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Can newly composed song become folk song

GUEST,Ina 16 Dec 01 - 10:51 AM
The Shambles 16 Dec 01 - 11:17 AM
Suffet 16 Dec 01 - 11:37 AM
Bill D 16 Dec 01 - 11:49 AM
Uncle_DaveO 16 Dec 01 - 12:01 PM
Amos 16 Dec 01 - 12:48 PM
GUEST,frankie 16 Dec 01 - 12:55 PM
catspaw49 16 Dec 01 - 12:57 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 16 Dec 01 - 01:05 PM
Bill D 16 Dec 01 - 01:39 PM
Gareth 16 Dec 01 - 01:43 PM
Don Firth 16 Dec 01 - 01:45 PM
Bill D 16 Dec 01 - 01:47 PM
catspaw49 16 Dec 01 - 01:54 PM
Bill D 16 Dec 01 - 02:08 PM
Amos 16 Dec 01 - 02:24 PM
Rick Fielding 16 Dec 01 - 02:32 PM
Leeder 16 Dec 01 - 02:39 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Dec 01 - 02:46 PM
catspaw49 16 Dec 01 - 02:47 PM
GUEST,harvey andrews 16 Dec 01 - 02:49 PM
catspaw49 16 Dec 01 - 02:49 PM
Joe Offer 16 Dec 01 - 03:17 PM
The Shambles 16 Dec 01 - 03:18 PM
catspaw49 16 Dec 01 - 03:25 PM
X 16 Dec 01 - 03:43 PM
catspaw49 16 Dec 01 - 03:45 PM
GUEST,harvey andrews 16 Dec 01 - 03:49 PM
The Shambles 16 Dec 01 - 03:55 PM
The Shambles 16 Dec 01 - 04:03 PM
catspaw49 16 Dec 01 - 04:03 PM
GUEST,Martin Graebe 16 Dec 01 - 04:09 PM
Tinker 16 Dec 01 - 04:14 PM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Dec 01 - 04:32 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 16 Dec 01 - 04:40 PM
Amos 16 Dec 01 - 04:55 PM
The Shambles 16 Dec 01 - 05:14 PM
GUEST,Ina 16 Dec 01 - 06:46 PM
GUEST,Guest 16 Dec 01 - 07:33 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 16 Dec 01 - 07:34 PM
Sorcha 16 Dec 01 - 07:56 PM
Rick Fielding 16 Dec 01 - 08:00 PM
Deda 16 Dec 01 - 08:19 PM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Dec 01 - 08:57 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 16 Dec 01 - 09:00 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Dec 01 - 09:07 PM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Dec 01 - 09:14 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 16 Dec 01 - 09:23 PM
GUEST,John Trudell 16 Dec 01 - 10:11 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Dec 01 - 10:20 PM
The Shambles 17 Dec 01 - 02:03 AM
GUEST 17 Dec 01 - 02:22 PM
GUEST,Ina 17 Dec 01 - 03:56 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 17 Dec 01 - 07:35 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 17 Dec 01 - 07:45 PM
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GUEST 18 Dec 01 - 07:51 AM
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Subject: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: GUEST,Ina
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 10:51 AM

I found this statement in a introduction to English folk song by Maud Karpeles (once Cecil Sharp's co-worker):

'Can a newly composed song become a folk song after a given period of time?...this is hardly possible in present circumstances, for nowadays immediately a song becomes current it is stereotyped by means of print or gramophone record, and no matter how popular it becomes or how often it is picked up by ear, it can always be referred back to the original. Thus its development is stultified.'

What do you think about Karpeles argumentation? I would be very interested in your opinions (I think the book is from the late 50s/ early 60s or thereabouts).


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: The Shambles
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 11:17 AM

This is rubbish. For what were her and Cecil doing if not stultifying a song's development by printing all the versions of the songs they collected?

The idea that a song can only become a folk song if its original author is unknown, is nonsense.

There are many people singing songs, in their own way, thinking they are folk songs without ever knowing when or who composed the songs and so many examples of these songs, where there is an original recording but the current singers are not aware that it was ever made.

Songs are musical statements first and always before they ever become documentary records. They are all open to individual interpretation, in exactly the same way, whether their originator is known or not.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Suffet
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 11:37 AM

She is mistaken. Newly composed songs are the raw material from which all folk songs arise. How many little children who learn "A Place in the Choir" in Sunday school will have any idea that Bill Staines wrote it? Not many. But I am certain they will pass that song down to their children and grandchildren.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 11:49 AM

sure new songs can eventually pass into traditional repetoire!...But the process must be natural and take 'X' amount of time...it doesn't happen by decree, just because some fan of a particular song...or it's author (like Dylan, for example) decides it is so important and wonderful that it somehow deserves early induction...*grin*...It just sort of 'happened' that many folk came to view Woody Gutherie's stuff as 'folk'...and the process is STILL ongoing. The rules are not clear, and there is no universal agreememnt...but Wooody is sure headed there, as is Dylan, I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 12:01 PM

Certainly a number of Steven Foster's many, many songs have been adopted into the folk consciousness!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Amos
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 12:48 PM

Well, yes...but what IS folk music really?

A


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: GUEST,frankie
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 12:55 PM

Aye, that's the question. This morning on liveireland radio I heard a very traditional-sounding Irish singer do a very traditional-sounding version of Stings' "Fields of Gold". f


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: catspaw49
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 12:57 PM

Amos, have you noticed I have this attractive little sprig of mistletoe hanging from my back belt loop? Please......Go ahead.......Kiss My Ass.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 01:05 PM

1. Compose a nice rhyme. 2. Get a catchy tune, partly stolen, partly original. 3. When you perform it say you found it in the lower back woods of the Minnehaha Hills. 4. Don't leave a paper trail, like John Jacob Niles or Fritz Kreisler.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 01:39 PM

and there is always "The Chime Child" by Ruth Tongue, a supposed 'coillection' of songs from Somerset...which is widely suspected of being composed by the author. There are some quite nice songs in it, and I wish there were more definitive answers......if I could write those, I'd sure NOT try to pass them off as 'trad'.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Gareth
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 01:43 PM

Spaw - It's a tad difficult to kiss a behind when you are wearing a Nuke, Chem & Bio warefare suit.

Gareth ( With evil grin)


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 01:45 PM

I see what Maud Karpeles is getting at. It's an "iffy" situation. She is both right and wrong.

It's true that having a song on the printed page or on a recording makes it possible to refer back to that source and treat it as if it were "the correct version." This is a widespread practice in classical music, and appropriately so. If you're playing with or singing to the accompaniment of a full symphony orchestra, you need to "know the score" and perform it correctly in order to avoid chaos. Popular music is a lot looser. Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Clint Black, and Sting may all sing the same song, but each will adapted it to his or her own unique style—maybe even alter the words and tune. Also, if one particular version of a song is constantly pouring out of radio and jukebox speakers wherever you go, this tends to "lock in" that version. But that's usually a short-lived phenomenon, and once that song is replaced by something else, it's free again.

Folk songs are subject to these same influences. I remember being reprimanded because I didn't sing Tom Dooley or The Sloop John B. the way the Kingston Trio sang them, even though I learned the songs before the Kingston Trio's first record came out (Tom Dooley from a Frank Warner record and The Sloop John B. from Walt Robertson in person). I ignored this and continued singing them as I learned them—more or less.

It's that "more or less" part that makes the difference. When learning a song from a recording, sometimes a word or two doesn't come through clearly no matter how many times you listen to it, so you have to bung in the word that you think it might be. Or maybe a line sings very awkwardly, so while trying to keep the original meaning, you change a word or two to make the line easier to sing or more clear. I am opposed to making changes indiscriminately and trying to justify it by saying that I'm just helping the folk process along. If I make a conscious change in a song, I have to have a damned good reason for doing so. Or sometimes you don't realize that you are making changes, and the song gets altered inadvertently. I'm frequently surprised when I pull out an old record I used for a song source years ago and see how much I've changed a particular song without realizing it. Sometimes I change it back, sometimes I just keep doing the changed version, depending. I don't slavishly return to the source if I like my way better. That is the folk process.

Then someone learns a song from me with the changes I've made and they make changes of their own. Thus it goes. The folk process is alive and healthy. It's a long, slow process, and well it should be.

So Maud Karpeles is both right and wrong. Printed and recorded versions of songs have a certain "authority." They tend to cast a song in stone. But if you ignore the "authenticity police" and don't keep referring back to the same songbook or record to make sure you're "doing it right," the folk process is inevitable.

But as for the gink who stands there at the open mike and says "This is a folk song I wrote last week" and then drones on tunelessly for thirty verses. . . . A folk song? Well . . . maybe. But not bloody likely. Time will tell.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 01:47 PM

BTW...both Bruce O. and Malcolm Douglas have 'chimed in' on this issue in an earlier thread...Bruce seems willing to bet that it is NOT authentic 'trad', while Malcolm reserves judgement...whatever the answer is, Ms Tongue did NOT provide enough evidence to be convincing.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: catspaw49
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 01:54 PM

And here is a partial list that needs to be updated of the 3000 previous freakin' threads we've run on the subject:

Threads on the Meaning of Folk

Wanna' talk about "Songcatcher" too?......or maybe Seagull Guitars?

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Bill D
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 02:08 PM

if a Seagull guitar is used in a movie, does that make it traditional?..or do you have to see the movie more than 3 times first? and if an illegal video is made of the movie, does that count against the time it takes to become trad?..and is the Seagull ok if it is not played on camera?

enquiring minds want.....Oh..they don't? well!


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Amos
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 02:24 PM

Spaw:

Here's a time-tested, traditional element of the folk process dating back to before printed records were even INVENTED, so it must be genuine:

UP YOURS, SPAW!!!

And a Very Merry Xmas to you and Karen as well!! :>)

A


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 02:32 PM

I know fragments of this story, so if anyone can enlighten me, t'would be fun to know.

Did John Jacob Niles claim he "collected" 'Black is the Color, Venezuela, Go Way From My window, and I Wonder as I Wander.....and then, when the big bucks royalties started rolling in during the 'folk revival', reverse himself and fess up that he 'wrote them'?

Rick


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Leeder
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 02:39 PM

Some traditions, including Newfoundland (where Ms. Karpeles collected songs) accept recently-composed songs as part of the traditional corpus. ("If it sounds traditional, it is traditional," might be the criterion.) Other traditions don't (including, it seems, the tradition within which Karpeles thought she was working). It becomes a question for the community within which the new song is born. This is as true of today's folk music scene as it was of early 20th-Century Newfoundland.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 02:46 PM

Hasn't this question been discussed endlessly in slightly different guises? I've only been a member of Mudcat for about three weeks, and it seems like this is just another angle about who can call themselves a folksinger.

But then, I am one of them danged singer/songwriters...

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: catspaw49
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 02:47 PM

Rick, you won't find the truth on the Niles website. Have you read it? I'd say it's a lovely combination of idolatry and revisionist history.

Amos(:<))

Bill, the Seagull CAN be used, but only if it's a high-gloss finish and solid wood model AND played off-camera on tunes that are definitely trad, such as "Barbara Allen"....or whichever spelling you choose. However, if the Seagull has been modified to accept a pickup, even if one is not used, it cannot be considered trad in any way. Hope this helps.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: GUEST,harvey andrews
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 02:49 PM

One of my songs, "The Soldier" was collected by a researcher from a soldier with a varient lyric. He did not know the origin of the song, only that it was banned, he said. The researcher passed this on to Roy Palmer the folksong expert who contacted the Ministry of Defence who asked him to hold as they had a spokesperson on this song. The spokesperson informed him that it was written by an ex paratrooper called Harvey Andrews. Roy Palmer then recognised my name. I've never served in the Forces.This was just one of the many myths and legends the song is already carrying. The lyric also won the under 14's poetry competition in the Manchester Evening News and the boy's teacher said she was astounded that he'd written it. He got a booktoken that had to be returned when the phones began to ring! It was also published in the National methodist Magazine as having been written by a prisoner as part of his rehabilitation course, the priest involved being deeply impressed. This song obviously wants to be a folk song and people are trying hard to carry out the folk process...does it qualify???


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: catspaw49
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 02:49 PM

Jerry, you failed to click my link above didn't you? That's only a partial list BTW.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 03:17 PM

I suppose that in some ways, this is just a battle of semantics, and discussions like this become tedious when they dwell on semantics. If it's just semantics, it really doesn't matter.

I think, though, that we generally share the idea that a folk song is one that has become part of our culture and has taken on a life of its own, changing in ways the author had never expected. Yes, songbook and recordings tend to create "definitive" versions of songs and to affect or even destroy the "folk process" in the life of a song - but the folk process still continues on some songs.

I suppose the purest examples we still have are songs made up by kids. Even that has changed, however. We have a great thread currently active, Jingle Bells, Batman Smells. Now, here's something you would think would be a true folk song, because certainly nonbody would want to record or publish a song like this. Trouble is, somebody did. Bart Simpson sang it on the Simpsons cartoon show, and his version suddenly and forever became the definitive version of the song.
Damn. Another good folk song down the drain.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: The Shambles
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 03:18 PM

Harvey, are you sure that it was you that wrote it? *Smiles*

Can anyone remember which one of the many threads, where there were some songs written the subject? There was one I vaugely remember writng about a songwriter going into a coma, coming out and returning to his folk club to find his song was considered as traditional, when he tried to reclaim it?


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: catspaw49
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 03:25 PM

I remember it Rog....I'll look, but that's a great analogy.

Harvey, since your song is trying harder to become folk without you than with you, I'd say it has an excellent shot at doing so. Now if you go for the bucks you will prove it was written for profit which disqualifies it for many as being a folk song. On the other hand, if you let it become so obscure in it's ownership that it will one day become a subject of research around here to find the truth, you will have nothing but the satisfaction of actually composing a folk song.

Harvey.......I think you're screwed.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: X
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 03:43 PM

I just finished working up an arr. for the 5-string of the tune "Califoria Girls" Is that song now a folk song due to instrumentation? I don't think so, it's just a Beach Boy's song played on the banjo. Some songs can become folk songs and some can't.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: catspaw49
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 03:45 PM

Hey Shamb......FOUND IT!!!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: GUEST,harvey andrews
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 03:49 PM

As a pro songwriter all my songs are written for profit. Of course, when I started writing this wasn't the reason and therefore I consider my subsequent writing as not for that reason either, although I do get paid for my work. Should we, according to your stricture, dismiss the great painters as sullied by money and only regard true painting as amateur daubs that nobody wants? A song not sung is a dead song no matter why it was written. The songs that resonate with "the folks" will become folks songs in the end.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: The Shambles
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 03:55 PM

Thanks. I didn't find it but I did find this-

To my great honour and surprise, I found that I had one of my songs in the DT. I had been posting songs to the forum for sometime, as I found it easier, in some cases, to post my thoughts, contained in a song, than to write them. When I came to gather them together for inclusion in The Mudcat Songbook, I found there were quite a number of these songs.

This is not a criticism of the DT or the selection methods used. I only mention it to demonstrate my feelings, as although I was pleased to see a composition of mine there, if I am honest, I was a little disappointed in the fairly untypical nature of the song that represented my efforts.

It was what I would describe as a 'cod' traditional folksong. Written in a setting and style of the past and as a conscious effort (if genuine) attempt to write a (folk) song about a subject that interested me, life on the inland waterways of Britain. For although I honestly thought that this was probably the best way to treat the subject, it was done, as a fairly academic exercise, to see if I could do it.

I did have some knowledge of the subject but the song is not a first hand account or a scholarly work, just mainly, my imagination and personal view. Not too different to most of the other songs of mine that I had posted. So why then, I ask myself, does that one appear in the DT and not the others? Myself does not answer very clearly.

Do songs like these have any merit or do they exist only because of the curmudgeons and their narrow definitions?

Not that I know any curmudgeons (Bill).


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: The Shambles
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 04:03 PM

This is the song in the DT, referred to above.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: catspaw49
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 04:03 PM

Trust me Harvey, it isn't me making the stricture! We've had so damn many discussions about this subject here and it always seems to me that trying to make some hard and fast rule is ridiculous. The profit thing has always bothered me because it rules out some slob writing a song that he likes and all of a sudden it gets popular and eventually enters the time when it can be considered folk. Because he made a profit it ain't folk?

Time is the real test of course, but talking about the rest of it gets really gray. Woody made money and eventually most of his stuff has or will make the folk list. But when the talk is of modern songwriters, it seems that there is some odd line somewhere. Paxton is a songwriter and a folkie and though he made money, it's not as much as some like Dylan who seems to have gone over the $$$line limit. I have never gotten a handle on the whole $$$ thing excert to say that the navel-gazing stuff seems to always make the non-folk list, more because it's too personal to the writer and less for the profit.

Somewhere Bill D. had a really neat kind of breakdown that made a lot of sense as far as what is folk, what is gray but probably will be folk, and several other categories.....It was as rational an explanation as I ever read around here and of course I can't find it.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: GUEST,Martin Graebe
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 04:09 PM

It amuses me greatly that some of my songs are now introduced by singers as "traditional". One of these appears described as such in these pages. I have also had a copy of a CD sent to me from the US with it described as a pagan song. But then, it was written 30 years ago - time is a great stealer!

Martin


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Tinker
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 04:14 PM

Just my two cents.... Over the last 30+ years I've been involved with campfire music, and you can see songs move closer to "folk" . Generations of camp staff change every 5 years at most, so the process gets speeded up quite a bit. I would vote that any multiverse song kids are still teaching each other after 25 years is probably on it's way to becoming a folk song. That doesn't mean I like them or would choose to teach them myself, but somehow they speak to the teens and twenties in a way that continues to keep them alive.

Jet Plane, One Tin Soldier and Try and Catch the Wind still go on..... This summer I heard a call and response jazzed up version of If I Had a Hammer that had the campfire rocking...

Recordings may preserve the original intent of the composer, but from my own experience the version of Power and Glory I learnt at GS Camp in 1968 had little resemblace to the Phil Ochs recording I heard 30 years later. (And I taught it to a lot of kids in between.) It'll happen despite our efforts not because of...

Tinker


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 04:32 PM

It isn't really possible to attempt to answer the question without enlarging a bit on the whole issue of the influence of mass media on the transmission of song in general, but there is no need for a definition of folk music here, nor was one asked for; the specific question can only be addressed by accepting, for the sake of the argument, Maud Karpeles' definition.  Anyone who doesn't know, or understand, what that was should probably consider remaining silent; there is little point in insisting on talking about cabbages when asked for directions to the station.

An Introduction to English Folk Song was first published in 1973, but represents a set of theories initiated largely by Cecil Sharp in his book English Folk Song: Some Conclusions.  This was first published in 1907, and Sharp made it clear at the time that these conclusions were provisional only, and he expected later scholarship to modify them considerably.  The last revision of the book (made by Maud Karpeles) was issued in 1954, and essentially her opinions on the fundamentals of the nature of traditional music seem to have been fully formed by then, though she was by no means so closed to new ideas as people who have not read her writings might suppose.

Maud Karpeles made a perfectly valid point, though it was certainly not the last word on the subject.  More recent scholarship would take a rather broader view, of course, but it is certainly the case that dissemination through mass media tends to distort tradition, at least in the short term, by promulgating "standard" versions which become widespread not necessarily through intrinsic worth, but because they are well-known.  We see examples of this here every day.  It is by no means a new phenomenon; the broadside press had a similar effect during the nineteenth century.  By comparison, the publishing of collected material by Sharp, Karpeles and the others, though very important, has had, in itself, a negligible impact.

A lot of work remains to be done in the study of this process, which is by no means fully understood even now, and there is material for a good few doctoral theses in the subject yet.  Particular work is needed on the mechanisms and contexts through which composed songs are assimilated and re-processed as "anonymous" pieces, often with fictional provenances attached, whether as described in Harvey's post or as in the many cases of songs of known authorship which have miraculously become "traditional Irish" in the imaginations of many.  Whether such pieces are really on the way to becoming genuinely traditional remains to be seen; it is not something that happens overnight.  The fact that one or more people believe a song to be traditional does not make it so.

Baldly to dismiss Miss Karpeles as "wrong", and her opinions as "rubbish", suggests a certain lack of understanding, coupled with not a little presumption; she knew far more about the subject, after all, than do any of us.  Her comments may well have been over-pessimistic, but it is too soon for a definitive answer.  At present, as Don said, the closest we can get to a sensible answer is a qualified (and provisional) "yes and no".

It is depressingly common for people who appear never to have read Sharp or Karpeles to attack them for opinions they did not hold, and for actions they did not take.  Neither of them, for example, believed or asserted that a song with a known composer could not become a folk song; indeed, Miss Karpeles' book contains several specific examples of the products of art-music being adopted into tradition.   She certainly felt that such songs were unlikely to become folk songs in the conditions of the early 1970s, but that is not the same thing.

We may feel that her views were over-cautious and conservative, but we have the benefit of nearly thirty years' hindsight, after all, and we should not presume to believe that we know what her opinions would be if she were alive today.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 04:40 PM

I like to know the origin of songs. I like to see the original and its descendants preserved. Which one will I listen to? The one that appeals to me, whether original or not. I think the history is important, many don't.
We should remember that a currently popular rendition may fade with time, and another will take its place.
In a comparison with classical compositions, one should not believe that the classical composition is fixed. Compare versions by different singers, instrumentalists and conductors, and considerable differences will appear. The "definitive" performance is just the one of the moment. This applies to all categories of music.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Amos
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 04:55 PM

I am absolutely in favor of the folk process; I vote we keep it!! :>)

Malcolm, your dissertation is worthy and full of merit. When I make humorous remarks, saying, "Yes, but what IS folk, really" here and there, it is to get a rise outta Spaw and also, indirectly, to make a point. When you transition from learning and playing songs from the sheer joy of it, and branch into studying their transitions and etymology and chronology, you are shifting hats. Not that you can't wear both, but only one is a "folk singer" hat -- the other is an academic hat. It is not folk music but "about" folk music, which is very different indeed.

As in all things, de gustibus non disputandum and also Chacun a son mauvais gout.

Best regards,

A.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: The Shambles
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 05:14 PM

Baldly to dismiss Miss Karpeles as "wrong", and her opinions as "rubbish", suggests a certain lack of understanding, coupled with not a little presumption; she knew far more about the subject, after all, than do any of us.

Bum! Amos just said it really. I think he said it in latin too (bum that is).

Do people who write, talk about and collect fine old furniture have more knowledge than the craftsman who made and continue to make it?


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: GUEST,Ina
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 06:46 PM

Thank you for all of your comments. Special thanks to Malcom who got the gist of my question ;-)

I simply thought it interesting to read your comments on that specific statement by Karpeles because many of you are musicians/song-writers/as familiar with the topic as you can get. Of course I am aware that this is/was a much-discussed topic on this forum.

I am studying British Cultural Studies so my interest is primarily an academic one. I came across Karpeles' statement while researching for an examination which will be about the folk revival. I guess many musicians don't think much of that kind of approach to their music. But I am and will always be fascinated with folk music and its historical, social/sociological background.

Cheers Ina


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 07:33 PM

But the question still is...is it a dead art or a continuing one.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 07:34 PM

Thank you, Ina. This has been a most interesting thread.

PErsonally, I feel that the newly composed song CAN become a folk song if it maintains a connection to someone or group of people who enjoy it. They may eventually lose sight of the authorship, but as long as the people are enjoying the song, it will be kept alive. That is what makes a folk song.

My opinion, but one I am happy with.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Sorcha
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 07:56 PM

"Can newly composed songs become folk songs?"
Just two words---Malvina Reynolds.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 08:00 PM

Harvey, the next time you visit, I wanna hear some PARATROOPER stories!

Sometimes it depends on HOW these 'composed' folkie songs are sung. My song "Voices of Struggle" became a standard on picket lines throughout Ontario a few years ago (no doubt because of the election of an ultra conservative Govt.) I was surprised to find it also being used (with French translation) as part of the Separatiste protests in Quebec. I asked someone what they thought it's origins were, and was told "probably a Robert Charlebois 'folksong' from the sixties".

It only means that songs like that "worked".

Rick


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Deda
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 08:19 PM

I think that the majority of songs that most American would acknowledge as "folk" songs were newly composed not so very long ago. "Goodnight Irene", "Blowing in the wind", "This land is my land", any John Denver hit, are commonly sung around campfires and described as "folk", and they're relatively recent and easily traced, compared to something like "Yankee Doodle" or "Barbara Ellen". Spaw's ire notwithstanding, the reason Amos' question comes up and people write long tomes about it is that there's no simple answer. Fertile ground for Academics -- they can pontificate forever, and squabble among themselves, and write infinite numbers of PhD theses, while the rest of us have a good time singing.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 08:57 PM

Read the books, Roger (Shambles) so that you know what people actually said before you presume to judge them.   "Bum" says it all, really, though that is not what Amos said (do I really have to translate for you?).  I stand by my comments; so far, you do appear to be talking, not to put too fine a point on it, out of your arse.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 09:00 PM

Harvey- Can't reach you via personal pages, so a quick question (excuse me, people)... I also wrote a song I names, "The Soldier," published in book, Celebration of Life, in 1971. So far it hasn't gone 'into tradition,' as has yours, but I'd like very much to see how they compare. Any chance you'd print one of your verses here? I would oblidge also, if you're interested. Buffy St Marie also has a soldier song, and I was trying to avoid HER title! Jean


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 09:07 PM

Spaw:

Yep, I did click your bluey. Thanks for posting it. As a newcomer to Mudcat, I'm a minnow in the pond. I suppose that as long as there are new minnows, there's nothing wrong with masticating the same topic. If it gets too boring, there's no need to read it...

I Do appreciate the background on previous discussions.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 09:14 PM

Jean: Susanne (skw) posted Harvey's song here:  Soldier


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 09:23 PM

.....ONLY...... TIME..... WILL.....TELL


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: GUEST,John Trudell
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 10:11 PM

Some of us were folk before you folk arrived and our melodies rhythms and words will continue to prevail within our culture long after you are gone


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Dec 01 - 10:20 PM

Folkier than thou?

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 02:03 AM

Malcolm 'bum' was an exclamation at the fact that Amos had just made the point I was going to.

We were asked to comment on the extracts quoted, and that is what we indeed did.

I am sorry you do not like some of those comments or if you feel insulted. It just demonstrates, I think, the difficulties involved in trying to study, preserve and embalm a thing that stubbonly refuses to lay down and die.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 02:22 PM

The real problem with Maud's definition is that it is wrong, and her scholarship is very outdated. If you are seriously studying folk music from a folklore perspective nowadays, you need to get more informed about contemporary research and study in the field of folk music.

Nowadays, the definition given in the original post is considered wrong by any conventional academic folklorist or ethnomusicologist.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: GUEST,Ina
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 03:56 PM

Of course Maud's definition is in a way outdated but 'if you are seriously studying folk music' you also have to consider the theories/opinions/statements of the past because they form the basis for today's studies.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 07:35 PM

Looks like Maud Karpeles was the soldier who put her body on the bomb. History is history, Guest, and doesn't HAVE to conform to today's rules, nor should it. She was right for her time. I knew her well; she was a very bright person, and if she were still living now, she may have rearranged her thoughts about things. And she did mountains of work in collecting/preserving of traditional music and customs, for which we ought all to be forever thankful.

Thanks, Malcolm- and Suzanne, for Harvery's great song. Mine is more abstract, and not nearly as great, but here it is if it should qualify for inclusion in the DT.

O they say that the war's nearly won
And declare there's a change in the wind,
And my feet stumble on, and a year's come and gone,
And they say that the war's nearly won.

Another day shall arise,
Another red morning sun;
All my seasons are counted and marching away,
Just a soldier, and far from my home.

Sweet peace, when will you come again>
You turn like a far star alone...
Will I ever be blest with your innocent rest,
And be free and be safe and be home?

Still they say that the war's nearly won,
And declare there's a change in the wind;
And the years stumble on, and a thousand years gone,
And they say that the war's nearly won.
The Soldier Jean Ritchie, 1971


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 07:45 PM

Joe or Clone- Sorry, the first verse got a line left out. What causes that? I'm sure I typed it! Anyway, it's the second line of the first verse, and should be,

And declare there's a change in the wind;

Thanks for the repair. Tune is on CD, "The Most Dulcimer." Do you have that?


Fixed it. You just typed a <br instead of a <br>. --JoeClone


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: GUEST,Shenandoah
Date: 17 Dec 01 - 08:46 PM

To say that Maud's theory was wrong and is now outdated isn't an insult to Maud by any stretch. A good scholar and folklorist doesn't mind others looking at their work with a discerning eye.

Perhaps some of us are a bit too touchy about our idols?

Welcome Mr. Trudell. Have you heard about the play Minneapolis writer Marcie Rendon wrote about Frances Densmore, the collector of songs among the Ojibway? She did an excellent job of setting the historic record straight about EurAm collecting among native peoples.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Dec 01 - 07:51 AM

Ina,

You are right if the student is critically studying the history of the discipline itself. Many amateur folklore afficionados don't bother with a critical review of the discipline though. Which is why one sees a lot of outdated and erroneous information being passed around as fact when folk music lovers start these "define folk music" threads.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 05:01 PM

On the stated topic of this thread:

Songs written by some, like the fine old-timey musician and song builder, CRAIG JOHNSON, (or Woody Guthrie) are, seemingly, to me, folk songs as soon as they are made.

When a good or great song is created with the style, insights, narrative content and power depicting a real and actual life experience -- from either observing this world and it's people, or from one's own imagination -- then a folk song can be written and just about instantly join the canons of the real thing that were collected and made in other eras. When you hear it, you will know it, but only, it seems, when you come to it with the baggage and tools that allow you to recognize it.

If you don't have the background to see it for what it is, you will make room for it even when it does not belong. Doing that, you will be wrong even though you have convinced millions of others to see things your way.

It's not very democratic, I guess, but it is actual truth I think.

Art


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 05:11 PM

This thread came up in my ONE-day list of Mudcat threads that pops up whenever I come to this forum. But somehow my post was the very last post to be affixed to one from December 18, 2001.

Can someone tell me why an old thread wound up in my queue of topics?

Art


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Stringsinger
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 05:13 PM

If a song endures through variations, changes of locale and verses added or subtracted
to fit new conditions, then it becomes a folk song.

A newly composed song must run like the smoothing of a rock in a stream bed.
Many hands and voices must touch it.

A song in print is as Sam Hinton has said, a photograph of a bird in flight.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Jeri
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 05:14 PM

The thread was refreshed by spam which was deleted.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 05:14 PM

I meant to ask: Why was it there without a recent post placing it there before I found it??
Art


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 05:38 PM

Jeri, thank you. Mystery solved. I'll sleep better tonight.

Frank,

I agree with you! For sure. I am saying that I, personally, have made room in my mind for songs to instantly BE folk songs when they FIT my own empirical, aesthetic and emotional criteria for it. I am reserving the poetic license for myself to know it when it's in front of me. The trad process, as you said, is a big part of that---but once in a while...other stuff goes down.

Once in a while, I think, that stars form in a given nebula when all manner of random gasses are present to light that fire. When Craig Jonson wrote the few songs he ever did write, he made FOLK SONGS. No moon, June, croon tune there. But there are folk stars--as well as Hollywood ones, underground ones, independent film ones and ones that go nova in the night.

"Boom!"

Voila, "Buffalo Skinners!!"

Art


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 05:45 PM

I guess I did say everyone else is wrong.

So, I guess the case was overstated. (To ere is human, to forgive, bovine! ;-)

No bull!!

Art (yet again.)


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 08:53 PM

Art-

But SPAM regenerated this thread and who are we to argue with SPAM?

And we would have missed Frank's post if the thread hadn't been refreshed.

One always hopes that a song one has worked on will be adapted by others and be continued to be sung in some form for years to come.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 05 Sep 09 - 09:38 PM

... which brings me to Twitterdamerung!!!! ....

Sigh....


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: GUEST,Mr Red
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 05:41 AM

it is stereotyped by means of print or gramophone record

Hmmm. now we CAN refer to the original, but how many do?

eg1 Did John Tams write "rich... in their fine array" or "rich ... in their finery" ?

eg2 Ewen MaColl collecting his own song from a Canadian lumberjack who insisted it was old because he learned it at his granny's knee.

eg3 Mondegreens

eg4 the web, far from preserving in aspic is a morass of factoids, misplaced zeal and agenda laden lies - finding the truth (in the context of originality) is a minefield.

eg5 The folk club singers, the festival SAR and the frailty of the human cerebelum still support the aural, and oral, tradition. Of course it is not what it was............


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 01:14 PM

Some would say that for a song to achieve folk song status it helps for the composer to be dead. However, I don't recommend that most singer-songwriters do that.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 01:18 PM

yes.


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Subject: RE: Can newly composed song become folk song
From: Stringsinger
Date: 10 Sep 09 - 06:59 PM

There is one song, "This Land Is Your Land" is known by every school child all over the world. We know the author/composer. Originally, Woody said that his song can and should be changed, amended, added or ? Is it "Little Darling Pal of Mine" or the hymn
from whence the tune comes that connects it to a musical tradition? (See Mudcat's
background on this song.)

Is it a folk song?

At the time of it's inception, no one thought that much of it. It was just another
Woody song. It was taken up later as a wildfire.

Woody was in touch with his own cultural roots. He didn't write it to make money.

But it wasn't written yesterday.

There are variants of it. I've participated in changing some of the words.

One thing, it's not a manufactured song newly minted by some songwriter who thought
that his song was "special". It did go through some kind of folk process as did the song
"We Shall Overcome".

Frank Hamilton


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