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Singer Song Writer or Wronger?

*#1 PEASANT* 05 May 10 - 09:23 AM
theleveller 05 May 10 - 09:51 AM
McGrath of Harlow 05 May 10 - 10:24 AM
*#1 PEASANT* 05 May 10 - 10:32 AM
McGrath of Harlow 05 May 10 - 11:00 AM
Bernard 05 May 10 - 11:41 AM
greg stephens 05 May 10 - 11:46 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 05 May 10 - 12:18 PM
Little Hawk 05 May 10 - 01:25 PM
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mkebenn 05 May 10 - 05:29 PM
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GUEST,Guest from Sanity 05 May 10 - 06:10 PM
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GUEST,TJ in San Diego 05 May 10 - 06:42 PM
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GUEST,Mr Red who has collected songs (as it happen 14 May 10 - 10:50 AM
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*#1 PEASANT* 14 May 10 - 01:47 PM
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*#1 PEASANT* 14 May 10 - 03:35 PM
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Bert 14 May 10 - 08:17 PM
Betsy 14 May 10 - 08:24 PM
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Jim Carroll 15 May 10 - 03:29 AM
*#1 PEASANT* 15 May 10 - 07:59 AM
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WFDU - Ron Olesko 15 May 10 - 09:10 AM
Jeri 15 May 10 - 09:37 AM
glueman 15 May 10 - 10:01 AM
*#1 PEASANT* 15 May 10 - 10:15 AM
olddude 15 May 10 - 10:26 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 15 May 10 - 10:31 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 15 May 10 - 12:38 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 15 May 10 - 01:58 PM
glueman 15 May 10 - 02:05 PM
GUEST,999 15 May 10 - 02:51 PM
olddude 15 May 10 - 03:08 PM
Smokey. 15 May 10 - 04:08 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 16 May 10 - 12:49 AM
Larry The Radio Guy 16 May 10 - 01:48 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 16 May 10 - 05:27 AM
*#1 PEASANT* 16 May 10 - 07:28 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 16 May 10 - 10:07 AM
Richard Bridge 16 May 10 - 12:06 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 16 May 10 - 12:28 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 16 May 10 - 12:35 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 16 May 10 - 12:48 PM
GUEST,999 16 May 10 - 12:50 PM
glueman 16 May 10 - 12:52 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 16 May 10 - 06:39 PM
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*#1 PEASANT* 16 May 10 - 07:13 PM
Stringsinger 16 May 10 - 07:21 PM
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*#1 PEASANT* 16 May 10 - 09:23 PM
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Jim Carroll 17 May 10 - 03:43 AM
Tim Leaning 17 May 10 - 04:31 AM
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Don(Wyziwyg)T 17 May 10 - 05:36 AM
*#1 PEASANT* 17 May 10 - 08:16 AM
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Tim Leaning 17 May 10 - 08:27 AM
*#1 PEASANT* 17 May 10 - 08:31 AM
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*#1 PEASANT* 17 May 10 - 02:18 PM
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Jim Carroll 17 May 10 - 02:59 PM
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*#1 PEASANT* 17 May 10 - 08:48 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 17 May 10 - 09:23 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 17 May 10 - 10:12 PM
Don Firth 17 May 10 - 10:40 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 17 May 10 - 11:30 PM
*#1 PEASANT* 17 May 10 - 11:34 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 May 10 - 12:14 AM
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Jim Carroll 18 May 10 - 02:56 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 18 May 10 - 04:05 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 May 10 - 09:01 AM
*#1 PEASANT* 18 May 10 - 11:49 AM
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*#1 PEASANT* 18 May 10 - 01:43 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 05 May 10 - 09:23 AM

So what is this genre "singer song-wrinter" ?

I was listening to a radio program in which the host referred to a performer who wrote and performed in a style which was indistinguishable from the old ok several centuries old song tradition. Traditional ballads.

The term used was "singer songwriter"

Yes the performer wrote and performed the songs he wrote but they were folk songs, sounding as they have for centuries.

Generally when I hear someone introduced as singer songwriter they are consistantly part of the genre I would refer to as "easily listening" folk. They don't sound like "classic" folk.

Contrast this if you will with "country" music. There are modern country songwriters who perform their own music but it is by and large imho still sounding like "country" They would not want to have a category for themselves "singer songwriter". They would also not want to attach themselves to the "folk" genre either. They are "country"

Why is it then that the ballad writers who perform their own works in a particular modern style wish to attach themselves to the genre "folk" I think there is a place for this genre "singer song writer" but it is wrong to associate them with folk just as wrong to associate country with folk. They would probably benefit from their own radio programming and we would benefit from more "folk" in current folk programming.

Is it right to lump the writers into folk?
Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: theleveller
Date: 05 May 10 - 09:51 AM

Define 'folk' - no, on second thoughts, please don't.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 May 10 - 10:24 AM

I suppose it's marginally quicker than saying "this person wrote some of the songs he or she sings". But it shouldn't be used as a label indicating any particular type of song.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 05 May 10 - 10:32 AM

I seem to be able to pick out "singer songwriter" style performances without being told what they consider themselves to be.

Folk has many sub categories and is defined for those using the definition.

For the purposes of Folk radio programming one finds that more "singer song writer" recordings are included generally than "country" Why is this so?

Much of what "singer songwriter" represents could be presented in its own programming much as country is handled today. Some crosses deeper into folk ie. sounds much more like traditional folk.

There is now enough "singer songwriter" material sounding minimally like folk and much more like "singer songwriter" to allow for distinct programming just for this genre.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 May 10 - 11:00 AM

A "singer songwriter" is someone who writes their own songs and sings them in public. Giving it any other meaning seems a nonsense.

If the same song gets sung by someone who didn't write, that doesn't in itself turn it into a different type of song, or mean it is a different type of performance.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Bernard
Date: 05 May 10 - 11:41 AM

A lot of 'Singer-Songwriters' seem to sing the same song, slightly differently...


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: greg stephens
Date: 05 May 10 - 11:46 AM

I suppose it all depends what you mean by "singer-songwriter". Well, in my opinion....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 05 May 10 - 12:18 PM

Bernie Parry used to call himself a songer singwriter.

As to this debate, I like to be referred to as a singer songwriter, as it has no real preconceptions regarding the style or content. I can do the same songs, perhaps just me and a guitar and call it folk, or don't call it folk.

it is amazing how a label before somebody hears a song can predetermine their enjoyment. I reckon the genre classification on iTunes has a lot to answer for. You will be amazed how many folk artists prefer to have their music classified as something other than folk to allow people to listen before making a choice.

Folk, like it or lump it, as a word carries baggage, and some of it isn't complimentary.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 May 10 - 01:25 PM

"A lot of 'Singer-Songwriters' seem to sing the same song, slightly differently..."

Ummm...well, gosh! We could never say that about people in Blues, Country or Rock music, could we???? (rolling my eyes...)


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 05 May 10 - 01:31 PM

`it is amazing how a label before somebody hears a song can predetermine their enjoyment.`

It`s name is prejudice. Generally it`s prompted by a condition called stupidity.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 May 10 - 02:33 PM

Or egotism. ;-) It's a far more common problem, I think, than mere stupidity. After all, most of the people I know are not basically stupid...but they all have a strong ego, and it is that which tends to make them exhibit prejudice toward this and that.

Then too, ignorance can add to the problem, can't it?

Funnily enough, the commercial powers that be who market songs and put them on the radio want more songs that sound almost the same as the other songs which have already sold well. Therefore they encourage imitation. If songwriters are responding to that, why be surprised?


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 05 May 10 - 02:36 PM

"I was listening to a radio program in which the host referred to a performer who wrote and performed in a style which was indistinguishable from the old ok several centuries old song tradition. Traditional ballads.

The term used was "singer songwriter""


Really! Are you trying to say that you couldn't tell the difference?

Did this 'singer-songwriter', if male, sound anything like Harry Cox or Sam Larner or Phil Tanner or Joseph Taylor or, if female, anything like Jeannie Robertson or Lizzie Higgins or Margaret Barry? If so which of these singers did he/she most resemble?

On the other hand could it be that you had decided beforehand that there is no difference and therefore decided to ignore any obvious differences?


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 05 May 10 - 03:01 PM

He`s a singer of songs
He`s a writer of songs
He`s been dead for two centuries
He done got done wrong
He pissed off the censors
And they made him dead
He`s done with his songs
And the noise in his head.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Diane Anderson
Date: 05 May 10 - 03:16 PM

See Singer Songwriters?
See if they're acoustic?
They're Acoustic Singer Songwriters!
The acronym is ASS
ASS!
That's right - ASS!
Har har har
.
If they do Acoustic Rock Singer Songwritering,
their acronym is
ARSS!
That's right
ARSS!
How funny is that!
How clever am I!
ARSS!
Har Har Har
.
I like folk music, I am superior to these inferiors as are my friends of whom I have 3.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 May 10 - 05:08 PM

Ewan McColl, Woody Guthrie, Jean Ritchie, Martin Carthy, Bruce Springsteen, Georges Brassens, George Papavgeris...

All sound the same, these singer songwriters, don't they?


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 05 May 10 - 05:17 PM

Bert Brecht, Jacques Brel....


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 05 May 10 - 05:28 PM

What do you call someone who doesn't sing,play an instrument,write songs or tunes?


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: mkebenn
Date: 05 May 10 - 05:29 PM

John Stewart,Ian Tyson,Elvis Costello, Warren Zevon..yep, a pattern Mike


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Tootler
Date: 05 May 10 - 06:05 PM

Yes the performer wrote and performed the songs he wrote but they were folk songs, sounding as they have for centuries.

They are not folk songs. They might be in "folk style", but they are not folk songs.

My understanding of singer songwriter is simply someone who writes and performs his or her own songs. They can be in any style or in any genre, but the term most often seems to me to be applied to the songs of singers whose style could best be described as soft rock - guitars, drums etc. amplified but only turned up to about 4 rather than 11.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 05 May 10 - 06:10 PM

*#1 PEASANT*: "So what is this genre "singer song-wrinter" ?"

wrinter???...stick to just singing.

Grinning and Waving,

GfS


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 May 10 - 06:19 PM

Oh Fuck.

1954.

Would it help to have some knowledge, even if minimal, before opening your yap?


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 05 May 10 - 06:27 PM

Richard, other than the opening poster`s posts, this thread is rather amusing. I got a kick out of Diane`s remarks.

I heard an opera program on CBC radio a few days back. It was quite an education. I have often in the past thought I didn`t like opera. Now, I do. I don`t understand most of what I hear, and I wouldn`t care for a steady diet of it, but it`s cool.

I suppose the ultimate insult is `Sorry, it`s NOT my type of music.` How freakin`stupid does that sound. Anyway, hope things are well with you.

Bruce (a singer-songwriter).


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 05 May 10 - 06:42 PM

Of course, you could really go over the top and call your self a chanteur/chansonnier and evoke besotten memories of smoky Parisian clubs in the thirties. As for me, since I don't care all that much about the credit, I'd use the term performer.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 05 May 10 - 06:54 PM

OK by me.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 05 May 10 - 08:53 PM

""What do you call someone who doesn't sing,play an instrument,write songs or tunes?""

Anything you like Tim. He/She's unlikely to be in any of the places we frequent, so he/she'll never know.

Seriously though, I'd call him/her "Audience".

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Mr T
Date: 06 May 10 - 05:07 AM

""What do you call someone who doesn't sing,play an instrument,write songs or tunes?""

Anything you like Tim. He/She's unlikely to be in any of the places we frequent, so he/she'll never know.

Seriously though, I'd call him/her "Audience".

Don T.


-------------

Personally I never go into any place where I know there may be people who don't sing, play an instrument, write songs or tunes. I consider them beneath me. If I have to talk to them, I consider them my "Audience".


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,JonR
Date: 06 May 10 - 05:33 AM

Interviewer: "Mr Armstrong, would you say your music was folk music?"
Louis Armstrong: "Sure it is. Ain't never heard a horse play it!"


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 May 10 - 05:34 AM

I suppose the ultimate insult is `Sorry, it`s NOT my type of music.` How freakin`stupid does that sound.

How so?

DeG


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: TheSnail
Date: 06 May 10 - 05:46 AM

He/She's unlikely to be in any of the places we frequent....

Seriously though, I'd call him/her "Audience".


Career not going too well then Don?


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: MikeL2
Date: 06 May 10 - 07:00 AM

hi don

< "Personally I never go into any place where I know there may be people who don't sing, play an instrument, write songs or tunes. I consider them beneath me. If I have to talk to them, I consider them my "Audience". ">

Personally I don't really care whether they can play or sing or whatever.....just as long as they can LISTEN....

cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,working class hero
Date: 06 May 10 - 07:05 AM

Personally I don't really care whether they can play or sing or listen or whatever.....just as long as they can PAY....


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: sciencegeek
Date: 06 May 10 - 11:27 AM

RE: A lot of 'Singer-Songwriters' seem to sing the same song, slightly differently...

I agree that there are more than few individuals, who perform their own songs, that don't seem to produce much of a variety in their tunes or lyrics... which makes for a very long & tedious set when they don't sing anything other than their own works. Hubby referrs to this as "and then comes that dreaded phrase, " and then I wrote...".   :)

There is nothing wrong with performing your own music... and titling yourself a singer- songwriter. And there is certainly nothing wrong with writing within a certain style... just keep in mind Sturgeon's Law... " 90% of everything is "@rap"... and maybe not everything that makes it onto the paper is all that great.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Bert
Date: 06 May 10 - 11:45 AM

Come along to our Songwriter's Showcase at Stargazers theater in Colorado Springs tomorrow night. That's the 7th. of May. Lot's of variety.

Here


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: mousethief
Date: 06 May 10 - 11:48 AM

Is Kenny Chesney a singer/songwriter? Keith Urban? Dolly Parton? Mick Jagger? Randy Bachman? Paul McCartney? Kurt Cobain? Was Paul McCartney a singer/songwriter after he left Wings and went "solo", but not before?

The term does seem to discriminate and not want to stand for everybody who performs his own songs.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Mr Red
Date: 06 May 10 - 01:17 PM

Just call me a singer wrongciter.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,JonR
Date: 06 May 10 - 01:27 PM

Or singer songblighter.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Mrs Scarecrow
Date: 06 May 10 - 01:51 PM

I write songs some of them sound quite like traditional folk, in years to come I very much hope that if other people like to sing them they will become traditional folk, in the mean time surely they are folk songs!


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 06 May 10 - 03:43 PM

Guest "666" wrote: It`s name is prejudice. Generally it`s prompted by a condition called stupidity.

Or experience. One reaches a point at which one simply no longer cares to winnow through all the chaff to find a handful of gems. We compare the quality of the music the pop-centric rave about to other music we've been exposed to over decades, and learn to discount their opinions as underdeveloped. If a songwriter is really good, we tend to hear about their work through more critical venues, and then give a listen. We're not averse to listening to good performers, just on the basis of their being classed "singer-songwriters" by the obtuse, but if someone is introduced that way (for lack of anything more descriptive), we know chances are awfully good we'd enjoy ourselves more clipping the dog's toenails.


Tim Leaning asked: What do you call someone who doesn't sing,play an instrument,write songs or tunes?

Unmarketable? An emcee, storyteller or comic?

Did that question come out the way you intended? Or did you mean something like, "What pseudo-genre does a performer belong to if he's not technically a singer-songwriter?"


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,The Smiler
Date: 06 May 10 - 03:51 PM

Tim Leaning asked: What do you call someone who doesn't sing,play an instrument,write songs or tunes?

Someone who doesn't want to bore the arse off other people.

Too many people are rubbish, but beleieve they are gods gift to folk music. There is no telling them.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 06 May 10 - 03:58 PM

"What do you call someone who doesn't sing,play an instrument,write songs or tunes?"

A punter


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Bert
Date: 06 May 10 - 05:08 PM

...Too many people are rubbish...

You've only gotta read this thread to see that that is true.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 07 May 10 - 06:05 AM

All of you are wonderful and I love you!


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 07 May 10 - 06:06 AM

"Interviewer: "Mr Armstrong, would you say your music was folk music?"
Louis Armstrong: "Sure it is. Ain't never heard a horse play it!""

Wow! Never heard that before!

Oh, alright I have heard it before - but only about 10 million times ... Just because Louis Armstrong said it(or is alleged to have said it)doesn't mean that it's not a load of meaningless, facetious, over-simplistic b****cks!


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Mouldy Bob
Date: 07 May 10 - 07:37 AM

Oh, alright I have heard it before - but only about 10 million times ... Just because Louis Armstrong said it(or is alleged to have said it)doesn't mean that it's not a load of meaningless, facetious, over-simplistic b****cks!

----------------------


I'm afraid it's true. Whatever music one plays, it is all the folk music of this planet.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: John P
Date: 07 May 10 - 07:49 AM

If you can't tell the difference between modern composed music and traditional folk music, you need to get your ears cleaned. Just to be clear, I'm not talking about songs written by trad musicians to sound like trad music.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Amergin
Date: 07 May 10 - 07:54 AM

This is a parody I wrote many years ago....thought it may be appropriate to this thread: Song About Me


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Mr Red
Date: 07 May 10 - 08:47 AM

I'm afraid it's true. Whatever music one plays, it is all the folk music of this planet.

er not quite. There is commerce and there is involvement.

Folk Play. The music is something different. If it makes money it looses something of the integrity. It may be well played, it may have a meaningful message, but that commercial tag is visible. And is always suspect.

Folk music is about being there and doing it. The rest is entertainment.

Folk style - I may grant you, but "what is folk?" is a whole opinionated assertion in itself.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Mouldy Bob
Date: 07 May 10 - 08:56 AM

Very quaint ideas Mr Red, but rather naive. The folk music of wherever is whatever music comes out of there. The fact it may be modern composed music or older composed music (composed by one or all) is neither here nor there.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 07 May 10 - 09:39 AM

Note-

Listening to "singer songwriter" music- that music introduced as such I find the following:

a. Much music that is hardly distinguishable in performance or composition or arrangement from early folk music, that is traditional.

b. A lot more that after listening without being told what it is supposed to be I can put into a category "singer-songwriter" Sort of like the same way when I listen to "country" or "bluegrass" and can sort out the categories without much effort.

Often however, this relativly new almost an easy listening style "singer songwriter" is lumped into "folk" or "taditional" more often than is country.

Almost every "folk" radio program plays significant volume of "singer songwriter" (I mean only that which sounds "singer songwriter" )

IMHO it may be helpful to give "singer songwriter" its own validity, its own stages, its own festivals, its own radio programming.

Not that there is anything wrong with Singer sonwriter but that it at this time has come of age and deserves its own space. I would include recently composed works in the folk tradition in that they sound like earlier folk music more than like singer songwriter which seems now to be its own thing.

Space is limited at folk festivals, on radio programming so it should not have such a large presence there but should have its own teritory and good luck to them. I can see including one singer songwriter piece every so often just as from time to time a folk program will include the occasional bluegrass track or blues but not as is frequent the case three or four tracks of singer songwriter..... Country bluegrass and blues have their own self titled festivals so one would immagine that singer songwriter would do well with its own too.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 07 May 10 - 09:43 AM

And to add one thing- particular annoying is "celtic" singer songwriter material that sounds nothing like like early "celtic" music or early Irish music but simply sounds like a bunch of mermaids wailing to electric keyboard and assorted electronic sound effects. Celtic huh? music. They occupy space that could better be used to get more exposure to the older genres of music from celtic realms. It is almost like "pseudo celtic" mood music. But it is also singer songwriter as well. Just dressed in green.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 07 May 10 - 11:52 AM

Geeze, Artful Codger: musta hit a nerve there. So sorry.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Bill D
Date: 07 May 10 - 01:09 PM

Words & phrases need have different meanings, or why use so many of them? "Folk" or "trad" needs to mean something OTHER than 'singer-songwriter'. It is not in itself a value judgment. All it 'should' do is help people know in advance what the CD or concert is generally about.
I, personally, like a larger % of 'trad' than 'singer-sonwriter' music.... though I know both wonderful and mediocre instances of both.

"Folk" is just too short and handy a word, and gets 'co-opted' when someone wants to focus a would-be audience's attention.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 07 May 10 - 02:06 PM

Well, the thing is...say you grew up listeing to what was called "folk music" at the time, and that was the music you liked the best.

That was my experience. In the early phase of that musical era (mid to late 50s/early 60s) the "folksingers" were doing a lot of trad songs, but with the advent of Bob Dylan and a host of other young writers the "folk music" of the time began moving more into original compositions by the singers themselves.

I see nothing wrong with that.

So, you grew up liking "folk music" as it was called at that time better than you liked "rock music", "blues", or "country" or "pop" or anything else out there at the time.

Still with me?

Okay, so then you started doing the exact same thing your heroes were doing...you started writing your own songs and singing them. Thus you technically became a "singer-songwriter", just like so many of the people in "folk music" already were.

Okay. Why shouldn't you call what YOU do now "folk music", given that it was inspired by the folk music tradition in the first place, it wouldn't have happened without it, and you never would have ended up doing what you're doing now if you hadn't grown up on that tradition?

Is that hard to understand? I don't think so.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 07 May 10 - 06:02 PM

""Personally I don't really care whether they can play or sing or whatever.....just as long as they can LISTEN....""

Thank you Mike. That was the point of my last sentence.

The first sentence was of course a joke (for those whose antennae don't pick up on irony).

My career, as you call it, is fine Brian. I am happily retired, and getting some gigs locally.

I just take what comes mate.

I spend most time on organising various projects to do with charity.

Maybe one day I'll pop down to your club to do a floor spot, so that you'll know enough about me to give snide comments some credibility.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 07 May 10 - 06:19 PM

""IMHO it may be helpful to give "singer songwriter" its own validity, its own stages, its own festivals, its own radio programming.

Not that there is anything wrong with Singer sonwriter but that it at this time has come of age and deserves its own space. I would include recently composed works in the folk tradition in that they sound like earlier folk music more than like singer songwriter which seems now to be its own thing.
""


You don't pay attention, do you?....Concentrate! Singer/songwriter is not a genre of music.

There are singer/songwriters in every genre and every style.

What you refer to as singer/songwriter is the disseminator of teenage angst, who is singing the contents of his diary, and giving expression to his pubescent longings. Some of them go on being tortured teens well into their forties.

It is the content and style which constitute a genre, not the fact that the singer is also the writer.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 07 May 10 - 07:13 PM

I usually respect your posts, Don. Your over simplification and lame references to teenage angst, etc., a constant theme with you--well, ya lost me with this shit. I though YOU were better than that. No reply necessary.

As for s-s not being a genre, yeah, you`re right. It aint.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Bert
Date: 08 May 10 - 02:16 AM

...Some of them go on being tortured teens well into their forties...

ROTFL! I KNOW some of them. They often sing the same song every time.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 08 May 10 - 03:01 AM

"doesn't mean that it's not a load of meaningless, facetious, over-simplistic b****cks!"
Or, probably what it was intended to be, a witty, off-the- cuff joke, only made a problem by the eejits who take it seriously and use it as a definition.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Songwriter or Performing Songwriter?
From: Genie
Date: 08 May 10 - 05:07 PM

Yes, there are "performing songwriters" in every genre - and have been for over a century (just speaking of the ones whose names we know).

And I prefer the term "performing songwriter," because not only do many of these artists play instruments, but in quite a few cases they are much better instrumentalists than they are singers.

Did anyone call Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, Hoagy Carmichael, Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson, Duke Ellington, or Mel Tormé "singer-songwriters?" Or Dolly Parton in her early career?
As Alex said, the label somehow gets used only for some types of performers who write some of their own songs. And even though the term has become common since the '60s, somehow it still doesn't get applied to people like Jimmie Rodgers or Leadbelly who were writing and performing their own songs long before that.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 08 May 10 - 05:31 PM

Someone I know once said to me about somebody else we both know, "people who sing songs that bad usually write them themselves".


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Genie
Date: 08 May 10 - 05:43 PM

Astute observation, that.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Joe_F
Date: 08 May 10 - 05:45 PM

Dave Van Ronk of blessed memory, in his autobiography (with Elijah Wald) _The Mayor of MacDougal Street_ (2005), devotes several paragraphs at the beginning of Chapter 14 to the notion that there is such a kind of music: "Blues and traditional material were integral to the Folk Scare, but what defined the period in most people's minds were protest songs and the appearance of what has since become known as 'singer-songwriter' music." He thinks it is an identifiable genre, that it is not folk music, and that "singer-songwriter music" is a silly name for it, but some name was needed so that the people who performed it could be promoted under that name & thereby be enabled to make a living.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 08 May 10 - 05:49 PM

How about Sinner Songwriters? A much more meaningful category.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 08 May 10 - 08:16 PM

Thank you Joe F

If you dont know what I mean by the genre "Singer songwriter" you simply have not heard enough of it.


Sort of like being able to identify the genre "country" or "bluegrass"
or "western Swing"

Hard to describe but it is clearly there a little continent in the music world.

Anyone who knows what I mean care to list a few traits for those who don't....

I think one would be songs of personal experience but that could apply to anything....sort of easy listening ballads.....

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 08 May 10 - 08:25 PM

Here is what someone else came up with:

". People who had been primarily songwriters, notably Carole King, also began releasing work as performers. In contrast to the storytelling approach of most prior country and folk music, these performers typically wrote songs from a highly personal (often first-person), introspective point of view. The adjectives "confessional" and "sensitive" were often used (sometimes derisively) to describe this early singer-songwriter style.,,,:

"In the late 1980s, the term was applied to a group of (predominantly female) artists, beginning with Suzanne Vega with her first album selling unexpectedly well, followed by the likes of Tracy Chapman, Nanci Griffith and K.D. Lang. Likewise, the success of Tori Amos in the United Kingdom lead to her success in her home market. By the mid-1990s, the term was revived with the success of Canada's Alanis Morissette and her breakthrough album Jagged Little Pill. It had grown to encompass fellow-Canadian Sarah McLachlan, who started the Lilith Fair, along with other artists associated with that event, such as American artists Sheryl Crow, Victoria Williams, Patty Griffin, Jewel, Lisa Loeb, Natalie Merchant and Joan Osborne. Also in the 1990s artists such as Dave Matthews and Elliott Smith borrowed from the singer-songwriter tradition to create new acoustic-based rock styles. In the 2000s, a quieter style emerged, with largely impressionistic lyrics, from artists such as Conor Oberst, Iron & Wine, Ray LaMontagne, Steve Millar, Jolie Holland and Richard Buckner."
-http://www.search.com/reference/Singer-songwriter


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Genie
Date: 09 May 10 - 05:10 AM

OK, we know generally what sorts of artists the term is applied to. I still think it's an ill-fitting label that doesn't intuitively set this music apart from many other types that could just as easily be called that.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 09 May 10 - 05:46 AM

Ever thought we are all preaching to converted a bit here?

People saying that singer songwriter has no style connotations / this is folk, that isn't folk / folk is something to do with a date just before I was born etc etc..

Do you honestly think those who own the commercial world give a toss what you or I think? To them, folk is a genre associated with sandals, polo neck jumpers and hippies. To say it is anything else may be technically true, but the rest of the world has an understanding of folk, and it isn't necessarily yours or mine interpretation. To the rest of the world, singer / songwriter smacks of a hippie with a guitar and a message.

Argue all you like, you can't change perception by rational argument. Don't forget the adverts for the "new best selling album" that at the time of the adverts hasn't sold a single copy, but it is designed to... The people who decide what most people like to listen to know exactly where and how to classify folk and the truth has nothing to do with it.

tell you what, ask Simon Cowell to define singer / songwriter and there you will have the definition that counts for 80% of the Western world.

Come to think of it, why don't we ask him what folk means and then we can lose this 1954 nonsense.....

Ahh feel better for that.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Bert
Date: 09 May 10 - 05:45 PM

Sinner Songwriters???? Indeed.

McGrath, I thought you would be on our side. You've written some bloody good songs yourself. "Blue Clicky Thing" for one.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 09 May 10 - 06:18 PM

Sometimes, ya know . . . .


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 09 May 10 - 06:34 PM

""I usually respect your posts, Don. Your over simplification and lame references to teenage angst, etc., a constant theme with you--well, ya lost me with this shit. I though YOU were better than that. No reply necessary.""

Not My words 999, but what I see and hear of others' opinions of singer/songwriters, and it is this small grouping that is usually referred to by those (like Peasant) who wish to denigrate and debase singer/songwriters. It is largely this kind of material which Peasant calls "The singer/songwriter genre".

It is not a constant theme with me, as I am a singer who also writes, and therefor hardly likely to be despising the breed. I think you are confusing me with Richard Bridge, who tends to refer to "snigger/snogwriters".


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 09 May 10 - 11:16 PM

Actually I am trying to uplift and declare singer songwriter a new genre. Don you are confused.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 09 May 10 - 11:20 PM

an ill-fitting label that doesn't intuitively set this music>

no labels are perfect but one must admit that one can without knowledge of details simply sort out the music from other genres by blind listening.

So therefore maybe the name is flawed but the category exists.

Yes it can be a remote sub genre of folk but it is like country- folk relations but not the same as other folk genres. So treat it like country or bluegrass and keep it at a relative distance from most of the folk. The occasional track but not three or four on a program or media designated traditional folk. It is worthy of its own shows own media own opportunities.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 10 May 10 - 05:15 PM

IMHO (and in the opinion of a fair number of others), the person who stands before a microphone and announces, "This is a folk song I wrote last week," is trying to claim a status for the song that has not been earned.

It's like an aspiring composer sitting down at a piano and announcing to the audience, "This is a timeless classic that I wrote last week."

Sorry! Not true in either case. Only TIME will determine that.

"Folk" or "classic" is determined by factors other than mere style.

Don Firth

P. S. And somebody up-thread is flogging that stupid horse again. SHEESH! Give it a rest!! It was a dumb statement then, and it hasn't improved with age or usage. [Besides, it wasn't Louis Armstrong, it was Big Bill Broonzy.]

P. P. S.   I believe that someone, also up-thread, made the excellent point that "singer-songwriter" is not a discrete genre. There are singer-songwriters in every category of music.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 10 May 10 - 07:04 PM

"Oh Fuck.

1954."

You have the punctuation in the wrong spot - it shoud read

"Oh.

Fuck 1954."

I play singer-songwriters on my folk radio show. I play traditional field recordings on my folk radio show. I call it a folk radio show. My listeners seem to enjoy the variety. I do not need to spell out the differences through labels, although I do talk about the writer and history.   My listeners are intelligent enough to know the differences without having it labeled. They enjoy listening to good music.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jeri
Date: 10 May 10 - 10:29 PM

The people who are always bitching about those they see as egotistical attention seekers who waste their time are pretty much egotistical attention speakers who waste other people's time. I think maybe they're jealous because some actually want to listen to the songs, but nobody really wants to be assaulted with bitching, whining, pissing and moaning on a consistent basis.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 11 May 10 - 08:40 AM

Ron if it is not a distinction why do you make a distinction.....

Try this to help perhaps.....

Yes singer songwriters have always been.

Today we have contemporary singer songwriters that sound as if they are ancient-singing traditionally, arranging and writing traditionally.

We also have singer songwriters who .....well sound like ......singer songwriters.....so many of them that they deserve their own place and not should be over represented in the category of folk whereas those who sing in the traditional sound can find a place there.

You know when you hear country music and you know when you hear singer songwrite....one of the best terms is perhaps intensely introspective.

Singer Songwriter is just another term for a genre that haasn't got the creativity to do wordsmithing and come up with a unique name.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 11 May 10 - 09:19 AM

I suspect that we are missing a vital ingredient in the subject" Singer Song writer or wronger"
A singer who writes a song
then sings it.(usually in that order)
I think there should be some further discussion regarding the instrumentation if any that may be involved.
Maybe (gasp) I am wrong(nah!never happens)but perhaps you are as I was thinking primarily of the Guitar Playing variety of SS?
Some of the refugees of tin pan alley when they escaped to the recording studios may have played pianee.Or even a musical instrument of some kind.
There may even be some who sing their own songs UNACOMPANIED !
Any thoughts?


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 11 May 10 - 09:31 AM

"Ron if it is not a distinction why do you make a distinction....."

I did not, you did. It doesn't matter if it is ancient or contemporary - folk is a representation of a culture, time and place.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 11 May 10 - 10:46 AM

Ron:

"I play singer-songwriters on my folk radio show. I play traditional field recordings"

singer-songwriter then is not traditional field or indoors

Yes it is its own sound It just needs a better name and its own programming. Most of a folk show no occasionally on a folk show yes.
I would suggest as much as one would play country on a folk show however if folks looked into it I think there is more contemporary singer songwriter played on folk shows than country I could be wrong.
That is not counting traditional singer song writers which imho are deeper related to folk as we know it.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 May 10 - 11:07 AM

"Fuck 1954."
Why - unless you can come up with something better?
And why should we have to discuss this subject in terms of right and wrong?
There is nothing WRONG with being a singer-songwriter; there is something wrong with conning people by passing yourself off as something you are not.
Don't be so defensive - it always brings the snigger-snogwriter out in me.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 11 May 10 - 01:43 PM

No one is being DEFENSIVE, except to the point when you have a discussion and present an alternative view - the other party seems to take offense around here.

There is nothing wrong with the 1954 definition, except for the fact that is was 1954 and people interpret it to see fit. The defintition of community and resource is ignored and fails to accomodate modern tastes.

Here in the U.S., "folk" encompasses a wider variety of communities both traditional and modern. The term singer-songwriter, which did not come in to fashion until the late 1980's, was an attempt to placate the traditionalists and separate the styles and communities.

It ia all a bowl of stew. Some will enjoy the pieces of meat, other will like the potatoes.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 11 May 10 - 01:46 PM

WHAT

NO mention of the carrots.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 11 May 10 - 01:59 PM

The notion that singer-songwriter refers to folk music is quite a misled thought. The whole world does not listen to folk under ANY definition of the term. Some people do.

Many s-s today write rock, rap, blues, contemporary, and yes, folk-style music. Getting one`s nuts in a knot over it is foolish. There are a few people who `look down their noses` at singer-songwriters. That`s their choice, just as it is the choice of others to disagree. I prefer to listen to well-written music done well: played well and sung well. I don`t restrict myself to genres as a rule. If it`s good, I want to hear it. Whether it`s rock, rap, blues, contemporary, and yes, folk-style music. IMO, doing otherwise is an expression of a somewhat closed mindéear. However, if that`s your `bag`, go for it.

Good to see you posting again, Ron. Trust you have been well.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 May 10 - 02:50 PM

"and fails to accomodate modern tastes."
The day we re-define carrots because not enough people like them is the day I'll agree with the non-definers (note the 'non' - still haven't had an alternative definition exept the talking horse one').
The snigger-snogwriters I've heard don't represent any community - too busy gazing at their own navels.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 11 May 10 - 02:55 PM

Nobody is redefining carrots or folk music here. Sometimes there are new vegetables introduced to the garden.

No one is taking your meat away from you at their expense.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jeri
Date: 11 May 10 - 03:17 PM

The problem is not that people are re-defining carrots, but that some spasmed-sphinctered types care more where the carrots came from than whether they're good carrots.

Whenever someone starts giving people cute names, I take it as a sign that they're a bit too personally involved in other people's business and can't think of anything intelligent to say.

I like traditional music.
I like new music.
Not anything close to 100% of either.

What I loathe is not music, NEVER music, but small minded, easily-bruised, egotistical whingers who seem compelled to broadcast how offended they are that other people like what they do not. Newflash: We all have different tastes and you can't do anything about that.

...and a "singer songwriter" does not define what is produced but HOW it's produced. It's not a genre of music but a genre of musician. If you think it's being used to replace "folk", then the problem sounds like it's your interpretation.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Diane Anderson
Date: 11 May 10 - 03:51 PM

Anyone who uses the term "snigger snogwriter" is really extremely sad. When it first raised it's head it was a smug, knowing joke used by a select few back slapping folkier-than-thou morons. Now, it's the idiot disciples of said back slapping morons, eeking out the last gasps of humour of a never funny joke. Nice one!


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Dan Hailey
Date: 11 May 10 - 04:44 PM

Everybody stop feeding the trolls. They are just stirring up contention so that they can thrive on the attention.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 May 10 - 05:17 PM

"Anyone who uses the term "snigger snogwriter" is really extremely sad."
Anybody who uses terms like 'purist' or 'finger-in-ear' is, as far as I'm concerned, equally sad, yet some of us have put up with it for much longer than the relatively new (to me at least) snigger-snogwriter.
Personally, I'm not happy with invective of any sort - I'd much rather discuss rationally, but every now and again I get extremely pissed off with infantile name-calling and indulge myself.
'Folkier-than-thou moron' doesn't strike me as particularly well reasoned discussion - does it you?
It seems we're as sad as each other really, doesn't it?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Bert
Date: 11 May 10 - 05:34 PM

...The snigger-snogwriters I've heard don't represent any community - too busy gazing at their own navels...

Then of course there are those who don't think that they have them. Navels that is.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 11 May 10 - 05:35 PM

"To the rest of the world, singer / songwriter smacks of a hippie with a guitar and a message."

I am a hippie with a guitar and a message, and I once hoped I'd figure out a way to "become" a songwriter if I spent enough time and energy studying and performing the kind of songs that I like, perfecting my fluency in the "language of song," so to speak. However, somehow, that never happened. I'm just a singer/guitar-player who's not a writer ~ a "songster," if you will; that's a valid tradition in itself, isn't it?

How I bill myself:

"All proven material, no lame-ass "originals" ~ cringe-free listening experience guaranteed!"

Now, I'm not arguing that all newly-written songs are substandard; quite the opposite. MOST of my repertoire, after all, consists of pieces with known authorship. However, as a hippie-with-a-guitar, I find it necessary to distinguish myself from the mass of self-indulgent amateur "s-s"'s.

*******************

The whole idea that performers who write some of their own stuff are NOT, by definition, "folk,:" seems to be a new one, and fairly artificial. Woody Guthrie, for example, dealt almost exclusively in his own songs, but no one among his contemporaries ever found it necessary to protest "but that's not folk music!"

I also would like to say something about the difference between living musical traditions and the strictly nostalgic. I live in a community, New Orleans, where there are multiple ongoing musical traditions. One obvious example is the second-line brass-band tradition, currently getting plenty of exposure to the outside world through the new HBO miniseries "Treme." That "tradition" includes ancient songs of unknown authorship, such as "St. James Infirmary," "Closer Walk With Thee," etc., stuff from the 1940s and '50s like Professor Longhair's "Come to the Mardi Gras," and 21st century compositions like the Soul Rebels' "Let Your Mind Be Free." In this case, the "tradition" is defined as "numbers you'd better be able to play if you want to join in."

The genres/subgenres in which there seems to be the most angst about who's valid or genuine and who isn't are those where there is no ongoing creativity, where only material already known and established is acceptable. Even though I myself perform established material exclusively, I am not comfortable in a "box" where all material has to be "traditional" ~ that is, not only previously known and established, but also sanctified by some kind of imprimateur.

***********************

My friend Chandler Travis describes himself as a "writer/songsinger." As good a variation as any. Much of his material is humorous and could pass as a subset of "contemporary folk," IF he were to perform the songs in the manner that he writes 'em, all by himself and using his acoustic guitar.

However, he makes his living as a bandleader, singing and playing his electric guitar along with bass, drums, at least one additional guitar or other stringed and amplified instrument, and a horn section. This, apparently, defines his work as "rock," even though not every number is played to a "rcokin'" beat...

Go figure...


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 11 May 10 - 05:42 PM

"Woody Guthrie, for example, dealt almost exclusively in his own songs, but no one among his contemporaries ever found it necessary to protest "but that's not folk music!" "

That's not exactly true! Believe it or not, in the late 1940's there were people who complained that people like Guthrie were not tradtional folk singers, and if you want to follow a definition - they were right. Which to my mind shows how definitions can be too inflexible.

A couple of years ago we presented Pete Seeger at our campus. He was 88 at the time, and gave a 1 hour presentation of songs and stories that spanned all sorts of genres. At intermission, an elderly man using a walker came up to me and complained that Pete did not offer folk songs because one of the songs he sang was "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". Pete's presentation of the song was powerful and there were few dry eyes in the house. Yet this individual missed the beauty of the performance simply because the song did not fit his definition.

Don't get me wrong, definitions are important - but we should not allow it to limit and folk music should only be a loose framework. The content and commuity for which the song was created is more of a determining factor of whether or not it is folk...............


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 May 10 - 06:15 PM

"Don't get me wrong, definitions are important..."
And thereby hangs the problem, they are important - important to the survival of the genre, that is.
Musical forms can exist side-by-side with others perfectly happily, until one form shoulders out the other - as has happened with folk music.
I stopped going to folk clubs because what was being dished up in many I went to did not bear any resemblence to what I knew (as a singer, collector, researcher, reader... whatever) of (then) nearly forty years of listening, as folk music.
I now live in a one-street town in Ireland where I can attend at least three excellent sessions a week (and three not-so-good ones), listen to up to a dozen programmes of folk music per week on the radio, watch up to half a dozen television programmes on same music, and attend year round singing and music week-ends; not bad for a place where, ten years ago, the same music was being referred to contemptuously as 'diddly-di music' and if you walked into a pub with a fiddle you'd be sitting on your arse on the pavement in two seconds flat.
The reason - the musicians here didn't run round like headless chickens when someone asked them to define their music - they knew what it was and did something about it.
Try telling a classicist that 'classical' should only be "a loose framework" or a jazzman that everything a horse doesn't play is jazz, and see how far you get.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 11 May 10 - 06:21 PM

"And thereby hangs the problem, they are important - important to the survival of the genre, that is."

Absolutely not. Your feeling about folk clubs and "singer-songwriters" does not change the survival of Folk music (with a capitol F). Folk music will always exist.

It is not for any of us to decide who "shoulders out" a form of music. Tastes, styles, and traditions change. You can only observe and reflect, not manipulate the changes that will naturally occur.

Will it exist in the way you grew up as a collector and researcher? Of course not. You are only kidding yourself if you ever thought it would. Folk music is a living tradition and it involves many cultures, many styles, and many eras.

You've done amazing work in your lifetime. You should be commended, and I am grateful for what you have done. What you have accomplished has led to the continuation of the traditions - and the creation of new traditions.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 11 May 10 - 06:43 PM

"Newflash: We all have different tastes and you can't do anything about that."

How true!!

But some of us have different opinions and YOU can't do anything about that!


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 12 May 10 - 11:44 AM

Ron, thanks for the "correction" about Woody. I'm not surprised that he had his critics for not playing "real folk music" ~ I just hadn't known. I wasn't alive at the time (I'm old, but not that old), and haven't studied enough of the history, I suppose.

For those of you interested in the broader range of contemporary songwriting, I would encourage you to Google up my buddy Chandler Travis, mentioned above (briefly). The guy is simply hilarious; no less an authority than the late great George Carlin hired him and his band as an opening act for several tours. I assume that many of you would be impressed by such an endorsemnent...


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 12 May 10 - 01:42 PM

""Actually I am trying to uplift and declare singer songwriter a new genre. Don you are confused.""

Thanks, but no thanks!

I know exactly what I am.

I am a singer of songs both traditional and contemporary, and a writer of songs mostly in the folk style, and a composer of music for other folks' poetry.

The last thing I need is to be shoehorned into the narrow slot you have in mind, so kindly butt out.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 12 May 10 - 01:49 PM

""That is not counting traditional singer song writers which imho are deeper related to folk as we know it.""

Do you mean the long ago, largely unknown composers of traditional folk, or are you really stupid enough to believe that it is possible to write a traditional song now?

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Continuity Jones
Date: 12 May 10 - 03:15 PM

are you really stupid enough to believe that it is possible to write a traditional song now?

I am stupid enough to believe this. Sure, we may not see it as a traditional song right at this moment, but I believe songs written now could easily enter into the tradition, with all that entails.

So there.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 12 May 10 - 03:37 PM

I am also stupid enough to believe that someone can write a traditional song now..I think many songs that act as folk songs and are considered old and no known heritage often have known authors etc. and are fairly recent. mg


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jeri
Date: 12 May 10 - 03:56 PM

What Continuity Jones said. People get the process mixed up with the label/genre. ANY song is a candidate. Mg's are gonna wind up getting in, I'm sure. We sing a bunch now. But we're back to "what is folk" again and we're supposed to be arguing about something else. Or maybe we aren't, and it's just that some singer-songwriters will write songs that end up being folk, but aren't yet, and others will write country and rock hits or other-than=English songs that we may never hear.

But singer-songwriter is what someone does, not the genre of music they writesing (I just made up a verb--can I writecopy it?).


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 12 May 10 - 04:18 PM

Some singer songweriters produce and perform music that like a key will open the folk lock and they will get in. Woody is one of these, sound, phrasing, expression, arrangement.

Other singer songwriters just as legitimate as performers and as writers perform and write music that as a key does not open the folk lock and they will not get in. They dont sound enough like traditional folk.

This is not to say that they aren't good, valid, real or worthy of tolleration. It is only to point out that the non traditional singer songwriters are doing something different, amazing, enough so that they need their own places or maybe a new term for themselves.

Actually the reason for this is so that they can be found more easily in the recording bins and at the festivals which I hope would be more their own festivals rather than parts of traditional folk festivals.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 May 10 - 04:19 PM

Then there is the category of songwriters who have breakfast, and songwriters who wear socks, and songwriters who can't always remember the words...

Actually that last one is quite important, because it's probably the main mechanism for rubbing the rough edges off of songs that need the rough edges rubbed off of.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 12 May 10 - 04:35 PM

"It is only to point out that the non traditional singer songwriters are doing something different, amazing, enough so that they need their own places or maybe a new term for themselves.

Actually the reason for this is so that they can be found more easily in the recording bins and at the festivals which I hope would be more their own festivals rather than parts of traditional folk festivals."

That is an old argument, but I don't find it particularly valid. Lumping everything "traditional" in a folk bin doesn't really say much either. Too many different genres of folk.

For years, bookstores have done well with "Fiction" and "Non-Fiction". Most people are smart enough to realize that there is a difference between John Gorka, Woody Guthrie and the Copper Family - even if you find them in the same bin marked "folk". Not many people would buy a CD without some background on the artist anyway.

Why would you want to separate festivals anyway? Sounds boring. Give it a good mix and have fun. If I go to a buffet I would hope there was more than chicken dishes being offered.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 12 May 10 - 04:49 PM

But, Ron, if I go to a pizzaria, then find that there is no pizza on the menu, it's all Chinese food. . . .

Not that I don't like Chinese food, I do. But if I have my face fixed for a pepperoni pizza, I don't want to find that all there is on the menu is shrimp chow mein and pork fried rice.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 12 May 10 - 05:03 PM

the other problem is scarce resources

my main problem is with radio programs called "folk" getting away with three or four contemporary singer songwriter tracks where they would not get away with it for say "country" or for that matter "blues"- IMHO it is seeping in.

When a genre buds off the stem then it is a new one. Give credit where credit is due and come up with a new term. Contemporary Singer Songwriter sounds good but Easy listening singer songwriter may be better.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 12 May 10 - 05:09 PM

Or take what happened to Jeff Warner (son of Frank and Anne Warner) here in Seattle not long ago. He contacted the Seattle Folklore Society (among other things, they sponsor concerts by "folk singers") to see if they would be interested in setting up a concert here for him. They asked him what songs he had written. He responded that he doesn't write songs, he sings traditional folk songs.

They said No, they're not interested.

That's when Stewart Hendrickson, Bob Nelson, and I decided to resurrect the long defunct Pacific Northwest Folklore Society. We set up a concert for Jeff. And the PNW Folkore Society is continuing to sponsor performances by such singers, both local and from elsewhere. Obviously, the new/old organization is meeting a need.

The way to preserve folk music is to give people an opportunity to hear the real thing.

I repeat what I said above: singer-songwriter is not a genre or style of music. And writing a song in a style that mimics folk songs does not make it a traditional folk song.

I know I'm wasting my time and energy, of course.

Don Firth

B. S. I find the songs that Gordon Bok writes practically indistiguishable from traditional folk songs. In fact I sing a number of them myself. But I don't call them "folk songs." I give Gordon credit for them.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 12 May 10 - 05:22 PM

But Don, I would not go to a Folk section and look for the Ramones.

"Folk" is not a great identifier - except to those who grew up in the folk revival and have a distinct image. Even then, I would bet that Conrad and Don would have a different definition of "folk".   

There is plenty of room under the umbrella.

"Folk" is a word with the same characterestics as the word "encyclopedia" - neither word defines the contents other than that fact that both are collection of lots of subjects, lots of entries, always something new being added. No one is ripping out the old pages.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 May 10 - 07:00 PM

"neither word defines the contents"
Totallly agree; but 'folk' defines the process a song has passed through very accurately,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 12 May 10 - 07:26 PM

"Totallly agree; but 'folk' defines the process a song has passed through very accurately,"

I agree, except I would change it to "A process" as opposed to "THE process". Many of the contemporary songs fit the same definition if you examine the process.

"Baking" describes a process, but it won't define what is put on your plate.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 12 May 10 - 07:54 PM

Anybody not familiar with "Antiques Road Show" on a lot of PBS stations?

People bring in crockery, baskets, furniture, paintings, collections of photos and letters, movie posters. . . .

And if you have an interesting antique, antique experts on the "Road Show" will describe and evaluated it for you on camera and you become one of the sections on the broadcast, and may even wind up saying, "Good grief! I bought that old chest of drawers at a garage sale for $25.00, and now you're telling me that it was made in Massachusetts in the early 1800s and it's worth $35,000!!???"

The item has a provenance. "The history of ownership of a valued object or work of art or literature;" (Merriam-Webster).

It's been around awhile. It's traveled some. It's been used by a number of people. It even shows some signs of wear.

If someone brought in a flower pot and said, "Here is a priceless antique I threw in a ceramics class I took last summer," how much of a chance of getting on camera do you think they would have?

The show usually ends with a half-dozen people saying things like, "My aunt gave me this lamp and told me it was a Tiffany lamp and was worth a lot of money. They looked at it and told me 'Sears-Roebuck Tiffany imitation,' and that it's worth about twenty-five dollars! Oh, well. I'll take it home an put it on my bedside table."

Which is to say that it may look like one, but it is not an antique.

Doesn't mean that it isn't a nice lamp. But it doesn't have the provenance that defines it as an antique.

Don Firth

P. S. And although there are fakes around, in general, you don't have very many people who want to stretch the word "antique" so a whole bunch of newly manufactured items can be included.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 12 May 10 - 08:02 PM

But--let me add to that there are a whole lot of items being made today that may be tomorrow's antiques.

But time--and only time--will tell.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 12 May 10 - 11:13 PM

It always amazed me that someone needs to be told by someone else whether they have something worthwhile or a piece of junk. Most people who think they have a valuable antique will not allow anyone to touch it, sit on it, use it, wear it, or enjoy it the way it was meant to be used - it sits on a shelf to be admired from afar and collect dust - only for the owner to take pride in saying how valuable it is. The viewer never really gets to enjoy it and will sit on their big comfy chair that they purchased at Ikea, happy as can be that they are getting something of value that they enjoy.

The problem with all of these analogies is that they are easy to come up with and just as easy to knock down, and rarely do they fit the subject matter at hand.

If you want to look at folk music as a process, then you can cling to the provenance of AN INTERPRETATION of a definition.    Most people focus on the "oral tradition".   Frankly, I find that too limiting. Too much emphasis on the word "oral" and not enough on the more important word of "transmission".

Most songs WERE transmitted in the oral tradition because that was the dominant means of transmission in the days before recording. Sure you had books, but music was presented in a different fashion over 100 years ago. We collected these songs as artifacts of a time, place and culture.

Fast forward back to the present. Our mode of transmission is different. Oral transmission is no longer the dominant mode of sharing songs. Yet we have various cultures, communities and traditions that ARE being transmitted in a FOLK tradition.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 May 10 - 11:30 PM

In a way, the monetary value of an "antique" is only one measure of its true value. What may be a more important measure is the story value of an item - what place does it have in my history, or in the history of my family? What memories does it bring back?
Same could be said of songs.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 12 May 10 - 11:31 PM

Correct - old or new songs that become part of our lives and community.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 May 10 - 12:37 AM

I think you've missed the point, Ron. The analogy is a good one, and very much to the point.

First of all, a lot of people don't know they have a valuable antique. It's old box that their grandmother kept knick-knacks in or a roll-top desk their great-uncle had in his office. They see the show and it occurs to them that this thing might just be an "antique" and really be valuable. "If it is, and I sell it, maybe I can put my kid through college!" So they haul it to the show to find out. Or sometimes it's an item that they find out is worth, maybe, $15,000 at auction. But they say, "Well, it's been in the family for generations, and I don't really want to sell it." So the evaluator tells them what to insure it for.

But the point is that it has a history. As I say, a provenance. You didn't buy it al Wal-Mart. Nor did you buy a kit at Ikea and assemble it yourself. It has a value that goes beyond its value as a utilitarian or decorative item.

And that value lies, not just in the quality, but the history of the item.

You can't make an antique. And nobody can write a folk song.

You can write something that sounds like a traditional folk song, and you might fool a lot of people with it. But—it doesn't have the provenance.

Don Firth

P. S. As I said above, I know I'm wasting my time.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Darowyn
Date: 13 May 10 - 03:45 AM

"You can't make an antique. And nobody can write a folk song."
Of course you can make an antique, but at the point at which you make it it is merely furniture, pottery etc. It becomes an antique with time. (traditionally a hundred years)
It will only become a valuable antique if it is inherently well made at the time of construction, or if it acquires status in some other way, perhaps by rarity, or by the high status of its creator, or by historical associations picked up over time. Many of these may have no intrinsic value- A Churchill Cigar butt for example.
Some modern things fall into these category and can be considered "Classics" or antiques of the future.

Similarly with songs.

Somebody wrote them.
Some, old or new, are inherently good songs.
Some are rare and unusual (not necessarily good though).
Some are written by people who are respected for their songwriting ability.
Some are run-of-the-mill potboilers, but have memorable historical associations.
Some modern songs fall into these categories and can be considered "Classics" or folk songs of the future.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 10 - 04:22 AM

As Don Firth has said, a folk song is defined by the process it passes through.
It doesn't matter how or in what style it was made, the fact that it reflects enough of the experiences and emotions of enough people for it to be taken up and re-made so that it becomes as relevant to them as it was to its maker(s) gives it its 'folkness' and guarantees its transmission through time and distance.
I don't agree with Ron's comments on changing modes of transmission. The oral way the songs were passed on guaranteed a flexibilty, a looseness of form which allowed singers to re-make the songs so that Barbara Allen could have come from Scarlet, Scarborough, Reading, Edinburgh.... wherever Town, and the poor feller (or woman) dying from clap could equally be a soldier, sailor, marine, cowboy, whore.... whatever.
Ballad scholar, David Buchan's (flawed) theory that ballads had no set text, just plot and commonplaces, has some validity in our experience. We found that if you re-recorded the same song from a singer on a number of occasions over a period of time, you ended up with numerous versions; he or she re-made the song at each singing - this was particularly true of non-literate Travellers.
Modern songs come into the world in their 'ur' versions; they are fixed by their method of transmission rather than altered and adapted by it. New songs will always belong to the composer, Paxton, Dylan, McTell, electronic transmission, recording methods, printing, literacy, etc., have made sure of that, and to be doubly certain, the song-makers more often than not put a little (c) next to it so it can never belong to the 'folk' or anybody else (unless they sell it - I think I'm right in saying that The First Time Ever now belongs to the Michael Jackson estate).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 13 May 10 - 07:56 AM

Reminder that this discussion is not about definition of folk so steer yourselves back to singer songwriter.

Any category is only as good as how it relates to the questions being asked of it. If the category does not work for you simply re define it and go from there.

Folk works for singer songwriter but I would argue only for the
Traditional Singer Songwriter style
rather than the
Contemporary or "easy listening" Singer Songwriter Style

When a new song is written and performed in the traditional style it may not be old, may not have stood the test of time but.....it sounds alike so for the purposes of listening it goes with other songs written and sung in the tradition.

For the history of folk it goes in another category as it is not as old however will be old soon enough

For the purposes of putting together a play list I would think that a folk program would not be suitable for
Contemporary or "easy listening" Singer Songwriter Style if it claims to be a Folk program. It would not also be suitable to include massive amounts of Country or Rock.....

Even if you are putting together a stew- If you call it a folk stew some of the class of singer songwriter would not be appropriate flavors for the mix.

If you wish to have an "ecclectic" music program then don't call it Folk. There is so little space for folk that it must be guarded and entrance needs to have some form of filter.

Just try getting a Jazz or Blues show to play several traditional folk tracks even though an argument could be made that Jazz or Blues is possibly in some degree folk.

Why is it that "folk" programming seems to let everything in?

I think the question is simple- money and marketing if you depend on an audience then you sacrifice values- an international trend.

Far far too much extreme fusion and contemporary easy listening singer songwriter getting in. In a review of a local band I just composed I noted that "The Homespun Ceili Band has demonstrated that it is quite possible to provide energy and excitement and drive by playing the music of the celtic realms without any fusion at all- the only fusion you would get is that required for back injuries and they would not let that happen to you!"

Slightly off topic- doesn't recent Bellowhead material more closly resemble Herb Albert and the Tjuahana Brass than folk?>

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,glueman skiving
Date: 13 May 10 - 08:33 AM

"doesn't recent Bellowhead material more closly resemble Herb Albert and the Tjuahana Brass than folk"

Only when it's played properly.

There's some confusion between the terms 'singer' and 'songwriter' and the compound 'singer-songwriter' which is a genre of confessional popular music played on acoustic instruments. It doesn't mean anything more or less.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 10 - 08:37 AM

Conrad,
"Reminder that this discussion is not about definition of folk "
Respectfully; in setting the question in the terms you did you have invited comparisons between traditional and contemporary, otherwise, what can possibly be "right" or "wrong" about the composing of new songs? - sorry.
I believe any general question on folk music will inevitably come down to one of definition; no harm as far as I can see, but I sometimes wish we didn't have to start pushing the same ball of shit up the same hill each time.
And btw - folk has nothing whatever to do with age. We were collecting songs that fitted perfectly (certainly my) understanding of folk, from Travellers, that had been made within five years of our having been given them, simply because, certainly up to the mid-seventies, the machinery was still very much in place to process any new song into folk, should it be accepted by the community in which it had been made. Portable televisions put a stop to that within eighteen months.
Similarly, here in the West of Ireland, we were recording songs from old singers which must have been made during their lifetimes and concerning events in this area, yet one thing that was common to all was that it proved impossible to find who had composed them originally.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 13 May 10 - 09:49 AM

"The oral way the songs were passed on guaranteed a flexibilty, a looseness of form which allowed singers to re-make the songs so that Barbara Allen could have come from Scarlet, Scarborough, Reading, Edinburgh.... wherever Town, and the poor feller (or woman) dying from clap could equally be a soldier, sailor, marine, cowboy, whore.... whatever. "

Jim, I'm not arguing against that. I agree with you that the oral tradition allowed for songs to be re-made.

My point is, folk music does not need to rest on that one criteria. There is a reason folk music was created in the community that makes it different from art songs and the like. In modern times, the oral tradition has been replaced - very little can change the progress (a debatable word) that has taken place. However, the need and the community, while altered, still exists. If you examine what some people call the singer-songwriter community, it is not much different from the communities of travelers and the like that have existed for centuries - just the modes have changed.

The process has changed.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 May 10 - 10:23 AM

"However, the need and the community....."
Sorry Ron, the community is no longer involved in either the making nor the transmission of the songs (unless you want to re-define the term 'community', that is).
The population in general have become passive recipients of their culture; it comes ready made as a commodity. It no longer reflects the events of people in the way tradition did; its role being purely entertainment.
You've possibly read me having said this before, but when we started recording Irish Traveller in London in 1973 it was possible to sit around an open fire at night and listen to songs, stories, conversation, deals being done..... this was traditionally the Travellers place of meeting. We broke off work for eighteen months, and when we started up again in 1975 that had disappeared completely; television had totally taken over.
Now, the only place to hear folk songs is in the greehouse conditions of the folk club - not unlike Sharp's drawiong room and conservetoire concerts.
The same happened much earlier here in Ireland, where the country-house kitchen gatherings ceased, first because of the church having taken against unchaperoned gatherings of people, and their co-operation to set up dancehalls (Ballrooms of Romance), and later with television.
People in general no longer appear to need to either make or listen to songs that reflect their lives, which was once the defining factor of the tradition.
Doesn't mean to say we can't go on making nor listening to newly made songs, just that this no longer ha anything to do with 'the folk'.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 13 May 10 - 11:33 AM

Folk Song
By Kim Ruehl, About.com Guide


Definition: The term, "folk song," covers a vast array of musical styles, but is most commonly used to refer to a narrative song that uses traditional melodies to speak on a particular topic. Often, topical folk songs address social and political issues such as work, war, and popular opinion.

Many folk songs have been around so long that nobody is entirely sure who their composers were. Often these songs are passed down within a community, and they evolve over time to address the issues of the day. Such songs include "We Shall Overcome," and "I Shall Not be Moved," as well as other spirituals.

Other timeless folk songs have definite origins, such as Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land," or Pete Seeger's "If I Had A Hammer." These songs are often so poignant, honest, and timeless, that they become enmeshed into the culture, and are known by just about everyone.

Folk songs are typically about a community of people, and the issues they feel are important to them.

Contemporary folk songs cover topics from love and relationships to racism, terrorism, war, voting, education, and religion, among other things.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 13 May 10 - 12:03 PM

"Sorry Ron, the community is no longer involved in either the making nor the transmission of the songs (unless you want to re-define the term 'community', that is).
The population in general have become passive recipients of their culture; it comes ready made as a commodity. It no longer reflects the events of people in the way tradition did; its role being purely entertainment."

Sorry Jim, I have to disagree with the claims you are making about community and a role of pure entertainment. It might be what you have witnessed on your side of the pond, but it is not that way all over.

It is probably comforting to some to have a black or white, yes or no definition of items in their lives, but art and community are not cut and dry. You can attempt to catagorize and fit into formulas, but you end up missing the forest for the trees as the saying goes.

Like it or not, the process does change and is open to interpretation. Rules are questionable.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 13 May 10 - 12:24 PM

There is little in the modern so called "folk festival" that is about transmission any more.
It is all about money and fame.

I could go on for hours on this topic.
Most people who go to festivals are "minimally engaged" nothing wrong with that but performers could do much much more to see to it that their performances had a positive effect on transmission. Festival planners should do a "transmission impact statement" for every activity or performance.

They seem to only be interested in a positive effect on their cd sales and future bookings.

Don't get me wrong I have nothing against commercial performers. I just think they need to monitor their impact upon transmission.

Also. I would not extend this to all performers however, I go to a number of festivals and my experience tells me that transmission could be a lot higher. The perception of the performer is that of an untouchable specialist. The emphasis is on quality of performance not quality of transmission. I would rather someone who "had Songs" perform even though the quality of the performance might not be professional than some recording artist pro.

Part of the problem is that at 57-8 I remember attending festivals and events where those with the songs, the guardians of them from a far commanded the stages. They are all gone almost. These days instead of sitting down with a performer and being offered a shot of whiskey I am only offered a tee shirt or a cd or a concert ticket!

The folk processes (much better as plural) are out there and working just very slowly and often very far away from any organized folk anything.

Yes the folk sprouts new branches buds and flowers. We just have to be willing to recognize them.

I like to think of the ideal in terms of balance. I like to see as many branches buds and flowers as possible. Recently at a green man festival of all the bands celebrating spring and green man traditions, may poll etc....very few had balance. Not one trad UK traditional song was there. Most played new material often fusioned to the gills. Nothing wrong with that but we should try not to negativly influence the older material, its maintenance and transmission.

If visitors leave only entertained without a song in their heads then something is wrong. Unfortunately we have to go from the stage to the written song sheet and into the minds these days but that has worked well for centuries more has to be done with this. I am a strong advocate of hymnals and song sheets that people can use and take with them. Performers need to plan to get off the stage put their feet in the dust and transmit a bit after every performance.

I could go on for volumes.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 13 May 10 - 12:28 PM

"There is little in the modern so called "folk festival" that is about transmission any more.
It is all about money and fame."

Your opinion.

Tell me how many banjo players you see driving BMW's? How many singer-songwriters living in mansions?

I'm sorry you aren't being primed with shots of whiskey these days, but the musicians I know are about sharing and carrying on traditions. I see very little of the selfishness and drive for money and fame - that was a byproduct of the folk revival and the commercial interests.

You can sit on your butt and make observations all you like, but it does not make for reality.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 May 10 - 01:36 PM

"I see very little of the selfishness and drive for money and fame."

Right, Ron! For a couple of decades I made a marginal living between singing and teaching guitar. But if I wanted to live in a luxury condominium and drive a BMW, as Conrad seems to think that's what singers of folk songs are all about, I sure as hell could have picked a far more lucrative field of music!

If I recall previous threads correctly, Conrad actually had to pay once to get into a house concert and he's been bent out of shape about it ever since. He wants it all to be free.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: The Barden of England
Date: 13 May 10 - 01:54 PM

I describe myself as a Troubador. It just so happens I write, play and sing songs, some of my own, some from the tradition that I've played about with. What else should I describe myself as? Not a Wronger of songs that's for sure.
John Barden


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: The Barden of England
Date: 13 May 10 - 01:58 PM

By the way - here's a non folk song - about folk - - - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQb0noDCar8
John Barden


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 May 10 - 02:09 PM

John B., it sounds to me as if you have your head on straight and know exactly what it's all about.

I don't write songs, myself, but since I am urban-born and raised and do not fit the strict definition of a member of "the folk" (rural peasant class, according to Gottfried von Herder, who was first to use the word "folk song" [volkslied]), I don't consider myself a "folk singer," but a singer of folk songs. An appropriated way of thinking of it is as you are doing. As a Troubadour. Or as Richard Dyer-Bennet did. Born in England, the son of a member of the peerage, and schooled in Germany, Canada, and the United States, he refered to himself as a "Minstrel."

Some folks get really upset over distinctions like this, but to me, they make a lot of sense.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 May 10 - 02:25 PM

Conrad:   "Performers need to plan to get off the stage put their feet in the dust and transmit a bit after every performance."

They do!   At the Berkeley Folk Festivals in the early 1960s—$15.00 for five days of workshops and concerts with people such as Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger, Sam Hinton, Sandy Paton, Merritt Herring, Jean Redpath, Jean Ritchie, Almeda Riddle, Joan Baez, Marais and Miranda, Lightnin' Hopkins, Mississippi John Hurt, Alice Stuart, John Lomax Jr., Elizabeth Lomax Hawes, and ethnomusicologist such as Archie Green and Charles Seeger (patriarch of the Seeger family)--in addition to the workshops and concerts, I—and many others—had long, informal conversations with all of these people.

After concerts in Seattle, I've spent lots of time talking with Pete Seeger, on another occasion, Peggy Seeger. Twice with Gordon Bok. Went to after-concert parties with Joan Baez and Barbara Dane.

On two occasions, I've talked after concerts with Richard Dyer-Bennet, and he was full of good advice and encouragement. And during the Seattle World's Fair, the day after his concert, six of us had a chance to sit around and chat for about four hours with Theodore Bikel.

These people have been very generous with their time, and they are interested in what local singers are doing. Several of them asked me (and others) to sing for them, because they wanted to know what we were up to.

And I—and singing friends of mine—pass this on and are very interested in helping others.

Walt Robertson, who gave me my first guitar lessons in 1952, has told me about meeting and talking with Seeger, Dyer-Bennet, Josh White (took some guitar lessons from him), and many others, including Leadbelly and John Jacob Niles. Most of this occured when he was in college in Pennsylvania, and went to the Swarthmore Folk Festivals in the late 1940s.

So, Conrad, within my experience, what you want singers to do, they have been doing at least since well before I first picked up a guitar in 1952.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 13 May 10 - 02:30 PM

`I could go on for volumes.`

No comment.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 13 May 10 - 02:33 PM

100 or 200 years from now, some songs that are being created today will have survived and become "traditional" and/or "folk." Their authorship may or may not have been forgotten by then.

Which category of contemporary songs is likely to yield compositions that will survive a century or two of folk-processing?

1. Popular, commercially-recorded hits?

2. Creations of the much-berated "singer-songwriters" working in the "contemporary folk" or "acoustic folk-rock" genres?

3. Songs written by 21st-century trad-folk performers trying to emulate the style of some earlier time?

I'm just offering this as food for thought. My opinion is reflected in the order in which I wrote the above three proposed categories, but I understand that others will feel differently.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Songbob
Date: 13 May 10 - 02:36 PM

A lot of "singer songwriter" material comes under the rubric my Sidekick Pete Kraemer calls, "I Feel, I Feel" songs -- they're about the emotions of the singer (or whatever persona he/she has put into the song, though most of them are about the singer/writer). To that end, Pete, Joan Sprung and I concocted this (which is a lot like the "Song of Me" posted in a link above).


I Feel, I Feel


I feel I should tell you how I feel, I feel it's important to you.
I'd like to share my inner self; you must listen while I do.
My ruminations solipsistic
You might perceive as narcissistic,
But I think they're mystic   
Don't you? Don't you? Don't you?
   Of course you do.

I feel the pain of every bite, and I feel you should, too.
I bear the stain of every slight -- I'll show them all to you.
These deliberations so dramatic
From my hidden-horrored mental attic
I prefer to spoken social static   
Don't you? Don't you? Don't you?
   Of course you do.

[Bridge]
Oh, I have so much to say, I cannot think of a better way
Than to offer you my song today, and tomorrow, too.
I really feel you'll understand, it's all within a master plan,
You can believe, I know you can, and feel the way I do
....Be do be do...

I feel so in touch with my feelings at last; come walk a mile in my shoes.
I'll show you the place where I keep my face, in a case with a trace of the blues.
I bring these thoughts to you tonight,
My intellect is my delight,
I think I'm captivating, quite!
Don't you? Don't you? Don't you?
   Of course you do.

[Bridge again, of course]
Oh, I have so much to say, I cannot think of a better way
Than to offer you my song today, and tomorrow, too.
I really feel you'll understand, we're all part of a mystic plan,
So reach out for my grasping hand, and feel the way I do
.... Be do be do...

Since childhood days I knew I had the strongest tendency
Toward tuning in the universe, and sensitivity --
These gifts I know are very rare,
I think I've got so much to share --
And modesty beyond compare,
Don't you? Don't you? Don't you?
-- Of course you do!


Copyright ©1996, Bob Clayton, Pete Kraemer, Joan Sprung.

The tune is as monotonous as we could get away with, and the chord structure starts with CM7 / FM7 / CM7 ... and the melody note is the open 1st string. Some parts are intoned in the style of a well-known singer-songwriter with the initials of B.D., and the end of the bridge is as hokey as it looks.

Surprisingly, the song has not become a hit on the singer-songwriter circuit. I wonder why.

What it comes down to is style -- one can write a song and sing it (and for most of us, if we don't sing it, it don't get sung) -- and you're a 'singer-songwriter' if the style is distinguishable from traditional folksong. For example, Woody Guthrie was a singer and songwriter, but not a 'singer-songwriter,' while Tom Petty is a rock singer who writes his own songs, but is also not a 'singer-songwriter' to any great degree. Is Burt Bachrach a 'singwriter' (I got tired of writing it out, so I'm coining a new term)? How about Tom Lehrer?

Essentially, there is a style of music that is simple, folk-like-but-not-traditional, and personal (with an emphasis on the latter term) and not closely linked to rock or pop, that people call 'singwriter' music. The term is broad enough to be confused with 'folksong,' in the same way that people used to consider a 'solo performer with acoustic guitar' = 'folksinger". Cultural labels combined with business labels and even record labels means that terms such as 'singwriter' get tossed around whenever someone doesn't want to get more specific or doesn't know enough to get more specific.

So we have the term, and you'll hear it used many different, and often in diametrically opposed, ways. "Live with it," sez I.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Continuity Jones
Date: 13 May 10 - 02:52 PM

Surprisingly, the song has not become a hit on the singer-songwriter circuit. I wonder why.


I suspect it's because in amongst all your smug self-congratulations you forgot to make the song any good.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 13 May 10 - 02:57 PM

In fairness, there is a great deal of crap in today`s music. The same can rightly be said of the Roud Index. The fact that something is traditional just means it`s traditional--not necessarily goodéwell-written. And that statement of course is my point of view. YOUR mileage may vary.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,glueperson
Date: 13 May 10 - 03:26 PM

As an example of contemporary oral transmission and change I would offer foreign language traditional songs performed by English singers/groups. Intellectual meaning will be lost but the songs remain folk and spread as a set of phonetics and music.

Truly nu-folk.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Bert
Date: 13 May 10 - 05:40 PM

...I suspect it's because in amongst all your smug self-congratulations you forgot to make the song any good...

Oh dear! The whole point of the song is that it IS SUPPOSED TO BE BAD.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Bert
Date: 13 May 10 - 05:50 PM

Getting back to the original question

...Is it right to lump the writers into folk?..

Well of course it isn't. I am a singer of folk songs and also a singer/songwriter.

Naturally, because of my folk singing background, some of my songs are based on folk themes or are deliberately stolen from my folk song repertoire.

My own songs could be classified as Novelty, Bawdy, Social Comment, Country, and Love Songs.

I imagine that many singer/songwriters have similar diversity among their works.

So if you group Singer/songwriters into a category of their own, you would probably find that the most consistent feature of the group would be 'variety'


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Tootler
Date: 13 May 10 - 07:50 PM

Jin Carroll wrote;

Sorry Ron, the community is no longer involved in either the making nor the transmission of the songs (unless you want to re-define the term 'community', that is)

I looked up "community" and found two major general definitions within a dictionary entry.

  1. a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage.


  2. a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists


Jim, you clearly only accept the first definition as valid for defining "community" in the context of the processing of folk songs.

However, others appear to accept the second definition as also being valid in this context. This seems reasonable to me though I accept that others clearly prefer the narrower view. The second definition does explain some of the differences in perspective about folk songs in this thread and others without having to redefine anything.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Continuity Jones
Date: 14 May 10 - 03:42 AM

...I suspect it's because in amongst all your smug self-congratulations you forgot to make the song any good...

Oh dear! The whole point of the song is that it IS SUPPOSED TO BE BAD.


------------


Ah! I missed that. You see, I thought that the whole point of the song was that is IS SUPPOSED TO BE BAD but in an entertaining and humorous way. I didn't realise it was merely SUPPOSED TO BE BAD. My! It certainly achieved it's aim then didn't it? My apologies!


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 10 - 04:18 AM

Tootler,
The first definition you gave is certainly the one that is applied to the music that is, and always has been (since documentation began in 1896) referred to as folk; your second definition invariably comes with a prefix, (religious and scientific feature in my dictionary).
The general definition is the one that has been used up to now to identify and document the songs, music, lore, traditions, dance.... that we have referred to as 'folk'. To use the term to squeeze in your own particular tastes in music is, to my mind rather sleight-of-hand and makes it meaningless (as it has become in some folk clubs).
It's rather like the man who went into a shop to buy apples, and got home to find he had been given tomatoes. When he went back to complain he was told "Well zur, round yere we calls them-uns love apples".
Technically you are right - both of the definitions refer to communities; but it is the general one that identifies the music (and all the other related materials) as folk.
The arbitrary widening of that definition takes away my right to choose what I listen to when I pay at the door of a 'folk' club, or buy an album, or a book carrying the label 'folk'.
The music we refer to as 'folk' came from definite, identifiable origins and it developed a unique form - 'folk music/song/dance/lore/custom' is the label we have used to identfy that form up to now and that term continues in the field of documentation (and in many 'folk' clubs).
Even the communities that produced our folk music have their own definition and literature (The Village Community, Lawrence Gomme (one-time pres. of the Folklore Society), The Farm and The Village, George Ewart Evans... many hundreds more). Works like The Ballad and the Folk (David Buchan); Ballad Country (Madge Elder); The Ballad and the Plough, David Kerr Cameron and Living With Ballads, Willa Muir, not only documented the communities, but also the part played by folk songs in their natural settings.
All of this is what gave us the music I have been listening to as 'folk' for nearly 50 years and which I researched and collected from Travelling, Irish farming, London-Irish and rural English communities for over 30 of those years; a music which was and still is instantly identifiable, both by me and by the people who sang played, talked about and passed on to us.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,glueman at loose
Date: 14 May 10 - 04:33 AM

"To use the term to squeeze in your own particular tastes in music is, to my mind rather sleight-of-hand and makes it meaningless"

Since first tripping over this board I've seen this verbal trick used to exhaustion. It is not a case of squeezing one's own tastes, favourite bands or genres of music in, it's an acknowledgement of terminology in The Wider World.

My own folk tastes are almost exclusively within the tradition, including foreign language traditions but that is neither here nor there if the rest of the world has adopted the term to mean something else. (See 'Gay', 'Nice', etc)
There is no conspiracy.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 10 - 06:42 AM

"It's an acknowledgement of terminology in The Wider World."
Oh dear - one more time - the wider world does not have a terminology. Folk music (certainly in the UK) has passed the wider world without even making a dent in its conciousness. Ask for a definition from the man-in-the-street and you are as likely to get referred to thin singing pullovers of the fifties and sixties, or the Spinners, or Riverdance, or that which was hammered out of the rosewood upright by Miss Pringle in those Blue Remembered Schooldays; all of which have a far greater claim on folk than the navel-gazing introspection that now passes for 'folk song' in clubs.
You may wish to the largely didinterested general public for your information; personally I prefer common-sense and personal experience and research; failing which, I always have the dictionary to fall back on.
If there is a genuine, widely accepted, workable alternative definition, I wonder if you'd care to specify what it is?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,glueperson
Date: 14 May 10 - 07:14 AM

Define common sense. Anyway, got burgled last night, not in the mood for stuck records, trad or not.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 10 - 08:22 AM

Commiserations on your burglary.
Personally I'm not impressed with stuck records at any time, from any quarter.
Common sense = putting what you already know to rational use will do for me.
An alternative, workable and widely accepted alternative definition from anybody would be more than welcome.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 14 May 10 - 09:03 AM

Folk music is music wot`s loved, sung and remembered by folks. AMEN!


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 14 May 10 - 09:05 AM

"An alternative, workable and widely accepted alternative definition from anybody would be more than welcome. "

I don't think you really mean that. Alternative, workable, and widely accepted alternative definitions have already been presented and you have repeatedly turned your nose up for the definition that you have accepted and become comfortable with. You are disregarding any data that does not support your own theories.

We can run this thread to 1000 or more entries, and I fear nothing is going to change. I think the readers will judge for themselves and follow whatever definition they believe.

You aren't wrong in your beliefs Jim, there are just additional philosophies about folk music that you will never accept.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 14 May 10 - 09:40 AM

1. The purpose here is not to put down contemporary easy listening singer songwriters but to give them their own genre within the broad category of folk- just like blues or country under the broadest definition of folk.

2. The reason this is important is that there is a limited amount of media for Traditional Folk and that to share it with a different genre disproportionately makes the traditional folk slice of the pie ever thinner. Contemporary Traditional Sounding singer songwriters I grant a part of that slice but not the Contemporary easy listening Singer songwriters. They have their own slice once the traditional folk slice has been cut. (like blues or country would have a similar size.) A distant cousin rather than a brother.

3. Yes some songs are new some are old but there is something other than age there is style. No matter how old a blues song is it is still blues. If it is written and performed in a traditional manner it is traditional blues. Age has nothing to do with it. If contemporary easy listening singer songwriter music does not quack like a trad folk duck, walk like a trad folk duck it is not a trad folk duck and it should be proud to be what it is and given a place of its own and one not carved out of the places of others.

4. I see lots of musicians that share. I have said that. Often however the sharing is behind the stage with other musicians often behind that snow fence that separates them from the audience. My wide experience tells me that for the most part the musician will take endless time tuning up, deduct that time from the performance time, perform, sell cds, tee shirts, get paid and be on the next bus out of town immediately. There are exceptions however I am seeing festivals become 99.9 % performer providing entertainment to the Crowd and not transmission and efforts at transmission extremely minimal.

When a performer simply entertains without any measures to pass along the music to others he or she is not positivly impacting transmission.
Festivals should make sure that an impact statement is provided by the performer and I mean all of them showing what steps they have taken in their performance or appearance to postivily impact transmission. If this happens on a wide basis we will see more people receiving the music as a part of their memory, lives etc. That will create more demand for a very little investment and will be helping more than recordings or libraries to actively preserve and extend the tradition as it has been for centuries.

The obligation is much more than entertainment when you call it folk.

And yes the opportunity still exists to turn it around-

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jeri
Date: 14 May 10 - 10:23 AM

When it gets to the point where the music has been so far removed from the people that the pedants and archivists have to argue about what those people should and should be singing...

When it gets to the point where, if you move the scene back in time to when the first songs with the words "I wish" or "when I" or just "I" or "me", or "Crying: 'Oh my love's gone, he's the youth I adore
He's gone and I never shall see him no more'", you'd pretty much be working to DESTROY the tradition. This is pretty much what you do if you tell people what they can't sing.

We need songwriters. We need them to provide new songs to get into the stream of the tradition, and we need them to provide entertainment and provoke thought for just right now.

When you start to pick nits and stress semantics, what happens is NOT that the content of radio shows changes. What happens is people quit using the words you're quibbling about. This is why there is fRoots instead of Folk Roots and why WUMB, formerly "Folk Radio" has dropped the "F" word.

The folk tradition includes the beginning (new songs) and the middle (what people sing), and not just the end product (the 'official' Folk Songs).


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 14 May 10 - 10:38 AM

"I see lots of musicians that share. I have said that. Often however the sharing is behind the stage with other musicians often behind that snow fence that separates them from the audience. My wide experience tells me that for the most part the musician will take endless time tuning up, deduct that time from the performance time, perform, sell cds, tee shirts, get paid and be on the next bus out of town immediately. There are exceptions however I am seeing festivals become 99.9 % performer providing entertainment to the Crowd and not transmission and efforts at transmission extremely minimal."

Can YOU share with us what your "wide experience" has been that tells you festivals are not sharing with the audience? I'm guessing you have not been to a real festival in many a year. My experience (I go to 3 or 4 festivals on average each year)has been positive. Ever been to Old Songs? Performers are not sitting behind a tent, they are mingling and sharing with their audience.

Festivals have ALWAYS been about entertainment, and that goes back to the very start. The sharing and education continues.

Conrad, once again you are sharing your opinion as if it were fact. Sitting behind a computer does not count as experience. You are simply sharing your own preconceived notions and trying to create a world that never existed and you cannot give us examples of what you truly consider to be good.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 14 May 10 - 10:43 AM

According to Mick Jagger and Keef; "It's the singer, not the song."

And the singer has a beard....


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Mr Red who has collected songs (as it happen
Date: 14 May 10 - 10:50 AM

Very quaint ideas Mr Red, but rather naive. The folk music of wherever is whatever music comes out of there. The fact it may be modern composed music or older composed music (composed by one or all) is neither here nor there.missed the whole point Old Boy

Folk music is played by folk - participation by definition. Entertainment is consumed by an audience, no participation, Folk style refers.
Folk is not flickaswitch, marketing, or commerce. Commerce makes money out of it and lies about what is and isn't "Folk". If the economy goes belly-up all you have left is participation, and that comes almost for nothing. THEN you all you will have is folk making music and that is why some say it is all folk music, but is it Folk music?

Naive? Schmaive. Read the capitals.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 14 May 10 - 11:01 AM

Ok Mr Red. I hear where you are coming from, but imagine I am commerce. You are the one lying about what is or isn't folk. My interpretation is backed by lots of litigious lawyers which i can afford, because I have to protect my interest. If I say I am right, I can get a judge to back me up. QED.

So, folk music is whatever you want it to be. I bought an Imagined Village album on Amazon recently. They send me emails along the lines of "you bought this so you may be interested in that."

I bought Imagined Village, I was offered Jimmy Shand, Woody Guthrie, the Spinners, Vaughan Williams and (honestly) pan pipes imitating whale songs.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 10 - 11:01 AM

"Alternative, workable, and widely accepted alternative definitions have already been presented"
Sorry again Ron - they haven't; the argument has always been that the existing definition is no longer valid - nothing has been put in its place (other that the over-flogged talking horse one). If this is not the case, humour me and give me your alternative - otherwise we are left with the existing one (unless you want to argue that folk music is undefinable).
"the pedants and archivists have to argue about what those people should and should be singing..."
This really has become very, very tiresome, and not a little dishonest. When and where has anybody ever argued about what people should and should not be singing. This is a totally unfounded accusation which, when challenged, is ALWAYS responded to with silence - I wonder what your response will be.
My, argument, and others who think as I do, has always been that we want to know what I am going to find (and usually pay for) if I go to a folk, or jazz club, or a classical concert, or an opera, or a heavy metal concert... or any other event that gives itself a name, otherwise I am being conned, and the music is being damaged by misrepresentation.
Yes - we need songwriters - that is not at issue here. I've tried (asnd failed) to write songs; I certainly sing newly composed songs, I've been part of workshops on songwriting - helped to set them up even. Even if I had succeeded, I could no more write a folksong than I could an Elizabethan tragedy.
This is simply an argument on what we call our different categories of music - pop, folk, jazz, classical, swing, chamber, rock, - can I assume that, if you object to anybody labelling their music folk, you also object to all other identifying labels, or would this be, as I believe it to be, very, very stupid?
I listen to folk music, I sing folk songs, I read and write about folk music, stories and lore, I've collected it from field singers, musicians and storytellers. They have all hads a word to describe what they have given us, most of them we've met have been pretty insistent on why it is different from other musics - why on earth shouldn't we respect their attitude and accept the importance they attach to it?
Now, qualify your accusation or please withdraw it.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 14 May 10 - 12:56 PM

Yes, I know I'm meant to have retired, but it's quiet moment at the end of the working day...

This is the problem. We all knew where we stood back when the International Council of Officially Sanctioned Singer Songwriters (a coalition of representatives from all over the world... well, the West Coast of America and a few token Canadians) agonised in darkened rooms to come up with the sacred and revered 1971 Definition.

The definition states that to be considered authentic, singer songwriters:
1. Must be introspective, deep and slightly mysterious. Their pain should be at once particular to them yet presented as if it was universal. My pain is your pain. And there must be pain. Lots of it.
2. Must be pretty. Ugly good looking for the guys is even better, so a special sub-category has been devised purely for the Neil Young lookalikes. For the ladies (who should preferably be "of the Canyon") kooky and pretty in a floaty dress earns additional kudos. Female Neil Young lookalikes are to be actively discouraged.
3. Must have spent quality time in David Geffen's hot tub. This is not negotiable.
4. Must be in retreat from all that boring old hippie idealism. Whole Earth Catalogues, a vague belief in pacifism and cosmic forces and a sideline in macrobiotic poetry is permissible. In fact, it should be actively encouraged. Oh... and lots of drugs. If they once lived in a commune but now live in Bel Air they get bonus points. It's the commune that counts, even if they were only there for five minutes.
5. Any political statements in song should either be so vague and oblique as to be meaningless or should be couched in wistful nostalgia for the good old days which thankfully have long gone. Songs about changing the world MUST be in past tense.
6. Within five years of the platinum selling debut album that they never quite manage to pull off again, they should self destruct on a diet of cocaine, ego and rampant paranoia.
7. Five years after the total mental, emotional and physical breakdown, they should re-emerge from rehab wide-eyed, squeaky clean, strangely plasticised and slightly scary, to spend the next thirty years making increasing bland, tasteful albums that sell by the bucketload but contain not a single memorable tune.
8. If the "do a Joni" and start "messin' with all that jazz shit" they shall be ejected from the inner sanctum with immediate effect.
9. At some point they must make a self indulgent and frankly tedious country rock album with various ex-members of the Eagle, Poco, the Byrds or the New Riders of the Purple Sage.

Now then... the problem is that no-one takes a goddamned scrap of notice of the 1971 Definition any more! These days, ANYONE with an acoustic guitar who write their own songs and sings them themselves seems to have the audacity to pass themselves off as a singer songwriter! It simply isn't on. Since when, I ask you, was being a singer songwriter simply about writing and singing your own songs? The singing and writing shouldn't even come into it! These modern guys and gals are so literal! Let's put this to rest with the one eternal truth: if it ain't Sweet Baby James it ain't worth a damn...


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: glueman
Date: 14 May 10 - 01:26 PM

"Folk music is played by folk - participation by definition. Entertainment is consumed by an audience, no participation"

I can dig that. It does of course mean that if there's no chorus it ain't folk. No shushing, no quiet reverence. It's popular entertainment with beards.

Good definition - you join in it's folk, you don't it's not.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Bert
Date: 14 May 10 - 01:43 PM

LOL Spleen Cringe.

I don't qualify. I guess I'll never make it to Nashville now.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 14 May 10 - 01:47 PM

I do not think that some management of the folk world is a bad thing.

If left to consumers to dictate the fate of music then one is bound to trends rather than good practices.

From my position with my interests I like to think that keeping the largest number of songs from the available archive in the heads of living people is the most important task. Books recordings and libraries often fail and through time the human mind and encorporation of music into the lifeway is a good bet.

I dont think that new material should be dropped but simply that we take the time to do affirmative action for the older materials where possible, More of an equal share or reasonable proportion.

This also does not mean forcing people to play what they dont want to play but rather making sure there is a place for those who do want to play it.

As for the market deciding well it is hard to select a music i.e. traditional if it is not available- if no one knows it is there and in some festival contexts one has to look quite hard to find it these days again it depends on the festival.

The other important aspect is transmission. There are simple things performers and organizers can do to maximize transmission. These days the only thing maximized is entertainment with exceptions here or there and even with big crowds large venues and dependence upon electronics one even doubts that the quality of the experience can be anything like what folk requires to be at its best. People will barely notice the tweeks made to ensure better transmission and they will not loose the entertainment value.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 14 May 10 - 01:51 PM

I attend with few exceptions all the major and minor festivals including these days faire festivals in the baltimore washington area either every year or every third year budget as it is and have been doing it for decades however this year I may not get to the major virginia one as I have a conflict.

As I already stated - there are exceptions possibly in more rural areas and at the smaller fesivals.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 14 May 10 - 01:54 PM

Yes don there are exception

Then again I am talking non performing not yet singing public not established singers I mean performers sitting down with ordinary audience folk in small groups not formal workshops either just hanging out. Yes some places this happens other places it does not.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 14 May 10 - 02:53 PM

You know, Conrad, I really don't recognize the world that you are describing, and I wonder if it is folk festivals that you are attending or something else.

Essential parts of every folk festival I have ever attended or participated are both performances and workshops. The workshops usually involve a number of people who perform folk songs, and in the various workshops offered at festival, these performers (many whom make their living singing concerts and such) and experts (such as song collectors and ethnomusicologists) discuss any and all aspects of folk music, with many of the workshops for the purpose of teaching songs and how to perform them to anyone who wants to attend the workshop. As a young, aspiring performer, I learned a great deal from the many workshops that I attended. Now, I participate—with other performers— in giving workshops so that others may learn, and hopefully, benefit from my experience.

Conrad, this is a common practice in all fields of music. A famous cellist gave a concert in Seattle recently, and a cello-playing friend of mine attended a two-day workshop/master class given by this cellist. Some years ago, I attended a week-long workshop given in Seattle by classic guitar teacher Aaron Shearer, and a few years later, attended a master class given by classic guitar virtuoso Pepe Romero.

This sort of thing is a common practice among many performers includingespecially—singers of folk songs.

What you are asking for is already being done, and has been for a very long time.

Don Firth

P. S. And passing out song sheets at a concert is both inappropriate and unnecessary. Have you ever seen a Pete Seeger concert? He doesn't need any song sheets to get an entire audience singing along like a trained choir within a few minutes after he starts. And as far as learning the songs, Conrad, you do have to do some of the work yourself! The vast majority of the songs that I know (a few hundred, enough to sing several full concerts in a row without repeating any songs) I have learned from song books (of which there are many hundreds) and recordings of other singers.

So--spend a buck. Buy a few records and a song book or two. Learn songs from them like most people do.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 14 May 10 - 02:55 PM

"qualify your accusation or please withdraw it"

Wow. I feel that if you wrote another next line you would challenge me to a duel! Swords or pistols? Ouch!!

Let's get down to earth here. There are NO accusations, just observations.

You ask me to define, and I if you re-read the various posts that have been made you will realize I already did.   Short of drawing pictures, I'm not sure what else is needed.

I AM NOT DISAGREEING WITH YOUR DEFINITION OF FOLK MUSIC.   I am only interpreting the 1954 as it is written. The words "transmission" and "community" are a reflection of the time in which it was written and the modes available at the time. If you examine our current communities and technology that has impacted it, you will discover changes have occured.    Folk music is a living tradition.

"This is simply an argument on what we call our different categories of music - pop, folk, jazz, classical, swing, chamber, rock, - can I assume that, if you object to anybody labelling their music folk, you also object to all other identifying labels, or would this be, as I believe it to be, very, very stupid?"

Could I check your reading glasses? That is a very, very stupid question to ask. I'm not objecting to catagories, I'm objecting to allowing the catagories to limit us - according to the topic of this thread that Conrad stated in his first post. As you stated, there is a need for songwriters.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 14 May 10 - 03:07 PM

Cross posted.

That, also, is common practice. As I said someplace above, about six of us sat around with Theodore Bikel for about four hours the day after his concert. We all learned a lot.

Early on, several people and I spent several hours with Pete Seeger. I had similar sessions with Richard Dyer-Bennet on two occasions. Spent an afternoon swapping songs and guitar licks with Guy Carawan. He made some suggestions as to songs he thought I could do well, which I then learned. Many other occasions with many other singers.

As I have said repeatedly, this sort of thing already happens!

By the way, you say, "I do not think that some management of the folk world is a bad thing."

And who do you suggest should do this management?

I might suggest that if "the folk world" is being "managed," it would no longer be the folk world.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 14 May 10 - 03:17 PM

"I might suggest that if "the folk world" is being "managed," it would no longer be the folk world."

Very well said Don! The study of "folk music" should be observational and the participants should not be coerced into creating something that is not a natural occurance.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 14 May 10 - 03:35 PM

Much in nature is best managed


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 14 May 10 - 03:36 PM

by nature itself


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 14 May 10 - 03:38 PM

Some folks would do well to read the Canadian government study on which Farley Mowat based `Never Cry Wolf`. Humans are managing the Amazon rain forest. I`ll remember that when we run out of air.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 14 May 10 - 04:05 PM

Willful thread drift warning

Spleen! - how's the allotment going?

Pete.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 10 - 04:36 PM

"Could I check your reading glasses?"
Ron - reading glasses in the post - can I expect yours by return?
The quotes with which you took umbridge (never had to spell that one - is it right?) were not addressed to you; they were addressed to Jeri, the lady/gent who made the accusations in quotation marks. It was him/her I asked to substantiate the accusations or withdraw them - not you, Didn't get a response, or really expect one - nothing new there.
I suspect, based on previous posts of yours I have followed with interest, that our differences are not great and we would both be happy to live and let live with our own opinions and tastes - the stumbling block seems to be 'to define or not to define' and the relevance of the only existing definition (if nobody can come up with an alternative).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 14 May 10 - 04:46 PM

My sincere apologies Jim. I did take umbrage and I should not have written my remarks in kind. In all honesty, I do need new glasses!

You are absolutely right, our difference are not great - I agree with you more than you realize. I really agree about the need for a definition too, just that I feel there is interpretation involved in ANY definition.   Our only difference is that I find the "tradition" is still alive and that the existing definition does fit if you look at changes in transmission and community.

As I said earlier, I have deep admiration and thanks for the work you have done and at no time have I meant any disrespect for the tradition.   On my radio program I enjoy showing the connections between the past and the present, and I hope I entertain as I try to offer some education mixed in as well.   I'm still learning as a student of folk music.

Once again, my sincere apologies for my snippy retort.   I do not change my views, but I regret my delivery.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 14 May 10 - 05:02 PM

Jeri is a lady in the best sense of the word. She is mostly a tradite, although she wanders into other kinds of music and writes some absolutely beautiful songs. FYI.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 14 May 10 - 07:12 PM

""I am stupid enough to believe this. Sure, we may not see it as a traditional song right at this moment,""

With respect, that is precisely the point.

It is not, and cannot be a traditional song at this time.

The composer has not written, and cannot write, a traditional song.

He writes a song, and if it is good enough to be sung and remembered by a sufficient number of people, it may in the fullness of time be considered traditional, or it may not, but since nobody can know which songs may or may not qualify, it cannot be traditional now.

Since I tend to write very much in the traditional style, I wish it weren't so, but it is.

I wouldn't dream of claiming that any of my songs are traditional, because that would be a lie.

Ask John Conolly about "Fiddler's Green", and he will tell you that the traditional tag which has been applied to it is the result of recording companies using it in compilations, and trying to avoid copyright issues, which rather destroys the use of that song to bolster false assertions of traditional status.

Don T


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 14 May 10 - 07:32 PM

""Some modern songs fall into these categories and can be considered "Classics" or folk songs of the future.""

No Darowyn, they can't. They can only be considered "Classics" in the future, and then only if they have proved memorable enough to survive.

Same goes for "Traditional".

"Folk songs"?....Well Iwould concede that one, but you'll find many here that won't.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 14 May 10 - 07:39 PM

""Folk works for singer songwriter but I would argue only for the
Traditional Singer Songwriter style
rather than the
Contemporary or "easy listening" Singer Songwriter Style
""

And there you have it Conrad.

In one single sentence you have knocked the legs out from under your assertion that singer/songwriter is a genre.

Q.E.D.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 14 May 10 - 07:39 PM

Don, you may be the most difficult man with whom to argue with when you post like that. There are about five people on Mudcat who never need sarcasm, and IMO you're one of 'em. With respect,

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 14 May 10 - 08:01 PM

You have taught me a valuable lesson 999.

Your point is well taken,and I shall endeavour to restrain that tendency.

I hope you won't hold it against me if I slip occasionally.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Bert
Date: 14 May 10 - 08:17 PM

...the relevance of the only existing definition (if nobody can come up with an alternative)...

Well Dick's definition in this thread has served us Mudcatters for quite a while now.

http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=639#1792


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Betsy
Date: 14 May 10 - 08:24 PM

Where would folk clubs be without singer song writers eg Cyril Tawney, Richard Thompson, Tom Paxton , Vin Garbutt - the list is endless.
Where would they be ? their heads would be up their own arses.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 14 May 10 - 09:22 PM

I am seldom humbled, but I am now. Thanks, Don.

PS I hope someday to make some music with you, even if only via internet.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 May 10 - 03:29 AM

"I'm still learning as a student of folk music."
I hope we all are - no apology necessary.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 15 May 10 - 07:59 AM

seegers method of lining out the songs is better than most but it is tedious when compared with songsheets- just like the early ballads try it it works very well


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 15 May 10 - 08:02 AM

the
Contemporary or "easy listening" Singer Songwriter Style""

you missed it.....this is a genre and distinct from others


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 15 May 10 - 09:10 AM

"you missed it.....this is a genre and distinct from others "

There is no single genre of "folk". Folk is diverse and you cannot pinpoint any single style as representative of "folk".

If you are trying to separate singer-songwriters, you might as well single out sea-chanties with the same reasoning.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jeri
Date: 15 May 10 - 09:37 AM

Style of performance, not genre of music, and it's awfully long to put on a record bin, or announce on a radio program. Plus, if the band "Krunchnutz" does a punked-out version of Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline", it flat-out is NOT "easy listening" anymore.

Therefore, it really is the style in which the music is performed and not the music itself.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: glueman
Date: 15 May 10 - 10:01 AM

The folk process in action...

The Music of the People


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 15 May 10 - 10:15 AM

genre sub genre style ok you know what I mean
category
the question is in or out of Folk
part of singer songwriter is more firmly in folk
one part is outside
the part outside needs its own category just as in the broadest definitions blues and country could be considered folk we still recognized that they are their own categories peripherally folk

one wonders why the easy listening contemporary singer songwriters dont take part of space allocated to jazz blues or country but insist on being folk instead.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: olddude
Date: 15 May 10 - 10:26 AM

my definition of my own music is ... "an old guy that writes song and sings em"

that is what I said at the last performance I did


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 15 May 10 - 10:31 AM

No, it does not need it's own category anymore than any of the other subgenres. You've already given it your own catagory, so what more do you want? Audiences understand the difference, they enjoy what parts they enjoy.

You have yet to make a convincing argument and only repeat your initial statement with different words. Let's move on.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 15 May 10 - 12:38 PM

""genre sub genre style ok you know what I mean
category
the question is in or out of Folk
""

We do indeed know what you mean, and you are wrong in almost every particular.

""part of singer songwriter is more firmly in folk
one part is outside
the part outside needs its own category just as in the broadest definitions blues and country could be considered folk we still recognized that they are their own categories peripherally folk
""

This is purest nonsense.

There are many parts, one for each musical genre, sub genre, or category, because there are singer/songwriters in each and every one.

How many times do we have to point that out before you get it?

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 15 May 10 - 01:58 PM

don t
its not that singer songwriters are not everywhere this is true

a style, of contempoerary introspective for lack of a better word easy listening singer songwriters not sounding like traditional folk at all have pushed their way into our limited traditional folk record bins and limited media and festival space

I wish to uplift them to their own status and like blues and country they can have their own shows and festivals and even maybe the grande olde easy listening singer songweriter music hall.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: glueman
Date: 15 May 10 - 02:05 PM

Where did easy listening get in? Vibrant modern folk in a traditional idiom rarely has an easy lyric. If it doesn't break your heart or make you jump for joy it's probably just a bad folk song, whenever it was written.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 15 May 10 - 02:51 PM

I bring before this august committee of music lovers the case of a beautiful song named--in English--``Silent Night.`` Both authors are know. It is as folk as folk can get. Heck, even Bon Jovi took a shot at it.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: olddude
Date: 15 May 10 - 03:08 PM

Since the writing comes before any singing shouldn't it be
songwriter/singer ?   LOL


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Smokey.
Date: 15 May 10 - 04:08 PM

Here's a horse singing:

(Click)

Jump to 7m 45s..


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 16 May 10 - 12:49 AM

"a style, of contempoerary introspective for lack of a better word easy listening singer songwriters not sounding like traditional folk at all have pushed their way into our limited traditional folk record bins and limited media and festival space"


I've heard this arguement before. Does it occur to you that the reason singer-songwriters "pushed their way" into folk record bins, media and festivals is because the community evolved and with that the tastes and needs evolved.

Sure, you can say that because of this change, people are ignoring traditional music.   Are they really? From what I'm seeing, the following for traditional music (in all the diverse styles that can be considered traditional) is still strong and people support it to the level they choose.

You have to remember that 50 or 60 years ago when there was a huge commercial interest in all things traditional, the success created the singer-songwriters who would create songs that could not found in the canons of the various traditions.   The initial interest in traditional music came about because there was a need to preserve these songs, and the popular music of the day did not serve the needs that some ears were looking for.

Interest in traditional folk music has STRONGLY influenced popular culture and we should be rejoicing that it is no longer unusual to see guitars on television or hear songs that deal with real life situations. The influence of the folk revival can still be felt, and there is NO danger of losing what preserved - and there is no danger of losing what continues to be created by a new community.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 16 May 10 - 01:48 AM

While I admit that I still find the occasional great new song, my complaint is that every singer is now being pressured to write his or her own songs. And every great songwriter is pressured to sing his or her own songs. This means that nobody is doing anybody else's songs, no matter how great they are. The entertainment "business" now consists of a glut of (mostly bad) songs that nobody else will ever do other than the singer-songwriter who wrote it.

Hence, our landfills are starting to overflow with songs, and we are suffering from serious song pollution. The solution?   Stop writing songs and instead look for great ones that have already been written and recycle it.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 16 May 10 - 05:27 AM

All this tosh around pedantic interpretation of sheer semantics.

Folk is what you think it is. Singer / songwriter can conjure up whatever you want it to conjure up.


You know what? You are right. And so is the guy writing the exact opposite.

They are subjective terms so make excellent subjects for people to claim they hold the holy grail.

If you feel so strongly that you know what a singer / songwriter is. If your interpretation of folk is so precious you are willing to push the point... may I make a suggestion?

Try getting out a bit more.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 16 May 10 - 07:28 AM

Ron-

Our job is to be above constantly shifting sands of public opinion and the demand of the market and make sure that the treasures of folk music are protected and kept in the arena. A little intervention. Just their fair space. They can not go on to inspire and enrich if they are not heard and now that the floodgates are open allowing contemporary easy listening singer songwriter music an exceedingly large portion of air time and venue time traditional folk has to make due with minimal space.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 16 May 10 - 10:07 AM

Conrad - I think you are missing the picture.   If we were to go with public opinion, we would not be sharing singer-songwriters or traditional folk. Watch "American Idol" or listen to commercial radio and you won't hear much of either.   

You are asking for "fair space". No problem with that, but in the real world that "fair space" is not "free space". Fair space is providing equal OPPORTUNITY for a product (in this case music) to be shared and consumed. Water finds its own level and audiences discover their own music.

When the folk revival began, there were far LESS opportunities to hear this music. Radio offered little, the recording industry was NOT offering extensive traditional releases and the general public was not aware of folk music. Individuals sought out this music and collected their own - sharing with friends and eventually the commerical interests took notice and nearly ruined it for all.

Today, we reap the benefits of the past. I could spend 10 minutes and download hundreds of traditional songs and tunes - for free. I see more and more CD's of traditional music available than ever before - I would say more than when LP's were in fasion. Because of lower costs of production, CD's are able to be released without the huge expense of LP's, and the opportunties are out there.

You fall into the trap of believing what inspired and enriched your life (as well as mine and many of the posters Mudcat) should equally inspire and enrich the lives of future generations IN THE SAME FASHION.   You fail to realize that the singer-songwriters that you brush off as "easy listening" are creating the same inspiration and enriching the lives of others in EXACTLY THE SAME FASHION that your life was enriched in the previous century. The quality of writing, the subject matter AND the place in the lives of the community they are part of is probably higher than it has ever been.

The sky is not falling. Traditional music is alive and well.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 May 10 - 12:06 PM

I refuse to contribute to this thread as it was started by the Idiot-non-savant.

But if people would bother to understand what "folk song" or "folk music" meant they might stand a chance of a dialogue.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 16 May 10 - 12:28 PM

No folk music radio in the DC md area these days. I listen only to BBC
and no I am not getting a digital radio

listening to the bbc programming I find that it is getting to be 2/3 singer songwriter contemporary and fusion thats only 1/3 traditional performance or less- perhaps I should do the stats no I just enjoy what I can....


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 16 May 10 - 12:35 PM

The other thing is that everything is bigger everything is on line and accessible in a larger way still I dont see lots of trad folk venues springing up all over the place here in Maryland- the ones that were there are shutting down and getting prohibitively expensive- so if people are doing things right and properly transmitting the folk musical culture then the picture should be much different so then whats wrong if all is ok.? I suppose where you are everyone in the mall is humming one of the grand airs of connemara and border ballads are being performed in all the fast food places....


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 16 May 10 - 12:48 PM

Conrad - you want everything, you just do not want to pay for it. What you fail to realize is that you have what you need already.

Why would you want a mall to be playing border ballads? What purpose would that serve?

At one point folk music was a participatory form of entertainment, but you seem to wish it to enter the commercial mainstream but you do not want to subject it to the changes that would occur to do so.   Folk music is right where it always has been. IF you wish to find it as a commercial source of entertainment, it is there - you just have to pay for it. If you want to save your nickels and dimes, simply make the music the way it always has been done.   You cannot have your cake and eat it too if you think the way you do.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 16 May 10 - 12:50 PM

Bien dit, Monsieur Olesko. Bien dit!


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: glueman
Date: 16 May 10 - 12:52 PM

Is it the case that songwriters in the folk idiom aspire for their work to pass into the tradition? That's never been my impression.

If we remove the necessity for change and emphasise widespread adoption there are any number of popular songs that meet the criteria. If we take away adoption and stress change there are numerous football songs that fit the bill.
I don't believe singer-songwriters are awaiting immortality, I reckon they'd like to be paid well for their talent and failing remuneration, would like to hear other people perform their work.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 16 May 10 - 06:39 PM

Ron fact is that it is not entering either tradition commercial or other it is held back by a few who simply want to dillute it in the name of evolution. Not necesary. You can have trad participatory as well as commercial versions.

Look at the breakfast cerial isle in your supermarket. Each one of those products no matter how terrible are sold. Trouble is that folkies do not want things to expand and wont demand that people learn how to play traditionally.

Fusion and excessive adaptations are not progress they are full retreat and dumbing down.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 16 May 10 - 06:57 PM

Sorry Conrad, no one is holding anything back. We do have trad participatory and singer-songwriter.

You are focusing on an issue that does not exist.   The real question is "how do we introduce more people to traditional music?"   Instead of writing diatribes about what it isn't, spend time constructively and talk about what is good about traditional music. Not happy with with a clubs decision to avoid trad music?   Get off your ass and start your own? Can't do it? Then you have no one to blame but yourself.

There is no "dumbing down". You are dead wrong.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 16 May 10 - 07:13 PM

Ron the issue is not if we have them or not but why there is not sufficient growth.

We introduce more people to traditional music by making it more available and not dumbing it down.

We have three or four annual events here at the Center for fawkesian pursuits = free for all no money involved numbers ranging from 120 to 20 and growing. Trad music as well as foods as well as traditions available to anyone who turns up rain or shine. FREE

It is easier to water down a tradition than to maintain it.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 16 May 10 - 07:21 PM

A song speaks for itself.    It is its own category.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 16 May 10 - 07:30 PM

"Ron the issue is not if we have them or not but why there is not sufficient growth.

We introduce more people to traditional music by making it more available and not dumbing it down."

But you just showed an example of how it is growing and how you are not dumbing it down. How can you turn around and say the opposite when you give us proof that your statement is wrong???

You are repeating yourself again Conrad. No one is dumbing it down. You fail to explain why people were drawn to trad music in the first place, which we discussed a few hours ago. When the need and interest arises, it will be as popular as it needs to be.

The sky is not falling.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 May 10 - 08:30 PM

Conrad:    ". . . folkies do not want things to expand and wont demand that people learn how to play traditionally."

WHAT!??

This makes no sense whatsoever.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 16 May 10 - 09:23 PM

Just watched Hee Haw on RFD

Reminded me that there is no form of folk programming on cable at all unless it is an ancient rerun

I suppose that is because what has been done for 20-30 years has been great stuff

not to say that hee haw is trad folk but it is closer in some aspects than much.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 16 May 10 - 09:49 PM

So you consider Hee Haw folk, but you do not see "singer-songwriters" as folk.   Interesting logic.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 May 10 - 10:51 PM

Hee Haw.

Hmm. . . .

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 May 10 - 03:43 AM

". . . folkies do not want things to expand "
MacColl was the archetype 'finger-in-ear' folkie - the term referred to his and others' (and millenia of traditional singers) practice of cupping the hand over the ear to stay in pitch.
Yet, while introducing many hundreds of traditional songs onto the scene, including 137 Child ballads, he wrote more contemporary songs than any single revival singer and encouraged the writing of new songs to the extent of running songwriting workshops.
Peggy Seeger, (another finger-in-earer) published New City Songster, which ran into twenty odd editions and several hundred songs, to promote songwriting.
A little different from your avarge S.Ser, who carefully puts a little (c) next to his/her song to ascertain that it will always be 'their' composition, and never that of the folk.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 17 May 10 - 04:31 AM

I try to put that Little thing (like a c inside an o)on my stuff.
I thought it just meant that If there was gonna be any money available at some point I might get some.
It doesn't seem to stop other people performing said stuff,and changing it to suit themselves.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 May 10 - 04:51 AM

"I try to put that Little thing (like a c inside an o)on my stuff."
I agree with you Tim - I was making a point about the ownership of the song - yours and not folk - not a criticism.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 17 May 10 - 05:36 AM

""Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT* - PM
Date: 15 May 10 - 08:02 AM

the
Contemporary or "easy listening" Singer Songwriter Style"

you missed it.....this is a genre and distinct from others
""

NO! IT ISN'T!

There are plenty of easy listening performers out there who have never put two words together or composed a bar of music.

The GENRE is "Easy listening"

The singer songwriter part of it, is simply an example of songs within that genre which are original compositions by the performer. It is not a genre, nor even a sub genre.

Why do you, in the face of all the evidence presented, persist in sustaining a totally untenable position.

Don T.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 17 May 10 - 08:16 AM

hey don whats the evidence

If I can separate it out as a genre in a darkened room from folk then its a genre.

Contemporary easy listening singer songwriter

for lack of a better term

it has been pointed out that it does not sound like folk just doesnt just like country, jazz, blues, Bluegrass

Ok if you want sub genres depending on how you define folk wide or narrow. It is not trad sounding however.

If anything it is personal confession, introspective whine sounding


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 17 May 10 - 08:19 AM

as for

©



The rule is remembered thusly:

C circle see all let it be!


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 17 May 10 - 08:27 AM

I see what you mean JC. Did any of the collectors publishers of folk as per the definition you apply take any thing from their work?


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 17 May 10 - 08:31 AM

Hee Haw has more folk music than you will find on any other broadcast program. Some good guitar and banjo and in some instances some very good folk humor some of it quite old. Also country but new , at the time country, that sounded like country not some sort of other singer songwriter forms that sound nothing like country. These extreme contemporary easy listening forms dont get on country shows but they sneak into folk programming and imho shouldn't.

As for the "nothing is wrong with the way things are and have been" well that is not good. Folk music must have a bigger place in the market and it would if people kept it straight and promoted it properly in the proper presentation settings. We can not rest until the treasures we are the caretakers of and have stored on line and in books and libaries are in the minds and souls of the people at large as they have to be for the best shot at preservation.

I have yet to see anything resembling folk music coming out of the extra loud speakers of the hundreds of cars that pass me daily. It is not in the malls, It is under represented in the record bins of best buy it is not on local radio.

So I guess that minimal market penetration is great and as it should be? Sure. It means fewer folk musicians are employed as well. Fewer instruments are sold fewer cds are sold.

Why?

Because simply for the past several decades people have been doing something wrong. Demand for music does not evolve on its own any more than the demand for an antacid- demand is created by effective manipulation of the market place, teaching and effective transmission at festivals. At festivals you get effective entertainment and that should not be confused with transmission.

When you embrace the view that folk is all things then you confuse the issue for the listener they cant find the folk for the clutter adding to the other existing problems blocking transmission and narrowing the market place.

Yes at one level it is perfectly reasonable to employ the definition that everything created by a human being is therefore folk. However using that paradigm you can never solve the problems we need to solve to fulfill our obligations as caretakers of the traditions.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 17 May 10 - 02:03 PM

I've heard a lot of commercial country music on "Hee Haw," but damned little folk music!!

Conrad, following on Jim Carroll's comments about Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger's efforts to spread enthusiasm for singing traditional and related songs, how do you explain Pete Seeger's constant urging people to sing folk songs and if so moved, pick up a portable musical instrument and learn to play it? Pete went so far as to write "How to Play the 5-String Banjo" and "The Folk Singer's Guitar Guide," both of which have companion instruction records.

Elizabeth Lomax Hawes used to teach folk guitar techniques to classes of up to 60 people at a time. Frank Hamilton (who posts here as Stringsinger) was a co-founder, along with Win Stracke, of the Old Town School of Music in Chicago.

Locally, Bob Nelson taught folk guitar classes in Everett some forty miles north of Seattle and I taught folk guitar classes three evenings a week here in Seattle. I know that such classes were being taught all over the country by people who were, at the same time, active performers of folk music.

Really, Conrad, you need to get out more, and while you're out, look around!!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 17 May 10 - 02:18 PM

Lots of exceptions of course don and good ones but not a national trend

you need to listen to a bit more hee haw catch it on cable rfd station.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 17 May 10 - 02:53 PM

Conrad, if you had been around during the first half of the 1960s, you would have heard folk music—i.e.The Kingston Trio, The New Christy Minstrels, Peter Paul and Mary, Trini Lopez, Jimmy Rodgers, The Gateway Singers, Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney, Peter Davey, Daniel Widdon, Harry Hawk, Old Uncle Tom Cobbley and all pouring out of juke boxes, the windows of passing automobiles, in elevators, and gawd knows where all else!!

Most of this was very slick and quite commercial, and gave a rather warped impression to the general public about what folk and traditional music is really like. I'm not that all-fired sure that presenting folk music in that manner is a good thing. Besides, that put folk music into the general tides of popular music, which meant it was subject to "Tin Pan Alley" commercialism, general market forces, and the vicissitudes of popular taste, in which all things are subject to obsolescence and ultimate replacement by something else.

And that's exactly what happened. The so-called folk music revival of the Sixties was swamped and replaced by what became known as "The British Invasion" with The Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Petula Clark, Gary and the Pacemakers, et al.

The main good that the "Folk Music Revival" of the 1960s accomplished was that it got a percentage of people interested in actual folk music. I have former guitar students who came to me for lessons because they had heard Peter Paul and Mary and wanted to play guitar like Peter Yarrow and sing songs like "500 Miles" and "Leaving on a Jet Plane." But when popular, commercial "folk music" faded in the shadow of The Beatles, some of them went on (with a little nudging from me) to investigate the records of singers like Doc Watson or Jean Ritchie. I have several students who went on to become quite accomplished performers of traditional folk music, and some of them are teaching.

Except for blips like the 1960s "Folk Music Revival" (or "The Great Folk Scare"), folk music is like an underlying stream. It's always there and does not need promotion or "management" or people trying to steer it this way or that.

It is—and always has been—best to let if follow its own course.

And if you want to hear folk music pouring out of speakers, go buy some records!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 May 10 - 02:59 PM

"Did any of the collectors publishers of folk as per the definition you apply take any thing from their work?"
Not sure I understand your question Tim; if you mean amatures like us, certainly not; though we did make sure we had full agreement from the singers before we did anything with the recordings other than archive them.
Personally, we were in a position were we could not afford to be seen making money from what we did so, again with the agreement of the singers, we signed over all royalties to organisations such as The Irish Traditional Archive in Dublin so that they were ploughed back into the music. I'm pretty sure other collectors, such as Mike Yates adopted a similar attitude.
There have been accusations that some collectors made a considerable sum by selling (and copyrighting) their recodings - I only know for certain of one case where this happened.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 17 May 10 - 08:15 PM

Conrad, to get a clue as to what it's all about, you might get a copy of The Rainbow Quest, by Ronald D. Cohen, University of Massachusetts Press (2002) and read it.

And here's another clue:   The Hee Haw shows that RFD cable is running are reruns from as far back as nearly forty years ago. The show first aired in 1969.

It was a comedy show and featured "country" music, which is more of a Nashville invention than traditional American folk music, along with a whole bunch of screwin' around in the corn field. Co-hosts were Buck Owens and Roy Clark, and they had a lot of guest stars passing through, such as Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Merle Haggard, and Dolly Parton, not to mention people like Regis Philbin and Sammy Davis Jr., along with occasional visitations by Loretta Lynn.

It is hardly what much of anybody who is interested in American folk music would think of as "American folk music."

Really!

And, yes, I did watch a lot of the shows back in the early 1970s. Some good country music when they weren't spraying corn out of their ears, but that was pretty funny. The show started as a summer replacement for The Smothers Brothers Show.

I didn't mistake it for "folk music," nor did many other people.

Are you sure you know folk music when you hear it?

And this "easy listening" label that you keep tossing around is a category primarily invented by radio stations that play, essentially, background music, which is to say, music that allows you to have some jolly pleasant noise in the background to drown out the sound of the termites eating away the support beams of your house, but not so obtrusive and you have to pay any attention to it. Also it's usually so bland that it doesn't detract from the four-minute commercial breaks that come every eleven minutes.

I would not like to see folk music be used as "easy listening" music. If you want to spark peoples' interest in folk music, trying to use it for "easy listening" is a completely bass-ackwards way of going about it. Downright counterproductive, in fact!

How do I know this? In the early 1970s, I broke into broadcasting by working for a year as a board announcer in an "easy listening" radio station before I got a job as an announcer at a classic music station. As a result of these broadcasting jobs, I learned quite a bit about categories and genres of music because I had to check the labels on record bins and on the record library shelves to find the music I was looking for to play on the air.

If you want to listen to folk music, you would stand a much greater chance if you turn off Hee Haw and try surfing the various college-sited radio stations and NPR affiliates (often one and the same). You can find them by dial-twisting on your radio, or if that fails, many of them stream live on the internet. Many of them play a fair amount of folk music. Genuine traditional folk music. There is such a station where I live. The station also plays what they refer to as "contemporary folk," which is "singer-songwriter" material. But the announcers usually make it clear which is which.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 17 May 10 - 08:48 PM

I was born in 53 so am familiar with those performers.

Much of the highly introspective whining that is not traditional sounding, muttering into a coffee cup contemporary singer songwriter fits your definition perfectly and that is why it is not folk traditional or even close. You can listen to it while having a root canal- white noise neutral like someone crying in the corner but a bit too far away about something that is really inconsequential.....

Undercurrent....always will be there....not where my music should be.
Traditional music like all other music needs to find stability. The ups and downs are hard on it creating loss, necessitating costly re-discovery. When I find a song in some obscure place I want it played and not pre-empted by some trendy hardly folk anything substitute.

I do not know why people are content to simply pretend that folk music has a life of its own. Actually it is a wonder that it has survived. If not for a select few of persistent individuals picking it up and giving it life when almost dead it would be gone now.

Even though you may still believe it is still there will be there does not need hope is there really anything wrong with bringing it to a higher level and bigger audience? Not really imho.

Leaving it be seems to me to be an excuse rather than a purposeful helpful response.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 17 May 10 - 09:23 PM

Perhaps you will find my creative piece on Contemporary folk festivals of interest.

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

Contemporary Folk Festivals


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 17 May 10 - 10:12 PM

What a load of crap. It is so easy to stereotype something you obviously know very little about.

Introspective? You are saying that folk music isn't? Take a closer look at "Barbara Allen". Ever listen to the blues, or perhaps you do not consider that a form of folk music? It is easy to be selective.

Once again you are being selective in your opinions and views and not using sound reasoning or realistic criteria. You feel that "Hee Haw" was folk music and you ignore the same qualities and persective that exist in contemporary singer-songwriters. It all boils down to your own perspective, and anything that you do not like becomes exempt from folk music, regardless of any historic precedence. '

Folk music DOES have a life of it's own - that is one of the attributes of folk music. The sky is not falling, folk music is alive and well - and thriving.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 17 May 10 - 10:40 PM

Conrad, sometimes it's a bit hard to determine from your opaque prose, but you seem to have completely misinterpreted what I wrote.

"Much of the highly introspective whining that is not traditional sounding, muttering into a coffee cup contemporary singer songwriter fits your definition perfectly and that is why it is not folk traditional or even close."

That is completely confused mish-mash of what I really said, and bears no resemblance to it. Fits my definition? Were you actually referring to something I wrote? I certainly don't recognize it.

I will not repeat what I have already written, because you obvious have not read it, or if you have read it, you didn't understand a thing I said.

No, folk songs do not sing themselves. So in that sense, folk music "does not have a life of its own." But it does have a life of its own in the sense that people have always sung folk songs. Not everyone, of course, because musical tastes differ. But a sufficient percentage of people do sing folk songs and ballads that this form of expression has lasted for millennia—and that is without anyone having to "manage" it. And it will continue to last the same way.

Conrad, what do you mean by bringing folk music "to a higher level?" A "higher level" in what respect?

And no singer of folk songs that I know or know of is not interested in creating greater interest in what they sing and expanding the audiences for folk music. As I, and others here, have said, it's already being done. You apparently simply can't see it, but it is there. None of us are "leaving it be."

But if you want to get a good idea of what kind of general damage that hard-sell promotion and "management" of folk music can do—and in some cases, has done—take a good look at this thread:    CLICKY.   I rarely participate in this anymore because of the way it's being managed.

And DO try to read more carefully, will you?

Don Firth

P. S. That little YouTube cartoon must be about something going on on Mars.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 17 May 10 - 11:30 PM

Ron- we all know what we are talking about you are welcome to come up with a better name- non folk singer songwriter perhaps.

It is its own thing recognizable so needs a better name and even singer songwriter is not helpful so wondering why singer songwriters chose it if they insist all of them, in being included in folk


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 17 May 10 - 11:34 PM

don
"And this "easy listening" label that you keep tossing around is a category primarily invented by radio stations that play, essentially, background music, which is to say, music that allows you to have some jolly pleasant noise in the background to drown out the sound of the termites eating away the support beams of your house, but not so obtrusive and you have to pay any attention to it. Also it's usually so bland that it doesn't detract from the four-minute commercial breaks that come every eleven minutes."

On the nose. Contemporary singer songwriter (non folk variety)

Higher level- better word is larger market share
beyond the flame covered as it is now by a basket kept there by stubborn folkies unwilling to let it shine

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 May 10 - 12:14 AM

No need to come up with a better name - it is part of folk music.

You keep calling it "it's own thing" - but there is NO SINGLE FOLK MUSIC STYLE. All of folk music is subgenres so adding "singer-songwriter" or "contemporary" has already been done. It is a folk music.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 May 10 - 12:44 AM

More and more, I'm beginning to think our friend Conrad is nothing but a wind-up artist.

Or, perhaps, a CLICKY

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 10 - 02:56 AM

"Introspective? You are saying that folk music isn't?"
There is a difference Ron - Barbara Allen is on a universal theme and set in such general terms as to enable it to survive for centuries and to take root wherever it landed, so becoming a 'Norfolk', 'Suffolk', 'Connemara', 'Aberdeenshire', 'Appalachian'.... song, whereas, so many S.S songs are personal enough to be 'private' songs (hence allowing them to be referred to on occasion as 'armpit songs', as that is where they appear to be directed).
A friend writing in a music journal here summed many of them up for me with "You feel you want to tap the singer on the shoulder and ask for permission to come in".
MacColl's premise for songwriting was, "to move the song from the specific to the general". A song might be about the singer's own experiences, their lover, wife, friend, mother.... but for it to survive and be taken up, it had to be open-ended enough to become everybody's. This is how his best songs, even his most 'private' such as 'My Old Man' and 'Nobody Knew She Was There', worked for me. They never left me with the feeling that I was intruding on a private experience, as many S. S. compositions do (not all of them - don't want to generalise).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 18 May 10 - 04:05 AM

""If you persist in using the title "singer/songwriter" to describe that very narrow band of introspective creation, then you are lumping all the very fine singer/songwriters in every other branch and root of music into that category.

If you think that makes any kind of sense, you are as big a fool as you try to appear.

By all means put that kind of music into a space of its own, but (excuse the shout) FIND ANOTHER NAME FOR IT.

It isn't about the method of creation, it's about the emotions.

Why not call it autobiographical music, which would be closer, and at least wouldn't debase and devalue the work of thousands who both write and perform with their gaze far removed from their navels.

In fact Conrad, I'm inclined to think that your gaze needs adjusting to encompass something outside of your own navel, as all your threads have a "whining about the way things are because the way things are doesn't suit you" quality.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 May 10 - 09:01 AM

"so many S.S songs are personal enough to be 'private' songs "

There is no denying that there are "personal" songs among singer-songwriters, but the better artists are creating songs that do fit the universal theme.   Love is probably the most personal, yet universal theme there is. Barbara Allen is an artifact of the style of its time, and contemporary singer-songwriters are writing on the same theme in similar terms that can be touched by all.

No one likes to sit through someones therapy session, and writers get that.   

It is too easy to generalize about singer-songwriters, I admit to falling trap to it too. I used to call them singer-songwhiners. Then I started to pay attention. I was wrong to use such stereotypes. When you really start to listen you will find a body of work that can be considered folk of it's time - depending on how you interpret the definition.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 18 May 10 - 11:49 AM

Ok ron heres one for you

if it is all music why use the word folk

lets just call it all music

that means you can play anything!

all depends on the purpose of the definition and it is at times useful to split and sometimes useful to lump

I say accurate splitting is necessary to fairly allocate scarce veneu and air time.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 May 10 - 01:08 PM

It is "all music" in the end. You are the one who has been unable to define "folk" for us. Folk music is plural, not singular, and you have so far failed to recognize that.

You accept your BRAND of what you grew up with as "FOLK MUSIC" - an apparently singular style based on your previous posts. You fail to realize that every nation has various folk styles that fit under the umbrella. Again, folk music is more like an encyclopedia set, not an individual volume.   Singer-songwriter, as defined by the contemporary folk community, is merely another entry.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: *#1 PEASANT*
Date: 18 May 10 - 01:43 PM

not arguing that Ron just that there is a variety of singer songwriter that is not under the folk umbrella because it is basically different, does not sound like folk. For my purposes it is outside of folk.

Again an entire class of music that does not resemble trad folk in the least needs its own identity and trad folk needs its space and time back.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 May 10 - 01:44 PM

"It is "all music" in the end. "
Only in the clubs Ron; elsewhere it has a very specific definition, identity and literature. The clubs seem to have arrived at where they are by totally ignoring these facts and making a U.D.I.
To my mind the 'go it alone' policy of many of the clubs has led to total confusion, the death of many clubs and the exodus of audiences en masse. The folk scene no longer has a media presence, most of its literature has died a death and its major outlets (bar a tiny handful) have disappeared (looks like Rounder is about to ride off into the sunset), What headway that it had in the education and academic world has been whittled down to next to nothing.
You said earlier that things were different in the US, but somehow, I doubt it when performers can be turned away from a raditional song festival because "they don't write their own stuff" (I thought I'd dozed off and fallen down a rabbit-hole when I read this).
Compare this with what has happened in Ireland where the preformance of music is thriving, is accepted as a serious art, it has wall-to-wall media coverage and, certainly up to now, is supported and financed by the establishment (there are five folk music centres and a theatre dedicated to the traditional arts in this county alone.
Somebody here got a grip, decded that it wasn't "all music", but was a very specific music with a specific identity, history and place in the national culture.
In the long run, it really doen't matter; the music I call folk will survive in archives and on bookshelves and it will remain as probably the most researched musical form ever - it's just a pity that the next generation won't have the same opportunities we had to listen to it at its best.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 May 10 - 03:26 PM

". . . beyond the flame covered as it is now by a basket kept there by stubborn folkies unwilling to let it shine."

I presume that what Conrad is alluding to is that "stubborn folkies" (such as ?) are hiding the candle of folk music under a bushel because they are "unwilling to let it shine."

And why in the hell would anybody do that, pray tell? It's certainly not in the interest of performing singers of folk songs to do anything like that and limit our potential audiences. Conrad is making this accusation against some of the very people who are not just drawing new audiences in and entertaining them, but are teaching them, in a relaxed and non-didactic way, about folk music.

Bob Nelson (Deckman) has put together a series of classes in "American History in Folk Songs," in which he talks of various historical incidents and eras and sings the songs that came out of those incidents. There has been considerable interest expressed in Bob's classes by various libraries, college lectures and concerts departments, and other institutions.

In addition to our other performances, Bob, Patti McLaughlin, and I used to sing Northwest songs regularly for Washington State History classes at colleges and universities in this area.

When Jeff Warner, son of collectors Frank and Anne Warner, was turned down by the Seattle Folklore Society because he didn't write his own songs, he sang only traditional songs, Stewart Hendrickson, Bob Nelson, and I reorganized the long defunct Pacific Northwest Folklore Society (first organized in 1953 by Walt Robertson and several others, including a very neophyte me—history of the PNW Folklore Society HERE) in order to sponsor performances by singers of traditional songs—in addition to collecting and making available folk songs and other material from and about this area.

So, Conrad. WHO are these "stubborn folkies" who are unwilling to let the light of folk music shine?

I'll tell you who is actually hiding folk music's light under a bushel:    it's those people who run open mics who want only singer-songwriters, not singers of traditional songs, those who run "folklore societies" that will not sponsor concerts by singers of traditional songs—in short, those who are trying to "manage" what they insist on calling "folk music."

Which you keep saying is what is needed.

Traditional folk music is a) alive and well where I live; and b) if it is suffering at all, it's suffering from too damned much "management!"

Don Firth

P. S. "Higher level" = "Market share." Now, there's a good Madison Avenue term!


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: GUEST,Marcus
Date: 18 May 10 - 07:35 PM

"Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 May 10 - 02:33 PM

Or egotism. ;-) It's a far more common problem, I think, than mere stupidity. After all, most of the people I know are not basically stupid...but they all have a strong ego, and it is that which tends to make them exhibit prejudice toward this and that."


Which really makes them basically uh,,,, stupid.


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Subject: RE: Singer Song Writer or Wronger?
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 20 May 10 - 01:54 AM

I find it interesting that we get so emotional over words and categories. I like it when people push against the boundary of a term, and get upset when autocrats who think they know exactly what a term means decide to restrict the music that can be be performed. I find it upsetting that a folklore group (The Seattle Folklore Society)would actually refuse to allow performers to perform songs they haven't written.

I posted a comment earlier (surprised it got no reaction) about how the demands for everybody to be "singer-songwriter" is creating song pollution---lots of songs sung by only one person, and nobody to sing other people's great songs---thereby ensuring that "traditional" music will eventually wither up and die--because it can't expand if nobody ever sings the many great, meaningful songs (traditional or otherwise) that already have been written.

I would love to see more people searching for and performing songs that mean something and/or reflect a way of life (past or present). An example? I was looking for possible songs to perform at the traditional music festival and came up with some great truly "traditional" songs. But I also came up with a terrific song by John Stewart called Draft Age--that beautifully depicts the experience of young men in the U.S.A. when they still had the draft. Maybe if enough people start singing songs like that, we'll forget who wrote it, change a few words and voila---a traditional song of the 60's and 70's.


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