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Folklore: Has the folk Process died?

Iains 17 Nov 19 - 04:08 AM
The Sandman 17 Nov 19 - 04:13 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 Nov 19 - 04:17 AM
Steve Shaw 17 Nov 19 - 06:24 AM
Backwoodsman 17 Nov 19 - 07:03 AM
Dave the Gnome 17 Nov 19 - 07:13 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 17 Nov 19 - 07:13 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 17 Nov 19 - 07:17 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 17 Nov 19 - 07:46 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 17 Nov 19 - 07:55 AM
Dave the Gnome 17 Nov 19 - 08:08 AM
The Sandman 17 Nov 19 - 08:40 AM
Iains 17 Nov 19 - 08:50 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 17 Nov 19 - 09:24 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 17 Nov 19 - 09:26 AM
Big Al Whittle 17 Nov 19 - 10:14 AM
GUEST,HiLo 17 Nov 19 - 10:19 AM
Iains 17 Nov 19 - 10:24 AM
Mo the caller 17 Nov 19 - 10:52 AM
Howard Jones 17 Nov 19 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,patriot 17 Nov 19 - 11:25 AM
GUEST,jag 17 Nov 19 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,HiLo 17 Nov 19 - 11:48 AM
Iains 17 Nov 19 - 11:50 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 17 Nov 19 - 11:51 AM
Iains 17 Nov 19 - 12:03 PM
Big Al Whittle 17 Nov 19 - 12:11 PM
GUEST,Joe G 17 Nov 19 - 12:18 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 17 Nov 19 - 12:36 PM
Iains 17 Nov 19 - 12:44 PM
Iains 17 Nov 19 - 12:51 PM
GUEST,jag 17 Nov 19 - 12:51 PM
GUEST,jag 17 Nov 19 - 12:56 PM
Lighter 17 Nov 19 - 01:20 PM
GUEST,Captain Swing 17 Nov 19 - 01:22 PM
Iains 17 Nov 19 - 02:09 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Nov 19 - 02:47 PM
GUEST,SoloSongwriter 17 Nov 19 - 02:53 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Nov 19 - 03:12 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 17 Nov 19 - 03:27 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 17 Nov 19 - 03:33 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Nov 19 - 04:15 PM
Iains 17 Nov 19 - 04:21 PM
GUEST,jag 17 Nov 19 - 04:43 PM
GUEST,jag 17 Nov 19 - 04:48 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 17 Nov 19 - 04:51 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 17 Nov 19 - 04:54 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Nov 19 - 05:33 PM
Steve Shaw 17 Nov 19 - 05:57 PM
leeneia 17 Nov 19 - 06:06 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Iains
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 04:08 AM

Definition:
In the study of folklore, the folk process is the way folk material, especially stories, music, and other art, is transformed and re-adapted in the process of its transmission from person to person and from generation to generation.
To be brutal, when it comes to the transcription of the spoken word:
mondegreen:    a misunderstood or misinterpreted word or phrase resulting from a mishearing of the lyrics of a song.

Origin
1950s: from Lady Mondegreen, a misinterpretation of the phrase laid him on the green, from the traditional ballad ‘The Bonny Earl of Murray’.

Example:
Three score and ten
They longed to fight the bitter bight
They long did fight the bitter night

Bonnie ship the diamond
The Diamond is a ship, my lads;
For the Davis Strait we're bound.
The quay it is all garnishèd
With forty lashes round.
With bonnie lasses 'round.

Is it simply the outcome of Chinese Whispers or something more profound? When every phone can capture sound and vision getting it wrong is simply sloppy workmanship, although the diction of some artists can present a challenge.

Did the rot set in when collectors first ventured into the wilderness with their waxed cylinders, gained impetus with the spread of radio, then TV and finally killed the process when perfect reproduction was available to all.

There is another aspect: Money!
Since music and lyrics could be copyrighted there was a chance to make money. Jazz,blues, folk, pop - all could gain airtime and generate a few bob

For me there is another problem.
What for me are striking tunes and lyrics have not been added to or altered and do not always make sense.
"Carrickfergus" Why is Killkenny mentioned other than the fact the
Lower Carboniferous, Butlersgrove Formation was black and extensively worked
One starry night(Liam Weldon collected this love song from the Traveller/Tinker community in the early '60s.) This song borrows from Carrickfergus and has always struck me as needing more verses.
Likewise Farewell, Farewell by Richard Thompson.

The three songs/tunes above are highly evocative and thus should be prime candidates for the folk process,yet are untouched!

This is a bit of a ramble but in the folk thread I received no response when I asked the question is the folk process dead.(in the western world, specifically the UK)
If the folk process is dead is the artform also dead or simply more organised/labeled/pigeonholed/constrained and prevented from mutation by the accurate transmittal, available to all, in the modern world?
Was the folk process in reality a sad comedy of errors given substance by tunnel visioned academics?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 04:13 AM

not at football matches where songs are altered and evolve frequently, that is no guarantee of quality but it is happening


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 04:17 AM

Well we can always hope.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 06:24 AM

In the sphere of traditional Irish instrumental music there's still quite a fierce emphasis on learning tunes by ear being the only right way to learn 'em. I've learned a lot that way but I can't deny that I've learned a good few from CDs. To me that's second-best but I wouldn't say it's unacceptable - as long as you've learned plenty the hard way, which generally means going to play in sessions. At least if you've done that you've learned not to be inflexible...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 07:03 AM

”Three score and ten
They longed to fight the bitter bight
They long did fight the bitter night”


I’ve always sung “They long defied that bitter night” because...

1) It makes sense, whereas ‘’longed to fight’ makes - to someone who has spent a fair amount of time at sea in sailing-ships - no sense whatsoever, and

2) That’s what I heard sung when the song first came to my attention.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 07:13 AM

As long as yo don't sing "and battled with the smell" after it will be fine :-)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 07:13 AM

Interesting Iain. Reminds me of Child's approach to English literature. So far from being a 'critic' or a student of poetic effects and meanings, the edition of poets he edited sought to do precisely that, to get at what was believed to be the 'intentions' of the poets, deciding which versions were and were not accurate.

Raises some interesting questions, ones applying to monks copying out old manuscripts, who are said to have made mistakes.

Even more so when you consider a song travelling across national boundaries when translation errors occur. The most famous example of a cock up I know of relates to the use of the term 'virgin' by mistake in relation to the mother of Mary, a mistake which adversely affected views on women and sexuality for very long periods of history.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 07:17 AM

I can add to this as a person who has had a version of an old song collected. The changes we made to the words were deliberate, and intended to make a point. In fact, from time to time it has changed again. I don't know if you will have other people who adopted songs to answer you, but here is answer number one.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 07:46 AM

It's easy to think the process doesn't happen any more because recordings by professionals don't reflect it.

They'll never use a version evolved in a pub session or football terrace when they can get a certified copyright-free version with added source-researcher's cred from a print or sound archive source.

People who think they're part of a carrying stream of tradition when they do what Steve describes are kidding themselves. Their efforts will be dissipated as soon as their listeners forget. And there's nothing at all wrong with that. Art does not need to persist to be worthwhile.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 07:55 AM

I cannot just find the example, but the other week I found some 'folk' videos on line, under which the singers had quite consciously put that they had learned the song from another singer. these were modern (ie late 20th early 21st century songs. This seemed to me to be a way of putting out a claim to be 'real' trad, so be part of the folk process


I think people who collect recently written songs sometimes do this as well?

Also, I would take up and interrogate the use of the definite article in the strap line. I get tired of reading about 'the tradition' as if there were just one tradition. Another piece of equivocation, and in a few rare cases - since most on the folklore scene think carefully about things- uttered or written by people simply too lazy or disinclined to think with more care about the words they use?

Not saying the OP was using 'the folk process' in any lazy way, though clearly there is an intention to provoke debate, just setting out some responses.
Jim Carroll will be along to wreck the thread before long. Shall we write his posts before he gets here? We all know what he's going to say.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 08:08 AM

There is a good example in the Oldham Tinkers latest rendition of "Peterloo". The original poem by Harvey Kershaw finishes with "The Free Trade Hall it stands today on the fields of Peterloo". The Free Trade Hall was sold off to private developers by the idiots at Manchester council and all but the facade was demolished to make way for an hotel. John Haworth, who wrote the music and jokingly calls Harvey a "derelict" post, now sings "The Free Trade Hall shoud stand today on the fields of Peterloo".

Folk process in action!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 08:40 AM

YES dave but people rarely and never in my experience alter the words of popsongs everyone sings yesterday as it was written it is not evolving lyric wise


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Iains
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 08:50 AM

Raises some interesting questions, ones applying to monks copying out old manuscripts, who are said to have made mistakes.
The early Church was very selective, the Book of Enoch was mostly excluded from Christian canons, and it is now regarded as scripture by only the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church. The early folk collectors would have also have censored the more prurient verses, as they came from a time when even table legs were draped to preserve their modesty. It is difficult ti be certain what was original, what was deleted and what was modified. It is not a subject I have studied but even "sciences" such as archeology are not immune to having the narrative hijacked. It is a brave man that raises his head above the parapet and expounds a counter argument against his peers. In the early 20th century Wegener was ridiculed for proposing continental drift. In the 1960's the causative agent, namely plate tectonics, was pretty much taken as a given as soon as it was proposed.
Progress inevitably ends up a blind alley on occasions, before it stumbles along a more fruitful path.
What the early collectors say they did as opposed to what they actually did is a bit of a conundrum. There is also an argument that by collecting they sterilised the folk process, if you believe such a beast exists. I can believe mutation exists, it is the supposed scale I have a problem with.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 09:24 AM

I am not by any means denying the existence of oral traditions either relating to song or to stories. Partly that I think people sometimes claim more certainty in particular cases than particular facts will bear.

I am happy to believe that in some cases people try to replicate words they have heard exactly but fail,

and

that in other cases, 'riffing' on the words, using 'floating verses' (or 'commonplaces' a controversial term used within folklore) to do this. In so far as songs sometimes tell stories, well people do embroider stories. This is a problem affecting the data gathered by folklore researchers from their subjects: they seem not to factor into their discussion the fact that the person telling them stories is err, a story teller!

Hendrix: kiss the sky/kiss this guy

We thought for a long time that Harold was the Lord's name: it was certainly the name of a nice uncle we had.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 09:26 AM

Just realised how inappropriate it was to use the term 'cock up' in relation to the myth of the Virgin Mary. No cock ups in sight...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 10:14 AM

We took Bob ylan in the cellar and beat a confession out of him.

He said, it was me I did it...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 10:19 AM

Why on earth would anyone change the lyrics to Yesterday or suggest that it is not "evolving", whatever that means.
Am I to understand that the folk process can only happen when songs are altered ?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Iains
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 10:24 AM

It was I said the fly, with my little...............(Roud 494)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 10:52 AM

Well, if I learn a song with an Irish place name which I might mispronounce I'll change it. Or alter an Irish turn of phrase to something that comes more naturally from an English mouth.
If that's the 'folk process' it's still alive.
But it has changed a bit, now that we can compare different versions on Mudcat - pick and mix.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 11:18 AM

It would be quite difficult for a modern song to go through the folk process, because both the singer and the audience are likely to have the original in mind and will be well aware of any deviation from the "correct" version and will keep it on track.

However it's not impossible, where a song has become so well known that it has become separated from any original performance or text against which it can be benchmarked. To give one example, "In My Liverpool Home" is very well-known in the city and beyond, and has attracted lots of additional verses. Despite being by a known author and dating only from the 1960s it could now be said to have become a traditional song.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,patriot
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 11:25 AM

in THE PLOOMAN LADDIES, the line

'Sing laddie-o and sing laddie-i
The plooman laddies are a'the go'
               is obviously wrong & easily corrected, but as this is what was collected by Arthur Argo, would that be OK?

Likewise, in Willie Scott's recorded version (more than once!) of'THERE'S BOUND TO BE A ROW'

'And as they hustle me about if I don't scrape and bow,
and say yes sir and thank you please
there's bound to be a row'

can we change this to make sense & where does it end?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 11:32 AM

I can't recall anything as an example, but I have been taught songs by ear at workshops that have had phrases changed to make them more secular or gender nuetral or to scan better with a 'new' tune. If people relied on recordings of the workshops to cement the words in memory they might spread with the changes made.

Seperatly, what is the practice amongst story tellers ? That seems very close to narrative ballads.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,HiLo
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 11:48 AM

Making them more secular or gender neutral does not seem to me to be a process, it seems more like a an attempt at imposing proscribed speech.
I think Woody Guthries "This Land is Your Land" may be an example of folk process as some countries have inserted their own Place names
and their physical attributes. But then, some might argue that This Land Is Your Land is not a folk song.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Iains
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 11:50 AM

Off on a bit of a tangent: Storytellers. A bit of a cobbling together of the origin

"In ancient Celtic society, bards held a position of esteem, second only to kings. Bards memorized vast amounts of poetry which they performed live, and their poems and songs were often the only historical record available. Some may consider them to be historians.

Bards evolved into storytellers called "seanchaí" who wandered from town to town. In this informal way, an ancient oral literary tradition continued into modern times.

The seanchaí is an important link in Celtic/Irish cultural heritage and continues to play a dominant role in the oral tradition, bringing old stories to life for modern-day listeners."

Historically, a Scottish clan chief would have had a Shennachie, who was essentially the genealogist, historian, storyteller and keeper of the memories, traditions and ceremonies of a clan or family and its Chief.


These days, the recently launched Shennachie Network and the Council of Shennachies aims to offer support for just such a role.

The Network is a way to provide support and ongoing education for anyone interested in the business of a Shennachie, while the Council will include those properly appointed by a Chief as his or her Shennachie, once they have passed certain tests.

As Shennachie to the Chief of Durie, the Council of Scottish Clans and Associations (COSCA) and to the Order of Alba, my role isn’t new, but it is one that maintains a connection between past and present.

We perhaps need to step back in time to better illustrate the role. The McMhurichs (Curries) were hereditary Shennachies to the MacDonald Chiefs, especially Clanranald. On the accession of a new Chief, the Shennachie would recite the genealogy and hand over the white wand of Chiefship.

At the coronation of Alexander III on Moot Hill, Scone on 13 July 1249, he was greeted by ‘a man of the Highlands’ – who would have been a Shennachie – who addressed him with the proclamation ‘Beannachd Dè Rìgh Alban’ (God’s Blessing on the King of Scotland) and went on to recite the King’s genealogy.

Simple enough back then, but things are a little more complex these days.

With the internet, online genealogy, DNA tests, increased interest in heraldry, social media and clan gatherings, it would be impossible to have one person look after it all. However, it is a good idea to have a back stop in the shape of someone who understands enough to marshall the various components.

The difference between a Shennachie and a Bard may seem like a fine line. And at times they were the same person – economy of scale, if you like – but they did perform different functions.

Any self-respecting Chief should have a Shennachie, a bard, piper, harpist, bladier, sword-bearer, chaplain and so on. An especially grand Chief might have had a hereditary physician (Beatons to the Macleans of Dowar and MacBeths on Skye), purse-carrier (MacSporran to the Lords of the Isles), steward, dapifer and the like.



Everyone who wishes to join the Council of Shennachies will have to pass three online courses – Family History Research: from the Beginning (Scottish genealogy); Genetic Genealogy: an introduction (DNA); and An Introduction to Heraldry – offered by the University of Strathclyde, or provide evidence of similar attainment.

The university is involved because ten years ago, I set up a professional programme in Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies. The tutors who went through the programme are the same people who now teach the online courses.

There is growing interest from a number of Chiefs, while the idea of the Shennachie initiative has the support of the Lord Lyon King of Arms, Rev. Canon Dr. Joseph Morrow, who is the High Shennachie of Scotland, The Society of Scottish Armigers (a US educational body that provides the public with information about the Scottish system of heraldry, its traditions and laws), the Standing Council of Scottish Chiefs in the shape of its Convenor, Sir Malcolm MacGregor and the Council of Scottish Clans and Associations (COSCA).

There are a number of Shennachies already in existence, appointed as such by a Chief.

And for a Shennachie to be appointed and recognised, there has to be a Chief involved, it’s not enough to say, ‘I have appointed myself Shennachie to the MacSomethings’ or ‘I’m Shennachie to the Clan Association’.


Looking ahead, the formal launch of the network and council will take place in June or July, while a discussion on insignia is underway. However, as this touches on matters Heraldic, the Lord Lyon is considering whether a properly appointed Shennachie should have a special additament to Arms.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 11:51 AM

Are there any special aprons involved?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Iains
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 12:03 PM

Yeah, they call them sporrans


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 12:11 PM

'Why on earth would anyone change the lyrics to Yesterday'

Derek Brimstone did...

Leprosy
Little bits are falling off of me


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,Joe G
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 12:18 PM

Never mind country versions of 'This Land' - Roger Davies does a county version about Yorkshire!

Roger is another example of an excellent singer songwriter who in many of his own songs writes about local places and writes in the folk idiom.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 12:36 PM

When we say 'Scottish', do we mean the Scots tribe who came from Ireland, (and here I am drawing on limited knowledge of Scottish history drawn mainly from Neil Oliver) or the NE Picts, not to be confused with the other Gaels? And where do the Viking Lords of the Isles come into it? I get so confused.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Iains
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 12:44 PM

Separately, what is the practice amongst story tellers ? That seems very close to narrative ballads.
The traditional storytellers were the repository of history therefore the emphasis was on accuracy of transmittal, presumably without a third party exerting a "malign" influence. That is if you tend towards the idea that story tellers are the modern descendants of the bard and the filidh(in Irish terms)

To suggest the Mabinogion or Táin Bó Cúailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley) were subject to the folk process, would I suspect, be regarded as rank heresy. But others may argue otherwise.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Iains
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 12:51 PM

When we say 'Scottish', do we mean the Scots tribe who came from Ireland,
https://thegeneticgenealogist.com/2007/06/13/using-dna-to-reunite-the-clan-gregor/
https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/mac-gregor/about/background

With modern research that question may perhaps be answered.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 12:51 PM

Making them more secular or gender neutral does not seem to me to be a process, it seems more like a an attempt at imposing proscribed speech. (HiLo)

So what sort of deliberate changes are allowed within 'the folk process'? If the folk change it for whatever reason, the folk change it. (And if there are no folk - yes it has died)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 12:56 PM

That is if you tend towards the idea that story tellers are the modern descendants of the bard and the filidh(in Irish terms) (Iains)

I would include the tellers of the Norse sagas, who, I understand, might have no more inhibitions over changing things to improve a cracking yarn than a Holliwood scriptwriter.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 01:20 PM

All very interesting, but much misses the point.

The better question is not "Has the folk process died?" but "What has it done for us lately?"

No number of anecdotes about mondegreens and forgetting and occasional revised lines and altered pub songs and ad-libbed lines to chanteys and even respectful Carthy-style pastiches can match the output of the "folk process" before the appearance of the phonograph.

Ask yourself. Where is the mass of new, post-1900 Child-type ballads, other than the occasional imitation that may get sung (but probably not much changed) by a handful of people? Where are hundreds of post-1900 broadside-type ballads known and sung, often to competing airs, by a fair part of the population?

Where, for that matter, are the recent, folk-processed tales of Arabian Nights quality?

Etc.

The most vital folk traditions in the English-speaking world today are in Anglo-Celtic and American "old-time" music , in jokes, in African-American "toasts," and in bawdy songs.

Except for the anonymous jokes (mostly here today and gone tomorrow), these minor genres are appreciated and furthered by comparatively few.

Hip-hop lyrics are surely a folklike genre, but the individual songs are either strictly copyrighted and/or performed by very, very few.

With the minor residual exceptions noted above, the "folk process," by any normal definition, has been supplanted by the all-pervasive (and all-copyrighted and all-technically sophisticated) "pop culture."

Or so it seems to me.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,Captain Swing
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 01:22 PM

Here's a confusing one - 'Dirty Old Town'

*not a folk song and written as part of a play about Salford

* became accepted by many as an Irish folk song after being recorded by the Dubliners

* became a pop song when recorded by the Pogues who used the term "gasworks wall" rather than the original "gasworks croft" presumably to make the phrase nearly rhyme when there are no other rhymes in the song (or because the Pogues had failed to do any research)

* "gasworks wall" now used widely in folk clubs, sessions and open mics

So a non-folk song goes through the folk process by becoming a pop song!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Iains
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 02:09 PM

There is an argument that essential knowledge was transmitted through myth. I am thinking specifically of Hamlets Mill: An Essay Investigating the Origins of Human Knowledge and Its Transmission Through Myth by Giorgio de Santillana and Hertha von Dechend
"Von Dechend has argued that the astronomy of the most ancient civilizations is far more complicated than we have hitherto realized. She sees myth as the technical language of a scientific and priestly elite; when, therefore, a myth seems to be most concrete, even gross, it is often using figurative language to describe astronomical happenings . . . Von Dechend's thesis that there is an astronomical dimension to myth that is not understood by the conventional archaeologists of myth is, I believe, quite correct" (Thompson
Other scholars have since concurred with the basic premise of Hamlet's Mill, that mythology and astronomy go hand in hand. Joseph Campbell even goes so far as to point out that the numbers associated with the ending of world, as recorded in the Icelandic Eddas, are identical to the numbers used in Hindu World Age calculations, and both ultimately refer to precession.

This heresy, when published, stirred up a hornets nest but the numbers in these myths combine rather frequently to construct meaningful precession numbers.
If these numbers are to be believed they need to be transmitted accurately down the generations. Poetic license due to the folk process would cause havoc -so where does that leave us?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 02:47 PM

Agreeing with Jon, the whole process has changed mainly due to modern technology, but there again at one point the printed broadsides were modern technology. The process itself hasn't died as similar things still happen and some obvious examples have already been quoted which are still very much alive, if some of them are much depleted.

BTW the process always consisted of 2 interacting elements; accidental alteration caused by faulty memory and revival; and conscious creativity of those with the wherewithal. This applies to almost all folk activity.

An important element to this folk activity is the community aspect in that these activities take place within specific communities. However oral tradition is not exclusive to the masses or the 'peasantry' (to use a much used word from the past). Folk ballads for instance have been, at points in their past, as much the preserve of the elite as 'the people'. Anna Gordon, Elizabeth St Clair, etc.

Here's an example from this very afternoon. I have just about learnt a song by osmosis which is sung by another of our lead singers. It was written in the 60s by a friend of ours and we usually finish with this splendid song. Said lead singer will be away for 3 months next year and for any gigs in that time I would like the song still to be available to the group, so I sat in my car waiting for my wife doing some shopping and decided to see what I could remember of the 4 verses.
All but 2 lines quickly came up (not verbatim of course but near enough) and as soon as I got home I looked up the 2 lines. Got it!
Folk process? You tell me.

I know I've said this many times before but before somebody jumps in with 54 I personally wouldn't strictly speaking call what the IFMC came up with a definition. It is a very useful set of descriptors for researchers like me but in order to qualify for 'folk' status the item in question doesn't have to comply rigidly with all of the descriptors and the descriptors themselves are not finite in that they do not have hard and fast rigid boundaries.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,SoloSongwriter
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 02:53 PM

I feel as though songs being composed for the sake of popular consumption and, usually, copyright, are very difficult to imagine being touched by the folk process.

Songs that were made up to tell stories, preserve historical and cultural events, etc, could be more affected in centuries past by the folk process because there was no ownership/rights endgame in mind.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 03:12 PM

Whilst this is certainly true SS there are still plenty of songwriters about who couldn't give a toss about copyright and are just happy for others to sing their songs. Also there are plenty of 'folk songs' even the traditional ones that we know the author of, even some of the Child Ballads. After 70 years they go out of copyright and mine don't get copyrighted at all. All of the songs I sing that are not from oral tradition have been written by people I know or knew personally.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 03:27 PM

Absolutely agree that at one point the broadsides were modern technology.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 03:33 PM

And I also agree with Steve Gardham's 2nd and third paragraphs.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 04:15 PM

Sue
I'm absotutely slick of you crivicising my 1st, 4th and 5ti aragraphs!!!




Recognise the impersonation? No names, no packdrill.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Iains
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 04:21 PM

Very interesting responses.In retrospect I should have titled the thread
"What is the folk process?" Steve Gardham makes the very valid points
that accident and artistic improvisation both had a role. This neatly provides the distinction, in my mind, between the "purity" of story telling where the essential core element has continuity through the generations although the extraneous detail of the narrative could be given a little artistic improvisation, as opposed to song where both tune and lyrics could be given a massage without any harm. I would argue story telling often contained a core that required integrity of transmission, whereas song was a more "relaxed" medium where the essential message allowed more leeway in transmission. The two served different objectives of bard and minstrel(to put it crudely)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 04:43 PM

I would argue story telling often contained a core that required integrity of transmission

Some of discussion of the current "Folklore: Rumpelstiltskin, thousands of years old?" is of multiple versions, retelling of stories and recurrent motifs. I think we should distinguish stories intended to store unwritten history from those that were entertaining or moral tales that could change as society changed - or be recast in ballad form.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 04:48 PM

Changing a song to make it gender nuetral may be regarded as politicaly correct. Changing it from religion to religion might have been politically essential for survival


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 04:51 PM

Hello Steve

no names no packdrill.

I will add to the discussion about copyright and 'process' that there are lots of singers and guitar players who "don't give a damn" about copyright eg in informal personal context eg one's own home (won't raise open mikes, darn it just did). Had it done so, I should maybe never have learned guitar, at least not via the person to person methods I did learn by in my own home and those of friends, using stuff including Neil Young (whose work I did not even particularly even like at the time, though I do now). And I passed on what I had learned, even, I guiltily admit, to pupils in school on school premises. Folk process, "you tell me" as somebody else said.

I learned melodeon mainly using books - written by somebody called Mally if my memory serves me aright. And played for Morris dancing, not sure if that was folk or not.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 04:54 PM

jag

Interesting ideas in your post.

I think some stories got moved from religion to religion. No disrespect to religions intended (I'm atheist, raised Methodist) but Noah is in more than one.

Sorry if this is thread drift.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 05:33 PM

Mally is an old mate of mine going back to the 60s when we were both part of morris teams in Yorkshire, he of the West Riding and me of the East Riding. If morris dance isn't folk I don't know what is. It has a continuous tradition going back at least to the 17th century and probably earlier. In between the first and second revivals a few teams kept it going but WWI nearly wiped it out as it did with other traditions. Before anyone chips in and says morris was never traditional in Yorkshire we also danced Yorkshire Longsword taught by dancers from traditional teams. There is a sleight (sic) irony here, the chap who taught us their dancing, his team had stopped dancing which is one reason why we learnt the dance. Next thing we know directly due to our interest the old team reformed and soon had 2 teams dancing and their teams are still going whereas ours folded in the 90s.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 05:57 PM

Mally came to a Bude Folk Festival in the early nineties and I bought a B/C box off him. I seem to remember that we had Waterson/Carthy, Eliza and Nancy Kerr, Dave Burland and Coope, Boyes and Simpson. A few weeks later, after I'd found I couldn't get on with it, he was gracious enough to let me swap it for an Erica D/G job. He was an ace player of Irish tunes on the D/G box as he proved in the festival sessions in the Brendon. I bought his Absolute Beginners book and, though I got the knack of playing both sides, my bellows technique never got beyond the elephantine. That box still languishes on top of our spare room wardrobe...

I've stuck to the harmonica since then. I dabbled with a bodhran for a time but I saw the light. I should have been jailed for that of course but I got away with it. If you play the diatonic harmonica you have to change things a bit to get them to fit your axe. That's either me applying the folk process or me pissing around. Take your pick... :-)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Has the folk Process died?
From: leeneia
Date: 17 Nov 19 - 06:06 PM

Has the folk process died? Not at my house. I folk process stuff all the time.

Yesterday I was practicing a piece from Praetorius for the offertory at church. I just couldn't get a high E-flat I liked, so I took the music over to the computer, fired up Noteworthy Composer and re-wrote the measure they were in. Nobody complained.

(This was on a soprano recorder.)


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