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What is The Tradition?

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John P 16 Sep 09 - 08:35 PM
Spleen Cringe 17 Sep 09 - 03:04 AM
Jack Blandiver 17 Sep 09 - 08:06 AM
Howard Jones 17 Sep 09 - 09:43 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 17 Sep 09 - 10:37 AM
The Sandman 17 Sep 09 - 10:57 AM
The Sandman 17 Sep 09 - 11:21 AM
Howard Jones 17 Sep 09 - 11:49 AM
Jack Blandiver 17 Sep 09 - 11:59 AM
Jack Blandiver 17 Sep 09 - 12:06 PM
glueman 17 Sep 09 - 01:23 PM
GUEST,Goose Gander 17 Sep 09 - 02:02 PM
glueman 17 Sep 09 - 02:17 PM
Brian Peters 17 Sep 09 - 02:51 PM
GUEST,Sedayne (Astray) (S O'P) 17 Sep 09 - 03:07 PM
GUEST,Goose Gander 17 Sep 09 - 03:24 PM
glueman 17 Sep 09 - 03:53 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Sep 09 - 03:56 PM
Phil Edwards 17 Sep 09 - 06:02 PM
Phil Edwards 17 Sep 09 - 06:07 PM
Jack Blandiver 17 Sep 09 - 06:47 PM
Howard Jones 18 Sep 09 - 03:17 AM
glueman 18 Sep 09 - 03:55 AM
Jack Campin 18 Sep 09 - 05:08 AM
BobKnight 18 Sep 09 - 05:41 AM
Jack Blandiver 18 Sep 09 - 05:54 AM
Howard Jones 18 Sep 09 - 06:46 AM
Brian Peters 18 Sep 09 - 06:55 AM
GUEST,A N Other 18 Sep 09 - 07:04 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Sep 09 - 07:13 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 18 Sep 09 - 07:34 AM
Jack Blandiver 18 Sep 09 - 07:34 AM
Jack Blandiver 18 Sep 09 - 07:51 AM
Brian Peters 18 Sep 09 - 08:01 AM
TheSnail 18 Sep 09 - 08:11 AM
glueman 18 Sep 09 - 08:11 AM
Phil Edwards 18 Sep 09 - 08:51 AM
Howard Jones 18 Sep 09 - 09:14 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Sep 09 - 09:23 AM
Jack Blandiver 18 Sep 09 - 09:56 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Sep 09 - 10:23 AM
TheSnail 18 Sep 09 - 10:43 AM
Brian Peters 18 Sep 09 - 10:47 AM
glueman 18 Sep 09 - 12:45 PM
Jack Blandiver 18 Sep 09 - 12:55 PM
Stringsinger 18 Sep 09 - 01:00 PM
Jim Carroll 18 Sep 09 - 03:33 PM
glueman 18 Sep 09 - 04:27 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 18 Sep 09 - 04:40 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 18 Sep 09 - 04:48 PM
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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: John P
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 08:35 PM

SO'P, a flight of fancy? I have no idea; there's no evidence to tell me who was a genius and who wasn't. My own suspicion is that musicians throughout history have been pretty much like musicians today: some have genius, some are really good at reproducing what they hear, some are boring as hell to listen to, some are exciting, some are pedantic in their approach, and some are iconoclasts. Some have the ability to come up with new things, and some are great at presenting existing material to an audience. Some take lessons all their lives and never get beyond ordinary. Some practice a lot and some are lazy about it. Some like one kind of song, some another. Some can't sing, but can play a tune that will make you come out of a coma to dance. Only a very few are able to support themselves playing music; the rest have jobs, families, churches, friends, other interests, and are generally part of a community that is not musical in nature.

As to whether or not the old craftmanship has been lost, yes, probably, in many cases. But, at least with music, I think there is no lack of current craftmanship -- it's just being applied to a different stylistic aesthetic. I can't imagine musicianship, creativity, or genius going away. I believe they are still being applied to folk music, and that the folk process persists.

John


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 03:04 AM

John, I think you and S O'P are reaching some sort of consensus!


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 08:06 AM

"To say, as I have done.........."
You have ben saying exactly the opposite
You have denied the existence of the oral tradition.


In which case, old man - you have misunderstood everything I've said here - and everywhere else. I've not so much denied the existence of the Oral Tradition and Folk Process as questioned the entrenched mythology about such collective processes which effectively overlook the creative genius of the individual. It is in the subjective idiosyncratic genius of the individual that any tradition is best manifest . The conceptualising of The Tradition as primarily a collective phenomenon has created a somewhat false impression about the nature of Traditional Song and the men and women who created it giving rise to the sort of hogwash we see in the 1954 Definition which takes the individual singers and musicians out of the equation and replaces them with a romanticised faceless collective. Consequently all talk of a Folk Process invariably regards the collective working-class as a passive medium for a series of otherwise random mutations the laws of which have yet to be determined but the evidence is there for all to see! Bullshit. What I'm saying is that these people were far from passive - that it was they who made these songs, they who sang them, they who passed them on, they who learned them, they who modified them, changed them, re-made them and that it was they who are the masters of a very exacting craft just as they were masters of their trades in other respects.

In the high arts individuals are cherished and celebrated; in the Folk Arts individuals are but members of the lumpen crowd.

You have put the oral tradition down to the imaginings of sloppy and agenda driven researchers.

And quite rightly so given what we know of the methods, assumptions ad objectives of Baring-Gould, Cecil Sharp, Bert Lloyd et al. Their legacy lives on in the mentality which believes that Revival Folk & Folk Rock somehow improves upon the singing of a Cox or a Larner or a Heaney and a Stewart or a McPhee or a Scott. Or those who prefer the soulless wailing of a Davy Spillane to the pure drop of a Seamus Ennis or a Felix Doran. At any rate, The Oral Tradition is a secondary theoretical construct arising from the Primary Sourced Reality of Traditional Folk Song, which is, as I say (and as you say) about the generations of individual men and women who made these songs, not the workings of some community.

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

Again I say (for the hundredth time): THE MASTER COMPOSERS WERE THE ORDINARY WORKING CLASS MEN AND WOMEN WHO MADE THE SONGS. In their ordinariness they were (and are) exceptional as is evidenced by the craft and beauty of the songs themselves which are the cherished treasures of our culture.

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

What I actually said is that the only thing that makes folk song different is one of style. I regard the 1954 Definition and the Folk Process as red herrings set up to distract us from the very obvious fact that Working Class Men and Women were capable of creating these songs and that musical creativity on a par with ANYTHING was part and parcel of working-class culture. The Folk Process effectively removes the creativity of the working-class individuals from the equation by regarding them as passive anonymous carriers, as though Folk Song were some sort of disease. If The Folk Process exists at all (and it is a very big IF), then it exists ONLY as the CONSEQUENCE of individual creativity. This is why I say the 1954 Definition doesn't tell us anything because for it to work as an orthodoxy (which it has become) it demands absolute compliance to a very wrong-footed bourgeois fantasy of what constitutes a working-class COMMUNITY. Thing is, if you step back far enough and there is no individual creativity; thus do I say all music is traditional. If we didn't know the names of Mozart and Beethoven we'd see them purely in terms of Tradition and Community Cultural Context.

(I'm sure everybody knows by heart your 'folk context' list)

Only because you keep repeating it ad infinitum, old man. It's real enough though as you found out for yourself in your recent jaunt to Glasgow.

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.

I've never said anything like this - & it runs contrary to everything I've ever held sacred about the nature of music, Folk Music especially.

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

Baring in mind what I've said here, please go back and read my posts.   

and you have refused to acknowledge their uniqueness, compared to, say Frank Sinatra.

Their uniqueness is not to be found in comparing them to Frank Sinatra. The difference is stylistically and culturally determined. Both Sinatra and Cox were masters of their respective cultural crafts and traditions. They were both human individual geniuses who did what they did and have left a legacy accordingly. They were both unique.

Your 'last stand' caused you to retreat behind Armsrtong (or Broonzy's) 'talking horse', along with Frank Zappa and Sun Ra.

The Horse Definition has more to offer us than the 1954 Definition - it was said by a musician for a start and isn't a product of the bourgeois class-condescension that typifies The Revival. All music is folk music; just as all music is stylistically diverse. It doesn't say all music is the same. Traditional Folk Song - the Old Songs - is but part of the stylistic diversity of a world of music in which (on my record shelves at least) Davie Stewart and Willie Scott have an equal footing with Zappa and Sun Ra.

You now appear to have undergone a 'Road To Damascus' conversion - welcome to the folk club.

My Road to Damascus occurred when I read a library copy of Bob Pegg's Folk back in 1976 when I was fifteen. I recently found a copy on ebay and I'm reading it again. Thirty-three years on it still makes eloquent and perfect sense to me and has pride of place on my bookshelves alongside Pegg's Rites and Riots which gave a similar Road to Damascus regarding the nature of folk customs and folklore. The only Folk Music I've ever listened to is the real stuff, the ethnomusicology if you like, eschewing the prissy MOR affectations of The Revival as being (with but few exceptions) a grave misrepresentation of the glories to be found in The Tradition.

My favourite singer right now is Mrs Pearl Brewer of Pocahantas, Arkensas - look her up on the Max Hunter Folk Song Collection (she's listed under M for Mrs!) - listen to her singing The Cruel Mother (Down by the Greenwood Side) especially; two versions are up there, recorded 6 months apart, both are different, but essentially the same song on which she has a conceptual handling that chills the very blood. It is real music. The pure drop, as I say.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 09:43 AM

SOP, the "collective" nature of the folk process is cumulative rather than collaborative. No one is arguing that these songs were created by committee, even less that the singers were passive carriers. I entirely agree that they were made and shaped by individuals. The collective element comes from the way they were passed from one individual to the next, each shaping it by their own individuality and creativity.

When Harry Cox or Walter Pardon learned a new song, they didn't go back to some original version of it and then start on their version from scratch. They took a song which had already been worked on by their predecessors and added as much or as little as they thought appropriate.

We don't know how much of a Cox or Pardon song comes from their creativity and how much comes from the singers before them. That is the sense in which there is a collective element to the songs' creation. It is not to deny the creativity of Cox or Pardon, but to recognise that they played only a part in the evolution of the songs they sang.

To suggest that the term "folk process" somehow denies this is a complete reversal of the truth.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 10:37 AM

" ... the "collective" nature of the folk process is cumulative rather than collaborative. No one is arguing that these songs were created by committee, even less that the singers were passive carriers."

Exactly, Mr Jones! And this should be obvious - even to SO'P - how could it be otherwise unless we happen to know the exact identities of every singer of every song shaped by the 'folk process'? I agree that it would be wonderful to celebrate the individuals who contributed to the process but we can't because we have very little information about them and most of them are dead. We can only surmise that they lived within communities and probably sang their songs within those communities. Occasionally an individual singer may have had an opportunity to sing his/her songs to members of other communities. The fact that we don't know who many of these people were is an accident of history - not some deliberate act of class warfare.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 10:57 AM

Howard, the Recruited Collier was accepted as a traditional song,even though it was never processed,which proves my point that songs dont have to be processed to be accepted as traditional,although I agree they often are,but is not an absolute necessity,there are other considerations.
[When Harry Cox or Walter Pardon learned a new song, they didn't go back to some original version of it and then start on their version from scratch.]quote.
not sure about Harry Cox?[does history relate] We know that Walter didnt,but I am not sure you can say that about every trad singer.
   I remember someone telling me about one of the Sussex Singers, Who had told him,he had made up the tunes to songs himself.,but it was one of them who had lots of different tunes to the accepted versions.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 11:21 AM

John Brune in his book The Roving Songster,said
Quite a number of traditional Folk singers particularly Harry Cox,very occassionally made up their own words and tunes of a character quite in distinguishable from the genuine traditional songs.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 11:49 AM

Different singers will have added different things. Some may have made up whole new tunes, but even then it would be to a song they had learned from someone else. Other traditional singers surely must have composed entirely new songs - but that doesn't necessarily make the songs "traditional", unless they enter the tradition.

In the case of "The Recruited Collier", even if it hadn't been embellished by Bert Lloyd, how can it be said that a song which exists in only one collected version from a single singer is "traditional"? In what sense can it be said to have entered the tradition? (being taken up by the folk revival is an entirely different thing). It is no different from any other composed song, especially one which copies traditional forms - it has the potential to become traditional, but hasn't yet got there.

Dick, you say the Recruited Collier was accepted as a traditional song - accepted by whom? Accepted perhaps by those who didn't research its origins, or who took Bert Lloyd's information at face value. In the light of more information about the song, it now seems that the original acceptance of it as a traditional song may be incorrect - which doesn't alter in the slightest the fact that it's a bloody good and deservedly popular song.

In a very few cases a song may pass through the tradition unaltered, but that's unusual, for the very reason that SOP so deplores - that in those cases the singers are acting as mere passive carriers. In most cases, however, they will add something as they pass it on.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 11:59 AM

To suggest that the term "folk process" somehow denies this is a complete reversal of the truth.

All music relies on such processes, Howard - they are not unique to folk; to call it a folk process implies that it is somehow unique to Folk Music and creates the impression of collective anonymity that over shadows a lot of thinking in the various stages of a revival which, in terms of culture and social-class, operates at a very significant remove from that of The Tradition. This impression is further enforced by the language of the 1954 Definition which speaks mostly of community, with scant regard for individual creativity which is surely just as essential to Traditional Folk Song as it is to any music. Thus Folk Music is, in effect, wished into existence by the bourgeoisie dreaming of a bucolic idyll in which these grubby rustics can't possibly be individually creative, so it simply must be collective, so let us away on our bicycles and plunder at will before the songs are lost to posterity because what do they care about it, they who can't even understand or appreciate the value of their own culture! It is that very purposeful condescension that underwrites The Revival and its attendant attitudes, attitudes which persist to this day which I feel need redressing somehow.

Raking around in a junk shop we might pick up an old rusty bill-hook circa 1860; we know from medieval MS illuminations that such tools have remain unchanged for centuries, likewise the craft of hedge-laying and such that they were used for, and yet do we see the bill-hook in terms of that broader cultural and social continuity or do we see it as a unique manifestation of the art of the equally unique blacksmith who forged it? No names, alas, but a very evident individual mastery which is, alas, all too easy to overlook in the rush to see everything in terms of process and collectivity which is, as I say, in being common to all art is not unique to folk.

Of course some were passive carriers, which isn't what we're talking about here - we're talking of those who were active.

Quite a number of traditional Folk singers particularly Harry Cox,very occassionally made up their own words and tunes of a character quite in distinguishable from the genuine traditional songs.

See? Cox knew his onions! A true master!


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 12:06 PM

In what sense can it be said to have entered the tradition? (being taken up by the folk revival is an entirely different thing). It is no different from any other composed song, especially one which copies traditional forms - it has the potential to become traditional, but hasn't yet got there.

The Tradition is the genre which made these songs, processed, unprocessed, or otherwise. It is indeed no different from any other composed song - other than that it was determined by a particular traditional idiom and written by someone fully immersed therein. That is the nature of musical tradition.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 01:23 PM

A stonemason of my aquaintance was telling me about a chap who sometimes buys stone from him and from it fashions 'ancient' horsetroughs, stone coffins and all manner of 'antiquities'. A few months in a pond and a few more smothered in live yoghurt and a nouveau-ruralist/ aga lout/ collector believes whatever he wants of the object.

You can see where this is going...


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: GUEST,Goose Gander
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 02:02 PM

"The Folk Process effectively removes the creativity of the working-class individuals from the equation by regarding them as passive anonymous carriers, as though Folk Song were some sort of disease."

You have not so much denied the existence of the folk process (no capitalization necessary) as you have consistently and repeatedly misrepresented what specialists and amateurs mean by the term. The above quote is only one of many in which you demonstrate you do not understand the term as it is used here and elsewhere.

First of all, the folk process can be empirically confirmed. Composed songs enter tradition are shaped by individual singers and musicians. The collective element refers to the community or communities within which the songs circulate. Folk songs aren't written, they are 'grown' – thousands of broadside ballads, music hall songs, minstrel songs, etc. have been written and forgotten over the past few centuries; only select ones ('Unfortunate Rake'; Child 84; Child 200; 'Jesse James'; 'John Henry', for example) have become folk songs. A song has to be accepted by the community to enter into the tradition and become processed by individual singers. The role of individual singers is crucial in any description of the folk process with which I am familiar. Could you provide a reference to back up your repeated claim that "agenda-driven" folklorists have described singers of folk songs as 'passive carriers'? That, SO'P, is the straw man you keep building up and burning down. No one here had made such an argument; perhaps you could name and cite the 'parasitical' folklorists who have argued such (?).

The magnificent Max Hunter collection which you and I both enjoy and mine for songs, tunes, etc. is an excellent demonstration of the folk process within a geographically bounded community. There are master singers and musicians, others who more or less reproduce what they have heard, and still others whose faulty memory and/or mis-hearing also contribute (in a different sort of way) to the evolution of the music. You have deliberately misrepresented the meaning of the term by insisting that folklorists have wiped out any reference to the first category of singers and entirely privileged the latter. Again, I ask you to tell me when and where a particular folklorist (name, please!) has delineated a particular tradition as evolving in this accidental sort of way (names and places, please!). Also, and I can't believe I have to even mention this, Hunter was a folklorist! You have nothing but bile for his kind, and yet where would you be without the work of him and others? You're like the city-dweller who scorns the farmer while nourishing himself on the fruits of his labors.

G.G.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 02:17 PM

"Folk songs aren't written, they are 'grown'"

And in some fine compost by the sound of things.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 02:51 PM

>> not sure about Harry Cox?[does history relate] <<

Well, Dick, I don't know about 'history', but the superb 60-page booklet that comes with Cox's 'Bonny Labouring Boy' double CD on Topic has plenty to say.

Harry Cox learned many of his songs from his father and grandfather, both of whom knew hundreds. His mother knew a good many songs as well, including some she'd learned from broadsides purchased on trips to Norwich. He also learned songs from other singers in the area (the was a tradition of singing in local pubs and several of his friends were singers) and travelled distances to get a song he wanted. He owned a collection of song sheets, some of them printed broadsides and chapbooks, others manuscripts written out at Harry's request by his sisters - because he was 'not brilliant at writing'. However he stated rather confusingly that the songs he sang were 'never writ down' so perhaps he didn't use the broadsides as aids to learning.

Harry Cox admitted to putting alternative tunes with songs he knew, and to making up 'two or three'. Excellent notes by Steve Roud give lots of information about the songs themsleves - many are tracable to 18th and 19th century broadsides, but there are also older ballads and at least one composed locally in the mid 19th century.

Having read through those notes again (and thanks for reminding me to do it!) I'd say that anyone looking for a serious answer to the question 'What is The Tradition'? could do a lot worse than to start with this album.

One thing I don't understand is: which part of this is the fake horsetrough?


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: GUEST,Sedayne (Astray) (S O'P)
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 03:07 PM

Folk songs aren't written, they are 'grown'

In collective mulch of unwitting humanity no doubt; just as jazz grows and classical compositions grow and hip-hop grows. Yawn. You know, I never thought I'd say this on Mudcat but I think maybe it's time to find something better to do with my downtime.

Just off to order The Bonny Labouring Boy CD; sounds like the very thing!


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: GUEST,Goose Gander
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 03:24 PM

You, like Glueman, have trounced upon one sloppy metaphor. You have not responded to the core of my argument - that you have consistently misrepresented the meaning of the term 'folk process' and you have maligned folklorists without providing a shred of evidence for your accusations.

I do believe musical evolution in jazz and the folk process share a certain degree of commonality. One possible difference, a significant one in my view, is that while folk is accessable to singers and musicians of all levels of competence, jazz is more the province of masters. I don't believe there is a corresponding process in classical music, nothing like the process that led to hundreds of variants of 'Barbara Allen', anyway.

But you know, I was just thinking of ordering the Cox CD - and I feel a certain gratitude to the folklorists who recorded his music. But I'm sure they were just a bunch of agenda-driven parasites, right SO'P?

G.G.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 03:53 PM

Songs changed. Old songs passed by word of mouth inevitably and irretrievably changed and many are very fine. Those simple facts do not warrant the fetishism that surrounds them. In the olfactory theme, one man's odour of sanctity might be another's whiff of putrefaction.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 03:56 PM

"In which case, old man - you have misunderstood everything I've said here "
Understood everything you've said - watched the somersaults with growing wonderment, and now - really can't be bothered; circuses are like that, aren't they?
Anybody in doubt of what you have been saying (over three threads) is quite able to read them again and make up their own minds, should their stomachs be up to it.
Everything is put in a nutshell for me by your/Armstrong's/Broonzy's 'talking horse' - the last outpost of a deeply agendad folkie bereft of ideas - old bean.
Richard Spencer.
"Have you any plans to publish more of your collections - songs and their context? "
We recorded the speaker, Mikeen McCarthy over thirty years and got well more than 100 tapes of songs, stories, lore and information from him - about the song and story traditions, folklore, ballad selling, passing the songs on.... masses of, we believe, invaluable information on what we have been mud-wrestling over on this thread, and from a far more authorative source than any of us (the horse's mouth - pun intended).
Last year we did three programmes for Irish radio on Irish Travellers in London and the compiler, Paula Carroll (no relation) honed in on Mikeen and devoted an entire programme on him.
It has long been our ambition to turn our recordings of him into a book - an oral autobiography of a Travelling and his family in the days before they became urbanised and abandoned the old trades, along with a substantial collection of songs and stories - we certainly have more than enough material to do so.
Late last year we were awarded a considerable grant from The Arts Council of Ireland in order to get the last remaining tapes of Mikeen transcribed and the music of the songs written out. This has only been made possible by the fact that over here the traditional music enthusiasts spend more time playing, singing and appreciating the music and songs than they do denigrating them (as they appear to prefer on threads like this). It means our dream of publishing is now within reach - the only barrier being the feeling I get after all this garbage "Is it worth the effort - who gives a toss"?
Some time ago Bryan Creer was good enough to point out that it really wasn't our decision, and our real committment was to the people we recorded and those who might appreciate what we were lucky enough to find. So yes - we hope to get down to work as soon as the transcriptions are complete.
In the meantime, Pat and I have written some bits and pieces on Mikeen (and others we recorded) which anybody who is interested is welcome to - thanks for your comment.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 06:02 PM

The Folk Process effectively removes the creativity of the working-class individuals from the equation by regarding them as passive anonymous carriers

I think you've got that back to front. For me, the folk process celebrates the creativity of all the hundreds of unknown singers who contributed to the shaping of traditional songs. It's when you start denying the folk process that you deny the creativity of the song-carriers - most of those hapless yokels couldn't never rise to the elite of "master composers", after all. The idea of the folk process is an open, democratic vision, celebrating a near-universal creative participation in the making and remaking of music.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 06:07 PM

Um, that was a typo for "couldn't ever", obviously - although I quite like "couldn't never" in context (arr, we 'apless yokels couldn't never rise to no compositional elite,could we Jarge?).


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 06:47 PM

It's when you start denying the folk process that you deny the creativity of the song-carriers - most of those hapless yokels couldn't never rise to the elite of "master composers", after all.

The songs tell a different story, Pip - likewise all the other trades mastered by your hapless yokels. The folk process is a fantasy that stands in stark contradiction to the dynamic creative tradition these songs stand testament to. No-one mentioned an elite, just naturally gifted working-class men and women fully conversant with their given idiom, but masters nonetheless.   

The idea of the folk process is an open, democratic vision, celebrating a near-universal creative participation in the making and remaking of music.

We agree it's just an idea then. There's a breath of fresh air.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 03:17 AM

SOP, I'm beginning to think that you and I are using the same words in completely opposite ways. The folk process is "the dynamic creative tradition these songs stand testament to". You seem to be celebrating it in one breath while dismissing it as fantasy in the next.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 03:55 AM

We seem to be getting close to the heart of the matter. For folk believers The Process is an irreducible creed - if you don't believe it, don't bother turning up. For the rest the process is either unimportant or misplaced.

I would suggest that songs were not grown evenly, that individual craftsmen were responsible for the major themes and verses altered, tweaked for local conditions and with time. They may even be formulaic for historical reasons with the template lasting for centuries. That is a historical certaintly based on a working knowledge of folklore and in no way diminishes the songs. The problem arises when the songs take on polemical stature, when they become a tribute to 'all those gone before'. They certainly do service to all who've sang them but that's not really what we mean, is it? The claim is something called The People took ownership by re-designing them or performing them in some way that made the originator less significant. That the changes were proprietorial and ownership became common.
I'm not predisposed to assign sole authorship to artistic texts where it isn't warranted - auteur theory in film, the idea of an artist-director transcending the restraints of the system to make a personal statement is largely bunk (for reasons I'm happy to explore if anyone cares), so positing genius where it's not appropriate is not my bag.

Nevertheless The People carries disproportionate weight and far too much emotional baggage to explain what's going on as an authorship and dissemination process. Historical anonymity has provided the vacuum for those so inclined to fill with idealism. The pleasures of the text for me are in no way altered by knowing the original work was largely or barely altered from the hand that originally formed it. There is a world of interest to be derived from the songs that takes no account of whether time and The People delivered them in their current form or not.

When Believers understand that enjoyment and understanding does not rest on that one notion, the polemical flames will die.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 05:08 AM

I would suggest that songs were not grown evenly, that individual craftsmen were responsible for the major themes and verses altered, tweaked for local conditions and with time. They may even be formulaic for historical reasons with the template lasting for centuries.

Which is a platitude you could have picked up from what Jim or I were saying weeks or months ago.

You might also be expected to take an interest in finding out who some of these individual craftsmen were, and learn something about them. Jim's studies of Mikeen McCarthy would be an obvious one to look at. Here's another (email from Matt Seattle):

William Dixon Weekend, 17-18 October 2009

Autumn 2009 is the 100th anniversary of William Dixon's manuscript of pipe tunes being pulled out of the flames. It also marks 14 years since the publication of the music as The Master Piper.

Combining historical legitimacy with musical substance, Dixon's remarkable cross-border repertoire provides an exceptionally solid foundation for the revitalisation of Border piping, and demonstrates an approach to music which can inform our own playing.

The Weekend is for pipers and others who wish to become acquainted with Dixon's music or to deepen their acquaintance with it. The emphasis will be on hands-on playing, complemented by discussion and instruction.

By sharing in an exploration of Dixon's music it is hoped that a door will be opened for those who have previously found it inaccessible, and that all will come to a sense of how astounding the music is and how much it is needed today.

"Beyond all reasonable doubt, this is the oldest known manuscript of bagpipe music. Need I say more? It's one of the great discoveries of the century. It takes the history of Border piping back by two or three generations and gives us a whole new way of playing the bagpipes. But don't just take my word for it: play the tunes, learn them, and see how well they 'lie under the fingers'. It's the real thing ......."

(Professor R D Cannon)

The event will take place in Hawick, Scottish Borders. To register an interest or a firm intention, email Matt Seattle {theborderpiper(at)googlemail(dot)com} and you will be sent further details.

-------

Dixon Weekend 17-18 October: Update

I have received expressions of interest from 11 people so far and I now need sufficient confirmations to go ahead. Please will those who do wish to come confirm by 1st Sep or earlier as one person is considering coming from overseas and will need to book travel. I will then confirm the Event.

This will take place at Artbeat Studios, an open access community arts project. The room is large and comfortable but not luxurious. A proportion of the overall costs will go to support this registered Scottish charity.

I have arranged catering with the Damascus Drum for midday and evening Saturday and midday Sunday. I recommend the café and its food as inspiring. If you have individual dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian) please let me know when you confirm your booking.

The overall cost including tuition and three meals is £80. Accommodation is not included. Hawick is around an hour and a half from Edinburgh so some of you may be able to share transport to save on travel and B&Bs.

There will be an optional informal session on Saturday evening.

I have gained enormously from a close study of William Dixon's tunes. For fourteen years they have informed my playing, composing and understanding of pipe music. I know of no more direct route to Border piping. A list of tunes for study will be sent in good time and scores will be sent to those who do not have The Master Piper, which is currently out of print.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: BobKnight
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 05:41 AM

224 postings to date. Angels on a pinhead anyone? Boooooring - I gave up after reading about 20-30 posts.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 05:54 AM

You seem to be celebrating it in one breath while dismissing it as fantasy in the next.

The fantasy is that it only applies to Folk Music; all music is subject to this self-same process, just as all music can be defined according to the strictures of the 1954 Definition. The Tradition of English Speaking Folk Song was no less creative or dynamic than that of jazz or any other music, it differs only in terms of musicological genre, aesthetic and style. All music is a language; all languages are languages; all languages are different.

*

I picked up a copy of Sheelagh Douglas's Last of the Tinsmiths - The Life of Willie MacPhee in York a few weeks back. It's up there on the bookshelves presently but I'm sure I'll enjoy it immensely when I get round to reading it.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 06:46 AM

"The fantasy is that it only applies to Folk Music"

SOP, you appear to be the only person making this claim. No one is saying that folk song is any less (or any more) creative or dynamic than jazz or any other music, or that musical ideas are not passed around between musicians in other genres. However the "folk process" is most pronounced in folk music, and moreover is the defining element of folk, by which I mean traditional, music.

Someone reinterpreting a piece of classical music will go back to the score. They may be influenced by other interpretations, but they will not make significant changes to the piece, certainly not to the extent that a traditional folk singer might alter a song, possibly from one performance to the next.

The same applies to much popular music - someone wanting to make their own version will usually go back to the original rather than taking someone else's version as a starting point (not least for copyright reasons).

Even with jazz, about which I know little, my impression of it is that a piece will consist of an established theme around which the musicians will improvise. Again, they will undoubtedly be influenced by other musicians' interpretations, but the starting point is the original theme.

Of course, in all genres there are people who break the rules, or who knowingly make reference to another's version.

The difference with folk music is that in many cases the singers did not have access to the original version, and perhaps didn't have the concept of a "correct" version. They took the version they heard, with the changes and improvements made by previous singers, added their own, and passed it on to other singers, who in turn added their own variations, until we ended up with several widely differing versions of the same song.

It seems to me that there's something recognisably different between that creative process and the creative work of an individual or of composers collaborating together. Not better, not worse, but different.

Glueman, I agree that "enjoyment and understanding does not rest on that one notion" (the folk process), but I don't think anyone is suggesting that it does. It's simply describing the mechanism by which we came to end up with these different versions of the same song. If that's of no interest to you, fine, you can ignore it. I agree there are many other more important reasons for enjoying songs.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 06:55 AM

>> For folk believers The Process is an irreducible creed <<

Not true. For many years there's been an acceptance of the role of printed sources, for example, in disseminating, and quite probably originating, songs. I remember a well-informed poster on another thread estimating that most of the folksongs originating during the 18th and 19th centuries were the work of a couple of a couple of dozen broadside hacks (the older ballads are a much more complicated story, as I've explained already). See below for details of an event which I bet will shed much light on this.

There's plenty of discussion happening on the relative importance of textual evolution through oral process, versus stasis through print. The aforementioned Harry Cox liner notes (pleased to see another couple of sales clocked up here!) says of the song 'Colin and Pheobe' - originally a stage piece dating from 1755 - "the only real differences between traditional versions and the original text is that certain stilted phrases have been translated into more everyday language". Some songs were 'processed' only to a limited degree, others much more so. My musical compadre Gordon Tyrrall wrote an interesting dissertation comparing broadside texts with the corresponding songs from tradition, and examining the 'humanising' effect of oral processing on stodgy, wordy originals.

There's another discussion to be had about the extent to which broadside composers appropriated material from oral tradition and recycled it, sometimes adding their own clumsy moralising codas along the way. And still another discussion as to where the tunes came from - they weren't usually specified on broadsides and can vary dramatically between alternative collected versions.

The argument is highly nuanced. Unfortunately it's been turned into a shouting match on this and other threads by nonsensical and deliberately confrontational statements like "the tradition never existed" and "folk process is a myth".

In the meantime, here's some proper research you can all share in - I can tell you that the debate has begun even before the meeting takes place....

Where Did the Oral Tradition Get its Songs?
An informal seminar on the printed sources of traditional and popular song in
Britain from the 18th to 20th century. Featuring broadsides, chapbooks, garlands,
songsters, sheet music, and other printed materials from bygone ages.
Presented by Steve Roud, Roy Palmer and Steve Gardham, with plenty of original
examples on display
Jointly organised by the Traditional Song Forum and the English Folk Dance & Song
Society
Date: Saturday 10th October 2009; 1.30 – 5.00 pm
Venue: Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regents Park Road, London NW1 7AY (Tel. 0207 485
2206)
Open to all: TSF & EFDSS members free. Visitors £5
The featured items will be on display for inspection from 12 noon
Further details contact Steve Roud on sroud@btinternet.com.

[Synopsis]
In the pre-radio and pre-gramophone days before the turn of the twentieth century,
there were only two ways to learn a song – from hearing someone sing or recite it,
or from a written or printed source.
When the great folksong collectors of the Victorian and Edwardian era started
publishing the songs they had noted from the lips of elderly village singers, they
naturally stressed the role which the Oral Tradition had played in the dissemination
and preservation of traditional song, but they downplayed the equally important
part played by commercially printed materials.
But printers and publishers had long realised that one of the things that the public
wanted was songs, and that they would pay good money to get them. From the
sixteenth century onwards, a vigorous industry existed to cater for this public
demand, which aimed to provide something for every taste, and every pocket.
Broadsides – crudely printed single sheets with the words of a song or two, often
decorated by a woodcut which had only a vague connection with the text – were
printed and sold in huge numbers in city streets and at country fairs. They were
extremely cheap, and an account of a good murder could sell hundreds of thousands
of copies.

There were also chapbooks – little 8-page booklets, often called Garlands – and
songsters, which were slightly more ambitious but still paper-covered and relatively
cheaply printed. There were little toy-books, miniature collections of songs and
nursery rhymes, aimed at children. Further up the social scale, and therefore costing
a lot more, there was a huge trade in sheet music, aimed at the piano-playing,
parlour-singing middle classes, and a wide range of hardback, properly printed songbooks,
with tasteful engravings rather than crude woodcuts. Some publications
concentrated on sentimental songs, others on comic or patriotic themes, and so on.
Many places of entertainment also catered for the public demand for songs. Song
and supper rooms, glee clubs, pleasure gardens, pantomimes, minstrel shows,
musical interludes and farces on the stage, and eventually music halls and variety
theatres, all issued song sheets, booklets or books of the songs they featured. A wide
variety of social clubs and trade societies issued their own song-books, and religious
bodies were formed to publish uplifting songs to counter what they saw as the
morally-damaging effects of popular culture.
So there was no shortage of sources for those who wanted to learn songs, but there
were barriers. If you were a working-class person, for example, could you read?
Could you afford the price of a hardback book? How did you get the tune if you
couldn't read music? If you lived in the country, how did the town-printed materials
get to you? And there are other questions – Were the same types of song included in
all these different formats, or was there any segregation? Were the songs featured
on sheet music, for example, the kind of things that the lower classes wanted to sing,
or were they perhaps too 'educated'? Were there 'hit songs' like today, or just a
mass of undifferentiated material?
In the session Where Did the Oral Tradition Get its Songs? we will be looking at
examples of many of the types of printed materials available to the 18th and 19th
century public, and discussing the part they played in the creation and perpetuation
of our folksong heritage.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: GUEST,A N Other
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 07:04 AM

The first paragraph of THIS REVIEW might help provide a little perspective. The rest is also worth reading for other reasons!


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 07:13 AM

"Irreducible creed"
"My tastes are impossibly broad for you to understand"
"For the first/second time can we stop 'give me an example"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 07:34 AM

Brian - now that is a breath of fresh air.

Howard: They took the version they heard, with the changes and improvements made by previous singers, added their own, and passed it on to other singers, who in turn added their own variations, until we ended up with several widely differing versions of the same song.

Yes. In contemporary terms it's as if, instead of having a James Ford remix and a Venetian Snares remix and an Aphex remix and a Two Lone Swordsmen remix, you had Weatherill reworking something he'd got from Aphex who'd got it from James Ford, and Ford reworking something he'd got from Venetian Snares who'd got it from Ergo Phizmiz, and so on and on. The other difference is that, instead of a couple of dozen big-name producers and DJs doing it as a job, there were hundreds of unknown (and unpaid) singers, doing it for fun.

It's a very different musical world from anything we experience now. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a reality.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 07:34 AM

Someone reinterpreting a piece of classical music will go back to the score. They may be influenced by other interpretations, but they will not make significant changes to the piece, certainly not to the extent that a traditional folk singer might alter a song, possibly from one performance to the next.

The classical tradition is one of sequential historical development of Western Art Music wherein the aesthetics made possible by heavily notated composition lead from one era to the next beginning with Ars Nova and leading through the Renaissance, the Baroque, the Classical, the Romantic to the Modern & post-Modern. But no two performances of any piece from any era can ever be exactly alike; and there are traditional schools of interpretation in which the minutia of nuance in a single phrase carry as great, if not greater, significance than the innumerable variations of Child #2. In another sense, of course, John Cage's 4'33" remains of particular significance.

In improvised musics this is perhaps more evident, though with respect of such crucial works such as Stockhausen's Aus Den Sieben Tagen, the lines blur. The dynamic immediacy of an actual music is of greater significance than its ghost, however so recorded, but the context of playback and the effect in the listeners head is a crucial part of that process too, thus even records and musique concrete carry the same transformational potential.

Everything is change; everything else is just an illusion.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 07:51 AM

It's a very different musical world from anything we experience now. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a reality.

Was it really so very different I wonder? There are more people mixing stuff for fun these days than manage to make a living out of it and their work is just as crucial to both the genre and an understanding of musical process. I used to try to keep up with the developments in hip-hop and drum & bass until it got too much for me - turn round twice and the whole scene has transformed itself; the amateur scene likewise, which very often provided the best stuff. The means and the aesthetic of the thing may well be different, but the humanity of the music - the folk indeed, the language & beauty of the thing - is the essence of all.

One of the most perfect days of the summer was spent sitting with my wife and kids (aged 22 & 28!) in Stanley Park in Blackpool listening to the local drum & bass crews spontaneously pulverising us with their beautiful jams; the moment transfigured with sunshine, and a small but appreciative audience, and in my heart I felt reborn.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 08:01 AM

>> there are traditional schools of interpretation in which the minutia of nuance in a single phrase carry as great, if not greater, significance than the innumerable variations of Child #2 <<

I just don't buy that - one is interpretation, the other is content. Thanks, Howard and Pip for explaining 'process' in non-academic, non-stuffy terms.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: TheSnail
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 08:11 AM

Jim Carroll

Some time ago Bryan Creer was good enough to point out that it really wasn't our decision, and our real committment was to the people we recorded and those who might appreciate what we were lucky enough to find. So yes - we hope to get down to work as soon as the transcriptions are complete.

Indeed I did Jim. My comment was in response to a remark by you something like "better to leave it on the shelf" which I felt was a betrayal of the trust of all the people you had collected from.

I am delighted to hear of all the work you have doen to bring Mikeen McCarthy's songs and stories to a wider audience. I wish you would tell us more about that sort of thing instead of banging on about how the whole UK folk scene is moribund because a Glasgow club finished the evening with Travelling Light and Living Doll. If it was all that bad, why did you stay to the end?

"Is it worth the effort - who gives a toss"?

Lots of people give a toss, like the packed house that turned out for Tommy Peoples at the Lewes Saturday Folk Club last weekend and all the people who turned up for Tom Spiers, Arthur Watson and Tom Shepheard at the Royal Oak last night. Don't let the incoherent ramblings of glueman and SO'P make you think it isn't worth it.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 08:11 AM

If we can avoid the importance of anonymity and agree that The Process doesn't mean incremental proliferation but is a loose term to describe change whether large or small and accept the People is a romantic term born of idealism, I don't think we have an argument.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 08:51 AM

Was it really so very different I wonder?

I think this is the real argument we've been having all along. A number of posters - not just you & gluey - have said things that boil down to if it's not happening now, then it never did happen, and alternatively if it was happening then, then it still does happen. I don't get it. I mean, I can understand people objecting to nostalgia and romanticism and reactionary dreams of jolly old England, but I don't think you have to be a reactionary romantic in order to say people used to do this and they don't any more.

I like the drum and bass story - of course, there are small-f small-p folk processes going on all over the show, and hopefully always will be. But I do think that the particular folk process which works through the words and music of songs has been pretty much defunct for a few years now, at least in England.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 09:14 AM

Anonimity is of no importance at all, it is simply an unfortunate result of the lack of continuity in collecting. We have snapshots of individual singers, rather than a historical record over time.

If a collector of Harry Cox's songs could also have collected the versions from Harry's sources, and from their sources, all the way back to the original composer (whether broadside hack, stage show, ploughman or pitman) then we could observe how these songs evolved over time and how each individual contributed to that evolution. Instead, we can usually only observe how they evolved over space: we can see that different versions of the same song arrived in different locations, but not how they got there.

If modern research is able to uncover the identity of the original composer of a song which has subsequently gone through the folk process, that doesn't suddenly invalidate its credentials as a traditional song. The only reason why recently composed songs usually fail to qualify is that they haven't yet been around long enough for the variations to arise, especially as most singers now have both the mental concept of a "correct" version and the resources to find and learn it. However modern songs can be subject to the folk process and do enter the tradition, and as another thread demonstrates, this is even easier for tunes.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 09:23 AM

"If we can avoid the importance of anonymity"
Why; it is a common factor in folksong, and therefore of significance?
It has been your and your mentor's practice to avoid any awkward questions, (to the extent of demanding that they not be asked). Edicts, laying down laws, unqualified pronouncements = blind faith as far as I can see.
"I don't think we have an argument."
I don't think you do either - agreement at last (but that's not what you meant, is it?)
Another example to chew on ( still hoping for an explanation of Barbara Allen, The Blind Beggar, Unfortunate rake - if not by folk process and oral tradition).
Child gives 2 versions of The Maid and the Palmer (Child 21), both from print, Furnival and Kirkpatrick Sharpe the last published (1880) being a fragment remembered by Sir Walter Scott. Bronson does not include it at all as there are no tunes given for it.
In the late sixties Tom Munnelly recorded a full version of it from Traveller John Reilly, a non-literate traveller from a non-literate community, under the title 'Well Below The Valley'. If not an oral tradition - what?
"I picked up a copy of Sheelagh Douglas's......."
A book! Won't it be lonely or do you intend to buy another one to keep it company?
Hi Bryan;
"better to leave it on the shelf"
Never an intention of ours Bryan, just a feeling I get regularly from mind-numbing nonsense such as this.
Our wish to proliferate our material is evidenced by our CDs of field recordings and the fact that all our collection is freely available for access, albeit in (several) archives at present.
"Travelling Light and Living Doll"
Have always accepted that there are good clubs such as your own - my question is - how many - and why do we always seem to stumble over the shitty ones?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 09:56 AM

one is interpretation, the other is content.

Indeed, but both are determined by musical process and result in a similar level of diversification and musical difference, at least to those with ears to hear. I delight in how many different versions of particular song I might collect and just how different those versions are - like the 1971 BBC recording of Gong's Tropical Fish / Selene which takes it into very different territory indeed, very dark, but not quite as dark as that which appears on the Glastonbury Fayre side. Traditional Standards, like Jazz Standards, go off in all directions, but to what extent is content determined by interpretation in such a music?

I don't think you have to be a reactionary romantic in order to say people used to do this and they don't any more.

Indeed; my point all along is that it isn't happening any more to those sorts of songs and the particular tradition which gave us those songs is long dead. Musical process has always happened though, and will always happen as long people play music.

To quote myself from another forum (Sept 2007):

We lovers of traditional song are not so much the keepers of a tradition, rather the volunteer curators of a museum, entrusted with the preservation of a few precious, priceless and irreplaceable artefacts: hand-crafted tools we no longer know the names of (let alone what they were actually used for) ; hideous masks of woven cornstalks (which are invariably assumed to be pagan) ; and hoary cases of singular taxidermy wherein beasts long extinct are depicted in a natural habitat long since vanished.

Not only is such a museum a beacon for the naturally curious, it's a treasure in and of itself, an anachronism in age of instant (and invariable soulless) gratification, and as such under constant threat by those who want to see it revamped; cleaned up with computerised displays and interactive exhibits and brought into line with the rest of commodified cultural presently on offer.

But not only is this museum is our collective Pit-Rivers, it is a museum which, in itself, is just as much an artefact of a long-vanished era as the objects it contains. It is delicate, and crumbling, but those who truly love it wouldn't have it any other way - and quite rightly so.   

The traditional songs are already dead; they're as dead as the traditional singers that sang them and the traditional cultures to which they once belonged; they're as dead as fecking dodos the lot of them - but we must never forget...

Don't let the incoherent ramblings of glueman and SO'P make you think it isn't worth it.

And thus we find the Sycophantic Mollusc leaving his wretchedly non-constructive divisive slime-trail where e'er he slithers! And for what it's worth - I do give a toss. So slither off and pour your bitter bile elsewhere before someone stamps on your sorry arse.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 10:23 AM

"And thus we find the Sycophantic Mollusc leaving his wretchedly non-constructive divisive slime-trail where e'er he slithers"
I seem to remember Bryan is the organiser of one of the better clubs in the revival - please don't forget we've been 'blessed' with the opportunity of hearing your singing.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: TheSnail
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 10:43 AM

Jim Carroll

and why do we always seem to stumble over the shitty ones?

You do seem to have a talent for it. Perhaps a little more research before you make the trip?

I seem to remember Bryan is the organiser of one of the better clubs in the revival

Only one of an extended committee. See Lewes Saturday Folk Club. My position on the list of residents is purely alphabetical.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 10:47 AM

>> a similar level of diversification and musical difference, at least to those with ears to hear <<

My ears must be playing up. 'Elphin Knight'; 'Scarborough Fair'; 'Sing Ivy': different tunes, different texts, different plotlines.

cf "minutia of nuance in a single phrase"

...not the same thing at all. Nor is improvisatory jazz. Nor is the reinterpretation by a single musician or group of their own compositions (though I'd be interested to hear those Gong recordings, of course).


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 12:45 PM

"please don't forget we've been 'blessed' with the opportunity of hearing your singing"

And if you're capable of these unprovoked outbursts, why shouldn't we believe everything else you say isn't bollocks too JC? Sounds like ad hominem first and last, with a few vague musings in between to me. Folk studies as weapon, an interesting if deeply unpleasant notion.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 12:55 PM

please don't forget we've been 'blessed' with the opportunity of hearing your singing.

On my trophy shelf is a wee shield for 3rd Prize in Traditional Unaccompanied Male Singing from Rothbury Festival 1991 - stiff competition too as I recall though memory of the event is hazy on account of dropping a tab of acid an hour or so earlier, little realising that my friend would insist on me singing. Acid Folk!

Anyone can hear my singing, old man - it's up there on my myspace page - www.myspace.com/sedayne - including my all-new rendering of The Names of the Hare on which I accompany myself on medieval harp. Check it out!


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 01:00 PM

It depends on what a museum is. Some people get excited by looking at great paintings and saying "I'd like to do that." Does that make someone musty? Why can't we find artists who can paint like they did in the Renaissance period and have that reflect current values?
There's too much emphasis on time periods and less on quality of the product.

Why not honor traditions? Why say they don't relate to the current emotions and ideas?

Why is there such a preoccupation for being as the French say, "Au courant"?

The reasons we like folk music (the collective "we") is that it is a tradition that we honor.
If you don't honor tradition, that's o.k. too. But that's not then what folk is about.

Tradition exists because the best artistic product is preserved, honored and recognized as quality. People are affected by traditions in music because they have something that's unique but substantial. When you listen to a performance by a traditional folk singer, they are expressing in a unique way a value from another time.   This doesn't mean it doesn't translate into contemporary times.

There is this cult of "originality" and "individuality" that implies that unless it is somehow
connected to contemporary ideas and "sprouts out of the ground" like a snowflake that somehow it's derivative and not valuable. Most of these styles of artistic proclamations
emanate in a specious way. "Look at me, I'm different!" But this difference is not really
evident because we are all connected to the past artistically, ideologically and just because we are creatures of habit.

An artistic performance defies time periods.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 03:33 PM

"And if you're capable of these unprovoked outbursts, why shouldn't we believe everything else you say isn't bollocks too "
"
"And thus we find the Sycophantic Mollusc leaving his wretchedly non-constructive divisive slime-trail where e'er he slithers"
"On my trophy shelf is a wee shield for 3rd Prize in Traditional Unaccompanied Male Singing from Rothbury Festival 1991"
Bryan; there you have a full vindication of my scepticism of the present state of the revival.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: glueman
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 04:27 PM

Or the way elderly white males behave when they've found a hobby horse high enough for even their elevated views.


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 04:40 PM

Jim C: as a 'not quite newbie now' to this folk song lark (nearing a year) SO'P continues to remain one of the most interesting and indeed inspiring singers I've heard. And according to some of the young and more interesting folk bands I've (albeit briefly) brushed up against, he appears to go down rather well in fact. My deep suspicion is that that might be, because he's actually rather good at what he does...

As to "Who gives a toss?" Well, I think you do some of your fellow contributors a rather large disservice here. It's clear (and been stated as such) that members here at least, do give a toss! While a few might disagree with your view, they surely wouldn't be wasting otherwise profitable time debating such matters with you, if they *didn't care?*

You are clearly a deeply passionate and learned man in your subject. But you also tend to come across in a somewhat alienating *manner*. Some weeks ago I reviewed the old classic film 'Goodbye Mr. Chips', and I'm afraid to say, rather like the eponymous Chips, that your on-line personality could easily push possible younger enthusiasts away from even beginning to listen you out.

If you don't like the 'pop' that you hear (which IS encouraging new voices), I'd humbly suggest that you stop grumping about it and provide a substantial alternative for those young enthusiasts out there who will be more than interested in learning from solid resources. Get those Critics teaching materials online. It's never been a riper time. Carpe Diem!


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Subject: RE: What is The Tradition?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 04:48 PM

Eh! Well I've just re-read that last post I made, and it sounds as bloody grumpy as any of the traddy grumps on Mudcat - when in fact I'm quite jolly tonight! Just shows you how badly the written word communicates nuances of mood... Pax!


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