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The Virtual Oral Tadition

Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 Dec 09 - 04:03 PM
MGM·Lion 21 Dec 09 - 04:08 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 21 Dec 09 - 04:27 PM
GUEST,EKanne 21 Dec 09 - 04:29 PM
Don Firth 21 Dec 09 - 05:18 PM
MGM·Lion 21 Dec 09 - 10:36 PM
Mysha 21 Dec 09 - 11:23 PM
Jack Blandiver 22 Dec 09 - 03:13 AM
MGM·Lion 22 Dec 09 - 04:04 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 22 Dec 09 - 04:21 AM
Will Fly 22 Dec 09 - 04:38 AM
Charley Noble 22 Dec 09 - 06:22 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 23 Dec 09 - 12:43 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 23 Dec 09 - 12:49 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 29 Dec 09 - 01:50 PM
Richard Mellish 29 Dec 09 - 04:37 PM
GUEST, Poxicat 29 Dec 09 - 06:34 PM
goatfell 13 Jul 12 - 10:08 AM
John P 14 Jul 12 - 12:15 AM
MGM·Lion 14 Jul 12 - 03:07 AM
Tootler 14 Jul 12 - 05:15 AM
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Subject: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 04:03 PM

This year I've learned virtually *all* my folk songs from virtual internet resources.

I like to compare different versions from YouTube til I choose the version I like best, and then I 'borrow' my own interpretation from there.

On top of the classic revival recordings to be found, there is an even greater plethora of amateur versions spawned from same! I love these to learn from!

There's even one chap who posts a whole list of Child Ballads..

Virtual Oral Tradition, or not?


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 04:08 PM

Do you collate the different versions you have heard? Is that what you mean by 'borrowing' your interpretation, CS?


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 04:27 PM

Yes MtheGM, I tend to gather them up, and keep them to listen to and compare for interpretation.
I might use YouTube or err illeghally borrowed revival versions (I'm afraid I'm a bad girl for actually purchasing folk music - I'm only into scavenging..)

What I find most interesting is the amateur 'covers' of classic revival versions of traditional songs, which may be found a plenty.
Never mind Bellowhead & The Unmthanks, Folk Music never looked so lively!


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: GUEST,EKanne
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 04:29 PM

It's a confusing experience, in my opinion. For myself, I'd far rather work from printed text so that any "artistic" choices are mine! Maybe it's because when I was looking for songs to add to my repertoire, there was no internet and so songs came from performers in folk clubs or from recorded material -- but even then I'd copy out words by repeated listening before abandoning the sound source.
Eventually I believe you begin to know what you like and what you want to convey, so that the interpretations of others are less relevant.
But, having said that, I've been thrilled to see some of the early video of Jean Ritchie (on another thread)!


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 05:18 PM

I think the vast majority of my early repertoire came from recordings. Burl Ives, Richard Dyer-Bennet, Susan Reed, Ed McCurdy, Cynthia Gooding, et al. Some songs I learned from other singers in person, who were generous enough to write out or dictate the words for me, then walk me through the tune. Some, I learned from books (Sandburg's American Songbag, Lomax's Folk Song U. S. A.), John and Sylvia Kolb's Treasury of Folk Songs, and many others).

Sometimes the words of a song would "clank." That is, they would be awkward to sing, or it just happened to be a crummy line. I would carefully try to change it—but without changing the actual meaning of the song—which meant that I had to start learning about the backgrounds of the songs, who sang them, and what any special jargon meant. I learned a lot about the songs that way! Not to mention a lot of history.

In the late 1950s, I took a course, "The Popular Ballad," at the University of Washington, taught by Dr. David C. Fowler (A Literary History of the Popular Ballad, Duke University Press, 1969), and at a party at one of the students' houses after the class ended, we had a "folk sing" for the fun of it. Among other songs, I sang one of the ballads that I had slightly cobbled. Dr. Fowler asked me where I'd got that particular version. He was familiar with it, but a line or two was a bit different. I confessed that I had modified them a bit, and threw myself on his mercy.

He said, "I would object if a collector changed the words that a source singer had sung. That's bad scholarship (although some actually did that—"cleaned them up" a bit). But if a singer—a minstrel—makes changes, that, too, is part of the tradition, the folk process. Making changes like that are what I would call 'a minstrel's prerogative.'" He also complimented me on the change, saying that I had made the lines more singable by altering the words, but without changing the meaning.

Often when I learn a song, I gather together as many versions as I can from as many sources as I have, then decide how I'm going to do the song, frequently "mixing and matching," while at the same time carefully avoiding altering the meaning.

Although some ultra-purists might cavil at this approach, saying the songs should be sung exactly as on the field recording or as the collector wrote it down, I felt completely vindicated when I read the Introduction to The Peggy Seeger Song Book, in which she said that she does the same thing.

Don Firth

P. S. I can't see any essential difference between learning a song from a record and learning a song from YouTube. Both are just modern, technological links in the folk process.


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 10:36 PM

I began the inlay note to my record on Brewhouse, Butter&Cheese&All BH8904, with the words: "All these songs are traditional; but I suspect that every one will have been more or less consciously modified from original sources in the course of making them my own."

Surely we all do that?


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: Mysha
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 11:23 PM

Hi,

Sure. The reason why you always see me going after original versions, as far as the virtual tradition will now help me get there, is not that those versions are the law, but because the meaning tends to be clearest there. But once I feel I know what all the bits of the song originally were about, I tend to insert bits from the versions I met along the way, where I feel those improve the song.

Of course, ours is a different shaping of the songs than that of the regional tradition. We're less likely to build on the single version known where we live, and we can check lyrics that in unrecorded music would mondegreen. But we still keep changing the songs, perfecting them. And as such, together we're the 20th or 21st century unknown composer that the 24th century would attribute those songs to, as they are too good to have been written by just one of us ordinary folk.

Bye
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 22 Dec 09 - 03:13 AM

Where do I get a copy of Butter&Cheese&All, MtheGM?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o3FRvTDWqnM


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Dec 09 - 04:04 AM

SO'P - have sent you a PM.   

          M


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 22 Dec 09 - 04:21 AM

Whether or not it's a "Virtual Oral Tradition" or not, CS, is a very hard question. I suppose if you really wanted to know you'd have to find out if others are using it the way you do and then consider the fact that the medium is not very old ... although a lot of the material it's carrying is old and some of it has already been re-interpreted by post-war revivalists - etc., etc.

On the other hand I don't suppose that it matters all that much. What probably matters the most is that you are using the medium in a creative way for creative purposes ... and why not?


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 Dec 09 - 04:38 AM

Oddly enough, because of the plethora of performed and printed versions of songs and tunes on the net generally - YouTube and all the rest - I've taken to going back to original sheet music where I can. Obviously this applies more to written compositions than traditional music - though it's good to see early printed versions of such material as well, where possible.

It's interesting to see how certain sets of tabs or chords or words, whether right or wrong (according to taste), have taken on a late "provenance" by particular performers and have become the accepted version by many people. I encountered a young chap on YouTube who commented that my instructional video on how to perform "Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out" was - completely wrong, Eric Clapton would never use barred chords - having obviously no idea that someone called Bessie Smith had sung it around 70 years ago!


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Dec 09 - 06:22 PM

I suppose there may be some risk of learning a version of a song from YouTube et al that was so poorly put together that one would then have to unlearn it. I do favor transcribing songs from printed text from editors I respect or from the singing of professional singers whom I respect, and then figuring out what I want to do with it. One can do the same by going to the websites of singers, some of whom provide lyrics and MP3 samples of how the song is sung.

It's also nice, if you can afford it, to buy CDs and financially support the musicians you love and respect. And if you buy direct from the musician, they get a much bigger share of the profit.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 23 Dec 09 - 12:43 PM

"I suppose there may be some risk of learning a version of a song from YouTube et al that was so poorly put together that one would then have to unlearn it."

Mmm, perhaps.. I think my own ability to sift wheat from chaff aesthetically would suffice in determining quality of source there. At least as a singer, I'd hope I'd have sufficient ability to *hear* otherwise what's the point in me trying to sing at all.

"It's also nice, if you can afford it, to buy CDs and financially support the musicians you love and respect."

No doubt, and of course this site has many professional folk musicians on board, and yet my post was effectively (I'm afraid) implying a possible return (for those interested in the phenomena) to an ethos of folk music simply made 'by the people for the people'.

Take for example these three folk YouTube channels:

Dike Miles
Raymond Crooke
Hulton Clint

And I could list others in similar vein too.


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 23 Dec 09 - 12:49 PM

I misspelled "Dick Miles" there. And it's also worth noting perhaps that (as no-doubt everyone here already knows) he's also a professional folk musician. The other two channels (as far as I'm aware) are made by amateurs - as I believe most YouTube channels are.


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 29 Dec 09 - 01:50 PM

err 'fresh


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 29 Dec 09 - 04:37 PM

It's interesting that some have expressed a preference for learning from print (or modern equivalent) rather than recordings. I have many books of songs but have very seldom learnt a song from print -- and even then it has generally been one that I have previously heard sung. Much of my repertoire comes from recordings made at folk clubs, and most of the rest from radio and TV broadcasts and commercial recordings.

I can read printed words and (less fluently) printed music, but a song in that form lacks life for me.

However, back to the original topic: I see no essential difference between a recording made available on LP, tape or CD and one made available through the Web. In every case one makes one's own judgement about both the song and the way it is performed.

Richard


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: GUEST, Poxicat
Date: 29 Dec 09 - 06:34 PM

Crow Sister, all is relative. One of THE BEST (IMHO) on Youboob is

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAxDaHe3V0U

I can't be arsed to make a clicky. Too much American stuff, but that Patrick Spens is very very good.

Since I am hiding on a poxy server I will say that I have seen and been horrified by some of Raymond Crookes' stuff before, and Hulton Clint held my attention for all of 3 seconds before I could stand it no longer. I know of at least one amateur version of "Ramble Away" that stands comparison with the (differently titled) version from the (professional) Dick Miles Channel. Most of the alleged folk in Youboob is not folk, and mostly what is there is dire. There used to be a horrifying expose of the horrifying Clinton Hammond singing a shanty out of time and out of tune on Youboob somewhere too. You are better than that. You don't need them: they need you.

Will Fly's stuff is pretty OK.

On Myspace, Eden Hill are not bad.


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: goatfell
Date: 13 Jul 12 - 10:08 AM

I think it is all right


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: John P
Date: 14 Jul 12 - 12:15 AM

Whether or not learning from the web actually is an oral tradition, it is performing the same function for traditional folk music as the oral tradition did, as far as disseminating music and facilitating the creation of different versions of songs.


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Jul 12 - 03:07 AM

Might not be out of place to repro here a post of mine from about the same time as this thread started, which seems to me to have some bearing on the way this thread has gone in John P's last post
~M~


Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MtheGM - PM
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 05:46 AM

BTW — we recently had a long thread on what was the Folk Process, or whether it even existed. Well, isn't this an example of the way it can work?

Consider - I learned a children's song in 1956 from a friend who remembered it from his early E London days. Two years later it took the fancy of Sandy Paton who became a friend while he was visiting London. Exactly 40 years later he posted it, most courteously attributed to me, as part of a thread about its tune. This thread got refreshed 10 years later, & the words caught the eye of Joy in Australia, who started this thread about it, ref-ing Sandy's 11-yr-old post. I saw this & revealed myself as Sandy's acknowledged source, & named my source;, which brought a response from Hootenanny, who comes from the same part of London, with a recognisable variant of the same song.

I mean, the Folk Process might not work quite as it did when Kidson & Gavin Greig, Sharp & the Hammonds, Moeran & RVW, were all at work. But doesn't this show that modern means of communication, like The Web e.g., have their part to play also?


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Subject: RE: The Virtual Oral Tadition
From: Tootler
Date: 14 Jul 12 - 05:15 AM

A little while ago, a newish member of the Welly Folk club was asked about his source for the particular version of the song he had just sung.

His response (with a smile): "I collected it from You Tube"


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