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Traditional singer definition

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GUEST,SA 24 Jul 11 - 09:31 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 24 Jul 11 - 09:29 AM
Jim Carroll 24 Jul 11 - 05:30 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 24 Jul 11 - 04:55 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 24 Jul 11 - 04:31 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Jul 11 - 07:56 AM
Big Al Whittle 23 Jul 11 - 07:23 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 23 Jul 11 - 05:56 AM
Musket 23 Jul 11 - 05:51 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Jul 11 - 05:12 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 23 Jul 11 - 05:08 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 23 Jul 11 - 04:59 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 23 Jul 11 - 04:32 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 23 Jul 11 - 03:31 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Jul 11 - 03:07 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 22 Jul 11 - 11:31 PM
GUEST,Lighter 22 Jul 11 - 09:39 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 22 Jul 11 - 07:11 PM
Jim Carroll 22 Jul 11 - 02:01 PM
GUEST,Lighter 22 Jul 11 - 12:48 PM
Tootler 22 Jul 11 - 12:20 PM
Howard Jones 22 Jul 11 - 11:11 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 22 Jul 11 - 09:05 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Jul 11 - 08:32 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 22 Jul 11 - 06:53 AM
Howard Jones 22 Jul 11 - 06:09 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 22 Jul 11 - 04:49 AM
Howard Jones 22 Jul 11 - 04:25 AM
Tradsinger 22 Jul 11 - 03:58 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Jul 11 - 03:01 AM
r.padgett 21 Jul 11 - 03:11 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 21 Jul 11 - 06:37 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 21 Jul 11 - 06:26 AM
r.padgett 21 Jul 11 - 05:59 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Jul 11 - 05:41 AM
GUEST,roderick warner 20 Jul 11 - 07:57 PM
The Sandman 20 Jul 11 - 07:02 PM
Jim Carroll 20 Jul 11 - 03:03 PM
Shantyfreak 20 Jul 11 - 01:10 PM
Musket 20 Jul 11 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,Lighter 20 Jul 11 - 08:00 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 20 Jul 11 - 07:29 AM
reynard 20 Jul 11 - 06:45 AM
GUEST,Brian Peters 20 Jul 11 - 06:17 AM
GUEST,Warwick Slade 20 Jul 11 - 05:22 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 20 Jul 11 - 05:04 AM
r.padgett 20 Jul 11 - 01:56 AM
GUEST,Warwick Slade 19 Jul 11 - 02:01 PM
GUEST,Brian Peters 19 Jul 11 - 01:28 PM
Paul Davenport 19 Jul 11 - 12:29 PM
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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,SA
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 09:31 AM

either way that is.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 09:29 AM

Jim - either this is going way over your head or you just refuse to see what I'm saying. Either I really can't be arsed.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 05:30 AM

Sean
If you put up an argument you might have a case.
You don't qualify your statements, you don't advance arguments, you don't respond to challenges, you don't answer direct questions - YOU JUST MOUNT SNIDE ATTACKS AND YOU MAKE UNQUALIFIED PRONOUNCEMENTS wrapped in pretentious and irrelevant verbiage.
Sharp's ideas and those of his contemporaries are very much in need of re-examination, but not by meaningless and often impenetrable unqualified statements such as yours.
The day of the 'gentleman' collector is long gone, but what the early researchers left behind is a huge body of material and a basis for undererstanding folksong - you, in contrast, offer nothing other than a bad taste in the mouth.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 04:55 AM

(and again without the typos, and ever so slightly revised...)

Jim - at least try and understand what I'm saying here before telling me how I feel and petitioning to have me kicked out the fan club as an undesirable. Warts a' All is an inclusive approach to life, the universe and everything. It appreciates the Good and the Bad and certainly doesn't throw the baby out with the bathwater - much less promote the notion that so flawed an upper-class hobby as Folk Song Collection isn't going to be without some very evident contradictions as regards the actual dymanics between subject and object. Especially across the gulf of the class / culture divide. This is life, Jim (very much as as we know it) and half the fun is being aware of such matters to thus make a more vivid picture of both The Revival in its totality and its enduring legacy today which is an essential part of Our social history.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 04:31 AM

Jim - at least try and understand what I'm saying here before telling me how and feel petitioning to have me kicked out the fan club as an undesirable. Warts an all is an inclusive approach to life, the unverse and everything; it appreciateds the good and the bad and certainly doesn't throw the baby out with the bathwater - much less promote the notion that so flawed a hobby as Folk Song Collection isn't without some very evident contradictions as regards the actual dymanics between subject and object. Especially across the gulf of the class / culture divide. This is life, and half the fun is being aware of it to make a more vivid picture of The Revival in its totality and its legacy today as part of Our social history.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 07:56 AM

Sean - with your vague and verbose generalities, your message remains the same - collectors are an untrustworthy mob whose opinions and experiences are not even worthy of discussion - again you refuse to qualify your statements and avoid direct questions - do we despise Hardy and Dickens for their attempts to reproduce the verrnacular of the people they chose to depict, or is your venom just reserved for those who gave us access to our songs?
Not really interested in what who choose to reduce anybody who disagrees with him as "thought police" either - I really thought some of these discussions had attained adulthood - my mistake.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 07:23 AM

Cecil Sharp had an asthmatic arse.

nuff said.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 05:56 AM

Thing is, Jim - I came to the revival as a fresh-faced trusting youth and swallowed its myth wholesale as part of a general epiphany. I've always been aware of the dilemas and contradictions, but in the final analysis my love of the old songs is paramount in my relationship to this thing we call folk. That doesn't mean I should forget the deeper issues, even when I choose to sing one of Sharp's Bowlderised versions to a ruder variant; in fact, I might sing both versions as part of the same song. It's a complex beast, endlessly fascinating, but my deap seated awareness of social class and the inequalities, oppressions and privileges thereof do not prevent me from seeing just what the Folk Myth was predicated on. Similarly, my love of Kiping does not have me wishing to revise his more noxious sentiments. I will sing Peter Bellamy's setting of The Land, not as a revised paean to Socialism that many in the Folk Scene have chosen to see it as, but as the hommage to the continuity of faceless serviility under feudalism which Kipling (and Bellamy too in all probability) intended. I find it odd how you balk at Kipling in this respect, and yet embrace Sharp (et al) who were just as guilty after all. To me, it's all part of the thing - and to deny it would be as absurd as to reject it wholesale. Like any other aspect of History, its fascination lies in its contradictions.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Musket
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 05:51 AM

Traditional - the passing of custom and belief down the generations.

Well, at least one dictionary says it in that way, (suspect an American one, I am using an iMac after all...)

An interesting question would be "Where does something begin in order to be passed down in the tradition?"

I gave my sons many of my old albums, so as my custom was to wear denim and go to Black Sabbath concerts, buying their albums, then when I took my eldest to watch Ozzie in concert then gave him my Sabbath Bloody Sabbath album, (signed by the band many years ago) then I was starting a tradition. Hence Black Sabbath performed traditional music?

I reckon we are yet again confusing style with process. There seems to be a consensus that to be a traditional singer as opposed to singer of traditional songs, you have to tell people your Grandfather learned this from a wandering gypsy in the bleak high fells. Whereas it was traditional for me that on Xmas Eve, my stepfather sat in his chair when we got home from the welfare, a glass of whisky in his hand and sat there crooning out "Old Shep." To which I used to cry out, taking the piss, "Oh no! Not the gun!"

Just as traditional for me.

But not for you.

Or indeed for Walter Pardon who wouldn't know about my Stepfather or indeed the local miners' welfare.

Methinks the thought police may think that it has to be in the folk "style" to be traditional, and that is one hell of a different discussion.... (And a moot one too. If I sing a song I wrote about my community and heritage, I am a traditional singer. If I sing a song about reed cutting in Norfolk, I am a singer of traditional song. QED.)


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 05:12 AM

"After all, it doesn't make him any less human to be aware of such issues,does it? "
"reactionary condescension so obnoxious it beggars belief"
Statements like this underline the contempt you have consistently shown for the people whose work you, as a revival singer, have benefited from.
If you had provided rational arguments for your declarations of hate towards collectors and researchers, you might have made some headway, but you have consistently refused to do so:
"I don't have to prove anything, Jim "
Instead you make armchair pronounments, half the time wrapped in impenitrable verbiage.
So Sharp was obnoxiously condescending and a target of your contempt because he was a product of his time - do I have that right, and can I assumme Dickens and Hardy to also be recipients of that contempt - or is that another question for your shelf?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 05:08 AM

Absolutely. Every one and every thing; it underwrites both the humanity of the thing and our critical appreciation of that we love most in this world. There's always going to be duality & dialogue - it's the nature of life, for nothing is ever so simple as to be straightforward. There are dilemas and contradictions in every last damned thing. Why should Folk be any different?


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 04:59 AM

Well, yeah, doesn't just about *everyone* have a dark side?


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 04:32 AM

Sweeney has expressed his contempt of and distrust for collectors often enough in the past as to leave us in no doubt of his opinions of them, yet, like every other singer of traditional songs, he has no hestiation in reaping the benefits from their efforts.

That's the thing in discussions like this, one can't point out the inherent darker issues of the revival without being slated as some sort of hypocritical traitor to the cause. As a Post-Revuival Folk Singer I'm as much aware of the dodgier aspects of the revival as I am of the dodgier aspects of my country, and yet I choose to live here and be a (generally) contented citizen. The evils of social class and cultural colonialism are right there for us all to see; it is writ large in the very fabric of the thing & to call that passage patronising and condecending is only right and proper, because it is. However, Sharp was only human, a man of his times, but that doesn't mean we can't look at his legacy by the standards of our own. After all, it doesn't make him any less human to be aware of such issues,does it? Of course not. In this life we must live with the legacy of such things - ideologues, histories, ideologies - warts and all. I'm a huge fan of Miles Davis, but that doesn't mean I'm blind to the darker sides of his character - on the contrary, I eagerly swallow up biographies as much I do his recordings and accept that it's an itegral part of his genius. And I'm not even going to mention Ewan MacColl's war record; to me it rests alongside his utter brilliance as a ballad and folk song singer. Such is the merry way of biography, history, and human frailty; we embrace strengths and weakenesses with equal passion whilst being all too aware of our own; indeed, we applaud same in others as a very gladsome measure of PURE GENIUS. So - not biting hands, or expressing CONTEMPT, much less DISTRUST, just pointing out a passing imperfection that strikes me as being not the sort of thing we ought to be celebrating in this day & age, much less citing it support of what remains all too elitist a cause.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 03:31 AM

As I said, I'm into traditional calypso mostly (and the trend right now for teenagers to be "indie", and being into calypso and other types of folk/ "Old-fashioned" music counts, even though I didn't know that until my friends told me), so I'm not really into British traditional stuff. Of course if someone wanted to collect songs from me, say, I'd want to get them right.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 03:07 AM

Sorry Morwen - just a reflection of the period, and the way country people were portrayed in the literature of the time - in my opinion Sharp didn't to a bad job of bridging the enormous class gap, and his writing always impressed me as showing a respect of and value for the people he was recording. Perhaps you know the story of his recording 'The Crabfish' from Mrs Overd?
"...and the way he portrayed them as being so eager to have their songs heard that they'll spend time preparing and waiting for someone to visit them and hear them sing. "
In the seventies we began to record an elderly Irish singer, Mikey Kellerher, in South East London - he was in fact known as a dancer in his native West Clare before he moved to London in the late 1940s, but it turned out he had picked up around over 60 traditional songs in his youth.
He was extremely shy of singing and would only record for us in the car, in a back-street in Deptford - he refused to let us record him at home.
After a couple of months of these sessions he took us to his home and introduced us to his wife who told us that he had never explained to her what we were doing but he would return home after these sessions and sit up in bed singing through the songs we had discussed but not recorded that evening so he would have them right for us the next time we met him.
She said, "I told him, ""You're going cracked, like your mother did"".
Norfolk singer Walter Pardon spent years piecing together his family's songs and writing them down in notebooks so they wouldn't be lost, decades before he had anybody to sing them to.
I don't think we ever met a singer in thirty-odd years collecting who didn't value their songs enough to want to get them right when they sang them for us - they valued them as being important and said so often enough.
Sweeney has expressed his contempt of and distrust for collectors often enough in the past as to leave us in no doubt of his opinions of them, yet, like every other singer of traditional songs, he has no hestiation in reaping the benefits from their efforts.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 11:31 PM

Well, there is the description of the people as peasants and the way he portrayed them as being so eager to have their songs heard that they'll spend time preparing and waiting for someone to visit them and hear them sing. I understand that people were probably surprised that *anyone* was interested in the songs at all- but something about the words used just feels condescending. I don't know how to describe it. I don't mind dialect- in fact, I love to sing songs in dialect.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 09:39 PM

Condescending in what way?

By today's standards of journalism, the descriptions are rather flat, but I don't see anything condescending in them. As for the dialect spellings, remember there was no radio and few sound recordings. The odd spellings were intended to make the speech seem more real, not less.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 07:11 PM

Well, I think Suibhne is referring to the *descriptions* of the singers, which (even though my interest isn't British traditional songs) do sound *very* condescending.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 02:01 PM

"hearken to my old-vashioned zongs "
Utter bollocks - and yet another attempt to attack the 'despised' collector (why do the words "bite", "hand" and "feed" spring to mind whenever I go head-to-head with you?).
Sharp's approxomation of what he heard is no worse than that to be found in many of Hardy's Wessex novels, or Dicken's 'Cockney' or Kickham's 'Oirish' or, for that matter, some of the pathetic 'mid- Atlantic' accents to be heard in many folk clubs or from wannabe pop stars.
What Sharp brought to the reader was a respect for the old singers and a love for (and an attempt to understand and pass on) their creations - very much in short supply here.
You want to take a pop at Sharp, aim at his statements and objectives, more than adequately outlined here by both Tootler and Lighter.
Personally, I'm more than happy to pay tribute to somebody who dragged his asthmatic arse around the south of England and up into the Southern Appalachians to bring back the songs that have given me so much pleasure over the last half century.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 12:48 PM

AS I understand it, one reason that Baring-Gould, Sharp, and the others began collecting was that they'd realized (dramatically in Sharp's case) that there existed a huge repertoire of interesting songs that the average middle-class urbanite knew next to nothing about. Furthermore, the songs often had beautiul and unconventional melodies, and sometimes texts that seemed to suggest that they might be centuries old.

Because such songs were not widely known to musicians, and seemed to be known almost entirely to the rural poor (a class which, one readily admits, was sometimes sentimentalized), the collectors were absolutely right to see the songs as belonging to a "tradition" rather apart from those of operatic,ecclestical, parlor, and music-hall traditions.

"Idioms" might be a good synonym for "tradition," if anyone cares.

Once traditional song started to be recorded commercially, in more modern idioms, the line between the traditions began to blur and blur. And certainly the early collectors and scholars held some romantic views about it that were shown to be insupportable only decades later.

Those facts, however, do not mean that the "folksong tradition" was simply a romantic, academic delusion.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Tootler
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 12:20 PM

statements like that serving as adequate proof of a reactionary condescension so obnoxious it beggars belief

It seems to me that you are forgetting when that was written. It was written roughly 100 years ago in a society that is very different from today. You also don't seem to realise that what Sharpe was doing was actually quite radical for its day. (And if you do realise it, you certainly don't show it).

I found it an interesting description of some of way in which Sharpe had to go about collecting a tune.

hearken to my old-vashioned zongs Have you never tried to capture someone's dialect in written form? Read Woak Hill or Linden Lea. The author, William Barnes, has tried to capture his own dialect in similar form. How is that "reactionary condescension"?

I believe it was L P Hartley who wrote "The past is another country, they do things differently there." We do well to remember that when criticising the early folk song collectors.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Howard Jones
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 11:11 AM

I'm not sure why it's "reactionary condescension" to report someone's speech the way he spoke it. Wouldn't it be more condescending to translate it into middle-class English?


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 09:05 AM

I don't have to prove anything, Jim - not with statements like that serving as adequate proof of a reactionary condescension so obnoxious it beggars belief (right down to the hearken to my old-vashioned zongs FFS). Hey, I can't get my kids to hearken to my old-vashioned zongs either - I play them Caravan and Joy Division but they'd rather listen to Lady Gaga and Kanye West. Plus ca change, eh? Long live cultural process!


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 08:32 AM

"reads like something out of a Two Ronnies sketch, or the worst form of cultural paternalism imaginable."
Not to me it doesn't - taking into consideration when it was written and by whom, it remains a personal observation by somebody who was there.
It is the easiest thing in the world to take the piss out of the pioneers from a position of smug hindsight (and from the comfort of your folkie greenhouse - again). Sharp got many things wrong, but unless you can show how that was making it all up, his point stands as an indication of what he found - unless you can prove otherwise.
Pandering to the media's rejection of our folk cultures by comparing Sharp's observations to 'The Two Ronnies' and the 'Rambling Sid Rumpo' representation is as much a rejection of those cultures as that of the establishment as far as I'm concerned.
I've thought a great deal about your "tradition is an invention of the collectors" statement - your failure to qualify it in any way is a little like waiting for the other shoe to fall.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 06:53 AM

Folk is invariably a matter of personal Epiphany, though many Folkies are now the begetters of Folkies themselves. I often wonder what the nature of that inheritance is and how they might view that i terms of Tradition, Revival or Post-Revival? I'd say in terms of my own personal culture Johnny Morris, Hanna-Barbera, Henry Mancini, Ennio Morricone, and Gerry Anderson are just as significant as Folk, if not more so. In cultural terms the remit is always a whole lot wider, which is why I'm less inclined to see Folk as being any different in terms of Traditional Process, rather the romantic status conferred on same from on high. In this respect, and with all due respect, Jim's quote from Cecil Sharp, at best, reads like something out of a Two Ronnies sketch, or the worst form of cultural paternalism imaginable.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Howard Jones
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 06:09 AM

I don't know about calypso, but if the calypso tradition is about improvising in a particular style rather than mainting continuity of particular songs, then I can see that the distinction would be meaningless. However the core of the traditions of the British Isles is this continuity and the way the music is passed on (although not necessarily unchanged). It is therefore useful to distinguish between those who are an integral part of this continuity and those who simply discovered the music at some stage of their lives, no matter how deeply they have subsequently immersed themselves in it. However, although it's a useful distinction I accept it is often endowed with a greater significance than is sometimes justified.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 04:49 AM

Well, in some cultural traditions, as I said in my post on the 18th related to calypso, there is no such thing as "revival". All singers are "traditional" in those traditions, if they learn the skills required to perform within the tradition.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Howard Jones
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 04:25 AM

In my opinion the fundamental difference is whether you grew up with the music around you, or whether you discovered it later. If you're in the former category, you're a traditional singer no matter how many songs you subsequently learn from Martin Carthy albums; in the latter case you'll never be truly "traditional", no matter how many "old boys" you learn songs from.

I think much of the reluctance to accept this distinction comes from a romantic wish to be "part of the tradition".


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Tradsinger
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 03:58 AM

I feel I can contribute to this debate, with the experience of over 40 years of folksong collecting behind me.

I think the point of the original thread was to ask what the difference is between a 'traditional' singer and a 'revival' singer and thereby to label singers as we do. In most cases this bestows on the on the 'traditional' singer a sort of magic aura and we hold them in special awe. However, this is a simplistic view of the situation.

Some examples - when I was younger, I learnt a lot of bawdy songs. They were never written down and at least some of them were derived from older songs. Does that make me a traditional singer? In one sense it could but I don't think that would qualify in most people's books. I have also learnt a lot of my songs directly from 'source' singers, usually by meeting them, recording them, in some cases singing along with them and ultimatly learning the songs from the recordings I made. Does that make me a traditional singer? Probably not because I set out with the express intent of recording the songs for my own pleasure and also with an academic thought in mind, namely that I was adding to the total sum of human knowledge by noting what was being sung and passed on independently from the folk 'scene'.

Of the singers I have met and recorded, many have had contact with the folk revival and have learnt songs. All of them have have learnt songs from the media, as well as from friends and family. For example, the gypsy singer Wiggie Smith, whom I knew well, recorded and sang with, had songs from all sorts of sources - family and friends but also from recoreds of George Formby, Norman Wisdom etc. I also guess that some of the songs he sang, such as 'The Rich Farmer of Sheffield' had probably been helped on their way sometime in the past by a broadsheet (and therefore, by definition from the media). And yet there is no doubt that people would label Wiggie as a 'tradional' singer, uninfluenced by the folk scene.

Conversely, I know a number of singers who would regard themselves as revival singers but who have certainly learnt songs straight from source singers. One well-known 'revival' singer that I know sang to me a cracking folk song that he had learnt when young in the school playground and yet he would hesitate to put the 'traditional' label on himself. A friend of mine in Gloucestershire has a large number of songs he learnt from various sources including old morris dancers, before he ever set foot in a folk club, but I suspect that he doesn't regard himself as a 'traditional' singer in the sense we mean here. And so the boundaries are very grey.

As a rule of thumb, by traditional (or 'source') singer I think of someone who sings songs he/she has learnt orally, uninfluenced by the folk scene or the media. From the collecting point of view (and the definition of 'collecting' can be a separate thread), I am interested in meeting such people, recording their songs if they are willing and finding out how they learnt the songs and in what context. As I said above, I like to think that this adds to the total sum of human knowledge that we have about our traditions.

Does all that make sense?

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 03:01 AM

On the strength of this discussion I re-read Sharp's chapter on traditional singers in 'Some Conclusions', based on his and his contemporaries experiences in collecting songs at the beginning of the 20th century.
I have to say that his remarks on the generation of singers he was collecting from being the last ties up with some of our own findings, especially from what we found from the people we recorded from, particularly what we were told by Walter Pardon, who said that despite the richness of his family tradition, he was the only one of his generation to take an interest in the songs enough to write them down in an exercise book so they would not be forgotten altogether.
I have reproduced part of what Sharp had to say which, despite the quaintness of the language, still resonates with me.
Jim Carroll

"The folk-singers of to-day, as I have already remarked, are the last of a long line that stretches back into the mists of far off days. Their children were the first of their race to reject the songs of their forefathers. Nowadays, the younger generations despise them, and, when they mention them, it is with a lofty and supercilious air and to pour ridicule upon them. The old singers, of course, hold the modern song in like contempt, although they accept the changed conditions with a quiet dignity, which is not without its pathos. One old singer once said to me, " Our tunes be out 'o vashion. They young volk come a-zingin' thicky comic zongs, and I don't know they, and they won't hearken to my old-vashioned zongs." The old order changeth, and the old singers realize that their day has gone and that they and their songs are " out 'o vashion ". Imagine, then, their joy when the collector calls upon them and tells them of his love for the old ditties. He has only to convince them of his sincerity to have them at his mercy. They will sing to him in their old quavering voices until they can sing no more; and, when he is gone, they will ransack their memories that they may give him of their best, should, perchance, he call again, as he promised.
Attention must be drawn to the conventional method of singing adopted by folk-singers. During the performance the eyes are closed, the head upraised, and a rigid expression of countenance maintained until the song is finished. A short pause follows the conclusion, and then the singer relaxes his attitude and repeats in his ordinary voice the last line of the song, or its title. This is the invariable ritual on forma] occasions. It does not proceed from any lack of appreciation. The English peasant is by nature a shy man and undemonstrative, and on ceremonious occasions, as when he is singing before an audience, be becomes very nervous and restrained, and welcomes the shelter afforded by convention. I have never seen women sing in this way; but then they never perform in public, and only very rarely when men are present. If you would prevail upon a married woman to sing to you, you must call upon her when her man is away at work, that is, if he be a singer himself. She will never sing to you in his presence until you have come to know both her and her husband very intimately.
A man will sing naturally enough, and without any formality, by his own fireside. I have known him, on such occasions, to get quite excited when he is singing a song that moves him, and to rise from his chair and gesticulate and, perhaps, beat the table to enforce the rhythm of the tune. One old woman once sang to me out in the open fields, where she was working, and between the verses of her song she seized the lapel of my coat, and looked up into my face with glistening eyes to say, " Isn't it beautiful ? ".


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: r.padgett
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 03:11 PM

I am not too sure about "The surface narrative is superficial"

BUT I do agree to some extent that gifted instrument players can add

a further dimension and add artistically to the song or ballad being

sung

Of course the tunes often would not exist had the song not been "written"

Music and tunes can of course exist without songs and be separately played and enjoyed.

Ray


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 06:37 AM

Tunes and instrumentation should help to convey the lyrics/narrative, surely?

I dispute this most vociferously. In Popular Musics, Folk, Classical idioms the world over the lyrics are often obscured by the music - much less the story. All that natters is the music, which carries a deeper narrative meaning that mere words can convey, otherwise, why bother singing them? Ballads likewise. I switch off from the immediate narrative and lose myself in the sound & images, which is where the real magic lies; after all, ballad narratives aren't exactly that riveting, unlike the episodic imagery & language which is.

How we each listen to songs is just as personal as how we sing them. When I was a kid, I had friends who bought lyric mags of Pop Songs to hear what was going on. I never cared. I used to think Big Yellow Taxi was about the Caud Lad o' Hyton (don't ask!) and even to this day listen to all manner of vocal musics from different eras, countries & traditions where the sound is all that matters. Words as written or spoken prose carry different levels of meaning to words in poems; words in song takes this even deeper. The surface narrative is superficial; the inner seance of thing is what it's about.

For me anyway.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 06:26 AM

A Folk Singer is someone who takes a Traditional Song and makes it their own. They will take as much delight in the source of the thing as in the remaking of it to suit. They will also have the humility to recognise that in doing so they are not part of The Tradition, but rather The Revival, and in introducing their songs they will acknowledge the source and urge their audience to seek it out and thus experience the Real Thing. Recently I urged our audience to seek out Ollie Gilbert's singing of Diver Boy which my wife and I have remade as a two-voiced harmonious folk song with instrumental accompaniment all a million miles away from Ollie Gilbert's superlative unnaccompanied feral version which may be heard on the Max Hunter Collection website. One punter piped up Why should we do that? That's your job!. I shook my head in mock dismay, but maybe they had a point after all. I revel in the sound of Old Songs being sung by Old Singers; to me THAT is The Tradition right there. What the rest of do is simply Folk Music which uses that material, however so respectfully, to create a more palatable product for modern ears - or not, as the case may. In many instances Folk Music has become an extension of MOR Easy Listening; people often accuse me of being Too Extreme in my Traditional Approach; others accuse me of not being Traditional (or extreme) enough. As Oor Wullie says - Ye Canna Win!

One thing I doubt is that there is an overarching Aesthetic to govern what is or is not Traditional in terms of approach. The more I listen, so the bigger it gets and there will always be exceptions not to prove the rule, but to blow any rule out of the water. I always come back to someone as utterly unique and idiosyncratic and extreme as Davie Stewart (AKA The Galoot and my Trad Hero) who was truly a Master of his Traditional Craft and a perfect joy to listen to in every respect. We Post-Revivalists however live in a bigger world; we must acknowledge a wider range of cultural input in terms of what has shaped our approach to our respective Folk Musics. On one hand the Old Singers, on the other the New Singers, and on the other the great voices of our time from Robert Wyatt to Ian Curtis (speaking for myself) because Folk is (and always has been) just one small part of a much much bigger picture. Call it Post-Revival, or Neo-Traditionalism, but whilst I still feel it's essential to respect a very significant line between the one thing and the other, I nevertheless balk at the implications of pure exalted bloodlines in favour of a more inclusive approach. But that's a personal thing really; my inner demonic-dilema born of too deep steated a scepticism to cure myself of now. Whilst no-one can become a Traditional Singer, anyone can become a Folk Singer. All they need is a love of the Old Songs, and shed loads what Roy Castle called dedication - not to mention a decent pair of wings to keep above the bullshit.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: r.padgett
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 05:59 AM

Ok I do not regard myself as a musician (player of an instrument) however Vic Gammon remarked once that singers are infact musicians!

I was not blessed as a player of a musical instrument!

However Traditional song tells stories and this is where I place my emphasis!

Tunes and instrumentation should help to convey the lyrics/narrative, surely?

Ray


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 05:41 AM

"A 'traditional' singer these days in the context of an English 'folk club' could perhaps be defined in the main as an older person from a declining demographic who could not be bothered to become a musician. Perhaps?"
And a singer-songwriter might be defined as a somebody who can't - or can't be bothered to read up on the subject he or she claims to be part of - perhaps?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,roderick warner
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 07:57 PM

A 'traditional' singer these days in the context of an English 'folk club' could perhaps be defined in the main as an older person from a declining demographic who could not be bothered to become a musician. Perhaps?


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 07:02 PM

323 posts, and more hops than Ben Truman.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 03:03 PM

"What people usually mean by tradition is old-fashioned or just plain old (I think even I qualify there!)."
Not really - otherwise, by your own statement, Domingo would be a traditional singer - surely you're not arguing that he is?
Tradition, when applied to a specific activity, dance, stories, customs, music..... is more than mere repetition and, if communities still have a use for the practice referred to, it does not necessarily have to be "old". It is part of the identifying definition of a specified activity, a reference to the process that it has passed through in order to have arrived at where it did, in the form that it finally took.
"Folk" is equally a part of the definition; a direct reference to the song's/story's/custom's/dance's origins - the people who made it, remade it and adopted it as a part of their culture.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Shantyfreak
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 01:10 PM

Surely there is no argument here. A traditional singer is one who sings traditional songs in the traditional way.

The real question is what is traditional? Domingo sings Opera in the traditional way. Canotors in the synagogue sing in the traditional way and so on and so on.

What people usually mean by tradition is old-fashioned or just plain old (I think even I qualify there!).

Jim


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Musket
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 11:38 AM

Tonight, I will put on my waistcoat to go with my jeans and collarless shirt, insist on real ale (whatever that means,) sing traditional songs and LIVE THE DREAM!

And on the way home ponder on what you have to do to go from being a singer of traditional songs to being a traditional singer? I reckon it is a title bestowed on you rather than setting out your stall as such.

A deputy down the pit I used to work at went around singing "Her hair hung down from her tiddle eye po!" Nothing else, just that one line. Never at home, never in the pub / club / supermarket / bookies, but just from the minute he went through the lamp room to coming out of the baths. Just that, and only then.

irritating old bugger but I can't help thinking he must therefore be nearer to being a traditional singer than my thirty odd years of sticking my finger in my ear for reasons other than removing wax.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 08:00 AM

I'll repeat my upthread remarks of Aug. 31 - Sept. 1, 2010.

They still look good to me.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 07:29 AM

Hmmmm - and a big, long Hmmmmmmm it is too, as I'm sure you're all too aware, but I must acknowledge that impulse, and respect it, without bringing in my usual model-railway and historical re-enactment analogies - themselves hatched, incidentally, in the company of a Traditional Singer and Storyteller of Great Renown who thought much the same way as you did and counselled me strongly against thinking otherwise. I always thought he was being too kind myself, and too deferential in passing his own stuff off as Traditional when it was quite obviously his own work. Thus I might say Tradition is the Stuff that Songs (etc.) are Made On, or that All is born of Tradition - allowing that The Tradition that gave us the singular masterpiece of King Henry or Butter and Cheese and All isn't something we can tap into at our leisure.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: reynard
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 06:45 AM

It's not the songs that are traditional,it's the singers- because they draw from the accumulated store of tradition and the community of those who share the tradition. Just like us.

I like "Post-Revivalists"! But it kinda misses the point I was making...


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 06:17 AM

I think it (i.e. my quip) carries more weight in respect of the impact of Revival Expectations on even the most pure-blooded of extant traditional singers, or else the very notion that such innocence might exist and persist in a modern society.

The quip was, admittedly, a necessary response to the preceding point, and my brief list of names (there are others, of course) was little more than the raised eyebrow you invited.

'Revival Expectations' are held in some quarters at least to have compromised the styles of such diverse performers as Jeannie Robertson, Fred Jordan and Bob Cann, although I'm not aware that people like Will Noble or Vic Legg do anything much different from what they always did in non-revival settings - and they might not appreciate being told that their 'innocence' has been destroyed by by 'Revival Expectations'. Jeff Wesley has certainly picked up songs in folk clubs, as Fred did. To suggest that they should not - as some have done - is to judge traditional singers by a standard we wouldn't apply to anyone else.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Warwick Slade
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 05:22 AM

Sorry Ray, just a bit of irony


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 05:04 AM

We're All Revivalists Now!

This quip was made in response to Reynard's preceding claim that It's time to claim the name for ourselves; we are now the traditional singers, we are the tradition. He's not the first to suggest this; such claims have been made throughout the Revival I'm sure and I dare say the feelings have been sincere enough too, however so fanciful in respect of the nature of Folk as a Cultural Theology. Thinking about it in a little more depth I think it (i.e. my quip) carries more weight in respect of the impact of Revival Expectations on even the most pure-blooded of extant traditional singers, or else the very notion that such innocence might exist and persist in a modern society. Maybe I should have said We're All Post-Revivalists Now...

*

The Truly Tradition Singer is one who draws in the breath with which to then excite into harmonic vibration his or her vocal cords by controlled exhalation with which to further modify with the aperatus of the oral cavity. By this means might we find the common ground of everything from Opera to Khoomie, all of them the consequence of an unbroken human tradition which not only predates the advent of our very humanity but also unites us with our fellow primates (Gibbons are especially musical* in this respect - I can recommend the morning songs of both Pilated and Siamangs) and many other species. We were singing before ever we were talking, and in this act we have retained the same atavistic values and virtues as our earliest hominid forebears, though maybe this isn't the time nor the place to go too deeply into that. Suffice it to say the earliest examples of Cro-Magnon song were never recorded, much less collected; another job for our time-travelling musicologists I think...

* Like Folk, Music can be something we may bestow upon any sound regardless of the intention of the composer, human or otherwise, thus giving the lie to having never heard a horse sing a song.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: r.padgett
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 01:56 AM

No no you cant have traditional sings written by McColl, or Bob Dylan sheesh!

Ray


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Warwick Slade
Date: 19 Jul 11 - 02:01 PM

Big Al is right. It's all about singing and enteraining so why put a complex label on it. Life is too short, so just get one. We all know there are great traditional songs out there, some written by Ewan McCall or Bob Dylan, so sing, enjoy and then duck!


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: GUEST,Brian Peters
Date: 19 Jul 11 - 01:28 PM

"We're All Revivalists Now!"

Vic Legg? Viv Legg? Will Noble? Jeff Wesley?

Nice note of sanity from Big Al after all the sound and fury.


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Subject: RE: Traditional singer definition
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 19 Jul 11 - 12:29 PM

Reynard's right. If you want to use the term 'revival' then even the most cursory examination of traditional song and singers will show you that it starts around the Renaissance which is, of course just a posh way of saying 'Revival'. So I guess Suibhne's right too…go figure.


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