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What is wrong with being a purist?

John C. 26 Jan 05 - 03:24 PM
Clinton Hammond 26 Jan 05 - 03:33 PM
Amos 26 Jan 05 - 03:33 PM
GUEST,Sleepless Dad 26 Jan 05 - 03:36 PM
Once Famous 26 Jan 05 - 03:39 PM
Amos 26 Jan 05 - 03:42 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 26 Jan 05 - 03:52 PM
Once Famous 26 Jan 05 - 03:52 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 26 Jan 05 - 03:59 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 26 Jan 05 - 04:00 PM
Stilly River Sage 26 Jan 05 - 04:01 PM
Clinton Hammond 26 Jan 05 - 04:06 PM
Chip2447 26 Jan 05 - 04:11 PM
Clinton Hammond 26 Jan 05 - 04:12 PM
Stilly River Sage 26 Jan 05 - 04:13 PM
Jim Tailor 26 Jan 05 - 04:17 PM
chris nightbird childs 26 Jan 05 - 04:18 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 26 Jan 05 - 04:19 PM
Peace 26 Jan 05 - 04:19 PM
Peace 26 Jan 05 - 04:21 PM
Once Famous 26 Jan 05 - 04:21 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 26 Jan 05 - 04:22 PM
Teresa 26 Jan 05 - 04:22 PM
PoppaGator 26 Jan 05 - 04:27 PM
George Papavgeris 26 Jan 05 - 04:28 PM
chris nightbird childs 26 Jan 05 - 04:29 PM
Big Mick 26 Jan 05 - 04:30 PM
Clinton Hammond 26 Jan 05 - 04:32 PM
chris nightbird childs 26 Jan 05 - 04:34 PM
Clinton Hammond 26 Jan 05 - 04:34 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 26 Jan 05 - 04:36 PM
chris nightbird childs 26 Jan 05 - 04:36 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 26 Jan 05 - 04:38 PM
Clinton Hammond 26 Jan 05 - 04:43 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 26 Jan 05 - 04:45 PM
M.Ted 26 Jan 05 - 04:49 PM
chris nightbird childs 26 Jan 05 - 04:50 PM
Peace 26 Jan 05 - 04:52 PM
Clinton Hammond 26 Jan 05 - 05:02 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 26 Jan 05 - 05:04 PM
Cluin 26 Jan 05 - 05:07 PM
Amos 26 Jan 05 - 05:09 PM
Richard Bridge 26 Jan 05 - 05:12 PM
chris nightbird childs 26 Jan 05 - 05:15 PM
DonMeixner 26 Jan 05 - 05:35 PM
Big Mick 26 Jan 05 - 05:39 PM
John C. 26 Jan 05 - 05:43 PM
GUEST,Frank 26 Jan 05 - 05:59 PM
Stilly River Sage 26 Jan 05 - 06:03 PM
Stilly River Sage 26 Jan 05 - 06:07 PM
Joe Offer 26 Jan 05 - 06:21 PM
Bill D 26 Jan 05 - 06:22 PM
Leadfingers 26 Jan 05 - 06:30 PM
hilda fish 26 Jan 05 - 06:30 PM
Peace 26 Jan 05 - 06:36 PM
GUEST,Paranoid Android 26 Jan 05 - 06:42 PM
RobbieWilson 26 Jan 05 - 06:49 PM
Bill D 26 Jan 05 - 06:53 PM
PoppaGator 26 Jan 05 - 06:53 PM
Teresa 26 Jan 05 - 06:55 PM
GUEST,Sidewinder 26 Jan 05 - 06:55 PM
chris nightbird childs 26 Jan 05 - 07:05 PM
nager 26 Jan 05 - 07:13 PM
Susan of DT 26 Jan 05 - 07:33 PM
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nager 26 Jan 05 - 08:13 PM
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Joe Offer 26 Jan 05 - 08:55 PM
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GUEST 26 Jan 05 - 09:19 PM
Big Al Whittle 26 Jan 05 - 09:29 PM
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chris nightbird childs 26 Jan 05 - 09:43 PM
Bill D 26 Jan 05 - 09:44 PM
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Once Famous 26 Jan 05 - 10:05 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 26 Jan 05 - 10:25 PM
chris nightbird childs 26 Jan 05 - 10:29 PM
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Bill D 26 Jan 05 - 10:41 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 26 Jan 05 - 10:49 PM
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nager 26 Jan 05 - 11:14 PM
chris nightbird childs 26 Jan 05 - 11:32 PM
M.Ted 26 Jan 05 - 11:33 PM
Malcolm Douglas 26 Jan 05 - 11:33 PM
Peace 27 Jan 05 - 12:01 AM
Peace 27 Jan 05 - 12:09 AM
GUEST,impurist 27 Jan 05 - 12:10 AM
Malcolm Douglas 27 Jan 05 - 12:24 AM
Peace 27 Jan 05 - 12:27 AM
Boab 27 Jan 05 - 03:36 AM
Boab 27 Jan 05 - 03:41 AM
Paco Rabanne 27 Jan 05 - 04:01 AM
alanabit 27 Jan 05 - 04:06 AM
alanabit 27 Jan 05 - 04:07 AM
Gurney 27 Jan 05 - 04:24 AM
GUEST 27 Jan 05 - 07:27 AM
Once Famous 27 Jan 05 - 12:12 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 27 Jan 05 - 12:20 PM
Blissfully Ignorant 27 Jan 05 - 12:20 PM
PoppaGator 27 Jan 05 - 01:16 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 27 Jan 05 - 01:25 PM
Leadfingers 27 Jan 05 - 01:27 PM
GUEST 27 Jan 05 - 02:06 PM
John C. 27 Jan 05 - 02:12 PM
GUEST 27 Jan 05 - 02:23 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 27 Jan 05 - 02:25 PM
Amos 27 Jan 05 - 02:51 PM
Richard Bridge 27 Jan 05 - 05:02 PM
GUEST,Frank 27 Jan 05 - 05:40 PM
PoppaGator 27 Jan 05 - 06:02 PM
Leadfingers 27 Jan 05 - 08:24 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 27 Jan 05 - 08:24 PM
chris nightbird childs 27 Jan 05 - 11:27 PM
M.Ted 27 Jan 05 - 11:34 PM
Amos 27 Jan 05 - 11:51 PM
chris nightbird childs 28 Jan 05 - 12:03 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 28 Jan 05 - 01:19 AM
John C. 28 Jan 05 - 01:35 PM
GUEST,Chanteyranger 28 Jan 05 - 02:01 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 28 Jan 05 - 03:42 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 28 Jan 05 - 05:16 PM
GUEST,Chanteyranger 28 Jan 05 - 06:55 PM
Richard Bridge 28 Jan 05 - 07:10 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 28 Jan 05 - 08:34 PM
dick greenhaus 28 Jan 05 - 08:35 PM
Stilly River Sage 28 Jan 05 - 08:36 PM
Amos 28 Jan 05 - 10:26 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 28 Jan 05 - 10:40 PM
GUEST,Michael Morris 29 Jan 05 - 12:33 AM
DonMeixner 29 Jan 05 - 12:41 AM
chris nightbird childs 29 Jan 05 - 01:20 AM
John P 29 Jan 05 - 09:58 AM
John P 29 Jan 05 - 10:08 AM
Amos 29 Jan 05 - 10:30 AM
GUEST 29 Jan 05 - 10:41 AM
Flash Company 29 Jan 05 - 10:57 AM
Amos 29 Jan 05 - 11:35 AM
chris nightbird childs 29 Jan 05 - 12:18 PM
Bill D 29 Jan 05 - 12:22 PM
John C. 29 Jan 05 - 12:35 PM
Stilly River Sage 29 Jan 05 - 02:04 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 29 Jan 05 - 03:11 PM
John P 29 Jan 05 - 04:31 PM
Bill D 29 Jan 05 - 07:16 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 29 Jan 05 - 07:40 PM
DADGBE 29 Jan 05 - 07:55 PM
DADGBE 29 Jan 05 - 08:17 PM
toadfrog 29 Jan 05 - 08:59 PM
Bill D 29 Jan 05 - 09:45 PM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 30 Jan 05 - 01:15 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 30 Jan 05 - 04:55 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 30 Jan 05 - 06:01 AM
John P 30 Jan 05 - 08:06 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 30 Jan 05 - 08:58 AM
Amos 30 Jan 05 - 09:32 AM
Jim Tailor 30 Jan 05 - 09:36 AM
Big Mick 30 Jan 05 - 11:56 AM
Bill D 30 Jan 05 - 12:35 PM
Richard Bridge 30 Jan 05 - 02:01 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 30 Jan 05 - 02:27 PM
GUEST 30 Jan 05 - 03:36 PM
RobbieWilson 30 Jan 05 - 04:31 PM
Strollin' Johnny 30 Jan 05 - 04:41 PM
Bill D 30 Jan 05 - 04:46 PM
Goose Gander 30 Jan 05 - 05:38 PM
EagleWing 31 Jan 05 - 04:43 PM
nager 31 Jan 05 - 05:30 PM
Richard Bridge 31 Jan 05 - 06:21 PM
Amos 31 Jan 05 - 06:26 PM
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Subject: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: John C.
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 03:24 PM

Just what is so wrong with being a purist? I'm a purist - and proud of it. I am interested in traditional music and song - mainly British, and particularly English - probably because I am English - but I enjoy the traditional music of other nationalities as well.
I don't try to impose my taste in music on anyone else but I do tend to go to clubs where trad. music is appreciated and have numerous friends who share my tastes - at least in part - some are as 'fanatical' as I am, others less so. One area of music which is not to my taste is 'modern' popular music - in fact I dislike most of it intensely.
The Folk Scene (at least the British one - I can't speak for the American one) seems to be divided between us 'purists' (I refuse to believe that this is a pejorative word!) and what I call the 'Anything Goes Brigade'(AGBs). These AGBs seem to really have it in for us purists and, in this forum, anyway, seem to heap abuse on us at every opportunity - 'sad', 'folk police', 'stuck in the past' and, if I remember correctly, even 'racists'(!).
Now, I joined a folk club because I like folk music and want to hear folk music when I go to a folk club - not rap or reggae or hip hop. Can any of you AGBs out there tell me, without resorting to abuse, why I am so wrong?


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 03:33 PM

Maybe because we open-minded and eared people get sick of being told that the music WE like isn't 'proper'...

Like there's any such thing....


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Amos
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 03:33 PM

I can't. How could anyone tell you your taste in music is wrong?

A


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST,Sleepless Dad
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 03:36 PM

Nothing wrong with your views at all. As long as you realize that you might be in the minority and you don't try to force your views on others. Go for it. And I share your views on modern pop music. The vast majority of it is crap.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Once Famous
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 03:39 PM

Because of the holier than thou attitude purists tend to convey.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Amos
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 03:42 PM

As usual Martin, you didn't understand the question. He already provided the fact that he does not enforce his views on other, demonstrating a degree of social rationality well beyond your minicephalic ken. Or are you running a holier-than-thou attitude on him? Tsk...hypocrisy??

In ChicAgo??

Well, I never!!!



A


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 03:52 PM

John C. - your statements seem to contradict. You say - "One area of music which is not to my taste is 'modern' popular music - in fact I dislike most of it intensely." Then you go on to say that the "Anything Goes Brigade" call you the folk police among other things.

Well, by your strong opinion, you are sending a message to the Anything Goes Brigade that they are wrong. You don't have to say it in so many words, but that is how it comes across.

I have a hard time explaining my feelings about music.   I have an intense love of traditional music, maybe bordering on the same fanaticism that you share. I feel it is so important to preserve this music and carry it on to future generations.

However, I believe it is a living tradition.   There are elements that developed during the folk revival that continue to this day that are obviously not a academic interpretation of "folk" music, but they do draw from the same well.   There are many singer-songwriters that I love. I enjoy hearing powerful poetry and stories in song. I cherish music - I do not need to put it in cubbyholes in order to define.

What is wrong with SHARING?   Why do both sides have to be so stubborn? Yes, it is great that you go to a club to "hear" folk music - but why aren't you "making" folk music?   By your statement, you sound like an observer. Folk music by its academic definition is participatory.   Also, by academic definitions listening to a musician on a stage singing songs is NOT folk music - even if the song is traditional.

Why not share a folk song that you know with members of your folk club? Perhaps you will inspire others to learn and share as well.

Folk music is not meant to be museum pieces. Let it live!!!


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Once Famous
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 03:52 PM

Amos, please eat dung. You cluck like an old dried out broad.
It's your type of holier than thou attitude on Mudcat that is boorish and snobbish.

I know full well this gentleman is asking. He is the exception and I appreciate his question. As a general rule, I have found purists closed minded to any kind of experimentation. This is expecially true in the bluegrass music I have particpated in for years. There have always been purists who have to do it strictly the way "Bill" (Monroe) did it and anyone else was scorned.

Unfortunately, it is this attitude that tends to take any excitement and sponteneity out of the music. Purists tend to play it just like a record: the same every time. There is much room for variation, personality, and experimentation in evven the most purist of folk music. The two schools of thought I believe will never co-exist 100%.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 03:59 PM

One of the fascinating things is the "drift" in folk music over the years.

Remember, Folk Music, is music of the people. Reggae, Hip-Hop, and Rap are all valid expressions of A people. We may not appreciate some of the subtle aspects of some kinds of music (I don't listen to a lot of classical), but that doesn't negate the interest many others do have for that kind of music.

While I tend to agree that many "pop" songs are lacking something, that doesn't hold for every piece of pop music. Some of it is excellent poetry.

As stated above, I find that many "purists" tend to close out other types of music. While I enjoy the traditional forms of music from my region (Eastern Canada), I would find other regional music excellent for various reasons.

There is no reason we can't be "open" to others' interest in music. Might have something to show us.

Wonder if this thread should have a BS: in front of it.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:00 PM

No, this should not be BS at all!! This is the heart of music. George & Martin - well put!!!!!


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:01 PM

John,

Interesting that I would address these remarks to someone named "John." That was my father's name also, and he was in many ways a purist. I think this softened over the years, but alas, I wasn't living in the same state and wasn't there to hear the programs he attended or performed at as his interests expanded.

Growing up with a purist meant that some types of music were not appreciated so weren't openly listened to in the house, and biases were established in we children that we didn't understand were biases until our worlds broadened with contact with school friends and we had our own radios. Dad was fond of classical music, as am I. I pride myself still on being able to play a pretty darned good game of "drop the needle." We listened most to classical radio stations at home. His other passion was folk music, as you describe for yourself. His specialties were English, Irish, Scottish, and Early American songs and ballads. He liked to hear the many versions, and I wonder if at times he was searching for the Ur-version of some songs. I also appreciate that folk music, and having grown up around a father who was learning the music and the words, I have lots of those words still rattling around in my head.

But the "purist" stance wasn't always comfortable to live around and I suspect it wasn't an easy one to wear, as your defensive query to start this thread implies. And I say this even as I recognize that when I go out to hear performers, and they mix their songs between traditional and their own compositions, that I'm usually biased toward the traditional songs. I want to hear what their versions of old songs sound like. It's the way I was exposed to music. Somehow if an author is recognizable it isn't "authentic."

This attitude isn't logical, it's just what managed to get hardwired, and it is a struggle to examine it in light of day, then push aside, where I believe it belongs.

If you don't listen to new music, you miss the transmission of so much information. I was never great for knowing who performed what songs I liked on the radio, and I still don't keep good track of that. But I recognise the tunes and words I like. Maybe it's that anonymity of folk music that means I don't pay attention to who wrote songs. Anyway, what I hear now in modern songs on the radio are so many expressions of the humanity of performers that my children are listening to. I also hear lots of references back to the older music, even as far back as anonymous traditional music. The accretion of the human condition's reflection in music is important to note. And if you're stuck in one era, you'll miss it.

I have compartments, moods if you will. Some days I feel like listening to a type of music, and will turn on the radio and go through my pre-sets to find something that sounds good. Sometimes it's new stations, others it is what my kids programmed into the radio. Other times I pull out tapes or albums and listen to those. And the kids enjoy those when they are played. So if I can raise children who understand different types of music and have an appreciation for them all, then I'll have been successful. I have preferences, and they grew up with classical music on their radios in the bedroom at night. But I don't touch their radio dials any more at bedtime. I don't want them to have to "get over" the purist tendencies that I learned as a child. While the ability to focus sharply on a given area in which you choose to study is good, I don't think it's useful to apply to life and music all of the time.

I hope this helps. I'm giving only a brief sketch of what it was like to live with my Dad as a small child, and friends of his may have different views entirely, formed at different times during his career as a researcher and performer. So while I don't want to usurp your thread, I'd be interested in any addition to my remarks. They'd be best shared over at his thread: John Dwyer - Songs and Stories.

SRS


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:06 PM

All genres do is serve to divide people... and we have more than enough of that already...

-I- dig music...

If I like something you don't, so frigg'n what.... There's probably stuff YOU like that I don't... In the end, it hardly matters one way or the other...

Stop trying to define everything... to put everything in neat little boxes and categories... There's only 2 categories that really matter... What you like and what you don't... and they only matter to you... Take 'em outside and have some fun with them...

And bring me back a pack of smokes while yer at it

:-)


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Chip2447
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:11 PM

Traditional music was once modern popular music, and in a hundred years some modern popular music may be tradional.

What's the big deal, enjoy what you like, keep an open mind and let music speak for its self. Music will find it's own fan base, or it won't...nuff said.

Chip2447


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:12 PM

"This is the heart of music."???

Christ, I hope to f#ck it ISN'T...


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:13 PM

Let me share a small story that occurs as I read this thread. When I was an undergraduate I lived for a few semesters in a dormatory. My roommate came in and apologized for having to play an album of "modern music" for a music class she was taking. I hadn't been aware that I was so rigid in my listening that she needed to apologize, but I also thought it was very funny that what she played was an Emerson Lake and Palmer version of Copeland's "Rodeo." When I told her what it was and pulled out my own copy of it for her to listen to, she was quite surprised, and ended up with some extra brownie points in class the next day for being the only student in class to know this.

I was glad to help her, but I was so struck by her almost fear of my listening discipline and the feeling that she needed to apologize in advance for somehow offending my ear that after that I made a point of not listening so much to the old tried and true, and paying more attention to what was new around me. I didn't lose the old music, but I gained a lot with the new.

SRS


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:17 PM

Hell of a good post, SRS.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:18 PM

Well put CH! I need a pack of smokes myself.....


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:19 PM

Comeon Clinton, you know what I'm saying.    Discussions about music are not BS and a discussion like this should not be relegated to "below the line" topics.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Peace
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:19 PM

I appreciate both 'schools' to tell ya the truth. We have all met stodgy people who think that if it isn't to their musical taste then it's junk. Once you learn to ignore them, the musical world opens up. People who think other musical 'genres' are worthless are very smart, IMO. Some brilliant players like the venerable Doc Watson could rock with the best of 'em, but he could alos play tunes as true to the roiginal as the day they were written. The analogy that comes to mind is this: A good friend of mine from my youth was a brilliant artist. He painted--what everyone called modern art. He loved the mixtures of texture, balance, colour and expression. I heard many people after viewing his work say things like, "You call THAT ART!" He was capable of painting still life, the human form accurately, but he loved the freedom he found in the stuff he painted. No one would accuse van Gogh of being a 'bad' painter, or members of the Group of Seven, even though their art was not like a photograph. Such is what I hear when I listen to 'purist' music and more modern stuff. Both are music worthy of our consideration. Stockhausen's (sp?) music may not have beenm to everyone's taste, nor the music of Miles Davis or Bill Munroe or The Mormon Tabernacle Choir or the Clancy Brothers, etc., but just 'cause it ain't to yer taste don't mean it ain't to someone's, and neither does it mean it isn't good.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Peace
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:21 PM

"worthless are very smart, IMO"

Ahem

that should read "worthless are NOT very smart, IMO"


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Once Famous
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:21 PM

Smoking causes cancer.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:22 PM

"Some brilliant players like the venerable Doc Watson could rock with the best of 'em, but he could alos play tunes as true to the roiginal as the day they were written"

I believe Doc Watson aspired to be a rockabilly musician before he started playing with Clarence Ashley. Doc is the perfect example of what makes this music fun.   He can do some great old-timey songs and then surprise an audience with a version of "Knights in White Satin". Brilliant artist!


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Teresa
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:22 PM

I agree with Clinton on this one.

There are certain types of music I especially love, but I would never presume to tell others that one sort is "better" or "more proper" than another.

For a long time, I avoided listening to rap,, because I heard the stuff on the radio that mentioned beating on women and cop killing. Then I heard artists like michael franti and KRSOne, and they write positive songs about activism.

I had some friends a few years ago who were interested in punk music. I went to some of their shows, and they were doing a lot of political activism as well.

I listen to a lot of different types of music socially, because I know it is the heart and soul and passion of some folks, just like Appalachian, Irish and British Isles is for me. Since I know that feeling of reverence people have for music, I love to share it.

teresa


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:27 PM

I dislike as much of contemporary pop music as the next person; on the other hand, I'm no purist. My tastes are fairly eclectic; while I could be validly accused of many abberations, "purism" isn't one of them.

The "traditions" in which I am most interested are extremely open-ended:

A)

The "songster" tradition, wherein buskers, streetsingers, one-man-bands, jug bands, etc., use their portable (and generally acoustic) instrumentation to interpret whatever material their audience wants to hear ~ which might include truly traditional folk songs, time-tested ("classic") popular material such as Beatle songs, "fake-book" standards like Gershwin or Cole Porter songs, doo-wop and rock 'n' roll "oldies," etc. In personal terms, anything and everything I enjoy playing and singing, and that I'm *able* to play.

B)

The New-Orleans-music tradition, which encompasses a rich mixture of shake-your-ass music from the traditional-jazz repertoire, through the 40s/50s R&B that gave birth to rock 'n' roll (e.g., Professor Longhair), to current-day brass-band street-parade music and several varieties of contemporary blues/rock and roots/rock. Lots of horns, drums, and piano, and little or no place for *my* intrument, the acoustic guitar. This is music that I truly love and that I can *sing,* but that I can't really *play* as an instrumentalist or as a solo self-accompanyist.

And, hey, anyone who has different tastes (which I know includes *most* of y'all Mudcatters), that's fine with me. I also think that when we discuss the pros and cons of adhering to a "tradition," we can share a common viewpoint even when each person is talking about an entirely different tradition...


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:28 PM

Nothing wrong with being a purist.
Nothing wrong with not being one, either.
Why does one have to choose?
I love traditional music: English, Irish, Venezuelan, Greek, French, Scottish.
I also love other music - too many types to list. And I dread to think that if I was a purist that did not listen to other music, then I would have missed:

"Lies" and "The field behind the plough" of Stan Rogers
"Sir Richard's song" (of Peter Bellamy's?)
"Sally Free and Easy" of Cyril Tawney
"Chicken on a raft" of Tom Lewis
"Fiddlers Green" of John Connolly
"Where Ravens Feed" of Graham Miles
"And the Band played Waltzing Matilda" of Eric Bogle
...and dozens of others, precious jewels all, that please the ear, lift the heart, quieten the beast and foster belief in humanity.

But your choice - nothing wrong with it.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:29 PM

Good fer you Teresa! I listen to almost anything... There are, of course, some things I like more than others, but that's the way it's supposed to be!
Besides, if I was closed-minded about my music, my influences wouldn't range from Bob Dylan to Jack White to Bach, and I don't think it would be as interesting. So, to each their own.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Big Mick
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:30 PM

I guess it depends on what one considers a purist. Anyone that tells me how I have to interpret a song won't get very far. But if by purist you mean that you like a specific type of music done in a traditional manner, I agree that you have every right to enjoy that music in the manner you choose. And anyone that sneers at your right to enjoy the type of music, and the interpretation, is an idiot.

But, as a performer, I will perform it the way I hear it in my head. I often have my foot in both camps. I can, and do, perform trad folk music. But I also perform modern "folk" singer songwriter stuff. For me it has to do with whether it is a good yarn well told, or a feeling well expressed.

The key here is tolerance of, and respect for, each others musical tastes.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:32 PM

"Discussions about music are not BS"

True that Ron... but this whole stupid 'debate' is NOT, I hope, "The Heart" of music as you put it...

I honestly hope MUSIC is The Heart of MUSIC....

:-)

About the only difference between 60's "Activist" folk and punk is the volume... And that's not even totally true, cause the 'hippies' were pretty damn loud in their time too...

*singing*
Come mothers and father throughout the land....
And don't criticize what you can't understand


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:34 PM

Another good point, Poppa. I DO listen to music that I don't like to perform. By the same token, I'm also an Acoustic artist, but that goes for all Acoustic music. Not just Folk or Blues. If I hear a song I'd like to perform, and it fits in my style, then I'll go ahead and do it.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:34 PM

" The key here is tolerance of, and respect for, each others musical tastes"

LOL!

That's hillarious BM!!!!!!!

,-)


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:36 PM

Why is it so necessary to define the music you like by telling us what you don't like?    Same thing with movies, literature, religion, clothes. In complaining that others don't like what we like by saying we don't like what they like, you end up doing exactly what you're criticizing someone else for doing.. putting down something that they like. You can always say that they started it.

Are we there yet?

Jerry


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:36 PM

Damn! This is a popular thread in'it? I can't post before someone's already replying! That's great!!


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:38 PM

Well, my words may not have been the best choice, but I do agree with what you say - except for calling it a "stupid" debate. I think it is an important debate because obviously there are great divides amongst us. Ignoring it won't make it go away.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:43 PM

Yer welcome to disagree... I think as a 'debate' though, this topic can go pound sand...

I'll happily -discuss- this topic though...


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:45 PM

pounding sand is a worthy pastime too!! :)

I'm glad you aren't above discussing this Clinton! It is good to have your input! Most of us on are on the same page, just different corners!!


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: M.Ted
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:49 PM

The problem with "purists" is that they think that their musical tastes are "pure"--No music is pure--its all derrivative and cross-pollinated---


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:50 PM

We're only human... We're bound to disagree. That's what this is really about. Right?


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Peace
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 04:52 PM

Wrong, Chris, wrong.
























LOLOLOL


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 05:02 PM

Exactly!

LOL


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 05:04 PM

Hi Ron. I meant that this seemed to be a "troll" meant to provoke argument, which I feel is why the BS: prefix was invented.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Cluin
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 05:07 PM

Any time a group of people with common interests get together, an "US & THEM" mentality seems to rear its ugly head. Human beings are inherently tribal, I guess.

Purist music of any stripe has its venues, applications, and rituals. No reason to threaten it or feel threatened by it or for it. If people stop caring about it, it will go away. It's not right or wrong; that's just the way it works.

I'm not interested in the bulk of popular music put out by the recording industry today either, but generally it's the stuff with quality that lasts any length of time past the shelf life of radio and music videos. Most people listening to it aren't really "music" fans anyway; it means something else to them. But I don't feel threatened by that. I have a pretty broad musical palette otherwise. And a few gems still get through the industry these days too.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Amos
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 05:09 PM

As a general rule, I have found purists closed minded to any kind of experimentation. This is expecially true in the bluegrass music I have particpated in for years. There have always been purists who have to do it strictly the way "Bill" (Monroe) did it and anyone else was scorned.

Unfortunately, it is this attitude that tends to take any excitement and sponteneity out of the music. Purists tend to play it just like a record: the same every time. There is much room for variation, personality, and experimentation in evven the most purist of folk music. The two schools of thought I believe will never co-exist 100%.


Martin, I agree with you completely. Nothing irritates me more than having a good feast of spontaneous music interrupted by someone who has to have the details match their version. I understand that you were addressing a different definition of "purist" than was being used originally in this thread.

I don't understand it, and I really enjoy playing with others who feel as I do.

P'raps we should boogie down together sometime and see what comes out. You might be surprised what a good liberal can do bending them strings. LOL!

A


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 05:12 PM

Nothing wrong with being a purist - but several buts.

People call me a purist - but I do 3 of my own songs, a fair bit of 60s, one Bad Company song, two Stones songs, one Who and one Small Faces, as well as quite a lot of Irish Scottish two Welsh and a fair bit of contemporary. It seems to me that the modernists actualy don't want to hear any folk music at all.

And if you trot off to the thread about an academic dissertation about folk and contemporary music (can't be bothered to find it and make a blicky, you should have been there, rather like the 60s (BG)) you will find a reassonably sensible discussion (for the most part) about the definition, and the assertions here are not worth bothering with.

Activist "folk" and punk differ considerably in kind. Many activist "folk" songs (particularly Dylan, whose perfomances I hate beyond measure but whose songs include many of musical merit) were structured, coherent, and musical. Well, of punk and near-punk that is about limited to "Peaches" and "Eton Rifles". That was the point of punk - the rejection of the hippy aesthete thing. The excitement of ugly. Bovver boots, skin'eads, the culture of violence. Hell I was DJing reggae dance halls back then and I saw it. It had a different merit.

A lot of modern pop and urban music is not rooted in creation but in cynical assembly of profit. Yet more of it in the same rejection of the current ***ocracy (whichever it was) that punk, early British reggae (and some Jamaican reggae), some of the 60s scene (maybe "Night of Fear" just so I can cite an example) and indeed early Presley had. The dispossessed will eventually attack their dispossessors, but it is not necessarily the precursor of great music (oddly the Irish revolution, the politics of which I hate, did create some very good music). The important thing is not to reject the genre as such (there was some good even in punk, once upon a time, although I wonder about 60 year olds still turning it out now - EG Welsh band the Sharpsters) but to winnow the wheat from the chaff.

The UK AGB seem to reject all traditional song. And denigrate it.

And, with respect, dear Americans, if you have not experienced the UK current situation, your opinions are less valid. Examples about Monroe's style are not the same thing as the discussion of the rejection of the entire musical tradition.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 05:15 PM

OH really?


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 05:35 PM

I know what I like to listen to and I know what I like to play. I don't play everything I like to listen to but I like everything I play. As it is I am in one of the few Irish Folk bands that features yodeling, Jimmy Rogers and Western Swing. Some day when I get brave I am gonna introduce Little Anthony and The Imperials to Sunday afternoon at Coleman's Pub.

Maybe I'll start this fight. There is nothing wrong with being a purist... just don't be an elitist.

Don


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Big Mick
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 05:39 PM

Amen, friend Don.

Mick


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: John C.
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 05:43 PM

Do you know, I think I've hit a nerve here! I drift off to watch a bit of telly and there's 40 replies!
I also I have to say that there's lots of very thoughtful and heartfelt stuff and not so much abuse as I expected - thanks everyone.
I grew up in the 50s, in the UK, and when I was a little kid I didn't get rock n' roll - it seemed noisy and alien and it even scared me a bit. As I got older I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about - was this 'Emperor's new clothes' syndrome, I wonder - or do I flatter myself?
At school we learned English folk songs and I loved them (although I was not too keen on the teacher or his style of teaching). In my teens I discovered the Beatles (well, in the mid '60s I couldn't really miss them, could I?). They temporarily changed my views on pop music but by the late '60s, and my late teens, I was beginning to find them a bit pretentious. Around this time I went to my first folk club and heard trad. songs sung as they were meant to be sung (allegedly...possibly...at least not plonked out on the piano). I became a fan of this particular music, learned to sing and made lots of good friends (a number of those friendships are still going strong today).
I also felt that I had stumbled on something worthwhile and meaningful - but folk clubs began to change and the old songs were gradually eased out by lots of stuff which seemed to me only very tenuously related to folk song - if at all. And those doing the easing out often seemed to be me to be much more narrow-minded and prejudiced than they often accused me of being.
Again, I should re-iterate that I don't believe that I have any right to tell anyone else what they should or shouldn't listen to but I do have strong personal preferences and I do have a right to state my opinions. Also, when I attend a folk club I expect to hear, at least, some folk songs - I really don't think that that is unreasonable!


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 05:59 PM

I can see it from different views. There is folklore in folk music.
Part of the thrill of resurrecting a trad tune is learning about the cultural background and history of the song. Then the song has meaning. Also, there is the joy of learning traditional playing styles and techniques on musical instruments based on learning from traditional players as well.

Then, there is the need some of us have to be creative with it.
This might be devising arrangements of songs we like or writing or rewriting songs and this might not be considered by some folklorists and academics to be traditional.

Sometimes there is an intersection of the creative and the re-creative.

I have never been a purist but have had that label thrown at me.
I do however think it's important to learn about the tradition of folk music in a cultural and historical context but I have tried to extend that to all kinds of music and found that when I explore that side, the music comes alive for me.

I think that the role of the folklorist and musicoloigist is important to providing a substructure in interpreting a trad song.

Instead of the word "purist" I would prefer a different label that would imply a kind of musical integrity based on understanding of the idiom.

Folk music studied this way is like the process that jazz musicians go through. There is a certain amount of musical analyzing that goes on so long as it doesn't get in the way of expression. I think that most definable musics have parameters.
Using for example sophisticated chord progressions seem to obstruct a folk song performance unless they relate somehow traditionally. This is a creative judgement call.

I understand I think what traditional folk music attempts to preserve (its parameters). I think that this might be labeled "purist" in someone's book but I would prefer to think of this as a preference for a stylistic integrity.

Tradition and history also have a role here.

Frank


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 06:03 PM

Richard Bridge,

Is this the thread you meant? Contemporary Song in Folk Music

And, with respect, dear Americans, if you have not experienced the UK current situation, your opinions are less valid. Examples about Monroe's style are not the same thing as the discussion of the rejection of the entire musical tradition.

I find this a rude and dismissive characterization of a the points of view of a major part of the Mudcat membership. It diminishes your whole argument when you make pronouncements like this. Or is it your ham-handed way to tell us that you don't have a clue as to what is going on in the American folk music scene so the same must be true for Americans vis-a-vis British music?

SRS


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 06:07 PM

Good point, Frank. A great deal of what my dad was doing was along the lines of musicology. It evolved from that purist interest in folk music (particular emphasis in Child Ballads) though, so they still are closely knit terms for me.

SRS


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 06:21 PM

When I came here to Mudcat in early 1997, I knew most of the songs of Peter, Paul, and Mary; of Simon & Garfunkel; the Kingston Trio, and some of those other folkies and pseudo-folkies of the 1960's. I also knew hundreds of the songs in the Rise Up Singing Songbook. As time has gone on, I've learned a lot about real traditional music, and it has become my preference. I'm still in the learning stage when it comes to performing traditional songs, and I don't sing them with the confidence and ability that I have with the songs I've known for years.

I was really nervous about this when I first ventured to gatherings of the San Francisco Folk Music Club and the Folklore Society of Greater Washington in 1999, but most people were very gracious about accepting and encouraging me. There are a few elitist snobs who don't have patience with us beginners, who leave the room when we sing or try to sing over us when we don't sing correctly. I think people like this betray the whole idea that folk music is the music of the people. They certainly don't do much to encourage people to enter the fold.

I wonder how the elitists would treat many of the traditional singers the collectors have recorded. I suppose it's not really pleasant to listen to the voice of Harry Cox or Fred Jordan or maybe Malvina Reynolds, but these people could really tell a story with their singing. The elitists probably wouldn't accept their selection of songs, either.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 06:22 PM

well, John C., I can tell you that this subject has been one of the most hotly debated since Mudcat started 8+ years ago...I know...I started some of 'em! I was the resident 'purist' for quite awhile, and I have 'almost' given up saying anything because people tend not to hear what you are actually saying about 'folk' and 'traditional' and 'purist' issues, and instead go off relating THEIR particular notion of what the words mean.

I have spent many a weary hour trying to explain that:

1) I am not telling anyone what to like, or what music is good or bad.
2) The definitions of 'folk' and traditional need to have a consistent meaning, or they mean nothing.
3) There ARE people like you & me, John C., who want some way to identify that older, non-commercial flavor of music when we have a notion to buy a CD or attend a concert. If it says "folk" and it turns out to be a *gasp* singer/songwriter with an acoustic guitar and NO sense of perspective on the whole genré, I am pretty frustrated.

I do like some S/S music...and I do know that Bob Dylan wrote a few memorable songs...as did Kate Wolf and Bruce Phillips and (over there) Harvey Andrews..etc...but there IS a difference, and those who try to suggest that it's all "just music" really are missing the point!

Nope, John, it's NOT unreasonable to expect to hear some 'real' folk when you go to a 'folk' club, but sadly, the word has been co-opted because it's so durned short & convenient, and you now have to conduct an inquisition of the management and performers to have any idea whether they know, or even care, whether the music style to be presented includes anything resembling what the Copper Family sang, or whether they understand how that differs from what Kate Rusby or Lonnie Donegan or Harvey Andrews sing!

I will now sit back and read MORE posts making fun of my attempt to keep one tiny corner of the musical map clear for us old 'purists' to sit with our Victrolas and listen to the Carter Family or Walter Pardon style of music.

Bill D.--occasional folk facist and purist...who knows LOTS of other stuff too, but also knows the difference!


oh...by the way..*grin*


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 06:30 PM

Interesting that this thread was started by a Brit and most of the comment is from Americans ! John - I qualify as 'Anything Goes' but do not conform to the definition given up there , as I play a number of instruments both instrumentally and as song accompaniment . I also sing unaccompanied traditonal songs and play dep in a Cheilidh band !
I have also been told by a 'Purist' club organiser 'This is a traditional club - you cant bring THAT in here!' Pointing very disdainfully at my guitar case . Folk Music is NOT an Exclusive music
form and OUGHT to be as inclusive as most of my local clubs are .


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: hilda fish
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 06:30 PM

Are purists those who have both interest/passion AND expertise in a particular area. I'm purist in my areas of expertise because I know the subjects inside out including the history, and I love where they come from and what they are. I'm paid to know and I'm relied on to know. Because of my intimate knowledge, I get a bit upset when history or identity or whatever is denied in re-interpretation. Also I know that whatever anyone else does with anything is up to them and their imagination and creativity. History like identity, doesn't stop - it continues as does everything else. Doesn't include or preclude anything else at all. Are we presuming that the word 'purist' has a value judgement implied? Given that, it seems also that there are very many open minds here. Love it!


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Peace
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 06:36 PM

Well said, BillD. Good thread this one.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST,Paranoid Android
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 06:42 PM

Did you ever go to a session where you heard a brilliant uileann piper playing and you appreciated the tune. Then he plays another and another and another...and another.. and nobody else gets a look in and what started as sweet music ends up assailing your ears like a wailing cat. Is that piper a purist or a f***ing nuisance?


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 06:49 PM

I have to disagree with the opening post in this thread in almost every part of what it said. I would not describe myself as a purist
but this does not make your chosen pejoritive "Anything Goes Brigade" applies to me, or to almost anyone I know in the many English and Scottish clubs, pubs, sesssions and festivals I regularly attend.

Nor does it apply to the performers I choose to pay to see. To take just one example Pete Morton: The only one I know who can sing any of the old, really long ballads like Tam Lin, or Gay Goshawk and keep a whole audience hanging on every word but who also writes good songs; like "Another Train" or "Battle of Trafalgar"(about a pub, not a battle.

What about Waterson Carthy? AGB or Pure? Show of Hands? AGB or Pure?

Still aint heard a horse sing yet. Folk music is music folk make, old or new doesn't come in to it. Every traditional song was new once and existed in a sea of crap contemporary music in its day. The only thing is that the great songs survive, changing as they go perhaps, but they are passed on because people like them. For the tradition to stay alive the process of writing and passing on must continue and the whole point of live music is that, even if it is familiar, it is live and different every time. If you want to hear songs the same every time get a CD and stay at home.

None of the old songs sung now in folk clubs, even by people who would style themselves purists, are sung in anything like the many different styles they were sung in 100 years ago. Last evening (Burns night)at my house eight friends listened to recordings of 200 year old songs and poems recorded over a span of around 80 years in a great variety of styles. Was this traditional?

The first problem for me with the concept of purists is pure what?
Living music can't be pure anything because it is always the product of a range of elements.

The second problem is that I get the uneasy feeling that rather than being about other people using "purist" pejoratively the point of this thread is you feel that "purists" are superior to everyone else, who you describe as AGB's.

I have music I like and stuff I dont like. It doesn't make me better than you, just different and it is the fact that we are each different which makes life, and its reflection in music worth living.
love Robbie


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 06:53 PM

"Are we presuming that the word 'purist' has a value judgement implied? "
well, we shouldn't...except for valuing clarity of definition.

I certainly don't mean to claim that old music is 'better', only that I especially LIKE some of it and wish I could more easily find it in relatively less 'processed' form..(yes, yes, I KNOW that it all gets 'folk processed'...I just wish the processor were not set on 'puree'.)


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 06:53 PM

Whichever "tradition" one prefers, it generally consists of selection of the best-remembered songs, the ones that have emerged from among many other long-forgotten songs and survived to the present day.

Newly-composed songs are something else entirely, regardless of how skillfully they may have been composed to conform to the style of a given tradition. Most of them ~ even most of the works of the very best songwriters ~ will *not* survive. The vaunted "folk process" is not only a means by which songs constantly evolve and change; it's also a winnowing-out process ensuring another aspect of evolution, survival of the fittest songs

Whether the tradition you prefer is that of English ballads or that of, say, the "great American songbook" pop standards, you can draw upon a proven repertoire that has stood the test of time.

All due respect to those of you who find your creative outlet in songwriting, I feel a degree of empathy with those "elitists" who prefer the tried-and-true to the new-and-unproven. There are already so many wonderful songs to be sung (and to be kept alive) ~ new songs are not always preferable.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Teresa
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 06:55 PM

The dismissive attitude I've seen towards punk music has reminded me to be careful of my own prejudices. :)

Just Google "Jello Biafra" sometime and you'll see he has nothing to do with right-wing or nihilistic ideas.

But that's a digression. One of my favorite concert sets is when John mcCutcheon lets loose with a bunch of rock songs from the sixties. The whole audience is pounding the floor, singing at the top of their voices. :)

Teresa


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST,Sidewinder
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 06:55 PM

It is all a matter of personal taste, nothing more-nothing less.I really need for you to define your interpretation of "purist" in more specific terms. As I am; at a loss, after reading most of the other postings I believe just about every individual involved could, to some degree, be categorised as a purist.I love music - be it classical to current chart music (in small doses) and lots in between and I have been told that I am a purist because of my devotion to The Beatles etc.But as I say; I love and buy lots of varied music. It seems to me to come from a desire to belong to a social group, or used by others to exclude from their clique, or simply to label individuals as a means to make others feel superior or more comfortable within social groupings. There is no shame in being called a purist it signifies a commitment to the cause beyond and above the call of duty and wearing your badge with pride in a world of 5 minute wonders and fickle fashions you stay true and unwavering.

Keep The Faith.

Sidewinder.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 07:05 PM

That's just what I said... ; )


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: nager
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 07:13 PM

PURISM: scrupulous or excessive observance of, or insistence on, purity in language, style etc ...

You can't be serious when you seek this with folk music, blues etc.. traditional or contemporary.

These are breathing, living and changing forms of music.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Susan of DT
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 07:33 PM

The biggest problem with being a "purist" is that you find less and less to listen to. Popularized folk has driven traditional folk almost to extinction.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Pat Cooksey
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 08:13 PM

Nothing at all wrong with being a purist, however I beleive this narrow vision of folk music contributed in no small measure to the demise of English folk music as a popular culture.
I visit England fairly regularly, and see at first hand the declining numbers at folk clubs, whils't here in Germany I have no problem filling big halls.
I am no purist but some of my songs, as they say have gone into the tradition of my homeland, Ireland.
The English tradition provided some of the best songs I sing, and I respect this tradition as such, but if English folk music remains static it will eventually die.
We can all pick fault with the young, and the new, in our music, I have C.D.'s of Kate Rusby, Eliza Carthy,Cara Dillon, Show of Hands, etc, and enjoy them all, surely this diversity makes folk music the special thing it is.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: nager
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 08:13 PM

I don't agree that it has been driven almost to extinction.
There's still plenty of people doing it and there's nothing wrong with it at all, quite the opposite.
Perhaps it's just fewer and fewer people want to hear it that way.
I sing and play lots of different tunes and songs in the true folk tradition, ie changing words, tunes, tempo, keys etc to suit.
Isn't this a folk tradition or process.
Some of these are new songs and some very very old.
Some old tunes and songs I have reworked probably a dozen times over the years.
Just because someone sung it a particular way in 1925 does not mean that is THE way to sing it forever more.
I wonder what it sounded like before 1925?
Compare some of the real early bluesmen's versions of the same songs. Which one is the traditional or definitive one?


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Amos
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 08:14 PM

Fine point, too, Susan.

A


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 08:55 PM

I can go to Tower Records and not buy a thing nowadays, so Susan may have a point. But CAMSCO Records is gong to bankrupt me. Dick Greenhaus seems to find all sorts of traditional stuff I can't resist.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Teresa
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 09:06 PM

I truly believe the music won't die; it will just change. The popularity will be cyclical ... you never know: wait a year or ten and it'll be on the radio again. :)

Teresa


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Amos
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 09:09 PM

Concur, Teresa.    The tricky part is keeping the past forms and sound salive until they are in demand.

Like femininity itself -- keeping it alive when the fads are agin it may be tricky but it is vital to the future.

A


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 09:19 PM

El Greko, just to point out "Chicken on a Raft" is a Cyril Tawney song. Jeweze, us purists eh?


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 09:29 PM

Whats wrong with being an English folk music purist?

Let me count the ways.....

First of all it was attitude of intolerant traditionalists that broke up the folk music movement in this country and took it from being a mass movement in the 60's with three or four folk clubs in every major town to te pitiable state we have now - this was achieved with a mixture of rudeness to artists they didn't approve of and making ridiculous demands of attention on totally unsuitable audiences (fifteen minute ballads to half pissed college kids).

This had the spin off effect of making it bloody nigh impossible to make a living for professional musicians and from the time of Will Kemp and possibly before , its the pros who give the rest of us something to aim for.

Thirdly by adopting the tones of some idiot offspring of walter Gabriel you disenfranchrise the English people of their culture. Because most people just hear it and switch the heavily subsidised crap off. Whereas most kids in my day knew a goodly part of the Sharp collection from Singing together on the radio at school, the present much favoured style of delivery only serves to alienate most people who are not in the know about your obscure ideas.

I could go on, but what's the use......


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 09:36 PM

"Still aint heard a horse sing yet."

piffle!...and again I say..piffle!...I am getting so tired of the "horse singing" remark. It was 'cute' for about 20 minutes, but it adds NOTHING to the understanding.

"Folk music is music folk make, old or new doesn't come in to it."

and that sort of tautological definition is one of the main reasons we make no progress in these debates. Old or new is not ALL there is to it, but the term "folk music" was originally meant to describe a certain general type of music, **one** of whose characteristics WAS that it tended to be older! Using it to refer widely to "any kind of music that gets done that ain't exactly Grand Opera or Dixieland jazz" is not only being lazy, it is contributing to musical hash! (and why, then, is Dixieland NOT folk music?)

If someone offers you a 'traditional' meal, and you find out it is hamburger mixed with pine nuts and rutabaga, covered with sauerkraut and jalepenos, and served on a bagel..(all VERY traditional food, in their way), you'd maybe be willing to listen to some discussion of why we bother with categories in food, as well as music.

If you have any preferences in music at all...if you know that there are ANY sorts that you even 'tend' to avoid or seek out, then you DO use categories and definitions. "Folk" gets misused because the term is used equivocally. You simply are not using 'folk' in the same way it was intended when it was a new way to refer to music from traditional sources. Then, after 'folk' was corrupted because it sounded so useful, we tried using 'traditional', but now some of those who got their first dose in the 60s want to call Dylan and Baez and, Lord help us, "The Kingston Trio", traditional!......and again, I repeat..piffle!

Just what am I supposed to use to convey that 'difference' between Sara Cleveland and Jeannie Robertson on the one hand, and Joan Baez and Kate Wolf on the other?...I can happily listen to either Joan or Kate at times, but it ain't folk! Some it has 'folk roots' of sorts, but one is an 'popularizer' and the other is/was a songwriter...and both did not exemplify what 'folk' was meant to convey when it was coined.

I am QUITE aware I have lost the battle to keep the language from being shifted until it is so vague, it means almost nothing now....but I can still identify (and you could too, if you bothered) a list of a dozen or more things that explain why certain music and musicians just 'feel' different than what is currently the rage.

(I see 'singing horses' have set me off again....it happens once a year or so. You may all go back to your declaiming that "it's all just music" now.)


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 09:37 PM

"Purists", like the "folk police", are really just invented excuses (except perhaps for bluegrass; I don't doubt that Martin is right about that, but he shouldn't try to apply it to the UK situation, about which he obviously knows nothing). Play inappropriate music in the wrong place; you may get a bad (or unimpressed) reaction. Whose fault is that? Theirs, for not recognising your obvious genius? Or yours, for imagining yourself more important than your audience?

Discussions of this sort (we've had a great many) generally pre-suppose that there really are "purists" all over the place who tell you what you must do. I've been playing 30-odd years, and I've only ever met two (Irish fiddle players. One of them was a Yorkshireman, but he did have an inherited Irish surname). Everybody else has just taken the music as it came, and liked it -or not- according to its merits. I've played songs by Gary Numan in "traditional" clubs. Nobody batted an eyelid, because I played them in a style they felt comfortable with.

That's the whole point. Don't alienate a potential audience by being confrontational. It may make you feel important at the time, but you won't get asked back; and it'll be your fault, not theirs.

There will be people round here who imagine that I am a "purist" because I like people to tell the truth, and credit their sources properly. They'd be wrong. It's important to know what you're talking about; I've only ever been challenged in a hostile fashion by people who knew less about the subject than I did. Those who knew more than I did just gave me good advice; which I took.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 09:43 PM

That's actually a scary thing! Not that I disagree with anything you just said Malcolm, but if one can go into a "folk" club or a pub, play Gary Numan and have it pass as "folk" because of the way it sounds, Purists and Modernists alike are in TROUBLE...


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 09:44 PM

good advice, Malcolm....there are, in truth, very few 'extreme' purists who have rigid ideas about precisely how a tune or song should be done.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 09:45 PM

Cross-posted with Bill, who has some very sensible things to say. I agree entirely about that "horse" business. It's cheap, trite, glib, ignorant, and wrong. Anybody who quotes it yet again (and they usually get the attribution wrong) deserves all the abuse they will certainly get.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 09:58 PM

well, nightbird...I saw a young fellow win the mandolin contest at Winfield many years ago with a tune no one could identify...they liked it a lot, but were puzzled.....so, at the awards ceremony, he explained that he had played Fritz Kreisler's "Mozart Rondo" in Bluegrass style...

so...there are many things that go into making a song or tune 'tend' toward trad...*grin*


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 10:01 PM

Sudden rush of posts, there. Hasn't it been a fast-moving thread? I only went out for a while (two sessions; one to play, one to listen and catch up with people and drink more beer), and there it all was when I got back.

The Numan song was Down in the Park, though quite a few of his would have worked as well: remove the synthesizer and substitute a drone and simple fiddle riff and you're away; though I used cittern at the time. As a rule, people thought it must have been a Richard Thompson song they weren't familiar with. The ones who hadn't listened to the words probably thought it was mediæval.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Once Famous
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 10:05 PM

Malcom you are right. I don't know much about the British folk music scene. Judging from what I've read here, I'm kind of glad. It sounds, for lack of a better expression, like a cluster-fuck.

At least the Bill Monroe type of bluegrassers can do some hot picking and harmony. No warbling for sure! No guitars pretending to be lutes, either.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 10:25 PM

Well I never heard a horse sing it!! Go ahead, abuse me all you want!!!!!!!

"If someone offers you a 'traditional' meal, and you find out it is hamburger mixed with pine nuts and rutabaga, covered with sauerkraut and jalepenos, and served on a bagel..(all VERY traditional food, in their way), you'd maybe be willing to listen to some discussion of why we bother with categories in food, as well as music."

That is a horrible analogy. No one would call it a "traditional" meal served like that because we know the proper way to serve the dish. Each of those foods are items that I have enjoyed - AT THE PROPER TIME. If you mix it all together IN THE SAME MEAL, then you have crap.

Maybe I'm just a "Yank" (you Brits have the cutest expressions! How droll!)and will never understand what occurs in a UK folk club, but if you have such segregated music clubs - then by all means, keep the trads and the Anything Goes Brigade separate. Why would you want to socialize together anyway???

Here in the colonies I think our clubs and "sings" are more open than what you are describing. Sure people have their favorite styles of music, but no one walks out when someone sings a song they do not care for.   I think our culture is probably stronger that we can listen to a John Gorka navel gazer and still find room in our souls for Shady Grove.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 10:29 PM

HAHAHAHAHAHA......... etc.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Once Famous
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 10:38 PM

Did I say cluster-fuck?


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 10:41 PM

Ron..of course no sane person would call that recipe traditional...I said IF they offered it to you (maybe a better example would be going to an Italian restaurant and finding they used Thai fish sauce on their pasta, with a sign saying 'traditional since 1998')....but I have heard people call "Scarborough Fair" done to a bouncy beat with electronic effects 'traditional'....it was interesting, but barely recognizable....and I had to go home and bring in a book to convince these people that it was OLD!


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 10:49 PM

BillD - I never suggested that EVERYTHING was good. I don't think that the original intention of this thread was to say that everything was acceptable.

There ARE versions of "Scarborough Fair" that are truly wonderful, and I would not mind hearing someone do a rendition of "Roseville Fair" in the same evening.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 10:59 PM

Call me a "Brit" and I'll call you a "Yank", Ron. I don't like either term, but people will insist on using them. I wish they wouldn't.

The point is that we don't as a rule segregate between "traditional" and other forms, though of course every venue will have its own preferences and there are a small number that specialise. The only people who complain about "purists", "folk police" and so on are under-achieving performers who do so out of wounded vanity, so far as I can tell.

Where it comes to tradition, we're still talking about very different things, so it isn't surprising when we find ourselves at cross purposes. I have no real idea, for instance, what "pine nuts and rutabaga" might be, though I gather that they are both probably vegetables, more or less, and can be eaten by those who care for that kind of thing. Americans are equally puzzled, I expect, by "faggots" (a kind of skinless haggis but with a higher meat content), "pikelets" and so on.

When we get to edible things like Samphire, I don't expect even many people over here to know what I'm talking about. That's diversity, though; which is also traditional.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: nager
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 11:14 PM

``Under achieving performers ... out of wounded vanity..."

Come on Malcolm, that's the biggest load of bullshit you have written so far in this thread - and that's saying something!


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 11:32 PM

Yes MG... cluster-fuck.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: M.Ted
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 11:33 PM

I had something important to say that would have cleared this all up in a minute--but, BillD's bagel with all that weird stuff on it is more interesting, because I think I ate that somewhere once, and they did call it "traditional"--as to that traditional Italian Thai fish sauce pasta place , there was an article about it in the "Washingtonian" last month and it is the hot new "place to be seen"--


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 26 Jan 05 - 11:33 PM

I said so far as I can tell. Obviously I can only speak from my own experience. If your experience is different, by all means enlighten us. You may have been unluckier than me.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Peace
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 12:01 AM

"hamburger mixed with pine nuts and rutabaga, covered with sauerkraut and jalepenos, and served on a bagel"

What's the recipe for this? It sounds good.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Peace
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 12:09 AM

BTW, pine nuts are an important ingredient in pesto sauce of the basil persuasion. They are the seed of the pinyon pine tree.

Rutabagas--basically, think turnip. You could use one where you would the other with no harm done to the recipe. (Both turnips and rutabagas are members of the mustard family.)


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST,impurist
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 12:10 AM

if you selected the severest purist from each and every folk club in the land
and sent them all off for a weekend conference..


would they get on with each other ?

or would they compete and fight for top position of absolute purity ??


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 12:24 AM

There wouldn't be enough of them to fill a table, so it wouldn't matter.

Pesto and turnips? Weird, but thanks for explaining. I'd need to come up with something that would fit comfortably in between (in terms of flavour and texture) before it'd make a meal.

Now, wait a minute... HAGGIS!


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Peace
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 12:27 AM

LOL


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Boab
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 03:36 AM

I think a legitimate question would be "What makes the 'purists' think they are 'purists'"? They certainly haven't travelled back in time to check their theories out! Some attempts at "purism" [ to coin a word--] I have heard in my time have come across as excruciating murder of what are potentially decent songs. In many cases it has seemed plain to me that the original song was sung in a completely different way. There seems to be a tendency among self-described "purists' to assume that old-time folks had no sense of rhythm. I tend to believe the opposite; look at the folk dancing worldwide---the kind that predates the waltzes and the soulful ballet.No lack of rhythm there! There are many songs which were intended to be sung as slow airs but not---tell Martin Carthy---too many of them for pete's sake!


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Boab
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 03:41 AM

And in risking the "purist wrath"--traditional folk music and song has its parallel in the antique business. Somebody digs up a 150-year-old jam jar; it's a genuine antique! --But it's a bloody jam-jar, for pete's sake---it should have been left buried. More than one traddie has dug up something in exactly that category.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 04:01 AM

john C,
      I have absolutely no problem with you being a purist. When I was a little lad in Primary school, we were were taught English Folk songs ias part of our music lessons. Now, a lot of schools don't teach music at all, so all the old songs will eventually be forgotten. Bat on old fruit!


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: alanabit
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 04:06 AM

I was interested to read Pat Cooksey's post about the decline of folk clubs in the UK. This theme has been discussed on Mudcat. I think the polarisation of different ends of the folk scene does have something to do with it. As I have stated elsewhere, I also believe that in cultures such as the current England and Germany, we have no real folk culture of our own. I believe that is one of the reasons why Pat Cooksey and other Irish acts are popular in Germany (and, of course, the fact that they are good!
I don't want to spout too much about something I don't know about first hand, but it does seem that America has identifiable, unbroken strands of folk music - bluegrass, country and cajun to name just three. Because these are unbroken traditions, you have never really felt you needed to define what was folk and what was not in the same way that many Brits find important.
I do not want to identify too strongly with either camp in the purist debate. I think it is more important to try to bring people into a folk culture which they feel a part of. When I ran a college folk club years ago, we deliberately took it out into the village. We embraced all performers - good, bad and appalling. After a few months, the people who had originally come in to see their mates strumming John Denver songs, were cheerfully singing away with the traditional songs again. Get groups of people singing together frequently and they will begin to sing good songs too. If we do not revitalise the culture and context, the old songs will disappear when the cliques who guard them die off. I do not want that to happen.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: alanabit
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 04:07 AM

I should also say I think there is nothing wrong in being a purist.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Gurney
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 04:24 AM

John C, I understand you! I've been like you, felt like you, about the same tradition, too.

35 years on, I dont really care where a song comes from. Like several people have said, my preferences are A/ I like it a lot, B/ I like it, C/I don't much like it, and D/ I'm not listening to that, thank you.

I think the rot set in when I discovered Coventy library had a full set of 'Folk Song in England(Britain?) a BBC issue of field recordings collected from 'real' folk singers. Several LPs. 95% boring, to me. Possibly to other folkies too, as I've only ever heard a couple sung in all this time.

I promise you, however, that you will not get poisoned by including in your repertoire ANYTHING else, and you won't forget the Trad, either.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 07:27 AM

Chris (Nightbird) - a mate of mine regularly turns up at folk sessions and plays his guitar and sings VERY interesting songs - On
one occasion , when I asked whose song it was , it was from a VERY loud rock band , but done at a sensible volume without the heavy bass and drums it was a Bloody Good Song . Same thing goes for gary Numan ,Buddy holly ,the Beatles and a whle scad of other 'Good Songs' than can be performed as acoustic pieces . Sadly , a lot of (Though NOT all) people who could be described as purists would claim this is NOT what Folk Clubs are there for . MY answer to that is PIFFLE !
Folk Clubs are there for Folk To Make Music together and wether the music is 'Traditional' or singer/songwriter in origin it doesnt Bloody Matter A Damn .


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Once Famous
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 12:12 PM

boab is right on about the antique parallel.

As an avid collector of many antiques, too many I have come in contact with think that if it is old, it's worth a lot.

Not true in most cases.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 12:20 PM

The same is true about so-called "contemporary" folk music. Some musicians feel that just because they are strumming a tune on a guitar it is suddenly "folk music".

I know of a rather well-known contemporary singer-songwriter who was asked to participate in a workshop at a festival. She found some of the best childrens songs she knew to share at the workshop, and then was shocked to find out that the workshop on Child Ballads was not what she thought!!!!


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Blissfully Ignorant
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 12:20 PM

Why stick a label on yourself, anyway?


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 01:16 PM

Despite my total ignorance of what goes on in folk clubs in England, I'm finding most of this discussion quite interesting, and have another couple of cents' worth to offer:

My immediate reaction to a so-called "purist" is to allow that everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion ~ each to his own taste, so to speak.

However: there is one particular strain of trad orthodoxy that I find obnoxious and essentially anti-musical. I refer to those who insist upon blindly aping, note for note, a particular early-twentieth-century recording. There's a lot of this going on among traditional-jazz enthusiasts and some (but thankfully not many) folk-blues players, and I suspect that the "just-like-Bill" bluegrassers that Martin was complaining about are up to the same ignorant nonsense.

Don't these people realize that the recordings they so slavishly imitate represent nothing more than the way their idols played a particular number ONCE, on the day they happened to be recorded?

Early jazz, especially, was nothing if not spontaneous ~ group improvisation ~ but some of these worshipful "recreators" treat a given recording as if each note were engraved in stone. I have the same complaint about acoustic-blues performers who drop a beat from the same measure of the same verse every time they sing a particular song because that's the way Blind So-and-so sang it one afternoon in the 1920s when someone dropped by with recording equipment.

I would hope that those traditionalists who are devoted to *older* forms that predate the emergence of recording technology avoid falling into this trap, but I'm willing to bet that there are some who cling desperately to the earliest *recorded* versions of their favorites, despite the fact that they are attaching themselves to early-20th-century versions of songs from the 19th, 18th, and earlier centuries.

OK ~ rant over...


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 01:25 PM

PoppaGator - good points. Another example would be the Irish fiddler Michael Coleman. After his recordings came out, many fiddlers learned from the records and everyone began sounding the same. Luckily the various regional styles have lived on, thanks to the work of folklorosts.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 01:27 PM

Poppa-gator - I was on the fringes of the great british Blues revival in the late sixties ! My blues guitar playing freinds were always amused at the people lamenting the fact that they could the same sound
out of their Gibsons and Martins as was on some of the old records .
But suggest that they try a 'Cheap' guitar and they loked at you with scorn !


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 02:06 PM

"America has identifiable, unbroken strands of folk music - bluegrass, country and cajun to name just three."!!! WHAT UTTER BULLSHIT!!!


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: John C.
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 02:12 PM

Brilliant stuff! I never imagined that my, slightly mischievous (but deadly serious), question would generate so many interesting and thought provoking answers - plus a smattering of abuse - but, hey, sticks & stones etc.
For the record, and speaking as a sad git...sorry, 'purist', I've always thought that the British Folk Scene of the 60s/70s wasn't destroyed by evil mastermi...sorry, 'purists', like me, but by the 'folk-into-rock' phenomenon. You see you just couldn't fit all those amplifiers and cables etc. into the back room of the average pub - so it all had to go onto the concert stage where the intimacy was lost...right, I'll be off then...


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 02:23 PM

The trouble with being a purist is that it's so easy to become obsessed with the "impure" to the extent that you become more identified with what you're against than with what you're for. It's a syndrome we are seeing again in the religions of the world.The more fundamenatlist in outlook the more negative the vibes given off.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 02:25 PM

Purist to me is a label. I have been labeled a "purist" all my singing life, and nothing can be further from the truth. The music I inherited is just dearer to me than all other, and people expect me to perform it, and I feel most comfortable with it- it's part of me. But I like most other kinds of music, for listening, and for joining-in- have written "modern" songs myself, and sung them to- have folks say after hearing one of them, "Oh,wonderful old song!"

And Bill Monroe, whose name keeps cropping up here as so traditional was, in his day,the biggest innovator of us all- didn't he INVENT bluegrass?

Mudcatters seem to love labels and lists: Threads for, The Best This, The Worst That...The Most Popular...so now are we going to have a Who's a Purist? list? I sincerely hope not- it's a waste of time.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Amos
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 02:51 PM

Thanks, Jeannie, and wisely said!


A


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 05:02 PM

I think many posters need to re-check the initial post.

The point that is escaping is that (over-sweeping generalisation follows) the AGB tend to label anyone who does any significant number of folk songs at all as a "purist" and them blames them for the decline of folk clubs - whether or not they in fact welcomed non-traditional singers and players.

My experience is that this is true. You can see examples from Don (WYZIWIG) Thompson on the English folk club thread.

You will also see from the original post that the experience was specifically stated as being found in English clubs. So, dear MG, if you don't have the experience you don't have the knowledge and you are not in the position to express an informed or therefore rational opinion. That, however, rarely stops you so I don't suppose it will stop you now.

SRS, you know better, I think and hope.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST,Frank
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 05:40 PM

What is a "purist"?

First comes the music. Then someone makes up the rules.

It's simple. If you don't like a certain music it means:

1. You don't know enough about it.
2. You have prejudices.
3.   You may understand some music and still not like it.
4. You may attribute to it false subjective standards.
5.   You've got an axe to grind.
6. You haven't listened to it long enough.

What I hear in John C's statement is that he has been criticized for liking certain music or mislead in the adverts about what the music was supposed to be.

If he defines the kind of music he likes as "purist" then how can anyone argue with this? There's nothing wrong with that.

i don't have any problem with music that I like or think is good.
Why should anyone else?

But it's intolerant to judge another person's taste in music just because you don't like it.

I don't like heavy metal or some hip hop but I'm not going to say that it's not good music. In fact I admire much music that I don't like because the expertise that it takes to produce it in my view is to be admired.

Frank


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 06:02 PM

Richard Bridge,

Whatever the particular issues the initial post may have addressed, I think that *all* the comments here (well, almost all of them) have been interesting and valid observations on a fairly wide range of differences between "strict-constructionist" folkies and "moderists."

It it were *possible* to restrict the discussion to responses directly relevant to JohnC's particular initial concerns, there would have been much less "food-for-thought" here for us to digest and debate.

Of course, it's not possible to censor the membership that strictly, which is a good thing, isn't it?

I do not at all object to your restating the original case, though. It's good to be reminded that we began with a complaint about a particular conflict in English folk clubs. However, I don't think there's anything objectionable about the wider-ranging discussion that ensued.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 08:24 PM

When I was first seriously into British Traditional Jazz I was a most definate Purist - NO saxophone , NO Guitar , NO Piano ! Just trumpet clarinet trombone front line and banjo bass drums for rhythm ! Then I bought a reissued album of Louis Armstrongs first recordings with King Olive - March / April 1923 !! Lil Harding on piano , johhny StCyr playing a Six String banjo tuned as guitar and Stump Evans on Alto Sax . Stopped me being a 'Purist' on the spot !
It seems to me that far too many people who qualify for the 'purist' label in Folk simply havent opened their ears and their minds to enough good music !!


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 08:24 PM

I wasn't going to post this at Mudcat, but this seems to be the right time and place for it. It's my most recent on-line column for the website of the PLANK ROAD FOLK MUSIC SOCIETY west of Chicago. About a week or three ago, these thoughts were keeping me awake---so I jumped up and wrote 'em down...
--------------------------------------------------------------

The main job of a folksinger, I've always felt, is to explore the past. After skimming the scum of the present off the top of the historical pond, folksingers mine the depths for the artifacts that were lost --- some long ago and some more recently. They find, clean up, polish and sometimes enhance the overlooked found pieces of music and/or poetry so they can be shown to people here and now in a way that allows modern people to feel some of the emotions experienced by those that lived, loved, worked, fought, struggled and then died in that whole other time and place.

The extent to which the one calling themselves a folksinger does that, determines whether that person is, or is not, a folksinger.

Modern singer-songwriters stand here and now and look at today's personal ongoing dramatic situations and traumas. They also look, artistically and insightfully into the future for their inspiration, and then they speculate about how what we are doing might enhance or detract from those days to come. Some of today's songwriters will become legends --- famous and infamous --- rich or poor. But most, from where I sit, will not become folksingers.

Only when their presented music is a result of looking and studying about how people of the past turned their lives into art that chronicled that life, can the songs they uncovered be real folksongs.

It is all about the timeline!! In the future, what is made now may become a folksong. -- Then someone from that future, someone who understands the rules (yes, the rules!) finds the appropriate artifacts you or I may have thought little of --- and maybe tossed by the wayside. That gem when re-examined, could exhibit real, possibly ironic meaning for the folks of that new reality. --- If it is presented in a way that shows the connection between what is said in the lyric, maybe in-between the lines, older folklore artifacts can be instantly updated. --- A semi-comic line like, "Hey, here is a song from the last depression"---automatically makes an old song a way to see current hard times--or wars---or disasters from the Johnstown Flood and Nah's flood to our recent tsunami or 9/11.   Then, when that person who knew/knows what to look for brings it forth, it is and ought to be called an actual folksong --- and that individual is an actual folksinger.

Purist? Revivalist? Whatever. I just know I've spent a lot of time over the last half century trying to say this the right way. I do hope it means something true to you. But this is me--what it comes down to -- in a nutshell -- to me. It is only the way I see it---and some of why I see it that way---for what it's worth. I mean no offense to anyone. ------ People, I always considered myself to be a folksinger about 60% of the time---possibly a little more I hope. If Barry Bonds, with or without steroides, had batted as well, he would've hit 600. Not too bad!

This is pretty much what Frank Hamilton said in this thread too I think. It's the excitement of the treasure hunt---and then finding a piece of the Grail here and there--every so often. That's what being a folksinger is all about! This is what made and makes it an academic discipline for so many of the purist Catters and ballad scholars---as exhibited in the best threads this place has to offer.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 11:27 PM

I'm going to tell you what Folk Music did for me...

I used to be a Rock and Roller to the core. I used lots of distortion on me guitar, and played electrics exclusively. I played in bars, clubs, and what-have-you, and what I can tell you is, even in the rehearsal room, it GOT TOO F**KIN' LOUD!

This was my reasoning initially for switching to a softer, and more dynamic type of playing. Then, I noticed that through the din, the soul and meaning of my music had gone as well.

Needless to say, this would not do. I stopped, I quit/broke up my Rock band, and my Bass player and I started doing Acoustic gigs. I started, through some of the influences I had, to listen to some other things like Country Blues, older Country, like Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, and Bluegrass like, you guessed it, Bill Monroe.
I then took a closer look into some people I was already listening to like Dylan, Havens, etc.

My influences became more varied, and focused on a different genre. A type of music that I'd always heard as 'Folk' music. Meaning music from the folks by the folks about the folks. Of course, some of these were stories passed down from generations. Most of these musicians interpreted the music their own way. Like Blues songs are adapted, and sometimes twisted to suit who played them.

So... in short... I now write from the point of view of myself, and things that people I know experienced. 'Reality' music, as Chuck 'Tarheel' Hemrick would call it... 'Folk' music, as most people understand it to be.

- Chris Nightbird Childs


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: M.Ted
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 11:34 PM

Leadfingers-I like your story a lot!   I have been in a similar situation on more than one occasion--it is wonderfully humbling to be knocked off of your soapbox when someone plays a recording of an old 78--


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Amos
Date: 27 Jan 05 - 11:51 PM

Art:

I have mentioned a number of times on this forum the belief that au coeur folksingers are genuine time travelers. It's like this. I don't care if you'r e a beer-joint in SanFran or a roadhouse between Madison and Mount Carroll, the moment comes when you're doing "Lord Lovell", say, or as you do so well, "John Hardy" and you have your man there, standing on the Blackstone Bridge, so drunk he could not see.... and you're making your chords and runs and picking away and you close your eyes to remember that verse, see?

And there you are. Wet night, early autumn, cooling fast, drops of moisture on the stone rails and footways, and the sound of the river rushing underneath, and the sound of footsteps punctuating the night. The footsteps are heavy, but determined, a 250-pound sherriff sort of determination, marching on hard stone. And there's this deep voice, softened by whiskey, trying to get a job done with as much dignity as can be spared for the occasion, saying, "Johnny, boy, I thnk yoiu'd better come with me. Woddya say, lad. Ya don't want any more trouble than you got, son. Whyn't'you jes' come with me."

And that's where you are, traveling in time, purely located at the middle of the nineteenth century or mebbe 1910.

It isn't just a song anymore.

You're there, and that's what comes into your voice, and that's what the people in the night club hear and for just a minute, because you are a time-traveler, they are there too, breathing that river-wet night air and being in history right along side of you.

I am just an amateur time traveler, but that makes it no less vivid for me. I have walked those streets with Barbry Ellen and cried for Sweet William and made it heard so others could be there as well, just as I know you have. But you -- you were the real thing and the professional time traveler man.

So here's to you, mon brave.

The traveler through Time, Art Thieme.

A


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 28 Jan 05 - 12:03 AM

If it comes from the heart and the mind... it's pure.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 28 Jan 05 - 01:19 AM

Amos,

For all the years I did it, that's what I told folks. We are going on a trip through time!! That was the long and the short of it. So I know what you're sayin'. And it's not necessarilly THE TRUTH of what went down. It's the fantasy and the reality all mixed up in the song. And you also get to see how they wanted things to be---what their agenda might've been. Their spin for all their ulterior motives and propaganda machinations shows up in it too.

Come all you good people who like to have fun,
Listen to me and I'll sing you a song,
Listen to me and the truth I'll declare,
As I sing all about the Pokegama Bear...

or...

Down in the scrub oak country of the south-east Texas gulf,
There used to ride a brakeman---and a brakeman double tough,
He worked the line from Kilgore and to Longview 12 miles down,
And the 'bos all said that East Texas Red was the meanest bull around...

or...

'Dobe Bill, he went a ridin' through the canyon in the glow
Of a quiet summer's evenin, and he wasn't riding slow,
Riding easy on his pinto that he dearly loved to straddle,
With his six-gun and sombrero that was wider than his saddle,
And he's ridin' as he's hummin' of a simple little song
That's a-boomin' through the canyon as he's galloping along...


or any of 5,000 other glimpses back that happen to have a good tune tossed into the mix.

As Utah Phillips is so fond of saying: "Hell, the past didn't go anywhere!" ----- No, it's there for the perusing---for the taking. And any of you out there can join Amos and me and so many others who know the secrets and the beauty of this way of being a trad purist.

Nothing at all is wrong with being a purist! I'm proud to own up to that good monicker. (And I like what this thread has morphed into.)

Art


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: John C.
Date: 28 Jan 05 - 01:35 PM

The time travelling thing, spoken of so eloquently by Art Thieme and Amos above, gets it about right. The other night a friend sang a version of the 'Flash Lad' - an Eighteenth Century ballad about a thief who 'robbed Lord Golden, I do declare, and Lady Mansfield in Grovesnor Square' - and gets hung, on Tyburn Tree, for his pains. And I swear I saw a ragged lad running through Covent garden vegetable market - scattering cabbages, onions and apples in his wake - with 'Ned Fielding's Gang' of thief takers in hot pursuit...I don't get anything like that from hip hop or thrash metal or whatever - those are just intrusive noises to me - not time machines, not vehicles which link me to my ancestral past.
It's experiences like the one described above that keeps me interested in trad. songs - why I have to learn and sing them myself and why I love to hear them sung well. And, you know, the experience just seems to get better and more profound as I get older - every time I think I've got the measure of these songs I hear tune or a new set of words, or read an article (or a posting here - usually by Malcolm Douglas - thanks, Malcolm!) that blows my mind and sets me off on another journey of discovery.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST,Chanteyranger
Date: 28 Jan 05 - 02:01 PM

Along those lines, I like to think of sea chanteys as "portholes into our past." They connect, as many types of folk songs do, tangible things (ships, storms, "Judies," cruel mates, etc.) with intangible ideas (fear, courage, love, lust, longing for a better life, etc.) It is this quality of linking the tangible with the intangible that, for me, gives traditional folk songs their sense of immediacy as well as their sense of historical time and place. Modern songs written with traditional music sensibilities can do the same, such as some of Andy M. Stewart's and Richard Grainger's songs, for just a couple of examples. They have a way of making a nearly seamless link between the traditionalist and the singer/songwriter, at least to my ears.

GREAT article, Art Thieme!

Chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 28 Jan 05 - 03:42 PM

Richard,

I have taken some time to respond to your characterisation of myself as a bigot who can be seen to blame all the ills of the folk scene on purists/traditionalists.

You mentioned my posts on the folk music in England thread, in support of your assertion, and on checking back I found five of these, none of which could even be misconstrued as apportioning blame in this way.

I am, and always have been devoted to traditional folk music, and don't wish to see it changed, or devalued in any way. Neither do I have any adverse comment to make on those who wish to pursue it exclusively.

I merely assert my right to view traditional, and contemporary, as facets of FOLK MUSIC, which have equal value in their own right, and can co-exist in the same club for those wanting to perform, or hear, either, or both.

I hope this is sufficiently lucid for me to avoid being accused of any other crimes against music.

Incidentally, I would have thought that it were possible to coin a less pejorative term for people like me than "Anything Goes Brigade", implying, as it does, a complete absence of musical taste, rather than, as is the case, a more open minded approach to the subject. There is a lot of music I do not enjoy, but I have never in my life referred to it as rubbish, crap, etc. After all, it would not exist unless a considerable number of people thought it worthwhile, and that's as it should be.

My last post on this thread folks. BYEE

Don T.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 28 Jan 05 - 05:16 PM

So many great comments and feelings expressed here- I keep thinking as I read them, about the moment that comes whenever I'm giving an interview, or just talking about music, when I have to say- the old songs and music are a river...a big, rolling, deep, quiet river. Anyone can stop there beside it, rest, drink, dip in and take part of it away to use as they like best. And nothing is missed from the river; it just keeps on moving along, going nowhere and everywhere. The borrower may carry away the old song and change it, add modern instrumentation to it, give it a blues sound, a jazz sound, a rock sound, a rap treatment, and so on. Some audiences will love each such interpretation, others will hate it, many will tolerate it, most will after awhile forget it. But the river doesn't even care, for the original song is still floating along there, ready to be used again, and you know what? The river just keeps rising.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST,Chanteyranger
Date: 28 Jan 05 - 06:55 PM

My god, that's a beautiful analogy, kytrad. What a great thread this is.

Chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 28 Jan 05 - 07:10 PM

Don, you said: -

"For years I have been one of the organisers of a Folk Club in Kent, which was losing attenders at a frightening rate, and had hardly any under 45 years old. Two years ago it became an Acoustic Music Club, and our adverts made it quite clear that this was INCLUSIVE. All types of music are welcomed, not just accepted. "

Indeed at the time it was one of your main concerns that it should not be called a "folk club".


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 28 Jan 05 - 08:34 PM

My comment still stands, in that:-
1. the statement about the falling attendance is a statement of fact. Attendance was falling, and the committee, of which I was a member, had several meetings to discuss the way forward. I have made no statement implying blame for this fact.

2. I felt, and suggested, that part of the problem was the Folk club appellation. It is true that public perception of what a folk club is, has been skewed, and proves to be a stumbling block when trying to increase attendance. Uninformed young people see folk as pertaining to their parents, not to their age group. Again no suggestion was ever made that traditionalism/purism were culpable. The term Acoustic Music does seem to be less off putting to youngsters, so I suppose I am responsible for saying that the name might be to blame, but not, repeat NOT, the people organising the club.

3. As you well know, I stood down from the committee and went my own way, later being co-opted back by those who took over when you retired from organising.

4. The club is now operating pretty much on the lines I suggested, and is slowly building up, but has a long way to go yet, a point I have made in several posts on mudcat, so I am not exactly crowing about a runaway success.

5. looking back at my posts, there IS one thing that I should have said, and did not, for which I unreservedly apologise. I should have made it clear that you and Jacqui also ran an inclusive club where all were welcome, and that my misgivings were entirely related to the name issue. This, however, hardly equates to the "several instances of AGBs blaming traditionalists for all the ills of the folk scene in general" which you claimed could be seen in my posts.

Given that we both have the same goal, preservation of the tradition, but have different ideas on how to attain it, I think that this was an unwarranted personal slur, which tends toward the boot being on the other foot. You will forgive me if I continue to believe that I am not the problem, but may be a very small part of the solution if, as I hope, I can expose young people to traditional folk music, as part of a broader whole.

Don T


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 28 Jan 05 - 08:35 PM

Hey-
Let's be realistic.

"Folk" is not a judgement of quality. And liking something isn't enough to warrant the label of "Folk"; contrariwise, if you like Rock, and you like a Jean Ritchie ballad, it doesn'y make that ballad Rock. Yhere's good folk music and lousy folk music and every shade in between. Just like any other genre.

Recognizing that I have limited time and limited funds, when I buy a CD or go to a sing or concert, I like to know what I'm letting myself in for. I would feel just as cheated if I attend a baroque music concert and found myself listening to Dylan as if I went to a folk music concert and they played Buxtehude.

The net result is damaging to lesser-known singers. I just won't take the time to attend one of, say, Joseph Blow's concerts or buy one of his CDs unless I have some idea of what I'm letting myself in for.

I like my jazz to be jazz; my Broadway show tunes to be show tunes and my folk music to fit at least some stated definition of "folk". If that makes me a purist, so be it.

And to hell with your singing horses.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 28 Jan 05 - 08:36 PM

I haven't been back for a while, so I don't remember exactly what I said that Richard chided me for, but of course I meant what I said. This isn't a silly or flippant thread where I'd be posting BS, like down below the line.

Look around at the nature of the discussions going on here at Mudcat. I just spent over an hour reading through various sites and pulling out the dictionary to track down what I hope is an accurate meaning for the word "Jubal." It has been an interesting journey, and lets me see that modern users of the word may be giving it a different meaning than it had when it was first used in the song under discussion. The connections have weakened over time, from its Old Testament origins, and users have blithely assumed that it is related to "jubilee," but I don't think it is.

The time and interest it takes to find evidence of previous usage, and to present a lucid argument as to why I think the "cacophonous hounds of the devil" is more appropriate than the "joyous, festive" interpretation, no doubt makes me a purist. That's because I approach this as a scholar. This goes into what Art Theime said above.

This said, it doesn't in any way restrict my interest in other types of music or enjoying the evolution that songs go through. Last year when my daughter and I were out driving she played a CD for me with a Metallica song that she liked. Some of you already know where I'm going with this. When we got home I pulled out a book of my father's and showed her the words to "Whiskey in the Jar." Amazing for both of us! Who knew? There's room for all of this, and if I were to reject the Metallica version as not authentic, I'd also be rejecting my daughter's interest and taste, and I respect both. I'd rather broaden her interests and let her see the origins, than push her version away as somehow "inauthentic."

SRS


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Amos
Date: 28 Jan 05 - 10:26 PM

So thanks to Metallica, your daughter was also able to time-travel. I may not like their version, but if they can "open the portal" for another human being, it is not my job to fault them.

A


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 28 Jan 05 - 10:40 PM

Jean--Here is a little aside prompted by your good post.

All the time I sang on the Mississippi, the philosophical river aspects of our doings got clearer and clearer to me. Going through the locks behind a double tow (15 barges that had to be broken in two chunks to pass through -- and might add two extra hours to my day) taught me what patience means and how I might as well look even closer at the gift it was to be able to spend ten years singing on those steamboats. Even now when stuff hits the fan, and my life is disrupted for any length of time, ideally, I look at the situation and say to myself, "Art, just another LOCK DELAY!!" -- and I find all kinds of new ways to see that flow of time around me.

And at night when thoughts are racing, I use the old ballads and adventurous long songs to stop those thoughts and get to sleep. Often I find sleep before I finish the song, but that's o.k.

Love,

Art


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST,Michael Morris
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 12:33 AM

There is no such thing as pure anything when it comes to music. All forms and styles are historically contingent. Some traditions are more conservative, some more innovative, and obviously the same can be said for individual muscicians and groups. That being said, I'm fairly conservative in my tastes and I would rather hear a familiar melody than someone's attempt at innovation if it leads to progressive rock, Spinal Tap-esque meandering, "jazz odyssey" etc.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 12:41 AM

Art,

My friend, I know you are reluctant, but it is time to write the book.

Don


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 01:20 AM

LIKE I SAID, ANYTHING THAT COMES FROM THE HEART AND THE MIND IS PURE.
And a good writer spends just as much time writing books as he does reading them... there's an analogy for the conservatives in the audience.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: John P
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 09:58 AM

I've met with lots of purists -- I've been called a purist lots of times -- but I've only met the music police three times in the 24 years I've been performing traditional folk music. And two of the police were medieval music police, so maybe they don't count for this discussion. But all three confronted me loudly while I was performing, so they were very memorable. One of them was a drunken medievalist musicologist in a tavern . . . it was great. Most eveyone I've met is happy to talk about what they like and don't like, but don't expect anyone else to go along with their tastes.

I agree with Bill D that if we are going to talk about folk music, and put CDs in genre-labeled bins, and write "folk" on concert posters, we ought to have some agreeement about what we are talking about. And I agree that it is easy to tell the difference between traditional music and other music, and calling singer/songwriters "folk artists" and calling Bob Dylan "traditional folk" is so much piffle.

That said, I suspect Bill and I would disagree on some of the fine points of the meaning of traditional. I'm happy to call any traditional song, no matter how it's played, a traditional song. If I have to, I'll further concede that it was not played in a traditional manner, but electric guitars, didgeridus, djembes, and saxophones do not change the fact that a song or tune is traditional. My biggest interest has always been in the melody and the words more than the style of performance.

As a performer, I've usually been somewhere in between definitions -- the rockers and the s/s crowd think I'm hopelessly stodgy and traditional because 95% of the music I play is very old traditional folk music. But the purists tend to think I'm too rocked out for their tastes because I do a bit of mixing and matching of instruments and rhythms to achieve what I personally think is the best sound for each individual song. One of the music police that attacked me was complaining about me using a guitar on a traditional Bulgarian dance tune because "that's not the way they do it". The funny part was that a week later a very old Bulgarian woman walked up to us with a big smile on her face while we were playing the same tune. She remembered the tune from her childhood and was amazed and happy to hear it being played in public in Seattle. She didn't even seem to notice that I was using a guitar.

The point of all this is to say that I play traditional music because that's what I love more than any other sort of music. But I don't play it to please purists or musicologists. I play it to please myself and my audience. I'm happy to have long conversations about which aspects of my performance are historically rooted, and which are borrowed from other cultures, and which I just made up. But 99% of the people I play for would be bored to tears by that conversation and don't have the knowledge base needed to be involved it in anyway. But a few of them hear me playing tradtional music and get all turned on by a type of melody and lyric they've never heard before and ask me questions about it and leave the performance with longs lists of CDs to try. Some of these folks even go on to become purists . . .

John C, I have to agree with whoever said that calling everyone who isn't a purist the "Anything Goes Brigade" is sort of insulting. Maybe you should investigate the nuances a bit more. I'm certainly not a member of the AGB -- if someone claims to be playing folk music, I damn well want to hear folk music -- but I don't much care what instruments it's played on or how it's arranged, as long as it's well played with integrity and passion.

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: John P
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 10:08 AM

Oh, John C, I forgot to answer your original question. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being a purist, as long as you don't go around telling other people they are doing it wrong.

John P


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Amos
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 10:30 AM

Art:

The River of Time Book is in your hands, sir,as well as your heart and head;   and to hand such a book out to those who need it or would be blessed by it is a major goal worth starting for at once!! I second the motion.

A


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 10:41 AM

I have just read all through this thread again and have not found anywhere where anyone referred to themelves as Anything Goes Brigade. It seems to me that all the condescension towards other people and their music has come from people who refer to themselves as purists.

As for putting in a link to a dictionary in case we are too ignorant to understand the word equivocally, please. Show some respect.

I am interested in etymology and would be happy to read more on the basis of BillG's assertion about what the term folk music originally meant, however the meaning has not been that narrow in my life time.

To use the term folk music in a way that would exclude Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Tom Paxton, Cyril Tawney and many others who write or have written contemporary song would be just wrong. Most people would recognise these as folk singers and not be shocked to turn up at a folk concert and find any of them performing (except for Woody, obviously). To bill a club which presents only your concept of the pure tradition, with no further description, would be to deceive the vast majority of the ticket buying public.

One or two people mentioned jazz and the analogy is a good one. If I see a sign advertising Live Jazz I don't know whether this will be music like Louis Armstrong in the 20's which I love or Dixieland banjo stompers which I generally dislike, not too mention Miles or Trane or 60's Avante Garde or Herbie Hancock or Pharaoh Sanders. I go in with an open mind. If I like the music, great. If not I either give it a while to try and win me over, or leave. If I am paying for a gig I know nothing about I will try and find out before committing. It doesn't seem that difficult to me. To suggest that our self styled purists, our guardians of the tradition, our experts of the folk world would turn up at a gig billed simply as a folk concert, in all naivete, expecting to see a singer from their own segment, period and style of old music is simply sophistry.

Incidentally I got the ain't heard a horse sing yet reference from the cover of an old Muddy Waters album. He was complaining about people moaning that his wasn't proper folk music and shouldn't have been allowed on their radio stations. Thank God it was. It really made me smile to see people who claim such virtue for reusing old songs be so sneering at someone reusing an old answer to an old question.

Folk music is many things, pure it ain't and never has been. I don't know anyone who claims that all music is folk music but to claim that the part which interests you most is real folk music and everything else is not is just plain wrong.

I'll ask the question again because it hasn't been answered yet; pure what ? I have some ideas but am far to polite too share them.
Love Robbie


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Flash Company
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 10:57 AM

My, what a lot of words in so little time!
I don't sing now for reasons medical rather than artistic, although I suspect that some might say that what I used to do had nothing to do with art!
When I did, what came out was rather as my fancy took me, so it could be 'Four Loom Weaver', Johnny I Hardly Knew You', 'The Outboard Motor Men', 'The Prune Song' or 'Hard Luck Stories'.
I sang unaccompanied, and OK that made for difficulties with some things, but what the hell, live dangerously.
My attitude to music is simple, either I like it or I don't, so it can be folk, jazz, classical, pop, rock or whatever, if it hits the right button, great. If it doesn't, I'll go and do something else for a while (Like post to Mudcat).
The important thing is the music, and as long as we all care, that will continue. If we stop caring about it, arguing about it, it will fade away and be replaced by mindless muzak.
Keep up the good fight!

FC


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Amos
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 11:35 AM

Robbie:

The question of what is folk music has been wrangled on this forum so many times and from so many angles by so many horses that the very mention of the question has become a standing joke. It is not a resoluble question, finally.

A


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: chris nightbird childs
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 12:18 PM

I for one am talking about music from the heart & mind- honest, unpretentious, at times unedited... in short, PURE. Be it Folk, Blues, Rock and Roll, or a symphonic requiem for the Jew's Harp.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Bill D
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 12:22 PM

"... either I like it or I don't, so it can be folk, jazz, classical, pop, rock or whatever..."

and that is exactly the right attitude! And even we who get labeled 'purists'...or worse... do about the same. The point is, you recognize the difference between those types of music, even as you are mixing them.

If you go to the DigiTrad database and peruse the 9000 or so songs there, you will see a pattern. THIS general type is what we thought Mudcat was going be be about 8 years ago, but as more & more people found their way here, threads started appearing on "what is your favorite rock song?" and "Is Donovan better than Dylan?"...etc..

The argument that has developed has usually been not over whether rock music...or Donovan and Dylan... were good, but about why we should clutter one of the rare places that exist to discuss & share **folk** music with all those other things?
   Well, since this is a pretty open place, and since the owner, Max, is pretty eclectic and hates to stifle discussion, it has come to pass that most everything gets tossed in...which, whether you know it or not, has caused some of the experts in 'folk' music to pop in, look around, and decide that it's just too cluttered with extraneous noise. We miss them at times.

We do ok anyway, and Mudcat is still a fine resource for those who need a folk question answered, but we who get labeled
'purist' are, as you notice..*grin*... often frustrated at the trend toward muddying the definition, as well as the discussion.

There IS a difference between what Jeannie Robertson did and what Kate Wolf did....and it's worth understanding, even if you like both.


I will stop now....I promise. I just like to see this point of view in print when the issue arises.....


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: John C.
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 12:35 PM

To John P.,

I agree with a lot of what you say - and I would never dream of telling you that you were 'doing it wrong' - that's just plain rude, as well as patronising. Nevertheless, if you asked for my opinion then I would strive to be as honest as possible. I also have to say, though, that if a person has the gift of being able to make music and the guts to perform in public then they start off with my heartfelt admiration and respect - even if I don't particularly like what they're doing.
I suppose that I started this thread because I believe that there are people on the British Folk Scene who don't particularly like or understand trad. song and either want to dilute it or replace it with something which is more akin to modern popular music. These people seem to like throwing around insult when they're favoured 'project' does not seem to be making enough progress.
By the way, you mention Bulgarian music in your piece. I wonder if you've ever been to Bulgaria - thoroughly recommended - beautiful, unspoilt country, great people and, of course, unbelievably wonderful music (not sure how 'pure' it is, of course - but who gives a s..t - sorry, British irony!).

Best Wishes,
John C.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 02:04 PM

As Mudcat gains new members (or guest readers) this discussion is going to come up repeatedly. And it doesn't hurt even if it is just re-hashed by old members. I'm on a couple of academic discussion lists, and the same thing happens there every year or two. The Western Literature Association regularly goes through a "what is the West" discussion--does California get included, what about large urban areas in the West, are they really "western?" and on. The Environmental Literature discussion forum does the same thing. If we live in the environment, and write in the environment, why isn't ALL writing environmental? I won't begin to characterize the discussions that have happened over the years on the American Indian Literature lists--"who is an Indian and what are they/should they be writing about their people?" is a hot button topic if there ever was one. Something comes along and sets these groups off to once again take a four-dimensional look at their raison d'être.

If we all shared the exact same viewpoint, there wouldn't be a need to talk about it. With each repeat discussion, newcomers can learn the complexities in their new field of interest, and established members can refine their viewpoints. It's a win-win situation, and it is a given that not everyone will agree.

Good thread, John C.

SRS


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 03:11 PM

So if I read your comment aright Bill D, folk music DOES belong exclusively to the traditionalist, and singer/songwriters writing in the folk idiom, and on the same subjects as the writers of traditional folk, should find something else to call themselves, and stay off your discussion forum, and out of folk clubs.

So what do we call the people who composed, and sang, those 9000 songs if not singer/songwriters. People must have been more tolerant in those days toward new material, or there would be no tradition.

As to misgivings about the fare offered, our regulars are well aware that our "Acoustic Music Club" will serve up a variety of acoustic music, some of which will be traditional, and some contemporary, and they seem to like it that way. We don't get any pop, but if someone did sing a pop song, we certainly would not make him feel as unwanted as this forum sometimes does people like myself.

Don T


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: John P
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 04:31 PM

Don T,
I think you misunderstood Bill D's comments. He hasn't told anyone to go away, he hasn't told any clubs what to play, or really said anything to make you feel unwanted. You'll have to take responsibility for that yourself.

I don't think anyone in this discussion is particularly intolerant toward newly written music. Most everybody likes a wide range of music, new and old. The point that is being made is that the old stuff is different than the new stuff, and some of us like it better. This doesn't mean we are coming down on you for liking something different than we like.

Try to understand that the fact that you don't seem to perceive the difference between traditional folk music and modern songwriter songs doesn't mean there isn't one.

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Bill D
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 07:16 PM

indeed I haven't suggested that anyone 'go away'...but I DO wish that singer-songwriters and those who promote them HAD (notice the past tense) qualified what they do and called themselves "modern acoustic" or "pop folk" or something...but it's about too late now. If we are even able to keep the term 'traditional' referring mostly to older music that derives from before commercial recording, I would be overjoyed! I, personally, do not have some meta-extreme notion that there is only one 'right' set of words or tune, and that if it is on a record, it can't be 'trad'.

Don T.....There are many (5 to 25, depending on how you analyze) characteristics of a folk/traditional song, including age, style, anonymity, tune, subject matter, content, etc --If you looked at all the songs in the DigiTrad, you'd see common themes...There are songs no one would doubt are folk/trad, and some that few would argue DO fit the definition. "False Knight on the Road" usually gets in, "Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" mostly does not. "Jambalaya" kinda falls in the middle and "This Land is Your Land" has pretty well been accepted. Why?...They just are 'different'....in another 100 years, there might be songs by Dylan which are passed down by people who have no idea who Dylan is, and "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carrol" may fit almost as well as "John Hardy"....do YOU know whether John Hardy was a real person or not? I can just see a Mudcat question in 2105 "someone told me that "Hattie Carrol" was based on a true story....could this be true?"

I have always advocated looking at a list of characteristics, then sorta assigning a song a place on a line based on how many hits it got, and accepting those with high score, rejecting those with very LOW score, and not fussing about those in the middle. (I don't mean to do this as some tedious, formal process with committee votes and annual ceremonies like the Baseball Hall of Fame....I mean just noting in your head that "Yellow Submarine", neat as it is, may have to wait a number of years to see it it ever achieves the status of an Uncle Dave Macon creation! *grin*)


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 07:40 PM

If you refer back to my post, you will see that I referred very specifically to singer/songwriters writing in the folk idiom, and with the same subject matter. I would think that makes it pretty clear that I am not talking about pop, pop folk, or folk rock. This removes the examples that you gave without further discussion or analysis. Most of what I write is folk tempo and style, and written about what I see and experience with the accent on humour. I also sing a number of traditional songs, some unaccompanied, and carefully chosen songs written by others. I perform mostly in folk clubs, and the audiences generally seem to appreciate what I do.

So, my question is this:- If I am not a folk singer, what exactly do you people think I should call myself. I've been doing this since 1965, and it's only in the last five years or so that I've had people telling me I'm not a folk singer.

There are times when I could almost say to hell with it and take up bowls instead, but I care too much about the music to do that.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: DADGBE
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 07:55 PM

This has been an interesting thread indeed! What wonderful comments from Art, Kytrad and so many others. Having been accused on various occasions of being too purist and not purist enough at other times, I guess that I'll wade in at this point.

That river of music seems continuous, on-going and contiguous with human history. It has never stopped and has its origins wherever there are people. It may be the what defined us human better that any other measure.

The mistake I have so often made is to select one spot on the river to define as the moment of 'purity'; that moment in time to which all the other moments must be compared.

I love Irish fiddle music but have been told that guitar isn't traditional enough to play along. Yet, the violin is an Italian import to Ireland, the guitar's from Spain, the accordion German.

Ultimatly, we will never find purity. We will find music we like: Music that connects respectfully with what came before us and modifies the old music with new insight.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: DADGBE
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 08:17 PM

Damn! I hate it when my brain works slow and my fingers work even slower.

That should have read: "It may be what defines us as human better than any other measure."


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: toadfrog
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 08:59 PM

Dick Greenhaus almost always says what I wanted to say, and says it better. Or Art Thieme seems to, although he also waxes poetic enough so I can't always understand him.

But try this. There are good singer-songwriter bits. There is truly fine pop music. "Bottle of Wine" is a truly fine singer-songwriter thing. It isn't "folk music," though. The music in "Cold Mountain" was very fine music. And I'm extremely grateful to the people who made "Cold Mountain" for calling it Rock and Roll, not "folk music." Fine rock and roll music it is. It is not what people listened to at the time of the Civil War, and doesn't pretend to be.

If I am a "purist," it is not because of some theoretical belief about "folk music" or "traditional music." It is because listening to a song, or a singer, pretending to be what it is not is like listening to somebody scrape their fingernail across a blackboard. When some high school music teacher writes and sings a song about how he/she is an experienced and battered old miner/shellback/convict and knows all about life and suffering, it is phoney and offensive because the writer does not share the life experience or musical tradition of the subject, and immediately falls into bathos and sentimentality. Bob Dylan is a particularly vivid example, because he is a talented poet and an excellent singer. But he spoils all that by being a Capital-P Phoney and pretending to be what he never was.

I listen to, and sing, traditional music to try and get into the head of the person who wrote and sang the song, and feel what that person must have felt. I sing for the love of singing, and I don't try to impress people.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Bill D
Date: 29 Jan 05 - 09:45 PM

well, Don T..if I heard you, I might indeed say you were close to the folk style and tradition. I know Craig Johnson, who has written a couple of things that I thought WERE trad the first time...his tunes, style, choice of topic..etc..make him very much "in the tradition", and although humor, especially if topical, like Tom Lehrer or Tom Paxton, dates the material, the treatment and style CAN be similar to older stuff. I'd have to judge each song or performance individually, but if a good bit of it fit the list, I'd have no complaint about you billing yourself as 'folk'. If, as you say, you DO include traditional songs, then you at least KNOW which ones are traditional...I have been to open mike sessions where people just wanted to be in front of a mic, and knew nothing earlier than Elvis, The Beatles, and Dylan, and to whom The Kingston Trio were as 'folky' as they'd ever heard.

Without perspective, the issue can't even be discussed.

Do you have CDs or anything one might hear?


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 01:15 AM

well.. my chosen name here.. kind of gives my position away..

until the age of 13 or 14 i grew up equating folk
with sunday school and church music..
and a very clean cut uncle who'd wear a suit and tie to family xmas parties
and insist on halting all festive fun while he strummed a guitar
and sang 'there was an old lady who swallowed a fly'
and inflicted similar cronic boy scout favourites..
c'mon it was the swinging 60's..
even i as early as 5 years old knew i prefered the beatles
and freddie and the dreamers
[hmmm.. now which was the better band..??]..
and that folk music was boring and crap.

around 1972 ..at the same time as i was buying alice cooper and david bowie lps..
i discovered folk rock courtesy of top of the pops,radio 1, and the old grey whistle test..

this somehow then lead me to exploring the local library for
'trad' folk records; and live town hall concerts from the likes of brenda wooton..
and getting an acoustic guitar for xmas,
and lots of 'encouragement' from my xmas partypooper folkie uncle..

then when i was 17 punk rock exploded !!!
and i got my first electric guitar with humbuckers and a 120 watt amp..
and played in a band that even shocked and appalled college kids
my own age.

but i still listened regularly to pentangle and jack the lad
[errr.. and donovan..]etc.. and borrowing 'topic' lps from the library;
and had a girlfriend who shared my interest in nights out to candlelit wine bars,
entertained by a solitary singer guitarist in a dark corner..
and local folk clubs.

I dont remember much detail from that period in my life,
but i do know i never had the courage to get up and play or sing
in front of the folkies at the clubs..
even though i had no problem at all with being loud and
outrageous on stage with my teenage band..

i honestly have no memory of why, or what trauma if any,
has caused my amnesia..
maybe there was something really daunting and intimidating about
those old folk clubbers..????

but i stopped going to folk clubs, and have rarely been near one since the very early 80's..


so many thanks for this thread..

i'm a recent new member of mudcat..
and debates like this one are a positive reminder
of why i was glad to have stumbled across this board
during a random links search for info about a song..
and why i decided to join and look in now 2 or 3 times everyday.
Mudcat is just what i need while i evaluate my own commitment and approach to 'folk'.
its and ongoing process of 'work in progress'..

i'm staring to get an idea of mudcat culture & personalities
and key issues of concern..

and find this a very educative and stimulating place to visit..

hope i've not drifted too far off subject..
but me purist..???
i've got a head swimming with ideas for 'older time' songs i connect with off cds,
and how i feel i need to interpret them for my own pleasure
and creative fulfillment;
with ANY instruments & sonic tools i have at hand in my home computer 'studio'..
at the moment with no idea or concern at all
if any one else will ever hear the results.

theres a couple of local pubs i can go to for 'acoustic'
singer sonwriter & blues sessions
.. but i dont get much fun or enjoyment from that to justify
the expense and effort of going too regularly..
if i could drive and did'nt have to rely on inadequate overpriced public transport,
i'd rather travel further to find more 'authentic' singers and instrumentalists..
..errr.. so maybe i am a purist..????

its certainly not easy being agnostic...


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 04:55 AM

What a great look at the dynamics that created so many, if not all, of us that hang and converse here. I'm here too much probably, but having too much time on my hands these days gives me the excuse I need to show up here so often. Thanks to all for making it such a satisfying place to be.

Art


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 06:01 AM

Thank you for that, Bill, that's the word which has been conspicuously absent, Perspective, which changes, of course, depending upon the point from which it is viewed.

My first ten years were spent singing almost exclusively traditional material, so I do know the difference. Then I wrote a comic song, which was regularly taken to be trad, and I had to own up to authorship each time. From that point I continued to write, not, I hasten to add, ersatz mining songs, but songs about what happened in my own life, and to the people around me. I'm afraid that my reaction to stupidity in beaurocrats, and officialdom, is to take the piss, rather than complain, or get angry, hence the mainly comedic nature of my work.

I do indeed have a CD, which, for copyright reasons has only my own songs, plus two composed by personal friends, who have given their permission. There may shortly be another CD of live performance.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: John P
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 08:06 AM

Hmm . . . wouldn't it be interesting if we could illustrate our comments by uploading an mp3 or two to a website somewhere? It would give us the perspective, allow us to talk about real songs instead of theoretical situations. Does anyone have the technical expertise and time to set something like that up?

Welcome to Mudcat and to this discussion, punkfolkrocker. I liked your story about how you came to traditional music. I think there's been whole threads in the past about how people came to the music they play. Maybe we need another.

John P


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 08:58 AM

Easy being an agnostic?

Well.......I don't know really.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Amos
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 09:32 AM

The litmus case in my mind on this issue is the ballad of Darcy Farrell, which was written in the 1970's, but had enough of the phrasing, language and melodic traits typical of a 19th century porch ballad that it fooled me until I looked it up. Now, of course, it seems "obvious" but I cannot say why that it is a modern song. In the final analysis, though, the critical traits for me are a certain non-commercial genuineness, born out of human experience. Certain of John Denver's songs seem to meet the test, and "City of New Orleans" does as well, seeming just as germane and natural as "Good Morning, Mister Railroad Man" from a hundred years earlier.

Maybe the real test of a folk song is whether it is human enough to induce time-travel!! If I recall correctly, "Days of '49" was not written by a Forty-niner, but was a commercial entertainment creation in the days before radio, written for beer hall performance. But it evokes the time it sings about without flaw.


A


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Jim Tailor
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 09:36 AM

Farrow


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Big Mick
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 11:56 AM

To answer the original question ..... nothing.

Mick


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Bill D
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 12:35 PM

John P...about the MP3 idea...sure, it's not really hard to put a file on a web site. My own ISP gives me room to post stuff...20 megs, I think, and a couple of years ago, I actually did a (bad) recording of me singing a song so someone could get the tune.

But...just for comparison and scholarship, it wouldn't be hard to post all or parts of various songs to illustrate points. If you have to go from an LP to a tape to a .wav to an MP3, it might be awkward for some, but it's not always that complicated, as often one can just find examples already on the WWW.

I saw, for example, someone who had a collection of 120 versions of "Amazing Grace"...(too much time on their hands?)...and right now, somone is posting many, many versions of old Child ballads...(probably some are illegal, but everyone has to come to personal terms with THAT situation)..and there are sites like Honking Duck and Rose's Country Music Archive....etc., that ARE legal.

so...I'd be willing to offer ideas on the technical side of the process if it seems like a good idea...


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 02:01 PM

Please tell us where someone is posting many many versions of Child's ballads


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 02:27 PM

You're right Big Mick, the answer is "nothing", but wouldn't it have been boring if we had all said just that.

Ho Hum!

Don T.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 03:36 PM

Once more, the original question was not the thread title it was Can any of you AGB's out there tell me why I'm wrong
For one thing, you're wrong because the rest of us are not AGB's and don't appreciate the put down.

I go to folk clubs to hear folk music, but ancient English song is only one part of that. Last night I went to see Norma Waterson and Martin Carthy. I would not question their credentials as folk artists or their place at my local folk club but they finished with "Aint No Sweet Man Worth The Salt of my Tears""Black Muddy River" from Norma's 1996 album. There was no clash with the traditional English songs they had done most of the evening and I did not hear any one who went to th Folk Club express any disappontment.

Toadfrogs dismissal of people writing about things they have not experienced is precious. One of the things that folk music has done over the years is told the stories which might otherwise have faded from memory completely. When Eric Bogle writes about Gallpopli it helps keep in the mind of new generations the horrors of that time. He may not have been there but "the band played waltzing matilda" is a good folk song and to suggest that singing a song written 200 years ago is real but writing about something you have read about, heard about and looked into is phoney is just laughable. Again, last night the support act, the excellent John Richards, sang a song which told of the Public Hanging of a local man and I was glad for the history lesson. Few of the traditional songs about death were written by anyone who had experienced it for themselves.

BillD suggests that only everyone else should define themselves further because his little corner of the garden is the only one which is truly folk Might it not be easier to accept what the range of music which the world understands as folk and, if he wants to, JohnC bill himself as "pure English Traditional music." and get together with those who seek purity. Meanwhile the rest of us can go to our folk clubs and get on with keeping alive folk music old and new.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 04:31 PM

Sorry Hadnt realised no cookie.
The guest above at Waterson and Carthy was me
love Robbie


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 04:41 PM

What is wrong with being a purist? Absolutely nothing at all. However it's a shame that the 'Purist's' mind is closed to the excellent material that's been written over the past 40 years or so. Must be a miserable existence in those blinkers.

Still, whatever floats yer boat mate.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Bill D
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 04:46 PM

The ballads are being posted in newsgroups...you can look at the lists here , but you have to use whatever you might be signed up for to actually listen to any of them... (My server keeps files like this for 30-40 days, whereas my former server kept them for maybe 3 days, so it all depends on where you are and what you pay for)


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Goose Gander
Date: 30 Jan 05 - 05:38 PM

You have 'folk clubs' in the UK? We don't have them in Southern California, unless you count coffee houses where anyone with an acoustic guitar can mimic Lenny Kravitz or Jewel. Sure, there are Irish bars that sometimes have music, but it's all "Whiskey in the Jar", etc. (not that there's anything wrong with that). At this point I'd welcome anything, purist or impurist.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: EagleWing
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 04:43 PM

Leadfingers said "It seems to me that far too many people who qualify for the 'purist' label in Folk simply havent opened their ears and their minds to enough good music !!"

Just a reminder - the thread was originally not about purists criticising other people's music but about the AGB criticising purists and using that word as a perjorative term.

I refer to another thread (about starting a folk club) where Lynne was warned to avoid "traditionalist" - it's the same thing. People always accuse traddies or "purists" of being narrow while displaying their own narrow views.

I sing mainly traditional and traditional style songs. I have been called a traddie in the perjorative sense. Usually by people who stick to their own particular style and rarely actually listen to traditional style singers. In the words of a traddie type song "who's the fool now?"

Frank L.


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: nager
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 05:30 PM

pejorative I think is the correct spelling.
But what do I know, I am not a purist....


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 06:21 PM

Thank you for the link.

As luck would have it, my sound has just gone down and I fear I feel another format C looming....


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Subject: RE: What is wrong with being a purist?
From: Amos
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 06:26 PM

pejorative

 


SYLLABICATION:
pe·jor·a·tive

PRONUNCIATION:
  p-jôr-tv, -jr-, pj-rtv, pj-

ADJECTIVE:
1. Tending to make or become worse. 2. Disparaging; belittling.

NOUN:
A disparaging or belittling word or expression.

OTHER FORMS:
pe·jora·tive·ly —ADVERB


 


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