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Ballad Workshops-antidote to Celtic Connections

Anne Neilson 15 Dec 10 - 04:50 PM
Gallus Moll 15 Dec 10 - 07:03 PM
Anne Neilson 15 Dec 10 - 07:41 PM
michaelr 15 Dec 10 - 08:23 PM
Anne Neilson 16 Dec 10 - 05:32 AM
Owen Woodson 16 Dec 10 - 06:11 AM
Anne Neilson 16 Dec 10 - 06:24 AM
Brian Peters 16 Dec 10 - 06:36 AM
Owen Woodson 16 Dec 10 - 10:35 AM
Maryrrf 16 Dec 10 - 10:49 AM
Anne Neilson 16 Dec 10 - 11:12 AM
michaelr 17 Dec 10 - 12:09 AM
Anne Neilson 17 Dec 10 - 03:16 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Dec 10 - 03:30 AM
Anne Neilson 17 Dec 10 - 04:10 AM
GUEST,FairEllender 17 Dec 10 - 01:43 PM
Anne Neilson 17 Dec 10 - 06:26 PM
GUEST,FairEllender 17 Dec 10 - 07:05 PM
Anne Neilson 17 Dec 10 - 07:16 PM
Anne Neilson 19 Dec 10 - 10:01 AM
GUEST,Chris P 19 Dec 10 - 11:18 AM
Anne Neilson 19 Dec 10 - 12:02 PM
randjgc 21 Dec 10 - 09:22 AM
GUEST,John Farmer 21 Dec 10 - 10:52 AM
Anne Neilson 21 Dec 10 - 12:06 PM
randjgc 21 Dec 10 - 12:48 PM
GUEST 21 Dec 10 - 01:33 PM
GUEST,FairEllender 21 Dec 10 - 07:00 PM
sionnach 21 Dec 10 - 08:05 PM
GUEST 22 Dec 10 - 03:04 AM
randjgc 22 Dec 10 - 03:07 AM
Anne Neilson 22 Dec 10 - 05:34 AM
sionnach 22 Dec 10 - 11:15 PM
GUEST,Guest 23 Dec 10 - 10:04 PM
Anne Neilson 02 Jan 11 - 07:08 PM
GUEST 05 Jan 11 - 03:15 PM
Fred McCormick 05 Jan 11 - 03:26 PM
Anne Neilson 11 Jan 11 - 07:42 PM
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Subject: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Con
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 04:50 PM

Glasgow Ballad Workshop is pleased to announce that we will be presenting three traditional ballad workshops as an alternative to the programme of Celtic Connections festival.
On Sundays 16th and 30th January we will be offering two less familiar ballads to explore, and on Sunday 23rd we have a special guest event, featuring Arthur Watson from Aberdeen -- formerly of the influential group The Gaugers (with Tom Spiers and the late Peter Hall) and more recently with Shepheard, Spiers and Watson .
Each event can stand alone, but there is a discount for anyone booking all three -- and BOOKING IS REQUIRED as space is limited.
To sign up, please link to    http://lauriesacousticmusicbar.co.uk and follow through to the Ballad Workshop link.

We look forward to meeting some Mudcatters there.


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 07:03 PM

Thanks for the reminder EK, looking forward to these events!


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 07:41 PM

Can a kind techie person please provide a clicky link for the original post?
(Grovelling apologies, but I did try -- just not as technically competent as I need/would like to be!)


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: michaelr
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 08:23 PM

Link.


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 05:32 AM

Many thanks to Santa's little helper! (Don't know what folk like me would do without folk like Michael -- many thanks.)
Actually, this gives me the opportunity to let you know that pre-booking is looking good -- almost half the places for one of the events are taken, with people travelling from Oxford, Inverness, Dunoon and the Borders (weather permitting!). And with such a far-flung attendance, it means some unusual versions are brought to the sharing part of the sessions.

So make a commitment and book now if you're interested, rather than be disappointed.


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 06:11 AM

EKanne,

An excellent idea. I detest the whole anodyne Celtic consciousness issue. If I could get up there, a ballad workshop or three would be a fine antidote.


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 06:24 AM

Owen, the workshops will be anything but anodyne -- we haven't quite settled on the ballads to present yet, but contenders offer sororicide, infanticide, swashing and buckling, magic and smothering!


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Brian Peters
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 06:36 AM

Good on you, Anne!


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 10:35 AM

Can we have a few Cruel Mothers and Bonny Mill Dams and maybe an Outlandish Knight or two? And if anyone turns up brandishing a wee penknife, looking for Fair Ellender, make sure Lord Thomas doesn't cut the heid aff her.

Oh and I nearly forgot. The king sits in Dunfermline town debating whether to go. It depends whether he can get a skilly sailor to show him the way.


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Maryrrf
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 10:49 AM

Wishing, wishing wishing I could be there.......


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 11:12 AM

Wishing, wishing, wishing you could be too, Mary.

@Owen, unfortunately if the king is sat in Dunfermline toun, then two of our regular attenders might also be stuck there too!

So wish us some decent weather in January and we can set about all this mayhem in bright sunshine....


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: michaelr
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 12:09 AM

Owen, please translate into plain English anodyne Celtic consciousness issue. I don't know what that means.


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 03:16 AM

@michaelr -- I can't presume to speak for Owen, but I can promise that we will present nothing that is either wishy-washy or ethereal.
Our ballads will deal with strong and recognisable human emotions, characters will be vigorous and sturdy (if occasionally also wrong-headed!) and the eternal moral dilemmas will be explored.


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 03:30 AM

"I can promise that we will present nothing that is either wishy-washy or ethereal."
Does that mean you 'won't' be having Tom Jones - shame!!!!
Good luck,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 04:10 AM

@ Jim -- Personally I have wished on occasion for Tom Jones to be a bit MORE wishy-washy!

But no, we won't be having himself; we WILL be having real emotions on the other hand, not OTT demonstrations of artificially generated dramatics. Would that suit you?

And thank you for your good wishes.


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: GUEST,FairEllender
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 01:43 PM

Looking forward to the workshops, Anne - and had a great titter about the Celtic Rejections Festival comments....of course I must tactfully restrain myself as usual ;-)

FairEllender


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 06:26 PM

Ellender, are you sure you wouldn't be happier off-loading?

Being serious, it's the attendance of knowledgeable enthusiasts like yourself that makes the workshops so worthwhile and that convinces us that strong, honest songs speak more directly to the heart than some of the pap that the official programme of CC promotes.

(For those not in the know, The Ballad Workshops were first offered in January 2010 when Celtic Connections Festival had very little of recognisable traditional song on offer. The response was such that the workshops continued to the point where we have now successfully presented 11 teaching workshops and 2 guest events -- with Sheila Stewart and Ray Fisher -- and recently were unwillingly forced to cancel our latest guest event with Tom Spiers when north-east Scotland was under several feet of snow.)

Our intention is to continue with the same pattern -- learning , sharing and proffering supportive feedback, whilst promoting examples of good traditional performers in our guest events.
And it would be wonderful if the other people who shared our enthusiasm were acknowledged as valid "consumers" by the festival administrators, so that we might imagine a sizeable traditional section in future CC programmes!


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: GUEST,FairEllender
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 07:05 PM

Thanks Anne, and thanks for the hard work and commitment that yourself, Gordeanna and Ronnie put in - if only there were more people like you the state of traditional music would be in a stronger state than it is at present!

It would be somewhat hypocritical for me to *absolutely* slate 'Celtic' CON-nections seeing as I am actually attending a number of events - however I don't disagree with any of the points you make, and in fact I was pretty mystified when I saw the programme for this year. Many (with some noble exceptions) of the judgements being made by CC about bookings, presentation and musical direction is baffling, disappointing, and - when it comes to the support and publicity traditional music should be receiving - little short of morally indefensible. Whereas the sound judgements, integrity and sheer quality of the ballad workshops are *precisely* the kind of thing that CC should, without question, be about.

However, CC-related negativity aside, the ballad workshops are always an absolute joy and a much-needed affirmation of the power and efficacy of unaccompanied traditional song in good company!

FairEllender


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 07:16 PM

Well then, let's just "Accentuate the positive"!


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 19 Dec 10 - 10:01 AM

Ticket sales are looking good already, but we'd appreciate it mightily if people could cross fingers and toes for us to have decent weather in the second half of January!


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: GUEST,Chris P
Date: 19 Dec 10 - 11:18 AM

Your ballad workshops sound good.
Having had a look at the Celtic Connections website It seems like a pretty broad offer, and I wish fervently that something like that was available in Yorkshire (we have the ballad workshops) (or London, do I hear an echo?), I'm not too clear what you object to?


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 19 Dec 10 - 12:02 PM

Chris P, I'm not denying the quality of the individual musicians who have all been commercially successful in their chosen areas -- but over the years the programming has moved inexorably from a fair representation of Scottish traditional song/music to a position where it almost seems to have been subsumed into the "crossover" genre and very little is allowed to stand in its original state. Tunes are perhaps slightly more robust, but song too often IMHO is seen as an excuse for instrumentalists to jump in and make an "arrangement".

After more than 50 years' involvement with traditional Scottish song, I think I know what I like and that is why I so often find CC programming disappointing; even when there is a performer I would want to hear, too often (s)he is billed with other less attractive acts -- to me -- and at a ticket price that forces me to do sums to work out the value of a half hour slot!

There's no denying that CC attracts audiences from considerable distances, but the organisers seem to me to suffer from a lack of confidence in traditional song or an unwillingness to promote it and "educate" a potential audience. Too often their commitment to song produces a slew of American singer/songwriters -- probably very talented, but not to my personal taste.

And have you noticed that the links with English traditional music are seldom acknowledged?

Hope this gives you more of a sense of where I'm coming from!


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: randjgc
Date: 21 Dec 10 - 09:22 AM

I've been watching this evolve with some interest. For my own part, I've been a bit disenchanted with the populist trend of "folk music" for rather a long time, and have never been enchanted wirh Celtic Connections, which, when it comes to populist, beats them all hands-down.
I am pleased not to have the pleasure of knowing any of the organisers, but their credentials and their purpose should be open for discussion. I do not question the capability of the artistes; much of the skill level is quite wonderful. What I do question is their taste, if the whole umbrella is to cover "Traditional" music as CC claims. Most of the skills that we can hear owe much more to musicality of popular commercial music than to the music that I enjoy, and has given me so much.
There are those (within this thread) who are clearly supportive of the styles and techniques adopted by these "stars" who I criticise. Each and every one is entitled to an opinion, but lets not steal labels or dress something up as if it were something else. If you have devoted time to the reading and the listening of true, source-level traditional performers, you would immediately sense and identify the falseness of much that is purveyed. If you do not, and align yourself with the "well, this is the 21st century and things must change" argument, I would like you to tell me how the music of and singing of such as Joseph Taylor has morphed into the type of nonsense that you would pay to hear at CC, complete with different tonality, language expression, gestures (my god, Eddie Reader) and backing accompaniment that truly would not be out of place in an iTunes download with a shelf-life of three weeks. Don't come into my life telling me that the CC content should be the way it is and call itself Traditional unless you can argue your case beyond "well that's my opinion".
It is also interesting that CC boasts 1500 artistes and 300 events. This is probably more than Carpenter came across in his study of music in GB all these years ago (if you don't know about Carpenter, find out).
And on top of this....the temerity exists to call it "Celtic". Much of the product (and it IS product) contained in this 3 week pantheon) has a relation to the "Celtic" races only in that we brutalised them. I think this is their revenge.
So, all power to EKanne - let's have somthing sensible and lasting. And don't tell me you can learn the Northumbrian pipes in a day. There will, in the long term, be a memorial to all this commercial longing that has been spawned. I am reminded of Mark Twain, who expressed his view of Jane Austen (and P&P in particular) by saying that her would find her grave, dig her up, and beat her over the head with her own shin-bone. My sentiments exactly Mark, but about the panoply of CC that masquerades as Traditional music.


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: GUEST,John Farmer
Date: 21 Dec 10 - 10:52 AM

Christ RANDJGC pull that cork out of yer arse and start having some fun. It's just a music festival. You want to know how the music of and singing of such as Joseph Taylor has morphed into the type of music that you would pay to hear at CC? Why? Because it has. Naturally. Fine, if you want to hear music EXACTLY as it was way back when - listen to your recordings. Sit in a museum somewhere and take a big satisfied dump whilst thinking how righteous and authentic you are.

Music has changed in the last 50 years. In the 50 years before that it'd changed too, and it will again in the next 50 years. People like you and the BNP, harking back to how things were make me laugh out loud. The way things were? They were never like that and if they were it was only for a split second. Life moves on. Life changes. Music moves on, music changes. You sit in the past and moan about people getting off their arses and enjoying life if you want to, meanwhile, I'll enjoy CC thoroughly. It's a GREAT FESTIVAL. Delighted you won't be attending, like the fart in the lift you obviously are.


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 21 Dec 10 - 12:06 PM

Not sure why John Farmer is so aggressive about people with different opinions to his own, and very unhappy about his unfounded statement that seems to link randjgc with the BNP.

I don't agree with everything said on some threads but understood that there was an observed etiquette in these debates, a matter which seems to have escaped Guest JF, and as the originator of the thread I would prefer to see it stay civilised.

Randjgc seems to be complaining about the commodification of our traditional music, and my original point (not a million miles from his) was that those who "purvey" it commercially have lost all trust in the power of traditional song to speak directly to the human heart.
If that sounds naive to some, I have to say that I'm not alone in feeling the power when a song is delivered with love and genuine respect, and I know thee are others who post on this thread who feel the same way.

So, if Guest JF wants to go out and enjoy Celtic Connections, that's up to him and his wallet, but I would have been more impressed if he had allowed others the opportunity to be different without being so gratuitously unpleasant.


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: randjgc
Date: 21 Dec 10 - 12:48 PM

Sorry for upsetting you John, but I had hoped to stimulate some reasonable discussion on the inherent values of the tradition, and to try to relate that to what was actually happening in CC.

I'm not sure you've read and understood what I was trying to get across, so I obviously lack a bit of clarity in exoression, for which I apologise.

However, I don't think you have raised anything of any value or interest, other than the fact that "things change".

One of the core issues is the manner in which they change, how and why they change. In the case of "traditional music", the change is not a natural evolution in the UK, because we have a fragmented tradition. It is this issue of the fragmented tradition that allows the music to BE changed, by agencies and individuals who have visited the folk scene and seen it as a marketing / sales opportunity. These are the people who have made the types of changes that you refer to, and brought you along with those changes as a consumer.

I suspect your enjoyment would still be as great were Cheryl Cole to sing Lord Bateman for you, because to you, it's just a "music festival". No social significance, no values, not relevance, no qualities.


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Dec 10 - 01:33 PM

I omitted to say, John, that my primary motivation for joining in the thread was to try to put into some kind of context the value and relevance of what EKanne is striving to achieve -

"presenting three traditional ballad workshops as an alternative to the programme of Celtic Connections festival".

This I applaud. When the original Edinburgh Festival was launched, it was less than 20 years before the Festival was hijacked by the establishment. This hijacking is what created the Fringe Festival - an "alternative" Festival for those who choose to care.


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: GUEST,FairEllender
Date: 21 Dec 10 - 07:00 PM

Thanks to randjgc, Ekanne and others for eloquently expressing their views. Once again it seems Mudcat attracts, like suicidal wasps to jam, an individual from the ignorant, offensive and barely literate brigade whose sole aim appears to be to humiliate themselves in the face of better taste and higher sensibilities. Let's pass that nonsense over and get back to what the thread is actually about.

The point is that we are talking here about a festival that claims to be about 'Celtic' music, or music with ostensible 'connections' to the same. Now there are limits to this remit, surely. If you have the reputation which CC enjoys, the wealth of high profile and influential individuals at its helm, and its considerable budget, why not utilise these strengths to the benefit, not the detriment, of traditional music (of ANY country)? It is quite clear to me and anyone else of sense that a 'folk' (that dreaded word) festival which aims to benefit the musical genre with which it aligns itself should employ their resources in supporting and promoting traditional and traditionally influenced artists - of which Scotland alone has countless numbers (oh my, how thoroughly BNP of me). It is also quite clear that a festival which aims to be detrimental to the same tradition should book a large number of artists, no matter how talented, that simply have nothing to do with traditional music. I need name no names here - if you can't see the difference, then please go ahead and enjoy giving the likes of Celtic Rejections and Cambridge Boke Festival your ill-earned cash. I am just confused about which side CC seems to be on.

It makes me quite sick to see opportunities for promoting the rich and incomparably powerful traditions of Scotland, Britain and elsewhere being wholeheartedly ditched in favour of 'easy wins', many of whom have *no* possible connection with traditional music. It also makes me sick to repeatedly bang my head against the brick wall of those who are so blandly 'general' and passive in their musical knowledge that they are far more bigoted and narrow minded than the 'folk fascists' they accuse. It really does get rather tiring after a while.

FairEllender


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: sionnach
Date: 21 Dec 10 - 08:05 PM

I'm firmly on the side of EKanne, FairEllender and randjgc here.

I think the festival has lost focus, even in the short time (since 2008) I've been aware of its existence. Take, for example, the Creole Choir of Cuba (random selection - the brochure just fell open at their page): I'm sure they are an excellent ensemble, but I'm also sure there must be other more general festivals where their offering would have more relevance. I struggle to see any "Celtic Connection" here (apart from, perhaps, a vague exile-creating similarity between Papa Doc and Patrick Sellar...)

Where are the mainstream Celtic performers? Where are the non-Celts whose traditional background has been influenced to a greater or lesser extent by contact with the Celtic tradition? There are, admittedly, a few of each of those categories, but they are almost lost amidst a welter of world "roots" music. By all means welcome performers from other traditions, but let's have majority representation for the tradition named on the tin!

sionnach


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 03:04 AM

oh well...I didn't really want a hornets nest or vituperous polarisation, but it's interesting to see the views.

What would be more interesting to me is if EKanne could give us a bit more on what is actually IN a Workshop?

I got as far as this -

http://www.lauriesacousticmusicbar.co.uk/ballad_workshop.htm

Is it the case that you can't order through the website?

Anyway, good to see indicidual initiative and street-based activity like this.


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: randjgc
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 03:07 AM

sorry folks - the last post was me. Just too early to remember to login.


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 05:34 AM

@randjgc -- to answer your last question first; I'm not sure what you mean by "ordering through the website", but if you go onto the website and click on the Ballad Workshop link you'll then find another link which takes you directly to me -- where you can reserve a workshop place as numbers for some events are limited.

As to what happens at a workshop... There is no fixed formula, but Gordeanna McCulloch and I select a ballad ahead of time that is not often sung (we always start by looking for a good story) and we may have to find a tune for it if none is available. We teach the tune in a very basic form, so that there is plenty of room for 'pushing it about' according to the requirements of the text; and then we go through the text - with many pauses for discussion about meaning of words, emotions and motivations of characters, relevant folklore etc. etc.
When we think we've all found an understanding of the story that suits us (and there could be different interpretations around the room), we begin to marry tune and text to produce an attractive version.
Marriage of words and melody is the biggest part of the work at one of our workshops, and participants realise that they have the freedom to alter the word order or add wee words to help the line sit comfortably on the tune; or they might alternatively adapt the tune to make it fit the words. We believe that this is what traditional singers often do unconsciously, so we're trying to encourage the development/re-awakening of that inner ear. And there is no intention of producing THE RIGHT VERSION, because there can be no such thing as the right version -- just a version that is pleasing to each individual.

Apologies if this is more information than you wanted or needed, but I realised that there may be some people who expect a workshop to GIVE them 'the answer'; we're just hoping to offer participants a possible process towards finding their own answer.


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: sionnach
Date: 22 Dec 10 - 11:15 PM

Thanks, EKanne, for bringing us back to the main purpose of your thread!

For the benefit of anyone reading this who hasn't been to one, I earnestly recommend these workshops. I've been to two so far: they were both huge fun, and more than fulfilled the aims EKanne has described. Thus, it was a no-brain decision to attend two more next month!

sionnach


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 23 Dec 10 - 10:04 PM

We were in Glasgow for a few days in April (2010) and would have loved to have got together with a few or even a lot of likeminded people to sing some real traditional songs.
Unfortunately for a city the size of Glasgow there seems to be very little happening on that front although we did manage to find some almost acceptable music, albeit in expensive watering holes.
Keep up the good work Gordeanna and friends and maybe next time?


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Subject: RE: Traditional music/antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 02 Jan 11 - 07:08 PM

Dear Guest of 23rd December,

Sorry you were left disappointed in Glasgow last April, but if you're ever back here, please pm me to find out if there's anything trad. on offer.

And meantime, the current workshop offers are arousing very good pre-booking response, so don't be left out if you want to be there!

Look forward to seeing more of you there,
Anne.


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Subject: Folklore: Ballad Workshops
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jan 11 - 03:15 PM

Quite by chance, I came across what looks like an interesting site -
http://www.simplywhatson.com/listing.php
and noted a Ballad Workshop in Glasgow at the same time as Celtic Connections.
Have I missed something, or has this been publicised? Also, I like the site itself.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Ballad Workshops
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 05 Jan 11 - 03:26 PM

It has. There's a thread on it already in existence.


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Subject: RE: Ballad Workshops-antidote to Celtic Connections
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 11 Jan 11 - 07:42 PM

Update for any visitors to Glasgow during Celtic Connections -- places at the Ballad Workshops on 16th, 23rd and 30th January (run independently of the commercial festival) are filling up nicely, so please book -- using the blue clicky link above -- to reserve your ticket.

Look forward to seeing some Catters there.


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