Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafesj

Post to this Thread - Printer Friendly - Home
Page: [1] [2] [3]


Classic folk music

GUEST,Suibhne Astray 14 Jan 11 - 08:36 PM
GUEST,glueman 14 Jan 11 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 14 Jan 11 - 01:56 PM
GUEST,glueman 14 Jan 11 - 11:13 AM
theleveller 14 Jan 11 - 11:10 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 14 Jan 11 - 10:27 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Jan 11 - 10:21 AM
theleveller 14 Jan 11 - 06:40 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 14 Jan 11 - 06:38 AM
GUEST,glueman 14 Jan 11 - 06:29 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 14 Jan 11 - 05:31 AM
Smedley 14 Jan 11 - 04:41 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Jan 11 - 04:12 AM
GUEST,glueman 14 Jan 11 - 04:12 AM
theleveller 14 Jan 11 - 03:32 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Jan 11 - 10:31 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Jan 11 - 10:27 AM
theleveller 13 Jan 11 - 06:40 AM
Paul Davenport 13 Jan 11 - 05:48 AM
treewind 13 Jan 11 - 05:44 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 13 Jan 11 - 05:44 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Jan 11 - 05:41 AM
GUEST,glueman 13 Jan 11 - 04:41 AM
theleveller 13 Jan 11 - 04:23 AM
Jim Carroll 13 Jan 11 - 04:08 AM
theleveller 13 Jan 11 - 03:22 AM
GUEST 12 Jan 11 - 05:48 PM
GUEST,Richard I 12 Jan 11 - 05:40 PM
GUEST,glueman 12 Jan 11 - 05:26 PM
Don Firth 12 Jan 11 - 03:39 PM
Paul Davenport 12 Jan 11 - 01:08 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 12 Jan 11 - 12:41 PM
MGM·Lion 12 Jan 11 - 12:15 PM
theleveller 12 Jan 11 - 11:20 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 12 Jan 11 - 10:40 AM
theleveller 12 Jan 11 - 10:28 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 12 Jan 11 - 10:23 AM
Sue Allan 12 Jan 11 - 10:13 AM
Sue Allan 12 Jan 11 - 10:12 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Jan 11 - 09:44 AM
Jim Carroll 12 Jan 11 - 09:42 AM
theleveller 12 Jan 11 - 09:34 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 12 Jan 11 - 09:23 AM
theleveller 12 Jan 11 - 08:49 AM
theleveller 12 Jan 11 - 08:41 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 12 Jan 11 - 08:34 AM
theleveller 12 Jan 11 - 08:15 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 12 Jan 11 - 08:10 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 12 Jan 11 - 08:01 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 12 Jan 11 - 07:59 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:













Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 08:36 PM

I could tell you some tales, like the time my viola bow exploded after some sonic archaeology in the West Kennet Long Barrow approaching the summer solstice 1985 - tried recording the session on a borrowed Walkman Pro but got nowt but weird EVP that subsequently vanished. Oo-er - a bit spooky, eh?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 02:16 PM

The 'Oh Whistle and I'll Come To You my Lad' instrument might work if you can live with animated bedsheets?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 01:56 PM

Back in the day I evolved a musical system using prehistoric cup & ring carvings and a notion of resonant beakers; it still figures actually, though these days I'm less given to using animal horns & suchlike naturally sourced instruments.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 11:13 AM

I used to deal in the pot shard interpretation business back in the day. Although my projections were based on the entry and exit trajectories of the chunk of ceramic in question and a working knowledge of the available material, it was a specialist who had the last word on whether my 'hawkeye' take on bowl radius hit the wicket or missed the off stump.

Some of his 'try again' suggestions required such bizarre geometric contortions that one was forced to conclude the specialist had access to a time machine or was making the dirty old lump of clay fit his speculative PhD dissertation rather than any extant pots. It left me with a suspicion of backstory or futurology based on limited sources, as well as a jaded view of vested interests that latched onto them.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 11:10 AM

Thanks, Jim. The sound samples on the Prehistoric Music of Ireland site are EXACTLY what I'd hoped they'd sound like. Brilliant stuff. I want to get my hands on one of the horns and go and play it by Rudston Monolith on the Yorkshire Wolds - god knows what sleeping spirits it might awaken!

"Anyway - more than a hint of renewal in the air right now, and the music is all that matters"

I'll go along with that!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 10:27 AM

Fascinating stuff. I wasn't knocking Bellowhead there by the way - more power to them I say, likewise all bands & singers of the revival both great & small, old & young - the folk renaissance indeed which is how it feels right now as Oak, Ash & Thorn drops through my door and I realise to my simultaneous delight & horror I'm likely to be the oldest one on there. How the hell did that happen? All these years I've been the youngest! Anyway - more than a hint of renewal in the air right now, and the music is all that matters... Classic folk indeed.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 10:21 AM

"Best of luck with yours"
And with yours.
Are you aware of the work being done in Ireland (Prehistoric Music of Ireland) by Simon O'Dwyer?
We had him at our local history society last year (along with his trumpa) - quite fascinating, but I'm not qualified to say how accurate he is.
Bob Quinn has also done a great deal of work on the subject.
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 06:40 AM

Jim, I think that's a very fair reply and, I have to say, your research sounds fascinating. I wouldn't claim to be a historian myself, but I have, over the years, done a lot of historical research for various projects. Best of luck with yours! (And yes, I admit to the unintentional arrogance born of enthusiasm!)

Suibhne:
"Being Folk, of course, there is invariably an aura of attendant worth"

I'd just say it was fun. Ageing folkies like me don't get much of a chance to pogo at concerts these days!

"Anything to link to on this one??"

Only just started. It's part of background for my new novel. The premise for the musical element is basically that certain ancient sites may themselves have been musical instruments of some sort. Hardy says of Stonehenge, in that spine-tingling end to Tess of the D'Urbervilles:

"The wind, playing upon the edifice, produced a booming tune, like the note of some gigantic one-stringed harp. No other sound came from it... Overhead something made the black sky blacker, which had the semblance of a vast architrave uniting the pillars horizontally. They entered carefully beneath and between; the surfaces echoed their soft rustle; but they seemed to be still out of doors..."

and John Cowper Powys talks about the sound of the "ghost wind" in Maiden Castle. So could, perhaps, the music that accompanied ritual ceremonies, processions around cursi etc. have resembled a sort of ambient music that combined with the naturally-produced sounds, similar maybe to the electronic ambient music produced today or Balinese gamelan music. There's a clue in Polybius' report of the Battle of Telemon in 225BC between the Romans and the Celts, where he describes the "dreadful din" of the Celtic horns:

"for there were innumerable hornblowers and trumpeters and, as the whole army were shouting their war-cries at the same time, there was such a tumult of sound that it seemed that not only the trumpeters and the soldiers but all the country round had got a voice and caught up the cry"

Anyway, that's as far as I've got. Sorry if I'm being boring!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 06:38 AM

That smacks of a kind of absolutism (if that's the word I want) which seems to me to contradict your other arguments. Just wondering !

The recording in question is, of course, just a document, a fragment, a mere shard; the tip of the proverbial iceberg that serves as an indicator of a condition vast and wondrous. Archaelogists deal with fragments & shards as a matter of course; even as a casual punter I might go into the Ryland's Library in Manchester and gaze at Papyrus P52, which also indicates something vast and wonderful in terms of our cultural continuity & inspires a similar sense of wonder, even unto a Godless oik like myself. Its purity is, therefore, not absolute in itself, rather integral to its corporeal essence which is born simply from the fact that it exists at all, which is miracle enough to me. Having heard Brigg Fair sung to death by generations of Teachers & Revival Singers I might still listen to the Joseph Taylor fragment in a state of near Epiphany, and hear it afresh, each time as though for the very first time, and still feel the depths it implies - for, not only this fragment is the culmination of all that went before, but you can hear that in every turn of Joseph Taylor's masterful singing - which is something you'll never get from a revival performance.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 06:29 AM

As someone who quite likes Bellowhead much of the attraction is in the rarity, outside of the classical repertoire at least, of a big band knocking out old favourites. When one acknowledges the folk well inhabited by wax cylinder voiced recipients of The True Faith has to all intents dried up, one is forced to look further afield for the authentic.

Personally, I find Bellowhead's jazz swing folk far less offensive than 4th generation facsimiles of the original sauce singers.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 05:31 AM

I'm interested in the way that folk music is developing and being reinterpreted by today's performers like, for instance, Bellowhead.

Surely all Bellowhead are doing is making saleable product for the purposes of popular consumption & entertainment? Being Folk, of course, there is invariably an aura of attendant worthiness (often justified) but that's all part of the general aesthetic which Folkniks get off on as much as Heavy Metal types get off deathheads and busty leatherclad vampires (always justified) or the sumpuous packages, copious notes & libretto of Alia Vox CDs (likewise). No harm in this of course - after all, this is how (most) great music is made these days, but the nature of Traditional Folk Song in its Natural Habitat was a very different beast and I think one at least must acknowledge this whatever you're personal tastes might be.

But my current project goes the other way in time: research into the use and production of music in Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain.

Anything to link to on this one??


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: Smedley
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 04:41 AM

Questions for Suibhne: isn't that 1908 recording which you lionise also, most likely, a development of earlier sung versions ? That this particular version was, very fortunately, recorded, hardly makes it "pure", does it ? I enjoy your posts in here and like your broad-mindedness and, in most cases, healthy disrespect for notions about 'purity' - so why does this version get held up as a yardstick for all others ? That smacks of a kind of absolutism (if that's the word I want) which seems to me to contradict your other arguments. Just wondering !


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 04:12 AM

"Well, the Watersons were one of the main reasons I became interested in folk music"
The Spinners did it for me, but like Topsy, I growed!. Please don't try and impose your personal tastes on others; your posting exudes a somewhat pompous arrogance (again, you are accusing others of something you are guilty of yourself).
I'm taken as seriously as I want to be and will happily show you my work if you show me yours.
I'm certainly not dismissive of the Hill's, Hobsbawms and Mortons, et al; they were all great historians IMO. I am familiar with their work and am grateful for being so, but they are only part of the picture; I outlined what I believe their limitations were; you chose to ignore that ond offer the rather feeble and empty defence that they were 'different' to what went before.
"..... you shouldn't be so dismissive of singers who are continuing the tradition"
I'm not dismissive of them as performers, they give pleasure to some - not me, but it takes all kinds.... As for their "continuing the tradition" - about as much as did Butterworth and Elgar did, I'd say.
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 04:12 AM

"The idea that our folk history has first to be filtered through the minds of the folk educated before it is fit to be passed on to us wannabe folk proles is an arrogance that is widely peddled in our 1954 obsessed society"

Fixed that for you.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: theleveller
Date: 14 Jan 11 - 03:32 AM

Jim, if you want to be taken seriously perhaps you shouldn't be so dismissive of singers who are continuing the tradition just because they don't fit in with your opinion about what the tradition is

e.g.

"Like Steeleye, and Pentangle, and The Watersons, and Woodstock, and The Beatles, and and and .... they will be a distant memory (fond or otherwise) of those who were there."

Well, the Watersons were one of the main reasons I became interested in folk music back in the mid-60s. To hear the songs of the area where I was born and brought up was a revalation.

"The idea that our history has first to be filtered through the minds of the educated before it is fit to be passed on to us proles is an arrogance that is widely peddled in our society."

I think it's actually rather arrogant to dismiss education in that way. The members of the Communist Party Historians Group (Hill, Hobsbawm, Morton, Thompson et al) approached history in a totally different way from the ruling elite of previous centuries.

And, finally:

"If that's what you wish to confine your interest to, sure we can; some of us like to lift up the corner and see what lies underneath."

No, I take a very wide view of music. I'm interested in the way that folk music is developing and being reinterpreted by today's performers like, for instance, Bellowhead. But my current project goes the other way in time: research into the use and production of music in Neolithic and Bronze Age Britain.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 10:31 AM

Sorry - missed a bit.
"On the other hand, we can all just sit back and enjoy the music in whatever interpretation we prefer"
If that's what you wish to confine your interest to, sure we can; some of us like to lift up the corner and see what lies underneath.
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 10:27 AM

"With all due respect, Jim, you're not a historian."
With equally due respect - how the hell do you know what I am; once again you are indulging in what you accused me of earlier - putting words, opinions, and experiences in the mouth of somebody you have neither met nor talked with.
If you mean I'm not a historian by profession, you are right.
On the other hand, I have had a life-long interest in history, particularly social and oral history and am at present involved in collecting and archiving the working practices of the local fishing and farming communities in this area, much of which is to be found in the local songs.
Whatever Hibbert, Postgate, Cole, Thompson... or whoever wrote, the fact remains; if I want to know which ships, officers or commanders took part in the Battle of Trafalgar, what weaponry, tactics, whatever, was used, I would probably find it in the Naval Records. If I am very lucky, I might even be able to scratch up a little information about the origins, backgrounds and experiences of a miniscule number of the ordinary seamen who did the hand-to-hand fighting. On the other hand, if I wanted to know the feelings and experiences of the men below deck, I would find them recorded in the songs they made and sang. The same goes for the mines, the mills, the bothies, the armed forces - you name it, it's all there in the songs and quite often, in the heads of the people who sang them (you should have heard Walter Pardon talk about life on the land at the beginning of the 20th century and the re-establishing of the Agricultural Workers Union).
The idea that our history has first to be filtered through the minds of the educated before it is fit to be passed on to us proles is an arrogance that is widely peddled in our society. We really do have our own history, and the ability to articulate it.
The field singers we were lucky enough to hear, meet and record were the last in a centuries-old line of a tradition that has now disappeared; it seems to be incredibly stupid and not a little arrogant to claim that we had and still have nothing to learn from them.
"Mine were family and friends...."
If that's the case with you Paul, you are one of a small and extremely fortunate minority; most of us were outsiders whocame to the music via the clubs, the books and the recordings.
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: theleveller
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 06:40 AM

"As far as cultural relevance is concerned, anybody who has spent any time with a source singer cannot fail to have noticed the cultural relevance that the songs had for their lives and to their interpretations of the songs they sang - something that has never made its way into the history books"

I think it's too simplistic to imply that the songs and the singers are inseperable - if that were the case they would never have survived. Are you talking about the cultural relevance of the songs in a broad historical context or the much narrower relvance to the singers you mention?

If you're talking about the former, then it has been investigated by historians - I've cited above the example of Christopher Hill.

With all due respect, Jim, you're not a historian. If your subject is the interpretation and performance of traditional songs in the twentieth century, you might just have a point. If you're looking at the wider social, cultural and historical context of traditional song, you're methodology, I'm afraid, doesn't pass muster. If you want to do that, I suggest reading a basic guide to research methodology such as Anthony Graziano's Research Methods: A Process of Enquiry.

On the other hand, we can all just sit back and enjoy the music in whatever interpretation we prefer and not feel that we have to constantly refer back to certain performances at a very narrow period in the life of the songs that we are told, quite arbitrarily, are 'definitive'.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 05:48 AM

Jim Carroll writes, 'they are OUR souces for the songs that drew us into folk music;'
No they're not Jim. Mine were family and friends. Most people know songs learned from these sources. One should not confuse repertoire with tradition. As a point of interest,Sam Larner's sources were, and I quote, "Chaps at sea, school, church choir…"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: treewind
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 05:44 AM

Don Firth:
(in response to my posting:
". . . the composer sets in stone every note that is to be played, and the orchestra plays no part in that creative process.")
"This seems to be a fairly common misconception held by folk music (and sometimes jazz) enthusiasts."

I totally agree with almost everything you wrote following that. But as well as being a folk music enthusiast and performer, I also spent the first 12 years of my musical life playing classical music, so I'm not subscribing to a common misconception.

The composer mostly DOES specify the notes that are to be played.
I said "the orchestra plays no part in THAT creative process" (note emphasis), meaning choosing what notes to play, harmonies and instrumentation. Within that structure I agree that the player (or for an orchestra, the conductor too) has a huge amount of creative license for tempo, phrasing, dynamics, timing and whatever else goes into making a page full of dots into a performance. There is also the choice of how big an orchestra to use. But with a few exceptions, the players do not routinely rewrite or rearrange the music and this remains a distinction between classical and folk performance.

Actually, Bellowhead are interestingly borderline in this respect. Paul Sartin (who of course has a classical music background) wrote out parts for each instrument in the band, and for many months after the band started gigging, the brass section even had sheet music with them on the stage. So it wouldn't be impossible for another band to play Bellowhead's arrangements as somebody imagined earlier in the thread.
But a folk band doing that would also have no qualms about changing the arrangement to suit their taste or instruments.

I still think that most orchestral musicians feel uncomfortable about straying from exactly what's written. Anecdotal example: I once played cello in an amateur performance of Handel's Messiah. There was one other cellist and no double bass. I don't remember if Handel wrote a bass part or whether the same part was supplied (as was common in his time) for both instruments, but I took it upon myself to play everything I could an octave lower so it would be at the equivalent pitch of a bass. It made perfect musical sense to me, but it had the girl playing 1st cello in fits of giggles because it seemed such a strange thing to do.

Anahata


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 05:44 AM

that spring from the creativity of those who are creating and performing it today.

I broadly agree with what you say here - and I love the idea of a Folk Renaissance - but whatever people do, it must remain rooted within the traditional source which remains crucial. I might sing a folk song in the context of 100% free improvisation using bamboo flute designs filched off David Toop circa 1977 (via his Quartz albums of Ritual Flute Music of New Guinea & others) but my reference is always to The Tradition. Apart from anything, in a purely revival context such creativity would be, alas, unthinkable...

And whatever the wellsprings of music, folk remains very music a theorectical construct predicated on a class / cultural condescension that sticks in my craw. And whilst I do grant much of our concept of The Tradition is determined by revival methodology (hence the ongoing bickering over the finer points) all that is as nothing when listening to (say) Percy Grainger's recording of Joseph Taylor singing Brigg Fair circa 1908 at which point all is perfection. This is the mastery I'm talking about - and nothing the revival has to offer can ever better that; it remains the pure and unassailable drop eternally.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 05:41 AM

"And, as I said above, the so-called "source singers" are not."
As far as we are concerned - yes they are; they are OUR souces for the songs that drew us into folk music; the Jeannie Robertsons and Harry Coxs and Phil Tanners provided the foundation on which the present revival was built - they were the door that we came through.
As far as cultural relevance is concerned, anybody who has spent any time with a source singer cannot fail to have noticed the cultural relevance that the songs had for their lives and to their interpretations of the songs they sang - something that has never made its way into the history books, which tend to be an account of lives and deeds of 'the great and the good' rather than the history of the people.
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 04:41 AM

I'd argue that once the songs were written down they inhabited a different textual form and that new form was the material of the revival. Traditional is deeply engraved in the musical expectations of when trad. became an idea. It is the music of recurrance, not continuity.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: theleveller
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 04:23 AM

Jim, you're putting words in my mouth again. I am not "boasting" - merely stating a fact. And, as I said above, the so-called "source singers" are not. They are just interpreters of traditional material at a point in time. To study the history, culture and relevance of the material does not require one to study these performers. The eminent historian, Christopher Hill, in his book 'Liberty Against the Law', which uses traditional songs and ballads as historical source material, makes no reference to these "source singers" but traces far earlier sources.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 04:08 AM

".....what Jim seemed to be implying (to my mind) was that it was essential to listen to the source singers to appreciate the songs in a modern context."
I am suggesting that anybody serious about becoming involved in folk (traditional) music is well advised to examine the body of songs and singers that brought about the revival that we are all involved in (not to slavishly imitate them certainly) and not go about boasting that they haven't.
As Suibhne points out, our folk repertoire holds its own with the best of our literature and music; is what drew most of us in, and kept many of us involved for as long as we have been.
Apart from anything else, the song tradition brings with it a great deal more baggage than just songs themselves and is an important part of our history and culture, even though it has never been recognised as such.
It's interesting to compare the Irish and English revivals and see the thousands of young Irish people who have been drawn in by traditional material, traditionally played and sung, guaranteeing that the music will survive for at least another generation or so - can the same be said of Britain?
I am in no way denigrating the 'experimental' tendency of 'folk music' but I do find it interesting that the longest surviving experimenters are the Butterworths and Vaughan Willims and Bartoks, who made no spurious claims that their music was 'genuine folk' and allowed it to stand on its own feet.
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: theleveller
Date: 13 Jan 11 - 03:22 AM

Just two quick points. Firstly, what is the "source" of folk music. I suspect that goes back far, far further than the so-called source singers who were collected and recorded. They are not the source, merely the well-head. In fact we could, if we wished, go back to the source of music itself if we wanted to perpetuate the dogma, and side with David Toop when he says, "The unverifiable origins of music are located by most musicologists either in bioacoustic and meteroelogical sounds or language...".

Secondly I think we need to differentiate between a folk revival and a folk renaissance. The first is the collection, preservation and performance of traditional songs and music from a former time; the second builds on the first but produces new, exciting, contemporary and relevant material and interpretations that spring from the creativity of those who are creating and performing it today.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 05:48 PM

Howzabout Hooked on Folk, a medley of popular songs to the strict tempo of an early Amdek drum machine? Now that's what I call broadside! Dum tsh, dum tsh, dum tsh, the turkman had one daughter...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,Richard I
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 05:40 PM

Dear Neophyte,

Do you understand what modes are, and do you understand what tonal scales are?

Do you understand the effect of recasting modal music in a system of romantic harmony?

I'm a trained classical musician, I spent years in Cathedral and oxbridge college choirs, and I recognise that Vaughan-Williams, Britten, and others (composers that I love) took and recast traditional music in the style of their day. Much in the respect that Tippett recast Negro spirituals for "Child in our time". It's a creation of something pleasing to the classical ear from folk resources. But it's a recasting of the music, and the idea that we have to be subservient to that recasting is, frankly, bonkers.

Have you heard Durufle's recastings of gregorian chant as choral motets? Those compositions are beautiful.

But would you go to a schola singing gregorian chant and say "why don't you sing it as Durufle wrote it?" Of course you wouldn't. Because you'd recognise that he's taken the material and done something new with it. That's he's taken modal material and recast it in tonal four part harmony. And that he's taken Gregorian rhythmics and recast them in a time signature and with rigid timing. It works for his motets, but it's not an authoritative performance of Gregorian chant. It was never meant to be.

The same is true of V-W and the way he used folk music. The same is true of Bartok and the way he used folk music, for that matter.

It doesn't replace traditional music or somehow rank higher than it (which is what you imply when you say 'inferior' and 'at this level'). It's reusing in a cultural setting.

Let me put it this way: V-W, Britten, Bartok, etc. were using folk music in the same way as folk-rock used it. Now if someone was to come in and say "I can't believe people don't play 'all around my hat' in exactly the way that Steeleye Span play it" then people would take issue with that. But what you claim is very similar.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 05:26 PM

The veiled attack on Bellowhead, and by extension any other contemporary folk expression is based on the potent revival myth of an ultimate performance, some backroom gold standard set in the early days of the observer's attention, be it the 50s or 90s and to which each subsequent performance necessarily falls short. A similar flexible measure obtains for trad singer. I'd suggest if Mike Yarwood ever finished his Saturday night mimetic extravaganza with a rendition of Tam Lin, replete with winks, leg kicks and the full supportive attentions of the Mick Samme's singers, he would indeed have become a folk singer

Talking of RVW I wonder whether his Fantasia on 'Why Fum'th in Fight?' is a form of folk process, rehabilitating a rousing hymn into an easy listening gem for aspirant media producers?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 03:39 PM

". . . the composer sets in stone every note that is to be played, and the orchestra plays no part in that creative process."

This seems to be a fairly common misconception held by folk music (and sometimes jazz) enthusiasts.

Consider the idiosyncratic Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould. He once said something to the effect that if a musician brings nothing new to the performance of a piece of music, he or she is "unnecessary." It's already been done, and that musician can be easily replaced by a recording.

From an article on Glenn Gould:

"Gould was known for his vivid musical imagination, and listeners regarded his interpretations as ranging from brilliantly creative to, on occasion, outright eccentric."

And

"The pianist's first recording, Bach: The Goldberg Variations, came in 1955, at Columbia Records 30th Street Studios in New York City. Although there was initially some controversy at CBS as to whether this was the most appropriate piece to record, the finished product received phenomenal praise and was among the best-selling classical music albums of its time. Gould became closely associated with the piece, playing it in full or in part at many of his recitals. Another version of the Goldberg Variations, recorded in 1981, would be among his last recordings, and one of only a few pieces he recorded twice in the studio. The 1981 recording was one of CBS Masterworks' first digital recordings. The two recordings are very different: the first, highly energetic and often frenetic; the second, slower and more introspective. In the latter, Gould treats the aria and its 30 variations as one cohesive piece."

The notes and the dynamic markings in both versions were the same, yet the two recorded performances are quite different.

Look at it this way:   some years ago, a friend and I listened to two recordings of Mark Antony's funeral oration ("Friends, Romans, countrymen. . . .") from Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," one by Marlon Brando (from the movie) and the other by Sir John Gielgud. They were as different as night and day. Yet, the words they were reading, or reciting, were the same. Same with different renditions of "To be or not to be" from "Hamlet," from stentorian versions as if by some over-emoting ancient Shakespearean actor (eyes closed, back of hand pressed to forehead) coming on like Senator Claghorn filibustering to Congress, to a quiet, contemplative recitation, such as the way Sir Lawrence Olivier did it in the 1940s movie (after all, Hamlet was contemplating suicide).

The words are the same. But the interpretations are very different.

Classical musicians are no more limited in their approaches and interpretations than actors are.

In the case of orchestral or ensemble playing, if all one had to do was play the notes as written, there would be no need for a conductor. A Mozart or Beethoven symphony is subject to interpretation in the same way that Bach's Goldberg Variations as played by Glenn Gould are. Each musician in the orchestra will have his or her personal interpretation of the way the notes should be played. And the results would be chaos! So what the orchestra winds up playing (after many rehearsals, to make sure that everyone is "on the same page" so to speak) is the conductor's interpretation of what the composer has written. Georg Solti's and Sir Simon Rattle's approaches to symphonic music are quite different. True, the musicians in the orchestra are setting their own personal ideas aside and following the conductor's interpretation. It's a cooperative effort. But this in no way means that, in a different situation, they are not capable of exercising their own creativity. The first violinist in a symphony orchestra may also play in a chamber group, and/or play solo recitals. Or, perhaps, get together with a few others and whip out some Bluegrass.

On a TV show some time back, I saw Itzak Perlman sawing away quite spectacularly with a couple of Bluegrass musicians. He obviously knew what he was doing and what the music was all about.

I also take issue with the idea that classical musicians can't ad lib, or have to learn to ad lib, as if the ability were granted only to folk and jazz musicians. Chamber music started early on when a group of friends would get together at someone's home with lutes, viols, recorders, etc., and jam. Usually the melodies they played would be written out, but that was it. There might be what was called a "figured bass," but the actual notes in the harmony parts, or in the contrapuntal lines, were improvised. So, apart from style, there is nothing new about jazz. Or a group of folk enthusiasts getting together to have a session.

Ad libbing and improvising was an essential part of it. And whether a person can ad lib or not is not necessarily dictated by the kind of music they play, but a matter of their own ability or lack thereof.

No, I'm sorry. Those who try to imply that classical training deprives a person of creativity are just plain wrong.

Don Firth

P. S.   I can get really suspicious of that viewpoint. In most cases, I think that it's matter of ignorance about classical music and the musicians who chose to play it. But sometimes it can have a somewhat sinister motivation. Early on, after slogging through guitar chord diagrams and having to ask what chords to play to accompany a particular song (like many people here on Mudcat, posting to ask for the chords for some song), I decided to learn some music theory. One particular singer, considerably more experienced than I, and with professional aspirations, got on my case about how any kind of classical lessons, especially music theory, would burden me down with all kinds of rules and prohibitions and completely destroy my creativity, and, he warned, I would never be able to do folk music.

I didn't see the logic of this. I went ahead, took classic guitar lessons, and studied music theory, first at the university's music department, then with a local composer who gave private theory and composition lessons.

Contrary to saddling me with rules and limitations, suddenly I was learning what was POSSIBLE! A wide open field of possibilities!

And here's the kicker! The singer (quite a good singer, in fact, who was doing a few concerts around and who had a record coming out) who had given me all the dire warnings? He claimed that he was totally devoid of musical training, had worked out everything on his own, and said that he couldn't even read music. I later learned from his sister that he had taken some nine years' worth of classical violin lessons before he got interested in folk music and took up the guitar.

The only conclusion I can come to (verified by a mutual acquaintance) is that, back then, seeing how eager I was, he was afraid that I could turn out to be competition!

As it turned out, he was right. After a couple of years, people started hiring me for the kind of singing jobs he generally got.

Kinda sad. . . .


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 01:08 PM

'The traditional source is the whole of the case, anything else is just a gloss, fun though it may be.'
Actually, I don't think it is. Why did the folk scene utterly reject Mary and John Taylor, traditional inheritors of their father's singing and repertoire? Joseph Taylor was either a tradition carrier in which case his children's singing was as valid as his own, or he was an individual stylist whose delivery, it seems, was far more important than the songs he was transmitting to his children. The reason, Mary said, was because they sounded, "too churchy". Hmm… the classical singing tradition v the 'traditional singing tradition?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 12:41 PM

The traditional source is the whole of the case, anything else is just a gloss, fun though it may be. I would hope the vast majority of revival singers of traditional songs (and their audiences) appreciate this fact and give respect accordingly. For sure we might bicker over the finer points, but ultimately this thing we call Folk owes everything to a Tradition of Popular Song and Balladry which is one of the cultural treasures of the English speaking world. Given that the revival owes its very existence to The Tradition one would have thought it would be every Folknik's joy to get as close to the source as possible and bask in its perfect radience - to marinade our very souls in the wine of such excellent balladry, and rejoice in the fact that we can do so, pretty much, at the touch of a button.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 12:15 PM

===I don't think it's [Bellowhead's approach] meant to have a long life. It's "of its time" and something even more exciting will, hopefully, take its place. Only in this way can folk music stay relevant and contemporary. ==

you said a few posts back, leveller. What exactly do you mean here by "relevant" ~~ relevant in what sense? To what? And why? And how?

~M~


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: theleveller
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 11:20 AM

Well, maybe, Suibhne, but what Jim seemed to be implying (to my mind) was that it was essential to listen to the source singers to appreciate the songs in a modern context. Bit like saying you can't appreciate Shakespeare's King Lear without reading Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain or Lord of the Rings without reading Beowulf, The Kalevala and the Mabinogion.

I'm in no way denegrating the source singers, just questioning their actual influence on most people's enjoyment of the music.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 10:40 AM

Great works of literature versus folk source singers? Not in the same league

These songs are as great as any work of literature & of equal importance to our culture; they are the product of a vernacular mastery that we've still got to go some way to appreciate - something the Revival (and the folk scene in general) has singularly failed in doing. The source singers were the carriers of that tradition; many of them song-makers in the self-same craft that is now all but lost to us.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: theleveller
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 10:28 AM

Great works of literature versus folk source singers? Not in the same league, Jim. You're missing the point entirely. You're saying that the folk performers you cite are unmemorable, I'm saying that the source singers, who are far less well-known, are even more unmemorable, except amongst a small kabal of cognoscenti and folk curators who are becoming increasingly think on the ground.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 10:23 AM

To folk infinity....and beyond!

It feels like it sometimes, once you start listening, following lines, connections, versions, variants - a single visit to the Max Hunter Folk Song Collection is like a voyage to another universe of possibility (look up Mrs Pearl Brewer - one of my favourite singers of all time). Maybe it's like the stars of Orion we were disussing the other day below the line - in the towns and cities you don't get many stars, but the further into the wilderness you get, the whole sky is ablaze. That's how Traditional Song feels to me - a blazing firmament of joyful folk infinity before which I stand in wondrous awe.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: Sue Allan
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 10:13 AM

PS: I may be just an old cynic, but does anyone else think that the original poster, Neophyte, may have something of the troll about them?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: Sue Allan
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 10:12 AM

Interesting discussion, particularly as I also have a foot in both camps, classical and folk.
Greg - thoroughly agree with your comments.
Johnny - the link to the Bert Lloyd programme didn't work for me: box.net said the link had been removed. Am I doing something wrong? Or could you post link again please? Ta.
Sue


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 09:44 AM

Sorry - didn't finish.
Rather reminiscent of; "I never read a book in my life and it never did me any harm".
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 09:42 AM

"I've never knowingly listened to a recording of Walter Pardon, Bob Copper or"
You have my sympathy.
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: theleveller
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 09:34 AM

To folk infinity....and beyond!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 09:23 AM

Never too late to start - there's a whole universe of wonder awaiting you!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: theleveller
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 08:49 AM

missed out "years"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: theleveller
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 08:41 AM

Well, I have to make a confession that, in 46 involvement with folk music, I've never knowingly listened to a recording of Walter Pardon, Bob Copper or.....whatisname. I strongly suspect that, if they were honest, you'd get the same answer from a lot of people at folk clubs, folk concerts and folk festivals.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 08:34 AM

I sincerely hope not. I am increasingly heartened that a younger generation give all due respet to the traditional source singers whose significance is the very corner stone of The Revival.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: theleveller
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 08:15 AM

Just wondering how the "source" singers will be thought of in 10, 20, 30, 40 years' time.

I think the answer will be "who?"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 08:10 AM

we were creating a new tradition of working song use by adopting the use of an old traditional working song?

Only Folk Enthusiasts would do that; thus it remains firmly within the culture & conventions of The Revival. Though one might call such conceits traditions, it would be folly to confuse them with The Tradition in which such songs were created in the first place.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 08:01 AM

Just wondering how the Bellowhead approach will be thought of in ten or twenty years.

In what way are they any different from what revival / folk rock bands were doing 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Classic folk music
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 12 Jan 11 - 07:59 AM

So, when a group of us sang shanties when hauling a broken-down car up the hill to prevent it blocking the access to the late night extra at Sidmouth some years ago we were creating a new tradition of working song use by adopting the use of an old traditional working song?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
Next Page

  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 5 April 3:44 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.