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A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads

GUEST,Phil d'Conch 14 Jul 17 - 08:42 PM
meself 04 Nov 16 - 10:22 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 04 Nov 16 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,Desi C 03 Nov 16 - 11:32 AM
Will Fly 03 Nov 16 - 09:40 AM
punkfolkrocker 03 Nov 16 - 02:58 AM
GUEST 02 Nov 16 - 03:47 PM
GUEST,Some bloke 02 Nov 16 - 09:30 AM
Big Al Whittle 02 Nov 16 - 12:30 AM
Mrrzy 01 Nov 16 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 01 Nov 16 - 11:42 AM
meself 01 Nov 16 - 11:17 AM
Mrrzy 01 Nov 16 - 09:44 AM
GUEST,Some bloke 01 Nov 16 - 03:26 AM
Dave Hanson 01 Nov 16 - 02:35 AM
meself 31 Oct 16 - 10:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 31 Oct 16 - 07:41 PM
Noreen 06 Sep 15 - 09:30 AM
Big Al Whittle 06 Sep 15 - 06:12 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 12 Sep 12 - 10:00 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 18 Aug 11 - 06:22 AM
James Fryer 18 Aug 11 - 04:38 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 13 Aug 11 - 07:59 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 11 Aug 11 - 08:38 AM
GUEST,james Fryer 11 Aug 11 - 08:31 AM
GUEST,James Fryer 11 Aug 11 - 08:11 AM
GUEST,mg 05 Aug 11 - 03:23 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 05 Aug 11 - 02:28 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 04 Aug 11 - 03:32 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 04 Aug 11 - 03:31 AM
mg 04 Aug 11 - 02:39 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 04 Aug 11 - 02:24 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 24 Jul 11 - 10:50 PM
GUEST,livelylass 24 Jul 11 - 06:19 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 24 Jul 11 - 06:12 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 23 Jul 11 - 07:29 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 23 Jul 11 - 07:22 PM
GUEST,matt milton 23 Jul 11 - 06:58 PM
GUEST,Don Wise 23 Jul 11 - 09:27 AM
Will Fly 23 Jul 11 - 04:17 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 23 Jul 11 - 01:24 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 22 Jul 11 - 06:40 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 22 Jul 11 - 06:08 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 22 Jul 11 - 06:00 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 22 Jul 11 - 05:55 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 22 Jul 11 - 05:49 AM
Big Al Whittle 22 Jul 11 - 05:27 AM
MorwenEdhelwen1 22 Jul 11 - 01:02 AM
Big Al Whittle 21 Jul 11 - 11:18 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 21 Jul 11 - 10:45 PM
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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 14 Jul 17 - 08:42 PM

I keep bumping into this thread searching Mudcat's calypsos so, what the hey… my two pennies worth:

MorwenEdhelwen1 & Ebbie's exchange about 'family-v-calypso' (above) is the closest to the truth though I'm pretty sure neither intended it that way. Marriage to a Trinidadian is/was her only option.

Any 'officially' recognized calypsonian has, in theory at least, the potential to be crowned "Calypso Monarch."

As such, one will remain the physical embodiment of the national Trinidad & Tobago calypsonian spirit until the following year's winner is announced.

Gibb: Why not poll the actual people who make calypso?

Close too but no polls. Read the Trinidad & Tobago United Calypsonian Organization Adjudication Handbook section on age and citizenship requirements.

After ruling the roost for the last twenty years they (TUCO) have recently been made subordinate to the larger National Carnival Commission (NCC) but culture and good old Yankee dollah tourism both depend that rule being there so I'm pretty sure it still is.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: meself
Date: 04 Nov 16 - 10:22 AM

The last post from MorwenE... was 4 years ago; wonder what's happened to her. Probably came to her senses and took up accountancy, speaking of accountants .... Or maybe she's in Trinidad, calypsoing her head off.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 04 Nov 16 - 09:48 AM

CEILI HOUSE is a long-established traditional music programme on Irish state radio RTE1 on Saturday (tomorrow) nights at 9.15.
This week it will feature ceili bands from all over the world, including one from Japan....


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 03 Nov 16 - 11:32 AM

Well for myself and most performers I know v ariety is great, I do mostly Irish Trad and old time Country but always happy to try another genre


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: Will Fly
Date: 03 Nov 16 - 09:40 AM

I used to work down the pit but of course, I always leave mining songs to retired teachers and social workers. They seem far more authentic. I'll stick to reed cutting songs from Norfolk or Scottish haggis hunting ballads I suppose.

Chartered accountants do great versions of sea shanties, I believe - not sure whether sailors make much of a fist of accountancy songs...


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 03 Nov 16 - 02:58 AM

I'd even feel uncomfortable singing my own tradition...

I used to have a genuine authentic indigenous west country accent until grammar school educated it out of me 40 odd years ago...

... and I'm so shite at mimicking accents, I can't even do the one I was born into... 🙄

So Adge Cutler songs are firmly off limits, then ......


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Nov 16 - 03:47 PM

I did not read all the responses, but I have heard Russian Bluegrass.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 02 Nov 16 - 09:30 AM

I used to work down the pit but of course, I always leave mining songs to retired teachers and social workers. They seem far more authentic. I'll stick to reed cutting songs from Norfolk or Scottish haggis hunting ballads I suppose.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Nov 16 - 12:30 AM

Any songwriter would be honoured to have a musician of Seeger's virtuosity singing their songs. he was phenomenal and gave his talent freely and open heartedly.

if anyone's predjudices prevents them from appreciating Pete Seeger - i can only feel pity for them.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 Nov 16 - 02:16 PM

Ya think? They seem to relate a lot to memories of harsh treatment... but I speak from ignorance, of a group to which I do not belong, at least American blacks.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 01 Nov 16 - 11:42 AM

Mrrzy said:

"Pete Seeger sang black's songs to white audiences, who loved it. Not sure if today's Black Lives Matter folks would love it as much."

The truth is that. today, lots of black people wouldn't like/relate to those songs even if they were sung by a black singer.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: meself
Date: 01 Nov 16 - 11:17 AM

Oh no - there was a spam post on here that a couple of us made hilarious responses to - now the spam has been removed, but our hilarious responses remain, seeming nonsensical. Future generations will be robbed of the knowledge of just how clever we were back in 2016.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 Nov 16 - 09:44 AM

I think it depends tremendously on the audience. Pete Seeger sang black's songs to white audiences, who loved it. Not sure if today's Black Lives Matter folks would love it as much.

I am reminded of Shel Silverstein trying to sing the blues: "But what do you do if you're young and white and Jewish, and you never swung a hammer in your life..."


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 01 Nov 16 - 03:26 AM

Just don't black up to sing it though, if you want a quiet life.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 01 Nov 16 - 02:35 AM

On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: meself
Date: 31 Oct 16 - 10:11 PM

You must be one of those people who don't know how to handle online twists when it comes to searching your purpose .....


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Oct 16 - 07:41 PM

I've heard of thread drift, but......


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: Noreen
Date: 06 Sep 15 - 09:30 AM

Yes, likewise Al.

Just read a lot of it through again, and near the end it appears that she'd never actually sung/played in public at all.

Very much "in the head" stuff- she needs to get out and join in, perform and find out by doing it- as most of the other contributors here do.

As she was finishing school in 2011, she will probably have got her degree in ethnomusicology by now and be living in Trinidad... Hope so! :)


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 06 Sep 15 - 06:12 AM

can't help but wonder what happened to al that intensity from the girl who wanted to be a calypso singer....

as Eugene Delacroix said, to be a poet at twenty, is to
be twenty. to be a poet at forty is to be a poet.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 12 Sep 12 - 10:00 PM

Update: i just emailed her. Will wait to see what she says.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 Aug 11 - 06:22 AM

Well, I'm just thinking it's a little presumptuous to contact someone when you have other stuff on your plate.. I have the HSC coming up.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: James Fryer
Date: 18 Aug 11 - 04:38 AM

It's your life, but I'd say why wait? You could use that "wait until I'm good enough" reasoning for the rest of your life.

Here's a couple of other pointers I thought of while Mudcat was down.

Michael Low Chew Tung is a musician from Trinidad who has written a book "Kaiso Koncepts" which should be useful to you. He's also written a book "You can play Calypso Guitar" which I'd recommend to any guitarist who wants to play in a jazz style. His site is here:

http://elan-parle.tripod.com/kaiso_koncepts.htm

He's also posted a number of tutorial videos, here's a couple:

http://www.youtube.com/user/elanparle#p/u/45/RLgBhDgee7o
http://www.youtube.com/user/elanparle#p/u/51/wV7TOB36JC4

Secondly, there is a 10-CD collection "Calypso West Indian Rhythm" Bear Family BCD 16623 JM which collects every calypso recording from 1938-40. This is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in old-time calypso. It comes with a book containing all the lyrics plus many articles that put the songs into context, information about the calypsonians, the origins of the music, the musicians, etc. It's on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Calypso-Indian-Rhythm-VARIOUS-ARTISTS/dp/B000GQML8M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1313656323&sr=8-1

or from the publishers:

http://www.bear-family.de/repertoire/various-bearfamily-1/folkworld/calypso-1938-1940-10-cd-box-316-page-book.html?lang=1

This really is invaluable. It's expensive but I hear you have a birthday coming up!


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 13 Aug 11 - 07:59 PM

James, thanks for the information on Akima Paul. will definitely try to contact her (she has a contact form on her website) but it may be best to wait for a while before doing that until I've developed my musical skills to the point where they're really good.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 11 Aug 11 - 08:38 AM

I'll try getting to Trinidad as soon as I've finished piano lessons need instrument training if I'm going to compose my own songs on a more traditional instrument) school stuff, etc. Thanks for the suggestion!


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: GUEST,james Fryer
Date: 11 Aug 11 - 08:31 AM

Here's another idea. Akima Paul is an excellent calypsonian from Grenada now living in London:

http://www.kimaspeak.com/

she won the 2009 London competition with her "Passport Love".

I don't know her in any way apart from seeing her perform. But it may be worth contacting her via her website and asking for advice.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: GUEST,James Fryer
Date: 11 Aug 11 - 08:11 AM

Hi again Morwen, just caught up with this thread.

I see no reason you shouldn't become a calypsonian. It will be tough, as calypsonians attack each other as a matter of course. But if you do it well you will earn respect.

On the other hand as I said elsewhere calypso now is quite different in style. It's very bound up with the politics of T&T. This may or may not be a problem.

There are calypso scenes outside the Caribbean, e.g. in London and Toronto, and the more traditional extempo competitions still take place in Trinidad.

There is a mailing list Limers which you may find interesting:

http://launch.dir.groups.yahoo.com/group/limers/

As far as how to become a calypsonian I really don't know. I would travel to Trinidad for several months, around Carnival time, attend the tents, investigate and try to break in. Plan to do the same thing the following year. If you have no luck in Trinidad try another island with a calypso scene, e.g. Grenada, Dominica. I have no idea if this strategy would work but it's bound to lead to something.

I don't think being Chinese will be much of an issue as there is a large Chinese population in Trinidad. You will need to make it part of your identity though. People will attack you for it if you do extempo so be prepared for that.

Please set up a blog or something so we can follow your progress.

Re. later messages, the middle years of the 20th C were a huge landgrab where public domain works were approprated as intellectual property. There is a lot of work to be done on this. Consider e.g. "Stone Cold Dead in the Market". There are many many others.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 05 Aug 11 - 03:23 PM

Yes..and I think you will soon have very knowledgeable professors who can answer these questions in the most professional way. Just keep learning and enjoying the music. mkg


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 05 Aug 11 - 02:28 AM

I mean the post from 2.24 AM yesterday.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 03:32 AM

*post above the one from 2.24 AM.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 03:31 AM

mg, did you read my second last post? I better get back to my schoolwork. Need to study for an exam.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: mg
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 02:39 AM

you will study this question in depth if you major in ethnomusicology..they will tell you all the legal stuff and financial stuff and cultural sensitivity stuff. Of course there are problems..avoid them as much as you can. mg


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 02:24 AM

Reading back through this thread, I noticed that a lot of posters answer the question (which I think I should have worded better)in different ways, depending on what they think I was asking by talking about singing songs/performing music in general, whether playing or singing, from other cultures. And I think that some of these answers(mentions of Pete Seeger, Paul Simon)are related to the fact that most of the performers here are revivalists who might perform one or two songs from other cultures, but not much more than that.

Or they might perform original pieces which use other cultures' traditions as influences, in much the same way as the performers mentioned. I think this is related to the fact that people look at questions like this from their own perspectives, such as using the word "revivalist" where it wouldn't fit. I'm not saying that it's wrong to be a revivalist, or that anyone who wants to shouldn't write songs in a hybrid style., I'm just saying that my original question wasn't about "Should a person sing or play *a few* songs from another culture?" or "Should a person sing *any* songs from other cultures?" or even "Should someone use other cultures' musical styles as influences for original work, when that work isn't claimed to be part of that culture's tradition?" It was "Are there any problems, such as exploitation,with a person learning to perform music from another culture in the country it comes from when the other country is a "Third World" or less weälthy country and the person wanting to learn is from a wealthy Western country?"


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 10:50 PM

I take some singing lessons (stopped now, I've got trial exams for HSC- Higher School Certificate coming up. I'm only in high school) but I sing a bit at home. I was talking about this because I was thinking about what I might do in the future after I've left school, possibly something to do with music, like ethnomusicology and training to be a calypsonian as a part of that, and I just wanted to know whether there are any problems related to cultural appropriation.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: GUEST,livelylass
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 06:19 PM

Morwen, I've seen quite a lot of discussion around you doing calypso, and as I may have missed it, I'm wondering where you sing?

At home alone? In clubs in your area? Do you have an online presence for your music on YouTube or MySpace?


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 06:12 PM

BTW, Matt, one the ethnicity thing, I was referring to Richard B's post on the "Singing in Dialect" thread, not stating *my* beliefs. I probably should have worded it better.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 07:29 PM

Yes, he was Trinidadian, but Venezuelan in the way that I'm an Australian with Chinese-Malaysian parents.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 07:22 PM

No, he was fair-skinned/white, and considered "Spanish" from what I've heard and read. But he *could* have had some African ancestry. A rival of his, (I'm pretty sure it was Tiger (Neville Marcano) but I don't really know), sang a war verse against him with these words: "When I say these words Executor smile, but tell me if he don't resemble a sailor child." (a reference to white sailors producing white-skinned children). "The emergence of the Lord Executor, in the form of a white-skinned store clerk of Venezuelan parentage, was all the more a rarity."


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: GUEST,matt milton
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 06:58 PM

"Matt, Lord Executor's parents were originally from Venezuela, he was born in Trinidad. So he was ethnically Venezuelan. And not to say anything against him, but Richard Bridge *seems* to believe that if you are an outsider to a culture (which includes ethnicity) you can't sing their songs authentically/traditionally/with respect to the culture."

If you're born in Trinidad and grow up in Trinidad, you're Trinidadian.

One's ethnicity doesn't make you an outsider to a culture - you are de facto part of that culture if you are born into it and grow up in it.

Ethnicity only starts to play a part if that culture is racially stratified: if a substantial part of that culture (eg lyrics of loads of the songs) are concerned with racial politics, and you are not of that oppressed race, then your position is going to be a little contentious. You say Philip Garcia's parents were Venezualan: was he black, as a matter of interest?

Not so much of a 'problem' if you're singing calypso in general, though, which isn't quite so slavery/plantation-rooted as American blues music. Lots of lyrics about sex and alcohol and local politics, going on the vintage calypso I've heard.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 09:27 AM

As the jazz song from the late fifties/early sixties puts it:

"It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it........and that's what gets results"


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 04:17 AM

MorwenE - if you want to get really pissed off, you should inhabit the body and bones of Jelly Roll Morton, who wrote some of the greatest jazz tunes of the 1920s. He was a Creole from New Orleans and got those tunes published by the (white) Melrose brothers in Chicago.

However, the catch was that, in return for publishing the music, the Melrose brothers got their names on the top as joint composers with Jelly - when, in fact, they had nothing to do with the creation of the music. So they got a percentage of the royalties. In later years, they even claimed that Morton couldn't read or write music. Morton's scores, in his own handwriting, are very much in evidence. (I had the privilege of transcribing an unpublished one very recently).

It happened all the time - all the way through the history of the music business. Not just if you were black, but certainly more so if you were. There are a thousand stories in the naked city, and this is just one...

But you have to get over it and accept that crap happens. Make your music as best and as sincerely as you can. You seem intent on keeping this thread going into infinity, but you've probably by now had all the advice you wanted and all the arguments pro and con this and that. What more can be said that hasn't been said?


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 01:24 AM

BTW, the true composers and origins of some of the songs covered by Belafonte are:

"Jump In The Line"- Lord Kitchener, aka "Kitch", Real name Aldwyn Roberts.

"Matilda"- King Radio, Real name Norman Span.

"Man Piabba (The West Indian Weed Woman)" -traditional. Was performed in a vaudeville show.

"Cordelia Brown" aka Cudelia Brown- traditional Jamaican. Performed by Louise Bennett and Edric Connor.

"Reincarnation"- Lord Invader.

"Banana Boat Song" -traditional Jamaican. And another thing, lots of people change the words of traditional songs and copyright them.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 06:40 PM

And you seem to believe that I don't or shouldn't want to learn or be part of the calypso tradition of improvised lyrics and tent performances and competitions. You seem to think that tradition shouldn't *matter*. Have you actually read my posts? As for the exploitation angle, (I read that you're a songwriter from your posts) imagine this:

You've written some songs. One day, a representative from a big American recording label calls you and tells you that they've heard your performance, or heard about it from someone associated with the label. They like those songs, and they would like to record them, so they ask you if you'd be interested in coming over to a studio for a recording session as those songs are good enough to be put on a CD.

So you go over to the recording studio in the US and record those songs to be placed on a CD. Your songs are on a CD several days later, and there are even downloads of your album on iTunes. The CD sells well to a few people who listen to popular contemporary music, but mostly to English people living in America and American folk revivalists and people who are into revival folk. A short while afterwards, the recording label representative (same guy as the first time) calls you again and tells you that they've realised your album has some potential and so they want to give you a recording contract with their label. You agree to meet them at the studio again to discuss the contract.

The contract basically says that you will get paid some money for recording for the label for about (let's say) five years. But the bad side is the fine print makes the recording label offering the contract the copyright holder for any songs you record for them. That means that if you play a concert, you pay your own recording label for permission to sing your own songs. Since you want some money out of your songs, you sign the contract, spending five years living in the U.S. recording songs for this label.

Now a few years later, there's a young male singer who's very attractive, a great singer with a fantastic voice, and already popular as an actor. He's sung in clubs before, and he's into English folk, although he sings songs in other traditions as well and he buys your album with other English folk albums and some blues and jazz. He likes your songs and the songs of other similar folk artists, and he wants to record them, so he shows what he'd like to record to another record label, a more popular one. They're interested in the prospect of making a CD of him singing these songs, so he goes to another recording studio and records the songs with new verses and the lyrics rewritten and sanitised to be acceptable to be played on radio. He registers himself with a performance-rights association and puts his pseudonyms down as the author of his versions of the songs on his first album. This includes your songs.

The point of this scenario is that what I've just written is basically what was happening with Belafonte and the Trinidadian calypsonians from which he got a large percentage of his songs (although I don't know whether he wanted to put his own name down or whether someone convinced him to do it). A number of these songs- "Jump In The Line (Shake Senora)" and "Matilda" are listed at ASCAP under the pseudonyms "Raymond Bell" and "Harry Thomas" respectively. Some of the older songs "Man Piabba", "Cordelia Brown", "The Banana Boat Song (Day-O)" are listed as "Irving Burgie/Harry Belafonte/William Attaway", or simply "Irving Burgie" (a collaborator of Belafonte's, composer of the ballad "Jamaica Farewell"). William Attaway was a playwright, poet and novelist who also was one of Belafonte's friends. Only one of them, according to the "All-Time Greatest Hits" album that I have on iTunes, was credited to its original composer. This is wrong. But still, Belafonte DOES have a place. I would never say that he didn't. That's not what I said in my post at 1.02 AM.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 06:08 AM

EDIT: That should be "South African".


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 06:00 AM

And whatever Paul Simon did for the West African musicians in reputation and fame during his recording of the "Graceland" album does not mean that he was right to not acknowledge the musicians (as I've heard he didn't).


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 05:55 AM

Also, the calypsonians (and other singers recording for folk labels) signed the contracts because they had no idea of what they were really getting into. Just because you *can* do something, it doesn't mean that you necessarily *should*.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 05:49 AM

Yes, it *does* have something to do with that. But my opinion of what exploitation means is *very* different to yours. Before Harry Belafonte became popular, the Lord Invader, Macbeth the Great, the Roaring Lion, and Lord Kitchener (later than the first three) were recording in New York City for Folkways and Decca. Belafonte got "Don't Stop the Carnival" from recordings of Invader. I think (and lots of people agree with me) that if those calypsonians were never acknowledged by Belafonte as influences, they deserve to be acknowledged. And I said Belafonte has his place- if I'd never heard him I wouldn't be talking about this, for one thing.I don't want to do this only for commercial reasons- I am also looking into it as I am very interested in the tradition. I believe calypso has been commercialised enough and does not need to be again. Chalkdust, a calypso historian and calypsonian, uses the analogy of "water in de brandy" to describe commercialised calypso. I want to become a tent calypsonian, not a calypso singer. A tent calypsonian is traditional - there is no "revival" in calypso - a calypso singer isn't. Besides, extempo and picong (insult improvising) sound like fun. More fun, in my opinion, than being just a calypso singer- not to say that isn't good!


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 05:27 AM

Paul Simon has been putting up with accusations like this all his life. First from English tradtionalists that as a young man - he 'stole' Martin Carthy's version of the English folksong Scarborough Fair. Then for using South African musicians for his Gracelands album - when there was an embargo in place to show international disapproval of apartheid - the racist system of government in South Africa.

However Paul in the process gave Scarborough Fair to the greater world, and made international stars of South African musicians and speeded up immeasurably the fashion for 'world music'.

probably one of the reasons you have access to so much calypso (when I went searching specialist record shops like Collets in London for it in the 1970's - it wasn't there) is down to popularisers like belafonte and paul Simon.

Record companies don't release material at all if they are not feeding public interest. You will find that out when you are satisfied with the music you have produced and go looking for a record deal.

You will find out that in fact - you have very little control over what sort of artist you are. Because art is made of the sinew and nerve of yourself - it is reflection of you - and the kind of person - YOU are. the art is just an extension of you. You do it as well as you can. You use anything to hand.

As for the material you use to spin your creation Whatever they say -it feels good to be used. Every songwriter loves having other people sing their songs. being ripped off - well that's the business we are engaged in - we all accept that. we all sign crap contracts - its better to be doing it than not doing it. there is no virtue in being useless.

Always remember that. One day a boyfriend (mother, father, sister,brother, best friend) will hit you with that one YOU ARE USING ME.

There is never anything to be said for being useless.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 01:02 AM

Alan, sorry to offend you, and thanks for the advice. But that's not whatmy post was about. I already have enough advice. I'm studying for some upcoming exams right now, so I can't write much, but my post was about Harry Belafonte, the commercialisation of calypso, and calypso tradition. I only wrote it in response to your post as a guest on page 2 of this thread, made on 21 April, where you wrote, "Borrow or steal from who you can, it doesn't matter." I'm saying that it does matter. Are you saying that as long as you want to do something good, "it doesn't matter" if you commercialise and water down an already commercialised and watered-down tradition and allow people to represent you as something that you are not?

Because if you're not, it certainly seems like you are saying that "it doesn't matter" what tent calypsonians in Trinidad or musicians in other countries think of what outsiders who don't know enough about their traditions are doing to those traditions by performing them when they don't realise the traditions' complexity. You seem to think it's OK to exploit performers like this by "just doing what you want" with no thought to how those performers will think of you disrespecting their cultures. Can you explain if this is what you meant in that post?


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 11:18 PM

Whatever you do. You attract jealousy and criticism. Its one of the problems about being alive. Theres an old saying - no one ever bothered kicking a dead dog.

No doubt if you make a success of your music, other musicians will be jealous. Now are you going to let these people decide what you do? Just get on with it and make the best job you can - if it involves theft, murder, fraud, neglecting home - family and all the rest - most real artists make that deal at the crossroads.

Everybody - Mozart, Woody guthrie, Van Gogh, James Joyce - that's the deal - your work may achieve some form of immortality. But you'll be just as dead as everyone else in the graveyard and you'll probably have let a lot of people down.

Now if that's what you want - get practising. Stop worrying - you have enough work to do. Sufficient unto the day.


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Subject: RE: A very uncomfortable question- perform other trads
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 10:45 PM

Another response I thought of to Alan Whittle's post, and this quote: "Borrow and steal from what you can, it doesn't matter." Well it DOES matter if you are not interested in singing and performing a commercialised version of the form. Why else was Harry Belafonte being called the "King of Calypso" so objectionable to singers such as the Mighty Sparrow and Lord Melody? Because he was performing in a different context and had no right to use that title. Being a king or queen of calypso is an honour that can only be achieved by performing in calypso tents and winning prizes at jump-ups during Carnival. Similarly, performing songs written in a calypso style is closer to what Belafonte and Irving Burgie (wrote "Jamaica Farewell") do - singing commercialised calypso- than what real, traditional tent calypsonians do.
And I don't want to be a Belafonte clone, the totally inauthentic "Queen of Calypso". Not that Belafonte songs don't have their place, but they're not what I want to sing.


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