May 08 - 01:26 PM

By the way, Sminky, it is this paragraph I was referring to
For centuries, 99% (substitute your own percentage) of traditional music was sung/created wherever 'ordinary' people gathered. I'm struggling to understand where money played a part. Sure, there've been minstrels, ballad writers/sellers, publishers etc trying to eke out a living, but they were peripheral at best. Or am I missing something?
At which point, you accused me of "suffering from mythical romantic fantasies" and subsequently questioned my qualifications as a ballad scholar on the basis of finding a typographical error in one of my posts.

And no, the mistrels, troubadours, bards, skops, and minnesingers were not just peripheral. It is generally believed by many ballad scholars that they were quite probably the original sources of many traditional songs and ballads.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 14 May 08 - 01:29 PM

"Minstrels." Before Sminky finds another typo to duck under.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 May 08 - 01:55 PM

:: If you were a villager living in 1723 where would you go to listen to/sing folk songs each
:: night - a 'concert' in town (no railways, remember) or your local alehouse? [...]
: Of course you would go to an alehouse and of course you wouldn't pay.

How many people in the British Isles in 1723 lived within a day's walk of an alehouse? A small minority, I'd guess. Most people lived in very small villages where the only public building of any kind was a church, if that.


|| The idea that there has ever been some sort of Guild of Master Folk Singers strikes me as absurd
| No-one has even remotely suggested such a thing

Then maybe they should have done. In some parts of the world that was exactly how folk music worked (like the "ashik" lineages of Turkey and Central Asia, which mirrored the structures of discipleship in Sufism). Some aspects of folk music in Scotland come near to that model - Highland piping schools or the family traditions of the Travellers.


% Human nature has not changed much throughout recorded history. Just because we have no
% evidence for something in the past does not suggest it didn't happen exactly the way it does now.

That is probably the most wrongheaded comment in this whole thread. We know of many societies where money in any form was totally unknown, and many where music developed in directions where it could not possibly have been paid for, even if the society had started to use money. Some of these are so different from what we know in the modern developed world that we might as well be talking about the Antarctic Ocean market in whale songs. "Human nature" predicts nothing.

Two examples: a culture in Bolivia where everybody was expected to compose exactly one song in their lifetime, adopt it as their own, and would never sing anything else; the song would die with them. In other South American cultures, every piece of music was considered to have been composed by a totem animal or plant, with the human who first performed it being a mere amanuensis. In the one case there was no way something like a solo concert performance could exist - there wouldn't be enough material - and in the other the performer couldn't claim credit, the music was the utterance of the totemic deity.

And relationships between amateur and professional can be very different from those prevailing in the present-day West, even in societies where music is solidly part of a money economy. Hiromi Lorraine Sakata's "Music in the Mind" (about the musical culture of three different regions of Afghanistan in the 1970s) is an eye-opener. About the only generalization is that amateur music in the areas she looked at was of higher status than the professional variety, but the situation varied depending on musical genre, ethnicity, where you played and who for, what your day job was... and there was next to no transmission of music from professional to amateur, though the other way did happen. (One particular oddity was the position of the flute, which was the only melody instrument considered acceptable by the Mevlevi dervish order in Anatolia and Iran; in Persian-speaking Afghanistan it wasn't regarded as being a musical instrument at all, though it was widely played - fluteplayers weren't seen as being musicians, whether or not they took money for playing it).


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 14 May 08 - 03:11 PM

Good points, Jack - and I stand corrected. Perhaps a little later in history and certainly in the last century things were more as I and others have suggested.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 14 May 08 - 03:44 PM

I'm sure that "observer" is enjoying all the attention he/she is getting, most gratified I'm sure

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 May 08 - 04:26 PM

The thread has an interesting point and continued with an even more interesting discussion, Charlotte. Whatever Observers intentions were, a generaly intelectual and well mannered debate occured. I see little to criticise the originator for except, maybe, the subsequent 'copycat' threads. But even they have a certain humour about them.

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 14 May 08 - 04:32 PM

Well, I'll take the money and run.... *LOL* for musical services rendered

"What is money? Is it a medium of exchange, a store of value, or a means of command? "

It pays the mortgage and feeds and clothes my family, and that's my primary interest in money

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 May 08 - 07:26 PM

It pays the mortgage and feeds and clothes my family

Good job you weren't about between 650BC and 1850AD then, Charlotte. You would have been starving, naked and homeless:-)

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 May 08 - 08:45 AM

The question of folk and money is much more complicated than has been discussed so far IMO.
As was said earlier in the thread, of course there is nothing wrong with anybody being paid for singing, researching, teaching, writing about... whatever... folksongs and music, any more than there is with any other pursuit. When the tradition was alive and thriving the act of singing and playing was largely an unpaid activity, this is no longer the case. Carolan, and all those unnamed minstrels may have fed into and taken from the tradition, but they were not part of it; their audiences and paymasters were the landed gentry and nobility, certainly not 'the folk' (read Donal O'Sullivan's excellent study of Carolan and his music).
The problem for me is not whether a performer is being paid, but rather, what effect this has on his/her performance, if any.
I get a little tired of hearing, "I've got to pay my bills, feed the kids, put petrol in the car" – and all the other excuses for performing in a certain way, or including material that has little (if any) connection with 'folk' or 'tradition' – in other words, does not do exactly what it says on the tin. My response is usually, – "tough; go and get a proper job". Singers and musicians who perform solely to suit their bank balances are little more than cultural juke-boxes – in goes the coin, out comes the product.
I am not suggesting that being professional automatically makes for a bad, insincere or unprincipled performance, but I do believe that there is a danger of allowing he who pays the piper to call the tune to the detriment of the music. We should have learned that from the monkey-suits and the anodyne performances of the 'folk boom'.
Money should not make one happ'orth (no pun intended!) of difference one way or another – but all too often it does.
My favourite story about payment (those who have heard it bear with me – it's a good story, no matter how many times I hear it) is told by Ciarán MacMathúna, who was collecting for one of his radio programmes down in Kerry. He recorded an old fiddle player, and at the end of the session said to him; "there is the matter of a small recording fee".
The old man thought for a minute, and said, "I'm taking a bullock to the market tomorrow, so I should be able to pay you then".
If only..... nah, forget it!
Then, of course there's the (IMO) thoroughly dishonest practice of tweaking traditional material, then claiming ownership by copyrighting it... or the behaviour of the Irish Musical Rights (in league with CCE) and Performing Rights Societies in claiming performance fees for traditional music.... but that's for another time maybe.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 15 May 08 - 09:32 AM

Ah, well here again we have a the old problem of two varying definitions of the word 'folk.'

If you exclude O'Carolan and all that goes with him, which is fair enough within your terms Jim, then I go along with everything you say (until the last sentence, see below).

But I should explain that when I use the f word I'm using the modern 'common' meaning of the term, rather than the 54 definition - which would certainly include Carolan. And I think we can take it that many of the people who have contributed above are doing so too.

For me the word means anything you might hear at a folk club or folk festival, or which a majority of the population might allow as folk, because that's the democratic (if technically wrong) definition - but let's not have that debate again!

However, I would like gently to remind everyone for the umpteenth time (not because I'll ever change your mind, Jim, but because there is a lot of misunderstanding over this which we do have a duty to try to clarify whenever we can) that you can effectively only copyright your own rendition of a traditional work, so only you get paid on your own performances, and on your own performances only. No-one else need ever pay you a cent unless they choose to tell PRS that they are doing your 'tweak' and no other. This takes nothing from the public ownership of the tradition, but may possibly enhance it if it brings that material to new ears.

Happy Thursday from Leeds

Tom


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 15 May 08 - 02:15 PM

Actually in the 1850's I'd probably have been a governess who also taught music, and gave oh so proper music recitals *LOL* (very low paying on the whole though)

Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 May 08 - 05:58 PM

***Sigh*** Having us old blokes imagining you as a governess is doing us no good at all Charlotte. Now, stop it at once or I will have to spank... Arrrggghhh. It's happening again Matron!

Can't believe this thread ends up on this note! Sminky! Where are you?

:D


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice
Date: 15 May 08 - 06:10 PM

Go to your room, young Master David, and I'll send Matron up to... you...umm to see if you...no wait...'ang on.... ummmmmmmm

TAXI!! :-D


Charlotte R


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 May 08 - 02:18 PM

Tom,
"Fair enough within your terms ,"
Sorry, there is no such animal as 'my terms; we don't get to vote on our language, it's there for general communication, not personal convenience.
No more is there a 'common' meaning of the term, or if there is, nobody has articulated one so far, other than the Humpty Dumpty 'words mean what I wish them to mean'. Those inside the revival either accept the long-established one or, rather cynically to my mind, sail under a flag of convenience and take it to mean what suits their own particular tastes and interests - which is to the benefit of neither side of the argument as far as I can see, and is no way to treat a language.
One of the great failings of the revival is that those not involved don't give a toss one way or the other, or, if the need arises, will defer to the dictionary definition, as I would if I wished to interpret 'astrophysics'.
Let's leave it to the festival organisers to define our music – now, there's a thought!!!!
Years ago I attended a 'folk' festival in Bulgaria, where the stars of the event were a choir singing Bach and Handel – does that mean because that particular organiser of the event chose to call selections from The Messiah 'folk', it would automatically fall within your definition?
Down the years, what has taken place at The Cambridge Folk Festival has had more in common with what goes on at Slane Castle or Glastonbury than say at The N. F. F at Sutton Bonnington.
Here in Ireland Guinness and Carling would jump at the chance of organising a 'Guinness' or 'Carling' Folk Festival. As much as I realise these august bodies have the interests of the music at heart OVER MY DEAD BODY. This would once more leave us open to having our music being placed in the hands of the music industry and big business, as it was during the halcyon 'folk boom' days.
For me, the refreshing characteristic of folk music, and one of the great motivators of my involvement, is that I can regard it as 'ours' rather than 'yours' or 'mine'. You would take that from me and I would be left as remote from our music as I am from the compositions of Paul McCartney or Irving Berlin – in other words, you would remove the folk from 'folk' .
There is, and has been for half a century, a perfectly workable and concise definition of the term; as I see it you have several alternatives:

a. You accept it as it stands.
b. You iron out the flaws and adapt it.
c. You disprove it outright and replace it with another.

Ignoring it is not an option as far as I'm concerned, and a great deal of damage has been done to the survival of the music by those who have chosen to do so. If you wish your music to be considered 'folk', get the application form and tick as many boxes as you can - then let's have a discussion about it.
However, I might be prepared to reconsider my case if those singer-songwriters who refer to their compositions as 'folk' are prepared to allow them to be placed in the public domain, which is, by my understanding, the defining factor, – but I won't hold my breath.
On the question of copyright, I bow to your greater knowledge on how things stand within the letter of the law, but this does not explain why, for over half a century Peter Kennedy was able to persuade his singers to sign contracts assigning their songs to him, then follow this up by sending out claims to anybody who used say, a song recorded from Harry Cox or Charlie Wills (see relevant section in Musical Traditions). Or why the Dubliners attempted to copyright all their traditional material, and were only prevented from doing so by threats of legal action (see MacColl's biography, Class Act). Or why there was an extremely undignified scramble to copyright Turkey In The Straw following its appearance on a best-selling album. Then, of course, we have Rod Stewart's claim on Wild Mountain Thyme, or any one of the many, many attempts at ownership of traditional material.
While it may be true that none of these actions have any basis in law, those of us not versed in legal matters are not necessarily aware of this and are quite likely to be ripped off by the piranhas who have found their way into folk waters.
Over the last few years the Irish Musical Rights Organisation has been demanding money with menaces from publicans who allow traditional music to be played on their premises. I head recently that one excuse given was that copyrighted material 'might' be played during the course of the evening. To their eternal shame, Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann first (and rightly) vehemently opposed such moves – until they were offered a cut of the cake, and then did an abrupt about turn (I see there is an interesting piece which touches on this, by Harry Bradley on the Comhaltas Interruptus/Clontarf thread .
I still find it depressing to recall some of the attitudes expressed in an earlier thread on copyright and ownership, and I see that there are another two on the boil at present.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 17 May 08 - 01:49 AM

Still no word from Sminky then?

:-(

Dave.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Howard Jones
Date: 17 May 08 - 05:22 AM

It is well-known that traditional (as distinct from folk revival) musicians in the 20th century were paid for playing for dances. English examples include Scan Tester, Billy Bennington, and the Bulwers, all of whom were in frequent demand and were paid in both cash and kind, just like modern musicians.

There is no reason to suppose that this practice suddenly emerged post-1850. The contents of the surviving manuscript books of 18th and 19th century country musicians suggest they were also playing for dances, and it seems unlikely that they did it without payment.

The idea that folk music once existed in some kind of pure state outside the real world where people are paid for their skills and services is romantic nonsense.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 17 May 08 - 06:14 AM

Howard Jones

It is well-known that traditional (as distinct from folk revival) musicians in the 20th century were paid for playing for dances. English examples include Scan Tester, Billy Bennington, and the Bulwers, all of whom were in frequent demand and were paid in both cash and kind, just like modern musicians.

Which further undermines the idea that professionals are, somehow, a separate group (the horse) from the amateurs (the cart).


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 17 May 08 - 10:43 AM

"The idea that folk music once existed in some kind of pure state outside the real world where people are paid for their skills and services is romantic nonsense."
May have missed it, but I can't see that anybody has suggested this.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Georgina Boyes
Date: 17 May 08 - 11:39 AM

"And oft for pence and spicy ale
Wi winter nosgays pind before
The wassail singer tells her tale
And drawls her christmass carrols oer"
John Clare, Christmass (1827)
--------------
Good dame, here at your door
    Our wassel we begin,
We are all maidens poor,
    We pray now let us in,
       With our wassel....

Some bounty from your hands,
    Our wassel to maintain:
We'l buy no house nor lands
    With that which we do gain
       With our wassel.

Wassail song from "New Christmas Carols: Being fit also to be sung at Easter, Whitsontide, and other Festival Days of the year....in the curious study of that ever-to-be-respected antiquary Mr. Anthony á Wood [1632-1695],

There are lots more of these.....

Georgina


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 17 May 08 - 01:00 PM

The implication is certainly there, Jim. A lot of the argument hinges around this mysterious time when folk music survived without any money being involved. I know it is difficult to read through the whole thread but an assertion was made that between 650BC and 1850AD folk music was, somehow, peripheral to the community and did not attract paid performers. I am quite happy to accept that this was not the intended implication but, as yet, the originator has not refuted it.

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 17 May 08 - 02:26 PM

Dave an Georgina (hi Georgina),
I'm not suggesting that there weren't occasions when money was involved with singing or music, quite often, as with Georgina's examples, linked to customs such as The Wran, wassails, etc.
You can also include the competitions entered into by singers like Joseph Taylor, Sam Larner, Tom Lenihan and others, where either a cash or a (usually small) prize was given.
Travellers in Ireland sang in the streets and sold ballad sheets right up to the mid-fifties here in Clare, (the last ballad sheet here was 'Bar With No Stout' - a parody on The Pub with No Beer).
My point is that in general, singing was not a paid occupation, as it was with itinerant musicians like Carolan, and like (some of) the Travellers - though it needs to be said that singing and ballads selling was regarded by many Travellers as 'a low' occupation, little better than begging.
Interestingly (to me anyway) we recorded a long interview with Kerry Traveller Mikeen McCarthy, who went to great lengths to describe the differences in style between street singing, singing to sell ballad sheets and what he called 'fireside singing'.
Around here, not only was money not an issue, but when the annual Traditional music school started to pay singers to appear at the concerts and recitals; a number of them commented on the strangeness of being paid for doing something they'd done all their lives for nothing.
Singing and playing on 'The Wran' (St Stephen's Day), was a collecting custom, but the money was put aside specifically for drink and food for 'the Wran ball' shortly after. One sad exception to this took place in the 'hungry times' when a group of men set out one Boxing Day, found the takings so thin that they pushed on all day and into the next few days until they reached Galway where they used the collection to buy an assisted passage to America and never returned home.
A number of older musicians we have spoken to have made the comment that not only was music unpaid, but that the introduction of cash was its 'ruination'
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST
Date: 17 May 08 - 02:29 PM

PS What I intended to say was that I believe that there was never a time when money was a contributory factor to the survival of traditional music and singing; even the local dancing masters around here made little more than their beer money.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 May 08 - 02:45 PM

well as someone who quite happily performs for money.,and also quite happily plays/ sings at home for his own enjoyment.
I would like to say this:I care not a fig,whether some older musician said that the introduction of cash was the musics ruination.
my respect for older musicians is for there music,not for some statement they uttered as if it was sacrosanct.
I remember being in the presence of Bob Roberts,and in all seriousness he said,that the fact people couldnt waltz anymore was a sign of the decliner of civilisation,what a lot of Squit.
that doesnt alter my opinion of Bob as a performer,it just means that while I like his music,I dont agree with all his political/social utterances.
Jim Carroll, however seems to regard older musicians utterances as if they were unquestioned gospel. Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 17 May 08 - 06:07 PM

I have no argument with what you are saying, Jim. It is this catergoric assertion that between 650BC and 1850AD there was no money in folk music that I cannot agree with. The provider of this theory asked for proof that people were paid for folk music. Firstly I asked them to define what they meant by folk music. They refused. I then provided plenty of examples of paid music within that period. At which point they said that is not what they meant. I asked what they did mean and we have not heard back since.

I think you may have come in half-way through and without going back to the begining and following the whole thing through you may be talking about something different to me.

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Georgina Boyes
Date: 17 May 08 - 06:32 PM

Suggesting that this is a 'yes' or 'no' issue, does no justice to traditions of singing and reduces complex circumstances to a degree that is meaningless -

People sang (and still sing) for their own and other people's amusement, to pass the time when they're working at something and to express their creativity - and for all sorts of other reasons. Sometimes singers are paid and sometimes they're not.

Shantymen were paid to sing, it was the whole reason for their being aboard ship - but I don't think anyone would suggest that shanties aren't traditional.

When a wet nurse or nursery maid sang lullabies to the babies she had in her care, wasn't this part of her paid work? And did the same traditional lullaby and nurse become something different when she sang it to her own children to rock them to sleep and wasn't paid?

When Jos Mather, the Sheffield ballad-maker and singer wrote and performed his songs in the late 18th/early 19th century, he was paid. Other people sang his songs because they liked them (they were still singing them in Sheffield in the late 1960's) - I don't see that what Jos Mather and later singers did was different because some were and some weren't paid, I was just delighted to hear his songs still sung after almost 200 years.

At celebratory feasts in medieval monasteries, visitors to the feast joined in the refrains with the paid singer - and weren't paid for it. If you're just going to have two states - paid and unpaid - what happens when they occur simultaneously. Is one 'valid' and one 'unacceptable'?

And as for the idea that traditional song existed separately from the rest of culture for centuries,.....

Georgina


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 08 - 04:53 AM

'Jim Carroll, however seems to regard older musicians utterances as if they were unquestioned gospel. Dick Miles.'
Cap'n,
Please don't make this another slanging match.
We have gone to singers and musicians for information; whatever we have been given we have put against what we already know or think we know. I am passing on what we have been told by singers and musicians and what we believe to be true.
I would be more than happy to add anything you might have to contribute to the subject.
We have had numerous examples of your opinion on traditional singers in the past, all of which we have viewed, considered and placed in the appropriate receptacle.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 18 May 08 - 10:22 AM

Hi Georgina

I like this: "And as for the idea that traditional song existed separately from the rest of culture for centuries,....."

I think those of us who argue for 'trade' being a constituent - (NOT a major force but a significant influence*) in the development of traditional music (as in 'folk repertoire,' NOT 'folk activity' remember) would agree that this is the nub. Paid musicians also made/make music just for fun.. Amateur musicians sometimes gained/gain some reward.. Professionals also engage/d in voluntary activities.. Volunteers usually have other means of support without which they couldn't afford to volunteer.. Etc etc.

Boy do I wish I'd used a car as my analogy - wheels and engine instead of horse and wheels (and steering and bakes and everything else). My whole point was to suggest a metaphor that demonstrated the INTERACTION of two, and (as I stressed in my caveat) many more elements working TOGETHER to deliver forward motion, (not to illustrate two separable components)! I thought I'd made that clear, but obviously not.

Tom

*As I've also said many times, that influence (again I'm talking about repertoire, not activity here) become much greater with the advent of recording technology, but there is plenty of proof in this thread of influence long before that. I'm no historian, but I was discussing this with my sister at the weekend. She has a doctorate in medieval history, and plays early music with a bunch of Oxford dons. When I said I'd been advised that trade had no place in the development of traditional music she nearly died laughing!


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 08 - 10:45 AM

Dave/Georgina;
I don't think we are a million miles apart, rather it seems to be a question of emphasis.
I am not saying that money NEVER entered the equation, rather that it played no major part in the creation and circulation of what we refer to as 'folk-song' (aye, there's the rub!)
Georgina:
According to Hugill, there is no evidence of payment for shanty-singing, and there was not even, certainly in latter days of sail, a recognised post of 'shantyman'. Rather, he mentions privileges, not cash, for singing as part of his general duties. He is somewhat vague on what happened in earlier times, but it seems to me there is no evidence one way or the other.
For every wet-nurse or nursery maid who, as part of their general duties, sang the squire's or vicar's child to sleep, there were countless mothers who sang their children to sleep without payment.
For me, the idea of a 'ballad maker' running off a 'folk-song' to make a few bob isn't the way it worked. The determining factor was not his writing the song, payment or not, but whether or not it was taken up and put through the 'folk mincer'. The same applies to the songs sung at medieval monasteries.
It seems to me that, apart from exceptions mentioned earlier, cash has only become a major factor in more recent days and 'valid' and 'unacceptable' really doesn't enter into the equation, not as a point of principle anyway. It really depends on how the question is handled.
Here in Ireland we are enjoying a traditional music 'boom' (in the best sense). The response of the local arts bodies has not been to build on that success, but rather, to encourage local youngsters to find out how to make a living from it.... hmmmm. I'm certainly not opposed to people making money from their music, but I would suggest that the emphasis should be rather towards bringing in those who are happy to make it a pastime. Those who have the inclination to be professional will, hopefully, find their own way.
There is also pressure to make music a part of the 'cultural tourism' industry' (god save us all from the Bunratty Castle medieval banquets). Once again, to his eternal shame, this featured prominently in the director of Comhaltas's report to the senate a few years ago.
Pub sessions here are being effected greatly by commercial pressures. When we first came over here, these were maid up exclusively of unpaid musicians gathering spontaneously to play together. Nowadays the publicans are tending to book traditional 'stars' who will arrive on time, play for the time they are paid for and then go home. They haven't introduced clocking on and off yet, but it's a matter of time if things continue in this direction.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: TheSnail
Date: 18 May 08 - 11:17 AM

GUEST,Tom Bliss

Amateur musicians sometimes gained/gain some reward.. Professionals also engage/d in voluntary activities..

I'm still curious as to where the dividing line comes between those two.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 08 - 11:19 AM

'Jim Carroll, however seems to regard older musicians utterances as if they were unquestioned gospel. Dick Miles.'
Cap'n,
Please don't make this another slanging match.
We have gone to singers and musicians for information; whatever we have been given we have put against what we already know or think we know. I am passing on what we have been told by singers and musicians and what we believe to be true.
I would be more than happy to add anything you might have to contribute to the subject.
We have had numerous examples of your opinion on traditional singers in the past, all of which we have viewed, considered and placed in the appropriate receptacle.
Jim Carroll, we, here refers to the royal we,Jim, meaning you.
well I am   sorry I disagree with you,just because some musician has said in the past that cash is the ruination of the music,Iam not prepared to accept that as gospel,
O Carolan is the first example that springs to my mind,how did patronage ruin his music,on the contrary,without patronage,we would not have his beautiful compositions.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 18 May 08 - 11:39 AM

Sorry Jim, I was in such haste to set the record straight that I didn't respond to your points to me.

Language:

It's not a matter of disproving a theory, as in science. It's about being understood in the wider world.

I have great sympathy with those who want to maintain the 54 definition as primary in discussions like this. Life would be much easier if there was a consensus now as there was then. But I'd suggest that while the intent of the definition is still completely valid, it has been undermined by a general shift in the meaning of one key word; 'folk.'

This in unfortunate, but it happens all the time. Whenever we want to understand an old defintion or law, we have to go back to the accepted meanings of the words, by the majority, at the time they were written.

For example, when the word 'gay' began to mean 'homosexual' rather than 'light-hearted' no doubt there were those who resisted it, but the natural force of change was too strong, and eventually the lexicographers just added a second definition. Today many people will say 'light-hearted' rather than 'gay' to avoid being misunderstood. Perhaps in time the old meaning will die out entirely - then we'll have to look in an old dictionary, from the time our source work was written, to understand a title like, for example, The Gay Gordons correctly.

It's a shame for the Old 54, but it happened. The definition is still good, but it needs either a sub-clause, or a new unambiguous word (well, unambiguous for the time being anyway)!

Copyright:

I understand that some bad things happened around the copyright of traditional material in the early days of the revival, particularly in Ireland - but i don't know enough to comment. I can only pass on the situation in the UK today as I understand it.

I do agree with you about the issue of collection on out-of-copyright material (though not on copyright arrangements, which I support as benign), and am actively and tenaciously seeking change with PRS on this.

In general:

I think I understand entirely where you are coming from, and have no quibble with anything you say concerning the areas you define, within your own definition. However, much of what people have been saying in this thread refers to issues that are not within that definition - and the problem has been caused by two conflicting uses of the same one word.

Let me make a stab at another analogy. I'm sorry if this also falls over, but it's just the way my mind works, ok? (no analogy ever stands up to close scrutiny anyway, they're just a device to try to help shed a new light on an old subject).

Lets take the word 'football,' about 20 years after William Web Ellis did his famous run.

I only use 'football' to describe the game that we now call soccer. Then someone at a party tells me he thinks that the art of defence has declined in English football. I tell him he's talking rubbish, because the English soccer team are the best defenders in the world. Only trouble is, he's talking about Rugby.

See what I mean?

Tom


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 18 May 08 - 11:41 AM

"I'm still curious as to where the dividing line comes between those two."

I have been saying till I'm blue in the face that there IS no dividing line


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 May 08 - 12:03 PM

I am not saying that money NEVER entered the equation, rather that it played no major part in the creation and circulation of what we refer to as 'folk-song'

I'm more than happy with that, Jim. It's the absolute I had difficulties with. Now, here's a funny thing though, I have also have the same 'rub' as you mention - What is folk? I for one don't want to go through that whole lot again and as I admitted earlier, my definition may be far wider than some.

Here is a thought to bear in mind though. How do we know that money played no major part in what we now refer to as folk song? When a tune is termed 'traditional' I think it means we do not know the origin. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong. If we don't know the origin however how do we know it was not written by a professional? If so then it is a combination of the 'folk process' and professionalism that combined to create that song. We certainly cannot say that money played no major part simply because we do not know if it or didn't! We will never be able to prove it one way or another I guess - Which is why I occasionaly feel the need to dispute the 'facts' quoted:-)

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 May 08 - 12:11 PM

If so then it is a combination of the 'folk process' and professionalism that combined to create that song.

Sorry that should really read "If so then it is a combination of the 'folk process' and professionalism that combined to create that song as we know it today."

Also, I am more than happy to be educated if any of my points are invalid.

Cheers.

D,


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 May 08 - 01:36 PM

". . . I'm using the modern 'common' meaning of the term, rather than the 54 definition. . . ."

Tom, can you (or someone) direct me to the thread, or some other source, where the 1954 definition was stated? I can remember reading it, but I can't remember offhand who framed it or what it exactly says. I'd like to give it a good look.

Thanks!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 18 May 08 - 02:44 PM

I can't find the mudcat thread but this is from another site:

"The "official" definition of folk music [was] laid out in 1954 by the International Folk Music Council. snip

"Folk music is the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission. The factors that shape the tradition are: (i) continuity which links the present with the past; (ii) variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group; and (iii) selection by the community, which determines the form or forms in which the music survives … The term can be applied to music that has been evolved from rudimentary beginnings by a community uninfluenced by popular and art music and it can likewise be applied to music which has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community … The term does not cover composed popular music that has been taken over ready-made by a community and remains unchanged, for it is the re-fashioning and re-creation of the music by the community that gives it its folk character."

It is the last sentence that's relevant to this discussion. If you accept that the word 'folk' still means this definition and only this definition, then under the terms of the last sentence you do indeed specifically exclude any influence by the original lost writer or known writers in more recent times - and by association any influence by performer, arranger, collector or other tradesperson.

So those who cleave to this definition are completely correct in what they say.

But if you believe that the word 'folk' no longer implies only this definition, and now encompasses a much wider selection of music (both interms of activity and repertoire), then the last part may still, or may no longer be, relevant - in which case the influence of the writer and/or collector, publisher, producer etc can indeed be germane.

I'm in the latter camp, purely because I need to talk far more often to people who have never heard of the 54, and probably wouldn't take it very seriously even it if they did, than to those who hold it to be of unchanged relevance.

Here is another more recent definition, which I myself prefer - even though it's only by Mr Wicked P. Dear:

"Folk music can have a number of different meanings, including:

"Traditional music: The original meaning of the term "folk music" was synonymous with the term "Traditional music", also often including World Music and Roots music; the term
"Traditional music" was given its more specific meaning to distinguish it from the other definitions that "Folk music" is now considered to encompass.

"Folk music can also describe a particular kind of popular music which is based on traditional music. In contemporary times, this kind of folk music is often performed by professional musicians. Related genres include Folk rock and Progressive folk music.

"In American culture, folk music refers to the American folk music revival, music exemplified by such musicians as Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, who popularized and encouraged the lyrical style in the 1950s and 1960s."

Tom

PS sorry if someone else has posted in the interim - I was interrupted by a Rosbif (another example of contentious language evolution)


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 May 08 - 03:42 PM

Thanks, Tom! I will give it some thorough study.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 08 - 04:06 PM

Tom
Thanks for that; thought we'd fallen out.
If we had a bundle of definitions to argue the toss over, perhaps we might get somewhere; as it stands we have on the one hand an established definition, on the other a school of thought which has no definition and appear incapable of constructing one. Simple solution; disprove the old one and replace it – surely.
Have just seen your posting and comments on the '54 definition. Surely if you are an official in a responsible position on the issue of copyright it is your duty to tell it as it is, not how you/they would prefer it to be. It appears to me somewhat patronising to assume that because people don't necessarily understand the situation now, that this will always be the case.
A strong argument for defining your terms clearly is the fact that you have two distinct bodies of material; one in the public domain, the other, somebody's property. I couldn't help but notice that you chose to ignore my invitation to relinquish your claim on your own compositions and allow them to fall into public domain.
You seem to be under the impression that all copyright abuses were a thing of the distant past – and in Ireland. Peter Kennedy (very English) was working for the British Broadcasting Corporation (even more English). He died a year or so ago and was making claims on traditional material right to the end. We are still living with the mess he created.
I seem to remember that the PRS claim for payment on the grounds that 'copyrighted music 'might' be played during the course of the evening' arose from an incident in the UK – may be wrong.
Dave,
Don't even go there. If you think folk definition is contentious, try dipping your toe into 'who wrote the folk songs' and watch your feet disappear.
On of the defining factors of folk songs (with exceptions, I hasten to add) is their anonymity. Surely, if there is payment in the offing a composer is hardly likely to conceal his/her identity
During the course of our collecting we have encountered a somewhat strange phenomenon. On several occasions we have recorded songs, here in Clare and also from Travellers, which must have been composed during the lifetimes of the singers. On two of these (both composed communally), the singers were present when the songs were made. Yet each time we have drawn a blank on finding the composers. It just didn't seem important enough to be remembered.
Cap'n,
Folk scholarship is bedevilled by the fact that by and large we have no information on our singing traditions from the real experts – the traditional singers. It is a sad and extremely puzzling fact that nobody has bothered to ask their view on their art. This, to me, shows a great contempt and disregard for the people who gave us our songs and music, a contempt displayed pretty typically by your comments.
As far as I'm concerned, they were there when the house and crossroads dances were destroyed by the 1935 Dance Halls Act which levied a monetary charge on all such activities in order to drive people into the newly constructed ballrooms.
They were there when the influx of commercial records from the U.S. all but destroyed regional musical styles. They witnessed these events; we didn't, and it seems like basic good manners to listen to what they have to say on the subject, and not dismiss them out of hand, as you have done in the past and are doing once again.
I have given you an account of what is happening here in the sessions - please tell me I am imaging it all!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 08 - 04:44 PM

Jim I live In Ireland.
every friday there is a session in Ballydehob,no one gets paid ,the session was started by my partner Cathy Cook,in 1987.
there is also a session in Skibbereen on a Tuesday,which is an unpaid session.
many pubs are closing in ireland,most of those that can afford to pay musicians, are those that make their money through selling food.
the reasons that pubs[in rural areas are closing are many,but drink driving laws,and lack of available public transport /taxis is an important one][money does play a part here] taxis drivers do not want to pick up a fare and go out into the country when they can stay in a town, picking up fares from a nightclub].
JIM I dont dismiss comments out of hand,I listen and if singers/musicians say something that makes sense,I consider it ,if they say something like money has been the ruination of music without backing it up,as you have done, I dismiss it.
one of the reasons,I have been involved in the Ballydehob Jazz festival,is to bring people to Ballydehob .
I suggest,that if you are concerned about rural Ireland ,you get involved in organising something that brings people to your area,.voting NO re the Lisbon Treaty,and protecting rural agricultural incomes,might be astart.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 May 08 - 04:46 PM

Comhaltas of course help, by bringing lots of peopleWHO SPEND MONEY to difFerent areas through the COUNTY /REGIONAL and NATIONAL fleadhs.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 May 08 - 05:56 PM

Exactly what I am saying, Jim. I think we may just be interpreting it in different ways! You say "Dave, Don't even go there. If you think folk definition is contentious, try dipping your toe into 'who wrote the folk songs' and watch your feet disappear."

That is just what I am saying - With folk songs, particulary old folk songs, Ie - Not like the ones you mention where the composer is still alive. We just do not know who wrote it. If we do not know who wrote it, how can we say with any degree of credibility that they did not make money out of it?

Simple question surely?

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 18 May 08 - 06:11 PM

I think Jim that we have a different idea of what a definition is for.

Certainly if you are, for example, an academic or a legislator looking for specific, verifiable definitions, then something like the 54 is necessary. I'm not sure what the PRS line on this is, but it's certainly true that their definition of 'traditional' has nothing to do with the 54. They tell me the word is synonymous with 'anon' and 'in public ownership' - which just means the writer has been dead for more than 70 years, or can be assumed so. And no more - certainly nothing about "variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group" for example.

I guess I'm assuming that the 54 was an academic exercise, designed to help those who wanted to study the music to isolate one specific genre - and as such I'm sure it did the job admirably.

But I'm not an academic. I'm a businessmen, and I'm interested in exciting people in, in descending order; a) 'real' live music, b) music with both story and history c) music that connects with their local culture. This is mainly for personal reasons, but I row the bigger boat whenever can too.

Like anyone involved in marketing I have to start with what my listener knows. If the very first thing I do is lecture them on the precise derivation of the music I'm presenting, and how it connects or doesn't with another genre, I'm going to loose them before I've started.

So I use with the second definition - as do the vast majority of people involved in things called, by them, 'folk.'

The issue here is what the people who used the word when writing on this thread meant by it.

It's clear to me that a good few of the 'no-money' camp were meaning the 54, and that most of us 'don't be so silly' camp were meaning the Wikepedia - and that should have been obvious from what we said. The influence of people like Carolan goes without saying within the Wiki definition.

Hmmm - I don't think I'm being patronising in suggesting that we're unlikely to persuade 90% of the population of the English speaking world to change their understanding of the meaning of word 'folk' now. Or to find a new one for that thing. Just realistic. The genie's been out of the bottle for 40 years, Jim! Far better to go with the flow and find a new word to describe the 54 definition - and 'Traditional' seems to be doing quite a resoanable job - for now, so why not just use that?

Because it's not a matter of 'disprov[ing] the old definition' - just resolving two conflicting uses of the same word.

The 54 still defines something very important - which has not changed. It's only the WORD used at the FRONT of the equasion that's changed. Not the definition itself.

Another example:

To a TV engineer 'red' is one very specific hue. To everyone else it includes cerise, and scarlet and crimson, and pillar box, and cherry and lots of other shades. But the TV engineer knows that if he sets the cameras to record crimson, the pictures will be unusable, so he retains the correct kelvin temperature as his definition for 'true' primary red (at work anyway). But he also understands that when his wife says she's wearing red lipstick it's very unlikely to be the primary colour.

Does that make any sense?

I'm not sure what this sentence means:

"Surely if you are an official in a responsible position on the issue of copyright it is your duty to tell it as it is, not how you/they would prefer it to be."

I'm not an official - is that what you thought? But absolutely they should tell it like it is! I'm only telling it as I understand it to be - as no more than a writer-member of PRS with an active interest in improving various aspects of their operations around foolk (new word to avoid argument - the bigger term)!

As for copyright, there are effectively three states. 1) Copyright, 2) out-of copyright and 3) shared copyright, where protection only relates to individual use.

I missed your challenge I'm afraid in my rush to correct to another post. I use the word 'folk' to descibe what I do ONLY because the vast majority of other people do so. I would never call my stuff traditional, and as I'm sure people who've been to my gigs will verify I do try to at least give the gist of the argument and explain the difference between what I do and the 'real thing.'

'Folk' is the easy option, yes - but I do sing real folk songs, and I participate in real folk gatherings too, so it's not cut and dried, and in the absence of another word I have little option.

It wasn't me that decided the word had changed it's meaning. Bigger boys did it, and then told me it was ok to use a bad word.

I'm not sure how having me relinquish my rights would prove anything. Perhaps when I'm not quite so desperate to pay the bills I might (though not till after Dickie Attenborough has categorically turned down my offer to use Spirit of Ecstasy in his new film)!

But the point is, Jim we are innocently making cerise and pink and crimson here. We're not doing anything bad. We're not spoiling the primary red, or passing our stuff off as the primary colour. We'd just using the WORD red - and ONLY because it's common practice - the normal correct use of language - to do so.

I'll make no comment about Kennedy, though I've read much about him here.

The PRS collection and reporting system is not perfect, but it's a reasonable first stab at a workable solution in a very very complex situation. That said, you can drive coach and horses though some areas (including the "copyrighted music 'might' be played during the course of the evening" issue) which is why I'm still agitating for change - but that's a thread all on its own.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 08 - 02:34 AM

Tom,
90% of the English-speaking world don't have a definition for folk music - we never managed to involve them - more later - too bloody early.
Cap'n
I think I just heard the first cuckoo
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 08 - 03:26 AM

Dave,
Didn't say the composers were still alive - don't know of any composers of folk songs still alive.
I said that they are known.
Still too early.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 19 May 08 - 04:09 AM

Jim, yes 90% don't have a Definition (note my capital) but they do have a definition (note the absence) - in that they'll use the term, and will know what they mean by it. That meaning will vary hugely, and though it may include the 54 (though most would probably only have a vague idea about oral transmission), it will also include all manner of other types of music and activity and style.

Wiki makes a good stab at it, I think - though my personal view is that the word is now so vague as to have little real value other than to point people in a general acoustic/historical direction. I liken it to the word 'art.' It's art if the maker calls it so - the consumer then only has to decide how much they like it. Thus also with 'folk.'

I noticed you mentioned to Dave, as you've often said before, that the singers you collected placed little value on the composition of music.

This is a very interesting point to me. I'm not in the least surprised by it, because people will always tend to take things for granted unless the value is pointed out to them, and one side effect of oral transmission is that there was no-one around to do this.

Just because people (including even the authors themselves, perhaps) were happy not to place much value on the creation of new works doesn't mean that the creation has no intrinsic worth. (And we have no evidence that it was always thus anyway). We, with perhaps a wider perspective on the history of indigenous music, are not forced to inherit the value system of the early 20th century along with a much older repertoire.

If I was sitting on the International Folk Music Council in 1954, I'd have wanted to add a clause which recognised the role of the people who created music (and maybe suggested that better-written material might be least adapted), and also the role of the 'ambassadors' (travelling musicians as well as migrants, as well as collectors/printers) who distributed and cross-referenced material between of local areas and regions - because it's now clear that this happened a lot, and no study of local music will be worth much if this is not taken into account.

The IFMC seem to have missed this point - and in so doing may have left a loophole through which Guthrie, Dylan and Simon were able to drive their horses - starting the devaluation and confusion we see today.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 08 - 05:19 AM

Tom,
I said, or tried to say that they attached no importance to the authorship of their songs; the songs were very much a part of their lives - that's why many of them lasted for centuries. They certainly did not hang a price tag on them - as appears to be happening here.
In the early part of the 20th century Sharp et al identified and collected a body of songs which he referred folk. He had a stab at analysing the characteristics of the material - flawed, but certainly adequate, and it was from the early work that the 1954 definition was arrived at. The term was applied an identifiable body of song and referred to it's origins ('folk' has a separate dictionary reference apart from it's musical and lore one). To say that the IFMC payed no attention to the people who made and circulated the songs is utter nonsense - that's exactly what they did and that is the strength of the definition when used correctly.
Some time after the start of the revival, a section of the singers involved, who may well have started out on a folk basis, Dylan for instance, moved away and began to use the term as a cultural dustbin in which to discard anything that they had no immediate identification for. This eventually led to the mass exodus (myself included) from the clubs and the confusion that exists at present.
Academically nothing changed; the term continued to be in use, the collections and the research still appeared under the heading 'folk' - hence the doublespeak.
Because Wikepedia got it wrong and is out of step with the established definitions is no reason to continue down that particular road.
If you wish to apply the term to your music - please explain the connection between it and that which has been in use for at least a century, and is still in full use in research (please don't mention the talking horse!)
From all points of view it is would be far better to recognise that we are dealing with totally different genres of music and identify them as such - we were here first - get your own name!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 19 May 08 - 05:39 AM

"Within the broader music industry, and beyond, what some get for their hour's work compared with others is ridiculous and inhumane; hence, many relatively competent musicians within the folk-scene are really struggling to make ends meet; so, if we like fair competition, we don't like capitalism. A better way, as I've suggested in verse, is to accept that humans are competitive, and have strong regulations (partly via nationalisation) to make that competition as fair as possible – whilst also providing "safety-net" support." (From davidfranks.741.com).


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 19 May 08 - 06:00 AM

Well Jim we've reached the point we got to last time, with no progress again!

I guess I need to clarify that for me (I can't speak for others in this thread) that recognising the importance of authorship and 'non-54-folk' transmission, is not only about price tag. In modern terms a price tag may indeed be morally appropriate, and it's a shame that in the detachment of value from authorship this baby has somehow been thrown out with the bath water - but there is an academic imperative too. The study of '54-folk' song must inevitably work back and back towards the author - that's the logical route, and then one can come back up another strand, and so start to suggest some really useful conclusions. But because this information was not considered very important we've lost more of it than we might, and the task is more difficult than it could have been. So it's not only about money - but study too.

I'm sure the IFMC did pay attention to makers and 'short-circuiters' - but the wording of the 54 deliberately seeks to play down that attention. It focuses, for good reason, on the 'folk process' because that's what interested those people at that time. But there is another story too, running parallel and woven through that one - or perhaps just another way of looking at things - and now there is a strong movement to recognise the influence of writers and writers-down and other 'trade' elements - which the 54 definition does not assist.

Leaving the word 'folk' out of it for a moment - by definition these people are sidelined in the 54, only because the 54 was shining a light on just one aspect of musical history.

But there are other aspects too which are equally worthy of study and debate. I'm interested in the history of music, period, not only of the oral/rural/local process - so I want to know who wrote the songs, to what extent court payers fed into the oral system, how much influence travelling players had - etc, and the 54 is not particularly helpful in this regard because the whole point of it is to focus on the oral tradition only. There was a strong non-oral element, and a strong trade element to the development of the music I personally enjoy today.

You and I do agree entirely about the unhelpfulness of the confusion and double-speak. The academic use of the word is, as you say, still current and valid between those 'in the know', but folk music academics are only a tiny handful compared with the numbers who enjoy that they choose to call folk.

You may well be right about Dylan et al - and maybe history will judge them harshly, but we artists and promoters have to work with common rather than 'correct' language. As I've said, 'folk' is not the only word that's lost its 'true' meaning. It happens to words all the time ('wicked' is another good example). You can either go with the flow, and make progress, or sit in a bunker and snipe at the passing throng.

I'd find my own name for my music - in fact I avoid the f word as much as I can for this very reason, but it's used in the wider sense by nearly everyone I know, so when I'm labelled by others as a 'folk musician' I'll accept it because those who are comfotable with that tag are a massive majority. That's how language works, I'm afraid.

Wikipedia is not 'wrong' or 'out of step.' It's an accurate explanation of what happened - and it certainly covers my music - self-penned and trad, as well as the activities I take part in.

It's a shame, and yes we now have a muddle - but genie/bottle stuffing is not likely to the answer.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: glueman
Date: 19 May 08 - 06:06 AM

It beggars belief that singers or musicians were n e v e r remunerated, even if that was grandpa getting free beer at the local to do his turn. Technology changed communication as it's still doing today - is the internet art of the problem, propogating quasi-industrial musical hegemony through paypal transfers or allowing kindred spirits to keep tradition alive?
1954 definitions are fine but folk must then be seen in the same light as historical re-enactment, the sealed knot and so on; hermetically sealed discourses divorced from the people with whom they originated and mediated by third parties, collectors, intellectuals, i.e. orthogonal to the seamless, atemporal oral record that's assumed by the term 'folk'.

If I have a gripe it's with those who want to keep debate in the nursery, clutching at 'simple truths' where there are none, 'certainties' where there is contradiction and nuance. If people don't like the long words they can of course, always kiss my @rse.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: glueman
Date: 19 May 08 - 06:20 AM

BTW, if anyone's interested Vladimir Propp
did some excellent work on the structure of the Russian folk tale, many aspects of which are shared by English tales and songs, a language which shares a similar grammatic structure.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 19 May 08 - 06:25 AM

According to Isaac Walton in "The Complete Angler" (1652), folks definitely did sing for a fish or two/their supper.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 19 May 08 - 06:32 AM

Re definitions: I think there is a difference between what (these days) I would consider to be a folk song and what material I might consider appropriate in a general folk club... Some of it (notably what I might describe as coming from "The Bob Dylan school of contemporary [American I suppose] singer-songwriting) I might even dislike and wish it never had found a place in the broader usages of "folk" but I tend to agree we are there and can't turn time back.

---
divorced from the people
I love that one. "Traditional folk" wasn't. Little in the way of "contemporary folk" (including stuff I enjoy) really reaches many. Mostly, it's the pop songs that do that.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 May 08 - 07:13 AM

Sorry, Jim, I misinterpreted you then - The passage I had in mind was -

During the course of our collecting we have encountered a somewhat strange phenomenon. On several occasions we have recorded songs, here in Clare and also from Travellers, which must have been composed during the lifetimes of the singers. On two of these (both composed communally), the singers were present when the songs were made. Yet each time we have drawn a blank on finding the composers. It just didn't seem important enough to be remembered.

I took it to mean that the as the songs were composed during the life of the singer, the composer could, theoreticaly, still be alive.

Anyway - not to worry. I am not going to get hung up on that point because what I was saying, was that when the composer is not known, we cannot say if they made any money out of the song or not. Can we?

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 08 - 08:51 AM

Jon,
I realise that I am generalising, but one of the main differences between the two types of song for me is that while the traditional ones have been composed in a universal manner, thus enabling them to be taken up, adapted and used to represent different people and communities, the singer/songwriter type are, more often than not, introspective and private.
Some of the songwriters of the early revival (MacColl, Tawney, Rosselson, Guthrie etc, and even Dylan for a short time) set out to create universal songs, and they will, I believe, be with us for a long time to come. Quite honestly, I find the subject matter and form of most of the modern ones indistinguishable from that of the pop repertoire. I really can't see them being taken up and adapted, nor can I see them surviving the life or interest of the composers. Apart from anything else, the custom of copyrighting them will go a long way towards making sure of that anyway.
Can I make it clear that I am NOT making a value judgment on all this. Some of our most beautiful and important song and poetic literature is introspective. The traditional compositions reflected aspects of the communities, or trades, or ways of life - thence lies their importance and their difference.
Dave;
"when the composer is not known, we cannot say if they made any money out of the song or not. Can we?"
I would have thought that if the songs were being sold, the composers name would have survived, as did those of Waugh, Bamford, Hogg, and the host of local minor songwriters and kail yaird poets. Even the compositions that made it to the broadside presses seldom came with an named author.
The fact of the existence of a huge body of anonymous material dating back centuries and surviving (in some cases) into the mid 20th c. surely reinforces this.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 May 08 - 09:29 AM

I'm not convinced, Jim. Yes, the loads of anonymous material could indicate that the songs were not sold. It could also indicate that the businessmen or gentry who bought them were far wiser than the poor uneducated songwriters. There is ample evidence of songwriters being ripped off to this day and maybe, just maybe, some of the songs we love were purchased for enough to make the composer happy at the time but with no thought of perpeptuation of their name. As you say, even some broadsides are anonymous. We do not know who the author was. I think the only safe conclusion we can draw is that we will never know who, if anyone, benefitted and how!

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 19 May 08 - 09:50 AM

Well on a purely personal note I'd be far less likely to allow modern songs of an introspective and private nature as 'folk' (I personally would never say 'folk song' unless I was referring to Trad - but that's just me). I'd probably say 'folky.'

But there is a MASSIVE canon of work between the trad repertoire and the ARSS stuff you'rev referring to. Where do - to take just today's writers - Graham Miles, John Connelly, Jez Lowe, George Papavgeris, Matt Armour, Paul Metzes, Vin Garbutt, Ralph McTell, Allan Taylor, Bonnie Shaljean - golly scores of them - fit into that? There are plenty of modern writers who compose universal songs, trade songs and story songs - which you can't possibly dismiss as introspective and therefore short-lived for that reason. And they are indeed being taken up - in spades!

And there have always been writers who wrote sometimes about their feelings, sometimes about their communities, and sometimes about events. I'm afraid I'm not at all with you on that one, Jim.

I'm also not sure we can surmise that just because a makers name wasn't included on printed sheets that the writer never received any payment. You have said yourself that the culture was not to think about passing on the authorship of songs along with the words and/or tune. But that doesn't prove that publishers didn't 'employ' writers to provide material for them to sell. I'm not saying they did, just that we can't presume they didn't from your point above - specially as we know very well that lots of writers were typically were paid at various periods in history. They may not have fallen into the 54 definition, but their work soon did (e.g. Carolan) - and that's what this thread is all about.

We should bear in mind that until royalties became feasible with 20th century technology, the only realistic method of payment would have been outright sale, with ownership passing on at that point, and thus no need for record-keeping of any kind. It's hardly surprising that composers names are so rarely known.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: glueman
Date: 19 May 08 - 09:51 AM

If you take the idea of a 'meme', a unit of cultural information that spreads through practice, habit, song, dance, etc., as the 'virus' by which folk is spread, you are forced to confront the idea that this unit will also mutate and transform, the better to carry information appropriate for the time.
The idea of folk is quite flexible IMO, while still being irreducibly folkish, though individuals find some forms more resonant than others. I can find significance that's personally moving in say, sea shanties, blues and old timey, much less in bluegrass, modern idioms like Dylanesque and highly mannered English interpretations of folk (contemporary sensibilities either have the knack of emoting historical issues successfully or they don't and no amount of foldirolling can transport the listener).

Money may be the root of all evil but if folk is a rarified commodity, which purists seem to suggest it is, it becomes a valuable one. Quality isn't suggested by craftsmanship and virtuosity alone - the most obvious of popular temptations - but by verissimilitude and cultishness. I'm prepared to believe folk music lost something when it took the dollar/pound but there's no way of getting back to Eden, wish as we might. The greenback virus is part of the dna of music now, original sin if you will but whether harking back to a pre-avoirdupois state can tell us anything about music or ourselves is open to question.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 08 - 12:17 PM

Can we knock something on the head before we start slinging slogans about.
If I go into a shop and ask for mushroom soup, I'm being specific, not purist
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 08 - 12:26 PM

Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 19 May 08 - 02:34 AM

Tom,
90% of the English-speaking world don't have a definition for folk music - we never managed to involve them - more later - too bloody early.
Cap'n
I think I just heard the first cuckoo
Jim Carroll.very good Jim,Ihope he was calling in a major third.
but you havent still backed up your statement, money is the ruination of the music.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: glueman
Date: 19 May 08 - 01:05 PM

The fault line is the us/them thing. Is folk the music of the masses or not? If it isn't, who's music is it? Is Cajun or Zydeco a Frankenstein of some devalued primal form, or grown up music sold on the market place?
To be taken seriously, serious folk has to decide if the meat is in the tradition, the sound, the label or the chap doing the playing? To paraphrase art, is everything a folk musician does folk? Is mushroom soup any less authentic if it's sold as consomme champignon in a fancy restaurant, or to be posh, is the form inscribed in the delivery.
Nobody seems to have the answer including the man at 1954.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 08 - 03:36 PM

"Is mushroom soup any less authentic if it's sold as consomme champignon"
No, but if I order mushroom soup and I am brought a plate of baked beans something has gone severely wrong with our communication system.
Nobody has yet told me what the erzatz product and the real thing have in common enough for them to fall under the same classification - please tell why they are both 'folk'.
As many times as people use the term Geaneology it will remain an 'alogy' until somebody makes a cease for it being otherwise.
As many times as somebody may repeat that the 1954 definition is irrelevant, I have yet to hear one challenge to it.
Cap'n
One more time,
The older music saw the kitchen and crossroads dances virtually decimated by a charge being levied (one shilling per head I think) on everybody attending. This was backed up by the priests who claimed they didn't approve of young people meeting at such events unsupervised, but who really wanted to drive the people into church-run dance-halls (1935). The music barely survived this particular period.
Commercial records by Coleman et al established a manner of playing which virtually destroyed regional styles.
In latter days, when people started to be paid fees for playing at local bars, in many cases the sessions disappeared, to be replaced by recitals by professional musicians. It happened here in two pubs that have hosted sessions throughout most of the 20th century. It is the practice of some of these musicians to treat their 'booking' as a job of work, to get there at the allotted time, play up to the time they are paid for, and go home.
The complaint of the older people is that the 'craic' has gone from the music. In the old days the session was where you could go to play, stop and chat if you felt like it. In many cases it has become formal.
I won't start to talk about wrangles over playing (and in some cases recording) 'other people's tunes' that have caused dissention, and in some cases caused rancour in the communities, and and occasionally within families.
The last time we were in Connemara we were asked to pay €5.00 per head to go into a pub to listen to sean nós singing. Five years earlier we were in the same pub and when we asked about local singers, the feller we spoke to sang us half a dozen songs.
Our local traditional music centre is running seminars on how to make money out of singing.
All this may make you very happy - it pisses me off.
As I said, the older singers and musicians were there - we were not. Listen to them and you might - just - learn something.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 19 May 08 - 04:39 PM

Jim, there may be nothing to connect the ersatz with the real, or there may be much. It's a matter of personal taste and opinion - but they are NOT falling under the same classification. They are NOT both the same thing - any more than than primary red and generic red are the same. They are different things with the same name. One contains the other, that is all.

There are two different classifications here, an outer one and and an inner one, which happen (wrongly, stupidly, confusingly) to use the same word.

I've come up with a number of metaphors and careful explanations, yet you still seem to feel that we're trying to shoe-horn the wider description into the narrow, just because the label happens to be the same. We are not.

I'll have one final go, then I'll have to bow out.

'Grill' describes a type of restaurant, but also a kind of cooker. They have ovens and hobs and microwaves in the kitchen too. The chef knows only one machine makes toasted cheese, but he's happy for the whole business to be called a grill.

Or, to pick up on your metaphor, we have a tin of soup labelled 'folk.'

We have a larder labelled 'folk' - which contains the tin labelled 'folk.'

We are not cramming the contents of the larder into the tin.

We've just got a stupid muddle over names. And of those who recognise the problem and want to avoid future confusion, some want to re-label the tin, and some the larder.

As a majority believe that 'folk' means larder, and call the soup 'trad,' that's what's happened and is still happening. I don't know how or why it happened - I wasn't there. I only know it did - and the Wiki definition explains that pretty well too.

I'm sorry the old ways are gone. But that's not only happened in music. It's called society. And for everything we loose we gain something - some of which is actually better than what we had before. Like the minimum wage and health care.

Tom

PS Actually, though I haven't challenged the 54, I have, I hope, mounted a careful case for it for be viewed in context with the broader history of indigenous music - one that includes trade writers, writers-down and musicians.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Betsy
Date: 19 May 08 - 04:50 PM

Try doing it for a living .......there are much easier ways to pay the bills.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: glueman
Date: 19 May 08 - 05:38 PM

Something I've noticed is the way 'serious' folkies talk about it in code, like it's a secret for the initiated, something regular people wouldn't understand, sending snide broadsides across anyone who isn't a believer. It's a musical form. You can play it on instruments, sing the words and buy the records from shops where they'll talk about little else for as long as you can bear it. It had a peculiar genesis but it's still music that people can like or lump it. I don't get the mystique, smoke and mirrors that go with it and I love folk, proper and improper.
If it costs a few quid to hear it because the landlord can rent the spare room to the railway modellers I won't bust a gut. Try watching professional football if you want to get shafted seeing something people do for nothing. Avoid Cambridge maybe, and folk is still one of the last great life enhancing bargains out there.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 08 - 06:11 PM

All this may make you very happy - it pisses me off.
As I said, the older singers and musicians were there - we were not. Listen to them and you might - just - learn something.
Jim Carroll
no Jim It doesnt make me happy, its called change.
Please dont patronise me,I have listened to their singing a lot,and I have learned a lot.
listening to their singing is a different matter from accepting every statement a traditional singer, makes as being a pearl of wisdom.
here is an example,a good traditional fiddler once said to me in the old days, if we didnt have a top E string we used a bit of fishing line,and if we didnt have any rosin we used a bit of sugar.he dismissed with contempt the Piano[all its fit for is ding dong bell pussy in the well]never mind Beethoven or Josephine Keegan.
well sorry Jim,this guy was a good fiddler but there is no way I am going to put a fishing line on or use sugar,or dismiss the piano.
You still havent explained why cash is the ruination of the music,how did it ruin O Carolans music.
Margaret Barry,Julia Clifford ,Micheal Gorman were happy to play for cash,James Morrison was happy to teach for cash,how did financial reward ruin their music.
Finally,please do not insult my music by trying to imply I have never listened to traditional musicians/singers.Ihave listened long and hard ,I have also listened to what they say but I listen ,in the same way that I listen to anything else,rejecting that which is nonsense and accepting that which makes sense. Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 May 08 - 03:11 AM

Tom;
"Folk music is the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission. The factors that shape the tradition are: (i) continuity which links the present with the past; (ii) variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group; and (iii) selection by the community, which determines the form or forms in which the music survives.
The term can be applied to music that has been evolved from rudimentary beginnings by a community uninfluenced by popular and art music and it can likewise be applied to music which has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community.
The term does not cover composed popular music that has been taken over ready-made by a community and remains unchanged, for it is the re-fashioning and re-creation of the music by the community that gives it its folk character."
What quarrel do you have with that - or what characteristics does your music have that will fit into that definition.
I could put up 'Some Conclusions' from which this was derived, and which fully covers (not always accurately) the sources of the songs and music - or the 16 page version from Funk and Wagnall's Standard Dictionary of Folklore - or A L Lloyd's reasonable effort to expand and bring up to date the definition in Folk Song in England', but as far as I'm concerned, the 1954 version is your starting point; ignore it and you have no case.
As we seem to be into analogies I've told Joe Heaney's story before, but it's a fair example of the double-think that seems to surround this subject.
"Once there was a Protestant who moved into a Catholic area, fell in love with a Catholic girl and wanted to marry her, but first had to ask the priest, who readily gave permission on the condition that he changed his religion.
One Friday, a week after the wedding the priest was cycling past the cottage when he caught the smell of frying bacon coming out of the window.
Knocked on the door and said, "don't you know us Catholics are forbidden to eat meat on a Friday?"
Your man replied, "Father, I can't do without meat every day - what shall I do?"
The priest replied, Each Friday you find the urge for meat coming on   
repeat to yourself "I'm a Catholic, I'm a Catholic, I'm a Catholic".
A month or so later, one Friday, the priest was going past the house again and, sure enough, the smell of frying bacon.
Furious, he jumps of his bike and storms into the house, to find your man sitting in front of a plate of bacon and cabbage saying, "You're a fish, you're a fish, you're a fish".
As I said at the beginning - flag of convenience.
The confusion surrounding what now passes for folk has been the cause of us losing many thousands of enthusiasts who were no longer prepared to sit through a 'folk' evenings without a 'folk' song being sung (such as the one a few years ago in the North of England that put on a night of Beatles songs).
The continuing 'Humpty Dumpty' attitude will probably mean that real songs will only survive between the covers of books or in sound archives - pity.
Cap'n,
Stop throwing your toys out of the pram - address the points I have made or go and talk to somebody else - I really don't have time for thas.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 20 May 08 - 03:54 AM

I'm really sorry Jim, but I can't just go on repeating that I have no quarrel with the 54, and my music has no characteristics that will fit into that definition, and I have never once claimed that they have, nor ever will.

The 54 tin is still sealed, safe inside the Wiki larder. It just has 'trad' on the front now instead of 'folk.'

My music is in a DIFFERENT tin, also inside the Wiki larder, and it's labelled 'new story songs (about real or mythical events), and/or some 54 trad.'

Some other people decided, 40 years ago, to stick the word 'folk' on the front of the larder. So when I'm telling people where to find my tin I have to tell them to look behind the door marked 'folk.' I could keep my tin in the cleaning cupboard, of course, or under the stairs or in the garage, but I don't think it's really fair to expect me to. Soup tins live in larders.

I think you may have a wood/trees problem here.

Cheers

Tom


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 20 May 08 - 05:06 AM

As I said at the beginning - flag of convenience.

These days (my views have changed over the years I've posted here), I suspect you might be right. Were definitions based for examaple on the content of songs (sort of "meaningful words", "related to 'the people'", etc.) invented by a 60s contemporary singer-songwriter movement to justify their material as being "folk" and possibly even to provide themselves with an outlet for their music?

Whatever, "folk" has meant different things to different people for a long time and few are going to change their minds (and btw, some will say the term "folk" is "terminally screwed" and they might have a point) about what it is.

You can give your views for all your worth but your unlikely to achieve much other than attract labels such as "purist" and "folk police", etc. and so it goes on. The Internet has been littered with such debates probably since folk was first discussed on it, there never has been a general agreement and there never will be.

I'm not suggesting no-one should ever state what folk is to them but just to be aware of this mess we have with the term...


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 May 08 - 05:10 AM

Tom
Folk folk - I'll have to think about that!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 May 08 - 05:20 AM

Cap'n,
Stop throwing your toys out of the pram - address the points I have made or go and talk to somebody else - I really don't have time for thas.
Jim Carroll. sounds like the pot calling the kettle black.
For the last time[this is like talking to a brick wall] how has cash been the ruination of the music?
cash enables musicians to buy better instruments which allows them to perform better.
publicans have on occasions bought instruments[see Packie Russell Clare Gus OConnors pub.Ithink?],to be played in their pub,Isnt this a form of payment,ensuring that the session takes place in a particular pub,to the benefit of the publican who sells more beer.
I am sure this wasnt the publicans motive,but nevertheless more people would go to the bar because that was where the music was.http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=EBwTNaGGPBE


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 20 May 08 - 05:35 AM

Flag of convenience might have been a reasonable criticism in the 60s when the change was happening, and you may well be right Jon. But I think it's more subtle than that.

As I say - I wasn't there. I was incarcerated in an English Public School, where anything other than classical music was banned.

But I suspect what may have happened was that there was a bunch of people - mainly in the US - who started out doing bona fide 54 folk songs (Dylan and Simon were of course hugely influenced by their exposure to the UK revival, as were MacColl and others over here), but then began to write their own material. They may have written songs before doing 54 folk, but this is how they were first perceived by the public - as 54-ish singers. They then merely retained that tag when they began making new works in - initially - a similar style. And of course they went on singing some trad material too (as most of us still do), so it wasn't a total deception. Lloyd was doing something much more 'complicated' at the same time, and he was a proper scholar.

So flag of convenience might be a bit unfair on the artists. I'd look to the music journalists, record companies, DJs and promoters if I looking for scapegoats - because marketing obviously did come into it, but basically this is just what happens to music and language and society in general.

To me RnB will always be fast ('jump') blues. But I wouldn't accuse Mariah Carey of flying a flag of convenience. The meaning of the word changed to include "any music that was made by and for black Americans" (though scholars might dispute that - how'd I know)!

And no-one would suggest that Carey was pretending to sound like Dr Feelgood.

Or would they?

Tom


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 May 08 - 01:11 PM

Cap'n,
Thank you for providing me with exactly the example I was talking about.
I don't know if you have ever visited Doolin; it's half an hours drive north of here.
When we first went there 'Doolin' it didn't exist as a town, it was a collection of small houses and a pub on Doolin Point; it was then called Fisherstreet,.
There were three noted musicians there, the Russell brothers, Packie (one of the finest concertina players in Ireland), Gussie (an excellent flute player) and Micho; they played regularly at O'Connor's pub with a couple of other locals; lovely music and a regular crowd of listeners.
Soon afterwards it began to attract tourists, who eventually arrived in droves armed with guitars, banjos, bodhrans, 12 string Kalashnikovs, spoons, kazoos – you name it they brought it. In a short time the locals were edged out and the visitors took over.
The last time we saw Packie he was sitting quietly in the corner with half a dozen pints bought by the visitors, plastered and not playing. He died shortly afterwards
When we last visited O'Connor's a few years ago, as we drew out of the car park a coach was pulling in, crammed with ten-gallon hats and 12 guitars.
It is now somewhat like lady's day at Ascot; a place to go to be seen and heard, certainly not to listen to good traditional music.
Doolin itself is a huge, sprawling theme park of hostels, holiday homes and visitors shops.
If this is what you have in mind for Irish music, or rural Ireland – please close the door as you leave.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 May 08 - 04:25 PM

Jim,Im not running the country unfortunately.
you give a one sided version of tourism.,I agree some of what you say is true,the other side of the coin is this,going back to the days when everyone[including musicians] had to leave Ireland to get work.
Ireland has very little productive industry,other than agriculture[and if Ireland votes yes in the lisbon treaty,Irelands Agriculture will go the same way as Irelands fishing],Tourism in Ireland is a twentieth century fact.,however it needs to be controlled,it cant be reversed.
in my area there are still unpaid sessions[that occur all the year round].
your one example, does not prove that cash has been the ruination of the music,it may have ruined o connors pub,but you are generalising from the particular.
thousands of Irish youngsters are learning to play irish music,some of them will end up playing for money,some of them will play purely for their own enjoyment,the main thing is that most of the time the music [In my experience]in my area is being played and played well,.
what is needed is a happy medium,we dont need the leprechauns gap,or plastic paddys,what we should be striving towards,is quality not quantity,to be able to play the music without compromising it.
I have been involved in organising The Ballydehob Jazz Festival,this brings people to Ballydehob,our artistic line up was not compromised,we had the following artists Joe Davidian,Sam Hudson Quartet, julia farino quartet includes Dave Moses]Willie Garnett.
Dan Moriyama Trio,Martin Vallely Quartet,and many more,without cash this would not have been possible.
Ballydehob also hosted a traditional festival which included EdelFox BobbyGardner,SeamusCreagh,Jackie Daly and many more,again without cash it would not be possible.
finally in my experience tourists are the most appreciative and polite audiences,listening attentively, and eager to know about history and regional styles etc. Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 May 08 - 07:44 AM

Cap'n
Thanks for the lesson in Irish history and economics - much appreciated.
You put up a reference to a page which illustrates for me where money has had a devastating effect on traditional music.
Of course, you might also have mentioned the folk boom of the sixties, the aftershocks of which are still showing up on our Richter Scale.
I am not arguing that nobody should make money from folk music (proper or ersatz) - I am saying that making money the main object of the exercise has damaged and will continue to damage the music. Put it in the hands of the businessmen (sorry Tom) and they will turn it into a product to be marketed and exploited.
Kennedy, by turning the fruits of his labours into a financially driven cottage industry undid much of the good achieved by the 1950s
collecting programme.
Anybody who has worked at collecting knows what a minefield it can become if money is part of the equation.
Make traditional music part of 'cutural tourism' in the way Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Eireann has in the past and it will be 'Darby O Gilled' as sure as the Pope's a Catholic.
The way that the original questioner set out his or her question is full of imponderables, but the main points for me are:
"Should anyone be making money out of Folk?" - no reason why not - with qualifications
"Would Folk survive without professional singers and musicians?" It would be a very sad state of affairs if it couldn't.
Do folkies want to have their music recognised by the general public. That's what it's been about for me from the year dot.
Folk music, in its proper sense, is, as the Topic set rightly puts it, "The Voice of The People". As well as being a wonderful entertainment it is a vital, and largely undocumented part of our cultural and social history; a voice of people who, it has always been assumed, have no voice. Squander it and you silence that voice.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 May 08 - 07:51 AM

Do folkies want to have their music recognised by the general public.
well as far as Iam concerned, yes,but with qualifications,I dont want any of my singing to be used for adverts,and I dont want to have to compromise my material,to be successful.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 21 May 08 - 08:44 AM

I agree with everything you say Jim, but i will quibble with one tiny word: 'is.'

You said "Folk music, in its proper sense, is, as the Topic set rightly puts it, "The Voice of The People."

I'd say 54 folk music WAS the voice of the people, and occasionally still is, but actually today pop music is the voice of the people.

I agree that it's a huge shame this has happened, and that our connection to our musical roots has been so damaged - but it has.

And I agree that it would be a great thing if we could somehow reconnect the 'people' (I hate that term, actually, who the heck isn't a person?) with that voice - for, yes, both cultural and entertainment reasons. But we're not going to do that by fretting over the influence of money in the past or in the present.

The bough has been cut. The limb severed. Yes there is life in it yet, but it lies on the ground largely detached from its roots. And yet we expect leaves and flowers - and nuts, and we're getting them.

So where is the sap coming from? It's coming from where it always has - a combination of enthusiastic amateurism and responsible professionalism.

If we want to graft this limb back into the tree we're going to have to use some artificial techniques - including promotion and marketing and professionalism and expertise and other things which may not have been a major part of the tradition, but which have always played their part, and are doing so particularly effectively at the moment - through the efforts of festival organisers, club organisers, arts funding bodies, teachers, record companies, magazine editors, AND artists - for all of whom money is important, (even if profit may not be to all).

Because most people who encounter 54 folk today do so as a direct result of some exercise in which trade plays some role. Many still do so from family or community, of course - and hopefully that percentage is growing - but I'd hazard that they are still a small minority.

If we don't take these steps, the limb could dry out and die.

If we do, and in the process stop using words like 'theft' and 'squander,' and 'exploitation,' and try instead to see money as sap, as blood, as adrenaline - then we may, with luck, in time see a healthy tree which can once again draw from its roots as it should, and did, and does in other countries.

But of course all your caveats stand too.

Tom

PS Without Kennedy's cottage industry we'd have lost the Channel Island tradition entirely. For ever.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 May 08 - 10:21 AM

Tom,
I'm talking in historical terms - yes we lost our voice when the tradition disappeared, but no, it was not replaced by pop music.
Today we are passive recipients in our culture, our only say in the matter is to buy or not to by.
There is no way in which pop culture reflects our lives, it comes ready made and packaged - we take it or we leave it. There were suggestions at the time punk came into existence that this would be the new 'peoples' culture, but the market soon put a stop to that.
There have always been other forms of music alongside of folk culture - music-hall, classical etc., but the uniqueness of the folk tradition is that 'ordinary' people have had a part in its making, adapting and transmission.
If pop music is now 'our' voice, please explain where it reflects any aspects of out lives or work in they way say the sea songs, or the bothy songs, or the poaching songs did. And please explain what part we have in its creation
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 21 May 08 - 10:26 AM

Ok Jim you win. I'm wrong! All the best - Tom


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 May 08 - 10:28 AM

PS
Kennedy was part of a team working on behalf of BBC and EFDSS.
It is usually forgotten that Bob Copper, Seamus Ennis, Sean O'Boyle and a number of others gathered the material which he later appropriated.
I would guess that in terms of the tradition, he probably lost us as much as he saved.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 May 08 - 11:38 AM

Ah Tom,
You're no fun anymore
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 21 May 08 - 12:44 PM

yes we lost our voice when the tradition disappeared, but no, it was not replaced by pop music.

Replaced no, but most of what "the people" absorb well enough to sing is pop music, or. at least I think so. Stop the clock now, take away recorded music, get "ordinary people" to try and sing a few songs they know together. Or maybe just try a karaoke night to find out what is in the (sort of) oral repertoire today.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: glueman
Date: 21 May 08 - 12:50 PM

More or less wrote what Jon said before the elctro-mechanical brain dropped the line and lost it. Punk was as participatory as folk in its own way and matched it for anti-establishment fervour and simplicity.
I'm caught in the middle - miss the old farmer's pubs of the 70s where singalongs of traditional stuff would just begin unprompted - but see folk revival as the bourgeois, genteel activity it has become.


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 May 08 - 03:12 AM

Jon,
I have no argument with the statement that today people will listen to, and occasionally sing their way though the pop songs; this hasn't replaced the folk repertoire, it's always been there.
Walter Pardon, with his large repertoire of traditional songs and ballads, was among the most important traditional singers of the twentieth century, yet he could easily match those with music hall songs, Victorian parlour ballads and early pop songs. If you asked him about the different types of songs in his repertoire, he was quite adamant – some were 'folk songs' (his words) some weren't. His analysis of which was which was, in my opinion, quite accurate, both when he spoke into our tape recorded, and as early as 1948, when he began to write down his families songs in notebooks and listed them in categories. .
Mary Delaney, a blind Irish Travelling woman, gave us around 100 traditional songs, and would have doubled that number if we hadn't lost touch when she moved out of London. She could have doubled that number again with Country and Western songs, but she persistently refused, telling us that "those aren't the ones you are looking for".   
She told us (on tape) that "the new songs have the old ones ruined"; she "only sang them 'cause that's what the lads ask for down the pub" (again on tape).
Kerry Traveller Mikeen McCarthy gave us around 60 songs, mostly traditional, with a few early pop songs of the sentimental Irish type thrown in. He said he'd never thought about whether there was a difference between the types of song, but when we tried him on it, he had pictures in his mind when he sang his folk songs, "it's like sitting in the cinema" – he never got this with his pop songs.
Walter Pardon filled tapes with descriptions of the characters in his songs, and of the locations they were set in, and of the different 'feel' his songs had – "The Pretty Ploughboy is always ploughing in the field over there" (opposite his house).
We have dozens of examples of this type of identification; from Norfolk, from Travellers and from the West of Ireland.
People who want to sing for entertainment will take whatever is there; it's my opinion that the folk songs went far beyond that – and it's that we've lost.
Mary Delaney sang us a ballad she called 'Buried In Kilkenny', a superb version of the Child ballad 'Lord Randall'; she always made a good job of it, but because she didn't get to sing her folk stuff regularly she tended to overpitch and her concentration was on getting it right technically.
She had a large family of 16 children; when we met her a number of them were at school age, but hadn't been to school because of her itinerant life style.
When she was travelling round East London she decided to try and educate them, so she moved into a council flat in Hackney in order to send them to the local school. I have never known anybody so miserable – she hated every second of it. Completely blind, she was alone all day, devastatingly lonely; the only visitors she got were us, and the occasional Traveller friend who dropped in to see her (Travellers still on the road hate houses, and will only stay in them for as short time as possible).
One night we went to see her with a tape recorder and asked her to sing 'Lord Randal', which she did. It was electric – all the misery and loneliness and loss of her natural lifestyle was poured into the song; she was virtually in tears, and so were we.
If you can tell me that you can get the same level of emotional involvement from singing 'Oobla Dee, Oobla Dah', or 'Yellow Submarine' down at the pub, I'm willing to listen, but I'll take some convincing.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Money v Folk
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 22 May 08 - 04:37 AM

Jim, the repertoire is still there and always will be but I think its only a small minority who know any of it. I think it's the same with more modern "folk" songs. No Man's Land for example is probably known by all who go to any type of folk club but it wouldn't be known by anyone I know who doesn't go to a folk club.

I'm not sure how you would quantify "emotional involvement" but a few years back I was involved in what I will call an "accoustic pub thrash" (I wouldn't insult terms like "session"). We played tunes mostly but there were some songs including Yellow Submarine, I Saw Her Standing There and Wonderwall. On a good night, people would join in with those ones.

Throw in "Caliope House" amongst a tune set in that sort of pub group and you might find some more interest as a good few know it - it followed on from A Man Is In Love by The Waterboys. Dirty Old Town will probably be known - Pogues did it...

Anyway, I'm just trying to give a picture of how I (perhaps wrongly) think thinks are, not pass judgement on quality or degrees of pleasure one may get (but I will say although I'm English and live in England, my first love is the Irish session - for me there is nothing better than getting together with a others and playing the music).


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