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Interpreting Folk Song

Mathew Raymond 12 Aug 13 - 04:53 PM
Phil Edwards 12 Aug 13 - 05:12 PM
McGrath of Harlow 12 Aug 13 - 05:31 PM
Mathew Raymond 12 Aug 13 - 11:27 PM
GUEST 13 Aug 13 - 12:51 PM
nutty 13 Aug 13 - 01:35 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 13 - 08:46 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 14 Aug 13 - 09:12 AM
Vic Smith 14 Aug 13 - 09:18 AM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Aug 13 - 09:27 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 14 Aug 13 - 09:33 AM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 14 Aug 13 - 09:41 AM
sciencegeek 14 Aug 13 - 09:45 AM
John P 14 Aug 13 - 09:56 AM
sciencegeek 14 Aug 13 - 10:47 AM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 13 - 10:58 AM
Brian Peters 14 Aug 13 - 11:00 AM
The Sandman 14 Aug 13 - 12:15 PM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 14 Aug 13 - 12:43 PM
Marje 14 Aug 13 - 12:51 PM
sciencegeek 14 Aug 13 - 01:09 PM
Brian Peters 14 Aug 13 - 01:38 PM
The Sandman 14 Aug 13 - 02:10 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 13 - 02:46 PM
Marje 14 Aug 13 - 03:50 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 14 Aug 13 - 05:56 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 13 - 07:01 PM
Jim Carroll 14 Aug 13 - 07:24 PM
Mathew Raymond 14 Aug 13 - 09:39 PM
Mathew Raymond 14 Aug 13 - 10:16 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Aug 13 - 03:44 AM
The Sandman 15 Aug 13 - 04:26 AM
The Sandman 15 Aug 13 - 04:32 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Aug 13 - 05:56 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Aug 13 - 06:15 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 15 Aug 13 - 06:46 AM
The Sandman 15 Aug 13 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 15 Aug 13 - 08:48 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Aug 13 - 09:11 AM
Marje 15 Aug 13 - 09:33 AM
Brian Peters 15 Aug 13 - 10:05 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 15 Aug 13 - 10:20 AM
Brian Peters 15 Aug 13 - 10:42 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 15 Aug 13 - 10:54 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Aug 13 - 11:28 AM
Mathew Raymond 15 Aug 13 - 12:45 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Aug 13 - 01:04 PM
The Sandman 15 Aug 13 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,just visited 15 Aug 13 - 02:32 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Aug 13 - 04:59 PM
The Sandman 15 Aug 13 - 05:35 PM
The Sandman 16 Aug 13 - 01:42 PM
Vic Smith 16 Aug 13 - 04:18 PM
Don Firth 16 Aug 13 - 06:32 PM
The Sandman 16 Aug 13 - 09:39 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Aug 13 - 03:53 AM
The Sandman 17 Aug 13 - 09:51 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Aug 13 - 10:08 AM
The Sandman 17 Aug 13 - 10:19 AM
Stringsinger 17 Aug 13 - 10:39 AM
GUEST,eldergirl 17 Aug 13 - 12:15 PM
The Sandman 17 Aug 13 - 12:34 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Aug 13 - 06:40 PM
Jim Carroll 18 Aug 13 - 04:00 AM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Aug 13 - 09:26 AM
Stringsinger 18 Aug 13 - 12:36 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Aug 13 - 02:01 PM
John P 18 Aug 13 - 05:07 PM
Jim Carroll 18 Aug 13 - 06:15 PM
GUEST,eldergirl 18 Aug 13 - 06:50 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Aug 13 - 07:39 PM
Will Fly 19 Aug 13 - 04:04 AM
Jim Carroll 19 Aug 13 - 06:20 AM
Will Fly 19 Aug 13 - 09:37 AM
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Subject: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Mathew Raymond
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 04:53 PM

I'm a bit confused about the interpretation of traditional music. I see multiple artists with similar versions of the same song and am wondering about the creative rights of such songs. Whats more is the practice of interpreting folk songs and deciding what tune to use if, as i understand for many songs, only the lyrics are available. How do the greats like Martin Carthy, Paul Brady and Nic Jones come out with these songs that are taditional, yet not traditional?


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 05:12 PM

If you know the author, you credit the author. If it's traditional, it's traditional. If you tweak the words or the tune, you can say it's arranged by you, hence "trad arr." If you take traditional words and set them to a whole new tune, you can credit yourself as author of the tune, or you can just call it another form of "arranged by".

What was the question again?


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 05:31 PM

Interpreting songs is about what they are about. For a singer it's about conveying what you see as the meaning.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Mathew Raymond
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 11:27 PM

Well take Arthur Mcbride for example, Paul Brady has a version which he published on 2 (I think) albums, and yet Bob Dylan has a version on one of his albums. Sure, it's not exactly the same (Brady's being in open G and Dylans in standard) but the melody and lyrics are essentially exactly the same. How much liberty can you take with a song before it stops being traditional, or before you dont have to credit the original author?

I'm new to mudcat and I'm trying to expel some questions (that may seem foolish to some) that have been building up for sometime. Questions that I thought I had nobody to ask, but mudcat has already answered so many of these so I thought I'd finish up the list. I'm extremely impressed with the intelligence and kindness of the people who frequent this site


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 12:51 PM

If its arranged by you, csn you claim royalties on it?


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: nutty
Date: 13 Aug 13 - 01:35 PM

The answer to that "Guest" is as long as a piece of string. You can try but whether you succeed or not may depend on where you live on the planet .


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 08:46 AM

"If its arranged by you, can you claim royalties on it?"
Why should you want, or feel you have a right to?
You wouldn't get away with it anywhere else on the musical spectrum
'Ownership' of folk song in any form goes against everything that the term 'folk' implies (belonging to us all) and is exactly what will kill it stone dead.
It appalls me that the ballad 'Maid and the Palmer', passed on to us by an impoverished Irish Traveller who died of malnutrition in a derelict house in County Roscommon, is now "owned" by a well-heeled and well-known musician who apparently has no interest in folk music whatever.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 09:12 AM

Traditional singers have been "arranging" folksongs for centuries; dropping verses they didn't like; adding verses from other versions and sometimes from other songs; setting the text to a tune they prefer and so on. It's called the folk process.

So far as I know, no traditional singer ever made, or claimed, royalties from the "arrangement" of a traditional song, and there is no reason why they should. All they did was draw on a collective pool of oral tradition which is or should be available to us all.

Matthew, I'm sorry if that seems a little harsh, because you sound like you might be new to folk music, and haven't yet grasped that it operates in a completely different orbit to the music of tin pan alley.

Even so I get sick and tired of wide boys and fast buck merchants who'll quite happily copyright anything that isn't nailed down. I'm just waiting for the day that one of them claims copyright on the air we breathe or the water we drink or the view from the top of Mount Snowdon.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Vic Smith
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 09:18 AM

Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 08:46 AM



All of his posting -


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 09:27 AM

The trouble is it does work in a culture that is dominated by the idea of corporate private property.

That's what the slogan "property is theft" means, not that people don't have a right to their own stuff, but that when people appropriate stuff that belongs to everyone, that's theft.

And welcome here Matthew. The Mudcat is a fine and friendly place, it's just that we have a tendency to rant sometimes. It's a tradition her, and it's a traditional sort of place.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 09:33 AM

I've just remembered a delightful story which is retailed in Peter Goldsmith's biography of Moe Asch, the owner of Folkways Records.

Asch, as people will know, recorded a lot of songs from Leadbelly in the early 1940s. Some of these, EG., The Rock Island Line, became a staple part of the skiffle boom over here, largely due to the efforts of Lonnie Donegan. Donegan was always happy to claim the credit on anything he recorded which wasn't already copyright. That included TRIL, and quite a number of other numbers he learned from those Leadbelly Folkways recordings.

One morning Asch received a visit from Donegan's agent. "Your Mr Leadbelly has been recording songs which are copyright to my client and I am here to claim the royalties."

Asch told him to come back that afternoon. "I'll have the records ready for you", he said. "And I'll break them over your head one by one".


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 09:41 AM

McG. Thanks for reminding me of that. It's worth remembering that privatisation didn't begin with Thatcher. The copyrighters of traditonal song had been doing the same thing long before she came along, and with about the same lack of scruples and justification.

BTW. I always understood that the copyright expropriator of The Well Below the Valley is Christie Moore, not Phil Coulter. If PC copyrighted it that is bad enough. But Moore has spent a lifetime reminding us of his socialist credentials. He more than most should be aware of Proudhon's wise words, and how they apply to folk music.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: sciencegeek
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 09:45 AM

my feelings go along with Jim Carroll's....

if you are going to claim royalties to anything, it should be limited to your performance on a permanent medium such as an album or song cut or something truely original like a new tune that you wrote. That's what is actually yours.

Public domain should remain public and not given away.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: John P
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 09:56 AM

For me, there's a couple of types of arrangement. Coming up with a set of lyrics and putting them together with an existing melody is just coming up with a version of the song by combining pre-existing bits and shouldn't be copyrighted. But I've had the experience of having a traditional song lifted straight off one of my albums, down to the mandolin riffs, bass parts, and vocal harmonies (both the notes and when they happened in the arrangement). I took it as a compliment, but I also wished I'd gotten credit for the work I did on the recording that wasn't related to whether or not the song was traditional.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: sciencegeek
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 10:47 AM

As the quote goes, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.", but it does leave out that respect for another's work includes giving credit where credit is due. And there are many who lack that respect.

I recognize that, having learned most of my traditional songs from recordings, there is a tendency to mimic the performer's style. But I also try to give some mention of where I got the song from...

Mike is part of a group that has been working C Fox Smith poems into songs- sometimes major reworking & new tunes, but keeping the spirit and intent intact- and he includes background notes that make it very clear what is his and what is not.

Oral tradition has changed due to technology and the tendency to "folk process" a song or tune has been caught in the middle. What used to occur in isolation has now become rather public.

One of the great values of Mudcat is to keep things out in the open forum... even with the arguing and grousing.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 10:58 AM

" I always understood that the copyright expropriator of The Well Below the Valley is Christie Moore, not Phil Coulter."
You may be right Fred, but my understanding is as I stated - I know that Tom Munnelly (the collector of the song) was outraged to learn that Coulter had copyrighted it - it was through Tom that I got my information.
Whatever I might think of Christie's singing, I've never found fault with his principles and his dedication to his beliefs.
He is the main (only) Irish 'superstar' to have helped put Travellers on the map and to draw attention to their importance in traditional song.
It has long been my belief that not only should no singer be able to copyright traditional material, but there should be a (voluntary maybe) convention that anybody singing folk songs commercially (albums, cocerts, highly-paid gigs etc) should be asked to make a donation to one of the bodies involved in preserving and disseminating them - E.F.D.S.S., N.S.A., I.T.M.A., S.S.S. et al, thereby assisting their work, and as a gesture of gratitude for having received such a precious gift.
I'd rather see any money going there than to the I.M.R.O. and P.R.S. parasites and their ilk.
Just a thought - duck!!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Brian Peters
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 11:00 AM

Phil Edwards answered the OP's question very succintly. But let's clear up one thing: as far as 'trad., arr.' goes, if I register my own recording of a song as such, it gives me no rights whatsoever with respect to the ownership of that traditional song, or over other people singing or recording it. What it does give me is the right to a slice of the loot if my recording gets played on radio or TV, etc. I fail to see why that is in some way theft, as some of the previous discussion seems to suggest (John Reilly / 'Maid & Palmer' is a special case, IMO). Nor do I understand why (as John P asserts) setting a trad. lyric to a melody not usually associated with it shouldn't be regarded as a new arrangement.

I can, however, think of examples of traditional songs being claimed as original compositions by certain artists. Very bad form.

I can also think of instances in which an artist has credited their version of a song to a previous traditional arrangement by another artist, because the second version borrowed instrumental ideas as well as just words and tune. And I can think of instances in which the same thing has happened, but without proper credit being given.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 12:15 PM

"disseminating them - E.F.D.S.S., N.S.A., I.T.M.A., S.S.S. et al, thereby assisting their work, and as a gesture of gratitude for having received such a precious gift.
I'd rather see any money going there than to the I.M.R.O. and P.R.S. parasites and their ilk."
I would like to remind everyone that IMRO, sponsored a song writing competition at Fastnet Maritime Folk Festival june 14 2013,by doing this IMRO has encouraged song writers and song writing, what do you say to that Jim Carroll, is that the behaviour of a parasite?,Jim have you ever sponsored a song writing competition ?
   on the subject of IMRO,I do think that like most bureaucratic organisations there is room for improvement., however I am sure that Iam not the only recipient of money from IMRO for either song writing workshops or competitions, I would like to see more money distributed in this manner by IMRO and PRS,I thought it was only fair to mention this, to present a more balanced view. undoubtedly I will now receive abuse from Jeri and jim carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 12:43 PM

Well, I may be doing MC a great disservice, and I hope that my attitude towards his social activism is not coloured by the fact that I absolutely cannot stand his singing. However, my "understanding" goes back to the Dublin Crossroads conference of the mid 1990s, and an animated discussion about copyright, which involved Tom Munnelly and Ian Green of Greentrax among others.

My recollection is of Munnelly saying that, although he and DK Wilgus recorded John Reilly, neither of them copyrighted any of the songs they got from him, or from anyone else for that matter. I recall Munnelly adding moreover that the copyright for TWBTV lies with Christy Moore because he recorded it along with Planxty on the LP which bears that ballad's name. I think he added that Moore also included it in a book.

As I said, that is my recollection, and it is of something which happened nearly twenty years ago. So I could very well have got mixed up. I wonder if there's anyone on Mudcat who was there also and could clarify the situation.

BTW. I should have added to my last post that I see nothing wrong at all in somebody copyrighting the accompaniment to a song, whether it be a set of guitar chords or a full orchestral score. Just so long as said person leaves the words and tune where they belong - in the public domain.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Marje
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 12:51 PM

Looking at what's been said so far, Matthew, I think you'll see that the priorities in folk/traditional music are largely to do with proper accreditation rather than legal copyright. (I'm talking about the UK).

A traditional song can't be copyrighted. A new arrangement of a traditional song can, but it might be hard to prove that a particular chord-sequence or harmony line was truly original and not a natural development of the melody. Lyrics are often changed by a singer or arranger,but unless there was something very new and striking in the change, it would be hard to see this as anything other than the "folk process" at work.

Most people who adapt and re-arrange traditional songs are happy for others to continue where they left off and use the changes they've made. If someone writes a whole new song or a new set of lyrics to an old tune, this is new material that they're entitled to protect by copyright if they wish, but in practice many people don't mind much. What they do like (and deserve) is for their contribution to be recognised and accredited by other performers. Even in small, amateur gatherings, it's common to hear people name the composer or arranger of a particular song or version, and it's regarded as bad manners not to know or care who wrote something you sing in public, particularly if its composer is still living and performing.

Oh, and another point you mention: matching up existing sets of words with existing tunes is a time-honoured habit that has gone on for centuries. It's normally regarded as part of the tradition, rather than an original creation.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: sciencegeek
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 01:09 PM

"Oh, and another point you mention: matching up existing sets of words with existing tunes is a time-honoured habit that has gone on for centuries. It's normally regarded as part of the tradition, rather than an original creation.

Marje "

Many a broadside ballad was sung to older tunes.. in fact, I remember Belle Stewart talking about how they would match up a tune to a ballad. Or use piping mouth music to remember a new tune. The meter and tone of the ballad would determine which body of tunes the tune selection came from. Though the warped sense of humor of the hubby would make a game of matching up comic tunes to tragic ballads, etc. I't may not have a happy childhood, but it certainly is a long one. LOL


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Brian Peters
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 01:38 PM

"A traditional song can't be copyrighted. A new arrangement of a traditional song can, but it might be hard to prove that a particular chord-sequence or harmony line was truly original and not a natural development of the melody. Lyrics are often changed by a singer or arranger,but unless there was something very new and striking in the change, it would be hard to see this as anything other than the "folk process" at work."

The point is that, as things stand, we are not asked to prove any such thing - presumably because setting up a panel to judge the degree of originality in every single arrangement of a trad. song that anyone attempted to register, would be impractical. In my own work I've done all kinds of things including mixing phrases from several different trad tunes to make a new one, collating different texts, and writing new verses to make sense of a narrative. And those still come under 'trad. arr' in my book. Obviously it's a grey area in several respects. Is an unaccompanied rendition furnished with all kinds of elaborate vocal ornaments, that no-one had done before, a 'new arrangement'? As far as PRS is concerned, the answer seems to be yes.

I stated that John Reilly was a special case not only because of his personal cirmcumstances and the fact that a share in royalty payments might have made a significant difference to him, but also because his was a unique version of a near-extinct and previously rare ballad. In an ideal world, someone should perhaps have arranged for the copyright to be assigned to him, or given him a share of the spoils. But there are many old songs (possibly written two hundred-odd years ago by an unknown writer for commercial purposes) that were collected from oral tradition in numerous, often quite similar, versions. Who 'owns' those? To whom should a royalty be paid if I exhume a song from the Percy Folio manuscript or the repertoire of Anna Brown, and turn it into something alive? As far as I'm concerned, I did the heavy lifting there, and am happy to copyright my arrangement.

It always used to annoy me when I would encounter the statement that "the people who perform traditional songs are the ones without the talent to write their own". A lot of artistry can go into arranging and interpreting traditional songs, and I don't see why that should be given less kudos than penning the most puerile ditty. If anything, folk revival aritists have leaned too far the other way in the past, with some radical reworkings and completely original tunes going uncredited.

My other question is, where do you think the money would end up if no-one claimed arrangemnet credit?


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: The Sandman
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 02:10 PM

imro and prs are there to protect songwriters, the amount of royalties people get for trad arr, is minute, compared to the royalties for own compositions, unlike some of the experts on this thread, I know because I have been there done it, and got the t shirt etc.
Jim Carroll has done a fine job collecting traditional material , but he has not got a clue about imro prs and modern songwriters.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 02:46 PM

"shouldn't be regarded as a new arrangement."
Get Butter and Cheese from Harry Cox, then get the same song from Sam Larner and you have two arrangements - so in those cases - who do we pay what?
I'm not really talking about what you earn in returns for your work and I am certainly not accusing you or any other artist of being I thief - I am suggesting that you, me or anybody who sings the song or otherwise uses it in any shape or form in whatever manner is part of a long line stretching back centuries, which is why I suggested that the linek between IMRO and PRS is in desperate needs of re-examination and reform in order for the music to survive.
I was quite taken with the information that Dave Bulmer made an effort to do this in Britain and was stonewalled by bureaucracy and hostile indifference.
That, as I understand it, is the case here in Ireland (sort of) (I understand Comhaltas struck a 'ding, ding, I'm in the lifeboat' deal with IMRO a dozen o#r so years ago, covering their own arses but leaving the rest of us to swim for the shore ourselves).
The only thing I would say about artists making any money out of traditional song is, because of the nature and source of the music it presents us with a grey area and I see no objection whatever to asking them to put some of that money back into the music.
Thinking this through, of course this should have no lower limit set on it and should be entirely volunntary.
Just to put all this in context, much of it arose from a discussion of Peter Kennedy's behaviour - he got his elderly and sometimes somewhat unworldly singers to sign contracts giving him the rights of the songs he recorded (and anything they might remember at a later date), he asked them not to sing those songs to anybody else, then whenever anything resembling those songs appeared on albums, on the media or in published collections he sent demands for royalties - a spectacular example of this was a planned series of 10 themed volumes was abandoned after volume 2 because of the prohibitive cost.
I am told that these contracts weren't worth the paper...., but a legal document works wonders, especially when it is issued by somebody with Kennedy's family and professional connections.
If I have offended - sorry.   
"I would like to remind everyone that IMRO, sponsored a song writing competition"
Well done them - and Fasnet - a minuscule return for decades of milking the music dry - might help Fasnet, but does't help the rest of us and doesn't even go near the number of public music venues that have closed in case they send 'the boys' around to collect their share of the door takings (even when there are none).
Have I ever sponsored a singing competition - certainly not; how dare you suggest such a thing.
You well know my view that if you want to kill any artistic endevour involving folk music stone dead you should turn it into a competition.
Folk song is largely a voluntary activity relying heavily on mutual enthusiasm; that is its strength and is what makes it to accessible Dangle a "glittering prizes" carrot in front of the participants and it becomes something else entirely
I do hope our little tete-a-tete ends here; they tend to end in tears and nause it up for everybody else.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Marje
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 03:50 PM

Brian, I see what you're saying and I wouldn't dispute for a minute that a singer who does some work on a song deserves credit.

As I understand it,the PRS money, is supposed to be divvied up pro-rata among those whose copyrighted work is performed in a licensed venue. Royalties payable from public performances or broadcasts or recordings are another matter.

But - to take an example - last night I was at an informal, back-bar singaround with a few friends. Some songs were wholly traditional, but the renditions may well have been influenced by particular arrangements or recordings. Someone sang a Kate Rusby song. Someone sang a song by Ron Angel. I sang one with new words I had put to a trad tune. Someone sang a couple of his own songs. I regularly sing at this venue with a friend, and we do our own harmony arrangements to many traditional songs - new arrangements which I suppose we could copyright, but like most amateurs we haven't done so. Everything I sing myself has been influenced by other sources or arrangements, and everything has been edited or interpreted somewhat, so my particular arrangement is unique and can't be credited to anyone else. (I don't mean that I am unique, I mean that most serious singers do this.)

The composers' names at are usually mentioned at song sessions if they are known. However, in our regular tune sessions at the same pub, some of the tunes have known, living composers, but these are not often alluded to - tunes often seem to lose their link with the composers soon after they're released into the wild, whereas songs seem more personal. But, as at every such event I've ever been to, there has never been any attempt to gather info for the PRS.

I'm not saying this is right, I'm just saying this is what normally happens in British pub sessions and folk clubs.

I think that when someone stands to make money out of a performance or recording, they're much more likely to pay any royalties due (and presumably more likely to be chased up if they don't). But that's a somewhat different issue from the PRS thing, which is scarcely workable in informal musical contexts (see above).

At least that's how it looks to me. Maybe I'm missing something, and I'm always open to further information.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 05:56 PM

The venue should be paying a licence fee to the PRS but if they don't get to know what is performed, and if most of the composers/arrangers aren't members, then little if any of this will find its way back.

The PRS system is based on a much more structured and professional music scene, and as you rightly say it doesn't serve the informal and largely non-professional folk scene very well.

More formal performances, especially festivals, do make returns and folk musicians who are PRS members do get paid.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 07:01 PM

In Ireland, as far as I can see The Irish Musical Rights Organisation (IMRO) does not discriminate between traditional and composed material so anything that is performed in public access venues fall into their net
All our musical sessions (around half dozen per week at the present time) are performed in pubs so every publican pays the fee and passes it on to the customer (often in the form of raised prices of the drinks).
This is a personal assessment - anybody who knows different please put me straight - Peter L seems to know more aabout this sort of thing than anybody else)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 07:24 PM

Forgot to add - virtually ever bar in our one-street town has an IMRO sticker in the window
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Mathew Raymond
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 09:39 PM

Havent had time to read through all of this yet but to clarify some of the posts near the top, I never claimed I wanted royalties to music or anything like that, it was a guest who said that. I wholly respect and admire the folk tradition.

I merely wish to know how the great musicians that I've mentioned were able to make careers off of this music that we all love. My favourite part about folk music is the different spin people put on each song.

(I especially like Sam Carter's version of Jack Hall)

It saddens me that being a folk song collector like Maccoll or Lloyd is no longer a viable lifestyle... or is it?


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Mathew Raymond
Date: 14 Aug 13 - 10:16 PM

The internet connection in the cabin where I am on vacation is very poor and I may have accidentally posted twice with much redundancy, my apologies


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 03:44 AM

"It saddens me that being a folk song collector like Maccoll or Lloyd is no longer a viable lifestyle."
It never really was, certainly not in Britain.
There is no record of Lloyd having collected anything significant, he was a singer, lecturer, broadcaster, writer, journalist... but I've never heard him described to any degree as a collector.
MacColl's 'lifestyle' was based entirely on his work as a singer and songwriter.
Kennedy's career as a collector stretched from 1951 to 1955.
The earlier collectors were all middle-class 'hobbyists' who used their own private incomes
The most long-term collector in these islands was probably Dubliner Tom Munnelly - who was also the most prolific - over 22,000 songs to his credit. Tom was employed as a full-time collector by University College Dublin from 1965 to his death in 2007.
Collecting was summed up perfectly in the title of a book,'Irish Folk Music - a fascinating hobby' by Captain Francis O'Neill'. O'Neill was an Irish/American policeman who, in his spare time was a piper and who assembled one of the most important and influential collections of Irish dance tunes.
Unfortunately folk song has never been taken seriously enough in Britain by the establishment to have been thought as needing a collector - our failure and theirs.
No-one has ever made a fortune out of collecting, the argument is whether the small returns from the results of collecting has been and is being used wisely, and if not, can something be done to re rectify that.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 04:26 AM

as usual only one side of the picture is being seen.
here is another view, the money paid out by imro and prs enables professional musicians to survive financially.
The money paid out by folk clubs and festivals to professional performers does not reflect the quality of their music,the royalties paid out by IMRO,enable performers to just about survive financially on the folk scene, in an ideal world they should be able to do this from music venues only., royalties from songwriting enable many folk performers to keep afloat finacially, this is of benefit to the quality of music on the folk club and festival scene
Jim, you referred to IMRO and PRS as parasites, as usual a sweeping unbalanced view rather like your remark about competitions, PRS differentiates between trad arr and composed material as far as I am aware, IMRO does as well.
   Competitions in my experience do not necessarily kill creativity, as regards the two songwriting competitions that I have organised I have not found this to be the case, in fact i have found the opposite,
firstly the competition was for adults not children[adults are generally mature enough to understand that competition winners are only the subjective opinion of judges], much depends on how the competition is organised, the way that I organise competitions is to make sure there are at least five winners,[and that the five prizes do not differ much finacially] rather than one winner, this generally means more people are satisfied with the result.
NO adult is forced to enter a competition, they enter because they wish to.
next point, IMRO encourage and sponsor song writing workshops as well as competitions, this gives performers the chance to improve, that is a good thing.
The trouble with you Jim, is that you are unable to acknowledge or see anything other than in terms of black or white, when often they are different shades of grey.I see a number of things that can be improved with PRS and IMRO, but I can also see a number of positives.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 04:32 AM

"No-one has ever made a fortune out of collecting,"
That includes Peter Kennedy, Thats is not a defence of him,it is a statement of fact.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 05:56 AM

"That includes Peter Kennedy, Thats is not a defence of him,it is a statement of fact."
He made a comfortable living from looting the proceeds of what he and his all-too-often forgotten fellow collectors gathered in - (Seamus Ennis, Bob Copper, Sean O'Boyle).
I once made the mistake of asking Seamus Ennis about Peter Kennedy and the project - his reply (in a crowded bar in the middle of the Willie Clancy Summer School) was an angry "That man's a thief".
Kennedy even issued a cassette of Seamus playing fiddle, without his knowledge or permission - I think it appeared in his catalogue as 'Pigeon on the Gate'
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 06:15 AM

Regarding the other part of your posting
"enables professional musicians to survive financially."
Not by financially draining the places where they play and making impossible to play publicly without their patrons paying a fee it doesn't.
As far as professional musicians go, getting some sort of living out of folk music is fine - more power to your elbows, but the folk scene is essentially non-professional and made up almost entirely of amateurs.
It is this that gives it its uniqueness, its democracy, its impetus and its importance - it is how every single one of us came into contact with the music. It is a non-professional, self supporting democracy and long may that continue to be the case.
I would have thought you were in favour of public ownership over privatisation as a declared Socialist!
I have never met a professional folkie who is not aware of that fact and does not welcome it as the reason what they do what they do.
If all the professional musicians were to hop into a space ship and sail off to the moon tomorrow the amateur folk scene would continue and, left to their own resources, probably flourish.
To allow organisations that have neither knowledge nor interest in our music to take from the enthusiasts to give to the professionals would be our suicide note.
It is, and must be recognised as primarily a non-professional pursuit otherwise it will be taken from our hands and become a poor relation of the music industry.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 06:46 AM

I think it appeared in his catalogue as 'Pigeon on the Gate'

Music at the Gate (FSA-60-079) recorded by Peter Kennedy, London, 22nd March 1958. Seamus plays fiddle as an intro to The Banks of the Roses (& turns in a cracking rendering of Football Crazy. Also on there is the recording of Captain Wedderburn than lately turned up on the VOTP Kennedy collection Good People, Take Warning (of Kennedy and his ilk presumably).

Another collection in a similar vain (recorded, one presumes, on the same occasion) is Rocking the Cradle (Folktrax FSA-45-169) on which Seamus plays fiddle as an intro to Soldier, Soldier. Details of both are obscure on account of the near-total illegibility of the photocopying on the green paper inserts. Quality items these Folktrax cassettes.

The performances are more than credible, but I've long regarded Seamus Ennis as something of a Traditional Master, not just of the pipes, but as a singer & storyteller too. It seems entirely natural to me that he could play nicely on the fiddle too. IMO, he was obviously aware that Kennedy was recording him as these are far from random field recordings of a drunk (as has been suggested) Seamus unaware of what Kennedy was up to with his microphone and tape machine. On the contrary, they capture a youthful Seamus (aged 39) on top of his game & sober as a judge.

This does not excuse Kennedy's cockroach approach to the music, but he is not, alas, alone in that. Indeed such an approach underwrites the Us 'n' Them nature of The Revival as a whole defining the essentially Bourgeois nature of Folk (in its various forms) unto this very day. The same has been said of everyone from Cecil Sharp to Harry Smith. But such is the very wonky relationship between the would-be Objective Folklorist and their elusive subject - a relationship which we've touched upon on more than one occasion & which still might inspire passions of Tsunami-like proportions.

Without the collectors Folk would never have been willed into existence, but would have remained a natural aspect of Popular Music as it always had been. Once synthesised, however, it soon took on a life, and mythology of its own - veritable cultural phenomenon indeed, outbreaks of which are still recurring to this very day.

And this has what to do with Interpreting Folk Song? I hear you ask. What Phil Edwards & Brian Peters said.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 08:35 AM

.1"If all the professional musicians were to hop into a space ship and sail off to the moon tomorrow the amateur folk scene would continue and, left to their own resources, probably flourish"
.2.Kennedy's career as a collector stretched from 1951 to 1955.
1.I disagree with you there, Jim, I think standards would probably go down.
2 for christ sake get your facts right, he was still collecting in 1958.
Jim, if your only contribution is to make incorrect statements and make insulting remarks about professional musicians, you might be better off writing fairy stories


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 08:48 AM

How do professional folk musicians make a living?

Brian Peters is probably the best one to answer this, but I suspect that for most it is from fees for live performance, teaching, sales of CDs etc rather than from intellectual rights from their compositions or arrangements.

I disagree with Jim about the significance of professionals. My first contact with folk music was not from amateurs, either revival or traditional, but from professional performances on TV and radio, which led me into the largely amateur folk clubs, and very much later into 'authentic' traditional music. The effect professionals have on the amateur scene, through introducing songs and tunes into the wider repertoire, composing tunes and arrangements, and developing and teaching techniques and musical styles should not be underestimated. Of course, good amateurs and semi-professionals contribute to this as well, but their impact is often less widespread. The amateur folk scene would undoubtedly continue without the professionals, but whether it would flourish to the same extent is another matter.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 09:11 AM

"I disagree with you there, Jim, I think standards would probably go down."
As a professional singer you would say that, wouldn't you?
"for christ sake get your facts right, he was still collecting in 1958."
For the man you just said's sake"
The BBC project ended in 1955 which was when Kennedy, Ennis, Copper (not sure of O'Boyle) ceased to be professional collectors
Kennedy may have continued to collect - along with other things, but that ceased to be his career when the project ended.
" insulting remarks about professional musicians"
I did, and do not "insult" any musician, professional or otherwise
If attempting to place people where they stand in the order of things can't be done without being accused of "insulting" them, we may as well close these forums down.
Some professional musicians have been indispensable to the life of our folk scene - some have been pains in the arse who have done more damage than they have done good.
The revival started life and remains an amateur activity, long may that continue to be the case.
Our clubs have always relied almost totally on dedicated enthusiast, not just singers, but dedicated and self-appointed gofers who have oiled the wheels - Vic Smith, who has been around so long he merits a conservation order, Brian Creer, Ted and Ivy Poole, Pat Mackenzie, Don Devine, Bruce Dunnet - these are the people we could never have done without - not the guest who turns up once a year and gets paid for having done so.
And it's the non-professional performers who turn up week-after week - pissing rain or sun cracking the flags, audience of 10 or 100 and make it worthwhile your dragging yourself away from Holby City to be entertained   
This is not to say that some of these professional musicians are not dedicated; we wouldn't be arguing here if it wasn't for the efforts of MacColl and Seeger, Bert Lloyd, Cyril Tawney, Roy Harris, and all the other dedicated people who persuaded us that we didn't need our music pre-processed and packaged, with a price label hanging from it, but were perfectly capable of making our own.
"standards would probably go down" without you people - both arrogant and insulting with a couple of dabs of finger to keyboard.
Go and self-promote yourself somewhere else Dick - I don't believe you.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Marje
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 09:33 AM

Oddly enough we had just such an argument (professionals vs amateurs) this week at the singaround I mentioned above. One singer insisted that he had no interest in attending concerts or clubs to hear paid performers, on the grounds that they were chasing "celebrity" and he preferred the grass-roots stuff that goes on in free sessions, festival fringes etc. He dislikes the very idea of handing over money to hear others perform and of enhancing their "celebrity" status.

The rest of us tried to get him to consider that he might be missing out by never hearing a live performance by some of the great folk singers and musicians of our day, who are working very hard to scrape a living from their art, and are about as far from being "celebrities" as it's possible to be. I consider myself very lucky to have been able to attend live gigs by the likes of John Kirkpatrick, Craig/Morgan/Robson, Pete Coe, Maggie Boyle, the New Rope String Band - oh, and Brian Peters! - in the last couple of years at local venues for a modest admission charge. The person we were trying to convince has no idea what he's missing, and I know he'd have enjoyed most of those I've mentioned, but he simply won't consider attending a paid gig.

I agree absolutely with Howard that there is also a trickle-down effect whereby the professionals disseminate tunes, songs, information and techniques that the rest of us might not have come across by ourselves, so they're continually pumping new material and ideas into circulation amongst the wider folk community.

As to what would happen is all the professional performers were shipped off to the moon, all I can say is keep me a seat as there'll be one helluva session when they get there!

Marje


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Brian Peters
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 10:05 AM

Jim C wrote (yesterday):
"If I have offended - sorry."

If you meant me, Jim, no, I wasn't offended. Just putting the artist's point of view. I happen to agree with both you and Marje that PRS has no business poking its nose into informal sessions and singarounds, and I've never claimed the 'small venue allowance' that was negotiated on our behalf a few years ago, lest I grass up some folk club that operates without a licence.

As far as my own income is concerned, the amount that I earn from royalties on festival appearances, specialist radio, etc., is pretty tiny. I do have some of my instrumental music used by a popular children's cartoon series, and this earns me considerably more than all those rare Child ballads and obscure Northern dance tunes that I've put in so much work on. As Dick says, every little helps when you're trying to sustain a career as a folk musician. Ewan MacColl, of course, did pretty well out of an original composition that made the crossover in to mainstream pop.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 10:20 AM

I do have some of my instrumental music used by a popular children's cartoon series

Can I respectably request an expansion on this, please???


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Brian Peters
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 10:42 AM

Spongebob Squarepants.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 10:54 AM

You know, I've never seen it - but I'll certainly watch it now. Respect. As ever. Looking forward to your All New Penguin Show at the Fylde. Though just my luck it'll clash with one of ours...


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 11:28 AM

Brian
"Ewan MacColl, of course, did pretty well out of an original composition that made the crossover in to mainstream pop"
Yes he did - as did several others, and I'm delighted for all of them
I once heard Ralph McTell say that he did far better out of 'Streets of London' than the homeless ever did.
There really is no problem with this, nor is there a problem with earned fees from the hard work put in by professional in pursuit of their chosen careers.
As for what goes on behind closed doors between professionals and IMRO and PRS - entirely their own business and long as they are all consenting adults.
I am concerned that both organisations have done immeasurable damage by forcing sessions to close in demanding money for music they neither understand or have an interest in.
The greatest source of financial support for traditional music in Ireland has come in the form of grants from Arts and Heritage groups who have played a vital part in bringing thousands of youngsters to the music - it is no accident that when the Irish Traditional Music Archive was launched way back when, it was opened by the then President of Ireland, Mary Robinson. When it changed premises a few years ago, the Arts Minister John Donoghue officiated
On the one side we have an arts establishment which has finally been won over to willingly financing traditional music, on the other, a music-tax organisation taking money out and closing venues in the process.
My gripes aren't aimed at people like yourself who earn your money from the sweat of your mandolins, but those who have historically ponced and parasited on what is essentially (as the man put it) a "fascinating hobby"
Professionalism/amateurism only become factors when the needs of one adversely impinge on the other.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Mathew Raymond
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 12:45 PM

"As to what would happen is all the professional performers were shipped off to the moon, all I can say is keep me a seat as there'll be one helluva session when they get there!"

haha couldn't agree more!

But as far as Lloyd goes, I thought he spent some time collecting in Australia, which led to his publishing of the album "Australian bush songs"?


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 01:04 PM

"I thought he spent some time collecting in Australia, which led to his publishing of the album "Australian bush songs"
A mootish point - there are those who have questioned this, but if he did it was when he was a shearer, certainly not a professional collector.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 01:22 PM

as a professional musician ,I will give some examples,sometime around 1985, I played Sidmouth folk festival, folk on 2 were recording in the beach hut, I sang 3 songs that were ecorded on folk on 2, in the interest of musical balance i sang 2 trad songs and one original composition, for my own composition i received 100 pounds royalties[ this was in 1985], for the 2 trad arr songs i received about 5 each. if i had benn money orientated i would have sung 3 of my own compstions and received 300. BrianPeters is a singer who sings mainly trad material, for a singer song writer it is completely different, as it is for someone like myself who sings both.
for the record I never fill in live performances at small folk clubs, but for radio performance i certainly do, and when requested by festivals i fill in prs sheets.
as i have said i have criticisms of prs and imro, but it needs to be taken into consideration what these organisations do with their royalties, they do put some of it back into promoting creativity via workshops etc, in my opinion not enough and too much is spent on bureaucratic adminstration and glossy brochures, i would be happier if they gave more money to promoting workshops etc and more money to the people who do the creative work ...the songwriters.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: GUEST,just visited
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 02:32 PM

Would it be possible for the moderator of this site to convert the messages by Jim Carroll and Good Soldier Schweik into something resembling common English usage, please, and also into clearly separated sentences and paragraphs?

Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 04:59 PM

Guest
"....something resembling common English usage, "please, and also into clearly separated sentences and paragraphs?"
This is a fairly easy-going site - nobody is asked to sit a literary examination in order to contribute.
I didn't think I was doing too bad for a septuagenarian, Liverpudlian, retired electrician with only a crappy Secondary Modern Education under my belt - Dick can speak for himself.
If you want to complain about my literary skills - report me to a moderator
If you try to neutralise what I have to say again by whinging about my lack of literacy skills I'll report to to one - oh, I forget, there would be no point our doing either - you're only a guest here.
Please have the courtesy and good grace to remember that fact.
If you can't keep up with what is being said, try harder or butt out.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Aug 13 - 05:35 PM

guest, just visited, some advice from judy garland,Always be a first rate version of yourself, and not a second rate version of someone else.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 01:42 PM

the above comment applies to interpeting folk song, too, rule number one never sing a song you do not like, make people like your performance, never ask an audience what shall i sing.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Vic Smith
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 04:18 PM

Jim Carroll wrote:-
"Vic Smith, who has been around so long he merits a conservation order,"


Come off it! I've only been running a weekly folk club for 47 years.* It's not that long.

* Though come to think of it, I did run a college folk club before that.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 06:32 PM

The aphorism from Judy Garland that Good Soldier Schweik mentions above reminds me:

George Gershwin always felt a bit insecure about his composing skills, especially orchestration. Despite having great success with works like "Porgy and Bess" (once regarded as a "musical," but recent consensus is that it's a full-blown opera, even if it is in English rather than some European language), "An American in Paris," and "Rhapsody in Blue."

He had studied with Nadia Boulanger, and then decided he wanted further study with Maurice Ravel. After Ravel listened to some of Gershwin's music, he told him, "Other than a few details of orchestration, there is little I can teach you. As far as composition is concerned, the best I could do is to turn you into second-rate Ravel. And you are already first rate Gershwin!"

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Aug 13 - 09:39 PM

The essence of interpreting traditional folk song, imo, is to listen to traditional source singers and to listen to revival singers who sing traditional songs, be influenced by these singers but develop your own style.
if you wish to interpret contemporary folk songs,I would suggest doing as above but also listen   to macColl , mctell, dylan, rosselson,peter bond, bill caddick.ann lister
writing contemporary folk songs is a different ball game,this is where song writing workshops,can become useful whether the workshop facilatators be IMRO PRS or anyone else.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 03:53 AM

Lovely story Don - does much to put 'Rhapsody in Blue' into context.
"I've only been running a weekly folk club for 47 years"
Seems like only yesterday, doesn't it Vic? - good days!
We still have your address somewhere dating back to when Pat was arranging tours for performers at The Singers Club.
I assume you sing - never had the pleasure, but I've often admired those who don't, but have dedicated their time and efforts to running clubs, and wondered what talents we've missed.
I remember the lovely Joy Ashworth, who blew the noses and wiped the bums at the 'Grey Cock' in Birmingham for many years .
One night we visited and were surprised when she stood up and told a story magnificently. I understand she also sang - would love to have heard her.
It was these people who were the unsung heroes of the folk scene.   
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 09:51 AM

I agree with quite a lot of Jim Carrolls comments, Ithink there is room for improvement with the way IMRO GO ABOUT COLLECTING ROYALTIES AND DISTRIBUTING THEM,
I do not think it is fair to call them parasites, they are there to protect the creativity of song writers, that is in my opinion a good thing, much as unions are there to protect the rights and working conditions of ordinary people, sometimes union leaders make mistakes, sometimes they are reporting back to mi5 on union meetings,[joe gormley ray buckton]sometimes they strike mistakenly, but that does not mean that they should be got rid of.
jim calls them parsites but does not suggest any alternative,apart from the ridculous suggestion of shipping off profesional folk perfomers my own opinion is that folk clubs should be exempt from paying out live performance if the attence is less than 100 people, and should be exempt on singers night where evrybody is amateur in the financial sense of the word, likewise non guest singers clubs and irish trad tune sessions.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 10:08 AM

No - no- no!!!
The relationship between you as a performer and any music rights organisation is entirely your own business - nothing to do with anybody here, and has no part in this discussion
Exempting folk clubs does not even approach the problem.
Ireland has no 'folk' scene to speak of - overwhelmingly the venues for our music here are pubs, bars, hotels - public access buildings - it is these that are affected by IMRO highway robbery, these that pay a fine for allowing music to be played on their premises, and these who have and will continue to kick musicians out on their arses when they decide that they don't want to pay the fines.
Even exempting the tolls for folk clubs in the UK doesn't even begin to address the problems
They are not even begin to consider relaxing their grip on the music; even Bulmer's failed efforts showed that.
Only a complete re-assessment of how folk music is regarded and treated will do that treatment, and that should be the jobs of our sometimes so-called representatives; EFDSS, CCE, et al.
Good luck without sorting your own marriages with these organisations, if you ever manage to sort them out please let the rest of them know which marriage guidance Councillor you used
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 10:19 AM

About the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO)

IMRO is a national organisation that administers the performing right in copyright music in Ireland on behalf of its members - who are songwriters, composers and music publishers ? and on behalf of the songwriters, composers and music publishers of the international overseas societies that are affiliated to it. IMRO does not represent the interests of record labels. Their interests in Ireland are administered by Phonographic Performance Ireland (PPI) and their representative trade body is The Irish Recorded Music Association (IRMA).   IMRO's function is to collect and distribute royalties arising from the public performance of copyright works. IMRO is a not-for-profit organisation.

Music users such as broadcasters, venues and businesses must pay for their use of copyright music by way of a blanket licence fee. IMRO collects these monies and distributes them to the songwriters, composers and music publishers who created the songs. The monies earned by copyright owners in this way are known as public performance royalties.

IMRO is also prominently involved in the sponsorship and promotion of music in Ireland. Every year it sponsors a large number of song contests, music festivals, seminars, workshops, research projects and showcase performances. Indeed, IMRO is now synonymous with helping to showcase emerging talent in Ireland.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Stringsinger
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 10:39 AM

I maintain that professional "folk singing" is a branch of show business. Those who are successful in this generally have developed some sort of musical skill and presentational approach such as being actors or dancers in addition to musicians, some better players on their instruments than others.

The traditional approach to folksinging had never used show business skills as a marker for it's value. Basically, this is documentary material. Some traditional singers have more show biz savvy than others but I don't see this as a requirement for being a "successful" traditional singer.

The traditional approach to folk music has become an interest for a narrow demographic of enthusiasts, myself included. It impinges on ethnomusicology, anthropology and generally academic scalp collecting. It has an important function as an index to sociology and understanding sub-cultures. Folk song collecting is a documentary approach.

Some trad folk singers can cross over into show biz. But then they take on the attributes of professional performers in show biz. Often, academically oriented folklorists and collectors don't consider the versatility of trad folk singers important. Doc Watson limited his guitar playing to acoustic flatpicking when he was an accomplished country performer on electric guitar. Lightning Hopkins became an acoustic player to accommodate the so-called "traddies". There was a pressure here to remold these performers into "folkie acceptable".

The contradiction occurs when Pete Seeger plays ninths and thirteenth chords on the banjo with jazz influences and no one cares accept the die-hard academics who want banjo playing to sound like the early recordings of the twenties despite Cecil Sharp's admonition that the banjo "bowdlerized" folk song.

The "traddie" approach to folk music has somehow become a tributary, a branch of show business. As with certain aficionados in the world of classical music, the traditional approach to collecting and performing has had "snob" appeal for some. This has lead to some confusion about folk music and its relationship to sub-cultures over the world.

Folk music, as a valuable asset in providing sociological and historical information about cultures can be an artistic springboard for other forms of music. In a sense, that's what happened in the "Great Folk Scare" of the Sixties. In the group I was in, The Weavers,
only Lee Hays represented an association with a rural folk sub-culture. Nonetheless,
the purpose they served predated the influence of the Kingston Trio or Peter Paul and Mary as a catalyst for the interest in traditional folk music.

As music becomes more diversified, and branches begin to overlap, it's confusing for people to sort out the backgrounds and history of specific styles of music. Eventually,
for it to be acceptable to a large audience, elements of show business must be there.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 12:15 PM

So does it matter whether or not you want to be a Star, or whether you just like singing? I hope there's room in Folk for both, since some seem to want the first, rather than the second.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 12:34 PM

in my opinion ,the most important thing is to enjoy singing. if you do it will shine through in your interpretation of a song, it is of course possible to enjoy singing and to be entertaining in ones presentation, roy harris springs into my mind.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Aug 13 - 06:40 PM

Till relatively recently the way musicians have made any money (and most of the time, not much) whether they are doing it for a living or topping up their earnings, has been by performing, and maybe by selling reproductione of them performing, in print or recordings.

The idea of getting money for other people performing work you originated, in your absence is relatively new, at least in our kind of music, and is basically not consistent with a culture of people making music together and informally. By now I suppose it's bedded in and can't readily be reversed.   But we should recognise that it is destructive.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 04:00 AM

"other people performing work you originated, in your absence is relatively new"
Mmmm??
It's my opinion, disputed by some, that most of the traditional songs printed on broadsides were taken from singers and were printed and sold.
I have no doubt that the opposite was the case and that broadside compositions were taken and passed into the tradition.
We recorded a Traveller ballad seller who, in the 1930s/40s was taking songs sung by family members and other Travellers, singing them over the counter (or writing them down) for a printer and selling them at the fairs and markets in rural Kerry.
It was a common practice and a long-established way of earning money for the family - the songs are still referred to all over Ireland as 'ballads' and we have never met an older singer who hasn't learned at least one of them.
I believe that the bitterness arose when somebody ((mentioning no names to avoid dragging an argument from another thread into this) hung a price-tag on songs collected from Traditional singers, claimed them as their own and began to charge for their use - which is what this thread has come to be about.
I earlier compared the copyrighting of 'arrangements' of folk songs to what happens in other types of music.
Peggy Seeger once wrote a song on the Viet-Nam war for a stage production and printed it in a booklet along with others from the show. She was forced to slice the song from the booklet when she was legally advised that it was too close to the Beatles tune that had inspired hers.
If that ownership of musical creations had been applied to traditional material we would never have had a tradition.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 09:26 AM

That's the kind of thing I meant by 'reproductions...in print'.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Stringsinger
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 12:36 PM

Many traditional songs started as popular songs written for money. Some were in musical shows, theatrical presentations or played in band concerts. Today, licensing organizations are jealously guarding their "intellectual property" and even today music
played at farmer's markets for musician's tips are being targeted by ASCAP in California, as well as Girl Scout Campfires.

OTOH Dylan and Guthrie used many tunes taken from tradition for their lyrics. Some have called it piracy but I think of it as being the folk tradition.

Sometimes the traditional singer overlaps with the professional performer who makes money at it. Uncle Dave Macon would be an example. A.P. Carter rewrote many traditional tunes or just claimed them for money. Jimmie Rodgers, the Carter Family,
and many of the tradition-based early country music performers did the same thing.

You can take a traditional tune, copyright it, usually with a different set of lyrics ie:
"The World's on Fire" to "This Land Is Your Land" but if someone decides to write those melodies with a different set of lyrics, those lyrics should be able to hold up in a court suit as original. Woody's tunes were copyrighted by Ludlow Music, BMI in New York City by Howie Richmond. Woody claimed ownership (rather did Ludlow Music) of a tradtional "Buffalo Skinners" setting the traditional lyrics to another tune other than found in Carl Sandburg's "American Songbag" from the 20's. Dylan made a lot of money appropriating traditional tunes. Stealing tunes

Peggy should never had been shut out by music moguls. If she had lots of money,
she could have fought it in court.

The stealing of tunes and ideas is an important part of the folk process. OTOH if someone decided to write a lyric based on Jerome Kern's "All The Things You Are",
this becomes problematic because the tune has entirely originated with the composer.
However, a parody or bowdlerization of the tune with new lyrics could fit in with the notion of the folk process.

There has to be a rewritten copyright law to allow for changes to be made in existing
songs that are claimed by lyricists and composers. Adaptations are copyrightable
but would you call "Masters of War" or "Don't Think Twice" an adaptation? They both are based on antecedent melodies. Stealing a lyric is not OK but stealing a tune is?

What about stealing story-themes?

It's very complex because there is sometimes a lot of money involved. There is little consistency in copyright law however.

Folk singers who change things need a good lawyer today.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 02:01 PM

Nothing wrong with changing the words of a song if you can't call the original words to mind, or if you think they need changing. And that goes for tunes with a known composer as well as traditional ones.

Basically the idea you own a song just because you wrote it is wrong, any more than you own a sentence you have spoken.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: John P
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 05:07 PM

McGrath of Harlow,
I agree that folks should feel free to change words and melodies to suit their style, sensibilities, or memory. But I think the ownership should stay with the original composer. There is a huge difference between a writing a song and speaking a sentence. Are you saying that people who write books shouldn't own the copyright to the book? What about computer programs, paintings, inventions, and TV scripts? Perhaps I'm misunderstanding you, but you seem to be saying that professional songwriters shouldn't get paid for pursuing their profession.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 06:15 PM

"But I think the ownership should stay with the original composer"
Here in Mitown Malbay on the West Coast of Ireland we have a large (I know of over 50) songs that were composed during the lives of the singers who gave them to us or told us about them and, because of their local subjects they never travelled beyond far out of the community.
One of the common features of virtually all of them is that they are anonymous - the 'makers' were not interested in selling them, nor did they ever dream of doing so.
That is why they became 'traditional' - they passed into public ownership should anybody have wished to sing them and those who took them up dis what they wished with them.
Of course modern-day composers should be paid for performing them if that's what they wish to do.
They may wish to sell the right to record them to others - also if that's what they wish to do.
They could, and should claim payment for them should they become 'hits', or insist on a share of the profits going to a specified charity, organisation - etc.
I do believe that the automatic claim for payment of a new song goes against everything I experienced during the time I have been involved in folk-song.
MacColl was the most skillful and prolific singer I ever met.
I never once knew of his refusing a song of his to another singer and I never knew him to ask for payment for general use.
I actually sang a number of his songs after first hearing them, before they appeared outside the Singers Club - he laughingly said one night at a Critics Group meeting that members of the Group were singing his songs, as soon "as they went down on paper; almost before I get a chance to sing them".
I know he was delighted, as we all were when First Time Ever became a hit - it certainly changed his life, though not his attitude - one outcome was the setting up of Blackthorn Records.
Peggy once gave me recordings of versions of around a dozen that had appeared on various albums, some by well-known popular (not necessarily 'folk' performers - she said that Ewan was always wryly amused that they had never been paid for over half of them.
Incidentally, he also told us that several of his plays were still being performed in various parts of Europe without a penny in royalties
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: GUEST,eldergirl
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 06:50 PM

Someone I know was chuffed to bits to hear that a song of hers had been taken up and was being sung 'out' by at least 2 other people. ( both people made sure to give her credit.) She's now recording a CD so maybe will earn a little something back. But, her main delight was the possibility of entering the tradition. Not sure how many of today's crop come in with that attitude. Hopefully more than I think, cynical me.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Aug 13 - 07:39 PM

Basically I do think that once a song has been sung in public it ceases to be private property, so far other people just singing it is concerned. If other people make money by recording it or broadcasting it, or in performances where they are paid big money some of the money should come back to the originator.


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Will Fly
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 04:04 AM

The relationship between the concepts of "professional" and "amateur" is an interesting and complex one - and the line drawn between them is, in my view, a long and very grey one.

There are those souls who set off early in life with a definite intention to make their living from music - which takes guts, determination, intelligence, a certain amount of ruthlessness, business sense, luck and some talent of sorts. Successful exemplars of this in the 1960s were Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, who used the folk scene of the time as a good stepping stone. And then there were hundreds of others with varying degrees of all those talents and opportunities who more or less made a living, or part of a living or no living at all. "Let's start and band!" "Yes, lets's!" "Let's make a record!" "Wow, let's!" - etc....

At the supposed other end of this scale are those whose sole intention is to make music for its own sake, regardless of and impervious to, the lure of money. The staple diet of the folk scene, mainly.

But it's not so simple. There you are, playing in a pub with friends, minding your own business, enjoying the music - and someone comes up afterwards and says - as it might be - "I have a band - fancy joining it and doing some paid gigs?" Or, "I'm an agent - I can get you some pub entertainment work if you fancy it." Or even - yes even - "I run such-and-such folk club - would you like a guest spot?"

Whether the answer to these questions is a definite "yes" or a "no" or moments of indecision - it's a defining moment, and the so-called barriers between being "professional", "semi-professional" or "amateur" blur. I'm using "professional" here, by the way, purely as a marker of whether one makes one's living financially from being so - not as a definition of musical skill. Many so-called amateur musicians have musical skills that would make a professional envious.

So - you play a bit, have a day job, play a bit more, make the odd record, do a bit of teaching, get on the local radio, keep up the day job - and so on. In my own case I've done all sorts, including making a living purely from playing - many years ago, by the way, and playing 1950s rock'n roll, not folk music...


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 06:20 AM

"But, her main delight was the possibility of entering the tradition."
Without wishing to prod a sleeping dog into wakefulness, I never heard either Ewan nor Peggy make such a claim about 'First Time Ever' - I always thought that they both believed that 'the tradition' has little to do with mere repetition.
It's far less likely to happen now anyway as I heard (maybe erroneously) that the rights to the song had been sold off and were now part of the Michael Jackson Estate.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Interpreting Folk Song
From: Will Fly
Date: 19 Aug 13 - 09:37 AM

10,000 YEARS OF SING! SING!

It was 10pm on a wet, rainy night, and I was sprawled on the Chesterfield, sipping on a 5th - I usually preferred 4ths but for some reason this evening, I'd poured a 5th - when the telephone suddenly rang.

"Hallo - is that Will Fly?"

I recognised the rasp in the voice - it belonged to Vic "Scotch" Smithinsky, the hard-bitten proprietor of the Oak, a downtown folk joint with connections to the Mob. You know the kind of place - an innocent singaround out front but go through the back door and - pow! - Pro Folk entertainment flagrantly flaunting the Pro Folk Prohibition laws.

"This is Will," I replied, "what can I do for you, Vic?"

"I've got a gig for you if you want it," came the reply, "next Saturday night. Can ya make it?"

A needle of disquiet pricked me momentarily, but I ignored it. "Next Saturday? I thought you'd got Peters for that one?"

"He's pulled out," said Smithinsky, " - circumstances?"

"Peters has pulled out!" I ejaculated, "Why, in heaven's name?"

"Cold feet," sighed Vic, "he just can't take it any more - not for any money."

I moment of hesitation, then I gave in. I needed the dough. "OK Vic, I'll do it. What's the grift?"

"The usual - 2 45-minute sets, a percentage of the take, and any dame who takes a shine to your capo. Are we in business?"

"We're in business."

"Good. Be there at eight - and don't be late." He hung up. I put down the phone and took my secret gig diary from its hiding place in the bureau. I was writing the gig details in the yellow, onionskin pages when there was an unexpected squawk from the front door buzzer. Who could it be at that time of night. I quickly slipped the diary under a cushion and and opened the door a fraction - as I thought.

Too late. It was pushed open with some force and there, framed in the doorway with two of his goons stood, store burly, Irish Jim O'Carrollan, Senior Captain in the local Folk Enforcement Division - known as the Feds. He smiled grimly at me. "You're busted, Fly!"

I looked hurriedly down but everything seemed in order. "C-Captain O'Carrollan," I stammered, "what brings you here?"

"Don't mess with me Fly", he grunted. "We've had your 'phone tapped for days. We heard you take a paying gig at Vic's place - and we got it taped."

I went white. "But Jim - Captain - ", I pleaded, "cut me some slack - all I'm trying to do is make a buck - ."

"It won't wash, Fly - not with your record (which I hear isn't selling very well). You know the Professional Prohibition law in this burg as well as I do. It's the Moon for you - and ten years in the Singaround!"

I sank to the floor in despair. "No - not - not the Singaround. Please Jim - I'll do anything - I'll even give you Kirkpatrick's gig list."

O'Carrollan shook his head. "No dice - we can take Kirkpatrick any time we want to - without your help. " He turned to the two Feds by his side. "Cuff him boys - and put him in the buggy - and give his Martin to a charity shop!"

+++++++++++++++++++++++

Any resemblance to people living or dead in this story is bleeding obvious - so apologies all round.


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