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What defines a traditional song?

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Jim Carroll 17 Mar 10 - 10:23 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Mar 10 - 10:04 PM
Richard Bridge 17 Mar 10 - 07:45 PM
EBarnacle 17 Mar 10 - 06:41 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Mar 10 - 05:57 PM
glueman 17 Mar 10 - 02:33 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Mar 10 - 02:13 PM
glueman 17 Mar 10 - 01:03 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Mar 10 - 12:49 PM
glueman 17 Mar 10 - 12:26 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Mar 10 - 12:10 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Mar 10 - 10:41 AM
glueman 17 Mar 10 - 09:29 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 17 Mar 10 - 09:23 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Mar 10 - 09:22 AM
glueman 17 Mar 10 - 09:03 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Mar 10 - 08:39 AM
glueman 17 Mar 10 - 08:00 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 17 Mar 10 - 07:28 AM
Brian Peters 17 Mar 10 - 07:24 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Mar 10 - 07:11 AM
glueman 17 Mar 10 - 06:25 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Mar 10 - 06:15 AM
Howard Jones 17 Mar 10 - 05:51 AM
glueman 17 Mar 10 - 05:16 AM
GUEST,Ralphie 17 Mar 10 - 05:05 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Mar 10 - 04:45 AM
glueman 17 Mar 10 - 04:06 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Mar 10 - 08:14 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Mar 10 - 07:05 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 16 Mar 10 - 06:53 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 16 Mar 10 - 06:42 PM
Jim Carroll 16 Mar 10 - 05:46 PM
glueman 16 Mar 10 - 05:15 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Mar 10 - 04:41 PM
glueman 16 Mar 10 - 03:59 PM
Stringsinger 16 Mar 10 - 03:18 PM
Goose Gander 16 Mar 10 - 03:12 PM
Howard Jones 16 Mar 10 - 02:38 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Mar 10 - 02:09 PM
The Sandman 16 Mar 10 - 01:38 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Mar 10 - 12:22 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 16 Mar 10 - 07:38 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Mar 10 - 04:56 AM
glueman 16 Mar 10 - 04:35 AM
Steve Gardham 15 Mar 10 - 08:54 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Mar 10 - 08:15 PM
Bill D 15 Mar 10 - 08:06 PM
Bert 15 Mar 10 - 08:05 PM
Bill D 15 Mar 10 - 08:05 PM
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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 10:23 PM

For the sake of balance, I should have included Glueman's postings to me.
Jim Carroll

1.   That's for me to know and you to wonder about.
2.   a) I didn't call folkies anything of the sort, I quoted someone else and made that abundantly clear at the time along with his reasons.
b) I find it very creepy that you maintain your disturbing and bullying behaviour via PMs. Please desist. Put your behaviour in public forum for all to judge rather than hiding menacingly in the shadows.
________________________________________
3.   Can I make a request as the last thread has been closed, you can keep this as public or as private as your like. As we seem unable to agree on anything whatsoever how about I don't respond directly to anything you've written and you don't respond directly to anything I've written?
Just a request for the peace of the board. As we disagree on fundamentals it's unlikely to go away otherwise.
    Thread closed due to unwarranted brawling. Please start another (but peaceful) thread if you wish to continue the discussion.
    -Joe Offe-


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 10:04 PM

As much as I'd like to, I haven't decided whether I'm going to stick round or not yet.
For the record, these are my two 'bullying' postings to Glueman.
Just in case - goodbye all, and thanks for the fish, and thanks a million for the off-thread support - leaves a warm glow.
Jim Carroll
PS. Would have posted this on Glueman's thread, but it has been closed for the duration.

"Can I take it that your appeal didn't ring any bells then?"

"Don't you find it strange that somebody who calls us all a shower of cunts should go running to sir when he is getting the worst of an argument"?


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 07:45 PM

Jim right, Glueman idiot, this thread proves no idiot can use a dictionary. It isn't rocket science and it isn't management theory or social work.

FARK!


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 06:41 PM

Actually, "Traditional" often means, "I'm too effing lazy to find the author."

To give three examples, on several occasions I have seen Fiddler's Green cited as trad; I have just been given a CD with Storm King cited as trad [I am acquainted with the author]; a verse I gave Oscar Brand for "However Many Nights Drunk" has been cited in several places as Anon.

In none of these cases is the song or verse Trad or Anon.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 05:57 PM

Okay, game, set and match to Glueman, now can we go back to the OP?


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: glueman
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 02:33 PM

Not true. Anyway here's a folk tale while we see whether Joe plays Pontius Pilate or Mack the Knife.

There was once a bad old woman who died and St Peter was waiting at the gate for her arrival.
"You're a wicked old cow", he said, "and you've been a pain in the arse to everyone you've ever met. Give me one reason why you shouldn't go straight to hell."
The old woman thought and thought and finally remembered that many years ago she had given a starving beggar an onion. It didn't technically belong to her and was a bit dodgy anyway but she recalled the incident and demanded to be let in. St Peter produced the onion and said, "Is that it?" and the bad old woman admitted it was.
He said "if you can hang onto the onion stalk without it breaking you can come up through the pearly gates."
As she grabbed hold of the stalk another sinner said, "hang on you old slapper. It's hot in hell and I gave once you a piece of wood for the fire," and he caught hold of her leg as she began to be raised up.
"Leave it out," she growled, "It's my onion" and she kicked him free and as she did so one of the onion skins fell away with the sinner on the end of it.
"That was a close shave", said the woman and grabbed the next layer as another sinner caught her other leg.
"Come on you miserable old bitch", said the second sinner, "I once gave you a bone for your dog. Give us a hand up."
"You fat turd", she said, this being a contemporary spin on the folk tale and one authorised by the GLC in its more liberal and edgy phase, "It'll never hold your weight" and she wiggled her leg until he fell back into the flames with the second onion skin.
Being familiar with the narrative arc of folk tales she didn't like the way this was going but she was almost upon the pearly gates when another sinner grabbed her the hem of her coat.
"You remember me" he said, "I sang you a song when you were feeling miserable".
"But it wasn't your song", she snorted, "and anyway you've never let up about it for the last forty years. In fact you've bored everybody shitless."
"Well my name was on the collection. If you let me hang on I'll sing you another when we get there."
St Peter saw this and said, "You're a miserable old woman and I had a neat plan to send you back to hell, but there are twenty skilled craftsmen who wrote those songs and if this fella starts banging on about 'the people's music' it's all going to kick off and I run a nice set up. So kick the sod back where he came from and I'll give you an access all areas pass to eternal bliss."
So she booted the sinner back and she could hear his pitiful cries of, "they were anonymous" and "finders, keepers" and "show me another definition" and "no answer I see" but both she and St Peter admitted they'd had a very close shave and took up their place to listen to the talented people who'd written those marvellous songs and tales in the first place.

The End.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 02:13 PM

So do I - I've done little more than echo you own behaviour
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: glueman
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 01:03 PM

Joe has been informed of your behaviour. I await his reply.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 12:49 PM

"Is there any moderation on this board?"
Are there any answers on this thread?
Heat - kitchen and all that!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: glueman
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 12:26 PM

Is there any moderation on this board?


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 12:10 PM

PS What was that you were saying about 'wiggle' G?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 10:41 AM

"I'll listen to, play....
Whoever said you shouldn't?
"If you don't like it.....
Whoever said it did or didn't?
"But I don't diss them for holding their views."
Nor do I; occasionally disagree with them though.
"Do my views matter?"
To you they do; some of them I find interesting - but not when they're delivered in a (Glueman) snide manner
"Any respect I had for you has long gone."
Ah well, you can't win 'em all!
".....Frank Zappa coming on."
As up-to date as The Mothers (half a century ago weren't they?) - that should bring the kids in in their droves.
Glueman:
Something else to add to your 'avoid like the plague' list.
One of the effects the revival had on people like me was the unbelieveable access to self-expression it gave us - unlike any other musical form I've ever experienced, before or since.
The democratic nature of the clubs gave us the opporunity to be performers, creators and re-creators rather than passive recipients. It freed us from the heap of shit that was being poured on us in the name of entertainment - it enabled us to become artists in our own right - we became active participents in our own culture.
It also gave us freedom to research, and to meet the carriers of our culture.
It gave the lie to the idea that we had been brought up with that people like us' role in life was little more that "picking up our wage packet at the end of the week" - a philosophy you would have us return to apparently with your insistence that we return to the cultural conveyor belt.
"give me the chart Top Ten."
Gladly - give my love to Amy.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: glueman
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 09:29 AM

Jim for all that you've put into the music you've taken far more out by removing the sympathy of anyone within earshot from folk or the tradition. If it comes with your views, give me the chart Top Ten.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 09:23 AM

Jim.
I'll listen to, play, and accompany anything that I damn well like, thank you.
If you don't like it, or it doesn't fit into your purview of what is, or isn't important...TOUGH!
I don't particularly go along with Wysiwigs version of reality, Nor Mr Cringe.
Nor indeed anybody. But I don't diss them for holding their views.
Do my views matter? (Only to me,and I don't expect anyone to share them)
Jim. Go back to your little ghetto.
Any respect I had for you has long gone.
Feel an afternoon of Frank Zappa coming on.
The torture never stops.
(But you won't have ever heard of it....)


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 09:22 AM

No "'save' the people from themselves." is being snidey pick out plenty more if you wish.
"Seriously JC, you need to put your prejudices behind you and think outside the box."
Address the issues of the disappearence of the traditions on the communities please; at the same time, perhaps you can deal with some of the others you have chose to avoid - shanties, allowing the songs and music to die along with the carriers - or is this being "in a schoolroom?"
The tradition was disappearing - collectors preserved some of it - you took some of it up, benefiting from the work of the collectors, (on your own admission) - you berated the collectors as "thieves", refusing to acknowledge your own part in the "theft". Hypocricy or what?
You really are not doing too well here - again!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: glueman
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 09:03 AM

"Don't be facetious - you'll end up as twisted and snidey as Glueman."

You can't help yourself, can you? Disagreeing is not being snidey, just as pontificating isn't explaining and writing in capitals doesn't make things clearer.

' "To maintain the railway analogy,"
Again you have chosen to ignore one of the main functions of the tradition, it's social influence.'

You don't think the railways had any social influence? Seriously JC, you need to put your prejudices behind you and think outside the box. It'll be painful, you may have to question yourself but it'll be worth it.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 08:39 AM

"Sorry that you don't find his music interesting."
Sorry you found the Singers Club boring - chacun son goût, I suppose
"We are obviously not worthy to lick your boots."
Don't be facetious - you'll end up as twisted and snidey as Glueman.
"To maintain the railway analogy,"
Again you have chosen to ignore one of the main functions of the tradition, it's social influence.
The loss of the oral and musical traditions among Travellers contributed to its fragmentation as a cohesive community, the most noticable being the creation of an age gap which has let to a huge increase in crime among youth, particularly drug-influenced.
A more sininter aspect was its contribution towards the divisions between the settled and Travelling communities. Travellers were once valued as tradesmen in the farming area, but also as singers, storytellers, musicians and news carriers. The disappearance of all these has created a hostile and apparently unbreachable gap between the two communities; the Travellers bearing a seething resentment towards the people they believe to be responsible for their present deplorable situation, the settled attitude being one verging on ethnic cleansing.
The loss of the old traditions has also led to fragmentation and isolation within the settled communities themselves. Within living memory the house and crossroads dances were the cultural centeres where people gathered to dance, play, sing and tell stories. The forcible break up of these by the combined efforts of church and state bodies led to their disappearance and increased isolation.
Interestingly, one of the features of the improvement of the fortunes of traditional music is the re-establishment of many of these gatherings, albeit in bars rather than in poeple's homes.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: glueman
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 08:00 AM

"'Progress' isn't always positive."

I completely agree.

"Surely in our increasingly fragmented communities, in a world being driven to the point of exhaustion by consumer capitalism, we can recognize that, without being called 'sentimental'."

You can, but I'd say terms like 'fragmented communities' and 'exhaustion by consumer capital' are shaped by sentiment, if you think the answer is to sing old songs. I may be a square peg for seeing traditional music as one part of a compelling soundscape my generation (50 somethings) have inherited, rather than the single music worth the bother. I don't share the revival's obsession with folk music if it's to the exclusion of all others, or believe it's an honest response to the totality of where we are at musically. To maintain the railway analogy, you can seek out a preserved engine shed any weekend and see men and women keeping craft skills like alive, such as retubing a boiler or handlining a teak coach without ever believing steam power or wooden carriages are the answer to the nation's current public transport problems.

The myth I don't subscribe to is that folk music will die if it isn't performed. It may die if it isn't listened to (whatever 'die' means as Prince Charles might say) but there are enough exemplary recordings by singers closer to the mother lode than we can ever be to make such announcements appear neurotically sentimental. And anyway, there are those who are convinced the current generation can't add to the tradition in any meaningful way, meaning the best the living can do it repeat the words of the dead. I'm convinced folkies understand the scene for what it is and enjoy what we have without subscribing to sentimental myths or the arbitrary barriers of vested interests.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 07:28 AM

Well. I don't find Jim Eldon boring.. Far from it.
His version of Teenage Kicks, is far better than the Undertones.
Sorry that you don't find his music interesting.
I do. As well as the music of Peta Webb and Ken Hall.
Thank you for keeping the tradition alive single handedly.
Where would the rest of be without the sterling work that you do?
We are obviously not worthy to lick your boots.
Got to go now... Have more tunes to record.
(Feel like a version of Voodoo Child coming on....Multitracked Duets...)


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 07:24 AM

'Progress' isn't always positive. Surely in our increasingly fragmented communities, in a world being driven to the point of exhaustion by consumer capitalism, we can recognize that, without being called 'sentimental'.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 07:11 AM

"I don't see 'anger and despair' being the appropriate driver of preservation"
When we started recording travellers in 1973 it was the practice at night for the people of the sites to light an open fire and gather round it to talk, sing, tell tales, discuss business.
When we returned in early 1975 we were greeted with empty sites and the glow of televisions through the trailer windows - the oral tradition had gone.
Singing and storytelling were very much a part of the communal reaction between families - when they went, so did the gatherings.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: glueman
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 06:25 AM

"It's a strange sort of cultural relativism which says that only the original communities have the right to decide what happens to these songs"

It would be if that was being suggested. What is important to point out is songs were dying because their original thrall no longer held sway, either because fashions had changed or they were supplanted by different media. I don't see 'anger and despair' being the appropriate driver of preservation any more than we can despair that green diesels don't pull coal wagons or housewives in turbans don't red-lead their front door steps each morning. Indeed the conversation would barely be worth having if 'anger and despair' weren't continually wheeled out as an objection to anyone who tried to displace a wholly sentimental view of such changes with an objective one.

Emotion will and should play a role in the life of any well-rounded individual, but firing broadsides at anyone who questions the rationale behind preservation, or the assumptions about the way such preserved artifacts are re-cycled is letting their spleen shout down their brain.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 06:15 AM

Ralphie
Do you believe songs and music have a sell-by date - can't we still enjoy them, even prefer them, long after they have ceased to be fashionable?
Perhaps you could answer the question Glueman persists in evading - if the songs and stories had died out with the singers would that have been a good thing or a bad thing?
"unlike McColls singers club which was unrelentingly boring"
A matter of personal taste, surely - it ran for over thirty years and continually packed in audiences - somebody must have liked it; I certainly did; went most weeks for over 20 years (don't think you answered my question of how many times you went and who you talked to).
"...either listening to an IPod, communicating with friends on Facebook, watching their flat screen HD Tv's, talking to mates via Skype."
You obviously haven't met too many Travellers - virtually none of them have computers; most of them still don't read.
"Out of interest. What is your opinion on Jim Eldon?"
Last time I saw him he looked as bored as I felt.
"While noting it has nothing to do with the adopting culture except novelty."
Nothing to do with passing it on so it can still be enjoyed, I suppose?
I SEE YOU ARE STILL IGNORING MY QUESTION - nothing new there, the awkward ones are best left alone or wrapped in bullshit verbiage, as above - (never got a coherent one about where you got your shanties.)
Suggestion to you both - if you don't like traditional song, please feel free to go elsewhere for your entertainment
If you don't like the goods don't muck 'em abaht!
Jim Carroll.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 05:51 AM

Traditional music existed perfectly well for centuries without requring "someone from outside the class or culture to 'save' the people from themselves". It was only when it ceased to be relevant to the communities it had formerly served that the question of preservation arose. Even then, the impetus was not solely from outside those communities - the value of the traditional songs was often recognised by those within the tradition who did what they could to preserve the songs - Walter Pardon and Bob Copper come to mind.

It's a strange sort of cultural relativism which says that only the original communities have the right to decide what happens to these songs, and that if they reject them then no one else should step in to preserve them.

The fact is, there is still a community for whom these songs are relevant. It's a very different, self-conscious community which probably approaches the music differently from the original singers, but it exists nonetheless, and the music continues to live and evolve. I believe we are continuing a tradition, albeit differently than before. However let's not pretend it's any longer the "Voice of the People" - the People have moved on to other things.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: glueman
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 05:16 AM

JC I appreciate I'm completely wasting my time countering your put-downs with logic, but you were the one who said 'anger and despair'. Individual anger at societal changes is understandable, one only had to see rows of medieval buildings being replaced by ring roads in the 1960s to notice that not all innovation was for the better but if the people who originate a culture don't care about its loss we can do little but record it and remove it to a culture that does mind. While noting it has nothing to do with the adopting culture except novelty.

'The insidious nature of the marketing machine' forces no-one to do anything. That's just a romantic appraisal of evolution. I don't watch TV or take a newspaper and my radio listening goes no further than Radio 3 plus a couple of hours of listen again, so conspicuous media consumption isn't something I can be accused of. 'Snide' seems to be any answer you don't like the sound of.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: GUEST,Ralphie
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 05:05 AM

Well Jim, we're obviously very lucky and grateful to you for the work you are doing.
Meanwhile, the travellers of whom you speak, are either listening to an IPod, communicating with friends on Facebook, watching their flat screen HD Tv's, talking to mates via Skype.
The world has moved on.
Of course it's important to collect and archive what used to be.
Trouble is, in the 21st century, it's about as interesting to the majority as a stuffed Dodo.
I don't often agree with Mr Wysiwig, but, at least he (along with many others) Are trying to keep the music alive. Good luck to him I say.
Also, I'm lucky enough to occasionally visit the King and Queen in Foley Street. (run by Peta Webb and Ken Hall).
Mainly Trad, but not exclusively so, (unlike McColls singers club which was unrelentingly boring).

Out of interest. What is your opinion on Jim Eldon? Would you shout at him for not singing and playing properly?
Packie Byrne isn't one of the best singers in the world either...(not bad for 93 though)


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 04:45 AM

"'save' the people from themselves."
Why do you have to be so snide - is it something in the water where you live?
Because something passes out of 'fashion' and it is replaced by market-produced tat doesn't mean that we can't still continue to enjoy it - we're not sheep who run in flocks.
And no - of course it wasn't against those who originated the songs, nor the ones who gave them to us, they have my eternal gratitude.
It is against the insidious nature of the market machine which seeks to replace our creations with their off-the-peg products.
"we have no right to demand their preservation"
Who the hell is demanding the preservation of anything - we continue to take pleasure from it as we do from Shakespeare, Homer, Zola, Mozart, Dickens - or are all of these past their sell-by day and need to be removed from the shelves?
I ask again ..."had his information not been recorded it would have died with him - would that have been good or bad thing?"   
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: glueman
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 04:06 AM

"We watched with some degree of anger and despair while the Irish Travellers magnificent song tradition disappeared virtually overnight... it is a supreme arrogance to suggest that what they carried is no longer of interest and not worth preserving."

It surely won't be lost on you that 'traditional music' has always required to someone from outside the class or culture to 'save' the people from themselves. Collection of anything, particularly tunes without the prevailing fashion, is an act of discrimination and connoisseurship. No-one from beyond the traveller community was telling them they couldn't keep the song and storytelling culture going, they had been replaced by a different set of stories provided by other media. That's been true of music hall replacing community singing since the whole industrial dispacement of country to town.

We may believe there's fascination in the remnant artifacts of a changing culture, we have no right to demand their preservation unless we are part of that culture. As for 'anger and despair' - anger and despair at whom? The people who originated it?


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 08:14 PM

Don;
"You see, the majority of the most ardent supporters of the 1954 definition seem to be saying that the music of those more recent singers whom they admire is acceptable as folk, while that of people for whom they have no liking or respect is not."
They are saying nothing of the kind. I happen to have liked and admired MacColl and I find the 1954 definition useful (not an ardent supporter - I have said often enough it needs updating) - I don't accept MacColl as folk - would you like to point out where I have?.
Can you give us one other 'ardent supporter of '54' who has said MacColl is 'acceptible as folk, or even that they liked his singing'?
"The word means whatever I want it to mean" - who has claimed that here apart from those who run 'anything goes clubs' and call them folk.
The word has documented definitions - tell us which one you 'are an ardent supporter of', (or do you have another one that isn't documented)? If you are unable to provide one it is you who are guilty of "the word means whatever I want it to mean".
Nobody has ever questioned your right to sing whatever you choose - if they have, tell us where they have? I have no idea what you sing or listen to just have you have no idea of my tastes.
I have no argument with any of your four points above - we are in complete agreement.
I could just do without the hostility and the unsubstantiated assumptions - that's all.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 07:05 PM

Meanwhile.....those who want to discuss the word 'traditional'.....
as in the OP. The words 'traditional' and 'folk' are not synonymous even as adjectives applied to 'song'. Okay they are related but here it makes sense to deal with them separately so we don't end up clouding the issue or having several themes running at once, which is how most of these threads get bogged down.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 06:53 PM

BTW, before the expected response rolls in from, what's the phrase they use for us?....oh yes, the "Usual Suspects", let me reiterate.

1. I sing traditional songs.
2. I value the tradition as much as any here
3. I do not, nor ever will, say that the tradition has no relevance. In fact it is, and always has been the basis for my own music, and the grass roots of any club or session I have been involved in.
4. I have never advocated diminishing the tradition, or excluding it, but rather bringing in what is most folklike, not to the tradition but to a carefully managed and extended folk music genre.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 06:42 PM

""A "suitable glossary" will not be available until a deeper understanding of this music
by those who have been involved in it for many years have an imput.

Big Bill Broonzy's "Horses don't sing it" is not an answer to the passing off of recent songwriting should be accepted as folk music.
""

Your comment begs the question, what do you regard as recent songwriting?

Is Ewan McColl a recent songwriter?......Cyril Tawney?

You see, the majority of the most ardent supporters of the 1954 definition seem to be saying that the music of those more recent singers whom they admire is acceptable as folk, while that of people for whom they have no liking or respect is not.

One of the most persistent of these is in fact Jim Carroll.

Now, as far as I can see, the statement "The word means whatever I want it to mean" applies equally well to Jim as to Tom Bliss and others, who have disagreed with him.

My point is this:- Who gets to choose, and Why?

Don T. ("a deeper understanding of this music by those who have been involved in it for many years"...does 50 years performing and organising qualify?)


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 05:46 PM

Nobody has a right to say that traditional songs have no relevance - all they are entitled to say is that they have no relevance to them.
Over the last forty odd years I have seen audiences moved to gales of laughter or to tears or paroxisms of anger by ballads and songs that have lain dormant for centuries.
Shakespeare wrote his plays five centuries ago; in the intervening centuries there have been long periods when those plays have not been peformed - they died; why weren't they given a decent funeral and forgotten? Because somebody recognised their worth and preserved them - try to get into a half decent production of Hamlet nowadays and see how long you have to queue for a ticket and how much you have to pay for it. If preserving those plays was a conceit, I'm am more than grateful that somebody was conceited enough to take the trouble.
We watched with some degree of anger and despair while the Irish Travellers magnificent song tradition disappeared virtually overnight to be replaced by what - Dallas, Coronation Street and East Enders. We met singers like Mary Delaney with repertoires of going on for 200 songs, most of them new to me; what should we have done, walked away and said "Ah well, they're no longer relevant; let's leave her to her memories". Her Traveller neighbour, Mikeen McCarthy - 130 stories, 60 songs - masses upon masses of information about ballad selling, street singing, old cures, lore, the traditional trades of tinsmithing, horse trading..... Mikeen died a few years ago and had his information not been recorded it would have died with him - would that have been good or bad thing.
People carried in their heads down the centuries the history and culture of people who society has regarded have no history and culture - it is a supreme arrogance to suggest that what they carried is no longer of interest and not worth preserving.
G - I suggest that those of us who would rather watch Corrie and East Enders (and listen to up to the minute hits like 24 Hours to Tulsa maybe) go and do so and leave us to our ploutering in the past.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: glueman
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 05:15 PM

"Sorry to be pedantic.."

Don't be. It's the lingua franca of Mudcat. Without nit-picking the tradition would be unimaginable.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 04:41 PM

Sorry to be pedantic but please read the OP.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: glueman
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 03:59 PM

"many of these songs would indeed have been forgotten if they had not been collected.."

What I find interesting is why the songs became unfashionable in the milieu that generated them but certain individuals maintained them. Equally interesting is the reason why bourgeois connouisseurs valorised them as domestic-exotic artifacts and the working classes in the C20th mimicked the taste for collection.
Some songs could have disappeared and no doubt many did, though by no means all - which would have survived? Much as I admire traditional songs I've always had the feeling I'm listening to the results of interventionist policies which resulted in a snapshot view of refined Victorian tastes for the products of an amorphous peasantry.

As a lesson in ostension the continuing myths of folksong are fascinating.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 03:18 PM

I do not agree with limiting anyone's definition of folk music. There is no consensus here nor should it be necessary to have it. One of the great things about Mudcat is that we can all agree to disagree for reasonable purposes. I do not believe there is a real "broadly accepted and understood vocabulary" for folk music and it needs to be continually redefined.

The "name-calling" or "bickering" serves no useful purpose but it is important to continuous clarify what is meant by the idea of folk music. It can't just be like Alice in Wonderland where
"The word means what I say it does."

I think Jim Carroll is closest to a view of what folk music is. He emphasizes the necessity of the importance of tradition-based music collected and preserved as a national or international resource.

There are those of us who have studied folk music all of our lives and have a working
knowledge of what it means and represents. In today's world we see not only an imperialism that takes it's form in military occupations and violence, but an artistic
imperialism where the popular music industry and it's ancillary organizations seeks to
define folk music to sell it to a mass audience and in the songwriting licensing organizations to co-opt it by not admitting a category for songs in the public domain.

I don't refer to myself as a traditional folk singer any more than I am a linebacker for a football team. However, I have studied folk music as an amateur ethnomusicologist
and with an avid interest in cultural anthropology. Folklore and music is aligned with these pursuits. I also perform folk songs when I can though the market for this appears to be shrinking. Nonetheless, you can't convince me that the latest outpouring of singer/songwriter product no matter how good it is should be called folk music.

A "suitable glossary" will not be available until a deeper understanding of this music
by those who have been involved in it for many years have an imput.

Big Bill Broonzy's "Horses don't sing it" is not an answer to the passing off of recent songwriting should be accepted as folk music.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 03:12 PM

"The songs existed, it takes a special kind of conceit to believe they'd have died without the collector."

It's a simple fact, Mr. Glue, that many of these songs would indeed have been forgotten if they had not been collected, transcribed, recorded, etc. And we can all dip into this cultural inheritance, even you. Unless you learned everything in your songbag from family and friends, broadsides, etc.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 02:38 PM

Steve, I agree entirely that it would be enormously helpful if for the purpose of general discussion on Mudcat we could agree to use a broadly accepted and understood vocabulary. We might then prevent some perfectly straightforward threads from being diverted by the usual Mudcat bickering, name-calling and hobbyhorse-riding.

Unfortunately, any attempt to agree a suitable glossary will probably end up being diverted by the usual Mudcat bickering, name-calling, etc.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 02:09 PM

Interesting collection of broadside ballads you've got there, Dick!


Hee Hee!

But seriously I'm sure that for the main body of the material we would all be fully in agreement. So what's the problem?


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 01:38 PM

here we go
adieu sweet lovely nancy,hoping down in kent[you need alot of hope when you are in kent],just as the tide ,streams of lovely nancy,ball of yarn,nutting girl,windy old weather,claudy banks,firelock stile,riding down to portsmouth, gameof all fours,on one april morning,bunch of rushes, bonny bunch of roses,duke of marlborough,yarmouth town ,cruising round yarmouth,lord gregory ,lord randall,two brothers,lovely joan, devonshire farmers daughter


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 12:22 PM

Jim,
Regarding usage of the word 'folk' Don has already answered for me. Like him I'm not suggesting we drop the word, just recognise that it has another wider meaning today whether we like it or not. That wider meaning actually encompasses your meaning. I'm not suggesting we alter any titles from the past that include the word, although I do think if these organisations/writers were setting out afresh they might think twice about wording their titles in this way. As for the EFDSS their activities frequently associate with and include the wider usage of the word. Also I don't see many more recent organisations using the word in their titles, particularly in Ireland, ITMA for instance. Those using the word 'folk' anew are the organisations that encompass the wider meaning.

Now, coming back to the OP if we may, I would therefore, if we can agree that we don't need to have hard and fast boundaries, for the purposes of MUDCAT threads and related can I suggest that 'traditional song' be defined tentatively as any song that has undergone the oral/aural process. If we can agree on this temporarily then we can start to add in other qualifiers if that is the general concensus. If the majority want to exclude certain genres or throw in timescales I'm happy to go along with what the majority decide.
I personally will recognise that other traditions have played a large part in what we generally perceive as 'traditional song'.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 07:38 AM

""Are you going to persuade Steve Roud that he must re-title his work 'The Traditional Song Index', or the EFDSS that henceforth they are to call themselves the ETDSS and rename their journal The Traditional Music Journal.""

Jim, if you want to discuss what others say, it might be beneficial to actually read what they say first.

Nobody here is suggesting that traditional song be outwith the folk genre. The suggestion was, and still is, that the "Folk" definition needs to be extended to include (carefully selected) more of what the world at large regards already as "Contemporary Folk".

There is no consensus that anything currently included should be removed.

Even you have been heard to allow the work of a few modern composers into the category of "acceptable in a venue calling itself a folk club".

If you insist on maintaining the absolute sovereignty of the 1954 definition, surely you must decry the singing in a "Folk Club" of any song by Ewan McColl, or Cyril Tawney.

If not, then please explain why it is your right to ignore 1954, while the rest of us must conform.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 04:56 AM

"Ask the man in the street what he would include under the heading of 'folk song'."
It's something I, and I believe all of us, have been doing all our lives, talking to people you work with or come in contact with socially. "What do you do out in a hole like Kirkby - they haven't got any pubs out there, have they? ..." Because of my habit of singing as as I worked it went beyond that with people I was employed by as a domestic electrician.
I always got a mish-mash of replies to my queries, ranging from the school - via Sharp, The Spinners, "That rubbish those two Scots gits (Hall Jimmy McGregor) sang on tele last night; latterly Riverdance featured largely in the conversation.
What can I possibly draw from that other than an ignorance, disinterest and occasionally hostility.
The same was the case with the jazz I went to listen to, the "foreign muck" I went to see on the cinema, some of the books I read during the dinner break at work, eating Indian food before it became popular.....
You base what you do on what you know, not on what others don't know or don't care about - surely?
If there was a groundswell which produced a single identifiable, challenging definition, your revisionists might have a case; there isn't; any demand to re-label ourselves comes solely from some of the clubs which, as I have said, haven't engaged with the outside world to any graet extent.
You still haven't commented on what I believe to be a most important point.
Are you going to persuade Steve Roud that he must re-title his work 'The Traditional Song Index', or the EFDSS that henceforth they are to call themselves the ETDSS and rename their journal The Traditional Music Journal.
What are we going to do about the related disciplines, change them to traditional lore and traditional tales and traditional dance and traditional customs?
Or do we adopt our new identity just in the clubs and on forums such as this, making ourselves even more the freemasons lodges we already resemble.
And our literature; rebind our library books to 'Traditional Song In England', 'English Traditional Song - Some Conclusions', 'The Ballad and the Tradition'.... (or maybe we put an 'errata' slip in the relevant ones)?
Sorry Steve, as a dedicated fan of 'The Goons' and 'Monty Python' I'm beginning to think.... nah, couldn't be; and we're still a few weeks away from 1th April.
For me, this is all very reminicent of the Esperanto movement that crashed in flames in the not too distant past.
Our identity as an artistic form is long established and, like it or not, we're stuck with what we've got.
For me, the term 'folk' resonates what we are about; it is not just a music that has undergone a process, it marks who made the songs and where and why they were made; this is reflected in its title.
Personally, I prefer my 'folk' with nowt taken out.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: glueman
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 04:35 AM

The analogy you sought to miss JC, was the doings of ordinary people are their own, not yours or mine. Sticking our name above their graft is a bit rich, even as compiler. What I'm doing on this board arguing with people like you is a more difficult question to answer, especially when I knew what the score was in 1975 and nothing's changed in the guru racket.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Mar 10 - 08:54 PM

If we accept that we are never going to agree on a hard and fast definition with rigorous boundaries, we then seem to be moving towards those dictionary definitions of 'traditional', which appear to be all we need????

Jim,
Regarding the widespread use of the word folk:
(I tried desperately to capture and drag what you wrote but failed)
Ask the man in the street what he would include under the heading of 'folk song'. There might well be a lot of traditional song in there but it would also include Dylan, Peter, Paul and Mary, Seth Lakeman and all of the stuff on Folk on 2. Don't blame the media, they're only reflecting the common voice.
As for 'failure to engage with the rest of the English-speaking world', most people in our world don't see this as a necessity or even as desirable. We can certainly have our own definition of 'folk song' as long as we don't expect to co-ordinate accurately with the big world out there.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Mar 10 - 08:15 PM

"As noted previously, about 35 years ago I documented........"
So you took a photograph of the shanties you sang this morning ... it all becomes clear now!
Dont call us.......
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Bill D
Date: 15 Mar 10 - 08:06 PM

It does??


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Bert
Date: 15 Mar 10 - 08:05 PM

It really isn't worth typing a message in Mudcat. It just disappears.


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Subject: RE: What defines a traditional song?
From: Bill D
Date: 15 Mar 10 - 08:05 PM

It's not hard actually...MtheGM made a good start back up there a ways when he said "I can tell instantaneously what DOESN'T sound like.., "

So...everyone go to the Mudcat/Digital tradition database and make a list of songs we agree are 'traditional'.....then we compare lists and merge the lists into one BIG list that almost everyone agrees on.

This is approximately what philosophers/semanticists call an "Ostensive_definition"
Then we make a list of what characteristics the items on the list seem to share. (Yes...that list will no doubt be similar to what several folks have already noted.)

Then, if further clarification is needed, we all turn on the television or local radio station and make a list of those 'songs' we do NOT think are "trad" and extract the common attributes.

With these two lists and some common sense, we can have a reasonable working definition, bearing in mind that someone will always point to some song...(or version of a song) and harrrumph that it is in a gray area. Sure....so what? Life is full of categories and their gray areas!

The point is, 'ostensive defintion' is how we operate most of the time, even IF our lists are not identical....and all practical applications of ostensive definition are done from someone's subjective viewpoint...(usually to sell something or defend singing a song in a certain venue...Hmmm?

Most other definitions are 'intensional'... "An intensional definition, also called a connotative definition, specifies the necessary and sufficient conditions for a thing being a member of a specific set."...but many intensional definitions begin AS ostensive lists like I describe.

Ok....you may now resume debating over where to point.....


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