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What is The Tradition?

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John P 14 Sep 09 - 12:07 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Sep 09 - 12:11 PM
Goose Gander 14 Sep 09 - 12:14 PM
Jack Blandiver 14 Sep 09 - 12:36 PM
Jack Blandiver 14 Sep 09 - 12:53 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Sep 09 - 12:55 PM
The Sandman 14 Sep 09 - 12:57 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 14 Sep 09 - 01:23 PM
Goose Gander 14 Sep 09 - 01:27 PM
longboat (inactive) 14 Sep 09 - 01:28 PM
Jack Blandiver 14 Sep 09 - 01:33 PM
Jack Blandiver 14 Sep 09 - 01:36 PM
glueman 14 Sep 09 - 01:37 PM
Goose Gander 14 Sep 09 - 02:06 PM
theleveller 14 Sep 09 - 02:41 PM
Jack Blandiver 14 Sep 09 - 03:13 PM
Goose Gander 14 Sep 09 - 03:39 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Sep 09 - 04:33 PM
Jack Blandiver 14 Sep 09 - 05:35 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Sep 09 - 08:20 PM
sing4peace 14 Sep 09 - 09:26 PM
John P 14 Sep 09 - 09:35 PM
Jack Blandiver 15 Sep 09 - 06:06 AM
John P 15 Sep 09 - 09:10 AM
John P 15 Sep 09 - 09:26 AM
M.Ted 15 Sep 09 - 10:08 AM
Jack Blandiver 15 Sep 09 - 01:50 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Sep 09 - 05:00 PM
curmudgeon 15 Sep 09 - 05:41 PM
Spleen Cringe 15 Sep 09 - 06:16 PM
Jack Blandiver 15 Sep 09 - 06:22 PM
Goose Gander 15 Sep 09 - 06:27 PM
Phil Edwards 15 Sep 09 - 06:56 PM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 16 Sep 09 - 02:34 AM
glueman 16 Sep 09 - 03:18 AM
Richard Spencer 16 Sep 09 - 03:26 AM
glueman 16 Sep 09 - 03:44 AM
glueman 16 Sep 09 - 04:00 AM
Jack Blandiver 16 Sep 09 - 06:05 AM
The Sandman 16 Sep 09 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 16 Sep 09 - 10:31 AM
Sailor Ron 16 Sep 09 - 11:44 AM
longboat (inactive) 16 Sep 09 - 12:15 PM
John P 16 Sep 09 - 12:35 PM
Goose Gander 16 Sep 09 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 16 Sep 09 - 01:27 PM
Jack Blandiver 16 Sep 09 - 02:52 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Sep 09 - 06:39 PM
Spleen Cringe 16 Sep 09 - 06:51 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Sep 09 - 07:55 PM
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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: John P
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 12:07 PM

glueman, I agree that regular people don't listen to music because of some academic sense of what folk music is. They don't even listen to it because, as you so rudely say, it's full of belligerent old buggers who make it a kind of test. You keep saying things like this, and your comments are not supported by any real world facts. This is the whole point: people listen to and play what they like. No one I know applies any kind of test to any piece of music they are thinking about playing other than the test of whether or not they like it.

I'm sorry if I feel inquisitorial to you, but if you are going to say that people are applying some kind of traditional test to music before they decide to play it or listen to it, I'm going to call you on it. If you can't support your statements with any evidence, you should stop making them, especially since your mode of conversation is to say things about others in such negative terms.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 12:11 PM

"In one thing I hope we can all agree, that Traditional English Speaking Folk Song and Ballad represents the finest literature there is"
If, as you put it a post or so ago, "All music is born of tradition, therefore all music is traditional", how does Strangers in the Night differ in definition from Lord Gregory, Tifties Annie or all the other "Traditional English Speaking Folk Song and Ballad"?
Jim Carroll


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

". . .all music is born of tradition, therefore all music is traditional . . ."

First you told us that 'Folk Music is Music that Happens in Folk Clubs' (your "Designated Folk Context" tautology). Now we find that all music is traditional. Could you possibly be any more vague?

"According the 1954 Definition, all music is Folk Music"

Not even close. 'John Henry' is a folk song, specifically a African-American folk song, according to the 1954 definition. 'Do You Think I'm Sexy' by Rod Stewart isn't.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 12:36 PM

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?

Traditional English Language Folk Song & Balladry is my particular bag as it has been now for 35 years or so. And folk is not just a matter of people playing together; all music is about people playing together, or playing as part of a community, within a tradition.

Also, why start discussions like this?

Because it's an on-line social networking site and it's fun to natter by way of prevarication with respect of what I should be doing.

Why bother calling it folk? Why not just call it music?

It's not so much a matter of what you call it, it's more a matter of why. Folk can be a matter of marketing; Folk can be what happens in the name of Folk at your local Folk Club or Festival, in which case pretty much anything goes; Folk can be a matter of context; and to a few here Folk means an orthodox reading of the 1954 Definition and the attendant religiosity, folk process and all. As I say, Traditional English Language Folk Song & Balladry is my bag, but I don't believe that to be the whole of the case for this thing we call Folk Music.

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

What I'm saying is that all music is traditional music by default; the differences are a matter of style and aesthetic convention within a particular tradition and its cultural framework - be it hip-hop, drum & bass, Elizabethan consort music, Ars Nova, ragas, gamelan, flamenco, serialism, piobaireachd, heavy metal, or whatever. I also feel that a non-orthodox reading of the 1954 Definition can be applied to all these musics and the only thing that makes any given Folk Music any different from, say, Kraut Rock is one of stylistic convention.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 12:53 PM

If, as you put it a post or so ago, "All music is born of tradition, therefore all music is traditional", how does Strangers in the Night differ in definition from Lord Gregory, Tifties Annie or all the other "Traditional English Speaking Folk Song and Ballad"?

The devil's in the details, old man! They're all consequences of stylistic conventions within particular traditions of song making, just those stylistic conventions are different, being determined by different expectations, cultures and eras. As with Tiftie's Annie, Strangers in the Night didn't write itself, it drew on a genre, a tradition of idiomatic popular songwriting which grew out of some other thing, and thus was subject to very definite creative processes in the throes of nascence - processes which it is still being subject to, sung as it is by singers great and small all over the earth and long may it continue to be so.

your "Designated Folk Context" tautology

Tautology, Michael???


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 12:55 PM

Try again:
"In one thing I hope we can all agree, that Traditional English Speaking Folk Song and Ballad represents the finest literature there is"
If, as you put it a post or so ago, "All music is born of tradition, therefore all music is traditional", how does Strangers in the Night differ in definition from Lord Gregory, Tifties Annie or all the other "Traditional English Speaking Folk Song and Ballad"?
If, as you just said "all music is traditional music by default", would you include Strangers in the Night, referred to by many as a ballad, certainly in the English language, and a folk song if performed in one of your 'folk contexts' according to you, in your fulsome praise of ballads?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 12:57 PM

absolutely correct,stylistic convention,is exactly what defines it,but it is not the only component.
but the folk process also plays a part sometimes,but just because something is processed it doesnt make it a folk song,because style of melody and lyrics are a consideration in determining what is a folk song as well.
we define JAZZ by style or a mixture of styles and by the fact the music is about improvisation.
international folk music includes many different scales and styles,but it all has something that tin pan alley does not,and it is not just aboutthe music being processed.
lily the pink, will never be a folk song even if a few of its words get altered,however Masters OF War ,is a folk song without one word of it needing to be altered OR PROCESSED.[itsabout style and content]
never mind what BobDylan says[he nmay be right me may not be a folk singer]but his song is a FOLK SONG.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 01:23 PM

"There is no post stronger than an opinion on this board, so let's not make with the right or wrong inquisition."

I beg to differ!! There are opinions on this board based on facts, evidence and many years of observation.

There are also opinions based on nothing more than wish-fulfilment and whimsy.

There is an enormous difference between these two types. I think that to subject the latter type to intense scrutiny is perfectly valid - no matter how much the holders of such opinions fling around insults and accusations of moral turpitude.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 01:27 PM

Yes, your argument that 'folk music is what happens in folk clubs' is a tautology.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: longboat (inactive)
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 01:28 PM

subject both types to intense scrutiny. Memory can be a tricky thing, there is a line between what actually was and what we remember it as. (wish fulfilment?)


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 01:33 PM

If, as you just said "all music is traditional music by default", would you include Strangers in the Night, referred to by many as a ballad, certainly in the English language, and a folk song if performed in one of your 'folk contexts' according to you, in your fulsome praise of ballads?

You seem to be having some difficulty getting your head around this, old man. Paint fumes in confined spaces perhaps? Strangers in the Night is not what I'd include in any catalogue of Traditional English Speaking Folk Songs because whilst it is, indeed, born of a tradition, it is born out of a very different tradition than that which gave us such evergreen classics as Tiftie's Annie et al. However, SINT can be sung as a Folk Song in a Designated Folk Context, and has more meaning to the Folk of 14-9-09 than MOTA. Like the word Folk, the word ballad also carries various levels of meaning.

Whilst we might agree that SINT and MOTA are very different types of song stylistically, problems might arise with either of us accounting for why they are different. To me they are different as an old handmade farm cart, circa 1820, is from a motorcar, circa 1965. They are the products of very different cultures, very different technologies, very different traditions indeed, whereby one is wrought uniquely, the other determined by considerations of mass production. Both are the result of the same human creative and engineering genius; both will be someone's pride and joy; both will bring tears to someone's eyes.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 01:36 PM

SINT should be SITN.

And Folk Music is what Happens in Folk Contexts is more of a truism than a tautology, however so hotly debated!

Night, night!


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 01:37 PM

"moral turpitude"

Can you clean brushes in that stuff? Have another Werther's Original and remember 'Geoffrey Howell' or Mrs Dales Diary or whatever passes for entertainment in Chez Shimmy.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 02:06 PM

"And Folk Music is what Happens in Folk Contexts is more of a truism than a tautology, however so hotly debated!"

Either way, it tells us nothing about folk music, in England or anywhere else. It's about as useful a definition as 'Jazz is what happens in Jazz Clubs' or any similar linguistic construction.

"Traditional English Speaking Folk Songs"

Taking your argument at face value, I really can't say I know what you mean by this. If 'all music is traditional' and all music is folk music when played in a "Designated Folk Context, then anyone playing music at a folk club in England, with lyrics in the English language, is playing 'Traditional English Speaking Folk Songs' . . . right? Or do you have something more specific in mind when you speak of "Traditional English Speaking Folk Songs"?


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 02:41 PM

"There are opinions on this board based on facts, evidence and many years of observation.

There are also opinions based on nothing more than wish-fulfilment and whimsy"

As any historian will tell you, the facts may stay the same, but the difference in interpretation is what causes the arguments. As for the facts and evidence in this discussion, there doesn't seem to be too many around that are incontrovertible.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 03:13 PM

Or do you have something more specific in mind when you speak of "Traditional English Speaking Folk Songs"?

Oh yes. See below, 1.33pm Mudcat time.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 03:39 PM

Just re-read your 1:33 pm post . . . can't say it really tells me what you mean by "Traditional English Speaking Folk Songs" - other than that I now know you do not regard 'Strangers in the Night' as a TESFS.

If you use a phrase like "Traditional English Speaking Folk Song" and intend this to have a specific meaning, then perhaps you are making a mistake in insisting that "all music is traditional" and that "Folk Music is what Happens in Folk Contexts" . . . just a thought.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 04:33 PM

"Paint fumes in confined spaces perhaps?"
Methinks I hear the clatter of hooves of a chancer attempting to bullshit and bluster his way out of a hole of his own digging
Can I get this straight - paint fumes aside.
Strangers in the night (as everything else from this particular stable never explained, defined, elucidated on... whatever,) performed 'in a folk context' transforms miraculously from a middle-of-the-road pop song from the 1960s to a folk ballad - have I got that right (or is it a middle-of-the-road-1960's pop-song-folk-ballad)?
It has been long accepted, reiterated endlessly (and sensibly), and researched and documented (right up to this present moment) that 'tradition' is the process a song undergoes in order to arrive at a certain form and function; 'folk' is an indication of the people and communities who put it through that process - where does your 'Strangers in the Night' fit in with all this and again, where can we go for a documented form of your re-definition?
For some reason best known to yourself you have manipulated and twisted the language to prove that folk music and tradition does not exist and is the figment of the massed imaginations of people who are "agenda driven and sloppy, thus, with one flick of the typing finger, you have removed all the Walter Pardons, Sam Larners, Ceclia Costellos, Phil Tanners, Harry Coxs, Elizabeth Cronins, Joe Heaneys........ to - where, compared to, say Frank Sinatra, (or Amy Winehouse, or Maria Callas?
I asked before where these source singers stand in your estimation in relation to folk and the tradition - do they stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Frank Sinatra, who undoubtably gave most of us SITN, as fellow traditional singers? As you appear to be in a more chatty frame of mind, perhaps you wouldn't mind answering now?
And by the way:
"Ethnomusicologists would though, Jim"
OH NO THEY BLOODY WELL WOULDN'T
Ethnomusicology isn't my strong point but the few books we have on our shelves do not come anywhere near your flights of fancy - the title of Willard Trasks 2 volume 'The Unwitten Song' sums up their subject matter perfectly, as does 'Oral Poetry' by Ruth Finnegan). I would recommend Jan Vansina's 'Oral Tradition' as being the most concise and readable works on the subject - but, as you have rejected any form of research I'd be wasting my time.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 05:35 PM

'tradition' is the process a song undergoes in order to arrive at a certain form and function

A tradition is also the genre which determines the form and function of a song - any song.   

'folk' is an indication of the people and communities who put it through that process

All songs are processed by people and communities.

- where does your 'Strangers in the Night' fit in with all this and again, where can we go for a documented form of your re-definition?

It underwent a process in order to arrive at a certain form and function and there is an indication that a community put it through that process.

thus, with one flick of the typing finger, you have removed all the Walter Pardons, Sam Larners, Ceclia Costellos, Phil Tanners, Harry Coxs, Elizabeth Cronins, Joe Heaneys........ to - where, compared to, say Frank Sinatra, (or Amy Winehouse, or Maria Callas?

I dig them all actually, and more besides, though I'm not so convinced by Amy Winehouse's singular retro. My favourite singer of all time is Davie Stewart, and I'd say Frank Sinatra is possessed of a comparable idiosyncrasy.

OH NO THEY BLOODY WELL WOULDN'T

How do you account for aims of the ICTM? I've (personally) known Ethnomusicologists doing studies of musics as disparately exotic as Barbour Shop Quartets, Karaoke, and the George Formby Society.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 08:20 PM

"I dig them all actually"
No answer there then - my question was "where do these source singers stand in your estimation in relation to folk and the tradition -
was Frank Sinatra a traditional singer - as was WALTER PARDON, HARRY COX - oh - and DAVIE STEWART or aren't they traditional singers?
Are these just your views - where can we go to compare your views with those of others of your frame of mind, or don't they approve of research either?
I have no views on the aims of the ICTM; I would like to see their work in full before I reached an opinion - why, have they come up with a new definition - if so, what is it - and if they have, does it include "24 Hours to Tulsa, Leader of the Pack, 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".?
Do your ethnomusicologist friends publish the results of their work - can we all have a look?
The Oxford English dictonary gives ethnomusicology as "the study of one or more (especially non-European) cultures; doesn't claim to concentrate on one particular type, though the published examples seem to seem to be made up exclusively of (non-existant!!!!!) traditional folk cultures.
What are your views on the work of the English Folk Dance And Song Society, The Irish Traditional Music Archive, The Folklore Society of Ireland, The School of Scottish Studies, The American Folklore Society, The Ballad Conference, The Traditional Song Forum, Comhaltas, Steve Roud's folksong and broadside index...... and all the other individuals and organisations throughout the world that still work to the existing definition?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: sing4peace
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 09:26 PM

I love to hear singers who know their stuff, love their stuff, know where it came from and why it is there.

In Australia, "the Tradition" of the aboriginal people requires that you answer the periodic call to line up in what are called song lines. These song lines are determined by two factors, one - where your mother was when she first felt your quickening inside of her and two - where you were born. The shaman comes along and determines which song lines you belong to. There are two of them. In their culture, those lines go back to the very beginning of time.

The song never varies.

The people of each line are taught their part of the song from childhood. When the lines are called to gather, you are expected to sing your part perfectly at the exact time and exact place - or else you'll be killed. On the spot.

There is no tolerance for interpretation - getting it right means everything.

Each culture has what it calls "the Tradition". Not to detract from any of the deeply felt attachment and commitment that some posters here have to perpetuating their own "traditions".

I have respect for those who are dedicated to the preservation of traditions. For me, the rigid definition of "the Tradition" being claimed only for those who are from the UK, Ireland, Scotland, the colonies, etc. is symptomatic of ethnocentrism. Not ethnic pride - that's a different thing altogether.



Joyce K.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: John P
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 09:35 PM

Oh, I get it now. You are applying the word "tradition" in its most broad meaning to the phrase "traditional folk music", which uses the word "tradition" in a very specific sense. That doesn't work for having a discussion about a topic. If we take every word that gets used specifically in a musical context and replace it with the same word, but using a definition from a different context, we can have all sorts of fun.

Minor chords are less important than major chords.

The scale of a song determines its size.

A flat chord won't go anywhere unless you change it, and a sharp chord can cut you.

A semi-quaver is only partially trembling.

And, as we know, some of the old collectors got it wrong; they didn't copyright.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 06:06 AM

where do these source singers stand in your estimation in relation to folk and the tradition

I have little by way of estimation of Folk and The Tradition as both are nebulous constructs that have no clear objective currency outside of a parasitical psuedo-science which has nothing to do with the singers and the songs other than to see them as objects for the taxonomical hysteria that typifies the fundamentalism thereof. These people didn't even know they were doing folk until the revival came along and told them so. The Revival has failed them by consigning them to a dark and deliberate obscurity presided over by lifeless dead-weights who wouldn't know the sun was up unless they'd read about it the EFDSS journal. Lifeless formality is no substitute for living culture; all we have left of them is ghosts, but elsewhere the heart and the soul of the thing lives on!

- was Frank Sinatra a traditional singer - as was WALTER PARDON, HARRY COX - oh - and DAVIE STEWART or aren't they traditional singers?

All singers are traditional singers; all music is part of a tradition and all songs are traditional songs with respect of their particular idiom, culture and genre. Furthermore - all human beings have language, culture, and cognition; and having these it follows they all have folklore, folk music and folk tales. All human beings have ceremonies, beliefs, customs, hopes, fears, a need for sexual intercourse and are invariably possessed of a dread fear of death that underlies most of the foregoing. They will eat food, they will digest it and shit it out; quite a few of them will feel compelled to paint a bathroom at some time in their lives. Nice that we have that much in common anyway, old man!

Otherwise - unfortunately, I never saw Davie Stewart or Frank Sinatra perform live; for me they exist on vinyl and latterly CD. Horses for courses I'd say; both are idiosyncratic masters of their respective traditions; just as both are celebrity constructs of a media driven opportunism and both milked it accordingly. I love the delicious irony that has Davie Stewart busking the queue to one of his Cecil Sharp House shows. No doubt you'll tell me it's apocryphal, but this is how Davie made a living - busking crowds. I love the sound Davie Stewart made; the raw abrasions of a sincere noise-aesthetic replete with seemingly random chord voicings as far out as any dreamed of by Sun Ra and a complete anathema to the middle-class, middle-aged, middle-of-the-road whimperings of The Revival. And as much as I love the playing Seamus Ennis, I'd rather listen to Felix Doran whose playing is as idiosyncratically intimate yet as traditionally universal as Albert Ayler.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: John P
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 09:10 AM

I have little by way of estimation of Folk and The Tradition as both are nebulous constructs that have no clear objective currency outside of a parasitical psuedo-science which has nothing to do with the singers and the songs other than to see them as objects for the taxonomical hysteria that typifies the fundamentalism thereof.

Oddly, I've been playing traditional folk music (and you DO know what I mean by that, even if you pretend otherwise), for about 30 years and I don't find traditional music to be in any way a nebulous construct. It has very clear, objective currency in my life. Nor do I feel at all hysterical when I try to define what it is that I do. I don't give a rat's ass what some academic wants to call it in the academic world. I do give a bit of a rat's ass what you want to call it, since you are in the real world and are consciously trying to change the meaning of the words that describe what I do.

There are folks in this discussion who do qualify as academics in the study of traditional folk music. Are you sure you want to tell them they are practicing a parasitical pseudo-science? Especially coming from a place, as you are, where you start long debates trying to convince people that words with established meanings actually mean something else? That is even worse than pseudo-science. It appears to be pseudo-thought. Or maybe just sophomoric pun-making with words that are spelled the same but have different meanings. That can be fun, but is a waste of time in any serious conversation.

all music is part of a tradition and all songs are traditional songs with respect of their particular idiom

Yes, yes, we know what you mean. It doesn't indicate a clear concept of how to communicate using the English language, but we do get what you're saying. EVERYTHING has some sort of tradition -- weavers, masons, and presidents all have traditions. Families acquire traditions. When the word "tradition" is used in the context of talking about folk music, it has a very specific meaning that is not the same as the general definition. "Traditional folk music" doesn't mean the same thing as "there's a long tradition of using a Stratocaster for electric blues" or "we have a family tradition of going to Phoenix every January".

Having finally given up using the word "folk" to describe music that gets handed down over the generations, we are now being asked to also give up "traditional". What's your suggestion for a replacement? Or do we all just play "music"? I can't see that working very well when someone says, "what kind of music do you play?" and I say, "music". "But what kind of music?" they say . . . What comes next in your world of all-pervasive tradition?

Another problem, of course, is when I want to go hear some music. If someone is advertising themselves as folk and I show up at a rap show I'll be angry. "According to the 1954 definition", they say. "rap is folk music. Suibhne O'Piobaireachd said so!"

My biggest question for you is: Why?


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: John P
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 09:26 AM

Joyce,
Yes, we've been practicing ethno-centrism in this discussion. Someone early in this thread said they were discussing it in terms of English folk song, and we've all gone along with that. It is an idiom that most of us are deeply familiar with, so it makes conversation possible without needing to supply a constant barrage of qualifiers.

I hope most of us know that there are traditions that rely on NOT changing the music, just as there are traditions that rely on new music and traditions that rely on improvisation. I think the general point is that there is such a thing as traditional music, and it has some very specific attributes, even if those attributes are different from one tradition to the next.

The problem is that Suibhne O'Piobaireachd is apparently saying that all music is traditional music. The rest of us think that dilutes the concept of traditional music beyond the point of usefulness. He would have us think that the phrase "aboriginal traditional music" uses the word "traditional" in the same way as the sentence "The British Invasion bands of the 60s traditionally used two guitars, bass, and drums."


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: M.Ted
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 10:08 AM

I'd be real curious to see how SO'P does in one of those song-lines that Joyce described.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 01:50 PM

I'd be real curious to see how SO'P does in one of those song-lines that Joyce described.

You know, I think I'd rather be killed on the spot than live compliant to such an absolutist cultural regime. That has to be one of the most barbaric things I've ever read on this forum.

"Traditional folk music" doesn't mean the same thing as "there's a long tradition of using a Stratocaster for electric blues" or "we have a family tradition of going to Phoenix every January".

Agreed. The 2nd & 3rd examples are describing tradition in an actual living folkloric sense; the 1st example on the other hand invariably uses the word in its ersatz revival sense, where what is called traditional is actually a modern construct in terms of its contrivance and attendant assumptions.

The problem is that Suibhne O'Piobaireachd is apparently saying that all music is traditional music.

I'm just going on what the ITCM say about in their stated aims, which makes a lot of sense to me with respect of the breadth of this thing we call music which I have quite a passion for. I grew up listening to popular music of most idioms, medieval music, experimetal music, classical music, unpopular music of most idioms, free jazz, revival folk, ethnomusicological field recordings from the world over (with a particular fondness for Africa, Indonesia, Eastern Europe and the British Isles). I still listen to that now and consequently I think it's folly to assume some musics are more traditional than others, though as pointed out above I think a fair case can be made for certain musics being less traditional than they might think they are - revival folk being a case in point, which is presumably what JP means by Traditional Folk Music.

"But what kind of music?" they say . . . What comes next in your world of all-pervasive tradition?

What I generally say is that I play Indo-European No-Age Sounds, which is a sort of experimental popular creative music that opens its heart to hip-hop, diverse ethnic musics & song, free improv, ambient, drum and bass, free-jazz, and more besides. If they want to know more I just whip out my kemence and electronic shruti box and sing them a verse or two of Butter and Cheese and All with a few freely improvised interludes, or else I take them down the beach for my legendary rendering of John Cage's 4'33" in which I draw a Cretan Labyrinth in the sand & stand poised at its centre with a Hungarian doromb - but don't actually play it. Just as long as they're listening, that's all that matters.

As Frank Zappa once said:

Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music.
Music is THE BEST.


As Duke Ellington once said:

There are only two types of music in the world - Good Music and Bad Music.

As Louis Armstrong once said:

All music folk music - I ain't never heard no horse sing a song

As Sun Ra once said:

Music is a universal language - and it goes straight to throne of the Creator of the Universe as your personal ambassador and personal nemesis. That's now he knows you - according to your music


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 05:00 PM

"All singers are traditional singers; all music is part of a tradition and all songs are traditional songs with respect of their particular idiom, culture and genre"
I think that in the context of several threads debating the validity of folklore and oral traditions this must be the most mealy-mouthed piece of bullshit I have ever come across.
After a desperate attempt to place all music under the 'folk' umbrella and disprove the uniqueness of what we (or most of us) understand as 'folk' on a forum concerning itself with ' folk music', we are now left with this world-shattering statement.
Over these threads we have been told that folklore, tradition, folk process……, all the things that have gone into preserving the songs that have given us much pleasure are – what – the imaginings of a group of "agenda driven, sloppy" researchers and collectors. And how have these conclusions been reached? Certainly not by research – the pair making these accusations haven't even had the courtesy to examine the work they are junking "research – sorry, don't go there", from both of them. And on the basis of these armchair musings we are supposed to walk away from everything we might have picked up during the years we have been involved with folk music.
None of the claims of the non-existence of folk or tradition have been backed up with evidence – we've had several appeals not to ask for it "as there's too much of it to make that possible." So everything we've given is, as far as I'm concerned, agenda driven by two people who haven't even bothered to do any research, sloppy or otherwise.
I was particularly amused by the facile comparison of recording and documenting folk songs with collecting Clarice Cliff pottery. In the unlikely case of my feeling hurt that collectors are undervalued or unwanted I can always take comfort in the fact that any folkie who has ever put his or her mouth around a traditional song, whether they make a magnificent sean nós job of it or settle for being a failed pop-singer taking refuge in the folk revival, has been the beneficiary of the work of a collector.
Arguments like this one always leave me with a dirty taste in my mouth, not so much on behalf of the centuries of collectors and researchers; their work speaks for itself; it's given me a forty-odd years worth of pleasure and preoccupation anyway.
Rather, it leaves me to wonder, in the unlikely event of any of this being taken seriously, where does it leave our traditional singers; what is their role in non-existent traditions, folksong, oral transmission – are they only song repeaters; have they had no part in the making of the songs? And where does it leave the working people, farmers, fishermen, weavers, miners….. who I have always believed made, preserved, adapted and passed on this music, song and story which is such a vital part of our culture – were they/we really cultureless and non-creative as I was told by my 'elders and betters' when I was a secondary modern scholar? Were Sam Larner, Phil Tanner.... et al, really just passive recipients and passers-on, no different than I was with all those crappy pop songs I was hooked on as a teenager? If this is the case, I would need some proof - a commodity in extremely short supply here, as evidenced by the plaintive plea "For the second time can we stop 'give me an example'."
I believe there to be no question whatever of the existence of an oral tradition folk music which originated from and reflected the aspirations, experiences and beliefs of communities (real communities – not a couple of fellers in a pub pontificating over a pint). This belief is based on what I have read, what I have seen in action and shher common sense.
It's hard not to notice that my Barbara Allen, Unfortunate Rake, Blind Beggar examples of songs which have survived for centuries and have been adapted and re-made over and over again - if not by an oral tradition, by what? I've quoted Mikeen McCarthy's selling 'the ballads' and hearing them sung back at him totally changed – if not by an oral tradition, by what? There are plenty more examples where they came from,
Like the two farming brothers, Austin and Michael Flanagan, from North Clare, who, when Travellers came into the area, would throw down their haymaking tools and go off and join them "to learn the songs and stories". Or Mikeen again, describing how the songs and stories were exchanged between his family (Kerry) and Galway, or Cork, or Waterford….. Travellers so that when they came down to us they were exclusively Mikeen's Kerry stories and songs.
Or then, from MacColl, how he was told of Scots tent-dwelling Travellers pitching their close to each other so they could sing or tell stories to each other through the canvas.
This pair have not once (apart from a piece of mealy mouthed lip-service - "I like Davie Stewart), expressed any appreciation of the role of the tradition bearers who gave us our raw material.
This sort of discussion always leaves a dirty taste in my mouth. Anybody who has ever tried to get support for research into (or even performance of) folk music knows what a blank wall they are up against from the arts establishment and the media in these islands. It's bad enough fighting the establishment to get your work circulated without having to fight your own.
Oh dear, I see we've finally descended to the old Armstrong (also attributed to Broonzy) 'talking horse' chestnut being offered as 'proof' (not forgetting Frank Zappa and Sun Ra – BOTTOM OF THE BARREL TIME, FOLKS.

At the risk of making this already far too long posting even longer, I'll put in a tiny part of an interview we carried out with Kerry Traveller Mikeen McCarthy describing a childhood memory of his father telling stories and singing songs to an audience of villagers when the family was stopped at a crossroads some time in the late thirties.
If this has been too long, please take comfort from the fact that it will be my last posting of the subject unless somebody brings up something new worth considering.
NOW WHERE'S THAT LISTERINE?
Jim Carroll

"M Mc   Oh yeah, always sing.    And a group'd get together then, we'd have an open fire outside that time.    He was very well known. A group of farmers'd always come around then, young lads, we'll say, teenagers, they'd all come round to the fire 'cause there was no televisions that time, no wirelesses, things like that.   
All down then, it often happened they'd bring their own bag of turf with them. Around seven or eight O' clock in the evening and they'd know the time the supper'd be over and all this.    You'd see a couple of cigarettes lighting at the cross and you'd know they'd start to gather then, 'twould be like a dance hall.   
We'd be all tucked into bed but we wouldn't be asleep, we'd be peeping out through keyholes and listening out through the side of the canvas, we'd be stuck everywhere, and he'd know it you know.   
And the fire'd go on. One of the lads'd come up for the light of a cigarette or something, he'd be already after topping the cigarette, 'twas just an excuse, "could I have a light out of the fire Mick", they'd say to my father.
Sure, my father'd know, he'd know what he'd be up to, of course and he'd say, "'Tisn't for the light of a fire you came up at all now, 'tisn't for the light of a cigarette you came up for now" and he'd start to laugh.   
And bejay, another feller'd come and he'd say it again, "bejay, before I know where I am there'd be ten of you there".   
And bejay, the word wouldn't be out of his mouth and they would be coming up along, coming up along, and the next thing one feller'd shout to the other, "can't you go down and bring up a bag of turf, and before you'd know where you are there'd be a roaring fire, 'twould band a wheel for you.   
So 'tis there you'd hear the stories then and the songs, all night, maybe till one o'clock in the morning.   And the kettle... the tea'd go on then, there'd be a round of tea and....   That's the way it'd go on.
We were off ceilidhing then, they'd invite him off to a house, he'd always bring one or two of us with him.   Same thing'd go on at the house then, that's where he learned all those great stories and great songs from, I suppose, ceilidhing from house to house, different counties, different stories, different songs. "


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: curmudgeon
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 05:41 PM

Beautifully spoken, Jim. I have learned a lot from you and others on this thread and so many similar ones. But why is it that in nearly every instance the "Twa Trolls" have to crawl out from beneath their bridge to foul the waters of discourse and experience?

I've been on Mudcat for a long time now, and have rarely seen such egotistical bile spewed even on the most contentious BS threads.

Thanks again, Jim, Brian, MtheGM, Lox, leveller, shimrod, and all others of good will - Tom Hall


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 06:16 PM

Curmudgeon, disagreeing with someone's views doesn't constitute "bile" or make one a "troll". Also Gluey and Sweeney are not some double act - they've clearly, from their posts, got totally different perspectives. They are only lumped together in the minds of those who take an absolutist "if you're not with us, you're against us" approach to folk music, as bluntly underlined by your rather selective list of credits (not sure what the Leveller would think about his elevation to hallowed folk insider status, though).

Personally I find this thread very illuminating. It's the only one I'm reading on Mudcat at the moment. Is it not a good thing to question "accepted" assumptions from time to time?

For me the only two genres of music worth a shit are music I like and music I don't like. Luckily for me, a large proportion of the former is traditional music (albeit in it's revival clothing) and what I guess we should now call contemporary-pop-music-composed-to-mimic-a-folk-idiom (or "folk music" as the silly buggers out in the real world call it). Genres, processes, traditions and so on come a very poor second to this as far as I'm concerned - I'm not an academic, I'm a fan, and I don't really care that deeply if it's a Child ballad or one of The Earthbound Souls' (for example) recently composed songs as long as it moves me. The exact definition and compartmentalisation is not that important. I'd rather fleetingly enjoy a butterfly on the wing than pin it down so I can stare at it under glass. I really don't mind what it says on the tin as long as the contents are tasty. Half the stuff I like is unclassifiable anyway. Others can do as they will, as long as they accept different people experience music in different ways.

Incidently, just heard part of a live set from Cambridge Folk Festival in 1981 on Radio 6... by Donovan, including a cracking Hurdy Gurdy Man and a lovely Jennifer Juniper. When I was growing up, the only folk album in the house was "Universal Soldier", a budget Donovan LP on Pye. I loved it and played it non-stop from the age of about six upwards. Funnily enough, I only realised it wasn't a folk album when I hit the rarified world of Mudcat. I'm sure most people who own a copy are still labouring under the misapprehension it IS folk. Tut tut. Silly them. We, after all, know better, don't we?

I don't want to denigrate what Jim et al are saying, some of it is fascinating, but I do sometimes get the feeling they are to the folk music buying public generally (y'know, those souls who buy records by Rachel Unthank and Waterson Carthy and Alasdair Roberts and Seth Lakeman and so on) approximately what the Sparticist International were to labour voters... That's not a pretty thought.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 06:22 PM

This pair have not once (apart from a piece of mealy mouthed lip-service - "I like Davie Stewart), expressed any appreciation of the role of the tradition bearers who gave us our raw material.

You can actually read can't you, old man? Sometimes I wonder if you don't just see my name on a post and fly off the handle with your customary impotent invective. Nice post though, the bullshit notwithstanding; especially as it chimes in with pretty much everything I've said here, specially with respect of the creativity of the old singers. So sad you can't see it.

S O'P


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 06:27 PM

From where the sun now shines, I will no longer participate in these sort of threads.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 06:56 PM

Is it not a good thing to question "accepted" assumptions from time to time?

Maybe, but questioning the same accepted assumptions again and again, in the same way, with the same if you define that as this then they're the same thing arguments, gets a bit wearing.

The exact definition and compartmentalisation is not that important. I'd rather fleetingly enjoy a butterfly on the wing than pin it down so I can stare at it under glass.

Fair enough, but in that case I can't help wondering what attracted you to this thread! Several dog-years ago, on one of the many similar threads, I tried asking whether people who disagreed with (say) Jim's definition of folk music whether they

- didn't care about definitions and didn't want to talk about them
- cared about definitions and wanted to use a different one
or
- cared about not using definitions

Nobody answered, but I still think it's a valid question.

I do sometimes get the feeling they are to the folk music buying public generally (y'know, those souls who buy records by Rachel Unthank and Waterson Carthy and Alasdair Roberts and Seth Lakeman and so on) approximately what the Sparticist International were to labour voters... That's not a pretty thought.

The Sparts in any context aren't a pretty thought. But as a general thing I wouldn't denigrate ideological purity and keeper-of-the-flame attitudes. Sometimes flames need to be kept; some flames are worth keeping.

One final observation (unlike Spleen I'm trying to give these threads up) - There Are No Folk Police. Nobody is telling anyone you can't play that or that's never a traditional song or get those pop songs out of my folk club!. Nobody is even expressing attitudes like that, except right here on Mudcat - and we feel free to unleash our inner traddie curmudgeons, here on Mudcat, because we reckon we're among friends and fellow enthusiasts. Which makes it a bit ironic, to say the least, to be accused of various forms of authoritarianism and personality disorder when we express the 'wrong' opinions.


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Subject: No Folk Police?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 02:34 AM

Pip: "There Are No Folk Police"

Oh yes there are! The Folk Police


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 03:18 AM

Last night was spent exclusively listening to sea shanties. When I say exclusively a 9F was also weathered into the limescaled petrifying well only a late Spaceship could reach and M'Lady used the 'chanties for a long session on the rowing machine. Boy No.1 could be heard picking out the tune from his room.

As near to folk in action as we could manage. We don't do total emersion lifestyle folkiness but are happy grazing at the folk buffet. Tonight might be the greats of Studio 54 and a conspicuous display of rhythm. There's a Standard Tank needs a makeover you see.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Richard Spencer
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 03:26 AM

Fantastic story that Jim. What a shame that find a gem like that you have to wade through the turgid morrass of yet another "what the folk" thread. Have you any plans to publish more of your collections - songs and their context?


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 03:44 AM

Just to say Clarice Cliff pottery is clearly emblematic of the English Jazz Age, with ruralist overtones. I meant no offence to collectors of pottery, those who attend ceramic fairs, teaset enthusiasts for whom Clarice Cliff is an important icon, or to imply there isn't merit in the careful research of Staffordshire pot styles and their development.

For anyone who was offended, please take this a sincere apology.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 04:00 AM

Slightly OT but I'm about to buy the 70 years of Topic collection because it fills some important gaps in my vinyl. Do people think it fairly reflects the tradition or is it more a history of Topic records?


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 06:05 AM

Maybe, but questioning the same accepted assumptions again and again, in the same way, with the same if you define that as this then they're the same thing arguments, gets a bit wearing.

Has anyone actually said that they're the same thing? I certainly haven't, and to assume that's what this is about is to miss the point entirely. Just because hip-hop and gagaku are both musics born of a venerable tradition doesn't make them the same thing, any more than heavy metal is the same as flamenco, or jazz is the same as xhoomi. Even The Horse Definition does not say all music is the same, it just says it's all folk music. The problem is one inherent in the nature of revivalist pedantry in which a couple of innocent enough general adjectives (i.e. folk and traditional) have somehow become Holy Nouns for a musical construct which on the one hand is as wonderfully diverse as all the thread titles on Mudcat would suggest, yet as anally narrow as the more religiously hysterical reactions on this thread would indicate.

*

Have you any plans to publish more of your collections - songs and their context?

The Max Hunter Folk Song Collection serves as the perfect blueprint in on-line accessibility with fully annotated transcriptions and downloadable MP3s of all 1600 songs in the archive - making it an invaluable resource appealing to the casual enthusiast, singer and serious scholar alike. Shame there aren't more collections made available in this way - God knows there's plenty webspace out there and such a venture (with a nominal charge per download) could pay for itself. The web has the potential to be the ideal aural museum without the need for hard-copy which necessitates editorial intervention, interpretation and presentation to justify the expense. Topic did the VOTP series, and is presently lining up the Kennedy Archive for a similar treatment. How much better it would be if the entire archives were on-line and accessible to all.

Theoretical debates are all very well, but the importance of the real stuff of this heritage is beyond dispute. In this iPod age where one might wear the entire Max Hunter archive around one's neck as to barely notice its there, surely the time is ripe for these collectors to take advantage and maybe reep some genuine rewards for all their diligence and hard work?


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 09:48 AM

it was Denis Healey who said being attacked by Geoffrey Howe is like being savaged by a dead sheep.
and Oscar Wilde said I enjoy talking to the wall it never contradicts me.
I believe Oscars dying words were to complain about the colour of the wall paper.
Napoleons last words should have been to complain about the taste of the wallpaper.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 10:31 AM

Yes, it was Geoffrey Howe, not Geoffrey 'Howell', who was likened to a savage dead sheep. Excuse me for not bothering to look up the exact name of a defunct Tory politician. I tend to find other activities more diverting - like watching paint dry or traffic lights changing ...


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 11:44 AM

"Traffic lights changing"? Isn't that they do in Morecambe? Or is that just THEIR tradition?


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: longboat (inactive)
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 12:15 PM

GUEST Shimrod, always have your facts, figures, names and dates correct, get your ducks all in a row, regardless of political beliefs,, before launching into arguement or debate.

The old saying many a persons grandparents may have used,
Tis better to keep your mouth closed and look like a fool, than to open your mouth and have it confirmed.

and now on to far more important things.

glueman, my take on the Topic 70th box set is that it is a history of Topic that reflects the tradition(whatever that means), rather than it being yet another set of recordings of the sources(The Voice of the People set amply fills this need.
I have my copy of Three Score & Ten: A Voice To The People on order

to quote from the book that comes with the set:

"The aims and objects of the Workers' Music Association (as published in 1944) still stand as a fair description of the ambitions of Topic Records in 2009:
- To present to the people their rich musical inheritance
- To utilise fully the stimulating power of music to inspire people
- To stimulate the composition of music appropriate to our time
- To foster and further the art of music on the principle that true art can move the people
- to work for the betterment of society

which, to my mind, says alot more than some of the political rantings you hear these days


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: John P
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 12:35 PM

The problem is one inherent in the nature of revivalist pedantry in which a couple of innocent enough general adjectives (i.e. folk and traditional) have somehow become Holy Nouns for a musical construct which on the one hand is as wonderfully diverse as all the thread titles on Mudcat would suggest, yet as anally narrow as the more religiously hysterical reactions on this thread would indicate.

Well! Where are you going to put me in your definition of those who disagree with you? I'm not a revivalist. I'm not a pedant; in fact the real pedants have been accusing me of "ruining" the tradition for years. I believe that adjectives, when used in a specific setting, have specific meanings. There is nothing even slightly religious about how I play music, or even how I talk about it.

I keep saying this, and you keep responding as if you don't get it: It's not about what music gets played, how it gets played, where it gets played, who plays it, or whether it's any good.

It is about a documented phenomenon that, when described, is a useful way of talking about how some music came to have some of the attributes it has. It's because we are fascinated by finding different versions of tunes and songs that crop over wide geographic areas and centuries of time. Many of us find it easier to have conversations about this phenomenon if we have words to attach to the concepts that we all more or less agree on the meaning of.

SO'P, I've just realized that the reason I feel the need to respond to you is not so much because of your flights of fancy about the origin and nature of traditional music, but because you almost always accompany them with the absolute the conviction that anyone who disagrees with you is some hidebound traditionalist who is going to go bonkers if anyone plays anything that isn't pure, or if they play it in the wrong way. Since everyone has said many times that none of this exclusively determines what music we listen to, what music we play, or especially what music anyone else should listen to or play, being confronted with the excessively polarized language you use in most of your posts is very annoying.

A while back you gave a very nice paragraph about your musical tastes, influences, etc. What you seem to be missing is that most of us have extremely wide musical tastes. Traditional folk music is my favorite, but I don't usually play it in anything like a traditional manner, although sometimes I do. I have played in heavy rock bands, jazz fusion bands, blues bands, medieval and Renaissance bands, Irish, French, Breton, and Swedish dance bands, a folk-rock band that blends eastern and western Europen music, progressive rock bands, and I spend a lot of time playing purely improvised new age and light jazz piano. I suspect you and I would actually be able to play well together. I'm sure you have some music somewhere on line, but I haven't heard it yet. Can you give me a link? I have some slide shows on YouTube with a small sampling of my recordings if anyone is interested.

All these discussions don't have anything to do with what actually happens on the ground when music is being played or listened to. All we want is to have a set of words to use in having discussions. Traditional folk music is taken. Please choose something else.

I would love to have a conversation on Mudcat about some of the interesting things that turn up in the folk process, without any discussion of what it means or whether it exists or where the lines are.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 01:22 PM

I will break my vow of silence regarding this thread (and the overall topic) and say that John P.'s comments would be a fitting close to this discussion.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 01:27 PM

'longboat' it seems to have escaped your notice that I rather gracefully acknowledged my rather trivial mistake. I think thou do'st protest too much. Now go away and boil your head you patronising, pedantic ... person!


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 02:52 PM

flights of fancy about the origin and nature of traditional music,

To say, as I have done, that Traditional English Language Folk Song (as we have come to think of it) has its origins in the creative genius of otherwise ordinary working-class men and women is hardly a flight of fancy. That this vernacular and idiosyncratic genius also accounts for what we call the folk process is also a matter of common sense. In these songs we are dealing with a mastery of a highly specialised and refined genre - a vital and dynamic tradition of song making, singing, carrying, learning, modification and re-making. I see nothing in the collections to contradict thi; and I hear nothing in the recorded archives to contradict this either - in the singing of Walter Pardon, Harry Cox, Davie Stewart, etc. etc. I hear only idiosyncratic mastery of their time-served cultural craft; the pure drop in fact, which is something that only rarely translates to The Revival Singers, but that is an issue fir another time. We Revival Singers have chosen this thing we have come to call Folk; self-consciously, however so passionately we might feel about The Tradition. The Old Songs are master-works in the same way that the blacksmiths, ploughmen, farriers, carpenters, joiners, coopers, wheelwrights, tinkers, weavers, and countless other tradesmen and women were masters; a mastery, I fear, is all but lost to us now.

Is it a flight of fancy to say such things? If so, then - it's a fair cop, guv!


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 06:39 PM

"To say, as I have done.........."
You have ben saying exactly the opposite
You have denied the existence of the oral tradition.
You have put the oral tradition down to the imaginings of sloppy and agenda driven researchers.
Rather than being the compositions and re-compositions of of "ordinary working class men and women" you have put traditional song down to the work of "master composers"
You have said that folk song is no different than the pop-pap that is the stock in trade of music industry, the output of classical composers..., etc (I'm sure everybody knows by heart your 'folk context' list).
In the past you have written of the older performers as.... can't remember the exact words (past their sell-by date will do for now); am happy to dig them out if you care to deny this.
You have - on this thread, ignored all efforts to get you to state your position on the role of traditional singers in the making and disseminating of traditional song and you have refused to acknowledge their uniqueness, compared to, say Frank Sinatra.
Your 'last stand' caused you to retreat behind Armsrtong (or Broonzy's) 'talking horse', along with Frank Zappa and Sun Ra.
You now appear to have undergone a 'Road To Damascus' conversion - welcome to the folk club.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 06:51 PM

Jim, with all due respect, when were you last in a designated folk context in the UK? Tonight I was at a rather wonderful mainly, but not exclusively, traditional folk singaround, that seamlessly blended traditional folk song, a Flander and Swann number, Stan Rogers and self penned stuff in a folk idiom. It's my idea of a cracking night. It's a variant of what S O'P keeps describing as the reality of 21st century folk clubs. Traditional music is in the mix, but wonderful as much of it is, its not the whole story. Long may it have bedfellows.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 07:55 PM

"Jim, with all due respect, when were you last in a designated folk context in the UK?"
About three weeks ago in Glasgow. They finished the evening with Travelling Light and Living Doll - that's going to get today's youth hammering on the door to come in, isn't it? Not my iidea of a cracking night - sorry.
What has your question got to do with claiming "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", to be part of the tradition traditional or folk song?
Jim Carroll


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