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Music of the people..Don't make me laugh

Johnny J 09 Nov 09 - 09:17 AM
Stower 09 Nov 09 - 09:39 AM
Jack Campin 09 Nov 09 - 09:56 AM
Johnny J 09 Nov 09 - 09:57 AM
Vic Smith 09 Nov 09 - 10:07 AM
katlaughing 09 Nov 09 - 10:09 AM
paula t 09 Nov 09 - 10:11 AM
artbrooks 09 Nov 09 - 10:35 AM
Amos 09 Nov 09 - 10:57 AM
TheSnail 09 Nov 09 - 10:58 AM
theleveller 09 Nov 09 - 11:43 AM
stallion 09 Nov 09 - 11:54 AM
Gervase 09 Nov 09 - 12:28 PM
Tim Leaning 09 Nov 09 - 12:44 PM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 09 Nov 09 - 12:52 PM
Leadfingers 09 Nov 09 - 12:54 PM
TheSnail 09 Nov 09 - 12:57 PM
Will Fly 09 Nov 09 - 12:57 PM
Marje 09 Nov 09 - 01:03 PM
Folkiedave 09 Nov 09 - 01:06 PM
Johnny J 09 Nov 09 - 01:11 PM
Tim Leaning 09 Nov 09 - 01:18 PM
Tim Leaning 09 Nov 09 - 01:20 PM
Tim Leaning 09 Nov 09 - 01:23 PM
The Sandman 09 Nov 09 - 01:23 PM
jacqui.c 09 Nov 09 - 01:27 PM
Folkiedave 09 Nov 09 - 01:31 PM
melodeonboy 09 Nov 09 - 01:32 PM
Stower 09 Nov 09 - 01:38 PM
stallion 09 Nov 09 - 01:40 PM
Acorn4 09 Nov 09 - 01:56 PM
GUEST,Ernest Wright 09 Nov 09 - 02:16 PM
Linda Kelly 09 Nov 09 - 03:11 PM
Tim Leaning 09 Nov 09 - 03:15 PM
Tim Leaning 09 Nov 09 - 03:18 PM
Jim Dixon 09 Nov 09 - 04:20 PM
Steve Gardham 09 Nov 09 - 06:42 PM
TheSnail 09 Nov 09 - 07:23 PM
GUEST,Ernest Wright 09 Nov 09 - 11:37 PM
GUEST,999 09 Nov 09 - 11:43 PM
MGM·Lion 09 Nov 09 - 11:58 PM
GUEST,Ernest Wright 10 Nov 09 - 12:38 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Nov 09 - 02:36 AM
Howard Jones 10 Nov 09 - 03:50 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 10 Nov 09 - 03:58 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 10 Nov 09 - 04:06 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Nov 09 - 06:36 AM
theleveller 10 Nov 09 - 07:20 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Nov 09 - 07:34 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Nov 09 - 07:35 AM
theleveller 10 Nov 09 - 08:43 AM
Stower 10 Nov 09 - 10:20 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 10 Nov 09 - 10:25 AM
MGM·Lion 10 Nov 09 - 10:54 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 10 Nov 09 - 10:57 AM
Mr Happy 10 Nov 09 - 10:57 AM
theleveller 10 Nov 09 - 11:11 AM
Mr Happy 10 Nov 09 - 11:13 AM
MGM·Lion 10 Nov 09 - 11:17 AM
Tim Leaning 10 Nov 09 - 11:48 AM
Dave Hanson 10 Nov 09 - 11:53 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Nov 09 - 11:57 AM
MGM·Lion 10 Nov 09 - 12:13 PM
theleveller 10 Nov 09 - 12:20 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Nov 09 - 05:17 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 10 Nov 09 - 05:55 PM
GUEST,Ernest W. 10 Nov 09 - 07:12 PM
MGM·Lion 10 Nov 09 - 09:37 PM
Tim Leaning 10 Nov 09 - 10:20 PM
MGM·Lion 10 Nov 09 - 11:38 PM
Dave the Gnome 10 Nov 09 - 11:45 PM
MGM·Lion 11 Nov 09 - 12:16 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Nov 09 - 04:46 AM
Brian Peters 11 Nov 09 - 05:25 AM
The Sandman 11 Nov 09 - 07:53 AM
Mr Happy 11 Nov 09 - 08:16 AM
Tim Leaning 11 Nov 09 - 08:40 AM
Dave the Gnome 11 Nov 09 - 09:47 AM
The Sandman 11 Nov 09 - 09:58 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Nov 09 - 10:34 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Nov 09 - 10:39 AM
The Sandman 11 Nov 09 - 11:16 AM
Stringsinger 11 Nov 09 - 11:31 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Nov 09 - 12:49 PM
The Sandman 11 Nov 09 - 12:56 PM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 11 Nov 09 - 01:00 PM
Steve Gardham 11 Nov 09 - 03:21 PM
MGM·Lion 12 Nov 09 - 03:38 AM
GUEST,Spleen Cringe 12 Nov 09 - 03:46 AM
Jack Blandiver 12 Nov 09 - 04:19 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Nov 09 - 04:38 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Nov 09 - 06:47 AM
Jack Blandiver 12 Nov 09 - 06:52 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Nov 09 - 07:25 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Nov 09 - 07:47 AM
The Sandman 12 Nov 09 - 07:51 AM
M.Ted 12 Nov 09 - 08:00 AM
Jack Blandiver 12 Nov 09 - 09:47 AM
Steve Gardham 12 Nov 09 - 10:48 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Nov 09 - 12:45 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Nov 09 - 03:02 PM
Paul Davenport 12 Nov 09 - 03:58 PM
The Sandman 12 Nov 09 - 04:07 PM
Brian Peters 13 Nov 09 - 01:27 PM
Steve Gardham 13 Nov 09 - 03:09 PM
Paul Davenport 14 Nov 09 - 03:51 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 14 Nov 09 - 05:05 AM
GUEST 14 Nov 09 - 05:35 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Nov 09 - 07:09 AM
The Sandman 14 Nov 09 - 07:11 AM
Paul Davenport 14 Nov 09 - 11:05 AM
MGM·Lion 14 Nov 09 - 11:44 AM
Paul Davenport 14 Nov 09 - 01:07 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Nov 09 - 02:54 PM
Paul Davenport 14 Nov 09 - 03:19 PM
GUEST,Johnny R. 14 Nov 09 - 03:29 PM
MGM·Lion 14 Nov 09 - 03:34 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Nov 09 - 03:34 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Nov 09 - 03:35 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Nov 09 - 03:44 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Nov 09 - 04:06 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Nov 09 - 04:11 PM
MGM·Lion 14 Nov 09 - 05:10 PM
The Sandman 14 Nov 09 - 05:12 PM
Stringsinger 14 Nov 09 - 05:14 PM
Paul Davenport 14 Nov 09 - 05:31 PM
MGM·Lion 14 Nov 09 - 05:38 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Nov 09 - 06:10 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Nov 09 - 07:12 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Nov 09 - 05:21 AM
The Sandman 15 Nov 09 - 05:32 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 15 Nov 09 - 05:36 AM
Dave the Gnome 15 Nov 09 - 05:50 AM
MGM·Lion 15 Nov 09 - 06:37 AM
MGM·Lion 15 Nov 09 - 06:47 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Nov 09 - 07:47 AM
MGM·Lion 15 Nov 09 - 08:23 AM
Steve Gardham 15 Nov 09 - 11:36 AM
Tim Leaning 15 Nov 09 - 12:01 PM
Paul Davenport 15 Nov 09 - 12:05 PM
The Sandman 15 Nov 09 - 12:12 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Nov 09 - 12:44 PM
MGM·Lion 15 Nov 09 - 12:46 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Nov 09 - 12:52 PM
The Sandman 15 Nov 09 - 01:02 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Nov 09 - 01:10 PM
Paul Davenport 15 Nov 09 - 01:28 PM
Steve Gardham 15 Nov 09 - 01:45 PM
Tim Leaning 15 Nov 09 - 06:35 PM
GUEST,Ernest W. 15 Nov 09 - 08:28 PM
Paul Davenport 16 Nov 09 - 02:31 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Nov 09 - 06:34 AM
Brian Peters 16 Nov 09 - 09:01 AM
The Sandman 16 Nov 09 - 09:31 AM
Howard Jones 16 Nov 09 - 11:19 AM
Stringsinger 16 Nov 09 - 11:39 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Nov 09 - 12:46 PM
Paul Davenport 16 Nov 09 - 01:07 PM
MGM·Lion 16 Nov 09 - 01:42 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 16 Nov 09 - 02:00 PM
GUEST,glueperson 16 Nov 09 - 02:21 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Nov 09 - 02:22 PM
Brian Peters 16 Nov 09 - 02:33 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Nov 09 - 03:36 PM
Paul Davenport 16 Nov 09 - 04:49 PM
Tootler 16 Nov 09 - 04:54 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Nov 09 - 06:17 PM
Joe_F 16 Nov 09 - 06:19 PM
Paul Davenport 17 Nov 09 - 01:49 AM
MGM·Lion 17 Nov 09 - 02:23 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Nov 09 - 03:29 AM
Brian Peters 17 Nov 09 - 05:31 AM
The Sandman 17 Nov 09 - 06:27 AM
Brian Peters 17 Nov 09 - 08:37 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Nov 09 - 09:02 AM
Steve Gardham 17 Nov 09 - 01:10 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Nov 09 - 01:18 PM
Paul Davenport 17 Nov 09 - 01:29 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Nov 09 - 03:10 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Nov 09 - 06:24 PM
Jim Carroll 18 Nov 09 - 03:43 AM
Lighter 18 Nov 09 - 10:03 AM
Marje 18 Nov 09 - 10:46 AM
Paul Davenport 18 Nov 09 - 10:59 AM
Jim Carroll 18 Nov 09 - 11:07 AM
Lighter 18 Nov 09 - 01:18 PM
Paul Davenport 18 Nov 09 - 01:39 PM
Howard Jones 18 Nov 09 - 01:44 PM
Jim Carroll 18 Nov 09 - 03:06 PM
MGM·Lion 18 Nov 09 - 03:20 PM
Steve Gardham 18 Nov 09 - 04:44 PM
Paul Davenport 18 Nov 09 - 06:32 PM
Folkiedave 18 Nov 09 - 07:35 PM
Howard Jones 18 Nov 09 - 07:51 PM
Jim Carroll 19 Nov 09 - 04:01 AM
Steve Gardham 19 Nov 09 - 06:22 PM
Jim Carroll 20 Nov 09 - 03:01 PM
Steve Gardham 20 Nov 09 - 05:22 PM
Jim Carroll 20 Nov 09 - 07:59 PM
Paul Davenport 21 Nov 09 - 04:01 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Nov 09 - 04:02 AM
Folkiedave 21 Nov 09 - 04:23 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Nov 09 - 08:49 AM
TheSnail 21 Nov 09 - 09:21 AM
Paul Davenport 21 Nov 09 - 11:41 AM
Billy Weeks 21 Nov 09 - 12:59 PM
MGM·Lion 21 Nov 09 - 01:09 PM
Jim Carroll 21 Nov 09 - 03:07 PM
Steve Gardham 21 Nov 09 - 05:34 PM
GUEST 21 Nov 09 - 10:51 PM
Jim Carroll 22 Nov 09 - 04:10 AM
TheSnail 22 Nov 09 - 05:40 AM
Billy Weeks 22 Nov 09 - 08:45 AM
Paul Davenport 22 Nov 09 - 08:51 AM
MGM·Lion 22 Nov 09 - 08:54 AM
Billy Weeks 22 Nov 09 - 09:09 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Nov 09 - 11:10 AM
Billy Weeks 22 Nov 09 - 01:13 PM
Billy Weeks 22 Nov 09 - 01:20 PM
ollaimh 22 Nov 09 - 02:11 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Nov 09 - 03:43 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 22 Nov 09 - 06:21 PM
Effsee 22 Nov 09 - 10:46 PM
Jim Carroll 23 Nov 09 - 04:04 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Nov 09 - 05:42 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 23 Nov 09 - 10:03 AM
Dave the Gnome 23 Nov 09 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,Sue Allan (cookieless at work!) 23 Nov 09 - 11:40 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Nov 09 - 12:55 PM
The Sandman 23 Nov 09 - 01:04 PM
Steve Gardham 23 Nov 09 - 05:07 PM
GUEST,Betsy 23 Nov 09 - 07:55 PM
Effsee 23 Nov 09 - 10:34 PM
MGM·Lion 24 Nov 09 - 02:09 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Nov 09 - 04:06 AM
MGM·Lion 24 Nov 09 - 04:19 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 24 Nov 09 - 04:49 AM
melodeonboy 24 Nov 09 - 05:08 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Nov 09 - 07:33 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Nov 09 - 11:41 AM
Dave the Gnome 24 Nov 09 - 12:08 PM
The Sandman 24 Nov 09 - 12:45 PM
Jim Carroll 24 Nov 09 - 01:20 PM
Dave the Gnome 24 Nov 09 - 01:44 PM
Jim Carroll 24 Nov 09 - 02:28 PM
ollaimh 01 Feb 10 - 01:28 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 01 Feb 10 - 02:22 PM
mousethief 01 Feb 10 - 06:04 PM
ollaimh 09 Feb 10 - 11:50 PM
Spleen Cringe 10 Feb 10 - 07:47 AM
Mr Happy 10 Feb 10 - 07:51 AM
artbrooks 10 Feb 10 - 08:17 AM
Will Fly 10 Feb 10 - 08:23 AM
Charmion 10 Feb 10 - 09:31 AM
artbrooks 10 Feb 10 - 09:54 AM
Lighter 10 Feb 10 - 09:59 AM
GUEST,999 10 Feb 10 - 09:00 PM
Little Hawk 10 Feb 10 - 09:18 PM
GUEST,999 10 Feb 10 - 09:19 PM
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Subject: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Johnny J
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 09:17 AM

It used be an old saying that folk clubs were full of teachers(Substitute any academic or middle class profession) who wished they were miners whereas the pits were full of miners wishing they were teachers.

Of course, music esp traditional should really be played, sung, and enjoyed by all the people but it does seem to be a mainly middle class pursuit.

Likewise, folk clubs and festival organisers.... Do you really need to be University professor or lecturer, head teacher, academic, doctor or whatever etc just to book a few gigs and lay out a few chairs?

Maybe, it's just an Edinburgh phenomenon but I suspect it's fairly well spread.

Please let us know your views while I duck... :-)


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Stower
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 09:39 AM

Johnny, for this discussion to be useful (and I think it's a really interesting one), we need to ...

1. define 'middle class' and 'working class'. Are these meaningful terms any more? Arthur Scargill said (and I certainly wouldn't agree with everything he said) that working class means anyone who has to work for a living, anyone who doesn't own the means of production. That's almost everyone. It certainly includes teachers and lecturers, and is not based on culture ('middle class culture', 'working class culture') or income (as such). Some of us used to define a 'working class' person as one working in industries which barely exist any more or are actually extinct in the west.

2. show that folk clubs are exclusively or predominantly populated by the middle class. Impossible, I'd say, working on the definition above. Who has done such a survey? When and where? What definitions were in use?

3. show that somehow the 'middle class' are 'to blame' for excluding the 'working class'. If the so-called 'working class' are absent by choice, because they'd rather be listening to something else, there's not much the rest of us can do about it. The 'working class culture' that gave rise to the spread of these songs has been dead a long time.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 09:56 AM

Might have been an original insight 250 years ago. Not a lot has changed in Edinburgh since then.

We have moved on a bit in our understanding, though: try Pierre Bourdieu's Distinction.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Johnny J
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 09:57 AM

Yes, all of the above comments are true but the majority of the population still don't have "high power" or "professional" occupations. Otherwise, we'd all be loaded with money. ;-)

It just strikes me that many of those involved in the organisational side of things, albeit on a voluntary basis, are quite over qualified for the job.

I'm not suggesting that they are being exclusive nor that they don't love the music (or have a perfect right to do so).

However, their own values will inevitably be reflected as regards booking policies, encouraging new members etc. So, is there a danger of this leading to the promotion of more "high falutin'" and esoteric type of events and a very narrow representation of what is actually available?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Vic Smith
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 10:07 AM

Johnny J said:-
"is there a danger of this leading to the promotion of more "high falutin'" and esoteric type of events and a very narrow representation of what is actually available?"


Yes, there is.

What do you do if you don't like this?

Organise something yourself that fits in with your own beliefs/expectations.

And don't kid yourself that this phenomenon is exclusive to folk clubs. My past experience of left wing activism in the UK is that is was dominated by the "professional" classes.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: katlaughing
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 10:09 AM

Maybe not exactly the right thread, but I have been watching for a place to put this quote...thinking of all those who have had teachers whol told them they couldn't sing, etc. My apologies if you don't think it fits in here:

"Use what talents you possess: The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best."   ---Henry Van Dyke


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: paula t
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 10:11 AM

So few people are prepared to make the huge effort and give up the time involved in running a folk club,and we all owe them such a lot for the service they provide on a purely voluntary basis.
I'm sure that if anyone sees a "gap in the market" and makes the effort to do something about it, they will be welcomed with open arms. There can never be too many folk clubs!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: artbrooks
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 10:35 AM

Well, the person here in Albuquerque (New Mexico, USA) who began and directs our folk festival is an office clerk (and plays a mean bass). Her principle assistant is a lawyer. The steering committee includes a secondary-school teacher, a mid-level city bureaucrat, a professional musician, a couple of retirees and a few people that I have no idea what they do. The one who generally hosts the song circle (sing-around) is a hospital social worker.

I think all of us would consider ourselves to be both working class and middle class. We all work for a living (or live on a pension derived from our employment) and we all have all of the trappings of middle-class living (or have chosen not to).

I don't think anyone involved owns "the means of production", and I don't think that there is University professor or lecturer, head teacher, academic, {or} doctor in the bunch...not that people in those occupations don't work. Are you implying that academics somehow shouldn't be allowed to enjoy folk (whatever that is) music and be involved in it's production and presentation? Rather pseudo-Marxist elitist of you, IMHO.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Amos
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 10:57 AM

AFAIAC, anyone who CAN organize, and does so in the interests of spreading folk music, is welcome to do so. Folk organizers are like folk musicians inthe respect some are more eclectic than other5s in their tastes.

"Don't make me laugh" is a bit of a sardonic comment, not to say bitter. Do you object to people who are in the "middle class" actually caring topromulgate folk music because they make too much money? OR because they've sold out to the organizational methods of society, for better or worse? OR what? Who do you think should take responsibility for organizing such events?

A


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: TheSnail
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 10:58 AM

I suppose as long term unemployed, I'm not working class. Does give me a lot of free time for leaflet folding though.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: theleveller
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 11:43 AM

"the pits were full of miners wishing they were teachers."

Well there are very few pits and very few miners left. Or steel workers. Or even farm workers. Those that aren't unemployed have probably retrained and may now be teachers - or in IT.

Listen to Ray Hearne's new album 'The Wrong Sunshine'. Ray was a South Yorkshire steel worker but got a degree and now works for the WEA (actually he's mrsleveller's boss). Damn fine singer/sonwriter and a damn fine folk musician. If you're interested in 'music of the people', his songs are well worth a listen.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: stallion
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 11:54 AM

I sing songs of the Napaleonic wars but I wasn't there! (Nor would I have wanted to be) I think the curious thing is that UK "folk" music is the domain of the culturally assumed intellectuals whereas popular culture seems to manage without it, or does it.
My recent experience is that one has to take the music into places where people are, do it and then tell them it is english traditional or whatever and see the look of surprise on their faces. It isn't the music it is the negative publicity people have attached to it that makes it un cool and so good old teachers and the like saw fit to keep it alive, fair play to em.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Gervase
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 12:28 PM

I'm a builder and farmer. Does that count? Trouble is, I never have the time to go to folk clubs.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 12:44 PM

Middle class means You cant answer the original question in a forthright and open manner, without first making sure that any other middle class person reading this thread is aware of your,education and position in society.
You will also be struggling between the need you feel to establish your entitlement(to whatever you feel it is others have or may have or may be plotting to have), and the not "quite niceness" of having to do so.
Mustn't seem too needy eh?
Now which cheek did I leave my tongue in?
LOL


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 12:52 PM

I was a miner...

Not the Billy Bragg lyric but a fact for what it's worth. I used to go to folk clubs and ok, occasionally sit and smile whilst a person who fits into your stereotype sang songs about mining.

Then the next morning, get my tallies and swing that ruddy rope.

All this about working class, middle class etc does wind me up somewhat. It is, I suppose, something to do with heritage? No matter. Working down the pit made me, I suppose, working class. But owning my own house? Owning a decent wine cellar, well stocked? Being married to a doctor? Having an aga in the kitchen?

I'm not working class. I'm not middle class. I am Steamin' Willie or whatever silly name I use next.

(Apologies to my mate who has the same IP address and gets hot & bothered when the moderators block me for being silly.)


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 12:54 PM

I MAY be totally off the mark , but the O P 's phrasing sounds to me like someone with their own agenda !
I consider myself to be Working Class , but HAVE run Folk Clubs and been assisted by ALL sorts of people with ALL sorts of jobs - A Bit like artbrooks !
The difference is that MOST people who DO attend Folk Clubs are the ones who actually USE That lump of matter between their ears , and dont follow blindly the dictats of The Media !


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: TheSnail
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 12:57 PM

Yeah well, you shouldn't go educating the working classes. They'll get ideas above their station and start wanting to be teachers and such. Next thing, they'll start getting interested in folk music.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Will Fly
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 12:57 PM

I don't give a bugger what section of "society" the people who run/help to run folk clubs, singarounds and sessions come from. They do it - and that's all that matters. Three cheers to them.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Marje
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 01:03 PM

I think most people in the clubs/sessions I go to work for a living (or have worked - there's a growing number of retired people now). I also notice that there's a high proportion of well educated people - people from professsions or from a university background. But it's not exclusively educated middle-class - I can think of one farmer and one gardener who are regulars at sessions.

So why this imbalance? No one decides that you need a degree to run or attend a folk club - the participants are entirely self-selecting, and make every effort to include and welcome anyone who wants to join. And money can't be an issue - playing at a session is free, and attending a folk club is a cheap night out by any standards. Folk music is cheap hobby.

If some social groups are under-represented, that's their choice. The social mix of people who play golf, or go to bingo, or join a choir, or go to the dog-racing, will not be a cross-section of society either.

Why shouldn't well educated people enjoy folk music? The tunes and songs of our forebears belong to us all. Even if we now work in a bank or a school or a hospital, we probably have ancestors who worked on the land and in the factories, who built the railways, or who fought against Napoleon.

Sure, it's the people's music, and we are the people!

Marje


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Folkiedave
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 01:06 PM

One of the first folk clubs I went to was organised by a printer. One of the first singers I ever met drove a dray wagon.

The next was organised by a painter and decorator and his wife. A woman who painted heraldic shields took over.

Sometimes you need to look past the obvious. Three of the members of our morris team have degrees gained at the age of 40 plus and one of them started life down the pit. Where would you put them?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Johnny J
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 01:11 PM

Thanks for all the replies so far...

Of course, I'm playing the devil's advocate a bit here and seeking to provoke some strong responses.

I do actually help to organise "folk music" myself and my previous occupation could be described as middle class...at least many of those within that particular job aspired to such things! :-)


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 01:18 PM

"Three of the members of our morris team have degrees gained at the age of 40 plus and one of them started life down the pit. Where would you put them?"
You don't put morris dancers anywhere,mate.
You can guess where they are gonna be.Bar,chippy,outside dancing etc.
But you cant put them there.
This one who was down t' pit?
How many legs has he got?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 01:20 PM

"I do actually help to organise "folk music" myself and my previous occupation could be described as middle class...at least many of those within that particular job aspired to such things! :-)"
Hmm what did I say? eh? eh?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 01:23 PM

"I don't give a bugger what section of "society" the people who run/help to run folk clubs, singarounds and sessions come from. They do it - and that's all that matters. Three cheers to them."
Well said that chap


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 01:23 PM

Yeah well, you shouldn't go educating the working classes. They'll get ideas above their station and start wanting to be teachers and such. Next thing, they'll start getting interested in folk music. Quote Snail.
thanks Bryan,ah thats my problem,one o level, I have got above myself, christ, I will be getting punctuation right next, I might even learn to sing properLY too, and even play the concertina in the correct style.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: jacqui.c
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 01:27 PM

IMO folk music as it stands today probably wouldn't exist without the people who collected a lot of the old songs from the original singers. I think that most of the collectors would probably fit into the category of 'middle class'.

Looking back, before the era of radio and TV, people had to make their own entertainment and so it is probable that, the lower down the scale one came as far as class was concerned, one of the main entertainment may have been singing songs that related to their lives and to history. nowadays, with the dirth of entertainment options available to everyone, folk music has taken a real backseat, partially due, I think, to the reputation it has as being dated.

In most of the folk groups I've been to there is a real mix of people from many walks of life. Their common interest is in the music. whoever is keeping the music going, I would say thanks for that.

Johnny J - have you tried to get a folk session going in your area? If not, why not?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Folkiedave
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 01:31 PM

You can guess where they are gonna be.Bar,chippy,outside dancing etc.

DANCING?

You are having a laugh mate.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: melodeonboy
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 01:32 PM

"Don't make me laugh"?

Don't make ME laugh! I'm sure the people who go to the folk clubs that I frequent would be most amused if other people assumed they were - what is it? - university professors, lecturers, scademics etc.

They are a real cross section: some employed, some unemployed and some retired. Some financially comfortable, some solvent and some broke. And yes, there is one teacher among them, but he has shown no signs yet of wanting to be a miner!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Stower
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 01:38 PM

Johnny J: "Music of the people..Don't make me laugh". Mmmm. People who you seem to consider unfit for folk music are people, too.

You've started an interesting debate. Are you going to look back in and respond? Please do.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: stallion
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 01:40 PM

Ay up, we have a university proff. an archealogist and an electrician in our happy band!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Acorn4
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 01:56 PM

I suppose the presence of teachers may be down to the fact that their job has to do with communication.

No so sure about the accountants and civil servants.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Ernest Wright
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 02:16 PM

It's not particularly surprising that there should be an above-average number of educationalists/academics (or just people with a historical bent) within the folk movement, because folk music (if by that term you mean the sort of songs/tunes collected by Child, Sharp, etc.) hasn't been the 'music of the people' since the late 19th or very early 20th C., and even then those 'people' tended to be in rural agricultural areas yet to catch up with the encroaching music hall fashions.

Despite any wishful talk of a 'living tradition', to continue to perform this material (if we talk of a largely static canon of 'traditional' repertoire that is mostly 100-300 years old) in the 21st century is a very consciously antiquarian, anachronistic pursuit (as is playing Bach, Mozart, etc. in the classical realm), usually defined *against* the electrified pop music to which the vast majority of the population listens. Of course, the urban, anachronistic folk revival has itself become a tradition, but it will continue to be a specialised one precisely because of its historicist bias.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 03:11 PM

Dammit -I didn't know I was supposed to ask them what they did before I let them into the club!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 03:15 PM

Ah but Linda we would have lied to get in anyway.
LOL


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 03:18 PM

Which cross section are you in?
Or maybe "Cross" isn't strong enough to describe how you feel?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 04:20 PM

OK, I will list the occupations of all the friends I can think of who are fans of folk music.

I'm retired from several office-type jobs. My wife is an elementary school teacher. One friend is a nearly full-time folksinger who does a little craft-making on the side. One is an occupational therapist in treatment center for delinquent teenagers. Two are chiropractors. One is a self-employed garden designer and builder. One has a couple of part-time jobs: she is a museum docent and a shop assistant.

I guess we're all middle-class and college-educated, but not "academics". As a matter of fact, in my last job, I worked at a university in a non-academic capacity, but I became acquainted with lots of professors. I can't recall any of them ever saying they were interested in folk music. There was an anthropology professor who loved Indonesian gamelan music. Does that count?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 06:42 PM

Whilst it doesn't fit every folk community precisely Ernest's very accurate description cannot be denied in the vast majority of cases in the UK. I am proud to have been part of the Folk Revival in the 60s when most of us were working class with aspirations and fire in our bellies, but I'm afraid it's true, we're now all in our 60s and decidedly middle class however you want to define it. (And for most of us the fire has gone out!)


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: TheSnail
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 07:23 PM

Folkiedave

one of them started life down the pit.

Good grief! The bosses wouldn't even give his mother a day off from the coalface for that.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Ernest Wright
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 11:37 PM

Just browsing through a history book (Gareth Stedman Jones's 'Languages of Class'), I found an amusing quotation reinforcing my point above, referring to changing popular tastes in the 1890s:

'Formerly Shakespeare plays and ballad singing had been popular items of a social evening. Now music hall entertainment was all that was demanded. According to a report of a social in one South London club:
"A gentleman so far forgot himself as to sing two Ballads at the South Bermondsey Club the other evening, and was hissed by the younger people present, who left the hall in disgust. This is the result of giving the younger people 'Hi-ti' and 'Get Yer 'Air Cut', and pandering to a vitiated taste."'

(Cf. Mudcatters denouncing e.g. The X-Factor for 'pandering to a vitiated taste' some 120 years on.)


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,999
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 11:43 PM

"Music of the people..Don't make me laugh"

Humourous songs are meant to do that.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Nov 09 - 11:58 PM

Ernest W - that v interesting. 'Ballads' there, I would take to mean what we would call "Drawing-Room ballads' like 'HomeSweetHome' or 'Maud', rather than what we Catters would mean by the term?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Ernest Wright
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 12:38 AM

Presumably the drawing-room kind, yes, but the account idealises them in the same way that 'we' would tend to idealise the Child kind.

The essential paradox at the heart of the 20th C. folk revival is that the very concept of 'folk music' only really comes into being at the point when it is identified by middle-class collectors as something threatened with extinction. The 'source singers', of course, did not use the term, nor did they necessarily distinguish between 'traditional' and 'commercial' songs in their repertoire, with the consequence that the former did eventually become extinct in their 'natural habitat', with the exception of a few outposts like Blaxhall Ship.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 02:36 AM

"The 'source singers', of course, did not use the term,"
Some did, some didn't, but most of them had their own names or means of identification for the songs we call 'folk' (see relevant threads).
"nor did they necessarily distinguish between 'traditional' and 'commercial' songs in their repertoire,"
Yes, they most certainly did - this has been argued ad nauseum elsewhere and apparently remains one of the great myths that haunt this subject. I woud be interested to learn on what evidence people who make this claim base it on.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Howard Jones
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 03:50 AM

I don't actually know what most of the people I know through folk music do for a living, or what class they fall into. What unites them is a shared interest in the music. That's all that matters.

The terms "working class" and "middle class" are becoming meaningless, since the lifestyles of both are increasingly similar. Is a factory worker with a degree working class or middle class? A plumber may be self-employed and perhaps employs others, is he working class or middle class (especially as he may be earning more than someone in a traditional middle-class profession)?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 03:58 AM

Howard said "I don't actually know what most of the people I know through folk music do for a living, or what class they fall into2

Oh good! And I thought it was just me...


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 04:06 AM

I take it the common link here is music?

In the words of Sir Thomas Beecham;

"The English don't appreciate music, but they love the noise it makes."

Not trying to make a point, just the ramblings of an ex miner / singer / songwriter who used to love playing in folk clubs but not any more. Can't say why, I don't really know but whenever I do go to a folk night, I confuse nostalgia with a good night out. The nostalgia is still there.... just.

Sorry, but that's how it is. I browse these pages to see if any old mates turn up.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 06:36 AM

It is virtually impossible to give an answer to such a simplistically phrased statement.
Did the o.p. mean - did folk song come from 'the people'? - If so, yes, they most certainly did.
It is obvious from the use of vernacular, the familiarity with detail, the descriptions, - etc, that bothie songs originated with the Aberdeenshire farm-workers, that the forbitters came from the experiences of sailors who sailed before the mast, that the songs of the cotton industry came from mill workers…… etc. The fact that the songs reflect the lives and experiences of the people who sang them as accurately as they do pretty well confirms this – for me anyway. The clincher is the fact that the folk repertoire is almost entirely anonymous and the product of many rather than single composers, therefore, if Bert Lloyd was right, too poor to be acknowleged.   
If further proof were necessary, run your finger down the lists of our source singers and note their occupations – Walter Pardon, carpenter from a farming background, Harry Cox, land labourer, Phil Tanner, mill worker and farm labourer, Margaret Barry, street singer, Jeannie Roberson, The Stewarts, Phoebe Smith, John Doherty, Duncan Williamson…… Travellers/tinsmiths/horse-dealers - small farmers, navvies, factory workers, building workers……... ie 'the people'
If our folk songs are not 'the people's songs' whose are they?
This assumes, of course, that we are talking about folk songs proper and not those which are passed off as such nowadays, which are completely different cans of worms!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: theleveller
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 07:20 AM

"This assumes, of course, that we are talking about folk songs proper and not those which are passed off as such nowadays, which are completely different cans of worms!!"

Jim, that's a rather enigmatic statement and I'm curious to know what you mean by a 'proper' folk song. Are you saying that there are no folk songs being written nowadays, or that people are writing songs and passing them off as traditional?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 07:34 AM

"Are you saying that there are no folk songs being written nowadays"
hat's about itreally - folk is a process, not a style of writing.
'The people' in the sense I believe the the op means, no longer are pat of their cultre, just passive recipients of it.
One full time collector (35 years ago), in Ireland, wherethe tradiion as still much more apparent, if not thriving, put iperfectly whenhe described his work as "a race with th undertaker".
What we have now is a revival, so diffrent thn te groups who sing Elizabethn madrigals
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 07:35 AM

Sorry about the typing - keyboard problems.
Jim Caoll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: theleveller
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 08:43 AM

So when was the last folk song written, Jim? If it's no longer happening, there must be a finite date when it stopped.

I agree that folk is not a style, but I disagree that folk songs are not still being written. They are the songs that people write about their everyday lives - for instance, I mentioned Ray Hearne earlier. The songs he writes about the steel and coal industries of South Yorkshire that he worked in and the impact that their closure has had on the local communities are, to my mind, definitely folk songs. Still, I don't suppose we'll ever agree on that.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Stower
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 10:20 AM

Jim Carroll 10 Nov 09 - 07:34 AM
"Are you saying that there are no folk songs being written nowadays"
That's about it really - folk is a process, not a style of writing.
'The people' in the sense I believe the the op means, no longer are pat of their cultre, just passive recipients of it.

I've sometimes wondered about this (and sorry for the thread drift here). I'm really not trying to be funny or perverse when I say this, but if 'Yesterday', 'Eleanor Rigby', even 'The Birdie Song' for Chrissakes, are known by a huge number of the population, sung at karaokes and joined in by the whole room, everyone knows it and no one cares who wrote it, does that now make them folk songs? I'm struggling to see the difference between this and the ballad mongers of old wriitng their songs and selling their wares, which then, if they were lucky, became popular songs passed down the generations (as the songs I have mentioned have been). The only change I can see is different times, different technology. The process seems the same.

Sorry. I'll go away now.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 10:25 AM

I remember years ago at a festival, Dave Burland sang (for the first time) I Don't Like Mondays, the Boomtown Rats song that happened to be in the charts at the time.

A true folk song, he said. I agree. It described an event that happened, stirred emotions about the event and commented on the futility of peoples' actions.

Take that where you will. Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple, an excellent folk song. Even noted that Frank Zappa had been playing at the hall the night it burned down. Woodstock is self explanatory, and Anarchy in The UK was Johnny Rotten's vivd folk song about the state of British society. Most people now realise what a fine folk singer / songwriter Bruce Springsteen is, and many "blue collar" workers in the USA will feel an affinity with his songs. (Harry Chapin certainly did.)

So, peoples' music? Teachers' music? Miners' music?

Isn't every song or piece of music Folk Music?

Or does it have to entail beer, beards and three chords?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 10:54 AM

"Isn't every song or piece of music Folk Music?"

Oh for gods sake we are going to be back to that fucking horse in a minute! Of course it isn't — any more than Swan Lake is a folk dance or War & Peace a folk tale. Please don't let us get off on THAT dreary road again...


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 10:57 AM

Fully agree.

But can't think of a better way to conclude!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Mr Happy
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 10:57 AM

Music is music is music!!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: theleveller
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 11:11 AM

I don't think it's thread drift. If there are no more folk songs being written then you can't say that folk music IS the music of the people, just that folk music WAS the music of the people. Today, presumably, the music of the people is........?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Mr Happy
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 11:13 AM

Which people?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 11:17 AM

"Music is music is music!"

& bullshit is bullshit is bullshit - & bollox is bollox is bollox - & how much further on has THAT o-so-valuable insight got us then!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 11:48 AM

I wonder if there is anything on the telly tonight?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 11:53 AM

Yes a bowl of fruit and a picture of my granny.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 11:57 AM

"So when was the last folk song written, Jim?"
No idea - the last identifiable community to make songs which were taken up and remade was the Travellers (all sorts of explainable reasons).
We started recording Irish Travellers in 1973 when they still had a fairly thriving tradition - by 1975 (18 months later) that tradition had disappeared - reason - they'd all gone out and bought portable televisions and the singers and storytellers lost their audiences, virtually overnight.
"Music is music is music!!"
Just as soup is soup is soup - personally I prefer mushroom, just as I prefer folk.
"Please don't let us get off on THAT dreary road again..."
Sorry Mike, it wasn't my intention to open this particular can of worms, but it is (as far as I am concerned) inseperable from this (and many other) questions connected with folk music.
"Today, presumably, the music of the people is........?"
The 'people' at one time made songs - again, for all sorts of reasons; now they don't (they all went out and bought televisions too).
People's music implies not just a passive acceptance, but an active part in ts making and transmission - it doesn't happen now - or does it?
They listen to light classical, middle of the road, pop (in all its manifestations)..... If you go into a South Wales ex (thanks to Mrs T) mining village you'll find (ex) miners choirs singing Verdi, Gounod, Gluck, Schubert, Brahms..... folk???? I think not.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 12:13 PM

Jim - My 'DREARY road" plea was addressed to Steamin' Willie, not to you. Can't find anything you've said above I would take any issue with.

As I have remarked so oft, the value to me of folksong, tales, &c, is that they are all that has been salvaged from the terrible waste of talent there must have been when talented people, [which there always would have been in every part of society] had not other outlets for their creative impulses due to lack of education or opportunity. In a way, therefore, it seems to me that true folk artefacts will not have long survived the onset of universal education [except, as you rightly point out, in enclaves like Travellers who might well have missed out], because then the talented among 'the people' (& you know what I mean) had the opportunity to find outlets which had previously been closed to them. Don't know how valid this view may be; but it is always the explanation I offer to those who want some rationale for my unreserved love for the traditional.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: theleveller
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 12:20 PM

"Yes a bowl of fruit and a picture of my granny."

Wow, it must be a very old telly. I'll bet it knows some good folk songs ;)


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 05:17 PM

bothie songs originated with the Aberdeenshire farm-workers, that the forbitters came from the experiences of sailors who sailed before the mast, that the songs of the cotton industry came from mill workers…… etc. The fact that the songs reflect the lives and experiences of the people who sang them as accurately as they do pretty well confirms this – for me anyway. The clincher is the fact that the folk repertoire is almost entirely anonymous and the product of many rather than single composers, therefore, if Bert Lloyd was right, too poor to be acknowleged.

Jim,
Do you still really believe this stuff? Yes, I'll grant the Bothy songs, some of them at least, but the vast majority of what we call folk songs were at the outset commercial products made up by beoadside hacks, song writers in the theatres, supper rooms, pleasure gardens, music halls. Give me an example of a forebitter made up by a sailor!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 05:55 PM

Getting back to the (equally dreary old) class thing again. I came from a working class family and when I aspired to an education middle class teachers told me that I was getting above my station. A few years down the line, when I had acquired my education, middle class 'socialist' teachers accused me of being 'middle class'! This experience caused me to take this class thing with a pinch of salt and led me to conclude that some teachers are very insecure people who feel the need to exclude others. Personally, I think that in society there are workers, unemployed workers and bosses - and the bosses are not to be trusted.

My message to teachers who want to exclude me, for whatever reason, is f*ck off - I no longer give a sh*t about what you think of me!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Ernest W.
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 07:12 PM

Jim Carroll wrote:
'Yes, they [the source singers] most certainly did [distinguish between 'traditional' and 'commercial' songs in their repertoire] - this has been argued ad nauseum elsewhere and apparently remains one of the great myths that haunt this subject. I would be interested to learn on what evidence people who make this claim base it on.'

Even if this were the case - i.e. that recreational singers in rural areas divided their songs into 'the old/orally transmitted ones' and those of more obviously recent (theatre/music hall, then gramophone/radio) provenance - clearly the majority ended up preferring the latter, or the oral tradition would not have died out.

It is interesting that the purist wing that emerged from the 60s revival and saw itself as reacting against the supposed middle-class insensitivity of Cecil Sharp - I'm thinking of people like Reg Hall and everyone involved with the Musical Traditions magazine/label - continue to reproduce his romantic notion of a 'tradition' untouched by interactions with a commercial entertainment industry, even though such a thing had begun to come into existence at least as early as the 17th century. Dave Harker, whatever one might think of his critical Marxist angle, did some persuasive research on this subject.

As Steve Gardham points out a couple of posts above, far from all being improvised by farm labourers in their spare hours, many of what are now considered 'traditional' songs had origins as printed broadsides. In fact, what strikes me when listening to CDs in the Hall-curated Voice of the People series is how few of the songs recorded correspond to the Child/Sharp/Vaughan Williams ideal of folk songs. Looking at the texts, there's a lot of doggerel that smacks more of the street ballad than the neater or slightly more 'poetic' lyrics (supposedly polished by the unconscious literary instinct of the 'folk') favoured by the collectors and the latter-day folk musicians (M. Carthy et al) who worked from the Penguin Book.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 09:37 PM

I think it will be relevant here to quote, as I have done on a previous thread, what I wrote on this subject (re Mrs Hogg & Sir Walter Scott) in my article on Folklore in the Continuum Encyclopedia of British Literature [NY 2003] —

'"They were made for singin' and no for readin', but ye hae broken the charm now, and they'll never be sung mair." Her words have been called prophetic, but the resultant decline in living folklore was probably a factor of the same influences that led to the folkloric researches of Scott and others in the first place — awareness that urbanization and the spread of easily accessible forms of popular entertainment (pleasure gardens, music-hall; later, radio, cinema, television, recording) were undermining those popular roots on which the uninhibited spread of living folklore depends, and a consequent desire to preserve what could be saved before it vanished entirely. Although the folk forms have turned out tougher than this pessimistic view suggested, it is true that, from the invention of printing onward, every technological and popular artistic development had tended to fix the form. Mrs Hogg, alas, was too late.'


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 10:20 PM

"As I have remarked so oft, the value to me of folksong, tales, &c, is that they are all that has been salvaged from the terrible waste of talent there must have been when talented people, [which there always would have been in every part of society] had not other outlets for their creative impulses due to lack of education or opportunity."
MtheGM
That does read(to me) as if you think the folksong ,tales etc you value are
second rate because the people that originated and developed them were not educated and didn't have other outlets for their talent.
Is that what you meant?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 11:38 PM

No, Tim Leaning — on the contrary, I think they manifest an extraordinary talent — often unsophisticated [as I have often also said, I greatly value the way that traditional lyrics have a marvellous knack of teetering on the very edge of doggerel but never quite tumbling in {think e.g. of the marvellous exchange between Willie & his brother who just happened to be standing on the shore at 1 o'clock in the morning as Willie fell off his horse into Clydewater in Child#216 — quite absurd as Child points out, but how superbly effective}]; but with a wonderful, unique sort of sensitivity and exquisiteness of their own. But 'unsophisticated' by no means means 'second-rate', but different in kind from the more polished creations acceptable in more refined circles. It is surely this distinctiveness of tone and approach which all of us who so love them value so much. Is that not how you see and 'feel' them also? If not, what do you appreciate about them and think makes them different from other types of creativity?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 10 Nov 09 - 11:45 PM

Does the profession or social status of the singer change the song?

DeG


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 12:16 AM

D e G - Not clear whether you mean of the original singer, or of the modern folk interpreter who sings them now? Please clarify the point of your question.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 04:46 AM

"Do you still really believe this stuff?.......
Absolutely Steve - for the reasons I have given - vernacular, familiarity.. etc, also, how the songs sit within the tradition, and the proprietorial attitude adopted by the singers towards their songs.
"Give me an example of a forebitter made up by a sailor!"
I will happily Steve, if you, or anybody can produce anything like convincing proof of the authorship of our traditional songs - broadside printers or otherwise (other than a "gut feeling".)
Do your really believe that a Seven Dials denizen could produce anything as authentic as 'Round Cape Horn' or Harry Cox's 'Van Dieman's Land'?
This area of West Clare has not only been a gold mine for traditional songs, but also it has been an extremely active song-writing area, particularly in the early years of the 20th century. We have folders of locally made traditional songs (or traditional songs in the making) on subjects like the Irish War of Independance, fashions, fishing disasters, sprees, The West Clare Railway (4 songs on that), the singing of the French ship, The Leon XIII, musicians, emigration (dozens).... - all obviously locally produced - and nearly all anonymous - though they must have been made within the lifetimes of the singers we met (and got some of them from). Can you come up with anything approaching that?   
I'll show you mine Steve if you show me yours!
"I would be interested to learn on what evidence people who make this claim base it on."
Would thirty odd years of interviewing source singers do, Ernest?
The results of this can be found in our collection in The British Library, but you might like to read what Walter Pardon and others have to say on the subject in my reply to Mike Yates' 'The Other Songs', making a similar point to your own ('By Any Other Name' - Enthusiasms section, Musical Traditions (can't remember the date).
I really do get a little tired of our traditional singers being regarded as merely sources for songs and not the sentient human beings they most certainly where - If I can tell the difference between 'Knock 'Em In The Old Kent Road' and 'Tiftie's Annie' why on earth shouldn't they be able to????
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Brian Peters
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 05:25 AM

Ernest W. wrote:
"Even if this were the case - i.e. that recreational singers in rural areas divided their songs into 'the old/orally transmitted ones' and those of more obviously recent (theatre/music hall, then gramophone/radio) provenance - clearly the majority ended up preferring the latter, or the oral tradition would not have died out."

I thought that the oral tradition died out because people simply stopped singing, not because they substituted more recent material for the older stuff. Many of the singers we know of from the 1950s and 60s had repertoires including both, but that was pretty much the last gasp of widespread recreational singing, a few surviving outposts notwithstanding.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 07:53 AM

this thread reminds me of going round and round the circle line on the london underground.
all we need is Betjemans poem about the man lost in kentish town underground


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Mr Happy
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 08:16 AM

.........is that the one that goes:

'he never returned & his fate is still unlearned'?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 08:40 AM

"Is that not how you see and 'feel' them also? If not, what do you appreciate about them and think makes them different from other types of creativity?"

I don't study this,or any other subject for that matter.
I hear the older songs when I am lucky enough to be at avenue and someone else chooses to sing them.
I find that as with all other music/songs I enjoy the emotion that they bring,whatever that may be sadness,joy or disgust.
If they scan and hang together and sound right I enjoy them.
I don't think that the performance is as important as that but I do appreciate the performance whether it is a fine professional one or a loud drunken one.
Sometimes I need them explaining to me,well the parts that are of their time and not common knowledge today.
And I appreciate the knowledge that people who do take the time to study can impart.
I don't however think they are more important than any other form opf music or song.
I think a good song is a good song is a good song etc .
Thanks for clearing up what it was you had meant in your previous post as it did seem to run against what I had previously thought your POV was.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 09:47 AM

D e G - Not clear whether you mean of the original singer, or of the modern folk interpreter who sings them now? Please clarify the point of your question.

Sorry - I was a bit vague. I am just asking if the status of the singer changes the intrinsic value of the song, it's message or it's meaning. I know that the singer can change it tonaly etc. but I don't think that has anything to do with profession either does it?

DeG


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 09:58 AM

I really do get a little tired of our traditional singers being regarded as merely sources for songs and not the sentient human beings they most certainly where - If I can tell the difference between 'Knock 'Em In The Old Kent Road' and 'Tiftie's Annie' why on earth shouldn't they be able to????
Jim Carroll
yes,Jim but they sang them both
furthermore some of the more recent traditional singers[I dont mean Walter Pardon,he was a very good singer] have sung all sorts of material and some of it was not well sung,but because they have a certain label they are revered,regardless of their singing abilty.
why should I choose to listen to In these hard times[music hall song]being sung by a traditional singer NOT VERY WELL,whenIcan hear RoyBailey singing it better.
If a traditional singer like Bob Lewis[who is a good singer]sings a song well,I listen,the same applies to a good revival singer.
I am not prepared to listen to a mediocre traditional singer singing a music hall song just because he has been labelled traditional, if there is a better revival singer,doing a better job,thats the version I listen to .


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 10:34 AM

Sorry Cap'n
Personally I'm not fond of of Roy Bailey and would prefer to hear the singing of even the less talented of our traditional singers - but that's probably me being bloody-minded.
We've argued this before, but I totally refuse to judge a singer from, say Knapton, Winterton, Potter Heigham, Miltown Malbay, The Gower Peninsular - wherever... with the same yardstick I would use to judge a revival singer used to singing regularly in a folk club. For me, most of our source singers bring a depth to the songs that I find sadly lacking in all but a tiny handful of revival singers, and it is this which is the essence of traditional singing, But again, that's me (and you know how I feel about Comhaltas and its bloody kiss-of-death competitions!
I don't expect reverence, just a recognition that our traditional singers occupied a diffent world - and maybe the occasional bit of gratitude for the gift they've given us.
But this isn't about personal taste - it's about whether our singers are capable of differentiation. I believe, based on our experiance, they most certainly are, and it's somewhat patronising to suggest otherwise.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 10:39 AM

PS I meant to say (again) if anybody was to leaf through our record collection - as well as our collection of traditional material, you would also find Sinatra, Count John, Peggy Lee, Callas, Broonzy.... and a host of others. I listen to them all - doesn't mean to say I can't tell that they come from a different stable!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 11:16 AM

iam not arguing whether or not they come from a different stable,but I am saying there are good revival singers and good traditional singers and there are also mediocre traditional singers.,and that when i choose to listen to music for enjoyment,its based on a qualitative judgement,if I listen to learn a particular song my criteria might be different.
that does not mean I dont appreciate them as song carriers,but that is a different appreciation
when I make a judgement about singing,I do it based on their singing not on how they are labelled.
for example I like Harry Cox,but not Gordon Hall[both traditional singers],I also like Bob Blake[even though he was not a traditional singer].
I also like the revival singer Ron Taylor.
yes some traditional may have differentiated, but most good performers[and that includes some traditional ones] know there are songs suitable for different situations,Sam Larner knew perfectly well when to sing a certain kind of song and was a consummate perform,or do you disagree?
so if some traditional singers were good performers[knowing how to work an audience],why should we use a different yardstick?
why should we make excuses for mediocre traditional singers,I agree they may be worth listening to if they have an interesting repertoire,but that does not mean they are all necessarily good interpreters,most are but not all
I dont think it is as black and white as you make out,
and personally Iam not prepared to sit in revernce listening to a traditional singer giving a poor performance of a music hall songor amodern song,just because he is labelled a traditional singer,this same singer might give an excellent rendition of a traditional song:
why, because as a performer he values one more than the other,but that can apply to any performer revival or traditional


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Stringsinger
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 11:31 AM

I think that there are working class people who appreciate folk music and identify with it.
When it was appropriated by the Left Wing in the forties under Browder, it was more of
a self-conscious effort by people who really appreciated folk music to make it music of the people. In those days, Benny Goodman was more music of the people in the cities. Bob Wills in Texas.

Just because folk music isn't hugely popular doesn't mean that it isn't working-class or music of "the people". What people? So much is controlled by the media these days that what is popular is being manipulated by music merchants and those in the cultural seats of power.

The idea that popular music is the music of the people is analogous to the idea of the "tyranny of democracy" that was so trumped up by right-wing ideologues. Popular music is a business. Folk music in its intent is not.

It exists as a music of the people, maybe not the people the author of this thread has in mind.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 12:49 PM

Cap'n,
I'm not making out anything - I have no more right to argue against your taste, than you have mine - this is not about preference, good, bad or whatever, it is about where our songs came from and whether they are 'The Music of The People'.
We can choose to learn or songs from Ron Taylor (who got his songs from traditional singers - directly or indirectly) or Peter Bellamy (who got his songs from traditional singers i or i) or Martin Carthy (who got his....) or whoever you care to mention who sings folk songs - the point being that without our traditional singers we wouldn't have any traditional songs - for this they have my eternal gratitude and I hope, yours .
Everything else is a matter of personal taste.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 12:56 PM

of course, Jim .


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 01:00 PM

I suppose that if you strip away the heritage (subject matter, origins of tune etc) you are left with a style. Granted, a style that is at the very least a broad church! I was in a ceilidh band, tried serious "contemporary" style as a singer / songwriter and also got into comedy as part of a double act. All these were welcome at (most) folk clubs.

However, a style is a style. Perhaps that, rather than the subject and history is what most people recognise as folk music? I could go further and say those who say they like folk music may recognise the style more than those who don't.

I remember as a teenager, I was also in a rock band. Our drummer said he could not understand my fascination with folk music and that he would have problems listening, no matter how hard he tried.

His record collection, as I recall, included some Fairport Convention and Dylan to date. he also reckoned Gerry Rafferty's "Her father didn't like me anyway" was one of the best songs ever written.

There rests the case for the bemused.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 11 Nov 09 - 03:21 PM

Do you still really believe this stuff?.......
Absolutely Steve - for the reasons I have given - vernacular, familiarity.. etc, also, how the songs sit within the tradition, and the proprietorial attitude adopted by the singers towards their songs.

Jim,
I'm not questioning the 'ownership' of the songs by the people who we recorded them from. I am simply referring to their origins. Like you I spent years collecting in the field in the 60s and 70s. I then got so interested in the songs, and my natural curiosity led me to wonder where they came from and how they evolved. This then led me into lengthy research into broadsides, art music and the Music Hall. It eventually became obvious to me that the vast majority (by no means all) of the songs we recorded, in England at least, were the product of commercial interests such as broadside hacks/printers, and the pop scene of any given period. For example all of those hunting songs not about a specific day's hunting, songs with varying amounts of description of the weather and the countryside 'When Spring comes in tra la', Colins, Phoebes, etc were products of the pleasure gardens of the late 18thc and various theatrical productions. Even a substantial number of the, highly worshipped in some quarters, Child Ballads originated on broadsides. Many actually got no further than broadsides (Robin Hood ballads for instance)

As for the differentiation argument. In my experience most of the singers I recorded did not differentiate between different genres of song. I put this down largely to the fact that very few of them were actual 'performers' or had been employed to sing at any point in their lives. However the famous traditional singer, Arthur Howard, had at least 4 separate repertoires which had little overlap and he used each repertoire separately depending on some of his very different audiences, folk clubs, old people's homes, hunt suppers, etc.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 03:38 AM

'Peter Bellamy (who got his songs from traditional singers *i or i*) or Martin Carthy (who got his....) or whoever you care to mention who sings folk songs -'

Jim: Not quite sure what you mean by 'i or i' relative to the sources of Pete B's songs - could you clarify this for me, please? Michael


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 03:46 AM

Walter Pardon?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 04:19 AM

It is the agenda of The Revival that has given us Folk Music, not the so-called source singers who merely provided them with the sort of songs they were interested in. We might think of this bias as an unnatural sort of selection and lament that the broader cultural context of Traditional Song has been all but lost to us. Did anyone, for example, think to collect more popular / music hall / parlour songs from the repertoires of the old singers and determine to what extent that they too had been effected by the folk process?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 04:38 AM

Steve,
The fact is that neither of us have one iota of proof on whether the songs originated on the broadsides or in the minds and mouths of 'the people' - it is a matter of opinion - and because of this I believe it would be presumptuous of either of us to make definitive statements without providing evidence to back up our claims.
Since you first raised the point some time ago I re-visited some of our books on the broadside trade (the Catnach and Pitts bios., Roxborough and Bagford collections... Shepherd, Collinson et al,). There is no proof one way or the other - or if there is, could you point it out. It seems to be totally a matter of speculation. I would not deny for one minute the possibility that some of our our songs and ballads MAY have started life on the broadside presses, but without adding to my present knowledge it would be extremely arrogant of me to say how many or which.
If you are prepared to concede that the bothie songs came from the Aberdeenshire farmworkers, why are you not prepared to accept that the sea songs came from working sailors, that rural songs came from rural dwellers......... what makes the bothie workers so special?
I have given you an example of a rural community in West Clare which not only had a large repertoire of traditional songs, but also had a tradition of making songs using the old forms. This was also the case with the Travellers - they continued to make songs right up to the point where their singing tradition died (some of them as short as 2/3 verse pieces, others extending into 7-8-9 verses).
In 1975 we started recording a Kerry Traveller named Mikeen McCarthy. In the 1940s he and his mother participated in what was the dying gasp of the broadside trade here in Ireland - ballad selling around the fairs and markets in the rural south west. He described to us in detail how those 'ballads' were selected and produced.
At the risk of making this an epic of this posting, this is how one of the many discussions we had with him went.

J C.       Where did you sell mainly, where did you sell your songs?
M Mc.    Fair days now, inside the pubs.
J C.       In Kerry, or would you travel out as well?
M Mc. Oh, I'd travel away too, Kerry, Clare, all over, wherever there'd be fairs, anywhere you'd go when the fellers'd be half steamed in the pubs, 'tis then they'd start buying them.   
J C.      You say your mother would sell them as well?
M Mc   Well she'd never hardly sell the songs that she wouldn't know, because she couldn't read, you see. But she'd sell the songs she used to know.
J C    How would she get them written out, would she get somebody who could write to do it?
M Mc   Yeah, the printing office we used to go to now, he knew us that well he'd have them all ready wrote out, so she'd want a gross of those songs, that's twelve dozen, twelve dozen of the next songs he knew her well like; "now Jane, I've The Wild Colonial Boy", for instance or "The Blind Beggar", we'll say, all those songs, "I've all those in print now".   They'd all be laid out on the counter then in all different colours, there'd be kind of pink, orange colour, yellow, and white, all that, you know, and they'd be all in bundles like. Well you'd pick and chose them, whichever one you want, about threepence a dozen I think that time, fourpence more times.
J C    How many would you sell of each song, what would be a good sale?
M Mc   Well, 'twould be a long day's selling like, and if it would be a big fair, if I sold say two or three dozen of each song, you should sell at least a gross anyway, like, twelve dozen.
You'd go into a pub, only you'd have the ballads in your hand, just walk over to the group and you'd say, "would you like to buy some songs, some ballads".    They'd start looking at them then.    Well they'd take them all away, they'd start reading them all then and picking them out and they'd ask you then, "could you sing that one for us, could we know the air of it".    "Yeah", I'd say; I'd sing it then. They'd buy me a bottle of lemonade or something and I'd sit down and I'd sing it and then I often had to sing it maybe two or three times 'cause there'd be some girl maybe or some boy interested in it.    Then they'd want to get into the air of it like.
J C.         So you did in fact teach them the air.
M Mc.   Yeah, you'd have to teach them the air and they'd have to go over the ballad then again and maybe I'd have to sing it again with them, you know, but they wouldn't want your time for nothing, oh, they'd pay you very well, whatever you'd want to eat, or something like that, inside in the pub.   'Tis like the records now, it reminds me of the same thing Jim. You'd get a hit ballad, so I'd get that in print straight away then. But 'twould just travel through our parish or through a town, from one town to another, and fair to another and you'd get the new ballad come out and you'd sell twenty times as much of that ballad as you would of the rest of them, when they come out new like.   The Blind Beggar sold very well now, that one. All those songs now, The Wild Colonian Boy; several songs like that now.
J C.    What would you say was the oldest song that went onto a ballad that you know?
M Mc.   Oh, The Blind Beggar, I'd say, I'd say that was the oldest.

He selected song from everywhere, but one of the main sources was from his father's repertoire of traditional songs, sometimes by request,

"Do you have any of your father's songs? -
"Not today, but I'll have some next time".

None of this, of course, is solid proof, but it is an indication of how the songs were transmited.
Incidentally, I believe a couple of The Robin Hood Ballads did pass into the tradition.
Regarding your Arthur Howard observations(would be interested to hear how you approached the subject).
With both the Travellers and here in West Clare, we were working in a situation were the singing tradition was either still a living one or only recently dead.
The situation in the UK was very different, traditional singing having been swamped by the popular songs of the day some time in the early part of the 20th century.
Walter Pardon described how he was the only one of his age group, in his family, to take an interest in the old songs - the others having opted for the new ones. Walter had some fascinatoing things to say on how he differentiated, as I'm sure you know.
Mike:
sorry - a slip of the mind (i or i) should have read (d or i) - directly or indirectly; from traditional singers recordings or via books.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 06:47 AM

"Did anyone, for example, think to collect more popular / music hall / parlour songs from the repertoires of the old singers and determine to what extent that they too had been effected by the folk process? "
Yes
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 06:52 AM

And?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 07:25 AM

I assume you'd have been very pissed off if you'd have gone to a Pavarotti recital and he hadn't sug Que Sera Sera - or are folk venues the only ones that are used as rubbish dumps for all types of music?
"And?"
Read what I and others have written on the subject for yourself - I don't wipe bums and change nappies.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 07:47 AM

SO'P
Sorry 'bout that - too early in the morning.
Am not prepared to enter into a long pointless dialogue with someone who makes sweeping statements and refuses to provide any back-up to them, but, briefly - we found that the commercial songs learned from the radio or records tended not to change to any noticable degree; and rather were treated as sacrosanct (not counting parodies, of course).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 07:51 AM

very intersting Jim, thankyou.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: M.Ted
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 08:00 AM

Jim Carroll--that bit of your talk with Mikeen McCarthy was pure gold--thank you for sharing it.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 09:47 AM

Read what I and others have written on the subject for yourself - I don't wipe bums and change nappies.

I guess you have a nurse to do that sort of thing for you these days. Sorry for rattling your cage, old man - it won't happen again.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 10:48 AM

Jim,
We seem to be saying the same thing. I'm well aware the situation with travellers is very different and that in parts of Ireland until recently there was a strong LOCAL tradition of song writing, having read the likes of Glassy, Sam Henry, John Moulden, Hugh Shields etc.

I had assumed we were referring largely to the corpus of traditional songs common to the British isles, North America and a few other English-speaking parts of the world. I'm also very aware that the process between oral tradition and print was a two-way affair in some cases. The broadside printers, or their hacks, were very commercially motivated (as were your travellers described above I might add)and if a song was popular, as Mikeen said, it soon found its way BACK to the presses. Having studied and compared many many texts I am still convinced that the vast majority started out as commercial pieces with a view to a sale.

Of course we can't name the vast majority of the authors. Nobody cared who wrote them and they only got a few pence for writing them, by the 18thc.
However I could write you a list if you wish of those that purport to have authors.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 12:45 PM

Steve,
I am referring to "the corpus of traditional songs common to the British isles, North America and a few other English-speaking parts of the world."
We have no evidence whatsoever that the songs originated from the broadside presses, let alone made their way back to them - or if we have I am unaware of it.
There have been various claims down the centuries of authorship of , say Barbara Allen (about a century after Pepys referred to it as "That old Scotch song), but I believe these to be spurious - totally lacking evidence.
I was fascinated by Bronson's essay on the ballad Edward, though the only thing it convinced me of was that you should stick at what you are good at.
If you are prepared to concede that the bothie workers produced their own songs, why not the sailors, farm labourers, mill workers.... and the rest of them.
You are right we can't name the vast majority of authors - so on what do you base your claim that they originated as broadsides?
I would like to see your list of claims to authorship, but I would expect to see the evidence that goes along with it.
Looking through the broadside collections: Bagford, Roxborough, Ashton, Euing, Pepys...... even the later ones, Henderson, Holloway and Black.... I am always struck by the differences in both style and content to the traditional songs - how unsingable they are - not the similarities.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 03:02 PM

You are right about the proportion of songs issued on broadsides over all the centuries not making it into the oral tradition. BUT of the general corpus of songs referred to above I personally have copies on broadsides of about 95% of them, excluding obvious sub-genres, sea shanties, children's playground songs and rugby songs. Try me with say 20 titles, of well-known ones, not obscure LOCAL songs. This is before I start in on the sheet music.

Here are a few authors to be going on with:-

17thc
The Keeper..Joseph Martin

The Leather Bottle..John Wade

My true love I've lost; Famous Flower of Serving Men; The London Heiress....Laurence Price

Serving Man and Husbandman; The Baffled Knight (rewrite); The Gosport Tragedy; No, Sir, No; The Bold Grenadier...Richard Climsell

Die an Old Maid; John Appleby; Stormy winds do blow; O Dear O; Robin Hood (Child 154)...Martin Parker

The Spanish Lady's Love...Thomas Deloney

Big Rock Candy Mountain...Richard Pocock

Boys of Kilkenny...Thomas Lanfiere

Robin Hood and the Beggar; Johnny Armstrong; Robin Hood's Chase; Robin Hood and the Butcher..... Thomas Robins

18thc
Down in the Meadows...Thomas Wise

The Three Butchers....Paul Burgess

19thc
Caroline and her Young sailor Bold; The Rambling Soldier; The Gallant Female Sailor....John Morgan, wrote mainly for Catnach

Pretty Caroline; The Constant Farmer's Son; Flora the Lily of the West; Bonny Bunch of Roses....George Brown

Of course I can't prove any of this. These people were credited on the actual broadsides, and apart from John Morgan we know very little about any of them. I respect your opinion expressed above but I also have the right to disagree with it, based on many years' research. It is also the opinion of others who have spent many years researching the relationship between print and the oral tradition.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 03:58 PM

Just to muddy the water a little, and I tend to agree with Jim on this. Incidentally, 'scotch' in Pepys day did not actually mean from Scotland it was simply a generic term for a given 'style' of song or indeed, dance. The question that puzzles me is this; What proportion of songs currently thought to be traditional 'variants' on broadside themes are actually deliberate inventions of the singer in order to generate repertoire in a society where song possession was seen as status?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Nov 09 - 04:07 PM

thanks Steve.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Brian Peters
Date: 13 Nov 09 - 01:27 PM

Steve wrote:
>> My true love I've lost; Famous Flower of Serving Men; The London Heiress....Laurence Price <<

Steve, I'm very interested in your thesis that many of our traditional songs - particularly the later ones - may have originated with broadsides or staged productions. It seems to tie in with the repertoire of an 1800s Derbyshire musician I've been looking at lately, many of whose tunes were originally song melodies written for comic operas and the like. I was sorry I couldn't attend the recent meeting on broadsides in London.

Regarding Laurence Price, I understand he was also the author of 'A Warning for Married Women', which is Child's A text for #243 James Harris / The Demon Lover, but Child's idea that this 1657 broadside was the *original* text has been strongly disputed. It reads more like a hack's bowdlerization of an existing ballad. I seem to remember that 'Famous Flower' is referred to in a work predating Price as well. The point being that finding an author's name doesn't necessarily confirm a given text as the original. And I tend to agree with Jim that the texts collected from tradition generally sing a lot better than some of the wordy and cumbersome broadsides.

One other question: if you take a song with a number of known variants that differ significantly in terms of text - 'Sailor Cut Down' is an obvious one, or maybe Newry Town / Adieu Adieu / Rambling Blade etc. - do you find a similar number of broadsides carrying variant texts that correspond with those alternatives? And if so, would you guess that it was the result of broadside writers plagiarising variants from tradition, or inventing their own variants?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Nov 09 - 03:09 PM

Hi Brian,
Thanks for reminding me about LP's original of Demon Lover. I'll have another good look at it. I only started making my list of broadside ballad writers fairly recently and it didn't make it onto my list of 17 ballads by him but it's there now. It'll be interesting to see what Ebsworth made of it in The Roxburghe Ballads. Ebsworth knew a damn sight more than Child about broadside ballads and their origins.

If you come across references to any of these songs that predate these printings I'd be obliged for the references to check out.

Regarding rehashes, the same has been said for 20 The Duke's Daughter's Cruelty (Cruel Mother) but I'm happy that it's the original and as far as I know there are no refs to predate the broadside.

I agree that an author's name on a broadside isn't concrete proof that he wrote it. The same goes for sheet music in fact. Some of them are undoubtedly remakes of earlier pieces and some partly from tradition. However I think there must be a strong chance that at least most of them were written by these authors.

I don't think there are any scholars who would dispute the fact that oral tradition generally improves what was printed on the broadsides. Facts may get muddied, names might get changed, but the singability and aesthetics are usually vastly improved.

My studied opinion on widely differing versions in oral tradition is that this is indeed reflected on broadsides. I go further and would state generally that where widely differing versions are found this is not down to oral tradition, but down to rewriting by broadside hacks. Another cause of course is the passing backwards and forwards over a long period of time between print and oral tradition. A really interesting example is Geordie/Georgie and the interaction with the 2 main originators, 2 quite different broadside ballads on 2 different Georges.

Paul, I'm sorry I don't understand your question.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 03:51 AM

Steve, the notion of song possession as status is found in a variety of places, most notably, Ginette Dunn's research, "Fellowship of Song'. Thus singers like Bob Scarce and Bob Hart were seen, within their communities, as high status because of their repertoires and by implication, their knowledge. Now it strikes me that it wouldn't be too difficult for a singer to generate repertoire by deliberate invention. This gives entirely new 'variants' which have been processed entirely by a single singer and not by a so-called 'folk process'. Say, for example, I want a version of 'Adeiu, adeiu' and I only have the one that I have heard sung by another singer. I might, simply create my own version, add a tune from another song and bingo! No folk process involved, just art.
I collected a version of the 'Sheepstealer' from Arthur Laycock in the 1970s. It is recognisable as the same song type as that commonly sung (I am a brisk lad and my fortune is bad) but it is localised and lacks the sense of desperation found in the other version. Arthur said he got it from his grandfather. I reckon its a deliberate invention based on something else. It hasn't, as far as I know been collected elsewhere.
My question is simply, What proportion of so called 'folk' songs are of this type, artful inventions by a single individual?
Paul


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 05:05 AM

Whilst respecting Jim Carroll as a historian of the folk tradition, and his years of analysing the roots... I can't see the problem with sweeping statements.

Statements have to be sweeping because the folk tradition is, as I alluded to earlier, a broad church.

The thread asks, "Music of the people... Don't make me laugh." So, to answer this, we have to ask if folk is the music of the people? Sounds reasonable to me.

Which people?

Every indigenous group will have a tradition of skills, and over the last couple of thousand years, an art based culture. Art meets usefulness in the oral tradition to ensure we learn from each other. The oral tradition has its roots there, and music has influence too, as a tune can express feelings far more than words. T'was ever thus.

So... music of people throughout history versus music of people today...

I reckon the millions of people who tune in to watch Simon Cowell pontificate on talent are listening to the music of the people, because what else to they hear throughout their day?

Folk as today's music of the people could be seen to be songs that reflect life today. Gangster rap if you live in any Western world city. Bruce Springsteen if you are of an age...

Whatever it is, I doubt it is much to do with baby boomers getting their sandals on and complaining that the beer is too cold and fizzy.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 05:35 AM

Some 'folk' aka 'people' music: Click


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 07:09 AM

What proportion of so called 'folk' songs are of this type, artful inventions by a single individual?

All of them I shouldn't wonder, Paul - certainly in respect of their essential empiricism which I believe to be the mechanism of what is all too sweepingly called the folk process. The undisputed fluidity in which such songs once existed is the consequence of a cultural genius which only becomes collective if we ignore the fact that any such cultural phenomenon is determined by individuals - in this case, highly specialised individuals as well versed in the intricacies of their craft as any cooper, carpenter or wheelwright. The denial of the individual is standard thinking in the study of so-called Folklore in which those who innocently participate in traditions must be entirely passive to a process they themselves will never understand or yet even be aware of - indeed, if ever they did become aware of such things, this would contaminate the purity of the folklore. Thus, such processes might only be understood by the educated classes who have defined them, studied them, collected them, categorised them, and, latterly, underwritten the orthodoxy that is the so-called Folk Song Revival. Such an approach is the musical equivalent of the Lynn Truss school of grammatical correctness - a noxious pedantry which is not so much a living music as the residue of the bourgeois hobbyism which gave us the whole idea of Folk Music in the first place.

*

Apology: It is 11.45am after a late night session singing traditional songs, drinking too much beer and passive smoking; I am hungover and (still) flu-ridden, despite this I feel oddly empowered with respect of my ongoing indignation that is perfectly explained by the title of this thread. I am, alas, working-class ill-educated scum whose approach to such matters over the years has been entirely intuitive; I have a passion for the old songs and the singers thereof (whom I regard as masters of their art) who stand in stark contrast to the so-called Folk Singers of the revival who have, with but few exceptions (Peter Bellamy, Seamus Ennis & Jim Eldon) little to do with the earthy virtuosity of the aforementioned masters. Thus I seek sanctuary in singarounds and sessions where something of that potency might be experienced by way of a collective seance of other such individuals, though I am the first to admit it is by no means flawless.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 07:11 AM

good points Paul,most revival singers make alterations to songs deliberately.so why is it not feasible that traditional singers did so.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 11:05 AM

The thing is, take Ray Driscoll's 'Wild Berry' it has to be a conscious creation based on 'Lord Randall' but, in my opinion, it's bloody brilliant!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 11:44 AM

Traditional singers. like anyone else, had different, and not always even self-consistent, attitudes to their songs snd their repertoires. I remember Harry Cox, on my first of several visits to him with Bob Thomson in 1970-71 [see Topic's Bonnie Labouring Boy collection] relating with indignation that he had heard singers introduce the sympathetic plants {'Church top ... twined in true lover's knot'} motif in 'Barbara Allen':— "They get mixed up," he exclaimed, "That shouldn't come in 'Barbara Ellen'. That don't belong in that. They belong in 'Lord Lovely!'" {See my transcription on p8 of 'Folk Review', February 1973}.

But he was nevertheless well aware of the existence of variants and different versions, though he didn't always recognise resemblances between tunes. When he sang us 'The Ship Called "Onward"', his version of 'Rounding The Horn', he asked me if I knew a song like that and what was my tune? So I sang him a verse of the Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs 'Amphitrite' version [the "Set up all new rigging, boys, And bent on all new sails" verse], pointing out that it was like his tune for "Henry Abbot the Poacher", and, as Bob chimed in, "The Painful Plough"; but he didn't, as Bob said in the car going home, appear to register the resemblance of the tunes, or even that his tunes for 'Abbot' & 'Painful Plough' were identical.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 01:07 PM

It was Harry Cox, among others, of whom I was thinking. Note, 'he asked me if I knew a song like that and what was my tune?' That is a very telling statement. He understood variants and he understood the setting of tunes to existing texts. Harry's repertoire was very extensive, how? He certainly didn't hide the fact that he was a collector. He was perhaps a little more reticent when it came to the actual creation of songs. But, and here Sean has got it dead right, Harry made up songs, invented verses and variants. The fact is, he was both qualified to do so by immersion in, and I hesitate to use the term, 'the tradition', and he was equipped to do so by a complex knowledge of what 'works' and what does not. And he was not alone in this.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 02:54 PM

Paul, I suspect others have answered your question. All of my collecting was recorded in an area where the singing of these songs was already long dead, apart from for self amusement, so, whereas I have read Dunn enviously, I have no personal experience of song ownership, in oral tradition. I have seen it on many occasions on the folk scene, however. There are threads on the etiquette of this if you wish to pursue it.

Regarding percentages of deliberate song alteration in oral tradition, this would take a lifetime of research to come anywhere near. However I'm pretty certain that it happened much more than most people perceive.

Regarding Harry, I remember reading that he actually had the broadsides of many of the songs he sang.

Regarding the sympathetic plants motive, it would make a very interesting study to try to work out how, where and when it migrated from one ballad to another. Difficult but not totally impossible.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 03:19 PM

I thought the sympathetic plants motif was a 'floater'? There are any number of places where it might be inserted appropriately. You could, for instance, insert it into 'Little Musgrave' to give a final ironic two fingers to the vengeful husband?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Johnny R.
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 03:29 PM

The middle classes are also people, many of whom emerged from working class roots. I'm probably seen as 'middle class' by people who choose to look at the world in that rather limited way, but I'm descended from artisans on both sides of my family, so when I hear a traditional folk song I hear my own history echoed there.

You can't neatly divide people up into classes anymore, the world has moved on. If a university lecturer wants to organise a folk club, great. Someone's got to do it - does it matter what they do for a living?

There will be folk songs as long as there are people walking the Earth.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 03:34 PM

Oh, yes, indeed: whole point of that BarbaraAllen/LordLovell confusion of Harry's is that he didn't seem to recognise the concept of 'floaters', but assumed 'his' version to be the true one - which we found a bit surprising. We all know that many [perhaps most] B Allen versions contain the plants. He did indeed own a lot of broadsides, notebooks with words in &c — last time we went we divided the labour whereby I talked to him sociably while Bob & my wife went thru all these papers, broadsides &c spread out over the table. BUT the important point is that he didn't learn from them, but mainly orally - if you go back to e.g. Moeran's early collecting in that area, you will find that many of the versions of what we now think of as 'Harry's' songs were first collected from other men of the previous generation in the same area; & he inherited them as they died so that, by convention among the men at the inn, they became 'his', as the best singer so rightful heir, as it were. The broadsides & notebooks he regarded far more as a failsafe in case his memory needed jogging. So tho he owned many broadsides OF his songs, they were not the MAIN SOURCE of his song texts. I hope I have explicated all this clearly — I am pretty sure it is an accurate statement of his case.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 03:34 PM

It's risky to generalise on whether or not traditional singers deliberately altered songs
Some did - Yorkshire singer Arthur Wood did a brilliant remake of The Tailor's Britches (or his father did - can't find my note to it).
On the other hand, many singers we met insisted on both the 'correct' words of a song and 'the right way to sing it.'
"However I think there must be a strong chance that at least most of them were written by these authors."
On what grounds do you come to this conclusion Steve?
Sorry to persist with this but, as I have asked on several occasions and received no reply - if you concede that Aberdeenshire farmworkers were the main creators of their repertoire - why not sailors, mill workers English rural labourers et al?
American folklorist, Duncan Emrich once wrote "memory not invention is the function of the folk."
Your earlier arguments regarding the broadside origins of our traditional repertoire, coupled with your latest bombshell: "I go further and would state generally that where widely differing versions are found this is not down to oral tradition, but down to rewriting by broadside hacks", seems to indicate that you not only agree with Emrich, but go further to deny the existance of a folk process altogether. Why cannot widely differing versions simply be the outcome of time/distance/differing values, vernacular, customs... etc from differing communities?
It is our experience that along with a healthy song tradition, the communities we worked with also created songs. There is no reason why what we recognise as our national repertoire is not made up of locally-created songs brought out of the home communities and being absorbed into the larger repertoire - can give you plenty of examples of same if you wish.
One of the great Ulster singers was once asked by a relative going to work at the tattie-howkin' in Scotland would she like something brought back. Her reply - bring me back a song. The relative obliged and the song became part of her Northern Irish repertoire.
You haven't begun to address the question of literacy (or lack of same) - the fact that the communities that provided us with some of the greatest and rarest ballads were totally non-literate (the Travellers) and that even in the communities that had access to education, the acceptance of songs in print was not at all straightforward. The misgivings toward written song texts displayed by James Hoggs mother in her conversation with Walter Scott persisted among source singers right into the mid-twentieth century, certainly in rural Ireland.
For the life of me I can see no reason why an author's name attached to a broadside could not be the same as seeing a traditional song headed "Trad. arr. Fred Bloggs" - as you said yourself, they were doing it to earn a living.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 03:35 PM

Paul,
Yes the 2/3 stanzas are regarded as a commonplace but it would still make an interesting study trying to guess which ballad had it first and so on. Harry may well have been right about it migrating from Lord Lovel to Barbara Allen, but I'm pretty certain equally it didn't start life with Lord Lovel.

Just as a matter of interest, does anyone nowadays sing Lord Lovel as anything but a joke? Many of the Child ballads were burlesqued/parodied in the 18th 19th centuries and in some cases only the burlesques seem to have survived into the 20th.

I was going to state 'thread drift' at this point, but then it's all about making me laugh! Or is it?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 03:44 PM

Steve (crossed posting).
Lord Lovel was not only one of Walter Pardon's favourite ballads, but was one of the most collected in West Clare. I think we have at least half-a-dozen different versions. Up to its closing, it was sung virtually every week, and in all seriousness, in Gleesons, our local song/music/dance venue, by several elderly singers (depending on who got it in first).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 04:06 PM

Jim,
No risk attached to the generalising at all. Some did , some didn't, simple as that.
I am very interested in your comment about Arthur Wood's magnificent version of The Tailor's Britches. Obviously it is a localised version of perhaps a broadside dare I venture. Considering the only other versions are 2 quite different fragments from the south coast and his version was recorded several years before Frank Purslow's collation/rewrite was published in Marrow Bones any background history would be very useful. I would be very grateful for any info on this regarding sources.
The conditions where the 'folk' actually involve themselves in invention regarding song only happens in special cases, with particular groups or individuals. Apart from the areas you mention which are well documented, the forces during the World Wars is another well documented area. BUT by and large the vast majority of the people are quite happy to take what is passed down to them from on high or perhaps up to them from down below (in the case of many broadsides). I do not question for one moment the enormous influence of oral tradition, but I stand by what I have stated above, which comes from 40 years studying both the oral tradition and the broadside tradition, and their interdependence. And it's good to be in line with such a great folklorist as Duncan Emrich. How this makes me deny the influence of the folk process altogether I fail to see.
I have already concurred with you over the situation in parts of rural Ireland and amongst the travelling community in Ireland. Although looking at MacColl and Seeger's TSES I can see very little evidence of creativity unless you include the hybridising of some songs. I have already stated that I am referring to the shared repertoire found all over the English-speaking world and not LOCAL pieces.

Your penultimate paragraph is irrelevant to the question as I don't contest any of this. In fact I can give you many more examples.

Regarding the putting of names to broadsides, well neither of us can prove or disprove this, so we must leave it to others to decide what they think, simply present the evidence. There is a very strong case made for John Morgan's authorship as he was interviewed and his story was published, and it is convincing enough for me. Sheesh! And I thought I was a skeptic!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 04:11 PM

Jim,
Thanks for the LL info. Can you remember what rhythm they used? Was it in jig time? Or did it vary?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 05:10 PM

'Harry may well have been right about it migrating from Lord Lovel to Barbara Allen, but I'm pretty certain equally it didn't start life with Lord Lovel.'

Don't at all think that is what he meant or implied, Steve. He just meant that HIS version of LdLvl contained those bits & HIS BarbAllen didnt, so he regarded appearance of the truluv-knot motif in the latter as WRONG, misguided, mistaken, due to confusion ["They get mixed up"]! The idea that there could have been renderings of B Allen in which it happened to fit correctly or appropriately didn't occur to him, lay outside his range of the possible or the acceptable.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 05:12 PM

ah, but its PARTLY what makes Barbara Allen such a fine song.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Stringsinger
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 05:14 PM

I would go a step further and say that "misremembering" is a part of trad folk. It creates variants.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 05:31 PM

There is a world of difference between 'literate' and 'functionally literate'. The ability to read a broadside is one thing. The ability to create a broadside style lyric without writing it down is another. The two don't appear to be linked. The function of memory amongst the non-literate is often enhanced by their reliance on it. Where such are also functionally literate, that is, in full and complete understanding of the power of rhetoric and its extended vocabulary there is very little chance of 'misremembering' acting as a tool for variance. The most likely reason, is that of deliberate creation for reasons known best o the singer and the community.
Incidentally, MtheGM makes an important point regarding the possession of songs. Many families/communities consider that a particular song belongs to its singer. They simply do not sing other peoples stuff. Where there is a shortage of sources of songs in a community what is more natural than to create one's own?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 05:38 PM

'ah, but its PARTLY what makes Barbara Allen such a fine song. '

But Harry Cox didn't think so, Dick, he didn't like it there; & he is unfortunately not accessible to dispute the point with.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 06:10 PM

I have yet to see a hypothesis of why Barbara Allen is the most popular ballad in the English speaking world, but it is. Twould make an interesting study would it not?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 07:12 PM

Brian,
Which copy of 'A Warning to Married Women' ascribes the ballad to Laurence Price please? I have most of the 6 copies but I can't find it.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 05:21 AM

Steve
LL - varied. Quite often it was sung freely.
It is (I think - not to hand at the moment) to be found on the album we put together of Clare singer Tom Lenihan, 'Paddy's Panacea'.

Duncan Emrich was not a great folklorist - his writings were idiosyncratic and contradictory (and recognised as such among other 'great folklorists'), even within the covers of one book (see New Green Mountain Songster). He was one of the leading exponents of the nonsensical theory that 'The Lakes of Coolfinn' (Col Fin) concerned magic islands and water nymphs rather than the beautiful drowning tragedy that it obviously is. I take it that you do concur with his view concerning "repetition and creation'.
If you want to put the authorship of the songs and ballads (particularly the latter) into context, I suggest you take a look at traditional storytelling, which was in no way influenced by print. Listen to Alec Stewart, Jeannie Robertson, (or any of the big Irish storytellers we recorded) and it is obvious that their material comes out of the same stable. The Stewarts' classic tales are set in the same speech patterns and disciplines as the ballads - incremental repetition, commonplaces, runs..... they are all there. In other words, they take the form of prose ballads.
One of the things that disturbs me about all this has a somewhat personal side to it.
I grew up in a working class background (and remained a manual worker all my working life). One of the last things I remember being told by my Secondary Modern teacher a few months before I left school was that people like me didn't create, and if I wanted art and creativity I had to go to my betters, Wordsworth, Shakespeare, Mozart..... He told me that all I needed to know when I left school was to tot up my wage packet at the end of the week - I fell for that for a time, until I discovered what I believe to be 'peoples' music'.
I was apprenticed on the Liverpool docks and became fascinated with how the people I worked with used language, the humour, the quickness of wit, the dexterity and creativity, the ability to paint pictures with words. That hovered in the background of my mind until I heard MacColl's, Seeger's and Parker's Radio Ballads which were based on workers' language - at its best.
I posted a section of an interview with Traveller Mikeen McCarthy earlier on. We worked with Mikeen for thirty years and have something like 130 tapes of him, singing, telling stories, imparting folklore.... but most of the time simply describing Travelling life and work in rural Ireland in the first half of the 20th century and urban life in England in the latter. One of the main features of our recordings is that Mikeen spoke poetry, not formally or self conciously, but naturally. His use of language was that of the ballads and songs, so much so that when a radio producer came along to make a programme on our work last year she devoted a whole programme (out of three) to him alone.
We found this to a greater or lesser degree wherever we worked, Rural Ireland, other Travellers such as 'Pop's' Johnny Connors, in Norfolk with the fishermen and with Walter, with Duncan Williamson - even to the first recording we ever made of an old docker describing his experiences in the trenches in WW1.
It is inconceivable (to me, at least) that such abilities did not people with such a natural grasp of language shouldn't use that ability to create.
I've given you an example with the bothie songs, which you continue to ignore and instead concentrate on our work in Ireland as if it was another planet. Why Ireland should be any different than England is beyond me - it has a very strong Anglo/Irish song tradition and if you wanted to hear the Child Ballads from source singers in the last 40 years you'd be far more likely to find them here than anywhere else in these islands.
I've spent nearly half a century involved in folk music, and a considerable amount of that time has been in arguing that folk song is the creation and expression of 'the people' and not the 'crumbs that drop from the table of the literate'.
It seems that this is a continuation of that argument.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 05:32 AM

MGM , we could have a seance,we might even get Bert Lloyd,that would be fun.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 05:36 AM

Jim, Just a little insert here (I can't find your e-mail), I came across an on-line photo-archive that has lovely pictures of (among many other things) the Puck Fairs between 1955 and the early seventies, you need to take a look at :
Kennelly Archive

Especially the traveller musician with the box fiddle at the 1955 Puck Fair is an interesting shot but many more there


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 05:50 AM

I am still unsure why a song sung by a lawyer/teacher/IT consultant drops out of the genre 'Music for the people'. Are lawyers/teachers/IT consultants not as much people as are farm hands, sailors and sagger makers bottom knockers?

DeG


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 06:37 AM

'MGM , we could have a seance,we might even get Bert Lloyd,that would be fun.'

Great idea, Cap'n GSS. & if we got Harry Cox, we could try for Tommy Makem too — & then we should have Tom, Dick & Harry ... How about that?!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 06:47 AM

Jim - As I think you know I am a retired Head of Upper School in a comprehensive as well as a freelance critic & journo [ran the jobs in parallel for years - out of school at 4, into a phone box, say Shazzam & out comes Supercritic!]. But what I am posting to express is my horror at that Sec Mod teacher of yours who tried so disgracefully to undermine you & rob you of your confidence. Wonder what had rocked his pathetic boat? I would never have said such a thing to an ambitious pupil [or indeed to any pupil] in any circumstances whatsoever — he was a shit and a wanker and a disgrace to the teaching profession & I am glad you so brilliantly and with such distinction overcame his baleful influence.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 07:47 AM

Peter,
Thanks a million - you've made my day
I think it is Mikeen's uncle catching the goat.
Will e-mail you with my address.

Michael,
It was a fairly comon attitude in Speke Secondary Modern - don't think Mr Cobban (funny how some names stick in your memory) was very different from most of his colleagues - though probably not as outspoken.
Nor do I believe that things have basically changed on the sink estates I grew up on like Speke and Kirkby - bit slicker perhaps, and comprehensive education did seem to make a difference for the better but..... I don't think we were ever regarded as anything other than factory-fodder
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 08:23 AM

Oh Jim, that does distress me. I taught 30 years, from 50s-80s, and not only in 'nice' districts' by any means — Peckham, a working-class bit of S London my first post, then Stevenage New Town, obviously very mixed intake, then a Cambridge Sec Mod drawing largely from Arbury & Barnwell which the working-class districts of the city, which is quite industrialised and not just an Ancient University, of course; and I never had a colleague who would have said such things, or a head or senior colleague [as I became myself eventually as I said] who would have tolerated any of their staff doing so. {I remember an exasperated colleague at Peckham once saying to a W Indian boy who was playing him up, "Get back to your jungle, black boy", and the Headmaster heard of it and the master was out of the school with no redress the very next morning]. I wonder why it was regarded as OK in the north of the country. I am, as I say, profoundly shocked that such remarks were still being made to pupils during the time of my own career (& perhaps, as you suggest, still go on). Such things just aren't right.

I hope this isn't 'drift' - but all related to concept of "the people", I would suggest.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 11:36 AM

Jim,
I echo completely Michael's remarks. As a secondary school teacher for 40 years myself from a poor working-class background I can't myself conceive anyone making such disparaging remarks.

I am categorically not denying the ability of anyone to be creative.

HOWEVER I still stand by remarks. Ballads and songs of the English-speaking world of the canon we have been discussing have very little overlap with the tales. Yes they have many characteristics in common and I can think of one or two examples where crossover has occurred (Duncan's Hind Horn for instance, the transference of Isabella into Bruton Town) but these are very few and far between.

I am not avoiding your remarks on bothy ballads. As you well know I'm sure this is a very special case, and I know a lot about it because in my own ancestral home similar conditiones occurred in a smaller area. (My ancestors were ploughmen on a remotish chalk upland. The main reason why bothy ballads occurred and are almost exclusive to the NE is because young men were thrown together in the bothy with little money and little opportunity for other forms of amusement, under quite oppressive conditions. This threw up the bothy ballads which are songs which tell of the conditions and poke fun at the landowners and farmers. We have one bothy ballad on the Wolds where my ancestors ploughed 'Mutton Pie' and we have recorded many variants of it. Jim Eldon, mentioned above somewhere, sings a version and there is a version on the Yorkshire Garland website.

Okay we are coming to a point where we cannot agree, therefore I am offering this challenge. You select say half a dozen songs from the general English-speaking cannon, i.e., songs found in England, Scotland, Ireland, North America, or any 3 of these, and I will do my best to convince you where these songs very likely originated.

Someone also expressed the point why lawyers etc can't be part of the 'people'. Also broadside hacks, Music Hall artistes, why not? Fair arguments. Where do we draw a line? If we go down this road we eventually get back to the old chestnut about horses singing. My original point was simply that the vast majority of what we call folk music was ORIGINALLY produced for commercial reasons.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 12:01 PM

Hmmm I was in school from 1964 and we had songs with pickaniny's in them.
I was given detention for daring to suggest a labour government might be a better option for working people.
We were beaten and had things thrown at us in class.(by the teachers)
In around 1969 the offspring of the shop keeps ,bankers etc who started in the same intake year as I were suddenly moved to a different class group for a year,then we had to do an exam to determine which school we would all be going too.
A lot of us found out about that the week before.
The extra "posh kids" class was there for a reason eh?
Seems it was a prep class for that exam.
I can therefore believe that bad things happen in schools.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 12:05 PM

Steve, I still don't get where you have evidence that supports so dogmatic a stance. Why can't existing songs have been fixed in print for commercial reasons? If such material was orally generated then there would be no previous printed version. I know you want to believe but there's still too much of a leap of faith required.

In support of Jim's comment by the way. I have had similar experiences at school during the 60s. As a secondary school teacher myself I find it unacceptable but it was a fact of life for many in earlier times. But…I had a brilliant English teacher appeared in 1967 who taught us in the 6th form about Marvell, Owen, and poetry in general. At a technical school this was heady stuff and his influence alone offset much of the other type of comment. It was this guy who's called Roger Elkin by the way who got me into writing poetry and subsequently songs. One positive overturns any number of negatives in my experience.
Paul


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 12:12 PM

well I had a Geography teacher,this would be 1966,who used to adress the class,this is Asia,pointing to a map,this is where the wogs live,wogs are wily oriental gentleman.
one day when I was getting a bit bored with his diatribes,I absentmindedly set fire to my atlas in the class,result suspension from the school,meanwhile he continued with his xenphobic imperialist rantings unchecked.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 12:44 PM

Steve,
I am not referring to the plots of the tales and ballads coinciding - I am talking about the use of their language and form.
"The main reason why bothy ballads occurred and are almost exclusive to the NE is because young men were thrown together in the bothy with little money and little opportunity for other forms of amusement, under quite oppressive conditions."
This is EXACTLY a description of life at sea, particularly on the whaling ships whose trips could be anything up to a six month duration, yet our disagreements started on this thread with a direct reference to forbitters - which you dismissed out of hand as products of broadside hacks - on what grounds? Again, I ask, do you believe a Seven Dials broadside hack could and did compose Harry Cox's Van Diemans' Land, or Rounding The Horn?
The Irish farms produced similar songs to those from the bothies because of the similarity of conditions, there are a number of navvies songs from similar situations.
Working people have always felt the need to record their experiences in verse and prose. Walter Pardon's family had a small repertoire of union songs around the re-establishment of Joseph Arch's Agricultural Workers Union by George Edwards in the 1900s.
I believe, based on our own experience, that we would have had far more such songs, providing us with a solid link between the local and national repertoires, had the early collectors not dismissed them out of hand. As it is, what little we do have is more than enough for me.
I see little point in my submitting a list of songs for you to produce composers for, unless you can show that the composers originated the songs - which you have agreed you can't.
I do not dispute that many/even most of our folksongs have appeared on broadsides at one time or another; the pioneering work of Bob Thomson did much to bring that to light back in the sixties, and my friend John Moulden has done a similar job on Irish broadsides. My dispute is that I don't believe they originated there (for all the reasons I have given here and elsewhere) - unless you can provide us with something more than a list of names.
I believe the bulk of our songs came directly from the experiences and the encapsulated the language of the people represented in them.
Of course the folk absorbed written pieces, 'Black Eyed Susan', and 'Caroline and Her Young Sailor', to name a couple (isn't the 'drawing room window in the latter a dead giveaway for that one').
For me, the broadside hacks will never be more than an interesting side-line to the main body of our traditional repertoire, until shown otherwise.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 12:46 PM

Oh yes, bad things can happen at school [as anywhere]. It depends anyhow what you think bad: — boys did get beaten in schools, it was not abnormal at one time. I won't say none of mine ever did - as I have said, I was Head of Upper School, & any boy under my jurisdiction who told a young lady teacher to fuck off, as was not unknown, was liable to have a painful time of it afterwards, & it was the way things were then & I make no apology for being a man of my time. The pupils, in any event, accepted the system in which things operated, & generally knew justice when they saw [& felt] it, and accepted it with good grace; and frankly I think life was better for young lady teachers then that it is now. & yes there were racist teachers who would talk of wogs & pickaninnies - tho, again, not in any school where I ever taught; as with the other phenomenon, it just would not have been tolerated by the Senior Staff; see my story above about the man who was rude to the black boy [the teacher's name was Gardner, btw, and the W.Indian pupil's name was Fitzroy - as Jim remarked some names just stay with you for some reason; this was 50 years ago!]

BUT - & this is really my point - the idea that any teacher should ever deliberately set out, for reasons & agenda of his own, to attempt to restrict the ambitions and aspirations and achievements of his own pupils, when the whole purpose of teaching is surely to broaden one's pupils' horizons and enable them to make the most of what talents and opportunities they might have — well, such destructive negativity, & the motivation for it, are just right outside my comprehension. As I said above, teachers who will do any such thing are shits & wankers, & I do not intend to modify these terms.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 12:52 PM

Sorry, missed a bit
"This is EXACTLY a description of life at sea, particularly on the whaling ships......"
- should continue, and could also cover any remote or not so remote village or hamlet anywhere in England or Scotland before the introduction of the motor car and mass communication.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 01:02 PM

Jim,was not The Bonny Bunch Of Roses, from the pen of a so called broadside hack?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 01:10 PM

"Jim,was not The Bonny Bunch Of Roses, from the pen of a so called broadside hack? "
Was it it may well have been - or was it taken from something already in circulation in the tradition. The fact is that we don't know, and it is extremely misleading to suggest that we do.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 01:28 PM

Talking of 'hack broadside writers', I drove through Pocklington last week. I was gobsmacked to see the printer W & C. Forth were not only still in existence but still printers.Has anyone (Steve?) been in and spoken to them about any possible archives they might possess?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 01:45 PM

Paul,
Yes and there is, but this was a long while ago when members of the family were still connected with the firm. They aren't any more. Some of the family live in Hull. They still have copies of some of the printers' blocks and somewhere I have copies of their apprenticeship indentures.

W&C were William and Charles, the sons of the famous John. John's younger brother, William, was the Hull printer. Their father, William, started out in Bridlington having I think been apprenticed in York c1790. John was apprenticed to his father along with the celebrated engraver Benjamin Fawcett.

Okay, Jim, neither of us can irrefutably prove one way or the other. I know what I know and you know what you know. Pax!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 06:35 PM

Young lady teachers better off in the dark ages of child beating?
I wonder if there are any young lady teachers who contribute to the cat who would care to support that idea.
Our parents didn't bring us up to tell young lady teachers to f off mate
maybe that's just a middle class slur on the under classes to blur the fact that the teachers of the time, were the system of the time.
Good that hind sight allows you to justify hows things were by saying that's how things were.
Good for you that child abuse was accepted by the kids who you had charge of teaching.
Excellent that in those days we all knew our place.
Maybe our society would be a less violent one if so many generations hadn't been brought up by teachers that thought might was right.
Ooops mustn't question sir, might get a beating.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Ernest W.
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 08:28 PM

I've continued to follow the exchanges in this thread with interest, leaning more towards Steve's line of argument. (Incidentally, it's quite amusing to note the number of former school teachers coming out of the woodwork, given the accusation of the original post.)

One thing I would add is that there's no reason why broadside hacks shouldn't be considered part of 'the people': they would have lived a fairly precarious existence themselves, at a distance from the 'serious' literary world. What Jim seems to share with Cecil Sharp's ideology is a desire to dissociate folk music from interaction with the publishing industry of towns/cities, lest it be somehow contaminated. Ironically, this position is similar to traditional 'aristocratic' attitudes to literature, i.e. the thought that a song is cheapened if it is suggested that it may have been written with commercial sale in mind.

While conceding that songs with printed origins were doubtlessly modified by oral transmission (this is particularly conspicuous in the transatlantic mutations of Appalachian songs), it seems equally insulting to rural singers to suggest that they were not aware of/did not pick up material emanating from the towns, given the trading traffic throughout Britain from the 17th C. onwards.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 02:31 AM

'equally insulting to rural singers' ? What?
I don't think anyone is insulting rural singers. Nobody is arguing that broadside writers are not part of the people. Nobody has expressed a 'desire to dissociate folk music from interacting with the publishing industry'.
Equally, Tim, since you seem to like contention…the one thing we now know is not a contributing factor to our increasingly violent society…is corporal punishment in schools.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 06:34 AM

"What Jim seems to share with Cecil Sharp's ideology is a desire to dissociate folk music from interaction with the publishing industry of towns/cities"
I have not for one minute attempted to disassociate folk music from the publishing industry; I have been aware of that association at least since Bob Thomson did his work on the subject back in the sixties. Our own work with Irish ballad seller Mikeen McCarthy, has given us first hand knowledge of that link with print (see my article 'Mikeen McCarthy, Singer and Ballad Seller' in Singer, Song Scholar (ed Ian Russell, Sheffield Academic Press 1986). My argument is with the suggestion that our traditional repertoire ORIGINATED with the broadside presses - nothing more. Please can we avoid setting up straw men in order to knock them down and claim a victory - I really do thing this discussion is worthwhile enough for that.
An observation; at the time Child was putting his collection together the broadside presses would still have going full tilt. He was aware enough of them to refer to them as "veritable dunghills". It seems to me that it would have been, at best, extremely shoddy scholarship, and at worst, outright dishonesty, to present the products of those presses as 'The English And Scottish POPULAR Ballads', songs which had originated on those presses.
The same charge can be laid at the door of any ballad scolar, who again, would have been very negligent in dismissing any claimed authorship for the ballads they were studying, had they believed those claims to have been in any way valid.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 09:01 AM

There seem to be three different discussions going on here, and I must say I've found the exchanges between Jim and Steve very interesting, if ultimately unresolved. There is also the mystery of the tunes, which of course are not usually included in broadside copies and, where specified, are not always appropriate, or representative of tunes collected from singers. Now, if Steve is right and some of these songs were written for stage performance, then they would originally have possessed tunes - but how were these then disseminated? How much did such shows tour outside London?

Like MtheGM, I'm also struck by the fact that most traditional singers who have been questioned as to the sources of their songs said they'd learned them from family members, not from print. There was one singer on the old EFDSS Fred Hamer cassette who described buying broadsides and 'making up' the tunes, but that's a rare example.

Lastly, Steve asked:
"Which copy of 'A Warning to Married Women' ascribes the ballad to Laurence Price please? I have most of the 6 copies but I can't find it."

Dave Atkinson's paper on 'James Harris' in FMJ vol. 5 reproduces a copy of 'A Warning for Married Women' from the Euing Collection (#377) which bears the initials 'L.P.'. Dave A. credits Dave Harker for first attributing the broadside to Price, who was also the author of broadside copies if Child 106 (Famous Flower) and 147 (Robin Hood's Golden Prize).

The argument that Price's 1657 copy is not the origin of the 'Demon Lover' / 'Housecarpenter' ballad is discussed at length in Clinton Heylin's book 'Dylan's Daemon Lover', a populist and speculative account that does however contain a lot of interesting textual comparison of British and North American broadsides and collected versions. The argument rests on the fact that only a handful of Price's 32 (generally turgid and moralistic) verses correspond with those collected later from oral tradition, which tend to follow more closely the text of Child's 243B, first printed in 1737. Meanwhile, the theme of Price's 'A Warning for Married Women' strongly resembles that of the 1603 broadside 'A Warning for Maidens' (aka 'Bateman'), in which a young woman who has broken a betrothal is carried off by the spirit of her former lover.

The suggestion is that Price rewrote an existing (oral?) 'Ship's Carpenter' ballad using the template of 'A Warning for Maidens' (he even specified 'Bateman' as his tune) but retaining a few verses of the earlier ballad. Baring-Gould and Graves believed likewise that 'A Warning for Married Women' was a self-evident piece of hack bowdlerization. Price was known for adapting existing pieces - Robin Hood's Golden Prize was known as a tale more than a hundred years before he registered it. Atkinson cites a number of other examples of early broadside versions of Child ballads which do not represent those ballads' origins.

How much the tangled histories of centuries-old ballads have to do with the question of whether 'Rounding the Horn' was composed by a sailor with direct experience of Magellan's Straits and the girls of Valparaiso, is another matter. I still prefer to believe that at least some of our folksongs were composed and reworked by sons of the soil, like Uncle Bert told us they were, but I do think we need to take a lot of notice of the research by Steve and others.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 09:31 AM

I have no doubt,that Rounding the horn,was written by someone whoad a direct experience or who spent considerable time talking to sailors to get real experience.
lets take Ewan MaCColl,He was able to write convincing songs, because he had experience, he had sailors/fishermen talking about their experiences,he used the rhythyms of their speech,and their vernacular.
most broadside writers were concerned with making money as quickly as possible to sell a song,and getting a song out quickly.
so its possible that Rounding the Horn was the effort of a broadside writer but[imo]unlikely,on the other hand would a sailor have had the literary skills[many were illiterate].
of course it may have been folk processed,or it may be the work of more than one person.
I think it more likely to be the work of literate man who was at sea,perhaps a Captain,ships surgeon,or lower officer.
it is however a great song.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Howard Jones
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 11:19 AM

GSS, you ask if a sailor would have had the necessary literary skills to compose Rounding the Horn, as most were illiterate. However being unable to read or write does not prevent someone from having a fluency with language, as Jim has pointed out from his own experiences. The entire premise of the "Radio Ballads" was that ordinary people were more than capable of describing their own lives in both words and song with an imaginative use of language which belies their lack of education.

To pick up on an earlier point, I was at school in the 1960s when corporal punishment was still used. These were not "Tom Brown's Schooldays" style thrashings, but a few strokes with a cane or gym shoe. We accepted it without resentment, and it was usually preferred to detention or lines since it was quickly out of the way. It was easy to avoid simply by not breaking the rules, but if you did break the rules you knew you could expect to be punished. We were also perfectly capable of distinguishing between this, in a context of clear rules and discipline, and violence.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Stringsinger
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 11:39 AM

I was subjected to this in a high school gym class. I was in the process of doing pushups when the gym teacher struck me with a leather strap. I picked myself up and walked out of the class into the principal's office and said "do something about this". The gym teacher inevitably apologized fearing a lawsuit.

Literacy doesn't equate with intelligence or clarity of artistic expression. That's why we love folk music. It doesn't require academic prowess. At the same time, traditional folk musicians can be literate.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 12:46 PM

Can I just set the record straight - It was not my intention to start a debate on education in 1950s Liverpool.
In fairness to the teacher in question, and all the others in a similar situation - At the time the North West of England had the highest unemployment rate in Britain, and pupils were leaving school almost inevitably to a long period on the dole - I was looking for work for six months before I finally found an apprenticeship (thanks to a fellow International Brigader friend of my fathers).
It must have been extremely soul-destroying for teachers who were well aware that their efforts were going into instilling knowledge into youngsters who would almost certainly end up unemployed, or at best, with crap jobs.
In the main, I think they did their best in a shitty situation not of their own making.
My purpose in raising the topic was to point out how working people were dismissed (generally, not just by my teacher) as far as creativity is concerned, and how - with a handful of exceptions - nothing much has really changed).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 01:07 PM

I'm not convinced about this notion of illiterate working classes. Certainly there were large numbers of illiterates in the past but when you consider that reading the bible was widespread, and attendance at church with the use of the Book of Common Prayer and Hymnals equally common, it seems a bit condescending to reckon that illiteracy at its most basic was a universal norm. There have been points in history where religious observance has been a political necessity and its associated literacy a matter of survival. Couple this with the simple fact that broadsides simply wouldn't have sold in such huge numbers to a mostly illiterate populace and the ability to read was probably a norm. But…our definition of literacy includes writing and this was a much rarer skill, confined, one suspects to a minority who were probably of higher income. Note the number of deaths by 'penknife' in ballads and you get a picture of writing as an upper class skill. These tools, ostensibly for sharpening quills for writing, are frequently described as 'hanging down by the knee' and such ostentation might be construed as a statement of status by virtue of literacy beyond mere 'reading'.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 01:42 PM

It may be worth noting that working-class characters in Shakspere could frequently read & write: think of the banausic actors in Midsummer Night's Dream, all of whom were given their parts written out by Peter Quince, and could read them; or the passage in Much Ado where Dogberry the constable asks the watch which of them would be best fitted to be his deputy, and receives the answer "Hugh Oatcake, sir, or George Seacole, for they can write and read": which it seems to me implies that these were abilities respected and striven for among ordinary working people in the early C17 .


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 02:00 PM

Like Paul Davenport I suspect that literacy was common in the 19th century and earlier. Whole books have been written about working class 'auto-didacts' in the 18th and 19th centuries. The Northamptonshire labourer, John Clare, for example had a minimal amount of education but published several volumes of poetry in his lifetime (and several more have been attributed to him after his death). In South Lancashire many districts had botanical societies made up of men who could not only read and write but were familiar with the Linnaean system of plant classification. One of them, a poor shoemaker named Richard Buxton, taught himself to read and write before embarking on a study of the science of botany and eventually publishing a local Flora (prefaced with his autobiography).

I've just been reading a biography of the 17th century herbalist, Nicholas Culpepper. He defied the patrician College of Physicians and published many of their Latin tomes in English translations. Why would he have done that if he didn't think that there was a market for them?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,glueperson
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 02:21 PM

"These were not "Tom Brown's Schooldays" style thrashings, but a few strokes with a cane or gym shoe. We accepted it without resentment, and it was usually preferred to detention or lines since it was quickly out of the way"

You were lucky. Canings at our school in the 60s and 70s meant the victim couldn't sit down for three days. More alarming was the obvious glee with which the operation was undertaken, on a bare arse, and by a member of staff who interfered with young boys I subsequently learned.

With a few notable exceptions the standard of teaching was gruesome and violence endemic.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 02:22 PM

Brian,
The tune dissemination. It completely depended on how popular the songs were. If they were immensely popular for long periods the tunes became well known in all walks of life and therefore in many cases stayed roughly the same down the centuries;e.g. Gossip Joan. The tune used by Will and John and the Holme Valley Beagles is almost the same as the one published in 1790 and probably earlier. Those that were reprinted on broadsides and weren't quite so universally popular (the vast majority) ended up in oral tradition with quite different tunes and in some cases many different tunes for each ballad because the chaunter/ballad seller used his/her own tune, whatever fitted that they had in their own repertoire. This is also the main reason (imo)why we often find the same tunes used for several ballads.

Thanks for the further info on Demon Lover. When I get more time I intend to carry out my own close study of this.

I'll also check out David's article in FMJ5. If anyone else wants to reread it it's Vol 5 number 5 starting at p592. Since this article was written (1989)I think David has had cause to modify his thoughts on broadside origins.

Regarding the forebitters: Of course the few that actually contain authentic nautical terms in them were very likely written by sailors on shore. They certainly were not all illiterate. Don't forget the press gangs took anybody they could lay their hands on. The forerunner of 'The London Man o War'/Lion/Bold Wasp etc etc' was written in 1746 by the captain of the ship 'Nottingham' that was involved in taking the Frenchman. No doubt he sold it to the printers and when the Nottingham was forgotten the broadside hacks simply changed the name of the battleship to a currently famous one. It sold more copies that way. Some of the broadside hacks would have been ex sailors especially at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. many would have been disabled and have been begging on the streets. Broadside hacks as Ernest states were just one step up from beggar, unless they were very good at it like John Morgan. Many of the ballads about naval encounters, shipwrecks etc were simply rehashes of what had been printed in the newspapers of the day. Again I can give examples, but I must get on. I've just found a version of The Silk Merchant's Daughter Laws N10 which is a century earlier than the hitherto earliest known version.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 02:33 PM

"(the vast majority) ended up in oral tradition with quite different tunes and in some cases many different tunes for each ballad because the chaunter/ballad seller used his/her own tune, whatever fitted that they had in their own repertoire."

What interests me is where you get a number of song variants from different parts of the country which have tunes that are recognizably the same, but subtly different. Think of Phil Tanner's 'Henry Martin' compared with Sam Larner's 'Lofty Tall Ship'. Or the various versions of 'Ship in Distress' from Sussex, Somerset and Shropshire, which have tunes that are all the smae shape but include examples in three different modes. This has to be 'folk process', doesn't it?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 03:36 PM

One factor I forgot to mention, Brian, is the pedlar who amongst his other commodities went from place to place selling the ballads. He would have used the same tune in different places to sell his ballad sheets. Other than that, migration of farm labourers (best example the seasonal Irish labourers), general worker migration was very common. Remember labour was purely a commodity to the entrepreneurs and labourers had to go wherever the work was or starve.

I have no expertise in tune comparison as I can barely read music. I am an ardent campaigner though for the study of tune relationships which is a sadly understudied subject. There are lots of us studying texts but hardly anyone the tunes.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 04:49 PM

There's a way of comparing tunes without needing to be a good reader. I'll check it out and get back to you on it. As I remember it produces a formula not dissimilar to a knitting pattern which is the same for all versions of the tune regardless of key. I used it to examine the local hornpipes for a paper some years ago.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Tootler
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 04:54 PM

I seem to remember from many years back being told that at the time of the Foster Education act in 1870 (which brought in compulsory elementary eduction for all in the UK) about 70% of the UK population could read and write at least to some degree.

It also seems that there was a pretty substantial level of musical literacy as well. After all how could all the manuscript tune books have been produced otherwise? The 19th century also saw the birth of most of our brass bands, choral societies and male voice choirs. All of these required a degree of musical literacy and before that the parish churches maintained bands and choirs to provide music for the services.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 06:17 PM

Whilst all of this is true, Tootler, the vast majority of these songs were written c1750-1820.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Joe_F
Date: 16 Nov 09 - 06:19 PM

If a Yank may butt in: By chance I have read a remarkable book, _The Uses of Literacy_ by Richard Hoggart, which gives a good deal of information & informed reflection on the culture (including songs) of the British working class in the decades up to the 1950s, at which time that class was still pretty well defined.

It's still in print.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 01:49 AM

Joe, the book, like the British class system is now well out of date. Also, the concept of 'working class' is and was a gross simplification of what was actually there. The eality was a stratum of society which involved both skilled and unskilled orkers and artisans of varying states of education/literacy.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 02:23 AM

Actually, Paul those were the very points Hoggart made in his distinguished study all those years ago. His concept of 'working class' was nothing like as simplistic as you seem to believe. Allowing for the 50+ years since its first publication, I think, if you were to revisit it, you would find it still had a fair bit of relevance to tell us about relationships between the different elements of our society. I don't think you would find it so dated as to have nothing to say any longer.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 03:29 AM

"the vast majority of these songs were written c1750-1820."
Sorry again Steve - this continues to be unsubstantiated speculation - all you are entitled to claim with any certainty is that these songs were WRITTEN DOWN c1750-1820.
Just as speculative is - ".....were very likely written by sailors on shore."
Do you have any ground for claiming this?
The few examples we have of accounts of songs being MADE (they were not committed to paper until a later date, and in the case of the Travellers, not at all), but remained in the heads of their makers and those they passed them on to. On two occasions we got descriptions of the circumstances of songs being made by groups of people (a political song from West Clare circa 1922 and a Travellers song about an arranged marriage some time in the mid-sixties). On both these occasions our informant was unable to give us the names of the song makers - it didn't seem important.
There is a great danger of placing too much importance on the link between tunes and texts. Singers who have been part in a living tradition have stressed to us that they considered the tunes as merely vehicles for the stories and have been quite happy to take a tune from another song because they felt it fitted more than the one it came with. Two brothers we recorded around 20 songs from gave us something like half of them to the same tune, while others would sing the same song to a different tune on different occasions.
Singers who learned songs from the ballad sheets would, more often than not, select a tune from their existing repertoire or make a new one.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Brian Peters
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 05:31 AM

>> There is a great danger of placing too much importance on the link between tunes and texts. Singers who have been part in a living tradition have stressed to us that they considered the tunes as merely vehicles for the stories <<

Looking at the older ballads in particular, Jim, I'm well aware of a certain interchangeability of tunes and texts. At least one example comes to my mind of a single singer having used different tunes for a ballad on different occasions.

However if you look at alternative versions of songs, like the aforementioned 'Henry Martin' and 'Ship in Distress', in the old collections such as those now available at the 'Take 6' archive, the striking thing is that the tunes are all recognizably the same beast, even though significant details like the mode may be different. If indeed the tunes were disseminated by itinerant ballad sellers or labourers, we still have to allow for individual shaping of melody (and quite possibly text as well), in the new location. To my mind a switch from Ionian to Dorian mode conveys such a change in mood that it's hard to imagine it having occurred accidentally, but maybe that is just my perception as a musician in 2009.

Paul, can you tell us more about this device (software) for comparing tune shapes? I knew such a thing existed but had understood it was desperately complicated to use.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 06:27 AM

To my mind a switch from Ionian to Dorian mode conveys such a change in mood that it's hard to imagine it having occurred accidentally, but maybe that is just my perception as a musician in 2009.[quote]
could this have been the fault of the collector who possibly thought,the singer could not be singing the melody in a mode ,so it must be intended to be in the major key.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Brian Peters
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 08:37 AM

Dick, my impression is that collectors like Sharp and RVW were keen to find the more *unusual* modes, and if anything they are more likely to have erred in that direction. Listening to traditional recordings it's quite common to hear notes sung that are ambiguous in pitch, whether as a result of deliberate microtonal placement or simple inaccuracy, and I do sometimes wonder whether there's a temptation for transcribers to opt for the more exotic-sounding option. A particular example came up at the Sheffield 'Tradsong' meeting, where we were invited to compare sound recording with transcription for a song from the J. M. Carpenter collection.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 09:02 AM

Brian,
Just sounding a warning about tunes - too many definitive statements being made here already without my adding to them.
I suggest you get hold of some of the John Reilly recordings to hear a singer not only changing the tunes, but also the verse structure.
One of the finest examples of mode change was the late Tom Costello (Tom Paidín Tom) singing (breathtakingly beautifully) The Grand Conversation on Napoleon.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 01:10 PM

Jim,
As you well know by now, I was referring to, once again, that body of song that is largely common to all of the English-speaking world, 95% of which I can actually show you the broadsides for and again the vast majority of these the earliest copies were from the period 1750 to 1820. Many of them are actually about events which OCCURRED in this period. I fully accept your local marriage songs and political songs will have different histories, but they are not part of the corpus I refer to above. Just in case you get the wrong idea again, I am not devaluing the songs you mention or trying in any way to say they are not traditional.

Regarding sailors' songs. You ask me for evidence. On many occasions the songs that are about actual incidents have been traced back to an early broadside contemporary with the event. There is a LOCAL song to where I live (The Wreck of the Industry off Spurn point) which has been collected in oral tradition in various parts of the country. The broadside versions I have seen, the earliest is about 1850. The event is a true one which happened in 1819. After many years searching I found the original newspaper report and the ballad is almost word for word as in the report. This is one example among many.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 01:18 PM

Brian,
The thread-creep on this thread is already getting way out of hand, interesting as it is.
Regarding the early broadsides originating Child Ballads, e.g, The Demon Lover, I think it better if we start a new thread.

Early Broadsides (was Music of the People... etc)


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 01:29 PM

Brian, the 'device' is an intellectual process not a software one although I suppose it might be possible to write a piece of software to do it. It's something I came upon in a book when doing another project and the writer outlined his way of analysing melodies in such a way as to reduce the intervals to a numeric pattern. He was then able to compare these patterns. I'll try to locate the book and the method as soon as possible - time permitting.
Paul


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 03:10 PM

Steve,
And I am talking about our national (and indo-European repertoire) the bulk of which, in the case of sea songs, covers the day to day life aboard ship, the exploits of sailors ashore, their fantasies - their lives and experiences..... in a way, it seems to me, that could not be depicted by an outsider, any more than could a townie make anything closely resembling a bothy song with all its authenticity.
You tried (unsuccessfuly IMO) to make a special case for the Aberdeenshire songs with a description that could be applied to any isolated community (or a ship's crew, navvy gang, ranking soldier....)
My point, in constantly bringing up local songs is that 'the people' have more han proven themselves as makers of songs and it is far more probable that the songs in our national repertoire, with all their authenticity, are far more likely to have originated from the people whose lives they depict than a handful of townie hacks.
You suggest the pressing to sea of broadside writers - do you have any information on this having happened or is it speculation on your part?
You suggest sailors coming ashore to make songs - why ashore; even the most hard-pressed seamen had leisure time (according to Hugill anyway).
Do you know what the 'dead-man's -face' is in the Banks of Newfoundland - would a townie broadside hack?
Personally I attach no more significance to claims to authorship on brodside versions of traditional songs than I do to the fact the wealthy musician Phil Coulter owns a copyright on 'Well Below The Valley' (Maid and The Palmer').
It seems to me that, by denying their main claim to creativity, the folk songs, you have set your mind to proving, like my teacher and Duncan Emrich, that 'the people' created nothing of any signifgicance.
Nothing new there - it has been happening most of my musical life and it flies in the face of everything I've read, been told, and experienced over the last forty odd years, so I will continue to argue with you as long as you continue to present your opinions as facts.
Best,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 06:24 PM

I thought I had presented them as opinions backed up by my own research and experiences. I have already clearly stated that the common people have creativity in abundance when given the opportunity to express it. If Hugill states that seamen had leisure time, it wasn't during the Napoleonic Wars. Yes I do know what the deadman's face is. Songs that include exclusive technical terms are few and far between. The vast bulk of the songs contain material that would have been common knowledge to all during the period discussed. More than half deal with amorous encounters and most people have had these.

I didn't suggest the pressing to sea of broadside writers. I stated clearly that the press gangs weren't fussy who they took, and at their height they took many middle class people so that is one way there would have been literate people aboard the fleet before the mast.

I am not denying that the sailors before the mast made songs at sea. The merchantmen obviously made most of the sea shanties (some were shore songs adapted) but the majority of their songs surely (IMO) would have been the parodies and bawdy songs that were also endemic in the two world wars of the last century. Not many of these found their way into folk song anthologies until quite recently.

Jim, I see no problem with both of us holding our strongly held different opinions, backed up by our obviously different experiences and this does not worry me.

I will repeat my challenge for you to come up with half a dozen songs from the general canon and I will check their probable origins out. It may well be that you come up with some that were not written by broadside hacks or for commercial gain. There are plenty in the canon, but I still state the vast majority were originally written for commercial gain (IMO)

Here's a good cross section of categories
1 Child ballad
1 love song
1 lament
1 murder ballad
1 forebitter
1 carol
chosen at random to give me a chance at least.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 03:43 AM

Steve, I have no doubt you can produce what you believe to be PROBABLE origins for half - a dozen, a dozen, twenty.... however many you care to choose - I could produce some myself. What I need to shift from my opinion and abandon the work we have done over the last thirty odd years is WHY they PROBABLY (a shift in itself) originated where you claim they did - other than the they sold them under their own name
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Lighter
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 10:03 AM

Unfortunately I came late to this thread, so I'll offer just these opinions for discussion.

Except in an extraordinary case, forensic proof of whether the ur-text of an old song was written by a broadside hack, a plowboy, or even by committee will never be forthcoming.

The more coherent, impersonal, and detailed a traditional narrative is, the more likely it was created by someone who was literate. Lyrics made up largely of "floaters" are more likely the work of unlettered people because they're less used to learned requirements for coherence and consistency.   

First-person narratives with many atypical deatails are more likely to have been written by a participant or close observer.

It would be extremely interesting to compare, stylistically, a corpus of songs never found on broadsides with a somehow comparable group that we know made early broadside appearances.

Finally, as has been said, "trad" songs, no matter how modernized in performance even by geniuses like the early Steeleye Span, are no longer the "music of the people." They are the music of enthusiasts like us.

Trad dance music is a little more popular (square dances and so on), but overall the teeming millions want their rock, rap, country, classical, etc. The eclipse of trad music is sad, perhaps, but inescapable. Cf. my note yesterday on the "Drop Everything" thread, suggesting that even for Mudcatters, trad isn't all that exciting.

Or is it just the weather here?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Marje
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 10:46 AM

I'm not sure, Lighter, that trad music is any less valued than many other forms of music now. The days when there was a recognised body of popular tunes that everyone recognised are long gone - popular music is much more fragmented nowadays, and one person's iPod playlist may be totally different from anyone else's.

In other words, I'm not at all sure that there is any real "music of the people" now, in the sense of there being a shared musical understanding and a known collection of songs/tunes that most people are familiar with. What we have instead is a number of different musical genres, cults, trends and fashions, into which most people dip in a mix-and-match way. The trad genre isn't familiar to most people, but then neither are many of the newest types of dance music, or classical string quartets, or heavy metal.

If all this is true, then traditional music is certainly "music of the people", because we're people - enthusiasts, sure, but still people - and it's our music. What's more, much of the repertoire was (and some still is) actually created and shaped by ordinary people like us, to provide a soundtrack to their daily lives. This sets it apart from music that's been written for worship, or for the stage, or for wealthy patrons to hear in concerts, etc. It belongs to us in a special way, and as long as we continue to value it, play it and listen to it, it's far from dead.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 10:59 AM

Err…but I knew a lot of songs before I was 'one of us' – is the problem being 'one of us' ?

I get really p****d off with this crap about, "the revival' versus the 'tradition' I have not stopped being myself at any time (so far) and in my reckoning I'm a person - or are the 'people' now some elite to which I may not belong? If so then they and not I are in the minority.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 11:07 AM

"The more coherent, impersonal, and detailed a traditional narrative is, the more likely it was created by someone who was literate."
Not necessarily; almost total non literacy among Travellers brought with it a heightened ability to retain in memory - in the last half century the longest, rarest and most complicated of our ballads have survived among non-literate Irish and Scots Travellers.
Also the case with the older generation of West of Ireland singers whose education was fairly rudimentary.
Walter Pardon, while being highly literate (had read every Dickens, Hardy and most of the Victorian novels at least half-a-dozen times) and could remember all the plots and characters (even the minor ones) with no effort whatever.
With all these people we met and recorded we noticed the ability, not only to remember long, complicated songs they had not sung for a long time, sometimes up to fifty years, virtually on request.

On the question of origins; I have to say that this argument intrigued me enough to revisit our books on the broadside trade - nowhere could I find even the remotest suggestion that a substantial number of our traditional songs originated on broadside.
Experts like G Malcolm Laws writes about broadsides and the tradition existing side by side and, at times, feeding from one another, but that was about it.
Probably the subject was given the most attention by Leslie Shepherd, surely the leading expert on British broadsides, in his History of Street Literature.
Sorry about the length.
Jim Carroll

"The oral tradition of songs, ballads and rituals was the forerunner of street literature in peasant society before printing. In the decentralised societies of the past there were always pockets of tradition in which a poor man would remain the carrier of lost mysteries and beautiful insights, in a song which had little to do with his poverty and working conditions, and even less with the politics of the state.
As with the broadsides which overtook them, some of the folk songs were trivial and banal, but the best of them had a timeless meaning that reached to the roots of the human situation. It was an impulse for which mere literary cleverness and topicality could not be a substitute.
Folk song and folklore were not the final stage of religious descent, for urban folklore took over form and themes from the country tradition, and the printed format of broadsides and chapbooks continued and enlarged the fading oral tradition. Even today there are still a few traditional folk singers in Britain, but most of their repertoire was printed on the broadsides which became part of the traditional process.
If ballads, folk songs, and romances were the last flicker of an ancient metaphysical impulse before its transmutation into social and political mythologies, the street literature of broadsides and chapbooks continued to reflect this gleam before they too were supplanted by the sophisticated culture of books. The history of this process is not so much a formal affair of dates and titles, but rather of trends and phases.......
Traditional ballads were not at first common on the broadsides. The emphasis was on topicality, and many broadsides were titled
'A New Ballad of'. Newness was the feature most stressed by the street hawkers and pedlars. But even the most up-to-date broadside compositions were more often than not to be sung to a wistful old ballad or country-dance tune, and so tradition carried topicality on a musical measure. It is possible that old ballads and country songs were eventually printed on broadsides because they did not involve a fee to a ballad writer, but it is more likely that city dwellers sometimes tired of novelty and hungered for tradition. Many cultured writers took a wistful backward look at traditional themes, and during the eighteenth century sophisticated literature tried to rediscover the romantic tradition of ballads. The antiquarian Bishop Thomas Percy started the first ballad revival with his Reliques of Ancient English Poetry, a curious mixture of traditional and broadside verses. Of the 176 pieces in the first edition of the Reliques published in 1765, only 45 were from the old folio manucript acquired by Percy, but by touching up certain ballads, omitting bawdy items and inserting broadside pieces, Percy introduced polite society to traditional balladry, and gave a new impulse to European literature, in the German romantic movement of Herder, and, in Britain, in the work of Scott, Burns, Wordsworth, Coleridge and others. Soon it became possible for cultured gentlemen to collect folk music from uncultured peasants, while the most polished writers tried to copy the accents of ancient balladry. Generally it was the more plodding broadside verse that was mistaken for the older folk style, and real traditional folk-music collecting awaited the broadminded country parsons of the nineteenth century, like the Rev John Broadwood and the Rev Sabine Baring-Gould.
Broadsides preserved something of tradition at a time when folk memory was beginning to fail. Many news items excited a sense of wonder and awe, and much of topicality was not unmixed with superstition. The verse form itself, as well as the music of the ballads, kept city dwellers in touch with an older, more mysterious past. Chapbooks kept alive the ancient legends and folk tales at a time when men were increasingly concerned with practical affairs.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Lighter
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 01:18 PM

But does the remembering of long, complex songs require the same skills as composing them?

To take a very different sort of case, Parry and Lord's guslars (a tiny minority of the population, IIRC)could create small epics almost on demand, but they weren't stanzaic and didn't rhyme, features which add complexity and tax concentration even more.

I'm not suggesting, of course, that illiterate people didn't have talent, especially when most of the population, including the mute inglorious Miltons, was illiterate. It's just that the more artistically satisfying songs (including most of those that eventually led us here) are very likely to have been composed, or extensively overhauled, by the more rather than the less sophisticated members of the community.

I vaguely recall that David C. Fowler suggested similar ideas many years ago, but memory is hazy.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 01:39 PM

Yes but Parry and Lords subjects created their epics by the use of formulaics. Strictly speaking they were 'assembling' the songs rather than 'creating' them in performance. They may not have rhymed by they were locked into a rhythmic syntax which made them songs by definition. Incidentally, I have seen and heard the spontaneous creation of a version of 'The Brown Girl' in a singaround setting, complete with original melody, by a singer who wanted to test whether he could do it. The song was accepted by all as 'traditional' which, by conventional interpretation of that word, it certainly was. The use of formulaics and other balladic devices has been explored by others at some length. Suffice it to say, it's not very difficult to create an authentic sounding ballad by the use of such tools. As I said earlier, there is a world of difference between 'functional literacy' and the ability to read and write. Anyone who is functionally literate can produce verses. Similarly, when was this mythical time when most were illiterate. The participants in the Peasants Revolt not only organised themselves via written notes but in addition they encrypted them! Things have only got more literate since then.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Howard Jones
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 01:44 PM

I think we're in danger of viewing this from our own modern perspective. We live in a much more mobile society, where someone with intelligence and talent has a much greater opportunity to use these and to rise above disadvantaged beginnings. In earlier times, this was not the case. Many of these 'peasants' (for want of a better word) would have had the intelligence and talent to create. What better than a song or a ballad, which need no resources other than time to think, to express this creativity?

As for being unsophisticated, they may have had little exposure to art music but they were immersed in the musical and textual idioms of their own tradition. Actually, they may have been more aware of art music than we give them credit for - many country musicians' tunebooks contain pieces by classical composers, and they may have had formal musical training in the army or by the church.

It seems to me that it matters little how a song originated. What is significant about a folk song is the way it has then been adapted and changed by successive singers, and often recreated in every performance. That creative process was open to anyone who could sing. Surely that is what we celebrate?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 03:06 PM

Chancing my arm at a theory I don't altogether subscribe to:
David Buchan, in his 'The Ballad and The Folk' put forward the suggestion that the ballads didn't have set texts, only plots, but, with the aid of conventions, commonplaces, repetitions, etc., the singer would re-create it each time it was sung.
I don't think he made his point very well, but like all such theories, I believe it to have a grain of truth.
Can a singer make a complicated song and commit it to his or her memory? I think so - as I've said, some of the singers we've met had phenomenal memories and they were steeped completely in their singing traditions.
It was once claimed (Lomax - Lloyd - can't remember), that in Yugoslavia a would-be bard would be apprenticed to a master and the leaving exam was that he/she would have to improvise a ballad of a given length to be accepted as a ballad singer.
Isn't that what Scots 'flytings' were - tests of improvisational skills?
Many of the Hebridean waulking songs were improvisations on a smaller scale (the one that was made on 'The Handsome American (Lomax) for instance).
In a small way I saw something similar with MacColl not long before he stopped performing. A couple of times his memory failed him (a very rare occurence) and he would improvise chunks of the ballad without it being noticed, except to those of us who knew his repertiore backwards.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 03:20 PM

I find that interesting, Jim, because, if I make a mistake in a song during performance [get the words of a line in the wrong order, e.g., so that the rhyme word fails to come at the end] I can generally think on my feet quickly enough to make up another rhyme as a sort of patch as I'm singing; generally nobody notices. Hadn't realised Ewan did that. I do, though, remember once at the Louise he was trying to sing Blantyre Explosion, but kept starting "As I walked out" & then stopping & looking blank & saying to Peggy "What is the rest of the line?" & she shrugged — till in the end, without wanting to be officious, I could stand it no more & called out "By Clyde's bonny banks"; & he smiled gratefully & said "That's it" & launched into the song.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 04:44 PM

Having read Buchan's theories on this, I also have been experimenting with it. Using my knowledge of the plot and multiple versions I have been singing in public a version of 'The Cruel Mother' and 'The Two Sisters'. Because of the nature of the refrains, and repetitive lines in TTS I have found it quite easy so every time I sing them I recreate them. I'm probably unconsciously using lines from the many different versions I've heard.

I've also seen people make up cohesive songs on the spot when p---d out of their heads. Johnny Handle once did this extremely effectively at the conclusion of a bawdy songs session at Whitby Festival about 10 years ago. He went round the room and made up a verse about each person there. I'm not sure if he was using an existing structure or not, but it worked.

Howard, if you're a singer and not interested in song histories then yes, the origins don't matter (unless they're copyright), but quite a lot of us do happen to be interested in where they come from, for all sorts of reasons, not least natural curiosity.

Jim, Leslie Shepherd's lengthy piece you quote skirts around the question of origin on individual songs. Leslie was certainly a leading light in the history of the broadside trade, but he wasn't all that involved with individual songs. Some more recent writers have gone into much more detail.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 06:32 PM

Just got back from the Ballads Club in Sheffield. There was a morris team practicing elsewhere in the building. One singer in our group got up and sang a really obscure version of 'Dives and Lazarus'. Suddenly he sat down and stopped, 'Sorry', he said, "I can't get the tune right'. It was only then we realised he'd been singing to the morris tune next door. His intended tune turned out to be THE 'Dives and Lazarus' tune. He'd unconsciously re-fitted his words to make it fit what he was hearing. Just thought I'd share this with you.
Paul :-)


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Folkiedave
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 07:35 PM

There was a morris team practicing elsewhere in the building.

There often is in that building. Bloody morris dancers. :-)

How'd it go?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Howard Jones
Date: 18 Nov 09 - 07:51 PM

I agree the history of a song is always of interest. What I was trying to say, in the context of this discussion, is that the original composition of a song is just part of the creative process, and not necessarily the most significant.

It is probable, indeed almost certain, that singers' repertoires have always included both songs which originated from "the people" and also popular songs of the day. The important part of the creative process of folk song, it seems to me, is not so much the original act of composition but how it is subsequently altered, edited and amended by successive singers.

It is striking how often the doggerel of a broadside hack has been reworked into a thing of beauty by the singers who performed it. Is that not what the creativity of the people really means?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Nov 09 - 04:01 AM

"Jim, Leslie Shepherd's lengthy piece you quote skirts around the question of origin on individual songs."
Possibly because he, like the rest of us, didn't know the origins of the songs and was not prepared to speculate.
Laws appeared to take a similar stance, as did all the writers on the subject that I have ever come across.
This is the bit in Shepherd's piece that rings the truest to me:
"It is possible that old ballads and country songs were eventually printed on broadsides because they did not involve a fee to a ballad writer."
Doesn't beat around the bush there - "put not your trust in businessmen" - always worked for me.
Bronson went as far as to repeat the suggestion that Barbara Allen, which he regarded as s country song, was introduced into the city by Mrs Knipp singing it on stage.
But there again, until we have some fresh information everything is speculation really!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Nov 09 - 06:22 PM

Howard, 100% agreement. You've made the most important clear statement on this thread as far as I'm concerned.

Jim,"It is possible that old ballads and country songs were eventually printed on broadsides because they did not involve a fee to a ballad writer." Yes, Leslie was certainly being cautious here. It's not just 'possible', there is plenty of evidence of this, but.....Naaa!

Speculation? Informed opinion? Okay.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Nov 09 - 03:01 PM

"Naaa!"
Why?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Nov 09 - 05:22 PM

Well okay since you ask, I was going to say, yes there was plenty of interplay between oral and print, but....I still am convinced that most of them actually started out on the broadsides, i.e., that was how they came to public notice. We're never going to agree, Jim. Why pursue it? We both base our stances on our experiences. So be it!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Nov 09 - 07:59 PM

Because it undermines the whole concept of 'the people's' ability to create it's/our own culture rather than having it created for them/us.
An age-old battle I'm happy to participate in until I run out of puff - it really is as important, and as basic as that.
Duncan Emrich also referred to the song Lakes of Col Finn "descending to the level of the folk" - now why do I find that offensively patronising, do you think?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 04:01 AM

Steve, where your argument falls down is on the statistics. Most people learn songs orally, nothing to do with literacy, that's how it is even today. I'm not talking about folkies here, I'm talking about people in general. What consititutes 'song' can be anything from a pop song to a TV ad jingle. Writing it down is and always was, a LAST resort in communicating something that was already known. Yesterday I was teaching a year 9 class songwriting. Their preference is to make up the song and THEN write it down. They sing it before it is fixed. If they can do it, how much more likely is it that those involved in repetitive work have done the same thing in the past? Based on observation and the state of human beings I find it much more plausible that the song (in the case of non-political/news items) comes long before the broadside. You also have an analogy in the case of the Victory Bands recordings where the B side contained trad material to avoid excessive payments of rights.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 04:02 AM

I believe there is some kudos attached to posting the 200th message - is that right?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Folkiedave
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 04:23 AM

There is indeed Jim, but I suspect yours is 201!!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 08:49 AM

Oh, so it is - damn!!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: TheSnail
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 09:21 AM

Paul Davenport

Brian, the 'device' is an intellectual process not a software one although I suppose it might be possible to write a piece of software to do it. It's something I came upon in a book when doing another project and the writer outlined his way of analysing melodies in such a way as to reduce the intervals to a numeric pattern. He was then able to compare these patterns. I'll try to locate the book and the method as soon as possible - time permitting.

I'm intrigued. Any progress on finding the book?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 11:41 AM

The process I was thinking of is one devised by Tomás O'Canainn in his book 'Traditional Music in Ireland'. This is a system which allows one to analyse a melody in relation to chordal structures. It isn't useful in the situation of comparing ballad airs. What I was doing was confusing O'Canainn's book with another called 'Musical Themes'. The latter is part of a series which allows researchers to compare melodies from Classical works in order to make comparisons. This is a much easier proposition than O'Canainn's analytical method and does allow comparisons. My suggestion would be to take a spreadsheet make fields for title, melodic outline and original Key as a start. Then try the following; (i) Take your melodies and transpose them to the key of C major. (ii) starting with the first note of the first melody use a number to indicate the interval to the next note and the interval from that to the third note etc. This gives a numeric code representing the skeleton of the melody which can then be matched to that of other tunes. The results can be entered into the spreadsheet and then sorted. You should get all tunes of the same type together - just make sure that you have defined a cell which gives the name of the song. I think this process is easily done and should give a quick comparison of any melody type. Remember we are ignoring time signature here. We simply need to know how the melodic shape is formed.
I have used this system in analysing the melodies in the Burnett collection when writing a paper on 'The Hornpipe' and it works well. Where it gets really interesting is when you then use O'Canainn's system to look at how the original tune has been made. You should discover that traditional folk music in England does not follow classical orthodoxy. Many melodies are developed from a single chord whilst others appear to be in a major key but have their dominant, sub-dominant and tonic degrees substituted for one another. I shall not go on. If you want you can read my analysis of hornpipe melodies by downloading the paper from my website.
Hope all this is of some use.
Paul


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 12:59 PM

Three drifting thoughts of, maybe, marginal interest:

(1) I was present at the spontaneous creation of a 'new' song by training corps cadets at an RAF base in Wales in the 1940s. We had just had a lecture by a warrant officer on venereal disease, the amateur prostitutes outside the gates of the base and card-carrying registered prostitutes in foreign lands, which we found so hilarious (we were that young) that a song began to emerge almost at once. In a crowd of around twenty cadets, three or four of the more articulate youths - not me, I was merely observing - took the lead and began to put words together. The whole process took about twenty minutes, producing two verses with hardly a pause for discussion.   The tune was, of course, a common one, 'John Brown's Body', and the words scanned and rhymed ('Warrant officer Williams is a crafty so-and-so; He searches for his women by the lighted matches' glow' etc, then chorus: 'Glory, glory, where's yer blue card?'). For our last week at the base it was sung on the march and in the Nissen hut. Within another week, it was totally forgotten, the reason for its existence having faded from the short memories of teenagers. Some songs live and die and leave no trace.

(2) When I was about four or five, my sister taught me a version of the Swapping Song ('My father died, I know not how') which has stayed with me for well over seventy years. When, in my thirties, I began to be interested in folk song, I saw a published version (now identifiable as Roud 469), which I supposed must have been how my sister had first learned it, probably at elementary (i.e primary) school. I saw at once that what I had taken from her did not completely match the printed source, but the variations were easily explained by the simple mishearings of a four year old learning from a twelve year old. Interesting thing is, that I wouldn't change a word or a note of our 'original', which I actually prefer to the printed version. No vanity here. Just a deep-rooted feeling that this song is hers and mine and I want to keep it that way.

(3) When, a bit later, my working life led me into the study of theatre buildings and their history, I became aware of the importance of the little eighteenth and early nineteenth century theatres, that were built in their hundreds around the country. They were built to accommodate circuit companies that made the rounds of a dozen or more identical market town theatres in the course of a year. Because the law relating to dramatic performance made it impossible for them to present straight drama without music, they developed a hybrid entertainment with songs interspersed into every play and with a variety of completely unrelated solo songs, duets and hornpipes, etc, between the acts (one of the reasons, incidentally, that music hall entertainment was able to develop so quickly in the 1840s and 50s, when the laws governing theatres were liberalised). Such theatres, which served all levels of local society under one roof, were clearly a potent force in disseminating and popularising songs.   They also needed a constant supply of such material, which they created anew, or adopted from more upmarket theatres' presentations or 'took into care', giving a theatrical polish to existing popular songs that were already familiar to the audience.   Many such songs found their way into print in play texts, in songsters and on broadsides and from thence into (or back to?) the folk repertoire.

        If I have a point in all this (and you may be beginning to doubt it) it is that, whilst songs of sublime beauty have been created and perfected by 'the folk', without benefit of writing or print, there are many songs in the folk repertoire that clearly did not originate in this way but had literate authors. Whether their names are traceable or not, you don't need a degree in folk studies or theatre history to tell you that such songs as 'The Garden Gate' or the 'Feast Song' ('Our sweet pretty dairymaid's praise') are the works of individual authors, labouring with pen, ink and perspiration over each verse. That they had a sure instinct for the tastes of the society they were writing for/about is obvious, otherwise their songs would not have survived in oral tradition long enough to be collected.

Enough rambling. Jim and Steve. Back to the serious argument. Don't go quiet on us now.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 01:09 PM

Drift — fascinating, Billy. Did you know that Wilkin's Festival Theatre in Newmarket Rd, Cambridge [where I live], internally identical to his almost exactly contemp Th Royal Bury St Eds as you will know [still active], is now a Buddhist Centre?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 03:07 PM

Billy,
Not too far a thread drift and as MtheGM said, fascinating.
Your first part is reminiscent of a song we found here in West Clare.
During the War of Independence it was of the the practice of non-participants who were nevertheless supporters of the cause of self government to 'do their bit' by making a nuisiance of themselves with acts of minor protest. One of the favourites was to pile a bundle of parafin-soaked rags up against the doors of the local (unoccupied) barracks (police stations) and set them alight, causing only slight damage, but diverting the attention of the RIC and the 'Tans' from the real war.
Shortly after this had happened in the next village from here, Quilty, a group of young men, (3 locals and a 'returned Yank') got together at the road junction (the cross) and began to toss around verses on the incident, concentrating on how the local people reacted to such goings on.
Nobody can remember who the four lads were, but the song did the rounds up to Independance in 1922 when it disappeared, only to turn up again in Deptford in the early 1980s from a Quilty man who had left Ireland in 1948 and never returned.
It's a lovely little comic song which is also a part of Irish history almost completely forgotten, until we put it back into circulation on the Round The Hills of Clare cds. Since then we've been inundated with information from locals telling of this and similar incidents.
Which underlines, for me anyway, why it is necessary to recognise that these aren't 'just learned from print' but records of local information.
Jim Carroll
PS Don't know if your interest extends to theatre performance but if it does - do you know anything about the travelling theatres 'fit-ups' which were popular here and, I think, in Scotland up to the middle of the 20th century. Would appreciate any information on them.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 05:34 PM

Jim,
Once again, I repeat, I am not denying or downgrading the people's ability to be creative. The vast majority of the people simply haven't got the motivation or the time to be creative in this way. The vast majority are passive and happy to have specialist people do it for them.

Confession, though I have some of his books, Emrich isn't particularly one of my gurus. Are you sure you aren't misquoting 'ascending' for 'descending'? 'The Lakes of Coolfin' is a particularly lovely song and, though it has been greatly printed on broadsides, versions vary so much and they demonstrate how old it is. In my experience such broadsides are based on real events, and in this particular case I would not like to conjecture whether it first saw light on a broadside or not.

Paul, my argument doesn't fall down at all because we're not talking about how people learn songs, we're talking about how they originate.
And if you're bringing it up to date, which is what you seem to be doing, even more songs nowadays originate under commercial circumstances. And my argument simply says this was, since at least the middle of the 18th century, always the case.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Nov 09 - 10:51 PM

Bejaysus Mr.Weeks, your post has just recalled a long forgotten incident from my childhood.
When at a summer camp in Scotland in the 1950s we were encouraged to make up a song.
The teacher informed us that the "Head" had a car, which he referred to as a "Flivver".
The song started as I recall "Mr.Knoll's's Flivver has a puncture in it's tyre...." and it went on to be mended by chewing gum if I recall correctly!

I just Googled "Flivver" and ....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Model_T   

Thanks for the memory!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 04:10 AM

"The vast majority are passive and happy to have specialist people do it for them."
Sorry Steve; I find this the most patronisingly destructive sentence I have ever read in the field of folk song; but it does bring this argument down to where it should have been in the first place.
It would appear that the Irish people made their own songs, the Scots made their own songs, the English weren't up to it so they paid somebody to do it for them.
"Are you sure you aren't misquoting 'ascending'"
This is Emrich's piece of mystical (and also patronising) nonsense - remembering that it is an analysis of one of the most beautiful tragic ballads in the English language - the Lake of Coolfinn (Col Fin):

"FROM Lilith, the wild woman of perilous love, and Morgain la Fée, to the mood of a street ballad about one of the many Irish youths who have lost their lives in fresh water, is a long leap. But "The Lakes of Col Fin" takes it. Irish singers understand the lore of the ballad perfectly: Willie was not "drowned"; he was taken away to Tir fa Tonn, "Fairyland-under-wave," by a water woman who had fallen in love with him. Legends of similar content are frequent in Middle Irish literature and have survived into modern popular tradition. We may compare Motherwell's, "The Mermayden," whose "bower is biggit o' the gude ships' keels, and the banes o' the drowned at sea"—a grim picture of the supernatural woman's cruelty in love, which the poet nicely caught—and Leyden's "The Mermaid of Corrievrekan," with a happy ending wrought by a clever hero who inveigles the mermaid into taking him back to bid farewell to his former love, "the maid of Colonsay." Both poems were based on local traditions and legends.
Popular tradition, however, does not mean popular origin. In the case of our ballad, the underlying folklore is Irish de facto, but not de jure: the ballad is of Oriental and literary origin, and has sunk to the level of the "folk" which has the keeping of folklore. To put it in a single phrase, memory not invention, is the function of the folk."

Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: TheSnail
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 05:40 AM

Thanks Paul, just what I was looking for. I have been nibbling round the edges of this sort of thing for a while with the hope of writing some software to do it, mainly for dance tunes rather than song. I might start another thread on the subject when I've done a bit more thinking. I don't think your points (i) and (ii) are quite as staightforward as you thing and the process might not be quite so easy to do as all that. Could you give me a link to your website please?

Next! Schenkerian Analysis!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 08:45 AM

MtGM: The Cambridge Festival. formerly Barnwell Theatre was built in 1814 by William Wilkins the Elder, a plasterer who ran the Norwich circuit. The Buddhists, I have been pleased to see, have treated it with great respect. The Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal, which became the HQ for that circuit, was built in 1819 by his son, the younger William Wilkins, an architect, who also designed, incidentally the National Gallery. It has been superbly restored by the National Trust.

Jim: I'm not sure I can answer for Scotland, but in England until the 1780s, practically all small country town theatre was in the form of 'fit up', since the legal standing of theatre performance was too dodgy to encourage anyone to build a permanent theatre that might be used, with permanent risk of enforced closure, for only a few weeks in the year, during the annual fairs, race meetings, Christmas, the assizes etc. Some larger towns had a theatre with a Royal warrant (a 'theatre royal'), but the general picture was one of ad hoc provision. A strolling company who, if lucky, might have a local patron among the gentry or military, would sweet-talk the local magistrates into allowing them to give performances in fitted-up barns or tavern club rooms.   In 1788 the licensing powers of the magistrates were clarified by statute and a new sense of certainty led to a rush to build little circuit theatres, which, unsurprisingly tended to be rather barn-like.   Every theatre on a circuit had to be identical in dimensions, since the company travelled with its scenery. They also had a very little time for rehearsals. Rehearsals and performances needed to take place on a stage that felt familiar in every respect. Remains of such theatres are dotted about the country, but there is only one (among former hundreds) that has been fully restored and made operational in its original form and that is in Richmond, Yorkhire.

The performers also had to be extremely versatile, not only to act in 'The Vampire' on Wednesday, a musical version of 'King Lear' on Thursday and 'Black-eyed Susan' on Friday. Nearly all of them also had to be capable singers and some were competent dancers. I like to imagine a comfortable middle-class gent in the box tier, noting a particular song as a good one for his private after-supper harmonic meetings and hoping to find a printed copy, while the illiterate coachman in the gallery is imprinting the whole song on his memory, to be reproduced later, with variations, at a free-and-easy.

The fit-up survived where there were no theatres and in the mid-twentieth century, when most country theatres had disappeared, a few companies were formed to take simple productions to theatreless regions.   I went to irregular pub performances, when they were no longer common, as late as the 1950s in suburban London.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 08:51 AM

Hi Snail, My web address is www.hallamtrads.co.uk the paper is in there somewhere on the research page but feel free to delve about.
Paul


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 08:54 AM

Thank you, Billy. Am I right that one of the Wilkins was also responsible for the present frontage of Kings College Cambridge?

There was an attempt a few years ago to reopen the Festival in Cambridge as a theatre — one of that year's regular university productions [Marlowe Soc?] took place there & I remember reviewing it [I have many times reviewed productions in BStEds] - but I suspect it would just have cost too much, & that was when the Buddhists took it over. For many years, as you will know, it belonged to the Arts Theatre Trust [possibly still does, & is rented from them?], & was long used as a costume store.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 09:09 AM

I stupidly failed to acknowledge that when Jim says 'here' he means Ireland. Ireland, as usual, is the exception to every rule, but fit-ups were presumably as common and made for the same reasons as elsewhere. But I should, in this connection, have mentioned travelling booth theatres, which were active in Ireland (are they still?) decades after the last was seen in England. Their effect on song transmission was, I suspect, not dissimilar to that of the circuit theatres. But I am now venturing too far outside my comfort zone!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 11:10 AM

Billy, again thanks for some fascinating information.
Up to the end of the 1950s there were still travelling booth theatres (along with mobile cinemas) here in Ireland.
They appeared to take two distinctive forms - the professional groups with extensive equipment, costume and props, (Eoin(?) McMasters was one of the leading actor/producers in these), and the occasional ones, extremely basic, with the minimum of equipment and usually organised by Traveller families.
I am interested in both, (theatre as a whole in fact) but the Traveller fit-ups are part of our collecting work. One singer's sisters were part of one in Kerry at the end of the 1940s. This was run by Christie Purcell, who, along with his daughter Lal Smith, was recorded singing by the BBC during their mopping up project.
I'm trying to find out some of the titles of the plays presented - so far I only have 'Willie Reilly and Collen Bán'.
There was a television programme devoted to McMasters earlier this year and also a 15 minute early documentory film on the fit-ups in general.
Thanks again
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:13 PM

MtGM: I knew the Festival as a costume store and was briefly involved in the proposal to revive it as a theatre. Too remote for this thread!

William Wilkins the younger has a long list of fine designs to his credit, including Downing College, King's College New Buildings(1828)and KC Bridge, (all in Cambridge) and University College London. He was also a keen theatre man and I think he must have been the only architect to have a controlling interest in a theatre circuit.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 01:20 PM

Jim: Many thanks. As I suspected, Ireland was the place to see the last of the booth theatres. Only sorry I never did! Historian Ann Featherstone has done a lot of work on booth theatres in England, but not in particular relation to song.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: ollaimh
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 02:11 PM

do make me laugh.

i'v benn thinkng along these lines for a while although it took untill a few years ago to really intellectualize them.

in anglo canada folk has been a totally artificial creation west of the ottawa river for decades. run by midle class and acedemic who have all the nasty bigotry they live by. i used to wonder why it was so strange at folk clubs from toronto and vancouver but just shook my head and went and got a gig.(i'm from rural nova scotia,a quarter acadien and three quarters highland scott--we spoke more gaelic than french).

i just posted how stan rogers opened the doors for us.before him folk out betond the ottawa river was ruled by people who dismissed us as ""country"".probvably because the only inroads for maritime music up till then were blazed by john allan cameran in nashville and a bit by hank snow before him(snow was from nova scotia and did record the odd traditional down east song).those inroads were because the country scene didn't have the class and ethnic bigotry of the folk scene and if the music was good the tapped theirs toes and bought the records.

i recently talked to a friend who said of the vancouver folk song society:they broke my heart", and i had to agree they did ot often, she like all thos they humiliated was from a working class background, part prarie french and did thei traditional stuff and they drove her out. she could get major gigs at international events to play prarie folk and not be accepted by the vancouver folk ss as i call them. they used to show up in bib overalls and sing harry bellafonte songs and put down the working class people who woud try to dress up.

my very first visit to vancouver back in the seventies i went to their coffee house and asked to play(i just hitch hiked in and didn't have a bean) the fat bastard at the door said i could get in for free but i coulon't play that maritimes country music. he royally announced"we do real folk"

so i walked up the street and busked.i thought with the folkies going by i might make a bean or two.it was gangbusters.(the fat bastard kept peering out and frowning while id did it) so a few hours later with fourty bucks in my pocket i thought i could be one of the big important people and payed the two dollars to get in.they were singing the banana boat song!!!! day o day o

i didn'tthink of the real implication for yearsi just bthought "gee i never met anyone like that in guysborough county, but they wouldn't say those strange things if they didn't have a reason" what i realized was the reason was class and ethnic bigotry, they wanted a folk to be a secular curch and replace the religious ethics their parents and grand arents had.
this isn't entirely over.in toronto and vancouver they have their "official maritime musicians" of course from toronto or vancouver. and won't allow the real thing without a lot of brown nosing or unlkess you are acceptable middle class. i was aked to gototheir folk song circle many times.i busked in toronto full time for a decade and met a lot of folkies.but when i phoned or e mailed people they always said this is a closed group. a couple repeated the "we don't have maritime country music.

even in the busking scen in the transit system there were torontonians playing maritime music as their schtick who would regularily threaten me,because they were the maritime act and i had no busniss taking the work from ontario musicians.

now i should acknowledge thatmy expeciences in the uk and the us were better. they are more aware of real roots music.i got picked up busking on a berkley california street tppl;ay the berkeley folk festival when i was down there twenty years ago. the guy who offered me the gig siad he recognized i was playing celtic music but he had never heard those songs so he wondered where i was from.AND I GOT PAID.tho american folk is a pop/folk genre..

and in the uk when i have gone to folk clubs i sing canadian folk and they seem to love it. i sang at the cecil sharphouse this year while on vacation and met a lot of very nice people.i supose there werea lot of acedemic types but they seemed tolove to hear something rootsy and new. that's all i ask.

but folk in anglo canada is a show business term.its about making careers on influemce and not knowledge nor realmusical ability.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 03:43 PM

Ollaimh,
You have my deepest sympathy. That's a real eye-opener.

Jim,
I certainly didn't intend any of what I wrote to be patronising. In my experience it's just a fact. Obviously things ARE/WERE very different over in Ireland. I wrongly assumed things were similar to over here having looked at the flourishing Irish broadside scene, but I suppose I should have taken into account more the books of Henry and Glassy as opposed to Healy and O'Lochlainn. I'm sorry but I know of nowhere in England in the last 2 centuries where there is any strong tradition of songmaking that hasn't got commercial interests at the bottom of it. A few odd individuals have sent me tapes they've made of their own songs and I recently recorded an old farm hand who had written some of his own songs for his own amusement, and then there's John Greaves on our website, but to what extent he is/has been influenced by the folk scene is debatable. But two or three people hardly constitute a thriving scene. As I said before the Bothy ballads of NE Scotland are a very special case.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 06:21 PM

Forty seven years of organising and performing in folk clubs, and forty seven years of work which included Oxy/acetylene burning, Carpentry, taxi driving, caretaking, bus driving, and cleaning shit from sewers, and in all that time I never realised that I am a middle class denizen of the professions.

Thank you for the information, but I really don't have any inclination to discuss such inverse snobbery.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Effsee
Date: 22 Nov 09 - 10:46 PM

Apologies, that was me as Gueust at 21 Nov 09 - 10:51 PM
.
Lost me cookie somehow.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 04:04 AM

"I certainly didn't intend any of what I wrote to be patronising. In my experience it's just a fact."
Steve;
Your whole theory oozes patronising condescention.
"The vast majority of the people simply haven't got the motivation or the time to be creative in this way. The vast majority are passive and happy to have specialist people do it for them."
Really? The enclosures, transportations, the shift from countryside to city, from field to factory, from hand weaving to factory manufacture, the virtually permanent wars, the press gangs and forcible recruitings, the struggle for trades union recognitions and for the vote.... - none of this was enough to inspire the English people to get up off their bums and make songs recording their experiences and feelings? What an indolent and complacent lot we English are! Ah, but we did have a team of "specialist people " slaving away on our behalf, didn't we?
The Irish and the Scots were no different than the English, yet they recorded their lives, experiences and opinions in their songs, often in ther minutest detail, the non-literate Travellers (including the English) did so - but the English working man chose to contract the work out to the experts, if your theory is to be given any credit.
"I recently recorded an old farm hand who had written some of his own songs...."
I'm not talking about people who write songs - many of the old singers did - I think Harry Cox penned a couple (but I could be wrong). I am referring to songs composed in the communities which were taken up generally and became traditional - we recorded dozens which must have been made during the lifetimes of the singers who gave them to us; there are around ten examples of these on our 'Around The Hills of Clare' C.D. and a few on 'From Puck To Appleby' (there would have been more of the latter but in some cases the songs in question were about people still living who might have taken offence - so we were asked not to use them).
Walter Pardon gave us a number of local songs which rose directly from the re-establishment of the Agricultural Workers Union and I am sure that, if they had been sought actively there would have been many more from other areas of England - I really don't believe that the English 'people' or their circumstances were any different to the rest of the world (song-making is an international phenomenon).
"Bothy ballads of NE Scotland are a very special case. "
You've said this before - apparently on the basis that if it is repeated often enough it will become an accepted 'fact'. How are they a special case; how does the description you gave earlier differ from, say, life on board ship (you've put our sea repertiore into the hands of hack-writers), or the farming communities of England in the more remote areas over the last few centuries.
You are asking us to accept (and reject) a great deal on the flimsiest of evidence - that a few professional writers who, as you said yourself, we know nothing whatever about, laid claim to some of our folk songs.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 05:42 AM

English songwriting:
I neglected to mention the hundreds of songs submitted to the 19th century radical papers during times of political upheaval.
I nearly ruined my eyesight in the 60s poring over microfilm copies in Manchester Central Library.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 10:03 AM

Jim, I think it's probably a waste of time and effort trying to have a serious discussion with a hardy son of the soil, who firmly believes that anyone who stayed at school long enough to read the Beano is a middle class intellectual.

I grew up with an abiding love of the English language, and learned to use it well, and you wouldn't believe the hassle I received at the hands of people like the OP, simply for being well spoken.

I have earned my living by sweat and callouses all my life, but just try telling him I'm working class.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 11:32 AM

It would appear that the Irish people made their own songs, the Scots made their own songs, the English weren't up to it so they paid somebody to do it for them.

That is blatantly untrue. Everyone knows that all songs are derived from American country music!

:D (eG)


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Sue Allan (cookieless at work!)
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 11:40 AM

Steve - what about hunting circles (especially the fell packs) ... Cumbria's hunting fraternity certainly had a strong tradition of song making, and indeed are still doing so (although probably less than before). None of that is with any intention of commercial gain -except competitions and the like to raise funds for the hunts. Granted, printers have later sometimes taken up some of the songs(notably John Peel)and published them commercially, but they were never written with that intent.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 12:55 PM

Just been re-reading my way through Wimberly's 'Folklore in The English and Sottish Ballads' and wondering; if it is true that the ballads were the products of the broadside presses - where did the Seven Dials denizens get the folklore to put into them? They must have been great researchers, especially those making songs prior to the folklore collections being published (mid 19th century)?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 01:04 PM

well, I am a person.
my grammar isnt very good, that is because I left school at 16 with one o level, art,
however I can play a few instruments and sing a few songs,I dont think I qualify as a middle class intellectual,and I like traditional music, do I get a prize?am I one of the people,or am I lumped in with chongo chimp.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 05:07 PM

Sue,
Absolutely!
Those hunting songs that usually tell of a day's hunting with a catalogue of participants, places passed and hound names, yes, but most of these are not part of the corpus we have been discussing (Dido Bendigo allowed for). Those flowery pieces about bright Phoebus rising are mostly the product of the London pleasure gardens of the late 18thc. We were discussing the common repertoire of the English-speaking world, those songs found in England, Ireland, Scotland AND America. I have various books of hunting songs from all the major hunts and most of the songs in them are LOCAL pieces with little or no currency out of the area.

Jim,
'Denizens of Seven dials'? Every town had its own printers and hacks.

The political songs you mentioned, How many of these made it into the general corpus of traditional song?

Jim,
This must be getting as tiresome for you as it is becoming for me. We both have very strong opposed views on these origins. Neither can prove the other wrong or right.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,Betsy
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 07:55 PM

I like this Subject matter, but, the depressing thought is, that the music of the people is THAT exhibited on X Factor.
I have honestly never seen this programme and consequently , am unable to join-in or hold a conversation about it , but constantly asked for my views.

For my part, I feel inextriacably linked to the Irish and Scottish songs and music , in addition to my native English, but let's face it ,music today ,it is only wanted ,for the amount of public attraction and MONEY it can generate.

You must all know the rise and decline of the Roman Empire and THIS period which Brits are going through. We've reached the age of decadence !!

I remember - and it wasn't too long ago , that Irish folkies couldn't get a decent money-paying gig in Ireland. The Tory London press picked upon the Chieftains coupled with the Dubliners ,and the main stay of the Irish scene the show Band - disappeared ,and fortunately Irish performrs started to be in demand at home as much as hey were abroad

Time will tell if if there is a desire for "British" people to embrace their roots in a similar way to the Irish-but for the meantime don't get carried away - Johnny J's motion is full of rightful concerns, and folk music a generally performed today cannot be conider as "Music of the people".


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Effsee
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 10:34 PM

Steve,..."Jim,
This must be getting as tiresome for you as it is becoming for me. "...
as it is to us all probably...but I know who is winning the argument, and it ain't you.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 02:09 AM

Some ambiguity, Effsee, as to which you think is & isn't winning the argument — reread your own previous post & I think you will see what I mean: not entirely clear whom you mean by 'you', with that initial double-apostrophe — 'Steve,..."Jim,'...

Please elucidate.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 04:06 AM

Steve and all
No - neither of us can prove anything, but Steve is challenging and, I believe, attempting to undermine the whole premise on which our concept of folk song has been built on.
It is important to me whether or not our folk song repertoire came from the 'ordinary' people and reflected their lives or experiences, or was a commercial product.
That people find the discussion tiresome evokes the same response from me as does the often heard complaint that "ballads are long and boring" - tough - go and listen to something else!
While Steve continues to suggest that 'the folk' didn't make folk music I will continue to seek clarification on his (I believe) reactionary claim. I really don't feel it is something that we can agree to differ on.
Steve hasn't begun to address any of the real problems - literacy (not the lack of but the attitude to), the likelihood of non sailors, farmworkers, spinners... et al producing songs on subjects that took hold and spread all over the English-speaking world (and beyond), lasted for centuries, and were claimed as Norfolk, or Clare, or Suffolk, or Traveller... or wherever they ended up, by the people who sang them.
Or the (claimed) ability of commercial writers having such a grasp on folklore as to interweave their ballad 'compositions' with folkloristic references.
Or the skilful use of the vernacular... or technical terms... or the or the geographic or social reality.....
In my opinion none of these, and many other questions have been answered, or even approached.
Above all, Steve continues to claim that, unlike most of the world's peoples, the English 'people' alone did not reflect their lives and opinions in song, but left it to the 'professionals' - pleading 'special case' for the bothy songs in order to do so.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 04:19 AM

JIM - FWIW I do not regard this as in any way a 'tiresome' argument; I regard it as absolutely basic. & I am with you in it 100%. The idea of broadside hacks, professional or otherwise, being the creators of a widespread corpus of that kind is patently ridiculous. Of course print helped — as have all other more recent techno-'advances' — in dissemination. & or course much passed on from pleasure gardens, music-hall &c, via such media. But the thought that such are the sole, or even the main, originators of our entire folksong heritage is clearly an absurdity.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 04:49 AM

Folk music is the music of the people, it's just that....as I've discovered...in England, you have to be one of **THE** people to be allowed to love it.

It's protected by Radar & Rules to keep the ordinary peasants away..

:0)


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: melodeonboy
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 05:08 AM

.....zzzzzzzzz!


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 07:33 AM

Shhhh
Don't wake the child
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 11:41 AM

"It's protected by Radar & Rules to keep the ordinary peasants away.."
Taking my courage in both hands- would you care to explain this radar and these rules and and to whom do we owe our gratitude or otherwise for them.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 12:08 PM

Don't go there Jim - see the Eddi Reader thread. Try to keep this one sane!

D.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 12:45 PM

I dont care who else likes the music or whether the majority of the people of the 21st century like the music or whether they prefer Daniel ODonnell, I like it.
Jim,and Steve, I think you are both right[TO SOME EXTENT] and neither of you has yet managed to prove the other is ENTIRELY wrong.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 01:20 PM

D el G
Sorry - couldn't resist
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 01:44 PM

I know, Jim. Happens to me too:-)

Just remembered - I was enjoying part of the collection you sent me the other day. Surely a grand example of 'Music of the People' - and lots of English music to boot! Suprised you have not mentioned it here. Or have you and I missed it?

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 02:28 PM

David,
Glad you're enjoying it - hope it stays with you as long as it has stayed with me - pass it on.
No, you haven't missed it - hasn't come up.
Best
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: ollaimh
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 01:28 PM

i should say that i was in london a few months ago and went to a folk song group and they were great. no entrance tersts as far as i couild see. i just sang a few songs and people were very recptive. i suspect that the english folk scene is much more mature and focused on the music and has many people with a real knowledge of class and etghnic issues. the songs of others seemed to show that.

in anglo canada folk like everything else is still neo colonial. john raulston saul(a leading canadian intellectual) wrote a book rec ently baout6 the failure to launch of canada. in addition to folk class and elit5es we still export our resourses with ut significant royalities , happy with the incidental jobs< we still follow blindly the american or british foreign policy and we still have ninetheenth century courts and parliament when the uk has long moved on.

the truth is just as englishmen can never seriously examine their imperoiaol heritage without reall world view changes, canadians a=cannot really examine our colonial heritage of genocide against the natuves. so here we are stuck pretending the elephants are not in the room


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 02:22 PM

Beginning with the Weavers' era in the U.S., labor and left-of-center politics were never far from those most associated with "folk music." In the main, that is probably as true today as then. When I first got into the coffee house scene, in the late 1950's, many of those I met were fellow college students and professors. There were also some working people, mainly sales and clerical folks. There were a few "blue collar" types as well. There were also several "regulars" who played chess, engaged in discussions about songs, instruments, etc., and whose means of support were indeterminate. We didn't ask, generally. Most, frankly, were white and likely middle income people.

I have not hung out in coffee houses for a very long time. My son, who has done so, being the current working musician in the family, describes the crowds as very similar in makeup, though with much more racial and ethnic diversity.

It appears logical that people with some academic background and intellectual curiosity are most likely to delve into the research, collection, performance and preservation of traditional music. You could make the case that they are best equipped to do so. I don't know if there is anything inherently wrong with that model. Keeping the flame burning is more important than who tends it. The music itself comes from both oral tradition and formal composition.

That said, no one should feel excluded and all people who are truly interested in folk music ought to be encouraged to join in. There should certainly be no intellectual or academic arrogance brought to bear. This is supposed to be the "people's music," someone said.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: mousethief
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 06:04 PM

Meanwhile real folk music was going on in valleys and hollers up in the Ozarks and Appalachians. Occasionally a collector would pass through and steal some, and occasionally somebody would make it to the low lands and take some out with them (Carter family most famously). But this didn't even rise to the level of "blue collar" -- which presupposes industrialism. Black collar, more like, for the coal mining.

O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: ollaimh
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 11:50 PM

th trouble which "the model" is we gaels have been doing the real thing whether or not the nice bourgeoises deighned to notice or not. same with the french and probably many others. the bourgeoise however stake out ownership in other peoples music. i used to be refgularily told that what i sang wasn't folk. i was young and stupid and comming from the sticks of guysborough county i had never met anyone face to face who was completeloy full of shit. i later learned that this is a feature of anglo culture, the blowhards whao are completely full of shit. i didn't understand then and ii don't understand now why they are evn interested in folk music, but thye are amd they OWN IT.

and the bourgeoise have stesdy jobd and can show up every wednesday night, and they getb to make the rules and the travelling worker--as i was much of my life--shows up to sing and in most clubs never gets a chance . i could get the gigs though. after a few years i got a kick out of seeing them at my gigs from northwest folklife to the berkely folk festival. but the truth is very few folk clubs in the north american anglo world will let working class people from living folk traditions participate unless we brown nose fiercely as demons. and i wish i n=new how to brown nose ,i really do, i would have had a much easier life,but i grew upin a culture where people mouth off what theythink about the evil classes and empires ruling us. out jkes are disrespectfull and we were alway suspicious of any authority. i never learned to shpow the proper deference.so if i stayed in the same town for a while i could go again and again and slowly get to participate but never without nasty attacks and gossip.

this is the big bigotry, class bigotry. much of the rest of bigotry is now subsumed in class bigotry. the bourgeoise folkies can always seem to "get "their enemies on their "bad behavior" never admitting that that behavior is normal in another culture. i maintain that anglo culture is still suffering from the imperial hangover. the worst is not counting the dead in iraq or vietnam, but the least is still bad. never acknowledging the experience and knowledge of those who haven't graduated through the anglo cultural experience. well makeing people graduate thus does colour and pollute the folk tradition. but i may be a fool nut i'm a slow learner.i don't call what i do folk anymore. i call it celtic music or acadien music which ever i'm playing..

remember   je me souvien, or as milan kundera said:

"the fight to remember is the fight against tyranny"


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 07:47 AM

i later learned that this is a feature of anglo culture, the blowhards whao are completely full of shit

...dotcha just love sweeping generalisations? And WTF is an "Anglo"?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Mr Happy
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 07:51 AM

......kind've squeezeable innit?


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: artbrooks
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 08:17 AM

Spleen Cringe, an "Anglo", to someone in the US living in a Hispanic or Hispanic-tinted culture, is anyone who isn't Hispanic. It has nothing at all to do with the language spoken. Here in Albuquerque, a Polish immigrant who speaks no English would be considered an Anglo, while a descendant of the original Spanish colonists, who speaks only English, would not.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 08:23 AM

Here in Albuquerque, a Polish immigrant who speaks no English would be considered an Anglo, while a descendant of the original Spanish colonists, who speaks only English, would not.

How on earth would you know whether a man speaking colloquial American English in Albuquerque was a descendant of the original Spanish colonists? Is it considered important over there? Not trying to be controversial, Art - just genuinely curious.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Charmion
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 09:31 AM

I live in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. It is the only major city the Ottawa Valley, a large district that extends from Lake Nippissing to the Saint Lawrence River and comprises some of western Quebec as well as eastern Ontario. Except for pockets of Polish and Finnish settlement, its rural areas resemble Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in both poverty and ethnic make-up.

Here in the Valley, "Anglo" or "English" typically means "The Man" -- the well-dressed members of the managerial class. It means the people who ran the paper mill that closed and threw the bread-winner of your family out of a job. It means the banker who won't extend your equipment loan. It means the people who make the government policies that seem carefully designed to prevent you from collecting pogey.

The actual ethnicity and personal history of those individuals is irrelevant; in fact, eastern Ontario managers are often bilingual francophones from blue-collar backgrounds who are themselves only two pay-cheques from deep trouble. The source of friction is not their language or their heritage, but their access to opportunities that others want and cannot quite seem to grasp.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: artbrooks
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 09:54 AM

Colonial descendants most often have Spanish surnames. There are about twenty very common ones associated with the Spanish pioneers. They are not all dark haired, brown eyed and olive complected, either.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Lighter
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 09:59 AM

Will, about the only way you'd know would be if the person has told you.

But what artbrooks says is true, though possibly most true in the Southwest. Are such things important over here? To many people, Hispanic and otherwise, yes. The reason is that areat many "Anglos" have always looked down on and discriminated against Hispanics - along with other non-British or Northern European ethnic minorities.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,999
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 09:00 PM

No man is an island . . . .

Well, there's the Isle of Man, but that's an exseptshun/excepption/exceptshun extenuating abnormality. And I ask why Antarctica is not an island but rather a continent? And where are women in all this? As for the thread starter's original choice of title for this thread? I wouldn't think of it.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: Little Hawk
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 09:18 PM

For a good laugh, I recommend renting all of Charlie Chaplin's original films and watching them in chronological order.


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Subject: RE: Music of the people..Don't make me laugh
From: GUEST,999
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 09:19 PM

I'm with you. But for me it's WC Fields.


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