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The Folk Process

Related threads:
Folk Process - is it dead? (244)
what is the Folk Process (35)
Steps in the Folk Process (54)
The New Folk Process (youtube link) (19)
What does the term 'folk process' mean? (23)


The Sandman 08 Sep 09 - 03:12 AM
GUEST 08 Sep 09 - 03:18 AM
Howard Jones 08 Sep 09 - 03:39 AM
theleveller 08 Sep 09 - 03:52 AM
greg stephens 08 Sep 09 - 03:57 AM
MGM·Lion 08 Sep 09 - 04:23 AM
Howard Jones 08 Sep 09 - 04:51 AM
GUEST, Sminky 08 Sep 09 - 05:08 AM
glueman 08 Sep 09 - 05:16 AM
Jack Blandiver 08 Sep 09 - 05:46 AM
Howard Jones 08 Sep 09 - 05:54 AM
Richard Bridge 08 Sep 09 - 05:59 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 08 Sep 09 - 06:00 AM
The Sandman 08 Sep 09 - 06:25 AM
Jack Blandiver 08 Sep 09 - 06:30 AM
GUEST,Mr Red 08 Sep 09 - 06:33 AM
Howard Jones 08 Sep 09 - 06:34 AM
MGM·Lion 08 Sep 09 - 06:37 AM
Howard Jones 08 Sep 09 - 06:42 AM
Howard Jones 08 Sep 09 - 07:03 AM
Jack Campin 08 Sep 09 - 07:11 AM
BobKnight 08 Sep 09 - 07:11 AM
glueman 08 Sep 09 - 07:14 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Sep 09 - 07:25 AM
Jack Blandiver 08 Sep 09 - 07:31 AM
The Sandman 08 Sep 09 - 07:49 AM
Jack Campin 08 Sep 09 - 07:51 AM
The Sandman 08 Sep 09 - 07:54 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 08 Sep 09 - 08:07 AM
Jack Blandiver 08 Sep 09 - 01:12 PM
Jack Campin 08 Sep 09 - 01:22 PM
Brian Peters 08 Sep 09 - 01:28 PM
Jamming With Ollie Beak (inactive) 08 Sep 09 - 01:31 PM
Brian Peters 08 Sep 09 - 01:37 PM
The Sandman 08 Sep 09 - 01:44 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Sep 09 - 01:48 PM
Goose Gander 08 Sep 09 - 01:50 PM
MGM·Lion 08 Sep 09 - 01:54 PM
Jamming With Ollie Beak (inactive) 08 Sep 09 - 01:56 PM
Jack Campin 08 Sep 09 - 02:08 PM
Jamming With Ollie Beak (inactive) 08 Sep 09 - 02:13 PM
theleveller 08 Sep 09 - 02:32 PM
GUEST,Sedayne (Astray) (S O'P) 08 Sep 09 - 03:13 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Sep 09 - 03:32 PM
Brian Peters 08 Sep 09 - 03:33 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Sep 09 - 04:07 PM
Jamming With Ollie Beak (inactive) 08 Sep 09 - 04:42 PM
glueman 08 Sep 09 - 04:52 PM
Goose Gander 08 Sep 09 - 05:41 PM
McGrath of Harlow 08 Sep 09 - 06:11 PM
Jack Campin 08 Sep 09 - 06:20 PM
Howard Jones 09 Sep 09 - 03:41 AM
theleveller 09 Sep 09 - 04:15 AM
Jack Blandiver 09 Sep 09 - 04:21 AM
Jack Blandiver 09 Sep 09 - 04:40 AM
theleveller 09 Sep 09 - 05:51 AM
The Sandman 09 Sep 09 - 06:17 AM
Jack Campin 09 Sep 09 - 06:44 AM
Spleen Cringe 09 Sep 09 - 08:18 AM
MGM·Lion 09 Sep 09 - 09:23 AM
McGrath of Harlow 09 Sep 09 - 09:41 AM
The Sandman 09 Sep 09 - 10:27 AM
Jack Campin 09 Sep 09 - 11:31 AM
Howard Jones 09 Sep 09 - 12:19 PM
The Sandman 09 Sep 09 - 12:46 PM
Geoff Wallis 09 Sep 09 - 01:14 PM
Jack Campin 09 Sep 09 - 01:35 PM
Jack Campin 09 Sep 09 - 01:41 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 Sep 09 - 06:20 PM
Peace 09 Sep 09 - 08:14 PM
Leadfingers 09 Sep 09 - 08:49 PM
Peace 09 Sep 09 - 09:12 PM
Leadfingers 09 Sep 09 - 09:58 PM
Art Thieme 09 Sep 09 - 10:12 PM
MGM·Lion 09 Sep 09 - 11:13 PM
Spleen Cringe 10 Sep 09 - 03:14 AM
Howard Jones 10 Sep 09 - 04:35 AM
The Sandman 10 Sep 09 - 10:19 AM
MGM·Lion 10 Sep 09 - 10:48 AM
MGM·Lion 10 Sep 09 - 10:50 AM
glueman 10 Sep 09 - 11:03 AM
GUEST, Sminky 10 Sep 09 - 11:08 AM
glueman 10 Sep 09 - 11:24 AM
The Sandman 10 Sep 09 - 12:46 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Sep 09 - 12:47 PM
The Sandman 10 Sep 09 - 01:17 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Sep 09 - 04:13 PM
Jack Blandiver 10 Sep 09 - 05:26 PM
Jack Campin 10 Sep 09 - 05:31 PM
GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie 10 Sep 09 - 05:42 PM
Cleverthreads (inactive) 10 Sep 09 - 05:48 PM
Stringsinger 10 Sep 09 - 06:16 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Sep 09 - 06:46 PM
glueman 11 Sep 09 - 03:33 AM
The Sandman 11 Sep 09 - 04:57 AM
GUEST, Sminky 11 Sep 09 - 05:32 AM
The Sandman 11 Sep 09 - 06:15 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 11 Sep 09 - 07:06 AM
GUEST, Sminky 11 Sep 09 - 07:23 AM
Howard Jones 11 Sep 09 - 07:40 AM
The Sandman 11 Sep 09 - 07:46 AM
Howard Jones 11 Sep 09 - 07:51 AM
Tug the Cox 11 Sep 09 - 07:58 AM
MGM·Lion 11 Sep 09 - 08:10 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 11 Sep 09 - 08:29 AM
glueman 11 Sep 09 - 08:31 AM
The Sandman 11 Sep 09 - 08:33 AM
The Sandman 11 Sep 09 - 08:51 AM
Brian Peters 11 Sep 09 - 09:16 AM
Howard Jones 11 Sep 09 - 09:33 AM
glueman 11 Sep 09 - 09:54 AM
The Sandman 11 Sep 09 - 10:02 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Sep 09 - 10:45 AM
glueman 11 Sep 09 - 10:56 AM
Howard Jones 11 Sep 09 - 11:22 AM
MGM·Lion 11 Sep 09 - 11:33 AM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 11 Sep 09 - 11:53 AM
Goose Gander 11 Sep 09 - 12:01 PM
glueman 11 Sep 09 - 12:04 PM
The Sandman 11 Sep 09 - 12:17 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 11 Sep 09 - 12:21 PM
GUEST, Sminky 11 Sep 09 - 12:33 PM
glueman 11 Sep 09 - 12:40 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Sep 09 - 12:41 PM
glueman 11 Sep 09 - 12:44 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Sep 09 - 12:45 PM
Goose Gander 11 Sep 09 - 12:48 PM
The Sandman 11 Sep 09 - 12:48 PM
glueman 11 Sep 09 - 01:03 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Sep 09 - 01:22 PM
Goose Gander 11 Sep 09 - 01:25 PM
glueman 11 Sep 09 - 01:45 PM
glueman 11 Sep 09 - 01:48 PM
The Sandman 11 Sep 09 - 01:55 PM
Goose Gander 11 Sep 09 - 02:03 PM
Goose Gander 11 Sep 09 - 02:12 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Sep 09 - 02:28 PM
glueman 11 Sep 09 - 02:45 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Sep 09 - 03:02 PM
glueman 11 Sep 09 - 03:04 PM
The Sandman 11 Sep 09 - 03:35 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 11 Sep 09 - 04:15 PM
Goose Gander 11 Sep 09 - 04:19 PM
Art Thieme 11 Sep 09 - 04:27 PM
MGM·Lion 11 Sep 09 - 04:33 PM
Tug the Cox 11 Sep 09 - 07:59 PM
MGM·Lion 12 Sep 09 - 12:32 AM
The Sandman 12 Sep 09 - 08:00 AM
glueman 12 Sep 09 - 12:03 PM
Art Thieme 12 Sep 09 - 01:39 PM
The Sandman 12 Sep 09 - 01:51 PM
The Sandman 13 Sep 09 - 07:24 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Sep 09 - 07:48 AM
theleveller 14 Sep 09 - 04:15 AM
glueman 14 Sep 09 - 04:21 AM
The Sandman 14 Sep 09 - 04:44 AM
Phil Edwards 14 Sep 09 - 05:02 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 14 Sep 09 - 05:20 AM
glueman 14 Sep 09 - 05:33 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Sep 09 - 06:20 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Sep 09 - 06:31 AM
glueman 14 Sep 09 - 07:34 AM
theleveller 14 Sep 09 - 07:34 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Sep 09 - 08:10 AM
Stringsinger 14 Sep 09 - 08:43 AM
The Sandman 14 Sep 09 - 10:01 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 14 Sep 09 - 01:36 PM
Jack Blandiver 14 Sep 09 - 01:39 PM
glueman 14 Sep 09 - 01:40 PM
theleveller 14 Sep 09 - 02:50 PM
Brian Peters 14 Sep 09 - 02:53 PM
glueman 14 Sep 09 - 03:07 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 14 Sep 09 - 03:16 PM
Jack Blandiver 14 Sep 09 - 03:22 PM
Brian Peters 14 Sep 09 - 04:00 PM
glueman 14 Sep 09 - 04:12 PM
Brian Peters 14 Sep 09 - 05:05 PM
GUEST 14 Sep 09 - 05:40 PM
theleveller 15 Sep 09 - 03:47 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 15 Sep 09 - 04:49 AM
theleveller 15 Sep 09 - 07:25 AM
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Subject: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 03:12 AM

How important is it as an ingredient in what defines a folk song,or if you prefer,a song that is compatible with the accepted traditional repertoire?


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 03:18 AM

Definition of your terms please.

accepted
folk
song
traditional
repertoire
ingredient
important


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Howard Jones
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 03:39 AM

I am one of those who believe it is the crucial factor in identifying a folk song. There are plenty of very good songs which are perfectly compatible with the traditional repertoire, but until they have gone through the "folk process" and developed recognisable variants they cannot be "folk songs".


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: theleveller
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 03:52 AM

I don't understand the question. What is the folk process and what is a traditional repertoire? And how come I've enjoyed 45 years listening to and performing folk songs without knowing?


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: greg stephens
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 03:57 AM

In my book, the "folk proces" is the essential part of any definition of folk. If a song has fixed words and tune, it is not a folk song. Simple. Obviously, other people have other opinions and think all sorts of fixed songs can be called folksongs. Well, that is their privilege. Top err is human.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 04:23 AM

I don't think we can entirely escape the 1954 statement, ESPECIALLY   the existence-of-variant-versions requirement. It is something that non-folkies don't understand ? I once many years ago played my father the Copper Family's Presents Song - ie their version of The 12 Days Of Xmas, & he was genuinely distressed and disorientated: "But that is an absolutely standard song that everybody knows" he kept saying. Whereas we all know about versions, the oral tradition, and so on; and it is to a huge extent the existence of variants that bespeaks to us the true traditionality of a song, tale, dance, &c, however any particular individual might perform or choose to accompany it and in whatever style.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Howard Jones
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 04:51 AM

Leveller, the "folk process" is the process of oral transmission of a song during which changes (conscious or unconscious on the part of the singer) take place and different variants arise.

Using the term "folk song" in a technical sense, this process is an essential characteristic. However the term has come to have a broader meaning which defies precise definition but which arouses strong passions, at least on Mudcat. Nowadays many people prefer the term "traditional song" to mean one which has gone through the folk process, to differentiate it from "folk song" in the wider popular meaning.

There are numerous threads debating these topics ad nauseam, usually without coming to any concensus. I suspect this one will be no different. If you must, try searching for "what is folk?" or "1954 definition".


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 05:08 AM

Variants are evidence that a song has been passed on orally over time/distance. They are therefore an indication of longevity - nothing more.

However, where once there was only a single means of transmission, today we have TV, iPods, WWW, CDs and YouTube to name but a few.

If you believe that a song must change before it can be called a 'folk' song then it follows that you must also believe there can be no new folksongs - and I wish you well.

However, there are some of us who reject this 'rear-view-mirror' mentality and rejoice in the enrichment of the folk repertoire by modern creations.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 05:16 AM

There you have it Sminky.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 05:46 AM

I don't think we can entirely escape the 1954 statement,

Not around here you can't anyway, MtheGM - a not altogether unexpected state of affairs given the autistically intransigent Cultural Fundamentalism that is is the defining factor of the Folk Revival. What is The Folk Process anyway? Or rather - what was it? What were its laws? What were its mechanisms? Sure the evidence is there, but the interpretation of that evidence seems to overlook the fundamentals, seeing humanity in terms of its collective objectivity rather than its individual subjectivity.

This is a fundamental flaw of not just TFP and the 1954 Definition but also the foundation of the folk song revival as a whole - in effect a social condescension which saw these grubby rustics as passive carriers of a cultural phenomenon they couldn't possibly understand, rather than the active determinators of that phenomenon that they most surely were. Could, therefore, our entire concept of The Folk Process (and the 1954 Defination) have its roots in the sloppy, selective & agenda driven field-work on the part of the early collectors who saw the songs as being of greater significance than their lowly, ill-educated singers? Perish the very thought!


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Howard Jones
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 05:54 AM

Sminky, variants are also evidence of a unique creative process, one which is not the work of an individual or people working in collaboration, but the work of a series of people each bringing their own individuality not only to the performance but to the actual structure of the song.

Of course modern creations can enrich the repertoire, and I sing a good many myself. It's not impossible for newly-created songs to become "folk songs" in time - it's happened with John Connolly's "Fiddlers Green" and a number of Ewan McColl's songs, for example. It's perhaps more difficult than it was, because we have a mental concept of a "correct" version of a song and easy access to printed or recorded sources to verify the correct version, but it's not impossible.

Modern creations have always enriched the folk repertoire - where do you think the songs came from? Some were undoubtedly created by now-unknown "folk", while others can be traced back to popular music of the time. In both cases, it is the evolution of the songs as they are passed on which makes them "folk songs". Most singers included both popular and traditional songs in their repertoire, and some (Walter Pardon for example) made a clear distinction between them. However, quite often music hall and other relatively recent popular songs found in the repertoires of traditional singers varied from the originals, so you could say they were going through the folk process.

There seems to be a feeling in all these discussions that by making a distinction between songs which have gone through the folk process and modern creations, we are somehow saying that the modern creations are not worthy. That's not the case. All we are saying is that traditional songs have a particular characteristic - they have shown longevity precisely because they have appealed to successive generations of singers, each of whom has left their own imprint, not just in interpretation but also on the structure of the song itself. I happen to think that makes those songs particularly interesting. A modern song, no matter how fine, has still to do that.

I find it helpful to be able to differentiate the two, just as Walter Pardon did. But when it comes down to songs I wish to sing or to listen to, there are only good songs and bad songs, and they can come from either category.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 05:59 AM

Howard, you are right. Leveller did not know because he did not and does not want to know, and Sminky overlooks that songs do still change, despite recording media. Sweeney O'Pibroch for some unfathomable reason is devoted to gymnastics of thought entirely to deny the nature of folk arts.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 06:00 AM

Ah! So those were the 'thought crmes' that you were hoping to accuse us of in the other thread that you started were they, SO'P?

- Autistically intransigent Cultural Fundamentalism.

- Social condescension.

- Supporting sloppy, selective & agenda driven field workers.

I don't know - the lengths that some people will go to to get their favourite music admitted to the folk canon!


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 06:25 AM

absolutely spot on, Sminky.
logically[Using Howards logic] a song like Caledonia becomes a folk song,because Dougie decided to change a verse,yet Ewan MacColls Freeborn Man,hasnt because no one has changed it,that is ridiculous.
what one should make clear,is that it is one of the ingredients but not the sole defining point,that a song can be a Folk song without it being folk processed.there are other factors that are important
in the Computer age,and in the future,songs will and are being learned orally via the computer,people can go back and check the words of a new song in minute detail.
so the accidental changing of words could well disappear.
does that mean the only new folk songs will be modern songs that have been deliberately altered, if that is the case logically I could claim
That if I [for example ]altered the words of Sailortown, or The January Man that makes it a folk song but if it isnt altered it cant be a folk song.
no ,that will not do ,we must also look at why traditional folk songs have survived,it is not solely to do with the fact they have been folk processed,it is do with quality,those that were no good have been forgotten.
also if one follows Howards logic further ,modern songs could not become a folk song until they have passed a certain amount of years duration,what does this have to be ten years,25 years, fifty?.
no the folk process is only a part ingredient,one cannot rule out a quality song ,and say it is not a folk song just because the words are so well written and timeless that no one can improve them


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 06:30 AM

Sweeney O'Pibroch for some unfathomable reason is devoted to gymnastics of thought entirely to deny the nature of folk arts.

More to clarify their nature actually.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST,Mr Red
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 06:33 AM

The Folk Process is being there and doing it

what happens then is the frailty of the human cerebelum and Mondegreens.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Howard Jones
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 06:34 AM

SOP, you refer to "a social condescension which saw these grubby rustics as passive carriers of a cultural phenomenon they couldn't possibly understand, rather than the active determinators of that phenomenon that they most surely were. Could, therefore, our entire concept of The Folk Process (and the 1954 Defination) have its roots in the sloppy, selective & agenda driven field-work on the part of the early collectors who saw the songs as being of greater significance than their lowly, ill-educated singers?"

Surely Sharp came to the opposite conclusions - he says that "folk songs originated among those who play and sing it; that it is the product of the folk muse, and that neither the skilled musician nor his compositions have inspired its creation". He goes on to argue that songs which originate from an individual are then shaped by the community. Sharp's (admittedly romantic) view of the primitive peasant untouched by outside influences was not to deny their creativity, rather to say that they possessed a particular kind of creativity which truly expressed their inherent native culture without having been contaminated by other ideas.

Sharp's language can appear patronising to modern ears, and ideas about the original sources of folk songs have moved on. It is also true that his fieldwork was selective by modern standards, and he had an agenda. However his "Conclusions" were centred around the idea of these "grubby rustics" creating and developing their songs, rather than being mere passive carriers of them.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 06:37 AM

Yes one can Dick. It's not just a matter of QUALITY, it's also a matter of CATEGORY and of accepted DEFINITION.

I happen to think that 'Les Sylphides', Diaghilev Ballet, 1910, music Chopin, choreography Michel Fokine, is a wonderful dance creation. And I happen also to like Folk Dance. But the QUALITY of the first doesn't in itself make it the second, does it! And would you want it to?

Unless that is we are to go back to that BLOODY HORSE of Satchmo's or Broonzy's or whoever the smartarse was who thought he'd said something profound when all he has said was bollox... 'a DREARY axiom' as Bert Lloyd called it.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Howard Jones
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 06:42 AM

"what happens then is the frailty of the human cerebelum and Mondegreens."

That's a rather negative and degenerative view. Of course, forgetfulness and misunderstandings play their part, but often a singer would make deliberate changes, adding or subtracting to make the story more understandable or better to sing.

There is also evidence that many of them did not have a fixed idea of either text or tune, and would "make it up as they went along", not in the dismissive modern sense but more in the way of a good storyteller or comedian, who will create their tale around a fixed structure of events, but never the same way twice.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Howard Jones
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 07:03 AM

Dick, the folk process is just that, a process. If Dougie Maclean changes the words to Caledonia or you change the words to The January Man, that alone doesn't turn them into folk songs. It may be the start of the folk process, and if others take up the changed versions and especially if they make further changes of their own, then they will turn into folk songs.

That takes time. You know perfectly well it is a nonsense to suggest a timescale. It could be only weeks or months, more likely it will take years, but a song doesn't automatically become a folk song only after a fixed period of time.

Let me turn the question round. If you do not admit the folk process, what do you consider distinguishes a folk song from other types of song?


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 07:11 AM

There seems to be a feeling in all these discussions that by making a distinction between songs which have gone through the folk process and modern creations, we are somehow saying that the modern creations are not worthy. That's not the case. All we are saying is that traditional songs have a particular characteristic - they have shown longevity precisely because they have appealed to successive generations of singers, each of whom has left their own imprint, not just in interpretation but also on the structure of the song itself. I happen to think that makes those songs particularly interesting. A modern song, no matter how fine, has still to do that.

The process can take place very quickly, and usually does with children's songs. Longevity doesn't come into it. Look at the discussion here on folk-processed versions of the Barney the Dinosaur song.

The drug-culture parody of "American Pie" was being sung in New Zealand within months of the original song coming out. This is a Scottish version of it (adapted to fit a footballer whose career terminated in a series of drug scandals) from more than 20 years later: Stephane Paille.   It's swum off and joined the ecosystem of traditional song. Maybe somebody here has one of the earlier versions?   I didn't note down the one I heard in NZ.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: BobKnight
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 07:11 AM

Although I've been on the general music scene for a looooong time, It's only in the last five or six that I've come back to the folk/tradition scene.

Therefore as a relatively "fresh" eye, it seems to me that some people have a need to put down borders and definitions to everything. What is Folk, what is traditional, etc, etc? If you don't recognise it when you hear it.....


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 07:14 AM

"If you don't recognise it when you hear it....."

Bob, entire swathes of Mudcat is devoted to trying to prove folk is anything but what you hear. Fortunately you and I know better.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 07:25 AM

"And how come I've enjoyed 45 years listening....."
Enjoyment is a matter of personal taste; it is not a defining factor.
Longevity has no part in the equasion whatever.
Irish Travellers were singing newly composed folk songs of their own making right up to the disappearance of their singing tradition in the mid-seventies.
Acceptance, absorption into and adaptation by a community is what makes a folk song, not whether it has been around for a long time (like Rule Brittania, say.)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 07:31 AM

what happens then is the frailty of the human cerebelum and Mondegreens.

I refuse to accept that some of the most perfect poetic literature ever produced is the result of frailty and randomness. This is an insult to the mastery of the song-makers to whom we owe everything. Yes - there is frailty, and there are Mondegreens, but there is, above all, a tradition of purposeful creative genius, adaptation, transfiguration, inventiveness and reductive refinement which is all but denied by The Revival.

Unless that is we are to go back to that BLOODY HORSE of Satchmo's or Broonzy's or whoever the smartarse was who thought he'd said something profound when all he has said was bollox... 'a DREARY axiom' as Bert Lloyd called it.

A far more dreary axiom, IMHO, is the 1954 Definition. However so silent, The Bloody Horse is at least still playful and frisky. Not bollocks, especially as all music can, in truth, be seen as Traditional Music, even using the dusty regulations of the 1954. Again I quote the aims of The International Council for Traditional Music (formerly the International Folk Music Council who gave us the 1954 Definition in the first place): to further the study, practice, documentation, preservation and dissemination of traditional music, including folk, popular, classical and urban music, and dance of all countries.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 07:49 AM

to continue my view point,lets take the tunes tradition.
nobody turns round and points at the northumbrian tradition and says the following tunes are compositions and have not been folk processed and are therefore not folk tunes:
barrington hornpipe.
bonny cragside.redesdale hornpipe,archies fancy,high level bridge hornpipe,rothbury hills,nancy,the lass of falstone,billcharltons fancy,the herd on the hill.
nor do irish musicians exclude,the home ruler,the congress reel, or ocarolans compositions.
the trouble with Howards definition is it makes a fetish out of the folk process.Quite anumber of traditional folksingers particularly ,very occasionbaly made up their own words and tunes of a character quite in distinguishable from the genuine tradtional songs.there is no guarantee that all documentation of folksongs is correct at any time and if value is to be judged by the process rather than the merits or faults of a song,then we would end up saying that is not a folk songbecause there are very few versions and it has not been processed song.
when a field collector records a folk singer,he accepts or rejects items as folk songs according to whether they are in the universal idiom or not_- but if he accepted one or another song in this way and is then told by the singer that it is in fact his own authorship,the collector will automatically stop calling it a folk song.,on the other hand if the singer pretends its a song learned from his grandad,then the song remains a folk song.but the collector has been fooled which proves that the song is already a folk song which has miracuously skipped the folk process.
this is what John A Brune was out to prove when he tricked MacColl[RadioBallads].
since folksongs are so hard to define[even for A L Loyd]perhaps we should judge the songs on good taste and lasting value,this is what musicians appear to be doing with tunes,
musicians do not say half the northumbrian tradition is composed and not been folk processed,so it is not a folk tune,or the Congress Reel,and the Home ruler are modern and have not been FolkProcessed so they are not folk tunes.,or [god forbid]OCarolan has not been rewritten by Frankie Gavin,so his composotions are not folk tunes


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 07:51 AM

some people have a need to put down borders and definitions to everything. What is Folk, what is traditional, etc, etc? If you don't recognise it when you hear it....

That's not quite what's going on. The idea of valuing variation by a community as a creative form is alien to the world of MCPS-enforced copyrighted popular music (and of mainstream art music until quite recently). Saying that there is something distinctive about music that's been through some such intervention is a step towards recognizing the artistic creativity of people who are marginalized by the commercial music market. As far as the pop industry is concerned, those drug-culture parodies of "American Pie" and playground versions of "I Love You" are just plain wrong. (Ultimately the reason the industry tries to enforce a perception of them as wrong is simply that they can't collect payment for them). As far as we pompous authoritarian folk police are concerned, they're a fucking gas.

It goes further than freedom of expression. It's about listening to what is expressed in creative impulses that are beyond the policed and standardized world of the market, and valuing it.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 07:54 AM

Howard ,I never said I do not admit the folk process,my viewpioint is that it is only one of the ingredients,and that to say it is the sole ingredient is a mistake.
I have illustrated why it is amistake to make a fetish out of it.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 08:07 AM

"Again I quote the aims of The International Council for Traditional Music (formerly the International Folk Music Council who gave us the 1954 Definition in the first place): to further the study, practice, documentation, preservation and dissemination of traditional music, including folk, popular, classical and urban music, and dance of all countries."

You can quote this as much as you like, SO'P, but it's a set of "AIMS" - not a definition. Nowhere does it state that "folk, popular, classical and urban music" are identical or equivalent forms. As I read it the ICoTM have just widened their aims and objectives - not abandoned the distinction between folk music and other types of music.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 01:12 PM

No one said it's a definition, Shimmy. Rather, the statement of such aims would suggest that the ICTM regard folk, popular, classical & urban musics as being Traditional. Maybe we might like to explore the differences, therefore, between Folk Music and Traditional Music. Even the 1954 definition in no way accounts for a music in terms of its genre, rather states a formulae by which any music might be considered a Folk Music, and, by implication, a Traditional Music according to processes which are, in fact, common to all musics, which can be, and probably are, Folk Musics in the sense of the 1954 Definition, depending on how we might define such nebulous concepts as community which, in recent folkloric terms can be as a few as two people. If any two people can have their own folkloric traditions, or their own language (as can be demonstrated) they can also have their own Folk Music.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 01:22 PM

Maybe we might like to explore the differences, therefore, between Folk Music and Traditional Music.

Or maybe we might want to discover something interesting about music itself, rather than get trolled into pompous superficial arguments kicked off by people who never explain why they're so devoted to stirring shit.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Brian Peters
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 01:28 PM

"I refuse to accept that some of the most perfect poetic literature ever produced is the result of frailty and randomness. This is an insult to the mastery of the song-makers to whom we owe everything."

So were the hundreds of ballad variants all written by the same master song-maker (a perfectionist who couldn't stop redrafting, perhaps?), or by hundreds of master song-makers who were either plagiarising one another or else coming up with remarkably similar ideas by pure coincidence?

(PS: as you well know, the 'Folk Process' is not just about "frailty and randomness", and no-one says it is)


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jamming With Ollie Beak (inactive)
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 01:31 PM

Or maybe we might want to actually play the music, rather than get trolled into pompous superficial arguments (a novel idea, I know)

Charlotte Olivia Robertson (Ms)


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Brian Peters
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 01:37 PM

...and maybe we might want to play music and talk about it - though not necessarily simultaneously.

(It amuses me no end when people take the trouble to type out messages to an online discussion group to mock other people wasting their time by discussing things on said online discussion group!)


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 01:44 PM

well said.Brian.
as a matter of fact I have spent something like three hours today playing music,and tonight I am out to play some more.
Jack Campin,if you dont like it f########## off


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 01:48 PM

"Or maybe we might want to actually play the music, rather than get trolled into pompous superficial arguments (a novel idea, I know)"
And maybe we want to do both - do you want to make the choice for us?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Goose Gander
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 01:50 PM

"This is a fundamental flaw of not just TFP and the 1954 Definition but also the foundation of the folk song revival as a whole - in effect a social condescension which saw these grubby rustics as passive carriers of a cultural phenomenon they couldn't possibly understand, rather than the active determinators of that phenomenon that they most surely were."

You seem very fluent with this material, SO'P. So you should be able to cite chapter and verse to back up this claim. So please give us some citations, particularly in support of your argument that folklorists described traditional ballad singers as "passive carriers of a cultural phenomenon they couldn't possibly understand."

"Could, therefore, our entire concept of The Folk Process (and the 1954 Defination) have its roots in the sloppy, selective & agenda driven field-work on the part of the early collectors who saw the songs as being of greater significance than their lowly, ill-educated singers?"

Who are these early collectors? In what ways was their work "sloppy, selective & agenda-driven"? Let's have names, let's have specific examples.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 01:54 PM

JWOB, if you don't enjoy the analytical aspects of the subjects, nobody is forcing you to read them. Some of us happen to benefit from studying the theories as well as just trolling merrily on without thinking about any of it. Why should you try and discourage us? You get on with your thing, &, if you don't like our approach, just leave us to get on with it without your assistance, OK? What harm would we be doing you if you just didn't bother to read these threads at all - and why do you, if they cause you such distress?


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jamming With Ollie Beak (inactive)
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 01:56 PM

And maybe we want to do both - do you want to make the choice for us?
- a predictable answer from Jim Carroll

I make my own choices, and, unlike some, don't pretend to speak for anyone else.

"Who are these early collectors? In what ways was their work "sloppy, selective & agenda-driven"? Let's have names, let's have specific examples"
- Michael Morris

I'm tempte to take the academic path here and say we want three verifiable sources for each example give.

Charlotte Olivia Robertson (Ms)


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 02:08 PM

as a matter of fact I have spent something like three hours today playing music,and tonight I am out to play some more.
Jack Campin,if you dont like it f########## off


Well I was leading the Sandy Bells session on Sunday for four hours. But I can't get out to play now unless Marion can help carry my instruments - my heart condition has got to the point where I can only walk a couple of hundred yards carrying a small bag. So I'm stuck here a lot. Mainly I'm playing the flute and finalizing versions of files to upload to my website, but in the moments when I'd reading Mudcat I'd rather not feel like that Samuel Beckett character who described life as being forced to eat your own puke, puke it up and eat it again until you got to like it.

You know perfectly well when you're repeating yourself.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jamming With Ollie Beak (inactive)
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 02:13 PM

why do you, if they cause you such distress?
- MtheGM
I had to read that three times before I relised you'd used a very archaic word (distressed) However nothing could be further from the truth. If this weren't yet another variation of the "What Is Folk?" theme, my interest might be there...speaking of repeating yourself...

Charlotte Olivia Robertson (Ms)


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: theleveller
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 02:32 PM

...and after all the definitions, classifications, semantics arguments and fallings-out (falling-outs?)the songs remain and we sing them as we feel is fitting, whether they have been handed down orally or collected and written by Sharp, Child or the ballad sellers whose works form collections like those in the Bodleian - or have come to us via CDs or downloads. Well, that's folk music for you - no respecter of persons.

Enjoy!


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST,Sedayne (Astray) (S O'P)
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 03:13 PM

or by hundreds of master song-makers who were either plagiarising one another or else coming up with remarkably similar ideas by pure coincidence?

In the world of traditional craft such concepts of plagiarism have little meaning. To what extent, for example, could a master cooper of the village of Brancepeth in Country Durham, circa 1830, be said to be plagiarising the work of a master cooper in the village of Reepham in Norfolk in the same year, or thereabouts? Both were time-served tradesmen and both are producing faultless barrels in a centuries old tradition of barrel making which is perhaps all but lost to us now. Ploughmen likewise; etc.

I have a notion that the narrative morphology of folk song & folk tale is hard-wired into the human brain as an essential aspect of our preparedness for the structures of language itself. Levi-Strauss extended this to apply to everything from basic syntax through to the classical sonata form. Whilst this doesn't account for specific instances & analogues, it does account for the necessity that drives such a proliferation.   

and maybe we might want to play music and talk about it - though not necessarily simultaneously.

My thing is to play morris tunes on my old Overton low-D tabor pipe in my left hand whilst tapping the rhythm out on the computer keyboard with my right. Thus my particular brand of rhetorical bullshit is born directly of English Traditional Music. In that bit above there, for example, I was playing the version of Country Gardens learnt many years ago from a Folktrax cassette of Kenworthy Schofield; and now, via a cunning segue, I'm playing The Cuckoos Nest as taught to me by Raymond Greenoaken back in 1982, all the while tapping away with my right hand, never dropping a beat...


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 03:32 PM

When singers change the words or the way a song is sung, conciously or unconsciously, to match the way they are feeling, or the situation, or just because they feel like it, that's part of the folk process - even if they made up the song in the first place.

When this topic comes up, I always find myself reaching for something Sydney Carter wrote (in "Green Print for Song"):

"Having made a song, you sing it...if like me, you seldom sing it the same way twice; fresh possibilities will keep appearing. You change a word, you bend a note; did it work, or didn't it? What you put down, in the end, is nothing but a variant. There is no right version, yet; no fixed version, anyway, not even when you've printed it."

Moreover, the process is liable to continue with other people if they sing the song. And that is something in which Sydney Carter rejoiced, and something in which I think many songwriters rejoice - the sense that something you crafted has come to life and moved out of your control, and stayed alive.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Brian Peters
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 03:33 PM

"Both were time-served tradesmen and both are producing faultless barrels in a centuries old tradition of barrel making which is perhaps all but lost to us now."

Substitute 'song' for 'barrel' and we're almost on the same hymnsheet. 'Plagiarism' was a joke, by the way.

Pipe-and-keyboard: now that's a fine thought!


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 04:07 PM

"a predictable answer from Jim Carroll"
And a predictable response from somebody who appears to want to tell us what are "pompous superficial arguments"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jamming With Ollie Beak (inactive)
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 04:42 PM

"pompous superficial arguments"

I would say everything you post Jim Carroll, but there is no 'everything', it's just the same old same old (worded differently) over and over again, much the same as this thread is the old "What Is Folk" arguement dressed up in new clothing.

Charlotte Olivia Robertson (Ms


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 04:52 PM

What Jim fails to recognise is no matter how many words he throws at our ignorance and his own genius, we're still not buying.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Goose Gander
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 05:41 PM

Still waiting for those citations, SO'P.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 06:11 PM

Why discuss different ways of seeing these things when you can throw insults at people you disagree with about them?

After all, that worked when you were in the school playfround.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 06:20 PM

Moreover, the process is liable to continue with other people if they sing the song. And that is something in which Sydney Carter rejoiced, and something in which I think many songwriters rejoice - the sense that something you crafted has come to life and moved out of your control, and stayed alive.

Hamish Henderson wanted to avoid publishing some of his songs for exactly that reason - he wanted them to take on a life of their own in oral transmission (or, if they couldn't make it that way, vanish). But in the end I don't think he managed to beat the transcribers for any of them.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Howard Jones
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 03:41 AM

"if value is to be judged by the process rather than the merits or faults of a song,then we would end up saying that is not a folk songbecause there are very few versions and it has not been processed song."

Dick, there lies the root of our disagreement. You seem to think that the term "folk song" is somehow a judgement on a song's quality. It's not, and neither I nor any of the others arguing for it are using it in that way. The definition of a "folk song" is simply one which has passed through a particular creative process - that's all. Folk songs still stand to be judged on their merits and faults just as much as any other type of song.

The various tunes you mention are all in the repertoire of folk musicians. That does not necessarily make them "folk tunes" in the technical sense, but so what? No is claiming that a folk singer or musician (whether "revival" or "source") is allowed to perform only traditional material. However, I strongly suspect that many of the tunes you mention are already undergoing variation as they get passed around in sessions.

I describe myself as a "folk singer" because I sing folk songs ie traditional songs. I don't consider that restricts me to singing only folk songs, and I will happily sing any song which takes my fancy, and if I feel it sits comfortably alongside the traditional songs I will include it in my performing repertoire. I don't regard the songs by Richard Thompson or Bob Dylan, for example, as "folk songs", they are "Richard Thompson songs" or "Dylan songs". I certainly don't take the view that because I am a folk singer, that makes everything I perform "folk".

What I don't understand is your apparent need to justify performing other songs by redefining them as "folk songs". On the one hand, it's unnecessary, on the other it dilutes a perfectly good, and useful, technical term.

"Folk song" is a jargon term. Specialists in any field need a more precise vocabulary when discussing their subject than does the population at large - that is jargon. There is no conflict between "folk song" having one meaning in general conversation and another, more specific, meaning among specialists. What is disappointing is that on a forum like this one would expect us all to be specialists and capable of using and understanding the jargon sense. However, it appears that is not the case and that the technical usage is now lost to us.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: theleveller
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 04:15 AM

S O'P: "I have a notion that the narrative morphology of folk song & folk tale is hard-wired into the human brain as an essential aspect of our preparedness for the structures of language itself."

I think that's an interesting suggstion. Lewis-William and Pearce's book,'Inside the Neolithic Mind' makes a similar point for the origin of religious experience and practice. I'm not sure about the 'hard-wired' as I worry about computer analogies when speaking about the humand mind, consciousness etc. I think I might prefer Sheldrake's idea of morphic resonance - but that's an entirely different issue. The concept that similar forms, varieties, ideas and so forth can occur simultaneously across the country - or the world - is one that has never occured to me before with regard to music, whether you call it 'folk' or something else. Nice thought and, for once, some original thinking on the subject!


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 04:21 AM

And that is something in which Sydney Carter rejoiced, and something in which I think many songwriters rejoice - the sense that something you crafted has come to life and moved out of your control, and stayed alive.

Sydney Carter fans might rejoice that And Now it is So Early has taken on a life of its own and might had entirely gratis, cover art and all, from HERE. This is the album he made with Bob and Carole Pegg back in 1970, with most of the songs performed by B&C (a must for Mr Fox fans) with some sterling contributions from Mr Carter himself. So, follow that link and get downloading! Long deleted (as far as it ever existed at all) the prospects of a CD re-issue on this one are as remote as one could wish - might happen if T.Mobile get a notion to use one of the songs in one of their advert, thus inspiring a second wave of Neo-Folkery... A truly charming little record.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 04:40 AM

Nice thought and, for once, some original thinking on the subject!

I am, alas, a simple storyteller invalided out of academia on account of ME, but I have picked up some stuff along the way that has a certain resonance with respect of such things - such as Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development, and the computer model of the human brain which, whilst being by no means absolute provides a working model with respect of the hardware / software interfaces of the subjective material brain and the objective cultural stuff it is prepared to receive, understand and, ultimately, transform.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: theleveller
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 05:51 AM

"I am, alas, a simple storyteller invalided out of academia on account of ME"

I know the problem - same thing happened to my eldest daughter. However, self-education can be a rewarding experience especially when you take the serendipitous route of allowing one subject to automatically follow another.

The subject or the origin and development of consciousness if one that has intrigued me for decades and, despite almost constant reading, I'm no closer to an answer (Chalmer's The Conscious Mind is about the closest).

Thanks for the heads-up on the Carter/Pegg album - I was just playing Keeper of the Fire last night and admiring the way he weaves folk songs into his own stuff (as in The Boatbuilder).


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 06:17 AM

Jack Campin,here is some advice,you have a heart condition?
take some GENTLE exercise on an exercise bike.
It would do you more good than spending too long in a sedentary position at the computer.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 06:44 AM

ack Campin,here is some advice,you have a heart condition?
take some GENTLE exercise on an exercise bike.
It would do you more good than spending too long in a sedentary position at the computer.


I've asked the staff about that sort of thing several times to make sure I got a consensus answer, as I thought the same way as you. The answer was "not on your nelly" - I'm waiting to have an angioplasty in two weeks, meanwhile I should be doing nothing that needs any sort of effort.

There aren't any songs I can think of that address the experience of sitting around waiting for something drastic to happen.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 08:18 AM

Hope it goes well for you Jack.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 09:23 AM

I had a triple angioplasty 3 or 4 years ago & it's made all the difference. Hope yours equally successful.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 09:41 AM

There aren't any songs I can think of that address the experience of sitting around waiting for something drastic to happen.

That might be a good thread on its own. I'm sure it would throw up a few would songs that would qualify. Then we could argue whether they were folksongs or not...

All the best for the op.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 10:27 AM

yes, all the best, jack.
however,when I went to see a GP recently,she gave me completely the wrong advice about gout,put your foot up she said.
completely wrong,you need to try and move the joint ifits possible get the uric acid crystallisations off the joints .
Jack,I would get a second or third medical opinion
Howard,I do not think the word folk song is a judgement,the judgement is in the minds of collectors,who reject something if the singer owns up to having composed it ,but gladly accept it if the singer says he learned it from his grandad.
``What I don't understand is your apparent need to justify performing other songs by redefining them as "folk songs"``quote hcj Jones.
I dont Howard,I rarely perform anything other than trad songs,if I perform someone else song, I dont use the term folk song,I just credit the composer and give some background.
my point is that this term[folk song ]is not needed,certainly when introducing songs,neither should it be criteria for collectors.
I am saying that too much emphasis is given to the importance of the folk process,by collectors and all sorts of other people,none of us can define a folk song,and your attempt to define it by emphasising [THE FOLK PROCESS]is a fault ridden as the Sanfrancisco fault line.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 11:31 AM

Howard,I do not think the word folk song is a judgement,the judgement is in the minds of collectors,who reject something if the singer owns up to having composed it ,but gladly accept it if the singer says he learned it from his grandad.

That's not true of any collector I can think of, who do you have in mind?

The usual procedure is simply to make sure you record what you can find out about how the piece came into the performer's repertoire. Go look at a few serious modern collections sometime. Or read a few issues of Tocher or whatever.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Howard Jones
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 12:19 PM

Dick, any deficiencies in the methodology of collectors are regrettable, but do not undermine the fundamental concept expressed in the term "folk song". Let me be clear that by this I mean "traditional" song, since the technical meaning of the term has long since been overwhelmed by the vernacular usage.

The fossil record, as unearthed by the collectors, shows that a certain body of songs and tunes have undergone a process of Darwinian evolution as they have circulated between singers and musicians. The term "folk song", or if you prefer "traditional song", is useful, but only in certain contexts, to describe this body of music. There are of course other contexts where it may not useful.

I still don't understand your antipathy towards it. If you don't find it a useful distinction then by all means ignore it. But many of us do find it useful, to understand what gives a certain type of song certain characteristics.

You say that "no one can define a folk song". I am perfectly happy to use this as an objective test to define a "folk/traditional" song in these terms because for certain purposes I find it useful. I don't see any problem with doing so. However it is only one of a number of tests which could be applied to a song - personally, being a performer and consumer of music rather than an academic, I give priority to the test of whether or not I like it.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 12:46 PM

Jack,
P.Kennedy would not record bob blake becauase he suspected he was a revival singer ,fortunately someone else did .
other collectors did not record N Boyle,Fortunately KENNEDY was prepared to let him have his rant about jungle music,and did record him.
Boyle as I understand it would not record unless he could state his views on contemporary[to him] Irish music [jungle music he called it]


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Geoff Wallis
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 01:14 PM

Séamus Ennis recorded Néillidh Boyle for the Irish Folklore Commission in 1945.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 01:35 PM

P.Kennedy would not record bob blake becauase he suspected he was a revival singer ,fortunately someone else did .

Well he didn't have an obligation to record anybody in particular, did he? If he thought it was a more productive use of his time to look elsewhere, that was his privilege.

What you originally described was a collector going through a source's repertoire and sifting out anything they'd composed themselves. That's not what you say Kennedy did, and it's not what you find in collections like MacColl and Seeger's book on the Stewarts of Blair - they were delighted to find things their sources had created, and to find their take on things that were frankly pop. Even less so for the really serious end, like Vargyas's book on the music of the village of Aj - he wrote down absolutely everything anybody in the village performed during the time he was there. (The book is available in English, it's fascinating).


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 01:41 PM

Incidentally this article about Vargyas gives you an idea of the kind of methods used by someone serious about their job:

Folk Music Journal on Vargjas


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 06:20 PM

That link to Sydney Carter's record And Now it is So Early that Suibhne gave us looks very interesting, and the download is sitting in my computer now. But it needs a password to allow me to open it.

If you can, let us have it, Suibhne.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Peace
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 08:14 PM

Best of success regarding the angioplasty, Jack.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 08:49 PM

The Folk Process happens ALL the time , even with recently composed material . You learn a song , Possibly from a book or sheet music , possibly from a recording , or direct from another singer . You then sing the song for a while , and for one reason or another look back at what you started from and find !!GOOD LORD !! Its changed !
What the writer phrased 'so' is not QUITE how you would phrase it , so you Re Phrase ! Then , you find that it can work nicely in 3/4 not
in the 4/4 of the original !
Some is Accidental , some is deliberate (One of Buddy Holly's songs was sung tonight in a TOTALLY different format to the original by a guy who was six when B H died )
This is ALL part of the Folk Process !


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Peace
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 09:12 PM

Buddy Holly? Folk? HAVE you taken leave of your senses?


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 09:58 PM

Bruce - A few years back that is EXACTLY what my response would have been . Now , with a few more years listening to a LOT of music , there are a LOT of good songs than can be as 'Folk' as any current Singer/songwriter 'Folk' songs !


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Art Thieme
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 10:12 PM

It might be helpful to say, first of all, what the folk process is not.

During the 1960s and/or '70s, in the USA, African Americans had a way of fixing up their hair -- the details of which I have never been informed. It was called THE PROCESS --- and it involved putting "stuff" on the hair that made it rather pliable so it could be sculpted. Also, a cloth piece called a DOORAG was used to hold everything in place for a select period of time -- the object being for the hair style to stiffen up and hopefully stay put.

This unique fashion statement prompted some of us to take note of the fact that, "The folk process is NOT Odetta's hairdo!"

Knowing that, it might be easier, now, to take note of what the good ole folk process IS actually.

Bueno suerte!!

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Sep 09 - 11:13 PM

At the beginning of the inlay notes to a record I made 20 years ago [Butter&Cheese&All Brewhouse BH8904], I wrote: "All these songs are traditional, but I suspect that every one will have been more or less consciously modified from original sources in the course of making them my own."

Surely we all do that. I ask, genuinely and with humility, whether this makes me part of the Folk Process. For the record, another revival singer, more distinguished by far than me, Cyril Tawney, was taken by my rendering of one of my songs, 'The Magdalene Green', and included it, duly acknowledged, and in precisely, word-for-word, my 'made·my·own' version, on his next cassette.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 03:14 AM

"There are a LOT of good songs than can be as 'Folk' as any current Singer/songwriter 'Folk' songs !"

...and which probably stand more of a chance of being the folk songs of the future than the current singer-songwriter 'folk' songs do, to boot...

I don't know why, but each time I hear the term "folk process" it makes me think of sausages.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Howard Jones
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 04:35 AM

I don't think the "folk process" can easily be measured in terms of the number of changes, the number of singers, or a period of time. Like biological evolution, it is easier to observe with hindsight rather than in real time.

Every singer makes both conscious and unconscious changes to a song. Some of these may be substantial - adding or leaving out verses, changing the order of verses, improving the text or the tune to make them better to sing. Others may simply occur during the process of performing the song over a period of time.

One individual's changes aren't in themselves sufficient to turn the piece into a folk song. However, if enough singers take up those variations, add their own, and pass them on, in time we will find a separate version of the song which is clearly distinguishable from the original. Along the way, it may be difficult to distinguish the long-term variations from individual interpretation.

An example is McColl's "Dirty Old Town". Nowadays, it seems to be sung to a 4/4 tune, which has the effect of dragging out some of the words interminably: "I met my looooooooove ....". In the recording I have of the man himself, he is singing in what appears to be a 6/4 metre, which fits the words much better and shortens these long phrases. However the 4/4 version now seems to be firmly established, to the extent that it has probably taken over from the original. That is the folk process at work.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 10:19 AM

leadfingers,and everyone else,this is my point,that we dont bother ourselves with the definition but just sing that which we want to sing.
who cares whether buddy holly is folk or not,personally I dont want to sing his songs.
but since some people on this forum want to define folk songs as being songs that have been folk processed,why not include Hitler has only got one ball,and call it a folk song.,or the Wheelbarrow song.
trouble is leadfingers,no one will come and pay good money to hear any of us sing those songs,Because they are crap songs even if they have been folk processed,so we need a new yardstick to judge songs by and that is quality,not whether a song has been folk processed.
there is dross among the tradition,but generally those songs have been forgotten,the songs that have survived have something that appeals to most of us,they either are well written or have good melodies or both.
occasionally revival artists have found old songs then rewritten them or rewritten the melody and improved them.
here is why I like the songs I sing,I like them because they have good words and or good melodies,it is not because they have been folk processed,although they often have,however the modern songs often havent,does that affect their quality,not necessarily.
modern songs do not have to be folk processed for them to be good songs.
so if we define folksongs as songs whose sole ingredients are they are songs that have been folk processed,we start to include songs not based on their quality,the Wheelbarrow song maybe fine for NoTts County fans to sing[EITHER when Sven gets his leg over]or at what they[County fans] call a football match,but its not fine to sing at a folk club or festival.
so logically, if we are no longer singing folksongs[wheelbarrow song] at folk clubs we have to call folk clubs something else.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 10:48 AM

No, I'm sorry Dick, but again I think you are confused & are muddying the issue. Nobody has said that ALL orally transmitted songs are of equal merit or quality: simply that they constitute a separate category [it's a taxonomic , not a qualitative, judgment] - WITHIN WHICH category various levels of quality may be discerned. But that doesn't mean that anything of good quality must be admitted to this particular category just becoz you happen to like singing it - see my remarks on a post some way back on 'Les Sylphides' being a wonderful dance but that doesn't make it a folk dance, & who would want it to? [even if they'd never seen a fucking horse dancing it!]


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 10:50 AM

... and it doesn't mean either that anyone is OBLIGED to sing 'Hitler has only got one ball' at every folk club they visit just because it is an orally-transmitted folksong [which of course it is & why did you imply that anyone should think it isn't?]


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 11:03 AM

The wheelbarrow song is taken up with a gusto folk clubs could only dream of, crap song or not. I agree with your other points GSS.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 11:08 AM

This so-called 'process' was an historical accident, born of a time when oral transmission (along with its attendant risk of 'Chinese Whispers Syndrome') was the only form of song distribution.

So how come it has now become a 'rule' to be applied to modern compositions, for which a myriad of alternative transmission streams is available?

It's akin passing a law whereby all new motorways must have built-in wagon-wheel ruts. Stark staring bonkers.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 11:24 AM

It's called making a virtue of a necessity Sminky.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 12:46 PM

in the past people have called their clubs,Traditional song/ music clubs,or Acoustic Music clubs, or Blues club,because they can define what they mean.
now if I see the name Andy Caven,I know what I am going to get,likewise if I see the names Martin Carthy or Dick Miles.,but if we cant define folk song,what is a folk club?
but no one not even BERT lLOYD can define folk song,so why use a term that cant be defined,or means different things to different people.,unless you know who the guest is you dont know what you are going to get,let alone what youmight get from the floor singers .
if folk song is to be defined solely by that fact it has been folk processed,then we let in the wheel barrow song,but exclude Masters of War,Sorry but that is nonsensical.,because one is fine song at a football match for 30 seconds,but a whole night of it or similiar football chants which qualify because they have been folk processed,would empty most folk clubs.
we all make subjective qualitative decisions when we learn songs, most people make that decision based upon quality,the quality of the words or the melody, plus the style, we do not decide that we are going to sing a song only if it has been folk processed.,that is as daft as the singer who says I will only sing a song if it was written before 1900.
   yes,I did meet someone once who defined Traditional song that way.
so why are we calling folk clubs, folk clubs,if we dont know what a folk song is,if we define folk songs as being songs that are exclusively songs that have been folk processed,we rule out alot of quality modern compositions,plus traditional songs of which there might be only one version,but logically have to allow football songs,but the rub is we dont allow football songs ,because the audience would probably vote with their feet.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 12:47 PM

"Oral transmission" is still the main form of sng distribution. Relatively few people learn the songs they know from written down lyrics with staff notation, rather than from hearing them sung. Of course they may hear them sung on a recording, but its still oral transmission.

The basic "folk process" is living.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 01:17 PM

Mcgrath,Can you back that up with stats.,that is just your subjective opoinion
My guess is that a lot of people hear a song,then look it up on mudcat and get one version,or they buy a cd and if its got a word sheet,they learn the songs that way.
   how many singers alter a JEZlOWE composition[not many is my guess]but does that mean the song is not a folk song,there are other important factors ,style is one.,to say that it has become a folksong purely because someone has altered a word is ridiculous.,and is making a fetish out of the folk process.
IMO the process is part of it ,BUT IS NOT THE ONLY FACTOR,furthermore a modern song can be a folk song,even if it has not been learned orally and not folk processed.
lovely joan is in the Martin Carthy song book,it does not cease to be a folk or traditional song because Joe Bloggs learned it from his book.
the tradition would have died out if Sharp and others had not notated and printed books of songs,furthermore some trad singers and trad musicians can, still do and did learn music/songs from notation or learn lyrics from a written source.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 04:13 PM

I'm sure there are a good few people of whom it's true to say, at le4ast sometimes, they "hear a song,then look it up on mudcat and get one version,or they buy a cd and if its got a word sheet,they learn the songs that way."

But I'm also sure that this is true of only a tiny minotioty of people in general. And I'm also pretty sure that for most of us it's not true of most of the songs we know, and could sing in the back of the bus.

So far as the tunes go, it's always oral transmission for me, because I can't read music.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 05:26 PM

This so-called 'process' was an historical accident, born of a time when oral transmission (along with its attendant risk of 'Chinese Whispers Syndrome') was the only form of song distribution.

We here at Ploughmyth International are currently putting the finishing touches to a new piece of computer software that will Folk Process any song put into it. It features powerful Mondegreen and Nonsense Refrain generator, a Chinese Whisperer, along with several Random Memory Loss and Relocation Processors that will ensure that your song will be wrought into a Genuine Traditional Folk Song at the click of a mouse! A beta version The Folk Processor will be available for free download in time for Samhain. So get writing those spooky songs and don't worry about how shite they are because The Folk Processor will subject them to centuries of Community Handling and Oral Transmission that will turn out a perfect 1954 Approved Folk Song in a matter of seconds!


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 05:31 PM

we need a new yardstick to judge songs by and that is quality,not whether a song has been folk processed.

Nobody's saying this is about quality.

It's about honesty - on your part.

It is outrageously disrespectful to the creator of the song of you make no effort to find out anything about them. Whether it was written ten years ago by somebody with a dozen CDs out, or whether all you can say is that it came from the musical community of Donegal 150 years ago. You say what you know about the processes of transmission and modiification the song has been through, and you try to know as much as you can about it, or you're just treating the song as something you picked off the shelf at Tesco.

(For that matter it wouldn't hurt to think about who the workers were who got that packet onto the shelf at Tesco and what they did, either).

"Folk process" is a pretty superficial label but it says you've put some effort in the direction of thinking about how that song you have was made, and how its history might be uniquely different from any other song.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST,Bruce Michael Baillie
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 05:42 PM

...Blimey what a load of old cock!!! Honestly people, read what you have written and then see if you don't agree with me, some people just love to argue for aguments sake!!!


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Cleverthreads (inactive)
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 05:48 PM

Someone, somewhere, once said that some people could start an arguement if they were locked in a room by themselves, I'm beginning to believe that's the truth


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Stringsinger
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 06:16 PM

I don't know if I mentioned this before but the biggest detractor of the "folk process"
is the modern copyright law. Performance rights societies try to avoid a public domain
designation for a song because no one can make a buck off of it. A song no longer
becomes part of the possession of the "commons" but becomes an individual's intellectual
"property". This is antithetical to the "folk process".

I have no problem with a song being composed or authored and the creators making money from it but it categorically and specifically not a folk song.

Anonymous and PD are often the determinants of a folk song.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 06:46 PM

You say what you know about the processes of transmission and modiification the song has been through.

You wouldn't get through too many songs in an evening singaround if you stuck to that rule consistently.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 03:33 AM

"It is outrageously disrespectful to the creator of the song of you make no effort to find out anything about them."

I disagree strongly. Walking round the British Museaum in awe at the artifacts in there we know can almost nothing about their original creator but their work lives on and inspires us. When we're dead and gone and barely a name in a cemetery file the part that survives is the creation we made - the man is the vehicle for the art.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 04:57 AM

Stringsinger said ,Anonymous and PD are often the determinants of a folk song.
the problem with that is that no new songs get added to the tradition or become folksongs,unless the composer[does a BertLloyd]and sneaks his own compositions in as trad ,then of course when he gets found out the composer gets slagged off being intellectually dishonest.
the other problem with that statement is style,certain traditions have certain styles,irish music for example is predominantly in four modes,if one starts introducing tunes in the phrygian mode[ some flamenco tunes]they sound alien ,they sound more akin to a different culture/tradition, more akin to flamenco tunes,that doesnt mean traditions cant change,but often to be acceptable to the musicians performing them at that time theth introduction of a new mode has to be subtle and gradual,so that the process is evolutionary.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 05:32 AM

Copyright is a red herring in my view -

creator's lifetime + 70 years = PD

Joseph Lees did very well out John O'Greenfield - good luck to him - now it's 'ours'. Everyone's a winner.

This 'reluctance', shall we say, to admit new songs into the cannon gives rise to an unforgivable side-effect: nobody bothers to ask the creators about their songs.

A recent thread revealed that some folks didn't know that the 'Dirty Old Town' was Salford. Did anyone ask MacColl about the song? And if not, why not? Too late now, of course. A unique opportunity lost forever.

How much more priceless information has gone to the grave along with the song creators because some people choose to look down the wrong end of their telescope?

We are repeating the mistakes of the past. Shame.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 06:15 AM

to get back to my point about style,and why it relates to this thread,very often if a song can be sung successfully unaccompanied it can be classified as a folk song,but it is only one ingredient of many that makes a song a folk song.
youll never walk alone,wheelbarrw song, Athenry,are all sung unaccompanied and work as folk songs in certain contexts,[example at football matches]in fact the sensation of thousand people singing youll never walk alone,is unbelievable,but they dont work out of that context[athenry perhaps does, although I hate it]or if sung in a folk club,neverthelees they are folk songs.
so context or environment, and style are as important [imo]or possibly more important than process.
of course flamenco music is folk music too,but it has different roots.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 07:06 AM

Sminky: This so-called 'process' was an historical accident, born of a time when oral transmission (along with its attendant risk of 'Chinese Whispers Syndrome') was the only form of song distribution.

I kind of agree with that, although I think 'accident' is a bit dismissive; it's a bit like saying the use of horse-drawn ploughs was a historical accident based on the failure to invent tractors. I'd rather call it a historical reality - and one that existed for longer than the conditions that we're used to. But if you're saying there wasn't anything magical or intrinsically valuable about the 'process', I tend to agree. It's just how things were - and the songs that have come out the other side of that process just are those songs.

So how come it has now become a 'rule' to be applied to modern compositions, for which a myriad of alternative transmission streams is available?

It's not a 'rule', it's a description. There are songs that have been through the process, and there are songs that haven't been through the process. Mostly I prefer hearing and singing the first kind.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 07:23 AM

it's a bit like saying the use of horse-drawn ploughs was a historical accident based on the failure to invent tractors

Ah, but a by-product of horse-drawn ploughs was that your fields got manured! You wouldn't then specify that tractors had to automatically manure fields as they went along, would you?

It's not a 'rule', it's a description

I'm quite happy to call it a description. However, for some people hereabouts - it's the law.

Mostly I prefer hearing and singing the first kind.

So do I, but that's my personal preference - so it doesn't count.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Howard Jones
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 07:40 AM

"However, for some people hereabouts - it's the law."

This claim, or something like it, keeps being made but I have yet to see actual evidence for it. Could you give examples?

"Folk song" has (or had) a particular meaning to describe a particular type of song. Just as the word "cat" describes a particular type of animal; however it is as if some people were to insist the description should also include dogs.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 07:46 AM

child ballad number61,has only one version.
child ballad no 161,only one version.
child ballad 164,child 185,child 211, child222,child223,child 227,all have only one version.
so clearly there is no evidence that they have been folk processed,so if we used the folk process as solely the only way of defining a folk song as Howard Jones suggested here
Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Howard Jones - PM
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 03:39 AM

I am one of those who believe it is the crucial factor in identifying a folk song. There are plenty of very good songs which are perfectly compatible with the traditional repertoire, but until they have gone through the "folk process" and developed recognisable variants they cannot be "folk songs".
well do we throw these out and say they are not folk songs?they have no recognisable variants,but most of us would say they are folk songs,Eppie Morrie Battle of Agincourt, etc etc
Proffesor Child obviously thought otherwise,he thought they were worth collecting because of their quality,the fact there were no recognisable variants,did not exclude them from the collection.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Howard Jones
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 07:51 AM

The problem with using style as a means to identify folk song is that so many different styles have been applied. A traditional song is still a traditional song whether its performed unaccompanied in a pub, with an acoustic guitar or concertina in a folk club, by a classically trained singer in a concert hall or by an electric rock-style band. If Steeleye Span or Fairport perform a traditional song in a rock style, that can still be seen as "folk". But what makes a contemporary song performed in a rock style "folk" rather than "rock"?

I have one of recent BBC Folk Awards CD sets which includes a number of non-traditional tracks. In some cases neither the style of composition nor the style of performance resembles what I would recognise as typical of either traditional or contemporary folk music. I cannot identify any characteristic in these tracks which brings them within my understanding of "folk". However somebody obviously can, otherwise they wouldn't have been considered for the Folk Awards.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 07:58 AM

How could you possibly know whether or not there were at one time variants of these songs. All we know is what was collected, what happened in the pub sing song the next night remains a mystery. The 'variant' criterion is a full of holes as any other putative criterion. You cant contain the folk process in a couple of handy rules, itys far more promethean than that, thats why its a process, geddit.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 08:10 AM

Child DIDN'T COLLECT, Dick. He gathered together within covers all the *printed* versions he could find of any particular ballad: he didn't do live performance & only gave a handful of tunes as an appendix. When Kittredge, who saw the Popular Ballads thru the press after Child's death, wrote in his preface that he thought the collection probably represented the whole amount of the available material, it was one of the things that inspired Gavin Greig to go around Scotland and find dozens more versions still surviving in the oral tradition. So the fact that there is only one version of any particular ballad in Child proves nothing except that it didn't appeal greatly to the broadside press or any of the earlier gatherers like Percy or Douce from whose earlier work Child had reproduced his versions; or that there weren't plenty more versions around being sung somewhere.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 08:29 AM

You cant contain the folk process in a couple of handy rules, itys far more promethean than that, thats why its a process

I think you mean 'protean' - but 'promethean' works too, sort of. Not to be confused with 'procrustean', which is what the people who disagree with you are.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 08:31 AM

"This claim, or something like it, keeps being made but I have yet to see actual evidence for it. Could you give examples?"

Will people please stop asking for 'examples' of things that are manifestly true and evidenced in such proliferation that the word can't begin to do justice to the volume. It's intellectually dishonest and leads to a close dissection of one point on a yes you did/no I didn't basis that is in no way a search for truth but a divertion tactic from the main point.

It's also extremely condescending.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 08:33 AM

a song is more likely to be processed ,if it has been sung a lot ,but some of the child ballads,have not,the sheath and the knife[among others] for instance,yet it is not discarded as a folk song,because of its rarity,neither was it discarded because it had not been processed .      neither was the Recruited Collier discarded because only one person collected it,[IMO]THE RECRUITED Collier is a folk song regardless of whether it is a modern composition,or whether it has been processed.
it is a folksong because of its style,its quality its melody and its words.
not only is the melody important but also the style of the lyrics,study the old child ballads,and we find certain lyric styles emerging.
30 years ago, very very few questioned the Recruited Collier?why because it sounded like a folk song,it should not be denied that term just because it has not been folk processed and turns out subsequently to be possibly a modern composition.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 08:51 AM

another perfect example of a modern folk song is scorn not his simplicity,it works very well sung unaccompanied,so stylistically it fits the description.
I stress that style is only one of the ingredients.
styles are also important in determining different traditions,for example arabic traditional music uses different melodic scales /notes to flamenco or irish music,it is these different styles of musical sound,that enable the listener to differentiate,between different roots musics or traditions,plus different styles of lyric writing.
if a song writer wishes to write a convincing modern english folk[FAKE TRADITIONAL] song written in an authentic style,he would be advised to study the styles of writing AND THE STYLES OF TUNES in CHILD BALLADS.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Brian Peters
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 09:16 AM

>> child ballad number61,has only one version <<

MtheGM has already given a good answer to that point, but it's also worth mentioning that Child included a lot of stuff that probably never had much purchase on the public imagination or the oral tradition (and of course he missed out a few good uns as well). Modern singers, however, are quite happy to take some of those obscurities and work them up into perfectly good, gripping ballads, and long may they continue.

Inclusion in or exclusion from Child's collection is not necessarily a measure of the 'folkness' of any ballad, although your last point about studying the style is a good one.

Oh, and 'process' is an observable phenomenon, not a law.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Howard Jones
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 09:33 AM

glueman, it may be "manifestly true" to you, but it's not to me. If it's that obvious, and that plentiful, why not give a few examples? Then we'll know if it is indeed true or whether you're misunderstanding what people are saying.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 09:54 AM

Sminky's joke about 'the law' is a classic bit of throwaway humour that reveals an underlying reality, namely that some people who inhabit Mudcat invest disproportionate weight into a 'process' or 'observable phenomenon' that makes sense from within the confines of a particular group but has little or no currency outside it. It's not a law on any statute or subject to the judicial system but resembles a law to those who wish to see it upheld within the larger trope.

In such allusions asking for examples is an internal derailment, not a proof exposable to cold fact. One might as well ask for three posts by Jim Carroll that don't exhibit didactism, or three that do exhibit a sense of humour - it leads us nowhere.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 10:02 AM

yes,but most of us consider the child ballads as folk songs,[whatever Mike tries to suggest otherwise]and it is not just the process that determines that its the style[or did before this discussion started]its the style.
in the same way CW has a style,that doesnt mean country cant merge into folk,it can and there will always be crossover and grey areas
most people would consider Sheath and Knife and Scarborough Fair a folk song,because of the style.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 10:45 AM

"One might as well ask for three posts by Jim Carroll that don't exhibit didactism, or three that do exhibit a sense of humour - it leads us nowhere."
Hit and run again glueman. I might say one as well ask for a reply to a question from you and your mentor - and wait, and wait, and wait.....
My sense of humour - nobody has complained about it before Rodders.
My opinions are based on my work on the subject and my research on the work of others - what are yours based on
And wait, and wait, and wait, and wait......
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 10:56 AM

"what are yours based on"

Folklore, critical theory and a big pin to pop pomposity.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Howard Jones
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 11:22 AM

"most people would consider Sheath and Knife and Scarborough Fair a folk song,because of the style"

I consider them to be folk songs because they come from traditional sources (Child 16 and 2 respectively).

Style? What style? If you mean the structure of the songs, they follow traditional styles because that's what they are. If you mean style of performance, they could be performed in any style.

It seems to me if you are judging composed songs as folk songs, the benchmark keeps coming back to traditional music. The closest we can get to defining folk song in its wide vernacular sense is something which fits comfortably alongside traditional song in performance. How close in style and content it has to be depends to a large extent on the attitudes of both the perfomer and audience.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 11:33 AM

'most of us consider the child ballads as folk songs,[whatever Mike tries to suggest otherwise]'

I didn't suggest otherwise - of course they are all folksongs, of the particular genre called ballads. All I pointed out was that Child himself was more interested in the words than the tunes, and didn't ever claim or purport to be producing a song collection, of the sort that Bruce & Stokoe were approx simultaneously doing in Northumberland, for example; he just didn't regard that as the brief he had set himself. So he worked from printed, rather than oral, sources, & did no original collecting of his own. Nothing against him or his work: he was an academic engaged in compiling an academic accretion of all the previous printed sources he could find, and that was all he professed to be doing.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 11:53 AM

I `ad that Mark Knoffler in my cab the other day. `e `ad a blooming great pile of books under `is arm. I `ad a quick shufty and, wouldja` believe it, they was all that Cecil Sharp`s stuff.
I said, "What`s up here then Mark? You going full blown trad now or something"
`e said, "Nah, Jim. Far from it. We`re going un-folking. I`m on my way to Abbey Road Studios. By the time we`ve given some of these the guitar, base and drum treatment and they play `em on `Drivetime` they won`t be folk songs any more!!"

Whaddam I Like??


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Goose Gander
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 12:01 PM

"Folklore, critical theory, and a big pin to pop pomposity"

Really? What folklorists? What 'critical theorists'? You have strong opinions, but you are remarkably reluctant to back them up with any verifiable facts. You have argued that you want to see the research that verifies the folk process, and shortly afterward you have told us that you don't want research 'anywhere near the music you love'. Make up your mind.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 12:04 PM

MM, when I use folklore terminology I'm accused of, well, all the things you can imagine folkies accuse one of when it suits them.
I'll have the 10 shilling argument please!


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 12:17 PM

ok,it is to do with style,if you took a country and western song,and it had been processed it would still be a country and western song,for instance,the last goodbye by the other dick miles,[you know the f######cw twat]you can process it but it will never be a folk song,because of its style,and its over sentimentality and awful lyrics.it belongs to tin pan alley.
however I do accept that old thyme music is folk music ,and I do accept there are cross over points,between country and folk.but just processing a song does not automatically mean it becomes a folk song.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 12:21 PM

"Will people please stop asking for 'examples' of things that are manifestly true ... "

OK, then, we'll stop asking for 'examples' of things that are manifestly true ... but is it OK if we go on asking for examples of things that are untrue?


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST, Sminky
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 12:33 PM

Just as the word "cat" describes a particular type of animal; however it is as if some people were to insist the description should also include dogs.

No (however, if you were to describe a cat and a dog to an alien who had never seen either, I think you'll find your descriptions would be remarkably similar). Most people know a cat when they see one. It has 'cattiness'.

A song is just words set to music. The journey (or 'process') it has undergone before it reaches my ears is irrelevant when I am in listening mode (interesting and worthy of study though that journey may be). It may have been written yesterday or 300 years ago - I know a folksong when I hear one. It has 'folkiness'.

PS: The lawmakers know who they are. Their feigned puzzlement doesn't fool anyone.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 12:40 PM

Sminky, you are my hero. Brilliant stuff.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 12:41 PM

"Will people please stop asking for 'examples' of things that are manifestly true and evidenced in such proliferation that the word can't begin to do justice "
If they are 'evidenced" where does one go to look for oneself - go on - giz a clue!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 12:44 PM

"The lawmakers know who they are. Their feigned puzzlement doesn't fool anyone."

Your serve Jimbo.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 12:45 PM

And why are there only two of you with acess to this evidence?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Goose Gander
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 12:48 PM

"MM, when I use folklore terminology I'm accused of, well, all the things you can imagine folkies accuse one of when it suits them.
I'll have the 10 shilling argument please!"

More gibberish, with no real point to argue.

Ho hum.


"I know a folksong when I hear one. It has 'folkiness'."

Sminky

"People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like."

Abraham Lincoln


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 12:48 PM

the trouble with Howards argument is that allows any modern song to be called a folk song providing its been processed,so little white bull,return to sender,we are all going on a summer holiday,catch a faling star,and other products of tin pan alley can be called folk.
that is bullshit,when I talk about style it is not just style of performance,it is style and content of lyrics,and style of melody.
So while folk process may play apart,ther are other ingredients that make it a FOLK SONG,and it is possible for a song to sound like a folk song despite its not being processed [ eg Recruited Collier]
Howard , do you consider Recruited Collier a folk song?
I do.
I do not accept TIN PAN ALLEY CRAP,even if it hasbeen folk processed.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 01:03 PM

"I know a folksong when I hear one. It has 'folkiness'."

That description has a lucidity 99.99% of the world would agree with. The other six people on Mudcat who disagree don't matter. 87.3% of statistics are made up.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 01:22 PM

"That description has a lucidity 99.99% of the world would agree with"
And is that what you base yout thories on?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Goose Gander
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 01:25 PM

" . . . the trouble with Howards argument is that allows any modern song to be called a folk song providing its been processed,so little white bull,return to sender,we are all going on a summer holiday,catch a faling star,and other products of tin pan alley can be called folk."

First of all, it's not really Howard's argument, it's the accepted definition of folksong that can be applied to (among others) sea shanties, Appalachian ballads, blues, corridos, etc. 'Return to Sender' et al are not folksongs according to this definition, at least not in the versions with which most people are familiar (exceptions can made for possible parodies, etc.). Commercial products of Music Hall, Tin Pan Alley, minstrelsy etc. can and have become folksongs, North American folksong is full of songs that originated on the stage.   The same can be said of British folksong ? can you possibly be unfamiliar with the role of the broadside press in the British and Irish tradition?

I get it ? you want every song you sing to be a 'folk song' so you expand the definition to include anything that 'feels' folky-folkish to you.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 01:45 PM

*Waits for Shimrod to make his 'favourite music' claim.*


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 01:48 PM

That's right MM. It's an Illuminati conspiracy to have Puppet on a String accepted in the hallowed walls of the Finger and Tankard.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 01:55 PM

no i dont,but I see it as ridiculous to use a definition,that would exclude Recruited Collier or Masters OF War,because they hadnt been folk processed,and yet include Return toSender or Little White Bull because they had been folk processed.
ask yourself, why music hall songs the have been assimilated, its because they are compatible with the folk repertoire,because they have quality,not because they have been folk processed.
lastly it is Howards argument,right here.
Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Howard Jones - PM
Date: 08 Sep 09 - 03:39 AM

I am one of those who believe it is the crucial factor in identifying a folk song. There are plenty of very good songs which are perfectly compatible with the traditional repertoire, but until they have gone through the "folk process" and developed recognisable variants they cannot be "folk songs".
Micheal Morris read all the posts please


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Goose Gander
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 02:03 PM

"ask yourself, why music hall songs the have been assimilated, its because they are compatible with the folk repertoire,because they have quality,not because they have been folk processed"

Absolutely ass-backward, good soldier. They are compatible with the repertoire because they have been folk-processed. The originals generally wear their stage-clothes proudly and are distinct from folk (exceptions for faux-folk productions, with 'country' dialect, etc.)

Howard was merely restating an accepted opinion that is only controversial to to horse-singers and amateur tautologists.

I read as many of the posts here as I care to, anyone who reads ALL the posts here needs an intervention.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Goose Gander
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 02:12 PM

And how has 'Return to Sender' been folk-processed? It was written by Winfield Scott and Otis Blackwell, best known from the singing of Elvis Presley. 'Little White Bull' by Tommy Steele? Don't see the folk-process there, either.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 02:28 PM

"*Waits for Shimrod to make his 'favourite music' claim.* W
Waits for an answer to his question
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 02:45 PM

Answered many times JC, always the same way, ignoring the reply is the same as not listening. I think you are talking out your fundament, you think I am, inclusivity, fun, anything folkie goes so long as The People enjoy it, smiles, togetherness, youth, kindness, yes bloody kindness, I am your folk nightmare. If I didn't exist you'd have had to invent me.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 03:02 PM

You really are a defensively unpleasant little scrote - aren't you.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 03:04 PM

And you Jim are very, very grumpy.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 03:35 PM

you miss my point,
modern folksongs are written[in fact all folksongs and broadsheets were composed by someone]Most but notnecessarily all traditional songs have been folk processed.
It does not matter whether LITTLE WHITE BULL was written by Tommy Steele or Jez Lowe,according to Howard songs becomes folk songs if they becomes folk processed ,so logically a modern song is not a folk song unless its been processed,and I am saying that that is a stupid way to determine whether a modern song becomes a folk song,and that there are other additional characteristics that make a song a folk song,please read my posts,or go somewhere else.
Little White Bull according to that logic fits the definition if processed,but Masters of War which has much more in common with Traditional Folk songs,is not a folksong unless its processed,that is just the most utter codswallop I have ever heard,IT TAKES NO ACCOUNT OF STYLE OR CONTENT.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 04:15 PM

I despair of these threads. There seems to be an inability of people to understand the basics of any scientific argument. Logic and balance of proof of points seems to be beyond the grasp of some participants. I normally confine myself to posting tunes and lyrics, but there's a certain morbid fascination in reading this. So without wishing to get drawn into the debate on what is folk/the folk-process/the tradition - all of which seem to be rehashing the same things - here's a few observations on this thread.



I don't intend to check all the references, but as far as Child 61 - Sir Cawline - goes, although Child may give only a single set, my copy of Roud's index lists 13 entries for the song under a three or four titles. I suspect if I bothered to check others in the list of singular entries from Child a similar situation would apply. Having a song once or more than once in folk-collections is not really relevant (I have a friend is has a special interest in songs that have only been collected from a single source). These are snapshots of a particular place at a particular time; nothing more. And with regard to Child, it has already been mentioned that he was interested in ballad text, not folk songs as we would understand them (in any sense of the word).


Quality of songs (and the criterion of quality doesn't matter) is an irrelevance that Dick brings up repeatedly. There is dross in all genres of songs; but being dross doesn't prevent the song being an example of the genre. As a child, on car journeys, my parents sang to me The Birdy Song (Let's all sing like the birdies sing...). I learned it orally and I might sing it to other children, who might pass it on. I might well consider it a folk-song. That doesn't mean it isn't a rubbish song. If there is such a thing as a folk-process, you might expect that over time the dross would be weeded out;people will remember and sing the better songs. But not necessarily - one man's dross may be another's gold nugget. Applying a goodness quality criterion to select songs is no better than the (different) selectiveness that the 19th/20th century collectors have been accused of. All goodness tells you is whether the song is a good folk song or a bad folk song; nothing more. Whether you choose to sing it or not, whether anyone will listen to it or not is a different question. I'm now begging you - Please, please, please stop asking if Masters of War is better than Hitler's Only Got One Ball (or whatever). As far as I can see it, the countless times across these threads noone has disputed that Masters of War is a good song; they've only disputed whether it can be called a folk-song. (And for what it's worth Lloyd would dispute about the commonality of Masters of War with traditional song; IIRC he says at the end of FSE with respect to protest songs something along the lines of protest songs are fairly rare in the English tradition. But that's his opinion and that is something you could debate).


The general point seems to be that Dick (and some others) wants modern written songs to be called folk songs - his post of 03:35 has at the start modern folksongs, which precludes any disputation of their naming; the other side wants modern written songs to be in a different category from what we may recognise as traditional songs (this is the same argument that Lloyd was making in the article cited in a recent thread; in FSE he thought it did a disservice to the modern songs to call them folk-songs - maybe if Bob Dylan hadn't been so strongly associated with folk he would't have been booed so much for refusing to work on Maggie's Farm). In general usage the boat has probably sailed - they are all indiscriminately referred to as folk songs. Personally, I see nothing wrong in distinguishing them in a technical sense; it doesn't stop me singing Masters Of War any more than having them all called folk songs would stop me singing The Lass Of Lochroyal. But noone's changing sides. One side has a set of criteria which has been used in the past to define folk-songs; Dick offers a new set of criteria which would allow him to include modern written songs as folk-songs. No-one is seeing any merit in the others' viewpoint. Save yourselves from the endless name-calling and mudslinging and retire these threads gracefully.



Mick


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Goose Gander
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 04:19 PM

"please read my posts,or go somewhere else"

Now, that's a pleasant way to engage in conversation.

I don't see that Little White Bull has been folk-processed. It was in a film, it's a familiar popular song (like Return to Sender) but where is the oral transmission, change over time, etc.?

Again, the idea that commercial products can become folk culture by the process of oral transmission, etc. is NOT a concept that originated with Howard.

Master's of War is popular song written in a folk style. Dylan was at pains to point out that he was not a folksinger, that was a label hung around his neck by people who then accused him of 'betraying' folk when he picked up an electric guitar.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Art Thieme
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 04:27 PM

Well, I see I must change my mind now---after hearing so many tell me what I thought for 50 years is not correct. With that in mind, I feel I am ready to acknowledge that Odetta's hair style is, indeed, a part of the folk process! Anyone not agreeing, just f..k off.

Art


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 04:33 PM

Without naming names, I feel moved to quote that firne TRADITIONAL saying ---

viz   N O B O D Y   L O V E S   A   S M A R T A R S E


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 11 Sep 09 - 07:59 PM

yep, working radish, I meant, of course, protean, though promethean is interesting, as you suggest.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 12:32 AM

One of most influential songs of the Revival was Irish traveller Margaret Barry's wonderful, heartbreaking rendition of She Moved Through The Fair, which everyone, but everyone, was singing in fine traditional style in the late50s-early60s [despite its traditionality being disputed, whatever Wiki sez]. When ultimately asked in an interview [by Karl Dallas if memory serves] where she had learned it - on the road? from parents? from other travellers? - she replied cheerfully, "Oh no, I learned it off a gramophone record by Count John McCormack".

Not the first time I have mentioned this; but I thought it belonged on this thread also


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 08:00 AM

Oscar Wilde
"...I like talking to a brick wall- it's the only thing in the world that never contradicts me!"
Ah Oscar,I know the feeling well.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 12:03 PM

Heads up. Aldi are doing a folk processor at only £14.99. 200 year guarantee and traditional settings.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Art Thieme
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 01:39 PM

Yes, we ought to stuff all the SMARTARSE war lovers into the ARSENAL! (By way the the Andy Warhol.

Art


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 01:51 PM

Glueman,Notts County won today,did you see the match?


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 07:24 AM

Walter Pardon, categorised his songs by their style, or used style as a contributory factor as to how he judged them.
he differentiated between Music hall songs and child ballads or trtaditional songs,but he didnt differentiate between the songs on the basis of the folk process oe whether they had been altered by the folk process
Jim please correct me if I am wrong.
now were all or the majority of the songs Walter learned,learned by the folk process,and had they been processed?
if they were it means Walter who was a TRADITIONAL SINGER,didnt categorise his songs solely by whether they had been learned by the folk process,or solely because they had been folk processed.,he took other factors into consideration such as style.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 07:48 AM

Sorry Cap'n, in the middle of painting the bathroom - quick reply; more later.
Walter was present at family sing-songs (harvest and Christmas), but his participation was very slight; he said he song The Dark Eyed Sailor' bucause "nobody else wanted it".
When he returned home after the war the main singers of the family were all dead and, with the help of his mother, he began rebuilding the family repertoire; writing the texts in a notebook and memorising the tunes on the melodeon.
The tunes are extremely interesting as, while they appear to be the standard ones, little differences make them unique to him (Mike Yates wrote an interesting piece on this in Musical Traditions).
Walter's main singing was done in the context of the revival (as, in fact, I believe many of our traditional singers was).
I think I have a written account of Walter's 'collecting' and his introduction to the revival somewhere, which I will be happy to let you have (and/or put up on Mudcat if there is room - it's quite large).
Back to the ******* bathroom, more later,

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 04:15 AM

Just got back from a great weekend at the Osmotherley Gathering, where I listened to some superb singer/sonwriters, and there is something that is genuinely puzzling me: is the 'folk process' still going on, and if and when does a modern song become a folk song? Let me cite a couple of examples from personal experience, which are in no way unique to me.

I wrote a song called Beggars' Litany, based on the old couplet "from Hull, Hell and Halifax" etc., the first written version of which goes back to at least the 1630s and is obviously much older than that. It has appeared in a number of songs, not least The Dalesman's Litany. I have performed my song frequently but was amazed when a respected folk musician said that he had listened to someone singing it a couple of days previously and claiming it was a traditional song.

The second example is a song I wrote based on a story told to me by a family acquaintance, who was an old Yorkshire Wolds farmer, about the transition from horses to tractors. I sang this recently in a pub (funnily enough called The Chestnut Horse) in the very area that the song is about. Having finished it, an elderly bloke sat in front turned round, tears streaming down his face, and said that the song had touched him as that was exactly what had happened on his father's farm. This song was fortunate enough to win the songwriting competition at Osmotherley this weekend and one of the comments was that "it is already sounding like a classic".

So, my questions are: are these songs folk songs and, if not, what are they; will they ever become folk songs; and, if not, why not?


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 04:21 AM

Lady Glue had family over so my attendance was required away from Meadow Lane GSS, unfortunately. Only a few weeks ago you could get 33/1 for the Pies to win the league and astronomical odds for them to get to the Premier League in successive years.

It's looking a fair bet now.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 04:44 AM

leveller,in my opinion they are and they do not necessarily have to have been folk processed.
furthermore LITTLE WHITE BULL,will never be a folk song even if it is processed.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 05:02 AM

are these songs folk songs and, if not, what are they; will they ever become folk songs; and, if not, why not

OK, I'll bite. The first one's a standard; the second's a new song which may well become a standard. To become folk songs they'd need to be sung, and learnt, by non-specialists in non-specialised contexts.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 05:20 AM

"I have performed my song frequently but was amazed when a respected folk musician said that he had listened to someone singing it a couple of days previously and claiming it was a traditional song."

Why were you amazed? We know from threads like this, and others, that some people seem to take great pride in knowing nothing about the songs they sing or listen to - whilst others are very confused about what is, or what is not, a traditional song.

"So, my questions are: are these songs folk songs and, if not, what are they; will they ever become folk songs; and, if not, why not?"

As a song writer and singer you have as much responsibility for providing answers to these questions as anyone else here. Why are you passing the buck?


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 05:33 AM

Did the original 'folk' give a smug lecture before each performance to which the audience gave agreeable little laughs to the well rehearsed jokes and asides and potted histories? Or did they get and and sing it?


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 06:20 AM

"Did the original 'folk' give a smug lecture......"
If you just want to sing the songs, there is nothing in the world stopping you. You aren't averse to giving your own 'smug lectures' until you paint yourself into a corner with them - and then cry 'foul'
I thought you didn't believe in the existance of the 'original folk! - make up thaa mind lad'
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 06:31 AM

by non-specialists in non-specialised contexts.

I can think of no finer example of a specialism than Traditional English Folk Song, nor of any finer specialist than a Traditional Singer of such songs. This always occurred in a highly specialised context, that which we now might think of as The Tradition. The songs are as specialised as any example of a master-craftsman's art, be it a ploughman's perfect furrow, or cartwright's perfect axel, or the brickie's pointing on our Victorian terrace that I was admiring just this morning. It doesn't get any more specialist than that. Similarly the traditional singers were specialists too; master song-makers and song-modifiers, operating in their fluid oral / aural tradition of creative invention and adaptation, shaping the countless masterpieces and their innumerable variations that represent the very finest English Language verse has to offer. This was their medium; creative, dymanic, vital and as determinedly perfectionist as one could ever hope for.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 07:34 AM

Like I said Jimbo, if I didn't exist you'd have had to make me up. Judging by that cartoon depiction, you just did.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 07:34 AM

"Why are you passing the buck?"

I wasn't aware that I was. I was asking a question in the hope that people who appear to know more about the folk process than I do would give me an answer. No hidden agenda, just interested in what people thought.

Why is it that you can't ask a simple question here without people seeing their arses?


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 08:10 AM

"Like I said Jimbo, if I didn't exist you'd have had to make me up."
Still struggling with your 'Dirty Harry' persona I see, Can't wait for "Make my day succa".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Stringsinger
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 08:43 AM

Why can't a folk song grow from any specific source such as a recording or even a print version as did the revival of Barbara Allen? Where it comes from makes no difference as
long as it is a part of the process of change and variation.

If people take it up, preserve it through the ages, and it is common property, not
intellectual property by an individual who derives income from it, then it is a folk song.

Why have these folksongs survived? Because enough people sang 'em, changed 'em
and may have forgotten who wrote 'em.

Any one of the songs being written today is potential for being part of the "process".

But newly minted, they are not.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 10:01 AM

Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Stringsinger - PM
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 06:16 PM

I don't know if I mentioned this before but the biggest detractor of the "folk process"
is the modern copyright law. Performance rights societies try to avoid a public domain
designation for a song because no one can make a buck off of it. A song no longer
becomes part of the possession of the "commons" but becomes an individual's intellectual
"property". This is antithetical to the "folk process".

I have no problem with a song being composed or authored and the creators making money from it but it categorically and specifically not a folk song.

Anonymous and PD are often the determinants of a folk song.

Frank Hamilton
and
Any one of the songs being written today is potential for being part of the "process".

But newly minted, they are not.

Frank Hamilton
so does that mean composers of new songs have to do a BERT,AND PRETEND THEY ARE TRADITIONAL?
Next,any newly minted song does not have that potential,if it is not written in a certain style,that is why some[not all] of Paul Macartneys songs will never be Folk songs because even if they are processed,they will be what they are processed cheese,folksongs have a certain style,and why other newly minted songs willbe folk songs,it is to do with how they are written,and their melodies and uses of certain modes,they have an indelible stamp ,in the same way Jazz ,cannot be jazz without improvisation.
the folk process is only part of the equation.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 01:36 PM

"I was asking a question in the hope that people who appear to know more about the folk process than I do would give me an answer. No hidden agenda, just interested in what people thought."

I live in hope that you haven't got a 'hidden agenda', 'theleveller' but my experience of this board is that people who ask those sorts of questions already think that they know the answers to them. They are just waiting for those of us who believe that folk is a limited and definable genre to reveal ourselves so that they can then jump up and down shouting 'folk fascist!' or whatever.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 01:39 PM

They are just waiting for those of us who believe that folk is a limited and definable genre

I believe Traditional English Speaking Folk Song & Balladry to be a limited and definable genre (the evidence speaks for itself) just I don't believe it has anything to with 1954 or the folk process.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 01:40 PM

Go on Shimmy reveal yourself, you know you want to!


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 02:50 PM

"I live in hope that you haven't got a 'hidden agenda', 'theleveller' but my experience of this board is that people who ask those sorts of questions already think that they know the answers to them. They are just waiting for those of us who believe that folk is a limited and definable genre to reveal ourselves so that they can then jump up and down shouting 'folk fascist!' or whatever. "

Oh, dear, getting a persecution compex are we? If you have so much experience, why are you a Guest - or maybe a 'troll' would be a better description? And why, if you are so experienced, are you unwilling (or, more likely, unable) to answer my question?

As for being a 'folk fascist' - well, if the hat fits.....


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Brian Peters
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 02:53 PM

"So, my questions are: are these songs folk songs and, if not, what are they; will they ever become folk songs; and, if not, why not?"

I'm going to take theleveller's question at face value. First he/she is clearly writing good songs if they can move to tears people from the community they're written about. I sometimes sing Keith Marsden's 'Prospect Providence', which has the same kind of power.

Are they 'folk songs'? Well, a couple of weeks ago someone told me they'd heard a song I wrote twenty years ago being sung in their local singaround. That was mildly flattering but would never lead me to claim 'folk' status for it. If I'd walked into my local pub and found the bar ringing to the sound of my song, belted out by a roomful of people gathered around the old joanna (never mind that I've not heard a pub piano in our part of the world since I was seventeen), then... maybe. If I'd heard it crooned by drunken voices through the open window of a passing coach, then, maybe. One person in one little corner of the folk world...? I don't think so.

Like it or not, the folk music world is a small, specialised bubble which impinges only occasionally on the imagination of the populace at large. I tried to point out on the 'What is the Tradition' thread (which this one is rapidly coming to resemble in all its ill-tempered and often tedious detail) that's the folk scene is a very different beast culturally from the old singing tradition.

There are people who regard processes going on within that section of the folk scene (or revival, or whatever) where participatory singing takes place, as analagous to processes that used to go on in the wider population. If you believe that, and your songs take off within that specialised world, then you might want to call them 'folk songs'.

But why the need? Whether they're 'folk songs' or not is immaterial to their acceptance in any of those 'designated folk environments' that Mr. O'P likes to tell us about. In thirty years I've never found a folk club, festival or pub session (even ones liking to call themselves 'traditional') where there's been an insistence on nothing but 'folk processed', '1954', or 'authentic' material being performed. The traditionalists on this forum make no such demands of singing venues. Those kind of concepts only take the stage when someone - either for reasons of genuine curiosity or faeces-agitation - asks the question 'What is Folk?'

Just be happy that people are being moved by your songs.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 03:07 PM

"Like it or not, the folk music world is a small, specialised bubble which impinges only occasionally on the imagination of the populace at large."

I wonder why that might be?


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 03:16 PM

"Oh, dear, getting a persecution compex are we?"

No, I'm just a bit pissed off by lazy dishonesty.

"As for being a 'folk fascist' - well, if the hat fits....."

Thought so! Your agenda is revealed just as I predicted.

As for answering your questions, if you were really interested in the answers you could do the research just as well as I can.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 03:22 PM

either for reasons of genuine curiosity or faeces-agitation

That reminds me, I finally got round to watching 2 Girls 1 Cup last night and was dismayed that it didn't live up to the folkloric hype which permeates everything from the idle speculation of my mates down the folk club to a recent episode of Family Guy.

Otherwise - genuine curiosity every time, Brian!


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Brian Peters
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 04:00 PM

>> "Like it or not, the folk music world is a small, specialised bubble which impinges only occasionally on the imagination of the populace at large."

I wonder why that might be? <<

Probably because most people aren't comfortable with the sound of it. Folk music - pretty much however it's defined - sounds nothing like the commercial product we're all brought up on.

I doubt if it's anything to do with the legendary curmudgeons cited on the other thread. They impinge on the imagination of the populace at large not one iota.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: glueman
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 04:12 PM

"I doubt if it's anything to do with the legendary curmudgeons cited on the other thread. They impinge on the imagination of the populace at large not one iota."

Dunno about that either. I reckon if you asked the average chap or chapess to define what a traditional folk music enthusiast was like, 'grumpy' would score highly. 'Exclusive' and 'hairy' would follow close by.
Modern sensibilities often have an acoustic shaped hole to be filled and folk fits as well as anything. See a Bellowhead gig for the number of young, conventional people listening to English traditional music with very little in the way of song introductions to see how accessible it can be. If the population at large aren't listening it's not the fault of the music, so where does the blame lie?


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: Brian Peters
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 05:05 PM

The general health of the music looks better to me now than it has for decades. People like Bellowhead are certainly breaking out of the bubble. But public sterotypes of folk music still generally go along tired old 'Arran-sweater' lines.

'Grumpy' and 'exclusive' are new ones on me. 'Hairy', maybe.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 05:40 PM

This is just silly. "This Land is Your Land" was a folk song the first time Woody sang it, as was everything else he ever sang. The requirement that an illiterate hillbilly or drunken Irishman (& those are my roots)sing a song differently than they heard it to make it a folk song makes no sense. Neither does it make sense that some people take offense when you sing a folk song differently than "the right way" when at a jam. Lighten up people, it's not that important, and it's supposed to be for fun.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: theleveller
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 03:47 AM

Thanks for a genuine answer at last, Brian. I think I would agree with what you're saying. As for defining what folk is - I realised that you're on a hiding to nothing, there.

"Just be happy that people are being moved by your songs."

Oh, I'm more than happy with that. I'm not a professional musician, just someone who loves to write songs abot things that mean something to me. I was just curious to know if people thought that the "folk process", which is what this thread is about, is still happening.

GUEST:Shimrod, will you kindly stop trying to drag me down to your level with your unwarranted personal attacks. The only person who is being dishonest here is you by trying to imply that I have some hidden agenda which is simply not there. Just be a good chap and crawl back under your bridge and let those who are interested in the subject have an intelligent discussion.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 04:49 AM

Oh, it's not personal, 'theleveller' - how could it be? I don't even know you!

But experience suggests that people who 'innocently' ask the types of questions that you asked almost always (think that they) 'know' the answers in advance and are really just stirring it.

In my opinion a more honest approach would be for people state their opinions in advance rather than to ask 'loaded' questions. And again I would remind you that the answers to your questions are in the public domain and a little digging should produce them. The trouble is that there appears to be a rather vociferous group of people, within the folk community, who don't like those answers. They appear to believe that if they keep on asking the same questions over and over again they will eventually receive different answers which are more acceptable to them and more in line with their preconceptions.


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Subject: RE: The Folk Process
From: theleveller
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 07:25 AM

"But experience suggests that people who 'innocently' ask the types of questions that you asked almost always (think that they) 'know' the answers in advance and are really just stirring it."


Well, pardon me. For a minute there I thought that this was a discussion forum and that, as the thread is about The Folk Process, it would be interesting to hear some opinions, but our self-appointed GUEST moderator has decided he/she knows better than us and wants to dictate what Mudcat members can and can't post here, as well as being a mind-reader who can discern our motives without, on his/her own admission, knowing anything about us.

Anyway, back to the subject. Having been talking to a number of singer/songwriters at the weekend, there seemed to be a general consensus that they did, for various reasons, want to be recognised as the authors of their songs rather than have them deemed Trad. or Anon.(as has happened with songs like John Connolly's 'Fiddlers Green). What was interesting, however, was that they often resurrected half-forgotten stories and legends as the subjects for songs that had, I suppose, been through a sort of 'folk process' before the songs were written.


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