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Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions

Richard Bridge 14 May 06 - 05:57 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 May 06 - 06:20 PM
BuckMulligan 14 May 06 - 10:03 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 14 May 06 - 10:21 PM
GUEST,mg 14 May 06 - 10:25 PM
dulcimer42 14 May 06 - 10:34 PM
Azizi 14 May 06 - 11:14 PM
Kaleea 14 May 06 - 11:22 PM
Azizi 14 May 06 - 11:29 PM
Azizi 14 May 06 - 11:32 PM
Cluin 15 May 06 - 09:57 AM
Richard Bridge 15 May 06 - 10:20 AM
BuckMulligan 15 May 06 - 10:38 AM
Tinker 15 May 06 - 10:40 AM
GUEST,greg stephens 15 May 06 - 11:48 AM
GUEST,Russ 15 May 06 - 11:59 AM
Ernest 15 May 06 - 12:23 PM
greg stephens 15 May 06 - 12:38 PM
Azizi 15 May 06 - 01:00 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 15 May 06 - 01:02 PM
BuckMulligan 15 May 06 - 01:12 PM
Sue the Borderer 15 May 06 - 01:40 PM
Azizi 15 May 06 - 01:48 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 May 06 - 02:05 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 May 06 - 02:14 PM
M.Ted 15 May 06 - 02:50 PM
greg stephens 15 May 06 - 03:03 PM
Richard Bridge 15 May 06 - 03:15 PM
MMario 15 May 06 - 03:19 PM
BuckMulligan 15 May 06 - 03:28 PM
TheBigPinkLad 15 May 06 - 04:22 PM
GUEST,mg 15 May 06 - 05:06 PM
Hawker 15 May 06 - 06:01 PM
McGrath of Harlow 15 May 06 - 07:50 PM
GUEST,Rev 15 May 06 - 08:20 PM
Richard Bridge 16 May 06 - 03:06 AM
greg stephens 16 May 06 - 05:18 AM
The Fooles Troupe 16 May 06 - 05:38 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 16 May 06 - 08:08 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 May 06 - 02:21 PM
greg stephens 16 May 06 - 02:39 PM
jacqui.c 16 May 06 - 03:05 PM
GUEST 16 May 06 - 05:34 PM
Richard Bridge 16 May 06 - 06:47 PM
greg stephens 16 May 06 - 06:55 PM
GUEST,mg 16 May 06 - 07:39 PM
The Fooles Troupe 16 May 06 - 07:50 PM
The Fooles Troupe 16 May 06 - 08:04 PM
McGrath of Harlow 16 May 06 - 08:06 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 May 06 - 10:45 PM
Richard Bridge 17 May 06 - 10:59 AM
BuckMulligan 17 May 06 - 11:21 AM
Richard Bridge 17 May 06 - 11:48 AM
MMario 17 May 06 - 11:54 AM
greg stephens 17 May 06 - 12:01 PM
BuckMulligan 17 May 06 - 12:24 PM
M.Ted 17 May 06 - 12:33 PM
BuckMulligan 17 May 06 - 12:47 PM
melodeonboy 17 May 06 - 01:36 PM
Richard Bridge 17 May 06 - 04:55 PM
Richard Bridge 17 May 06 - 05:00 PM
McGrath of Harlow 17 May 06 - 06:52 PM
BuckMulligan 17 May 06 - 07:30 PM
GUEST,MikeofNorthumbria (off base) 17 May 06 - 08:16 PM
Azizi 17 May 06 - 09:48 PM
M.Ted 18 May 06 - 12:16 AM
Richard Bridge 18 May 06 - 03:14 AM
greg stephens 18 May 06 - 04:22 AM
The Fooles Troupe 18 May 06 - 04:46 AM
Grab 18 May 06 - 08:26 AM
Richard Bridge 18 May 06 - 08:48 AM
jacqui.c 18 May 06 - 08:58 AM
Ernest 18 May 06 - 09:40 AM
Grab 18 May 06 - 11:52 AM
GUEST 18 May 06 - 12:44 PM
M.Ted 18 May 06 - 01:38 PM
BuckMulligan 18 May 06 - 01:44 PM
CarolC 18 May 06 - 02:46 PM
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GUEST,Russ 18 May 06 - 03:03 PM
M.Ted 18 May 06 - 03:24 PM
BuckMulligan 18 May 06 - 03:30 PM
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Brían 18 May 06 - 03:55 PM
M.Ted 18 May 06 - 04:35 PM
BuckMulligan 18 May 06 - 04:48 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 May 06 - 04:57 PM
Santa 18 May 06 - 05:16 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 18 May 06 - 05:23 PM
Brían 18 May 06 - 05:29 PM
Richard Bridge 18 May 06 - 05:30 PM
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McGrath of Harlow 18 May 06 - 05:43 PM
BuckMulligan 18 May 06 - 06:31 PM
greg stephens 18 May 06 - 06:57 PM
M.Ted 18 May 06 - 08:06 PM
GUEST,MikeofNorthumbria (off base) 18 May 06 - 08:21 PM
greg stephens 18 May 06 - 08:34 PM
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The Fooles Troupe 18 May 06 - 11:14 PM
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Joe Offer 19 May 06 - 01:17 AM
GUEST,Brendy 19 May 06 - 02:11 AM
GUEST,Brendy 19 May 06 - 02:26 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 19 May 06 - 05:31 AM
greg stephens 19 May 06 - 06:00 AM
BuckMulligan 19 May 06 - 06:11 AM
The Fooles Troupe 19 May 06 - 07:27 AM
Santa 19 May 06 - 07:51 AM
GUEST,Jim 19 May 06 - 08:03 AM
greg stephens 19 May 06 - 08:12 AM
BuckMulligan 19 May 06 - 08:37 AM
Snuffy 19 May 06 - 09:00 AM
GUEST 19 May 06 - 10:34 AM
greg stephens 19 May 06 - 11:22 AM
GUEST,Jim 19 May 06 - 11:42 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 May 06 - 01:15 PM
greg stephens 19 May 06 - 01:41 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 May 06 - 01:49 PM
Ernest 19 May 06 - 02:00 PM
greg stephens 19 May 06 - 02:35 PM
greg stephens 19 May 06 - 02:38 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 May 06 - 02:44 PM
CarolC 19 May 06 - 03:10 PM
Santa 19 May 06 - 03:46 PM
CarolC 19 May 06 - 03:59 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 19 May 06 - 04:33 PM
Brendy 19 May 06 - 05:22 PM
GUEST,Jim 20 May 06 - 01:42 PM
jacqui.c 20 May 06 - 02:00 PM
Goose Gander 20 May 06 - 02:27 PM
GUEST,Jim 20 May 06 - 02:37 PM
Goose Gander 20 May 06 - 03:31 PM
Ernest 21 May 06 - 05:05 AM
GUEST,thurg 21 May 06 - 11:25 AM
autolycus 21 May 06 - 12:15 PM
greg stephens 21 May 06 - 01:36 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 21 May 06 - 01:36 PM
Goose Gander 21 May 06 - 02:07 PM
Tootler 21 May 06 - 06:57 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 21 May 06 - 07:11 PM
Richard Bridge 21 May 06 - 07:56 PM
GUEST,Brendy 21 May 06 - 08:53 PM
The Fooles Troupe 21 May 06 - 09:10 PM
Goose Gander 21 May 06 - 11:44 PM
GUEST,Brendy 22 May 06 - 01:38 AM
GUEST,Jim 22 May 06 - 03:30 AM
greg stephens 22 May 06 - 04:59 AM
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GUEST,Jim 22 May 06 - 12:33 PM
GUEST,Russ 22 May 06 - 12:48 PM
Leadfingers 22 May 06 - 01:31 PM
greg stephens 22 May 06 - 02:43 PM
Scoville 22 May 06 - 03:42 PM
The Fooles Troupe 22 May 06 - 06:39 PM
greg stephens 22 May 06 - 06:53 PM
Goose Gander 22 May 06 - 07:18 PM
The Fooles Troupe 22 May 06 - 07:23 PM
greg stephens 22 May 06 - 07:33 PM
The Fooles Troupe 22 May 06 - 07:40 PM
greg stephens 22 May 06 - 07:53 PM
Richard Bridge 22 May 06 - 08:18 PM
Goose Gander 22 May 06 - 08:32 PM
Amos 22 May 06 - 10:27 PM
greg stephens 23 May 06 - 06:54 AM
GUEST,Brendy 23 May 06 - 11:44 AM
autolycus 23 May 06 - 03:17 PM
greg stephens 23 May 06 - 04:14 PM
autolycus 24 May 06 - 03:02 AM
GUEST 24 May 06 - 04:03 AM
Richard Bridge 24 May 06 - 10:07 AM
Goose Gander 24 May 06 - 10:31 AM
GUEST,Autolycos 24 May 06 - 10:39 AM
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Richard Bridge 25 May 06 - 09:06 AM
autolycus 26 May 06 - 02:55 AM
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Big Ballad Singer 15 Jul 11 - 05:18 PM
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MorwenEdhelwen1 15 Jul 11 - 08:38 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 14 May 06 - 05:57 PM

There are currently two threads that I have recently seen on the Mudcat to which this is relevant.

It may also be relevant to some of Azizi's researches on the relevance of ethnicity.

Can anyone explain why quite a large number of non-Irish people seem determined to pass themselves off, musically, as Irish? Why do they not play and preserve their own traditions?

Why do so many white musicians determinedly play the blues and only the blues, when so few young persons to whose traditions the blues might be relevant play it?

Why do so many people want to be someone other than who they are?

Does Klezmer music suffer an invasion of players to whom it is an alien tradition? What about the non-Western music of the other areas around the Mediterranean?

Indeed what about performers of Western classical music from the far and middle east? Why do they abandon their own traditions and seek to play foreign music, and why do so few western musicians (the Beatles excepted) try to master the Indian instruments?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 May 06 - 06:20 PM

Most people in many parts of the world, including England, grow up cut off from any kind of traditional musical culture. If when they come up against a musical tradition they find it stimulating and appealing, the natural thing is to explore it further and get involved in it, including making music in mnany cases.

It is no more artificial for deculturated English people to get into Irish music, or blues, or other types of American music such as bluegrass, than for them to seek out ethnic English traditions which are equally alien to them.

Of course some people do do that, and a lot of great music has come out from it, and I'm very glad it happens. But it'd be a nonsense to have people saying "You are ethnic English - you shouldn't be singing the blues or playing slip-jigs, you should be Morris Dancing", or "You are Black - you shouldn't be singing Border Ballads, you should be playing a thumb piano."

Our genes don't determine what kind of music we should play.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 14 May 06 - 10:03 PM

I don't quite understand the question, so I'm probably misreading entirely, but it seems to me that 1) there's no such thing as a limitation on the "relevance" of music (or any other art) except for phony imposed limitations (usually by folks who feel that their young 'uns ought not to be messin' with other peoples' cultural artefacts) and 2) if people look outside their "own traditions" is can't help but be a good thing. But then again, I'm sure I don't really understand the question.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 14 May 06 - 10:21 PM

Play music you feel.

I am a white Danish-American who grew up in a 100% white city in the Midwest, leading a gospel quartet that sings primarily black gospel.
The two other members of my for the-moment-trio are black, grew up in the south, and although they grew up with the black gospel I didn't hear until I was an adult, they also grew up with country music, the Grand Ole Opry and bluegrass, and love it all. Our now departed fourth member of my once-quartet is Jamaican. According to this premise, I guess I should have stuck to playing polkas and Schotisches, My two friends who grew up in the south should refuse to sing any songs that I bring that are clearly white southern gospel, and my departed (but not deceased) member should only be playing reggae. But then, because I grew up in the north, I shouldn't really be singing Appalachian music. I didn't even know where the Appalachians was. Confusinger and confusinger.

Play music you feel.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 14 May 06 - 10:25 PM

Sing what you like but sing it in your own voice and with respect for where you got it from. Who knows, someone in Madagascar might like your cowboy songs or lullabies. Why shouldn't she feel welcome to sing them? mg


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: dulcimer42
Date: 14 May 06 - 10:34 PM

Jerry. It's that blend of southern black gospel, with the country/bluegrass feel, with that Jamaican touch that makes your music what it is. And I love it.    Of course I would though... being from Michigan myself, used to love attending "All Night Gospel Sings", and when my family would travel to Florida to visit Grandma, I couldn't wait till we'd hit the southern states where I could hear that Bluegrass Sound, which for some reason I took a liking to (much to the disdain of my younger siblings, as I sat in the front seat and claimed control of the radio dial) Somewhere along the line, I discovered the Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer, which I include with my hammered dulcimr playing, celtic harp...etc. Maybe some of this explains why I love your music.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Azizi
Date: 14 May 06 - 11:14 PM

Richard Bridge, you mentioned that I was interested in the relevance of ethnicity.

Well, yes and no. With regard to race/ethnicity-I believe that race and ethnicity {as used for Latinos and maybe other populations] are social [and perhaps still in some places legal] constructs that probably have little or no biological meaning or relevancy. I very much hope for a time when race/ethnicity has no positive or negative valuation, though as categories they still may be recognized {in the same way as folks who can see recognize different colors of flowers}.

With regard to the collection of folk music, I believe that whenever possible collectors of folk music should collect as much demographical information as they can [gender, age, location, meaning of topical or slang terms, name of informants {at least first names, description of performance...and the informants' race/ethnicity.

Could a person's race/ethnicity be a factor in the version of the song collected, and the manner by which the song is performed, and the meaning of the song's words or references? Perhaps.

That is why I advocate that folklorists should document their informants' race/ethnicity.

However, Richard, your question about people documenting traditions that are not part of their culture, is a whole nother subject.

First off, we are in this world together. I personally don't like the term "alien". When I hear it I think of people from out of space. But even then, I think of how the American television series "Star Trek" promoted interaction as equals by persons without regard to which planet they came from...

I absolutely believe that individuals should be introduced to and learn about and perform-if they desire-whatever music from whatever culture they wish.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Kaleea
Date: 14 May 06 - 11:22 PM

I know many people born & raised in the "midwest" USA who have little or no knowledge of the heritage/traditions/arts of their ancestors. This seems to be common with folks whose people came to the USA 200-300 years ago & then ambled across the plains mixing it up as they went along. It can be difficult to know one's ancestry, much less the music of those ancestors.
Let's see, should I be performing Choctaw Music, or Cherokee Music, or Chickasaw Music, or Irish Music, or Welsh Music, or Scottish Music, or English Music? But wait, my Mother said she had an aunt who came from Switzerland, so maybe I should only be interested in Swiss traditional Music. Oh, yes, and Daddy said his mother had some French, so maybe I should be really into only French folk songs--but then anyone who knows the beautiful French language does NOT want to hear me disembowel a French vowel. OH! I almost forgot!! My (first) cousin had a DNA test done & the results showed that she has African DNA--as do I, probably, as research has shown that most people from the "midwest" USA do, so maybe it's in my genes that I love Jazz & Blues & Ray Charles as much as I do . . .
Or maybe people are tapping into their love of Music from another place & time in a past life?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Azizi
Date: 14 May 06 - 11:29 PM

As to why a number of Black Americans are 'in to' blues or-for that matter-jazz, I'm sure there are many reasons that could be given for this.

Among those reasons, I would suggest that we {African Americans} have a strong preference for social music to be performed with couple's or group dance {as in line dances like the "Electric Slide" . I think this ties into the importance of participatory/community nature of art in African cultures. That participatory nature of the creative experience includes the audience calling out encouragement or singing along with songs..
but I don't want to digress...

In my opinion, when dance became separated from the performance of the blues and the performance of jazz-when these two musical genres became performance and listerner only art, that spelled the demise of blues and jazz as music to be appreciated by and supported {through record purchases/concerts etc]for the masses of African Americans.

Perhaps other populations are more enthusiastic about blues and jazz because those populations don't traditional have as integral a tie between dance and music as African Americans and other people of African descent.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Azizi
Date: 14 May 06 - 11:32 PM

Correction:

In my first post to this thread I meant to write:

However, Richard, your question about people performing [music from]traditions that are not part of their culture, is a whole nother subject".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Cluin
Date: 15 May 06 - 09:57 AM

What Jerry R. said.

You play from your soul, not your DNA.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 May 06 - 10:20 AM

I was quite into the blues when I was at university in the 60s but later came to regard myself as a cuckoo in the nest, who could never really relate properly to the experiences depicted in traditional blues. Surely that is still so.

If the views advanced in this thread are true then we have no traditions save for those which we adopt. Surely that cannot be so.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 15 May 06 - 10:38 AM

You're talking entirely about content then, rather than musical form. I'd say that the content - if it's really "relevant" to anything, is relevant to larger things than those "here and now" things that pertaoin only to a particular culture. For that matter, a paarticular piece of a given culture. There are many blacks today who could not - according to your lights, as I read you - sincerely relate to "traditional" blues. Partly because many of them simply don't wake up in the mornin' to believe they'll dust their broom any more. IOW, what you seem to be saying is that educated, middle class WHITE folk (maybe you're saying ANY white folk, I dunno) can't "connect" to "traditional" blues because we don't pick cotton. True enough. Equally true of lotsa black folks.

How do we acquire "traditions" if we don't "adopt" them? And who's to say we can't "unadopt" some that don't please us? I'm afraid I'm still a little foggy as to the real thrust of this thread. The answer to "how does a person pick up traditions other than those of the cultural milieu in which one was raised?" is simply "one grows up and gets educated and sees & hears the world and realizes that one's little corner of childhood was rather small and limited." No? The answer to "Why does one leave the tradition to which one was yatta yattaa" is exactly the same answer as the other one.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Tinker
Date: 15 May 06 - 10:40 AM

Traditions are perhapas more fleeting in a world where information moves at overload speed and 'common tradition is easily morphed into pop culture in an ever changing way.

Like Kaleea I've got many cultures to try and pick and choose from in my genetic background, but there was no musical tradition handed down to me except perhaps that of the Catholic Church. I can attempt to give more to my children, but I cannot reforge the past to a tradition that doesn't exist.


tinker


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 15 May 06 - 11:48 AM

If McGrath thinks slip(9/8)jigs are not ethnically English, he needs to get out more. The English tradition is/was full of these tunes, as is/was theIrish. The rhythm does slowly seem to be going out of fshion compaered to ordinary jigs and reels, but that's another story.
    Azizi says in this thread that white people are welcome to sing black folk music, but I dont seem to recall her taking that line in the "Pick a Bale of Cotton" and "Black Betty" Leadbelly controversy. But maybe I misremember.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 15 May 06 - 11:59 AM

With all due respect, you're asking the wrong question.

I read the question you are asking as a rhetorical one.

You seem to me to be implicitly criticizing people for doing something that you once did but now eschew. Apparently you underwent a conversion experience.

If you want information which is relevant to you, ask yourself the question "Why do I care?"

For example, If you are Irish, a disdain for "Irish music carpet baggers" makes perfectly good sense. I'm not Irish but I've been there myself and done that about "my" musical traditions. But if you're not Irish, why do you care?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Ernest
Date: 15 May 06 - 12:23 PM

People play certain kinds of music because they like it or - if they make a living playing music - they can make a living playing it. Music has always been a business as well as a pastime, and there always have been musicians taking up foreign styles or instruments.

In our modern world many people would see a lot of it more as a style than a tradition - this especially applies to styles of music that have developed over the time and are quite different from their beginnings - like modern electric blues compared to acoustic delta blues.

Rock and Pop music has developed out of various musical influences, such as blues, various folk etc. - what about this? Should this "mongrel"-music be the only music that everyone is allowed to play?
And are we are opening the next step now after the endless discussiona about what is accepted as "traditional"? ;0)
What is better: a pue-blooded musician playing a free interpretation of a piece of music or someone with an entirely different background who plays it so the purists are satisfied? This discussion could go boldly where no discussions have been before... (where`s Shatner, by the way?)

And Greg: don`t generalize, "Pick a bale of cotton" or "Black Betty" are just 2 songs - not a whole genre. If she feels that it is not p.c. to sing those songs she is entitled to her opinion, you don`t have to share it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 15 May 06 - 12:38 PM

Ernest: of course she is entitled to her opinions, as we all are. And we also entitled to change them. And we are all entitled to pint ourt if other people change theirs. But that is a very minor point, in a very interesting discussion.
    I instinctively react against the use of the word "alien", but I dont go as far as the McGrath line, which indeed would seem to lead to the conclusion that there is no such thing as traditional music(or traditional anything). He seems to think that we can all exercise free will, and play what we like. Well, partially. I've played blues, and jazz, and Irish tunes, and cajun tunes, and Caribbean tunes too, and will continue to do so.
But having said that, when I play my old Cumbrian tunes, from where my ancestors lived, and think about my grandparents when I'm doing it I feel there is another dimension going on there. So, I'll reserve the right to sing Leadbelly songs, whether Richard Bridge wants me to or not. But I'll also feel there is something specially "mine" about tunes from where I'm from.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Azizi
Date: 15 May 06 - 01:00 PM

Greg. What Ernest said about generalizing.

May I respectfully suggest that you and others who may be interested in my comments and others' comments on the subject of "Pick A Bale of Cotton" visit that thread and read {& possibly join in that discussion {though the specific thread name escapes me and I'm supposed to be doing work so I can't look it up now].

However, I'll summarize my comments to say that-in my opinion- whoever sings "Pick A Bale Of Cotton" whether they be Black, White, or Green should be aware of the fact that many Black Americans believe that that uptempo song minimizes the degradation and horror of chattel slavery which has come to be symbolized by picking cotton. I believe this to be the case regardless of the fact that non-Black folks picked cotton, and regardless of that song's origin, and regardless of whether Leadbelly, and other Black artists sang or sing it.

With regard to the song "Black Betty" I believe you are misremembering my comments. I don't recall indicating that I have any concerns about that song. To the contrary- I like that song.
I remember listing "Black Betty" in a thread that I started about skin color references. And I also remember reading [and probably joining in] what I considered to be an interesting discussion about the meaning of "Black Betty". For instance some posters considered "Black Betty" to be a coded referent for a whip. I always thought it was a referent for a woman of dark skin.

Maybe it means both of these or something else.

Best wishes,

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 15 May 06 - 01:02 PM

What Kaleea and Jerry said.

Me, I only play pure English-Irish-Scottish-German-New England-Michigan-Puritan-Episcopalian-Mikmaq-UniQuak-Buddhi-palian music, true to my roots!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 15 May 06 - 01:12 PM

Azizi's post raises a question in my mind. If "many Black Americans believe" such-and-such a thing, that's fine, and we should, if possible be aware of it.

How many? And what obligation does that belief devolve to anyone else? The fact that "many Black Americans believe" indicates to me that "some Black Americans" don't "believe."

I grew up hearing & singing "Pick a bale of cotton" as a bragging song, in the same vein as "I was born about 10000 years ago" and "The GReat Historical Bum" etc. But if "many" BAs now think I shouldn't sing it, and I acquiesce, what am I implying to "some" who either don't believe it, or disagree strongly, and maybe think along the same lines as I do? What would I be saying to them? What is it saying to ME if I have to decide not to sing a particular song because "many" people of one or another particular background "believe" that it means a certain thing or other and might be offended by that?

Not trying to be querelous, but it is an interesting ethical quandary.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Sue the Borderer
Date: 15 May 06 - 01:40 PM

Interesting how in this thread there was one comment which really resonated for me and which no-one else picked up on.
Guest mg, whoever you are, I'd like to repeat what you wrote (14May 10.25pm)
"Sing what you like, but sing it in your own voice and with respect for where you got it from."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Azizi
Date: 15 May 06 - 01:48 PM

'The fact that "many Black Americans believe" indicates to me that "some Black Americans" don't "believe." -true- and since I've done no surveys and am not aware of any surveys on this subject,
I should have written "some Black people believe..."

****

"Sing what you like, but sing it in your own voice and with respect for where you got it from." sometimes respecting where you got a song from means being mindful of where & when you sing it.

[And now I really must go back to work; perhaps I'll rejoin this discussion later]


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 May 06 - 02:05 PM

The comment by Richard Bridge- "Never really relate to the experiences depicted in traditional blues.."

The days when the 'traditional blues' (or any older musical form) reflected the people who composed and lived them are gone. Since these traditions cannot be inherited and die with those who lived them, all of us are simply enjoying something we have discovered that we like- and perhaps learning the history behind the musical form has engrossed us.

"Pick a Bale of Cotton" brings memories, both good and bad, to old folks who were raised on cotton farms and did their share of picking, but for most of us, it is just an 'upbeat' song. Many of the folks who picked are white, and I am sure that they resent attempts to hijack the party song to apply only to chattel Blacks. It also should be resented by the many Black cotton farmers who own or have owned their own cotton fields. "The old cotton fields back home," as another song has it. The complaints seem to come from urban population centers and show ignorance of rural and small town work traditions and sensibilities.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 May 06 - 02:14 PM

I'm not downplaying the importance of tradition. Just saying that how we settle on the music we play and feel at home with isn't necessarily determined by our ancestry.

Where people choose to get into the music of the traditions their ancestors used to share, and work to revive and strengthen those tarditions, that is great. But it is a choice. It is equally open to the charge of artificiality as it would be if they concentrated on music from elsewhere and eslewhen. The fact that something can be called artificial does not mean that it is unnatural, or unwholesome.

Thedre's a parallel with music and literature - there are those who get indignant at people who persist in preferring the music or the literature of another time, as if it was somehow disloyal.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: M.Ted
Date: 15 May 06 - 02:50 PM

Most people neither know nor care where a particular sort of music comes from, if they like it, it belongs to them--That's what keeps music going--

If we require that music remain at the source, it'd only be heard in the living room of the person who wrote it--


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 15 May 06 - 03:03 PM

There is a tension in this subject that surely exists in all cultures and in all inddividuals. There is a need to embrace "the other" to progress and develop, yet there is also a tendency to reject and flee from "the other", and cling to what we know. Sometimes we swing to one extreme, rear and rejection of "aliens". next we are embracing the new with relish, chucking away vast amounts of value in the process. These forces need tension to be in some sort of healthy equilibrium. I am acutely aware of this sort of cultural tension in alot of my working life, as I work with recording music from groups of people trying in various ways to asssimilate(ir coexist) in a culture not of their own. Sometimes it's very alarming.
    Richard Bridge and McGrath from karlow seem to exemlify the two ends of this pendulum swing very accurately, thugh I expect on another day and another topic they may swing back inwards towards each other.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 May 06 - 03:15 PM

Yes, I expect there are swings. But it bothers me when people (having heard my speaking voice which plainly indicates a certain parentage and upbringing) ask me to sing Irish rebel songs in which those like my parents and grandparents were clearly villians deserving to be murdered. How can I speak for the rapparee?


Do we not carry within us the growth from our roots? If we do not then huge amounts of african-american retrospective scrutiny is misconceived. Why should the belief that we carry and are affected by our "race memories" not apply equally to others?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: MMario
Date: 15 May 06 - 03:19 PM

given television, radio, CD's, mp3 players, etc cab we really say that any given genre isn't "part of one's culture"? If you grow up hearing it, certainly it would seem part of your personal culture even if not part of your general culture.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 15 May 06 - 03:28 PM

With all due respect Richard, you may be confusing yourself with the "speaker" of the text of a song. If I did that I would never be able to sing "Coal Tattoo" or "Me and my Uncle." Not to mention "Danny Boy" and "They're Removing Grandpa's Grave to Build a Sewer."

They're songs, not the DNA of your soul. "Authenticity" is a dubious requirement.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 15 May 06 - 04:22 PM

I think every type of music has a mongrel heritage and nothing 'belongs' to any one ethnic group.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 15 May 06 - 05:06 PM

I do think he has a point...certainly never sing songs that insult your ancestors... or show your respect for them if you still like the song by explaining to us the other side of the story....but plenty of them actually don't...mg


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Hawker
Date: 15 May 06 - 06:01 PM

maybe you are trying to wind us all up here, but my answers are, and I believe all answers will be different, as we are all individuals:
1) for me, I like irish Music so I play it, I also enjoy my own heritage which is a rich tapestry of a lot of things.... born in Africa, to a Yorkshire man, descended from a Scots writer by the name of Burns, and a Geordie Mum whose father was of Irish Descent, who fought at the Passchendale in WWI. I enjoy and partake in the customs, and history and songs surrounding my heritage.
2) I personally have never played the blues, but love to sing it! I am white, female and again dont see that it makes much difference, as long as it is played/sung and enjoyed. I do not ever pretend that I am ever anything other than what I am.
3) Repeat above, I do not want to be anyone other than who I am, I am proud of my uniqueness. In partaking of other ethnicities music and song, I do not feel that I have to pretend to be them.
4) Kletzmer music is wonderful! as to whether it has been invaded..........can you do that? Kletzmer music is Kletzmer music, whoever plays it, it doesnt mean it is no longer such!
5) I would guess that these classical musicians from the far and middle east do as you suggest because they either enjoy that kind of music or it is more profitable. As for Indian Instruments and western players, I don't know, but there are some amazing sounding instruments out there.
Enjoy Music of every sort wherever and whenever you can, with such a rich tapestry for us all to share, we should be grateful that music is shared and not kept secret and sacred to its source - should that be the case, the world would then I feel have been a poorer place.
Cheers, Lucy


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 May 06 - 07:50 PM

Actually I do find it sad when people in countries with neglected musical traditions which are extraordinarily interesting ignore these musical traditions and concentrate exclusively on Irish or American music. (For example the Netherlands.)

That's not because of worries about artificiality or inauthenticity though - it's because I want to know that these traditions are being maintained and developed, and that if I am in a foreign country I've a chance of finding a session playing the music of that country, rather than just the same stuff I might hear and play at home.

There have been plenty of occasions where a key element in helping preserve and continue a musical tradition has been the involvement of outsiders who have recognised and valued it, and in the process helped locals to see it as something to be treasured.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Rev
Date: 15 May 06 - 08:20 PM

I think that there are plenty of "Western" musicians who study the classical music of North India (which is what I assume is meant by "the Indian instruments), and many other "non-Western" traditions, especially in the many ethnomusicology programs and departments in universities all over the U.S. and Europe. Generally, ethnomusicologists believe that studying a music culture to which one is not native is an important way to learn about that culture. And of course learning about the culture, usually through some sort of "fieldwork" or "cultural immersion" is considered essential to acheiving an understanding of the music.
I think that the problems Richard Bridge brings up arise, not from simply learning or playing "alien" music, but from attempts to represent oneself as something that you are not. For example there are many people who present themselves as bearers of a tradition, like belly dancing or hula or even irish music, yet their knowledge of these traditions is superficial at best and insultingly cliched and stereotypical at worst. I think that Euro-Americans are still trying to sort through the karmic repercussions of blackface minstrelsy, coming to grips with the urge to mimic and claim ownership of that which is seen as exotic. Maybe the issue of power is the important variable here. When someone in a position of economic power or advantage claims ownership of the traditions of a culture that has less power, that's cultural hegemony (BAD). When someone from a position of economic disadvantage claims ownership of the music of the elite or the powerful, that is subversive reappropriation of cultural capital (GOOD).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 May 06 - 03:06 AM

Interesting, Rev


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 16 May 06 - 05:18 AM

I think it is relevant to this discussion to mention the following interesting fact: in the city where I live, there is ample public funding channelled into paing very good wages to perfectly well-meaning well brought up white middle-class people who go into schools to teach young people about African music. And why not, you may say? But consider also the fact that in the same city are real African musicians reduced to working night shifts in bakeries, shelfstacking in warehouses etc, minimum wage type jobs. Now,this seems to be a relevant sort of situation to take into account while discussing the ramifications of people playing music from other cultures.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 16 May 06 - 05:38 AM

"ample public funding channelled into paying very good wages to perfectly well-meaning well brought up white middle-class people who go into schools to teach young people about African music ... in the same city are real African musicians reduced to working ... minimum wage type jobs"

I seem to be unable to comment without making what doubtless some would call possible inflammatory bigoted racist non-PC remarks...

sigh!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 16 May 06 - 08:08 AM

There seems an unfortunate tendency to equate 1) singing songs from outside your personal tradition with 2) trying to be who you are not. The two have very little in common, IMO, except possibly in the work of a few unfortunates who can only imitate, being unable to develop a personal style.

I think you're wrong in assuming that performance style equals a wannabe crawling inside another race's or ethnicity's skin. As if it were impersonation. At worst, a sort of stagey parody that's a pathetic and insulting travesty, as with, say, blackface minstrelsy.

All that has nothing to do with how I approach Irish songs, which are very close to my heart as an Irish-Anglo-Welsh American.   I'm just multitraditional, that's all, with no particular claim to "authenticity" in any, but a vivid feeling for several that translates itself into music I love to make.

(By the way, you should hear England's David Jones pick and sing "Willie Moore" on the banjo Appalachian style. Very satisfying to me as a sharp critic of shallow imitators; he "gets" the style and works creatively in it. He might change your mind about the validity of cross-cultural music.)

But to go to the heart of the question, where the shoe really pinches, take blues. When I play blues I try to do justice to the style of the song as I heard and learned it. I think it would be insulting to take the song bodily out of the style it swims in! Dave Van Ronk was just one of many who argued strongly for sound and style being integral to a song, so that the song is neutered without it.

So though I don't necessarily "sing like," say, Blind Lemon Jefferson, I try to put into "Broke and Hungry" or "Match Box Blues" all the many things I've learned from his voice and style, in a way that I hope respects him, his tradition, and also myself.

I think about this a lot. In one respect, I take the view that he's no longer around to sing these blues himself; nobody else, or few others at most, sing his stuff. If his music was widespread and being done well by many others, I probably would choose something a little less commodified. As it is, I'm glad to be putting a rare sound back into the world in a form not dependent on a CD machine, amplifier and speakers.

Jefferson is a good example because a lot of Southern white pickers learned his stuff. He truly fostered a musical crossover. Papa Charlie Jackson was another who was very influential among whites. I could cite many. On the other hand Charley Patton was relatively hard to learn from. But "Stone Pony" is a song I couldn't do without.

I claim no particular virtue in my interpretation of their songs, and have sometimes been criticized for doing them at all. All I can say is, I love those songs as much as any in my "own" tradition, and they're part of my life.   I don't think anyone can or should ask more than that of a singer who's singing outside his personal tradition, whatever it may be.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 May 06 - 02:21 PM

Echoing Foolestroupe's sigh. There are a moderate number of Africans and 'African-Canadians' (mostly Caribbean) in my city of one million. Theoretically they might be able to teach a variety of African musical forms, or Caribbean (including Haitian), i. e. IF they have any interest in or knowledge of them.
Among those I know, two brothers from Ghana studying here are very familiar with British popular music but no interest in African music, and a woman (third generation Canadian) I worked with was trained in classical piano and knows little of black music. This is true of many here. DNA doesn't transmit musical heritage.

The Caribbean and Haitian immigrants, on the other hand, have active musical groups, but their knowledge is limited mostly to the blend of west African-native American-French-Spanish-English forms that have developed in their islands. Forms developed in the States (except the latest music that they download) don't interest them. Only someone among them trained in broad musical traditions would be able to teach a suitable survey of 'African' music (whatever Stevens means by that).

Oh yes, to teach in schools here, four years of university with training in teaching is the minimum requirement.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 16 May 06 - 02:39 PM

Q: I dont know where you are, but I am in England and artists regularly work in schools here. The regular teachers certainly do the four year course or whatever, but professional muscians, theatricals,visual artists etc do school projects as well. What I was drawing attention to was a disparity that can arise, when people from within a culture who are better qualified to share with children dont get the work; but people from outside the culture, who have made a more superficial(though totally sincere)effort to master a few tunes or djembe rhythms, do get the work, due to better connections or whatever.
    And this, I think, raises a very valid point when discussing the ways people can "opt in" to a culture because they feel a powerful attraction to it. Broadly speaking, I take the view that people are welcome to play whatever they like; but conversely, if you want someone to tell the kids about New Orleans jazz, get Louis Armstrong if possible, not Kenny Ball.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: jacqui.c
Date: 16 May 06 - 03:05 PM

I'm English but grew up without any real idea of traditional English folk music except what was taught us at school. As far as I am concerned my musical background was basically pop music from the late 50's onward.

I now will learn and sing any songs that appeal to me, whatever their provenance. I have no problem with singing 'Fields of Athenry', Flower of Scotland' or 'Parcel of Rogues' in spite of the fact that the 'oppressors' were English. There is much of English history that I would be opposed to if those things happened now and I am happy to state that.

I am now learning songs from my adopted country, America. I am learning more about the heritage and culture of the country from those songs as has been the case from learning songs of the British Isles. To me the important thing has to be that I am drawn to a particular song, wherever it might have come from.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST
Date: 16 May 06 - 05:34 PM

more importantly where can i get the word and music to "They're Removing Grandpa's Grave to Build a Sewer."

Sewermans my profession and i love songs about it.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 May 06 - 06:47 PM

So, Guest Bob, if I were (as I am) a lot of whisky to the bad, and suffering the whisky nastiness, I might say that the music is, for you, irrelevant to the tradition and vice versa. Is the musician nothing more than an entertainer? I do not subscribe to that. You mention personal traditions. Our own personal traditions - if you like our roots, to analogise the general situation to the AfroAmerican one - must be more relevant to us than those of others, and equally it must be that we are responsible to our own traditions more than we are to those of others.

One question that seems to remain (there are of course others) is: why do so many English Welsh or Scottish players and listeners seem to want to adopt the Irish or American forms rather than their own - why do they bow to those forms of cultural imperialism? Why not French rather than zydeco or cajun? Why is this such a directional traffic? Are there American performers adopting the English traditional muse, or the Spanish or Italian (or South American) one?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 16 May 06 - 06:55 PM

WEll I'm not sure where I fit into Richard Bridge's classifiication. The last two CDs I made were 100% English traditional music, and the three previous ones were virtually all traditional Louisiana tunes. I've also spent the last two years recording some very multi-cultural music, with musicians from all over Asia and Africa, and I have played on a few tracks myself as well as engineering. So where does this place me? I've occupied in the revival of NW English music for 40 years, but that hasn't inhibited me from fooling aeound a bit on the side as well, So, Richard, am I a baddie or a goodie?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 16 May 06 - 07:39 PM

we sing what we think are English pub type songs all the time...probably other types of songs as well. I can think of several people in the Pacific Northwest USA who almost seem to specialize in this type of music. mg


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 16 May 06 - 07:50 PM

"more importantly where can i get the word and music to "They're Removing Grandpa's Grave to Build a Sewer.""

Search for it - start here - then ry the wider web if you fail.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 16 May 06 - 08:04 PM

"sort of stagey parody that's a pathetic and insulting travesty, as with, say, blackface minstrelsy"

I see what Bob is saying, but let me mention that in the 1960s, when I first got to see the BBC TV "B&W Minstrel Show" repeated on Aussie TV, there was none of that I detected. In fact I regret the passing of the show - 'done in by malicious PCers' - :-) - because it was more like an endless Broadway Musical (or those 1930s Movie Musicals) - costumes, lights, and brilliant performers - dancers, singers, musicians, and comedians, presenting older English and American 'Music Hall', more or less. And because of the 'makeup', no one knew or cared what the ethnic grouping of the performers was - they either 'performed' or didn't cut it!

I never detected any of the sort of negativity that Bob hints MAY occur. And MANY white very talented singers made a good living 'playing blackface' for many years.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 16 May 06 - 08:06 PM

In fact there has always been an enormous amount of interchange between the various traditions within the British Isles, with songs cropping up in variants in the various nations and regions. After all, the version of the Wild Rover generally sung and regarded as quintessentially Irish actually hails from Norfolk.

The same goes for tunes and musical styles.

And that's also true between both sides of the Atlantic.

If you sing in your own voice, and give the song its head, it's going to reflect whatever tradition you bring to it, often including one from your own roots that you may not have been aware was there.
In fact there has always been a enormous amount of interchange between the various traditions within the British Isles, with songs cropping up in variants in the various nations and regions. After all, the version of the Wild Rover generally sung and regarded as quintessentially Irish actually hails from Norfolk.

The same goes for tunes and musical styles.

And that's also true between both sides of the Atlantic.

If you sing in your own voice, and give the song its head, it's going to reflect whatever tradition you bring to it, often including one from your own roots that you may not have been aware was there.
......................
Here you are They�re moving father's grave - don't just hunt for songs by titles, because they change and so do the other words. Try a few phrases that stick in the mind and you normally find the song quite quickly. (I tried with "they're shifting his remains" and it came up first time.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 May 06 - 10:45 PM

Moving Father's Grave- Two versions of this famous old song in the DT, and variants in thread 23812: Moving Father's Grave
English music hall, but sung also by Oscar Brand and other American performers (not quite alien). There must be an Australian recording.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 May 06 - 10:59 AM

Greg, to me it makes you a puzzle. How can both/all three types of music be equally relevant to you? That is very close to where I started - how can you be equally placed to know and interpret on the one hand the Louisiana tradition and on the other the English?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 17 May 06 - 11:21 AM

"relevant to you?" How does one determine what music is "relevant" to one? Again you seem to be committed to a notion that there's something inherent in a given musical form or tradition that makes it "relevant" (whatever that means) only to a particular ethnic group. Granted that any ethnic music is going to have a greater impact on members of the group whence it arises, but that hardly indicates any sort of exclusivity. Do you expect that only French Canadians will be moved by St Anne's Reel?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 May 06 - 11:48 AM

No, it's the other way round - I expect people to have an innate connection to their historical antecedents, what you might call "race memory" (an awkward phrase, today). I expect the English to be fonder of Waterloo than the French, and the Italians to love the Tiber and the legends of Romulus and Remus. I expect the Irish to feel the history of Ireland as one of the major European centres of culture (and free from snakes). People may alter themselves, but must always grow from their roots.

What is "Roots Music" unless it grows from roots?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: MMario
Date: 17 May 06 - 11:54 AM

Maybe it's "roots music" because it GIVES one roots?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 17 May 06 - 12:01 PM

Buck Mulligan: you seem to be implying that St Anne's Reel was written by a French Canadian. I sthere any evidence for that?
Richard Bridge: a fair question. I am a musical dilettante, a serious multi-ethnic folk music junkie. I have played professionally inthe areas of jazz, blues, Irish, English, old time American, bluegrass, cajun and zydeco. I've organised countless street/carnival bands, using a percussion mixture based on samba, Cuban, English-speaking Caribbean, traditional British, and bhangra.The brass and other melody instruments on top of that have played in a huge variety of styles, and also I have written a lot of original pieces. I have also written vast reams of ephemeral music for theatre shos over the tears. So basically I like learning, and attemting to assimilate, a lot of kinds of wetehnic music(which is what I love, and also the only way I know how to make a living). So I guess the Jack-of-all-trades approach puts me more in the McGrath half of this argument.
    But, on the other hand, the work I've done in reviving and nurturing traditional English music(especially that of the northwest) is something different, undertaken almost as a moral or sacred duty which I must admit I dont fully understand, and can't really rationalise. I do get huge pleasure(not to mention the sin of pride) when youngsters learn old tunes from me and then pass them on themselves. All that "folk" thing means a lot to me. And, sitting back and taking a cool look at how I've spent the last forty years, it is bleeding obvious that I have spent a lot more time on the music of the land of my fathers(and mothers) than could be strictly justified on purely musical(or professional) grounds. So I'm definitely in your "stick to your own culture" camp as well. Except, of course, I didnt learn English music from my dad, any more than I leant blues from him.
So I'm firmly in both the current categories, and will continue to be. Sitting on the fence has traditionally been the least comfortable option. But there you go.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 17 May 06 - 12:24 PM

greg, I haven't a clue who WROTE St Anne's Reel, but it's a very popular tune among Canuck fiddlers.

"Race memory" is a fascinating concept Richard. Pls elucidate, is this a metaphor, or an actual genetic phenomenon? While I would agree that people on the whole are more likely to feel affinity to cultural artefacts up with which they've grown, I would argue that in this day & age there's little likelihood that most of us in the "Developed" world anyway are likely to feel limited to that. Nor should we. I'd also suggest that one is under no constraint to necessarily continue that affinity post education & awakening to a wider world. I have a nagging suspicion that there's a "should" behind your comments, and I probably wouldn't be able to accept it, if it's there.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: M.Ted
Date: 17 May 06 - 12:33 PM

I kind of disagree with Richard--owing to the fact that I played in a "international" band for a long time, but also kind of agree with him, for the same reason.

Part of the reason I left off playing Russian, various sorts of Balkan, Scandinavian, and the odd Turkish or Arabic tune, was simply that I realized that the native players were drawing on personal experiences with the music and the culture that I could never have. And "native" is not the right word, because some of the best players I knew had adopted and assimilated--It is more a question of simply being there--

Still, I was always welcomed as a player--which hasn't always been true in the "American" music community--


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 17 May 06 - 12:47 PM

Sure the "native" players were drawing on certain "background" things; but then you were bringing something to the performance that they couldn't, no? A point of view that did NOT depend on stuff that wasn't in the tune. The whole "non-ethnics can't do it 'authentically' " notion is a little weak, IMO. It's viewing a piece of music as having characteristics that are not really part of the music itself. Suppose you simply heard a piece of music, knowing nothing about its provenance? Could you legitimately attempt it? Suppose you did learn it, and well, and played/sang it a great deal, and it was popular; and then someone came along and pointed out to you that the piece "really" belonged to the Makkawak tribe of Lower Slobbovia, and they did it thus and such a way, and it was sacrilege to perform the piece other than on the feast day of the Sacred Carp? Is that a quandary?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: melodeonboy
Date: 17 May 06 - 01:36 PM

"McGrath's" word "deculturated" (a curious word, but useful) is the key to much of this discussion. When people are distanced in huge measure from the culture of their predecessors, there exists a vacuum which will suck in forms from other cultures, for better or worse. This applies particularly in the case of English music.

I've played zydeco, Cajun and blues and thoroughly enjoyed it, yet (and I'm not getting misty-eyed about this; honest, guv!) when I'm singing English stuff, particularly in chorus, I feel a sense of home, belonging and emotion that I don't find elsewhere. I would imagine that people the world over feel like this towards the music of their own country. (Yes, it refreshes the parts that other forms of music can't reach!!!!) Sadly, as far as England's concerned, and for the reasons stated above, I think I belong to a small minority!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 May 06 - 04:55 PM

Wikipedia on Racial Memory


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 17 May 06 - 05:00 PM

Studies at Durham University touching the topic


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 May 06 - 06:52 PM

You wouldn't say to someone "how can someone possibly read and enjoy Jane Austin and also Mark Twain and Leo Tolstoy. Or how can someone possibly you write letters to friends and also articles in a newspaper.
.........................................

"Race memory" - I just don't believe in it. We make choices as to who we feel drawn to in previous generations, and where our loyalties lie, and ancestry is only one of the factors involved, and not by any means the most important in many cases.

There are clearly plenty of people in America who feel a strong sense of solidarity and loyalty towards with the people and the music and traditions of pioneer America, even though none of their ancestors arrived in the States till maybe a century or more later. And the same is often the case in the various nations of the British Isles.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 17 May 06 - 07:30 PM

Richard Bridge - when I asked what you meant by "racial memory" I was quite certain you did NOT mean the pseudo-phenomenon describes in the target Wiki article (or I wouldn't have asked). It's nonsense. Everyone knows it. Or are you referring to it metaphorically (seeking to give you an intellectual escape hatch here)?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,MikeofNorthumbria (off base)
Date: 17 May 06 - 08:16 PM

Hello folks,

What a fascinating discussion! Sorry I got into it so late in the day, but here are a few afterthoughts you might care to consider.

I was once priviliged to hear Willard White performing the role of Wotan in "Die Walkure". He did it superbly. Would Wagner have approved of an Afro-Caribbean singer playing his Nordic hero? I doubt it. Does that matter to me? Not at all.   

I have also heard Dick van Dyke attenpting to sing in a Cockney accent in the movie "Mary Poppins". Despite his wildly inauthentic vowels, he made a pretty fair job of the role.   As someone born and raised in London, do I resent this "appropriation" of "my culture"? No way.

Two of the world's great opera stars (Jose Carreras and Kiri Te Kanewa) have recorded songs from "West Side Story". Despite their awesome technical skills, the result is somehow lifeless. Is this just because neither of them are native New Yorkers? I don't think so. And as they were not New Yorkers, should they have been discouraged from even trying the experiment? Not in my opinion.

Ethnicity? Schmethnicity! The question is, does it work? And the only way to find out whether it works is to try. Musicians and singers - like painters and poets - are roving magpies, liable to pick up anything that glitters and use it if they can. What matters is not where they found it, but what they make of it.

Remember that Shakespeare stole most of his plots from other authors - and foreign ones at that. Does that make him any less of a great writer, or any less English? Of course not. And does Shakespeare's Englishness make it impossible for actors from other ethnic backgrounds to deliver authentic and moving performances of his plays? Perish the thought!

But what about traditional folk music? Isn't that more personal, more intimately associated with our sense of self - more likely to be defiled by the touch of an outsider? Well ...maybe... but when you look at them carefully, it seems that most traditional folk cultures have always been fairly promiscuous, gathering in songs and tunes from foreigners as readily as Shakespeare appropriated plots from other authors. Whatever works is retained, and eventually becomes "traditional", What doesn't seem to work (today) goes back on the compost heap, perhaps to be reborn in a different form for a later age.

Just to illustrate the point ... a recent publiation has pointed out that one dance tune in the repertoire of William Kimber, the great English concertina player and Morris dancer, was also recorded by Lead Belly, the great African American songster. Who got it from whom remains obscure, but that's what Uncle Pete calls "the folk process" - long may it flourish!

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Azizi
Date: 17 May 06 - 09:48 PM

"...when you look at them carefully, it seems that most traditional folk cultures have always been fairly promiscuous"

Do I have to watch? It seems kinda x rated to do so.

LOL!

I also love your "Ethnicity? Schmethnicity! The question is, does it work?" sentences too.

Great writing, MikeofNorthumbria (off base)!

And btw, in addition to appreciating how you said what you said,
I agree with what you said.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: M.Ted
Date: 18 May 06 - 12:16 AM

I am certainly not telling anyone what they can or cannot sing.

I agree with the point that different cultures grab up what interests them, from a variety of sources--sometimes they draw from their own past, and sometimes they don't--whatever they collect, however they collect it, becomes theirs, done in their own way--and it exists in their own place and time--the same thing, done by someone else, somewhere else, is something else again.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 May 06 - 03:14 AM

The mudcat went down just I was about to remind readers of the Jungian concept of the collective unconscious.

Incidentally, Mike of Northumbria, I think you mean Das Valkyr - which in a way illustrates one importance of continuity of a tradition, and yes I am and have always been wholly offended by Dick van Dyke's accent: were there any idea of Mary Poppins as a serious dramatic piece it would be ruined by his total inability to convey a crucial part of the role, that is to say, speech. It is always a matter of concern to me if I am prevailed upon to do one of the few Irish songs that I do do, "Step it out Mary" that I may be ruining the meaning of a very political song about the focus of power in a society by my inappropriate accent or (possibly worse) by a tendency to to create a "cod Irish" delivery.

Little as I approve of much of Ewan MacColl, I think he was right to insist that performers only sing (if singing traditional material) material appropriate to their own tradition(s) and certainly not to attempt phonetic renderings of langauges they did not speak (as is reportedly done, in my view laughably, by rhinestone cowboys in Hamburg bars).

West Side Story does not really count - it is not part of a tradition (maybe I should say "yet") merely Broadway candyfloss. No doubt musically fine (I particularly liked the Nice's version of "America") but not on point. The cultural mofern referents in it are not I think integral to what was largely a remake (as that word is used in the entertainment industry) of Romeo and Juliet. I suspect the problem was there the difference between the operatic style and the subject matter, in much the same way that possibly the worst version of "Carrickfergus" I have ever heard was Charlotte Church's compete (if that is the word) with one of the added Victorian verses.

Correct me if I am wrong but we have not yet had any Irish posters defending others performing their tradition, nor any blues performers asserting that source blues singers would have approved the white college boys coming to be the majority of performers of the blues, in which context it may be relevant to ask why the late Jo-Ann Kelly was regarded as so remarkable in her ability to convey the blues.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 May 06 - 04:22 AM

Mike of Northumbria produces the good old liberal inclusive view very eloquently and convincingly. But I think a close analysis of what he is saying exposes the fgundamental weakness of his position: he really shoots himself in the foot with his Leadbelly/William Kimber. That they share a tune is a lovely and and interesting story, and an interesting bit of ethnomusicolgy. But Mike mentions they share one tune. Mike soncentrates on the "sharing" concept, but I'd like to lok at the "one" as well. Just think what a loss to the world of black music it would have been if Leadbelly had devoted his life to playing Cotswold morris tines rather badly with Sonny Terry. And what would have happened in Headington thaqt memorable day in 1899 if Cecil Sharp had watched the dancers vainly trying to get their stepd right as William Kimber attempted "Rock Island Line" and "Pigmeat Blues".
   Lets face it, nether Richard Bridge or anyone else is going to be other than intrigued by singers adotpting the odd anomalous song in their repertoire. What is being discussed here is whether people should adopt(or attempt to adopt) other cultures wholesale. And that seems to be a very evenly balanced and complex question with no easy answers.
    It is often observed in the world of vaccination/immunisation that the best thing to be is the only person who hasnt been vaccinated: that way you get the benefit of an immune population making the disease die out, without the unfortunate risk of any side effect from the injection. I feel that McGtath of and Mike of N (and me!)actually want the benefits of being able to play whatever they like themselves, while expecting the ethnic hordes, whether in Headington Quarry or Louisiana, to keep producing the beautiful and culturally specific music we all know and love.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 18 May 06 - 04:46 AM

The real problem is that today, influental media moguls are brainwashing everybody (so they can make money!) to have the same world wide beige pseudo-culture.

Fight The Beige!
(Billy Connoly)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Grab
Date: 18 May 06 - 08:26 AM

Frankly, if you're trying to tell someone else what should be relevant to them then you're talking crap. You can't know what's relevant to someone. De gustibus and all that...

Re race memory, do the majority of Americans not have European origins? Was the country itself not founded by English-speaking Europeans? Given that, all American musicians have some roots in European music. They'll also have links to whatever else they've heard (black slaves with songs from African origins, etc). So when those American songs go back across the Atlantic via Paul Simon and Bob Dylan, are Europeans not then allowed to pick up on the new versions of the old stuff? Or are they only allowed to play the Bob Dylan songs that have recognisable English influences in them? And even blues songs can often be traced back to older broadsides or traditional lyrics, so what then?

Would you have told Django Reinhardt that he couldn't play jazz because it originated from black musicians? And would you then tell all current American jazz guitarists that they can't try to play jazz on guitar because Django Reinhardt did it first?

As far as I can see, the main people who are *really* keen on keeping a culture isolated are immigrants who come to another country, feel isolated, and gang together with other similar immigrants against the rest; or those who feel threatened by those immigrants. In that case the culture becomes a definition of us-versus-them. You only need to look at how fanatically the Orange Order proclaim themselves to be British, or the Boston Irish (or in fact most Americans who say they're "Irish" or "Scottish").

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 May 06 - 08:48 AM

But are those who come to the traditions of others not colonialists (or uncle Toms if slavish)?

Are those who export their cultures to others not cultural imperialists?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: jacqui.c
Date: 18 May 06 - 08:58 AM

IMHO songs are songs. A lot of the folk music I have heard has been performed by English singers at local song sessions. From those singers I have learned songs like Step It Out Mary, Fields Of Athenry, Glencoe, The Silver Darlings, the list is long. These songs were sung in the accent of the singer, not that of the country it came from. I am glad that there hasn't been a rule that only Irish or Scottish singers could attempt to sing their own country's songs. If that were the case I would have missed out on a lot of good music.

The same goes for the USA, where I now live. The people I associate with in folk circles are, for the major part, at least third generation Americans. Their musical interests are diverse - including English, Scots, Irish and Welsh music as well as American music from all parts of this very large land. It is the exception to the rule that anyone feels the need to sing in an accent other than their own, but that does not detract from the enjoyment of the song.

The one thing I have noticed though is that Americans are more interested in their roots than most of the British people that I know. A fair number of Americans, in the areas I have moved in, will be able to recite their national lineage going back to the ancestors who emigrated to America. Most of my UK acquaintances couldn't say, and don't seem to care, what part of the UK their antecedents originated from.

Oh, and yes - I agree about the Dick Van Dyke fiasco. Much better, unless you can do a very good job of it, not to try and ape a different accent. It just ends up sounding ridiculous.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Ernest
Date: 18 May 06 - 09:40 AM

Richard, the terms "cultural imperialism/colonialism" are not helpful in our discussion, someone could accuse you of suppressing "Freedom of choice/songs".

Nobody is forced to sing a song from a foreign culture among us here - everyone does it because he likes the song.

Your original question - why people prefer foreign songs - is a different pair of shoes.

Maybe the fact that it is a living tradition accepted by everyone (not only by a minority = folkies) is what attracts people to irish music.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Grab
Date: 18 May 06 - 11:52 AM

Cultural imperialism is "we'll all do things my country's way because it's the best way to do it".

"I like playing your country's music, and you like playing my country's music, and ain't it cool that we both like this stuff" is not cultural imperialism...

So to use a loose analogy, McDonalds is cultural imperialism, whereas Coca-Cola isn't. Mickey D's dictates that all their fast-food restaurants shall look like this, and all the staff shall dress like this, and this kind of food shall be what we serve. If a McDonalds looks out of place in a historic European city - screw it, build it anyway. But sugary drinks aren't inherently tied to a culture (unlike food), and Coca-Cola don't dictate what the places that it's served look like, or how it's served, so it's an addition to the locally available tastes rather than being intended as a replacement.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST
Date: 18 May 06 - 12:44 PM

Dead right Ernest. It's how you do the music rather than what music you do that defines the tradition. IMHO the "english" tradition as currently peddled is a spurious construct, perhaps more alien to most people who live in England than the Irish tradition.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: M.Ted
Date: 18 May 06 - 01:38 PM

I actually have seen the reactions of "traditional" black blues artists to white college boy blues artists, and , in general, they like them, and often like them a lot. And I've seen this same positive reaction in other ethnic groups, as well. People are flattered when outsiders take an interest in their culture, even when they don't get it quite right.

The disapproval tends to come from other college white boys, who fuss more about minor details of style than the traditional artists themselves.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 18 May 06 - 01:44 PM

Is there such a thing as "quite right" when talking about an essentially folk idiom? To hang onto the blues example, I wonder whether some oldtime quiet Piedmont picker would necessarily think Howlin' Wolf (or Screamin' Jay) "got it quite right?" Other examples abound. Reiterate: what's "quite right?" What about jazz? ("Which jazz?" is of course the only usable response - Dixieland? Django & Stephane? Paul Whiteman, Bix Beiderbecke, Benny Goodman? Chet Baker? Is jazz somehow an exception?)

By introducing that concept ("quite right") you're accepting and reinforcing the "race memory" notion, but doing so within an example that disproves the concept in & of itself.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: CarolC
Date: 18 May 06 - 02:46 PM

I come from Irish (Catholic) and Irish (Protestant), and English, Scottish, French, German (and by way of immigration, Canadian and Bermudan) heritages, and was born and raised in the USA.

So what is my musical heritage?

And with my ancestry, how can I possibly embrace music from my musical "heritage(s)" that don't insult and/or disrespect my ancestors. My ancestors were disrespecting each other (or at least the nations from which they came were) prior to my arrival on this Earth.

So what music should I play? My father listened exclusively to classical music (from many countries), and my mother listend exclusively to muzak. Should I confine myself to these kinds of music?

The type of traditional music I play the most of is from Finland. I do not have any Finnish ancestry. Why do I play it? Because it speaks to me. Because I find that it lives inside of me. Why is this? I have no idea.

Why should I not play the music that lives inside of me, just because it doesn't come from my "heritage"?

And if I didn't play Finnish music, what should I play?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 18 May 06 - 03:03 PM

well according to the "race memory" notion, there must be some woodpile Finnish in yer genome, else how could it possibly speak to you - you wouldn't know what it was saying.

The whole problem with the notion of "race memory" as it might apply to music, (besides the fact that the notion itself is daft) is that it relies on music itself possessing some intrinsic, ethnically traceable qualities; which it can't.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 18 May 06 - 03:03 PM

Cultural Carpet Bagging
The other side
This post is NOT about SHOULD BE. It is about IS.

Grew up in WV.
Not an easy thing.

Know huge numbers of people who visit WV regularly or have even emigrated to WV.
I find that They are people who have fallen in love with a myth, not a reality.

When somebody tells me how much they love WV, the WV they love is "WV-land," not WV. WV-land is the version WV you'd find at Disney World. Expurgated, sanitized, shrink wrapped.

Although I am an expat from WV, with no desire to return, I still find such cultural carpet bagging somewhat annoying.

Nothing unusual here.

Anecdote:
Jay Rockefeller, the "other senator" from WV, moved there in 1964 as a VISTA worker. He served his time and decided to stay. He got into politics, moved up the ladder.

For many years, whenever my mother referred to Jay the word "carpet bagger" always appeared in the same sentence.
I still remember the first time she ever referred to him without the usual epithet.
I called her on it and she grudgingly admitted that he'd finally made the cut.

Point:
Most of the discussion in this thread has been relatively abstract.
Granted, theoretically, there is nothing wrong with adopting a culture and/or its music and/or its food/drink/whatever.

Yet, I still find WV wannabes annoying, no matter how pure their love and sincerity.
When I try to put a finger on this annoyance, it turns out to be partly about dues-paying and partly about naievete. Basically two sides of the same coin.

Jay, after decades of being in the red with my mother, had finally gotten his dues paying balance in the black.
After decades of living and politic-ing in WV, Jay was now fully aware of, could not help but be aware of, what life in WV was like, as opposed to life WV-land.

So, for the adopters the discussion remains and will remain theoretical.
For the adoptees its something more personal.

Am I advocating the elmination or demonization of cultural carpet bagging?
No. It's gonna happen. It is not a bad thing in inself.

What I am suggesting is that if you practice cultural carpet bagging you keep in mind that imitation, no matter how pure the motivation, is NOT always simply a form of flattery.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: M.Ted
Date: 18 May 06 - 03:24 PM

When I say "not quite right" , it has nothing to do with style--it is about technical stuff--clams, notes that are fudged, weak projection, , mechanical solos and awkward rhythmic figures--as a teacher, when I say "not quite right", I am not imposing the idea of "race memories", I am imposing the idea of "more practice"--

And, BuckMulligan, my experience with Jazz players is that, of all the different kinds of musicians that I have played with, they are the most adaptable--all those guys that you listed could have played together, no problem--Coltrane, one must remember, played with Earl Bostic--


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 18 May 06 - 03:30 PM

The fact that it annoys you does not, ipso facto, mean much. The fact that you apply a derogatory term (carpetbagging) indicates that you're being disingenuous when you say "It is not a bad thing in inself." [sic] You DO think it's a bad thing or you wouldn't use that term. But exactly WHY you think it's bad you can't say except that it seems to boil down to "the place sucks and I don't wanna go back there but it's mine and you can't have it." I suspect you're also confusing an affinity for cultural artefacts with something else - your use of the term "wannabe" (another pejorative) indicates that you somehow think that when I sing "Coal Tattoo" I "wanna" be a coal miner. Nope. Wanna sing a nifty song. My great grandfather was a logger on the Vermont/Canadian border, but damn if I think Pete Seeger was a "Canuck wannabe" when he sang The Ballad of the Frozen Logger. (I happen to know he was a 40 year old waitress wannabe). Was Stan Rogers an iron-puddler-wannabe when he sang that song about the iron puddlers? My other great-grand-dad WAS an iron puddler, but I'm not annoyed at Stan.

I take your point that the annoyance is THERE; I just don't understand why, and I don't understand what anyone oughta do about it. Issue disclaimers?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 18 May 06 - 03:32 PM

M Ted - agreed about jazz, didn't mean to imply that the players would find any difficulty. As far as the technical stuff, ok, I get what you're saying, but did the "authentic" players of any of the forms of interest "get it right" from that perspective?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Brían
Date: 18 May 06 - 03:55 PM

Now, an authentic, scientifically validated video of an alien grays jamming with the US military in a hanger in Area 51 is somethig that would really impress me.

Brían


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: M.Ted
Date: 18 May 06 - 04:35 PM

Definitely. They had it right. That's what makes them blues guys. How they got it right depended on the person--it is a balance of your gift and your committment. Understanding the music is also a factor--with some people, understanding is seemingly intuitive, some get it with exposure, and some have to have it explained.

A lot of the problem with White College Guy Blues(which eventually turns into White Middle Aged Guy Blues) is that the players don't really understand the mechanisms. If you can play guitar, you can learn them in about an hour--give or take. But you need the right teacher.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 18 May 06 - 04:48 PM

There's something a little circular about your "that's what makes them blues guys" assertion. I've heard a fair amount of blues from "real" blues guys and some of the "technical" stuff you mention was not in the forefront of their playing (fudged notes, poor projection, awkward rhythms, etc.) Were they not realy blues guys? Or was that a function of my cultural ignorance? I'm sniffing some magic supposedly going on here, and not sure I buy it.

What they were playing was blues because they were blues guys who were blues guys because they played it right because..... see what I mean? You seem to be saying that only blues guys can really play the blues, and you can tell it's really the blues because it's being played by blues guys.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 May 06 - 04:57 PM

I've always felt that "roots" is a strange word to use in conjunction with music.   Roots serve a purpose of holding a plant down in place and delivering the nutrients to keep the plant alive. The plant will only grow as it is genetically intended and it will stay put.

Music has much more freedom and less limits. It is intended to spread and infect others. Music can also be a universal language and may be why other cultures pick up and learn to love the music from other cultures.

Why should we be expected to play only the music of our home? How boring is that?

Can you imagine if we limited our diet to intake only the food of our birth?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Santa
Date: 18 May 06 - 05:16 PM

To me the interesting part of this discussion, if perhaps the least explored, is not why people find interest in other musical traditions. This I can readily understand: the attraction of the new, the different, the exotic. What I do not understand is why this so often results in a rejection of the home tradition.

I can understand how someone brought up in a tradition should restrict themselves to that tradition (assuming it has a richness and depth to sustain that.) I can understand why someone can grow up in one tradition (or no tradition) and open his mind to music of other - not necessarily all - traditions. But why someone should turn their back on their own tradition to adopt something very different and then cling to that: no, there's a wrongness there.

I don't hold with race memory, but I do believe that much of what forms you comes unconsciously from your background. The music of your area comes from the people of your area, and so do these influences. I believe this is what some of the posters above are describing, when they return to the songs of their background. In-comers, however welcome, willing and talented, are not going to have that same "feel".


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 18 May 06 - 05:23 PM

"why someone should turn their back on their own tradition to adopt something very different and then cling to that: no, there's a wrongness there."

Can you elaborate on why you find this wrong? I'm very curious about this discussion.

Here in the United States, there are many traditions that are either adopted from other cultures or blending from a variety.   I look at something as say a Christmas Tree as an example of how one culture will adopt a tradition from another. Is it wrong? I don't think so.

As for music, not everyone who comes from the south will enjoy Old-time music. Not every African-American will enjoy the blues. Is it wrong for a white kid from Boston to start playing southern tunes on the banjo, or a woman from Canada to play the blues? I think it points to the beauty of the tradition.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Brían
Date: 18 May 06 - 05:29 PM

I must admit I have found the idea of holding old-time country music sessions in English pubs rather curious, although probably no more curious than singing British ballads in American venues. I suppose it is easier for me to envision the roots emanating from Britain to America rather than the other way around. When one considers what tradition is we are actually adapting aspects of other traditions through the cultural lenses of our own experiences.

Brían


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 May 06 - 05:30 PM

"social memory"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 May 06 - 05:33 PM

"sociology of collective memory"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 May 06 - 05:43 PM

I'd really love to hear Leadbelly playing Morris tunes. Somehow I think they would have ended up sounding like Leadbelly. That's the point - whatever you play will be mediated through who you are, and where you come from.

I don't think there is necessarily any clash between wanting traditional music to remain true to its tradition, and maybe wanting to be part of that - and yet feeling free to pick and choose what to play and how to play. It comes down to the context within which you are making the music. There are times and occasions when the important thing is to play within the tradition, and the time when the important thing is just to make music.

Just because someone is a Morris Dancer and wears a costume doesn't mean they can't go to a social dance and wear jeans. Just because someone is in a string quarter that plays Mozart doesn't mean they might not enjoy playing reels and jigs in a pub session. And its not really any different in principle for the rest of us.
..............
No need for anybody to put on a cod Irish accent for Step it out Mary. I can't see anything that specifically Irish in the story or the song for that matter. It could as be imagined as happening in, say, Yorkshire or Essex. (After all, to return to a song I mentioned earlier in this thread, no one in Ireland ever felt obliged to put on a Norfolk accent to sing the Wild Rover.)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 18 May 06 - 06:31 PM

uh, Richard? First link - lotsa stuff there. I don't have time (or inclination) to plow throw it and discern whether it makes sense.

Second link - ok, don't mean to be dismissive, but it looks pretty much like a postmodern, theoretical overstatement of the notion that cultural artefacts get handed down between generations. Eureka.... they're still learned things, not innate, and that which can be learned can be molded, unlearned, transmogrified, and/or outgrown.

Santa - I don't find the rejection of the "home culture" - at least at some developmental stage - particularly puzzling. In the same way as we need to leave our parents' hearth & home, sometimes we leave the larger context, for more or less the same emotional reasons. Sometimes we outgrow that need to leave, and sometimes we don't.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 May 06 - 06:57 PM

The discussion goes on, and on. and on, but the interesting point to me is the fact that different people have such a passionate and angry attachment to their positions at opposite ends of the spectrum, when I seem to manage to live quite happily in the middle ground where the pendulum swishes happily to and fro(occasionally bopping me on the head while it passes). Nothng wrong with the odd exotic tune is there? And equally, surely there's nothing wrong in loving what you were brought up with? Where is the incompatibility? The problem only arises with those who can't cope with the odd foreign visitor, but also with those who can't cope with people who quite like things to be familiar.
Pure spice would be a crap diet;so would grey goo.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: M.Ted
Date: 18 May 06 - 08:06 PM

Blues is circular, BuckMulligan--that's the beauty of it--


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,MikeofNorthumbria (off base)
Date: 18 May 06 - 08:21 PM

I believe Carol C has got to the root of the matter

>>The type of traditional music I play the most of is from Finland. I do not have any Finnish ancestry. Why do I play it? Because it speaks to me.<<

There's a similar phrase in a story about George Fox - founder of the Quakers - for which I don't have references to hand. A sceptic came to hear Fox preach and was rapidly converted, saying to him: "Friend, thou speakest to my condition."

Songs and tunes from far-away places can also "speak to our condition" - they seem to make something resonate inside us, like the sympathetic strings on a sitar or a Hardanger fiddle. Sometimes they even seem to say "sing me", or "play me", and we can't resist the invitation.

Of ourse it's a good thing that some people choose to focus on preserving and documenting "the tradition", while others seek to develop and expand it. But those committed to the former camp would do well to remember that everything traditional was an innovation once. (Sometimes the innovation was more recently than we would like to think - for more on this, see E Hobsbam and T Ranger's fascinating book "The Invention of Tradition".)

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 May 06 - 08:34 PM

MikeofNorthumbria: I've spent plenty of time being dangerosuly innovatory. My hardcore traddie activities, which I find myself more drawn to as senescence kicks in, I regard as paying my dues. You're right, all tradition started life as innovation. But,ponder well: all innovation is not going to lead to tradition:yea verily, not even the one hundredth of a one hundredth part.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 18 May 06 - 09:42 PM

greg - angry?

Generally, y'mean? As in "not necessarily in this thread?" I haven't seen anyone angry in this exchange.

M. Ted - agree blues is (are?) circular in a sense (broom dustin', card playin, easy ridin, start over...), but that doesn't apply to analytical apparatus applied to it/them.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: M.Ted
Date: 18 May 06 - 10:02 PM

Actually, the blues are structurally circular, not thematically circular(or maybe they are both-that'd be OK too)--the analytical apparatus is even more circular than the Blues themselves--

Just out of curiousity, BuckMulligan(to discover if I put my foot in it) are you one of those White College Blues guys? If you are, I take it all back--even white boys can have the blues--


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 18 May 06 - 10:32 PM

I think an oft-quoted observation made by T.S. Eliot concerning writing applies to traditional music and "alien" traditions, etc.: Bad writers borrow; good writers steal. (Or words to that effect). If you are "good" enough to make the song or tune your own, you're cool with me; if you're bumbling and fumbling with a song or tune that is clearly not yours, well then ...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Brendy
Date: 18 May 06 - 10:39 PM

I'm a bit wary of the term 'Cultural Imperialism' as regards any kind of influence. Surely the term should be 'Cultural Assimilation'

Sub-trees of any musical genre, precisely because of their inherent similarities, can blend quite well: Scottish & North of Ireland traditional music, for example.
Some musics may be either technically more interesting, or on a deeper level, hit certain spots within the soul which no academic explanation can ever cover in totality.

The marketing of the 'Product' will always pick up curious devotees, but whatever the base music is, it still stays the same and is played by people because it is theirs, and it moves them.

Music expresses things that words cannot; and if the music is of the people, it will reflect daily life of the Community, and the hills and dales and of the area.

Empathy at least is needed to sucessfully play another's Culture's music. I am reminded here of a John Doyle video clip I saw, some time ago where he was explaining how he arrived at some of the progressions he did.
In the 60 sec or so clip, he must have used the word 'Feel' about 20 times, just at those points when a good old verbal explanation was needed for the uninitiated.

I know how he feels.
Somethings one can't quite quantify when one language is used to describe another; it ends up as kind of musical anthropomorphism.

Many people do drift to Irish music, but I think the majority of what 'damage' Richard alludes to as been 'done' outside of the Celtic Isles. Remember that Irish, Scottish, and English traditional and Folk have been intertwined for years... (leave the Welsh, Cornish, & Manx out of it for the minute...)
I studied and continue to study Renbourn, Carthy, Simpson, Newman, etc., and 'Matty Groves' was well on my repertoire long before 'Little Musgrave' was, for example.

I don't know, Richard.
People with no sense of their own musical tradition, perhaps....?
Some people just don't see the beauty in their own (Prophet is never accepted..., and all that...)

Music makes me laugh sometimes, with its inherent jocularity. Some of Paddy Canny & P.J. Hayes' compositions have me in stitches on a regular basis. Still after 20 years of learning them, perhaps.

I cannot explain that verbally

Di did il doodilly i dil di, dit il dootilly i til
The first 2 bars of 'The Bucks'
(key optional, but generally in a major one...)

B.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 18 May 06 - 11:14 PM

There are several types of people.

First, I shall discuss "the rest". Enough said. OK, moving on...

Now we have the "B-graders" - often called 'wannabes'. These people copy slavishly the "A-graders", picking apart any other B-grader's attempts to 'do' anything the A-graders do, as it is always just 'not right'. Of course these wannabes also often dump on any true A-grader that they may stumble across unless they are TOLD (by one of the other A-graders usually) that so & so is a A-grader.

The "A-graders"? - well they just DO it, without thinking too much about the WHY or WHAT really very much.... ;-) The B-graders often call then 'geniuses', etc...

:-)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Brendy
Date: 18 May 06 - 11:25 PM

One has to remember also however , Foolestroupe, that the only bottleneck in the whole journey between the creative spark in the brain that tells you that THIS note MUST go in HERE, and the key or fret-board, are the fingers.

Technical dexterity is another matter entirely, and every rocket scientist knows (though it is not, as yet, a job requirement), that Ry Cooder or Eric Clapton, or Steve Vai are just waiting around the corner.

There is no word for 'Arrogance' in the language of music
It is done. Period.

B.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 18 May 06 - 11:43 PM

Yes Brendy,

THE THREE WORDS...

Practice, practice, practice...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 19 May 06 - 12:12 AM

"Many people do drift to Irish music, but I think the majority of what 'damage' Richard alludes to as been 'done' outside of the Celtic Isles."

Isn't that Richard's point?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: CarolC
Date: 19 May 06 - 12:23 AM

One of the things that makes me glad I don't play Irish music is the posessiveness some people have about who should be allowed to play it.

Of course, I've participated in sessions with people from Ireland who couldn't imagine that anyone would want to play anything else.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 May 06 - 12:38 AM

On that A-grader and B-Grader thing, everyone knows who the B-Graders are, except the B-Graders themselves. Mike of Northumbria, thanks for the book recommendation--I am looking for a copy of "The Invention of Tradition" even as we speak.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 May 06 - 01:17 AM

Martin Ryan took me to a fiddle session in Dublin when I visited there - it seemed to me that almost half of the participants were Asian, all about 30 years old. I thought the session would be closed to all but aging Irish males, so this surprised me.
The aging Irish males were singing US-style "country" music in the West of Ireland.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Brendy
Date: 19 May 06 - 02:11 AM

"Isn't that Richard's point? "

Well, on one level it seems to be, but if the 'empathy' is there, the problem shouldn't arise.

Are we discussing the effect of marketing, or the flighty fancy of passing afficiandos?
One of the best pipers I know is Swedish. I have a good friend in Denmark who is arguably one of the best fiddlers around, both of whose style and body language, I have no trouble predicting.

I don't know...., I think it is an imperfect premise to begin with

Practice, of course, Foolstroupe. But we must never dwell in the notion that it will ever make 'Perfect' somewhere down the line.
Someone asked Segovia once when did he learn to play the guitar (he was in his late '80's at this stage). Segovia just laughed and said 'I learn something new every day'

B.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Brendy
Date: 19 May 06 - 02:26 AM

The situation Joe has outlined above, could alo be interpreted as indicative of people who are at ease with their own Culture, as well, and who don't see it as any bad reflection on their own Nationality or Culture.

It isn't really where you are from that matters in these situations. It's sort of who you are...

B.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 19 May 06 - 05:31 AM

A note for Greg, who wrote:

>>Ponder well: all innovation is not going to lead to tradition:yea verily, not even the one hundredth of a one hundredth part. <<

I agree with the general sentiment of that observation, though I'd quibble about the exact ratio. But the really important thing is to keep scattering the seeds, even if most of them do seem to fall on stony ground. (See St Mark's gospel, ch4, verses 3-8). Or as William Morris put it in more secular language, in "The Dream of John Ball":

"... I pondered on all these things, and how men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of their defeat, and when it comes, turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name - while I pondered all this, John Ball began to speak again. ' ... he who doeth well in fellowship, and because of fellowship, shall not fail though he seem to fail today, but in days hereafter shall he and his work yet be alive, and men be holpen by them to strive again, and yet again'. "

Amen to that.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 May 06 - 06:00 AM

And didn't William Morris also say "A little bit of what you fancy does you good"?. The emphasis is on the "little"..this applies to innovation, singer song-writers in folkclubs, people learning foreign tunes, and cayenne pepper.
    Come to think of it, it might not have been William Morris. Perhaps it was Yeats.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 19 May 06 - 06:11 AM

M. Ted - well I'm a White Guy, and I went to college (in the dim of yesteryore) but I've come late to an appreciation of blues didn't have much feel for them in the college days), and don't play & sing them very much. When I do play the blues, I make no attempt whatsoever to "imitate" the originators - to "get it right" in your phrase. My finger-picking, however, while clearly not an imitation of MJH, or Cotton or Baker, is just as clearly derived from their styles. So if your definition of "it" is "play/sing it like these other guys" then of course one can't "get it right" unless one is a consummate mimic. OTOH, since the style is my own, I can't "get it wrong." IS it blues? I dunno, maybe not, even you assume that the canon is closed. Is it? Maybe not, if you assume up front that only black folk can do blues.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 19 May 06 - 07:27 AM

M Ted

I love your addition to the B-graders! I like it so much I'm going to incorporate it into my philodophy of lfe! Thanks!
:-)

Although possibly, 'the rest' may not be able to tell the difference? :-)

Hmmm, life is composed of three types of people, those who make things happen, those who watch it happen, and those who wonder what happened!

:-)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Santa
Date: 19 May 06 - 07:51 AM

Ron: Perhaps it goes back to your roots analogy. Roots are what nourish and inform everyone's approach to life and music. The mature plant has a root system that has grown and expanded into new volumes (which may or may not be the same material in which it began). But the best way to transplant a plant is to take the roots with it, not chop them off and throw them away.

It may be that turning your back on your home traditions is necessary (or at least common) as a development stage, in order to experience the new. Like the scientific/philosophical approach of thesis then antithesis leading to synthesis. But anyone who stops at the antithesis is stopping in the wrong place.

Yes, a singer/musician can stand up and deliver a blues, then a Scots ballad, then an Irish jig, then a touch of kletzmer. But isn't this just mimicry? A stage show, full of sound and fury but delivering - what? A passing entertainment, not in itself to be mocked, true.

If a musical tradition really does reach deep into the hearts, minds and souls (whatever we may understand by the term) of the people to which it belongs, then it is not capable of being picked up in a moment of study and the copying of a characteristic or two. What we absorb in our childhood we carry for our lives: it takes much more effort in adulthood to learn or change our ways. Perhaps it is true, if you stay and work hard for forty years then you can be fully accepted (as described above). You've then grown a new set of roots: but until then you are not experiencing or reproducing the music in the same way as you would have done growing up there.

I think that anyone, musician or otherwise, will do a better job by building on their past life and experience rather than starting again with a blank slate. To reject your early experience seems foolish, and unlikely to produce worthwhile results. Though, to be fair, this may be underestimating the adaptability of human beings.

Or are different forms of music just something superficial, to be taken up, worn seemlessly and then tossed aside?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 19 May 06 - 08:03 AM

Santa: my "past life" didn't include working on the land, encountering faeries or slaying toffs. So although I was born and live in a part of England, why should I be more at home with music concerning these things than I am playing Irish reels (some of which originated in Scotaland) or Irish hornpipes (some of which originated in England ?

Jim


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 May 06 - 08:12 AM

GUEST Jim: no reason at all to sing songs about faeries and toffs if they dont interest you. But as you seem to like jigs, reels and hornpipes, why not put in a proportion of your time playing the dance tunes of the part of England where you live. You may find they are just as rewarding as the Irish ones, and you may pass them on to the next generation. If you dont like them, dont bother. It's not a chore. Just a suggestion.
   I've had a lot of pleasure doing just this. My family are Cumbrian. There are a couple of thousand(ish) Cumbrian fiddle tunes to choose from. I've found plenty enough good ones to keep me occupied. Go for it. And sure, I play Irish tunes and cajun tunes as well. We live in the age of radio,TV, CDs, computers. Why not take advantage and look around. I like salami and chorizo, but a big plate of Cumberland sausage, cabbage and mash always hits the spot.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 19 May 06 - 08:37 AM

Crikey - the last sentences of my 6:11 post ("IS it blues? I dunno, maybe not, even you assume that the canon is closed. Is it? Maybe not, if you assume up front that only black folk can do blues.") got bargled up in an apparent insufficiency of caffeine.

Shoulda said something like "Is it blues? Dunno, guess it depends on whether you believe the canon is closed, or the definition is sometihng like 'Blues are what's played by [black] blues guys and we know they're blues guys because they're black and play the blues.' "


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Snuffy
Date: 19 May 06 - 09:00 AM

To a large extent I find the choice is taken out of my hands: songs are like cats - they choose you, not the other way round.

I've sometimes deliberately sat down and learned a song for a particular reason or occasion, but often it refuses to stay learned. But there are hundreds of songs that I never consciously learned: they just decided to stay in my mind. Some of them I didn't particularly like, but they must have "spoken" to me in some way.

Trad, pop, music hall, whatever - it's the individual song rather than the specific genre or origin that's important to me.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST
Date: 19 May 06 - 10:34 AM

Greg: I've already been there done that and got the Arran teeshirt. I've never seen convincing proof that any of the "local" english dance tunes I played for years were in any way linked to where I live. I shudder to think of what I passed on to succeeding generations whilst playing them. But thanks for the tip.

Jim


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 May 06 - 11:22 AM

GUEST Jim: which bit of England, and what tunes did you play? Maybe I could send you a more appropriate list? It rather depends where. I know nothing of the folk music of Hertfordshire, for example, but quite a lot about Cumbria and Lancashire.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 19 May 06 - 11:42 AM

Greg

The industrial north. I think any original tradition was flushed away by the massive population movements out of and into the area during the industrial revolution. Indeed perhaps before that - even before industrialisation it wouldn't have neem an area you'd want to have spent any more time in than was absolutely necessary - poor soil, heavy rain, steep hills etc. The Romans seem to have been wise enough to have left most of it alone. I doubt that the natives ever had time to sing play or dance - too busy trying to scrat a living.

I played in the Lancashire tradition and still aren't averse to decent "lancashire" dance tunes but the other stuff that went with them (I can play a rousing version of Gathering Peascods) just seemed a bit false.

Fact is, at the sessions I now attend the music's 99% instrumental and I'm not obliged to pretend to be dewy-eyed by songs about things I have no experience of - either in rural England or Ireland. I like it that way.

Thanks for your offer though, it's very good of you.

Jim


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 May 06 - 01:15 PM

"Yes, a singer/musician can stand up and deliver a blues, then a Scots ballad, then an Irish jig, then a touch of kletzmer. But isn't this just mimicry? "

Most performers are mimicking something.   As guest Jim pointed out, most of us have not shared the same experiences from the folk songs we sing.   Because I have never hunted a whale, should I be precluded from singing whaling songs? I was not at the Battle of Waterloo, should I not sing songs of Napoleon? I was not a slave, but should I ignore the songs of that era?

"What we absorb in our childhood we carry for our lives: it takes much more effort in adulthood to learn or change our ways."

That may very well be true, but so what? Are you suggesting that we stop learning and experiencing? Are we doomed to fill someone elses expectations?   Should music be considered an "arranged marriage"?

Is there a genetic link between culture and the individual? I certainly hope not.

Music can be a great textbook. We learn about history and people. Why not share in the experience?

Nationalism can be very ugly. Sharing traditions will promote understanding.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 May 06 - 01:41 PM

"Sharing traditions can promote understanding". Well, sure it can, but for there to be different traditions to share, we need a few preceding conservative generations who weren't quite so keen on sharing. Otherwise all the traditions will have turned to grey goo before we get our hands on them. I love meeting Kurds and hearing their Kurdish wild and wonderful songs. I am delighted they aren't all singing Beatles songs.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 May 06 - 01:49 PM

"Well, sure it can, but for there to be different traditions to share, we need a few preceding conservative generations who weren't quite so keen on sharing. Otherwise all the traditions will have turned to grey goo before we get our hands on them."

I don't agree with that. You can't stop evolution. To expect any culture to freeze in time and tradition would be a huge mistake.   Traditions are meant to be alive, and they will also evolve through time.

You can't change history, nor prevent it from happening. What we can do is preserve as much as we can and share it in any form that is available to our modern culture. The "goo" won't turn grey, but we will be able to understand how it was composed and replicate our own "goo" in the future.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Ernest
Date: 19 May 06 - 02:00 PM

There`s place for both approaches: nobody prevents you to play one tune in a traditional way and the next one modernized.

And I always found the Irish people, who have a living tradition quite open to other kinds of music.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 May 06 - 02:35 PM

Ron Olesko: of course I dont wanrt to stop evotion and freeze things. For a srtart, you can't, obviously.You dont know, but believe me its the experiments with African percussion and English music through the 70's and 80's, and all the wierd fusion theatre music I dd, that made me persona non grata in a lot of circles. I love other cultures, and learning their music, and interqacting with them. ASll I am trying to point out is that for this interaction to occur, there have to be different cultures to start with, SO there is always a continuous creatve attention beitween innovative mixing, and a conservative maintenance of the old ways of separation. Individuals can move freely along this spectrum at different stages of their life. But all I say is, thank God for ther Irish people who kept the jigs andd reels going, and didnt all learn samba drumming instead. And vice versa. Those who maintain the traditions are the people who give us the choice to mix and fuse when we want. Both viwpoints depend on each other, so neither can be wrong.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 May 06 - 02:38 PM

"continuous creative tension " that should have been, not "creative attention" .I never could write accurately (or play accurately, for that matter).


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 May 06 - 02:44 PM

Now I understand the point you were making Greg and I do agree. There is room for both.

The only problem I have is that it seems we divide into separtist factions when we talk about traditional and any sort of contemporary alteration. There should be mutual respect, even if the product that is being produced is not to an individuals taste.   

I think you made your point very clearly and I agree with you Greg.   Of course, you now have me curious about the mix of African percussion and English music!!! I've heard the Afro-Celt Sound System and never cared for their brand, so I can only imagine what your experience may have sounded!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: CarolC
Date: 19 May 06 - 03:10 PM

One of the things I love about Finnish music (at least the kind I play... waltzes), is the blending of cultures that is being discussed in this thread.

Finland is bordered by Scandinavia on one side, and Russia on the other. I find that Finnish waltz tunes have the most satisfying and delightful mix of the brightness of Scandinavian music, and the dark moodiness of Russian music (alternating between the two several times within one piece). And I like this combination even better than either Scandinavian or Russian music alone.

But it's not in the least "superficial" for me to play these tunes even though I didn't grow up in the culture. In fact, what would be superficial would be for me to play them, even if they didn't produce a deep connection and emotional response within me, just because I had grown up in the culture.

I am attracted to and play music that allows me to express what I have to say emotionally and creatively. I don't care where it comes from. If it does that much for me, I want to play it.

And since I am fairly liberated in terms of not having any kind of musical "heritage" to bind me, or to require me to carry it on, there really isn't any reason why I shouldn't.

I tend to doubt the people of Finland would have any problem with me playing their music.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Santa
Date: 19 May 06 - 03:46 PM

Ron: I am not suggesting that people shouldn't attempt to share, or try something new, and never have suggested that. What I believe is that those who reject their own heritage in favour of supposed greener fields elsewhere are missing out, compared with those who integrate their experiences.

Jan: Maybe music really is so superficial that tunes have no roots in geography - I'm no musician, so I'd have to take your word for that. But is it really true the music is completely promiscuous? Is it just chance that certain styles of playing are found in specific localities? Words certainly do tie songs to places - not that stops them being hijacked, of course, whereupon they will come to mean something to those in the new location.

I've never been a miner, either, but I did grow up in the Durham coalfield, and the songs of the North East still stir me in a way that others don't, despite 30-odd years in Lancashire and some time before that Down South.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: CarolC
Date: 19 May 06 - 03:59 PM

Santa, it would seem to me that someone who grew up in the coalfields of West Virginia (USA) would be more able to fully understand and appreciate the songs from the coalfields in Britain than, say, someone who grew up in a farming area, or in a seaport town in either the US or Britain, if that sort of thing is what makes songs relevant to people.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 19 May 06 - 04:33 PM

"What I believe is that those who reject their own heritage in favour of supposed greener fields elsewhere are missing out, compared with those who integrate their experiences."

Santa, I do see your points and I think we are in agreement about integrating experiences.   I'm just not sure if I share your view of people who "reject" their own heritage. Perhaps it is because I live in the United States were cultures were "blended" (for lack of a better word) and new traditions were formed. Carol C said it very eloquently - "I am attracted to and play music that allows me to express what I have to say emotionally and creatively". For those of us on this side of the Atlantic, I think our culture was created on adopting traditions which hit us emotionally.

Perhaps it is a bit different in the U.K. where separate cultures seem to have longer roots and lifespans.

What I think we are all witnessing is accelerated cultural changes and modes of transmission. Since the 20th century began I believe our lifestyles have changed dramatically and it is harder to maintain certain traditions. Where once enclaves of culture were maintained due to boundries set by geography, economy and technology - today our "borders" and limitations are no longer obstacles. The fact that all of us are able to hold this "conversation" and share our ideas - practially in an instant - is an example. 100 years ago such a converstion would not have been possible without being in the same room, or requiring lengthy letters that would have taken months to reach this point of the discussion.   Likewise our "entertainment" needs are fed by television, radio, movies, books, the Internet, etc. - items that can be shared globally with appeal to all interested parties.   The need for "local" entertainment has changed and become somewhat different from holding a weekly dance and get together in the town center of a century or more ago.

In my estimation, there will always be those that are drawn to "their" culture and will do what they can to preserve it. Don't forget, the folk revival of the early 20th century was spawned because of people who were afraid of losing their culture - comments that are echoed in 2006 by people in this thread. The traditions were saved and handed down back then, and I think they will in the future.   The traditions won't be "rejected" - they just might not be as widely adopted as they once were - but then, they really aren't needed to be.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Brendy
Date: 19 May 06 - 05:22 PM

Yes, a singer/musician can stand up and deliver a blues, then a Scots ballad, then an Irish jig, then a touch of kletzmer. But isn't this just mimicry?

If the music speaks to the person, then the musician has it from both sides: he/she is entertained, therefore he/she entertains.
I have seen many a solo musician lose the contact with the people, because their eyes are tracing the 'large W' across the venue all of the time. They lose concentration, interest, and later, engagement, in what they do.
They might as well just be having a bad day at the office.

Thank God, I have never had a bad day at the office in about 15-20 years.

I know German people who sing 'Lisdoonvarna' with a Christy Moore accent; Norwegians and Swedish bands frantically trying to 'Out-Shane-McGowan' each other.
... and I know many Europeans who speak perfect English with every accent under the sun from Ireland.

Mimicry?
Some of it is, granted.
A lot of it is not, however

I learned to speak Oslo Norwegian. People still find it hilarious when a County Armagh dialect gets its teeth into some of the sounds they have: 'Æ' 'Ø' 'Å', etc.
That's my roots coming through.

There are also some people whose first exposure to the English language were from the TEFL corps (Teach English as a Foreign Language); Dublin people, Wigan people, etc.

Because we know the language from our own perspective, we don't often question this first exposure people from other countries get.

If it is mimicry, then we all are mimics. Even our children, who will invariably pick up the first language and musical experiences from their area.

I doubt that the natives ever had time to sing play or dance - too busy trying to scrat a living.
Taking that statement to its logical conclusion, no music (especially Blues) would have ever developed.

B.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 20 May 06 - 01:42 PM

Brendy

I know nothing about the working conditions of southern states plantation workers so will not take issue with you over the blues.

Historically speaking, economic (no money), social (scattered population) and theological (puritanical) conditions here suggest to me that music singing and dancing were unlikely to have been on the agenda for ordinary people in this part of the world during the 16th 17th and 18th centuries. That's all I'm saying.

Jim


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: jacqui.c
Date: 20 May 06 - 02:00 PM

But with no entertainment laid on by TV, radio etc what did people do at the end of the working day?

I would wager that family song sessions would have been found, even in the poorest areas and the Puritan tradition would have gone by the board by the time of the Industrial revolution.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Goose Gander
Date: 20 May 06 - 02:27 PM

"Historically speaking, economic (no money), social (scattered population) and theological (puritanical) conditions here suggest to me that music singing and dancing were unlikely to have been on the agenda for ordinary people in this part of the world during the 16th 17th and 18th centuries."

Alright, I'll assume you're talking about North America. So where did all those ballads, songs, dance tunes and stories come from?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 20 May 06 - 02:37 PM

Jacqui.c:

they went to bed because they were tired and often couldn't afford candles or lamp oil

Michael:

No, northern UK

Jim


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Goose Gander
Date: 20 May 06 - 03:31 PM

Alright, my mistake, I should have followed the discussion more closely. But do you really mean to say you believe there was no music and dancing in the northern counties, the borders and Scotland during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Ernest
Date: 21 May 06 - 05:05 AM

Jim, you don`t need light to sing. And even the hearth-fire gives you (at least a little) light.

Then people used to sing while they worked. Have you ever heard about shanties or waulking songs, for example)?

On the contrary singing was the pastime even poor people could afford.

Best
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,thurg
Date: 21 May 06 - 11:25 AM

I have a friend who grew up in a home in which lamp oil was a precious commodity - so his mother would put them to bed early and sing to them the ballads that had been passed down to her.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: autolycus
Date: 21 May 06 - 12:15 PM

Fascinating discussion.

   The fact that there are conservers and there are explorers might be abn answer to the question/comment that starts along the lines of "I can't understand people who ...../Why do .....?"

   I notice that most of the discussion has centred on the folk traditions of the West, except for the African element of the blues. Is there much interchange/exchange of material between folk-singers/songwriters of the West with those outside that area?




    Ivor


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 21 May 06 - 01:36 PM

GUEST Jim: your assertions about the lack of music/song/dance in the north of England in the 16/17/128th century are just flabbergstingly wrong. I'm not going to divert and distub this thread by supplying chaper and verse for what I'm saying, I'm just suggesting you go to a libary or whatver and have a look at the subject. This is a perfectly ;iterate well documented part of the world with ample documentaion for its customs, its music, its songs, its tunes. Believe me, the area was heavng with creative singsrs, professional pipers and fiddlers, dances everywhere. Plenty of music publishers were publishing traditional dance tunes form the north of England from the period you are talking about, for a start. The north was music world, it was running out of their ears. Just as a trivial point, but it illustrates what I am saying. There are seven completely different fiddle tunes called "The Manchester Hornpipe". They didnt come from a poulace without music.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 21 May 06 - 01:36 PM

"Historically speaking, economic (no money), social (scattered population) and theological (puritanical) conditions here suggest to me that music singing and dancing were unlikely to have been on the agenda for ordinary people in this part of the world during the 16th 17th and 18th centuries."

"But with no entertainment laid on by TV, radio etc what did people do at the end of the working day? "

Probably sleep and get ready for the next day.

I don't want to speak for Jim, but I do see some truth in what he says. The Puritans were not party animals. Music and dance was NOT considered proper. Here in the U.S., celebrations were actually outlawed in parts of the colonies. Even today, there are sects of Amish that do not partake in music and dance.

Of course, you can not stop music. There were many cultures that readily adopted to these arts.   However, the use of music and dance was quite different in the past.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Goose Gander
Date: 21 May 06 - 02:07 PM

A few things, the term 'Puritan' is far too broad to encompass the various protestant sects, Calvinist and otherwise, in the north of Britain during time frame mentioned. Besides, people have ways of flaunting no-fun rules like that, and as Greg pointed out, northern English music is well-documented and the record speaks for itself.

It is difficult to preserve your own folk traditions if you don't even believe you have folk traditions.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Tootler
Date: 21 May 06 - 06:57 PM

To add to that, Parish Churches all over England had their West Gallery bands to provide music for the services. Tunes for hymns were often written by local people. These bands would also provide music for local dances as well.

In the 19th century, in the industrial towns there was a major growth of brass bands, choral societies and male voice choirs many of which achieved and still achieve professional standards. Remember people in the towns worked very long hours at that time. Such music making is still very much a tradition in parts of Britain today.

The people who played in such groups were not the leisured classes but ordinary people holding down ordinary jobs.

Who said there was no time for music making in past centuries?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 21 May 06 - 07:11 PM

"It is difficult to preserve your own folk traditions if you don't even believe you have folk traditions."

I'm not sure how you are drawing that conclusion. Did either Jim or myself say that we do not believe we have folk traditions? That is far from what I said, and re-reading Jim's note I don't think he was saying that either.

My comments are directed at several cultures here in the U.S. where music and dance were NOT an integral part of their daily lives. Fortunately there were other religions and cultures at work HERE that did have a more encompassing view.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 May 06 - 07:56 PM

The fact that so many Americans so put so much effort into discovering and re-visiting their "roots" surely indicates that the human psyche attaches a deeper meaning to culture or cultural inheritance (I think this may not be the word I want) than simply that which is learned or formally recorded - they are trying to identify something that is part of nature not nurture.

It would also seem that there is a general suspicion of those who adopt in other spheres an inheritance (in this sense) that is alien to them - for example the self professed members of extinct American Indian tribes, who, in full tribal regalia, live in small suburban English houses, rather to the incredulity of their neighbours.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Brendy
Date: 21 May 06 - 08:53 PM

A couple of Chapters..., and a few verses, greg
Music has a tendency to only go underground during puritanical times. Music happens within oneself, and therefore will out.

One must have great respect for the likes of Ann Briggs and Louis Killen, for instance for helping to keep the tradition alive.

There mightn't have been much going on in the centuries you speak of, Jim, but be guaranteed, they sang and danced about it, anyway.

B.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 May 06 - 09:10 PM

Yes, the Baptists even banned sex, lest it lead to folk dancing...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Goose Gander
Date: 21 May 06 - 11:44 PM

"Historically speaking, economic (no money), social (scattered population) and theological (puritanical) conditions here suggest to me that music singing and dancing were unlikely to have been on the agenda for ordinary people in this part of the world during the 16th 17th and 18th centuries. That's all I'm saying."

Re-reading Jim's comments, it seems clear that he believes that there was no northern UK folk tradition to speak of; sorry, but the historical record speaks for itself. I have not the time nor the inclination to look it up, but anyone who cares can prove Jim wrong.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Brendy
Date: 22 May 06 - 01:38 AM

... detail from the link I provided above, Michael.

B.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 22 May 06 - 03:30 AM

sorry to wind you all up so much.
Perhaps my perspective is as narrow as would have been a local resident in 16-18 cent. They didn't travel much unless they joined the army or became packhorse men.
I'm not talking about the whole N of England - just my little patch of about 100 sq miles.

No doubt there are records and collections but they weren't made by illiterate workers. I suspect that the collectors would have been tempted to add a bit. Also, is our correspondent suggesting that the Manchester Hornpipe was written in Manchester? - nice hypothesis and bodes well for the Japanese Hornpipe.

The fact that was born and I live here doesn't make some 19 th century collection of "local" doggerel my own tradition. Two grand parents hailed from distant parts of the known world, one was a professional soldier and I'm not sure about the other.

I've watched modern dialect and folklore collectors at work and have known the old biffers they've interviewed. Veracity of record seems often to have been in inverse proportion to length of interview / number of pints.

Discuss

Cheers all

I'm off out on 't moor wi't whippets now.

Jim


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 May 06 - 04:59 AM

Certainly, none of the seven different Manchester Hornpipes can be definitely proved to have been written in Manchester. These things by the nature are not very well documented. They could possibly all have been written in Japan. But all i am suggesteing is that if you add together vast numbers of references to fiddlers in Lancashire over a long period of time, bagipers etc as well, and vast numbers of tunes with Lancashire placenames in the title with a provenance extending over the 16/17/18/19 centuries: well, the most logical explanation is that there was a fair amount of that kind of dance music around. Of course all these references could have been forged in some strange kind of Dan VBrown conspiracy, and all the tunes actually composed this year in Tokyo. But frankly, I would go for the obvious explanation. Which is that the north of England was cram full of traditional folk music at this period.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 May 06 - 05:06 AM

GUEST Jim: I should add, nobody is trying to make you be interested in north of England traditional music, or to perform it. That is entirely your choice. But to deny its actual existence is just plain pig-headed stupidity, and bolshy with it. Is it perhaps safe to assume you come from Yorkshire?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 22 May 06 - 12:33 PM

Yes it's safe.

But please read carefully what I wrote before firing from the hip again. A good few one-liners occured to me during the exchanges but I refrained from mailing them.

I "contributed" to this thread because the originator seemed to be heading in a dangerous direction (my apoligies to Richard Bridge for meddling in a topic - race and tradition - which has been vehicle excuse for misdeeds in the past). This little eruption of bile may have scotched the thread for good. I hope so.

Yours liberally

Jim and the Whippets (not a band!)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 22 May 06 - 12:48 PM

BuckMulligan,

"I take your point that the annoyance is THERE"

That was my only point.
I made it with the assumption that it would be ignored.
I was almost right.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 May 06 - 01:31 PM

A lot of very good points raised in this thread , but the big problem for me in Richard's initial post is the 'Traditional' tag ! As jacqic
said , raised on 50's/60's pop , WHERE is the tradition ?? I am mostly Irish with a lot of English , brought up in the suburbs of Birmingham - I dont HAVE a tradition - Irish or Morris , Blues or Bluegrass , Jazz or Contra dance , are all muisc forms that I have absorbed SINCE adulthood ! Very few of us actually have ANY real tradition to keep up , only the traditions we adopt .


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 May 06 - 02:43 PM

Leadfingers: it is a commOnplace observation, among people who have spent many years thinking about it, that traditions invisible from outside cannot be seen from inside. Look at woods, invisible inside where all you can see are a few trees around you.
    Another example: I've met a lot of Kurds in the last few years, I can recognise Kurds in the street now from their distinctive walk and body language. I dont recognise anything distinctive about standard white English people walking, they all look different from each. I dont notice the similarites. Same with a lot of cultural things: by no means obvious, when you are up close and personal. You will definitely have a traditional cutlure, even if you dont know what it is. However, it probably doesnt include singing the Nutting Girl and Searching for Lambs and dancing the Roger de Coverley.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Scoville
Date: 22 May 06 - 03:42 PM

It occurred to me the other day that "culture" comes in so many sizes that it can all get very weird. My main culture is that of a white, suburban, middle-class, American. I suppose that culturally, I should be into soft rock and New Christian music.

I don't know about the rest of the world, but in the United States, at least, "foreign" cultures have a tendency to sort of break loose and be adopted by people who don't share the same ancestry but may share the same geographical region an life experiences. It's hardly a new phenomenon and after awhile, the "borrowed" traditions end up being part of a new tradition, which may be based on a lot of things in addition to (though not necessarily exclusive of) ethnic origins. The most obvious example I can think of would be the adoption of African-American musical forms by white musicians, which has been going on for generations now. In the country music traditions, at least, I imagine there was enough of a shared experience of a difficult agricultural lifestyle to easily explain why country blues appealed to white musicians and was blended into their own forms.

I don't have a continuous family tradition of Anglo or Irish folk music (which I could have had since my mother is English/Irish/Welsh, except that her family weren't into that sort of thing), and I'm much too white to justify my German/Swiss/English/French father's lifelong love of blues, gospel, and ragtime. I grew up with contradance music and the standard pop-style folk revival stuff and then slid into things that were nearer the "roots"

My parents learned most of what they knew from recordings, which would probably be smiled-at by a lot of traditionalists but which I think is better than them not learning anything at all, and they taught me their own versions of a lot of songs that meant special things to them. Bingo--family micro-culture. These songs were chosen because they went along with everything else about our lives---they reflected values my parents held, stories or images they loved, or places we had been. Who says that's not my tradition?

We've lived a number of places in the U.S. and theoretically ought to belong to that "regionless" overeducated, liberal, upper-middle class. My brother recently moved to Northern Virginia for graduate school and suddenly realized he's not an Eastern academic type. He calls home every once in awhile pining for open spaces, real Mexican food, and backyard barbecues. Oops. We grew up in Colorado and Texas. We're not the Western/Southern stereotypes but it has definitely had an effect. I've spent enough time in the Midwest and East to sort of know the ropes but I'm not at home there.

I don't sing or play music to be patronizing. I try to learn about origins and to stick with things that mean something to me besides some romanticized ideal. Everybody here knows there aren't any coal miners or sharecroppers in my family (doesn't mean there aren't mining songs I love, but I'm not fooling anyone, nor would I want to). I mostly do old-time and very-early-country (i.e. lots of Carter Family) music, and there are musicians I think are absolutely brilliant but I don't bend over backwards to imitate anyone.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 22 May 06 - 06:39 PM

"My parents learned most of what they knew from recordings"

Which explains why discussions of 'traditions' is meaningless mostly nowadays, in the 'traditional' terms of reference of such discussions...

:-)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 May 06 - 06:53 PM

F oolestroupe: I think you're a bit wrong there, I dont think you've thought about all the ways traditions can be transmitted. Consider the local school where you live. That is where the locaL accent is being passed on, and not just the accent: the style of talking, of walking, of facial expressions, alll sorts of stuff. It doesnt matter if the parents and child have just arrived in the district from 200 miles away, or if the child was born there. They will acquire the same local style. And this is not affected by what the child gets from the parents, as long as the child is fairly young.. They get stuff from their peers, or from those a year or two older.
   I live in Stoke(England). I know a young Rumanian refugee, with a thick Stoke accent. He learnt that in the playground, he didnt come to England till he was 8 (as far as I remember).
   It can be the same with musical traditions. I didnt learn how to play hornpipes from my dad, but I did learn "from the tradition" as they say. It just so happened my dad didnt play hornpipes, though he did play the church organ. And my mum played the flute. But I learnt tunes from other people. Or books,sure, but you dont learn style from books. Style you learn from the air you breathe.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Goose Gander
Date: 22 May 06 - 07:18 PM

Foolestroupe-

It does depend upon how you define 'traditional'. Commercial forms have been a medium of transmission since the days of black-letter broadsides and probably before (the stage, etc.). So I don't think that learning a song from a parent or grandparent who in turn had learned from a recording differs markedly from someone 200 years ago learning a song from someone who got it off a ballad hawker. What's more, it works the other direction as well. In North America, the early 'commercial' country recordings were just as much 'folk' recordings as the stuff recorded by Lomax and others. Recordings, print and oral transmission all have cross-fertilized each other and contributed to the music we love. Also, traditions are more often passed down as ways of interacting with and understanding the world than as specific artifacts. Think of it as a process rather than a product.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 22 May 06 - 07:23 PM

Sigh... I'll explain - but being in contravention of the 'Roger Rabbit Rule' - it won't be funny...

Basically

Greg, your implicit assumptions include the one of personal contact with living people 'performing the tradition'. This is just exactly what is 'broken' when the relatively 'modern capability of recording actual sounds' are used as a basis of 'building tradition'...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 May 06 - 07:33 PM

Foolestoupe: recordings are definitely part of the transmission of traditions, of course they are. I wouldnt dream of leaving them out of the picture, they've been in a dominant picture in our culture for a century. But they didnt completely destroy traditions, they reshaped them. I have just recorded a CD of Cumbrian tunes, for example: that is just as much a part of how we pass the tunes on as any sessions, gigs or whatever. They all interact.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 22 May 06 - 07:40 PM

"they've been in a dominant picture in our culture for a century"

but my original point was, is that now 'traditional'? What when the electricity runs out - does our 'tradition' vanish? What then we will sing around the campfire, burning our last wooden instruments to keep warm?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 May 06 - 07:53 PM

tempora mutantur, et nos mutamur in illis. As they say.
The last three bits of work I did, Foolestroupe, were an acoustic session type gig in a bar, a full-on stage gig with PA and lights, a dance for a union conference, and some CD promotion in relation to organic food outlets and craft shops in Cumbria. There's a good blend of very new technology with millennia-old techniques. The music probably created in the period 1600-19970, though that is difficult to define precisely as a lot of it transforms itself continuously.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 May 06 - 08:18 PM

There are plainly differences between what we perceive as modern cultural givens, and what moves our "inner spirit" (if we have one), yet the tendency I see here is to observe only the measurable vector.

I am not English merely because I was brought up in England (in fact, from the age of 3 to 6 I lived in Australia) nor indeed merely because both of my parents were English, nor because their parents were. What I think I perceive and others here do not is a deeper wellspring of "English-ness". The same applies for other nations with different attributions.

Of course, if that sort of collective subconsciousness does not exist, then it is not surprising that we see the Lancashire toreador, the white college bluesman, the urban English Irishman, the German country and western singer.

On balance it looks as if the soul surfers of folk music are headed the way of the dodo. There is no such thing as an alien (life, Jim, but not as we know it) - which means there is no such thing as a tradition, merely a record of times past.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Goose Gander
Date: 22 May 06 - 08:32 PM

"On balance it looks as if the soul surfers of folk music are headed the way of the dodo. There is no such thing as an alien (life, Jim, but not as we know it) - which means there is no such thing as a tradition, merely a record of times past."

Maybe I'm bone simple, but I have no idea what Richard means by this statement.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Amos
Date: 22 May 06 - 10:27 PM

There is one alien tradition I have often yearned to adapt and could easily learn to love, viz: scooting about the galaxy in a faster-than-light-speed scout vessel and making the natives nervous. I think it would be a lark.

A


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 May 06 - 06:54 AM

Richard Bridge: you're getting a bit philosophical now. Whether there is any such thing as a tradition depends very much what you mean by "tradition". Thatcher famously said "There's no such thing as society", and she was absolutely write in her Oxford tutorial logic chopping mode. There is a set of relationships between individual people. It's just that some other people use the term "society" to describe that construct. She was saying because we invent a word, we haven't invented an object. Much like "religion". Or "tradition". Magritte put it very simply(or possibly very confusingly) by painting a pipe, and writing "This is not a pipe" under it.
However, Richard, whether or not "tradition" exists, or continues to exist,, people will continue to sing and play tunes, whether they are rustic nightingale songs or techno-samba-yurt. And let us hope some of these mixes are tolerable to our grumpy-old-git ears. Otherwise it's back to recordings of William Kimber and Leadbelly. Which are, thank God(does he/she exist?) readily available.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Brendy
Date: 23 May 06 - 11:44 AM

... Plus the fact that 'measureable vectors' are about the only things one can observe about a tradition, however you care to define that word...., and depending on where you stand while doing that observing.
It's the unmeasureable ones that we are trying to define, using a wholly imperfect set of criteria and language.

B.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: autolycus
Date: 23 May 06 - 03:17 PM

I'm rather sorry,Greg, but That 'there's no such thing as society' is nonsense, except in the sense that 'society' is not tangible.

   You might just as well say,"There's no such thing as The United Kingdom", tho' Prime Ministers seem to be able to be first minister of such a no-thing.

   'Course, I might have got the wrong end of the stick.(I do that averagely for a human bean).

   'Society' is no more or less non-existent than 'capitalism', and if that doesn't exist ........ !!!!!!!!!!

   So 'traditions' exist, which some recognise, some don't; some follow, some don't; etc. etc.




    Ivor


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 May 06 - 04:14 PM

Autolycus: this is an old discussion, philosophy that goes round in circles. broadly speaking, it is the question "Is the name of a thing the same as the thing?", and the supplementary question "If the name of a thing is not the same as the thing, is it a new thing".
You have "a lot of people all interacting with each other". Now, if you like, you could call that bit between the quote marks "society". But have you added anything there? Does "society" exist, or is it just a word to describe "a lot of people all interacting with each other".
Does "London" exist, over and above a lot of people, some ground, some buildings etc etc?
   This type of argument is often used in religious discussions. Does the term "God" refer to some entity with attributes? Or is it merely a short-hande term for "the way the universe hangs together". Is, in other words, the whole greater than the sum of its parts? A very old question. Not answerable really, but it can affect your thinking. So, does "London" exist? Does "society" exist? Does "Autolycus" exist. Or, more to the point, does the term"Autolycus" have any use? If we have a description of all the molecules in your body, where they are and what they do, isnt that enough. Does "Autolycus" convery any additional innformation? because, if it doesnt, "Autolycus" does not exist.In practise.
That is the basis of the argument.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: autolycus
Date: 24 May 06 - 03:02 AM

Greg - society exists in the senses that it has its own laws and rules independently of particular individuals. That is,in part, because people, when in groups, behave differently from the ways they do independently, or even in one-to-ones.

    All our laws do not refer to particular individuals or particular pairings to the point where the laws don't function for the benefit of particular individuals or dyads(pairings) but for the benefit of the total group - society.

   That's what the word 'society' is referring to, the totality of the group. So we start to talk of 'society's needs', for shelf-fillers, nurses, brick-makers, children. People do jobs they don't 'want' to do , even do things they don't 'want' to do, because 'society' needs, or wants them.


   BTW, yes 'Autolycos' does contain additional information, namely, one or two of the tendencies/preferences that this collection of molecules has.


   Bestest wishes




    Ivor

   A cursory look at history shows how socities rise and fall in similar ways.

   All of this os designed to demonstrate that altho' 'societies' are not tangible objects, they exist and cause stuff. We are not merely 'a collection of individuals', and we don't function in life as tho' we believed we were merely such a collection. We want to, and we'd be better off if made more effort to, but we act much of the time because we know that 'society', with its laws and requirements, is a fact as well as a word.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST
Date: 24 May 06 - 04:03 AM

I agree, Autolycos. We'd all be a lot better off if we acted as if we were individuals and resisted the efforts of those who seek to group us, classify us - whether by race or tradition or stereotype - and then regulate us accordingly. Its not long since belonging to the wrong tradition got you gassed in a large part of the world.

Jim


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 May 06 - 10:07 AM

I do not think belonging to the tradition was necessary.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Goose Gander
Date: 24 May 06 - 10:31 AM

"Its not long since belonging to the wrong tradition got you gassed in a large part of the world"

So then belonging to that tradition, or any other tradition, is somehow discredited? Then the bad guys really did win after all.

We've wandered from the topic of our discussion, but we're still talking (generally) about either sticking close to home or wandering afield regarding music, etc. Now, what bothers me about Guest Jim's argument that we should act as "individuals and (resist) the efforts of those who seek to group us" is that he seems to be implying that being an 'individual' is liberating and belonging to a tradition is stultifying or even oppressive. If I understand Jim correctly, he has set up one hell of a false dichotomy. The fact that I enjoy hillbilly music and American ballads like my grandfather and fiddle-making great-grandfather does not limit me. Far from it, it gives me a connection to the past and my own family history which I could never get from either pop-culture schlock or 'high-culture' namby-pambyism. I can still listen and enjoy any music I choose (and I do, often enough). Traditions are a foundation, but you can build what you want upon that foundation. Innovation and tradition ideally should complement each other.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Autolycos
Date: 24 May 06 - 10:39 AM

Hear,hear.



    Ivor


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Brían
Date: 24 May 06 - 11:02 AM

Michael,

GUEST appears to be trolling. Categorizing things is one of the most natural things humans do. Regulation doesn't automatically follow.

Brían


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 May 06 - 09:06 AM

If Scottish guitar is different from others surely there must be a tradition, and surely it must be most relevant to Scots.

Scottish Guitar


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: autolycus
Date: 26 May 06 - 02:55 AM

I would have thought so too, tho' there are Scots and Scots



    Ivor


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 20 May 11 - 10:22 PM

As i said in the "performing other trads" thread (in which this one was mentioned), I think the same thing as most of the people who answered my question there, (BTW, thanks everyone who answered, I now have a strong idea of what I should do about becoming a calypsonian), that is that if you want to learn a musical tradition, you should show it proper respect. That could mean not singing or playing something that is sacred or of political significance, or could be construed as offensive, or asking for permission as some people may be uneasy at the thought of "outsiders" performing their music. This is mostly about music with a strong central tradition, but you should also respect the tradition if you are sincere about performing the genre you want to perform but there is no central tradition.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 14 Jul 11 - 07:31 PM

Refresh. Anyone interested in this thread? BTW, I agree with Richard on the point that if someone is superficially knowledgeable on another culture's musical tradition, they have no right to present themselves as a bearer of that tradition. You can only do that if you are immersed in the culture and tradition for a long time.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,DonWise
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 11:14 AM

There seems to be a concept amongst some people here that traditions somehow exist in discrete compartments,hermetically sealed off from each other and from other influences, and any form of mixing/cross-fertilisation should never be allowed. This sets political alarm bells ringing in my head (BNP etc). This concept surely ignores the whole history of the past two hundred years or so. Look at the song lists of the old guys- Harry Cox, Pop Maynard, George Spicer, O.J.Abbott et al- 'english','irish','scottish'- the whole delicatessen! Scottish ballads are widespread in Scandinavia, many folk tales are common to many countries, ditto dance tunes- Soldiers Joy is just as much a swedish tune as english or american. Many of our 'traditional' dances were originally foreign imports. 'Classical' music influences are also present- I play a bridal march from northern Sweden which often brings smiles to faces in the audience. Why? Because it is, more or less,a straight borrowing from part of Carl-Maria von Weber's 'greatest hit' Der Freischütz (sorry, can't think of the english title).And don't forget the mass emigrations of the 19th century. They weren't simply a case of 'down to the docks and hop on the next ship to North America.' For many people travelling to the port meant crossing large tracts of Europe with all the different traditions they possibly encountered on the way. On board ship the traditions started to mix. It's the same today with free movement of people inside the EU, to say nothing of the availability of CDs, tours by musicians, festivals like Sidmouth or Rudolstadt. People play the music they like, and generally try to play it respectfully and well, even if the instrumentation nowadays is anything but traditional. As Shuffy put it earlier- the music is like a cat in that it chooses you. However, whether you choose to immerse yourself in a foreign 'tradition' or prefer to assimilate that music into your own is up to you. At the end of the day, the question is, "What sort of traditions do we want? Living? Preserved in aspic? Or perverted by neo-fascist politicians??


There is another aspect to the political side. One of the reasons so many german musicians latched onto irish music, or more recently balkan, is that, thanks to the Nazis, german folk music was, for decades after WWII, simply discredited. The Dubliners et al offered an untainted music, wild and free, politically unsuspicious in post-war German terms. Singing german traditionals was, and still is to some extent, difficult to do without being branded as tending towards extreme right wing positions. You have to choose your material VERY carefully..........


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 03:29 PM

I personally love the old German songs and sing them in horrible German. I think they need to be preserved and sung. If a song was written especially for the THird Reich though I think it should be left unsung..unless it was about homesickness, the girl he left behind or something universal. We ahve some great German singers where I live and at least one German family sent to relocation camp in WWII. We certainly should sing the old songs from Germany in USA where so much of our population was of German ancestry..and they were treated quite badly especially in WWI. mg


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: Big Ballad Singer
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 05:18 PM

OK, so here's an interesting puzzle for you:

I'm ethnically (genetically, that is, DNA-wise) Scottish and Polish. There were some Irish on the Scottish side of the family, but the Polish side is almost 100% Polish as far back as anyone could tell.

The conundrum arises when I mention that I was adopted at age 2 and have no memory whatsoever of my biological family. My adopted family is German/Hungarian/Romanian on my father's side and Polish (again, almost totally as far as I know) on my mother's side.

I grew up listening to a lot of different kinds of music from early childhood on, and then I discovered folk music and, more specifically, Irish and Scottish songs. The tradition of "rebel songs" and ballads about the heroes of the Irish Republic especially moved (and still move) me.

So, is my love for Irish music and history rooted in my Celtic ancestry, my individual discovery of said music, or both? Why am I not likewise drawn to playing polkas, or chardas or oom-pa songs?

Am I "affecting a persona" when I sing and play, or is some latent, native, organic "self" slowly being realized as I learn and perform more and more of the songs in that particular tradition?

By the way, I can sing the hell out of some blues... and I know whereof I speak. Besides, both Howlin' Wolf and Son House made it clear that ANYONE can have the blues; those whites who were not poor country folk just didn't know what to call them yet.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 08:06 PM

Well..can't say. I personally love the polkas and oompa bands etc.

We were taught by Irish nuns in school..and they and perhaps some mothers were almost terrified by the thought that we would be in a situation some day where we had to dance the schottice and would not know how to. So we would go up and down the gym floor doing 1 2 3 hop 1 2 3 hop..never put it together with twirls or anything..just hopped. Were other people exposed to this fear of not being able to dance the schottice..?I can't spell it but I can sort of dance it. mg


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 08:38 PM

I wonder how those who believe that only someone of a certain nationality/race/ethnicity/culture(and even that is dependent on the individual, as Suibhne Astray said, e.g. someone born in France, for example, or Australia (my home country) or Trinidad or Jamaica to foreign-born European parents is no less French, Australian, Trinidadian, Jamaican or Japanese or wherever country than someone whose parents have never left the country) would react when faced with a performer, born and raised in their home country who was immersed in another culture/ethnicity's musical tradition and respected and thought of as authentic performer by native-born performers (those qualified to judge). I highly doubt (apologies if I'm wrong) that the OP has ever met a Black calypsonian or a reggae artist or Blues artist for more than a few minutes, or asked them whether they would think that a foreign-born performer immersed in their culture and tradition, who was not exploitative and who was respected as an authentic performer within that country should not perform that tradition? Even if they are respected as a performer by native-born performers? Who is qualified to judge who is authentic except respected native-born performers?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 15 Jul 11 - 11:12 PM

In some ways I believe that this is a false argument, because it assumes (wrongly in my opinion) that the matter of authenticity is binary - one either is authentic, or one is not. Not so, I argue. There are degrees involved. In my book the question is not about authenticity per se, but about credibility. And first of all let's knock on the head the matter of having (or not) the "right" to sing songs of a certain tradition. Everyone has the right to sing/play what they like, the issue is how credible they are in doing so. And how does one earn/acquire such credibility.

I joined my first folk club in 1972 and I immediately fell in love with English traditional song. At first, as a floorsinger, I sang only Greek songs. Within months however I became involved in a trio (with a Welsh girl and an English guy) doing English trad material. Was I credible? Not on my own, but in the mix I passed muster, I guess. Did I have the right to do that material? Of course I did!

3-4 years down the line, as a regular floorsinger in clubs I would do songs I liked and felt I could manage. That included much contemporary stuff (the two Taylors provided most of it) but also the odd trad song. Was I credible? Thinking back, no, I still wasn't very credible at all on my own, but people put up with it, bless them.

A further 27 years down the line, by now a member at Herga (well known for its English traditional background), I had a very different appreciation of the material in question, my credibility would have increased after 30 years of listening and singing, and I longed to do it, but faced with some of the stalwarts of the trad scene (Johnny Collins, Dave Webber) I did not dare. Not that I didn't have the right - I respected the material and the audience too much. So I got around it by starting to write my own. Soon enough I started gigging my own material, and slowly I developed further as a performer, until...

...some 3 years ago a radio folk show presenter during an interview suggested that I should attempt traditional songs. She thought I could bring the "Greek lilt" to some of them, to some advantage. It stayed as a back-of-the-head idea until a year ago. Then, with Johnny Collins already sadly gone for one year and seeing that some of the songs he used to do were in danger of being left unsung, I took it upon myself to start learning some of them - the ones that suited my delivery better in my view. I have started singing them occasionally at Herga and I have even sung the Ox Plough Song at festivals a couple of times - in memory of Johnny. I feel that now I have sufficient credibility to do it, and I am even toying with the idea of doing an album of traditional material. In my head I have even selected possible album titles, to give you an idea how seriously I am thinking about it: Either "Trojan" (as in Trojan Horse, alluding to the Greek stealthily entering the English traditional scene) or "None Of My Own" (as in the line "rocking a cradle that's none of my own").

So, if I have earned some English trad material singing credibility in these 33-34 years, to be contemplating such a possibility, how did that happen? I think there are a number of factors involved:

First, increased appreciation of the material itself, its musical, social and historical significance.

Second, listening to the material being sung by many different performers, getting a wide range of perspectives and versions.

Third, improving as a performer myself, mainly through exposure.

Fourth, my own long presence in this society generally, and the folk scene specifically.

Don't misunderstand me, I am not saying that these are the hoops everyone has to jump through - only that it took this to make me more credible in my own eyes and ears, so as to dare to do the material at all. I may still not satisfy more purist criteria. And I would NEVER begrudge anyone the right to do such material, coming from a different culture - it's just that if they are not credible enough in my eyes, I might not like their versions. But the have the right to do it.

Because it's LOVE of the material that buys you the right to do it, I believe.

The rest (practice, exposure, appreciation etc) buys you credibility.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 16 Jul 11 - 11:01 PM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 02:44 PM

Because it is, more or less,a straight borrowing from part of Carl-Maria von Weber's 'greatest hit' Der Freischütz

Though it might be the borrowing was the other way, from a tune in the German tradition. It certainly always sounds that way to me. As if it matters.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Adopting Alien Traditions
From: GUEST,Robert E
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 04:48 PM

I'm an Anglo Irish American (as far as I can tell without further DNA testing) who was born in the suburbs of a large east coast metropolitan city.

What kind of music am I allowed to play?


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