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'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie

Will Fly 11 Dec 08 - 10:08 AM
GUEST,James H 11 Dec 08 - 10:43 AM
Will Fly 11 Dec 08 - 10:53 AM
Paul Burke 11 Dec 08 - 10:53 AM
Folkiedave 11 Dec 08 - 11:01 AM
Richard Bridge 11 Dec 08 - 11:47 AM
Richard Bridge 11 Dec 08 - 11:48 AM
Bruce MacNeill 11 Dec 08 - 05:31 PM
quokka 11 Dec 08 - 07:18 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Dec 08 - 01:49 AM
Darowyn 12 Dec 08 - 03:26 AM
Will Fly 12 Dec 08 - 03:37 AM
VirginiaTam 12 Dec 08 - 04:00 AM
Ruth Archer 12 Dec 08 - 04:03 AM
Banjiman 12 Dec 08 - 04:10 AM
The Borchester Echo 12 Dec 08 - 04:33 AM
Bryn Pugh 12 Dec 08 - 04:59 AM
TheSnail 12 Dec 08 - 05:17 AM
Gervase 12 Dec 08 - 05:29 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 12 Dec 08 - 05:37 AM
Will Fly 12 Dec 08 - 05:47 AM
Richard Bridge 12 Dec 08 - 05:55 AM
The Borchester Echo 12 Dec 08 - 06:18 AM
GUEST,James H 12 Dec 08 - 06:35 AM
Will Fly 12 Dec 08 - 07:02 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 12 Dec 08 - 07:12 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 12 Dec 08 - 07:15 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 12 Dec 08 - 07:16 AM
Dave the Gnome 12 Dec 08 - 07:20 AM
Will Fly 12 Dec 08 - 08:00 AM
Paul Burke 12 Dec 08 - 08:35 AM
Bruce MacNeill 12 Dec 08 - 09:12 AM
VirginiaTam 12 Dec 08 - 09:20 AM
Will Fly 12 Dec 08 - 09:51 AM
Bruce MacNeill 12 Dec 08 - 10:04 AM
GUEST,James H 12 Dec 08 - 10:05 AM
Will Fly 12 Dec 08 - 10:17 AM
Bruce MacNeill 12 Dec 08 - 10:41 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Dec 08 - 10:47 AM
Spleen Cringe 12 Dec 08 - 11:01 AM
Will Fly 12 Dec 08 - 11:03 AM
VirginiaTam 12 Dec 08 - 11:47 AM
The Borchester Echo 12 Dec 08 - 11:55 AM
The Borchester Echo 12 Dec 08 - 01:44 PM
VirginiaTam 12 Dec 08 - 01:56 PM
VirginiaTam 12 Dec 08 - 02:05 PM
VirginiaTam 12 Dec 08 - 02:13 PM
Phil Edwards 12 Dec 08 - 06:33 PM
Phil Edwards 12 Dec 08 - 06:35 PM
Herga Kitty 12 Dec 08 - 06:46 PM
Folkiedave 13 Dec 08 - 05:08 AM
GUEST,Mr Red 13 Dec 08 - 05:52 AM
Aeola 13 Dec 08 - 11:37 AM
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Subject: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 Dec 08 - 10:08 AM

Interesting isn't it - the number of threads that glow to incandescence whenever the topic hovers around the word "folk" - or even "f*lk"? (I incline my head to Ms. Easby here).

Being a musical tart, I've spent a large part of the last 44 years playing music other than folk, in venues other than folk clubs. I started off playing in folk clubs in 1964, dipped into them on and off during those 44 years, and have remade their acquaintance over the last 2 years. So, it's very interesting to view the heated threads and arguments from the perspective of one who's spent: 7 years playing jug band/'20s dance band music; 8 years playing mainstream jazz; 12 years playing 1950s rock'n roll; and 13 years playing 60s funk'n soul & blues from New Orleans & Memphis. With time off here and there in a country band, for bad behaviour.

One common factor when playing all those different styles of music was that, on the whole, there was very little debate about what the music actually was or should be. The rock'n roll we played, for example, was from the period 1955 to 1961. End of story. We played mainly for old and young teds in drape jackets, who did fantastic jiving with their ladies - and told us in no uncertain terms if they liked the music or not. We had to know the rock'n roll and part-rockabilly repertoire - and if we strayed from it, we got told so, also in no uncertain terms! We had to play the classic riffs from some numbers - like the guitar break from "Rock Around The Clock" - but could also do a bit of improv around the beat with solos.

On the jazz front, we played anything from early Duke Ellington to Mongo Santamaria, and other musos, who often played stuff from other periods, would come and sit in, adapting their style to the occasion. Even the really modern jazzers would drop their attititude for the Sunday lunchtime session and have a blast with us now and then. Yes - there were debates in the '50s and '60s about the New Orleans jazz-loving "mouldy figs" and the "dirty boppers", but that all seems long ago.

So what's with "folk" that it generates such heat whenever a topic arises? Is it because other genres of music are much narrower, on the whole, in their focus, and folk appears to be more unfocussed and wide-ranging? Does the essential improvisatory nature of jazz transcend heated debates on whether it should be this or that? If the tenor solo works on the day, for example, who the hell cares where it comes from?

Answers, please, in a plain brown PM...


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: GUEST,James H
Date: 11 Dec 08 - 10:43 AM

hmmm...

a) yes I do think it is partly because folk is used as a label for a very broad range of stuff compared with the narrower focus of other genres.

b) for lots of people but probably not everybody, the 'folk' genre seems to get mixed up with lots of issues to do with social history and current social/political outlook, which maybe people into other genres don't get so worked up about in connection with the music itself.

c) since lots of people seem to want 'folk' to somehow mean 'of the people' they maybe have a stronger sense of ownership and therefore get more territorial about their point of view.

and/or

d) Lots of people like to argue and pontificate. For fun. Not just those that like folk music, by any definition you like. Maybe the UK Mudcatters heated/nasty threads situation is just one of those things that arose by a series of little coincidences, but has gained momentum and feeds off itself. And as such isn't really anything to do with the fact that most of the debates are about folk. If that group of people all happened to join a forum about fly fishing, maybe they/we'd all argue and pontificate about that instead…


I dunno... I'm just pontificating really :) Fancy an argument anybody? My session etiquette vs. yours, at dawn...


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 Dec 08 - 10:53 AM

I've met several 'Catters in "real life" and, d'you know, they didn't have horns, forked tails and hooves. They were, to a person, sweet and endearing yummies, who rolled over and let me tickle their tum-tums... but why aren't I arguing with you, GUEST,James H - damn your folkie eyes! :D

More seriously, I think the music is perhaps perceived to be linked more closely to social change and the nature of society. To me, a good tune is a good tune but - as I said up there, I am a musical tart.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Paul Burke
Date: 11 Dec 08 - 10:53 AM

Can't speak for the USA, but here (UK), there are a number of reasons why people get territorial. here are a few:

- Some people see themselves as the current guardians of an endangered cultural garden which has to be passed on intact, and kept free from invasive xenophytes.

- someone has usually "owned" some sorts of folk: Sharp, Karpeles, the EFDSS, the Communist Party, the Morris Ring etc.

- the X factor: it's always been easier to get acceptability (and so better payed gigs than folk clubs) by making it sound more like mainstream pop/ rock. This makes more people interseted in folk in the broader sense, but also makes the uninitiated wonder why Fred Jordan didn't sound as "exciting" as Fairport Convention. American folk/ country/ blues style also has a higher general prestige than most native styles. Traditionalists find themselves marginalised in the general musical world, and the wider musical world is astoundingly ignorant of traditional music.

- folk singers/ musicians are a bit like trainspotters, intensely involved within a small community, in which it's easy for minor disgreements about abstruse points to be magnified into major issues.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Folkiedave
Date: 11 Dec 08 - 11:01 AM

Of course it doesn't happen with other genre's of music. Really?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbradio3/F7497567?thread=5416827

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbradio3/F2620065?thread=6135361

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbradio3/F7497568?thread=6064634

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbradio3/F7497568?thread=6102017

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbradio3/F7497566?thread=6120772

Frankly we look tame to some of them!

And that is on a reactively moderated board!


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Dec 08 - 11:47 AM

Believe me metallers come to blows over whether something is "doom" or not.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Dec 08 - 11:48 AM

But the real reason is that folk is unlike all other types of music I can think of, not defined by "style" but by derivation.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Bruce MacNeill
Date: 11 Dec 08 - 05:31 PM

Well, for starters, I envy you, Will Fly, for your varied experience in music. Then, IMHO

I think there's a place for all sorts of music with the possible exception of hip-hop/gangster-rap. There is a lot of classical influence in heavy-metal. Jazz players generally don't really care what you play or how you play it as long as you eventually get back to the same theme you started with, and the longer it takes, the better. I don't really know how to define "Folk" in the U.S.A. I think that whatever people play and sing on their back porches after dinner and a few drinks is probably American Folk Music. It may be different in West Virginia than in Tennessee or in New Mexico or outside New Orleans, but there are a set of old songs that are native to each area of the country. Some songs will be older than others and some will be fairly new and commercial but in the same general vein as the old ones. I like them all.

It's probably not much different in the U.K. and surrounding countries, they've just been at it longer and they spent more time shooting at each other than we did, so they have more songs with a locally historic perspective reminiescent of the Hatfields and McCoys. So, they take those songs personally. Some of us in the U.S. may share some DNA with people in the U.K. but we don't share their history and can't fully understand their traditions any more than they can understand our lack of lasting deep seeded hostility between the states. A lot of stuff from Nashville gets played in Massachusetts.

I think there's a place for traditionalist music. Classical musicians are taught to play it the way it was written and that's fine, since it leads to good disciplined musicianship. On the other hand, although Segovia transcribed a lot of guitar versions of classical pieces, and his work is generally considered the traditional transcriptions to be taught as transcribed, another classical guitarist, John Williams for example, may embellish the same pieces and it's still considered "Classical Guitar" and not Jazz although he has improvised a little, or a lot, in places.

From what I've seen on Mudcat, there are a wide variety of opinions on individual songs let alone classes of songs, traditional versus commercial, folk versus blues, and that is as it should be. Play and sing 'em the way you feel 'em. Others who share your feelings will think you're pretty good. If they don't share your feelings and you're in the U.S, run! If you're in the U.K. be glad guns are illegal, then run!

The important thing is to keep playing and singing what you like. That's what I want to do.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: quokka
Date: 11 Dec 08 - 07:18 PM

What an uplifting, positive thread on this subject. Thanks, people.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 01:49 AM

"Fancy an argument anybody?"
Yeah - why not!!!
Just before I left school I was reprimanded by a teacher for being late for his maths class - I had stayed to talk to an English teacher about work I was doing in a school play (Tom Sawyer Whitewashing the Fence). The maths teacher told me in no uncertain terms that once we left school people like me would no longer have any use for subjects such as drama, music, literature or painting, and that the only skill I would need in the big, wide world was to be able to tot up my wage packet at the end of the week. He made it clear that, as a class, we had no part in 'the arts' and that our future lay in keeping the streets clean and the buses running on time. That message has been repeated time and again ad nauseum throughout my working life.
A few years after leaving school, soon after I had discovered folk music, I was hearing people like MacColl, Lloyd, Lomax and others arguing that far from what my teacher had told me being true, the opposite was the case – that this big, beautiful body of songs I was discovering and developing a lifelong love-affair with was made, remade, adapted, sung, perpetuated and passed on by people just like me – miners, mill workers, land labourers, merchant seamen, servicemen..... not exactly apprentice electricians serving their time on the Liverpool docks but near enough to give me an incredible pride in them and the people who made them, as well as providing a lifes worth of entertainment.
Later on, when I discovered the ballads, despite a queue of academics telling me that these were composed by skilled bards and minstrels for the entertainment of 'our betters', I came to believe that these also were the beautiful creations of 'ordinary', 'common' people like me. This belief was more than substantiated when I took up collecting and realised that if I wanted to find examples of these rare and virtually extinct pieces I had to seek out an elderly carpenter from farming stock in North Norfolk, or retired East Anglian deep-sea fishermen, or Munster small farmers and their families, or landless labourers and road-workers - or a retired waitress who worked much of her life in an hotel in Windsor, but who had returned home to spend the remainder of her days in the family cottage (minus sanitation and running water) a few miles from the Atlantic coast.
I discovered that if I wanted to see these ballads still in full, living use I had to visit a tent-dwelling traveller in North East Scotland or some of the thousands of non-literate Irish tinkers camping behind corrugated iron fences and gathering scrap metal for a living in London, Birmingham and Manchester – way down near the bottom of our social heap.
On a more personal level, both sides of my family originated in rural Ireland, left for Britain in the mid-nineteenth century to escape the effects of a lethally mismanaged famine, and spent the next century or so travelling backwards and forwards across the Irish Sea trying, and largely failing to re-settle in their home country. Their experiences were mirrored perfectly in the huge repertoire of immigration songs that came from that mass exodus. My paternal grandfather and great-grandfather were merchant seamen, under sail and at the changeover period from sail to steam- once again, their lives were echoed by our wonderfully rich body of sea songs.
My personal situation is repeated throughout these islands - by descendents of miners and millworkers who experienced and fought wage-cuts and deplorable conditions, of those who were transported away from home for the crime of trying to feed their families, or pressed to sea or into the army to go and fight wars so the rich might stay rich........
As far as I am concerned these songs are a part of our social history; they are our birthright . The don't belong to any single individual or group; they are held in common by us all. For me one of the acid tests of whether a song merits the term 'folk' is to roll it on its belly and see if it has a small 'c' for 'copyright' stamped on its backside – if it has, at almost certainly isn't – the genuine article belongs (or belonged) to 'the folk' (if you want to know who they are – go and buy a book).
When I hear people marginalising these songs, or taking the piss out of them, or debasing them by suggesting that you don't have to put in any effort in order to sing them, or whingeing that they are 'too long' or 'boring', or are no different to pop songs of any age, or self-penned, undefined and undefinable pieces that pass for 'folk' nowadays, I occasionally get more than a little pissed off and feel the need to express my pissed-offness. Folk songs are from a totally different stable than all of these and, in my opinion vastly superior in quality and importance to any of them.
So why do we sometimes get passionate and het up about folk songs – as that nice lady says on the telly – because they're worth it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Darowyn
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 03:26 AM

I don't agree with Jim about the definition of Folk. I believe that the meanings of words come from contemporary popular usage, and thus the word Folk does now mean that incoherent bunch of not-quite-pop songs (like the ones I write) as well as traditional songs and tunes.
However, I have never read a more passionate and cogent expression of why the stricter definition is so important to people.
I have tended to dismiss the phenomenon as mere comfort-zone clinging to the familiar.
Jim, you have changed my mind.
I still think you are wrong about the current usage, but you are very right to care so much.
As the Hip Hop kids say, "Respect, man!"
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 03:37 AM

Thanks Jim - that's as eloquent and elegant an exposition of a point of view as anyone could wish for. I wonder if I might probe your viewpoint a little further - purely in the cause of research, you understand? I'll just hop up on the Judgement Seat beside you and insert a couple of small probes... hold still... there - that didn't hurt now, did it...

You mentioned some time ago, in another thread, that one of the aims of MacColl's Critics Group was to encourage performers and writers to produce their own materials within the style of the tradition. EM himself wrote several songs which are now considered classics. Does such material, in your opinion, find a true place in the canon - or does the (c) stamp - there for all to witness - debar it from a place? I suppose what I'm asking here is: is the canon there to be preserved in its "present" state (whatever "present" might mean), or can it grow?

I'm a sucker for melody, and one of the reasons that I've flitted between musical genres is the lure of a good tune, wherever it comes from. So to take an Irish example, where do composers like Carolan fit? Does a three hundred years old history allow the man in? To take a more modern example, I'm passionate about the small pipes playing of Billy Pigg, and I can still be utterly moved by his playing of "The Wild Hills Of Whannies". But I also recall working my way through his composition "Bill Charlton's Fancy" (on tenor banjo, so you probably wouldn't let it in!). However, there it is, in the Northumbrian Piper's Tune Book - "Bill Charlton's Fancy (Pigg)." And a great tune it is too, with variations that get wilder and wilder as they go on!

Now, would you consider such examples as the thin end of some sort of non-folk wedge? Because - if you let them in - where does it all end? Just curious...

Regards,

Will


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 04:00 AM

Mr. Carroll

I am not from the UK. But I do live in the UK and I am one who does love to listen to the traditional English, or Irish or Scots song rendered by the voice of one who has lived or indirectly learned the tale s/he sings, be it 4 or 24 verses long.

You make me weep with your story. What a thief that maths teacher was. Your story reads as though it should be transcribed to radio, stage or screen play, with bits of authentically rendered folk music laced throughout. Oh I wish I wish, I could write it.

As a newly converted folk singer with a passable voice, I love to sing what does not legitimately (by birth) belong to me to perform. I am trying to learn, though my first discovered sources have proved to be dressed up 60's and 70's renditions. Mudcat helps me source original verses and blessedly provides a wealth through all of its knowledgable folk, as do the folk clubs and events I attend.

Someday I hope that I may be able to do justice to the precedent song, having been informed and trained by this forum and others who know better. God bless the teacher who loves to share his passion (as you have just done).

I do not seek to argue but simply to beg a boon. Please permit this lowly anglophile of a Yank to sing what she loves to sing. The same music you have so passionately described above.

Best regards
Tam


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 04:03 AM

The only thing I would say which differs slightly from Jim's eloquent post is that think that the word "folk" has been adapted and commodified beyond all meaning. For this reason, I prefer to use the word "traditional" for all the stuff he describes.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Banjiman
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 04:10 AM

Jim Carroll.... I never thought I'd say this but that is a beautiful, poetic post.

Thank you, you've brightened up my morning and given me something to think about when we use the term "folk".

Putting something into the positive the way you have here has had far more impact on me than previous, argumentative posts we have "shared"!

Maybe I should learn something from that as well.

Thanks.

Paul


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 04:33 AM

I prefer to use the word "traditional" for all the stuff he [Jim Carroll] describes

Indeed, so do I, qualified by country of origin / style / influence and so on.
I NEVER use the discredited, terminally-damaged term "f*lk" on the grounds that the public in general (often rightly and sometimes wrongly) associate it with MOR dross and tripe, or at the very least with something it most certainly is not (q.v. the Grammy nominations . . . )


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 04:59 AM

I have always been proud to call Jim Carroll a friend, proud also to have been associated with him in the Manchester Critics ; but never more so than having read that post above.

Not to be contentious, Jim, and everyone, but Jim left a couple of word out.

Jim wrote " . . . they are held in common by us all . . . ".

Had I had the nous, not to mention the knowledge and wisdom, to have written that post, I would have addded

" . . . they are also held by all of us in trust for one another, and the generations of singers to come".


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: TheSnail
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 05:17 AM

Oh dear, Jim. I wish it was possible to engage with you without being told that all that I and my friends do to try and promote and ensure the survival of the music that we all love was "crass" and "promoting crap standards" and "dumbing down".


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Gervase
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 05:29 AM

Oh crap - is no-one going to argue on this thread? ;-)
For which let us be profoundly thankful. Will raises an interesting point - though I'd suggest that maybe his jazz days were spent among the very laid-back or the terminally nice if he managed to escaped some of the schisms and shibboleths that get banged around. Though, as he says, nowhere near as much as folk. We do seem to like a scrap!

At the risk of being contentious, I think one reason may be that "folk" attracts the musical trainspotter - the sort of person who will never be a professional musician, but who sees folk as a medium in which anyone can make their mark and which they wish to make all their own. As such, there is a sense of "ownership" and, because such people can often be a mite insecure, a sense of panic when that "ownership" is threatened by nasty people saying that, folk or not, if it's going to be performed in public it should be performed as well as it can be, and that there's no such thing as 'good enough for folk' and that, sadly, there are some people who really should stick to the shower cubicle, the open field and the audience seats.
The big-endian/little-endian discord tends also to be a peculiarly English phenomenon. I don't see it in Wales, and I'm not aware of it in Ireland or the USA.

And Jim, thanks for a superb post; if that were a manifesto, I'd be proud to put my name to it.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 05:37 AM

After Jim's eloquent post anyone who comes after is in a 'follow that!' situation. Nevertheless, I suspect that a lot of the 'heat' in these arguments has historical roots in the nature of the Folk Club Movement of the 1960s and 70s. This Movement tended to be highly democratic and inclusive (with possible exceptions - which I'm sure someone will remind me of). At any rate the clubs provided a platform for experienced and budding folk singers and musicians. This inclusiveness was also a weakness - which eventually led to the 'any-old-crap-will-do' mentality which is all too prevalent today (see the 'Folk Club Manners' thread). It also led artists and agents to realise that here was a ready-made and accessible platform for people who were struggling to find outlets for their talents elsewhere. Hence the folk clubs began to feature comedians, singer songwriters, guitarists and others. It eventually reached a stage where some folk clubs rarely, if ever, featured any folk music! In some parts of the country the clubs had been 'hi-jacked'! I think that when those of us who were interested in traditional music and song began to complain about this situation is when the trouble started. That's when labels such as 'folk police' started to be bandied about and assertions that 'all music's folk music' became common.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 05:47 AM

Will raises an interesting point - though I'd suggest that maybe his jazz days were spent among the very laid-back or the terminally nice if he managed to escaped some of the schisms and shibboleths that get banged around.

The band I played in regularly were, as individuals, as argumentative and obstreperous a bunch as you could find on many occasions! The baritone/tenor sax player thought anything beyond 1930 was rubbish; the trumpet player liked skin & punk; the young double bass player didn't understand the then meaning of the term "R&B"; the trombone player was a cynical old twat who just loved winding anyone up; the alto sax player was just repressed; the drummers - for we never had just the one - kept coming and going. The only sane member of the whole lot was the guitarist/tenor banjo player - and I'm not so sure about him! Read George Melly's "Owning Up" and you get some idea of what jazz band life was like in the '50s and '60s. Well, it hadn't changed much in the '70s and '80s!

But - when we got together to play - we played our hearts out and strove to make the occasion as good as it could be. We took the piss out of each other when a solo was fluffed, and then forgot it immediately.

A fond memory: We'd been playing at a jazz festival in Middelburg, in Holland. We came back on the Olau Line ferry and docked, very late at night, at Sheerness. The passengers were queued up deep in lines of barriers that ran round and round until they came to the Customs desk. The Customs officials - out of sheer maliciousness - were being over thorough, checking everyone out, making everyone empty their suitcases. The trumpet player - on a whim - began to bleat like a sheep. He was joined by the rest of the band - and then by all the other passengers queuing. The Customs guys just didn't know what to do and, with red faces, just waved everyone through...


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 05:55 AM

Jim is right about everything except for his insistence that one needs to pass a test to be able to sing folk song. That is to deny it its birthright. Of course one needs to work to try to do it better, and one should self-censor, but no-one else may censor it.

It is also why Diane is so, so wrong. The frequency of ignorance does not make it right, and what is so vexing is that she knows so,so much better but (as far as I can tell, on this one and only point in her life) is not prepared to argue for what is right, but has succumbed before what is wrong.

Tamara, one's folk tradition may contain what one is now, may contain what one's parents were, and their parents before them, and so on. Most Americans have a much wider personal inheritance than most English. Who knows, perhaps the songs you find here that speak to you are th ones that spoke to some of your forbears. I for one am glad that you try to return to the sources of the songs - but find you most convincing with Americana - was it "Shortnin' Bread" you did so well at the Good Intent, or was it something else? There is a great range of songs that were once English but largely lost in that form rediscovered in Appalachia - and sometimes now re-anglicised (for example "Avram Bailey" which I found re-anglicised by Jon Loomes and now sometimes do). Most of the great English traditional songs (and Irish and Scottish and Welsh) are old enough to have travelled to the USA so I frequently feel nothing grating in an American singer singing them (sometime I do, but often I don't).

On the other hand, the English blues singer is a huge grating solecism - perhaps typified by one of the greatest English blues singers, John Mayall, writing performing and recording a song about the death of the great buesman J. B. Lenoir - in which he completely mispronounced Lenoir's name, over and over again.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 06:18 AM

Don't understand what RB thinks I'm wrong about. That I prefer to describe music with a few explanatory words rather than with one almost universally misunderstood, misinterpreted and terminally bankrupt one?

Apart from which, of course I am wholly with Jim Carroll. Including the bit about "passing a test", which I think should be a self-imposed standard as far as public performance is concerned. Don't play or sing out till you can, because the shambling, half-forgotten words, key wandering and duff notes are yet another reason why Joe Public gets the impression that the music is some kind of joke. No-one should do it such a disservice.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: GUEST,James H
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 06:35 AM

I don't quite understand why RB or anybody else thinks that Jim says a test needs to be passed. I read the whole of the folk club manners thread and didn't see him say that once.

There was a feeling among several people, not just Jim, that murdering songs in public is a bad thing, either because it is disrespectful to the audience, the song itself, or because it puts off potential newcomers and helps fuel a bad image problem amongst large swathes of the UK public. And I agree with that too.

I got the feeling that the suggestion was if somebody has been given an opportunity to perform a few times and has murdered songs on those occasions, then responsibility for future song murders is shared by the performer themselves and the people who are enabling that performance, be it organiser or audience. And that there are steps that could be taken, such as offering feedback, teaching, or practice suggestions, to limit said future murders. And while one would hope that most performers are self regulating, and are aware of how their performance comes across, and do work to improve, there are some that don't seem to either notice or care.

But to me all of that is very different from saying that anybody who wants to perform should pass some kind of test or audition first...


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 07:02 AM

When I first put up this thread, I was curious to see whether anyone would identify the communal/community nature of folk clubs as a major factor in the conflicts on the scene.

One of the things we never got, in the other areas of music I played in, was music performed by the audience itself. We were a band, we got bookings, we (usually) got paid. Most times, the audiences danced, applauded and went home happy and frequently pissed. Result. But I can't say that we exuded a community spirit - and the organisers of the event never issued an open invitation to members of the audience to get up on stage and perform. A different, more commercial ethos prevailed.

I've mentioned in previous threads, a folk club "not a million miles away from me" where the standard, IMHO, is generally patchy, with many feeble singers glued badly to the music stand, little or no self-critical awareness and lots of self-congratulation. But it's packed out, week after week, and - apart from those, like me, who've wearied of the tedium - seen as a success. I'm convinced it's perceived that way because it's not actually a folk club - it's a "community feel-good" evening. The people are friendly, everyone's very supportive, everyone gets two numbers in their spot, everyone gets applauded to the skies. Everyone is really very nice. There's very little traditional music and, when there is, it's the old usual suspects. I hate it.

This sort of environment doesn't exist, to my knowledge, in other music genres. And I can see why such places can give rise to exasperation on "folk" threads.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 07:12 AM

Some really great posts on this thread so far – especially Jim's, which is worth framing and hanging on the wall. But Will, you are the man on my wavelength.

Duke Ellington once said (allegedly) that "There are only two kinds of music: good and bad." Good for you Mr E, but I think there may be other ways to cut the cake in half. For example, why not say that all music is either folk music or showbiz?

From this viewpoint, "folk" music is anything that's played or sung by the people, for the people. Whereas "showbiz" is whatever professional (or semi-professional, or wannabee professional) entertainers present to paying customers (or to casual listeners who might with luck become paying customers).

There is an illuminating story about the Singers Club (possibly legendary, though perhaps Jim or Diane may be able to confirm it).   One evening while Ewan and Peggy were upstairs in the clubroom, rendering "Lord Randall" or something similar for their attentive audience, Bob Davenport was allegedly caught playing truant in the public bar, singing "Lily of Laguna" with a bunch of Irish labourers.

For me, that sums it up. Ewan and Peggy were performing an authentic "traditional" song in a showbiz environment – albeit a fairly low-key one. The audience paid to come in, and E & P took the proceeds home (or perhaps donated them to some charity close to their hearts). Now the song Bob sang wasn't "traditional" – just a commercial pop song preserved for decades in the public memory like a fly in amber. But Bob's singing of it for that company (please note: "company" not "audience") was – I contend - "folk".

Musicians who get up on a stage and perform for a paying audience – whether you label the material they deliver as classical, jazz, blues, soul, country, rock 'n roll, or even "traditional" – are all in showbiz..   Absolutely nothing wrong with that.   We need to be entertained, and we need virtuoso performers to do the job properly for us. And of course, they deserve a decent reward for doing that.

But sometimes we also need music that permits us to take an active part in making it happen. Music that we can share as a community. Music where everyone joins in the chorus, and whoever happens to be singing the verses is a musical enabler, not a would-be star enjoying a private ego-trip.   

And yes, I know that many people who've sung those "good old ones" a thousand times before now find them rather tedious. However, they should remember that someone in the room may be hearing that song for the first time - and wondering at it, as they once wondered at it, forty-odd years ago. For such newcomers, this simple song could be a gateway to unfamiliar songs, which they might eventually learn to understand more deeply, and perhaps even to love. We should never feel that we are degrading ourselves, or debasing "the tradition", by keeping that gate open.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 07:15 AM

>>>"I NEVER use the discredited, terminally-damaged term "f*lk" on the grounds that the public in general (often rightly and sometimes wrongly) associate it with MOR dross and tripe, or at the very least with something it most certainly is not (q.v. the Grammy nominations . . . )"<<<


That's one of the main reasons I've left 'traditional' music far behind these days.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 07:16 AM

The 'attitude' within those words, is what I meant there, above.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 07:20 AM

It doesn't exist in the folk genre (whatever that is) according to some people, Will!

DeG


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 08:00 AM

It [this sort of communal environment] doesn't exist in the folk genre (whatever that is) according to some people, Will!

I'm sure you're right. I should have that, when I said "I hate it" in my previous post, it's not the "community feel-good" nature of the evening that I hate - far from it - it's the dismal standard of musicianship and lack of self-awareness that I hate. Seen as a social catalyst, these evenings have huge merit but, as a musician, I do find them unbelievably tedious.

I'll expand on the "as a musician" bit. I believe that any musician worth his/her salt knows - or should know - exactly where they stand in their proficiency. You should try to develop an honest and accurate assessment of your real abilities, because that's part of the impetus to get better (if you want to get better). So, I can look at the work of some guitarists and think, "yeah - I can do that, and probably better than that". I can also look at the work of other guitarists and say, "I wish...". It's essential to be able to develop that perspective.

In the jazz world, you soon find that perspective, because better players can blow you off the stand - and you'll know it when it's happened!


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Paul Burke
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 08:35 AM

Oy! I mustn't be worth my salt then.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Bruce MacNeill
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 09:12 AM

Will, seriously, how good were you before you decided you were good enough to start playing in public 40-odd years ago? I ask because I know lots of players who could blow me off the stand, and it's that knowledge that keeps me off the stand, so far.

Did you ever teach? how would you define for a student when they were good enough to give it a try? I used to watch the old TV shows with kids performing and wished there had been a place for me to practice performing when I was young without the pressure of a real audience with high expectations. There wasn't. There isn't now.

As something useful to do in my retirement, I'm practicing again with the vain hope that I'll get to the point of having the nerve to play in public again, which I haven't done in 40 years and was scared to death of back then. I doubt I'd ever wow a paying audience but hope to be good enough not to be run out of town. I consider myself a hack not a virtuoso, but I listen to a lot of people in bars who I also consider hacks, but with nerve, and they're passable entertainment, while drinking, and better than Karaoke. They have to start somewhere. If they're young, I figure they may get better with experience. Am I wrong to cut them that much slack in hopes that someone will cut me some if I ever get up the nerve to give it a try?

A wannabe.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 09:20 AM

I understand Diane's reluctance to extend authenticity to what she considers the increasingly "corrupt" label of folk. I am moved by the passion with which she and Jim both defend the tradition they love. I only wish it were mine to defend. As it is not, all I can do is love it, learn what I may and try to deliver it as near to true as I can manage, approximate though that may be.

Richard thank you for the somewhat (equivocal?) encouragement. But aren't you really saying I should stick to what I can legitimately pull off? Not as much fun as far as I am concerned. In fact, it makes me quite sad. From the very beginning of my love affair with English folk song, when I first started singing it in the US with my daughter who introduced me to it, what I performed was accepted and even enjoyed by others.

It is only since I have been in the UK, I have feared such precepts and felt self-conscious singing what I love. It does not belong to me. I should not sing it. Yet now, from frequenting folk clubs and other events upon hearing British men and women sing American songs amazingly well, I have gained a little confidence to sing English to the English. Turn about's fair play and all that.

was it "Shortnin' Bread" you did so well at the Good Intent....

I did sing this but far from "well". First time ever public performance it and I chose it only because I was not up to singing and hoped others would take over the chorus thereby giving me a break from singing properly Which they did brilliantly, you included. Perhaps that is what you remember so positively. It is a great joining in kind of song.

But fear not, I am currently learning more Americana and Americanised songs, quite happily. So perhaps in future I will refrain from singing the traditional English songs I love so much, at least in your presence. Except at the Good Intent Wassail next weekend. Feel free to put your fingers in your ears (literally, because my voice at the moment rivals Growler's).

If I have completely misconstrued what you meant above, I apologise and please consider this retracted. In any case no hard feelings. See you next weekend.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 09:51 AM

Bruce: I'd been playing for about a year when I decided to get my courage up and play in public. I started to learn guitar and blues harmonica in '64 (at the late age of 20) and did my first floor spot, in a folk club in Leeds, in '65. I did three numbers - can't now remember what they were - and got quite enthusiastic applause. The reason I played at that folk club was that, for me - without a band to sink into, as many did - it was the only place where I could start with a reasonably sympathetic audience. Those places certainly existed in the '60s. Don't they exist now? I think they do. Come to my monthly session in the Plough in Henfield (Sussex) on the 2nd Sunday of each month. Come to the monthly session in the Bull in Ditchling (Sussex), run by by mates (and fellow Unreel Ceilidh Band musicians) Ian Chisholm & Stephen Sibbald on the last Sunday of each month. You'll be welcome - and anything goes. A great place to cut your teeth - and we positively encourage those who are not experienced performers to try themselves out in a friendly, encouraging circle.

In retrospect, I don't think I was very good in '65, but I did watch better players who I wanted to be like. And boy, did I practice - until my fingers bled. In '67 I moved down to London and started to get into what was then known as the "contemporary" scene at the Cousins - Graham, Jansch, Renbourn, etc. Over the years I learned the difference (I hope) between being a good musician and a good performer - once doesn't necessarily always go with the other.

However, if you want to see what I've done and what I'm doing now, go to Will Fly's Website. There you'll find, apart from some guff about me, free tabs, free audiophiles, links to stuff on YouTube. If you go to my channel on YouTube, you'll see what my purpose is there - to pay back the debt I owe to music. I learned so much from other, better musicians over the years - now it's payback time for me, and I provide instructional and demonstration videos for more inexperienced players. And it's all free. (I have DVDs for sale, but they only contain what's on the Tube in better quality).

Bruce - don't be afraid of getting up and doing something. Try a few potential venues such as clubs or open mics in pubs, if they exist in your area. Go and listen at first. Check out the general standard and see if you might measure up. Play to - and with friends - get their opinion. Listen, listen, listen to other musicians - either in the flesh or on record - and practice, practice, practice. Then get up and have a go at a singaround or a friendly club. Gauge the reaction - see what happens...


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Bruce MacNeill
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 10:04 AM

Thanks Will, but those venue's don't exist in the U.S. anymore at least not commonly. I'm thinking of trying to create an open mike venue here but don't know if there will be much interest.

Thanks for the encouragement. I think I'll need to practice for awhile yet.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: GUEST,James H
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 10:05 AM

VirginaTam, as an English person who loves traditional English music I think....


.... that you have as much right to sing it as anybody. Just the same as Will Fly has the right to play funk'n soul & blues from New Orleans & Memphis or my local community choir has to sing an African chant. So what if you are originally from America? Sing the songs you love, and make them your own.

If you sing from the heart, and put the work in to make your performance as good as you can, then I defy anybody to say that your doing so shows disrespect for, or somehow diminishes, the material and the tradition to which it belongs.

(And as a slight aside, but because I'd noticed you asking questions about this sort of thing on other threads to, I'd say - don't be afraid to sing songs in your own voice, and your own accent. No need to put on an english accent to sing an english song. And if you're learning stuff off a cd that somebody else has recorded, don't be afraid to play with the words and the timing and the tune a bit. My own personal hobby horse but I'd far rather people explored their own interpretations of the material than trying to produce a copy or 'cover' of a version that somebody else has aleady recorded...)


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 10:17 AM

Bruce - whereabouts in the States are you? It's a common complaint from internet friends across the pond that, because of the isolation of some communities, it's difficult to find a venue for inexperienced players to cut their teeth in. I sympathise. Have you tried advertising locally for other players who might be interested in meeting, say, at someone's house, or in a library venue? I won't say in a room in a pub because I don't believe there's a US equivalent of such a venue. (This is what I'm told by players in the US).

I run a friendly discussion board called The Front Porch - mainly Americans as members, but with me as the board Owner and Administrator (don't ask how...). It's dedicated to DIY music and good companionship. Members who post audio and video files of their playing on, say, Soundclick and YouTube, will get constructive, helpful, friendly comments from our membership. Perhaps worth a try?


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Bruce MacNeill
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 10:41 AM

Will, I'm in a very rural part of Virginia. My wife and I moved here almost 2 years ago due to my retirement and her ability to get a good job here. Now that we're basically settled, I've started investigating the possibilities and as I said, I've started practicing since I took 40 years off for a "Normal" life. As a child of the 50's/60's, during the brief American folk period, pre-Beatles, I played and sang but never professionally. I'm out of practice but working on it. I have a recorder on my Christmas list so in a couple of weeks I hope to be able to tell whether I'm winning or losing. If I get to a point where I can take constructive criticism, I'll try out your Front Porch. Right now, I'm just getting usable callouses back on my fingers and getting some range back in my voice. My old 12-string hasn't been out of the case yet.

I'm glad to hear that you have the venue and the website. For a minute there, I thought you were being unduly harsh to beginners but I guess I was wrong. I have several relatives who are professional musicians and they seem to put up with a lot of bad music in the effort to encourage others. Apparently you do the same. I appologize for the misunderstanding.

Thanks again
Bruce


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 10:47 AM

Thanks everybody for your kind comments - we're a little busy at present, which is why I haven't commented earlier, but until I do fully, perhaps you wouldn't mind if I put up part of an interview Ewan and Peggy did with sean nós singer Joe Heaney back in the mid-sixties regarding developing skills for singing folk songs, which I believe to be one of the key issues in all these discussions.
It was included in Ewan's series - The Song Carriers.
Jim Carroll

MacColl
"There are those who argue that traditional singers do not consciously concern themselves with questions of style; they inherit the words, tunes and style all in a piece, so to speak, and their function as singers is merely to reproduce faithfully what they have heard. We questioned one of the most outstanding traditional singers to be found in these islands today - Joe Heaney, of Carna, in Co. Galway. We asked him what was the first thing he listened for in another singer."

Heaney: Well, the style first of all, not the voice so much, it's the style he has of singing. I compare that with my own, then.

MacColl: Now this style that you have... with massive decorations that you put into it... you decorate more in some songs than in others, I've noticed. What tells you which songs to decorate?

Heaney: It all depends on the scope left to me in the lines of the song.   If there's enough scope left for me in the lines of a song to decorate, I do it.    But if there isn't, you see, I probably only decorate one line or two lines, maybe the second or the last.... If a line, you see, has a lot of words, well, that won't let me do any decorations on the words of the line because I couldn't break up the sentence too much. But if it's s short line, we'll say, with not many words, that allows me to decorate a lot of the words.

P. Seeger: When you're approaching a line and you know that at certain points you're going to decorate, do you ever see the shape of the decoration in your mind?

Heaney: I do. I see exactly what I'm going to do with it before... I know exactly what I'm going to do and each time I try to do it better.

MacCOLL: So much for the simple, artless, unconscious singer so beloved by the 19th-century anthologists. And to conclude, here is Joe Heaney at his magnificent best singing "My Bonnie Laddie's long a-Growing ".


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 11:01 AM

VT, if you love the music it belongs as much to you as to me as to anyone else.

Anyway, check this out Songlinks 2 if you need any reassurance of any kind of "right" to sing the songs.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 11:03 AM

Bruce - I do all I can to encourage beginners - as you'll find out if you look at the sites I've quoted above. What I have little sympathy for is the smug attitude I've seen in some clubs, where people who aren't actually very good can't or won't see it. We're all learning, all the time. When we know that, i.e. when there's proper self-awareness, then there's the potential for progress. And let's face it - for most of us, the better we progress at something, the more enjoyment we can get from it, and the more enjoyment we can give to others.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 11:47 AM

Thanks Cringe.

I do have some Martin Wyndham-Read. My partner does not like his style... he thinks it maudlin. But I am more interested in the content than the form. The stories are too good to deny.

And for Christmas I am getting loads of Odetta CDs packed with American folk and Americanised English songs. Also getting Eric Bogel, Maddy Prior and Silly Sisters. I am set for a while. WOOT!

And thank you again Jim, for the dialogue insert above. Am I to conclude from this that decoration is a bad thing? What does one do if one has not been and can never hope to be exposed to the faithful renderings passed down through the ages by the simple artless singer, but only version(s) lately rediscovered, rearranged and recorded?

I cannot believe that anything is faithfully remembered note for note and word for word. I have witnessed in my lifetime songs sung differently by my mother and her sisters than as my grandmother had sung them and changes by my daughters in songs I taught them. We are all creative beings and where we may not think to be creative, we improve and embellish and alter unwittingly and willfully. Anything passed through oral tradition cannot be perfect because humans are imperfect. Fortunately man has created devices writing and music notation by which to record the content sound recording for delivery and form. Unfortunately these devices have not been applied comprehensively to tradtional music. So we do what we can, save what we can, learn what we can and pass on what we can.

God I love Mudcat and all of MC people. You teach me so much.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 11:55 AM

My songs and tunes? No indeed they are not. They come from my culture but others are absolutely free to interpret and adapt, with the ony proviso that they respect the music and do it well, and in their own voice.

The example of Martyn Wyndham Reade and his Song Links projects is a good one. These show how English music travelled with emigrants (whether voluntary or not) and became absorbed in US and Australian culture. The comparisons are fascinating and I never tire of playing both CDs. The launches of both were probably the best C# House events I have ever attended.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 01:44 PM

Referring back to Ms Tam's remarks about M W-R, no he doesn't do the whole lot himself (though I expect he could if he wanted to). Each Song Links project consists of two CDs, one of English songs by a plethora of some of the finest interpreters of English trad music and the other of their US/Antipodean variants by equally fine singers of those traditions.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 01:56 PM

To Guest James H

Re Singing in my own voice....

But what is that? My voice all of my life has been a series of apings of my mother, my aunts, Joni Mitchell, the Early Beatles, later John Lennon, Carole King, Tracey Chapman, Loreena McKennitt, Kate Rusby, Eileen Pratt, Mahalia Jackson, Billie Holiday, Judy Garland, my cousin Peggy, my daughters, my brother, John Denver, Gordon Lightfoot, Jim Croce, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Plant (the screaming one in Led Zep), David Gilmour (Pink Floyd in the 80s), the entire cast of CSNY, both of the Silly Sisters, The Mediaeval Baebes, Freddie Mercury, John Mellencamp to name a very few. I have even imitated (in the privacy of my own home) Richard Bridge and John Thorton (as a kind of test... just to see if I could).

I don't know what my voice is. I doubt seriously I have my own unique voice.

I am every voice I have ever heard and admired!

The nearest "natural" is approximately my mother's voice. I love you Mom, and thanks, but I think I would rather not. Who wants to sound like their mom? Especially if that voice is a 1950ish Baptist church soprano voice.

Perhaps this is all a result of spending the first 6 years of my life under the penalty of severely delayed language development and the following 6 years labouring with the burning shame of being the only person in my extended family who could NOT carry a tune.

My life is different now. I sing what I like to sing. It is one of the few joys left to me. I try to make it enjoyable for others. I hope it is. I have not yet been asked to stop or leave. In fact, I often get requests to sing, so I must be doing something right.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 02:05 PM

Thanks Diane

Song Links is now on my birthday wish list. Roll on April.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 02:13 PM

EERRGG

I should have taken some very wise advice from another thread and created that post to James H in a note pad, had a cup of tea before submitting.

Sorry JamesH.. My baggage. Not yours.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 06:33 PM

VirginiaTam - whatever's closest to your speaking voice.

I'd also like to thank Jim for that comment. I'm resigned to 'folk' meaning something much broader than 'traditional', but reluctantly - I think the traditional repertoires are the one thing that folk offers that you can't get anywhere else, and we shouldn't undervalue them.

Thanks, also, to MikeofNorthumbria:

And yes, I know that many people who've sung those "good old ones" a thousand times before now find them rather tedious. However, they should remember that someone in the room may be hearing that song for the first time - and wondering at it, as they once wondered at it, forty-odd years ago. For such newcomers, this simple song could be a gateway to unfamiliar songs, which they might eventually learn to understand more deeply, and perhaps even to love.

That was me, more recently than I care to admit. Beech singaround, end of interval; Les opens up with

Did you ever see a wild goose sail over the ocean?

Around me, ten or twelve people slam in with

Ranzo! Ranzo way-hey!

I was stunned. Not only had I never heard that song before, I'd never experienced anything like that before. A door opened for me that night - that's the only way I can describe it.

At this point I'd been a regular attender and performer at the local folk club for about five years. Which is probably why I can get a bit tetchy about folk being defined too broadly - I went along with the ain't-it-all-folk-music definition for most of that time, and I know now what I was missing.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 06:35 PM

Oops. That was meant to be just the word 'like' in bold - could a passing elf fix it?


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 12 Dec 08 - 06:46 PM

Pip - don't worry. Some friends took me to a folk club (Herga) when I was 15, and a door opened for me. Changed my life.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Folkiedave
Date: 13 Dec 08 - 05:08 AM

The memory is fading but at one early visit to a folk club there was someone singing a chorus song and someone joined in from behind me.
I was so shocked. How dare he I thought to myself - that bloke at the front is doing his best and that bloke behind is joining in!!!

Then the rest started joining is as well. I was gobsmacked. Then I joined in - and got a buzz. Since I wasn't an talented singer the choruses covered my inadequacy. (It's the same with carols). I loved it and still do.

As for singing the same songs - many song-carriers sing the same song on the same occasion. Let me quote an obvious example. Will Noble sings each Sunday at the carols at Dungworth. He sings "Misteltoe Bough" and a version of the "Butcher and the Chambermaid". He has other appropriate songs but he sings those two. Every Sunday and you can set your watch.

There is always someone there who has never heard these before or heard a top quality traditional singer before. And they marvel at the quality. And so they should.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: GUEST,Mr Red
Date: 13 Dec 08 - 05:52 AM

I promote the concept of folk music and go to information providers to give them information. Once we have got past their "I am the information source, we tell you" and accepted "well actually you know more than us" we inevitably get into the "well there's line dancing in ***** on Tues" !!
I doubt there are many who would call line dancing folk in either camps. Then there is the "well they have music in XYZ pub" which is obviously loud hit parade stuff and the "information provider" is confusing the 60's progression from Bob Dylan to "anything that comes out of a juke box is folk (if you like that kind of thing)" scenario.

The general public don't know what folk is but they know it when they see it dancing in bells and baldricks.

And when they hear a session, it is all Irish music. Even with the myriad English sessions around the country - (and a few Welsh ones I list).

Is it any wonder that folkies get annoyed. They get labelled incorrectly, by people who laugh at them. We have a right to fight back. Even in this broad church where we worship.


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Subject: RE: 'Folk' - by an occasional non-folkie
From: Aeola
Date: 13 Dec 08 - 11:37 AM

You know JC, your post was quite erudite and fervent, a bit like your maths teacher seemed about his subject! I suspect he made quite an impact on your life. In the same way the music teacher at my school said I would have to do science because I couldn't span an octave!! C'est la vie!!


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