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What is The Tradition?

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Leadfingers 10 Sep 09 - 06:14 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 11 Sep 09 - 04:30 AM
Les in Chorlton 11 Sep 09 - 05:23 AM
Jack Blandiver 11 Sep 09 - 06:41 AM
Les in Chorlton 11 Sep 09 - 06:44 AM
Jack Blandiver 11 Sep 09 - 06:46 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 11 Sep 09 - 06:52 AM
Les in Chorlton 11 Sep 09 - 07:00 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 11 Sep 09 - 07:08 AM
Les in Chorlton 11 Sep 09 - 07:18 AM
Spleen Cringe 11 Sep 09 - 01:27 PM
glueman 11 Sep 09 - 01:50 PM
Jack Blandiver 11 Sep 09 - 05:35 PM
The Sandman 12 Sep 09 - 07:34 AM
MGM·Lion 12 Sep 09 - 07:51 AM
The Sandman 12 Sep 09 - 08:07 AM
MGM·Lion 12 Sep 09 - 08:10 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Sep 09 - 10:34 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Sep 09 - 03:16 PM
Brian Peters 12 Sep 09 - 03:33 PM
The Sandman 12 Sep 09 - 05:42 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Sep 09 - 08:28 PM
Liberty Boy 13 Sep 09 - 03:31 AM
Jack Blandiver 13 Sep 09 - 04:40 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Sep 09 - 05:15 AM
sing4peace 13 Sep 09 - 08:56 AM
Stringsinger 13 Sep 09 - 10:52 AM
MGM·Lion 13 Sep 09 - 03:03 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Sep 09 - 08:10 PM
John P 13 Sep 09 - 09:59 PM
glueman 14 Sep 09 - 02:35 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Sep 09 - 05:00 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 14 Sep 09 - 05:27 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Sep 09 - 06:14 AM
theleveller 14 Sep 09 - 07:40 AM
glueman 14 Sep 09 - 07:42 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Sep 09 - 08:07 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 14 Sep 09 - 08:10 AM
MGM·Lion 14 Sep 09 - 08:55 AM
glueman 14 Sep 09 - 09:04 AM
John P 14 Sep 09 - 09:08 AM
glueman 14 Sep 09 - 09:33 AM
John P 14 Sep 09 - 09:45 AM
John P 14 Sep 09 - 09:59 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Sep 09 - 10:17 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Sep 09 - 10:39 AM
glueman 14 Sep 09 - 10:58 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Sep 09 - 11:38 AM
John P 14 Sep 09 - 11:55 AM
theleveller 14 Sep 09 - 12:02 PM
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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 06:14 PM

100


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 04:30 AM

"Why should Ralphie not declare his inclusivity?"

'Glueman' it seems to me that 'Ralphie' was declaring his EXCLUSIVITY, i.e. "I'm above this debate because I just play music - not talk about it".

And yes, 'Ralphie' I too have been known to experience the odd emotion - sometimes in the presence of music!


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 05:23 AM

Someone said this earlier:

Is it appropriate to see the tradition associated with a community?

So we have a tradition of songs associated with rural working people. We have a tradition of sea songs and shanties associated with a community of sea going working people. We have a tradition of songs carried by Travelers and so on.

In a similar way we have a tradition of songs associated with people who have been singing in Folk Clubs since the 1950s. These traditions and communities are different but they overlap.

L in C


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 06:41 AM

Is it appropriate to see the tradition associated with a community?

In true folkloric terms a community can consist of as few a two people. These two people might have their own culture, language, folklore, traditions and folk music - just as long as these people are Human Beings, the rest of it occurs as a consequence of the psycho-social nature / nurture that defines our Humanity.

As I asked (rhetorically) in the OP: To what extent might the revival be said to be a Tradition in and off itself regardless (and irrespective as much (if not most) of it obviously is) of what may (or may not) have gone before?


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 06:44 AM

Looks like "A Tradition" to me, though clearly one of many. Scout/Guide songs, Rugby songs, .............

No value judgment made
L in C


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 06:46 AM

Absolutely, Les - and a very important one at that.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 06:52 AM

In a similar way we have a tradition of songs associated with people who have been singing in Folk Clubs since the 1950s.

That's true - and oral transmission lives on, to an extent - but it's a very different thing: all the earlier examples are of people bound together by work & everyday life, who also sang. If people singing in Folk Clubs also carried a tradition of whittling and scrimshaw, now...


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 07:00 AM

Phil,

Ven diagrams?

Les


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 07:08 AM

Les,

Later diagrams.

Vorking Radish


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 07:18 AM

Overlapping loops


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 01:27 PM

"Why should Ralphie not declare his inclusivity?"

Saw Ralphie "Declaring his inclusivity" at the Traditions Festival in the company of Irene Shettle. Very nice it was too.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 01:50 PM

It's amazing what doctors can do nowadays with a speculum and a kazoo.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 05:35 PM

oral transmission lives on

Fnaar fnaar


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 07:34 AM

the usual old bollocks.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 07:51 AM

W H Y   [plaintively] has this once·upon·a·time·worthwhile·reading thread been allowed to get so



    B   O   O   O   R   R   I   N   G   !!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 08:07 AM

Well Mike ,its because people get into entrenched positions,people cannot be seen to lose face and refuse to admit that the other side might have a valid point.
most of the contributors are men ,could it be prickitis.
all these threads end up like a village dog chasing its tail


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 08:10 AM

Thanks, Dick. I certainly will buy that...


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 10:34 AM

"In true folkloric terms a community can consist of as few a two people."
Who sez???
In terms of folksong, the community has always been considered of the type described by Laurence Gomme, George Ewart Evans, Estyn Evans, George Bourne et al. The songs (stories and lore) recorded the activities and reflected the values of the community that "worked, prayed, drank, socialised and were educated together - hardly something that can be done for two people.
Can you please point out where it is claimed that a community can consist of two people, folkloric or otherwise?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 03:16 PM

Not doing too well for answers – is it because there are none, or is it something I said?
Anyway – try, try, try again!!!
One of the main reasons for much of the (IMO) muddled thinking surrounding traditional singing is the (also IMO) mistaken belief that traditional singers did not discriminate between the different types of song in their repertoire; this was not our experience in a great many cases. That singers sang many different types of song had no more significance that the fact that if anyone was to trawl through our record collection, as well as Harry Cox, Sam Larner, Mary Anne Carolan……. they would also find Frank Sinatra, Maria Callas, Ella Fitzgerald….. (and a couple of Count John hidden carefully away somewhere).
Blind Travelling woman Mary Delaney, one of the most stylish singers we met, and having one of the largest repertoires of traditional songs, around 22, could easily have doubled that with non-traditional material, mainly C&W, but persistently refused to sing them for us saying, "They're not what you want". She told us that she only learned them because "That's what the lads ask for in the pub." She also constantly complained "The new songs have the old ones ruined."
Mary described all her traditional songs as "My daddy's songs", even though she had learned no more than a dozen of them from her father. She also described them as "the old songs", though ironically she counted among these, Travellers own compositions, some of which must have been made within five years of our recording them. It appears that 'old' and my daddies' songs were a classification of a type of song rather than a reference to their age.
We constantly found that this 'categorisation' of different types of song was fairly common among the singers we met, particularly with singers with large repertoires and those from communities that still had, or had relatively recently lost their singing traditions.
Walter Pardon had hours worth of tape to say on the subject He not only differentiated and categorised his songs (and was doing so as early as 1948), but was very articulate on what those differences where.   
Some of this can be accessed on the article wot I rote for the Enthusiasms section of Musical Traditions entitled 'By Another Name'.
The point of all this being that one of the vital ingredients of all this is the role of the source singer. The ones we met certainly had a take on their songs and their role in their communities and a far greater understanding of their position and functions within their communities – far greater than is often displayed by many revivalists I have met.
None of the above any way proves or disproves the present (interminable) argument, but another aspect of some of the statements made concern me.
The claims that the oral tradition, folk traditions….. whatever, are the result of sloppy, agenda-driven research don't really interest me – none of them come with any evidence whatever to back them up (though we are told by one of these boyos that there is too much evidence for him to be able to give it – so he doesn't bother!)
It leaves me to wonder where the Harry Coxs, Sam Larners, Phil Tanners and all the other singers who have given their time and experience to allow us to access the songs, feature in all this.
Our source singers, have been given the shitty end of the stick one way and another from certain quarters of the revival, and from some researchers and collectors, it must be said. They have been patronised, marginalised, their opinions have been ignored or not even been sought. Some collectors have ripped them off (one particular individual made a career of it) by paying them an insulting pittance   (if anything at all) for the commercial use of their material. Once their songs have been taken down, quite often the singers role in passing them on has been ignored – how many times have we heard of Martin Carthy's 'Barley Straw' or Christie Moore's 'Well Below The Valley, or Nick Jones', Peter Bellamy's…. and so on (not blaming the singers concerned in any way; it's just the way things seem to be in today's revival.) One thing that I do find stomach heaving is the insulting way the older singers are often referred to; old groaners, past their sell-by date, not worth a listen…..; one of the combatants here did his bit of 'granny-slapping not too long ago on one thread.
And how does this concern us here?
I have always believed that our source singers were not just the carriers of our traditional songs, but also their makers, custodians and re-maker. Now, it would appear, we have an attempt to Snopake them out of these role altogether by denying them these functions.
Are we now to regard the likes of Tom Lenihan and Mary Delaney no different than Shane McGowner and Amy Winehouse (but far less rich and famous of course)?
And our folk songs – do we now have to lump them (as has been suggested, with 24 Hours to Tulsa and Leader of the Pack) – or even (as has also been proposed) with "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".
Yours in anticipation,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 03:33 PM

Thanks for the reminder of what we were supposed to be talking about, Jim. Easy to lose sight of it amidst all the sound and fury.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 05:42 PM

I agree with you Jim,but with one proviso,while the process is important it is not of sole importance,style is also important,otherwise we let in tin pan alley or any old shite because its been learned orally or been either accidentally or deliberately processed.
shite will always be shite,even if its been folk processed.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 08:28 PM

Style is a dodgy thing Cap'n - it varies from place to place and quite often it can obsure the main function of our songs, the passing on of the narrative - information, whatever you care to call it. The Irish revival is extremely style driven, often at the cost of the narrative - I have heard it said that some of our most stylish singers could make the Munster telephone directory sound beautiful.
One of my favourite quotes comes from the jazz film ''Round Midnight'. The young, technically very acomplished player plays his piece for the veteran musician, and the old man says "Your notes are fine, but where's your story?"
Not disagreeing with you, just adding a "but".
Sorry - sticky keyboard (and anxiety to get out to the local session) led to a couple of typos in my posting. Mary Delaney has a repertoire of around 200 songs and the pop singer I mentioned was, of course, Shane McGowan.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Liberty Boy
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 03:31 AM

Jim, points well made, dont be in such a hurry to listen to that auld diddle dee dee. See you soon!
Jerry.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 04:40 AM

Not doing too well for answers – is it because there are none, or is it something I said?

I think it must be the latter, old man. Plenty of answers, just what's the use when you can only respond with invective?


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 05:15 AM

"just what's the use when you can only respond with invective? "
Oh, come onnnnnnnn!!!!! Do you want a list of your own sneers and dismissive statements (or your little friend's)?
From the outset of all this nonsense you have totally ignored requests for back-up to your statements - and 'number-one-son' in his plaintive appeal, has told us that there is so much that it is impossible to give it. When the pressure gets too great, you simply walk away. There must be something you can let us have ----- old man!
Next weekend Jerry - save us a seat!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: sing4peace
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 08:56 AM

"Can you please point out where it is claimed that a community can consist of two people, folkloric or otherwise?"

I could be wrong but I seem to remember Jesus being quoted as saying something about "wherever two or more are gathered, so am I there with you." Sounds like community to me.

That aside, I do see where some folks might claim that there is "the tradition" as opposed to "a tradition". I think it a particular insular use of the word but I understand where you are coming from.

I consider myself a traditional singer as I have passed on songs I learned from my father who learned them from his father as well as learning and sharing songs from other people who learned them from other people.... Still, I don't really bill myself as a traditional singer as I don't want to disappoint anybody who might be coming expecting me to sing a whole evening of "come all ye's".


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 10:52 AM

Two people might represent a tradition if they came from a community of more like them.
Two by themselves can't be a community.

There are self-styled communities such as organizations as "The Sons of the Confederate Soldiers" created to serve political or social/religious agendas. These aren't folk traditions but manufactured entities. The BNP comes to mind.

I agree with Jim Carroll that singers and players from the traditional folk sources have a level of understanding and sophistication about what they do and how they differ from
the commercial music world.

To dismiss folklore studies, cultural demarcations, and traditional sources in general suggest an ignorance as to what folk music is. The defense is generally, "if I do it,
it's folk" which is like "I don't know anything about art but I know what I like".

It's not up to the traditional singer to define his role. That can be determined by those
who have familiarized themselves with the musical and textual elements of a song.

The "Jesus quote" sounds more biblical than communal.

Jim, you can't expect that traditional folk performers would be treated any differently in the commercial music and show business than any other commodity. That's why it makes sense to keep the two approaches separate. A trad folksinger will find it corrupting to be a part of the music machine. The purpose of "the machine" is to make money with music as a commodity. There is nothing inherently bad or evil about this.
It's just a different driven agenda.

Academia, on the other hand, can be "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing".
There is a lot of fakelore out there by so-called reputable folklorist academics.

If we allow that there is a "tradition" in folk music, we can wade through the inconsistencies, agendas and attitudes about it and learn to appreciate it.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 03:03 PM

Indeed, Frank - good comparison. Stephen Potter advised in 'Lifemanship' [I think it was] that if you are ever fortunate enough to meet anyone who actually sez "I don't know anything about Art but I know what I like", you should reply in a plonking tone "If you don't know anything about Art, you DON"T know what you like". Mutatis-mutandis, a similar response might be made to the "If I sing it it's folk" claim.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 08:10 PM

"wherever two or more are gathered, so am I there with you." Sounds like community to me."
Sorry - just sounds like three people to me (or just two, if you are a non-believer). The idea that two people can produce a folksong between them just doesn't work for me. If Beethoven and Mozart had been able to sit down and write music together, would it have been folk music? Gilbert and Sullivan, Rogers and Hammerstien, Lennon and McCartney, Brecht and Weill........? I don't think so somehow.
Our experience of the tradition suggests a far wider one than the single community anyway.
Our sea songs come from many ships of many nations and cultures, a major part of their make-up being the passing on thoughout the whole maritime world (see Hugill's Shanties of the Seven Seas). Bothie songs evolved not from one bothie, but many. Soldier's songs, the rural repertoire, the early industrial songs were all formed, not from one community, but many.
It is the passing on of those songs from community to community that fascinated me particularly and the changes that take place during that process.   
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: John P
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 09:59 PM

Just catching up on this thread after being away for a few days.

Suibhne O'Piobaireachd, you started this thread by asking a bunch of questions that make certain assumptions that many of us have never encountered before. Jim Carroll and I both asked you to explain why you hold these assumptions. You never answered. It seems to me that this whole thread is based on unfounded assumptions. Would you care to explain yourself?

Lizzie Cornish 1, you made some extremely negative remarks. Most of them reveal more about your inner emotional state than they do about this or any other discussion on this topic we've ever had here. Please tell us why you said these things:

The Tradition has been invented and then encircled by those who love to control and exclude.

Can you cite any examples of anyone on this thread who have in any way attempted to control anything. Yes, there is some attempt to exclude -- traditional music doesn't include newly composed music. Why does that upset you so?

The first singer songwriter was probably a ploughboy....yet singer songwriters are now spoken of with derision . . .

All I see you saying here is that you don't know what the folk process is and don't care. That's fine, but some us do know what it is and we do care. Why does that upset you so?

Long life to those who just sing songs because they love 'em and don't have rules and regulations to what, when, where, or how they sing 'em, whilst having no radar around themselves to keep 'The Others' out...

Please cite any examples of that, or shut up.

Here's my take on it:
I am not a traditionalist. I am not a revivalist. Like every other musician I know, I play the music I like. 90% of my repertoire is traditional. Because that's the music I like. IT IS DIFFERENT THAN MODERN MUSIC. This doesn't mean that modern music is bad, or it shouldn't be sung, or that anyone should do anything musically other than what they want to do.

I have learned over the years about the folk process, and it is obvious that the attributes that I like about traditional music came about because this process. I also like finding different versions of the same songs from different times and places. It's fun to see how the melody changed over time, and how singers in other places and times changed the lyrics to suit their tastes. I once did a whole set of "Three Ravens" Two Ravens" "Twa Corbies" "Over the Mountain" etc.

Traditional music exists. It is a separate genre than other folk music. This doesn't mean I'm lost in the past, deadly scholarly, or exclusionary with my (or anyone else's) music making. It just means I like traditional music.

Why does that upset some people so?

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 02:35 AM

What's clear after two years of reading these threads is some people can only encounter others on their own terms. There is one answer (provided ad absurdum) it's the way, the truth and the light (to paraphrase someone else) and any opinion/ humour/ discussion outside that is an attack. It's a brittle, defensive approach to the subject and largely the reason it remains a minority within a minority, as intended.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 05:00 AM

traditional music doesn't include newly composed music.

From the shameful pomposity of your missive, John P, I gather you are one of the folky faithful, mistaking theoretical perspectives for the theological absolutes that not only underpin your self-righteous indignation, but the dusty shibboleths you trot out as though they were self-evident truths.

Here's a one for you: all music is born of tradition; all music is, therefore, traditional music, which is maybe why the stated aims of International Council For Traditional Music 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.

People are composing in traditional idioms the whole time; many traditional idioms the world over are founded on the tradition of new composition, be it Slavic epic ballads or in hundreds tunes written daily for the Northumbrian Smallpipes - a tradition which is strongly based on composition anyway. Newly composed traditional music happens all the time - be it written, recorded, computerised, spontaneous, improvised, feral, found, scored, or otherwise. In the end the only tradition that matters is the tradition of human beings singing and playing music irrespective of style, taste, or genre, of which folk is just one example - no different to any other, except in the minds of the faithful.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 05:27 AM

I see absolutely nothing 'pompous or shameful' about John P's contribution - only puzzlement over the "brittle, defensive approach" of several contributors to this thread and others like it!


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 06:14 AM

I see absolutely nothing 'pompous or shameful' about John P's contribution

Examples of John P's shameful pomposity:

Jim Carroll and I both asked you to explain why you hold these assumptions. You never answered. It seems to me that this whole thread is based on unfounded assumptions. Would you care to explain yourself?

Lizzie Cornish 1, you made some extremely negative remarks. Most of them reveal more about your inner emotional state than they do about this or any other discussion on this topic we've ever had here. Please tell us why you said these things:

Can you cite any examples of anyone on this thread who have in any way attempted to control anything. Yes, there is some attempt to exclude -- traditional music doesn't include newly composed music. Why does that upset you so?

All I see you saying here is that you don't know what the folk process is and don't care. That's fine, but some us do know what it is and we do care. Why does that upset you so?

Please cite any examples of that, or shut up.

Here's my take on it:
I am not a traditionalist. I am not a revivalist. Like every other musician I know, I play the music I like. 90% of my repertoire is traditional. Because that's the music I like. IT IS DIFFERENT THAN MODERN MUSIC. This doesn't mean that modern music is bad, or it shouldn't be sung, or that anyone should do anything musically other than what they want to do.

I have learned over the years about the folk process, and it is obvious that the attributes that I like about traditional music came about because this process. I also like finding different versions of the same songs from different times and places. It's fun to see how the melody changed over time, and how singers in other places and times changed the lyrics to suit their tastes. I once did a whole set of "Three Ravens" Two Ravens" "Twa Corbies" "Over the Mountain" etc.

Traditional music exists. It is a separate genre than other folk music. This doesn't mean I'm lost in the past, deadly scholarly, or exclusionary with my (or anyone else's) music making. It just means I like traditional music.

Why does that upset some people so?


I think that covers it, Shimrod - pretty much.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 07:40 AM

"only puzzlement over the "brittle, defensive approach" of several contributors to this thread and others like it!"


From your answer to my question on the "other" thread, you'd have to include yourself in that.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 07:42 AM

In Shimrod's book (and I suspect he actually has one, and a nice fountain pen and leather elbow pads) John P's response would count as a reasonable reply (no this is Shimrod - 'retort') to a 'wealth' of 'aggressive and ill-informed attacks' on blah, blah, blah.

Lifestyle stuffiness. Folk is just his chosen 'vehicle' to 'expound' the Mr Chips world he'd like to exist. Save us all from it.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 08:07 AM

"(and I suspect he actually has one, and a nice fountain pen and leather elbow pads) John P's response would count as a reasonable reply (no this is Shimrod - 'retort') to a 'wealth' of 'aggressive and ill-informed attacks' on blah, blah, blah.
Lifestyle stuffiness. Folk is just his chosen 'vehicle' to 'expound' the Mr Chips world he'd like to exist. Save us all from it."
"just what's the use when you can only respond with invective? "
Oh, sorry, I scanned down one of S'P's postings by maistake
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 08:10 AM

Oh 'glueman' you do talk such rubbish. I don't take offence though because, as was said about Geoffrey Howell, being savaged by you is like being savaged by a dead sheep.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 08:55 AM

Two days ago I posted a plaintive appeal for someone to tell me why this thread had got so boring. Dick gave me a convincing response. Then it got better for a bit, with all the ContentiousBrigade stopping slagging each other off for a few minutes...

Now [Y A W N·N·N] they are back at it again...

Ho-hum. Guess I'll just stop reading this thread. There's some nice green raspberries in the garden. Think I'll go out & watch them ripen - the time will pass over more cheerful & gay...


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 09:04 AM

Geoffrey Howell. He's a Whig isn't he? Have another Werther's Original.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: John P
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 09:08 AM

Suibhne O'Piobaireachd, Jim Carroll and I both asked you to explain why you hold these assumptions. You never answered. It seems to me that this whole thread is based on unfounded assumptions. Would you care to explain yourself?

Note to SO'P: Telling me my words are shameful isn't an answer. You actually have to say why you think the things you do, or at least why you continue to ask the questions you ask.

Oh, and please answer the other question:

Traditional music exists. It is a separate genre than other folk music. This doesn't mean I'm lost in the past, deadly scholarly, or exclusionary with my (or anyone else's) music making. It just means I like traditional music.

Why does that upset some people so?

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 09:33 AM

For the second time can we stop 'give me an example', 'please answer my question' and the rest of the adversarial nonsense. This is NOT a classroom, much as some would like to make it one, much less a court of law.
There is no post stronger than an opinion on this board, so let's not make with the right or wrong inquisition.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: John P
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 09:45 AM

SO'P wrote: People are composing in traditional idioms the whole time; many traditional idioms the world over are founded on the tradition of new composition, be it Slavic epic ballads or in hundreds tunes written daily for the Northumbrian Smallpipes - a tradition which is strongly based on composition anyway. Newly composed traditional music happens all the time - be it written, recorded, computerised, spontaneous, improvised, feral, found, scored, or otherwise.

I actually agree with this. I didn't spend the time to adequately nuance my answer, because that complicates the discussion so. But here's a bit more: Of course people who play traditional music also compose music, much of which will sound a lot like music that has passed through through the folk process. Of course some traditions are based on new compositions. I am one of those who don't really care -- if it sounds like a traditional song to me, then it rings that chime in me that traditional songs do. As I said, I'm really not a traditionalist.

In the end the only tradition that matters is the tradition of human beings singing and playing music irrespective of style, taste, or genre, of which folk is just one example - no different to any other, except in the minds of the faithful.

This is where you lose me. Yes, sitting around playing music with other people is one of the best things in the world, but that doesn't change the fact that traditional music (and newly composed music within a tradition) is a different genre than contemporary folk, and that many of us find it useful to be able to discuss it as such.

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: John P
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 09:59 AM

glueman, why do you take adversarial positions in discussions and then get huffy about being asked to explain? Yes, there are nothing but opinions here. Why do you put yours out there if you don't want to discuss them? If you aren't willing to cite some examples, why say something like:

Your use of canon to elevate ordinary songs into a quasi-religious setting is most interesting, there's a theme developing of folk filling the place religion used to occupy for enlightenment boffs.

or

Lifestyle stuffiness. Folk is just his chosen 'vehicle' to 'expound' the Mr Chips world he'd like to exist. Save us all from it

I thought we were having a discussion. If we're not, you're just being rude.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 10:17 AM

Why does that upset some people so?

Doesn't upset anyone, John P - least of all me - it's just more theological bullshit to wade through. As I say - all music is born of tradition, therefore all music is traditional. Sorry for not answering your earlier questions, but puerile stuff like Huh? Who purports anything about any tradition? doesn't inspire me to respond one way or the other.

Otherwise, Folk is not a music, it is a parasitic conceptual agenda looking for a music to attach itself too; that it chose the traditional music and song of the working class is largely because they couldn't answer back as their masters and betters took such an unprecedented interest in their culture and subjected it to the sort of taxonomical hysteria which typifies the folk enthusiast right up to our present time. It's an odd sort of legacy to be sure, but the parasitical agendas of The Folk Revival no more accounts for the traditional music and song of the English working-class than defining that class as The Proletariat accounts for their role in the fantasy class-struggle as postulated by Karl Marx.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 10:39 AM

"For the second time can we stop 'give me an example',"
Once again we are being told to take everything said by this couple
(significantly no more than that) on trust; one of whom persists in misquoting "If God didn't exist it would have been necessary to invent him", and insisting that those of us who disagree with him are mad.
The other, feigning hurt feelings, sulks in his tent like Achilles, refusing to answer questions his companion doesn't even want asked - to avoid them, I wonder.
"All music is born of tradition, therefore all music is traditional."
Oh dear, even the 'talking horse' merchants didn't take it this far!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 10:58 AM

"Would you care to explain yourself?"
"sulks in his tent like Achilles"

Is it any wonder a few of us find it hard to take these discussions seriously when they're cut and pasted from Michael Palin's Ripping Yarns?
Regular people don't listen to folk because they think it's full of belligerent old buggers who make it a kind of test. It isn't, it's a la carte music for anyone who can drop in a CD. Maybe it needs a community outreach programme with folkies allowed nowhere near the audience?


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 11:38 AM

Oh dear, even the 'talking horse' merchants didn't take it this far!

Ethnomusicologists would though, Jim; the ICTM likewise. Whilst I am passionate about Traditional English Speaking Folk Song, I don't believe it to be essentially any different from any other music. According the 1954 Definition, all music is Folk Music anyway; the only difference is one of stylistic convention; those of The Revival are different again. The Horse Definition trumps it by placing the onus for cultural creativity on the Folk - the human individuals who are all too easily forgotten about with all this talk of an abstract (and very conditional) community and even more abstract folk process, which are, I feel, illusions of a generality that in which the details (i.e. the individuals) of what we're actually dealing with here have been at best overlooked and, at worst, all too conveniently ignored.

The Tradition relates to the pre-revival condition of English Folk Song - before it was told what it was, before the taxonomy began which leads to the trainspotter mindset that typifies the revival enthusiast. I include myself in this; the difference being that I now believe the songs to be the product of a creative tradition of master vernacular craftsmanship with respect of song making, singing, carrying and subsequent transformation which spread throughout the English Speaking world. Such skill still exists in pockets, throwing up some fine songs in the idiom of the tradition, many of which I've sang in the faith of them being traditional until being informed otherwise. Bring Us a Barrel is a case in point, and several Ron Baxter songs in my repertoire have inspired the question When was that collected?

In one thing I hope we can all agree, that Traditional English Speaking Folk Song and Ballad represents the finest literature there is. How they got that way is another issue, but it was certainly no accident; they were made, written, printed, sang, passed on, perfected, re-made, modified, expanded, reduced, by people who knew what they were doing. That is The Tradition, the primary paradise of traditional folk song; a veritable dream-time in which we find them scampering in the new-mown meadows of what some of us still perceive as an agrarian utopia, before the advent of chemical fertilisers and mechanisation.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: John P
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 11:55 AM

If you are defining music from a process-based view, without talking at all about the actual musical forms, then lots (not all) music falls into the folk music definition. Rap, for instance, is more folky in some ways than most folk songs. However, when talking about musical genres, it makes a lot more sense to talk about what makes a genre separate from another genre. If you really think all music is folk music, that it's the playing it with others that makes it folk, why come to a folk music site? Also, why start discussions like this? Why bother calling it folk? Why not just call it music?

For my own purposes, I tend to define folk music by musical attributes rather than seeing it as part of a tradition or as an example of a process. But here's where the process comes in: traditional music is, by and large, music that has passed through a specific process or is music that sounds so much like the traditional stuff that it doesn't matter in the real world. Thus, rap is defined by largely non-melodic lyrics and a strong dance rhythm. For the purpose of any meaningful discussion of what we like, it's not folk music. Country music, broadly, is mostly two or three chord songs with relatively simplistic melodies. Singer-songwriter music is music that is composed by singer-songwriters. They all tend to sound different than each other, and different than traditional music.

That said, one of my favorite things is to find the similarities between different types of music and play to them. Given that I like traditional music the most, this usually happens with different traditions rather than different genres, but the idea is the same. There are strong similarities in my mind between medieval music, French traditional music, and the blues. I think traditional folk mixes with rock music better than with jazz because rock music and traditional music both tend to sound good with diatonic scales and open (no 3rds) chords. Jazz usually has more chromaticism and more complex chords and chord structures, making it more of a stretch to play folk music in a jazz style.

A definition based on musical style is easier to deal with if we are talking about what we like to listen to and play. Rap as folk music might be interesting to an academic as an academic question, but for a musician and a consumer of music it really has very little value.

Are you really saying you can't hear the difference between traditional music and non-traditional music?


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 12:02 PM

"Of course some traditions are based on new compositions. I am one of those who don't really care -- if it sounds like a traditional song to me, then it rings that chime in me that traditional songs do."

"I now believe the songs to be the product of a creative tradition of master vernacular craftsmanship with respect of song making, singing, carrying and subsequent transformation which spread throughout the English Speaking world. Such skill still exists in pockets, throwing up some fine songs in the idiom of the tradition, many of which I've sang in the faith of them being traditional until being informed otherwise."

Hooray! I think I can see light at the end of the tunnel. But why do I have a nasty feeling that it's a train approaching?


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