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How traditional should it be?

Sleepy Rosie 02 Dec 08 - 07:00 AM
trevek 02 Dec 08 - 06:46 AM
Tootler 01 Dec 08 - 06:04 PM
Phil Edwards 01 Dec 08 - 03:53 AM
Richard Mellish 30 Nov 08 - 07:23 PM
Phil Edwards 30 Nov 08 - 10:21 AM
Tootler 28 Nov 08 - 07:00 PM
Jack Blandiver 28 Nov 08 - 03:15 PM
VirginiaTam 28 Nov 08 - 03:03 PM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 28 Nov 08 - 11:26 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 28 Nov 08 - 11:03 AM
Banjiman 28 Nov 08 - 10:59 AM
Phil Edwards 28 Nov 08 - 10:56 AM
Spleen Cringe 28 Nov 08 - 09:52 AM
Sleepy Rosie 28 Nov 08 - 09:48 AM
Spleen Cringe 28 Nov 08 - 09:34 AM
Spleen Cringe 28 Nov 08 - 09:32 AM
Jack Blandiver 28 Nov 08 - 09:28 AM
Banjiman 28 Nov 08 - 07:36 AM
Banjiman 28 Nov 08 - 07:32 AM
Phil Edwards 28 Nov 08 - 07:03 AM
Phil Edwards 28 Nov 08 - 06:31 AM
Terry McDonald 28 Nov 08 - 06:01 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 28 Nov 08 - 05:16 AM
Jack Blandiver 28 Nov 08 - 05:13 AM
Phil Edwards 28 Nov 08 - 04:15 AM
Suegorgeous 27 Nov 08 - 07:59 PM
Richard Mellish 27 Nov 08 - 06:51 PM
Phil Edwards 27 Nov 08 - 06:04 PM
VirginiaTam 27 Nov 08 - 05:07 PM
VirginiaTam 27 Nov 08 - 05:03 PM
Phil Edwards 27 Nov 08 - 04:56 PM
VirginiaTam 27 Nov 08 - 03:55 PM
Phil Edwards 27 Nov 08 - 03:26 PM
Suegorgeous 27 Nov 08 - 03:22 PM
Phil Edwards 27 Nov 08 - 12:59 PM
greg stephens 27 Nov 08 - 12:43 PM
Spleen Cringe 27 Nov 08 - 12:20 PM
Dave the Gnome 27 Nov 08 - 12:04 PM
GUEST, Sminky 27 Nov 08 - 12:03 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 27 Nov 08 - 12:03 PM
Sleepy Rosie 27 Nov 08 - 11:53 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 27 Nov 08 - 11:29 AM
Spleen Cringe 27 Nov 08 - 09:33 AM
greg stephens 27 Nov 08 - 09:05 AM
GUEST, Sminky 27 Nov 08 - 08:44 AM
greg stephens 27 Nov 08 - 08:25 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 27 Nov 08 - 08:22 AM
GUEST, Sminky 27 Nov 08 - 06:51 AM
Richard Bridge 27 Nov 08 - 06:06 AM
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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 07:00 AM

Tootler, yeah, definitely a sharp generational difference in my own experience of people spontaniously singing - both to amuse themselves and to participate in family do's. There's also a cultural difference in my own experience (Irish still plenty singing & dancing with younger folk/English much much less of same with younger generations). But as to the generational difference in particular, my Grandmothers would sing all the time while cooking, cleaning and ironing. But apart from me, I don't hear that happening at all now, in the homes I visit. The vast increase in electrickery powered domestic entertainments/distractions (like stereo's, phones, PC, internet and especially of course daytime telly), must have everything to do with it IMO.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: trevek
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 06:46 AM

I was once involved in a theatre project based around the Kalevala, which, as many will know, is a Finnish epic written by Elias Lonnrot (sp)but based on lyrics of runesongs which he collected "from source".

When challenged about his right to deviate from the original lyrics Lonnrot (who never hid the fact that he adapted, and made the originals available to all)commented that the singers themselves adapted lyrics and as he knew had learned these songs from the singers he felt he was simply one of them doing what they did.

When we premiered the work a translator of Kalevala gave a short speech and commented that "When an oral tradition is written down the tradition stops". Now, I disagreed with him, I felt the tradition merely took a different route (shown by the fact there are numerous interpretations, musically, literary and theatrically of Kalevala material).

Terry McDonald's post above made me think about this, as he mentions Eric Bogle.

Let's consider Bogle's "The Bands Played Waltzing Matilda". Obviosly it is a modern composition and is able to be sourced to EB. However, it is a folk-club standard.

Like many people, I first heard the song as performed by the Fureys. I learned the song from a record. Later, when I got the dots to their version, I found that they had learned it from the singing of someone else. Only when I found the dots to the Bogle version did I realise how different the lyrics are. Since then my singing has been based around the Bogle version.

How many of us have been accosted by someone who tells us that we weren't singing the right words because we didn't sing the Furey's version.

What has this to do with tradition? Well, the way I see it is that with so many people knowing the Furey's lyrically different version, am I going against the tradition of transmission by trying to return to the original (superior!) lyrics as learned from a book, rather than aural transmission?

I don't think so, because surely written music is now so established as a tradition in its own right that I'm simply choosing my path.

This brings me to the question of 'anonymity'.
A quick look at Youtube will be revealing in this case. It is amazing how much mis-information is floating around about this song.

There are those who believe that the song was written by a dying soldier, or at least someone who fought in Gallipolli. Others believe it is actually about a specific soldier in an Irish regiment (Enniskillens, I believe)and is an Irish song (apparently this comes froma researcher actually checking to see if there really was a Pvt William McBride who died in 1916 at the age of 19, although Bogle says he just made the details up).

So, the song, despite being modern, creditted to a songwriter, written down, electronically transmitted etc has become (in some cases) anonymous, subject to variation and even mythologised.

Isn't this either becoming a 'traditional' song or alrady one?


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Tootler
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 06:04 PM

My grandmother used to sing as she did her housework as did my mother for many years, though she stopped eventually - why, I don't know, but she did. I once commented to my mother on my grandmother's ability to pick a song that suited something you said to her and she told me that my great grandmother (who I can just remember) was even better at it because she had a larger repertoire. In one sense, none of these women were exceptional and, I suspect were not unusual. While you cannot say that statistically these three people form a significant sample, it may be that they were indicative of more people singing just for the simple pleasure of singing and because it was a good way to make mundane tasks bearable, especially as in their early years there would have been no radio or recordings to listen to.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 01 Dec 08 - 03:53 AM

I know of no evidence that the number actually had ever been much greater than it was then, or is now.

'Source singers' as we know them now - people who know dozens of songs by heart - maybe not. But there very definitely were more singers, because that was the only way the songs could live - by being sung. A single can sell tens of thousands of copies without anyone singing the song. If a broadside ballad sells tens of thousands of copies (and some of them did), tens of thousands of people were singing that song.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 07:23 PM

Responding to a couple of Pip's comments:

Yes I agree that the folk process is going on only among a fairly small community -- but I strongly suspect that the people who remember songs (especially songs from past centuries) sufficiently to sing them in more or less their entirety, and who change them consciously or unconsciously, have ALWAYS been a small proportion of the population.

When the collectors went out around a hundred years ago, they found very few singers, and thought those were the last survivors of a much greater number in the past, but I know of no evidence that the number actually had ever been much greater than it was then, or is now.

Richard


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Nov 08 - 10:21 AM

Apropos of nothing much, this was 1979 for me (NB visuals don't accurately represent musicians). That or, slightly more cheerfully, this (NB visuals garish and peculiar).


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Tootler
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 07:00 PM

The late great one

And a couple of favourites.

A fine live version

And then there's this


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 03:15 PM

Cheers, Spleen!

I posted a Clash link on the London's Burning

My favourite pop song of all time:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=zf_TFi0WIGQ&feature=related


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 03:03 PM

Is this considered pop?


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 11:26 AM

Banjiman - it depends if you subscribe to the 1977 definition or not...


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 11:03 AM

Pip - a truly magic moment. Thank you!


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Banjiman
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 10:59 AM

ah Spleeny, yes The Clash, fantastic!....... but does this song fit the academic definition of "Pop"? I'm not sure it does, however great it is.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 10:56 AM

Godlike genius, eh? ("Mama, can you hear me yell? Your baby boy's gone back to hell!")

As for Sparks, I remember that vividly - I was particularly fascinated by the question of whether the singer was a man or a woman. That's proper androgynous.

Rosie - blimey; I never thought I'd hear that Bowie song again. I've actually got it paused now while I check whether I still know all the lyrics (used to be a regular when I was walking the dog on the downs, some ridiculous number of years ago)...

...naah. I'm all right from "It's the madness in his eyes" to the end (although I'd have to check I can still get the high notes), but the second verse is a bit fuzzy. OK, Dave, hit it...

Coo. Actually the version I knew is this one (only without quite so many scratches!) Is that good or what?


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 09:52 AM

My first ever TOTP moment of epiphany


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 09:48 AM

Thanks for Poptones Pip Radish.

Excellent thread derail too...

Greatest pop songs maybe not, but simply favorite songs:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=gHYj2HVyMuU

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=p2jyzIrzs5Y

Just beautiful:
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=pYgdQS_jPcc

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=x2KRpRMSu4g

I wear lace and I wear black leather:
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=4mtfJjAR_1M&feature=related

All from my parents old LP's...


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 09:34 AM

One for you, IB:

Contender for the best pop song ever


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 09:32 AM

Oi Banjiman! Good shout, both of 'em. I'll raise you this little beauty, though: Godlike Genius


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 09:28 AM

Yes, yes & yes...

But, getting back to pop fundamentals - You've Either Got It Or You Ain't (music starts at 1.19!)

And Peel favs - The Official Video

And... The Perfect Folk


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Banjiman
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 07:36 AM

But it is a toss up with this one . Good year 1978!


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Banjiman
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 07:32 AM

Wedding Present....very cool. But you want the best pop song ever?

I'm with John Peel........Pop as it should be!

Paul


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 07:03 AM

IB - hmmm. I'll pass over 1985.

One of the alternative Youtubes of your 1978 is titled "THE BEST BASSLINE EVER". I'd go along with that, although this is close.

1973 - yeah, I guess, although I was sold in 1972. And I'll see your 1975 and raise you 1990. (Unfortunately they've cut off the octave jump on the last chorus, which is one of the best bits.)

Now I really must get back to work...


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 06:31 AM

Some time in the early 60s, someone asked Dylan at a press conference how many protest singers there were. He looked fazed for a moment - How many? - then said, with complete confidence, A hundred and twenty.

How many folkies are there in the world? 120,000? Maybe - probably not many more than that. What proportion of the population of England are folkies - one in a thousand? Yes, oral transmission is still going on, and songs are still developing and changing, within a small network of hobbyists. I don't think that's anything to be ashamed of - if anything it's something to be proud of - but it's light-years away from the conditions that produced and preserved the traditional repertoire.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 06:01 AM

I was thinking about this thread at Wimborne Folk Club last night because someone sang Eric Bogle's 'Somewhere in America.' It's a song that I also sing, but 'my' version has a chorus, and I accompany myself on guitar. The version sung last night had no chorus, was unaccompanied, the melody was (in places) different to the one I sing, and occasionally the words were slightly different.

Now, I've never heard Eric Bogle's version - I learned it from the singing of the Ennis Sisters of St John's, Newfoundland and have probably altered it slightly. I don't know where the other singer learned his version but it would seem to me that this is an example of a recently composed song, by a well known writer, that is undergoing some sort of 'folk process.' My version is on MySpace (www.myspace.com/terrymcdonalddorset) and will be the opening track of my (vanity published) CD. The 'other' singer is also recording a CD at the moment, albeit as part of a duo, but I don't know whether 'Somewhere in America' will be on it. If it was, we'd have two similar, rather than identical, songs.

I can, if pushed, think of a couple of other examples where this is happening - Darcy Farrow for starters. Again, I've never heard it by its writers, and I've never heard the John Denver version. I learned it from other singers at Wimborne and I sing slightly different words to them. (My knowledge of the geography of California/Nevada is better than theirs....).

So, I would go along with Richard Mellish argue that despite the impact of recordings etc, songs are still being absorbed into some sort of folk tradition and will continue to do so.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 05:16 AM

Pip,

The trouble is that pop songs are mainly concocted for teenagers and I suspect that most people would choose something that was current when they were young. For example, I like 'The Girl from Ipanema' and 'Penny Lane' - but rather than saying anything about the quality of those particular songs those choices probably say much more about my age!


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 05:13 AM

if you can name a pop single better than the three I've listed above I'll be glad to hear it.

Here's three to be going on with:

1973 - A Defining Moment in Musical History

1975 - The Best Pop Single of All Time

1985 - Conclusive Proof that God Exists

And, of course...

1978 - For Those Who've Never Heard It (I bet there's a few here anyway...)

But Folk music? God forbid!


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Nov 08 - 04:15 AM

Sue - yes, of course; actually that's why I originally nominated SMBJ rather than one of the really obvious choices (like, er, Strawberry Fields Forever or Good Vibrations). Still, that to me is so much the essence of a great pop song that I'm really curious to know what people who slate it would put in its place. Maybe I'll start a BS thread.

Richard - yes, the folk process is still going in a few isolated pockets, but as far as 99% of society is concerned it's gone. Apart from anything else, as folkies we're specialists - it's a bit like saying that people never stopped wearing flares and big collars, because you can see people wearing them at a Seventies Night.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 07:59 PM

Pip - loads of 'em........but actually it's subjective, isn't it?


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 06:51 PM

Pip said "I believe the folk process is basically over, because the oral tradition is basically dead - killed by the ubiquity of broadcast music and recorded music."

Recordings have not killed the folk process. It can be seen at work in the folk clubs. My namesake Richard Bridge has just admitted to perpetrating it, and I've heard others: e.g. in The Weary Whaling Grounds "the flying jib points home" has been turned into "our fine ship points for home" -- not only a mondegreen but inconsistent with the rest of the song. In The Galway Shawl I've heard "We kept on walking, SHE kept on talking", giving a whole new subtext to the song: the girl was a chatterbox, perhaps better left behind and remembered than she would have been as a wife. The subtle detail in successive verses of McColl's "Schooldays are over" (is that the right title?) -- John is a "pitman", Dai is a "miner", and Jim is a collier, respectively suggesting the North-East, Wales and Scotland -- gets lost in a random interchange of these terms.

But to return to the original subject of this thread, there's one aspect that I haven't seen mentioned yet.

As well as the question whether a change to traditional material is for the better or the worse, which is certainly a subjective judgement, there's also whether it is true to the tradition and to the original material. That is also to some extent a subjective judgement, but not totally. Some collected tradition bearers either weren't very good singers or were long past their prime when recorded. Singing their songs in tune and putting pauses for breath at appropriate points in the text, rather than when one's breath happens to run out, makes an aesthetic improvement without violating any spirit of the original. Adding an accompaniment may or may not be an improvement, depending on taste; but adding a rumpty-tumpty jolly accompaniment to a song of tragedy (such as The Jam of Gerry's Rocks, which I recently heard treated thus) implies a serious disregard for the essence of the song.

Richard


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 06:04 PM

The tin ear likewise - I'm sure you haven't.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 05:07 PM

sorry that was childish.... please consider it retracted.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 05:03 PM

maybe I do have a tin ear when it comes to pop! or should I say poop!


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 04:56 PM

I dunno - does tin bleed?

Seriously, if you can name a pop single better than the three I've listed above I'll be glad to hear it.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 03:55 PM

Well I did not know what people were talking about with Wizzard and See My Baby Jive, so I thought I would google it. Found youtube video. It was dire... I think my ears are bleeding.

Let us not come down too hard on recording and broadcast entertainment industries. Though they have homogenised folk music they have also preserved some of it. They could be the way to reviving what is fading away.
BBC frequents the Essex Records Office to research all kinds of material. Some of what they research may lead them using to local folk traditions in a project.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 03:26 PM

Nope, SMBJ it is, a nose ahead of Public Image but trailing behind Strawberry Fields Forever and (sorry to be predictable) Good Vibrations.

Anyway, surely it should be How traditional mote it be?


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 03:22 PM

"See My Baby Jive, in particular, demonstrably and objectively is the, oh, second or maybe at a pinch third greatest single ever made."

:0 I think Pip hasn't heard enough pop! :0

:)


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 12:59 PM

The folk process is alive and well

It's alive in a few, relatively isolated pockets (do kids still sing in playgrounds?), but I wouldn't say it's well.

Rosie - if something appears to be a song that's been preserved through oral transmission, I'd say it's a folk song. As Spleen says, the likelihood of collecting any more folk songs must be pretty slim, but I don't think it's impossible by definition.

Sminky - We compose some kind of statement for future generations explaining why, after centuries of glorious outpouring, no folk songs were created in the 21st century

I already have. (So has Jim Carroll.) The spread of recorded and broadcast entertainment eroded folk song, and the current more-or-less ubiquity of recorded and broadcast entertainment has more or less killed it. It's not a statement about human nature or anything, just historical change.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: greg stephens
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 12:43 PM

The folk process is alive and well, though not necessarily producing songs with the incomparable beauty of Searching for Lambs. Go and watch a football match and listen to the crowd.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 12:20 PM

Re Rosie's post above: I think the only way this would happen would be if the old dear in question didn't label them as folk songs - just as old family songs, for example. If she consciously considered them to be folk songs, then the whole experience would have surely been tainted by the archly artificial intrusion that is defined folk. Without wanting to romantically pine for proof of continued existence in 21st Century Britain of a whole caste of naifs, and taking Pip's point about the role of mass technology in seeing off the oral tradition (c/f Jim Carroll's anecdote about the role of TV in finishing off the oral tradition in traveller communities), the conditions in which the old dear lived would have had to be pretty remarkable. It you find her, buy her a pint from me!

Of course, there'd be no guarantee that her 17 year old grandkid with a brand new elecrtic guitar hadn't just written a far superior set of songs - its just that we wouldn't be scratching our heads as to whether to call them folk.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 12:04 PM

DeG - don't give up your day job.

If only I had one, Richard! If only...

And what's wrong with Wizzard. How can anyone dislike Roy Wood looking like a pixie? :-)

Just reading thhough and the mention of Christmas songs set me wondering if some of our treaditions will be passed on. It HAS to be orally as no one is daft enough to write these things down! Every Christmas I am forced to sing my Christmas Shanty which may be familiar to you as New York Girls. The chorus is changed to

"Away you Santa..."

You couldn't make it up could you:-)

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 12:03 PM

Barring some global catastrophe that destroys every type of recording/playback device (and leaving only myself and handful of other survivors), that is the end of the folk process as we know it. (Rosie - Latin, Manx and Cornish are dead languages - even though some people still speak them).

This leaves us with a stark choice:

1) We compose some kind of statement for future generations explaining why, after centuries of glorious outpouring, no folk songs were created in the 21st century, or

2) We rethink what relevance the 'folk process' has today.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 12:03 PM

"Ow 'do, Jethro!"

"Ow 'do Garge!"

Oi loiked that song you sung at the 'Arvest 'Ome larst noight; 'ju roihgt it?

"Yes oi did, Jethro, but keep yer voice down!"

"Whoi?"

"'Corse I dun't want nobody to know that oi wrote it - oi wants it to be herrnonymus loike."

"Whoi'je yer want it to be herrnonymous?"

"So people in the future 'ull classifoi it as a folk song."

"Roight! Got yer! Mum's the word. Oi dun't know nuthing."


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 11:53 AM

I'd like to ask, what posters think of Virginia Tams suggestion that we may still need to be gathering 'traditional' songs from those who know them.

Supposing I met some elderly lady who sang me a couple of songs she's known from childhood, which had not already been collected to anyone elses's knowledge. And suppose she could tell me the name of the Great Uncle who sang them to her, and who she believes composed them.

Would they not count as 'folk songs' because the cut-off date for that term's applicability has been established at year X?

So does the folk process necessarily have to be dead, or has it been laid to rest prematurely and is there a case for the folk community keeping it alive?

I'm just following on from some of the thoughts that VTam has made on the 'records archive' thread, and thought here was the place to ask.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 11:29 AM

assuming it goes undergoes the appropriate 'process', what is to prevent "Yesterday" by the Beatles from becoming a folksong?

Absolutely nothing. If all the radios, TVs, turntables, CD players and iPods in the world stopped working tomorrow, 40 years from now we'd have a fine crop of new folk songs, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if Yesterday was one of them. But that's the only way it - or any other song - is going to undergo the appropriate process now.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 09:33 AM

"None of us have the slightest idea what various people might have classified the original song as..."

Greg, I think you've hit the nail on the head with this. I reckon if they'd classified it as anything it would have been a "song" (as opposed to a potato or a truncheon, for example). I'd have thought the very notion of "folk song", is really an artificial construct that can only be applied to songs selectively and retrospectively by an almost mystical process (double reverse osmosis is my best guess) by those with an academic or cultural detatchment from the songs themselves. What gets in and what doesn't is based almost entirely on chance and circumstance (if Cecil Sharp hadn't heard his posh mate's gardener, we wouldn't necessarily have 'Seeds of Love' as one of our folk songs - oversimplification, but d'you get my drift?). When not chance and circumstance there's also a healthy dollop of the collector's prejudices, expectations and own tastes and preferences. The exception to this are people who are traditional singers (i.e. have learned songs aurally from family or community or work-grouping) who have, because of the nature of folk music in the post-folk era, been absorbed into the revival (which is arguably just about all we have left - the inevitable reduction of "folk" to a genre and the consequent impossible onslaught of anally retentive genre politics that goes with this).

Meanwhile, the magicians and alchemists of the 1954 conclave may have been a few things, but I doubt they were scientists.

Those who disagree with me are more than welcome to classify this post as a work of fiction. They may be right. I prefer to inhabit the grey areas...


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: greg stephens
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 09:05 AM

In point of fact, Mr Sminky, I said I had no idea what it was.But you could call it a pop song if you like. Quite irrelevant to anything now, what I call it, or what you call it, or what Radish, or any other vegetable call it. What's in a name? None of us have the slightest idea what various people might have classified the original song as, and while we may guess to our hearts' content, it deosn't really affect the price of swedes. How you pronounce the word potato does not affect the taste of the vegetable.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 08:44 AM

Now I'm getting confused. According to Mr Radish it wasn't a pop song; according to Mr Stephens it was (I thought this was supposed to be simple).

I think we're all agreed that no song can become an 'instant' folksong. So - assuming it goes undergoes the appropriate 'process', what is to prevent "Yesterday" by the Beatles from becoming a folksong?


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: greg stephens
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 08:25 AM

Sminky: no idea, I wasn't there. Probably some kind of composed pop song, I suppose you might consider it? Anyway, in the fullness of time, as many songs do, it evolved by usage into a folksong.(Obviously, I am using the term folksong in my own way, as we all do. Some other people mean completely different things by the term, and believe a song can be a folksong the second it is composed).


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 08:22 AM

Before it became a folk song, it was classified (sorry, Spleen) according to whatever set of categories people were using at the time. It almost certainly wasn't 'folk', for the same reason that it almost certainly wasn't 'pop', 'R&B', 'drum and bass' or 'grindcore'. You could say that a folk song is a song that's survived from a period when it wasn't called folk.


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 06:51 AM

What type of song was "Searching for Lambs" before it became a folksong?


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Subject: RE: How traditional should it be?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Nov 08 - 06:06 AM

Sharp's "conclusion" is not part of the 1954 definition, even though Karpeles was in a sense one of his apostles.

The 1954 definition does NOT say that in order to be a folk song, a song has to be of no known authorship.

Check this above if you wish.


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