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Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'

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GeorgeH 25 May 00 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,Bill H 25 May 00 - 07:07 PM
McGrath of Harlow 26 May 00 - 05:36 PM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 27 May 00 - 10:39 AM
Jeri 27 May 00 - 02:13 PM
Brendy 27 May 00 - 11:28 PM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 28 May 00 - 08:30 AM
Jeri 28 May 00 - 11:01 AM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 28 May 00 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,Charlo 28 May 00 - 02:09 PM
Malcolm Douglas 28 May 00 - 02:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 May 00 - 07:12 PM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 29 May 00 - 08:40 AM
McGrath of Harlow 29 May 00 - 04:28 PM
Brendy 29 May 00 - 04:40 PM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 29 May 00 - 11:03 PM
Brendy 30 May 00 - 12:03 AM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 30 May 00 - 07:36 AM
Tony Burns 30 May 00 - 08:24 AM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 30 May 00 - 09:51 AM
Malcolm Douglas 30 May 00 - 10:05 AM
GeorgeH 30 May 00 - 01:53 PM
The Shambles 30 May 00 - 02:08 PM
Brendy 30 May 00 - 02:13 PM
McGrath of Harlow 30 May 00 - 02:34 PM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 30 May 00 - 07:46 PM
McGrath of Harlow 30 May 00 - 08:41 PM
McGrath of Harlow 31 May 00 - 07:15 AM
McGrath of Harlow 31 May 00 - 07:17 AM
Scabby Douglas 31 May 00 - 08:56 AM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 31 May 00 - 11:09 PM
catspaw49 31 May 00 - 11:33 PM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 01 Jun 00 - 09:54 AM
catspaw49 01 Jun 00 - 10:06 AM
GeorgeH 01 Jun 00 - 10:11 AM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 01 Jun 00 - 10:54 AM
jayohjo 01 Jun 00 - 11:13 AM
McGrath of Harlow 01 Jun 00 - 01:07 PM
Brendy 01 Jun 00 - 02:31 PM
Jeri 01 Jun 00 - 05:45 PM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 02 Jun 00 - 08:24 AM
GUEST,barrygeo 02 Jun 00 - 11:16 AM
SeanM 02 Jun 00 - 12:40 PM
GUEST,lotusland 02 Jun 00 - 12:53 PM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 03 Jun 00 - 10:08 PM
Richard Bridge 04 Jun 00 - 06:29 AM
Brendy 04 Jun 00 - 11:20 AM
GUEST,Barrygeo 07 Jun 00 - 11:13 AM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 07 Jun 00 - 10:26 PM
GeorgeH 08 Jun 00 - 10:34 AM
Richard Bridge 08 Jun 00 - 03:42 PM
Brendy 08 Jun 00 - 04:49 PM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 08 Jun 00 - 09:35 PM
McGrath of Harlow 09 Jun 00 - 05:26 AM
GUEST,Barrygeo 09 Jun 00 - 08:27 AM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 09 Jun 00 - 02:56 PM
Brendy 10 Jun 00 - 12:56 AM
GUEST,Chantywrassler (on another's PC) 10 Jun 00 - 03:13 AM
barrygeo 13 Jun 00 - 08:36 AM
Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive) 13 Jun 00 - 02:52 PM
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Subject: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: GeorgeH
Date: 25 May 00 - 02:09 PM

As referred to in the thread on "Are collectors good" - this is the whole of the original . . .

The rest of this is Dick Gaughan, so I'll sign here. .

G.

In article <56dhu3$8g1@zebedee.pavilion.net>, Stephen Lowe-Watson writes >A centipede was happy quite >until a toad, in fun >said "Pray, which leg comes after which?" >This raised his doubts to such a pitch >he fell exhausted in a ditch >forgetting how to run. > >I think there is a moral there somewhere.

I too think there is a moral there. And before anyone decides to flame us for thread-drift :) it is a natural part of any discussion, including Usenet. All things are inter-related and sometimes you have to wander pretty far away from the precise topic in order to bring in related ideas to inform the main debate.

So.

This is all going to sound a bit strange coming from a Marxist, but then most people haven't a clue what a "Marxist" actually is, anyway.

There is phenomenon in the modern world which I find highly amusing as it has its root in ancient superstition. That is the desire to "name" everything, to define and categorise all external phenomena and label them in order to "understand" them better. This is useful practise until the label replaces in our consciousness that which it is describing and itself becomes the most important feature. When I say this is rooted in ancient superstition, what I mean is that it is the modern form of the belief that objects, and words, have powers and that if we can give names to these objects we can neutralise their power to harm us or we can take their power for our own use. Recurring theme in much of our ballad tradition.

The danger inherent in this is that we can become so obsessed with definition that we can lose the creative, organic relationship with that which we are defining. The subjective then takes precedence over the objective - but this is denied because we describe our efforts to define as being "scientific" and that word in itself carries power ie it carries the assumption of objectivity and the undefined is consequently classed as "unscientific", ie subjective. Defining a word to describe a method of description to exclude that which does not fit in to that particular method until the word itself has "power", ie, "scientific" is the rational, "unscientific" is the irrational. Maybe I'll write a book called "The Irrationality of the Rational" :)

Back to the centipede. I don't remember exactly who it was, Mingus or Davis perhaps, who answered the question, "Can you read music?" with the statement "Not enough to harm my playing". And before anyone makes any assumptions, I can read music and can write an orchestral score, with all required transpositions, so do not assume.

An overdose of education with an underdose of humility is one of the most dangerous trends in the world today. Some things are so intangible that to place an existing definition on them using techniques developed for use elsewhere frequently only serves to further obscure them.

A tradition is like a river, constantly flowing and changing. To take a bucketful of water from that river and then claim that you can use it to construct a comprehensive and accurate description of rivers is absurd. The best we can claim is that it is representative of one particular part of one particular river at the precise moment when we dipped in the bucket and that we can only use it to construct a useful *theory* of rivers which must be kept open to change as more evidence becomes available. *That* is scientific.

The story of all creative advances is that of people doing things constantly confounding those who said it was against the rules. Whatever any individual, or group of individuals, decides to define "the tradition" as, it will continue to develop in its own merry way and may or may not develop in accordance with our theories.

All that is then required is an open mind and a willingness not to take ourselves, or our wonderful theories, too seriously.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: GUEST,Bill H
Date: 25 May 00 - 07:07 PM

Going a bit far a-field here, and only touching on the story of the centepide.

Back in 1959 Theodore (or Brother Theodore as he was to become known) made a studio recording---as opposed to his only other recording of a live Carngie Hall performance. On this recording he tells a wonderful tale of a centipede---and how his questions of the creature about how it knows which leg to put after which one finally mixed it up so much that it could no longer walk.

BILL H---and in the words of Theodore---Intelligence in the audience is as rare as Rocking Horse Manure.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 May 00 - 05:36 PM

Refresh, to give people another chance to read Dick Gaughan's perceptive comments.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 27 May 00 - 10:39 AM

I have over the last few years found Gaughan quite the censor when it comes to his bucket. While he will play warlike songs of solidarity of one side he dismisses the songs of those he opposes as "confrontational" Thus Dick's bucket strains out the orange,unionist, and loyalist and returns them to the stream without giving them new life. To take a bucket out of the tradition and define its contents saving some and casting away others is as absurd as defining tradition because what one has done in the censorial process is infact to have defined and categorized. When mr Gaughan can drink from the bucket of the whole then he will have overcome definition, and categorization to recognize all song as treasure and all verse as achievement which can be used by all equally.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Jeri
Date: 27 May 00 - 02:13 PM

We've gone through this enough times on Usenet. You sound like you have no idea what he sings these days. Oh, well - it's pointless to re-hash silly arguments about how performers have a right to sing songs they believe in and identify with. Perhaps you make his point for him. The discussion the post comes from was about tradition and change, if I remember correctly. (How some folks have the habit of telling people "you can't do that because it's not traditional.") Collectors collect all songs without judging them. What becomes or remains part of the tradition is what is sung, and we choose what we sing. This is what remains in the river. In the long run, no one person can stop something from happening in a tradition, only start or promote something. If it weren't for song collectors, many beautiful songs wouldn't be available to us. If it weren't for singers who choose a handful of songs to make their own, the songs would be museum pieces, frozen in time.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Brendy
Date: 27 May 00 - 11:28 PM

**** Peasant - hardly a misnomer.

B.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 28 May 00 - 08:30 AM

I was responding to this- "An overdose of education with an underdose of humility is one of the most dangerous trends in the world today. Some things are so intangible that to place an existing definition on them using techniques developed for use elsewhere frequently only serves to further obscure them.

A tradition is like a river, constantly flowing and changing. To take a bucketful of water from that river and then claim that you can use it to construct a comprehensive and accurate description of rivers is absurd. The best we can claim is that it is representative of one particular part of one particular river at the precise moment when we dipped in the bucket and that we can only use it to construct a useful *theory* of rivers which must be kept open to change as more evidence becomes available. *That* is scientific. "

When Gaughan takes his bucket full and then sorts it out and cagegorizes it (eliminating songs he sees as unfit) he is essentially claiming that he can and should "construct a comprehensive and accurate description of rivers" prior to using the music in the bucket. Remember he said- "description of rivers is absurd" IMHO he would be more true to his concept if he dipped his bucket into the mainstream and used all he found therein equally as all treasures are equal.

To the best of my knowledge Gaughan has recorded many nationalistic songs of solidarity but has never recorded any from the bucket which are loyalist,orange, or unionist in reference to the Isle of Ireland.

If one truly believed in the inability to define one would not be able to categorize and use materials as selectivly as he does in a censorial manner. Gaughan works very hard to make sure he obscures the traditions which I have referenced by keeping them from his recordings.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Jeri
Date: 28 May 00 - 11:01 AM

Gaughan said "can only use it to construct a useful *theory* of rivers" not "can and should "construct a comprehensive and accurate description of rivers."" Point is, performers don't describe rivers, they jump in and float with the current. Performers sing songs that are meaningful to them. If the songs mean something to other people, then those people will sing them. It isn't any one person's responsibility to keep all the songs (or sides) of a tradition alive. Your argument on "equal time" and your theory about songs being censored by the mere fact that one individual doesn't choose to sing them don't hold water, so to speak.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 28 May 00 - 01:22 PM

When you are selective you must first categorize. Actually by being selective performers do not float with the current they find their own channels. The tradition of the island of Ireland is one of distinct subsets. Really only the politics sets them appart. These sets are knowable. Knowing that things fit definitions is not necessarirly obsessing with definition. Gaughan himself however, obsesses with definition when he excludes some of the subsets in his work. He obsesses actually with the political/religious side of the subset which is a very intense division of ballads into camps. His article is about defining the undefinable and holding tradition to definition when infact tradition would rather evolve. He,himself, actually practices an overdose of education if that means the ability to split hairs to infinity and maintain rivalries by continuing to react to them by censoring all but your favorite subset. The old conflict of splitting and lumping. If you continue to react to rivalries you can not allow the tradition to change constantly as it wants to do. A singer who insists on selective singing maintains definitions which would otherwise blur. In this way rivalries are strengthened rather than being set asside. Indeed to really set asside rivalries you must sing the songs of all sides/subsets and this Gaughan, by holding things constant and insisting on definition and categorization refuses to accomplish.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: GUEST,Charlo
Date: 28 May 00 - 02:09 PM

Get this Conrad

The only good Orange song is about

DEAD

Orangemen, and proportionally speaking (coz thankfully, there are relatively few of the bastards, in a worldwide sense, doncha know) they take up much more room than they are entitled to.

I'd throw them out of my bucket, given the opportunity; for even cat piss is bound to enter the drinking water system eventually. The more there is, the more the pollution. And Orangemen never gave a shit about, nor recognized any other tradition outside of their own.

I'm sure, though, that they would gladly give their services FREE to appear at one of your little soirées to ensure their music gets to the widest audience possible.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 28 May 00 - 02:24 PM

I'd disagree with Conrad that being selective in one's personal repertoire represents censorship in any real sense, provided of course that one does not attempt to censor the repertoires of others, or to create the impression that other material does not exist, or is not valid in its own terms.  I really don't think that Gaughan is guilty of that.

Oh, and Charlo: politeness costs nothing, you know.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 May 00 - 07:12 PM

Conrad has picked out the quote from Dick Gaughan because he wanted to sound-off about his concerns about the non-nationalist tradition in Ireland being marginalised and ignored.

His suggestion is that there is an inconsistency between what Dick has to say about tradition, and his selection of songs to sing.

But Dick Gaughan is not talking about that kind of stuff in this passage. He's not talking about whether songs should be censored or shouldn't be censored. He isn't in fact saying anything about the criteria singers should use in forming their repertoire. He's talking about how we have to be humble in making theories about folksong and about tradition, and need to recognise that we only have access to a pretty random sample of what has actually been sung at any time.

Thread drift is in my view quite a good thing to happen, and for a discussion about "What is Folk" to turn into one about Irish politics is quite a predictable thing to happen. These are two of the most longstanding free-fight areas on the Mudcat, I suppose they had to come together some time. But I think that stretching and distorting the sense of a quote in that way is not the best way of drifting a thread the way you want it to go.

And I think GUESTCharlo is just stirring things, and ought to be ignored. (I know I've just broken the golden rule and taken notice of the anonymous stirrer, but every golden rule has to be broken some time.)


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 29 May 00 - 08:40 AM

Gaughan has in the quote above has cast doubt upon our ability to define. Yes, part of his reasoning suggests that we only have a small portion of the whole. This is true. But....he also generalizes by saying that the tradition is "so intangible" that it can not be defined. This is not true as what we know of it can certainly be described, characterized and known. I cited an example of how Gaughan himself has made his own definitions of the material that exists and he has categorized it and he has edited out categories from his work- he has not take the approach that the river is a whole which can not be categorized and defined. His concept is a good one. But, he might consider practicing it. It is just as difficult to be totally inclusive and perfectly objective in regard to an entire unsplittable un categorizable tradition and to treat a tradition in this way as to be overly concerned with definition and explanation. These are two extreme poles of the variable of knowing. Again Gaughan demonstrates that we can know and define what we have of the whole. It would be of benifit to the inventory of songs and verses if we kept from such definition and played them all but the human mind seems to always step in, categorize define and censor. But let us not insist that it can not and is not being done. A tradition is like a salami what you have of it should be sliced and eaten as a whole. It does no good to the overall flavor to pick out the black peppers. For the whole to be enjoyable we must see it as more than the sum of its parts - we must ignore the parts and simply play and sing a cross section overcoming the human weakness of categorization and favoritism as best we can.

Sometimes you cant eat a hot black pepper by itself but when you enbed it within the whole it can become quite pleasant. All of the ingredients are also valuable none should be thrown out- all should be exercised regularly.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 May 00 - 04:28 PM

Me eyes get dizzy trying to read long passages like that without a break. Put in the occasional paragraph break if you want anyone to read it.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Brendy
Date: 29 May 00 - 04:40 PM

He's talking shite, Kevin.
He's a back seater at best, hasn't shown himself to have any working knowledge of music, and outside of the lyrics he has posted, has only served to be as big a pain in the arse as you could ever wish not to meet.

He fails to realise that the Orange tradition is firmly rooted; had he lived in the north of Ireland, he would know this.

By his reckoning, he also would lament the exclusion of Nazi war songs out of the Jewish folk tradition.
Given that folk tradition is a river with many tributaries, why doesn't he lash Dick for not singing Aserbajani anti resistance songs.
The same rules apply.

B.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 29 May 00 - 11:03 PM

Off to Dublin in the Green are ye Brendy! Polish up those ramrods we want them to glisten properly! Didn't know there were Nazi war songs in yiddish but I do know that some of the popes men helped run the camps..... but that is another story! It is old but it is still beautiful!

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Brendy
Date: 30 May 00 - 12:03 AM

I am no apologist for the Catholic Church, Con, old sport, and Dublin is not my most favourite city.

But I don't go around from thread to thread like a spoilt child, picking through peoples' words to satisfy some strange obsession you have with the plight of things Orange.

I actually had you pegged as an intelligent bloke, and a lot of what you have said in previous threads not only displayed that intelligence, but a modicum of compassion too.

You will find that people from the nationalist tradition don't go around this forum, like you have of late, trolling for attention and insulting people who have never said a cross word against you.

Your long winded argument is flawed. The orange tradition is alive and well. I don't like the songs; They 'kicked the Pope' outside of our house every year, so I don't sing them. That's a personal choice, and bears no relation to the fact that they exist; and like it or not, they are there. But although I can acknowledge that hot pepper salami's exist, and, being a humanist, I recognise their right to be on the deli counter along with all the other little salamis, I am a man of more refined tastes. Am I be criticised for it?

B.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 30 May 00 - 07:36 AM

It depends if you consider yourself a folklorist or not- or project yourself as an objective collector or not. -such claims carry obligations to be somewhat universalist within the traditions in which one works. Another obligation is to treat songs and lyrics primairly as objects rather than as political/religious statements.

IMHO the best way to diffuse strong political hangups with music is to simply put the differences behind and play the songs of both sides with no worry about what anyone thinks.

As for quality I believe that the music of both sides is in quality a mirror image. Even a refined taste can be offended by some of the Nationalist songs. I myself choose not to be offended by any song. I am more offended by exclusion of songs than their inclusion.

The worst enemy of the tradition of Orange,Loyalist and Unionist music is the uncompromising mental state of Orangemen,Unionists and Loyalists. However, the same is true of jingoistic Hibernians,Roman Catholics and USA IRA Republicans who attack a fine tradition,generally one that they themselves have never heard, and wonderful ballads and songs which can harm no one just because of a particular small attribute of their content.

Musicians and Folklorists can make a differnce but not if they fall into line on one side or the other. The proper outlook and use of the tradition (that is the tradition of the Island of Ireland as a whole which is more alike than divided) can help to obscure the small aspects of songs which divide by concentrating upon music as art and not worrying about quality or political issues.

By the way- If you know the lyrics and tune to the mythical "kick the pope" song Please post them with source. I am well read on this topic and have never seen it.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Tony Burns
Date: 30 May 00 - 08:24 AM

A search of DT for "kick the pope" turned up this: OLD ORANGE FLUTE.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 30 May 00 - 09:51 AM

exactly! the song only exists in the minds of those ridiculing the tradition....thus far that is. I think this is the case for the olde orange flute reference- a made up reference for emphasis. I will be glad to be corrected but it does not turn up in any of the songbooks I have collected thus far. I could not even get the lyrics from the orange/loyalist community but that is not unusual because as with other groups the song tradition is now weak.

Still seeking kick the pope... Conrad


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 30 May 00 - 10:05 AM

Joyce refers to it in Ulysses:  In strident discord peasants and townsmen of Orange and Green factions sing Kick the Pope and Daily, daily sing to Mary.

That's all I know on the subject.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: GeorgeH
Date: 30 May 00 - 01:53 PM

I had thought Conrad had finally grown up, and discarded his Pavlovian reaction to the word "Gaughan". Sadly that appears not to be the case . . .

Conrad's mistake, or point of departure from logic and rationality, (and, as others have pointed out, this has argued well beyond its natural life over on Usenet) is to confuse PERSONAL CHOICE (in one's repetoire, or even in that which one chooses to publish) with CENSORSHIP.

Conrad's ignorance (in both senses of the word) is his using Gaughan's (IMO) interesting thoughts on the nature of the tradition as an EXCUSE for a totally unrelated attack on Gaughan. Even if Conrad's accusations against Gaughan were justified that does not IN ANY WAY count against the article I posted, which must stand, or fall, in its own right.

G.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: The Shambles
Date: 30 May 00 - 02:08 PM

The notion of the objective song collector interests me. Surely all collectors do not claim to be so and even those that would do collect what they find and leave the selection process to us, will have their favourites? They may also be tempted to overlook some songs.

Are we seriously suggesting here that all singers should also be totally objective in their choice of songs?

Having said that, it would not be an entirely bad idea for singers who are committed to a view or cause to sing the songs of the opposite view, if only to recognise that their side does not have the monopoly on good songs.

I fear then, performance may become like one of those boring political programmes, where the balanced view is demonstrated, by having representatives of each party and you learn very little about the issue. The ones you tend to turn over to the other side, or even sleep through.

I fear even this would not avoid the nit-picking criticisms that have been levelled at Dick Gaughan here and in the past on Usenet. Which I find to be very tiresome and adds little to the debate. It also explains the reluctance of people like Dick Gaughan to enter in to fresh debate, on line and that is to all of our loss.

No one is perfect but they are entitled to their view. The view quoted here had little to do with the personal criticisms made, and they only demonstrated that you cannot be all things to all people, and I think we already knew that. Should singers be attempting to be all things to all people?

I am reminded of the results of polls, which asked if the BBC was politically biased. Those that answered yes were then asked to which side. Roughly half of them said to the left, the other half said to the right………...


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Brendy
Date: 30 May 00 - 02:13 PM

Agreed G.

'Kicking the Pope', Conrad, FYI, is not a 'song' that I have ever heard neither. To 'Kick the Pope', is to beat the livin' shit out of your Lambeg Drum; a kind of Cozy Powell meets Loyalism, if you will. I'm a bit surprised that you don't know this, considering your 'expertise' in other departments.
As a general rule, I don't sing Irish rebel Songs neither - It's just not what I do in my day to day repertoire. So your previous assumption is wrong also.

You see, Conrad, you described, you characterised, you categorised into sets and subsets - and you never even dipped your bucket in!! Or maybe you don't like beef sausages and vegetable roll?
Very good, Conrad!!

Just look up from your screen, there, for a minute.
Do you see that big wide flat thing that is standing next to the door?
It's called a wall.

Go talk to it.

B.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 May 00 - 02:34 PM

If I choose not to read what someone has posted here, is that an act of censorship?

If I choose to sing one song rather than another song, is that censorship?

There are some indeed some great tunes from the orange tradition. I haven't come across many songs to match, and that's not for lack of looking. The Sash is a jolly enough song, and in itself not sectarian. It goes well to the tune of Kevin Barry, and the other way round.

But I've yet to come across a song from the republican or nationalist tradition with lines like these from Dolly's Brae:

Begone, begone you Papist dogs, we'll conquer or we'll die
And we'll let you see we're not afraid to cross over Dolly's Brae
And when we came to Dolly's Brae they were lined on every side
Praying for the Virgin Mary to be their holy guide;
We loosened our guns upon them and we gave them no time to pray,
And the tune we played was "The Protestant Boys" right over Dolly's Brae.

Thirty "Papist dogs" were killed on that occasion... Clearly Dick Gaughan or anyone else who chooses not to sing a song like that - and in a sense it is a good song - must be some kind of bigot?


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 30 May 00 - 07:46 PM

While choice is choice the net efect of outlawing dimensions of a tradition from one's work is first to give a misleading impression of the tradition as a whole and then to keep songs from being known and appreciated helping them to be forgotten.

It all depends on what you set out to do. If like Gaughan you choose to not sing songs that are divisive you should fairly cease singing all such songs. I do not feel that I am being at all unfair when I heard from him that he does not sing orange,loyalist,unionist songs because he belives them to be divisive while he continues to sing songs of solidarity -equally divisive from his favored tradition. He defined his own reasons for not singing the songs of the other part of the tradition not me. Just as he spoke out in this instance against academics and their tendancy to define traditions. I have demonstrated that he defines traditions just as the academics he criticizes.

In regard to Dolly's Brae the version cited is the one I call version II in my collection. It is from Voice of the People. Version I is the one I have heard sung almost exclusivly and is the one printed in the Ulster Society Songbook. Version I does not have that line. http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/5567/ooooo2.html#dol

Pitty you do not sing songs of solidarity and historical battles. Why exclude this important part of the tradition? Songs are not really inherently evil you know!

Conrad


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE BALLAD OF HENRY JOY
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 May 00 - 08:41 PM

So there's a line that shouldn't be sung? A line that shouldn't be crossed?

Now here is a song from a protestant tradition that isn't in any Ulster Society Songbook.

THE BALLAD OF HENRY JOY

An Ulster man I am proud to be,
From the Antrim Glen I come,
Although I labour by the sea,
I have followed flag and drum.
I have heard the martial tramp of men,
I have watched them fight and die;
And it's well do I remember
When I followed Henry Joy.

I pulled my boat up from the sea
I hid my sails away
I hung my nets on a greenwood tree,
And I scanned the moonlit bay.
The Boys went out, and the Redcoats too;
I kissed my wife goodbye,
And in the shade of the greenwood glade
Sure I followed Henry Joy.

In Antrim town the tyrant stood,
He tore our ranks with ball,
But with a cheer and a pike to clear,
We swept them o'er the wall.
Our pikes and sabres flashed that day,
We won, but lost, ah! why
No matter, lads, I fought beside,
And shielded Henry Joy.

Ah lad's for Ieland's cause we fought
For homes and sire we bled,
Tho pikes were fed, still our hearts beat true,
And five to one lay dead,
But many a lassie mourned her boy;
For youth was strong in that gallant throng,
Who followed Henry Joy.

In Beklfast town they built a tree,
And the Redcoats mustered there;
I watched him come as the beat of the drum
Rolled out from the barrack square.
He kissed his sister, went aloft,
Then bade a last goodbye,
My soul he died, och, I turned and cried,
They had murdered Henry Joy.


Henry Joy McCracken - born in Belfast 1767, co-founder of the northern arm of the United Irishmen, hanged in 1798 for his part in the rebellion. Very much a Protestant.

There is another song about HENRY JOY MCCRACKEN, a version of which is in the DT.

The one I've posted here I found in an excellent anthology called "Rich and Rare" compiled by Sean McMahon, published in Dublin in 1984, which has a good range of songs and poems from the various traditions of Ireland.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 May 00 - 07:15 AM

I ran two lines into one in the last verse but one there - it should be:

Ah, lad's for Ireland's cause we fought For homes and sire we bled, Tho pikes were fed, still our hearts beat true, And five to one lay dead, But many a lassie mourned her lad, And mother mourned her boy; For youth was strong in that gallant throng, Who followed Henry Joy.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 May 00 - 07:17 AM

And with line breaks:

Ah,lad's, for Ireland's cause we fought,
For homes and sire we bled,
Tho' pikes were fed, still our hearts beat true,
And five to one lay dead,
But many a lassie mourned her lad,
And mother mourned her boy;
For youth was strong in that gallant throng,
Who followed Henry Joy.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Scabby Douglas
Date: 31 May 00 - 08:56 AM

I read what Dick Gaughan had to say, and I've read (most of ) what various participants have had to say in this thread.

Despite the fact that the thread has become tangential (to say the least) to the original opening, I think that Conrad/Peasant's point seems to be that one cannot be selective or have preferences- one must sample equally from everything one cannot have opinions and promote those opinions through one's life, art, singing.. whatever..

Also, why does poor old Dick Gaughan get such a vigorous "doing"? If you were to ask any folk performers rooted in the Loyalist tradition to perform or showcase songs from the Republican?nationalist tradition, I can only imagine the response that would be generated.

It is reasonable to ask a nationally-funded entity like the BBC to maintain a bias-free reportage.. but last time I looked, Gaughan received no license-payer's money.

So.... is what sparked this off the use of the word "tradition"? As far as I can tell this has been hijacked in an Irish context to mean "political/cultural/religious grouping"..

In a musical sense that is not what the rest of us understand it to mean... I think that what Gaughan was referring to was the debate about traditional music vs modern music... not about one "tradition" versus another...

And just for the record, I'm from Glasgow, from a Protestant upbringing, and I bloody hate the Orange marches....

Cheers M'dears...


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 31 May 00 - 11:09 PM

Not really.....I feel that when one examines preferences tied to dimensions of songs such as those of political and literal meaning they soon become personal and arbitrary and small when compared with all of the other dimensions of the song- and its performance.

If you can not bear a song just because some find it divisive or you do not agree with the meaning of the verse IMHO you are not looking far enough to find value- sort of like tossing out a perfectly good bannana because of a blotch on its skin.

If you are not going to play or perform a song I would like to see judgement done on many levels contributing to your conclusion and, your conclusion should be consistant with your behavior -that is if you object to all divisive songs or songs of political identity/solidarity you should object to ALL of them not just the songs of those with whom you do not agree.

You can object to the songs but simply state that you do not agree with the point of view- dont use the excuse that you do not sing any and all such songs when you do and have recorded them.

In my experience most people in a crowded pub which draws from a large cosmopolitan urban audience listen least to the political/religious messages/dimensions of songs- try it- ask a few what you have just sung! That is why so many musicians feel they have to stop and lecture on the meaning of songs which are perfectly clear if you can hear the lyrics......There are more dimensions to music than one.

Having discussed this topic with several prominent musicians and singers I have found that the reason they do not sing certain songs is not because they do not believe the song has value but because they will not be hired if they sing them- the quest for money and mainteneance of livelyhood necessitates the abandonment of the quest for equality and tolerance of the entire tradition. I understand but it does not make it good or right.

Then there is also fear of what the audience will do. And again the intollerent are rewarded. Yes! I believe that unionists,loyalists, and orangemen should be able to listen/play to the music of the other side and there are ways to do this without giving up your own beliefs.

Of the Orangemen a good number now... I have taken around to the Irish Pubs in our area none had any problem listening to the rebel songs performed. I ask them about this and they tell me that they were concentrating on the voice of the singer and the quality of the guitar or flute playing. I think that the importance of maintaining the divide is overstated and the sooner we stop maintaining it the sooner it will become transparent.

I think the word showcase is a funny one! I never get into a case to play music. Cant quite understand its use. It is too much a marketing thing and I dont think musicians need marketing or stages or anything else but to play music....

Yes! I think the word (tradition) has been hijacked by those who wish to make a fairly unified tradition appear to be divided when it is really not divided at all. The sooner we open their ears and minds and teach them to respect the treasures that are songs in all of their dimensions then the sooner we will see a tradition which is accessible to all.

How can anyone hate a parade if they let it be a parade? We need more parades in this world not fewer! The Lambeg is a wonderous thing- you know you can find people who will tell you hate any instrument if you look far enough- it doesnt mean that the things are hateful. dourness is a really bad protestant habbit. then again an excess of levity seen at some St.Patricks day parades is also not entirely pleasant.

Conrad Bladey


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: catspaw49
Date: 31 May 00 - 11:33 PM

I have been reading this thread since its inception, and other like it over the past few years, and the same thing seems to bother me. Skipping all politics and religion, the one thing that always comes through to me is the importance of collecting all songs as they are part of a tradition. Doesn't matter what tributary of the moment in time they are sampled, but collectors seem to believe that all these songs have merit, although they may not perform them for a variety of reasons.

I think that's absurd. Some songs are simply bad. Or is that too simple a premise? Why save something from extinction simply because its there? Do you reckon that Bach may have turned out some real clunkers that he didn't intend for posterity? I believe in historical values, but just because a song exists does not make it historically important and often its less than accurate. The very nature of the process, especially before so many were "collected" makes for historical philosophy only.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 01 Jun 00 - 09:54 AM

Bad exists only as far as it defines what you don't want at the moment. The calculated worth of a song is arbitrary and situational.

The best position to be in is to be open to using what fits your need-the widest range-a large palate. A "bad" song may be helpful in some ways in other contexts for other purposes. "bad" is an assessment based upon measures on variables sampled situationally. (the victorians for example considered all songs bad which mentioned sex! We have never recovered from their use of a situational assessment good only from their period.)

Remaining open and doing the measurement and calculation each time is important. Yes math is hard but someone has to count up the values of coins who is not overly concerned with their artistic beauty.

By the way I also find that quality of performance is simmilar. My golden rule is that a song song poorly is better than a song not sung at all. Knowing about quality can also help you cope with poor performance better. I am often reminded of a song by even a poor performer. I can patch in a good version in my mind and still enjoy things. Adaptation is the essence of existence. If we threw out everything that was imperfect we would have very litte. Again "good" is a variable you set. You can always pull out a fine tuner and find even the best voice a little off. I prefer using my ear to compensate rather than to rule out.

It was once felt that songs did fine in books. The reliance on recording and publishing has allowed folk to stop singing. We should try to avoid this by preserving a wide view which will allow the greatest number and variety of songs exercise.

Criteria based primairly upon divisiveness,intolerance,religion and politics are very poor ones to use when considering whether or not to sing a song.

One's calculation of suitability should utilize as many dimensions of a work as possible.

As for the divisive nature of some songs and the potential bigotry and intolerence of audiences- well I think there are a few easy tricks which can be used to part the seas of intolerance to get a song through from the oblivion of record and book into ears and minds. People need to start applying them.

Songs are all treasures and resources. You cant toss out coal just because it is dirty and black.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: catspaw49
Date: 01 Jun 00 - 10:06 AM

So Conrad, all that said, is there any reason you would toss out a song? If I read what you are saying, all songs are treasures because they are songs. Or did I misread your comments? I'm not trying to be a smart-ass here, just wondering.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: GeorgeH
Date: 01 Jun 00 - 10:11 AM

Conrad, I'm sorry to have to say this, (or more particularly, I'm sorry to have to offend others' sensitivities by saying it in this forum) but from my knowledge of your own past actions, postings, web hosting, etc. you are at best disingenuous and at worst a bigoted Orange liar. I could dismantle the convoluted illogic of your posts - as I have done in the past - but "life's too short" (and, at present, too busy).


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 01 Jun 00 - 10:54 AM

I am always glad to hear a song sung live. I would never toss out singing as it is so rare. I would listen as long as I could stay.

No- I would not toss out a song for a simple excuse. It would have to not fit my use in many ways. When I teach music I insist that as wide a variety of music be heard as measured in the largest number of dimensions. I generally do the calulation based upon many variables. Tossing out a song just because of politics, or religion or point of view alone is simply absurd. Even if I was doing a lecture on one part of the tradition I would want to include the other side just to be complete. I would probably play songs 50 50 infact.

As far as my relation to the Orange order- I am not an orangeman- I am married to a catholic! I regularly attend catholic Mass on Easter,Christmas etc...and am often found inside catholic churches. These things would strictly prohibit membership. I even attend my wife's parish picnic and drink the pope's free beer- which is one of the benefits of catholicism.

I myself am methodist. (even though methodism has been as harsh to folksong as the pope has been to dancing at the cross roads.) My mother was Dutch Reformed my father Polish Catholic. As in the mixup song..... My father's high church mother never forgave him and relations with that side of the family were harmed and remain poor.

You will notice that I have created first class web pages for both the Celtic and Anglo sub traditions. I remain a protestant but that is my choice to make. I believe that catholicism is not correct. Why would one belong to one religion and think that any other was right? One would surely simply join the religion that one thought was right. I am very tolerant of catholics and live in a neighborhood of them. I send my child to catholic school. While I am tolerant I still have the right to believe strongly that they are all on the wrong track. I tolerate but do not have to like their catholic tendancies. One of my good catholic friends often trys to convince me that church membership is hereditary and I am genetically supposed to be catholic because my father was. I believe many things the church does is wrong but all churches are made up of humans and so there are failings on all sides.

My disagreement of catholicism is largely fundemental resting in the bread body argument and related concerns. Additionally I believe that we dont need a state religion anywhere and that the vatican needs to convert itself from a state into a religion or they aught to give methodist clergy embassies and diplomatic priviledge....

For a few years I put myself through immersion in Orange culture and politics. This is because I had plenty of opportunity to engage with irish republicans and not enough chance to encounter orange/unionist folk. As a lecturer in Irish Studies I needed to have balance.

When you are a student you have to be a bit more enthusiastic about things than when you have learned. I started out objectivly and enthusiastic and let the people I met prove themselves wrong. I still feel that I am more unionist in belief than republican. I can not however support the dark conservitism of orangeism as it gets in the way of their establishment of communication with other cultures and peoples. I have met and talked at length with Trimble. I was for a few days employed by the UUP. I believe that their course is correct but their methods largely in public relations and in support of their own culture are weak and ineffective. The reason we do not see more of a unionist presence at cultural events is not due to much more than their organizational inneptitude and conservatism two things I encouraged them to deal with and two things they failed to do.

Once I found that they were going no where with promotion of culture I jumpped ship as I had learned enough and do not have time for too much concern for politics. Generally I try to be truthful but I have my own values and generally stick to them.

As to the front lines of the divide on the internet- yes- they exist but both sides contribute and yes for a while I was on one of them, however, due to the failure of the radicals on line to support the peace process and Trimble I was forced to retire and have done my part to critize their radical departure from my point of view.

As I have come through my political evolution I have found the mellowing realization that culture, food music and drink are far more important and unifying than all the rest.

I do however celebrate the 12th of july because it is always better to celebrate than not. The lambeg drum in all of its beauty is heard for blocks around my house and the old songs are played. As an academic I must keep things even. I always celebrate March 17 with food and drink. I go to the parade and enjoy it though freely speaking my mind and suggesting that the hibernians give up the clubs and that the noraid folks pack it in and cease support for terror.

Generally if you find I have made an error it is probably a typo or mistake. You will have to come up with a very good argument to get me to back down from my beliefs but I will listen to any correction offered. I hope that while opinionated you will find me polite.

IMHO it is better that you deal with the issue and logic of the thrad rather than the personality and history of the writer.

So it seems that you wish to let us believe that I am not correct and that the political and religious aspect of a song is the most important one and that all else about a piece should be secondary and disregarded?

It is a pitty to see two posts which have substituted insensitive accusations for discussion in this thread- and both are from the Republican side! I guess the ramrods are still glistening in the sun after all. But is this really what your ramrod is glistening with?

Thanks for asking! Growing is good try it!

Conrad accusations


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: jayohjo
Date: 01 Jun 00 - 11:13 AM

Firstly, I won't comment on Irish politics, as it is hugely complex and I don't know enough about it not to be hated by everyone if I even try!

However, I do know about singing. I don't think it is possible to be totally 'objective' about the songs you choose to sing. (On a practical level, songs must suit your voice, etc) More importantly, and relevantly, songs should fit in with your own world-view somehow, otherwise they have no meaning and no feeling - without meaning for the individual, it all becomes mechanical, and you are singing songs ONLY to keep a tradition going, and not for enjoyment, which is what music is about after all.

A 'tradition' is simply what has happened over the years, and the way that things have developed. Many of the songs we consider 'traditional' have of course changed from whatever their original form might have been, and the point is that traditions are still developing and changing. We cannot (and should not) expect folk music to stagnate - with too much attention paid to keeping the tradtion, and too little paid to actually having fun with the music, then beautiful songs will become dusty museum pieces, which no-one wants to sing or play for fear of being criticised for 'doing it wrong'.

Just some thoughts. jayohjo


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 01 Jun 00 - 01:07 PM

The image of the millennium celebrations that sticks with me is that of a celebration from Northern Ireland where lambeg drums and bodhrans were being played together.

Sooner or later the orange and the green tradition will get back on friendly terms at last, and there'll be orange marching bands in the Fleadh Ceoil alondside the green marchingbands. If the English government, and more especially the Conservative party hadn't messed things up by playing "the Orange Card" so irresponsibly time and time again (and they haven't done yet), this would have happened many many years ago.

And when that happens the sectarian language and attitudes will be discarded. The 12th of July will be as unthreatening and happy an occasion for all as the Miners' Gala in Durham, which looks not that all different. And people like Henry Joy McCracken and Wolfe Tone and Charles Stuart Parnell will be honoured in the Protestant community from which they sprang.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Brendy
Date: 01 Jun 00 - 02:31 PM

"No- I would not toss out a song for a simple excuse. It would have to not fit my use in many ways.."
So where does that leave your original argument?
"...and (I) drink the pope's free beer" ??????????????
"I myself am methodist"
"Why would one belong to one religion and think that any other was right?"

?????, I suppose, as a lecturer of Irish studies, you never got to read up on Calvin.
"..The reason we do not see more of a unionist presence at cultural events is not due to much more than their organizational inneptitude and conservatism two things I encouraged them to deal with and two things they failed to do."
Now I DO know that your head is in the clouds.
"IMHO it is better that you deal with the issue and logic of the thrad rather than the personality and history of the writer."

Conrad...you don't have a 'humble opinion', I'm afraid. Trimble is trying to keep people like you from taking over and hi-jacking the process. If you had any conscience, you wouldn't have 'given up' and stayed supporting him, for by God he needs that kind of support now. I, too, talked to him, at a reception the Irish Ambassador to Norway gave on the occasion of the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize. He was in a sticky wicket then, and he barely scraped through this time.

If you are not part of the re-conciliation process, Conrad, you are against it. The comments I made about you above were not 'meant' to be personal. Purely a statement of fact. Yours to me, on the other hand, were.

The unfortunate thing about ANY song, or ANY tradition, is that without 'appeal' they stagnate. I would hardly say that the singing of Republican songs of resistance is increasing to any great degree. But when songs lose their appeal, there is nothing you or I can do about it. Especially if those songs relate to the suppression of a section of the population. Remember, also, that a lot of the Irish tradition, and I mean the Island of Ireland, has been lost in the mists of time. I think the Orange tradition has survived gallantly, given the circumstances don't you?
It is also an unfortunate thing that the only gripe we hear from the more right-wing Unionists is the need for a greater slice of the collective cake.
I need hardly remind you, as a lecturer in Irish studies, of the incident that fuelled the birth of the Civil Rights campaign. I'm not talking about 'Burntollet' here, but you, as an avid student, will know exactly what I'm on about, the same way you knew what 'Kicking the Pope' entailed.

Conrad, you are a trouble maker in a number of guises, whose only purpose is to be some sort of 'devils advocate' on this forum. You are all that is offensive about Unionism, and you are giving what is trying to be achieved in MY HOME, a bad name.
You are a back-seater, and enlightened Unionism wouldn't give you the time of day, thank God.
Traditions come and go, my friend, as surely as the water flows to the sea. And species become extinct too, when they lose the power to adapt to their environment.

I feel a bit sorry for you, in a way.

B.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Jeri
Date: 01 Jun 00 - 05:45 PM

Well, it's impossible to argue with illogic, so I quit. I don't believe there's anyone around who can't see the silliness in Conrad's argument about Gaughan.

Spaw, about collectors picking and choosing song songs that should not be forgotten - you're really willing to trust one person's judgement of what a good or bad song is?


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 08:24 AM

In the evolution of folk song tradition performers and recording artists control the selection process. It is a mistake to assume that the listening public makes any selection at all. Everything is pre selected for them. That is why musicians who interject their own personal censorship based upon only one dimension of the music interfere with the entire process. Gaughan will not sing or record songs which he calls divisive. In doing so he has arbitrairly removed the choice from the people.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: GUEST,barrygeo
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 11:16 AM

Conrad Unfortunately for yourself you are trying to analyse a tradition of which you are not part. A traditional singer or musician must produce music from his heart not from his head. Traditional performers will rank their songs or music according to their own preference.

There is a process of evolution so that only the best survives. The problem with collectors and observers from outside the tradition is that they often insist on superimposing their values from the outside.

As a musician rather than a singer I see great similarities in Orange songs. In many cases the melodies are pure Irish. Also I have had the pleasure of spending some time in a Loyalist friend of mine's house with him singing rebel songs to my accompanyment.

Finally and Frankly in traditional music the final choice of song/tune is with the singer/player. Once you go professional the choice is with the paying public.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: SeanM
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 12:40 PM

The problem with all of this is that ANY collector is going to bring SOME sort of bias with them as they collect. Maybe it's someone who doesn't feel that silly children's songs are as worthwhile as political songs. Maybe it's someone who feels political songs become dated, and therefore get lower priority than drinking songs. Whatever.

It's a process that gets amplified for bands. My group does mostly American folk. We don't do Native American stuff. Why? First and foremost, we just don't sound good doing it, and would have to completely change our instrumentation, vocal styles etc. to work it. Second, it's honestly not what we want to do. We do railway and schlocky cowboy crap. We like it, it's fun, and it gets us gigs. If someone out there IS doing a completely objective set including elements of every American musical tradition, more power to 'em.

Total pure objectivity is a nice goal, but not gonna happen. We're all human, after all.

M


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: GUEST,lotusland
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 12:53 PM

Someday, when I am uploaded to the great chatroom in the sky, I will find the divine bulletin board swamped with messages from Conrad J. Bladey, Peasant. There's a song in there somewhere...


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 03 Jun 00 - 10:08 PM

Sure...you can establish your own song list but we are discussing the fair/uniform use of the filter of your choice and the fact that you can apply a filter means that you can define the whole.

Not being part of a tradition? I have played tin whistle for ages and tend to specialize in the music of the isle of ireland - both major parts thank you very much! I also teach survey course in Irish Traditional music. I do everything from grand airs of Connemara to the favorites from Margaret Berry and the Chieftains with whom I have shared many a Guinness (ok maybe 20) I have sat at the feet of many of the exponents of the tradition of the Isle of Ireland and learned tin whistle by ear from a donnegal native we were instructed for rounds in the pub and I still play with hands in mirrored image position as from watching. If my daughter learns from me she will have her hands in the right position!

I have loads of tunes in my head. They include irish and english. A good and growing number of geordie songs.

It is very important for me not to make any rules as Gaughan has done in regard to not singing songs for a reason (divisiveness) I play whistle and it is a bit difficult to sing at the same time so I am more tune oriented than lyric oriented.

I am not a commercial musician so I play mainly what comes to mind. I am not dependant upon pleasing anyone generally but I can do requests. When I played with a small band I found it most discouraging to keep to the short list of shared tunes. I can understand how musicians can let themselves focus too narrowly. I also find that I am not concerned with the titles of tunes. When not playing the mouth is otherwise occupied with food and drink so I am not so concerned about announcing.

What is the filter I apply- who knows.....On the 12th of July I play Orange favorites and on March 17 I play Green ones. Sometimes the wrong ones still even come out then as well.....I think I can truthfully say that overall I have not imposed any filter other than that perhaps of mood and ability. I would surely not rule out a tune or lyric for some sort of political or religious reason... Such a shallow way of limiting things.

While I read music (learned when playing French horn which I did into college years and now teach daughter) I do not read music when playing whistle. It is all in the head or not at all....

The tradition is a bit ecclectic but it is none the less a tradition....

I think it is very important that all musicians become independent of gigs. I respect the fact that some musicians are gig dependant but if you trust your art you will always be able to hold an audience. It is important to take steps to help your audience to grow. A mindless audience calling for the same five songs is not something to encourage so the trap should be avoided by preparing well an ever changing and diverse song list.

As for singing songs with spirit- well there are lots of markings in music- flavors of loudness and quietness and indications for speed and for singing from the heart, with passion. All you have to do to sing a song of another point of view with passion is to drop your intolerence and master your instrument.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Jun 00 - 06:29 AM

One or two people are posting really intelligent and interesting stuff on this thread. I may or may not agree with either of them, but that is not the point at the moment. I wish the people on both sides who just want to fling insults would do so somewhere else.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Brendy
Date: 04 Jun 00 - 11:20 AM

I'm sorry for saying this, Richard, (and I mean no insult) but the only one who has refreshed this thread in the past 24 hours, outside of the person who scours this site in various guises insulting nations and peoples, is yourself.
As for intelligent and interesting stuff, I couldn't agree more. There is certainly some 'interesting' stuff. It's meaningless posts that add nothing to the 'discussion', and unfortunately the one above fits straight into that category; these are the ones which keep this thread current.
I'm afraid Conrad, as he has shown before, is not interested in discussion (his argument shifts from black square to white square, but never forward), he is only interested in having the last word.

Which you, and now by my reply to you, has given him the opportunity to have yet again.
I don't have discussions with people whose sole purpose is to pour scorn on the condition of others from their ivory towers in cyberspace

A balanced and healthy diet helps.

B.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: GUEST,Barrygeo
Date: 07 Jun 00 - 11:13 AM

Conrad, I am happy fpr you that you have managed to steep yourself so much in the tradition. I won't bore you with any pedigree but consider this. As I understand your argument in its simplest traditional players and singers should learn and perform music and song from as wide a source as possible. Surely the opposite is true. What led to such a vibrant diversity of music in Ireland was localised syles and songs. Your proposition would eventually lead to a bland mush of all styles and songs. I would say that with the popularisation of Irish Music there has had a devestating effect on diversity. For instance we had the spectacle of Munster Rugby supporters singing The Fields of Athenry, a Connaught song, in Twickenham when really they should have been singing 'The Aisle.' Are we to lose the music of 'Sliabh Luachra' or Donegal fiddling on the altar of 'the whole'. Must every person in the Orange tradition learn a green song and vice versa just to protect the sensitivities of others. In my view the whole would be reduced and suffer. Each musician receives a tradition from the collective memory of his/her teachers. Hopefully we each have an opportunity to add something of worth. My belief is that the good survives and the bad is lost. Unfortunately in this era of mass popularity and recording a lot more is surviving which may be of dubious quality.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 07 Jun 00 - 10:26 PM

The traditon of the songs of the island of ireland is not the tradition of the world. It is actually quite limited though diverse and a bit complex. But it is not huge. When I go into an irish pub in the united states I hear very little of the whole tradition. The lack of diversity is there for very silly reasons.

Very good musicians cater to intolerent audiences and fail to diversify. It would water nothing down to add to the ten favorites another ten. And the audience which on the whole does not listen to the lyrics would not care one way or the other and would be generally hard pressed to be able to identify any of the songs as being of the other tradition. (in basic sound the songs are almost identical!) I have done this very test! I entered a republcan Irish american bar and in the break had the bartender put in a tape of orange songs. The croud was just as at home with the music as with any other. They were actually into it tapping their feet to the lambeg and enjoying it. At the tail end of the break I asked an Irish american catholic republican accordian player (a favorite of Bill Clintons) to listen more closely to the music that the croud was so enjoying. He then recognized an orange song ran to the bar and told the bartender to get that "shite" out of the tape player. This sort of intolerence my friends is the problem. This is why the music is limited and not because the tradition is that much divided in style and sound.

I will tell you one thing. The first quality band to record a cd with 50% orange and 50% green songs will sell millions----> simply because 50% of the songs will be totally new yet sound very much like all the rest. This needs to be done and someone of the stature of Gaughan should be man enough to "tear down that wall" and give the other songs a chance.

Within the tradition of the isle of Ireland there is great diversity, yet the music played regularly is quite limited. The reason for this limitation is not usually real but extremely arbitrary and narrow minded and based upon intolerence and a lack of courage to diversify. I do not advocate turning Irish music into world celtic music that would go too far and you are right it has gone too far already, and it is and would be unreasonable.

I would simply say that limiting yourself to the 10 overplayed songs should not be necessary and within the small tradition of Irish Ballads of solidarity as a whole one can be a bit broader than the top ten overplayed songs without taxing one's brain.

If musicians follow Gaughan's lead and refuse to play songs of solidarity which one does not like yet, which are good songs an unreasonable and silly filter is being applied which tends to celebrate the intolerance of the audience and the performer.

Intolerance should not be celebrated. Instead where it is found it should be broken down. You do this by learing a wide range of songs as possible withing the relativly small tradition of the isle of Ireland and not by imposing some sort of arbitrary filter based upon the intolerence of audiece or performer.

I have never met a bad song but I have met overplayed songs generally kick the brits rebel songs. Just because the audience likes a song is no reason to keep playing the same set. Trust your art and your musicianship. A broad range played well will also please.

In Baltimore Maryland I have never ever heard a kick the pope song played- yet they are just as well written as any of the kick the brits songs which are the life blood of the pub performer.

Why? Simple! Musicians are lazy and cave to the intolerence of the audience and with people like Gaughan setting the example well.....they follow.

My point is that within the tradition (of the isle of Ireland) musicians should resist being too narrow or imposing silly filters (such as Gaughan has advocated against songs of solidarity of only one side).

This is basically an intolerant characterization/definition fo the music by political criteria whereas music should be free to enter the mind and air without such filtering. Once it enters the air it can sink or swim however, much music is now being drowned before it has ever been played. Let us get the intollerent to stop holding this music's head under water before it can surface to be judged-a process which Gaughan advocates and which only re-enforces intolerence.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: GeorgeH
Date: 08 Jun 00 - 10:34 AM

There's thread creep, and there's thread sabotage. Conrad is - not for the first time - guilty of the latter. If this were a membership club I'd gladly move for his expulsion, not because I object to him expressing his views (if that were a problem I'd be moving to expel 55% of 'catters, whereas Conrad is unique in this disrespect) but because of his utterly selfish, deliberate, anti-social disruption of on-line conversations.

I've met more bigoted individuals (on both sides of the Northern Ireland "division", for example) but no more anti-social one. In a free society I'd do everything possible to avoid his overbearing company . .

G.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Jun 00 - 03:42 PM

Brendy, I fear I have to disagree with you. While I might not agree with everything Conrad says (in particular I tend to think that most organised Christian religion, and indeed from what I know of it, most organised non-CHristian religion is socially harmful and at times malicious) but he does say it in a rather interesting (if lengthy and oblique) way.

I would rather the tradition did include songs of both Irish political orders. I would rather the tradition permitted those who wish to to sing religious songs. I would rather it permitted those who wish to to sing sensual or even obscene songs. I would permit the malicious "Old Alarm Clock" and indeed the celebration of dogfighting in "Champion he was a dandy". If a german visitor to our club is bold enough to sing the "Horst Wessel" song, good luck to him. I would even defend an English singer who wished to sing "Die Lindenbaum" in german despite its connotations.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Brendy
Date: 08 Jun 00 - 04:49 PM

Richard. I do not have a problem as such with the songs of the Ascendancy in Ireland, and I recognise these as part of the tradition. Many's the time I have given a rousing rendition of 'Biddy McDowell', but as a general rule songs like these don't suit what I 'do'.

This 'selectiveness' in what I perform has no bearing on the fact that they exist, and in my humble opinion, have a right to exist.
I am hardly going to sing a song which goes against my 'principles' to satisfy some mythical need from a hypothetical audience, that our bearded friend would have us believe, demands the song. That is prostitution, and I have elevated above that 'need' to be accepted.

This is really the crux of what Conrad's point is. He would have us sacrifice the 'wheat' for the 'chaff', and if that were to be done, the quality of the music would suffer. To suggest that I am not of the north of Ireland musical tradition; I come from the most troubled of it's towns, is ludicrous, and by association, to say that I don't sing a representative cross-section of the music is also inaccurate.
The songs that Conrad would have me, and others, sing, are hardly sang by their 'own people', except at times like this, as the 'Marching Season' starts it's yearly procession of hate.

I do not sing songs of hate. The songs of the Irish resistance to English occupation are not laced with triumphalist gingoistic coat-trailing, as Orange songs are, and in that way cannot be differentiated from the songs, say, of the anti-Nazi faction of the French during WW2.
Songs of the Ulster-Scot Ascendancy, from the 'Battle of The Diamond' (8 miles from my home) onwards have nothing to do with love of one's neighbour, or how difficult it is to get the hay in.
These songs are incitement to riot - 95% of them are.

It is to the credit of people like Bobby Hanvey and others who have focused on the tradition within the tradition, that have helped to popularise songs of Unionism; had they not done so, that 'tradition' would have stayed where it always had been, marginalised, except to a greater extent.
Unionist songs are, for the most part, factually untrue, musically weak, and socially unsingable.
Irish songs, and I use this term to denote songs written by those who classify themselves as Irish, whether they be conformist or non-conformist, on the other hand are generally none of the above.

'You can't beat a good song' they always say. And if 'Loyalist' songs can't cut the mustard any more, except during ritualistic shows of superiority, then less and less people will sing them.

This is something You or I cannot influence. I have no more interest in being a reviver of the Orange song cycle as a philanthropic excercise, no more than I crave to highlight the plight of the Greater Spotted European Song Thrush, or whatever, and how life has been shitty to it in recent times.

I don't define the music, I just play it. And north of Ireland traditional music is heavily Scottish influenced. Listen to a fiddle player from Corofin, and then to Paul Bradley, or someone. It's right there in the right arm. Listen to me accompanying Trad, and then to a guitarist from Cork. There is no mistake where we all come from. Take the north of Ireland accent, and regional dialects. And this includes the Irish language.

He ain't debating, Richard.
He's involved in a bit of cyberspace masturbation.

And he's lovin' every minute of it!

B.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 08 Jun 00 - 09:35 PM

No sense arguing with someone who insists that his tradition as a monopoly on goodness. That must be wonderful- all that truth and singability in all of your songs! To have wheat you must have chaff so you must be eating it all mixed in if you dont see it! Sort of like the people who's farts dont smell! No incitement in republican songs? (do I have to cite the lines again...."off to Dublin in the green in the green....." a song of incitement if I ever heard one and it can be heard on any given weekend in Baltimore amongst others.....Where have you been! I think the prostitution is yours- to the republican line. Remember that your lot have their ritualistic shows of superiority each March 17 when they march war clubs in hand shouting the irish are coming etc....

Enjoy your music but it is a pitty that you can not see the goodness in the works of art of others just because you do not agree with a small aspect of the total multidimensional reality we call song and verse. One eyed people do quite well I hear! good luck to you.

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Jun 00 - 05:26 AM

Any song from any tradition that incites hatred against people because of their religion is better left unsung at a time like this especially. Leave it in the archives.

I don't know of any good songs we'd lose by that non-sectarian rule of thumb.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: GUEST,Barrygeo
Date: 09 Jun 00 - 08:27 AM

Conrad Your american experiences are irrelevant to me. There, Irish music has been hijacked by extremists and used for years to extract funding from the 'cry in your beer brigade.' The unfortunate result is that if you sing certain songs you are branded by people like yourself who dont understand the nature of the tradition.

There are two major traditions on this island. We are trying to get to a stage where we can mutually respect the other. My musical tradition is one which does not include orange songs. I have no desire to learn any. Why should I? They are not relevent to me. I have no problem with the music. However I would not sit in a pub and listen to music which I found offensive. Nor would I expect anyone to listen to me if my songs caused them offense. For instance one of my favourite's is 'The bold Fenian Men' because my mother sang it to me as a lullaby. It is not a glorification of war but northern ptoestants might well find it offensive. I would sing it in my local where ir would be acceptable. I was once shunned by a group of Notherners when I sang 'The Town I loved so Well'. I thought it was a fine song but it turned out the listeners were from East Belfast and thought I was being offensive. The notion that songs like 'of to Dublin in the Green' would incite people to pick up guns and start killing people is a joke. You may have spent 'hours sitting at the feet of 'The Chieftains' etc but you have failed to learn the nature of IRish Music. By the way if you dislike 'off to Dublin in the Green so much why do you go back each weekend to hear it. Most people that I know that play or listen to Irish music are non-political. The reason they play well known ballads is to get a sing song going.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 09 Jun 00 - 02:56 PM

1. There is one tradition with several parts. The parts are more alike than different.

2. Orange historical ballads should not offend anyone. most people here as I have said dont even listen to the lyrics and if folk are offended by a simple historical song they are hyper sensitive and thats their problem you dont overcome it by avoiding the music.

3. If you would give up feeling offended by a small aspect of a song you could sit and enjoy them all -do it now it is easy.

4. Audiences which are intolerent need no music at all. Help them to understand.

5. I dont think songs make people kill people- to think so is a joke. But both sides have songs that pull the mind to violence that is what songs of solidarity are all about. They are however more song,music and verse than political message derived therefrom.

6. I think the Ploughboy is a wonderful song melody and verse going together well and quite pleasing. I listen to it because that I am not preoccupied with politics and appreciate the treasures of music both lyric and notation. Why should I get up from in front of a well pulled pint just because I dont agree with one small aspect of a song. Silly!

7.Most Irish musicians I know play anything the audience wants to hear even if it is political supports the IRA and terrorism. They can not say no to money. Too bad! We have way too many professional patronized musicians who sell out and in so doing also censor the tradition. More folks should just sit down and play the tunes that come into their head without worry as to the political content.

I have a feeling that most folks on this thread so far do not know any orange/loyalsit/unionist songs! Try them out- learn one and see if anyone really cares! http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/5567/ooooo.html

Conrad


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Brendy
Date: 10 Jun 00 - 12:56 AM

I know them all, Conrad. By heart! You haven't been assuming enough about us, old stick.

And you haven't been doing it, far removed from any real hands-on experience.

You are a Plastic Orangeman, Conrad!

And an Armchair Unionist.

And a bigoted one at that!

I see your other threads are doing quite well.

B.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: GUEST,Chantywrassler (on another's PC)
Date: 10 Jun 00 - 03:13 AM

It should be patently obvious to everyone that no amount of argument, or persuasion will effect any change in Conrad's opinions.

I believe him to be mistaken, as (evidently) do almost all the other contributors to this thread.

And yet, this thread keeps on floating to the top of the pile. (And yes, I am aware that I have just floated it back up there again.)

The songs people choose to sing in public reflect their upbringing as well as their own personal opinions and mature life experiences.

I live in Glasgow. For historical reasons, Glasgow is about the only UK mainland city apart from Liverpool, which has been subject to echoes of the tensions that polarise the communities in Northern Ireland.

For myself, and speaking for the other members of the folk club I most regularly attend, we regard ourselves as "mixed company". Apart from one or two people who I know well, I neither know nor care what "allegiances" people may feel. But, because we are mixed company, we refrain, all of us, from singing anything that could offend, or inflame, other members. There are no rules about this... no-one has ever said it .. no-one needs to say it... we gather together to sing for fun.

I used to run a pub in Glasgow. And despite the image that is often portrayed of "a city divided", in fact, when in "mixed company", people are careful not to give offence, because, IN this city, offended parties often respond very vigorously indeed. So people get along. Another example. Apart from a few pubs which are blatantly partisan, in most pubs in Glasgow it is forbidden to wear scarves, or strips supporting your football (soccer) team. The sign usually says "No Colours!". - which has spawned a few arguments and gasps in visitors from the States ... it's an attempt to reduce possible causes of friction.

The reason for this is that this city is shared. It is shared by people of many origins - Scots, Irish (same thing really), English, Jewish, Italian, Indian, Pakistanis, Chinese.... etc..

We share it. We are all entitled to live here without being offended or threatened. (And that extends to singing or being sung at.)

In summary:

I probably won't ever sing songs of either (Irish) tradition - not any that refer to conflict or division.

But it's my choice. Other people make different choices.

They are entitled to.

Cheers.


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: barrygeo
Date: 13 Jun 00 - 08:36 AM

Conrad You have exposed your complete ignorance of the traditions of the Island of Ireland despite having appointed yourself as 'an expert.' God help your students!

1.'There is only one tradition..' is rubbish. There are a multiplicity of traditions many of which are under threat.

2.People should not be offended by songs... Try listening to them when you are barracaded into your house with a mob marching up and down the street outside as will happen on many streets over the next couple of months.

3.This will be my final post here and I will say a prayer that you develop a wonderful interest in Greek music and stop meddling in our tradition.

Barrygeo


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Conrad Bladey (Peasant- Inactive)
Date: 13 Jun 00 - 02:52 PM

what do you mean your tradition! you just noted that there were a multiplicity of traditions.... I would call them parts of the one larger but yes they do exist and you should remember that. You dont have to be barracaded in your house go out and enjoy the parade. (generally folks who barracade themselves in their houses do so because they dont want the RUC to find the petrol bombs with which they hope to welcome the parade!) To learn more about the tradition of the island that you seem to be intent on trashing go here-just clickit! Clickit here


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: Frank McGrath
Date: 13 Jun 00 - 07:51 PM

I agree with George H completely.

This thread has been AMBUSHED.
An interesting debate has been derailed with tangential VENOM.
When George is either disinterested or uncomfortable with a thread he will avoid it allowing others to partake of their interest unhindered.
If George has something to say we will contribute IN CONTEXT.
If George has something special to say he will start a NEW THREAD.

He is an honorable, generous and fair-minded person. When he speaks out strongly it is only in the face of considerable affront.

This thread and it's original subject, Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition' is now defunct due to intolerance and selfishness. So what do we do? Do we try to ignore ignorance and continue without regard? Do we "take the bait" and degenerate each legitimate debate into an incoherent "slagging match"?

I do not condone censorship but in the most extreme situations. I find however that most fools, ignoramus' and bigots eventually tire in the face of stubborn intelligence.

Illigitimae non carborundum.
Don't let the bastards grind you down.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Gaughan on the nature of 'Tradition'
From: barrygeo
Date: 14 Jun 00 - 09:13 AM

Conrad - Goodbye At last you have revealed yourself. Anyone who disagrees with you is a petrol bomber!! QED Other readers can judge for themselves!!!

Slan agus Beannacht

BArrygeo


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