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Is traditional song finished?

Related threads:
Popfolk? (19)
What isn't folk (88)
What is a Folk Song? (229)
Still wondering what's folk these days? (145)
What makes a new song a folk song? (1710)
Does Folk Exist? (709)
Definition of folk song (137)
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No, really -- what IS NOT folk music? (176)
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Jim Carroll 26 Feb 10 - 08:43 AM
glueman 26 Feb 10 - 08:51 AM
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Jack Blandiver 27 Feb 10 - 05:36 AM
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Jim Carroll 27 Feb 10 - 06:04 AM
Jack Campin 27 Feb 10 - 06:26 AM
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The Sandman 02 Mar 10 - 12:26 PM
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Bert 02 Mar 10 - 03:44 PM
The Sandman 02 Mar 10 - 05:15 PM
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Jim Carroll 02 Mar 10 - 07:20 PM
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Brian Peters 03 Mar 10 - 07:31 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Mar 10 - 07:34 AM
TheSnail 03 Mar 10 - 08:06 AM
Bert 03 Mar 10 - 08:19 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Mar 10 - 08:40 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 03 Mar 10 - 09:27 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Mar 10 - 11:44 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 03 Mar 10 - 02:40 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Mar 10 - 02:53 PM
The Sandman 03 Mar 10 - 03:35 PM
Jim Carroll 03 Mar 10 - 03:49 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 03 Mar 10 - 05:51 PM
The Sandman 04 Mar 10 - 04:39 AM
glueman 04 Mar 10 - 05:35 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Mar 10 - 06:29 AM
The Sandman 04 Mar 10 - 06:40 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Mar 10 - 06:55 AM
glueman 04 Mar 10 - 07:52 AM
Jack Blandiver 04 Mar 10 - 08:36 AM
TheSnail 04 Mar 10 - 09:08 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 04 Mar 10 - 09:18 AM
glueman 04 Mar 10 - 09:32 AM
Jack Blandiver 04 Mar 10 - 11:28 AM
Phil Edwards 04 Mar 10 - 12:20 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Mar 10 - 04:40 PM
glueman 04 Mar 10 - 04:48 PM
Richard Mellish 04 Mar 10 - 06:40 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Mar 10 - 06:58 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 05 Mar 10 - 09:45 AM
Banjiman 05 Mar 10 - 09:52 AM
MikeL2 05 Mar 10 - 10:42 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Mar 10 - 12:17 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Mar 10 - 03:45 PM
TheSnail 05 Mar 10 - 07:59 PM
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Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 06 Mar 10 - 04:24 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 06 Mar 10 - 04:43 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 06 Mar 10 - 06:07 PM
The Fooles Troupe 06 Mar 10 - 07:09 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 07 Mar 10 - 03:41 AM
GUEST,Tom again 07 Mar 10 - 03:59 AM
GUEST,raymond greenoaken 07 Mar 10 - 05:30 AM
MGM·Lion 07 Mar 10 - 05:43 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 07 Mar 10 - 05:51 AM
Jack Blandiver 07 Mar 10 - 06:51 AM
GUEST,TB 07 Mar 10 - 06:52 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 07 Mar 10 - 07:55 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Mar 10 - 05:16 PM
Tootler 07 Mar 10 - 06:07 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Mar 10 - 06:29 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 07 Mar 10 - 07:18 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 08 Mar 10 - 02:11 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Mar 10 - 03:46 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 08 Mar 10 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 08 Mar 10 - 03:57 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 08 Mar 10 - 04:02 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 08 Mar 10 - 05:16 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 08 Mar 10 - 05:23 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 08 Mar 10 - 05:56 AM
GUEST,tb 08 Mar 10 - 05:57 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 08 Mar 10 - 06:01 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 08 Mar 10 - 06:05 AM
TheSnail 08 Mar 10 - 06:06 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 08 Mar 10 - 06:17 AM
GUEST,tom bliss 08 Mar 10 - 06:20 AM
The Sandman 08 Mar 10 - 07:11 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 08 Mar 10 - 07:32 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 08 Mar 10 - 07:42 AM
GUEST 08 Mar 10 - 07:44 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 08 Mar 10 - 08:04 AM
TheSnail 08 Mar 10 - 08:04 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 08 Mar 10 - 08:05 AM
The Sandman 08 Mar 10 - 08:33 AM
glueman 08 Mar 10 - 08:53 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 08 Mar 10 - 09:00 AM
Jack Blandiver 08 Mar 10 - 09:04 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 08 Mar 10 - 09:08 AM
Jack Blandiver 08 Mar 10 - 09:11 AM
The Sandman 08 Mar 10 - 10:08 AM
The Sandman 08 Mar 10 - 10:19 AM
TheSnail 08 Mar 10 - 10:26 AM
Jim Carroll 08 Mar 10 - 10:31 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 08 Mar 10 - 10:39 AM
glueman 08 Mar 10 - 10:41 AM
Jack Blandiver 08 Mar 10 - 10:42 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 08 Mar 10 - 11:18 AM
The Sandman 08 Mar 10 - 11:24 AM
The Sandman 08 Mar 10 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 08 Mar 10 - 11:42 AM
the Folk Police 08 Mar 10 - 11:43 AM
Goose Gander 08 Mar 10 - 12:15 PM
Jack Blandiver 08 Mar 10 - 12:18 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 08 Mar 10 - 12:35 PM
glueman 08 Mar 10 - 12:44 PM
TheSnail 08 Mar 10 - 12:46 PM
olddude 08 Mar 10 - 12:53 PM
The Sandman 08 Mar 10 - 12:56 PM
Goose Gander 08 Mar 10 - 01:12 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 08 Mar 10 - 01:17 PM
TheSnail 08 Mar 10 - 01:30 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 08 Mar 10 - 01:39 PM
The Sandman 08 Mar 10 - 02:03 PM
MikeL2 08 Mar 10 - 03:33 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Mar 10 - 03:42 PM
glueman 08 Mar 10 - 04:04 PM
Tootler 08 Mar 10 - 04:09 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 08 Mar 10 - 04:28 PM
Goose Gander 08 Mar 10 - 04:40 PM
The Sandman 08 Mar 10 - 05:05 PM
Tootler 08 Mar 10 - 05:05 PM
Tootler 08 Mar 10 - 05:23 PM
Jack Blandiver 08 Mar 10 - 06:00 PM
Banjiman 08 Mar 10 - 06:06 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 08 Mar 10 - 07:29 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Mar 10 - 07:31 PM
Jim Carroll 08 Mar 10 - 07:45 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 08 Mar 10 - 08:03 PM
Jack Campin 08 Mar 10 - 08:22 PM
glueman 09 Mar 10 - 02:07 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 09 Mar 10 - 03:15 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Mar 10 - 04:08 AM
the Folk Police 09 Mar 10 - 04:31 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 09 Mar 10 - 04:38 AM
glueman 09 Mar 10 - 04:47 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Mar 10 - 04:50 AM
TheSnail 09 Mar 10 - 04:56 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 09 Mar 10 - 04:57 AM
Jack Campin 09 Mar 10 - 05:17 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Mar 10 - 05:33 AM
glueman 09 Mar 10 - 05:43 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 09 Mar 10 - 05:43 AM
Howard Jones 09 Mar 10 - 06:41 AM
glueman 09 Mar 10 - 07:06 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Mar 10 - 07:12 AM
GUEST,padgett 09 Mar 10 - 07:19 AM
glueman 09 Mar 10 - 07:32 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Mar 10 - 07:33 AM
Jack Blandiver 09 Mar 10 - 07:40 AM
Banjiman 09 Mar 10 - 07:50 AM
Banjiman 09 Mar 10 - 07:55 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Mar 10 - 08:00 AM
TheSnail 09 Mar 10 - 08:11 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 09 Mar 10 - 08:39 AM
Jack Blandiver 09 Mar 10 - 08:39 AM
Will Fly 09 Mar 10 - 08:49 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 09 Mar 10 - 08:55 AM
Jack Campin 09 Mar 10 - 08:56 AM
Banjiman 09 Mar 10 - 09:03 AM
Jack Campin 09 Mar 10 - 09:10 AM
Banjiman 09 Mar 10 - 09:14 AM
MikeL2 09 Mar 10 - 09:45 AM
MikeL2 09 Mar 10 - 10:15 AM
Jack Blandiver 09 Mar 10 - 10:20 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Mar 10 - 10:49 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Mar 10 - 11:16 AM
Banjiman 09 Mar 10 - 11:24 AM
TheSnail 09 Mar 10 - 12:23 PM
The Sandman 09 Mar 10 - 12:35 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Mar 10 - 12:38 PM
Phil Edwards 09 Mar 10 - 02:18 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Mar 10 - 02:34 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 09 Mar 10 - 03:37 PM
Phil Edwards 09 Mar 10 - 04:28 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 09 Mar 10 - 04:41 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 09 Mar 10 - 05:26 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 09 Mar 10 - 05:47 PM
Tootler 09 Mar 10 - 07:54 PM
Bert 10 Mar 10 - 01:24 AM
Mavis Enderby 10 Mar 10 - 02:45 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Mar 10 - 03:21 AM
Banjiman 10 Mar 10 - 03:42 AM
Will Fly 10 Mar 10 - 03:42 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Mar 10 - 03:54 AM
Jack Blandiver 10 Mar 10 - 04:16 AM
GUEST,TB 10 Mar 10 - 04:18 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 10 Mar 10 - 04:22 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Mar 10 - 04:26 AM
Mavis Enderby 10 Mar 10 - 04:29 AM
glueman 10 Mar 10 - 04:37 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Mar 10 - 04:47 AM
Banjiman 10 Mar 10 - 04:49 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Mar 10 - 05:43 AM
GUEST,TB 10 Mar 10 - 05:44 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Mar 10 - 06:09 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Mar 10 - 06:39 AM
TheSnail 10 Mar 10 - 06:45 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Mar 10 - 06:53 AM
The Sandman 10 Mar 10 - 07:00 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Mar 10 - 07:23 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Mar 10 - 07:50 AM
Phil Edwards 10 Mar 10 - 08:01 AM
glueman 10 Mar 10 - 08:10 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 10 Mar 10 - 08:42 AM
Jack Campin 10 Mar 10 - 08:50 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Mar 10 - 08:55 AM
Brian Peters 10 Mar 10 - 09:44 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Mar 10 - 10:19 AM
Brian Peters 10 Mar 10 - 10:44 AM
GUEST,TB 10 Mar 10 - 10:49 AM
GUEST,TB 10 Mar 10 - 10:53 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 10 Mar 10 - 11:24 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Mar 10 - 11:47 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Mar 10 - 12:30 PM
Spleen Cringe 10 Mar 10 - 12:52 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 10 Mar 10 - 01:12 PM
The Sandman 10 Mar 10 - 01:56 PM
glueman 10 Mar 10 - 02:12 PM
TheSnail 10 Mar 10 - 03:08 PM
GUEST,Ralphie 10 Mar 10 - 03:32 PM
Jim Carroll 10 Mar 10 - 03:43 PM
Jack Blandiver 10 Mar 10 - 03:46 PM
TheSnail 10 Mar 10 - 06:32 PM
Jim Carroll 10 Mar 10 - 06:35 PM
Tootler 10 Mar 10 - 07:00 PM
the Folk Police 10 Mar 10 - 07:01 PM
Tootler 10 Mar 10 - 07:38 PM
Phil Edwards 11 Mar 10 - 03:15 AM
glueman 11 Mar 10 - 03:28 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Mar 10 - 03:44 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Mar 10 - 03:54 AM
Will Fly 11 Mar 10 - 03:54 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 11 Mar 10 - 04:22 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Mar 10 - 05:12 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 11 Mar 10 - 05:18 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss has left the building 11 Mar 10 - 05:19 AM
Phil Edwards 11 Mar 10 - 06:34 AM
Brian Peters 11 Mar 10 - 06:47 AM
glueman 11 Mar 10 - 06:53 AM
Brian Peters 11 Mar 10 - 06:55 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 11 Mar 10 - 06:57 AM
GUEST,tom just popping his head in the window 11 Mar 10 - 06:59 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 11 Mar 10 - 07:04 AM
Will Fly 11 Mar 10 - 07:05 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 11 Mar 10 - 08:45 AM
glueman 11 Mar 10 - 09:22 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 11 Mar 10 - 09:44 AM
Mavis Enderby 11 Mar 10 - 09:59 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Mar 10 - 10:13 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Mar 10 - 10:26 AM
Will Fly 11 Mar 10 - 11:30 AM
MikeL2 11 Mar 10 - 11:35 AM
GUEST,A sheepish and unhappy Tom Bliss 11 Mar 10 - 12:17 PM
TheSnail 11 Mar 10 - 12:40 PM
Brian Peters 11 Mar 10 - 02:24 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 11 Mar 10 - 03:24 PM
Phil Edwards 11 Mar 10 - 03:44 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Mar 10 - 03:46 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Mar 10 - 07:08 PM
Banjiman 12 Mar 10 - 03:14 AM
TheSnail 12 Mar 10 - 03:20 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Mar 10 - 05:35 AM
Banjiman 12 Mar 10 - 06:14 AM
Stephen L. Rich 12 Mar 10 - 06:21 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Mar 10 - 08:21 AM
Banjiman 12 Mar 10 - 08:34 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 12 Mar 10 - 10:14 AM
GUEST,TB 12 Mar 10 - 10:33 AM
GUEST,raymond greenoaken 12 Mar 10 - 10:35 AM
GUEST,TB 12 Mar 10 - 11:05 AM
glueman 12 Mar 10 - 11:28 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 12 Mar 10 - 11:34 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 12 Mar 10 - 11:57 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 12 Mar 10 - 02:19 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Mar 10 - 04:22 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Mar 10 - 04:28 PM
Jack Campin 12 Mar 10 - 05:14 PM
GUEST,raymond greenoaken 12 Mar 10 - 05:15 PM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 12 Mar 10 - 05:55 PM
TheSnail 12 Mar 10 - 08:14 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 12 Mar 10 - 08:42 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Mar 10 - 10:01 PM
Jim Carroll 12 Mar 10 - 10:19 PM
glueman 13 Mar 10 - 04:22 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 13 Mar 10 - 04:47 AM
Will Fly 13 Mar 10 - 04:55 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Mar 10 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,raymond greenoaken 13 Mar 10 - 05:38 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 13 Mar 10 - 05:39 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 13 Mar 10 - 06:04 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 13 Mar 10 - 06:06 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Mar 10 - 06:27 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 13 Mar 10 - 06:31 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Mar 10 - 07:09 AM
TheSnail 13 Mar 10 - 07:36 AM
TheSnail 13 Mar 10 - 07:42 AM
glueman 13 Mar 10 - 07:43 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 13 Mar 10 - 07:53 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Mar 10 - 08:07 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 13 Mar 10 - 08:17 AM
Jack Campin 13 Mar 10 - 08:30 AM
Tootler 13 Mar 10 - 08:31 AM
TheSnail 13 Mar 10 - 08:45 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Mar 10 - 09:15 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Mar 10 - 09:59 AM
glueman 13 Mar 10 - 10:17 AM
Phil Edwards 13 Mar 10 - 10:47 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Mar 10 - 10:48 AM
TheSnail 13 Mar 10 - 10:58 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 13 Mar 10 - 10:59 AM
The Sandman 13 Mar 10 - 11:26 AM
GUEST,Angel of the North 13 Mar 10 - 11:30 AM
TheSnail 13 Mar 10 - 11:35 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Mar 10 - 11:46 AM
Jack Campin 13 Mar 10 - 12:07 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Mar 10 - 01:18 PM
The Sandman 13 Mar 10 - 02:16 PM
Paco O'Barmy 13 Mar 10 - 02:36 PM
Jim Carroll 13 Mar 10 - 04:04 PM
glueman 13 Mar 10 - 04:43 PM
GUEST,raymond greenoaken 14 Mar 10 - 06:29 AM
Jack Blandiver 14 Mar 10 - 06:36 AM
Banjiman 14 Mar 10 - 08:26 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Mar 10 - 09:08 AM
TheSnail 14 Mar 10 - 01:28 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Mar 10 - 04:16 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 14 Mar 10 - 04:45 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 14 Mar 10 - 05:09 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 14 Mar 10 - 05:10 PM
The Sandman 14 Mar 10 - 05:11 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 14 Mar 10 - 07:16 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Mar 10 - 10:29 PM
TheSnail 15 Mar 10 - 06:20 AM
Will Fly 15 Mar 10 - 07:36 AM
The Sandman 15 Mar 10 - 08:05 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Mar 10 - 09:16 AM
TheSnail 15 Mar 10 - 06:41 PM
Tootler 15 Mar 10 - 06:53 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Mar 10 - 06:54 PM
glueman 15 Mar 10 - 06:56 PM
TheSnail 15 Mar 10 - 08:05 PM
Jack Campin 15 Mar 10 - 08:31 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 15 Mar 10 - 08:46 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 15 Mar 10 - 09:22 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 15 Mar 10 - 09:29 PM
Jack Campin 15 Mar 10 - 10:02 PM
TheSnail 16 Mar 10 - 05:22 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Mar 10 - 05:48 AM
TheSnail 16 Mar 10 - 06:17 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 16 Mar 10 - 06:47 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Mar 10 - 07:12 AM
Banjiman 16 Mar 10 - 07:18 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 16 Mar 10 - 07:36 AM
Banjiman 16 Mar 10 - 07:40 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Mar 10 - 08:28 AM
Stringsinger 16 Mar 10 - 03:29 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 16 Mar 10 - 04:09 PM
ruairiobroin 03 Apr 10 - 07:00 PM
EBarnacle 11 Feb 11 - 11:34 PM
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Subject: Is traditional song finished?
From: Paul Reade
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 05:14 PM

Have we reached the stage yet where there are no more "traditional" songs left to be collected?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: skipy
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 05:21 PM

The songs of today are the traditional songs of tommorrow, so start collecting now, however 99.5% are shite! So only collect in the folk clubs!
Skipy


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 05:37 PM

You might better ask, "Is traditional life finished?"

I'll tell you something. It is fairly much finished in the developed word, having been destroyed by consumerism and a barrage of commercialism which profit on the ephemeral and exploit the traditional only when they see a quick profit to be made thereby...and in the process, make traditional forms shallow, ephemeral, vulgar, and devoid of real meaning.

Traditional life is far from finished in the less developed world and the less affluent societies and communities on this planet where the old traditional values are still very strong.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Deckman
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 05:55 PM

Perfectly said, L.H. Superb! But as far as traditional music, of course it's NOT dead. It's always being written. Why ... LOOK OUT ... JOKE COMING ... I just write a traditional ballad last week!

But serioulsy, life changing events happen every day, and this is the stuff of ballads. Our values change, grow, diminish, etc. But the lifelongs tales that move us, inspire us, continue. We can't predict what the "traditional ballads" of tommorow will sound like, but trust me ... they will be sung ... and argued about! CHEERS, bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 06:57 PM

Wasn't it Sharp who said that there could be little doubt that every significant traditional English song had been collected - and then weeks later up popped "the Bitter Withy"?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 06:59 PM

Given that Cecil Sharpe bowdlerised most of what he collected, to comply with Victorian moral standards, or what we are asked to believe were the moral standards of the era, we are in fact indebted to a seventeenth century clergyman, who had the nous to save the original, unexpurgated versions.

Who is able to say that there will not be another saviour out there, who will fill in the gaps in our knowledge?

We will only know when it happens, so, NO! Traditional song is not finished until we are so far in the future as to be certain that there is naught left to find.

And that IMHO will be Never!

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bernard
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 07:03 PM

There's still loads of stuff on the Paul Graney tapes that hasn't been heard yet... okay, a lot of it is probably 'mainstream' stuff by today's standards, but there must be some gems still hidden therein!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 07:37 PM

Sharp said it was, The BBC project in the 50s was said to be the mopping up of the remnants, Tom Munnelly, working in Ireland from the 60s to the 90s (a full time collector, probably the most prolific in these islands with 22,000 songs to his credit) described his work as "a race with the undertaker". All managed to unearth new material, but each were right in their way. The songs they were collecting were being remembered rather than part of a living tradition. The possible exceptions were the Irish and Scots Travelling communities among which old songs (particularly ballads) were still circulating and being adapted, and new ones were being made and absorbed.
As far as the Irish were concerned, this stopped somewhere between August 1973 and Easter 1975, when it became possible to buy portable televisions at an affordable price. Can't speak for the Scots, but I would guess the same would apply more or less.
Since then, the only way to argue that traditional songs are still being made, absorbed and adapted to serve the communities has been to attempt to either redifine the terms folk, tradition and community, or abandon any definition altogether and claim that everything not sung by a horse is folk and traditional - you choose.
This is not to say that songs yet undiscovered will not turn up in one form or another.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Genie
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 08:44 PM

Little Hawk, you are right that "raditional life is far from finished in the less developed world and the less affluent societies and communities on this planet where the old traditional values are still very strong."

However, with the spread of mass communication means and the increasing dominance of multinational coroporations even in "underdeveloped" countries, traditional music is as much in danger of extinction as are the small, local, mom-and-pop businesses that used to be seen in most cities and villages.   To the extent that, whenever a song or poem catches the fancy of the public by 'word of mouth' (or YouTube), it gets grabbed, sanitized, Hollywood-ized, and somehow copyright protected by a record label, it becomes harder and harder for a real oral tradition or "folk tradition" to flourish.    That said, I don't think we should expect today's folk/traditional music to sound like that of the 17th C. any more than we should expect today's working class people to dress like their ancestors did several generations back.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 09:24 PM

No, Jim ~ you are not allowing there for children's songs and football chants: both of which genres have as much right to be called 'folksongs', 'traditional songs', or what-you-will, & which haven't stopped being created, varied, developed.... They are sung on special occasions {at the match, playing in the playground} which aren't going to be replaced by telly-watching as were the Travellers' evenings when previously [as you relate] the would have sung.

So how about that then for a negative response to the thread title?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 10:20 PM

Some songs are works in progress.

Some songs get finished.


Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Genie
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 11:16 PM

Good point, MtheGM. As long as there are children, there will always be "the folk process" and "traditional" songs. Their natural inventiveness and susceptibility to mondegreens will ever keep hand-me-down songs evolving.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Genie
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 11:17 PM

Art, I would add:
Some songs really should be finished (i.e, completed) and the "folk process" doesn't improve them any longer, but usually degrades them.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 11:23 PM

different traditions, different lives, different communities, different tools, different ways of transmission.   The rules apply, just to different standards than what we are used to.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,erbert
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 11:40 PM

Yeah.. easy.. you can keep on adding stuff to old trad songs no problem.
like f'rinstance that one about the grumpy old bloke who comes home and finds his mrs in bed
with that young fella Matty Groves.
Right, so after the big bloody sword fight and everyone is stabbed and dies..

well anyone can make up a new verse like eg. the old bloke is on the run from the police
and holes up in a pub with a sexy young waitress,
make that twins, both red heads..
..and then theres another big gory fight with their dad the pub landlord, and a shoot-out with the cops and a horse chase,
and then the ghost of his mrs can come back and haunt him
and drive him mad and he falls out a window and gets impaled
on an iron fence, or something like that.

Then one of the sexy twins sells her story to a sunday newspaper
and gets a job as a model and gets very rich
and her own reality TV show.

And thats the beauty of Traditional Song.

In another 100 years someone else can add a verse about all the dead ghosts
coming back to haunt the sexy model when she's an old lady
and she goes mad and kills everyone in a local shopping mall..

or something like that...????


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Genie
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 11:50 PM

Well, erbert, Matty Groves was, presumably a real person who lived - and did certain things - and died in a certain era. Sure, maybe today's singers will bowdlerize the song and story.
But we have real-life sagas taking place in every new generation -- like the story of Bonnie and Clyde or the tale of John and Lorena Bobbit -- and those can always spawn new songs (sometimes in the form of a rap?) for those new generations.

It's not just about watering down or screwing up the stories from earlier times.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Feb 10 - 11:57 PM

You are quite correct in what you say, Genie.

I have found the Third World really inspiring in trips to places like Cuba and Trinidad...the first being socialist, the second being capitalist. The richness of community life and social life and the strength of tradition, including home-made music is immediately apparent in both countries. Small "mom and pop" businesses are everywhere in those countries, as are self-taught musicians and strong traditions in family and neighborhood life.

Their young people are much more mature in outlook and much more self-sufficient than their average counterparts in affluent societies, and they also show more respect for the older people.

Trinidad has a couple of major problems, however. Poverty and CRIME! There is a tremendous amount of crime in Trinidad, including theft, break-ins, kidnapping (for ransom), and violent crimes. I'd almost call it an epidemic of crime. It's driven by extreme poverty for many alongside visible affluence for a few. You don't feel safe after dark on the streets in Trinidad.

You do feel safe in Cuba. Almost no crime there...and not much visible presence of the police either.

Traditions seem strong in both countries. So does family life, and people's religious convictions, which I find run much deeper with Third World people (on average).


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Genie
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 12:55 AM

Poverty and crime are indeed serious problems, Hawk. I daresay, though, that both have give rise to many a good folk ballad over the centuries. As has religion.

I'd love to see such countries rise above scourges of that sort, but I hope the resiliency and music of the people will not die as the standard of living rises.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 06:35 AM

I don't see a problem about "community". Communities depend on contiguity. Once that necessarily had to be physical, and mobility was limited (or at least slow). First modern travel enabled physical contact at greater distances. Now contiguity can be virtual.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 07:08 AM

There is a rather depressing quote in Geert Mak's little book about the Galata Bridge in Istanbul. He was talking to an urban busker on the Kurdish shepherd's flute, who said "I'm the last person to preserve the tradition of Kurdish shepherd's flute music - back home all the shepherds are out on the hills listening to their iPods all day long".


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Captain Farrell
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 07:24 AM

No


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 07:26 AM

End of Matty Groves -

Well that's the way this song's been sung since I don't know when*
But Matty he's pissed of with this in two thousand and ten*
"Is there a doctor in the house?" young Matty then he cried
"For a Million times I've fought this fight and million times I've died"

Up spake the St John's ambulance man "I'll patch you up real fast
With my first aid book, my TCP and my box of elastoplast"
Lord Arnold took his sword once more, it's edge just like a razor
But Matty beamed down James T Kirk, who zapped him with his phaser

* Words change to suit the year

Not mine I's sorry to say but almost traditional at our club now!

DeG


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Flashmeister
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 07:37 AM

I think what Jack is saying is rather poignant as there does appear to be a rapidly dwindling culture of active participation in traditional arts and music in favour of more transient and throw-away 'music' on the whim of whatever zietgeist is currently tittilating the pop moguls that have sadly saturated the vast majority of music heard in this country.
I do, however, think that music being made by contemporary musicians shouldn't be dismissed out of hand as I believe it will eventually become part of the traditional culture - especially songs written in a trad or story-telling style as it is all capturing a little piece of history in song. Take for example the miners' protest songs - recent history but nevertheless when sung in a folk session setting very much absorbed into the genre and style of traditional music - happily sat alongside little Matty Groves and Lord Randall.
There are plenty of musicians writing in the traditional style and I'm hearing those more contemporary songs already being passed around in session and folk club circles - it's not that traditional song is finished it's merely that in some cases the paradigm has shifted somewhat in the way that trad music is being played and kept alive - you're more likely to hear a shanty in a folk club now than on a boat! :-)


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,ruairiobroin
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 08:07 AM

i would have thought that to be traditional it had to be vulgar .


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 08:10 AM

Would you, ruair? ~~ Well, goodness, how sad.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: treewind
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 08:13 AM

"a rapidly dwindling culture of active participation in traditional arts and music"

I wonder.

We see the music scene dominated by mass-marketed stuff designed to make money, but there are still a few people making their own music. Before 100 years ago, that type of mass market didn't exist and most of us simply didn't hear any music at all from one week to the next. I'd guess that about the same number of people were making music for themselves then as are now - it's just that they are lost in the noise now whereas in the past they were much more noticeable and unusual.

Some kinds of amateur and independent music making are more accessible now than they used to be. Making and publishing recorded music is now a cottage industry, whereas you used to have to pay huge sums for studios and manufacturing. Anyone can make a CD now, or put their songs on a download site. Or make music videos for YouTube, as I've discovered recently.

Many of the songs collected in Sharp and RVW's time had filtered down from the music halls and theatres, so they were probably quite recently composed. I agree that the songs written today will become the trad songs of tomorrow - not all of them, but the good ones that tell a story or describe timeless human conditions and emotions that future listeners will be able to relate to, and have tunes and words that can be learned, taken away and sung again.

Incidentally there a lot of material that was collected in early 1900's but hasn't been published yet. The research isn't over yet...

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 09:06 AM

I think that Rory refers to "vulges" - the people, for those who remember their Latin. If so he is probably right, but in one sense we are all working class now, and in another the vast majority of us are middle class now so that the lumpenproletariat is rare, although there is a substantial underclass.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 09:15 AM

"you are not allowing there for children's songs and football chants:"
You are right of course Mike; I should have given a nod to the tiny handful of exceptions, but I do think they fade into pale insignificance next to what has disappeared. Even the children's songs are very much on the wane, or so I am told by teacher friends.
It is the adult culture I was referring to (I can't speak for the terraces, where I wouldn't venture without protective clothing!)
In spite of very much unqualified and unsubstantiated declarations to the contrary we have become passive recipients of our culture, playing no part whatever in either its making nor its transmission - they have even provided us with hand controls so we don't have to rise out of our armchairs to be entertained or inspired. The present 'canned culture' that we now sold NO LONG SPEAKS FOR US as it once did through our traditional songs and stories.
One of the things we first noticed when we started recording traditional singers, both from Travellers with a living, if ailing tradition, and here in Ireland, with on that had largely disappeared, though still very much within living memory, was how relatively newly composed songs fitted in functionally with the old ones, not just as entertainment, but also as carriers of information, emotions, aspirations, values.... all the things that made the tradition a homogenous whole, as the Topic series put it 'a voice of the people'.
I believe that it is this that has disappeared, not the songs, which will be with us forever in one form or another.
This is why I believe that the jury is very much still 'out' on whether Anahata's statement that "the songs written today will become the trad songs of tomorrow" comes to fruition. I very much hope so; it was MacColl's dream and has always been mine, but.......
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jorrox
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 09:37 AM

It's unlikely that there will be any unattributable songs for future generations, as a result of technology such the device upon which your eyes are trained.

The reason why songs are 'trad' or unattributed is surely just down to the method of distribution of the song.

Now that just about everyone can record and distribute their own songs, the authorship should hardly ever be in doubt.

So, does that mean that traditional song is finished?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Genie
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 09:55 AM

What is likely to keep today's songs (and any others published after 1922 in the US) from becoming "traditional" or "folk music" is the current US Copyright law, which The Mouse got thru Congress a decade or two ago.   Copyrights now extend to many decades beyond the death of the songwriter/author -- far enough that a song is likely to have fallen out of popular favor long before it becomes public domain.

This doesn't keep the songs from being sung but it does put a damper on their being performed or recorded professionally.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: theleveller
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 11:03 AM

Of course, as has been pointed out, songs can no longer become traditional in the 'traditional' sense as our society has totally changed and that means of transmitting and recording songs is no longer in existence. However, that doesn't mean that the skills and desire to produce songs in the traditional style or styles have been lost. Traditionally-inspired songs are still being produced and, to my mind, have no less merit than the conventionally traditional ones.

A good analogy would be, say, the Windsor chairmaker who uses the same skills and artistry as were employed in previous centuries to produce a chair that is not a reproduction but a genuine piece that is the result of the extension of a craft that has been around for hundreds of years. True, it will be sold to a different clientele, used in a different setting and, because it will probably bear the maker's name, it will not be anonymous, but it will not be in any way inferior to the chairs made by previous generations.

We value the skills of traditional furniture makers, thatchers, trug makers, willow weavers, dry stone wallers and the like, so let us not undervalue the products of today's songwriters who create wonderful offerings in a traditional style.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 12:05 PM

"However, that doesn't mean that the skills and desire to produce songs in the traditional style or styles have been lost."
Absolutely right; but when I look at S O'Ps shopping list of what passes for folk in some/many of todays clubs I am left with the impression that this is very much on the wan too - please prove me wrong - please.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 12:11 PM

Dont know about songs but many of the traditional song composers of the folk of the lower incomes would never be able to afford to get into or stay long at venues in the contemporary market place- they would be excluded by economic segregation.

This is a bad problem and seems to me is limiting transmission as well as new composition.

They could also not attend the folk conferences either! Probably not be adequately clothed and bathed and be sober enough to be allowed in either. Such is the development and growth of elitism even in the so called folk world.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: theleveller
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 12:21 PM

"please prove me wrong - please."

OK, I'll try. Well, for a start there's the songs of Richard Grainger, Brother Crow, Wendy Arrowsmith, Jim Radford, Anna Shannon, Penni MacLaren Walker...oh, and on Saturday, I heard Gordon Tyrell sing a superb song he'd written called Leeds Bridge. Not forgetting, of course, Mike Waterson. And that's just a few people I know of personally.

Every year Richard Grainger runs the Klondike Songwriting Award and there's always a host of really good entries, mostly from songwriters from the north east. This year it was won by Jim Radford, with Wendy Arrowsmith and me as runners up. From what I can see, the craft is still very much alive.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bert
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 12:25 PM

Finished? It was never started!

What we speak of as 'traditional' is just a vignette of what people were singing when the collectors were on the rampage.

Ordinary people will go on singing as they always have, regardless of collectors and folk clubs.

And songwriters will go on producing songs of all genres and all qualities despite snide remarks from 'Folkies'.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 12:29 PM

Isn't there an active carol-singing tradition in the south of England?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 12:33 PM

"What we speak of as 'traditional' is just a vignette of what people were singing when the collectors were on the rampage"

No, it isn't. 'Traditional' in this context refers to a specific body of English-language balladry and song, created and passed on under specific conditions. Sharp, etc. deliberately overlooked much of "what people were singing" (music hall, and other more recent commercial compositions) because it did not fall within their working definition of 'traditional' or 'folksong'.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bert
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 12:49 PM

You're right Goose Gander.

I should have said "What we speak of as 'traditional' is just a vignette of what collectors thought was 'traditional' when they were on the rampage"

Fortunately we have DT which actually collects the real stuff.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 01:00 PM

Wrong again, Bert. Those early collectors, for all their faults, had a clear idea of what they were looking for and we have literally thousands of traditional songs available to us, thanks to their efforts. You may have a hard time understanding and accepting this, but much of this music would have been lost without Sharp, Lomax, Randolph, etc. They didn't create it, but they preserved it.

And who is this DT? I'd like to thank him. If you're referring to the Digital Tradition, then you must know that much of the lyrics and tunes contained therein are taken from the collections of early folklorists.

But why let facts get in the way of a snide comment?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bert
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 01:27 PM

...but much of this music would have been lost without Sharp, Lomax, Randolph...

Of course, I didn't say otherwise. What I am trying to say is 'They missed a lot' Perhaps that was of necessity because they didn't have the almost unlimited computer databases that we enjoy today.

I think that traditional song really includes a lot more than some purists would have us believe. There is a tradition of singing in London that rarely includes what we tend to call traditional music.

It is a tradition that leads on from songs like 'While London Sleeps' to Streets of London, and rarely includes the 'Fair Maid of Islington'.

And when I say 'it never started' I mean that tradition is an ongoing thing with no definable beginning.

...And who is this DT? I'd like to thank him. If you're referring to the Digital Tradition, then you must know that much of the lyrics and tunes contained therein are taken from the collections of early folklorists...

Yes it is Digital Tradition, and when you say 'much of the lyrics and tunes contained therein' also includes much that isn't, which is kinda what I was saying.

And don't be so up tight. Viewing a valid comment as a 'snide remark' shows more about your attitude than perhaps you would really like to reveal.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 01:45 PM

The songs of London are among the best documented of anywhere, and from at least the 16th century have been the starting point for a huge number of later-collected rural English folksongs (as the collectors of those songs were well aware).

I've no idea what "While London Sleeps" was, but tunes like "Buggering Oates, Prepare Thy Neck" have a rather longer track record than "Streets of London".


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bert
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 01:57 PM

...tunes like "Buggering Oates, Prepare Thy Neck" have a rather longer track record than "Streets of London"...

That doesn't mean that "Streets of London" is not part of an ongoing tradition.

And if you don't know "While London Sleeps" it doesn't say much for the statement that Songs of London are among the best documented.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 02:19 PM

Bert, it was you who made a distinction between 'traditional' as collected by folklorists "on the rampage"; and the DT, which is "the real thing." It might be interesting to see what percentage of lyrics and tunes in the DT are drawn from collections of folklore, and which come from other sources. Unless you are going to make an 'all music is traditional' argument, then you should be able to understand that folklorists with limited time and resources had to first define what they understood to be traditional, and then focus their efforts upon collecting what they could of this material.

That being said, there is a range of possible approaches: Sharp collected older ballads that had been in circulation for some time and were unquestionably traditional; the Lomaxes leaned toward such material but also recorded newer songs; Randolph collected just about anything, including stage songs, commercial hillbilly songs, etc. So I'm still failing to grasp your "valid point" unless you are simply peeved that these folks and others weren't as all-encompassing as you feel they should have been.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 02:27 PM

"Ordinary people will go on singing as they always have, regardless of collectors and folk clubs."

I'm very doubtful about this, although of course it depends on who you describe as 'ordinary people'. Treewind is correct in saying that cheap home recording technologies, and internet sharing sites like Youtube, are providing opportunities to democratize music-making. Thirty-four years ago we had people saying that Punk Rock was the new Folk Music and, in the sense that you only needed a a Woolworths guitar and amp and a couple of chords, they were right. But both of those examples (and of course the modern 'folk scene' itself) concern self-selected groups of 'musicians', rather than the much wider community that the phrase 'ordinary people' conjures up.

To hear people singing while they worked or went about their business was once common, according to many accounts. Parents sang to their children. People gathered in pubs to sing together. Many of the traditional singers who were actually asked about it, told of siblings, parents, uncles and aunts who sang. I don't believe that any of those instances of 'ordinary people' singing is common today.

I'm with MtheGM in looking to football chants and children's rhymes as amongst the last outposts of traditional singing (although if you talk to Sam Lee he will tell you that singing is still going on in several Englsih traveller communities).

Jim Carroll wrote:
"Even the children's songs are very much on the wane, or so I am told by teacher friends... It is the adult culture I was referring to (I can't speak for the terraces, where I wouldn't venture without protective clothing!)"

There were still old songs circulating and new ones doing the rounds when my younger son was in primary school seven years ago. Not sure about now. As for the terraces, I've recently resumed my attendance at Old Trafford after a long break (no more terraces, and no protective clothing required these days!). Although the old custom of gathering on the Stretford End to sing for an hour or two before kick-off has now disappeared, I can report that several of the songs I knew in the 1970s are still around, and new ones are being composed, either to tunes previously associated with United chants, or as parodies of opposing supporters' songs, or to fresh tunes drawn from popular music in its widest sense (new chants are rehearsed in the pub beforehand). Whether they are up there with 'Tam Lin' as examples of great 'folk art' is open to argument, but the oral tradition is still alive there.

Before I go, I just have to question the sixth post in this thread, since no-one else seems to have:

"Given that Cecil Sharpe bowdlerised most of what he collected..."

Er... in what sense is that a 'given'?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 02:36 PM

Jim Carroll

please prove me wrong - please.

Come to Lewes and see for yourself. Here you'll hear the songs of Graeme Miles, Brian Bedford, Roger Bryant, Mick Ryan, Mike O'Connor, Barry Temple, Dave Weber and many more amongst a wealth of traditional material.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bert
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 02:40 PM

Goose, I don't believe that all music is traditional. It is just that my idea of traditional is closer to Dick's than that of most purists.

...first define what they understood to be traditional, and then focus their efforts upon collecting what they could of this material.... Yes of course, and we are greatly indebted to them.

I tend to think that tradition is an ongoing living thing rather than a museum piece. Not so much that we don't need the purists and collectors, but that we really need more of them covering a greater range of song.

Brian, Yes things are changing. People are sharing songs on Youtube nowadays where they used to share songs at parties and in pubs. But they are still sharing songs.

Another good trend is that people are writing more songs now. Songwriting clubs are a much bigger thing now that they were even ten years ago.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 02:47 PM



There are tens of thousands of them so it's hardly surprising that somebody living in a different country might miss one that you happen to know. (Have you read the whole of the Roxburghe collection? I have).


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: treewind
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 02:56 PM

It's unlikely that there will be any unattributable songs for future generations

It's well known that some songs have already been robustly asserted as traditional when the author was still alive, even to the face of the actual author.

"Attributable", yes, but not everybody bothers. Many will pass in to the body of songs that "everybody knows" or that were learnt from another singer who got it from someone else... and it will take significant academic research to find out who the author was.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 03:11 PM

"Come to Lewes and see for yourself."

I am not arguing for one minute that people are not writing songs Bryan - of course they are. But by and large they are not leaving the greenhouse conditions of the folk club, more often than not they remain unchanged and unadapted (except for a few self-concious tweaks) and there is a whole mass of people out there who never get to hear them. One of the great failures of the revival is that it has failed to engage with the population at large and it has failed to draw the attention of the general public to their own songs - not finger pointing, I was as much a part of that failure as anybody.
The arbitrary abandoning of folk song by many of the clubs and replacing it with 'singing horse music' has exacerbated that situation.
Anybody tempted to dip their toes into folk song for the first time is as likely to find SO'P's rag-bag as they are to find good folk songs and ballads well enough sung to catch their imaginations the way mine was (by the Spinners) in the early sixties.
Unfortunately the Universe doesn't start and end in Lewes.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bert
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 03:12 PM

...(Have you read the whole of the Roxburghe collection? I have)...

No, but if I was to discuss a song on Mudcat, then I would look it up before comparing it with another song.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 03:35 PM

Jim - at the risk of appearing pedantic, SO'P has referred to the rag-bag on a couple of occasions purely as a report of what he has found in some folk clubs. It ain't actually his rag-bag, although your frequent quoting of it (and admittedly he appears to have handed you a stick to beat him with) attributes it to him as if it was his bag rather than a pre-existing bag whose contents he has merely examined and commented on. Having attended singarounds where SO'P has regaled us with a few songs, I can safely report that his own particular rag-bag (for folk context purposes) consists almost entirely of tradition English-speaking songs, ballads and stories (with the odd curveball thrown in for good measure). At the risk of bigging up a mate, it's always a pleasure.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 04:05 PM

SC - I believe he has argued on various occasions that either all or no songs are folk and has used his shopping list as proof - suggest you read his latest offering on 'In Praise of Traddies' (if you do, could you or someone be so kind as to explain it to me - I can't understand a ******* word).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 05:50 PM

I was staying out of this, but...

Anybody tempted to dip their toes into folk song for the first time is as likely to find SO'P's rag-bag as they are to find good folk songs and ballads well enough sung to catch their imaginations the way mine was (by the Spinners) in the early sixties.

More likely I'd say, old man - certainly in my experience. But don't shoot the messenger - that's the reality, one in which The Spinners legacy looms large enough I would have thought.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: JedMarum
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 05:54 PM

are all the apples picked from the tree?

Maybe, after a concerted effort all of the apples are picked, but it will fruit again.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 06:56 PM

Definately not!, whilst there may only be a few undiscovered gems lurking in someones distant memory, as long as there are songwriters producing songs 'in the tradition' then the tradition itself continues. Folk song is a living process and as long as there is a respect for the original, then I see no problem with changing lyrics or adding verses to breath new life into traditional songs. I have done so myself with the version of 'Star of the County Down' I perform, and continue to write songs that I try to give a traditional feel to, often drawing on folk tales and historical events. an example can be found here, http://www.myspace.com/thebountyhounds 'Eyes of Flame' is a song I wrote to tell the tale of Black Shuck, which anyone from East Anglia will be familiar with. I hope with this, I am in my own small way, keeping the tradition alive.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 07:23 PM

Once more round the block, eh? I think the question is unanswerable definitively anyway. Just think: 50 years from now, or 100, or 150, others will attempt to answer it too. And I think that their answer will be more accurate than any we can give now, simply by virtue of their having more facts available to them.

What will their answer be? I don't care. All I know is that there are some great songs around, some of which are traditional by today's rules.Perhaps more will be discovered, or perhaps our descendants will look at the songs written in our period "in the tradition" and consider them traditional too. So what? Whatever their answer, it will be right - because we will be dead and unable to argue the toss or articulate the 1957 definition for them.

Meanwhile, in my lifetime, I am just having fun listening to, and still discovering to me yet unknown traditional songs. And that's plenty good enough for me.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 07:38 PM

"But don't shoot the messenger - that's the reality"
No, it's only your, and the small band of 'anything goes' merchants' reality, but mine is the one that's researched and document and published and archived and will continue to survive long after your recent wish that no more traditional songs be sung because - to paraphrase because I cant be arsed - 'Harry Cox, Phil Tanner, Sam Larner, et al have done them to perfection' - leaving the stage free to do whatever it is that you do.
Is that really what people want? If so, let's all pull stumps and go home.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 07:45 PM

...(Have you read the whole of the Roxburghe collection? I have)...
No, but if I was to discuss a song on Mudcat, then I would look it up before comparing it with another song.


I didn't compare "While London Sleeps" with anything, because I don't know it. I do know "Streets of London", though, and I don't give much for the chances of its feeble tune ever being reused for other songs in the way that the broadside ballad tunes of 17th century London were.

London has a line of urban tradition that runs from Tudor times to the present day, where the usual rhetoric is melodrama, imaginative abuse and hilarious outbursts of bile. Leon Rosselson is maybe part of it, McTell certainly isn't.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 07:55 PM

"Is traditional song finished?"

Ask me at midnight Thursday. I started it yesterday.


KIND gentlemen, will you be patient awhile?
Ay, and then you shall hear anon
A very good ballad of bold Robin Hood,
And of his man, brave Little John.
In Locksly town, in Nottinghamshire,
In merry sweet Locksly town,
There bold Robin Hood he was born and was bred,
Bold Robin of famous renown.
The father of Robin a forester was,
And he shot in a lusty long bow,
Two north country miles and an inch at a shot,
As the Pinder of Wakefield does know.
For he brought Adam Bell, and Clim of the Clugh,
And William a Clowdesle
To shoot with our forrester for forty mark,
And the forrester beat them all three.
His mother was neece to the Coventry knight,
Which Warwickshire men call Sir Guy;
For he slew the blue bore that hangs up at the gate,
Or mine host of The Bull tells a lye.
Her brother was Gamwel, of Great Gamwel Hall,
And a noble house-keeper was he,
Ay, as ever broke bread in sweet Nottinghamshire,
And a squire of famous degree.
The mother of Robin said to her husband,
My honey, my love, and my dear,
Let Robin and I ride this morning to Gamwel,
To taste of my brothers good cheer.
And he said, I grant thee thy boon, gentle Joan,
Take one of my horses, I pray;
The sun is a rising, and therefore make haste,
For to-morrow is Christmas-day.
Then Robin Hoods fathers grey gelding was brought,
And sadled and bridled was he;
God wot, a blew bonnet, his new suit of cloaths,
And a cloak that did reach to his knee.
She got on her holiday kirtle and gown,
They were of a light Lincoln green;
The cloath was homespun, but for colour and make
It might a beseemed our queen.
And then Robin got on his basket-hilt sword,
And his dagger on his tother side,
And said, My dear mother, let's haste to be gone,
We have forty long miles to ride.
When Robin had mounted his gelding so grey,
His father, without any trouble,
Set her up behind him, and bad her not fear,
For his gelding had oft carried double.
And when she was settled, they rode to their neighbours,
And drank and shook hands with them all;
And then Robin gallopt, and never gave ore,
Till they lighted at Gamwel Hall.
And now you may think the right worshipful squire
Was joyful his sister to see;
For he kist her and kist her, and swore a great oath,
Thou art welcome, kind sister, to me.
To-morrow, when mass had been said in the chappel,
Six tables were coverd in the hall,
And in comes the squire, and makes a short speech,
It was, Neighbours, you're welcome all.
But not a man here shall taste my March beer,
Till a Christmas carrol he sing:
Then all clapt their hands, and they shouted and sung,
Till the hall and the parlour did ring.
Now mustard and braun, roast beef and plumb pies,
Were set upon every table:
And noble George Gamwel said, Eat and be merry,
And drink too, as long as you're able.
When dinner was ended, his chaplain said grace,
And, 'Be merry, my friends,' said the squire;
'It rains, and it blows, but call for more ale,
And lay some more wood on the fire.
'And now call ye Little John hither to me,
For Little John is a fine lad
At gambols and juggling, and twenty such tricks
As shall make you merry and glad.'
When Little John came, to gambols they went,
Both gentleman, yeoman and clown;
And what do you think? Why, as true as I live,
Bold Robin Hood put them all down.
And now you may think the right worshipful squire
Was joyful this sight for to see;
For he said, Cousin Robin, thou'st go no more home,
But tarry and dwell here with me.
Thou shalt have my land when I dye, and till then
Thou shalt be the staff of my age;
'Then grant me my boon, dear uncle,' said Robin,
'That Little John may be my page.'
And he said, Kind cousin, I grant thee thy boon;
With all my heart, so let it be;
'Then come hither, Little John,' said Robin Hood,
'Come hither, my page, unto me.
'Go fetch my bow, my longest long bow,
And broad arrows, one, two, or three;
For when it is fair weather we'll into Sherwood,
Some merry pastime to see.'
When Robin Hood came into merry Sherwood,
He winded his bugle so clear,
And twice five and twenty good yeomen and bold
Before Robin Hood did appear.
'Where are your companions all?' said Robin Hood,
'For still I want forty and three;'
Then said a bold yeoman, Lo, yonder they stand,
All under a green-wood tree.
As that word was spoke, Clorinda came by;
The queen of the shepherds was she;
And her gown was of velvet as green as the grass,
And her buskin did reach to her knee.
Her gait it was graceful, her body was straight,
And her countenance free from pride;
A bow in her hand, and quiver and arrows
Hung dangling by her sweet side.
Her eye-brows were black, ay, and so was her hair,
And her skin was as smooth as glass;
Her visage spoke wisdom, and modesty too;
Sets with Robin Hood such a lass!
Said Robin Hood, Lady fair, whither away?
O whither, fair lady, away?
And she made him answer, To kill a fat buck;
For to-morrow is Titbury day.
Said Robin Hood, Lady fair, wander with me
A little to yonder green bower;
There sit down to rest you, and you shall be sure
Of a brace or a lease in an hour.
And as we were going towards the green bower,
Two hundred good bucks we espy'd;
She chose out the fattest that was in the herd,
And she shot him through side and side.
'By the faith of my body,' said bold Robin Hood,
'I never saw woman like thee;
And comst thou from east, ay, or comst thou from west,
Thou needst not beg venison of me.
'However, along to my bower you shall go,
And taste of a forresters meat:'
And when we come thither, we found as good cheer
As any man needs for to eat.
For there was hot venison, and warden pies cold,
Cream clouted, with honey-combs plenty;
And the sarvitors they were, beside Little John,
Good yeomen at least four and twenty.
Clorinda said, Tell me your name, gentle sir;
And he said, 'Tis bold Robin Hood:
Squire Gamwel's my uncle, but all my delight
Is to dwell in the merry Sherwood.
For 'tis a fine life, and 'tis void of all strife.
'So 'tis, sir,' Clorinda reply'd;
'But oh,' said bold Robin, 'How sweet would it be,
If Clorinda would be my bride!'
She blusht at the motion; yet, after a pause
Said, Yes, sir, and with all my heart;
'Then let's send for a priest,' said Robin Hood,
'And be married before we do part.'
But she said, It may not be so, gentle sir,
For I must be at Titbury feast;
And if Robin Hood will go thither with me,
I'll make him the most welcome guest.
Said Robin Hood, Reach me that buck, Little John,
For I'll go along with my dear;
Go bid my yeomen kill six brace of bucks,
And meet me to-morrow just here.
Before we had ridden five Staffordshire miles,
Eight yeomen, that were too bold,
Bid Robin Hood stand, and deliver his buck;
A truer tale never was told.
'I will not, faith!' said bold Robin: 'Come, John,
Stand to me, and we'll beat em all:'
Then both drew their swords, an so cut em and slasht em
That five of them did fall.
The three that remaind calld to Robin for quarter,
And pitiful John beggd their lives;
When John's boon was granted, he gave them good counsel,
And so sent them home to their wives.
This battle was fought near to Titbury town,
When the bagpipes bated the bull;
I am king of the fidlers, and sware 'tis a truth,
And I call him that doubts it a gull.
For I saw them fighting, and fidld the while,
And Clorinda sung, Hey derry down!
The bumpkins are beaten, put up thy sword,Bob,
And now let's dance into the town.
Before we came to it, we heard a strange shouting,
And all that were in it lookd madly;
For some were a bull-back, some dancing a morris,
And some singing Arthur-a-Bradly.
And there we see Thomas, our justices clerk,
And Mary, to whom he was kind;
For Tom rode before her, and calld Mary, Madam,
And kist her full sweetly behind.
And so may your worships. But we went to dinner,
With Thomas and Mary and Nan;
They all drank a health to Clorinda, and told her
Bold Robin Hood was a fine man.
When dinner was ended, Sir Roger, the parson
Of Dubbridge, was sent for in haste;
He brought his mass-book, and he bade them take hands,
And he joynd them in marriage full fast.
And then, as bold Robin Hood and his sweet bride
Went hand in hand to the green bower,
The birds sung with pleasure in merry Sherwood,
And 'twas a most joyful hour.
And when Robin came in the sight of the bower,
'Where are my yeomen?' said he;
And Little John answered, Lo, yonder they stand,
All under the green-wood tree.
Then a garland they brought her, by two and by two,
And plac'd them upon the bride's head;
The music struck up, and we all fell to dance,
Till the bride and the groom were a-bed.
And what they did there must be counsel to me,
Because they lay long the next day,
And I had haste home, but I got a good piece
Of the bride-cake, and so came away.
Now out, alas! I had forgotten to tell ye
That marryd they were with a ring;
And so will Nan Knight, or be buried a maiden,
And now let us pray for the king:
That he may get children, and they may get more,
To govern and do us some good;
And then I'll make ballads in Robin Hood's bower,
And sing em in merry Sherwood.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: robinia
Date: 24 Feb 10 - 08:18 PM

"Given that Cecil Sharpe bowdlerised most of what he collected..."   In what sense is that a given?    Thanks for bringing this up, Brian, because I question the assumption that Sharpe was personally responsible for any "bowlderising" of old ballads. Has anyone considered the possibility that singers modified their own language?   He was obviously a visitor from polite society, and older singers might well have felt a sense of constraint about what they sang...


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: theleveller
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 03:42 AM

"by and large they are not leaving the greenhouse conditions of the folk club"

Not true in my case and with a lot of the songwriters I mentioned earlier. The songs get aired regularly in pubs, schools, on local radio stations and at private parties and gatherings. I don't go to folk clubs all that often these days but I did have a retired farmer who was moved to tears when I sang a song in a village pub recently and he came up and asked for the words. I can only speak from personal experience but it does differ considerably from yours, Jim.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 04:09 AM

JC "Is that really what people want? If so, let's all pull stumps and go home."

SO'P is describing the kind of music *amateur musicians* might play when gathered together under the rough tag of 'folk club' but what is more rightly the singaround cum pub session, rather than the type of professional performer/performance that a proper folk club might offer up to it's paying audience.

I think some amateur musicians just want to gather in a sociable manner and make music together for fun. And it is fun. Whether they be playing their own compositions on electric keyboard or singing unaccompanied traditional songs. It's democratic, home-made, good-natured fun. The 'folk club' tag may be something of a misnomer in places, as what is played or sung might bare little or no resemblance to any kind of 'folk music' other than what may be found in the spirit of communal participation in (as opposed to passive consumption of) self-made entertainment. And as a participant in such affairs, I'm all for them.

Otherwise, I think it more likely that someone new (presumably young?) wanting to 'dip their toes' into folk, will hear a song by Bellowhead on the radio or telly and think about going to a Bellowhead gig or a folk festival as a consequence, rather than seeking out a folk club. That's my guess based on the types of thing young 'uns into music tend to do. I'm invariably the youngest bar the children at any club I've gone to, and I'm no longer young by general standards. So I think the liklihood of someone being turned off folk music as a consequence of attending an amateur music session is fairly remote IMHO. It may happen sometimes, but I'd be very surprised if it was a common enough occurance to make any difference to the demographic of those interested on folk song proper.

Having said that, clearly from what's said here at least, I think there is a dedicated band of traditional enthusiasts who would probably like to be able to go to an amateur folk clubs/singarounds and hear more traditional material played and sung. If they are frustrated with the status quo of the average amateur session however, then it's them as has to organise something to more specifically suit their tastes and wants rather than impose restrictive conditions on others - even if the 'folk club' tag has become a shorthand phrase synonomous with 'amateur acoustic music club in a pub' when used in some contexts.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 04:21 AM

"Is traditional song finished?"
No there are always another 47 verses!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 04:34 AM

>The 'folk club' tag may be something of a misnomer in places, as what is played or sung might bare little or no resemblance to any kind of 'folk music'<

The key word there is "might" because in my (albeit fairly limited) experience the ratio of old to new ranges considerably. Some amateur sessions can be chock full of the old songs in varying forms. Either way, it bothers me not. I enjoy the variety and the camraderie.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 05:08 AM

No, it's only your, and the small band of 'anything goes' merchants' reality,

For a start, it's not a small band, and it's hardly mine. Such a folk club exists at the end of my street & I haven't darkened its doors since early December largely because of the 'anything goes' approach which, whilst it doesn't inspire me, is the right and privilege of those who go and enjoy it. With one or two very small exceptions, I can't think of a single folk club or singaround I have been to in the past decade and more that wasn't more 'anything goes' than trad.

but mine is the one that's researched and document and published and archived and will continue to survive long after your recent wish that no more traditional songs be sung because - to paraphrase because I cant be arsed - 'Harry Cox, Phil Tanner, Sam Larner, et al have done them to perfection'

Good on you too, but at least have the decency to quote me in context. What I said was: If people never sang another note of these songs it would be no bother me at all; they have been sung by the masters - Phil Tanner, Davie Stewart, Harry Cox, Walter Pardon, Sam Larner, Willie Scott, Mrs Pearl Brewer of Arkansas et al - let that be enough to let them resound down the ages.

Allow to to explain. The Tradition and The Revival are two very different things. As far as listening to Traditional Songs goes, then I'll listen to Traditional Singers, rather than endure the increasingly MOR output of Revival Singers. The Traditional Songs are part of history - along with so much else, they are artefacts from a world which is lost to us. Times have changed, culture has moved on, but there will always be a few of us looking back - be it the folk song enthusiast in his or her local singaround, or the model railway enthusiast is his (or her? I think not somehow...) loft - or any number of other historical re-creators & re-enactors, from the Vikings to the English Civil War.

Folk Song Enthusiasm is a minority hobby which in no way reflects the glory of the Traditional Song or the singers named above. This is why it wouldn't overly bother me if people stopped singing them altogether. As I say, they have been sung by the masters, and this fact alone ensures their relevance to the future. Similarly, it wouldn't bother me if Model Railway Enthusiast stopped re-creating the past in miniature - it would hardly effect the reality that was the age of steam. Likewise Viking re-enactors play a very small part in my appreciation of Ancient Norse culture; their loss too I could easily endure.

But this is a far cry from wishing they'd stop; nothing could be further from the truth. My wish is that they keep on singing the old songs in greater abundance & greater passion; my wish is that new generations of singers address themselves assiduously to the true glories of The Tradition and that every folk club & singaround becomes besieged by passionate singers of traditional song & ballad; that roofs and spirits alike are raised with roaring choruses - to tell to all eternity we're glad that we're alive! indeed.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 05:50 AM

I don't think the songs themselves are finished but I suspect that a lot of people are probably finished with them.

The question of whether they continue to 'survive' depends on what we mean by survival. If we consider that to mean that people continue to gather together socially to sing and enjoy them then they probably aren't finished just yet but there are certainly fewer folk clubs around, for example, than there were 30 or 40 years ago. This suggests that even allowing for people dying off there are a lot of people who just don't feel like going to them anymore.

The music and songs you hear at sessions (certainly in England) are often sung by people who have learnt them from records or CDs - often many years ago - and who have their own favourites which don't vary much over time. One of the reasons for this is that many session and folk club singers learnt most of their repertoire as younger men and women and if they are still working they probably don't have much time to learn more songs (until they retire, at any rate) unless they work in the sort of fields that allow them the time to do so (such as teaching or academia) or, if they have families, until their kids grow up.   So much of their material is recycled and in performance isn't that different from Karaoke (a much-maligned activity, in my view).

A lot of hope for the future of traditional song is invested in younger musicians. Fair enough. Young musicians have an enormous range of resources available to them nowadays that allow them to access any form of music that interests them. If you look at the track listings of a lot of younger artists' albums you suspect that most of their 'collecting' has comprised of nothing more strenuous that going through their parents' record collections.

However, it seems to me that the decision of many young artists to invest their time and energy in traditional music is essentially a consumer choice and a career decision rather than a continuation of a living tradition where the music survives as part of a community's life rather than as a means to an end. Commercial decisions can be changed, of course, as commercial conditions vary.

At present, many traditional artists are able to make a fairly comfortable living playing at the many outdoor summer festivals in various countries as well as the various arts centres and arts festivals at indoor venues around the country. Part of the reason for that is that at present there is a generation of publicly-funded arts administrators who make programming decisions who grew up with the folk and college music scenes in the 60s and 70s.

So for the time being there is still a fairly lucrative amount of work available for established folk artists in what is essentially a nationalized branch of the entertainment industry. The same applies to the various academic courses in folk- and traditional-related music that now exist in the academic world in Britain and Ireland.   Again, that can change as economic circumstances change.    Whether that is still the case in 10 or 15 years remains to be seen.

Jim refers to Tom Munnelly describing his work as 'a race with the undertaker'. Without wanting to be morbid, the increasingly elderly audience for commercial folk music (including folk clubs), even at performances by younger artists, suggests that while there is no reason to expect the body of traditional song that has been collected, gathered, recorded and preserved (electronically and otherwise) to disappear, I wonder who's going to be listening to them in 20 years from now – and where.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 06:05 AM

Me on me cranial implants.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 06:20 AM

Excellent points from SO'P and Chris B.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 06:51 AM

""long after your recent wish that no more traditional songs be sung because - to paraphrase because I cant be arsed""

As one who leans toward what you erroneously call the "Anything Goes Brigade", may I ask do you have any evidence to support that slur about not wanting traditional songs to be sung because we "can't be arsed"?

Certainly, I have advocated a more relaxed attitude to what is welcomed in a folk club, and in fact am comfortable with the occasional pop or rock number.

I have, however, never attempted to discourage traditional song. Quite the opposite in truth. I simply try to encourage people to attend, and I can point to a number of people who came to clubs and sessions in which I was involved, with a 60s/70s, or a Jazz repertoire, who are now regularly performing traditional material.

The following is an excerpt from the publicity for a new monthly session hosted by the currently up and coming band "Wheeler Street".

"Wheeler Street took their name from the address of The Greyhound pub, to acknowledge the debt that they owed to the participants of the unfortunately now defunct singaround that was held there bi-monthly until it was closed two years ago.

In the three or four years since forming, Wheeler Street have won themselves thousands of fans all over the UK, most of whom would never have considered listening to traditional or folk music before.

Many of the tunes and songs they perform were first heard at The Greyhound and they continue to be influenced by the singarounds they still attend.

Wheeler Street are stiIl all under 21, and so of course are all their friends, and those of you who have witnessed it will, hopefully, be as delighted as I am to see kids of 18 or 19 arriving on skateboards and bellowing out chorus songs and shanties with the best of them:

We have chosen to hold this singaround at The Old House at Home for a number of reasons.

Firstly Jim, the landlord, is a great supporter of Wheeler Street and the Starks family band, and is a lovely man who is prepared to bend over backwards to make it work, and although not a folkie (yet) Is a pretty good singer himself. There is sufficient room to hold loads of participants, and all the friends and families that usually accompany WS gatherings and most importantly the beer's not bad at all.
""

These youngsters came to the Greyhound with a varied repertoire of 60s/70s/Country/ along with some contemporary Folk (if I may call it that without getting a verbal beating).

They are now performing mostly traditional with great enthusiasm, and selling it big time to others their age.

Was it not worth having accepted them in the first place, to achieve that result?

Would it have happened without those you despise so, the "Anything Goes Brigade"?

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 07:04 AM

A fair point Don. To the average twenty year old traditional music is as remote as chain mail and Chaucer. An earlier generation had contemporary voices to mediate and interpete songs for them, the songs became for want of a better word, fashionable.

Who knows how youngsters will connect with traditional music but it certainly won't be on a forced diet of 'this is good for you', it might be because, perish the thought, they'll be entertained.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 07:11 AM

Nice post Don T.
And just to be contentious, I'm rather tempted to learn this:
Times have changed, And we've often rewound the clock, ...
But now, God knows, Anything Goes


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 07:53 AM

Jim Carroll

I am not arguing for one minute that people are not writing songs Bryan - of course they are. But by and large they are not leaving the greenhouse conditions of the folk club...

Previously you had said -

"However, that doesn't mean that the skills and desire to produce songs in the traditional style or styles have been lost." [theleveller]
Absolutely right; but when I look at S O'Ps shopping list of what passes for folk in some/many of todays clubs I am left with the impression that this is very much on the wan too - please prove me wrong - please.

I'm confused. What ARE you arguing? What are you asking us to prove?

One of the great failures of the revival is that it has failed to engage with the population at large and it has failed to draw the attention of the general public to their own songs - not finger pointing, I was as much a part of that failure as anybody.

Wow! That's a pretty serious ambition. I will be happy if I can persuade a few people to share my pleasure in traditional music. Changing the tastes of the population at large is a step too far for me.

Unfortunately the Universe doesn't start and end in Lewes.

I can't believe that we are the sole audience for those songwriters who come from Cornwall, Northumberland and points inbetween. You seem to think that all other folk clubs in the land conform to the description emanating from the fuddled brain of S O'P.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 07:54 AM

"As one who leans toward what you erroneously call the "Anything Goes Brigade", may I ask do you have any evidence to support that slur about not wanting traditional songs to be sung because we "can't be arsed"?
Not a lot of time to read though all this properly at present - but suggest you read my post more carefully, which was a response to SO'P's:
"If people never sang another note of these songs it would be no bother me at all; they have been sung by the masters - Phil Tanner, Davie Stewart, Harry Cox, Walter Pardon, Sam Larner, Willie Scott, Mrs Pearl Brewer of Arkansas et al - let that be enough to let them resound down the ages."
It was me who couldn'd be arsed digging this piece of reactionary nonsense from a previous post.
CS
I've always had difficulty in distinguishing the difference between 'fun' and 'pleasure' and always presumed that they are the same thing.
I sang and listened for fun/pleasure, the peak of which was when I or anybody sang something well which the audence enjoyed and understood. I never enjoyed singing badly in public, and the fact that my singing is no longer what it was is the reason I avoid singing nowadays.
We NEVER differentiated between paying guests and those who turned up each week to sing. I feel that throwing open folk songs to the general public requires that you present them in an acceptible form - otherwise I would have stayed at home and sung in the bath.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 07:58 AM

Cross posted:
"You seem to think that all other folk clubs in the land conform to the description emanating from the fuddled brain of S O'P. "
Thank's Bryan - that's what I was asking you to prove.
Must go; it's not raining unfortunately
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: robinia
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 08:15 AM

"Given that Cecil Sharpe bowdlerised most of what he collected..."

Er... in what sense is that a 'given'?

Thanks for raising the question, Brian.   I question the assumption that Sharpe himself bowlderised what he collected.   It's at least possible that, singing to this visitor from polite society, many older singers themselves modified their language.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: robinia
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 08:22 AM

Oops, didn't mean to repeat myself!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 08:58 AM

PLEASE. There was no such person as "Cecil Sharpe".

You meant Cecil Sharp, the English folk song collector.

You did not mean Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, the Scottish folk song collector.

It's well documented how both of them dealt with the limits on what could be published in their own time - in both cases, responsibly and creditably. Here is something from an early 18th century manuscript that Sharpe published, but not in a way that would attract more attention than he could deal with:

The Metamorphosis (1707-8)


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 09:03 AM

"fuddled brain"

Not nice.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 09:09 AM

Jim Carroll

Thank's Bryan - that's what I was asking you to prove.

======================================================================

Subject: RE: 1954 and All That - defining folk music
From: Sailor Ron - PM
Date: 16 Apr 09 - 11:44 AM

Jim "....that SS 'traddie' though he claims to be....neither understands the tradition nor gives a toss for its welfare".

I feel I must take up cudgels over this [not that SS needs anyone else to defend his views]. Firstly this threat was, at least originaly, about the relavance, today, of the 1954 definition.
SS has mentioned several times what he is likley to hear at his local folk club, which is also mine. Yes we do get all that he has mentioned, but, and it is a big but, well over 60% of what is performed is 'traditional'[ that is if you include broadsheets, chapbooks, and 'old songs by unknown authors], plus a fair number of what I would call songs written in the traditional style or idiom.
Of all the people I have met in 'the folk scene' over the past 40 years SS is, without a doubt, one of the most leaned, and passionate,
exponants of the great traditional ballads. Besides ballads he he sings a vast number of 'traditional' songs, and if he also has a love of Kipling/Bellamy songs so what? He also on occasions descends to the deapths os singing some of mine [Shock! Horror!]. Does this make him any less a 'traddie'? And as for 'not giving a toss', well [and forgive me for this Jim, 'cause much of what you have said throughout this thread I totally agree with], is a complete load of bollocks !    Sailor Ron

======================================================================

My highlighting.

Even S O'P's description of his local club was challenged by someone else familiar with it. To extrapolate from this one dodgy bit of evidence to all folk clubs is untenable. Sorr, Jim, no case to answer.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 09:13 AM

The Sycophantic Mollusc: You seem to think that all other folk clubs in the land conform to the description emanating from the fuddled brain of S O'P

Once again Mudcat talks break down when, not being able come up with anything constructive to say, posters feel the need resort to personal insults.

JC: It was me who couldn'd be arsed digging this piece of reactionary nonsense from a previous post.

Hardly reactionary, old man - long after the revival is dead and forgotten (about 15 years should do it) people are still going to value the Traditional Songs and the singers thereof.

JC: Absolutely right; but when I look at S O'Ps shopping list of what passes for folk in some/many of todays clubs I am left with the impression that this is very much on the wan too - please prove me wrong - please.

This presumably being people trying to write songs in the Traditional Idiom, which is, at best, a revival conceit and in no way produces songs in any way worthy of being called Traditional. I work with song writers with a canny knack for the craft, but are these really folk songs in the same sense as the traditional songs? I say most definitely not, even though I have happily roared out many a Graham Miles chorus and actively promote the singular genius of Ron Baxter, and revel in the song writing talents of Mike Waterson, Lal Waterson, Peter Bellamy and Bob Pegg and might even crack one off myself as the occasion demands. This is where mere Folk is different from Traditional; as different as Mr Higgins's scratch-built 00-scale model of the Flying Scotsman is different from the real thing; even as different as The Tornado is different from the real Peppercorn A1's from 1948; a fine sight it may be, but it is not 1948.

To confuse the two is to do a grave disservice to the traditional heritage and the marvels thereof; thus is born Fake Lore, and sadly Fake Song.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 09:25 AM

To get back to the original posters question.
"Is traditional song finished?"
The answer is
No. Not by a long way.
My two pence on the subject.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 09:35 AM

Even S O'P's description of his local club was challenged by someone else familiar with it. To extrapolate from this one dodgy bit of evidence to all folk clubs is untenable. Sorr, Jim, no case to answer.

The anything-goes policy of Fleetwood Folk Club might be gleaned from its web page (see HERE) which, incidently, I look after. All of the songs on the player are settings of Ron's songs by various club members, and a look at the guest list will show that the guest policy is very much non-traditional - which is why I never bothered with guest nights.

As I replied to Ron at the time I think 60% is very generous estimate; many nights I have been there and the only traditional material has been sung by me. This is but one of the factors why I haven't been for the past 3 months - and it is simply a matter of personal taste, not damnation. I don't go to Karaoke nights either, nor would I expect Ron or any other of my folky friends to come with my wife and I to see the Bad Lieutenants or Peter Hook's Unknown Pleasures. Fact is, Fleetwood Folk Club is an alive, happening, open, appreciative, enthusiastic, friendly, welcoming, anything-goes free-for-all which is no way atypical of any number of folk clubs I've been to over the years.

I think you highlighted the wrong bit of Ron's post there, Brian. This is the best bit (SS is me of course, then posting as Sinister Supporter):

Of all the people I have met in 'the folk scene' over the past 40 years SS is, without a doubt, one of the most leaned, and passionate,
exponants of the great traditional ballads. Besides ballads he he sings a vast number of 'traditional' songs, and if he also has a love of Kipling/Bellamy songs so what? He also on occasions descends to the deapths os singing some of mine [Shock! Horror!]. Does this make him any less a 'traddie'? And as for 'not giving a toss', well [and forgive me for this Jim, 'cause much of what you have said throughout this thread I totally agree with], is a complete load of bollocks !   


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 09:56 AM

Suibhne O'Piobaireachd

a look at the guest list will show that the guest policy is very much non-traditional

John Kelly, Bryony, Steve Turner, Geoff Higginbottom?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 10:46 AM

"The Fleetwood Folk Club caters for all types of acoustic music, from traditional English ballads, Irish jigs and reels, jazz, classical, blues, rock and roll, contemporary song writers and many other forms of music.

We welcome all performers and especially the complete novice. Everyone is welcome to come to the gathering either to perform or to simply listen and enjoy the various styles of music on offer.

About every 6 weeks or so a guest artist appears. These ... represent a wide range of musical styles."

I too can quote selectively from their website.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 11:17 AM

I have found myself agreeing with much that Crow Sister says, but a few posts back she said
> SO'P is describing the kind of music *amateur musicians* might play when gathered together under the rough tag of 'folk club' but what is more rightly the singaround cum pub session, rather than the type of professional performer/performance that a proper folk club might offer up to it's paying audience. <

I have trouble with the notion of the "proper folk club" being one that offers "professional performer/performance" as contrasted with the "singaround" where anyone can turn up and sing anything.

I am in no position to generalise about folk clubs / singarounds / any-other-name nowadays, because in the last decade or so I have visited only one such regularly and a few others a very few times. My regular is Sharp's Folk Club (note the name). About one evening a month we have a professional performer, who performs for about 60% of the evening, the other 40% being much the same as the singarounds that we have on the non-guest evenings.

In the singarounds, all performers are made welcome and "anything goes" occasionally, but the preponderance is of traditional material from England and Ireland, with lesser amounts of traditional from other places (Scotland, Sweden, USA, etc) and non-traditional. The performers have various levels of skill (of course) but most are at least competent and some are excellent.

Yes the world has changed; we now have on-line communities (like this one) defined by common interest rather than common location; a folk club, singaround or musicians' session isn't exactly the same as a singing pub of 50 or 100 years ago; but I see these as more-or-less the present-day equivalents. As has already been said on this thread, some of the songs that people are writing nowadays do get picked up and sung by others.

As for the folk process, which is generally reckoned to be an essential part of the tradition: I often notice small but significant changes in songs that either have been recently written (with, therefore, authentic original versions) or have been learnt from well-known recordings. For instance I recently heard someone sing Sally, Free and Easy and change the line "The heart she gave me was not made of stone" to "The heart I gave her was not made of stone".

I have also heard The Galway Shawl with "we kept on talking" changed to "she kept on talking", suggesting why a few hours in the girl's company might have been enough.

If you want instances of complete re-builds of songs, such as the one that some time in the past gave rise to two radically different families of versions of The Two Sisters; how about this modern version of The Frog and the Mouse and Bob Coltman's Son of Child series?

Richard


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 11:56 AM

"I am in no position to generalise about folk clubs / singarounds / any-other-name"

Nor am I, my own comments are merely representative of my own limited experience. And actually, I think I've misunderstood SO'P in any event. I thought he was just talking about the strictly amateur song/music session, but in retrospect he's obviously describing those folk clubs of his own experience in general.

Maybe with me not being a child of the revival, I see things in far more black and white terms? Traditional songs and contemporary folk songs. Amateur music club and professional paid performer. I must confess I prefer to eschew the ambiguous shades of grey that I read hear and that appear to cause so much argument amongst people. It's super that people write new songs in the 'folk idiom' and rightly enjoy doing that, but it's the archived body of traditional material that interests me not new songs absorbed into 'the tradition'. Whatever that means, they are not identical to the archived body of songs from the old oral tradition. Similarly, if I pay to go see something I want to know what I'm paying to see. But if I'm simply joining in with a bunch of others just doing their thing, I'm joining in for the hell of it, and I'm not going to complain if I don't dig exactly what they're doing. If I go to a restaurant for a meal, I choose what I want and pay for it and if it's dire I get my money back and leave. If I go to a dinner party hosted by friends, I eat what I'm given and enjoy it in the spirit that it is given.

Perhaps if I was older and had been a part of the revival, the apparent ambiguities that I read here, would make more sense to me?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 12:16 PM

I've treated myself to one of these on the basis this may be the new this.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Amos
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 12:31 PM

The time-window within which Childs' collection were originally developed probably felt very modern to those living and singing in it. And I could hazard that they, too, mourned the disappearing view of the far past traditions which were fading out. The REAL traditional songs, to them, might have included long-forgotten paeans to Boadicea or war-chants from the Blue Belly Brigade dancing in Ashdown Forest or some such thing, but to those in the 18-19 c. window, these were the real stuff, now long forgot.

Granted, we have accelerated the rate of change by becoming a media-centric, networked civilization. But I do not believe the fundamentals have changed that much.

In my family, amongst all my nephews and nieces, "Jamaica Farewell" and "The Strawberry Roan" are traditional songs because they are remembered from their childhoods forty years ago when I sang them to them around Gramma's fireplace.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 01:04 PM

I'm not quite finished writing my most recent one. :-)


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 02:02 PM

CS said
> It's super that people write new songs in the 'folk idiom' and rightly enjoy doing that, but it's the archived body of traditional material that interests me not new songs absorbed into 'the tradition'. Whatever that means, they are not identical to the archived body of songs from the old oral tradition.

Ah, but that old oral tradition is pretty diverse. As I said recently in another thread, I don't see a lot in common between, for example, Cruel Mother, Cupid's Garden and Watters o' Tyne.) And that's without considering the diverse versions of Cruel Mother.

I reckon some songs made in the last 50-odd years (by the likes of MacColl, Tawney, Guthrie and Utah Phillips) can pass muster with songs made a century (or two or three) earlier. Equally, a lot of songs made over the centuries have disappeared into oblivion deservedly.

One of the defining aspects of the tradition, in this context, is selection. The old songs that have survived have done so because they have virtues that have appealed to a succession of song carriers. By and large, they continue to appeal to (some of) us now for the same reasons. Despite the changed circumstances of transmission, the transmission still happens, and I would expect repertoires in a hundred years time to include some of the recent songs along with some of those that are already old now.

This is not to say that I consider all the recent ones to be remotely comparable to the old ones. The old ones have passed through the selection process (as well as the transmission and variation that may or may not have improved them). The song makers that I have mentioned are all deceased, and their output has already been subject to some selection. The output of today's singer-songwriters is just being fed into the selection process (or not, if they prefer to enforce copyright and prohibit others from performing their songs).

Richard


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 02:03 PM

The Fleetwood Folk Club caters for all types of acoustic music,

I might add that although I run the FFC myspace page, I didn't write that bit of blurb which comes from an earlier, now defunct, web-page. This covers & celebrates on-going club policy which is further reflected in the repertoires of the residents and regulars which is widely (60%?!) idiomatic Folk though rarely purely traditional. Many of the regulars are skilled songwriters too - Ron Baxter, Nicky Snell & Ivan McKeown, to name but three - writing in a variety of idioms each of which could be called Folk. Ron's songs are regularly set & performed by other regulars & residents and yet further afield; Ivan's songs likewise, joining the ranks of innumerable Folk Song Writers whose work has been taken up by the folk community. Whilst not a resident nor a regular at the folk club himself, the canny song writing of Alan Bell is very much in evidence & provides both an inspiration and a bench mark of the standards people aim for which is in any case pretty high. I've recently had the pleasure of engineering a session for Nicky Snell, and I regard Ron Baxter as a crucial collaborator & musical colleague, as well as a very dear friend.

As CS says, however, none of this is Traditional Song, which is not a value judgement, but a statement of fact & a reflection on the current state of play in the folk clubs and perhaps the revival in general. It is this reality that gave rise to the OP of the 1954 and All That thread which seeks, on my part, to accommodate the breadth of music one finds in folk clubs these days and an attempt to understand how that might be Folk Music. That I failed in this appreciation is by the by; I have my limits & my passions, as do we all, but I would never question the right of ANYONE to perform ANYTHING in the name of FOLK - just as long as we're all be clear about what is, and what is not, a Traditional Folk Song.

One of the FFC regulars is the brother of a celebrated opera singer. The other week said Celebrated Opera Singer paid a visit. Though he didn't sing on that occasion, next time, so I'm told, he just might...


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 02:18 PM

"If people never sang another note of these songs it would be no bother me at all; they have been sung by the masters""

Now, you see Jim, there is to me quite a large gap in meaning between this, "it wouldn't bother me", and your re-interpreted version

""long after your recent wish that no more traditional songs be sung because - to paraphrase because I cant be arsed""

If you can't see the chasm of difference between the two, I would suggest that an English Language course would be beneficial, in the interest of accuracy of understanding.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 02:42 PM

"I would expect repertoires in a hundred years time to include some of the recent songs along with some of those that are already old now."

Hmm, I must confess that I feel this to be an idealised romantic projection into an unlikely hypothetical musical future, which will no doubt be quite different to anything any of us might imagine.

Just consider how the internet has revolutionised the record industry in a matter of a smattering of years. And before that how the industrial revolution basically dispatched the old oral tradition. A hundred years is a very long time in the modern world. The old oral tradition (bar token remnants in schoolgrounds and terraces) died a death, as collectors like Jim Carroll will testify to - we have even heard from him how the Irish travellers he collected songs from lost their oral tradition in a matter of around 18 months just because they were able to buy TV's! The modern era destroyed the old oral tradition, but we have at least a body of historical documents in the form of the songs they once sang, to refer to and to explore and to enjoy *in our own way* - which IMHO is never going to be identical to the way in which they enjoyed them.

I too suspect that the revival - as a particular modern cultural phenomenon distict from the old oral tradition (or at best an artificially summoned revenant) - is itself on its last legs, and will likely fade out with the very same generation of enthusiasts who forged it in the first place. It might not.. But I personally suspect it probably will.

On the other hand the old songs will always be there to potentially inspire and fascinate fresh generations of enthusiasts - in the same way that the collected works of Shakespear will be. But in what fashion those future generations will go about engaging with them, will be anyone's guess. For now, I'm simply happy to be singing and sharing the Last of the Summer's Wine with others who are happy to do likewise. And while I'm busy enjoying the now, the future can fend for itself ;-)


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 02:53 PM

"Hardly reactionary, old man"
Anybody who lumps in Harry Cox and Phil Tanner with Heavy Metal is as reactionary as it gets.
"Jim, no case to answer."
Bryan - I didn't really think there was. My problem arising, (as you rightly point out) from my not attending UK clubs often, is on the one hand I have SO'P's rag-bag as an example of legitimate fare for a set-up that calls itself a folk club, and on the other I have clubs like the Lewes ones which, I have no reason to doubt consistently present good folk-music well performed - what's a poor girl expected to do in those circumstances?
I know from personal experience that the number and quality of the clubs have declined radically over the last twenty-odd years, as have the audences numbers - I don't know to what extent.
I do believe there are remedies to improve things, if not to put them back to where they were - it's happened here in Ireland.
"Wow! That's a pretty serious ambition."
My reference to our failure to influence the public at large was a response to S O'P's claim that 'The world has moved on' as far as a definition of 'folk'; my point being that the world in general has shown no interest in the subject whatever and goes through life either unaware or not caring whether folk music exists or not. The arbitrary manipulation or abandoning the definition is solely the work of people like S O'P with a vested interest.
I said earlier that I believe clubs that call themselves 'folk' take on a responsibility for the music they claim to present.
Just before we left London we 'pigged out' on folk clubs, visiting as many of them as we could because we realised we wouldn't get the opportunity here.
We were in a West London club one night were the performances were diabolical and the songs were - indifferent (not one of Sweeney's wannabe but failed heavy metal mobs, just somewhat dismal). A youngish couple came in, the man had obviously been before but the woman appeared to be a first-timer who sat looking a mixture of bored and bemused. After a while she slipped the man a piece of paper and shortly afterwards they disappeared through the door.
To my shame, in the interval I found the piece of paper which had been left on their vacant seats and read it. It said "What the **** have you brought me to".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 03:05 PM

Don I actually wrote as a sentence "to paraphrase because I cant be arsed -"
Perhaps I should have added - "..... digging out the orginal statement" - I was intending that the hyphen would indicate my leaving the rest of the sentence hanging - my apologies for the confusion.
"If people never sang another note of these songs....."
Nope, sorry Don, it appears equally as crass to me, whichever version - hence my Shakespeare analogy.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 03:09 PM

A very insightful and realistic post, Crow Sister.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 03:12 PM

Anybody who lumps in Harry Cox and Phil Tanner with Heavy Metal is as reactionary as it gets.

And when did I do that?

The arbitrary manipulation or abandoning the definition is solely the work of people like S O'P with a vested interest.

And what vested interest might that be?

I said earlier that I believe clubs that call themselves 'folk' take on a responsibility for the music they claim to present.

You mean they don't?

(not one of Sweeney's wannabe but failed heavy metal mobs, just somewhat dismal).

Heavy Metal again. Curiouser & curiouser...


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 03:23 PM

"And when did I do that?"
All songs are folk! or did I get it wrong again?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: the Folk Police
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 03:32 PM

"Heavy Metal again. Curiouser & curiouser..."

Like this? Glorystrokes


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 03:38 PM

In a very real sense, collecting, cataloguing and preserving folk song for future generations is a lot like historical geology and archaeology. The more we uncover, the more we realize that we have barely scratched the surface. Every time paleontologists think they have a fair handle on the evolution of dinosaurs, a new one pops up to bring their theories into question once again.

I disagree that we have no more to discover. I think the definition of folk song, always a contentious subject, will continue to evolve. I also do not think that everyone who has something to contribute has been interviewed or recorded, despite all our excellent efforts. Stay tuned for further developments and keep the lamp lit in the meantime....


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 04:13 PM

All songs are folk! or did I get it wrong again?

Well, I've heard heavy metal songs re-imagined as folk songs, and I've heard traditional folk songs sung by heavy metal bands - most famously Led Zeppelin's cover of Child #95, which is nice, but not a patch on Motorhead's cover of Dido, Bendigo...


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,cboody
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 04:15 PM

Seems to me that nobody defined traditional song, so lots of effort has been spent on arguing "around" the issue. Does it have to be sung in the original setting (whatever that means) to be traditional? Does it need to be sung in some "traditional" manner (whatever that means)? Is folks song, as Anna Russell once defined it "the uncouth vocal utterance of the people? Is traditional song to be defined as associated with the British Isles and the import of that tradition into America? All of these issues were discussed somehow, but with little attempt to find a common starting point from which discussion could proceed.

All that said: All one needs to do is consider a couple of Bill Staines songs "All God's Critters" and "River" to know that the tradition of creating music that can enter the main stream of music transmitted orally (or aurally if you prefer) today just as Stephen Foster songs entered that tradition in the past.

As to the other question of whether COLLECTION of traditional song is finished. I doubt it.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 04:43 PM

Crow Sister seems exceptionally shrewd for someone who hasn't been at the game long. I agree with almost everything you've said sis', but a number of points in particular. On future gazing who can say what will be viewed as traditional in a hundred years time, I wouldn't be surprised to see the current repertoir still in existence, hermetically sealed from incursions, the music a century older and sung by small groups of re-enactors with similarly bellicose views.

I also sense the revivalists will die off in the next fifteen years and the revival with it. We'll all mourn the passing of that peculiarly grumpy, well-meaning, innocent, misguided group of baby boomers and their broadsides about broadsides but will be able to console ourselves - if we haven't been gathered to Arthur's bosom with them - that their passing has bugger all to do with the history of folk music one way or another, save for a few who sang it particularly well.

I'll certainly mourn their wilful misinterpretation of any comment which questions the authenticity of the revival and the lengthy counterblasts which accompany it.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bert
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 04:44 PM

cboody, yes they did.

Here it is again: "What we speak of as 'traditional' is just a vignette of what collectors thought was 'traditional' when they were on the rampage"


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Paul Reade
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 05:08 PM

When I started this thread, my thoughts were that any songs written now would not pass into the tradition. I was always of the opinion that a traditional song was one that had been passed around for so long that no-one could remember who wrote it. I agreed with "Jorrox": "It's unlikely that there will be any unattributable songs for future generations, as a result of technology ... just about everyone can record and distribute their own songs, the authorship should hardly ever be in doubt.

Now I'm not so sure. There are songs around now that a lot of people think are traditional, like Keith Marsden's "Bring us a Barrel", and who knows what will happen to the records of authorship in the future? A couple of generations from now there may be another "folk revival" and someone will find this long-lost "traditional" song and unless they have the time and patience to ferret around among old archives, even non-dusty electronic ones, they will never know that it was written by a bank manager from Bradford.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 05:26 PM

"Well, I've heard heavy metal songs re-imagined as folk songs, "
I'll take it from your evasively obscure answer that I didn't get it wrong - so you have your response.
"And what vested interest might that be?"
Fitting your particularly square peg into a round hole - no symbolism intended!
"You mean they don't?"
Not if they try to pass off your rag-bag as folk, they don't.
T.J.
"I disagree that we have no more to discover."
Don't think anybody is trying to say that; rather, that traditional song has ceased to exist as a living form, just as nobody wrote Shakespeare plays after he died - nothing to say that they can't continue to be performed and enjoyed.
There is loads more to discover - we know next to nothing of what the traditional singers thought of their art - because, in the main they were never considered worth asking - hence the mess.
"Seems to me that nobody defined traditional song,"
Yes they have - it just doesn't suit some people.
"Does it need to be sung in some "traditional" manner...."
No - style or setting has nothing to do with it's 'folkness'.
It needs to have undergone a process which makes it folk - been through that thousands of times.
"As to the other question of whether COLLECTION of traditional song is finished. I doubt it."
Would love to agree, but not in our experience. Doesn't mean we've got nothing new to hand. Following the Greig Duncan Folk Song Collection relatively recently publised we have yet to see the J.M. Carpenter collection, arguably the largest single collection of traditional ballads ever gathered.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Folknacious
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 05:34 PM

Points arising:

There are living traditions in all countries in the world, not just in Britain, Ireland and the USA.

Folk clubs (and similar) in Britain, Ireland and the USA aren't the official guardians of all things traditional.

The last thing that's likely to become a traditional song in Britain, Ireland and the USA is something concocted in a fake "traditional" style, to be sung by folkies at folkies - a minuscule minority.

So: is traditional song finished? No. Betcha.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 05:37 PM

Betcha."
How much?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 05:51 PM

The last thing that's likely to become a traditional song in Britain, Ireland and the USA is something concocted in a fake "traditional" style, to be sung by folkies at folkies - a minuscule minority.

It might not seem very likely on the face of it, but "Flower of Scotland" fits exactly that description.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 06:13 PM

Jim Carroll

what's a poor girl expected to do in those circumstances?

Well, she could stop believing that the wise words of Sweeny are in any way a representation of what is really happening in UK folk clubs. After all, the image he presents of the club he no longer goes to is contested by another regular. She could stop taking that as proof that that all UK folk clubs are in terminal decline.

I know from personal experience that the number and quality of the clubs have declined radically over the last twenty-odd years

No, JIm, you don't. You know from personal experience that folk clubs declined in the eighties. On your own admission, you have little direct experience of what is happening now.

I do believe there are remedies to improve things, if not to put them back to where they were - it's happened here in Ireland.

Please! Tell us more. In the UK we are up against a government that seems to be determined to stamp out all forms of small scale community music.

I said earlier that I believe clubs that call themselves 'folk' take on a responsibility for the music they claim to present.

As I have said before, language is what people speak not what a committee, however erudite, decides. I rather suspect that the "Anyone who sings with an acoustic guitar" definition of "folk" originated in America.

Just before we left London we 'pigged out' on folk clubs, visiting as many of them as we could because we realised we wouldn't get the opportunity here.
We were in a West London club one night were the performances were diabolical and the songs were - indifferent


So what were the others like? Why do you always concentrate on the bad experiences but ignore the good?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 06:52 PM

Nice one, Richard Mellish! A beacon shining out above the petty bickering!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 07:50 PM

"Why do you always concentrate on the bad experiences but ignore the good? "
Because these are the ones that do the damage, and appear to be in the majority - certainly they are the ones argued for on this forum when it comes to applying standards and adopting a policy. I used it to illustrate the damage that can be caused in driving potential supporters away, nothing more.
The others we visited - poor to middling, as have been the ones we have visited since.
"language is what people speak not what a committee, however erudite,"
Don't quite understand this. If you are refering to a definition - it is immaterial who arrives at it; if it is generally accepted and works in practice, as it has done in our experience, it is good enough until a better one is arrived at.
I don't believe the clubs are in terminal decline, otherwise I wouldn't waste time discussing them - I believe them to be in a poor state - yes, from personal experience right up to 1998, when we left the UK while we were still attending them regularly. Nothing you have offered has come near to persuading me otherwise, nor has very much on this forum, from the horses mouths.
Please don't start sounding like our mutual friend.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 05:13 AM

I'll take it from your evasively obscure answer that I didn't get it wrong - so you have your response.

In answer to "Does it need to be sung in some "traditional" manner...." you say No - style or setting has nothing to do with it's 'folkness'. We'll take the Folk Process as read when it comes to Heavy Metal covers of traditional songs, otherwise Heavy Metal is a traditional music. I love going into the Liverpool & Manchester music shops of weekend and listening to kids thrashing out power-chords with great gusto and no little skill, acquiring their chops as part of a venerable idiom that has endured down the ages - certainly from before their time anyway. Don't get too hung up on the songs - the idiom is the key to traditional process; the conventions by which such things are composed and absorbed into the community which in no way contradicts the tenets of the 1954 Definition which, as I've said elsewhere, still has a lot to tell us about the nature of music as a whole.

Fitting your particularly square peg into a round hole - no symbolism intended!

My interest in folk is founded purely on a lifelong love of traditional English-speaking folk song, but even in the most traditional of folk clubs we do not experience the glories of traditional song, rather a distant echo of them - we engage in a seance, becoming mediums to a potency that might still invigorate. In this sense you are right - I am a square-peg lover of Traditional Song who has been vainly trying to fit in with round-hole general Folkery. I do not decry it (as you do) even though I've tried & failed in my appreciation of it. It's fun on a good night with lots of beer & fags, but no one can smoke any more & I'm not allowed more than a pint or two - and, sadly, I can't take Round Hole Folk entirely sober. Otherwise, life really is too short.   

Not if they try to pass off your rag-bag as folk, they don't.

This is the nature of Round Hole Folk though, old man; it begins with the likes of Ewan MacColl trying to write traditional-sounding songs & encouraging others to do likewise. To round-hole folkies this is all very well - it thrives & people have a lot of fun doing it. In this sense Folk Music is simply amateur music, variously skilled, open to all to do pretty much what they want. It is what a few people do after a long working day, to gather with a few pints and sing a few songs, acoustically, informally, by way of catharsis and recreation.

Square-Peg O'Piobaireachd


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 05:41 AM

Harry Cox and Heavy Metal - you couldn't make it up!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 05:45 AM

An unwillingness to debate the folk revival honestly and openly is one of the reasons it'll die out with the baby boomers. Smoke and mirrors don't cross generations.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: theleveller
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 06:15 AM

You say potatoes, I say potatoes
You say tomatoes, I say tomatoes
Let's call the whole thing off.

Should be a folk song!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 06:26 AM

Afterthought:
"the likes of Ewan MacColl trying to write traditional-sounding songs"
MacColl did not encourage others to do so - not in my hearing anyway. He suggested using the 'forms' of folk song to compose new ones, the use of speech patterns, their narrative nature, the way they lent themselves to vernacular speech and accent... and all the other things that make folk song unique; use of style was optional,
Doesn't mean to say he didn't use style - his 'Fields of Viet-Nam' was based on Robert Cinnamond's terraced style of singing 'Napopleon Bonepart' - extremely effective IMO. Similarly, his 'Joy of Living' based on a Sicilian folk song - one of his best.
"An unwillingness to debate the folk revival honestly and openly is one of the reasons it'll die out"
I totally agree with Glueman - where's me pills.....?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 06:27 AM

And whilst we're on with definitions:

reactionary -
adj.
Characterized by reaction, especially opposition to progress or liberalism; extremely conservative.
n. pl. reactionaries -
An opponent of progress or liberalism; an extreme conservative.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: MikeL2
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 07:06 AM

Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 05:37 PM

<" So: is traditional song finished? No. Betcha. ">

Jim you will never live long enough to collect your bet.....they will still be trying to decide what is folk music.

Cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 08:24 AM

they will still be trying to decide what is folk music.

I think that was decided when the first folk played their first music. The present problem seems to be how to reconcile the inner ironies of a Folk Revival with a) the songs it claims to be reviving and b) the overall context of traditional music as a whole. The ICTM have given us an indication of the way forward in their inclusive remit (which even Jim hasn't said anything about) whilst the rest is just a matter of the Folky Faithful singing about how good the old one was, which is fair enough.

Somewhere above (or below, depending how you're viewing this thread) someone said how Round Hole Folk is essentially an American import, which is obviously the case. One wonders what proportion of the 2nd Generation Revival over the last 50 years has been about E. Trads; even JC digs Dylan, which I never have, although I adored his Theme Time Radio Hour show. So maybe it's Dylan who's the key to Round Hole Folk and the anything-goes-as-long-as-it's-played-on-an-acoustic-(round hole?)-guitar approach that is pretty much the norm in the English clubs these days?

I must admit, this was never an issue in the North-East where guitar-free singarounds are pretty much the norm. At our regular old club in Durham it was all unaccompanied traditional singing, with but few exceptions & if instrument there was it generally me with a Black Sea fiddle or a Hungarian zither. Here in the North West however you can't get moved for the guitar cases piling up round the door. I am not anti-guitar, not on the whole anyway, but I don't think it's in any way appropriate to accompany E. Trads with the chordal modulations that are only the musical orthodoxy of an American inspired revival. Such things are anathema to the vibrant core of Traditional Song, and ultimately, I fear, a debasement of its essence. But that's Round Hole Folk for you, which isn't Trad.

I know I might be sounding like WAV here, but this is one of the things I've been dealing with as a Square Peg Folkie all my life. Guitar wielding Round Hole Folkies have questioned (seriously) my use of Indian Harmoniums, Black Sea Fiddles, Welsh Crwths, North African Frame Drums, Vietnamese Jew's Harps, Hungarian Citeras and Electronic Shruti Boxes to accompany venerable E. Trads as being somehow non-traditional - and it's not the one time that my Square Peg Traddie approach has been called eccentric. Recently a Round Hole at a folk club with a PA system said my use of an electronic shruti box would be bound to offend purists. I could go on; in the end I give up, pretty much.

The Round Hole Orthodoxy has not only established itself within a generation, but justified its attitudes in terms of that orthodoxy which is, after all, just a back-water of popular music defined by the grave limits of its musical vision and imagination. Thus Folk Music might be just as well defined as easy listening MOR pop music strummed out on acoustic guitars by an ever ageing baby-boomer demographic who've been singing the same-old same-old since the fifties & sixties. Here in the senile dotage of The Revival, this is more evident than ever.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 08:43 AM

"even JC digs Dylan,"
Unless you're taklking about yer man - where on earth did you get this one - can you not get anythingh right?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 08:51 AM

"can you not get anythingh right?"

I should resist but I can't.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 09:30 AM

"Folkies have questioned (seriously) my use of Indian Harmoniums, Black Sea Fiddles, Welsh Crwths, North African Frame Drums, Vietnamese Jew's Harps, Hungarian Citeras and Electronic Shruti Boxes to accompany venerable E. Trads as being somehow non-traditional"

None of the above collection of exotica is any less authentic than the guitar as an accompaniment to traditional English song, of course. Even the concertina and melodeon have the slenderest of claims to authenticity in this context. What you are encountering there is simply the widespread suspicion of the unfamiliar.

"Thus Folk Music might be just as well defined as easy listening MOR pop music strummed out on acoustic guitars by an ever ageing baby-boomer demographic who've been singing the same-old same-old since the fifties & sixties."

Wasn't it precisely to escape that kind of stuff that some folk venues started billing themselves as 'traditional folk'? Thus opening themselves up to the usual accusations of purism and Folk Policing?

I see a lot of folk venues - clubs, festivals etc. - on my travels, and, although I can remember some gruesome examples of that stereotype, it's not very common. I gravitated towards the folk scene because (at its best) it was the opposite of MOR.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: MikeL2
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 09:34 AM

Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Suibhne O'Piobaireachd - PM
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 08:24 AM

hi S'OP

Thanks for your illuminating (as always ) reply.

What worries me is that I have been playing and listening to *folk music ( along with many other genres) for nearly 50 years.

I don't know whether I have been a round hole or square hole folk singer for all this time !!! Do I need to go and see my doctor???

cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 09:36 AM

Round hole folk is what happens when practicality meets aspiration. Acoustic western guitars are affordable and available, their use is in keeping with the ambitions of an accessible 'people's music'. In the same way the Telecaster is a non-domestic icon of a different english music, its application as authentic as the concertina.

I've no idea what this 'form' JC refers to is. Do you mean pastiche, like the new Beetle or Mini taking its styling cues from the original but easier to handle in the modern world? If you mean a sound, as opposed to a history, it would be hard to argue with you. I'd suggest most folkies dig the sound and lyrics and the academia is just extra allure. You can and do get non-trad folk and most people don't get their knickers twisted about it.
I like my tradition on traditional instruments but recognise it's no more than a personal preference, it isn't folkier than round hole.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 09:46 AM

I don't know whether I have been a round hole or square hole folk singer for all this time !!!

Neither did I until Jim's post of 25 Feb 10 - 05:26 PM.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 10:10 AM

"Acoustic western guitars are affordable and available, their use is in keeping with the ambitions of an accessible 'people's music'."

The unaccompanied human voice is also pretty affordable and available. It just depends what kind of noise you like.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: MikeL2
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 10:30 AM

ho S'OP

<"I don't know whether I have been a round hole or square hole folk singer for all this time !!!

Neither did I until Jim's post of 25 Feb 10 - 05:26 PM. ">

Ha Ha..

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 10:37 AM

BP - "The unaccompanied human voice is also pretty affordable and available. It just depends what kind of noise you like."

It's interesting to note how the unaccompanied voice is more likely to quieten a pub that an accompanied one. I wonder why? It's as though people are caught unawares by an unaccompanied voice, as it's not the normal thing to do anymore. I find that something of a pity as in theory anyone whatever their educational background or musical skills can learn to sing these old songs. They belong to everyone not merely because they comprise a part of our common cultural heritage, but by virtue of being (theoretically) accessable to anyone who can so much as hold a tune.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bert
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 11:39 AM

...round hole or square hole folk singer...

Don't forget about the f hole fiddle players.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 02:08 PM

"My interest in folk is founded purely on a lifelong love of traditional English-speaking folk song . . ."

I really should have learned by now to stay out of these discussions, but I'm not a good learner, apparently.

So . . . my question for SO'P:

If - as you have consistently argued - all music is folk music, given the proper context; and all music is traditional because all music is based upon traditions, then . . . how can anyone be certain what you could possibly mean when you speak of "traditional English-speaking folk song"? You essentially have argued that these words mean nothing, and now you want them to mean something(?) . . .


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 06:24 PM

CS challenged my saying
> I would expect repertoires in a hundred years time to include some of the recent songs along with some of those that are already old now.

I did say "some". If we (enthusiasts) today can sing and enjoy songs that came into existence in a very different world a century or three ago, why shouldn't similar enthusiasts another century in the future similarly sing and enjoy some of those same songs and some that are being made now? (Oops, sorry about all that alliteration.) Few if any of us are ploughboys, milkmaids, jolly tars, coal miners, lords or ladies. But we enjoy the songs about those people.

A lot of traditional songs are certainly not finished yet. They are well alive, being sung and being learnt by new singers. If they have been transported from their old homes (such as cottages, village pubs, behind the plough or before the mast) to new homes in folk clubs or on concert platforms, that's no worse than the earlier journeys which many of them made from the nobility to the peasantry, from the broadside presses of the big cities to the countryside, or from the land to the sea.

We sing them now because they continue to have a value for us, despite all the changes in the world around them, so I believe at least some of them will survive further changes in the future.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 07:09 PM

Goose Gander, with respect, your question to Mr O'Piobaireachd is one step removed from "Tell me, when did you stop beating your wife?"


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 07:50 PM

SO'P
So far you have blustered and filibustered your way through every discussion you have been involved in. You don't argue, you DECLARE; then you attempt to piss on the work that has been done over the last 150+ years. You've sneered and snided at the work of others without addressing it in any way (I repeat the invitation I made earlier which you ignored - I'm more than happy to gather all your snide comments together and put them up here). I asked you whether you had listened to our recordings - your response - you've heard the few tracks we put on Voice of The People. I suppose I must be grateful that you have based your dismissive snideswipes on 25 minutes worth of 30 odd years of work we have done - all the interviews with Walter Pardon, Tom Lenihan, Mary Delaney.... everybody we have discussed the music with and asked their opinion on - their opinions on the music that they gave us, all binned by you - for what? The shit idea that what they gave us is no different to T Rex, or Daniel O'Donnell, or Robbie Williams, or Frank Sinatra or Luciano Pavarotti....
Bollocks.
You can't tell the difference between folk and the pop pap that has been fed to us (at a price, of course); I'll tell you the difference. The music you appear to prefer was made, packaged and sold to us. We had no part in its making; it is a commodity, and not too long in the future it will be scrapped and we will be given something else to listen to; and so ad infinitum. WE HAD NO PART IN ITS MAKING. IT WILL NEVER BE OURS, THE ONLY CLAIM WE HAVE ON IT IS THE ONE WE PURCHASED, THE RIGHT TO LISTEN TO IT.
Folk music is ours, it is 'The Music of The People'; made by them/us to express our/their lives and experiences, then passed on to others who re-made it so it became theirs. It is our culture, our history, our experiences, our emotions..... made by working people: mill workers, miners, seamen, farm workers..... 'ordinary people' if there is such a thing.
If you can show that your rag-bag wish list in any way corresponds with any of this, you might have an argument; so far you have given nothing but bullshit and doublespeak verbiage; you have worked to the old building trade truism that it is far easier to pull down something that somebody else has built rather than create something yourself.
Glueman
You don't understand the difference between form and style? I explained it in my posting (far more simply than most of the convoluted postings of your obscurantist mentor); if you can't follow it, invest in a dictionary.
If the best you can do is point out the keyboard problems I'm having - I'd forget it if I were you - it reduces you even more.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 07:51 PM

Not even close, SC. I'm merely paraphrasing his own arguments, and I'm asking how we can know for sure what he means when he uses terms that he himself has expanded to the point of meaninglessness.

But SO'P can speak for himself.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Angus & Julia
Date: 26 Feb 10 - 09:10 PM

I'm studying traditional folk music for my HSC viva voce, and am arguing that technology has destroyed the true concept. Traditional music was music orally transmitted that reflected the cultures of its origins. it was not notated and was simply the rearranging of past folksongs to fit a communities current context. in essence, the same song could be heard in various towns, but all have a unique sound due to the traditional and cultural implications. the introduction of technology meant that music was mass produced and easily accessible to everyone. it was recorded, therfore not orally transmitted, and it was heard by everybody, therefore sounded the same no matter where you went. traditional music was defined as unique and nationalistic, but because of technology that nationalism has been removed from music. I still think we have lots of great 'folk' scenes and artists now, but from now on I consider them to be contemporary folk.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 03:17 AM

Jim, you brought up the legitimacy of form rather than history as a guide to what is traditional in your MacColl argument. Please try and keep up.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 03:52 AM

how can anyone be certain what you could possibly mean when you speak of "traditional English-speaking folk song"? You essentially have argued that these words mean nothing, and now you want them to mean something(?) . . .

These words certainly mean something, more by way of adjectives given that most musical genres & idioms have names used by the practitioners thereof. It's a problem for sure, but what did the Traditional Singers call their songs? Jim has said some singers he collected from called them The Old Songs, which echoes Bob Copper's wonderful poem of that name (set by Peter Bellamy), but as he said earlier we know next to nothing of what the traditional singers thought of their art - because, in the main they were never considered worth asking - hence the mess. Whilst I don't dispute that Folk and Traditional have pragmatically come to act as genre nouns, covering a multitude of possible musical idioms which otherwise don't have names, I do dispute that those idioms are more folk / trad than any other idiom when those terms are used as adjectives rather than simply nouns.

So - when I say Tradition English Folk Song (extending this to English-Speaking to clarify that I'm not just talking about England, given that the Tradition is as much Scottish, Irish, Welsh, American and Australian as it is English) I'm using the words for sake of pragmatic convenience, rather than as adjectives by way of defining the nature of the music. Elsewhere I've suggested the word Popular (as used by Child to describe his Ballads) might also be appropriate, but that's not without its (obvious) problems too. I don't think there is anything demonstrably different about the Old English-Speaking Popular Songs (OESPS anyone??) - nothing that qualifies them as being more folk according to the tenets of the 1954 definition anyway - which is not about genre, & in any case doesn't tell us much about the nature of the songs themselves but rather postulates on provenance, much as the ETH faithful do regarding Crop Circles.

Consequently Folk is a problem word, it's an extraneous concept that has increasingly lost its currency. Over the years the magazine Folk Roots relegated it to a lower-case f, and back in 1980 the International Folk Music Council changed their name to The International Council for Traditional Music with an inclusive remit of folk, popular, classical & urban musics. Whilst I'm unclear as to what the ITCM mean by folk in that context (noun or adjective) perhaps it is through deference to the pragmatics of common usage that the meaning of the word at last defined. In which case that's both Jim and I pipped for sure...

Hope this helps.

Square-Peggin' Awl.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 04:00 AM

Jim I usually agree with a reasonable amount of what you post. But you post above about the differences between "commercial" music and "folk" music is bizarre. I'll explain when I have more time later. However, it make a hell of a lot of unevidenced assumptions about who makes popular music and why.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 04:24 AM

Surely I did post a link to the Mirriam-Webster definition of "traditional" somewhere back in the mists of time. I was pointing out that it is not synonymous with the 1954 definition.

The 1954 definition deals with "composed music" by denying that its adoption unchanged makes it "folk". Conversely its adoption and change may make it folk, since the requirement of anonymity for "folk" is a "conclusion" by Sharp, that is to say is chicken not egg.

Agnes and Julia may care to reflect on the process of adoption, and teh meaning of the expression "community" for the purposes of the 1954 definition.

However, the 1954 definition is of "folk" not of "tradition" so the idea that songs may continue to become traditional without meeting the 1954 definition would seem to be a foregone conclusion.




CS, you miss something about the use of instruments. Not one person in a thousand has your ability to stay in tune in unaccompanied singing. For most it is far easier to stay in tune (ish) with an instrument for reference.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 04:31 AM

WE HAD NO PART IN ITS MAKING. IT WILL NEVER BE OURS, THE ONLY CLAIM WE HAVE ON IT IS THE ONE WE PURCHASED, THE RIGHT TO LISTEN TO IT.

Is that the Voice of the People series you're on about there, old man? In which case I think I might just agree with you. Certainly that's how I feel sometimes about The Old Traditional Songs with respect of the hash The Revival singers made of them, but that's just a matter of personal taste. Otherwise, what's so very different about buying a Phil Tanner CD from one by Frank Sinatra? Both contain recordings of beautiful singers whose music resonated at the very heart of their community & the traditions thereof and yet, because of their individual uniqueness, they were well respected for their evident gifts. A legacy which lives on even today.

made by working people: mill workers, miners, seamen, farm workers..... 'ordinary people' if there is such a thing.

I think once again we're back to E.P.Thomson's gulf of class condescension - whereby the working-class are romanticised in terms of their quaint collectivity rather than allowed to speak, think, live, breathe & create as individuals. This is the central myth that is the very wellspring of the bourgeois Folk concept: that by their faceless collectivity the working-class are in some way ordinary. I don't believe there has ever been such a thing as an ordinary person (certainly not working-class anyway) and if there was, they certainly didn't make these songs, much less sing the bloody things.

If you can show that your rag-bag wish list in any way corresponds with any of this, you might have an argument;

I've shown it again & again, old man - you choose to either ignore what I'm saying or else throw your toys around. In the end it all comes back to the essential humanity of all music, which the 1954 Definition tells us about, likewise The Horse Definition. Anything else is just idiomatic variance to be mulled over by the astute ears of the ethnomusicologists.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 05:36 AM

Somewhere back there I said my wife and I were going to the The Bad Lieutenants. The band is actually called Bad Lieutenant - a popular music group in the Manchester Tradition featuring two legendary working-class musicians whose influence on traditional popular music idioms over the last 31 years is beyond calculation.

Check 'em out: http://www.myspace.com/badlieutenantmusic


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 05:55 AM

"Not one person in a thousand has your ability to stay in tune in unaccompanied singing"

First that's a large compliment, but second I don't believe it to be true by a long straw. If I find I get a funny interval in a melody which throws out my expectations and buggers me up, I just keep practising it. Repeat repeat repeat that phrase until it stays in place. I'm sure that's no more difficult than learning a chord on a guitar?

Just to be clear, I'm not making any kind of value judgement here about people's preference to use instruments (I sing without, mainly because I can't play anything and never learned music. So traditional songs liberated me musically). It's just that our modern musical expectations tend to automatically preclude singing without some form of accompaniment.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 06:04 AM

"Otherwise, what's so very different about buying a Phil Tanner CD from one by Frank Sinatra?"
Our recording of Mary Delaney' 'What Will We do' has been taken up and recorded by at least a half a dozen singers. Try doing it with 'My Way' and telling PRS that it's a folk song and therefore in Public Domain. I'm referring to the songs , not the recordings (the profits for ours were donated to The Irish Traditional Music Archive with the agreement of the singers btw).
".....and if there was, they certainly didn't make these songs, much less sing the bloody things."
Now there's a statement to mull over, bothy songs not sung by bothy workers, sailor's songs not sung by sailors....? Tell the Elliots that miners songs were not sung by miners - or better still, that miners are not workers.
"Anything else is just idiomatic variance to be mulled over by the astute ears of the ethnomusicologists."
As I said, everything Walter Pardon, Tom Lenihan, Mary Delaney... had to say about their songs - binned.
All you've shown over and over again is your ignorance and indifference.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 06:26 AM

Traditional music was music orally transmitted that reflected the cultures of its origins. it was not notated and was simply the rearranging of past folksongs to fit a communities current context. in essence, the same song could be heard in various towns, but all have a unique sound due to the traditional and cultural implications. the introduction of technology meant that music was mass produced and easily accessible to everyone. it was recorded, therfore not orally transmitted, and it was heard by everybody, therefore sounded the same no matter where you went. traditional music was defined as unique and nationalistic, but because of technology that nationalism has been removed from music.

If you think Hungarians are listening to Seth Lakeman you need to get out more.

Or for that matter if you think the Scots are.

The recording industry has been the biggest boost to nationalism in music that it's ever had.

One interesting recent development has been the way media like YouTube and Facebook have supported the development of diaspora national cultures - the BBC did an interesting programme about the Pontic Greek culture a few weeks ago, with people of Pontic decent all over the world making new contacts with those remaining in north-east Turkey.


S O'P:
old man... old man... old man... old man...

Kindly desist from being a patronizing shit.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 06:30 AM

Now there's a statement to mull over, bothy songs not sung by bothy workers, sailor's songs not sung by sailors....? Tell the Elliots that miners songs were not sung by miners - or better still, that miners are not workers.

I'm losing patience here, old man - if you actually bothered to read what I say instead of just knee-jerking against it we might get somewhere. So yes - of course - bothy songs sung by bothy workers, sailor's songs sung by sailors, and mining songs sung by miners - but no such thing as an Ordinary Working-Class Person. That said, much has been put into the mouths of the miners by the agenda-obsessed fakelorists of The Revival. I've talked with many old Durham miners - including singers who sang in the clubs, pubs, chapels & canteens - who'd never heard a so-called Folk Song in their lives.

As for the rest, read what I've said.

Off out for the day, back tomorrow.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 06:36 AM

S O'P:
old man... old man... old man... old man...

Kindly desist from being a patronizing shit.


I use the term old man out of deep respect and sincere deference. The term comes from the film For a Few Dollars More - it's what the Clint Eastwood character calls The Colonel (Lee Van Cleef). Go watch it & figure. Whilst I might not always agree with Jim, I regard him as a foremost authority on the subject of traditional song and his work in this field is in every way exemplary. Thus do I call him old man.

No doubt I'll be trounced for saying this, but that's the truth of it.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 07:43 AM

"but no such thing as an Ordinary Working-Class Person."
As I suggested in the first place.
You went on to say (and I reproduce again directly from your posting) "and if there was, they certainly didn't make these songs, much less sing the bloody things"
You now compound this by claiming that "much has been put into the mouths of the miners by the agenda-obsessed fakelorists of The Revival", also directly reproduced from your posting
PROVE IT.
You are a pratt - and a supercilious one - old man.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 07:59 AM

RichardM: "If we (enthusiasts) today can sing and enjoy songs that came into existence in a very different world a century or three ago, why shouldn't similar enthusiasts another century in the future similarly sing and enjoy some of those same songs and some that are being made now?"

Sure. But I still find it innapropriate to conflate the body of material archived from the old oral tradition, with modern songs of the revival which have been inspired by them. Any amount of types of modern songs could pass into what might come to constitute 'traditional songs' in the future, not merely modern revival songs that have been intentionally composed in the 'folk idiom'. As I said elsewhere, my money would be on popular material by bands like The Beatles or Abba. Though I think that revival songs will end up being recognised as a body of material in their own right, whether such songs eventually become considered to be 'traditional' in the same sense as songs from the old oral tradition are, TBH I've absolutely no clue! You may be correct, only time will tell.

"(Oops, sorry about all that alliteration.)"

Now try and say that ten times really fast.. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 08:37 AM

I'd like to add that I DO sing some modern songs! I'm not utterly exclusive in what interests me, I just like to be clear on the distinction between the old songs and the new.

I feel that not to be clear on such matters, is somewhat dismissive of the very heritage that inspired the revival in the first place.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 08:39 AM

CS
Tradition isn't the making of songs and then their re-emergence a century or so later - I don't think it works like that.
The tradition, for me, is not simply repetition, but implies a continuum; constant transmission and adaptation so that the songs continue to exist in mulitiple forms (version). This, for all sorts of reasons, no longer appears to happen. Four hundred something years ago Henry VIII was said to have composed songs; 'Greensleeves', 'The Hunt Is Up'.....
While they were certainly performed down the ages; as far as we know, they have remained as written and dis not undergo the traditional process.
If today's (or yesterday's, or the day's before) pop songs were going to become 'traditional', surely there would be some signs of the process taking place.
Sure; pop songs are parodied by children or for political or sporting purposes.... etc, but I think that's something else.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 09:03 AM

"The tradition, for me, is not simply repetition, but implies a continuum; constant transmission and adaptation"

Some of this semantic stuff gets rather confusing for me!

I think it hinges on the distinction between what may be considered to constitute 'traditional', V's what the characteristics of 'the tradition' are supposed to be.

Christmas for example, is a tradition. It is traditional to observe Christmas. It happens every year at the exact same time. Adaptation (while it happens) is not key to it being 'traditional. Rather it's the predictable repetative nature of it's annual observance by lots of people, that makes it 'traditional'.

Adaptation was a key characteristic of the old oral song tradition, but whether or not that particular characteristic must necessarily be the defining feature of what may come to constitute 'traditional songs' in the future... I don't know. Does any future 'tradition' of songs, necessarily have to fully echo all the characteristics of the old oral tradition, in order to eventually come to be considered 'traditional'?

Whatever the key characteristis of the old oral tradition were, all that matters to me is that the songs that were gathered from the old oral tradition, can be identified as a distinct body of material that was circulated among the working people and were extremely popular once upon a time long ago. Now they represent a part of our common cultural heritage, and a niche interest for some of us interested in refering back to them for our own enjoyment.

Anyway, I don't think I'm properly mentally equipped to be able to grapple with all these abstracts right now!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Batsman of the Kalahari
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 11:57 AM

Jim Carroll confuses prats with Pratts - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khqxEFH90IU.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 12:07 PM

Thank you Batsman - regards to Robin
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 12:07 PM

Jim:   I suspect that the attrubutn of these songs to HVIII probably what Peter Opie used to call a bit of 'folklore about folklore'. & lack of variation not entirely true re Greensleeves: whatever might have happened to words, the tune has gone all sorts of ways, like O Shepherd Will You Come Home?, the bacca-pipes jig variant, and the one sung as Since Laws Were Made by Macheath in condemned cell in The Beggar's Opera & noted as 'Greensleeves' in the text, but which has quite a few differences from the well-known Alas My Love air which you adduce.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 12:20 PM

I agree with your first point Mike, and bow to your superior knowlege on the second - bad choice of example, but I believe my general point was correct.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 12:37 PM

If today's (or yesterday's, or the day's before) pop songs were going to become 'traditional', surely there would be some signs of the process taking place.
Sure; pop songs are parodied by children or for political or sporting purposes.... etc, but I think that's something else.
Jim Carroll

Jim,
Have you not come across 'My Brudda Sylvest', or the many Harry Clifton songs of the 1860s found in folk-song collections, or John Howson's 'Songs Sung in Suffolk'? And why, for God's sake, are parodies not folk/traditional song?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bert
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 12:54 PM

GUEST,Angus & Julia, I think that one can also argue that technology has just sped up the process.

And, you might want to take a look at what technology did to American Square Dancing.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 01:04 PM

Hi Steve,
Have come across Sylvest - and am happy to accept it - though not as part of a general tendency. It was, I believe, one of the songs extremely popular among soldiers.
Parodies - it wasn't my intention to claim that they're were not traditional - of course they are.
Jim, Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 01:21 PM

The shit idea that what they gave us is no different to T Rex, or Daniel O'Donnell, or Robbie Williams, or Frank Sinatra or Luciano Pavarotti....

Any music made with love, passion, commitment, joy etc has an intrinsic value, whether it is an elderly country man singing songs handed down to him; an Italian opera singer belting out the classics; a teenage girl in her bedroom with a guitar putting the finishing touches on the first original song she has written; a bunch of middle aged men belting their favourite songs from their younger days in the back room of a pub; a group of free jazz musicians experimenting with the outer limits of post-post-bop… To try and impose some sort of artificial hierarchy based on spurious and subjective notions of purity or authenticity does no-one any favours, least of all those who love traditional song. I totally accept that there is a difference between the sort of tin pan alley manufactured pop that is produced assembly-line style to shift units and sell newspaper column inches, but now more than ever that is a small minority of the totality of music being created. Traditional folk is different to manufactured pop product – but then again so is most music.

The music you appear to prefer was made, packaged and sold to us. We had no part in its making; it is a commodity, and not too long in the future it will be scrapped and we will be given something else to listen to; and so ad infinitum. WE HAD NO PART IN ITS MAKING. IT WILL NEVER BE OURS, THE ONLY CLAIM WE HAVE ON IT IS THE ONE WE PURCHASED, THE RIGHT TO LISTEN TO IT.

I had no part in making any, be it traditional folk, manufactured pop or the vast majority of music which is neither one nor the other of those two examples. I would go as far as to say that your position as expressed above is grossly insulting to those people who enjoy playing and listening to music of all sorts – and do so for no reason other than it brings them immense pleasure. I would also add that traditional folk is a type of music that I can only purchase. I do not live in a community that has a living folk tradition. Most of the traditional singers who were recorded are dead or inactive and their music is only available to me in terms of "purchasing the right to listen to it". Yes, I can sing a traditional song in a pub and listen to other hobbyists do the same – but that is true of all types of music as thousands up and down the country who regularly bring themselves and others pleasure at folk clubs, open mics, acoustic nights and so on will readily attest.

Folk music is ours, it is 'The Music of The People'; made by them/us to express our/their lives and experiences, then passed on to others who re-made it so it became theirs. It is our culture, our history, our experiences, our emotions..... made by working people: mill workers, miners, seamen, farm workers..... 'ordinary people' if there is such a thing.

Was, maybe, in some communities. Nowadays, the "music of the people" is the music that people enjoy listening to on their iPods and at concerts, playing at pubs and clubs and each others homes, creating in their home studios, sharing excitedly with their friends when they hear something that moves them. Yes, yes, yes, changes in technology has meant that people are more likely to pop a CD on than sing to themselves as they cook their tea or go about their job, but that's the world we live in. We may have been born into a world where, in many ways, many of us are "passive consumers" not active creators (or conduits or whatever) of music, but what right does that give you to sneer and look down your nose and attempt to undermine and invalidate the pleasure we do get from the music around us? The process is essentially the same. Some sing and play: others get pleasure from their singing and playing. That's how its been as long as I've been listening to music. Is there any thing intrinsically wrong with this? Is Jethro listening to Albert singing "Seeds of Love" in a 19th century field (or Peter listening to Martin attempting to reconstruct this in a present day folk club) intrinsically better than Emily listening to the Arctic Monkeys at the Manchester Academy or Chloe listening to Hannah strumming her songs of bedsit romance in the upstairs room of a café bar? Sure, Emily has to pay for her ticket, and so possibly does Chloe, but both are a willing participant in that transaction and both are presumably experiencing the same emotional responses to music as did Jethro.

Please try to understand that a passion for traditional song – especially when expressed in this sort of language - can sometimes spill over into a snide contempt for all the other music that people enjoy, and possibly enjoy for the same reasons that first drew you to folksong. Just because you can point to "the folk process" as a mechanism that made the transmission of traditional music different - in the pretechnological era - to modern music, doesn't give you the right to trash other stuff. As a child of the post-rock and roll era, I am more than comfortable with the concept of music as a smorgasbord, with tradtional folk as one of the many dishes available. A particularly tasty dish, true, but not the only one that can nourish and satisfy.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: MikeL2
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 01:22 PM

Hi crow sister

I am confused too.

To pick one of Jim's examples.

Sinatra released My Way and it has been recorded by dozens of other artists from Pavarotti to Presley and from Humperdink to Williams.

Although I don't go to any Karaoke's only when pressed I know from my sons and grandchildren that My Way is sung and parodied in almost every one. This has being going on for many years.

Is this not the "process"??

cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 01:37 PM

I don't know why I'm doing this really, but maybe it's a reaction to the rugby football.

There are unfortunately two largely similar but also crucially different forces at work here, and, again unfortunately, they go by the same term - one that ends in 'aditional.'

One of them describes a process set out, famously, in 1954 (only, of course, in 1954 they used another word which now also has two conflicting definitions). Jim has been fighting this corner very well in this thread.

The other describes a more modern version of that process, and quite a few other people have been championing this here.

We see this debate a lot.

In my view we all need to recognise BOTH the similarities AND the differences between these two processes.

Jim is right to remind us that the advent of audio recording, radio and other technologies changed the old process for ever. And we do need a word to describe songs and tunes that were formed and changed in the pre-technology era.

But the others are also right to claim that there is a modern equivalent - and that neither the existence of versions of audio recordings of songs (old or new), nor any copyright legislation, can entirely ossify a song. It can and usually will still be taken up into communal ownership to some extent, and then varied.

It's just that this second process, while similar to the first, is crucially different, because of the massive influence of the recorded versions, as broadcast by numerous media, on that process.

Why do we need to recognise this difference? For the same reason that we need to recognise the difference between an antique and a reproduction (not a perfect metaphor but the closest I can find). Yes, the reproduction may in time become as valued (or even more valued) as the antique, but it can never become the same thing.

So really we need two words, one for each process.

Having struggled with this for years I opted for a simple solution which I would again commend to this house.

Songs in the first category are often said to be in The Tradition. Note the capitals.

So, for me, old songs that fit the 54 definition are: "Traditional." (note the upper case)

Newer songs which are now being associated with some traditional activity, and/or which sound like Traditional songs, or which seem to be entering some modern equivalent of The Tradition may, repeat may, sometimes, with care, repeat with care, be associated with the "traditional" - but NEVER defined as such. (note the lower case).

Why? Because the word Traditional also has a quasi-legal meaning, vis; 'in the public domain' and it would be caddish, even potentially criminal, to apply that word to songs which are still in copyright.

All 'Traditional' songs are public domain - whether the writer is known or not, and regardless of the number of variants.

Some 'becoming traditional' songs are now in the public domain, but not many.

In time, as the lapse of time between the invention of the radio and record player and the break point on copyright lengthens, we may need to find another word for the in-betweens. Songs made in the mass media era may by then have have become traditional, but they can't ever become Traditional because the stable door was bolted before they were written.

So, for now; 'caveat emptor'

Tom


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 01:49 PM

If folk music had continued uninterrupted as a widespread and popular form, the conservative view of it may hold water. The fact is it didn't, it became exotic and rare. This exoticism was further rarified through collection, or more properly collectors.

There is no continuity, there is revival. A singer knocking out a Lord Randall in The Crooked Goose is not adding his notch to the long line, he is adding to a short row of revival singers and we applaud him for it. Most serious people accept that and once accepted recognise there is no tradition only traditions. If a few won't see self-evident truths that's their own business.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 03:39 PM

CS said "I still find it innapropriate to conflate the body of material archived from the old oral tradition, with modern songs of the revival which have been inspired by them."

Of course there's a difference, but I don't think it's any greater than the differences within the old oral tradition. (And by the way that tradition hasn't been purely oral for several centuries. It was mediated by the broadside presses. It was even mediated by the earliest collectors: versions have been collected that seem to derive from versions published by Sir Walter Scott, which were to some degree of his making, not as in circulation before he got at them. But that's a digression.)

CS: "Any amount of types of modern songs could pass into what might come to constitute 'traditional songs' in the future, not merely modern revival songs that have been intentionally composed in the 'folk idiom'. As I said elsewhere, my money would be on popular material by bands like The Beatles or Abba."

Quite plausible. Future generations, like past and present generations, will choose what they feel inclined to sing, whether or not it fits particular categories that anyone else recognises.

CS: "Though I think that revival songs will end up being recognised as a body of material in their own right, whether such songs eventually become considered to be 'traditional' in the same sense as songs from the old oral tradition are."

They might be assigned to their own category, but the dividing lines will be very hard to draw. Writers like Cyril Tawney on this side of the Pond and Utah Phillips on the other side wrote new songs of kinds that already existed: and that is itself one facet of the tradition. Which category would (for example) Tommy Armstrong's songs fall into? Or Banjo Patterson's (where they had tunes at the time, or even where they have been given tunes since his time)?

All of that said, my own tastes are close to what I gather CS's to be from her postings. By and large I prefer the songs that have passed the test of time, but I do also like some of the newer ones.

Just to stir the pot a bit more: recognising that much of the "traditional" repertoire consists of songs that were originally created as new songs some time in the last few centuries, I have some sympathy for James Reeves's phrase "the dross of centuries". Perhaps "dross" is too critical, but certainly "the folk" preserved some and abandoned others according to their whims at the time.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 03:52 PM

I partly agree with Tom Bliss's 27 Feb 10 - 01:37 PM posting, but (as in my previous posting) I don't think the dividing line is at all as sharp as he suggests. Yes, sound recordings stabilise words and tunes, but that doesn't eliminate all changes, and some singers deliberately make major changes to traditional songs. We can approve or disapprove of such changes according to our personal tastes, but we shouldn't pretend they don't happen.

And, long before sound recording started, at least the words of many songs, though generally not the tunes, were stabilised by the broadsides.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 03:52 PM

SC
You are inferring a great deal into what I wrote.
I in no way attempted to impose a heirarchy on anything, nor have I ever implied that my preferences are any better than anybody elses - that's down to personal taste, nothing else. What is under discussion is definition, not taste.
"I had no part in making any, be it traditional folk,....."
Neither did I personally; but it was quite possible that members of my family did in the past, and if they didn't, the songs that came to be referred to as 'folk' represented and reflected their lives and experiences - as emigrants fleeing the Irish famine in the eighteen forties; as merchant seamen sailing out of Liverpool under sail; as trades unionists in Stoke-on-Trent campaigning for a decent wage.
My father returned from war-torn Spain with half a dozen folk songs which had been made to record the experiences of people like him - that is the 'we' I am referring to.
I would suggest that what you describe does none of these things - not better or worse, just different. I certainly am not sneering at any other type of music, nor the pleasure it brings - my own personal tastes are far to catholic for me to do that - jazz, classics, blues, opera, swing, 30s popular....... and more.
Tom:
We've been here before - I apologise in advance if I go over old ground.
"....now also has two conflicting definitions"
This is, to my mind, the crux of our problem; there are not have two conflicting definitions - traditional is the process a song undergoes to achieve that status and folk refers to the communities that the songs served. These communities were and continue to be described in numerous works; George Lawrence Gomme in his 'Village Community', Aarensberg and Kimball - Family and Community in Ireland, David Buchan - The Ballad and The Folk and virtually anything by George Ewart Evans or C Estyn Evans (and many, many more). These communities produced an identifiable body of songs, stories, music, lore, customs and traditions which were referred to as 'folk' and that's the door I and everyboy else who shared my interests walked through in the late fifties, early sixties. Things didn't really change very much right up to the mid-eighties when more and more, other types of music began to be performed at 'folk' clubs until it all but swamped the old stuff away and many of us upped and went.
The problem would not have been half so acute if the old stuff had been replaced by an identifiable alternative - it wasn't. The clubs became used as a dumping ground for anything people wanted to perform - I know I harp on it - but read SO'P's list; it's a fair assortment of what now passes for 'folk' at (I think many) clubs (though Bryan Creer would have it otherwise). It certainly didn't help me in selecting what I wish to listen to - and I can't see how it can possibly be any benefit to you (Tom) as a perforformer - surely it leaves you with no identity.
I have a further problem.
I am involved in research; in documenting, indexing and describing a large body of material we have recorded over the last thirty odd years. I describe what we did as 'folk song collecting'. For cross-referencing our collection I would use works like 'The Roud Folk Song Index', draw comparisons from such works as the 'Greig Duncan Folk Song Collection'. Eventually part of our our collection will end up with the English Folk Dance And Song Society' whose journal is The Folk Music Journal.
Last year I bought an extremely useful book on Scots Chapbooks called 'Folk in Print' and was given for my birthday 'Folk Music in Europe'.
I am looking forward to being given access to the Carpenter Collection, which is probably the largest body of songs and ballads ever collected by one individual. An introduction to his work in Scotland begins "Some years after James Madison Carpenter had returned.... after extensive folksong and folklore collecting..." (Folk Music Journal 1998).
If somebody asked me for advice on where to look for the music I have always called folk I would point them to 'The Penguin Book of English Folk Song' or the Topic series 'Folksongs of Britain', or Lloyd's 'Folk Song in England'. If they asked me where tthey could stll hear it live, what should I say; "Don't go to a folk club; they don't do folk any more"?
You said once that 'folk' is now understood by many millions to be something entitely different - it isn't; by and large it has escaped the attention of the world at large. If you asked the average persons-in-the street what they understood as folk they would be far more likely to point you to The Dubliners or The Spinners or The Clancys... et al, than at what passes for folk in clubs today. The term has been hi-jacked by people who, if you ask them, will wave their arms and tell you they are unable to define their music - isn't that as much a problem for you as it is for me?
Sorry to have taken so long.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 07:20 PM

Good stuff, I have found much that I can agree with/ identify with in the last 7 posts. It seems to me that a lot of the disagreement can be traced back to disagreement over definitions. The sort of definitions you are looking for would take more than a lifetime to formulate. As with other genres of music we need to bite the bullet and accept that almost all genres of music overlap in several ways.
Each genre is made up of a large number of characteristics and some of those characteristics are shared with other genres.

As an indexer of folk song/traditional song of some 40 years I have had to draw up my own dividing lines basically so that I can establish a workable body of material. I realise that to a great extent these boundaries are artificial and simply utilitarian. My indexes are similar to the Roud Indexes in size and content and working with Steve I know that we don't always define things in the same way or draw up the same boundaries. That doesn't stop us co-operating in the common cause. Steve's main song index is pretty much all-encompassing and inclusive, as was Child's ballad canon to an extent. I find it easier to work with more strictly defined smaller indexes, English traditional song/ballad (simply put..those songs collected in England from oral tradition); shanties; carols; bawdry; forces songs; children's; European ballads; terrace chants. All of the rest including any oral songs from the rest of the English-speaking world go into one big index. Of course there is a small amount of overlap and these go into more than one index where appropriate.

This is a great thread. Please let's take out the personal point scoring! It doesn't get us anywhere.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 07:37 PM

I mentioned the use of YouTube and social network sites to support the music (and related activities) of dispersed ethnic minorities. Steve mentioned terrace chants - I would guess that football supporters use these media in the same way? Have many new terrace chants been spread by YouTube or Facebook filling the role of the broadside vendor?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Soldier boy
Date: 27 Feb 10 - 09:13 PM

What a load of hot air!

So much 'intellectual' debate and all in vain.

It all carries no more meaning or purpose than 'The Hitch-hiker's Guide to The Galaxy' declaring that the answer to everything is 42!

How can anyone draw a line in history and say(for example) that anything pre-1954 etc is traditional and anything after that isn't or that the 'author' has to be dead to be included in that category or that if an author is 'known' it doesn't count?

It's like declaring a time-line between BC and AD or that any object on the planet after a certain date can no longer be called 'antique'.
That we are frozen in time and that nothing you do or create now counts one jot unless it originated from our father's father's generation and that our generation and our children's children's generation means nothing because they are too 'new'.

The passage of time will always create it's own heroes in folklore.

Categories/definitions/divisions/differences/variations/characteristics/justifications/pidgeon holes?

What a load of piffle!!!!!

'Is traditional song finished?'

Of course not;... it's..... still....... BEGINNING!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 12:32 AM

SOLDIER BOY ~~ I see your point but you are overstating. All attempts at taxonomy come up against the same inbuilt exceptions and other disadvantages. The 'hot air' accusation can never be far away. But the attempts must still be made, despite the impossibility of ever attaining perfection, in any field.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 03:57 AM

"So much 'intellectual' debate and all in vain."

In vain for you.
I find it helpful to *try* to gain a reasonably clear perspective on this stuff.

You'll be saying next what a waste of time indeces for libraries are, after all they're all just "books". I like a bit of ancient Greek drama now and then. It's labelled 'ancient' because it was popular during a particular period in history - and that label makes it easier to find a copy of what might interest me (now and then), over say, something written last week.

So no, definitions are not in vain, they are pragmatic and useful ways of organising vast swathes of stuff, for those of us that are interested.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 04:08 AM

You went on to say (and I reproduce again directly from your posting) "and if there was, they certainly didn't make these songs, much less sing the bloody things"

Meaning of course that ordinary people don't make extraordinary songs. As I say - as a working-class person I don't believe the working-class to be in any way ordinary.

You now compound this by claiming that "much has been put into the mouths of the miners by the agenda-obsessed fakelorists of The Revival", also directly reproduced from your posting
PROVE IT.


I was thinking of specifically The Blackleg Miner which has been discussed HERE as being a Bert Song based on an American prototype. In the Farne Archive it sources the song to a man in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, in 1949 which is, as has been shown, a palpable fallacy. How many others there are I shudder to think. Having grown up in that region (Seghill / Delaval) I can honestly say the only people singing these songs in the 60s and 70s were the middle-class folkies, and this despite the ongoing pride, musicality & militancy of the culture and its language, dialect and traditions. In the 80s /90s I lived in many ex & soon-to-be ex mining communities in County Durham and have spoken with many proud & elderly miners and naturally I have asked them about Folk Songs only to be met with blank looks. One I spoke to, aged 90 around 1992, openly shared his songs with me & talked of the traditions of his youth including the making of one-string fiddles which they played in three-part harmony to play carols at Christmas. A respected singer throughout the South Durham villages, he couldn't tell me anything about so-called Folk Songs - and he wasn't alone in that. I'm not offering this as proof as such, just an indication that your vision of a hearty folk-song singing proletariat might just be a complete fantasy propagated somewhat ingenuously at the expense of the true culture of the working-class.

You are a pratt - and a supercilious one

Pitiful, old man - absolutely pitiful.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 04:43 AM

Richard Mellish:

I wasn't saying there was a 'Sharp' dividing line, far from it. I was saying that there are two processes which share many characteristics, but which need to be seen as different.

And yes, there is a big grey area in the middle, which also sneaks and leaks out in curly wisps along both axes.

I see a lot of entrenched views in these discussions, yet always hope each side will recognise the weaknesses in their own arguments and the validity of those opposite - because there is right on both sides.

There is no sharp line.

(Please note my 'T's and 't's forthwith)

Some 'island' communities, or those which maintain a really strong community with a continuing aural tradition (I prefer that to oral, because it's the listening which is key) have gone on making new Traditional songs to this day. Plus, as we've said, there are still various traditional and evolutionary influences at work. But neither of these factors are influential enough to generate the localisation, the occupationalisation, the regionalisation and the vast numbers of variants, that we find among the main body of Traditional material. Therefore we can interpolate far less historical, sociological and musicalogical information from them, and we can only know this if we know which type of material we are dealing with. Hence why Traditional material needs to be labelled correctly.

Contrariwise, collectors since the dawn of time, 'folk song Shakespeares', broadside printers, court musicians and others have had more influence, I believe, on Traditional music than is frequently suggested. But by the same token, these influences worked within and alongside the aural Tradition, giving us the archive we see today. It is equally wrong to suggest that these influences are akin to those of today's mass media. Yes, the two groups have some similarities, but they are so different in scale as to be incomparable.

So yes there is overlap, but glueman has it (Jim said something similar). In the latter case we are dealing with a revival, after the original process had effectively stopped. So there IS a line, a thick, grey, smudgy line, but it spans the two World Wars, and largely anything from before that can potentially be Traditional, anything from after it can't.

Then add in the rules of law and common decency around copyright and attribution and you wind up with the position I have taken above.

Tom

Jim, I've said this before: working professionals have to work with the market as they find it. They have to research the terminology and expectations of the people they hope will buy their product, and then express their sales pitch in that 'universal' language rather than the rarified language of academia. My problems were never about using the words 'Folk,' 'Traditional' and 'Songwriter' within the movement - it was around using them outside the movement.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 05:18 AM

I was thinking of specifically The Blackleg Miner which has been discussed HERE as being a Bert Song based on an American prototype.

Do you have a problem with British singers adopting songs from America? It was possibly inspired in part by "Which Side Are You On?". The origins of that one are not in any doubt and owe nothing to the revival.

A local one is the Midlothian Miners Song, which dates from the 1970s. Its author was a miner from Gorebridge or Arniston - he doesn't seem very keen on being traced and has never shown up in local folk and trad venues. He adapted a song from the coalfields of north-east England, which is in one of Roy Palmer's collections, but whether he got it from Palmer or some independent route from the original broadside I don't know. (It was published in Billy Kay's "Odyssey" collection - Kay didn't know where it came from either).

Mining communities have a lot of skilled musicians (hence the success of colliery bands and, in Scotland, the number of miner-fiddlers there have been). They'd get bored doing nothing but agitational songs, but there's no doubt they can turn their hands to them when they want. The Newtongrange Folk Club was run by ex-miners and people from minng families since it started. They may not be as revolutionary as Lloyd would have liked but they have musical skills he would have respected.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 05:21 AM

The matter for me is a simple one.
As a researcher trying to make the work we have done accessible, I am bound to work within the existing definititions. If those definitions are altered by common agreement, then I'll work within the new ones. I'm happy to take part in the fine tuning of the defintions based on our field work; I've always said it needs to be done, but until that happens, the present ones are perfectly adequate to work with.
As far as my being part of an audience and a sometime singer.
I want the right to choose what I listen to. If I go to a folk club it has to correspond with what I know folk song sounds like. I have no objection to songs that are written in folk song styles - these are an essential part of how I see the folk revival - I've sung them myself and have always admired song makers who write them: MacColl, Seeger, McGinn, Tawney, Rossleson, Pickford, O'Driscoll, McNaughton, Pete Smith...... and the many hundreds of others who have given me pleasure at one time or the other.
If I want to listen to Madonna, Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga, Paul McCartney, The Stones.... I'll seek out the real thing elsewhere or a competent effort; I'm not prepared to settle for fifteenth-rate wannabes, and I certainly don't want to hear it at a folk club. Passing these off as 'folk' robs me of my right to choose the music I want to listen to, just as if I had turned up for a night of opera to find Kevin Mitchell (one of my favourite singers) topping the bill.
SO'P Lloyd may or may not have written Blackleg Miner - but to claim that this proves collectors or researchers to be 'agenda-obsessed fakelorists' is pretty agenda-driven and 'pathetic' in itself. You may not have found folk songs among the workers you talked to - we found plenty (or did we make it all up) and so did hundreds of other collectors; thumb your way through the BBC project index, or Mike Yates' collectiojn, or Tom Munnelly's or Hugh Shields' or Peter Hall's or Hamish Henderson's......................................... and see what you come up with.
As I said - prove it, and it may help your case if you dropped your supercilious attitude - old man.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 05:50 AM

Do you have a problem with British singers adopting songs from America?

Not at all, but adopting the songs is one thing, passing them off as Traditional to a particular community is quite another. If a Northumberland Miner had adopted the song there would be no case, but that Bert Lloyd did it is an indication of a tendency to plant and falsify evidence which compromises the entire cause.

No one is questioning the musicality of the culture, just the extent to which Folk Song permeated that culture as a whole. Obviously it did to some extent - the songs of Tommy Armstrong show a keen awareness of the nature of traditional song structure & melody, but in Tommy Armstrong do we have a traditional or idiosyncratic talent? And is there a difference between the two? Whatever the case, his songs resonate from well within the culture and the tradition as clear examples of the canny working-class genius I've been arguing for all along. They are sung on Tyneside as Folk Songs - very much of the people - a uniquely authentic window into the times, and as militant as they come.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 07:58 AM

If I go to a folk club it has to correspond with what I know folk song sounds like. I have no objection to songs that are written in folk song styles - these are an essential part of how I see the folk revival - I've sung them myself and have always admired song makers who write them: MacColl, Seeger, McGinn, Tawney, Rossleson, Pickford, O'Driscoll, McNaughton, Pete Smith...... and the many hundreds of others who have given me pleasure at one time or the other.

That's a pretty grim confession, old man, but one that accounts for much of that which we've e'er tussled over these past months. Not only do I disregard much Neo-Trad Revival Singers, but the work of Neo-Trad Bogus Folk Song Writers I've regarded with cringing disdain since first exposed to it. There are exceptions, as there must be to any rule - Ron Baxter, Peter Bellamy, Rudyard Kipling, Bob Pegg to name but four - but songs that are written in folk song styles - these are an essential part of how I see the folk revival too, but that ain't a good thing. On the contrary, it obfuscates the glory of The Tradition and pushes it back into an even greater obscurity than it might have enjoyed otherwise.

Is that a supercilious thing to say? Maybe it is, but what else do you expect from a Square Peg?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 08:25 AM

Jim Carroll

read SO'P's list; it's a fair assortment of what now passes for 'folk' at (I think many) clubs (though Bryan Creer would have it otherwise).

Not stalking me again are you Jim?

Earlier you said -
I don't believe the clubs are in terminal decline, otherwise I wouldn't waste time discussing them

But now you are saying -
If they asked me where tthey could stll hear it live, what should I say; "Don't go to a folk club; they don't do folk any more"?

You have said of S O'P -
"What utter crap; you really do go from idiocy to idiocy SO'P."
"so far you have given nothing but bullshit and doublespeak verbiage"
"All you've shown over and over again is your ignorance and indifference."
"You are a pratt - and a supercilious one - old man."


and yet you use his version of what goes on at Fleetwood Folk Club as the key piece of evidence for your repeated attacks on UK folk clubs. You completely ignore Sailor Ron's response. Despite conceding that the Lewes Saturday Folk Club might have its merits, you brush aside anything I have to say as worthless.
A couple of days ago, Brian Peters said -
I see a lot of folk venues - clubs, festivals etc. - on my travels, and, although I can remember some gruesome examples of that stereotype, it's not very common. I gravitated towards the folk scene because (at its best) it was the opposite of MOR.

I think Brian knows a great deal more about what is going on in UK folk clubs than you, me or S O'P but it doesn't fit your ideas so you ignore him.

There are a lot of us working hard to try and promote precisely the sort of music you want. How about giving us some support?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 08:42 AM

Tom:
"....have to work with the market as they find it"
Personally I'm not happy with market driven folk - the attention usually shifts from making music to making a living, and that, for me, can't be a good thing.
Those of us who have been around long enough to remember the folk boom know the hoops performers had to jump through to stay in the game.
Around ten years ago one of Ireland's finest fiddle players appeared on a television programme entitled "Has Our Music Been Sold Out?", a revolutionary enough title that, I'm sure, would never be asked on the British media.
He pointed out that it was virtually impossible for a solo artist playing traditional music to make a living without being part of a group.
In the intervening period things have changed radically; the music has reached a degree of acceptance with the establishment, we have wall-to-wall media presence, both in performance and academic presentation, and youngsters ar flocking to it in droves to the extent of guaranteeing that it will survive as a performed art for at least another couple of generations. All done by focus and dedication.
"Neo-Trad Bogus Folk Song Writers...."
Not supecilious, just the old usual dismissive snide.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 11:09 AM

Bryan,
You have my complete support absolutely, but this doesn't include ignoring pleas for poor or no standards, complaints that ballads are too long, that evenings of 'just folksongs' are boring... and all the other suggestions that, for me, lead to bad clubs. If SO'P was the only one peddling such ideas his billious snide might be treated with the contempt it deserves, but he isn't.
I am happy to trawl through this forum and ressurect all the old arguments, but I am sure you are more than capable of doing so yourself should you wish to.
I do not say the Lewes Clubs (plural) might have their merits, I accept, from you and others, that they are good clubs and believe that if others emulated them there would be less cause for concern.
Quoting you is not stalking you - yours and SO'Ps opinions represent two sides to the argument and I thought it worth presenting yours - sorry if I offended.
My 'Don't go to a folk club' was addressed to the fact that many clubs no longer present folk songs - what else is there to say?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 12:07 PM

You have said of S O'P -
"What utter crap; you really do go from idiocy to idiocy SO'P."
"so far you have given nothing but bullshit and doublespeak verbiage"
"All you've shown over and over again is your ignorance and indifference."
"You are a pratt - and a supercilious one - old man."


You seem to feel this sort of personal abuse is in some way justified, TheSnail - why is that I wonder?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 12:48 PM

SO'P
You never miss an opportunity to attach researchers you don't agree with in the most abusively insulting terms - you can hardly complain when others emulate your approach and respond in kind.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 02:06 PM

I'll deal with the simple one first.

Suibhne O'Piobaireachd

You seem to feel this sort of personal abuse is in some way justified, TheSnail - why is that I wonder?

I most certainly do not. There are times when you make some very valid points , clearly and logically presented. There are others when, as others have pointed out, you appear to speak incoherent gibberish. That is neither here nor there. I was merely pointing out to Jim that, while he seems to have nothing but contempt for everything you say, he uses that one post of yours as his primary (if not only) evidence for the current state of UK folk clubs.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 02:16 PM

In a word No.......but that is probably due to the company I keeep


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 02:17 PM

Whoops.... that wis me......Diva


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 03:12 PM

ours and SO'Ps opinions represent two sides to the argument

All I want from a folk club is a singaround of traditional songs sang with passion, courage & conviction. I used to get this in the North East; in the North West such an event is like hen's teeth. As I say, I have tried and failed to appreciate this state of affairs. I don't want residents, resident bands, two-song floor spots, MCs, PAs and introductions. I just want a filthy back room, a half decent pint and a bunch of people who love the Old Traditional Songs as much & more than I do.

That's my argument.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 03:34 PM

to the OP,not as far as I am concerned.
I shall continue to sing traditional songs as long as I am able,because I like them.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 03:40 PM

"All I want from a folk club is a singaround of traditional songs sang with passion, courage & conviction. I used to get this in the North East; in the North West such an event is like hen's teeth. As I say, I have tried and failed to appreciate this state of affairs. I don't want residents, resident bands, two-song floor spots, MCs, PAs and introductions. I just want a filthy back room, a half decent pint and a bunch of people who love the Old Traditional Songs as much & more than I do.

That's my argument."

Seriously? Because that is emphatically NOT the impression I've gotten from reading . . . oh, hundred of your posts. What happened to 'all music is traditional, folk is a context, all is one, let's get real gone for a change, etc. (I paraphrase, but I don't think I'm representing your musical gnosticism/panthiesm). If that's your argument, then I have no argument with you. But little or nothing I've read of your posts prepares me to believe that is really your argument.

Unless I am hopelessly befuddled. Again.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 04:10 PM

"Seriously? Because that is emphatically NOT the impression I've gotten from reading . . . oh, hundred of your posts."

Irrespective of SO'P's tendency to think outside of the box - a trait which may wrongfoot some - I've always thought him to be one of the most decidedly passionate proponents of traditional song on this forum.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 05:31 PM

Me too CS. But then I learnt very early on Mudcat that posts which I felt conciliatory to the point of sycophancy would make a few people - fortunately the same few people - incandescent with rage. SO'P sums up folk, the mixture of history, context, practice and harsh reality to a tee.

I see none of the barbarians at the gate or black helicopters they tell us will bring folk to its knees.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 06:28 PM

"I've always thought him to be one of the most decidedly passionate proponents of traditional song on this forum."

But if all music is traditional, what exactly is traditional song? SO'P repeatedly has argued for open-ended definitions of folk and traditional, then he comes back and apparently wants these words to mean something very specific. I don't think I'm being unfair.

"I see none of the barbarians at the gate or black helicopters they tell us will bring folk to its knees."

Neither do I, but then again I have no idea what you're talking about.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 06:37 PM

Foithermore...

I don't want guests either, or groups, rather I want individuals in free-floating anarcho-folk syndicalism who are too pissed and stoned to think straight. In this state let us become mediums for the spectral wonderment of Traditional Folk Song. Leave your names, faces & egos at the door; wear masks of woven corn and antler-bone to enforce anonymity & let deference be the benchmark of our dedication to our craft. Black candles, firelight, cigarettes, frankincense, myrrh & near fatal doses of hallucinogenic fungi to bring us into to closer communion with the unsayable essence of the thing.

Now that's what I call Folk...


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 06:46 PM

Will the Brethren of the Free Spirit be invited? How about the Ranters? Flagellents, both German and Italian? Or is this just a UK sit-down?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 06:52 PM

SO'P - you've just summed it up perfectly in two short and beautiful posts. Next time I see you - hopefully at a musical seance with lashings of spectral leakage - I'll stand you that half decent pint. I guess after all the talking and philosophising about what we get* sometimes a simple statement of what we want cuts right through the fug wonderfully.

*Especially in a designated folk context (to nick your phrase) like this, where description, commentary, opinion and analysis gets repeatedly and wilfully mislabelled as advocacy of what is being described (c/f observational rap narratives about fear and loathing in the American inner-city getting routinely confused with self-disclosure)


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 06:56 PM

GG: "The Brethren of the Free Spirit"

Tangentially, this reminds me. There's a wonderful album by guitarist James Blackshaw and lutenist Josef Van Wizzem who play as a duo under this name. Their album, "the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb" is as wonderful listen. Myspace link above.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 06:58 PM

Apologise for poorly edited post with inexcusable repetition.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 07:59 PM

"
All I want from a folk club is a singaround of traditional songs sang with passion...."
Perhaps if you'd said this more often we wouldn't be at each others throats as often as we are.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Suffet
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 11:05 PM

There is plenty of traditional song alive, well, and flourishing on the island of Puerto Rico and in Puerto Rican communities in the USA. That song is called plena, and it chronicles events of the day, both major and minor. Some plena makes fun of political or business leaders, some tells stories of disasters such as hurricanes or fires, some makes social commentary, and some just tells of pretty women, ruthless criminals, mean bosses, and bad luck. In other words, it's the kind of folk music we would all love and enjoy.

Closely related to plena is bomba. In addition to all of the above, bomba is used to accompany dancers who act out the lyrics in their dance in a way that the bomba becomes a conversation between the singer and the dancer.

The two forms of traditional song are so closely related that they are often thought of as a single genre called bomba y plena, much like people speak of country and western music.

There has been some scholarly study of bomba y plena, but not nealy enough as it deserves.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bert
Date: 28 Feb 10 - 11:43 PM

...Some plena makes fun of political or business leaders, some tells stories of disasters such as hurricanes or fires, some makes social commentary, and some just tells of pretty women, ruthless criminals, mean bosses, and bad luck...

That is exactly what us singer/songwriters are doing. But of course we are not Puerto Rican so I guess that doesn't count.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 04:59 AM

Shit - is that March already? How the time flies in the grim grip of Winter, though by now I dare say we're all warming to the thoughts of spring... Lots of lambs & snowdrops abounding but I'll hang on until the equinox before allowing my spirits to rise too high.

Yeah, Traditional Song, which is at the core of my folk faith as I don't believe I've ever made too much a secret about. Nor yet have I argued that all is one, though what I have suggested is that folk these days would appear to be defined more by context than it is by content. This is more of anthropological observation than it is a hard and fast definition - that it appears that all music can be folk if played in designated folk context (refer you to the owld rag bag for a summary of genres I've experienced). I must admit I'm torn here between my sunny objective open-mindedness (where I'm quite happy for people to do anything they wish to do) and my shadowy subjective narrow-mindedness (where I'm only truly happy when traditional songs are being sung generally without accompaniment). This is my Jekyll & Hyde Folk Duality; I try to be a better person, I really do, arguing for accommodation and inclusivity, but deep down I'm a divisive little shit who would like to see the folk clubs cleansed & segregated & rated accordingly.

Time was, I could find enough Traditional Singarounds in Filthy Back Rooms of Unreconstructed Public Houses to slip therein unnoticed with my pipe & bowl and just listen. If anyone asked if I sang, I'd shake my head because truth to tell I'd rather listen than sing - especially if the singers are better than I am & have done their work. Time was this was invariably the case. I do not see myself as a Folk Singer per se, rather a Philosophical Experimental Musician & Storyteller who has been seduced into singing the Old English-Speaking Popular Songs & Ballads out of a feeling that if I don't sing them, who the hell else is going to? Few of my generation (born 1961) that's for sure.

I have been singing these songs for 34 years or so now, but I'd still rather listen than sing, much less have to perform the bloody things by way of a floor spot. I am a performer; I get paid good money to perform and my performances include many Old English-Speaking Popular Songs & Ballads alongside Folk Tales from the Indo-European Tradition. However I don't perform in singarounds & on singers nights; and I don't expect to hear performances either; what I expect to hear are Traditional Folk Songs sung with honesty and humility - songs sung well & with due deference to (and familiarity with) the source. Leave the egos at the door, my primary interest is in the song, not the singer, who is merely a medium for something of far greater interest to me than they'll ever be. There are exceptions to this, such as my wife, whom I met in a folk club and who has become so much more interesting to me than the songs I first heard her singing 17 years ago.

*

The other issue here is definition. I am not just a Folky / Traddy; I am a lover of music, pretty much all music (if you want the specifics go to my Myspace Page and look at the Influences & Inspirations bit) but above all I love the human context of music and the history & diversity thereof. I don't know of any music that can't be accounted for as being a traditional music, or yet a folk music according to the 1954 Definition. I point to the objectives of the International Council for Traditional Music in support of this, and also point out that the 1954 Definitive speaks not of genre but of derivation. This does not mean that all is one however, other than in the ironic sense that is The Horse Definition. In this sense I see The Folk Myth / Faith as a SECONDARY & ENTIRELY EXTRANEOUS & ERRONEOUS interpretation of the phenomena of the Old English-Speaking Popular Songs & Ballads by people who were not the working-class singers and makers of such material, but the bourgeois collectors of it. They are the academic taxonomists & the taxidermists to whom we owe a lot, but we don't we them everything. Traditional English-Speaking Folk Songs are not different according to their derivation - they are different because all Genres of Human Music are different. This is the nature of music. The problem being that whilst other musics are living genres defined by those within them; Folk Song (as in the Old English-Speaking Popular Songs & Ballads) is a dead genre that has been defined by those who collected it.

*

Please note, this is just my opinion - it is not an attack. Mudcat is a discussion forum after all. Discussion is good, insults somewhat less so, but understandable when passions run high, as they are wont to round here - but it could be a lot worse. I'd rather be slated for perceived idiocy & gobbledygook-ness that be the recipient of virtual ((((((hugs))))) to which my response would have to be a virtual !!!!!kick up the arse!!!!! whatever the circumstances.

Respect in the Excellence we Share in Simply Being Alive.

S O'P


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 05:43 AM

Bryan:
".....he uses that one post of yours as his primary (if not only) evidence for the current state of UK folk clubs."
I don't believe you to be a stupid person, so I can only conclude that you are deliberately distorting my worries on the state of the clubs - which really is not worthy of you.
My impressions are based on my own experience on the situation from the mid-eighties (as limited as that now is) and a great deal of evidence from elsewhere, much from this forum.
Your head-in-the-sand dishonesty in denying that this evidence exists only acts as confirmation that things are as they seem - If we can't rely on the organisers of the good clubs.......
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 06:01 AM

One myth I must put my two pennorth to, much as I love myths. Traditional songs did not last the distance because they were 'better', they did so because they were memorable and collectable. Some traditional songs are marvels, others pedestrian bits of fluff one can barely beiieve spoke to their own age, let alone our's.
Being traditional, even by conservative definitions is no guarantee of quality, only antiquity. It should go without saying but some people still elide subjective qualities onto simple chronology. You won't hear 'better' songs in a folk club you'll hear older songs.

As you were.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 07:33 AM

I dig provenance; its an essential part of my appreciation of stuff as a whole. In the antiques trade there is a lot of forgeries & repros; I find the residue of older times to be possessed of a particular patina which whilst being difficult to fake is not impossible, hence the necessity for provenance and the dedicated work of the taxonomists & taxidermists whose work I only deride because of the inherent class condescension one encounters in most areas of Folkloric Studies of a Certain Period & the legacy thereof.

I suppose we could open up a whole new can of worms here regarding the qualities of Traditional Songs - the recent ballad thread was an interesting example of this, but ultimately failed to grab me despite my passion for ballads. To do so would require a much broader remit on the societal conditions in which these songs arose, and discussion on the actual mechanics of the Folk Process, which to many would appear to be an end in itself, rather than the consequence of what I regard as highly exacting craftspersonship which is the key to any musical genre on whatever level of culture. This is why I stress the importance of individuals working within a tradition. I might cite the case of a young working-class non-musician by the name of Peter Hook who was moved to go out out and buy a bass guitar after seeing the Sex Pistols at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1976. Within two or three years he has not only absorbed the tradition of popular bass guitar playing, but reconstructed its entire vocabulary and inspired others to do likewise. This is the nature of tradition & individual mastery as a living idiom; we can see this happening, observe it & account for it because it is our common history. Even the most idiosyncratic Pop Singer, be it Lady Gaga or Mark E. Smith, is part of an ongoing tradition of music. No different from the quirky traditional singers who were as much valued for their evident idiosyncrasy as they are for being bearers of the tradition.   

With the old songs it's difficult because all we've got is the residue - the circumstantial evidences. Because we weren't there when they were made we might only conjecture, and ponder why they exist in such a proliferation of variation. That this seems somehow remarkable to academic minds is perhaps because the processes of music are somehow feral, exotic, alien - thus it becomes a subject to be studied at some considerable remove from the context in which it occurred - its natural habitat as it were, which is all but lost to us now. So now we're back to provenance, to origin, and the part this plays in our appreciation of the songs themselves which, I would argue, is not inconsiderable for very good reason.

Folk Song study is not an exact science, but it does have a very obvious Orthodoxy. As a Fortean I am suspicious of orthodoxies, even Fortean ones....


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Suffet
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 07:58 AM

Bert,

First you quoted me: ...Some plena makes fun of political or business leaders, some tells stories of disasters such as hurricanes or fires, some makes social commentary, and some just tells of pretty women, ruthless criminals, mean bosses, and bad luck...

And then you added: That is exactly what us singer/songwriters are doing. But of course we are not Puerto Rican so I guess that doesn't count.

I'm not sure I understand your point. If you believe I was somehow belittling contemporary singer-songwriters you are mistaken. I happen to be one myself.

My purpose was solely to answer the original question -- Is traditional song finished? -- in the negative by pointing out one culture where traditional song is very much alive. But the plena of Puerto Rico is only one example. The corrido of Mexico is another, and I am sure Mudcatters can cite others.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 10:47 AM

""My 'Don't go to a folk club' was addressed to the fact that many clubs no longer present folk songs - what else is there to say?""

Jim, I know you are one of the truly great exponents of the sweeping generalisation, but really, that is a step too far.

1. Your statement is patently untrue. I have performed in dozens of clubs and organised or assisted in organising about fifteen, and I can honestly say, hand on heart, I have never visited any folk club without hearing some genuine folk music. If you mean that there isn't enough to suit you, or that there is too much of a kind you dislike, just say so.

2. That statement is grossly misleading, and gravely insulting to all those who still devote their time, energy, and passion for music, to keeping open those venues where folk music can thrive, albeit alongside other genres which may be pleasing to those attending.

3. If you are so devoted to the music, it seems singularly stupid to be directing people away from the places where it can still be heard almost any day of the week, leaving them with only the comparatively small number of festivals occurring yearly, especially as those festivals also feature much that you despise.

You seem almost to be wanting to lock the tradition away in vaults where academics can hug it to themselves without having to allow access to the rabble outside.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 11:30 AM

Don - Read what I said in context - it was a rhetorical question addressed to Tom Bliss's re-definition of the term 'folk' in connection with introducing somebody new to the music.
Having said which, the point at which I actually decided not to visit any more clubs on the offchance was after having been to three of them on the trot where I actually heard no folksongs - all in the London area.
On my last visit to a 'folk club' (December) - I left after an hour of not having heard one that even vaguely fitted the term.
This is not to say that there aren't clubs which include full evenings of folk songs in their programme - of course there are - but try telling a classics or opera or jazz or blues or pop fan that you can only guarantee 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 per cent of what you call your club and see how far it gets you.
Anyway - the misuse of the term is only part of my point - the standard at which it is performed and the argument for not maintaining and raising the quality of performance is also an issue.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 11:52 AM

Jim Carroll

Your head-in-the-sand dishonesty in denying that this evidence exists only acts as confirmation that things are as they seem - If we can't rely on the organisers of the good clubs.......

Well, isn't that nice. And there I was working on a reasoned response to Jim's posting of 28 Feb 10 - 11:09 AM. Don't think I'll bother now.

For Don's benefit, here is a fuller exposition of Jim's possition on folk clubs -

Subject: RE: Should folk songs be sung in folk clubs?
From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 09:30 AM

Can I just make clear my position on the clubs and folk music.
I came on to the scene in the early sixties when virtually everything being presented as folk was just that – folk. We had some access to the BBC material collected ten years earlier through the Caedmon/Topic 'Folk Songs of Britain' series, and, thanks to some prodding by Alan Lomax we were examining our own British and Irish repertoires. It wasn't all great by any means, but the enthusiasm 'buzzed' and I can't recall people who got up to sing who were incapable of holding two notes together or reading from scripts – we all thought that the stuff we were doing was worth making an effort for.
Some clubs were 'purist' and frowned on non-folk songs and musical instruments, others like the Lloyd/MacColl camp, used accompaniment and saw the tradition as an inspiration for creating new songs. I was a part of this latter crowd; I even regarded Dylan as worth a listen before he 'popped out' of the scene and went for the big bucks. I admired songwriters like MacColl, Seeger, McGinn, Tawney, Pickford and the many others who were creating in the folk idiom – it was really what we were about. With the Radio Ballads I really thought we'd made it – the perfect marriage of the tradition and newly written songs.
In the mid seventies things started to change and by the eighties it became virtually impossible to be guaranteed a night of folk or folk related songs, the clubs had become a platform for navel-gazing introspective mumbling their way through stuff that was neither fish nor fowl; so thousands of walked away and what I described further up the thread happened – clubs, audiences, magazines, radio and TV programmes – all gone quicker than you could say Led Zepplin! And along with them, any chance of being taken seriously by the establishment in order to set up the necessary archives and libraries desperately needed to preserve what we had collected from the tradition. The big bang in the club scene was marked by a series of articles and letters in the then leading folk magazine, Folk Review entitled 'Crap Begets Crap'.
The scene hadn't yet become the refuge for failed, fifteenth-rate pop performers and would be Sinatra wannabes, that it has since become, but that didn't take too long to happen.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 12:42 PM

Bryan - can I accept that your non-response to my earlier point means that you feel suitably chastened or should I dream on?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 01:09 PM

Jim, you post addressed to me was abusive. If you would like to take part in a civilised discussion I would be happy to join you.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 01:35 PM

Bryan - what you said was blatently untrue - how civil;ised is that?
Don't worry - it was another rhetorical question anyway
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 01:52 PM

Jim Carroll

what you said was blatently untrue

What in particular?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 01:57 PM

I realise that I am a failure,but I didnt know I was a wannabe Frank Sinatra,or a fifteenth rate pop performer.
I am just a navel gazing introspective frank sinatra wannabe.I dit it my way with my concertina
http://www.dickmiles.com a


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 02:37 PM

"What in particular? "
Oh, come On!!!!!!!!!!
"".....he uses that one post of yours as his primary (if not only) evidence for the current state of UK folk clubs.""
NOT TRUE
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 02:41 PM

You've used it about a dozen times. What other evidence have you got, Jim?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 02:50 PM

Sorry to butt in but of it's evidence you want how about:

hand on heart, I have never visited any folk club without hearing some genuine folk music.

Or

those venues where folk music can thrive, albeit alongside other genres which may be pleasing to those attending.

I love the word thrive in this context.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 02:52 PM

The Snail quoted me as follows:
>> A couple of days ago, Brian Peters said -
I see a lot of folk venues - clubs, festivals etc. - on my travels, and, although I can remember some gruesome examples of that stereotype, it's not very common. I gravitated towards the folk scene because (at its best) it was the opposite of MOR.
I think Brian knows a great deal more about what is going on in UK folk clubs than you, me or S O'P <<

Lest we forget, the stereotype referred to by S O'P was that of "easy listening MOR pop music strummed out on acoustic guitars by an ever ageing baby-boomer demographic". Clubs specialising in that kind of thing do exist, but are less likely to hire me than ones with a more traditional preference (though naturally I've no interest in playing only to the converted), so perhaps my impressions are slanted. Nevertheless, just for interest - and with no desire at all to get involved in the bizarrre but inevitable fist fight between usual suspects, pretty well all of whom profess to love traditional English song - here are some recent impressions:

Three clubs last week, all London area, all allowing floor singers / residents one or two songs each. What did they perform? Overwhelmingly traditional English song, about 50% unaccompanied, 50% with guitar. Several intros naming source singers: Phil Tanner, Walter Pardon, Cyril Poacher. A couple of Child ballads, introduced as such. A well-played Appalachian song with banjo. Some Swedish fiddle tunes (no prizes: Tom Paley). Ron Angel's 'Chemical Workers' Song', sung well, unaccompanied. Some music hall. A couple of shanties. Nothing, that I can recall, that was written by the singer. Standards of performance generally good to high.

Admittedly that represents a more traditional bias than I sometimes hear at folk clubs in other areas (and ignoring for the moment what happens on festival stages), but my impression is actually that there is more traditional material sung in folk clubs these days (perhaps thanks to some well-promoted professionals providing role models?) than there was fifteen years ago.

I make no value judgements. Anyone following my posts here will have heard before that my favourite club ever was Harry Boardman's at the in Unicorn in Manchester during the 1980s (I'm biassed, it was my first and only club residency) where the mix consisted of about 60% traditional singing plus instrumental music, political/contemporary song, blues, poetry and some completely off-the-wall stuff. Nearly all of it good quality, in its own way.

What goes on in folk clubs, though, surely isn't the real point of the thread. What traditional song really means as far as I'm concerned is stuff that pretty much everyone in society apart from the upper classes performed for their own enjoyment - I don't really believe that Youtube sharers are quite the same thing, I'm afraid, much as I like their non-profit-making efforts.

As for the football chants that a few people here have seized on as a surviving singing tradition, while it's true that old chants are still going strong (and not knowing the words marks you out as a 'part-time supporter'), and that new ones are being made using all kinds of raw material, the fact is that this tradition is not as strong as it was in terms of particpation or breadth of repertoire. Too many modern trends conspire against it: seated stadia; sky-high ticket prices (not much under forty quid at Old Trafford these days) gentrifying the crowds; and deafeningly loud PA systems that celebrate goals and other moments of triumph with recordings of a tiny selection of fans' chants made by professional session singers, along with other irritating, high-volume bombast. At times you can barely hear yourself sing. I daresay this isn't a deliberate conspiracy to rob the fans of their traditions, but a marketing tool intended to intensify their experience, in the way that the pleasure of buying a new shirt or drinking a pint in a pub is intensified by all-pervading and ever-louder background music. Ultimately it will most likely kill massed football chanting, though.

Traditional song is, and has been, subjected to all the same kinds of social changes and commercial pressures that have killed off all kinds of things that used to be, but now aren't. You can call that 'progress', or mourn the casualties. Arguing whether or not people in folk clubs sing the old songs anymore seems to me to miss the point a bit.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 03:43 PM

"You've used it about a dozen times. What other evidence have you got, Jim? "
Bryan - both of us have been involved in threads on to whether standards are necessary or what one should expect at a 'folk' club, or if singers should be allowed to practice in public, or is it acceptible sing along with a solo singer uninvited, or whether ballads are too long, or if an evening of folk songs is boring at a folk club ..... over the last three years at least and witnessed the responses.
In the highly unlikely chance of your retracting your dishionest statement - can I suggest we forget it, stick to our own versions of what constitutes 'civilised debate' and get on with our lives.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 03:57 PM

Brian,
I'm fully with you on the crap that's blared out from the tannoys on the terraces, but don't underestimate the cop, the true fans. They even try to outsing the tannoys. Here at Hull City we have the god awful 'Tiger, tiger' poem blared out at us by some demented idiot with an overdramatic slur. BUT all of this goes on only before the match and in the interval. The match itself is left to the lads on the terraces. We've even had the temerity from some upstart wanting to usurp the cop distributing the words of their songs. Totally ignored of course. I know one or two prem teams have commissioned a fan or two to provide new chants, but the vast majority come from the lads who sing 'em and make 'em up on the spot, largely to the existing tunes. They're certainly not on the decrease, not in my experience, and long may that continue.

And it's Hull City, Hull City it is,
The finest team the world has ever seen.

One Brian Peters, there's only one Brian Peters,
One Brian Peters, ther's only one Brian Peters.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 04:11 PM

Brian, I hesitated before using your quote because I didn't want to drag you into this unpleasantness and I'm sorry if I misused what you said in any way. My excuse is that there are issues here that I care deeply about.

Folk clubs are struggling to recover from the damage done in the eighties (I blame Maggie Thatcher) in the face of a government that seems determined to stamp out all grass roots music of any sort.

Many people involved in folk music get highly agitated when some journalist gets a cheap laugh out of the folkie stereotype but I am more concerned with the damage done by those who should know better. The "I haven't been to a folk club for thirty years because I know how crap they are" brigade are of no importance but it causes me serious distress when someone of the stature of Jim Carroll seems to be determined to undermine the efforts of those of us who are doing our best to promote the music he claims to love. He is to be greatly respected for the valuable work he has done but now his contribution seems to be entirely negative.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 04:18 PM

OP
'Have we reached the stage yet where there are no more 'traditional' songs left to be collected?

Here is an honest attempt to answer the question.

First of all I interpret this as having nothing to do with folk clubs or the folk revival. (Paul is talking about collecting.) Okay, this absolutely depends on your definition of 'traditional'. Presumably we are talking about the English-speaking world so this would exclude the Corridos and the plena. we are also therefore talking about modern western society. Yes these are assumptions which may be incorrect. If you are talking about the broadside ballads and art songs that make up the vast bulk of what the first revival chose to call 'folk songs' then yes we have reached that stage. If you are talking about the songs sung in the bath, the coach trip, the odd bar-room, the songs floating about in people's heads, albeit the products of Tin-pan-Alley, then no. These songs people still remember from their youth. They're not the same type of songs as those 'folk songs' because they come from a different era, but they go through similar processes. Whether anyone would want to collect them or not, well again, only time will tell. The main impetus for collecting 'folk song' was because it was felt the songs were dying out and at least the tunes hadn't been recorded. We can't give that as a reason for collecting the songs of our youth.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 04:39 PM

Bryan - once again you (deliberately?) misrepresent what I say.
I did not stop going to clubs (30 years ago or thirty minutes ago), because I know how crap they are. I continued sing and to assist in the running of a club right up to the point when we left for Ireland. I stopped going to many other clubs regularly when it became virtually impossible to find one that guaranteed that I would hear a night of folk song (as I know it) reasonably sung. Perhaps you'd like to see some of the refusals Pat got when she tried to book in Walter Pardon for a tour only to be told - "Oh, we don't do anything like that, we're a folk club".
Far from being "determined to undermine the efforts of those of us who are doing our best to promote the music" I claim to love; I continue to be involved in the performance of song and music when the opportunity permits, and our collection has been available to the general public since we started thirty years ago, the main reason being we wish for the songs we collected to continue to be sung.
I involve myself in these often bitter and hurtful debates because I believe that the best way to keep the songs alive is through the clubs, but I also believe that the best way for this to happen is to adopt and apply standards to what yo invite the public to listen to and to honour the description 'folk' in a recognisable form in order to draw new people in.
The 'cheap laughs' I have seen have often been deserved through the poor standards that have developed in clubs. It lost us many of our audiences, it led to the closure of many clubs, the magazines we once had, our place on the media (as small as it was), shops catering for folk, record labels - all gone.
If I didn't care I wouldn't bother.
If you can't represent my opinion honestly, as apparently you can't, please don't refer to my opinions at all.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Paul Reade
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 04:43 PM

Thanks Steve - as you say, the thread was originally about collecting, in the English speaking world. I've never collected a song in my life, but I've sung a lot of traditional songs, and songs I thought were traditional but turned out to be recent compositions. I'm always on the lookout for new material.

If there are no more songs to be collected, then presumably a list of traditional songs could be compiled, and so put an end to a lot of the arguments. (I hesitate in calling it a "debate", because a debate where one side's stance is that the other shouldn't even be in the dabating chamber is bound to be a bit sterile).


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 05:05 PM

Paul,
There are plenty of versions of songs as yet unsung - I keep mentioning The James Madison Carpenter Collection which I hope will eventually available. Not so long ago The Greig Duncan Folk Song Collection was completed and made available in 8 large volumes. There are still many recorded collections lying around untouched. There has been no serious work done on the Grainger collection, recorded on cylinder in 1908, mainly in Lincolnshire, and still unpublished in a serious form. The making available of all these is completely dependent on folk song being taken seriously enough to generate the finances and the labour necessary.
As for a list of traditional songs' Steve Roud has done a magnificent job imn compiling one along with information as to where they can be found - see the Vaughan Williams Maemorial Library site.
Whether there are any more to collect; I agree partly with Steve that in the original sense, the songs ahve gone; whether what he described as still around can be described as 'folk' will continue to be debated on threads like this, certainly while I'm around. Whether they are worth singing is purely a matter of personal taste.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 06:21 PM

Sorry - me again;
I am in the process of compiling and indexing articles on the revival and have just come across an excellent article on the folk song revival by Peter Bellamy - nice to think I'm not on my own.

"If we could all work as hard to ensure that we present the best of which we are capable, whatever our particular musical bias, not only would the folk scene in general benefit beyond measure, but perhaps English traditional music would at last begin to gain the interest and respect which the world at large has denied it for so long."
Folk Review
November 1972

Wis I'd said thet
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bert
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 06:22 PM

Sorry Steve, I guess that last sentence was a bit bitchy.

It wasn't aimed at you personally Steve, I was using your statement to make a point.

I think that you illustrated perfectly what traditional music is. The purists just don't get it that's all.

Keep on writing songs.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 06:24 PM

Paul,
Whilst we are not going to discover a Harry Cox any more, bits and pieces of interest are still turning up. In people's attics are old manuscripts with these songs in. I know I have recently been sent some.
Families still have old tapes lying around in a dusty box, of grandad singing his old songs.
Here's quite an exciting example. As a collector of songs in the 1960s it was always a pain to me that we never collected any songs of any note that referred to my home town of Hull. In the 80s I had a ceilidh band I ran and we needed desperately a new lead musician. A young accordionist who had nothing to do with folk was suggested and being keen and a music reader he quickly picked up the band repertoire. After being with us for about 10 years he remembered he had an old cassette tape of his previous accordion band in the loft. The recording was of the band playing at a senior citizens outing. They had left the tape running in an interval and an old lady just stood up and sang a version of the Gaol song specific to Hedon Road Gaol in Hull. Wonderful stuff! You can hear me singing it on the Yorkshire Garland website. There are many millions of people in the English-speaking world. Some of them must still have these old recordings that would be useful to us.
Apart from this, almost on a daily basis this very forum turns up interesting unrecorded pieces.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 01 Mar 10 - 06:24 PM

""Having said which, the point at which I actually decided not to visit any more clubs on the offchance was after having been to three of them on the trot where I actually heard no folksongs - all in the London area.""

And you, being the definitive authority, saw nothing which fitted your description of "folk".

Did you perhaps have a look round to see how many others had gone to those folk clubs, and found plenty to like?

And do you consider yourself the final authority on quality, as well as style?

You must be just about bent double under the burden of that responsibility.

I'll give you a clue, Jim.

They were folk clubs! So who do you think were the audience?.....Jazz fans?......Opera Buffs?.......Flamenco aficionados?

No mate. They were folkies! So perhaps you are not quite so au fait with the scene as your pride would prompt you to believe.

I get a very strong feeling that for you NON-TRAD = NON FOLK, period.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 02:46 AM

Bert: "The purists just don't get it that's all."

What don't you think "purists" get? Does the fact that I'm interested in very old songs, make me a "purist"? I like modern songs too, though I'm more into dance music and electronica than anything. Of course you can dance to traditional jigs and reels, so would someone distinguishing between modern dance music and a traditional Scottish reel also be a "purist"?

Do you think that a song written today, is just the same as a song that was composed (say) two hundred years ago? Do you think that archivists and enthusiasts, shouldn't distinguish between extremely old songs and modern ones?

Whether some very popular modern songs become 'traditional' for future generations is something I can't really specualte on, but I think it's *possible* depending on how future generations come to define what 'traditional' means for them. Though I rather think the 'folk process' will have to be eliminated from the equation.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 03:07 AM

Don,
I appreciate your post, very helpful.
"And do you consider yourself the final authority"
Nope - forty odd years of listening to folksong, singing at and helping run clubs, meeting and recording source singers, giving talks to try and get new people to listen and become singers themselves, issuing albums of traditional singers and writing on the subject have helped me recognise a good singer from a bad one, and what they are singing, have helped a little - but no, not a final authority by any means.
"And do you consider yourself the final authority on quality, as well as style?"
Again, certainly not", though music lessons at school taught me to recognise whether somebody was singing in tune and making a half-decent job of what they are singing - you find that sort of thing never leaves you, don't you think?
Of the three clubs we visited, one closed long ago - the audience must have been every bit as bored as we were and have come to the same conclusion we did.
The second one we gave another try a couple of years ago when we were in London and there was nothing much we wanted to see on the pictures.
Cold, unfriendly atmosphere, jukebox thumping its way up from the bar below, a crap guest who looked as if he didn't want to be there, around twenty people huddled in their seats who wouldn't have been out of place in a Beckett play. We stuck it out until just after the woman who tunelessly stumbled her way through Danny Boy with the aid of an exercise book, at which point we went off to find a warm pub that sold half-decent beer (learned to recognise that too down the years).
The third one might just still be going - we've got the details somewhere if you want to try for a booking, it gave the impression of being the sort of place that would put up with any old crap.
"I get a very strong feeling that for you..."
And I get the very strong feeling that if you had a head-cold you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a fart and a folk song.
Thanks for your assistance - a great reminder of why I stopped going to folk clubs.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 03:13 AM

BrianP: "(though naturally I've no interest in playing only to the converted),"

Jim worries about folk sessions potentially putting newcomers off. Yet by way of contrast it's nice to see how some people who are not used to hearing traditional stuff, can respond to it when they do hear it.

At the session run by Richard Bridge, the footie watching crowd (classic lager drinking blokes with hoodies, white trainers & shaven heads) in the other bar are often quite responsive - you hear the odd cheer and clapping or hollered appreciative comment. Sometime they even leave the footie to come and lean by the bar and have a proper listen. One chap who was having a fag out back when we left called to me and said "Thankyou for singing that song!", and he meant it. I don't know which song he was speaking about, but it was an unaccompanied E. Trad and probably thoroughly unlike anything he's familiar with.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 03:41 AM

That happens at our singaround too, CS. Some singers always manage a to draw a few people from the bar to the doorway of the snug for an appreciative and attentive listen.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 03:43 AM

Going back momentarily to ? of whether there are any more uncollected traditional songs waiting out there ~~ self-evidently we won't know till we have collected them, will we?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 04:51 AM

CS & SC - that's been my experience too. I think what happens in the real world is far more inclusive and inspiring than what is so often portrayed on Mudcat.

I worry far more about some of the more hostile threads on Mudcat putting off someone off folk than what I see/hear in sessions.

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 06:03 AM

CS, Not having heard Richard I get the impression that he is a good singer. I'm more concerned about bad singers putting people off.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 06:06 AM

Forgot,
One rainy night at the Singers Club, two 'working girls' came in and sat in the audience.
They stayed for around an hour, got up and apologised for having to leave "to get back to work" and said how much they'd enjoyed it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 06:20 AM

Jim ~ Nice story. Don't suppose anyone happened to sing The Magdalene's Lament or The Overgate while they were there did they?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 06:22 AM

"One Brian Peters, there's only one Brian Peters"

Kind of you to say so, Steve, although I suspect there will be sighs of relief in some quarters. Good to hear that Tigers fans are fighting back against corporate theft of their song tradition, though it sounds like you don't have to suffer the 'official' goal celebrations on the tannoy yet.

I'm sorry to hear about Jim's negative impressions of unamed London folk clubs. As I tried to hint, in listing what I'd heard last week down in t'Big Smoke (no need to apologise for quoting me, Bryan), you (Jim) might be pleasantly surprised by the music to be found at Sharps, Musical Traditions, Cellar Upstairs, Walthamstow, Islington, Croydon and others.

CS: Yes, people from 'the outside' often seem to enjoy folk music when they find out that it doesn't necessarily conform to their own stereotype. "I can't stand folk music, but I liked that!" is always nice to hear.

Re the so far unpublished collections, I've had a look at quite a bit of the stuff in Carpenter and, wonderful though it is, what we are not going to find there is a whole body of old songs previously unknown to us. There are, however, lots of great fresh versions of familiar songs, and some examples of quite rare ballads. You might, of course, claim that Carpenter was merely following a collecting agenda set by others before him - so he would be unlikley to record anything 'new' - but that's another argument.

Jim has already detailed how almost every collector in the last hundred and twenty years believed that they were preserving the very last vestiges of the old tradition, only to be proved wrong subsequently. I still feel, though, that the conditions required for 'folk music' (in the old sense) to flourish are gradually being whittled away.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 06:40 AM

""Of the three clubs we visited, one closed long ago - the audience must have been every bit as bored as we were and have come to the same conclusion we did.""

Of course, you didn't like it, so it collapsed and died of shame!
Or could it have suffered the most common form of demise, namely "Change of Management"?
But you weren't around at the time, so you can conjure up your preferred ending. Bottom line?......YOU DON'T BLOODY KNOW!

""Cold, unfriendly atmosphere, jukebox thumping its way up from the bar below, a crap guest who looked as if he didn't want to be there, around twenty people huddled in their seats who wouldn't have been out of place in a Beckett play.""

I've seen bad nights too, at a number of mediocre, and also some very good, clubs, but I'm a little more wary than you about how I interpret and extrapolate, and it usually takes a little more evidence than that to put me off.

""The third one might just still be going - we've got the details somewhere if you want to try for a booking, it gave the impression of being the sort of place that would put up with any old crap.""

Monumentally unhelpful, no evidence at all, and an additional gratuitous insult to me, whom you have never seen, or heard, perform.

And on the basis of that, you profess to know folk clubs. If you can ever get your head surgically removed from its current position in your fundamental orifice, do take another look round. You might be quite surprised at how things have progressed since you got it stuck up there.


""And I get the very strong feeling that if you had a head-cold you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a fart and a folk song.""

I think it is you with the cold, mate. I was singing traditional folk songs at the age of six, in primary school, and have never stopped.
I also write my own material, and I write music for other peoples lyrics (strictly in the "folk" idiom). I don't sing using a crib, because I have been blessed with a very good memory, but, unlike your good self, I have the humility and tolerance for others, to recognise that some are not so lucky.

I have heard many superb performances, by people reading from a sheet, which would, if people like you had your way, never have been heard. I have encouraged and persuaded many beginners who have gone on to earn money performing, who would not have found that improvement in performance and stagecraft sitting in front of a bathroom mirror.

So don't waste your breath any more in showing how little you know about me. I've been patronised by experts, and you just ain't cutting it.

I think that Crow Sister, who is somewhat newer to this than you, has more inbuilt instinct for what folk music should be in her little finger, than you have in your whole overinflated ego.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 07:25 AM

"YOU DON'T BLOODY KNOW!"
No I don't, I just know it was bad.
"gratuitous insult to me, "
Just as your "I get a very strong feeling that for you NON-TRAD = NON FOLK, period." was pure surmision on your part though you did have the opportunity to read my previous posts. If can't take shit, don't throw it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 07:33 AM

I'm more concerned about bad singers putting people off.

Hell, old man, I'm a good singer of Traditional Songs (I don't sing any other sort) and yet you dismissed me as a bad pop singer and continued to do so for some time afterwards - much to my instinctive umbrage of course. What thread was that on again? A bit of a hoot as I recall.

I like the humanity of Traditional Singers & singaroud singers alike; there is an increasing tendency to professional blandness these days that doesn't excite me much. I certainly don't listen for orthodox musicality in a singer of folk songs, rather the mediumistic ability to make them live & breathe. Some of the technically worst singers are among the best at doing this (hiya, Ron!) but more often than not I'm staggered by the instinctive quality of natural voices singing unaccompanied folk songs - chorus songs especially. A pet hate? Some singer with a microphone asking the audience to sing the chorus!         

I have no problem using cribs; neither did / do The Copper family. Rachel & I often use cribs in performance just so we know we're both singing the same variants of songs we have differently in our respective repertoires - also so we know if its the 12 minute version of Robin Sick & Weary or the 5 minute one. These days I find I can work up a song to performance standard long before I've committed the words to memory. If I'm working on a commissioned piece for a single performance then there's no way on God's earth I'll even think about memorising it. We live in a literate society; the ability to sing a song well does not equate with the ability to memorise it. Also - the older I get, the harder it gets to remember songs. These days I'd rather put my efforts into singing them than memorising them. There just ain't enough hours in the day!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Eric Hayman
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 07:40 AM

So-called traditional songs are about times past, which have now become either the good old days or the bad old days. We either want to be back there with the happy beer drinkers and simple country folk or want to wallow in vicarious self-pity for the emigrant or hanged criminal.
Even Tom Lehrer will be traditional one day! There's a thought.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bert
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 08:36 AM

Crow Sister, If you like modern songs then you are not a purist. WHat I call purists are those folk who think that nothing modern can be traditional.

You ask, Do you think that a song written today, is just the same as a song that was composed (say) two hundred years ago?

Not the same of course, but still part of a tradition. For example "Streets of London" is part of a tradition of being concerned for the poor and the homeless. Just because that particular tradition is restricted to a minority in most societies it does not make it less of a tradition.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 09:01 AM

"WHat I call purists are those folk who think that nothing modern can be traditional."

Oops, better call me a purist then. Or better still, 'someone who prefers words to actually mean something'.

"So-called traditional songs are about times past... We either want to be back there with the happy beer drinkers and simple country folk or want to wallow in vicarious self-pity for the emigrant or hanged criminal."

Er, who exactly are 'WE' here? Not me, for one.

"Even Tom Lehrer will be traditional one day!"

Funnily enough, I heard some of the local yokels bawling out 'Poisoning Pigeons in the Park' around a table in the snug of the Badger Baiters' Arms last Saturday night. Pull the other one!

'Traditional' was right there in the dictionary, last time I looked.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 09:11 AM

"WHat I call purists are those folk who think that nothing modern can be traditional."

But if I'm interested in learning about extremely old folk songs that were around long, long before the modern revival of the 50's/60's, what should I call them?

I understand that the word 'traditional' can be interpretated in different ways, and it's the different ways in which the word gets interpreted that makes things complicated.

But there is this very old stuff that was around a long, long time before the folk revival. So how does someone who is interested in the very old stuff in particular, sift it out from modern songs if there isn't a term that can be used to differentiate the old songs from modern songs?

For my own part I don't care what people call them! I just want to be able to learn about songs from the old folk song tradition, without things getting more muddled or complicated than they need to be!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 09:27 AM

MikeL2 (sorry if I didn't get your ID right) proposed this as a 'modern' traditional song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6E2hYDIFDIU based on the amount of covers it's inspired and how it's now being belted out at every pub Karaoke night on the planet! It's certainly a song that's been inherited by different generations, and will no doubt carry on being sung well into the forseeable future.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 09:30 AM

"I'm a good singer of Traditional Songs"
Self praise is no recommendation..... and all that.
For the record, I said what I thought of your singing without knowing who it was. Somebody put up three singers and asked what I thought of them; I gave an honest opinion, and would do so again in the circumstances. Had I made my own singing public by putting it up on uTube, I would excpect the same treatment. If you don't want opinions, stay at home and sing in the bath.
"We either want to be back there with the happy beer drinkers...." speak for yourself - lice, plague, cholera and sour beer....
I enjoy Shakespeare, but I don't want to be in Medieval Denmark or ancient Rome or Bronze Age Scotland..... they're good stories well written.
Do we have a cut-off date after which we must stop enjoying a piece of music, or a play, or a novel?
Many of our folksongs and ballads have provided plots for some of our greatest literature, and continue to do so.
A lovlely little film, a romantic comedy called 'Truely, Madly, Deeply' was released some years ago - a straight lift from 'The Unquiet Grave' (except for the dead husband sending his wife out to video rental shop to get him and his dead mates classic films to watch on TV).
It would be a sad old world if we weres stuck with Corrie and East Enders and counld no longer enjoy Dickens and Hardy.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Suibhne (Astray)
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 10:42 AM

Self praise is no recommendation..... and all that.

Agreed. Self-Awareness is something very different however, likewise the awareness of the nature of the craft as a whole, itself the result of some 35-years of Traditional Singing. When it comes to Traditional Singing the call to do so is the first & most significant qualification. Anyone who commits themselves to the passion of the craft is worthy of attention, encouragement and acknowledgement, all of which I give with due honesty, humility and, above all, consistency.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: MikeL2
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 10:42 AM

Hi crow sister

You did my ID right....

<" For my own part I don't care what people call them! I just want to be able to learn about songs from the old folk song tradition, without things getting more muddled or complicated than they need to be!">

I couldn't agree more with you.

regards

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 10:58 AM

SO'P
I really can't see your problem with my opinion of your singing.
We disagree on most things we discuss, so why should it bother you what I think - your opinion wouldn't bother me?

In the end, for me anyway, the most important thing about all singing is the understanding of a song and the communication of that understanding/interpretation.
It is what is missing for me in much of the singing I listen to.
Sure a good technique is fine - but I heard, and recorded many singers well past their sell-by date as far as singing ability goes, who have moved me to the point of tears.
They say that in Irish there is no such phrase as 'sing a song'; it's 'tell a song' and that is invariably what does it for me.

I've never met a live 'purist' in captivity - I'm not sure they exist as a species.
Being a purist is like expecting King Lear to be done in broad Birmingham - god forbid!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Suibhne (Astray)
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 11:29 AM

I think maybe it's the nature of opinion that bothers me, informed as it is by the subjectivity of impulse & reaction, rather than the objectivity of a more considerate criticism, which, ultimately must always be constructive. Do we expect mere opinions from a former member of The Critics Group? I should say not!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 11:50 AM

"expecting King Lear to be done in broad Birmingham"

Now THAT sounds like my kind of night out!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 12:03 PM

I wasn't asked for a critique - just an instant reaction.
Don't give critiques without being asked by the singer.
"Now THAT sounds like my kind of night out!"
Go and wash your mouth out!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 12:26 PM

One Brian Peters, there's only one Brian Peters"
thank god for that,BrianPeters would have afew problems if other brian peters turned up to do his bookings.
personally I dont think Brian Peters is a very good footballer, in fact he is crap.
surely the chant should be theres only one Martin Peters


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 12:55 PM

"Go and wash your mouth out"

Sorry, Jim, it won't make any difference. The Brummie accent's indelible...


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 01:45 PM

Jim Carroll

Bryan - once again you (deliberately?) misrepresent what I say.
I did not stop going to clubs (30 years ago or thirty minutes ago), because I know how crap they are.


I didn't say you did. I said that what those people said was not important but that what you said was. Please stop putting twisted interpretaions on what I say.

And will you please stop blaming me and all other current folk club organisers for the things that went wrong back in the seventies and eighties when YOU were a folk club organiser.

I think what you need to do now is get a list of all the clubs Brian has played at (which includes the Lewes Saturday Folk Club and give them try.

If Walter Pardon was around now, we'd book like a shot.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 02:24 PM

"I dont think Brian Peters is a very good footballer, in fact he is crap."

How very dare you! Next time we meet on a football field, Dick, you will be the recipient of one of my 'special' tackles.

A fellow came to one of my gigs in America last year for no better reason than that his name was 'Brian Peters' and he wanted to meet the real one. Actually I found several namesakes, on my last Vanity Google Search.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 02:44 PM

"Is traditional song finished?"
Dunno the boring gits still on the intro and explanations.....Grrr


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 03:01 PM

""It would be a sad old world if we weres stuck with Corrie and East Enders and counld no longer enjoy Dickens and Hardy.""

I don't recall anyone saying you should not enjoy traditional music and song. Can you point to any single instance where that has happened.

You seem oblivious to the fact that you are the only one here who is actually tring to control what people are allowed to enjoy.

It would be a sad old world if we weres stuck with Dickens and Hardy Enders, and could no longer enjoy Eastenders and Corrie....., and that is what you are advocating.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bert
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 03:44 PM

...But if I'm interested in learning about extremely old folk songs that were around long, long before the modern revival of the 50's/60's, what should I call them?...

That is a problem Crow Sister, Because all old songs cannot be called traditional.
Some old songs are traditional, some old songs are just plain dead.
Some Music Hall songs are traditional, some Music Hall songs are just dead.
Some Broad Sheet songs are traditional, some Broad Sheet songs are just dead.

Just because a song is old doesn't make it traditional and just because another is newer, does not make it not traditional.

Brian, you say you are 'someone who prefers words to actually mean something' Well here's one. It is not traditional but it does make a social comment.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 05:15 PM

How very dare you! Next time we meet on a football field, Dick, you will be the recipient of one of my 'special' tackles.
does that mean I will be singing castrato?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 05:26 PM

Just thought I'd re-post this in something like English.

""It would be a sad old world if we weres stuck with Corrie and East Enders and counld no longer enjoy Dickens and Hardy.""

I don't recall anyone saying you should not enjoy traditional music and song. Can you point to any single instance where that has happened.

You seem oblivious to the fact that you are the only one here who is actually trying to control what people are allowed to enjoy.

It would also be a sad old world if we were stuck with Dickens and Hardy, and could no longer enjoy Eastenders and Corrie....., and that, in essence, is what you are advocating.


Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 05:28 PM

""How very dare you! Next time we meet on a football field, Dick, you will be the recipient of one of my 'special' tackles.
does that mean I will be singing castrato?
""

Just thank your lucky stars, Dick, that you won't be singing Capello (Fabio Capello).

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 06:03 PM

A fellow came to one of my gigs in America last year for no better reason than that his name was 'Brian Peters' and he wanted to meet the real one.

There aren't that many Brians in America, as I understand it - it's one of those exotic ethnic names, like Kevin.

If we're talking about duplicates, you should try being called Phil Edwards - I'm a French C&W singer and a surfing legend, among many other things.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 06:32 PM

"There aren't that many Brians in America, as I understand it - it's one of those exotic ethnic names, like Kevin."

Is this my opportunity to tell y'all that my American friend Dannah was going to call her band "The Nigels"?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 06:57 PM

Don - nobody s trying to control anything; on the other hand you appear to be trying to be agressively offensive - and making a pretty good job of it - please don't.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 02 Mar 10 - 07:20 PM

"Don't suppose anyone happened to sing The Magdalene's Lament"
One of the ladies asked Ewan to sing Dirty Old Town, which he did.
"last week down in t'Big Smoke....."
Sorry to have missed you in London last week Brian; we were there for a few days and saw your name in 'Time Out' - for the day before we arrived.
Next time maybe.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 02:52 AM

Well, I just Googled myself....(No, don't go there!) and apparently I'm a dead American footballer. Theres even a photo of my gravestone!
So, quite obviously I'm 100% traditional now. That's a relief!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 03:30 AM

" Because all old songs cannot be called traditional."

Sure.
But in this context (ie: on a folk music forum) I'm interested in old *folk* songs - traditional folk songs from the old oral tradition, rather than old songs by (say) Dowland or Byrd.
Although they're old too and although I do find them interesting and even sing a couple, they're not 'folk' songs and so people would be more likely to discuss those kinds of 'old' songs on an 'early music forum'.

"Some old songs are traditional, some old songs are just plain dead."

Huh?

Is Music Hall 'dead', or is it a thriving form of popular entertainment?

Anyway, I'm off to compose some Renaissance music - nope, not mere modern music in the style of Rennaisance music, not just any old modern madrigal, real deal actual Renaissance!
Now where'd I pop me Tardis? ;-)


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 03:57 AM

I can see much virtue in not enjoying East Enders or Corrie. East Enders was adventurous when originated but is now nothing but slumcult.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 04:42 AM

Can you bring us back a box of quill pens CS - I'm going to write a few Shakespeare plays.
"I can see much virtue in not enjoying East Enders or Corrie..."
Don't think either of them were as good as mrd Dale's Diary or Dick Barton.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 04:54 AM

"Can you bring us back a box of quill pens CS - I'm going to write a few Shakespeare plays."

Deffo Jim! Looking forward to 'em!

Meanwhile I've decided that the next time I sing a Peter Bellamy song in the folk idiom, I will actually BE Peter Bellamy singing that song. And people said he was dead! Bleeding purist kill-joys.. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 07:13 AM

""Don - nobody s trying to control anything; on the other hand you appear to be trying to be agressively offensive - and making a pretty good job of it - please don't.
Jim Carroll
""


from an earlier post by Jim Carroll:-   ""If I go to a folk club it has to correspond with what I know folk song sounds like. I have no objection to songs that are written in folk song styles - these are an essential part of how I see the folk revival - I've sung them myself and have always admired song makers who write them:""

Taken in conjunction with your other comment, ""If they asked me where tthey could stll hear it live, what should I say; "Don't go to a folk club; they don't do folk any more"?""

No attempt to control there then!
______________________________________________________________________
Aggressively Offensive?


""The third one might just still be going - we've got the details somewhere if you want to try for a booking, it gave the impression of being the sort of place that would put up with any old crap."" Jim Carroll to me.

""What utter crap; you really do go from idiocy to idiocy SO'P.
So far you have given nothing but bullshit and doublespeak verbiage.
All you've shown over and over again is your ignorance and indifference. You are a pratt - and a supercilious one - old man.
"" Jim Carroll to S O'P

""In the mid seventies things started to change and by the eighties it became virtually impossible to be guaranteed a night of folk or folk related songs, the clubs had become a platform for navel-gazing introspective mumbling their way through stuff that was neither fish nor fowl;""

""The scene hadn't yet become the refuge for failed, fifteenth-rate pop performers and would be Sinatra wannabes, that it has since become, but that didn't take too long to happen."" Jim Carrolls' take on those of us who work for nothing to perpetuate his, as well as our favourite music, namely folk music.

And you say I'm good at being aggressively offensive?

You don't seem to be able to get your head round the fact that what we are doing is giving present day audiences enough of what they want to get their bums on seats, and then including as much of what we, and you, want as they will accept, and pay to hear.

The amount of traditional music, in the clubs and sessions I currently attend, is steadily increasing, and the number of young attenders is rising fast, and they are taking to traditional music like ducks to water.

Clubs have been going through a thin time, and it was largely because of the inability of 70s organisers to bend a little with the prevailing winds.

Some of us did, and we're still here, and so is the music.

Good thing we all didn't swan off to Ireland, or you would have nobody to despise and insult, and you might be forced to examine the possibility that you might bear some responsibility for the slump in audiences in the first place.

Now I'll let you get back to your pontificating and patronising about your superior knowledge of folk clubs in a country you don't even live in.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 07:31 AM

Bert wrote:

"Just because a song is old doesn't make it traditional and just because another is newer, does not make it not traditional."

No argument there, Bert. I don't think Tom Lehrer, for instance, will 'become traditional' however old his songs get, because - witty though they are - I see no evidence at all of them being clasped to our collective bosom, entering general public consiciousness, or being sung by anyone in the 21st century beyond a very few people in folk clubs and members of the Lehrer Appreciation Society.

"Brian, you say you are 'someone who prefers words to actually mean something' Well here's one. It is not traditional but it does make a social comment."

Nothing wrong with social comment. Good on you for making a point. People like Leon Rosselson, Jim Woodland, Alistair Hulett have been writing great songs of social comment for decades (as did MacColl, of course). However, as I suspect you knew, the word I wanted to mean something was 'traditional'. I still don't buy the idea that subject matter of longstanding societal concern (like homelessness) makes a song 'traditional'. Compassion, like love, anger, jealousy and so forth, is a basic human response which has been around for a long time, but if every song on those topics were labelled
'traditional' the word would have lost all meaning.

I've noticed that this whole argument is being spoofed on another thread, so will shut up now. Except to respond to Jim:

"Sorry to have missed you in London last week Brian; we were there for a few days and saw your name in 'Time Out' - for the day before we arrived."

That would be Sharp's Folk Club in the basement of Cecil's Folly that you just missed. Leaving aside my efforts, I think you'd have enjoyed the range of floor performers there, including a couple of excellent younger singers who sang unaccompanied. Try it next time you're in town.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 07:34 AM

Don,
I think there's a not very subtle difference between vigourous debate that we all participate in a lot of the time (me certainly, SO'P, and many more) and vaccuuous personal abuse that has nothing to do with anyything were debating - "Good thing we all didn't swan off to Ireland," - "pontificating and patronising about your superior knowledge of folk clubs" and "a country you don't even live in" isn't a bad example of the latter - and all in one posting too. Your last few postings have been little more than torrents of personal abuse aimed at the fact that somebody should challenge your opinions.
You obviously are out for a slanging match - a little busy at the moment - perhaps you wouldn't mind making an appointment with my secretary!!!
By the way - the clubs of the 70s went into the bad times exactly because they DID bend with the prevailing winds - read the magazines like Folk Review and Folk - it's all down in black and white.
Jim Carroll
PS "those of us who work for nothing..."
Can't speak for you - we all work for nothing; only some of us don't make a thing of it.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 08:06 AM

Jim, any chance you could find time in your busy schedule to respond to my post of 02 Mar 10 - 01:45 PM, preferably without resorting to expressions such as "crass", "dumbing down","promoting crap standards"...


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bert
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 08:19 AM

When you go back in your Tardis Crow Sister, please write some good songs and not a load of dreary old ballads!!! :-)


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 08:40 AM

Don't know what's new to be said, but am happy to oblige Bryan.

"I didn't say you did. I said that what those people said was not important but that what you said was."
You appeared to be lumping me in under having left the clubs thirty years ago because.....
If I got that wrong I retract it.
"And will you please stop blaming me and all other current folk club organisers for the things that went wrong back in the seventies and eighties when YOU were a folk club organiser."
I'm not 'blaming' anybody; I'm attempting to assess the situation as it prevails now and suggest what to do about it should anything be needed.
We held out for policy clubs with basic standards back then - other clubs demurred and, from current discussions, won out (with exceptions). Hence the present situation.
I have NEVER AT ANY TIME said their are no good clubs - I question whether there are enough of them to continue to present folk song so that future generations can continue to enjoy it as we did.
Now perhaps you can tell me how making 'wanting to sing' a basic requirement for public performance is adopting 'standards for a club.
There - all been said before and no doubt will be again.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 09:27 AM

Well Jim, that says quite a lot about you doesn't it?

You manage to dismiss what was posted of your offensive comment as "vigorous debate" while maintaining that anything I say is "agressively offensive" and "looking for a slanging match". The "law According to Saint Jim the Infallible".

If the following is vigorous debate by your standards, then those standards are sadly out of kilter:-

""The third one might just still be going - we've got the details somewhere if you want to try for a booking, it gave the impression of being the sort of place that would put up with any old crap."" Jim Carroll to me.

""What utter crap; you really do go from idiocy to idiocy SO'P.
So far you have given nothing but bullshit and doublespeak verbiage.
All you've shown over and over again is your ignorance and indifference. You are a pratt - and a supercilious one - old man."" Jim Carroll to S O'P

""In the mid seventies things started to change and by the eighties it became virtually impossible to be guaranteed a night of folk or folk related songs, the clubs had become a platform for navel-gazing introspective mumbling their way through stuff that was neither fish nor fowl;""

""The scene hadn't yet become the refuge for failed, fifteenth-rate pop performers and would be Sinatra wannabes, that it has since become, but that didn't take too long to happen."" Jim Carrolls' take on those of us who work for nothing to perpetuate his, as well as our favourite music, namely folk music.
""

I think most would agree with me, that these constitute agressively offensive comment, but you say that they are vigorous debate, in which case nothing I have said falls outside of your own parameters.

Try taking your own advice. "Don't want shit. Don't throw it!"

Does anybody other than Jim Carroll disagree?

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 11:44 AM

"Does anybody other than Jim Carroll disagree?"
Or agree maybe?
A bit cowardly to try to involve others in our personal slanging match - don't you think?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 02:40 PM

""A bit cowardly to try to involve others in our personal slanging match - don't you think?
Jim Carroll
""

Involve others?

I refer you to the three posts of yours which I reproduced, in which you slagged off S O'P and myself by name, and just about every current folk club organiser indirectly, plus all of those club performers who don't measure up to your required standards.

I will admit it takes sublime self confidence (arrogance), and monumental ego, to accuse anyone of cowardice for doing what you, yourself, have done many times over.

You are the most judgemental poster on this forum, bar none, and take such a lofty tone toward any who disagree with you, that it makes me wonder "When did God die, and hand over to you?"

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 02:53 PM

I find it quite unprecidented to rabble rouse and call for support against another member on a public forum. I have never experienced it before - it was this I found both cowardly and despicable.
My argument is with you - nobody else. If you haven't got the bottle to fight your own battles don't get involved.
I have had numerous arguments on this forum throughout the time I have been a member, some of them heated, but they all come with personal respect for the other person's work and their point of view, even if I have not agreed with it.
You wrote "Does anybody other than Jim Carroll disagree?" - as I said, rabble rousing.
BACK OFF
Jim Carropll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 03:35 PM

I know Don w t,personally,he has been a good folk club organiser,I have played his clubs several times and the standard of performance has always been reasonably high.
he is one of the good folk club organisers,most of them are,Mansfield is one of a tiny minority.
Jim,I have the utmost respect for your collecting work,but you do seem to be judging folk clubs on on or two bad experiences,yes they are there: the MANSFIELDS that treat professional performers like dirt, or the badly organised with atrocious singers but they are a tiny minority.and it is insulting to people like the Snail and Don,to be lumped in with the MANSFIELDS.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 03:49 PM

Cap'n _ I have no idea who or what the MANSFIELDS are; my opinions are based on personal experience over the last thirty years where , I believe, there has been a decline, and on arguments and discussions on this forum.
As good as Don's club is, his attitude over the last few postings has been one of harrying and bullying and, as I said, his rabble-rousing attempts to involve other people as a tactic of silencing opposition are, as far as I can remember, quite unprecedented.
I have no problem with healthy, passionate debate - I have had it with you, Brian Creer, Sean Sweeney, and many others, but it has always been with, I believe, mutual respect for the other person's work and opinions, if not agreement. I don't need to be told by anybody that my opinion on the UK folk scene doesn't count because I have "swanned off to live in Ireland" (as you have, by the way). I find little to respect here.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 03 Mar 10 - 05:51 PM

""I have had numerous arguments on this forum throughout the time I have been a member, some of them heated, but they all come with personal respect for the other person's work and their point of view, even if I have not agreed with it.""

Your nonsense gets both funnier and sillier by the minute.

Point me to one instance of you showing the slightest respect for me, or my work, or indeed anything I have ever said on this forum.

As to respect for my point of view, you are a liar!

End of!
Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 04:39 AM

my views are based on personal experience,and with respect I have probably spent much more time in many more folk clubs than you have,it comesw with being a professional folk musician ,you spend a lot of time in folk clubs.
Mansfield Folk club is a poorly run, unprofessional folk club,that cancelled a gig of mine at six months notice,the reason given: too many squeezeboxers in a period of six weeks,they did not have the courtesy to either reimburse part of my fee or offer an alternative date, the previous organiser has notified me that there was sufficient money in the kitty for all guests that she had booked.
the other squeezeboxer[2 in six weeks] was Steve Turner[who lives locally to Mansfield].
most considerate organisers would cancel the local person[rather than the person travelling from another country] and then offer them a subsequent date.
my advice to other guest artists is avoid Mansfield folk club


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 05:35 AM

The usual sturm und drang generator at the centre of things I see. You're not a very happy man Jim, are you?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 06:29 AM

"I have probably spent much more time in many more folk clubs than you have"
Have you?
"You're not a very happy man Jim, are you? "
Wonder why you say that G - can't please all of the people all of the time?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 06:40 AM

yes Jim,I reckon I have, most professional folk musicians spend more time in folk clubs than other people.
I am aware that you have been involved in running folk clubs,so have I.
yes,I live in Ireland,but I return more regularly than you[this is based on infomation you have supplied yourself on this forum about how often you return] to play in clubs.http://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 06:55 AM

Dick,
Have no intention of starting this up again at present - still busy I'm afraid.
G.
I meant to add my thanks to pevious - it gives me some sort of comfort that what I thought a somewhat unpleasant and unnecessary incident gives you some sort of pleasure and satisfaction.
Best,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 07:52 AM

Self inflicted injuries are often amusing. Thanks for the entertainment value.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 08:36 AM

Though tempers might fray from time time I never once have lost respect for anyone around here, least of all JC whose wisdom, learning and achievements in the field of Traditional Culture is, as I say, exemplary. Sure we knock about a bit, get bruised, retreat, lick our wounds, but underlying it all is a willingness to go back into the merry fray, communicate & by doing so hopefully learn something - not react with the sort of mindless fury we're seeing here, and most certainly not by raising up a mob to justify such indignations, much less joining one.

For my part in the present witch hunt - I do not expect to see anything JC has said to me on open forum used out of context by anyone as evidence in their divisive little schemes. We're here to talk and rage about music, not about each other - that's what PMs are for.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 09:08 AM

Jim Carroll

Don't know what's new to be said, but am happy to oblige Bryan.

Retracting the accusation that I was deliberately misrepresenting you is a good start. I was drawing a comparison between those people, whose opinion doesn't matter, and you, whose opinion does matter.

I'm not 'blaming' anybody;

"crass"? "dumbing down"? "promoting crap standards"? Feels like blame if you are on the receiving end.

I have NEVER AT ANY TIME said their are no good clubs

I can't recall you acknowledging that there were.

I question whether there are enough of them to continue to present folk song so that future generations can continue to enjoy it as we did.

Why do you brush aside the evidence of me, Dick Miles, Brian Peters and many others while giving so much credence to S O'P's discredited statements and picking on every tiny scrap of evidence that supports your case?

Now perhaps you can tell me how making 'wanting to sing' a basic requirement for public performance is adopting 'standards for a club.

OK, in the light of your " mutual respect for the other person's work and opinions", here goes.

I, like Ewan MacColl, believe that anyone who wants to sing wants to sing well. Further to that, I believe that anyone who wants to sing well knows that it isn't simply a matter of getting up and doing it but it requires work and practice. They will do that of their own volition not because someone like me is standing over them telling them to do so. My experience bears this out.

At the Lewes Saturday Folk Club, we have quite a large core of residents all of whom perform traditional or "in the tradition" songs and music. We all care about the quality of of our performances and work at achieving good standards. We have many regular floorsingers who share the same philosophy. Perhaps not all of them achieve it but nobody is unlistenable. Some surpass it.

We book guests that we consider to be the finest exponents of the sort of music we love.

That is the atmosphere that newcomers find. Some have suggested that we frighten away the bad singers; I hope we inspire them to be good singers.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 09:18 AM

""That is the atmosphere that newcomers find. Some have suggested that we frighten away the bad singers; I hope we inspire them to be good singers.""

Amen to that, Bryan, and if in so doing, we were not attacked for being the cause of everything that is wrong with folk music, that too would help.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 09:32 AM

The problem arises when some people identify so closely with the form that the personality and the music fuse together. Insult me (and I'll give you plenty of opportunity), and you insult folk music.
If someone is so certain of their ground they view every comment as a direct assault, there's only way way the thread can go and it isn't nicely.

Or perhaps they exist in a world so knockabout that insults are lingua franca and are to be ignored as 'just their little way'.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 11:28 AM

S O'P's discredited statements

Hardly discredited, TheSnail. Go back and read my statements of 25 Feb 10 - 09:35 AM & 25 Feb 10 - 02:03 PM - and be sure to follow the links. In my not-inconsiderable experience of the Folk Scene (and from everything done in the name of Folk from Mudcat Threads, Folk Clubs to Folk on 2 etc.) then I'd have to say that FFC are not alone in their anything-goes-in-the-name-of-folk policy. This is why I began the 1954 and All That thread - because on moving to the North West I found myself completely out of place in the local folk scene where traditional songs are the exception that proves a very definite rule. This is not a matter of judgement, not on my part, but one of personal taste & preference.

I was never much interested in The Revival anyway, which has engendered the anything-goes approach - but I do love a good Traditional Singaround - something which, in my experience, is becoming a very rare beast indeed. For more on this see my posts of 28 Feb 10 - 03:12 PM & 28 Feb 10 - 06:37 PM .


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 12:20 PM

I, like Ewan MacColl, believe that anyone who wants to sing wants to sing well. Further to that, I believe that anyone who wants to sing well knows that it isn't simply a matter of getting up and doing it but it requires work and practice. They will do that of their own volition not because someone like me is standing over them telling them to do so. My experience bears this out.

Maybe I've just been unlucky - or maybe it's a North West thing, as SO'P suggested - but my experience is very different. I've seen - and heard - lots of people who hadn't put in the necessary work and practice before singing in public, whether because they thought they didn't need it, because they wanted to share their new song with the world or just because they wanted to perform and didn't think we'd mind. And mostly, of course, the audience genuinely doesn't mind - I can't remember ever hearing anyone leave a folk club stage without applause. That's called positive reinforcement, and it's heady stuff if it's not accompanied by a large dose of "here's what you could be doing".

At the Lewes Saturday Folk Club, we have quite a large core of residents all of whom perform traditional or "in the tradition" songs and music. We all care about the quality of our performances and work at achieving good standards. We have many regular floorsingers who share the same philosophy. Perhaps not all of them achieve it but nobody is unlistenable. Some surpass it.

That's the key, of course - peer pressure. Build it trad and the traddies will come.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 04:40 PM

"Self inflicted injuries are often amusing."
Now do I want to continue being around people who find the discomfiture of others, self inflicted or otherwise - amusing especially after he has already told us he think we are a shower of c- what was the word G?
Probably not.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 04:48 PM

You must do JC to keep prodding people with sticks then insisting you're the one who's just been poked.
It's a neat trick if you can pull it off of course.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 06:40 PM

Please can we have less insults flying to and fro? They're an infuriating distraction for those of us who would like to follow the serious discussion. And those indulging in them might bear in mind that challenging one's opponent's credibility (rather than only challenging their opinions) tends to reduce one's own credibility.

Returning to the serious discussion:
TheSnail said
> I, like Ewan MacColl, believe that anyone who wants to sing wants to sing well.

Pip Radish has already challenged that, and so do I. Many of us want to sing well, but some of us may not be as good as we think we are and some give every sign of not caring at all. The deplorable cliché "Good enough for folk" is still to be heard from time to time. Out-of-tune instruments are to be heard all too often.

I'm with Jim and Crow Sister in preferring the old stuff, by and large, and wishing that we could all agree about what name to call it by that will distinguish it from other kinds. That doesn't mean that we're trying to "control what people are allowed to enjoy". Why should we want to do that? How could we, even if we did want to?

We would like to introduce new people to the stuff that we like, on the reasonable assumption that some of them will also come to like it. Don's "what we are doing is giving present day audiences enough of what they want to get their bums on seats, and then including as much of what we, and you, want as they will accept, and pay to hear" seems a reasonable approach to that, provided nobody is misled about what's what.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Mar 10 - 06:58 PM

Richard, once again the voice of common sense.
Without wishing to go over the old ground again and in reference to your 'old stuff, by and large', when the term 'folk' became too wide most non-intellectuals like me started using 'traditional folk' or even 'tradfolk' for the stuff we preferred, and most of us understood what that meant without having to define every last syllable and note.








Oh and 300.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 09:45 AM

""Don's "what we are doing is giving present day audiences enough of what they want to get their bums on seats, and then including as much of what we, and you, want as they will accept, and pay to hear" seems a reasonable approach to that, provided nobody is misled about what's what.""

AT LAST! Thank God for somebody who can understand that evenings with some non traditional music may be a means to the end we all desire. Next step is to achieve a measure of respect for what I (for lack of any better description), call "contemporary folk", which, for me covers writings "in the folk idiom", as well as "revival folk".

Now, I hope that some at least will understand that I do not count these as "traditional folk". However, I do sincerely believe that the appellation "folk" is not inappropriate, notwithstanding the 1954 definition, which was introduced before either of these forms existed.

Finally, for those who believe that I am part of the problem, rather than part of the solution, I would strongly suggest that you consider the following:-

If you visit an evening with a mixture of traditional folk and other music, and walk out in disgust, you are in fact negating any good effect I might be having. I bring in ten new potential devotees of traditional music, and you remove the very thing I am trying to showcase to them.

Who, in that case, is the problem?

To rebuild takes time, and that time is considerably extended if there is somebody standing by, removing bricks as fast as they are laid.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Banjiman
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 09:52 AM

Common sense breaking out? It will never last!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: MikeL2
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 10:42 AM

Hi banjiman

lol .......I am sure you are right...but it's good to see some sense talked here for a change.

Thanks Don you made my day.

Cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 12:17 PM

Bryan;
"Retracting the accusation that I was deliberately misrepresenting you is a good start"
You said I drew my conclusions mainly, if not completely, from SO'Ps suggestions – that is blatantly untrue.
I have been debating the state of clubs from the time I first found Mudcat, even when I posted as a guest.
During that time I have discussed what goes in the name of folk at clubs, whether standards should be applied to public performance, and if so, how they should be applied, whether audiences should be encouraged to sing along with solo performers uninvited, whether or not 'crib sheets' should be used, whether ballads are too long, whether an evening of folk songs is "boring"... a whole host of subjects to do with the running of folk clubs. During these discussions I have been told that standards should not be applied and are not only unnecessary, but are undesirable as they might put off the 'less talented', that audiences should be encouraged to join in with the singer, whose responsibility it should be to request that they don't (and if they made such a request, that is indicative of arrogance – I think the term was – "the must think they are better than the rest of us").
One of the underlying suggestions throughout was that if you are required to 'work' at singing you cease to enjoy it.
These discussions were all a year or so before Sean Sweeney, (sorry Sean, sometimes these forum names make me feel as if I am part of Noddy in Toyland) and I went head to head. Sean and my differences are relatively new on the scene. I use Sean's list because, it is, I believe, a fairly representative sample of what goes on in some folk clubs, from my own experience (now limited, admittedly) and from many arguments put up by others on this forum – trawl though some of the threads and they are all there for the looking. So it was grossly misleading to suggest that my conclusions came either solely or mainly from Sean.
While we're here, perhaps I can add something else about Sean and my differences. My arguments with him have been long and bitter not because I don't respect him; on the contrary. He, compared to most people I have disagreed with on the definition of folk song, is one of the few who have attempted to take the existing definition and suggest a workable alternative. I disagree completely with his conclusions and I find his (IMO) dismissive manner irritating, often infuriating and have reacted badly on occasion, but at least he has never relied on the Humpty Dumpty philosophy of "Words mean what I want them to mean"; for that at least, he has my admiration.

"and you, whose opinion does matter...."
Why should my opinions matter any more than anyone else's? As you have pointed out, my experience of clubs is now limited since we "swanned off to Ireland"(which apparently bars me from holding an opinion on English clubs, it would seem).

"Feels like blame if you are on the receiving end."
My arguments are based around your statement that the basic requirement for encouraging anybody to sing is that they should "want to"; a statement I disagree with entirely. You have chosen to take this as a personal attack and one on your club; I remind you again that it was you who dragged your club into it by stating it was their official policy. My argument is solely aimed at the statement, which I believe, if applied widely, would damage any club that adopted it. You say that you don't get bad singers, so your recommendation is aimed at other clubs, not your own, which makes it more damaging to my mind.

"I can't recall you acknowledging that there were....." (any good clubs)
Then this seems like a case of 'voluntary dyslexia' on your part. I have constantly acknowledged that there are good clubs and included your own in that acknowledgment; I question whether there are enough of them to continue to present folk song so that future generations can continue to enjoy it as we did.

"Why do you brush aside the evidence of me, Dick Miles, Brian Peters and many others"
I don't brush aside their/your evidence, but I consider it alongside all the other information available; through friends still involved (some of whom have become disillusioned with the scene and are considering dropping out), through this forum, through what I've read and heard elsewhere and through my own experience, fairly extensive in the past (up to ten years ago), and less often more recently. Isn't that what you would do if our positions were reversed?
Some time ago you suggested my attitude was based on hearsay evidence – why should I accept your statements, which are hearsay evidence to me, above that of others?   

"while giving so much credence to SO'P's discredited statements....."
Are his statements discredited? There is enough evidence from this forum (from this thread even) that suggests that what he has claimed applies elsewhere. It seems that dismissing him out of hand shows disrespect for him on your part, not mine.

".....They will do that of their own volition not because someone like me is standing over them telling them to do so"
Who has ever suggested that anybody should be 'stood over'?
MacColl, above all singers, was the one who insisted that the work be put in before anybody stood up in front of an audience; his contribution, far from being an empty statement, was to help it to happen. He set up The Critics Group at the request of singers who needed help. He did not tell them to go off and practice in public at folk clubs, but devised a method of work which he believed would assist them improve their singing. I was involved in singing workshops based roughly on the 'self-help' principle he devised for more than 20 years from 1968 to the demise of The London Singers Workshop.

"My experience bears this out."
My experience has always been that new singers readily accept assistance if it is tactfully and sincerely offered. It also suggests that people thrown in at the deep-end without assistance are more likely to be put off than to be encouraged to become better singers. 'Standing over them' is a loaded and extremely misleading term is 'turning them away' which you have used in the past.

"At the Lewes Saturday Folk Club, we have quite a large core of residents all of whom perform traditional or "in the tradition" songs and music."
So you have said and so I believe.

" We have many regular floorsingers who share the same philosophy, Perhaps not all of them achieve it but nobody is unlistenable."
Once again, lucky old you – what about the club members on this thread who have claimed the opposite; me included; did we/they make it up?
Where does making 'wanting to sing' a basic requirement fit in with all this? 'Wanting to' is only a start to being able to – it's than that you put the work in.

This has again been far longer than I intended; while I fully intend to respond to things I disagree with and distortions of my opinion; I really don't want to be part of a discussion of this sort with you, interminably going over old ground again. If you cannot accept my views in the spirit they are offered, I have asked that we agree to differ rather than foul up worthwhile threads with our eternal bickering - I hope you will respect that request.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 03:45 PM

Amen!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 05 Mar 10 - 07:59 PM

Steve Gardham

Amen!

Now that, I find worrying.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,raymond greenoaken
Date: 06 Mar 10 - 04:19 PM

anybody still here? It feels like I'm loping onto the pitch just after everyone's gone home for tea. But...

This "when I go to a folk club I expect to hear folk" line stirs mixed feelings in me. I agree, I think, that what it says on the tin should be a trusty guide to what you'll find inside the tin. And given the choice between an "anything goes" evening and a session of hardcore trad I'd probably go for the latter nine times out of ten. That's me talking as a listener. As a performer – well, I've been singing Eng Trad in folk clubs for about 35 years because that's what I like singing more than anything else. And I'd need three lifetimes to sing all the songs I want to sing. But I seem to have reached a sort of climacteric in my life in which I feel a need to engage with a lot of other stuff that feels part of my DNA as a singer. Mostly it's stuff that I absorbed in that highly absorbent stage of life between about age 9 and 19. Stuff that I never consciously learned for performance but which nevertheless feels somehow part of what I am.

Trouble is, of course, most of it isn't trad, however elasticated your definition of the term. But if I can't sing it in folk clubs, where can I sing it? Because I play anglo concertina, everything I sing comes out in what some here have identified as a "folk style", whether it's Jamaica Farewell, Sun Arise, Times They Are A-Changing, Lilly The Pink or Jumping Jack Flash. Pop dross, some of you might say, but they have a high emotional voltage for me. But I get the impression that Jim C would flounce out of any club in which I presumed to stand up and sing anything of this sort, even if I had a finger in both ears and a t-shirt declaring McColl For Pope.

Now, just like Walter Pardon I can tell the difference between this kind of stuff and traditional song. (Not that I'd compare myself to him on any other level.) But Walter's ability to discriminate between genres didn't stop him from learning music hall ditties, union anthems and other bastard children of the common muse. And singing them too (otherwise we wouldn't know about it).

So would Walter have got a gig at Jim's folk club only if he'd signed a contract in triplicate that he'd stick faithfully to his trad repertoire? And if the answer is no, doesn't that mean that Jim's shibboleths are those of style rather than substance? And if the answer's yes, doesn't that mean that Jim's definition of "folk" is essentially "music of which I approve"? Just wondering...

Enjoying the debate! Don't stop.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 06 Mar 10 - 04:22 PM

Blimey! Hello Raymond - I now sing one of your songs care of Sedayne.
Folk Process? Maybe not, but it's fun anyway innit?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 06 Mar 10 - 04:24 PM

Make that *two*


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 06 Mar 10 - 04:43 PM

"doesn't that mean that Jim's shibboleths are those of style rather than substance? And if the answer's yes, doesn't that mean that Jim's definition of "folk" is essentially "music of which I approve"?"

Having (just) come to the realisation that JimC is partial to contemporary folk (in the traditional idiom) I've found it harder to understand his position, or rather I've found it much harder to appreciate the sustanability of his position when he opposes others of the revival in the debates we see here.

If he were a hord-core Traddy with no time for contemporary compositions in the folk idion (jeesh it takes so long to type!) it'd be far easier...


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 06 Mar 10 - 06:07 PM

"but at least he has never relied on the Humpty Dumpty philosophy of "Words mean what I want them to mean"

As, Jim, you have twice accused me of doing this in previous debates, I take it you are referring to my arguments here. (And if you are not, then my rebuttal will stand for whomsoever you were thinking about).

I would dearly love you to take a deep breath and try to understand this one thing..

The arguments I have carefully set before you have nothing to do with that famous Lewis Carroll quote.

To claim it does (over and over and over again) is to suggest that I am both very stupid and also that I have no respect for, or understanding of, the English language, or the way it is made and remade by democratic evolution.

The point I have tried to get over to you on many occasions is that if you want to be understood, you sometimes need to speak your interlocutor's language in preference to your own - or at least to adopt their vocabulary.

When (to simplify the argument) I speak to anyone older than 65 (or who has given me some other relevant clue) about folk and traditional music, I should guess that they may use these words the way you do, Jim, and temper my argument accordingly.

When I speak to someone between, say, 65 and 40 (actually this is not about age, but age will do as a cypher for now), then I need to be careful because a number of interpretations may apply, and I'll probably have to check as I go that we understand each other.

But when I speak to anyone younger than 40, or to anyone who is interested in 'roots' music but who has little knowledge of 'heritage' music, then I can assume the Wikipedia definitions will usually hit the mark, because that IS the 'correct' language for that demographic.

This is not dishonesty or self-delusion, it is plain common sense.

I've been filming around London and the South West all week. I read quite a few contemporary music magazines while I was there, and noted the bands that were called 'folk' in these publications. None of them were what you'd call 'folk', Jim.

To say that they have chosen this term themselves just to cheat their way into the traditional music sector is just plain stupid.

They use these words the way they do because everyone around them does - and has done so for decades.

Music magazines have millions of readers between them, and they have been using the word folk to describe acoustic music of all types, along with a lot of other ill-defined applications, for about 40 years, and it has become the norm everywhere apart from, ironically, within the 'folk' world.

The message has been reinforced again and again over time ever since the Americans decided that contemporary music could be called folk in the 1960s. We see the evidence in dictionaries, in the categories of music competitions, on file sharing websites, and on the shelves on record stores as well as in newspapers and magazines. And I hear it in everyday conversation among musicians and enthusiasts of all ages in city, town and country up and down this land - not to mention in other parts of the world (specially the USA).

Hundreds of millions of people are happy to use the word 'folk' to mean almost anything they like as long as it's folky to them.

So.

This is not me, (or anyone else), being like Humpty Dumpty.

This is me being a professional communicator who wants to be understood.

Do you think you could give it a rest now?

Tom


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 06 Mar 10 - 07:09 PM

Traditional Song may be finished, but I have noticed that the Traditional Singers do go on.... :-P


I'll get me hat....


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 03:41 AM

A clarification on this bright Sunday morning.

I make no complaint about anyone arguing for or against the 'academic,' '54,' 'original,' or 'continuing' meaning of terms like 'folk song,' 'the tradition,' 'folk singer,' 'traditional song' and so on.

There is nothing wrong with debating these definitions and the issues behind them, and in the case of the word 'traditional' it's actually very important that the legal and musicalogical issues are kept in the public consciousness.

The debate may seem tedious and cyclical to some, but there are important issues at the heart of it.

But it's important that everyone understands that the only one of these words with a 'fixed' meaning is 'Traditional,' and only because of it's quasi legal definition.

All the other words and phrases, regardless of how they may be defined in books, or in popular usage by any number of groups or sects, are - to coin a phrase - in the public domain, and may be interpreted by different people in different ways.

We all use words in the ways we have learned them, from parents, teachers, peers, books and other media.

We learn new (old) words all the time, and the meaning of these words may be different to the way they were originally defined. Language is not carved in stone. Dictionaries and academic works need to up-dated from time to time to allow for the changes that naturally take place. (Vis the change in the 54 definitions from 'folk' to 'traditional').

Pronunciation

It is morally wrong to suggest that someone who uses a public-owned word in a slightly different way to your own preference is being deliberately obtuse, dishonest, fraudulent or whatever.

Argue for your own meaning by all means. But accept that others have a right to use words they way they have learned them, and that to them that meaning is as correct, true, honest, natural and real as your own definition.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom again
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 03:59 AM

The mac went bonkers and posted while i was typing!

Ignore the above.

________________________________

A clarification on this bright Sunday morning.

I make no complaint about anyone arguing for or against the 'academic,' '54,' 'original,' or 'continuing' meaning of terms like 'folk song,' 'the tradition,' 'folk singer,' 'traditional song' and so on. Or for newer wider meanings of these words.

There is nothing wrong with debating these definitions and the issues behind them, and in the case of the word 'traditional' it's actually very important that the legal and musicalogical issues are kept in the public consciousness.

The debate may seem tedious and cyclical to some, but there are important issues at the heart of it.

But it's important that everyone understands that the only one of these words with a 'fixed' meaning is 'Traditional,' and only because of its quasi-legal definition. (Luckily this defends the musicalogical one, but it's not forced so to do).

All the other words and phrases, regardless of how they may be defined in books, or in popular usage by any number of groups or sects, are - to coin a phrase - in the public domain, and may be interpreted by different people in different ways.

We all use words in the ways we have learned them, from parents, teachers, peers, books and other media.

We learn new (old) words all the time, and the meaning of these words may be different to the way they were originally defined. Language is not carved in stone. Dictionaries and academic works need to be up-dated from time to time to allow for the changes that naturally take place. (Vis the word change in the 54 Definition from 'folk' to 'traditional' - and the way on-line dictionary definitions differ from older printed books). If they are not updated or footnoted they will eventually become opaque and very difficult to access (like Chaucer, for example).

(Pronunciation suffers a similar change - vis the recent loss of the 'r' in the word 'brought' - everyone seems to say 'bought' now, and if this becomes normal, then it will only be like 'walk' and 'talk' and 'golf' - or a word now in transition back to the original phonetic; 'vulnerable').

It is morally wrong to suggest that someone who uses a public-owned word in a slightly different way to your own preference is being deliberately obtuse, dishonest, or fraudulent. They are using it correctly, the way they have learned it, and they have every right so to do.

Argue for your own meaning by all means. But accept that others have a right to use words the way they have acquired them, and that to them that meaning is as correct, true, honest, natural and real as your own definition.

It is not ignorance, stupidity, or some deceitful trick for their own convenience, (or even madness - as expressed by Humpty Dumpty) for musicians to call their new songs 'folk.' It is correct in their terms in their world.

Seek to change their minds by all means, but respect their integrity - or else they will think you worse than foolish.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,raymond greenoaken
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 05:30 AM

Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister
Date: 06 Mar 10 - 04:22 PM

Blimey! Hello Raymond - I now sing one of your songs care of Sedayne.

Make that *two*


...
Phew! Are you sure you're not mistaking me for Tom Bliss? Or Bert Lloyd...

Actually, I knew about one of them (Down The Ragwort Road). What's the other?

Not even I sing my songs any more...

Sorry - I know this thread isn't all about ME, but I'm curious...


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 05:43 AM

Tom Bliss ~ I think I see what you mean in your conclusion to your last post. But, if these putative young people you cite will 'think me worse than foolish' if I object to their misuse of a precise term, would you consider that they will in turn be respecting my integrity?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 05:51 AM

MtheGM. Please read again.

I specifically didn't say you (actually I was addressing Jim) would be 'worse than foolish' if you objected to someone's use of a precise term. I said "Seek to change their minds by all means."

I did say that if you failed to respect their integrity that they might consider you worse than foolish.

The reason the Humpty Dumpty anology is insulting is because HD is being deliberately obtuse.

Those who use the words 'folk' or 'traditional' in ways that differ from your own are not. They are using the words correctly as they understand them.

So call them wrong by all means, but don't call them liars or fools - they are neither.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 06:51 AM

Actually, I knew about one of them (Down The Ragwort Road). What's the other?

Why, Go into a Hare of course! Your masterful setting of Grave's Allensford Pursuit. I balled 'em up into the one song a wee while back (it's even on YouTube HERE) & CS extricated them with rare cunning.

I'm not sticking around today - it's so cold my toes are numb, and my head's aching from a 160 mile drive last night listening to Tim Westwood broadcasting live from Newcastle, featuring the amazing Skepta. Today all I'm listening to is the ringing in my ears...


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,TB
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 06:52 AM

PS

I would say exactly the same to anyone who sought to oppose your's or Jim's definitions.

Academics can define words till the cows come home. But only those who agree to abide by those definitions, such as kids sitting English exams, need to do so.

Others merely have to make sure they're understood by the person they're talking to.

If they choose a new unique and totally personal meaning (as HD did), they will fail and probably be laughed at.

But if the word has acquired some new folk-meaning (sorry couldn't resist that) within their community then they have every right to use the word in this new way.

There are millions of examples of this - such as 'wicked' for 'good'.

'Folk' and 'traditional' (small t) have done this - and the evidence is there in spades for those who are willing to examine it.

'Traditional' (big T), when used to attribute ownership, has not.

It's a mess, but such is life - and it's a boon for us poets.

Some words are just poorly defined and mean different things to different people.

We can seek to clarify and streamline those meanings, but - assuming they have a genuine usage by a significant community - we can't deny them.

To do so is to risk being thought 'worse than foolish.'


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 07:55 AM

Maybe shifting sidewise for a second will help.
When did my understanding of the term R and B (Guitar/Bass/Drums/Harmonica etc) mainly played in pubs, morph into what Kids consider to be R and B (Mainly Black soul/pop crossover music)?
Who started that one...they could have warned us!!
So I'm in agreement with Tom Bliss. Different strokes for different folks (pun intended1)
And don't get me started on Txt Spk....


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 05:16 PM

Sorry, still tied up too much to take part in this.
In the meantime:
"But it's important that everyone understands that the only one of these words with a 'fixed' meaning is 'Traditional,'
Perhaps you might elucidate on this extraordinary statement Tom.
Of the two terms, 'traditional' is probably the most ambivalent.
'Folk' has an established, widely accepted definition used globally by those working in the field ' (researchers, collctors, educationalists eg. - those who record, document, write up and teach - those who make permanent). Among these it has something that the present day revival totallly lacks - consensus.
A thought - any legal challenge to the present definition is quite likely draw the attention of the PRS and IMRO jackals to the 'public domain' status that folk music enjoys. Already, immeasurable damage has been done by claims of payment by PRS from folk clubs 'in case copyrighted music is perfomed at them'. Legal challenges could well bring the whole pack of cards tuimbling to the ground.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Tootler
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 06:07 PM

'Folk' has an established, widely accepted definition used globally by those working in the field ' (researchers, collctors, educationalists eg. - those who record, document, write up and teach - those who make permanent).

That is it is an academic definition. I do not mean that in the pejorative sense that the term "academic" is often used, but that it is a definition by and for academics - those engaged in scholarly work - in this case, in the field of folk music and folklore.

As a retired academic (in engineering rather than folklore) I would caution care in using academic definitions outside the context for which they were developed because all sorts of misunderstandings start to creep in as a result of the "adopters" not being fully aware of the original context. The result being the the outside world's meaning of the term becomes different from that of those who originally defined the term.

Much of what Tom Bliss wrote earlier makes perfect sense to me and I can see where he is coming from. As I understand it, he is describing what happens to a term when it becomes adopted outside of its original context - in this case the world of the folk music collector. An example of what I described above.

For the, admittedly limited, time I have been involved again with folk music more recently, it has become clear to me that the term "folk" generally encompasses more than the 1954 definition and that it does not seem to have a precise definition. This is largely because working musicians and folk music audiences one way and another do not have the same need for a precise definition of the term "folk" that academics do.

For the most part the term folk seems to be used in the big wide world to refer to both traditional music and to more recently composed music in the folk idiom. The term does not have precise boundaries and some would take it wider and others narrower.

One of the problems with most of these discussions is that there is a variety of sets of assumptions being made which are not made explicit. As a result misunderstandings occur because the various parties to the discussion are not always really discussing the same thing and because they take their underlying assumptions for granted and assume that others share the same set of assumptions which is not necessarily true. This ultimately leads to the kind of bickering which so irritates many people - myself included.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 06:29 PM

"For the most part the term folk seems to be used in the big wide world..."
On the contrary the 'big wide world' has not seen fit to comment on the definition of folk song - certainly not the 'talking horse' one.
The general misuse of the term comes solely from the clubs, where no consensus exists and can cover anything from Chevy Chase to "Jumpin' Jack Flash".
Would you term ' The Penguin Book of English/American/Canadian Folk Songs "academic" works?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 07 Mar 10 - 07:18 PM

"The general misuse of the term comes solely from the clubs, where no consensus exists and can cover anything from Chevy Chase to "Jumpin' Jack Flash".

Various Consensi do exist, some in clubs and some elsewhere, but these consensi are not universal because people are free to use words as they choose, and people have chosen - through natural linguistic evolution - a number of diverging uses for these terms.

The 'misuse' of the term (only it isn't misuse, it is correct usage because no-one has any right to police any definition except a legal one) is widespread, and in popular parlance far beyond folk clubs.

Your (and that of the authors you mention) appropriation of the word 'folk' is 'correct' Jim, but it is no more 'correct' than that of, for example, the many thousands of contemporary artists on MySpace, who check the 'folk' box, but play not one traditional song or tune.

I don't know why you seem never to hear this, but I'll say it yet again: Please, go listen to some popular radio, read some newspapers, browse some contemporary music magazines, eavesdrop on some pub conversations, bug some teenagers' bedrooms, go to some open mic nights, look at the Mercury nominations, (or the Radio Two Folk Awards), read this very forum - the evidence is overwhelming and staggeringly so.

""But it's important that everyone understands that the only one of these words with a 'fixed' meaning is 'Traditional,' Perhaps you might elucidate on this extraordinary statement Tom."

With pleasure.

I'm beginning to suspect that you don't read posts very carefully before replying.

I wrote: "But it's important that everyone understands that the only one of these words with a 'fixed' meaning is 'Traditional,'and only because of it's quasi legal definition."

I also explained, above and many times in other threads to which you were a contributor, that Traditional (big T) has a legal meaning in the UK and, I think, in other jurisdictions around the world.

It means 'in the public domain.' So when it is being used to denote published ownership (or lack of) its definition IS fixed in civil law, so cannot evolve. The courts have the power to fix language, no-one else does.

'Folk' and 'traditional' when not applied to ownership are not legal terms. So you can write as many books as you like on the subject - you still won't be defining the term for anyone who hasn't joined the club.

Tootler has explained it very well (thank you Tootler).

Tom


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 02:11 AM

How many times.....!
Have you heard Bob Dylan described as an American Folk Singer by lazy journalists, Jim?
As Tom says, You can make as many erudite points as you like, but if some oik turns up on "Britains Got Talent (!)" with an acoustic guitar and is introduced as "Here is Tim Bloggs...He's going to do a folk song".
2 Million viewers will get the impression that a bloke with an acoustic guitar is obviously a folk singer.
Now you and me I (and Tom, no doubt!) can sit, squirm, throw things at the TV, etc. The only consequence will be to raise our collective blood pressures.
Jo Public out there, don't give a toss. They think James Blunt and David Gray are folksingers...
We get your point Jim, and mainly agree with it. You go and tell that to the 56 million inhabitants of Great Britain.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 03:46 AM

Tom:
"I'm beginning to suspect that you don't read posts very carefully before replying."
Sorry - I'm doing this on the hoof at present; if I have misread your point, I apologise.
As I see it, by giving a title to what you do - 'folk', 'classical', 'jazz'...., is, as far as I can see, entering into a commitment to provide a specific type of music - that is the basis on which you draw in your audience (or sell a certain flavour of soup, or whatever business you happen to be involved in).
As far as folk music is concerned that has worked fairly well up to comparatively recently.
While it is true that circumstances or added information can alter our understanding of what we do so the definition evolves, the prevailing situation is that clubs now honour no commitment to provide any specific type of music, thereby depriving any audience member to choose the type of music they wish to listen to - they/you have ripped the label off the soup tin!
As far as any public misconception surrounding the term folk (in my experience, not a term in general currency) - language is based on concensus, on which communication is dependent - take that away and we cease to talk to each other, the existing state of affairs in the revival.
As far as 'sloppy journalists' and 'Britain's Got Talent', you would no more give these people the right to misuse and manipulate our language than you would give Heinz the right to call their tomato soup Mulligatawny - or would you?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 03:55 AM

"As far as 'sloppy journalists' and 'Britain's Got Talent', you would no more give these people the right to misuse and manipulate our language than you would give Heinz the right to call their tomato soup Mulligatawny - or would you?"

It's very important that we use the same words that everyone else uses, otherwise it sounds like people talking in an exclusive code which no-one else 'gets' which ends up leaving traditional material completely swallowed beneath contemporary folk. I would give "these people the right" to simply know traditional material (as they are 'everyone's songs'?) is there, by using the same language they speak.

I'm under forty. Until last year "Folk" meant acoustic singer / songwriter to me - that's what I grew up believing it meant. Traditional material needs to get out from under the suffocating 'folk umbrella' or more people like me - who don't know better - will never find it.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 03:57 AM

Yes, I was still in short trousers when my big sister brought home Freewheelin' and told me it was folk music because that's what they were calling it on Radio Caroline.

Now it may be that this blurring of definitions was a deliberate ploy by Dylan's team, or it may just be that he'd been a folk artist before he started writing songs, and no-one understood or cared about the difference. (So I wouldn't call those journalists lazy, Ralph - they're also part of the democratic process)

The term has been applied to every singer-songwriter since, as well as to a plethora of other music with some association with or resemblance to traditional music - and now it's universally vague. Just look at the play list of Radio 2'd flagship 'folk' programme over the last how many years. Joe Public is not sitting at home going, folk, not-folk, folk, folk, not-folk, not-folk.

Sean's suggestion that anything that takes place in a folk club is folk is as valid as any other, as is the 'modern /revival tradition' argument.

These phrases are now so vague as to be almost useless, but that doesn't mean any of their uses are wrong. They are right if a community thinks they are right (and that's NOT what Humpty Dumpty was saying - he was only referring to himself).

Tunng call themselves "Experimental / Folk / Electronica" on their MySpace site.

This is not deceit or ignorance. It is a a legitimate and correct use of the word.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 04:02 AM

"As I see it, by giving a title to what you do - 'folk', 'classical', 'jazz'...., is, as far as I can see, entering into a commitment to provide a specific type of music - that is the basis on which you draw in your audience (or sell a certain flavour of soup, or whatever business you happen to be involved in)."

Yes.

And that is EXACTLY what these artists do.

They DO provide folk music. THEIR folk music.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 05:16 AM

It seems to me Jim, that you are fighting the wrong battle. You have a perfectly good, legally based, word for the music...."Traditional".

"English Traditional" tells us exactly what we will be getting, without the slightest possibility of misunderstanding.

To clutch to yourself the second word, "Folk", the meaning of which, for those outside of your academic circle, has become (whether rightly or wrongly) blurred, is to cause the very confusion you seek to avoid.

All language evolves, or dies, and changing circumstances dictate the nature of that evolution.

The 1954 definition was promulgated before the revival, and before the arrival on the scene of composers writing "in the style of the tradition". The one term that can never apply to their work is "Traditional", so it seems to me logical to expand the second term to encompass their work.

I have never been able to see the logic behind insisting that both "traditional" and "folk" are required to describe the same thing, as the former is both accurate and explicit.

As to the folk club situation, once again you show your antipathy by using the same old hectoring tone and pejorative language.

""The general misuse of the term comes solely from the clubs, where no consensus exists and can cover anything from Chevy Chase to "Jumpin' Jack Flash".""

I venture to state categorically that there is NO folk club in the British Isles that fits that description. It is simply another example of your vitriolic denigration of those people who are making the effort to keep venues alive.

As you are obviously under the impression that we folk club organisers are either fools, or liars, why not conduct your own poll among the professionals who perform in our venues.

Ask people like Tom Bliss, Dick Miles,


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 05:23 AM

Pardon me! Itchy trigger finger.

That should finish

Ask professionals like Tom Bliss, Dick Miles, Martin Carthy, Norma Waterson, Dick Gaughan, June Tabor, and dozens more, if they would prefer an archive of their work, or more places to perform it.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 05:56 AM

I think we'd all answer that we want to see both - as well as a the most comprehensive and accessible archive of 'heritate' music possible.

I agree, Don, that those who fight to re-instate the unique '54' meaning of the word 'folk' are making things worse not better, and I've tried hard in the past to convince Jim of this.

99% of the population are happy to use Traditional (big T), but even that word, though partially legally protected is not infallible. (It might have been if it had been adequately defended in the past, but that's academic now).

I refer you to my first post on this thread.

Spelled (metaphorically) with a small t, 'traditional' is not definitive either, because it can refer both to the older mainly (but not exclusively) orally-shaped material, and to more contemporary material which is going through a modern equivalent.

Unfortunately, both side of this debate are also correct, but here we do still have a chance of forming a consensus - if only they would each understand where the similarities and differences between the pre- and post-revival processes lie.

The only peg in the cliff is the 'legal' consensus of Trad = Public Domain.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,tb
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 05:57 AM

sorry 'heritage'


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 06:01 AM

"I have never been able to see the logic behind insisting that both "traditional" and "folk" are required to describe the same thing, as the former is both accurate and explicit."

Absolutely! I never even realised before that Traditional has a fixed legal meaning. I can see no problem with 'contemporary folk' or even 'psychadelic folk' or 'folk rock' as descriptions of folk-derived or folk-inspired musical styles. And I think what people want to put on in clubs for a paying audience who might enjoy it, is completely up to them. The fortunes of traditional music should not be the responsibility of club owners or performers. It's bigger than that. We don't resign responsibilty for public awareness of Shakespear to local theatres! English (or Scottish/Irish etc.) Traditional is a large body of material that represents a not insignificant part of our common heritage. Fighting over the word 'folk' or criticisng 'folk clubs' isn't going to help less clued up and/or younger people (who might possibly find it of relevance and interest) to discover and explore it.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 06:05 AM

From: GUEST,tb - PM
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 05:57 AM

sorry 'heritage'

I think the 'heritage' word might be a useful term. Arguably though any definition needs to be really unweildly sounding so it doesn't get borrowed! Preferably something with lots of syllables!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 06:06 AM

Gosh this thread has transformed into yet another "What is Folk" debate while I've been trying to digest Jim's post of 05 Mar 10 - 12:17 PM. I can only manage a few lines at a time.

I just thought I'd make a minor contribution to the new subject -

The Almanac Singers


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 06:17 AM

Yes, the Protest Song continuum is another legitimate argument, and the Almanacs is an even earlier example than Dylan of new songs being called folk songs by very influential players. I think this is a US thing, where history is seen differently to the UK, with US influence on the UK folk scene being the force majeure.

Crow Sister, I'm sure some of our resident lawyers will correct me when I fail to say 'quasi-legal' every time. 'Trad' is accepted by PRS and other licencing bodies as meaning PD. This is not statute law, but a legal precedent in civil law, which is almost as good.

That said, if an individual falsely claims ownership of a Trad work, the claim is (eventually) overruled. If an individual falsely claims a copyright work is Trad it will, however, probably stand - so its not fool-proof.

Also, there are plenty of 'Trad,' Public Domain works with known writers. Plenty of 'trad' works still in copyright (specially tunes). Plenty of unofficial 'creative commons' works. Plenty of 'anon' works which are not 'trad.' And so it goes.

But not very many still uncollected 'heritage' songs.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,tom bliss
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 06:20 AM

sorry

should say:

if an individual falsely claims ownership of a Trad work, the claim is (eventually) overruled.

If an individual falsely claims someone else's copyright work is Trad, the claim will usually be overruled - and they may be sued into the bargain.

If an individual falsely claims HIS OWN copyright work is Trad, it will, however, probably stand.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 07:11 AM

in my opinion,folk clubs and particularly those folk clubs that are part of the local community are very important.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 07:32 AM

"folk clubs that are part of the local community are very important."

Yes, as a part of the community, as venues for socialising and entertainment. But they shouldn't be burdened with the onus of sole public duty of being responsibile for informing the general population about traditional music. Traditional music - as a part of our common cultural heritage - belongs to everyone, not only folkies. And I don't mean that in a bad way, I mean it in an inclusive way - this music belongs to kids from inner-city London as much as it does to dedicated folk revival enthusiasts. They have a right to know it's there, and they can draw upon it and do with it whatever they want to, or indeed leave it entirely alone! But so long as traditional music remains effectively exclusive to the folk revival world, the music of the people will never truly belong to the people.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 07:42 AM

Umm, I think that last post must be my cue to go macrame myself some banners with suitably irate slogans on them, to accost poor unsuspecting councillors with!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 07:44 AM

Still on the move:
I understand that public domain is applied to folk not traditional music. It certainly was the case when Leslie Shepherd and all others who were debating it under such titles as 'Who Owns Folk' in the folk magazines - I was not aware that this had been altered - I could be wrong.
".....if they would prefer an archive of their work, or more places to perform it."
Tough - there is, as far as I'm concerned, no contradiction, nor should there be. Anybody who has put their mouth around a folk song has in one way or another, taken advantage of the work of collectors, archivists, researchers and anthologists who have gathered the raw material - certainly in the case of Dick Miles, Martin Carthy, Norma Waterson, Dick Gaughan, June Tabor. Martin, Norma and Dick G have been in the forefront of acknowledging this fact.   
"English Traditional" tells us exactly what we will be getting, without the slightest possibility of misunderstanding."
Not the case; this has been a bone of contention throughout the revival. History is littered with the corpses of clubs that have tried to book MacColl or others who write and sing non-traditional songs using folk forms on the understanding that they only sing traditional songs. That is why the Singers Club was so named and never identified itself as 'traditional'.
"re-instate the unique '54' meaning of the word 'folk'...."
The word is not in need of reinstatement - it never went away and remains the only consistently accepted definition (if there's another one - let's have it.) It is only on the club scene that any problem arises with its use.
"Sean's suggestion that anything that takes place in a folk club is folk is as valid as any other,"
Which leaves the lady who walks into a folk club with her cello and plays Dvorak - where exactly? This serves perfectly to underline the nonsense of the 'anything goes' approach.
To answer an earlier point, it is utter nonsense to separate the academic (I'm really not sure what that means - I ask again, are enormous numbers of collections of songs that have been and continue to be published as 'folk' 'academic' works?) definition and its practical use for the purposes of attracting audiences, especially as the current use seems to carry no clue whatever as to a cohesive meaning.   
By insisting on the use of the term folk for the various musics you play I believe you have placed a huge question mark over the chances of future generations listning to folk music for pleasure, and I don't believe you have done your own music any great favours either.
Nobody has addressed my right as a potential audience to arrive with an expectation of what I'm going to pay my pennies to hear. By removing that right you have driven me, and many like me to no longer use your shop.
What commitment, if any, do you make to your potential audiences?
Jim Carroll
PS 'Acoustic (as far as this discussion goes) = Not using electronic amplification'. Doesn't this limit the term to how your music is projected rather than a definition of that music?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 08:04 AM

"History is littered with the corpses of clubs that have tried to book MacColl or others who write and sing non-traditional songs using folk forms on the understanding that they only sing traditional songs. "

Why did they not ring up the artist and ask them? I can have no sympathy with this argument.

""re-instate the unique '54' meaning of the word 'folk'...." The word is not in need of reinstatement"

You missed my word 'unique.' For the word to have only one unique meaning again would be a reinstatement.

"Which leaves the lady who walks into a folk club with her cello and plays Dvorak - where exactly?"

In the club with a cello. It is down to the club regulars whether she plays - or comes to play again. The word 'Folk' now refers to a performance/participation ethos just as much as it does to a repertoire of old songs. Anything does go in some clubs. It's called democracy.

"it is utter nonsense to separate the academic (I'm really not sure what that means - I ask again, are enormous numbers of collections of songs that have been and continue to be published as 'folk' 'academic' works?) definition and its practical use for the purposes of attracting audiences, especially as the current use seems to carry no clue whatever as to a cohesive meaning."

Academic is a loose application here - let's assume a small 'a.' Yes, there is a problem - but only if we use the word Folk in both cases. If we use Traditional for the former, and for the latter it that is what is on offer, and Folk for the latter if we are 'selling' something more 'anything goes' there is much less of a problem.

"By insisting on the use of the term folk for the various musics you play I believe you have placed a huge question mark over the chances of future generations listning to folk music for pleasure, and I don't believe you have done your own music any great favours either."

Are you not listening Jim?

I am not insisting. I am assuming an almost universal usage by a wide population. I am speaking The Queens English. I have not placed a huge question mark over the chances of future generations listning to [TRADITIONAL] music for pleasure, though I might have brought a few new people to it (remember that I sang and played about 50% pure Trad in my career).

As for this, well I have to laugh:

"Nobody has addressed my right as a potential audience to arrive with an expectation of what I'm going to pay my pennies to hear"

Have you no telephones in Ireland Jim? I don't think you'll see a flier or a poster or an advert without a telephone number, email or website.

Just ASK them!

(And if you're buying a CD, just play it first)!

You are creating a problem and causing conflict where none is necessary.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 08:04 AM

People don't seem to have picked up the main point of my reference to The Almanac Singers -

"Almanac Singers, The, political American folksinging group. Although they existed only from 1941 to 1943, The Almanac Singers profoundly influenced the development of topical songwriting. Their impact was felt especially in the folk revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s."

The 1954 conference didn't define the word, it re-defined a word already in use to mean something different.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 08:05 AM

That's exactly what I meant, Bryan


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 08:33 AM

"PS 'Acoustic (as far as this discussion goes) = Not using electronic amplification'. Doesn't this limit the term to how your music is projected rather than a definition of that music?"
no it does not because much electronic music and music that requires wah wah pedals and tremolo arms can not be performed acoustically,one other difference is that most acoustic music can be performed on cheap home made instruments[skiffle was a prime example of this].the music can then be the music of the people because it does not require economic wealth to perform.
Crow Sister,your post could possibly suggest that folk/traditional music should not be part of socialisation, Folk clubs are clubs,places where people have a good time meet other people,interact,they only differ from jazz clubs or country and western clubs in the fact that the shared common interest is a certain kind of music[folk music ]
Crow Sister you say :duty of being responsibile for informing the general population about traditional music. Traditional music - as a part of our common cultural heritage - belongs to everyone, not only folkies.
no it doesnt it belongs to those people who are interested in it,you cannot force it on people ,you can make people aware of it ,that is all you can do,
furthermore if you commercialise it too much,it loses something of its essence,yes, you might draw people in to it,by commercialising the music,but there still has to be people who are not producing a commercialised form of the music,side by side with the commercialised pop folk vendors,these are the people who play the real thing,and [imo]undertsand what the music is about ,it is about experessing yourself through song[]in the same way blues is] ,it is not about how much money can be made from it.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 08:53 AM

The broader use of the term folk is not a recent phenomenon. Mary Hopkin was described as a folk singer in the 1960s and few of her recordings were of traditional material. I'm sure the OED would turn up far, far, earlier uses of the same word to describe contemporary ballads accompanied by acoustic instruments.

Neither are 'folk clubs' responsible for the re-definition, it's a media and popular phenomenon. 'Traditional' gets nearer but still wouldn't stand up in court. There are no exclusive legal definitions of either term that a barrister would waste his time upholding.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 09:00 AM

"Crow Sister,your post could possibly suggest that folk/traditional music should not be part of socialisation,"

Not at all Dick - to clarify what I meant: I think the PRIMARY function of any club or venue for *entertainment and socialising* is simply that, and not 'education'.

Education/information at such a venue may happen incidentally. But no club should feel burdened with the responsibility of educating the public. That'd be like demanding amateur dramatics clubs bear the responsibility for educating the public about Marlowe or Shakespear or whatever. What I'm saying is that folk clubs are a phenomena of the revival and popular with folk revivalists, but enabling broader public knowledge of and access to the vast body of Traditional material that is 'the music of the people', shouldn't be the sole responsibility of folk clubs and revival enthusiasts. What I'm saying is that the modern cultural phenomenon we know as the revival, should be gently teased apart from Traditional music as a body of material which comprises a part of everyone's cultural heritage. The two things are not identical, and aught not to be treated as such - IMHO.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 09:04 AM

"Sean's suggestion that anything that takes place in a folk club is folk is as valid as any other,"

This is not a suggestion, or a definition, it is simply an OBSERVATION based on what happens in the name of folk in Designated Folk Contexts. Only a very small minority of that would pass for folk according to a orthodox reading of the 1954 Definition, which is why I've suggested an expanded appreciation of it based on recent developments in Folkloric Research as detailed in Bob Trubshaw's Explore Folklore (Heart of Albion, 2003). Here Trubsaw demonstrates the mutability of the Folk concept especially in academic circles.

Personally, I feel it's all so much reactionary horseshit anyway and would sooner be living life than observing it, but the Folk Myth continues at some remove from the glorious realities of the situation. Thus Folk is a Faith, and the 1954 Definition is a Shibboleth of that faith, and what happens in the most Traditional of folk clubs has SFA to do with the glories of Traditional Song & Music however so persuasive the potency. Hell, I might be moved to tears by a Catholic Mass but it doesn't mean I'm about to start believing in God. I do believe in the human necessity of faith - but not the truth of it, far less the righteousness that that truth engenders.

*

Which leaves the lady who walks into a folk club with her cello and plays Dvorak - where exactly? This serves perfectly to underline the nonsense of the 'anything goes' approach.

Not quite because the lady playing Dvorak on her cello in a folk club will only be there because there's nowhere else for her to play. I've heard her, and many like her; enthusiastic amateurs who come in fulfillment of the 1954 Definition by giving such otherwise composed music an idiosyncratic folk character in the the context of a community; and - well, empiricism is the key to all this and THERE'S NOTHING EVEN IN THE MOST ORTHODOX READING OF THE 1954 DEFINITION TO SAY DVORAK CAN'T BECOME FOLK MUSIC even in a revival context. The 1954 Definition is not about GENRE, it is about the Human Context of Music; it is about FOLK as an adjective, not a noun.

That said, ultimately I fear the 1954 Definition is utterly meaningless UNLESS you buy into the functionalist rhetoric in which it is couched and which justified the bourgeois plundering of traditional working-class culture in the first place. It is a relic, an anachronism, born from cultural patronage and the domination of a hierarchical social elite which saw fit to remove such treasures from their traditional cultural context and reinvent it elsewhere for fear of it dying out. For the vast majority of people it is dead anyway, but the culture from which it sprang is alive and well, just that it sings different songs now, and dances to different music. Otherwise, in the words of Kipling, I perceive no change - unlike others around here who pour their reactionary scorn on popular musical idioms that have a greater claim on being Traditional Musics than 90% of the dross that goes down in the name of Folk Music.

No language, just sound, that's all we need know,
To synchronise love to the beat of the show.
And we could dance!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 09:08 AM

The revival and Traditional music *overlap* but are not the same thing. And this is where I feel there comes much confusion in some of the discussions. They are no more the same than am-dram clubs or local theatre productions, are the same as a library full of classic dramatic texts.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 09:11 AM

What I'm saying is that the modern cultural phenomenon we know as the revival, should be gently teased apart from Traditional music as a body of material which comprises a part of everyone's cultural heritage. The two things are not identical, and aught not to be treated as such - IMHO.

Too right, CS - something I've been saying here all along.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 10:08 AM

crowsister thay are the same thing and they are not the sanme thing:please explain the difference between Roy Harris and Bob Lewis and Gordon Hall or Bob Blake singing Lord Randall,all would sing it unaccompanied both are heavily influenced by listening to traditional singers.
no ,no no, there is never black and white and there is always grey areas.,as regards styles it makes no difference how the song is learned [whether by listening to recordings or one person in the flesh or listening on the flesh on you tube,you and Suibhne are talking unmitigated #####.
this stupidity of having to seperate traditional singers from singers of traditional songs is crap,what is important is that the songs are sung and that singers listen to good source singers[not any old source singer] to get to the roots of the music .
the value[imo] is in how the songs are performed,not the label of the singer,[imo]it is valuable to listen to Phil Tanner but not Gordon Hall[both traditional singers]there are good and not so good traditional singers


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 10:19 AM

Not quite because the lady playing Dvorak on her cello in a folk club will only be there because there's nowhere else for her to play. I've heard her, and many like her; enthusiastic amateurs who come in fulfillment of the 1954 Definition by giving such otherwise composed music an idiosyncratic folk character in the the context of a community; and - well, empiricism is the key to all this and THERE'S NOTHING EVEN IN THE MOST ORTHODOX READING OF THE 1954 DEFINITION TO SAY DVORAK CAN'T BECOME FOLK MUSIC even in a revival context. The 1954 Definition is not about GENRE, it is about the Human Context of Music; it is about FOLK as an adjective, not a noun.
   more old bollocks:
all music was composed sometime,
traditional music has often been altered,that is the difference,but modern folk music does not have to be,despite some definition made by well meaning nincompoops who should have known better
but you cant exclude performers beacuse they are playing music of whom there is a known composer,I have no objection to some person playing a classical piece providing it is only occasionally that it happens when the folk club becomes full of classical musicians doing floor spots,then the whole ball game is changed,and the organiser has to get a grip on the situation,or rename his club the enthusiastic amateurs classical and dvorjak club


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 10:26 AM

Oooh dear, Valmai Goodyear and I played arrangements of a tune by Carolan and a tune by Neil Gow in a folk club the other day. Should we have our buttons cut off?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 10:31 AM

"In the club with a cello."
Sorry Tom - we're talking definition - is what she does 'folk' -if so/not, why or why not? She adheres to your "anything performed in a folk club' qualification.
"The word 'Folk' now refers to a performance/participation ethos just as much as it does to a repertoire of old songs."
No it doesn't Tom - it is very much a case of the Humpty Dumpty "Words are what I want them to mean" ethos. Nobody has mentioned 'old songs' Travellers were still making and transmitting folk songs right up to the mid-seventies.
"I am not insisting. I am assuming an almost universal usage by a wide population."
And I am insisting that there is no 'universal usage' by the 'wider population', of the term, almost or at all. The term 'folk. has been hijacked by a diminishing number of clubs to include anything they care to perform there. Meanwhile it continues to be used by academics, researchers, folk collection editors of song collections, teachers, scholars - all of whom we use to obtain our information and raw material.
"Have you no telephones in Ireland Jim? "
Oh, come on - do I have to phone a bakers first to find if they sell bread? - give us a break Tom. Do you honestly expect anybody to have to cross-question a club organiser to find out if what they are selling is what it says on the tin (assuming of course that they are contactable)?
"You are creating a problem and causing conflict where none is necessary."
No I am not Tom - the problem has been with us for many years now in the form af declining numbers of clubs, disappearing audiences and enthusiasts, lack of credibility in terms of media access, refusal of funding for performance and research, access to support for work carried out on folk music, general recognition for our music, and above all THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE THE MUSIC WE WISH TO HEAR. As I said, you've ripped the labels off the tin.
"I think the PRIMARY function of any club or venue for *entertainment and socialising*"
Then why call it 'folk' or 'classical' or 'jazz' - why not simply 'social entertainment centres'? I suggest that choosing a title for your music commits you to a great degree to honouring that description.
"Neither are 'folk clubs' responsible for the re-definition, it's a media and popular phenomenon."
Nope - it's the 'anything goes' crowd. Neither the media nor the general public have shown any great interest one way or another whatsoever as far as the UK is concerned.
The story is somewhat different here in Ireland. Since the change of fortune of traditional music here it is very much the dog wagging the tail and not the other way round - and will continue to be so for a very long time to come.
"... it re-defined a word already in use to mean something different."
No it didn't - it articulated the existing use to cover music and song more comprehensively - the term was in full use and accepted in relation to song, music and dance from at least the beginning of the twentieth century.
"The two things are not identical...."
No they are not - they are two sides to the one coin; one supplied the raw material for the other - they are as inseperable as that.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 10:39 AM

"you and Suibhne are talking unmitigated #####."

Well thank you Dick, if you say so...

>exeunt<


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 10:41 AM

It's absolutely nothing to do with clubs JC. Folk has had the wider meaning in record shop racks, the broadcast media and print since the 1960s at least.

"Neither the media nor the general public have shown any great interest one way or another whatsoever"

Yes they have. They call ballads by singer songwriters on unamplified instruments 'Folk Music'. Crow Sister's previous assumptions were entirely mainstream. There's nothing reactionary, perverse or counter-intuitive about calling that sort of music 'folk' and hasn't been for decades. Whether you include classical, jazz, pop, blues and so on is for the advocate to prove but self-penned song stories played on a guitar are most certainly folk. Ask anyone outside a folk club.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 10:42 AM

this stupidity of having to seperate traditional singers from singers of traditional songs is crap,what is important is that the songs are sung and that singers listen to good source singers[not any old source singer] to get to the roots of the music .

Not true at all, GSW. The only thing that is important is that the songs were sung by traditional singers - anything else is a conceit revivalist recreation. As I've said, I wouldn't care if no one sang these songs again. That they have been sang by the masters is enough; that they are sang again by folk enthusiasts both amateur and professional is of no importance whatsoever to the legacy of Traditional Song and the culture in which it occurred. The further we drive this divide, the better it will be for the status of Traditional Song because it won't be suffering from association with a largely disparaged cliché ridden folk scene.

Listen to the source singers and marvel; their like will not be heard again.

more old bollocks:

Despite what I said above there it is my belief that people should be free do anything anywhere in the name of anything they choose. That Folk Clubs provide an open platform for enthusiastic amateurs & professionals alike is a reality that I have no problem with, just as long as they don't confuse what they're doing with the real thing from which it derives at whatever sort of remove.

I have often made the analogy between Folkies and Model Railway Enthusiasts - the difference being you would never hear a model railway enthusiast saying, as you have here, this stupidity of having to separate real trains from OO-scale models is crap. Know your place that's what I say; this is the road to true happiness.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 11:18 AM

I'm beginning to lose patience...
SoB says
"Listen to the source singers, Their like will not be heard again"
That would be a nice trick if you could do it.
To set the record straight, you and I never heard them in the first place...! (Unless you possess a Tardis)
Would love to hear these mythical Source Singers....Pray tell me what recording equipment was available in the 13th and 14th centuries? Are they available today on CD?
And surely, even if such equipment was available in the dim and distant past, wouldn't that make the original performers "Singer-Songwriters"? The very people who are ruining Traditional music today?
All we can listen to today are recordings of early artists, post 1900. All of whom learned their songs from people who existed before recording techniques existed.
Therefore, All the "source" singers that you put on pedestals, are in fact revival singers, the very group of people who are ruining the traditional scene in this century.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
And I await your rebuttal with interest.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 11:24 AM

"listen to the source singers and marvel"
not in the case of Gordon Hall OR Ted Chaplin or the fiddler Harkie Nesling.
No, even with source singers there is very good and not so good and average.
you are putting source singers on a pedestal regardless of merit.
you say the folk scene; is largely disparaged cliche,in the opinion of people like yourself who [imo]are off their trolleys.
the real thing in my opinion is not Gordon Hall,but it is Phil Tanner,throw away your labels and use you ears and listen and judge on musical merit,


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 11:32 AM

I would rather listen to Ron Taylor revival than Gordon Hall [SOURCE].and you sir[suibhne] sound like you have been copying Peter Bellamy.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 11:42 AM

And...
Some proof for you SoB.
On the Leader LP "Unto Brigg Fair" Folk songs from Lincolshire, there is a wonderful version of Rufford Park Poachers sung by Joseph Taylor.
I quote.
"This tune is unique, and must be possibly the finest song that Joseph Taylor sang."
Did he nick it from someone else? (Revivalist) or did he make it up? (Songwriter).
"Sorry pal, you can't sing that sort of stuff in my club....On yer bike."


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: the Folk Police
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 11:43 AM

"Fatty!"
"Spotty!"
"Fatty!"
"Spotty!"


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 12:15 PM

"Therefore, All the "source" singers that you put on pedestals, are in fact revival singers, the very group of people who are ruining the traditional scene in this century."

No, they aren't. The term 'source singer' has an accepted meaning, examples include Harry Cox, Doug Wallin, Addie Graham . . . these people are NOT revivalists in any sense of the word. Whether someone prefer to listen to a given source singer, or another who is a revivalist is another, separate question.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 12:18 PM

GSS - Musical ability is no indication of musical quality nor yet a signifier of cultural significance, which is what we're talking about here. At least it's what I'm talking about here.

Ralphie - Remind me, at what point did I say anything about singer-songwriters?

Curiouser and curiouser.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 12:35 PM

I think you miss the point Mr/Ms Gander
Where did Harry Cox get his songs from? Or did he write them...
Don't get me wrong. I love hearing singers and musicians recorded in the early 20th century, and have had the pleasure of meeting many of them. But, time moves on.
Of course it's wonderful that all these archivists, collectors, whoever are digging out old manuscripts/broadsides etc.
From Child onwards. Not forgetting Doc Rowes massive body of work re the English tradition Great stuff.

You say "The term source singer has an accepted meaning"
Accepted by who, exactly?

Well, unless defined accurately. I'll find my songs/tunes where and whence I can. If thats all right with you.

All very useful as source material.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 12:44 PM

This 'musical quality' red herring keeps appearing above the waves of disapproval. A traditional song, even by conservative definitions, is still traditional if it's performed out of tune by a toothless crone so long as sufficient words and notes make the thing recognisable. The notion that the songs were performed in a way we recognise as professional is the anomaly. No doubt some made their way into formal situations where virtuosity was the rule but song memorisers were more likely to be in modern musical terms, a bit crap. Certainly not up to musical hall standards of presentation.

Of all genres folk has least to say about consistent standards of performance.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 12:46 PM

Jim Carroll

"... it re-defined a word already in use to mean something different."
No it didn't - it articulated the existing use to cover music and song more comprehensively - the term was in full use and accepted in relation to song, music and dance from at least the beginning of the twentieth century.


Very impressive. I wondered how you'd get out of it. Make the 1954 definition retrospective. Brilliant. But it didn't articulate ALL the existing use, for instance, the usage that described The Almanac Singers as folk singers.

There is no escaping the fact that around 1940, mostly down to Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger as far as I can make out, the US folk revival got started leading to The Weavers, The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan... That is what a lot of people who use the word folk understand by it. They have never heard of the 1954 definition and, for that matter, neither had I before I joined Mudcat.

Blaming the decline of UK folkclubs in the eighties on something that happened forty years before is not very convincing.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: olddude
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 12:53 PM

LOL
How many folkies does it take to change a light bulb ...

answer: none, no one can agree what a light bulb is


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 12:56 PM

brilliant Snail,checkmate me thinks.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 01:12 PM

Mr./Ms. Ralphie -

Sorry, but you are the one who misses the point. A 'Source Singer' is understood to mean (by everyone I've ever known to use the term) as someone who learned his or her songs from a living tradition, usually oral. A 'Source Singer' is not necessarily the composer of the song, though it might be - lots of traditional singers composed and sang their own material.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 01:17 PM

Only ever heard of the 1954 definition about 3 months ago (and No, I wouldn't even bother to read it, thank you!)
The only connection that I have with 1954, is that, that was the year I was born.
So any music I make cannot by definition be traditional then. (Glad to know where I stand in the pecking order. younger than Scan Tester and Oscar Woods, but, outlived George Spicer.)
Oh I must be lost then....
Nice to know how I figure in the pecking order.
Well, So sorry chaps. I will continue to play the music I love. and I don't give a stuff what you might call it. Just try and stop me..
If you don't like it. tough.
In other words.
Carry on Chaps.
I'll just carry on pursuing MY tradition, handed down to me by my Father.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 01:30 PM

Good Soldier Schweik

brilliant Snail,checkmate me thinks.

Oh, come on, Dick. This is Jim we're talking about.

By the way, I'd be careful what you say about Gordon Hall when you come to Lewes.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 01:39 PM

Jim

This comes down to statistics.

We both probably agree on the number of people who, like you, prefer Folk to refer only to a repertoire of material which has undergone a certain process (the past tense being critical here).

We disagree on the the number of people who prefer it to mean something else.

You say the second group is confined to a diminishing number of clubs who allow non-traditional material to be performed. So that would be a few thousand people in the UK at most?

I say the number is massive, because it includes anyone who has ever encountered the word in record shop racks, in radio and TV broadcasts, gigs, festivals, magazines and newspapers - on both sides of the Atlantic and in at least most English speaking countries - since the 1960s. I think that would number well into the millions.

Now - if we could run a world-wide survey and it turned out that I was right - would you accept my argument that the definition had been widened by a democratic process?

I hope you would. I can't prove my numbers claim, though I'll stand by it. I can however speak from personal experience about your claim. (I think I'm in good position to do this because I've been booked by hard-core trad clubs as often as I have by contemporary and easy-going clubs - something very few artists can say).

I'll report that you can count the number of UK clubs which restrict the material performed to '54 Folk' on the fingers of one hand. Most of the clubs who label themselves 'Traditional' will also enjoy new songs, and are happy to hear a wide variety of material. (The may, however, politely ensure that it doesn't take over). These clubs are doing well, but not many are recruiting new members, and most are populated by people well into their 60s. (Tune sessions are a very different story - very healthy and very Trad, incidentally you NEVER hear the F word in tune sessions, it's always 'Trad').

By contrast, the number of clubs (not all of whom use the F word, of course), where you hear some traditional material along with trad-sounding new songs plus others people just fancy doing, runs into the hundreds, or thousands if you include singarounds and open mics. These are doing much better, and often have younger people in them. Tthese places DO support traditional song along with the rest, so they ARE valuable both from a performance/community point of view, AND from a repertoire/educational point of view.

This a GOOD THING, not a threat to The Tradition.

All you have tov do, Jim is accept the substitution of the word Traditional for your word Folk. Pretty much everyone else has, so I don;t know why it should be so hard.

You made a little story about buying soup in another thread. I'll retell it my way.

John Christmas likes tomato soup. Once upon a time, long long ago, the only kind of tinned soup you could buy was tomato. But then they started making other flavours of soup as well.

John Christmas goes into a shop and asks for a tin of soup. He's thinking of tomato, but he doesn't ask for it, because he only ever buys tomato soup and he's forgotten that they started making other flavours 60 years ago.

The nearest tin happens to be lentil, but the shopkeeper thinks John won't mind as he only asked for soup, so presumably he likes all types of tinned soup.

John buys the soup without examining the label, (which actually says Lentil in big letters on it), then he goes home and opens the tin. Oh no! He HATES lentil soup.

Now, whose fault is it?

The Romans had a phrase which the lawyers have adopted - Caveat Emptor.

I'm not asking you to cross-examine club organisers. Just to understand that they are labelling their soup correctly. If you want to make sure it's tomato you need to read the label carefully. There are usually plenty of clues.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 02:03 PM

Bryan,understood.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: MikeL2
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 03:33 PM

hi dan

..........brilliant !!!

.....and when they think they have defined what a lightbulb is and written it down.....someone will come up with something slightly different.....lol

cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 03:42 PM

Bryan:
"Make the 1954 definition retrospective."
I suggest you read - or even just look at the title of D K Wilgus's 'Anglo American Folksong Scholarship Since 1898; or even English Folk Song - Some Conclusions (1907) or English Folk Song in the Southern Appalachians (1917) and take note that The Folk Song Society came into being in 1899. All these adopted as their subject what the present revival knew as folk song, and took as their inspiration William Thom's 1846 definition of 'folkore'. '54 was a relative latecomer to the scene and did little more than draw together the various thresd of information.
I have to say I find the silences in these discussions just as telling as the responses.
So do I regard the lady with the cello as 'folk' in the present sense?
No Cap'n - I don't dispute that Dvorak miiiiigggggght one day become folk; though I doubt it; I do suggest that it ain't happened yet, no matter how many times it's performed at Boggart Hole Clough Folk Club.
Do club organisers feel they have an obligation to provide what it says on the tin?
If the existing definition is now redundant - what has replaced it (leaving aside SO'P's "anything that takes place at a folk club" silliness).
Do I, as potential audience, have any right to expect anything remotely resembling the accepted definition of folk song which my, and just about everbody I was involved with's understanding of the term is based on?
Whatever failings the existing definition might have, I knew what to expect when I first became involved - all gone now.
Tom - just seen your posting. Please do not use loaded language - I am not and have never been a member of..... the group who would RESTRICT folk clubs to the 1954 definition - I personally have never met anybody who ever advocated such an idea.
In terms of club presentation I would fit fairly neatly into the 'I don't know what folk music is but I recognise it when I hear it) camp.
My point has been right along that folk song forms provide perfect templates for new songs, but what is being proposed steps far beyond that - we really are talking 'Jumpin' Jack Flash', Dvorak and The Beatles here.
Would I accept the results of a survey? Depends on how the question was phrased and to how many people, but of course I would.
I have conductd such a survey with people I have worked with throughout the last nearly 50 years. The impression I have gained has been that most would have drawn their conclusions largely from the folk boom which took its inspiration from the material described by the '54 definition (which includes The Almanac Singers, The Weavers, The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary and Bob Dylan, Bryan).
Your John Christmas example is somewhat silly Tom as it presumes that one minute there was only tomato soup and the next there were hundreds of types.
What your analogy does underline is the need for labels and the necessity to honour the contents.
"Caveat Emptor." Bit of a cynical way to get anybody into your folk club isn't it?
At least we had an idea of what we meant by 'folk', could relate it to song collections and recordings - it appears to me that you offer none of tehse; in order to do so you would have to agree among yourself what the word means - as it stands it means nothing.   
".....and No, I wouldn't even bother to read it, thank you!"
Which should leave you with all the information at hand for you to make a rational informed decision Ralphie... would that everybody were as open-minded as you!
Jim Carroll
PS Now are guest has gone, leaving me with afully operational sound system, gawd bless 'im, I hope to respond to earlier points directed at me - later.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 04:04 PM

A response of genius JC. This bit was particularly splendid - "I have to say I find the silences in these discussions just as telling as the responses". From someone who's addressed none of the issues it's nothing short of remarkable. This board really is a complete waste of time, isn't it?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Tootler
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 04:09 PM

Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Goose Gander - PM
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 01:12 PM

Mr./Ms. Ralphie -

Sorry, but you are the one who misses the point.


No I think Ralphie has a point. I agree that the term "Source Singer" is used in the folk music world as meaning the person from whom the [version of] the song was first collected, but they are not a true source. That has to be the person who first wrote the song which, for much of the time, we do not know.

I prefer to think of source singers as representing a snapshot in time. They give you an idea of the song and its mode of performance by a particular person at a particular time. I am not saying this is unimportant, the recordings made of these singers are extremely important, but they do not tell us about the song in the generations before that particular person nor about subsequent changes to the song. The latter we will know about and modes of performance have changed over time and certainly did in the generations before the "Source singer" was recorded. These latter changes we do not know about, nor ever will unless someone invents a Tardis.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 04:28 PM

"Do I, as potential audience, have any right to expect anything remotely resembling the accepted definition of folk song which my, and just about everbody I was involved with's understanding of the term is based on?"

Err, actually - given that you're talking about a time long gone by - no, I don't think you do.

You have every right to expect something remotely resembling what a majority of the population might describe as folk song in 2010 - and you'd get it.

"I knew what to expect when I first became involved - all gone now."

No, not gone at all - just called by a different but universally understood name. Go looking for Traditional Song, and you'll not go far wrong.

"I am not and have never been a member of..... the group who would RESTRICT folk clubs to the 1954 definition"

Well you did a good job fooling me - I thought that was the whole point of your objection. You seem furious that you might accidentally go to a venue with Folk in the title, and then hear some music which does not fit the 54 definition - so therefore isn't folk. (Actually my comment wasn't loaded - I was describing a type of club so i could talk about it, but we'll let that go).

"My point has been right along that folk song forms provide perfect templates for new songs, but what is being proposed steps far beyond that - we really are talking 'Jumpin' Jack Flash', Dvorak and The Beatles here."

If you're allowing new songs formed from templates borrowed from traditional songs then you'll allow ALL of mine, and 99% of the songs you'll hear in every club in Britain. But you've never said that before - you accuse people like me who borrow bits and styles from traditional songs, play them in folk venues, and then don't object when others call it folk frauds and interlopers.

If you want to know how many clubs with the word Folk in the title (that's the label issue, yes?) encourage 'Jumpin' Jack Flash', Dvorak and The Beatles, I'd say very VERY few.

You'll hear stuff I probably wouldn't call folk occasionally in clubs calling themselves Folk Clubs, but it's quite rare. You'll hear it in some singarounds and open mics, and some will call it folk because of the context, but that's ok - the context argument has also been proven by communal acceptance.

If that's all you're worried about than I think you need to relax.

"If the existing definition is now redundant - what has replaced it (leaving aside SO'P's "anything that takes place at a folk club" silliness). "

The definition is NOT redundant. Merely, the word used to describe it has changed. I have given you the loose, vague, but nevertheless true new definition of the original word many many times.

Google 'Folk song definition'..

I just did, and this came top:

Definitions of folk song on the Web:

a song that is traditionally sung by the common people of a region and forms part of their culture
wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Folk music can have a number of different meanings, but most commonly refers to Traditional music. The original meaning of the term "folk music ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folk_song

A song originating among the working people of urban and rural areas, and handed by oral tradition; A song in this style which may have been written in recent times
en.wiktionary.org/wiki/folk_song

I'm happy with all of that. Why can't you be?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 04:40 PM

Then you want to change the meaning of an accepted word or phrase. Fine, but that does make it difficult to have a conversation. And the idea that a traditional singer such as Harry Cox is not "a true source" because he or she is not the one who wrote the song is just ridiculous, but then Ralphie also has told us that source singers - traditional singers - are actually revivalists.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 05:05 PM

No Cap'n - I don't dispute that Dvorak miiiiigggggght one day become folk; though I doubt it; I do suggest that it ain't happened yet, no matter how many times it's performed at Boggart Hole Clough Folk Club.
jim, what are you on? can I have some?
I never suggested anything of the sort,I said quite categorically,that the occasional folk spot of this sort was acceptable,but if all the spots were of this nature the organiser had better get a grip of the situation,does that imply it is folk music?no it does not.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Tootler
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 05:05 PM

Reread my post properly. I was not advocating changing it. I accepted that that is the usage in the folk music world. I was merely pointing out that Ralphie had a point and that it was a valid one, IMHO - though I did think calling the "Source Singers" revivalists was stretching it a bit.

That does not in any way alter the fact that the particular usage of the term "Source Singer" irritates me, but I accept that that is how it is used.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Tootler
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 05:23 PM

Sorry, I was replying to Goose Gander. Your post snuck in just before mine, Dick.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 06:00 PM

Anyone fancy a pint?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Banjiman
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 06:06 PM

Yes please. Old Peculiar...... or is that a member of the forum?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 07:29 PM

You misunderstand Bryan. This has not changed into a "What is Folk?" thread.

The question here is why "Traditional Music" has to be the only thing describable as folk, when "Traditional Music" seems sufficient, of itself, as a definition.

It does what it says on the can, does it not?


Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 07:31 PM

"You have every right to expect something remotely resembling what a majority of the population might describe as folk song in 2010"
"No, not gone at all - just called by a different but universally understood name"
I take it you've carried out your survey Tom - when can we have the results?
"Well you did a good job fooling me"
It appears to be you not reading my posts Tom - never claimed at any point in my arguments to have supported '54 only clubs - perhaps you would like to point out where I did?
"...99% of the songs you'll hear in every club in Britain."
Another survey - not my information from this forum nor my personal experience - read this thread and others on the same theme.
"The definition is NOT redundant. Merely, the word used to describe it has changed."
Right - potatoes are still potatoes as long as you don't call them potatoes - I think I've got that.
"I'm happy with all of that. Why can't you be?"
I am - but as I said, neither my experience nor the information I've received from here or elsewhere. It doesn't work for the research side of my work, but I have no problem whatever with it for my 'potential audience' persona - especially considering that the greatest influence on my involvement wrote more songs using folk forms and is more regarded for his having done so than any other performer in the revival.
I'm not sure where 'anything performed in a folk club' fits in with all this though.
"I said quite categorically, that the occasional folk spot of this sort was acceptable"
Sorry if I misunderstood you Cap'n - was responding to the original statement that anything performed at a folk club was 'folk' - still got no feedback from Tom on this one I'm afraid.
".....addressed none of the issues"
Sorry Glueman - up against it here - which "none of the issues" haven't I addressed?
Tom;
If I ever had doubts about my stance on clubs (and have occasionally had a few during these arguments) your "Caveat Emptor" dispelled them with one flick of the typing finger. Any performer or club organiser who places the onus on the audience for what they are given by a club in the name of 'folk' or 'jazz' or 'chamber music' or blues'...... needs all the protection they can get from such sharp practice.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 07:45 PM

Sorry Don - missed this one.
"It does what it says on the can, does it not?"
No it doesn't; MacColl, McGinn, Rossleson, Tawney... and all the other songwriters composing using folk forms did not write traditional songs.
As Tom rightly pointed out, the Wiki.. definition includes "A song in this style which may have been written in recent times" - but we are being asked to accept songs which bear no relation whatever to folk forms - including everything not sung by a horse!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 08:03 PM

""Do I, as potential audience, have any right to expect anything remotely resembling the accepted definition of folk song which my, and just about everbody I was involved with's understanding of the term is based on?
Whatever failings the existing definition might have, I knew what to expect when I first became involved - all gone now.
Tom - just seen your posting. Please do not use loaded language - I am not and have never been a member of..... the group who would RESTRICT folk clubs to the 1954 definition - I personally have never met anybody who ever advocated such an idea.
""

OK Jim, which of the two underlined comments is true? They are mutually exclusive, are they not?

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Mar 10 - 08:22 PM

I don't believe Jim's attitude is doing traditional music any favours, but no they're not incompatible. There are many venues that call themselves "folk" where traditional music of any kind is effectively forbidden, and if that was what Jim was complaining about, I agree.

Meanwhile (round here in central Scotland) there are a lot more traditional music sessions of various kinds than there were a few years ago, so I can happily ignore the nothing-before-Dylan places.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 02:07 AM

JC, what's the difference between MacColl and a tinpan alley popular music composer? (no, this isn't a gag with a funny punchline) And if you say I 'must be an idiot' not to know, why isn't this folk...EE


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 03:15 AM

"From: glueman - PM
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 02:07 AM
JC, what's the difference between MacColl and a tinpan alley popular music composer? (no, this isn't a gag with a funny punchline) And if you say I 'must be an idiot' not to know, why isn't this folk...EE"

Yes. This is the part of Jim's argument that for me really undermines the sustainability of his complaints against folk clubs that give their audiences music by singer songwriters.

It reads to me, I'm afaraid, as "I want to hear traditional music AND modern compositions in folk clubs - but only so long as those modern compositions were written when I was a young man. Because only songs composed when I was a young man, are any good." This is of course is a fairly common refrain from anyone over thirty-five, ironically except most folkies who continue to dig new songs in the folk idiom. And I guess that's why they keep going to folk clubs who provide them with such entertainment.

Despite being impressed by some of MaCcol's Traditional Ballads I don't find Ewan MaCcoll's own compositions very interesting. They can be nice to hear sung at singarounds, as indeed is everything in an 'anything-goes' environment, but I wouldn't buy a recording of them. I find them pleasant songs intended to be accompanied by an acoustic a guitar but I don't place them together (in my head) with traditional songs AT ALL. As popular products of the revival they belong fully to the revival as far as I can see, as do ALL revival folk band compositions. Including THIS Which is hippy-dippy shite of the highest order, and quite fabulous for it.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 04:08 AM

"I take it you've carried out your survey Tom - when can we have the results?"

No need to be sarcastic Jim. The evidence of popular cultural influence I have placed before you is empirical.



" never claimed at any point in my arguments to have supported '54 only clubs - perhaps you would like to point out where I did?"

I don't have time to trawl through - but your robust defence of the 54 against subsequent definitions leaves an indelible impression. I'm very very surprised to now read that you allow modern songs written in a traditional style to be Folk (these being of course outside of the 54). In which case, why do my songs not qualify?



"...99% of the songs you'll hear in every club in Britain." Another survey - not my information from this forum nor my personal experience - read this thread and others on the same theme."

Err - how many UK clubs have you been to in the last 10 years Jim?

I speak on these issues because I believe I have a reasonable handle on the national situation. There are of course others who are far better placed than me to do so, but for various and very good reasons they don't want to talk publicly on these issues - whereas I feel some of the opinions expressed here need to be challenged because they are manifestly unfair, and I'm not afraid to say so.

Why do I think I have a handle?

1) I have performed as a paid guest at well over half the current UK folk clubs.

2) I have performed as a paid guest at all types of club; very trad, contemporary and anything goes, something not many artists get to do.

3) I have canvassed by telephone pretty much every single club in the land at some point in the last 6 years, usually more than once. (This was for the purpose of securing bookings, but necessitated a discussion on the type of music preferred there).

4) I started and moderated the Folk Club Organisers forum, where discussions on what goes and doesn't go in a folk club were not uncommon (as others here can verify).

5) I kept a weather eye on ALL the UK folk web forums (not just Mudcat) during my career, and especially during the period when I was a director of folkWISE.

6) I have talked at great length on a very regular basis with touring musicians of 30 and more years standing, and read a lot more from colleagues on the private Britfolk forum.

7) I've been to a lot of clubs, sessions and other folk gatherings all around the country as a consumer/participant.

So, no I haven't done a survey, and no I'm not an expert, but I think I'm as well placed to provide educated guesses as anyone else.



"The definition is NOT redundant. Merely, the word used to describe it has changed."
Right - potatoes are still potatoes as long as you don't call them potatoes - I think I've got that."

Ever heard of spuds Jim?



"I'm not sure where 'anything performed in a folk club' fits in with all this though."

We live in a democracy. If people wish to organise, or happen to inherit, events where anything goes, or where anything now goes, and then apply or leave the label 'Folk Club' to it, they are breaking no law. A majority of UK clubs have a relaxed policy on material (a gentle hand on the tiller), and a significant minority have a very relaxed policy (no hand on the tiller). Taken as a whole, this adds up to a genuine community. And if a community is using a word for a specific purpose then that use is valid in the language, and anyone who denies it is being unfair. Granted this particular definition has not reached the on-line dictionaries yet, but there is so much evidence for it that I suspect it will soon.



"I said quite categorically, that the occasional folk spot of this sort was acceptable"
Sorry if I misunderstood you Cap'n - was responding to the original statement that anything performed at a folk club was 'folk' - still got no feedback from Tom on this one I'm afraid.

I've said it many times Jim. Please read the previous sentence.



"If I ever had doubts about my stance on clubs (and have occasionally had a few during these arguments) your "Caveat Emptor" dispelled them with one flick of the typing finger. Any performer or club organiser who places the onus on the audience for what they are given by a club in the name of 'folk' or 'jazz' or 'chamber music' or blues'...... needs all the protection they can get from such sharp practice."

I'm glad you have doubts Jim. I sometimes fear you are painting yourself into a corner out of sheer obstinacy.

Caveat Emptor is universal. It applies to music events as much as soup or vacuum cleaners. Jazz venues present radically different types of Jazz (you need to check it'll be a style you enjoy), Ralph's comparison with RnB is another - in fact it goes for every rock venue in the country. This is NOT sharp practice (and it is insulting to organisers to suggest it is). It is the legitimate use of generic terms which happen to cover more than one style of music.




Jim the reason I'm not giving up on this this because I want you to understand one thing.

I know you'll not change your mind on the Folk / Traditional swap. You can't teach an old leopard new spots. It would be great if you would allow songwriters like me who use old styles and elements in their work to play in folk clubs without being blamed for the collapse of the folk movement, but I think that may be beyond you too.

What I would like you to understand (because I hope it'll reduce the number of insults coming from your keyboard) is that those who use the word 'folk' in ways that you don't agree with are doing so for adequate reasons.

They are not doing so because, like Humpty Dumpty, they just want to be awkward.

They are doing so because their friends, colleagues, mentors and other influences are doing so. And as such, because we live in a democracy where only legal language is fixed, they are using the word as correctly as you are.

Its called plurality. And it really is not a problem.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: the Folk Police
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 04:31 AM

This may help...


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 04:38 AM

Trying to get back to the OP's question.
If it had been phrased
"Is traditonal song collecting finished?" A fair question.
I would say probably yes.
There might be a few singers who have one or two gems that have never been heard before, and have been handed down through the generations but, with the prevalence of global communication available nowadays, I find it unlikely.
The days of village communities where people seldom travelled more than 5 miles from the place that they were born are long gone. (apart from Stoke, obviously!).
Yes, there might be undiscovered regional variants of already collected songs. as yet undiscovered.
But, thats probably it.
But, reading the original question (as writ), it just re-opens the bun fight that happens on a regular basis here.
It's odd that these discussions don't happen amongst musicians.
An example. I wrote a tune for a dance side in 1988 (in a quasi Traditional idiom).
10 years later, I heard someone playing it in a session. Asked the chap what it was. He said it was ages old, and he'd even changed the name! Have to admit, I was secretely pleased. Have heard it on numerous occasions since!
Maybe it will still be played in 100 years time. Now that would be nice.
All I am saying is that everything was written by someone once upon a time.
Therefore, everything will become traditional one day. We're just arguing about the length of time.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 04:47 AM

"Including THIS Which is hippy-dippy shite of the highest order, and quite fabulous for it."

CS, that's premier league roundhole. Who hasn't got room for that blissed up, youth dew, angst-lite RH that can make the A30 look like the lost highway?
MacColl is the key to unpicking all those backroom gurus with their, 'I can't hear the lyrics' and 'give me another definition' locked up contradictions buried so deep in self-fulfilling explanation pits. the best thing McColl ever did.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 04:50 AM

(Can you tell I'm not enjoying editing all my dammed interviews about the End of the World?)

Hi Ralph

"everything will become traditional one day. We're just arguing about the length of time."

Yeeees, I'd say anything that's good enough to be remembered stands a chance of becoming traditional. But new works are not just remembered, they're recorded and broadcast to millions and this can affect the remembering process.

In the Olden Days we had a very slow process which didn't involve a lot of paper (though the paper was very important and shouldn't be overlooked - as shouldn't other factors like 'Song Shakespears's and court musicians), but did involve a lot of remembering and mis-hearing and mis-remebering and accidental and on purpose reinvention.

These processes do still go on, as your story proves, but they're kinda crucially different because of the way the world is now compared with how it was in the 19th C and before.

So those who make a distinction between 'The (Old) Tradition' and a/some 'new tradition/s' are right to do so imo.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 04:56 AM

Don(Wyziwyg)T

You misunderstand Bryan. This has not changed into a "What is Folk?" thread.

OHMYGAAD! Now it's going to turn into a "What is a "What is Folk?" thread".


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 04:57 AM

The big problem with allowing for *some* modern folk-like music (be it Ewan MaCcoll or that bit of Pentangle I posted) and not others, is who gets to be the arbiter of what counts as 'folk like'?

Surely that has to be a *democratic* decision based on what most people tend to think of, create, purchase or participate in, in the name of 'folk'?

Billy Bragg for example works as contemporary 'folk' for me, but (as the phrase goes) your mileage my vary. As indeed may anyone elses. An entire generation may think Vashti Bunyan is as folk as you like! So who will appoint themselves as the official weigher and measurer of 'sufficient folkish quotient' to provide someone's music with an 'it's folk-like enough' stamp of approval, before it may be legitimately enjoyed by people at large who consider themselves folk enthusiasts?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 05:17 AM

There is more to being traditional than persistence. There are tunes in the repertoire of Chinese court music that date back 3000 years. Until very recent times, they were never played by anybody except court musicians. So they have not been transmitted in an environment where variation could go unchecked. They probably have changed a bit, but nothing like as fast as folk tunes do.

Beatles covers bands operate as conservatively as the Chinese court, but for most re-performances of recorded music there's no particular reason to stick closely to the original, and generally people don't. Recording doesn't change the process of of musical evolution by as much as it's reputed to.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 05:33 AM

"Recording doesn't change the process of of musical evolution by as much as it's reputed to."

No, it doesn't - there it does still change the process.

Each 'local' variation is liable to start afresh from one nationally or internationally famous version, so evolution over time is not cumulative, or is less so, anyway.

Also, when new variations (i.e. 'cover versions') become hits, these set off a new chain of 'local' variations. This is similar to when people moved to a new area to find work and took their songs with them, but we can't infer the same historical data from the recordings as we can from comparing regional variations of songs from 150 years ago.

And that's an important difference.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 05:43 AM

"This may help..."

Printed off and hanging above my desk, cheers TFP.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 05:43 AM

""The big problem with allowing for *some* modern folk-like music (be it Ewan MaCcoll or that bit of Pentangle I posted) and not others, is who gets to be the arbiter of what counts as 'folk like'?""

Jim Carroll of course! Have you not been paying attention CS.


LOL
Don T


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 06:41 AM

"Beatles covers bands operate as conservatively as the Chinese court, but for most re-performances of recorded music there's no particular reason to stick closely to the original, and generally people don't."

That may be true of musicians trying to make their own version of a song (which in some cases then becomes better-known than the original). It's not true, obviously, of cover bands. Less obviously, it's not always even true of original artists, who are often obliged to mime on stage to their own studio recordings because these can't be reproduced live.

When it comes down to ordinary people singing these songs, the sound image in their head is invariably the best-known recorded version. Hence the popularity of karaoke - people can sing these songs to a backing track which usually tries to reproduce the original record.

The real obstacle to modern songs become "folk songs" in the original sense is this existence of a permanent recorded touchstone to which people can always refer (even if only to deliberately do something different). The involuntary changes which used to arise from different interpretation of a written text or a poorly-remembered oral one are unlikely to survive against this point of reference. The deliberate changes of words or tune with which a folk singer stamped his own identity on a song will now be overruled because they're "not right".

This isn't to say these obstacles can't be overcome, just that it's more difficult for a popular song to become "folk" than it used to be.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 07:06 AM

So in the manner of the West Lothian question, is MacColl's material folk, or not?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 07:12 AM

Sorry - haven't got time to read through all these and am not prepared to respond in full until I do. Quick reaction to some in the (possibly vain) hope of clearing them up.
"against subsequent definitions...."
What subsequent definitions - so far we've had 'anything that is performed in a folk club' -are there more?
"you allow modern songs written in a traditional style to be Folk"
Didn't say that, nor do I believe it; I recognise it as being a not strictly accurate, but not importantly so, part of the Wiki definition that you put up. I said that if I go to a folk club I expect to hear songs based on traditional songs - doesn't make them traditional in any way. Ironically, the songs that, IMO, came nearest to becoming traditional were the ones MacColl wrote for The Travelling People. These were taken up by Travellers, often described by them as "our songs" and began to appear in variants. What stopped them going the distance was the collapse of the singing traditions due to the introduction of portable televisions (circa 1973/75)
"Err - how many UK clubs have you been to in the last 10 years Jim?"
Not many - but the dozen or so I have have more or less borne out my opinions. If this was all I had to go on I would happily concede that I did not have enough information to form an opinion; however, I have friends who are still very much involved in the scene and who feel the same as I do and I have (in the permanent form of the Mudcat archive) arguments that more than make my point for me, arguing not only for the acceptance of poor standards, but for their desirability in case they scare off the less experienced; the throwing open of the clubs for any kind of music (and in some cases anything but folk)... it really is all here for those who want to find it.
"Caveat Emptor is universal"
It certainly is Tom - it's a universal way of passing the onus on to the customer and ducking your responsibility as a supplier of whatever.
I find it shady practice in business (if I'd have applied it in my work as an electrician I'd have been permanently signing on the dole). I believe it to be totally unacceptable in the clubs - I certainly never involved myself in ones that operated such a policy. The responsibility of doing what it said on the tin was ours - not left to the 'customers' to get 'stung' in the process of finding what they were looking for.   
"Ever heard of spuds Jim?"
Right, we're getting somewhere - I can call them spuds because somebody wants to call their bananas potatoes - have I got that right?
Glueman
"what's the difference between MacColl and a tinpan alley popular music composer"
I'm taking your question seriously and not as a time-wasting wind-up.
So that's the sum total of "the issues I haven't addressed?" - there's a relief!
More later - in the meantime, can I highly recommend Ian Watson's excellent 'Song and Democratic Culture in Britain" as a discussion of MacColl's and other's songwriting.
"the best thing McColl ever did."
Each to his own - wonder why you think that - because Ms Flack sang it maybe?
Not too bad a love song, but for me, the best long-term side-effect was that it paid for the production of a magnificent ballad series - "Blood and Roses".
Be interested in why you think it's the best he did.
More later.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 07:19 AM

The folk genre is I feel very wide and MacColl is "folk" in that he wrote songs which fall in the definition of what folk song is

he is not a writer of traditional song ~ do we not believe that generally traditional song has no known author, or pehaps we need to think in terms of putting a date on known song authors (something akin to "Time immemorial" in legal terms)where sources were from broadsides and music hall

Songs being written currently are in the "traditional style" in many cases, in that they hark back to some way of life or feelings in a not too distant past.These can never be traditional songs as we know who wrote em!!

Collecting traditional songs is nearing completion in my view ~ we are in the communications era and people are no longer living as isolated in the way of some 30 to 50 years ago

Ray
Ray


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 07:32 AM

So if McColl's stuff is folk, then surely this is folk too.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 07:33 AM

Jim you are trying my patience now, mate!

How can you put this:

"What subsequent definitions - so far we've had 'anything that is performed in a folk club' -are there more?"

And then follow it immediately by this:

"you allow modern songs written in a traditional style to be Folk" Didn't say that, nor do I believe it; I recognise it as being a not strictly accurate, but not importantly so, part of the Wiki definition that you put up."

If the 54 is definition (A) then we have:

B: New songs written in a traditional style

C: New songs heavily adapted from traditional songs

D: New songs that have become associated with some traditional activity such as football.

E: New songs that have become very popular and are starting to be adapted in small ways.

F: New songs that are not traditional but which people think are traditional in ignorance.

G: Songs which have been passed orally through a family or other community.

H: Anything sung in a folk club

I: Anything performed by artists who play at folk clubs and festivals.

J: Anything broadcast on a radio station that has a folk handle.

K: Protest songs

L: Songs played on acoustic or otherwise 'folky' instruments.

M: Songs performed with a solo guitar or similar instrument.

N: Songs with a certain brittle style.

O: Songs with big choruses that suit pub singing etc.

P: Story songs.

err, there are probably more.

ALL of these are called 'folk' by significant groups of people. Ergo they are all valid, correct and reasonable uses of the word.

You don't have to accept any of the definitions, but you have to accept that the people who use them are genuine in their beliefs and have as much right to the word as you and the book-writers do.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 07:40 AM

Yes please. Old Peculiar......

I once did a gig back in 1984 as part of Rhombus of Dooom where we were paid with as much of the Old Peculier as we could drink. The results can be heard on Kallisti (that's me on bass). Needless to say we took this as a team-challenge and I've ne'er touched a drop of it since! I'm beginning to feel similarly about this thread actually...


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Banjiman
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 07:50 AM

There is a serious question here though SOP. Do you think Old Peculiar is a Traditional Ale or just some insignificant revivalist imitation?

The good thing about it is after 4 pints you just don't care!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Banjiman
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 07:55 AM

Rhombus of Doom? There's more than Old Peculiar gone into the making of that I'll wager!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 08:00 AM

There are more:

Q: All anon songs

R: All public domain songs

S: Anything more than X years old (x varies from person to person).



Other points raised by Jim:

Spuds - well you chose the metaphor, but 'spuds' only refers to 'conventional' potatoes. Sweet potatoes also contain the word but are never called spuds, (aI won;t try to work in pomme-de-terre and pommes).


""Caveat Emptor is universal" It certainly is Tom - it's a universal way of passing the onus on to the customer and ducking your responsibility as a supplier of whatever."

Suppliers have responsibilities in law too.


There is no fool-proof word to describe all of the music in my list A - S. Folk is the best we have and thus it is used my most club organisers and most people in the folk world.

We all have things in the list that we might personally reject, but we accept that these are reasonable uses of the word to the other guy.

Ergo; Tunng have every right to call their music folk. They are neither cheating to gain acceptance nor behaving irrationally like Humpty Dumpty.

People call me a folk artist too. I'm content with that and I think you should be too.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 08:11 AM

Jim Carroll

The impression I have gained has been that most would have drawn their conclusions largely from the folk boom which took its inspiration from the material described by the '54 definition (which includes The Almanac Singers, The Weavers, The Kingston Trio, Peter, Paul and Mary and Bob Dylan, Bryan).

Perfectly true Jim but not the point. The music in the folk boom is not called "took its inspiration from the material described by the '54 definition" by those who were/are involved, it's called "folk music". read what I said - That is what a lot of people who use the word folk understand by it. They have never heard of the 1954 definition Nor are they going to read "D K Wilgus's 'Anglo American Folksong Scholarship Since 1898; or even English Folk Song - Some Conclusions (1907) or English Folk Song in the Southern Appalachians (1917)" because they know what they mean by "folk". It means what has been accepted in some circles since at least the forties. OK, by the 1954 definition they are wrong but there is absolutely nothing you can do about it.

Do I, as potential audience, have any right to expect anything remotely resembling the accepted definition of folk song which my, and just about everbody I was involved with's understanding of the term is based on?

No, you do not because other people's understanding is different.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 08:39 AM

I just don't get why 1954 is so important.

How about this.
Pre   audio recording availability. (1890 ish) Traditional
Post audio recording availability. Sill traditional but slowly morphing into revivalist, with a boom when Radio broadcasting started in the 1920s, when more of the population became aware of music of all genres.
And the situation has been expanding ever since.
Makes more sense to me than the year of my birth being of any significance to anybody. (except me!)


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 08:39 AM

Do you think Old Peculiar is a Traditional Ale or just some insignificant revivalist imitation?

The trouble is, is that the old Traditional Ales as collected by Cecil Sharp et al haven't survived too well. A few years ago I drank a pint of a Traditionally Brewed Ale collected by Annie Gilchrist in Westmorland circa 1905 and was rewarded with hallucinations so violent that even the deeply coded erotic metaphors of the Barbon Pace Egging Song assumed a terrifying pornographic clarity from which I haven't quite recovered - the stomach pump didn't exactly help matters either.

Whilst we drink these things at our own risk, the crafted and unbroken tradition of brewing / drinking / falling down is a continuity that links us with our earliest & unwritten forebears, and I applaud the prospective urge (however so engendered) that maintains that tradition. That said, around the same time as the Rhombus gig alluded to earlier I did a Folk gig in darkest Sheffield where we were paid, significantly I fear, with Whitbread White Label.

A couple of years ago I did a gig at the Bare Arts Brewery in Todmorden where they cracked open a Party Pig of Imperial Stout (7.2%) and couldn't get it closed, thus both performer and audience were well lubricated during the interval. Not quite as extreme as the Westmorland 1905, but it was getting there - how else might we account for this?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Will Fly
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 08:49 AM

Hi Ralphie - I never knew you were born in 1890 - you've worn well indeed.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 08:55 AM

Will
It's the drugs and Botox!
R


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 08:56 AM

Do I, as potential audience, have any right to expect anything remotely resembling the accepted definition of folk song which my, and just about everbody I was involved with's understanding of the term is based on?
No, you do not because other people's understanding is different.


That sentence wasn't about the meaning of words. He was saying, could he expect to hear that music performed anywhere? And you know perfectly well what kind of music he had in mind.

And he's perfectly correct that it isn't as easy as it was 20 years ago, though not as difficult as he makes out.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Banjiman
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 09:03 AM

So (I'm going to regret this I know!), as a club orgaiser I put on a young band...... they were great and every song in their set was traditional and very well performed. The audience loved them. As their encore they did a "folked up" cover of an 80's pop song (A Land Down Under). The audience (and I) thought this was great fun.

I guess according to JC I should have done what..... switched off the P.A.? dragged them off stage? refused to book them again?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 09:10 AM

I would prefer it if people didn't refer to posters as "JC", since it invites confusion between the Jaundiced Curmudgeon and myself, the Jovial Crank.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Banjiman
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 09:14 AM

Apologies Jovial Crank!

I clearly meant Jim Carroll.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: MikeL2
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 09:45 AM

Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Banjiman - PM
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 09:03 AM

Hi banjiman.........paid em more ????

cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: MikeL2
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 10:15 AM

Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T - PM
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 05:43 AM

<" ""The big problem with allowing for *some* modern folk-like music (be it Ewan MaCcoll or that bit of Pentangle I posted) and not others, is who gets to be the arbiter of what counts as 'folk like'?""

Jim Carroll of course! Have you not been paying attention CS.">

Hi don

You took the works right off my keyboard....lol

Cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 10:20 AM

As their encore they did a "folked up" cover of an 80's pop song

Ah, but there are different ways of folking up 80's pop songs. There's the Traditional Way of Folking up 80s Pop Songs, and there's The Revival Way of Folking Up 80's Pop Songs. The most celebrated proponent of the former approach is Jim Eldon, who was astonishing audiences with his covers of Bat Out of Hell and Dancing in the Dark even back in the 80s; and a quick search on YouTube will reveal that he's still got the knack - for example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z_ovw1-Zjsw.

My missus is a big Blondie fan - she does a great cover of Dreaming on the five-sting banjo which always goes down a treat with traddies, folkies & Blondie fans alike. Thanks to threads like this though we rarely use the F or T words in our house - we are simply fans and exponents of Popular Music, in the Child Ballad sense, in the Jim Eldon sense, in The Fall sense, in the Skepta sense or whatever. Next time she does Dreaming though I'll film it for YouTube.

Otherwise, one would hope no-one is arguing here for Rights and Wrongs here, just the need for clarification of what we do mean when we use these words. Tom's pragmatic approach matches my own, pretty much, given that the experience must always be A) subjective and B) strictly empirical. This is how it touches us, or doesn't, as the case may be. The only thing you have to be true to is yourself; whatever you do, whatever you are moved to do, and hopefully respect others for doing likewise. As in life, then so in folk; square peggin awl...


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 10:49 AM

"Apologies Jovial Crank!"
Sorry folks - I really can't be arsed.
G'luck all
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 11:16 AM

Before you go Jim...

First I think you might reflect on the fact that my decision to join this debate is entirely down to your frequent rudeness to folk 'users,' specially musicians and club organisers.

Someone has now been a little unkind to you, but I hope you're big enough to let that slip by.

What I really want is a clarification on this:

"you allow modern songs written in a traditional style to be Folk" Didn't say that, nor do I believe it; I recognise it as being a not strictly accurate, but not importantly so, part of the Wiki definition that you put up. I said that if I go to a folk club I expect to hear songs based on traditional songs - doesn't make them traditional in any way."

You seem to be using the words Folk and Traditional as I do here: Folk includes 'based on traditional, but 'traditional' is unique. Is that right? If so good - we agree.

But then why have you so frequently waxed incandescent that people like me who perform traditional songs and tunes, as well as self-penned " songs based on traditional songs" (and who do not claim these to be traditional in any way), are allowed to sing in folk clubs? And blame us for the collapse of the folk movement?

If I understood that, I might understand better why you're so cross with people who write new songs that are only subliminally influenced by the tradition (as all songs must be) and then perform them in folk clubs.

Tom

PS Please don't bring the quality issue in here. It's highly subjective and is completely separate to the debate over material - you'll hear all types of song sung well or sung less well right across the scene according to the skill of the individual doing the singing. Nothing to do with whether it's folk or trad or not.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Banjiman
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 11:24 AM

Who's been unkind to Jim Carroll? Jovial Crank is Jack Campin's name for himself (see above)???

Confused of North Yorkshire?????

Mine was a genuine question for Jim around how he thinks club organisers could (if they wanted to) apply the controls he seems to want within the clubs.

Hey ho.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 12:23 PM

Jack Campin

He was saying, could he expect to hear that music performed anywhere?

I don't think so. A couple of lines earlier - Do club organisers feel they have an obligation to provide what it says on the tin?

I think he is saying that any club that calls itself folk is under an obligation to provide what he understands as folk.

But he's gone now so we may never know.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 12:35 PM

Mine was a genuine question for Jim around how he thinks club organisers could (if they wanted to) apply the controls he seems to want within the clubs.
thats easy,the organiser is the one who funds the club,so he/she is in a position to dictate what club policy should be,he can allow or not allow whatever singers and whatever repertoire he/she wishes,if people dont like it they can go and sing karaoke


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 12:38 PM

It's might be worth having a debate (while we wait) on to what extent a club IS a folk club if it doesn't actually use the word Folk in its title (as many don't).

Personally I call all the venues and gatherings who put on acts who work the 'folk circuit,' who operate in the same basic ways as conventional folk clubs, who advertise in the folk press, or who do actually call themselves as such, 'folk clubs' - and all my comments refer to all of these in a sort of generically vague way.

(I don't call singarounds or sessions folk clubs unless they have a name, but I kind of lump them in)

I think it may be song-gatherings (which quite often don't use the F word anyway) that stick in Jim's craw.

If clubs don't actually use the F word, does Jim mind what they put on?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 02:18 PM

Personally I call all the venues and gatherings who put on acts who work the 'folk circuit,' who operate in the same basic ways as conventional folk clubs, who advertise in the folk press, or who do actually call themselves as such, 'folk clubs' - and all my comments refer to all of these in a sort of generically vague way. ... I think it may be song-gatherings (which quite often don't use the F word anyway) that stick in Jim's craw.

http://www.myspace.com/chorltonfolkclubChorlton Folk Club

"Chorlton Folk Club was started by Jozeph Roberts in 2002. Every Thursday at about 9 (usually a bit later), Jozeph MCs and a mix of young singer-songwriters and life-hardened old timers play all kinds of music. You could call it an open mic, except there are no microphones or amps."

F-word present and correct. And, though I love it dearly, Chorlton FC is emphatically not the place to go if you want to hear traditional music. In another thread somebody linked to Sandbach FC, which actually boasts of not hosting trad. music. Jim may have overstated the name-on-the-tin problem, but he hasn't made it up. As I've said before, I was blown away by the first few evenings of traditional song I experienced & rapidly decided I wanted more of this stuff. All well and good, except that this was after I'd been a regular at Chorlton for five years. Something not right there methinks.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 02:34 PM

Hi Pip

Indeed - and I could tell you of a couple of dozen or so more, but they DO say what is in the tin.

You have quoted it right there in your post!

My serious point is that the name of the club, and whether it contains the F or T word or not, is no longer an issue in these days of web sites and telephones.

Anyone doing the most casual of research will find out that these two were not died-in-the-wool heritage-type clubs.

For people to insist that these clubs are somehow being dishonest, or engaging in sharp practice, is simply not fair or reasonable.

Out of interest, why do youthinks there's something not right with this?

Tom


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 03:37 PM

"Something not right there methinks."

It's only 'not right' if you buy the proposed notion that the revival and its musics, are in any way siblings of or even first cousins of, Traditional musics.

I don't buy that notion, and consequently I suffer zero dissapointment, frustration or annoyance at the inevitable disabuse of such a notion for someone (such as JimC) who does buy it.

What I'm happy for is a communal space where I can sing these funny old songs, alongside others who like to play Dylan, Beatles, MaCcoll, McTell, parodies, R&B & so-on.

Having said that, a 'mainly trad.' club, might be very interesting too. But if I want something that focused, then I'll have to organise it.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 04:28 PM

What's 'not right' is that I spent five years going to a folk club without ever being exposed to a full evening of traditional music - and when I did get that exposure, I thought it was fantastic & felt like I'd been missing out. Up till then I'd assumed that 'folk' meant covers, original material and the odd bit of traditional: this was the rule both at Chorlton and at a couple of other clubs I'd been to. I had no idea that it was even possible to spend an evening hearing, and singing, almost nothing but traditional material - and, of course, I had no idea how much I'd enjoy it.

Jim's fundamental point, which I think most people are ignoring, is that anything-goes clubs are doing the songs a disservice. I don't agree with everything Jim says, but on that point I think he's dead right. In fact I know he's right, to the extent that I'm doing anything to keep the songs alive - I've built up a repertoire of 40-50 songs, about ten of which I sang in the five years I was a regular at Chorlton FC.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 04:41 PM

"Jim's fundamental point, which I think most people are ignoring, is that anything-goes clubs are doing the songs a disservice. I don't agree with everything Jim says, but on that point I think he's dead right. In fact I know he's right, to the extent that I'm doing anything to keep the songs alive - I've built up a repertoire of 40-50 songs, about ten of which I sang in the five years I was a regular at Chorlton FC."

Mmm - well yeah, I agree that it'd be great if more people had awareness of and ready access to, this heritage song-bag which in theory 'belongs to the people', but trying to load folk clubs with the task of illuminating the people about what they've got is IMO a complete dead end. I'd rather see dedicated 'Explore Traditional Songs of the British Isles' type clubs for total newbs who won't be so touched by revival precidents and assumptions, set up by dedicated traddies reaching OUTSIDE of the boundaries of the revival folk club scene. If/when I feel I've developed enough experience/knowledge of this stuff, that's what I'll be doing.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 05:26 PM

"anything-goes clubs are doing the songs a disservice."

But this is still somehow assuming that folk clubs have some duty to be about traditional music.

There is no moral or legal precedent which requires this.

Furthermore I've seen plenty of evidence to witness that folk clubs have existed from the very start which were not about trad music - they were more about skiffle and/or blues than trad song, many have always allowed show songs and acoustic pop, and/or encouraged song-writing, (and then there was all that comedy in the 70s).

But even if every club in the land had started as a Trad club, there's nothing to say it should continue to be Trad if the people who go there don't want it to be.

Of course this is a shame, but you can't blame the clubs. This is just some people out enjoying live music. And that's ALWAYS a good thing.

Yes, we do need to do a big education job around Trad song - of course we do, but that's as much around schools and the media as about clubs where people have no real interest in or knowledge of Trad.

So yes, I'd love to encourage Trad song in clubs, and more new Trad clubs, but this MUST be done in an understanding that there is no duty to do Trad.

Clubs which choose to do something else may still be called Folk Clubs with impunity.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 05:47 PM

"I've built up a repertoire of 40-50 songs, about ten of which I sang in the five years I was a regular at Chorlton FC."

Don't understand this comment Pip. In five years you've only exposed a fifth of the songs you've learned at your regular club? I started out learning songs Hallowe'en before last - and was singing out a few month later. I now do a couple of sessions on and off and I have a similar amount of songs down to you (more like forty than fifty), but I've sung pretty much every one this past year.

Why won't you sing more than ten of your songs? Is it to do with being too self-critical? Or is it something to do with the club?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Tootler
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 07:54 PM

I used to go to folk clubs in the mid 1960's and, after a long absence, I started going to folk clubs again this century and one thing that struck me was that the mix of types of song that are being sung is not really that different even after an absence of nearly 40 years i.e. a mix of traditional songs, newly composed songs based on traditional song and the occasional adapted pop song. There was always a fuzzy edge and a number of songs that were labelled "folk" in record shops were much closer to pop than to folk.

For this reason, I find Jim Carroll's explanation for the decline of the folk clubs in the 1980's not entirely convincing.

I suspect it might have had a lot more to do with people like me who developed other [musical] interests, got married, had children to bring up and careers to develop so did not have the spare time (or money) to go to folk clubs. When I moved to Teesside in the late 1970's I thought about starting to go again, had a look round and found information on the Cutty Wren (Which is still going, btw) but I did not have a car in those days and getting there by public transport though possible was not practical so I put the idea aside at that time. I didn't find Stockton club, but the same problem of getting there - and even more so home afterwards would still have existed.

I still haven't been to the Cutty Wren, though I know some of their regulars. Maybe one day {g}


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Bert
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 01:24 AM

If somebody was to sing Cyril Poacher songs, would that be folk or covers?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 02:45 AM

How do you do a disservice to a song? The only way I can think of is to not sing it. If a club is "anything goes" then that surely includes trad? So sing it with passion and inspire others...

Just my 2c

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 03:21 AM

Tom - this is still somehow assuming that folk clubs have some duty to be about traditional music.

To be more precise, it's assuming that traditional music deserves to be kept alive by somebody, and folk clubs seem like the obvious candidate.

CS - other way round; it went roughly like this.

2002-7: discovered 'folk clubs'. Discovered I could sing a bit. Built up repertoire of around 100 songs, about 10 of which were traditional.

2008-10: discovered a trad singaround with some amazing singers. Decided this was very much for me. Stopped singing most of the 90-odd contemporary or original songs I'd done before and built up my trad repertoire to 50ish. (And counting - I've got Lord Bateman in my sights.)

If a club is "anything goes" then that surely includes trad?

Nobody who goes to a FC knowing they want to sing trad is being discouraged from doing so (except possibly at Sandbach). My point is that people who don't know much about trad songs, but are curious about them, aren't being encouraged to sing them - or even being made aware that they exist. Effectively folk doesn't include trad, or only includes it as a slightly embarrassing distant relation.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Banjiman
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 03:42 AM

"Effectively folk doesn't include trad, or only includes it as a slightly embarrassing distant relation."

With respect Pip I just don't see evidence of this in my neck of the woods or other places we get to around the UK (which includes alot of "performance clubs and festivals).

Most clubs present a good mix of trad and other stuff in my experience.

I can also point to a couple of clubs who have turned my better half down for gigs on the basis that she is not Trad enough (50%+ of her repertoire is trad & her own songs are generally trad styled)..... of course this might just have been a polite way of sayiong they didn't like her!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 03:42 AM

Sandbach doesn't discourage folk at all - you can do what you like there, as long as you do it well, as I know from personal experience. Winston Baldwin, who helps to run it, MCs and plays a mean blues harp, is a great character. He's also very particular about who guests or not - unlike some club MCs - and I've seen one or two performers who were less than competent get a gentle talking to in a quiet corner. There are some very accomplished musical resident musicians and it's a very nice little club.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 03:54 AM

"traditional music deserves to be kept alive by somebody, and folk clubs seem like the obvious candidate"

Agreed. And put like that it's an entirely reasonable suggestion. But it's entirely wrong to blame the organisers, participants or guest artists of non-trad-favouring clubs for the status quo.

Even the (very few) clubs where trad is actively discouraged are blameless in this.

My experience mirrors that of Tootler, and I'm completely certain that the drop in club attendance in the 80s was down to the core audience settling down and having kids, plus 'poaching' by the punk DIY movement (to which I was myself a victim). Folk just went out of fashion. It happens.

As the numbers of attendees dropped, clubs were naturally glad to have new people arriving, and these people brought with them broader cultural ideas of 'folk,' (which of course had been widespread in the club movement from the outset - it certainly was in the ones I visited in the early 70s).

That said, I'll go on record that I think 80% of clubs in the UK are happily mainly trad/trad-informed, and from a heritage repertoire point of view things are reasonably healthy.

The demographic is, however, becoming an issue once more.

If it turns out that the solution is for more clubs to embrace more 'anything goes' music, to bring up the numbers (specially of youngsters), and for trad education to be championed within that context, as well as in schools and the wider media, then I say; so be it. I'm also hopeful that people will find a way to trad through open mics - and there is some evidence that this is happening.

Trad music is, unfortunately, something of an acquired taste. It needs to be done just so for people raised on mainstream pop and rock to 'get' it.

I've been told that some clubs who discourage trad music don't do it because they dislike trad per se, but because they've been over exposed to singers who don't do justice to the genre, and so are actually putting people off. It's a moot point, and one that individual organisers must be free to handle as they see fit.

In term of booked guests, again it's a matter of personal taste/ education. I love unaccompanied song, but I can see why some audiences would find a whole evening of it difficult. Book too much of any style of music that your core audience doesn't like, and you'll soon have no audience, rather than a converted one.

So back to Pip's original point:

Folk clubs are indeed the obvious candidate, but it's not as simple as it sounds, and it's completely counter productive, and unfair, to embark on any kind of blame game.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 04:16 AM

traditional music deserves to be kept alive by somebody, and folk clubs seem like the obvious candidate.

It is one of the great revival conceits that singing traditional songs in folk clubs is somehow keeping them alive, rather than simply serving as a hobbyist recreation for a tiny minority of like-minded cultural Luddites. Whilst being great fun for those who like it, it is wholly irrelevant to the life of traditional song and quite possibly counter productive to its wider appreciation which is, in effect, ruined by the association.

I think much the problem is the legacy of the bourgeois patronisation that defined the principles of Traditional Culture as being essentially collective, communal, anonymous, ill-educated and, therefore, entirely innocent of its own significance, much less that of the songs they made and sang as anonymous members of a rural proletariat passively perpetuating the folklore which was hungrily harvested by members of an guilt-ridden antiquarian obsessed aristocracy fearful of their own impending demise, much less that of the Traditional Culture which was, after all, but the consequence of a millennia of inhumane subjugation, poverty and squalor. We don't think of these songs as being the work of creative individuals, much a less as a springboard to further individual creativity; indeed, when such creativity does occur it is invariably reactive to a perceived purist orthodoxy inherent in the revival itself. Thus creativity is not endemic in the nature of the beast, which is both purist and orthodox - qualities which are anathema to Traditional Song in its natural habitat. The repletion of functionalist shibboleths (such as the 1954 Definition and The Folk Process) are as indicative of its mythic status as the social demographic that has made up the revival over the last 100 years, and continues to do so.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,TB
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 04:18 AM

Bother it's doing that non-posting thing again.

I meant to say

"As the numbers of attendees dropped, clubs were naturally glad to have new people arriving, and these people brought with them broader cultural ideas of 'folk,'"

I should have added for Jim's sake if he's still watching.

It must have seemed to some people that the place was being overrun with 'anything goes,' but we need to stand back and look at the full picture of what was really happening and why, accept it, and move on from there.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 04:22 AM

"Yes, we do need to do a big education job around Trad song - of course we do, but that's as much around schools and the media as about clubs where people have no real interest in or knowledge of Trad."

Your posts making a great deal of sense to me Tom.

And I agree partly with Pip too, that:

"My point is that people who don't know much about trad songs, but are curious about them, aren't being encouraged to sing them - or even being made aware that they exist. Effectively folk doesn't include trad,"

But I differ on the encouragement. At one of the clubs I go to - I'm pretty much the only person there singin an unaccompanied trad-song - and for all my turns. Despite others doing their thing differently, I still get a great deal of support for my choice.

If I needed that local club to help me discover traditional song in the first place, well no. Others do them sometimes, but trad is not a striking presence.

I was frustrated at never knowing this treasury of song existed - I found it on-line after fumbling in the dark for something a bit more err more 'English' than Sean Nos singing (which I'd been considering as an option - having Irish family) which I vaguely suspected must presumably be 'out there'.

It was a case of deduction: 'Well, there are these old Irish songs, so surely there must be something like it from here too?'
Of course if I hadn't been interested in researching my Irish cultural heritage in the first place, I wouldn't have discovered Sean Nos singing... But I guess the reason I started looking into my Irish cultural heritage, was simply because I knew it was there. It has a presence. It's in broad public view - even if only because of Riverdance!

It still beggars belief though, that it took a light-bulb going on for me to make the leap from old Irish songs... to hmmm old English songs? And *that* I think is entirely down to education (ie: absence of) and support (absence of likewise) of English cultural heritage of *the people* as opposed to Lordy's in their vast ruins with nice gardens. I wonder if this could be a consequence of old Empire type thinking drip-dripping down from the top maybe? But while us proles are busy demontrating our love of this "great nation's" heritage and history by trapesing around great houses and eating cream teas next to the the walled garden in our thousands every Sunday, English people don't really know that they have any *folk* heritage, and in my humble, just how much more interesting it is than follys and arboretums.

By way of illustrating my point - I was at an alternative music fest some time back, singing a few E. Trads to myself, and the girl with me said: "Wow, that gives me goosebumps. Those old Irish songs are amazing!" If it's old music, it must be Irish... I think she made a perfectly valid assumption though, based on the evidence.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 04:26 AM

Hi y'all,
First - my apologies to Paul Banjiman - I misunderstood his comment, hence the hissy-fit - the result of trying to do this on the move (which I still am) - sorry (until the next time it happens, at least).
Anyhoo; I'll have a try with this as long as I can.
Tom:
Thank you for your list of 'definitions' - it made my point far better than I ever could. You missed several, by the way. A couple of weeks ago on this forum (of informed folkies) somebody offered 'love songs' as a definition making 'Your Tiny Hand Is Frozen......?"
What you gave us as 'definitions' are 'misconceptions' of what folk is; it's The 'Six Blind Men of Hindustan Who Went To See The Elephant', writ large and underlines perfectly the need for consensus if all of our musics are to survive.
There are loads of questions here hanging unanswered, but I suggest we cut to the chase and deal with those later. Maybe by then Glueman will have provided me with his list of those I have deliberately avoided - but I can only hold my breath for so long nowadays.
The '54 definition, flawed as it might be, pulled together most of the salient points of the music I came into in the early sixties so that we knew roughly what we were getting when we went out to enjoy a night of 'folk song'. No, we didn't go running for our dictionary before we went down to the Pack Horse, or the Union Tavern, or The Fox, or The Empress of Russia - we didn't have to, there was a degree of consensus and we could choose our music on the basis of whether it pleased us aesthetically, rather than we heard what we had been told we were going to. I may have wildly misjudged to what extent that this is no longer the case, but a couple of clips put up on this thread serve to convince me - not too wildly. The cuckoo in the nest has not only, to a large degree, thrown out many of the other birds, but is now demanding that those remaining change their names to something else altogether. There has been no re-definition as far as I can see, by those involved or by the public at large, just a (deliberate?) blurring of the existing one to provide a convenient peg to hang a too diffuse a selection of music - try to please all of the people all of the time and you end up pleasing no one.
Personally I feel my understanding of 'folk' is flexible enough to provide me with a guide to what I want to listen to (as an evening of 'folk')
"If clubs don't actually use the F word, does Jim mind what they put on?"
No - of course I bloody don't; why on earth should I? When I lived in Manchester I was a regular at Terry Whelan's Wayfarers, residented at a couple of Harry Boardman's clubs, and visited several others that supplied my folk 'habit'. On Thursday nights I often went to a pub along the Stretford Road where the landlord put up a few quid as a prize and I listened to the locals singing or reciting their own stuff, or the blasts from the past or present, or whatever took their fancy, just like a number of folk clubs I have visited recently - only they didn't call themselves that - good days.
The term 'folk' has a significance way beyond what goes on in clubs; it indicates its origins, its social, historical and artistic standing - it is essential to any understanding of our music - it is what we were and are. It provides, I believe, the key to our being more widely accepted, to our gaining air time, funding for our projects, and some chance that following generations will have the great advantage we were given of enjoying and becoming part of our heritage. This I KNOW from present experience here in Ireland, where the fortunes of the music have been changed radically and dramatically.
To answer the op's original question "Is traditional song finished?" - I believe it is unless something is done to change the present situation.      
Tom again;
"Please don't bring the quality issue in here. It's highly subjective and is completely separate to the debate over material"
I wasn't aware I had brought it in; on the contrary; I don't believe that we can alter definitions on the basis of our personal tastes or conveniences; dictionaries don't work like that.
If I have (please point it out) I apologise.
Must go - but a final thought.
You mentioned 'public domain' in your list of 'definitions'; am I to take it that you are happy to relinquish all claims to your own compositions?
Best to all,
Jim Carroll
E&OE


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 04:29 AM

people who don't know much about trad songs, but are curious about them, aren't being encouraged to sing them - or even being made aware that they exist

That's not been my (admittedly limited) experience either and if I thought that represented the majority of folk clubs I'd find it very sad also.

Interestingly, my most memorable early exposure to trad song was in a pop/rock/blues/jazz session, where it could be argued that trad songs were not encouraged (and indeed may have been regarded as embarrassing). But a new participant joined in one day and did an extremely rousing and passionate rendition of South Australia which was extremely well received and changed a few minds I think (mine included). Hence my comments about getting out there and singing passionately! I'm encouraging you to sing them!

(and thanks Steve if you are reading!)

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 04:37 AM

"I've been told that some clubs who discourage trad music don't do it because they dislike trad per se, but because they've been over exposed to singers who don't do justice to the genre, and so are actually putting people off."

I can believe that. Although I prefer old songs to new ones, there's nothing special about the tradition that makes the material come alive when handled poorly. A badly performed old folk song is just so much re-enactment diddly-dee. It takes an extraordinary voice or a compelling personality to make those songs speak to us in an immediate way.

I'm also surprised people believed round hole acoustic (credit to whoever coined that one) to be the entirety of folk music and were completely oblivious to old songs. What planet were you on? And why do you believe a bad old song is better than a good new one? Always bring your wallet and and an open mind to any session.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 04:47 AM

It is one of the great revival conceits that singing traditional songs in folk clubs is somehow keeping them alive

Keeping them in circulation, if you'd rather. Keeping them going out in public and being inflicted on people who haven't actually sought them out. Also, keeping them being made and remade (my Lord Allenwater isn't Shirley Collins's). It's not much of a 'life', but it's something - a present-tense addition to the stock of records and songbooks.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Banjiman
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 04:49 AM

Jim, good to see you back!

I disagree with virtually all you say (except the importance of Trad songs) but this thread would be far less fun without you!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 05:43 AM

And here we have the nub or the problem:

"What you gave us as 'definitions' are 'misconceptions' of what folk is"

No no no no no no NO!!

They are genuine, democratically-derived definitions, and they have as much validity as yours.

You do not own the word, Jim, not do the people who wrote those books you're so keen on.

There IS no one correct conception of any word (except those defined in law). Language means what those who use it understand it to mean - doctionaries merely record the changes, and academics define things, then choose a word to label the definition.

Folk is not defined in law, and has merely been appropriated (and then abandoned) by some academics as a label for something they wanted to describe.

Therefore you cannot call any popular definition of it a misconception. You may say it is to YOU, but NOT that it is universally or intrinsically so.

My list is of genuine, (if often incompatible) definitions. And they are genuine because significant communities believe them to be so. Yours may be the most common (though I dispute that), the best defined and the most resonant - but no-one else has to accept it. To demand that they do is unreasonable and unfair.


"You mentioned 'public domain' in your list of 'definitions'; am I to take it that you are happy to relinquish all claims to your own compositions? "

That is THE most bonkers misconstruction I've yet seen you make Jim. I gave a list of songs that some people call folk. Some are copyright some are not. It matters in some of the definitions and not in others.

Tom


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,TB
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 05:44 AM

serves me right for trying to do bold :-(
    Fixed it. -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 06:09 AM

Nobody 'owns' the word Tom,not me, not you, not the handful of club organisers that would wish it away.
A definition exists, it is established, extremely well documented (probably more so than any other musical genre) and accessible to all who would wish to seek it out.
Thirty odd years of fairly intensive field research has proved to me, beyond any doubt that it works when put to the test. The results of that work are freely accessible to anybody who suspect I might be telling porkies.
Democracy does not lie in the hands of those with vested interests who would mould it to their own purposes.
Definitions don't get voted out of existence, they evolve, out of changing circumstances, out of constant misuse, by additional information - but certainly not at the behest of a handful.
If any of your provided definitions hold water as such, point to me the dictionaries were I can find them listed, because when push comes to shove, it is there that we go for the consensus that enables us to continue communicating with each other over great distances and periods of time.
Jim Carroll
PS If your songs are folk songs they are copyright by law as I understand it - if they are not why?
Nor did you answer my Lady ith the cello question


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 06:39 AM

Sorry meant public domain by law of course
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 06:45 AM

Pip Radish

My point is that people who don't know much about trad songs, but are curious about them, aren't being encouraged to sing them - or even being made aware that they exist. Effectively folk doesn't include trad, or only includes it as a slightly embarrassing distant relation.

Not what I experience here in Sussex. Not in Banjiman's neck of the woods. Not what Brian Peters experienced in London -

Three clubs last week, all London area, all allowing floor singers / residents one or two songs each. What did they perform? Overwhelmingly traditional English song, about 50% unaccompanied, 50% with guitar. Several intros naming source singers: Phil Tanner, Walter Pardon, Cyril Poacher. A couple of Child ballads, introduced as such. A well-played Appalachian song with banjo. Some Swedish fiddle tunes (no prizes: Tom Paley). Ron Angel's 'Chemical Workers' Song', sung well, unaccompanied. Some music hall. A couple of shanties. Nothing, that I can recall, that was written by the singer. Standards of performance generally good to high.

Admittedly that represents a more traditional bias than I sometimes hear at folk clubs in other areas (and ignoring for the moment what happens on festival stages), but my impression is actually that there is more traditional material sung in folk clubs these days (perhaps thanks to some well-promoted professionals providing role models?) than there was fifteen years ago.


You said earlier "Build it trad and the traddies will come." Indeed, but someone has to do that building. There's no use sitting and complaining that THEY arren't supporting traditional music. Folk club organisers aren't some sort of separate species; that are just people with a love of music who are willing to put in the time and effort to support the sort of music they like. They are under no obligation to support anything else. To build a traditional music club, you need traditional music enthusiasts.

Tootler

For this reason, I find Jim Carroll's explanation for the decline of the folk clubs in the 1980's not entirely convincing.

I agree. I never quite dared to take Jim up on this because we had more than enough disagreements for two people as it was. I was going to folk clubs throughout that period. I didn't see any change in the character of the clubs I knew, audiences simply drifted away. It would be a whole new thread or possibly a doctoral thesis to understand the reasons why.

Tom Bliss

If it turns out that the solution is for more clubs to embrace more 'anything goes' music, to bring up the numbers (specially of youngsters), and for trad education to be championed within that context, as well as in schools and the wider media, then I say; so be it.

I'm not so sure. More clubs certainly but I'm inclined to think more diversity. More clubs of different sorts. Lewes famously has two folk clubs in a small town. I think one of our advantages may be good communications; we are on a railway junction and the crossroads of east-west and north-south trunk roads. Both clubs, though different in style, are essentially trad/trad-informed so, in principle, there is no reason for there not to be a contemporary/songwriters club in the same town, possibly in one of the same venues.
Folk club organisers do it for the love of the music. I, for one, am not going to spend my time promoting music I'm not interested in.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 06:53 AM

"Nobody 'owns' the word Tom,not me, not you, not the handful of club organisers that would wish it away."

Err, actually no club organisers that I know want to wish it away. They just use it differently.

Communities own words, Jim. We all own our own language, and our language is defined by its use within the communities we inhabit.

Me, you, club organisers, lexicographers and folklore musicologists use some words differently. We are all correct within our own communities.

"A definition exists, it is established, extremely well documented (probably more so than any other musical genre) and accessible to all who would wish to seek it out."

Yes, it does, and the definition is sound.

It uses/used the word Folk as a LABEL, then it changed the label to Traditional. But it didn't change the definition, and the definition remains undamaged and undiluted.

But words can be used as a label for many things - and this one is.

"Democracy does not lie in the hands of those with vested interests who would mould it to their own purposes."

That's what I'm trying to tell you Jim. It works the other way round. There are no vested interests here. Just people democratically (in ignorance/innocence) evolving the meaning of a word.

"Definitions don't get voted out of existence, they evolve, out of changing circumstances, out of constant misuse, by additional information - but certainly not at the behest of a handful."

If it was a just handful, I'd be with you, but it's not - it's the entire English speaking population.

"If any of your provided definitions hold water as such, point to me the dictionaries were I can find them listed, because when push comes to shove, it is there that we go for the consensus that enables us to continue communicating with each other over great distances and periods of time."

Yes we do, but dictionaries are retrospective, and you need a good one to pick up all the nuances in the evolutionary flow. They'll get there in time. And even if they don't the words will still mean what people want them to mean. The can only be compared with Humpty Dumpty if the person they are talking to can't understand them.

"PS If your songs are folk songs they are copyright by law as I understand it - if they are not why?"

My songs are folk songs because a significant community calls them so. Not because I do. Yes they are copyright. That community calls some copyright songs 'folk songs.' There is no conflict. Nobody calls them 'anon' trad' or 'public domain' and those who believe only trad songs can be folk don't call them 'folk' either. But enough people do for it to be true and legit.

"Nor did you answer my Lady ith the cello question" Sure did.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 07:00 AM

"Democracy does not lie in the hands of those with vested interests who would mould it to their own purposes."
yes it does,the IMF
furthermore democracy does NOT exist on this forum,neither does freedom of speech .


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 07:23 AM

Sorry got this wrong:

"Definitions don't get voted out of existence, they evolve, out of changing circumstances, out of constant misuse, by additional information - but certainly not at the behest of a handful."

If it was a just handful, I'd be with you, but it's not - it's the entire English speaking population.

_______________________

The definition as NOT been voted out of existence. The definition still exists because it's written down - it can't be voted out of existence, though it can be changed, challenged, ignored, forgotten - or championed. Non of this makes it a legal definition.

All that's happened is that the word chosen to describe the definition has ALSO been applied by some other people to some OTHER things.

If that had only be done by a handful of people, you'd be right to ignore it.

But it has been done by the entire English speaking population (ok a significant portion of).

Therefore you are wrong to deny it. Champion your use of the word by all means, but respect the right of others to have their own different use of it.


That's better


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 07:50 AM

Lets have another go at this as well:

"PS If your songs are folk songs they are public domain by law as I understand it - if they are not why?"

This perfectly illustrates the bassackwards way you are viewing this.

My songs are folk songs because a sufficient number of people call them so.

(I NEVER do - but i allow others to if they want to because they may. I do call myself a folk musician, because i do play both folk and traditional music).

Folk has NO meaning in law. It does NOT mean 'public domain.' It is never used by PRS or any other copyright licensing body.

Traditional DOES have meaning in law. It DOES mean 'public domain.' It IS used by PRS and all other copyright licensing bodies.

Therefore. If I labelled my songs as Traditional I WOULD be telling the world they were in the public domain.

But I don't. Ever.

I let other people call them Folk because they want to, and this has absolutely no impact on their copyright status.

Understand that and the rest might finally fall into place.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 08:01 AM

There's no use sitting and complaining that THEY arren't supporting traditional music.

I never understand this objection. Sitting and complaining (well, discussing!) is all that any of us are doing here* - you seem to be saying that sitting around complaining about folk clubs is dreadful, but sitting around complaining about people who sit around complaining about folk clubs is just fine.

*Note the word 'here'. I'm not suggesting that's all that any of us is doing anywhere!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 08:10 AM

The word 'nice' - pleasing; agreeable; delightful: amiably pleasant; kind.

Original meaning - coy, shy, reluctant, unimportant; trivial, wanton, sinister.

More original meanings:
brave - cowardice
buxom - obedient
girl - young person of either sex
cute - bow legged
sophisticated - corrupted
silly - blessed or happy

Anyone fancy going into a town centre boozer full of teenagers on a Saturday night and reassuring some lad that he's 'a silly girl'?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 08:42 AM

""If it turns out that the solution is for more clubs to embrace more 'anything goes' music, to bring up the numbers (specially of youngsters), and for trad education to be championed within that context, as well as in schools and the wider media, then I say; so be it.""

From my own experience Tom, I would say the opposite is the case. I'm finding that the proportion of an evening that is "Non Folk" is actually contracting slightly, and I have also noticed that youngsters are becoming interested in the "traditional", or "traditional style" music, then going off to reruit all their friends.

That is exactly how "Wheeler Street" came into being.

The Greyhound, Wheeler St, Sessions in Maidstone (sadly gone now, but they attend the new sessions at the Swan when they are not gigging) sparked their love of the music, and gave them the name.

Everywhere they perform, they make new friends, and pay us old'uns back with interest for our input.

I made that comment just a short time ago to the mother of the core members, and she paid us the greatest compliment.

When I said how much I admire the kids, and their attitude to folk music, she replied "You really don't get it, do you? They took on the music, because they so admired Simon, Richard, and you, and all the others who welcomed them in and showed them what folk sessions were about.

If I live to be a hundred, I'll not hear anything more pleasing than that.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 08:50 AM

It still beggars belief though, that it took a light-bulb going on for me to make the leap from old Irish songs... to hmmm old English songs?

Doesn't beggar belief at all. The English folk revival of the 50s started out with people doing American songs and then realizing they had their own. Lonnie Donegan was a far more historically important figure than Ewan MacColl in energizing the process.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 08:55 AM

That's great news Don, and you're not alone in that. There is plenty of good news if you go looking.

But I'm sure you'd agree that if the anything-goes ethos has not been there in the first place it would not have been able to contract.

I'm obviously hugely in favour of the promotion of traditional music, specially English because I'm an Englishman (and even more specially Aurignais!) but I'm not loosing sight of another priority - live music, real communities enjoying music, people developing as players, singers and performers - all this is as important to me as the promotion of Trad.

In the folk world we get to promote both - which is why I'm all for plurality.

But above all, I'm for understanding the other guy's rights.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 09:44 AM

I have a huge amount of respect for Jim Carroll's knowledge and his generosity in sharing it - he's one of the few people here whose posts on traditional singing I've taken the trouble to paste and save for future reference, on several occassions. However, on this point I'm on the other side.

I think the first time I ever heard the word 'folk' used in a musical context was when I heard Peter, Paul and Mary's crucifixion of 'Blowing In The Wind' on the radio. 'Folk Music' as far as the media and the public of the 1960s were concerned, was Bob Dylan, or even the recently-departed spiritual singer Cy Grant, on the TV. When I first started going to folk clubs (mid-70s onwards) singers doing Tom Paxton covers with acoustic guitars (and sometimes peaked caps) usually outnumbered 'traddies'. I soon learned which were the clubs that favoured the kind of music I wanted to hear, and voted with my feet.

Any linguist or dictionary compiler will tell you that language evolves through popular usage (several good examples already posted here), and the term 'folk music' has been so compromised that - although I still use it casually - any attempt to use it in serious discussion is likely to require heavy qualification of the word, if it's not to be meaningless. That process of compromise was not the responsibility of folk club organisers, but of the American commercial interests for whom the term represented a marketing tool, before the 'Folk Revival' in the UK ever took off. Tom B is doing no more than state the obvious in pointing out that, for the bulk of the populace, it no longer carries its original meaning - like it or not.

To amplify what I said before about what is actually performed in folk clubs and other venues today, I would point to the younger end of the professional folk music world: nearly all of the most successful young singers perform a substantial amount of traditional song; some of them write new stuff inspired by it. Those young pros are acting as role models to many more, and at least some of those (though not enough) are finding their way into the kind of folk clubs where traditional song gets a sympathetic hearing.

Lastly, Jim, there's no logic in accepting post-traditional songs into the canon only if they're, say, fifty years old. If MacColl's compositions are acceptable, why not Cyril Tawney's (maybe you do accept those), or Jez Lowe's, or Keith Marsden's, or Alistair Hulett's, or Alasdair Roberts', or Tom Bliss'? (Names chosen off the top of my head, representing songwriters using British traditional models for their own work). A couple of weeks ago I passed through several folk clubs presenting a large majority of traditional song. All of those clubs have got to that point by example, inspiration, selection and perhaps a bit of subtle nudging - not by the kind of 'banned music' list that I know exists at some bluegrass venues, for instance.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 10:19 AM

Hi Brian - sorry I missed you at the Topic. Stuff happened.

I don't think my songs will ever be Folk by Jim's definition. They'll never achieve the currency required for the 54 or Jim's slightly looser interpretation. I might expect MacColl, Tawney and Marsden in there, and I'd even propose George's Empty Handed as getting close - because I think to Jim and others of his ilk it's more down to usage and adaptation than age.

I've been regretting writing this:

"My songs are folk songs because a sufficient number of people call them so."

Without also saying this:

People who call my songs Folk are not saying they fit the 54 definition or its variants. They are just saying it fits some idea of Folk that they and their friends understand.

The definition 54 stands. The title of the definition still applies to that definition, but it also applies to some other things too.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 10:44 AM

Tom, I think we're probably agreed that songs don't enter the tradition by the choice of their makers, but by widespread popular adoption (in a world of home-made entertainment that I argue doesn't exist in the same form any more). But what lies behind a lot of people's judgement (possibly including Jim's) of what is 'folk' and what isn't, is what it sounds like. This involves content rather than provenance: melody, text, style. Cyril Tawney's songs, although dealing with contemporary topics, sound at least a bit like Sharp-defined trad folk by virtue of their tunes and the way Cyril sang them. And of course he was a wonderful singer of trad songs, as well as his own.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,TB
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 10:49 AM

Yes. I should add

T: Songs that sound like traditional songs.

U: Songs that have a similar construction to traditional songs

V: Songs on similar topics to traditional songs (work or lifestyle -specially if Olden Days)

W: Songs about The Olden Days

X: Songs about Nice Places, specially if they've got cliffs in.

Y: Songs about the Sea

Heck - I'm out of alphabet!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,TB
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 10:53 AM

Bother, pressed return instead of tab

Z: Most important of all: Songs Sung By People Who Also Sing Some Traditional Songs! (Hence how Dylan did wot he did)


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 11:24 AM

I thought with all the grumblies we see about 'anything goes' folk clubs and singarounds, it might be worth flagging up Suegorgeous' shiny new thread by way of contrast and by way of example to anyone frustrated by what they find out there in folk club land:

Bristol based 'Explore Unaccompanied Traditional Songs' group

Problem is IMO, as has been said, anyone under fifty who might potentially have their interest piqued by the idea of learning to sing traditional songs for their own entertainment, simply isn't likely relate that to the "folk" word. Yung-traddy bands might start to alter public perceptions about the F-word, but even they won't necessarily be likely to get people thinking - "Hey, I think I'll go learn an unaccompanied ballad!"

On the other hand, amateurs love to dabble in all kinds of creative stuff - be it throwing pots, loom weaving or calligraphy and lots of peeps find native history and culture interesting - be it steam trains, Victorian sanitation or Anglo-Saxon burials, and lots of folk like to have a warble - in choirs, in the shower or Karaoke!

Put all that together and there could be SHED-LOADS of possible interest out there among peeps at large in dabbling in these old songs. But IMO all this quibbling over the F-word is simply a red herring, and frankly I think it needs to be ditched pronto.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 11:47 AM

Tom"
We own a common language, that is the basis of our contact with one another. We have no right as individuals or as a group to alter that language and those who do get books written about them - have you read 1984?
"It uses/used the word Folk as a LABEL"
No Tom, the definition is a summary of the component parts, not a random sample of society at large's opinion.
"There are no vested interests here."
Tell that to someone who is likely to believe it Tom.
""Definitions don't get voted out of existence"
Bugger - did I miss that referendum?
Isn't this fun?
More later
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 12:30 PM

"We have no right as individuals or as a group to alter that language"

Actually we can and do.

Poets and writers alter language by creative abuse with people notice and copy. Slang that starts as a joke is gradually assimilated. But mostly it is not deliberately altered. It happens as a natural, democratic evolution over time. This is why you are so terribly, terribly wrong to blame people. They are not doing it on purpose. They are just going with a flow which has eddied and tumbled beautifully down the ages. Why else is your prose different to William Shakespeare's?

So yes: "the definition is a summary of the component parts, not a random sample of society at large's opinion." Exactly so.

But the word used to label that summary of component parts ("Folk") now ALSO has OTHER meanings, which do NOT seek to label that summary of component pats, but to label OTHER things. And that is what it does.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 12:52 PM

We have no right as individuals or as a group to alter that language and those who do get books written about them - have you read 1984?

There is a world of difference between language getting altered by committee or by state dictat and language changes evolving as a result of changes in popular understanding and use of a word or phrase.

The change in the meaning of the word "folk" is a case in point. Ask most people in the UK what they mean by folk and they'll probably come out with some variation on "quiet stuff done on acoustic guitars". They'll probably also link it with singer songwriters and may give examples like "The Times They Are a Changing" or "Streets of London" or "Annie's Song". They'll also probably make a few jokey references to fingers-in-the-ear and hey-nonny-no. They may even come up with something about Irish music.

What they won't have is an understanding to 1954 definition folk (hell, most people in folk clubs don't) or any variant thereof. They won't know about the folk process or the difference between traditional songs and anything else that floats out under the folk banner. and why should they. Counting angels on the head of a pin is seriuosly specialist stuff.

That's because popular use of the word folk is far less specialist than folk music listeners' use of the word folk, which is far less specialist than folk club regulars' use of the word folk, which is far less specialist than '54ers' use of the word folk.

Despite, with some justification, seeing themselves as the guardians of the "true" meaning of the word, the '54ers don't own or control the use of the word any more than anyone else. To presume otherwise is to live with the same confusion as the man who thought he was going for a dance at a "carefree and happy" nightclub.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 01:12 PM

Nice one.

I've used this with Jim before to no avail, but I'm really really hoping for a breakthrough this time, because I desperately need some light relief from this film I'm making about Armageddon.

Jim.

Once up on a time the word 'mouse' only described a small furry creature.

Then, by association, it began to describe a colour - specially of hair.

Saying someone had 'mousy' hair did not mean you thought they literally were a small rodent. And it began to describe a character too.

Then many, many years later someone was looking for a word to describe a new computer pointing device they had invented. It looked a bit like a mouse, so they co-opted the word. They changed the language - deliberately - but they were not fascists or tyrants. They chose a word, (probably as a joke initially) which had one meaning and applied it to another meaning, and it caught on. If it hadn't caught on, it would not have changed the language, but it did. (Advertising may have had something to do with that, but then it often does).

Now most of us use the word mouse to refer to that thing in your hand now far more often than we do to refer to a small rodent.

When we say 'plug in the mouse' we don't mean bodge a small furry animal into the USB port (or not usually, anyway).

By EXACTLY the same token, someone who calls Annie's Song a Folk Song is not saying it conforms to the 54 definition. They are just using - borrowing, if you must - a word that used to mean only one thing for a second purpose.

Jim . Do you follow this one?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 01:56 PM

the problem is that as regards melodies, tradtional songs of the British islands[andIreland] are limited to several different modes[and this defines style],so inevitably tunes will be recycled,so the music is limited , lyrics are a different matter


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 02:12 PM

This has all gone a bit flat earth. You can show people satellite pictures of the planet, you can provide diagrams of how the earth orbits the sun but if they're convinced you'll fall off into a place where anything goes if you travel too far, there's very little one can do to persuade them. After all, where was the committe that said Copernicus's heliocentric cosmology was correct?

Here be dragons. And round hole.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 03:08 PM

Pip Radish

"There's no use sitting and complaining that THEY arren't supporting traditional music." [TheSnail]

I never understand this objection. Sitting and complaining (well, discussing!) is all that any of us are doing here*


Speak for yourself. I'm here to engage with like minded people who share my interest in folk music in the hope that we can all benefit from an exchange of ideas.

- you seem to be saying that sitting around complaining about folk clubs is dreadful,

Well, "dreadful" is putting it a bit strong, just a bit pointless and rather irritating.

but sitting around complaining about people who sit around complaining about folk clubs is just fine.

As someone involved in running a folk club, I think I'm entitled to grumble about non-constructive criticism.

Would you like to comment on the rest of the post that you lifted that line from?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 03:32 PM

To be more precise.
If I said. "I hope you have a gay old time when you go out tonight"
What meaning would you percieve from that statement?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 03:43 PM

Still unable to spare the time and respond to all the points made, so - quickly again on what I believe to be a major stumbling block- sorry.
Tom:
I asked you was the lady with the cello 'folk' - you replied that there is nothing to stop Dvorak 'becoming' folk - you didn't venture to suggest it had.
One of your definitions of folk (your first one) was 'anything that is performed in a folk club' - therefore Dvorak is now folk - or if it isn't you are overriding the wishes of the nameless and faceless 55 million (was that the figure?).
Can we please either substantiate or drop this silent majority nonsense.
Neither you nor I have the faintest idea what the majority, minority, anybody outside of our own immediate experience, believes 'folk' to be and it is extremely dishonest to claim we do. Some few people I have asked have come up with what they experienced in the folk boom, or what they were given in school - via the Sharp influence; others have expressed a total ignorance, and usually disinterest in the term.
Do we even start to base what we do and understand on that?
I know nothing whatever of quantum physics; should I desire or need to know I will consult a dictionary. If I need to know more I try to find someone who does know and ask them. Failing that I obtain a book which will explain in layman's terms.
The last thing I would do was stand in the street with a clipboard and ask every passer-by.
Even if we were to accept your list of 'definitions' that would only underline my point.
"Anything passed orally through a family"
My father did a hilarious rendition of 'I Dreamed I Dwelt in Marble Halls' which I could make a fair stab at given the opportunity. My mother could turn out a fair imitation of Bing Crosby's 'When The Blue of the Night', I don't do a bad job of it myself. I'm sure many reading this could come up with similar. Folk my arseum!!!!
'Anything performed with a guitar or similar instrument'
Now I've always thought Les paul and Stephan Grapelli Jazz, silly me.
Songs with big choruses that suit pub singing etc.
Viva Espana???
............................
Is this really what Bryan and Brian P and Sally and all the people I have a had a degree of respect for up to now see as folk music - oh dear - whatever happened to my judgment?
Your suggestion that these are "valid, correct and reasonable uses of the word." is utter and complete nonsense and totally rubbishes communication - though it does relieve you of the moral responsibility you appear to have discarded both toward any audience, present or potential, seeking folk music, and to the music itself and the people who gave it to us.
Tell me again Bryan that our music is in safe hands, or is this what I can expect to find at Lewes?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 03:46 PM

If I said. "I hope you have a gay old time when you go out tonight" What meaning would you percieve from that statement?

Definitely something to do with having a yabba-dadda-doo time with a prehistoric modern stone-age reinvention of The Honeymooners. A page right out of history indeed!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: TheSnail
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 06:32 PM

Jim Carroll

Tell me again Bryan that our music is in safe hands, or is this what I can expect to find at Lewes?

Sincee you ask, what you can expect to find at Lewes Saturday Folk Club is spelled out clearly here - Lewes Saturday Folk Club. On the whole, we "do what it says on the tin" although, with our policy of giving a floorspot to anyone who wants one, we get some interesting surprises. A few weeks ago, we had one young woman who gave us a bit of Italian light opera (I didn't catch the details but I gather she was a student studying at Glyndebourne.) and another who gave us a song which I think she said was from the singing of Norah Jones. Both were superb singers and both were friends of the booked guest. It would have been a bit embarrasing and counter-productive to drag them off stage as soon as I realised they weren't singing material within our remit. I don't think the future of folk music was damaged by the experience.

Back to the subject, I think Tom is confusing definition with usage. As I have pointed out, the term "folk music" has been used since at least the nineteen forties to describe music that does not fit the 1954 definition by people who have never heard of the 1954 definition. They simply used the words that other people were using to describe a concept. That's how language works.

Do I think "our" music will survive? Who knows, but if it does, it will survive on its merits as music, not on the strength of the label you put on it, nor will it be damaged by someone calling Annie's song a folk tune.




Who is Sally?


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 06:35 PM

So next to Walter Pardon's, Tom Lenihan's, Martin Reidy's, Mary Delaney's, Bill Cassidy's, Mikeen McCarthy's songs.... and all those given to us by other such wonderful people, all of whom were so generous with their time, knowledge and experience we have to include:
D: New songs that have become associated with some traditional activity such as football.
E: New songs that have become very popular and are starting to be adapted in small ways.
F: New songs that are not traditional but which people think are traditional in ignorance.
G: Songs which have been passed orally through a family or other community.
H: Anything sung in a folk club
I: Anything performed by artists who play at folk clubs and festivals.
J: Anything broadcast on a radio station that has a folk handle.
K: Protest songs
L: Songs played on acoustic or otherwise 'folky' instruments.
M: Songs performed with a solo guitar or similar instrument.
N: Songs with a certain brittle style.
O: Songs with big choruses that suit pub singing etc.
P: Story songs.
R: All public domain songs
S: Anything more than X years old (x varies from person to person).
T: Songs that sound like traditional songs.
U: Songs that have a similar construction to traditional songs
V: Songs on similar topics to traditional songs (work or lifestyle -specially if Olden Days)
W: Songs about The Olden Days
X: Songs about Nice Places, specially if they've got cliffs in.

Sorry - can't do it; they would have hated the idea as much as I do, especially Walter.
For all the mealy mouthed insistence on the part of 'good club organisers' that we owe it to these people to make their material available - I think my instincts were right in the first place and they should remain on the shelf to see if posterity can make a better job of it.
You asked for evidence of the state of the revival Bryan - there you have it - enjoy.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Tootler
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 07:00 PM

I asked you was the lady with the cello 'folk' - you replied that there is nothing to stop Dvorak 'becoming' folk - you didn't venture to suggest it had.
One of your definitions of folk (your first one) was 'anything that is performed in a folk club' - therefore Dvorak is now folk


There are precedents. Around 200 years ago a village shoemaker wrote down a tune he had heard in his manuscript book which he labeled "Waltz". Subsequently someone discovered this book and started playing the Waltz and it became popular in the folk music world. It subsequently transpired that the tune was the top line from the trio of German Dance no. 6 by one W A Mozart. The tune - Michael Turner's waltz, a popular session tune which has become absorbed by the folk music world. A number of themes from classical composers have been adopted in the popular music world so it is perfectly possible for music by Dvorak to be adopted by folk musicians and to become assimilated. There is someone in a folk club I go to who does an arrangement of the theme from the slow movement of the New World Symphony and he does a good job of it. I think maybe the advert for a certain brand of bread may have had some influence.

I must now hang my head in shame and confess that I have played some Mozart on my flute in a folk club. Dear Dear!


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: the Folk Police
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 07:01 PM

Jim, I think you worry too much. Regardless of popular conceptions of what folk is, the evidence presented time and time again is that people are singing traditional songs and enjoying doing so. It might be that they sing at a mainly trad night (such as the Beech in Chorlton) or it might be that a couple of trad songs are slipped in at a largely non-trad night (such as Chorlton Folk Club). The point is they are being sung. And not only that, but also young singers of traditional song are headlining folk festivals and playing gigs at arts centres, village halls, rock venues and - gasp - even folk clubs, up and down the country. Different hands to the ones you're used to, for sure. Safe hands? Absolutely.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Tootler
Date: 10 Mar 10 - 07:38 PM

So next to Walter Pardon's, Tom Lenihan's, Martin Reidy's, Mary Delaney's, Bill Cassidy's, Mikeen McCarthy's songs.... and all those given to us by other such wonderful people, all of whom were so generous with their time, knowledge and experience we have to include:
D: New songs that have...
etc., etc., etc.,

Does it really matter if all of D - X above are sung alongside traditional songs as long as the traditional songs are being sung, which they are.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 11 Mar 10 - 03:15 AM

What matters (I think) is that in a lot of venues they're not being sung very much. At a couple of our local clubs, a preference for singing English traditional song is treated a bit like a preference for singing Donovan - it's a bit perverse, but if you can do it well, good luck to you (and there'll be someone else on in a minute anyway).


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: glueman
Date: 11 Mar 10 - 03:28 AM

"Does it really matter if all of D - X above are sung alongside traditional songs as long as the traditional songs are being sung..."

Our three year old sings shanties, twinkle little star and whatever rock music his elder brother teaches him untroubled by the juxtaposition.
One of my mother's last unsuccessful attempts to keep me within the bosom of mother church was by tempting me with something called a 'folk mass'. I often wondered if it was the kind of thing Jim would approve of, everyone attending in a suitably solemn mood, with a restricted and solemn canon and leaving with the sense they've done the right thing to acieve their place at the right hand of Walter Pardon.

I fear it was roundhole with guilt, out of tune singing and hair that had never seen a hint of conditioner.


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Subject: RE: Is traditional song finished?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Mar 10 - 03:44 AM

"Does it really matter if all of D - X above are sung alongside traditional songs as long as the traditional songs are being sung,"
Yes it does - it robs it of its uniqueness, especially as there are those, here and elsewhere, who, for one reason or another, would argue that the tradition is no more than a collector's/researcher's wet-dream.
I played with interest a clip put up by somebody here of a selection of what goes on in their club. I was knocked out by one of the examples, but found that, by the end of my listening them all, I needed to replay it as it had merged into the 'imo' mundaneness of some of the others - a luxury you are not offered in a folk club.
Whether we like it or not, no matter how wide their tastes, everybody compartmentalises their music - try singing a traditional ballad, or performing a piece of chamber music at a pop venue (which, it appears to me, many folk clubs have metamorphosed into) - and then get