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What is 'Folk Character'?

Sleepy Rosie 21 Mar 09 - 08:59 AM
curmudgeon 21 Mar 09 - 09:33 AM
Dave the Gnome 21 Mar 09 - 09:46 AM
Jack Campin 21 Mar 09 - 10:14 AM
Stringsinger 21 Mar 09 - 12:09 PM
Rifleman (inactive) 21 Mar 09 - 04:15 PM
Phil Edwards 21 Mar 09 - 04:53 PM
Jack Campin 21 Mar 09 - 05:07 PM
Jack Blandiver 21 Mar 09 - 05:22 PM
Jack Campin 21 Mar 09 - 05:32 PM
Sleepy Rosie 21 Mar 09 - 05:40 PM
Art Thieme 21 Mar 09 - 07:20 PM
Don Firth 21 Mar 09 - 07:47 PM
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Subject: What is 'Folk Character'?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 08:59 AM

I feel like this might cause a riot what with all the overlapping threads onlist atm.. I hope that this is more of an *aesthetic* question, and as such shall not be treading too much on the toes of other threads currently onlist.

Anyway, the question is a genuine one:

I've heard the term 'Folk Character' used a few times very recently onlist and by friends. It's not a term I'd heard before, and although it might *seem* self-explanitory, I'm not sure that I know what it really means.

So, what qualities, stylistic quirks and characteristics give a song, a tune, a voice, a performance (or whatever else is applicable) 'Folk Character?'


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Subject: RE: What is 'Folk Character'?
From: curmudgeon
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 09:33 AM

"What is 'Folk Character'?" A phrase I've never heard - Tom


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Subject: RE: What is 'Folk Character'?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 09:46 AM

Frayed round the edges, not very polished, irrelevent. Bit like me I suppose...

:D (eG)


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Subject: RE: What is 'Folk Character'?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 10:14 AM

I'm not sure it's all that useful a term, but the idea seems usually to be that an idiom of "folk character" derives from the common practice of some specific regional and ethnic group, accessible in some way to everybody within it. That cuts out cultivated idioms that transcend geographic and ethnic boundaries or specifically cater for class minorities - Gregorian chant, Ottoman classical music, gypsy fiddle showpieces, pibroch or techno, for a few.

Since music interacts with political economy, ethnography and geography in so many different ways in different times and places, I can't see how such a general categorization could be much use to anybody.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Folk Character'?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 12:09 PM

Unsophisticated might be a euphemism. "Primitive" would be harsh. "Simple and direct"..
other adjectives similar might apply. It also might have to do with musical material used in a so-called "classical music" context. Some composers use themes that have a "folk character" which simply means they are folk songs that have been orchestrated or used in compositions. (Ie: Appalachian Spring... Copeland)

It's a useful descriptive term to separate it from more complex forms of music.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Folk Character'?
From: Rifleman (inactive)
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 04:15 PM

Sounds to me like a slogan concocted by some advertising agency


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Subject: RE: What is 'Folk Character'?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 04:53 PM

I wouldn't touch 'folk character' with a bargepole; it sounds like a way of giving new material a 'folk' seal of approval. My problem witha that is that I don't think 'folk' should be a seal of approval, any more than 'bluegrass' or 'baroque'. I haven't got anything against new songs - I'll even sing 'em - I just don't think they're folk songs. It's descriptive, not judgmental.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Folk Character'?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 05:07 PM

More often the term is used to describe themes that sound like folk songs but actually aren't, like the "runic" motives in Sibelius or the folk-like themes used by Bartók and early Stravinsky.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Folk Character'?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 05:22 PM

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.

Like so much in the 1954 definition one suspects it's an academic fantasy of a rusticity entirely uninfluenced by the outside world. In other words, it's an aesthetic consideration of authenticity on a par with GEFF.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Folk Character'?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 05:32 PM

I don't think the text you quoted has anything to do with the phrase as most commonly used. In music criticism it generally says where it sounds like the music came from, not where it actually did.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Folk Character'?
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 05:40 PM

'"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."

Like so much in the 1954 definition [etc.]'

Aye, well this was one of the reasons I posted the question - for it's only recently that I even heard the term in any context - but this particular quotation was precisely one of those very places I recently noticed it.


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Subject: RE: What is 'Folk Character'?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 07:20 PM

I've been called a character every so often.

I have also been a folksinger for a long time.

Maybe I'm it!?

Art


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Subject: RE: What is 'Folk Character'?
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Mar 09 - 07:47 PM

Grandpa McCoy?

sorry. . . .


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