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Folk Music genealogy?

plnelson 14 Jun 09 - 09:15 PM
wysiwyg 20 Jun 09 - 10:18 AM
dick greenhaus 20 Jun 09 - 05:54 PM
Bill D 20 Jun 09 - 08:38 PM
Paul Burke 20 Jun 09 - 08:45 PM
GUEST 21 Jun 09 - 07:04 PM
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Subject: Traditional Music genealogy?
From: plnelson
Date: 14 Jun 09 - 09:15 PM

I'm new to Mudcat but for years I've been a big fan of traditional folk music.   I'm especially interested in work songs (shanties and other songs of sailors, loggers, railroad and mine workers) and union songs, but I also like ballads, dance songs, etc.

(BTW a few days ago I attended a house concert in Brookline Mass, where Louis Killin and Norman Kennedy performed. My blog entry about it is here: http://blog.pnart.com/?p=210 )

But my question is this: As you know, traditional folk music often involves the same song evolving over many years, and songs deriving from other songs, or using stanzas or tunes or narrative from other songs.    Has anyone attempted to graph or create a sort of "family tree" of these connections?   

I know researchers have done this for individual songs -, "the first version of this song appeared in 1740, and then this stanza got added in 1781 by soldiers returning from the American war, and then prisoners transported to Australia started singing it, but with these changes, and then during the Irish Revolution . . . ". Etc. But I'm really interested in the connections BETWEEN songs. Often we hear two different songs with exactly the same narrative, or even some of the same lines, and it seems like more than a coincidence but I'm curious which way the influence went.

Thanks in advance.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music genealogy?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 10:18 AM

I have seen a family-tree graphic of music from the viewpoint of the music that flowed out of African American Spirituals (AKA negro spirituals as they are known internationally). PM me an email address and if I can find the copy I stored on the hard disk, I can send it to you. Mudcat lacks photo-posting tools, but since it's not my work I wouldn't post it if we did.

PS welcome to Mudcat!

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Folk Music genealogy?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 05:54 PM

After hearing decades of arguments on the subject, I've concluded that geneology is a poor tool for studying folksongs. It's not that they aren't derived from some earlier version; it's just that the cross-breeding makes a fishnet a better model than a tree.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music genealogy?
From: Bill D
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 08:38 PM

These are 'usually' the result of the Folk Processor set on 'pureé'......someone hears a part of a song, remembers the general theme and can't remember the details, but decides it's too good not to re-create.

I even saw it happen once, when a parody written on my front porch was sung back by people I didn't know...in distorted but recognizable form 2 years later.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music genealogy?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 08:45 PM

It's more like bacteria, that can swap juicy bits of DNA and run 20 generations in an hour, than the stately progress of mammalian natural selection. But there's a good Doctoral thesis for somebody in matching the song (and tune) variations to migrations.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music genealogy?
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jun 09 - 07:04 PM

After hearing decades of arguments on the subject, I've concluded that geneology is a poor tool for studying folksongs. It's not that they aren't derived from some earlier version; it's just that the cross-breeding makes a fishnet a better model than a tree.

I agree - I don't have any preference for any particular type of topology - I'm just wondering if anyone has done this, and if so, where the research is published/posted.   Thanks in advance.


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