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Provenance or performance?

stallion 31 Jul 11 - 02:17 PM
George Papavgeris 31 Jul 11 - 02:29 PM
Musket 31 Jul 11 - 02:38 PM
GUEST,livelylass 31 Jul 11 - 02:42 PM
Richard Bridge 31 Jul 11 - 03:31 PM
Maryrrf 31 Jul 11 - 03:57 PM
Anne Neilson 31 Jul 11 - 04:03 PM
stallion 31 Jul 11 - 05:22 PM
saulgoldie 31 Jul 11 - 05:48 PM
GUEST,livelylass 31 Jul 11 - 06:05 PM
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Subject: Provenance or performance?
From: stallion
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 02:17 PM

I am often fascinated by lengths and hoops people go through in researching songs, indeed very often grateful fot the provenance they provide. I really just concentrate on getting the right notes to the right words and get my arse slapped on more occasions than I can remmember for not knowing where the hell a song comes from. Ok, if one is earning money from someone elses work then it is important. So, what is more important, singing a song well and not knowing it's provenance or singing a song badly but knowing where every comma should be and who's version it is? Ok two extreme examples but in sessions where people are being exposed to the genre for the first time I am sure they would choose the former.


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Subject: RE: Provenance or performance?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 02:29 PM

Feels like a false argument. IMHO both are of value/importance, depending on the circumstances. In concert performance is more important, clearly. But in a session it would depend on the participants' interests - do they want to be entertained or do they want to learn about the song's history and background (or both)?

For traditional songs, background is part of their appeal, for myself. For contemporary songs politeness dictates that the performer attributes the song to its creator, at least. And let's face it, if one has bothered to search the internet or transcribe the lyrics in order to learn them, the author's name is pretty easy to find out these days.

But in any case, it's not an either/or - both are important. It's not as if one has to "sacrifice" one in the interests of the other, in any way.


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Subject: RE: Provenance or performance?
From: Musket
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 02:38 PM

I agree with George. If I am somewhere other than a folk club and happen to play what could be considered (by some....) as a folk song, I just play it. In a folk club, rattling on about the origins and versions seems to be of interest.

Or every bugger is being polite!


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Subject: RE: Provenance or performance?
From: GUEST,livelylass
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 02:42 PM

So long as it's not a long self-indulgent waffle on behalf of the singer (Oh, I used to sing this back in 1968.. bla bla), a few pertinent factoids about the song, can add extra interest.


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Subject: RE: Provenance or performance?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 03:31 PM

I agree with George. But I was at a thing called a folk club the other evening and it plainly wasn't (I think I heard two folk songs all evening and I sang both) so I simply made a point of telling the people there that I was going to sing a folk song and I was sorry if that was going to spoil their evening. I mean the fact of it being a folk song, not my musical limitations in delivery.


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Subject: RE: Provenance or performance?
From: Maryrrf
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 03:57 PM

I think both are important and needn't be mutually exclusive, as other posters have pointed out. Even in a concert setting, I find that the audience enjoys the song more (and I certainly to) if they know something about its background. It needn't be extremely detailed information - unless it's a scholarly presentation the aim of the intro is to put the song in context and pique the audience's interest.


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Subject: RE: Provenance or performance?
From: Anne Neilson
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 04:03 PM

I can't imagine that I know of anyone who would not wish to give the best performance of which (s)he is capable, but I also know that provenance is a very important part of any song - for me - especially if there is a known writer; it should be a necessary courtesy to acknowledge that to an audience and need not be a lengthy distraction.
And - for me, personally - background knowledge and info. are a very important starting point when getting to grips with a new traditional song. But how much of this to share with any audience will always depend on particular circumstances, and I would hope that I get it right more often than I get it wrong.


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Subject: RE: Provenance or performance?
From: stallion
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 05:22 PM

Yes it is all about judgement, I have heard "save us the bloody 'istory lesson and just sing" at a recent singaround attended only by performers, it was very amusing.


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Subject: RE: Provenance or performance?
From: saulgoldie
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 05:48 PM

Well, I personally don't always want to know the whole (l-o-n-g) history of the lineage. But some of it adds to my enjoyment. I do that for my audience. And I hope they appreciate it. Here's an example. I am working on "The City of New Orleans," by Steve Goodman. I think--I hope--the audience will be interested in the Arlo Guthrie story of how the song made it from a not-very-well-known singer to top-of-the-charts. Gonna ride that train, too, someday.

Just hearing the song with no background whatsoever always leaves me wondering. Hearing something about it is very satisfying. To me, it is the essence of the "folk process." And some of the stories can be very entertaining, as well. Folklore, after all, does include some story-telling. IMNSHO.

Saul


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Subject: RE: Provenance or performance?
From: GUEST,livelylass
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 06:05 PM

"I have heard "save us the bloody 'istory lesson and just sing" "

Mmm, like I said above, the most tiresome lengthy experiences of song introductions I hear have been boring personal waffle about when or where else X sang this song ago/last week/yesterday. "Funny" personal anecdotes are not the same as a bit of info about the song itself.


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