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Review: Killing folk

GUEST,David Wylde 21 Jul 10 - 08:52 PM
GUEST,uncle rumpo 21 Jul 10 - 09:57 PM
alanabit 22 Jul 10 - 03:27 AM
Geoff the Duck 22 Jul 10 - 03:43 AM
Dave Hanson 22 Jul 10 - 03:48 AM
Richard Bridge 22 Jul 10 - 03:49 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 22 Jul 10 - 04:19 AM
Will Fly 22 Jul 10 - 04:32 AM
GUEST,^&* 22 Jul 10 - 04:35 AM
Bounty Hound 22 Jul 10 - 04:55 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 22 Jul 10 - 05:30 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 22 Jul 10 - 06:10 AM
Howard Jones 22 Jul 10 - 06:24 AM
glueman 22 Jul 10 - 06:45 AM
GUEST,Tom Bliss 22 Jul 10 - 06:50 AM
r.padgett 22 Jul 10 - 07:00 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 22 Jul 10 - 07:37 AM
Geoff the Duck 22 Jul 10 - 08:02 AM
GUEST,Steamin' Willie 22 Jul 10 - 08:37 AM
Lighter 22 Jul 10 - 08:46 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 22 Jul 10 - 08:48 AM
Will Fly 22 Jul 10 - 08:53 AM
glueman 22 Jul 10 - 09:02 AM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jul 10 - 09:05 AM
Howard Jones 22 Jul 10 - 09:12 AM
treewind 22 Jul 10 - 09:26 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 22 Jul 10 - 09:36 AM
glueman 22 Jul 10 - 09:39 AM
Mo the caller 22 Jul 10 - 10:12 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 22 Jul 10 - 11:10 AM
GUEST,999 22 Jul 10 - 11:15 AM
GUEST,David Wylde 22 Jul 10 - 01:35 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Jul 10 - 02:00 PM
Jayto 22 Jul 10 - 02:38 PM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 22 Jul 10 - 02:44 PM
Howard Jones 22 Jul 10 - 03:03 PM
Tootler 22 Jul 10 - 09:03 PM
Howard Jones 23 Jul 10 - 03:13 AM
Crow Sister (off with the fairies) 23 Jul 10 - 03:46 AM
Rob Naylor 23 Jul 10 - 04:04 AM
theleveller 23 Jul 10 - 04:06 AM
breezy 23 Jul 10 - 02:53 PM
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Subject: Review: Killing folk
From: GUEST,David Wylde
Date: 21 Jul 10 - 08:52 PM

My wife introduced me to the folk scene five years ago. Before that, the only time I consciously heard any of the music, was at primary school or at a country pub when a morris side was performing.(and yes I have asked "which one is Morris")
So there I was at the local folk club thinking; so where's the manual! I asked my wife and she said "You just learn by listening and then giving it a go" So for six months I listened, joining in with the choruses when I could. Then I asked how folkies got their songs and the answers I got back were:

The internet
Song books
Recordings
Collections
Live concerts
Sessions
Passed down by teachers or family
Self penned.

I looked on the internet and found this site.(Sigh)midi files, give me a break, I'll name that tune never. Though fair play, some searches have samples of every Tom, Dick and Helmut that has ever use that search phrase in a song. Just pick one and sing it next time at the club and see what the folk Nazis do to the chorus.

Song books, nice if you are one of the 2% who read music. Probably explains why we all sing different versions of the same songs in this age of mass media. As a newbie, all I wanted was a singer under 90 with a vocal range of more than two notes, to give a fair representation of how the song was supposed to sound. Give us other 98% a fair reference, maybe start with the collections of Cecil Sharpe.

Sting is a closet folky, who would have guessed? Someone must have put on his red light. Maybe he is on to something? Put enough 21st century studio know how, add a few exotic instruments and it could be a stadium filler. Joking aside, the crossover artists are the only ones selling folk to the masses. The converts are filling the folk clubs up and down the country or not as the truth be told. We see them on stage at the festivals, hear them on the radio, we see their CD's in the shops and they are happy to do a guest spot in between gigs but like Sting they have their red lights on and only perform for the money. Give it another forty years and they will croaking at some session and dropping names like the rest of us.

Collections: Academics do a great job of finding lost treasures that were about to be lost to the nation. They spend long hours cataloguing and restoring them, then take great pleasure in say singing all 26 verses of medieval dirge at the next folk night. Somebody save me! They should be left in museums for the amusement of said academics and specialist S&M concerts or maybe school detention. Open them up to the people in a format that is useful or bury them.

Is folk a performance art? I say it is the blogs of times past. People sang for many reasons; to get their work done, to pass the time whilst walking from place to place, to comfort themselves in times of stress, to vent their anger, express their love and to pass the time until radio was invented. More like thinking aloud for the uneducated classes. Education has made us quieter in that respect. So what about the rest of the family we call folk? Call it bygone pop, propaganda, parlour or religious but it's lazy to call it folk. So are we just mouthing the words? Probably.

I think sessions are the bedrock of the folk tradition. You never quite know what will come out of the next mouth. The song sayers, where the message is important but the tune monotone. The tune singers, where bugger the words, listen to my opera trained voice and then the singers of songs where you just smile. Some sing too loud to drown out the distractions, some too soft like delicate flowers and some you question their hearing but all share a love of singing. The only free love most of them get since the sixties.

Most folkies under 60 are probably graduates, who got into folk because it came with subsidised beer. Singing is not a required subject at school, so unless you count Puff the magic non racist, non sexist, vegetarian Dragon as a folk song, the tumble weed of talent is going straight to DVD (or X Factor)

A rhyming dictionary and history of Britain and away you go. Just add some misery and sing it through your nose for that added authenticity and you're a member of folks top table. No more for you the waiting your turn in the sing around. I cut too deep. The rule of thumb seems to be that talent and humility is dished out in equal measure to but a few.

So who is killing Folk? You are by keeping it elitist.

We expose the masses to the music by opening the box and giving it back to the people. Get good singers recording the standards, then give them away free on the internet, place them in television and radio programmes. Members of folk clubs sing in schools and go busking. Raise your voice and singout, because without a new wave of interest, you will be singing alone sooner than you think.

These ramblings were made at two in the morning, by a very unbalanced individual and should not be taken to heart, however, should you feel the need to buttonhole me at some future event, be warned, I am deadly if attacked from behind.

David


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: GUEST,uncle rumpo
Date: 21 Jul 10 - 09:57 PM

take 2 Alka-Seltzer now
and sleep with a bucket by the side of the bed...

if later on tomorrow you remember writing this,
don't feel too embarrassed to ever come back here again.


I'm delighted to find someone new
who gets in an even worse self-indulgent state
of after pub chucking out time
impulsive music critique rambling than i do,

and on a weeknight..

yeah welcome to mudcat Dave mate.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: alanabit
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 03:27 AM

Welcome to Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 03:43 AM

David - I was going to make a flippant comment, but decided not to.
I will assume you are not just trolling, so give a sensible answer.
Your comments are all ones which are thrown at the folk scene. They are over simplified and don't really fit reality. For every "match" the other 99.9% of folkies don't.
Thing such as "all folkies are teachers" - my folk friends have been woollen mill workers, chemical plant operator, paving stone layer, market stall holder, numerous pub landlords, railway track worker, farmer, milkman, collier, motorway construction worker, painter & decorator, car mechanic, policemen, accountant, chef, postman, airline pilot, v.a.t. inspector to list a small selection. No [pattern to it, some teachers included, but heavily outweighed by the number who weren't. Some of those in teaching ended up there because the industry they were qualified in was closed down , so had to find a completely new occupation.
I personally do folk things because I enjoy them. It is not elitist, but most of the population is simply not interested. I am not on a mission to lead horses to water - they won't drink even if I do. I have taken folk stuff, song, dance, silliness out to a public audience. Some appreciate it, most couldn't care less. Very few were interested in getting involved themselves. At some point you say to yourself "This is what I do". If someone else wants to join me, great, but I'm not going to spoil what I enjoy just to please someone else. I am not a missionary - don't try to put me in that position ;@)
Quack!
Geoff the Duck.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 03:48 AM

Wow David, what an amazing expert you are with all of five years experience under your belt.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 03:49 AM

Do people say that the rock fanatics who can recite the lineup changes and previous and next bands of every band member are killing rock?

Knowledge about the medium can only be good.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 04:19 AM

There's an underlying assumption, in all rants like this, that it's the primary 'duty' of all folk music enthusiasts to popularise the medium. Usually the ranter doesn't appear to like folk music very much and wishes that it were more like contemporary pop music. He/she then assumes that if folk music were more like contemporary pop music it would be more popular. Hence, if folkies are to fulfil their duty they must make folk music more like contemporary pop music.

My first response to such tiresome tosh is f**k off and don't presume to impose 'duties' on me - who the f**k do you think you are? My second response is that I've spent most of my adult life enjoying folk music and imagine that it probably will survive, in some form or other, after me. If it doesn't - so what? That's evolution for you and I refuse to lie awake at night fretting about it.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 04:32 AM

These ramblings were made at two in the morning, by a very unbalanced individual and should not be taken to heart

Fair enough.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: GUEST,^&*
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 04:35 AM

Probably a bit early for "Troll of the Year" nominations - but it's gotta be a contender! ;>)


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 04:55 AM

So what I am trying to work out from your post, is do actually like anything that you count as folk music?

Your solution to promote folk to the masses is a little simplistic, there is already a huge amount of good quality, both professional and talented amateurs who have published their music on the internet, next time you can't sleep, spend some time browsing myspace, youtube, last FM, etc etc and you will find loads of really good music. The internet of course has the ability for an individual to choose what the post and where.

The media, however is a different matter, our local radio station BBC Radio Suffolk dropped their weekly, two hour long folk programme a few years back. It only used to attract an audience of around 20,000, obviously not enough! I have tried to persuade our new local community station to have a folk programme, but to no avail. As for the television…………

Your point about schools is correct though, we are taught from an early age, to quite rightly respect and admire traditions from other cultures, but our own is almost ignored.

What is interesting, however, is what happens if some high powered media mogul decides he likes something folky. Suddenly a group of Cornish fishermen become household names overnight. Unfortunately most folk does not receive this media hype.

Until we can find a solution to getting the media interested, just settle back in your chair, enjoy our music, however it is performed. It is not the 'folkies' themselves that make it elitist, it is lack of support from the mass media.

Be sure to let us all know when you work out how to get that media attention!

John


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 05:30 AM

"There's an underlying assumption, in all rants like this, that it's the primary 'duty' of all folk music enthusiasts to popularise the medium. Usually the ranter doesn't appear to like folk music very much and wishes that it were more like contemporary pop music. He/she then assumes that if folk music were more like contemporary pop music it would be more popular. Hence, if folkies are to fulfil their duty they must make folk music more like contemporary pop music."

I think this is probably a pretty accurate assessment.

However the medium doesn't require popularisation or "promotion", any more than say the work of the Romantic Poets does. I do think there could be more done to simply educate and inform people that this stuff is there though. Then what people choose to do or not to do with that information, is their concern.

I think a lot of these arguments come down to modern shifts in attitude about music as a commercial product one purchases, rather than as a participatory activity one engages in.
People might stop purchasing folk music, but that won't "kill" it. It's not a musical genre like Acid House or Prog. Rock, bar in the way it's been *treated* during the revival.

The archives are all there, and anyone can make use of them anytime they want to. The key thing is whether people realise that the material is there, and that they can access it and make use of it if they want to.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 06:10 AM

Wise words, CS.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Howard Jones
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 06:24 AM

Well! You don't seem to like folk music very much, do you? Your generalisations, like most generalisations, contain a germ of truth but, like most generalisations, tell only part of the story.

Folk isn't elitist. It is difficult, in that it uses idioms and structures which aren't familiar to most people raised on modern popular music or Western Classical music, and it requires more attention and a longer attention span than most popular music (it does puzzle me that people can sit through a 3-hour movie but complain about a ballad which tells a similar story in under 10 minutes). It's open to anyone who is prepared to make the effort to listen to it, however most people have got out of the habit of listening to music, it's just something they have on.

Most people, even when exposed to folk, just don't get it. You seem to be one of them, and your reason for involvement in folk seems to be to accompany your wife rather than anything to do with the music. That's fine, but don't expect us to change things for your benefit. Perhaps your wife should go to folk clubs on her own and you find something more congenial to do with your time.

For those that do get it, and are prepared to meet it on its own terms, it's very accessible and open. There are plenty of young people getting into folk. I sometimes play at a session where I am the oldest person in the room by 20 or 30 years (I'm in my mid 50s). Many of the others are students. I'm not worried about the future.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: glueman
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 06:45 AM

The OP seems to be voicing some genuine concerns about the state of folk music today, it's unfortunate such a viewpoint is seen as trolling. For instance the contradiction between a socially embedded form of entertainment being subject to academic research with gate keepers on what is and isn't 'of the people'. I disgree with some of his conclusions but he has every right to say them without outsider status being attributed to him and banishment under the bridge.

DW I'm afraid Mudcat's 'naughty step' awaits anyone not on message, so don't take it personally. My advice is buy the music you like enthusiastically but see folk for the music genre/entertainment commodity it has become and stay well clear of involvement!


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: GUEST,Tom Bliss
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 06:50 AM

David, it might help if you try to equate folk music with antiques.

With antiques it's not only about the quality of the workmanship, or of the design or even of the condition - it's about stories. This means that age, provenance and patina can be just as or even more important.

But - you have to be someone who appreciates antiquity in order to 'get' it, and if you're not, then it's just some old, out-of-fashion stuff.

That doesn't mean that antiques dealers are killing off their market by only selling in antique shops and fairs, though, does it?

Of course folk is no longer only about old music, it's also about DIY music now - and here the parallel is with other socially creative groups like art classes and choirs. Friendship, mutual support and a sense of shared experience and history is sometimes more important than conventional 'quality' - though there's plenty of that once you tune in.

Any help?


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: r.padgett
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 07:00 AM

MM

Maybe an odd pint of beer would help and a relaxed attitude, meant kindly here!

We could ask what is folk anyway but none of us will live long enough to answer that question

Music [the tune] is there, whatever it is or a version of, to convey the lyrics [the words] as an expression of the meaning in the language [feelings] felt by the originator which the singer hopes and tries to empathise with, does this help?

I recognise many of the ppl that Geoff the Duck mentions from their professions by the way!

Ray


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 07:37 AM

Personally, I prefer the music I buy to listen to, to be modern. I like electronic music I can dance to. So the kind of stuff I purchase and listen to is basically never folk, unless I'm interested in learning about the song itself. I see it as a hobby, like amateur dramatics, hill climbing or wild-life photography.

I don't believe it matters whether folk music is commercially popular as a genre or not. Or indeed if interest in it "dies" as a commercial musical genre. I'm no more concerned about it's commercial welfare as a genre than I am Disco or Funk.

If folk music sounded more like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRTzuutL6mA or this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YRp8nTNf88&feature=related I might buy it. But it never will, so I'm really not bothered about it not being 'top of the pops' as my Nan would say ;-)


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 08:02 AM

As far as I recall, during my time on the planet, folk has been killing itself on a regular time scale.
The White Heather Club in the 60's, Robin Hall and Jimmy McGregor, The Spinners etc. were so out of date that we had to have Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span.
The Dubliners sang Black Velvet Band, and people who sing that are so cliched that we can't listen to THEM - we'll have to invent some Pogues!
Trad is boring - let's go crusty with the Levellers.
Who the heck are the Levellers, lets go Mumford!
Hey - There's some Rusby bod singing on Jam and Jerusalem....
Ade Edmundson has started a Folk band....
Sting is singing old songs from the North East...
There's some unaccompanied Irish woman singing in the background of some telly advert...

Did anyone tell the Phoenix it was killing itself off by nesting in a bonfire?

Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: GUEST,Steamin' Willie
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 08:37 AM

Hang the bunting and throw a party!

Twenty posts and nobody has started rattling on about some 1954 definition yet!

For what it is worth, I keep rattling on (and this thread allows such ramblings without being off topic..) about the difference between a musical medium and a culture.

Is the music being killed off? Well no. I have been to a few mainstream festivals and enjoy listening to how "roots" music weaves its way into music that is commercially "up to date" and relevant to tomorrow's musicians and listeners. Just don't call it folk, whatever you do.

I do not know about other countries, but folk music here in the UK is also associated with a stereotyped image of people of "an age" who bought a guitar in the '60s and were going to change the world, and almost 50 years on, are still buying beer on a Tuesday night. That is the cosy comfort blanket that is slowly dying out, mainly because the appeal is to people who are slowly disappearing themselves.

I started going to folk clubs and my local one in particular as a teenager in the late '70s. I was by far the youngest one there.   A friend from that time had a retirement 'do with a ceilidh last year, and a few of us got up and did a few songs. I was still the youngest getting up, and by the same margin...

Folk music? Carry on forever, always has and always will, in a variety of mediums. However, the folk culture has a shelf life because younger people may enjoy the music but don't make the mistake that they will like the warm beer by default...


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 08:46 AM

People who talk seriously about "cultural gate-keepers" usually have read too much Kafka. Or not enough.

Yes,"gate-keepers" exist in the entertainment industry: they decide who gets a contract and who doesn't. In the necessary quest for profit, their choices also make them "taste-makers." (You can't like what you've never met, and you're most likely to like what everybody else does.)

But when "cultural products" circulate freely, like music in the air, there are no "gate-keepers," particularly when it comes to matters of taste.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 08:48 AM

Meanwhile, in another dimension the shock news that a top charting songwriter had just popped his clogs was headlining the NME, and so the question being furiously debated on all the hippest jivin'est message boards was: Is Music Dead?


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 08:53 AM

LOL! CS - good one!


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: glueman
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 09:02 AM

One of the more fascinating changes in people's music is the rapid demise of recorded music sold for money. We can only guess at the implications of unmoderated music copying but it can only be good for live performances and homespun music making
Music buying is a tradition in itself for most people alive today but it does pop its clogs it will have proved to be a short-lived phenomenon.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 09:05 AM

There must be some way out of here...


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Howard Jones
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 09:12 AM

Glueman, there is only a "contradiction between a socially embedded form of entertainment being subject to academic research" if you regard folk music as being a branch of popular entertainment. It is not considered strange or contradictory for most art forms to be the subject of study or research, and for most, including jazz as well as classical music, some depth of understanding is required to get the best out of the music (although they can be simply enjoyed without that knowledge). Why should folk music be any different? And actually, even popular entertainment is now subject to academic research and analysis.

If there are "gatekeepers", they exist either to define the subject for academic study or at a more practical level to define a policy for an individual venue or event. Nothing wrong with either.

Actually, the OP makes an interesting point when he talks about folk being the blogs of the past. But the reasons he gives for people singing the songs then are the same reasons people sing them now. The OP seems to think we're all wasting our time with folk music, which makes me wonder why he bothers with it himself.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: treewind
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 09:26 AM

People sang for many reasons...
to pass the time until radio was invented


That's about the right answer... the main reason ordinary people people sang in the past was that it was the only way most of us got to hear any music at all from one month to the next.

If anything is "killing folk music" it's the easy availability of far more music that we've ever been able to hear before, combined with public brainwashing by "The Music Industry" buying advertising time to coerce millions into buying whatever it wants to sell this week.

Fortunately that product has become so diluted and mechanized that increasing numbers of people are relearning the value of real music made by real people. We now see school kids wide-eyed in astonishment at ordinary people singing and making music with actual instruments and without a microphone or sound system in sight, and wanting to learn how to do that.

In other words, I don't think folk music, or any other kind of music, can be killed. It may often be a minority interest in purely commercial terms, but commercial isn't really what it's about.

Elitism plays no part whatsoever in all of this.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 09:36 AM

One night by the light of the moon
an old folkie was singing a 1954 approved traditional song
when right out of no-where
stepped a young member of an ethnic minority

You gotta jump it, music master,
You gotta play that rhythm faster,
You're never gonna get it played
On the Happy Cat Hit Parade.

You better tell your friend Beethoven,
And Mister Reginald De Koven
They better do the same as you,
Or they're gonna be corny too.

Long about nineteen seventeen
Jazz'll come upon the scene,
Then about nineteen thirty-five
You'll begin to hear swing,
Boogie Woogie and Jive,

and in the seventies there'll be disco
and rock and pop music
and later trance and Drum & Base too.
What larks!

(apologies to Hoagy)


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: glueman
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 09:39 AM

Traditional music consisted of orally transmitted works being recalled and reworked relatively unselfconsciously. By turning that phenomenon into a disciplined study it's inevitable those who undertake historical research will replace the song keepers of yore. The 'gatekeepers' I referred to.

If one acknowledges that folk music of the first sort died, then an academic study and re-enactment of performance is legitimate. Where I believe the OP is confused is in seeing folk today as somehow different from other musical genres. It isn't because it is not an unbroken strand but a revival, mediated by collection.
Where 'folk music' differs from most other forms of contemporary cultural study is that it is at once extant in terms of performance but extinct with regards to the conditions that gave rise to it. A comparison might be 'northern soul' where a finite and discrete body of 'alien' work is rehabilitated and culturally transfered with new significance attributed to it by its adoptees. The confusion seems to be that not all folk music aficionado acknowledge the role of revival in their appreciation.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Mo the caller
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 10:12 AM

I thought the description at the top of the thread of the different performers in sessions was very apt.

I a good session there's some really good music, but there's room for everyone - even me.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 11:10 AM

"combined with public brainwashing by "The Music Industry" buying advertising time to coerce millions into buying whatever it wants to sell this week."

As far as 'quality' goes, the folk genre (as a modern 20th/21stC phenomenon, whatever the decade) will probably only ever be at the top of it's game - like all good music of whatever ilk - as an underground music, with a passionate and dedicated core of artists and fans.

I'll keep singing songs composed by no-longer real people who have been dead for hundreds of years AND listening to D&B created by real people with real electronic instruments in 2010, just so long as they are good songs and good tunes alike.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: GUEST,999
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 11:15 AM

`I am deadly if attacked from behind.`


Oooooooooooooooooooooooooo.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: GUEST,David Wylde
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 01:35 PM

Thank you for all your replies. The problem with shooting from the hip at two o'clock in the morning, is that you hear the thought in your head and it make perfect sense. Then rather than think about it for a couple of days, you just have to spurt it out. Having said that, my "rant" was born out of frustration.

My joy in life, is hearing a natural voice singing an unaccompanied traditional folk song. The more colour and freedom in the voice the better. I can only aspire to such giddy heights but on my journey I have found that I learn best when I'm up close, watching the breathing and the phrasing of the words. I sometimes get so engrossed with the singers technique I only remember small parts of the song. Home I come and onto Mudcat, type in a phrase remembered and up pops twenty different songs, so I trawl through them and it becomes obvious that most if not all are versions of the same song. Then I listen to the midi files and that's when the sighing starts, but wait, what's this? Twenty recordings of said song. Eighteen by the Dubliners and two by Helmut Schmidt and his whistling dog. Now I was sure the singer said it was collected in Hampshire, so what am I to do?

One option is to carry a covert recording device and steal the song but I find that unethical at a free performance.
In these days of instant access and mass media, I want a reference, somewhere to start. I want a recording to hear the song sung to it's full potential. Then put it online free of charge at the EFDSS site or similar as a reference piece. Then I will be able to appreciate the reference piece and the folk process applied to all the variations.

David


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 02:00 PM

You could start by remembering the title and some of say the first line or chorus, or even the gist of the song. Then you post a query on here and immediately, even at two o'clock in the morning, at least 20 people will chip in with where you can find the song. TRY IT!


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Jayto
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 02:38 PM

Folk music to me is real. It is not a commercial commodity that's sole purpose is to make a quick buck. It is the music of my ancestors and the tales within are stories of their life and times. I just feel a connection with it bc it really hits me deep. Modern songs (even though I listen and play it) just doesn't hit me the same way. I don't listen to commercial music period though. I have to admit even the modern stuff I like is underground and indie. I am not a DIE Hard traditionalist by any stretch of the imagination but I am thankful that there are people out there that are bc I love to hear them.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 02:44 PM

"One option is to carry a covert recording device and steal the song but I find that unethical at a free performance."

I'd be surprised if any singer objected to that for the purpose you state. If in doubt, just be polite and ask first. If you go to the same regular events, you'll get to know who objects and who doesn't.

Otherwise I empathise with some of your frustrations regards the ready accessibility of archive recordings. Though there are indeed current initiatives underway to remedy this.

Do have a bash with the Midi's. As a basic blueprint for the melody, they are perfectly usable. You just need to take your time with them: hum, la and play around with the tune until you've got it down, before adding words. Then once you've got the words nicely memorised, work on tweaking your phrasing and ornament.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Howard Jones
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 03:03 PM

David, if you are going to search for the definitive version of a folk song you're going to be eternally frustrated - there's no such thing. Folk songs exist in parallel versions because that's how they've evolved, you can't say that one version is any more "right" or authentic than another. One of the fascinations of folk songs is how many variants there can be.

It can be annoying when you hear a version of a song and can't find that version of it, but that's life. At least with the internet it's now much easier to look for a version than it used to be, and you can always ask on here. But not every version has been recorded, and not every recording is on the internet.

If you can't find the version that first attracted you, then remember as much of it as you can and piece together the rest from other versions. As often as not, that's what traditional singers did, and it's how many revival singers construct their songs. As long as you don't make false claims about its authenticity, that's fine in my book.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Tootler
Date: 22 Jul 10 - 09:03 PM

You Tube is also a good place to find folk songs. As Howard Jones said above, not every song is there, but there's an awful lot and much of it by quality performers.

Can I also suggest that it is worth the effort of both learning to play an instrument and learning to read music. It makes versions of songs from books much more accessible. I regularly use printed sources for learning songs.

Finally as CS posted some Byrd earlier - lovely, thank you CS. Here is some Dowland with a thoughtful song for 2 in the morning (which it is about now.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CVyC5hxPSY

Of course it's not folk, but Emma Kirkby is such a lovely singer and it is such a gorgeous song that I had to share it with you.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Howard Jones
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 03:13 AM

Being able to read music well enough to grasp a tune makes a huge difference.

You don't even have to learn to play an instrument (although it helps, and is worthwhile for its own sake). If you can learn enough about music to recognise the notes on the stave and understand note lengths and key and time signatures its then quite easy to copy out the tune using something called ABC, which is a way of representing music notation in text form. There are several free programs which will convert ABC text back into conventional notation, and more importantly, play it back to you.

It's not that difficult to learn the rudiments of music, and although ABC looks complicated at first it's actually very straightforward once you get to grips with it.

More about ABC here: Steve Mansfield's ABC tutorial


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Crow Sister (off with the fairies)
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 03:46 AM

YouTube is indeed a very handy resource. Although I have and do use it, I'd caution against leaning on it *too* heavily, or indeed on any classic revival recording or you'll end up simply mimicking some-one else's 'reading' of the song rather than singing it for yourself. I think that's also the way standardisation of some of these old songs has come about within the contemporary folk scene.

Take for example 'The Snows they Melt the Soonest' which is in fact quite a bitter and almost cocky little piece from a ditched boyfriend where "bitterness and love, grief and contempt, mix".
Yet, it seems Anne Briggs slowed down the melody, and that lone act by one influential revival singer changed it altogether.
Here it is today: Boo hoo hoo!

I don't call that 'the folk process', that's the power of the recording industry.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 04:04 AM

David, if you are going to search for the definitive version of a folk song you're going to be eternally frustrated - there's no such thing. Folk songs exist in parallel versions because that's how they've evolved, you can't say that one version is any more "right" or authentic than another. One of the fascinations of folk songs is how many variants there can be.

Fully agree with Howard here. I've heard "Golden Vanity" (just one example among many) sung at maybe 6 different sessions in the last 6 months or so and every time it's been *significantly* different.

I do a version of "Man of Kent" which is quite different to Bob Kenward's original...I learned it from a Stuart Pendrill version before I'd ever heard Bob sing it. Stuart changes the words around a bit, and the tune structure is slightly different. I've changed *some* (but not all) of Stuart's changed words back to Bob's original ( I preferred some of Stuart's changes to Bob's words, TBH) but kept Stuart's structure. Having now heard Bob's original I *could* change mine to comply with his "definitive" rendition, but why? So there are 3 versions of that one song at least, wandering around this little part of Kent. At least one other person has learned my version. Whether he'll make any changes is up to him.

To me, that's the essence of folk....the songs morph naturally, take on local flavours and evolve. "Definitive" versions imply some kind of pickling in aspic.

The only times I've seen problems have been when there's a response or chorus that invites audience participation and the audience knows several different versions of the chorus. But usually the first run through it is left to the singer and people "calibrate" themselves to his/ her version.


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: theleveller
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 04:06 AM

LOL! Just come across this thread. Thank f**k (asterisks applied to avoid offence) I'm not the only one who posts disconnected drunken ramblings! This is what I love about Mudcat - gloriously opinionated unsubstantiated rants by someone who can, at least, string a sentence together. Thanks, David, you've made my day.:0


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Subject: RE: Review: Killing folk
From: breezy
Date: 23 Jul 10 - 02:53 PM

Talk to whoever you hear David

Ask them the questions you are asking yourself.

Write notes, as well as using memory.

Its a fascnating journey that will devour you.

Enjoy the challenge and adventure

That was no rant, but a plea.

You are on the right course, welcome.


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