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Do We Think We're Better Than Them?

Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 12 Feb 10 - 03:17 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 12 Feb 10 - 03:20 PM
Bill D 12 Feb 10 - 03:28 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 12 Feb 10 - 03:40 PM
mg 12 Feb 10 - 03:43 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 12 Feb 10 - 03:50 PM
olddude 12 Feb 10 - 04:00 PM
Amos 12 Feb 10 - 05:01 PM
Joe_F 12 Feb 10 - 05:19 PM
Acorn4 12 Feb 10 - 05:19 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Feb 10 - 05:31 PM
The Vulgar Boatman 12 Feb 10 - 05:35 PM
Lizzie Cornish 1 12 Feb 10 - 05:36 PM
Lizzie Cornish 1 12 Feb 10 - 05:38 PM
GUEST,999 12 Feb 10 - 05:43 PM
Uncle_DaveO 12 Feb 10 - 05:43 PM
Lizzie Cornish 1 12 Feb 10 - 05:46 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Feb 10 - 06:06 PM
Will Fly 12 Feb 10 - 06:17 PM
Emma B 12 Feb 10 - 06:20 PM
The Sandman 12 Feb 10 - 06:21 PM
GUEST,999 12 Feb 10 - 06:22 PM
melodeonboy 12 Feb 10 - 06:27 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Feb 10 - 06:29 PM
GUEST,999 12 Feb 10 - 06:35 PM
Bert 12 Feb 10 - 06:36 PM
Will Fly 12 Feb 10 - 06:38 PM
Bert 12 Feb 10 - 06:42 PM
Emma B 12 Feb 10 - 06:48 PM
Richard Bridge 12 Feb 10 - 07:08 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 12 Feb 10 - 07:08 PM
Tootler 12 Feb 10 - 07:13 PM
Emma B 12 Feb 10 - 07:16 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 12 Feb 10 - 07:20 PM
michaelr 12 Feb 10 - 07:30 PM
michaelr 12 Feb 10 - 07:33 PM
Paul Reade 12 Feb 10 - 07:42 PM
mousethief 12 Feb 10 - 07:51 PM
McGrath of Harlow 12 Feb 10 - 08:38 PM
evansakes 12 Feb 10 - 08:48 PM
mousethief 12 Feb 10 - 08:54 PM
artbrooks 12 Feb 10 - 09:06 PM
Leadfingers 12 Feb 10 - 09:33 PM
Janie 12 Feb 10 - 09:42 PM
Janie 12 Feb 10 - 09:45 PM
Janie 13 Feb 10 - 12:02 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Feb 10 - 03:27 AM
Mavis Enderby 13 Feb 10 - 03:32 AM
Jack Blandiver 13 Feb 10 - 04:07 AM
Will Fly 13 Feb 10 - 04:17 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Feb 10 - 05:55 AM
Tim Leaning 13 Feb 10 - 06:17 AM
Tim Leaning 13 Feb 10 - 06:33 AM
Jack Blandiver 13 Feb 10 - 06:35 AM
Tim Leaning 13 Feb 10 - 06:43 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Feb 10 - 06:46 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Feb 10 - 06:50 AM
Howard Jones 13 Feb 10 - 07:13 AM
Marje 13 Feb 10 - 07:26 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 13 Feb 10 - 07:36 AM
Dave the Gnome 13 Feb 10 - 07:52 AM
Will Fly 13 Feb 10 - 07:55 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 13 Feb 10 - 08:05 AM
Dave the Gnome 13 Feb 10 - 08:07 AM
Tim Leaning 13 Feb 10 - 08:08 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Feb 10 - 08:13 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 13 Feb 10 - 08:17 AM
Dave the Gnome 13 Feb 10 - 08:30 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Feb 10 - 09:26 AM
Will Fly 13 Feb 10 - 10:34 AM
michaelr 13 Feb 10 - 11:15 AM
MikeL2 13 Feb 10 - 11:25 AM
VirginiaTam 13 Feb 10 - 11:29 AM
VirginiaTam 13 Feb 10 - 11:30 AM
MikeL2 13 Feb 10 - 11:42 AM
Will Fly 13 Feb 10 - 11:45 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 13 Feb 10 - 11:48 AM
Tim Leaning 13 Feb 10 - 11:51 AM
Tim Leaning 13 Feb 10 - 11:55 AM
michaelr 13 Feb 10 - 12:11 PM
Mavis Enderby 13 Feb 10 - 12:17 PM
VirginiaTam 13 Feb 10 - 12:30 PM
michaelr 13 Feb 10 - 12:36 PM
M.Ted 13 Feb 10 - 04:29 PM
M.Ted 13 Feb 10 - 04:30 PM
WalkaboutsVerse 13 Feb 10 - 05:12 PM
Joe_F 13 Feb 10 - 05:28 PM
Jack Blandiver 14 Feb 10 - 04:47 AM
Will Fly 14 Feb 10 - 04:53 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 14 Feb 10 - 05:06 AM
Marje 14 Feb 10 - 05:23 AM
Will Fly 14 Feb 10 - 05:53 AM
Richard Bridge 14 Feb 10 - 06:00 AM
Jack Campin 14 Feb 10 - 06:10 AM
MikeL2 14 Feb 10 - 06:12 AM
Dave the Gnome 14 Feb 10 - 06:20 AM
Dave the Gnome 14 Feb 10 - 06:21 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Feb 10 - 06:45 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Feb 10 - 06:48 AM
VirginiaTam 14 Feb 10 - 07:08 AM
glueman 14 Feb 10 - 07:24 AM
Marje 14 Feb 10 - 08:02 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Feb 10 - 08:07 AM
melodeonboy 14 Feb 10 - 08:18 AM
Howard Jones 14 Feb 10 - 08:19 AM
VirginiaTam 14 Feb 10 - 08:20 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Feb 10 - 08:39 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 14 Feb 10 - 09:40 AM
Marje 14 Feb 10 - 11:16 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 14 Feb 10 - 11:42 AM
Tim Leaning 14 Feb 10 - 12:34 PM
The Sandman 14 Feb 10 - 12:36 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 14 Feb 10 - 12:54 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 14 Feb 10 - 12:57 PM
Jack Blandiver 14 Feb 10 - 01:06 PM
The Sandman 14 Feb 10 - 01:17 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 14 Feb 10 - 01:20 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 14 Feb 10 - 01:24 PM
Lizzie Cornish 1 14 Feb 10 - 01:26 PM
The Sandman 14 Feb 10 - 01:27 PM
Lizzie Cornish 1 14 Feb 10 - 01:43 PM
GUEST 14 Feb 10 - 01:49 PM
MikeL2 14 Feb 10 - 02:09 PM
MikeL2 14 Feb 10 - 02:13 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Feb 10 - 02:38 PM
Richard Bridge 14 Feb 10 - 02:55 PM
Richard Bridge 14 Feb 10 - 02:59 PM
Dave the Gnome 14 Feb 10 - 03:04 PM
michaelr 14 Feb 10 - 07:35 PM
Howard Jones 15 Feb 10 - 03:48 AM
Marje 15 Feb 10 - 08:59 AM
michaelr 15 Feb 10 - 01:27 PM
GUEST,mg 15 Feb 10 - 01:43 PM
Richard Bridge 15 Feb 10 - 01:50 PM
Goose Gander 15 Feb 10 - 01:53 PM
Goose Gander 15 Feb 10 - 02:33 PM
GUEST,mg 15 Feb 10 - 03:34 PM
Goose Gander 15 Feb 10 - 03:54 PM
Lizzie Cornish 1 15 Feb 10 - 04:25 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Feb 10 - 07:11 PM
Jack Campin 15 Feb 10 - 07:28 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Feb 10 - 03:40 AM
Marje 16 Feb 10 - 04:23 AM
Will Fly 16 Feb 10 - 04:28 AM
GUEST,S O'P (Astray) 16 Feb 10 - 04:59 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 16 Feb 10 - 05:30 AM
Howard Jones 16 Feb 10 - 06:27 AM
Richard Bridge 16 Feb 10 - 06:51 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 16 Feb 10 - 06:53 AM
GUEST,S O'P (Astray) 16 Feb 10 - 11:20 AM
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Subject: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 03:17 PM

Lot's of squabbles on Mudcat between the umm Traddies and the Folkies. Not exactly the Bloods and the Crips I know but where online fisticuffs occur they can rage for a long time. Old wounds fail to heal. Old rivalries (naming no names) persist for years!

What we repeatedly see is someone say's something - perhaps not positive - about 'standards' or 'song sheets' or 'singer/songwriters' or a current popular folk artist (etc. etc.) and it triggers angry reactions, sometimes including comments like Folk Police! Folk Nazi! Folk Snob!

Is it because Traddies (myself included*) are a bit snobbish and arrogant? Do they think they're 'better' than they're non-Traddie compatriots? Or are such reactions unfounded?

Umm, discuss.. I think ;-)






* This appears to be the current buzz-term on MC atm.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 03:20 PM

Heh! Reminded myself that I'm not a *proper* Traddy after all - check out the terrible apostrophies!


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Bill D
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 03:28 PM

Not 'better'...just different. And it is a difference that should be observed. I am just opposed to pretending that "it's all the same".

Words need to mean something....


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 03:40 PM

Yes. My own feeling is than non-traddies can often appear rather antagonised by traddies aserting that there actually is any difference. My assumption is that such antagonism is born from the (perhaps false) presumption that being 'diiferent', means being 'better'.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: mg
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 03:43 PM

I keep trying to avoid that dichotomy...the key is to find others who share your enthusiasm for long ballads, or rugby songs, or spiritual chanting or singing yellow submarine and not try to impose your tastes and preferences on groups that meet to do a different sort of music. mg


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 03:50 PM

"Not 'better'...just different."

Different? I'm reminded of a scene from a film a fellow Traddy poster flagged up for me when I'd eventually passed my Traddy initiatory rite and been accepted into the ranks of the 'different': One of us


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: olddude
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 04:00 PM

I applaud it, who the heck wants to listen to the same exact music (either side) and nothing else. Music is for everyone to enjoy and the taste in music is a different as snowflakes ... I don't like Rap ... but many people do ... I listen to what I like to listen to ... others have the same right and should be encouraged to do so and perform what they want to perform ... that which is pleasing to them and others who like the same genre whatever that genre is


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Amos
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 05:01 PM

I second Dan's view; there is awide beautiful spectrum of sung music from tribal chants to lieder songs and opera, and everything between. No-one is required to like anything they don't naturally like; but at the same time, recognizing that all adjudications of beauty are only opinions, tolerating those of others is really a good thing to do.


A


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Joe_F
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 05:19 PM

My apologies if I have already copied this into some other thread, but here is something I wrote to a friend on the subject in 2004:

1. Trad vs singer-songwriter

I gather that this is an important divide & that I am on the extreme
trad side of it. However, I don't see the point of it, and in
particular the names don't make sense to me. Evidently, writing songs
& singing them does not suffice to make one a singer-songwriter;
otherwise, my singing songs by Pete Seeger, Lou & Peter Berryman, Ewan
MacColl, Bob Blue, Tom Lehrer, Malvina Reynolds, Cyril Tawney, Leslie
Fish, Stan Rogers, Flanders & Swann, etc. would put me squarely in the
enemy camp.

Perhaps the real animus is like that in a conversation I was once told
about:

"Put the teapot on the stove & heat it hot as hell. Then put the
tea in. That way, the water will continue to boil violently when
it hits the tea."

"Doesn't that sometimes break the teapot?"

"There are those who like teapots, and those who like tea."

Likewise, there are those who like singers & those who like songs,
regardless of origin. For the other side, human beings are at the
center of the stage, everything else is a prop, and songs in
particular are vehicles for singers, songwriters, and
singer-songwriters to express their yearnings for love or money. For
me, the songs are at the center; they are, among other things, a way
of seeing people in perspective; and when it comes to gossiping
sentimentally about the people connected with the songs (something I
am all in favor of -- look me up on the Mudcat Forum), I am most
interested in the ones mentioned in the songs, secondarily in the ones
who made them up, and only cursorily in the ones who perform them, who
are only one way to get the songs propagated -- containers &
dispensers.

In itself, that need not be a cause of conflict -- it might merely add
to the variety of songs & talk. But in the present cultural context
it is something of a party question, mixed up in the wars between
nerds & jocks, among word people, people people, & thing people,
between amateurs & professionals, etc. That may be why you folks are
treading so carefully.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Acorn4
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 05:19 PM

Anything except modern jazz!


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 05:31 PM

Different not better or worse.
Main differences - a traddie can define his music - a non-traddie can't - prove me wrong
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: The Vulgar Boatman
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 05:35 PM

Dan and Amos - thank you.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 05:36 PM

A non-traddie's music has *exactly* the same roots as those of the first ever singer songwriter, who hummed his tune whilst out in the fields, then started putting words to it...

And he wrote and he wrote and he sang and he hummed...and the time it did pass, until one day he woke not just to hear the lark in the morning, but to get up to his computer and see the lark on Mudcat as his fellow travellers in time discussed whether 'they' were better than he.....

And he smiled, his knowing smile......


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 05:38 PM

..and then, he packed up his acoustic guitar, and his electric one too..and went out to have a lark with his mates.....playing jazz, soul, blues, folk and hip hop..


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 05:43 PM

"Do We Think We're Better Than Them?"

Absolutely. I think songwriters are the jewel in the tiara, the bean in the coffee, the cheeze in the whiz. I also thing that those who keep the music alive are the pud in the ding, the shoe lace in the shoe, the punch in the bowl. I also also think that the luthiers who produce the instruments people play are the corn on the cob, the feathers in the pillow, the gas in the car. I also also also think that the bitchin' and complainin' belongs in the garbage, because were it not for the aforementioned people and the singers/performers/recording artists of whatever musical persuasion then music itself would die a horrible death, and with it a great spirit in this world. There are some types of music I don't like as much as others, but there is no music I hate.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 05:43 PM

I'm reminded of something Burl Ives said:

"People call me a folk singer. I'm not. I sing songs I like. It just happens that most of the songs I like are folk songs."

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 05:46 PM

Yeah! What 999 said! :0)


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:06 PM

Er not quite Lizzie:
You forgot the bit about the traddie not putting his name on his song, so it took on a life of its own, became remade again and again and again, and travelled all over the town, the district, the country, the wide world, until nobody knew who owned it, so everybody did, Then thousands of people began to sing it, until it split into two - four -eight - sometimes a hundred pieces. And long after the original maker died, the song continued to be sung, for years, decades, centuries and still continued to give pleasure to those who found it
Meanwhile the non-traddie carved his name on his song, buried it deep in his garden under a tree, and announced to the world that it was HIS SONG, so it never changed. Then he went back to his castle and counted all the sovereigns he had ammassed from all HIS OTHER SONGS which he had buried under all the other trees in his garden, which also never changed and never became anybody elses until they saved all their sovereigns and bought them. And then they went and buried them under trees in their garden................
And they all lived happily ever after.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:17 PM

Main differences - a traddie can define his music - a non-traddie can't - prove me wrong

Mmm... I think that if I were to say that I love and play the music of Jimmie Rogers, the Carter Family, the Delmore Brothers et al, a definition of this music would be "Early American Country Music" - a mixture of some traditional music and many composed songs. I can't see a problem with that. I know where I am and exactly what I'm doing. I could advertise a club that supported this music and the prospective attendees would know - as you put it - exactly what was on the tin.

Plenty of other definitions to go at - just depends on how you narrowly or how broadly you outline the definition...


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Emma B
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:20 PM

Just to make a contemporary analogy - in the UK at the moment there is a discussion about changing the 'first past the post' voting system
Now, if I had to vote for just one form of music it may be 'traditional' folk but I'd much rather vote for many of the genres I enjoy in order of preference

The thing about traditional music and song is that it has time for all the 'turkeys' to be forgotten whereas some of the modern singer/songwriter compositions have still to face the test of time - a cruel test indeed and some will be found wanting.

The one thing I think can be said without contradiction is that music will never die - it may be transmuted, it may evolve into forms that are a long way from what pleased my generation or those of my forebears, it may be commercialised until it squeaks in protest and then return to the 'hearth' again but it will survive!

There are many songwriters out there; some are more 'unsung' than others some write so much from the heart that that is where it remains like the 'blossom on the desert air'

If you love a song - really feel a resonance - just get out there and sing it whatever meaningless category you put it in.
I was brought up in a singing tradition where folks just sang and didn't make these argumentative distinctions


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:21 PM

I think I am better than every body else at a few things.
I dont think I am better than lous armstrong at blowing the trumpet,but possibly my own trumpet.
http://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:22 PM

Well, Jim, I hope you never put your name on a trad CD.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:27 PM

I know this territory has been crossed on Mudcat a thousand times before. It's not necessarily a matter of "better", but just being aware of what you want to sing/play/hear. And the semantics of this are really quite important. I've been to folk clubs where I've heard primarily music that I consider folk. I've been to other folk clubs where I've had pretty much a whole evening of 60s and 70s pop songs performed by "man with acoustic guitar". I enjoy the former and don't particularly enjoy the latter. Nor have I particularly enjoyed most of the singer-songwriters (again, usually "man with guitar") I've seen (with the exception of gems like Tony Carling).

It's the ambiguity of what a "folk club" is these days that is the issue. It's easy to say that we should have a completely laissez-faire attitude and let people play what they want (which actually works in the folk clubs that I attend regularly, but is not necessarily a model), but people do go to events with expectations. I'm sure that almost anyone going to a folk club who was provided with an evening of electronica, e.g., would feel disappointed. It's not about value judgements; it's about expectations, and ultimately, people just listening to what they want to listen to.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:29 PM

"Well, Jim, I hope you never put your name on a trad CD."
Not as an author I wouldn't
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:35 PM

Of course not, Jim. But since it's trad music, why put your name there at all? It's just part of the trad process.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Bert
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:36 PM

- a traddie can define his music -

Yup, it is a vignette of songs sung by old folks when the Cecil Sharp was on the rampage.

If the collectors had been around several decades later then traditional music would consist of early and mid twentieth century songs.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:38 PM

But since it's trad music, why put your name there at all? It's just part of the trad process.

Quite simple - Jim could be the producer or the compiler/selector of the songs on the CD. These things don't produce themselves.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Bert
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:42 PM

Just think, if the collectors had come along later thenthis would be folk music


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Emma B
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 06:48 PM

Bert, I have a friend, a wonderful and popular singer of folk music, that, in the best tradition of 'folk singing', is just as likely to sing 'She wears Red Feathers and a Hula Hula Skirt' in a singaround as anything 'collected' by the likes of C# :)


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 07:08 PM

Those of us who know what "folk music" means think we are better philologists than those who do not.

"Folk" is a matter of derivation. It is not a matter of quality or style.

Once upon a time, it was a matter of proving that one had respect for the paying of dues to sing a folk song in a folk club before going on to sing non-folk-songs. In that respect, folk-song-singers have roots that the performers of contemporary acoustic music have not.

Incidentally the remark attributed to Burl Ives above would have made him not a folk-singer but a folk-song-singer.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 07:08 PM

Modern jazz is so old that it's almost traditional now. :-)

And I love it.

Maybe it should be called Jazz formerly known as Modern?


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Tootler
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 07:13 PM

I sing traditional songs mainly but not exclusively because that's what I like to sing.

What I think is really important, though is taking part. Making music not "consuming it"

As someone said on another thread:

There's also a strong force that tells people not to make their own music. "Shut up and buy recordings from the APPROVED performers!" - that's the modern way of life.

That's the attitude we need to fight against.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Emma B
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 07:16 PM

"If you love a song - really feel a resonance - just get out there and sing it whatever meaningless category you put it in."

Amen! Tootler


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 07:20 PM

Categories are made to divide. That is their function.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: michaelr
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 07:30 PM

I play and sing Irish, English and Scots traditional songs and tunes with my band. I arrange them in non-traditional ways which reflect the musics I grew up with, and those I've been exposed to since. I do this to please first myself, second the audience.

I think it can be said that both I and the audience are infinitely more entertained by our contemporary arrangements than we would be if I stood there in an Aran sweater with a finger in my ear.

There are those (quite a few around this forum) who will claim that they're better than me, or that I'm doing it wrong, or that I commit sacrilege. I do not care.

It's too arbitrary. Should Irish trad tunes be played the way they were in Michael Coleman's day? In 1850? In 1790? The whole concept is ridiculous, and contrary to folk music as a continually evolving form.

I wish I knew whose quote this is:
"Folk music is not a pickle. It doesn't need to be preserved."

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: michaelr
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 07:33 PM

Forgot to say that I also sing contemporary songwriter material, from Richard Thompson to John Hiatt to Garcia/Hunter to Bobby Charles to Robbie Robertson to my own etc etc etc...


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Paul Reade
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 07:42 PM

A couple of years ago I went to see BBC Philharmonic Orchestra performing Haydn's "Creation", and during the interval, I overheard a woman in the audience talking to her friend: "You know, I'm just an old square, but I much prefer this to the more modern stuff". To her, the difference between Haydn and Hindemith was purely a matter of personal preference – if the conversation had been between folkies, it could more likely have been on the lines of "Haydn represents the true face of classical music and twentieth century composers are upstarts who have no place in a concert hall" etc, etc.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: mousethief
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 07:51 PM

Anything except modern jazz!

Especially when they try to play it too darn fast.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 08:38 PM

"Put the teapot on the stove & heat it hot as hell. Then put the
tea in. That way, the water will continue to boil violently when
it hits the tea."


What a terrible way to make tea...


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: evansakes
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 08:48 PM

Re Modern jazz

"Especially when they try to play it too darn fast"

What? and change the beauty of the melody until it sounds just like a symphony?

Myself...I'd say there's good and bad in everything (except Stockhausen)


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: mousethief
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 08:54 PM

I have yet to discover anything worth listening to in Phil Glass. Or John Cage.

O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: artbrooks
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 09:06 PM

Personally, I've never yet heard a definition of "traditional" from the British perspective that made a lot of sense to me. One person says that it is music presented in a certain manner, normally without instrumental accompaniment, which has unknown authorship and has been passed down through the oral tradition. Another person says that all, or almost all, songs regarded as traditional have an identifiable author. Yet another expert avers that songs written before {date} may be considered traditional, even if their author is known, as long as they fit the other required characteristics. Somebody else says that instrumental accompaniment is acceptable, under certain specified circumstances.

I'm just glad that I know what "folk" means, after all this time!


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 09:33 PM

Of COURSE we are better than THEM ! Who ever WE are , and whoever THEY are !


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Janie
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 09:42 PM

Actually Jim, I think there is a lot of evidence that songs the origins and author of which are known also, over time, undergo change and variations - it is not unusual to observe that on song threads here on Mudcat. (The recently revived Belfast/Aragon Mill thread is one example.)

Music scholars and researchers, such as yourself, musicians who perform and who are scrupulous to credit where they got a song, and those who use sheet music to learn a song, or need to research whether or not a song is copyrighted to know if royalties have to be paid - are all people who will know or discover whether a song is "traditional" in the sense that no one knows, anymore, who wrote it.   Most people who sing or play or otherwise enjoy music and song are none of the above.

Mayhap the reason traditional songs do not have a name attached is because the singer/songwriter lived in a place and time where stuff didn't get written down, or if it did, it didn't get archived, much less copyrighted. It may well be that many of them cared that their names were attached, but the technologies of the time did not make that possible, at least not beyond their small community, and perhaps 1 1/2 generations. The basis of the oral tradition, at the loss of specific origin that goes with it, was simply that was the best way, given the readily available technologies of the time, to try to preserve and pass on any knowledge. It seems to me that our human tendency has always been to capture and preserve as much knowledge and information as the technologies available to us permit.

Having written all of that, it occurs to me that I might not understand what you intend by "traddie." Maybe there is a modern tradition in the UK of people who write songs and ballads in the style of traditional songs originating in the UK and/or Ireland, with the intent that they be disseminated orally and without attribution so as to enter "the tradition." In other words, they hope to avoid the song being identified as originating from them.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Janie
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 09:45 PM

Those last two sentences should have been phrased as questions.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Janie
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 12:02 AM

Realizing that was also a good bit of thread drift. Sorry.

Sister Crow, I really don't have "a dog in this fight," (not saying it has turned into a fight-yet.) I do have some observations to share about snobbery and perceived snobbery.

Warning: One of Janie's inordinately long posts follows. Skip it if I tend to make your eyes glaze over.

FWIW, I think that when people are not only passionate, but also purist and pretty expert and accomplished in their interests, (be it music or something else) they may well tend toward a little snobbery.   Notice I said "may." Disdain is inherent in snobbery. But all snobbery is not created equal. Snobbery derived from passion and expertise and aesthetic sense may be applied only to the choices made by oneself, or may be generalized to all others, such that those who do not share the same expertise, passion and/or aesthetic are disdained for their differences and choices. Most of us are hypersensitive to the experience of being disdained. This means many people pick up on disdain that is present, even when it is only implied, and when the disdainer themselves may not be consciously aware of the disdain they feel, and therefore communicate toward those less expert or pure in their interests. Sometimes a person will read disdain into the actions or remarks of another that is not really present. Sometimes a person who does not feel disdain toward those who differ or who do not share the expertise or passion of that person will not recognize how harsh, judgemental, and disdainful they sound.

I think the us vs them issue around "traditional" vs "folk" music is much more of an issue for folks on the other side of the pond than here in North America. There also may be differences in the culture of communication and around confrontation. From this North American's perspective, we on this side of the pond tend to not have rancorous discussions about these differences in taste. We tend to see them more as simply differences in taste and not argue about who is "right", or to discourse as rancorously as do you on the other side of the pond. (I am generalizing.) What we North American's experience as acrimony between those of you in the British Isles, you may view as just a rousing discussion. Perhaps you are more comfortable with strong confrontation and you do not experience your arguments as being as personally attacking to one another as it seems to those of us here looking on.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 03:27 AM

"since it's trad music, why put your name there at all? It's just part of the trad process."
Sorry - am not understanding this; who exactly is 'putting their name on' anything, certainly not me or mine?
Those I know involved in traditional music acknowledge it to be largely anonymous and usually indicate that fact. It is the singer-songwriter who claim (quite rightly) authorship; but then go on to attach the description 'folk' to their songs.
"Yup, it is a vignette of songs sung by old folks when the Cecil Sharp was on the rampage."
Nope - it's been around and fully accepted since the early 19th century when it was used to describe the lore and tales of specific communities. It was well-established and widely in use by the time Sharp 'was on the rampage', and is inseparable from the lore, tales, customs, belief etc of the communities that created them. And no Bert, what you put up wouldn't have become folk - they had known authors (owners), the folk had no part in either their making nor transmission.
"Folk" is a matter of derivation. It is not a matter of quality or style."
Spot on Richard - I would only add that nor is a matter of personal preference (not any more anyway).
Earlier on Will proffered as a definition "I think that if I were to say that I love and play the music of Jimmie Rogers, the Carter Family, the Delmore Brothers....".
Presumably if a neigbouring folkie substituted Elvis, The Osmond Family and The Everly Brothers, that would then be his/her definition of 'folk'?
Here we leave the real world and go through the looking glass where "Words mean what I want them to mean".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 03:32 AM

"Perhaps you are more comfortable with strong confrontation and you do not experience your arguments as being as personally attacking to one another as it seems to those of us here looking on"

I think this is a point well made. In the heat of the debate/argument/mudsling the people involved forget there are many others looking on, shaking their head in despair, and moving away.

Pete (who neither a "Traddie" or a "Folkie" be!)


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 04:07 AM

...the lore and tales of specific communities. It was well-established and widely in use by the time Sharp 'was on the rampage', and is inseparable from the lore, tales, customs, belief etc of the communities that created them.

And in this way, boys and girls, is ALL music Folk Music, and ALL music is Traditional Music because ALL music is defined by the Traditions of Specific Communities and remains inseparable from their lore, tales, customs, beliefs etc. Traddies (& Folkies) miss the point by focussing on songs rather than idioms; the point being that all music - any place, any time, any genre - is subject to the same processes that Traddies (& Folkies) call The Folk Process. All music is the collective consequence of human creativity & community; it's what people do, what people have always done. Plus ca change! Otherwise, I'm with Lizzy n this one.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Will Fly
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 04:17 AM

Earlier on Will proffered as a definition "I think that if I were to say that I love and play the music of Jimmie Rogers, the Carter Family, the Delmore Brothers....".

Sorry, Jim - but you're misquoting me by not completing my sentence. What I actually said was:

"I think that if I were to say that I love and play the music of Jimmie Rogers, the Carter Family, the Delmore Brothers et al, a definition of this music would be "Early American Country Music" - a mixture of some traditional music and many composed songs."

I never said it would be folk. I was merely pointing out that your statement about only traddies being able to define their music was not completely correct. You can define a genre of music as narrowly or as broadly as you like - that's the problem with drawing chalk lines around music.

If you recall, in another thread, I invited you to give me your take on the boundaries of the "folk idiom" as you had very clearly described it - and you admitted that it was not a simple question to answer. I'm not interested in trying to define folk music, but I was making the point that it's the boundaries of songs composed in the "folk idiom" - that grey area - which is the nub of Mudcat argument. And I'm genuinely interested in your opinion as to where you would make the chalk mark. Some would perhaps draw it more narrowly than you - other more widely. I'm not interested in making an official chalk mark - just curious about your take on it because I respect your opinion and experience.

I've made the contrast between tunes in the folk idiom and songs in the folk idiom on more than one occasion. There's far less controversy over modern composed tunes in the style. I've been playing a whole slew of tunes on my fiddle which include "The Rakes of Kildare" (trad), "The Spoot O' Skerry" (modern Shetland reel), "Da Ferry Reel" (modern Shetland reel) "The Sweetness Of Mary" (modern Cape Breton strathspey), "Donald Cameron's Polka" (Old-time but probably Scottish), etc. No problems at a session with this mixture and others like it.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 05:55 AM

Will, sorry if I misquoted you - it wasn't deliberate. I really don't think there is too wide a gap in our opinions; I usually find myself agreeing more with your postings than disagreeing with them. I was using your statement to cover some of the others made here.
I partly tried to answer your question on the other thread, but found it, like Topsy - just growed. I will attempt to do so anon, but, as you say, I believe it to be a complcated one to tackle.
I'm not happy at drawing 'chalk lines' around the folk idiom; it tends to be in the ear of the listener. I would be happy to see any musical form communicating facts, ideas, emotions, etc., the way I believe folk forms do so well - I really haven't come across another form which does so as effectively and sensitively as folk song does.
I'm extremely grateful for Suibhne O'Piobaireachd's timely provision of a perfect example of the nonsensical lengths the 'what is folk' argument can be stretched to - I owe you a drink!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 06:17 AM

For what its worth I feel this way about the title at the top of the thread.
Firstly I notice it is exclusive of all who are not "traddies".
"Do We Think We're Better Than Them?"
Secondly, I think its a wonderful thing to have a museum full of interesting and at times breathtaking fragments of the past to visit,enjoy and try to learn from.
What is annoying is the museum was built stocked and funded by all of us,but has became the dwelling of some strange people who are self appointed gate keepers and follow you around telling what to think or in what way your thinking or of enjoying the museum is wrong.
Its as if the last real people have left the building to do things in the world and only the nay sayers are left behind.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 06:33 AM

"I'm not happy at drawing 'chalk lines' around the folk idiom; it tends to be in the ear of the listener. I would be happy to see any musical form communicating facts, ideas, emotions, etc., the way I believe folk forms do so well - I really haven't come across another form which does so as effectively and sensitively as folk song does."
That is a fair and understandable statement(part of).
Folk music is a wonderful thing to hear.
I love listening to it .
I think that all the hundreds of people who gather in pubs to sing the old songs are fab and I will be happy sitting and listening.
The trouble starts when I am asked to contribute because I can no more do that than I can fly or play the blues like will.
I can however play a song or two that I wrote and that some people may find to be ok in that context.
But I don't if not asked and had chance to explain that.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 06:35 AM

I'm extremely grateful for Suibhne O'Piobaireachd's timely provision of a perfect example of the nonsensical lengths the 'what is folk' argument can be stretched to - I owe you a drink!

Not so much a matter of What is Folk? as Folk? what Folk? It's all a matter of faith after all, and having just recorded a modal trip-hop version of Butter & Cheese & All self-accompanied (in real time) on my new Kaossilator I might bear witness to the evident continuances in Popular Music these past 2,000 years or so no matter how cheesy (or buttery) the results.

Slipping into the third person if I may... O'Piobaireachd doesn't believe 1954 Folk Music is any different from any other sort of music, but he does believe in the existence of certain body of material we might, for the sake of convenience, call Traditional Songs. In this sense O'Piobaireachd is a Musical Darwinist who sees Folkies & Traddies as Creationists clinging onto a particular sort of faith. Where the Traddie/Folkie sees the product of The Folk Process, O'Piobaireachd sees the product of an ongoing evolutionary cultural tradition that determines all human music. This common material world is all that matters, but O'Piobaireachd sees no evidence of the Supernatural Agencies others would have us believe are somehow self-evident.

That said, Jim - O'Piobaireachd holds you to that promise of a drink, and promises same if ever paths cross.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 06:43 AM

"You forgot the bit about the traddie not putting his name on his song, so it took on a life of its own, became remade again and again and again, and travelled all over the town, the district, the country, the wide world, until nobody knew who owned it, so everybody did, Then thousands of people began to sing it, until it split into two - four -eight - sometimes a hundred pieces. And long after the original maker died, the song continued to be sung, for years, decades, centuries and still continued to give pleasure to those who found it
Meanwhile the non-traddie carved his name on his song, buried it deep in his garden under a tree, and announced to the world that it was HIS SONG, so it never changed. Then he went back to his castle and counted all the sovereigns he had ammassed from all HIS OTHER SONGS which he had buried under all the other trees in his garden, which also never changed and never became anybody elses until they saved all their sovereigns and bought them. And then they went and buried them under trees in their garden................
And they all lived happily ever after.
Jim Carroll"
So are there any folk music performers who get paid for what they do Jim?
Would you pay people to perform at your club?


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 06:46 AM

Tim,
Don't know where you are, but here in Ireland there are two national archives, both the result of a huge personal effort on the part of dedicated individuals; Seamus Delargey and Nicholas Carolan.
There are regional archives in the process of being set up, also by the efforts of dedicated individuals.
Thanks to the personal efforts of handfuls of such devotees, traditional music has, over the last decade the music has become recognised by the establishment art bodies as an important part of Irish culture and is now being funded by them and feted by the media who dismissed it not so long ago as 'didly-di' and 'nyaaah' music.
This hard slog has meant that youngsters have come to the music in droves, which more-or-less guaranteed that it will survive and give pleasure for at least another two generations.
Don't know where your "museum was built stocked and funded by all of us,but has became the dwelling of some strange people who are self appointed gate keepers telling you what to think" came from - enlighten please.
The same hasn't even got underweigh in the UK, in spite of the dedicated work of gifted and selfless individuals.
The reason - the present folk scene doesn't take itself serious enough for anybody else to. Folkies who run around like headles chickens flapping their arms and squealing "nobody knows the meaning of folk" is hardly going to do the trick, don't you think?
Neither will describing arguing ones corner as "telling us what to think".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 06:50 AM

Sorry Tim, cross posted your last message.
"So are there any folk music performers who get paid for what they do" Yes there are, and we are indebted to the good ones.
"Would you pay people to perform at your club?"
Yes we do and we did, but they were paid for their performance not their compositions.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 07:13 AM

I don't think it's as clear cut as traddies v folkies. What we do have is a lot of different opinions. Some of these are strongly held principles, others are simply taking a position for the sake of argument. Some are based on deep knowledge, others on total ignorance. Mostly they seem to be based around different perceptions of what "folk" is. You can add into the mix American-British cultural differences and misundertandings.

I think it's probably true that we Brits like a good argument, which seems to alarm our transatlantic neighbours. Possibly (although I've not thought this through) there is a greater stylistic divide between our trad and contemporary songs than theirs which makes the trad v folkie question more of an issue for us.

It's also very easy, when writing thoughts down quickly in response to a post, to phrase them badly and to be misunderstood, and perhaps to appear more aggressive or dogmatic than is intended. I suspect that if we were all to be gathered together, debating face to face, we would all be a lot more reasonable and perhaps find more common ground.

I don't find I experience much animosity in the real world. I've never been to a club which tried to enforce an absolute trad-only policy (if I had I rather think I'd try to slip a modern composition past them to see if they noticed). Out there it's simply a matter of personal taste. If I go to a folk club only to find it's not the sort of music I enjoy, I don't go back. I don't feel obliged to listen to, far less like, a particular singer just because they're labelled "folk".


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Marje
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 07:26 AM

To return to Crow Sister's original question: do we think we're better than they are?

There are some who think they are better, but they're not all in the one group. Some traddies think they're better because they can sing without accompaniment and do things in an "authentic way", supported by knowledge of the songs' background and history. Some "man-with-guitar" singers think they're better because they can play clever chords and because they are writing new songs, or possibly because they can produce passable cover versions of commercially recorded material.

But most people in both groups don't actually think THEY (personally) are better, they just prefer one particular style of music. And if you prefer something, for you it's "better". I think Christmas pudding is better than rice pudding (for me), but I respect the tastes of those who prefer rice pudding. And I suspect that those who say, "Oh, it's all pudding, what's the differece?" don't really care much for puddings at all. It's not a crime to have a strong preference, and it needn't imply that you don't respect other musical tastes, even if you prefer to listen to your chosen genre of music.

Where it all gets unpleasant is when name-calling and silly stereotypes come into play. Only yesterday I saw another use here of the deeply unpleasant term "Folk Nazis" used to describe people who prefer (and therefore promote and celebrate) traditional music and song. The traddies, do not (as far as I can see) use such extreme language, but they can sometimes be disdainful and sneering towards self-penned material and pop-inspired "covers". The parallel stereotyping in the other direction usually entails finger-in-the-ear/beard/tankard and even Aran sweaters, although I haven't seen one of those for decades.

So let's see if we can agree on this: we all have a right to prefer and to seek out the particular type of music we like. If we want to promote this music at a particular event or venue, we may need to define the preferred genre and its characteristics, to ensure that everyone understands what's going on and can decide whether it suits them. The organisers may even suggest how the music can best be performed and enjoyed in this setting (e.g. with or without books/instruments/joining in/a PA system/an MC to decide who sings, etc etc).

Setting out some ground rules lke this does not - or should not - mean that we scorn and reject other types of music or the people who enjoy it. And more importantly, it is quite wrong for anyone start offensive name-calling just because they don't like the way a club, session or event is set up. If you don't like it, go and set up your own, with your own rules, but please don't insult or belittle the efforts that others are making to promote the music they enjoy.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 07:36 AM

I think Howard is right, it's a problem I have encountered on internet (folk/trad) forums quite a bit. As soon as you make a strong argument why you think for example traditional music is what it is and you will have to respect the form and uphold a standard you leave yourself open to any amount of personal abuse from (more often than not American although not exclusively) posters who go in for the kill, calling you 'purist', 'snob', 'nazi' 'unable to just have fun' and all that nonsense, and that's just for starters.

Often there's a call for tolerance for differing approaches and for politeness in argument(i.e. theirs, certainly not your own, it's a free for all if it comes to your own when you express thoughts as I named above) in the process bandying out personal digs and insults that go way beyond the reasonable. I do think this goes beyond the argument between trad and other, it seems some (US?) posters can't handle strong opinions put forward with argument and take those as personal attacks which triggers all sort of ugly and seemingly disproportionate responses.   No doubt a cultural difference but certainly a reason for myself to abandon most forums I have contributed to, I can pretty much without the acrimony.
I can handle a good (heated but reasoned) argument though, by all means.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 07:52 AM

I like to think that I have never thought I was better than anyone and conversely I believe that no-one is better than me. Bob Dylan puts it ver succinctly -

I've heard you say many times
That you're better 'n no one
And no one is better 'n you.
If you really believe that,
You know you got
Nothing to win and nothing to lose.


As Dick said earlier, there are some things we better than others and other people do many things far better than I can but that does not make me or them any better.

I have often said of music in particular that none is any better or worse. Just either too my tastes or not and as tastes are extemely subjective there is no point in arguing about them! As to trad and contemporary being from the same roots and therefore the same I find that something of misnomer. Taking that to extremes ALL music is from the same roots and therefore all the same. Which is obviously nonsense or everyone would like all music. Which the obviously don't!

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Will Fly
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 07:55 AM

From my experience, I would say that my American friends - and I have many - are more laid back about the wealth of traditional and not-so-traditional music in their country, and less concerned about the dividing lines between them than we are over here (at least, judging by this forum).

If I listen to Doc Watson singing "I Was Born About 6,000 Years Ago", and then hear him playing "Doc's Guitar", I feel as though it's timeless and borderless music. I don't give a hoot where it came from - it's just great music and great fun. Country music - blues, ragtime - jazz - string bands - jug bands - all American, all part of the accepted melting pot.

Just my luck - now there'll be 100 UK 'Catters jumping on my head... :-)


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 08:05 AM

Just my luck - now there'll be 100 UK 'Catters jumping on my head

Well, I don't think so. I don't think at all this is about dividing lines between musical genres. It's about style of argument and inter-cultural communication issues.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 08:07 AM

Thinking about it, after having gone away made a cup of tea and come back, I reckon the no better or worse view is why I get so annoyed at anyone coming out with the 'if yo don't like this/them/that you have no passion and must be a miserable so and so. Or if you do like such and such you must be a idiot because it is media hyped dross or whatever. Sorry, but my tastes are my tastes and those are difinetely no better or worse than anyone else's.

Off soapbox:-)

DeG


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 08:08 AM

Am in Grimsby in the UK Jim.
I thought of a folk museum because what I read on here leads me to think that traditional music is already written,morphed and changed and processed in a magic folk processor and therefore finished.
There can be no more than already exists.
So it comes over to me as being kept in a museum.
That makes me feel sad and I know there must be more to it than that.
But what do you do to remedy it.
Move the chalk line to include more and more recent music?
Museum of modern folk?
LOL
I dunno I come and read these threads to learn from you guys.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 08:13 AM

Peter's right, there is no reason to suggest that because one believes a music to be different, that the conclusion is reached that it is inferior or superior.
To return to SO'P's point
You claim to have some knowledge about storytelling - are you seriously suggesting that there is no basic difference between 'Great Expectations' or Les Miserables, and 'Prince John and The Grey Man of Wisdom' or 'The Gillie Dacker and His Horse' or ' The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Grainne' or any other epic length oral tale we have recorded and believe to have been made and formed by the oral tradition?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 08:17 AM

Nice post there Marje.

Being fairly newish (compared to most here) to traditional song, I was somewhat amused/perplexed (still am I guess) when I arrived at MC by all the anger that I saw around something I just thought was really interesting!

The divide however certainly exists (at least in my observation) and there is an evident underlying antagonism or antipathy between the approximate camps of 'folkie' and 'traddie'.

What inspired this thread was another one - and particularly my respones to that thread - about singing from books. At *no point* did I ever criticise those individuals who choose to use a prompt - yet such criticism was automatically assumed by some of those who responded to me. 'Hmm' thinks I, 'people here are reacting in automatic fashion to something they imagined was writ, just because I'm clearly not of 'them' but of the 'other'.
Secondly however, on reflection I also noticed my own personal disdain, and online ridicule (albeit posted in playful terms), of people who like to all sing together from the same book.

I suppose in posting this thread, I was hoping other folks might take a look at their predjudices and assumptions and antipathies, and think about from whence they arise, and how all this heated squabbling really comes about. Alternatively, it's just a thread I started out of pure badness.
Possibly a bit of both.. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 08:30 AM

I just did Crow Sister - See my last post! It took tea as well as reading the thread though:-)


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 09:26 AM

Tim,
When Sharp was collecting he claimed to be catching the last of a dying culture.
When the BBC collectors went out in the 50s they were 'sweeping up the last echoes of a dying song/music tradition'.
Tom Munnelly collecting in Ireland from the 60s to the 90s described his work as 'A race with the undertaker'.
Pat and I were recording from singers who had been without an audience for most of their lives and in many cases hadn't sung in public for 30, 40, 50 years.
Walter Pardon, apart from Christmas parties and harvest suppers had never sung in public except for 'Dark Eyed Sailor', which nobody else wanted.
The one exception in our case was the Travelling Communities (Irish and Scots) who still had a living tradition up to the mid - seventies, when they stopped singing, making songs and telling stories thanks to the introduction of portable television into the caravans (we can put an exact date on this within an eighteen month period).
To one degree and another we were all recording a remembered tradition rather than a living one.
I would dearly like to believe that somewhere out there, there are still communities making songs and tales which reflect the experiences, beliefs and values of the people living in them.
Despite arguments to the contrary, society as a whole have become passive recipients of culture - they've even supplied us with hand-controls so we don't have to get up out of our armchairs.
Sure, there are clubs where new songs are made and performed, but these are not communities; rather they are small, isolated groups of individuals.
I live in the hope that one day people will once again take part in the creation of their/our own culture. In the meantime we're stuck with what we've got, so let's recognise that fact and try to build on it rather than pretend it's something it's not.
Personally, it doesn't matter to me if the songs are centuries or months old. I still get as much pleasure out of a seventeenth century ballad as I do from Hamlet, or a Dickens or Hardy novel, or a book by John Steinbeck, or a MacColl, or Tawney, or Matt McGinn, or Con 'Fada' O'Drisceoill or Adam McNaughton song - ageless rather than old, I would say.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Will Fly
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 10:34 AM

There's an interesting phenomenon in one of the village singarounds that I go to on the Sussex/Surrey border, where there's a local family whose roots go back in the village almost to Domesday. The senior member of the family has, for years, written songs about the village, its history, its characters, events both old and new. These songs - all of which are excellent, by the way - are regularly performed by the local people in the monthly singarounds, and sung (unaccompanied) with relish. When I first attended the singaround well over a year ago now, I just assumed they were old local, traditional songs which I hadn't heard before. This was because they kept the style and the feel of traditional material and were relevant to the community in which they were written - I suppose they were in the "folk idiom".


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: michaelr
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 11:15 AM

Peter Laban wrote ..."it seems some (US?) posters can't handle strong opinions put forward with argument..."

To this American poster it just appears like endless, often nasty bickering about something which is in the end quite inconsequential.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: MikeL2
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 11:25 AM

hi

As usual Will talks with a lot of good sense.

He is right that there isn't the rift of differences between the different styles of music in America nor in other countris I have visited.

Maybe this is because they don't have the social class differences that we in The UK have.

Some of the differences I am sure emanate from this.

Much of it I believe is sub-concious.

I don't think that any of the music I play and like is any better than anyone elses. As long as they don't try to make me stop enjoying what I like I don't really care.

In trying to answer the original question asked by Crow Sister, I do believe in my experience that the people who prefer Traditional material hold much more strong views and it certainly comes across that they believe that "their music" is better.

My tastes and what I play cross the (apparent) Traditional/Contemporary divide. So I have no axe to grind either way.
In my experience the tradionalists are certainly less tolerant to other peoples' music.

Cheers

MikeL2

Regards


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 11:29 AM

There are plenty of Americans who can and do discuss on myriad topics, and I bet some of those topics just look like endless bickering to some UK posters.

It boils down to what matters to each individual. If the issues surrounding the definition of "folk" doen't matter to someone, they shouldn't respond in those threads.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 11:30 AM

p.s. I want to live in that village Will described. And I am American.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: MikeL2
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 11:42 AM

hi jim

< " Meanwhile the non-traddie carved his name on his song, buried it deep in his garden under a tree, and announced to the world that it was HIS SONG, so it never changed. Then he went back to his castle and counted all the sovereigns he had ammassed from all HIS OTHER SONGS which he had buried under all the other trees in his garden,>

I think there is a weakness in your argument here.

By your definition doesn't it mean that Rock & Roll is folk music??

Songs like That's Allright Mama for instance which was originally written as a Country song and re-arranged many times by many different singers was picked up by Elvis and recorded and the rest is history.

Why is that different to many of the traditional songs that have changed dramatically in style over the years that they have been sung??

Cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Will Fly
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 11:45 AM

Well, it must be that the guys and girls I know in the US are just very relaxed about the music they make and listen to!


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 11:48 AM

To this American poster it just appears like endless, often nasty bickering about something which is in the end quite inconsequential.

My point was a general one, not focussed on any topic in particular. It was founded on, unpleasant, experiences on a number of forums though.

To be honest I am quite turned off by the way communications over the internet are conducted a lot of the time. Heated argument is fine, as I said before, but address the argument and don't resort to personal nastiness and dismissing different views as held by 'nazis' 'purists' 'snobs' etc. In the end (to use your phrase) going about it that way is more telling about the person who throws around these terms than of the people the abuse is aimed at.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 11:51 AM

"Sure, there are clubs where new songs are made and performed, but these are not communities; rather they are small, isolated groups of individuals."
Thanks Jim the info about the collecting is very interesting and helps me to some degree towards more understanding of that.
The bit in quotes though, it seems that small isolated groups are communities to me.
If they are not perhaps you could tell me what qualifies as a community in the context of your point.
I am not just trying to be awkward but I know from visiting clubs and pubs where others,I am assuming here,who have the same love of the Old songs as you have been gathered to sing and play and I have never been made to feel other than welcome.
Often asked IF I want to give something and even after I have explained that I only have my own songs to sing, more often than not been very courteously asked to have a turn.
You see I get the feeling from some of the posts on these threads that I am to be excluded and that even to listen would besmirch the tradition. whereas the truth out there is one more usually of inclusiveness.
One can also get the impression from some posts that unless one has been to the right uni you have no right to an opinion on the matter.
I am not saying that you personally have given that opinion,but maybe the feelings I get from it go some way to explain why there is such ongoing tension between those on the different sides of the same campfire.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 11:55 AM

"If I listen to Doc Watson singing "I Was Born About 6,000 Years Ago", and then hear him playing "Doc's Guitar", I feel as though it's timeless and borderless music. I don't give a hoot where it came from - it's just great music and great fun. Country music - blues, ragtime - jazz - string bands - jug bands - all American, all part of the accepted melting pot."

Thanks Mr Fly that is how it should be all everywhere.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: michaelr
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 12:11 PM

To be honest I am quite turned off by the way communications over the internet are conducted a lot of the time. Heated argument is fine, as I said before, but address the argument and don't resort to personal nastiness and dismissing different views as held by 'nazis' 'purists' 'snobs' etc. In the end (to use your phrase) going about it that way is more telling about the person who throws around these terms than of the people the abuse is aimed at.

Peter, I agree completely, and this is where quite a few people who post here fall short.

If the issues surrounding the definition of "folk" doen't matter to someone, they shouldn't respond in those threads.

Well, I don't get involved much in those disputes, but from time to time I have a "good lord, give it a rest already" reaction. Honestly, I can only shake my head in disbelief at how worked up some of the UK contingent become over these issues. And sometimes I comment, which is surely my prerogative.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 12:17 PM

"whereas the truth out there is one more usually of inclusiveness"

Quite agree Tim. That's been my experience too.

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 12:30 PM

your prerogative - certainly michaelr.

I am learning the hard way when and where I should say my piece. I am almost always sorry I opened my mouth.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: michaelr
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 12:36 PM

Why would you be? I don't remember reading any unreasoned posts from you, Tam.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: M.Ted
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 04:29 PM


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: M.Ted
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 04:30 PM

It's the unreasoned responses that she has a problem with, Michael. Sometimes it seems impossible to make even the most moderate, reasonable, and non-controversial comments without provoking an extreme response.

As a example, in another, current thread, there is a serious discussion about relearning left hand technique. A member by the name of Y Not felt the need to express contempt for the whole idea by saying , " Just shut up you soft soft F### and PLAY and PLAY and PLAY..."

I've got to say that after more than a decade of earnest contribution to the forum, the urge to answer questions, figure out chords, or explain technology is often tempered by the question, "How much grief do I want to deal with?"


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: WalkaboutsVerse
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 05:12 PM

Cat among the pigeons?...on "Archie Fisher's Travelling Folk, Annie Grace sits in for Archie Fisher with traditional and folk music...", rather than traditional and contemporary folk music..?


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Joe_F
Date: 13 Feb 10 - 05:28 PM

Worse is one kind of different.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 04:47 AM

are you seriously suggesting that there is no basic difference between 'Great Expectations' or Les Miserables, and 'Prince John and The Grey Man of Wisdom' or 'The Gillie Dacker and His Horse' or ' The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Grainne' or any other epic length oral tale we have recorded and believe to have been made and formed by the oral tradition?

The Oral Tradition is the consequence of very wishful folkloric thinking that has so effectively removed individual creativity from the equation and views working-class humanity as a collective mass of instinctive, unthinking, ill-educated primitives. All of this stuff is generated by the same basic means & impulses given that the individual human need for narrative structure operates at a very primal level and that, consequently, narrative will out. Taken to a particular extreme everything becomes folklore - even the writings of a Dickens or a Hugo, once we remove their names that is. After all, there is a just as much of a literary tradition behind The Tain or the stories collected by John Sampson, Asbjorsen & Moe, Thomas Crofton Croker et al (who didn't bother too much with names) as there is behind Dickens and Hugo.

The illusion of an Oral Tradition comes about when there is no paper, nor printing press, only the creative fluidity of the human tongue by which such stories are told & retold, recreated afresh by way of an idiomatic mastery. But the stories of Dickens & Hugo have been re-made too; retold & recreated and will no doubt continue to be as cultural process takes its course. In the end it all comes down to the mastery of individual storytellers; take away their names and what you have is an Oral Tradition - give them back their names and you have an idiom of creative narrative driven by the inner necessities which are common to us all. What shadowy & nameless impulse lurks out there in the Celtic Twilight? What instinctive terror is there that not only generates such tellings, but makes them so immediate to us today?

Once more, I fear, were back to the gulf of class-condescension which has so effectively denied the individual mastery of the working classes, seeing them as passive carriers and random generators of material rather than the specific creators of it. It's an idyllic bourgeois dreaming that has the Folklore, Folk Song, Folk Music as the collective consequence of a people who are incapable of appreciating or understanding its true value, hence the highly academicised nature of such cultural studies today - all a million miles removed from the raw essence that was, and continues to be, its very well-spring.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Will Fly
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 04:53 AM

SO'P - just out of curiosity, when you do your own story-telling sessions, how far around the literature - oral or written - do you range? What kind of material do you select, and what are your own sources? I don't go to any events which generally include story-telling, so I'm genuinely curious as to what sort of tale is told.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 05:06 AM

"Once more, I fear, were back to the gulf of class-condescension which has so effectively denied the individual mastery of the working classes, seeing them as passive carriers and random generators of material rather than the specific creators of it. It's an idyllic bourgeois dreaming that has the Folklore, Folk Song, Folk Music as the collective consequence of a people who are incapable of appreciating or understanding its true value, hence the highly academicised nature of such cultural studies today - all a million miles removed from the raw essence that was, and continues to be, its very well-spring. "


How very true. As I said in another thread, way back...

...from Peasants to Professors.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Marje
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 05:23 AM

Mike (above) comments that traditional folk enthusiasts are less tolerant of other types of music.

One reason for this may be that truly traditional music is sometimes rather fragile - and even under threat - in a way that doesn't apply to other types of music. The guitar-driven "acoustic" type of folk is much more closely related to commercial popular music, and shares some of its attributes -e.g. it lends itself to noisy accompaniment and the use of amplified sound systems; it tends to be much more reliant on chord-sequences and fancy riffs, and there's less emphasis on the importance of the lyrics (or even their audibility). In fact, in some "acoustic" clubs, the audience pay little attention to the performers and use the music as background to their conversation. People approach this music with many of the expectations they'd bring to a pop concert, an approach which is simply not suited to much traditional material.

This can lead to a situation (and I've been there) where a traditional singer offering an unaccompanied song is seen as second-best and somehow incomplete in comparison to the guitar-wielding singer or duo. Traditional song (even when accompanied) often has a spare, naked quality about it that doesn't always fit in with other genres. It demands greater concentration and involvement from the listener, and (for those who are so inclined) can be considerably enhanced by an understanding of the song's social and historical and context.

Now, I know the above contains some sweeping generalisations, but there is an important kernel of truth in there regarding the fragility and vulnerablity of traditional song, which may help to explain why some of its enthusiasts prefer to set up clubs and groups where this type of music is preserved and promoted, in preference to other genres.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Will Fly
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 05:53 AM

Here's a philosophical question? Are traditional-based clubs preserving the performance of traditional music, rather than the music itself? In these days of recorded sound, written records, archives both printed and digital, resources far more readily available than before - with banks of material noted, recorded, indexed, digitised - and more to be available - it's not the preservation of traditional songs that will be lost. More likely the act and art of performing them that might be lost or overwhelmed. What has been lost, to a greater extent, is the fluid nature of the songs as they were passed from generation to generation. The process of "collection", with all the attendant documentation and academic discussion, probably - and ironically - helped to end that. But I wouldn't say that traditional song is either fragile or vulnerable - whereas the continuing performance of it may be.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 06:00 AM

Sweeney O'Pibroch depends on a mysterious combination of two vices for the entirety of his arguments.

First there is a curious inverted snobbery that derides any attempt to understand what any folk art is, where it came from and what makes it (as it is) different.

But this bigotry and hatred of any study of a folk art as distinct from treating it as a form of entertainment like any other is hidden behind a sesquipedalian effulgence that strongly points to a determined attempt to abandon any connection with (and hence to abandon any understanding of) the groupings he pretends to admire and defend.

Once you dig into it, and wrestle the octopus of his verbiage to the ground, it boils down to assertion (indeed irrational assertion) driven by an assumed class hatred cloaked in obfuscation.

It cannot be doubted that there have been oral traditions. It cannot be doubted that many individuals have contributed, some by plan, some by mondegreen, to the shaping of songs and stories, as no doubt many have provided input to the forms now seen in folk plastic arts. There is no ground to assume that no previous performers users or carriers of the tradition understood them. Very likely, as today, and as in the rest of the spectrum, some understood and some did not. Indeed today there (surely) is no assumption that the individuals who remembered (and/or modified) the forms of the oral arts that they had heard did not, on a wholesale basis, understand them.

Sweeney builds an entire edifice (well, a mass of words, since there seems to be no coherent design with any planned outcome) on the insecure foundation of himself assuming that someone, somewhere, has been oppressed by an assumption that that person was stupid.





Having said that I should like to disagree with the apparent assumption that there are no chord sequences in traditional songs. Since rhythm or choice of metre is a voluntary aspect of the telling of any tale or expression of any words, in many cases all it requires ("requires" may be too strong a word - rhythm helps me to envisage the sequences, but others may find it not so) is the assumption of a rhythm for wonderful chord sequences to become implied. Consequently the "naked" form of traditional song becomes a matter of choice. One may do them that way, or one may put forceful chordal accompaniments with them.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 06:10 AM

Having said that I should like to disagree with the apparent assumption that there are no chord sequences in traditional songs

The classic example is "The Laird of Cockpen"/"When she came ben she bobbit", which seems to have been composed from the start in an Italian Baroque style, over a groundbass. But I can't think of a lot more in Scottish tradition before the middle of the 19th century. What examples did you have in mind?


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: MikeL2
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 06:12 AM

Hi Marje

Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Marje - PM
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 05:23 AM

I agree with all you say here. We are now fast approaching a situation where background music is played under background music !!!

I also agree that the ( in the main) tradition ballads are more about lyrics and stories and so the need for attention is greater both for the audience and let's not forget the performer(s).

That said I was only trying to answer Crow Sisters original question briefly - something that is quite unusual here !!!

However in the *folk clubs and events I visit I find that in the main the organisers maintain very good levels of order whether the music is tradition or not.

It is my experience that all performers feed off the audience reaction and require attention to their skills and not to be put off by a noisy element.

Thanks for your constructive comments and I think we are singing from the same hymmsheet.

regards

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 06:20 AM

What does it matter if a particular song style or art form comes under the scrutiny of academia? It has not changed has it? Or are people working on the basis that once something is studied it changes? Just because someone refers to a song as being in a pentatonic scale with upper fifth and lower third harmonies (is there such a thing?) it does to mean that they have taken anything from it. I'm afraid inverted snobbery is just as bad as anyting coming from the fellows of folk music!

DeG


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 06:21 AM

... it does NOT maen...

Preaf rooding, Dave, preaf rooding.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 06:45 AM

when you do your own story-telling sessions, how far around the literature - oral or written - do you range?

I'm actually a bit of a traddy in that respect; whilst I might improvise wildly by way of musical underpinning, my narratives are all classic Indo-European folk tales as this is where my interests lie. Exceptions to this are my wee one man shows at Morpeth Gathering where I've done the miracle stories of Saint Cuthbert (there's a wee YouTube clip of this here filmed by an audience member; there is an official CD-R of this) and Saint Robert. Both of these are canted from printed sheets (shock, horror!) to keep to the sense of the original language. Once again the music is entirely improvised, although I'll weave in traditional songs along the way; so not quite storytelling - I would never use printed texts in a pure storytelling performance which is a much more spontaneous affair altogether. I see these more by way of meditations, for whilst I'm not in the least bit religious myself, there is a potency in such material which lives & breathes by way of a common spiritual heritage.      

This year, by way of contrast, I'll be doing The Long Pack - a Northumbrian tale re-told by Joseph Crawhall & others, in prose & in verse, which looks like being a lot of fun...

*

It cannot be doubted that there have been oral traditions.

Both the Darwinist & the Creationist believe in giraffes, Richard - where they differ is how they came into being. What I'm saying is the Oral Tradition is the consequence of supremely gifted creative individuals inventing within the disciplines of their given cultural idiom. Once we see it in terms of its actual individuality rather than its romanticised collectivity then its nature changes - in other words, just as all music is Folk Music by default, the oral tradition is no different from any other creative idiom.

If you don't have anything constructive to add to this, Richard - please refrain from the embittered inventive; it really is rather tiresome & hardly engenders constructive debate.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 06:48 AM

Should be embittered invective


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 07:08 AM

SoP and RB - to your corners until you both learn to use everyday English and how to treat others with respect.

A logical statement of what you think, feel or believe, done without insults and put in the simplest terms, is always best.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: glueman
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 07:24 AM

Traddies think the traditional gene pool is being diluted by singer-songwriters who flip between the two forms. Complete nonsense of course.
One of the characteristics of new folk artists is many are able to knock out a set of eng trad., self-penned and music hall without hand-wringing or explanations and an engaging treatment of each. If the alternative is a pedestrian and talentless rendition of authentic ballads, gimme summat new.

I also agree that "the Oral Tradition is the consequence of supremely gifted creative individuals inventing within the disciplines of their given cultural idiom".


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Marje
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 08:02 AM

Richard: When I said that contemporary folk relied more heavily on strong chord sequences, I didn't mean to imply that there are no chords in traditional song. There is always an implied harmonic structure, and one of the delights of hearing a good unaccompanied singer is appreciating the way he/she indicates this structure by subtle inflections in the intonation of the singing.

Will Fly: yes, you have a good point there - I think maybe it's the performance of traditional song that is vulnerable rather than the songs themselves. As you imply, the selective "folk process " has often created songs that are enduring, flexible and hard-wearing. But I suppose it's difficlut to separate the two: the songs are unlikely to stay alive and evolve if the social contexts in which they are sung are threatened, or taken over by other forms of music. If the songs were to survive only in printed form or on archive recordings, and no one knew how to sing or even to listen to them, we'd have lost something very precious.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 08:07 AM

SoP and RB - to your corners until you both learn to use everyday English and how to treat others with respect.

With respect, VT - Richard's the one at fault here, resorting to personal put-downs which I refuse to rise to in the context of this or any other discussion. That's twice he's done it in so many weeks. God alone knows what's biting his arse but I could really do with it - and you coming in implying that it's somehow my fault.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: melodeonboy
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 08:18 AM

Taken from the original post:

"Lot's [sic] of squabbles on Mudcat between the umm Traddies and the Folkies."

Curious how language changes! For donkey's years I've considered myself (and have usually been considered by others) as a folkie. It now appears that I might come under the category of "traddie"!

Blimey, guv! What's goin' on? And which one should I put on my next job application form?


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 08:19 AM

MikeL2 said "there isn't the rift of differences between the different styles of music in America"

I'm not sure if he meant the supporters of different styles or the music itself, but I think the root of the difference (such as it is) is because there are significant differences in style between traditional and contemporary British folk. I don't just mean in performance style, but the whole musical structure.

I am no expert on American folk music, so I may be wrong (and no doubt there will be plenty on here to say so :) ), but it appears to me that contemporary singer-songwriter American folk has much closer links to traditional American folk. Woody Guthrie was working within a folk tradition rather than bringing in something completely different (besides his own talent). Modern American singer-songwriters are building on that tradition.

In contrast, I can see little or no connection, whether in terms of musical structure, subject matter or sentiment, between the music of, say, Donovan, Nick Drake or John Martyn, and traditional British folk music. That's not to make a value judgement or to say whether the music is good or bad, simply that it has different roots.

So whereas in America contemporary folk may be seen as a natural extension of traditional folk, in Britain it's as if a completely different genre of music has come along and established itself within the folk tent. Traddies don't generally have a problem with modern composed songs which respect the idioms of the tradition, it's the music which seems to come from different roots which is the issue.

What might seem to an outside observer as inconsequential is actually founded on quite deep differences. Few would be surprised if a punk band, or a rock band, or a string quartet for that matter, were not considered appropriate in a folk club, no matter how good they might be in their respective genres, but a particular type of acoustic music is expected to be acceptable because it has acquired the label "folk".

So on the one hand we have the traddies, faced with limited opportunities to listen to and perform the music they enjoy, who feel their turf is being encroached upon by a sub-category of pop music with no roots in traditional British music. On the other hand, we have the contemporary folkies who also feel that the folk club is their natural environment and who may also not have other outlets for their music, who feel unwelcome and looked-down upon. It's not surprising there are disagreements.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 08:20 AM

Suibhne O'Piobaireachd

I am sorry you feel so, but I have to say I cannot follow your writing.   Because I cannot extract your meaning, I tend to just give the benefit of doubt kind of nod. Others however, may find your style of expression somewhat condescending.

RB - to me can be just as unfathomable.

From my perspective, the two of you are cut from the same cloth when you write over ordinary folks heads.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 08:39 AM

"What I'm saying is the Oral Tradition is the consequence of supremely gifted creative individuals inventing within the disciplines of their given cultural idiom."
The you obviously haven't spoken to somebody who has been part of a living tradition.
If this is the case why don't we know who any of them were?
There are several poets from this area whose work is still popular; Michael Hayes actually published a small collection around the beginning of the 20th century. While a couple of his songs are still circulating as songs they have never altered from the printed version.
On the other hand there are literally dozens of songs dealing with events which took place in the first part of the 1900s which are still sung, have passed into numerous versions and are all anonymous. Surely if an individual is that gifted his/her identity would be known?
It really would be helpful if you provided some evidence on which you base your extremely sweeping, unqualified and loaded statements.
I too have great trouble in following your gobbledegook.
Incientally, the most basic form of oral tradition is 'Chinese Whispers' - or is that the consequence of supremely gifted creative uindividuals.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 09:40 AM

"It now appears that I might come under the category of "traddie"!"

Heh, I know! Now where'd I put me bleeding Ph'D?


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Marje
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 11:16 AM

Howard, I think you've put your finger on it. That distinction between American and British/Irish folk music which you explain is the thing that underlies many of the misunderstandings on this forum. The two types of music that most of us recognise in these islands tend to merge into one in the US, so it's hard for Americans to see the difference that we're referring to.

What US folkies (and even some UK folkies) don't always understand is that American-influenced folk music, although very popular over here, comes from different roots and is delivered in a different way from traditional (and in-the-tradition modern) songs. Much of the pop music over here is in the American, R&B-influenced style (which in turn is related to American folk music) so it seems quite natural to many British/Irish people to sing and play in this way. That's one reason why traddies feel the need to defend and protect their songs and the settings where they sing them, and also explains why the American-style folkies feel that folk clubs should welcome them.

It's not an easy issue to resolve, but it helps if we can understand where each side is coming from.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 11:42 AM

From: Suibhne O'Piobaireachd - PM
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 08:07 AM
With respect, VT - Richard's the one at fault here,

Umm, does that translate as, "But Mum, that boy started it!"


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 12:34 PM

"Umm, does that translate as, "But Mum, that boy started it!""
LOL I seem to remember one Crow sister starting it.

As anewcomer to folk it didnt take you long to get the hang of orchestrating a "Squabble" of folkies.
I'll get me coat.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 12:36 PM

Peter Laban,complains about internet forums,but I have to say that if a poster goes around calling people silly names,such as Lord Flasheart,as Peter Laban has done in the past,what does he expect?
if a poster goes around flaming or trolling,he deserves whatever he gets ,its internet karma.
however despite Peter Labans ,silly name calling,I did not respond but ignored his comments,however it doesnt surprise me that others have been rude to him.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 12:54 PM

But you're a special case Dick. Aren't you?


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 12:57 PM

And the Flash name suits you ;-)


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 01:06 PM

The you obviously haven't spoken to somebody who has been part of a living tradition.

I have actually, having worked alongside a fair few traditional storytellers & singers in my time. But all creative people are essentially part of a living tradition; my favourite traditional storytellers these days are actually the blokes down the pub who get a roll with endless up-to-the-minute jokes and have the place in stitches.

If this is the case why don't we know who any of them were?

Anonymity is no indication of collectivity. And though we do know many of the names (Absjorsen, Grimm, Child & other collectors named their principle sources) we can say that these are the works of individuals in much the same way as when we look at bricklaying, plasterwork, drystone walling, pottery, coopering, joinery, etc. we know we looking at the work of exacting individuals who were time served masters of their trades. Or are such things the random by-products of Chinese Whisperers too?   

Surely if an individual is that gifted his/her identity would be known?

I bet you could name a fair few, Jim - just check your source singers.

It really would be helpful if you provided some evidence on which you base your extremely sweeping, unqualified and loaded statements.

The evidence is right there - it's in the collections that form the backbone of any traditional repertoire, be it story, lore or song. The difference is simply one of interpretation. Where you see the random consequence of illiterate blundering Chinese Whisperers banging away like a thousand monkeys, I see something a good deal more purposeful, precise & exacting - no more random than the exacting master craftsmaship of coopers, wallers, farriers, ploughmen, sparks, hedge-layers, heavy metal guitarists, street dancers, MCs, and Fluffy Morris dancers.

*   

Umm, does that translate as, "But Mum, that boy started it!"

Hardly that, CS; all I'm doing is playing nicely as part of an ongoing discussion. That Boy, on the other hand (like the old man above) is forever spoiling for a fight. At least said Old Man knows what he's on about & I'm in his debt anyway for sending me some field recordings 18 or so months ago although the tape hasn't as yet surfaced since moving house - see here.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 01:17 PM

no, Peter I am not and neither are you.
what name suits you? Troll?


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 01:20 PM

May I remind you that each exchange we have had on this site was initiated by your good self? Go away. Leave it alone.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 01:24 PM

From: Tim Leaning - PM
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 12:34 PM
As anewcomer to folk it didnt take you long to get the hang of orchestrating a "Squabble" of folkies.

Looks like I've bin rumbled!

*scarpers sharpish*


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 01:26 PM

In Somerset once, we went into a pub. There were two bars. On one hung the sign 'Locals' and on the second door was 'Others'

There is a dividing line put there by Traddies, over which those who love other types of music should never cross.

The thing is, as I've said many a time, my music embraces traditional, (or it used to) acoustic, soul, blues, classical...the list is endless, but some have such a narrow view, and their music does not embrace mine, rather...it is shunned.

I have actually been put off traditional music by the crazy academia that surrounds it.

Oh...yawwwwwwwwwwwwwn!


John Tams is a man I loved to watch, not seen him for ages now..because he brings in humour to music...and he sings all kinds of songs, folk, traditional, acoustic...whatever.

By all means love to study your songs, but don't have a go at anyone who doesn't, 'cos we're not all the same, and we like the songs for different reasons..and some of us are NOT up our own arses about them all...because..they are JUST SONGS!

And once, they were sung by a happy peasant on his way home from the fields, whilst his head was filled with the thought of making love to his jolly peasant wife, on his jolly peasant mattress!

He did not go home worrying what key he was singing it in, or whether he had the exact same words as Mathias was singing earlier in the pub...he didn't even worry when he got through the door to find A Man Called Cecil busily writing down all his wife was saying....because ALL he was thinking about was having a good evening's loving....

Sigh....


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 01:27 PM

Peter,I am referring to your behaviour on Concertina net


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 01:43 PM

Lord Flasheart brings up some rather steamy visions, Dick....I'd embrace it if I were you....

Oh, just don't get me going on the things Lord Flasheart would be doing with his concertina though...but I feel he'd have a very big smile on his face!


That reminds me..Jimjimjimmyjimjim Causley's folk programme is on! Gadzoooooks! I'm missing it! Hope he's gonna play more Oysterband songs...


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 01:49 PM

" That distinction between American and British/Irish folk music which you explain is the thing that underlies many of the misunderstandings on this forum. The two types of music that most of us recognise in these islands tend to merge into one in the US, so it's hard for Americans to see the difference that we're referring to. "

We know a lot more about "your" music than you give us credit for, Marje. As far as the misunderstandings, most of them have nothing to do with either Americans or American music. The chief combatants are your homeboys-


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: MikeL2
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 02:09 PM


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: MikeL2
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 02:13 PM

Hi Howard

Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Howard Jones - PM
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 08:19 AM

< "MikeL2 said "there isn't the rift of differences between the different styles of music in America">

I tried to say in one sentence what you have eloquently explained here.

cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 02:38 PM

"Lord Flasheart brings up some rather steamy visions, Dick....I'd embrace it if I were you...."
Agreed - is that a canoe in your pocket or.............?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 02:55 PM

Well, there is another thing to be said for taking folk music seriously - it keeps flibbertigibbits out.


Sweeney - you seem to be saying that there is no such thing as folk music, because collectors denied that any contribution to the shaping of older material was purposeful.

As I have said above, the way(s)in which older musical materials (including for this purpose words) may have included intentional changes, and they may have included accidental changes. Certainly the phenomenon of "Chinese Whispers" is a known phenomenon and I cannot imagine that you deny that it occurs. Likewise, before bit-for-bit replication became possible all forms of replication were imprecise and repeated replication became a source of imperfect replication. To suppose suddenly that all changes in an old work were the result of the intentions of perfect craftsmen would be an extraordinary assumption.

You, however, set up an aunt Sally that goes further. You assert that the collectors and analysts before you universally proceeded on the basis that the evolution of old works arose ONLY from error, and unthinking error at that. One wonders that so many of them might have made such an assumption until you (and Glueman) arrived to set them right. It seems to me the better view that they did not make that assumption.

Both the above arguments are fatal to your bedrock.

But even if you were right on both accounts, the answer would still be "so what?" There would still be a body of collected (and uncollected, yet, maybe) work (to which, if you can accept recent "Chinese whispers" and planned changes as equivalent to the effects of oral transmission, there is continued accretion) that would be the result of modification in transmission, and that had currency in divergent forms in particular communities - rather like the differences between the Bonnie Raitt version and the Freddie and the Dreamers' version of "If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody", or the word changes between "If You Gotta Go, Go Now" and "Si Tu Dois Partir" and the greater changes that would result if one translated the latter back into English.

That leaves one with two questions. First, what is the true source of your hostility to folk music, and why do you want to use the expression "folk music" for something else? Or are you simply trying to say that you are cleverer than everyone else, which might be inferred to be your intent from your frequent resort to the bafflegab thesaurus. Alas my attempt to parody it seems to have been too successful for some, but why do you do what you do and why do you express it like that?


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 02:59 PM

PS - and just to make something else clear - I don't think that I am better musician than all singer songwriters or contemporary acoustic musicians. John Barden for example can sing my socks off, and many many people of all types can play me into the ground on any instrument. I even like a fair bit of contemporary stuff both "in the tradition" and not "in the tradition" in stylistic terms.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 03:04 PM

I don't believe there is a dividing line that traddies, or anyone else for that matter, strickly adheres to. Apart from in the mind of some people. What is perceived as a barrier is not - It is just a guide as to what kind of music to expect in what kind of venue. I said in another thread it is unfair to have all kinds of music in all venues - how would we know where to find what we enjoyed most if that happened?

As to the academia surrounding some music - surely that would enhance it for some people. I, for one, enjoy learning about the roots and history of a song as much as I do hearing it. Why would anyone want to deprive me of that? Surely the main thing is that the song is sung and people get enjoyment out of it. Why get annoyed if someone goes on to say it was collected by Professor Looney von Loonybum in 1842 at Coppers Nob in Bogieshire?

And why insist that the peasent is any better than the professor?

DeG


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: michaelr
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 07:35 PM

Marje - American-influenced folk music, although very popular over here, comes from different roots

And just where do you imagine those roots to be from? Inner Mongolia? American folk music has its roots in Appalachian mountain music which is directly derived from the Scots and to a lesser extent Irish and English tradition.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 03:48 AM

Michaelr, yes American folk music has roots in British folk music, but it has also absorbed other influences and evolved differently. In particular, the use of instruments and especially the guitar to accompany singing has shaped the melodic and harmonic structure of tunes, giving many them a distinctly American flavour. It was the American influence of the early folk revival which established the guitar as a folk instrument in Britain and which most directly influenced the "contemporary folk" style.

I am not suggesting this divide is somehow the fault of the Americans, simply trying to explain how it may have arisen, why it is a deeper divide than may be apparent to outsiders, and we we get so worked up about it. It lies at the root of all the interminable "what is folk?" and "what can be sung in a folk club? threads which are never satisfactorily resolved.

Nevertheless, as I have pointed out before, the divide may appear to be deeper and more acrimonious on Mudcat than it is in the real world. Those clubs which take a firm "trad only" or "contemporary only" line usually make this pretty clear in their publicity. Most other clubs have a fairly broad tolerance of what can be performed.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Marje
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 08:59 AM

MichealR - What do I think the roots of American music are? Well, they're partly British and Irish, but they've also been influenced by Hispanic and African cultures, not to mention other European influences. African-influenced Blues, in particular, is a recognisably American sound that permeates much US popular music in both folk and pop. The guitar (Hispanic) and the banjo (African), and also the dulcimer (European)in the Appalachians, have all made contributions to the distinctive sounds of American music.

Add to this the fact that the US has been developing in its own way for the last couple of centuries or so, while British and Irish cultures have developed in theirs, and it becomes clear that the cultures and the music are now, although related, quite distinct.

It's paralleled, in a way, by the use of the English language, which has evolved into two (more or less) mutually intelligible forms, now quite different although both spring from the same roots.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: michaelr
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 01:27 PM

Marje and Howard, I see your point(s). And Howard, your post of Feb. 14 8:19am makes a lot of sense. I think I understand better now why this subject is under so much discussion.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 01:43 PM

I for one do not buy that American (however defined) music has roots in Appalachia, or that Appalachian music is all that Scottish or Irish..does it sound like it to you? To either one? There is something else coursing through its veins..read up on Melungeons..doesn't Appalachain music sound like it has a bit of Turkish/Morrocan etc. in it..perhaps using some Scottish songs as a basis but really..I have never heard that much Scottish sound..words yes...

There is way more to American (yes, that would include Guatamala, Greenland, Labrador etc.) than Appalachian, which is a subset of American. mg


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 01:50 PM

Banjo? African?


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 01:53 PM

"The Oral Tradition is the consequence of very wishful folkloric thinking that has so effectively removed individual creativity from the equation and views working-class humanity as a collective mass of instinctive, unthinking, ill-educated primitives."

"Once more, I fear, were back to the gulf of class-condescension which has so effectively denied the individual mastery of the working classes, seeing them as passive carriers and random generators of material rather than the specific creators of it."

I realize it's probably a waste of time to even ask, but can you provide any documentation for these sweeping generalizations? Because I know you didn't get this from anyone who posts on this site, nor can these silly ideas be found in the work of folklorists such as D.K. Wilgus, Archie Green, Norm Cohen, Mark Wilson (to name but a few), nor from musicians who themselves were collectors such as Bascom Lamar Lunsford or Max Hunter. If you did bother to cite sources, you would have to go back a century or more to find examples of the 'folklore as product of dancing, amorphous horde' school of thought that you presumably believe is the current state of the field.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 02:33 PM

" . . . read up on Melungeons..doesn't Appalachain music sound like it has a bit of Turkish/Morrocan etc . . ."

'Melungeons' are more likely mixed race European/African/Native American than Mediterraean/Turkish in origin. And I that 'non-western' thing you hear derives more from the African-American influence upon Appalachian music. Africans in the New World carried Arabic/Islamic influences in there various musical traditions. And of course, those gapped scales and circular melodies that sound 'foreign' to modern ears do have roots in northern Britain, remember that American and British vernacular musical styles diverged over several centuries.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 03:34 PM

DNA tests are showing a definite Mediterranean origin for many people, just like they said for centuries. mg


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 03:54 PM

There are also people in the UK with Mediterranean genes, people have been moving around the world for centuries. No evidence at all of a direct connection between Mediterranean musical traditions and Appalachian music. The simplest, most likely answer is what we've know for some time: Appalachian music (and Southern American music in general) reflects interaction between traditions of British Isles and Africa, in the context of intermingling of populations and cultural practices in the New World.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 04:25 PM

Blimey, Mathias Longbottom surely had no idea where his music would lead, eh?

Ain't it *complicated* these days though, from just a song that got hummed and sang to all of this...

Who'd a thought?

Peasants to Professors?

Well, there are some Professors who understand that the Peasant has as much knowledge as himself, just in a different field, but there are many who look down on the lowly peasant as being er...lowly, and therefore stoopid, especially if he no longer understands the new rules and regulations of his own music...

The very beautiful...
Marks in the Grass - John Barden


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 07:11 PM

"I realize it's probably a waste of time to even ask, but can you provide any documentation for these sweeping generalizations?"
It is indeed a waste of time. Our pontificator has said elsewhere that he does not 'do' research, and he always makes a point of abusing and belittling those who do.
"Anonymity is no indication of collectivity"
Neither is the naming of principle sources.
"I bet you could name a fair few, Jim - just check your source singers."
Do you have any grounds whatever for this arrogant statement? Have you spoken to our source singers, or listened toy our recordings? NO, DESPITE STRENUOUS EFFORTS WE HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO TRACE ONE TRADITIONAL SONG BACK TO ITS COMPOSER - HAVE YOU?
"bricklaying, plasterwork, drystone walling, pottery, coopering, joinery"
Go to any elderly resident in this village and they will name you some of the finest tradesmen living here back as far as two generations. Joe Cooley, the great box player was a plasterer, Willie Clancy was a carpenter, dry-stone walling ran in families; there are still members of those families in the trade. The same applies to blacksmithing and curragh-making. There are even studies and books written on the latter. Yet - guess what - nobody has ever been able to give us the name of the composer of The Wreck of The Leon (any of the 4 separate songs on the subject), De Valera's Election Victory (at least three songs) The Quern Fishing Disaster, The Rineen Ambush (4 songs), Mac and Shanahan (two), The West Clare Railway (4 - maybe five), The Drunken Bear, The Quilty Burning....... all local songs on events which took place during the lifetimes of the singers who gave them to us. We do have information that the latter was started by four young farmers standing on the street corner the day after the day occurred, but we have no idea what form that early composition took.
"The evidence is right there"
Then it should be a doddle to point it out - where is it? Why have we all missed it. Why did Ruth Finnegan (Oral Poetry) or Leonard Trask (The Unwritten Song 2 vols) or Maurice Bowra (Primitive Song) or John Blacking (How Musical is Man)... and all the other researchers bother when all they had to do is lock themselves in a folk club, stare at the ceiling for long enough and the answer would come to them "there is no oral tradition - it's all a figment of our imagination".
You are still making crass, unsubstantiated statements and your responses are still as evasive as they were in the beginning.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Feb 10 - 07:28 PM

NO, DESPITE STRENUOUS EFFORTS WE HAVE NEVER BEEN ABLE TO TRACE ONE TRADITIONAL SONG BACK TO ITS COMPOSER - HAVE YOU?

Lanfiere's original of "Wild Rover".


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Feb 10 - 03:40 AM

Is there evidence of an origin of Wild Rover Jack - we have several versions that bear little relation to the common one with all the indication that of it being a rural composition (thatch - barns etc.)
It is claimed elsewhere that many of our songs originated on the broadside presses, but no information has been offered for this
Be interested to know.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Marje
Date: 16 Feb 10 - 04:23 AM

"Banjo? African?"

Allegedly, yes. At one time the white people in in some parts of the US were uncomfortable with this explanation of its roots, but at the moment it seems like the best theory so far:

http://www.rhisong.com/blackbanjo/banjo.html

Marje


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 Feb 10 - 04:28 AM

The work of jazz and blues musicologists Brian Rust and Paul Oliver in the 50s and 60s went a long way to establishing that the roots of the banjo were probably in Northern and Western Africa.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: GUEST,S O'P (Astray)
Date: 16 Feb 10 - 04:59 AM

You are still making crass, unsubstantiated statements and your responses are still as evasive as they were in the beginning.

The point I was making is that the songs themselves are evidence of them having been composed. Where else did they originate? Just as dry-stone walls don't build themselves, songs don't write themselves, and my suggestion is that they were written by people who were, in effect, masters of the idiom in which they were working. That their names haven't survived is hardly surprising - and even if they had survived, it's unlikely that source-singers would have divulged them on account of the attention they were getting from the agenda-driven collectors who wouldn't have been interested if a song was the work of a known composer thus indicating that their precious Oral Tradition wasn't quite what their faith told them it was. Never bite the hand that feeds you; although Disney's men once drove lemmings over a cliff edge to prove a myth too...

I've worked with traditional storytellers who were very much story-makers and freely admitted to it, albeit rather sorrowfully, in their cups, and well off the record, though it always seemed pretty obvious to me & I applauded them for it. A lot of traditional songs have known composers; my favourite of all is McGinties Meal & Ale, George Bruce Thompson's masterpiece which has found its way into The Tradition with numerous variations on the original, perhaps most notably by Davie Stewart, but Andy Stewart did a cracking version too. I would also argue that the songs of Tommy Armstrong are similarly idiomatically traditional & in his use of traditional melodies & structures that shaped the canny knack of his craft he displays the same mastery we see in the anonymous songs.

A tradition is not the songs themselves, rather it's creative idiom in which the songs were made, and re-made, as they are created, learned, half-forgotten, and re-imagined. In a non-literate culture this becomes all the more evident, but we see the same thing today as novels are made into films which are remade as other films, or else re-told as stories, comics, graphic-novels; we see the same thing in popular music too. In their pre-tech habitat these old songs existed in an evident fluidity which is pretty much the essence of what creative music is - such things exist in a state of flux by default, and, accordingly traditions evolve and the material likewise. This is no different from any other music; it is what music is; all music is thus Traditional in the sense of the word as used by the ICTM which embraces not only folk, but popular, urban and classical musics too. I would also argue that this makes more sense of what the Oral Tradition is, than the romantic assumption of a volkish collectivity, which is to fail to see the creativity of the working-class men and women who were The Tradition, a creativity which was all but denied them by a revival that cherished the anonymous as the authentic.   

And when did I ever say I didn't believe in research? You keep throwing this at me, but a source would be nice so I might give it some sort of context - something that your increasingly reactive side-swiping seems entirely devoid of. I can assure you all my conclusions (as far as they are conclusions, given the nature of the subject matter) are the result of my ongoing researches into traditional idioms of folk song & folk tale which I take very seriously indeed. And I have heard your recordings; you sent me a tape once (misplaced shortly afterwards in our move but it will turn up) and I note your contributions to VOTP etc. My heresy is simply that on such sound foundations I dare to interpret that material differently from the tattered anachronistic shibboleths of a fast-fading Folk Revival which has failed to establish the cultural significance of that which ought to be appreciated as the national cultural treasure but which is, largely thanks to said revival and the attitudes therein, a national embarrassment.

If only John England had been singing Tit-Willow on that fateful day back in 1903 how different things might have been...

S O'P - Heading North. I may be gone some time...


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 16 Feb 10 - 05:30 AM

Is there evidence of an origin of Wild Rover Jack - we have several versions that bear little relation to the common one with all the indication that of it being a rural composition (thatch - barns etc.)

The thatch and barns are also what you'd expect a rural singer to add to an urban song to localize it. I noted Lanfiere's song from the 1680s as the antecedent here after seeing its incipit in the Bibliotheca Landesiana index; Malcolm Douglas dug out the full text and posted it. The familiar Wild Rover text has modified a few details and toned down the moralism, but adds no really new idea to Lanfiere's original and the verbal formulas are unchanged.

In Scottish tradition, The Hills o Gallowa is probably the best-known song generally believed "traditional" which has a known author. At one point there were a lot of Martin Parker's songs floating around in oral transmission, but probably not for 150 years now.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 16 Feb 10 - 06:27 AM

Does it matter if we know the original author of a song?   They all originated somewhere, whether from an individual in a village pub, a group of farmers on a street corner, or a broadside hack. Jim's evidence tells us that his sources didn't regard the origin as being important, but if the origin were to be known, would that alter the status of those songs within the local tradition? Surely not. A song's status as traditional or otherwise cannot depend on the extent of our own knowledge or depth of academic research. The Wild Rover, which surely ticks all the boxes to be a folk song, cannot be disqualified simply because a researcher has now identified the original version.

Surely what is significant is what happens to a song after it has been created. It either passes into the tradition, where it may be susceptible to change, either through faulty memory, mondegreens, or deliberate reworking, or it may be forgotten.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Feb 10 - 06:51 AM

Sweeney - that is all totally irrelevant. The 1954 Karpeles definition does not require that a song be anonymous. That was a gloss of Sharp's. The Mirriam-Webster meaning for "traditional" does not require that a tradition be of unknown origin.   

No-one (AFAIK) has ever suggested that no-one composed the songs that became folk songs. Who says that the originators and reproducers and arrangers were not skillful? This ire of yours in defence of an supposedly oppressed and patronised peasant or working class is based on an imagined wrong, is wholly irrelevant to the concept of a folk-art, and is the more bemusing when it is couched in a language seemingly comprised of baffle-gab, obscurantist academic, and management-speak.


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 16 Feb 10 - 06:53 AM

It may not affect how much a singer likes a song or how they perform it, but source singers often did know where their stuff came from. Look at the repertoire of the Stewarts of Blair as printed in the MacColl/Seeger book "Till Doomsday in the Afternoon" - Belle Stewart had a word (which I forget) for songs derived from the music hall and similar sources. She thought it was nice to know the difference between these pieces and those that had been circulating orally for centuries longer, as do I.

For a song from the other side of the Atlantic that we nailed an author for on Mudcat in the last couple of years, look for threads on the origin of "Oh Death".


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Subject: RE: Do We Think We're Better Than Them?
From: GUEST,S O'P (Astray)
Date: 16 Feb 10 - 11:20 AM

Sweeney - that is all totally irrelevant.

Richard - I was with you until you used the term Folk-Art...


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