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Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?

Steve Shaw 14 Oct 13 - 05:56 PM
Lighter 14 Oct 13 - 07:57 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 15 Oct 13 - 04:21 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Oct 13 - 05:00 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 15 Oct 13 - 05:51 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Oct 13 - 06:13 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 15 Oct 13 - 06:45 AM
Will Fly 15 Oct 13 - 07:08 AM
Will Fly 15 Oct 13 - 07:10 AM
Mr Happy 15 Oct 13 - 07:20 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Oct 13 - 08:02 AM
GUEST,Phil E 15 Oct 13 - 08:25 AM
Will Fly 15 Oct 13 - 09:09 AM
Suzy Sock Puppet 15 Oct 13 - 09:43 AM
Dave the Gnome 15 Oct 13 - 09:53 AM
Suzy Sock Puppet 15 Oct 13 - 10:21 AM
Mr Happy 15 Oct 13 - 10:46 AM
Lighter 15 Oct 13 - 11:11 AM
Jim Carroll 15 Oct 13 - 11:17 AM
GUEST,CS 15 Oct 13 - 11:18 AM
Will Fly 15 Oct 13 - 11:21 AM
Lighter 15 Oct 13 - 11:23 AM
GUEST,CS 15 Oct 13 - 11:24 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 15 Oct 13 - 11:53 AM
Suzy Sock Puppet 15 Oct 13 - 11:57 AM
The Sandman 15 Oct 13 - 11:58 AM
The Sandman 15 Oct 13 - 12:04 PM
Lighter 15 Oct 13 - 12:38 PM
Suzy Sock Puppet 15 Oct 13 - 12:51 PM
Suzy Sock Puppet 15 Oct 13 - 01:15 PM
Jim Carroll 15 Oct 13 - 01:17 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 15 Oct 13 - 01:18 PM
Lighter 15 Oct 13 - 03:02 PM
Lighter 15 Oct 13 - 03:03 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 15 Oct 13 - 03:28 PM
The Sandman 15 Oct 13 - 04:05 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 15 Oct 13 - 04:07 PM
Suzy Sock Puppet 15 Oct 13 - 04:08 PM
The Sandman 15 Oct 13 - 05:13 PM
Steve Shaw 15 Oct 13 - 06:41 PM
Phil Edwards 15 Oct 13 - 07:10 PM
GUEST,big al whittle 16 Oct 13 - 01:50 AM
Will Fly 16 Oct 13 - 03:20 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 16 Oct 13 - 03:49 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Oct 13 - 03:52 AM
Phil Edwards 16 Oct 13 - 04:14 AM
Dave the Gnome 16 Oct 13 - 05:02 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 16 Oct 13 - 05:23 AM
Dave the Gnome 16 Oct 13 - 06:07 AM
GUEST,Blandiver 16 Oct 13 - 06:21 AM
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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 14 Oct 13 - 05:56 PM

...unlike the English clubs were you couldn't throw a stone without hitting a Carthy copier, Bellamy bleater or Joanie Clone, failing that, a Watersons type mini-choir.

Bejaysus, Jim, you hit the nail right on the head there (I could be curmudgeonly and suggest that you omitted "Dylan whiner..."). OK, stereotypes to an extent, but not without substance, and, in every case, with a strong dash of self-regarding that I've seldom come across in anything resembling Irish sessions (you have to understand that, here in Cornwall, we can only do stuff that resembles Irish sessions!)


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Lighter
Date: 14 Oct 13 - 07:57 PM

> 'Shoals of Herring' has a Roud number, as does Jimmy Rodgers' 'Away Out on the Mountain'

A fragment of "Shoals of Herring," at least, was collected (naively) by H. P. Beck as a traditional song from an Irish singer who, apparently, hadn't learned it from a record. Beck wasn't infallible, and neither was his fisherman singer who knew only part of the song.

Nor has anyone suggested that Steve Roud is infallible.

Even if he *has* done some of the most important work in folk/trad scholarship of the past 50 years.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 04:21 AM

It's not the fallibility of Steve Roud I'm on about - I have a number of his books & regard him with typically cringing respect - rather the notions that underlie 'The Tradition', or what makes one person 'A Traditional Singer' and another person not, especially in a 20th / 21st century post-revival context. I do allow that lots of genuinely traditional material has gone 'uncollected' (Sam Lee is doing much good work in this respect) but extending that to random utterances of psuedo-folk songs such as 'Shoals of Herring' seems a tad precious.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 05:00 AM

"psuedo-folk songs such as 'Shoals of Herring' seems a tad precious."
Yet you have persistently argued for other songs being 'traditional' because they have been re-iterated in different versions - whence the difference?
Shoals of Herring, Freeborn Man, Dirty Old Town.... and others have undergone some sort of process that, if stretched to its extreme limit, might be described as "traditional", particularly among Travellers whose song traditions were still a part of a centuries old continuum right into the mid-1970s.
You appear once again to be wanting to have your cake and eat it.
MacColl was quite positive in denying that any of his songs were traditional, they weren't made by the people who were in the position to make them traditional, the 'Universal Fisherman, Miner, Traveller, Navvy...., ran counter to the way traditional songs were composed, modern technology reacted against the changes that had taken place in the older songs creating multiple version, and copyright laws prevent them from ever becoming the property of anybody other than the original and firmly identified composer.
Sorry - I agree with an earlier remark made earlier about discussions on definition, which have been made pointless by the permanent insistence that such discussions are "police-folking" and "rule-book waving".
I do believe that folk song will never be taken seriously by the people who can 'make it happen' until those involved get their act together and overcome this odd fetish, but definition is not what is being discussed here and attempts to do so is quite likely to send this thread into yet another destructive exercise in tail chasing.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 05:51 AM

I have argued that all music is born from traditional process, and all idioms are traditional by definition which is a different thing. The psuedo folk song is written at some remove from The Tradition in mimicry of an idiom in order (generally) to prove a point - social, political or otherwise. Not wishing to complicate matters, it seems there is a long tradition of writing psuedo folk songs - hell, even Henry Purcell was at it in King Arthur with 'Your Hay it is Mow'd & Your Corn is Reap'd'!


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 06:13 AM

"The psuedo folk song is written at some remove from The Tradition in mimicry of an idiom in order (generally) to prove a point"
Many traditional songs were written to prove a point - the earliest printed songs, in Latin and English were political.
A pseudo traditional song is only pseudo if its maker claims it as traditional
You have claimed many songs that are not tradition as being folk-songs
Are you a pseud, I ask myself?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 06:45 AM

Are you a pseud, I ask myself?

Again with the personal there, Jim. Just stick to the subject, eh? It's certainly more interesting than I am - or getting cheap jibes in against me.

A psuedo traditional song is a song that mimics the idiom of traditional folk song; we've all written them & we all sing them. Every year at Fylde Festival we do a wee show where we set the psuedo-folk songs of Ron Baxter who's written some belters, but that's FOLK for you - not TRADITION. Kipling likewise; and Peter Bellamy, of course, who wrote quite happily in his 'Traditional Idiom' and coughed up some classic songs & melodies as a result. He's not alone in that.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Will Fly
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 07:08 AM

The original proposition in this thread is an assumption that something has gone wrong because English traditional music isn't at the forefront of peoples' consciousness - i.e. piped into airports, supermarkets, shops, tourist information bureaus. etc. - in the mainstream (whatever that is).

Well, "wrongness" or "rightness" can only be measured against a known target or a defined aim or an agreed set of standards. What target, aim or standards set would we agree for English traditional music (gawd 'elp us!) without the dreaded Definition rearing its ugly little head - and how would we measure how far along the road we'd travelled to gauge any "success" or "failure"? English Folk Music's 5-year Plan, eh?

I've been in the music game for nearly 50 years - sometimes for money and sometimes for free - and every single type of music I've played in all that time, whether solo, in a duo, trio or larger outfit, has been a minority music at the time I played it. Mainstream jazz in the late '70s/early '80s - 1950s rock'n roll in the '80s & '90s - Memphis and New Orleans Funk from the '90s to the mid-2000s. I currently play in a ceilidh band and also in a jazz duo doing stuff from the 1930s. And all through this time, I've dipped in and out of folk clubs and sessions, remembering where it started in a practical fashion for me all those years ago. Why did I choose the various kinds of music that I've played over the years? Because I liked it - because it hit the spot at the time and still does so, from time to time, today. No other reason. It's been largely minority interest music, away from the charts, only on national radio or TV on rare occasions - I never gave a flying fuck one way or the other about its national profile, and still don't - I just loved it and loved playing it for what it was.

Jim - just a word or two on the analogy you use (quite a bit here) of wanting music to be "what it says on the tin". Well, I can see the logic in all of that, particularly when one is paying for X and gets Y - but I'm sure you know as well as I do that music is not tins of beans (unless it's "canned" music, of course - groan…). And the difficulty - for me - of slavish attention to packaging and canning and labelling with a "commodity" like music is that music is a slippery and shape-shifting thing. The morphing from one style to another is what it does when we aren't looking. I happen to like that. Which is why, for example, the sound of Hamish Moore and Dick Lee weaving jazz phrases around "Staten Island" - on two high whistles in D - before sliding into bass clarinet riffs with table accompaniment, is utterly magical. To me.

Where would that fit into the 5-year plan, I wonder...


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Will Fly
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 07:10 AM

Ahem - I've never played a "table", but could probably play a "tabla".


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 07:20 AM

How long after the first songs & melodies were composed did they become Traditional Music?


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 08:02 AM

"Again with the personal there, Jim. Just stick to the subject, eh?"
You are the one referring to "pseud" songs - just picking up your drift.
Certainly songs like 'Herring" and 'Freeborn Man' don't mimic anything and they don't pretend to be anything other than they are - they are easily distinguishable from traditional forms for the reasons mentioned - that others might claim them as traditional is, I have no doubt, not an attempt to pretend anything, just a mistaken interpretation of tradition - "pseud" doesn't come into it from either point of view.
MacColl's song were unique, but because he was a skilled songwriter (which he undoubtedly was) but because he drew his inspiration directly from the language of the people who were the subject of the songs.
If you go through the MacColl/Seeger/Parker actuality recordings you will instantly be able to identify where the individual songs came from - Shoals of herring, Sam Larner and Ronnie Balls; Moving on Song, Belle Stewart and Minty Smith; Dark the Night - Sylvester Boswell; The Big Hewer - Jack Elliot and Ben Sunshine; Shellback - Ben Bright...... all available for checking in Ruskin College and Birmingham Central Library for those who would raise their bums from their armchairs.
MacColl's uniqueness was his respect for working people as creators of great art, his love and understanding of vernacular speech, and his skill in using that speech in his own creations - no pretence, no copying - no pseud - just a desire to draw attention to the artistic skills of working people and their creative abilities.
If my arguments are personal, I wouldn't know how to begin to describe those who would denigrate the unchallenged work of a composer who has now been dead for a quarter of a century.
All this aside, Will is right; this is an unnecessary diversion and has no place here.
"I've never played a "table","
You've obviously never sat next to a prat with a couple of pennies nausing up a great music session with his death-rattle.
"How long after the first songs & melodies were composed did they become Traditional Music? "
Age has nothing to do with definition - we were recording traditionally processed songs in the West of Ireland which were made well within the lifetimes of the singers and Travellers were still composing them in the 1970s, and may well still be.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: GUEST,Phil E
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 08:25 AM

"every single type of music I've played in all that time, whether solo, in a duo, trio or larger outfit, has been a minority music at the time I played it."

Most people would have taken a hint by now!


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Will Fly
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 09:09 AM

Ah, Phil - we should never bow to popular opinion! Always do what you feel is right for you - well... as far as music is concerned anyway, and bugger the nay-sayers.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Suzy Sock Puppet
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 09:43 AM

Anyone who has never played a table (or a paint can for that matter) is likely not much of a percussionist.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 09:53 AM

Trouble is, Suzy, most people who HAVE played tables (and paint cans) are not percussionists either :-(

:D


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Suzy Sock Puppet
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 10:21 AM

Oooh, now that's what I call a snappy comeback :-)


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 10:46 AM

How long after the first songs & melodies were composed did they become Traditional Music?

I'm after a specific definition of TM


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 11:11 AM

"Music that is typically passed on from person to person, performed in a long-established manner, and usually exists in distinctive textual or melodic variants."

My two bloody cents. Now nail down "long-established" and "distinctive."


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 11:17 AM

"Trouble is, Suzy, most people who HAVE played tables (and paint cans)"
Not paint cans or tables, but have any of you fellers ever listened to the wonderfully melodic steel drummers (oil drums) at the Notting Hill Carnival or listened to the beautiful rhythms produced by the Parchman convicts chopping wood on the Lomax recordings?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 11:18 AM

Tradition is generally the handing down of aspects of culture, most usually from one generation to the next. I guess really anything that has been inherited from ones forebears, is traditional, it just depends on scope as to how significant collectors and other academics rank said traditions?

I think Blandiver is quite logical where his arguments about what is and is not 'traditional' are concerned, for example take rap which must by virtue of it's long-lived embrace and transmission by an increasing diversity of cultures, very definitely represent a distinct form of traditional music by now.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Will Fly
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 11:21 AM

Yes Jim - the Lomax recordings are great.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 11:23 AM

BTW, other quite compatible definitions exist.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 11:24 AM

PS by 'long-lived' I mean that in a contemporary context where popular creative forms of expression, now come and go at a phenomenal rate.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 11:53 AM

I'm after a specific definition of TM

I doubt there is one, but here's my opinion...

All music is tradition as it all derives and works upon what has gone before it in a process of continuity and development and diversification that could, if one had the means, be traced back to a common ancestral source 50,000 years ago.

Tradition is a couple of guys in Manchester going to see the Sex Pistols at the Free Trade Hall in 1976 and deciding to form a band even though one of them hadn't touched a bass guitar in his life. Within three years they'd changed the face of popular music forever with 'Unknown Pleasures' - an idiomatic masterpiece born of very authentic vernacular experience & inspiration, yet inspirational in itself.   

Music springs eternal, as all human culture will, and must, on a level which is born from as much from the collective subconscious as it is from individual genius. That applies as much to Purcell and Handel as it does to David Bowie and Ian Curtis as it does to Harry Cox and Davie Stewart.

One thing is clear - as long as there are people on Planet Earth, there will be culture, language, art, technology and a myriad evolving musical traditions.

IMHO.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Suzy Sock Puppet
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 11:57 AM

Distinctive means that the textual or melodic variants in question have an unmistakable resemblance that denotes a common ancestry.

Long-established means that the manner of performance in question is generations older than the oldest extant version. In my mind this extant version would likely be a recording since performance is a very fleeting thing unless preserved in that medium.

Texts are a double edged sword when it comes to "long-established manner of performance." In some cases, they can be extremely helpful and can fill in some important missing blanks. In other cases not so much because the publication of a text can too easily alter the manner of performance in a way that breaks the chain. That's where the person to person thing comes in.

Very well worded Lighter. I accept that.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 11:58 AM

I am not sure i like the idea of traditional music being used to sell tooth paste, and i find i am in agreement on this point with the australian song collector j s manifold.
see this thread where there is some particular nastiness from folkie dave aka dave eyre.
Publication does a doubtful service to folk songs .it preservesthem;
but it preserves them dead, like stuffed animals in a museum,it brings them to a wide audience, but this includes so many of thewrong people,from school teachers,to hill billy addicts.
the wrong people are those who are bent on taking folksong out of its natural surroundings.Folksongs belong in the home,in the pub,in the focsle,in the back of atruck or a friendly verandah;not in the list of set peices at an Eisteffod,not in the schoolroom unless as a rare
treat,not between toothpaste advertisements on radio or television.
In the alien atmosphereof the concert hall it takes agreat artist to preserve the life and spirit even of his own folksongs let alone those of other people.
J s.Manifold,Queensland 1962[compiler of Penguin Australian folk songs]
this raises some interesting points,that are worthy of discussion.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 12:04 PM

manifold continued

"I sometimes wish, in vain, that we could keep up the strict etiquette that was observed by the real bush singers. A young man used to learn his songs from the acknowledged singer of the district, and might eventually earn permission to sing them to the limited 'public' of the bush wherever or whenever the acknowledged singer was not present. Some few songs were common property; others, 'songs from the books', were rather contemptuously exempted from the rule; but in the main this apprenticeship system prevailed, at least among men. When the public performer of a 'treason song' might earn a stretch in jail, it was a point of honour to perform it properly.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 12:38 PM

Thanks, Suzy.

Blandiver, you confuse "traditional" with "vernacular." They're related, and can overlap, but they're fundamentally distinct.

Homer's works are traditional, not vernacular, poems.

John Lennon's and William McGonagall's are vernacular, not traditional.

Robert Burns's poems are often vernacular, occasionally traditional or (when he rewrites extensively) semi-traditional, often literary.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Suzy Sock Puppet
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 12:51 PM

Manifold's comments have a striking similarity to comments made by Jim Carroll in regard to "ownership" of songs. While I certainly understand what is meant by this, a better term might be usufruct. The distinction is this: The songs and stories of a cohesive community are community property, yet there are certain designated individuals who take them into their personal possession in order to preserve their integrity and ultimately pass them on intact. Not just anybody can have a go at them. Does that make sense?


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Suzy Sock Puppet
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 01:15 PM

Usufruct- (Law) the right to use and derive profit from a piece of property belonging to another or to a community, provided the property itself remains unaltered in any way.
[from Late Latin ūsūfrūctus, from Latin ūsus use + frūctus enjoyment]
usufructuary].


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 01:17 PM

"Does that make sense? "
Sort of Susan, but "take ownership" overstates the situation in our experience.
Some singers is communities we recognised as having 'first pick' of certain songs - not to retain their integrity, but because of the age or status as singers.
Some of Norfolk singer Harry Cox's large repertoire came from other local singers who had always sung them (or who had inherited them from family members" - Harry never sang them until his sources died.
Sam Larner got many of his songs from 'Old Larpin' (Jimmy Sutton) he never sang them until after Sutton's death.
Wal;ter Pardon was particularly interesting - he never sang in any of his families singing sessions during Harvest Suppers (except Dark-Eyed Sailor - "nobody else wanted that").
Walter's later extremely large repertoire was carefully and lovingly assembled after all the family singers had died.
It was not a rule but an accepted deferential convention by all concerned.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 01:18 PM

you confuse "traditional" with "vernacular." They're related, and can overlap, but they're fundamentally distinct.

The vernacular operates in a traditional manner. It changes, evolves according to individual & cultural usage. Each culture has vernacular idioms that are constantly evolving according to the letter of the 1954 Definition. Even inside of the idiom of (say) Hip-Hop there are a myriad of vernacular traditions evolving quite distinctly, and happily.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 03:02 PM

> The vernacular operates in a traditional manner.

Which means that as, as concepts, the "vernacular" is not identical with the "traditional."

Quibble, quibble. Have fun!


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 03:03 PM

Only one "as" was intended.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 03:28 PM

Er - not the same, no - I was just pointing that I wasn't confusing the two.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 04:05 PM

we are not going wrong we are gradually trying to get things right, now is the time for comhaltas to give up competitions, and replace them with lessons,the perphery would still continue as it does at willie week, the fleadhs ave been going so long all that is needed is reform


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 04:07 PM

Scoil Eigse is considered a major part of each Fleadh.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Suzy Sock Puppet
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 04:08 PM

Jim, usufruct is just an academic term for what you just said. You are so accustomed to arguing, that you can't take yes for an answer :-)


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 05:13 PM

Peter, so what?
what relevance has your comment, apart from trying to score some obscure point against me, [which seems to be one of your tiresome and very predictable preoccupations]I did not say in my post that comhaltas did not give lessons.
why not do away with the competitions, and just have scoil eigse, the following week instead of the competitions.
peter ,that is what i meant by replacing them, is that clear


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 06:41 PM

Well, Will, every kind of music I can think of is a minority interest, if you take the population as a whole. Most people hate modern jazz. Most people wouldn't know what Wagner was all about even if it reared up and bit 'em on the bollocks (lucky them). Heavy metal is very much a minority cult. Even the poppiest of pop music has its millions of detractors, who far outnumber its adherents, detractors who are mostly outside the very narrow age limits set by the genre(s). I love late Beethoven, but almost everybody wouldn't bloody know what I was on about if I raised it in conversation, and the level of scholarship about it is, in general, utterly pathetic (google the title of any of his late quartets if you don't believe me!). "English folk" is its own worst enemy in making itself inward-looking, cliquey, rule-ridden and utterly self-regarding. No wonder most people turn their backs on it. I don't get the same feeling about traditional Irish music, whenever I've heard it played in settings outside those created by it aficionados. I nearly always detect warm enthusiasm, and it matters not a jot, usually, when the "punters" are people who don't "get the scene" (speech-mark cynicism fully intended!). Good stuff is good stuff (I have enough confidence in my appreciation of music to be able to make that somewhat banal remark), and I don't need purists or experts to analyse the stuff I'm listening to to tell me whether I should be enjoying it or not. MacColl adherents, please note...

But I love Shoals of Herring...


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 15 Oct 13 - 07:10 PM

If "all music is tradition" then either

- all music is equally traditional

or

- all music is traditional, but some examples are more traditional than others

If it's the first, then the word 'traditional' doesn't mean anything and there's no point talking about it.

If it's the second, then we just need to stop saying "traditional" and say "very traditional" instead - and start saying "not very traditional" instead of "not traditional". Or else we could stick with "traditional" and "not traditional", and leave it to anyone using Blandiver's definitions to translate.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: GUEST,big al whittle
Date: 16 Oct 13 - 01:50 AM

Bix's approach to composition had many points of confluence with classical music and followers of the Philarmonic wouldn't even spot the join if their favourite orchestras were to tackle something like In a Mist.

Like every real traditional musician - Bix was open to all kinds of influences. He didn't waste time letting people tell him what was in his tradition and what he was entitled to do. He just DID it.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 Oct 13 - 03:20 AM

Steve - I absolutely adore Beethoven's late quartets - glorious music. Also Bartok's string quartets - great stuff!

I never read analyses of such work - not because I'm not interested but because life (making music mainly) is just too short! I just enjoy it.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 16 Oct 13 - 03:49 AM

In that case, Phil maybe revival folk music is the least traditional of all because it's too self-conscious of its traditionalism - unlike other musics which just get on with it & are secure enough in what they are not to need a definition.

On the other hand it could mean Traditional as in Old Fashioned, like Traditional Fish 'n' Chips, or Traditional Hot-Pot, which again seems too much of a put-on to be of any use, and it's usually tourist bollocks anyway.

All music is traditional; and there's every point in talking about it because it's a defining aspect of what music is as a dynamic cultural phenomenon - collectively, individually, historically - which applies as much to pre-revival Folk Song as it does to Jazz, Hip-Hop, Krautrock & post-Oram electronica. It's the tradition of music that makes each idiom so vibrant & diverse.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Oct 13 - 03:52 AM

"MacColl adherents, please note"
Where on earth did this come from Steve?
My personal tastes are as wide as you have described, if not wider.
MacColl and the Critics were constantly being told by clubs that booked them not to sing contemporary song (particularly political ones) because "the audience doesn't go in for that sort of stuff here" (always blaming the audience - note).
MacColl constantly argued the view that unless the revival produced new songs at its clubs we would become "museum curators".
The Singers Club booked the artists they did because that's what they wished to present, it was not a criticism of Jazz Clubs, Heavy Metal sessions.... whatever, it was not what we set out to present.
It doesn't mean that we didn't have opinions on other musics, and didn't express them occasionally (who doesn't) but if you can come across any example of our "telling people what they should be listening to" please feel free to put it up.
This is yet another of those myths created around what we did which has managed to prevent open discussion on MacColl and his work now stretched to a quarter of a century after his death.
Sorry - a little surprised to find this coming from someone whose opinions I usually respect.
"Also Bartok's string quartets - great stuff!"
Someone coming away from Bert Lloyd's funeral service was overheard to say, "A great tribute to a great man, but those bloody Bartok Quartets were a bit of a downer".
"usufruct is just an academic term for what you just said"
Sorry Susie - not arguing - a word I'm totally unfamiliar with - put it down to my shitty Secondary Modern education.
Ah well- at least it gave me a chance to sound off about the people who have left their fingerprints all over my life.
Apologies.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 16 Oct 13 - 04:14 AM

maybe revival folk music is the least traditional of all because it's too self-conscious of its traditionalism

Something in that. Not necessarily a bad thing, either.

On the other hand it could mean Traditional as in Old Fashioned, like Traditional Fish 'n' Chips, or Traditional Hot-Pot

I love a taste of hot-pot, me.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 16 Oct 13 - 05:02 AM

Good grief, Phil - Don't give me shocks like that so early in the day :-)

I was chatting to Gary a bit back at Swinton and he reckons Blue Grass Music comes from Lancashire. It was quite a reasonable argument at the time but it has now completely escaped me.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 16 Oct 13 - 05:23 AM

One of the cornerstones of my Folk Dilemma was how Topic could release an album A.L.Lloyd's 1965 field recordings of village musicians of Albania alongside Gary & Vera's Taste of Hot-Pot. It baffles me to this day how both of these could somehow be termed 'Folk Music'.

Mind you, I felt oddly honoured to hear Ted Edwards singing his Coal-hole Cavalry at a singaround in Lymm a few years back.


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 16 Oct 13 - 06:07 AM

Mmmm - Understand what you are saying, Blandiver, but as you mention 'Coal Hole cavalry' maybe it is a good example. Ted worked down the pit, amongst many other things, in his younger days. That song, along with 'The Coal and Albert Berry' and others came from his experiences there. How is that different from a contemporary song, that someone must have written at the time, about Victorian Cotton Mills or 18th century farm labourers? They are all, to my mind, folk music. And, OK, Gara and Vera, well, Gary in particular, does have his comedic repartee and repertoire but, at the core, they sing songs that were written by people who experienced the things they wrote about. What is so odd about Topic releasing the two albums in question as folk music?

While I think about it, G&V do the song 'From the North' with words by Cicely Fox-Smith. Cicely (Rhymes with Nicely BTW) was a girl brought up in a nice middle class family from Cheshire but went on to write some wonderful poetry - Particularly about sea faring. Now, I only bring this up because, on the face of it, she could be described as an academic dabbling with folk. But when you look further she did an awful lot of stuff to give her the experience to write these things, including hunting on foot (from where 'From the North' sprang) and putting herself in pretty precarious places in sea ports to gain first hand knowledge of all things nautical. No particular point but does, maybe, emphasise that the songs can come from anywhere.

Ted is still singing Coal-Hole Cavalry BTW - Has fought back a lot since his stroke although one side is still badly affected. I think he gets up to somewhere in Chorley occasionally. Not sure where but I can find out if you like. Just re-purchased his book 'Fight the Wild Island' as my original one disappeared. Back to a full set again now.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Traditional Music: Where are we going wrong?
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 16 Oct 13 - 06:21 AM

The difference is one of aesthetics and musical intention; the easy listening Folk 'n' Fun of Gary & Vera is born of a different earth to the unearthly Vocal Polyphony of workers on a collective farm in Albania. Although it's just as unearthly over lunch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4Y_tuSsCXw


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