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What makes it a Folk Song?

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Mr Happy 18 Mar 09 - 12:18 PM
Sooz 18 Mar 09 - 12:24 PM
Richard Bridge 18 Mar 09 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 18 Mar 09 - 01:00 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 18 Mar 09 - 01:09 PM
GUEST,Auldtimer 18 Mar 09 - 01:12 PM
Stringsinger 18 Mar 09 - 01:50 PM
Richard Bridge 18 Mar 09 - 02:30 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 18 Mar 09 - 02:38 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 18 Mar 09 - 02:58 PM
TheSnail 18 Mar 09 - 03:06 PM
Art Thieme 18 Mar 09 - 03:15 PM
Jim Carroll 18 Mar 09 - 03:36 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Mar 09 - 03:58 PM
Bill D 18 Mar 09 - 04:02 PM
Leadfingers 18 Mar 09 - 04:10 PM
John P 18 Mar 09 - 04:18 PM
Alec 18 Mar 09 - 04:37 PM
Don Firth 18 Mar 09 - 06:01 PM
Joybell 18 Mar 09 - 06:03 PM
Gurney 19 Mar 09 - 03:18 AM
Tim Leaning 19 Mar 09 - 03:25 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Mar 09 - 04:17 AM
Mr Happy 19 Mar 09 - 04:24 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Mar 09 - 04:40 AM
Jack Campin 19 Mar 09 - 04:58 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 19 Mar 09 - 04:59 AM
Mr Happy 19 Mar 09 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,Will Fly, on the hoof 19 Mar 09 - 05:15 AM
Mr Happy 19 Mar 09 - 05:16 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Mar 09 - 06:25 AM
Jack Blandiver 19 Mar 09 - 06:52 AM
Jack Campin 19 Mar 09 - 06:57 AM
Sleepy Rosie 19 Mar 09 - 07:29 AM
TheSnail 19 Mar 09 - 07:39 AM
Leadfingers 19 Mar 09 - 07:41 AM
Jack Blandiver 19 Mar 09 - 08:25 AM
Sleepy Rosie 19 Mar 09 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,glueman 19 Mar 09 - 09:33 AM
Jack Blandiver 19 Mar 09 - 09:41 AM
Mr Happy 19 Mar 09 - 09:47 AM
Sleepy Rosie 19 Mar 09 - 11:08 AM
Bill D 19 Mar 09 - 11:47 AM
Mr Happy 19 Mar 09 - 11:57 AM
Rifleman (inactive) 19 Mar 09 - 12:12 PM
Don Firth 19 Mar 09 - 01:43 PM
Bill D 19 Mar 09 - 01:47 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 19 Mar 09 - 01:55 PM
Joe Offer 19 Mar 09 - 02:27 PM
Don Firth 19 Mar 09 - 02:36 PM
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Subject: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 12:18 PM

What makes it a Folk Song?

Age, provenance, endurability, popularity?

As I may쳌fve stated in other threads, in my own opinion, a folk song is any song most ordinary people know & can join in with.

Some쳌fve these may be considered by some to be 쳌epop쳌f rather than folk

But for me, when singing so called 쳌efolk songs쳌f in public, scarcely anyone knows 쳌eem, but when I do stuff from the Eagles, Beatles, Stones, BeeGees, Drifters etc, everybody knows 쳌eem.

Lately a song, which has become popular round my way, is 쳌eBaby can I hold you쳌f [Tracy Chapman]

Ms. Chapman is designated as 쳌econtemporary folk쳌f, so does this mean all her popular compositions are 쳌efolk songs쳌f?

And continuing in the same vein, rock, blues, jazz etc songs and classical tunes in 쳌etuney쳌f sessions [Carolan etc] are all popular in 쳌efolk쳌f events, but are they folk or not?

Up to you?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Sooz
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 12:24 PM

Not necessariy that much to do with the song but rather the interpretation.
Thinking of Dave Burland's version of I don't like Mondays as a good example


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 12:50 PM

Meeting the 1954 definition. It is the only correct test.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 01:00 PM

I made the mistake of posing that query to an older singer circa 1958. His answer? "It's whatever I bloody well say it is!" I have a feeling there are as many definitions as singers, though the 1954 version should offer arbitrary relief.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 01:09 PM

"It's whatever I bloody well say it is!"
now this works for me.
if my performing went according the "1954 definition" the I've never played a "folk song" in my life. ooops! *LOL*
Anyway I plugged in along time ago, and 1954 be damned!


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Auldtimer
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 01:12 PM

Interpretation and intention. Two singers can perform the same song one can be folk and the other not. Even when the song is generaly though as being a folk song, even when the singer is/is not thought of as Folk. I despair at so much of what is being recorded and promoted as folk music, a CD containing a selection from the book of Forty-Fabulous-F'ing-Folk-Faviourites, does not make it a folk album.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 01:50 PM

Some songs are promoted commercially so well that everyone knows them. They are not
really folk songs because they are manufactured for the market. That doesn't mean they're not good, it just means that they are intended differently.

A folk song reflects the tradition of a specific community that is not part of the commercial music industry. It is generated from families in a specific (usually isolated) locale and
many of the voices are not trained but retain the musical nuances of the folk style they represent ie: Southern US mountain, field hollers, rural blues, Southern chain gang,
early spirituals, certain songs from Ireland, and the other British Isles, (not usually done by professional entertainers or performers), the same applies to all over the world.

As they say in politics, follow the money. In folk music, follow the tradition.

Frank


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 02:30 PM

Oh blister it. I cannot abide wilful stupidity. Not reading this thread again.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 02:38 PM

I suppose it's only "wilful stupidity" if you ignore the so-called 1954 definition of what is a "folk" song.1954 was 1954, we're now in 2009.
From what I understand this arguement has raged before, it wasn't settled then, and it's unlikely it'll be settled now.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 02:58 PM

"I suppose it's only "wilful stupidity" if you ignore the so-called 1954 definition of what is a "folk" song.1954 was 1954, we're now in 2009."

It occurs to me that the word 'book' means the same today, in 2009, as it did in 1954 - or do we have to re-define every word in the dictionary because most of them were coined in the past? How old does a word or term have to be for it to become out-dated?

Just because 'now', in 2009, you happen to like rock or pop music, 'Rifleman' (and are probably not very keen on folk songs) doesn't automatically turn the music that you like into 'folk music'.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: TheSnail
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 03:06 PM

GUEST,Shimrod

It occurs to me that the word 'book' means the same today, in 2009, as it did in 1954

Wow! I didn't realise the 1954 committee defined the meaning of 'book' as well.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 03:15 PM

STRIPED SHIRTS------3 of 'em usually---on guys. 3 chords only.

And updated lyrics because nobody wants to hear the real stuff anymore.

;-)

;-(

Art


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 03:36 PM

"What makes it a Folk Song?"
A process called 'The Folk Process' - easy as that.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 03:58 PM

As Les Barker perceptively pointed out "It is impossible to experience Deja Vu for the first time"...


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Bill D
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 04:02 PM

If it is old, and hasn't been all folked up, it qualifies.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 04:10 PM

I didnt get involved in Folk Song till 1964 - Could someone please tell exactly what IS the 1954 definition ??
In Search there are Lord Knows how many posts , but all the ones I have looked at merely refer to '!954' !


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: John P
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 04:18 PM

I'm with Jim Carroll on this one.

I don't much care about the instruments being used, the venue, or the mode of delivery. If it comes from the folk process, it's a folk song. Steeleye Span rocking out on a folk song is still doing a folk song. Tracy Chapman singing a self-composed song -- even if the only accompaniment is acoustic -- is still singing a pop song.

There are big differences musically and lyrically, and they are (to me at least) very obvious. "Folk song" and "contemporary acoustic music" are very different genres.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Alec
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 04:37 PM

I'm not familiar with the 1954 definition either but, though perhaps not ideal, the Folkfile entry reads as follows:" folksong, definition few subjects can cause such hot debate among folkies. Everyone knows what a folk song should *sound* like, and what one *shouldn't* sound like, but a firm definition eludes all.

There is a tired and unhelpful homily attributed to both Louis Armstrong and Broonzy, Bill, along the lines that all music is folk music, since horses don't make it. T'ain't so. There *is* such a thing as a folk song. Pinning down the characteristics is the difficulty.

The favorite characteristic would be a song that has filtered through a certain amount of oral tradition and folk process. This shows us what it's made of, as opposed to a modern flash-in-the-pan (as Michael Cooney once wrote, "if some of these [contemporary] songs were to go through the folk process, nothing would come out"). Yet there are many excellent songwriters who can compose in the traditional vein and make you swear that a song composed yesterday is centuries old. Also, we can't dismiss a song simply because it was released on record and simply faded away - this happened to many of the old broadside ballads, but they were revived by collectors to join the folk tradition.

There are certain characteristics, called markers, that define the type of song and let the audience relate it to it (and each other). Many of these are archaic expressions, locales, customs, etc., but their presence is no guarantee of anything. Skilled songwriters who write in the older styles can often fool anyone.

Some feel that the song should be anonymous. Other than the fact that this indicates the song has been in circulation long enough for people to have forgotten the author's name, it isn't really important. "My Grandfather's Clock" would pass inspection as a folk song, but it was written by Work, Henry Clay - the authorship makes no difference at all. The same could be said for many of the songs by Paxton, Tom or Foster, Stephen.

The basic problem is that people want a simple, concise definition for an enormously complicated subject. Not only are there centuries of different types of music packed into folk, but it's an ongoing, living tradition that changes all the time. See moldy figs for a relevant quote from Bronson, Bertrand. Much related information is available in the book "The Study of Folk Music in the Modern World", by Philip V. Bohlman, Indiana University Press, 1988. No Golden Rule emerges, but it does put things concisely into perspective.

Various writers have taken a stab at the definition. Here are the characteristics of folksong listed by "Introducing American Folk Music" (see books). Proving or disproving them is left as an exercise for the reader:

    1. Music that varies over distance but not time.
    2. Music from a specific, identifiable community.
    3. Authorship is generally unknown.
    4. Folksongs are generally passed along by word of mouth.
    5. Folksongs are most often performed by non-professionals.
    6. Short forms and predictable patterns are fundamental.

There may not be an answer. Let it be." I wouldn't treat this as "Holy Writ" but it at least describes the terrain.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 06:01 PM

Been here many times before and I'm bloody-well bored with the usual run of arguments, many of which are little more that whining.

I believe Alec has pretty well summed it up just above.

I find that those who insist that a folk song is any song they say it is either want to stamp themselves—or the songs they have just written—or certain songs they want to sing—with an imprimatur of tradition, longevity, and quality that they haven't earned yet.

Flopping down on the floor, kicking your heels, and screaming in a loud voice that a particular song is a folk song does not make it so.

I'm outta here. Thank you very much.

(Who was that masked man, anyway?)

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Joybell
Date: 18 Mar 09 - 06:03 PM

Alec's 1-6 definitions work well. To put it even more simply:

A folk song is a song that comes out of a folk community.

Today the term has become meaningless. So has the term "folk" in relation to music. It hasn't in the case of "folk art". "Folk dance" still has the old meaning. "Folk culture" still works pretty well. "Folk community" -- that still works except in the case of music.

You only need to take a look at a program from a "Folk Festival" here in Australia to see just how meaningless the term "Folk Music" has become.
Cheers from Joy -- a singer-of-old-very-old-and-extremely-old songs.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Gurney
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 03:18 AM

Folksingers make a folksong. Not necessarily write it. Make it.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 03:25 AM

5. Folksongs are most often performed by non-professionals.
Hmmmm I like that one


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 04:17 AM

This is the 1954 definition as adopted by the International Folk Music Council.
It has nothing to do with personal preferences or tastes, nor how successful or otherwise your club is.
It's what I signed up for when I enlisted back in the early sixties and it has never been replaced by anything resembling a workable alternative (unless you count arm-flapping and "I don't know what folk music is so I won't bother defining it").
It's what you'll find thousands of examples of in folk songs collections, from 'Folk Songs of The Upper Thames, right through to 'The Penguin Book of English/American/Australian/Canadian Folk Songs' and what has been defined, analysed, discussed and reconfirmed at great length and in minute detail in Lloy'ds, 'Folk Song in England', Buchan's 'The Ballad and The Folk', Bartok's 'The Hungarian Folk Song'......... and many other academic and introductory descriptive works.
It is by no means a perfect definition, and might well need adapting, and even re-defining, but until somebody does, it's the one were stuck with.
Jim Carroll
"Folk music is the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission. The factors that shape the tradition are:
    (i) continuity which links the present with the past;
    (ii) variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group;
    (iii) selection by the community, which determines the form or forms in which the music survives.
The term can be applied to music that has been evolved from rudimentary beginnings by a community uninfluenced by popular and art music and it can likewise be applied to music which has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community.
The term does not cover composed popular music that has been taken over ready-made by a community and remains unchanged, for it is the re-fashioning and re-creation of the music by the community that gives it its folk character."


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 04:24 AM

So apart from the arbitrary '1954' thing, no one really knows?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 04:40 AM

By that reasoning, isn't every definition 'arbitrary'?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 04:58 AM

The "1954" definition is not arbitrary - it encapsulates what a lot of people are interested in (for listening to, performing or reading about), and THAT, ultimately, is what you want from such a definition.

I'll give pretty much anybody a listen if they're doing Scottish or related traditional material, and have a look at pretty much any traditional song I find transcribed in a book. Stuff in the Dylanoid idiom is irrelevant to me, leaves me totally cold, and my only interest in it is how to avoid having it inflicted on me. So I support any effort to give *that* an acccurate label too.

But in practice "folk" is now a useless term - you have to look at the details, like the tradition a peeformer saya they come from. Whatever they describe themselves as, if they say their major influence is Jeannie Robertson I know I'll probably like them and if it's Richard Thompson I'll be bored out of my skull.

"Traditional" still has some life left in it.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 04:59 AM

"Wow! I didn't realise the 1954 committee defined the meaning of 'book' as well."

You know what they say about sarcasm, Snail?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 05:10 AM

Jim,

Due to the 'quick off the button phenomenon', your post preceded mine above, so mine looks daft - it wasn't intended that way


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,Will Fly, on the hoof
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 05:15 AM

Whatever they describe themselves as, if they say their major influence is Jeannie Robertson I know I'll probably like them and if it's Richard Thompson I'll be bored out of my skull.

What a sad statement - to have what appears to be a blanket like of one musical genre and a blanket dislike of another. Naturally we all have our likes and dislikes - and we're entitled to them - but I would never totally laud or totally condemn one form of music because I "probably" would or wouldn't like them. I'm not, on the whole, particularly enamoured of rap, hip-hop or grunge (for example), but I have heard things in those genres which have caught my interest or touched a nerve. Jeannie Robertson's work is excellent - and I can't hear Richard and Linda Thompson's "Dimming Of The Day" without profound emotion. Equally, there are some performances of Jeannie Robertson and Richard Thompson I don't care for - but to praise or damn out of hand doesn't make sense to me.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 05:16 AM

Jim,


Also, thanks for the '1954' thing in full

Best to have that clarity, even if imperfect as you allude, than vague references to something unknown by most respondents, inc me.

Cheers


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 06:25 AM

"Due to the 'quick off the button phenomenon', your post preceded mine above, so mine looks daft - it wasn't intended that way"
Never thought for a minute that it was.
"Also, thanks for the '1954' thing in full"
You're welcome.
'Blanket likes and dislikes'
The sooner we learn to seperate likes and dislikes fom definition, the sooner we start having intelligent discusions on this (or any) subject.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 06:52 AM

A Folk Song can be any song sung in a Folk Context, by which I mean a Folk Club, Singaround, Folk Festival, Folk Concert, Folk Party, Ceilidh, Morris Moot, Folk Custom, or any otherwise denominated Folk Event. Such a song need not exclusively be a Folk Song - at other times, and in other contexts, the same song might be something else entirely, a Pop Song for example, or yet a Jazz Standard, or even an Operatic Aria. All of these I have heard sung in Folk Contexts and have, by dint of that context, accepted them as being Folk Songs. So what makes it a Folk Song is the context in which it is being sung.

*

As for the 1954 definition:

Folk music is the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission.

No musical tradition has ever evolved without the process of oral transmission.

The factors that shape the tradition are: (i) continuity which links the present with the past; (ii) variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group; and (iii) selection by the community, which determines the form or forms in which the music survives.

All musical traditions are thus shaped - from Hip-Hop to Free Jazz, from Karaoke to Gamelan, from Drum & Bass to Dub Reggae, from Elvis Impersonators to Crusty Didgeridoo Players, from Trad Jazzers to George Formby Enthusiasts, from Neo-Medievalists to Death Metal Headbangers. This is the very nature of musical tradition, simply to be utterly dependent on the people playing it, who, in being fully conversant with the past are nevertheless re-determining it for both themselves and thus assuring its future survival.   

The term can be applied to music that has been evolved from rudimentary beginnings by a community uninfluenced by popular and art music and it can likewise be applied to music which has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community.

All music has evolved from rudimentary beginnings and I very much doubt there has ever been any such an uninfluenced community except in the twisted fantasies of academics who postulate such bullshit. Otherwise - all music has thus originated and been absorbed and transformed. In the composing of a Pop Song, for example - an idea becomes a composition, which is then further interpreted by a community of arrangers, session players, engineers and producers ever before the finished product hits the shelves. There we have The Folk Process in a nutshell. Was anything ever unwritten? Hell, even The Copper Family sing from a fecking book!   

The term does not cover composed popular music that has been taken over ready-made by a community and remains unchanged, for it is the re-fashioning and re-creation of the music by the community that gives it its folk character.

No music ever remains unchanged, however so conveniently one might qualify the word change; each performance is a renewal within the expectations of its community which are further transfigured by its corporeal & empirical experience. A performance of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas in 2009 will be, out of necessity, very different from a performance of Dido & Aeneas within the same community from 40 years earlier. Ditto a rock band comprised of variously talented 14-year-olds going over Eleanor Rigby in a garage are re-fashioning a music, re-creating it, and giving it its folk-character. Likewise, a Folk Singer adapting Eleanor Rigby to their own needs and abilities for performance at his local Folk Club is effecting a transformation over a given piece of music, thus giving it its Folk Character.   A Karaoke singer singing Eleanor Rigby is doing exactly that too, likewise the worker who whistles the melody of Eleanor Rigby as they go cheerfully about their daily business, or else the schoolboy singing Eleanor Rigby as he walks to school.

So is there much of a difference between the 1954 and Horse definition after all?

As for what makes a Traditional Song, the lines are clearer with respect of a canon of a material collected, recorded, catalogued, cut and dried, sourced and analysed, numbered, indexed, with occasions, performers and variations duly noted. Sometimes Traditional Songs might be sung as Folk Songs, other times they might be sung as Classical Songs, or as Rock Songs, or Wyrd-Folk Songs, or Jazz Songs, or Pop Songs - I often sing them in the context of Free Improvisation (check out Wife of Usher's Well on my Myspace Page). Anything is possible with Traditional Song - but the song, essentially, remains the same. That said, even I get irked when I hear Child #10 sung to the melody of Child #1, but there are times I might sing it with no melody at all...


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 06:57 AM

It's more honest to admit that likes and dislikes are the main point of a definition. If the definition doesn't do anything to tell you whether you'll be interested in what it defines, why have it?

The main thing the "folk" label has done, for me, is to make me totally ignore the bins labelled as "Folk" in record shops. I'm sure there's plenty I'd be interested in somewhere in there, but mixed up with so much I don't care about that I just don't have *time* to wade through the whole lot alphabetically. If there's a "Scottish" or "World" section I'll look there instead.

Jim, I get the impression that you want a specific definition of "folk" to be understood. What do you then want the general public to DO with that definition? How would the world change?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 07:29 AM

It strikes me that language being what it is, the term 'folk song' irrespective of it's 1954 definition, has well and truly evolved in contemporary understanding into something far broader and more inclusive.

And now that it is so completely owned by a more popular understanding, there seems IMO little point in attempting to reclaim it, or preserve whatever integrity it may (?) have once possessed.

If academics want a term that isn't open for evolved reabsorption into the language, probably better to utilise a far less ambienced word than 'folk' for starters, preferably one with lots of unfriendly syllables, and a very stingy amount of entries in the dictionary... ;-)


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: TheSnail
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 07:39 AM

GUEST,Shimrod

It occurs to me that the word 'book' means the same today, in 2009, as it did in 1954 - or do we have to re-define every word in the dictionary because most of them were coined in the past? How old does a word or term have to be for it to become out-dated?

I was under the impression that dictionaries derived their definitions from the spoken language not the other way round and, yes, dictionaries are updated as usage changes. I don't think there are any other words in general use apart from "folk" that have had their meaning defined by a committee.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 07:41 AM

Jim - Thankls for the '1954 Definition' ! At least I now know what people are talking about when it is mentioned !

It works for me , as far as Traditional Song is concerned , but there are a lot of contemporary songs that I feel fit under the Umberella of "Folk" , some of which I like , and some I DONT like .

In the same way , as an Ex Jazz player , there are Jazz styles I enjoy , and there are other Jazz styles that leave me cold ! but they are ALL Jazz , arent they ?

'Folk' has in fact become an Umberella Label that covers a VERY Wide variety of music , which now HAS to include Music Hall , Blues , Old Timey , and Singer/Songwriter in all THAT Genres various forms .

Gets complicated , doesent it >???


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 08:25 AM

Gets complicated , doesent it >???

Au contraire - I'd say it say it was simplicity itself; just sit back and savour. If you don't like it, go to the bar.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 08:35 AM

I note another thread on which chatter is taboo, is entitled, 'Feral Folk'. Now whether that's a freshly coined term or been with us since ye fifties, I could rather take to it... It smells of beer and muddy fields, which is pretty much as good as life gets in my ferally inclined opinion.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 09:33 AM

Feral folk is the stuff I like, especially as it lacks a definition. I suspect any music played in a 'folk club' is by definition not folk because 'club' however you define it is the antithesis to the folk experience.
Indeed one might say folk clubs nearly killed folk music. Fortunately the music defies institutional ghettos and worthy taxonomy.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 09:41 AM

It smells of beer and muddy fields, which is pretty much as good as life gets in my ferally inclined opinion.

I used to use the term Feral Folk to describe to sort of stuff we were doing out and about in the rare owld times when I was more inclined to get out and about and do such things than I am now. Feral Folk was wild, of the earth; it was ceremony and ritual; it was tied directly into seasons and the land; it was wild, licentious, and fraught with dangers. Sadly, in the context of that thread, Feral Folk simply means those who are performing or organising a public folk gig outside of the normal Folk Club / Festivals structure . Methinks we should claim it back to give it the significance it deserves!


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 09:47 AM

' Indeed one might say folk clubs nearly killed folk music'

Well said!! [IMO]


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 11:08 AM

"Methinks we should claim it back to give it the significance it deserves!"

Aye! Well of course, now that I know the correctly disambiguated and authenticated provenance of the term, I realise that I've probably already participated in one or two of these shambolic rites...


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 11:47 AM

1)Look at the songs in the Mudcat Database.
2)Make a list of the common characteristics in them.
3)Use those to decide the relative 'folkishness' of one you're not sure about.

4)I'm not kidding. Dick & Susan, with help, have compiled a very large list of songs which 'almost' any of us would agree ARE folk.....or very closely related to folk....or very likely to be accepted AS folks in the future.

By extracting the defining common concepts of a huge number, one automatically has a working definition.

Thus, stuff 'written' by Ewan MacColl usually gets in, while "Nine-Inch Nails"...not so much.


There...now isn't that easier than trying to create a single definition and argue forever about precise wording?












Hark! Do I hear dissenting voices mumbling, "yeah, but..." in the distance?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 11:57 AM

Duh!!


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 12:12 PM

"(and are probably not very keen on folk songs)"

Oh dear me, is that really the best you can offer in response? *LOL*

However, having said that, I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a folk singer, I'm a singer of traditional songs, both as a solo artist and as part of a couple of bands. I play acoustically and electrically (mandolin, piano and guitar) AND I've been playing for a fair number of years now.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 01:43 PM

The problem lies with those who insist that "If I like it, it's folk!" or "If I wrote it, it's folk!"

A definition that includes everything defines nothing.

(Okay, take your best shot!)

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 01:47 PM

"A definition that includes everything defines nothing."

No 'shot' from me, Don...that's one of my favorite sayings.


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 01:55 PM

a perfect quote, Don! Mind if I use it?


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 02:27 PM

"I wrote this folk song two years ago for my first million-seller CD...."


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Subject: RE: What makes it a Folk Song?
From: Don Firth
Date: 19 Mar 09 - 02:36 PM

Be my guest! It's out there. Part of the definition of "definition."

A definition consists of a genus, which delineates a broad category of like entities, and a differentia, which distinguishes the specific entity being defined from other members of the genus.

Don Firth


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