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1954 and All That - defining folk music

Related threads:
Popfolk? (19)
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What is a Folk Song? (229)
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What makes a new song a folk song? (1710)
Does Folk Exist? (709)
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Here comes that bloody horse - again! (23)
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What is a Folksinger? (51)
BS: What is folk music? (69) (closed)
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Rifleman (inactive) 21 Mar 09 - 04:13 PM
Phil Edwards 21 Mar 09 - 04:50 PM
Jack Blandiver 21 Mar 09 - 05:11 PM
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Jack Blandiver 21 Mar 09 - 05:24 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 21 Mar 09 - 05:49 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Mar 09 - 06:08 PM
Don Firth 21 Mar 09 - 06:09 PM
Jack Blandiver 21 Mar 09 - 07:45 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 21 Mar 09 - 07:53 PM
Jack Blandiver 21 Mar 09 - 08:02 PM
Betsy 21 Mar 09 - 08:40 PM
Don Firth 21 Mar 09 - 08:43 PM
Betsy 21 Mar 09 - 09:07 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 21 Mar 09 - 09:56 PM
Don Firth 21 Mar 09 - 11:22 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 22 Mar 09 - 12:04 AM
Don Firth 22 Mar 09 - 12:45 AM
Gibb Sahib 22 Mar 09 - 01:56 AM
Amos 22 Mar 09 - 03:31 AM
GUEST,Albertos 22 Mar 09 - 04:20 AM
Howard Jones 22 Mar 09 - 04:26 AM
DMcG 22 Mar 09 - 04:33 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Mar 09 - 04:36 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Mar 09 - 05:34 AM
The Sandman 22 Mar 09 - 06:05 AM
The Sandman 22 Mar 09 - 06:44 AM
Betsy 22 Mar 09 - 06:50 AM
VirginiaTam 22 Mar 09 - 06:56 AM
Jack Blandiver 22 Mar 09 - 07:19 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Mar 09 - 08:23 AM
TheSnail 22 Mar 09 - 08:43 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 22 Mar 09 - 09:03 AM
Phil Edwards 22 Mar 09 - 10:39 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Mar 09 - 11:16 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 22 Mar 09 - 11:28 AM
Phil Edwards 22 Mar 09 - 11:40 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 22 Mar 09 - 12:12 PM
Jim Carroll 22 Mar 09 - 01:07 PM
Jack Blandiver 22 Mar 09 - 01:23 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 22 Mar 09 - 02:25 PM
Howard Jones 22 Mar 09 - 02:30 PM
Jim Carroll 22 Mar 09 - 02:39 PM
Don Firth 22 Mar 09 - 03:03 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 22 Mar 09 - 03:08 PM
Gibb Sahib 22 Mar 09 - 03:34 PM
Phil Edwards 22 Mar 09 - 04:12 PM
John P 22 Mar 09 - 06:18 PM
Betsy 22 Mar 09 - 07:26 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 22 Mar 09 - 07:42 PM
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GUEST,Edthefolkie 22 Mar 09 - 08:09 PM
Nick 22 Mar 09 - 09:18 PM
Nick 22 Mar 09 - 09:53 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 22 Mar 09 - 09:55 PM
Phil Edwards 23 Mar 09 - 04:14 AM
TheSnail 23 Mar 09 - 04:49 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Mar 09 - 04:54 AM
Jack Blandiver 23 Mar 09 - 05:47 AM
GUEST,Will Fly, on the hoof 23 Mar 09 - 05:55 AM
The Sandman 23 Mar 09 - 06:04 AM
TheSnail 23 Mar 09 - 06:25 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Mar 09 - 06:33 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Mar 09 - 06:48 AM
TheSnail 23 Mar 09 - 07:14 AM
GUEST, Sminky 23 Mar 09 - 07:20 AM
Jack Blandiver 23 Mar 09 - 07:25 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Mar 09 - 07:33 AM
Sleepy Rosie 23 Mar 09 - 07:46 AM
TheSnail 23 Mar 09 - 07:48 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 23 Mar 09 - 08:03 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Mar 09 - 08:10 AM
The Sandman 23 Mar 09 - 08:58 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 23 Mar 09 - 09:08 AM
Jack Blandiver 23 Mar 09 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,a passing academic 23 Mar 09 - 09:21 AM
Will Fly 23 Mar 09 - 09:38 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 23 Mar 09 - 10:00 AM
Phil Edwards 23 Mar 09 - 10:23 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 23 Mar 09 - 10:34 AM
TheSnail 23 Mar 09 - 10:34 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 23 Mar 09 - 10:37 AM
TheSnail 23 Mar 09 - 10:41 AM
RTim 23 Mar 09 - 10:42 AM
TheSnail 23 Mar 09 - 10:43 AM
Jack Blandiver 23 Mar 09 - 10:47 AM
RTim 23 Mar 09 - 10:53 AM
Phil Edwards 23 Mar 09 - 11:10 AM
Phil Edwards 23 Mar 09 - 11:18 AM
Banjiman 23 Mar 09 - 11:21 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 23 Mar 09 - 11:27 AM
Phil Edwards 23 Mar 09 - 11:45 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 23 Mar 09 - 11:49 AM
Banjiman 23 Mar 09 - 11:55 AM
The Sandman 23 Mar 09 - 11:57 AM
Jack Blandiver 23 Mar 09 - 11:59 AM
Rifleman (inactive) 23 Mar 09 - 12:14 PM
Jack Blandiver 23 Mar 09 - 12:18 PM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 23 Mar 09 - 12:26 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 23 Mar 09 - 12:36 PM
Phil Edwards 23 Mar 09 - 12:55 PM
Jack Blandiver 23 Mar 09 - 01:10 PM
GUEST 23 Mar 09 - 03:05 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 23 Mar 09 - 03:12 PM
Jim Carroll 23 Mar 09 - 04:17 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 23 Mar 09 - 04:51 PM
TheSnail 23 Mar 09 - 05:05 PM
The Sandman 23 Mar 09 - 05:09 PM
Jim Carroll 23 Mar 09 - 06:04 PM
The Sandman 23 Mar 09 - 06:14 PM
Don Firth 23 Mar 09 - 06:36 PM
Peace 23 Mar 09 - 06:50 PM
TheSnail 23 Mar 09 - 07:11 PM
TheSnail 23 Mar 09 - 07:13 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 23 Mar 09 - 07:39 PM
Phil Edwards 23 Mar 09 - 07:51 PM
Betsy 23 Mar 09 - 08:29 PM
Don Firth 23 Mar 09 - 09:50 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 23 Mar 09 - 10:04 PM
Don Firth 23 Mar 09 - 10:06 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 23 Mar 09 - 10:11 PM
Sleepy Rosie 24 Mar 09 - 02:04 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Mar 09 - 03:35 AM
Phil Edwards 24 Mar 09 - 04:10 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Mar 09 - 04:15 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Mar 09 - 04:16 AM
Jack Blandiver 24 Mar 09 - 06:47 AM
Sailor Ron 24 Mar 09 - 07:02 AM
GUEST,Phil Beer 24 Mar 09 - 07:06 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Mar 09 - 07:28 AM
Jack Blandiver 24 Mar 09 - 07:32 AM
Phil Edwards 24 Mar 09 - 07:38 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Mar 09 - 07:40 AM
Jack Blandiver 24 Mar 09 - 07:45 AM
Jack Blandiver 24 Mar 09 - 07:47 AM
Jack Blandiver 24 Mar 09 - 07:52 AM
Will Fly 24 Mar 09 - 07:56 AM
Nick 24 Mar 09 - 08:17 AM
Will Fly 24 Mar 09 - 08:30 AM
Jack Blandiver 24 Mar 09 - 08:33 AM
greg stephens 24 Mar 09 - 08:40 AM
The Sandman 24 Mar 09 - 08:43 AM
MartinRyan 24 Mar 09 - 08:51 AM
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greg stephens 24 Mar 09 - 12:21 PM
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Phil Edwards 24 Mar 09 - 01:16 PM
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Jack Blandiver 24 Mar 09 - 01:49 PM
Goose Gander 24 Mar 09 - 02:59 PM
Jack Blandiver 24 Mar 09 - 03:49 PM
Don Firth 24 Mar 09 - 04:15 PM
Goose Gander 24 Mar 09 - 04:45 PM
John P 24 Mar 09 - 07:02 PM
Don Firth 24 Mar 09 - 07:11 PM
Betsy 24 Mar 09 - 07:43 PM
Peace 24 Mar 09 - 09:34 PM
Ian Fyvie 24 Mar 09 - 10:15 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 24 Mar 09 - 11:34 PM
Don Firth 25 Mar 09 - 01:30 AM
Don Firth 25 Mar 09 - 01:31 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Mar 09 - 03:18 AM
GUEST, Sminky 25 Mar 09 - 05:38 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 25 Mar 09 - 05:38 AM
GUEST, Sminky 25 Mar 09 - 06:36 AM
Jack Blandiver 25 Mar 09 - 06:54 AM
Jim Carroll 25 Mar 09 - 07:08 AM
GUEST,John from Kemsing 25 Mar 09 - 07:11 AM
GUEST, Sminky 25 Mar 09 - 08:18 AM
Howard Jones 25 Mar 09 - 08:57 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 25 Mar 09 - 09:23 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 25 Mar 09 - 09:38 AM
GUEST, Sminky 25 Mar 09 - 09:50 AM
Jack Blandiver 25 Mar 09 - 09:55 AM
Jack Blandiver 25 Mar 09 - 10:19 AM
John P 25 Mar 09 - 10:24 AM
Mr Happy 25 Mar 09 - 10:29 AM
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Jack Blandiver 25 Mar 09 - 05:47 PM
The Sandman 25 Mar 09 - 06:03 PM
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Jack Blandiver 25 Mar 09 - 07:13 PM
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Gibb Sahib 25 Mar 09 - 07:25 PM
TheSnail 25 Mar 09 - 07:35 PM
TheSnail 25 Mar 09 - 07:45 PM
Sleepy Rosie 26 Mar 09 - 02:44 AM
Jack Blandiver 26 Mar 09 - 06:51 AM
Jack Blandiver 26 Mar 09 - 06:58 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 26 Mar 09 - 07:16 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 26 Mar 09 - 07:19 AM
Jack Blandiver 26 Mar 09 - 08:49 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 26 Mar 09 - 10:52 AM
GUEST, Sminky 26 Mar 09 - 12:03 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 26 Mar 09 - 12:16 PM
Spleen Cringe 26 Mar 09 - 12:19 PM
greg stephens 26 Mar 09 - 12:24 PM
Banjiman 26 Mar 09 - 12:25 PM
TheSnail 26 Mar 09 - 12:26 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 26 Mar 09 - 12:28 PM
Sleepy Rosie 26 Mar 09 - 12:39 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 26 Mar 09 - 12:52 PM
Sailor Ron 26 Mar 09 - 12:54 PM
greg stephens 26 Mar 09 - 01:02 PM
Jack Blandiver 26 Mar 09 - 01:03 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 26 Mar 09 - 01:03 PM
Jack Blandiver 26 Mar 09 - 01:40 PM
TheSnail 26 Mar 09 - 01:47 PM
Jack Blandiver 26 Mar 09 - 01:52 PM
Jack Blandiver 26 Mar 09 - 01:56 PM
Goose Gander 26 Mar 09 - 01:57 PM
Jack Blandiver 26 Mar 09 - 02:07 PM
Sleepy Rosie 26 Mar 09 - 02:13 PM
Goose Gander 26 Mar 09 - 02:15 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 26 Mar 09 - 02:53 PM
Goose Gander 26 Mar 09 - 03:02 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 26 Mar 09 - 03:12 PM
Jack Blandiver 26 Mar 09 - 03:34 PM
Goose Gander 26 Mar 09 - 03:47 PM
Don Firth 26 Mar 09 - 04:09 PM
Phil Edwards 26 Mar 09 - 04:15 PM
Don Firth 26 Mar 09 - 04:19 PM
Howard Jones 26 Mar 09 - 05:12 PM
The Sandman 26 Mar 09 - 05:59 PM
greg stephens 26 Mar 09 - 06:10 PM
Phil Edwards 26 Mar 09 - 07:08 PM
The Sandman 26 Mar 09 - 07:24 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 26 Mar 09 - 07:34 PM
Jack Blandiver 27 Mar 09 - 05:34 AM
GUEST,sPLEEN cRINGE 27 Mar 09 - 05:45 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 27 Mar 09 - 05:48 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 27 Mar 09 - 06:58 AM
Jack Blandiver 27 Mar 09 - 07:14 AM
GUEST, Sminky 27 Mar 09 - 07:55 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 27 Mar 09 - 10:39 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 27 Mar 09 - 11:20 AM
Jack Blandiver 27 Mar 09 - 01:54 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 27 Mar 09 - 03:14 PM
Howard Jones 27 Mar 09 - 03:26 PM
Phil Edwards 27 Mar 09 - 03:51 PM
GUEST,glueman 27 Mar 09 - 04:40 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 27 Mar 09 - 04:50 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 27 Mar 09 - 05:28 PM
Jack Blandiver 27 Mar 09 - 06:57 PM
Don Firth 27 Mar 09 - 07:23 PM
Phil Edwards 27 Mar 09 - 07:32 PM
The Sandman 27 Mar 09 - 08:05 PM
Jack Blandiver 27 Mar 09 - 08:05 PM
Goose Gander 27 Mar 09 - 08:34 PM
Howard Jones 27 Mar 09 - 08:36 PM
M.Ted 27 Mar 09 - 09:25 PM
Betsy 27 Mar 09 - 09:49 PM
Backwoodsman 28 Mar 09 - 03:55 AM
Peace 28 Mar 09 - 03:57 AM
GUEST,glueman 28 Mar 09 - 04:29 AM
Jack Blandiver 28 Mar 09 - 04:53 AM
DMcG 28 Mar 09 - 05:47 AM
Howard Jones 28 Mar 09 - 06:01 AM
Phil Edwards 28 Mar 09 - 06:42 AM
Jack Blandiver 28 Mar 09 - 07:28 AM
Howard Jones 28 Mar 09 - 10:16 AM
GUEST,glueman 28 Mar 09 - 12:09 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 28 Mar 09 - 12:14 PM
Phil Edwards 28 Mar 09 - 01:08 PM
Goose Gander 28 Mar 09 - 01:10 PM
GUEST,glueman 28 Mar 09 - 02:12 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 28 Mar 09 - 02:12 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 28 Mar 09 - 02:15 PM
Jack Blandiver 28 Mar 09 - 05:15 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 28 Mar 09 - 05:26 PM
Don Firth 28 Mar 09 - 05:30 PM
Jack Blandiver 28 Mar 09 - 06:04 PM
Phil Edwards 28 Mar 09 - 06:19 PM
Jack Blandiver 28 Mar 09 - 06:29 PM
Phil Edwards 28 Mar 09 - 06:32 PM
Jack Blandiver 28 Mar 09 - 07:03 PM
Goose Gander 28 Mar 09 - 07:42 PM
Betsy 28 Mar 09 - 09:07 PM
Don Firth 28 Mar 09 - 09:51 PM
M.Ted 28 Mar 09 - 11:57 PM
GUEST,glueman 29 Mar 09 - 03:34 AM
Phil Edwards 29 Mar 09 - 04:49 AM
GUEST,glueman 29 Mar 09 - 05:05 AM
Jack Blandiver 29 Mar 09 - 06:08 AM
GUEST,glueman 29 Mar 09 - 06:35 AM
Howard Jones 29 Mar 09 - 07:06 AM
Phil Edwards 29 Mar 09 - 07:10 AM
TheSnail 29 Mar 09 - 08:52 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 29 Mar 09 - 11:10 AM
Darowyn 29 Mar 09 - 12:01 PM
GUEST,glueman 29 Mar 09 - 01:13 PM
M.Ted 29 Mar 09 - 01:47 PM
michaelr 29 Mar 09 - 01:58 PM
Phil Edwards 29 Mar 09 - 02:00 PM
Don Firth 29 Mar 09 - 02:54 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 29 Mar 09 - 03:12 PM
GUEST,glueman 29 Mar 09 - 03:53 PM
Jack Blandiver 29 Mar 09 - 03:57 PM
TheSnail 29 Mar 09 - 04:34 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 29 Mar 09 - 05:53 PM
Phil Edwards 29 Mar 09 - 06:18 PM
Phil Edwards 29 Mar 09 - 06:31 PM
Nick 29 Mar 09 - 07:48 PM
Ian Fyvie 29 Mar 09 - 08:33 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 30 Mar 09 - 03:56 AM
Jack Blandiver 30 Mar 09 - 04:46 AM
GUEST,glueman 30 Mar 09 - 05:41 AM
TheSnail 30 Mar 09 - 06:13 AM
mark gregory 30 Mar 09 - 06:40 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 30 Mar 09 - 06:50 AM
GUEST,glueman 30 Mar 09 - 07:33 AM
TheSnail 30 Mar 09 - 08:21 AM
Jack Blandiver 30 Mar 09 - 08:35 AM
M.Ted 30 Mar 09 - 09:38 AM
GUEST,glueman 30 Mar 09 - 09:52 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 30 Mar 09 - 10:31 AM
Phil Edwards 30 Mar 09 - 10:51 AM
George Papavgeris 30 Mar 09 - 10:51 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 30 Mar 09 - 10:58 AM
TheSnail 30 Mar 09 - 11:08 AM
Howard Jones 30 Mar 09 - 11:18 AM
Jack Blandiver 30 Mar 09 - 11:44 AM
Phil Edwards 30 Mar 09 - 12:48 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 30 Mar 09 - 12:57 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 30 Mar 09 - 12:59 PM
Jack Blandiver 30 Mar 09 - 01:38 PM
Goose Gander 30 Mar 09 - 02:10 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 30 Mar 09 - 02:15 PM
Goose Gander 30 Mar 09 - 02:19 PM
Jack Blandiver 30 Mar 09 - 02:32 PM
GUEST,glueman 30 Mar 09 - 02:43 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 30 Mar 09 - 02:43 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 30 Mar 09 - 02:52 PM
John P 30 Mar 09 - 03:11 PM
Goose Gander 30 Mar 09 - 03:14 PM
GUEST,glueman 30 Mar 09 - 03:34 PM
Don Firth 30 Mar 09 - 03:43 PM
Don Firth 30 Mar 09 - 04:00 PM
Phil Edwards 30 Mar 09 - 04:06 PM
Art Thieme 30 Mar 09 - 04:16 PM
Spleen Cringe 30 Mar 09 - 04:20 PM
John P 30 Mar 09 - 05:08 PM
GUEST,glueman 30 Mar 09 - 05:21 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 30 Mar 09 - 05:22 PM
Phil Edwards 30 Mar 09 - 05:28 PM
Phil Edwards 30 Mar 09 - 05:38 PM
Howard Jones 30 Mar 09 - 06:10 PM
Spleen Cringe 30 Mar 09 - 06:56 PM
Ian Fyvie 30 Mar 09 - 08:03 PM
GUEST,glueman 31 Mar 09 - 03:25 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 31 Mar 09 - 04:51 AM
Will Fly 31 Mar 09 - 05:12 AM
GUEST,glueman 31 Mar 09 - 05:14 AM
Jack Blandiver 31 Mar 09 - 05:46 AM
TheSnail 31 Mar 09 - 06:08 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 31 Mar 09 - 06:21 AM
GUEST,glueman 31 Mar 09 - 06:48 AM
Jack Blandiver 31 Mar 09 - 08:20 AM
Will Fly 31 Mar 09 - 08:36 AM
Jack Blandiver 31 Mar 09 - 09:16 AM
Howard Jones 31 Mar 09 - 09:39 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 31 Mar 09 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 31 Mar 09 - 09:58 AM
Jack Blandiver 31 Mar 09 - 10:13 AM
Jack Blandiver 31 Mar 09 - 10:16 AM
GUEST,glueman 31 Mar 09 - 10:27 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 31 Mar 09 - 11:44 AM
Phil Edwards 31 Mar 09 - 12:06 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 31 Mar 09 - 12:48 PM
Phil Edwards 31 Mar 09 - 01:58 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 31 Mar 09 - 02:14 PM
Phil Edwards 31 Mar 09 - 03:06 PM
Jack Blandiver 31 Mar 09 - 03:25 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 31 Mar 09 - 03:31 PM
Spleen Cringe 31 Mar 09 - 03:36 PM
GUEST,glueman 31 Mar 09 - 04:15 PM
Don Firth 31 Mar 09 - 04:23 PM
Phil Edwards 31 Mar 09 - 05:13 PM
GUEST,glueman 31 Mar 09 - 05:14 PM
Goose Gander 31 Mar 09 - 05:35 PM
Stringsinger 31 Mar 09 - 06:21 PM
greg stephens 31 Mar 09 - 06:44 PM
Don Firth 31 Mar 09 - 07:24 PM
Spleen Cringe 31 Mar 09 - 07:30 PM
John P 31 Mar 09 - 08:13 PM
M.Ted 31 Mar 09 - 09:38 PM
Jack Blandiver 01 Apr 09 - 04:20 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 01 Apr 09 - 04:30 AM
GUEST,glueman 01 Apr 09 - 04:41 AM
Will Fly 01 Apr 09 - 05:02 AM
Jack Blandiver 01 Apr 09 - 05:49 AM
greg stephens 01 Apr 09 - 05:54 AM
Jack Blandiver 01 Apr 09 - 06:11 AM
GUEST,glueman 01 Apr 09 - 06:47 AM
greg stephens 01 Apr 09 - 06:59 AM
TheSnail 01 Apr 09 - 07:09 AM
greg stephens 01 Apr 09 - 07:12 AM
GUEST,glueman 01 Apr 09 - 08:55 AM
Jack Blandiver 01 Apr 09 - 10:24 AM
M.Ted 01 Apr 09 - 10:28 AM
Will Fly 01 Apr 09 - 10:32 AM
GUEST,glueman 01 Apr 09 - 11:32 AM
TheSnail 01 Apr 09 - 11:38 AM
Rifleman (inactive) 01 Apr 09 - 12:06 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 01 Apr 09 - 12:14 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 01 Apr 09 - 12:26 PM
Goose Gander 01 Apr 09 - 12:58 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 01 Apr 09 - 12:59 PM
Jack Blandiver 01 Apr 09 - 01:00 PM
Jack Blandiver 01 Apr 09 - 01:10 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 01 Apr 09 - 01:53 PM
Goose Gander 01 Apr 09 - 02:07 PM
GUEST,glueman 01 Apr 09 - 02:37 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 01 Apr 09 - 02:49 PM
GUEST,glueman 01 Apr 09 - 03:12 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 01 Apr 09 - 03:23 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 01 Apr 09 - 03:28 PM
Jack Blandiver 01 Apr 09 - 04:46 PM
Don Firth 01 Apr 09 - 04:55 PM
Jack Blandiver 01 Apr 09 - 05:15 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 01 Apr 09 - 05:23 PM
Howard Jones 01 Apr 09 - 05:59 PM
Don Firth 01 Apr 09 - 06:14 PM
Jack Blandiver 01 Apr 09 - 07:01 PM
Howard Jones 01 Apr 09 - 07:42 PM
GUEST,glueman 01 Apr 09 - 07:43 PM
Don Firth 01 Apr 09 - 09:33 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 01 Apr 09 - 09:45 PM
M.Ted 01 Apr 09 - 10:01 PM
Phil Edwards 02 Apr 09 - 03:02 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 02 Apr 09 - 04:42 AM
Howard Jones 02 Apr 09 - 05:41 AM
Jack Blandiver 02 Apr 09 - 05:49 AM
Will Fly 02 Apr 09 - 05:57 AM
Jack Blandiver 02 Apr 09 - 06:01 AM
Will Fly 02 Apr 09 - 06:06 AM
GUEST,glueman 02 Apr 09 - 06:57 AM
M.Ted 02 Apr 09 - 07:29 AM
Howard Jones 02 Apr 09 - 08:17 AM
Howard Jones 02 Apr 09 - 08:25 AM
Howard Jones 02 Apr 09 - 08:26 AM
GUEST,glueman 02 Apr 09 - 08:52 AM
Rifleman (inactive) 02 Apr 09 - 12:35 PM
Don Firth 02 Apr 09 - 02:27 PM
Jack Blandiver 02 Apr 09 - 02:59 PM
GUEST,Ed 02 Apr 09 - 03:06 PM
Goose Gander 02 Apr 09 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,Ed 02 Apr 09 - 03:10 PM
M.Ted 02 Apr 09 - 03:34 PM
Don Firth 02 Apr 09 - 03:38 PM
Spleen Cringe 02 Apr 09 - 03:55 PM
Spleen Cringe 02 Apr 09 - 04:08 PM
Art Thieme 02 Apr 09 - 04:43 PM
Don Firth 02 Apr 09 - 04:50 PM
Spleen Cringe 02 Apr 09 - 05:26 PM
Phil Edwards 02 Apr 09 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,glueman 02 Apr 09 - 06:37 PM
Phil Edwards 02 Apr 09 - 07:06 PM
Betsy 02 Apr 09 - 07:21 PM
Don Firth 02 Apr 09 - 09:13 PM
M.Ted 03 Apr 09 - 01:19 AM
GUEST 03 Apr 09 - 03:14 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 03 Apr 09 - 04:37 AM
Jack Blandiver 03 Apr 09 - 04:41 AM
Jack Blandiver 03 Apr 09 - 04:42 AM
Phil Edwards 03 Apr 09 - 04:46 AM
Will Fly 03 Apr 09 - 05:08 AM
Jack Blandiver 03 Apr 09 - 05:09 AM
GUEST,glueman 03 Apr 09 - 05:14 AM
GUEST,Ed 03 Apr 09 - 05:15 AM
Jack Blandiver 03 Apr 09 - 05:57 AM
GUEST,glueman 03 Apr 09 - 06:47 AM
Phil Edwards 03 Apr 09 - 07:21 AM
Will Fly 03 Apr 09 - 07:27 AM
GUEST,glueman 03 Apr 09 - 07:54 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 03 Apr 09 - 08:49 AM
Will Fly 03 Apr 09 - 08:57 AM
GUEST,glueman 03 Apr 09 - 09:06 AM
Will Fly 03 Apr 09 - 09:32 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 03 Apr 09 - 09:38 AM
DMcG 03 Apr 09 - 11:12 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 03 Apr 09 - 11:36 AM
Will Fly 03 Apr 09 - 12:00 PM
DMcG 03 Apr 09 - 12:10 PM
GUEST,glueman 03 Apr 09 - 12:21 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 03 Apr 09 - 12:32 PM
TheSnail 03 Apr 09 - 12:51 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 03 Apr 09 - 12:59 PM
GUEST,glueman 03 Apr 09 - 01:23 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 03 Apr 09 - 01:53 PM
Howard Jones 03 Apr 09 - 02:13 PM
DMcG 03 Apr 09 - 02:44 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 03 Apr 09 - 02:52 PM
GUEST,glueman 03 Apr 09 - 03:00 PM
Jack Blandiver 03 Apr 09 - 03:12 PM
Spleen Cringe 03 Apr 09 - 03:43 PM
John P 03 Apr 09 - 03:46 PM
Jack Blandiver 03 Apr 09 - 03:54 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 03 Apr 09 - 04:17 PM
Phil Edwards 03 Apr 09 - 04:30 PM
Phil Edwards 03 Apr 09 - 04:34 PM
Don Firth 03 Apr 09 - 04:54 PM
GUEST,glueman 03 Apr 09 - 04:57 PM
Don Firth 03 Apr 09 - 05:20 PM
John P 03 Apr 09 - 05:33 PM
GUEST,glueman 03 Apr 09 - 05:37 PM
GUEST,glueman 03 Apr 09 - 05:39 PM
Don Firth 03 Apr 09 - 05:54 PM
GUEST,glueman 03 Apr 09 - 06:00 PM
Jack Blandiver 03 Apr 09 - 06:26 PM
Don Firth 03 Apr 09 - 06:26 PM
GUEST,glueman 03 Apr 09 - 06:40 PM
John P 03 Apr 09 - 06:54 PM
GUEST,glueman 03 Apr 09 - 07:04 PM
John P 03 Apr 09 - 07:25 PM
John P 03 Apr 09 - 07:41 PM
GUEST,glueman 03 Apr 09 - 07:49 PM
Don Firth 03 Apr 09 - 08:12 PM
John P 03 Apr 09 - 09:37 PM
Peace 04 Apr 09 - 02:28 AM
GUEST,glueman 04 Apr 09 - 03:50 AM
Spleen Cringe 04 Apr 09 - 04:07 AM
Phil Edwards 04 Apr 09 - 04:08 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 04 Apr 09 - 04:45 AM
Jack Blandiver 04 Apr 09 - 05:05 AM
Spleen Cringe 04 Apr 09 - 05:05 AM
GUEST,glueman 04 Apr 09 - 05:25 AM
Jack Blandiver 04 Apr 09 - 05:28 AM
GUEST,glueman 04 Apr 09 - 05:45 AM
Howard Jones 04 Apr 09 - 07:51 AM
GUEST,glueman 04 Apr 09 - 08:21 AM
M.Ted 04 Apr 09 - 10:59 AM
John P 04 Apr 09 - 11:22 AM
John P 04 Apr 09 - 11:36 AM
Rifleman (inactive) 04 Apr 09 - 12:18 PM
Darowyn 04 Apr 09 - 01:17 PM
Spleen Cringe 04 Apr 09 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,glueman 04 Apr 09 - 01:26 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 04 Apr 09 - 01:36 PM
Spleen Cringe 04 Apr 09 - 01:50 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 04 Apr 09 - 02:29 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Apr 09 - 02:42 PM
John P 04 Apr 09 - 02:50 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 04 Apr 09 - 03:01 PM
Peace 04 Apr 09 - 03:16 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Apr 09 - 03:17 PM
GUEST,glueman 04 Apr 09 - 03:33 PM
Don Firth 04 Apr 09 - 03:52 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 04 Apr 09 - 04:04 PM
Phil Edwards 04 Apr 09 - 06:52 PM
M.Ted 04 Apr 09 - 06:56 PM
Don Firth 04 Apr 09 - 07:39 PM
M.Ted 05 Apr 09 - 02:01 AM
M.Ted 05 Apr 09 - 02:03 AM
DMcG 05 Apr 09 - 03:47 AM
Spleen Cringe 05 Apr 09 - 05:27 AM
Howard Jones 05 Apr 09 - 05:32 AM
DMcG 05 Apr 09 - 08:01 AM
Rifleman (inactive) 05 Apr 09 - 03:23 PM
Don Firth 05 Apr 09 - 03:28 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 05 Apr 09 - 04:08 PM
Don Firth 05 Apr 09 - 04:53 PM
M.Ted 05 Apr 09 - 05:27 PM
Don Firth 05 Apr 09 - 07:47 PM
Howard Jones 06 Apr 09 - 04:44 AM
Jack Blandiver 06 Apr 09 - 05:05 AM
Phil Edwards 06 Apr 09 - 06:50 AM
TheSnail 06 Apr 09 - 07:03 AM
Jack Blandiver 06 Apr 09 - 07:42 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Apr 09 - 10:46 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Apr 09 - 11:30 AM
Stringsinger 06 Apr 09 - 11:53 AM
Jack Blandiver 06 Apr 09 - 12:12 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 06 Apr 09 - 12:13 PM
Goose Gander 06 Apr 09 - 12:33 PM
TheSnail 06 Apr 09 - 01:51 PM
Jack Blandiver 06 Apr 09 - 02:41 PM
Don Firth 06 Apr 09 - 02:56 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Apr 09 - 03:18 PM
Goose Gander 06 Apr 09 - 03:27 PM
Spleen Cringe 06 Apr 09 - 03:33 PM
Phil Edwards 06 Apr 09 - 03:35 PM
Phil Edwards 06 Apr 09 - 03:44 PM
Spleen Cringe 06 Apr 09 - 03:47 PM
Jim Carroll 06 Apr 09 - 04:29 PM
M.Ted 06 Apr 09 - 05:26 PM
Jack Blandiver 06 Apr 09 - 06:38 PM
Don Firth 06 Apr 09 - 07:29 PM
Spleen Cringe 06 Apr 09 - 08:04 PM
Don Firth 06 Apr 09 - 08:38 PM
Peace 06 Apr 09 - 08:43 PM
curmudgeon 06 Apr 09 - 08:54 PM
M.Ted 06 Apr 09 - 09:12 PM
Jack Blandiver 07 Apr 09 - 02:32 AM
Peace 07 Apr 09 - 02:39 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Apr 09 - 02:48 AM
GUEST,glueman 07 Apr 09 - 02:53 AM
Spleen Cringe 07 Apr 09 - 03:02 AM
GUEST,glueman 07 Apr 09 - 03:22 AM
Howard Jones 07 Apr 09 - 05:11 AM
TheSnail 07 Apr 09 - 05:33 AM
Phil Edwards 07 Apr 09 - 05:42 AM
TheSnail 07 Apr 09 - 05:48 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Apr 09 - 06:20 AM
GUEST,glueman 07 Apr 09 - 06:21 AM
Phil Edwards 07 Apr 09 - 06:32 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Apr 09 - 06:45 AM
Howard Jones 07 Apr 09 - 07:30 AM
Tug the Cox 07 Apr 09 - 08:13 AM
GUEST, Sminky 07 Apr 09 - 08:31 AM
GUEST,Spleen O'Cookieless 07 Apr 09 - 08:35 AM
GUEST, Sminky 07 Apr 09 - 08:45 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Apr 09 - 08:55 AM
GUEST, Sminky 07 Apr 09 - 08:57 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Apr 09 - 09:00 AM
TheSnail 07 Apr 09 - 09:14 AM
GUEST,glueman 07 Apr 09 - 09:17 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Apr 09 - 11:42 AM
Goose Gander 07 Apr 09 - 11:51 AM
Rifleman (inactive) 07 Apr 09 - 12:06 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 07 Apr 09 - 12:12 PM
Phil Edwards 07 Apr 09 - 12:24 PM
John P 07 Apr 09 - 12:26 PM
GUEST,glueman 07 Apr 09 - 12:41 PM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 07 Apr 09 - 12:54 PM
TheSnail 07 Apr 09 - 01:04 PM
Joe Offer 07 Apr 09 - 01:16 PM
Don Firth 07 Apr 09 - 01:32 PM
Don Firth 07 Apr 09 - 01:35 PM
GUEST,glueman 07 Apr 09 - 01:43 PM
Phil Edwards 07 Apr 09 - 02:15 PM
Don Firth 07 Apr 09 - 02:22 PM
Don Firth 07 Apr 09 - 02:27 PM
GUEST,glueman 07 Apr 09 - 02:56 PM
Jack Blandiver 07 Apr 09 - 03:20 PM
GUEST,glueman 07 Apr 09 - 03:34 PM
Phil Edwards 07 Apr 09 - 03:43 PM
Goose Gander 07 Apr 09 - 03:45 PM
GUEST,glueman 07 Apr 09 - 03:53 PM
Don Firth 07 Apr 09 - 04:10 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Apr 09 - 04:48 PM
Jack Blandiver 07 Apr 09 - 05:14 PM
Don Firth 07 Apr 09 - 07:08 PM
Phil Edwards 07 Apr 09 - 07:27 PM
Peace 07 Apr 09 - 09:42 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Apr 09 - 02:25 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Apr 09 - 02:37 AM
Howard Jones 08 Apr 09 - 04:30 AM
Jack Blandiver 08 Apr 09 - 04:32 AM
GUEST,glueman 08 Apr 09 - 05:16 AM
GUEST, Sminky 08 Apr 09 - 05:57 AM
Phil Edwards 08 Apr 09 - 06:46 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 08 Apr 09 - 07:20 AM
Jack Blandiver 08 Apr 09 - 07:29 AM
TheSnail 08 Apr 09 - 07:31 AM
GUEST,glueman 08 Apr 09 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 08 Apr 09 - 08:13 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 08 Apr 09 - 08:22 AM
Phil Edwards 08 Apr 09 - 08:44 AM
GUEST,glueman 08 Apr 09 - 09:06 AM
Jack Blandiver 08 Apr 09 - 09:26 AM
John P 08 Apr 09 - 12:23 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 08 Apr 09 - 12:32 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 08 Apr 09 - 12:43 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Apr 09 - 02:40 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 08 Apr 09 - 04:36 PM
GUEST,glueman 08 Apr 09 - 04:54 PM
GUEST,glueman 08 Apr 09 - 04:56 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 08 Apr 09 - 05:24 PM
Phil Edwards 08 Apr 09 - 05:27 PM
GUEST,glueman 08 Apr 09 - 05:40 PM
John P 08 Apr 09 - 05:44 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Apr 09 - 06:13 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Apr 09 - 06:16 PM
Jack Blandiver 09 Apr 09 - 04:27 AM
Jack Blandiver 09 Apr 09 - 04:38 AM
Howard Jones 09 Apr 09 - 04:54 AM
Jack Blandiver 09 Apr 09 - 05:14 AM
Jack Blandiver 09 Apr 09 - 06:34 AM
Will Fly 09 Apr 09 - 07:15 AM
Jack Blandiver 09 Apr 09 - 07:49 AM
Phil Edwards 09 Apr 09 - 08:16 AM
Phil Edwards 09 Apr 09 - 08:18 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Apr 09 - 09:44 AM
GUEST, Sminky 09 Apr 09 - 09:52 AM
TheSnail 09 Apr 09 - 10:05 AM
Jack Blandiver 09 Apr 09 - 10:58 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Apr 09 - 11:15 AM
Rifleman (inactive) 09 Apr 09 - 12:12 PM
Jim Carroll 09 Apr 09 - 12:34 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 09 Apr 09 - 12:50 PM
Jim Carroll 09 Apr 09 - 01:16 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 09 Apr 09 - 03:05 PM
Jim Carroll 09 Apr 09 - 03:06 PM
Howard Jones 09 Apr 09 - 03:25 PM
GUEST,glueman 09 Apr 09 - 03:37 PM
Don Firth 09 Apr 09 - 03:45 PM
Jim Carroll 09 Apr 09 - 05:33 PM
Howard Jones 09 Apr 09 - 07:23 PM
TheSnail 09 Apr 09 - 07:48 PM
Phil Edwards 09 Apr 09 - 08:04 PM
TheSnail 09 Apr 09 - 08:14 PM
Jim Carroll 10 Apr 09 - 04:08 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 10 Apr 09 - 04:49 AM
GUEST,glueman 10 Apr 09 - 05:04 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Apr 09 - 05:30 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 10 Apr 09 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,glueman 10 Apr 09 - 05:58 AM
Spleen Cringe 10 Apr 09 - 07:04 AM
Spleen Cringe 10 Apr 09 - 10:42 AM
John P 10 Apr 09 - 12:31 PM
GUEST,glueman 10 Apr 09 - 01:07 PM
Jim Carroll 10 Apr 09 - 01:08 PM
Phil Edwards 10 Apr 09 - 01:39 PM
GUEST,glueman 10 Apr 09 - 01:50 PM
Goose Gander 10 Apr 09 - 02:06 PM
John P 10 Apr 09 - 02:26 PM
Jim Carroll 10 Apr 09 - 02:28 PM
GUEST,glueman 10 Apr 09 - 02:31 PM
Goose Gander 10 Apr 09 - 02:37 PM
GUEST,glueman 10 Apr 09 - 02:45 PM
Goose Gander 10 Apr 09 - 03:13 PM
Darowyn 10 Apr 09 - 03:24 PM
GUEST,glueman 10 Apr 09 - 03:25 PM
John P 10 Apr 09 - 03:39 PM
Spleen Cringe 10 Apr 09 - 03:48 PM
GUEST,glueman 10 Apr 09 - 04:08 PM
Jack Blandiver 10 Apr 09 - 04:12 PM
Jim Carroll 10 Apr 09 - 04:28 PM
GUEST,glueman 10 Apr 09 - 06:57 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Apr 09 - 03:08 AM
Darowyn 11 Apr 09 - 03:46 AM
GUEST,glueman 11 Apr 09 - 03:59 AM
Jack Blandiver 11 Apr 09 - 04:04 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Apr 09 - 04:24 AM
Jack Blandiver 11 Apr 09 - 04:44 AM
Spleen Cringe 11 Apr 09 - 05:13 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Apr 09 - 05:29 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Apr 09 - 05:32 AM
GUEST,glueman 11 Apr 09 - 05:41 AM
Phil Edwards 11 Apr 09 - 05:51 AM
Jack Blandiver 11 Apr 09 - 06:37 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Apr 09 - 07:05 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Apr 09 - 09:45 AM
Rifleman (inactive) 11 Apr 09 - 12:44 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Apr 09 - 01:01 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 11 Apr 09 - 02:11 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Apr 09 - 02:14 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 11 Apr 09 - 02:25 PM
Jack Blandiver 11 Apr 09 - 03:34 PM
Phil Edwards 11 Apr 09 - 04:31 PM
Jack Blandiver 11 Apr 09 - 04:44 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Apr 09 - 04:13 AM
GUEST,glueman 12 Apr 09 - 04:43 AM
Jack Blandiver 12 Apr 09 - 05:12 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Apr 09 - 03:09 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Apr 09 - 03:26 PM
GUEST,glueman 12 Apr 09 - 03:31 PM
Don Firth 12 Apr 09 - 04:19 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Apr 09 - 03:17 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 13 Apr 09 - 04:10 AM
Jack Blandiver 13 Apr 09 - 04:32 AM
GUEST,glueman 13 Apr 09 - 04:35 AM
Phil Edwards 13 Apr 09 - 04:50 AM
Jack Blandiver 13 Apr 09 - 05:48 AM
GUEST 13 Apr 09 - 06:55 AM
GUEST 13 Apr 09 - 07:11 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 13 Apr 09 - 08:01 AM
Jack Blandiver 13 Apr 09 - 08:02 AM
Jack Blandiver 13 Apr 09 - 08:03 AM
GUEST,glueman 13 Apr 09 - 08:20 AM
GUEST,Strippers Routines 13 Apr 09 - 10:33 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 13 Apr 09 - 12:00 PM
Goose Gander 13 Apr 09 - 12:15 PM
GUEST,glueman 13 Apr 09 - 12:26 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Apr 09 - 01:11 PM
Don Firth 13 Apr 09 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,glueman 13 Apr 09 - 01:25 PM
TheSnail 13 Apr 09 - 01:38 PM
Jack Blandiver 13 Apr 09 - 03:35 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Apr 09 - 03:42 PM
Jack Blandiver 13 Apr 09 - 03:54 PM
Don Firth 13 Apr 09 - 04:22 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 13 Apr 09 - 04:49 PM
Phil Edwards 13 Apr 09 - 05:04 PM
GUEST,glueman 13 Apr 09 - 05:33 PM
Jack Blandiver 13 Apr 09 - 05:56 PM
Goose Gander 13 Apr 09 - 06:45 PM
Goose Gander 13 Apr 09 - 06:47 PM
GUEST,glueman 13 Apr 09 - 06:50 PM
Goose Gander 13 Apr 09 - 06:55 PM
Don Firth 13 Apr 09 - 07:16 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Apr 09 - 03:20 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Apr 09 - 03:40 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Apr 09 - 03:56 AM
GUEST,glueman 14 Apr 09 - 04:00 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Apr 09 - 04:03 AM
Howard Jones 14 Apr 09 - 04:31 AM
GUEST,glueman 14 Apr 09 - 04:56 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Apr 09 - 05:16 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 14 Apr 09 - 05:19 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 14 Apr 09 - 06:40 AM
GUEST,glueman 14 Apr 09 - 06:44 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Apr 09 - 07:08 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Apr 09 - 07:19 AM
Sailor Ron 14 Apr 09 - 07:49 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Apr 09 - 07:58 AM
Phil Edwards 14 Apr 09 - 08:47 AM
GUEST,glueman 14 Apr 09 - 09:19 AM
Phil Edwards 14 Apr 09 - 10:28 AM
TheSnail 14 Apr 09 - 11:10 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Apr 09 - 11:11 AM
GUEST,glueman 14 Apr 09 - 11:17 AM
George Papavgeris 14 Apr 09 - 11:19 AM
GUEST,glueman 14 Apr 09 - 11:36 AM
Goose Gander 14 Apr 09 - 11:57 AM
Rifleman (inactive) 14 Apr 09 - 12:15 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Apr 09 - 12:16 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 14 Apr 09 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,glueman 14 Apr 09 - 12:38 PM
Goose Gander 14 Apr 09 - 01:04 PM
TheSnail 14 Apr 09 - 01:16 PM
GUEST,glueman 14 Apr 09 - 01:33 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Apr 09 - 01:34 PM
Goose Gander 14 Apr 09 - 01:59 PM
Phil Edwards 14 Apr 09 - 02:01 PM
GUEST,glueman 14 Apr 09 - 02:16 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Apr 09 - 02:35 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Apr 09 - 03:20 PM
GUEST,glueman 14 Apr 09 - 03:51 PM
GUEST,glueman 14 Apr 09 - 04:05 PM
GUEST,glueman 14 Apr 09 - 04:08 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Apr 09 - 04:59 PM
M.Ted 14 Apr 09 - 08:29 PM
TheSnail 14 Apr 09 - 08:59 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Apr 09 - 03:59 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 15 Apr 09 - 04:19 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Apr 09 - 04:24 AM
Jack Blandiver 15 Apr 09 - 04:35 AM
Jack Blandiver 15 Apr 09 - 04:52 AM
Phil Edwards 15 Apr 09 - 05:24 AM
Jack Blandiver 15 Apr 09 - 06:34 AM
Jack Blandiver 15 Apr 09 - 06:54 AM
GUEST 15 Apr 09 - 07:00 AM
GUEST 15 Apr 09 - 07:11 AM
Jack Blandiver 15 Apr 09 - 07:20 AM
Phil Edwards 15 Apr 09 - 07:54 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Apr 09 - 08:17 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Apr 09 - 08:23 AM
Howard Jones 15 Apr 09 - 08:37 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Apr 09 - 10:04 AM
Jack Blandiver 15 Apr 09 - 10:13 AM
Jack Blandiver 15 Apr 09 - 10:22 AM
John P 15 Apr 09 - 10:22 AM
TheSnail 15 Apr 09 - 10:36 AM
Jack Blandiver 15 Apr 09 - 10:37 AM
GUEST,glueman 15 Apr 09 - 10:46 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Apr 09 - 10:48 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Apr 09 - 11:18 AM
Phil Edwards 15 Apr 09 - 12:00 PM
Jack Blandiver 15 Apr 09 - 12:19 PM
John P 15 Apr 09 - 12:23 PM
Jack Blandiver 15 Apr 09 - 12:36 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 15 Apr 09 - 12:54 PM
Jack Blandiver 15 Apr 09 - 01:02 PM
Goose Gander 15 Apr 09 - 01:03 PM
GUEST,glueman 15 Apr 09 - 01:36 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 15 Apr 09 - 01:43 PM
John P 15 Apr 09 - 01:44 PM
Phil Edwards 15 Apr 09 - 02:36 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Apr 09 - 02:43 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 15 Apr 09 - 02:55 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 15 Apr 09 - 02:57 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 15 Apr 09 - 03:07 PM
TheSnail 15 Apr 09 - 03:28 PM
Don Firth 15 Apr 09 - 03:50 PM
John P 15 Apr 09 - 04:01 PM
Jack Blandiver 15 Apr 09 - 04:18 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Apr 09 - 04:44 PM
Jack Blandiver 15 Apr 09 - 04:54 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Apr 09 - 05:06 PM
Jack Blandiver 15 Apr 09 - 05:22 PM
GUEST,Peace 15 Apr 09 - 05:43 PM
Phil Edwards 15 Apr 09 - 05:51 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 15 Apr 09 - 06:35 PM
John P 15 Apr 09 - 06:44 PM
Howard Jones 15 Apr 09 - 06:54 PM
John P 15 Apr 09 - 10:02 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Apr 09 - 03:30 AM
Jack Blandiver 16 Apr 09 - 04:27 AM
Howard Jones 16 Apr 09 - 04:54 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Apr 09 - 05:11 AM
Jack Blandiver 16 Apr 09 - 06:47 AM
Jack Blandiver 16 Apr 09 - 06:50 AM
Jack Blandiver 16 Apr 09 - 07:18 AM
Howard Jones 16 Apr 09 - 09:11 AM
John P 16 Apr 09 - 10:30 AM
John P 16 Apr 09 - 10:54 AM
Sailor Ron 16 Apr 09 - 11:44 AM
Goose Gander 16 Apr 09 - 11:48 AM
Rifleman (inactive) 16 Apr 09 - 12:12 PM
Jack Blandiver 16 Apr 09 - 12:14 PM
Jack Blandiver 16 Apr 09 - 12:27 PM
Goose Gander 16 Apr 09 - 12:39 PM
The Sandman 16 Apr 09 - 01:37 PM
TheSnail 16 Apr 09 - 01:46 PM
High Hopes (inactive) 16 Apr 09 - 01:47 PM
Jack Blandiver 16 Apr 09 - 02:21 PM
Goose Gander 16 Apr 09 - 02:38 PM
John P 16 Apr 09 - 02:44 PM
Jack Blandiver 16 Apr 09 - 03:07 PM
John P 16 Apr 09 - 03:29 PM
Howard Jones 16 Apr 09 - 05:21 PM
Jack Blandiver 16 Apr 09 - 05:36 PM
Howard Jones 16 Apr 09 - 06:06 PM
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Subject: 1954 and All That
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 11:17 AM

Further to what is currently going down on the What Makes it a Folk Song? thread, I'm opening this up specifically to discuss what relevance, if any, the 1954 definition has to do with what actually happens in the name of Folk in 2009.

The 1954 definition:

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.


My feeling is that a Folk Song is any song sung in a designated Folk Context. 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, a Victorian Parlour Ballad, a Musical Hall Song 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 a song a Folk Song is the context in which it is being sung and appreciated as such.

I don't believe there is anything in the 1954 definition to contradict this, although others obviously do, for reasons which haven't as yet become clear. Your thoughts & erudition in this respect would be most welcome. Likewise, if you will, your experience of what is actually being sung in The Name of Folk these day and how you feel this fits, or doesn't fit, with the 1954 definition.

Where is WLD when you need him?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 11:54 AM

I don't see any reason to change a word of "the 1954 definition" (by whom?) as you quote it.

Modern commercial pop has its place, and may in many instances (I'm being kind here) be good stuff. But the nature of folk music has to do with the live, continuously changeable nature of songs which live and are propagated by "just folks", and just because they like 'em, with (little or) no profit motive or official sanction.   

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 11:57 AM

Maud Karpeles, World Folk Music Council. And yes, she was obviously right.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That
From: John P
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 12:13 PM

I prefer a musical definition to a venue-based one. Traditional music sounds different than most newly composed music. As a musician, this is the only definition that makes sense to me. I generally like melodies that have been through the folk process more than I like melodies that haven't. Please note: I'm not saying I dislike all modern music; I like a lot of it and play a lot of it. I'm also not saying that I like something just because it's traditional -- there are thousands of dreadfully boring traditional songs and tunes. But it's pretty easy to tell the old melodies from the new ones. I consider them different genres of music.

All that said, I like a lot of melodies that have been written by folks who are very immersed in traditional music. If the melody sounds just like traditional music, I don't have any problem calling it a traditional tune. The living, on-going tradition and all that.

Something I've been having fun watching lately is the folk process taking place in my own playing. I sometimes purposely "fix" a song to make it make more sense to me, and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't as well. But I've had the opportunity lately to hear my source for tunes I've been doing for years. There's been an amazing amount of processing, totally unconsciously. These types of changes seem to sound more natural more consistently.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 12:20 PM

Okay, Sinister, so if I sing a folk song in my local opera house, that makes it an operatic aria?

That door swings both ways.

I'm with John P. on this.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 12:21 PM

"Maud Karpeles, World Folk Music Council. And yes, she was obviously right"

a personal opinion surely, so hardly objective


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That
From: Will Fly
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 12:22 PM

I've always worried over the 1954 definition ever since I first read it, not because it's obscure or ill-defined or wrong, but because of the "known-ness" or "unkown-ness" of the historical process for any individual song.

For example, if the origins of a particular song, which has little variation in it and which has been supposed to have been "absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community", are - for whatever reason - made clear, does that change it from folk music into something else? Does the discovery of the original manuscript of the song - say - suddenly put into perspective as something else?

I'm not trying to be trivial or nitpick here, but to indicate that, from one viewpoint to another there are many shades of grey. And do we say that, by definition, all folk music ceased to be such the moment it was written down, recorded and fixed in time and space.

And I've always thought - as I indicated in a thread to that purpose some time ago - that the definition seems limited to songs and words, and that, the moment you consider tunes, a haze spreads everywhere. To Carolan or not to Carolan - that is the question?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That
From: curmudgeon
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 12:51 PM

"...a personal opinion surely, so hardly objective"

Maybe, but an opinion from one withar greater knowledge and understanding of the subject than most of the prattlers posting here.

Consider the term, "expert opinion" - Tom


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 01:02 PM

There's a proliferation of threads on this topic, and it's getting a little much.
Active today, we have
    1954 and all that
    What Makes it a Folk song
    What is a traditional singer
    Trad Song
    Steps in the folk process

Our usual policy is to have one thread active at a time on any given subject. In the future, try to continue discussions in a single thread and refrain from creating such a plethora of threads. It splits and confuses and duplicates the discussion when you do that.
"1954 and all that" doesn't fit our requirement for clarity in thread titles. I'm going to add something for clarity.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That
From: curmudgeon
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 01:03 PM

Thanks, Joe - Tom


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 01:11 PM

I've yet to see anything written here that would convince me that the so-called 1954 definition is right in any way shape or form.

It's an arguement that will never be settled one way or the other

and you're right, there are way to many prattlers on these threads.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 01:13 PM

The 1954 definition is open to interpretation depending on how you look at it. I think it opens to door for our current crop of singer-songwriters.

If anyone needs a defintion to justify folk music, it isn't worth listening to.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 01:34 PM

"We just sing for the joy of singing. We love to sing these songs, and see the people join in and the atmosphere it creates."

- Bob Copper. 2002


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 01:49 PM

Okay, Sinister, so if I sing a folk song in my local opera house, that makes it an operatic aria?

That door swings both ways.


As I said, an Operatic Aria becomes a Folk Song in a folk context. So if any song can become a Folk Song, what you should be asking is, can any song become an Operatic Aria if sung in an Operatic context? To which the answer is, undoubtedly, yes, with some considerable evidence.

Otherwise:

As for what makes a Traditional Song, the lines are clearer with respect of a canon of 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, Rock Songs, Wyrd-Folk Songs, Jazz Songs, or Pop Songs. Anything is possible with a Traditional Song - but the song, essentially, remains the same, whatever the context.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Amos
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 02:44 PM

But really....what IS folk music????


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 02:51 PM

Music sung by the folk I suppose.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 03:07 PM

WLD,has left the forum.I cant say I blame him.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 03:07 PM

Oh shit, here come the horses. I'm gone.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 03:11 PM

More like "here comes the horseshit". Yet another thread designed only to flame.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 03:19 PM

Where's my parachute. . . ?   Oh, hell, just open the door!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 03:21 PM

Could someone please define "community" in the context of the definition? Exactly who is the community?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 03:27 PM

In all honesty I simply can't take this 1954 definition of what is folk music very seriously at all, nor the people that support it. I simply play the music for the love of it, that's why I got into the whole trad scene in the first place, just to have some fun. It really is that simple.

Community? Of that I have absolutely no idea at all.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 03:50 PM

Try defining "definition"

It boggles the mind why so many people enjoy fighting about a definition- and the discussion is usually brought up with full knowledge that no one will agree, and that any contrary opinion will automatically be considered wrong. Most people refuse to see a middle ground.

You can subtitle this - "When Altercockers Roamed the Earth"


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 03:52 PM

For better or worse, the "Ellis Island Syndrome" has its way with music in much the same way it did with people whose names were altered when they arrived here. We have, in this country (US) and, I'm sure, elsewhere a tendency to make things more understandable by filtering them through our peculiar experiences and expectations. When a piece of music gets to us from abroad, the language may seem stilted or difficult to manage for whatever reason, so we amend it to fit our needs. Sometimes it improves, sometimes it bastardizes, but, it is certainly effective. I suppose that this is a part of what we call the "folk process" too.

On another front, take any song with which you have enjoyed success and which you are repeatedly asked to perform. How many times have you varied the song if for no other reason than avoiding boredom?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 03:54 PM

Will Fly commented/asked:

And do we say that, by definition, all folk music ceased to be such the moment it was written down, recorded and fixed in time and space.

It depends on the result of the writing down or recording, and whether the song is in effect "fixed" thereafter. There has been a good deal of discussion on just this subject on Ballad-L recently (surprise!), and focusing on "Red River Valley". Most posters agreed (as I read it) that "Red River Valley" has become pretty much fixed in form, so that to that extent it's no longer alive and developing. It was a folk song, and is deserving of study on that account today, along with its earlier forms, but if it's fixed, no longer changing, it's no longer a live folk song. That is not to say that it won't at some time come back to life, although I personally tend to doubt that will happen.

On the other hand, quite a few folk or traditional songs, after publishing in print or recording, live on in the tradition and continue to change in parallel with the fixed, published version, and may indeed outlive the fixed form.

Someone on Ballad-L made the wise (I think) observation that the traditional nature of a piece of music or folk song is more a matter of process than of content. The judgment in that case should be whether the given piece develops and changes on its way through the minds, mouths, and fingers of "the folk". If a song (either the words or the music)--say through mondegreens, parody, singers' PC editing of words, or narrative recasting in some way--changes, and keeps changing, then that's a sure sign that it's part of the folk process.

If such a song is found to have been fixed as given in some published form (like RRV, above), and no further change takes place because people only know or remember or only approve of the "official" form, then it's not "in the tradition" any more. To put it another way, "tradition" is not a heavy hand, holding subsequent practitioners to the way things used to be, but rather a live arena for changing and developing both songs and instrumental music.

A song which began, say, in the 16th Century and still is around, being sung today, has been through the hands and minds of thousands of "editors" on its way to today, who may have improved it, may have harmed it, but assuredly have changed it over that time. A new song, however meritorious, which has not had the chance to run that gantlet of "editors" and the resultant change, can't, I don't believe, be considered "folk music" or "traditional music".

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: John P
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 04:40 PM

I've actually started using the term "ethnic folk" to try to describe what we play. "Folk music" has come to mean pretty much anything, and "traditional folk" makes peoples' eyes glaze over, expecting dead boring performances by socially inept fuddy-duddies.

By the way, I don't care much about defining folk music as a part of my playing. Like most people, I play what I like and introduce it as seems appropriate to the situation. My only interest in definitions is so we can actually talk about the music. If we want to do away with definitions, we'll end up with classical, rap, and country western all in the same bin at the record store, and audiences that don't have any idea what they are in for when they go out to hear music.

Any musician who can't hear the difference between a traditional melody and a contemporary melody isn't paying attention.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Stringsinger
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 04:57 PM

Has the song survived the test of time?

Does it reflect a specific cultural milieu?

Are the many variants of the song?

Has the song been collected from a traditional source?

Is it accessible so that it can be learned more easily than an art, show or jazz song?

Has it been sung by many people who sometime change it along the way?

Usually, a folk song comes from an isolated community, most often rural.

A song can be written in a folk-style.

If you can copyright it, it probably isn't a real folk song although many folk song collectors have attempted to copyright public domain material. This was done
a lot in the Sixties.

General popularity of a song doesn't make it a folk song. If you don't believe that,
attempt to take a popular song and change it without eventually getting sued.

This is the flaw in thinking about ASCAP, BMI and commercially licensed songs, they are not part of the folk process of change and variation. This is what separates the folk song
from a commercial product whereby the author/composer receives compensation
for the use of the song.

In time, a commercially written song may become a folk song if the author/composer
is forgotten and the song changes with many variants.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 05:36 PM

More like "here comes the horseshit". Yet another thread designed only to flame.

If you'd bother read the OP, you'd see that this thread was designed to consider Folk Music in relation to what actually happens in designated Folk Contexts. What I'm proposing here is an inclusive definition of Folk Music based on the empirical evidence.

On an average night in our Folk Club (see HERE) we might hear Blues, Shanties, Kipling, Cicely Fox Smith, Musical Hall, George Formby, Pop, County, Dylan, Cohen, Cash, Medieval Latin, Beatles, Irish Jigs and Reels, Scottish Strathspeys, Gospel, Rock, Classical Guitar, Native American Chants, Operatic Arias and even the occasional Traditional Song and Ballad. We once had a floor singer who, in his own words, sang his own composition which he introduced with the Zen-like "...this is a folk song about rock 'n' roll...".

It all goes down am absolute storm, warmly welcomed and appreciated, irrespective of ability (don't worry, I'm not about raise any GEFF Ghosts here, even though I feel half the charm is in the shortfall between intention & result) and I'm sure we're not alone is this - a Folk Club being a place where people come to do pretty much what they like, but it remains, somehow Folk Music.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 08:21 PM

What I'm proposing here is an inclusive definition of Folk Music based on the empirical evidence.

I don't think you're proposing a definition at all, unless it's "Everything that's ever been heard (and enjoyed) by someone who went out that evening expecting to hear something called folk music".

I'm in two minds. I do like folk clubs - something happens there which is worth celebrating, even if you do sometimes end up listening to acoustic renditions of the works of Robbie Williams or heartfelt laments for the passing of apartheid. But I like traditional music more, and I think most folk clubs could benefit from putting on more of it.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Howard Jones
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 08:51 PM

WTF is a "designated folk context"? Who is doing the designating? Or does it mean a place where folk music is performed? In which case, the OP's definition of a folk song is taking us around in circles.

If "folk song" means anything, it must mean traditional song, and the 1954 definition is as good an attempt at pinning that down as I've seen. All sorts of other music may be accepted in folk clubs (although that varies) but usually what determines its acceptability is the style of performance - if it's performed in a "folk style", whatever the origin, you'll probably get away with it. But they're not folk songs.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 09:54 PM

If I were to come to a folk club (presumably a "designated folk context") and sing "La Donna e Mobilé" from Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto, even if I accompanied it on my guitar, or sang it unaccompanied with my hand cupped over my ear, I don't think very many people would nod vigorously if I proclaimed it to be a folk song.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 20 Mar 09 - 10:39 PM

"If you'd bother read the OP, you'd see that this thread was designed to consider Folk Music in relation to what actually happens in designated Folk Contexts. What I'm proposing here is an inclusive definition of Folk Music based on the empirical evidence. "

...or, as I said, another thread designed only to flame.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 04:45 AM

Don't have too much time to be involved at present - we've just been offered the possibility of publishing some of our field work, including a collection of Irish Travellers songs, which we will probably call (somewhat unimaginatively) 'Folk Songs Of The Irish Travellers'.
In the meantime, a clarification.
If the 1954 definition was 'just an opinion' it was one based on extensive work carried out on the subject, largely by Cecil Sharp, the result of which was published in his 'English Folk Song, Some Conclusions'. The definition was certainly not the brainchild of one person, Maud Karpeles or whoever, but was finally arrived at by a gathering of people, also experienced in the subject, at 7th Conference of The International Folk Music Council at Sao Paulo in 1954 and was written up by 'Auntie Maud' in their journal the following year.
Let's not foul up any discussion with distortions and misinformation so early in the proceedings - there will be plenty of time for that later.
Whatever is 'decided', ie, whatever 'opinions' are expressed here, life will go on as normal elsewhere.
The term 'folk song', more or less coinciding with the details of the 1954 definition has been in use for over a century (see DK Wilgus's 'Anglo-American Folksong Scholarship Since 1898'), and in the field of anthology and research this continues to be the case. Over the last few years I have availed myself of 'A History of European Folk Music' (pub. 1997), the 8th and final volume of 'The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection (2002), 'Folk Song - Tradition, Revival and Recreation' (2004), and 'Folk In Print - Scotland's Chapbook Heritage' (2007).
Whatever happens to the folk revival in the future (I strongly believe that this has been in the balance for some time now), and whatever 'we few, we happy few, we band of brothers' decide what should be the 'correct' definition of the term 'folk', it is titles such as these which will survive as an account of folk music in the 20th and 21st century.
Let the games begin!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 04:47 AM

PS What is a 'designated folk context' and who gets to designate it?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Darowyn
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 05:08 AM

I think you would probably get away with "La Donna E Mobile" as long as you had an introductory verse explaining that you were walking out on a fine May morning (possibly in order to hear the small birds sing) when you happened to overhear a young Italian, and that these were the words he did say.....
I'm being flippant, but that is because I really do not care about the 1954 definition. It was a good try at the time, but just like folk songs, words are in the public domain and are used to mean what the public want them to mean, at that time. Words come and go and meanings change.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 05:33 AM

Designated Folk Contexts: Folk Club, Folk Festival, Singaround etc. Where Folkies gather.

If "folk song" means anything, it must mean traditional song,

No. A Traditional Song is a Traditional Song. A Folk Song, it would appear, can be pretty much anything (including a Traditional Song). This is based on 35 years of experience of folk clubs, sessions, festivals & singarounds.

But I like traditional music more, and I think most folk clubs could benefit from putting on more of it.

Me too, but that's evidently not the case. I'm trying to arrive at an appreciation, if not an actual definition of Folk Music (in particular Folk Song) based on the reality of the situation rather than any Traddy Ideal such as that set out by the 1954, which, as I've indicated elsewhere (see HERE is really too vague to be of any use whatsoever.

'Folk In Print - Scotland's Chapbook Heritage' (2007).

According to the 1954: "...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." So is The Chapbook Heritage a case of exceptions proving rules? Or is it a further indication of just how flabby, ill-considered and unrealistic the 1954 definition actually is?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 05:41 AM

...it is titles such as these which will survive as an account of folk music in the 20th and 21st century.

Just as when there are no birds left ornithologists will be glad of the books!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Howard Jones
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 05:49 AM

"According to the 1954: "...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." So is The Chapbook Heritage a case of exceptions proving rules? Or is it a further indication of just how flabby, ill-considered and unrealistic the 1954 definition actually is?"

I think too much can be made of this. An individual musician writing down a tune or a song as an aide memoire does not invalidate the idea of it being absorbed into a tradition. Other, different versions may still exist alongside. However if a published text is regarded as the definitive version, and referred to in order to ensure accuracy, then it is not a folk song.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Howard Jones
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 06:11 AM

Whilst the 1954 definition has its faults, it is a good attempt at defining a particular type of music which has special characteristics. Otherwise we are in horse territory.

It is true that the term "folk song" has come to have a wider meaning than this. However, defining a "folk song" as anything which can be heard in a folk club is not only too broad to have any meaning, it doesn't help with defining the popular usage. A pop song may be performed in a folk club, but it is still a pop song. It may have tbe potential to turn into a folk song, but only if it has started to show variations and absorption into a tradition; the obstacle to this is that the original definitive version is usually too widely known for this to easily happen.

For example, Swan Arcade used to do a stunning version of the Kinks' "Lola", which they regularly performed in "designated folk contexts". I don't think anyone, including those in the audience, would think of "Lola" as a folk song.

The problem with the OP's definition is that the audiences at "designated folk contexts" are actually usually fairly tolerant and will accept other genres of music, provided they are performed in a sympathetic way. So a pop song performed in a folk style may be accepted whereas a heavy metal version of a 1954-compliant folk song probably would not.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 06:31 AM

Jim Carroll

Don't have too much time to be involved at present - we've just been offered the possibility of publishing some of our field work, including a collection of Irish Travellers songs, which we will probably call (somewhat unimaginatively) 'Folk Songs Of The Irish Travellers'.

That is wonderful news, Jim. I'm so glad that you have overcome your instinct to "leave it on the shelf". It's obviously done you a power of good; the rest of that post is the most sensible and positive one from you that I have ever read.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 06:58 AM

"Designated Folk Contexts: Folk Club, Folk Festival, Singaround etc. Where Folkies gather."
You mean like the 7th Conference of the International Folk Music Council?
Is it really as arbitrary as that? If a folk club books a string quartet, does what they do automatically become 'folk' or do they have to fight for the title?
Howard just said it all regarding chap books, which were reportings of songs "which had already been absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community". The argument as to the effect of writing down songs dates back at least to Walter' Scott's time when he was repremanded by James Hogg's mother for destroying them "bt writing them down".
"Just as when there are no birds left ornithologists will be glad of the books!"
Not sure what this means - I do know that the folk scene lost at least three quarters of its participants when a clear definition of 'folk' was abandoned and audiences no longer knew what they would be listening to when they turned up at a folk club.
I get tired of repeating it, but here in Ireland the music, more-or-less in it's pure form, is thriving, youngsters are flocking to it in their thousands, music teachers are turning away wannabe players because they can't cope, archives and folk music resource centres are springing up like mushrooms and asking for grants for the music (up to the present economic crisis) is an exercise in pushing on open doors - (there/that/teeshirt) - the reason; no ambiguity on what the music is or where it stands culturally, historically and socially.
Jim Carroll
PS - If we can't define 'folk' clearly how can we define what is 'a folk way of singing'.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 07:00 AM

"leave it on the shelf"."
Bit misleading Bryan - as you well know our collection has been freely accessible to the general public for at least twenty years at the NSA and Irish Traditional Music Archive.
Keep it clean lads.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 07:09 AM

Jim, I am genuinely celebrating what seems to me to be a real change of attitude on your part. You have so much to contribute.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 07:39 AM

Thank you Bryan - despite my early-morning crankiness, I'm flattered.
As I said, it's no more than an offer at present, and very much dependent on whather we want to spend our declining years producing collections for what appear to us to be a rapidly declining audience for what little we have to offer.
Re 'designated folk contexts' - does this mean that a song sung at one club can be regarded as a 'folk song' and not at another?
Why do I keep expecting a dormouse to emerge from the teapot and a white rabbit to peer at his pocket watch and tell me he's late?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Howard Jones
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 08:25 AM

So, according to the OP:

A "folk song" is any song performed in a "designated folk context"
A designated folk context is anywhere where "folkies" gather
Presumably "folkies" are people who like folk songs.

We seem to be in a logic loop here.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 08:37 AM

"whather we want to spend our declining years producing collections for what appear to us to be a rapidly declining audience for what little we have to offer."

I was under the impression that folk and traditional arts was having something of a dramatic incline in interest, and especially amongst twenty-somethings. Which suggests to me, that it might in fact be a most serendipitous time to start dusting off those archives...?

As for expecting visits from white rabbits and suchlike, I'd take it easy on the laudenum there Jim... ;-)


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 08:49 AM

"Laudenum" - nothing so boring.
Jim


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 02:31 PM

Howard... a mobius strip, more like. There is no edge to fall off and so the discussion/argument whatever, never ends. See seventh circle of hell.

I already asked who the "community" is that distinguishes folk from other music. I have some really "impotent" questions to ask. Like:

Who the folk are you and who made you the final authority on the genre?

What are your folking qualifications?

Do you have any idea the kind of devisive havoc you have wreaked among well meaning folk?

Are you prepared to make amends by defining the genre in less woolly jumper terms?

Take that folking finger out of your ear. I am talking to you.


Sorry. Can't be too serious about this. I just want to sing and listen and learn. and I am tired of labels.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 04:09 PM

Virginia,
The devisive havoc already exists, largely due to the fact that folk clubs no longer do what it says on the tin.
I'm happy for you that you are happy with the way things are - some of us aren't and are prepared to spend time trying to do something about it.
Snide 'finger-in-ear' and 'wooly jumper' comments are as divisive as it gets.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 04:13 PM

"Sorry. Can't be too serious about this. I just want to sing and listen and learn. and I am tired of labels."

Well said Virginia!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 04:50 PM

"Are you prepared to make amends by defining the genre in less woolly jumper terms?"

Are you? Seriously - the only thing that keeps me coming back to these discussions, and stops me giving up on the 'folk' label altogether, is the lack of an alternative definition of 'folk'. You tell me: if you don't want 'folk' used to mean 'traditional', what do you think it should mean?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 05:11 PM

I'm not saying what Folk should be, I'm saying what it is. Thus do I differentiate it from Traditional, just I think of myself as a Traddy rather than a Folky, simply because of the utter nebulousness of the latter term.

My heart lifts at Jim's account of the state of play in Ireland, but things are very different over here. Now, instead of getting pissed off at the Folk / Trad disparity, or the state of play in the UK clubs, festivals etc. I've decided to operate on a far more inclusive understanding of what we think of as Folk, based, as I say, on the empirical evidence - on the reality of the situation and not on an ideal.

Folk is rather like Flotsam - just so many otherwise disparate diverse artefacts floating around in a particular context regardless of origin or eventual destination. It's all Flotsam.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 05:16 PM

We who live on Fantasy Island can define away as much as we like but the real 'folk' are much more democratic and will use the word 'folk' in its widest sense. To them just about everything that goes on in folk clubs and festivals is 'folk'. You can scream as much as you like, Knut, but the tide will still come in.

You need new terminology if you want to define things down to the last demi-semiquaver. Oh and you'll have to keep it very quiet otherwise the real folk will come along and nick it.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 05:24 PM

the real 'folk' are much more democratic and will use the word 'folk' in its widest sense. To them just about everything that goes on in folk clubs and festivals is 'folk'.

Yes Yes Yes!!!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 05:49 PM

A tomato is a product of a flowering plant that contains seeds. A botanist would classify it as a fruit, or actually a berry. Yet every supermarket continues to hide this fruit in the vegetable section.   

People who look for tomatos in the fruit aisle are going to be at a loss and they will never be able to make sauce again. This will bring an end to pasta and pizza as we know it.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 06:08 PM

"but things are very different over here."
I'm well aware of how things are over there; I spent 30 odd years singing at and helping run clubs there, that's why I still bother.
"but the real 'folk' are much more democratic and will use the word 'folk' in its widest sense."
The real folk don't give a toss and don't use the word in any sense. We never cross their minds and they certainly have no concept of what happens at clubs and festivals; that's why ball's in our court and why it's up to us to get it right - whatever right is. It certainly isn't junior schoolyard "finger-in-ear" name-calling.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 06:09 PM

The vast majority of the songs I sing are traditional songs and ballads.

But not all. I also do a few poems set to music (such as Byron's So We'll Go No More a-Roving, or Yeats's The Song of the Wandering Aengus, or James Joyce's Golden Hair [melody composed by a friend of mine], along with couple of songs from Shakespeare's plays?and so on. I don't try to pass these latter off as "folk songs." I tell my audiences what they are.

I try not to bill myself as a "folk singer." Other people usually do that for me. But I consider myself to be a singer-guitarist who sings a variety of songs and plays a bit of classical guitar, but the majority of the songs I sing are traditional songs and ballads; what most people refer to?or, at least, used to refer to?as "folk songs." I want people to know what I do so they can come to a performance with a fairly good idea of the kind of songs they're going to hear. I don't want people to come if they are expecting me to do a program of songs I have written, because (unlike many) I know my limitations and, although I write other things, I don't write songs.

I especially don't want them to stay away because they think they would be hearing songs written by me instead of hearing an evening of primarily traditional material.

Likewise, I don't want to go to a concert or other venue where the performer is billed as a "folk singer" expecting to hear traditional folk songs and ballads, and instead I hear only songs that he or she wrote, with nary a traditional song or ballad all evening.

I will, however, go to a performance by a singer-songwriter whose songs I like.

I do not want to go to an open mike which, I am told, is devoted to folk music, and be told that I can't sing because they want only singer-songwriters.

Time was when if someone says to me, "I hear you are a singer. What kind of songs do you sing?" I could respond that I sing folk songs, and that person then has a fairly good idea of what I do. If that same conversation occurs now, they haven't a clue as to what I sing.

Likewise, I don't like pop a couple of pieces of bread in the toaster, then open a jar of orange marmalade (according to the label) and find it's actually a jar of gherkins.

Clear?

Don Firth

P. S. Also posted on the other thread currently running.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 07:45 PM

People who look for tomatos in the fruit aisle are going to be at a loss and they will never be able to make sauce again.

I, like millions of others, would define a tomato according its culinary usage rather than its botanic taxonomy. So, being pragmatists rather than pedants, we look for them in the vegetable aisle. Is there anyone who would object to this I wonder? The sad thing is, I bet there are...


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 07:53 PM

I'm with you 100% Sinister.

Everyone knows a tomato and as long as it tastes good and we know where to find it, there is no problem at all - no matter what a botanist may say.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 08:02 PM

Or...

I, like [dozens] of others, would define [Folk Music] according its [context] rather than [the 1954 definition]. So, being pragmatists rather than pedants, we look for [it] in [designated folk contexts].


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Betsy
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 08:40 PM

It's all in your own heads - if you agree with parameters of 1954, a definition which was written when times were different - i.e. no wide - scale Tele (in the UK ), no mass media etc.etc. then you limit yourselves.
Stop beating our selves-up. We're all old enough to know whether we as individuals consider The Wild Rover , or Streets of London is a folk song - it's in our own minds.
I personally, would be happy never again to play either song again in my lifetime , however in those family , friendly gatherings, which one attends from time to to , some arsehole always expects because I am a "folksinger" and I have them both complete wit Kumbaya -which they learned at Scout camp or the female version of it.
Bad examples you might say , but, I know of plenty of people who have been put off Folk music for life by a badly rendered Watercress-o.
Just enjoy it and stop putting fucking labels on it .


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 08:43 PM

In short, deuces wild. And every other card wild.

Why don't we go into the grocery store and peel the labels off everything?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Betsy
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 09:07 PM

Hiya Don ,as someone once said "two countries divided by a common language " - I don't know what to deduce by your comment.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 09:56 PM

Don - your analogy does not work.

Food is something you taste, smell and see. Music is something you hear. Either one can be packaged with a label, but it really doesn't matter until you experience the product.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 11:22 PM

Actually, Betsy, we cross-posted. My comment was in response to Sinister Supporter's.

And I'm sorry, Ron, but my comment is right on the money. When the concert poster or flier or record label or song book says "Folk Music," that's packaging and labelling.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 12:04 AM

If the poster, flier or record label does not say "folk music", would that change the contents? Do you honestly rely so much on a label that you could not tell if you are holding a tomato or a lemon?

Sorry, your analogy is not cutting it. You are relying on a crutch that is not required.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 12:45 AM

Ron, I don't think you're really so obtuse that you actually don't understand what I'm saying. When you tell me that you have steaks for sale, and I plunk down my money, you can't really blame me for getting a bit ticked if you hand me a wad of tofu. Is that so difficult to grasp?

It's past my bedtime. I'm going to bed.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 01:56 AM

Why go by the "1954 definition" when we can go by 19th century definitions? Isn't older better?

No, older is not necessarily better. Such heavily loaded terms vary in their definitions at different times. If "folk" didn't even exist in such usage before the 19th century, how can we feel so positive about its "correct" definition? What did they call the same phenomena before the advent of the term "folk"? And does anyone else feel uncomfortable with the fact that the term emerged hand in hand with certain notions of nationalism, the flipside of which is often ethnocentrism? These were the connotations of folk /volk from the late 19th century, the idea that there were discreet, "pure" ethnic ("national") communities which produced distinctive material culture through which their character could be known and through which, materially, "us" could be defined in distinction to "others."

Moving forward, how could we seriously trust a Cecil Sharp-era concept of "folk"? Didn't nationalism drive his work, as he pursued a notion of what was "English" through ascribing a repertoire of songs.
Let's say Karpeles was the next wave, but she inherited Sharp's legacy. These were people that had recently witnessed surges of industrialization which they feared were a threat to the "purity" of xyz nationalities. "Folk" in many ways meant to covey that which was.
The continued process of industrialization, mass media, and...most effectively....globalization forced people to rethink such quaint concepts. Anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, other theorists etc etc have surely redefined "folk" may times since the 1950s. And one cannot say that, oh well, they are academics whose ideas have not application to how we perceive "folk" on the ground...because the original idea of "folk" is an academic concept. (There seems to be a bit of double-standard in these discussions where academics are simultaneously disregarded as irrelevant while also cited as authorities.)

Gibb


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Amos
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 03:31 AM

Define the air and the wind; define song and merriness of the heart. Define love. Leave folk music alone.


A


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Albertos
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 04:20 AM

When I read threads like this I realise what a bunch of wankers a lot of folkies are. They can't even begin to understand music if they have to have a "definition" supposedly published by some unknown collection of self ordained tosspots. Music is music wake up and smell the cocoa!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Howard Jones
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 04:26 AM

It occurs to me that there are two quite separate issues here. One is the meaning of "folk song", and the other is an attempt to define "folk" as a musical genre, mainly from a UK/US perspective. The two are quite different.

Folk music (traditional music if you prefer) is unique in that it shows a process of evolution. All songs, even folk songs, must have been composed by someone, however folk songs have been passed on and changed by generations of singers. That makes them different from "literary" compositions which continue to be played more or less as written.

The 1954 definition tells about this evolutionary process. It tells us nothing of the music itself. A 1954-compliant folk song from Indonesia sounds quite different from one from Britain or America.

The second definition is aesthetic - a musical genre as characterised by a certain sound. Music genres are identified by their characteristics - a certain musical structure, use of certain instruments. The trouble is, these characteristics are very difficult to put down in words and in any event are only guidelines rather than strict rules.

So, within "folk" in this sense, we have 1954 traditional music; we also have (like it or not) a range of other music, whose only unifying characteristic appears to be that it is usually acoustic, and it is trying to set boundaries to this range which presents so many problems. I think we all have a general idea what it means, it is applying it to specific examples which is difficult. But this is the point that Jim Carroll and Don Firth, for example, are making - that if you go to a "designated folk context" you should be able to know in advance what to expect. It is too much to ask now that it should be exclusively 1954 folk - with a few exceptions, hardly any folk clubs since the 1960s ever adopted that approach - but I agree that it should at the very least be based around that style of music.

The OP's suggestion that folk music is anything played in a "folk context" doesn't work - firstly, the logic is self-referring ( as I pointed out in a previous post) and secondly because different folk venues have different policies - some are strictly traditional, some are "anything goes". If you accept the "anything goes" approach then what is the point of trying to define it?

I suggest this test: if you were to put on a concert entirely made up of the type of music being offered, would you market it as "folk" and would you expect it to please a largely "folkie" audience? So, if someone wants to perform a Buddy Holly song, or a Robbie Williams song, or a Beatles song, at a folk club, ask yourself, "would I bill an entire evening of this material as 'folk'"?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: DMcG
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 04:33 AM

I detect traces of what I've heard called "violent agreement" in this thread. What seems to be being confused is why anyone wants a definition. About half the people on this thread seem to object to the idea, and they want to be free to sing anything they like. I don't think anyone disagrees with that, actually, when it outside a context where other people are paying to hear you. But the other half are saying that they want a definition so that before hearing anything or knowing anything about the singer, they can make some sort of prediction of what they might hear. And this is useful because it enables them to decide whether or not to go to a certain club, or buy a CD speculatively and so on. I cannot believe anyone on this thread thinks it a good idea that you can never make such predictions beforehand.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 04:36 AM

Why is it that whenever a subject like this comes up - bang - sound of breaking door and in comes the heavy mob telling me what I should and should not be discussing. This will be the 'Folk Police' everybody talks about I presume (maybe they've opened a special 'forum protection branch' to make sure we don't disturb the little niche they've constructed for themselves on the ruins of what used to be a thriving and healthy scene where at one time I could go and listen to ballads (some of them even more than 2 minutes long) and shanties and bothy songs and bawdy pieces and all the other things it used to be worth leaving a warm television for).
If I drive across the county to visit a 'folk club' I've just read about and some burke gets up and sings American Pie, and another mutters something private enough to be unintelligable into his armpit, and another stumbles his or her way through something I vaguely recognise but I can't quite make out the tune or the words (which they are reading from a sheet of Andrex) and are not projecting loud enough to quite reach the third row, and, as they have forgotten their glasses they have to ask the audience what the next line is......... what do I do - suffer in silence and stay at home next time I see the word 'folk' advertised in the '''entertainment''' columns?
That's what I, and thousands like me did - we left the clubs to wallow in the shite-holes they'd been turned into by the 'anything goes merchants'?
Sorry - I'd rather try to win back a little of what we had before the tat-purveyors moved in:
a) Out of respect for the old singers I had the pleasure to meet and who gave me their songs, like Walter Pardon, who knew what folk music was and took the trouble to get it right before he stood up in front of an audience - and
b) So that others can experience a little of the enjoyment I had out of folk music before it was re- (or de-) defined.

"Just enjoy it and stop putting fucking labels on it"
Certainly ******* not; get back to Coronation Street and mind your own ******* business.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 05:34 AM

Howard Jones,
Sorry - didn't see your last posting.
I wish I'd said that - exactly what I mean.
Ditto D McG
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 06:05 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJhyDS_jd3I&feature=channel_page


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 06:44 AM

this is not folk music.the other Dick Miles
http://www.carlinamerica.com/titles/titles.cgi?MODULE=LYRICS&ID=905&terms=Co


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Betsy
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 06:50 AM

Thankyou Albertos - you made me chuckle.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 06:56 AM

Jim - sorry about the divisive comments. I don't know why I come into these threads. I guess because I want to learn. But I do not want to be scared away from something I have a passion for by academics. And I ceartainly do not want to be one who frightens new potential converts away.

Captain, - that is the kind of spine tingling beautiful I love hearing in sessions. It would be wonderful to attend sessions dedicated completely to "traditional folk". I hope I am naming it correctly. But it won't happen where I am.

I have to say that I also enjoy sessions which are mixed bag. And I fear that applying parameters to the label "folk" to only include the traditional song about the man of the field, ship, coalmine or woman at the loom, etc. limits the genre to a tiny blip that will eventually slip of the radar.

If "folk" were more inclusive, would it not draw more listeners and potetential performers who may delve deeper, learn more about its beginnings and keep the traditional stuff alive?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 07:19 AM

Thanks for My Son David, Dick - a masterful rendition & pretty much as I sing it myself (as learned from Thor Ewing, as learnt from Ewan McColl, as learnt from Jeanie Robertson).

*

...if "folk" were more inclusive, would it not draw more listeners and potetential performers who may delve deeper, learn more about its beginnings and keep the traditional stuff alive?

It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of that being the very case, although I doubt if anyone is ever tempted to delve deeper into the traditional stuff. And even if they were, this wouldn't be keeping it alive, because it died the death long ago (for my personal feelings on this see my blog The Liege, the Lief and the Traditional Folk Song, which collects some of my polemical musings from the sadly defunct Harvest Home forum, once affiliated to the sadly defunct Woven Wheat Whispers).

I say again, by defining folk as I have done throughout this thread, I'm not postulating an ideal, rather reflecting on the reality - obviously an uncomfortable reality for many of you, but a reality non the less. Have a listen to Folk On Two, or look to see who's performing at a Folk Festival Near You and see what I mean.

Folk is as it is, and I don't think a half dozen or so whining traddys is going to change that.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 08:23 AM

"I say again, by defining folk as I have done throughout this thread"
Different definition for each club, I seem to remember.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 08:43 AM

A lot of people use the term "folk music" in a way that does not fit the 1954 definition. I suspect that rather more use it that way than not.

There is absolutely nothing that anyone can do about it.

Make up your minds; what matters to you most, the music or the definition?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 09:03 AM

" I don't think you're really so obtuse that you actually don't understand what I'm saying. When you tell me that you have steaks for sale, and I plunk down my money, you can't really blame me for getting a bit ticked if you hand me a wad of tofu. Is that so difficult to grasp?"

Don't be so snotty Don, I am trying to have a reasonable discussion with you and explain why your analogy does not work.   

If you are handed tofu instead of steak, you know what you have been handed and your reaction is easy. When you ask for a steak, that is just the start. Do you want a porterhouse, t-bone, sirloin or something else? You might make an assumption that you want beef - but steaks can come from other animals and fish.    When you walk into a store, you do no ask for "folk music" and expect to know what the contents will be.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 10:39 AM

It's not a matter of if, it's a matter of that being the very case, although I doubt if anyone is ever tempted to delve deeper into the traditional stuff.
...
I say again, by defining folk as I have done throughout this thread, I'm not postulating an ideal, rather reflecting on the reality


But how are you defining folk, other than as "what you hear at a folk club"? We all know that the way the word 'folk' is used in practice has nothing to do with the 1954 definition. We know that's the reality; the question is what you think about that reality.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 11:16 AM

"Folk is as it is, and I don't think a half dozen or so whining traddys is going to change that."
I count something like 500 books on my shelf with my version of 'folk' as the subject - not bad for half a dozen whining traddys, don't you think?
How many do you have adhering to your non-version of the term?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 11:28 AM

Jim - I'm sure you are aware that there are at least 500 books that adhere to a broader definition of folk as well.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 11:40 AM

Ron - do you really think so? I'm sure there are at least 500 folk clubs that don't bother defining 'folk', but books?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 12:12 PM

I can point to several books on my shelf that relate the history of the folk revival and incorporate a broader definition than the 1954 interpretation. Of course, the 1954 definition is open to interpretation as well, it is just that some folks have a more finite set of standards. There is a danger when music is collected of losing the setting and standards that made it "folk" in the first place. Music is not meant to be put on a shelf and looked at.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 01:07 PM

"Music is not meant to be put on a shelf and looked at."
No, as a veteran club organiser and singer of some thirty years standing (and sitting), I totally agree; but with live folk music, just like books, it is nice to know where to look for it when you want it.
"I'm sure you are aware that there are at least 500 books that adhere to a broader definition of folk as well."
Have to admit I didn't know there were that many, but I can't think of one that sets down an alernative definition in black-and-white.
Was really responding to SS's half-a-dozen whining traddies snide.
One of my problems with all this is the insults to injury bit.
At the height of my folk-clubbing, while I always had one or two permanent clubs to go to, I always made a point of visiting as many others as possible, sometimes four or five times a week.
Gradually these prove so unsatisfactory that they dwindled down to my two regulars.
Not only was I listening to less and less 'folk proper' but quite often the standards were appalling in the terms of what the performers were doing.
We got pop wannabes who would have been booed off the stage of the back room of my local, music hall performers who couldn't manage a comic song if it would save them from imminent execution, and would-be opera singers who would make Florence Foster Jenkins sound like Maria Callas.
The folk scene was becoming a refuge for rejects who weren't good enough to make their way in their own chsoen forms - a cultural dustbin.
Clips I have been guided to on this forum convince me that nothing much has changed in this respect.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 01:23 PM

not bad for half a dozen whining traddys, don't you think?

Not bad at all - I'm sure there's maybe half that number passed through my hands too but what chances are of actual folk getting published or being bothered to adopt such an approach? Not very likely at all really.

We know that's the reality; the question is what you think about that reality.

Right now, sitting here listening to the newly remastered edition of Jordi Savall & Le Concert des Nations' 1993 recording of Handel's Water Music I really don't care that much to be honest. Music is so much bigger than what I think and I'm increasingly seeing it as a petty concern. The reality is so much greater than any ideal; as I said over on the other thread:

I like Folk as Flotsam* because, although a traddy, I like people - everyday people, coming to a folk club after a hard day's work in the fields (or on the cabs, the Job Centre, the hospital, the school, the building site, the ministry, or computer terminal) to sink a few pints and sing whatever they want to sing without someone telling them it isn't folk. This is where the Horse definition wins out, because it comes from the folks themselves, not the academics telling us how it ought to be, but obviously isn't.

Although a Traddy, I'm with the folks on this one; the academics can go fuck themselves. And that's not by way of 'anti-analytical primitivism' - just that the 1954 definition only works if you want it work, otherwise it's very much The Horseshit Definition and means nothing at all without being complicit in the sort of academic fantasising that gave rise to such nonsense in the first place.

Is Folk Music of the Folks or the Academics anyway? I know which I prefer.

* Folk is rather like Flotsam - just so many otherwise disparate diverse artefacts floating around in a particular context regardless of origin or eventual destination. It's all Flotsam.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 02:25 PM

Jim - read any of Ron Cohen's books such as "Rainbow Quest". You can also check Robert Cantwell's "When We Were Good", Dick Weissman's "Which Side Are You On", or Scott Alarik's writing. All recognize the influence of singer-songwriters through the ages.

At the same time, I do not think that any of them, nor would I, disagree with your definition of the traditional side of folk music.   I am not disagreeing with your desires for folk clubs. You should be entitled to program any style you like. The rest of the world should have the same opportunity and the contemporary definition of folk music has just as much right to claim title to the words.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Howard Jones
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 02:30 PM

"I like Folk as Flotsam* because, although a traddy, I like people - everyday people, coming to a folk club after a hard day's work in the fields (or on the cabs, the Job Centre, the hospital, the school, the building site, the ministry, or computer terminal) to sink a few pints and sing whatever they want to sing without someone telling them it isn't folk."

I don't think anyone would object to people getting together to sing whatever they like. What people are questioning is whether what you describe should be described as a folk club.

If I go to a jazz club, I expect to hear jazz. If I go to a Mozart concert, I expect to hear Mozart. Is it unreasonable to expect to hear folk music at a folk club?

What you are describing may be a very enjoyable way to spend an evening, but calling it a folk club is misleading.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 02:39 PM

"but what chances are of actual folk getting published or being bothered to adopt such an approach? Not very likely at all really."
Sorry - you've lost me; can you explain?
Stanley Robertson, Scots Traveller - has published at least four books, Duncan Williamson, Scots Traveller, at least half a dozen, we've (retired electrician and retired office worker) have just recieved an open-ended offer to publish our Travellers collection, MacColl and Seeger published interviews of The Stewarts, excellent book on Jeannie Robertson - or are we talking about your undefined 'real' folk? not sure.
Still don't know if a string orchestra performing at one of your 'designated folk venues' would miraculously transform into a folk ensemble.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 03:03 PM

Don't be so snotty Don, I am trying to have a reasonable discussion with you and explain why your analogy does not work."

"Snotty?"

Ron, I'm not going to get caught it in a petty, nit-picking argument with you about whether my analogy works or not. Any analogy is only a general comparison for purposes of illustration, and if someone has a mind to, he can start finding fault with it and lose the thread of the discussion.

I have stated my case, and my reason for it, quite clearly above, in my post of 21 Mar 09 - 06:09 p.m.

Don Firth

P. S. By the way, I have read both of the books you mentioned above.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 03:08 PM

Realfolk? Is that like Realale? Just asking


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 03:34 PM

Descriptive versus prescriptive definitions Different approaches. One is probably better to understand the "true nature" of a thing, as it were, for analysis and such. The other may be better for convenience, conversation, etc.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 04:12 PM

As I said higher up, the only thing that keeps me coming back to these discussions is that there is no descriptive definition.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: John P
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 06:18 PM

What's wrong with calling it contemporary acoustic music? What's wrong with calling it singer/songwriter music? What's wrong with just calling it music, for those who are pissed off by definitions?

Folk music that has come into being by way of the folk process is a different genre of music than composed music. Why are so many people so intent on calling both genres by the same name? I'm a big fan of inclusiveness and personal taste in music making, but not in definition making.

What would you all suggest that I call the music I play? "Folk" is meaningless; someone might think I'm going to do an acoustic Neil Young set. I've been told that "traditional" should also include singer/songwriters, since there is a "tradition" of songwriting. Besides, so many people hear the word "traditional" and think "boring".

All you folks that are saying definitions are stupid: fine! Stop using them. Stop calling modern composed music folk music, if you don't think definitions are important. Or is it just that you like the term folk music, and want it to mean whatever kind of music you like to listen to?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Betsy
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 07:26 PM

In 1954, a la definition, (in the UK at least) the average Joe (or Joanne) would never dreamed of owning a guitar - let alone playing it and singing in front of people. It wasn't a part of life. Ordinary people writing songs about ordinary life ? it simple wasn't thought about - it was an impossible concept.
Even popular music treated the human voice as an also ran - compared to Instrumental music.
Ordinary people in 1954 didn't even have a record player ,a telephone ,certainly no Tele - they had a piano but any music was a welcome relief after a MASSIVE World War which had finished 9 years previously. They were difficult times - I was 7 years old. The 1954 definition was irrelevant to people in 1954 apart from Academics - Jeez - my Mum and Dad they were trying to keep their bodies and souls together and those nearest to them.
We have moved on, and so have the "Class" (sic) of people who pontificated about such things and kept us mere mortals in their rightful place by dictating to the them how they should understand such music.
The 1954 definition may have been accurate in 1954 and fair play to them for their academic study, but , they were not to know, how ,the world of the common man's music would change.
Change it has, and the definition of our music needs to change with it, and, I suppose we need start calling it something like "Acoustic Roots" (music) because an awful lot of people get turned off immediately by the term "Folk Music".
Oh yeh - I'm going to an Acoustic Roots night - fancy it?
I'm going to a Folk music night - fancy it ?- forget it
I can accept any different variations of my suggestion, but what I have written , rolls in a load of other threads e.g. Clubs dying etc .
We need to modernise - to give the younger people ,and the middle aged Joe /Joannes who are looking for live music , a social evening, a label that isn't going to instantly frighten them away.
The 1954 definition in 2009 - chokes me - give it a break.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 07:42 PM

It's all about the music in the end


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 07:44 PM

"All you folks that are saying definitions are stupid: fine! Stop using them. Stop calling modern composed music folk music, if you don't think definitions are important. Or is it just that you like the term folk music, and want it to mean whatever kind of music you like to listen to? "

Nope.

The reason we clump certain types of singer-songwriter and certain contemporary acoustic music into the term "folk music" is simply because IT IS FOLK MUSIC.   You have to deal with it.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Edthefolkie
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 08:09 PM

This is all completely impossible to resolve of course, maybe Miss Karpeles was winding us all up. Anyway, it hasn't stopped "folk" arguing the toss in thousands of threads in web forums for years, and before that magazines, books, chapbooks, pamphlets, and probably little wooden notepads on Hadrian's Wall in the 2nd century AD. See traditional legionary folk song collected by R Sutcliff in "The Eagle of the Ninth" (I jest).

Is Flossie Malavialle supposed to sing Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel in a folk club? Was Bob Copper right to like the blues? Why did Jim Copper write old songs AND music hall songs in his song book (admittedly separated)? Is "You'll Never Walk Alone" a folk song if it's sung by the Kop at Anfield? These are all of course rhetorical questions but hide a point. ALL the music which people have picked up over the millennia goes into their very own melting pot which may then be added to other people's pots via memory, writing songs down, recording them on an Edison cylinder, or onto a hard disk in a home studio. Some of it will become Folk Music. Nothing WE say will stop it.

Christ, I'm sounding like Karl Dallas or Bob Pegg. It's nearly midnight GMT, I'm going to bed - I'll probably dream of the Folk Police riding me down now!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Nick
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 09:18 PM

Howard - >>If I go to a jazz club, I expect to hear jazz. If I go to a Mozart concert, I expect to hear Mozart. Is it unreasonable to expect to hear folk music at a folk club?

If you go to to a jazz club you would expect to hear some kind of jazz. But if you are a big Kenny Ball fan you might find that Pharaoh Sanders or Ornette Coleman are not your cup of tea. You would probably ask the secondary question - what sort of jazz? Jazz has evolved and fragmented over the last century.

'Classical music' is a big diverse beast as well. Mozart wrote a lot of things and they don't all sound the same. A lot of people who 'like Beethoven' find the late string quartets are not to their liking as Beethoven evolved over his life as well.

Apparently folk music hasn't or can't. Or isn't allowed to or something. It just is that specific thing and doesn't belong to anything else and anything that came after it and refers back to it isn't it.

Which makes it unique. And stuck. And non evolving. And old. And probably dying. Always exist somewhere and no doubt be revived every now and again.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Nick
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 09:53 PM

Jim - here's a tip. If you "drive across the county to visit a 'folk club' I've just read about" etc and keep getting disappointed take advantage of two wonderful inventions. First one is the telephone. Pick it up and ask. Second one is the internet - email and ask. Or listen at a myspace or similar thing that people normally have. Use brain before getting in the car.

There was a thread recently where someone was coming to North Yorkshire and asking about singarounds, folk clubs etc so I sent him the usual link I send people (here) which gives him a simple representation of what an evening with us is about. Not a mention of folk anywhere but he - as a shanty singer, I believe - felt it was the right sort of place to come. And if someone sings a Nirvana song such is life. Personally I believe that we contribute to the continuation of a long tradition of people sharing songs and music together and will do for the foreseeable future. Couldn't give a kipper's wizzer what it's called but we set the rough parameters of what is accepted by the sorts of things that are played each week.

It still baffles me how you purists let such a popular art form practically disappear (by your continuing own admission) and seem totally unable or unwilling to resuscitate it. Your argument is always that there is a huge pent up demand waiting for folk in its proper pure form to be presented. I don't believe that is true. I believe most people would find Walter Pardon, who you always cite as the epitome of folk singing, as a rather sweet old gentleman with a curious voice singing songs in an archaic way which had little relevance to their everyday existence. Sure he sings in tune. And he's authentic and has the force of history etc but an evening of that is a very specialist taste. I have tried (I listened to 15 tracks this afternoon on Napster - because he is probably more accessible to the mass of people now than at any point in history) but find my attention wanders and I find it rather tedious and samey after a few songs. My failing perhaps or perhaps I am used to something else.

And the argument that the redefinition of the word folk is what killed its popularity I find bizarre in the extreme.

If you are ever in North Yorkshire though you'd be enormously welcome and you'd definitely hear ballads and shanties on any evening you came. You could sit in the carpark or perhaps wear earplugs when the more diverse items came on! As I said on another thread I find a wide range of music round this part of the world (I got invited to a Front Room folk club today) and it just seems to be growing. Within that I hear lots of different sorts of music from folk (in your sense) to more modern stuff and constantly find my musical boundaries being expanded and constantly find great songs being sung. Whether they are old or new or folk or not matters little to me - if they communicate (politically - emotionally - narratively etc) and/or move me that's good enough for me.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 22 Mar 09 - 09:55 PM

So if you go to a folk club and expect to hear folk music - exactly what kind of folk music are you expecting to hear? Blues? Appalachian? Native American? There are so many styles, how would you expect to know what you are getting? Going back to Don's Supermarket, would you just order candy and expect to get something you like?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 04:14 AM

Ron (shouting removed) - The reason we clump certain types of singer-songwriter and certain contemporary acoustic music into the term "folk music" is simply because it is folk music.

Yes, but what's your reason for saying that it's folk music? To put it another way, what's your answer when someone says it isn't?

There are so many styles, how would you expect to know what you are getting?

That's a very good argument for restricting the folk label. Yes, there's a huge variety of traditional music out there; all the more reason to give traditional music room to breathe.

Nick:

Your argument is always that there is a huge pent up demand waiting for folk in its proper pure form to be presented. I don't believe that is true.

I think there's substantial demand for contemporary acoustic music and for traditional music. Some people started a weekly FC here in Chorlton six years ago; these days it's almost entirely singer-songwriter (the Myspace page doesn't even mention traditional music), and most nights it's packed out. A year and a bit ago, a monthly singaround started up (on a "mostly but not entirely traditional" basis); it's just gone fortnightly, and it's packing them in too.

When I started going to the singaround I'd been going to the FC for five years on a pretty regular basis (sometimes weekly). In all that time I'd never heard Ranzo or Jones's Ale or Thousands or more. When I heard that stuff I liked it, but I didn't get to hear much of it at the local folk club. That just seems a bit odd to me.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 04:49 AM

Pip Radish

That's a very good argument for restricting the folk label.

And how are you going to do that? Strangle offenders with their banjo strings?

You can't legislate language.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 04:54 AM

Sorry Bryan and others who object to the length of my postings; I think this is going to be a long one.
Perhaps it's time to put this discussion into its actual context and get it out of the greenhouse atmosphere of the folk scene.
The 1954 definition arose directly, not out of armchair musings of the 'acaedmics' SS and his cronies pour so much of their contempt on, but directly from the 'folkface'.
Sharp, the main architect of the definition drew his information, not from books, god knows, there were little of those on the subject when he was reaching his 'Conclusions', but from the rural poor of the south of England and from the mountain people of the Southern Appalachians in the US. Hammond and Gardiner got theirs from similar sources, from rural labourers,and particularly from the workhouses of Hampshire and Dorset, Vaughan Williams, again from the farm labourers and from the fishing people of East Anglia. Grainger's magnificent collection came mainly from farmworkers on the east coast in Lincolnshire. The work of Gavin Greig and John Ord was carried out in the farms and in particular, in the bothies of the north east of Scotland. All the rest of the originators and supporters of the definition, without exception, were taking their inspiration and information from similar sources.
Later on the validity of the definition was supported by the work of Hamish Henderson among the Travelling people of Aberdeenshire and other working people of Scotland. Hugh Shields was working with the farm labourers and fishermen of North Donegal. The BBC collectors, Kennedy, Ennis, Bob Copper, Sean O'Boyle and others were all getting their information and their material from miners, mill-workers, fishermen, farm labourers, Travellers...... the working people of Britain and Ireland. It is these people - 'the folk' - who put the folk in folk, that's what the term refers to.
MacColl, Seeger and Parker took their folk songs and the inspiriation for their self-penned songs directly from fishermen like Sam Larner and Ronnie Balls, from Ben Bright, a seaman who worked under sail, road navvies like Jack Hamilton, and from English and Scots Travellers, from miners such as the Elliot family and from manual workers like George Dunne, Beckett Whitehead and Mark Anderson.   
Up to date, one of the most prolific collectors ever, Tom Munnelly (an ex factory worker), with 22,000 songs to his credit, was getting his material and his information from identical sources in the Republic of Ireland.
Our (electrician and office worker) own information came mainly from Travellers, from small farmers and rural labourers in the west of Ireland and from manual workers and fishermen in East Anglia.
It is this work and these sources that gave rise to and validated (and continues to validate as far as I'm concerned) the 1954 definition. Academics my arse!!!
And you would substitute it with what - the arbitrary whims of a tiny handful organisers and revival singers who, in most cases, have never ventured outside the protective bubbles of a folk club for their songs and music. It is these, as far as I can see, who are the real armchair academics.
No Betsy - you give it a break!
For me, the terms 'folk' and 'traditional' are joined at the hip, the former referring to the people who made and transmitted the songs, the latter to the filtering process that shaped them and knocked the sharp edges off.
As far as I'm concerned, our folk process is now finished. The people who produced the songs, stories and music have now become passive recipients rather than participants and creators, largely thanks to the intrusive influence of television. We saw it happen virtually overnight when the Travellers went out and bought portable television sets.
In my direct experience as a life-long manual worker, SS's "people coming in after a hard day's work in the fields or on the cabs, the Job Centre, the hospital, the school, the building site, the ministry, or computer terminal" don't make music, songs or stories any more; we have it made for us and the only say we have in the matter lies in the on-off switch and the television hand control.
The folk song revival once drew its inspiration and its material from the efforts of the people I've described above and in doing so, I believe they took on the responsibility for the survival of, or, at the very least, the accurate documentation of that material and all the information that goes with it.
Of course there's nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from the material to create new songs - it would be as irrelevant to modern life as 'The Sealed Knot' or historic 'war game' recreation if this didn't happen - an exercise in romantic nostalgia. But let's not mix up the two; we're observers, beneficiaries and documentors of a folk tradition, not a part of the process.
If anybody can come up with a new formula which fully combines the process and the people I have described above with the creations of the 'singer, songwriters', by all means let's consider it, but until somebody does, the old definition stands.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 05:47 AM

If anybody can come up with a new formula which fully combines the process and the people I have described above with the creations of the 'singer, songwriters', by all means let's consider it, but until somebody does, the old definition stands.

All very worthy, Jim, but there's still nothing in the 1954 definition that can't be applied to any other music. Like Christianity, it only stands because of unquestioning belief of the faithful in a remote theology. Thus, it creates that theology to account for a music that can only understand itself in terms of category, political agenda, and fantasy of folk-character. In short, the 1954 Definition is the opiate of the Folk Intelligentsia and can only account for a musical tradition which is, as far as it ever existed at all, (and in your own words, Jim) DEAD. Back in 1980 I was renting a house from some taxidermists who'd left a stuffed bittern hanging on the wall; folk process as taxidermy perhaps? The taxidermy of the extinct simply because the 1954 definition does not allow for its transformation and continuance in any form other than that which isn't on the agenda.

Ah degrading vile was the way ye died, o my bittern beauteous of glowing sheen
Was at dawn of day that your pipe ye'd play as content ye lay on your hillock green
O my great fatigue and my sorrow sore that your tail is higher than heart or head
And the tipplers say as they pass your way: had he drunk his fill he would not be dead


Still, at least you've got your books, Jim - cut & dried, dead on the page, and the more I think about it, the more it leaves me cold; cold as the fecking grave.

Folk is dead. Long live Folk.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Will Fly, on the hoof
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 05:55 AM

As far as I'm concerned, our folk process is now finished...Of course there's nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from the material to create new songs - it would be as irrelevant to modern life as 'The Sealed Knot' or historic 'war game' recreation if this didn't happen - an exercise in romantic nostalgia. But let's not mix up the two; we're observers, beneficiaries and documentors of a folk tradition, not a part of the process.

I'm not clear what your message is here, Jim. The folk process is "finished", but we can still draw inspiration from the material to create new songs - as MacColl did, presumably?If those songs are then transmitted, sung differently, adapted perhaps, changed over time, then the "process" continues. Difficult, perhaps, in an age where everything is documented, recorded, filmed and set in stone.

If the folk process is finished and the body of songs that we have is complete, unchangeable, and signed, sealed and delivered - then why sing them at all? We don't have the background or the personal experience or authority to deliver them with honesty and conviction, presumably? So why don't we accept that modern songwriters who bring their work to clubs and singarounds are offering something modern, and just get on with it?

I personally like a wide variety of music - including much from the tradition as you describe it, and lots besides. You give the impression that, as far as you're concerned, the book has been written, the subject is closed - and that's that, folks. So what are you telling us to do? We're not part of the "process" any more - television and the media has seen to that - and we don't have the background or the involvement, being office workers and not horny-handed sons of the soil, to deliver the stuff honestly. I get the impression - and correct me if I'm wrong - that nothing we can do, as performers will now ever be right.

I was singing "High Germany" last Saturday night - in my own way and as best as I could. What have I to do with the tradition that passed that song on? What have I to do with the circumstances in which it was transmitted? Perhaps I should stop singing it - it's pointless, isn't it? - and just concentrate on Fats Waller stuff instead. I know where that came from...


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 06:04 AM

Nick is correct,if I rang a club and saw the name Andy Caven,I know I would be getting Buddy Holly songs,and veery little trad material,if I saw the name Dick Miles,Iwould be getting thishttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4K4-2laAOkI&feature=channel_page ,and no Buddy Holly.
most folk clubs,have a contact,if they dont have an e mail.
so what is the problem,if it someone you know nothing about contact the organiser.
the great thing about folk clubs is that they encourage people to make their own music,instead of being passive,mind you the computer allows that too.
long live folk clubs,and long live you tube,the two can work together,you tube is a great way of improving technique and also learning new songs.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 06:25 AM

All very well, Jim, but it doesn't get away from the fact that a lot of people use the term "folk music" in ways that do not fit the 1954 definition, probably because they have never heard of it. It is not easily accessible. A search on Google produces this - Definition of Folk Music. You have to pay $12 to find out the rules you must obey.

To abandon the music and go off in a fit of pique over a couple of words is ridiculous and harms the very music you claim to champion.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 06:33 AM

Bryan
Why should a definition be a rule - and why load discussions like this with such loaded terminology - speaking of which:
"To abandon the music and go off in a fit of pique"
Why the **** do you insist on doing this; it's nasty and it's counterproductive.
I set out what I believe to be a reasonalble case for my opinions - I did not "go off in a fit of pique". While I may have lost my rag at other times, I certainly did not do so here.
More later.
Jim Carrol


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 06:48 AM

PS Bryan
To suggest that the only access to 'A Definition of Folk Music' is via a ?12 donation is being economical with the truth in the extreme.
A copy of the article is available to any EFDSS member - and, knowing the excellent librarian at the VWML as I do, to non-members also on request, as I am sure you are fully aware.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 07:14 AM

Jim Carroll

Bryan
Why should a definition be a rule - and why load discussions like this with such loaded terminology


A bit of mild hyperbole. You do give the impression that you think that the 1954 definition is, rather than a useful tool, something which everyone is obliged to follow.

"To abandon the music and go off in a fit of pique"
Why the **** do you insist on doing this; it's nasty and it's counterproductive.


Stop being so virtuous. You're pretty good at handing out yourself. I was talking about the general thrust of your posts not just this one. One that I found particularly disturbing was this thread.cfm?threadid=119179#2584434. For the record, I last heard a Beatles song in a folk club about 15 years ago. I last heard a song from the singing of Walter Pardon 2 days ago.

You have, as usual, failed to address my major point that a lot of people use the term "folk music" in a way that does not fit the 1954 definition and there is nothing you can do about it. Stop fretting over two small words and concentrate on promoting the music you claim to love. Did the people who trusted you with their heritage want you to "leave it on the shelf"?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 07:20 AM

I have a suspicion that those who claim the folk process to be dead want it so. They've got their little collections in their little museums and heaven forbid if any new stuff comes along to 'contaminate' or 'dilute' the gene pool.

That's why they like the 1954 definition - it preserves in stone a process which, in today's electronic age, is difficult to replicate.

But fear not, folks, other processes will spring up to replace those which have outlived their usefulness. The would-be King Canutes will be left high and dry. Ignore them.

Adapt. Change. But above all - SING!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 07:25 AM

That's a very good argument for restricting the folk label.

Folk can only be an observable phenomenon defined by what it is, rather than what people thought it might have once been back in 1954 (and even then were several light-years wide of the mark). In my lifetime Folk has been everything from the Traditional Northumbrian Pipe Music of Billy Pigg to the Free-Form South African Jazz of Johnny Mbizo Dyani who frequently spoke of his music as being Folk. I think of everything I do as being Folk - be it This or This. No good can ever come out restricting anything, on the contrary, the wider our appreciations of Folk the better it will be.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 07:33 AM

"leave it on the shelf"?"
Have you knot read my postings on the availability of our collection or do you deliberately choose to ignore tham
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 07:46 AM

Like it or lump it, the overwhelming majority of people out there using the English language, who have even the slightest musical awareness, wouldn't have a clue what the 1954 definition is all about.

I found traditional song, completely *independently* of 'folk music'.
I was never a 'folk music' fan, if I thought 'folk' - just like everyone else (bar a tiny minority of specialists) - I thought 'Dylan' or 'Steeleye Span'. I didn't like folk music, so I never bothered with it, and as a consequence Trad Song completely passed under my radar for terribly long time.

The term has been utterly lost to whatever it initially meant, and as Leadfingers put it, has become an 'Umbrella Term' for a very broad and eclectic musical genre.

If you want to communicate to the real folk in the world, you need to speak their language, otherwise they will neither know nor care to know what you're attempting to say. And especially if you have to refer them to some academic definition for disambiguation of a term, which is completely inconsistant with the everyday language that they use and do understand.

In fact I'd prefer to see 'Traditional Song' move out from underneath this weight of miscellany, and stand on it's own as 'Traditional Song' because, if my (and that of some of my peers) own experience is anything to go by, 'Traditional Song' is vastly overshadowed by the volume of material out there proliferating beneath the folk music umbrella.

Traditional song, has become completely lost beneath such an expansive term. No-one in the real world has ever heard of the 1954 definition, but they *do* understand 'Traditional [insert culture and art or craft as applicable]' as a term that is used in a variety of contexts in a fashion that is overall pretty consistant and stable, and not requiring any form of disambiguation.

Trying to retrieve the term 'folk song' is IMO doomed to failure, and a complete waste of energy which could be far better spent, promoting broader awareness of 'Traditional Song.' Fair enough if you are speaking to those who share your sympathies and specialist understanding, but IMO it's alienating, confusing, tiresome, and can in no way further the cause of increasing greater public interest in and knowledge of Trad Song.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 07:48 AM

Yes Jim but nobody is better qualified to bring those collections to a wider audience than you, the person who collected them. Unfortunately, you can't see why you should bother because some people use the term "folk music" in a way that doesn't fit the 1954 definition.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 08:03 AM

If those songs are then transmitted, sung differently, adapted perhaps, changed over time, then the "process" continues. Difficult, perhaps, in an age where everything is documented, recorded, filmed and set in stone.

More or less impossible, I think. I do Mr Tambourine Man from time to time; it's Dylan's words and tune (mostly) but not his style, not least because I do it without a guitar. But there are never going to be multiple Tambourine Mans (Men?) - except to the extent that the Byrds' version is an established variant - because anyone hearing the song performed can go straight back to the source. The folk process has been killed off by recorded and broadcast music, just like steam locomotives were killed off by diesel. Stuff happens.

If the folk process is finished and the body of songs that we have is complete, unchangeable, and signed, sealed and delivered - then why sing them at all?

Speaking for myself and not for Jim, because they're bloody good songs, and they're good in ways that most contemporary songs aren't. And enough people still* know them to make them fun to sing in company.

*This long after the Revival.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 08:10 AM

No Bryan, I no longer know that there is a large enough interest in the material we have recorded to warrant the time necessary in getting it into shape.
I have been aware of this since the days when Pat was organising bookings for Walter Pardon and constantly being told by club orgaisers "Oh, we don't book singers like that; we only cater for the modern stuff". Arguments like this only serve to reinforce those impressions.
I am now past my mid-sixties and have to decide the best use I can make of my remaining years. I have no hestitation in taking our Irish material to an audience I know to be able to make good use of it. Our English material is a totally different matter.
Those few who are interested in this are, and have been for over 20 years, perfectly free to access this in the various public archives it is deposited in.
It has nothing whatever to do with the '1954 definition' as you, once again so misleadingly - well - mislead.
"the overwhelming majority of people out there using the English language"
No Rosie, the majority of the people out there don't give a toss one way or another - we and folk don't impinge on their lives in any way.
The use and misuse of the language is confined to the folk world.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 08:58 AM

no no ,unfair to King Cnut,King Cnut was trying to show his courtiers,that he was not infallible.
you are acnutist


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 09:08 AM

'Traditional Song' is vastly overshadowed by the volume of material out there proliferating beneath the folk music umbrella

True, but this too shall pass. 'Folk' as a style - usually meaning 'sounding a bit like Pentangle' - was ridiculously unfashionable 10 years ago, and it'll probably be ridiculously unfashionable again in 10 years' time. But traditional music was there, is there and will still be there. If more people believed that 'folk' ought to have something to do with traditional material, there'd be more chance that some of the thousands of people currently going through a 'folk' phase will get some exposure to traditional music along the way.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 09:18 AM

In fact I'd prefer to see 'Traditional Song' move out from underneath this weight of miscellany, and stand on it's own as 'Traditional Song' because, if my (and that of some of my peers) own experience is anything to go by, 'Traditional Song' is vastly overshadowed by the volume of material out there proliferating beneath the folk music umbrella.

My feelings entirely, at least in theory because at the end of our street there stands a public house by the Fleetwood-Larne ferry terminal where on a Thursday night meets The Fleetwood Folk Club which plays host to an assorted gathering of diverse human personalities and folk-characters all of whom have their own take on such matters and somehow manage to create a unity of experience and whole-hearted jubilation however so disparate the individual contributions. In a phrase - the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and I'm sure that could be said for any UK club or festival - and long may that be the case.

*

Here on the Fylde there is a strong tradition of fine songwriting - Alan Bell needs no instruction, and neither should Ron Baxter, whose instinctive genius is such that I regard him as a medium through which the tradition flows. At this years Fylde Festival, for example, you might hear our new show Demdyke - a celebration of Fylde Folklore, Witchcraft and suchlike Wierdness in which all of the songs have been written by Ron in on a miraculous roll of creativity that leaves me quite beathless, especially given the quality of the material that flows from his pen. Genius for sure; and Folk most certainly, and never less than totally inspiring.

Their Jesus died, nailed to a tree
Why in His temple should I be?
Yet there my image you will see
Carved in wood or stone.

Though He arose, as doth the Spring,
New life unto this world to bring
He's not me, and I'm not Him
For Him I do not know.

For I dwell with the greenwood trees
And when they rustle in the breeze
Tis then that folk think they see me,
And some, perhaps, they do.

Through Summer sun, through Winter cold
I'm there with oak, and ash, and thorn.
I'll never die, 'cause I've never been born,
Forever I've been here.

Yet in May some still are found
As the pipe and tabor sounds
Bedecked in leaves they dance around
Doing homage unto me.

But of their homage I've no need
Of their worship I'll take no heed
Let them believe what they believe,
It matters not to me.

For I am... just what I am
Though that you'll never understand
Jack in the Green, or the Green Man
You may call me what you will.


I've been singing this to tune of Band of Shearers, with a stronger emphasis on the even & final verses. If anyone can think of a better melody, don't hesitate to chip in!

*

It is the creativity engendered by Traditional Music that I find the most captivating. I was honoured to a part of John Barleycorn Reborn and similar projects all of which are rooted in an appreciation of Traditional Song and yet take a very different view of this thing we call Folk. But I've heard Traditional Song set in all sorts of contexts - classical, jazz, free-jazz, rock, experimental and even folk - and so it endures very much as Traditional Song.

The music remains potent, and very much alive; it continues to inspire and invigorate and suggest new possibilities. I for one, on the available evidence, can no longer think of it as being Dead. The 1954 definition is engraved on the tombstone of an empty grave for the Tradition has been Reborn afresh.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,a passing academic
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 09:21 AM

A search on Google produces this - Definition of Folk Music. You have to pay $12 to find out the rules you must obey.

Not if you've got access - and not if the text has been liberated by a passing academic.

DEFINITION OF FOLK MUSIC by MAUD KARPELES (London)

This communication is mainly a recapitulation of opinions that have previously been expressed and is offered as a basis for discussion.

At the Annual Conference of the International Folk Music Council held in London two years ago we attempted to define folk music, but were unable to devise a definition which completely satisfied all the members. The provisional definition adopted by the Council was: "Folk music is music that has been submitted to the process of oral transmission. It is the product of evolution and is dependent on the circumstances of continuity, variation and selection."

This definition implies that folk music is the product of an unwritten tradition and that the elements that have shaped, or are shaping, the tradition are: (1) continuity, which links the present with the past; (2) variation, which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group; and (3) selection by the community which determines the form in which folk music survives.

The definition rightly leaves out of account the origin of folk music. The term can therefore be applied to music that has been evolved from rudimentary beginnings by a community uninfluenced by art music; and it can also be applied to music which has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten, living tradition of a community. But the term does not cover a song, dance or tune that has been taken over ready-made and remains unchanged. It is the fashioning and re-fashioning of the music by the community that gives it its folk character.

When a tune passes into oral tradition, it becomes subject to the forces of evolution and conforms in the following way to the demands of continuity, variation and selection. Firstly, the tune is to some extent translated into the accepted idiom, so that the continuity of tradition is maintained; secondly, it ceases to be static and stereotyped, but becomes multiform through the individual variations made by its performers; and thirdly, the forms in which the tune ultimately survives are determined by the community: for the variations which meet with approval persist, and the others die out. In this sense, a folk song, even when it has an individual origin, may be said to be of communal authorship.

The time factor must play a part in evolution. A song that is learned orally, say from the radio, does not immediately and automatically become a folk song, no matter how great is its popularity. Tipperary [i.e. It's a Long Way To...], one of the most popular songs in the first World War, never became a folk song because it was never re-created by the folk.

How long does it take for a composed song to become a folk song? That is a question that is often asked and one to which it is impossible to give an answer. In communities in which there is a strong folk music tradition a composed song which hits the popular imagination will very quickly be absorbed into the tradition, but where the existing tradition is declining the process of transformation will take longer, if indeed it happens at all.

The weakness of the definition adopted by the Council is that it leaves out the time element. The definition originally placed before the Council was: "Music that has been submitted throughout many generations to the moulding process of oral transmission." But the words "throughout many generations" were omitted, because it was felt by some that the time factor does not operate to the same extent in a new country as it does in one with an older civilisation. The objection may have arisen owing to an erroneous identification of the term folk music with autochthonous music. Many of the songs that are traditionally sung on the American Continent are of European origin, but their transportation from Europe to America does not invalidate their claim to be considered folk songs.

In any country in which art music and folk music exist side by side there is bound to be inter-action between the two types of music and there will always be a certain number of songs that are on the border-line; but this should not prevent us from recognising that the two types are distinctive. It must, however, be borne in mind that in the transition from folk music to art music or vice versa there must always be a re-creation. In the same way that folk music may constitute the raw material of art music, so may art music constitute the raw material of folk music.
[ends]


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 09:38 AM

Pip (Working) Radish - my comments were made ironically and I agree with you entirely. We song the songs because they're bloody good songs - not because they fit the 1954 definition or because we have some mystical metaphysical connection with them...


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 10:00 AM

"Yes, but what's your reason for saying that it's folk music? To put it another way, what's your answer when someone says it isn't?"

I answer that they are wrong. They are not considering the fact that folk music is a living tradition. Cecil Sharp took a snapshot of a community and their traditions at a certain point in time. Whatever rudimentary methods were used for transmission of the song was reflected in the source.

During the last 100 years, our sense of "community" has changed. You can sit and cry in your beer about the loss of tradition, or you can realize that tradition evolves with these changes.

The singer-songwriters are creating songs for a specific community. It is not "pop" music as it does not incorporate the qualities that would insure commercial acceptance to a wide audience. The songs are created for the same need that the songs that we consider "traditional" were created.   I was interviewing Eric Andersen and he explained it very clearly. They started writing songs because they could not find traditional songs that spoke directly to the issues and lifestyle that they were leading. They needed songs that would serve their own community.

The folk community spawned Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan and many others - and it continues to do so with emerging writers like Danny Schmidt, Joe Jencks, Lindsay Mac, Antje Duvekot and others.

Trust me - I am not knocking the study and enjoyment of traditional music. It is extremely important to preserve and learn from these songs and traditions. I feel that is also important to recognize that these traditions evolve.   There is a strong community, at least in this country, that accepts certain contemporary singer-songwriters under the "folk" umbrella.   They do not get confused about what they are listening to.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 10:23 AM

Cecil Sharp took a snapshot of a community and their traditions at a certain point in time. Whatever rudimentary methods were used for transmission of the song was reflected in the source. During the last 100 years, our sense of "community" has changed. You can sit and cry in your beer about the loss of tradition, or you can realize that tradition evolves with these changes.

Ron, your points would be a lot more persuasive without the sneering at people who disagree with you. We're not idle, maudlin, self-pitying drunks on this side of the argument - just rational adults who hold different views from you.

Apart from that, I'm slightly stunned by the second sentence I quote here - the "rudimentary methods used for transmission of the song" are precisely what makes traditional music different from composed music (which hasn't entered a tradition). The replacement of those methods by broadcast and recorded music stopped the folk process happening - those traditions aren't evolving, because there's nowhere for them to do so.

The singer-songwriters are creating songs for a specific community.

We could argue about the meaning of 'community', but I'm more interested in the bit about creating songs. Do you believe that a song that's just been written can be a folk song?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 10:34 AM

"your points would be a lot more persuasive without the sneering at people who disagree with you. We're not idle, maudlin, self-pitying drunks on this side of the argument - just rational adults who hold different views from you."

No, but you are a bit over-sensitive!!!    Jeesh - you consider "crying in your beer" to be sneering? Have you read any of the posts that you made in this thread? Get a grip!!

Replacement of "oral" traditions by recorded music altered the evolution of traditions - but you are grasping at a theory created many moons ago that also needs to evolve. Traditions DO evolve, and they utilize the means of the time and place. You cannot expect and old theory to remain "gospel". There are some people who can convince you that the world is flat.

Can a song that has just been written be a folk song? It cannot be a traditional song, that is certain. Is it a folk song - it would depend on the song and setting.   Someone can write a song for Britany Spears, that would NOT be a folk song.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 10:34 AM

Jim Carroll

I no longer know that there is a large enough interest in the material we have recorded to warrant the time necessary in getting it into shape.

What can I do to persuade you that there is?

Those few who are interested in this are, and have been for over 20 years, perfectly free to access this in the various public archives it is deposited in.

Not good enough, Jim. From this article http://www.folkmusic.net/htmfiles/inart558.htm -

"Jim and Pat were both listening to jazz and blues at the time but, when they heard Ewan MacColl singing industrial ballads about British working people's lives and emotions they were completely bowled over."

MacColl didn't just sit back and say "It's there in the museums if anyone wants it." You didn't seek it out until someone showed it to you. Surely you have a duty to pass on the flame.

What are you going to do with your declining years apart from go on internet threads and rant about the deckline of UK folk clubs because someone said that someone once sang The Great Pretender in something that chose to call itself a folk club in defiance of the 1954 definition? You know it's true; you read it on Mudcat.

It has nothing whatever to do with the '1954 definition' as you, once again so misleadingly - well - mislead.

Then what is it to do with? What is stopping you passing on the heritage that has been left in your trust?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 10:37 AM

"Jim and Pat were both listening to jazz and blues at the time but, when they heard Ewan MacColl singing industrial ballads about British working people's lives and emotions they were completely bowled over."

If someone writes a song in 2009 about the lives of British working people, should we ignore it because it is not a folk song?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 10:41 AM

Thank you, passing academic. Despite searching diligently for that, I had not been able to find it. The point is that some seem to think that the definition applies to everyone and must not be abused but very few do have access or the convenience of a passing academic.

It makes interesting reading. I think the last paragraph is particularly telling.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: RTim
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 10:42 AM

To add to the debate - I was listening to the following last night and today. I find it interesting particulaly because it was BEFORE the 1954 definition, etc..
---------------------------------------
East Anglia Sings.
BBC 3rd Programme - broadcast 27th Nov. 1947.
With Collector/Composer E.J.Moeran and BBC colleague Maurice Brown.

Female Announcer:
Mr. Moeran, can you define a Folk Song?

Moeran:
Well, I would say a Folk Song is that which has evolved itself in the course of time, among races or communities. As opposed to that deliberately composed by individuals and written out on staves of music.
But there is no reason why a Folk Song should not spring up today. As a matter of fact, we are playing one tonight about a living event which happened in Barton Broad.
And again, there is that ballad that I noted down in Oxfordshire about Mrs. Dyer, the wretched Baby Farmer and she was hanged at the end of the last century.

Brown:
Yes, and that was the type of song we wished to record, and we wanted them sung in the traditional, almost orchestral style, that the real folk song singer uses.

Moeran:
No accompaniment!

Brown:
No, certainly not. Think of some of those singers we heard elsewhere in Suffolk, some of the old ones knew folk songs, but they had sung them too long with a vamping piano, all the character had been ironed out of them.

Moeran:
Yes, Yes, and there is another thing, the words. We agreed that it was our duty to record the words as they were actually sung. Unfortunately much of the verbal texts of collections published so far have had about the same relation as the genuine article as does Thomas BowdlerÕs version to the authentic Shakespeare.

Brown:
Yes (and laughs..both)

Moeran:
This may or may not have been expedient with regard to collections intended for public purchase; but with regard to texts privately circulated by learned societies, can only be described to a kind of coyness and squeamishness.

Brown:
Well, those were our requirements and between us we were lucky enough to know where to go to find enough material for several broadcasts: Suffolk, and above all, North East Norfolk.

For more on the programme - see:
East Anglia Sings.
BBC 3rd Programme - broadcast 27th Nov. 1947.
With Collector/Composer E.J.Moeran and BBC colleague Maurice Brown.

Female Announcer:
Mr. Moeran, can you define a Folk Song?

Moeran:
Well, I would say a Folk Song is that which has evolved itself in the course of time, among races or communities. As opposed to that deliberately composed by individuals and written out on staves of music.
But there is no reason why a Folk Song should not spring up today. As a matter of fact, we are playing one tonight about a living event which happened in Barton Broad.
And again, there is that ballad that I noted down in Oxfordshire about Mrs. Dyer, the wretched Baby Farmer and she was hanged at the end of the last century.

Brown:
Yes, and that was the type of song we wished to record, and we wanted them sung in the traditional, almost orchestral style, that the real folk song singer uses.

Moeran:
No accompaniment!

Brown:
No, certainly not. Think of some of those singers we heard elsewhere in Suffolk, some of the old ones knew folk songs, but they had sung them too long with a vamping piano, all the character had been ironed out of them.

Moeran:
Yes, Yes, and there is another thing, the words. We agreed that it was our duty to record the words as they were actually sung. Unfortunately much of the verbal texts of collections published so far have had about the same relation as the genuine article as does Thomas BowdlerÕs version to the authentic Shakespeare.

Brown:
Yes (and laughs..both)

Moeran:
This may or may not have been expedient with regard to collections intended for public purchase; but with regard to texts privately circulated by learned societies, can only be described to a kind of coyness and squeamishness.

Brown:
Well, those were our requirements and between us we were lucky enough to know where to go to find enough material for several broadcasts: Suffolk, and above all, North East Norfolk.

For more on the programme - see:http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/moeran.htm


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 10:43 AM

Not quite sure what your point is there Ron.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 10:47 AM

The replacement of those methods by broadcast and recorded music stopped the folk process happening - those traditions aren't evolving, because there's nowhere for them to do so.

The folk-process is a conditional fantasy on the part of the people who believe in the integrity of what is, after all, merely a concept. It is an article of a faith that has no objective currency outside of those who hold it to be a self-evident truth which is, self-evidently, not the case at all. Traditions are evolving with the musicians who are out there singing and playing the stuff whatever their sources might be. Every time you sing a song you are, in fact, evolving it if only to suit your requirements; in so doing you are no different from any other Traditional Singer at any other point in time. Now, this is an observable phenomenon; I see it all the time, we all do. It's in the organic nature of the universe that nothing stays the same, and nothing can ever happen the same way twice. If traditions aren't evolving its because our concept of The Tradition is out of keeping with the reality of the tradition, which isn't something that's going to roll over and die just because its easier for the 1954 Faithful to deal with a corpse.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: RTim
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 10:53 AM

Oops - sorry I seem to have copied the text of programme twice -

apologies - Tim R


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 11:10 AM

If someone writes a song in 2009 about the lives of British working people, should we ignore it because it is not a folk song?

That's an easy one. No, but we shouldn't say that it is a folk song.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 11:18 AM

Every time you sing a song you are, in fact, evolving it if only to suit your requirements; in so doing you are no different from any other Traditional Singer at any other point in time.

That's true enough at the point of performance. What's different is what happens next - what happens to that song because of what the singer does to it. These days, not a lot - as I said above, there are never going to be multiple Tambourine Mans (Men?) - except to the extent that the Byrds' version is an established variant - because anyone hearing the song performed can go straight back to the source.

If traditions aren't evolving its because our concept of The Tradition is out of keeping with the reality of the tradition

To me, that's a bit like defining electric trains as a form of steam train, then saying that if people think steam trains aren't running any more it's because their concept is out of keeping with the reality of steam trains. Things change. People used to make music much, much more than they do now - mainly because the option of listening to it without making it was much less widely available - and when they did, things happened to music that don't get a chance to happen now. Other stuff happens instead.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Banjiman
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 11:21 AM

"People used to make music much, much more than they do now"

Is there any evidence for this?

Be interesting to know.

Ta

Paul


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 11:27 AM

"That's an easy one. No, but we shouldn't say that it is a folk song. "

So your only gripe is the label.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 11:45 AM

Ron - it's not a 'gripe'! My disagreement is with the use of the word 'folk' to refer to music which I don't think can be defined as 'folk'.

Banjiman - the thing is, in some ways I don't think people have changed
all that much. People like music while they work - and when there weren't any radios, they couldn't listen to the radio. People like music to relax with - and when there weren't any CDs, they couldn't put a CD on. People like to hear new songs - and when the only way to buy a brand new song was on a sheet of paper, they couldn't hear a new song without singing it. It all adds up to music being performed a lot more often, in a lot more places, by a lot more people.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 11:49 AM

Gripe=disagreement.

You do not have to call contemporary songs "folk" if you do not wish to.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Banjiman
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 11:55 AM

Pip,

With all due respect, that's not evidence, it's an assumption!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 11:57 AM

I am off to play some folk music,and it wont be tie a yellow ribbon


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 11:59 AM

What's different is what happens next - what happens to that song because of what the singer does to it.

Why does anything have to happen next? We live in the here and now, and all that matters is the moment we're in and the provenance of that moment. Does a traditional song die the moment it's collected? So who killed the folk process? No - I think we need to widen the somewhat precious parameters of the 1954 definition and factor in the other ways songs might be transmitted and, therefore, transformed, and, as I've shown, the folk process can be shown to be alive and well. However, that means extending the parameters of what is Folk Music, and there is a reactionary element who don't want that. Funny how all these old radicals were so pitifully conservative when it came to culture. Patronising old bastards the lot of them! Fact is, they don't want Folk Music to be of The Folks, they want to keep it to their Intellectual Elite.

WLD - if you're reading this, you can expect at least one pint from me if our paths cross at Fylde this year; if you then choose to pour that pint over my head, I'll accept that as a baptism.   

To me, that's a bit like defining electric trains as a form of steam train, then saying that if people think steam trains aren't running any more it's because their concept is out of keeping with the reality of steam trains. Things change.

A train is still a train, I think, regardless of the location of the combustion - internal, external, or remote. I think the function is the important thing; the fact of it being a train rather than a skateboard; it still runs on tracks, and through the same cuttings, tunnels and embankments built by navvies long dead; a journey on any train is a journey into the past, like the journey from Poulton-le-Fylde to Manchester Oxford Road, where we might look out and see a replica of The Planet in full steam. Hmmmm. Is that what it's all about? Nostalgic replication? If people want to define Folk Song as being something out of necessity archaic, then that's a cosy idealism which I confess I find as appealing as I do repellent, however - we travel through the same landscapes, transformed on a daily basis & it's like this every time you sing a song, any song, not just a traditional song.   

People used to make music much, much more than they do now - mainly because the option of listening to it without making it was much less widely available - and when they did, things happened to music that don't get a chance to happen now. Other stuff happens instead.

I'm not sure if that's true; maybe the reverse is true. But whatever people used to do in the past, it wasn't necessarily Folk Music as we understand it. I've spoken to old musicians from mining communities who, whilst being fully conversant with the brass band tradition, have never heard any of the mining songs supposedly traditional to those communities. And then we hear tales of Bert Lloyd and Ewan McColl giving concerts at the Tow Law WMC to give the miners back their lost folk songs. I find this very telling as to the nature of Trad. Folk Song and the extent to which it existed at all, compared to the extent people wish to believe it existed. In my family we had fragments of such songs, but always alongside other songs, never in isolation. Whatever the numbers, there are a lot of people making music and singing for pleasure these days - and might I suggest there a lot more people singing Traditional Songs these days than has ever been the case hitherto?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 12:14 PM

"The use and misuse of the language is confined to the folk world"

errr...no it's not


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 12:18 PM

PS -

That's an easy one. No, but we shouldn't say that it is a folk song.

I know lots of songwriters who have written some bloody fine folk songs - Ivan McKeon, Alan Bell, Ron Baxter, Ted Edwards, Johnny Handle, Graham Miles to name but a few - all of whose work have found its way into various oral traditions and might be heard sung as though it was, indeed, traditional. At what point does a song become a folk song? At what point did Peter Bellamy's settings of Kipling become folk songs, or else his self-penned songs from The Transports? Would anyone dispute calling these songs Folk Songs? Bellamy, as I recall, used the term Folk Idiom, to mean a particular approach to such matters, but it remains, after all, still Folk.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 12:26 PM

I `ad that Minister of Culture in my cab the other day. `e looked well pleased with `imself and `ad a wapping great pile of papers under `is arm.
`e said, "`ouse of Commons, please Jim."
I said, "You look like a cat that`s `ad all the cream. What`s going on , then?"
`e said, "Well, you know all this `owjadoo about our culture dying out.? I`m going to introduce a bill to redress the balance."
I said, " What. You gonna make music and singing in schools part of the old curriculum again, like we `ad years ago?"
`e said, " Nah. We`re gonna fast track it. It`s gonna be illegal for the working man to `ave a telly or computer games. That`ll get `em singing again!!"

Whaddam I Like??

But, seriously though. I`m just looking through a book called Victorian Street Ballads. It `as loads of songs and doggerel they found printed on `andbills and broadsheets from the early 1800`s. Well, you could`ve knocked me down with a feather. `undreds of `em are what we sing in our band and we`ve always reckoned they`re folk songs. After `aving read all the stuff above I don`t know whether I`m on me `ead or me `eels. Cop an eyeful of this list below for starters.

Riggs of the Times
We`re All Jolly Felows That Follows The Plough.
Hop Picking In Kent
My Father Kept A Horse
Miles Weatherill ( I got Nick Jones doing that one)
Female Transport
Tarpaulin Jacket ( `e asks to be wrapped up in it when `e dies)
Polly Perkins
I Likes A Drop Of Good Beer
Free And Easy
Old Horse (this is the one with `edges , ditches, etc.)
Massa`s In The Cold Cold Ground


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 12:36 PM

The above, me thinks, will open up Ye Newe Canne of ye Wormes


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 12:55 PM

At what point does a song become a folk song?

Ms Karpeles wondered about that one too. Ye Olde Dead Hande of 1954 Dogma with regard to this one is:

a) It happens.
b) Except when it doesn't.
c) When it happens, it usually takes quite a long time.
d) But it can be quite quick.

Rifleman - I'm sure that everyone who thinks that a song ceases to be a folksong the moment it's written down will be up in arms. Or they will when they get back from picketing the Bodleian Web site.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 01:10 PM

For those who wish to form a picket line:

http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/ballads/ballads.htm


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 03:05 PM

"Perhaps it's time to put this discussion into its actual context and get it out of the greenhouse atmosphere of the folk scene." - Jim Carroll, March 23, 4.54 am.

Excellent post, Jim.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 03:12 PM

"I'm sure that everyone who thinks that a song ceases to be a folksong the moment it's written down will be up in arms"

Oh dear;does this mean I'll have to stop using Ye Olde Penguin Booke of Folke Songs as a reference?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 04:17 PM

Sorry, Broadband's been down all afternoon + packing for a weeks holiday - not been able to join the bunfight.
Bryan,
"What can I do to persuade you that there is?"
You might volunteer to transcribe and annotate 80-odd Walter Pardon tapes and a dozen or so Winterton recordings, but I'm sure your as busy as we are. I would point out that we have issued several CDs from our collection, including 1 of traditional storytelling (British and Irish) as well as selections from Fred Hamer's collection 'Leaves of Life'. Anything further is hard slog and has to be prioritised. Do any of you know how minute the sales figures are for albums of field recordings? It makes no difference to us as all profits from CD sales go to I.T.M.A., but they are an indication of response to and interest in something that entails a lot of bloody hard work.
"Not good enough, Jim."
I'm afraid it will have to be for now. If the BL wish to put our collection on the web they have our full blessing.
"MacColl didn't just sit back and say "It's there in the museums if anyone wants it."
Nor did he knock on people's doors delivering what he had to offer - he expected people to emerge from their shells and make the effort.
"Surely you have a duty to pass on the flame."
And surely you have the duty to make the effort to take it when it's on offer, albeit in a limited form?
We are not the only collectors and certainly not the most important or prolific - how accessible is the work of others (do you want a list)?
"What are you going to do with your declining years...."
Come on Bryan - we were doing so well without the snide.
"What is stopping you passing on the heritage that has been left in your trust?"
Nothing whatever, expept the declining years. We are in the process of setting up a local archive of recorded material as part of a county-wide folk/heritage centre (so far we've deposited around 1,000 tapes from our personal collection). The next job is to organise for publication a collection of around 150 Travellers songs and 175 stories. Then we will embark on a biography of Kerry Traveller Mikeen McCarthy, (singer, storyteller, incredible source of Traveller lore, tinsmith, horse dealer, street singer, broadsheet seller.....). Ask anybody who ever saw him perform how important he was: (Musical Traditions Club, Singers Club, National Folk Festival and many other song and storytelling clubs and festivals in the days when the most of the clubs welcomed traditional performers).
And then maybe we'll get time to watch 'The Bill' and go and see 'Che part 2', and maybe even fit in a pint and a session in town.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 04:51 PM

"What are you going to do with your declining years...."
Come on Bryan - we were doing so well without the snide.

Seems like a polite enough question to me. I personally think some people need to get over themselves


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 05:05 PM

Jim, that was a wonderful post and totally at odds with anything you have ever said before. What on earth was the point of the "leave it on the shelf", "why bother" remarks that have typified your previous posts?

You might volunteer to transcribe and annotate 80-odd Walter Pardon tapes

Don't think I could tackle all 80 and I'm not really qualified to do the annotations but I'd be willing to help out. Why not start a thread asking for volunteers? Could be a useful project for a Newcastle student.

Nor did he knock on people's doors delivering what he had to offer - he expected people to emerge from their shells and make the effort.

And he had sufficient faith in people to believe they would. You don't.

And surely you have the duty to make the effort to take it when it's on offer, albeit in a limited form?

Yes. Your point?

We are not the only collectors and certainly not the most important or prolific - how accessible is the work of others (do you want a list)?

You are the only one that I know of who is going round saying that it's not worth doing because nobody cares and the clubs are full of people singing Beatles songs.

You have accused me of being crass, of dumbing down and of promoting crap standards. I think I can cope with being called snide.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 05:09 PM

"MacColl didn't just sit back and say "It's there in the museums if anyone wants it."
Nor did he knock on people's doors delivering what he had to offer - he expected people to emerge from their shells and make the effort.
MacColl helped to organise a folk club, which he and others publicised in Melody Maker.,to my way of thinking he made a positive attempt to get people interested,he didnt just expect people to seek it out for themselves.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 06:04 PM

"apart from go on internet threads and rant about the deckline of UK folk clubs because someone said that someone once sang The Great Pretender in something that chose to call itself a folk club in defiance of the 1954 definition? You know it's true; you read it on Mudcat."
Sorry - this is the bit I took umbridge at - maybe I'm being a bit umpty - been stuggling with this ******* computer all day.
Am also feeling a bit morbid - a parcel arrived this morning; a gift copy of Marrowbones kindly sent to me by Malcolm Douglas; shook me a little.
A few days in the pissing rain in Malta should sort me out no end.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 06:14 PM

Jim,have agood holiday,Ihope the sun shines a lot.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 06:36 PM

I really wonder how many people who are bad-mouthing the "1954 definition" and other efforts by folklorists and ethnomusicologists have actually read this material, carefully, all the way through, and then thought about it for awhile without instant knee-jerking.

I really wonder why people who apparently don't like what those like me (and others) consider to be folk songs (traditional songs, such as those found in Sharp's and Lomax's collections, Child ballads, and such) and prefer the songs of Jacques Brel, songs such as "People" recorded a few decades ago by Barbra Streisand, "Memory" from Cats, or really old songs like "Old Buttermilk Sky" by Hoagy Carmichael, or songs they have written themselves and whom no one else sings?or wants to sing?or wants to hear a second time for that matter?and then insist that everyone else acknowledge these songs as folk songs, ostensibly because "I'm a 'folk' [as contrasted with a horse, I presume] and these are the songs I like to sing. Learn those boring old ballads? Not me!"

I really wonder why these people seem to feel that the aforementioned songs are not acceptable as good songs per se unless those who are primarily interested in traditional folk songs (from Sharp, Lomax, et al) acknowledge them as "folk songs."

I really wonder why, if some people find traditional folk songs and ballads so bloody boring, they want to spend time in folk clubs at all.

I really wonder why there are people who are bright enough to know better, but who seem to be too mentally lazy to deal with the time-honored and essential tools of clear thinking, such as "define your terms."

I really wonder why I waste my time on this thread. I'm going to go and play some music.

Traditional folk music. You know:   from Sharp, Lomax, etc.

Don Firth

P. S.   GUEST, a passing academic, thank you for your post at 23 Mar 09 - 09:21 a.m.

P. P. S.   "If someone writes a song in 2009 about the lives of British working people, should we ignore it because it is not a folk song?" No, of course not. But why do you feel it's so bloody essential to insist that it's a "folk song?" Especially, when it's new and has not had time to go through "the folk process?" Although I am generally regarded as a "folk singer," if a song appeals to me, I will learn it and sing it, whether or not it is a traditional song. But I will not try to pass it off as a "folk song." I credit the source, as ethically one should.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Peace
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 06:50 PM

I agree with you, Don.

I am not now nor ever have been a folksinger. I doubt I ever will be. Because of that I really dislike being labelled as one. I would not be ashamed to be labelled as one were I one.The music I write is rock or pop or protest or . . . . Thassit.

When I do go to folk clubs I seldom hear folk songs. People don't know all that many of them. I may know two or three and when I do sing them in a performance I do introduce them as folk songs whose authors are dead and gone. However, not to listen to material simply because the author is known denotes a listener who uses note pads less than a 1/4" wide because that's how narrow the mind of the listener is.

I will and do accept the 1954 definition, but then why not accept it? I also don't give a rat's ass about it. Either I like specific songs or I don't. The criterion for me is the song, not the origin.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 07:11 PM

Jim Carroll

"apart from go on internet threads and rant about the deckline of UK folk clubs because someone said that someone once sang The Great Pretender in something that chose to call itself a folk club in defiance of the 1954 definition? You know it's true; you read it on Mudcat."
Sorry - this is the bit I took umbridge at -


I and a lot of other people I know work bloody hard to promote exactly the sort of music you want. Don't you realise how gratuitously offensive you are being when you sieze on bizarre isolated incidents like The Great Pretender to condemn ALL UK folk clubs as moribund? I take umbrage at that.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 07:13 PM

...and enjoy your holiday. I hope you come back in a more charitable frame of mind.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 07:39 PM

"I really wonder why people who apparently don't like what those like me (and others) consider to be folk songs (traditional songs, such as those found in Sharp's and Lomax's collections, Child ballads, and such..."

Don, I don't think ANYONE is denying that your examples are indeed folksongs. Most of those collections contain traditional songs, although Lomax certainly collected songs with known authors and would not fit that 1954 definition either.

I can't speak for others, but I certainly do not find those songs boring. Those songs continue to play an important role in my life.

You gave some examples.   Alan Lomax spent time collecting Italian and Spanish folk songs.   I think of the late Henrietta Yurchenco and her pioneering work field recording pre-Columbian native Mexican music. She also collected and researched the folk music of Guatemala, Spain, Morocco, Puerto Rico and the Georgia Sea Island among other cultures. These are important folk traditions as well. We certainly cannot forget the studies of African-American folk music either.

The point is - folk music is very broad. No one is denying the music that you love and spoke about is folk music. The rest of us see a modern connection that we strongly consider to be folk music as well. It does not replace the traditions that you spoke about or the traditions that Jim Carroll speaks about - two vastly different bodies of music with an important connection.   The contemporary folk music that you wish to ignore - and that is certainly your perogative - IS an example of evolving traditions and deserve to wear the banner of "folk music".


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 07:51 PM

not to listen to material simply because the author is known denotes a listener who uses note pads less than a 1/4" wide because that's how narrow the mind of the listener is.

I don't think anyone has said they won't listen to songs with a known author, or even that they'll refuse to perform them. All the Sturm und Drang on this thread has been kicked off by people wilfully, immoderately and with malice aforethought suggesting that recently-composed songs shouldn't be referred to as 'folk songs', and furthermore having the unmitigated audacity to opine that places called 'folk clubs' ought to put on a bit of traditional music now and again. Nowt so queer as folk[ies].


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Betsy
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 08:29 PM

Let's remember Roberta Flack - ( I think ) who sang McColls " The very first time I saw your face ". It was written by a Folk singer highly cherished in this thread - but not a song I would expect to hear in a Folk club.
If I did, and it was performed well, it would give me pleasure.
Folk music is in your own head.
We all know the difference between folk and other genres ,without being directed by an out of date "definition".


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 09:50 PM

"Don, I don't think ANYONE is denying that your examples are indeed folksongs. . . ."

Honestly, Ron, if you are going to comment on what I post, please read it a little more carefully. I did not say that anyone is denying that this material (Sharp, Lomax, et al) is folk music. I was talking about those who are not interested in it, and who prefer other songs instead, such as the pop songs I indicated, or self-composed songs.

And I am fully aware that Alan Lomax did not collect songs only in the United States and the British Isles. I am also fully aware that the category of "folk music" is very broad indeed. But there are certain characteristics that it must possess for folklorists, ethnomusicologist, and anthropologists to include it in the category known as "folk music," no matter what part of the world it comes from.

Nor did I indicate in any way that I ignore what you refer to as "contemporary folk music." I do sing some of this material. But in the case of a song by Tom Paxton or Frank Beddoe, when the author is known and the songs have not been "folk processed"?changed in any way?since they were written, I do not regard them as "folk" songs. They are contemporary songs. And I credit the writer when I sing these songs.

And although it is a temptation because they are so well done, I do not regard songs written by Gordon Bok as folk songs, even though they are practically indistinguishable from traditional material. There, too, when I sing a song written by Gordon Bok (and I do a lot of them), I give him proper credit.

Why must these recently composed songs, excellent though many of them are, be called "folk songs" when they don't meet the criteria that ethnomusicologists agree on and when doing so only sews confusion and misinformation? As is amply demonstrated by some of the posts on this and other similar threads!

I have an upstairs neighbor, a young woman, who has just recently released a CD of songs she has written. In the spirit of "support your local musician," I bought a copy from her. She regards her songs as folk songs because someone she knows told that is what they are. She said that she "learned all about folk music" from a friend of hers, whom I subsequently looked up on MySpace. He, too, writes songs. His songs are "interesting," but he wouldn't know a folk song if it bit him in the ass!

Misty sings well and the songs she writes are quite interesting. One of them is a bit of a "gripper," and I might learn it. If I do, whenever I sing it, I will not claim that it's a folk song, I will say that it was written by Misty Weaver. Another friend of hers, Roger Palmeri, did the arrangements for her and engineered the CD. On some of the songs, he added a drum-track, which I find a bit intrusive at times. And in my opinion, unnecessary.

Her MySpace blurb says that she's living in France. She went to Paris for a few months, then returned in early January. She's off again, this time to New Orleans, where she is originally from, but she lives with her husband in the same apartment building that I live in.

As to whether the songs she writes are folk songs or not, when and if I think she's ready to hear it, I may have a chat with her about that. I don't think she is especially emotionally attached to the idea that they are folk songs. It's just that she was told by her friend that that is what they are.

And please?kindly do not try to refute what I have written by misinterpreting what I say. (Pedant alert:   the Academics strike again!!) This is know among logicians as the "straw man fallacy."

Don Firth

P. S. By the way, I lied. Instead of working on folk songs this afternoon, I've been working out a classic guitar arrangement (lute-style) for "The Wind and the Rain," sung by Feste at the end of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. Not a folk song. I found the tune in The Ballad Literature and Popular Music of the Olden Time, Vol. I, by William Chappell. This book contains many folk songs, but a lot that are not folk songs, although they are several centuries old. Feste's song hasn't changed in over four centuries.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 10:04 PM

Never mind Don


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 10:06 PM

Right!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 23 Mar 09 - 10:11 PM

Perhaps we will both read a bit more carefully next time


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 02:04 AM

The Snail: "Don't think I could tackle all 80 and I'm not really qualified to do the annotations but I'd be willing to help out. Why not start a thread asking for volunteers? Could be a useful project for a Newcastle student."

Sounds like a jolly good idea to me. Especially regards contacting the University!

Though I also touch type, for what it might be worth...


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 03:35 AM

I and a lot of other people I know work bloody hard to promote exactly the sort of music you want. Don't you realise how gratuitously offensive you are being when you sieze on bizarre isolated incidents like The Great Pretender to condemn ALL UK folk clubs as moribund? I take umbrage at that.
Bryan,
I spent thirty odd years in the clubs. I watched and one by one they fell off the tree; saw hundreds of bad performances, which previously would not have been tolerated by club audiences, gradually become accepted, defended then preferred because "the folk didn't have standards so why should we?" or "the old singers sang anything so what does it matter?"
Neither of these statements are in any way true, both standards and discrimination were paramount to many of the singers we met - we recorded hours of them saying so.
If a singer has an off night - tough - it's happened to all of us, he/she'll probably do better next time. If they start having regular off nights, it's obvious to me that they need to do some work. If they, their fellow performers start to argue that it doesn't matter, then bad singing becomes the norm. If it is further argued that it doesn't matter because it's only a bit of fun anyway - the important thing is to sing and bugger the standards - you've dropped the ball, and in doing so, you have been "gratuitously offensive" to the singers who gave us our raw material.
These are not isolated incidents of a bygone era. They drove me out of most of the clubs I frequented on a regular basis. The last two clubs I attended in the UK (last year and the year before) were just as I have described - even worse in the case of one of them which I know to have been running for at least 25 years. I hear the attitude not only defended, but promoted on this forum regularly - take a look at some of the 'are standards necessary' threads.
Couple this situation with a thread like this where I should "give it a break" when I say I expect some vague idea of what I am going to hear when I attend a folk club, and you've got a bloody mess.
Sure, I can phone in advance to find out if the local folk club caters for people who like folk music - I can phone the grocer's shop in Galway to find out if the cheese they are advertising is real cheese and not that plastic shit that comes in airtight containers. I SHOULDN'T BLOODY HAVE TO


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 04:10 AM

" The very first time I saw your face ". It was written by a Folk singer highly cherished in this thread - but not a song I would expect to hear in a Folk club.
If I did, and it was performed well, it would give me pleasure.
Folk music is in your own head.


Actually Dave Burland does a terrific version of this song - and makes it sound like one of MacColl's - on the Burland/Capstick/Gaughan album of MacColl songs. Betsy, PM me if you haven't got a copy.

The reason I'm banging the drum for trad isn't that I don't like contemporary music, or even that I don't like singer-songwriters. It's just that - if my local FC is anything to go by - this kind of unstated definition of 'folk' can't be relied on any more. People don't give you half a set of traditional songs, a couple of MacColls, a Leadbelly and a few originals; you get an entire set of original material with perhaps the odd Dylan or Hank Williams number thrown in. It's not the same - and, nine times out of ten, it's not as good. My interest in traditional songs ignited when John Kelly did a guest slot & did an entire set of traditional songs - I had no idea there was so much stuff out there, or that it could sound so good. And this was after being a regular FC attender for around five years.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 04:15 AM

Sodding computer:
.....and if I had to each time I went to the grocer's he'd pretty soon be out selling The Big Issue.
Of course not all clubs are like this - it wouldn't be worth even thinking about if they were; but enough of them are to cause concern, and Alice in Wonderland threads like this one are only going to cement the condition into place permanently.
Argue for no standards and 'it doesn't matter what we give 'em' and what have you got - undefinable songs badly sung - gratuitously offensive to singers like Walter Pardon, who knew the difference, to me as a folkie 'lifer' and to the intelligence of any potenial audience for our music.
It is gratuitously offensive not to give of our best to anybody who comes to listen to out music. It is gratuitously offensive to make facile comparisons between our music and other forms which are obviously light years different, and are little more that excuses for not thinking the subject through.
My ideas and opinions didn't spring out of just internet threads or a few bad experiences, or books..... They came from running and singing at clubs, from sitting in the older singers kitchens and listening to what they have to say, and from coming home from club after club with the opinion that I could have heard better in a 'Knees Up Mother Brown' crocodile. Sure, the books played a part in the way I think - unlike some people on this thread, I'm not prepared to block off any source of information by describing it as 'academic shit'. Nor am I going to refuse to listen to an experienced and dedicated club organiser like yourself - the more you have to tell us about how you have managed to run a good club, the more chance we have of getting the ball back in play.
Earlier I outlined what I believe to be the implications of the 1954 definition. If I am wrong and what I described is not folk music, then tell me what I've missed. If you feel the term needs re-defining, feel free to do so, but you're going to have to convince a lot of people who, though they may not attend the clubs, are still up to their ears in the music, and who, if we are wrong in our analysis, are sending out a distorted message which is the one that will prevail.
Jim Carroll
PS Didn't really mistakenly hit the send button, but deliberately sent this in two parts because it was too long.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 04:16 AM

PS Pip,
Don't interrupt when someone's talking!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 06:47 AM

Looks like we're straying back into realms of subjective idealism here. The whole point of this thread was to look at the Objective Reality of what was being done In the Name of Folk, and whether or not that was compatible with the the 1954 definition. If you want ideals then by all means start another thread - call it: The Folk Police: What Should be Happening in Our Folk Clubs or even worse What Used to Happen in Our Folk Clubs but Doesn't Now, or worse still Why What I Do is Proper Folk and What Anyone Else Does Isn't. And I'm not too bothered about a discussion of standards either - least of all from someone who felt it necessary to dismiss my singing of a traditional ballad as being somehow akin to bad pop music.

I only listen to folk music in singarounds & clubs; I steer well clear of Folk Celebrity (with few exceptions) and anything that involves PA systems (on account of my damaged hearing*) and on those rare occasions I do listen to folk at home, I listen to the so-called Source Singers. One of my favourites is Mrs Pearl Brewer, as recorded by Max Hunter in 1958; her singing of The Cruel Mother (Here) I regard as damn near definitive & yet I'm sure many here would disagree, and well they might. I don't go to a singaround to judge people on their weaknesses, rather I go to appreciate them on their strengths - even the strength of having the balls to get up and sing a song in the first place. The fact that here in 2009 people are still doing it is cause for celebration, & celebrate I jolly well will; I go to get pissed and have a ball. I like a laugh & enjoy the crack (as we Northumbrians say) even though all my songs tend to be serious traditional songs & ballads, sung seriously too. However bad my singing is judged to be I reserve that right to sing what I am moved to sing and must, therefore respect that right in others too.

* I blame the Pink Fairies for this, one of their numerous farewell tours, circa 1975, which has made it painful for me to endure loud music ever since. Coincidentally, it was around that time I first started wandering into Folk Clubs; for respite likely. It's worse now, so when over-amplification is involved I tend not to bother.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 07:02 AM

Let's face it, all'folk' songs were contempory at some time or other i.e. all the Napoleonic ballads, General Wolf etc. The fact that they were 'collected' years & years after the events desxcribed makes them 'traditional'but if some unknown writer wrote a song about,lets say, the death of Jade Goodey [as aposed to the Death of Queen Jane] & some collector heard it being sung in 20 years time, would that make it 'traditional'?
Besides writing, as I would put it,'within the folk idiom' my main interest is sea songs. During my time in the MN I noted down, all the shipboard songs I heard, & no I don't mean chanties, they were long gone, no one knew who wrote them, their were scores of varients of many of these songs [see Perma Thread 'Merchant Navy Songs]. All of them were 20th C songs, does this make them 'traditional' or 'folk' or just 'songs'? In the main they use existing tunes, a few of them folk tunes, but mainly popular song tunes e.g. Bye bye blackbird.
I don't rearly care, I love traditional songs with a passion, but also contemporary 'folk' songs if they stike a chord with me.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Phil Beer
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 07:06 AM

I also blame the PINK FAIRIES too. Hawkwind got arrested on their way into Exeter when I were a lad and the Fairies played the entire night (Rock night at Tiffs'.) Discovered a great way of protecting hearing years ago though. Two cigarette filters carefully inserted in the appropriate orifices. 20/30db cut and removes many of the annoying transients. I still go to as much live music of all shapes, sizes, and denominations as I did in those days but since I no longer smoke, one packet generally lasts a year or two.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 07:28 AM

"The Folk Police: What Should be Happening in Our Folk Clubs or even worse What Used to Happen in Our Folk Clubs but Doesn't Now, or worse still Why What I Do is Proper Folk and What Anyone Else Does Isn't. "
No, it looks like we're scurrying back behind infantile name calling
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 07:32 AM

[see Perma Thread 'Merchant Navy Songs].

An amazing resource: PermaThread: Merchant Navy Songs

I also blame the PINK FAIRIES too.

I tried ear plugs but they spoil the music!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 07:38 AM

The fact that they were 'collected' years & years after the events desxcribed makes them 'traditional'but if some unknown writer wrote a song about,lets say, the death of Jade Goodey [as aposed to the Death of Queen Jane] & some collector heard it being sung in 20 years time, would that make it 'traditional'?

Yes, if it happened, but how likely is that? If someone writes a song about Jade Goody now - and it doesn't get recorded - then who's going to hear it? If it is recorded, of course, then the process Maud Karpeles described is unlikely to happen -

Firstly, the tune is to some extent translated into the accepted idiom, so that the continuity of tradition is maintained; secondly, it ceases to be static and stereotyped, but becomes multiform through the individual variations made by its performers; and thirdly, the forms in which the tune ultimately survives are determined by the community: for the variations which meet with approval persist, and the others die out. In this sense, a folk song, even when it has an individual origin, may be said to be of communal authorship.

- and it probably won't become a folk song. It may be a hit, and you may see them singing it on the Top of the Pops, but it won't be a folk song. (Not definitely, but probably.)

The Merchant Navy songs you refer to are really interesting - it's certainly folk song, whether or not we call the individual songs folksongs! I wonder if that kind of singing still goes on, or if lads go out with iPods these days?

Society changes. Once you needed to be able to ride a horse in order to get from A to B, now you can get the bus. Once you needed to be able to sing a song in order to hear music, now you can switch on the radio. The folk process - the process that gave us the chanties and the Child ballads - is more or less dead, just like the blacksmith's trade is more or less dead; that's part of what makes the music it left us so valuable.

If anyone's exhibiting "subjective idealism" in this thread, it's surely the people who maintain that the tradition never died, the folk process goes on endlessly, and a folk song is just whatever a folk singer sings at a folk club. I second Don's point. We can all agree (I think) that there's a difference between traditional songs and contemporary songs; why must these recently composed songs, excellent though many of them are, be called "folk songs"?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 07:40 AM

"Looks like we're straying back into realms of subjective idealism here."
Can we establish on what this 'subjective idealism' is based - we've all attended, run and performed at clubs - some of us have an aversion to books as academic shite, maybe yours came to you in a dream along with the pink fairies.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 07:45 AM

No, it looks like we're scurrying back behind infantile name calling

Nothing could be further from the truth. In the above comical thread proposals I was reflecting on the tenor of several recent posts from Pip, Yourself & Don Firth respectively, fully aware that the whole thing is founded on subjective idealism anyway. Apologies for any offence caused in so doing.

Again - I'm trying to understand Folk Music according to the human reality of the thing rather the hoary academic ideal so many of you seem to regard as sacrosanct. I personally think it's bollocks, for reasons outlined (but never answered) elsewhere, as I would rather deal with a music defined by the subjective musicians than the objective academics. As with language, the study of a music is not the defining of it, yet pedantry abounds; a similar pedantry, I fear, pervades Folk Music. Pragmatically, however, it's something else entirely.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 07:47 AM

on the Top of the Pops

For what it's worth, the BBC pulled TOTP back in 2006.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 07:52 AM

the folk process goes on endlessly

As long as there are people and music the folk process will endure.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 07:56 AM

Pip Radish:
just like the blacksmith's trade is more or less dead

Minor pedantic correction here, Pip - our village blacksmith is alive and kicking, still carrying on as a farrier (shoeing horses) as well as more modern aspects of the job (mending agricultural equipment, wrought-ironwork, etc.)

As long as there's horses there'll always be farriers. :-)


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Nick
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 08:17 AM

Will
Reminds me of my favourite joke of the week

Man goes for a job as a blacksmith.
"Have you had any experience shoeing horses?"
"No but I once told a donkey to piss off"

My coat is already on.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 08:30 AM

LOL!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 08:33 AM

Earlier I outlined what I believe to be the implications of the 1954 definition. If I am wrong and what I described is not folk music, then tell me what I've missed. If you feel the term needs re-defining, feel free to do so, but you're going to have to convince a lot of people who, though they may not attend the clubs, are still up to their ears in the music, and who, if we are wrong in our analysis, are sending out a distorted message which is the one that will prevail.

I fear your message is distorted, well & truly. Here again are my points regarding 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? What of the Chapbooks and Broadsides? 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.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 08:40 AM

Sinister Supporter: a remarkably longwinded version of the argument that used to exist in a rather shorter form; "all music is folk music, I've never heard a horse sing a song".
However, most of us can spot a qualitative difference, both in in form and historical function, between the Wild Rover and Eleanor Rigby. And a lot of us choose to call the former a folk song, but not the latter. If you can't detect that difference, there isn't much point in discussing it.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 08:43 AM

ok,how about the songs of the singing postman are they folk.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: MartinRyan
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 08:51 AM

The only "singing postman" I knew, wrote a song called "The Salt" - which is definitely written in the traditonal idiom and regarded as a folksong - FWIW.

Regards


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 09:53 AM

why must these recently composed songs, excellent though many of them are, be called "folk songs"?

Folk songs were 'recently composed' once.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 10:15 AM

Alan Smethhurst[singing postman]Allan Smethurst (November 19, 1927 - December 23, 2000), aka The Singing Postman was an English postman and singer.

Smethurst was raised in Sheringham, Norfolk, although he may have been born in Lancashire.[1][2] His mother came from the village of Stiffkey.

Smethurst hummed tunes on his daily post round for many years, before writing and singing songs in his native Norfolk dialect in the 1950s. An audition tape sent to the BBC earned him a spot on Ralph Tuck's local radio show, and Tuck promoted Smethurst under his own record label, "The Smallest Recording Organisation in the World".

In 1966, the Singing Postman's best known hit "Hev Yew Gotta Loight, Boy?" won Smethurst the Ivor Novello Award for best novelty song of the year. The hit knocked the Beatles from the top of the East Anglia hit parade and remained in the charts for nine weeks. The song had a small comeback in 1994 when it was featured on a television commercial for Ovaltine.

After appearing on The Des O'Connor Show, he signed with EMI and went on to record over 80 songs. He quit the music business in 1970.

Smethurst died in December 2000 after living the last twenty years of his life in a Salvation Army hostel in Grimsby.
    * Bin Born A Long Time
    * 45 Stringed Guitar
    * When The Moon Peeps O'er The Hill
    * Hev Yew Gotta Loight Boy?
    * Followin' Th' Binder Round
    * The Devil's Hoofprints
    * Roundabout
    * Miss from Diss
    * Moind yer head, boy
    * You'll hatta come along a me

other songs included:

    * ha' yer fa'er got a dickey, boy?
    * oi shot a rabbit up a tree
    * the motorbike song
    * Mystery of Owld Tom's Grave
,ON THE NIGHT OF HALLOWEEN,dont feel sorry for the postman,January Sales,WAS THE BOTTOM DROPPED OUT[this is a classic]
whas On the Richter Scale of Rock 'n' Roll casualties, Allan Smethurst barely registers. In fact his name, Allan Smethurst, barely registers at all but as the Singing Postman he found national fame for slightly longer than Andy Warhol's allotted fifteen minutes and at the same time became a local hero to celebrity starved Norfolk from where he originally hailed.
Owing more in looks, personality and musical style to George Formby than George Harrison, The Singing Postman was rocketed in to the pop music stratosphere when Norwich record shops reported that songs of his, sung in a distinct and now disappearing Norfolk dialect, such as 'Hev Yew Gotta Loight Boy?' and 'Oi Can't Get a Nice Loaf of Bread', were outselling the Beatles' 'Ticket to Ride'. Bemused and not a little frightened, Allan found himself courted by the suits from London, appearing on Top of the Pops alongside those other hicks from the sticks - the Rolling Stones - and having his most famous composition 'Loight Boy' covered by Rolf Harris. But fame and adulation did not sit easy with this simple man and not long after a ratings busting appearance on TV's Des O' Connor Show the dream began to unravel.

Allan Smethurst was born in Lincolnshire in 1927 but moved to Sheringham, a pretty little seaside town on the North Norfolk coast as a young boy. He is to this day well remembered by the town's older residents. Allan's parents were poor and his father disappeared from his life quite early on - possibly the first of a number of misfortunes to befall the shy young lad. On a school memory Internet site one pupil claims his nickname at the time was Smelly. What is without doubt is that Allan smashed his face in when he joined in the local kids' game of jumping on the back of passing horse and carts and promptly fell off. The injuries were substantial to his mouth and face and Allan suffered permanent damage to his palate that left him with a speech defect which although not necessarily detectable in his songs was very noticeable in his everyday conversation. This episode may well have inspired one of his more poignant compositions 'Moind Your 'Ead Boy'.

Allan's mother took up with a new man and moved with her teenage son to Cleethorpes back in his birth county. Allan was devastated to leave his friends, Sheringham and Norfolk, the county he loved and whose individuality and quirkiness he would affectionately celebrate time and time again in his songs. He experimented with a number of jobs eventually settling on a job as a postman; a living that allowed him the freedom to develop his musical and songwriting skills. Songs, which arguably all shared the same basic tune and structure, but with delightful lyrics and titles such as 'I Miss My Miss from Diss' and 'Fertilising Lisa'. In 1959 he submitted a self-made tape recording to radio in Norfolk which was picked up by local celebrity Ralph Tuck who featured Allan on his Wednesday Morning show and dubbed him The Singing Postman.

Fame did not follow immediately but over the next five years his regular appearances on radio built his reputation in Norfolk and record shops became accustomed to requests for recordings by the Singing Postman but of course there were none. Perhaps with an eye on the meteoric rise of Mr. Brian Epstein up in Liverpool, Mr Tuck sniffed an opportunity ? became Allan Smethurst's manager and recorded him. EP's (extended plays) were all the rage, The Beatles' Twist and Shout, for example, selling so many it made the British Singles Charts despite its higher price. The Singing Postman released First Delivery and the first pressing of 100 copies sold out in days. Parlophone, the record label that boasted the Beatles but also had a history of recording novelty acts, took over the distribution and the EP went on to sell over 10,000 copies countrywide.

Rolf Harris, then a young bearded Australian singer/entertainer/artist ambitious and over here with a sharp eye for a novelty song followed his ground scratching 'Jake the Peg' with Allan's 'Hev Yew Got a Loight Boy', and in theory at least began generating some serious royalties for the musical postie. However none of The Singing Postman's songs appear in the chart history books sung by himself or Rolf. It was almost as if The Singing Postman didn't really happen. But he did. Back in 1965 there were only two television channels to choose from. Half of the country would be watching BBC1 and the rest would be a tad more adventurous and tune into ITV. A peak time appearance on The Rolf Harris Show was enough to make Hev Yew Gotta Loight Boy a national catchphrase in playgrounds and pubs across Britain for a few weeks.

Meanwhile the impresarios wanted Alan for the pop music package tours that were raking in thousands as singers and bands relentlessly crisscrossed the country playing cinemas and halls to adoring teenagers. Allan did some dates but found live performing traumatic and he was even more mortified when screaming girls outside one venue mobbed him. The GPO (General Post Office graciously granted Allan permission to perform in his uniform even though he had resigned his £12 a week job. Even with the comfort of his familiar tunic and hat Allan bore appearances on stage like a man having a heart bypass without anaesthetic; he took to standing and looking straight down at the floor as he strummed his guitar or facing the audience but with his eyes tightly shut. He began to drink during the afternoons before a performance to summon up the courage to get up on stage. Soon he had a reputation for being a drunk and from local beer Alan soon graduated to spirits ? whiskey becoming the drug of his choice. Somewhere in London Bob Dylan was turning the Beatles on to pot, in Sussex various members of the Rolling Stones were experimenting with hallucegenics and Mars Bars but in Grimsby the Singing Postman was pissed out of his head in the public bar of The Leaking Boot on Jack Daniels.

The Singing Postman soon disappeared back into the obscurity that had spawned him except now he had a rock'n'roll a legacy ? a raging drink habit. Occasionally he made the local papers but this time for some alcohol fuelled misdemeanour or other. Once there was a very lively row with his mother, stepfather and a frying pan, which ended up in the magistrates' court. He spoke little of his fame or his music preferring to engage fellow drinkers about whether they believed in extra-terrestrials. In 1980 he moved voluntarily into the Salvation Army hostel in Grimsby, Brighowgate House, where he wound his life down slowly.

In 1994 Hev yew gotta loight boy? was used in an Ovaltine advert and interest in The Singing Postman was briefly reignited. A collection of CDs was issued. The renewed interest in his career or the prospect of royalty cheques were not going to sway Allan again though. He was not about to step back into the limelight. Calls to the hostel from the media were met with a polite but firm rebuttal.

Shortly before he died in December 2000 at the age of 73 a visitor arrived at the hostel. The other residents were shocked but pleasantly surprised to see the ever cheerful and still familiar face from their TV screens. His black curly hair and beard were now grey but Allan Smethurst broke out into a rare broad toothy grin as Rolf Harris called out 'Hev You Gotta Loight, Boy?"




        
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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Mr Happy
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 10:18 AM

Wasn't Dave Mallet a singing postie?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Mallett


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 10:21 AM

However, most of us can spot a qualitative difference, both in in form and historical function, between the Wild Rover and Eleanor Rigby.

Both might be folk songs according the 1954 Definition; both might be folk sings according to the Horse Definition; both are songs I'd rather never hear again for the rest of my life, and yet both will, in all probability, be sung in the name of Folk at our Folk Club on Thursday Night. It's okay though; I will have checked in the shattered sherds of my brain on the way in in exchange for the sort of boozy intoxication that will ensure that I have a jolly good time regardless. I will be but a part of the community, faceless in my inebriation, off my folking head to such an extent that I will, no doubt, sorely regret it the next day. This whole thing is about Folk Empiricism not Qualitative Differences Both In Form and Historical Function; the former is about taking life squarely, and subjectively, on the jaw, whilst the latter is looking at life from the objective outside, assuming such a place exists at all, which I rather doubt to be honest.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Mr Happy
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 10:30 AM

1954 states that even a song with a known composer can be a folk song!

Says it all really


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 10:57 AM

Mr Happy - shhhhhh.....!

there are people around here who don't want that to become public knowledge.

Because it means that songs written today can become folk songs and, boy, do they hate that idea!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Mr Happy
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 11:16 AM

I said '1954' not '1984' - so Big Brother hopefully isn't watching!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 11:28 AM

There's a veritable band of Big Brothers on this forum, Mr H. and, oh yes, they're watching all right!

Hey *200*


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 11:36 AM

1954 states that even a song with a known composer can be a folk song!

Says it all really


*Sigh*

Yes, and it also says how that can happen:

Firstly, the tune is to some extent translated into the accepted idiom, so that the continuity of tradition is maintained; secondly, it ceases to be static and stereotyped, but becomes multiform through the individual variations made by its performers; and thirdly, the forms in which the tune ultimately survives are determined by the community: for the variations which meet with approval persist, and the others die out. In this sense, a folk song, even when it has an individual origin, may be said to be of communal authorship.

The Manchester Rambler might be a folk song in 50 years' time; so might Eleanor Rigby; so might Oops I Did It Again. But they ain't there yet, and - barring the draconian intervention of Jim Knowledge's ministry of culture - they aren't likely to get there.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Mr Happy
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 11:38 AM

........'ain't never heard no horse sing'

But I've heard plenty flawsingers do it hoarse!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 11:48 AM

Jim Carroll

The last two clubs I attended in the UK (last year and the year before) were just as I have described

The last two clubs I attended in the UK (last Saturday and last Thursday) were not as you have described. I heard a lot of music and song which I think you would have been quite happy to describe as folk music including at least one Walter Pardon song. I think you would have enjoyed yourself at both of them.

Nor am I going to refuse to listen to an experienced and dedicated club organiser like yourself - the more you have to tell us about how you have managed to run a good club, the more chance we have of getting the ball back in play.

Then perhaps you understand why I get a little peed off when you describe the policy we operate as "crass", "dumbing down", "promoting crap standards". I do not argue for "no standards"; I argue against imposing my standards on other people. I argue for the residents and regular floor singers to set a standard, if not of perfect quality, at least of caring about and respecting the music and putting in the effort it deserves then trusting people to set their own standards. Trust me, it works. You seem to equate wanting to sing with not being able to sing. I equate wanting to sing with wanting to sing well.

Earlier I outlined what I believe to be the implications of the 1954 definition. If I am wrong and what I described is not folk music, then tell me what I've missed.

I'm not contesting the 1954 definition. It has its problems but I approve of what it is trying to do. My point is that some people, as Sinister Supporter has shown, will interpret it in ways that suit them; some will ignore it; some (probably the majority) have never heard of it. All these people will continue to call what they do folk music. There is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Sure, I can phone in advance to find out if the local folk club caters for people who like folk music - ..... I SHOULDN'T BLOODY HAVE TO

In an ideal world, no you shouldn't have to but I'm afraid you have to make do with the real world you actually live in. If you ask for cheese and get offered something that appears to be a byproduct of the oil industry, learn from the experience and find another grocer. Don't, as you are doing, condemn all grocers and swear never to eat cheese again. Is the music really less important than what you call it? Accept that you've lost control of those two words but don't throw the music away.

threads like this one are only going to cement the condition into place permanently

Yes they are if people like you whose voice carries a certain amount of clout insist on damning the whole UK folk scene to hell.

Of course not all clubs are like this

BREAKTHROUGH! But couldn't you try and help us rather than hindering?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 11:53 AM

Sinister Supporter in his long analysis of the situation makes a rather elementary logical mistake.
"I like bread. I like sausages. Therefore, sausages are a kind of bread." The fact that it is possible to put the Wild Rover and Eleanor Rigby into a category together(or maybe many categories together) does not necessarily make them both folk songs.
And the number of people who say, as if it proves something, "It's possible for a new song to become a folk song so there" continues to amaze. Of course a song can become a folk song. That does not prove all songs are folk songs.Or that all songs will become folksongs. It merely says some songs may become folk songs.
But anyone can say what they like, of course. If your fond belief is that a folksong is a song sung with an acoustic guitar(or possibly a lightly amplified guitar)....well, carry on, it it makes you happy.That belief will just make it awkward when you are trying to discuss folk music with other people.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 12:17 PM

Are we not conflating three entirely seperate things: folk music, folk music and folk music? Obviously, all three overlap to some extent, but essentially are substantially different beasts. Until we understand this we are doomed to stay on the infernal hamster wheel of these discussions.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 12:21 PM

Actually, there's folk music, folk music, folk music and stuff I like.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 12:39 PM

"... The Manchester Rambler might be a folk song in 50 years time....but they ain't there yet"
Nearly 30 years ago I collected:-
    " I'm a tramp ship, a tramp ship on no regular run,
      I go wherever the cargoes they come,
      It may be to Sydney on Sunday
      But they'll change it to Lagos come Monday"
The man I 'collected' it from had never heard of either 'The Manchester Rambler' or Ewan McColl. He'd learnt it on a ship he'd sailed on in the late 50s-early 60s. Is this the 'folk process' at work? Does this now mean that if 'The Manchester Rambler' is not yet a folk song, this dirived varient can be? Discuss.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 01:16 PM

He'd learnt it on a ship he'd sailed on in the late 50s-early 60s. Is this the 'folk process' at work?

Yes, it is. Maybe I was wrong about ye old Rambler!

On the other hand, I remember at one time it was quite the thing for kids to sing "Georgie Best, superstar" (those of us of a certain age will recall the next line, although precisely why it attached itself to Mr Best I've never known) - and I'm sure not all of them knew that they were singing a variant on "Jesus Christ Superstar". Does that make "JCS" a folk song? I don't really think so.

There's quite a useful word for the kind of thing we're talking about, viz. filk (although the filkers themselves, rather annoyingly, define filk as if they invented it). The activity of filksinging - writing new songs that piggyback on old ones - is a form of folksong, but I don't think the resulting songs are folk songs, because they aren't independent enough of the original source. But it's an interesting one (where by 'interesting' I mean 'I'm not sure what I think about it').


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 01:23 PM

Are we not conflating three entirely seperate things: folk music, folk music and folk music?

The awful thing is, I think he's right.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 01:49 PM

*Sigh*

Sigh?

So what's the problem with differentiating between Traditional Song and Folk Song? We might agree to hang the stuffed corpse of Traditional Song out to dry on the 1954 definition but it no longer accounts for what is being sung In the Name of Folk in folk clubs, festivals, singarounds, CDs etc.

"I like bread. I like sausages. Therefore, sausages are a kind of bread." The fact that it is possible to put the Wild Rover and Eleanor Rigby into a category together(or maybe many categories together) does not necessarily make them both folk songs.

A folk singer might well do both of these songs in a floor spot, just as I might wrap up my sausages in some bread and make a sandwich; the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This has nothing to do with what I want (although right now I could kill for a sausage sarnie) rather it is to do with the reality of a situation in which Traditional Song (and by implication the 1954 Definition) has less & less to do what is happening in the name of folk.   

That belief will just make it awkward when you are trying to discuss folk music with other people.

No it won't because most of the Folkies I know sing mostly non-traditional material and yet are quite happy to call it folk. This is what raised the issue in the first place.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 02:59 PM

If I'm a pastry chef and I cook a tri-tip roast, does that make it a pastry? After all, both are baked in an oven, can't I call it anything I want? I sick of all these pointy-headed, know-it-all food academics telling me what to do. I've never seen a horse bake a streudel . . .


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 03:49 PM

Actually, there's folk music, folk music, folk music and stuff I like.

Yeah - I'd rather to listen to jazz any day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XlmMzUMCIIg


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 04:15 PM

"And I'm not too bothered about a discussion of standards either?"

I think that pretty well sums up the source of the problem.

I don't think that troubadours such as William of Aquitaine, Bernart of Ventadorn, Blondel de Nesle, or the Welsh bard Taliesin, or the Scottish minstrel Thomas Learmonth (the real Thomas the Rhymer) or the Icelandic skald Einarr Skúlason, when they sang a song that they had recently composed, announced that "This is a folk song I just wrote." And yet, it's people like these who conceivably may have been responsible for first penning (or quilling) some of the songs that we now call "ballads" (including, possibly, some of the Child ballads). Nor do I recall hearing that Woody Guthrie or Tom Paxton or Gordon Bok ever said that the songs they wrote are "folk songs."

There is a certain self-serving pomposity in proclaiming a song you have just written as a "folk song." To do so is to try to claim an unearned prestige for a song that has yet to prove itself.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 04:45 PM

I think Woody actually did call his compositions 'folk songs', though they aren't really folksongs according to the 1954 definition. Woody came out of a folk tradition, and he composed songs based upon folk models (for lack of a better term) but his songs are not the product of 'the folk' via oral transmission, etc. Have they become folksongs? Some probably have, 'Philadelphia Lawyer', etc. But he was much more of a commercial performer than some people realize.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: John P
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 07:02 PM

I gave up years ago on trying to maintain a definition of "folk song". I know that most people who use the term use it very loosely. I lament that "traditional music" carries, for most people, connotations of old, fusty, boring, etc.

I think the reason a lot of people are wishing for a more, well, definitive definition of "folk song" is because we feel like our genre of music has been taken over by a bunch of folks who don't play, and don't have any interest in, the genre of traditional music. I could make a very good case for rap being folk music, going by a process based definition. How would all the singer/songwriters feel if we suddenly started calling rap music "folk music"?

I really don't get lumping Joni Mitchell and Martin Carthy into the same genre.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 07:11 PM

Paraphrase:

"My momma always said. Folk music is lack a box a' choc'luts. Ya never know whatcher gonna get."
                                                                                                                              --Forrest Gump

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Betsy
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 07:43 PM

Generally the songs that we all all going to hear at some sort of Folk gathering are not the type of song to which we are going to dance wildly or otherwise.We're going to listen genarally to a story and sometimes we get the chance to join in.
We will not be performing in evening dress, dickie bows and the like and I think we all know what to expect - and sometimes - just sometimes - will will get somthing we didn't expect - which we will like or otherwise. Let folk music be a living movement, don't strangle it with definitions of what it should be . Respect the 1954, but, don't hammer us with it in a thought-police manner.
Folk gatherings need smiles ,warmth , community and enjoyment to brought back to them - not all this eternal backbiting and bickering.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Peace
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 09:34 PM

Well said, Betsy.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 10:15 PM

Tried to read as many posting as possible before contributing (failed to do all!).

QUARTS into a PINT pot - we have to accept there are (at least) two distinct types of Folk evident in the folk scene generally known as 1- traditional, 2) contemporary.

Recognize this and no problem. Try to put them under one all embracing definition and you can waste a lot of potential songwriting time.

Ewan McColl is a good person to focus on in view of his thoughts on the matter of what is folk, and the fact he contributed some of the best known FOLK (by any popular definition) songs we have in the folk scene now.

Here's an interetsing juxtaposition on a type of song I specialise in - railway songs.

Ewan McColl wrote new 'folk' songs for the pioneer BBC Radio Ballads as an arts and history project.   Dave Goulder wrote songs inspired by his life as a railway worker (on the footplate). I'm not ignoring other railway workers who have written songs about their work by the way (Don Bilston++). Are either set any more or less "proper Folk" songs?

The origins are different but both fit into the living folk tradition. ie perfectly acceptable in any folk club bar the most fundamentalist traditional (and dare I confuse things by adding the songs by a miriad of folk singers who have produced a diverse array of songs for 150 year anniversaries, local lines threatened by closure, lamenting the end of steam power and so on.... without Radio programme commissions or any relation to railways except as a passenger - just because they want to).

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 24 Mar 09 - 11:34 PM

"To do so is to try to claim an unearned prestige for a song that has yet to prove itself."

I wish it were "prestige". Unfortunately "Folk music" is a four letter word to most people.

A song is a song. Nothing really makes a folk song more prestigious than any other song. Passing a test to fit a 1954 definition does not make a song any better or elevate it to a better place.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 01:30 AM

Perhaps not where you live, Ron. I think we live in different worlds and know people who are much different. Perhaps it's the difference between the East coast and the West coast.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 01:31 AM

Or travel in far different circles.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 03:18 AM

Am not going to have time to finish this ? Sleima awaits, but will get as far as I can.

I thought that Howard Jones dealt with this quite fully but since SS continues to grasp at it as a lifebelt ? here goes.

"No musical tradition has ever evolved without the process of oral transmission."
Other musical forms depend on oral tradition for their transmission, not for their evolution. Any type of song can retain its original identity without constant oral transmission; folk songs depend on their orality for their designation 'folk'.

"All musical traditions are thus shaped - from Hip-Hop to Free Jazz, from Karaoke......"
Links with the past or variation are in no way deciding factor with most forms of music. Originality, not continuity is often the aim of composers ? and of the music industry. The pop industry depends on change for its existence and embraces and even manipulates those changes to sell its products. Selection by the community may be desirable for the continuance of all types of music, but it is in no way a deciding factor as to its form. A reggae number or an operatic aria will remain such whether a community takes it to it's heart or it is a bigger flop than Heaven's Gate ? the community has no say whatever in what form the composition takes, that is entirely the decision of the composer and the performer.
On the other hand, acceptance of and adaptation by the community is a definitive factor of a folk song ? if the folk reject it, it doesn't become a folk song ? simple as that.

"Popular and art, literacy etc ??"
Folk is a process, not a style or form of composition. No matter how a song begins, be it written or orally composed (have several examples of the latter, particularly from the non-literate Travelling community ? happy to expound another time) whether it becomes a folk song depends on it being taken up orally. If it isn't and it remains unchanged, as the man/lady said, 'it ain't a folk song.' Proof of this lies in the fact that, despite the strenuous efforts of many of SS's despised academics, the vast majority of folk songs continue to bear the 'Anon' stamp.
It is somewhat ironic that, up to relatively recently the totally non-literate Travelling communities were the last to cling on to their folk traditions. If you wanted to hear a 20 verse versions of Lamkin or The Maid and The Palmer or Tiftie's Annie or Young Hunting or The Battle of Harlaw??. you were far more likely to find them on your local gypsy site than anywhere else (apart from the rarefied atmosphere of the folk club).
Even among the literate communities, reading played only a small part in the continuance of the folk songs and ballads (again, stacks of field information on this which I am happy?.. etc).
Ballad scholar David Buchan suggested that not only did print play little part in the transmission of the ballads, but it was possible that there were no set texts. He proposed that the ballad singers took the plot of the ballad and, with the aid of a repertoire of 'commonplaces and conventions, (milk-white steed, lily-white hand etc,) he/she re-composed the piece at each singing. While Buchan didn't make his case fully (IMO) it may account for the fact that many singers have told us that they were able to 'learn' a long ballad or narrative song at only two or three hearings. This was particularly true of blind Travelling woman, Mary Delaney, who had a large repertoire of such pieces. It was our practice to record her's, and others' 'big 'songs up to half-a-dozen times. We noticed that textually, she NEVER sang a song the same way twice.

"No music ever remains unchanged".
Doesn't it? Once a composer of a reggae number, a pop song, an operatic aria writes down or records his/her composition, it becomes fixed; a reference point to return to for a 'definitive version'. Any changes that take place after that are optional, not obligatory.
On the other hand, a folk song, because of its manner of composition (whatever that was) and its method of transmission, is subject to constant change ? hence the 200 plus distinct versions of Barbara Allen, which was described by Pepys in the mid-seventeenth century as 'an old Scotch song'. Change and adaptation is a definitive factor in a folk song, not just a choice on the part of the performer.

Now, since I seem to have more time than I thought ? an additional question.
As it stands at present, folk song proper lies in the public domain ? it is the property of us all.
On the other hand a singer-songwriter piece comes into the world fully fledged with the owner's name stamped on its bum, (as well as a copyright label).
Folk songs, despite strenuous efforts on their part, lie beyond the predatory reach of P.R.S. and the Irish Musical Rights Organisation, while newly (or oldly) composed songs with known authorship, are subject to copyright laws and demand regular donations to the P.R.S. benevolent fund and other such 'charities'.
What do you re or non-definers propose should happen about this?
Should;
A.    All songs which are placed under the 'folk umbrella' by 'designated folk bodies' automatically be considered public property and fall into the public domain (wonder what Messers Dylan, Paxton and that nice Tom Bliss would have to say about that)?
B.    Should folk song proper discard its public domain right and bite the financial bullet?
C.    Or should we strive for a two-tier system (just like the National Health)?

Oh dear, was that the white rabbit with the pocket watch I just spotted ? time to go I think
Catch y'all in a weeks time.

Incidentally, my 'twisted fantasies bullshit' came from 30 years plus fieldwork among traditional singers and is well verified by the easily accessible recordings at the BL ? where did your information come from and where can I go to verify it? Have you ever ventured outside a folk club ? surely you haven't gone to your despised 'academics' for it?

Bryan;
Sorry - want to respond but if I don't go soon I'll have to endure another wek of 60mph West Clare sea mist.

Jim Carroll

PS   Don't you just know that your opponent is running out of ammunition when he or she reverts to 'folk police' and 'finger-in-ear' and 'purist'?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 05:38 AM

Here's Bert Lloyd reverting to 'purist':

'the folk traditions have never been the fixed monolithic structures that some purists would have us believe. On the contrary, styles of folk music have constantly changed, down the ages, according to changes in the fate of the labouring people who carried that music. Folk-Art traditions do not stand still any more than fine-art traditions do, which is one reason why the romantic chasers of the "authentic" in folk song so often find themselves pursuing a will-o'-the- wisp.'


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 05:38 AM

"Respect the 1954, but, don't hammer us with it in a thought-police manner.
Folk gatherings need smiles ,warmth , community and enjoyment to brought back to them - not all this eternal backbiting and bickering."

As one who 'respects the 1954' I take issue with this. To insist on the validity of a scholarly,thoughtful and widely accepted definition is not to 'hammer' anyone - nor to 'police' them. Please note that people like me have no punitive powers whatsoever - nor would we wish to acquire them! And the real-lfe folk gatherings that I regularly attend have all the "smiles, warmth, community and enjoyment" that you could wish for. Most of the "eternal backbiting and bickering", as you put it, seems to occur on Mudcat. And IMO the reason it occurs on Mudcat is because certain people have a completely irrational desire to have the particular type(s) of music that they like labelled as 'folk music' (for reasons which mystify me). It also seems that because these people can't get the '1954 people' to agree with them they keep on asking the same silly questions over and over again - presumably until one of us cracks? I can't help noticing that this technique of asking the same questions repeatedly until a different answer is elicited is one used in interrogations - which leads me to ask: who is it really that has the punitive tendencies?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 06:36 AM

"widely accepted" ????

Oh boy.

There are also certain people who have a completely irrational desire to oppose the addition of any new (ie post 1900) songs to the folk canon (for reasons which don't mystify me) and who use an outdated and outmoded definition to further that end.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 06:54 AM

Don't you just know that your opponent is running out of ammunition when he or she reverts to 'folk police' and 'finger-in-ear' and 'purist'?

I am not an opponent. All I am trying to so here is to understand the nature of Folk Music with respect to what actually happens at festivals, in folk clubs, in forums etc. and how that relates to the 1954 Definition - the nebulousness of which remains simply because of the idealistic remove between those who came up with it and the music they were attempting to define. It might be said, therefore, that Folk Music requires an academic definition before it exists at all, which, according to the 1954 faithful, it doesn't. So the 1954 Definition accounts for an extinct phenomena - at least extinct according to a particular interpretation of the criteria. So the 1954 Definition effectively kills the very music it is attempting to define simply because it doesn't allow for its continuance. And yet, the evidence would suggest that Folk Music is alive and well...

Otherwise:

Other musical forms depend on oral tradition for their transmission, not for their evolution.

Transmission is evolution; it is in the very act of transmission that a music evolves. There can be no transmission without evolution. Oral Transmission is the fundamental way music is transmitted, received and evolved.

Links with the past or variation are in no way deciding factor with most forms of music. Originality, not continuity is often the aim of composers ? and of the music industry.

Originality is founded on a reference to the past and a particular interpretation and understanding of that past. A pop song might be completely original in one sense, but it can only be said to be a pop song because of its traditional references and structures. This is true of all musical genres & conventions.

The pop industry depends on change for its existence and embraces and even manipulates those changes to sell its products.

A casual look at Myspace or YouTube will reveal countless extremely talented individuals and groups who are creating innovative pop music without selling anything. The pop industry does not manipulate change; change occurs as one generation of the musical community takes over from the other (which in terms of popular music can be a matter of months). Hip-Hop, Drum and Bass, etc. are forged in the white heat of communal musical experience and remain in a constant state of evolution.

A reggae number or an operatic aria will remain such whether a community takes it to it's heart or it is a bigger flop than Heaven's Gate ? the community has no say whatever in what form the composition takes, that is entirely the decision of the composer and the performer.

A reggae number might be completely reconstructed by way of dub or else completely transformed by vigourously sampling thereafter. No two interpretations of an operatic aria are ever alike. Change is implicit in the experience and interpretation of the music; just as a record of Traditional Irish Music from 2009 will sound very different from one made 40 years earlier; so will a record of any given operatic aria.

On the other hand, acceptance of and adaptation by the community is a definitive factor of a folk song ? if the folk reject it, it doesn't become a folk song ? simple as that.

Who are The Folk Folk though? What makes them any different from the Pop Folk, or the Opera Folk, or the Country Folk? And surely such rejections occur all the time, whatever the Folk?

Folk is a process, not a style or form of composition.

I agree; but it is a process common to all musics.

No matter how a song begins, be it written or orally composed (have several examples of the latter, particularly from the non-literate Travelling community ? happy to expound another time) whether it becomes a folk song depends on it being taken up orally.

Like a pop song being sung by our postman...

If it isn't and it remains unchanged, as the man/lady said, 'it ain't a folk song.'.

Change occurs all the time - it's an observable phenomenon of all music. And our postman might change a song beyond recognition...

Proof of this lies in the fact that, despite the strenuous efforts of many of SS's despised academics, the vast majority of folk songs continue to bear the 'Anon' stamp.

Sailor Ron's example of the Manchester Rambler is interesting in this respect; the variation came from someone who'd never heard the original, not yet of Ewan McColl. The song was only Anon as far as he was concerned.

It is somewhat ironic that, up to relatively recently the totally non-literate Travelling communities were the last to cling on to their folk traditions. If you wanted to hear a 20 verse versions of Lamkin or The Maid and The Palmer or Tiftie's Annie or Young Hunting or The Battle of Harlaw??. you were far more likely to find them on your local gypsy site than anywhere else (apart from the rarefied atmosphere of the folk club).

Fascinating stuff; but what does this tell us about the nature of those living traditions or else their value to the people who were so quick to forget them? What is more important here, the traditions or the people?

Even among the literate communities, reading played only a small part in the continuance of the folk songs and ballads (again, stacks of field information on this which I am happy?.. etc).
Ballad scholar David Buchan suggested that not only did print play little part in the transmission of the ballads, but it was possible that there were no set texts. He proposed that the ballad singers took the plot of the ballad and, with the aid of a repertoire of 'commonplaces and conventions, (milk-white steed, lily-white hand etc,) he/she re-composed the piece at each singing. While Buchan didn't make his case fully (IMO) it may account for the fact that many singers have told us that they were able to 'learn' a long ballad or narrative song at only two or three hearings.


Such mastery is beyond dispute - but that could just as well be a description of a master Rapper free-styling or of Jazz Improvisation or the sort of roll a storyteller might find themselves on. Each is working within traditional frameworks and shaping the rest in real-time. DJs do this too; as do heavy-metal guitarists and classical continuo players.

This was particularly true of blind Travelling woman, Mary Delaney, who had a large repertoire of such pieces. It was our practice to record her's, and others' 'big 'songs up to half-a-dozen times. We noticed that textually, she NEVER sang a song the same way twice.

Jim - seriously, I'm drooling here; what I wouldn't give to have heard this woman!

Once a composer of a reggae number, a pop song, an operatic aria writes down or records his/her composition, it becomes fixed; a reference point to return to for a 'definitive version'. Any changes that take place after that are optional, not obligatory.

This isn't true; change is implicit in the nature of the beast. Even the original record is the product of an evolved and evolving musical process. The record can only be a document of a particular moment in time, after which the song goes on evolving - witness live versions of recorded songs, or other studio sessions, cover versions etc. There can be no such thing as a definitive version of anything. It's like Chopin piano music - all the notes are there, but each player will play it differently, and those nuances of interpretation will become part of a tradition of interpretation thereafter, if successful to The Community.

On the other hand, a folk song, because of its manner of composition (whatever that was) and its method of transmission, is subject to constant change ? hence the 200 plus distinct versions of Barbara Allen, which was described by Pepys in the mid-seventeenth century as 'an old Scotch song'. Change and adaptation is a definitive factor in a folk song, not just a choice on the part of the performer.

I agree, but I don't see that as being any different from 200 plus distinct interpretations of any other song. All music is part of the same evolutionary process, and whilst we Traddies will delight in such evident diversity, it remains a somewhat rarefied delight; a specialism whereby any singer of Traditional Song must be, in part, an academic to appreciate such things in the first place. I'm a bit bi-polar in this respect; just as half on my wants the 1954 Definition to be true, the other half wants to question the very nature of that truth. If you read my blog The Liege, The Lief and The Traditional Folk Song you'll see what I mean.

As it stands at present, folk song proper lies in the public domain ? it is the property of us all.
On the other hand a singer-songwriter piece comes into the world fully fledged with the owner's name stamped on its bum, (as well as a copyright label).


In practise, however, it would appear that one may sing anything one wants, even without bothering to mention the author even when one is known. Maybe this is how the traditional songs became Anon in the first place? Or is this another part of the Folk Process whereby, over time, the song becomes more important than the singer / composer?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 07:08 AM

"The song becomes more important than the singer"
Haven't got time for full response now but there's enough evidence from within a living tradition and one that only died within the memory of the singer we met, that the song has always been more important than the singer - have recorded songs that have been made up in the presence of the singer, who was totally unable to recall the maker and totally disinterested in doing so - it didn't seem important.
Mary Delaney can be heard on 'Voice of the People', 'From Puck To Appleby' and 'A Century of Song'.
Now I'm really off.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,John from Kemsing
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 07:11 AM

John P,
       Joni Mitchell wrote and sang "Big Yellow Taxi", a song concerned with environmental issues, relevant to many people at that time. Later Martin Carthy sang a song concerned with the Falklands war, also an issue relevant to many people at that time. There are songs being written and sung concerning contemporary issues, by numerous people , all the time. Surely, in those instances, do they not all come under the same "genre"?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 08:18 AM

Yes, John from Kemsing, the creation of the songs you mentioned is the continuation of a long tradition. Whether they stand the test of time, of course, is another matter.

The will o' the wisperers will say "Yes, of course they can become folk songs, how strange you asked. Look - it says so in the definition".

BUT (and here's the rub) the archaic oral process these songs have to undergo first, in order to satisfy the 'definition', are next to impossible nowadays due to advances in technology never dreamed about by the - now non-existent - IFMC back in 1954. And the will o' the wisperers know that perfectly well.

So, they will say YES, but actually they mean NO.

They'll tell you "You just want anything you happen to like to be called a folk song". What they mean is that they don't want anything they don't happen to like to be called a folk song. And that means just about anything 'new'.

Mercifully for all of us, it will be the generations of the future who will ultimately decide. And I have every faith in them.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Howard Jones
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 08:57 AM

Yes, it is harder for a modern composed song to evolve into a folk song, because of the existence of recorded versions. So what?

No one is saying that just because "Eleanor Rigby" can't be described as a folk song now that it couldn't be in 200 years time. That's what the folk process is - a song originates, and if it evolves and changes, it becomes a folk song. If it doesn't evolve, it's not a folk song. No more, no less. It's a description, not a value juegement.

Assuming that the folk process will continue, despite the difficulties, there can be no doubt that folk songs of 200 years hence will sound very different from those of today, just as the those of today are very different from 200 years ago. They may well include songs which originated from the works of Lennon/McCartney, Andrew Lloyd Webber or Oasis.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 09:23 AM

the archaic oral process these songs have to undergo first, in order to satisfy the 'definition', are next to impossible nowadays due to advances in technology never dreamed about by the - now non-existent - IFMC back in 1954.

Yes, this is what I've been saying all along. "Seeds of love" reached us by a different route from "Streets of London", and it's a route that is now very largely blocked off. That's not a value judgment, it's just history: it's a descriptive statement about the way stuff happens (or doesn't happen).

I don't understand why this is controversial, let alone why Sminky thinks it's some kind of elitist conspiracy. Is the problem with the phrase 'folk process' - shall we call it something else? The Snelgrove Process, let's say. While it's true that singers continue to sing, players continue to play, listeners continue to evaluate and no two renditions of the same song or tune will ever be quite alike*, in this age of mechanical reproduction these sources of variation can never have the same effect that they used to have. As a result, the Snelgrove Process has effectively ceased to operate, and may never be any more Snelgrove Songs.

There now - everyone who thinks it matters will know exactly what I'm talking about, everyone who thinks it doesn't will think I'm wittering on about nothing, and we can all agree to differ.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go and start a Snelgrove Club.

*SS is right about this; it is a matter of degree, and to some** extent it is all folk music.
**More precisely, to a very, very limited extent.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 09:38 AM

"I think we live in different worlds and know people who are much different. Perhaps it's the difference between the East coast and the West coast."

I agree Don, and that is the beauty of music- it brings those worlds together or at least gives those wishing to look an insight. Traditional folk music has always done that for me, and contemporary folk shows us paths.

Earlier when I said that some people consider "folk" a four letter word, I was not talking about the folk community. It is the outside world that has a "Mighty Wind" image of what we are about. I believe it is also the bickering and judgemental nature that turns people off. I guess we continue to learn.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 09:50 AM

If the folk process has effectively "ceased to operate" as you say, Mr Radish, (and please don't get silly about the name) yet it remains part of the 1954 definition, then how can any 'new' songs become folk songs under said definition?

I'll go and start a Snelgrove Club

Best of luck with that.

If it doesn't evolve, it's not a folk song. No more, no less. It's a description, not a value juegement.

Sounds like a law to me.

So, Howard, where do people get to sing these songs so that they may "evolve and change"?

Folk (or Snelgrove) Clubs? Ha! Read some of the posts about that subject.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 09:55 AM

That's what the folk process is - a song originates, and if it evolves and changes, it becomes a folk song. If it doesn't evolve, it's not a folk song. No more, no less. It's a description, not a value juegement.

Traditional Songs are supposedly no longer changing and evolving; traddy purists (like me) get irked when someone, however so innocently, might sing Child Ballad #10 to the melody traditionally associated with Child Ballad #1 - and how many times do I sing Child #1 to be told I'm doing the wrong words? Maybe the irony is that Folk is too subjective ever to have an objective definition; and even a purist like me is not beyond coming up with my own tune for a traditional set of words even when the traditional melody is alive and well; and if there is no melody, I might extemporise one as I'm going along. How often do I hear that the melody to the Twa Corbies is traditional to that song? On the Songs of Witchcraft CD, someone even sets a poem by Robert Graves to the Traditional melody of the Twa Corbies. Does this really bother anyone? Or is this all part of The Folk Process too? Or is the Folk Process really so remote and archaic that it doesn't happen any more? Uber Traddy Peter Bellamy wrote his own tune to On Board a '98 because he didn't think traditional one was good enough for the words; this was the song he opened his shows with, and for an encore he'd do a Stones cover.

No one's trying to say anything that isn't true here; go through the Digital Tradition - there you'll find Traditional songs rubbing shoulders with Dylan songs, Alan Bell songs, Johnny Handle songs, Graham Miles songs, and Beatles songs. There too you'll find at least one uncredited Ron Baxter song (his parody of The Fields of Athenry) and any amount of other stuff, no doubt, which languishes uncredited and, by default, anonymous. Diverse as it all is, it's all gathered together in the name of Folk.

Despite my occasional tampering with melody, I sing 99% Traditional English Language Song. My reason for doing so is because there is a quality in such material I find nowhere else which I feel is entirely due to the extent such songs have been shaped and refined by the cultural and individual ingenuity and circumstance which some might call The Folk Process. Looking at the old Broadsides and Chapbooks however, I begin to wonder; maybe it's due to something entirely, but as happy as I am living in 2009, I like old stuff too, (even if I do sing it like a bad pop singer). Folk is a concept as much as it is a Construct; it might even be said to be a Conspiracy, but at the end of the day it's about what speaks to the individual singer and what s/he is moved to sing on their next visit to their local folk club, singaround or festival. It is their Folk Sensitivities that moves them to be there in the first place, and to have chosen a song with respect of that sensitivity, be it traditional or otherwise, but I'd say that ultimately, it is the Folk Sensitivity of the individual singer that makes any given song a Folk Song, be it a traditional ballad, a Christy Moore song, or their version of a Johnny Cash cover of a Nine Inch Nails song.

This is what I see happening in the clubs & festivals anyway; songs sung in the name of folk.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 10:19 AM

*SS is right about this; it is a matter of degree, and to some** extent it is all folk music.
**More precisely, to a very, very limited extent.


It's not a matter of degree at all, it's a matter of Traditional Songs and Folk Songs being two completely different things which is what all the available evidence suggests. What we really need here is what Wiki calls disambiguation - because according to you guys most of what happens in the name of folk these days isn't folk at all. Now that just can't be right - or can it?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: John P
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 10:24 AM

How interesting that, because I favor a less-broad definition of the term "folk music", some folks seem to think I'm some sort of folk police. I've said it before and I'll say it again now: YOU SHOULD PLAY AND LISTEN TO WHATEVER KIND OF MUSIC YOU LIKE!!!! Clear enough? None of this is about what people should sing or listen to, what happens at folk festivals, whether or not a song is any good, or whether or not a singer has any value. It's about the definition of a word, nothing else. No real-world repercussions for anyone's music making or enjoyment.

As someone who has been accosted by the authenticity-snob folk police in real-world situations (like during performances), I would never tell anyone they were playing the wrong music or that they were playing it wrong. I play traditional music in a variety of non-traditional ways, and don't have any qualms about changing a melody, fixing the words, or playing it on whatever instruments come to hand.

I disagree that the folk process has stopped. I see it at work all around me all the time, in my playing and that of my friends. The only way it could stop is if we all listen to those who say that Child #10 (which Child #10?) should never be sung to the tune of Child #1 (which Child #1?). Of course it should be. If it works better for you to sing it that way, then do so.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Mr Happy
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 10:29 AM

A webmaster courted me nine months without fail
He fairly won my heart, sent me an email
With his laptop near to hand, types his notes so clever
And if I was with my love, I'd live forever.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 10:33 AM

Child #10 (which Child #10?) should never be sung to the tune of Child #1 (which Child #1?).

I mean, of course, those who sing The Cruel Sister to the Lay the Bent to the Bonny Broom melody & chorus, thus making a nonsense out the bawdy eroticism thereof, however so plaintive the melody. Is sloppy sourcing part of the Folk Process too I wonder? It might just well be after all!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: John P
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 10:44 AM

I would say that sourcing isn't part of the folk process at all. That's academic ethnomusicology, more or less the opposite of what I experience as the folk process.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Mr Happy
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 11:04 AM

Strange news is come to town, strange news is winging
Strange news flies up and down about what he's singing
Some people just can't tell if its trad or folk song
But the learned ones who know say its all wrong!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: John P
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 12:13 PM

hee hee hee

And where is my song gone, with its words so trad-like,
It has gone across the sea, to an American open mike,
I'm afraid the internet will set and fix its beauty,
And if it was my song, I'd do my duty.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 01:01 PM

"The will o' the wisperers will say "Yes, of course they can become folk songs, how strange you asked. Look - it says so in the definition".

BUT (and here's the rub) the archaic oral process these songs have to undergo first, in order to satisfy the 'definition', are next to impossible nowadays ..."

Yep. I agree with 'working Radish' you have summed it up very nicely, 'Sminky' - the fact that you don't like this conclusion is neither here nor there and shooting the messenger achieves nothing.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 01:31 PM

Shimrod - at least you have the courage to say there can be no 'new' folk songs.

However, pardon me if I say "over my rotting, maggot-ridden corpse there can't".

Some of us actually care about what we pass on to future generations. Pity you don't.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 01:33 PM

If the folk process has effectively "ceased to operate" as you say, Mr Radish, (and please don't get silly about the name) yet it remains part of the 1954 definition, then how can any 'new' songs become folk songs under said definition?

Effectively ceased to operate, more or less ceased to operate, ceased to operate except in a few areas - take your pick. There's room for a certain amount of optimism about contemporary songs going into the Snelgrove Process - just not very much.

where do people get to sing these songs so that they may "evolve and change"?

No, Sminky, not in Folk Clubs - the Snelgrove Process isn't going to get out of bed for a Folk Club. Where people sing with their workmates during the day and sing with their friends in the evening - ordinary people who wouldn't dream of going to a Folk Club - that's where the Snelgrove Process happens.

What's that, Skippy? Most people don't do that kind of thing any more? Well, stone me.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 03:24 PM

The IFMC still exist, the name has been changed. They do not tend to use the term "Folk Music, having long ago replaced it with "tradition music", and they lean more toward "Ethnomusicology" to describe their work.
International Council for Traditional Music


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 03:48 PM

Sminky, given to over-dramatisation, are you?



Nevertheless, watch my lips: it's not my fault!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 03:57 PM

I disagree that the folk process has stopped. I see it at work all around me all the time, in my playing and that of my friends.

I don't agree. Something happens every time someone plays a song a bit differently, and every time someone listens to a song played a bit differently and likes it - and, since it's hard to play a song without playing it a bit differently, that something happens quite a lot. But there's more to the folk process than variation, just as there's more to evolution than the occurrence of mutations. If lots of people are singing the same songs, and those songs survive 100 or 200 years without being written down or recorded, and in the process they sprout different variants, shed verses, acquire new verses, lose old tunes, gain new tunes - that's the folk process.

I'm not against new songs - I just don't believe they're folk songs. I'm not saying they won't become folk songs - I'm just saying I think it's very unlikely, because of the way society's changed in the last 200 years. Above all, I'm not saying I don't want there to be any new folk songs - I think it'd be great. I just don't think it's very likely.

As for the "Snelgrove Club", that was just my way of pointing out that the dispute over the word "folk" isn't going to go away*. Sure, we could all accept a situation where folk clubs host traditional music and just about anything else, but my experience of that setup is that you end up with not very much traditional music and a great deal of everything else.

*Although some contemporary singers refuse to go near it. For me the word "folk" has always meant traditional folk so for me the word "folk" doesn't describe what I do because I write pop songs, even though they're not very popular. - James Yorkston. (Maybe it's different in Scotland.)


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 04:37 PM

The "dispute" over the meaning of the word folk is actually over, and has been for a long time--as mentioned above, researchers, academics, anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, have moved on and found other words, and definitions for what they do.

The word "Folk" has pretty much been left for people to use as they please--the discussions about definitions here are pretty much irrelevant to anything--


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 05:13 PM

M.Ted

The IFMC still exist, the name has been changed. They do not tend to use the term "Folk Music, having long ago replaced it with "tradition music", and they lean more toward "Ethnomusicology" to describe their work.
International Council for Traditional Music


Sorted.

The International Council for Folk Music has become the International Council for Traditional Music so the 1954 definition of folk music becomes the 1954 definition of traditional music.

There might be one or two people who need a little re-education though. From another thread - "For more than 30 years Mudcat's Dick Miles has been play and writing traditional music in England and Ireland."


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 05:47 PM

The IFMC still exist, the name has been changed. They do not tend to use the term "Folk Music, having long ago replaced it with "tradition music", and they lean more toward "Ethnomusicology" to describe their work.

So, there we have it - the International Council for Traditional Music. Maybe they got wise to the nebulosity of the the term Folk Music too. Their objective: to assist in the study, practice, documentation, preservation and dissemination of traditional music and dance, including folk, popular, classical, urban, and other genres, of all countries. One wonders how much credence they still give to the 1954 definition of Folk Music - after all, 55 years is a long for an academic theory to remain unchallenged. In the reactionary backwaters of the Folk Revival 55 years is just about long enough for it to become written in stone. Ethnomusicology is defined (by Carole Pegg) as the study of social and cultural aspects of music and dance in local and global contexts. I've known ethnomusicologists do their post-graduate research into everything from Gamelan of Java to the Barbour Shop Quartets of Teeside. I dare say, too, one might study the Folk Songs of amateur Folk Singers as practised in the Folk Clubs of Lancashire irrespective of whether or not what they're singing fits with some archaic criteria that to many here has such an absolute currency.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 06:03 PM

There might be one or two people who need a little re-education though. From another thread - "For more than 30 years Mudcat's Dick Miles has been play and writing traditional music in England and Ireland."
Snail,
he probably meant,playing traditional music and writing traditional sounding music,I am pleased he liked my music,that is all that matters as far as I am concerned.
it will not be the first time songs have been mistaken for traditional.
Bob Dylan is one person who has made this mistake on occasions.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 06:52 PM

M.Ted, thank you for this:

The "dispute" over the meaning of the word folk is actually over, and has been for a long time--as mentioned above, researchers, academics, anthropologists, ethnomusicologists, have moved on and found other words, and definitions for what they do.

The word "Folk" has pretty much been left for people to use as they please--the discussions about definitions here are pretty much irrelevant to anything--


I have said more than once in these threads that the work folk needs to be simply abandoned as something useful.

""Folk" as an adjective is almost completely worthless. Take any phrase that has it and remove the word "folk" and you'll find that the phrase still means exactly the same thing, without the excess verbiage."

I was with Sinister Supporter at the beginning of this, as I think his idea of "folk" being "anything designated as such" is basic common sense -- from a pragmatic, descriptivist perspective. Then he started to make what I see as an irrelevant (and inaccurate) division between "academics" and non-academics, in order to dismiss "academic" notions. Lost me there. The reason being, that, as M.Ted says, "academics" have questioned and argued over "folk" from all these perspectives, including the supposed non-academic perspective that S.S. advocates.

This is why I never use the word "folk" when I am trying to convey something precisely or trying to understand something truly. This is why, sorry to tell you Sinister S, true "academics" rarely use the word; it's very old fashioned-- consider that the Society for Ethnomusicology, ushering in a newer approach, was formed in 1955. Now, I may use the term, for convenience's sake, in those "designated contexts" where imprecision is desired or where mutual understanding is implicit (like Mudcat, for example).

In the first type of scenario, it is meaningless and excess verbiage. In the second case, not using "folk" could mean having to use excess. Isn't this the case with most words?

Use it or lose it. Words are functional.

Gibb


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 07:13 PM

Gibb - get over yourself and read my last post.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 07:21 PM

Sinister,

One wonders how much credence they still give to the 1954 definition of Folk Music - after all, 55 years is a long for an academic theory to remain unchallenged.

Yes! See, this is what has had me confused about some of your statements. Since it is such a long time, i.e. since common sense dictates that it probably would have been challenged many times, why have you preceded to characterize "academics" as if they adhered to 1950s ideas? Even if you were not aware that they had not, you'd have had reasonable doubt. I have been scratching my head, and I gave up on posting to these topics because the logic didn't make sense to me, because...The idea of "folk song" is decidedly not academic. Maybe all along you've meant "amateur academic," "crappy academic," "weekend academic," or "non-academic academic"?

I think what you really mean is "folk academic"!

I dare say, too, one might study the Folk Songs of amateur Folk Singers as practised in the Folk Clubs of Lancashire irrespective of whether or not what they're singing fits with some archaic criteria that to many here has such an absolute currency.

I dare say they have done that many times over. But the focus would be more on the cultural who? - what? - when? - why? of it, less than how it was labeled.

Gibb


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 07:25 PM

Gibb - get over yourself and read my last post.

!
My timing here is off (lots of typing/reading), but I eventually got there.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 07:35 PM

Gibb Sahib

I think what you really mean is "folk academic"!

No Sahib, he means "traditional academic".


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 25 Mar 09 - 07:45 PM



he probably meant,playing traditional music and writing traditional sounding music

I can only go by what he said. I'll leave it to you to put him right.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 02:44 AM

Another serious organisation focused on research into 'traditional song' preferencing the term 'traditional' here, with some names I recognise:

TFS Website

TFS Yahoo Group


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 06:51 AM

Then he started to make what I see as an irrelevant (and inaccurate) division between "academics" and non-academics, in order to dismiss "academic" notions.

Maybe I did at that, Gibb - but the divisions are in no way irrelevant, nor yet are they inaccurate. On one hand you have the thing that is being studied, and on the other you have the academics who are studying it. The thing exists quite happily without the academics - as in the case of people singing and playing music as part of their day to day life without realising that what they're doing is Folk Music, or Traditional Music, or Ethnic Music. It's the academics who decide that - then they decide what Folk Music is (and by implication what it isn't), and so they come up with a set of criteria to determine that.

Such criteria however, is just a theory, just as The Folk Process is just a theory. As theories they remain fluid, but somehow they have been seized upon by the Folk Faithful who assume that because they have once enjoyed a degree of academic sanction that they must, therefore, be objectively true. Thus does a theory become a theology - a theology which accounts for much of the reactions we have seen in this thread, by the non-academic folk-faithful carrying the dead weight of redundant theory around with them as if it was fact if only to justify that what they're doing is, therefore, Real Folk Music. We used to see reasoning like that from WAV, who, for all his qualifications in the field of anthropology believed that the only way forward for humanity was the implementation of Ethnic Cleansing. I see similar ideas afoot here, where what is, after all, merely personal taste must be then be justified, indeed sanctified, with respect of what has become the Holy Law of the 1954 Definition - and woe betide the heretic who dares suggest otherwise.

It matters not to me whether the academics at the ICTM still abide by the 1954 Definition or still believe in the fairy tale that is The Folk Process. I used to believe in it myself until I realised there are other far more plausible ways to account for such things (such as individual creativity and vernacular variation, things which still occur, and will keep on occurring as long as people sing songs) - and that consequently once we remove The Folk Process, what we have come to think of as The Tradition might not actually exist beyond the imaginations of those who really, really want it to. Preciousness is all very well, but Fundamentalism is unforgivable. One thing in which there can be no dispute however, is that the music exists, likewise the songs, and what makes it Folk Music is the context in which it occurs and the individual singers and musicians who, whether they believe in the 1954 Definition or not, keep it very much alive simply because it suits them very nicely to do so.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 06:58 AM

PS -

Thanks for those links, Rosie.

Here's another which I'd say is the most important page any self respect Folky / Traddy should have bookmarked if they didn't already:

http://www.tradsong.org/link.html


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 07:16 AM

"Such criteria however, is just a theory, just as The Folk Process is just a theory. As theories they remain fluid, but somehow they have been seized upon by the Folk Faithful who assume that because they have once enjoyed a degree of academic sanction that they must, therefore, be objectively true. Thus does a theory become a theology - a theology which accounts for much of the reactions we have seen in this thread, by the non-academic folk-faithful carrying the dead weight of redundant theory around with them as if it was fact if only to justify that what they're doing is, therefore, Real Folk Music. We used to see reasoning like that from WAV, who, for all his qualifications in the field of anthropology believed that the only way forward for humanity was the implementation of Ethnic Cleansing. I see similar ideas afoot here, where what is, after all, merely personal taste must be then be justified, indeed sanctified, with respect of what has become the Holy Law of the 1954 Definition - and woe betide the heretic who dares suggest otherwise."

What utter specious nonsense!

As a scientist I know that all theories are provisional and can be replaced by alternative, more comprehensive theories with greater explanatory power. I have not, to date, seen any such comprehensive, alternative theory emerge from the Folk World. All I've encountered are Dave Harker's outrageous and mischievous proposition that the wicked Middle Classes stole the Workers' Music (a view endlessly expounded by WLD until he left this forum) and an endless stream of people who demand that 'experts' should admit their particular favourite form(s) of contemporary music to the Folk Canon - and, presumably, take some sort of responsibility for such decisions (?) To this latter group my view has always been - Go away, make your own decisions, and take responsibility for them!

As for bringing 'Ethnic Cleansing' and 'heretic hunting' into this discussion, that is really, really beneath contempt! Those of us who happen to believe that the 1954 definition has great explanatory power (in spite of its age - it is, in fact, younger than me!) have no desire to dictate what other people listen to and no power to enforce anything even if we wanted to. Disagreeing with an alternative point of view is NOT the same as heresy hunting.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 07:19 AM

Please don't bring WAVery into this. I put as much time and energy into trying to argue sense into that guy as anyone here.

what is, after all, merely personal taste must be then be justified, indeed sanctified, with respect of what has become the Holy Law of the 1954 Definition - and woe betide the heretic who dares suggest otherwise

What - or who - are you talking about? As some of us keep saying, "these things are different from those things" is not a value judgment.

the fairy tale that is The Folk Process. I used to believe in it myself until I realised there are other far more plausible ways to account for such things (such as individual creativity and vernacular variation, things which still occur, and will keep on occurring as long as people sing songs

Individual creativity and vernacular variation aren't an alternative explanation to the folk process - they're a central part of it. And yes, they still occur, but clean, unaltered reproduction of songs with their words and tune intact occurs a lot more. As I said above, there's more to the folk process than variation, just as there's more to evolution than the occurrence of mutations.

the music exists, likewise the songs, and what makes it Folk Music is the context in which it occurs

Is Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez folk music? I've heard it at a folk club.

Really, it comes down to one question: is it ever possible to listen to someone performing at a folk club or singaround and then say, "that was good but it's not what I'd call folk music"?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 08:49 AM

Hmmmm - Methinks I'll ignore Shimrod's post as being typical of the fundamentalist hysteria I've encountered on this thread thus far. I will, however, take issue with his calling my last post specious - nothing in the world is more specious that the 1954 Definition or yet its adoption as absolute by the Folk Faithful. As I've indicated here already, maybe WLD had a point after all...

Otherwise:   

As some of us keep saying, "these things are different from those things" is not a value judgment.

To say that a Folk Song can only be a Traditional Song is a value judgement; it is rejecting all the other music that occurs within a Folk Context as not being real Folk Music because it is judged not to be so by a set of (quite possibly specious) criteria. Accordingly, most of what will be heard at, say, The Fylde Folk Festival this year won't actually be Folk Music, and most of what will be heart at The Steamer Folk Club tonight won't actually be Folk Music. It also says that the 100% improvised music I play on folk instruments isn't Folk Music, nor yet is 97% of Kip of the Serenes by Dr Strangely Strange. How is that not a value judgement?   

Individual creativity and vernacular variation aren't an alternative explanation to the folk process - they're a central part of it.

Individual creativity and vernacular variation are an observable alternative to a theory which in no way can be subjected to any sort of empirical scrutiny. The evidence is circumstantial and the interpretation of that evidence as a Folk Process remains suspiciously (and quite possible speciously) convenient. Interestingly, I first came across the term in a sleeve-note by Roger Nicolson to his 1976 album Times and Traditions for Dulcimer thus: Almaine. Adapted from a piece based on a traditional dance form by Bartholomew Penkil (?-1670) in the Baltic Lute Book. The folk process continues...

I'm cool with that.      

Is Rodrigo's Concierto de Aranjuez folk music? I've heard it at a folk club.

Me too, although not with the orchestra, which is perhaps a crucial factor in my accepting it as folk music in that context. As I've said elsewhere in other contexts it might be something else altogether, but when Folk play Music, in the name of Folk Music, then what else can it be other than Folk Music? This is my Folk as Flotsam theory by the way; anything that floats can be Flotsam - it is defined by context alone. Of course there might be those who insist that only articles accidentally discarded from a ship can be real Flotsam (and that those articles deliberately discarded are Jetsam) but for the purposes of us every day beach-combers, Flotsam is defined simply, and pragmatically, as something from elsewhere that has been fetched up by the sea - be it a fishing float from France, a For Sale sign from the Wirral, or a tree trunk from the Liffey. There is also a generality of understanding here; Folk Musicians and Singers in Folk Clubs and singarounds aren't professionals, they are hearty amateurs, very often non-musicians; non-musos certainly. Therefore much of the charm of actual folk music (its folk character if you will) lies in the evident and entirely corporeal shortfall between intention and result. It lies in the immediacy of its empirical realisation and experience thereof; it can never happen that way again. This is not to justify the GEFF conspiracy, just to recognise that some of us will never amount to anything more than bad pop singers. So - Come-All-Ye!   

Really, it comes down to one question: is it ever possible to listen to someone performing at a folk club or singaround and then say, "that was good but it's not what I'd call folk music"?

If that's the case you must ask yourself (as I have done many the time) why it wasn't folk music? And how it might have been folk music? And by what means a definition of Folk Music (even the 1954 Definition) might be vague enough to allow for the fact that it is, in fact, folk music?

*

This is an epiphany for me; I've emerged out of a crisis of the faith in which I very nearly rejected the whole idea of Folk Music simply because of the impossibility of the 1954 Definition and those who adheer to it. However, when I do THIS, I am doing Folk Music, Feral folk indeed; and in doing so, the folk process continues...


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 10:52 AM

"Hmmmm - Methinks I'll ignore Shimrod's post as being typical of the fundamentalist hysteria I've encountered on this thread thus far..."

Fundamentalist hysteria! Talk about the 'pot calling the kettle black' - I would say that hurling around accusations of 'ethnic cleansing' and 'heretic hunting' is pretty hysterical! In what way was my post more 'hysterical' than yours, SS?

Your last post is a cowardly cop-out (and that is the most 'hysterical that I'm going to get). All of your posts seem to suggest that you possess some sort of moral superiority (not to mention esoteric knowledge) which allows you to summarily dismiss the opinions of others. You remind me of someone from my past whose main fault was that she wasn't very good at arguing. When she was losing an argument she would resort to the underhand tactic of saying, "I find your views to be offensive" - which crumbled all but the toughest of cookies.
Suggesting that the 1954 definition still has a lot going for it is, I insist, not any sort of 'moral failing' (I feel no guilt) but part of a stand against the 'anything goes in a folk club' brigade and their endless whining.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 12:03 PM

Hey, Shimrod. I'm sure we're all eternally grateful to you for your 'stand' against anything new being sung in folk clubs.

Be sure to let us all know if anyone has the temerity to ignore you, now won't you?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 12:16 PM

Endless whining..? and this from a member of the 1954 Brigade? It'd be laughable if it wasn't so sad. The answer is simpy, if you don't like what's going on the folk clubs, don't go..see how easy it is?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 12:19 PM

Depressingly, I find myself being able to see both sides of the argument.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: greg stephens
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 12:24 PM

Sinister Supporter: you can, of course, call anything you like folk music, and noone can stop you. And you can see a black and white striped horselike creature walking down the road, and call it a giraffe. Maybe it is, to you. Good luck. But I shall carry on calling it a zebra, because I find it convenient to do so. I have listened to the music you have posted as "folk" or "feral folk". Well, you call it folk. I don't. I can define what I call folk in terms of observable characteristics. Could you list the characteristics by which your posted music is defined as "folk"? Or, indeeed, "feral folk"?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Banjiman
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 12:25 PM

aaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 12:26 PM

Spleen Cringe

Depressingly, I find myself being able to see both sides of the argument.

Really? I find myself disagreeing with both of them.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 12:28 PM

This thread courted me
twelve month or better
they fairly won my heart
e-mailed me a letter
with their mouse in their hand,
they look so clever,
and if I could be with my love
I would live forever.

- trad. arr. written 2009


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 12:39 PM

Greg Stephens: "I can define what I call folk in terms of observable characteristics."

Not being arsey or anything, but a lot of these discussions become confusing when we are discussing music - and there are no illustrations or examples.

In fact I posted a thread earlier which asked a very similar question (What is 'Folk Character'), though not many people responded. The 1954 definition refers to 'folk character', and similarly there has been mention here of Peter Bellamy's own use of the term 'Folk Idiom'. Yet I'm not sure I personally know what either of these terms actually mean!

So, how would you describe 'observable folk characteristics?'
Or indeed how would anyone else watching this thread for that matter..


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 12:52 PM

"Be sure to let us all know if anyone has the temerity to ignore you, now won't you?"

But they do ignore me - all the time! Sob, sob!!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 12:54 PM

I am not an accademic nor an ethnmusicologist, I am a lover of what I CALL FOLK MUSIC. What that is, is, at least to me, hard to define, so I'll fall back on a quote I heard many years ago. Q "What does an okapi look like? A. "It's hard to describe, but you'd know it if you saw it". In the same way I know what I regard as folk song when I hear it. As to the 54 definition, I can understand it, and to some degree agree with it, however times move on, and so do definitions [or should do]. I have no argument to the 54 definitiobn if it refers to 'traditional', but to cast songs, and music, composed in the 'folk idiom' into the outer darkness I find unacceptable. Lets face it, some of Kieth Marsden's songs were [are?] thought to be 'trad', Poverty Knock was believed to be, and how many times has John Connelly's Fiddler's Green been credited as {Irish} traditional. To me they are as 'folk' as The Outlandish Knight, not YET traditional but still 'folk'. Of course lots of stuff performed in folk clubs isn't, by any definition folk music [unless you go with the "...never heard a horse...."], and that I regret, but that says more about me that the perf


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: greg stephens
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 01:02 PM

Sleepy Rosie: a couple of the "observable characteristics" of folk music (using the term as a lot of longterm folk enthusiasts do) would be
1) Collectively owned
2) Collectively and successively modified over time.

I appreciate, of course, that a lot of people have totally different definitions of the word (see a million threads and books on the subject). Most of these other defintiions do nothing for me. eg defining stuff as folk because it is "played on folk insruments"(whatever they are), or "because it is played in folk clubs" or "because I like it" or "because I put it on youtube". These are all definitions which have been advocated here, but I find them uninformative and of no use to me. So, I don't use them.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 01:03 PM

Fundamentalist hysteria! Talk about the 'pot calling the kettle black' - I would say that hurling around accusations of 'ethnic cleansing' and 'heretic hunting' is pretty hysterical! In what way was my post more 'hysterical' than yours, SS?

I only mentioned Ethnic Cleansing and Heresy with respect of the cultural fundamentalism that invariably attends the 1954 Definition. Most folkies, it would seem, don't need a definition - it's something they love, and they do it & enjoy it accordingly. It being Folk Music, which, according to the 1954 Fundamentalists, probably isn't folk music at all - like Tommy Armstrong's Marla Hill Ducks, which I'll be singing tonight at the Steamer in Fleetwood.   

Your last post is a cowardly cop-out (and that is the most 'hysterical that I'm going to get).

Accepted. I was just trying to avoid another over long post whilst answering Pip's points with the attention they deserved.

All of your posts seem to suggest that you possess some sort of moral superiority (not to mention esoteric knowledge) which allows you to summarily dismiss the opinions of others.

A somewhat fundamentalist reaction to my particular heresy. I am not possessed of any moral superiority or esoteric knowledge, nor am I dismissing the opinions of others. What I am doing, however, is reporting on what I have seen & heard being done In the Name of Folk over the last 35 years and wondering how this may or may not relate to the 1954 Definition. I've done this by suggesting (and indeed demonstrating) that the 1954 Definition is so nebulous that it might well define any music, and is, therefore, well past its sell-by date. Once can't help but wonder if in changing their name the International Council for Traditional Music feel the same way, and, if so, they are aware of the somewhat cancerous legacy they have left us in the 1954 Definition which no longer fits the facts of Folk but sits as a tumour at its very heart. Benign or not, I think it's time we cut it out.      

You remind me of someone from my past whose main fault was that she wasn't very good at arguing. When she was losing an argument she would resort to the underhand tactic of saying, "I find your views to be offensive" - which crumbled all but the toughest of cookies.

A charming but irrelevant anecdote. I don't find any views to be offensive, and my central point, however so wayward at times in its delivery, is that Folk Music is Empirical rather than Theoretical and that we must, therefore, consider the facts over and above the somewhat antiquated theory.

Suggesting that the 1954 definition still has a lot going for it is, I insist, not any sort of 'moral failing' (I feel no guilt) but part of a stand against the 'anything goes in a folk club' brigade and their endless whining.

In my experience it is the 1954 Faithful who do the most whining; the AGIFC brigade just get on with what they do in the sure knowledge that what they're doing is Folk. They run Folk Clubs, Festivals, Fora, Singarounds, Magazines, Agencies; or else they do that amazing thing which is to actually turn up at Folk Club or singaround and sing a Folk Song, traditional, or otherwise. Like me, tonight, when I'll be singing the Tommy Armstrong song indicated above; in no way traditional (except the tune) but a Folk Song notwithstanding.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 01:03 PM

"Endless whining..? and this from a member of the 1954 Brigade? It'd be laughable if it wasn't so sad. The answer is simpy, if you don't like what's going on the folk clubs, don't go..see how easy it is?"

Reminds me of, "if you don't like it here, go back to where you came from!" Not a very enlightened attitude (now who's got the moral failings?).

Apart from that, I've been going to folk clubs for over 40 years (that's where I come from) and for all of that time there have been people who have wanted to replace the music sung or played there with the latest fads in popular music. I have always resisted those people because I go to folk clubs to hear traditional songs and tunes - if I want to listen to pop music I can get as much as I could possibly need by switching on the radio.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 01:40 PM

if I want to listen to pop music I can get as much as I could possibly need by switching on the radio.

Yeah but, if a Folk Singer sings a pop song in a Folk Club (as my wife does from time to time) then that becomes uniquely folk according the idiosyncratic characteristics of the singer. Dig? Hell, I've got a recording of Seamus Ennis singing Football Crazy, and what about this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fXAeL5qe5_o

I have listened to the music you have posted as "folk" or "feral folk". Well, you call it folk. I don't. I can define what I call folk in terms of observable characteristics. Could you list the characteristics by which your posted music is defined as "folk"? Or, indeeed, "feral folk"?

Mostly I call it folk because whilst it is 100% improvised it is nevertheless dependent on the structures, drones, modalities and rhythmic patterns of Indo-European traditional music which are hard-wired into my musical psyche and which must, as a consequence, emerge through the music however so obscure such considerations might first appear. Feral Folk is indicated by the wilderness such a music must, out of necessity, exist in; seeking back to well-springs (what the 1954 Definition calls rudimentary beginnings) of a music whilst at the same time looking forward.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 01:47 PM

But is this a folk song and is the singer a folk singer?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 01:52 PM

Depressingly, I find myself being able to see both sides of the argument.

Even more depressingly, so can I...


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 01:56 PM

But is this a folk song and is the singer a folk singer?

This is an example of the transferability of Traditional Song; even Henry Purcell wasn't above setting traditional songs, and they don't suffer in an way because of it.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 01:57 PM

"Yeah but, if a Folk Singer sings a pop song in a Folk Club . . . then that becomes uniquely folk according the idiosyncratic characteristics of the singer."

And if I'm a cabinet maker and I build a table, then that table becomes uniquely a cabinet according to the idiosyncratic characteristics of the cabinet maker(?)

A definition that can encompass just about anything is just about worthless.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 02:07 PM

A definition that can encompass just about anything is just about worthless.

Not if it reflects the reality of what is actually happening in Folk Music. How can that be worthless? I'm not advocating this - I'm telling it like it is!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 02:13 PM

"I call it folk because ... it is ... dependent on the structures, drones, modalities and rhythmic patterns of Indo-European traditional music"

I think an elaboration of *this* kind of answer was rather what I was hoping for when asking 'what is folk character'? Though I think I didn't ask the right question.

Perhaps I'd have been better off asking what are the identifiable *musical characteristics* of 'folk'?

Unfortunately for me to actually make sense of a decent answer in this vein, would probably require a far greater understanding of musical theory than I possess. Not to mention a long sit in a dictionary what has words like ethnomusicology in it...


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 02:15 PM

Then maybe you need a different term. Traditional singers (or folk singers, or source singers) often made distinctions between older songs, 'family songs', etc. and newer material (music hall, vaudeville, tin pan alley, pop, etc.). Playing Nirvana on an acoustic guitar in a smokey pub doesn't make it Folk Music, even if you play Cobain's version of 'In the Pines'.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 02:53 PM

In The Pines (Black Girl) is variously described as country blues or blues, which is has been described as the folk music of The U.S.A.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 03:02 PM

Yes, I know. There are several threads on the song active right now. But my point should be clear enough.

And of course there are lots of different 'folk musics' in the US, but that's another topic.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 03:12 PM

"Reminds me of, "if you don't like it here, go back to where you came from!" Not a very enlightened attitude (now who's got the moral failings?)."

oops did I just rile up the politically correct. Too bad.*LOL*

I'm not so perfect as to not have "moral failings" (whatever that means)AND please don't equate what I said with the "go back where you came from" mentality. If I don't like something I'm certainly not going to torture myself listening to or watching itover and over, you know, once bitten twice shy and all that sort of stuff?

Michael I understand perfectly what you're saying. Personally I dislike Cobain's version of 'In the Pines, I find it a tad over wrought, but that's neither here nor there


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 03:34 PM

In the Pines??


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 03:47 PM

Yeah, 'In the Pines" AKA 'Black Girl' AKA 'The Longest Train' etc.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 04:09 PM

Here you go.

Don Firth

P. S. I used to do this song (learned from Leadbelly's Folkways recording of it), but got so much static from the PC folks that I dropped it. It seems that, since I am the wrong color, it was "not appropriate" for me to sing it.

Great song! Hearing it again, I may just re-up it and them as don't think I should sing it don't have to listen to me do it.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 04:15 PM

AKA "Where did you sleep last night?"


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 04:19 PM

Known by various names by various people, but Leadbelly called it "Black Girl." Or so it was listed on his record.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Howard Jones
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 05:12 PM

The question is about trying to define what is and what is not acceptable in a "folk context". That is impossible - it depends on the folk club, the audience and the individual. Where I draw the line is probably different from where you draw it. To make things harder, it can shift according to circumstances - so an established performer of traditional songs throwing in a pop song as a light-hearted encore is more likely to get away with it than an unknown floor-singer who is trying to build his act around it.

I have had some great evenings at folk clubs listening to music which on paper I wouldn't think was "acceptable".

It's simply impossible to define where to draw the line.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 05:59 PM

fair play to PEARS, he ploughed on regardless,of the harmonies.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: greg stephens
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 06:10 PM

Are you in the right thread here, Cap'n? There is a discussion of harmonies for trad music elsewhere, were you thinking of that?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 07:08 PM

It also says that the 100% improvised music I play on folk instruments isn't Folk Music, nor yet is 97% of Kip of the Serenes by Dr Strangely Strange. How is that not a value judgement?

Not to me, it isn't. It would never have occurred to me to call either of those things folk music; I wouldn't have called them Motown, either. As far as I'm concerned, calling something 'folk' isn't a mark of approval, and it isn't anything to do with the quality of the performance. I've seen some gloriously individual, messily exuberant performances of contemporary songs, & some dull and 'professional' performances of traditional songs. So what? There's still a difference between the songs. (On the other hand, I have seen far more dull performances of contemporary songs - some of them seem to be written for a dull performance.) For as many as will is a brilliant LP; some of it's folk, some of it isn't. Rocket cottage is a mediocre LP; some of it's folk, some of it isn't. "Folk" isn't a value judgment.

Individual creativity and vernacular variation are an observable alternative to a theory which in no way can be subjected to any sort of empirical scrutiny.

The theory is based on the reality of individual creativity and vernacular variation - and it can't be observed because it's a theory about things that take a long time to happen.

People copy what they've heard; some of the time they get it wrong, or shift it around a bit, or add an extra bit. Performers have always done this to some extent, just as composers have always borrowed from one another's work to some extent. What's different about the folk process is that lots of people whose names we don't know are doing the copying and the altering - and, more importantly, that the songs get copied again, in those altered forms. And the same processes of individual creativity and vernacular variation happen again. Give it long enough and you end up with Seeds of Love/Let No Man Steal Your Thyme/When I Was In My Prime, and 20-odd versions of Child 10.

Ron:
I have no argument to the 54 definitiobn if it refers to 'traditional', but to cast songs, and music, composed in the 'folk idiom' into the outer darkness I find unacceptable.

Nobody's casting anything into the outer darkness! I'd be overjoyed if I could walk into J. Random Folk Club and hear either folksongs or songs in the general neighbourhood of folk. (Three or four people sang Ewan MacColl songs at the last mostly-trad singaround I went to, and I was one of them.) All I'm saying is that some songs are folk songs (whatever you do to them) and some aren't - and that a folk club where folk songs are the exception, not the rule, should probably call itself something less misleading.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 07:24 PM

Greg, Replying to the Snail


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 26 Mar 09 - 07:34 PM

Two comments on my singing, in my lifetime, that I treasure: One from Maud Karpeles. We had just met, and she had asked me to illustrate a longago lecture in NYC. She introduced me with: "And here is Jean Ritchie to sing the songs. She cannot be termed a folksinger, because she has been to college."

The other one from Alan Lomax, also to an audience, "Of course it's a folksong, because she's a folk."


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 05:34 AM

Guess what I'm listening to when I switch on the laptop this morning to check out Mudcat?? The Smithsonian Folkways CD of Ballads so exquisitely sung by a certain Jean Ritchie. It's one of those things I reach for after a rough night - a sweet salve to the very soul so it is. Although I didn't get to hear it until 2004, I see this was recorded in 1961 - the year, indeed, I was born. How cool is that?

She cannot be termed a folksinger, because she has been to college

Priceless.

And for those who don't know: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IBuW1HA5x0


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,sPLEEN cRINGE
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 05:45 AM

Thanks for that link, Sin, absolutely wonderful. When you listen to something that haunting and beautiful, all these discussions start to feel somewhat irrelevant.

Nice to see there are so many enthusiasts of the godlike genius of Elmer P. Bleaty on this thread, too.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 05:48 AM

I hesitate to follow a post from the great Jean Ritchie (respect, Ma'am!)but her quotes from Maud Karpeles and Alan Lomax suggest that even the great and the good occasionally say things which are, to say the least, debatable!

I think that it needs to be re-stated (for the umpteenth time) that this is NOT about dictating to people about what they can or cannot sing or questioning people's taste(s) in music or in labelling types of music 'good' or 'bad'. It is really about whether Folk Music is a limited, definable genre or not. Some of us say that it is and believe that the 1954 definition is a good guide to the limits. Others are insistent that it isn't (limited and definable) and further insist that music that they like is Folk Music. The 'music-that-I-like-is-Folk-Music' brigade then go on to insist that the people in the first group drop their opinions and agree with, and endorse, their views. Naturally we are reluctant to do so and are subsequently accused of all sorts of wickedness (of being 'folk policemen', 'folk fascists', 'ethnic cleansers, 'heretic hunters' etc., etc.). This doesn't seem to me to be a very adult way of conducting a debate and it's high time that the 'music-that-I-like' brigade took responsibility for their own views and stopped insisting that other people support them; it might also prove useful if they got into the habit of thinking things through a bit more thoroughly.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 06:58 AM

Just to point out that the second long paragraph of my last post was not intended to be a comment on anything that 'kytrad' had said previously - it was just a continuation of the '1954' debate.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 07:14 AM

it might also prove useful if they got into the habit of thinking things through a bit more thoroughly.

Shimrod - to clarify, I'm not proposing anything that isn't there already. By its very usage Folk Music can no longer be contained by the 1954 Definition; even the International Folk Music Council (who came up with the 1954 Definition) have changed their name to the International Council for Traditional Music, their objectives being to further the study, practice, documentation, preservation and dissemination of traditional music, including folk, popular, classical and urban music, and dance of all countries. So - think that one through, if you will. Clinging on to the 1954 Definition is not only reactionary in the extreme, but counter-productive to the very nature of Folk Music itself which, one would would hope, is primarily about the Folk rather than the Music - Folk exploring their diverse specialisms and passions under the all-encompassing umbrella that Folk now must be - indeed, which Folk now is.

To insist upon the 1954 Definition is to dictate; worse, it is to accept the vaguest of theories as an absolute theology. As it stands, it might serve as a basic model to aid an initial understanding of Traditional songs and how they may (or may not) have come about, but the reality of Folk Music in 2009 is that Traditional Song is but one of many specialisms.

The 'music-that-I-like-is-Folk-Music' brigade then go on to insist that the people in the first group drop their opinions and agree with, and endorse, their views.

On the evidence of this thread I'd have to say the real music-that-I-like-is-Folk-Music are the 1954 faithful. Last night at The Steamer we had Kipling songs, Chanties, Bothy Ballads, Traditional English songs, Ron Baxter songs, Richard Thompson songs, Self written songs, Gillian Welch songs, Ivan McKeon songs, Debbie McClatchy songs, Traditional Irish songs, Droll Monologues, Norwegian Eventyr, Cyril Tawney songs - and all in the one cosy friendly space we call The Fleetwood Folk Club. We don't have any views, only an all encompassing need for the inclusivity that is Come-All-Ye!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 07:55 AM

Let's just take a step back from all the bickering for a moment. It happens every time and leads us nowhere.

Let us take a practical, longer-term view:

IF you believe folk music to be THIS (by whatever definition - right or wrong)

BUT public opinion (the folk) believes it to be THAT (by whatever definition - right or wrong)

THEN .....

....and your may supply your own answer.

But think very carefully of all the implications.

For example: the issue of funding is often raised in these debates as a reason for the need for the 1954 defintion. But who will the funders listen to in the future - you or everybody else?

I agree with Shimrod (yep, really) when he says that people need to start "thinking things through a bit more thoroughly". Because what he proposes entails taking on the rest of the world - and there is only ever going to be one winner in THAT contest.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 10:39 AM

Perhaps 'Sminky' has got us a little bit closer to what this debate is really all about - prevailing orthodoxy. We must bow to the weight of "Public Opinion". And these days Public Opinion tends to favour lowest common denominator pop music - and it is my observation that the musical horizons of Mr/Mrs/Ms Average extend no further than the latest, fashionable 'sounds'- and I can get those anywhere. As for "taking on the rest of the world" all great changes and reforms have come about because people have been prepared to do that. After all MacColl, Lloyd, Lomax etc. were taking on prevailing orthodoxy after the War - and look at the enduring legacy they left behind!

It is my belief (and it is not my attention to force anyone to believe what I believe - even if I could!) that if we remove the limits all we will get is a sort of 'lowest-common-denominator' mush (which will, incidentally, no longer be of any interest to me). I've been interested in Folk Music for over 40 years now and fashionable mush clubs have come and gone but it's the clubs which favour trad. song which have tended to endure.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 11:20 AM

"quotes from Maud Karpeles and Alan Lomax suggest that even the great and the good occasionally say things which are, to say the least, debatable!"

Naturally. It should also be recognized that a debate does not mean that one side is right and the other wrong.

"It is really about whether Folk Music is a limited, definable genre or not. Some of us say that it is and believe that the 1954 definition is a good guide to the limits. Others are insistent that it isn't (limited and definable) and further insist that music that they like is Folk Music. "

There are two HUGE assumptions in that statement, both of which tend to cloud the debate.

One assumption is the statement whether folk music is definable. I don't think anyone is arguing against a definition - the arguement is how that definition is interpreted.

The second assumption is that "music that they like is Folk Music". No one is making an assumuption that everything is folk music.

I think all these threads are filled with people talking over each other and not enough time spent trying to understand the other sides views.   There is more common ground than people wish to admit to.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 01:54 PM

Folk as Flotsam:

Fleetwood Beech, North Fylde, Lancashire, England, Friday March 27th 2009


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 03:14 PM

"Lowest common denominator"....??? Now there's a class ridden statement if ever I saw one, and 'e goes on at me for being 'unenlightened' HA!!!

I was going to throw a spanner, regarding the great hurdy-gurdy player, Nigel Eaton (he late of Blowzabella) playing for Loreena McKennit, and Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, but I won't *tee hee*


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Howard Jones
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 03:26 PM

The question wasn't "what music is acceptable at a folk club?", it asked for a definition of "folk music". Whilst I agree that the usage has gone far beyond "1954", I don't think it is possible to define it in this usage, particularly at the outer limits.

So far as I can see, there are no defining characteristics which can be applied to the wider usage. It seems to me to be fairly random what is accepted and what is not. Of course there are some modern songs which stylistically fit comfortably alongside traditional songs, but there are others which I've seen described as "folk" which seem to me to have absolutely nothing in common. It seems to depend as much on the credentials of the songwriter and/or performer as anything.

By way of an example, on the "BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards 2008" CD set there is a song, "Bricks", by Tuung. The song is not traditional, nor does it resemble a traditional song, and the style of performance is not what I would consider "folky". In my opinion it's not folk, and I'm bewildered why it's on the CD at all - it doesn't seem to tick any of the "folk" boxes. Clearly, in someone else's opnion (and I don't want to start another Smoothops-bashing debate!) it is folk.

The general public would probably describe songs by Ewan McColl or Cyril Tawney or Ralph McTell or early Dylan as "folk". I'm not so sure they would include Richard Thompson, although for most of us his his songs are probably acceptable in a folk club (I hope so, because I sing some of them). I very much doubt the general public would regard songs by the Beatles or Oasis or Nirvana as "folk", not even when performed in a folk style on acoustic guitar.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 03:51 PM

Rifleman: I was going to throw a spanner, regarding the great hurdy-gurdy player, Nigel Eaton (he late of Blowzabella) playing for Loreena McKennit

I don't give a monkey's who Nigel Eaton plays with or what he plays. If it sounds good, great. If it doesn't, too bad. If it's folk, it's folk. If it's not, it's not. Two completely separate questions.

Ron: I don't think anyone is arguing against a definition - the arguement is how that definition is interpreted.

I think the argument is what that definition is. Nobody's really advanced an alternative to 1954 other than "what gets played in folk clubs".

Having said that, I did like SS's comment -

Folk Musicians and Singers in Folk Clubs and singarounds aren't professionals, they are hearty amateurs, very often non-musicians; non-musos certainly. Therefore much of the charm of actual folk music (its folk character if you will) lies in the evident and entirely corporeal shortfall between intention and result. It lies in the immediacy of its empirical realisation and experience thereof; it can never happen that way again

That suggests it's not so much a matter of what gets played in folk clubs as of how it's played in folk clubs. And it's true that a song has to get its tie loosened and its hair messed up by that entirely corporeal shortfall between intention and result if it's ever going to become a folk song. So folk clubs - whatever kind of material you hear there - are one of the places where bits of the folk process can still operate, and that's worth celebrating in itself.

BUT (it's a big but)... there's still a difference between songs that have been marinated in the folk process for a couple of centuries and songs that get dunked in it every other Wednesday - not least because, in between times, I can always go away and find the correct words to a ballad or play a recording of Anne Briggs doing it properly. Not only that, but traditional songs almost invariably sound different from new ones - they tell different stories in different ways, they require a different kind of concentration from the singer and a different kind of attention from the audience. It's great to get up in front of other singers and sing something by Dylan or Neil Young or Morrissey in your own arrangement, or something you've just written yourself; it's great to do something that hasn't been done before, and it's even better when it goes down well. But if so much of that kind of 'folk character' comes in the front door that traditional songs go out the back - which is the case in the club nearest to me - then something's going wrong.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 04:40 PM

This reminds me of religious changes in the C16th when belief became an intellectual assent to a credo. If 1954 is a closed door it's pernicious nonsense. Folk cannot be academic, it's oxymoronic to believe it can, all top down definitions will fail a bottom up form.

But then I don't accept folk music is a museum piece any more than classical music died with the nineteenth century. The atomisation of humanity didn't end with the railway and he gramophone.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 04:50 PM

what I actually said was
"I was going to throw a spanner, regarding the great hurdy-gurdy player, Nigel Eaton (he late of Blowzabella) playing for Loreena McKennit, AND Robert Plant and Jimmy Page".

Of course the latter two definitely don't fit into the trad folk idiom, for which I am eternally grateful.

Folk music ain't a museum piece or yer grandmothers clock sitting on the mantlepiece, collecting dust, it's a living, vibrant, and, I hope, an ever evolving music.
You want museum pieces? Go the V & A.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 05:28 PM

" "Lowest common denominator"....??? Now there's a class ridden statement if ever I saw one,..."

So, so keen to identify moral failings, aren't you, Rifleman?

Why do you assume that this is a 'classist' statement? After all much popular music, these days, is a mass-produced 'product' to be passively consumed by people of all classes - and a huge percentage of them don't know any better because they've never experienced anything else. And this huge edifice of manufactured pop-pap is so monumental that it tends to overwhelm everything else. Also, let's face it, a huge majority of 'music consumers' don't have their own tastes at all but are completely under the influence of various 'arbiters of cool'.

I don't think that class comes into it.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 06:57 PM

songs that have been marinated in the folk process for a couple of centuries

Oh how sweet the assumptions of the faithful!

Otherwise, I did this (images & music) today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EznkdwwOg0w

How folk is that?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 07:23 PM

I'm sorry, SS, but let me reorder the words a bit:

How is that folk?

I'm not trying to be a smart-ass. I'm just curious as to how that qualifies "folk." I'd put it in the category of "new age."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 07:32 PM

what I actually said was
"I was going to throw a spanner, regarding the great hurdy-gurdy player, Nigel Eaton (he late of Blowzabella) playing for Loreena McKennit, AND Robert Plant and Jimmy Page".


And what I actually said was that I don't give a monkey's who Nigel Eaton plays with or what he plays. If it sounds good, great. If it doesn't, too bad. If it's folk, it's folk. If it's not, it's not. Two completely separate questions.

Oh how sweet the assumptions of the faithful!

Again, you're mistaking me for someone else. 'Faithful' is denying that Bert Lloyd ever lied about his sources and claiming that the Blackleg Miner is 200 years old. I try to go by what we actually know, e.g. that Farewell my Dearest Dear was collected over 200 years after its first appearance on a broadside, or that Willie of Winsbury also answers to the name of Thomas (and to John from the Isle of Man). Something happened back there; I don't think there's anything mystical about saying that what happened was oral transmission with variation, i.e. the folk process.

How folk is that?

Is that a trick question? It's weird, striking, uncompromising, idiosyncratic, obstinately glitchy and pretty cool, but it's about as folk as Nelson's column.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 08:05 PM

Folk music ain't a museum piece or yer grandmothers clock sitting on the mantlepiece, collecting dust, it's a living, vibrant, and, I hope, an ever evolving music.
and can be found on football terraces.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 08:05 PM

I'd put it in the category of "new age."

New Age? You know, I think that hurts even more than Jim Carroll dismissing efforts at Traditional Balladry as bad pop singing.

Anyway, the music was realised by filtering & looping one of my rubber squeaky penguin toys as a real-time improvisation on my lap-top by way of an analogous folk process. One of the things we used to hear a lot on the old Harvest Home forum was that a lap-top computer was just as valid an instrument for folk music as a concertina. So here we have a single squeaky toy reed transfigured (beyond recognition) into the three elements of Traditional Folk Music (drone, rhythm and melody) to accompany the image of the bestial simulacra as found today on the beach. This sculpture was the the product of nature (sea & wind) rearranging various man-made artefacts (the seaweed notwithstanding) into something with string echoes of certain folkloric & ceremonial ritual masks. Also, I reckon a more extended version of this music would make an ideal accompaniment for a spirited rendering of Child #36. Also, for all us Darkly Wyrd Goth Trad Folk types in the UK, any such obvious a homage to Jonathan Miller's 1969 adaptation of Monty James's Oh Whistle and I'll Come to You My Lad is to honour that which is integral to the whole Folk Concept.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 08:34 PM

Well, I just looked at and listened to 'Fylde Coast, March 27th 2009' and I now know why you and I will never agree on an appropriate definition for Folk Music.

"Anyway, the music was realised by filtering & looping one of my rubber squeaky penguin toys as a real-time improvisation on my lap-top by way of an analogous folk process."

Sorry, but there is no 'folk process' - analogous or otherwise - involved in running random sounds through a computer program. Interesting, even mesmerizing, but not folk.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Howard Jones
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 08:36 PM

"One of the things we used to hear a lot on the old Harvest Home forum was that a lap-top computer was just as valid an instrument for folk music as a concertina."

Quite possibly, but that doesn't make any music made on a lap-top "folk", any more than any music played on a concertina is folk.

SS, apart from "drone, rhythm and melody", which are features of pretty much all music, not just folk, can you please explain what elements of your Fylde Beach track you consider qualify it to be "folk". Then we might understand your perspective.

Also, could you explain why it is so important to you that it should be described as "folk"?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 09:25 PM

Most of the traditions that preserved and transmitted the "traditional" music that we love , at least, the English speaking ones, are gone.

Mercifully, a lot of it was taken down, recorded, transcribed, and even better, a whole contingent of others have embraced it, learned it, tried to recreate the way it was performed, or tried to use it in more modern ways, or tried to make new things out of it, or tried to make new things like it.

For good or ill, folk/traditional/ethnic music got swept up into popular music for a period of time, and that created a tension amongst collectors, performers, listeners and fellow travellers that out lasted long after the last song fell off the pop charts.

After Jean Ritchie posted here most amusing introductions above, I pushed a couple buttons and listened to the Edna and Jean Ritchie version of The Four Marys, followed by Alameda Riddle, and then by everyone who was posted to YouTube. It was entertaining, educational, and ocassionally electrifying.

My point is that everybody showed a different aspect of the song, from traditional ballad to ersatz pop tune, to quasi-historical document, to an excercise in midi programming, to feminist tract, to just plain fun.   

I could have found a principled objection to each one, from "sterile museum relic" to "rip-off of the folk art of the people", to "academic self-indugence" to "mass-produced 'product'--but the fact is that each, had an integrity of its own, and I wouldn't give up the experience of having heard all of them for anything.

The reason that this song survived is because it speaks to different people in different ways over time. That's why there are a lot of different, and sometimes incompatible ways to look at it.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Betsy
Date: 27 Mar 09 - 09:49 PM

Were all discussing this matter through a medium, (on this Internet thread ), which could never ever been conceived during my childhood ,teenage, or young adulthood .
The whole story has moved on , and so must we, and the music we love.
Criticise people for not sticking to the 1954 definition , and you shackle people .
It was a honest definition generated some 50 years ago - since then, people have landed on the moon , many unbelievable things have been invented happened and evolved .
Keep the music simple and entertaining - WE all know what Folk music is, (in our own individual minds so stop beating ourselves up, and enjoy the good bits , and forget about the indifferent bits .


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 03:55 AM

Amen


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Peace
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 03:57 AM

Amen to your Amen.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 04:29 AM

The fly in 1954s ointment is nostalgia. Attribute authenticity because you can't trust people to trust their ears. Bunkum. My ears are fully functioning folk-o-meters.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 04:53 AM

Sorry, but there is no 'folk process' - analogous or otherwise - involved in running random sounds through a computer program. Interesting, even mesmerizing, but not folk.

In selecting a sound by editing & sampling (so hardly random) and treating this via Ableton Live (not so much a computer programme as a way of life with a tradition & community all of its own) I am, in terms of the 1954 Definition, evolving a music from rudimentary beginnings and re-fashioning and re-creating that music (with respect of the community) to give it its folk character. Otherwise, see my response to Don's New Age comment.

Also, could you explain why it is so important to you that it should be described as "folk"?

I am a Trad / Folk Artist - a storyteller in essence - working with both primal & contemporary technology and all points in between. What interests me is the availability of that technology and how that might be considered with respect of Trad. or Folk Arts. Can photography ever be a Folk Art? What about film making? Or sound? Certainly there emerges a Folk Character with respect of the sorts of things people can do with these available technologies, and, much as we might accept (say) quilting, knitting, sour-dough modelling and macramé as being Folk Arts - crafts if you like - I feel computers enable another level of creativity which remains very much Folk in terms of its humanity, creativity, collectivity, and availability. It also allows for a very essential idiosyncrasy which, I feel, is Folk by default - the realm of the outsider in terms of any given establishment. I don't see myself quite as an outsider - I get paid very handsomely & pride myself on providing a reliable & professional service - but to lose sight of the actual nature of any given Folk Art with respect the human creative genius (that idiosyncratic spark which is common to all!) is to miss the point rather.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: DMcG
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 05:47 AM

Sorry, Sinister, but I only see an individual there, not a community. Even if lots of people are involved in the computer program, there is only one person involved in developing the music. The 1954 definition's use of the 'evolution' and 'community' seem to be quite different to the way you are using the words.

There was a comment above - way above - saying that classical music for example is also a fresh interpretation each time. This ties in to me with the idea of generations and also what I understand by 'evolution'. In classical music, the written form we can call generation 0 (G0). Normally, each interpretation is based on that, so (almost) every performance is G1. Occasionally, a movement will be dropped and this will become established, or similar variation become the norm, so you get to G2, i.e. an interpretation based on a G1 version, not G0 directly. Getting to G3 and G4 is rare in classical music. For 'evolution' in the 1954 sense, G4 and much higher generation numbers are common. Singer-songwriter material is in this evolutionary sense closer to classical music in that people try to stay close to the G0 version.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Howard Jones
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 06:01 AM

SS, your argument appears to be that you're a "folk artist" so anything you produce will be "folk". But how can you be considered a "folk artist" unless you're playing folk? This is another circular argument, just like your earlier position that anything played in a "folk context" is therefore folk, when a "folk context" can only mean somewhere folk music is played.

You can call it what you like, but it doesn't help us either to define "folk music" or to stablish what is acceptable in folk clubs (which is a slightly different question).


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 06:42 AM

Thanks, DMcG - well put.

What I've been saying is that folk music is music that's come through - that's been preserved without being written down, by people other than the original writer/performer, and developed & changed in the process.

I don't think there's any such thing as "folk character", "folk style" or a "folk performance".

I don't think "folk" is a value judgment.

I don't think folk songs are 'museum pieces', or that they have to be sung in a certain style, or accompanied on certain instruments. Folk songs have survived this far - they can take whatever we throw at them now. Jim Moray's Lord Bateman (arranged in 5:4 for keyboard & beatbox) is as "1954" as any other version of the song.

I don't think that people like me saying that the 1954 definition makes sense is going to stop everyone in the world using "folk" to mean, er... whatever it is that they're using it to mean. I do think it's a point of view worth expressing - and, frankly, one that's held by more people than I thought at the start of this thread.

"Is" and "ought" are never that far apart; if you talk about how the world is, you're usually also saying that you like it that way, or else that you'd like it to change. (Unless you're a geologist.) I think we can all agree, by this stage, that in practice the word "folk" means anything and nothing. The disagreement is about whether we think that's a good thing or a bad thing.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 07:28 AM

Even if lots of people are involved in the computer program, there is only one person involved in developing the music.

Just like there is only one person involved in singing an unaccompanied traditional folk song you mean? When I say Community and Tradition with respect to Ableton Live, I mean the community of musicians who use Ableton as a tool for music creation & production. Indeed, Ableton themselves describe Live as an instrument, and just like any other instrument, there will emerge techniques and conventions readily identifiable as part of its character which is defined by traditional & communal usage.

The 1954 definition's use of the 'evolution' and 'community' seem to be quite different to the way you are using the words.

The 1954 Definition is wholly redundant and inadequate to reflect the actual usage of the term Folk Music in 2009 - in other words the reality of folk in the light of which even the IFMC have change their name. I wonder - how many folkies does it take to change a light bulb? Maybe back in the day the 1954 Definition was illuminating, but it's long since popped. By all means go sing a song about good it was, but until you replace the bulb you're blundering about in the fecking dark.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Howard Jones
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 10:16 AM

No one is disagreeing that the term "folk music" has widened to mean more than "traditional music". The trouble is, what it has come to mean is so nebulous that it is meaningless. Everyone has different ideas what it encompasses. For me SS's Fylde Beach offering doesn't tick any "folk" boxes, but for him it clearly does - who is to say either of us is right?

I don't think SS's claims that his music is folk because he is a folk artist, or that folk music is what is performed in folk clubs, are helpful because they are circular arguments. Also, there is stuff performed in folk clubs which quite clearly is not folk music.

The one thing we can say with confidence is that traditional music is folk music. The problem lies with the other stuff. What shared characteristics does the other stuff have which enable us to recognise it as a genre?

By definition, we're talking about composed music. It seems to depend in part on whether the composer or performer has "folk" credentials (whatever that means). So Richard Thompson is OK, Lennon/McCartney aren't.

Instrumentation is no help. Traditional folk is performed unaccompanied, with accepted "folk" instruments such as guitar or concertina, with electric or electronic instruments, or with an orchestra. Performing a traditional song in a non-folky way doesn't make it any less of a traditional song, so why should performing a composed song in a folky way necessarily make it "folk"?

And yet, having said that, a folky style of performance is one of the things which makes a song acceptable in a folk club, at least to me. But it still doesn't make it folk: "Lola" isn't a folk song just because Swan Arcade sang it in folk-style harmony in folk clubs, "Sweet Georgia Brown" isn't just because Hobson & Lees played jazz guitar duets in folk clubs.

None of this brings us any closer to a definition. The best I can do is to say that I have my own idea of what "folk" is, but I recognise that it may not be the same as yours, and it's certainly not the same as Sinister Supporter's.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 12:09 PM

Precise definitions are important for the commodification of a music but not necessarily for its dissemination. Many people buying an album of a mainstream artist like Kate Rusby would be pressed to tell the difference between one of her own compositions and traditional material.

If the delivery, instrumentation and style are identical one has to ask what this quantitive difference is? Taxonomists create theoretical divides that have nothing to do with aural reception. 1954 is a comfortable framework for those who seek (un)certainty in their musical provenance but tells us little about folkishness and (IMO) has contributed to the the form becoming a hobby - and a hobbyhorse - that's light years away from its origins.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 12:14 PM

"Why do you assume that this is a 'classist' statement? After all much popular music, these days, is a mass-produced 'product' to be passively consumed by people of all classes - and a huge percentage of them don't know any better because they've never experienced anything else. And this huge edifice of manufactured pop-pap is so monumental that it tends to overwhelm everything else. Also, let's face it, a huge majority of 'music consumers' don't have their own tastes at all but are completely under the influence of various 'arbiters of cool'

None of which is really any of your business. People will choose to listen what they want to listen to, regardless of who suggests what and to whom. Face it, "folk" music is a minority taste and always will be, I personally don't see the masses being converted anytime soon. Good God! then folk would become "popular" music and the 'arbiters of (folk) cool' would be telling people what to listen to.

*wanders off singing Will The Circle Be Unbroken*


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 01:08 PM

If the delivery, instrumentation and style are identical one has to ask what this quantitive difference is?

I'll answer that one by echoing Howard:

Traditional folk is performed unaccompanied, with accepted "folk" instruments such as guitar or concertina, with electric or electronic instruments, or with an orchestra. Performing a traditional song in a non-folky way doesn't make it any less of a traditional song, so why should performing a composed song in a folky way necessarily make it "folk"?

Personally I'm not talking about what individual pieces of music sound like. Unaccompanied folk, acoustic guitar folk, concertina folk, laptop folk, drum and bass folk, string quartet folk, death metal folk - it's all folk music if the song is a folksong to begin with. And if not, not.

If you're not an enthusiast for traditional music (and you sound fairly dismissive of the idea of being an enthusiast), then you probably aren't bothered about how much traditional music people are able to hear. I am, and I would really like to hear more folksongs in folk clubs. There are lots of acoustic clubs and singer-songwriter clubs and open mic clubs where folk music is treated as just another speciality, and a slightly quaint one at that ("and here's Pip, who I expect will give us something traditional"). I don't object to those clubs - I've been at some great nights of assorted vernacular creativity and artistic imperfection. But I do object to being told that a completely undefined and open-ended mishmash of material, from Dylan to Rudyard Kipling to free improv, is in some mysterious way the definition of folk.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 01:10 PM

"In selecting a sound by editing & sampling (so hardly random) and treating this via Ableton Live (not so much a computer programme as a way of life with a tradition & community all of its own) I am, in terms of the 1954 Definition, evolving a music from rudimentary beginnings and re-fashioning and re-creating that music (with respect of the community) to give it its folk character."

A rubber ducky? OK, maybe I should have said 'found sounds' - is that terminology still current?

". . . not so much a computer programme as a way of life with a tradition & community all of its own . . ."

A way of life? Good grief. But where is the 'folk process' at work upon your composition? Do you mean this as a metaphor? Because I honestly do not understand what you mean. Traditions take time to develop, the folk process takes time. It's not something you put together in a afternoon with a rubber ducky and a laptop.

Here's an idea: Early 20th century fiddle music in North America used repetition of commonly known melodies, floating lyrics, drone notes, etc. Musicians would 'sample' bits and pieces of popular tunes and work them into new compositions. Similar principles are used in the production of contemporary 21st century dance music. Therefore, Fiddle Music is Techno. Right?

Your definition of Folk, as I understand it, follows a similar logic.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 02:12 PM

"If you're not an enthusiast for traditional music (and you sound fairly dismissive of the idea of being an enthusiast), then you probably aren't bothered about how much traditional music people are able to hear. I am."

FWIW almost all the 'folk' music in my collection is authentic traditional music, much of it older recordings.
It has almost nothing to do with folk club and leather tankard hobbyist end of the 'scene'. I bought it because I like the way it sounds, not for actual or spurious reasons of authenticity. I dig simple, straightforward music with limited or non-existent production values. Those preferences inevitably put folk music in my sights.

I think you can tell contemporary music that is folk that may - or more likely may well not not be played in traditional modes or instrumentation, by its intentions but a listener has to trust their ears.

I doubt the atomisation of communities prior to the industrial revolution or mass transport or recording leant their music anything wholly exclusive - at least I've never heard any regional form that wasn't at least half some other form - so I'm forced to conclude those divisions are arbitrary. And if form is notional, then why not other accrued values?

One of the problems (for me) with clubs is performers and bookers believe singer-songwriting that resembles traditional styles will be acceptable to its audience. I'd be more well disposed to SS's loops and digital sequences if it had genuine folkish marks than new writing in old styles if it was merely pastiche. It relies on being able to tell and I'm afraid that requires discrimination and - dare I say it - knowledge and taste.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 02:12 PM

"Face it, "folk" music is a minority taste and always will be, I personally don't see the masses being converted anytime soon."

Rifleman, I've already faced it! Converting the masses has never been any part of my agenda (where did I say that it was?). Actually, I rather like the fact that folk music is a minority taste - I've never been keen on crowds and I can't really see any disadvantages.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 02:15 PM

By all means go sing a song about good it was,
ummm....
The Ballad of '54
In 1954 We Had It So Good (non-folk song)

oh and I came across this in something I was reading

Why is a critic like a eunuch in harem?

He sees sex every day, he knows what sex is, he knows how the sex act is performed, but he can't do it himself.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 05:15 PM

A way of life? Good grief. But where is the 'folk process' at work upon your composition? Do you mean this as a metaphor? Because I honestly do not understand what you mean. Traditions take time to develop, the folk process takes time. It's not something you put together in a afternoon with a rubber ducky and a laptop.

It was a rubber penguin not a duck.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 05:26 PM

"But I do object to being told that a completely undefined and open-ended mishmash of material, from Dylan to Rudyard Kipling to free improv, is in some mysterious way the definition of folk. "

We kinda understood that several hundred posts ago. The reality is, no one gives a flying fuck about your opinion, my opinion, or any opinion that has been posted here. The reality is reality.   You have an issue with the music that is being presented in clubs, so what do you do about it besides posting here? What are you trying to do to promote the music that you excited about? (If you think that you are more of an "enthusiast" than those that disagree with your opinions, you are living in a fantasy!)

This issue is not going away if we call it "folk". Let's just say that we all agree with the 1954 definition. Laws are passed that forbid the signing of Richard Thompson whenever the word "folk" is on a banner. Do you honestly think that agreeing on a definition is going to change interests and tastes?

If you want a REAL folk song - you sing it. Some punter on a stage is making music to entertain,perhaps educate, and hopefully to enjoy the experience of making music.   Folk music can be found in a community brought together in song. The application is just as important a part of the definition as the content.

Traditional music is not going to die out. There will be an interest, and the great work that many of you have done to preserve it is a treasure that people of my generation and younger generations can look to with deep respect and sincere thanks. You cannot alter the way the world spins no matter how many threads are started and opinions shared.

As I said in my first post in this thread - the topic is only going to create flames - and judging from all these posts, my thought came true.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 05:30 PM

Somewhat further back, I concluded that this thread, similar to some others like it, was degenerating into a series of hissy-fits and was going nowhere. Yet, miraculously, it seems to have developed into a fairly reasonable exchange of viewpoints.

My record and CD collection consists pretty much of the same sort of thing as yours, glueman. Mostly traditional songs (songs I have always thought of as "folk songs"), some sung by traditional singers such as Jean Ritchie, many sung by non-traditional singers (urban-born, not raised in a folk singing tradition or community) who sing traditional songs, some in a more or less traditional manner, others (like Richard Dyer-Bennet) not so. But traditional?folk?songs nonetheless.

However a folk song began, whether written by a professional composer (such as an ancient troubadour or minstrel who made his living writing songs to sing) or a couple of guys sitting in an ale house making up new verses to a well-known tune, it doesn't become a "folk song" until it acquires certain characteristics that come only from being learned and sung by other people, and being gradually modified through conscious or unconscious "editing." This takes time, and it also requires that a sufficient number of people over, perhaps, a number of generations, like the song enough to learn it, sing it, and pass it on to others.

One of my grandfathers was a shoemaker. I have the hammer he used all his life. The wooden handle is polished from decades of use, and there are indentations worn in the handle by his thumb and fingers. The essential characteristic of a genuine folk song is that it have this kind of polish and wear from being used over a period of time, and in the case of a folk song, by many hands.

That is the intrinsic quality that a song must gradually acquire before it becomes a folk song. And it is this intrinsic quality that I referred to above as "prestige." Now, whether anyone recognizes this prestige or not makes no difference to the song. And since this is an intrinsic quality, it has nothing to do with who sings it or how or where it is sung. A folk song sung by an operatic baritone from a concert house stage and accompanied by a piano or symphony orchestra is still a folk song. And the words and tune to "The Anvil Chorus" from Giuseppe Verdi's Il Trovatore, whether you are singing it a folk club or in your own back yard while chopping firewood, is not a folk song.

It is this "prestige" or intrinsic quality that someone is trying to claim when he or she announces that "this is a folk song" that they have just written. It is not a folk song. It's fresh from the factory, right out of the box, and has not yet acquired any of the polish and wear that comes from the kind of usage that makes a song a folk song.

Now, this is not a qualitative judgment. The folk song in question many be a really dorky song?such as "Billy Magee Magaw," a degenerated form of "The Three Ravens" (Child #26), which, in Thomas Ravenscroft's 1611 collection, Melismata, is well-constructed, poetic, and haunting. Traditional songs and ballads can degenerate into doggerel in this manner?through the folk process, which does not always improve a song. Yet, it's still a folk song.

The newly composed song may sound like a folk song, be really well-constructed, expressing emotions that resonate with just about everyone who hears it, or that tells a really gripping story that rings true, while, at the same time, is set to an interesting and memorable tune. It may inspire may people to want to learn it and sing it. In short, it may be a really great song.

But?it is not yet a folk song.

Now, I don't derive this viewpoint form the 1954 definition, but from years of association with folk music, much reading on the subject, and many conversations with folklorists, ethnomusicologists, and singers of this kind of material, some of whom have been raised in the tradition and many who have not.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 06:04 PM

I don't think anyone is going to question anything you say with respect of Traditional song, Don. Folk song, however, is in no way synonymous with Traditional song, rather, Folk song is an umbrella term for many types of songs, including Traditional, which occur in a designated folk context, such as a Folk Club, Folk Festival, Folk Radio Show etc. This isn't a matter of opinion, but a matter of observable fact.

Great post though!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 06:19 PM

no one gives a flying fuck about your opinion, my opinion, or any opinion that has been posted here

On the basis that "no one" includes you, Ron, I'm slightly hurt. Then again, on the understanding that "no one" includes me, I don't have to pay any attention to your opinion - so never mind.

Still. Just between us Mudcatters, in the full awareness that hardly anyone outside the hallowed virtual precincts of this site gives a damn, what do you think the definition of 'folk' is? Or do you think it's better left undefined? It's just that it seems to me (just between us Mudcatters, etc) that leaving it undefined has had deleterious consequences, particularly in terms of limiting people's exposure to traditional music. You may not be an enthusiast for traditional music, in which case you won't necessarily think that's a problem, but I am and I do. Obviously the opinion of one keyboard-bashing traddie isn't going to change the world, but I think it's worth expressing - just between us Mudcatters, you understand, and in the full awareness that hardly anyone outside the hallowed virtual precincts of this site gives a damn.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 06:29 PM

It's just that it seems to me... that leaving it undefined has had deleterious consequences, particularly in terms of limiting people's exposure to traditional music.

You're beginning to sound like WAV, Pip.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 06:32 PM

This isn't a matter of opinion, but a matter of observable fact.

I refer the learned gentleman to my earlier squawk:

""Is" and "ought" are never that far apart; if you talk about how the world is, you're usually also saying that you like it that way, or else that you'd like it to change. (Unless you're a geologist.) I think we can all agree, by this stage, that in practice the word "folk" means anything and nothing. The disagreement is about whether we think that's a good thing or a bad thing."


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 07:03 PM

The disagreement is about whether we think that's a good thing or a bad thing.

It matters not what our personal tastes might be, or yet our specialisms; we get on with that regardless and bring that to the pot. The important thing is the sense of unity we find in the Folk Scene as a whole which comes through the mutual appreciation of the diversity which is essential to the very nature of Folk. You know - this sort of thing:

Matt Armour - When the Saints go Marching In

Matt's legacy is the human warmth of inclusivity. His singarounds were legendary in this respect - a utopia of perfect belonging & community regardless of whatever stripe of folk you were.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 07:42 PM

"It was a rubber penguin not a duck."

My apologies.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Betsy
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 09:07 PM

I don't have a CD player, but I have loads of CD's which people have sent me, because they have recorded my songs. All of them sing (as I understand) the songs better than I do ,(or did) so let's all think about what we're saying on this thread, because,the music and song come come first.If there is no fun in folk music - I want to be out of it.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 09:51 PM

". . . no fun in folk music?"

Betsy, I've had a lot of fun in folk music, and even made my living at singing songs--traditional, or "folk" songs--for a goodly portion of my life. And I don't write songs at all. I know several hundred tradtional songs, and rummaging through various collections of traditional songs, I have found more really good songs than I can possibly learn in several lifetimes. Fun? You bet!!

Maybe you don't really like folk music.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 11:57 PM

"I have found more really good songs than I can possibly learn in several lifetimes."

And we keep finding "new"ones, or at least, ones that are new to us all the time.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 03:34 AM

It's hard not to feel slightly sorry for those who insist on 1954 accreditation. It reminds me of old Harley owners who insisted Japanese V-twins lacked something because they didn't shake themselves and their rider to pieces, or Bentley owners who turn a blind eye to the fact they lured their chief designer from Skoda.

It isn't hard to understand why someone would want to label traditional music but it's impossible to comprehend why they'd marshall their musical preferences around it. Hobbyists are harmless enough but they're curators at best and you wouldn't necessarily want a museum keeper as a musical guide.

Folk enthusiasts have a balanced view to 1954, generally speaking. When the gate keepers bolted the door they went ahead and fitted a perfectly usable entrance round the side. So we're down to labels and badges and by and large, labels are only important to people who like labels.
My acoustic tastes fit the traditional pretty well but not exclusively and I don't need kite marks to know what's folkish.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 04:49 AM

SS - don't ever, ever, compare me to WAV. Ever.

It's hard not to feel slightly sorry for those who insist on 1954 accreditation.

Word to the wise - it's probably a good idea not to say that kind of thing in front of the people you're talking about. It makes you look a bit of a dick.

My acoustic tastes fit the traditional pretty well but not exclusively and I don't need kite marks to know what's folkish.

My acoustic tastes fit the traditional pretty well but not exclusively, and I'm happy to say that not everything I like is folk. Now who's marshalling their tastes around a label?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 05:05 AM

It's a point of view in the light of what I listen to and read here. I never got snippy or used the word dick. I stay out of folk clubs because while I might like the music, they may contain people who are snippy and use the word dick about those who disagree with them.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 06:08 AM

SS - don't ever, ever, compare me to WAV. Ever.

Sorry about that - a tad below the belt I admit. In my defence, I was thinking of WAV at his most Quixotic; boldly tilting at those flailing windmills of folk generality that obscured his vision of a properly traditional music as defined by a similarly redundant and essentially divisive criteria to that of the 1954 Definition.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 06:35 AM

"...a similarly redundant and essentially divisive criteria to that of the 1954 Definition."

Aye.
It's a queer thing that yer always come away from traditional music feeling better but leave talking to people about traditional music feeling worse and like you've just had your pocket picked.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Howard Jones
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 07:06 AM

It's dawned on me that perhaps the problem here is an assumption that only "folk" can legitimately be performed in a "folk context". It is demonstrable fact that a far wider range of music than simply traditional folk is performed in these places, and so there seems to be a desire to label all of this as "folk" in order to bring it into the fold.

I am quite happy to accept that in a folk club you can expect to hear more than traditional folk. I've sat in folk clubs and listened to, and enjoyed, music hall songs and monologues, Django-style jazz guitar, singer-songwriters, comedians, and Les Barker's poetry - none of which I would consider "folk" but none of which felt out of place in that context. The question is, where do you draw the line? The answer to that depends not only on your personal preferences but also on the preferences of the audience and the musical policy of the club.

If you want to have a club or singaround where people can do their versions of chart hits, I'm the last person to stop you - but I share the view of those who've suggested that if this makes up the majority of what is performed then perhaps it shouldn't be called a "folk" club.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 07:10 AM

It's a queer thing that yer always come away from traditional music feeling better

At least we can agree on that.

As I said above, when I started going to the local singaround I'd been going to a folk club for five years on a pretty regular basis (sometimes weekly). In that time I'd had some great nights (and some mediocre ones), but I'd never heard Ranzo or Jones's Ale or Thousands or more. (I knew Thousands or more because I'd heard the Coppers do it on telly. Never heard the other two.) I like traditional music & I'd like to hear more of it - and I'd like more people to have more chances to hear more of it. Folk clubs seem like a good place to start.

On the other hand, SS has got something...

The important thing is the sense of unity we find in the Folk Scene as a whole which comes through the mutual appreciation of the diversity which is essential to the very nature of Folk. You know - this sort of thing:

Yes, I'll drink to that sort of thing.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 08:52 AM

A few random thoughts in this rather silly thread -

What is the definition of a "folk context"?

perhaps it shouldn't be called a "folk" club

Perhaps not but there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. In analogy with the tins of soup, read the the small print, the mnufacturers name, the list of ingredients and additives. If you're still not sure, give it a try and if you don't like it try a different one next time.

An interesting anecdote from the excellent evening with Tom McConville, Claire Mann and David Newey last night (see separate thread) at the Lewes Saturday Folk Club last night, a young woman we had never seen before did a floor spot and said "I'm sorry, but I don't know any traditional songs but here's one by John Martyn." and then sang Spencer the Rover. Make of that what you will.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 11:10 AM

"It isn't hard to understand why someone would want to label traditional music but it's impossible to comprehend why they'd marshall their musical preferences around it."

I've read this sentence several times, Glueman, but I don't really understand it. Does it mean that you don't particularly like traditional music so you can't understand why anyone else does? If that's the case, why are you here? Would you really like to replace it with something that you find more acceptable?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Darowyn
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 12:01 PM

People have been dismissive of the idea of an Ableton community- but it does exist.
Somewhere about two generations away from most Mudcatters, there is an Ableton community. Groups of young musicians spend a lot of time swapping and sharing loops and tracks, and building evolved works of considerable complexity.
Have a listen to my former student- Snakeman- especially the track called "Colourblind Cafe"
You can find the track here:
Snakeman's Myspace Page
In the context of the internet age, the process is similar to the folk process, as the piece changes and incorporates the contributions of many people.
I'm not saying it's folk music in the English traditional stylistic sense, but its creation has a lot in common. Listen and you will see my definition of World music in action too.
This is not a live recording- it has been assembled from samples recorded separately-even the ambience is flown in from the Motorway services on the M5!
Everyone on this track is an former student of mine, except the guitarist, who was a colleague.
I'm really proud to have worked with them.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 01:13 PM

"I've read this sentence several times, Glueman, but I don't really understand it."

In the the Mudcat world 1954 definitions exercise some people because they believe they lend traditional music something 'more'. More what is the question.
More authenticity? More quality? More bangs for your buck? I've no idea because I can't hear the difference. If I have to look up in a book whether a piece is original or a pastiche it doesn't matter, I've already left the aural dimension music occupies. So it's of interest only to people who are interested in non-musical factors.

Fans are fully entitled to like Bolivian jula julas or lyrics containing a plethora of consonants, that's their business. What they aren't entitled to do (IMO) is dictate where the boundaries of folk are in musical terms.
The reality is an unhealthy number of folk enthusiasts believe this dubious historical verissimilitude translates into something they can hear and it informs their tastes. Well sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't, I certainly wouldn't rely on it and yet many people seem to think folk is what-they-like musically which is completely illogical.

The problem may well be in the club rather than folk. I enjoy traditional music as a consumer but participatory folk music that isn't progressive seems a complete absurdity.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 01:47 PM

Darowyn/Dave--I listened and I loved it!

I also think that this Ableton business, while, it seems to have little to do with folk clubs, folk festivals, and such things, is of great importance to those of the anthropological/ethnomusicological bent who study "the folk process", and, even as we speak, there are probably a number of people who are studying it.

Also, the guitarist was great--


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: michaelr
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 01:58 PM

"...the sense of unity we find in the Folk Scene..."

That's that irony thing, right?

And who the hell is WAV?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 02:00 PM

More authenticity? More quality? More bangs for your buck? I've no idea because I can't hear the difference.

I'm fairly pragmatic about this, actually. I know from experience that traditional music is likely to interest me and that singer-songwriter work is likely to bore me. Some traditional performances are arse-achingly boring, and some singer-songwriters are stunning, but (for me) the balance of interest vs boredom is mostly the other way round. As far as I'm concerned, an awful lot of traditional material has something - does something - which only a little contemporary material does. So I don't think throwing open the doors to contemporary material is likely to result in a more interesting evening.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 02:54 PM

I agree, Pip.

". . . an awful lot of traditional material has something - does something - which only a little contemporary material does."

One of the major things that attracted me to traditional songs in the first place is that these songs have a history, a provenance?roots. Singing them gives me a sense of connection with the people and events that produced them in the first place and then sang them for their own enjoyment and expression.

I do sing other songs, some very good songs that are not traditional, but the majority of the songs I sing are traditional. And, no, I don't sing them merely because they are traditional.

####

Perhaps I don't even have a horse in this particular race. Out here on the west coast of the U. S. and A., I've never been to an English folk club, but the impression of them that I get from reading various threads here on Mudcat is that I probably wouldn't like them all that much.

First, there was a discussion of some clubs prohibiting, or at least frowning fiercely upon anyone who sang a song that wasn't from his or her own culture and background. For example, if you're from Cornwall, don't sing a song from Yorkshire. If you're an American dropping in, sing American songs, even if you're especially interested in songs from the British Isles and that's what you're there to learn. And God help you if you try to sing in an accent or dialect not your own, even if you do it well enough that most people can't tell that it isn't your own.

Rules, regulations, restrictions, prohibitions.

Then there is the war over the "infamous" 1954 definition. Apparently, in a "folk club," no two people can agree on what "folk" means. And in some "folk clubs," one rarely if ever hears a song that might actually fit the 1954 definition, in preference to a mix of songs that the singers themselves have just written (and declared "folk" songs) along with the latest popular hits liberally mixed with Beatles' songs.

In the one, you stand there in a straitjacket with a sock in your mouth, afraid that you'll have the buttons cut from your uniform and be marched around the compound in disgrace if you pick the wrong song to sing, and in the other, the club is as shapeless as Odo, the security officer in Star Trek:   Deep Space 9, a shape-shifter who has to sleep in a bucket or he'll simply flow down the nearest drain.

I've never been to the British Isles. I would love to go for a whole variety of reasons. But if my reading on the folk clubs (derived from what has been written in these threads by people on the scene) is correct, I would undoubtedly visit just to see for myself, but if they are, indeed, as described here, I probably wouldn't hang around very long.

Okay, folks, rip me to shreds.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 03:12 PM

'Maybe you don't really like folk music.'

'Does it mean that you don't particularly like traditional music.'

variations on the stock answer from the pro 54 crowd to anyone who even remotly dares criticise or disagree with the '1954 definition'


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 03:53 PM

You might need more compelling logic than an indefinable something before anyone gets to ringfence music definitions for the rest of us. My background is not a folk club so bad authentic singers and competent inauthentic ones go right over my head.

I buy traditional music I like, consume, purchase in the market place, attend festivals if there's someone I especially want to hear but as far from a back room creation of the good old days as it's possible to imagine.
Where do we devourers of songs go when the clubs don't serve our requirements for folk?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 03:57 PM

That's that irony thing, right?

Not in the slightest.

And who the hell is WAV?

Perhaps the Definitive WAV Thread


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 04:34 PM

Don Firth

I've never been to an English folk club, but the impression of them that I get from reading various threads here on Mudcat is that I probably wouldn't like them all that much.

Actually, Don, I think you would like the ones that I know very much indeed. They are populated by people who value and love the traditional music of the British Isles while recognising the quality of music from other parts of the world; Judy and Dennis Cook did a floorspot at The Lewes Arms Folk Club last night.

The campaign about how awful UK folk clubs are seems to be lead by people who remember how bad it was thirty years ago and have rarely been in a folk club since. The scene they describe bears no resemblance to the scene I know in the 21st century.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 05:53 PM

"I've never been to the British Isles. I would love to go for a whole variety of reasons. But if my reading on the folk clubs (derived from what has been written in these threads by people on the scene) is correct, I would undoubtedly visit just to see for myself, but if they are, indeed, as described here, I probably wouldn't hang around very long."

Don, I assure you that you would be very welcome!

As for these slightly ridiculous 'definition' threads, I have a feeling that they are partly to do with our very British reserve. We all attend folk clubs, and all applaud each other very politely, but inside we're all ABSOLUTELY SEETHING - and have been for years. You see this conflict has very deep roots, some of which, I suspect involve the personality and politics of Ewan MacColl (he may have been dead for 20 years but some people have never got over him - even some of us fans).
The other problem, I believe, is related to the nature of British folk clubs 30 or 40 years ago. At that time folk clubs were very popular and provided an easily accessible platform. Certain artists and agents, who couldn't get platforms elsewhere, began to colonise the clubs and some people became alarmed at this and began to fear that the music that they liked to listen to in the clubs (i.e. traditional folk music) was being displaced by a mish mash of singer-song writers, comedians, guitar heroes, pop-based material etc., etc. When some of us protested (usually in a very mild-mannered, typically British fashion) we were accused of being 'folk policemen', 'folk fascists'etc., etc. Since then our folk clubs have become polarised between clubs which have a traditional policy and others where 'anything goes'(and whose members and organisers, I suspect, don't really like folk music).
Even now any hint from people like me that folk music might be a definable and limited genre is met with howls of outrage and hysterical, and completely baseless, accusations of authoritarianism. In actual fact I've never heard anyone dictate to anyone in an actual folk club what they can or can't sing - and I've been attending British folk clubs for over 40 years. I'm sure that lots of wild anecdotes, about being beaten with rubber truncheons for singing a Bob Dylan song at the Singers' Club in 1968, will follow - complete bullshit, of course.

In conclusion just ignore our silly arguments and come on over. In my experience American guests are very well received.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 06:18 PM

You might need more compelling logic than an indefinable something before anyone gets to ringfence music definitions for the rest of us.

On the contrary, I think the fact that a definition which was formulated 55 years ago - some time before I was born - works for me now, in the sense of being a reasonably good guide to music I enjoy, is a very good reason to retain it. It's not a value judgment, just a suggestion that one thing is not like another thing.

The campaign about how awful UK folk clubs are seems to be lead by people who remember how bad it was thirty years ago and have rarely been in a folk club since. The scene they describe bears no resemblance to the scene I know in the 21st century.

For what it's worth, my main point of reference is a folk club that was founded less than ten years ago, and pitched towards singer-songwriters right from the off (the MC sings his own stuff, which is mostly in a C&W style; very good stuff, incidentally, but quite a long way from trad). I haven't been back much recently, but the last time I went it was packed to the rafters - so many performers that we were down to one song each - and I reckon about 1 song in 10 was traditional. Not all singer-songwriter stuff - some Beatles, some Radiohead, some George Formby. It was a good night in its way - certainly never a dull moment.

Snail, it sounds as if the "anything goes in a folk club" problem* - like the "can't be bothered to learn" problem - isn't one that your club encounters much. Maybe when Jim gets back from his hols we can restart this discussion on an Asking Bryan How He Does It thread. Or maybe not.

*Yes, I realise not everyone thinks it's a problem. Not everyone's typing this comment.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 06:31 PM

I've never heard anyone dictate to anyone in an actual folk club what they can or can't sing

See also this thread.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Nick
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 07:48 PM

Don

I'm sure that if you went to some places your worst concerns would be realised but most of the places you'd find in the part of the world I frequent I think you'd enjoy. Most places I go have a bunch of people who enjoy song, enjoy the company of others and enjoy sharing songs and music. From what I can see that's what you do too so I don't think even the fact we speak different languages would make too much of a problem.

I hope you make it one day. Let us know and I'd sure we'd make you welcome.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 29 Mar 09 - 08:33 PM

Don Firth

You would have liked tonight's (technically yesterday's...) Brighton SIngers' Folk Club singaround.    see: myspace.com/fyviesfolk   

Visiting us tonight - a harmony band singing traditional English folk songs - and the average age of the band well under 50! Lots of hope for the future I'd say.

Last December, another of our local singers' club sessions (Brighton Cellarfolk) booked a brilliant 5 piece harmony band from 30 miles along the coast. Again people come together from outside the folk scene "establishment' to enjoy our rich unaccompanied harmony folk heritage - taking it to wider and younger audiences.

Slightly off thread but...... if you're worried about what you might have read about the folk scene in England, don't be. It is, as it always has been, extremely diverse. Websites make it easier than ever to find what you might like and what might not be to your taste.

My highly personal opinion is that traditional English folk is on the up. My examples above show people a lot younger than me taking a keen interest in traditional folk.

Disagreement in my experience of mudcat debates seems to be between the camp that sees Folk as the consumer product - all else is inferior/not valid; and those who prefer folk as it should be- folk sharing folk songs. It's nothing new, indeed some say it goes back to the indignation the commercialised (albeit 'not-for-profit' commercialised) folk scene had for Ewan McColl and his London based Singers' Club of the 1960's.

Folk has survived this antagonism for 40+ years and mudcat will also show you that both SIngers' Clubs and Concert Clubs are all doing reasonably well and should have no problem surviving the likely depression.

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 03:56 AM

Thanks for posting that link to the Aug/Sept 08 thread, Pip. Not a lot of evidence there for 'folk police'.

I was amused by the anecdote of the woman at a singaround who insisted on using a taped backing track. I once encountered a woman whose performance consisted of playing a tape of herself!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 04:46 AM

It's dawned on me that perhaps the problem here is an assumption that only "folk" can legitimately be performed in a "folk context". It is demonstrable fact that a far wider range of music than simply traditional folk is performed in these places

That is the very crux of what this thread is about - Folk Music and Traditional Music are not synonymous.

and so there seems to be a desire to label all of this as "folk" in order to bring it into the fold.

Not to bring into the fold as just, just recognise what happens in a folk context as folk music, irrespective of genre. Folk music isn't about genre, its about context. I think, perhaps, that this has always been the case.

The question is, where do you draw the line?

There is no line. This is an evidence based music, strictly empirical. Folk Music is what Folk Music does.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 05:41 AM

SS hits a bullseye again.

Folk isn't being threatened by drippy singer-songwriter birds who want to replace identikit folk chicks doing authentic material, but by artificially constructed and out of date barriers.
I like traditional material too, and I certainly don't need anyone wafting a piece of paper to validate it. There is indeed, no line.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 06:13 AM

Pip Radish

For what it's worth, my main point of reference is a folk club that was founded less than ten years ago .... the last time I went it was packed to the rafters .... certainly never a dull moment.

So what's your problem? The fact that it calls itself a folk club but doesn't do folk music to the 1954 definition? Tough. There is nothing you can do about it. If you enjoy going there, enjoy it for what it is. If you don't, go somewhere else. If there isn't anywhere else, get together with a few like minded friends and start something. As you said, the character of that club is defined by the chap who runs it. Go thou and do likewise.

Asking Bryan How He Does It thread

Not He, They. We have a large group of residents all of whom care about what they do. I'm not saying we're superstars but some of us are pretty good. By our own attitude and the sort of guests we book we create an atmosphere and a culture which is self reinforcing.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: mark gregory
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 06:40 AM

For a long time folklorists were loath to recognise that folk songs don't have to be rural, anonymous, unaffected by print or records or radio ...

I was just reading the NYT obit for Archie Green and came across this:

"Mr. Green, a shipwright and carpenter by trade, drew on a childhood enthusiasm for cowboy songs and a devotion to the union movement to construct a singular academic career. Returning to college at 40, he began studying what he called laborlore: the work songs, slang, craft techniques and tales that helped to define the trade unions and create a sense of group identity.

"He countered the prevailing, somewhat romantic notion that folklore was isolated in remote, marginal groups," said Simon Bronner, who teaches folklore at Pennsylvania State University. "He showed that each of us, in our own work lives, have a folklore that we not only perform but that we need."

I think folklorists like Archie Green and before him George Korson, A.L.Lloyd, Ben Botkin, Alan Lomax, with their interest in the folklore of industrial workers - Industrial Folk Song - pushed the reach of folk song a long way beyond the 1954 definition.

However the search for a watertight definition of folk music remains as seemingly unreachable. Some suggest we abandon the term and talk instead about vernacular song or poplore. I think we just have to put up with folk music as a workable if evolving concept. As Charles Seeger put it "the folk have changed and their music has changed with them"


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 06:50 AM

There is nothing you can do about it. If you enjoy going there, enjoy it for what it is.

I'm slightly puzzled by this response. Obviously there's nothing I can do about it (other than encouraging traddies to go along in large numbers). I was just pointing out that your experience isn't universal, and that the people being critical of actual existing FCs aren't all people who remember how bad it was thirty years ago and have rarely been in a folk club since.

Anyway, what goes on at the local FC doesn't bother me personally - I know where to find the kind of stuff I want to find. I'm more concerned about people in the same position I was six years ago, wandering along to their first FC and thinking "Hey, people singing whatever they like in whatever style they like, and not bothering too much about practising or getting it right! This folk stuff is a good laugh!" It is a good laugh, but an evening of traditional music is something else. FCs where anything goes are a lousy gateway drug - they don't do nearly enough to get people on to the hard stuff.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 07:33 AM

Years ago when I was studying for an MA the tutor was keen on primitive Swedish cinema, Russian silents and the problematics of the French nouvelle vague. Anyone wanting to examine Carry On films, or Hammer schlock or look at tv ads seriously met resistance which was in the end, snobbery.

Now I enjoy a Victor Sjostrom silent or Nikolai Larin as much as the next man but the faculties for criticism and pleasure are the same for both. The folk argument is stuck at the same stage of cod purity dressed up as taste. Folk has never had its reformation.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 08:21 AM

Pip, please go abck and read my post of 29 Mar 09 - 04:34 PM. You are attacking me for things I haven't said.

What I meant you couldn't do anything about was the fact that the club you describe calls itself a folk club. The 1954 definition isn't binding in law.

FCs where anything goes are a lousy gateway drug - they don't do nearly enough to get people on to the hard stuff.

Why should they? You said that it was "pitched towards singer-songwriters right from the off". Why should they be obliged to promote traditional music any more than we at the LSFC are obliged to promote singer-songwriters?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 08:35 AM

FCs where anything goes are a lousy gateway drug - they don't do nearly enough to get people on to the hard stuff.

Or...

Choose Life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourselves. Choose your future. Choose life...

But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose life. I chose somethin' else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got Traditional Folk?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 09:38 AM

I am not sure why any of you need to define what "folk" is. I am also baffled as to how and why the notorious "1954" definition has either meaning or importance to any of the people here.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 09:52 AM

It gives people a cosy feeling. Us-them, before-after, pure-impure, real-unreal.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 10:31 AM

"I think the fact that a definition which was formulated 55 years ago - some time before I was born - works for me now, in the sense of being a reasonably good guide to music I enjoy, is a very good reason to retain it. It's not a value judgment, just a suggestion that one thing is not like another thing."

Here is the fallacy - you say the definition is a "reasonably good guide to music I enjoy".    The 1954 definition only describes how a traditional song was created but says absolutely NOTHING about what kind of song it is. You say it is not a "value judgement", but when you claim that a defintion of a songs creation is a guide to the music you enjoy you are saying that the "label" is what guides you. Some people will only wear designer clothes, but it doesn't make it a comfortable fit.

There are wonderful blues songs which fit that catagory - and I've always felt that blues are a style of folk music.

The 1954 definition does nothing more than recognize a tradition.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 10:51 AM

Here is the fallacy - you say the definition is a "reasonably good guide to music I enjoy".    The 1954 definition only describes how a traditional song was created but says absolutely NOTHING about what kind of song it is.

I know. Where's the fallacy? In my experience, the traditional definition (which does indeed include a lot of blues songs) has proved to be a reasonably good guide to music I enjoy. (Not, just to be clear, the only music I enjoy.)

Why should they be obliged to promote traditional music any more than we at the LSFC are obliged to promote singer-songwriters?

Mainly because we've got this word 'folk', and most newcomers aren't likely to know that it can mean two almost completely different things.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 10:51 AM

If only they had gone for a non-exclusive "description" rather than a rigid "definition" back in 1954, we would have had no problem.

If they had chosen a different word to "define", other then "folk", say "George"; but then the Georges of this world would be complaining that their name has been usurped. And rightly so.

When a word exists for decades already, if not centuries, why do you feel the need to "define" it? I cannot help feeling that intellectual arrogance is involved.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 10:58 AM

"Mainly because we've got this word 'folk', and most newcomers aren't likely to know that it can mean two almost completely different things. "

Why only "two" completely different things? Do you feel a blues song and an old English Ballad and an Italian folk song are the same? Industrial ballads, logger songs, songs of the George Sea Islands, Mexican folk tunes are all "folk songs" by that 1954 definition - but saying "folk" does not describe anything.   If you recognize that "contemporary" folk songs spring up from a contemporary community and fit most of the terms of that definition - with the exception of recognizing modern transmission methods - you have "folk music". That does not make it traditional.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 11:08 AM

Pip Radish

Mainly because we've got this word 'folk', and most newcomers aren't likely to know that it can mean two almost completely different things.

Only two? Yes, that is the situation as it exists and (deep breath) there is absolutely nothing that you can do about it. The club you describe is not going to stop calling itself a folk club just because you tell it it is not conforming to the 1954 definition so stop agonising over a couple of words and concentrate on the music. Go to the clubs that sing and play the music you like and recommend them to anyone who shows an interest.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Howard Jones
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 11:18 AM

SS, a definition which encompasses anything is no use as a definition.

I'm quite happy to agree that songs which aren't traditional can be performed in a "folk context". Broadly speaking, I think these fall into 3 possible categories:

1) Traditional songs, which I think (hope) we can all agree are "folk songs"

2) A loosely defined genre of non-traditional music which is easier to recognise than to define, but which is generally described as "folk" (as opposed to another genre).

3) Music which is recognisably from another genre, performed in a folk club.

I think it's entirely admirable if people wish to gather together to play music of any sort. If it's music from the third category, I don't see why it is necessary to reclassify this as "folk" - it doesn't need validation, and no one is fooled, if someone plays a jazz classic or a piece of Bach, no one is going to go away thinking it's folk music, just that it's good music.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 11:44 AM

SS, a definition which encompasses anything is no use as a definition.

The reality is that anything goes in a Folk Club, or a Folk Festival, or even a Folk CD / CD-R. If people can play it or sing it, then bet your arse that they generally do. I'm looking at context here - the context of Folk - which is pretty big I'd say, or small, depending how you look at it. Thus, Folk is like Flotsam, which can encompass anything by way of context (just as long as it floats) but remains pretty useful as a definition nevertheless. Thus Flotsam might encompass a Rubber Duck from the 2006 Liffey Rubber Duck Race washed up on Fleetwood Beach is Flotsam; likewise a French Fishing Float washed up on Brighton Beach or indeed the Fish Crate from Castletownbere or even a Salmon Crate from Connemara (both washed up at Fleetwood).

In a Folk Club or Folk Festival there is Individual Diversity yet there is a Communal Unity - and Unity in Diversity is a very good thing; a tad ecumenical for fundamentalists perhaps, but the Folk Thang rides on its own sweet groove, regardless. So whatever your particular stripe, whatever your dig-bag might be, we welcome you in the name of Folk and the message shall forever be - Come All Ye!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 12:48 PM

Do you feel a blues song and an old English Ballad and an Italian folk song are the same?

No, I think they're all traditional. They've all gone through the kind of process DMcG eloquently described several comments back, of communal adoption, preservation & transmission in more or less altered forms. As such, I think - if they're done reasonably well - I'm likely to like the way they sound. (This is not true of singer-songwriter material, even (or especially) if it's done well.)

I might end up doing an Easby and abandoning the word 'folk' altogether, but for now I still think it's worth trying to nudge the meaning of the word a couple of notches back towards 'traditional'. While folk means "traditional songs, mostly" and also means "anything which anyone's prepared to listen to in what they consider to be a folk context", a lot of people are liable to miss out on hearing the good stuff, and never know they have missed out.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 12:57 PM

Pip - so are you saying that English Ballads or a traditional blues song are not folk songs? Have they not gone through the same process?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 12:59 PM

"I still think it's worth trying to nudge the meaning of the word a couple of notches back towards 'traditional'"

'ang on I'll unplug me Strat....


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 01:38 PM

While folk means "traditional songs, mostly"

Depends where you are really. Do people think this is generally the case? I can think of many clubs & festivals where it isn't true in the slightest. So Folk means Folk Songs, including some traditional, or not, as the case might be. Personally, I no longer see why traditional songs should get special consideration other than one of personal taste justified by some fantasy of a folk process by which they may (or may not) have come down to us.

Go check out Ron Baxter's songs over at The Fleetwood Folk Club myspace page - there're all his words, set & sung by various artists. When Ron writes a song, he does so to a Traditional Tune, but when he gives you the words, he doesn't tell you what that tune was, so whoever he gives the song to has to come up with one to fit. This is an empirical Folk Process, resulting in some amazing Folk Songs, echoing The Tradition and written by one whose dedication & erudition in the field of Traditional Folk Song is legendary.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 02:10 PM

The reality is that anything goes in a Folk Club, or a Folk Festival, or even a Folk CD / CD-R. If people can play it or sing it, then bet your arse that they generally do."

You have argued against the 1954 'definition' (really just a description of the some of the processes by which 'folk' music has evolved historically) because you feel it is out of date and too restrictive. Fine, you're hardly the first person to prefer a more inclusive interpretation of folk/vernacular music (see the work of Archie Green, Norm Cohen and plenty of others). But for a term to have any value, it has to have some boundaries. What, if anything, would not fit your open-ended definition of Folk? If some of my buddies and I showed up at your club with electric instruments and performed Slayer's 'Reign in Blood' in its entirety, would that be Folk Music?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 02:15 PM

"What, if anything, would not fit your open-ended definition of Folk? "

Pop, show tunes, rock, classical, jazz - not folk songs, but they can be sung as folk music


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 02:19 PM

But Sinister Supporter (name?) seems to believe that all of the above (plus rubber squeak toys and computer programs) all fall under the umbrella of 'folk' (as long as they are performed in a 'folk context') . . . or have I misunderstood you, SS.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 02:32 PM

But for a term to have any value, it has to have some boundaries.

It does have boundaries, just as Flotsam has boundaries; the boundary is context.

If some of my buddies and I showed up at your club with electric instruments and performed Slayer's 'Reign in Blood' in its entirety, would that be Folk Music?

Personally I feel a bunch of guys doing cover versions of heavy metal is Folk Music by default, but would it be worth the effort of setting up all your gear just for a couple of songs in a floorspot? One things clear, from past evidence you'd go down a storm at Fleetwood.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 02:43 PM

MM, it's only an issue in a folk club context. At a festival people attend shows they'll like or head for the bar if it's not their bag. All perfectly natural.
The main reason I don't attend clubs (or church services) is I wouldn't want to offend by yawning or standing up and leaving the room if I didn't like what was on offer. If staying is part of the deal it makes for small attendances lead by the musical tastes of the few regulars, or a very conservative/inoffensive booking programme.

A range of styles under the folk umbrella is the ideal; unaccompanied traditional, accompanied trad, traditional with contemporary instruments, modern lyrics on old tunes, right through loops, freon horn drones, Xpelair samples from the Gents, Bert Lloyd overlays and sequences. All with the greatest respect for the nameless ones who went before.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 02:43 PM

"If some of my buddies and I showed up at your club with electric instruments and performed Slayer's 'Reign in Blood' in its entirety, would that be Folk Music"

talk about taking things to the extreme just to prove a point, whatever that point is.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 02:52 PM

If you wish to be strict about following the 1954 definition, NOTHING sung if a folk club is really folk music. Once you take the song out of the context of the community, it is merely entertainment.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: John P
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 03:11 PM

I've no idea because I can't hear the difference.

Well, maybe this is the problem. Many of us hear strong differences between traditional music and contemporary music. This is why we would like them to be separate genres. This doesn't have anything to do with whether or not the song is any good. It doesn't have anything to do with whether or not people should sing it, or where they should sing it. It just means it's a different genre of music.

Before I read this thread, I had never heard of the 1954 definition, and yet I've been playing traditional music -- and defining it the same way as the 1954 definition -- for most of my adult life. In saying this, I'm not trying to tell anyone else what to play, or making any judgments about what's good and not good. I'm simply saying that there are two quite different genres of music encompassed by the "folk" label, and they are mutually exclusive.

The 1954 theory is somewhat like the theory of evolution. No one would say it covers every possible scenario, or that it supplies the whole answer for anything. It is, however, a theory that describes and accounts for a set of observed phenomena. It tells us how and why the music sounds like it does, has the variants it has, and has spread the way it has.

I don't know why anyone thinks that those of us who are arguing in favor of the 1954 definition are trying to put music on a shelf, draw rings around anything, or tell anyone what they should or shouldn't play. Most everyone has been at some pains to say quite the opposite. No policing! Just a discussion of the definition of a word. Traditional music is certainly not on a shelf for me. It's a living, breathing thing and can be handled in almost any way that anyone likes. It is as much a folk song when done by a rock band as it is when sung unaccompanied -- something that can't be said about most singer/songwriter music. I've often thought that giving a singer/songwriter a big recording budget tends to change the music from "folk" to either pop msic or country music.

Traditional music is just not the same as contemporary song, and no amount of saying "it's all folk" is going to make many of us start using the word "folk" to describe anything that gets done in a "folky" context.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 03:14 PM

"It does have boundaries, just as Flotsam has boundaries; the boundary is context."

So now I understand (I think): Anything played in a 'folk context' (including death metal) is folk music. So it's not the *music* at all that makes it *folk*, it's the context(?).

What you describe as folk clubs, etc. sounds like open mike night at any one of a half dozen coffee houses within walking distance of my house. Therefore, these are folk clubs and this is folk music? Or does it only become folk music when you call it folk music (in a 'folk context')? You are using the word to define itself, a circular argument and hopelessly imprecise.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 03:34 PM

When I said "I can't hear the difference" I almost qualified it but didn't want to labour the point. I can perceive differences because my expectations are fulfilled but as SS suggested it's mostly about context.
Such differences as there are come down to lyrics, style or instrumentation, none of them totemic or particular to folk. It comes back to this 1954 more/less thing. I find the transcendent and numinous in the tradition (especially on a scratchy 78) but I find it in Robert Wyatt and Bellowhead, Major Lance and Edith Sitwell.

You say there are strong differences between the tradition and contemporary music John P, can you point out how exactly?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 03:43 PM

I can't help but agree wholeheartedly with John P's comments just above.

####

Thanks for the comments on British folk clubs. I figured they all couldn't all be either as rigid or as sloppy-loose as many posts made them seem. I would, indeed, like to make it to the British Isles sometime in the near future, but due to my physical limitations, it seems pretty unlikely. By the way, how are the British Isle in general for things like wheelchair accessibility?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 04:00 PM

By the way, two comments:

First, be it noted that, no matter what it has come to mean now, initially, the word "folk" referred to "the rural peasant class." In these days, despite incredible disparities in personal wealth, power, and social position, we like to think that we live in a "classless society," and that the word "folk" has come to mean "people in general." Not a particular group or class, but to all people. This, of course, renders a term like "folk music" essentially meaningless. All music becomes folk music. [Do I hear a bit of whinnying and neighing off in the distance?]

And second, in reference to George Papavgeris' comment just above, "If only they had gone for a non-exclusive 'description' rather than a rigid 'definition' back in 1954, we would have had no problem," I take that "definition" as a description rather that a list of rigid prohibitions, and since it is a good description of what I have always considered to be "folk music" (before 1954 and now), I have no problem with it. If one reads the "1954 definition" (in italics in the first post in this thread) without prejudice and reflexive knee-jerking, one can see that it is a pretty good, well-thought-out description. It does not include bodies of music such as symphonies, string-quartets, opera, or short-lived commercially written popular music. Nor does it include songs written last Tuesday morning while sitting on the commode in the company men's room and sung for the first time at a folk club or open mike the following Saturday evening, preceded by the announcement, "This is a folk song. . . ."

One of the advantages of eliminating all definitions (especially the ones we don't particularly like because they don't include what we would like to include) is that we don't have to spend any time learning a cohesive language in which we can communicate with a fair degree of precision. It allows us to merely point and grunt.

Think of all the tax money we spend on education that we can now save!!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 04:06 PM

Pip - so are you saying that English Ballads or a traditional blues song are not folk songs?

Certainly not. I'm saying they're all traditional songs, which I guess we'd all agree makes them folk songs.

'ang on I'll unplug me Strat....

Why would you want to do that? I think they had electricity in 1954, and I'm sure they didn't say not to use it.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Art Thieme
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 04:16 PM

The 1954 attempt to define this music sounds good to me--as far as it goes. To the extent that a given folk presentation stays within the parameters of all that I did musically over the years, that defines folk music for moi well enough for most practical purposes.

Buy my issued recordings. Listen to 'em. There will be my views on this topic graphically depicted in the ear of the behearer.

Other than that, I don't seem to need these semantic exercises now.

Art


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 04:20 PM

There seem to be about half a dozen separate but connected arguments going on here. It's a shame this seems to have turned into another 'definition of folk music' thread.

A few points:

1. The "folk process" is probably alive and well in those bits of the rainforest where the inhabitants have yet to make contact with the modern world.

2. In the UK context "traditional music" has become a genre: its a body of work from the past that is sung or played usually in a particular context in a particular style. You can take it out of that context and sing (or play) it in a different style, but that's the exception rather than the norm. Personally I rather like those exceptions when they're done well (so keep that Strat plugged in and cranked up, Rifleman!) but can totally understand why others wouldn't. I don't think it's likely that the 'traditional music' canon can be added to in an age of modern technology and communication. Even on the Steppes of Siberia the Tuvan throat singers are groovin' to the sounds of Sonic Youth...

3. Folk music can either mean 1954 definition folk music (which describes - imperfectly or otherwise - a process not a type of music; or it can mean folk club music/folk scene music - a context not a type of music; or it can mean what the general public/media/music industry think of as folk music (everything from Waterson Carthy to the Corrs to KT Tunstall to James Bl*nt to a metal band with a bit of acoustic guitar) - a marketing concept not a type of music. There's no point in trying to bolt any stable doors: the horse has bolted and he's singing his little head off.

4. The one thing that unites the three variants on 'folk music' above is that none of them describe a genre/type/style of music - they are all simply convenient shorthand for describing something else.

5. This leads me to the conclusion that there is no such thing as folk music.

6. Don't get me started on the folk. What have we/they/it got to do with folk music?

a)I'd suspect that 1954 folk music, to paraphrase Morrissey, "says nothing to us about our lives". I'd suggest it was the soundtrack to the lives of some of our ancestors. Everyone likes a sing song, don't they? And once upon a time we didn't haave radiogrammes and the like... Now this music is the tipple of choice for a proportion of those who identify with folk music. It may also all be a bit arbitrary because it's dependent on who was collecting what and when and with what agenda.

b) As far as folk club music goes, it's up there with train-spotting and ferret-fancying as a Great British Minority Enthusiasm. Nothing wrong with that, but only the music of a very narrow band of the folk who happen to like going to folk clubs rather than consuming a different sort of music in a different context.

c) The folk probably tolerate the marketing guru's take on folk far more than the first two, because it fits in with the other stuff that saturates the airwaves, the adverts and so on that is part of the fug we all have to breathe. Plenty of the folk bought "Beautiful" by James Bl*nt. Plenty are happy enough to sing along to "American Pie" in the pub. If it's about the folk as in the people, there's yer folk music!

7. So maybe folk music, which we've already established doesn't exist as a type of music, also no longer exists as the music of the folk.

8. Personally, I'd sooner listen to the sound of my own ears being forced though a traditional Spong meat mincer than have to sit through another bearded loon puking his way through Hotel California or have to endure another throw-yer-head-back-and-mewl-and-emote The Fields of friggin' Athenry, but that's not the point is it? It's not about what I want. It's about what we've got.

And we haven't got folk music. Because there is no folk music.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: John P
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 05:08 PM

Such differences as there are come down to lyrics, style or instrumentation, none of them totemic or particular to folk. You say there are strong differences between the tradition and contemporary music John P, can you point out how exactly?

The differences aren't at all about style or instrumentation. They are about lyrics and melodies. I don't have the learning, inclination, or time to do a thorough analysis of the differences between traditional and non-traditional melodies and lyrics. The best I can offer is an assignment: listen to 100 traditional folk songs. Then listen to 100 contemporary songs. If your ears work the way mine do, the differences (and similarities!) will be extremely obvious in about 95 of each 100. The other 10 songs will be in a gray area somewhere.

After listening to and playing traditional folk music for the last 35 years or so, I can hear a melody and say, "that sounds traditional" or "that sounds modern". When I'm wrong, it's usually because the modern song was written by someone who has been listening to and playing traditional music for most of their life. But then, that's my one quibble with the 1954 definition: there are newly composed songs that, for me, fit in the traditional music genre because they are melodically and lyrically indistinguishable from traditional music. I don't know if these should be considered folk songs or not, and it doesn't really matter much to me.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 05:21 PM

"there are newly composed songs that, for me, fit in the traditional music genre because they are melodically and lyrically indistinguishable from traditional music."

I agree. And some of them don't even sound like folk.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 05:22 PM

"I'm saying they're all traditional songs, which I guess we'd all agree makes them folk songs."

I guess it boils down to a disagreement that "Folk" and "Traditional" are interchangeable words.   I agree with you 100% on the aspects that make music traditional, and disagree that "traditional" means the same as "folk".


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 05:28 PM

I guess it boils down to a disagreement that "Folk" and "Traditional" are interchangeable words.

Actually I've given up on making that strong claim - too quixotic even for me. What I meant was that some people here say that the "folk" category consists mostly of traditional music, while others say that it consists of traditional music and a lot of other stuff. So the one thing we can agree on is that if a song's traditional, it can be called a folk song.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 05:38 PM

Spleen - well put. Mostly, anyway.

I'd suspect that 1954 folk music, to paraphrase Morrissey, "says nothing to us about our lives".

I know what you mean - I quite fancy singing The old cock crows, but if I did I'd have to point out that every single line was a lie ("I like to hear the old cock crow early in the morning"... well, er, no actually). But still - no death, no heartbreak, no horror, no riotous boozing, no opportunistic seduction? No nights that you wish had lasted seven long years? (You don't have to answer that one.) No morns that look bright and clear, but the forest won't yield me no roses? You must lead a sheltered life.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Howard Jones
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 06:10 PM

SS, what you're describing is a philosophy, not a definition. You're celebrating that ordinary people are coming together to make music. I agree, that's worth celebrating. However, according to you, when people get together to make music, of whatever origin, that's folk. It's a point of view, but I don't think it's one that many would share, and neither does it reflect everyday language or experience.

There are recognisable genres of music, although they many not be easy to define, and playing them out of their usual context doesn't alter that. A jazz piece is still jazz, whether it's played in a folk club or a jazz club, just as Bach is still Bach, or hip-hop is still hip-hop, wherever it's played. Similarly, a folk song is still a folk song whether it's played in a jazz club or a classical concert hall. You cannot define "folk", or anything else, simply by its context.

The "folk club" is not as unique or special as we like to think. Everywhere, amateur musicians are coming together to make music, in choirs, orchestras, jazz clubs, and countless other venues. They're all sharing the same experience of making music. To label what they're doing as "folk" because it's done by folk is actually quite patronising.

What you are really saying is that you have something which calls itself a "folk club" at which all and any kinds of music are welcome. That's great. I won't even argue with you over whether it should be called a "folk club". But to call everything that is played there, or which might be played there, "folk music" doesn't help us towards a definition of "folk" in its modern usage, which is what I had understood to be your question. The club could be called something quite different, the music would remain the same.

Why not just say that at your "folk club" people are encouraged to perform not only traditional and modern folk songs but any other genre as well? Why does it all have to be forced into the label "folk"?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 06:56 PM

Pip - you slightly miss the point I was trying to make. For me, personally, some of these songs speak volumes and are things of great beauty that articulate all manner of human emotion and experience. On the other hand, why is it that when I pop a folk CD on the player, the normal response from most of my friends - and they're nearly all music fiends of one kind or another - is not to be able to get beyond the 'funny voices' or 'archaic language' or 'odd tunes' or 'strange instruments' or horrors upon horrors utter lack of instruments? This isn't an isolated response. It's what I've come to expect. Traditional music sounds like it is made by aliens, so it would seem. This doesn't happen when I play them James Blackshaw or Nancy Wallace or The Accidental or Mary Hampson or many of the singer songwriter/nu-folk/Green Mannish albums I also have lurking on my miseryPod (TM). Hmmm...


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Ian Fyvie
Date: 30 Mar 09 - 08:03 PM

How about viewing folk in terms of what it's not - rock/pop.

Then add a few positives as well like....   problems....

.....what can we add that hasn't exceptions?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 03:25 AM

When I washed up up on these shores I was roundly - and immediately - abused for describing any non-traditional music as folk music. That flies in the face of web sites, record labels, radio programmes, shop filing systems, folk clubs (AFAIK) and festivals agreeing with my suppositions. If there was a war, it was over before I arrived.
Except on mudcat where, like those Japanese soldiers on pacific islands, the war rages on.

I would suggest that the tradition and folk are both alive and well.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 04:51 AM

Why must you use emotive language, 'Glueman'? Who 'roundly abused' you? Do you really mean someone disagreed with you? That's permitted in a discussion forum, you know!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Will Fly
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 05:12 AM

This leads me to the conclusion that there is no such thing as folk music.

Probably the most sensible thing I've seen so far on this thread - and the 3 propositions from the esteemed Spleen that preceded it also made damned good sense.

It doesn't matter whether we agree with the 1954 definition totally, partially or not at all. The process by which those songs came to be over a period of time has now stopped - and the stoppage began, unwittingly, when RVW and C# and others "meddled and muddled" as Diane Easby put it. The very act of writing it all down and recording it has been the thing that fixed it in time.

So what we have now in the UK - unless the process as defined by the 1954 words is still going on unnoticed somewhere - is a body of work that entertainers can draw on if they feel fit. I doubt that many of us who perform in clubs, sessions, singarounds, open mics (call the components of this generally acoustic scene what you will) are connected in any way to that unconscious process. We draw on the material as we find it in our chosen sources, and we draw on other materials if we so choose and if we think they're appropriate for the moment. Whether others think they're appropriate is all down to personal taste in the end.

By singing traditional material, i.e. that largely within the scope of the 1954 definition, we're not keeping the tradition alive in any sense - we're choosing material to perform which appeals to us as performers and which we hope will appeal to the audience. It's good that the body of traditional music exists, and it's good that many performers draw on its beauty for performance purposes. But let's not be fooled - it's entertainment, and I doubt that even an informal and boozy sing-song in a pub is carrying on the tradition as defined.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 05:14 AM

After my first or second post (I forget which) one of the regulars said - forget it, this ones not worth it! The kind of playground control freakery I hadn't heard since, er..the playground. What a welcome. Hilarious - except adults still think and talk like that.

SS suggested his friends thought folk music didn't speak to ordinary people, I can relate my friends think it's for nutters and pedants and wonder what I get out of it.
Fortunately the music is there for all and so long as you don't visit folk clubs, limit festival visits and don't spend too much time on Mudcat, you can listen to the stuff unsullied by people who want to write history (with committee approval in case they're unsure whether to enjoy what they're hearing or not) in their own image.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 05:46 AM

SS, what you're describing is a philosophy, not a definition. You're celebrating that ordinary people are coming together to make music. I agree, that's worth celebrating. However, according to you, when people get together to make music, of whatever origin, that's folk.

Maybe Folk itself is a philosophy? A way of life, a way of being. Maybe we should be a bit more specific here and say that Folk Music is music done by Folkies; and if that includes the late great Matt Armour and company doing When The Saints Go Marching In and Jim Eldon's inspired reconstruction of The Tide is High then so much the better. It might also include a lot of other things too, but in the end this is a music which defines its own parameters according to no other set of criteria other than what Folkies are moved to do in the name of Folk. If this argument is somehow circular then so be it; and let the circle be unbroken.

It's a point of view, but I don't think it's one that many would share, and neither does it reflect everyday language or experience.

It reflects 35 years of experience of Folk; I'm sure I'm not alone in that. Go to any cub or festival; even listen to Mike Harding's radio show; look through the Folk section of your local HMV; look through the threads on Mudcat...

There are recognisable genres of music, although they many not be easy to define, and playing them out of their usual context doesn't alter that. A jazz piece is still jazz, whether it's played in a folk club or a jazz club, just as Bach is still Bach, or hip-hop is still hip-hop, wherever it's played.

A jazz piece doesn't stop being jazz just because it's played in a folk context no more than a Fish Crate from Castletownbere stops becoming a Fish Crate because it's adrift on the Irish Sea. It is Folk; it is Flotsam.

Similarly, a folk song is still a folk song whether it's played in a jazz club or a classical concert hall. You cannot define "folk", or anything else, simply by its context.

I'd say that was true of a Traditional Folk Song, but really a Folk Song only exists in a Folk Context; take it out of that context and it invariably becomes something else. Like when the Fish Crate is returned to Castletownbere Fisherman's Co-op.

The "folk club" is not as unique or special as we like to think. Everywhere, amateur musicians are coming together to make music, in choirs, orchestras, jazz clubs, and countless other venues. They're all sharing the same experience of making music. To label what they're doing as "folk" because it's done by folk is actually quite patronising.

It is the Folkies who call these places Folk Clubs, or Folk Festivals, or Folk whatever; it is the Folkies who do these things in the name of Folk. And yes, the Folkies do not have a monopoly on amateurism (in the best possible sense of a word that all too often is used derisively). However, a Jazz Club is not a Folk Club, although there are crossovers, such as when the same individual attends both. One night he'll have his Folk Hat on, the other his Jazz Hat. But it's only when he does Jazz with his Folk Hat on that Jazz is Folk. Of course the question must then be asked would he do Folk with his Jazz Hat on? Well, I do occasionally - I'll sing a Traditional Folk Song in the context of a performance of Free Improvisation (call that Jazz? it's not even fecking music!), but to me it's all Folk Music anyway because - guess what? I never heard no horse sing a song!. And I really, really, really, deeply, honestly, sincerely, believe that to be true. To me, the ultimate Folk Context is Planet Earth, but I'm not about to bring that into the discussion, just let you know that ultimately, that's where I'm coming from. Everything I do is Folk - from THIS to THIS to even THIS.      

What you are really saying is that you have something which calls itself a "folk club" at which all and any kinds of music are welcome..

No - what I am saying is that all Folk Clubs and festivals are like this. The Folk Club in Fleetwood is just one example.

That's great.

Not always, but such is life.

I won't even argue with you over whether it should be called a "folk club". But to call everything that is played there, or which might be played there, "folk music" doesn't help us towards a definition of "folk" in its modern usage which is what I had understood to be your question. The club could be called something quite different, the music would remain the same.

I disagree. Folk in its modern usage is almost entirely about context. And would the music remain the same? Certainly the ethos would change - the weight of meaning which is carried by the term Folk Club which ensures we get a regular rosta of visiting floor singers bringing everything from self-penned ukulele songs (in the Tradition of George Formby) to Scottish strict-tempo accordionists, to singer-song writers, to unaccompanied singers of Traditional Song, to players of Segovia on classical guitar, to blues singers. They all come because it's a Folk Club.

Why not just say that at your "folk club" people are encouraged to perform not only traditional and modern folk songs but any other genre as well? Why does it all have to be forced into the label "folk"?

The label isn't forced, it's what it is; it's out there in all its empirical diversity. This is not my personal opinion, but an observation of a reality. I may not like it any more than you do, but such is life - if life offers you Lemons, you make Lemonade.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: TheSnail
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 06:08 AM

PLEASE come back, Jim. At least I understood what I disagreed with you about.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 06:21 AM

"After my first or second post (I forget which) one of the regulars said - forget it, this ones not worth it! The kind of playground control freakery I hadn't heard since, er..the playground. What a welcome. Hilarious - except adults still think and talk like that."

Was this 'abuse' that you suffered in this thread, 'Glueman', or in a previous thread? I can't seem to find it in this one.

Anyway, you shouldn't take anything said on here too personally - it's only words, after all! For example, my position was equated with 'ethnic cleansing' on another thread - a position so ludicrous that, after bringing it to the attention of the poster, all I could do was laugh!

Seriously though, people who take the position that the folk genre is limited and definable are still being accused of being authoritarian and all sorts of other crimes. In my view this represents either an hysterical over-reaction or blatant mis-representation, and does not move the debate forward - this sort of thing is the true 'politics of the playground'.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 06:48 AM

An old thread, a year ago perhaps Shimrod. It wouldn't matter at all, I certainly don't feel wounded, except there is a perception that folk is about being right, scoring points, being pedantic, cantankerous, exclusive - usually under the banner of inclusion and bonhommie (on certain terms!) - anything but the damned music, which that sort of response plays into the hands of.

Those involved would say those who 'get it' get it and those who don't are beyond help. The question is what is this 'it'. The more I read the more I conclude there is no it, or one person's it is different to another's. You want to make 1954 a shibboleth? Fine, we'll write one for 2009. As someone noted, they ain't legally binding, they're notions, abstracts, an attempt at a history from scattered fragments and high ideals.

The funny part is my taste is very traditional (when we're talking about the tradition and not contemporary folk music), something I fear is lost on the critics.
I agree with SS and Will Fly's observation that tradition or folk, it's all entertainment now. When people get that, the BS wars will be over.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 08:20 AM

Of course, I could rest my entire case on the Singers and Songs that Stunned Me thread, where what we have in a few passionate posts represents a reduction to the consummate essence of what people think of as being Folk Music, including a few Traditional Songs, but only one, so far, sung by a Traditional Singer... Hmmm - needs must I rectify that one!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Will Fly
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 08:36 AM

Well SS, I think I'd call Gary Davis a very traditional singer - just not in the UK tradition! I certainly count seeing him as an absolute privilege.

Broonzy was perhaps more urban - I won't say more sophisticated - than Davis (the Rev. had a stunning knowledge of the guitar), but he still represented one of the last of a tradition of blues singers who got it "on the hoof".


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 09:16 AM

Sorry about that, Will - missed those! I think it's these solvents I'm working with today. I missed the whole point of the thread too; whilst I have seen some Traditional Singers in Folk Clubs etc. I wouldn't say I was ever particularly stunned by them, though I'd love to know the name of the guy who sang Plains of Waterloo as a floorspot at The Bay Hotel Folk Club in Cullercoats back around 1979 - now that was stunning!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Howard Jones
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 09:39 AM

SS, I do understand what you're saying. But you were asking for a definition. What I'm trying to get across is that if you say that "folk" can encompass absolutely everything, then it fails as a definition, because it doesn't tell us anything about the music except the context in which it is performed on a specific occasion. To say it can be "folk" as well as jazz, or classical, or hip-hop doesn't help us to recognise a piece of music as being "folk" - which is the purpose of a definition.

Do the George Formby uke-players or classical guitarists really believe their music is folk, therefore they go to a folk club to play it? My guess is they think, "OK, this isn't folk, but if I go to that particular folk club they'll let me play it anyway."

What you have done is to define the music policy for your club. By extrapolating from that to claiming that all music is folk music you are implying that all folk clubs should have the same policy, and that any "folk club" which turns away the uke-players or classical guitarists has no grounds for doing so.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 09:48 AM

"what you're describing is a philosophy, not a definition."

That is the most intelligent statement that has been made in this or any thread on the subject of "folk music". Well done!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 09:58 AM

Glueman, I still don't believe that I'm being authoritarian by sticking to my point view that folk music is a limited and definable genre. And even if I wanted to 'throw my weight around', and dictate to people what they can and can't sing, how would I go about it?

The only feasible way that I can see is to be a folk club organiser and to run a club with a clearly defined policy. Surely, no-one could object to that - especially if it is a democratic policy agreed upon by all of the club's members. But I'm not such an organiser and, therefore, have no powers whatsoever. All of these unfounded accusations of authoritarianism are mischievous and stop the debate from moving forward.

Nevertheless, I am entitled to my point of view - no matter how unpopular it might be in some quarters. I think that this debate may well boil down to Pip Radish's assertion above (I think it was you, Pip?) that some people can't tell the difference between 'is' and 'ought'. The 1954 definition is a good guide to what folk music 'is' but some people think that it 'ought' to be something else and, hence, reject the definition. Incidentally, I have met this attitude in several other areas of my life and have come to recognise it for what it is.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 10:13 AM

doesn't help us to recognise a piece of music as being "folk" - which is the purpose of a definition.

If the definition of Flotsam is some anomalous artefact adrift in the sea, then the definition of Folk I'm suggesting is valid as a definition. It might define the music in terms of genre, but it does define the music in terms of its human & social context which I would have thought was more important to a music called Folk. The 1954 Definition does that too - it never once nails a genre as such, just gives a catalogue of criteria by which a song might be considered Folk. So Folk has always been a matter of contextual criteria rather than musical content - it has never been a genre as such, more of a construct.

Do the George Formby uke-players or classical guitarists really believe their music is folk, therefore they go to a folk club to play it? My guess is they think, "OK, this isn't folk, but if I go to that particular folk club they'll let me play it anyway."

My guess is they come because a folk club is one of few places they can get to play their music to an appreciative & warm hearted audience, which is generally what you find in a folk club and why the music - any music - tends to be accepted as such.

What you have done is to define the music policy for your club.

Not just our club - all clubs & festivals are like this to a greater or lesser extent. It's the wider condition of this thing called Folk Music.

By extrapolating from that to claiming that all music is folk music you are implying that all folk clubs should have the same policy

I've yet to go to one that doesn't. In fact - if there's anyone reading this who knows of an exclusively Traditional Folk Club or Singaround I'd be interested in hearing about it - if only so I might come along one day!

and that any "folk club" which turns away the uke-players or classical guitarists has no grounds for doing so.

I can't conceive of any such club. Seriously - in my time I've been to hundreds of clubs, and even the most traditional of them wouldn't be so callous as to turn anyone away. That is one of defining attributes of Folk Music - inclusiveness on a human level.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 10:16 AM

Correction!

It might not define the music in terms of genre, but it does define the music in terms of its human & social context...

Solvents!!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 10:27 AM

"All of these unfounded accusations"

They are not unfounded, the guilty party may well intervene on the thread before long with an explanation. It was a swift baptism of fire in internet folk debate.
However you look at it today's activities are pastiche. Even clubs who'd insist on unaccompanied traditional songs sung without any tonal accuracy or intrusive mannerisms - a small market and one probably incapable of local support - are dealing in re-enactment. Nothing wrong with that so long as it's seen for what it is and they don't make intellectual land-grabs on the wider folk estate.

I can't make my point better than it's all entertainment, singers of traditional songs aren't preserving anything more than public singing in member's clubs, which is fair enough. What's not to like?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 11:44 AM

"My guess is they come because a folk club is one of few places they can get to play their music to an appreciative & warm hearted audience, which is generally what you find in a folk club and why the music - any music - tends to be accepted as such."

Unfortunately, there's a lot of truth in that! It's what I've been saying for ages! Far too many people have taken advantage of the easily accessible platform provided by folk clubs. My view is that if such people can't get platforms anywhere else it's their problem, and they should not be making it a problem for folk fans like me!


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 12:06 PM

singers of traditional songs aren't preserving anything more than public singing in member's clubs, which is fair enough. What's not to like?

Realising after five years of regular attendance at a folk club that traditional material isn't just another specialism - like "sung by Donovan before he went electric" or "made famous by Hank Williams" or "about my recent relationships" - but a vast ocean of music, with enough songs to keep any singer going for a lifetime. I didn't like that.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 12:48 PM

"that traditional material isn't just another specialism"

Oh yes it is, don't kid yourself. It's a minority taste, always has been, electrification not withstanding. I won't hold my breath waiting for a mass conversion to 'the cause'


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 01:58 PM

Try reading to the end of the sentence, Rifleman.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 02:14 PM

Oh but I did, and what I posted previously still stands, so get over. it


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 03:06 PM

If you can't spot a difference in scale between "sung by Donovan before he went electric" and "every song with the word 'trad' after it", either you're badly misinformed or you need new glasses.

But I'll gladly take the opportunity to clarify. The only thing I've really disliked about going to my local FC was the realisation, after five years of regular attendance, that traditional material isn't just another specialism, a little store of a couple of dozen songs which one performer can make his/her own - like "songs sung by Donovan before he went electric" or "songs made famous by Hank Williams" or "songs about my recent relationships" - but a vast ocean of music, with enough songs to keep any singer going for a lifetime. The realisation that I'd been missing out on all that music - I didn't like that.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 03:25 PM

The realisation that I'd been missing out on all that music - I didn't like that.

Sounds like an Epiphany to me, Pip - significant cause for rejoicing! Just on relearning The Molecatcher today; I've decided to relearn all the songs I've ever forgotten - not as easy at it sounds believe me.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 03:31 PM

Pip Radish: "a vast ocean of music, with enough songs to keep any singer going for a lifetime. The realisation that I'd been missing out on all that music"

Again very seriously not being arsey here. But yes, me too. Except I feel that partly (if not greatly) to blame for my lack of exposure to Traditional Song is that it was/has been utterly lost and overwhelmed by a surfeit of eclectic material which has - like it or no - mushroomed beneath the fungal folk umbrella.

Not sure I buy the OP's thesis myself; preferring 'Folk as Genre' (which tends to be the way most people organise music) though frankly on logic and empirical evidence, SS's reasoning seems hard to fault!

So, I'd like to see 'Traditional [Folk] Song' out from underneath the suffocating umbrella of Folk, where it is utterly LOST! And indeed will ever remain so - irrespective of whatever a tiny few would prefer to be the case.

Prioritise! The songs matter more than some verbage!

Of course while the annoyed scratch their itching sores, and grumble, thankfully there are real YET real live boys n' girls like Mawkin Causley, and Bellowhead, going out there and doing the REAL work of communicating folk songs to those who might still actually give a damn... ;-)


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 03:36 PM

Crow Sister, welcome to the madhouse...


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 04:15 PM

Indeed, I took my 11 year old, 3/4 size Les Paul totin', rock luvvin son to see Mawkin Causley and Bellowhead and they're now on his iPod - his decision.
I wouldn't know how to operate an iPod. With my eyes vinyl is a problem! Sly and Robbie were doing some similar arrangements twenty odd years ago. Music is seamless.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 04:23 PM

Well, I guess I'm not only in the wrong pew, I'm in the wrong church. I found myself agreeing with what Crow Sister just wrote, then, unfamiliar with Mawkin Causley and Bellowhead (out here on the west coast of the U. S. and A.), I pulled them up on YouTube.

What I heard was with what came on like symphony orchestras with whatever solo singers I could pick out being backed by choirs of other singers.   The songs being sung (at least the ones I listened to) seemed to be what I would consider (in my narrow, twisted little mind) to be "folk" songs?or "traditional" songs (if there really is a difference, which I can't see myself), but the presentation reminded me of some of the major stage productions put on by Harry Belafonte back in the mid to late 1950s.

Whatever happened to the singer (just one) singing a traditional song (like a Child ballad, for example) to the accompaniment of a guitar?or a banjo?or a concertina (just one, not all of them together)? Or possibly even (shudder of horror!!) unaccompanied?

Oh, I see! Dull! Weird! Boring! Nobody wants to listen to that stuff anymore, I guess.

(But?fortunately, that doesn't reflect my experience out here in the wilderness).

'Scuse me for now. Lunch time here.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 05:13 PM

Sounds like an Epiphany to me, Pip - significant cause for rejoicing!

Oh, it was that all right - life-changing experience. But I did then start thinking where have you been all my life?, and one of the answers I came up with was not at the Folk Club, that's for sure.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 05:14 PM

If Bellowhead are a bit raucous for your taste Don try Mawkin:Causley. Botany Bay is a good'un, enough rum, sodomy and the lash to keep any traditional party going.
http://www.myspace.com/mawkincausley


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 05:35 PM

The 1954 definition can be applied cross-culturally. It doesn't define 'what folk is' but describes the processes by which folk music - in its myriad forms - has evolved.

Sinister Supporter's definition - 'folk is flotsam' - apparently describes what goes on in many English folk clubs. Would 'folk is flotsam' work as a definition outside this specific context? If you visited a country and failed to find a folk club that resembles yours, would you conclude that said country has no folk music?

If you want to update the accepted definition of folk music, you're going to have to do better than (I paraphrase) - "Folk is anything that washes up on the shore of my club."


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Stringsinger
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 06:21 PM

1954 has nothing to do with folk music. It's an arbitrary date that is used because someone said something about it.

This new debate is like the snake swallowing it's tail or as Shake said "sound and fury...."

Before this definition came up, scholars and folklorists were saying the same thing.
What's so new about 1954?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: greg stephens
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 06:44 PM

1954 is just a shorthasnd way to refer to a particularly way of defining the term folk music. The definition had been in use for many many years before that, obviously, and has been used ever since as well (with, as befits something folkie, slight continuous modification!)


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 07:24 PM

Well, yeah, Pip. The "Botany Bay" rendition was good, very good, but still there is the matter of
Jim Causley - vocals & accordion
James Delarre - fiddle and backing vocals
Alex Goldsmith - melodeons and backing vocals
Danny Crump ? 5-string electric bass, piano, and backing vocals
David Delarre - acoustic guitars and backing vocals
I have nothing against the idea of "folk bands," I mean, after all, I weathered the onslaught of groups like the Kingston Trio, the Brothers Four, The New Christy Minstrels, and dozens of clones and imitations. Then and now, I sometimes find that all that instrumentation and the backing vocals tend to overwhelm a song, especially one that has a story to tell.

There was quite an onslaught of this sort of thing back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and if you want to introduce people to folk music, I'm not sure that this doesn't present a problem in "truth in labeling." I recall one evening during my regular weekend gig at "The Place Next Door" in 1959, someone requested "The Wreck of the Sloop John B." So I sang it. The person who requested it grumped a bit that I hadn't sung it right (I believe I first heard it sung by The Weavers, and I'd learned it in 1956 from Carl Sandburg's American Songbag). "Why?" I asked. "What isn't right about it?" "That's not the way the Kingston Trio does it," he complained. "Well," sez I, being quick of wit, "there are three of them and there's only one of me."

Groups of this kind are very entertaining. I really enjoyed The Weavers, The Gateway Singers, The Clancy Brothers, Peter Paul and Mary, The Chieftains and others when they passed through Seattle. But as to "introducing people to folk music," I think that these often slick and carefully arranged ensembles give a somewhat bogus impression.

One thing for which I give Harry Belafonte high marks is that often when he went on tour, after he had the audience thoroughly warmed up, he would bring out people like Odetta or Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, say" These are the people who inspired me," and then turn them loose to do what they had always done.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 07:30 PM

So is that another new definition of folk? A solitary pursuit?


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: John P
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 08:13 PM

Hi Don,
One of the reasons I keep playing at the Folklife Festival even though I'm sick of the crowds is because every year someone comes up after our set and says something like, "I've never heard anything like that before. I love it! Where can I find more music like that?" There is something about traditional music that compels certain people; I think they are responding to the melodies, rhythms, and words. I've never done a solo set in my life, and my music tends to be highly arranged (although my first rule of arranging involves making sure the arrangement supports the song rather than replacing it). I spent years playing in a duet with about a dozen instruments on stage with us, and now play in a five-person band with lots of instruments and harmonies.

I agree that there is something special, and in some ways more traditional, about the unaccompanied or minimally accompanied song (I credit Chris Roe with first turning me on to traditional music), but I also think that music in a more "normal" format sometimes sucks in folks who wouldn't pay any attention to a solo singer doing trad material.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 31 Mar 09 - 09:38 PM

Here in the US, we've always had "real" traditional music that was accessible--performers and recording of performers who were actually part of the various living musical traditions--not everyone listened, or liked it, but it was there--there was nothing on the other side of the pond corresponding to "The Anthology of American Folk Music"--


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:20 AM

If you want to update the accepted definition of folk music, you're going to have to do better than (I paraphrase) - "Folk is anything that washes up on the shore of my club."

Your paraphrase is inaccurate. Better would be Folk Song can be any song sung in the name of Folk in a designated Folk Context. A DFC is not necessarily a Folk Club. Whilst I haunt the amateur fringes of folk, there is nothing in the folk world as a whole (festivals, magazines, record companies, radio shows, internet fora etc.) that would contradict my proposition of Folk as Flotsam, which is to say a generality of music performed in the name of folk and defined by context rather than genre. I say again, I base this on observation of the evidence - I'm not making it up.

So is that another new definition of folk? A solitary pursuit?

How lonely are we Folkies in the real world? How often in the course of our every day lives do we cross paths with another of our breed? Not that often in my experience! Head for the local folk club and no longer feel alone! Kindred spirits and like minded souls! And a network of community, belonging and togetherness brings you into the bosom of the fold. Hell, I even my wife in a Folk Club and how happy I am that we might bring our Folk home with us; I know singers of both sexes who married and were never heard of again. I know others who married outside of Folk and brought their new spouses into the fold where, although they might never sing, are as much a part of it as anything else. And what proportion of Folk is the singing? As oppose to the banter and the crack (I am a Geordie) and the Jouissance that might well come through the music but which is, in actual fact, the consequence of context alone? Hmmmm - Folk is a community thing; I may sing my songs solo (though rarely unaccompanied) but the experience is collective.

If you visited a country and failed to find a folk club that resembles yours, would you conclude that said country has no folk music?

Even the IFMC (who came up with the 1954 Definition) have changed their name to the ICTM; so Traditional music makes greater sense, although their remit does state: The aims of the ICTM are to further the study, practice, documentation, preservation and dissemination of traditional music, including folk, popular, classical and urban music, and dance of all countries. But this isn't about Folk Clubs per se, rather Designated Folk Contexts which in British Society include Folk Clubs, Festivals etc, but in other cultures might be very different as a casual glance at YouTube might reveal. British Folk Music (as we understand it, or don't as the case may be) is not and nowhere near the whole of the case for British Traditional Music or British Ethnic Music, rather something very particular with respect of a Revival largely determined by a particular generation whose musical concerns, as I am attempting to show, are not wholly traditional.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:30 AM

"Well, I guess I'm not only in the wrong pew, I'm in the wrong church. I found myself agreeing with what Crow Sister just wrote, then, unfamiliar with Mawkin Causley and Bellowhead (out here on the west coast of the U. S. and A.), I pulled them up on YouTube.

What I heard was with what came on like symphony orchestras with whatever solo singers I could pick out being backed by choirs of other singers."

As usual, Don, spot on! I couldn't have said it better myself.

The trouble is that all of these new 'Folk Wunderkind' really aspire to being in a band. There's no doubt that they know a lot about traditional music (quite possibly more than I do!) but they seem to see it as just a vehicle for their 'being-in-a-band' ambitions.
For me one of the the refreshing thing about folk music is that, generally, it doesn't need the band treatment. Applying such a treatment is 'over-egging the pudding'. If I want to listen to bands of musical prodigies I'll just switch on the radio (maybe I wont!) - I like my folk music straight and undiluted - otherwise it's like every other noisy, over-hyped racket that saturates our contemporary environment.


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Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 01 Apr 09 - 04:41 AM

In the UK people have to find their own way through the folk maze. I can't speak for the present day but as someone born in the late 50s my introduction to folk was throught the half-arsed but well meaning attempts to get country dancing on the curriculum (stripping the willow and other comic nightmares) and the BBC schools broadcasts (cut glass classically trained vowels intoning Child ballads).

Pub folk consisted of - to use a broad but well placed brush - drink addled amateurs singing in a way they hope their great grandparents might have to others on the same nostalgia trip. Better stuff sometimes made its way onto John Peel's programme or the discerning could hang around the few specialist shops for tips.

The very few clubs I attended were replete by Mary Hopkins clones doing folk-lite by the early 70s or members out puritan-ing each other much as bird watchers might tick off near-extinct varieties they'd seen.

For the ordinary person folk was a complete irrelevance: maxi or mini skirts, a few Jesus freaks, grumpy old men. About as far from it's community routes as it's possible to imagine.

IMO folk music has survived despite folk clubs, not because of them.


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