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Class-obsessed folkies

red max 20 Jan 09 - 05:41 AM
Les in Chorlton 20 Jan 09 - 05:46 AM
TheSnail 20 Jan 09 - 05:55 AM
Folkiedave 20 Jan 09 - 06:01 AM
red max 20 Jan 09 - 06:07 AM
Les in Chorlton 20 Jan 09 - 06:09 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Jan 09 - 06:10 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 20 Jan 09 - 06:11 AM
GUEST,Jon 20 Jan 09 - 06:13 AM
John MacKenzie 20 Jan 09 - 06:23 AM
Acorn4 20 Jan 09 - 06:34 AM
Stu 20 Jan 09 - 06:45 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 20 Jan 09 - 07:20 AM
GUEST,Jon 20 Jan 09 - 07:35 AM
The Borchester Echo 20 Jan 09 - 07:48 AM
Ruth Archer 20 Jan 09 - 07:51 AM
GUEST,Jon 20 Jan 09 - 08:03 AM
Folkiedave 20 Jan 09 - 08:05 AM
The Sandman 20 Jan 09 - 08:16 AM
red max 20 Jan 09 - 08:23 AM
manitas_at_work 20 Jan 09 - 08:25 AM
The Sandman 20 Jan 09 - 08:25 AM
Ruth Archer 20 Jan 09 - 08:31 AM
Bernard 20 Jan 09 - 08:31 AM
Penny S. 20 Jan 09 - 08:49 AM
John MacKenzie 20 Jan 09 - 08:56 AM
Folkiedave 20 Jan 09 - 09:02 AM
The Sandman 20 Jan 09 - 09:15 AM
Ruth Archer 20 Jan 09 - 09:19 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 20 Jan 09 - 09:19 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 20 Jan 09 - 09:26 AM
Tim Leaning 20 Jan 09 - 09:44 AM
The Borchester Echo 20 Jan 09 - 09:49 AM
Jim Carroll 20 Jan 09 - 09:51 AM
red max 20 Jan 09 - 09:58 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 20 Jan 09 - 10:04 AM
GUEST,Jon 20 Jan 09 - 10:10 AM
The Borchester Echo 20 Jan 09 - 10:18 AM
manitas_at_work 20 Jan 09 - 10:19 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 20 Jan 09 - 10:35 AM
Bryn Pugh 20 Jan 09 - 10:40 AM
melodeonboy 20 Jan 09 - 10:41 AM
Bryn Pugh 20 Jan 09 - 10:51 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 20 Jan 09 - 10:54 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 20 Jan 09 - 11:01 AM
GUEST,Jon 20 Jan 09 - 11:14 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 20 Jan 09 - 11:19 AM
Dave the Gnome 20 Jan 09 - 11:24 AM
manitas_at_work 20 Jan 09 - 11:26 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 20 Jan 09 - 11:28 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 20 Jan 09 - 11:29 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 20 Jan 09 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 20 Jan 09 - 11:34 AM
Marje 20 Jan 09 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Jon 20 Jan 09 - 11:45 AM
Zen 20 Jan 09 - 11:52 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 20 Jan 09 - 11:57 AM
GUEST,Will Fly, out gigging 20 Jan 09 - 12:19 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 20 Jan 09 - 12:34 PM
Jack Campin 20 Jan 09 - 12:38 PM
Big Al Whittle 20 Jan 09 - 12:54 PM
PoppaGator 20 Jan 09 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,Will Fly, out gigging 20 Jan 09 - 01:00 PM
The Borchester Echo 20 Jan 09 - 01:12 PM
Lizzie Cornish 1 20 Jan 09 - 01:14 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 20 Jan 09 - 01:32 PM
The Borchester Echo 20 Jan 09 - 01:34 PM
Lizzie Cornish 1 20 Jan 09 - 01:34 PM
Dave the Gnome 20 Jan 09 - 01:35 PM
The Borchester Echo 20 Jan 09 - 01:42 PM
Ruth Archer 20 Jan 09 - 01:51 PM
Ruth Archer 20 Jan 09 - 01:54 PM
The Borchester Echo 20 Jan 09 - 02:10 PM
Art Thieme 20 Jan 09 - 02:40 PM
Ruth Archer 20 Jan 09 - 02:43 PM
Richard Bridge 20 Jan 09 - 02:44 PM
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Jim Carroll 20 Jan 09 - 02:52 PM
Folkiedave 20 Jan 09 - 02:59 PM
GUEST 20 Jan 09 - 03:03 PM
bubblyrat 20 Jan 09 - 03:06 PM
red max 20 Jan 09 - 03:47 PM
GUEST,Jon 20 Jan 09 - 03:54 PM
Lizzie Cornish 1 20 Jan 09 - 04:04 PM
theleveller 20 Jan 09 - 04:07 PM
GUEST,Jon 20 Jan 09 - 04:15 PM
GUEST,Jon 20 Jan 09 - 04:20 PM
Ruth Archer 20 Jan 09 - 04:34 PM
John MacKenzie 20 Jan 09 - 04:53 PM
Dave the Gnome 20 Jan 09 - 06:53 PM
Surreysinger 20 Jan 09 - 07:13 PM
Howard Jones 20 Jan 09 - 07:16 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 20 Jan 09 - 07:31 PM
The Borchester Echo 20 Jan 09 - 08:59 PM
Ian Fyvie 20 Jan 09 - 09:38 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Jan 09 - 03:08 AM
theleveller 21 Jan 09 - 03:19 AM
Surreysinger 21 Jan 09 - 04:33 AM
Ruth Archer 21 Jan 09 - 04:34 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 21 Jan 09 - 04:51 AM
theleveller 21 Jan 09 - 04:53 AM
The Borchester Echo 21 Jan 09 - 04:53 AM
wyrdolafr 21 Jan 09 - 04:55 AM
The Sandman 21 Jan 09 - 05:00 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 21 Jan 09 - 05:05 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 21 Jan 09 - 05:19 AM
Bryn Pugh 21 Jan 09 - 05:21 AM
Banjiman 21 Jan 09 - 05:22 AM
wyrdolafr 21 Jan 09 - 05:24 AM
Howard Jones 21 Jan 09 - 05:39 AM
red max 21 Jan 09 - 05:40 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 21 Jan 09 - 06:05 AM
The Borchester Echo 21 Jan 09 - 06:14 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 21 Jan 09 - 06:39 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 21 Jan 09 - 06:46 AM
wyrdolafr 21 Jan 09 - 06:53 AM
red max 21 Jan 09 - 06:53 AM
Stu 21 Jan 09 - 06:57 AM
theleveller 21 Jan 09 - 07:01 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 21 Jan 09 - 07:05 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 21 Jan 09 - 07:06 AM
wyrdolafr 21 Jan 09 - 07:18 AM
red max 21 Jan 09 - 07:19 AM
Stu 21 Jan 09 - 07:25 AM
oggie 21 Jan 09 - 07:29 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 21 Jan 09 - 07:34 AM
Bonzo3legs 21 Jan 09 - 07:44 AM
melodeonboy 21 Jan 09 - 07:59 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 21 Jan 09 - 08:02 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 21 Jan 09 - 08:05 AM
red max 21 Jan 09 - 08:41 AM
The Borchester Echo 21 Jan 09 - 08:53 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 21 Jan 09 - 08:59 AM
red max 21 Jan 09 - 09:07 AM
Bryn Pugh 21 Jan 09 - 09:48 AM
GUEST 21 Jan 09 - 01:16 PM
GUEST,Jon Dudley 21 Jan 09 - 01:18 PM
The Borchester Echo 21 Jan 09 - 01:27 PM
GUEST,Jon Dudley 21 Jan 09 - 02:24 PM
The Borchester Echo 21 Jan 09 - 02:45 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Jan 09 - 02:59 PM
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Subject: Class-obsessed folkies
From: red max
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 05:41 AM

Apologies if the thread title seems a little confrontational, but I couldn't think of a better one. Having read with great interest the "Why folk clubs are dying" thread I was intrigued by the preoccupation that many folkies seem to have about folk and its working class roots.

I know that Sharp and his contemporaries collected much of their material from working class people, and that by that point the middle classes weren't generally singing the old songs, but does this necessarily mean that folk songs had always been a product of the working class or simply that they were the only ones who were still hanging on to them at the end of the 19th century?

I know that plenty of trad songs sing from the perspective of the common man or woman, with Jack the Sailor as our hero and lawyers or the clergy as the butt of jokes, but there are also plenty with poor tailors being the victim of scorn and many with aristocratic heroes. And of course a huge number of songs with no aspect of class involved. We can speculate that "The Seeds of Love" was composed by a working class gardener, but it could just as easily have been the creation of a minstrel to sing at court, we don't know.

To me it seems unfair to assert that the middle class have "hijacked" folk music from its true keepers when we know so little about its history and origins.

By the way, I'm a librarian, and therefore I suppose a soft middle class nancy.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 05:46 AM

So, already, Nancy is in trouble?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: TheSnail
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 05:55 AM

Les in Chorlton

So, already, Nancy is in trouble?

The basic plot of a great many folk songs and of obvious contemporary relevance.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Folkiedave
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 06:01 AM

Librarians - always causing trouble - John Conolly, June Tabor, the list goes on.......


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: red max
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 06:07 AM

Yup, we're a belligerent breed.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 06:09 AM

I like the way this is developing. How long can we keep it off the central topic? Or have I failed already?

L in C
Avoiding Tax form


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 06:10 AM

As you say, we don't know who 'wrote' folk songs, which is a pretty fair indication of its working/peasant class origins - educated people tend to sign their creations. Where else would you find massive body of totally anonymous work.
As you also you say, we know so little about its history and origins, the reason being that the collectors (largely middle-class) tended to assume that the singers had nothing to offer apart from their songs.
It is almost certain that the sea songs were made by seamen who had experienced the conditions described - compare them to the creations of Dibden, Masefield et al. Similarly, the bothy songs present too accurate a picture of 19th century farming life in North East Scotland to have been created by outsiders.
The broadside presses certainly played a part in the distribution of songs, but even this is a two way street - existing folk songs being adapted and sold on broadsides - we know this from the fact that Travellers in Ireland were still participating in the trade right into the 1950s.
It has been a constant theme throughout the history of folk-song scholarship that the 'lower' classes did not create folk song, and were incapable of doing so - the only thin missing has been - a shred of evidence (apart from 'gut-instinct').
Let's see what happens with your question.
Jim Carroll
PS It's not a question of the middle class 'hi-jacking' anything, no more that it's a case of 'townies' taking of country-based music. It's simple a matter of people, whatever their origins, recognising the beauty and value of folk song and enjoying it - I hope!


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 06:11 AM

When a contributor to this board automatically assumes that I am middle class just because I happen to like (and sing) traditional songs I would say that, yes, that person is "class-obsessed"! I also believe that that persons hypothesis that the middle classes have hi-jacked the workers' music is absurd. Yes, WLD, this refers to you!

My view is that class still 'matters' in this country and that it is a matter of great concern. I also deplore the fact that there is a widening gap between rich and poor and that social mobility has been drastically reduced since I was a lad (mid to late 60s). Nevertheless, the fact that a few enthusiasts still sing old songs that, in the past, were often (though not exclusively) sung by working people is not, in any way, relevant to this debate. If we all stopped singing old songs tomorrow the 'workers' (whoever they are these days!) would NOT automatically fashion a wonderful new folk culture - there are much more powerful forces active in our society which would tend to work against that happening.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 06:13 AM

I'd guess one could suggest that folk music is generally simpler than (not that folk elements are never used) than classical music and there can be "highbrow"/"lowbrow" music feelings. Folk to me, is easily accessible.

Beyond that, as far as I'm aware, music in oral tradition contains works by titled people, works written for wealthier patrons, works by professional entertainers as well as works by many we don't know anything about.

I don't know how you pin it down other than to say it contains songs and tunes people liked enough to pass on.

Personally, while I believe the music attracts more (and count me in on having some socialist leanings) left wing people, these days, I like to think of the music we were left with as classless and it's no odds to me if I was sharing a tune or two with say Prince Charles if he played (and I'm not a royalist) or Joe Doe. It (the music) can rise above such class distinctions.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 06:23 AM

I've often thought some folkies an odd bunch class wise. So many of them seem to espouse working class values while pursueing middle class agendas.
I have never in my life delineated anybody by class, and the only people I know who are 'working class' are people who have proudly told me they are.
These same people possess worldly goods, and bank balances that those I might consider to be working class, could never aspire to.
I call it the Tony Benn syndrome. Whereby you renounce all outward badges of rank or class, but keep the money.
I have always thought the class is a curious way to define people, especially 'working class'. After all, mearly everybody works for a living,, don't they?
We sings songs of labouring men and women, and we empathise with their lot, but we don't give all our worldly goods to the poor, and go off and do good works.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Acorn4
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 06:34 AM

Add Mao Tse Tung and Casanova to the list of librarians.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Stu
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 06:45 AM

Like it or not, the UK is a class-obsessed society, so whatever happens at some point class will come into it.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 07:20 AM

It was the Librarians in the US who got Michael Moore's 'Stupid White Men' book out, after Bush and his cronies tried to make it disappear...Long live the Librarians!

The English folk world is, in my opinion, saturated by pseudo-intellectuals who assume they know everything about everything. They have made folk music 'academic' and they go out of their way to lambast anyone who is 'not of their circle' as stupid, ignorant and er...'intellectually bereft'. They ARE class obssessed, to the point of paranoia, imo.

I'm with John MacKenzie here, and I'm very pleased to read that he feels as I do about class. It's the biggest load of b*llsh*t I ever did hear. It's used by those who have either been told, all their lives, that they 'belong' to this 'group' and no other, and have come to believe it, or it's used to insult and degrade others.   It divides people off and sets each group against one another, causing constant bitterness and unrest.

People are people.

Songs are songs.

For way too long those within 'Cecil Sharply House' and beyond, have kept the songs locked away, and convinced people that they must only be sung a certain way, by certain people, who are from the right background. You're made to feel that if you don't know every single aspect of history about each and every song, then you are a dingbat of the highest calibre. If you don't want to 'worship' the songs then you mustn't love them. I feel it's driven people away in droves, it's kept the music unpopular. It will continue to keep the folk world small and insignificant. That's an absolute crying shame, because some of the best musicians and songwriters are in the folk world.

Since I 'fell' into it, I have been *told* what class I am, been *told* I am a racist, been *told* that I read the *wrong* papers. I'e been *told* more things about myself than I even knew, because they know far more about me than I do, apparently. I've had just about every insult imaginable thrown at me, simply for loving the music 'my' way and not 'theirs'. Why???

I recall one musician and singer, and a damned fine one too, saying that he had come up against some problems being accepted, purely because he'd been to public school, and this was held against him. WTF is that all about then? Inverted, judgemental snobbery of the highest degree in my mind.

I have *never* fallen into a world that professes to be so open, so fair, so 'even' and accepting, yet so often, it is the absolute and complete opposite. It is one of the most judgemental worlds going, imo, and that is terribly sad. I know there are many in the folk world who do NOT judge, but they do NOT make their voices heard enough, so all that IS heard is this bullying, pompous demeanour, which keeps so many away from a magical world. The quiet, accepting people need to speak out far more, because their world is being held back by those who belittle others.

These songs were merely songs written or made up on the spot, to be enjoyed by people. They've now become an Academic's Dream to be used as power over others, so that some can fluff their feathers, strut their stuff and show the world how much they know.


Thank God I was raised by a man who taught me only and ever to see 'people' and never 'class'


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 07:35 AM

For way too long those within 'Cecil Sharply House' and beyond, have kept the songs locked away

Supporting evidence please.

Please release a couple of these songs you know to be locked away. I for one would like to hear this material that has been kept away from us. As far as I can make out some (or most, or all?) who are more scholarly about the music will bend over backwards to share what they have learned.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 07:48 AM

Oh dear, Jon, shame on you for interrupting an anti-intellectual rant. Surely you know that human misery. unemployment and deprivation of opportunity has nothing whatever to do with class oppression and exploitation?

The EFDSS as non-class-based enemy? Why didn't I think of that before, with all those guards on the doors of VWML, blocking access to the music?

No-one has ever told me I can't. I decide that for myself (like not playing / singing out till I can. That sort of thing).


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 07:51 AM

Lizzie:

Please list all of the occasions when you have visited Cecil Sharp House.

Please be specific about how anyone denied you access to the books, archives, or sound library.

Please detail occasions when the staff there were less than helpful with a specific phone or e-mail enquiry.

Please describe any occasion when a member of the staff said that a song had to be sung in a particular way, or that you had to know the provenance of it before you sang it.


Until then, stop defaming one of the worst-resourced, yet most valuable, national treasures that this country possesses. It boasts Shirley Collins and Eliza Carthy, two of the most knowledgeable and important ambassadors for the folk world, as its new president and vice president. It welcomes through its doors, free of charge, thousands of people each year who are genuinely interested in music, not in pursuing their own, pathetic, self-obsessed agenda. Get out there. Get educated. Stop mouthing off about subjects where your arguments are, in fact, intellectually bereft. And grow the hell up.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 08:03 AM

Diane, the notion that we might have a Three Round Three, Galopede, New Rigged Ship, possibly from this dreaded source, yet with no knowledge of each others backgrounds might be able to play together doesn't bare thinking about does it?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Folkiedave
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 08:05 AM

Lizzie - I add my voice to those who ask how the music was locked away.

The first journal with the results of folk song collecting came out in 1899 and it has been published at least yearly ever since. Hardly an example of locking materials away I would have thought. Every collector published at least some of their work in the journal.

Take virtually any book published about folk song in the last fifty years and a debt to the VWML is acknowledged. It is open to anyone who calls in and I doubt there is a singer since the revival who would not acknowledge its influence.

The first edition of the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs (1959) was based on the collections in the VWML, ran to three editions and has since been re-published by the society. In the late 60's/early 70's a series of books based on collections within the VWML Marrow Bones, Wanton Seed, Constant Lovers and Foggy Dew were published by the society and are in the process of being re-published. MArrow Bones is already done and Wanton Seed is almost finished.

Now, there's my evidence that the stuff was available, tell us yours to show how it was locked away as you suggested.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 08:16 AM

All that is important,is to be able to enjoy music,to treat songs with respect,and to try and perform them to the best of ones ability,this means practising them before performance.
having not led a sheltered life can help as well,as it can give the singer the ability to enter into songs, to empathise with characters,in a song,enabling the singer to really get into the song.
leading a sheltered life,is not necessarily a class phenomenon.
C Fox Smith came from an upper middle class background,but during the early 20th century,sailed on board clipper ships she overcame prejudices about her back ground,and the fact she was a woman,to write poems that have been adapted successfully as songs,please see Sailortown[words CFoxSmith tune R Miles],which is available from my website.[in my songbook Sailors dream,and also the cd Around the Harbour Town]
http://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: red max
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 08:23 AM

"As you say, we don't know who 'wrote' folk songs, which is a pretty fair indication of its working/peasant class origins - educated people tend to sign their creations. Where else would you find massive body of totally anonymous work"

Good point. I suppose it's worth observing, though, that loads of hunting songs are anonymous and yet I imagine they were often created by middle and upper class composers.

"I have always thought the class is a curious way to define people, especially 'working class'. After all, nearly everybody works for a living, don't they?"

Surely "working class" is just the more polite replacement for "lower class"? Much like "developing countries" it's an attempt to categorise but not patronise.

A folkie friend of mine was telling me about a couple of guys he knew who ran a communist bookshop back in the 60s. They were both graduates, both from middle class backgrounds, and this obviously made them feel slightly fraudulent, being so removed from the people whose cause they espoused. So they went and got jobs as removal men. Now, call me unkind, but when I heard about this I laughed. I can almost imagine Ewan MacColl singing "I'm an honest working man, and I drive a Pickfords van".

I wasn't born until the 70s, so I don't share the experiences of those intellectual removal men, but it seems to me that Britain has changed a little since then. Sure, there is still inequality and unfairness, but I'm not sure how much society is still defined and divided by class. It used to be "you do what you are", now it's "you are what you do". How we dress and how we speak tells people far less than it used to about our "status".

What makes me middle class? Is it about money? I'm in a so-called professional occupation, but I know for a fact that a plumber or an electrician will make twice as much money as me. That's fair enough, their skills have a higher market value than mine. So are they still lower/working class? Is it about education? If a plumber reads The Sun whereas a librarian reads The Grauniad, then is the latter's social status higher?

It seems to me that "class" is an increasingly vague and blurred categorisation. People talk about the working and middle classes without always demonstrating a clear concept of what the terms mean today.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 08:25 AM

"For way too long those within 'Cecil Sharply House' and beyond, have kept the songs locked away, "

They were locked away in some antiquarians notes or generally unheard beyond the garden wall of some cottager until they were placed somewhere they could be found. Where on earth do you think people like Martin Carthy, Seth Lakeman and many more go to find matieral once the source has died?

Have you looked at the publications made available in recent years or read about the educational projects giving these songs back to the descendants of the people they were notated from?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 08:25 AM

The music has not been locked away,but although it has been available,it has not[in the past] been promoted very well,there was a period when the EFDSS,thought dance more important than song.
that does not appear to be the case at the moment.
of course they are both important,but that should mean equal promotion for both dance and song.
unfortunately the average man in the street,has probably never heard of EFDSS.,how one overcomes this problem I do not know.[especialy as EFDSS does not have the funding of Comhaltas]
Efdss, needs friends in high places.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 08:31 AM

EFDSS Education Programmes:
Autumn 2008

Take 6
Hundreds of folk songs and tunes, representing a huge swathe of English traditional music heritage, are on their way back to the communities that gave birth to them.

Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Take 6 is an 18-month archival, educational and community project which will be completed in August 2009. Through Take 6 EFDSS is archiving and conserving six unique manuscript collections and making them more widely accessible to the public, through digitising and putting the collections on line. (For more details on the archiving aspect of the project please contact the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library.

Four of the six collections are:

? the Janet Blunt Collection, Oxfordshire;
? the George Butterworth Collection: southern England and Yorkshire;
? the Francis Collinson Collection, from the southern counties of England and;
? the Hammond Collection, mainly from Dorset.

The other two collections are being used as the source material for projects in primary schools and communities in Hampshire and Lancashire where the songs were originally noted, namely:

? the George Gardiner Collection of over 1600 folk songs collected mainly in Hampshire in the period 1905 to 1909 and;
? the Anne G. Gilchrist Collection of 214 folk songs plus children's singing games, Lancashire Morris tunes, songs from customs, sea shanties, carols and street cries, all collected from the 1890s to the 1920s, mainly in Lancashire.

This is EFDSS Education's first national education project springing from the Society's unrivalled archival collections.
Folk Song and Singing Games Projects are being developed and implemented in eight primary schools. "Folk Song Alive" showcase events are taking place in each school to share the children's learning and creative work with the wider school community.

Projects encompass singing, song writing, dance, playground singing games and rhymes. They are specifically designed to support several areas of the curriculum such as music, literacy, history, PE / dance, PHSE & Citizenship and to bring the songs to life for young people in a way that is fresh, contemporary and relevant.

Learning resources are being developed with all participating schools investigating and demonstrating how these heritage materials can be best used to support the curriculum and other key contemporary educational concerns. These resources will be made available online in summer 2009.

The complementary community-based programme is being developed in partnership with regional folk agencies and other local bodies, increasing community access to the Take 6 collections by touring display stands in community locations in Hampshire, Lancashire and Southwark and at major folk and community festivals.

Folk arts practitioners involved in Take 6 this autumn are:
? Pete Coe
? Carolyn Robson
?'Doc' Rowe
? Paul Sartin
? Roger Watson

Earlier in 2008 EFDSS Education successfully piloted the use of the materials in London, in conjunction with Redriff Primary School in Southwark which has a history of promoting singing games ? an annual festival there in the 1960s led to an album of recordings on the prestigious Topic Records label. Work at the school was multi-layered encompassing a "Singing Games" project with all classes, from Reception to Year 6, and a complementary oral history and reminiscence project with local older people.



The project concluded with a wonderful afternoon 'sharing' event in the school playground where all children took part in performing past and present playground singing and clapping games, some children performing Maypole dances, and ending with a mini ceilidh for all children, staff, parents and visitors to the rousing music of the folk band Faustus.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Bernard
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 08:31 AM

Perhaps this may be a little off topic, but it may help put things into a different perspective...

I used to be a primary school teacher, and was responsible for music in the school which was located between a very poor council estate and a well-to-do estate of private houses. This meant the children were from a wide range of backgrounds.

The Local Authority 'Music Advisor' at the time believed that there was no point in providing loan instruments for children from poorer families because they could not afford to buy an instrument if the child showed promise.

This was not an opinion I agreed with, though I could see his point. To me it was simply driving a bigger wedge between the 'haves' and 'have nots', and potentially gifted children were being denied their basic rights. The council estate was a 'dumping ground' for problem families, which didn't help.

In other words, money and not ability was the yardstick.

Okay, that's the real world, like it or lump it, but an eight year old child should at least have an equal opportunity to education.

My approach was to refuse LEA loan instruments completely, and persuade the Head to purchse some reasonable quality (Japanese Aulos) cheap descant recorders which could be lent to rich and poor alike, with no serious financial implications if any went missing...

Okay, there's quite a diversity of opinion as to the value of teaching recorder in school, but it's probably better than nothing at all.

Children who showed promise got to keep their recorders when they moved on to secondary school, and some families (okay, the wealthier ones) bought flutes, clarinets and so on for their children even before they moved on. But at least they weren't floored at the first hurdle.

I also did lunchtime guitar classes for those who could bring their own instruments, which had a spin-off of instruments being donated for the use of those who didn't have their own.

This was in addition to choir practice and country dance sessions - which were very well attended even when it wasn't raining!


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Penny S.
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 08:49 AM

Didn't Masefield start off before the mast, rounding the Horn etc? Or where did I get that from?

Penny


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 08:56 AM

Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Henry Dana Jr.?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Folkiedave
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 09:02 AM

Masefield did indeed spend time at sea, and you could have got it from Wikipedia.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 09:15 AM

Ruth,very good news.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 09:19 AM

I thought you'd like it, Dick. :)


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 09:19 AM

Lizzie.
1. Open Mouth.
2. Insert Foot.
3. Repeat on a daily basis.
4. Learn about your subject.
5. Start with 1. again.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 09:26 AM

"Since I 'fell' into it, I have been *told* what class I am, been *told* I am a racist, been *told* that I read the *wrong* papers. I'e been *told* more things about myself than I even knew, because they know far more about me than I do, apparently. I've had just about every insult imaginable thrown at me, simply for loving the music 'my' way and not 'theirs'. Why???"

Probably because you're a ranter, Lizzie. And probably because you go off on one every time anyone has the temerity to disagree with one of your tedious opinions.

I agree to disagree with lots of people in the folk world, who occasionally *tell* me things about myself that I didn't know. I respond in one of 3 possible ways:

- I decide that they have a point and make the necessary changes. Especially if they advance convincing arguments and don't rant.

- I continue to disagree with them.

- I ignore them.

I very rarely, if ever, take umbrage - life's too short!

Oh yes, and my perception is that, in recent years, the EFDSS has changed from a rather stuffy organisation to an exciting, modern one with a determination to make the material more widely available.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 09:44 AM

As someone who loves to hear old music but never heard of the EFDSS
Is it possible to see the materiel online or does one have to travel to somewhere in particular to actualy see it.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 09:49 AM

VWML


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 09:51 AM

One of the greatest barriers to the circulation of some of the wonderful collections of folk music is, as the Cap'n pointed out, funding.
One of the reasons for this is that the middle-class orientated arts organisations have consistently refused to folk music as being important enough to fund.
Some years ago a folklore department in an English University was closed down - the principle described those working on the subject as 'tree-huggers' - says it all really.
As for Britain being classless, and there being no advantages or disadvantages of belonging to one or another - bollocks!
Jim Carroll (electrician)


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: red max
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 09:58 AM

"As for Britain being classless, and there being no advantages or disadvantages of belonging to one or another - bollocks!"

Was that a response to a specfic comment, Jim? For my part I was wondering if the terms of reference for class distinction were becoming more complex.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 10:04 AM

Ah...and there we have it all. :0)

No, no, no, most of you have taken ONE bit of what I've said, and used that and only that to rage.

The music is 'locked away' by the attitude, not by keys and chains. It's the very attitude that is seen in here, which stems from some who are associated with Cecil Sharp House. Until that changes, for me, the music will always be locked away in the confines of a select club which welcomes some, whilst barring others they deem unacceptable.   

I have no desire to 'study' the songs. Some of you may find that unbelievable, some may not. I'm not a musician, merely a member of the audience, and therefore I look at things from an entirely different perspective to some. I don't have a brain that deals in detail or pedantry. I have nothing to prove. I don't wish to be Queen Bee of the folk world as I feel some may do. Neither do I wish to astound people with my ***incredible*** knowledge, I simply love some of the music hear, that's all.

However, when some of the very music I love is spoken of in such deeply derogatory terms, by some of those associated with Cecil Sharp House, why in the name of Maudie Karpeles would I want to set foot in there in the first place?

I see elements of the English folk world as a very select, sniffy, snobby club, I'm afraid I always will do, because of what has happened. I see parts of it as avery judgemental and condescending.

Tell you what, the day Cecil Sharp House puts on a Seth Lakeman and Show of Hands gig, is the day I'll step inside its Hallowed Entrance. Put Eliza on with them too, because Eliza and Seth, together, would blow the place apart. And you know what else, if they had Seth Lakeman playing in there, they'd get THOUSANDS of YOUNG people turning up to look round, many of whom know nothing of the English folk world, which is what you'd think they'd want...wouldn't you?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 10:10 AM

As for Britain being classless [...] bollocks!

I'd agree with that but I do know that in local to me at the times (I've not traveled far) sessions I have played in, I have played with a tax exile as well as someone on the dole. I have played with a highly qualified scientist as well as someone with not a CSE. I have played with an All Ireland Champion as well as a beginner (and been the beginner too once), etc. I think it can be a meeting point for all.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 10:18 AM

Can't actually recall ever seeing a Lakeperson Brother in C# (though I've certainly seen their parents)but, all the others mentioned above, yes and all day long too, doing workshops, in the library, in the bar, in the shop (when there was one)I have. Especially Ms Carthy, the new VP.
Because it's not a place of lightweight entertainment but a treasure trove of learning. But that wouldn't grab you, would it?
Mawkin will be doing a ceilidh there on Friday. Do reassure me that you won't turn up because there'll be a caller guiding sets through dances. And you don't like that either. Just keep those two feet firmly wedged in your mouth instead.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 10:19 AM

"The music is 'locked away' by the attitude, not by keys and chains."

No it isn't! Read the above.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 10:35 AM

Lizzie.
You really don't know when to stop, do you?
The library and it's various collections at C Sharp house, is becoming more and more available to all who want to find it.
(It wasn't always the way, admittedly. But times have changed. A bit more financing helped)
And, surprise, surprise. Some of the artists that you dribble incessantly about, avail themselves of it's services!
So, instead of just whingeing, learn how to sing, take up an instrument, then do years of research, then do years of practising, then do relentless years of badly paid gigs, And then drive through the night getting home at 4am, and then have the temerity to pontificate.
See you in 30 years.
I Thank You


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 10:40 AM

Jesus, Lizzie - and you wonder why you get barred out of sites, and whinge when you do ?

I'm with Jim and his "bollocks" (not his physical appendages, I hasten to add !)

I, too, am a member of a Profession, but I met the class boundaries - WTF was a boy from the back streets of Manchester doing, thinking he might become a Lawyer

"Oh, I say - hasn't he the quaintest Northern accent ?".

Let us be thankful that the Music we all love, regardless of background and bank balance, is there for us to continue to love and enjoy.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: melodeonboy
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 10:41 AM

"I think it can be a meeting point for all."

Indeed, Jon. The singarounds I go to are attended by a wide range of people from different jobs and backgrounds (and of different abilities!). The class issue never arises.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 10:51 AM

Sorry - that should have been "Clarse Binderies".

(One will get one's Barbour . . . )


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 10:54 AM

Oh Lizzie (Foot/Mouth)
For your information Ms Carthy has played C Sharp house countless times, and is now high up in it's organisational hierarchy. Seth and SOH almost certainly give the society the respect it deserves.
And Shirley Collins is the boss!!!
Come on then girl. Bring it on.....What have you done?????
Squealed a bit?????
And................................what else............?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 11:01 AM

Read what I said, Ralph.

I *know* Eliza has played there. I suggested she play alongside Seth Lakeman. Don't be so eager to belittle.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have a President to watch being sworn in.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 11:14 AM

Tell you what, the day Cecil Sharp House puts on a Seth Lakeman and Show of Hands gig, is the day I'll step inside its Hallowed Entrance. Put Eliza on with them too

So sod all the efforts they do make, the people they have helped, etc. Until they do things exactly on your terms, they can go away.

(and I thought it was the EFDSS being dictatorial)


---
I'm still waiting for evidence from you btw.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 11:19 AM

Belittle who?
Not one of the artists you have named. Respect to all.
It's just that your lack of knowledge, and blind sycophancy is incredibly cloying.
Where exactly do you think that your artists get their material?
Oh My..... by research.....There's a thing.
If Eliza and Seth wanted to play together. Great.
If they don't.....Also great.
What has that got to do with us?
Or, anybody?
Who cares?
I've played with Filarfolket, and Mike Waterson.....So???
Who cares?
There is a real difference between an artist and an audient.
And I think I know which one you are.
Now, Take up an instrument, and put in the hours/years...


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 11:24 AM

The music is 'locked away' by the attitude, not by keys and chains.

Again - examples please.

DeG


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies - Off topic
From: manitas_at_work
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 11:26 AM

"And then drive through the night getting home at 4am"

What do you do to keep your interest up now that the 'Veneer of the Week' has gone?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 11:28 AM

Oh Bugger.
Veneer Of The Week.......Memories!!!!
LOL!


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 11:29 AM

PS
Lizzie won't have a clue about that!
Neither will our US overlords!!!


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 11:30 AM

"Tell you what, the day Cecil Sharp House puts on a Seth Lakeman and Show of Hands gig ... "

Do I detect a 'school girl' crush on Mr Lakeman, Lizzie? Is this what your incessant ranting is all about? Could it be that you have encountered a few people who don't happen to share your 'pash'? Poor Seth, that's all I can say!


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 11:34 AM

Quote Fom Lizzie

"I have no desire to 'study' the songs"

Anyone want to add anything???
Mmmm Didn't think so....


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Marje
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 11:38 AM

I'm afraid things have moved on, Bernard, since your teaching expeiences, and not for the better.

I know that in some - possibly all or most - local authority instrumental teaching, the pupils are no longer selected by musical ability or even by teachers picking out their favourite pupils. Now the pupils all have to pay for lessons, as well as for instrument hire or purchase, and for their music, so selection is effectively made on the grounds of income and aspiration (which broadly coincides with middle, as opposed to working/lower, class).The LEA music services are supposed to be self-financing, which makes much of what they can offer unavailable to children whose parents are poor or who don't value music.

Sorry that's scarcely on topic - except maybe to show that there is still a cultural gap between different groups in our society.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 11:45 AM

Some of you may find that unbelievable, some may not. I'm not a musician, merely a member of the audience, and therefore I look at things from an entirely different perspective to some

(I seem to be disagreeing with Ralph a bit here but...)

Lizzie, many occupy both positions. Some may be professional performers and listeners. Others may be found hiding in sessions, singarounds and be listeners. Some may even be found performing, "hiding" say in a session and listeners! The positions need not be exclusive, nor should your position as just a listener be taken to mean someone who sings and plays might not have also have a lister perspective... it's quite possible it was being a listener that inspired them to learn the other bits.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Zen
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 11:52 AM

The Statesiders must be having a good old chuckle at all this Brit class obsession stuff...

Zen


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 11:57 AM

Hi Guest Jon.
Nicely put.
Yes, I'm a performer, I'm also a listener.
I do not judge others.
Our music is actually classless.
But, it doesn't make it anodine.
And, thought and research is vital to move it on.
Thanks R


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Will Fly, out gigging
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 12:19 PM

Librarians - always causing trouble - John Conolly, June Tabor, the list goes on.......

And on - adsum!


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 12:34 PM

Librarians.....Scum of the Earth!!
Thet wouldn't know the right way to sit on a lavatory (copywright. Mr Bean!)


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 12:38 PM

The Librarian's Song


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 12:54 PM

The whole point of most folksongs is to shake to shake your fist at an indifferent God and a cruel world. okay there are love songs also.

But if you can write a letter to your MP. Even better phone the MP up, because you were at Eton together. have your love poetry published by Faber and Faber and get it discussed on BBC's front row - you don't really need folksongs.

Not like the people who made them did.

Not like the people who will be out there somewhere making them now - without an arts council grant, an album deal and a decent agent putting the tour together.

Class concious.....moi?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: PoppaGator
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 12:59 PM

During past centuries, when most "traditional" folk songs first appeared, today's class structure simply didn't exist. Yes, sure, there were class distinctions then as there are now, but society as a whole was quite different.

Prior to the mid 19th century, the "average" person, or "most people," lived in small agricultural communities. There was not such thing as a proletariat, or true "working class," in those days. A peasant is not exactly the same thing as an industrial worker ~ they're exploited by the ruling minority in entirely different manners.

In the 21st century, the average person works for a business of some sort, more or less as a "wage slave," whether one's emploper is a huge faceless corporation, a friendly mon-and-pop small business, or even one's own sole-propietorship (in which case, your clients can become your demanding and unreasonable "bosses."). Because most of our jobs are "white collar" office jobs with no heavy lifting, we all tend to think of ourselves as "middle class," even though our paycheck-to-paycheck existence may be very financially precarious.

It is undoubtedly true that Britain is more "class-obsessed" than the US, with a much deeper psychological involvement in an age-old class system.

In the US, everyone sees themselves as "middle class," but there are gigantic differences between the "lower-middle-class" person who has to think twice about spending every penny, and the "upper-middle-class" guy who can charge anything at any time on one of a dozen plastic cards, who can buy each of his kids a new car on the day they become old enough to drive, etc.

In both societies, however ~ indeed, in ALL current-day societies ~ our ideas about social and economic "class" are obsolete, and getting moreso everyday.

One of the above comments pretty much sums up the real issue: if a person has led an overprivileged life and has no experience of oppression, injustice, etc., that person is ill-equipped to sing much of our traditional repertoire with much genuine expressiveness. However, the ways in which a person can acquire an adequate "school-of-hard-knocks" education are quite different now from what they have been in the past.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Will Fly, out gigging
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 01:00 PM

Ralphie - you wouldn't, by any chance, be telling us all about Lucy Broadwood in Lewes very shortly, would you?

I shall put on my best librarian's specs, wear a skirt from Laura Ashley and have my hair done up in a bun. And when you start to speak, I'll do a loud "Shhh!" (Mind you, I'll have to shave the beard off).

Anything for a bit of attention... :-)


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 01:12 PM

A former regional funding body worker told me that the take-up of grants for tradarts-related activity was far lower than that for film, theatre and multimedia for one very startling reason: the "f*lkies" were by and large incapable of compiling a coherent application even when told, monosyllabically, how to go about it.

There are, on the other hand, those artists who produce their own CDs, handle their own publicity and admin, put in the effort to set up their own tours and are respected the length and breadth of the land for their commitment and musicianship.

Can't help thinking this is a microcosm of what might be viewed as the lower orders of society: the feckless workshy versus the hardworking artisan.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 01:14 PM

"Tell you what, the day Cecil Sharp House puts on a Seth Lakeman and Show of Hands gig ... "

Do I detect a 'school girl' crush on Mr Lakeman, Lizzie? Is this what your incessant ranting is all about? Could it be that you have encountered a few people who don't happen to share your 'pash'? Poor Seth, that's all I can say!


Er....Shimrod, what makes you say that? I've had that thrown at me many a time, it doesn't work. I don't fancy Seth Lakeman, I'm 53 and old enough to his Mummy. I do however have a passion for his *music* because I love the driving beat of it. I also love the way that young people love his music too, and the way in which so many of them are starting to discover folk music *because* of Seth.

Likewise with Show of Hands. And nope I don't fancy them either, not that they *aren't* fanciable, 'cos they are, but that is not and never has been why I like their music...and indeed the first time I ever heard them I couldn't even see them. They too though have brought in thousands to folk music.

As I said, the day those who run Cecil Sharp House choose to let down their intellectual barriers and hobnob with the likes of us common Seth and SoH fans, no longer deeming themselves above the riff raff, then and only then will I feel that the locks and keys around 'their' music have been thrown away forever.

Ooh, and when Seth and Eliza are singing together, and whooping it up at Cecil Sharpy House, have Reg Meuross and Martin Carthy up there as well, because they went down a storm at Sidmouth. Reg being the New Tradition, Martin the Old, but open to the New...

I'm not interested in snotty folk who think they're better than others, or who think they are more deserving to love the music purely because they have studied it. What a loads of old cobblers!

From Ralph:
Quote Fom Lizzie

"I have no desire to 'study' the songs"

Anyone want to add anything???
Mmmm Didn't think so....


Yup, *exactly* the attitude I've been talking about.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 01:32 PM

A significant number of folk songs are too well crafted to have been penned by the unschooled. Frequently, those who were educated were better equipped to advocate for people in need than the needy themselves. Given a social conscience, they did so in song and story. Dickens, to cite one example, was such an advocate in that he depicted the lives of the poor in such a way as to awaken a sense of social responsibility in his day.

A significant portion of what we think of as folk music in the U.S. emerged or re-emerged out of the crucible of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, and Socialism and the labor movement were both seen by many as a solution to the ills that surrounded and harmed them. Woodie Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Josh White and many others were of that time and had a ready audience. Much of that music, especially the blues, came from uneducated or under-educated people. Much of it was older work, re-discovered. But, a significant contribution came from writers and performers whose work was underwritten by Roosevelt's "New Deal" support of the arts during that time. The result was what mattered, not the social standing of the artist.

Folk songs speak for themselves, no matter their origins. They have no "class." We assign this standing based on how we view them through our diminuitive personal prisms.

Then, there is the pure entertainment or amusement factor. A huge amount of music, literature and theatre exists mainly to divert attention from daily sufferings and anxieties for a time. That need is as old as communication itself.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 01:34 PM

There was a time when Martin Carthy (among others) would climb through C#'s basement bog window when they couldn't afford the entrance fee even for a singaround. He and Mr Swarbrick, as well as Tim Hart & Maddy Prior, then began to gig and were soon known as duos nationwide. I started working there and lo! who practically moved into the sound library while getting material together for Steeleye Span but Martin, Tim & Maddy. Ashley was already ensconced because Fairport had researched Liege & Lief there.

Studying music really does get you nowhere, doesn't it? Still, Martin needn't worry any more about paying to get in as his daughter's now da management . . .


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 01:34 PM

Kate Rusby can come to...and even bring Ronan Keating, if she wants to. :0) Heck, this is going to be quite a Gig! I think I should be in charge of arranging The New Tradition Gigs...Tom Bliss, he has to come as well, and The Pipers Sons, and Tom Napper..and Duncan McFarlane and his Band, the electric one, because they'll rock the socks off Cecil and Maudie!

Wow, what a gig! Ooh, and Martyn Joseph..the Demon Barbers, and their Roadshow, they can leap and clog and clog and leap, and naked Morris Boysies..and ooh..all sorts of wondrous goings on! They'll be queueing around the block for this gig, just like they do for Seth.

We could ask those Loose Women too, they'll make it rock.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 01:35 PM

Tell you what, the day Cecil Sharp House puts on a Seth Lakeman and Show of Hands gig...

I suspect the majority of venues in the world have never put on a Show of Hands or Seth Lakemnan gig. Does that mean that the majority of venues in the world are repressing folk music?

Out of interest I have sung at C# - In the folk club on a singers night. Along with one or two other people of course:-) There is one thing I could guarantee - If SoH or SL turned up on a singers night they would get as good a chance as anyone else.

Get a grip on reality for heavens sake!

DeG


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 01:42 PM

Anyone can hire one of the halls at C# and put on an event.
What's stopping you?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 01:51 PM

Jim Moray is booked at CSH this season. Hardly a standard bearer for the kinds of values you accuse the society of perpetuating.

Just saying. But don't let the facts get in the way of a good rant.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 01:54 PM

Very good point, Diane. If you don't like the way things are being done, Lizzie, why not become an events promoter? Hire the House, or the venue of your choice. Show the rest of us how it's done.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 02:10 PM

I'm reminded of a very bizarre (or do I mean eclectic?) night at 2 Regents Park Road when a banjo playing friend dragged me down for a session which turned out to be a meeting of the English Old-Timey chaps. Meanwhile, upstairs, Swaddling Folk was in full swing, with some 80s popstar called Tin-Tin as headliner. That's how I got to meet members of St Etienne. Surely even an overgrown teenager from Sidmouth would have found something to like among that.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Art Thieme
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 02:40 PM

Here in the USA, we are constantly informed by politicians pushing the melting pot ideal that America has no classes. So, pardon me for sometimes having noted that the rich get richer here while the poor are poorer as a matter of course. If my noting some blatant realities all around me means that, in this country where posessing posessions is a main obsession, some might say that I am possessed by obsessive obsessiveness, well, so be it.

Personally, I do think the Wobblies had/posessed it right from 1905 on...

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 02:43 PM

Ah, Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy, I presume: early Duran Duran, and in the 80s led The Lilac Time. Surely that's pop culture enough for anyone!

I have hung out in the CSH bar with members of Blur and the Beautiful South. They seemed to find it an accessible and welcoming place.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 02:44 PM

Poppagator's post is very interesting. I would suggest that for UK purposes the separation of classes into the roletariat and the bourgeoisie is insufficient - and he puts his finger on the button.

THe UK has a long- standing history of the aristocracy ruling the peasantry, and teh artisan came late in the day to the equation.

Now there is still an aristocracy, there is still a peasantry although it is scarce, there is an underclass a working class and a middle class as well. Some of the divisions are by wealth and some by behaviour and speech habits.

In the USA, as I understand it, it's very simple, it's a plutocracy.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 02:45 PM

PS - but the origins of folk music are indeed in the peasantry.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 02:52 PM

"Beyond that, as far as I'm aware, music in oral tradition contains works by titled people, works written for wealthier patrons, works by professional entertainers as well as works by many we don't know anything about."
Really? Perhaps you might like to name a few - I always thought that anonymous meant "Of unknown or undeclared source or authorship".
I can almost imagine Ewan MacColl singing "I'm an honest working man, and I drive a Pickfords van".
Why not; for somebody who grew up in 19320s-30s Salford I would have thought a Pickford's Van would have been a luxury.
Sorry Red Max - my "bollocks" wasn't aimed at you particularly - it pre-empted bloody arrogant nonesense like:
"A significant number of folk songs are too well crafted to have been penned by the unschooled."
I'm afraid if feeling a little class-fragile at present, possibly due to the fact that the suggestion that folk music may not have been made by the folk came a little too close to a proposal by a couple of forelock-tuggers that members of the royal family are entitled to indulge in racist abuse.
The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library is the jewel in the crown of EFDSS. Despite this fact, it is underfunded, under-used and under-appreciated (sometimes by EFDSS).
The idea that somebody won't use its facilities because Seth Lakeman can't get a booking at C#House says all that needs to be said about the individual concerned. Persumably she was a regular before Lakeman visitated us - or wouldn't they book Michael Jackson either?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Folkiedave
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 02:59 PM

I think I should be in charge of arranging The New Tradition Gigs.

I was afraid of that.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 03:03 PM

I really don't know what all the fuss is about.I remember going to Sidmouth in 1965,as a 17 year old,and being utterly enthralled at discovering that there was such a thing as the EFDSS,which I joined at the first opportunity.At that time,and for some years afterwards,I was a member of the lowest known order of human existence, ie a Naval Rating ( it was widely held that a Sailor was someone who married a prostitute and dragged her down to his level ),but I was nevertheless gratified to find that the "Folk World " included such luminaries as Cyril Tawney,and,later,Shep Woolley,and others of a similar anti-naval- authority frame of mind.Indeed, their songs , and Irish Rebel Songs,(sadly no longer politically viable),were generally very well received by Higher Authority in that august organisation,viz The Royal Navy-----one of the highlights of my musical career in "Her Majesty's Imperial Navy " was performing in front of a distinguished gathering of brass hats and gold braid (and their Ladies) at the home of the Commander-in-Chief, Far East Fleet, in Singapore,at which event there was much drinking of the Gin and joining-in of the choruses !! My theory has always been that,in a class-dominated environment, (and the Royal Navy was ALWAYS that !! ), it was considered better for those with a real or even just perceived,grievance,to sing about it ,even SHARE it ,in the guise of "entertainment", rather than have it metamorphose into something more serious later on.As for the Army----Well, no soldier of the Peninsular War would ever have dared to call the Duke of Wellington "Old Hookey" to his face, but they could SING it as much as they liked (and they doubtless did ).By and large, it was a good system ,and long may it continue ( as, and if,necessary ).And long may "Folkies" everywhere transcend the barriers, real or imagined, of "Class"----I always have !!!Try it, Lizzie---it's much more fun than moaning about it !


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: bubblyrat
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 03:06 PM

That would be me above, by the way -----forgot to sign in !!(Too much rum for too long ).


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: red max
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 03:47 PM

Thanks for all the responses, some interesting stuff among the regrettable troll-feeding. My question about the working class origin of trad songs was probably a little provocative. After all, who wrote the song is a lot less important than who chose keep on singing it and to pass it on to the next generation.

I would say that in Britain the class structure is something that fascinates us more than it restricts us. I do think that a lot of attitudes on the working/middle class divide are based on rather vague and perhaps outdated concepts of what the terms mean. Jim has mentioned that he's an electrician. Is that a lower class occupation? I'd say decidedly not: it's highly skilled and a good living can be made. The idea that white collar jobs are middle class is surely no longer valid. Wouldn't a job in a call centre be the modern example of the lower class occupation? They're not horny-handed sons of toil, but they presumably can appreciate a song of a downtrodden collier just as much as a plumber or plasterer.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 03:54 PM

I always thought that anonymous meant "Of unknown or undeclared source or authorship".

That sounds reasonable to me but I was not aware "anonymous" was a criteria for songs or tunes getting into oral traditions. Are you explaining to me that if, I don't know Planxty Irwin, had been passed down from my great grandfather to my grandfather and you recorded it as learned from my father and we later learn it was written by Carolan that the tune wouldn't have entered an oral tradition after all?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 04:04 PM

I think I should be in charge of arranging The New Tradition Gigs.

I was afraid of that.


LOL


Course, we'd have to invite...Shirley and The Albions and Ashley would have to do a solo piece..and then we could all sit around and have some Adventures in the Tradition

Yes, I think it's all starting to come together..


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: theleveller
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 04:07 PM

"During past centuries, when most "traditional" folk songs first appeared, today's class structure simply didn't exist. Yes, sure, there were class distinctions then as there are now, but society as a whole was quite different.

Prior to the mid 19th century, the "average" person, or "most people," lived in small agricultural communities. There was not such thing as a proletariat, or true "working class," in those days. A peasant is not exactly the same thing as an industrial worker ~ they're exploited by the ruling minority in entirely different manners"

It was certainly different - divisions were even more brutal and extreme, especially after the Enclosure Acts when the number of capital crimes was extended to even the most minor offence. As far back as 1381 the Peasants' Revolt sought to abolish serfdom - and almost, but not quite, succeeded. Similarly, the Civil War and the Commonwealth temporarily abolished that bastion of the class system, the monarchy.

To see how popular song and theatre reflected the opinions and conditions of the 'voiceless' and uneducated majority in the 17th and 18th century, read Christopher Hill's 'Liberty Against the Law'.

There's little doubt that the Edwardian folk song collectors were from the middle classes and were seeking to protect the songs from the 'mis-use' by the very people they were collecting from. In 1907, Sharp declared 'In less than a decade, English folk singing will be extinct. I have learned that it is, as a rule, only a waste of time to call upon singers under the age of sixty. Their songs are nearly all modern: if, by chance, they happen to sing an old one, it is so infected with modern spirit that it is hardly worth the gathering.' Sharp's definition of 'the folk' is 'those whose mental development has been due not to any formal system of training or education, but solely due to environment, communal association, and direct contact with the ups and downs of life.' So, you could say, class has been an obsession amongst folk afficionados for quite some time.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 04:15 PM

There's little doubt that the Edwardian folk song collectors were from the middle classes and were seeking to protect the songs from the 'mis-use' by the very people they were collecting from

You mean collecting them prevented the sources from singing them as-is and/or took away their rights to pass them down as-is to their friends and family?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 04:20 PM

Anyway, time I left here again. I only came over because of Mudcat related problems on another site and now use my Laptop to access here as I blocked it from my desktop PC. I'm beginning to remember why I took this action.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 04:34 PM

"Shirley and The Albions and Ashley would have to do a solo piece.."

*sigh*

Good luck with that.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 04:53 PM

Couple of thoughts, re some posts I have read in this thread.
The income gap was mentioned, i.e., the disparity between the rich and the poor.
I would just like to point out that this has nothing to do with class whatsoever, and there are as many poor people all through the social spectrum. With the largest constituent being old age pensioners. of all classes.
WLD made a comment about the old school tie aspect of the upper classes [sic]. I would respectfully remind him, and others, that we all pull strings if we can, to get influence in life. Be it a parking space, or a gig, or even, perish the thought' a discount on goods or services.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 06:53 PM

I can never read anything about Ashley Hutchins without remembering seeing him dancing with Kathy LeSurf (sp?) at Fylde FF. Hhe was a bit taller than him and wearing a very low cut frock. As his head got closer to her breast it looked like she had three boobs...

DeG
(Who is as folicaly challenged as Mr H:-) )


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Surreysinger
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 07:13 PM

"Shirley and The Albions and Ashley would have to do a solo piece.."
Ruth, I can only echo your sigh ,as luck would clearly not enter into it all ... a total non-starter if ever there was one!!!! just shows how little LC knows about more recent folk history as well ?

Leveller - methinks you either jest or are deliberately trying to stir things up!!
"There's little doubt that the Edwardian folk song collectors were from the middle classes and were seeking to protect the songs from the 'mis-use' by the very people they were collecting from"
There's every doubt in the world about that ... they were actually seeking to preserve the songs from extinction, as in their perception the singers who were the guardians and repositories of the items in question were ageing and dying out. Some of them also had the idea that these tunes could be used to form the basis of "English music" ... Sharp being one of those ... but to actually "protect" the songs from those who were singing them ... a bit far fetched, methinks!

As to the quotes from Sharp, I think you'll find that he changed his mind more than once on his definitions of what folksong and "the folk" were ... depending on his current theory of the moment.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Howard Jones
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 07:16 PM

Whatever the relevance of class in society as a whole (and entire theses have and are no doubt still being written on this), and whatever the origins of folk music itself, the modern folk scene is more or less classless.

When I go to a folk event I find am mixing with people from all sorts of different backgrounds. In most cases, it is impossible to tell which, since people tend to dress down, and these days accent is not as dependable indication of class as it once was. Then there is the further complication that some people who to an observer might appear from their profession and lifestyle to be middle class nevertheless may choose to describe themselves as working class, while some from a middle class background may choose to present themselves as working class. Usually, the only clue is the cars in the carpark (but wealth isn't necessarily an indication of class, so even that isn't reliable).

More to the point, it doesn't matter. We are all united in our love of the music.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 07:31 PM

Costumes have always been with us in the folk song genre. Whether it was Dylan, a middle class kid who donned down-at-the-heels garb as part of his persona or or the middle class boys and girls I used to know in coffee houses in the 1950's who favored work clothing, fatigues, Bolshevik attire, peasant blouses, etc., etc., to show their "solidarity" with the disadvantaged. I suppose if their was not an awareness of "class," none of this would have made any sense - maybe it doesn't make sense anyway.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 08:59 PM

Is this a competition to find the most unlikely billing on the Kennedy stage?
Shirley Collins + the Albions has all the hallmarks of a particularly gruesome horror film.
Why not add a Mr Fox reunion as support?
And Ewan MacColl + Alex Campbell as a duo doing First Time Ever?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 20 Jan 09 - 09:38 PM

Don't economists thesedays use terms like C and D instead of the class terms we use coloquially? No wonder!

Traditional class labels should really be explained by the user so we know where we have common ground. Trouble is you're into writing a college essay before you make your point. Doesn't the lower-middle/upper-middle and the "somewhere-in-the-middle-middle class" example from a US contributor highlight the necessity?

As I remember, one of best the academic definitions sees those who have to sell their Labour as working class; those who live off that Labour are the exploiting class. Grey areas arise not least because since the early days of capitalism when things were simple, working class people have been encouraged/forced to own shares as well as being wage slaves, so have two hats to wear - just like the Listener who is a Singer in the folk club!

But I suggest that they are indeed utilising two hats (which hat is biggest? worn most? if you want to put someone on one side or other or the fence..... headaches!) rather than there being no such thing as hats - as some want us to believe.

However - point taken when you're a group of people in a folk club enjoying the music. I heard contributions last folk club from active members of four different (British) political parties.

Lots of other interesting point in this thread - will take a further look shortly.


Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 03:08 AM

"After all, who wrote the song is a lot less important than who chose keep on singing it and to pass it on to the next generation."
This is something that can't be repeated enough.
"I was not aware "anonymous" was a criteria for songs or tunes getting into oral traditions"
That is true Jon; there are exceptions, particularly in Ireland, but it's worth remembering that Carolan's music does not seem to have been played continuously since it was composed (not by the folk anyway) but owes its present popularity to Donal O'Sullivan's 'Carolan; The Life, Times and Music of an Irish Harper' (published 1958).
I spent about a year in Manchester Central Library poring over microfilm copies of the 19th century 'Reform' newspapers which included columns of political songs; forget the titles, but seem to remember 'Black Dwarf' was among them. It's interesting to compare the somewhat turgid style of composition with the traditional songs of the period.
The same goes for the small collection of miners songs in Liverpool's Picton Library.
We were lucky while working with Irish Travellers to have witnessed a living tradition (for a short period anyway - until they all got portable televisions). There, new songs were being made regularly and sucked into the community. One of the common features of these was that despite the fact that some of them had been made within a few years of our recording them, nobody could remember who made them. Anonymity seemed to be a common feature and authorship did not seem important.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: theleveller
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 03:19 AM

"Leveller - methinks you either jest or are deliberately trying to stir things up!!"

Why would you think that? I'm simply stating Sharp's own words. Why are you trying to reinterpret what he said to fit in with your own ideas? In actual fact, Sharp, and other collectors were more interested in the tunes than the words. Perhaps you should go back and read what Sharp wrote before shooting the messenger.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Surreysinger
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 04:33 AM

Errrmm ... I haven't actually tried to interpret Sharp in any way .... I was more interested in the sentence before the Sharp quote. More than one of the collectors actually saw their job as to collect the tunes and the words as an integral whole ... on the same lines as John Broadwood had adopted in his work of 1847. Some others, such as Vaughan Williams initially focused their attention on the tunes ... although even he later saw the error of his ways, and tried to retrace his steps to glean the words which should have been married to the tunes he had earlier collected. They were not all clone copies of Sharp!! Can't develop this, as I have to rush to catch a train!!


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 04:34 AM

"Sharp, and other collectors were more interested in the tunes than the words."

This is much more true of some collectors than others.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 04:51 AM

""After all, who wrote the song is a lot less important than who chose keep on singing it and to pass it on to the next generation."
This is something that can't be repeated enough."

I find this couplet more puzzling than anything I've encountered in the world of folk.

Is this a majority view, I wonder? And if so, is this because 'users' of songs radically outnumber the creators of songs, or because creativity is genuinely of less value than presentation?

If so, can one also say that Mozart is 'a lot less important' than Rattle, or Shakespeare than Hall, or Blake than Tate (great exhibition in Liverpool at the moment by the way)?

I'm perfectly happy to concede that for cultural and educational reasons in times past, and for other reasons still in certain communities, writers were and remain content to waive their 'natural copyright' (let's not get into a debate about the term - you know what I mean) without thought or care. But in society in general, original work remains at least morally attached to its creator.

But maybe music is different. Maybe the singer IS more important than the song.

So so, where does one draw a line? Is it only with Folk Songs (as in the 54, in this case)? If so, the definition being retrospective, where does the moral change occur?

I would say that both the writer and the subsequent interpreter/transmitter is important, but I'd value those in different ways. I would not put one above the other, but rather recognise each for his contribution, in each context.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: theleveller
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 04:53 AM

That's more like it - a debate, not "trying to stir things up". What we are discussing is the class issue of middle-class collectors protecting (alright 'preserving', if you prefer) folk music from an 'unlettered' (Sharp's word) lower class who were starting to bring the influences of popular culture (especially the music halls) into their traditional music. I make no comment as to whether this was a good or a bad thing - simply illustrating that "class" has been an issue in folk music long before the second folk revival.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 04:53 AM

For the sake of scoring the 100, I'll point out that Prof F J Child didn't give a toss about the tunes, only the words. It took Mr Bronson to come along to match them up (and Andy Irvine and others to mix them up).


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: wyrdolafr
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 04:55 AM

I wasn't aware of 'class' or how it could be an issue until I went to grammar school in 1979. It was an eye-opener and it made the next 5 years of my life quite difficult at times.

red max wrote: Surely "working class" is just the more polite replacement for "lower class"?

I agree with this. I'm not sure when the phrase 'working class' first came to popular usage, but I'd be interested in how and when (why?).

What makes me middle class? Is it about money?

Money can be a factor but it's certainly not the 'decider'. Think of attitudes towards the 'nouveau riche': - often money isn't enough in itself.

Bernard wrote: The Local Authority 'Music Advisor' at the time believed that there was no point in providing loan instruments for children from poorer families because they could not afford to buy an instrument if the child showed promise.

Something similar happened to me. At my grammar school, I was told that there was no use taking music as an option because I couldn't afford to own an instrument; the school simply didn't provide instruments even on a loan basis. It wasn't an issue for the vast majority of students, but for a few like me it was a 'make or break' situation. I've just read Marje's follow-on comment and that certainly reflects my own experience, albeit mine was a long time ago now.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 05:00 AM

well, thankyou for providing me with much mirth.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 05:05 AM

Can I mention Mr Williams mighty tome. "Folk songs of the Upper Thames"

Loadsa songs, Nairy a tune amongst them...
Was he right? Don't know actually. Never met him.
It's all just collecting. He chose to do it his way. And apparently gave no notice as to the tunes!
Maybe he was wrong, but, glad that he wanted the poetry.

I'm with Tom.
Quote.

"I would say that both the writer and the subsequent interpreter/transmitter is important, but I'd value those in different ways. I would not put one above the other, but rather recognise each for his contribution, in each context."

Well said.

As to Class. Is it that important as to who does what?
What is Class anyway?
Does anybody really care anymore?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 05:19 AM

"Ruth, I can only echo your sigh ,as luck would clearly not enter into it all ... a total non-starter if ever there was one!!!! just shows how little LC knows about more recent folk history as well ?"


Er...it *is* a virtual gig, you know. I know all about Shirley and The Albions, et al. No need to worry your knickers off.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 05:21 AM

I dare say we shouldn't care, Ralphie, but this thread at least is indicative that not a few people in the UK care - and care a great deal.

My son-in-law claims to be "working class", but does not see the anomaly of having been to University, and now working for one of the few remaining merchant banks [and that ISN'T rhyming slang !! :-)].

After all, we all shit, don't we ?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Banjiman
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 05:22 AM

I've been told I've got no class....... is that relevant?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: wyrdolafr
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 05:24 AM

Guest, Ralphie wrote: Does anybody really care anymore?

I think so. It's changed over the years though. A lack of manufacturing industry &c. and therefore a lack of 'traditional' working/lower-class job has meant fields of employment have changed and can't used as the indicator it might have once been.

However, I think under-lying attitudes still remain. Over the last month or so, I've seen a few news pieces on how the 'middle-classes' are now having to 'slum it' in cheap(er) supermarkets and use charity-shops.

Granted, this Daily Mail column is a fluff piece - and possibly some of it is in jest - but I think some of the sneering is genuine.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Howard Jones
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 05:39 AM

"one of best the academic definitions sees those who have to sell their Labour as working class; those who live off that Labour are the exploiting class"

It's a simple polarity, but it doesn't reflect how most people view class. Most middle-class people, including many with professional qualifications such as lawyers, accountants, surveyors, architects, engineers etc, are employees, wage slaves who are no less vulnerable to being sacked, exploited or generally buggered about than the horny-handed sons of toil on the shop floor. By this definition that makes them "working class". Oh, and most didn't go to Eton and aren't on funny-handshake terms with their MP, as WLD seems to think.

On the other hand the solidly working-class plumber or joiner who runs a small business and employs one or two people is by this definition one of the "exploiting class", just like the man, the very fat man, who waters the workers' beer.

Nowadays there is a huge overlap in income between working class and middle class, and likewise an overlap in lifestyle - many working class people now own a house, a car, the latest HD telly, dress smartly and take foreign holidays. The distinctions have become blurred, which is why sociologists have such difficulty categorising society and politicians have such trouble trying to identify their natural supporters.

None of which has anything to do with music.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: red max
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 05:40 AM

Ralphie, I'm almost certain that Alfred Williams would not have been able to note music, it's not a skill that all of us possess. Whether or not he felt the tunes were important I don't know.

The one time in my life when I've been made aware of my social status was when I was a student and did some grouse beating in the summer. It was quite obvious that the shooters were well-heeled and wealthy types, and at lunchtime their picnics were extremely lavish affairs while we oiks supped brown ale from bottles in a separate room in the lodge. The thing is, though, that every shooter who ever spoke to me was extremely polite and friendly, and seemed acutely embarrassed by the perceived difference in status between us. Perhaps a key difference was the attitude of Lord Whats-his-name who was an arrogant, braying prick, and his son, who was painfully nice and friendly. I got the distinct impression that the class division was a source of discomfort for many there and was clearly on the wane.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 06:05 AM

'Class' is used for hatred, by all sides. It is beyond me why anyone wants to keep this system of hatred and division alive.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 06:14 AM

It is beyond me why anyone wants to keep alive the capitalist system.
No. I lie. I know very well why the upper echelons want to keep the proletariat (however disguised) under control.
Socisl conflict is necessary to effect polical, economic and social change.
And it gives rise to great music.
Whatever will be do after the advent of utopian socialism?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 06:39 AM

"Most middle-class people, including many with professional qualifications such as lawyers, accountants, surveyors, architects, engineers etc, are employees, wage slaves who are no less vulnerable to being sacked, exploited or generally buggered about than the horny-handed sons of toil on the shop floor."

Mr Jones 'hits-the-nail-on-the-head' here. And don't forget that many people from 'traditional' working class families took advantage of a brief window of opportunity, and increased social mobility, between the mid-60s and the fateful year of 1979 (when Maggie came to power), and became 'middle class' professionals.

Unfortunately, those steeped in political ideology can rarely see any shades of grey - so we still get the term 'middle class' thrown around as an insult.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 06:46 AM

Mr Max....
Yes it is a conundrum I admit.
Have played many a gig for the "Well Heeled"!
And, mainly been treated very nicely, thank you.
Yes. there have been times when I was viewed as an interesting exhibit in a zoo.
("Is that an accordeon?"....No, It's an Effing Concertina, Invented by Charles Wheatstone....."Oh Like in the "Who" song Mammas got a squeeze box....Chortle, Chortle!". No Sir Charles Wheatstone was one of the foremost scientists of the 19th century...He made a Bridge. You might have heard of it in your physics lessons....Normally shuts them up. "My God, an Oik who can spell, whatever next")
But, by and large, the Nobs have been quite polite....
Little did they know.....
I'm going to bring down the forces of "Albion" any day soon.
Mind You...The Toffs pay quite well, at least they used too)
Class is in the ability to perform, not how much you have in the bank.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: wyrdolafr
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 06:53 AM

Guest, Shimrod wrote: "And don't forget that many people from 'traditional' working class families took advantage of a brief window of opportunity, and increased social mobility, between the mid-60s and the fateful year of 1979 (when Maggie came to power), and became 'middle class' professionals."

Brief is perhaps a keyword there. Since then, social mobility has declined as has the extremes of relative poverty and affluence. What about the people before and after that window?

I'm surprised no-one has mentioned this classic from the Frost Report yet.

Cleese: "I look down on him because I am upper class."
Barker: (looking up) "I look up to him because he is upper class," (looking down) "but I look down to him because he is lower class." (looking straight) "I am middle class."
Corbett: "I know my place."
Cleese: (looking down) "I get a feeling of superiority over them."
Barker: (looking up) "I get a feeling of inferiority from him but a (looking down) feeling of superiority over him."
Corbett: (looking up) "I get a pain in the back of my neck."


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: red max
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 06:53 AM

I don't know if this helps add some shade to the distinction, but the National Readership Survey's social grading categories at least attempt to address the complexity. See if you can pigeonhole yourself!

A. Upper Middle Class: Higher managerial, administrative or professional.

B. Middle Class: Intermediate managerial, administrative or professional.

C1. Lower Middle Class: Supervisory or clerical and junior managerial, administrative or professional.

C2. Skilled Working Class: Skilled manual workers.

D. Working Class: Semi and unskilled manual workers.

E. [Untitled]: Those at the lowest levels of subsistence, casual or lowest grade workers, pensioners and others who depend on the state for their income.

I think "E" is the "underclass", but they're too courteous to use the term.

I appreciate that this is all quite tiresome for many, but I like categories, that's why I'm a librarian. And as such I've been intrigued to read on more than one occasion that folk song is a product of the working class which has been adopted by teachers, librarians, etc. who have no natural connection with the songs because they're "middle class". I think that's unfair and inaccurate.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Stu
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 06:57 AM

As a marxist I am all for the abolition of the class system, but it's kept alive by those with a vested interest. As a sole trader I own the means of my own production therefore qualify as classless as I am not a member of the exploited working class or a member of the bourgeois middle classes who own the means of production and then employ others to do the work.

Folk music is generally classless these days but many songs have a political or social bent to them and these do seem to come form a working class viewpoint.

Howard - it's me, stigweard as was! Hope to see you for a tune on Friday!


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: theleveller
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 07:01 AM

I'm with Oscar - "Work is the curse of the drinking class".


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 07:05 AM

Hey Mr Max.
As a retired PA/Broadcast Engineer,(and a rubbish concertina player) where do I fit?
C2 perhaps?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 07:06 AM

Leveller.
Yep!
Cheers!


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: wyrdolafr
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 07:18 AM

red max wrote: I don't know if this helps add some shade to the distinction, but the National Readership Survey's social grading categories at least attempt to address the complexity. See if you can pigeonhole yourself!

What's interesting in this is that whilst it moves away from a 'black and white' upper/middle/working class system, I think there's still an interesting issue regarding 'skilled and unskilled working class'. There still seems to be an element of the old system. No matter how much some of them might earn as sparkies and plumbers, they're always going to be 'tradesmen'.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: red max
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 07:19 AM

Ralphie, I reckon it's probably easier to categorise people by the newspaper they read. If I can quote the late, lamented Jim Hacker:

"The Daily Mirror is read by the people who think they run the country. The Times is read by the people who DO run the country. The Guardian is read by the people who think they ought to run the country. The Daily Mail is read by the wives of the people who run the country. The Financial Times is read by the people who own the country. The Morning Star is read by the people who think the country ought to be run by another country. And The Daily Telegraph is read by the people who think it is"

Sir Humphrey: "And what about the Sun?"

Bernard: "The Sun's readers don't care who runs the country, as long as she's got big tits"


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Stu
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 07:25 AM

"Work is the curse of the drinking class"

At last, something I can put on my tombstone.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: oggie
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 07:29 AM

"As a sole trader I own the means of my own production therefore qualify as classless as I am not a member of the exploited working class or a member of the bourgeois middle classes who own the means of production and then employ others to do the work."

I think in Marxist terms you're one of the petite bourgeoisie which means that you (like me) get screwed by everyone.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 07:34 AM

Mr Max...
Well Done!!!
Have just dug out the DVD (How Borgeoise is that!) To watch that episode again.
Class? Schmlass!!


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 07:44 AM

Usual nonsence of course, the obligatory "born and bred in a 1 up 1 down in Worksop and proud of my working class roots, my Dad and Grandad were miners and proud of it" syndrome.

That is all such old hat now.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: melodeonboy
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 07:59 AM

And would that be flat cap, trilby or top hat?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 08:02 AM

Come on Lizzie....Words of wisdom required, before Mr 3 Legs goes bang...


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 08:05 AM

I don't understand what you mean, Ralph. Clarificaton please, without insult, if possible.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: red max
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 08:41 AM

Howard said: "Nowadays there is a huge overlap in income between working class and middle class, and likewise an overlap in lifestyle - many working class people now own a house, a car, the latest HD telly, dress smartly and take foreign holidays. The distinctions have become blurred, which is why sociologists have such difficulty categorising society and politicians have such trouble trying to identify their natural supporters."

Exactly! There simply isn't a neatly definable division between so-called working and middle class social groups. Is it any wonder that political parties are desperately clawing for the centre ground? They know that the age of lifelong Labour or Tory voters is almost finished.

Jack wrote "As a marxist I am all for the abolition of the class system, but it's kept alive by those with a vested interest"

And "those with a vested interest" would be almost all of us, to some extent. Or do we really believe that invisible fingers mould palaces of gold?

Pecking orders are just a fact of life, aren't they? Not necessarily the malign ones of yore that kept oiks in their place; just look at the folk scene. It's admirable that guest singers are so approachable and don't put on airs, but I've met so many floor & resident singers/musicians who have an extremely strong view about their own talent and about the relative ability of their peers. It has genuinely surprised me when otherwise affable folkies become positively vitriolic about others "getting above themselves".


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 08:53 AM

do we really believe that invisible fingers mould palaces of gold?

They would if the sons of company directors and judges private daughters had to go to school in a slum school . . .

Not only that but buttons would be pressed, rules would be broken, strings would be pulled and magic words spoken.

As Leon Rosselson wrote 40 years ago.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 08:59 AM

"It has genuinely surprised me when otherwise affable folkies become positively vitriolic about others "getting above themselves".

Yup. I think it's maybe due to 'bitterness' though, rather than 'class' Could be wrong, of course... :0)


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: red max
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 09:07 AM

And of course it was a very good song, especially as it included the line "I'm not suggesting there's any kind of a plot, everyone knows there's not". Or something like that.

Like you say, though, it was written 40 years ago and the social landscape of Britain has changed a little since then. Sure, there's still privilege and inequality, but the divisions of class and the restrictions in social mobility aren't the same.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 09:48 AM

In the immortal words of Jim Carroll (supra) :

:-)


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 01:16 PM

Sorry to go back to an earlier part of this thread and someone (they always do thank goodness) will correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that The VW Memorial Library was a separate entity from Cecil S House. I believe that it has its own small budgets and occasionally receives bequests to further its excellent work. In Malcolm Taylor it has quite simply a wonderfully supportive 'main man' ably supported by Peta Webb and others. I have always found it to be a fantastic resource for anyone who wishes to have access to it. Please excuse the ramble and if I've misinterpreted a posting, forgive me, but the Library needs support from any right (or left) minded folk person, scholar or citizen - in any other country it would receive generous funding from government. Oh yes, class...today it's all about money isn't it?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 01:18 PM

Didn't mean to post as Guest.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 01:27 PM

While the EFDSS is the main source of funding, I think "quasi-autonomous" might be nearer the mark. There's a potted history in the VWML link I gave earlier in which it is explained:

Funding

VWML is funded and maintained by the English Folk Dance and Song Society, with additional support from the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust, the National Folk Music Fund and many individual members and clubs. If you would like to help develop and promote the work of the Library you could:

join the EFDSS, finance a project, publication or event*, buy a book or sound recording, donate or bequeath funds or material to the Library*, donate or bequeath funds to the National Folk Music Fund*.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,Jon Dudley
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 02:24 PM

Thanks. Mine was clearly a case of a hope rather than a fact.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 02:45 PM

There's a highly complicated constitutional technicality which boils down to the library being unable to leave the premises for what (for many) would be democratic move out of London to a cheaper and more suitable location elsewhere. This arose out of shenanigans enacted by the faction so enamoured of a building that resembles a telephone exchange that stands on an amazingly valuable plot of land that they have managed to prevent its sale.

Perhaps someone who actually understands the legal situation could explain more adequately.


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 02:59 PM

Tom Bliss
"After all, who wrote the song is a lot less important than who chose keep on singing it and to pass it on to the next generation."
"I find this couplet more puzzling than anything I've encountered in the world of folk."
I assume that as this thread is aimed at 'folkies' we are talking about folk songs which are almost universally anonymous and have passed through a process which have earned them their spurs as 'folk'. Nobody would begrudge you recognition nor remuneration for songs you have composed; the fact that you have attached your name to them, makes them yours. What is difficult to understand that songs which have passed through so many adaptations by so many singers over countess years so that the original composers identity has been forgotten, if it was ever known, belong to either everybody or nobody?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Stringsinger
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 03:16 PM

One of the problems besetting the folk revival(s) is the pseudo-romanticism of a Rousseauian "Noble Savage". It shouldn't be any surprise to any student of folk music or folklore that far from being "noble" many songs contain lyrics that are as violent as any rap song by "gangsta's" today. Just because it's folk, doesn't make it edifying.

It's more apt for poorer people from agrarian cultures or those in a manufacturing community to sing of their problems then it is for the comfortable and well-heeled
but many of the songs we call folksongs were composed or written by those not from this economic class.

In the Thirties and Forties folk music was used by the Left to outline "class struggles" although there was a counter-current in the American rural South that would have been deemed politically incorrect by well-meaning Lefties. Many of these latter folk songs survive.

The "obsession" is something aside from the statistical aspect of folk music which as we understand it does come mostly from those who were denied the advantages of a middle-class education and were at the mercy of merciless politicians and business people who exploited them culturally and economically. This doesn't mean that every folk singer was poor or exploited. Some who have come from humble beginnings have made their way into the annals of scholarship such as Jean Ritchie. Even the legendary Woody Guthrie had middle-class roots at one time in Oklahoma (named after Woodrow Wilson). Pete Seeger was a Harvard drop-out with a middle-class beginning in academic circles.

But the music itself is recognizable not as an emblem of middle or upper class values but as an expression of working class people in its lyric content and reductionist music.
It also has the power to get people to sing along from all economic classes because it contains this expression of social class.

The folkies that are obsessed are like any other group of cultists or faddists.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: Aeola
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 03:20 PM

I wonder if any Folk performer has been referred to as a ' class act!' and if so would he/she sing songs about the working class?


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Subject: RE: Class-obsessed folkies
From: GUEST,doc.tom
Date: 21 Jan 09 - 03:28 PM

I find myself, unusually, in total agreement with Ms. Easby as regards her last post! - Ah, the Playford Underground - now that could link back to class discussion.


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