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Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?

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saulgoldie 24 Mar 11 - 10:52 AM
MGM·Lion 24 Mar 11 - 11:44 AM
olddude 24 Mar 11 - 01:01 PM
GUEST,glueman 24 Mar 11 - 05:03 PM
Richard Bridge 24 Mar 11 - 06:13 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 24 Mar 11 - 09:59 PM
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saulgoldie 24 Mar 11 - 10:27 PM
Amos 24 Mar 11 - 11:05 PM
GUEST,Alan Whittle 24 Mar 11 - 11:13 PM
Joe Offer 25 Mar 11 - 12:34 AM
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The Sandman 25 Mar 11 - 06:51 AM
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GUEST,Suibhne Astray 25 Mar 11 - 07:05 AM
MGM·Lion 25 Mar 11 - 07:12 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: saulgoldie
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 10:52 AM

OK, I have seen this reference now three or four times in recent threads. Whatthehell izza "1954 definition" of "folk music?" And I am decidedly NOT trolling for another 500 posts "What is Folk Music" thread.

Saul


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 11:44 AM

Folk Song Definition

In 1954 the International Folk Music Council defined folk music as "the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission. The factors that shape the tradition are: (1) continuity which links the present with the past; (2) variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group; and (3) selection by the community which determines the form or forms in which the music survives."
The International Council also stressed the fact that the term folk music, which includes folk songs, can be "applied to music which has originated with an individual composer and subsequently has been absorbed into the unwritten living tradition of a community." Present-day collectors use the term as all-inclusive, covering many varieties of music of the common people.

{Copied from article by Isabelle Mills found by googling}

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: olddude
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 01:01 PM

Well according to the "Folk Sucks" thread going on it has something to do with poo :-)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 05:03 PM

Debates rage around what the terminology actually means, i.e. continuity, creative, community, form, etc, etc. If it were written in today's post-structuralist (and post everything else) world it would probably read differently (or have a list of footnotes, caveats, interdictions and case studies).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 06:13 PM

It has however an obvious connection with our understanding of other folk arts.

Incidentally a creative use of Google will find my listings and explanations of it on this site. And Gg's obfuscations.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 09:59 PM

Folklore sounds about right. Otherwise - 1954? Don't believe a word of it! Folk is just another style of music; a whole bunch of styles actually. As for Folk Arts, well that's a made-up term as well. All Arts are Folk Arts - I ain't never seen no horse pimp a ride / knit a jumper / tell a story / throw a pot / make a macrame owl / carve a love spoon / make a set of Northumbrian smallpipes / decorate a Christmas Tree / break dance / morris dance / do a Cubist still-life / get a tattoo / crochet a tea-cosy / get crafty with bendy straws etc etc.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Don Firth
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 10:06 PM

And we're OFF!!!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: saulgoldie
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 10:27 PM

"And we're OFF!!!"

And all I said was...

Saul


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Amos
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 11:05 PM

Folk are people whose primary sense of self is as individual humans rather than as some office, accomplishment, or category of existence.

A


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 11:13 PM

I can see now we're reverting to the pre 1954 definition. in which case I demand a recount, and reclassification as a folksinger - as opposed to a navel gazing, snigger snogger - a definition, I was never comfortable with.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 12:34 AM

I think MtheGM gave a good, sensible answer. If that's the 1954 definition, I like it. It's not overly puristic, snobby, elitist, or posh - and yet it doesn't sell out to navel-gazing singer-songwriters.
Thank you, Michael.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 05:25 AM

Thing is with the 1954 Definition - even Michael's precis - is that there's not a single type of music it doesn't cover. The whole concept of FOLK is predicated on a complete myth i.e that there is a branch of humanity (i.e The Folk) who are somehow different from everyone else. To the Folklorists of old it was the rural peasantry who were entirely innocent of the significance of what they did in terms of cultural process, continuity and tradition on account of their lack of formal education. They were its pure and passive carriers - the unwitting media through whom this stuff flowed from pagan times to the present. Thus the whole notion of FOLK is a grotesque paternalistic fantasy - just read The Imagined Village to see how depressingly true that was, and is still today, if anyone can accept the 1954 Definition as having any more relevance than the Horse Definition which is at least ironical* rather than canonical.

Folk is just another style of music - a multiplicity of styles, genres, artists, bands, labels, venues etc. - however so twisted by nature of this thing we can The Revival, without which of course...

S O'P

* Okay, the usage is complex & far from straightforward, but I use it here to rhyme which canonical AND because it features a lot in the scripts of Whatever Happened to... The Likely Lads as a feature of North Eastern English dialect of which another thread recently enquired as to its autonomous linguistic status.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 05:46 AM

Compare and contrast:

1954:
"...the creative impulse of the individual or the group"

SA:
"To the Folklorists of old it was the rural peasantry who were entirely innocent of the significance of what they did ...pure and passive carriers..."

??????????


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 06:51 AM

asa usual there is an element[but only an element] of truth in what SA says many early folk song collectors ignored industrial song, however many of the songs written by tommy armstrong, and many other mining and industrial songs, are now part of the tradition.
so how did they become part of the tradition if nobody collected them?
to play devils advocate, agriculture is now considered an industry as is fishing, so perhaps the early collectors did collec t industrial songs , but only from specific areas


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 06:58 AM

Compare and contrast

Seems odd that the evidences for such creativity are everywhere in the old songs and yet we still have such notions as the Folk Process and a more Collective / Anonymous view of a Tradition which has reached us via very specific and highly specialised individuals. Song carriers? Tradition bearers? Contrast and compare? Go figure!

All music is creative at its core; and all communities feature supremely individuals empowed by what has gone before. In this sense (say) Miles Davis is just as much a tradition bearer as Davie Stewart, and well I remember Sun Ra in his twilight years essaying Fletcher Henderson charts from his wheelchair to drive home the importance of that self-same sense of Roots and Tradition to the younger members of both his band and audience.

This is how music works - and Folk Music (as far as it can be said to exist at all) is no different - only in how the evidences have been spun to create an illusion that persists to this day, hence the religiosity, and the righteousness, and the fundamentalism that stands in stark contrast to the reality of the music as it's enjoyed by Folkies the world over. The Tradition of Popular Song is alive and well 10,000 years down the line - many different branches, many different trees, many different forests, none of them quite the same as any other but they're all growing in the same way. And what way is that if it isn't Traditional?

*

On the evidences of a folk club we went to last night (a heaving singer's night at Gregson Lane nr Preston) I still stick to my Folk as Flotsam theory - i.e. that Folk is more about context than it is about content; hell, they were even singing along to I Don't Like Mondays and amongst maybe two or three token Trad songs was Whiskey in the Jar played with guitar and bodhran but sourced from Thin Lizzie. So one one level you have your creative reformers and songwriters, and on another you have your rank and file singers happy to whatever they like. As in Folk, as in any music really...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 07:05 AM

many of the songs written by tommy armstrong... are now part of the tradition.

Tommy Armstrong songs are always Tommy Armstrong songs - they are traditional because of the idiom in which they were written and which Tommy Armstrong was a master of.

Otherwise it's worth pondering to what extent The Tradition is an illusion of the process of Collection, by which these things were frozen at the point of their collection - dead in the specimen jar!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 07:12 AM

I do not want any undeserved credit, thank you. The definition I posted above was not *my* precis, Sweeney: I made its source, a writer in a Canadian folk magazine which I found, as I stated, simply by googling, perfectly clear on my post. All I did was copy & paste.

Best

~M~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 07:29 AM

I read somewhere once Folk defined as 'Music of the people and the times, and of the times and the people of those times' The older I get I think Folk is not really defineable and I'm satisfied with that


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: greg stephens
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 07:33 AM

The 1954 definition seems a pretty good basis to me, though obviously it's not written in stone and brought down from the mountain. SA's efforts however are circular and carry no information, so appear useless to me as an analytical tool.
The 1954 text attempts to define characteristics of one vast body of music which appears to be somewhat different from other vast bodies of music in the world. It uses the word "folk" when it refers to that body of music. I find that quite a useful thing; it is in no way helped by lots of other people trying to use the same term "folk" to apply to their own particular favourite type of music which does not share the chacteristics referred to in the 1954 (attempted) definition. The category then becomes so broad as to be useful. To those people I would say (as did Bert Lloyd), invent a new word for your new all-embracing category.
To me, many of the various versions of the Wild Rover I have heard are a product of a folk tradition. Lady Gaga's Bad Romance, Richard Thompson's Beeswing and Beethoven's 6th, are not products of a folk tradition.(though of course variants of any these might become so). So I find the distinction usefu, and, where not useful, interesting.
Others, of course, may not.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 07:47 AM

To me

Well that just sums it up, Greg, does it not?

Otherwise, I'm not proposing an analytical tool, just pointing out that the 1954 Definition doesn't actually say anything that can't be applied to any musical genre on the planet - the Wild Rover, Lady Gaga, Richard Thompson and Beethoven et al. In this sense it is too all embracing. Can all music truly be Folk? Well, if ends up getting played in a Folk Club it can, which is maybe the only place where we find a more conservative reading of the 1954 Definition comes in useful because the 1954 Definition doesn't mention musical genre at all. So, come one come all really...

The category then becomes so broad as to be useful.

Shouldn't that be useless? In which case I both agree and disagree at the same time. As I said elsewhere Folk is a broad church that somehow must include ALLoyd's Folk of Music of Yugoslavia and Gary and Vera Aspey's Seeing Double. Both are Folk albums, both are on Topic, and yet both are about as far away from each other in terms of musical genre as you could wish to get.

Go figure.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 07:54 AM

Desi C: works for me, folk music is the music of the people, all human life is there!

John


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 07:57 AM

'The Tradition is an illusion of the process of Collection, by which these things were frozen at the point of their collection - dead in the specimen jar!'

Yup! So get used to it. The BBC2 specials about the particularly unmemorable. The Arts Council Grants for the unoriginal celebrating the not particularly talented in the first place. The endless plaudits for dreary buggers you would cross the street to avoid.

Because the collectors are from the class with all the political power in this country and all the tags of intellectual respectability.

Mao said political power came out of the end of a gun. In this country, it comes out of the srseholes of the middleclasses endlessly jabbering rudely about working class music being worthless, and asserting their own superiority.

Just reading Mezz Mezzrow's autobiography and his struggles to exist whilst creating the jazz that he loved. Face it, if you're an artist - you're an outlaw. If you want to be an artist embrace that as best you can. If you want a place in folk music, get one of those degrees and become a star of festivals, or run an arts centre.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 08:05 AM

That was me, and I should learn to shut up.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: harmonic miner
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 08:05 AM

Folk music is the same as

-World music. Music that originates in a world.
-Country music. Music that originates in a country.
-Popular music. Music that a lot of people like.
-Traditional music. Music that is part of a tradition (Death Metal is a tradtion).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 08:13 AM

Well, no, Al. Have you not grasped that in the era of the Bullingdon club the middle class are as powerless as the working class - but do not yet realise it?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 08:46 AM

Thanks for clearing that up Al, I would never have guessed that it was you ;-)
Since we are bringing A.L.Lloyd into this discussion I will repeat that I like his quote:- that to define a folk song is as easy as determining the exact point where dawn breaks and night turns into day.
Anyone who has driven home following a twelve hour nightshift will know exactly what he is talking about.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 08:55 AM

What the OP feared has happened ~~ all he did was to ask, what was the 1954 definition he kept reading about here, which I endeavoured to answer for him; and that he hoped this wouldn't degenerate into another of *those* threads ~~ which is sure as hell what it has done.

I wonder why he didn't just google for himself, as I did for him, and save us all from another of THESE!... AAAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Gavin A
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 09:56 AM

The 1954 definition is just fine, in itself, and I would prefer to be able to use it this way because it's clear and precise, and a useful concept.

The problem is that for most people the 'f' word long ago lost it's original meaning through the process of semantic change - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semantic_change

For some of us, at least, it's a damned inconvenience that the 'f' word is now so unclear: these days it often just means 'what happens in clubs and festivals' or 'anything performed by players of the acoustic guitar'. At that level it's just a label...

My guess is those of us who are interested in the areas that the 'f' word used to stand for had better get over the fact that most people no longer understand it in the way they do, and simply stop using it except among friends.

In the meantime, perhaps some of the folks who mount the barricades on the other side of the discussion might for a moment reflect that on this side we're saddened by the loss of a word that describes something we're enthusiastic about. Perhaps they could feel just a little sympathy before they start shouting again...

Gavin


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 10:38 AM

'In the meantime, perhaps some of the folks who mount the barricades on the other side of the discussion might for a moment reflect that on this side we're saddened by the loss of a word that describes something we're enthusiastic about. Perhaps they could feel just a little sympathy before they start shouting again...'

In what way have you lost out?

Pre-Donovan there were no great amount of folk clubs. Virtually no folkmusic record shops. No folk degrees. Sod all.

Then folk became a huge artistic movement which captured the imagination of half the planet.

For sharing the term 'folkmusic' with coarse spirits like myself, you have many benefits. And yet you continally bellyache about it, and snipe at everything that isn't fit for the groves of academia Folkmusic For Nice People 101.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 10:46 AM

MtheGM

I wonder why he didn't just google for himself, as I did for him, and save us all from another of THESE!... AAAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!

You don't have to read the thread do you?

Idiot


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 10:46 AM

Its like those people who keep saying 'why can't we go back to when gay meant frolic-ing around?'

Answer: because there weren't that many people frolic-ing around in the first place, and someone had a better use for it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 10:53 AM

Sorry Al ~~ but rubbish. Donovan, 1965 onwards. Folk club movement in major cities ~ London, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh (cont p 94) from 1953-4 onwards. Record shops (Colletts &c) opening to cater for it.

Then Dylan, Donovan ··· pffuuit: there went the folk movement, in came the confusion.

Enumerate, please, the 'benefits' rubricated in your last para, of the term having been hijacked for profit by those who have no interest in folk music, but find the bandying of the term can be profitable.

I have never forgotten my disgust with my dear friend Fred Woods, my editor at Folk Review, when he once failed to spike an interview with some stupid 'contemp folk' female who made quite a fair living in [what had become of] the clubs, but actually said "I can't stand all that 'traditional' stuff". He was actually quite shamefaced when I pointed out the anomaly to him, & agreed he should just have paid off the interviewer, who had done the job for which he had been commissioned, but refrained from printing the piece.

Nothing personal against you here, Al, as I am sure you will appreciate; but I feel you were inaccurately harsh to Gavin's perfectly fair point.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 11:15 AM

I can feel the quicksand quiver beneath my feet, and really don't want to get sucked in to this, but...

"we still have such notions as the Folk Process and a more Collective / Anonymous view of a Tradition which has reached us via very specific and highly specialised individuals."

1. The 'Folk Process' is demonstrable. Take a look at Bronson.

2. Nobody's believed in 'collective composition' for decades.

3. 'Anonymity' is simply the fact, except in a few rare cases.

4. All the evidence suggests that singing in communities of a hundred and more years ago was very widespread and not restricted to 'specialised individuals'.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 11:43 AM

Over the years after many fights with Jim Carroll and a few other what I then called anal-retentive old farts--a club to which I belong, although not that chapter--I have come to see the wisdom of their ways. It's a method of preserving and honouring the songs and traditions of lotsa anonymous writers (people with a story to tell or tales of events to laud, revel in or bitch about). It's admirable, imo, although it's not a definition I accept for the music of North America.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 03:38 PM

Well i don't think I've ever impugned anyones right to do whatever folkmusic they like. Theres a lot I find unimpressive about the traddy agenda, and theres a lot they find objectionable and malicious in mine.

However this 1954 business really sticks in my gullet. Of course theres nowt wrong with setting out your beliefs, and parameters. But its how a law is implemented. Maybe some folk thought that Hitler really did plan to find nice homes for the Jews somewhere in the east. When a rule is used to exclude and treat as tenth class citizens another section of the community - then I say that law stinks.

Quite right there were folk clubs before the mid 60's Mike, but by the mid sixties there were three folk clubs in a little town like Grantham. the whole thing mushroomed then. And thats when the internecine stuff really kicked in. And its never really stopped.

Where to start. take the case of the late BBC Folkwaves radio programme. If you listened to it - you'd think there was a folk concert in Sheffield, one in Doncaster, another in Leicester, martin Carthy was on at Dave Sutherland's club, Singers night at The Carrington - and that was about it. In actual fact there was folk music going on all over at little pubs like the Pingle in Sutton in Ashfield, the Golden fleece in Nottingham - God knows how many places in Leicester(not for a week or two but for whole decades!) and they never got a mention cos they weren't part of the folk gang. (Dave S. can back me up over this cos I've seen him in these places!)

Add to that cds never reviewed, albums launched but never given a single trackspin. Prominent local artists never offered so much as a floorspot at festivals.

then theres the whole demographics business. In the early 70's when loads of brilliant irish folk musicians came over and started playing in the country bands that worked the miners welfare circuits. The Irish theme pub explosion - where (okay some of the old guard couldn't work in the noisy conditions, but plenty could.) Artists like Tommy Dempsey (ex Dubliners an album out on Topic) were gigging in these theme bars - but it wasn't reported or spoke about.

We were in the midst of all this. And none of it registered on the folk seismograph - cos why - well they could always quote that bloody 1954 nonsense - its not really folk! yes it bloody was!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 04:31 PM

ah.. but now, its who you are in with,.
never mind some of us keep on gigging in folk clubs in the not so fashionable parts of london, still turning out decent nights, and we have got used to being ignored by the folk mafia.If I might quote the words of Tiny Tim , god bless us every one


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 04:42 PM

We've been out enjoying the sunshine today so I've rather lost the track of this one....

-Popular music. Music that a lot of people like.

Popular as in People; Child called his ballads Popular.

1. The 'Folk Process' is demonstrable. Take a look at Bronson.

Indeed, but what is the Folk Process? Is it random? Deliberate? Or the consequence of the fluidity in which the old songs existed in their Natural Habitat? According to Mudcat it seemds to be the sum total of bad memories and mondegreens.

4. All the evidence suggests that singing in communities of a hundred and more years ago was very widespread and not restricted to 'specialised individuals'.

All music occurs in communities; today, yesterday, or 40,000 years ago. Name the genre and there'll be a community of people doing it, and within that community some who are more dedicated / specialised / gifted than others and respected accordingly.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 05:39 PM

"And Gg's obfuscations"

None intended Herr Bridge, I was simply pointing out that I have no idea what a word like community means in the C21st. The village community? The seafaring community? The black community? The gay community with boystown and high energy spreading its memes across the airwaves in 1978?
Not obfustication, simply a desire to take language back from Humpty Dumpty's no more or less than whatever he fancies it to mean. Repeat for 'creative', 'form' et al.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 05:40 PM

I still like Anna Russell's definition of folksong: "The uncouth verbal utterances of the people"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 05:48 PM

Oh dear, Al ~~ Godwin's Law......!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 06:25 PM

folk? Why, that's easy! Whatever Dick Greenhaus & Susan of DT put in the database!


(actually, that is one way to get an ostensive definition (pointing at numerous examples which we DO agree on)... as opposed to an "intensional" definition.( specifying all the properties required to come to that definition)

I MUCH prefer ostensive....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 07:21 PM

I think the ostensive definition works.

Q: What is Folk?
A: That is! (points at the mountain range comprised the sorts of music played, pondered over, discussed and enjoyed by fRoots readers, Mudcatters and Folkies the world o'er)

My Folk as Flotsam idea was an attempt at this in a way.

Q: What is Folk?
A: What is played in a Designated Folk Context by Designated Folkies.

In other words not all music is Folk, but all music can be Folk. I think that's the essense of The 1954 Definition when applied to the current Folk Scene all its wondrous diversity, though the actual musdicological criteria is pretty occult!

*

Here's a one with respect of Folk Arts & Folklore - is football folklore? If not, why not? What about Mountaineering and Tennis? What about flower arranging and gardening?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 07:41 PM

2011 definition of poser: Englishman with an Irish soubriquet who pretends he knows what peasants of all nationalities of 200 years ago wanted to do with their music.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 08:10 PM

Oh Paul, i'd love an irish soubriquet! One with long brown hair, like the girl in the come to ireland advert. Drinking whisky with her, all night by the fireside....just like in the advert.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 08:31 PM

Paul Burke, why the random nastiness?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 08:39 PM

Nigel:

It's impossible to say without a pint between us. Sweeney's attitudes are silly and destructive ( viz his views about the immutability of the words, while allowing himself the latitude to make up the tune; just a refection of the fact that ballad collecors forgot to note the tunes)

It's not nastiness; it's surgery.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 09:03 PM

To understand "Folk Music" let us think of the modern - and which came into existence ironically AFTER 1954 - 'industry' called 'The Music Industry' - an industry devoted primarily to making money for the shareholders of the industry companies, and sod the 'artists'.

Indeed, the 'faux-artists' promoted by the industry no longer need any 'music talent', because we can, as in the rest of modern capitalist society, subcontract that out to 'session musos', 'drum machines' or use gadgets such as 'autotune' to fudge things to produce a 'saleable product' aimed at a 'researched market'.

And if you think I'm making this up, remember 'The Chipmunks" LP records and the furore over certain groups such as The Monkees, and The Bay City Rollers, etc, accused of merely being font man puppets for studio musos? And once a 'performer' had to sing and dance at the same time, without amplification? And you have heard the fuss about Pop Idols who mime?

Current "Folk Music" in contrast claims abhorrence at such 'cheap tricks' and pretends to want to get back to 'The Good Old Daze' ...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 03:57 AM

who pretends he knows what peasants of all nationalities of 200 years ago wanted to do with their music

All I'm saying is that whatever their intentions were, Paul you can bet your socks they did it as a Community.

Sweeney's attitudes are silly and destructive

Only to the Folk Fundamentalist to whom I grant they might seem a tad iconoclastic, but then again I despise the class-ridden bourgeois paternalism that rests at it's heart & feel its in need of serious revision. Otherwise Folk is as Folk does, which in my experience is very broad & wonderful church indeed despite my own niggling obsessions which are only part of it too.

viz his views about the immutability of the words

I'm a liguistic pragmatist, all words / grammer are mutable according to the underlying (Chomskian) notion of universal grammar which will out regardless. Mutability is all. Just look at how the word Community is used in the 1954 Definition and how it's used by Mudcat in respect of my seach engine: Traditional Music and Folklore Collection and Community. Now feed that back into the 1954 Definition and see what happens; and now do the same for all musical Communities, virtual and otherwise...

while allowing himself the latitude to make up the tune; just a refection of the fact that ballad collecors forgot to note the tunes)

Or maybe the tunes weren't there in the first place? But when I come across a ballad without a tune I might find one that fits (common practise) and in rare cases make one up myself in the Traditional Idiom (or even improvise one if I'm drunk enough). Ray Fisher set Willie's Lady to Son Ar Chistr; we sing it to something that came from a field recording of Swedish fiddle music. But hey, just because all music has ROOTS doesn't mean it's duty bound to sow seeds. Like anuy human activity, it's both Traditional as well as being an end in itself - very often a dead end too, unlike Ray's setting which is pretty much the norm these days. I set The Birth of Robin Hood to a melody from Adam de la Halle's Play of Robin and Marion which does the job too. Mutable you see; I'm not precious about these things though I might occasionally surprise even myself with my tenacious purism, which comes out in other ways too, like when people start grafting fantasy Green Men onto local legends to suit their own nefarious ends, rather than tending a frail tradition which is perhaps something a little different. The tunes I use for Lucy Wan and Long Lankin are my own too, at least they came about on my wee Kemence which does things like that from time to time, but whatever I do I'm always up front about both it & my methods for what its worth.

Anyway - off to Tyneside today, so won't be back in the Mudcat Community until tomorrow. Play nicely now, won't you?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: DMcG
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 04:14 AM

Compare and contrast the 1954 definition with the key factors needed for Darwinian evolution i.e. inheritance (the 'child' is like the 'parent'); variation (not identical to parent); and selection.   It is so similar that to me the author must have had Darwinism in mind, which would not be surprising given how widespread the idea was. Where this definition is strikingly different to many (but by no means all) other genres that is that the concept of an 'authorative version' is apparently deliberately omitted.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 04:15 AM

to fudge things to produce a 'saleable product' aimed at a 'researched market'.

Hmmm - I don't see the Folk Scene as being any different to be honest. Besides, I may not have been of the right gender to have ridden the Folkloric wave of the Bay City Rollers (though I knew plenty who were and the experience was real enough) BUT in all honesty my life would be the poorer is if wasn't for The Monkees. How could I live in a world without Last Train to Clarksville or the the supelative guitar playing of Mike Nesmith?

All music is manufactured, otherwise there would be any music; those hoary old Broadsheets to which we owe our precious Oral Tradition didn't grow on trees, just as I'm sure even the most subversive singer/songwriter has researched their market pretty thoroughly!

The more I learn about the Good Old Daze the more I'm glad I was born in 1961...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 04:45 AM

a fantasy green man grafted on to a local legend - done for nefarious reasons......

Okay, let's roll with it. What would be possible outcome of this heinous behaviour......? and which cur would stoop so low?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 04:49 AM

It's all online for you to enjoy!

http://thecompanyofthegreenman.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/the-legend-of-cartmel-priory/

First you get the modified story, then my objections to it...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 05:00 AM

Where this definition is strikingly different to many (but by no means all) other genres that is that the concept of an 'authorative version' is apparently deliberately omitted.

I can't think of any music in which there is an authorative version of anything; each classical piece is interpreted afresh with each performance and the mutabity of Pop Songs is part of the fun. Every recording I've got of Purcell's 3 Parts Upon a Ground in D is very different as to be unrecognisable from any other. And as for Jazz...

Anyway; must go...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 05:09 AM

Yes, suibhane, each performance of a classical work reinterprets the concerto (or whatever) afresh and in, say, ballets, it becomes the convention to omit or reorder certain movements. Even so, the written composition of Chopin or whoever has an authorative status of a kind that is not present in the 1954 definition


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 05:25 AM

To continue th etheme ...

As someone who has hung around theatre of all types, 'Broadway Musicals' are often rehashed, songs dropped or new ones written, verses added in midrun, and if there are any nonsinging dance routines, they are chopped around mercilessly. Also local topical references are often worked in for each new town in a run.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 05:39 AM

Even so, the written composition of Chopin or whoever has an authorative status of a kind that is not present in the 1954 definition

The beauty is that there will always be new interpretations whilst not a note of what Chopin wrote will change. Even so Chopin was part of a Tradition nevertheless and his pieces can be used for effective Improvisation, or just exploring their subtle nuances. The other beauty is that not everything in any given tradition has to change - if it changes fine, if it doesn't then that's fine too. The important thing is that it was the result of the change and mutability inherent in any musical tradition.

I mean, who's going to mess wityh Teo Macero's definitive edits of Miles Davis that comprise Bitches Brew?

*

I know a violist who has one beautiful old violin; when he plays classical stuff on it it is a violin, when he plays Folk on it, it is a fiddle; same instrument, but it becomes different depending.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Will Fly
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 05:43 AM

You get an extended version of this chopping and cutting in seasonal and local pantomimes. I was recently MD for "The Pompeii Panto" - written by a professional writer called Jim Sperinck - and the script was littered with directions such as "insert local shop" - "insert local town" throughout. Which happened and, on the night, the players inserted off-the-cuff jokes about people in the audience whom they knew - forgot lines and had hilarious impromptu dialogues with the prompt lady, etc.

Great fun.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: DMcG
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 05:47 AM

Oops, the Guest above was me. Sorry about that.

I can't really comment much on jazz, as it is not something I've been very involved in, except to say jazz was one of the genres I had in mind when I said "by no means all" have an authorative version. But again, speaking as a complete ignoramus on the subject, the impression I get is that jazz seeks to have an original performance every time, so to that extent it eschews the inheritance component of the 1954 definition as far as practical.

The musical theatre one is certainly an area I hadn't considered before, but I suspect there is still the authorative version, even if it is rarely performed. I'm thinking of the "I've got a Little List" song in the Mikado, for example, which has been updated with topical references from the outset so the original is probably almost never performed and in a weird way it would be less authentic to do so.

I suppose the concept I have in mind is best expressed diagrammatically. Some genres have a central core - the authorative version - and all around it are performances, which are versions in their own right, so can be used as further versions. However, the overall structure is of a 'dense bush' with lots of branches off the centre and nothing more than a few steps from the central core.   The 1954 definition has a thin, treelike structure, with comparatively few branches off the root, then branches off branches off branches off branches ...

And of course, reality is such that examples of everything in between can be found as well!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Will Fly
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 05:52 AM

Suibhne - I had a look at the Green Man blog you mentioned. Very interesting. Your comments in it are quite right, in my view. The Cartmel Green Man story was initially presented in such a way as to appear to be a real legend, and it was only with the challenges posed in your replies that the OP admitted to mucking about with the story with the excuse of making it more colourful.

Nothing wrong with that - but only if he'd prefaced his tale with that time-honoured phrase "Once upon a time..." - the distinguishing point between the passing on of a legend and the telling of a fictional tale.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Smedley
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 06:12 AM

I love these threads!!

(And this one mentioned Sutton-in-Ashfield - surely one of England's grottiest towns! But I never knew it had a folk history.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 08:42 AM

About 20 years ago, I did a guitar class in Sutton. As a climax to the course, about thirty of us turned up at a folk club and played all our two chord songs. Jambalaya, Skip to my lOU, sINGING IN THE rAIN, The manchester Rambler. Within 6 months some of my ex-pupil;s were running the club. A couple of them became pro musicians. It was one of the most successful clubs in Nottinghamshire and I suspect it still continues in some form and at some unknown venue - Maybe the The Staff of Life, for about 20 years, it was at the Royal Forresters. Hundreds of musicians, hundreds of songs - some of them folk - hundreds of singers getting a start... starting other clubs.

Not really folk though, eh...? Not in the 1954 sense.

Dear Suibhne.

I'm sorry i couldn't agree less. Theres this bloke saying he can light the excitement in the eyes of children with tales about a Green man, and i say good for him - its a good trick. Theres plenty of time later to learn that dinosaurs never really did chase cavemen. And if they're too dumb to understand that, its not going to impact greatly on their lives.

Also look at the wasteland by Eliot - where the legend of arthur and the Holy Grail gets mixed up with The Fisher King and God knows what else.

It remains a wonderful metaphor the knight coming to the stricken wasteland, for Eliot coming to England where Noyes AND LIONEL jOHNSON were writing English as a dead language and he came and reconnected us with our own poetic sensibility and its connection with street language.

And robin Hood and little John turn up for a guest appearance in the Hal and Tow song. If there were no mystery, we would miss out on the revelations that mysticism can bring us.

al


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 09:22 AM

Though far from perfect, the 1954 definition as a rule-of-thumb has worked for me for coming up to 40 years as a collector and researcher, and as a listener, 20 years longer than that as a guide to knowing which tins to open (no longer the case, sadly).
It is in much need of updating and improving with all the information that has been gleaned over the last half century plus, but as the only alternative on offer appears to be the abandoning of all definitions - tearing all the labels off all the tins - the original will probably see out my remaining days comfortably.
Suggesting '54' is a 'rule' is little more than tilting at self-constructed straw men; it never was, nor was it intended to be; a rule-of-thumb, no more.
As the fat geezer with the cigar once said about capitalism, "by no means perfect, but it'll do till something better comes along."
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,SteveT
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 10:00 AM

The suggestion that the 1954 definition attributes a Darwinian evolution to folk music (DMcG 26 Mar 11 - 04:14 AM) got me thinking. Perhaps to extend the analogies further one should apply a Linnaean binomial classification to "folk". If I have my science right, the genus is an inclusive group but the species is an exclusive group. This means that the generic taxon looks for any similarities that may be shared and "things" get added to the group if they share enough common attributes. The specific taxon is exclusive and works by excluding "things" on the basis that they have something different from any other specific taxon.
Linnaeus decided that using local names (in our case English) for classification would not work because these meant different things to different people so he chose Latin, as a "dead" language, where word meanings did not change. Thus you have terms like "viridis" which was applied instead of "green" (e.g. Hydra viridis). As time progressed descriptive specific names were replaced by latinised versions of the person who first discovered/described that species (e.g. Spartina townsendii). {Apologies - I can't get the computer to do italics}

Thus all music could be generically "folk" but when you get to the specific bit you throw out the kinds of music/song that are not the same into separate taxa and then name accordingly. Your own version/species of music/song within the genus "Folk" can only join another "species" in that genus if all who are already in that species agree that it does not have anything different from their own versions; if they don't all agree you stay in your own species.
You could be "Folkus lloydii" or "Folkus donovaniensis" or even "Folkus suibhneastrayus" or "Folkus whittleus" (not an attack on these contributors' views, just names chosen for illustrative purposes of two here who seem to have fairly strong and clear views).

This classification system should keep everyone happy – if you want to you can be the only one in a species but if you want to join with a pre-existing species of folk music you would, by definition, agree with the others in that species. On the other hand, that might end the discussions and then where would Mudcat be?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 12:21 PM

Whoever said we need more threads like this - I agree. At least they have therapeutic value and people can get opinions off their chest.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 01:09 PM

Guest,SteveT, I find your premise appealing, but inevitably the same conflicts would arise between the same splitters and lumpers, just as among biologists. And there's no genomics to save us, here...

We tune because we care... we argue because we care...

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 01:19 PM

Brilliant! Folkus Whittleus!

My Uncle Ernie ( a keen trade unionist and lifelong devotee of Harold Wilson) used to say, 'When the barricades go up! Then you find out who's on your side!'

I don't think I'm too fussy who is in my species.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 07:31 PM

the impression I get is that jazz seeks to have an original performance every time, so to that extent it eschews the inheritance component of the 1954 definition as far as practical.

The rootedness of Jazz even at its most exteme is even more of an issue than it is in Folk. Just check on the work of Sun Ra and Rahsaan Roland Kirk - two guys renowned for exploring the outer limits but both Ra and Rah were forever banging on about inheritance as the crucial factor of the music, Miles likewise - check the autobiography, where the inheritance component is celebrated almost as a sacred ancestral lineage. Rah did this most explicitly in pieces like The Seeker, whilst Ra would regularly eshew his outer-space raps to school the audience on musical inheritance and continuity.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 26 Mar 11 - 09:52 PM

This is the best discussion of the 1954 definition I have ever read, here or anyplace else. I used to disparage the Brit view, but since, I have come to appreciate the standpoint of those who hold to that definition. I'm a Canadian, and the history of my culture is likely rough around the edges for a folk who have a remembered-past that precedes all we have in this country, and that includes the Viking ships sunk near Channel Port aux Basque about 1000 years ago.

The British Isles (no offense meant to those who recognize Erse or Welsh as their mother tongue) had to deal with the government of William the Bastard (aka the Conquerer and the First) lived through the Romans, Vikings, French and Margaret Thatcher. Such cannot be said of others.

That in itself pretty much ensures that longevity isn't the problem. But looking at some threads and taking them to heart, I do see the change that takes place in song when left to the devices of common folk--which I perceive us all to be. Personally, the song that came first is the starting point for all that follows--good, bad or indifferent. Losing that starting point makes us penurious despite our protestations that that isn't so.

I love this thread.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: DMcG
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 04:11 AM

The rootedness of Jazz even at its most exteme is even more of an issue than it is in Folk. Just check on the work of Sun Ra and Rahsaan Roland Kirk

Thanks for the suggestion: I will certainly do so. However, there is a distinction between rootedness of the genre in terms of techniques and conventions and rootedness of the individual piece. As I freely admit I know nothing about jazz, I don't know if Ra and Rah explore that and to be able to say anything more I'll give an example from ballet, where I know a touch more. "The Nutcracker" is a critical work for most companies. On a recent BBC programme the English National Ballet said it accounted for about one third of their entire box office takings for the whole year, for example. So you have various options. The Royal Ballet have got a version that has been around for many decades and, within the limits of cast changes, costs, scenary decay, etc, they produce essentially the same version every year (it does gradually alter, nevertheless.) Other companies, such as ENB, Northern Ballet, Matthew Bourne's Adventures etc, try to get their market share by doing something less predictable. Even so, all these alternatives are 'true to' the classical ballet conventions and the story.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Will Fly
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 04:58 AM

Jazz is an interesting music in many ways.

As a common-or-garden jobbing player in (say) a mainstream band, you're expected to know - depending on the style, of course - a large number of tunes ("standards") which form the repertoire. And, for ones that you don't know, you're expected to be sufficiently au fait with the form and harmonic conventions to be able to pick something up instantly. However, although the repertoire may be well-known, even conventional, every single performance of every single tune - if you're doing your job right - is different. Different improvisational lines from soloists, melodic links being picked up and tossed around between soloists, 'head' arrangements (group arrangements emerging spontaneously) are all the essence of jazz. And it's very easy to fall back back on repetition from performance to performance which makes some bands sound tired and old.

As for the roots of the music, the early churches were in New Orleans, Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago, and one of the fascinations of the music is watching - over the years - the enthusiasms and counter-enthusiasms, the assertions and counter-assertions about the rightness and direction of the music. For the Ken Colyers of the jazz world, New Orleans was the shrine and the old-style bands weaving their continuous lines around the melodies were the gospel. Any deviation from that was heresy and that music, in its turn was scorned by the modernists, who called the traditionalists "moldy figs". And so on, and so backwards...

All this, of course, is a world removed from the individual geniuses quoted by Suibhne - Sun Ra, Kirk, Coltrane, Davis, Bailey, etc. - who were in a galaxy of their own, love them or not.

Whatever the standard, whatever the style, the enduring fascination, for me, about jazz is that it's a 'traditional' music which - to be worthy of its name - has to be different every time it's played.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 05:10 AM

Folkus suibhneastrayus

Thing is, if Folkies want to abide by the 1954 Definition, if they find it helpful to do so, then that makes sense as long as they remain aware that all music can be defined similarly, bar none. Whilst this does not make all music Folk Music, it does mean that all music (and all human action, creative or otherwise) is rooted in what went before it (ad infitum) and is the consequence of cultural process, adaptation, change and continuity. A song - any song - is sung as a unique event in space and time, mutable according to a myriad factors which are themselves dependent on the occasion and the history of the community to which the singer belongs. That said, the impression I get from Sharps seminal encounter is that John England was singing his Seeds of Love alone as he went about his business; viridis digitus.

Folk might be seen a long running Fad integral to the 20th Century Zeitgeist. Whilst it speaks of Change, it is a reactive consequence to the modern era of Hyper Change, a seeking for the comforts of an imaginary unchanging past, bucolic, cultural, personal, traditional, and always perceived as beneficial to the believer. Maybe this is why Folk engenders the AOR / MOR safety zones and Mudcatters still fear rap music which is fair enough - we are mostly talking of an ageing demographic here: I myself will be fifty in August this year and can still count myself amongst the youngest in the room (and on the forum).

One can't become a Folkie without taking on a small amount (at least) of the academic mantle. Who doesn't love the enduring & erudite posts of the late Malcolm Douglas? Or else revel in the nitty gritty of hand-on research occaisionally detailed by the likes of Brian Peters and Jim Carroll et al? I know I do. As a lover & singer of Traditional Folk Song I'm seduced into the exploration of Source and Provenance espite being aware the shortcomings of Folk as a methodology. Thus I might question the usefulness of the 1954 Definition as a tool, and be wary of it as an article of a very particular (and at times very orthodox) faith, which is, I suppose, only natural too.

The very nature of the Folk Revival is, ironically, compounded by its own Folklore as objectvity remains as elusive as ever it was, much less any clear idea as to nature of the beast itself. Part science, part religion, part ritual cult, where the beautifully ironic inclusivity of The Horse Definition is routinely sneered by those who feel they are somehow In the Know. In its place we have the 1954 Definition, which basically tells us the samething as The Horse Definition, although to the Faithful, it's telling them just how different their music is from other musics. All music is different; all music is the same; all music is Traditional; all music is Human; all Humans are Folks; all human music is the consequence of community...

These days, with respect of What is Folk? then we can draw a few lines in the sand and feel quite safe therein, although nothing exists in isolation. It never did either as a look at the repertoirs of the Traditional Singers will reveal.

[Exhibit A: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sn2UTXDIDCA]

My own feeling is that anything sung by Folkies is, by default, Folk Music, especially if done so in the name of Folk in a Designated Folk Context. This is the stuff of Folklore - places, rites, rituals and occasions. Like - what happens on Cooper's Hill the rest of the year? And those bars and hotel lounges that are stuffed to Folk Overflow during festival time - what becomes of them? Folk is thus both Mutuable and Repetitious; it is the concensus of a community who by their very impermanance are perhaps forced into a more ordered conservatism than most (though I would argue that they're not alone in this). Maybe this is why a recording of the Spinners doing Whip Jamboree from 1964 sounds little different from how you might hear it done (with gusto) in any one of a thousand Folk Clubs today. Tradition? or ritual? Either way, you'll find me at the bar.

This then, is the essense of Folkus suibhneastrayus, it is that of the Godless Theologian who nevertheless believes unreservedly in Human Divinity and the Kiplingesque dictum of The People, Lord, Thy People in respect of an all inclusive music (bar none) which might never be defined to the satisfaction of all BUT we all know it when we hear it which I suppose is the main thing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 05:20 AM

I don't know if Ra and Rah explore that and to be able to say anything more I'll give an example from ballet,

Start here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-uRnvMwD6jM

Play loud; rejoice.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 06:10 AM

"Irony of Horse Definition" ···

Dreary rather than ironic IMO ~ "a dreary axiom" was Bert Lloyd's summary. Still, I suppose Satch, an intelligent man & wonderful musician, meant it ironically. But the trouble with irony is when people less intelligent than the perpetrator will take it at face value. Think of Warren Mitchell's story, when he was Alf Garnett in Till Death Us Do Part, telling of how he was always meeting people who thanked him for "having a go at the wogs", and replying "No, can't you see it's you I'm having a go at!" ~ but they still didn't get it. So would Armstrong have said it with all that :irony: if he had realised the misuse to which so many fools would put it, I wonder? (If it was Armstrong - also attribd to Broonzy). & what would he have said if taken up in such terms as "So is Swan Lake a folk dance then; I never saw a horse do 32 fouettés?"

~M~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 06:35 AM

Hmmm - in which, however so less pithy the 1954 Definition must be ironic too then. From what I gather from a post some years ago from the sainted Jean Ritchie, Maud Kapeles sense of humour was either similarly sharp, or else entirely absent with respect of her inner volkish demons! Thus might we raise visions of esteemed Folklorists chastising the May-revelling villagers of Padstow for not doing it right...

Anyway - no one's answered what Bert Lloyd's Folk Music of Yugslavia has in common with Gary & Vera Aspey's From the North (or whatever it was) other than 1) They're both on Topic Records and 2) Neither of them were played by horses.

*

Getting back to something Brian said earlier...

1. The 'Folk Process' is demonstrable. Take a look at Bronson.

2. Nobody's believed in 'collective composition' for decades.


Was is The Folk Process if it isn't collective composition?

*

Getting back to something Al said earlier...

and i say good for him - its a good trick

We might nurture the light of wonder in kids eyes without subjecting them to bullshit & ruining our more all too fragile heritage in the process. Kids have a natural wonder anyway, I hate to see this exploited by those with a specious agenda as is the case with that Green Man story.

*

Off topic, I've just noticed an advert for Watermaster (Uniquely Versatile Dredging indeed) in the space below the Submit Message button. Check it out at http://www.watermaster.fi/ where you might access a promotional video, PDF Presentation and Newsletter promoting the miracle of Backhoe dredging, suction dredging and pile driving capabilities in ONE machine. Right on! We live in the age of miracles and no mistake. Is this another aspect of Mudcat's new Folklore Collection remit I wonder?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 07:36 AM

So... Not so much a dreary axiom as a truism, which is just as dreary.

So is the Folk Music of Yugoslavia mispackaged as Folk? To me Ethnic music would be a more suitable term; ethnomusicological documents, which is one approach to such things that wouldn't be appropriate to a Gary and Vera Aspey album, where Folk fits like a glove. Now that the IFMC are the ICTM then that fits, to a point. We might draw a line in the sand between Folk and Traditional Music - i.e. the Music of Revival and the music of Tradition - though the majority of Folkies I talk to don't think there's a difference, they think they're part of The Tradition, which seems a tad conceited to me, especially when the vast majority of the songs they sing aren't what we might think of as Traditional Folk Songs.

Even in singing TFSs I'm not carrying on a Tradition, I'm just singing Traditional Folk Songs which are products of a Tradition, just as any song is. I recently started a blog about this called An Oblique Parallax of English Speaking Folk Song which features examples of me performing TFSs in a way that would have me linched if I did it in a Folk Club but which comes vbery natural to my creative sense as an experimental / free improvising musician.

Another dilema you see, because as much as I love this stuff, I can't swallow the Folk Faith; all I see is genre, idiom, mastery and continuity, same as with all musical styles. Folk is just another umbrella for various stles of music which must include Big Al Whittle as much as it does Brian Peters or Michael Grosvenor Myer or...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 07:47 AM

I was speaking as an ex-schoolteacher who found it a difficult trick to pull off.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 09:37 AM

The 1954 definition was intended for use by academics, to set out parameters for academic study. It was never intended to define what should be sung in folk clubs, or in which display rack to find albums in record shops.

Also, language has moved on and "folk" has a much broader meaning than it did in 1954. Nevertheless I still find it useful, if only as a guideline rather than a strict "definition" of a particular type of music.

I see a difference between, for example, "The Outlandish Knight" or "Seeds of Love" being sung by an old man in a pub and "My Way" being sung by an old man in a pub - even when its the same old man and the same pub. That distinction is siginificant to me, even if it's hard to pin down, let alone define. I feel the difference is sufficient to justify giving them a different name - whether that's "folk" or "traditional". Of course it's equally possible to see them both as part of the same thing - the two views aren't exclusive. I just don't think it's helpful to conflate "My Way", or jazz, or opera, into "folk" simply because they may be performed in a certain environment.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 11:40 AM

Well its nice to be included, but even I can see that I'm not doing the same stuff as Brian.

I'd like to think that some of my best stuff has a foot in the same camp as Mike's urbane creations - though obviously not his traditional stuff,

where we probably differ is that I think the debt all three of us owe to the 1960's songwriters - Tom Paxton, Bob Dylan, Donovan etc. is very great indeed. Ewan MacColl and his generation may have started the folk club business. But the the factor that spread it to every corner of this island, and captured the public imagination was the songwriters. I think it changed the meaning of the words folk music in common parlance and usage.

I occasionally mess about with pre-1965 folkmusic, but its not engaged me creatively like songwriting has. Most floorsingers can do a better job on traditional material than i can.

But do I belong to the folk movement? I believe so.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 12:04 PM

By my "urbane creations", Al, do you mean the Bogle & Bellamy, e.g.? I do no sort of 'creations' of my own, lacking the 'creative' gene to my great regret. Most I have ever managed is a good tune for Unhappy Bella ~~ which maybe I shall put on my u-tube channel some time, at that.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 01:05 PM

My imagination, did I not see you in the new city songster one time. Anyway I used to read your record reviews and think - wish i could write like that. You used to write for fred Woods magazine - didn't you. I always had you down as a bit george melly-ish in your approach.

You tell me - do you not write verse..... I always think of you as a recognised wit!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 01:41 PM

That distinction is siginificant to me, even if it's hard to pin down, let alone define. I feel the difference is sufficient to justify giving them a different name -

I agree, but we can bypass the 1954 definition to say what that difference is can't we? It's a musicological thing - all about style, idiom & musical preference. In one breath the same singer might be singing Seeds of Love, in the next My Way...

Talking of which, and what Al said about being different to Brian.. They are indeed certainly different but on same day I witnessed both hold audiences spellbound a mere 50 yards and 9 hours apart; not the same audience I grant you, nor yet the same venue, but people were still talking about both performances the following year. That's the diversity of Folk - it's big enough to include Big Al having an otherwise civilised audience rolling in aisles with his songs of uxoricide which aren't really too different from Brian's masterful essaying of The Demon Lover, though of course no one was laughing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 01:53 PM

Actually come to think of it, Al was late on the Saturday night in the New Boston & Brian was first thing Sunday morning in The Mount - but 9 hours sounds about right...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 01:53 PM

' his songs of uxoricide which aren't really too different from Brian's masterful essaying of The Demon Lover'

Brian, what can I say ....no offence mate? A serious artist like yourself would not wish to be confused with a silly sod like myself, I can understand that.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 02:09 PM

Yes, maybe a bit of verse, Al ~~ often to win New Statesman or Spectator prizes &c; I am in two of the New Statesman Competition anthologies. But no tunes there ~~ tho as I said I have put occasional tune to verses, like above-named from Orwell via Penguin Comic & Curious. But none of my own on u-tube channel, which seemed to me what you might have been referring to.

As to being a wit ~~ matter of perception & opinon, I suppose. {Now, drat it!, where have I left that red nose & that conical hat?}

Tee-hee!

~M~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 02:39 PM

... and yes, I certainly did write for Fred Woods' Folk Review ~~ including the back-page Taking The Mike column for several years, as well as all the other reviews & features. I think maybe that is particularly what you recall: tho I was also a theatre, folk record, folk book critic for The Guardian & The Times & Plays&Players at the same time.

Oh, oh, oh; where did I find all that energy from? & where has it all gone?

I have told you all before: beware of getting old ~~ or you might end up as boring as me...

~M~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 03:12 PM

"The 1954 definition was intended for use by academics, to set out parameters for academic study."
Sorry Howard, it was no such thing.
It was an attempt, largely by academics, but also by singers too, to make sense of a specific body of song that had caught the imaginations of singers and scholars alike around the time the BBC was carrying out its 'mopping up' campaign (aimed at producing a series of programmes for public consumption - 'As Roved Out' .
Organisations like Topic Records (non-academic) pretty well adhered to it, as did editors of "Folk" magazines and "folk" song collections. There were clubs who ahdered to it so closely that they wouldn't let you in with a musical instrument and who asked you not to sing recently composed songs, even if they sounded 'folk'. Events like the Keele Festival, with with lecturers/performers like Bert Lloyd and guests like Harry Cox and Jeannie Robertson comfortably catered for both scholars and folk fans without there being any conflict of interest or any doubt what was on offer.
There were always people who latched onto the label because they had no identification tag of their own, and it when these gained dominance that the problems really began and audences were no longer given a choice in what they wanted to listen to.
"Also, language has moved on and "folk" has a much broader meaning than it did in 1954"
Not really - what has happened is a fairly loose definition has been abandoned totally (not replaced) in the interest of people who neither understand nor like folk music (too long, finger-in-ear, et al).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 03:21 PM

Well, I thought I was getting a burning sensation in the shell-likes, and logging back on to this thread I realise why. My name's been taken in vain a few times here, so I really ought to respond.

Firstly, yes, I do bestride some of the same stages as Al and we're both performers on the same circuit. 'Serious Artist' versus 'Silly Sod'? Well, I think of myself as an entertainer whether I'm doing 'The Demon Lover' or 'Shame, Shame, Shame' (Jimmy Reed, not Shirley & Company), and I'm sure Al would describe himself similarly.

However, on more academic matters, SA said:

"Getting back to something Brian said earlier...
1. The 'Folk Process' is demonstrable. Take a look at Bronson.
2. Nobody's believed in 'collective composition' for decades.

What is The Folk Process if it isn't collective composition?"

Simple answer is that the folk process is the way in which an existing song evolves. 'Collective composition' is a theory regarding the origins of folk songs and tales that originated with German scholars, including the brothers Grimm, who developed the concept of the Volkslied. Some of F. J. Child's colleagues and followers were convinced by the idea that the ballads had been created by the collective improvization of a group of singers and dancers, but although Child himself flirted with the idea, he eventually wrote that "they do not compose themselves as William Grimm has said... a man and not a people has composed them". A major academic controversy erupted over this question, and as a result the theory of communal composition has had no significant adherents in recent decades.

Although it's true that Child believed that oral transmission and 'folk process' would inevitably result in the degeneration of the ballad, others such as G. H. Gerould believed that "communal recreation" tended to actually improve ballads - that old Sharpian idea of the pebble being smoothed by the action of the waves. That the 'folk process' consists of nothing more than (to quote SA) "the sum total of bad memories and mondegreens" has not been the consensus of folklorists for decades, and I can't remember ever seeing that position argued on Mudcat. The 1954 definition, whatever its other merits and failings, specifically allows for constructive communal recreation in describing "variation which springs from the creative impulse of the individual or the group".

Anyway, I'm off now to fry some chips, then away to Glossop Labour Club for a few tunes, so no time now to compare and contrast the Aspeys and the folk music of Yugoslavia. TTFN.

PS: Howard Jones is quite right; I can't think of even the most traditionalist of performers, or venues, that filters repertoire through the 1954 filter.

PPS: Nice to see this one's a bit more civilized than previous 1954 threads!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 03:41 PM

One of the more intriguing (and convincing) aspects of the 1954 Definition hasn't been mentioned yet, to wit: The term does not cover composed popular music that has been taken over ready-made by a community and remains unchanged, for it is the re-fashioning and re-creation of the music by the community that gives it its folk character. I think the first part of this can be dismissed as ineffable twaddle (I can think of hymns and the National Anthem - even Folk Songs as they were taught in schools - talk about Ironic) but what do we make of this thing Folk Character?

Well, there is a unique quality to the Traditional Folk Song which gleams as a polished patina on a 600-year old choir stall arm rest. I'm not saying it can't be faked, but even in faking it, it's qualities are being acknowledged - something maybe folk processed and well polished by masters or master of a very exacting draft indeed. I like this a good deal actually, it draws me in to its hoary genuiness in the same way as aforementioned choir stalls. I get strange dreams when I'm working up certain traditional Folk songs - ballads can get a bit weird, but Butter & Cheese & All and Leg of a Mallard are two that really spook me, as if they carry another layer of significance.

Maybe it's going to be different for everyone, but how else do we understand Folk Character I wonder?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 04:00 PM

Cross-post there, Brian but I think you've covered it (Folk Character) - in a nutshell...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Mar 11 - 04:38 PM

But it's the same old stuff being regurgitated!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 01:29 AM

In the words of the OP: "... I am decidedly NOT trolling for another 500 posts 'What is Folk Music' thread."

Oh, well!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: J-boy
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 02:06 AM

This is some good stuff from intelligent people who know what they're talking about. I can't get enough of it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 02:52 AM

Hmmm - the more I dwell on this Folk Character thing, the more I'm beginning to realise there might be something in this 1954 lark after all!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 03:06 AM

I've been checking the website of the International Council for Traditional Music (as the International Folk Music Council is now known) and it appears to me to be substantially an academic body. I'm sure singers and performers contribute to it, and it includes in its objectives the dissemination of traditional music, but I suspect it's not very interested in what goes on at Much-Piddling-in-the-Marsh Folk Club.

Of course the 1954 definition was of interest to those active on the folk scene - it attempts to encapsulate what characterises this music, and I think it still does this pretty well, even if it's possible to argue with some of the detail.

I think the antagonism arises because the meaning of "folk" has broadened since 1954. On the one hand you have those like Jim who (quite reasonably imo) believe we need a clear term to describe a particular type of music, and on the other hand there are those who feel their own type of music should be described as "folk" even if it doesn't fit the 1954 definition - again, not unreasonale if you consider how the meaning of the word has broadened.

My own theory is that the modern meaning of "folk" emerged from the surge in interest in folk in the 1960s, which was initially an American movement. I can see a much closer connection between traditional American music via Woody Guthrie to Bob Dylan, through which it is not necessarily wrong to describe his (and other singer-songwriters) music as "folk". In the UK that connection is far more tenuous and the relationship between trad and singer-songwriter is far less obvious. However it is the American meaning which has taken over, and I don't think there's much we can do about it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 03:25 AM

A labour Club in Glossop....? Abit like the music hall joke about the Conservative Club in Moscow.

Folk Character......it has a ring of that Thurber cartoon... 'I come from haunts of coot and hern...'

http://omf.blogspot.com/2006_06_01_archive.html?widgetType=BlogArchive&widgetId=BlogArchive1&action=toggle&dir=open&toggle=MONTH


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 04:33 AM

The word may have broadened, but the nature of the Traditional Folk Song hasn't. It's an all too rare beast on the Folk Scene these days I'd say - an endangered species even within the revival.

As for the ICTM, it never hurts to quote their obectives in full The aims of the ICTM are to further the study, practice, documentation, preservation and dissemination of traditional music, including folk, popular, classical and urban music, and dance of all countries. I keep meaning to join and find out how they view the 1954 Definition these days. Things change very fast in Folklore studies, though in the popular view of things it's all pagan fertility rites and children's rhymes frok the Black Death. Even on Mudcat the use of the term Folklore is a tad antiquated (says he still smarting from the Folklore prefix being removed from his Slang Words for Female Masturbation thread...). If the chapter on Folk Music wasn't so naff I'd insist you all read Bob Trubshaw's Explore Folklore.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 05:08 AM

I used to disparage the definition until I understood it functions as an anchor when the winds of newer music get forceful and strange. Mr Carroll was a pain in the arse for three years to me . His posts regarding the definition were unreasonable and antiquated. I couldn't appreciate why someone could be so bloody dense! Three years later I'm surprised at how much he's affected my thinking about it all.

Jim, you are a researcher and keeper of the tradition and you rank with the Cecils and Malcolms of folk. I am sorry for being so un-understanding. What you do is very important, and I apologize for my past attitudes, decisions and assholedoms of what I hope is my yesteryears.

If we forget or ignore our collective past, we will have to start over. On that journey we will rewrite "A Canticle for Leibowitz", something we don't have to do thanks to the keepers, one of whom Jim Carroll is, imo.

Anyway, Jim, thank you.

Bruce M.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: MikeL2
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 07:16 AM

Hi Mike

<" I have told you all before: beware of getting old ~~ or you might end up as boring as me...">

Lol

Occasionally pedantic maybe Mike , but boring ......never.

Regards

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 07:24 AM

Gee, thanks, Mike

~Mike~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 07:24 AM

100


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 07:26 AM

You all knew I was in here lurking, didn't you?

It is I think quite encouraging to see that some people are getting the idea that "folk" is a matter of derivation whereas pretty well every other type of music is defined by form.

And almost everyone seems finally to have got the idea that "folk" is not a descriptor of quality and does not prescribe what people play nor how they are "allowed" to play it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 08:28 AM

If it's only a descriptor, why do 99% of enthusiasts adopt the unspoken part that says folk is old songs, accompanied by old instruments in an approximation of an old style? If that proportion, or something like it is correct, folk is something else. The argument as ever, is what that thing is? Many of us call it the folk revival to separate what happens on the ground from the theory.

If Linstead Market was regularly heard in dub version coming from festival speakers, or an electronica Lowlands rang through the clubs, we could safely abandon form as a fundamental, but it doesn't, so it probably is. Music is sound and the folk music of these islands is connected to the rest of the world by that DNA.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 08:36 AM

well i think its too long and people put their finger in their ear, and then eat crisps with it. Its unhygienic.

Supposing you derived a horrid illness from the germs inside someones ear. Would you be saying -oh! its a question of derivation then. I think not, Mr Bridge.

You'd be saying - why can't we go back to two minute classics, like Desolation Row? I don't want sing long germy songs any more! With choruses that restrict the flow of corpuscles and give the audience gangrene.

You'd soon change your tune.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 08:56 AM

Guest.999,
Sorry for being such a pain in the arse for so long - now who else is there to victimise?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 09:01 AM

At the risk of repeating myself from other threads, 'Folk' is a word in our evolving very traditional language. Like many old and common words in the dictionary it has several meanings, some old, some new. It evolves just like the songs have evolved. The folk (with some nudges from commercial interests) have spoken. There is no point in bleating on about confusion and stealing our word. The word 'back', for instance, has multiple related meanings, but we seem to manage okay without lamenting this fact.

Jim,
If you're still interested, I've found my sources on the Scott/Buccleuch question. I could start another thread or PM you?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 10:33 AM

"A labour Club in Glossop....? Abit like the music hall joke about the Conservative Club in Moscow."

Lay off the class war there, Al, I'll have you know that Glossop is an oasis of socialism, holding out against the Tories in Buxton and rural parts of High Peak. Our Labour club is a staunch supporter of acoustic music and cheap beer - though admittedly a significant number of Labour Party members have traditionally frequented the Conservative club, where they have snooker tables.

Returning to the more general discussion, you could - of course - try to define folk music by form. The popular songs of the 17th - 19th century that wound up in the mouths of the singers that the likes of Sharp collected from have a different musical and lyrical language from the music hall era songs that came later, or the blues and jazz influenced popular musics of the later 20th century. Glueman is right to identify that the sound of those earlier songs, coupled with particular conventions regarding instrumentation and singing style, as the distinctive sound of the folk revival - the traditional end of it at least. But like Steve I've long accepted that 'folk' means differen things in different contexts... and this thread isn't supposed to be a 'What is Folk?' thread anyway.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 10:55 AM

Up to comparatively recently we have dealt with an identifiable body of song to which we attached the term 'folk', even if that identification was "I don't know what it is but I know it when I hear it". The 1954 definition tried, sort of successfully, to pinpoint characteristics that went into the makeup of those songs, their origins, the forms they took and their significance to the communities from which they were obtained.
These are the folk songs that have been archived, documented and continuously analysed right up to the present day and these are the songs that will be passed on as 'folk', a representation of the 'common creative output' when we are all wormfeed.
It is only within the clubs, and not all of those I'm told, that there is any dispute over the general acceptance of the term to any great extent.
Whatever happens to the clubs, it is the documented definition that will prevail; folk is probably the high on the list of most extensive musical forms to have been discussed, defined and analysed.
It is true that we don't need a label for the songs we sing, but we do need one in order to be able to point them out to others, to tell them where to go and look for them. We need one to know where to find them ourselves, and we need one to discuss them among ourselves and perhaps to reach an agreement and understanding of them by pooling what few facts and opinions we all possess (wouldn't life be boring if that ever happened?).
I believe one of the reasons for the present confusion lies at the door of collectors who have assumed that our source singers had nothing to offer other than their songs, so they/we never bothered asking their opinions – result; it can safely be claimed that "they never differentiated between the varying types of song in their repertoire, so why should we?" This has been taken so far as to have it be suggested that "folk does not exist and is a self-serving invention of collectors and researchers."
At least two thirds of our collecting work was interviews with singers, attempting to find out what they thought about their art; probably far too little, far too late, but enough to undermine the 'free-as-birdsong, instinctive' image that we have saddled our traditional singers with.
Walter Pardon was dividing his songs into clear categories as early as 1948, blind Traveller, Mary Delaney referred to her 'folk songs' as "Me daddy's songs (she learned about ten of her 100-plus songs from him), and swore that "the new songs have the old ones ruined". All the 'big' singers (sizable repertoires and a semblance of style) we talked to attached their own label to the songs – come-all-yes, traditional, the old songs, local songs; Walter Pardon very firmly used 'folk' and certainly had an opinion where they came from and what they meant to him.
For me, Bert Lloyd said it all in the last chapter of Folk Song in England:
"If little Boxes and The Red Flag are folk songs, we need a new term to describe The Outlandish Knight, Searching For Young Lambs and The Coalowner and the Pitman's Wife" – only it's a bit late in the day for us to go searching for a replacement - IMO.
Jim Carroll
PS Sorry to all who have heard all this ad nauseum!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 11:04 AM

no, Jim, do not apologise it is necessary that someone keeps banging on, about terminology. and you talking ad nauseam about this subject is becoming a tradition.
I dont expect to hear karoake music, or classical symphonies when i go to a folk club[ I expect folk music], neither do i expect to hear CW in a JAZZ CLUB, however i would have no objection to western swing in a jazz club because it involves improvisation.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 11:17 AM

When I go to open a can of baked beans, I do not expect it to contain plums.
If I go to a concert which is advertised as Beethoven, I do not expect to be foisted off with Daniel o Donnell.
If a club is an Acoustic music club, then play acoustic music, but not amplified music
WE ALL KNOW APPROXIMATELY THE BOUNDARIES OF FOLK MUSIC and i do not expect to see any horse in my folk club. horse music is something else


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 11:21 AM

are getting the idea that "folk" is a matter of derivation whereas pretty well every other type of music is defined by form.

Surely Folk is as much about form as it is derivation if not even more so than other musics. This is one of the reasons I take issue with the 1954 Definition because it doesn't go into the musical form that defines the songs - i.e the venacular idioms in which they were composed and subsequently modified, or not.

Is a song only a Folk Song if we prove it's derivation? What of those songs where we can't do that - those that are purely idiomatic?

Is it really possible to discuss 1954 without wondering what other sorts of music it might possibly be talking about as well as our common or garden Folk Songs & Ballads? Is it a definition of Folk or a definition of Derivation?

Must dash. Too nice a day!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: The Sandman
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 12:03 PM

to continue, ... I can get a pretty good idea from a folk clubs guest list of what to expect, if it says brian peters, dick miles, steve turner, martin carthy, that is going to be different from derek brimstone, harvey andrews, jack hudson,jez lowe.if it is someone i dont know of there is normally a description in the advertising, such as didgeridoo player who yodels while playing nose flute etc, or the artist may have a web site that i can check out and hear a sample.
so this" Is it really possible to discuss 1954 without wondering what other sorts of music it might possibly be talking about as well as our common or garden Folk Songs & Ballads? Is it a definition of Folk or a definition of Derivation?" is just a novel way of wasting time.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 12:30 PM

"Surely Folk is as much about form as it is derivation"
Not really Suib - even within the English tradition it takes on numerous forms - narrative being the most common one.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 01:03 PM

If we look at the form a Folk Song is most likely to take then that's going to be as much about its morphology as it is about its derivation. And what about the Derivation of those Forms? Which is an important thing to consider with respect of the Traditional Idiom, be it the Traditional (Anon) songs themselves, those found in Broadsides, or the vernacular writings of Tommy Armstrong and the psuedo-folk of Rudyard Kipling from the Barrack-room Ballads to the Puck Songs etc.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 01:52 PM

Oh shit, spoke too soon.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Brian Peters
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 02:12 PM

"Surely Folk is as much about form as it is derivation if not even more so than other musics. This is one of the reasons I take issue with the 1954 Definition because it doesn't go into the musical form that defines the songs."

Am I being a bit thick here, in thinking that's the whole point of 1954: that it was formulated to accommodate The Folk of Music of Yugoslavia - or China, or India, come to that - alongside that of the British Isles or North America? All of which have very different musical forms.

One of the problems with defining folk music as 'that which is played in Designated Folk Contexts' is that it denies every other nation of the globe (apart from a few former colonies) the right to their own folk music.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,glueman
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 02:14 PM

Rather than argue that individulas are trying to fit other forms of music under the 'folk' banner (something I've never done, incidentally) it might be useful to work out why the forms of the tradition occupy the entirety of folk for many people.

As a musical sensualist it is always form that tickles my imagination first, and history provides a context. In fact I can be seduced by all manner of politically incorrect tunes and songs if they're presented compellingly without ever wanting to inhabit the sensibility from which they emanated. I don't feel I'm alone in that visceral response, which is why for so many the form is the message.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 02:15 PM

Heh! heh! Derivation my arse.......!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 04:33 PM

One of the problems with defining folk music as 'that which is played in Designated Folk Contexts'...

The point of which is to at least try and accomodate the diverse musical styles that occur in these contexts under the general heading of Folk but which might not be considered Folk in the strictest sense of the word. In other words, it's an empirical definition based on a lifetime's ongoing evidence & near nervous breakdown. Also it attempted to understand, and appreciate, why this might be, though in the end I give up. Here in the North West Folk Music is that which is by and beloved of Folkies, on the evidence of which I'd say (in the last year) a good 85% of which could be performed as pop / rock / easy listening in any other context irrespective of Form or Derivation.

...is that it denies every other nation of the globe (apart from a few former colonies) the right to their own folk music.

From an enthnomusicological perspective context is just as much a consideration as form / derivation. Otherwise when I said Surely Folk is as much about form as it is derivation... I was talking specifically about English Speaking Folk Song & Ballad. Sorry for not making this clear. But whatever the music, whatever the culture, Form is just as important as Derivation which almost brings me back to the Equine Truism, but perhaps that particular beast has long since bolted. Let's leave the stable door ajar shall we?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 05:32 PM

Hi Al. Don't you mean "Pickled penis"?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: greg stephens
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 06:29 PM

SA's remark "This is one of the reasons I take issue with the 1954 Definition because it doesn't go into the musical form that defines the songs " is ludicrous to me. Folk music if it anything is created within a culture and helps define that culture, by community choice (a la 1954 definition basically). How can it have a defined "form"? Scat Tester in Susex played his music one way, Black Umfolosi did it their way, Mongloian goatherds do it their way. How could they possibly come up with a common form? Don't be silly.
Woody Guthrie used an American form. I play NW English tunes in the way I learnt them in the NW of England. How could the 1954 defintion define those forms? The people who made the (very useful) definition probably hadn't heard any Cumbrian merry neet singers. Why should they be familiar with the "form"?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 28 Mar 11 - 11:44 PM

Scat Tester, the well-known impro-jazz singer.

Or did you mean good old Scan?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 05:21 AM

Scat Tester in Susex played his music one way, Black Umfolosi did it their way, Mongloian goatherds do it their way. How could they possibly come up with a common form? Don't be silly.

I don't ordinary draw attention to typos (God knows I make enough of them myself!) but can we really let Scat Tester pass without a chuckle? Especially as N & T are quite separate on a QWERTY keyboard. A Freudian slip of the finger perhaps? Or one of the more picturesque rural trades now lost to agrarian mechanisation. Oo-Ar, I be a scat tester, I be - just like my father afore me, and his father afore him - scat testers for generations... A thankless task no doubt, but one that at least paid well enough to keep the fellow up in concertina repairs...

Looking around for Scan Tester (on WIKI; nothing on YouTube) we learn he was nicknamed Scantelope art the age of 5; the only other reference for Scantelope is Scantelope - a fleet-of-foot, bare-all buxom beast (whose revealing exploits are chronicled in the best-selling naturist book, “What Really Went On Behind the Scenes in the Garden of Eden”). One might ponder in the hope of enlightenment...

But, as I said earlier, Greg, I was talking of English Folk Song and Ballad which, as with any music, is as much about Form as it is about Derivation. Once more I apologise for not making this clear at the time. Anyway - in each of the examples you cite Form is the equal at least (let's be generous here) of Derivation - not the same Form I grant, nor yet even the same Derivation (let's be grateful for diversity, eh?), but Form nevertheless, which is itself derived, whatever the Idiom. Indeed one might see the Form as the defining aspect of a particular tradition. Worth a thought anyway?

*

I'm niggled this morning because on reading my copy of I, Claudius earlier there was a mention of simnel cakes (Penguin Modern Classics, 2006; Chapter 9, p 107). It's really too early to get my head around it, but I noticed in one of our Lancastrian Garden Centres the other day Simnel Cakes are now being sold as Spring Cakes. Indeed, even Easter is fast vanishing under a wave of secular neo-paganism...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Alan Whittle
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 06:37 AM

One day all the folk singers will be rounded up and sent to live on a derivation - to make way for the forward progress of Simon Cowellisation.

You'll find me doing the ghost dance.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 06:42 AM

Cumbrian merry neet singers

What's that then? Sounds interesting...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 12:03 PM

The problem with definitions is that they change and morph. I think that the 1954 definition has merit but must be looked at as only one valid definition.

For example, in my definition I would include American jazz. It is culture-based in its origins, changes with new environments, includes variants on tunes, transmitted aurally as well as through theory, suggests a cultural environment which has mutated over time,
has a tradition and history going back to the inception of our country through the plight of African-Americans in slavery, is now international in scope to include many players and listeners and overlaps with popular music.

What is problematic is the exclusivity clause written into many folk definitions that is too rigid, too narrow and tending toward being precious.

I see folk music as tending to be more inclusive, allowing for more participation and less restriction, away from concert the approach which isolates audience from performer.

Also, just because it is folk music doesn't mean that it's necessarily good music. Some of it is doggerel, trite, uninteresting, and worshipped for its classification rather than its music.

Then, the enduring folk music is from a wellspring of human experience that transcends all theoretical bickering about what it is.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 01:46 PM

"For example, in my definition...."
Can we do that? We can certainly have opinions on what should be included, but for the sake of communication we agree to a documented dictionary defintion, otherwise we enter the world of "I believe potatoes are really fruit".
Not disagreeing with your point SS, in fact I too believe American Jazz should fall under the 'folk' umbrella, but once we make a UDI with the language we end up not talking to each other, which seems to be the position the club scene has reached at present - with the inevitable consequences.
I believe the definition is in much need of updating, and I really thought that this might happen when Dave Harker wrote 'Fakelore' until I read it and found that he'd thrown the baby out with the bathwater, with the bath!
The rest of your points - inclusivity, participation, concert, good/bad... etc... are really not anything to do with how we define the music, rather than we do with it and how we approach it on a personal level - I detest dates, but it doesn't stop them from being dates.
And bickering is only one of the less attractive ways of reaching an understanding.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Bert
Date: 29 Mar 11 - 02:30 PM

Well said Stringsinger. The problem with the 1954 and other definitions is that they leave so much out.

The 1954 definition somehow does not include most of the songs that have been preserved by various collectors.

Also definitions are open to misinterpretation. like Oral Transmission.

If I sing a song that I learned from my Dad who learned it from his Granma then that sounds OK., but what if I learned a song from hearing it on the radio? Does that count? It is certainly oral transmission (OK with a little help in the transmission) but it would include an awful lot of songs which I don't consider Folk.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Mar 11 - 06:54 AM

Steve;
"If you're still interested, I've found my sources on the Scott/Buccleuch question. I could start another thread or PM you?"
Sorry Steve, overlooked this earlier.
As anybody with an interest in ballads would, I'd be interested in anything that throws fresh light on the doctoring of ballad texts, particularly on evidence that Peter Buchan was more or less of a fake than Scott, or any other of the anthologists.
Not sure I'm qualified to add anything to what has already been said - be interested to learn if you can.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Mar 11 - 10:52 AM

Surely most or at least much American jazz (well, N'Awlins and Dixieland for starters) does fall within the "folk" definition although experimental stuff like (in their day) "The Spontaneous Music Ensemble" doesn't.

What I don't see in any definitions that I know of is "the exclusivity clause written into many folk definitions that is too rigid, too narrow and tending toward being precious".

A definition is not a preference.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 30 Mar 11 - 11:08 AM

I wouldn't call the SME folk, but they were certainly part of the Free Jazz Tradition and Community - and played well within that Tradition - speaking as one who was once scathed as the worst percussionist in the world by the late great John Stevens! Honour indeed.

But alongside John Stevens we had (and still have) the equally great KEN HYDER and his band Talisker who approached scottish folk material in a similarly free-form way - their version of Ca' The Yowes is legendary, Whistle o'er the Lave o 't likewise.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 30 Mar 11 - 11:12 AM

Another reason why Free Improv isn't Folk... Ever tried doing it in a Folk Club? No way. On the other hand, I've regularly sang Folk Songs as part of performances of Free Improv...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 30 Mar 11 - 04:31 PM

Jim,
I don't like hijacking other people's threads and this one's getting too long for my steam computer to cope with anyway so I'll start a new thread 'Scott's Fabrications'.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Folk, 1954 definition?
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Jul 13 - 04:29 PM

somebody mentioned Donovan, I blame him, it was also his fault Dylan went electric


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