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Definition of folk song

Related threads:
Popfolk? (19)
What isn't folk (88)
What is a Folk Song? (229)
Still wondering what's folk these days? (145)
What makes a new song a folk song? (1710)
Does Folk Exist? (709)
Here comes that bloody horse - again! (23)
What is a traditional singer? (136)
Is the 1954 definition, open to improvement? (105)
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So what is *Traditional* Folk Music? (409)
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BS: What is folk music? (69) (closed)
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GUEST,kendall 02 Sep 14 - 03:13 PM
GUEST 02 Sep 14 - 03:13 PM
Lighter 02 Sep 14 - 04:03 PM
Big Al Whittle 02 Sep 14 - 04:08 PM
Amos 02 Sep 14 - 04:46 PM
Mr Red 02 Sep 14 - 04:52 PM
MGM·Lion 03 Sep 14 - 04:00 AM
Musket 03 Sep 14 - 05:11 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Sep 14 - 05:49 AM
Bounty Hound 03 Sep 14 - 06:22 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Sep 14 - 06:27 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Sep 14 - 06:37 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Sep 14 - 06:40 AM
Reinhard 03 Sep 14 - 07:03 AM
Bounty Hound 03 Sep 14 - 07:15 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 03 Sep 14 - 07:43 AM
Les in Chorlton 03 Sep 14 - 08:19 AM
Lighter 03 Sep 14 - 08:21 AM
Jim Carroll 03 Sep 14 - 08:29 AM
Musket 03 Sep 14 - 10:48 AM
Lighter 03 Sep 14 - 11:13 AM
Musket 03 Sep 14 - 11:16 AM
Bounty Hound 03 Sep 14 - 02:52 PM
Bert 03 Sep 14 - 04:37 PM
Steve Parkes 03 Sep 14 - 04:49 PM
michaelr 03 Sep 14 - 07:58 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Sep 14 - 06:39 AM
GUEST,colin Holt 04 Sep 14 - 07:40 AM
Bounty Hound 04 Sep 14 - 08:59 AM
PHJim 04 Sep 14 - 01:13 PM
Musket 04 Sep 14 - 01:26 PM
MGM·Lion 04 Sep 14 - 02:03 PM
Musket 04 Sep 14 - 04:50 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Sep 14 - 04:07 AM
MGM·Lion 05 Sep 14 - 04:16 AM
Musket 05 Sep 14 - 05:27 AM
The Sandman 05 Sep 14 - 05:56 AM
Steve Parkes 05 Sep 14 - 06:21 AM
Musket 05 Sep 14 - 06:23 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Sep 14 - 06:47 AM
Musket 05 Sep 14 - 07:07 AM
GUEST,Woodsie 05 Sep 14 - 08:32 AM
Jim Carroll 05 Sep 14 - 08:51 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 05 Sep 14 - 08:55 AM
GUEST,colin Holt 05 Sep 14 - 09:05 AM
Musket 05 Sep 14 - 09:57 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Sep 14 - 04:30 AM
The Sandman 06 Sep 14 - 06:23 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Sep 14 - 06:45 AM
The Sandman 06 Sep 14 - 07:50 AM
The Sandman 06 Sep 14 - 08:14 AM
Lighter 06 Sep 14 - 08:19 AM
Steve Gardham 06 Sep 14 - 04:03 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Sep 14 - 04:21 PM
Musket 06 Sep 14 - 04:30 PM
Lighter 06 Sep 14 - 04:52 PM
frogprince 06 Sep 14 - 07:55 PM
Bounty Hound 06 Sep 14 - 08:57 PM
Lighter 06 Sep 14 - 09:17 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Sep 14 - 03:43 AM
Bounty Hound 07 Sep 14 - 03:59 AM
The Sandman 07 Sep 14 - 05:42 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Sep 14 - 06:00 AM
Bounty Hound 07 Sep 14 - 06:37 AM
MGM·Lion 07 Sep 14 - 06:58 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Sep 14 - 08:06 AM
The Sandman 07 Sep 14 - 09:10 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Sep 14 - 09:18 AM
MGM·Lion 07 Sep 14 - 09:31 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Sep 14 - 12:57 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Sep 14 - 02:45 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Sep 14 - 03:41 PM
GUEST,You English 07 Sep 14 - 06:03 PM
Musket 07 Sep 14 - 06:13 PM
Steve Gardham 08 Sep 14 - 12:07 PM
The Sandman 08 Sep 14 - 12:54 PM
GUEST,Derrick 09 Sep 14 - 06:06 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Sep 14 - 06:16 AM
GUEST,Derrick 09 Sep 14 - 06:30 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Sep 14 - 06:37 AM
The Sandman 09 Sep 14 - 06:52 AM
Musket 09 Sep 14 - 08:13 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Sep 14 - 08:23 AM
GUEST,Derrick 09 Sep 14 - 08:58 AM
Steve Gardham 09 Sep 14 - 11:09 AM
Musket 09 Sep 14 - 11:11 AM
Jim Carroll 09 Sep 14 - 11:17 AM
Musket 09 Sep 14 - 11:49 AM
The Sandman 09 Sep 14 - 12:18 PM
GUEST,Derrick 09 Sep 14 - 12:21 PM
Bonzo3legs 09 Sep 14 - 01:34 PM
Jim Carroll 09 Sep 14 - 02:40 PM
The Sandman 10 Sep 14 - 03:26 AM
The Sandman 10 Sep 14 - 03:49 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Sep 14 - 04:02 AM
frogprince 10 Sep 14 - 09:55 AM
Bounty Hound 10 Sep 14 - 10:05 AM
The Sandman 10 Sep 14 - 01:56 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 10 Sep 14 - 02:23 PM
The Sandman 10 Sep 14 - 03:50 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 10 Sep 14 - 04:11 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 10 Sep 14 - 04:30 PM
The Sandman 10 Sep 14 - 04:36 PM
GUEST,Seonaid 10 Sep 14 - 07:31 PM
kendall 10 Sep 14 - 07:38 PM
Lighter 10 Sep 14 - 07:51 PM
The Sandman 10 Sep 14 - 11:39 PM
Larry The Radio Guy 11 Sep 14 - 12:05 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Sep 14 - 03:05 AM
Larry The Radio Guy 11 Sep 14 - 03:50 AM
Musket 11 Sep 14 - 04:22 AM
Bounty Hound 11 Sep 14 - 06:55 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Sep 14 - 07:08 AM
Bounty Hound 11 Sep 14 - 07:44 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Sep 14 - 09:11 AM
Bounty Hound 11 Sep 14 - 09:50 AM
Musket 11 Sep 14 - 10:06 AM
MGM·Lion 11 Sep 14 - 10:16 AM
Bounty Hound 11 Sep 14 - 11:08 AM
The Sandman 11 Sep 14 - 11:12 AM
MGM·Lion 11 Sep 14 - 11:21 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Sep 14 - 11:22 AM
The Sandman 11 Sep 14 - 11:47 AM
Jim Carroll 11 Sep 14 - 11:57 AM
Musket 11 Sep 14 - 11:59 AM
Bounty Hound 11 Sep 14 - 12:01 PM
The Sandman 11 Sep 14 - 12:16 PM
Jim Carroll 11 Sep 14 - 01:09 PM
MGM·Lion 11 Sep 14 - 01:33 PM
The Sandman 11 Sep 14 - 01:35 PM
MGM·Lion 11 Sep 14 - 02:14 PM
Musket 11 Sep 14 - 04:40 PM
Bounty Hound 11 Sep 14 - 06:27 PM
GUEST 15 Sep 14 - 07:48 AM
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Subject: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 03:13 PM

Heavy mental


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 03:13 PM

It takes more than a teaspoon of brains to appreciate it.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Lighter
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 04:03 PM

So you're saying it's an elite, intellectual kind of song?


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 04:08 PM

The old gaelic song

A wee teaspoon a brain's muckle aroon
Huish! a heelan' lassie's fechta poon!

I once performed that unaccompanied at Ballspond Road Caledonian Society, the applause was thunderous. Darling....I was wonderful!


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Amos
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 04:46 PM

From the "other" current thread on the topic:

As usually occurs in a group discussion a great deal of smoke and friction is generated because of the conflation of multiple definitions around a single phoneme or word. "Folk" has multiple definitions, of which a few are:

1. A musical category of songs and tunes that have been handed down through time orally or through personal modeling. Folk music is the product of a musical tradition that has been evolved through the process of oral transmission according to Saint Fifty-Four. (His close friends just call him Nineteen).

2. A set of agreements and cultural attributed associated with folk music.

3. A class of non-urban people romantically considered as the backbone of a nation, often used as a pretense for war or other political dodges.

4. A category of musical products such as records or CDs usually involving artists playing acoustic instruments and pretending to be from the class in Definition 3.

5. Musical compositions that try to sound as if they come from the people in Definition 3, by invoking simplistic or romantic sentiments, minimal vocabulary , a bent for melodrama, and weak discrimination as a key plot component in farce or romantic comedy.

It should be immediately clear that if you have one definition in mind, your assertions will sound quite off to a person who has another definition in mind.

A modern singer-songwriter who writes a really great and genuine-sounding "folk" song (e.g., Darcy Farrell, circa 1970) is only doing so under definition 5, and not under definition 1.

A


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Mr Red
Date: 02 Sep 14 - 04:52 PM

Before defining the Folksong (how much time can you spare?)
you should define Folk. And you ain't got enough time to start on that hoary old chestnut.

I think we can take the essence from another hoary old chestnut. "I don't know much about art, but I know what I like"

does that help?

and another hoary chestnut "Are we there yet?"

Or should I have started by defining "rhetoric?"


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 04:00 AM

Stephen Potter, the inventor of Lifemanship & Oneupmanship (who, it must always be remembered, was merely a successful humorist not a profound philosopher or guru), wrote in one of those books (from memory): "If ever fortunate enough to meet someone who says, 'I don't know anything abut Art but I know what I like', you should reply immediately in a plonking voice, 'If you don't know anything about Art then you don't know what you like!'."

FWIW

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 05:11 AM

Here is a folk song by any and every definition;

"I am on holiday to relax, drink my fill,
So I thought I'd take a sleeping pill.

I slept through the day, I slept through the night,
Except the time I got up for a shite."

Now, it is a folk song because it is about the life of a working class lad. It is a folk song because it relates his story. It is of historical record.

It also fits the bill of traditional because nobody knows which Musket wrote or indeed experienced it.

Also, it isn't very good lyrics. I often think the very best and very worst I hear can be classed as folk.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 05:49 AM

This is as good a simplified definition of Folk Music as any
Jim Carroll

FROM THE OXFORD ENGLISH REFERENCE DICTIONARY.
FOLK MUSIC n. instrumental or vocal music of traditional origin transmitted orally from generation to generation, whose authorship is often unknown. Folk music tends to have a relatively simple structure and melody, and to use portable instruments such as guitar, violin, harmonica, accordion, and bagpipes. Folk music is often monophonic, consisting of simple unaccompanied tunes although vocal polyphony is common in southern and eastern Europe. While some regions of Europe (e.g. Bulgaria, Romania, the Basque Country, Macedonia, etc.) there has been an uninterrupted there has been a living tradition of folk music, concern began to be felt in the late 19th in Britain and elsewhere that the folk tradition would be lost. Pioneering collectors and revivers of folk music include Cecil Sharp and Percy Grainger in Britain, Dvorák in Bohemia and Moravia and Kodály in Transylvania. During the Depression years in in the U.S. Woodie Guthrie revived interest in the form with his political protest songs: he had a strong influence on later figures such as Bob Dylan, who later performed traditional folk material and also wrote new songs in a folk style. In Britain in the 1960s and 1970s groups like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span explored and expanded the form; electronic and other less traditional instruments began to be used, giving rise to a style known as folk rock.
Recently much attention has been given to folk music from other cultures (see World Music)


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 06:22 AM

And you accept this definition Jim?

Seems to me that it it contains all the elements you've argued furiously about on the other thread. Those dreadful guitars are in there, and it describes a 'form' and even a 'style' and there is the clear acknowledgement that there is new 'folk' music!


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 06:27 AM

Defining the indefinite?


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 06:37 AM

"And you accept this definition Jim?"
Of course I do.
Don't distort what I said by leaving out my full comment on guitars
They were an addition to the British revival - nothing to do with the British folk tradition - personally, I found them useful, as I took some pains in saying and you have taken some pains in distorting.
"even a 'style' and there is the clear acknowledgement that there is new 'folk' music!"
No it does not - read the ******* thing - it says there is a new music that has been borrowed from the old folk music - not that it is part of it.
You want to call your music 'folk rock' feel free to do so - but don't claim it as being part of genuine folk music - it isn't.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 06:40 AM

And by the way - the definition refers to the style in which the new music is performed - it is not a definition of what it is.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Reinhard
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 07:03 AM

Then why is this OED entry titled "Folk Music" and not "Performing of Folk Music", Jim? You can't accept this definition and reject it at the same time.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 07:15 AM

I've read it Jim, can't see the word 'borrowed' in there anywhere, what I can see is a description of 'form' or style' and the acknowledgement that there is new music in that 'form' or 'style' all forming part of a paragraph defining 'folk music'

So, not that I need your permission, but I will continue to call what the band do 'folk' rock, but I will also continue to differenciate between traditional and new songs.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 07:43 AM

Definition of folk song ???

For what purpose ?

Who would it be intended for ...

Academics, Archivists, Researchers ?

Schoolkids eagerly finding out about and downloading various forms of music on the internet ?

Older music fans with a serious addiction for discovering all kinds of performers,
who have been happily enjoying whatever takes their fancy for decades,
without ever being too bothered by how the 'experts' classify it ?

A mass of the population with no real lasting care or concern for any kind of music whatsoever,
who might not be the slightest bit curious about what it is they are completely ignoring.. ?


Yeah.. ok, definitions can be handy.. but ........


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 08:19 AM

Can I suggest that people read all or at least some of The New Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs. It probbly wont give you a simple deffinition but I think it offers the most useful and comprehensive writing on English Folks Songs currently avaialable.

NPBEFS


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 08:21 AM

> vocal music of traditional origin transmitted orally from generation to generation...

Very good, especially in a definition intended to cover world cultures. Everything that follows is elaboration and clarification (with several "oftens," which are obviously peripheral to the meaning).

But the very mention of Dylan, Fairport, and Steeleye as having "expanded the form" with "new instruments" and "styles" leaves open the question of what their type of music is to be called - which is more
or less the issue of this thread. Are Steeleye's trad songs still "folksongs"? Is Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" in a "folk style"?
Should new songs in a "folk style" be called "folksongs"?

We all agree on what makes a traditional song (I think). But not even Oxford is quite clear about what makes a "folksong."

All it means is that one shouldn't lay too much emphasis on the precise meaning of "folksong" in any given instance. It's the specifics that interest, not the generalities.

(BTW, The part crediting "Woodie" [sic] Guthrie and no other for reviving American interest, is most remarkable, and makes me wonder what unsteady whippersnapper wrote this article. There was John Lomax, Carl Sandburg, Alan Lomax, Robert Gordon, Lead Belly, even Burl Ives...and without their discovery and promotion by the Lomaxes, Guthrie and Lead Belly would have remained obscure. Before the '50s revival, it could be argued that they were *still* obscure.)


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 08:29 AM

"Academics, Archivists, Researchers ?"
Among others
If it wasn't for these we wouldn't have anything to sing
"can't see the word 'borrowed' in there anywhere"
Try looking - "explored and expanded the form" - nothing to do with definition - just a reference to how folk songs were performed.
"there is new music in that 'form' or 'style'"
It says nothing about a "new music" - it refers throughout to an old music (which conforms to a definition) being performed in a new style.
When George Butterworth took the folk song 'Banks of Green Willow' and orchestrated it he gave us one of the most exquisite pieces of English Orchestral music - its origins remained folk, but it had become something else - Grainger, Delius, Vaughan Williams did the same, as did Kodaly and Bartok in Eastern Europe - they used folk music, they didn't write it.
None of them claimed to be writing 'folk' - on the contrary - the interest in folk song was inspired by the belief that England did not have a classical music of its own and it might be possible to create one using folk forms.   
All of which is a long way from your original argument that you can write a "new folk song".
"entry titled "Folk Music"
Because that is what the article is dealing with - references to 'folk-rock" are what has happened to folk music, not what it is, and the writer makes that quite clear - at no time does he/she ever suggested it is folk.
"Yeah. o.k. definitions can be handy"
Definitions are essential if you are going to do anything with it other than perform it.
In my opinion, beyond that if you run a club and call it 'folk' you are morally obliged to produce something resembling that description - not necessarily folk as per definition, but something an audience can identify with as related to folk.
It seems to me from personal experience, from discussions with friends and from what I read on threads like these, that this is no longer the case.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 10:48 AM

If you can define music as something to listen to and enjoy, then I'm afraid a lot of traditional wailing of old men in those trousers that come up to your tits ain't folk music either.

Jim refers to collecting and cherishing a piece of the past. He collects songs, my mate collects beer mats. Jim calls his hobby folk music.

Many people love listening to songs being performed with just a guitar and, if the person is a good enough singer, unaccompanied songs. They call their musical enjoyment folk music too. On a good day, Irish diddly doo tunes get called folk music.

I used to own a company that made and sold vibrators. Our customers stuck them in wet concrete. Anne Summers sell vibrators. Their customers stick them elsewhere. Both are called vibrators, both operate on a similar principle. I don't recall getting precious about it.

Dictionaries have multiple meanings for the same word and nobody breaks a bottle over the other bloke's head for it.

Folk music is a broad church and I'm sorry but on this, Jim is wrong.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 11:13 AM

With "vibrators," however, a little context *always* makes the meaning clear. If there's any ambiguity, it just seems funny.

Unfortunately not so with "folksongs."


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 11:16 AM

Not at all. I know at least one lass who always said she coul.....

I digress.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 02:52 PM

'Explored and expanded', nope, sorry Jim, you do seem to struggle with words, can't see anything that means 'borrowed' there.

Get your dictionary out and look up explored and expanded. That's got more to do with developing the tradition. Oh, but of course in your eyes, that can't happen, can it!


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bert
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 04:37 PM

A song that folk (people that is) are singing.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 04:49 PM

Rough 'n' ready definitions ...

1: The traditional, or British, folk song:
A song that, regardless of its origins, has passed into the oral tradition and been amended thereby;

2: The American, or contemporary, folk song:
A song that was written, composed, and performed by non-commercial person or persons;

3: The pragmatic but unhelpful modern definition:
Anything they'll let you sing in a folk club.

Hope this helps (but I doubt it!)


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: michaelr
Date: 03 Sep 14 - 07:58 PM

Kendall! What were you thinking? Feeling a bit perverse?


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 06:39 AM

"Explored and expanded', nope, sorry Jim, you do seem to struggle with words, can't see anything that means 'borrowed' there. "
Ho Hum
"In Britain in the 1960s and 1970s groups like Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span explored and expanded the form; electronic and other less traditional instruments began to be used, giving rise to a style known as folk rock."
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,colin Holt
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 07:40 AM

This topic seems to come up on this site over and over .. which perhaps emphasises a lack of complete clarity on the subject. Like many I suspect, I've never quite understood what "Folk music" means. In fact I spent some years fearing that I was missing something.
For my own part, I've drifted through musical styles, from fumbling around on acoustic guitars, to local folk clubs, through prog rock (long songs with lots of solo's) in my early 20's, through jazz-rock, (long songs with complicated solo's) in my late 20's, then out through the other end to where I began, writing and performing songs on an acoustic guitar. Its always been about the writing for me, and I have to put some weight behind the view that a good song will last, whatever genre other people decide to put it in.

To broaden the issue for a moment, it doesn't just stop with Folk Music, what is Classical Music.? You only have to listen to Classic FM for 20 minutes (whilst cleaning out the goldfish bowl), to realise how confusing the whole concept is. Can Carl Jenkins really be considered as a writer of Classical music? well apparently so?. Doesn't he just write music.?
We are told by the discerning that classical music is "Serious Music"?
Well hang on, I can't take that, how condescending does that sound??

However, what is Folk? What is it?? It seems to me that some artists write something or perform an interpretation of something else, which allows them passage into the "Folk Circle". Music, which has "Roots in the tradition style", is a statement I have heard on many occasions, as an explanation for what Folk Music is. However, no one, as yet, has been able to explain to me what "writing in the traditional style" actually means.

In the end, does it really matter? In my humble opinion, music is what it is, and it either does it for you, or it doesn't.
Songs are what they are. They move you or they don't. There are no rules and nothing is right or wrong.
Personally, I'm moved in a similar way, and just as much by Chris Wood singing "Summerfield Avenue", as I am by the Kinks singing "Waterloo Sunset", or by Hatfield and the North singing "It didn't Matter Anyway".
Once written, good songs stay the duration. Wasn't it Joni Mitchell said "Songs are like tattoos y'know".
Just my two penneth in swift haste and with respect


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 08:59 AM

Ok Jim, let's see if I can help you out a bit.

Explore means to investigate, enquire or discuss

Expand means to enlarge or make more extensive, or to give a fuller version of.

Borrow means to take something (belonging to someone else) with the intention of returning it.

All very different, you see Jim, what you can't do is take a 'definition' that you say you accept, and then change the meaning of it when realisation dawns that perhaps it means something different to what YOU want it to mean.

Lets just 'explore and expand' this a bit further. Can you 'borrow' your own tradition? I would say not. You may be influenced by it, you may maintain it, you may wish to develope it further.

So if the likes of Steeleye and Fairport were investigating, or 'exploring' the tradition and were developing or 'expanding' the tradition, that to my mind is a thoroughly healthy thing, as this ensures that the tradition does not die, and long may people continue to explore and expand the tradition or style!


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: PHJim
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 01:13 PM

I first saw people trying to answer the question, "What is a folk song?" in Sing Out! magazine about 1961. This was debated, off and on, for the next 53 years. While many folks came up with definitions that satisfied themselves, there has not been a satisfactory answer to the question yet.

Big Bill Broonzy (or Louis Armstrong or...) said,"I guess all songs is folk songs. I ain't never heard no horse sing 'em."

Michael Cooney once said, "If you know who wrote it, it's not a folk song."

I believe Michael also said, "If it takes more than two trips to get your gear from the car, it ain't folk music."

Catfish Willie said, "It's a 4 letter word that starts with F and ends with K and if you use it, your music won't get played on the radio."

I believe Pete Seeger said that if he sang Jimmy Crack Corn on a stage and was paid for singing, he was not a folk singer, but a housewife singing My Funny Valentine to her kids while she does the dishes is a folk singer. (I'll have to look that up, but it was something like that.)

I wonder how many threads mudcat has had on defining a folk song.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 01:26 PM

I used to know a Colin Holt.. Tha's not a Worksop lad who buggered off to Devon perchance?


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 02:03 PM

"Big Bill Broonzy (or Louis Armstrong or...) said,"I guess all songs is folk songs. I ain't never heard no horse sing 'em."
.,,.

Memorably, and IMO accurately, denounced by Bert Lloyd as "a dreary axiom".

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 04 Sep 14 - 04:50 PM

But neither you nor Bert Lloyd are / were in Big Bill Broonzy's league, so stop comparing yourself and a stamp collector with a musician eh?


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 04:07 AM

"Ok Jim, let's see if I can help you out a bit."
Please don't patronise me unless you can match half a centuries work in the field - it makes you look rather silly next to your 'acoustic guitars' and the rest of the non 'information' you you have managed to come up with so far.
Electric folk is the point you seem to be hung up on - a fair enough description of how a genre of defined music was performed.
'Folk' refers to the material, which is what made up the repertoire of the groups mentioned - ballads and traditional songs mainly.
'Electric' indicates how that material was performed.
The term 'Electric folk' is not a re-definition of the term folk but a description of how the music being defined 'folk' was performed - the definition remains the same.
'Folk' as defined by the article, remains as it was originally defined - all that has changed in this case is how it was performed - nothing whatever to do with the origins or transmission of the material, which is its defining feature
If a fifty piece orchestra performs 'Lovely Joan', the origins of the song and the 'folk process' eventually which landed it on our doorstep has not changed one iota - it remains a folk song (extremely definable) - it only SOUNDS different in performance.
In the 90s the classical music industry decided to attempted to popularise Classical music with a somewhat embarrassing series of albums entitled 'Pop Go the Classics' basically, classical pieces with a beat.
This in no way changed the definition of Classical music - 'Classical Pop' has a definition of its own, nothing to do with Haydn of Beethoven.
The same is the case when opera singers recorded Lennon and McCartney songs - they were opera singers singing pop songs - which remained pop songs.
Clear now?
If you care to re-read the definition, nowhere dos it say the groups expanded the tradition - is specifically says they expanded the FORM; electronic and other less traditional instruments began to be used, giving rise to a STYLE known as folk rock.
As I said earlier, all this is a million miles away from your original claim that you can write folk songs -
You can't, you can write songs that may, should they eventually be filtered through process, become folk songs.
"In the end, does it really matter?"
If you sat at home singing it in the bath - no it doesn't
If you run a club attempting to draw people in on the basis of a named music - it appears not to any more - sharp practice, as far as I'm concerned, but that's me.
If you are dealing with it in its wider context, it matters very much.
Folk songs, music, dances, tales.... are all the cultural expression, and (I believe) the creation of a specified section of our society - the labouring classes (largely rural)
They were created by them to express their experiences, outlook and estimation of life around them over many centuries.
Up to the point where folk culture was seriously examined, it was believed that the largest section of our society had no creative culture of significance and that we lived off the cultural crumbs dropped from the tables of our social superiors.      
A half serious examination of folk-song and music proper shows that not to b the case - take that away from us and we are back to having no cultural legacy - simple as that.
And that's without going to the masses of cultural and historical information and analysis that went into the making of folk songs and oral history.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 04:16 AM

Brilliant post, Jim. Absolutely on the button.

I have often thought, and perhaps even written somewhere, that some institutions calling themselves "folk clubs", or occasions billed as "folk concerts", might just lay themselves open to prosecution under the Trades Descriptions Act.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 05:27 AM

It depends on whether they book you as the turn...


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 05:56 AM

so folk clubs should be called Barbara Allen clubs?what sort of clientele would that attract, wimpish young men and sadistic powerful women, sounds a bit S and M to me.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 06:21 AM

And let us remember that "folk" is a label we've invented, so when we try to fit parts of our (also invented) culture to the label, there's no reason it should be problem-free.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 06:23 AM

Electric guitars ARE traditional instruments in that they are used extensively in folk music. Few "traditional" instruments were around when many traditional lyrics we know had their first outing.

Electric guitars came about before 90% of the population of the planet's population were born. In fact, if you include the Rickenbacker frying pan, 99.0%. They lost the "contemporary" title when Les Paul died.

Seems like personal take to me. Melodeons were new and novel to Cecil Sharpe.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 06:47 AM

"And let us remember that "folk" is a label we've invented, "
All language is something "we invented" - it halps us discuss the things around is.
It only becomes problematical when it is not fully understood or is deliberately misused - take your pick
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 07:07 AM

Meanwhile back at the ranch. Millions of people are getting confused because they heard the exciting sounds The Imagined Village produced and thought, "Mm this folk music is good."

They saw a sign saying "Folk music here tonight" and got all excited.

They sat incredulously whilst an old bloke with his trousers up to his tits stuck his finger in his ear and warbled some unintelligible words.

Perhaps they misjudged. They didn't like The Imagined Village or folk after all.

They asked Musket about it. Musket said he tolerated all sorts that couldn't be described as entertainment to many, but we all suffer for our art..... (There are very few singers that cause Musket to nip for a piss, but you can only hear The Foggy Dew so many times.) Arthur C Clarke was asked by Stanley Kubrick how he could read some of the pulp science fiction? He gave the same answer as I give about a lot of music I may not personally like as entertaining music, but enjoy using it as a base to inform new songs and arrangements.

Folk music? It evolves, so evolve it... The traditional genre has given us some wonderful raw material. No point in leaving it raw and uneaten.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,Woodsie
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 08:32 AM

Here we go again - folk - the only music where nobody can agree what it is ha ha!


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 08:51 AM

"Millions of people are getting confused"
Millions - I think you radically over-estimate the number of people of people who listen to anything folky or even folkish
Thousands maybe, and even among those who listen to The Village People - whatever they call themselves, there is no consensus of what constitutes 'folk' on the club scene.
"They sat incredulously whilst an old bloke with his trousers up to his tits stuck his finger in his ear and warbled some unintelligible words."
If this is how you view folk music it goes a long way towards your attitude to it - I'm happy that Harry, Sam and Water nebver became part of that somewhat offensive and highly offensive side of the folk scene.
The Foggy Dew entertained people for several centuries and conttinues to do so today - one of my particular favourites.
I have to drag down Fred Dallas and Co's 'Electric Muse' off the shelf to remember what 'Electric Folk' was all about - didn't last much longer than one pf my better farts.
"Uneaten"!!!
Been a major part of my staple diet for a major part of my life - and many like me.
I thought it was us 'finger-in-ear' merchants who imposed our tastes on others - stop being a musical fascist Muskie - I had you marked up as being better than that.
"folk - the only music where nobody can agree"
I totally share your incredulation.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 08:55 AM

Ok.. now that we've finally defined "Folk"..................

Can we now have a go at analysing why a new generation of young kids
are still being brought up with the smug propaganda
that Acoustic is morally superior to Electric...???


============================================================

Btw, Jim

"From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 04:07 AM
"

Now that's gota be nominated for best Post of the year so far..

excellent


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,colin Holt
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 09:05 AM

"Folk songs, music, dances, tales.... are all the cultural expression, and (I believe) the creation of a specified section of our society - the labouring classes (largely rural)"
Yes Jim Carroll I understand this, and the historical context
"They were created by them to express their experiences, outlook and estimation of life around them over many centuries."
Again Jim I understand this as well. My problem is that all of these concepts continue today. Music like life is a continuim. People still need to express their experiences , their cultures, their disillusionment with society, the way they are disenfranchised. There still remains a large section of our society which is seen as separate, and labouring. Songs continue to be made which explore these concepts, and experiences. Are such songs and their writers worthy of respectful consideration to a Folk Club audience?? Is folk music purely a magical history tour.?
.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 05 Sep 14 - 09:57 AM

Jim. Some of those you mention were dear friends so don't start that one. Just because they had the provenance doesn't mean they were entertaining full stop. Some could be a pain in the arse and the attention they got wasn't warranted.

Collecting and enjoying are two different things.

Folk music is, if it is anything, the art of turning ancient forms of entertainment into entertainment people gladly listen to in this day and age.

Once the silver surfers here on Mudcat are no more, nobody will have heard of Walter Pardon. Ewan MacColl will revert to his '80s title of ex playwright, father of a pop singer.

However, the people you mock are the ones guaranteeing the music lives on.

We call it folk by the way.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 04:30 AM

"Just because they had the provenance doesn't mean they were entertaining full stop"
I tend not to mention names other than traditional singers who I feel represent folk as I understand it so I assume you are talking about those "whose trousers come up to their tits" as you so offensively put it.
Just because you choose to denigrate them by presenting them in the rather distasteful way you did doesn't mean that some of us didn't get pleasure from listening to them Muskie - really not worthy of you.
"We call it folk by the way."
Problem is - some people call some things 'folk' others call other things 'folk' - whether it is accurate or not, it has long ceased to be a guide to help me choose what I wish to look for and listen to - it doesn't mean anything any more as far as the clubs are concerned - it has taken away my right to choose what I want to listen to - or it would if I still bothered my arse going to clubs.
If I took you people seriously, it would have long taken away my right to talk or write about it
Raising the subject on a forum purporting to be dedicated to "Folk and Traditional Music" is somewhat like having to sign the Official Secrets Act - you no longer have a right to say what you believe to be important.
"Some could be a pain in the arse and the attention they got wasn't warranted. "
Maybe so - if I was into that sort of thing I could list you hundreds of Prima Donnas from any branch of music, that fits this description - often with a vegeance (at least one of them lurks through these threads promoting his own abilities like a born-again Colonel Tom Parker) - it really doesn't make the slightest difference to defining what they do.
You cannot 'like' a thing into what it is - it is what it is because that's what it is - it conforms to a recognisable and communicable pattern - simple as that.
"Collecting and enjoying are two different things. "
What a stupid statement - of course they aren't.
You collect a thing (as an amateur) because you like it, you like having access to it and , in our case, we alos think it important and believe it might have relevance and give enjoyment to others.
"nobody will have heard of Walter Pardon. Ewan MacColl"
Both their offerings to humanity have been fully documented and archived and will be fully accessible long after we've gone off to sing in the Choir Invisibule - well taken care of.
Walter died 18 years ago - still regarded as an important figure in British folk song and that will continue to be the case while the subject is remembered.
Ewan died a quarter of a century ago and his recordings are still being churned out, he is still a subject of lively discussion and we are sill basking in the enjoyment that he and Bert and all the other pioneers left behind them in the form of the revival they created.
Want me to go back as far as 1908 and Grainger's Lincolnshire singers - or even further?
I'd be happy to be remembered like that, whether people liked my singing or listened to what I had to say.   
We wouldn't have had a folk music to quibble over or to listen to if it hadn't been for that crowd and the time they put in to sharing it and giving it some stayability.
Like what you like - the fact that you like it makes it nothing more than something you like.
"My problem is that all of these concepts continue today."
Yes they do Colin - and they always have.
Unfortunately the people who created the music we are discussing no longer do so - I get a little tired of saying that we are now passive recipients of our own culture rather than part of the making of it.
"Is folk music purely a magical history tour.?"
Of course it isn't, any more than Dickens or Steinbeck or Hardy or Shakespeare or Mrs Gaskell or Chaucer or Boccaccio or Hasek or Hugo or Tolstoy or Sholokov or Serge or Zola or Defoe or Homer or Flaherty.... or any purveyor of words ideas and experiences, as far back as you care to go, were "magical history tours".
All have given me masses of sheer pleasure at one time or another, while at the same time giving me a peep into their lives and times.
Folk song as I know it, carries with it the same pleasure and the same peeps into the lives of others, only in this case it is into the lives of people who are considered to have no history of great importance and no culture worth mentioning as such - this is what makes it unique and important beyond the pleasure derived from it..
A good slice of my lifetime has been given over to listening to and gaining pleasure from folk song - never stopped or slowed down over half a century - on the contrary - you arrive at a stage of your life when you realise you are never going to live long enough to take everything that is still on offer - the bits you have missed or not fully appreciated fist time around.
That's just been driven home with a vengeance for me recently when I was forced to re-visit thirty-odd years of fieldwork in County Clare order to put it up on line.
I haven't even thought about the thirty years we did with Travellers in London or the twenty pleasurable years we spent sitting with in Walter Pardon's kitchen listening to him sing and talk (in parallel with our Clare work of course - nobody gets to be that old).
All that work will have to go to somebody else to make sense of and pass on - already well in hand.
All this stuff is based around singing and storytelling of a specific type - and all of it carries with it masses of cultural and social history that is there for the taking, should anybody, now or in the future, wish to avail themselves of it.
As Walter Pardon once told a neighbor who knocked on his door and told him he shouldn't give his songs away because once you do they're no longer yours - "they're not my songs, they're everybody's".
You tall me that this is going to happen to the pop-based songs that are passed off as 'folk' nowadays, and you might have made a point.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 06:23 AM

I would agree with Jim that the foggy dew of which there are a number of versions with story variations is a fine song, in my opinion john of dreams is also a very good song and s0 is on top of old smokey and tom dooley., all of which are definmed as folk songs
"Maybe so - if I was into that sort of thing I could list you hundreds of Prima Donnas from any branch of music, that fits this description - often with a vegeance (at least one of them lurks through these threads promoting his own abilities like a born-again Colonel Tom Parker) - it really doesn't make the slightest difference to defining what they do."   
the above statement has little relevance to defining folk song, but illustrates an unnecessary level of unpleasantness that is all too familiar in discussion of folk song. jim appears to be unable to discuss without periodic rudeness


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 06:45 AM

"the above statement has little relevance to defining folk song"
It has every relevance to the point made by Musket
The example I have in mind is a perfect example of a 'pain in the arse' and the ones Muskett mentioned don't fill posting after posting telling us what great performers they are when we can judge for ourselves how good or appalling that particular individual is.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 07:50 AM

jim, your knowledge of tom parker displays your ignorance, get your facts right, i know that is diffiult for you,the fact is tom parker masnaged presley very badly,example his refusal to let presley tour anywhere apart from the us. jim you clearly know f all about presley or col tom parker. your comment regarding parker has shown youself to be an opinionated ignoramus and a booby to boot.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 08:14 AM

some info and facts on presleys lack of touring outside the us, due to col tom parkers bad management and bad promotion and Lack of touring abroad

Presley fans have speculated that the reason Presley only once performed abroad, which would probably have been a highly lucrative proposition, may have been that Parker was worried that he would not have been able to acquire a U.S. passport and might even have been deported upon filing his application. In addition, applying for the citizenship required for a US passport would probably have exposed his carefully concealed foreign birth, even though as a US Army veteran and spouse of an American citizen, he would have been eligible to apply for US citizenship.

Throughout his entire career, Presley performed in only three venues outside the United States—all of them in Canada: Toronto, Ottawa, and Vancouver, during brief tours there in 1957. However, at the time of these concerts, crossing the US-Canada border did not require a passport. Red Robinson, Vancouver radio icon and MC of the Presley concert in that city, said Parker did not accompany Presley to that show, but instead stayed in Washington. However, it should be noted that it is well-established that Parker did not accompany Presley on every tour and every performance date, even in the US, suggesting this may not have been the only rationale for Presley not performing abroad.

Rumors that he would play overseas for the first time were fueled in 1974 by a million-dollar bid for an Australian tour. Parker was uncharacteristically reluctant, prompting those close to Presley to speculate about the manager's past and the reasons for his apparent unwillingness to apply for a passport. Parker ultimately squelched any notions Presley had of working abroad, although it must also be noted that Presley did not push the issue, either.[51]

Other possible theories for Presley's lack of touring abroad include the following:

    Parker's fear that security overseas was not as good as in the US
    Parker's belief that outside influences (managers, agents etc.) would inform Presley of how unusual his contract with Parker was.
    Parker's claim that there was a lack of venues large enough to accommodate a star of Presley's stature. All of these excuses were given to Presley when he would show an interest in touring abroad. Presley, who was known to avoid confrontation, would never argue against them.
    Some promoters wanted to charge fans the equivalent of $100 per ticket. Parker did not wish the fans to be ripped off, and this was another reason he turned down overseas offers.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 08:19 AM

> You tall me that this is going to happen to the pop-based songs that are passed off as 'folk' nowadays, and you might have made a point.

This is one basis (of several)for maintaining a distinction.

The words and lyrics of most copyrighted songs are jealously guarded. Furthermore, modern society is far more concerned with singing or playing something exactly as it was written than were the rural societies of the nineteenth century earlier.

Variation is key to the 1954 def. But singer-songwriter lyrics rarely vary - largely because we can listen to the recording again and again and correct ourselves.

So except for lesser forms like rugby songs (and now even these!), one key element of "folksong" has largely faded away. The same with "oral tradition."

Is what's left worth calling "folksong"? Obviously it depends on who you ask.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 04:03 PM

A little expansion on my earlier briefer attempts to give some meanings to the word 'folk' as applied to song. It's not exhaustive or definitive and there are obvious overlaps between some of them.

1) 1954
2) Songs written in the 1954 style or influenced by 1954 style.
3) Songs written by folk singers
4) Songs claimed to be folk by Tin Pan Alley and the media.
5) Songs perceived to be folk by 'the folk', i.e., the people who are not part of the sophisticated folk scene.

There is a delicious irony in some people's refusal to accept number 5.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 04:21 PM

Hi Jon,
Yes, a continuous living song tradition that hasn't had to be revived.

Possibles, Nursery songs, terrace chants, rugby songs, playground chants, carols. All of these have been variously influenced by commercial recordings over the last century, but earlier forms of folk song were also heavily influenced by commerce and managed to survive.

I suspect all of these to some extent have been hit by technology, but they are remarkably robust. One area particularly hit by commercial recordings is the nursery song. Too many parents now shove on a CD, which has the effect of standardising around the world, instead of singing the versions they had sung to them. Also those singing plastic books tend to use standard American versions. Another thing I've noticed is that what were mostly chanted rhymes in my day now have a tune, either a new one or one transferred from another song. Lots of new material though which is rapidly absorbed into the repertoire.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 04:30 PM

Load of old bollock Jim.

I doubt that more than 5% of renditions of First Time Ever I Saw Your Face reaches the beneficiaries of MaColl's estate.

Why?

Because folk singers sing it in folk clubs.

I've been playing in folk clubs for more years than a teenager like me cares to recall , but I haven't ever seen organisers pass the PRS forms round....


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 04:52 PM

Steve, I hadn't thought of the nursery songs and several other types you mention.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: frogprince
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 07:55 PM

Did anyone happen to notice that the original poster was just making an offhand joke which had little or nothing to do with the endless and futile arguments about the definition of folk that have been beaten to death here since the inception of the forum?


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 08:57 PM

Jim, so sorry you found my post patronising, but you still seem to have some difficulty in understanding abfairly simple statement that you chose to copy here, and still seem to wish to add a meaning that is clearly not there!

Unlike you, I have not resorted to being insulting, and let's talk about being patronising shall we, and look at your clear assumption that you are the definitive authority on 'folk' music, and the way you try to assume that no-one else knows a thing about the subject, or is entitled to an opinion. PerhapS when you get your dictionary out, you should look un the meaning of patronising, because the attitude you display here is patronising to the extreme!

Now, let's go back to the subject under discussion.

'Folk' music is a style, plain and simple. It describes the music of the indigenous population of a country, region or area. Hence Folk is a term used to describe the musical style of many different countries. As a term to describe a STYLE of music, it is therefore quite possible to have a 'Folk' song that was written yesterday.

I suspect Jim, that the authors and singers of old would be horrified by your attitude, as I'm sure they would wish to encourage others to do the same as they were doing, and create new 'Folk' songs.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Sep 14 - 09:17 PM

> 'Folk' music is a style, plain and simple.

Why should we believe that, to the exclusion of other definitions already provided on this thread?

Anyone convinced that their own understanding of "folk music" is obvious and indisputable might try to answer this challenge:

"Prove it."

(This should be good....)


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 03:43 AM

"I have not resorted to being insulting"
I find being patronised as insulting as anything I have siad - especially;y when you have repeated it as much as you have.
I may be wrong in what I say but I do have some experience in the subject.
Steve.
"Songs written by folk singers"
Which "folk singers" - if the term "folk" has lost its meaning on the club scene, then so has the term folk singer.
"the people who are not part of the sophisticated folk scene."
Depends what you mean - if you are talking about the general public who are no way involved in music and no nothing about it, it would be as insane to include their view of it into any definition.
If you are referring to the older generation of singers who are not part of the scene, it is our experience that they regarded folk songs as something apart from other types of songs they were aware of and often sang, though the terms they used were not necessarily those we use.   
Persnally, I find "there is a delicious irony in some people's refusal to accept that one", or even refer to it.
I have no interest in what either the media or Tin Pan Alley has to say about folk song unless it comes with some knowledge and understanding of the subject - ignorance or self-interest should never be a factor in defining something.
I think there is a great deal to be said of your following list, which are largely parodies, but I, like you, wonder if they have survived.
"Folk' music is a style, plain and simple."
No it isn't, why should it be?
National styles of performance vary wildly, once you start to cross borders they can become totally unrelated to one another.
People here are talking about 'Electric folk' - a thousand miles from the solo, unaccompanied voice that is the norm of folk music of the British Isles - that is the form in which we were introduced to folk song.
If a song is performed on operatic style it remains a folk song performed in operatic style.
George Butterworth's 'Banks of Green Willow', Delius's 'Unto Brig Fair and Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony No. 4 all use orchestrated folk songs, the styles no way resemble those that introduced us to the songs.
Peter Pears rendition of Britten's 'Lyke Wake Dirge' is a folk ballad sung in operatic style.
You can perform an operatic aria or a Schubert song or a pop song or a Country and Western number or a Lieder composition in a recognised folk style without any of them becoming folk songs.
The researched and well-established definitions you have been given all refer to the origins and transmission of folk songs - you want proof - call round sometime and I'll pull down a hundred or so books and journals dating from over a century ago to the present day - you have yet to provide one.
You talk about "experts" yet refer to non-involved people in the street.   
Sorry, not convinced in the slightest.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 03:59 AM

Lighter, I think we've been here before!

Now if I said to to you Rock is a musical style, Jazz is a musical style, Classical is a musical style, would you disagree? No, of course you would not.

Folk was the word coined to describe a musical style as 'Rap' has been more recently. Now I personally have no issue with the word 'Folk' being used to describe the style of a song written 300 years ago, or yesterday!

I note MGM Lion's comments above about the trades descriptions act, well, that's pretty well every folk club and festival countrywide, perhaps you and he might like to fund the test case?


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 05:42 AM

"I have not resorted to being insulting" jim carroll, hilarious.
are we to assume jim that you consider calling the snail an arrogant little twat complimentary, jim stop wasting everyones time go off and collect butterflies.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 06:00 AM

"Rock is a musical style, Jazz is a musical style, Classical is a musical style,"
Er no - none of them are - they each come with a myriad variety of styles, but each of them carry different connotations which reach far beyond those styles.
"jim stop wasting everyone's time go off and collect butterflies."
Stop behaving like a fascist and telling people what they should and should not do.
Stop interfering with the discussion, if you have anything to say of worth, say it and astound us with your knowledge and erudition!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 06:37 AM

Jim, er, yes, all of them are musical styles,and I was assuming that most readers of my post would be bright enough to realise that these words are 'catch all' terms and there are sub groups within those terms, as indeed is 'Folk'


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 06:58 AM

Dick was not 'fascistically telling anyone what to do', in fairness, Jim; merely pointing out quite accurately a mismatch between a declaration of your intent and your actual practice in one particular instance. Don't get into one of those sarcastic hysterical states over a trifle that so often mar some of your better arguments, now...

Best wishes

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 08:06 AM

"all of them are musical styles"
Then you must know that "style" does not define, only help identify.
The list below list from Wiki is is a fairly handy guide to what constitutes folk song types - for a fairly comprehensive referenced list of folk song titles, Roud pretty well has them covered.
"Don't get into one of those sarcastic hysterical states"
Thanks for the advice Mike - I'm afraid that Dick's behaviour is too much a part of an ongoing vendetta to be totally ignored - which is usually my first instinct
Must try harder.
Jim Carroll

War song
Anti-war song
Sea songs, including sea shanties
Drinking song
Work song
Love song
Child Ballads (tragic ballads)
Protest song
Murder ballad
Sporting song
Other folk music relates to social events:
Christmas carol
Pub session


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 09:10 AM

jim, there is no vendetta, i have respect for your collecting activities, i am trying to point out the foolishness of insulting other members and how it undermines the occasions when you have something of value to say.
in my opinion, folk song can be defined when new songs get taken up by the public who are outside of the uk folk revival,and assumed to be trad, examples in ireland are dirty old town, caledonia, song for ireland, fiddlers green, these songs have been taken up by members of the public who are not aware of folk clubs , or the 1954 definition, this does not mean that these songs are not also sung in folk clubs, but in my opinion it is when they capture the minds of the "folk", who are not folk song afficianados


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 09:18 AM

Say what you have to say on the subject - stop adressing me - leave me alone
I am not the slightest bit interested in whether or not you respect me
Back off
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 09:31 AM

Really no need to be so ungracious, Jim. Unworthy of you.

May I, rather than repeat it here, draw attention to a post touching on this 'definition' topic which I have just posted on the simultaneously ongoing "What makes a new song a folksong?" thread.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 12:57 PM

'if you are talking about the general public who are no way involved in music and know nothing about it, it would be as insane to include their view of it into any definition.'

You obviously have no knowledge of lexicography, Jim. Lexicographers only go to experts for definitions of academic and technical words. The vast majority of definitions are drawn from trawling through the media to ascertain what common usage is, and this is largely governed by the man in the street's usage (the Folk)!


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 02:45 PM

"Really no need to be so ungracious, Jim. Unworthy of you."
Wasn't addressing you Mike
Trying to get the Old Man of The Sea off my back - he's been there for over a year
Jim Varroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 03:41 PM

Some damn song I heard in the cantina and can't quite remember.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,You English
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 06:03 PM

Up north of Watford Gap, 'folk' is a commonly used term for 'people'. A people's song, I'd surmise, is one that people care to hear without having to buy anything, or can play effectively on the cheapest of instruments, if not just the voice. Great skill is not necessary, alcohol often is.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 06:13 PM

Music of the people?

That's the argument we gave when for young people, we young people played punk in the late '70s.

You could argue that when half a dozen guitars at a folk night represent £20k of value, said values are skewed from the original.

Which is fine. Because music is an abstract. You don't have to test lyrics against your more political and social values. If you do, you bastardise the genre. I once told Roy Bailey he was a stupid armchair socialist but I still liked the noise he made.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 08 Sep 14 - 12:07 PM

I detect a lot of bitterness in Jim's unshakable and seemingly solo stance. Just about everyone here has rightly (IMO) expressed their admiration for Jim's work in folk song. I find the situation somewhat sad so I'm dropping out.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 Sep 14 - 12:54 PM

very sad.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 09 Sep 14 - 06:06 AM

So what have we learned from this debate?
Prior to 1954 there was much discussion and argument about what folk song means.
A group of enthusiasts decided what they thought were the qualifcations which a song needed to have to be a boni fide folk song.
The argument ever since has been did they pick the right qualifications,and did they have right to set those qualifications.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Sep 14 - 06:16 AM

"Prior to 1954 there was much discussion and argument about what folk song means."
Not really - It was more or less a recognised genre from the beginning of the 20th centry - '54 attempted to put it into a recognisable form.
"A group of enthusiasts decided what they thought were the qualifcations which a song needed to have to be a boni fide folk song"
Again - not really - "bona-fide" was never an issue because the matter wansn't really disputed.
Much of '54 and what came before it was confirmed as having validity by the B.B.C. project in Britain, The Work carried out by th Irish Folk Department in rural Ireland and The Library of Congress work in the U.S.
"I find the situation somewhat sad so I'm dropping out."
I'd much rather you stayed here and actually responded to some of the points I am making.
Refusing to do so tends to confirm them as far as I'm concerned.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 09 Sep 14 - 06:30 AM

"It was more or less a recognised genre"
So there wasn't total agreement?
That it needed to put in a recognisable form implies that there was debate and it needed clarification.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Sep 14 - 06:37 AM

Steve
"seemingly solo stance"
Please do not feel sad on my behalf because I can't convince a number of folkies of something far to well researched, established and documented (particularly Steve Roud) that it is what it is and needs no justification.
As for my 'bitterness' - if it exists at all it is in the fact that folk song has lost a strong ally in the shape of the clubs that first opened the door to a wonderful new world, do different from the music I was listing to which is now being passed off as folk.
Describing my stance as "solo" says little of your knowledge of the research work that has gone into and continues into folk song as I understand it, unless, of course, you are saying that the research side of folk songs in Britain has abandoned all efforts of defining it, as have the clubs.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Sep 14 - 06:52 AM

"As for my 'bitterness' - if it exists at all it is in the fact that folk song has lost a strong ally in the shape of the clubs that first opened the door to a wonderful new world, do different from the music I was listing to which is now being passed off as folk."
you are unqualified to talk about the music in folk clubs because by your own ad mission you rarely visit them.
"Not really - It was more or less a recognised genre from the beginning of the 20th centry - '54 attempted to put it into a recognisable form." no it wasnt, by whom was it a recognised genre, stop making up things and passing them off as truth.
it was either a recognised genre or it wasnt[ it cant be more or less] and you have not provided any evidence it was a recognised genre.
furthermore the 1954 definition is not recognised world wide, you r statement in a previous post is just another peice of fiction you are attempting to pass of as truth, please desist.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 09 Sep 14 - 08:13 AM

So I said to him, I said "1954 my lad!" He said "I think Martin Carthy was too young to be a performer back then?"


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Sep 14 - 08:23 AM

Doesn't answer a thing Muskie and your contempt for the elderly remains just that
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 09 Sep 14 - 08:58 AM

Jim,You undoubtedly have a deep love of folk song,I respect and recognise
that.
Therein lies the problem,you have formed your views on what it means to you.Those views and opinions are very important to you.
You are very protective of them,which can make your counter replies to those who challenge them aggressive and often insulting,sadly a tit for tat quarrel then breaks out.
Neither party wins an argument on those lines and loses dignity and respect.
Swallow pride and agree to differ,the next time someone pokes the fire, ignore them.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 09 Sep 14 - 11:09 AM

Jim,
I'm dropping out simply because we are discussing separate things as if they were the same. I am very happy with the 54 definition as it now stands and I use it in much of my work, even though there are some grey areas. As I suspect do most of the contributors here who are not being frivolous.

The problem is you don't seem able to accept that the English language is evolving all the time and words can have new meanings. That doesn't mean we have to drop the old meanings.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 09 Sep 14 - 11:11 AM

Contempt? Naw, we young 'uns have a duty to humour them....

The real young 'uns don't have a duty to wear their trousers up to their tits though in order put a name to the music many of them are producing.

Derrick. He loves it really. He and I agree on some things and get together to shout down fascists and bigots. He shouts me down for calling my songs "folk" and I shout him down for assuming librarians understand the contents of text books.

Me & my big mouth.. That slipped out so easily.....


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Sep 14 - 11:17 AM

"Neither party wins an argument on those lines and loses dignity and respect."
Derrick - if I'd formed my views of what makes a folk song purely on my love for them, you might have a point.
I haven't - I have attempted to back up my conclusions with a great deal of research, the most important being the thirty odd years we spent recording and interviewing traditional singing and documenting what they had to say anout the song I regard as 'folk'
It's all up for grabs in the National Library in London and at least two archives in Dublin.
As far as I'm concerned, by just "agreeing to differ" I would be selling out the people who took the time and effort to pass on their songs and what they thought of, besides making us no different than coin or beer-mat collectors.
What opinions a small grou of folkies hold of what I do and think really doesn't interest me in the long run.
This is a forum on which we should be able to discuss our ideas of folk song, lore and music freely - that fact that some people find the expression of views contrary to their own unacceptable and find it necessary to shout be down and "stick to collecting butterfies" disturbs me far more than anybody's opinion of me.
It indicates a suppression of freedom of speech and thought on what I believe to be a valuable open forum.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 09 Sep 14 - 11:49 AM

WELL STOP SUPPRESSING ANY VIEW YOU EITHER DISAGREE WITH OR PLAIN DON'T UNDERSTAND THEN!

Sorry, you've got me shouting now.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 09 Sep 14 - 12:18 PM

a misquote from jim again i said
"jim stop wasting everyones time go off and collect butterflies"
you are wasting everyones time when you attempt to deny that you insulted anyone, when in one of your posts you call the snail an arrogant little prat.
my quote is not attempting to stop you speaking freely if you are prepared to be civil, it is saying learn some manners or go somewhere else.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,Derrick
Date: 09 Sep 14 - 12:21 PM

I'm taking the same route as Steve for much the same reasons as he is.
Jim has decided what he he believes words to mean, backed up by many years of research, and is immovable on the subject and seemingly impervious to evolution to change in the use of language.
He says he doesn't really care what other people think and seems to think respecting that someone has a different opinion is selling out.
Keep up the good work Jim,even if I don't agree with all of your views


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 09 Sep 14 - 01:34 PM

One sung by the Full English.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 09 Sep 14 - 02:40 PM

"He says he doesn't really care what other people think "
No such thing - I said "What opinions a small group of folkies hold of what I do and think really doesn't interest me in the long run" - Anybody willing to criticise my woek with a view to improving it iterests me very much - that is not happening here - your suggestion that I should agree to differ and by implication, go away, doesn't interest me in the slightest other than to disturb me on a forum where we are supposed to be able to discuss these things.
"think respecting that someone has a different opinion is selling out."
Please don't misrepresent what I said, accidentally or otherwise.
I undertook to record songs from source singers using the argument that if they weren't recorded they would die out when the singers died.
That has nothing whatever to do with my shutting up for the sake of peace and quiet, which is what I would be doing and is what you suggested I do.
"my quote is not attempting to stop you speaking freely"
"evolution to change in the use of language"
Such cange needs far more than a small pressure group attempting to bring about a chand in order to take over a seat already occupied.
"go off and collect butterflies"
You are probably the most arrogant, ill mannered and self-promoting individual on this forum - you have no compunction in insulting people and have on many occasions
Kindly mind your own business and do not to tell me how to talk to people - especially somebody who has no compunction in insulting me, and has done in the past.
I don't agree with Brian, sometimes over-enthusiastically, but I respect both his work for folk music and his opinions, otherwise I would ignore him as I am trying to do you, who has none of those qualities.   
Mind your own business - unless Bryan has P.Md you asking you to stick up on his behalf - mind your own business - we really do have nothing to say to each other.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 14 - 03:26 AM

jim, the fact that you continually insult other members when they disagree with you is every members business, apart from Bryan you regularly insult KEITH A.
"Mind your own business - unless Bryan has P.Md you asking you to stick up on his behalf - mind your own business - we really do have nothing to say to each other.
Jim Carroll"
The quote from your post illustrates that it is you that is attempting to tell me what to do"mind your own business".
next,you insult me and my work here
"I don't agree with Brian, sometimes over-enthusiastically, but I respect both his work for folk music and his opinions, otherwise I would ignore him as I am trying to do you, who has none of those qualities."
so the fact that i have organised a folk festival for 3 years, organised folk clubs, performed and been booked regularly at folk clubs[ in the case of Stockton Folk club 25 times in 50 years] and folk festivals is not deserving of respect and means I do not have similiar qualities as BRYAN who organises a folk club in Lewes, all i can say is this is yet another illogical and rude statement from your good self?.
Jim, please l


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 14 - 03:49 AM

herE you are insulting Keith A,[ for my part whether i agree with Keith or not i do noty respons with childish unpleasant insults.Jim Carroll, I meant you,and here is the evidence, to the Snail, "you arrogant little prat". and another
Subject: RE: BS: BDS of Israel 'Gathering Weight.'
From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 03 Mar 14 - 04:57 AM

"I ignore nothing as you know, Jim, & deplore Israel's actions as much as you."
Yes - we know you don't like olive trees being cut down - which is about as serious an accusation as you have ever made of Israel.
You have allowed Keith the moron to make your case for you and leapt to his defence whenever he got into trouble
On occasion you have resorted suggesting that those of us who feel strongly about Israel's behaviour as anti-Semites and "Jew-baiters"
You are as sad a case as he is a disgusting one
Jim Carroll Subject: RE: BS: BDS of Israel 'Gathering Weight.'
From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 04 Mar 14 - 07:47 AM

The Jerusalem Post - my apologies?
The film must have been a load of shit in that case.
All the points in the German paper were fully covered by the film itself
The film was not about Palestine - it was about the effects of an apartheid ethnic cleansing policy has on ordinary human beings.
One of the most telling moments was the mistrust shown towards Palestinian politicians who muscled in on the press interviews.
You can dredge up any dissenting reviews you wish - the film said it all
It is a superbly honest film and has been recognised as such with world-wide acclaim

"5 Broken Cameras" has been screened at a number of film festivals and won the award for best Israeli documentary at the 2012 Jerusalem Film Festival. It also took the prize for best documentary directing in the World Cinema category at the Sundance Film Festival.
It was nominated for an Academy Award in the documentary feature category this year, but lost to "Searching for Sugarman.""
Take your ethnic cleansing apologisms elsewhere you deplorable toe-rag.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Sep 14 - 04:02 AM

I have had enough of this
Every posting you have made to this thread has been aimed directly at me and most of them have been a personal attack, personally insulting - exactly what you accuse me of doing.
You have contributed noting to the topic under this discussion, but have made this and the other one a part of your obsessive vendetta.
It will stop now - if it doesn't I will ask one of the adjudicators to order you to stop.
I'm far too old to cope with a cyber-stalker.
You have been far nastier on one thread than mot people could possibly have been in a whole lifetime.
Take you unpleasantness and peronal attacks elsewhere - if you have anything to say on the subject, please do so, but do not address them to me
I'll post this up on both threads
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: frogprince
Date: 10 Sep 14 - 09:55 AM

Y'know...
Long ago I knew two preacher who argued for years over whether Jesus was not able to sin, or able to not sin.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 10 Sep 14 - 10:05 AM

I've just come back from a weekend at Swanage FOLK festival, where I've observed a large number of people enjoying 'folk' music of a wide variety of styles, from bluegrass and Americana, traditional song, new songs written in a traditional style, folk/rock etc etc.

Disappointed to find that neither Lighter or MGM Lion have responded to my challenge to fund a test case with trading standards!


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 14 - 01:56 PM

the facts are there, for everyone to see, Jim Carroll continually insults people who disagree with him.
here is an example of a contribution to this thread that is not apersonal attack or personally insulting.Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Good Soldier Schweik - PM
Date: 07 Sep 14 - 09:10 AM

jim, there is no vendetta, i have respect for your collecting activities, i am trying to point out the foolishness of insulting other members and how it undermines the occasions when you have something of value to say.
in my opinion, folk song can be defined when new songs get taken up by the public who are outside of the uk folk revival,and assumed to be trad, examples in ireland are dirty old town, caledonia, song for ireland, fiddlers green, these songs have been taken up by members of the public who are not aware of folk clubs , or the 1954 definition, this does not mean that these songs are not also sung in folk clubs, but in my opinion it is when they capture the minds of the "folk", who are not folk song afficianados


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 10 Sep 14 - 02:23 PM

Interestingly, I find the definition of 'folk song' a lot more clear than the definition of most musical 'genres' such as jazz, rock, 'world music', and even classical. Of course there is always overlap.

I think that Jim Carroll has done a lot on this thread to throw clarity on the term and I value that.

I don't really put incredible energy into defining musical 'genres' (although I do think it's important to be clear about the folk process that makes a song into a folk song).

My dilemma (I once started a thread on this but it didn't go anywhere---maybe I should bring it back) is more of a practical one.

I'm involved in trying to set up a radio station in Canada. And one of the requirements of the CRTC (Canadian Radio and Television Commission) is to have a certain %age of songs that are Canadian content.   For what they call "Category 2"...which is pop, rock, C&W, easy listening, etc. it has to be 35%. For category 3 it is only 12%.   Category 3 includes something called "Folk or Folk Oriented".   A lot of what I play spans the line between pop/rock, country, and 'folk oriented'. I'd like to be able to claim it's 'folk oriented' so I only need 12% Canadian content.

Are you with me?

So my question than becomes, what is 'folk oriented'. The only assistance I can get is that if the majority of people think of it as folk or folk oriented, then I can get away with calling it that.

So I'd love to hear what people in Mudcat classify as folk oriented.

I have no problem defining what I would definitely call 'folk'.

If I started a new thread and say, listed about 100 songs that span that boundary between pop and so-called 'folk', how many of you who have contributed to this thread would feel any energy in checking off which ones you would place in the category of 'folk oriented'.....again, knowing that CRTC is NOT providing any kind of definition.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 14 - 03:50 PM

,larry.
scarborough fair, dirty old town,the town i loved so well, wild rover,coalminers daughter,dark as the dungeon,kilgarry mountains, all around my hat, first time ever i saw your face,good night irene,all of jez lowes songs..fiddlers green,little red rooster,yesterday,wild mountain thyme , rare ould times,fields of athenry,barbara allen, caledonia


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 10 Sep 14 - 04:11 PM

Good Soldier Schweik: Some of those are clearly folk. OThers are pretty clearly 'folk oriented'.   Only "YEsterday" and possibly Coalminer's Daughter (C&W) would be classified as pop or country. (although a few I'm not familiar with...such as Jez Lowe's songs).

Do you agree?


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 10 Sep 14 - 04:30 PM

I realize I sort of 'hi-jacked' this thread by introducing my own agenda; for that I apologize. I'll go back to the original thread "CRTC Category of 'Folk or Folk Oriented'" and bring it back at some point.

So let me say something I hope is more relevant to this thread.

It seems to me that any definition really does depend upon it's function.   So "folk" from a collectors need---where a fairly strict definition of folk needs to apply, may be different from a 'folk club' organizer (who may accept any kind of 'acoustic' music), which may be different from somebody who is learning certain songs, etc.

The PRinceton Traditional Music Festival, which I've been to a few times, doesn't even use the word 'folk'......but they are fairly clear about their definition of 'tradtional music', and it doesn't generally include modern folk....yet a couple years ago I heard a traditional group do a great rendition of a Kinks song.

So the question would be, for what purpose are we wanting to define 'folk song'.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 14 - 04:36 PM

"So the question would be, for what purpose are we wanting to define 'folk song." because we have nothing better to do.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST,Seonaid
Date: 10 Sep 14 - 07:31 PM

And then there's the definition Garrison Keillor uses --
"A folk song is one you learned from someone else, and remember the words to, mostly."

Folk songs and tales are to be cherished because they explain ways in which groups of people understood their world and managed their experiences and expectations. What with modern media saturation, we may never have a time again in which a true (i.e., localized) "folk" culture can flourish. But we can still enjoy, and learn from, the existing treasure troves.

BTW, to the list up there, I'd add:
Lullabies
Spirituals
Nonsense songs


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: kendall
Date: 10 Sep 14 - 07:38 PM

I didn't mean to "Drop a clod in the churn" but, maybe I did. I guess I was a bit perverse.

It's all opinion, and one is no better or worse than another.
My own opinion is simple. Folk music is traditionally acoustic, and handed down from years ago.It's about lyrics, not hot licks.
Lord Randall is one. Then, in recent years, Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald will certainly be a real folk song. In my opinion, it is now.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Lighter
Date: 10 Sep 14 - 07:51 PM

> we may never have a time again in which a true (i.e., localized) "folk" culture can flourish

Traditional songs and tunes in Britain and America weren't usually very localized. A few were, but these seem to have generated relatively little interest either among the "folk" or the scholars.

> Folk songs and tales are to be cherished because they explain ways in which groups of people understood their world and managed their experiences and expectations.

Popular literature and song does exactly the same thing, even if most of their attitudes are promoted by the mass media - which runs on profits that are eagerly contributed by the entertainment-buying public - who almost invariably get what they want(scary, isn't it?).

If you're suggesting that folk music and lore should be valued primarily for their historical interest, few would object. Unfortunately, as this thread shows, many would deride.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 14 - 11:39 PM

lrry, style wise they may not be folk, but the fact that all of them with the exception of yesterday ad coal miners daughter have in my experience been mistaken by singers[outside of the uk folk revival] as trad, means that they sound like folk songs.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 12:05 AM

I thought that Barbara Allen (the variants have been studied to death), Scarborough Faire, and Wild Mountain Thyme were traditional. Am I wrong?


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 03:05 AM

"I'm involved in trying to set up a radio station in Canada. "
It seems to me that anybody looking at Canadian Folk Music is fishing in a very rich pool; it really depends on how wide you want to cast your nets.
Not only are there plentiful recorded examples of Canadian national music collected by researchers like Edith Fowke and Helen Creightion, but you have masses of French, Irish and Scots material to draw from.
I was lucky enough to spend some time with collector and researcher, Margaret Bennett a couple of months ago and she gave a talk here on some aspects of the Scots material to be found there; she gave us a copy of one of her recent books containing a CD of one of her singers, Jerome Downey, from Newfoundland.
Edith Fowke's collections include an overview of the entire repertoire, Irish, Scots, French Canadian and native material, surely still available there.
The richness of some of the instrumental music is staggering, with traditional fiddle players like Jean Carignan and the recently deceased Rufus Guinchard.
Some of Edith Fowkes singers, notably O.J. Abbott, are well worth a look-at for singing.
On top of this, of course, you have the French, Scots and Irish language material - the latter still to be found as a singing tradition in the Newfoundland Outports.
As I say, a very rich pool as far as the tradition goes.
I can't speak for the revival side of things, but I know Calgary has an annual Folk Festival - looking at lists of performers, that seems quite heavily U.S, C&W biased - hard to tell from this distance.
It's a bit unfair to say "If it were me working with a radio station", but If it were me.....!
Certainly don't think I would have too much trouble finding material to fill the programmes - without having to leave home, but if you chose to, you have that wonderful source over the border in the Great lakes Area and down the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.
Don't suppose you're looking for a research assistant!!!
A good literary guide to Canadian songs is to be found in The Penguin Book of Canadian Folk Songs edited by Edith Fowke, or any of the books she and Helen Creighton produced from their own Collections.
Edith also co-edited a fine collection of American protest songs, with New York singer/songwriter, Joe Glazer.
Bottomless pit"I thought that Barbara Allen (the variants have been studied to death), Scarborough Faire, and Wild Mountain Thyme were traditional. Am I wrong?"
No, you're not though both Scarborough Fair has been faffed about with somewhat by the pop industry - plenty of examples of far superior trad versions to choose from though.
Barbara Allen is the most popular and widely travelled traditional ballad in the English language (200 plus versions in Bronson alone)
Samuel Pepys refered to it as 'old' in the 17th century.
American singer and collector Jean Ritchie used it as a collecting tool for drawing out old songs from the singers:when she was collecting in Ireland in the 1950s.
"I used the song Barbara Allen as a collecting tool because everybody knew it. When I would ask people to sing me some of their old songs they would sometimes sing 'Does Your Mother Come From Ireland', or something about shamrocks.   But if I asked if they knew 'Barbara Allen', immediately they knew exactly what kind of song I was talking about and they would bring out beautiful old things that matched mine; and were variants of the songs that I knew in Kentucky.   It was like coming home".
"Disappointed to find that neither Lighter or MGM Lion have responded to my challenge to fund a test case with trading standards!"
Why bother - the folkies have naused the scene up so much nowadays that it would be a total waste of time - hard to imagine a legal team willing to take on such an enterprise - proves nothing Bounty.
Proof of how far down the pan folk has desended is to be had from your own list:
"from bluegrass and Americana, traditional song, new songs written in a traditional style, folk/rock etc etc."
All that's missing from your list is heavy metal at one end and Wagner and Mahler at the other to make it a full definition of "music"
Pretty fair evidence that 'Holby City' and 'Lewis' have more to offer than a night at a folk event, I'd say.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Larry The Radio Guy
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 03:50 AM

Thanks Jim,

Actually, during my younger days I took quite an interest in traditional Canadian folk music, having started The Edmonton Folk Club which attempted to present some of that richness, focusing on music of various cultural groups.

I was very familiar with that Edith Fowke book, and loved the "Folk Songs of Ontario" record of songs she had collected....which included the great O.J. Abbott.

But alas.......not being very good at focusing, I went a different route, becoming even more and more eclectic as I aged.

As much as I'd love you as a research assistant for my radio program, my radio program (Musical Therapy) is about the therapeutic aspects of music---and it spans a wide range (including heavy metal and Wagner.Mahler). But a lot of singer-songwriter material, because of it's focus on lyrics.

Folk music, in so much as it brings cultures together and also communicates across cultures, can certainly be therapeutic.

So.......yes.   At some point I think I'd like to do a program on folk/traditional music and therapy.   Any thoughts about that?

(And I love JEan Carignan).

-Larry


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 04:22 AM

So I says to him, I says..

"Stop calling Vivaldi classical music! It's baroque, as per the 1754 definition!"


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 06:55 AM

'Why bother - the folkies have naused the scene up so much nowadays that it would be a total waste of time - hard to imagine a legal team willing to take on such an enterprise - proves nothing Bounty.
Proof of how far down the pan folk has desended is to be had from your own list:
"from bluegrass and Americana, traditional song, new songs written in a traditional style, folk/rock etc etc."
All that's missing from your list is heavy metal at one end and Wagner and Mahler at the other to make it a full definition of "music"
Pretty fair evidence that 'Holby City' and 'Lewis' have more to offer than a night at a folk event, I'd say.'


Oh Jim, I've got to take you to task on that one,
firstly, I was not of course expecting a response from Lighter or MGM Lion, but it was to illustrate the point that the definition of 'Folk' has moved on from 60 years ago.
Secondly, do you really not see that if everyone took the same negative view that you express above, the music you have worked so tirelessly to protect and preserve will die. Fortunately, the majority are (from the clear evidence of clubs and festivals) happy to accept a wider definition and as long as there are people performing traditional songs as part of that wider mix then those songs will be preserved.

John


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 07:08 AM

"'Folk' has moved on from 60 years ago"
The definition has not moved anywhere unless someone has slipped one in when I haven't been looking - there is no existing alternative definition.
What passes for 'folk' in the revival has moved not so much on but away from its roots and the music that I love has all but died exactly because of this.
Sorry - wouldn't go near a folk fesival that puts on folk/rock without protective clothing.
Never found it particularly approachable when it was popular - nowadays it's downright an anachronistic - sort of like the punks who were still hanging around the corner of Kings Road and Royal Square when we left London..
If Walter Pardon were to miraculously turn up at a folk club today he'd find himself locked up in one of these immigration compounds waiting until they could find out where he came from so they could ship him back there
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 07:44 AM

Jim, definitions change because of popular usage, ask a linguist.

I'm quite happy to accept that you don't like folk/rock as a musical style, we all have different tastes, but a matter of taste is just that, so what I really fail to understand is why you want the music you've worked to protect to die, surely, whether you like the 'presentation' or not, you should be happy that traditional songs are still being sung? (incidentally, there was lots of traditional unacompanied song in the mix at Swanage last weekend!)

Walter Pardon was very happy to embrace new technology, making recordings and films of his songs, and my understanding was that he was delighted to share his songs, so I suspect you're way off the mark with your last statement. If he walked into a folk club today I'm sure he would be delighted to find people singing his songs and keeping them alive!

John


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 09:11 AM

"Jim, definitions change because of popular usage, ask a linguist"
Yes they do
Unfortunately folk has never become popular enough to bring about such changes
The term simply doesn't have popular usage when applied to song and any changes have been brought about by self-interested groups who either don't know or don't care what the term means when applied to song.
As I have constantly said, bring me a new definition and we might be able to discuss it - constant and unqualified repetition of the same points seems to be getting us nowhere, very, very slowly
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 09:50 AM

'Unfortunately folk has never become popular enough to bring about such changes
The term simply doesn't have popular usage when applied to song and any changes have been brought about by self-interested groups who either don't know or don't care what the term means when applied to song.'


You are so wrong there Jim, have you not noticed thousands flocking to FOLK festivals up and down the country?

'bring me a new definition and we might be able to discuss it'
You've had several from various posters, including me! but from your responses to my posts, it is clear that you choose not to understand another's point of view. You yourself posted a definition earlier in this thread, which you said you agreed with, only to twist it and add words that were not there and try to change the meaning of what was, when it was pointed out to you that this definition clearly encompassed new music.

Discussion only has a purpose if both parties are prepared to have an open mind! You are absolutely right, YOUR 'constant and unqualified repetition of the same points seems to be getting us nowhere' so I'll leave you alone in your insular little world now whilst your music dies, and I go and enjoy my 'Folk' music!


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 10:06 AM

Jim won't go near a festival that doesn't provide protective clothing when folk rock is on? You told me off for referring to old men with their trousers up to their tits with a finger in their ear singing out of tune....

You sneer at today's folk and expect people to treat something that is part of where entertainment got the words and vague idea of tunes from as being superior to that which is actually entertaining to most people?

You are no Philip Larkin. Not everybody can be a poet and librarian at the same time.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 10:16 AM

There seems to me to be a degree of cross-purposes in these exchanges. Jim favours a particular interpretation of the term "folk music". BH et al seem to be immoderately denouncing him for not accepting their gloss on his interpretation, constantly asserting that he has got to accept their emendations of and extensions to his understanding of the term to include elements which he doesn't feel to be part of the discourse to which he is referring.

Why should he? It's simply begging the question to assure him that the meaning has changed [with the implication that for some unspecified reason change=progress], so he'd just better adjust. Why not try to take his points on board, instead of sticking so pertinaciously to their own glosses as being somehow definitive?

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 11:08 AM

'BH et al seem to be immoderately denouncing him for not accepting their gloss on his interpretation, constantly asserting that he has got to accept their emendations of and extensions to his understanding of the term'

actually MGM Lion, if you look back through this, and the other similar thread, you'll find that the majority of my posts have been questioning things Jim has said, so perhaps it is the other way round?

The difference between us is simple, Jim believes that folk music died when the oral transmission of songs stopped and there can therefore be no new folk music, I believe, based on evidence I see with my own eyes all around me, that the process is alive and well but has changed along with society.

As for 'denouncing' him, Jim has made it perfectly clear in no uncertain terms, that he does not like my favoured 'style' when I am performing (In case you don't know, I front a folk/rock band with a largely traditional based repertoire) and as I've pointed out to him, that is simply a matter of personal taste, but I can tell you that in doing what I do, I'm bringing traditional song to the attention of a much wider audience than the solo unacompanied singer. You'll also note that I have on more than one occasion, acknowledged the debt we all owe to the work of Jim and the like, so who's 'denouncing' who?

John


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 11:12 AM

i have defined folk songs and how new songs imo can possibly become folk songs, what is so funny is that my definition turns out to be very similiar to jims, but because I make it[ the so called dreaded cyber stalker], jim has to say that i have nothing of value to say, the joke is that since i am saying the same thing as him, that make his evaluation of no worth, its reminiscent of alice in wonderland.
so my evaluation was this when new songs get taken up by people who are not folk afficianados or who are not part of the folk revival and the singers assume they are traditional, that is my defintion of a new song possibly becoming a folk song , examples in my experience are dirty old town, fiddlers green, shoals of herring, caledonia.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 11:21 AM

Well, BH/John, my use of the term "cross-purposes" showed that I didn't think the denunciation was just a one-way process. Jim has been pretty denunciatory also, to be sure.

Sorry, but I don't know your actual identity or your work or the name of the group you front, but it sounds very interesting. Anything of yours I could access on YouTube or somewhere? Should be most interested to hear you perform.

Just sing traditional stuff myself. My YouTube channel is still up & running... if of any interest to you, URL is

http://www.youtube.com/user/mgmyer

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 11:22 AM

"You sneer at today's folk "
No - I argue with those who suggest it is folk - no more.
My reference to folk rock refers to the usage of folk song which has been totally stripped of its original function - that of communicating ideas, information and emotions verbally and replacing it with musical accompaniments which are lifted from pop music forms.
I confess freely, I detest the aggressively arrogant attitude displayed by modern pop musicians that music has to be delivered at a level I find unbearable and, I understand, detrimental to the hearing.
The volume at which this music is played, I find both unpleasant and unhealthy.
I find it offensive when it is applied to folk songs.
Sorry and all that - sound pollution is one of mt things.
"have you not noticed thousands flocking to FOLK festivals up and down the country"
No I haven't but I am aware of the many millions who don't.
"You've had several from various posters, including me!"
No I haven't - I don't count "anything that takes place in a folk club", or "anything I care to call folk song" definitions.
Nothing else apart from these
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 11:47 AM

thousands attend cambridge, towersey, chippenham, sidmouth, whitby, folk festivals, pleae keep up to date jim Carroll.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 11:57 AM

"pleae keep up to date jim Carroll"
If you can't address me without the aggression - don't
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 11:59 AM

Ah!, you aren't talking about folk music after all! You are talking about a musical style!

You should have said.

Silly.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 12:01 PM

MGM Lion, just had a quick look, and actually, I've come across your stuff before when looking for things on youtube, Good stuff :)

And as you kindly asked, The band is called The Bounty Hounds, and here's a couple of links for you, Blackleg Miner from our CD launch last year,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jO4PrQZgahA

And one of my songs about John Chapman, the peddlar of Swaffham, from Ely Folk Festival a couple of years back,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiNXR6I0GIU

If you like what you hear, you'll find lots on Pete Simmonds youtube channel, put The Bounty Hounds Moira Furnace in the youtube search bar. You'll even some 'fan' videos from various other festivals if you dig around.


John


And Jim, '"have you not noticed thousands flocking to FOLK festivals up and down the country"
No I haven't'
   Perhaps you should get out more!


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 12:16 PM

no aggression, just a statement of fact, thousands attend the festivals i named , please keep up to date.
you make statements about folk clubs yet you visit them rarely, you make statements about folk festivals,yet thousands attend them, what is aggressive? if you say something not accurate, you must not interpret a correction as being aggressive, it is just a correction.
i will carry on correcting any more inaccurate statements made by anybody,that includes you.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 01:09 PM

"you make statements about folk clubs yet you visit them rarely,"
Virtually every posting you have made on one of these threads has been aimed directly and has been aggressive and ill mannered
A large majority on the other have been of a similar nature
That is stalking
If you continue with this I will continue to ignore you - get a grip
"Perhaps you should get out more!" heard nothing recently to encourage me to do this and your list does not help.
I stopped going to most clubs when I came out without having heard
anything resembling a folk song - I stuck to the few where I knew I could.
Festivals are no substitute for local clubs - not available to everybody and tend to remove the possibility of involving the local people necessary to ensure that folk song has some sort of future.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 01:33 PM

Many thanks, John. Good, lively work. I like your lady fiddler. I live near Ely, & used to sing with one of the festival organisers, Ruth Bramley, who is a neighbour, whom you probably know. I rather gave up clubs & festivals some years back: haven't so much energy these days. But I liked your videos & will seek out some more. Glad you liked mine.

All best

≈Michael≈


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 01:35 PM

how do you define an aggressive post?
I think you are seeing aggression where there is not any, my posts are correcting some of your numerous inaccurate statements, what is aggressive about that?meanwhile you have insulted me by suggesting that ruuning a festival for 3 years and running sessions and running folk clubs is not of worth, it is you that needs to get a grip.


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 02:14 PM

Liked your High Germany + reels track too, John. All good lively traditional folk just like in the good ole times, wot!

So cheer up, me lads, let your ❤❤❤❤❤ never fail...!

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Musket
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 04:40 PM

Get a room


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 11 Sep 14 - 06:27 PM

Hi Michael, we're probably running the risk of being accused of hijacking this thread here! Thank you for your kind comments, I'm only just down the road in Bury St Edmunds, and yes, I know Ruth. In fact the 'Hounds' are doing an unplugged set as the December guests at Ely Folk Club, perhaps we might get to meet then?

Jo is indeed a great fiddler, sadly she has recently left the band, (no animosity I hasten to add, and she will still make the odd guest appearance with us) The good news though, is that we've brought in master melodeon man Alex Goldsmith (formerly with Mawkin-Causley)into the band to replace Jo, so onwards and upwards :)

John


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Sep 14 - 07:48 AM

interesting debate !! but..... no closer to defining what is a folk song then ???


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Sep 14 - 07:56 AM

John - Have arranged with Ruth to come to Ely on 16 Dec. Much look fwd to meeting you.

≈Michael≈


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Bounty Hound
Date: 15 Sep 14 - 08:54 AM

I'll look forward to that too Michael :)


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Subject: RE: Definition of folk song
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Sep 14 - 09:22 AM

> no closer to defining

It's been done, if you'll look.

Few seem to care however.


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