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Money v Folk

Dave the Gnome 18 May 08 - 12:11 PM
Dave the Gnome 18 May 08 - 12:03 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 18 May 08 - 11:41 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 18 May 08 - 11:39 AM
The Sandman 18 May 08 - 11:19 AM
TheSnail 18 May 08 - 11:17 AM
Jim Carroll 18 May 08 - 10:45 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 18 May 08 - 10:22 AM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 18 May 08 - 04:53 AM
GUEST,Georgina Boyes 17 May 08 - 06:32 PM
Dave the Gnome 17 May 08 - 06:07 PM
The Sandman 17 May 08 - 02:45 PM
GUEST 17 May 08 - 02:29 PM
GUEST 17 May 08 - 02:26 PM
Dave the Gnome 17 May 08 - 01:00 PM
GUEST,Georgina Boyes 17 May 08 - 11:39 AM
GUEST 17 May 08 - 10:43 AM
TheSnail 17 May 08 - 06:14 AM
Howard Jones 17 May 08 - 05:22 AM
Dave the Gnome 17 May 08 - 01:49 AM
Jim Carroll 16 May 08 - 02:18 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 15 May 08 - 06:10 PM
Dave the Gnome 15 May 08 - 05:58 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 15 May 08 - 02:15 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 15 May 08 - 09:32 AM
Jim Carroll 15 May 08 - 08:45 AM
Dave the Gnome 14 May 08 - 07:26 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 14 May 08 - 04:32 PM
Dave the Gnome 14 May 08 - 04:26 PM
GUEST,The Mole Catcher's unplugged Apprentice 14 May 08 - 03:44 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 14 May 08 - 03:11 PM
Jack Campin 14 May 08 - 01:55 PM
Don Firth 14 May 08 - 01:29 PM
Don Firth 14 May 08 - 01:26 PM
Dave the Gnome 14 May 08 - 01:11 PM
Don Firth 14 May 08 - 01:06 PM
GUEST, Sminky 14 May 08 - 12:16 PM
Dave the Gnome 14 May 08 - 11:38 AM
TheSnail 14 May 08 - 11:13 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 14 May 08 - 10:56 AM
TheSnail 14 May 08 - 10:47 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 14 May 08 - 10:29 AM
Snuffy 14 May 08 - 09:21 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 14 May 08 - 09:11 AM
Snuffy 14 May 08 - 08:53 AM
Dave the Gnome 14 May 08 - 07:17 AM
TheSnail 14 May 08 - 06:58 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 14 May 08 - 06:35 AM
GUEST, Sminky 14 May 08 - 06:09 AM
GUEST,Jon 14 May 08 - 06:06 AM
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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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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,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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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,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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 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 - 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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 01:06 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: 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: 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: 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: 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 - 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 - 10:29 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: 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 - 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 - 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: 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: 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: 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: 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,Jon
Date: 14 May 08 - 06:06 AM

OK, sorry I missunderstood you, grab.


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