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When did songs & tunes become folk?

Mr Happy 19 May 13 - 10:33 AM
Harmonium Hero 19 May 13 - 12:02 PM
Harmonium Hero 19 May 13 - 12:03 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 May 13 - 12:25 PM
Richard Bridge 19 May 13 - 12:37 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 19 May 13 - 12:58 PM
greg stephens 19 May 13 - 01:42 PM
MGM·Lion 19 May 13 - 02:08 PM
Continuity Jones 19 May 13 - 02:14 PM
Art Thieme 19 May 13 - 02:20 PM
GUEST,Musket sans iTunes genre instructions 19 May 13 - 02:50 PM
SteveMansfield 20 May 13 - 01:54 AM
Jim Carroll 20 May 13 - 03:27 AM
Jack Campin 20 May 13 - 03:41 AM
SteveMansfield 20 May 13 - 05:36 AM
Gibb Sahib 20 May 13 - 02:04 PM
GUEST,sciencegeek 20 May 13 - 02:48 PM
Gurney 20 May 13 - 05:47 PM
GUEST,sciencegeek 21 May 13 - 08:47 AM
Jack Campin 21 May 13 - 09:17 AM
GUEST,sciencegeek 21 May 13 - 09:39 AM
Gibb Sahib 21 May 13 - 11:18 PM
banksie 22 May 13 - 03:23 AM
Ron Davies 22 May 13 - 09:29 PM
Suzy Sock Puppet 22 May 13 - 10:05 PM
Jim Carroll 23 May 13 - 03:33 AM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 23 May 13 - 07:08 AM
Steve Gardham 23 May 13 - 08:07 AM
GUEST 23 May 13 - 10:30 AM
GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery 23 May 13 - 10:37 AM
GUEST,sciencegeek 23 May 13 - 11:19 AM
Jim Carroll 23 May 13 - 11:33 AM
Suzy Sock Puppet 23 May 13 - 11:39 AM
Suzy Sock Puppet 23 May 13 - 11:51 AM
Steve Gardham 23 May 13 - 12:03 PM
Jim Carroll 23 May 13 - 03:06 PM
Steve Gardham 23 May 13 - 03:49 PM
Suzy Sock Puppet 23 May 13 - 04:29 PM
Bill D 23 May 13 - 07:43 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 23 May 13 - 08:17 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 23 May 13 - 08:21 PM
catspaw49 23 May 13 - 08:31 PM
Jim Carroll 24 May 13 - 04:11 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 24 May 13 - 08:35 AM
Suzy Sock Puppet 25 May 13 - 12:24 AM
Jim Carroll 25 May 13 - 02:57 AM
GUEST,Musket sans iTunes genre instructions 25 May 13 - 06:17 AM
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Subject: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 19 May 13 - 10:33 AM

Music in all its forms has been around for millennia but when did some of it become known as 'folk music'?


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 19 May 13 - 12:02 PM

When the folk song collectore said it was.
JK


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 19 May 13 - 12:03 PM

Collectors, even.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 May 13 - 12:25 PM

The division between folk and "other" is mostly nonsense, as suggested by Harmonium Hero.

Some songs have lost their roots but song is song.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 19 May 13 - 12:37 PM

Oh fuck not again.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 May 13 - 12:58 PM

Start with thread 119490 and all the related threads listed as links.

"What makes it a folk song?"
What Makes


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 May 13 - 01:42 PM

Obviously music that shares the characteristics of folk music(however you personally define it) will have been around for ever.(unless you define it as singer-songwriter stuff with steelstrung guitars, in which case the answer is fairly recently) But if the question is, how long has music actually been called folk music. then surely the answer is 19th century Germany, when the term was coined. Or so I have been led to believe.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 May 13 - 02:08 PM

William John Thoms (November 16, 1803 – August 15, 1885) was a British writer credited with coining the term "folklore" in 1846. wikipedia


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Continuity Jones
Date: 19 May 13 - 02:14 PM

Well, as Louis Walsh said, Hitler is a horse with an IQ of 158 but not a member of Mensa.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 19 May 13 - 02:20 PM

I'm Sick and tired of this discussion and won't participate.---Art


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: GUEST,Musket sans iTunes genre instructions
Date: 19 May 13 - 02:50 PM

Dunno.   Ask Jim Carroll.   I once said that if it is sung in a folk club it is folk. That wound the old bugger up..


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 20 May 13 - 01:54 AM

Well as Hitler has already been mentioned that satisfies Godwin's Law - if I add '1954 definition' can we assume this thread done and dusted, and go back to our normal business?


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 May 13 - 03:27 AM

"That wound the old bugger up.."
No it didn't - it just convinced me I was dealing with a pratt!
If some eejit sings Nessun Dorma at a folk club it still remains an operatic aria - try telling an opera buff it's a folk song and see how far it gets you!
A folk song becomes a folk song because of its origins, the process it passed through, the people it once served and the position it once held in society - that's what makes it what it is.
We put labels on things so we know where to look when we fancy that particular flavour - same as why we don't ask for "drink" when we fancy a whiskey or "food" when we feel like a curry - never gets more complicated than that.
There Steve - now we can go about our normal business!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 May 13 - 03:41 AM

I saw this book at the weekend:

Matthew Gelbart: The Invention of 'Folk Music' and 'Art Music'

It was obviously a Ph.D. thesis turned into a book and looked rather boring. But if you really want an answer to that question it's the place to look.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 20 May 13 - 05:36 AM

Thanks Jim, I think we're clear to sign this one off.

However it did strike me after my earlier post that there are vast swathes of Mudcat where arguing about 'what is folk music' is the normal business :)


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 20 May 13 - 02:04 PM

The OP is an excellent question because it asks not "What is folk music?" but rather "WHEN is folk music?"

The anti-intellectuals, if they can't get over their outdated ideas of class, can just ignore the "vast swathes" of people who happen to care to understand the bigger picture.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 20 May 13 - 02:48 PM

if it hadn't been for people like Sharp & Child or Bartok so much more would have been lost... and why did they make the effort???

why did it matter if songs were no longer widely sung and were at risk of being lost... just like 99% of all previous music.

in the process of preserving songs labels got assigned... and now we obsess about the labels... sigh

ethnomusicologists are music geeks - something I can relate to as a fellow geek- geeks still enjoy music and beauty, we just tend to process it a bit differently than the average listener or singer.

does any of that make a song better or worse? of course not, it just adds or detracts from the enjoyment- depending on the point of view.

just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder... enjoyment follows the same dictate. different strokes for different folks... if it's not a thread you agree with... depart & leave it to those find some value in it.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Gurney
Date: 20 May 13 - 05:47 PM

Er..... When I sing it? Since I don't get paid to?


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 21 May 13 - 08:47 AM

I've been re-reading "This is your Brain on Music" and while I may quibble on some moot points, it is certainly a good read for geeks & non-geeks who kind of wonder about people and music.

There are a number of interesting points raised in the book- but what I found interesting was how a scientist/former music producer who still finds time to play his instruments was troubled with how modern Western society had segregated music into two catagories - music creators and music consumers. As opposed to music created and participated in by all- something that had always been inherent in previous cultures.

So maybe the answer to the "When" question is - whenever control of music is removed from all levels of a culture and placed in the control of a select few- who may or may not actually be musically inclined.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 May 13 - 09:17 AM

music created and participated in by all- something that had always been inherent in previous cultures

It wasn't. The biggest distinction has always been by gender - almost all cultures have different song repertoires for men and women, and instruments that only one gender plays. Others have instruments or pieces of music reserved for a priestly elite, or for ethnic minorities, or for groups of social outcasts. This kind of distinction goes back to the Palaeolithic. No woman would have played a didgeridoo or a bullroarer in Australia for 50,000 years. And songs for men's initiation rites have only been performed out of women's earshot in all cultures for all human history.

The ways the rights to perform and listen to music have been divided up have always been as complicated as any society can manage. In the anthropological picture, modern Western culture is not unusually stratified.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 21 May 13 - 09:39 AM

sorry... but even if we accept that gender segregation has always been present - that still does not invalidate the observation that music was equally shared within the group. Last time I checked both sexes were members of Homo sapiens... or H. neanderthalis or H. erectus. And if there were taboos - you still just gave examples that both groups generated their music in common. It was not that only a single sex had exclusive rights to music creation.

And the current trend towards gender differentiation/inequality does not necessarily hold true for earlier cultures. That is an assumption that is untestable. It is also somewhat pointless quibbling... because at no point did you put forth an argument that within a culture with rigid gender roles, there was a further subset of music creators that controlled the generation of music for the larger group.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 21 May 13 - 11:18 PM

One of the troubling things about "folk" is the way the category/term has been used by Western elites (yes, a very generic category, but roll with it) to label huge segments of non-Western music. That is, whereas these speakers often distinguish categories of "folk," "popular," and "classical" for their own society's music, other societies' music gets lumped as folk. This appears to be driven by a perception that (most of) the music of these other societies does not have individual composers/creators, but rather that it is somehow the product of people as a group whole. That may be the case in some instances, but the broad use reflects a double standard. This is just one issue in the use of "folk" that makes it not just a simple category of convenient reference but rather an obstruction to understanding. The historical invention of the term "folk" is significant for the way it engenders a certain perception of the things it tends to label.

One might ask what was wrong with earlier terms (i.e. before "folk") to have made it necessary or desirable a label for people to start using. Was there a change in the nature or development of music that required this concept, or was the concept born of people that wanted to see music (whose nature had not changed) in a specific way, for certain reasons? If the former, can the term be used productively outside of the contexts that produced it (and which may no longer exist)? If the latter, shouldn't we be mindful of those reasons and, if our goals are not the same, consider scrapping it?


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: banksie
Date: 22 May 13 - 03:23 AM

When it becomes *known* folk music is whenever the term was created and first used in the context of labelling a specific type of music - so that is mid-19th century, according to others above.

Why it becomes known as folk music - what puts a song in that `folk' context - is the logical next step, but a step fraught with subjectivity. For example, one possible definition of the folk context is `if the folk sing it because they enjoy it rather than have to'. For example, someone may think The Holly and The Ivy is a good song in its own right, but its contexct as a Christmas Carol means it has a place and time which defines when it can be sung.

On the other hand, many of the songs of Buddy Holly or the Everly Brothers have obvious roots as pop songs. But if someone sings one in a crowded place - a pub is the obvious place - people of all ages join in, at least with the choruses. They have become part of the collective psyche that give pleasure, fond memories (and perhaps not so fond but nostalgic memories). And people like singing together, they like to participate. They'll say they don't sing and don't know any songs but they are right there with the chorus of Bye Bye Love or a shanty like South Australia.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Ron Davies
Date: 22 May 13 - 09:29 PM

Just as many answers as there are people--or at least as many as there are folkies.

Somehow it doesn't seem likely we'll agree on an answer.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Suzy Sock Puppet
Date: 22 May 13 - 10:05 PM

Jim Carroll's explanation is the best one :-)


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 13 - 03:33 AM

People who take an interest in any music find the labels necessary for all sorts of reasons.
Twenty odd years ago, If I wished to listen to traditional ballads, narrative rural songs, children's pieces, Puirt à beul..... whatever, I knew I would probably find them under the heading 'folk' - the same went for (and still does) opera, classical, hip-hop, swing, jazz....
If somebody had come along and said, "from now on let's call folk...." something else, I might have had a grouse about it (the term "folk" carries far to much historical and cultural baggage to be abandoned as far as I'm concerned) but I would would have had to accept the new name.
This is not what has happened; what is being argued for here is the abandoning of any attempt to identify the music we are involved in and lump it together as... what - "music" maybe? This is equivalent to tearing all the labels of the tins in your food cupboard.
We worked for over thirty years recording traditional singers; almost all of them, once you gave them some idea of the type of song you were looking for, came up with their own name (label).
In Ireland, the most popular ones were probably, "come-all-yes", "Sean Nos", "local", "ballads" (whichever locality you happened to be in), or simply "old".
Appalachian singer Jean Richie once told of how, when she was collecting in Ireland, if she mentioned the song 'Barbara Allen' it would produce an unbroken flow of 'traditional songs' - all the singers had categorised their songs under their own heading.
We found the same all over these islands.
Now my interests include research as well as pleasure, the labels we choose are even more important, to archive, to write, to give talks,or even simply to discuss on forums like these, and it seems an act of utter stupidity to abandon a serviceable identification tag without replacing it with another equally serviceable.
In 1948, Walter Pardon, the last big repertoire traditional singer in England, began to write down his family's songs in an exercise book. The order of those songs fell into a more-or-less identifiable pattern of types.
To the day he died Walter referred to the songs I would call 'traditional' as "folk".
If it was good enough for Walter it's good enough for me.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 23 May 13 - 07:08 AM

For me, the answer to the original query is- 'When people stop worrying about it & just get on with the music...


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 May 13 - 08:07 AM

I see plenty to applaud in both Jims' responses. The only thing I would add is that in today's world trying to pin it down to absolute guidelines is pretty pointless. All of the other genres Jim mentions don't feel the need to do this so why should we do it with 'folk'?
It's best to look at the whole field of music as a Venn diagram with lots of overlapping circles (IMHO)


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 May 13 - 10:30 AM

'When did songs & tunes become folk?'

The last day of 1954.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: GUEST,Henry Piper of Ottery
Date: 23 May 13 - 10:37 AM

Hello.
Whats with the 1954, I keep seeing references to it, what happened in that year thats so significant??


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: GUEST,sciencegeek
Date: 23 May 13 - 11:19 AM

maybe the OP should have been when did certain forms of music get defined as folk.. and when did it become "general" knowledge?

in the USA, during the '60's & 70's discount stores & those specializing in records/LPs would put folk/traditional albums in either folk or international bins. The only sure way to find what you wanted was to get catalogs from Elderly, Rooster Records, Green Linnet or Folk Legacy to name a few... and even then, only if you knew about them.

When radio first became widespread, local stations got local talent to perform live on-air... and they aired the music that the local audience wanted. Old timey-bluegrass-blues-gospel-cowboy were some of the musical traditions heard on the air. Popular groups were offered contracts that included recording opportunites and taking their music on the road.

Where music publishing had been the major influence before, music recording became the new big gun... which eventually led to the current situation of major labels (big business) and independents all competing for a "share of the market". And labels can help attract an audience - or drive them away.   But until you hear it... how do you know it's something you want more of?

A film like Titanic may have had a hit theme song... but it also had a lot of grand traditional tunes that may have found a new audience.. much as River Dance did earlier.   Mass media helped preserve musical forms, but it also ended up assigning labels.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 13 - 11:33 AM

"All of the other genres Jim mentions don't feel the need to do this so why should we do it with 'folk'?"
You have to be joking Steve - have you ever stood between two classicists arguing the toss about whether Tchaikovsky or Berg is 'classical', or jazzmen talking about the validity of Mingus or Brubeck compared to Beiderbecke or Ory?
Try advertising a classical concert at The Royal Festival Hall and putting on an evening of James Last.
All music has its definitions and sub-definitions and devotees who will fight to the last drop to defend them.
To a researcher, a large degree of precision in the terms used is vital to understanding and it is fairly important to the casual folkie who travels ten miles to attend a folk club one winter's night only to come away without hearing anything resembling a folk song.
Abandoning any form of definition is taking away an individual's choice of what they prefer to listen to and it makes communication between people wishing to discuss their music virtually impossible.
Food analogy again - it's like going into a greengrocers and asking for apples, only to return home to find you've been handed a bag of tomatoes (love apples).
1954 - can of worms here we come.
The International Folk music Council adopted a workable definition of 'folk music' that year, more or less internationally accepted but nowadays very much in need of repair.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Suzy Sock Puppet
Date: 23 May 13 - 11:39 AM

Gibb Sahib,

I wouldn't dream of labeling huge segments of non-Western music "folk." What do you think I am, some sort of orientalist twat? I believe in being as specific as possible, which is why I recently came up with the following category in honor of you:


Karpathian Bees 


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Suzy Sock Puppet
Date: 23 May 13 - 11:51 AM

And don't forget this one:

Music by Folks Who Love to Wind the Old Bugger Up 


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 May 13 - 12:03 PM

I'm not joking, Jim. In any genre there are as you say people who will argue black is white. If these things had hard and fast boundaries they wouldn't be able to argue. Of course we need rough guides and labels and a wide-ranging word like 'folk' has come to cover a wide range of possible sub-genres so we need further words to narrow things down. I would say your definition of folk and mine will be pretty close and mostly in accordance with 1954, but we are very much in a minority.

I wouldn't want to abandon our existing definitions, but we have to accept it when terms come to have a wider meaning, or bang our heads against the wall!

In 54 The IFMC put out their definition but it didn't last long before they had to change at least one of the criteria. It was purely for academics and scholars to use.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 13 - 03:06 PM

"black is white."
No Steve, in the case of most musics they will argue black is black and white is white.
"but we have to accept it when terms come to have a wider meaning,"
As I pointed out, this isn't the case here, rather than re-defining the term and understanding those meanings, the argument is that there should be no definition or meaning whatever.
In some case language evolves; what has happened to "folk" is that it has either become a dustbin into which you bung everything you don't have another word for or it is used as a 'wannabe' term - "a word means what I want it to mean".
I seem to remember reading that you are a teacher; do you start your class by taking a vote on what you mean by say, algebra, or biology, or trigonometry or religion or whatever..... or do you explain what the word means (if it isn't already understood) and work from that basis?
Communication can only work in generally accepted terms, otherwise all men become islands.
With folk, you have the added complication of related subjects; folk-lore - music - dancing - tales - speech - art - costume.... what do you propose, a Unilateral Declaration of Independence from all of these?
As MtheGM pointed out, the term 'folk' dates back to 1846 - it wasn't a randomly chosen word, but was picked for a whole bunch of specific reasons and came with numerous social, cultural and historical implications.
If anything has altered to make those reasons no longer valid, then pick a new word; otherwise it's a definition we're stuck with - for the foreseeable future at least - virtually all our 'folk' literature adheres to the long accepted definition.
As a researcher, you really should be aware of the necessity of precision in the use of language to facilitate communication.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 23 May 13 - 03:49 PM

I'm aware of all that, Jim, but I'm also very much aware of the evolving language you mention. You are of course quite right about the word 'folk' but don't forget the first use of the words 'folk song' in about 1860 was a book that contained items nothing like the things we call 'folk song' today.

Nobody has suggested anything like 'taking a vote'. If I was teaching a class on etymology I would welcome discussion on the perceived and accepted meanings of any word. When I go to a class of university students today to talk about folk song, yes, the first thing we do is discuss their perceptions of what 'folk song' is and was. And after that I don't impose my rigid definitions on them, I just tell them what various bodies define as folk song and then proceed to sing and discuss some examples.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Suzy Sock Puppet
Date: 23 May 13 - 04:29 PM

Some would argue that folk music is more or less the popular music of bygone era. I think the Victorians especially favor that definition. They loved their nostalgia- merry old England and all of that.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Bill D
Date: 23 May 13 - 07:43 PM

Some labels & usages have, as noted, been around since the late 1800s and were used off & on, but it didn't really become an issue until people like Cecil Sharp, John Lomax and a few others began 'collecting' and publishing and doing actual field recording in the 20s & 30s. Then they needed some agreed on language so the libraries & book stores and record companies could file things.

Problem is 'folk' is such a neat, handy, short word that it got co-opted by certain people who wanted to shoehorn THEIR stuff into a nice, accepted category.

and off we go!


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 23 May 13 - 08:17 PM

I thought Science Geeks answer, although it was an answer to when music STOPPED being folk made sense:

- "whenever control of music is removed from all levels of a culture and placed in the control of a select few- who may or may not actually be musically inclined."


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 23 May 13 - 08:21 PM

Although I know many people get impatient with these kinds of discussions, there is a practical aspect too. I have a thread that takes this discussion in a bit of a direction....It's on the CRTC (Canadian Radio and Television Commissions) category definition of 'folk or folk oriented'.   And it's crucial for any radio station---especially community radio stations---who have to play 35% canadian music if it's in the 'pop' category, and only 15% (I think) if it's in the "Folk or folk oriented" category...(or "world" music...whatever that is; or jazz).

But I need to figure out what most people think of when we think of 'folk oriented'

And since that's a bit different from this topic, I want to invite some responses to my 'CRTC folk or folk oriented thread'.

Thanks.


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: catspaw49
Date: 23 May 13 - 08:31 PM

Was there a problem in just sitting around and reading the 7493 other identical threads and then realizing it ain't worth the effort? Like Art, I'm tired and sick to death of this fruitless and endless discussion. ANd although RIchard Bridge and I happily insult each other and rarely agree, in this case he has it summed up succinctly and perfectly.....quite a rarity for him:

"Oh fuck not again."


Spaw


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 24 May 13 - 04:11 AM

"the evolving language you mention."
Which is not the case here - the "language" has not "evolved".
What has happened is that a small number of people involved in an extremely minority activity have decided to hang their hat on the "folk" peg - the rest of the world neither knows nor cares about what constitutes folk song, certainly not enough to create a new definition.
If common usage had created a new meaning for "folk" you might have a point - it hasn't and you haven't.
If a new definition has evolved, or even been suggested, tell us what it is so we can consider it.
You seem to be a fully paid-up member of the "let's not bother with a definition society" and considering our past arguments I'm not really surprised - do you honestly think that a sensible way to approach research?
I believe that the great problem of the folk clubs in Britain has been failure to 'spread the word' and to catch the imagination of the people in anything approaching significant numbers. The nearest thing we have ever had in Britain to a widely accepted definition of 'folk song' was that generated by Sharp's efforts to get folk songs into schools, which probably did more harm than good.
"I would welcome discussion on the perceived and accepted meanings of any word"   
Me too, but it doesn't mean I would go with the flow and abandon the accepted definition for the perceived one. Language really isn't that democratic - not in the short term anyway, otherwise you'd be changing your definition with every different group of students who come up with a different perception of the subject in hand.
There simply isn't an alternative definition, and until a workable one is arrived at we stick with the old one - to prevent total chaos, if for no other reason.
For me, one of the great deciders has been what has happened here in Ireland over the last twenty/thirty years.
Talking to the older musicians, we were told of how the music all-but died prior to that. We were told how, in some cases, musicians going into pubs were, sometimes not-too-politely shown the door; they certainly were never asked to play their "diddley-di music".
One of Ireland's great fiddlers described how he went to classes with his fiddle hidden for fear of being sneered at or even set upon my his schoolmates.
Nowadays, thanks to the efforts of the Irish Traditional Music Archive and events like the Willie Clancy Summer School (a week of classes in all traditional instruments, along with lectures, recitals, sessions and concerts) youngsters are flocking to the music in their thousands.
You can tune into programmes on traditional music, both performance and academically based, at least a dozen times each week, and here we can nip into town four nights a week to hear traditional music played to a good standard.
On the research side of things, Ireland has a world-class, universally accessible archive - if you haven't already, I suggest you look up the Irish Traditional Music Archive on the net - just received the latest update this morning. www.itma.ie/
Up to the present recession, asking for state money for research or performance projects was pushing on an open door.   
Outside of Dublin, our county Library has launched a project to make traditional music widely available - our own recordings are in the process of being added. http://music.clarelibrary.ie/fotoweb/   
Projects like this are now taking off all over Ireland; traditional music has come into its own and has been guaranteed a healthy survival for at least another two generations; song has a good way to go, but I believe it will get there given time.
None of this has been achieved by exponents or researchers faffing around and re(or un) defining the music in order to try and foll all of the people all of the time, but by working from the roots outwards - plenty of room for experimentation, but, unlike what has happened elsewhere, those involved have never lost sight of those roots.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 24 May 13 - 08:35 AM

The OP was asking about something that happened 100 years before the period Jim is talking about.

There were reasons for it, but they were tied in to the cultural politics of the period. Really, look at Gelbart's book. There doesn't seem to be anything very new in it, but it does pull together a lot of scattered historical anecdote.

(where did my cookie go?)


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Suzy Sock Puppet
Date: 25 May 13 - 12:24 AM

Jim Carroll, you should be ashamed of yerself! Look how you went and ran poor Steve off with your eloquence! You above all should know how clueless Englishmen are when it comes to folk music. You should feel sorry for Steve, not one up him. But for the grace of God...


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 25 May 13 - 02:57 AM

"Oh fuck not again."
Oh, fuck - not another folk policeman telling us what we should and should not discuss on a public forum - feel free not to take part my feline friend.
Jack,
I'm not sure what Gelbert has to say on the subject, but I'll certainly look out for it if it comes that highly recommended.
I came into folk song in the early sixties and the first thing I noticed was how different it was from anything I had ever heard before (or since), both in style, content and significance - it's this that has held my interest for over half a century and continues to do so.
When we started collecting in the early 70s we found people who were aware of and who were happy to discuss what the songs meant to themselves as individuals and to the communities they came from - that difference again.
What we were doing moved quickly from headhunting songs to recording social and personal history via the songs.
I came to believe that they represent a huge gap in our knowledge of our past.
If I wanted to know how many men fought at the Battle of Trafalgar, what ships took part and who were the commanders, I could get that from the Naval Records Office.
If I wanted to know how it felt to be taken, often forcibly from your family and home, from your plough or your loom or your mine, and be thrown into the middle of a murderous sea battle, I could get some of that from the songs. The narrative nature of our folk song genre makes it a perfect medium for passing on such information.
I've never been disinterested in new songs using the old models, on the contrary, I was always impressed by MacColl's argument that if new songs weren't made using old models, all this would be no more than gathering interesting and entertaining historical artifacts and putting them in museums.
Surely something as important and as unique as that is worthy of its own identity and to be recognised in its own right?
These arguments only become irrelevant when somebody attempts to apply value judgements and tries to tell people what they "should and shouldn't be singing" - seldom, if ever happens in my experience.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: When did songs & tunes become folk?
From: GUEST,Musket sans iTunes genre instructions
Date: 25 May 13 - 06:17 AM

Wonderful! Nice to turn your phone on and see something to make you smile.   We prats have a sad but simple existence.

Think I shall write a song about it and sing it at my local folk club.

That'll be a folk song then.


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