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Methodologies II

Related threads:
Help: French Canadian Folk song research (18)
Origins: A methodology for dating songs etc. (50)
Music Research at Library of Congress? (23)
Methodologies (71) (closed)
research of tunes (12)
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Doing research: need help!! women in trad music (31)
lyrics from a field research project (7)
Methodologies -- who writes the songs? (12)


Jerry Friedman 27 Feb 98 - 02:31 PM
Joe Offer 27 Feb 98 - 02:42 PM
Bruce O. 27 Feb 98 - 03:28 PM
Bert 27 Feb 98 - 03:50 PM
Bruce O. 27 Feb 98 - 04:14 PM
Jerry Friedman 27 Feb 98 - 04:24 PM
Bert 27 Feb 98 - 04:28 PM
Bill D 27 Feb 98 - 04:31 PM
Bruce O. 27 Feb 98 - 05:15 PM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 27 Feb 98 - 05:20 PM
Corinna 27 Feb 98 - 05:24 PM
Joe Offer 27 Feb 98 - 05:47 PM
therapon 27 Feb 98 - 05:52 PM
Joe Offer 27 Feb 98 - 05:53 PM
Joe Offer 27 Feb 98 - 05:58 PM
Bruce O. 27 Feb 98 - 06:14 PM
Joe Offer 27 Feb 98 - 06:54 PM
Art Thieme 27 Feb 98 - 07:39 PM
Jack (who is calle jack) 27 Feb 98 - 09:00 PM
Bill D 27 Feb 98 - 11:17 PM
chet w 27 Feb 98 - 11:56 PM
Joe Offer 28 Feb 98 - 03:58 AM
Earl 28 Feb 98 - 09:55 AM
chet w 28 Feb 98 - 07:23 PM
wysiwyg 26 Mar 01 - 12:51 PM
GUEST,Roll&Go-C 26 Mar 01 - 03:27 PM
GUEST 27 Mar 01 - 11:25 AM
GUEST 27 Mar 01 - 11:25 AM
GUEST 27 Mar 01 - 11:50 AM
GUEST 27 Mar 01 - 11:51 AM
MMario 27 Mar 01 - 12:20 PM
toadfrog 27 Mar 01 - 10:22 PM
Rick Fielding 27 Mar 01 - 10:48 PM
John P 28 Mar 01 - 09:10 AM
toadfrog 26 Sep 01 - 11:01 PM
GUEST,Russ 27 Sep 01 - 08:50 AM
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Subject: Methodologies II
From: Jerry Friedman
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 02:31 PM

I'm starting a new thread so we don't have to scroll over all that nonsense.

I'm against hard and fast definitions in matters like this. The risk of wasting space on things that are off the topic is minor, and the DT folks can deal with it easily if they ever feel the need. I see no reason for them to have a coherent policy. As a friend of mine used to say, "Whenever someone says 'policy', they're explaining why they won't do what you need them to do."

And now I'm going to test this theory by talking about science fiction. Alice, I did enjoy A Canticle for Leibowitz, by the late Walter Miller (especially the original novelette, which was the episode about the illuminated manuscript). Did you know that a sequel is out or due soon? Apparently it was almost done, but was finished after Miller's death by the brilliant Terry Bisson.

The Art's-uncle's-gun/George-Washington's-ax joke is part of a 2000-year-old tradition. For the Greek philosophers, it was Theseus's ship. After every voyage he replaced a few planks, till eventually none of the original ones were left.


Link to previous Methodologies thread


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 02:42 PM

Nonsense, Jerry? NONSENSE???? All that typing I did, and you call it nonsense? Well, maybe you're right. I think there is a lot of value in the discussion in the previous "methodologies" thread, but not when it drifts into the area of what should be excluded from the forum. I think a general spirit of open-mindedness will serve us better, and I think that spririt is what has prevailed over the year-and-a-half that we've had this forum.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Bruce O.
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 03:28 PM

There are many evils to strict definitions, which one can't do precisely anyhow. But with no definitons one is left with little to guide one to find something in a mountain of data.

My ideal, which I don't really know how to do, is to have a many sided box with flexible walls, each with some kind of label on it, [something like Bert's? (darn, I can't check the other thread from here) categories on the other thread] and for each song under consideration see if we can stretch the wall a little one way or the other to reasonably include or exclude it. 'reasonably' here is the catch, since one mans logic is often another's chaos. That will be where the really heavy fighting starts. I've got a son who's title has recently been assigned to him as 'Cryptological Engineer'. He is a computer scientist who specializes in implementing encryption algorithms in software for data security. If I didn't know what he did, I probably would never guess what his title meant. (His escape is to do juggling gigs on weekends, because he could never sing or play an instrument any better than I, but he's a lot better mathematician than I am.)


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Bert
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 03:50 PM

I didn't intend the list to be exclusive in any way. It was just some slots to fit things into.

I like Dick's philosophy, He will accept anything that people take the trouble to send in.

My personal opinion is that Folk includes anything that people* are singing**. We all need to be singing the songs that we like and don't 'not' sing something just because someone else doesn't think that it is Folk. That way, some of the good stuff being written and sung now, may get preserved for future generations.

*People - meaning a lot of people, not just any select group.

**For example, over the last couple of years I have heard 'The Mary Ellen Carter' being sung in many different groups. It certainly wasn't a folk song when it was written, but it is now and looks like becoming traditional eventually.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Bruce O.
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 04:14 PM

There I would disagree (and I like most of his songs). The song has not been around long enough to know whether it will survive a second generation of singers, and be learned from older singers independent of a printed text. That's why I suggested a minimum of 60 years from printed source on the other thread.


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Jerry Friedman
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 04:24 PM

YOU, Joe "Slack" Offer, typed all that?

I like what Bruce said: "flexible walls".


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Bert
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 04:28 PM

You may be right Bruce O. Has anyone done a study of the age of the songs in DT?


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 04:31 PM

I totally agree that 'strict' definitions are not possible in something like this....but when I argue for flexible, usable, definitions that allow categories and 'litmus tests', it seems that some just do not even want to discuss the possibility! There is a big difference between "we can't do that" and "I don't like it, it cramps my style".

For about a year now, (with loooonng breaks) I have offered not only reasons why people need categories and usable definitions in many of the things they do..(not just in music), but also examples of categories, definitions and decision making processes which could be used.....but except for a few questions and critiques about details, this does not seem to interest very many.

There are friendly, gentle reproofs to my crusade...."a general spirit of open-mindedness will serve us better"....*grin*, Joe...and some not-so-gentle reproofs..."why does everything have to have labels & tags?" even a few fairly caustic remarks.

A few may remember that I said I was trying to write this all up in a complete way...like a term paper, or what have you....and I shall continue...and when I have it, I will offer it to those who wish to read it. Until then, I think I will largely avoid these discussions and just play music and post songs. I have always been aware that there was not much I could do about it anyway....people post what they want and reply to what they want. It is I who must learn to live with a forum which is broader than I might wish........and the value of this forum is SO great, that I would much rather do the extra work of sorting out what is extraneous to my interests, rather than fanning the flames of disagreement.It will also save me a GREAT deal of time and energy!!...*wink*....

I do take consolation that there HAVE been more instances where really off-the-topic requests have been referred to other venues since these discussions began...it is always useful to at least 'air' a topic occasionally....now...I gotta go and dig up some words someone asked for.....peace....


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Bruce O.
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 05:15 PM

Bert, that would take nearly a lifetime. No restrictions were placed on age of contributions to DT that I know of. And as to my 60 years, that's going to be a judgement call in many cases, since we often don't have any solid evidence. Next, problem, who judges? A rough guide may be just to follow what professional folklorists have collected. But even then where do we put some non-professional collectors, like Ford for his 'Traditional Music in America'? Some biographical notes on Ford make it seem like he tried hard to avoid coming in contact with any professional folklorists.


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 05:20 PM

Somebody in the previous thread mentioned Stan Rogers sounding traditional. I note that "Watching the Apples Grow" is to the tune of The Cherokee Shuffle, which the liner notes don't mention. There was also some mention on one of the folk newsgroups that "Flowers of Bermuda" is to the tune of an older song too.


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Corinna
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 05:24 PM

I didn't realize that you all had moved over to another thread so I posted my 2 cents worth on the original. Sorry, but I don't feel like re-typing it here. I would be interested in seeing Bill D's paper effort to categorize the art of song, mostly folk. Somewhat related to the topic, I am working on a program to trace music across time and continents. I am curious to hear what this group, Mudcat Masters of Music, would consider the definitive collection of classic folk songs that have travelled across country and continent boundaries. Please keep in mind the Bruce O. 60 year rule and that changes to lyrics or music are okay as long as the original or earliest know version is still recognizable. Ladies and gentlemen, let the nominations begin...


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 05:47 PM

Here's your previous message, Corinna:

Subject: RE: Methodologies From: Corinna Date: 27-Feb-98 - 05:00 PM

I personally like diving through the bins/barrels for the long lost treasures (archived and archaic music). To limit the definition is to "box" the musical spirit of many performers and songwriters who are not easily catergorized. Just like mallards, the ugly, lame, and dead ducks are ducks too. Don't be surprised to find an occasional swan who crosses over categories either since neither ducks nor swans read labels like Folk Traditional, 60's kinda Folk, Folksy Sounding Wannabes, etc. Ducks and boxes aside, I agree with Earl for clarity of purpose and Steve (Electric Kool Aid Testing just might be the way to acid test -pls forgive the pun- if a song or singer is "worthy"). Just a reminder that being a folk snob is most likely to be seen as an oxymoron by others, including the long dead folks who created and sung the songs in the first place.


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: therapon
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 05:52 PM

I, too, would be very interested to read your essay, Bill D. I hope I misread the discouragement in your last post. People do get argumentative (me more than most) but all, I think, within the boundaries of the respect they seem to have for one another.

Speaking of boundaries, let's not get overly silly: they exist for traditional* music, and, for example, Olivia Newton John, however much we admire her early-80's spunk, does not fall within them. It might help people feel better if they realized that a definition is not a policy. The digitrad will not lose its inclusiveness just because we are discussing this matter. But a definition is a useful analytical tool, and for some, an interesting topic to hash out in and of itself. To those who do not feel it's a useful or interesting discussion, thas' cool. To those who sense the impending tyranny of the definitional autocrats, relax.

In fact, boundaries may not be the right word at all, and if "definition" is defined by boundaries, perhaps we should change our terminology to something less scary. Categories, maybe. The key is to follow Bruce's idea of a flexible box. Wittgenstein (actually in an attempt to "define" art; close to our quest here) came up with the idea of family resemblances. You cannot say before a child is born that she will look such-and-such a way. But once she is born, you can say, "yeah, I see her father around the eyes." In other words, it's not something that you can rigidly define, but there are certain characteristics of traditional music that you can recognize as such when you see them, characteristics that limit the category. Anyone who thinks otherwise, should go out and buy "Let's Get Physical".

*Because I also follow Bruce in his preference for "traditional" over "folk", I am using that terminology. Who are the "people" anyways? They don't really exist as their own unit except in a very amorphous, socially-constructed way. To call the genre traditional puts the emphasis foremost on the music as opposed to the performers which is appropriate. After all, it is the music which persists.


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 05:53 PM

Bert, I'll bet the average of the songs in the database is probably well over a hundred years. When you figure that the "new" stuff in the database is mostly from the 60's, the traditional stuff has to be really old.
Now, maybe it be an interesting idea to study the average age of the participants in this forum. That might be truly frightening. Heck, I heard of one Luddite here who doesn't believe in stereo. (snicker) I wonder if we have any flat-earth folkies around here....
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 05:58 PM

So, therapon, is that the boundary, Olivia Newton John??? I think I can live with that.....
Sorry, Olivia. You're cute, but you're not folk any more.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Bruce O.
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 06:14 PM

Joe, I used to think that a song should be over a hundred years old, but some examples have led me to change my mind. I don't think a lot of the songs in Laws 'American Balladry from British Broadsides' (all in DT) were that are old when collected.

One example: Look at "Marching to Fenario" in Sharp-Karples and some other collections. The Scots "Bonnie Lass of Fyvie, O" is a version of the song (It's rewritten from an Irish ballad "Pretty Peggy of Derby, O", c 1780, but uses the original Irish tune). The rewritten American version was never sung to that tune. The American version is from 'Pretty Peggy and other Ballads', Oliver Ditson, 1880, where it had a new tune. [Ed Cray discovered this from a copy at Harvard. There's another copy at the Library of Congress.] Most of the American versions (fell in love with a lady like a dove) were less than 50 years old when collected. Should they be called traditional songs?


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 06:54 PM

There's the rub, Bruce. I think that "traditional" implies a continuing tradition. With family, or cultural, or ethnic traditions, new practices are continually added to what is thought of as the tradition, and some of the old practices are no longer relevant, and are dropped from the tradition. I think the same should go for traditional music. We shouldn't exclude songs simply because they're new; nor should we include songs just because they're old.
Let's say that during the last Christmas season, our family did a few new things, ate a few new foods, or told a few new stories. If some of those innovations worked, they might become part of the family tradition, even though they were done only once or a few times before. I think it takes a little longer for a song to be brought into the canon of traditional music, but I do believe that new songs are being added as we speak. "Ashokan Farewell" could certainly be one. I'd say "City of New Orleans," "Aragon Mill," and maybe Bill Staines' "River" might be candidates for accelerated acceptance into the "traditional" category. Well, maybe not.
Then again, will we ever include Rodgers & Hart, Irving Berlin, the Gershwins, Cole Porter, and Johnny Mercer on our traditional list? Why not? Their works certainly are considered "standards," performed over and ower again by a host of performers. Something makes me think these songwriters won't ever be called traditional. I think it's because these are songs that are mostly performed by a performer for an audience. They aren't songs that spring from the community. They're wonderful songs and I love to sing them, but they are forms of individual expression, and are not necessarily expressive of any given community.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 07:39 PM

As I said, if I like it it's a folksong---if I don't it isn't! Other than that IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! Art


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Jack (who is calle jack)
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 09:00 PM

My two cents.

The arguement over what is folk, whether strict categories are useful, necessary, or whatever is a great debate. I see a certain danger in using empirical criteria for these definitions. Although such categories provide a level of utility for different types of indexing, they tend, by necessity, to ignore the crisscrossing web of relationships that all musicians and musical ideas have with each other. (These relationships are much akin to the 6-degrees of separation idea that says you can connect any two people in the world through only 6 intermediate relationships, i.e. person 1 knows person 2, who knows person 3, who knows person 4 etc.) Every artist adds his In music, much more than any other art form, old and new ideas can be taken in by the listener and combined and molded into an new idea, and sometimes, as in the case of bluegrass, a whole new genre.

What is unique in music is that the process is neither evolutionary (resulting in increasing sophisticated and unique, complex (higher?), nor entropic (constantly devolving into increasingly simple homogeneous forms). It is not even generational in the sense that old ideas lose their power to foster new musical progeny. In music the age of an idea is usually an indicator of high rather than low fertility.

When musicians of high or low degree talk about their influences they all have at least one story about how they were hit between the eyes (er..ears, sorry) by something they had never heard before. It can be Dusty Springfield on tour in New York hearing "I know something about love" outside an all night record store at 3am and realizing that minute she had found the music she wanted to sing. It can be George Gershwin wanting to write a Jazz piece for classical orchestra. It can be Bill Monroe combining the country and blues music he heard as a boy into Bluegrass. It can be the Beatles hearing Carl Perkins in one decade and Ravi Shankar the next. It can be Pete Seeger listening to Woody Guthrie. It can be Roger McGuinn (current crusader for the preservation of "traditional" music), playing Bach on his twelve string and generating a hit for The Byrds. The point I am trying to make is that the richness of music as we know it is sustained both in the preservation of so-called "original material" and in the interweaving of that materiel into other parts of the total fabric.

Having said that I'd like to close by bringing this back into the context of the "what is folk" discussion. I'd like to do this by taking the two ideas put forward by Frank ITS and rephrasing them. The first I would characterised as "preservation through conservation" wherin "original" & "pure" forms of a particular type are discovered, restored and maintained, much in the way a great library or museum discovers, restores, and maintains original works of literature and art. The second idea, of which Frank cited Joe Offer an example, is the idea of preservation by incorporation and experimentation. From this point of view the various essenses of songs and stories and melodies and harmonies are gathered and culled and distilled and used in a daily creation of new and old music, on every concievable scale. In church, in the home, on the stage, in the studio, on the street, within the schools, within the family, everywhere and anywhere and in any manner you like. In this view musical ideas are akin to the different ingredients that go into the recipes we use to prepare our food. From this perspective it doesn't always (or even often) matter whether your coquille st jacques (or your blues songs) are made (or played) exactly like someone elses, or even as well. Want more mushrooms? Have an idea about modifying the recipe? Good for you! Feel like putting orange rind in your mashed potatoes? Hey, De gustibus non est disputandum buddy, knock yourself out. That's what its all about in the end, isnt it...experimentation, discovery, creativity, and finding what satisfies you personally?

The reality is that both of these points of view have tremendous, abeit complementary merits. I for one would not want to live in a world without the scholarship of the great and small libraries and museums. I recently shuddered at hearing the story of a local school adminstrator that told the school librarian to throw out all the childrens books published before (I think) 1958 because there wasn't room and they wouldn't have relavance for todays kids anyway. Can you imagine throwing out the Big Woods Books as irrelavant?

On the other hand the essence of any art lies as much in the the degree to which we achieve a uniquely personal expression. The satisfaction comes in part from doing it your way, yourself. I would hate it (and be in big trouble) if to be satisfied I had to play the guitar as well or better than the person who's songs I try to play. The pleasure comes not just from hearing the song, or playing the song or sharing the song. It comes from adding my voice to the creative multitude.


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 11:17 PM

A short answer to therapon..'discouragement' is perhaps too strong a word...perhaps some frustration that I can't lay it all out simply and easily...the scheme I envision is not a simple template..'this is in'.... 'that is out'.

My training was in Philosophy...was gonna teach it..(used to teach a bit of Wittgenstein!)...so I have a tendency to weave complex arguments-feeling that I need to outline all the points and anticipate as many objections as I can....and knowing that a short answer leaves too much unsaid and looks awfully incomplete...

(I do like Jack's food metaphor...by all means, put orange in your potatoes, but don't expect your local ethnic restaurant to fix it that way...they cook it 'right'....and aren't you glad that you CAN go out to eat and have a choice of 'traditional' foods cooked 'right' when you want them...*smile*)

so...I am just going to follow all this from arms length,....and maybe I'll have something more substantial to chew on one day soon...Bon Appitite'


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: chet w
Date: 27 Feb 98 - 11:56 PM

This discussion has been done a lot, hasn't it? All I was ever trying to say is that people are entitled to whatever prejudices and biases they choose. The line is crossed when they insist that other people agree with them, and in extreme cases do them some kind of harm. There is that famous story of when Bob Dylan first appeared with his electric band at the Newport Folk Festival in one of those mid-sixties years, and people got MAD. The story goes that Pete Seeger was so enraged that, when they wouldn't let him turn off the power, he tried to take a fire axe to the cables. What kind of nuttiness is this. There's too much nuttiness in the world already.

I'm done, Chet W.


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Feb 98 - 03:58 AM

Well, Chet, I do think a discussion like this has value, if what we're doing is exploring the essence of the music we love. Just is it that makes a song enter into what we call our "tradition"? That process is a fascinating phenomenon. Reflecting on the process can help us understand not only the development of our music, but also the evolution of our language and our entire culture.
Now, if the dicussion is intended to help us decide which people and music and ideas to exclude from our forum, then I'm against it.
-Joe offer-


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Earl
Date: 28 Feb 98 - 09:55 AM

In my opinion, it would be hard to improve on what Jack (who is calle jack) said.


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: chet w
Date: 28 Feb 98 - 07:23 PM

agreed.

Chet W.


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: wysiwyg
Date: 26 Mar 01 - 12:51 PM

Refreshed, since Part One is back up in the threads and getting posts.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: GUEST,Roll&Go-C
Date: 26 Mar 01 - 03:27 PM

Any clue how we can track "significant" changes in a collected traditional song? I like to know about the "base" song, as well as how people have changed it through time. I doubt if a good song is ever "finished" but often the "improvements" are not improvements but the fancy of whoever got hold of the song. I'd like to know more before I begin my own tinkering.


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Mar 01 - 11:25 AM

I would like to add something to a sentiment that has been elluded to in several postings- LIVING TRADITION. A song does not have to be old to be traditional , nor does it have to be exactly as it was 80 or 100 years ago. I do not agree with the idea of preservation in the museum when it comes to my music. The artists of the early recording era, where most of us found our tradition(s), Were doing their own thing. It is not being true to our respective traditions to abandon the pursuit of our own thing and play mere replicas of "the old" ,eternally waking the music. I believe this is why "folk" music only experiences a "revival" every thirty years or so ( here in the states anyway) rather than being "alive and thriving". Too much reverance, not enough Well informed, traditional, Yet adventerous CRAFTSMEN.


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Mar 01 - 11:25 AM

I would like to add something to a sentiment that has been elluded to in several postings- LIVING TRADITION. A song does not have to be old to be traditional , nor does it have to be exactly as it was 80 or 100 years ago. I do not agree with the idea of preservation in the museum when it comes to my music. The artists of the early recording era, where most of us found our tradition(s), Were doing their own thing. It is not being true to our respective traditions to abandon the pursuit of our own thing and play mere replicas of "the old" ,eternally waking the music. I believe this is why "folk" music only experiences a "revival" every thirty years or so ( here in the states anyway) rather than being "alive and thriving". Too much reverance, not enough Well informed, traditional, Yet adventerous CRAFTSMEN.


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Mar 01 - 11:50 AM

I didn't read every posting, but , I don't believe anyone addressed the one thing that is probably messing up the old definition of folk more than anything else- Copyright law. I mentioned it in a posting to the old thread not realizing everyone had moved on to this one. Stack o Lee of blues song fame had his tale told and changed as the singer saw fit. Chain gangs sang sympathetically of ol' Stack as a herioc figure, Others sent him to the gallows for his violent deeds. "Rocky Racoon" ,a similiar character if somewhat less fearsome, never deviates from the same details. He always tries to shoot Dan and always gets shot himself. We are always left to believe "good" Rocky will recover. No one ever sings a version where Rocky passes away in his room as a result of his jealous, possessive, voilent stalker behavior. No one ever follows Rocky to trail. Some singers follow Stack to the Jailhouse, some follow him clear to Hell. This is a problem for the tradition it can't behave the way it used to without breaking the law.


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Mar 01 - 11:51 AM

How come my paragraphs jumble together?


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: MMario
Date: 27 Mar 01 - 12:20 PM

HTML - you need to manually put in the line breaks. see the FAQ for newcomers at the top of the page


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: toadfrog
Date: 27 Mar 01 - 10:22 PM

Why are songs by Phil Ochs folk songs, when songs by Stephen Foster are not? Is it political?


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 27 Mar 01 - 10:48 PM

Actually Toad, neither are folk songs. A case can be made (and hotly debated) for Foster, but I doubt anyone would say that Phil Ochs' songs (one of my favourite artists) are "folk songs".

Rick


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: John P
Date: 28 Mar 01 - 09:10 AM

This same discussion is going on over on the "What is a Folk Song" thread. I'd love to respond here, but I just typed two long messages over there and don't want to repeat myself. Is there any way we can combine the two threads?


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: toadfrog
Date: 26 Sep 01 - 11:01 PM

I am just reading Bronson's book of essays, for the first time. And he says what I would wish to say, a whole lot better than I could:

So many today are becoming aware of folk-song through the medium of stage, screen, radio or phonograph that it is well to insist again and again that most of what they hear is at least as far from genuine folk-singing as the broadsides are from traditional ballads. In strict truth, there is and can be no such thing as a professional folk-singer. A singer who has his livelihood to gain through that medium can never consider the song as an end He must attract and hold the attention of many people, and inevitably he must become aware of those particular aspects of his song and of his performance that arouse the liveliest and most immediate response in the majority of his listeners. Inevitably, he will come to emphasize these elements of repertory and of style: so that, the longer he sings, and the greater his success as an entertainer, the further from genuine folk-singing will be his performance. Of all deleterious influences on folk-song, the most corrosive and deadly is the consciousness of audience appeal.

This is by no means to say that genuine folk-singers do not often bring to their singing a high degree of individuality. But this personal contribution is properly involuntary, inescapable, and below the level of conscious intention. It is an attribute of the song, as in their singing the song exists. A recent collector in Alabama, Byron Arnold, has significantly registered his impressions in this regard. "These songs," he writes, "were sung quietly, naturally, never dramatically, and entirely without the mannerisms and cliches of the concert soloist. It was as if each song, as I heard it, was a creation by the singer for the satisfaction of an inner compulsion. Here is a touchstone of genuineness for our native tradition.

Bronson, Bertrand Harris, "Words and Music in "Child" Ballads," reprinted in The Ballad as Song 112, 128 (U.C. Press, 1969).


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Subject: RE: Methodologies II
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 27 Sep 01 - 08:50 AM

Bill D,

Trying to get ordinary people (the speakers of ordinary language) to deal with complex and subtle definitional discussions, especially about buzzwords, is like trying to teach pigs to sing. Can be a bit of fun if you're in a properly fey mood.

Proper categorization is also a hobby of mine but not one that I share with many others. Learned that the hard way.

What you are referring to as a "term paper" sounds more like an article. Rod Stradling over at Musical Traditions might like it. (http://www.mustrad.org.uk/)

Russ (former philosopher)


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