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'Traditional' songs that are NOT !

Leadfingers 21 Jun 13 - 10:50 AM
GUEST 21 Jun 13 - 10:56 AM
Soldier boy 21 Jun 13 - 11:02 AM
sciencegeek 21 Jun 13 - 11:04 AM
Jack Campin 21 Jun 13 - 11:06 AM
MGM·Lion 21 Jun 13 - 01:18 PM
GUEST,Don Wise 21 Jun 13 - 01:51 PM
open mike 21 Jun 13 - 02:48 PM
Mark Ross 21 Jun 13 - 03:05 PM
Will Fly 21 Jun 13 - 03:12 PM
nutty 21 Jun 13 - 04:33 PM
Kampervan 21 Jun 13 - 05:13 PM
GUEST 21 Jun 13 - 05:28 PM
treewind 21 Jun 13 - 05:31 PM
Joe_F 21 Jun 13 - 06:24 PM
Elmore 21 Jun 13 - 06:35 PM
Leadfingers 21 Jun 13 - 06:41 PM
Phil Edwards 21 Jun 13 - 06:45 PM
Leadfingers 21 Jun 13 - 06:58 PM
Bill D 21 Jun 13 - 07:22 PM
GUEST,Guest 21 Jun 13 - 08:02 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Jun 13 - 08:05 PM
Tattie Bogle 21 Jun 13 - 08:11 PM
kendall 21 Jun 13 - 08:20 PM
John P 21 Jun 13 - 09:58 PM
Bill D 21 Jun 13 - 10:01 PM
McGrath of Harlow 21 Jun 13 - 10:47 PM
Dave Hanson 22 Jun 13 - 02:52 AM
GUEST,Don Wise 22 Jun 13 - 03:30 AM
MGM·Lion 22 Jun 13 - 03:36 AM
MGM·Lion 22 Jun 13 - 03:38 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Jun 13 - 03:44 AM
GUEST,Musket sans shame 22 Jun 13 - 03:50 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 22 Jun 13 - 03:51 AM
Hesk 22 Jun 13 - 05:13 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 22 Jun 13 - 06:32 AM
Crane Driver 22 Jun 13 - 06:54 AM
GUEST 22 Jun 13 - 08:52 AM
Ron Davies 22 Jun 13 - 09:31 AM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jun 13 - 09:57 AM
MGM·Lion 22 Jun 13 - 09:59 AM
Will Fly 22 Jun 13 - 10:12 AM
GUEST,Jack Sprocket 22 Jun 13 - 10:20 AM
Jim Carroll 22 Jun 13 - 10:53 AM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jun 13 - 11:11 AM
Jack Campin 22 Jun 13 - 11:20 AM
GUEST,PeterC 22 Jun 13 - 12:08 PM
Ron Davies 22 Jun 13 - 12:43 PM
GUEST,eldergirl 22 Jun 13 - 04:19 PM
GUEST,SRD 22 Jun 13 - 04:37 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Jun 13 - 07:54 PM
GUEST,Bewildered 22 Jun 13 - 10:00 PM
Leadfingers 22 Jun 13 - 10:06 PM
Jim Carroll 23 Jun 13 - 03:02 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Jun 13 - 03:02 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Jun 13 - 03:07 AM
Tattie Bogle 23 Jun 13 - 04:20 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 23 Jun 13 - 04:41 AM
MGM·Lion 23 Jun 13 - 04:53 AM
GUEST 23 Jun 13 - 05:04 AM
Will Fly 23 Jun 13 - 05:05 AM
Tradsinger 23 Jun 13 - 05:07 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Jun 13 - 05:14 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 23 Jun 13 - 05:31 AM
treewind 23 Jun 13 - 06:21 AM
MGM·Lion 23 Jun 13 - 06:33 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 23 Jun 13 - 08:03 AM
GUEST 23 Jun 13 - 09:16 AM
MartinRyan 23 Jun 13 - 09:27 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Jun 13 - 10:53 AM
selby 23 Jun 13 - 11:10 AM
Jim Carroll 23 Jun 13 - 11:11 AM
EBarnacle 23 Jun 13 - 12:34 PM
PHJim 23 Jun 13 - 02:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jun 13 - 04:25 PM
dick greenhaus 23 Jun 13 - 06:57 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Jun 13 - 07:28 PM
PHJim 23 Jun 13 - 07:46 PM
treewind 24 Jun 13 - 02:54 AM
GUEST,John Moulden 24 Jun 13 - 11:24 AM
dick greenhaus 24 Jun 13 - 11:32 AM
Will Fly 24 Jun 13 - 02:03 PM
Richard Bridge 24 Jun 13 - 06:37 PM
GUEST,Jack Sprocket 25 Jun 13 - 12:45 AM
GUEST,Norman 25 Jun 13 - 03:51 AM
McGrath of Harlow 25 Jun 13 - 08:29 PM
Soldier boy 26 Jun 13 - 03:53 PM
PHJim 26 Jun 13 - 04:06 PM
Allan C. 26 Jun 13 - 05:14 PM
Jim Carroll 27 Jun 13 - 03:31 AM
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Subject: Folklore: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 10:50 AM

A question for any 'old' (OR 'New') Folkies - Any songs you first heard introduced as traditional that turned out to be recently written ?

I recall hearing 'Dark as a Dungeon' introduced as "An English Miners song from the early eighteenth century" with NO mention of its actual American contemporary origins .

I know that Keith Marsden himself used to introduce 'Bring us a Barrel' as trad in his early days - Any other examples people can think of ?


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 10:56 AM

The expert on Children's songs and lore, Peter Opie, once said that anything that sounded old, was probably modern, and anything that sounded modern, was probably old.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Soldier boy
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 11:02 AM

Not this old chestnut again surely!

Sorry, I don't want to sound negative or combative, but I would have thought that this particular subject had been flogged to a permanent and timely death by now.

You'll just go round and round in endless arguments and never ever agree.

Oh well here we go again (deep sigh!)

Chris


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: sciencegeek
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 11:04 AM

LOL... I'll never forget listening to a radio program on public radio & hearing Steve Goodman's City of New Orleans referred to as traditional. Kept control of the truck, but not my irate shouting... :)

Of course, there is a secret delight when a tune or song that hubby or I have written gets the "Where did you get that? Is it traditional?" response. And wouldn't it be just wonderful if it did get preserved in the tradition....


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 11:06 AM

It's worth knowing about because there are still composers getting ripped off by ignorant or mendacious attributions to Anon (and less often but still too often, the other way round).


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 01:18 PM

GUEST ~~ Have you a ref as to where Peter Opie 'once said' that? I know his work pretty well and can't place it. I also knew him quite well [interviewed him & Iona for Folk Review, July 1974] & never heard him say it.

Not that in any way disproves his having said or written so; but I should welcome some more precise authentication.

~M~


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 01:51 PM

I know of at least one person who was convinced that "The Bakewell Witches" was traditional.......For all I know there may be more! What's also nice is digging an old text out of an archive somewhere, making a tune for it, singing it around and then, years later, watching the resulting song (same words,same tune) turn up on CDs as 100% 'trad.' Even though I'd obviously appreciate a little credit now and again it's good to clap myself on my shoulder and say "Well done!".


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: open mike
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 02:48 PM

The song Darcy Farrow , by Steve Gilette and Tom Campbell once won a contest for traditional songs, even though recently composed, to the embarrassment of the judges. Also Ashokan Farewell, a fiddle tune composed by Jay Unger for the Ken Burns Civil War documentary has often been confused with being a civil war era tune.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darcy_Farrow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMswQRt8C2A


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Mark Ross
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 03:05 PM

Utah Phillips was at a coal mining conference. Someone (it may have been Nimrod Workman) got up to sing what they said was an old song THE GREEN ROLLING HILLS OF WEST VIRGINIA, which of course was written by Utah. Archie Green offered to introduce Utah as the author of the piece. Utah said that he was happy to have the song enter tradition if the folk wanted it that way.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 03:12 PM

Ashokan Farewell, a fiddle tune composed by Jay Unger for the Ken Burns Civil War documentary has often been confused with being a civil war era tune.

The tune was written as a farewell waltz at the annual Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Camps, run by the composer and his wife, at the lakefront campus (near Ashokan Reservoir) of the State University of New York at New Paltz.

It was then later used for the Ken Burns documentary.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: nutty
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 04:33 PM

I can't remember the name of the film I watched which was supposedly set in pre-war Ireland and had people singing Fiddlers Green.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Kampervan
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 05:13 PM

Well, it all depends on how you def...................................................................................aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 05:28 PM

My favorite is the story referred in this page about Dave Webber's Hail! Hail! The First of May

Dave has told me that story himself, so it's probably true.
Apparently a woman said something like: "If I were you, young man, I'd leave the local songs for the local people to sing!"


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: treewind
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 05:31 PM

Oops! - cookie reset time. GUEST above was me.
Anahata


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Joe_F
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 06:24 PM

Confession time: I was shocked, at the age of 20, to discover that "Old Man River" was a show tune.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Elmore
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 06:35 PM

I'm sure this subject has been done to death, but Archie Fisher's "witch of the Westmorland", and Stan Rogers' "Barrett's Privateers" come to mind.

f


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 06:41 PM

And Barbara Berry's setting of an old poem 'I Wandered by a Brookside' was recorded as "Trad" as well .


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 06:45 PM

My favorite is the story referred in this page about Dave Webber's Hail! Hail! The First of May

Oops - I've been telling that story about Tony Deane's "Following The Old 'Oss"...


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 06:58 PM

I must admit I was thinking about song introductions at live events rather thsn bad info on recordings !


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Bill D
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 07:22 PM

There's a big difference between songs that can be traced to an actual author but are 'accepted into the tradition', and totally anonymous old songs.
It's quite a feat to come up with a tune, story and phrasing that fools 'most' people, but those whose notion of folk/trad begins with Dylan & Burl Ives sometimes just fall for a basic theme.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 08:02 PM

According to PRS (the bastards) all songs belong to them and there are no traditional songs.

That stance is of course helped by a general malaise/greed among revival singers of traditional material to go for the money.

Every traditional song sung live is a new arrangement and so has no place in the "trad / arranged" canon so beloved of certain individuals and those bastards at PRS.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 08:05 PM

There's a big difference between songs that can be traced to an actual author but are 'accepted into the tradition', and totally anonymous old songs.

I think I'd dispute that distinction. The fact that no record can be traced of the person who might have made a song is a matter of chance. Thomas Gray was right to comment on the fact that there are plenty of "mute inglorious Miltons" whose names we will never know.

The more relevant distinction is between songs which have been handed down relatively in one piece, and long forgotten songs which have been unearthed by musical resurrectionists from ancient broadsides and manuscripts and reshaped and relaunched. (And I'm not objecting to the latter practice, I hasten to add.)


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 08:11 PM

It's probably a great compliment to the author to have a song described as being "traditional" or "in the tradition", but as JC has pointed out, they could also be missing out on their royalties.
A few songs that spring to mind that sound traditional, but are not, are:
"The Earl of March's Daughter" by the late Lionel McLelland, and
"Yellow on the Broom" by Adam MacNaughtan, and
"The Vinney Den" by the late Jim Reid.

And it doesn't just apply to songs: the lovely air "Inisheer" by Thomas Walsh appears as "traditional" on one CD that I know of.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: kendall
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 08:20 PM

I'm told that THE LAST WHALE HUNT sounds traditional, and that's because I wanted it to. I take it as a compliment.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: John P
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 09:58 PM

To answer the specific question in the OP, some songs that were introduced to me as traditional but weren't are She Moved Through the Fair, Boys of Bedlam and The Queen of Argyll.

I once had a tune I wrote shown to me as a traditional tune. I took it as a compliment, but I also took the royalties.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Bill D
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 10:01 PM

"The fact that no record can be traced of the person who might have made a song is a matter of chance."

Well...sort of. There was a time when hardly anyone thought to write down either who 'composed' a song- if they could write at all - or the words. I suppose it is technically 'chance' that no one knows who created "The False Knight on the Road", but it is a bit different than losing track of the author of a broadside from 1827. And when Bruce Olson was active here, he sometimes DID find the one reference to an author that kept a song from being anon.

I think both our distinctions are relevant.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 21 Jun 13 - 10:47 PM

My point is that, just as it doesn't in itself make any real difference to me whether I personally know the name of the person who may have made a song, it doesn't make any real difference if no one knows the name, especially if the name is the only thing known. There's an interest arising out of curiosity, but it's not much to do with the quality of the song, which is what matters a lot more.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 02:52 AM

Surely no song ever starts out as ' traditional ' they become traditional over time, as many fairly recently written songs will.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 03:30 AM

Pete Coe's "Joseph Baker" has by all accounts long since 'transitioned' to 'traditional'.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 03:36 AM

There are a few, of whom Peter Coe is one [others who come to mind being Peter Bellamy, Ewan MacColl, Bob Pegg, 'Fiddlers Green' John Connolly] who had/have that knack of 'making' a song sufficiently in the idiom eventually to pass, maybe.

And what about all of Bert Lloyd's 'reworkings' or 'restorations' or whatever we are to call them, on which we have had more than one thread? Where do they 'fit', exactly?

~M~


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 03:38 AM

... and, in the US, I would mention Jean Ritchie; her West Virginia Mine Disaster sounds very traditional.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 03:44 AM

"Surely no song ever starts out as ' traditional"
We discovered a strange phenomenon when we started recording singers here in the West of Ireland in the early 1970s
Along with an extremely rich supply of both native and Anglo Irish songs recognisable as being from the national and international repertoires, we found dozens of anonymous local songs which, judging from their subject matter, must have been made during the lifetimes of the singers, yet in nearly every case we were unable to discover the authors/makers.
It later turned out the there were probably hundreds of them, many having disappeared when the memories of the events faded, though some were written down on scraps of paper or in notebooks - another local practice.
The subjects covered local happenings - fairs, markets etc., political events connected with the War of Independence, The Black and Tan period, local elections - even one about a popular priest who was moved on to another parish. By far to most popular subject was emigration.   
Many of these apparently passed into the local singing tradition, though some only survived on paper.
It seems that, elsewhere in Ireland, wherever there was a healthy song tradition, local song-making thrived - right up to the advent of portable televisions in the mid 1970s the practice of song-making was still happening among the non-literate Irish and Scots Travelling communities, both in Britain and Ireland.
I doubt if the songs being made today will ever become traditional as the mechanics of the tradition - the oral passing on process is long dead and most song makers insist on copyrighting their compositions - though a number of MacColl's 'Travelling People' songs nearly made it and 'Shoals of Herring' still turns up as 'Shores of Erin' and tured up in a book on Sea lore in 1973.
Jim, Carroll

From Folklore and The Sea Horace Beck, Wesleyan University Press 1973

Bonny Shoals of Herrin'19

I left my home on a pleasant day
And to Yarmouth harbor I was farin'
For a cabin boy on a sailing
Just to hunt the bonny shoals of herrin'.

When they make you a fisherman
And you've learned all about the sailin'
Let your education start with navigation
As you hunt the bonny shoals of herrin'.

Oh the work was hard and the hours were long,
And the great men shouted up from bailin'
And I used to sleep standing on my feet
As I dreamed about the shoals of herrin'.

On a stormy sea and a livin' gale
I an' the gear that I was farin'
Sailed ten thousand miles, caught ten thousand fishes
As we hunt the bonny shoals of herrin'.

Night and day you're sailin'
Come winter weather weather, winter gales
Sweating a course, growing old, growing old
As you hunt the bonny shoals of herrin'.


19 Personal collection Collected in Dingle, County Kerry in 1969, this is typical of songs popular among fishing fleets to this day


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,Musket sans shame
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 03:50 AM

Here Jim...

If it is sung in a folk club it must be traditional........








Ok. Back to bed now. My work is done.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 03:51 AM

Michael, I am the Anon GUEST (forgot to type my name in the box!) who mentioned Peter Opie. I have known this quote for a very long time. It was either in one of the books, or else something that he said during a talk in London. I remember thinking that it was well worth remembering when I first heard it.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Hesk
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 05:13 AM

"Soldier Boy" is tired of others repeating the same old ideas, but I wonder what he thinks is so marvellous about the new ones.
Surely this is just a place to natter about music and song, and there are loads of people who have joined recently, or who can't be bothered to wade through thousands of threads, who would find these repeats interesting.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 06:32 AM

It is quite nice when someone praises one of your songs and asks if it is traditional. Kind of suggests they think it was good enough to have lasted. On several occassions I've had people say they thought my song "Grinlae Moor" was trad. Grinlae (or Greenlaw for non locals) Moor lies between Greenalw and Duns in Berwickshire. Here is a vid of the song at our open mic in Kelso. sorry 'bout the percussion. not supposed to be any but someone was trying to join in kind of indiscriminately :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=91aDY7OXACY


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Crane Driver
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 06:54 AM

We recently visited Swansea museum, where there was a special exhibition on the copper trade (the source of Swansea's Victorian prosperity). One of the display boards dealt with the sailors who brought back copper ore from around the world for the smelters. It mentioned the three pubs where sailors had their last drinks ashore (the Cuba Inn, the Mexico Fountain and the Cape Horner) and ended: ...as described in the old shanty 'Who here drinks at the Cuba?'.

I wrote that song in 2004. It's on my CD 'Pennbucky to Llangenny' which was on sale in the Museum's shop. We didn't say anything, as I'd rather it stay there with the wrong attribution than get taken down, but we did laugh. At least I can say now that I'm genuinely a museum exhibit. And I do take it as a compliment - I'd set out to write something that sounded like a real shanty from the period, and it seems I succeeded.

Andrew


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 08:52 AM

If I want to call a song traditional, then I will.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Ron Davies
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 09:31 AM

My favorite (true) story on this topic is when I was asked in all seriousness at Sidmouth whether it was considered sacrilegious to dance to "Askokan Farewell".

Which, as noted earlier, was written for a dance camp.

It appeared the person was relieved when I gave my permssion to dance to that tune.

But it certainly is a striking example of the power of associating music with events---and possibly of not doing research.

I still suspect that very few do dance to it.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 09:57 AM

People making up songs locally isn't really "a strange phenomenon". Isn't it what we all do, after all, and what people have always done? The strange thing is that a culture has sprung up in which it is seen as strange.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 09:59 AM

If I want to call a song traditional, then I will
.,,.,.

Sure, Guest. Carry on.

And if I want to call a dog a cat, or a cow a horse, or an apple an orange, then I will too.

Who's going to stop me?

~M~


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 10:12 AM

Ron, our band sometimes plays "Ashokan Farewell" as a waltz for dancing to at a ceilidh - but we tend to play it a little faster than the somewhat sickly-sweet original by Jay Ungar. More in the spirit of a Viennese waltz.

It's a good tune, but there are plenty of other good waltzes to go at which are rarely heard.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,Jack Sprocket
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 10:20 AM

Then you get songs like Cawsand Bay, that is apparently anonymous and traditional, but also has the look and feel of a composed song.

As for threads that have been done before, the old stagers here should be like the men in a bar in the story (you know the one, where they told jokes by numbers), just type the thread numbe.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 10:53 AM

"People making up songs locally isn't really "a strange phenomenon""
No it isn't, but the fact that the songs remained anonymous, even to the singers who must have been around when they were made and who took the trouble to learn them, most certainly is.
It's also fairly important that this was happening all over the country, wherever there was a healthy song tradition.
One of the saddest aspects of this is that, with few exceptions, because the songs had little relevance outside their immediate areas they never survived - a neglected piece of oral history.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 11:11 AM

But it's the way you tell the number that matters.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Jack Campin
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 11:20 AM

The process Jim Carroll describes also applied in Turkey (possibly still does in places) - there are lots of topical songs of 20th century origin with no known composer.

Oddly, songs of the same era in the same musical idiom but with religious/mystical texts (something you don't get in Ireland, as far as I know) usually do have known composers. They tend to come out of the Alevi/Bektashi tradition, where bards belong to documented lineages.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,PeterC
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 12:08 PM

I play tunes rather than songs(I only sing in the bath!)My repertoire is mostly traditional (English, Scottish, Irish, and a few Welsh) but I do include some great 'composed' tunes that do not feel out of place - including lots by James Scott Skinner, Tom Anderson, and a few by Ric Sanders, and Chris Newman.
BTW would people regard tunes by Carolan, or James Hill, say, are traditional, or composed?


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Ron Davies
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 12:43 PM

"sickly sweet".    Geschmacksache.

I actually really like the original tempo.   It was, as I understand it, an elegiac farewell to the camp.

Also, even I am somewhat affected by the Civil War connection, though I know the origin of the tune.    The Ken Burns series was perhaps the most powerful TV broadcast I have ever seen--the combination of photos and narration, especially on that topic, was incredibly moving. Perhaps more so to Americans than to others.

And that tune permeated the entire series.

Though as I said, I gave my permission to dance to it.




Also, what is your view on Foster's"Hard Times"?. In my experience Britons tend to liven it up too much, which undercuts the gravity of the subject--even seems to add irony (which I suspect is not intended).


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 04:19 PM

One of the nicest things ever said to me; "what a lovely tune - is it really old?" - referring to a tune I'd made as a setting for a poem I'd found in a book. Yesss! That was the idea. It's good when it works.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,SRD
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 04:37 PM

Nearly ten years ago, attending a 60th birthday party of a regular pub-goer, an elderly gentleman (at least 70 years of age) of the travelling kind quietly starting singing MacColl's 30' Trailer, I was propped up at the bar alonside him and joined in the chorus, no one else paid much attention. When he finished he asked me how, as a non-traveller, I knew a song that his grand-father had taught him when he was a lad.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 07:54 PM

I hope you held your tongue and didn't enlighten him, SRD. Some things are more important than strict accuracy.

And it's likely enough his grandfather would have said the kind of things which MacColl used when he made the song.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,Bewildered
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 10:00 PM

It would help a great deal if people would indicate which posting / message they are responding to.
Just the from name on the first line of any subsequent message would help to make threads less fragmented.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Jun 13 - 10:06 PM

There are a pile of stories about the Radio Ballad songs from travellers and fishermn alike


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 03:02 AM

"I knew a song that his grand-father had taught him when he was a lad."
The same was said of several of his songs, including 'Shoals of Herring' 'Freeborn Man' and 'Moving On Song' - MacColl always took it as a compliment.
His Radio Ballad songs, those from 'The Irishman' and others like 'Shellback' and 'The Tenant Farmer' were constructed from recorded actuality; 'Shoals' from Norfolk fishermen, Sam Larner and Ronnie Balls, 'Freeborn Man' from Belle Stewart, 'Moving' from a Scots Travelling woman who described in The Travelling People' being forced to give birth in a moving caravan while being evicted from her site......
The actuality, much of which wasn't used for the programmes, make fascinating listening and are archived in the Charles Parker Collection in Birmingham Central Library,


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 03:02 AM

"I knew a song that his grand-father had taught him when he was a lad."
The same was said of several of his songs, including 'Shoals of Herring' 'Freeborn Man' and 'Moving On Song' - MacColl always took it as a compliment.
His Radio Ballad songs, those from 'The Irishman' and others like 'Shellback' and 'The Tenant Farmer' were constructed from recorded actuality; 'Shoals' from Norfolk fishermen, Sam Larner and Ronnie Balls, 'Freeborn Man' from Belle Stewart, 'Moving' from a Scots Travelling woman who described in The Travelling People' being forced to give birth in a moving caravan while being evicted from her site......
The actuality, much of which wasn't used for the programmes, make fascinating listening and are archived in the Charles Parker Collection in Birmingham Central Library,


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 03:07 AM

Whoops - it happened again - premature ejaculation..
Birmingham Central Library, and some of it with the MacColl/Seeger Collection at Ruskin College.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 04:20 AM

Just watched Allan Conn's song (see 22.06.13) - nice one.

Ashokan Farewell - various people have tried to put words to it: is that not even more sacrilegious than dancing to it? ;-). Personally, I prefer it at the slower (wistful) speed which reflects Jay 's story of how he came to write it.

Radio Ballads: there are several songwriters out there who are continuing to write songs based on older people's memories and reminiscences of now defunct lifestyles and industries, e.g "Guiding Light" by Scott Murray re the demise of the fishing industry, and it has a very "traditional" feel to it:
"Nae boats noo doon in the harbour,
But aye, I mind on them weel".
The song includes the lines,
"And we thought on the man nearly lost
Wha was ta'en frame his boat by a wave,
He was put back on deck by anither
And we thanked The Lord he was saved".
Just about every small port up and down our coast has a similar story, and didn't the same thing happen more recently to an ocean- going yacht?

And finally (as on other threads) we all know about those "traditional Irish ( sic) songs":
From here to Clare
Fiddlers' Green
The Last Thing on my Mind
Dirty Old Town
Wild Mountain Thyme
Etc, etc


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 04:41 AM

Unknown GUEST is entitled to think that something is "utter rubbish", but when it is said by an authority such as Peter Opie, who had a vast experience of traditional lore, then I think that it is at least worth considering.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 04:53 AM

Yes, indeed, Mike. But I can't say I think the particular remark under consideration has all that much going for it ~~ has a considerable element of the smartarse show-off paradox about it, to my perception. I suspect Peter was a bit conscious of his 'authoritative' status, & so was a bit prone to throw out such aperçus with a sort of implied exam-paper '...Discuss' in the tone.

~M~


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 05:04 AM

Personally, I prefer it at the slower (wistful) speed which reflects Jay 's story of how he came to write it.

Point taken - as is Ron's - but we play "Ashokan" a little faster in the band so that people can actually waltz to it. Without a little 'up-tempo', the original speed would turn the waltz into a sort of slow shuffle...

But, as I said in a previous post, there are lots of other great waltzes - here's a modern-ish one that I believe was written by Pierre Schryer:

The New Canadian Waltz


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Will Fly
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 05:05 AM

GUEST above was me - hadn't realised i had to reset my cookie...


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Tradsinger
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 05:07 AM

I once read an article about the song "House Carpenter" stating, with some academic authority, that it was written in about 1600 by a known composer. Imagine telling an Appalachian ballad singer that "It's not traditional, you know, it's composed", as if "traditional" songs arose spontaneously out of the ether. I seem to remember another article, but I can't trace it, saying that of the songs collected by Sharp, about 95% can be traced to a known composer.

This means that the importance is not the song, it's the context in which it's performed that gives it a traditional label, along with other factors such as: giving rise to variants, being passed on from person to person, acceptance by a group or community etc.

The whole subject is a minefield and although I think I can spot a "traditional" song when I hear it, I guess that all of you will have a different perception.

This issue can go round and round in ever-decreasing circles and we all know where that leads.

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 05:14 AM

Hi Mike,
The Opies were as you describe, experienced, but they were prone to occasional lapses.
This from Lore and Language of Schoolchildren, pps 95-96
Jim Carroll

"Genuinely erotic verse, however, is unusual. That there are villains among children, as among adults, the News of the World offers frequent testimony; and from somewhere the ogre child acquires his strange salacious prescriptions, taking criminal pleasure in pressing them on
juniors, and inscribing them on the walls of the school lavatory. But we are not here discussing delinquents. The usual group of youngsters whispering together, passing some verse to each other and giggling, though they refuse to tell what it is, are probably interested in nothing more sordid than the deeds of nature, an intimate garment, or a crude word."


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 05:31 AM

I suspect that the sort of thing that Peter Opie was talking about would include songs such as "The Wild, Wild Berry" or "The Doughty Packman", both from the singing of Ray Driscoll, and both seeming to be "old".


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: treewind
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 06:21 AM

According to the booklet notes of a CD we've just had for a magazine review, "Mr. Tambourine Man" is now traditional.

The performers are of the same generation as the group heard recently singing "Young Banker" and apparently unaware the the subject of the song was NOT somebody in the financial services industry.
(I don't know whether they thought that one was trad or not.)


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 06:33 AM

Presumably because he could afford "Such a lovely head of hair"!

~M~


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 08:03 AM

GUEST said "According to PRS (the bastards) all songs belong to them and there are no traditional songs."

Not true I'm afraid. PRS recognises that there are traditional songs and copyright cannot be claimed for these, although it can be claimed for an arrangement

"Every traditional song sung live is a new arrangement and so has no place in the "trad / arranged" canon so beloved of certain individuals and those bastards at PRS. "

Wrong again. Simply singing it unaccompanied is not an "arrangement". According to PRS's own guidance, for an arrangement to be copyright it has to be a bit more than just putting a few chords to it.   Where an arrangement is sufficiently original to be copyright in itself, it is only the arrangement and not the traditional melody which will attract royalties.

Where the PRS does lay claim to traditional music is in its licensing of venues. They claim that even where venues claim to perform only non-copyright material, it is likely that some of the pieces performed will in fact be copyright. The very existence of this thread shows that it can be difficult to know whether or not a song is really covered by copyright.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 09:16 AM

How sad that Jim Carroll should ignore all the outstanding work that Peter and Iona Opie did by digging out one small "occasional lapse". It is, I suppose, a sign of the times that we ignore that which is good in people and concentrate on their "occasional lapses". I wonder if Jim has ever written anything that he now regrets? Probably not.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: MartinRyan
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 09:27 AM

I wonder if Jim has ever written anything that he now regrets? Probably not.

In fairness - he not infrequently has written such on this very site - and has never been reluctant to admit it! ;.)>

Regards


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 10:53 AM

"I wonder if Jim has ever written anything that he now regrets? Probably not."
Please - don';t remind me.... brrrrrr!
Don't really understand your point though Martin - I was responding to Mike and pointing out that none of us are infallible, me or the Opies
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: selby
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 11:10 AM

If I wrote a song 10 years ago and in my area it is traditionally sung at a certain time of the year or event does that song not become traditional?
Keith


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 11:11 AM

Sorry Martin - mistook your quote for your opinion - apologies and thanks.
Guest
I certainly do not dismiss or ignore the Opie's work - we own and treasure most of what they wrote and still find it of enormous value in our own studies - doesn't mean to say.....!
I did not have to "dig out" anything - the concept of "ogre" and "villainous children" taking "salacious pleasure" in anything made me cringe 20-odd years ago when I first read it, which would be around the same time I fell about laughing when I was told that erotic childrens' lore was a rarity - they couldn't have attended Birchfield Road Primary School - I'm sure I would have noticed them!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: EBarnacle
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 12:34 PM

What offends me is when those who should know better decide a song is Trad. I specifically think of Schooner Fare's use of Fiddler's Green in this context.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: PHJim
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 02:00 PM

An anonymous GUEST said, "If I want to call a song traditional, then I will."

That's fine, call it what you will, but don't record it or perform it and credit it to "traditional" if you know it's composer. The composer of a song deserves to be credited for his/her work.

For many years I, quite innocently, used to perform "Where The Wild, Wild Flowers Grow", thinking it was a traditional folk song until I heard Cathy Fink sing it and credit Ola Belle Reed. I now always mention Ola Belle when I perform the song.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 04:25 PM

I rather prefer the term "in the tradition", which sidesteps these kind of arguments. Though it is problematic insofar as it seems to imply that there is only one tradition, which is nonsense. I suppose from that point of view "traditional" might have the advantage that it doesn't in itself imply that.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 06:57 PM

Aren't some of you confusing "traditional" with "public Domain"?


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 07:28 PM

I think dick is right there. And related to that is the assumption that "traditional" implies anonymous, which would tend to deny even the possibility of any living tradition.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: PHJim
Date: 23 Jun 13 - 07:46 PM

Dick, Right you are, but if I see a song/tune lead sheet with "Traditional" in the top right where the composer's name usually goes, or "Traditional" written after a song/tune on a CD, I make the assumption that they mean P.D.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: treewind
Date: 24 Jun 13 - 02:54 AM

"If I wrote a song 10 years ago and in my area it is traditionally sung at a certain time of the year or event does that song not become traditional?"

Of course - that nicely highlights the point that "written by someone" and "traditional" are not a pair of opposite meanings. The origin of a song is never traditional; tradition is what happens to it after it's been written, and it can happen during the author's lifetime.

"Trad" on a song sheet could be cynically described as meaning that the work of finding out who wrote it is judged to be more then the publisher's budget (including the possibility, in one extreme, that the information is not available at any cost, and in the other, that they can't be bothered to make the simplest enquiries)


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 24 Jun 13 - 11:24 AM

The main problems in this discussion appear to me to be:
1. The inherent conflict between the concept of copyright and that of common property. As Stephen Sedley, (now Lord Justice) said in an article in Ewan McColl and Karl (Fred) Dallas' magazine'Folk Music', the law of copyright does not adequately handle the concept that a song can have common ownership;
2. The concept of Public Domain is an American legal one. As far as I know, it does not exist under European Law;
3. The usual reason for considering a song with a known recent composer to be traditional is ignorance of its origin;
4. It is however, a misconception that a song which has a known author cannot be considered traditional. Here are the names of three songs demonstably composed before 1831 by a mid-Antrim (Ireland) poet named Hugh McWilliams - The trip over the Mountain; When a Man's in Love; The Lass among the Heather (look in the Bodleian under Blooming Heather) and what about Laurence Price, Martin Parker John Morgan etc.?

In my view, this business of 'folk' or even 'traditional'is a matter of misapplied concepts. It is all about what people sing - if enough people sing it intensively enough or for long enough, it takes on the appearance of traditionality. What matters is what people do. I know this is not neat, not amenable to facile definitions. But what interests us is singing. Why not remake the definitions according to ideas that derive from singing rather than from whether a song is old or recent, has an author, or a claim to authorship, is common or rare. In other words, singing engages our subjectivity but our concepts are objective. 'The tradition' if such a thing exists is made up of the subjective choices of myriads of singers. Why not judge it in a similar subjective fashion.

I may seem to be out on a limb but I suggest it's a more substantial limb that the one that most others are sitting on.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 24 Jun 13 - 11:32 AM

For a forum that loves to quibble over words, I'm a bit surprised that someone doesn't stop and define the terms being used. Many words have different meanings in different context, and it's foolish to confuse "Traditional"(in the sense of whether royalties are due) with "Traditional" (in the folkloric sense of how a song's been transmitted.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 Jun 13 - 02:03 PM

2. The concept of Public Domain is an American legal one. As far as I know, it does not exist under European Law;

"Public Domain" may not be in European legislation, but the concept of "out-of-copyright" does. One of the things that Sir Cliff Richard has been banging on about over the last few years...


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Jun 13 - 06:37 PM

Moulden's points 1 to 3 are right.

There is in fact a four-way confusion going on here
(a) "Folk"
(b) "traditional"
(c) "Public domain" or "out of copyright"
(d) "Of unknown authorship" (or even "Orphan work").

Sir Cliff is not interested in song copyright but in the copyright (treated as a neighbouring right in most European territories and to some extent not properly dealt with under US law, at least in the past) in sound recordings.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,Jack Sprocket
Date: 25 Jun 13 - 12:45 AM

"Public Domain" may not be in European legislation, but the concept of "out-of-copyright" does. One of the things that Sir Cliff Richard has been banging on about over the last few years...

Is it already over 70 years since Sir Cliff died then? (well actually it feels a lot longer).


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: GUEST,Norman
Date: 25 Jun 13 - 03:51 AM

'Little Yellow Roses':

"This song originates from the Spanish Civil War, a poem written by a prisoner awaiting execution. It was smuggled out of jail and became this song".

That's the story that often precedes this increasingly popular folk club song. It sounds bwtter than saying "This was written by British character actor Trevor Peacock and recorded by Adam Faith in 1960".


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 25 Jun 13 - 08:29 PM

As has been pointed out, this is a topic that has been discussed in many threads. I disagree with the assertion that that means it has been done to death and ought to rest in peace, It's a tradition of this place, and we should respect and value traditions.

One term that can be useful in this context, since it sidesteps some of the pitfalls of"folk" is 'vernacular'. Here is a thread I started a few months back, stimulated by an article I had read online - It's not folk, it's vernacular


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Soldier boy
Date: 26 Jun 13 - 03:53 PM

Yawn.........!


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: PHJim
Date: 26 Jun 13 - 04:06 PM

I find it odd that someone who is bored with a topic will take the time to come and make a post about how boring it is. Not everyone has been here since the beginning and new posters will become dicouraged if, when they post about something, people say, "Oh no, not again, we've already talked about that."
If you see a topic that you don't want to hear any more about, don't read it. The original poster made it pretty clear what the thread was about in his title.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Allan C.
Date: 26 Jun 13 - 05:14 PM

Funny how we here take this stuff rather seriously while a poll of the general public would more than likely reveal that the majority think "White Christmas" is traditional - if they cared at all to consider the issue at all.


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Subject: RE: 'Traditional' songs that are NOT !
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Jun 13 - 03:31 AM

"I find it odd that someone who is bored with a topic will take the time to come and make a post about how boring it is."
"I believe they call it "Folk policing" - or am I thinking of something else?
Jim Carroll


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